Tuesday, September 19, 2017

9 Answers that Don't Say You Like Me

I am perpetually getting this sort of explanation for why some posts don't get comments:
"... and I still don't know what I would say in response to it. Well, I can at least fell comfortable saying "bravo." ... BTW, this is a common occurrence after reading your longer winded thoughts and, I have long suspected, a reason why your best posts so often suffer from a lack of comments ..."

I'm choosing to believe people just don't know how to comment without sounding "sycophantic" ... which is something people also complain about to me all the time: "I would have said it was amazing, but I didn't want to sound s~"

So here are 9 possible choices for answers to a blog post that don't expressly say "I liked this" or "It was great" ~ statements that apparently make people here feel stupid, even though tremendously stupid-minded blogs I have seen have this stated dozens and dozens of times in the comments fields.  I am often in awe of how some addlepated blog meanderings get described as "brilliant post!" without anyone feeling sycophantic.

Oh well.

I suggest the gentle reader should try one of these.  They are expressed in the reader's first person.

1.  This made me think.  I [formerly believed/still believe] that [my opinion] was true.  This [has/hasn't] given me reason to change my mind.  But I may be wrong.
Probably isn't an excuse to build up an argument or otherwise derail the comment into a long-winded description of your point-of-view, unless you can back it up with sources or sound, a priori reasoning.  But a simple statement one way or the other is perfectly fine.

2.  After reading this, I went to the [text/source/video] that you linked.  Here's what I found.
Simple, elegant, expands the conversation and brings the point back to the same inspiration that got me writing the post. Certainly looks like you hold your own in the conversation.

3.  This was something I [had/hadn't] heard before.  I [thought/had heard/had read] that [the point in question] was such-and-such, and not what you're saying here.  [Optional]: I have examples: [quote].
I haven't read everything or seen everything, so I'm always interested in someone else having the same idea or printed material which states categorically the opposite of what I'm saying.  I'm not really interested in someone's blog, but anything that is formally published material is of great interest.

4.  Hm.  I found my attention especially drawn to [this point] and [this point].
Does not expressly state if the points were agreed with ~ but it does help me zero in one what resonates with people who read the blog.

5.  Regarding [this point].  Would you be willing to elaborate further?
This one is a danger because trolls love to press this button.  I've found in the past that a troll will keep asking me to write more and more about a subject, just to see how many words I will pile upon words.  So I can't say that I'll necessarily oblige, but it is always nice to be asked ~ and if I am asked in a particular encouraging way, I'll probably step up.

6.  If [this] and [this] were true, it would probably mean [this].  Have I got that right?
Not everyone has the art of speculation in their veins ~ but speculation is a terrific conversation driver and I encourage it.  Even if you're completely out to lunch, there's the old argument that there are no bad ideas except not speaking.  A bad idea can often get good ideas going, since deconstructing ideas, both bad and good, solves problems.

7.  You once talked about this before [link if it can be find].  Has your opinion changed over the years?  Will it change?
Taking my temperature is a good way to get a back and forth started.  Giving your temperature as well, if you're up for it, is better - but perhaps you can get me to say something you'll feel more comfortable commenting upon.

8.  As long as you were willing to talk about [this], do you have an opinion on such-and-such?
I'm always hunting for new subjects for a post.  It can't hurt to give me one.  If I start getting a lot of them, obviously, I'll pick and choose - but I might get to everything eventually.  Remember, I started all these posts about monsters because a single reader mentioned that I had never written down my rules about dragons.

9.  A point I'll support.  I linked this to my [blog/facebook/twitter/whatever].
Positively the best thing in the world you can do for me, apart from supporting me on Patreon.  Being told that I'm liked or that a post of mine is liked is a very small thing.  Being willing to step up and connect YOUR NAME with something I've said is HUGE.  If you want to tell me how much you liked something I wrote, try this.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Say It

In the context of a proposed history podcast (because life continues), I have communicated some with a regular reader here who responded to the linked post.  We have been talking and this is something we're interested in doing.  It wouldn't be role-playing driven, though we might mention RPGs ... it would be the more difficult pretext of spitballing historical events, patterns and geography: either a particular moment, or a process that covers a lot of periods and cultures, or a specific cultural region.

We've been talking about an overview of the history of Korea, most likely from the late 1800s, in light of recent events ~ considering most people have little to no idea why or even when the peninsula was subdivided.

This reminded me of a Sam Kinison cameo in the 1986 film, Back to School, which was a fairly intellectual romp featuring Rodney Dangerfield.  Still a lot of fun.

No doubt about it.  I hold History sacred also.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Shot in the Head

Some who are connected with me on Facebook know that it's my birthday today.

I'm not going to stop blogging, not going to stop working on D&D and not going to give up the agenda.  But I definitely needed a break.

A lot of people have told me lately that every field has its morons and jerks, and that's right.  I never thought otherwise.  My chief problem isn't that the community is filled with morons and jerks; it is that other fields also include academics, experts and people of influence, who could conceivably find me worthy of inclusion ~ as has happened when I had taken time to be in theater, film, music and journalism.  Hell, I've met people like Colm Meaney, Rick Mercer and B.B. King (seriously) in a professional, laid-back, everyday manner. But there's no one like this that's meetable in role-playing games.  It's a wasteland.

Every once in awhile I get a cold slap in the face that reminds me that I picked a field that is intellectually shot in the head.  That was not a good decision; but I made it when I was young and stupid and thought this game could change the world.

Stuck now.  Not going to go out and do theatre now (though I could, I did a little acting in 2014 to pump up money for taking How to Run to Toronto).  Journalism, as it happened, was also shot in the head in 2009. I know only one film maker and, though he's great, a wonderful, talented guy, going places, he's not going to find work for me.

So here I am.

I've always really liked my birthday.  I guess that's because I'm a narcissist.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stream of Consciousness

Sometimes I write just to figure things out.

I write about four hours a day.  That's counting time spent on the blog, on the wiki, on things of my own interest, writing answers to emails and writing cover letters so that I can get myself a better job.  Some days I write more than four hours; rarely are there days when I write less than one.

I never spend a day when I'm not on a computer.  I get up in the morning and I sit at my computer and drink my coffee, watch the news and think of things to watch or read until I feel awake.  If I'm feeling low, after that I'll play a game, unless of course I have to go out and give my time to someone else.  If I'm feeling good, and I have the day free, I'll settle in to working around noon.  After that, most days when I have the day, I don't stop until I go to bed.

I take breaks.  I walk for an hour.  I give my Tamara a massage or we sit and talk for an hour, or we make plans for much longer; but when those plans are done I sit right back here and go right back to work.  Tamara loves me and she understands.  She likes watching me work and she likes what I do.

I figure I've spent about 1,000 hours this year, this far, writing.  I write more today than I did five years ago, or probably any time in my life.  I'm clearer.  I can think of more things to write about.  My mind seems to be endlessly fertile.  I get ideas all the time.  More often than not, I'm get to working on something in exclusion of my ideas and they are lost to the wind.  And I don't mind, because I know another idea will come.

These last seven or eight months, I've been seeing a counselor.  I know, I know, I said in July I was going to stop talking about my private life and I'll keep to that as best I can.  Just to cover some fundamental details, my father is in permanent care in a hospital for Alzheimers.  He thinks he's in the year 2046 and that he's being watched by aliens.  It is extraordinarily difficult to visit him.  I'm living in a bad situation right now, not one I would choose to live in.  I can't get a job that treats me with respect.

And I can't seem to write this damn book about Herzog and Ruchel, that I call the Fifth Man.

More than anything, I've been seeing the counselor about that.  About why I can't write this book.  We've talked our way all around it, in fifteen different ways, and it just doesn't seem to get anywhere.  I haven't seen the counselor since the beginning of August and at that time, we agreed, it just isn't going anywhere.  He suggested I should take a long break and think.

I've been thinking.  Those sessions had some value.  I would think about things and feel a release of stress and begin to work on the book.  I took myself back to the beginning of it and worked through the 17 chapters to the present all over again, reworking the second draft, then felt ready to refinish the book by writing from chapter 17 to the end.

Then, nothing.  Nothing.  Ten weeks now.  Nothing.  I look at that notification on the blog and I want to tear it down, make it go away.  My readers see that notification and wonder.  I can't take it down.  But it is eating the shit out of me and I don't know why I can't write this book.  I can write and write and write about anything else, everything else, comfortably, peaceably, enjoying the process of writing, not feeling short of words or that I'm struggling, but not with this.  Just not.

I've had these things happening lately.  These frustrating, ego-wrecking things, not my fault, just shit going on around me I had a long time friend on the Internet go nuts on facebook a month ago, doing that thing a lot of us saw after Chancellorsville, comparing the racists against the liberals and treating them like two sides of the same coin, false equivalency ... and it hurt because he went straight to that aggressive place where he struck for the most hurtful arguments he could reach for; and I unfriended him and left it there, okay, happens, no big deal.

I got into the fight with an artist about an image I used for the monsters on the wiki, not a very good image, not really, but of course I took it down immediately; and then I gave an answer and got back this level of vitriol, unbelievable vitriol, from the artist's wife of all people, real 4chan stuff ... and I laughed and blocked the thing and didn't answer.  And again, no big deal.

Then there was that thing with the Pathfinder wiki, which shouldn't challenge my sense of wellbeing; connor gave me a great response to that, saying that "Very little of it is home brew collaboration" ~ and that made me feel better, definitely better, so it really isn't a big deal, it isn't.

And yesterday a friend put my Wishes entry off the wiki onto a private DM site on facebook, which I applied for and got into, and ... oh gawd.  Nearly 200 comments of people who clearly did not read the post (there was no impact on the viewer numbers), spewing the most toxic D&D crap imaginable, no one talking about anything I said because clearly no one went to the link, but immediately exploding into endless self-righteous bullshit about rules as written and I do this and I do that, and no one listening or seriously responding to anything that anyone else wrote, just there to write to see their own words in print.  Awful.  Really awful.  Just the sort of thing that convinces me the community is broken, hopelessly broken, beyond broken.  A lot of hateful, spoiled brats.

And no big deal.  Nothing to do with me.  But I've been looking at D&D today and wondering, where would I be if I had been interested in anything else?  If I had a blog about real estate or economics or fishing, anything else.  Where would I be?  Because just now I am seeing this hateful bullshit on the net and trying to deal with having connected myself to this, this albatross, this painted ship on a painted ocean, writing four hours a day for the same 250 people, with no hope of ever reaching anyone else, ever bringing about any change, ever getting this damn bird off my fucking throat.

Where would I be?  What if I just went and spent ten years writing about something else, to someone else, to adults, to people who can talk about their interest without having to hide their face in shame, without having to explain every time that yes, I'm actually designing a game, yes, I'm wasting my time, apparently, because I'm not writing a blog about Canadian politics or the aerial photography or theatre arts.  What am I doing here?  With this?  What?

I'm so inaccessible, you know?  So inaccessible.  I can be calm and friendly and answer questions and give the best help I can, but I can't seem to get myself down to where I'm dumb enough to be popular.  Even now, this, this strange thing I'm doing, this writing, where my hands are flying over the keyboard like I'm playing piano, and it feels like music to me ... this thing I'm doing ... it's more words than I'm supposed to write.  I'm over a thousand words now and I've been writing for all of 25 minutes, just 25, no pauses, no breaks, the music just pouring out, pouring steady, stream of consciousness ... just trying to work out a thing that's been on me all day.

If I can't be popular, is there a way I could at least write about something people would, I don't know, be educated enough to read first before spewing an opinion.  Not even original opinions, just the same bullshit opinions that have been spouted about wishes since the beginning of the game; the same stuff my 16 year old friends and I used to say, all the things about wishes that make them such a broken, awful, abusive, crippled part of the game. Jeez, if I were writing about water-filtration systems in Western Canada I could conceivably get the readership I have now in ten years and I wouldn't have to deal with people being infantilized swine when someone linked my blog or my wiki to another site.  There might be a dim chance that someone in a university or connected with the government might think, "That Alexis, he's making some good points, he's done his research," instead of, "If a player of mine wished for a sandwich I'd find a way to fuck him."

Being this inaccessible, there's no chance that anything reputable would look at me twice.  I'm just another one of them.  Another freak.  Another dick.  One of them.

There's no future here.  No future.  I always wanted a future.  That was the goal.  That's what artists think.  They think about the future, about having one.

The only damn future I have is in that damn book I can't write.

I shouldn't publish this.  I shouldn't.  It's too personal.  People will take it personally.  People won't get it, won't empathize, won't understand.  I'm too inaccessible.

Too inaccessible for D&D, that's for sure.

Should not publish this.

Should not.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Four Elements

On each of the inhabited continents, the same four elements were distinguished as building-blocks for all the substances that could be observed: earth, air, fire and water. Within the game world, it is accepted that these four elements exist, and that they represent the Four Elemental planes. However, science indicates clearly, even in the Dungeons and Dragons world, that science dictates the existence of many more elements than four, and that tradition practices as followed in Earth's history were a load of rubbish.

To be sure, to retain the effects of magic and the presence of elemental beings, both science and elemental theory must be true ~ with the latter explaining many of the magical effects that science cannot explain. Examples of elemental influence on reality would include ...

(continue reading)

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The reader doesn't mind if I just keep posting monsters as I make them, nyet?  Very well, the Djinn (I have a different take on it):

Formerly worshipped in pre-Islamic Arabia, these beings have been mischaracterized by sources as air elementals, geniuses as appear in Roman mythology, angels, demons and wicked spirits. In fact, like other hemitheioc creatures, these beings are something like mortal demi-gods, comparable to heroes who are born of one divine and one mortal parent. They have no known origin, except that it is believed that whenthe world was created, the djinn were created also.

Djinn inhabit the plane of Jannah, the Arabic paradise, where they grant wishes to the loyal and pious dead to dwell there. It has been told that these are the jinn that remain following the cull of the Pre-Adamites, djinn who were killed by ...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Crann Bethadh

Also called the Tree of Life, that grew from the womb of the center of all creation. Among the Norse, the tree is called Yggdrasil. The tree exist outside the Prime Material Plane, and in fact enfolds all planes of existence: the outer planes, the astral and ethereal planes, the elemental planes and the negative and positive planes. Crann Bethadh exists as the axis mundi that supports all the planes and whose branches interweave between the planes and create passages from one plane to another.

Though there are hundreds of planes of existence, conceived of by every culture, both in the Prime Material and elsewhere, Crann Bethadh encapsulates them all. Most cultures vastly underestimate the ...


Because of fairy tales such as The Ridiculous Wishes or The Monkey's Paw, the value of making a wish in the Dungeons & Dragons game setting has always been subject to a thematic taint. It is unclear, from the style of a particular DM's play, whether or not the existence of the wish is a game feature or an opportunity to produce a spontaneous morality play, with the DM as moralist. Thus players have been required to produce exact words of uncompromising perfection when stating a wish, as an effort to restrain the DM from twisting the intended meaning of the wish and thus punishing the player for daring to use this ridiculously dangerous stab-yourself-in-the-chest ability.

D&D is not a morality play or story and the rules that apply to wishes must restrict the DM as much as the player. The DM cannot be allowed to use his or her discretion. Everyone using a wish should have a clear and reasonable idea of its effect and limitations, enabling them to employ this magic without fear of arbitrary consequence.

The Fundamentals of Writing Monsters

There's a lot about some of these monsters that I feel misses the point.  If we look at a basic description of something like, say, the displacer beast, first we get a picture, then we get a description of the picture, which is really nothing more than filler.  Usually, the description doesn't even match the picture (the image does not show the tentacles sprouting from the creature's shoulders, but from the middle of its back, in a very poor representation).

Then we read about some special ability, "the displacement" feature, in terms of why the ability exists ("light-bending illusion") which does not actively say what happens if you try to compensate for it or bother to describe the effects of hurled missiles at said illusion.  The original monster manual (not the linked site) gives the displacer beast a -2 AC for the ability, which is paltry to say the least, and completely boring as shit to say what's deserved.

Then we get some meaningless vague references to the beast's ancestors, the attempts to breed the beast (with no rules or mention of the players doing this themselves), a list of creatures the beast could supposedly be bred to kill (I'm sure a cow and a horse would also work) and an argument that you can't breed the beast because it is too evil.  I have no idea how they're able to "use their malevolent intelligence to escape their masters" because this isn't explained; the beast doesn't phase, after all, it is a light-bending illusion, so what? The masters feel intellectually required to leave the cage door open?  We're not told. Shut up, accept this as dogma and move on.

Then we get a short account of why displacer beasts and blink dogs hate each other.  How is this useful?  Are there going to be a lot of adventures where it will be really important to parties to not have blink dogs and displacer beasts attacking each other?  Seems to me, humans and displacer beasts will attack each other on sight too, without the need for Seelies.  Many creatures everywhere will attack one another on sight. So what?  How am I getting information on making an adventure if I choose to throw one of these things at a party?

claws and teeth only for show
This is the problem overall with monster manuals as I read them.  They are giving the wrong information.  When I'm writing these beasts, I'm trying to establish three things: where are they found; what can they do; why would they interact with a party?  Being found is generally easy; I'm putting them in some vegetation and climate, somewhere on the Earth.  What they can do requires a little more than just saying they have tentacles: how far can the tentacles swing, how does the displacer beast use them ~ and if the beast is also a cat, why doesn't it also have cat-like attacks?  
My monster manual just gives 2 attacks for the tentacles and ignores the big teeth and claws that are depicted on the old displacer beast image. How does that make sense?

Too, I want something more meaningful for the displacer beast's "displacement" ability than a light show.  Really? That's as imaginative as we can get?

Finally, I need some kind of rational written into the monster for what would happen if a party might encounter the creature.  Would the creature attack them, and if so, how?  By what method?  At what point might the creature run away.

One thing I like about the wiki, if I think of something new, if something comes up in the middle of a game, I can go and fix the page immediately, upgrading it as necessary.  Putting it on the internet might (conceivably) have someone point out a flaw or a context that can add to any given monster that's been written.  It is an ongoing process, rather than a stale rewrite of a rewrite of a rewrite, which is what the fifty versions of displacer beast are that you can find online since its first depiction in 1979.  If there are more answers to those three purposes ~ where, what, why ~ it can be added later.

If you want to read my take on the displacer beast, you can find it on the wiki.

50 Monsters ... Bleh

50 Monsters.

More accurately, 50 wiki pages of monsters, because I'm not counting cases where I created both the ordinary and giant version of monsters (three types of crocodile), I'm not counting extra links to describe the details behind devils and demons and I'm not counting the dragon posts at all that began this recent effort, for the merest OCD reason that they're not in order and therefore they don't count.

Nor am I counting work I didn't do at all, for it should be noted that Tim has contributed work on firenewts, floating eyes, giant frogs, large frogs, huge frogs, killer frogs (though killer frogs are appearing in my online Juvenis campaign, Tim went with a traditional description) ~ so many frogs! ~ gargoyles, gelatinous cubes, hyenas, moas, ostriches and rheas.  Ozymandias has hunted around for a wide variety of very helpful pics.  It has been a great effort.

The hardest moment came when I was sent this link related to Pathfinder.  The sender's motive was meant to be encouraging, but I have to admit that I'm simply not capable of producing this degree of content: I don't have the resources and I don't have this much help.  As such, seeing it laid out, then comparing it to my meagre effort, is somewhat soul-crushing ... I can only sustain myself by seeing that pages like this description of the bedlam are filled with such gobblydegook and functionality references that the actual content is tedious and arcane ~ unless you happen to play pathfinder.

I want to believe that the material I'm producing is both accessible and suggestive, even if you don't play my system or don't play at all.  I couldn't even steal from the Pathfinder source ~ I did a listing on black pudding and there was nothing in the Pathfinder version's "ecology" that wasn't basically described in my original monster manual from 1979.  That's not much forward development.

Here I hesitate.  I'm not certain I should bring up this next point; it smacks of self-importance and egotism, of which I'm accused all the time and which I don't wish to confirm.  But the way I feel about that huge Pathfinder wiki ~ is that how the Gentle Reader thinks about me?  Am I, well, not exactly crushing souls, I haven't created that much content, but am I undermining your desire to work on stuff?

Okay, you'll jump down my throat and tell me "fuck no," and believe me, that's a good thing.  But I know how I felt after I saw that Pathfinder wiki and it was totally a sense of "oh gawd, why am I even bothering."  It was three or four days before I could get myself to work on another monster, and then only because I said I'd do 50 before I quit ~ and shit, if it didn't happen that the last two monsters were a demon and a devil.

I could have done something else, a caribou or a coffer corpse, something beginning with C, to satisfy my OCD.  But I meant to go through the monster manual before doing other things (though I cheated and added the giant bat).  I could have done two demons, but I had planned to do one type of multi-type monsters like demons, devils, dragons, giants and such, though I meant to do all the versions of the natural multi-types, like beetles, bears, snakes, etc.  For whatever loony, mentally bastardized reason, I found myself sitting at 48 monsters, with Demon and Devil in front of me, this miserable doubt cast by the Pathfinder wiki kicking me in the face and I just felt ... bleh.

It's been tough finding the motivation to dig through the demon and devil and make sense of those types, to give them character and motivation, and to get out of the doldrums of "just another monster."  I'm glad I did, I'm glad I had the source material, I'm glad people liked the work (the wiki numbers were really high) and said as much.  So great.

It isn't that unfair for me to ask if others have had this experience with me ... or, obviously, with everything else that's out there in the universe, encouraging you not to work on your world because why, jeez, what for, it's all be done already, even if the doing was kind of rotten.  Why do all that work just to repeat work that's already been done?

I guess, for me, it at least teaches me something.  It at least creates a problem that I can solve and learn about things in the process of solving.  But gad, yeah, sometimes it just feels like I'm a little flea picking at the skin of a dog that's going to scratch me onto a carpet just before the vacuum of Mrs. Nature rolls over me.

Well, fifty monsters.  Yay.  Sort of.  I could probably do another one.  A displacer beast is fairly straight forward.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

38 Year Anniversary

Today is the 38th anniversary of the first time I played D&D, which is also the first time that I heard of D&D. That's a long time, and as it goes on it gets harder and harder to remember those early days and what they were like.

The right post to write to ask, I suppose, is what have I learned?  Hm.  I can't make a good treasure table.  Most attitudes about the game come from people who have played it for three to five years (the length of high school and college), people who are either ready to quit or have become so established in their game play that they cease to question.  I've learned that I've been working on my world longer than any rational person ought to and that I'm still game to keep going.

I've learned a great deal about the world I would never have learned had I not been hunting along book shelves and through the internet for ideas.  I've learned that I have the sort of obsessive personality that would have been better pointed at being a lawyer or a researcher, except that I was just too damn creative and resistant in my character.  I've learned that its possible to make some headway as a random, obscure, disconnected designer but no more.  I've learned that given time and greater access to educational materials that I ever thought possible has enabled me to solve magificent problems that were, 20 years ago, insurmountable.

I've learned to wait for the next idea.  I've learned that wikis are a better world-building friend than anything else I've known.  I've learned that players are plentiful, so long as the light above the DM is bright enough. I've learned that good players are annoying, stubborn, self-aggrandizing, stultified in their habits and the only people really worth running for.  I've learned that I'm worse than everybody.

I've learned how young I was 38 years ago.  I've learned how stupid I was.  How little I understood.  How deluded were my ideas.  How much time I would be forced to waste before I would begin to see.  How many hundreds of hours I would burn making tables and charts and lists that would, in the end, be thrown away or simply lost, from lack of worth and lack of use.  I've learned that everything I made or drew or ran in the first 15 years of being a DM was destined not to survive to the present, at least not the form that it does now.  I've learned that all of that period was like living in a chrysalis, in which the only valuable product that had to come out of that mess and stumbling around was me.  I wasn't making a world, I was making me.

Not that it matters, because I've learned it had to be that way.  All that time had to be spent.  I can't express how many useless times I tried to create a treasure table without ever once coming up with a working answer.  No matter.  I had to learn.  I had to see.  I had to come around to where I am not by the longest route possible because all the short routes don't have enough scenery.

I've learned that making a game and a world has very little to do with what I've done.  It is all about what I'm going to do.

Devilish Culture

Having completed the work I mean to do on the background of demons, I am still cleaning up the background of devils.  This has been a long, hard fight but I am getting it under control.  Thankfully, I don't have to do any background like this again until I get to giants.  And I will probably put monster making on a shelf long before then.  If nothing else, some readers are learning some interesting things about the profound depths of human mythology.

So, the culture of devils.

Devils are beings from the Lower Planes of Existence, dwelling almost exclusively in the planes of Hades and Hell, who serve the purpose of torturing the malevolent dead as a means of cleansing the soul. This has gained them the reputation for being disturbingly malevolent themselves, and this is quite a common description for most of the individuals, particularly among ...