More Blog Posts15

  • Tuesday
    On Dark/Evil Magic

    When dealing with magic, the concept of evil or dark magic tickles the prostate of imagination.  It allows for an easy “bad guy” or “forbidden art” which by it’s very nature is alluring and coveted by most. This is completely understandable, but if a universe is going to include the concept of a forbidden anything, the reason for it being forbidden needs to amount to something greater than “mommy doesn’t want you to have the cookie.”

    I hold the philosophy that magic, like technology, is neither good nor evil, but how a person chooses to use it can make it be perceived as one or the other, still, there are common terms regarding how magic is used that puts it into these terms which I shall explain. On a scale from most good to most evil, magic philosophies are generally measured to as: Light, Good, Dark, Evil.  

    You might be wondering why I have named it this way when you would expect if Light is the most good it’s opposite of most evil would share it’s naming opposite of Dark.  The reason I have named it such is because the practitioners of one type of magic has the potential to flip to opposite named magic due to the personalities of the practitioners.  I’m not going to go into that right now because It would take a book to explain in complete detail, instead let’s get to the point.

    You probably have a good idea of what Light and Good magic would be, so I’ll define Dark and Evil magic.  Both of these magics are selfish in nature and are defined by harming others to achieve an effect.  Dark Magic is when a practitioner does not respect the boundaries of another being.  A physical analog of Dark Magic would be shoving someone out of the way to get to something that the shoving person clearly saw the other person was going to get.  Dark Magic is the clear disrespect of others and the threat of hurtful action against them.  In it’s simplest form, Dark Magic is rude, and like any rude action, the person(s) effected by it may take a certain amount of time to heal from it, but is generally ok in the end.  Dark Magic is still scary because like dealing with any person willing to push boundaries like this, pushing back or standing ground against such a being could result in actual injury.

    To give a non-sentient explanation of Dark Magic, consider the maple tree.  Maple syrup is literally tree blood.  The mundane way of harvesting maple sap for maple syrup is to hammer a tap into the tree that can be shut off and take a certain amount within a certain time frame so that the tree does not die from blood loss.  A Good Magic philosophy of increasing production would be to transfer energy from the practitioner into the tree while causing the tree to use that energy specifically to produce sap thus using the tree as a converter.  The tree creates X amount of sap over its normal production and the practitioner takes X amount of sap, leaving a balance.  A Dark Magic approach would be to cast the same spell to ramp up sap production and drain the tree of that much sap and probably more without returning any energy.  The result is that the practitioner gets what he or she wants at a fraction of the cost in time, energy, and effort, but there is clear damage that has been done.  In this case even if the amount of sap taken was equal to the amount produced, the tree was forced to ramp up production that drains surrounding resources that only replenish at a certain rate; the result is that tree will become sick until the balance can be restored.  If the practitioner continues to do this, to this particular tree, the tree will die.

    Practitioners of this philosophy of magic are usually resource managers and whether they are damaging nature, sentient, or non-sentient beings their goals are not to destroy the resource, but to milk it for what it is worth.  It’s ugly when such people use other people in this way and that is why it is called Dark, because, the products of this magic are not evil, but the method that it is begot is clearly harmful, threatening, disrespectful, and lazy.  I say lazy, because less harmful results can be gained from traditional magic, but those who are too lazy or too ambitious to take the time to get what they want from non-destructive means will seek out this power.

    Evil Magic is far more disgusting, because it harms without any redeeming purpose.  Now, you might think that calling down a lightening bolt to strike a monster that is attacking you out in the woods is use of Evil Magic to do something that is not evil, but that is not Evil Magic.  This magic focuses on causing pain and fear and suffering for the sake of completely destroying a being or the identity of a being.  Although I consider it anticanon, Tirak sucking the magic potential out of unicorns for himself is an example of this.  Where as sucking magic out of anypony would be very dark indeed, sucking the magic potential out of them is like ripping their eyes out so the practitioner can now see more and the victim cannot see at all.  

    No one does this sort of magic without a perfectly clear understanding of the suffering he or she will be causing and must have a complete unapologetic commitment to causing this pain.  In other words, this is greed and hatred in action.  The anticanon characters of Sombre and Tirak represent the two personalities found in these users.  Tirak was psychopathic clearly not caring about anyone and wanted power regardless from whom he had to steal it.  Sombre was consumed by envy, jealousy, and paranoia and wanted his life to be better than everypony else’s regardless of whom he had to make miserably to prove it.

    The reason I consider the Sombre episode anticanon is because Twilight said that Celestia taught her how to use Dark/Evil magic, now… If you look above at the description of what these magics actually are instead of a meaningless purple aura, it is hard to imagine either one of them stomaching such a lesson.  I could never see Celestia teaching that sort of horror because I believe she has been trying to let it be forgotten and hopefully never return.  

    If your story contains mention of magic that is forbidden, please explain what is it about that magic that makes it forbidden.  I understand that it is difficult to write about truly evil things, but even if you don’t explain it, show the reader the boundaries of this magic.  I have read stories where the “evil magic” can do everything that the “good magic” can do, but at no point does the story explain what makes it evil.  If at the end of the story the only discernible difference between good and evil magic is that good magic is blue and evil magic is purple, then that’s not good and evil; that’s colorism.

    1 comments · 5 views
  • 17w, 3d
    I Am So Sick of This

    Tonight, I quit reading a story because it was retarded.  Was the author retarded?  No, I don’t think so, but the author clearly stopped thinking about the consequences of the world he or she was writing.  I don’t even want to beat around the bush tonight: I was reading what was supposed to be porn, but it was not arousing because the author kept avoiding sex.  

    A note for all of you porn authors out there: when you advertise something as porn, don’t skimp out on opportunities for the characters to fuck.  Furthermore, porn is about sexually arousing the reader, so the characters should want it and enjoy it and even when they are enjoying it, they should still want it.  Robotic and stoic descriptions of sex is a porn sin.

    The story I read contained a brief robotic description of sex every eight chapters or so, with opportunities for sex every three chapters.  This was a cruel tease.  Right when I was about to give up on it, there was a hint of a story concerning magic.  In case you didn’t know, I LOVE stories about magic, so I gave up on getting off and tried to read to get into this new story, which followed The Cutie Re-Mark a little too closely, which isn’t the end of the world, but the main character saw her closest friends committing suicide in that alternate reality then a few chapters later after setting things back, she tried to kill herself.

    There are things in life that are powerful enough to change how a person lives their life, and this is one of them.  For a character to be so wishy-washy after experiencing what should have been a life altering event is just stupid.

    There are a few more gripes that I have about mistakes that most people won’t make, but here is one that I consider a big no-no: in the story the author mentions a place having magic wards, but before this there was a crime committed in this same area that would have been monitored by these wards.  Whether you are writing about technology or magic, you have to make a choice: high or low.  Low Tech and Low Magic are not going to include things like security monitoring systems, fast indexing systems (computers), or cool toys like that, but High Tech and High Magic IS going to have all-seeing security systems, know-everything computers/devices, and an array of make-life-easier toys.

    Whether you pick high or low, there are consequences.  Let me give you an example of one of the greatest fuck-ups of all time: Harry Potter’s Hogwarts school.  This magic school is supposed to be guarded by the most advanced magic in its world, yet due to the lack of any monitoring system what-so-ever the school has suffered losses from both external and internal sources.  When Rowling was writing for children, this was almost forgivable, but authors who even claim to be writing anything that even remotely classifies as adult (such as porn), a higher standard is required.

    To back track a bit, I cannot tell you how many books, movies, and series I have quit because the author or authors were not faithful to their worlds.  I am damn near driven to tears by the sheer amount of betrayal I feel when an author ruins a story by not staying true to the world and characters’ emotions.   By the way, in case you are wondering, this is why I will leave heavy-handed critiques on any story that does this.  I want this garbage to stop!  And the only way for that to happen is to educate bad authors about what they are doing wrong.  

    0 comments · 18 views
  • 38w, 5d
    Game Theory With Peach And Ponies

    In today's world, video gamers have come to expect a backend system to be so solid that they never have to judge the mechanics of the game, only the graphics.  The Legends of Equestria staff started with these outward appearances, and it indeed looks and sounds like a good game.  The composers/musicians who have worked on that game did an amazing job, and don't get enough credit, in my opinion.  However, for as much as the outside is polished the inside is unsophisticated, and that's what makes me want to share with you my thoughts on games.

    Part 1 - Definitions

    If you want a well educated examination of game theory, I found This Paper, but if you want a very simple explanation of what makes a game, Chatoyance gave the best definition, “a game is any activity where the reward far outweighs the effort put toward achieving it.”

    My favorite type of game is the roleplaying game, abbreviated RPG.  Most people today seem to be confused about what defines a roleplaying game.  The term role-playing comes from acting and means simply “to play the role of a character”.  Because of its relationship to acting, roleplaying in games is inseparably linked to story-telling.  Before roleplaying entered the world of video games, it could be seen most commonly in Choose Your Own Adventure books, where after a certain amount of story was given, the reader, playing the role of one of the characters, was given the choice of taking one of two or more actions which would sometimes drastically change the outcome of the book.  A simplified definition of a roleplaying game is any game where the player's choices change the outcome of the game beyond the binary states of win and lose.

    Common people have come to think of RPGs as games that have stat based fighting systems, where fighting is the key to reaching any goal given by the game and the character(s)'s prowess in fighting grows through a leveling system that requires more fighting in order to raise it.  These aspects, hack'n'slash and grinding respectively, are game elements which are very common in RPGs, but they do not define RPGs.  I have theorized for the longest time, that gamers are no longer able to understand playing the role of a character without fighting being present in the game.  Undertale serves as an example of this misconception when it advertised itself as, “the first RPG where the player does not have to kill anybody.”

    Dating Sims are a specific type of RPG where the player's goal is to improve their relationships with characters in the game.  Most of these games are explicitly sexual, however, the game element of improving relationships with non-player characters (NPCs or characters in the game) has always been a common reward in any RPG including games of pretend.  In fact, the 1993 children's game Tales of the Crystals was a game of pretend that offered a few props and an audio cassette that set up a problem in the first part of the adventure's audio, asked the players to stop the cassette until they completed it, let the players do and imagine whatever they wanted, then thanked the players for solving the problem in the second part.    In this way, the only reward given in the game, aside from the enjoyment of using one's imagination with others, is being praised.  This is my personal definition of an RPG: a game where the player is invited to change the world and is recognized for their changes.  

    Part 2 – A Shared Dream

    Like a lot of gamers, I am sick and tired of the best 3D RPGs being completely centered around fighting.  The reason it happens this way is because fighting is the lowest common denominator to all things as it is a base instinct in humans.  Because of this, fighting can occur repetitively, but the player usually has the same enjoyment out of winning these encounters.  It requires significantly more thought, effort, and time to create a repeatable minigame that offers the same risk/reward that is almost inherently understood as fighting.  The outcomes of fighting are simple win or die.  If you win, you usually get something, but if you die, in modern games you are set back to a previous point.  The choice of engaging in a non-mandatory battle is the risk of dying or the possible reward of looting or building stats.

    The problem with most RPGs, is that everything that is not fighting ultimately shows itself to be useful because of how it aids in fighting.  It is not the fighting that is necessary but the minigame that is.  If a game offered a minigame that was mandatory at sometimes, optional at others, carried an estimatible range of risk and reward, and gave the player a clear understanding of how doing this would improve their game, then the role of fighting could be completely replaced.

    Now, I shall give an example of how this could play out as a roleplaying game that does not use any violence at all:  Your pony has the option of baking a cake for a party.  Baking the cake will make these NPCs take notice of your generosity, and because a shy character of interest is attending this party, it may allow you to start talking to this character.  At this point, you have a wheat field that started out as a few stalks of wild wheat you found while exploring, but by replanting from the best of your wheat, you now have domestic wheat (I'm talking about a minigame of course), but you still don't have anything else to make a cake.  For now, you decide the best way to fix this is to buy the eggs, milk, and sugar, and you can get the money for that by seeking out will-o-wisps, magical bubbles that go around sucking up lost things imprinted with the idea of value.  When you touch one you get sucked inside and have to use your skill, magic, and items to work your way out after claiming the treasure on your way out.  When baking the cake you play another minigame risking all of your materials.  In this minigame (the only one I'll actually describe) you have to keep a ball in the center of a bar by using your left/right controls while the ball randomly tries to slide to either end.  If the ball hits either end, you know you've waisted your materials, but if you keep it in the center, for the time needed for that item.  Then the cake goes to baking.  For so many real world minutes, the cake will be in the oven, and you have to get it out when the timer rings.  During that time, you can study one of your skills, let's say alchemy.  This minigame will be between X and Y minutes so you know you can do at least one round, but you don't know how many more after.  If you take the cake out at the right time, you find out how well you did.

    In this way, the game becomes minigame after minigame to aid in the player's quests, and you can use your imagination as to how each output might make another minigame easier, and of course all of this leads to the purpose of bettering your friendship with NPCs.  Abilities and items can be crafted or bought to repel will-o-wisps below a certain level or to force them to drop their loot without having to puzzle them out completely.  None of this hinders other RPG aspects such as exploring.  In fact, it aids in the realism of exploring by giving the player a way to survive far outside of the cities.

    As a Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, MMORPG, these various elements would allow players to interact with one another instead of just the base quests and stores.  If a player wanted their real world friend to join, they could offer to give them various things to skip over part of the growing process.  Groups could work together in specializing various skills so that they may go out as a group to collect rare items that may ordinarily take days or weeks acquiring the skills and tools to reach them on one's own.  A non-violent RPG is far more involved than a cookie-cutter RPGs, because instead of needing a group with a fighter, a healer, a wizard, you need a pony with rock climbing, metallurgy, plant studies, cooking, cartography, will-o-wisp repel, gem finding, and some pony with enough strength to carry all the gear needed to get from here to there.  In this way, you can still play the game alone, but the real adventure comes from needing others.

    Out of all the various game projects that have slapped the phrase “friendship is magic” somewhere into itself, I have yet to see one that exemplifies these words, but what I have just finished describing is one way, not the only way but one way, that a game could be very involved, very satisfying, very roleplay-y, non-violent, and on top of all that, inspires a feeling in the player that friendship really is magical.

    EDIT:  So the minigame I mentioned is something borrowed from another game.  This Video shows one of my favorite games for the PS2, Kengo Masters of Bushido.  It's a sword game so if you can't stand them, don't watch it, but at 5:50 you can watch a minigame I describe for the baking process.  In this game, both ends of the bar read “sleep”, but I picked this game to represent tasks because at the time I thought of it, I was learning a lot about flow theory that flow, or the maximum pleasure in the moment and successful output a person can get from doing a task, exists between the two extremes of One: not focusing on or fearing the task and Two: over focusing on the reward.  The funny thing is that Zen Meditation in real life is all about finding and maintaining this state of excellence between two extremes.  Kengo does a disservice of labeling the two extremes as the same thing.  I would like to believe that implementing demonstrations like this would teach the player on a fundamental level to observe their own actions and find the right way of acting toward their own real life goals.

    I am not the only person thinking about changing minds through video games; the designers of No Man's Sky encourage nonviolence by making it so that players get absolutely no reward from killing animals.  In fact, they have gone out of their way to make the player feel bad if they have killed an animal.  That may not sound too happy, but it means that players will learn very quickly that they are not rewarded for senseless violence.

    EDIT: To continue being honest in my factoids, I have discovered that at least the predator animals in No Man's Sky do give resources, however, pre-release footage of the game does not show this, so it may have been a late edition.  Still, non-lethal solutions are available and still encouraged.

    2 comments · 94 views
  • 39w, 1d
    For The Swarm!

    The title of this journal is a personal joke, but the journal itself is somewhat about an upcoming episode:

    The Times They Are A Changeling

    Premieres Saturday, August 20 at 11:30a/10:30c

    Spike travels with Twilight and Sunburst back to the Crystal Empire to visit Flurry Heart only to discover that the entire Empire is in a panic due to the reported presence of a Changeling spy.

    I've made it no secret that I very much dislike the first episodes depicting changelings, but as for changelings themselves, Lauren Faust did intend to put something called a changeling into the world of  Equestria.  Like many things Faust put into MLP, changelings have their roots in mythology, in this case European and Gaelic mythology.

    The common theme among changeling stories is that for one reason or another, fae folk would enter into someone's house and replace the human child living there with one of their own children.  In terms of retrospective psychology, this gave the parents a way to see their child as not part of the group thus giving them an excuse to treat the child badly.  One story suggests that the belief in changelings allowed parents to kill off children who ate too much in lean times.  Not every story of the Changelings are cruel though, at least one is surprisingly inspiring.

    Changelings in MLP consuming love made me wonder what was the real message.  You could look at changelings as a metaphor for people who use and manipulate other people all while pretending to be a friend.  You could also look at them as the metaphor for the, how to say, fake bronies that popped up in 2012.  These people who loved MLP, loved it because of all the good things it brought them, but they had no idea how to reciprocate these positive feelings and gestures, and whenever faced with any difficulty with another person, would act as unpony as possible, thus the “stealing love”.  There is also another theory I have had which is that the bug aspect of changelings represents a person who chooses to adopt a tribal mentality of doing what the tribe does only because that is what the tribe is doing, like a bee or ant.  Another theory is that changelings represent people who haven't learned to be themselves so they become somebody else, without understanding the real reason why the original person acted that way – again, someone who ends up taking love because they don't know how to give it.  It could be that MLP changelings were meant to represent any and all persons who have not awakened to see the value of reciprocal kindness.  I would love to know what Faust herself wanted to do with the changelings of MLP.  

    The title of the upcoming episode is a reference to Bob Dylan's song “The Times They Are a-Changin'” which sings of an overwhelming number of people, considered the younger generation, overcoming the oppressive people in power without using violence, but by simply refusing to perpetuate oppressive and destructive behavior.

    The fact that this song is referenced could mean nothing more than how fun it is to sing it that way, which I have been doing for the past four years, but more than likely since the sixth season is all secretly fanfiction, it could be an episode that finally makes sense of the invasion of stupid in season two.  By that I mean, I theorize, and hope, that in this episode a changeling is found who is not evil, and goes so far as to prove that they were literally misguided.  This would go back to one of the explanations of the original changeling folk tales where the fae folk could not live completely on their own and needed human milk to survive infancy.  Many of these stories say that the human child that was taken was raised by the fae and by adulthood the two would find their original parents.  In many MLP fan fiction, changelings have a symbiotic relationship with ponies where they replace lost loved ones or copy a pony from one place and live as that pony in another town…  In this way, changelings can no longer be seen as evil, but as tragic figures to whom nature and evolution has not been kind.

    Another fan favorite aspect found in changelings is the presence of a telepathic hive mind.  Known as Group Mind in science fiction, this ability allows its members to perfectly experience the thoughts, emotions, and sensory input of any or all of the group's members.  In addition to being connected in general, some depictions will also have the ability for members to privately contact one another through the group mind.

    The science fiction hive mind concept is based on the real life study of ants who have been observed to have an awareness of the state of their colony that although is caused primarily by pheromones, borders on precognitive reactions and suggests the presence of Extra Sensory Perception, usually abbreviated ESP.

    Psychological theories say that beings with a group mind would evolve in such a way that they are unable to recognize any being outside of the hive mind as anything but a threat.  I think this theory is flawed because it is based on the human nature of a strong sense of self and rapid adaptation where the individual must assess every living creature as friend, enemy, or food.  Many animals adapt over generations as a species, insects, ants in particular, can be seen walking a line even as a predator is eating them out of it.  The monarch butterfly is poisonous to birds, but birds adapt more individually, so whenever a bird eats a monarch they will vomit and learn not to eat that type of butterfly.  This works for the monarch species, because it means one butterfly lost per insect-eating bird as opposed to hundreds or thousands.  I believe species capable of intelligent thought with a group mind would more readily learn that working together is more beneficial than working alone, because they need only look to themselves to see that that is true.  In nature, some species of ant raise and care for aphids, another type of insect, that when stroked excrete a substance that those ants like to consume, even though those same ants could just as easily eat the same plants that the aphids eat.  The same thing happens with some breeds of honeypot ants where the honeypot ants are fed and cared for by other species of ant.  Now, it has been found that some species of ant in desert regions will collaborate with different ant colonies to invade other colonies to steal honeypot ants.  Personally I think these two things together is nature's commentary about how simple the concept of sharing and caring is and how embarrassed any more advanced creature should feel about making war when they should have been smart enough to do what they need to do to survive without stealing.  

    Going back to the upcoming episode, I am hoping that it really is based on the message of the Bob Dylan song which in the case of the changelings would point out that yes, for all time before changelings may have been parasitic in nature, but now they know better, and because they have the potential to control their need from becoming greed, change is not only possible, but would be beneficial.  For instance, changelings could serve as instantaneous communication officers between cities, construction sites, cartography expeditions, and especially in emergency response: fire, flood, medical, and finding lost ponies.  Changelings who dedicated themselves to professions in this last category might grow a bit fat from the love and appreciation ponies would heap upon them.  It's already been said that they can share love, so maybe they wouldn't get fat, but none of them would ever go hungry again, and everypony would benefit from their working together.

    Wouldn't that be beautiful?

    1 comments · 45 views
  • 46w, 6d
    Season Six Re-Titled - Part 1

    E01 - “The Apology For Previous Episodes Set In The Crystal Empire Part 1” or “Alicorns Are Like Super Saiyajin”

    E02 - “The Apology For Previous Episodes Set In The Crystal Empire Part 2” or “Books Are Mightier Than The Gods”

    E03 - “Who Is This O. Henry?”

    E04 - “No Pony Realizes Applebloom Is An Artist” or “Look At Mah Butt”

    E05 - “The Apology For Dragon Quest” or “The Legend Of Spyro Dawn Of The Dragon Was A Great Game Wasn't It?”

    E06 - “The Masquerade” or “Suicide By Vore Is Nothing To Laugh About”

    E07 - “The Apology For Wonderbolt Academy”

    E08 - “The Apology For Hearth's Warming Eve”

    E09 - “The Best Rarity Episode Since Season One”

    E10 - “The Best Applejack Episode Since Generation One”

    1 comments · 40 views
  • 62w, 6d
    More Dumb

    In the comedy anime Kaiketsu Zorori, there is a contest for, if I remember correctly, presenting a new invention.  Every entry in this contest turns out to be a self-boiling tea kettle.  I think this is considered a beginners magic trick in Japan, but how each of them got their kettles to boil was different.  One yelled at it, one embarrassed it, one just claimed it was the best thing ever, and when another famous character made a cameo appearance from Captain Frog making a grand speech about saving the day, there was hope for a moment before they too held up a tea kettle and were immediately kicked out of the universe.

    I tell you this little story, because it's carrying over to reality in a sorts, or maybe it came from reality and then was put into cartoon – I don't know, but not too long ago I started reading Her Knight in Faded Armor which started out with Princess Luna playing an MMORPG with her friends who don't know it's her.  I thought to myself how great of an idea this was, and the best part is that because there is the in game war, the plot could never go to actual war because that would be just silly.  

    Well, guess what fuckin' happened.

    Replace “self-boiling tea kettle” with “pointless war plot” in the above paragraph, and it's easy to see why I am ready to kick someone out of the universe.  Let me just jump right to the slap in the face: it's easy to write war because in war lots of mistakes happen, this is because war itself is nothing but a giant mistake.  War plots are the low hanging fruit of writing because the author gets to make many mistakes and blame it on the characters, allow themselves to have no idea of what's going on because no one else does, and when they've completely lost the direction of the plot they can just distract themselves and the readers by having a faction fight amongst themselves.

    In other words, war is a beginner's trick in writing.

    And what's so sad about it is that the story mentioned above, was going somewhere.  Luna's reason becoming a hikikomori was because she couldn't stand the pressure of life since coming back to Equestria.  I Really wanted to know how that was going to play out, and just maybe... one day... the author will answer that question, but I cannot bring myself to go swimming through the deep end of the cesspool to find out.  

    “Hey, Peach, are you sure you aren't just being a soft-skinned little bitch?”

    Oh, I am sure.  I hate gratuitous suffering, and that is no secret, but I keep reading The Book of Friendship which happens during a pointless war, where two ponies see more hatred and murder than they have ever imagined possible.  Yet, they do not allow themselves to be defeated by hatred.  Stories like this one are beautiful to read and nearly impossible to write, because the author creates great pain in themselves and at the same time offers unconditional forgiveness...

    Did you know that “Discord and Harmony” are musical terms?  In classical music teachings, every piece of music started with harmony, went into discord (or simply music that doesn't sound right), and then returned to harmony.  This empowered the music and made certain harmonies recognizable centuries later.  When the music is nothing but harmonies, it is sweet but often forgettable; something you might have in the background like elevator music.  When music is nothing but discords, the only moment the listener can enjoy is when it ends – this is how I see war stories.  I see the people who read them and worship them as cavemen beating themselves with clubs yelling “Me strong as rock because feel nothing!”

    Some famous limestone bust once said that all stories have already been written, and I think he said this to remind authors not to feel embarrassed that their stories are going to share very common themes with other stories.  So an author should not feel ashamed to have something bad happen then make it all better or even better than before. But I think someone forgot to tell the wartypists out there about these famous limestone words, because I can feel their embarrassment toward this clichéd writing style and they think themselves doing something more important by writing about war – as if their stories are above such criticisms because “They're saving lives”.   *Sigh* Has anyone ever told these pukes that they are also the murderers in their stories?  You know a writer can't write both the good guy and the bad guy and claim only responsibility for one of them.

    And I think somewhere inside the wartypists know they are being embarrassingly cliché, because they don't openly state that their story is about war, because then people like me could just pass it up as not interesting, no~ they have to PROVE that their war has meaning by surprising the audience, just like Captain Frog had to surprise the audience with his self-boiling tea kettle, even though they had already seen a dozen just a split second before!

    “What, so all you want is a nice idealistic sugar bowl with no real substance?!”

    War stories take everything bright and beautiful and burn it to ashes.  If at the end of the story the best thing the main character(s) has to say is “At least I survived” then it was a song of nothing but discords and the story was a failure.  Ideally, I want a story that gives me characters I admire and look up to, I want to learn from a story, I want my time spent reading a story to feel like a worthwhile chapter in my own life, however, if my only other option is an idealistic sugar bowl then, yes: I would rather have a sugar bowl than an ash tray.

    7 comments · 83 views
  • 69w, 6d
    How To Be a Loser

    The real losers in the world want the world to be eaten by zombies, get nuked, or astorioid-ed, and they want this so that they can live out the fantasy of being the lone survivor with a gun and a bunker full of ammo and canned beans.  I used to think that such people were jokes, but about five years ago I met a sixty something year old man who did all of this, and he was a loser.

    This man, whom I shall call HumanP, was self-important and always wishing that he had something to prove that he was better than everyone else.  He pushed everyone he knew away with his hate filled words, he never showed appreciation for what others did, and was very prideful of anything he thought he knew.  Once when I explained something beyond what he knew about it, he became so angry, he cussed me out right there.

    I've known him for five years.  During this time, I was the only person who would visit him or even answer his calls. He died this year without a friend in the world, and no, I was not his friend.  I was the person trying to teach him how to make and keep friends.  I wasn't there when HumanP died, and this was very important, because if I was there, he wouldn't have been gripped with the fear of being absolutely alone with the knowledge that no one cares about his passing and no one is waiting to greet him in what he believes comes next.

    I hope that his last thoughts were spent realizing that all of his ammo and bean storage, all of his hate-filled words and deeds, all of his self-centered and selfish behavior amounts to nothing in the end.  There was no apocalypses to give him permission to steal the lives of others or to justify his hateful attitude or to glorify his pride in his guns – just a sick helpless old man lying in a bed with not a single instance that made his life redeemable.  

    Buddhists believe that the state of one's next incarnation is dictated by the state of their mind just before death, so they often practice envisioning dying and thinking about two good deeds that they have done.  I take this meditation a little further and imagine my life as a movie, and I ask myself: if my life was a movie, what am I doing to make it watchable?  If I cut out all the boring parts, is my life a touching story about a brave person doing the right thing, or a waste of time about a delusional self-aggrandized coward?

    All of the above is food for thought for the story writers I have encountered on this site, not everyone, but the ones who write about ponies or people taking a murderous fight against other ponies or people and ESPECIALLY for stories where humans think they have a reason to go killing ponies.  These authors are the ones who write themselves in as the guy with the gun killing everyone for some piss poor reason all for the sake of giving meaning to their life.  All the fantasy in the world of being the lone gunman against the world doesn't mean anything when you are dying in a bed... But the fantasy of being a good friend... fantasizing about being a good friend, leads to being a good friend.  It leads to forgiveness and hope and trust and it gives meaning to life.  

    Every year around this time, I watch It's a Wonderful Life: a movie about a man who is selfless and was shown how his selflessness changed the world for the better.  All things equal, I would rather die in that bed knowing that I gave people reason to love me rather than have tried to threaten respect out of them.  So to you the writers, if you must write about gun toting fools who have traded friendship for firepower, remember to show the story for what it really is: a tragedy.

    3 comments · 64 views
  • 70w, 5d
    Wut?

    Reminder that social-network style blog posts that encourage you to repost them are not allowed.

    For anyone who saw this message recently, I am the cause of it.  I answered 50 questions about my headcanon, the questions were from another user, and this resulted in both our blog posts being deleted without warning.

    It is my fault for not paying closer attention to TOS, however, now that I am aware of this detail, I cannot agree with it at all.  If the exact same questionnaire appeared on one of the groups it would not have been seen treated this way.  The way I see it, the questionnaire has the ability to inspire writers by opening them to views that were not something they had thought of previously.  I am confused about why Fimfiction would supply blogging ability, which on sites like this is meant to encourage creativity, then shoot down the type of posts that most inspire others to write.

    3 comments · 57 views
  • 79w, 5d
    The One Where the Writer Sucked

    Oh wait, that's most of them...

    In S1E20 “Green Isn't Your Color”, it is established that nopony keeps secrets better than Pinkie Pie.  Keeping secrets and not being fazed by them is part of who Pinkie is.  It stems from an ability to see life as it is and not demand it to conform to her paradigm.  This is why she is not afraid of the unknown.

    The scenes in this episode weren't bad, but I could not get into it while knowing that the primary conflict was once again based on a game of pretend the writer had when they were five after saying, “Hey, let's have them act in ways they would never actually act ever!”

    3 comments · 69 views
  • 110w, 4d
    Why Do Authors?

    Why do authors post chapters as they write them instead of waiting and posting the whole story when it is finished?

    3 comments · 117 views
  • 111w, 19h
    A Fix We Still Need on This Site

    Just a moment ago, I clicked on the Statistics button at the top of the page, and now I am just about livid, but maybe not for the reason you are thinking.

    When I was shown this site in 2012, there was an amazing feature I had never seen on any other site, which was a word counter: every time a user clicked a story, it added the word count of that story to the word counter.  To me, this was beautiful and encouraging – it encouraged users to read more, because even if a user didn't enjoy a story to their highest hopes, reading it counted toward their book experience points, or at least that is how I thought about the counter.

    I don't think I have ever gone into the details, but let me explain why this feature, which seems to have been removed from the site, meant so much to me.  Thanks to the school system, I used to be scared of reading, I would get physical pain from the mental stress of trying to read, so very often, if the first paragraph or two of a book did not blow my mind with sheer awesomeness, I dropped it, and didn't even give it another thought.  However, I'm honest in a weird way because I didn't want that word counter to give a false reading, so when I was about to click off of stories that didn't interest me right away, I asked myself was it worth it to click back and mark the story as unread and lose all XP I would have added to my counter or would I rather just finish the story.  Most of the time, this got me to trudge forward through the story, many times discovering that it was worth the read.

    It was a positive and encouraging system that just by being there caused many people to read more, and not just pony fiction, but for me personally it helped to break the fear that reading had over me.  I can honestly say that I have read more in the past three years, than I have in the ten before finding this site.  I was not one of them, but I also believe that writers were inspired by this system, because with people eager to read, authors could publish their work with greater confidence that it would be read without getting blown off.  Now... What I mean about that is, a common fear among writers is that their stories will not be read because they do not catch the attention of the reader fast enough.  Good stories take time to get to the good part, because in order for that good part to be enjoyable, back story must be set up.  Young writers especially fear this, because young readers, and people who are gun shy toward reading, do in fact neglect stories that are not written with an explosive introduction.  The counter gave writers enough peace of mind to not hyperventilate while writing.  

    But now there is this statistics page that shows not what the user has read, but a year-to-date chart of information that all equates to a user's popularity! … And why does this anger me so?  Because like before, when you put a counter in front of someone, they tend to start obeying that counter.  For the word counter before, no one told me I had to make that number go up; I just like to see it go up, so it stands to reason that users would now want to see their story count, story views, and followers and blog posts go up.  This is all a problem, because a truly great story may take a year to write while the author works out in their mind how all the details work together.  One author told me how his characters' knowledge of medicine and computer science was an on going process, because he himself was having to learn more and more about these things to accurately write the characters who used them.  Others are massively long with deep existential details, such as Background Pony, but if you get a foal to think that they should get their story count up, they are not going to think about writing good stories, neither will they write long stories, oh no no no; they will write short pieces of crap that are written desperately screaming so loud for attention that the feeling of reading them is as jarring as being in the mosh pit of a heavy metal concert.

    I will not link anypony to garbage, but on this site there was, and hopefully isn't anymore, a story where the author has become a changeling that falls into the middle of ponyville.  He proceeds to act stupid and hateful, but because this character was the author, is allowed to get away with everything, constantly “outsmarting” all of the other characters, because the author was too twelve to realize that such behavior would never be tolerated by any living being.

    I don't know if this story was on the site before hoof, stupidity will happen either way, but with this statistics system in place, users who have no real passion to create through writing nor interest in sharpening their skills as a writer, will start posting whatever falls out of their brain just to get those numbers up, flooding the site with litter, making it so that the passionate reader has to wade through more garbage that wouldn't have been there had the system not been in place to find the real and passionate authors on this site.

    I cannot possibly think of how the previous word counter feature could do any harm to a person's self esteem but I have explained how it has helped me personally; I cannot see how the user statistics can do any good, but I have personally witnessed this same neurotic personal statistics system destroy an artist over the last five years as I have watched him obsess over these statistics, constantly putting himself down because he was not as popular as who ever happen to out rank him.  This is extremely sad, because the artist was talented and when left to his own devices, would create works of art that brought him true fans.

    The major difference between the two, besides the obvious effects, is that the user has direct control over how many stories they read and any attempts to abuse this system for whatever stupidity a person could come up with will have no effect on any other user's enjoyment of the rest of the site, but the current statistics system is beyond the user's control and can be abused by flooding the site with stories to increase the chance that one of theirs is clicked, and by creating multiple accounts and clicking on stories in the first account to boost their submission views.  This behavior does effect other users' experience of the site, because featured stories are chosen based on being newest and by having high view counts and/or upvote to downvote ratios.  

    To Knighty and the staff of FimFiction, please remove this pathologic statistic system that only aids in making users hate themselves and/or the other users on this site, and please bring back the word counter that was on this site previously, so that we may all enjoy a positive and encouraging experience on this site.

    0 comments · 68 views
  • 145w, 2d
    THIS!

    1 comments · 123 views
  • 159w, 5d
    My Initial Thoughts on the My Little Pony Collectable Card Game

    The ancient philosopher Pythagoras held that: that which is real is defined by that which can be enumerated.  Perhaps it is for that reason that trading cards didn't have any meaning for me until they were turned into a game, then they became an obsession.  

    I desire to make the people, places, things, and events in the cards more real.  The purposeful numbers and fact that one could not possess all the cards instantaneously, greatly increased this sense of realism, but the big eye opener for me came with the Weatherlight expansion to Magic the Gathering.  In that box was a booklet explaining the story of that expansion, and every card within was a snapshot of that story.  This turned every game into a story building event where every play through had a different ending.  

    Card games hit a new orgasmic high when Neopets came out with a card game.  Neopets has always been heavy on stories and art, so not only were there new stories and characters, but also new art to open a greater window into the world of Neopia.  

    With that in mind, my primary focus on the MLP CCG was the art.  However, after opening this booster box, the artwork for the game appears to have been taken exclusively from the show itself.  This turns me off for the same reason that non-game trading cards do – there is nothing new.  There are a few pictures I don't recognize, but it is hard to tell whether they are new, or from a scene I forgot.

    Now, about the MLP CCG specifically:

    The game has some fun mechanics.  For starters, the players are taking on the role of one of the characters from the show, and face problems cards instead of each other.  This makes me happy because it encourages working toward something instead of against someone, but on the same note, I have seen many cards that interfere with the opponent's attempts to solve a problem.  I can't help but feel that this negates the non-confrontational mechanic, on the other hoof, however, if I'm playing a mane character, someone has to play the “bad guy”... So each player has to play the other player's “bad guy”.  I just wish this would have been explicitly stated in the rule book, because even at my age, it is not hard to get into the mindset of being a wonderful friendly pony, and then losing the friend across the table because of taking their actions personally.

    The game currently has six power types, one for each of the elements of harmony.  Each power type has a different style of play, for example: Yellow (kindness) cards (generally) accumulate more power to solve a problem the more of them there are at that problem where as White (generosity) cards focus on adding more victory points when a problem is solved.

    I ordered a sealed booster box from the factory, and recently had time to look through them.  Out of the whole 432 cards, I did not acquire any “mane character” cards.  Since a “mane character” is required to play at all, this means a player must buy a starter deck.  This does not make me happy.  In terms of game design, this aspect is very limiting, and forces players to buy another starter deck if they want to attempt playing another element as their main element.  Also, the mane character is supposed to be the character whom the player is role playing.  It's not that I have any other character that I would particularly like to play, but I have met some adamant fans of other characters who probably feel that this action is forcing their favorites to take another step into the background.  

    Each pack has exactly one rare and three uncommons, and may also contain a foil card or an ultra rare card.  Foil cards are copies of other cards in the game, some of which are rare and others common.  The ultra rare cards are appropriately named, because there were only three in the whole box.

    Based on a whole box, one can safely assume that the ratios per pack are as follows:

    Commons – 6-7:1

    Uncommons – 3:1

    Rares – 1:1

    Foils – 1:4

    Ultra Rares – 1:12

    In my personal opinion (and for game designers reading this), the game suffers the unnecessary complication of having three devisions (decks) of cards.  The problem deck is a good thing, and the main deck is obviously necessary, but since the mane character is also separate from both of these, even though a player can only have one per game, it counts as its own deck.  Expert organizers, and long term gamers will most likely put each stack in different colored deck protectors, but since this game has a starting age of ten, many players probably won't have the money or experience to do that, thus, set up for the game may become obnoxious for those players.  Additionally, since the problem deck is separate from the main deck, I really don't understand why the backing for these cards weren't made slightly different.  If they were, it would be easier to separate them by the backing if they were accidentally shuffled (dropped on the floor).

    Anyway, I like the game, and I hope that everypony reading this will help keep this game in production.  Obviously, doing this means buying cards, but it also means teaching others how to play and playing at your local gaming stores and pony meets, even if you have to ask a friend to go there with you just to show others that this game does have people who play it and is not just something that hangs in that bizarrely deserted part of Target.

    2 comments · 114 views
  • 188w, 3d
    Why Humans Suck

    Did you know that humans suck?  To many cartoon fanatics this is a fact of life so obvious that for at least three generations it has not needed to be spoken aloud, but some writers of MLP fiction need to be told this obvious truth.  The following essay is for those writers who, for whatever sick and twisted reason, turn ponies into humans in their writing.

    Consider one of the most well known super heroes of all time: Superman.  Superman started in 1938 as a comic and was most recently seen in the 2013 movie Man of Steel.  Superman has unexplainable powers beyond what scientists would consider probable in this chapter of humanity's history.  Most fans of Superman enjoy Superman stories because of his powers beyond that of today's human, such as: Xray vision, impermeability to bullets and radiation, super strength, and the ability to fly by seemingly supernatural means, but here is the kicker – Superman is not a man.  That's right, Superman is not a human, he is an alien from another planet that happens to look like a human.  

    For some reason, a loud minority of Fimfiction writers enjoy turning ponies into humans who somehow believe that doing so enhances ponies – raises them from a lower state of being to a higher state of being.  If the ponies of Equestria were as horses on Earth, then there would be some very obvious benefits such as increased brain capacity, color vision, a better placement of the eyes, a longer lifespan, and better hearing, but Equestrian ponies are not animals of Earth.  Equestrian ponies have a brain capacity, color vision, and hearing that are on par or greater than humanity's.  Their eyes are optimally suited for their species and they have a lifespan much longer than humans, many writers estimate a minimum of 400 years.  

    A long lifespan doesn't automatically make a being superior, nor does it necessarily make a character interesting enough to be the main character in stories.  However, there are three types of ponies with magical powers unique to each type and any of which beyond the capacity of a human being.  Earth ponies seem relatively normal until their strength and stamina are shown.  Sometimes insultingly called the “work horse”, Earth ponies seem to have no end to their stamina, working, playing, or bouncing in every step, the Earth pony only ever seems to get tired after twelve or more full hours of constant heavy work.  In “Fall Weather Friends”, Applejack, an Earth pony, kicks a strength tester and breaks it launching both the tester piece and the bell an unknown distance away.  If the strength tester had the same structural integrity as those of humanity, her kick would have an estimated 4,000lbs of force at the moment of impact.  It has been suggested that Earth ponies age better as well, remaining physically active until the week of their death.  In addition to these preternatural inheritances, Earth ponies have the magical ability to cause plants to grow faster and bigger than they could in nature.  Earth ponies can cause an apple seed to grow the equivalent of 60 days after germination in two seconds by touching it or by being in close vicinity.

    Then there are pegasi, the winged ponies who can fly.  Compared to the amazing powers of the Earth pony, pegasi seem quite weak.  Regardless of weather, pegasi can fly through it, because they are surrounded by a magical force that steadies them and any object to which they are tethered, such as chariots.  This magical surrounding acts as a shield toward air and water allowing pegasi to magically control the weather and walk on clouds.  The pegasus is most protected from forces of nature because their magical shield toward weather means they have no need of a permanent dwelling, they are perfectly at home in the clouds, and as such protected from any natural predator.  Lastly, the magical shield surrounding pegasi grant them the ability to survive compression waves such as a sonic boom or the vortex of a tornado, that would crush or rip a part a human body.  

    With such a description it's hard to believe that the last of the pony types is actually the most gifted as far as range of abilities go.  The unicorn pony can touch the nature of reality directly.  In the last two paragraphs I have used the word magic because I wanted to avoid the matter of science until now.  In truth, the unicorn pony has the power to manipulate energy on any level.  If you happen to be familiar with M theory, unicorns can touch all the way down to string level.  What this means is there is nothing that unicorns cannot do, but the individual unicorn is limited by their personal understanding of the energy they manipulate.  Unicorns can for example hold objects in telekinesis, they can travel through time, they can teleport either from line of sight or to a relative location in the universe that is known to them, they can change how others perceive reality, and on top of this they can imbue beings or objects with their ability creating magical machines doing a single task or an array of tasks controlled automatically as if a program or by the will of any being given permission to control them.  It might be easiest to think of unicorns as computer programmers where life itself is the computer on which they program.  In this sense, given enough time, enough dedicated unicorns, along with trust, a team of unicorns could develop a systematic understanding and control of nature that could easily be defined as godhood.

    From this perspective it should be easy to see that any type of Equestrian pony has a massive advantage over a regular human being as far as adaptiveness to nature goes.  The only possible want of an Equestrian pony to be human is if they were stuck on Earth where everything made is made for humans, however, even this is unlikely because each type could still find a satisfaction of using their unique abilities to help them cope and would not want to lose this part of themselves.  

    What does that have to do with Superman?  Well, you see, besides not being human and loving it, what makes the Superman comics and movies and everything else interesting is that Superman is more than human.  Not many people know this, but the english word “super” comes from the German word, “uber”, which literally translates “above”, so Superman's very name explains his claim to fame: “Above (the race of) man”.  Both Superman and MLP fall in the genre of Fantasy, and the genre of fantasy is made interesting and is defined by the fact that it surpasses what man can do or currently understand.  Some would say it is defined by things that are impossible, however, some of yesterday's fantasy has become today's reality.  Returning to the topic of my essay, “why humans suck” the answer is simply because humans are boring compared to ponies, and turning a pony into a human through writing sucks away all of the interesting parts about MLP.  

    Obviously, I cannot talk about this without bringing up Hasbro's clusterfuck of making Equestia Girls.  From everything I have gathered, Hasbro only did this to make money off of the toys and did not think about the fans nor how it would affect the canon of the story... Actually, I am fairly sure Hasbro does not give a flying damn about the canon of the story, but let's have a look at the movie.  In order to be interested in MLP, one has to be a fan of fantasy, however, it is no spoiler that most of the movie is spent in a high school setting devoid of any magical elements.  This would be like watching a Superman movie where somehow Superman swallows kryptonite in the first ten minutes of the movie and the rest of the movie is spent watching Clark Kent work at his day job devoid of anything that makes him super.  It is obvious to see that such a movie could only be labeled as a Superman movie because it briefly mentions the franchise.  I have no doubt that the fans of Superman would be outraged for such a cock tease and not only demand their money back but also that the creators of such a monstrosity commit sepuku for their sins.  The only reason that this has not happened with Equestria Girls is because an unfortunate amount of fans of MLP are following it for the hype rather than out of a genuine love of the show.

    Truthfully, anyone can write anything they want about MLP, but it is only the fan who follows the show out of genuine love that bothers to read any real length of a single work of fanfiction.  This can be seen by the favorites of a particular writing that short stories have more views and favorites than long stories, however, a long work of fiction featuring known pony characters as humans will be virtually devoid of favorites because the genuine fans do not even want to imagine their beloved characters being morphed into anything other than who they are.  Therefore, I close this essay in a simple request to the aforementioned writers: for the sake of the genuine fans of this show, please stop making our beloved ponies boring.

    ATTENTION

    Due to the incredible amount of stupidity going on in my blog I feel that it is time I post some rules.

    Stay on topic.

    Do not start fights.

    Do not post pictures or YouTube links (use your own words).

    Lastly, your first post MUST pertain to the original blog post.  This is just a nice way of saying, again, stay on topic.

    Violations of these rules will result in blocking.  Please read my comments below for details.

    130 comments · 1,639 views
Apr
18th
2014

I'd like to start off a bit lighthearted.  While going through the 63 packs of cards I opened, I noticed a misprint so laughable it now has it's own entry on the MLP CCG Rules FAQ, and this is the card Marvelous Chapeau, or as I have been calling it “The Giant Hat of Win”, which reads “While this Friend is at an opponent's Problem, If you have at least 3(white) in play, you need 1(of any color) to confront that Problem” - It was supposed to read “-1(of any color)”.

Another homage I have to point out comes from the first CCG, Magic the Gathering, which I don't care much about, but in its Alpha series (the first release) there was a card known as “The Black Lotus” that allowed the player to have a significant advantage during the early part of the game by giving them extra temporary mana (the equivalent of action tokens in MLP).  Today, that card is still valued as the rarest and most desirable card in MTG.  The MLP CCG has Heart's Desire, which I recognized as a reference to that card by it's play, but the flavor text really tickled me.  The fact that it too is an Ultra Rare, is probably part of the homage.

Well, now that I am done with the silly stuff, it's time to get a bit serious.  I dug through the rules over and over, which eventually led me to the first link above to find the complete rules of the game, and reading them I am crushed.  I consider myself a Twilight type in that I am a touch obsessive over checking details, so even though the wording for basically all of the Mane Six's abilities had to be explained in the rules, Fluttershy's and Twilight's abilities (Caretaker and Studious) do not stack.  This is a big problem because all of the other abilities either stack or offer a greater bonus.  I am not a competitive player for anything, but most purple cards have a higher cost and requirement than other colors, so it isn't hard to see that stacking this ability would offset the cost of those cards, and yellow is comprised of about five non-critters, only two of which have Caretaker, so for these two it's not so much a bonus mechanic, but a question of why didn't these characters just have one added to their normal power?

For those who don't know:

Caretaker is a keyword that gives +1 power to the character when there is a Critter Friend involved at that problem, but only receives one point regardless of the number of Critter Friends.

Studious gives an action point when winning a Faceoff, but only only one action point may be received during a Faceoff regardless of how many characters have this Keyword.

According to one youtuber, Twilight and the purple color cards are last choice for competitive play, and I have to agree that these mechanics do not seem balanced.  One could say that the other cards of that color balance everything, but if that were the case, because all decks must be two colors, that just unbalances the rest of the game when a player chooses that color as a secondary color... Long story short, Caretaker and Studious Should stack, but don't.

Well~ As I said, I am a bit light Twilight, so I decided to take stock of the decks in order to gain an idea how to build them.  Enterplay has been a little too predictable about this, because all of the decks except for Twilight's, which has 14/14 Friends, have this construction:

15 primary color Friends

13 secondary color Friends

6 Events

7 Resources

4 Troublemakers

Since the game is so new, it's hard to say how any deck should be built, and what it comes down to is how other players are building their decks anyway, so there isn't much that can be said about this.

Chatoyance suggested alternative rules can sometimes make a game work better, and even though I have not had the opportunity to get in more than just a few games, I do have some ideas that can round the rough edges left by Enter-play.

Impressive Backgrounds

An Alternative Rule System for the MLP CCG

When using these rules, games will be played normally except for the changes described.  Games are played without a Mane Character, instead, players are allowed to play Friends with a requirement of up to one of any color without actually having that color in play.  A player may choose at anytime to designate one of their characters in play as a Mane Character.  Once this choice has been made, it cannot be changed.  This character now takes on the role of a Mane Character, and cannot become the target of cards that read “play on a Friend”.  If any of the cards played on this character could not be played on a Mane Character, dismiss them.

Since some cards can dismiss Friends, there is a possibility that a player will end up without any characters in play.  Being able to designate a Mane Character can prevent that, and allows rarer cards with nice abilities to surface with an even chance for both players.  Strategically, waiting to designate a Mane Character can allow a player to shake off unwanted Resource cards played against that character, but opponents may still be able to use this to their advantage by loading down a particular character before the player has played their best character, in hopes of dismissing the better character should one come into play.

Seriously – The abilities Caretaker and Studious stack, nuff said.

A Sea of Troublemakers – A face down Troublemaker is not turned face up if there is already a face up Troublemaker on that problem, but instead stays in play face down until it can be turned face up.  Only one face down Troublemaker may “wait” in this fashion.  A player may still dismiss the active Troublemaker for the face down Troublemaker during their Troublemaker phase, but may not change the order of the Troublemaker “line”.

Cluster Cuss – During Faceoffs, not only do you add the power of your characters involved at problems, but also the power of your Resource cards played on that problem or to any Friends involved at that problem, including your cards played on opponent's characters involved in that Faceoff.

99 Problems – Play happens with one central problem deck, where two problems are dealt to either side.  Both players only need to meet the any color side of the problem to confront it.  With this rule, no player receives the bonus for being the first to successfully confront this problem, however, if a player is able to confront the specific requirements, they receive an additional point every time they successfully confront the problem this way.

High Standard – Play to 30 points instead of 15.  Action token cap remains at 5... What?  You expected something more?

I.B. Drafting *Snicker* - This game uses all of the Incredible Backgrounds rules above, so players involved should discuss the rules before play, and agree on any changes made to them.  A draft can be played with eight players and six packs of cards.  Each player will open a pack of cards, remove all problem cards placing them in a pile in the center of the table, take one card from the remaining cards in the pack, and pass the pack to the left until there are no more cards.  This happens for each pack alternating the pass direction every pack.  When this is finished, each players selects 45 cards to use as their deck.  The other cards may be switched out between games.  The problems are shuffled then divided into one deck for each pair of players.  Players are randomly paired and play two out of three games with each opponent to determine the winner of that round.  After each round, the Problem cards are collected and randomized again.

When the draft is completed, the problem cards are divided into eight face down stacks, and each player is chosen at random, then that player chooses a stack to keep.  This is so that they know how many cards are in each stack, but not what cards.  

Rewards for drafting can vary, collectors and starting players may opt to draft for no rewards other than expanding their card collection and having fun.  More confident players may wish to play so that the winner of the draft gets an unopened pack of cards from each of the other players, or some other pony related reward that everypony helps buy.  I say pony related reward, because any reward outside of MLP turns the game into a tool for gambling, and although I don't really have a problem with gambling itself, using non-MLP rewards will attract ruthless players only interested in winning for the reward and not for the sake of enjoying My Little Pony.

Because this plan for drafting requires a minimum of 48 packs of cards, I highly recommend that interested players split the cost of a booster box from a wholesaler.  Booster boxes have 36 packs of cards, meaning 12 additional packs will still have to be purchased.  One method to consider is to split the cost of two booster boxes and use the remaining packs as prizes: participants of the second round will each get a pack, participants of the third will each get three packs, and the two finalists each get seven packs.

At current prices, each player will have to spend about $21.25, however, due to buying in bulk and tax, this is slightly less than what a pony would expect to pay for six packs of cards from a retail store anyway.  Canterlot Nights is about to be released, and I imagine drafting would be a great way to get a head start on anypony's collection, as well as keep the game fresh and exciting.

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