Review – The Trousers of Time

It’s the simplistic way of explaining the multiverse theory. Whenever we make a decision we simultaneously travel down each and every path, and the universe divides like a pair of trousers with versions of us travelling down on leg each. I don’t like it… it has several huge issues. I prefer universal spaghetti. Here’s why:

We are living components in the most complex Rube Goldberg machine ever, but replace marbles for particles and elaborate conjoining mechanics with fundamental forces. The trajectory of every fragment from the very instant of expansion sets into motion a pattern that would be predictable if you can observe every part. A mass gathers in one location rather than another, a planet forms around a sun that’s astonishingly similar to ours, life begins, crawls onto land, and after several false starts forms a creature that raises a civilisation with a calendar, a complex social structure, and a biology that relies use of tools to survive the environmental phenomena.

The biggest difference between that universe and ours? A meteor strike that would have gone into Jupiter’s outer orbit instead collides with Earth, causing a temperature shift that alters the weather patterns for a few hours just enough to change cloud density, and I decide to wear a coat. In one world I’m too cold and feel like an idiot for leaving it behind, in the other I’m too warm and feel like an idiot for not grabbing a hoodie instead.

Did I still make a decision? Did I still divide universes in two? No, I don’t have that kind of agency. If the meteorological circumstances had been identical and yet I’d made two different choices, then there is an inherent difference between each version of me caused by genetic or environmental differences. Maybe that me has a thinner coat, it looks the same but somewhere in the design process in the manufacture of the coat made a thinner fabric, that affects my decision to wear a coat or not. Or circumstances involving a surprising number of complicated changes of local behaviour meant that I couldn’t buy the coat I currently own and ended up with a different one.

We simply do not have the agency to divide universes, that kind of power in theory only comes about when we manage to observe or navigate between universes, and personally I think that’s when things get more interesting, even time travel starts to make sense and a little extradimensional.

So, at the moment we have a sphere of infinite size that comprises the universe of which we know anything. We have an infinite sphere of universes that comprise all possible outcomes that could have arisen from the initial expansion, every possible permutation of probability. Now imagine that an individual manages to travel through time. The universe in which he arrives is functionally identical except that he has appeared and altered the course of all events, and if he can return to his own time he can never return to his own universe* because he just goes to a future which is changed.

The theoretical existence of time travelling anything be it people, particles, or arthropods with weird defensive measures, creates another layer of infinite possibility, spheres within spheres, and then if you start layering up that’s when things start looking like a Tool video. Tool videos rarely resemble trousers, and vice versa.

So here’s the world we live in. Things happen. You can’t change them. You couldn’t have chosen otherwise, your genetics, circumstances, and passing meteors all change the way you behave, and no matter how powerful you think you are you are a slave to the sloshy chemicals in your head. If you regret anything in your life, then… well stop it. The universe is the way it is, nothing could be anything other than the way it is, and right now these words are either making you feel better about your lot in life, or worse, or neither, and you can’t control that, or how that will affect your behaviour in the future.

In short, this is what there is, go and attend to it. Or learn how to travel between universes, that would also be awesome, actually that would be amazing, an escalation to four-dimensional existence, possible biological changes allowing for… this is a tangent that I’m not going on. Read The Long Earth, watch Sliders, something. Go have fun.

Joel Out.


*Unless he already occupies the universe in which he arrives, that’s “perfect” time travel, and is highly unlikely to have happened in our universe. That sucks but we might still have a few universe-hoppers.

Top 10 – GeekOut UK Moments

So it has come, the final Top 10 of our existence as a geek social group. To those who aren’t aware, we’ll still have our Discord channel, where I hope to be able to share some geek positivity, but we’ll be no doubt more focused on video games on there. However, if you’re a geek of any description, come join us. Nevertheless, Joel and Timlah have been at work, sussing out what have been some of our Top 10 GeekOut UK Moments. We think we’ve come up with a fair list.

So it has come, the final Top 10 of our existence as a geek social group. To those who aren’t aware, we’ll still have our Discord channel, where I hope to be able to share some geek positivity, but we’ll be no doubt more focused on video games on there. However, if you’re a geek of any description, come join us. Nevertheless, Joel and Timlah have been at work, sussing out what have been some of our Top 10 GeekOut UK Moments. We think we’ve come up with a fair list.

Continue reading “Top 10 – GeekOut UK Moments”

Merry Christmas from GeekOut UK

Yeah it’s past 8am which means it’s probably time to wake up! Or not, you know. You could have a lie in if you want. Whatever you’re doing this year, I just wanted to say a very merry Christmas from us here at GeekOut UK. I hope you have a fantastic holiday, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. The most important thing is to have some time off, perhaps you’ll spend it with your loved ones, or maybe you’ll spend some time catching up with your favourite TV series. What ever you do this holiday season, have fun, be safe and enjoy some good food and drink.

Yeah it’s past 8am which means it’s probably time to wake up! Or not, you know. You could have a lie in if you want. Whatever you’re doing this year, I just wanted to say a very merry Christmas from us here at GeekOut UK. I hope you have a fantastic holiday, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. The most important thing is to have some time off, perhaps you’ll spend it with your loved ones, or maybe you’ll spend some time catching up with your favourite TV series. What ever you do this holiday season, have fun, be safe and enjoy some good food and drink.

– Timlah & Joel

Dungeon Situational – The Arcadia Spell List

Some time last year I made this, the Pandemonium spell list. Well, it sparked something, and for a while now I’ve been picking away at a project that creates sixteen new wizard subclasses, one for each of the outer planes. Today I present the polar opposite of Pandemonium, Arcadia, a plane of law in the name of the greater good, the pursuit of perfection and harmony by rigid obedience and tireless work.

This will be the fifth complete wizard school, with Pandemonium, the Nine Hells, Mechanus, and Ysgard, with Hades and Limbo close behind. The completed product will be published somewhere as a downloadable pdf from The Shropshire Dungeon Master.

Continue reading “Dungeon Situational – The Arcadia Spell List”

GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet – December: Gift Wrapped

Hey Joel, why were you late to the last ever GeekOut pre-meet? Well I’d like to blame it all on the traffic, getting into town was something of a nuisance because of all the extra people trying to get somewhere, and yes, Frankwell carpark was rather full of shoppers. But to be honest, my tardiness began well before then, I was held prisoner in my own home, emotionally blackmailed and manipulated into staying put for as long as possible…

Anyway…

Pre-Meet – The Pour House

Non-alcoholic espresso martini, good stuff. Pre-meet was far more relaxed than average, nobody desperate to break out an early game, mostly conversation and relaxation, a little light commiseration on the end of an era but generally a cheerful face turned toward the future.

Main Meet

After last month I still hadn’t sorted the games out in my car, thanks to Callum for helping me out with that one, took us a while to load up the trolley and there were a couple of hairy moments with Zombie Dice and magic cards almost falling into the boot of the car and chaos ensuing but we made it through. Now, the future of the boot of my car looks even worse, as it is overburdened with parting/christmas presents. But seriously, thank you to everyone.

I had an early christmas present to play with, and I did… but honestly I got thoroughly stuck into a cycle of Resistance and visceral rage. Walk away, socialise, talk to people for a while, be ready to go again, get my feelings hurt by people I thought I trusted… Oh and Magic! Played some Magic.

There were hugs, plans were made, presents were exchanged… and then I guess we left! Wow, this one went really fast.

The Box!

Oh yes, I didn’t forget about this one! In January you pledged yourself to certain geeky targets for the year, but how many other groups will hold you to your word? New Years Resolutions are so much more meaningful when they come back to haunt you in December.

READ THE CARDS, THEY TELL NOT YOUR FUTURE, BUT YOUR PAST, BECAUSE PAST IS ALL THAT REMAINS!!

Next Time

Oh…

Top 10 Magical Rides

Sit the saddle, fasten your seatbelts, and remember the magic word, we’re about to travel by ways and means that science would keep from us. Thankfully, we have magic on our side to make the going easier, faster, and way cooler than any lame road-bound car or some stupid horse…

Actually horses are ok, but this is a list of magical rides, magical horses from here only, and only if they are worthy of our rigorous Top 10 standards.

GeekOut Top 10s

Sit the saddle, fasten your seatbelts, and remember the magic word, we’re about to travel by ways and means that science would keep from us. Thankfully, we have magic on our side to make the going easier, faster, and way cooler than any lame road-bound car or some stupid horse…

Actually horses are ok, but this is a list of magical rides, magical horses from here only, and only if they are worthy of our rigorous Top 10 standards.

Continue reading “Top 10 Magical Rides”

How To Top 10 (Like What We Do)

One of the greater pleasures of working for GeekOut has been the weekly Top 10s. They’re shamelessly pandering, entirely subjective, and we did them for the consistently high views they brought in, at least to start with. It turned into one of our greatest collaborative projects, not a difficult thing in terms of a writing challenge, but as a matter of cooperation, deliberation and debate it has been something that Tim and I have loved and hated, not quite in equal measure, but enough to motivate us week by week to produce something that many of you came back to us to read regularly.

So how do we do it?

GeekOut Top 10s

Thursday – Discuss

I’m frequently out on a Thursday night gaming at a local pub, and I frequently stand up to leave saying “Right, I’m going home to have an argument” which is only slightly hyperbolic. When we began the list it was purely via chat, constant recapping of our content and order, and it would take hours. When we made the move to a google doc it dramatically reduced the time this section took, dependent on how well we’d agree on definitions as they pertain to the heading of the list, or how well certain entries qualify. Some weeks, astonishingly simple and smooth, others infuriatingly long and filled with torturously long and granular deliberation.

It’s a simple process of positing a candidate. Many are self explanatory, some may require explanation if one or other of us are unfamiliar, or if the link to the title is not wholly obvious. Last week’s Suspiciously Cheerful Tunes as a prime example, my first suggestion for the list was Candy Man in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Little needed to be said, and despite it being my suggestion, Tim took the reigns of writing the entry, only missing the deific qualities of Willy Wonka ascribed to him by the song, otherwise capturing its essence, promise, a lure to damnation. Conversely, Tim had to give a quick summary of Porky Means Business, as I’ve never played Earthbound, and we had something of a debate between Drs. Horrible and Steel.

After we have sufficient entries, and maybe a few too many if it’s been a particularly fruitful topic. We’ll argue the merits of one entry over another, often earmarking certain outstanding entrants as going straight to the top three, or pushing them to the bottom for little consideration, with only a few changes made until we’re done. Finally we divide up the list between us to write, and call it an evening.

Friday – Write

The writing process often drives us to research more deeply than we initially intend. While some subjects we’re more than knowledgeable to spit out a couple of paragraphs, or perhaps having to kerb our enthusiasm and restrict how deep our explanation goes.

Sometimes we’ll add something that we know only as “common knowledge”, those things that you absorb as part of being part of the culture. Occasionally we are driven to extensive googling on the matter, sometimes cribbing off the compiled lists of others or simply delving into a topic until we uncover something. It makes the process of writing a matter of learning, and hugely beneficial. Courtesy of recent lists I now know a surprising amount about Pikmin for someone who has never played a single title in the series, the same with the Pink Panther, various mythologies, and Robin Williams.

Usually Tim takes command of the framing work, the introduction, and those intermediary paragraphs between sections, what we refer to as “the spiel”, although I take up the duty from time to time, especially if I’m light on entries I can viably write adequately, or if I have a particularly quiet Friday to look forward to.

Saturday – Publish

Once the blue button has been pressed on a Friday night there’s little left to do. The final product is complete with relevant screen captures, images, or videos for each entry, and finally the vote for the following week.

Once it was the case that Saturdays would see a discernible spike in viewership, these days we’ve attracted a high enough number of regular readers that Saturdays aren’t much more than a wiggle in our day-to-day viewership, and while it’s not so noticeable a thing as to ascribe entirely to the work we put into each and every Top 10, I for one consider the work we’ve put in over the years of collaboration on our lists a key factor in our own improvements as writers… or at least my own.

Honourable Mentions

It’s been a strange transformation over the years, but the honourables list began in our first list because we had too many bears that we couldn’t bear to omit. Over time we made adding a couple of extras to the ten mandatory, and over time that part of the list became a place for entries that were not quite right for the list but had some quality that expanded the definitions, thinking outside the box, but thinking about the box as it were.

You might say that we began riffing off WatchMojo, I’d like to think that these days we produce a more compelling list than they do, but now that we’re only a couple of days from our penultimate list, it feels right to reflect for a moment on the strangest highlight of our time on the internet.

Theros: What Is Ashiok Up To?

It’s astonishing to remember that Magic: the Gathering’s first foray into the Grecian myth inspired plane of Theros was six years ago… actually closer to seven, and for those of us who are interested in the lore and the ongoing narrative, there has been a lot crammed into that time! The formation of a new set of core-heroes, there war with the Eldrazi and Nicol Bolas, two of the biggest foes to threaten the multiverse, culminating in a war that resulted in some big, high profile deaths among the ranks of the Planeswalkers.

In all that time, we still don’t have a damn clue who or what Ashiok is, or what he/she is up to.

Also, I’ve seen references to Ashiok as male, or at least male pronouns so male pronouns is what I’ll be using, but still, let’s put that down as one of many markers that build upon the mystery of his identity and nature. There are no fixed points upon which to stand with the Nightmare Weaver, his face is a wisp of black vapour, pouring from between a pair of slender horns like a shroud, the lack of eyes making him inscrutable and disquieting. We do not know his plane of origin, but I’ve seen some solid support to the idea that he’s a former vizier of Amonkhet, his attire has similar designs, and his horns have a similar curve to God Pharaoh Bolas.

During the previous events of Theros, Ashiok managed to manipulate the particularly potent dreams of the polies (the people) and briefly created a god. He started wars, played puppetmaster to people in positions in power, and endeavoured to put the entire plane to sleep so that he could harvest their dreams forever. In a world where dreams can create deities, Ashiok is at his most powerful, which raises questions to his efforts in the War of the Spark, but presumably he simply answered the same call that summoned the others… actually, who’s the Wanderer- y’know what, that’ll take me too far off topic.

So, new Theros block, the land of the dead is “leaking” souls, following the return of a mysterious God of Destiny, Elspeth is also returning, a zombie planeswalker with a grudge against the gods. And Ashiok, he’s back, and appears to be better than ever. Having been rendered invisible to the gods, he’s free to pursue whatever machination he pleases, and I can damn-near guarantee that he’s got something to do with the return of the new god, and his affiliation – if not outright allegiance – with Phenax, the god of lies and his host of zombies, will no doubt be working in his favour somehow.

This looks like a mythological zombie apocalypse story, orchestrated by the god of lies, the real villain of the whole piece. That’s cool, undead centaurs, minotaurs, sirens, the works, it’s going to be great. But ultimately, there is a mystery that appeals profoundly to my sense of aesthetics, a creature that manipulates nightmares, it has no origin, and yet it has impossible power to manipulate minds and it toys with the motives of gods, all with a faint and disquieting smile. I like mindscapes, and the creatures that haunt them, I like the idea that belief creates gods – it’s the Pratchett fan in me – and I like blue/black mana decks. Ashiok is my kind of mystery, and I look forward to knowing more.

A brief moment of conjecture before I wrap this article up. I suspect that Ashiok is building a weapon, a new mega-horror like an Eldrazi but totally under his control that he can take home and seek revenge against… something. If he did come from Amonkhet it may be that he wants the world brought under his control and the remaining gods wiped from his path, but there are other planes, many others, and there are a handful that have been hinted at in a few post-war releases.

And a lot of Planeswalkers died recently, leaving the multiverse highly vulnerable, the Gatewatch is shattered and picking up their own pieces, Elspeth is going to have some personal stuff to deal with by the looks of things, confronting her own death and a few of her old Phyrexian demons… but there’s someone back in the picture with experience and talent for killing planeswalkers. And he’ll probably be keen to get into a fight with anyone screwing with people’s minds.

Looking To 2020

Let’s be honest with ourselves everyone; this year was kind of a mess. Not only are we coming to a close in the new year, but the political landscape of the UK was a mess. Regardless of your politics, regardless of your views, it was not an easy time for anyone. I’m not here to educate you about the state of the UK. Instead, I’m here to talk about what I’m looking forward to in 2020. From video games, through to what the next chapter is for me, this is a couple of points that I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into.

Continue reading “Looking To 2020”