Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wearing Clothes


The above table can be downloaded from my wiki, at this page.  It is perfectly safe, I assure you.

As the wiki says, the table is intended to simplify difficulties surrounding the wearing of clothing in different weathers, with the general purpose of assigning damage to those who wear too much clothing or too little.  I have not made a practical use of this table: it has come into existence due to collaboration with the players of my Juvenis campaign, which has not been around as long as a week.  The work could not have been done without the help of Dani, a regular contributor to the blog, an ex-student of my tutorials and one of the persons running in the Juvenis campaign.

I hope that the generator will be of help to other DMs in other games.  I've played around with it a bit and I'm very pleased.  I'm sure my players will be, also.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Mass Experience

Having put up the markets for the online campaign, we can get that content off this blog.  I know you are all interested, but we can go back to other things and the gentle reader can go to the two campaign blogs to see what's going on.

The old campaign: Senex.
The new campaign: Juvenis.

I thought for a long time about what to call them, without the new people feeling downtrodden.  Latin seemed best.  And so did trying to do it on two blogs, as I have tried two campaigns on one blog and it is confusing.  All previous campaigns to now can be found in the back pages of the Senex blog.

Running a campaign is, I think, a huge help in blogging.  It reminds me of things that need to be done, it pushes me to get them done and it pushes me to address issues that players have a tendency to take for granted.

For example, experience.  For those not familiar with my experience rules, for the purpose of this post I suggest reading them.  The key element here is that I award experience for damage caused, not for kills.  This means that two combatants can slam away at one another, then quit fighting, and both get experience for the conflict.

This is critical, I think, to a philosophy of what experience is and how it is gathered.

In the old system, for example, where monsters or opponents have to be killed, experience is a limited resource.  There are only so many monsters and only so many people to kill them, so any experience I gain is necessarily experience you cannot.  Moreover, it presumes that the ONLY experience that can be gained is accomplished by murderers . . . and since we know that the general population do not go out and kill things, it is reasonable to presume that the general population has zero experience.

In my system, however, two boys punching each other out in a schoolyard are gaining experience.  Which is exactly what happens ~ remember that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.  The grit and passion of the British Soldier at Kandahar, in the Sudan and as they marched into the guns at Concord was founded by a school system that supported a degree of physical violence that gave the Brit "mettle."  A combat system for D&D ought to reflect that ruffians and hooligans in a bar, who may not have killed anyone, must still be capable of putting up a hell of a fight.

I challenge anyone to offer evidence that the strength and power of any army was based on how many soldiers it killed; fighting forces are founded in discipline, resolve, a sense of home and family ~ in short, nothing that is measured in actual deaths but everything that is measured in pounding, bruising and kicking a military force into being fit and trim.

Which brings me to the next point.  How much experience is out there?  If experience is awarded according as I've suggested it ought to be, there is no zero sum game.  The amount of experience in the world is a factorial of every person in existence and how much conflict they engender.

To put this into perspective, take the European War that finishes just before the time my world takes place: the 30 Years War.  From Wikipedia:

"The war ranks with the worst famines and plagues as the greatest medical catastrophe in modern European history.  Lacking good census information, historians have extrapolated the experience of well-studied regions.  John Theibault agrees with the conclusions in Günther Franz's Der Dreissigjährige Krieg und das Deutsche Volk (1940), that population losses were great but varied regionally (ranging as high as 50%) and says his estimates are the best available.  The war killed soldiers and civilians directly, caused famines, destroyed livelihoods, disrupted commerce, postponed marriages and childbirth, and forced large numbers of people to relocate.  The reduction of population in the German states was typically 25% to 40%. Some regions were affected much more than others.  For example, Württemberg lost three-quarters of its population during the war.  In the territory of Brandenburg, the losses had amounted to half, while in some areas, an estimated two-thirds of the population died.  The male population of the German states was reduced by almost half.  The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to war, disease, famine, and the expulsion of Protestant Czechs.  Much of the destruction of civilian lives and property was caused by the cruelty and greed of mercenary soldiers.  Villages were especially easy prey to the marauding armies.  Those that survived, like the small village of Drais near Mainz, would take almost a hundred years to recover.  The Swedish armies alone may have destroyed up to 2,000 castles, 18,000 villages, and 1,500 towns in Germany, one-third of all German towns."

Sobering stuff.  For our purposes, I'll try to hedge on the conservative side.  The beginning of the article quoted suggests eight million died.  We'll say that's 25% of the total population involved ~ German, French, Slavic, Polish, Swedish and so on.

My experience system awards 20 experience for every point of received damage; it also awards a 20 experience bonus that is divided among the witnesses of received damage, as well as the casualty or victim. Thus, you get experience just from watching another person die, or suffer a great injury, or otherwise come to harm.  Consider the ramifications.  You also get 10 experience from causing a hit point of damage to another person.

The next step would be to estimate the number of hit points involved in the conflict described above. Remember, we're not just talking about the total number of hit points of people actually killed, but also the number of hit points that were caused in damage, healed, then were damaged again.  Over and over.

We can deliberate upon such numbers all day, but I'm going to offer a conservative estimate.  Let's say that among the 32 million people involved, over the space of 30 years, from 1618 to 1648, each person took an average of 2 hit points of damage per year.  Some of that average is in the form of people who died from the damage and some from people who were only wounded . . . and leaves plenty of room for both high level types who have up to 100 hit points to lose and people who lost no hit points at all throughout the entire conflict.  And here we are only counting damage actually done to people deliberately.  We're not talking about people who fell off horses or who died in fires set by soldiers, or those who perished by disease (though arguably, witnessing someone dying from disease is experience, since most of us who have had something like that with close relatives come away from it being changed deeply)

This gives us a total of 64 million hit points times 30 years, or 1.92 billion hit points.  That is 1.92 billion hit points caused, 1.92 billion hit points received and potentially 1.92 billion hit points witnessed.

We will, however, have to remove a quarter of the hit points received ~ those people who received them are dead, so they are not part of the pool of living experience that we're calculating.  So we are speaking only of 1.44 billion hit points received by people who are still alive.

We could quibble about people who died of other causes over the years, age for instance ~ but this is why I am proposing the very conservative 2 hit points per year estimate.  That is pretty conservative.  The town of Manchester accumulates more hit points damage than that when United wins.

Adding it all together, this gives us a total of 72 billion experience . . . shared, of course, among the remaining 24 million population (not 32 ~ 8 million of those died.).  That is an average of 3,000 experience per person.  Per every person who was involved in that struggle.  Peasants too!

This makes 2nd to 3rd level the average level among people who participated.  That includes every mercenary soldier who came home to Sweden, Norway, Spain and Greece, every bartender in the Holy Roman Empire, every wench, every peddler, every child, every grandmother.

When you walk past a person on a road in Hannover, you have no idea what the person has been through!  What they've seen, what they've had to do, what kind of measures they've taken to keep their family alive, what skills they've accumulated and how dark might be the deepest corners of their soul.  When you walk past anyone on the road, worry.  You don't know them.

I wish I could make this clear to players.  They have a tendency to think they're the only people in the world who ever experienced violence.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pause Before Buying

Okay, I'm taking a breather.

I got all the new characters started, with backgrounds.  Some are selecting spells, some sage abilities, some weapons, some are waiting for a pricing table.

I worked about 10 continuous hours yesterday and almost 9 today.  Wednesday and Thursday are best for me.  I have half a day of the next five going forward, so I won't have all this time.  But the main thing is getting all the players busy.

Everyone, look for pricing lists tomorrow.  The Senex campaign will not be starting in the Donbass, but in the Greek Islands . . . but will probably be moving towards the Donbass at some point.  I'll be providing a price list for the market of Syros ~ everyone, including Kismet, Sophia and Enrico, should assume they have an opportunity to go shop there; we can assume these three will meet Yuliya and Ibrahim there.

The Juvenis campaign will be buying goods in Stavanger, of course.

Please, everyone provide the information for your characters that's needed so we can keep moving forward.  There will be time to hesitate and question your market purchases on the weekend.

Also, I know that most campaigns need some complicated reason why a bunch of strangers group together to become a party.  I don't think this odd at all.  People meet, they hit it off right away, they all have similar interests and they thrown in together.  Happens all the time.  We don't need a special reason.

I don't know if I will have a reason to talk to the players on this blog again.  I may write a post for general interest, talking about the process of making so many characters and such ~ but I have found in the past that readers don't actually have much to say about that.

One player asked if I could set up a place where the would-be players can begin to chat and get to know each other.  I suggest using this post.  I'll take down the moderation until tomorrow morning ~ which might be interesting.  All sorts of riff-raff and such could get in here!

Characters One-at-a-Time

In not very long, I'm going to be moving the campaign chatter right off this blog.  Here is the plan.

I'm going to create a second campaign blog.  The old campaign blog has been renamed "Campaign Senex."  This will include the following characters: Ahmet, Andrej, Ibrahim, Lukas, Nine-toes, Yuliya, plus henchmen Enrico, Kismet and Sophia.

The new campaign blog will be named "Campaign Juvenis."  I'm still setting this one up, waiting for details as to where it starts before finalizing the lay-out.  This will include Arduin/Rowan, Dani, Drain, Maxwell and Shelby/Lothar.

Everyone seems to have had their character's stats rolled now.  The next step is to deal with each of you individually, so that we're not tripping over each other comments.

Keep an eye on this post.  I'm going to update HERE, not in the comments, posting a link to your personal character as soon as I'm ready.  Please have a character name so that the post I create will be in your character name, and not yours.  Here are links towards dealing with various character creation issues:

Senex

Ahmet/Enrico
Andrej/Sophia
Lukas/Kismet
Nine-toes
Yuliya Romanyuk
Ibrahim bin Yusuf

Juvenis

Rowan
Aleksandra Ivanovna
Gudbrand Andersen Lillesund
Lothar Svenson
Engelhart Askjellson

That's everyone.

People can start addressing their questions to these posts as I create them.  Please be patient: I'll be running around to 11 different posts, so I may take time to get back to you if others are dealing with really difficult problems.  We'll just work out these things for as long as it takes until we're ready to go.

Elsewhere Party ~ 3rd Ballot

Whatever Drain's second choice might have been, it is clear that the party has chosen Northern Europe on the second ballot:


So, we have one more vote ~ where in Northern Europe.

Here are your choices:


  • Denmark (civilized, parkland & sea)
  • Human Norway (semi-civilized, forest & sea)
  • Human Sweden (civilized, parkland)
  • Human Finland (forested lakeland)
  • Human Estonia-Livonia (forest, rock & sea)
  • Gnomish Norway-Sweden (forest and rock, mineral)
  • Elvish Lands of Finland-Karelia (forested, contemplative)
  • Halfling Archangel (very far north)
  • Gnomish Russia (forested, desolate)


As before, please rate your first three choices in order of importance.  If there is a tie, we will have one last ballot to break the tie.

UPDATE

Okay, it is settled:


It is up to me, now, to pick a market city.  That I am going to do randomly.  There are 8 trade cities in human Norway: Kristiansand, Christiania, Fredrikstad, Halden, Bergen, Narvik, Stavanger and Trondheim.

I roll a . . . 7.  That's Stavanger.

I went looking for some images and found this:




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Elsewhere Party ~ 2nd Ballot

This post applies only to those who will not be running in the Donbass:  Arduin, Dani, Drain, Maxwell and Shelby.

In the previous post, I included a table that showed the most votes for ~ in order - Northern Europe, Western Europe and Northern Asia.  We don't have to wait for the deadline because all the votes are in for those involved.

Let's vote on those three again: but just give your 1st and 2nd picks:

1) Region; 2) Region.

We will deal with specifics inside the region once we've chosen it.

I presume we'll hear from everyone long before tomorrow is over.  Is anyone here in Europe?

Let's Start: Rolling Character Stats

Issues surrounding the location of the Elsewhere party will be dealt
with in another post.

Here are the two groups.  Have I missed anyone?  That's entirely possible!  Please point out your comment and I will update the above.

As far as I know, Oddbit will be running either Lukas or his hench Kismet, or both.  James C. will be running either Andrej or his hench Sophia, or both.  Nine-toes will be running his character Nine-toes from back in the day.

Butch I'm not sure of ~ will it be Enrico or someone completely new?

Apart from Nine-toes, who has been clear and only has Nine-toes to run, could Oddbit, James C and Butch be perfectly clear about which character will be run and in which capacity, of it a new character is to rolled from scratch.

The rest of you all need to roll new characters.  Here's what we will do.

I need you to roll 4d6 a total of six times, keeping the sum of the highest three dice in each roll.  I will then need you to assign these six rolls to strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity and charisma.  Then please post these rolls in a comment below.  With the assigned rolls, specify your race and your gender.  Races are limited to dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, halfling, half-orc and human.  Not all races can be all classes:

race-class limitations table


  • DO NOT give your character a name or any other details other than the stats, the character's race, gender or the character's class.
  • DO NOT argue about the race-class table above.  These are final and I don't want to debate about it, particularly at this time.
  • DO NOT forget about the ability stat limitations for the individual classes.  You will find a table for these listed below.
  • DO NOT ask questions about the campaign or beyond the specific rules regarding character creation, or what you will be able to do at some point in creating your character, except where it directly applies to your character's stats, your character's race and your character's gender.  We'll get to everything eventually.
  • DO NOT make any adjustments to your character's stats due to your race or your age.  Wait for me to tell you what adjustments to make.  I want to see the natural numbers you rolled, not adjusted numbers!

Character Class Minimums

Do remember that my character generator makes nothing a dump stat.

I would strongly suggest that players do not try to run a multi-classed character . . . but IF you have the minimums for all the classes you want to mix (and there are no limitations as to what classes can be mixed), then you may ask questions about it.

All classes have higher minimums for multi-classed characters for the primary stat.  The primary stat will be the one that requires the highest minimum for the class.  For the assassin it is strength, for the monk it is wisdom, for the ranger it is constitution.  For a multi-classed character, this stat must be 15 or better (the wiki under cleric and mage disagree with this ~ I need to fix the wiki on these points).  Where the minimum primary stat is already 15 or higher, there is no change.

All multi-classed characters get all the abilities of all the classes they happen to be, with one exception.  Whatever the mix, a multi-classed character gets the best possible selection of weapons and the worst possible selection of armor.

I think that's the lot.  Let's give it a try.

Bein' Picky

Listen, players.  I know it is in a player's nature to be cavalier where it comes to answers and giving information . . . we wouldn't be D&D players if we didn't have a strong sense of individuality and a need to express same in a variety of ways.  I'm knocking you square pegs into a round hole and you're bound to feel ill-used.  I get that.

But if I'm running this many players, getting you all started, getting this thing off the ground in the shortest possible time, then Short, Precise answers are practical.  The more lackadaisical you are, the greater the chance that I'll miss something or misunderstand something.  We're operating in print, right?  It takes time whenever I have to comment to clarify something and you need to then clarify it, time that we don't need to take if you'll just be Short and Precise the first time around.

At least in the beginning, just do it by the book.  It will be good practice for when we get into combat, which is a trial to manage in text and with pictures.  Don't feel ill-used; just accept that communication and clarity is more important than individuality right now.

UPDATE.

I mentioned Van Halen and M&M's in a comment a few minutes ago.

Players should read this link.


Elsewhere

While people decide which campaign they want to be in, we can take steps towards figuring out where the indeterminate campaign will be.

In future, when I want to give actual real life times, I will designate them as follows.  It is nearly 12 noon for me, but it is nearly 7 pm Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 2 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

As such, I will give this as a real life time as 7pm GMT/2pm EST.  I trust that the Pacific Time people, like me, can figure out what I mean compared to the American eastern seaboard.

To determine what "Elsewhere" is, we'll take a ballot.  This will take at least three ballots, I figure, so I ask that people be patient.  Here are the options:

Western Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain)

Northern Europe (Scandinavia, Denmark, Russia north of Moscovy and west of the Urals)

Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary, Kiev, Moscovy)

Africa (limited to what I've created; south Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, not including Egypt)

Ottoman Empire (Egypt, Middle East, Greece, Balkans, Mesopotamia)

Safavid Empire (Caucasus, Persia, west Afghanistan, west Pakistan)

Moghul Empire (India, Ceylon, east Afghanistan, including Burma and southern Indian states)

Northern Asia (Turkestan, Uzbek, Kirghizia, Kazakhstan, Jagatai Empire, Siberia east of the Urals)


---------

Sorry, I'm not going to run Paraguay at this time ~ it is not connected to the trade system.

When you vote, please designate your first, second and third choices.  Please do not abbreviate.  Abbreviating will suggest you're not really prepared to take the time to express yourself when the game starts.  Also, I like attention to detail [he said, looking at Maxwell who spelt Frederic's name with a 'k'].

Please give you choices in this format:

1)  Region; 2) Region; 3) Region.

Your first choice will be rated at 3 points; your second at 2 points and your 3rd at 1 point.  Points will be added and we will revote on the top three choices overall.

Best of luck.  Deadline 12 noon GMT/7am EST December 1st.  Votes by those in the Donbass campaign will not be counted.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Regarding Details in Getting a Game Started

I am glad that I haven't heard a lot of angst from among the would-be players.  Prospects should remember that I'm not big on players who wish to perpetrate a strong invented personality, which will then be used as a justification for disrupting or derailing group play.  D&D is, to my mind, a group activity, not one in which an a single individual attempts to achieve their personal goals independently of others.

This is never more true than online ~ the secret of a good online campaign, I have found in the past, is plenty of chat between the participants, where the chief slant of the dialogue is between the participants and not directed at me.  Think of D&D as a wheel; yes, every part of the wheel has its connection with the hub, that being the DM ~ but if any part of the outside rim is broken or left out of the spin, the wheel smashes on the pavement.  Players have to do more than play together ~ they have to reach out to other players, to ensure that everyone is on board and involved, whether they have been able to express themselves or not. These are the best games.

For those who have expressed interest but not the ability to be wholly committed: believe me, I understand.  I would like to have the resources to be "on" 24/7.  Looking at my week, I figure I have approximately 42 hours of time in which I will have the freedom to see a question, concoct an answer and post said answer.  I also feel that I will be able to jumpstart my book writing again by being forced to be clever, creative and intellectually active on a daily basis.  I find I am craving some kind of push; so I won't just be squeezing in a bit of play for four or five hours a week.

It takes about 10 hours of typing, responding, fixing maps, creating visual spaces and answering questions to equal about 90 minutes of ordinary face-to-face game play.  For players, it isn't practical to be able to give your full time on a given afternoon or two mornings per week.  You have to be prepared to find 3-5 minutes to quickly pump out a response, somewhere between 4 and 20 times per day, to keep the momentum of the game going forward.  I've seen what happens when people are only able to respond to what their characters are doing one time per day or not at all.  It is destructive to the cause.  What is needed is a practical obsession, one where ~ if you have 90 seconds free ~ you immediately rush towards the campaign to see if anything has changed.  It doesn't mean you have to speak every time you check, but it does mean knowing what others are saying and then jumping in before it's noticed that you're the part of the wheel not turning.

So be realistic.  I appreciate greatly your interest and your spoken desire, but don't put me in the place of giving you a spot at the table if you're uncertain.  You have to be certain.  Otherwise, please let me shake your hand, clap you on the shoulder and welcome you to watch with vigor.

Perhaps I might think of some way for others to rubberneck a bit on the campaign.  That might be educational, if somewhat annoying to the participants; if you're really interested in playing, but can't, perhaps we can make a space where the moves and choices of the players are freely discussed ~ with the deepest respect and cautious empathy expressed towards the players at all times!  I don't want to bitch session where people write in to talk about what a bunch of fuck-ups the players are ~ we don't need haters.  But an honest dialogue that expresses roads and options not taken, or expresses positive approval for choices by players could inspire better play in other campaigns.  Comments moderated, of course.

In such a case, a short comment would be better than something very long, unless a person felt absolutely sure that nothing in the comment could offend; I'd hate to dump someone's carefully thought-through 500-word comment because one sentence in the middle was 'iffy.'

Much of this hinges on whether or not Oddbit wants to go on playing Lukas; in that case, because I'm a purist, I'd have to argue that he is still at the top of the Black Sea on the coast of the Sea of Azov.  People should be questioning if they'd be willing to start there with Lukas, if he's still in this.

Otherwise, please consider where you'd like to start.  It is a big, big world.  Montague [as Frederic] mentioned Khwarezm [spelled about two thousand different ways; in my world it is divided into three states: Khiva, Kulpakstan and Tash-Ko].  But I'm prepared to run anywhere in my mapped world, from Senegal to Scandinavia to Burma.  If someone wanted to try the new map of Britain, I'm just a day or so out from completing it [being lazy; sorry].

Please let me know ~ and anyone who hasn't weighed in yet, please feel free to do so.

JB, if you're out there and wondering; I'm more than willing to give it another try.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Turn, Turn, Turn

No doubt, I am testing the patience of my gentle readers.  I am sorry about that, sincerely.  I'm just trying to get my shit together.  I am getting it together.  This just happens to be what that looks like.

I spent yesterday in thought and much of today as well.  While watching burgers sizzle and fries bubble, while watching calamari drain and ground duck meat thaw, there's not much else to do than think.  The subject has been, what do I do next?  Specifically, now that I'm admitting that my physical well-being demands rest on a Saturday; I'm working Friday night and Sunday is a complete loss as well.  My players can't run during the week so once again, I'm stuck without a game.

But am I?

It's crazy and some readers will roll their eyes, but I'm willing to give online a try again.  The campaign, that is.  D&D.  If anyone is interested.

No, it isn't going to cost anything.  I know I talked about that months ago but I'm not going there.

And I am duty bound to give respect to those players who were in the online campaign when I drew it to a halt back in April, 2014.  James who played Andrej still reads the blog now and then; Oddbit who played Lukas commented on my post yesterday, so I know he's still around.  I'm not sure about the fellow behind Maximillien; we seemed to part ways on philosophy some time back, I haven't heard from him in ages.  It's also been a long time since I heard from Butch, who played Ahmet.

I can make time to play.  I feel that perhaps this is what's needed to give me a shakabuku; I could use one of those.  I know that the moment I settled on this plan ~ about 140 minutes ago, while finishing this morning's shift ~ I felt a moment of legitimate happiness.

That proves this is a good idea.

Last time I asked for new players, I asked for a short statement expressing reasons for wanting to run.  I strongly suggest that would-be participants be the sort that need to constantly check their phones/puters for updates.

My best times will be Wednesday through Fridays, most of the day; Friday after four I'm out, pretty much until Sunday evening.  Then Monday and Tuesday evenings are fair.  Still, if it goes like it has in the past, the game will run pretty much 24/7, as regards asking questions or making plans, particularly if the players are willing to talk to each other and act as a party rather than as individuals.

I may be open to running two campaigns, four persons per campaign.  It really will depend on how willing players are to commit and give plenty of time.  Willingness to write a lot is more than a plus, it is critical to making an online campaign work.  This much I've learned from past experience.

So, anyone in?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Burnt

I should be running D&D right now; instead, I'm resting and writing this post.  I'm just too tired, too sore, too unable to think properly enough to run a game.  Reality.  At least I can say I'm employed, for three months now . . . I've been working as a prep cook in a gluten-free rib house of some quality.  I can say the work is hard or I can say simply that I've lost three inches around my waist and about 25 pounds in less than 90 days.

I had hoped that the last post where I proposed underwater rules might inspire a bit more conversation than it did, but I know it is Thanksgiving and that my American readers are wrapped up with black sales, football and food.  Perhaps I will hear more from people tomorrow.

I was looking forward to trying the underwater rules.  I don't know when I may be able to, now, as things are actually getting harder on Saturdays, as the owner has set up a series of Saturday parties, where we manage from sixty to as many as two hundred people at a go.  By the time I reach 5 p.m. on a Saturday, I'm wrecked ~ and not much able to play.  Damn, but it's a frustration.

Having been down this kind of road before, though not for about a decade, I know the thing to do is to keep working and designing.  That much I can do and in the long run, it all pays off.

A part of me says that I should suspend everything ~ the wiki, the game, the blog, everything, and just work on the book.  The book is a thorn in my side just now.  I'm stuck.  I shouldn't be stuck, I know everything that is meant to happen and I should be able to just finish it up now, but I'm not doing that.  It's hard to explain . . . it is a sort of, well, shame.  That makes no sense, I suppose, but that's the truth.  Another writer, another artist, might come closer to understanding.  Some of my DMing readers might get that as well.  I'm not kidding when I say that writing, art, is an act of courage.  It is like kneeling down in front of block, resting one's forehead on the wooden surface and doing so while a person stands right there with an axe in their hand ~ metaphorically.  That's the sort of stress it creates.  However one might feel that the work needs to be done, to be finished, there's that hesitation.  It doesn't go away.

Going into seclusion is a way of dealing with it.  Seclusion is an embattled defense against shame.  Only . . . sometimes it doesn't work.  Then one is put in the situation of remaining secluded and still getting nothing done, with the shame still there.

A blog is probably not the place to talk about this.  I'm so used to wearing my situation on my sleeve, however, I might just as well go on doing that.

I wish the best to all of you as we begin this Christmas season.