Iron Fist is an Entitled White Boy Jerk, pt 2

Marvel: “Hey fanboys, are you socially awkward and don’t care about women’s feelings or autonomy? It’s ok, they’ll sleep with you anyway!”

Fanboys: “Yay!”

. . .

I’m to that point in Iron Fist (spoilers for episode 7, I think) where there’s an entirely unearned sex scene coming up, and it just makes me roll my eyes so hard my head hurts.

“Unearned,” in the sense that the narrative doesn’t justify it in any way.

What about this guy is Colleen Wing supposed to be attracted to?

Is it the bad hair?

The constant disrespect for her teaching methods?

The one or two compliments that he gave her in the last couple episodes? (Compliments that came totally out of the blue, “you’re the strongest person I know,” ah, you’re an idiot, Danny Rand.)

How about the stalking?

The breaking into people’s houses?

The inability to take “no” for an answer?

The vow of celibacy that he apparently swore but discards in a HEARTBEAT as soon as there’s a sexy exotic/erotic Japanese poison woman in the previous episode? (Yeah, don’t think I missed that little gem. [1])

I get that it’s a vulnerable moment with her manufactured anxiety about failing to protect a mostly dead guy, and that Danny tells her some cute stories about little boys being doofuses, but c’mon, seriously? How are we supposed to take this seriously? They’re not Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Heck, they’re not Matt Murdock and Elektra.

Maybe she’s just really into fake-looking chest tattoos.

Yeah, that’s probably it.

Are Colleen Wing’s initials “CW” because this is a CW show? Maybe that’s it.

If that sounds harsh, it’s because Marvel keeps digging that hole for The Great White Hope, and doesn’t seem to realize it’s digging.

Flawed people, I’m cool with–I *prefer* flawed characters, in fact–but I expect there to be narrative consequences to their flaws or an exploration of their flaws.

So far, Danny’s only “flaw” is that he’s too compassionate, refusing to kill the Hand warrior so that Madame Gao wouldn’t kill the damsel in distress. And then he angsts about that, because that’s apparently a good thing.[2]

His seeming inability to respect women or boundaries is a significant flaw, but there’s been zero sign that he’s even aware of that problem, much less that he’s going to address it. And why would he? Even the women he disparaged, disrespected, and harassed fall into his arms without any real effort on his part. No doubt Colleen and Joy will end up fighting over him, because that’s how these rich white boy wish fulfillment stories usually go.

Every episode, I like him less and less, which is pretty remarkable, considering how little I liked him initially.

Jessica Jones, for instance, was an incredibly flawed character who made all kinds of bad decisions and disrespected the hell out of basically everyone, but she suffered for it. She had to earn every ounce of good that happened to her in that show (and there wasn’t a lot of it). Her whole story was a compelling climb up a rugged mountain during a lightning storm without so much as a jacket or even boots.

Danny doesn’t struggle or suffer or have to earn anything. Sure he gets hurt on occasion, but it’s never a big deal. Everything just kinda works out for him, because it’s destiny.

And that’s a lame story.

This is a lame story.

I hope it gets better.



[1] The Japanese spider lady who fights with sexiness was really, REALLY bad. (Orientalism, anyone?) I mean, I want a Spider Woman show as much as the next hot blooded Marvel fanboy but c’mon.

[2] Also, can we have a conversation about how eastern philosophy is a stand-in for psychopathic disregard for innocent lives here? Maybe it’s an Objectivist thing–that in order to truly excel at your calling, you have to put petty things like morality aside. (Maybe the “Rand” part of his name isn’t a coincidence.) Maybe this is the conversation Marvel wants us to have, but that’s really weird.

(See also, Iron Fist is an Entitled White Boy Jerk, part 1.)

Iron Fist is an Entitled White Boy Jerk pt 1

This regards IRON FIST on Netflix, and contains spoilers for episode 4/5 (not sure which).
At one point, Danny shows up at Wing’s dojo, uninvited (red flag) and clearly unwelcome after he has been stalking her for some time (red flag) and assaulted one of her students (not that he cares, because Iron Fisting or something, red flag), with “takeout” (a catering service from a romantic food place, as a result of his cluelessness, but red flag) so he can “talk to her about something.” (Red. Flag.)
He interrupts Colleen when she’s in the middle of teaching Claire (yay!) how to fight. (You know, that whole female agency/empowerment thing? Gotta interrupt that, right away.) And then he won’t leave despite the fact that they’re in the middle of a lesson. I mean, if he can’t respect women or boundaries, at *LEAST* he can respect actual training sessions, right? Nope, apparently not. (RED FLAG.)
She asks if it’s a date, and he assures her that no, it’s not a date, definitely not, unless *puppy eyes* that’s what she wants. And thank God she says “no, it’s not,” because *Jesus*, man, get it together, just a little. (Also? RED FLAG!)
When Colleen is understandably hesitant to have lunch with him (because ALL THE RED FLAGS!), Claire volunteers to give up the rest of her session and join them for lunch. And note–this is important–Danny says “no, that’s not necessary,” and Colleen says “no, that’s a great idea.”
She is visibly and narratively relieved to have an ally at that table. It’s flagged quite clearly right here.
And then during the conversation, it comes up that Danny has sworn a vow of chastity, and Colleen is OMG relieved, because *Jesus.* But at the same time, creeps sometimes trick their marks into a false sense of security, so she stays super wary. (Which is good, because she’s the best character in this show.)
And the worst part for me, I think, is that we’re supposed to root for this relationship. We the audience are supposed to wonder why Colleen’s not falling into Danny’s arms. Because he’s the hero, of course he gets the girl. (And let’s not kid ourselves here–he will. That’s just how Marvel rolls.)
I’m deeply suspicious of any message that justifies stalkery harassment with “social ineptitude” or “cultural difference.” We get enough of that “oh, he’s just socially inept–don’t mind the sexist rants on Twitter” crap in real life. Danny grew up in a context of respect and acknowledgment of others, right? So why does he do this shit? If I were Danny, I’d back way the hell off and exercise a little patience and, I dunno, *wisdom.*
This is a terrible, *terrible* message that they’re putting out there.
Maybe the show is going to redeem this kind of stalkery, boundary-pushing behavior, then ok, but considering the graceless way they’ve done everything so far, I’m not holding my breath.

Iron Fisting, pt 1

So I’m currently watching Marvel’s IRON FIST, and I haz the thoughts.

I write this review while I’m watching Episode 4 (spoilers for that far), having seen the previous three. I will watch more. Read on to find out why.

Iron Fist: Marvel’s participation in the kung-fu craze of the 70s, translated into today’s world

Let me preface this by citing my own biases: I’m a pretty big comics fan. Within the fandom, I’m probably only considered minor, but I’ve read a lot of comics and know a lot about Marvel’s principal gravy trains. I’ve seen all the Marvel movies, most of them several times each, and more importantly I’ve caught the majority of the references and know what’s going on. I know very little about Iron Fist, however. I’m pretty neutral as regards the character, much like Luke Cage (if I go back and do a review series about that show as well). Haven’t read many of his books or thought much of his crossover appearances. So I’m not coming into this with any particular biases for or against the character, nor do I know much about his supporting cast and rogue’s gallery. This allows me to watch the show without preconceived notions.

I’d also like to acknowledge the review work that has already been done here. There are a lot of critics out there who have disparaged this show for a lot of reasons.[1] There is an important conversation to be had about the problematic ways this show deals with race, orientalism, and the white savior trope, all of which arise from the subject matter and are carried over into the show to some extent. This review entry will not address those in detail, as I haven’t watched enough of the show to present a full opinion on those subjects. In the meantime, there’s lots of reading out there to be done regarding cultural appropriation and the racial politics inherent in IRON FIST.

I’ll get into all that later. For now, I want to talk about the characters and structure of the show, trying to table those major issues for the moment. I have made an effort to watch the show without all of that in my head and just judge it on its own merits.

The result? Kind of a mediocre show that’s just kinda there.

It follows the Marvel Netflix structure pretty well. It follows multiple characters, it uses brief flashbacks that only make sense as you watch the show, it explores multiple themes, it could use more lighting, etc. But for some reason it’s less compelling than other Marvel Netflix shows. It’s ok, and you might really like it, but it’s just not up to the same level as the other Marvel Netflix shows.


I’ll watch more of the show, but so far, I’m not particularly impressed. The writing is not great–it lacks the sparkle of previous Netflix Marvel shows. The acting is mediocre and some of the scenes could use better direction. The fight scenes are just ok. They do look more like the unglamorous but efficient reality of martial arts–more about holds and leverage and knowing how to move than brute strength. But this is TV, and *superhero* TV at that, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it taken up a notch. I mean, the DAREDEVIL fights were brutal and realistic and great. Compared to those, IRON FIST’s fight scenes are just kinda meh. Think of the DAREDEVIL corridor fight in season 1, episode 2 and the stairwell fight near the beginning of season 2, compared to the fight scene in IF episode 4. It doesn’t feel as epic or immediate or powerful.

As a fantasy writer, I wouldn’t mind it all being a little more fantastic.

But my main problem is, there’s just nothing to latch onto.

In DAREDEVIL, we had Matt’s pathos and drive to punish the wicked, assuaging his own guilt (survivor’s guilt, catholic guilt, lying-to-my-friends guilt, all the guilt). In JESSICA JONES, it was all about trauma and the fallout of sexual assault (something TV/movies almost never deal with). In LUKE CAGE, it was the racial tensions of his situation and the struggles of being black in America.

What do we have in IRON FIST? A clueless white boy who wanders around hoping things will work out for him, and they generally do, because why wouldn’t they? He’s a good-looking white boy, even if he’s an example of a monk character with a low charisma. He’s rich, or at least should be, which he ostensibly doesn’t care about but hires Jeri Hogarth (yay!) to fix for him. What’s he fighting for? What’s his purpose? He says he’s the sworn enemy of the Hand and the dedicated protector of K’un-Lun, but we know almost nothing about that city or that story. When is this show gonna throw us a bone?

This is like reading a book that you think *might* get good, but is just a tedious slog for the first hundred pages or so.

About the Characters:

Finn Jones as Danny Rand is ok, but the material he’s working with is pretty generic. He isn’t Arrow (and that’s good, because he lacks Amell’s charisma or physicality)–his character is much less driven, less in control of himself or his surroundings, etc. I understand that’s part of where he’s coming from (Zen? Buddhism? Some sort of eastern philosophy, the show can’t seem to decide.), but he wanders around the set like he’s some Calvin Klein model on rumspringa. When he interacts with Joy and Steve[1] Meachum, he’s clueless, graceless, and just expects everything to be fine. Yes, maybe that’s the philosophy he comes from, but as pasty and handsome as Jones is, this just comes off as rich white boy entitlement. (And I’ll bet Marvel never addresses this.)

Finn Jones as Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, aka white boy *really* into tai chi

And it’s really weird that Rand would be an entitled white boy, because he didn’t grow up that way. Jones doesn’t have the sense of calm and presence that he needs to come off as believably steeped in eastern mysticism or Buddhism. I don’t want him to be some sort of stereotype, but I want him to bear the mark of his experiences, not look like he spent the last weekend at a yoga retreat + tai chi in the mornings.

And then, when he interacts with the amazing Henwick as Colleen Wing, where he just starts talking to her in Mandarin (which to my untrained ear sounds like they at least made an attempt) or all the bowing or questions her martial arts skills… It’s unclear if he’s really trying to be respectful or if he’s making fun of her. And she knows it, too–you can see it in her face.

(Is this what racial minorities deal with all the time from well-meaning but clueless white people? Spoiler alert: it kinda is.)

I think this is a writing mistake. I think the writers did not consider any of these issues when they crafted this character. Because there are so many ways they could be addressing this, but they aren’t doing that.

Maybe it’s the hair. The messy mass of gold curls has got to go.

Or maybe it’s his tendency to talk down to everyone and ignore their “no thank yous” or just plain “no.” He doesn’t respect anyone’s consent, iron fists his way right through boundaries, he’s somehow above everyone in his own mind, and pretends it’s all him being kind and/or respectful. Rather than coming off as respectful or humble, he comes off as an entitled jerk.

I do appreciate that Jones seems human and disoriented. He’s obviously suffering from severe culture shock, though I’d like to see them play that up more. Have him go into a department store, look around, and just go “why?” Why so much excess? How do people live like this? Marvel could really play this up. We’ll see if they do.

We get a healthy dose of “cruel mental hospital” in episode 2, and it does make us start to wonder whether Danny is really Danny, just like everyone else wonders. You know, after “the Incident,” I’d expect people in the MCU to be a little more credulous when it comes to super powers and mysterious backstories. But I guess it’s reasonable.

Colleen Wing is my favorite character thus far. Not surprising, since the Daughters of the Dragon are great in the comics. Can’t wait until she catches up with Misty Knight.

She’s beautiful, obviously, but she’s also tough, independent, and has more of a moral compass than most of the other characters. She’s way more grounded than Danny with his hippie zen white boy act. And she’s gonna be a great martial presence in the show, assuming Marvel doesn’t frat-boy out and make Danny her savior at every turn. Also, the little nods to her white costume from the comics are pretty great. (The more that happens, the better as far as I’m concerned–episode 4 is very rewarding in that respect.) She’s also not exoticized but allowed to be the cool American young woman she is whilst maintaining her very specific philosophies.

Her arc is thus far about remaining true to herself. Adhering to a code of conduct and behavior based on Bushido vs. the needs of the living in the real world, like money to run her business, etc. We see this when Chris[2] Meachum tries to bribe her to lie on a form to get Danny committed, and then again when she goes to an underground UFC fight, despite telling her students that fighting for money is dishonorable. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Colleen Wing aka the Daughter of the Dragon, scrappy martial arts instructor, and basically the person carrying this whole show

It’s unclear what ethnic heritage Colleen is supposed to have in the show. In the comics, Colleen is a red-haired Japanese-American, having a white father and a native Japanese mother. Henwick is from Singapore, so at least she’s East Asian, but it’s unclear how the show is intending to present her. Danny started speaking to her in mandarin as soon as they met, suggesting he read her as Chinese, but she corrected him pretty quickly and asked him to “speak English or Japanese–I haven’t spoken Mandarin since I was a little girl.” Which suggests she’s fluent in Japanese, which is also the source of the martial arts that she teaches at the dojo (near as I can tell–their exclamations were Japanese, and their prayers in episode 4 are Japanese). And–and here’s the big one–she is all about Bushido, which is the code of honor followed by samurai, who are distinctly *Japanese*, not Chinese.

A Chinese-American fluent in Japanese and only passable in Chinese, who holds herself to the code of Bushido (a Japanese philosophy)? Sure. That’s possible. But I also know TV and films have a tendency to look for “Asian” in their actors, and not be a lot more specific than that.

The part in episode 3 where Colleen spars with Danny is interesting, but probably not in the way Marvel intended. Yes, he’s kind of mansplaining/whitesplaining martial arts to her, but it could be that he’s just talking about a different style than her own, and he’s teaching her. The optics of that aren’t great (white dude better at martial arts than Asian lady! Yay!), and he’s being hugely presumptuous. Which kinda fits in with his “I grew up in a monastery for 15 years and have no social skills of any kind.” But that’s no more an excuse here than it is on Twitter. If a guy is disrespectful to a woman, “he’s awkward” isn’t an acceptable excuse. And Wing did indeed call him out on it, albeit indirectly–she showed him the door–though he managed to weasel his way into her good graces for plot reasons. Obviously, she is fully within her rights to forgive him for being a clueless dick, but I’d like to see Danny come to terms with how inappropriate his behavior often is, and make efforts to make amends. The chances of that seem low, but it’s always possible.

If anything is going to keep me watching this show, it is gong to be Colleen Wing.

On the Meachums:

These are pretty interesting villains. Joy is caught in the middle of it all, though I’m expecting a heel-turn at some point. She reminds me of Laurel from Arrow, mostly because of the hair (I don’t know what it is about haircuts in this show) and because Danny is constantly mooning over her the way Oliver does Laurel. I’m not sure if Joy’s going to be a love interest, but he’s really committed to her. And she twists him around her finger like it’s no big thing.

(Note: See footnote 2, but I’m apologizing in advance for any confusion raised in using multiple names for Ward. The show also confused me, and I’m making a point here.)

Her brother Chet[2] is a cartoonish bully type, but at least we’re seeing some of the reasons for his behavior and outlook. Barron Meachum boasts one of the most punch-able faces in all of these Netflix Marvel shows, and I am very much looking forward to Danny punching him right in the kisser. Or maybe Colleen Wing, which would be even better.

Their father Harold Meachum is intriguing as a behind-the-scenes Kingpin type, and I’m wondering about his moral dimension as well.

Ward and Joy Meachum–spoiler alert, they’re the bad guys

Mostly the value of these characters, as I see it so far, is the discussion of bullying and the ongoing cycle of violence. Trent bullies Danny, Grant is bullied by his father Harold, who was in turn bullied by his father, and probably his before him. It’s the whole fratboy mentality: violence is learned and passed on to the next generation. When will the cycle end, one is led to wonder? Are bullies redeemable? I mean, I’m not invested in Chaz being redeemed–that guy is a major asshole–but they’re setting this up as a useful side story.

Also, yay for Jeri Hogarth and Madame Gao!

Well, I’ll keep watching. You might like it as well.


[1] A friend of mine recently said that Iron Fist is worse than any superhero movie or show he’s ever seen, including Green Lantern, which is fighting words. 🙂

[2] I know his name is Ward, but he’s such a generic white rich corporate frat boy bully villain that I was initially confused about what his name was supposed to be, even when they’d just said it thirty seconds before. There is nothing that stands out about this character. He’s just “mean entitled white boy.” And so I find myself giving him a succession of such names. See also: Donald, George, Mike, and Dick.

Further reading:

Don’t miss my “Iron Fist is an Entitled White Boy Jerk” series:
That makes it sound like I hate this show, which isn’t the case, but there are things that grate on me. Final review to be written once I finish it.

5e: Barbarian Ookie Mode

When I was a wee lad playing D&D with my middle and high school friends, we had a term for a thing the dual-wielding fighter/mage would do. We called it “ookie mode,” where he put a huge string of buffs on himself and then just buzzsawed his way through the enemies with his two magic longswords.

We were young. Powergaming was a thing.

Cut to today, several editions later.

A guy on the 5e D&D page has apparently posted a couple times about his character (let’s call him Ookie, for reasons that will become obvious), a mid-level barbarian 5 (berserker)/fighter 5 (champion) who regularly gets 6 attacks a round.

I assume Ookie looks a little like this.

This he does, apparently, through getting the extra attack ability twice plus action surge plus frenzy plus haste (from a ring of spell storing).
Some clarifications:
* Extra attack (barbarian 5 PHB49 or fighter 5) means that he will attack twice whenever he takes the Attack action.
* Rage (barbarian 1 PHB 48): You go into a rage as a bonus action, and during a rage, you gain numerous benefits, including extra damage, advantage on strength checks and saves, and damage resistances. Rages last 1 minute at most and you can’t cast or concentrate on spells during a rage. A 5th level barbarian can rage 3 times a day, needing an extended rest to replenish his rage. A rage ends voluntarily (as a bonus action) or if you end your round without having 1) attacked a hostile target or 2) taken damage since your previous turn.
* Frenzy (berserker 3 PHB49) means that Ookie can make a single weapon attack as a bonus action once on each of his turns (not the Attack action, mind you). Note that a creature can only take one bonus action per turn. Important note: if you frenzy as part of your rage, you gain a level of exhaustion after coming out of the rage.
* Action surge (fighter 2) allows Ookie to take an additional action on his turn (it is not an action itself to activate it). He can only use Action Surge once between short or long rests.
* Haste (PHB 250) gives Ookie dexterity, speed, and AC benefits and allows him to take an additional action on his turn that must be a weapon attack or a dash, hide, etc. It will require an action to activate this effect, but after that it lasts for up to 1 minute. And let’s not forget that the spell requires concentration to keep going. That’s important. (And another example of how the concentration rules muck up buff spells.) Also of critical import is what happens when haste ends: a wave of lethargy hits you and you can neither act nor move for a round.

* Ring of Spell-storing (DMG) stores a spell in it, which you can activate just as though you had cast the spell yourself.
So here’s how this would go down, as I see it.
Round 1 (Fight!): Ookie uses a standard action to cast haste on himself from the ring, then uses a bonus action to go into a rage/frenzy. If he has a friendly wizard to cast haste on him, then he has a standard action he can use to charge into combat or attack (twice, thanks to extra attack). Number of attacks this round: 0-2 (if there’s a friendly wizard)

Round 2 (Fight!): Ookie is now hasted and raging. He takes the Attack Action, which allows him to attack 2 times (1 standard attack, 1 extra attack). He also gets a bonus action to attack from Frenzy and a free attack from haste. He then uses Action Surge, giving him an additional action, which he uses to attack 2 times (1 standard, 1 extra). At the end of the round, he cannot concentrate to maintain the Haste effect, because 1) barbarians can’t concentrate on spells while raging, and even if they could, 2) odds are he’s taken some hits, which require concentration checks. Thus, the Hast effect ends, and a wave of lethargy sweeps over him.. Rage has lasted 1 round, will last nine more. Number of attacks this round: 6. (FTW!)
(You may have spotted a problem with how I describe haste working. More on that in a bit. Just roll with it for now.)
Round 3 (Haste ended last turn): Ookie cannot move or take actions this round. Since he can’t attack any hostile targets this round, that means his rage will end unless he takes damage (from an enemy or an ally, doesn’t matter–he just needs to take the damage). Number of attacks this round: 0 (wah-wah). Assuming it’s still going, rage will last 8 more rounds.
Round 4: If the rage ended last turn, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion but can still fight. He can take a standard attack action, attacking twice this round. If he was lucky enough to take damage and the rage is still going, Ookie can still make an attack as a bonus action. Number of attacks this round: 2-3.
The battle continues like this until round 11, at which point the rage ends if it’s still going, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion. He could in theory rage again

Cut back to round 3:

Assuming Ookie set this up so that he didn’t have to concentrate on the haste (he has a wizard friend or the DM is ignoring the concentration rules), that means the haste didn’t end in round 2 and knock him out of commission in round 3. Thus:
Round 3 (Haste hasn’t ended): Ookie is still hasted. Ookie takes the attack action to attack twice (Extra attack), and uses his bonus action to make a weapon attack (Frenzy). Rage has lasted 2 rounds, will last 8 more. Number of attacks this round: 4.
Rounds 4-11 are the same, number of attacks 3-4, depending on whether haste goes.
Round 12: Haste ends at the end of round 11, knocking Ookie out of commission in round 12. He also gains a level of exhaustion when his frenzy ends. On subsequent rounds, he can make the standard 2 attacks, or he can throw himself back into a frenzy to get 3. Maybe he even has another haste effect to pop. He cannot, however, use another action surge until he completes at least a short rest.

Or Ookie could be a woman. Who knows, really?

* Note that a lot of this relies on an extremely generous interpretation of the concentration mechanic. RAW, concentration spells end the instant you stop concentrating on them, which means that haste would have ended not on the second round, but as soon as Ookie started raging in round 1, meaning that he’d be out of commission in round 2.
I’m a just my own house rule that concentration spells finish out a round from when you break concentration. I was being very generous.
If your DM interprets concentration strictly, there is no reason for a barbarian to cast haste on himself and then rage, because that instantly dispels the haste and knocks him senseless for a round.
It’s got to be from a third party caster.

So what’s the conclusion?
Yes, in theory, *at best* Ookie could go nova and get 6 attacks in one round, and 4 in the other rounds within his one minute rage. He wouldn’t even have to be level 10 to do it–just barbarian 5 (berserker) / fighter 2. That’s right. A 7th level character could attack six times in a round! Assuming he has a spell caster of comparable level backing him up–a spell caster willing to concentrate on maintaining Haste.
However, and this is important: he would only get six attacks in a round ONCE per rage (the round he uses action surge), and he could only rage 3 times per day at his level. He only gets action surge back when he takes a short rest (about an hour long rest), so he can’t do it twice in quick succession.

Not to mention that after he rages three times in a row and thus gains 3 levels of exhaustion, he will have disadvantage on all ability checks (level 1 exhaustion), his speed halved (level 2), and disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws (level 3).

In addition, every time is Wizard friend slaps that haste on him, the consequence of that spell is that it paralyzes him when it wears off (no move or action for 1 round), potentially leaving him very vulnerable. If he cast it on himself, it’s almost certain to end at a perilous moment, and having a friendly caster place it on him is a dicey proposition.

So Ookie Mode *is* possible, but it’s costly and difficult to set up.
And honestly, don’t bother with the haste. Odds are you’ll get in the same number of attacks *or more* if you just frenzy.
Not hasting:
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage kicks in for next round)
Round 2: 5 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 3 attacks (no paralysis)
Round 4: 3 attacks, etc.
Total: 13 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste that only lasts 1 round:
Round 1: 0 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 0 attacks (paralysis) and rage has a good chance of ending
Round 4: 2-3 attacks + exhaustion (if rage ended)
Total: 8-9 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste someone else casts on you (and they maintain it for the full duration):
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 4 attacks
Round 4: 4 attacks
Total: 16 attacks in 4 rounds

Is the World of Ruin epic fantasy?

From The Toast

There’s this quiz going around, and I thought I’d apply it to the books….

1. The Elders would like a word with you. – No “elders” in the World of Ruin. Circle of High Druids, yes, but they prefer actions to words. #MaskoftheBloodQueen

2. The Ritual is about to begin. – If you mean ritual combat, then yes.

3. Something that has not happened in a thousand years is happening. – Doom happens in the World of Ruin on the order of every 5 or 10 years, actually.

4. You are going to the City. There is only one City, etc. – There’s only one civilized mage-city left, yes, but everyone calls it Tar Vangr, or the City of Steel, or the Winter City.

Also, put a shirt on, it’s cold outside. 🙂

5. Certain members of the Council are displeased with your family’s recent actions. – Most of my heroes are orphans. They make their own family.

6. A bard is providing occasional comic relief. No one hired or invited him. – Comic relief? In the World of Ruin? Yes, but no bards.

7. The High Priest is not to be trusted. – No priests to speak of. The Gods died or fled long ago.

8. Someone is eating an apple mockingly. – Have to remember to put this in book 4.
9. There is one body of water. It is called the Sea. The Great Sea, if you are feeling fancy. – The Grey Sea, but yes, this one.

10. You live in a region with no major exports, no centralized government, no banking system, a mysteriously maintained network of roads, and little to no job training for anyone who is not a farmer. – Nope, most of those places in the World of Ruin have been trampled by barbarians.

11. You have red hair which you wear in a braid. Your father was a simple man, etc. – Ovelia and Garin both have red hair, and either occasionally braids it. Their fathers were anything but simple, however. #LoveTriangle #KingsShield

That’s Ovelia. Her hair looks pretty loose to me.

12. You’re going to have to hurry or you’ll miss the fair. You never miss the fair. – Ah, for happier times, when the mage-cities held fairs.

13. There is trouble at the Citadel. – Well, there’s often trouble at the castles, which tend to explode with some frequency.

14. Your full name has at least one apostrophe in it. – Thankfully I ducked that in this series.

15. It is the first page and you are already late for something. – Five years late for your own death, Ovelia. Oh and your mother won’t be dead by page 42—she’s been dead for nearly 40 years. You killed her.

16. There are two religions in your entire universe—one Islam, practiced by villains, the other “being a Viking.” – Civilized folk in the World of Ruin may worship lost gods (each city has a patron deity) but usually don’t. Barbarians worship Ruin herself, who has nothing to do with Islam or any other religion. That faith is mostly “bring death to those too weak to resist.”

17. There are new ways in the land that threaten the Old Way. – The Old Way died out when the World of Wonder magically nuked itself. I *wish* we could practice the old way.

18. The real trouble began the day you arrived in court. – Well, that *is* how Shadow of the Winter King ends . . . #regicide

Take me to your leader, that I might KILL HIM.

The Self-Inflicted Tragedy of the Alt-Right

This is such a good piece about the sad, blissful ignorance of the alt-right–and the rude awakening they are having:

On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right, by Laurie Penny

As a young man, I thought I understood the world, and I was angry and selfish and self-righteous. I could have been one of these lost boys, but I eventually chose empathy, not hate. I met people with different perspectives and backgrounds than mine, and I respected them as teachers, rather than dismissed them as threats. I chose to grow up.

I cannot help but be saddened by this. Not out of sympathy: these pathetic man-children have chosen their path, whether out of ignorance about the consequences and/or desperation to cling to their unearned privilege. No, I am saddened out of empathy. I feel their desperation and their hurt and their overriding confusion, because I have known these things. But where adults can confront these things and find a way to live with them, the alt-right simply rejects them and refuses to participate, to their downfall and the detriment of us all.

Most of us climb the mountain of adulthood: a perilous, tedious journey, at times easy and relaxing, at times steep and smooth, at times slick and treacherous, at times seemingly impassible. We keep at it, working to find alternative routes, and we reach down to help those who are struggling to climb below us. Some people have better equipment with which to make the climb, or an easier route laid out before them.

By contrast, the alt-righters jump right off the cliff the second it becomes even remotely challenging. They think someone saying something even remotely negative must be a true test, because they have never faced anything like real persecution or oppression. They never even get to the hard stuff, and thus they forgo the added strength and stamina that comes with challenge, much less the rewards of having conquered the mountain. They stand there at the base of the mountain screaming invectives up at us, because they don’t have the self-respect to try and climb.

They entertain fantasies about what life will give to them, but they don’t have the skills or interest needed to work for such things. They stand for nothing and have nothing. They have chosen lives that mean nothing.

These awful people are damaging themselves and damaging our country. I can see the shared parts of the path we walked, and thankfully, where we diverged, I chose the right path, while they took the alt-right path: perhaps less traveled by, but for a reason. Because it goes nowhere good.

Their chosen path way leads not to freedom (from consequences, from responsibility, from aging), but to oppression (of the less powerful, of everyone, and ultimately of themselves).

They are lost, and if they are fortunate enough to have the skills needed to find their way, they don’t bother looking. Instead, they just languish in their ignorance, expecting the mountain to bow down for them, so they don’t have to exert themselves in the climb.

That isn’t how life works, and by the time they learn that, it will likely be too late.

The REAL White Wolf

Minor Witcher 3 spoilers:

So I’m early on in playing the Witcher 3 (great game, etc), and I’m doing this quest called “Precious Cargo.”

In White Orchard, Gerald runs into this “merchant” with a bow who claims monsters spooked his horse, which ran off the road into the swamp. He’d like it ever so much if I found a strongbox on the lost cart and returned it to me. And he’ll reward me.Fine, it’s what I do.

Head into the swamp, kill some drowners, did the cart and a dead horse. Only I *also* find a dead cart driver with an arrow through his neck. I grab the strongbox (covered in human blood) and head back to the bowman, er, merchant.

I tell him he’s a terrible liar, and clearly he killed the cart driver himself, and he tries the whole “look oh behind you” trick, complete with shifty eyes. Geralt being Geralt, I don’t bat an eye but instead cross my arms and say “there’s nothing behind me. I’m a Witcher. I’d have heard it. Just like I can hear your heart pounding. Like a liar’s.” He runs off, and it’s set for a kind of cool horse chase scene.

Only here’s the thing: when the cut scene is over, I’m suddenly being attacked by a pack of wolves! They’ve surrounded me, and by the time I cut them down, the bowman has made good his escape.

Well, that's just great.

Well, that’s just great.

So maybe those Witcher senses aren’t all they’re cut out to be, because apparently there WAS something behind me.


Was that archer the REAL White Wolf?