My 1000th Post: Today is the Day Tears of the Kingdom is Released

As this goes up, I am sitting in the parking lot of my local Best Buy. Either in my car or in the folding chair I keep in my trunk near the door. I think my Pro Controller for my switch is dying, since I’m getting a lot of weird input lag and short bursts of unresponsiveness that seems to be getting worse rather than staying the same or getting better, so I’m going to try to get one of the Tears of the Kingdom themed Pro Controllers if this store has any [they did not, but I managed to order one online that will arrive while I’m in New Jersey]. I’m not sure they will, since there is no guarantee that they’ll actually have in-store units of any hardware these days, now that scalpers buy up everything instantly. If I can’t get it today, I will probably wait to see if they ever restock rather than picking up a normal one. After all, I regretted just buying an OLED switch when I wanted one rather than waiting for what I figured was the inevitable upgrade or special edition unit that I just had to buy.

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Post Vacation Check-In

Well, I had a great time. There’ll be more coming about all that (especially once I’ve had time to sort through pictures and decide what is going where when it comes to social media and my blog here), but I wanted to interrupted my previously planned posting order to do a few updates about my schedule. I’ll get those out of the way quick so I can talk about something more fun/contemplative for the rest of the post.

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Sense Memories, Grief, and Growth

The last time I was updating my blog as rigorously as I am updating it now, I wound up stopping because I had too much stuff going on. Between work, my grandfather’s final months, trying to support my family during that time, sorting through my feelings about my family, and being forced to confront the loss of the one person who seemed to just be happy to see me any time my family gathered, I just didn’t have the time or energy to keep up posting. Plus, a lot of the time I spent on things like consuming media or resting vanished as I wound up driving back and forth from my home to my parents’ home. It was a trip that took about three to four hours to travel just one way, depending on the time of day and traffic, and I was doing that at least once a week, sometimes twice as I haphazardly worked from my parents’ guest bedroom when I could and had to return home when work demanded my physical presence. The only thing that made this segment of late 2018 (from November onward) and early 2019 possible was that I’d just gotten into podcasts.

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I Overstimulated AND Overwhelmed Myself at the Same Time Today

I spent a great deal of today staving off an anxiety attack. A lot has been going on lately, you know? I’ve also got a lot of stuff coming up on the horizon like an international trip, a wedding I’m a part of, job applications, needing to move this summer, and way too much more (mostly work stuff I’m not putting here because that’s transient stress/venting and I want to avoid venting about my job on the internet). Plus, I’ve have had a few long-running relationships begin to crumble over the last couple days thanks to people choosing the dumb wizard game over doing the right thing in support of someone they cared about (me, a non-binary person). It’s been wearing on me, to the point that I am a confused mass of emotions and exhaustion that vascillates between wanting to collapse and feeling mostly fine (which is mostly me coping for work since I need to be at least a little present and presentable while I’m on the clock). I need rest, I need some quiet, I need some love and support from my friends, and I need to not hyperfixate on the latest Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer.

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A Rainy Grey Day in January

It rained today. It is the middle of January and, instead of the freezing cold, snow, sleet, and “wintery mix” I’ve grown accustomed to in the Midwest, it merely rained. It was a cold rain, to be sure, as the temperature is hovering right above freezing and driven below it by every gust of wind, but it was not a freezing rain. It plinked off my umbrella with a liquidity I don’t typically expect a month into winter. Usually it bounces off my umbrella with a plonk and snap, as the fabric repels the solid crystals or sludgy drops, but today it plinked and then slowly rolled away. I know the cold and bitter winter I expect is still hovering on the horizon, waiting for its chance to invade once these warm southern winds finally leave it be, but it feels like it lost any real chance it had to take hold this year, despite the havoc it wreaked around the holidays.

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The Weather Feels Like March in the Middle of January

The weather has been unseasonably warm recently. Usually, at this time in January, the local temperature is bouncing around zero degrees Fahrenheit and the heavy cloudcover means I don’t see the sun for weeks at a time. This year, the only zero the temperature is jumping around is zero degrees Celcius. We’ve had multiple days with almost no wind, a decent amount of sun, and tons of humidity (enough that work is staying at a damp 20% humidity or higher instead of it’s usual mid-winter single-digit levels). All of which followed a week of blistering cold that finished off all the plants still clinging to life thanks to the unusually warm fall we had. Now, as I go for my walks amongst the browns and yellows of dead plant matter, it feels like I missed two months somehow and wound up skipping ahead to late March.

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The First Taste of Wisconsin Winter

[Another casual reminder that I write these a week before they go up, since it’s currently summer in Wisconsin again]

It is snowing again today. Over night, the temperatures bottomed out in the high twenties and even hours after dawn, with temerpatures flirting with freezing for hours already, there was still the pale remnants of the morning’s frost on the deep green grass outside my apartment. Flurries of small, damp snowflakes fill the air like mist and dampen the world as the trees drip what remains of the snow that landed on them from their brightly colored leaves. I am bundled up against the wind and chill, my layers quickly dug out of the closet when it became clear that my usual fall garb would be insufficient for the day, and still I briefly consider turning around for a heavier coat. I walk along the sidewalk, tracing the same old path from my front door to my car, but far more attentively than in past months for fear of slipping on the ice that stretches across the sidewalk. Today, I miss the comfort of holding a warm mug in my hand as my new coffee cup prevents any heat from escaping it but I am grateful that my coffee will still be warm throughout my entire drive to work on this blustery, snowy morning.

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The Changing Season Through My Window

After what felt like a lifetime, summer has ended. Fall is here in all its bright, colorful glory. The trees have begun to change from the pale, warm, or emerald greens of summer to the various browns, scarlet reds, muted yellows, and eye-catching oranges of Fall. It is a slow process, where I live, striking seemingly at random rather than in the calm orderly manner the trees displayed when coming to life in the spring. Different trees of the same type begin to change in their own time, content to merely overlap instead of coordinate. Spots of red appear at random and the giant green tree outside my window has four parallel streaks of orange in it, like Fall somehow passed by and rent the summer from its boughs with massive claws. Already the parking lot fills with fallen leaves and the summer heat fades into the haphazard warmth and chill of the changing season. It has been barely four months since the trees finally tore free from winter’s grasp and I find myself wondering if that is part of the reason so many branches stayed bare this year.

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Rewriting History Is More Difficult Than It Seems

One of the choatic elements to come out of a recent D&D session was one of the players gaining the ability to get the answer to a question his character focused on, along with the knowledge required to use it in a way to solve the problem the question related to (essentially knowledge and the wisdom to use it as intended) along with the ability to change one event from the past, specifically by causing that event to not happen. This power was earned fairly early in the evening’s chaos, so while everyone else was laughing and joking about powers gained and reacted to how many times we drew specific cards despite the unlikelyhood that they’d keep showing up after I reshuffled the deck, this player was busy thinking about how to use this specific combination of powers. As much fun as I was having with the chaos happening to the other players, I was more excited to see what this player would come up with since he’s usually the one to push the envelop and come up with things that surprise me.

For instance, the first thing he suggested as a potential use for his reality-altering power was to prevent the death of the god whose name had been granted to the world in honor of her sacrifice. This god, according to the history the players learned, chose to save the mortals around her form a raging elemental titan that would have otherwise destroyed them. The titan wound up destroying her in its rage, but her death spurred all the other gods to action, thereby starting the creation wars between the gods and the elemental titans, the results of which directly lead to the initation of the godswar an unknown (by them) time later, which resulted in much of the damage and scarring the world bears in the present day of the players’ characters. Not to mention, of course, that the elemental titans had been killed but also left in the world for reasons unknown, which was causing real problems for the people in the time of the players’ characters. Preventing the death of that one god could have changed everything!

Except, of course, that it really wouldn’t have. As my players and I discussed, prompted by that idea and a few other ideas floated by the other players in response to that one, wars typically happen as the culmination of many events. Systemic problems frequently can’t be solved by the alteration of a single event, even if you have been given the knowledge you need to understand what event needs to change to prevent the outcome you know. An abusive and dangerous empire isn’t made by a single event. You can’t dethrone a godking by making one of his supposed miracles fail. You can’t stop a war by preventing the death of the first victim in one specific moment. The empire might falter or lose a step, but it’s inertia will carry it to victory eventually and nothing short of another series of events with a similar amount of inertia will properly topple it. A godking with a failed miracle will merely find a scapegoat and then prove their power via a new miracle since anyone willing to believe in a godking will believe that a godking’s enemies were out to make them look foolish in that momemt. If someone chooses not to sacrifice themselves to save others, thereby sparking a war, on one specific day after a long series of watching people they care for be hurt, they’ll probably do it eventually and the only real change will be that more people were lost before the war began.

I tried to provide as many examples as I could of how our world’s history could change with one or two events being shifted. It can be difficult, though, because there’s no way of really knowing how things would play out with a minor tweak. People are fond of saying that Hitler getting into art school would have prevented the rise of nazism and the second world war, but I think it would have just looked different. I mean, the US is a pretty good example, what with Trump and US facism. All the elements were already there, the situation was right for the rise of authoritarianism and reactionary politics and the fascism that seems to always show up after those do. The orange menace just gave it a kickstart and launched it into the open. It might have taken more time to get where we are today without the travesty that was the 45th presidency, but we probably would have. The shithead turtle leading the conversatives in the senate was already using the playbook, so it was just a matter of time. The rise and fall of movements, power, and societies aren’t quick or easy things, nor do they reduce down to single tipping points as often as we’d like them to, so changing one single event in a massive chain like that wouldn’t have a huge, drastic effect on the world.

What the player wound up doing was changing events so that his character was in a position to start a chain of events that would change the world. In ways that are both significant and that, from the perspective of the other players, won’t have any visible change until they start digging into things. It is entirely posssible, given what the player and I have discussed, that I’ll be able to pull a “the world was always this way.” I think I can even incorporate it into the side-campaign that gave the player the knowledge necessary to attempt something like this, though even that might have been a retroactive thing he only realized once he’d used his single answer to gain a bunch of information that wound up being connected.

It’s a little difficult to parse from where I am, if I’m being honest, since it has been so many years since I made this world and started the first campaign in it. I’m not sure I’ve kept all of the details separate, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out as I go along. After all, no one but the player and I know what his character did. No one but I knows what the future originally held that will now no longer come to pass. The campaign might be radically different, and the future might change again because of what the player might still do, but I’ll figure all that out as we get to it. That’s most of the fun, anyway, having to scramble to make everything fit as my friends and I roll dice while joking about how everyone got a card from the Deck of Many Things that granted them one or more levels except one player who drew a card that gave him a servant who was given card draws that then put him at a higher power level than the player character he was supposed to be serving. Good times.