The hardcover LCK is now available!

lck

It’s published through Lulu rather than Amazon. The price is a little ouchy ($34.95), but it’s solid and looks like it’ll stand up to the sort of intensive, exhaustive reading you should apply to my books. And if someone doesn’t approve of conlanging, it’s heavy enough to hurt when thrown at them.

It’s also a new edition! The typography is redone (same font as ALC); typos are corrected; and I’ve taken the opportunity to rewrite the aspects section, which has bugged me for years. I will update the softcover and Kindle versions sometime early in the new year (it’s too disruptive during Christmas season).

Oh, you want to hear more about aspects? Well, the problem is that terminology has become more precise. The traditional grammatical term “perfect” was used for a lot of things, but mostly for completives (the activity has been completed) or perfectives (the event is seen as a whole, not as a process).

“Perfect” should now be used for events of current relevance. It’s like saying “This happened, and you can draw the obvious conclusion from it.” E.g. “I’ve already eaten (so I don’t want dinner)”, or “John has arrived (so we can start the party)”, or “I’ve been to Greece (so I know all about gyros)”. “John’s arrived” also implies that John is still here, unlike “John arrived”; similarly “I’ve eaten” implies that I’m not hungry, unlike “I ate”. The Russian ‘perfect’ is really a perfective, while the French imparfait is an imperfective.

There was a discussion on Mefi about plausibility in fantasy (and related genres, like superhero comics). As there is inevitably in these discussions, some people argued that there’s no such thing. It’s all made up! It’s idiotic to expect any of it to make sense!

Retcon: this is so improbable that the Death Start actually ran on an Improbability Drive

Retcon: this is so improbable that the Death Star actually ran on an Improbability Drive

Since I write conworlding books, you can guess that I think this is a silly position.

  • It amounts to making all criticism of plot, story, and setting impossible. If anything goes, nothing goes better than anything else.
  • Implausibilities cause the reader to be confused, or to actively smirk at you. C.S. Lewis compared writing to driving sheep down the road: the sheep will go into any open gate to the left or the right. You don’t want to create diversions; it spoils the effect you’re trying for.
  • When anything goes, the story evaporates. If a danger is conjured up out of nothing on one page and disappears by authorial fiat on the next, the emotional temperature drops.
  • The idea that there are no constraints on a genre can really only be held by people who don’t understand it well– or at the least, by those who have never written it.
  • Let’s not discount the biggest reason fans argue about this stuff: it’s fun. We like to argue about why the eagles couldn’t carry Frodo and whether Superman’s toenail clippings remain invulnerable.

But the biggest reason is that fantasy depends on realism. We accept the fantastic elements because the rest of the story is realistic, and canny authors increase the realism in order to allow the fantasy. The classic example is LOTR. The plot structure is that of a quest; this only works as a story, and only has an emotional effect on the reader, if undertaking the journey takes time and effort. The novel underlines and relies on the facts that walking takes time, that people get hungry and tired, that swords hurt, that weather and darkness are dangerous, that baggage is not unlimited.

On a deeper level, LOTR works because it acknowledges that empires fade, that kings and leaders are fallible, that fighting battles scars soul as well as body, that gods can come to seem remote or weak, that the bravest may come from humble and unexpected quarters.

Tolkien is actually very miserly about doling out supernatural elements. Gandalf probably uses fewer spells in the entire trilogy than a beginning D&D wizard deploys in a single day. Rarity increases value, so the displays of power or terror are all the more effective.

It’s also widely realized that a good deal of the book’s power derives from its  deep worldbuilding. The allusions seem real (because, more often than not, they are real; they refer to something buried in Tolkien’s notebooks); the languages are gloriously real; the maps and appendices please our pedantic side.  (A lot of us probably know more about the history and geography of Middle Earth than, say, that of China.)

And the thing is, this use of realism is not a pure novelty of Tolkien’s; it’s a periodic infusion into fantasy and related genres. The very setting of most fantasy– medieval kingdoms, dusty cities, dark forests– was simply the everyday world of the Middle Ages. Alice and Oz updated the setting to modern times. Fritz Leiber’s sword & sorcery stories threw in a noir cynicism and grittiness. Game of Thrones keeps the medieval kingdoms but insists on the power politics, sexism, and brutality of the period. Writers like Neil Gaiman and Tim Powers toss out the medievalism to set stories in the present world, where magic is simply cleverly hidden.  China Miéville updates the politics with a healthy distrust of the old kings and lords. Star Wars, which is basically fantasy set in a science fiction atmosphere, was novel and believable in part because things looked battered and worn.  Frank Miller threw out the camp Batman of the ’60s and inserted realistic ’80s concerns, such as psychopathic criminals and nuclear war.  The latest Tomb Raider threw out the plastic dangerless pseudo-archeology and created a Lara Croft who was young, scared, and unsure of herself.

This sort of realism insertion is why Grant Morrison is wrong when he bellows ” ‘Who pumps the Batmobile’s tires?’ It’s a fucking made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!”  You can insert realism wherever you want to.  Focusing on the people who care for the Batmobile could be a great story.  (No, Alfred doesn’t create and polish all those gadgets by himself.)  Maybe they’re loyal little munchkins, but maybe they resent their nutball employer and can be bought out by the Penguin.

Now, let me get a straw man or two out of the way.

Most importantly, conworlding can get out of hand.  Tolkien himself was a victim: in his lifetime he never produced a sequel to LOTR, because he could never stop tinkering with the world. You do not need genealogies and flags and languages and train schedules for every nation on your planet. And even if you have all that, you shouldn’t try to cram it into your novel, since readers will choke on it.  Make a wiki or something.

(As a side note, though, Tolkien’s anglicization is probably an anachronism. Translating Jules Verne, you probably shouldn’t turn Jean Passepartout into John Goesanywhere; and similarly if a dude is named Maura Labingi, that’s just fine, you don’t have to turn it into Frodo Baggins.  I think readers these days allow or expect a little more conworlding in their stories.)

Also, you don’t have to explain everything.  Gaiman is my go-to example here: he rarely explains how his worlds work, and they’re all the better for it.  Some things can remain mysteries.

Next: realism isn’t all-or-nothing.  Obviously, we want at least some of the fantastic elements, otherwise you can’t put “fantasy” on the cover.  More subtly, you can be more realistic in some areas than others.  As I said, Tolkien’s quest depends on the journey to Mordor being a long, hard trek. For narrative reasons, he didn’t want to sprinkle welcoming inns or towns along the route. Thus the handwavium of lembas, an elven food that’s preternaturally light and filling. Still, it’s used honestly: when you’re out of lembas, you’re out of food.

Sometimes the unrealism is not in the fantasy elements, but in emphasis and omission. I just read the Council of Elrond chapter, and I have to say, there are peculiarly few allies that Elrond & Co. trust. The Fellowship turns out to be small enough to make a standard fantasy quest, with no more characters than we can keep straight.  It’s a bit like Mass Effect: the stakes affect the whole galaxy, everyone is amassing flotillas of spaceships, and yet every single crisis is handled by sending in a three-man commando team.  I’m not actually bothered by this, though I appreciate a little authorial handwaving to smooth things over.

As a corollary, Tolkien is of course not the only model. You can get away with a lot! The Princess Bride works despite its unreality– though good characters and good writing keep it from merely being twee.

(We have higher standards about plausibility these days… we’re used to naturalistic fiction, we don’t accept the supernatural quite so easily.  On the other hand, bear in mind that in their own fields, our predecessors were probably just as demanding. If the people listening to the Iliad heard the poet messing up details of bronze age armor or horse anatomy, I’m sure they let him know.)

Next: any fantasy or sf story come with certain gimmes– things we don’t question because they’re part of the basic scenario.  There’s no use worrying about how the One Ring affects the world physically– it’s supernatural, OK, and it’s what the story is about.  Do you accept the time travel in The Anubis Gates?  You’d better, because again, it’s what creates the story scenario.

The general rule, though, is that creators have to play fair.  Suspension of disbelief is not an infinite resource.  LOTR would have disintegrated if, on page 906, Tolkien had created an Anti-Ring which destroyed Sauron’s Ring. (Introducing it on page 56 is OK.)  Once Powers sets up the rules of time travel in Anubis, he respects them and never deceives the reader with them. In such worlds, it’s an added pleasure for the reader to try to understand the rules of the world and predict how they’ll play out.

We can also inherit a few gimmes from earlier literature. We still use the dragons and wizards and magic weapons of medieval epics.  Superman has eyebeams because, basically, that was what science was like when he was invented: new physical fields and forces were being discovered at a dizzying rate. Comics just never got the memo that it’s now all about reducing everything to a few phenomena.

I should also note that just as you can inject more realism, it’s sometimes effective to take it out. The Saints Row video games are a good example: they were never exactly journalistic-level exposes of criminal gangs, but they only improved as they downplayed the gang warfare and emphasized the fantasy (and characterization).  However, this move generally works best when you’re moving into comedy, or at least less seriousness.   (Though it can also be a welcome respite from too much grimdark.  After Miller, there wasn’t much to gain in making Batman nastier; thus the relatively lighter tone of the animated series.)

I think there’s two kinds of plausibility gaps: those we notice while reading or watching, and those that only come up while discussing the work over pizza.  On the whole, only the first kind is really harmful to the experience.  I was disgusted in the movie theater when the Force turned out to be a bacterial infection.  On the other hand, I don’t really care when playing Oblivion that there are obviously more bandits than citizens in Tamriel.

Of course, it’s nice when a conworld is convincing enough that it stands up even to rigorous prodding.  And I’d add that conworlding doesn’t, as one might expect, impede storytelling.  On the contrary, it creates storytelling opportunities.  I remember looking at the maps in LOTR and wondering what Harad and the Sea of Rhûn were like. I’ve been asked many questions about the less documented areas or ages of Almea. The more you know about a place, the more questions there are. (Star Wars or the Marvel Universe aren’t impeded by the weight of conworlding; they’re impeded by the sheer bulk of story.)

If the guidelines above seem vague– well, that’s the final lesson.  Despite the tone of some nerd arguments, these are matters of art and skill, not ISO standards.

After a few requests, I’ve decided to put out a hardcover version of the Language Construction Kit. I’m also taking the opportunity to create a new edition (1.2): better typography, correction of typos, referring to the SCA2 instead of the SCA, and an update of the text.  I’m updating the text now, then there will be the usual process of proofing before it’s available.  This will be a different distributor so I don’t know how fast they are, but it should be done in a month or so.

lck

One reason I’m announcing this now, before it’s done: if there are errors you’re aware of in edition 1.1, feel free to e-mail me to make sure they’re corrected, preferably sometime in the next few weeks.

(I will update the paperback and Kindle versions once the hardcover is done, some time in the new year.)

Xephyr from the ZBB suggested a combined LCK + ALC hardcover.  I think that’s a great idea and I’ll probably make that available too, once the LCK alone is done.

Edit: Revising is done, and I’ve ordered the proof copy.

First off: if you haven’t read Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, go get the first two volumes.  Read my mini-review if you like.

Moore’s basic approach is to mine the sf, fantasy, and thriller literature of a period and create a world where it’s all true. Then he takes the top fictional talent of the age– preferably those with a louche edge– and makes them into a superhero team. In The Black Dossier he applies the technique to a wider time range, and in Century he applies it to the years 1910, 1969, 2009. On the whole Dossier is more weird than satisfying, while Century eases up on the weirdness enough to tell a story.

loxg-century

Dossier is about itself: Mina and Allan, now gifted with eternal youth after finding Ayesha’s pool from King Solomon’s Ring, swipe the Black Dossier from MI5 which sketchily chronicles three hundred years of the League’s history, from Queen Gloriana (an exalted version of the first Elizabeth) to 1958. They’re pursued by the aggrieved agents of the crown, including James Bond and Emma Peel, but mostly it’s an excuse for Moore to throw out various pastiches and to knit together dozens of fictional worlds, from Shakespeare to Jules Verne to Fanny Hill to George Orwell.

It’s clever and ambitious, but for me it doesn’t really work, as Moore for once has neglected to provide a story. There’s a chase scene and some fighting, but there’s no attempt at any danger or change. The book ends with a headache-inducing section in 3-D, which attempts to rehabilitate an old racist British children’s book character, the Golliwog– he’s a black matter alien, you see, and “zijn geslacht is kolossal”. Not the most sensitive rehabilitation of a racist caricature ever.

Anyway, the book ends in the “Blazing World”, a version of the Immateria from Promethea. Moore’s idea is that the world of the imagination is more real than the real world. This is hard to tell a story about; to me, Promethea succeeds and Dossier fails.

With Century, Moore remembers to tell a story. An occultist, Oliver Haddo (from an obscure Maugham novel), wants to raise the Antichrist. Moore often likes to rehabilitate villains (and criminalize heroes), so I should add: this is a bad thing, and Mina and the gang take the whole century to stop it. So something is at stake, though Moore is cagey about what exactly that is. However, he’s willing to punish his characters far more, and that’s the real story of the book. Mina and Allan both go through hell in this volume.

Now, if you haven’t read much Moore, well, go and do that. Watchmen and From Hell are the classics; V for Vendetta gives a heavy dose of his anarchism; Promethea is a fascinating exploration of imagination and magic; Top Ten and the first two volumes of League are fun romps. Century… does not live up to these works. Moore likes to craft exquisite works combining reams of allusion, graphic experiment, and elaborate craftwork. At his best this is all married to passion and humanism. Here it’s more like watching a clever clockwork run. It’s amazing but cold.

(As an example, all three parts of Century feature musical interludes. The first one, based on Kurt Weill, has a certain grandeur, but in general I’d say they show that adding one more layer of experimentation and allusion to the series wasn’t as good a move as it might have seemed. Plus, both books are so crammed with stuff Moore wants to tell you that the characters are constantly expositing to each other. These large volumes read like the summary of an imaginary epic ten times their length.)

Twice in Century the narrative makes use of sexual assault, and this isn’t a new theme for Moore– it was central to From Hell and Watchmen, and in League vol. 2 he mixed things up with a brutal homosexual rape. He’s always carefully progressive and emphasizes the emotional consequences, but his treatment, and the frequency with which he reaches for this particular narrative tool, seem like they’re about a generation behind. Compare how he motivates Nemo (in vol. 1) and his daughter Janni here. Or how many times McNeill draws each naked. (Hint: Nemo, never.) There are other ways to get female characters going.

Also unusually for Moore, the story of Janni has no real payoff.  She’s trundled back into the sea of tertiary characters.  Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s male/female immortal, also feels underdeveloped, despite getting a lot of page time; her main role is to take part in threesomes with Mina and Allan.  A little too much of the later League books seems like an undress rehearsal for Moore’s book of erotica, Lost Girls.

There’s also a certain mean-spiritedness mixed in with Moore’s playful exploration of literature. Granted, he has to have real villains; and as he likes to elevate the villainous (Mr. Hyde, Dr. Moreau), he also likes to sink the heroic (James Bond, Emma Peel, Billy Bunter). Bond, the quintessential Tory, is fair game for such a kicking, but Century features an extended attack on Harry Potter that’s a bit baffling.

Plus, Moore seems to run hot and cold on the occult and perversity.  In some ways he seems most at home in the ’60s– it’s colorful and hopeful, at least; he has a grudge against the 21st century he never quite explains.  But how is it that Haddo is a villain here, and his model Alisteir Crowley is a roguish hero in Promethea?  Why is Haddo’s rock star friend apparently mocked for being promiscuous, when Mina and her friends are scarcely less so?

If you do like your allusions, of course, the later books will be paradise. It’s entertaining to see how Moore weaves everything together, and the panels are filled with additional caricatures. To make this sort of thing work, though, I think Warren Ellis’s Planetary does better. It keeps the appropriations to about one per issue and restrains the camp factor.

My friend Lore (whose site badgods is back up, go see) was musing about D&D on Twitter, which made me consider how D&D works as a game. It’s not pretty.

Overall: Gamers will recognize the usual mechanics of the RPG: character creation, stats, hit points, armor, loot, leveling up. But the UI is terrible– everything requires flipping through pages and pages of rules and tables– and everything has been run through some kind of tediumizer. Combat rules are arcane (try to get someone to explain “attacks of opportunity”) yet damage is generic (no headshots). There’s no aiming or skill involved; everything is based on dice rolls. Combat is turn-based rather than real-time, and there’s no option to automate attacks. It can take hours of play to advance a single level.

Character creation: Unlimited cosmetic appearance options, but classes and “races” (species) are limited and subject to bizarre restrictions. There are literally hundreds of monster types available, but only a small subset are available for PCs. Characters can be female, but there are limit caps on their strength attribute.

Weapons: There’s a promising range– you can wield things like a fauchard, bec de corbin, glaive, ranseur, or voulge– but for the most part these are just names for different attack rolls and they don’t feel different. Most weapons can’t be upgraded, and finding better weapons is slow and capricious.

Magic: The magic system is complicated as fuck, but powerful… except that the number of spells you can cast is absurdly limited. There’s no mana regeneration or cooldowns– so you can run out of spells in the middle of a dungeon and, since you’re a squish, end up near-useless. Cross-classing is possible but subject to weird rules.

Graphics: If you don’t use miniatures, it’s basically a text adventure. If you do, the ‘graphics’ are really nothing more than a diagram of combat positions.

Conworlding: Amateur and incoherent. The procedure implied in the rules is basically this:

  • Open up Lord of the Rings, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, Conan, H.P. Lovecraft, a mythology book, and your kid’s damn dinosaur book.
  • Use everything from all of them.

Story: Depends on your DM, but almost always derivative and poorly integrated with gameplay. It can be said that roleplaying actions have consequences; on the other hand, you rarely run into an NPC you care about.

Voice acting: Embarrassing.

Difficulty curve: Harsh. No saves. Near-absolute power is handed to one player, the DM, who determines difficulty. Unsurprisingly many DMs abuse this power and essentially make war against the other players. The general mechanic is permadeath— resurrection is sometimes possible, but may take literally hours. It’s all the more frustrating because most deaths aren’t cause by errors so much as bad luck, if not actual DM player-trolling.

Price: Can be significant.  At a minimum the DM will have to acquire several books, plus special dice.  There is an endless array of DLC, though none of it is necessary.  Miniatures can drive up the investment substantially. On the plus side, it’s never pay-to-win and you’ll never run into NPCs hawking extra paid content.

Multiplayer: The redeeming feature for all of this nonsense.  Although it’s all PvE, it’s fun to take on enemies as a team, there are genuine strategic decisions to make that emerge from the gameplay, and often the open-ended rules allow for some improvisational and memorable scenes.

(Pedantic note: molest me not with protestations that such-and-such edition fixes some of these problems. I had years of experience with AD&D 1.0, and that’s what most of this is based on.  Of course the details would differ if my experience was with another edition.)

To put it all more bluntly: about 90% of the fun of D&D is captured, and far better, by video games like Skyrim or Torchlight or Borderlands or Dragon Age or VTM:Bloodlines.  Tabletop D&D is generally too slow and too tedious to be a good goblin-death simulator.

Lore muses, “Maybe what I really want is to write collaborative, improvisational, non-published fanfic.”  And I think he’s on to something there. That 10% of D&D that isn’t captured by video games is the unpredictable, open-ended storytelling that sometimes emerges from a campaign.  I hosted an IRC campaign once, jettisoning almost all of the detailed rules, and including stuff like an excursion into space opera.  In a good D&D game the DM can surprise the players, and vice versa; you’re not going to get that in Skyrim.

The pundit pages are pretty boring this week, as they contemplate the big non-news of the GOP midterm victory. This was exactly as predicted, so there’s no tasty pundit juice to be wrung out of it. The Senate seats that were up for grabs were mostly Democratic, many in red states that temporarily swung that way in 2008.

Then there’s the turnout issue, seen in this chart from here, to which I’ve added the 2014 data in a near-seamless fashion:

2014-turnout

For the last half-century, as much as 20% of the electorate stays home during the midterms. This used to not matter much, but as it happens the people who don’t vote as much (especially the young) skew highly Democratic, and the people who vote all the time (especially the old) skew Republican. You can ignore any pundit who makes a big deal of the Message Of The Election without mentioning this huge factor.

I had a frustrating conversation with a friend recently, who expressed discontent with both parties, mostly for doing nothing about the economy. It’s frustrating because it’s a false equivalence. The ongoing recession is GOP policy. At the state level, where they’re mostly in control, they implemented harsh austerity measures: i.e., they fired lots of state workers, making things worse. At the federal level, they tried to do the same thing, and were able to do on on a smaller scale. They have consistently prevented more infrastructure spending or any other stimulus, refused to continue long-term unemployment benefits, opposed Obamacare (a huge boon to entrepreneurs, the unemployed, and the poor). All out of spite because Obama beat them twice.

Oh, but they want to reduce the size of government? Piffle. During the recession in 2002, what did they do? Implement an austerity program? Of course, not, they spent money like it was water, because there was a Republican president.

Oh, but Obama is to blame somehow? What is he supposed to have done? He can’t pass laws. He can’t make Boehner pass legislation. Even Boehner can’t get his party to pass legislation. When one party is committed to pure obstructionism, our system lets them obstruct to their heart’s content, and a large fraction of the press and public will assume that the other side must be at fault. And the GOP will keep doing it, because to them 2010 and 2014 mean THEY ARE WINNARZ.

What happens now? On the macro level, my guess is: not much. The GOP could show that they have a reasonable governing agenda… but any success they’d have would be shared with Obama, so they won’t do that. The safest thing for everyone is to punt to 2016, and I expect there will be a lot of drama but it’ll come down to that.

(Of course, we now have the prospect that the Supreme Court could remove millions of people’s insurance. So maybe something significant will happen: the GOP will get a chance to just fuck over millions of people. How proud they’ll be!)

I don’t write much about politics any more, because a) there are pundits who have the patience to do it much better, and b) it’d mostly be like this: frustration that a radical party is tearing the country apart in a fit of fury.  About all one can do is take a grim amusement from the absurdity of the drama itself.  From that perspective, 2015 should be entertaining– I have a feeling Boehner and McConnell are going to be not-entirely-covertly at war.  Plus, filibusters!

Tonight I finished Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (see initial thoughts here), and then had some terrible games in LOL, so I’m a little cranky.  I’ll try not to take it out on BLTPS.

Don't fall off! (I fell off twice)

Don’t fall off! (I fell off twice)

I needed my friend Momo to do the last mission. The jet fighter, MK-5, is a bastard– trying to solo it, I died enough that I was losing all my money. Momo, for once, had a lower-level character, so I was actually keeping him alive, but it worked out fine. The final bosses are actually far easier. (The last area is tedious: it’s swarming with Guardians, who seem to respawn randomly and are generally annoying.)

The later missions are mostly set on Helios, Hyperion’s H-shaped space station, which makes a nice change. There are some beautiful vistas– such as the one above, which is from the most interesting area, an under-construction area outside the space station itself.  I think they missed an opportunity to show us something really huge. Helios is made up of half a dozen maps, so mostly you’re in a huge building with a few nice exterior sights. Saints Row IV, where you get up really high over an immense map, had more of a sense of hugeness.

There were times when I experienced, I hate to say it, a bit of Borderlands fatigue. I don’t think it was anything wrong with the game. If I add up all my BL hours, I get… well, a very large number. It’s an awfully long time to keep going hoping for one really cool-ass gun. Could I spend another few hundred hours with that hope? Probably, but for BL 3, I really hope they don’t just do more of the same, but add new kinds of gameplay. Weird puzzle sections? Less linearity?  Romance options? Spaceship races? Farming simulation? I dunno, but I’d like to see them shake it up a little. (Or maybe it’s just that BL2, abd BLTPS even more, feel like they’ve damped down the awesome-weapon-getting. I could play for hours without finding a better gun.)

On the story, they set out to explain how Jack turned into Handsome Jack, and I think it works pretty well. It left me with some questions, though. Spoilers follow, so select the text to read:

1. Moxxi’s betrayal seems premature. Jack’s personality may be evil, but he hasn’t done much at that point, certainly not enough to justify killing everyone else on Helios.

2. Is Zarpedon supposed to be evil, or misguided, or actually doing the right thing? It’s hard to see how she needs to destroy the moon when the whole notion of the games is that you can hire a few Vault Hunters to get the job done. (Hell, Lilith and Roland were available.)

3. Wait, didn’t BL2 tell us that Jack and Angel were masterminding the events of BL1? Yet there’s a picture on Jack’s desk of what appears to be a years-younger Angel. I’m not sure they thought this bit through.

4. I really liked Nisha, and now I feel sad that she was such a pitiful boss in BL2. (Wilhelm is a tough fight, at least.)

5. I wish they’d addressed why NPCs who’ve been PCs can die for good. Did somebody lose the New-U files?)

I began a playthrough with Fragtrap. It’s fun, though the Gunzerker will tend to annoy your co-op partners as it wastes ammo. My one complaint is that it takes awhile to fire up your skill.

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