Friday, April 30, 2010

Truth, Justice, & Samsara

It occurs to me that before I start posting up my reworkings of classic Villains & Vigilantes baddies, I should put up the significant changes I have made to Truth & Justice.  Otherwise, the stats aren't going to make as much sense.  Now, the suspicious, hypothetical reader may wonder why I would substantively change the rules of a game which I have have so recently extolled.  But no, that would silly, since I'm sure any imaginary peruser of this post knows the sweet, siren call of tinkering with a beloved game system to make it just right.

In order to understand these changes, you would have to be familiar with the PDQ rules as written.  Of course, if you really couldn't care less and are just waiting for me to post some Jeff Dee super-hero art, then you can safely skip to the end of this post.  Before I start on the rules-changes, I should mention that the transparency of PDQ, and the consequent ease of changing things around, is one of the bits I love about the system.

Okay, here we go.  The two central ideas of these house-rules are:
  1. Ranks become synonymous with Modifier (MOD)
  2. MOD includes even numbers as well as odd.
I consistently find the difference between Ranks (Poor->Average->Good->Expert->Master) and MOD (which goes by 2's) confusing.  I'm not saying that everyone does or should; maybe it's just me.  But it trips me up in play and that's what is most important to me.  Further, it does produce some weird artifacts to my thinking.  The weirdest to me is that although all heroes begin with a total of +6 MOD in Powers, that doesn't translate into a uniform number of Ranks of damage which can be absorbed.  Master-Man, who has just one Power at Master Rank [+6], can take five Ranks of Damage to his Powers before he's finished (Master [+6]->Expert [+4]->Good [+2]-> Average [+0]->Poor [-2].  But, the Renaissance-Man, who has six Powers at Average-Rank [+0], can take a total of six Ranks of damage to his Powers (Average [+0]->Poor [-2], six times).  Is that a big deal?  Depends, but it's not obvious until you analyze it and I don't really see an advantage to it.

So the first significant rules-change is:

1. New Ranks

[If that looks suspiciously like the spread from Marvel Super-Heroes, it's not a wild coincidence.]

2. Scale
Normal and Super-Scale don't perfectly overlap--once something drops below *Good, it is not super any more (the asterisk represents a Quality at Normal-scale).

3. Limited Ranks
Following from above, there are no Average-ranked Powers, as there are no Average-ranked Qualities.

4. Zeroing-Out
Occurs when a character actually zeroes-out; that is, when all Qualities and Powers are reduced to Average [+0]. No Qualities and Powers can be reduced below Average through conflict (the Poor and Feeble Ranks are only for purposes of Stunting).

[These three Rules all develop from one another.  They come from my second continual confusion: although losing a conflict in PDQ is called "zeroing-out" it actually occurs when all Qualities have been reduced to less than 0 and then taking one additional hit.]

5. Fight
Every character has a Fight score. This is just the number of Ranks of damage he can take before zeroing-out. It's not so much a new stat as just formalizing and recording something implicit in the rules. Fight gives you a rough idea of how tough someone is. Most characters have 16 Fight (see No. 6 below), although the Intense Training Power can grant more (see No. 9 below).

[Once I realized that not all characters can absorb the same number of Ranks of Damage, I decided that it would handy to be able to assess a character's relative toughness at a glance.  Fight ends up being something a bit like Hit Dice in Ye Auld Game: not an absolute measure of ability, but a good summary.

I waffled for a while on the name of this stat, with "Toughness" and "Resilience" as leading contenders for a while.  But in a game that uses slangy terminology like "zero-out" and "being badass", I thought they were a bit too formal.  Plus, I liked the idea of saying that someone "had all the fight knocked out of him".]

6. Character Generation
Characters begins with 10 Ranks (i.e. points of MOD) in Qualities and 6 Ranks in Powers. Remember from No. 3 above that the minimum Rank for a Quality or Power is Good [+1]

7. Weaknesses
Every character must have one Weakness, though he can have more.  Weaknesses have two effects:
  • Modify Dice: If dice are rolling and the Weakness applies, you have a functional total MOD of Weak [-2]. You also get 1 Hero Point.
  • Modify Behaviour: If the GM thinks your Weakness would make you act differently, he may offer 1 Hero Point to change your behaviour. The player may decline. If the GM accepts that, then the player has to pay 1 Hero Point to exercise control. If GM wants though, he can up the ante by offering 2 Hero Points. The player may decline and GM must accept that, although player then must pay 2 Hero Points.
[And if that looks suspiciously like FATE, it's no wild coincidence.  I wanted to give players a reason to choose more widely applicable Weaknesses and FATE taught me that the Hero Point economy is the way to do it.  If the player doesn't want to have his Weakness bother him, he can pick something obscure like "Hates Star Trek"  The trade-off is that he has reduced one of the sources of Hero Points.]
    8. Vulnerabilities
    Vulnerabilities do not cost Ranks, but can be assigned any Rank desired. The higher the Rank chosen, the greater the effect and the greater the Hero Point award, which equals the Rank of the Vulnerability.

    [Oddly and unlike Weaknesses, the rules as written do recognize Vulnerabilities as sources of Hero Points, but make the character pay for the privilege by using precious Ranks of Powers.  I didn't care for that.  Thinking purely economically (which many players do) a Vulnerability is an awfully expensive source of Hero Points that way.]

    9. Intense Training
    Each Rank in Intense Training is exchanged for 2 Ranks in Qualities. So someone who uses all 6 Power ranks in Intense Training gets 12 additional Ranks in Qualities. Note that this increases Fight score.

    [The number of Ranks of Qualities granted by Intense Training was one of the first controversies I got involved in concerning T&J.  The rules as written actually create a situation where there are more and less efficient character-builds (shudder) due to that artifact of Ranks not equaling MOD.  To me, that's just entirely antithetical to the whole spirit of the game and this rule eliminates it.]

    10. Spending Hero Points
    An Upshift costs 1 Hero Point per Rank.

    [Just because it costs 2 points as written per Rank which means 2 points per +2 MOD.  So this just keeps the same scale and has the virtue of being easier to remember.]

    11. Upshifts Beyond +6
    Upshifting a MOD from +6 results in +1D+6. The additional die is rolled but only the highest two are retained. Additional Upshifts add more D6, but only the highest two are ever used.

    [I find the PDQ rule that each Upshift beyond +6 adds another die to keep, really out of scale with the game.  It also means that it is substantially more effective to Upshift a +6 Quality than any other and the benefits keep accruing.  This new Rule means that there is a bit of diminishing return to piling on Upshifts which I prefer and keeps the result of the rolls all in scale.]

    12. Spin-Off Stunts
    Using a Power or Monstrous-rank Quality in a related but not clear-cut way i.e. expanding the penumbra of the Power/Quality. This includes using Offensive Powers for Defense and using Defensive Powers for Offensive. You can try it for free at -4 MOD from the base power or spend Hero Points for Upshifts.

    [If you spot a trend toward consistency in these rules, it's not a wild coincidence. I'm not one of the old-schoolers who enjoys multiple, different systems for things.  That's partly philosophical and partly because I can't be bothered to learn that many rules.  Using offensive powers for defense (or the inverse) is a great touch in T&J and reminds me of one of the things I most loved about Villains & Vigilantes: virtually any power could be used for defensive purposes, even ones like Power Blast, although some powers (Force Field) were obviously more effective than others (Adaptation).  V&V handled that with an ad hoc matrix, while T&J has a perfectly wonderful system to do it with stunting.  Except that the rules as written don't use stunting for this purpose and make a new system just for this.  Lazy me no like and changed.]

    13. Signature Stunt
    A Signature Stunt is a Spin-Off Stunt which you have done so many times that you have mastered it. It costs 1 Hero Point to use, but you perform at your base Power's MOD. In effect, you have permanently expanded the penumbra of your power for a minimal cost per use.

    [Again about uniformity.  The game already has a system for doing something super-cool in the form of Upshifting via Hero Points and doesn't need a second.  Plus, the Rank/MOD inequality produces another weird artifact wherein it only really makes sense to Signature Stunt Powers at +6.  It effectively acts as a very cheap method to boost already high-ranked Powers without doing anything for lower-ranked powers.  This then plays into my issues with Upshifts (see No. 11 above)]

    14. Shifting Stunt
    This is a sort of middle ground between expanding the penumbra (Spin-Off Stunt) and improving an existing Power (Upshift). It functions mostly as described under "Shifty Business" on p. 55 of the T&J Book.  A Shifting Stunt costs a flat 1 Hero Point and allows you to effectively Downshift one aspect of the Power while Upshifting another Aspect by a like amount. You may spend Hero Points to Upshift the Base Power before applying a Shifting Stunt.

    [If you've been reading reading these commentaries so far, then I suspect that you already know why I changed this.]

    15. Scale and Intensity
    When helpful, Scale is applied to the Intensity Chart. Two common occurrences would be Weight (for lifting things) and Durability (for breaking things). Super-scale Ranks are denoted with an asterisk.

    Lifting/Breaking something whose intensity is lower ranked than the one’s strength is an automatic action, unless conditions are applying Downshifts.

    Lifting/Breaking something whose intensity is of equal or 1 Rank higher than one’s strength is a Complicated roll: roll 2D + relevant modifiers against the object’s TN.

    A character can not lift/break something more than 1 rank greater in weight than his strength, except through the use of Hero Points.

    [If this chart looks suspiciously like the one's from Marvel Super-Heroes...well, you know.  The PDQ Intensity Chart is just fine for normal-scale games, but in a game that uses super-scale so much, it seemed helpful to have a super-scale chart.  Plus, you know, this let's you play the "Who is Stronger: Hulk or Thing" game.]

    16. Goons
    The faceless mob of gangsters, soldiers, etc. They have 1 Quality: Good [+1] Goon. This means that they can be taken out by any successful attack. Super-scaled and Monstrous-Rank normal-scaled attacks upon Goons are Conflicts with each Damage Rank given taking out 1 Goon. This replaces the usual rule about Multiple Attacks (which only applies to better-than-Goons) meaning that the attacker need not take any Downshifts to fight a Goons Squad.

    Goons can still team up on Heroes, though, so a horde of Goons can still be potentially dangerous. However, no more than 4 Goons can effectively fight one opponent at a time, so the highest MOD they can have to their attack roll is +4.   Additional Goons form a separate Goon Squad for attacking purposes.

    [Consistency again, plus trouble conceptualizing how T&J would accurately handle Spider-Man plunging into a mess of thugs and knocking out three or four at a go.  The suggested method, making the fight a Complex situation and resolving it straight up or down seemed oddly undramatic to me.]

    OK, there we go.  A nicely formatted version of these rules is available at the old website if anyone wants them.  Next issue: the Trotsky of Iron Men, the Fabulous F.I.S.T.!

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Villains, Vigilantes, & Samsara

    As I mentioned some time ago, the gaming portion of my brain has really been gravitating towards super-heroes lately.  Perhaps it's a juvenile male power-fantasy about never getting pneumonia or throwing out my back.  Whatever the cause, I've really been fired up about the spandex-crowd, which is thematically about as different from Under the Dying Sun as something can be.  But that's mental balance.  Or something.

    The first rpg I ever played was D&D, specifically the Holmes edition of 1978.  Sometime thereafter, my group advanced to Advanced.  So, depending upon whether you count AD&D as a separate game, either the second or third rpg I ever played was Villains & Vigilantes.

    Until my friend Patrick held up that box with the Jeff Dee cover, I had literally never considered the possibility of a super-hero rpg.  But looking at that, I wanted to play (I was particularly curious about that Hornet-Man; was he the Hero or the Villain?).  I have fond memories of V&V, but I never actually liked the game itself.  I never felt comfortable enough to run a game beyond a fight or two.  The rules just never gelled in my mind.  I recall being distinctly bugged that I couldn't tell how strong someone was by looking at his Strength score; instead, STR was only one factor in Lifting Capacity and a character's mass was more important.  Since I was a scrawny little guy, I was annoyed about that.  Overall, there was a general haze of what would now be called "clunkiness", although I wouldn't have used that term at the time. 

    But that said, what V&V lacked in the rules area, it made up from in style.  Style, of course, is that most mysterious and insubstantial of qualities.  Fred Astaire, for instance, could wear a patterned tied with a patterned shirt under a pattered jacket and look grand; I daresay the rest of us would look like rejects from a Clown College in that get-up.  Nevertheless, I can say with some assurance that the two major reasons for that game's style were art and characters.

    I've already touched upon Jeff Dee's art.  Dee was one of the golden age greats, of course.  Looking at his illustration of a tough Halfling in the D&D Expert book was the first time I ever considered the possibility of a Halfling who wasn't a little Bagginses.

    And his rendering of Osiris in the Deities & Demigods book is still what pops into my head when that deific name is mentioned.

    But whatever his D&D creds, as that last picture shows, Dee's illustrative heart lay with super-heroes and he was never better than when depicting the superpowers-set.  This picture of Manta-Man, the leader of the Crusaders, just about defined awesome for me in the early 80's.  Indeed, I copied that distinctive mask-design--evoking Bat-Man but with it's own flavour--for many (too many really) of my own characters.  Since I'm not an artist, I would pretty much just describe my guy's costume as "You remember Manta-Man?  That pointy mask?  It's like that."

    The other strength of V&V were the genuinely  unique and downright quirky villains.  Good villains are the meat and potatoes of a supers-game; nothing induces player apathy like, "Oh look!  It's that big, strong guy.  Wuzzisname."  Dee and co-creator Jack Herman must have known that; how else to account for the Amazing Floop Brothers? 


    Yes, the Amazing Floop Brothers: a bunch of no-good orphans who somehow became super-villains, with names like Captain Floop, Blastin' Butch, and the Whippet (who acquired the legs of a greyhound and then made a helmet to match). They were joined in their nefarious endeavors by some others, such as the wonderfully named Rocket Ma'am.

    OK, they weren't all as goofy as that, but they were almost always interesting.  One thing that I have noticed about more recent super-hero games is that they tend toward the archetype: the Brick, the Mentalist, the Power-Armour Guy.  This is due, at least in large part, to the point-buy method of creation that is so prevalent.  It's hard for some one to come up with the Whippet when using archetypes (for the record, Carl Floopinski's dog legs let him run fast, but his brother Capt. Floop somehow secured Ice Blasters for him!).  V&V's wild spirit of random player-character creation seemed to rub off on the creation of the bad-guys.  I don't have any idea whether or not the Floop Bros. were actually created by random-roll or not, but they sure seem like it.

    All of the above leads me to my next series: revisiting some of my favourite V&V villains.  But rather than just post thirty year old stats, I am going to use the classic characters to create new versions for my Truth & Justice game.  I have a few already done which I'll post soon and then I'll post more as and when the spirit of Dee and Herman moves me.

    So stay tuned, true believer!  Or I'll have to send Shadarkos after you!

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Thought Experiment: One-Roll Combat Resolution in Ye Auld Game

    I really have no idea when I first encountered the idea of having the quality of the Combat or "To Hit" roll establish the damage inflicted.  I don't think I saw the idea during my first gaming period (1981-1990), so it must have been sometime after my return (2004).  Of course, many gamers had long felt that the quality of the roll ought to matter...somehow.  The most common reaction became the multifarious "critical hit" mechanics, but that is really only a half-step (if that).

    Whatever the first such implementation, the game-system that has most impressed me in this regard is the Prose Descriptive Qualities (PDQ) system by Chad Underkoffler.  I recently wrote about my regard for the game Truth & Justice (which uses PDQ) and how it helped me to understand the abstract nature of D&D combat.  Combat (indeed, any sort of conflict) in PDQ is handled by having the participants roll 2D6+ relevant modifiers and comparing the result.  If the attacker has the higher roll, he inflicts damage equal to the amount by which he exceeded the defense roll.  If the attacker rolls 10 and the defender rolls 7, then the attackers inflicts 3 ranks of damage.  Very clean.

    Now there really isn't any "Rule of Ideal Game Design" requiring the quality of the one to affect the other.  It's perfectly reasonable to have a mechanic such as D&D's, saying that the first roll simply establishes whether or not damage accrues and that the Damage Roll independently determines the amount.  This is absolutely fine game design.  No, the problem isn't one of design, but of psychology.  I have never yet seen a player, told that he has to roll better than "9", roll an "18" and not excitedly point at a miniature, the dice, or a pizza slice, shouting, "Oh yeah!  Nailed 'im!"  And I have never yet seen a player in that same situation who, upon rolling a "1" for damage, not look rather murderously at the Referee.

    Thus, I have been idly playing with the idea that the Combat Roll is the major determinant of the damage inflicted.  Whether this is actually a good idea or not, I'll leave to your judgment, o discerning reader.  I'm just conducting a Gedankenexperiment here.

    First, it's obvious that I can't just swipe the PDQ method without entirely rewriting the combat system.  That might be great and may be the subject of another experiment, but that's not what I'm going for here.  So, no opposed rolls. 

    Second, as my loyal, imaginary readers know, Spellcraft & Swordplay is my D&D game of choice right now.  This game works on the premise that the default, Chainmail combat system of 2D6 is never replaced by the "Alternate Combat System" using the D20.  This significantly affects the experiment's applicability to most iterations of the game.  But it also suggests something nifty to me.

    One quirk of S&S is that almost all rolls are made by trying to get 11+ on 2D6.  But not combat.  Combat works by cross-referencing weapon type to armour class to determine a target number.  Of course, non-amnesiac readers will recall my heroic battles with the Combat Matrix to come up with a preferred version.  And, as it ended up, I decided that it was easier to drop the idea of having the matrix determine the target number and instead determine a modifier with the target number standardized at 11+ (like everything else).

    What a happy occurrence!  Because it immediately suggests a mechanic: let the number in the one's place determine damage.  A roll of "11" does 1 point of damage; a roll of "18" does 8.  I like that.  It's dead-easy to remember and it means that the more skilled warriors do more damage, whether they have a +9 Sword of Bad-Asssery or just a pruning knife.  That definitely fits in with the abstract nature of Hit Points and combat in general.

    Now it gets a little bit more complicated.  S&S dispenses with differing weapons doing differing ranges of damage: everything is 1D6.  Differences among weapons are handled by how they interact with the various armour classes.  Up to a point.  Because that same psychology that inspired this post--the one that wants the quality of the combat roll to affect the damage--also wants to see some difference in damage between a dagger and a claymore.  In a variable weapon system, that's easily handled, but not in this experiment.  

    Hmn, I suppose the easiest (if not cleverest) thing would be to give a damage bonus to large or two-handed weapons (say +2) and a subtraction to small weapons (say -2).


    So, we roll 2D6+modifiers and, if we get a two-digit result, the one's digit tells us how much damage we do, as modified then by weapon size, strength bonus, magical bonus, etc.


    Well, it's an interesting idea anyway.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Rogue's Gallery by Hanna-Barbera

    I've been watching a lot of the classic Hanna-Barbera adventure shows from the late 60's lately with my kids. My 3 year old son really likes Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids, although we are at logger-heads over which is which (I take the mainstream view that Gleep is the little one, while he firmly supports the contrarian position that Gloop is the little one. But he's 3, so what does he know. Punk).

    My son also heartily supports Bird-Man, largely because that hero believes in shouting out his own name at every opportunity.

    My 6 year old daughter, meanwhile, lifts a very critical brow towards Space Ghost. She notes that Jan and Jayce are totally useless and always get captured; that Space Ghost will, at some point in the episode, bemoan his lack of Power Bands, without which he is just some loser in tights; and that Blip is consistently the most effective member of the team (she's such a smart-ass and I love it).

    Finally, my wife notes that the plots of these shows are rather thin. She's missing the point: the point of these shows is not the narrative; it's ROBOTS and ALIENS and, preferably, ALIEN ROBOTS fighting ROBOT ALIENS. The designs of the Rube Goldberg weapons and vehicles are awesome. Awesome.

    The other night, for example, we saw Mekkano the Machine Master. Mekkano has a remote control space ship that breaks him out of space jail by using a super hi-tech mace. With spikes. But it's an electro-spashers so that's cool.

    Anyway, the point is that there are some fantastic-looking science fantasy villains just waiting to be used here. Indeed, in writing the post, I discovered that someone actually statted up Mekkano for Ye Auld Game. The Mekko-Trackers seem a bit tougher than I woudl have statted them, but still.

    I'm thinking about making a HB science-fantasy villains recurring feature here.

    Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to type "Electro-Smasher".

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Spring Cleaning

    Alert, imaginary readers will note that I've changed the look of the place.  As much as I liked that blue background, it didn't really scream DYING SUN to me.

    Fever-Adled Thoughts on Old-School and Indie Gaming

    Here's a lesson kids: pneumonia is a bitch.  And that's one to grow on.

    I am mostly better now after 3 weeks of this darn thing.  My brain is unfortunately still pretty sluggish, but it hasn't entirely given up on gaming yet.  Those gaming thoughts have been pretty scattered, so forgive me if what follows seems a bit confusing.

    Right before I was stricken, I was noticing (and to some degree participating in) the excitement over Steve Kenson's impending super-hero game, ICONS.  There was a torrent of enthusiasm over at  And I share some of it.  I have a great regard for Kenson's skills, particularly when it comes to super-heroes.  I think that the original Mutants & Masterminds was a pretty darn good piece of design, even if it's a bit too cumbersome for me to play (the Second Edition, unfortunately, is even more cumbersome).  Yet, I have a number of products for that game because they are almost uniformly good whether you use the system or not.  And that is largely due to Kenson's enthusiasm for his topic.  You can actually feel his love for super-heroes whenever he writes about them.

    That's the first point of contact with Old-School gaming.  Even though M&M isn't much like D&D and even though Kenson doesn't write like St. Gary, both of them are a pleasure to read because of their enthusiasm.  You can tell that they both loved what they were writing about and both of them actually wanted to play their games.  I won't say that old-school is anti-commercial--that would be a bit silly--but I would say that one of the hallmarks of old-school thinking is that gaming is, you know--fun--and we want to do it.

    Thinking about ICONS led me back to what has been my favourite supers game for some time now: Chad Underkoffler's Truth & Justice.  T&J is a product of the indie movement whose patron saint is Ron Edwards and which has a generally nasty relationship with Ye Auld Game.  The indie movement is associated with hating many of the hallmarks of old-school D&D: anti-leveling up, pro-story, and so on.  But T&J, aside from being a great supers-game, is also the game that made clear to me how much indie gaming has in common with old-school gaming.

    For example, I only really understood the abstract nature of D&D combat once I got T&J's abstract combat.  Gaming Theory lacked the language to express this back in the day and, as with many things in those days, players were rather assumed to know how things worked without being told.  Of course Hit Points  are abstract!  Nobody can just ignore scores of arrows sticking out of their chest.  They are a measurement of how long you can participate in a battle and they go up as you get better.  You aren't learning how to become super-human; you're learning how to better dodge, parry, and stay the hell out of the way.  Of course armour doesn't make you harder to hit!  What it does it make it harder for you to be injured by the sharp end of pointed stick.  Of course combat is abstract!  Each round takes sixty whole seconds.  Lots and lots of things are happening--swings, jabs, feints, dodges--and therefore you can't literally be swinging your sword once and rolling to see if it hits.  The whole thing is not task-resolution; it's bloody conflict-resolution before anybody knew how to express it.

    As we all know, that lack of terminology was unfortunate and the assumption that people already knew how to play wasn't a terribly successful design strategy.  It led to people quickly trying to "fix" the game.  Look at the much-beloved J. Eric Holmes edition from 1977.  It's easy to miss it, but he "fixed" combat so that each round takes five seconds rather than sixty.  That totally changes the abstraction; five seconds really is one swing and thus we move from conflict-resolution to task-resolution.  Recall the endless, excruciating debates in the pages of Dragon Magazine about how falling damage is unrealistic because high-level characters can throw themselves off of cliffs and walk away.  Indeed, think of any of the "unrealistic" arguments from the reality-obssessed 1980's.

    And I, for one, was right in there.  I gave up Ye Auld Game for all those reasons.  It was unrealistic and horribly broken (although I didn't know that term back then).  Which brings me back to Truth & Justice and indie games.  Here I was reading a game wherein Spider-Man is routinely punched in the girlfriend.  And I got it.  Abstract combat, conflict resolution, and the primacy of making rulings rather than consulting the rules.  It made me look back at Ye Auld Game in an entirely new way.

    At the same time, it made me realize that the indie games were not fighting old-school gaming. They were fighting the new-school: the school of gaming philosophy that began in the simulationist, more-rules-equals-more-reality Eighties, and for which the endless lists of Feats from edition 3.141 serve as convoluted poster-children.  For me, indie gaming runs hand-in-hand with old-school gaming and I freely swipe ideas from one for the other.  I hope that others in this little Renaissance are willing to look at these other games.  Not only are they good, but they allow us to avoid the ludic myopia of which we are not infrequently accused.

    And that's one to grow on, too.