Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

I was challenged by Super Author Jonathan Maberry to do the ice water challenge to raise money for ALS. I’d seen something about it online, but didn’t now what the deal was. Apparently you do it, and then challenge three people who have 24 hours to do it to, or they donate money to ALS research.

http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

As those of you who read this blog know, I’m always willing to do stupid crap for charity! I didn’t do it within 24 hours (last day of summer vacation and taking the kids mini golfing was far too important) but I did it this morning. So I am happy to be donating money.

In turn I challenged International Film and Television Star Nick Searcy, Comic Book Legend Chuck Dixon, and because Super Author Jim Butcher threw a cup at me on Saturday I’m throwing a bucket at him. :)

 

No, Tor.com, GenCon Isn’t Racist. A Fisking.

I read this article before arriving in Indianapolis, so I was able to ponder on it a bit as I observed the gleeful masses at GenCon enjoying themselves and having a fantastic time proudly flying their geek flags high. Little did those poor gamers realize that they were actually engaging in racist-cismale-patriarchal-micro-aggressions and invisible privilege. Luckily for us Tor.com has once again swooped in to suck the fun out of everything.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/08/gamings-race-problem-gen-con-and-beyond 

As usual, the original article is in italics and my comments are in bold. Before I get going, let me just skip ahead a bit and say that the author of this article says he wanted to have a conversation on race in gaming. Okay. Here you go. Be careful what you wish for.

First off, so you know my preexisting biases, here is my opinion on GenCon: http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/18/gencon-2014-report/ In short, it is friggin’ awesome.  

Gaming’s Race Problem: GenCon and Beyond

A.A. GEORGE

 

Tomorrow I will be attending GenCon, the biggest table-top gaming convention in the United States. Held in Indianapolis, Indiana, it is four fun-filled days in celebration of the art and hobby of role-playing. There is something for everyone there: games, films, seminars, workshops, dancing, music, and parties. It’s an annual event where people from all over the world come to let their hair down and their inner geek out. As a lifelong gamer, I am excited to go to GenCon.

This is standard operating procedure with Tor.com articles, start out with an intro about how something everyone enjoys is great fun before they helpfully explain how it is actually horrible, and thus you should feel bad. They even did the same thing explaining how Guardians of the Galaxy hates women, minorities, and gay people. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/08/guardians-of-the-galaxy-we-need-to-talk

As an ethnic minority, I am apprehensive about going to GenCon.

Seriously?

For all that GenCon offers, it lacks in minority gamers.

Huh? Not particularly, but we’ll get back to that.

Last year was my first GenCon, and as I explored the convention, I saw almost no one who looked like me.

Why? Are you physically fit?

By far, the most visible minorities at GenCon were the hired convention hall facilities staff who were setting up, serving, and cleaning up garbage for the predominantly white convention-goers.

Think about that for a moment… George is upset that the employees of the Indianapolis convention center, an establishment which is located in the downtown area of a major American city is staffed by locals who are demographically different than the masses of attendees from all over America who have the disposable income to travel across the country just to engage in their hobbies.

His problem isn’t with GenCon, it is with Econ 101, geography, and social studies.  

 It was a surreal experience and it felt like I had stepped into an ugly part of a bygone era, one in which whites were waited upon by minority servants.

I’m guessing George hasn’t ever eaten at any fast food restaurants in any urban area anywhere in America. Why yes, I did notice that there were African-Americans working there, but according to the 2010 census the whole city of Indianapolis is 28% black, and if I’m getting my geography right http://zipatlas.com/us/in/indianapolis/zip-code-comparison/percentage-black-population.htm , the neighborhoods around the convention center are up to 74% black.

Strangely enough, the employees are of a similar ethnic makeup when I’m at an event in Atlanta, NYC, or DC, yet when I walk around the SLC ComicCon in a city that is only 2.7% black and 22% Latino, the local employees cooking my burgers look different. LA and San Diego conventions have more Latinos working there. Gasp! You mean the local employees are people who live where the con is?

This bit would be like hosting a WorldCon in Bejing, flying there, and then getting upset that the employees of the convention center are Chinese, and how it hearkens back to the days when westerners had Chinese immigrants doing their laundry.

All that is besides the fact that these are just regular people with jobs, and if you treat them like “servants” the security will remove you from the building. If you somehow mistake people being employed by a convention center as the equivalent of house slaves in the antebellum south you may want to reexamine your notions of how things like jobs work.

Gaming has a race problem. For all its creativity and imagination, for all its acceptance of those who find it hard to be themselves in mainstream society, gaming has made little room for people of color.

I’m calling bullshit on this one. After reading this ridiculous article I was curious, and paid more attention than I normally do to what the people around me looked like over the last few days. Since I’m not a Social Justice Warrior I usually just judge individuals based on the content of their character, but this is for Tor.com, so I was on the lookout.

What did I find? All sorts of people too busy having fun to give a shit what color the person standing next to them was.  Having traveled all over most of America, I saw a group of people that looked basically like America, only these were all united in their love of gaming and having a great time.

Wild ass guess, as if I’m back in the corporate world preparing a mandatory EEOC report blacks are statistically under-represented. Asians were probably over represented. On the Latinos it is hard to tell, because as we learned from NPR last week, it is hard to pick us out when we don’t wear sombreros for easy identification. http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/07/fisking-npr-about-latinos-in-the-movies/  

Having read this on the way in, and not having paid attention last year, George made it sound lily white. It isn’t. Not even close. There were also lots of people of indeterminate ethnicity, folks like Owen who’d check the Other box, and women… Holy moly. GenCon has lots of female attendees. Maybe I’m biased because I was on the writing track for most of it and maybe aspiring writers are disproportionate, but I’d guess 70/30 male to female ratio, and considering the social stereotypes about gamers being dorky or uncool, that strikes me as pretty damned good. 

I couldn’t tell you about the gay or transgender percentages because I didn’t think it was polite to ask.  “Hey dude, yeah, I think X-Com is awesome too. Were you always a dude? Uh huh.” Checks box.

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that…

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.”

–Scott Woods, author and poet.

And so on… So basically what this quote says is that everything is insidious racism somehow.

Yay. So from this premise, everybody is racist all the time, even unconsciously. Fantastic.  

To those of us who actually have to function as grown-ups in society, the dictionary definition of Racism is:

noun

1.

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2.

a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3.

hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Did I see any of that at GenCon? Nope. Zip. Zero. Everybody seemed cool.

Did I see unconscious micro-aggressions and invisible privilege?  Beats the hell out of me. I’m not a mind reading Social Justice Warrior, constantly perched like a falcon, ready to swoop in to right wrongs.

I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. The child of immigrants, I struggled between cultures.

I get that. I truly do. I grew up in a Portuguese culture in a really poor dairy farming town, where the men were manly men, problems were solved with fists and the problems that couldn’t be solved with fists were dulled with beer, reading books was a waste of time that could better be spent milking cows, and D&D was for worshipping the devil.

I was the only non-white kid in the neighborhood and one of only a half-dozen minorities in my high-school.

In my school, half of us could speak English. Half of those could read.

 I was an outsider.

Try being an outspoken republican at WorldCon sometime.

I found refuge in Dungeons & Dragons in my freshman year. I could escape who I was in those heroic characters and epic stories. I could be someone I was not. I could be strong. I could be fierce.

I could be white.

Whoop de fricking doo. I could be a half-orc.

As an awkward teen, like other awkward teens, I wanted to be accepted. But acceptance meant something different to me, as perhaps it does to other minority teens.

You ever notice that SJWs are always perpetually reminiscing about the wrongs they suffered in high school? Yes, you are a special snowflake, unique among all the snowflakes. How could the average gamer nerd attendee of GenCon possibly understand what it was like to be an AWKWARD TEENAGER?!

Acceptance meant being white.

The broad acceptance that white people enjoy is the unspoken—but clearly visible—rule of our society, reinforced through a thousand structures and symbols. It pervades everything around us, reminding everyone that white people are the center of the story, no matter what story is being told.

Or it could be that all of RPG gaming originated when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax added a narrative to a war game, and war gaming was historically an upper middle class activity, so most of the original gamers were educated white males who came from that social strata. And at the time the only huge thing in fantasy was LoTR and the early game creators drew upon Tolkien’s works to establish worlds that were based on a northern European setting. Most of the first and second generation gamers worked with what they were familiar with, and being descended from western culture, there was a whole lot more western culture source material to take inspiration from. Since our hobby is a relatively recent development in American culture, it has taken a while for it to evolve from its granddaddy progenitor.

Naw… Can’t be that. It must be racism. Because obvious.

As a kid who desperately wanted to belong and fit in, white was the color of god.

Literally. Because he is very shiny.

Most games—the genres, the artwork, the characters, the stories—were Eurocentric and white. It was easy, perhaps even expected, to be white when playing a character. I was always Eric, or Gunthar, or Francois; I was never a person of color.

That just shows a massive lack of imagination on your part. My first childhood character was grey-green (and my strength was 18/00 because I cheated at character creation, but that was the perk of being the only kid at the table smart enough to figure out 2nd edition rules. THAC0!)

My name was never my name.

Trust me on this one. My parents didn’t call me Bahutarg. We named the dog Bahutarg. 

(And no, that isn’t the Indiana Jones reference, I literally had a Queensland Healer I named after a PC.)

And no one thought it was strange that I played people so different from myself.

The beauty of gaming is that you can be things different than yourself if you want. I suppose you could be yourself… If you’re BORING. 

It has been a long and complex road to finding myself, and comfort in my own skin and ethnic identity.

My all-time favorite character I’ve ever played for a long campaign was a samurai named Makoto. For those of you who read this blog you know I wrote up a novel worth of character journals, and I’m fairly certain I’m not Japanese.

In my current IKRPG campaign I’m playing an investigator that is a rip off of Luther, and yes, I look like Idris Elba. This week at GenCon I played Amiri the female barbarian pregen in a Pathfinder game (and killed a gelatinous cube with a shovel), and the next night I played a berserker as if I was Danny Trejo. I named him Asahino de Vagos (that’s Murder Hobo to you pasty faced gringos), I had the Lady of the Lake tattooed on my chest, and I only spoke in lines from Machete*. When we faced the boss I greeted him with Hola Motherfucker and stabbed him in the face.

How’s that for finding yourself?

* I’ll admit, when we entered the Forest of Doom, and I said “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” that was a bit of a stretch.

The first step was simply realizing that white wasn’t the only color of value. It came in drops: a character in a movie or a book that was of my ethnicity, who I could empathize with and imagine myself as. These characters, when they appeared, gave me my own heroes, heroes that were like me.

Good for you. And the average suburban white bread kid isn’t a Halfling rouge. Play whatever makes you happy.

Gaming never afforded me those options.

Yes. It. Did.  I’m 39 and even in ye olde tymes before the internet in the land of staunch Catholic “D&D and heavy metal lead to Satanism” I got my grubby little hands on sourcebooks with all sorts of different world settings. I don’t know how old this writer is, but in my teenage years Forgotten Realms had books like Dragonwall, Parched Sea, and Feathered Dragon. (and holy shit, I can’t believe I remember that!)

Not to mention settings like Dark Sun, where you could play a Mule, but who cares what race you are there, because you’re ALL GOING TO DIE.

I had to force them, going against the pressure to conform. The pressure was so intense that the first time I played a character of my own ethnicity was actually online.

In online gaming, nobody knows who anybody is, unless they say they’re a 16 year old girl then they are either an undercover cop or Melvin the Troll. This was especially true in the days before voice chat, so unless this blogger is really young, he is the only person who knew what race he was. If the only person who knows what you are is you, and you’re still hung up about it, you’ve got a problem, and it isn’t what 50,000 ambivalent strangers in Indiana think.

 Eventually, I did become confident enough to bring non-white characters to the table, but I still sometimes faced puzzled looks, and questions about ‘whether I was trying to make a statement’ when all I wanted was to simply be me.

It is possible that George’s game group was just made up of morons, which does happen, but considering this guy is so intellectually dishonest that he has no problem ascribing racist motives to complete strangers because of the psychological hang ups he picked up as a kid, I’m guessing the puzzled looks from his game group were probably due to “oh, what the fuck are you spun up about now, George?” more than invisible privilege or whatever it is we’re supposed to be outraged about this week. 

I don’t think there are official surveys and statistics on the gaming subculture, but perhaps this study on the top 100 domestic grossing films in science-fiction and fantasy is an indication of similar trends in gaming: There are only eight protagonists of color in the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy films. Six are played by Will Smith and one is a cartoon character (Aladdin). None of these protagonists are women of color.

Yeah, already went through why that particular survey was utter crap in the link above talking about NPR. If you don’t want to click on that link, in short, as a retired auditor the stats were laughable, but I’d encourage you to read it, because poking out the obvious holes in it was pretty funny. 

Things are changing in the world of gaming, but too slowly.

That’s an extremely presumptive and broad statement. Just like the definition of racism above where everything under the sun is racist, even if you’re doing things right you’re not doing them right enough. No matter what, the perpetual outrage seekers have to find something to be outraged about. 

The designers are mostly white, especially lead designers and executives.

You know who becomes a game designer? Somebody who designs games. Nobody is stopping anybody of any ethnic makeup from designing games and selling them. The market of ideas is truly colorblind.

Executives are the ones who actually make money at it.

Equally, the key officers of most conventions are almost entirely white.

In my experience people who work at conventions are the ones who VOLUNTEER and actually SHOW UP. If you do a good job at this over a period of time and the other volunteers and committee members know you and trust you, then that’s when you become one of those “key officers”.  That actually showing up for a few years, learning stuff, and working could be seen as discriminatory to the perpetually stupid I suppose, but just think of it as gaining XP before leveling up.

Nobody is stopping anybody from volunteering. I’m sure your local concom would absolutely love volunteers regardless of what they look like.

Usually, they are well-meaning people who do not realize how their roles and decisions impact the larger gaming community and its lack of diversity.

So, voluntary positions and positions that are filled by people who choose to go into those fields don’t have enough people who chose not to go into them… Okay then. Well, obviously somebody has to do something!

GenCon is emblematic of this problem.

I still don’t think George has established what the problem is (outside of his personal guilt and hang ups) but we’ll run with it.

Of the twenty-seven Guests of Honor (in various categories), only two are people of color.

Hold on a second… I didn’t keep my program book, but I’m betting he didn’t count me in there and I was a GoH and am legally a Person of Color (holy shit, how I fucking hate that term. It is just Colored People backwards). But of course, I didn’t wear my sombrero like NPR wanted so I wasn’t “easily identifiable”.

This is really kind of silly when you think about it. He was just complaining that there weren’t enough minority attendees… Where does George think the guests come from? This isn’t a chicken and the egg thing. Most of the guests are there because they are now interesting for some reason, but most of us started out as just regular gamers, and he was just complaining that there weren’t enough regular gamers who were minorities. Adding more minority guests isn’t going to cause minority gamers to randomly spawn into the convention.

The judges of the prestigious ENnie Awards for role-playing, hosted at GenCon, have been almost exclusively white since its inception.

The question here is how do you become a judge? I’m guessing it is related to the above bit about who becomes game designers or guests.

The same is true for the nominees and winners of the Diana Jones Awards. There may be more efforts to include people of color in gaming artwork,

Efforts? Rather than condemning and shaming people, you should be giving props and kudos to some game companies for going above and beyond what you’ve asked for. I think Pathfinder is actually the biggest selling RPG out there, and Google search what their iconic characters look like: https://www.google.com/search?q=pathfinder+iconic+characters&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=3VfzU-HZDOjMigKe_YDYAw&sqi=2&ved=0CDUQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=624

Quit awesome-shaming us, George.

but where are the real life people of color on the grand stage of gaming?

Yeah. Where are they? Rather than knee jerk assuming it is an unconscious racist plot, let’s think about where gaming and gamers came from and extrapolate out from there.

D&D started in 1974, one year before I was born. In the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been around very long. Most of the early designers were imaginative types who read high literacy things like LoTR for fun and came from backgrounds with the disposable income and free time that enabled time consuming things like war gaming. In the 1970s and 80s, what group had the most of that stuff? Suburban whites.

The designers of now were mostly the people who grew up reading and playing the stuff from that first group. And when they grew up, gaming was an unpopular dorky activity that wasn’t’ seen as cool. You know that whole stereotype of playing in the garage. Yep. Who could get away with being “uncool” in the 80s? Suburban white kids mostly, that’s who. “Uncool” in poor, rough areas was a good way to collect an ass beating. Where I lived in the 1980s I didn’t exactly brag that I liked to roll dice so my imaginary elf could sword fight an imaginary dragon. Hell, reading books was considered sissy behavior.

But I’m sure in the projects of west Baltimore or the Brick Yard of north Birmingham back then gaming was looked upon as a perfectly acceptable pastime by your peer group… Uh huh… I’m guessing this is why most of the black and Latino gamers I know around my age are the ones who grew up in the suburbs… Or after thinking on it for a minute, they were introduced to it in that bastion of all hatey-hate-mongery that Social Justice Warriors despise so much known as the US Military. The military is lousy with gamers, and the military is real diversity, not that namby-pamby college gender studies skin-deep diversity. Gaming is a fantastic Morale Activity when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, and even if it was dorky and uncool at home, playing with your buddies when you’re otherwise stuck and bored off your ass makes a great gateway drug.  

It isn’t a race thing, it is a poverty and accessibility thing. Sadly poverty and accessibility go hand in hand with race in this country. George is taking a big, complex bundle of problems made up of economics, education, and social issues and dumping in the lap of people who have nothing to do with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_middle_class

Don’t blame the gamers. Blame LBJ for his legacy of failed Great Society social programs.

Let’s face it. Gaming is really a luxury activity. You want to increase the number of gamers in any community, increase their disposable income, increase their free time, increase their literacy rates and the numbers that read for fun… Oh, but wait… George was offended earlier by the people from inner city Indianapolis simply having jobs. Never mind.

I grew up poor. My dad can barely read, but my mom liked it, romances mostly. My dad tolerated me reading westerns, because those were “tough” and our little local library, tiny as it was, was free, but it had a lot of Louis L’amour. Then one day a friend of my mom’s gave her a box of used books, and among them was the Sword of Shannara. That was my gateway drug to fantasy. Then my uncle found a used red box sourcebook for me. Then my race/sex/socioeconomic status all became irrelevant, because I could punch monsters in the face. 

You want to get kids into this stuff, present them with the opportunity to create fun stories. No amount of bitching at the kids who did get the opportunities is going to right the social wrongs of the past. Guilt doesn’t create gamers. Fun creates gamers.

Furthermore, GenCon is disturbingly tolerant of deeply offensive material. Shoshana Kessock wrote about her experiences with Nazi cosplay and paraphernalia at Gencon shortly after returning from GenCon 2013, and I had similar encounters.

Just speed reading this one because of time, and I must be missing the “disturbingly tolerant” part… So out of 50,000 people there was a guy in a Nazi outfit, but it was out on the streets of the city, totally devoid of context so no idea what he was doing, or if he was playing the bad guy for some production, or who knows what, but fine, whatever, there’s a Nazi. And then some little fly by night place bought a booth that had some Nazi crap in it…

 Yeah, just not seeing this as an epidemic of racism to indict the other 50,000 people, and I really hate Nazis. My grandmother’s family is from Poland and her maiden name was Byreika. I don’t think I have any relatives left there. I’m all about shooting Nazis in the face. I had an incident earlier this year where I had to physically leave a place because there was a guy there with a swastika tattooed on his face and it was taking too much of my self-control not to draw my Benchmade and cut it off.

It would be impossible to imagine minority players running around GenCon in t-shirts that read ‘Kill the white man!’, yet the convention welcomes and profits from images of racial hatred.

I think Kill the White Man is the name of the blog of a Nebula award winning writer, but hey, go for it. Normal people will sneer and avoid you, just like they do the moron with the swastika tattooed on his face.

Welcomes? Bullshit. Out of the tens of thousands of people there, somebody did something you don’t like, and you have absolutely no idea what the management did about it, if they even knew. Profits? You mean out of the hundreds of booths and millions of products, somebody brought in something obnoxious and you make it sound like a chemical company profiting off the production of Zyklon B.

GenCon has weakly worded policies to prevent these horrific violations, but it has failed to enforce its own rules.

No examples of this systematic racist failure. Just throw the allegation out there and insult GenCon. Classy.

These are symbols, important symbols. If the color of all the leadership, of all the roles of power and recognition, the entire structure is white, and if this same leadership is tolerant of hate-speech, it gives a clear unspoken signal to the non-white community: You can join us here, but only if you leave your history, your people, and your emotions at the door.

Speaking of symbols, get off your cross. There is no “clear unspoken signal” to be extrapolated out of all that straw. Nobody other than your fevered imagination told you to abandon your history, your people, or your emotions, George.

You want to know why real instances of racism are often overlooked? Because the public is the villagers and you SJWs are the boy who cried wolf. When every unconscious action or event is somehow racist, after a while we tune you out. Real racists disappear into the tall grass of micro-aggressions and invisible privilege.

I’ve been told time and again by gamers, “I don’t see race” as if they were doing me a kindness. This is not enlightenment or progressiveness. It is ignorance. If you do not see race, you do not see me. You do not see my identity, my ethnicity, my history, my people. What you are telling me, when you say “I do not see race,” is that you see everything as the normal default of society: white. In the absence of race and ethnicity, it is only the majority that remains. I am erased.

I may be guilty of uttering the words “I don’t see race” at some point but perhaps I could better rephrase it to say “I don’t give a flying fuck about your race, because I care far more about your individual actions, personality, beliefs, choices, philosophy, and culture, and in this particular case we share the same culture of Gamer. And race is an artificially limiting concept primary used by statist control freaks to keep everyone in easily managed stereotype boxes. When I notice your race it is probably the same way I’d notice if somebody was tall, short, fat, thin, bald, beautiful or ugly. Now shut the fuck up about micro aggressions because you are harshing my mellow and roll the fucking dice.”

How about that? Better?

 More often than not, people are actually pretty cool, and what somebody perceives as “subconscious racist unease” is actually some well-meaning white person terrified that they might accidentally give offense and be burned at the stake by Social Justice Warriors. You want that to go away, quit screaming at these people about their white guilt and they’ll quit walking on egg shells around you.  

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people of color in the community try and submerge their own ethnic identity? They do not wish to stand out or to be recognized. In most societies it is dangerous to be an “other,” and in a subculture as white-dominated as gaming, things feel especially unwelcoming.

Luckily for you, you’re talking about the Indianapolis Convention Center in 2014, not the Selma Bridge in 1965, so it seems kind of silly that you’re worried about being The Other while complaining about a place where people are walking around in Furry animal costumes. Furries! Unwelcome, my ass.

Stand out? Hell, when I grow out my Duck Dynasty beard I can pass for the twin brother of one of the terrorists we just let out of Gitmo. I’m 6’5” and when I was young I could bench 365 and looked it. I was genuinely scary looking enough to make normal people uncomfortable when I walked into the room. Spare me your bleating about being profiled. That is simply human beings paying attention to their surroundings, which has been genetically coded into the very foundations of our grey matter.  http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/07/22/on-profiling-and-stand-your-ground/

Too many conversations on race and gaming die before they even start.

Is that because it isn’t actually a conversation, but rather you giving them a lecture? I’ll be glad to talk race issues all day with you, but for some odd reason that often seems to go something like this:

Social Justice Warrior: Let’s begin. You’re racist.

Normal Person: What? Wait. No I’m not.

SJW: Well denying it just proves it.

NP: No, really, I’ve never done anything racist at all.

SJW: Invisible privilege, subconscious micro-aggressions, cismale gendernormative fascism!

NP: What the fuck?

SJW: Racist.

Here is a prediction. By me writing this fisk, the resulting “conversation” will have a handful of people who disagree with me actually argue their stance with logic and opinions, (and I truly love those) but the vast majority of dissent will be from SJWs who skimmed until offended, and then either attack me as a racist, or dismiss me because of privilege. Why yes, I have had a few conversations about race. How can you tell?

I have seen more energy, debate, and engagement by gamers on the minutiae of rules and trivia than I have on the weighty topics of race and gaming.

No shit? People who love a hobby, when gathered for that hobby, prefer to talk about that hobby rather than your personal cause? I’ve seen the exact same thing with sci-fi/fantasy fans fleeing in droves because they’re tired of getting preached at. It is funny how somebody trying to enjoy themselves doesn’t like to be repeatedly slapped in the face and insulted. They must be racists.

Gamers will spend endless days and millions of words fighting over the pros and cons of the Wacky Wand of Welding, but when a person of color brings up issues of race and diversity in the community, too many gamers roll their eyes and say, “Oh not again. Why do they have to be so politically correct? Can’t they just have fun?!”

I can only assume you brought it up in as ham fisted a manner as you did here, and started out with “Hey guys, I got baggage and shame issues from my childhood. Why are you all racists?” so I can’t imagine why they’d have that reaction to you.  

Despite the apathy and dismissal, I know that there are people who want to work with the minority community to change these realities. I know there are allies and advocates who want to make gaming a different place, one that’s open in new ways to minorities and their communities.

And here we are at the end, after insinuating gamers are all racists, game companies are racists, and GenCon management loves Nazis, George gets to the useful part about actually getting more people from different backgrounds into our hobby. Way to go, buddy.

If you’re one of those people, here’s where you can start:

  • Listen. The Gaming as Other series is a great place to start. There are a handful of panels at Cons on the topic and I’ll be sitting on two of them at GenCon: “Why is Inclusivity Such a Scary Word?” and “Gaming As Other.” Keep engaging, listening and supporting. We notice your support and it gives us the strength to keep going.

If con panels give you the “strength to keep going” then you really need to seize control of your life, man.

  • Hire more people of color and give them agency, visibility, power, responsibility, and credit in a wide variety of meaningful and important areas in your organization.

How about companies hire the best person for the job based upon their skill, knowledge, abilities, and talents so that they can provide the best possible product to their customers?

Do not simply hire a token minority.

I’ve personally seen how this is a double edged sword of Social Justice. When they say “token minority” that often means a minority that disagrees with them or fails to fit in the proper box. They’re all about diversity as long as it is skin deep and in perfect lockstep with what they think.

Do not use people of color as a form of marketing.

Another double edged sword of Social Justice. So you’ve got an RPG. Let’s say you put some non-white looking characters on the art. You could easily be praised for this, or you could somehow anger them and be attacked for “tokenism” or “cultural appropriation”. Flip a coin. Either way, I’m sure Tor.com will run an article about how you’re racist.

  • Reach out to minority groups and invite them personally to conventions. Your neighbors, your co-workers, the people at your church, all of them.

Holy crap yes. In this entire thing I finally found something I agree whole heartedly agree with!

However George left something off. After you invite them MAKE IT FUN. Sadly, SJWs can even suck the fun out of Guardians of the Galaxy, so it is up to us people who aren’t total psychopaths to invite more people, because if a regular person goes with a SJW then the whole con is going to be Diversity Panels, until the guest escapes out a window.

  • Offer and play games that are actively and intentionally more inclusive.

Inclusive sounds great, but notice that he never mentioned enjoyment, entertainment, or fun. That’s because SJWs have their sense of fun surgically removed because it might interfere from their listening carefully to make sure the GM doesn’t perform any invisible micro-aggressions. Curious, I did a Ctrl F. It turns out George only used the word Fun twice. Once in describing how GenCon currently is and another in an insulting manner, in the bit about how DARE gamers rather want to have fun rather than discuss how they’re unconsciously racist.

This is the same uphill argument I’ve been making about sci-fi/fantasy fiction. Our SJWs flip out about needing more diversity in our readers, and their solution to that is being preachy, oversensitive, humorless, and obnoxious to the majority demographic. It is hard to entertain when you’re motivated by guilt and shame. I say make it fun for everybody and they flip out and call me a racist. Meanwhile my fan base makes their diversity panels look like a Klan rally.  Go figure.

Oh, by the way. While wandering around the con in search of Social Justice and checking to see what color everybody was, the most diverse group of fans I saw the entire time was the line for my book signing. Suck it, WisCon and your racially segregated “safe zones”.

There is a lot we can do together as a community. Gamers have always prided themselves on being accepting of those outside the mainstream.

Furries, dude… Furries. 

People of color want to be accepted too.

And nobody isn’t. So quit insulting us.

You want an example of acceptance among gamers? One of the guys I traveled with told me this story. He and another of my friends were standing in line for some GenCon activity Saturday night. He asked another dude in the booth for something, and that guy flirtatiously responded “Only if I can get your phone number.”

Now this guy is straight, and he’s being hit on by a gay man, and said gay man is also a really tall, muscular black man. Did this white gamer from North Dakota flip out? Nope. He was a little surprised, there was an awkward silence, but then he said his girlfriend wouldn’t like that much.

Now, through the lens of the Social Justice Warrior this case would be super confusing. Was my friend a victim of sexual harassment because he was uncomfortable (Cosplay does not equal Consent!), or was he homophobic for turning down the advance, or was he racist? Shit. I don’t know. This stuff is super confusing. There are so many aggressions and counter aggressions that I’m sure Tor.com could write a whole series of blog posts condemning everybody.

Meanwhile, back at GenCon on Planet Earth, all of these individuals had a laugh, and went on with their lives.  

GenCon is the flagship of gaming, and thus is a golden opportunity to start this process. Let’s start to have a conversation about the structures that led to the low number of minorities as Guests of Honor and ENnies judges.

Notice, no suggestions as to who. Just a vague “you need more. Make it so”. 

When my RPG didn’t make it as a finalist, it wasn’t because there weren’t enough Latino judges, it was because I’m competing against super creative products like Numenera or Deadlands. What difference does the ethnicity of the judges make?

Let’s push GenCon to make changes to those structures so that people of color have a seat at the table for those important decisions.

The world is run by those who show up, and nobody is stopping anybody from showing up. If you’ve got some suggestions for qualified judges, I’m sure GenCon would be happy to listen. But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess if George didn’t have that straw grasping example of racism it would be something else.

 For many of us, gaming is not simply a hobby, but a home. Let’s make it both inclusive and diverse.

I know when I want to be inclusive I start by insinuating that 50,000 complete strangers are racists.

I think George owes GenCon and its attendees an apology.

GenCon 2014 Report

I got back from my second GenCon last night. What a blast. Of all the many cons I go to (I’ve been to almost a dozen so far this year alone), GenCon is one of my absolute favorites, and is a con that I would attend even if I didn’t have professional reasons to be there.

First and foremost I’m a writer, so I’m going there because GenCon has a fantastic writing track for aspiring professionals. I love helping newer writers and I love meeting and hanging out with my peers. Most people think of GenCon as a gaming con, and it totally is the gaming con, but Marc Tassin does a fantastic job putting together one of the better writing tracks of any con in the business. Plus the panels tend to be dominated by people who actually write for money as opposed to college guest lecturers.  

The Dark Lord of the Sith was no match for the International Lord of Hate.

The Dark Lord of the Sith was no match for the International Lord of Hate.

Second, I’m a mini painter and gamer nerd, so I go for the LOOT. GenCon is where you go to get all the cool new stuff, RPG books that just came out, and minis, so many glorious minis. I dropped $500 before my first panel on the first day. All mini painters know that you can’t die if you still have unpainted minis, so at this point I’m functionally immortal.

Loot

Third, actual gaming. Is there a game you want to try out? Then it is there and they’re probably doing a demo. There are games going on everywhere. I stayed up way too late every night because I was playing something. The first night one of my Baen editors ran a Pathfinder game. Then I got to participate in a Gallant play test with the guys from Dungeon Crawlers Radio. I demoed the X-Com board game, and then ended up watching a few other games just to see how they work. I wandered the Warmachine Iron Arena a few times just to look at the paint jobs. Basically there are games going on all over the place, and you can get in on them really easily.

GenCon has a really fun, goofy atmosphere. You are surrounded by 50,000 nerds gleefully enjoying themselves. If DragonCon is geek Mardi-Gras then GenCon is geek World Cup.

The Thursday crowd

The Thursday crowd

My publishing house has become a GenCon sponsor, and this year we presented the first annual Baen Fantasy Award. Our three finalists were all there, and I’m happy to say that in addition to being talented story tellers, they’re also really cool in person. I got to talk to each of them a bit about their work, and how that was one damned hard contest to judge. I only read the 15 finalists, but all of them were really good.

I signed, I’m not kidding, like five or six hundred books over the last few days. Most of those were just in the halls as I bumped into people, or when I would show up early for one of my panels and I’d just walk down the line and end up talking to folks. My official book signing was excellent, but I felt stupid because I thought I had a normal sized line and didn’t realize that the line went around the corner and down the hall a bit, so there I was just casually shooting the bull and taking my time without realizing others were patiently waiting. I found out later that Baen had given a literal ton of books to the con to give away in swag bags. And I’m not misusing the word literally. Baen gave out something like 1,500 books to the attendees.  

The "smaller" Sunday crowd.

The “smaller” Sunday crowd.

I think it is a measure of a writer’s success how often they get stopped in the halls as they try to walk anywhere. It probably helps that I’m several inches taller than everybody else in the crowd and I look like James Gandolfini so I’m easy to spot, but anytime I walked anywhere I bumped into fans, many of whom didn’t even know that GenCon had a writing track because they were just there to game. So that’s a boost to the old self esteem.

Until you try to walk to lunch with Jim Butcher, and see that he gets stopped probably six or seven times for each time I was (hmm… that ratio is probably proportionate to our book sales too!). It takes half an hour for him to walk anywhere because of his legions of adoring fans, and he’s not even 6’5” so is easier to miss. Yes, I finally got to meet Butcher in person, and he is honestly one of the nicest guys you’ll meet.  If anybody in this business had an excuse to have a big head, it would be him, but he’s just plain cool.

I was on like eleven panels and enjoyed all of them. The Larry Show (i.e. How to Write Action Scenes) was packed. I’d lost my notes, but I managed to talk for an hour straight on the topic without repeating myself, which tells you how much I like to babble about writing action scenes.

The volunteers who moderated and controlled the crowds were excellent. Good work, ladies. The writing track volunteers rocked.  

You start to get con fatigue after a bit, and on Saturday I had 4 panels in a row. I met one of the other panelists, he introduced himself as Bill Willingham, and my tired brain didn’t make the connection to the Fables comic books. D’oh! Great guy. Ended up talking to him for a bit and it turns out that he’s also very familiar with the illustrious Hugo process.

My favorite panel moment was on the magic and technology in urban fantasy panel. I was over on the left, sitting next to an author named Maurice Broaddus. I’ve not read his stuff yet, but excellent pitch, putting the urban in urban fantasy, with Arthurian legend meets The Wire. The moderator asked him about how technology and magic interacted in his books. Maurice said that his characters were poor, so there wasn’t a lot of tech, cell phones at most, and besides “what are they going to do, text themselves out of trouble?”

And I was sitting there and thought out loud, “Oooooh… Tweetomancy!

The authors all groan, because this is simultaneously incredibly stupid yet imminently writable, and Jim Butcher shouts, “Damn it, Correia!” and threw a cup at me from the far end of the table. :)  So if Harry Dresden ever types #fireball to save the day, you’re welcome.

There were several authors that were there who I didn’t get to meet, but that’s the nature of a big chaotic event. Ed Greenwood and Bob Salvatore were both there, and I’ve been reading them since I was a kid, but I never crossed paths with either. Hugh Howey was there, and I’ve never read any of his books, but I wanted to shake his hand for all the fantastic work he’s done on behalf of indy authors.

There’s a game called Gallant coming out next year which is going to be Kickstartered, and when it releases I’m going to plug the hell out of it. I was in a beta test for it one night (second time I’ve tried it) and it has one of the coolest combat systems I’ve seen in a game. It is one of those looks confusing at first glance, but then you try it once and you’re like holy crap, how come nobody has done this before? Very innovative and fun, set in a Grimm’s fairytale crossed with dark King Arthur setting. Plus I played my character like I was Danny Trejo, down to the Lady of the Lake tattooed on my chest, and most of my lines were stolen from Machete.

As a mini painter, I always feel like talented until I go to GenCon and see the really good painter’s work. Many of the studio guys will be there at the booths painting and will give advice. Okay, that doesn’t sound like much to the rest of you, but to the painters that’s pretty damned cool. Same with sculptors too, if you’re one of those people who thought painting tiny little things wasn’t challenging enough.

I’m in a golden spot as a writer in that I’ve got more work than I know what to do with. Because I’m successful on my own, and I also fly my gamer flag high, I get a lot of offers from different companies to write stuff for them. Problem is, I’ve got 14 more books under contract right now to write. Yes, it is a good problem to have. You’ve got to understand, in this business having more than a handful of books under contract at a time is pretty damned rare, but on the down side I grew up on a farm, and the idea of turning down paying work is alien to my workaholic self, but on most offers I have to say no, on others I have to ponder on it to see if I can make them work, but then there are some offers that are such freaking crazy awesome ridiculous opportunities that I’ve got to squeeze them in no matter what. I can’t give specifics, but let’s just say that this was a very productive and lucrative convention for me. :)  

So you can see why when presented with the choice between spending thousands of dollars to fly to London to hang out with people who want me to die in a fire for three days, I stuck with my original plan of going to Indiana where I’d get loot, have fans, have game companies try to give me money, and actually have fun. .. . 

If you are a gamer of any kind, a writer, or you just want to hang out with 50,000 cool people you really should check out GenCon.

Hugo Aftermath Post

The Hugo awards were announced last night at LonCon. Congratulations to the winners.

As expected I came in last place for best novel. The surprising part was that I was originally 4th, but then Australian voting rules kicked in, the last place is removed and the votes are recalculated. It is a weird system, and basically what it does is settles on the least disliked candidate as winner. I thought for sure the outraged SJW contingent would make sure I was dead last from the start, but as I’ve seen over the last few weeks from reviewers, many honest reviewers were surprised that it was actually a really good book.  

As for the rest of the Sad Puppies slate, they did about what we expected. The shocking one was Toni Weisskopf was actually 1st for best editor, but after the Australian thing lost. Too bad, because Toni is truly an amazing editor, but I’ve heard that Buchannan is really talented, so good for her. Brad had a pretty solid showing. Most of the others came in last or close. Vox came in 6th out of 5. (we actually had a side bet about which one of us would do worse because he figured he was far more hated than I was, and he won that bet).

Now I’ve got to respond to some of the stuff I’ve seen online. I’m playing catch up because I got in from GenCon late last night (I was informed of the awards results in the Indy airport waiting to board) and I’m still exhausted and brain dead (It was a crazy busy con, but that’s a whole different blog post).

First off, some people are upset and saying there was fraud. I understand your disappointment, but I truly don’t think so. In all of my dealings with LonCon they’ve been totally professional and honest. On things like Toni’s, yes, that is confusing as hell, but that is how the Australian system works. One of the original goals of Sad Puppies was to test the Hugo nomination process just because there had been allegations of “lost” noms in prior, and as a retired auditor, I’m a sucker for statistical analysis. SP1 gathered data, and SP2 gave me comparisons. I saw zero indication of fraud. I’ve only been awake for an hour, so I’ve only skimmed the new numbers, but they appear to have shaken out about where expected. So don’t get mad at LonCon, they did their job (and as I can attest, getting accused of fraud without evidence is annoying as hell).

Next, there is a whole lot of gloating. As an example, here are some excerpts from John Scalzi’s twitter feed.

John Scalzi @scalzi 
I’m not going to lie. I’m going to be THRILLED to snarkread the whiny “I didn’t want it anyway” nonsense that will squirt forth tomorrow.

John Scalzi @scalzi
WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THE HUGO SLATE A REFERENDUM ON THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE FICTION (loses) THE HUGOS DON’T MATTER ANYWAY

John Scalzi @scalzi  
SHUT UP I AM NOT CRYING IT’S THAT LITTLE FLECKS OF GUNPOWDER FELL INTO MY EYEBALLS SOMEONE GET ME A FLAMING SWORD SO I CAN FLICK THEM OUT

John Scalzi @scalzi  
WHO IS CALLING ME PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE I AM ALL AGGRESSIVE DON’T YOU SEE THIS HUGE GUN I HAVE WITH ME AT ALL TIMES (breaks down, sobbing)

John Scalzi @scalzi
AND NOW I WILL IGNORE THE HUGOS AGAIN UNTIL NEXT YEAR WHEN MY FEELINGS OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE INADEQUACY ANGRILY WELL UP ONCE MORE

John Scalzi @scalzi
I’VE LEARNED MY LESSON AND MY LESSON IS THAT WE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH PATENT RACIST SHITBAGGERY ON OUR SLATE WHAT THAT WAS GOOD WRITING MAN

John Scalzi @scalzi
ITS PROOF THAT ALL THE FEMINISTS NEED TO DO TO WIN AWARDS IS WRITE BETTER STORIES ACCORDING TO THE JUDGEMENT OF THE FANS SHEEESH

John Scalzi @scalzi
I NEVER WANTED THE AWARD THAT’S WHY I’VE WHINED LIKE A KICKED DOG ABOUT IT FOR A COUPLE YEARS RUNNING.

Yeah… I think Scalzi still might be a touch bitter for that time I publically beat him like a rented mule.

I do enjoy the constantly moving goal posts of the perpetually outraged, like how Sad Puppies somehow turned into a crusade for racism/sexism/homophobia in their heads. I never expected to win the Hugo. My stated goals this entire time was to get some political untouchables onto their sainted slate, so that they would demonstrate that there was serious political bias in the awards.

Just like how the Guardian crowd sourced a witch hunt to comb through everything I’ve ever written to find examples of me being racist, sexist, or homophobic (and sadly turned up nothing), I’d invite my doubters to comb through anything I’ve written on this subject to find where I ever had any goals other than exposing bias in the system. Put Sad Puppies into the search engine above to see just how serious I took this.

Seriously guys, when I was a corporate accountant I got paid a lot of money to do statistical analysis of complex financial systems, so I’m fairly good at the cipherin’ and gazintas. I predicted that the SJWs would mobilize to stop the untouchable barbarians, so I got some barbarians through the gates, and the SJWs mobilized like I said they would… And I’m supposed to be sad about that for some reason, why?

I lost last night, but I won back in April the other side had a come apart and started lobbing absurd obviously false allegations about me, when editors from major publishing houses told their followers to vote based on politics rather than quality, and when the USA Today and the Washington Post picked up the story.

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/04/24/an-explanation-about-the-hugo-awards-controversy/

I got to give a little victory speech every time I had an author thank me for doing this. As much as the rejoicing Twitter crowd isn’t going to want to hear this, I heard from a lot of authors, from all over the spectrum of politics, fame, and success. I put a target on my head so the world outside one narrow clique of fandom could see what awaited them if they strayed too far from the path of approved goodthink. I simply showed what some of them knew and many suspected. Shockingly enough there are plenty of authors who don’t like the idea of having angry mobs sabotaging their careers and slandering them if they exercise their free speech in an unapproved manner.

Here is a fun one from last night. One of my fans caught this one and put it on Twitter which I read when I got off the plane. Orbit Books posted congratulations to the winners, and how they’d published in one way or another 4 of the 5 nominees (you get one guess which one of us wasn’t) and they wrote this:

Our heartfelt congratulations to Ann and to all of the finalists – Mira Grant, Charles Stross, Larry Correia (for the BRILLIANT Warbound series, published by Baen Books) and Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Here is the cached version:  http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:1PlJ5Jf0XigJ:www.orbitbooks.net/2014/08/17/hugo-goes/+&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

And here is the current version where that bit about Warbound being good was deleted: http://www.orbitbooks.net/2014/08/17/hugo-goes/  I just hope that poor writer didn’t get fired for accidentally admitting I don’t suck!

I didn’t watch the award ceremony, luckily for me I was at the gate reading a John C. Wright novel at the time. The most important thing is that menace Jonathan Ross was prevented from making any fat jokes! I heard it was mostly crying and social justice, but I saw on FB that one of the most telling presenter quotes of the evening was something along the line of “Many of our winners have gone on to be very successful, well… not financially… but…”.  Yeah, that sums up a lot right there.

So if it makes the SJWs feel better to imagine that I’m all broken up and sobbing because everything happened like I publically predicted it would months ago, feel free to gloat. After all, these are the same folks who have no problem imagining my sexism, racism, homophobia, bigotry, spousal abuse, vote stuffing, and rape apology, so what are a few tears?

EDIT: Just saw this, Dave Freer gets it. http://madgeniusclub.com/2014/08/18/a-different-modest-proposal/ 

Various people have sounded off about the Hugos – My only real comment is ‘Pyrrhus’. Look, the point being made by Larry Correia about the Hugos was the award was not for the best SF/Fantasy of the year, but for the most popular among a small left to far-left bunch of the WorldCon attendees. What he did was to make make this proposition (now established as fact) known very widely and publicly. As the reading population, logic states, is a reflection of the demographics of the total population, and maybe 10-15% of that group could count as left wing. Stretch to 25% who will put up with it… still leaves 75% who are unrepresented, for whom the Hugo Award was at best meaningless or actively signaled a book they would not want to read. Now, obviously, even if you personally are further left than Pol Pot or Kim il from-too-much-caviar or Stalin, as an author signalling that 75% do not want to read your book is not a win. By Larry making this bias obvious, by having to recruit nominations, despite being a very very popular author… The previous Hugo winners, the current nominees, the normal greying crew of voters, the WorldCon organizers and the Hugo organizers were caught in a trap. The only way to win (to establish that this was NOT true, there was no left wing bias) was to LOSE. To have a right wing, (or several of them) author (or editor) win (no matter how good the various proponents were. It was like an international road-race which somehow only Germans won… once this was publicized, even if the best runner was German – if he won, your race’s credibility was in the toilet, now and always) That would re-establish the credibility of the award as essentially picking ‘best’ rather than left wing flavor of the month lose and 75% of your sales. It was kind of a lose or lose badly equation for the left wing of sf/fantasy, lose and have a Damian in tears surrounded by exploding heads, or ‘win’ and lose badly by destroying your credibility. The best option would have been to divide and rule and get behind say Toni Weisskopf and Brad Torgersen. But that would take brains.

Geeky Hobbies: Still Cheaper than 3gun

So I’ve been rearranging my office. My wife and I took a trip down to Ikea and bought 800 pounds of shelving for $870. (IKEA: Furniture by the Pound). Luckily for me the lovely Mrs. Correia considers Ikea furniture grown up legos and put them all together in a few hours.

I was tired of my mini painting stuff cluttering up my writing desk, plus it was a pain in the ass to have to move stuff whenever I wanted to work. So I put together a painting station.

Office-painting station

Since I was moving everything around I figured I would organize my painted minis. I stuck all of my Warmachine Mercenary army in one spot, and that made me realize… Holy moly… I’ve almost collected them all. And then I got a notice that Miniature’s Market was having a 40% sale… This next part will be gibberish to most of you, but Warmachine people will get it. So as of yesterday I now have every single Mercenary, minion who will work for a mercenary contract, and ally. Achievement unlocked.

Office-total mercs

I figure I’m about 40% painted.

And since I’m taking pictures, here is the rest of my painted Warmachine. I’ve got a bit from every faction and a bunch of things that I use for IKRPG.

Office-all factions

 

The Drowning Empire, Episode 59: Battle of Waterfall Temple

The Drowning Empire is a weekly serial based on the events which occured during the Writer Nerd Game Night monthly Legend of the Five Rings game. It is a tale of samurai adventure set in the magical world of Rokugan.

If you would like to read all of these in one convenient place, along with a bunch of additional game related stuff, behind the scenes info, and detailed session recaps, I’ve been posting everything to one thread on the L5R forum,http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=295&t=101206

Paul Genesse wrote this one. This session was the end of the second act of our campaign. The group takes some losses. 

Continued from:

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/07/18/the-drowning-empire-episode-58-last-wills-testements/

The White Tiger Journal, Part II, The Jungle of the Three Mothers

(Part I covers the journey from Second City to the jungle trek—and can be found in the White Tiger Memorial Shrine in Second City)

 

All Entries by Akodo Toranaka, Commander of the White Tiger Expedition

 

 

Day 1: The Jungle of the Three Mothers is a haunted place of bloodsucking insects and oppressive heat. It was a difficult day of hacking through brush and vines, but the White Tigers will endure. Our long journey of many weeks across the Ivory Kingdoms to this deadly place has brought us together as an army. The group training days and maneuvers have taught us all how to work as one. We are strong and sharp, our feet toughened, and our morale high.

 

All the logistical preparations were successful and we should have enough supplies to find the Waterfall Temple and return. We will hide some supplies along the way for the return trip through the jungle. Superior logistical preparation wins most campaigns and the White Tiger Expedition has arrived at full strength to this final barrier, this terrible jungle.

 

Sadly, we must leave the horses behind now, which has upset Subotai especially. Bringing them into the jungle would be unwise. We go forward now with 150 samurai, 20 ronin, 11 Ivindi, 20 Eta, and 300 peasant porters, all divided equally among 7 squads. My official log contains the names of all the White Tigers, precise number of beasts of burden and supply tallies.

 

This is an official record and I must include the unsettling news from the Crab holding of Kosomura Dokoro, which sits at the edge of the jungle. Hiruma scouts ranging from one of their watchtowers spotted a force of approximately 100 men passing through here a week ahead of us. They were believed to be Rhamalist cultists, but some of the scouts saw Rokugani men, including a man with distinctive Togashi tattoos. We suspect this is Togashi Tozaru, one of the Ten Killers Gang who thinks he will find enlightenment through the destruction of the Empire. If I find him, I will show him enlightenment with the edge of my katana. In the next world he will learn the error of his ways.

 

 

Day 2: We have made slow progress, and I fear that all of the formations and drills we performed as a large group on open ground will be nearly impossible to execute in this thick jungle. The small squad formations we practiced will serve us well, but I dislike spreading my forces out so much. The White Tiger Leadership Council and I, and all of the Gunsos, have begun to plan and train for whatever may come at us here. Communications will be essential as our force will be a stretched out column of porters and samurai. Drums will be used, in addition to the horn calls. We shall fight as one army, but each squad will be independent and their place in the column will rotate so the same squad is not always breaking the trail. Each squad has their own supplies and their own porters to protect as well.

 

Day 3: One of the porters blundered into a nest of vicious stinging insects today. His body immediately swelled up and he died choking on his tongue. The peasants are afraid, but I have asked the monks and priests to bless them tonight and use incense to cleanse any evil spirits from the camp. I do not know if such things will help, but the peasants believe they will, and that is all that matters now.

 

Day 4: Rain, but decent progress.

 

Day 5: More rain. The mud is sucking off our sandals, and we managed only a few short miles.

 

Day 6: The terrible rain and mud today was eclipsed by a demon. An Elephant Destroyer Demon was found trapped in a muddy bog. Our archers and shugenja had minimal effect, but the White Tiger Leaders attacked. The Fortunes smiled upon Shintaro-san and may they bless him always in the future. He slew the demon with his large bisento, Swamp Dragon. Once the demon was slain, we collected its ivory tusks and gave them the Ivindi gurus to purify so they could make them into weapons later. Arrowheads and daggers of ivory will serve us well.

 

Day 7: The day started with one death and ended with hundreds more.

 

Before midday we buried one unlucky samurai. He was the first samurai killed on this expedition. A Toku bushi of the Monkey clan slipped and drowned while crossing the swamp. I did not know him personally, but I recognized his face when his friends dragged his corpse out of the muck Toku Zanaru, the leader of the Minor Clan Alliance was distraught, but those under his command will carry on. They are samurai. I will speak with Zanaru about keeping his face when we are confronted with terrible events. He must maintain his composure or the men under his command may lose heart.

 

The accidental death was a portent of a much more dire circumstance. Soon after the burial of the samurai I was given extremely disturbing news. The advance Spider scouts I had dispatched found signs that the Rhimali Cultists, servants of the Tiger Demon we know as Chonitsu, were preparing to raid our camp. The Spider Clan have been invaluable so far, and this information saved countless samurai. I did not know how many of the enemy there were, but we knew at least 100 had gone ahead of us.

 

I decided we would surprise the cultists, and the leadership council agreed. I had the far edge of our camp appear to be an easy target. I ordered elements of the 3rd Squad: 14 Crab samurai, 7 Badger clan, and 3 ronin to hide inside tents or otherwise pretend to be unaware in their seemingly unprepared camp. Suzume Shintaro-san was also among them and I had the Tsuruchi archers led by Oki-san ready to attack. I also ordered the Spider and Hare clan to hide in the jungle and prepare to wreak havoc when the Ivendi cultists began to flee.

 

The enemy were fooled and many of them fell into our trap, thinking us unaware. We slaughtered the Ivindi savages and I took two heads. Then news came from our all-seeing Spider scouts that a much larger force of Ivendi was attacking from the north. Our preparations saved us, and the other valiant squads, especially the Crane and Monkey of 7th squad held the line until I personally led a counterattack and rallied the brave samurai. The men stuck together, despite the darkness, and the chaos.

 

Shintaro-san stayed to hold the flank with a few Crab and ran into Sesho the Monk, Killer #10. Fortunately, the Crab brawler Hida Shomonai helped Shintaro, and they slew the villain, taking his head.

 

Oki and the Tsuruchi archers shot many Ivindi as Uso-san and a pair of Ikoma scouts cut their way through the cultists to reach the enemy general, an Ivindi man. Uso would have killed him as well, but Tamori Isao crushed the legs of the general with his new spell Jaws of Earth. Uso’s battle lust was denied the general’s blood, but he spilled much last night.

 

The enemy made one final stand with their Rokugani leader, Togashi Torazu. We gave him many wounds, but his mystical tattoos kept him alive. Uso opened a large gash on Torazu’s side, and I found my opening and took his head.

 

I took five heads last night, and wounded many more of the enemy. When the battle was won, Uso-san began chanting at me, leading the men as they honored their commander, “Headsman! Headsman!” The samurai and the peasants alike took up the chant until it echoed in the jungle. I have gained a new name War Name amongst the White Tigers.

 

 

Day 8: The first big test of the White Tigers was a thunderous victory. We routed our enemies. We counted nearly 300 dead Ivindi. Some of our men were slain as well. Our losses were light. Only a handful of the minor clan samurai were killed, and they fought so bravely, bringing much honor to their clans. Dozens of the men are wounded, but all will be healed by our shugenja in two days time. We will stay and rest at least one more day. We will bury the dead, and honor them with the ritual prayers. All of the samurai died as heroes and their names will not be forgotten. When this is over, even if I am dead, a memorial shrine will be built to honor the dead White Tigers.

 

Our victory was won because all of our samurai were ready, armed and armored. Advance warning from the Spider scouts saved us from having a much more difficult battle.

 

Last night, the Spider and Hare pursued the survivors and today Daigotsu Iko brought me two large sacks filled with heads. Iko and her samurai have been the most valuable squad in our army. The scouts also found the cultists supply cache, and we have gained a large amount of food, which will undoubtedly help on our return journey.

 

Day 9: The three Ivindi gurus finished purifying the Destroyer demon’s ivory. They made 5 arrowheads for our best archers and a dozen rough daggers. I passed out the daggers to the samurai who distinguished themselves in battle. I offered one to Daigotsu Iko, but she revealed that her black steel sword is some form of potent magical nemurani, so my gift wasn’t necessary.

 

We will begin our march again tomorrow. We are no longer an untested group. We have shed the blood of our enemies together, and buried some of our friends. Now we fight not only for our noble cause, but for our brothers.

 

Day 10: We traveled far. Morale is high. The men have become very friendly with each other after our latest trials. Even the three Ivindi gurus have begun to speak to Tamori Isao, and even the pair of Phoenix Clan archeologists. Isawa Akihiro and Tanaka have learned much and have brought the leadership council more information about the Red Hunger, the beast we have been afraid to meet, as we are now very close to the territory it is rumored to inhabit.

 

I will record the legend here, though the Isawa archeologists will undoubtedly have more details.

 

There are three legendary witches from Ivindi folklore: The Mother of Tears, The Mother of Blood, The Mother of Nightmares. Over 500 years ago there was a war between the Mothers and the Great Maharaja. It was a terrible, brutal war. This area was once lush and beautiful, the pride of the Kingdoms. But the war unleashed terrible magic and horrible curses which twisted the land. The Great Maharajah defeated the Three Mothers, but the struggle had turned the Maharajah from a righteous leader into a bitter, angry man, who saw plots and conspiracies against him everywhere.  And soon the whole of the kingdom was plunged into a terrible civil war, called the War of the Maharajahs.

 

The legendary Red Hunger, the giant snake capable of swallowing whole elephants, was created as a magical weapon by one of the Mothers during this war. Each of the mothers had one. The Mother of Nightmares created the Dream Eater. The Mother of Blood created the Red Hunger. The Mother of Tears created the Great Sea Beast.

 

Oki-san was very interested in the sea beast created to destroy the Maharaja’s fleets. The leviathan of the sea was slain and its body used in the ritual to create the Great Sea Beast. The leviathan’s horn was taken and hollowed out into an instrument, which through playing specific notes on it, could control the Beast, or put it to sleep when it wasn’t needed. When the guru was asked how it could be killed, he didn’t know, because nobody had ever succeeded in doing so . . . But the gaijin Cabral’s journal said that the Dark Oracle had successfully controlled the sea monster and put it to sleep.

 

What all this truly means, I do not know, but I would like to have the leviathan’s horn, which might allow us to control the sea beast ourselves. The gaijin fleets could be wiped out if we had control of such a monster.

 

Day 11: Another long day, but we traveled far. If our cartographer’s calculations are correct, we have traveled 37 miles into the Jungle of the Three Mothers.

 

Day 12: Some of the peasants saw a ghost in the jungle this morning. They threatened to stop, but Shintaro-san convinced them to stay firm. He told them funny stories about ghosts and made them laugh. Perhaps they were afraid of the ghost and the fear made their feat move faster, but we covered almost 20 miles today. We found a perfect route along an elephant trail. I have had the entire troop re-briefed on the plan if we encounter the Red Hunger. A small force will draw it away from the main column. The main column will disperse if attacked and rally at the last camp where we stopped.

 

Day 13: More scouts have been sent out in all directions. No sign of the Red Hunger, but one of the peasants gathering water was mauled by a tiger. I sent Oki to hunt it down and he killed the man-eater. Subotai also went hunting and shot a little bear in a tree. Two wild boars were killed as well. Oki had his porters bring the dead tiger into camp and the peasants rejoiced and beat the dead animal with sticks to teach it a lesson. Tonight we cooked the animals we killed and the peasants ate all the meat in a grand feast. They seem to have forgotten about the ghost now.

 

Day 14: We traveled far, nearly 15 miles. A good trail along a river was used. We travel fast, but very warily now.

 

 

Day 15: The Spider scouts came across an Ivindi camp. I suspected the Ivindi were in league with the cultists. I asked Daigotsu Iko to secretly capture a few of them and question them.

 

Day 16: Iko has reported that the Ivindi from the camp are actually refugees who escaped from captivity at the Waterfall Temple. They were slave labor used to excavate the ruins. Cultists came and went, but most of the time they were simply being watched by one man, who fits the description of Doji Chonitsu. I was mistaken about the Ivendi settlement, and regret the deaths of the Ivindi who were questioned by the Spider, but they were only peasants, and likely would have died in the jungle regardless, as they are starving and lost.

 

I have asked Jagdish, our best Ivindi guide, to have one of his men stay with the refugees and help guide them back to Crab lands. Also, I have given him permission to access the supplies we left in the jungle and to use the supplies we captured from the cultists. We know how far we must go now, and the extra supplies would have been unneeded.

 

Day 17: We made good progress, ten miles, using the knowledge of the Ivindi refugees to speed our progress, though I am still wary of a trap or ambush.

 

Day 18: Seven hard miles today through difficult hills. Our nerves are on edge. We can all sense the jungle has changed. Something lives here and we are interlopers.

 

Day 19: The Red Hunger was sighted today. The men are shaken. We made camp very quietly and with no fires after doubling back and taking a different route that will hopefully avoid the monster. The column took cover as the gigantic snake passed some distance ahead of us. Luckily, we were downwind. I can hardly fathom how large this creature is. From the trail we saw, the Red Hunger is at least as wide as a pair of elephants, but fast like a striking cobra. We would have no hope of defeating it in battle.

 

Day 20: We have taken a different route to the mountain pass that leads to the Waterfall Temple. So far, we have avoided the Red Hunger and have made excellent progress. We must not let down our guard now.

 

Day 21: Today we camped early, to regain our strength. We have stopped at the base of the mountain pass that leads to the valley that holds the ancient temple beneath the waterfall. It is difficult for me to believe, but in the past three weeks since leaving the Crab lands we have managed to travel 116 miles. We are so close now, but our enemies are trying to stop us.

 

I sent some scouts, mostly Spider and some of Jagdish’s men to explore the pass while we set up camp. A tremendous explosion echoed from above us, and a huge rockslide crashed down into the pass. Many of us ran up the hill to check on the scouts. Jagdish was unhurt, but a few ronin, a couple of Ivindi, some Spider, including Daigotsu Iko were buried alive under large rocks. Tamori Isao lifted the rocks and saved many with his magic. Iko would have been killed, but Isao swam through the rock and found her and many others. I think the fortunes are watching over her, but suspect her black steel numurani sword may have saved her. Still, she should have been killed judging by how much weight was on top of her.

 

Oki and Uso did find a clue about who exploded the gaijin pepper and caused the rockslide. They found small, female-sized footprints, made by Rokugani style sandals leading away. They think this is the work of Kakita Yodo, one of the Ten Killers, who had fooled Oki shortly before we left Second City. She pretended to be his lover, a vapid courtier, but she is clever and very deadly.

 

Day 22: A traitor in our midst revealed himself at last, and two of the leadership council were almost assassinated today. On the eve of what could be the final battle of the White Tigers our army was in danger of being torn apart. The rage I felt at this betrayal burned like a hundred suns in my belly. I was not going to let anything tear us apart after we had endured so much and traveled to far.

 

The day began well enough. We made it across the nearly blocked pass and made early camp near a river in the valley of the Waterfall Temple. The scouts reported we had arrived at our destination. Only a short march was required and we would reach the Temple Beneath the Waterfall.

 

Many final preparations were underway when in the early evening I received an urgent summons. I arrived at the tent of Usagi Akino of the Hare Clan, who was second in command of the Minor Clan Alliance, under Toku Zanaru. I remembered that Akino had spoken against joining the White Tigers, and I had always kept an eye on him.

 

When I arrived, I learned that my good friend, Suzume Shintaro had challenged Akino to a duel. It was well known that Akino was an exceptional duelist and I had seen for myself in our daily training sessions that Shintaro was little better than an ox when it came to iajutsu combat. I had banned dueling among the White Tigers and was very angry when I learned of this challenge. Shintaro knew better, and he would die if he crossed blades with Akino.

 

I quickly learned that Shintaro had demanded to duel Akino because Akino had said that the great clans were using the minor clans, and that the minor clans would be the ones dying in the battle to come, and the great clans would leave the jungle as heroes to claim all the glory. Akino proposed murdering the great clan samurai once the mission was over and other nefarious schemes to make the minor clans the saviors of the Empire.

 

Enraged, Shintaro argued against this treachery. They left the tent to fight and Shintaro told the crowd what had happened in detail. When I arrived I heard what Akino had said, and Toku Zanaru bore witness against him, as did Shintaro.

 

Shintaro had already convinced the crowd that Akino had spoken treacherous words, and I took action as the Commander of the White Tigers, and the final judge of guilt and innocence. I had Akino seized and put on his knees. I had heard enough from him and I trusted the words of Shintaro and Zanaru. Both are honorable samurai and souls above question.

 

Before this weak attempt at treachery could continue, I cut off Akino’s head as he once again tried to deny his guilt. The samurai were shocked, but they understood that I am a decisive leader and will not tolerate treachery such as this. Bloody sword in hand, I asked the men if there was anybody else who wished to tear apart the White Tigers. None stepped forward.

 

We soon found in Akino’s tent proof of his real allegiance. We discovered one of the Dark Oracle of Water’s communication bowls. Akino had been reporting to his true master for our entire journey.

 

I spoke to the leaders of the White Tigers and most of the samurai earlier tonight. I explained what had happened and showed them the proof. It is a grim night, but the stakes are high and we all know to what length our enemy will stoop.

 

Shintaro would have been killed in a duel with Akino. I could not let this happen. Despite my quick action, Shintaro and Zanaru nearly died. Akino had served them poisoned tea, and likely planned to tell any who would listen that both had been murdered by the Great Clans, to weaken the Minor Clans. Subotai told me both Shintaro and Zanaru were given an antidote to the poison, but he kept the identity of their savior a mystery.

 

Akino was a member of the Ten Killer Gang, and he is but another of their number who has fallen to my blade. Akino was likely Killer #2, one of their most deadly. His head sits on a spear outside my tent. I have slain over half of their gang myself, but it is not over yet. If I die tomorrow, I will spend my life to inspire the White Tigers toward victory, but I will not fall until my sword is broken and a pile of bodies surround me.

 

 

Day 23: Several of my closest friends are dead. It has been a day of bloodshed and glory. The Battle of the Waterfall Temple is over, and five members of the White Tiger Leadership Council have given their lives to buy our victory and save the Emerald Empire from destruction.

 

It is almost dawn on the 24th day since we entered this terrible jungle, but I cannot sleep until I record some of the events of yesterday. The bards will tell of this battle for as long as the Emerald Empire stands, and I must preserve some of my own recollections.

 

Before we began our march to the temple a body was discovered. One of the Phoenix samurai had been murdered in the night, his throat slashed in his sleep. His shugenja charge, Isawa Akihiro was missing. I had spoken to Isawa Akihiro several times, and he was one of the archeologists working for Agasha Ryo at the Great Library in Second City. He was also the man my friends and I had observed one night when we were out searching for the Ten Killers with Matsu Hachiro. We decided afterwards that Akihiro was probably innocent, but it is well known to us that Killer #1 was a powerful shugenja, and Isawa Akihiro is likely that man.

 

We all realized that the final two members of the Ten Killers were ahead of our expedition and were waiting for us.

 

We marched soon after sunrise and quick burial of the Shiba yojimbo. We followed the river to our destination. I had instructed all the samurai to prepare for battle, and we were fully armed and armored, wearing our White Tiger bandanas on our arms and across our brows, each squad proudly displaying their banners.

 

We arrived at the waterfall after a short march. We were on the edge of a plateau, on the precipice of a sheer cliff, which extended for miles on either side of us. Far below we saw the vast ruins of the Ivindi temple on the shore of a small lake, held in check by a crumbling dam that kept the water from flooding the ruins and the plain beyond. The river continued into the vast jungle, which was shrouded in thick mist. I was afraid of what might be hiding in the misty jungle, and did not want to take the entire expedition into this potential trap, as our escape route could easily be cut off.

 

The Hiruma scouts had not gone into the jungle below, but had gone down the steep goat trail and returned. I wanted to send out more scouts, but there was no time. Two of our shugenja, the most Honored Tamori Nasuo of the Dragon Clan and his student, my good friend, Tamori Isao, swam through the earth and scouted near the temple. They returned with news that the seal holding the Tiger Destroyer Demons in their otherworldly prison was about to be broken. We had no more time to scout or hesitate any longer. We had to rush down to the temple and stop what was happening or face another Destroyer War and a possible end of our beloved Empire. The Fortunes had delivered our army to this place on the exact day necessary. If we had been arrived only a day later, it would have been too late.

 

I was forced to make my most difficult decision of the entire campaign, and chose to divide our forces, a very risky strategy, and one I second-guess even now. I left the twenty ronin, 275 of the porters, and Seppun Washi in charge of the men who would stay on the plateau, while about 200 of us total, roughly 150 samurai—almost all of them, went down the goat trail to the temple below. Yasuki Dokunsuto, and my exceptional scribe, Tsuruchi Futoshi, stayed with Washi. In truth, I put the honorable ronin, Shukan Hisao in charge, as he was the most competent military commander among all of them. Leaving most of the non-combatants on the top of the plateau would give them a chance to flee if necessary. Some had to survive if the Fates went against us.

 

Many of the peasants wanted to come, but I bid them stay. They were armed with spears, stones, and clubs and were ready to fight. What they lacked in training, they made up for in tenacity. These common men had traveled with us for many weeks now, and despite their low status, they were White Tigers, and had been trained to fight alongside us.

 

When our force arrived at the bottom of the cliff after navigating the treacherous goat trail, the spray of from the waterfall filled air, adding to the mist shrouding the jungle. We entered the foggy ruins and found we had been brought into a killing ground.

 

The voice of Isawa Akihiro, the leader of the Ten Killers filled the air, magic making him sound like a god. He said that we were too late, and since the Ivindi gods were dead, and all their ivory idols had been destroyed, the seal imprisoning the Tiger Demons has weakened. Failure of the seal was inevitable. He told us that the Dark Oracle of Water wanted the Rakhasha demons freed so that they would rampage across the colonies. Akihiro reveled in telling us that spilling human blood in this place would weaken the seal further, so all we samurai would accomplish was fulfilling the Dark Oracle’s plan and freeing the enemies our fathers had defeated and banished. Akihiro said we were fools.

 

It was then when we heard the sound of metal feet crushing the ground. An army of rusting Ironclad Destroyers came plodding toward us from the jungle, each one nine-feet tall, four-armed, and deadly. The metal monstrosities felt no pain, nor did they ever tire. They would crush every last White Tiger unless we found a way to stop them.

 

I wanted to face the Ironclads, but we all heard the chanting coming from the ruined temple. We knew we had to stop whatever was happening there. I gathered a small force and left Matsu Hachiro, my Lion brother, in command and told him to hold the line.

 

I took with me: Ikoma Uso, Suzume Shintaro, Moto Subotai, Tamori Isao, Yoritomo Oki, Daidoji Masafuni, Doji Shunya, Toku Zanaru, Bayushi Sakai, Bayushi Koji, Moto Byung-Chul, and Mirumoto Kawanari.

 

We rushed into the ruined temple and found a handsome Crane man waiting for us. All around him were the torn apart bodies of Ivindi slaves. A strange light seeped up through the floor, and we realized that we were actually standing on the ancient seal that imprisoned the Tiger Demons, the Rakasha.

 

The demon spoke to us in the voice of the man, Chonitsu. “So you are the samurai who have been following me across the empire and the colonies, getting in my way, thwarting my plans, and killing my servants.” He asked us to swear allegiance to him, but he knew we would refuse. Chonitsu gloated and said we were too late. He had struck a deal with the Dark Oracle of Water, Junzo. The seal had been crippled, and would fail. He said it was inevitable. The only question was how long would it take? The Destroyers the Ivendi slaves dug up in the valley would slaughter the expedition, and our blood would be enough to end the seal once and for all.

 

The Crane samurai disappeared then, and his true Tiger Demon form was revealed. He was nothing like the feral Tiger Destroyer we once defeated. He was an ancient beast of nightmares. Waves of terror struck us then. The fear made us question our commitment, but we all found our courage and attacked.

 

The battle was brutal and full of pain. Bayushi Koji was nearly killed by a backhanded blow from the demon. I would have been slain as well, but Subotai and Masafune protected me, and allowed me to attack the demon. Uso gave me the large ivory kukri knife he had been carrying, as my katana proved to be useless. Moto Byung-Chul used his magic and bestowed upon me the Strength of the Kami. We worked together, Oki putting arrow after arrow in the demon, and we wounded our enemy, but Toku Zanaru, the leader of the Minor Clan Alliance was struck and killed, his body nearly ripped in half.

 

Moto Byung-Chul began one of his throaty Death Priest songs and a dark figure appeared, rising up behind Uso-san. I do not know for certain, but I believe one of the Lords of Death, one of the Fortunes themselves, joined the battle on our side! For the first time in a thousand years, the immortal tiger demon became aware of its mortality. It was afraid!

 

With the Strength of the Kami coursing through me, I leaped in the air and struck the demon, landing a nearly fatal blow, lowering his defenses as the ivory Kukri slashed open the demon’s throat.

 

Tamori Isao’s Jaws of Earth latched onto Chonitsu, and the Raksasha died from all the wounds we had inflicted upon it. The body melted and turned to black slime. We were all hurt from the battle, and none more than Bayushi Koji. Oki saved Koji by giving him his last healing draught.

 

We all felt like we had achieved some sort of victory, but we were wrong. I could hear the battle with the Ironclads raging on, but before I left to join the fray Moto Byung-Chul knelt down, and placed a hand on the Raksasha prison seal. “It is failing. Quickly, gather all of the shugenja!”

 

All of the shugenja came to examine the failing seal. It was very bad news. Unless something very drastic was done, all of the Raksasha race would be freed into the world. Tamori Nasuo conferred with Moto Byung-Chul, and they came up with an idea to stop what was thought to be inevitable by the Tiger Demon.

 

Nasuo-sama and Byung-Chul-sama decided they had only one recourse. They would sacrifice their lives to make sure seal would not break. It was our only hope.

 

Isao offered to give his life instead, but Nasuo forbid it, saying that he was an old man, and this was his fate. Byung-Chul said goodbye to his son and our two most powerful shugenja began their final sacrifice.

 

Byung-Chul told me they would need one full hour to complete their spell. The Destroyer Ironclads must be held off for that time, or the spell would fail.

 

I promised we would hold and the two shugenja knelt down and began to pray to the kami.

 

Outside, Matsu Hachiro had been leading a valiant fight against the Destroyers, but the machine men were nearly unstoppable. I assumed command and summoned all our remaining men from the top of the plateau. I could see there was some delay, but I had faith they would arrive, hopefully in time to save us.

 

Our forces in the valley were almost all wounded, and our shugenja had exhausted all of their magic, and we had nearly a full hour to go. I failed our men. We were pushed back toward the temple, but at least our left flank was aided by the ancient dam holding back the river. I set the edge of our line right up against the cracked wall of stone.

 

We paid in blood for every moment we gave Nasuo-sama and Byung-Chul-sama. I failed to hold the Ironclads from advancing. The Mantis, Scorpion, and Spider had taken heavy casualties already. We were about to retreat once again and reform the line.

 

It was then when Ikoma Uso noticed something happening on the wall above the ruins. Kakita Yodo, Killer #2, was setting another bomb. She had to be stopped, or she’d blow it up, causing rocks to rain down on us. Uso and his two Ikoma scouts went after her, dodging between the swinging Ironclads. Yoritomo Oki saw his ex-lover and the bomb, and called upon every single archer to aim at her and loose a volley at the same time. Yodo was struck by five arrows and disappeared behind the rocks. The state of the bomb was unknown.

 

The Ironclad Destroyers in the rear ranks began hurling rocks over the front lines. Uso’s two Ikoma scouts were struck by flying rocks and taken down, so he was now on his own. He reached the dying Kakita Yodo just as she was trying to light her bomb, and he ran her through with his no-dachi.

 

Our line was about to fail. Samurai were exhausted and many wounded were all around me. I had rallied the men for nearly half an hour, but we were spent, completely exhausted and with little hope of victory.

 

When we could hold no longer our salvation arrived. The 20 ronin led by Shukan Hisao, along with a handful of samurai, and nearly 300 peasants charged into the fray. Shintaro and Isao leapt into the middle of the fight and kept our line from breaking. They pushed the Ironclad Destroyers back from the temple and most of our samurai were given a moment of rest.

 

I know Uso-san was above the battle at that time. We saw him carrying the cask filled with explosives. He must have seen the futility of our situation. There was an endless stream of Ironclad Destroyers coming into the valley. Hundreds more were marching toward us. It must have been at this moment when Uso decided to enact his desperate plan.

 

Our men were about to be overrun. I saw Matsu Hachiro knocked down. He was about to be killed, crushed under the foot of an Ironclad, but Subotai saved Hachiro’s life, at least for a moment. Two of my friends were about to die, but I sent in a few wounded reserve samurai, and sacrificed their lives to hold the line and to save my two friends. It was worth the sacrifice, for we rallied, all of us, and pushed back the Destroyers to the original line.

 

We fought for some time, and I watched Tamori Isao bashing his tetsubo against an Ironclad. The Destroyer was about to kill him when Isao’s bodyguard, Mirumoto Kawanari, his reluctant yojimbo, stepped in front and accepted the blow, killing the already wounded swordsman instantly.

 

Kawanari’s sacrifice gave us more will to fight. I stood shoulder to shoulder with Isao and we beat the Destroyers back.

 

Isawa Akihiro had been in command of the Destroyers all this time, whittling us down and bleeding us dry. He thought his victory assured, but he must have finally realized what was happening in the temple, and that we were merely trying to buy time for our shugenja to reseal the prison.

 

A blazing meteor streaked across the sky, and landed with an explosion and shower of water and steam in the shallow part of the lake. Akihiro stepped out with a gigantic flaming whip in each hand. There was no doubt why he had been named Killer #1 of the Ten Killer gang.

 

I knew I had to face Akihiro. I inspired the men to fight on. My friends ran over to the edge of the shallow part of the lake, and took a different tactic. The strength of the kami were still strong in me and I leapt off Koji’s thigh, and over the dam into the lake, surprising Akihiro. He dodged most of my blade, but I left a red slice on his neck.

 

Masafune, Shintaro, and Subotai joined me and we attacked Akihiro, who was striking down everyone else who faced him. Masafune saved my life again, and Subotai drew the ire of the last of the Ten Killers. Once again, Subotai’s defensive style kept him alive and he gave me the opening I needed. I took Akihiro’s head and and watched his body sink into the shallows of the lake.

 

We all prepared to face the Destroyers again. From our elevated vantage point we could see there were hundreds more coming, and we knew that even if the spell worked, and the prison was sealed, the Destroyers would not stop.

 

We saw Uso running along the base of the dam, carrying the cask of explosives. He dodged many of the Ironclads, avoiding their grasping arms, and crushing metal feet. How he got through so many enemies to the center of the ancient dam is a testament to the blessing of the Fortunes upon him.

 

The explosion knocked many of us off our feet. There was a deafening roar as the entirety of the lake rushed free down the mountainside, crashing into the Destroyers and carrying them back into the jungle.

 

I did not see what happened to Uso, but I knew he could not have gotten far from the explosion.

 

Oki told me later that he saw that Uso’s body swept into the river. We did recover Uso’s no-dachi, as it flew in the air and landed at the edge of the new wide river which had saved our lives.

 

The last of the Destroyers were cut off by the water, and my friends and I rallied the White Tigers. We crushed all that remained and found many of them trapped in the rubble and mud unleashed by Uso. His sacrifice stopped nearly 200 of the metal warriors. He saves us all, and paid with his life.

 

We found Tamori Nasuo-sama and Moto Byung-Chul-sama still kneeling across from each other, their heads bowed, in the temple. They gave their lives to repair the seal and save the Empire. Isao-san has told me that as long as the Rokugani Fortunes dwell in the Celestial Heavens, the prison will hold.

 

The cost of our victory was high. Half of the White Tiger Expedition is dead. Almost everyone who survived is wounded. Everyone is exhausted.

 

I spoke to Tsuruchi Futoshi and the scribe explained that when those left above saw the Destroyers attack, they wanted to come help, but there was some “discussion” first and apparently during this, the honorable Seppun Washi drew his sword to lead the attack, but he tripped and fell and impaled himself on his own blad. It was very unfortunate. A horrible accident. Futoshi, Dokunsuto, and Shukan Hisao had to take command then, and lead the White Tigers down the path.

 

So many are dead. Hida Shimonai, whom we first met, and fought at Shiro Makoto, is dead, but he stopped many of the Destroyers himself.

 

There is no sign of Uso’s body. I will carry his sword to Second City, and it will be placed in the memorial shrine for the fallen White Tigers. My Lion brother will never be forgotten. Nor will all of our valiant dead.

##

To be continued next week: 

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/08/22/the-drowning-empire-episode-60-and-let-the-liars-be-damned/

Fisking NPR about Latinos in the movies

Damn it, people. I post that I’m trying to finish a novel by the end of the month, and what do you go and do? You post Fisk Bait articles like this on my Facebook page.

As a D List novelist, I should be cranking out more cismale gendernormative fiction, but oh no, you guys had to go and tag me with an article about how all of our entertainment needs to be filtered through the lens of righteous Social Justice, and if you don’t find racism in absolutely everything, then racist. Obviously.

This is so dumb, how can I not take the time to make fun of it?

As usual, the original will be in italics and my comments will be in bold.

Here is a link to the original article on NPR. Since this is NPR you need to imagine the article being quietly narrated in the most boring, pretentious, monotone, nasal tone possible. Trust me. It makes it so much better.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/08/06/338324139/why-arent-top-films-diverse-as-the-real-world-they-miss-hispanics?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20140806

Why Aren’t Top Films Diverse As The Real World? They Miss Hispanics

 

Imagine you were the most loyal customer to the hottest restaurant in town. And when you walked in the door, you were given the worst seat in the house.

That’s kind of how Hollywood is treating Hispanic filmgoers,

 No it isn’t. Your analogy sucks.

 

 if you believe the results of a new study by the University of Southern California. It shows that the 100 highest-grossing films of last year underrepresented nonwhite characters in speaking roles.

 Oh no. I can’t wait to hear about how awful and racist America is. The funny part is that Hollywood is who casts actors, and Hollywood is as liberal as it gets. But it is always entertaining to watch libs freak out at other libs for not being liberal enough. Holy shit, I can’t believe I’m about to defend Hollywood…

 

One big reason, according to the numbers in the study, was a lack of nonwhite Hispanic characters in the 3,932 speaking roles analyzed. Just 4.9 percent of those parts were filled by Hispanic characters, though they are 16 percent of the U.S. population.

I’ve never taken the time to be offended by the fact that Hispanics are underrepresented in my imaginary space battles. Thanks NPR.

But Hispanics also buy 25 percent of all movie tickets, leveraging $1 trillion in spending power. Which means Hollywood isn’t paying much of a price for ignoring a loyal constituency.

And all this time I thought that Hollywood was only ignoring me by optioning my novels and then letting them sit in development limbo.

Wait a second, me and my movie going children all fit into that 25%, because we are legally Latino and would show up that way on this survey, but you wouldn’t know what we are by looking at us… Oh, but don’t worry, I’ll get back to that.

Other numbers are less problematic.

In other words, every other possible ethnic combination came out okay in the numbers, but Social Justice Warriors need something to flip out about.

White characters were slightly overrepresented at 74.1 percent (they are 72 percent of the population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census);

Oh shit. Movies about imaginary things were off of reality by 2.1%?!?

black characters were also overrepresented at 14.1 percent (12.6 percent of the population);

Wait… What? Shoot. I was all ready to get my outrage on.

and Asians were at 4.4 percent (4.8 percent of the population).

Damn your Asian privilege!

Overall, nonwhite characters filled just 25 percent of speaking roles, though nonwhite people are 37 percent of the U.S. population and buy almost half of all movie tickets.

I’m in a unique position, on one hand I’m a really successful writer who understands storytelling, and on the other hand I’m a retired auditor who made a great living being a statistical bullshit detector. Off the top of my head I can think of a whole bunch of reasons these numbers might skew. I don’t have any raw data, but a couple of guesses:

  • The popularity of British/Australian/Canadian actors in American films. When NPR isn’t looking under every rock for racism, they’ve also done interviews about why directors love those types of actors for what they bring to the roles. Basically, these commonwealth types are sneaking over here and stealing our jobs!
  • Many speaking roles belong to the bad guys, and Hollywood is so scared of Social Justice Warrior’s perpetual outrage that they are hesitant to cast anybody who doesn’t look like Dick Cheney as antagonists. That’s why books that have Muslim bad guys have them mysteriously turn into white supremacists or some sort of pseudo-Blackwater when they’re made into a movie.
  • It might have something to do with much of Hollywood being scared of doing original things, and instead doing reboots and remakes. So if something stared a white guy when your parents watched it, the new version probably stared a white guy too. There are some obvious switches, like Will Smith in Wild Wild West or Denzel Washington as the Equalizer (I’m really looking forward to that one, because nobody does Retired Badass like Denzel).
  • Movies based on comic books make up a huge part of the market, and these comic books and their characters have been around for such a long time that they predate any of these demographics. Hispanics didn’t make up 16% of America’s population when Stan Lee was making these characters up back in the sixties, not that Stan Lee probably would have cared, because he strikes me as the kind of guy who’d say Shut Up and Enjoy Your Awesome.

And as much as people might hope successful minority-centered films such as 12 Years a Slave and The Butler may have shown increasing diversity in film roles, the study shows the percentages haven’t changed much in seven years.

 

Did anybody outside of NPR actually watch The Butler?

 

We see similar numbers in television. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation looked at diversity in the 2012-13 TV season, discovering that prime-time TV shows on the broadcast networks had 78 percent white characters, 12 percent black characters, 5 percent Asian characters and 4 percent Latino characters.

 

Wait… So what they’re saying is that other than Latino all of the others were within the margin of error of the actual population?

 

But since they are citing GLAAD, anybody want to take a crazy guess by what percentage gay characters are over represented on TV? In real life gays only make up between 1-3% of the population (don’t blame me, take it up with Gallup), but according to GLAAD 42% of FOX’s programming has gay characters, ABC is at 33%, ABC Family is at 50%, and FX is at 40%. I mean, since NPR is acting like entertainment should correspond exactly to real life demographics, do they really want to go there?  http://www.tvguide.com/news/glaad-lgbt-characters-1071960.aspx

 

These are almost exactly the same levels of underrepresentation for Latino/Hispanic characters that the USC study found in movies.

So my earlier guess was correct. The Social Justice Warriors need something to be outraged about, so they’re constantly on the lookout. This time it is Latinos. Tomorrow it will be something else.

The USC study also found Hispanic women most likely to be shown nude or baring lots of skin (37 percent of Hispanic female characters had such roles), while Hispanic men were the second most likely group among males to be shown that way, at 16 percent of their characters.

That’s because us passionate Latins are smoking HOT.

No, seriously. Hollywood, that bastion of moral integrity and arbiter of virtue has good looking people take their clothes off. This is my shocked face.

As an auditor, when I see somebody cite one stat without the comparable stats I become suspicious. So 37% of female Hispanics had such roles, but what percentage were the others? Hell, Game of Thrones has all the white women get naked.

Also, “nude or baring lots of skin” there is a hell of a lot of difference now, isn’t there? If you take just shows shot in Miami like Dexter and Burn Notice, count the hot Latinas in the background shots in bikinis and you’ve got your 37% right there.

Now if I was a suspicious auditor I’d notice an article—so nitpicky that it gets into two decimals earlier—leaving out all sorts of data when it was conveniently trying to portray one group as being hyper-sexualized might possibly be trying to establish some kind of narrative.

The study doesn’t suggest many reasons why these numbers have played out this way, but I have a few theories.

Mine are better.

First, Hollywood doesn’t seem to be paying a price for its mistakes. To continue the analogy from above, if you keep going back to the restaurant after it gives you an awful seat, where’s the incentive to treat you better? If nonwhite consumers keep flocking to movies that underrepresent them, filmmakers have little reason to improve.

Yes, Latinos, NPR just called you stupid. How DARE you enjoy movies and be entertained? You should totally boycott them to salve some white suburban liberal’s white guilt!

Annoying twits put their perpetual outrage ahead of their enjoyment. Everything has to be filtered through their obnoxious white guilt. Meanwhile the rest of planet Earth is throwing piles of money at a movie with a sentient tree and a talking raccoon.

Secondly, Hispanic filmgoers don’t seem to embrace movies with high-profile Hispanic characters en masse in the same way black movie consumers do. Black-centered films like 12 Years a Slave and The Butler were championed by black people across the country as must-see viewing.

 

You ever catch that the Social Justice Warriors don’t like when a group of people turn out to be individuals instead of a homogeneous collective? Damn it. You all check the same box on an EEOC form! You should totally think the same, have the same opinions, and like the same things! Latinos are SUPPOSED to go watch Latino movies. Blacks are SUPPOSED to watch black movies… Noticing a trend yet?

 

But, perhaps because there are so many different cultures and nationalities defined as Hispanic in America, such waves of support don’t seem to happen as often for the few movies featuring Hispanic stars.

No kidding? And now the author accidentally pulls back the curtain just a bit to reveal the soft racism of the left.

Maybe those lumped into the “Latino” bucket are an incredibly diverse group of humanity who are going to watch whatever the fuck they feel like?  Offically “Latino” includes people originating from the bottom half of one continent, top to bottom of another, a bunch of islands across every hemisphere, the Iberian Peninsula, and from that you get a few dozen competing cultures, thousands of years of history of badasses conquering shit, exploring the world, and making babies and bringing back wives from every genetic population on planet Earth, and NPR is upset that they don’t all fit in the same box?

 

But keep in mind, it is my side that gets called racist.

 

 

Also, it’s not always clear to audiences when a Hispanic actor is playing a Hispanic character. Zoe Saldana is Puerto Rican and Dominican, but in last year’s Star Trek movie, she played Lt. Uhura — a character who is of African descent in the TV series.

 

First off, you may have noticed that the movie diverged a bit from the TV show. Second off… is NPR trying to say that Puerto Ricans and Dominicans can’t have African ancestors? Does the staff of NPR ever leave their college campuses?

 

They left off a bit. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Zoe Saldana isn’t EASILY IDENTIFIABLE as Puerto Rican because she is GREEN.

 

Jennifer Lopez played a character called Leslie Rodgers in last year’s Jason Statham movie Parker and her mother was played by Patti LuPone. Though her ethnicity was never stated, Lopez’s character wasn’t easily identifiable as Hispanic.

 

If you rented a Jason Statham movie expecting nuanced discussion about race relations, you done fucked up. You rent Jason Statham movies to watch Jason Statham kick people in the face.

And is NPR implying that somebody who is genetically Latino can’t have an Anglo surname?

Oh, but wait… She isn’t EASILY IDENTIFIABLE as Hispanic. Because the SJWs are really all about keeping everyone in their proper place. Don’t worry, you let leftists run things long enough and eventually they make everybody wear these super helpful armbands for easy identification.   

This kind of colorblind casting can have two effects on diversity. Supporting characters such as spouses, parents and siblings are less likely to also be Hispanic, and audiences that want to support Hispanic characters may be confused about which roles fit that bill.

I want you to read that paragraph and think about it really hard. Colorblind casting is somehow a bad thing.

Audiences might be confused what fucking box they should assign characters to? In other words, to the modern SJW, judging somebody by their character instead of the color of their skin is racist.

Finally, the USC study found that black directors were more likely to cast black people in speaking parts (white directors cast black characters in 10.8 percent of speaking roles, compared with 46 percent of roles for black directors).

The real question is what kind of movie was the director casting? What was the setting? What kind of characters did the story call for? If I was directing an episode of the Wire set in the projects of West Baltimore I’d probably cast more black actors than if I was directing an episode of Downton Abby.

Also, auditor hat on. How many black directors are there? What is the target audience of their films? Could the most prolific of the black directors be Tyler Perry and Spike Lee, who would skew the stats because they’ve cast more black actors for movies targeting a black audience?

Yeah… You know what Mark Twain said about statistics. Unless you’re a Social Justice Warrior, then racism.

But two of the most prominent films of last year led by Hispanic directors — Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim — had just one major part for a Hispanic actor between them.

 

Why do Latino directors have to have some sort of Latino solidarity? Why is NPR against ethnic mixing and free association? Why is NPR in favor of keeping everyone in their ghetto? Why does NPR get a dime of tax money to produce this bullshit?

 

Why is NPR interested in ethnic purity, where Latino directors pick Latino actors and direct Latino films, and white directors pick white actors for their white films? Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro are both brilliant artists making art. Why don’t you let them make their art, rather than lecture them about your artificial Social Justice bullshit? Nope. Instead SJWs try to paint artists as some sort of race traitors for not complying to their arbitrary rules.

 

Guillermo del Toro gave us Idris Elba rocket punching Godzillas with a giant Voltron. Your argument is invalid.   

 

 

And that character, played by the Mexican-American actor Clifton Collins Jr., was a Chinese-American technician.

 

Wait… Earlier they were complaining about Jennifer Lopez’s character having an Anglo last name, but now they’re upset that another Latino who has a real life Anglo last name was playing a guy named Tendo Choi, in a movie where a black British actor played a man named STACKER PENTECOST?

 

Make up your mind, NPR!

 

Once again the SJWs try to suck all the fun out of everything.

 

Side note, Pacific Rim might help prove one of my earlier points about British actors sneaking over here and stealing all our jobs, since the “American” lead is from Newcastle upon Tyne, which I’m pretty sure isn’t in Nebraska.

 

The study’s numbers suggest that Hollywood continues to have difficulty featuring a world that’s as diverse ethnically and culturally as real life.

SJWs don’t want real diversity, like opinions, thoughts, tastes, or beliefs, but rather they demand simple, easily categorized, skin-deep diversity so they can keep everybody in their proper box.

But the reasons behind the lack of representation may be more complex and interconnected than anyone realizes.

NPR is looking to manufacture some outrage. They’re just pissed that Latinos aren’t conveniently confirming to their proper racist boxes. When NPR says that some of the Latin actors aren’t “easily recognizable” that means that they aren’t conforming to accepted liberal suburban Ivy League stereotypes. NPR wants Latinos to play beaners in sombreros, hotel maids, or gang bangers… Playing a computer technician, Alderan’s congressman, or captain of the Galactica is just crazy.

Latinos will continue getting roles in movies, just like they’ll keep writing books. Those that find an audience and succeed in entertaining them will get more work. Shockingly enough the entertainment industry is all about entertainment. And while us entertainers work, hustle, and make art, Social Justice Warriors will continue to bitch uselessly about “diversity”. In time more Latinos will have success in entertainment and NPR will still be whining about how come there aren’t more left handed, transsexual, robots represented.

The real problem the SJWs have with Latinos is that we actually are diverse, and not just bullshit skin-deep, check box diversity. Most of us here just think of ourselves as Americans and go about our lives. So I’m just going to assume that missing 11.1% of Latinos do exist in these imaginary movie worlds, it is just that they look more like my kids than they look like Machete.

 

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