Mailbox Filter

Mailbox Filter
This is to all observations a standard mailbox. But it serves a special function. Any mail that gets put in the mailbox that you don’t want, the mailbox makes it disappear before you even see it. The mailbox knows what you want and don’t want because it’s magic. Any mail you would actually want to open gets passed along. All the junk and unwanted correspondence disappears without a trace.

About the Magic

Culture 18

“The Kraken” by Squirrel Nut Zippers. A musical interlude that takes you on an epic mystical journey to the land of dreams. You think I’m exaggerating? You would think that, wouldn’t you?

I had a geometry teacher who used to say that. You’d make some sort of logical blunder and answer wrongly, and he would raise his eyebrows a little bit and nod encouragingly, and say in his distinct nasal voice, “You would _think_ that, wouldn’t you?” He was a bit unsettlingly intense, but I always appreciated the sentiment. Basically he was saying, “Yes, I understand the mistake you made, and you are not stupid.” Still, I bet it was really off-putting to some people. Armenti was his name. He was quite the character. But I digress.

Culture 17

“Magic Box” by the Laurie Berkner Band. Laurie Berkner was doing her thing when my child was the right age. Steph actually took Marnie to a Laurie Berkner concert back in the day. At home, we had a Laurie Berkner DVD that saw a lot of play. Laurie Berkner is an amazing performer with incredible energy, and her music is rocky, delightfully kid-like, without being saccharine and without dumbing it down. At the center of everything, it’s a woman singing while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. What’s not to like? I mean, Suzanne Vega, right? The Indigo Girls? C’mon. But this is for kids, and my child loved it dearly. I just showed them the video and they went on a big nostalgia trip, one that was welcome and pleasant. This is “Magic Box”, which is fairly indicative of Berkner’s work. I hope you listen and enjoy.

Skill Advancement Idea

A role-playing mechanic. Each time you fail at a skill, you tick a box. After a certain number of boxes, say ten, your skill level increases. Because experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. And every time you succeed at the skill, you tick a box, and when you get twenty of those, you go up a level. Because practice makes perfect. But you learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

The skill list on the character sheet could have the boxes right there for you to tick off. I could whip up something in a word document.

This is interesting, because I haven’t done any game design in a minute, and here’s a skill advancement system that is organic and doesn’t use abstract experience points or some such, and is something that is completely not the GM’s responsibility to oversee. The only way to advance a skill is to use it. It’s very elegant, I feel. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Share them in the comments below. How bloggish of me.

Happy Pills

Happy Pills
These are white pills. They look like plain, unmarked aspirin tablets. Take a pill, and you will be suffused with satisfaction. Satisfaction at your lot and station, satisfaction with your relationships, social standing, finances, possessions, career, living situation, productivity, and more. For you, for a duration of about four hours on average, the pursuit of happiness will have successfully concluded.

There are no negative side effects. When the effect wears off, it does so gently, so that you are not abruptly less happy. You notice the effect lessening, and then after a few more minutes, you feel normal again. While it may be tempting to immediately take another happy pill, you can only take two pills in a 24 hour period. One after sunrise, and one after sunset. If you take any more pills than that, they will have no effect.

Of course, if you take a pill just before sunrise (having not yet taken one after the preceding sunset), you can take a pill right after you come down from that. Many people do this, because yeah, why wouldn’t you? Eight hours of pure happiness, are you kidding me? Incidentally, you can’t double up the pills before and after sunrise or sunset and get super ultra extra mega happy. The second pill will simply have no effect.

Also incidentally, being suffused with satisfaction does not spoil you for everyday living. Happiness doesn’t work that way. At least not in my experience.

It’s also important to note that the happy pills do not turn you into a happy zombie or anything. You will not be physically or mentally impaired in any way, and you can get on with your day while under the effects. I mean, if you want to, you can just chill and do nothing but bask. But nothing in the pill’s effects will encourage or discourage activity. You can just do what you want. As well, your personality will be unmodified. You’ll still be you. You’ll just be suffused with satisfaction.

About the Magic

Thermal Vents

On the deep ocean floor, the water is not hospitable to life. But sometimes there are vents that are connected to the volcanic activity of the interior of the planet, and these thermal vents make the water warmer and I think also add nutrients to the water, such that they become oases of life in the desert of the ocean floor. Organisms live in and around these thermal vents that can’t live anywhere else on the planet.

So here’s the thing: what if stars in our universe are just thermal vents of some entirely other system? Whether they are or not, they serve exactly the same function as a thermal vent does to those microbes and whatnot that call its proximity home.

I just thought that was interesting.

Three Personal Hygiene Spells/Items

Cleanse Person
May be cast on yourself or another person or animal. The target becomes super squeaky clean. In a healthy way. No dried-out skin or brittle hair or anything like that. Will not clean teeth. For that, you’ll want the Oral Cleanse spell.

Oral Cleanse
Cast on yourself or another person or animal. The target’s mouth, including tongue, teeth, gums, etc. becomes very clean and pleasant smelling/tasting. Won’t do dental work or fix cavities or anything. For that, you need Mouthwash of Dentistry.

Mouthwash of Dentistry
This is a dark green clear liquid that usually comes in a small bottle. It tastes about how you would expect mouthwash to taste — harsh and vaguely minty. When swished around the mouth for thirty seconds, this mouthwash will treat/cure any “diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity, commonly in the dentition as well as the oral mucosa, and of adjacent and related structures and tissues, particularly in associated maxillofacial area.” (Wikipedia) Cavities, missing teeth, toothaches, gum disease, oral cancer, you name it. It gets fixed. Where there were problems can now only be found healthy teeth and gums, and all that other stuff listed in the Wikipedia quote is healthy too.

Depending on the severity of the problem(s), and the patient’s own idiosyncratic physiology, sometimes multiple doses need to be swished to completely fix everything. But you have to wait at least 12 hours between applications.

About the Magic


In the kitchen, I was putting away my water bottle and keys and stuff, when it hit me: nothing is perfect, and never will be. And I got to thinking, so what’s the fucking point? If it can’t be perfect, why even bother? There will always be injustice, there will always be suffering, some people have it better than others for no reason and that’s always going to be the case and it’s totally not fair so why do we even fucking put up with it? Worldwide suicide. We’re not good enough, and we never will be.

There’s gotta be something wrong with this line of thinking. There’s a quote. “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” I think that’s what’s at work here. In focusing on the perfect, you minimize all in the world that is good and just, and there are some of those things. You should boost the good, not castigate it for being imperfect. Perfect is never a thing, literally can’t be. It’s just an idea that poisons and rots and cheapens everything. Everything. Yeah, I gotta get outta this shit. I think I just wrote myself out of it, so that’s kinda cool. Writing as therapy. Wouldn’t be the first time.