30 December 2016

How to make rulings in RPGs

Some will say that “rulings instead of rules” is one style of playing role-playing games. I say, “rulings instead of rules” is a defining feature of role-playing games.

But I’m not here to convince you of that point today; it is just some context for what follows. Rather, I’m inspired by a post on the Goblin Punch blog to give some advice on how to make rulings.

Don’t make rules: Making rulings is not making rules. We’re not talking about a method for developing yet another game with a large set of complex rules. We’re talking about playing without a large set of complex rules. For me, the ideal role-playing game has no rules. It can be handy to have some guidelines to help get us started, but no rules.

Don’t try to make a general rule. Concentrate on making a ruling for the exact situation at hand.

And don’t be afraid to overrule the written guidelines when they give unsatisfying results.

Rulings don’t have to be perfect: Since we’re talking about role-playing games, it is OK that our rulings won’t be perfect. The bar is simply this: That they are good enough for everyone currently at the table.

Don’t worry about making the perfect ruling. Just make the best ruling you can now.

Which brings us to: You are not alone: We grant the referee the power to make the final decisions because it is one way to solve the “No you didn’t! Yes I did!” problem of playing “make believe”. And, if the referee isn’t a jerk, it can be a very satisfactory solution.

But the players know some things the referee doesn’t. The table can make a better ruling than the referee alone.

Now, often the referee has knowledge about a situation that the players lack. But a good referee will take the advice of the players into account when making rulings.

Consistency is overrated: Worrying about consistency leads us to making rules rather than rulings. So, the “rulings rather than rules” referee should avoid worrying about it. Consistency also suggests that we should be bound by any poor rulings we made in the past. To me, that’s crazy. We always want to strive to make better rulings than we made in the past.

But isn’t consistency important? Don’t we need consistency to ensure fairness? ...for immersion? Fairness and immersion are—in some degree—important, but consistency itself is only important to the degree that it supports fairness and immersion.

Here’s the key to consistency: Everyone around the table needs to feel free to point out important inconsistencies when they arise. The referee then has a chance to consider it when making the current ruling.

If no one at the table notices an inconsistency and thinks it is important enough to mention, then the inconsistency isn’t important.

Not using dice (or similar tools): Before calling for a roll, ask is whether the situation warrants rolling dice.

It has been said: Only roll the dice when the outcome is uncertain. That may seem obvious, but many of us have fallen into the trap of calling for dice rolls too often. And it is also OK to simply rule something a success if the chance of failure exists but is low.

Also, even if the outcome isn’t certain but it is a minor thing, it is sometimes better to just rule yea or nay and move on.

Using dice (or similar tools): When you do call for a roll, simply take into account all the prevailing circumstances and come up with a chance of success.

You can ask the players to suggest factors you may have not considered. You can also ask the group if they think the percentage you came up with is reasonable.

Before the roll is made, it is also a good idea to state what a successful roll and a failed roll will actually mean.

If you aren’t good with probabilities, it is good enough to always express the chance of success in percentage and roll percentile dice.

Be careful about repeated rolls.

Let’s say you rule that each character in a four character party has a 50% chance of sneaking. Then you make rolls for each character individually and count one of them failing as the party failing. Then the party has less than a 6% chance of success

If you make them roll for every, say, 30 feet of movement, then their chance for sneaking 60 feet drops to less than 0.4%.

When in doubt, it is probably better to determine a single percentage for the entire party to sneak an entire distance rather than try to decompose it into many individual rolls. Because composing and decomposing probabilities isn’t easy (for most of us).

That said, you don’t want the entire adventure to be summed up in a single roll. You want multiple rolls with meaningful decisions between them. So, it is always a balancing act. And that’s a big topic that I don’t have any more to say about at the moment.

Rulings should be fast?

In the Goblin Punch post, Arnold said that probably the most important point is that rulings should be fast. I’m not sure I agree.

If, as I contend, rulings are a defining feature of role-playing games, then perhaps rulings being fast is not important.

11 October 2016

US presidential election 2016

The past several years I have made an effort to stay out of politics. I don’t agree with the stance that we have a responsibility to participate in politics. One of the benefits of freedom is that we have the freedom to ignore politics, which can greatly improve your quality of life. Now, it is true that, when I’m not participating, I can’t complain about the outcomes. (Well, I have the freedom to complain. I just don’t have the moral right to.)

And even when I was involved, I generally held the policy of not saying who I voted for. You could often guess based on what I said, but I didn’t think I needed to proclaim it.

This presidential election, however, is different. Not only do I feel I must vote, I also feel like I should take a public stand. Not in an effort to convince anyone to vote the way I am but merely because it feels like taking a stand is warranted.

Trump has made it very clear that he doesn’t know or care about the principles upon which civilization operates. What’s more, I’m not convinced that he would listen to advisors, whether good or bad.

During the 2008 primaries, at the local caucus, I saw first hand the dirty tricks that the Clinton camp will use. I have little respect for her. But I do believe she has a firm understanding of the underpinnings of civilization and a vested interest in preserving it.

I am past the time when I was idealistic enough to support a third party candidate. The biggest problem in Federal politics (prior to Trump’s nomination) is that the two major parties look more like each other than like the electorate. The system doesn’t incentivize the parties to be more representative of the electorate. Since only the people in power could reform the system, and since it is rigged to keep them in power, it is hard to see a time when the system will be reformed to make third parties viable so that our parties might better represent us. The best we can hope for is for a third party to replace one of the major two, but then we’ll just be right back in the same boat.

The system means that—for all my life—my vote for president hasn’t counted. My state, being winner-takes-all, always ends up going 100% Republican no matter how many people vote Democratic or third party. The fact that the Republican nominee is so unfit, however, means that this may be the first time in my lifetime that my vote for president might actually count. So, I’m voting for president this year, and I’m voting for Clinton.

15 June 2016

Windows NT 4: A high point

Microsoft Windows NT 4 was a good system. It wasn’t a great system. It had plenty of flaws. But—at the time—it may have been the best in its class.

Apple was working on a system code-named Copland to replace the aging Mac OS as a transition to Gershwin, which would supposedly be a real modern, personal-computer OS. But it was a quagmire that would eventually be scrapped.

Linux wasn’t quite old enough...yet. Some people will say “Desktop Linux” is perpetually two years away, but it was good enough to serve as my primary system for the years between Windows NT and when I switched to Mac OS X.

(Apologies to the OS/2 fans, in particular. I never had much experience with it. And no doubt there are other contenders that I’m forgetting. But it was programming for Mac and Windows that was paying my bills. Linux was the only venture away from them I had time for.)

Windows NT 4 had the basic OS services—virtual memory, memory protection, and preëmptive multitasking—that personal computers were finally ready for and needed. It had a UI that borrowed some of the goodness of NeXTSTEP by way of Windows 95. It was sufficiently compatible with older DOS and 16-bit Windows software. (At least for my needs.) And, most importantly, I found myself more productive using it than I was on my Mac.

By the time Windows 2000 came out, I’d moved on to Linux. So, I can’t speak much to when things really started getting worse for Windows.

Sidebar: It seemed ironic how so many Mac people ended up on Linux during Apple’s dark years. On the face of it, at least, the two couldn’t seem to be farther apart. Completely open and customizable versus completely closed and curated. One that promises to let you do anything with it as long as you spend the time and effort; one that strives towards “it just works” provided that you want to do exactly what it wants you to do.

Microsoft today is so different. They’re no longer on top, and that means they’re doing some really great things. (And Apple is pulling Microsoft-style moves.) Yet they’re still doing a lot of silly things. And I wonder if Windows can ever again be even as good as it was with NT 4. Should I leave the Mac again, I can’t imagine it would be for a future version of Windows. Most likely it will be Linux again, if not some upstart that doesn’t exist yet.

14 April 2016

Dear Apple: Stop nagging me! (for the 2nd time)

This is the feedback I’ve sent Apple. If you feel the same way, please let them know it.

Stop nagging me about iOS updates. Now.

This is something Apple should never have done. I should not have had to say this once. Yet here I am saying it a second time.

Add a “Don’t remind me” option, or get rid of the notification altogether.

Just stop it. Now.

22 February 2016

Logo unification

New Logo(s) for Jetbrains

How can you take a good logo (if you had one) and make it boring? Create a dozen different logos that look nearly the same.

Having a common theme among product logos isn’t a bad idea, but making them this similar is a bad idea. It was a bad idea when Adobe did it. It was a bad idea when Microsoft did it.

Software companies should stop doing that.

21 February 2016

What’s the more important message?

I find it academically interesting to read things like “Mark and Divine Christology?

But the question of whether Jesus was wholly God or wholly man or wholly both or wholly neither... That’s all academic to me. I can’t understand why it is anything more than that to anyone.

My own personal credo says nothing about the divinity of the Jesus.

If you honestly study the scriptures, you will find that they do not necessarily agree on this matter. (Perhaps they don’t necessarily disagree either, but...again: Academic.)

What is the more important message? The one that is more mixed or the one that is more consistent?

What is the more important message? That Jesus was divine or that we should love our enemies?

What is the more important message? That we should stone certain offenders or that we should not judge others lest we be judged ourselves?

What would Jesus say?

20 February 2016

On movie audio commentary

Movie audio commentary tracks have so much promise, but I don’t think any of the ones I’ve listened to have delivered. Sure, we get some interesting anecdotes and behind-the-scenes discussion, but nothing that wouldn’t have been better and more effectively delivered in a simple interview or other format.

19 February 2016

Thoughts upon watching Star Wars: Episode I

After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...

There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.

Episode I: Arguably, Episode I should either never have been made or should have been a very different movie from the others. Contrary to the movie serial conceit, the backstory for an action-adventure may not, itself, be an action-adventure. And this isn’t just an action-adventure but a mythic action-adventure. But here it is anyway...

(If it were a movie serial, Episodes I to III would be about the same characters as Episodes IV to VI. Was there ever a generational movie serial? Flash Gordon certainly wasn’t. You could imagine prior adventures for Leia and Han. Maybe Biggs too. Even Luke could have some minor “Young Indy” adventures on Tatooine. But a serial that followed the adventures of several separate heroes who meet up in Episode IV would be just as unusual.)

We now have Tatooine garb unequivocally becoming the Jedi uniform. This is emblematic. The first film was intended to be “Flash Gordon done right”. With a believable “used future” aesthetic. Here, this film completely contradicts that aesthetic.

Including C-3P0 and R2-D2 is, likewise, is trying to please the audience in the laziest of ways.

This film has been defended as being intended for kids. Which is pointless. A good kids movie has to be a good movie. Being for kids is defense for nothing.

Watching it again, this film does feels strongly like it was made for kids, and that is always a bad thing. Good kids movies don’t feel like they’ve been made for kids.

Furthermore, reflecting on seeing Episode IV when I was eight, it seems completely pointless to make a movie in the same series for kids.

I think a lot of criticism of this film unfairly expects it to be more like Episodes IV, V, and VI. It is a different time with different characters and different events. We already had Episodes IV, V, and VI; no need to repeat them.

The problem is that so little of what is new here is compelling. And the stuff that isn’t new isn’t used in the way that made it work the first time.

The first time I saw this movie, it was my job to make sure that the web site my company was building had no single point of failure. The idea that a droid army should have a single point of failure was—and still is—completely unbelievable. No amount of willingness will suspend it. Not to mention that a kid—no matter how strongly the Force may be with him—would stumble upon that single point of failure that professional fighter pilots wouldn’t find.

And I haven’t even mentioned the J-word.

At the moment I have nothing good to say about this movie.

We later checked out the “no cheese” edit on YouTube. It is amazing how much better it is. Still not good, but so much better.

18 February 2016

Sword drills

I’d been doing a good job of exercising on the stationary bike every morning. 15 minutes per day for the first week; 20 for the second. While away from home over the holidays, I thought I’d take along a Hollowearth Sword, and do some drills out of Christian Tobler’s Fighting with the German Longsword.

Things I learned:

  • Sword drills are a lot more work than an exercise bike but don’t earn as much Apple watch green ring credit.
  • My body really doesn’t like the left vom tag guard. It will do almost anything to do something else when I try to assume it.
  • Wear gloves for drills.

17 February 2016


From “Skepticism and Consensus”, which is quoting “On the value of scepticism”:

Nevertheless the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion.

But the non-expert needs a way of finding the experts. And a way of distinguishing experts from other non-experts.

16 February 2016

Movie adaptions

When people talk about things they like to see made into movies, I always ask: Why? How many good movie adaptions have there been?

Now I do not think that a bad movie adaption somehow ruins the original work. That has nothing to do with it.

Also, it isn’t that I think an adaption has to be exactly like the original. The needs of cinema are different from the needs of other media. I think the first Harry Potter movie is a good example of how staying too close to the text of the original can create a bland movie.

I does bother me when an adaption strays so far that it is no longer the same story. What’s the point in that? Take credit for your story and claim it as your own! Don’t be dishonest.

(The point is that it is easier to sell an adaption to the greenlighters than an original idea, but that doesn’t make it a good thing.)

It bothers me when an adaption fails to keep the spirit of the original. So many seem to even reverse the spirit of the original.

But, that those things bother me is not why I don’t get too excited about adaptions.

I don’t get excited about adaptions because they are so seldomly good movies. The best movies are the stories that—whatever their influences—are created for cinema rather than those that are adapted to it. Which ought to be unsurprising.

15 February 2016

New locking strap review

I don’t care for strap locks that require replacing the strap pins on a guitar. And I’ve never actually seen any Grolsch bottle washers. What I have been happy with are the Planet Waves Planet Lock straps.

I recently got an Ernie Ball Polylock strap. Unlike the Planet Lock, it has no moving parts. But it does feel very secure. And it doesn’t feel quite as clunky as the Planet Locks.

Most importantly, though, I have one instrument—an Ibanez Mikro bass—that the Planet Locks won’t fit on. The Polylock does!

14 February 2016

The Bible is...

From “Making the world a better place”:

Readers of the Bible need to be able to recognize when God is depicted in a manner that is a projection of humanity at its worst.

To me the Bible is not a message from God to humans. It is a story of humans trying to understand God (i.e. truth). And themselves.

And it isn’t a story that is finished. Faith isn’t about dogma. It is about starting with the wisdom of our predecessors and then trying to go beyond that.

13 February 2016

Classic D&D ability checks

When playing classic D&D, I like having some mechanics that don’t reduce the 3–18 range for ability scores to ±3. I’ve been using “roll score or less on nd6” for ability checks. (The n depends upon the difficulty of the check.) It’s unfortunate that this doesn’t take the character’s level into account.

So, here’s what I’m considering:

Roll a d20 for each character level. Pass if any are less than or equal to the ability score.

Although, unlike nd6, this has no provision to factor in a difficulty.

One possibility is to use different dice. For an easier task, roll d12s instead of d20s. For a harder task, roll d30s instead of d20s.

Another possibility is to have the difficulty modify the character’s level. But what do we do when modified level is less than one?

Maybe require rolling score or less on multiple d20s. e.g. If the effective character level were zero, success requires rolling the ability score or less on two d20s.

Here is an Anydice program showing the odds.

12 February 2016

Realistic sword fighting in films

A good point is made that on film or video, a realistic sword fight would be too short and too hard for the audience to follow. The sword fight in these media has many other purposes to fulfill other than being an actual sword fight.

I think, however, that film (or video) might be the best medium for depicting realistic sword fights.

On stage, the action would indeed be to quick and subtle to be understood by the audience. Film, however, can slow things down. Camera angles and distance can be chosen to clearly depict what is happening and focus on nuances.

Literature and audio drama aren’t good at depicting the details of motion for three dimensional combatants and their weapons. Film has a huge advantage there.

One place film is at a disadvantage—at least compared to literature—is in depicting the subtle feeling (fühlen among students of Liechtenauer) that allows a fencer to sense their opponent through the pressure of two blades in the midst of a bind.

11 February 2016

Thoughts upon rewatching Star Wars: Episode VI

After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...

There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.

Episode VI: I’ve always had an issue with the fact that Luke—now calling himself a Jedi—acts in bad-faith right-off-the-bat at the top of the movie.

If Dagobah in Episode V was a muppet movie, Jabba’s palace is doubly so. Again, for both good and ill.

Then we learn that Luke has not been back to Dagobah since the end of Episode V. Yoda says he already knows what he needs to know. He just needs to confront Vader. (Wait...isn’t that exactly what he already did?) Just so we’re clear on this: The message of episodes V and VI are that spending a lot of time training isn’t really a key to being a Jedi. For good or ill.

As strong as Leia is depicted, she’s still not allowed to be quite as heroic as the guys.

Does what happens between Luke, the Emperor, and Vader matter to the outcome of the story? Perhaps...if the Emperor was powerful enough to prevent or survive the destruction of the second Death Star.

But, watching it this time, I don’t think it matters. It is OK if Vader’s redemption doesn’t matter to the universe at large. It’s enough for it to stand on its own.

It does seem a bit too easy, though. Presumably it wasn’t, as Vader is dying afterwards. But the film doesn’t really communicate the effort required or the injury...

10 February 2016


From “A Tribute to VMware Workstation, Fusion, and Hosted UI”...

Yesterday morning, the Hosted UI team, responsible for VMware’s Workstation and Fusion products, woke up to find themselves out of a job.

It has been reported that the team has been replaced by outsourcing. Back to the article quoted above...

VMware claims they’ll continue to exist, and I really hope that’s the case. I like to think what we built will continue to live on, and I hope VMware does it justice.

The problem isn’t whether these products go into maintenance mode or not. The outsourced team might be every bit as good as the original team.

The problem is that this isn’t something that a company with smart leadership does. It’s hard to find good people. That may be the hardest part of the technology business. This is the epitome of penny wise and pound foolish.

09 February 2016

Does it affect tone?

Stop me if I’ve said this already...

If you find yourself asking whether something affects the tone of an electric guitar...

(...which means we aren’t talking about something that obviously affects tone...)

...the answer is: Yes, but not a lot.

You may or may not be able to hear it. It’s likely that listeners (especially once you consider any media between you and your listeners) won’t.

08 February 2016

Classic D&D ability score shifting thought

I have written about how I dropped intelligence from my Skylands classic D&D campaign. And about how I might like to replace it with quickness. And how the scores might be grouped into three related pairs.

One reason for pairing them is that at least one of my players thought that dexterity and quickness should be related. That it should be unusual for them to be very different. (While I argue that I myself am a example of them being fairly different. While I—at least in my youth—had decent dexterity, I have never been quick.) Anywho...what I want to talk about today is this idea:

All six scores are rolled separately. In each of the pairs (strength and constitution, dexterity and quickness, charisma and wisdom), the higher score my be lowered and the same number of points added to the lower score. But the lower score cannot be raised past the higher score.

e.g. I roll 10 for dexterity and 14 for quickness. I could raise dexterity to 11 by lowering quickness to 13. I could raise dexterity to 12 by lowering quickness to 12. But I couldn’t raise dexterity past 12.

Since I use the B/X modifiers, a smart player will consider the break points. e.g. If 17 was rolled for strength and 12 for constitution, it makes sense to lower the 17 to 16 because both have a +2 modifier while bumping the 12 to 13 goes from a +0 to a +1. I don’t think this is a bad thing.

On the other hand, I’m known to call for ability checks against the actual score, so—when that happens—the difference between a 17 and an 18 can be significant.

07 February 2016

Thoughts upon rewatching Star Wars: Episode V

After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...

There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.

Episode V: I would say that the conventional wisdom about this movie is this: Lucas’ weaknesses are writing and directing. Being able to afford to hire better writers and a better director makes Empire a better movie.

In the past I have cited this as the best of the series or vacillated between it and Episode IV. This time around, though—as I said before—I think IV is better than V.

The timeline seems off. Either the Falcon spends way too much time running from the empire, or Luke spends much too little time on Dagobah.

If you’re going to have hyperdrive to deal with the problem of interstellar travel, then you can’t have slower-than-light interstellar travel. If the first movie had glossed over interstellar travel, that would’ve been fine, but it didn’t. This movie not only embraces hyperdrive by making it a plot point, it also misses the implication. It would’ve been plausibility-stretching enough for Bespin to be close enough to Hoth (perhaps in the same system), but throwing the Anoat system in there as well... sigh

This viewing, Han came off as creepy to me rather than whatever the intention was.

I’m not sure if this was true before, but this time, I was constantly seeing that Yoda is a muppet. The scenes on Dagobah felt like a muppet movie. For good or ill. Probably both.

The first time I saw this movie, I assumed Vader lied. This time around, it feels like the entire movie is aimed towards that reveal. Like there’s no way it could be a lie.

When Yoda gives the reasons for why he won’t train Luke, he reminded me of a rabbi who turns a convert away three times. This scene isn’t really about whether he will train Luke. How could he not? Rather, this is a lesson for Luke.

If you take the things Yoda and Obiwan tell Luke at face value, they end up being very wrong. But they’re not stating facts. They’re expressing their fears. Yoda himself tells us in another movie that, “Fear is the path to the dark side.” Interesting that, in this scene, Yoda and Obiwan are afraid, and Luke isn’t.

06 February 2016

Content blocker is not a euphemism

We’re told that “content blocker” is just a euphemism for “ad blocker”, but it is not.

Consider Board Game Geek. I visited that site today with my content blocker active. I saw ads. I clicked on two of them, and there’s a chance I end up spending money on what one or both of them led me to.

The ads that my content blocker blocks? Ads I would have ignored. Ads that are so annoying they may have keep me from even bothering to read the content of the site they are supposedly supporting.

And, my content blocker blocks annoying content that isn’t ads.

05 February 2016

Winter NAMM 2016

The only thing that really stood out to me this year was the Digitech Trio+, which looks awesome.

I was happy to see the Roland Blues Cube Hot, and that it had a black option. But it seems to be lacking the “dual tone” mode of the Stage and Artist models.

At first I was interested in the new Vox Starstream, until I learned that its synth sounds were only monophonic. There was a time when that was acceptable; that time is past.

I don’t know if this one was at NAMM, but I’m happy to see the Positive Grid Bias Head. I’ve really wanted to see one of the highly-tweakable computer amp simulations available in an actual amp. Instead of taking a laptop (or even an iPad) on stage, why not have an amp with the same software in appliance form?

(Granted, we’ve had software amp simulations in amps and pedals for a long time. But having the same sims on your computer and an amp/pedal is what seemed to missing to me.)

I’m not sure if its right for me, but it is a good direction.

05 January 2016

Star Wars (Ep4) as argument against adaptions

I’ve often cited Star Wars (Episode IV) as an example for why movies shouldn’t be adaptions. Lucas synthesized myriad influences into a new (yet not new) work that is a better film than all but a few direct adaptions. (And many of the better adaptions wandered far enough afield as to arguably not be adaptations.)

Likewise, I’m not a fan of intellectual property and especially any form of intellectual property that restricts adaptions. The execution means more than the idea. The “owner” of the original idea should have no claim on the execution—the hard work—of others; and the execution shouldn’t be restricted by the “owner” of the original idea.

But Lucas wanted to make a Flash Gordon film. He made Star Wars because he couldn’t get the rights.

So, ironically, my example of why you shouldn’t create an adaptation only exists because of intellection property rights.


04 January 2016

Thoughts upon rewatching Star Wars: Episode IV

After seeing Episode VII, we rewatched the previous films. Some thoughts...

There may be spoilers for Episodes I through VI below! ...but none for Episode VII.

Episode IV: The first time I saw this movie I would’ve been about 8yo. I thought Darth Vader and the stormtroopers were robots. I was completely unprepared to appreciate it. Without home video, the comic adaption and The Story of Star Wars recording were more the Star Wars I grew up with rather than the movie.

This movie is so good. A mash-up of fairy tale, Flash Gordon movie serials, and WW2 films. Not to mention all the literary influences snuck in there. No extraneous exposition. The “used future” design.

Younger me would have criticized it for the implausibility of light sabers, the airplane-like movements of space ships, and the impression of sound in space.

(Not that space shots need to be silent, but I appreciate it when the reality of no sound in space is respected. Maybe we get the sounds from within one of the ships. In the Star Wars movies, however, there are clearly sounds that are meant to be read as happening in space.)

But from the (paraphrased) “once upon a time in a faraway land” that it opens with, it is clear that those criticisms are not appropriate.

My nitpicks today are: Why do they have to fly down that trench to fire at the exhaust port rather than flying straight down at it? (Made even worse by the way the torpedoes are depicted as having to make a 90° turn to enter the port.) How can they detect the TIE fighters approaching but no one notices the Falcon’s arrival? But those are—indeed—nitpicks. They are important elements even if they lack a little plausibility/explanation.

There are three things that ground this movie in the 1970s: Luke’s hair, the short sequence of actual 1970s-era computer graphics, and Han’s line about “female advice”.

The only reason the “Greedo shot first” revision bothers me is...how could he miss?

The one place the design of Star Wars completely failed for me was the light saber handles. Those things (and the toy replicas) are not pleasant to grip. Weapons have better grips than that. Which is highlighted by the fact that the blasters are real guns with greebles, and therefore, have sensible grips.

Previously, I believed that Lucas didn’t decide who Luke’s father was until he started on Episode V. Vader seemed like nothing more than Tarkin’s evil wizard. Although, the way Guinness plays the moment before Ben tells Luke about his father...that has read to me like he is making the decision to tell the lie. That was the one thing, previously, that made me think it might to be a retcon. But Luke’s father is mentioned enough that his identity is clearly meant to be significant. I’m now willing to accept that it wasn’t a retcon.

I think it succeeds at being the modern myth. It is the hero’s journey and perhaps the most relevant of traditional values told via the action/adventure motion picture.

Overall, I am even more impressed by this movie today than ever. I used to vacillate over whether Episode IV or V was the best of the series, but today I say unequivocally that IV is the best.