Plato’s Digital Cave


Admittedly, summer has been particularly slow in regards to blog content. Perhaps it’s the lazy days of the season that make writing out of reach for me, or possibly because I just didn’t have much going on that warranted a blog post. However, that has changed.

I’m going to talk about World of Warcraft and game addiction. More specifically, my own experiences with the game and what happened as a result.

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The Cost of Benefits


This has been an article I wanted to write for quite a long time. I had to approach the subject matter with utmost care, because of the intimate nature inherent to this discussion. Naturally, this is going to discuss sexuality in a frank manner. I will mention some personal stuff, but I’ll try to keep it discrete enough so that the emphasis is more on learning from this than indulging in salacious details.

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Thoughts From an iPhone Screen Episode 1: Mom

I am trying a new format for short form blogging that focuses on word economy and capturing the mood of moment. It may read more like poetry than journalism, but that’s part of the beauty of such language… Anyways, on with it.
Mom- I didn’t plan to see you tonight,

Playing games with friends before vacation,

Nose is still stuffy from remnants of a cold,

Coughing because I gotta get home to take the NyQuil. Got lozenges though,

Things still suck,

Breakup blues, therapy droughts due to us going on vacation, wondering why I didn’t see it coming…

I talk to lots of people though,

Turns out I’ve come real,

But even though I know,

It’s still hard to see,
Sometimes I wonder,

Do I even know what I want?

I’ve been wrong about myself before,

And sometimes other people know more,

But that’s scary, no doubt,

Maybe that’s why no says it,

Sometimes you have no better explanation than “things are just shitty sometimes”

Old and big problems alike,

Don’t get fixed overnight,

Wishful thinking is fruitless,

Hinders real solutions, rea possibilities,

But coming to see you tonight, mom,

Made things just a little bit better,

It’s all I ever could have asked,

I’m so grateful,
I don’t talk about death a lot,

Who wants to talk about it,

But all sorts of ideas surround it,

By people far smarter than I.
But what was an end to your life was a beginning of mine,

Everything, and everyone, all changed,

For better or for worse,

I find to reductive to suggest death has one true feeling, one true emotion,

It can mean so many different things,

To so many different people,

All of it mixing together,

To create fucks knows what,
I’m not angry at you,

I do not blame you,

That changes nothing,

But I will say this,

I am in many ways grateful,

I knew someone so kind,

Someone who cared,

One with a unique touch,

But I am honest oh my approach,

I miss you so much,

I  am glad I saw you today,

A Moment of Darkness, or Perhaps Longer…


I had hoped to return this summer with a triumphant amount of discussion about the relationship I cultivated this spring, maybe some interesting anecdotes and things that I learned. Alas, that can’t happen. While my ex and I had been broken up for a while now, we still talked until a couple of days ago.

This has been a very difficult period of time for me, and it has interacted with my depression in a largely predictable fashion. I have hinted at my depression in some posts, but I have never given it a real examination.

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Things to Look For In a Tabletop RPG


I love Dungeons & Dragons, everyone already knows this. But, I found myself wanting to go outside of that game in both setting and mechanics. My players got roped into running a D20 Modern¬†campaign, which was a bit of a shock to my players who were used to 5e’s more streamlined approach when they opened up the skill and feat lists. D20 Modern’s character sheet has been removed from Wizard of the Coast’s website, perhaps stuffed in its archive mode.

A Google search leads to a fan-made character sheet, and you can only find the books at game stores that sell used copies (Games and Stuff gets a shout out here) or Amazon. It was during my search for a system (which I will write about in an upcoming post since I did manage to find one) that I eventually came to understand something in RPG product reviews.

I found that many product reviews lack a lot of information that I personally wanted to know. Usually, they boiled down to discussing mechanics and general “feel” of the system, but would only bring up cost and such in a very basic way. So, I wanted to compile a list of criteria that I had for purchasing a tabletop roleplaying game.

Cost of Entry

Simply put, if one wants to actually start playing, what do they need? I often hear about prices for core rulebooks discussed as if they’re in a vacuum when you usually need additional implements such as dice to play. This usually means that I end up looking at the introduction to find out what else I need, such as decks of cards, dice, and so forth.

Partly because my players are college students, and also because I try to be budget-conscious with my gaming decisions, I tend to go for systems that are less than $30 to buy core rulebooks for. Even now, my players are still getting their own copies of the 5e Player’s Handbook, which is understandable when the only thing separating you from total starvation is Cup Noodles.

Ease of Use and Ease of Explanation

Some RPG systems require a veteran player to show you the ropes. This doesn’t make them bad, but it’s severely limiting if you have a player base that doesn’t consist of veterans and you yourself don’t have experience with the system. My nightmare with playing the Star Wars RPG by Fantasy Flight Games is such an example. I’m sure that if a veteran sat down with me and ran through the entire system that I’d eventually get it. ¬†But, can a completely fresh group sit down and play through a setting without succumbing to boredom?

System Flexibility and Portability

Dungeons and Dragons and, by extension, Pathfinder are exempt from this rule because of their popularity. However, for other games, I’ve found system flexibility to be a key issue when determining whether or not I want to purchase a new system. Since every system takes time to learn, it’s better to have a few systems that you use a lot as opposed to many systems that are only used in select circumstances (unless you have really patient or voracious players and money to burn).

In fact, I found myself looking for a “Not-D&D” system, which could be used when modifying D&D was too impractical and I wanted something that D&D didn’t specialize in.

Of course, there are systems that are good at solving particular design issues, such as GUMSHOE which does investigative play.

Publisher Support

Of course, when you play a tabletop RPG, you are going to have to visit the publisher’s page to download a character sheet. Additionally, you’ll probably want to see if they have additional rules supplements, campaign settings, premade adventures.

Are the character sheets printer friendly? I’ve seen many times where an aesthetically pleasing sheet gets the axe from me because of the sheer volume of ink it would require (even worse when they make these sheets in color). Are they form-fillable in PDF form? They don’t necessarily need to be since you’ll be erasing and writing stuff down anyway, but it is certainly nice if you have poor handwriting and need to write in static content.

Is there an easily accessible reference sheet that players or the GM can use? One RPG I looked at, which had problems with book organization, compounded this by having no GM or player reference sheet. Something that can be inserted into a GM screen is extremely helpful.

Is there a free introductory adventure meant to acclimate players and GMs to the game? Does the publisher have a “Getting Started” section that helps potential buyers pick what they need to play? Are there introductory rules for the game that can be downloaded as a PDF and played free of charge?

Is there a System Reference Document? How thorough is it? Has some content been removed or expanded upon? Has errata been covered on the publisher’s site?

This is a particular bugbear of mine (pun very much intended) because I find that nothing sours me on a system than a website that’s difficult to navigate or that is lacking content. If I don’t feel that the publisher is really supporting the product, it’s hard for me to get invested.

By the same token, there needs to be an easy access point, lest a neophyte get inundated with the sheer number of options. Otherwise, people will have no idea where to start.


But a game where people play together is only as good as the people who play it. How easy is it to find a community? Do they have presences on Facebook, Reddit, and other channels?

Are they exchanging house rules? Settings? How is the user generated content handled?

I must confess that Wizards of the Coast’s method of focusing on premade adventures as opposed to rules supplements was a strategy I didn’t understand very well until I looked at the corresponding community pages like DM’s Guild. In actuality, a publisher should not act as an opener of floodgates, showering players with content. Instead, there should be a mix of publisher and community support, creating an ecosystem where content can be shared.

So, I find this list to be something that I would use in any given review of tabletop RPGs, and eventually, I’ll submit some reviews of my own.

Greetings From the Fish Tank!



“Damn it, Paul. This is the last time you drive!”


So, now that the technical problems have for the most part been resolved, it’s time to get back to business. I decided that since I was about to enter a state of doing nothing (with the exception of planning multiple tabletop RPG campaigns), it would be worthwhile to devote some of my time to something longer term. My thoughts turned to raising a pet, but I couldn’t get anything that could potentially fight with our family dogs. We certainly couldn’t get anything that would end up becoming dinner for them (they celebrated Easter by eating rabbits).

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