The Great 2020 Lego Speed Champions Race

Monday July 27, 2020 at 5:05pm lego, racing Comments (1) »
 Pre-race photo-op at the finish line.
Pre-race photo-op at the finish line.

So early on in this pandemic thing I started buying the odd lego car for Micah and I to assemble together.  We both like legos, he loves cars, and Lego's "Speed Champions" series - which are modelled after real cars - is pretty cool, so it seemed like a fun thing to do.  I was specifically getting the larger, more detailed sets, because they would be a good challenge for the 4yo, and they were, in my opinion, the cooler ones.

As we built 2 or 3 of these cars, I had an idea - an idea I will freely admit was inspired by 3DBotMaker's youtube channel where they race diecast cars - that, when we had a good number of cars, it would be really fun to build some sort of track to run them down and see which one was the fastest.

I had some 1x2's in the basement, and some sheets of some kind of thin plywood that we used to have under our foam mattress before we got our current bedframe.  A few weeks, a number of hours, and some masking+spraypaint later, I had a pretty cool, straight, 4-section track.  Micah saw me doing the checkered line at the end and figured out what it was.  His excitement was adorable.

Now I just needed a sunny day that wasn't completely intolerable.  Given that I'm on vacation this week and the forecast is "forever storms", I thought I should probably jump on the time when it presented itself - so today became the day, even if it was a hot one.

I figured the hill in the backyard would provide most of an adequate incline to give them some speed heading down, supplemented by elevating some of the upper sections with stacked 2x4's. 

My plan had been to bridge the seams with bits of cardboard taped down - something that had worked very well when i tested the track concept a month or so ago, but that was not having any of it today.  I'm not sure if it was the humidity or if the painted surface just didn't like it, but I couldn't get the tape to stick hardly at all.  I probably should have resorted to duct tape, but I didn't want to mess up the paint job I'd worked pretty hard on.  We rolled with it, but it was less than ideal.

I engineered a gate-like device, also made of legos, that when you pulled on a string, it would raise bars to either side of it, allowing gravity to pull the cars down the track.  I also constructed some overhead signs that spanned the track with green lights at the top and one with a checkered flag at the bottom.

I decided that for a car to be eligible for our tournament, it had to have a design consistent with most of what we had.  This meant that it had to have the wheel size (and mounting) of the others, it had to be generally sedan-shaped, and it had to have a width of 8 blocks.  At present, lego has 5 cars that fit this description, so we acquired and constructed all 5: a Jaguar, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Nissan, and an Audi.  The plan was to race each car against each other car twice - once on the left, and once on the right (since there were certainly some imprefections in the track).  After that point, we would see which car won the most races, and, if there was a tie, we would race the tied cars until there was a winner.

The cars turned out to be pretty evenly matched.  One won 3 races, 3 of them won 4, and the fifth won 5 races.  The tape proved to be a problem on some of the races, and there were a few that we re-ran because they were deemed unfair.  Also, the track had a slight lean to the right, and, since the 9 and 4 year olds were in charge of aligning the cars for most of the races, well, that might not have been fully controlled either. 

Even so, it felt good.  We had some exciting close races, some spectacular crashes (a couple of which resulted in us combing the grass for missing lego pieces), and the kids had a blast counting them off and running them down the track.

The car that ultimately won - the red Ferrari - was actually the smallest and lightest.  It seemed to roll faster off the starting line than most of the others.  When it went straight, it usually won, but the other cars would often be gaining by the end.  I suspect that if the track was longer, the cars with greater mass may have pulled ahead.

This was, in fact, a great time all around.  For friends, there are a few more pics and videos on my facebook page.  I tried to live-stream the final race, but, well, i may not have done that correctly for Reasons.

Anyway, I'm a little proud of myself.  It was the sort of project that I'm likely to say "yeah, that would be cool" but then never do it.  Well, this time i did.


Mouse Guard 1156: Freezing Rescue

Saturday July 25, 2020 at 9:00pm fate core, mouse guard 1156, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Mouse Guard artwork © David Petersen. Fate logo © Evil Hat Productions
Mouse Guard artwork © David Petersen. Fate logo © Evil Hat Productions

- After speaking to a few mice in town, the patrol set off into the foraging grounds to find the errant mice - two children, Kenley and Todd, belonging to a mouse called Bellatine.

- After talking with a few mice and following tracks some distance along the river away from the grounds where the other foragers had been, they determined that one of the mice must have fallen into the water and been washed downstream.

- The group found them camped under a rock overhang just as a young raccoon was closing in.  Hakett managed to get the beasts attention and led it on a chase away from the others while Nip & Clove prepared to move the freezing children to a new location where they could make a larger fire - this was complicated by the fact that the older mouse, Kenley, appeared to have sustained a concussion and they were not able to rouse her to consciousness.

- The following morning, the mice returned to Ivydale and delivered the unconscious mouse to the local healer.  They touched base again with constable Tanner, the mayormouse Melta, and Ranleff, the quartermaster in charge of the grainstores. 

- The most pressing needs in Ivydale were to get the wall repaired where it had been smashed by a fallen branch, to make sure the mice foraging in the field were safe - especially after some tracks were found - and to escort the first spring shipment of grain from their winter store down to Elmoss.

Mouse Guard 1156: An Old Enemy

 Mouse Guard artwork © David Petersen. Fate logo © Evil Hat Productions
Mouse Guard artwork © David Petersen. Fate logo © Evil Hat Productions

Having been unable to run my normal, in-person games for some time, and with things looking more and more like it'll be a while before I can, it seemed like it might be time to start a remote-play game.  Since Taylor & Dave had been begging me for some time to run some kind of Mouse Guard game, it sounded like a good choice.


System: Fate Core

Setting: The Mouse Territories

Players: Sheri, Taylor, Dave

Schedule: Remote play, TBD



- Hakett [Dave] :: Crabby Patrol Leader

- Nip [Sheri] :: Field Scholar Guardmouse

- Clove [Taylor] :: Battle-ready Tenderpaw


Session Highlights:

Hakett received a mission from the matriarch a bit earlier in the season than is usual.  He and his patrol were to make their way southwest to the fallen settlement of Walnutpeck to look for evidence of new weasel activity.  They'd still need to perform the other expected Guard tasks for this time of year, however, and on their way to the first stop at Ivydale encountered a section of the road that had been completely washed out.  Deciding not to perform the 'quick fix' through the brambles atop the hill, they backtracked to the neighboring valley and cut a new path south.  While doing this, they encountered a wandering badger, which they managed to avoid - but its presence so close to Lockhaven and Ivydale was concerning.  Upon reaching the settlement the next day, the guardmice discovered a pair of young mice from the settlement had gone missing...

Wand of the Deep: Aliens, Witches, Bees, and Books

 No Thank You Evil artwork © Monte Cook Games
No Thank You Evil artwork © Monte Cook Games

Session Characters:

- Hannah: Wizard ("Star")

- Micah: Robot

- Sheri: Spy



- Upon emerging from Marlin's Tower, they saw a bright red boad approaching the dock - empty apart from the pelican they'd seen earlier perched on it.  Star and Sheri got into the boat, while Micah jumped into the water and walked to shore on the seabed.

- The group proceeded through the forest of Into the Closet until they reached the Braggy Crags.  About halfway through, they started to hear cries for help above the boastful voices of the crags.  They found an alien creature being captured by a trio of Sawtooth Witches and Buglar guards.  After a bit of sneaking and pummeling of the guards, the group freed the alien Gronk, for which he thanked them.

- The group finally reached The Hive sometime later, and talked/threatened their way inside to see Woodlyn, the bee queen.  Woodlyn directed them to their "bibliograbee" Mystaa, who was head of their library.  Mystaa wasn't very cooperative, but they eventually convinced her to let them borrow the Leafsicon if they could acquire the Kitchen Witch's copy of 'Ally Alchemist's Cookbook'...

No Thank You Evil: Quest for the Wand of the Deep

 No Thank You Evil artwork © Monte Cook Games
No Thank You Evil artwork © Monte Cook Games

System: No Thank You Evil

Setting: Storia: The Land Next Door

Players: Sheri, Hannah, Micah

Schedule: Occasional weekend afternoons


Since Hannah has been talking about wanting to play again lately, I decided to start a No Thank You Evil campaign for the whole family.  Micah's only 4, but he did pretty well his first time - and everyone had a lot of fun.  The way I run NTYE has morphed a bit over time.  Overall the system and setting are fantastic, but I've started stripping out things here and there that I think adds a bit of "clutter" - at least for our us.


Session Characters:

- Hannah: a Pirate named Crystal

- Micah: a Pirate

- Sheri: a Wizard



The group appeared on a rocky beach near a sunken tower.  They heard a voice from the tower beckoning them inside.  Down the beach they found a rowboat to reach the tower, but had to fight off some giant, crab-shaped Animal Crackers to get it.  They were also chased by a Crackin' on their way to the tower, but managed to get to the dock before it destroyed their boat. 

- Inside, they met Marlin - the fish wizard.  He told them he needed their help to find a magical artifact called the Wand of the Deep.  It was somewhere in Storia, but he hadn't been able to find out where.  He asked them to go to the forest of Big Blue where all of Storia's history is written, to see if they could find its last known location.

- Unfortunately, everything written in Big Blue is in the Language of Leaves.  Before they could read anything in Big Blue, they would need a Leafsicon to translate.  Marlin didn't have one, but thought queen Woodlyn might - so he suggested they start there.  He also said he had some things in a chest upstairs they could have before they left.

Black Foxes: This Is Ours Now

 Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix
Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix

- The Foxes met up with Boros and the rooks who'd been waiting nearby; they joined the group while Drave went to investigate the reports they'd gotten about their hideout in the Coalridge mine.  As they entered Doan's to get rid of the bouncers, they immediately found themselves under attack.  Thane and Asp were able to recover from the ambush and chose to engage their attackers with demands.  While Boros restrained one of them, Asp demanded that the other take his friend and leave - that this was their place now.  Clearly outnumbered  and off-balance, the two bouncers retreated without a fight.

- The Black Foxes are growing in strength and reputation, and are close to ending this war with the Stone Club.  Time is running out on some of their obligations, however, and Drave has now discovered that their hideout is currently unusably haunted by the Ghost of Lord Weirin...

Cyrran Reaches: It's Different Now

Monday March 9, 2020 at 8:30pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- Taryn once again found himself in his recurring dream of a card game between himself, his patron Olidammara, and an entity he is sure was a representation of death.  As the game progressed, Taryn began to fair better, ultimately playing cards that ended the game in flames.  All that remained was a single, glowing crystal.  As he tossed Taryn the crystal, Olidamarra once again told him that he had, in fact, done all he could for him - but his tone this time was more bemused than grave.

- The group met downstairs for breakfast and discussed how to proceed.  They talked with a halfling called Landon a bit about some oddities of the local plant and animal life, and asked Baillin where they might be able to find the elders.  The group made their way to the elders' house among the reeds on the western edge of town.  As they approached, they saw a pair of figures standing just outside the building: one was a black haired elf, and the other was a young girl in a tattered dress - a girl whom Lily amazingly recognized as a cousin who only would have been 3 or 4 when their family's caravan had been attacked by slavers almost 12 years ago...

Delcron 2282: Deals to be Made

Friday February 28, 2020 at 9:00pm savage worlds, delcron 2282, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Savage Worlds artwork © Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Savage Worlds artwork © Pinnacle Entertainment Group

- The group headed to the Night Drive club in the Neon Green to find Victor Malstrick, trying to get more info on the corporate string-pulling that seemed to be going on and to figure out how he fit into all of it.  After talking their way inside, they managed to find him through a woman called Lilith.  Victor told them he would tell them where they could find Balthazar - one of the former Aethercorp execs - in exchange for doing a job for him (and in addition to the 500k payoff), and they agreed.  They would need to plant an object and some data inside the HQ of a corp called Corvin-Systova.

- The next day, they met with the DCPD, who'd contacted them again via their ghost card.  The man who met them told them he was there on behalf of Sgt Kyotu (whom they knew).  The job he was sending them on was a bounty - they were after a man called Alexandre Makarta, a mid-level Proto-Nine executive.  They were offering 200k.

- V was contacted again by Rory, who gave him a datadrive from the Proto-Nine messaging system that might contain recoverable messages between high-level P9 execs.  He also told V that P9 was raided and that it's collapse was imminent.  He tried to extract the deleted data, but found with the tools he had available, it was going to take a significant amount of time.

- After meeting with Victor again to pickup up the package, the group made their way toward the Corvin-Systova HQ.  Just as they were putting their plan of infiltration into action, Sara received a mental contact from the girl she believed was behind the psychic shrieking she had experienced - this time, however, the contact seemed delibrate and contained some context clue as to her location...

- +3xp

Black Foxes: Insistence

Thursday February 20, 2020 at 9:00pm blades in the dark, black foxes, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix
Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix

- The crew's efforts to sway Merson away from his association with their rivals continued to grow shakey as the evening continued.  Having set up the groundwork as being a local doctor with connections, Thane made a desperate bid push Merson to agree to a future meeting at his office.  The aggressive "invitation" fell flat, however - though it attracted some attention from the Bluecoat, Cork, who was also at the table.

- As Thane was leaving the table, the ghost of a well-dressed gentleman appeared at the table and sat down.  Drave used his Attuning abilities to interact with the spectre, and learned that it wanted to join the game.  Seeing an opportunity in the fact that no one else could hear anything the Ghost was actually saying, Drave leaned into Merson and suggested that the Ghost was there for them - and that he could protect them from it in exchange for some measure of Merson's loyalty.  Merson agreed, but they Foxes would need to rid of the Stone Club's "bouncers" at Doan's bar first...

- Meanwhile, outside, the Stone Clubs gang had made a show of force against the Foxes by way of cornering Thane.  He was able to stand his ground, however, and a nearby Bluecoat presence might have played a role in the leader's decision to simply re-state his threat instead of escalating the encounter.

Cyrran Reaches: The Way Forward

Tuesday February 18, 2020 at 8:00pm d&d, cyrran reaches, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 
Dungeons & Dragons artwork © Wizards of the Coast 

- The group discussed for some time exactly what to do next, even using a Divination spell to try to determine the best way forward.  They ultimately decided they would use their lyre to repair the city's fractured wall, and then head southeast to the fishing village of Tonler looking for info on the Osada Forest and the secluded elven settlement said to be there.

- Despite evidence of orc raiding on their way down, they found the village of Tonler still mostly at peace.  Guards did keep watch on the palisades for orc activity, but they hadn't experienced any direct attacks - though they do suspect an overdue caravan may have fallen victim to them.

- Most of the few that they talked to in the village seemed wary of the forest to the south, and were generally less-than-eager to talk about it.  The one elf they encountered told them of the locals' superstition and that he had spent some time in the forest and did find it a little..."off".  While he didn't have much specific information on the elven settlement, he did mention that, despite their denials, the two elders of the town were commonly rumored to be from it.

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