Friday, June 24, 2011

The Drysdale Test

In particular, I thought that since one has to argue, in my opinion, that Drysdale had a strong positive influence on pennant races, we should look carefully at Drysdale's performance in two categories:

1. Down the stretch (August 10 to the end of the season) in those years when the Dodgers had a chance to win, and

2. Against the one team the Dodgers most needed to beat in those same seasons.

That sound reasonable?

- Bill James, "Whatever Happened To the Hall of Fame?"

First off, fair warning to any of you who come here and don't care for baseball stuff. I'm about to write some baseball stuff.

The penultimate chapter of Bill James's book, "Whatever Happened To the Hall of Fame?" is entitled, simply, "Don Drysdale". The chapter opens with a section called The Case For Don Drysdale, and after reading it, if you have any interest in baseball at all, you're convinced that Don Drysdale belongs in the Hall of Fame. The next section is called The Case Against Don Drysdale, and after reading it, even if you've already read the first section, you are convinced that Don Drysdale doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. James then breaks down the factual arguments of both sides, identifying which points have merit and which are just talking points, and still doesn't come to a conclusion.

He finally comes to a conclusion after going through the study noted in the quote at the top of this essay -- the idea being that, if Drysdale truly was a 'big game' pitcher who helped his team win pennants, then that would push the weight of the argument over to the side where Drysdale belongs in the Hall.

The closest comparison to Don Drysdale in today's Hall of Fame debates is starting pitcher Jack Morris. Morris has many advocates for the Hall who note that he was a famous, ace pitcher, known for his endurance and his performance in big games, specifically Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Morris also has detractors who point out that the overall weight of Morris's career statistics, his ERA, his won-loss record, etcetera, simply don't carry the weight of a Hall of Fame career. Hall of Very Good? Absolutely. Just not one of the all-time greats.

It finally struck me that, since one of the arguments used by Morris's supporters was that he was a big-game pitcher who helped his teams to championships, that we could give Morris the Drysdale Test and see just how much of an impact he had on pennant races in his career.

For starters, it might surprise you to learn that in only eight of Morris's 18 seasons as a big-league pitcher did he pitch for a team that needed his help in making the post-season -- the 1984 Tigers won going away, and the other half of his career was spent pitching for clubs (mostly Tiger clubs) that didn't even make the playoffs. However, in the eight seasons where Morris's performance might have had an impact on the pennant chances of his club, here's how he did 'down the stretch' (from August 10 until the end of the season):

63 starts, 23 CG, 37-26, 2.95 ERA

That's pretty good, actually significantly better than his overall career rates. So you could argue that Morris did 'turn it up' down the stretch of a pennant race.

In games he pitched against the key opponent of his team's chase:

18 starts, 7 CG, 5-7, 3.48 ERA

The won-loss record isn't quite so good, but the ERA is still better than his career total. Note that I'm leaving out Morris's abysmal numbers in 1994 against the Chicago White Sox when it was pretty clear that he was done as a pitcher (Morris was 1-2 in 4 starts against Chicago with an ERA of exactly 9.00, giving up 23 ER in 23 innings) and didn't pitch after August 10 anyway.

Combining these two factors gives us what James calls the "purest of the pure"; the biggest games Jack Morris ever pitched, not counting the World Series. Because there were few of these games, I've expanded James's definition of 'key opponent' to any opponent with a chance to win the race. How did he do?

Sept 21, 1983 -

Morris started the first game of a doubleheader at home versus the Orioles with the Tigers trailing by 6.5 games. Though the pennant race odds weren't great, the Tigers and Orioles would face each other six times before the end of the season, including the doubleheader, so if the Tigers could sweep the table or at least win 5 of 6, they'd give Joe Altobelli's Orioles a run.

Morris gave up three in the top of the second in classic Earl Weaver style -- a leadoff homer by Eddie Murray, then a single sandwiched between three walks, the last forcing in a run. The Tiger offense wouldn't help out any against Mike Boddicker as Detroit would be shut out 6-0 en route to an Oriole sweep of the doubleheader.

Morris would get his 20th win of the season a week later in Baltimore, beating Scott McGregor 9-2, but by then the Orioles had already clinched at least a one-game playoff over both the Tigers and Yankees.

Morris 0-1, team 0-1

Oct 3, 1987 -

Morris took the mound on the second-to-last day of the season with the Tigers and Blue Jays tied in the divisional race. Morris pitched well, allowing just two runs in nine innings, but Mike Flanagan also pitched well for the Jays, matching Morris's mark through nine and even continuing through the eleventh inning. Sparky Anderson went with his closer, Mike Henneman, in the tenth and watched him pitch a no-hit three innings. Jimy Williams, however, went with Jeff Musselman in the twelfth rather than closer Tom Henke, and Musselman allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Williams still didn’t turn to his closer, choosing to go with Mark Eichhorn, who gave up the game-winning hit.

Morris certainly didn’t lose the game for Detroit, though his was one of a number of factors leading to the 12th inning Detroit win.

Morris 0-1, team 1-1

August 27, 1988

Morris entered the game and pitched an excellent 7 innings as his Tigers built up a 5-1 lead. Then in the eighth, Morris seemed to lose it – two walks, two wild pitches, and two singles led to two Brewer runs and Morris was pulled in favor of Willie Hernandez with two out to end the inning. Morris wouldn’t get the win, though, as Mike Henneman would blow the save in the 9th by allowing the Brewers to tie the score. The Brew Crew would eventually win in the bottom of the 12th on a Rob Deer home run.

The Tiger bullpen pitched very poorly in support of Morris, but even so, had Hernandez come in at the top of the 8th rather than after Morris had already allowed two runs, it’s possible the Tigers could still have won the game.

Morris 0-1, team 1-2

September 5, 1988

Toronto was surging, having won four straight coming in, and Detroit was staggering, having lost four straight. If a ‘stopper’ was ever needed to save the pennant race, it was here.

Morris, however was flat, giving up three in the second en route to an 8-inning, 11-hit, 5-walk performance that his offense bailed him out of by tying the score in the bottom of the 6th. Willie Hernandez would pitch the 9th and 10th, and give up the game-winner on an Ernie Whitt solo homer.

Morris 0-1, team 1-3

Morris would not face Boston, Detroit’s key opponent, during the 1988 stretch run.

By 1991, Morris had gone to the Twins as a free agent. In 1991, the only game Morris pitched against the White Sox was the first game of a doubleheader on October 3, after the Twins had already clinched the division. Morris was pulled by manager Tom Kelly after 5 innings, probably to protect his availability for the playoffs. The Twins lost the game when closer Rick Aguilera blew the save opportunity in the 10th inning, yet another extra-inning loss in a Morris start.

This one doesn't really count.

August 27, 1992

Signed by the Blue Jays in the off-season, Morris’s Toronto club was just four games ahead of the Brewers when Morris faced off against Jamie Navarro. Morris pitched an outstanding 7 innings, while Navarro made a mistake to Toronto DH Dave Winfield resulting in a 3-run shot that proved to be more than the margin of victory.

This would be the first and only game Morris would win in this situation in his career, and just the second that his team would win.

Morris 1-1, team 2-3.

Morris did not face the Yankees down the stretch run in 1993, and did not pitch at all during the stretch run in 1994, so this sum indicates Morris’s pennant ‘clutchiness’. While Morris himself had some good outings and some bad outings, Morris’s teams went 2-3 in these five starts, and Morris himself was 1-1 with three no-decisions.

Hardly the kind of performance I'd expect from someone supposedly worthy of the Hall of Fame based on his performance in big games.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Fortified Garden

It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls.
- Aristophanes (from the "Masonry" entry in Civilization IV)

Back around the time when Apple began forcibly establishing control over its iPhone ecosystem (it wasn't yet called iOS at that point), critics of the move referred to the resulting environment as a 'walled garden', one where users were 'trapped' to only use Apple's technology in ways approved by Apple. Apple then extended their control to monitoring what tools developers were using to provide apps to that ecosystem -- only Apple-provided application programming interfaces and libraries could be used, or the app couldn't be carried in Apple's App Store.

Critics of Apple's position liked to argue that Apple's walled garden wasn't sustainable -- that developers would chafe under the restrictions and bolt for the greener, more open pastures of Android, and that users, following the developers, would do likewise. Frequently, the rhetoric of 'freedom' is used, as if those criticizing Apple are all in favor of openness and transparency.

There have been a few folks who've defended the walled garden, mainly from a user perspective and mainly because of security. Hardly anyone, though, had bothered to point out to developers why a walled garden might be superior for them.

Turns out the right analogy isn't a walled garden, but a fortified one. That's what Apple has built, and it's exactly what small, independent developers need.

Just over a month ago, a company called Lodsys LLC filed a lawsuit in an East Texas court against seven small-to-tiny iOS developers over a patent it holds regarding a method of processing purchase transactions within an application. Lodsys didn't invent the patent -- it purchased it from its inventor as part of a 'portfolio' of intellectual property, and is now trying to make that investment pay by pursuing what it believes are infringements of those patents. At the time, the expectation was that Lodsys might use those developers' communications with Apple as a way of incorporating Apple into the lawsuit, adding the bigger company's deep pockets to their potential payout. Some expected that Apple would help with the developers' legal battle or even pursue other actions sympathetic to the developers' position, but would likely stay out of the suit itself.

That's...not quite what happened. (Note: most of the links in the next few paragraphs regarding the legal situation come from the excellent Free and Open Source Software Patents blog.)

First off, Lodsys, as if trying to ward off any Apple involvement in the suit, affirmed that Apple had purchased a valid license covering the patent in question and that as such Apple was not a target of the suit.

Apple then responded with a strong cease-and-desist letter directing Lodsys to withdraw its complaints against its app developers, asserting that the rights it has as a license holder allow it to provide the licensed technology to its developers.

Lodsys published a letter disagreeing with Apple's position and carried on with their lawsuit, which was unsurprising.

Then, Apple did something that pretty much nobody expected -- they filed a claim in the same East Texas court asking to intervene and be added to the lawsuit as a defendant. They're not just sending 'assistance' -- Apple will actually have a legal team in the courtroom assisting with the defense of their app developers.

Apple's defense against Lodsys's claims is that, since Apple has a license to Lodsys's technology (which Lodsys has already asserted to be true on their own website), and since the developers aren't creating their own code for transactions, but using Apple's provided APIs that contain that technology, and since the transactions all occur on Apple's own App Store, and since they're used to send apps to devices that Apple has manufactured and sold expressly for the purpose, that Lodsys has already been paid -- by Apple -- for the use of their patents, and that Lodsys can no more go to the developers and ask for more money than a farmer can come to your house and demand 50 cents an ear for the sweet corn you bought at the grocery store.

That defense brings up two very interesting points:

1. Is this the real reason Apple was so adamant about not allowing third-party APIs in iOS?

The timing of Apple's announcement about changes to their developer agreement prohibiting 'third-party APIs' for iOS development made many believe their motivation for doing so was to screw Adobe, who was just about to come out with a set of third-party APIs to do just that. But what if Adobe's announcement simply reminded Apple Legal that allowing third-party APIs (which might or might not have purchased valid licenses for the Lodsys transaction patent) would weaken Apple's legal defense against attacks against their developers?

2. Do Google's Android developers have the same kind of protection?

This isn't just an academic question -- Lodsys is also filing lawsuits against Android developers for violating the same patents Apple is defending their devs against. Given that Google rejected an offer from Sun to license Java for use in their Android OS (scroll down to "Google's Rejection of Sun's Licensing Offer"), how likely do you think it is that Google decided to send cash to a small IP holding company, just in case that company tried suing their developers?

Google's independent Android app developers might feel a bit safer if they had walls to protect them like Apple's developers do.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Blast from the Past: Game WISH Necromancy

With the return of the 20x20 Room, I thought it would be a good thing to revisit another post from the old Simulation16 gaming blog:

* * *

I wasn't around when the Game WISHes were first going up. Their spirit lives on in the Lunchtime Poll and other game memes, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with casting a little animate dead on some of those old WISHes from time to time. Today I'll be focusing on WISHes #7 and #8:

List three or more maxims/proverbs/bits of conventional wisdom/etc. that you’ve learned in your gaming career, and explain what they mean and how you’ve seen them apply in your gaming experience.


Pick three gaming maxims that other people wrote about and discuss how you think they have applied, or not, in your experience as a gamer. Do they make sense? Are they true or false? Maxims that simply never occurred to you are also eligible for discussion.

I'll just use three maxims, two of which are my own (as far as I can tell), and one of which I cribbed from another respondant.

1. The coolest track on the album never gets played on the radio.

Given the number of gamers who also seem to be musicophiles, this experience can't be all that uncommon. Just among the CDs I have with me right now I can point to a handful of examples:

Album: "Jagged Little Pill", Alanis Morissette
Radio tracks: "You Oughta Know", "Hand In My Pocket", "Forgiven", "You Learn", "Head Over Feet", "Ironic"
Coolest track: "Not the Doctor"

Album: "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life", Nina Gordon
Radio tracks: "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life"
Coolest track: "Now I Can Die"

Album: "Everything You Want", Vertical Horizon
Radio tracks: "Everything You Want", "You're A God"
Coolest track: "Shackled"

I could go on, but you get the idea. (Not that you necessarily agree with my particular picks, but you still get the idea, I'm sure.)

Favorite characters are similar, in my view. Unless your character is merely a list of attributes and items that sits in a folder until you're ready to play him in the next game session, you probably end up thinking about the character, his motivations, your goals for him as a character and such between sessions. As such, you almost certainly come up with 'scenes' or 'bits' or something you think of as incredibly cool. And, nine times out of ten, that incredibly cool thing you thought of will never actually come up in the game. Maybe the circumstances simply never come up, or maybe you get to just the right moment and you suddenly realize that there are other players at the table who want their share of the action rather than sitting back and watching your solo adventure. However it happens, and it doesn't have to be anybody's fault, there are going to be things about your character you never get to express in-game.

Personal example: (Long-winded character story alert!) One of my favorite characters was an AD&D thief named Pseudolus. He had a Dex of 11 and an Int of 15 (back when having those stats made no sense for a rogue-type character) and his name was inspired by the Zero Mostel character in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum". He was a con-man who made his living as a 'soothsayer', and he attached himself to the party by doing a 'reading' for another character (the Grandmaster's character, actually), then refusing to leave the group until he was paid. He had a secret agenda - he was one of a number of throwaway minions of a minor evil in the campaign, and the character Pseudolus had done the 'reading' for had secretly been paid to assassinate another party member for the minor evil, then decided to renege on the deal and keep the money he'd been paid. Pseudolus was ordered to 'keep an eye' on this character in preparation for an appropriate moment's revenge. When the party managed to defeat a beholder, then left it in the wild while returning to town to find a way to cart the carcass somewhere where it could be sold for magical components, Pseudolus slipped away from the party and managed to get the thing back to his 'master'. The disappearance of both Pseudolus and the beholder corpse was simply too convenient, so I took up a new character.

Later, when the minor evil had succeeded in preparing for the final part of his Grand Plan, Heatmiser let me bring Pseudolus back - but rather than an ineffectual wanna-be soothsayer, he'd tricked the boy out in full Bad-Ass Lieutenant mode. The kicker was that Pseudolus wasn't really evil - even though the entire party was convinced that he was; he'd simply been an example of neutral-lazy, bordering on evil but never being really committed enough to go all the way. With Pseudolus's return coinciding with the disappearance of an NPC that the Grandmaster's character had married, the party immediately split into two camps - one, led by the Grandmaster's character, who wanted to simply destroy Pseudolus outright and sift the solution to the evil plot from his scattered remains; the other, led by the Self-Focusing Spotlight's character, who wanted to redeem him.

After the session in which we spend our last night in civilization before setting off on the last leg of the quest to rescue the Grandmaster's character's wife, I wrote up a scene for Heatmiser in which Pseudolus decides to indulge his long-standing infatuation with the SFS's character by ditching the party, bar-hopping through the seedy part of town until he found a barmaid with a sufficient resemblance to the SFS's character, getting her alone, then forcing her to do the things he'd long hoped to do consensually with the SFS's character. But when the moment arrived and Pseudolus was about to release all his frustrations in an (ahem) orgy of self-indulgence, he found he couldn't go through with it - the SFS's character had actually touched a core of decency that even Pseudolus hadn't realized he had. Pseudolus let the barmaid go, suddenly aware that this was merely the first act in an unavoidable train of events that would end with him betraying his master and dying horribly, and possibly pointlessly, as a result.

Heatmiser was good enough to let that story become part of the album, part of the campaign history, but it never got any airtime. We never played it out or even acknowledged the scene at the table.

2. Never joke about goodbye unless you mean it.

Like many gamers, I am a huge fan of Knights of the Dinner Table. For quite a while, I collected both KoDT and KoDT Illustrated. Then, in a recent issue of K:Ill, the Brothers Fraim used what I imagine is an infrequent but not unknown gimmick in comicdom - the 'oh, look, I guess we killed off all the characters and the story is over, bye!' joke, where you turn the page and realize that the story isn't over. The expected reaction, I suspect, is a heart-into-your-throat 'oh no, say it ain't so!', then a 'thank God' when you turn the page and find out the story isn't over after all.

My gut reaction was "Thank God." And that was before I turned the page.

Turns out I'd been buying and reading K:Ill more out of loyalty and inertia than out of any real enjoyment I was getting out of the thing. Once I realized that, and that the world wasn't going to come to an end if I stopped buying K:Ill, I stopped buying K:Ill. The Brothers Fraim gave me a perfect 'out', and I took it.

I've played in and run games that have used similar 'tricks' - ending a session with the defeat of the party and suggesting that the campaign is therefore over. The next session invariably ends up only attracting half of the regular players - the rest, having been given the 'out' by the DM, realized that they weren't really enjoying themselves and were only attending out of habit and decided to take the 'out'. Almost invariably, those campaigns die out shortly after this happens.

For the record, I'm not predicting the end of K:Ill. I would be curious, though, to find out if the comic ends up suffering a drop in subscription renewals and over-the-counter sales as a result of that simple joke.

(Follow-up: K:Ill actually ended its run within a number of issues of pulling that joke.)

3. When you stop trusting the GM, stop playing.

This was one of the original maxims in Game WISH #7, and I only wish I could keep it in mind more often than I do. When I see this maxim, the Duke of Dorkness always comes immediately to mind.

I complimented the Duke of Dorkness in an earlier post regarding the handling of absent players. What I didn't say then is that these side-adventures are often more enjoyable than his main plots. Nearly every one of the Duke's main plots can be boiled down to the following formula:

  1. Alert the PCs, usually through a warning from an NPC, that 'something big' is about to go down.
  2. Let the PCs spin their wheels in investigative or preparatory actions for as long as they wish until the appropriate amount of time has passed for the plot to begin. Make any conflict that happens during this time inconclusive, unless it can be used to hinder the PCs.
  3. Begin the plot, ignoring anything the PCs have done in advance, finding rationalizations where necessary to explain why preparations were ineffectual. Allow the PCs to arrive too late to actually prevent the plot from coming to fruition.
  4. Conclude the plot, usually by bringing in an NPC to 'fix' the problem.

An example seems called for here.

The Duke had been running a slightly modified version of a published Champions adventure, where Black Harlequin decides to turn an amusement park into a series of deathtraps. The North Force: River City Division (NF:RCD) had received word that someone (not specifically Black Harlequin) was planning to disrupt the opening of Omega-World, a super-heroic theme park based on a prime-time-soap-like TV series surrounding the adventures of a group of heroes. NF:RCD reacts by incorporating Omega-World into the patrol routes of all active heroes, ensuring that regular overhead surveillance is made. In addition, the local super-investigator begins looking into the situation, trying to identify any threats to the cast of the TV show, as well as looking to see if any villains had tried this sort of trick in the past. Finally, NF:RCD asks for and receives permission to accompany safety inspectors on their final tour of the park before it opens; no problems are identified.

Opening day arrives. Within a couple of hours it becomes obvious that every significant ride has been extensively modified to turn it into a deathtrap, despite none of these modifications being visible on the previous day's safety inspection and some (particularly the roller-coaster mods) being so extensive that it becomes difficult to imagine how the changes could have been accomplished without being noticed by our overhead patrols. My own character is allowed to 'push' his teleportation abilities to save a group of normals on a 'gravity drop' ride from being turned into human paste, at the cost of suffering BODY damage that cannot be healed by a teammate's Aid power, and with the result that everyone on the ride still ends up in the hospital, most of them in the ICU from their injuries. NF:RCD finally tracks Black Harlequin to his makeshift HQ on the Omega-World site, only to discover that five members of the writing and production crew are being held hostage, despite no one mentioning they were missing when the park opened. After defeating him, NF:RCD learns that Black Harlequin had a long-standing fixation on one of the recurring villains on the show, though again none of this information was available prior to the beginning of the adventure proper.

Another, easier to describe example: North Force (this is prior to the RCD period) learns from a mystical heroine, Aura, that a particular villain is seeking a number of artifacts from museums around the world to complete a summoning ritual intended to bring an immensely powerful spirit into the world. NF travels to each location as directed by Aura, arriving just in time to see one villain take the artifact in question and teleport away while the rest of the villains battle with us, are defeated, and are then teleported away themselves by an unseen and unstoppable force. Once all the artifacts are in the villain's hands, Aura directs us to the ritual site, where we are prevented from interfering in the ritual itself thanks to the presence of an unbreakable Force Wall, and where the summoning itself is successful, except that one of our teammates, previously captured and intended to be the 'sacrifice' to the spirit, manages to live long enough through Aura's intervention to allow her to Mind Control him into speaking the lines the spirit needs to hear to realize that he's being manipulated and to head off on his own to ponder the nature and purpose of his existence (how she does all this through the still-present Force Wall remains a mystery).

In addition, the Duke tends toward unilateral character re-writes whenever he feels that a particular build is becoming 'abusive'. He tends to over-build his villains to the point where the entire group prefers to fight the agents in an agent-villain combo group because the agents can actually be taken one-on-one. Nevertheless, as much of a liability as he is to enjoying his own game, the camaraderie among the players is enough to keep me coming back most of the time, despite knowing that most of the players in the game would happily play in a different game if run by a more trustworthy GM.

Knowing what to do isn't the same thing as doing it - not by a longshot.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Blinded By Cruelty

There's a thing I've noticed where sometimes people are more interested in "displaying" their character than they are in "experiencing" their character.
- Simon C, from this thread on

There's an argument that says when one is surrounded by cruelty, one becomes inured to it, and it ceases to have any cathartic or empathic effect. I believe this argument, at least with respect to role-playing games, especially when it comes to introducing new characters to an existing party.

The group I've gamed with for over 20 years even has a trope name for the process: bear grease. The name comes from the natural escalation of the 'you rescue this new party member from the clutches of the bad guys' from locked-in-a-cell, to locked-in-a-cell-tied-up, to locked-in-a-cell-naked-and-tied-up, to locked-in-a-call-naked-and-tied-up-with-an-open-jar-of-bear-grease-nearby. Cruel, right?

The crazy thing is, that despite these horrific introductions, the experience never seems to have much impact on the player's portrayal of the character -- thus the quote that leads this essay.

I decided to turn this trope on its head with a newer group that pulled a similar trick.

I was joining an established group playing the AD&D 4th Edition adventure patch 'Scales of War', with a slight twist by the DM; instead of simply being an adventure featuring the War of Dragons between Bahamut and Tiamat, our DM introduced a concept called 'the All', the physical and psychological manifestation of reality itself, and posited that the ultimate threat of the adventure path is nothing less than nihilism -- the annihilation of all that is.

However, to introduce my character, the DM had the All effectively kidnap the character from his home dimension, deposit him in the hands of monstrous humanoids that then imprisoned him for an indeterminate time (best guess = months) in a dungeon. The state of my character when the party finally found him suggested that the time spent was no picnic: he was chained to the wall in such a way that he couldn't even move his fingers much less his limbs, and a metal helmet over his head contained a long depressor that went into the character's mouth, preventing him from speaking. (He's a wizard, so the precautions seemed needed to prevent magical escape.)

I think I can honestly say that if anyone you knew were subjected to such horrifying treatment, it would scar them for life. I didn't even go quite that far -- I simply made the obvious leap of logic on behalf of my character (who, again, as a wizard is far smarter than me): if the All is capable of delivering people into prolonged torture to satisfy its own ends, then it is not to be trusted.

Oddly, the rest of the party and even the DM at times seem mystified as to why my character seems so untrusting of the 'obvious' goodness of the All and need to defend/protect it from destruction. They seem to presume that I already had an idea of the character I wanted to play, and that the intro trope would be treated, as it usually is, as just a way of justifying the introduction of the new character without forcing me to wait for a break in the adventure or warping the narrative too much. (For an example of the latter, see "The Gamers", where the party is re-introduced to their new wizard.)

They seem unprepared for the idea that I'd take what is basically a long-standing character introduction trope and use it as my character's fundamental motivation, though if I myself went through a similar experience, not a one of them would be shocked if it changed me.

It's weird, and a bit distressing, to consider the implications of this.