Parthenogenesis: Virgin Births in Birds

On my birthday comes an interesting article about virgin births being more common than we thought. I knew that parthenogenesis (“virgin birth”) was common in aphids, lizards, and fish, but apparently in birds too. The Atlantic reports:

“In species where parthenogenesis has been extensively studied, the process begins not long after the egg itself is created. When a cell divides in two to make an egg cell, the other half becomes a polar body, which contains a near-identical copy of DNA. Normally, the polar body disintegrates. But studies of other birds have revealed that on occasion, the polar body somehow merges again with the egg, acting like sperm fertilizing it. Because of birds’ chromosome system—ZZ makes males and ZW makes females—all avian parthenotes are males. If an egg with a W chromosome merges with its polar body, the resulting WW embryo will not be viable. Only the ZZ parthenotes ever hatch. But that doesn’t explain why some females go through parthenogenesis but not others.”

There was a good Regenesis episode dealing with a parthenogenesis in a teen girl whom the Norbac scientists initially thought was raped by her father. You can watch it on amazon prime, Regenesis: Season 3. It’s episode 10, “Unbearable”. Wes is part of the Norbac team and also the uncle of the girl (Molly) who is pregnant. He thinks that his brother Eliot (Molly’s father) raped her, and wants his colleagues to prove it with all the DNA testing so he can call the police. The relevant part goes from 34:50-40:47:

Wes: “Did Eliot get Molly pregnant? I want to know, I want to call the police.”

David: “What’s the name of Eliot’s ex-wife?”

Wes: “Andrea.”

David: “Molly got 50% of her DNA from Eliot, and 50% of her DNA from Andrea. The baby got 50% of her DNA from Molly, which breaks down to 25% from her grandmother, and 25% from her grandfather. And she got 50% of her DNA from whoever the father was. Now if Eliot is the baby’s father, that means that 50% of the baby’s DNA comes from Eliot as its father, and 25% of its DNA comes from Eliot as its grandfather, for a total of 75%.

Maiko: “No, but that’s the thing. We checked, and it’s only 50% of Eliot’s DNA in that baby, not 75%.”

David: “Well… then Andrea fucked the milkman. The only way this is possible is if Eliot is only the biological father of the baby, not the biological father of Molly. Call the police, Wes.”

Carlos: “No, but wait a minute, David. We have DNA profiles of Eliot and Molly. And with 100% certainty, Eliot is Molly’s biological father. We keep going in circles.”

David: “Well… then shit.”

Then David examines the DNA analyses of Molly’s baby and finds that it is 100% identical to that of Molly — a clone, an identical twin, a genetic copy, whatever you want to call it. So Eliot is not the father of the baby, because the baby doesn’t have a father. David speculates: “In other for parthenogenesis to occur, Molly’s egg needed to gain an extra copy of DNA somehow. Fertilized without the fertilizer. And then the hard part: that egg DNA somehow had to come alive. Normally it’s the sperm that does that. So we need to look for something that could trigger all of this. My guess is a bacterium. A bacterium that somehow infected her developing eggs.”

Fun science fiction, and not wildly impossible. Scientists say that human virgin births are technically possible though very unlikely.

Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America

A new religion in the guise of world progress is not an advance; it is a detour. It is not altruism; it is self-help. It is not sunlight; it is fungus. It’s time it became ordinary to call it for what it is and stop cowering before it.

The wokes will dismiss John McWhorter as an Uncle Tom, which means that he’s right and his book overdue. Let’s start with his appeal to the reader who is understandably confused about the third-wave battle against racism:

You get First Wave Antiracism and think of segregation as an ancient barbarity.

You’re right.

You get Second Wave Antiracism and think we should all work to truly see black people as equal to whites and deserving of all that whites get.

You’re right.

You see Third Wave Antiracism telling you that you are morally bound to conceive of ordinary statements that were once thought of as progressive, like ‘I don’t see color’, as racist. That if you are white you are tainted permanently by ‘white privilege’ in everything you do. That you must accept claims of racism from black people that make no real sense, or, if you are black, must pretend that such claims are sacrosanct because the essence of your life is oppression. Whatever color you are, in the name of acknowledging ‘power’, you are to divide people into racial classes, in exactly the way that First and Second Wave antiracism taught you not to.

You don’t get it. You are right again.

That’s a pretty good snapshot: The first wave battled slavery in the 19th century (good) and replaced it with segregationist and Jim Crow structures (bad). The second wave battled racist attitudes from the late 60s through the 80s, and taught us that being racist period is a moral flaw (good). The third wave became mainstreamed in the 2010s, and turned a positive trajectory to cancer. Wokeism teaches that racism is so baked into the structure of society that all whites are complicit in racism; and that for black people, grappling with this omnipresent racism is the totality of their experience, requiring hyper-sensitivity towards them, including a suspension of standards of achievement and conduct. It’s become such a farce that segregation itself has been resurrected in the name of diversity — residential segregation, segregation in classrooms — now advocated by “antiracists” instead of racists. The Orwellian vision has never been so real.

In other words, third-wave antiracism isn’t antiracist, but racist, and thus the book’s title. It’s the bigotry of incredibly low expectations. A show of elite moral superiority. A policing of speech and enforcement of theory having no basis in fact. And not only is it racist; it’s a religion.

Wokeism: The Religion of the Elect

Not “like” a religion, says McWhorter, but an actual religion. The fact that it lacks the window dressing of supernatural elements is meaningless. We should get past seeing the wokes as “crazy” (something I admit I’m guilty of) and understand that they follow a religion — not to revel in derision but to genuinely understand what they are.

Wokes don’t necessarily rely on beliefs in the supernatural, but they’re just as superstitious, and unable to back up their dogmas with real evidence or science. They’re supported by a “clergy” of pseudo-academics who preach more than teach. They maintain a secular doctrine of “original sin”: white privilege. They’re evangelical. And they believe in “banning the heretic” — not speaking out against them or debating or discussing differences with them, but isolating them and cancelling them for their “blasphemies” without reasoned argument. There are even ritualistic prayer sessions and genuflections. Most of all, there is the moral arrogance that is so typical of religion devotees, that masquerades as humility and meekness.

The central tenets of this religion can be listed in what McWhorter calls a “Catechism of Contradictions”. According to this catechism, we should embrace multiculturalism but should not culturally appropriate. Silence is violence, but shut up and defer to the voices of the oppressed. Black students should be admitted to top schools with adjusted test scores and grade standards, but don’t dare be so racist to point out that students are actually admitted on this kind of basis.

McWhorter also reminds us that most of the wokes aren’t zealots or hotheads. The abusive woke-ideologues who make the loudest noise — who rip into people in person, or who may restrict their nastiness to social media — are zealots, but the majority of wokes aren’t fire-breathers. The challenge of the wokes is precisely that most of them are no more pushy or socially unschooled than anyone else, and harder to deal with as a whole because of it. “They are, in all their diversity, sucking all the air out of the room.”

To avoid being mean, McWhorter avoids calling them “social justice warriors”, or “the woke mob”, or “inquisitors”. Because many are not zealots and are friendly enough, he follows the label used by Joseph Bottum: the Elect. “They think of themselves as bearers of a wisdom, granted them for any number of reasons… as having been chosen, as it were, as understanding [having been ‘awokened’ to] something that most do not. ‘The Elect’ also implies a certain smugness, which, sadly, is an accurate description.” I prefer sticking to the term “wokes”, but I can see why McWhorter uses “the Elect” in the context of the movement’s religiosity.

I agree that wokeism has all the meaningful elements of a religion. The wokes hold to beliefs that are grounded in irrational assumptions and cling fiercely to these beliefs — for ulterior transcendent reasons — despite their otherwise empirical leanings. That’s religion if there ever was. There are, however, other political ideologies that might qualify as religions depending on how fast and loose we play, and there’s a danger there. When McWhorter says that wokes “have no business being the final arbiters on our school curricula or on what subjects people choose to study”, I personally agree but wonder if that’s a decision best left to local school boards. If wokeism were legally classified as a religion, it would mean that separation of church and state applies, and that federal or state governments could intervene and overrule school boards — and then what comes next?

The supernatural may be an artificial part of religion, but that artificial distinction tightly restricts the government on what ideologies it can ban from public schools. I’m not wild about loosening those restrictions, unless we have very clear criteria in place for defining religion.

Burning Down the Monuments

The only point at which the author abandons his tactful standard and descends to calling the wokes just plain dumb and stupid — and quite rightly — is when they go after historical figures like George Washington and demand tearing down the statues and monuments of such men:

“We are not to celebrate that America got past slavery, but to reach backward in time and slap at the people who had yet to, in order to show how goodly we are now. The Elect [the wokes] require that we pretend that figures of the past are walking around with us, as if time does not pass… It is willful dummity.”

Indeed, this is dumb-assness of the highest order, though to be fair, there are some legendary figures who I believe can be judged racist by the standards of their day. Andrew Jackson is one of them. He didn’t just go along with slavery as an accepted institution of the day; he was the first active pro-slavery president. Woodrow Wilson is another. Besides being the worst president of all time for every reason, he was a virulent white supremacist who torpedoed the social progress of his Republican predecessors. He was so bad that he fueled the birth of the second KKK. I have no problems with tearing down monuments to these men, depending on the context of the monument.

McWhorter agrees mostly about Wilson, stating that he is “quite comfortable seeing Wilson’s name removed from buildings”, as well as someone like Robert E. Lee’s. I would also add Teddy Roosevelt to the authentic hall of shame. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be on Mount Rushmore. Not only did Teddy believe that blacks were inferior to whites because of “natural limitations”, he showed his contempt for those “inferiors” by requiring black soldiers to prove their innocence to avoid dishonorable discharges from the military. The evidence pointed to the black soldiers being framed, but Roosevelt — in contradiction to the American tradition of innocent-until-proven-guilty — said that if none of the African American soldiers admitted to shooting up the town, they would all be assumed to be guilty and all of them discharged. Teddy is also legendary for saying that “the most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian”, and that “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are; and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” Contrast all of this with many of Teddy’s executive predecessors from the 19th century, who at least went to bat for African and Native Americans.

The problem is that wokes don’t stop at legitimate offenders like Jackson, Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Confederate leaders in the Civil War. They want to efface and erase practically everyone — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, to name a few — and this is as stupid as stupid gets, as McWhorter says, especially since these men objected to, if not despised, slavery.

The Solution?

Racism is still a problem, no question, but as McWhorter shows, the third-wave paradigm of wokeism (Electism) isn’t the answer. Under this paradigm, those who disagree in the slightest — those who point out how self-contradictory and anti-scientific it is, how childish it is — must be condemned and ostracized, leaving reasonable and progressive people branded as bigots. Wokeism is toxic, costing innocent people their jobs, derailing academic inquiry, and “forcing people to endure the kind of phony double-talk that any ten-year old can see through.”

The third-wave writers offer no real solutions anyway. McWhorter calls Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility the second worst book he has ever read. The bestseller argues that whites need to confront their complicity in an inherently racist society, and understand that they’re being subtly racist in just about anything they do or say. What they’re supposed to do from that point isn’t clear, and DiAngelo even says that to be hastily thinking about solutions to racism is wrong. Whites should simply do the work of identifying the racism within them. White Fragility, in other words, advocates a scheme of religious navel-gazing that does nothing whatsoever to help black people.

In contrast to a racist DiAngelo-like scheme of non-solutions, McWhorter devotes a chapter to actions we might take to dramatically reduce racism. He proposes three planks:

1. Fight to end the war on drugs. Without a black market for drugs, many more black men would get legal jobs, and not be at risk for getting killed or going to prison for long stretches of time that make them less employable and unable to parent their kids. With no war on drugs, encounters between black men and the cops will be much rarer

2. Make sure that kids are taught to read with phonics. The whole-word method isn’t the way. Proven time and time again. School districts that switch to phonics raise the test scores of black kids vastly, but not enough people get the memo.

3. Advocate vocational training for poor people and battle the idea that “real” people go to college. In the 21st century we need to seriously revise the idea that attending a four-year college is the only road to success. It’s a different world from the 60s and 70s: college is an expensive proposition for poor (and even many middle-class) Americans, and the leftist refrain that those who don’t get a college education are mired without opportunity doesn’t help. Two years training at a vocational institution open up many avenues for those who want to better themselves.

Practical strategies that would actually accomplish something.

The real problem: wokes or the right-wing zealots?

There are some who say — and I know people personally who say this — that the real problem is the right-wing, racist zealots who stormed the Capitol building on January 6, not the wokes. I am happy to see McWhorter refute this claim as I have to a couple of my friends. There was never any coup. Those protestors at the Capitol were dealt with swiftly, by the Trump administration itself, and they have certainly not taken over institutions with their views. It’s that simple. There are no institutions bowing down to the Capitol rioters’ behavior. It needs watching, but it’s an incident unlikely to happen again, whether Trump gets re-elected or not.

But it’s undeniable that woke ideology has a stranglehold on institutions that barely even knew what wokeism was before 2014. Wokes are changing America. The Capitol mob changed nothing. “Seeing the mob’s awfulness up close felt like a change,” says McWhorter, “but that was in us, not them.” That they tried to threaten democracy is less important than their attempt inevitably failed. The wokes by contrast are a toxic success, and — as I have been saying for years now — they are the future of our legislators and justices. As a government employee myself (public librarian) I have already seen the alarming intrusion of wokeness where it has no place.

Verdict: Get McWhorter’s book and read it. It’s a suitable companion to Cynical Theories. Not as comprehensive, but packed with plenty of good stuff. Whether wokeism is best understood as a religion or an extreme political ideology will be debated as people read this book, and as I said above, I applaud the reclassification in theory more than practice. At the very least, McWhorter has shown that wokeism is substantively a religion, and its adherents are as superstitious, anti-scientific, and heresy-punishing as the most devout religionists.

See also: McWhorter interviewed on Bill Maher’s Real Time and Sam Harris’ Making Sense.

The Scariest Stranger Things Episodes to Rewatch for Halloween

According to Collider, out of the 25 episodes of Stranger Things to date, these are the five scariest to rewatch for the Halloween season:

  • Holly Jolly (s01 e03). Because of Barb’s abduction and failure to escape the Upside Down, the Demogorgon coming out of Joyce’s living room wall, and the boys seeing Will’s body dragged from the quarry. Yes. This one undeniably belongs on the list. It’s scary from start to finish, and in my judgment the scariest episode of the series. (I rank it at #1 below.)
  • The Pollywog (s02 e03). Because of the final scene on the soccer field. “The Mind Flayer attacks Will in a thoroughly horrifying manner. It’s impossible to get out of your head once you’ve seen it.” True, the final scene is a whopper, but on whole I don’t think this episode earns a place on the list.
  • The Spy (s02 e06). Because “Will isn’t himself anymore, and entirely a pawn in the Mind Flayer’s game”, sending men to their deaths in the tunnels below. Agreed. The Spy is a viscerally terrifying episode, and like The Exorcist some of the scariest scenes are what Will is subjected to by the medical and science professionals. (See my ranking below at #3.)
  • The Flayed (s03 e05). Because “this is the episode where all the storylines shift from interesting to scary.” Uh, no. This episode is not particularly scary. Truth told, I thought it was one of the blandest in the series.
  • E Pluribis Unum (s03 e06). Because “the Mindflayer using mind control to convince people to sacrifice themselves to give him a body is as hellish a thought as anyone could imagine”. Agreed, but before that comes something even more scary. (See my ranking below at #4.)

I choose seven episodes instead of five: three from season 1, three from season 2, and one from season 3. Ranked as follows:

Barb from Stranger Things Has Climbed Out of the Upside Down and into | Vanity Fair
1. Holly Jolly (s01 e03). There’s a reason Barb Holland became an instant icon. The opening sequence of this episode is possibly the scariest scene of the series, as we see poor Barbara killed in the shadow realm as she desperately tries to pull herself to freedom. And it’s a nightmare from that point on, as Joyce proceeds to turn her living room wall into a giant Ouija board. It commands her to RUN and leave the house, just as the demogorgon bursts through an adjacent wall. At the same time, the kids see Will’s corpse dragged from the river, and they have no reason to think it’s a fake. Holly Jolly, hands down, wins scariest episode of the series.

Stranger Things 2 Review: Episode 4, "Will the Wise," Is Stuck In A Rut - GameSpot
2. Will the Wise (s02 e04). Possession is a risky concept because it’s hard to do right, but Noah Schnapp nailed it with subtleties even Linda Blair didn’t pull off in The Exorcist. In the wake of the Mind Flayer entering him (at the end of episode 3), Will runs the gamut of possession fits, alternating between being shaken and terrified, to making resolute demands (that his mother run him a freezing bath, because his possessor “likes it cold”), to stalking about the house confused, assaulted with horrifying visions, crying, sweating, as he starts to lose his autonomy. There are no jump scares here, just the slow creep of dread, and it’s very effective.

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3. The Spy (s02 e06). The demo-dog attack at the junkyard is pretty scary, but The Spy is dominated by Will and his internal conflict with the Mind Flyer. Here we see how his connection to the Upside Down means that he is harmed by wounds inflicted on any creature of the Upside Down. The lab scientists have no clue how to treat him as he thrashes and screams that “it hurts everywhere”. As in The Exorcist, some of the most terrifying scenes of Stranger Things 2 are Will’s reactions and behavior patterns as lies in bed in a hospital gown. And of course there is end, where Will, horrified at himself, breaks down and tells Mike that he sent all those men to their deaths in the tunnels.

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4. E Pluribus Unum (s03 e06). This is where Eleven communes telepathically with Billy in order to access his memories and locate the source of the Mind Flayer — a risk that allows Billy to “grab” her and trap her inside the Void, in a hostile version of Hopper’s cabin. When she returns and finds herself back in the cabin, but with her friends vanished, it’s a truly pants-shitting moment: she’s actually still stuck in the Void. Billy emerges from “Hopper’s bedroom” and it gets worse. He backs El into a corner, explaining to her the Mind Flayer’s sadistic plan, and this scene is juxtaposed with citizens of Hawkins sacrificing themselves to provide the Mind Flayer with a body made of their own corpses.

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5. The Body (s01 e04). This is an episode of scary revelations. Hopper finds Will’s fake body at the morgue and cuts it open; Nancy gets a frightful glimpse of the demogorgon dashing about, while searching for Barb. The scariest scene comes at the very end, when El channels Will’s voice eerily over the school radio: it causes him to appear in the wall of his own home, resulting in Joyce ripping down her wallpaper and seeing him through a translucent window. He’s terrified, alone in the Upside Down and and screaming for help, as she’s unable to do anything. That scene gave me a bloody nightmare.


6. The Bathtub (s01 e07). This episode centers around the plot of getting El in the bathtub (a makeshift sensory deprivation tank) to locate Barb and Will, resulting in some of the creepiest scenes of the series. She finds both of them in the Upside Down: Barb is dead, a greenish-purple corpse with slime and slugs running over her, and Will is unconscious in a shadow version of Castle Byers. The final scene is a heart-stopper, as Will is alone in the shadow fort, shivering in his quasi-coma; the demogorgon is suddenly heard outside growling, and comes crashing in to take him.

Stranger Things 2 episode 2 recap trick or treat freak - Polygon
7. Trick or Treat, Freak (s02 e02). I have to include this one since it’s the Halloween episode, though most of this episode is really more fun than scary, as the kids celebrate the scares. There is however a genuinely frightening scene that gives me a bad moment, when Will is crouched behind a building (above pic) and the Mind Flayer funnels its way down the stairs to grab him. There are great Halloween homages, the most blatant one being the scare that Lucas gets when Max jumps out of nowhere in Michael Myers mask waving a machete. The perfect episode to watch for Halloween.

The Seductress Character Class

Over on Grognardia, James Maliszewski covers White Dwarf issue #13, published back in June/July 1979. One article features the Houri, a female character class steeped in the arts and spells of seduction. I wish I’d subscribed to White Dwarf back in the day. I never saw it in stores, though I knew plenty of its existence through Dragon magazine, which I did subscribe to and which often referred to it. White Dwarf was like the Judges Guild products, edgier and less polished than the TSR stuff, and harder to come by. I would have loved the Houri class.

The Houri, or Nymph, or (as I prefer) Seductress is defined as “a very specialist sub-class of magic-user, their specialty being concerned with spells of charming and similar abilities. They also have the power to seduce single individuals and the ability to hide in shadows like thieves.” They need a charisma score of at least 15, and intelligence and dexterity scores of at least 10, and they must be human, elven, or half-elven. For weapons they can only use daggers and pins (though I never really followed weapons rules for character classes too closely) and cannot wear armor, which is reasonable since that would interfere with the ability to seduce effectively.

Here are the charts for advancement and spells.

I have a pdf of White Dwarf #13, and as I was reading through the spell descriptions I noticed that some of them were later reproduced, verbatim, in the fan-made Book of Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. I had already incorporated spells from that book in various module designs. For example, in the Sylaire part of my revised version of Castle Amber, I made Sephora a monstrous seductress, who turns men into sex slaves and then discards them when they bore her.

Between the 48 houri spells listed in White Dwarf, and the 149 carnal spells listed in the Book of Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (many of which overlap), I revised the houri class, calling it the seductress, narrowing the pool of spells down to 63. Needless to say, this material will not be to everyone’s taste or comfort level. Many D&D players, especially in the woke age, would say this character class has no class at all. That is to be expected, and to each of course their own. But for fans of the classic pulps (which are chock full of femmes fatales), the seductress will be seen as a perfectly suitable character class with a loads of potential.

Spells of the Seductress

The following 63 spells are those which the seductress has access to in addition to the spells from the standard mage and illusionist lists in the Player’s Handbook.

1st Level

1. Charm Male
2. Dire Chastity
3. Ecstasy
4. Fascination
5. Flash
6. Freudian Thoughts
7. Kiss of Healing/Wounding
8. Kiss of Sleeping/Waking
9. Masturbation
10. PMS
11. Seduce I
12. Silvertongue

2nd Level

1. Communicate
2. Dispel/Transfer Charm
3. Emperor’s New Clothes
4. Impotence
5. Jealousy
6. Kiss of Strength/Weakness
7. Protection from Disease
8. Reverse Sexual Orientation
9. Seduce II
10. Sleep Theft

3rd Level

1. Bodyguard
2. Candlelight Dinner
3. Kiss of Slavery
4. Obsession
5. Resist Charm
6. Seduce III
7. Sexual Nerd
8. Tiny Brothel

4th Level

1. Kiss of Linking
2. Kiss of Paralysis
3. Reverse Gender Orientation (Gender Dysphoria)
4. Seduce IV
5. Strip
6. Transfer Pregnancy
7. Vampiric Passion
8. Virtuous Ward

5th Level

1. Embarrassing Fetish
2. Kiss of Change
3. Kiss of Disfigurement
4. Lovesickness
5. Lust
6. Seduce V
7. Sex Slave
8. Stop!

6th Level

1. Blown Kiss
2. Heartbreaker
3. Kiss of Death/Life
4. Kiss of Regression
5. Mass Ecstasy
6. Seduce VI
7. Sex Change
8. Wall of Roses

7th Level

1. Impregnate
2. Planar Lover
3. Seduce VII

8th Level

1. Mass Lust
2. Power Word, Castrate
3. Temple of Lust

9th Level

1. Eternal Ecstasy
2. Orgiastic Storm
3. Summon Cissaldan

 

Blown Kiss

Enchantment. 
Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 100 yards. Target: 1 person. Duration: special. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This spell enables the seductress to “blow” any kiss spell of levels 1-6 up to a range of 100 yards, without physical contact. It must be used in conjunction with another kiss spell.

Bodyguard

Enchantment. 
Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 30-foot radius. Target: all creatures up to 3 HD. Duration: special. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell affects all characters and creatures of up to 3 HD within a 30-foot radius of the seductress. Any of them who fail their saving throws will immediately disregard their previous purposes or allegiances, leap to the seductress’ side, and form a protective ring around her. The bodyguards will defend her from all assailants, even their own friends and allies. The bodyguards are not charmed, however, only under a special command to not allow harm to come to the caster. Once they have protected the caster from immediate danger they will each become catatonic for 1-6 turns before returning to normal.

Candlelight Dinner

Conjuration. 
Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 0. 
Area: one room of maximum 40 square yards. Duration: 1 night. Saving Throw: special. Spell Resistance: no.

The caster sanctifies an area with lustful magic. All food and drink become finely and enchantingly flavored, the light becomes softer, the room warm and eyes are alight. A mild and romantic scent lies over everything. For every candle present, three additional candles are summoned. Anyone entering the room is sexually aroused (no save), and must save vs. spells if they wish to attack the caster. If the save is failed, that person will fight to protect the caster.

Those exposed to a candlelight dinner will be at an extreme disadvantage if any of the following spells are cast on them: charm, ecstasy, jealousy, lust, sex slave. Anyone who has been at a candlelight dinner within the last three hours will save at a -5 penalty against any of those spells.

Charm Male

Enchantment. 
Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/2 caster levels. 
Area: one male humanoid creature. Duration: 6 hours/caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes

.

This spell is identical to the first-level mage spell, charm person, except that it works only on heterosexual (or bisexual) males — or on homosexual (or bisexual) females — and the victim must save at a -3 penalty. The duration is also much longer (6 hours per caster level, instead of 1 hour per caster level).

Communicate

Divination. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: caster
. Target: caster. Duration: 10 rounds/caster level Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The seductress may communicate with any intelligent creature in its own language for the duration.

Dire Chastity

Necromancy. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch
. Target: Creature touched. Duration: 1 day/level Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell delivers 1d6 points of damage +1 point per caster level (maximum +10) to a living creature for each full act of sex engaged in. Some of the more sexually active undead (such as vampires) have been known to use this spell upon themselves, as they are healed by the negative energy rather than harmed.

Dispel/Transfer Charm

Enchantment. 
Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/2 caster levels. 
Area: one humanoid creature. Duration: permanent or whatever time remains on the original charm spell. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

.

This spell either removes the effects of a charm spell, or transfers control over a charmed individual to the seductress. If the latter, the charmed individual must be either heterosexual (or bisexual) male or homosexual (or bisexual) female.

Ecstasy


Enchantment. 
Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 5 yards. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 1 minute + one minute per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.



This spell causes the subject to go into an enjoyable, screaming, orgasmic fit. The person may be any bipedal human, demihuman, or humanoid of giant-size or smaller, such as dwarves, elves, gnolls, halflings, kobolds, and others. That victim may save to avoid the effect. Failure results in a loss of all dexterity bonuses to armor class, inability to move from one’s current location, although he/she will be able to defend with a modification of –2 to everything and is not considered to be entirely helpless. The victim cannot cast spells, attack, use items, etc, except in defense.

Embarrassing Fetish

Enchantment. Level: 5.  Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards. Target: 1 creature. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: daily. Spell Resistance: yes.

The spell affects one intelligent creature, and causes it to be erotically enthralled by a single kind of object or behavior. A sample of that kind of object or behavior arouses the subject uncontrollably, and by the same token, it is impossible to achieve erotic pleasure or orgasm without the fetish object or behavior present.

Examples of fetish objects are red hair, spiked heels, whips, jeweled short swords, oak leaves, artificial limbs or amputees, green tunics, tuna, cheese, sheep, hobbits, kobalds, red dragons’ tongues, royal guards in uniform, children, octogenarians, members of one’s immediate family, etc. Examples of fetish behaviors are having small insects and snails crawl all over one’s body, inflicting pain on another person, inflicting pain on oneself, being strangled, strangling another person, being bound, binding another person, being charmed or commanded, staging one’s own mock execution, and innkeepers’ daughters pouring beer down one’s chest, etc. The spell is extremely versatile and may be made as detailed and kinky as desired.

Like Reverse Sexual Orientation and Reverse Gender Orientation, this spell has no save initially. Upon first realizing that one has a fetish, if the subject strenuously objects, he or she is allowed a saving throw after 24 hours, and another saving throw after every subsequent 24 hours, but at a cumulative penalty of -1 per day. A save of 20 always succeeds.

Emperor’s New Clothes

Illusion. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 5 yards/caster level. Target: 1 person. Duration: 1 minute/caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

Devised originally as a prank spell, it causes all of the target’s clothing and bodily possessions to become invisible, but not the target itself. The target sees his or her clothes as they normally are. Swords in scabbards are considered bodily possessions, but not if in hand. Any clothes put on after the spell is cast do not become invisible. Invisible items remain invisible for the duration of the spell or until dispelled.

Eternal Ecstasy

Transmutation. Level 9. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. Target: 1 creature touched. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes.

Those versed in arts of ultimate ecstatic experiences devised this spell to deal with their worst enemies. Most arch-mages prefer to trap the souls of their enemies or lock them into temporal stasis; seductresses are not so kind. By casting eternal ecstasy the target is locked in an endless state of all-devouring pain-pleasure. Unless the target is able to resist this magic with spell resistance, he or she is rendered completely unable to move or act, thoroughly helpless, and reduced to 1 hit point permanently, out of constant strain to body and mind. If not somehow taken care of, the subject of this spell will perish in a short time through lack of nourishment and sleep. This spell works on any creature able to feel pleasure and pain. 

This spell is permanent until the target is destroyed. Not even death will end the torture of a victim, unless a divine power takes mercy on such a poor soul. The soul of the victim will be caught up in a never ending state of eternal orgasm. Only greater restoration, miracle, or wish spells can remove the effect — and even in these cases the victim must save or go insane from having been subjected to an ecstatic torment that mortals are not meant to endure.

Fascination

Enchantment. Level: 1.  Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 12 yards. Target: 1 person. Duration: 10 minutes per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

The affected person will be unable to do anything at all except follow the caster wherever she goes, unable to look away from her. If attacked, the affected will try to beat off any opponents, including his own comrades, in a berserk fury (+2 to attack, -2 to AC) in order to continue moving towards the spellcaster. If the spellcaster shows any signs of hostility to the affected person, the spell is ended immediately.

Flash

Illusion. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 12 yards. Target: 1 creature per caster level. Duration: 1 round per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

In casting this spell, the seductress must expose a body part (knee, thigh, shoulder, or something more sensitive, as the caster desires) and say something suggestive if not outright lewd. The spell will only affect members of the opposite sex or homosexuals. It will cause all creatures affected to be stunned (for the duration) by the incredible attractiveness of the body part they have just seen exposed.

Freudian Thoughts

Enchantment. Level: 1.  Casting Time: 1 round. Range: within hearing range of the subject. Target: 1 person. 
Duration: 10 minutes per level. 
Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

This is a great role-playing vehicle that turns a character into a pervert. The victim of the spell begins consciously and subconsciously to interpret everything in sexual terms. For example, the subject would perceive a sword attack not only as melee but also as an attempted rape by a male, and would experience eating a hot dog as eating cock, and… on and on.

Heartbreaker

Necromancy. Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 30 feet. Target: 1 person. 
Duration: instantaneous. 
Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell induces a sudden heart attack in a victim. Failure to save vs. spells results in death. Victims who are resurrected will return with a permanent loss of strength, dexterity, and constitution points (1-6 each), and will have a 5% chance of another heart attack every time they exert themselves from then on.

Impotence

Enchantment. Level: 2.  Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 5 yards. Target: 1 person. Duration: 24 hours. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

The victim of this spell becomes impotent for a day, unable to engage in any sexual activity, and make all attacks and modifiers at a -2 penalty. Wisdom, constitution, and charisma scores are lowered by 3 points each during this time period, and the victim feels downright miserable.

Impregnate

Conjuration. Level: 7. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. Target: 1 female. Duration: special. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes.

This spell creates life and, according to some myths, a new soul, in a creature capable of bearing young, usually a female. Casting this spell on a male has unpredictable effects, half the time (10-50) doing nothing, the other half (51-00) resulting in a “male pregnancy” which results in the death of both the male and the fetus when it reaches four months old and ruptures the males internal organs, unable to survive anymore.

Jealousy

Enchantment. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 6 feet
. Target: 1 to 6 persons. Duration: 20 minutes + 10 minutes per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

The affected people will become jealous of the caster or selected person, to the extent that they will ignore the caster or any other source of danger present and quarrel amongst themselves, except when someone not belonging to the affected group attacks the group. There is a 33% chance of such an argument leading to blows and, if it does, there is an additional 10% chance of the fight being to the death. If the fight is not to the death, then the combatants will come out of the spell when reduced to half of their hit points.

Kiss of Change

Enchantment. Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This is a polymorph others spell in all ways, except that it comes by a physical kiss, the duration is permanent, and there is no saving throw, though constitution checks are periodically allowed to break free of the polymorph. A constitution score of 6 or less allows a constitution check after three weeks, and every three weeks thereafter; between 7-9, every two weeks; between 10-12, every week; between 13-15, every three days; between 16-17 every day; and 18 or above every twelve hours. The seductress may end the change at any time with a second kiss.

Kiss of Death/Life

Necromancy. Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: no.

There are no saving throws against any of the kiss spells, except against the kiss of death, but even this save is made at a severe penalty of -5. Those who do save lose half their remaining hit points. The reverse of the spell returns a corpse to life (as a raise dead spell, not resurrection), provided the subject successfully survives the return from death based on his or her constitution score.

Kiss of Disfigurement

Enchantment. Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This permanently reduces the charisma of the victim to zero — he or she grows horns, an extra nose, loads of warts, and develops a hideous body stench, as well as a speech impediment. The victim is shunned by strangers, and even friends and allies, who will probably attack if approached by the poor victim. The seductress may end the horrible condition at any time with a second kiss — if she can bear doing so.

Kiss of Healing/Wounding

Enchantment. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: instantaneous. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The is a cure spell, restoring 4-7 hit points (d4+3) to an injured person. The seductress must kiss the person somewhere on bare skin. The reverse of the spell is a kiss that causes 4-7 hit points of damage.

Kiss of Linking

Enchantment. Level: 4. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: up to 10 hours. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The seductress’ kiss links the mind of the seductress with that of another person for up to 12 hours, and during this period the two will think and act as one person, under the seductress’s control. The seductress will be able to speak and cast spells through the other person. There is a base 10% of their minds ending up in the wrong bodies when the spell wears off, +5% for every hour linked (so 15% if the minds are linked for 1 hour, 60% if the minds are linked for 10 hours). If one of the two linked characters die, then both minds will end up permanently in the body of the survivor, resulting in a dual or split personality.

Kiss of Paralysis

Enchantment. Level: 4. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 1-7 days. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This is a hold person spell in all ways, except that it comes by a physical kiss, there is no saving throw, and the duration is for 1-7 days (or until the seductress wakens the victim with a second kiss).

Kiss of Regression

Necromancy. Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The caster’s kiss causes the victim to age backwards, both physically and mentally. Because this happens so subtly, the victim may not realize it’s even happening for many months. The seductress can cause the victim to start aging forwards again with a second kiss.

Kiss of Slavery

Enchantment. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 1 day per caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This is a charm person spell in all ways, except that it comes by a physical kiss, there is no saving throw, and the duration is for 1 day (24 hours) per caster level (or until the seductress releases the victim with a second kiss).

Kiss of Sleeping/Waking

Enchantment. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 1-10 turns + 1 turn/caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The victim of this kiss falls into a deep coma for the duration (or until the seductress wakens the victim with a second kiss), and cannot be wakened by normal means. The reverse of this spell will negate any kind of coma or magical sleep.

Kiss of Strength/Weakness

Enchantment. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: physical kiss. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 24 hours/1 hour. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

The kiss bestows 5-8 strength points and grants automatic initiative on attacks for one hour. The reverse removes 5-8 strength points and makes the victim unable to attack for one hour.

Lovesickness

Enchantment. Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 6 feet. 
Target: 1 male person. Duration: special. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell works on heterosexual (or bisexual) men, or homosexual (or bisexual) females. It makes the victim fall so in love with the seductress that as soon as the victim loses sight of her, he or she begins to waste away. The victim stops eating food, turns to drinking, and becomes a general wreck, fighting at a -5 on all modifiers. As a result, the victim will die of malnutrition in a number of days equal to her/his constitution score plus 10, and there is a 15% chance of committing suicide. What’s more, if the mage tells her/him to go away, she/he is compelled to do so. This nasty condition must be treated by cure disease, heal, miracle, or a wish.

Lust

Enchantment. 
Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/2 caster levels. Target: one living creature. Duration: 1 minute/caster level
. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes

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This spell uses the reproductive urges inherent in any creature, and causes them to go haywire. A creature affected by this spell suddenly wants to mate with the first person they see (often the seductress but not always), and will advance upon that person. The preferred person will be according to the victim’s sexual orientation, but in the absence of an appropriate gender, someone from the opposite gender will do just fine. Their mind clouded with hormones, they hardly think straight. They leave themselves open for hits (-4 AC), will not be detracted from their target (move towards the first thing of similar type they see until the duration expires). They’re distracted and easy to sway (-4 to saves), especially by their target (the thing they’re moving toward gets an additional +4 bonus to checks involving charisma). This lust is suicidal in nature. The target will do anything to embrace and mate with the person he/she is lusting for, often resulting in walking off cliffs, impaling the self on weapons, and generally being a nuisance.

Mass Ecstasy

Enchantment. 
Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/caster level. Target: 10-foot cube/caster level. Duration: 1 hour/caster level
. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes

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This spell causes victims to go into an enjoyable, screaming, orgasmic fit. Similar to the ecstasy spell, it causes those who fail their saving throws to be caught up in a real pleasurable experience so that he/she loses all dexterity bonuses to armor class, cannot move from his/her current location, although he/she will be able to defend with a modification of –6 to everything and is not considered to be helpless. He/she cannot cast spells, attack, use items, etc, except in defense. They also might pass out for 1-4 rounds (a constitution check is necessary every turn), but when they regain their senses, the torment of the ecstasy continues (no new save).

Mass Lust

Echantment. 
Level: 8. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 100 feet + 10 feet/caster level. Target: 20-foot cube/caster level. Duration: 1 minute/caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes

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This spell is the level-five lust spell that inspires reproductive urges in a span of creatures, but it affects many creatures at a longer range, and gives -6 penalties instead of -4, and the initial saving throw is made at -3.

Masturbation

Enchantment. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards. Target: 1 creature. Duration: 1 minute per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell causes an irresistible urge to masturbate with any and all external sexual organs. If no appendages are free for this purpose, the subject will rub the sexual organs against any nearby functional object.

Obsession

Enchantment. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch
. Target: 1 person. Duration: 10 minutes + 1 minute per caster level. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

The subject is overwhelmed by the erotic desire for some animate creature chosen by the spellcaster. A “crush” does not begin to describe the effect; the subject is truly in love with the creature. It must be a creature that the subject might feel some attraction to under normal circumstances, and the subject will not act contrary to alignment or personal ethic. The character should be played as if deeply in love.

Orgiastic Storm

Abjuration. Level: 9. Casting Time: see text. Range: 500 ft. radius energy blast with a 10 ft radius safe zone at the center. Duration: until married. Saving Throw: halves. Spell Resistance: no.

The seductress must begin casting this spell at the moment of being penetrated. At the moment of orgasm, she shouts out the final verbal component, and the spell is let loose. A thunderous explosion detonates, with blinding white light centered around the seductress. All who are more than 10 feet away and within 500 feet of the caster are affected by the resulting explosion, which can be seen from across the horizon. The explosion causes 20d6 points of damage; a successful save reduces it by half. Additionally, all those within 2,500 ft. (who can see the blast) must save or be permanently blinded.

Planar Lover

Conjuration. Level: 7. Casting Time: 10 minutes. Range: close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels). Target: special. Duration: instantaneous
. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

These are just like the planar ally spells, which summon an extraplanar creature to perform one task in exchange for a favor or the gift of a magic item. But the favor required is always sex: the seductress must make love to the planar in order to seal the pact. When an evil seductress uses this spell (to summon evil beings), she may instead make an offering of rape victims equal to 1 HD per level of the seductress. If these victims are either attractive looking or virgins, then the planar lover will provide two boons, or will double the amount of time spent on an open-ended task.

PMS

Necromancy. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards. Target: 1 creature. Duration: 1 minute per caster level. Saving Throw: 1/2. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell causes the subject to experience an unceasing, agonizing, dull throbbing pain throughout the groin and lower abdomen, as though all the muscles in that area were clenched in a vise. Attacks and saving throws are treated as if the victim is one level lower, and Constitution and Charisma scores are each halved for the duration of the spell. A successful save results in a nagging headache. Males are affected by this spells as much as females, and indeed this tends to be a favorite spell of seductresses who enjoy letting men know what PMS’ing really feels like.

Power Word, Castrate

Conjuration. 
Level: 8. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/2 caster levels. Target: creatures with up to 120 total hit points within a 15 foot-radius sphere. Duration: permanent
. Saving Throw: none. Spell resistance: yes

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When this spell is cast, one or more male creatures of any type within the spell range and area of effect are castrated. The power word castrates one male creature with 120 or fewer hit points, 2 creatures with 60 or fewer hit points, 3 creatures with 40 or fewer hit points, 4 creatures with 30 or fewer hit points, 5 creatures with 24 or fewer hit points, 6 creatures with 20 or fewer hit points, 8 creatures with 15 or fewer hit points, 10 creatures with 12 or fewer hit points, 12 creatures with 10 or fewer hit points, 15 creatures with 8 or fewer hit points, or 20 creatures with 6 or fewer hit points.

There is no save for the castration and it is excruciatingly painful — as if the victim’s balls had been ripped off by piercing talons — leaving the victim on the floor utterly incapacitated for 1-8 rounds.

Protection from Disease

Abjuration. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. Target: 1 creature. Duration: 1 day/caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

By means of this spell, the caster bestows total invulnerability to disease. The creature cannot contract, become a carrier, or pass on any disease he/she may already have. This spell doesn’t cure disease it merely prevents it from affecting someone or transferring to another. When a person is subject to this spell, a glowing light appears on the subject’s palm. This is to assure anyone that the protection is on, and that, for example, being close to such a person or having sex with him or her is completely safe.

Resist Charm

Abjuration. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. Target: 1 creature. Duration: 1 turn/caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This hedges the seductress with a protective aura making her immune to any kind of charm, hold, suggestion, command, geas, quest, and related spells.

Reverse Gender Orientation

Enchantment. Level: 4. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards. Target: 1 creature. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: daily. Spell Resistance: yes.

The subject becomes transsexual: unshakably convinced that he/she is, despite all biological evidence, of the opposite gender. The subject cannot disbelieve or be persuaded otherwise, and will immediately adapt hair, clothing, manners, speech, and behaviors accordingly. Males will behave in a feminine rather than an effeminate manner, and similarly females. In other words, the subject has no desire to parody or act like a caricature. If the subject’s species has more than two genders, the resulting gender orientation is DM’s choice. If the species has only one gender, the subject is unaffected.

 Like Embarrassing Fetish and Reverse Sexual Orientation, this spell has no save initially. Upon first realizing that one’s self-identification as male or female has changed, if the subject strenuously objects, he or she is allowed a saving throw after 24 hours, and another saving throw after every subsequent 24 hours, but at a cumulative penalty of -1 per day. A save of 20 always succeeds. Notice that gender orientation and sexual orientation are different concepts, and that this spell alone will not change orientation. Thus a straight female will consider herself a male who is attracted to men, and therefore a gay man; likewise a lesbian will consider herself a man attracted to women, and hence a straight man.

Reverse Sexual Orientation

Enchantment. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards
. Target: 1 creature. Duration: permanent: Saving Throw: daily. Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell flips the subject’s sexual orientation: from heterosexual to homosexual, or vice versa. A bisexual who favors one gender will now favor the other, and a bisexual equally disposed towards both genders will be unaffected. Asexual creatures will not be affected. Creatures belonging to a species with more than two genders will be affected (if at all) by the DM’s discretion.

 Like Embarrassing Fetish and Reverse Gender Orientation, this spell has no save initially. Upon first experiencing sexual attraction in the altered way, or upon first questioning one’s unexpected lack of accustomed sexual attraction, if the subject strenuously objects, is allowed a saving throw after 24 hours, and another saving throw after every subsequent 24 hours, but at a cumulative penalty of -1 per day. A save of 20 always succeeds.

Seduce I

Enchantment. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 6 feet
. Target: 1 person (with max. 4 HD). Duration: 1 turn (10 rounds) per caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

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This spell causes the affected male (or homosexual female) to drop all weapons, armor, and clothing, in an attempt to embrace the caster and have sex with her, leaving the victim virtually defenseless against attacks from the caster or any other character or creature.

Seduce II – VII affects a person with 6HD, 8HD, 10HD, 12HD, 14HD, and 16HD.

Sex Change

Enchantment. 
Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 5 yards/caster level. Target: one creature. Duration: permanent
. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes

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This spell causes the victim’s sex to change. Thus, a male becomes female and visa-versa. After the change, the victim will be confused for 10 to 100 minutes. Also, he/she will have a percent chance equal to his/her constitution of going insane because of the trauma.

Sex Slave

Enchantment. 
Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yards. Target: one person. Duration: 1 day/caster level
. Saving Throw: negates. Spell resistance: yes

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This very nasty and powerful spell reduces a living, intelligent person into a nymphomaniac sex slave whose only interest is bringing the caster to orgasm after creative orgasm. Once the spell has transpired, the former slave remembers every degrading thing that has happened, both the humiliation and the joy and pleasure it brought with it. However, the subject while enslaved will not only not object but will enthusiastically agree with every sexual suggestion made short of death. Each day, the subject is entitled to a new save.

This spell will generally not be used by good characters.

Sexual Nerd

Transmutation. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: 24 hours. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

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This spell makes the subject flirt like a clod, dance like an orc, and seduce like a used-chariot salesman. The subject will experience appropriate withering, shrinking, and sagging, and will be unable to achieve erection or lubrication. The nerd will have a charisma of 3 to anyone they cruise or flirt with. Orgasm is either impossible or else premature and highly unsatisfying.

Silvertongue

Enchantment. Level: 1. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 10 yard radius. 
Target: anyone in the 10-yard radius. Duration: 1 hour. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes

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This spell enables the seductress to lie so convincingly that the recipients will believe everything she says, unless their senses tell them otherwise.

Sleep Theft

Necromancy. Level: 2. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. 
Target: 1 person. Duration: special. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes

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This spell allows the caster to steal sleeping time from their sexual partner. The caster makes love with a person, and once that person climaxes he/she falls asleep for one hour per caster level, for a maximum of 12 hours, unless a saving throw is made. The caster is refreshed (instantly) just as if she had slept for that length of time and may even memorize spells.

Stop!

Enchantment. Level: 5. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 20-foot radius. Target: all in the 20-foot radius. Duration: 1-4 turns. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

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In casting this spell the seductress performs a dramatically lewd action — such as removing all her clothes — which causes the activity of all living intelligent beings in a 20-foot radius to cease absolutely for 1-4 turns. The affected beings simply stop and stare for 1-4 turns.

Strip

Enchantment. Level: 4. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 5 yards per caster level. Target: 1 person. Duration: instantaneous. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

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This spell causes one person to take off all armor, clothing, weapons, jewelry, etc. as quickly as possible. The subject will not want to put anything back on for 1-6 turns.

Summon Cissaldan

Conjuration. Level: 9. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 30 yards. Target: one summoned creature. Duration: special. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes

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The casting of this spell will cause an interdimensional connection between the world of the seductress and the alternate world of the Cissaldans. A Cissaldan has two penises, two vaginas, and is incredibly revolting to look at. It can physically adapt to almost any sexual physiology. One such being will come through the gate and proceed to sexually assault whomever the seductress directs the spell against. The victim will immediately desire to do a “disgusting thing with a disgusting thing”, and will fall upon the Cissaldan with much vigor. The victim won’t be able to do anything else as he or she is consumed with making love to the Cissaldan until Kingdom Come. The two will mindlessly copulate until the victim dies of starvation. There is no known way of separating someone from a Cissaldan until the victim dies, save a miracle or wish. After the death of the victim, the Cissaldan returns to its home world.

Temple of Lust

Conjuration. Level: 8. 
Casting Time: 1 round. Area: one house. Duration: 1 day. Saving Throw: special. Spell Resistance: no.

Every room inside the house the spell is cast upon is under the effect of Candlelight Dinner. In addition, the caster of the temple receives a spell resistance of 50%, and no uninvited creature may enter the house without saving vs. spells at a -4 penalty.

Tiny Brothel

Evocation. Level: 3. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. 
Area: 15 foot diameter sphere. Duration: 5 hours + 1 hour per caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: yes.

The caster creates an immobile, opaque, sound-proof field of any desired color around his person. Up to seven other human-sized creatures can fit inside, and they can freely pass in and out of the brothel without harming it, but if the caster removes herself from it, the spell dis cancelled. The temperature inside the hut is a cool 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It provides protection against the elements, such as rain, dust, sandstorms, and can withstand any wind of less than hurricane force without being harmed (a wind force greater than that destroys it). The interior of the hut is a hemisphere; the caster can illuminate it upon command, or extinguish the light as desired. The floor of the hut is soft and springy, and there are cushy pillows. The caster can cause the brothel play soft romantic music upon command. While the force field is opaque from the outside, it is transparent from within. Missiles, weapons, and most spell effects can pass through the hut without affecting it, although the occupants cannot be seen from outside the hut. The hut can be dispelled.

Transfer Pregnancy

Enchantment. 
Level: 4. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: touch. Target: one person. Duration: permanent. Saving Throw: none. Spell resistance: yes

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By casting this spell, a seductress can make another female pregnant with the embryo of a male that the seductress has had sex with. The caster can transfer the embryo up to 3 days (per caster level) after the day she was impregnated.

Vampiric Passion

Necromancy. Level: 4  Casting Time: 1 round. Range: personal. Target: the spellcaster. Duration: 1 minute/level. Saving Throw: negates (see text). Spell Resistance: yes.

This spell channels negative energy through the caster’s body, allowing the caster to drain energy from a victim through sexual contact. The combination of embracing and kissing drains one level; the victim must make a wisdom check to even notice the loss. Once noticed, the victim gets a save every round in the embrace to avoid losing a level. Sexual intercourse drains two levels; again, the victim must make wisdom check to notice the loss; again, the save must be made every round, and if successful, one level is lost instead of two.

Virtuous Ward

Abjuration. Level: 4. Casting Time: 10 minutes. Range: touch. Target: one creature. Duration: until discharged. Saving Throw: negates. Spell Resistance: yes.

Similar to the glyph of warding spell, this spell was designed to provide parallel defense for a person’s body. The mouth, eyes, vagina, anus and other openings of a character’s flesh can be warded, ensuring that such cannot normally be forced open by an undesired party, nor can things such as poisons or truth serums be forcefully administered. This power of the virtuous ward is similar to an arcane lock spell in that it would require a wizard four levels higher than the caster or a successful dispel magic spell to bypass the ward. Additionally, should someone manage to force something past the ward, either by magic or exceptional physical strength (25), the ward is destroyed with a intensive release of magical power. This blast does not cause any injury to the recipient of the virtuous ward spell, but it does cause 1d8 points of damage +1 point of damage per level of the caster to the offending party (no save). 

The ward is easy to spot, taking the form of tattoo-like runes encircling the protected area of the recipient’s body. There is no limit to the number of virtuous wards that can be placed on a single character, save that only one ward may protect any single opening.

Wall of Roses

Conjuration. Level: 6. Casting Time: 1 round. Range: 400 ft. + 40 ft./caster level. Area of Effect: wall of thorny rosebushes, up to one 10-ft. cube/level. 
Duration: 10 minutes/caster level. Saving Throw: none. Spell Resistance: no.

This spell creates a barrier of very tough, tangled rosebushes bearing needle-sharp thorns as long as a person’s finger. Creatures can force their way slowly through the wall, moving five feet in a round, provided they make a successful strength check each round. However, anyone moving through the wall takes 30 points of damage per round of movement, minus the creature’s AC subtracted from 10. (So a creature with AC 7 takes 27 points of damage per round, a creature with AC 2 takes 22 points of damage per round, a creature with AC -4 takes 16 points of damage per round; etc.) Chopping away at the wall creates a safe passage 1 foot deep for every 10 minutes of work. Normal fire cannot harm the barrier, but magical fire burns away the barrier in 10 minutes.

 

New D&D Character Classes: The Scientist and the Antiscientist

Way back in 1977, Issue #2 of White Dwarf Magazine presented a new D&D character class: The Scientist and its counterpart the Antiscientist. These were the days of “humorous character classes” that were intended for amusement rather than actual play, though I did actually once use a satirical class (the Hopeless character class from Dragon #96) as an NPC. Here are the levels and titles for the Scientist and its opposite.

This is very amusing (“Administrator” as an Antiscientist rank is hilarious), but I would submit that we can do better and revise this a bit for the 2st century. For the Scientist I propose:

1. Amateur
2. Graduate
3. Computer Programmer
4. Bioinformatics Researcher
5. Geneticist
6. Biochemist
7. Mathematician
8. Virologist
9. Molecular Biologist
10. Nuclear Physicist
11+. Polymath

The Antiscientist needs a complete overhaul. As this individual gains levels, he or she becomes increasingly and outrageously anti-scientific, until becoming a full-fledged Vondaniken.

1. Illiterate
2. Luddite
3. Astrologer
4. Crop Circle Guru
5. Climate Change Denier
6. Quantum Healer
7. Scientologist
8. Anti-Vaxxer
9. Flat-Earth Creationist
10. Woke Queer Theorist
11+. Vondaniken

Pastor Anderson: The Illegal Immigrant as a Role Model

Pastor Steven Anderson is a curiosity to say the least. He’s a true fundamentalist — the only one I’ve ever encountered — who takes every part of the Bible at its word, impartially, regardless of what tribe that aligns him with. So he’s a right-wing LGBT-hater (since the Bible says the sodomites deserve to die, in both the Old and New Testaments) but a left-wing immigrant lover (since the Bible says to welcome to the resident alien among you). He’s a right-wing climate change denier (because the book of Revelation spells out the world’s fate much differently) but a left-wing granola when it comes to respecting the earth (not littering or polluting, not driving the car to work, and eating organic and health foods). He’s an anti-vaxxer but aggressively pro-mask (per Lev 13:45), and throughout the year of 2020 railed from the pulpit against Covidiots who refused to wear masks or distance socially. He condemns Zionism with as much fervor as Islamic jihadism. He thinks Democrats are wicked, but Republicans in some ways more so, and that Donald Trump in particular is the “most degenerate man to ever sit the Oval Office”. He even preached (in Oct 2016 and Oct 2020) that it might just be well if Hillary and Biden, wicked as they are, won the elections. You can say this for him: Anderson follows the Word no matter where it takes him, and he has lost church members because of it.

Perhaps no sermon illustrates Anderson’s ability to surprise more than his defense of the illegal alien. Here are the bullet points:

  • (1) Don’t oppress the foreigner. According to the Bible, “You shall neither vex a stranger or oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21; 23:9). You should, in other words, know what it’s like to be a foreigner, because you were foreigners who came from Egypt.
  • (2) One law for everyone — alien and citizen alike. “You should have one manner of law: for the foreigner as well as for one of your own country.” (Leviticus 24:22; Exodus 12:49). Many Christians today say that foreigners shouldn’t have the same rights as American citizens. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. If cruel and unusual punishment should not be inflicted on the citizen, then it shouldn’t be inflicted on the non-citizen; if the native has the right to not be searched without a warrant, then the stranger has the same right; if the citizen has freedom of religion, then so does the foreigner; if one has the right to a speedy jury trial, so does the other. These are Biblical principles that we should institute in the United States.
  • (3) These rights come from the Creator and have nothing to do with citizenship. Even the Declaration of Independence says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Man-made laws should simply reinforce what the Creator intended.
  • (4) The illegal alien should be our role model. The illegal aliens crossed an imaginary line. Get over it. They’re not mostly violent criminals. You say, “But it’s not fair, they don’t pay taxes, and they’re not documented!” Look, we should all strive to be undocumented. Let the illegal alien be our model. It’s almost like this mentality of “since I’m a slave, everyone else should be one too”, or “if I have to have a social security number and pay all these taxes, then everyone else should suffer with me”. It’s ridiculous logic. We should all be undocumented and not be carrying around so much paper and ID.
  • (5) Illegal aliens pay taxes anyway. They may not pay federal income tax, but they pay almost every other kind of tax. They pay sales taxes; if they rent they pay property taxes indirectly; if they drive a car they pay gas tax. When they use a phone, they pay taxes on their phone bills.
  • (6) Illegal aliens are being scapegoated, when in fact they help the economy. What’s really happening is that the government is stealing our money and giving it to the bankers and the military industrial complex. Those are the real thieves. Illegal immigrants are the scapegoat as to why the economy is messed up. In reality illegal aliens help the economy. They come here and spend money, and use businesses and use services.
  • (7) The problem of welfare. There’s only thing that’s sort of a problem with the illegal immigrants is that they get some free stuff. But even that’s misleading, because no one should be getting free stuff. When you hear these Republican politicians say, “There should be a lifetime ban on illegal immigrants getting welfare,” no, here’s what we really need: a lifetime ban on anyone getting any welfare. These Republicans are just changing the issue. The problem has nothing to do with immigrants. It’s welfare, for anyone.
  • (8) Bring them all in. Now look, I do believe that those who come here should learn to speak English and assimilate to this culture, just as I would have to learn Spanish if I moved to Mexico. You don’t just demand that everyone know your language. But let me tell you something: I’m all for as many people as possible immigrating to this country. Bring them all in, I say. Jump the border, so what?
  • (9) Immigrants are not bad people, and in some ways better than Americans. You say, “But they’re bad people!” No, in some ways they’re actually better people than Americans. Do they have their own problems? Sure, but so do we. Let me tell you, whenever I went on the Spanish TV channel, and I was ripping on the homos, at least more of their viewers were actually on my side than when I went on the English-speaking TV channel. Are there criminals amongst them? Of course, but there are criminal American citizens too.
  • (10) Don’t get brainwashed, by either the left or the right. Now you say, “Pastor Anderson, you’re a flaming liberal Democrat”. Look, you need to get past the false left-right paradigm. You have to be careful that you don’t get brainwashed by either the left-wing politicians or the right-wing ones, and that you read the Bible to figure out what you believe. And on the subject of the foreigner, the stranger, the Bible is clear: God says they should be treated the same.
  • (11) Who would respect the imaginary line anyway? If you were the one living down in Mexico, and struggling to survive, what would you do? Are you really not going to cross that imaginary line? Or would you just cross it, if that’s what’s going to be the best thing for your family?

So there you have it. An argument that illegal immigrants should have the same rights as U.S. citizens — straight from the lips of that preacher who is banned from 34 countries because of his hard-core preaching against sodomites. I can’t help but love the irony of someone who is so welcoming of illegal aliens, but is not welcomed abroad in turn.

The 50th Anniversary of the Nashua Public Library

This year the Nashua Public Library will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the months of November and December. The celebration will include an exhibit of library artifacts and a slideshow of photographs in the gallery, a banner and a special anniversary edition library card, and also special displays of material from the collection that were released in 1971 — books, films, music, TV series, and events. The library’s actual anniversary is September 26 (when the dedication ceremony took place), so technically the celebration should already be under way. So I’m doing my own personal homage to the library and the year 1971. Here’s looking back at what was happening that year: books that would leave their mark, like The Exorcist; rock ‘n roll masterpieces like Zeppelin IV; the debut of All in the Family and unprecedented political incorrectness. It turns out that 1971 was a critical year in many ways — it started the ’70s in the way 1983 started the ’80s — an important year (though I wasn’t old enough to appreciate most of it) and suitable moment to open a town library. There were shifts in the cultural milieu that would have lasting impact, and here are some of the highlights.

1. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. It started with the book in ’71, even if the film pushed it into infamy two years later. Not great literature by any means (unlike the film, which was a cinematic masterpiece), but Blatty presented demonic possession like no one has done since, and never scarier.

2. All in the Family, by Normal Lear. The best TV sitcom of all time hit its peak in ’73-’74 (the excellent third and fourth seasons), but it began on that fateful January in 1971 (you can watch the full premiere here), when Archie and Mike screamed at each other about racism over a Sunday brunch. The show would keep going to the tail end of the ’70s.

3. The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. The 50th anniversary for this one has already been widely celebrated. It was a book ahead of its time, making its urgent plea for preservation and a clean environment, showing how species disappear when food runs out or pollution is left unchecked.

4. Led Zeppelin IV, by Led Zeppelin. Yeah, this one. The opening “Black Dog”, the medieval “Battle of Evermore” (my favorite), the epic “Stairway to Heaven”,  the ballad “Going to California”, and everything else… hard to believe this masterpiece has 50 years under its belt.

5. Harold and Maude, by Hal Ashby. A morbid love affair between a suicidal teen and a 79-year old woman was widely panned at the time of its release, but today it’s much more appreciated it deserves. One of the darkest comedies ever made, and a fitting start to the ’70s era of creative cinema.

6. The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula Le Guin. In the middle of writing the Earthsea Trilogy, Le Guin released this sci-fic tale of a world racked by violence and environmental catastrophe. One man’s dreams controls the fate of humanity, and a psychiatrist manipulates those dreams for his own purposes. I’m reading this now and lamenting that we don’t have writers like this anymore.

7. Hell House, by Richard Matheson. Stephen King calls it the best haunted house story of all time. Perhaps. It’s about two previous expeditions to the awful house that ended up with the investigators killed or going insane, and now a new investigation is under way.

8. The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone. It may sound strange, but this book terrified me as a kid. My mother got for me about three years after publication. Hysterical images like these petrified the shit out of me and kept me awake at night. I dreaded the monster at the end, even knowing it was just Grover. The things that scare little kids.

9. The French Connection, by William Friedkin. Known for the infamous car chase that could have gotten people killed (it was shot illegally without Friedkin getting anyone’s permission, or without even closing off the streets), the film was a landmark shot in the “induced documentary” style that put Friedkin on the map.

10. Nursery Cryme, by Genesis. Prog rock excellence from Genesis in their glory days. In the epic “Musical Box” a girl knocks her boy cousin’s head off with a croquet mallet, and his spirit returns to lust for her and assault her. In “The Fountain of Salmacis” Hermaphroditus is seduced by the nymph Salmacis and becomes fused with her. Great imagination on display here.

11. The Electric Company, by Paul Dooley. Sesame Street (launched in ’69) had pride of place when I was growing up, but The Electric Company (’71-’77) was my favorite and the reason I became a fan of Spider-Man. Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader was pretty cool too. This is his first appearance on the show.

12. Dragonquest, by Anne McCaffrey. Arguably the best of The Dragonriders of Pern trilogy, the second book involves complex storylines. In the first book Lessa traveled back in time centuries in order to bring an army forward. In this one F’nor takes on an even more suicidal flight to the Red Star to wipe out the source of Thread forever.

13. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth. Like The Exorcist, the book would be made into a successful 1973 film. It was also awarded on its strength as a novel, receiving the Best Novel Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. it’s about the assassination attempt of Charles De Gaulle, and it holds up well today.

14. A Clockwork Orange, by Stanley Kubrick. Kubric went for the jugular in adapting the 1962 novel, depicting a miserable journey through a world of decaying cities, psycho adolescents, and nightmare technologies of rehabilitative punishment. Viewers were stunned. Welcome to the ’70s.

15. The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth, by Robert Foster. Before the age of the internet and Tolkien webpages, this was my go-to book for Tolkien lore (which I acquired, I think, in either ’79 or ’80). It was as complete as I could imagine a resource for Tolkien’s world. How little I knew back then.

16. Who’s Next, by The Who. A song like “Baba O’Riley” comes along once in a blue moon, and an album like Who’s Next? even more infrequently. I’ve never been a Who fan, but I do love this album, and I could play “Baba O’Riley” any day of the week.

 

As for events, in 1971…

17. The digital age began. We don’t tend to associate the early ’70s with that, but January 1971 is when the microprocessor was invented.

18. The voting age was lowered to 18. The 2th Amendment was finally ratified, after the drafting age had been lowered to 18 during World War II. The drinking age, of course, still needs to be lowered to 18 (if not abolished altogether).

19. Charles Manson was executed. He and three of his darlings got the death penalty.

20. Disney World opened. I’ve still never been and probably will never make it.

All was not rosy, however, in 1971. Probably the worst thing that happened was…

21. The gold standard was abandoned. Nixon announced that the United States would no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, thus completely abandoning the gold standard. From 1971 onwards productivity increased as wages flatlined; Gross Domestic Product surged but the shares going to workers plummeted; house prices skyrocketed; hyperinflation increased; currencies crashed. The personal savings rate went down the toilet; incarceration rates went up by a factor of five; divorce rates shot up too, and the number of people in their late 20s living with their parents increased; the number of lawyers quadrupled.

Graphically, this is what happened in 1971, thanks to Nixon’s abandoning the gold standard (click to enlarge). The graphs come from the WTF Happened in 1971? website.

No denying that 1971 is a year to pay homage to, in more ways than one. Happy anniversary, Nashua Public Library!

The Anti-Vax Subplot of You, Season 3

You is a fair to middling series about a serial killer who sees himself as noble, tries to be a better person, and whose internal monologues are reminiscent of Dexter. In season 3 he’s married to someone who relishes killing more than he does, and at the end of the third episode comes a gratifying twist that’s hard to see as a coincidence, despite what the show writers say: she makes one of her victims an anti-vaxxer.

This happens when Joe and Love’s baby gets measles and is hospitalized for it, thanks to a couple of parents in town who refused to vaccinate their two girls. When the father, Gil, justifies himself to Love with the anti-vax rhetoric that’s become too familiar in our real world, she becomes enraged and bludgeons him with a rolling pin. Then she drags him unconscious into the “safe space” (read: torture cage) that she and Joe have prepared for their victims. When Gil comes around in the fourth episode, Joe is waiting for him inside the cage. Because Joe doesn’t want to kill anyone, except as a last resort, he tries to feel a way toward freeing Gil on the condition Gil won’t say a word about being assaulted and dumped in a rather ominous looking cage. The conclusion is foreordained (of course), and it doesn’t help that Gil holds fast to his anti-vax dogma, stupidly telling Joe how good it was for his baby boy that he got the measles from his unvaccinated girls.

Joe: Love and I are very embarrassed. Is there any chance we could keep this between us? Of course we will not tell a soul how you recklessly endangered our son —

Gil: I don’t know that I would put it like that.

Joe: No? How?

Gil: Well, it’s just — I mean, no judgment, but to dose an infant with chemicals we know nothing about? I mean, I call that reckless.

Joe: Hmm.

Gil: You know, actually your son has naturally gained immunity. So, I’d go so far as to say it was beneficial.

Joe: [knuckles cracking, staring at Gil]

Needless to say, Joe keeps him in the cage. Gil doesn’t leave it alive.

This is all a rather gratuitous way of making us cheer for anti-heroes Joe and Love, though the writers claim that the anti-vax plot-point was developed in February 2020, weeks before the Covid shutdowns. Timely and gratifying either way. While I would not cheer on a real-world serial killer, if I had to make an exception, I could conceivably carve out some open-mindedness on the subject when it comes to anti-vaxxers. Giving in to my baser instincts.

 

Squid Game: A Review in Pictures

Squid Game lives up to the hype. It’s as if Hwang Dong-hyuk watched The Hunger Games (awful) and Battle Royale (good but overpraised) and decided to really get this sort of thing right. In his survivalist drama set in South Korea, 456 players, all drowning in debt for various reasons, compete in children’s games for the prize of ₩45.6 billion (the equivalent of $38 million). If the players win, they advance to the next game. If they lose, they die: gunned down on the spot (in the case of games 1, 2, 4, and 6) or falling hundreds of feet to their death (games 3 and 5). The six games are as follows:

Game 1: Red Light, Green Light. Players stand at the end of a field behind a starting line while a female Terminator-like robot looms at the opposite end. The players must cross to the opposite side of the field, moving only when the Terminator-bitch calls out “Green Light” and stopping when she says “Red Light”. Anyone spotted moving after “Red Light” is gunned down by machine-gun fire. By the end of this game, only 201 players are still alive. That’s 255 players slaughtered — over half the players wiped out in the first game.

Game 2: Honeycomb Candy: Each player is given a tin containing a honeycomb stamped with one of four shapes he or she chose randomly at the start of the game: a circle, a triangle, a star, or an umbrella. In order to survive, each player must remove the shape — completely intact, with no breakage — from the honeycomb tin within ten minutes. Any player who fails is shot in the yard. Those who choose a circle or a triangle have an easier task than those who choose a star or (especially) an umbrella.

Game 3: Tug of War: Players are divided into teams of ten, and they face off against each other by pulling on a large braided rope. Whichever team can drag the other team across the dividing line wins, and the losers die by falling to their immediate death, as the dividing line is a chasm several hundred feet deep. For my money, this was the most intense game to watch, as the lightweight team used shrewd (and very believable) strategies to knock the stronger team off balance and send them to their graves.

Game 4: Marbles. Players are divided into “teams” of two, but it turns out they must play against each other, not together against other teams as they did in Tug of War. This is unexpected, and people are suddenly confronted with having to save their skin by deliberating beating (and thus killing) a person they have become friends with over the course of the previous games. Marbles is an open-ended game: the pair of players can agree to roll marbles into a hole, or to play “guess how many I have in my hand”, etc. This game was less thrilling and scary to watch, but it was plenty more heartbreaking. By the end of the game, only 16 players are left.

Game 5: Glass Bridge. This one is nasty — a game of blind luck with little skill. At the start, the players stands at the opposite end of a gigantic room suspended several hundred feet above the ground. Between the entrance and the exit of the room are two bridges of side-by-side glass panels, each with 18 panels across. The players must cross the bridge to the other side of the room within 16 minutes. Each of the panels between the two bridges is made of one of two types of glass: tempered glass that can withstand plenty of weight, and regular glass that will shatter when stepped on and send the player falling to their death. By the end of this game only three players are left: Seong Gi-hun (the deadbeat main protagonist), Kang Sae-byeok (the North Korean defector who needs money to rescue her family members still across the border), and Cho Sang-woo (the brilliant university student wanted by the police for stealing from his clients).

Game 6: Squid Game. The final game is played on a field separating players into opposing teams of attackers and defenders. The attackers’ goal is to cross the center on one foot and then reach the home square at the other end; the defenders’ goal is to stop them. Since there are only two players remaining by this point (Cho Sang-woo has murdered Kang Sae-byeok), it’s a one-on-one show between Seong Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo — a knife fight and brawl that’s very intense.

Here’s a review in pictures (the film is wonderfully shot) spotlighting the six games. Across nine episodes, Red Light Green Light is from the 1st, Honeycomb Candy from the 3rd, Tug of War from the 4th, Marbles from the 6th, Glass Bridge from the 7th, and Squid Game from the 9th.

Hands Across the Ocean: A Song Remade

When a band radically remakes its own song, it’s like stepping into a parallel world to hear it. I’m not talking about different mixes, which are common enough. I’m talking about an entire reconstruction, that takes the kernel idea and goes in a very different direction.

“Hands Across the Ocean” is the lead track on The Mission U.K.’s Grains of Sand album. It was a popular hit that climbed the charts back in 1990. Listen here:

🎶

Every time I think of you it’s like the last beat of my heart
The memory of leaving you is tearing me apart
No waves, no tears, no backward glance
But I’ll always hold you dear
Never regret but I’ll never forget
‘Cause there’s not enough heaven here

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean
Ocean

And every time I’m missing you I just can’t let it show
And every time I want to cry I just can’t let it go
Wine and song and masquerade and refuge holds me dear
Ribbons and lace and daisy chains
But there’s not enough heaven here

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water, reaching out for you
Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean

Bangles, beads and lipstick games
And comfort holds me dear
Velvet and lace and perfumed sheets
But there’s not enough heaven
Not enough heaven here

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water, reaching out for you
Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean

Ocean
Ocean
Ocean

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean

You’ve probably heard that plenty if you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s. But years later a remade version of the song (sometimes called the Tim Palmer version) emerged and was put on the band’s 2006 Anthology compilation. Few people know of this version. It’s not just a remix shaking things up a bit differently; it’s a whole different thing that sounds almost nothing like the original. The chorus shares the same lyrics but that’s it. The melodies and tones are new. I wonder if the band members weren’t satisfied with the original (it is kind of a cheesy top-40 piece) and decided to “un-popularize” it, by starting over from scratch, it seems. Whatever made them do it, it is a much better song. Listen here:

🎶

Hope, hope springs eternal
I am a beggar and I need all the wisdom love endows
And I, I believe
In destiny, and all that will be will come to be

Some will score, come what may
Knock if they will, and some may say
I am a dreamer, and I got my head in the clouds
Cause I, I believe
In the sanctity of the love between you and me

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean

Love is giving, knowing and forgiving
Love is you, and love is me
Love is all we ever wanted to be
Embrace this brave affection sweeping through your heart and soul
Lay your temples bare, and heed the sound of this calling call

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water, calling out for you
Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean

There is no need for fighting
There is no worth in hate
There is no call for the dogs of war
And Armageddon must wait

There’s hope in the hearts of you and me
And sins in angels and holy men
That the deaf will hear, the blind will see
And the sky will be gathered together again

Hands across the ocean
Hands across the ocean

Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water, calling out for you
Hands across the ocean, reaching out for you
Across the waves, across the water
Hands, across the ocean