Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mandy Morbid’s post- now with open commetns

Please read and share:

I’ve opened comments; do as you will.
Fair warning I suffer from PTSD due to an abuser. I have nothing but support and respect for Mandy.
Go elsewhere for your fair and balanced.

Dear Zak Smith, aka Zak Sabbath
I know posting anything about you or this publicly will get me labeled “angry”, “crazy” or a “liar”. Despite that, I still need to speak. As a warning, there will be potentially triggering descriptions of abuse, violence and sexual assault to follow.
What I want to convey is my grief. And my shame. There is so much of it. I think when women come forward to talk about their abusers people strip them of their grief. And I am not okay. And I should be angry but I can’t be because the shame is too great. Because the abuse had me taking responsibility for everything and it’s very difficult to stop that after all these years. Everything was always my fault, the problem was me–but it wasn’t.
Eleven years is a long time. I was twenty one when we met in person the first time, and a month later, 22 when I moved in with you. It’s difficult to organize my thoughts about everything that happened, everything that went wrong over a decade.The abuse came in cycles where there were times you seemed to idolize me (in hindsight there was a twisted, sexist, infantilizing angle to the “idolizing” because it was always about my body and not me as a person). There were other times when you tore me down, made lectures that went in circles of manipulation, or fits of rage where you’d scream that I was useless and worthless and slam doors or throw things at the walls. You tore me down to manipulate me, and to get your way.
As time went on you learned you could threaten me in various ways. Killing me if I ever got pregnant and didn’t have an abortion started as a joke but you repeated it so frequently it was clearly a warning. Kick me out if I didn’t want to have as much sex, or lesser reasons.
When we would go out, you would rate the women you were watching, making sure I could hear it. You would see a woman and comment that she was attractive, until you saw she had “small” breasts. Then you would say to me “why do they even make them like that? What’s the point?” As though I automatically would agree with you about a woman’s worth being dictated by the size of her breasts. And how was that supposed to make me feel about myself? You would know that I would not want to start an argument on a nice evening out–finally I was feeling well enough to be out with you and I would ruin it? No. Even in the face of rude or disgusting comments about other women I would stay silent.
I am ashamed. I was often silent because I wanted to keep the peace. To keep you happy. You see, I did know how to make you happy. I am ashamed I did it because I rationalized that was love. You pressured me to find and groom other women sexually. As I grew sicker, and my physical limitations grew, you were more concerned with your own needs than my illness. Eventually, even, you took my doing this for you, and me, for granted.
I saw you mistreat women we were with together, and again I was silent. I choose you over them and I am deeply ashamed. And when it was me who was being mistreated I often didn’t even register it as such because the first time it happened was so traumatic. You told me I wasn’t allowed to stop or say no to sex or fooling around if we’d already initiated it.
I was young and this was during the first few weeks we lived together and no one had ever taught me about consent. You were extraordinarily angry I had stopped, your hands were clenched into fists and they were shaking. I was programmed to accept it, and you always just kept telling me you loved me even if your behaviour never really proved it.
Then you started with the online gaming arguments nonsense, and that put a real crack in our bond. In the beginning I felt genuinely protective of you, my provider, and of course that was my very strong trauma bond. I didn’t know better, and I just thought I was caring for the person I loved. Callously, you exposed me to death and rape threats and you then never took the distress this caused me seriously, you were in no way sympathetic to the very real stress these disagreements caused. You enjoyed it. And you gloated over the harm you caused other people. (It was extremely unattractive.) You just used those threats we received as an excuse, used me and my marginalized identities as shields in your continuing misbehaviour online.
That Tumblr post defending you was posted in my name, but you were the one who wrote it. The long one you always referred people to. I feel more shame that I let you use my name, my identity in that way. I feel shame that when people noticed it probably wasn’t written by me, we called them sexist. After that Tumblr post I told you I was done being involved in any of your arguments online. You really didn’t like that. You forever afterwards accused me of “never saying anything” when you were dealing with the shit you’d stirred up.
I am so ashamed you let me get dragged into your awful trolling behaviour. One time you had a screaming/throwing fit at me (“useless,” “worthless,” “no one cares about me”) because I didn’t want to retweet something to a big gaming company you were mad at. This was all abuse. That you continue to behave so badly online disgusts me, and I am ashamed that I helped you to hurt or damage others online. I am sorry that I have contributed to the abuse, and I am ashamed that your abuse pushed me to think that it was okay to do.
This behavior is what created the cracks in the narcissistic façade that you built up for me. Seeing the behavior that you normally directed towards me being directed towards others started to open my eyes towards what you were doing to me.
It was then that I slowly began to reassess how you treated me. This process started very slowly as I was extremely ill. And needed to focus on my health and I couldn’t shake my life up too dramatically.
Over the next two or three years my faith and trust in you completely failed. You let me down over and over. And I came to terms with the fact that I had been a trophy wife all along, an object that was owned, not a respected or loved partner. Towards the end you weren’t even trying to keep that mask you wore in the beginning on you were just straight up cruel and cold and abusive and there were no reprieves of loving or sweet acts, it was all gaslighting and narcissism gone unchecked. And there was a lot of my grief and shame at that time. Because I tried so hard to make it work anyway.
I thought if I loved harder, if I loved more I could save us but it was futile because you were already done with someone who wasn’t spending all their energy on living to please you as I’d formerly done.
I’ve grown up. I want to live my life for me. My values and morales don’t align with yours–I’m ashamed I was complicit in your misogyny and supportive of your online abuse (whatever my reasons).
I only began to register the pain and damage done to me by this relationship in the last year we were together and in the year and half since I’ve left. I have PTSD. I am doing my best to focus on healing, and since leaving both my mental and physical health have improved. I’m not okay yet, but I am improved. People can see the difference in photos. Rebuilding a life after a decade of trauma takes time but I will get there.
After this I am including statements about Zak from Jennifer, a long time friend and lover of Zak’s and mine and Hannah who was also involved with us and lived with us briefly. Jennifer was spending time with Zak before Zak and I met, and Hannah was assaulted by Zak.
CW description of sexual assualt
Jennifer’s post was originally posted to her facebook and she’s given me permission to reshare it here:
Hey guys, this is a heads up for anyone who is friends with Zak Smith or likes his page. This is somewhat out of the blue but he’s been posting more in the past year or so and I keep seeing some of you interact with him or just liking his posts, and thinking: You wouldn’t be doing that if you knew him better.
To get to the point: While he comes across as a fun person who is super cool with everything and leads such a compelling and interesting life, and I considered him a good friend for a significant amount of time, he’s also someone who has habitually abused and assaulted women. He talks negatively about them when they’re not around, and also says really degrading things to their faces. He will aggressively pursue sex and rely on the fact that most women are hesitant to reject a man in a quasi-sexual situation due to safety concerns and social conditioning. Especially when he has presented himself as caring and trustworthy. But I’ve also seen him physically take women and start fucking them, ignoring their lack of enthusiasm or freeze of shock. He will navigate kink spaces and take someone’s presence there, of general involvement in bdsm as implied consent to assualt them. And he is fully aware of what he does, he has described a sexual encounter to me as, I quote, “raping a 12-year-old”. The person in question was not underage, but so massively uncomfortable that this was his most apt description. It didn’t make him stop.
He’s really good at being so blasé about everthing that you doubt what happened or compartmentalize it, then move on. He’s also good at talking the talk and walking the walk of being the progressive liberal artist and author who is just so open about having done porn and living his sexuality uninhibited by social norms or whatever. He can be pretty manipulative and resorts to gaslighting.
This post might seem unnecessary at best, and like slander at worst. Especially considering I haven’t even personally seen him since god knows when. It’s based on my own experiences with him, some dating as far back as 2005, and the fact that almost every mutual female friend has similar experiences, up to this day. Ultimately I’ve seen him do so much fucked up shit that when I hear anything by another woman I immediately believe them without a shadow of a doubt. And yes, I’m ashamed I didn’t speak up sooner. Often things only start falling into place after time passes and you see things for what they are, and when they are confirmed by others who have had similar experiences. By the time I really fully grasped the magnitude, being vocal would have meant intruding on and hurting people who didn’t deserve it, with little discernable good to come out of it.
Basically if you know me and trust me, believe me and maybe reconsider your support of him and his art. Besides that I’m not asking you to do anything. And I don’t benefit from any sort of outcome in any way.
I’m posting this to a curated audience; if you see this I trust you to at least not create drama. If you don’t believe me, I guess just ignore this post? Although I’d prefer if you removed yourself from my list then too. I don’t want this to reach him because I don’t want to deal with the fallout. I want people to know this to make a better informed decision about who they associate with. The last I heard of him was a few months ago, after he saw that a friend had confided in me about him, and he slid into my inbox with some disingenious bullshit about how sad he was about that situation, trying to influence my opinion. I ignored it. If something like that happens again I will obviously know that someone on this list blabbed and will pretty much delete and block anyone it could have been. Please don’t make me deal with all that trouble. Thank you.
And here is Hannah’s account:
Back when I first knew them, I lauded Manda and Zak as a perfect couple. I would see them only once every few years, and when I was with them, they seemed happy. It wasn’t until I was with them for an extended period of time that I thought things seemed off. I used to take Zak’s general demeanor towards women as joking. Eg, “if I talk to my girlfriend and her friend about their feelings, will I get a threesome out of it?” But now I think that’s how Zak actually feels. At first when I kept hearing him say the phrase “chin up” to Manda, I thought he was just telling her to stay positive, but in actuality he didn’t like it when she had a tiny double chin when looking down. (Like all humans at that angle.) He also told her things like “You don’t need glasses, its more important for you to be pretty than it is to see” and “If you can’t even have sex, what good are you?” It was not a joke. For a long time I tried to see the good in him, and hoped that he would change his behaviours once Manda confronted him about them, but he didn’t seem to understand that he had done anything wrong. She told him she felt more like a doll than a human, outlined what things had upset her, and wanted to work towards a better relationship. He acted ignorant about things he had said or done, and then threatened people when anyone talked about him. (Which is why I was afraid to write this for a long time. I still am.) There was also a strange incident when we were first hanging out together during which he asked if I was into kinky stuff, to which I replied yes. He proceeded to slap me and choke me against a wall, in public. Now, in a bedroom setting, with clear boundaries and consent, it would have been fine, but out of the blue and in public, it was not okay at all. Years later, I mentioned this to a mutual friend as something that made my uncomfortable, and when Zak found out he made a half-hearted apology attempt. I don’t think he actually felt bad, I think he just didn’t want me to tell anyone else. I tried to stay friends with both of them for a little while, but after hearing more about what he said/did to Manda, I couldn’t keep him in my life anymore. She is one of my best friends and one of the sweetest people I know. I don’t understand people who say they “can’t take sides” on something like this.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths

Save Vs Conan: The Monster of the Monoliths
Conan the Barbarian #21, December, 1972
Roy Thomas/ Barry Windsor Smith

The Makkalet Epic chronicles the siege of the titular city. It runs through issues 19-26 of Conan the Barbarian. It’s a flurry of battles; captures and escapes. Conan switches sides a couple of times, and leaves the entire area only to return more than once, too. These are the last of BWS issues,and the first of John Buscema’s. Red Sonja makes her first appearance in issue 24 (BWS’ last).  

In issue 21, after getting the sexy-eye and a fancy armlet from the queen Conan leaves Makkalet with a band of soldiers, bound for  an ally of the city to request aide. The soldiers stop along the way. They kidnap some hapless girl and tie both her and Conan to slabs of stone set between two large stone blocks. A giant frog thing is summoned and it kills a bunch of guys- but seems really focused on Conan. The armlet given to him by the queen has the exact same runic markings as the monolith. Both sets of script are glowing. Conan realizes the armlet attracts the monster. He tosses it to one of the soldiers. The frog monster eats the dude and vanishes in a puff of smoke. 

This one seems to be useable in a variety of settings and genres.
Here, however, are the key components:
A traitorous power with lackeys
A poisoned gift(s) (i.e., something that attracts the monster- like the armlet).
A journey with a seeming purpose
A battleground (e.g., temple; center of ring of standing stones; arena; rouge asteroid; highway- really, wherever). 
A monster (e.g., frog demon; warbot; dragon; Hulk, whatever). The entity vanishes, destructs or just leaves after the destruction of the poisoned gift. 

I suggest, that rather than taking all the PC’s stuff and leaving them tied to a slab naked, that the referee use a little more finesse.  Have the lackeys lead  the PCs to the battleground, and leave them there, trapped, somehow; but with gear and weapons intact. The monster should be formidable enough that it wont matter. 
There should be some dark hints and foreboding leading up to all this - and at least one opportunity for the PC’s to suss out the trap. I find that whether the PCs get fooled or not, the results to such a scam are very satisfying on both side of the screen, but only if there was a viable way out at some point. 
Otherwise, it’s cheating. 
Either way- the players are going to want revenge upon the giver of the poisoned gift(s), which will lead to its own set of adventures. 

Google +pk

So it’s just about over on G+. Yesterday notifications stopped working and I gave up.
You can contact me here- just make a commetn in any old post and I get an email even if it’s from 2009.
Or you can just email me- the address is the same “themetalearth at gmail dot com” don’t forget the “the” or it goes to someone else on another continet.
My instagram (where  post finished art only) is linked on the right side as is my discord tag. i have server too, you can join. i don’t expect mush will happen there, though.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Save VS Conan PSA

PSA: Save vs Thomas/BWS Conan

Normally, this feature will deal with specific stories from specific comics- but due to circumstances beyond my control I’m going to make a PSA.
This book, containing BWS entire run and a ton of cool extras, came out earlier this week. It is as cheap as it’s ever going to be right now. Roy Thomas is THE comic book conan writer- no one comes close. BWS is THE Conan artis (right behind John Buscema, I mean). 
I am not affiliated with IST- but I love comics and I want YOU to have comics. It’s what Crom wants too. Sadly, by Crom only the ugly cover remains. That’s how civilized folk are. In Cimmera everyone would have gotten the same cover or none at all!

I’ve also heard that a lack of regular Conan comics is associated with ED. 

Rpg uses- there’s a useable adventure seed in pretty much every issue. We’ll get to a few inthe near future. 
 Edit: This is not a recolor- but it is on white glossy paper- and is a new printing so it will look different than your originals. Pictured below on the left is the DH recolor; to the right is the current omnibus. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cutting Online Screen Time

Reducing My online screen time
Lately, I’ve been making a solid attempt to reduce my screen time in general and my active online time especially. I am also interested in restoring my attention span. I’m not really talking about research or destination reading. 

I could just avoid going online altogether, but that hasn’t worked so well for me in the past. 

With that out of that out of the way:

What I don’t like about the internet:
It’s a distraction, an emotional and intellectual drain and a barrier to getting work done- in short, when used without moderation, the internet is not so much a waste of time as it is an active pollutant of time. If you think it’s harmless, cool. Get lost, as implied above, I have no time for you. 

How do we reduce online screen time? The answers are simple, but require effort to put into practice: also all of these come with an unwritten “when/where it’s possible” clause

  1. Commit to the physical world to whatever degree you can manage. If you want to do this you must want to do it.
  2. This is the key- fight fire with fire. If the internet is a barrier and a distraction- it is in part due to its infinite nature. These days, whenever I feel the urge to get online- I find something else to do until the urge passes. I read a comic book; or a chapter from a novel; or walk the dog; or do some pull ups; I can even write a blog post. If I am working- I work. There are probably a dozen or more better ways to spend your time within arms reach of you right now. I think it’s best to keep the distractions shortish in the beginning- unless you can be consumed by work or reading or a movie marathon or what have you, in which case this is a very good option.
  3. It’s probably best to work at reducing your screen time ingeneral. Turn your devices off if you can. This creates a moment to resist the impulse to go on line, “just for a minute.” 
  4. Go back to or engage with physical media whenever it is feasible. Collecting physical media is another good distraction. 
  5. If possible keep your new activities close at hand ready to go instantly.
  6. Infinite choices are your true enemy: when you do go online, plan your consumption; go with a destination and purpose. This includes stuff like streaming movies- it’s best if you know what you want ahead of time. An hour browsing Netflix is no better than an hour arguing about class and level limits for the 70th time. I get my movies from the bargain bin; the choices are generally way better than what you can stream; but I’d rather pay full price than spend half the night looking for something that doesn’t suck- finite choices are your best friend. 
  7. Online shopping isn’t so bad if you have at least an idea of what you want. Sometimes it’s the only way. But if you want to browse without the internet, go to a used bookstore or even a B&N; they all sell movies and vinyls now. Buy camping gear; go camping. Find something amongst the finite choices that interests you- and then go buy it online for less money- unless it’s cheaper in meatspace, in which case buy it there.  
  8. Keep in touch with text, calls or email, not social media. This is pretty key.
  9. Get an NES classic.
  10. That’s all I got; any suggestions

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fractal Setting 2

Pic unrelated?

Heroes: Individuals who sacrifice their own interest in service to those who are unable to help themselves. Heroes often, but not always, have special resources, skills and/or powers. 
Heroes can work alone or in groups. Both egalitarian and hierarchical groups  exist.  Heroes generally arrange hierarchies  based upon experience and intelligence.  Hero motivations vary, but the greater good is nearly always the foundational philosophy of the hero. 

Villains: Individuals driven by selfishness and greed, often remorseless; power hungry; murderous and cruel.  Villains always have a hierarchy based on power and fear. Fear is power. Most villains, regardless of their place in the hierarchy,  have similar goals: To gain, expand and exploit turf. Villain hierarchies are generally arranged in a pyramid style. The desires of the chief villain have more impact on the arrangement of the pyramid than the power of fear. Villains often feel they have a monopoly on the use of violence. 
Governments operate in exactly the same manner as villains. 

Citizens: The vast and overwhelming majority of beings who live and die in the turf the villains exploit and the heroes protect. All citizens are in danger all the time, but citizens attached to a hero in even the most ephemeral way are in constant danger from every imaginable sort of hazard, ranging from abduction to cancer to meteor strike- anything can (and will) happen to these people. 

Forces: Inscrutable beings of immense personal power. Forces act according to their own mysterious and motivations, often with catastrophic consequences. Forces manifest  in countless ways; some examples: a living planet; a giant life hating robot; planet eating space monsters; a vast, sentient space storm bent on the eradication of everything; and a swarm of hive minded space bugs

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Save Vs. Comics # 1


Thimble Theatre Presents: “Witch Whistle” 
22 pages
Bud Sagendorf
Popeye # 12 
Currently available in Popeye classics V3 Ed. Christopher Yo. 

Elements of note: 
Recurring Villain; powerful magic item (the titular whistle); unbalanced adventure party; nautical and airborne action; mystery; escape. 

Synopsis: The farmers of Spinichovia are disappearing. Ignorant of the crisis, Popeye, Olive and Wimpy arrive on the coast. Giant vultures abduct Olive and Wimpy, fly the pair to a hidden castle and lock them up with about a hundred farmers all of whom are nearly identical (clones?).

Soon after their incarceration, Olive and Wimpy discover that the Sea Hag is in charge of the castle; furthermore, she controls millions of giant vultures with her magic whistle. She used the giant birds to kidnap the farmers. The Sea Hag never really explains her plan in regards to the farmers. 

Discovering that Popeye is nearby, the Hag sends 500 vultures to slay him. Popeye defeats the vultures, but falls from the sky, smashes through the roof of the castle and into he dungeon, where he meets Olive and Wimpy. 

In the course of their subsequent escape attempt, the trio encounters the Sea Hag, who proposes matrimony to Popeye. Eschewing the customary can of spinach, Olive opts to open a family size can of whupass instead. Beaten within an inch of her life, the Sea Hag survives, but in a subdued state. Popeye and company take her whistle and, using the vultures, return all the farmers to their homes. 
The end.

This story, like many Popeye stories, invokes a mood that lies at a right angle to both high and low fantasy and emanates a  sort of whimsical, fairytale vibe instead. The art style mirrors this perfectly, giving equal weight to swashbuckling adventure; character warmth; slapstick, tall tale physics and fantasy. 

5 cans of spinach out of 5


Science Fiction: Pilots and navigators have been vanishing from the local spaceport. Star-Kahn a notorious space pirate possess advanced mind control technology. Using an army of rogue robots moving through a secret tunnel complex beneath the space port, Star-Kahn kidnapped the spacers. He intends to brainwash them into crewing his armada. His captives are hidden in a domed city somewhere far away from the space port. Star-kahn requires a special cybernetic implant to control the robots. 

The adventure begins upon the discovery of the hidden tunnels. Where do they lead- to answers- or horrible death? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fractal Superhero Setting creation 1

(Image from Cosmic Tales #1)

Fractal Campaign Creation 

A complex and satisfying campaign requires a solid and coherent setting. Superhero settings range in scale from a single city to a multiverse and often encompass elements such as time travel and alternate reality as well. 
Despite this variation in scope, most settings and sub-settings share a similar array of traits, differing from one another in degree, but not kind. This similarity in characteristics, regardless of scale, allows one setting to be nested within another, i.e., a neighborhood within a city; a city within a country; a country within a continent; a continent on a planet; a planet in a solar system; a solar system in a galaxy; a galaxy in a cluster; a cluster in a universe;  a universe in a multiverse and so on. 

These traits are as follows:

Four classes of sentient beings exist: Villains; citizens; superheroes and forces; each engages reality with unique motivations; behaviors and philosophies.

Environment is often, at least in part, a reflection of the villain(s) and, in game terms, should be thought of as an hostile NPC. Otherwise environment should contain several landmarks, hazards, wonders and mysteries. 

History reduces to the following: The beginning; the good old days; the disaster- which leads up to the present, AKA: This fallen world. 
Each class of sentients views the same history through a different lens. 
Origins profoundly impact the present.
Historically speaking, everyone feels put upon. 

Turf belongs to someone. Turf unprotected will fall to chaos. Villains claim their turf in an explicit and hierarchal manner; heroes, perforce operating in the same territory, assert their claim in much more passive, implicit and (often grudging) egalitarian manner. Turf wars manifest in many different ways and provide the initial impetus for numerous conflicts.