Thursday, May 31, 2018

Q&A Week 5

32 What are the most commonly seen power levels and how rare are the high levels?

Among dreamkeepers who unlock their ability, beginning at a power of Level 2 is most common, and Level 6 is the most rare.   Most 'keepers that begin at level 2 can eventually train and end up with a Level 3 power, so Levels 2 and 3 are the most common.    I'd say level 4 powers are maybe one in ten, level 5one in a thousand, and level 6 one in a hundred thousand.

29 Are you guys comfortable having a sexually open and addictive audience like the one you have now? Does it freak you out sometimes?

Fanart doesn't bother us, whether it's adult or not.  There's plenty of Batman porn floating out there, too, but I wouldn't call Batman fans 'sexually addictive.' Once anything gains a significant following, rule 34 applies.  Especially if the characters are charismatic and, whether through appearance or personality or both, hold some level of attraction.  Policing people's private enjoyment isn't our job, so we don't feel the need to endorse or denounce fanfiction and fanart.  It's separate from what we create, but also an indicator of relevance.  We consider it best to take it as a compliment.

27 Is Lilith's power able to restore Igrath's eyes?

This question is skirting the edge of Plot Vault, simply because it could potentially involve things not yet covered in the story.  But I think we can give at least a basic answer, to explain the limitations of Lilith's power.  She can initiate growth and healing in damaged tissues, but she cannot generate entire organs and limbs from nothing.  Even if it's heavily damaged, there has to be something there to be healed.

24 What kind of training to the CCA shock troopers go through? Tough training like USMC MCRD? Or simple law enforcement like the police

Shock troopers go through a rigorous boot camp to train for a range of basic skills before they're officially instated.  Springer use, fire and movement, squad tactics, hostage rescue, that sort of thing.  This is on top of classroom and academic training on protocol, chain of command, and legal matters.   Officers selected for the training program will be training in boot camp for 3 months (with some leave days) before being certified as entry level shock troopers. 
Training continues throughout their career.  Shock troopers are 'on call' for a week at a time, and sleep at the local HQ.  Then they have a week rotated out of active service, where they spend time with family.  Their off-weeks are also used to take elective and mandatory training courses to upgrade, specialize, and maintain their skills.

22 What kind of picture do you enjoy drawing the most?

I think my favorites have become those that mix some characters in action with an immersive environment.  One of the major features of Dreamkeepers is the thriving fantasy world- so getting a fun emotive character moment, or spot of action, within a fascinating context, makes everything that much more engaging to me.  Especially when lighting comes into play. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Inherent Limitations of Free Speech and Expressions of Guilt

Thank you to my friends for their help in shaping and improving the thoughts below.

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Prior to posting my 'Nazi Prevention' article, I made a prediction:

That Dogpatch Press editorial staff would maliciously poison the well, and that their readership would be rabidly unreasonable. 
I've seen several good things occur post-article, and the one which makes me happiest is being proven wrong about the Dogpatch readership. True that a handful resorted to party-line insults, but a plethora of reasonable people came forward, to agree and disagree, in good faith. Most of them only felt comfortable doing so through private channels. This is a fact which stands out in my mind.
The best public response I could find was by Darkend, a talented editor at Sofawolf press. Rather than resorting to ad-hominem, he focused on well-reasoned disagreement directed at the ideas we presented. He was considerate enough to post his thoughts as a journal, and I would encourage everyone to read it. (links at the bottom.)
The community is currently riven with fear and loathing. I'm hopeful that placing emphasis on thoughtful good-will interactions can improve things. So to that end, please express appreciation to Darkend for being willing to speak, and I hope he'll be open to reading if I clarify some of my positions.
Brevity was among my primary concerns in the initial article, which led to me excluding... Well, everything in existence outside of those 2,000 words. That has opened the door to some misinterpretations, which I'd be pleased to address.  One interesting, and one troubling.


Darkend believes that the article "fetishizes" free speech, to the exclusion of all other values, considerations, and consequences. 
I think he's entirely correct that elevating one value above all others, and using that abstraction to subordinate everything, is a bad idea. In fact, such thinking often constitutes the very worst ideas, manifesting as totalitarian ideologies. 
Conceptual systems like these can be identified by their tendency to have one utopian solution for every problem. For Nazis, the solution was ethnic homogeneity. For Stalinists, forced equality of economic outcomes. Others enshrine the idea of free markets, or individual responsibility, or diversity. When totalizing systems are imposed fully scaled and uncompromised upon reality, they degenerate quickly into hellish suffering.
Simple solutions are tempting in a complicated world- in fact, they are necessary.  None of us are capable of fully comprehending the complexity.  Abstractions are an a-priori requirement for making value judgments and decisions.
On an individual level, I think it's healthy to have a handful of different lenses, and more so on a macroscopic social level.
For whatever harm a misguided individual may inflict with their totalitarian obsessions, an entire society can magnify it. And virtually everyone wants to avoid that. In fact, I think we have a common desire:

The minimization of unnecessary human suffering.

So far, it appears that individual rights and freedoms have served that end better than any previous system of concepts. Partially because free speech helps uncover and defuse bad ideas early. Which is why the next perception of Darkend's was troubling to me.
His perception of free speech entailed no philosophically inherent limitations, up to and including stabbing a political opponent in the throat (or punching them in the face.) Blurring the line between speech and murder is dangerous, and for that reason I think it's worthwhile to briefly reiterate what I think most people mean when they are talking about free speech:

Free speech is a mechanism by which the interaction of a diversity of ideas is facilitated.

Information is exchanged, reasoning examined, and suppositions assessed. Using open inquiry to identify bad ideas provides intellectual immunizations that can be shared with those who may be susceptible. Good ideas can be identified and likewise shared.
Conceptualizing free speech in this manner introduces immediate and obvious inherent limitations. Murder and physical violence are used to suppress ideas, not engage with them. Though it may be expressive, throat-stabbing a political opponent is clearly not covered under this definition of free speech. Neither is shouting down a lecturer with obscenities, destroying Berkeley with a riot, pulling fire alarms during speeches, or bringing airhorns into the classroom. Violence, aggression, mislabeling, and bad-faith tactics all obstruct the beneficial mechanics of free speech.
Because this definition provides explicit boundaries and substance to the idea of free speech, I find it more useful, and it's generally what I have in mind. That's why I agree with Darkend when he points out,

"The purpose of some forms of speech, specifically harassment and intimidation, are designed to suppress the speech of others. It's a way to say, 'If you speak up, you'll be next.'" 

I spoke up with my article. Subsequently I received a small but implacable contingent of furries mislabeling me as a Nazi, Nazi sympathizer, and advocating for my ostracization, as publicly as they possibly could.
Observers might class such behavior as harassment and intimidation.  Those same observers do not want to be next.
I believe that is why the majority of thoughtful responses to my article are being shared with me in private. People are afraid.
And I'm not talking about white supremacists. Pro-LGBT conservatives, libertarians, egalitarians, liberals- they are afraid to speak up, because they know what will happen. They might just get called a Nazi and be banned forever.
Is there persecution being conducted along party lines?
I don't know.  Politics has gotten so ugly it seems defined now by deception. False flags and misinformation are the norm.

But I do know a few facts.

I have been accused, publicly and repeatedly, of being a Nazi and a Nazi sympathizer. These accusations are categorically false, and often attached to coy ultimatums, hints that obedience might end the abuse.
I have clarified my position calmly, publicly, and truthfully. Such clarifications are rejected out of hand. It is made clear that only capitulation will suffice. 
I also know for a fact that I am not the only person who has been falsely and maliciously labeled a Nazi or sympathizer. These labels are used by a small and unhappy group within the community as moral justification to act on their feelings of hatred and to exercise social power. Which brings us to another good point that was shared by Darkend. 

"Loosely defined laws restricting speech are almost always turned into tools to oppress minorities."

I believe he meant 'minorities' here to refer to the birth characteristics of an individual, but his point holds true even for literal numeric minorities of people. Even for subdued majorities.
My personal experiences above lead me to assess similar anecdotes with credence. And while I'm grateful that I can simply shrug off the lies and social pressure, those who are less established are often not so fortunate.
Darkend touched on some additional points that merit brief mention.

1) FA isn't the government and as such is largely free to choose who they do and do not wish to host. This isn't anyone's free speech issue.
2) "Exluding (sic) the speech of people will only turn them into nazis" is the abuser's "Look what you made me do!"

He's correct on point one- private platforms are free to make their own rules, and fair moderation is necessary to maintain a healthy functioning atmosphere.  But it is possible for corporations to infringe on individual rights, and by some accounts, that appears to be happening. 
The second point, I'm not sure how Darkend equates a cause-effect observation to an assignment of guilt. Acknowledging incentives and results doesn't inherently require a scapegoat.
However, seeing this objection appear repeatedly on twitter makes it appear salient. It is being used as a justification for the moral rectitude of social purges, and indicates preoccupation with blame. 
Perhaps it means that people feel guilt, and are eager to redirect it.

What's the truth, and what's spin?  I don't know for sure.
I'm not advocating for or against AltFurry. I'm not particularly keyed in to the politics of the furry community, and I'm not certain what any of these groups actually stand for, so any endorsement- or denouncement- would be hollow. I tend to be quite detached, scribbling away at drawings rather than reading furry news or tuning in to the latest gossip. But when that gossip is resulting in mass expulsions predicated on group affiliation... Well, when an oblivious chap like me can see that things are getting bad, they must be very bad indeed.
I'm hoping that examination and consideration might help us start fixing things together. I would like to thank Darkend for sharing his thoughts, and hope that he finds my response agreeable.

Readers may be interested in digesting more points of view. Below is the original Dogpatch Article I submitted, with the thoughts and feelings of their editorial staff. In the following days QuQu-media posted an article, and 2-Gryphon posted a video which deal with the same subject matter. Also below is a link to redacted screencaps of some of the private notes we received and Darkend's journal.

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Initial Dogpatch Press article and Staff Commentary "The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope"

Darkend’s Journal response:

QuQu-Media "Why political extremism within the furry fandom should deeply concern you."

2-Gryphon "Bird Bawks- Altfurry"

Redacted private commentary:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Operatic lolsuits, podcasts locked in mortal combat, and forgotten in the chaos, a simple question remains.  Did Maddox create the BEST COMIC IN THE UNIVERSE?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Q&A Week 4

47 How much of the population makes use of their powers in secret, similar to Bobby?
Powers "abuse" occurs often enough that the issue stays relevant in the public mind.  At least once a year there will be a highly publicized crime that results in injuries or deaths, followed by a trial and banishment if the culprit is taken into custody alive. 

But the number of criminals using their powers on a regular basis to inflict harm on one another is relatively tiny- ballpark maybe 0.5-2%. 

However, the total number of people who use their powers discreetly is much higher- possibly up around 12%.

Powers use is strictly forbidden by law- which means law abiding citizens won't do it unless they're certain it's not causing harm, and they can get away with it.

So, in isolation and for various reasons, not often but very occasionally, some members of the population tap into their power.  A greater number than most would imagine.  Wouldn't you? 

38 Are there any other cities or dreamkeepers communities out there that Anduruna trades with?
Yes.  This is slightly Plot Vaulty, but I think we can get into it a bit.

During the Toll Wars, a significant portion of Anduruna left the city, illegally, to found their own settlement in the northern dunes.  To this day they are referred to as 'bandits' and it is illegal to do trade with them.

So people trade with them illegally. 

Margate and Talocan are among the primary locations for this illicit trade.  Ships are disguised as local vessels, officials are bribed, and at this point trade with the 'bandits' is virtually an open secret.  Law enforcement has their hands full with other concerns- and if they know somebody is breaking the trade laws, it provides them with a ready-made reason to conduct a raid any time they may choose.

36 What are the Powers of the Troika members?
I'll list some that have already been revealed in the GNS.
Igrath:  His wings generate energy shields that turn them into superpowered barriers, and also devastating blunt weapons. 
Vi: She can generate vortices.  It's easiest to do so in a medium like air, hurling dust devils and hurricane blasts to and fro.
Karo:  His four wings can generate and discharge lightning bolts.
Rumour:  If he touches something, he can generate a portal and reach back to retrieve it, on the condition that the item is still where he left it.
Indigos:  They can change their colors at will, having the same body pattern but inverse coloration to one another.  And, when they use their power at a higher level of intensity, one of their body colors glows, creating a protective energy barrier which provides a buffer to damage.  The catch is, whatever region is protected on one of them is vulnerable on the other.
As of now, the rest of the Troika are still huddling in the Plot Vault.

30 Aside from Ryuu-nekos, what other domesticated or exotic animals do Andurunans keep in their homes?
We depicted a little yappy fluffy thing in Volume 3... But didn't name it.  So, whatever those furballs are. Some of the background critters, like owlbats or butterfly mantids, could make for pets.  Transcopis slobs are probably the worst of all possible pets, I think those are generally considered more an animal that is used to suck scum off industrial pylons and aqueduct pilings. 

So, short but comprehensive answer:  I think there are many potential creatures and companions that Andurunans may have as pets, but we haven't depicted or formulated much beyond ryuu-nekos. 

21 Do the orphans see each other as brothers and sisters or at least a sort of family?
They would never admit it, but I think yes.   None of them fit in the best at school, one another is pretty much all they've got.
Gorse sees everyone as a dynamic duo.

Upgraded Ursa Major Logo

In light of winning a few, we spruced up the Ursa Major Awards logo.  Voila!

I believe Geo submitted the original image file to the Ursa Major Award administrators, so it should be available to all award winners going forward.  I couldn't resist adding a bit of pizzazz, I hope it comes in handy to present and future winners.

Congratulations again to Geo- interested readers can check out Wayward Astronomer and the Dreamkeepers Saga here:

The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope

We've received numerous requests for a version of our article without the interjections of Dogpatch Press editorial staff. It is presented below. Readers are encouraged to browse the original article as platformed by Dogpatch on the Dogpatch Press website, and to provide due credit to them for initially publishing the article.  Our thanks to Dogpatch press and to the readers who took an interest in our thoughts.

 By David Lillie.  
Thanks to @Boneitis and  @kaze_the_wyvern  for providing constructive feedback and advice.

You may be reading this to check whether it's okay to continue hating me.  Let's cut to the chase and give that a simple yes.
I create the best comic I'm capable of rendering; but I also drew Milo as a snow leopard, and occasionally shake my head at the firestorm it caused.  Since I still think it was funny, your hatred is socially acceptable.  Including acceptable by me. I'm not holding it against you. It's just how you feel.
So we've covered the hatred question, but you may still be curious about why I changed my opinion regarding Nazis in the furry community. Especially if you think Nazis are a problem. Because I agree with you, and previously I did not.
(Any Nazis reading this just began considering whether they, too, should hate me.)
We've established I'm not writing this article in the hopes of reducing the number of people on twitter hostile towards me. So why would I change my mind, if personal social approval is off the table? 
To establish a starting point, let's examine a common question about the Milo fursona.

"What were you thinking?"

Generally my mind is in one of two places; the next comic page, or hare-brained marketing schemes.  Aspiring content creators may relate to the constant drive for experimentation, improvement, and the hope for success.
During some of my many thousands of hours of drawing I listened to a podcast by Milo. I knew him as a provocateur attracting massive crowds and protesters while advocating free speech and being banned from twitter. The controversy swirling around him was many things, and entertaining was one of them.
I heard him do a live-read advertising, of all things, cars. Talk about boring. Too bad he wasn't promoting something interesting. Like a webcomic... Like a furry webcomic. Like OUR furry webcomic!
The idea popped into my head like a Robin Williams punch line, and I laughed.
One of culture's most controversial figures, promoting a furry comic.  The thought was so absurd, I had to at least try for it and see what would happen. I probably wouldn't be capable of pulling off such an advertising coupe. No publicist, no ad agency, no form of professional representation.
But it turns out I could.
And I did.
Milo’s audience heard all about Dreamkeepers, and then he became a snow leopard.
If you're concerned about social problems, and shaming others into agreement is a tactic you sometimes use, what happened next might be of interest to you.

I was called the usual assortment of smears that we're all so familiar with, whether we're hitting with them, or being hit by them. Fascist, alt-right, x-phobe, Nazi.
Now, was the pitchfork crowd aware that the labels they flung at me were inaccurate? I can't say. I have difficulty reading minds. 
But I know my own mind (a little), so from my perspective it was obvious those labels were wrong. I don't identify as a fascist, and my values are incompatible with fascism. The credibility of my accusers thus dipped a bit, and not just their personal credibility. Being falsely labeled confirmed for me that these labels were used falsely, broadly, as a disingenuous social weapon.
I shrugged off the pitchforkers seeking to apply shame and control, because, no thanks. We carried on drawing things, sharing art, and having a good time.
Now remember, you are permitted to hate me for all of this, as we established at the beginning. That's fine. I don't identify the way you have labeled me, and you're allowed to be upset about that.
But the takeaway here is that, even for oddly agreeable fellows like myself, social shaming tactics are losing effectiveness. The hammer still has force- but everyone has been pummeled so long, over such trivial or fallacious things, that hardened shells have become mainstream. Shame doesn't work. That weapon has been removed from our arsenal of social correctives. And as it happens, we may have disarmed ourselves at just the wrong moment. 
I'm starting to get worried about Nazis. Now, when I say that, I don't mean Dave Rubin. (I could take ‘im.) Allow me to briefly clarify how I conceptualize "Nazi."
I don't use it in the colloquial sense of "person outside my political tribe."  I'm talking about a fringe ideology that opposes individual rights, seeks to purge all disagreement from society, and minimizes historic mass murders.
The left-leaning readers are pulling their hair in frustration at that definition, thinking, "Yes you idiot, that's what we've been telling you this entire time! There are actual Nazis, we're not making this stuff up!"
I hear you, and you’re correct.
Real people exist who are Nazis.  I'm sure you can find examples who are not Dave Rubin, and they will be valid examples of very bad Nazis. There were valid examples a few years ago, and before then as well.
The existence of a few people thinking totalitarian thoughts doesn't concern me then, nor now.   I'm concerned because of a major contextual social shift.

Moral credibility.

  Up until now, mainstream society was generally Nazi-proof because of one universally accepted truism;  that Nazis were morally reprehensible. Nobody would ever vote for a Nationalist Socialist political party, because there wasn't one single good thing about Nazis.
Or at least, there wasn't.
The door is opening to Nazis having some mainstream appeal, and here is why.
Public perception is beginning to register Nazis as defenders of free speech.
If you disagree, just check this for yourself.  How often do you see online conversations touching on the topics of Nazis and free speech at the same time?
That proximity alone, repeated often enough, will form a link in people's minds long after they forget the context of the arguments.
If that impression solidifies, then we have destroyed the decades-long public consensus that there is nothing good about voting for Nazis. People will start saying, "Well, I disagree with their French foreign policy, but at least somebody is defending free speech."
What's even worse, the furry community's efforts to eradicate Nazis are making this catastrophic impression- this idea that Nazis defend free speech- correct.
If you fight Nazis by revoking their civil rights, then they will defend themselves by advocating for civil rights.
The moral high-ground is the one thing Nazis never had. It is a massively powerful weapon, and we are giving it to them, for free.
Please, let's all stop giving Nazis the moral high ground. It's easy. We can disarm them by simply respecting everyone's civil rights. 
Many will rush to explain that no civil rights are being violated. Perhaps you are technically correct- let's not argue the legal minutiae outside of court. If it satisfies your desire for accuracy, every time you hear "violating civil rights" simply replace it in your mind with "deplatforming, demonetizing, censoring, and social banishment, with no criminal charges, no trial, and no recourse."
Many of the people being purged are not Nazis at all.  Not even a little bit.  Tossing around hateful labels like ticker-tape at a parade makes these kinds of civilian casualties inevitable. And they are mounting.
The recent Furaffinity purge provides the latest examples. 
People with no ties to the alt-right have had their accounts nuked, being told opaquely "you're not the sort of person welcome in our community."
Many just want access to their account back, even briefly, so they can save copies of favorited art, gather their posts and journals from past years, and consider if they can take their belongings to find a new home.  One where they won't be banished for reasons that are never disclosed. 
In the furry community's zeal to expunge “Nazis,” you might anticipate another unintended consequence.
Fearful people gravitate towards group identity, for protection. 
I will let you deduce what happens when raving headhunters add notches to their belt and gloat over scalps.
A few furs will choose to live in fear.  Re-reading every tweet, anxiety spiking as they second-guess each joke, knowing one wrong move could end their social existence in the oh-so-welcoming community, but hoping the next person to be cast out will be a different member of the herd. 
But for every furry who stays quiet and toes the line, more will stay quiet and drift away from the headhunters, into the opposing camp.
During the Milo fursona days every public tweet or comment bullying us would correspond to roughly ten private messages or e-mails expressing solidarity with our actions, and fear of the online mobs. 
The furry community is devolving into one defined by anxiety, insecurity, and fear.
I’ll repeat it, in case you didn’t feel the psychic surge of readers around the globe nodding mutely in assent.

We are creating a climate of fear.

One where polarized factions misrepresent one another.  One where artists, working maniacally to build up a career, live in fear of being next on the chopping block, their hopes and dreams just more collateral damage.  We’re creating a community where any creator who fails to join a rigid political bloc risks being caught alone in the crossfire between the two. 
On our current path, we’re only a few years away from politically segregated conventions. That will take the reciprocal ugliness and intolerance that exists online, and make it worse. We can only throw so many people out of the fandom before it generates an entire rival community. That’s a road we don’t have to go down. 
Now, I’m not telling you to start liking Nazis. I don’t like them- every time I see those movies, I’m rooting for Indiana Jones.
I can see a better future for the fandom, and it doesn’t require us to join hands and sing kumbaya. Dislike some art? Explain why in a comment. See people agreeing to a bad idea? Explain why it’s bad. Want to shun a person? Use your block button, and don’t invite them to your parties.
But we have to exist together in the same society. We can curate our personal social circle- but we cannot claim personal ownership and curation rights over the entire fandom. Law abiding people, even those who disagree with us, must have access to publicly accessible social events, publicly accessible online platforms, the ability to earn revenue, and basic civil rights.
That’s a pact I can support. Even if I disagree with someone, and even if they’re a genuinely bad person, if they follow the law I won’t try to demonetize them, deplatform them, or eject them from the broader community and its gatherings.  (Openly or otherwise.)
It’s my hope we’ll move towards a future where the furry community truly is a welcoming place. Where people can disagree and have political spats, then grab a beer together, or play the latest game, or go nuts on the dance floor. A community that doesn’t mandate opinions. A community where anyone can draw anything. (Yes, even that.)
In world like that, it’ll be awfully hard for Nazis to pose as free-speech defenders.  I won’t have to worry about culture siding with them.  I can laugh at the occasional outrageous Nazi fursuiter, and then continue living in a society that stands for individual rights and against totalitarian social purges- regardless of who is doing the purging. A society where silly people can advocate crazy ideas which the majority will never take seriously, because the ideas crumble under scrutiny. Where we can create any sort of fiction imaginable.
It’s just a hope, not instructions. You’re free to agree or disagree. I’ll still greet you with a smile if you ever decide to swing by, and support your right to viably participate in the community, your right to contribute color, life, and stupid opinions. If I don't support those rights for you, god knows nobody will support them for me.  I think we can do that much for one another.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Q&A Week 3

28 Is it possible, how ever unlikely, that a nightmare could by sympathetic or benevolent towards dreamkeepers or life in general?

Yes.  It's rare- Nightmares are birthed into the world for a specific purpose, and their natural temperaments orient them towards vicious aggression.  But though their ostensible purpose is to destroy life, to do so effectively they need to take on the aspects of living beings.  Bodies need food, so they will feel hunger.  And to sustain itself, a life form needs to do more than eat, so they have a range of feelings, including emotions.  To be effectively autonomous beings, it's inherently necessary that they can process their own thoughts and make decisions.

So though nightmares generally exist to kill Dreamkeepers and the vast majority of them conform to that task, it is possible for some to disagree and formulate their own objectives.

But a disobedient Nightmare is not dealt with kindly when their compatriots gain access to them.   And once they die, their spirit will return to the Nightmare realm before being reborn, so there's ultimately no escape from their peers.

23 Who are your personal favorite dreamkeepers and why?

David:  Mine would have to be Whip.  I just like how he's a bit of a detached observer, a touch sardonic, yet very keyed in to his own desires.  Liz's favorite Dreamkeeper has yet to appear in the series. 

23 Probably super plot vaulty but here i go: Can a dreamkeeper ascend into a nightmare or a spirit and how do they do it?

To be honest I'm not sure what this question is asking.  I'll just ramble a bit and hopefully answer it.   In Dreamkeepers lore, characters have souls, and they can also have a body to run around in.  Dreamkeepers have a body and share the same soul with their human counterpart.   Nightmares (when they manifest one in the Dreamworld) have a body.  In Volume 4 we discover an unconfirmed possibility that Spirits can be summoned into and trapped within a body.  So if that turns out to be what really happened, then it'd be canon that souls can be implanted into bodies that were not originally theirs.

21 During Volume 4 when Mace asked the group to take a break, did he ask because he realized Bast was limping or because he was actually tired?

Mace did notice Bast was limping, and that's why he called for a break. I think he realized that bringing attention to Bast's injury would be counterproductive, considering how prickly Bast can be- he might deny it and refuse to stop.  I figured in light of Bast's insane escape from the Neons in Volume 3, a delayed-action injury would be a necessary bare minimum consequence to depict. 

16 How big can Ryuu Nekos get and is there any sort of special qualities they acquire at their full sizes?

Full grown ryuu-nekos commonly grow to become a hundred to two hundred feet long.  If they are bred and fed for that purpose, they can get to that size within 10-20 years, but normally it'll take about a century for a wild neko to attain that size. 

They tend to eat less and less frequently as they grow, so when they reach a hundred feet or so, they may stop eating altogether save the occasional big meal.  That means that their growth ceases, which is why this tends to be their maximum size. 

Nekos are said to grow more intelligent as they age, so large ones tend to be very perceptive.

There are legends that one neko of each type continued to grow, becoming a thousand foot behemoth, and that they rest hidden- underneath rivers, winding below mountain ranges, buried beneath rambling jungles.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Critically acclaimed comic that I HATED- can the Big Geeky Crew change my mind?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Q&A: Week 2

As of the time I checked the survey, here are the top five questions.   Let's get some answers rolling!

45 votes- Do powers get more powerful with time as a dreamkeeper uses it more?

Usually, yes!  I answered a similar question via e-mail recently, so I can paste it here as it's the perfect place.  I use weightlifting as an analogy for dreamkeepers power training:

When inexperienced Dreamkeepers use their power, they sometimes fuel it with their own personal energy- and almost immediately faint.   But most soon learn to fuel their power by 'channeling' it.  Energy interacting with a Dreamkeeper and fueling their ability is signified by the halo effect.  Learning to 'channel' power is like learning to ride a bike- it rapidly becomes intuitive. 

'Channeling' a power doesn't involve physical musculature at all, something closer to mental focus and sustained willpower.  But, though qualitatively different, it's similar to weightlifting in the following ways.

Someone who has practiced more, and has more experience, can increase their capacity to lift weights.  Not everyone can attain equal strength.  Almost everyone can get stronger with training, but there are limits.   Stand around lifting weights for too long, and a person will exhaust their muscles, be unable to continue until they allow themselves to rest and recover.   And lifting heavier weights will exhaust their strength faster.  And in fact, lift something that's simply too heavy, too fast, and they can actually injure their muscles, and put themselves out of commission for weeks or longer.   It's possible for a power-active Dreamkeeper to 'sprain' their power in this manner, and require recovery. 

Once a Dreamkeeper has exhausted their 'power strength' or capability, then they can only continue using their power by fueling it with their body's physical stamina, which doesn't last for long. 

So, weightlifting is a good metaphor:  Some people are stronger than others, even when just beginning.  But everyone can increase their capabilities up to a point, with training.  Some can develop exceptional capabilities.  But even someone in peak form can only lift so much before their muscles will be exhausted and require rest.  The more they lift, the more rest will be required to restore their strength. 

40 votes- Can typical powers manifest under conditions other than imminent bodily harm? Such as intense focus towards a job or hobby?

Yes, definitely.  Danger is a rather effective means of causing intense focus and desire- but not the only way.  Intense focus, paired with genuine desire, is how 99% of Dreamkeepers discover their power.

33 votes- How old are Vanth, Evzen and the orphans from Grunn's Orphanage / how old are all of the characters in GNS?

I'll try to list at least the main characters:

Evzen- 15


Nabonidus-Plot Vault

30 votes- If you guys could would you go back and change anything about the previous comics and / or lore?

Short answer, no.  Early on we fixed some consistency goofs in Volume 1, but just enough to keep it working properly.
If I had the power to go redo stuff, I wouldn't.  Gotta move forward as we improve, instead of letting the improvement drag us back to square one.

But a similar question- is there anything that we could have done better?  I can think of one scene that probably would have been better with a different twist.

In Volume 3, a farmer gives Lilith a data-scroll out of the blue, which proves to be a useful item.   It was a placeholder scene that I couldn't improve on at the time- we injected a bit of humor, and moved forward with getting the book created.   But looking back, I'd have Mace or Bast steal (or compete to steal) the scroll, because that's a little more in line with their character and less random. 

I try to use hindsight revelations like this to sharpen up my storytelling skills, and apply it to make our subsequent work better than ever. 

24- What's the species behind Vi's design? People say she's a rabbit or a skunk but i think i read she actually is a civet.

Our original thought was sort of a rabbit skunk combo- but civet works too.  Dreamkeepers are so cartoony, the original animal inspiration is essentially irrelevant most of the time.    I don't even know what Whip is supposed to be.    A cold kangaroo rat?  A cuddly sky-shark?    I don't think anyone knows.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

It's a Major Award!

We faced off against peerless competition- Boneitis, Lackadaisy, Always Gray in Winter, Teagan Gavet-

But when the Vivid readership goes on the warpath, they can move mountains. You've brought this campaign to overwhelming victory.

Thank you, and well done.

The Dreamkeepers series is officially an Ursa Major Award winner in not just one, but THREE categories:

Best Graphic Story (Graphic novel saga)

Best  Novel (The Wayward Astronomer)

and Best Published Illustration (Wayward Astronomer cover art)

Thank you again to the elite corps of readers who executed this campaign, and thank you to our honorable competition for allowing us to compete with truly great work.

This year is off to an exciting start.   Volume 5 unleashed on Patreon, a salvo of Award winning- and soon, Skirmish games will be comin' in hot.

More victories and more fun to come.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Vivid Update: MAY

First up:  Brace yourselves. 


Patreon was strong last month, but not quite strong enough to hit that Full Time Milestone goal for May.  That means Prelude will update every *other* week, and there's no Chat 'n Sketch this month. 

Maybe next month- spread the Good Word to the heathens, that for a buck a month they can transform themselves from lowly freeloaders to glorified backers, masters of fate, and enjoy the weekly Volume 5 pages with dignity.

>end scene<


On the manufacturing front, Skirmish is now in full production.   We received glimmering hard-copy proofs, a redesign of the box layout, and the gave the green-light to everything.   Pre-Orders are now CLOSED.  I have to ensure we have enough games to deliver to our backers before I sell any more- we don't have many extras!

The printer says it's one of the most complex manufacturing jobs they've ever attempted for a game- their estimate is 1.5 months to completion.  I'm guessing two- either way, we're in the home stretch!    If you're excited, check out the official rulebook online:


All backer commissions from last month are done.  Posting to Patreon soon.   And we're knocking out our Big Commission Queue like clockwork, one per month- Slot #53, e-mail comin' your way today!


Coloring continues to illuminate the true horror of Santa Clause.   So far it looks like we're on track for October delivery.


The Test Run has been completed!   A Story Arc transpired with bloodshed, intrigue, and battle- and a whole lot of learning for me.   I'm doing a redesign of Faction War now- test players!   I'll share when it's done.

Instead of opening Faction War to the public all at once, we're going to phase new players in by invitation only.   That way a flood of noobs doesn't crash the system with too much chaos- veterans can teach a handful of new players the ropes throughout a Story Arc, and invite new players as the system solidifies and the story gains momentum.


I went on a ride-along with the ThoughtCops in their podcast, Episode 64:  I had a blast and there was much crude humor enjoyed by all. 
Although not everyone enjoys crude humor- one comedian, Asterios, is currently being sued.  But not if we have anything to say about it.

Boneitis and I are teaming up to save Asterios from his legal fees with a dakimakura body pillow that can only be described as "DEPRAVED."

I don't know how this is going to play out, everyone even adjacent to this lawsuit seems to get targeted in it, but I don't think we can be held liable for outrageous daki drawings.  I'll keep you posted. 


Speaking of Boneitis- his first graphic novel, False Start, has been picked up by Vivid Publishing.  He's prepping for a Kickstarter this spring / summer, so plan accordingly, and welcome the newest member of the Vivid coalition.


We're still planning on launching CouchCon!  Date to be announced.   It'll offer all the goodies we provide at normal conventions, but to everyone.   CouchCon will line up with the launch of False Start.


We hit the Full Time milestone a month back, so we're going to launch a new Dreamkeepers Caption Contest.   Stay tuned for details.


Speaking of that whole comedian lawsuit situation above- one of the people involved made a comic, and we reviewed it for Big Geeky Couch.  Posting soon.  Check out the youtube channel for more comic reviews and shenanigans on the couch.


It's under the hood, but progress is still moving forward on the Dreamkeepers sidescroller game.  The level editor is building features that will allow for easier adjustment of lighting conditions in the levels, and other stuff that I don't understand.  But it's looking like a pile of fun.   I'm hoping this summer it will be ready to start building test modules for the greyboxed sketch-characters that we have ready.



I hope to catch up soon, but want to get just a few more pages colored first...


We have a dealer's table at Anthrocon!   Boneitis has a table, as do Skidd and Phuufy of UberQuest, and many more- if you can make it out, come see us!   We're attending Midwest Furfest also, but I don't know if we can get a dealer's table there yet.   Fingers crossed.

So that's our rundown for May!  Thanks for enjoying our content- more on the way. 

Warm regards,
-Dave & Liz

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Patreon QnA Week 1

Thursday night chats are getting out of control, so we're taming it by shifting Q&A to a weekly top-5 vote.

Better answers, for the questions readers actually want to know.  Plus I can blog and log 'em for easier reference.  Here's the first round of questions voted for by our backers:

How are you doing Dave and Liz?



Well it's an official question, so I'll elaborate a bit.   Highly pleased that warm weather finally showed up, excited that we got to crash the Thoughtcops podcast, looking forward to False Start Chapter Zero, and happy that Volume 5 updates are off to a good start.   Also relieved that Skirmish is finally in the manufacturing stage- I can hardly wait to get our shipment of games and start shipping them.  Liz is tearing it up with figurines and Firebrat coloring. 

Been looking for a opportunity to ask. what is fallguard and how is it played?

Fallguard is Anduruna's most mainstream sport.  We haven't nailed down specific league rules, but the general idea is as follows.

There's one field with two teams.  Each team has an endzone, like in football.  Any time a player enters the endzone of the opposing team, they score a point. 

Players have massive blocky boxing gloves- and they use them to fight opposing team members.   No grabbing or holding is allowed- and the gloves are like huge rectangles, so it's pretty much impossible to hold someone even if you wanted to. 

The field is cris-crossed by padded trenches.  They're like ten feet deep.  If you fall into a trench, you have to run to the sidelines, and you climb back onto the field into your home area. 

It's a long-shot to try jumping the trenches.  And there are a handful of choke points near center field, that serve as bridges, so they gain massive tactical importance.   If a team can control those choke points, they have a good shot at blocking enemies from coming across and scoring. 

So the game plays out in several rounds, where players try to karate each other into trenches and rack up scores by penetrating enemy territory.  Big strong players that can fight well provide certain advantages, while agile, nimble players provide other advantages.   

And that's Fallguard.

With regard to springers, how do they compare to our guns in terms of energy/velocity of the bullets, recoil, and noise generated by the

Patreon only allows so many characters in poll questions, so for future reference, gotta be concise!  The full question was intended to be: 

"With regard to springers, how do they compare to our guns in terms of energy/velocity of the bullets, recoil, and noise generated by the shots?"  For future Q&As we'll have to keep it limited to whatever fits into the Patreon poll question area, I can't respond to five essays a week.

I would say offhand, it probably depends on the firearm in question, and the springer gun in question.   I don't know that much about guns, so I don't even have a good handle on the range of muzzle velocities or impact energy.    But noise I can answer- springers are not as loud as guns.   Every gun I've fired has been way too loud, you have to wear earmuffs.  I feel like I'm Princess Leia going on a killing spree. 

Springers would still be loud- but not loud enough to damage hearing.  Think of a sharp slapping crack as the cartridge casing snaps, then a bursting metallic whang as the spring bursts open and propels the round.   Followed by a fun sproingy springy after-sound when the spring ejects and wobbles to the ground. 

The springs are a special kind of metal, to allow for the compression, storage, and kinetic effect in the story- Placeholder name, "Cartoonium."   But that's not canon, just a placeholder.

I'd imagine springer rounds travel slower than most bullets- but a lot of them look larger and heavier than bullets too, so the impact would still be something to avoid.

It's made clear that the Viscount and family live near the top if Sabbaton Towers, how is the rest of Sabbaton arranged in terms of social (hierarchy)

I don't think I can give a full-blown essay on exactly how the Sabbaton Towers are organized and what's on every level, because I haven't made everything up yet.  Mainly we pull things into focus when they become relevant to story events. 

But the Big Library is near the top, with that cool view of the stars across the ceiling.  The Viscount level is high up, above the clouds, but not the very top level. 

Lower levels include living situations:  Some levels are for diplomats, bureaucrats, and other functionaries.  Some are for private professionals and are rented out like condos.   So some levels are private residencies, but some are public access.   There's a mall level, a hospital level, the very bottom is the Foundation.   And underground- between the foundation and the surface- are some prison levels, which are the most high-security prison facilities in the entire city. 

That's it for this week!  If you'd like your question to be in the running for next week's Top Five, become (or finagle) a Commanding Vote backer to do it on Patreon.