Redwood: Can You Hear That Train A-Comin'?

Thursday October 31, 2019 at 8:30pm in the cards, redwood, game session notes Comments (1) »
Redwood: Can You Hear That Train A-Comin'? Image

Setting: Dark West, Northern New Mexico Territory, Town of Redwood

System: In The Cards (homebrew)

Characters:

- Leanne [Sheri] :: The new postmistress

- Victor [Tim] :: Rancher coming to visit his sister

- Oliver [Dave] :: Company man come to find out why coal shipments have stopped

- Roxanna [Taylor] :: ???

- James [Tony] :: Traveler looking for a fresh start in a new place

Session Highlights:

- A group of travelers meet up on the road and camp together with a man called an old prospector a few hours outside the town of Redwood.  They all shared dinner and had a nice chat about the area.  Elijah, the prospector, told them that the area had been declining quite a bit since the coal mine closed and the trains stopped coming into town, but he was hopeful that the area would stick it out and survive. 

- Late that night, the group was awakened to the sounds of Elijah hurriedly packing up his things in a near panic.  They found the stagecoach driver and his two guards dead from apparent stab wounds, and Roxanna saw something moving outside the camp.  Whatever it was, Elijah apparently caught sight of it too, and went screaming into the night in the opposite direction as Leanne swore she heard a distant train whistle.  On edge but unwilling to risk the horses in the darkness, the group holed up in the camp until morning.

- The next day they headed into Redwood.  While Leanne and Victor delivered the mail to the town hall and spoke to the marshall about what had happened, Oliver, James, and Roxanna went to the Bucksaw Saloon for some breakfast and an early drink to calm their nerves.  They spoke to the bartender about the previous night's events, and James asked if there were any local natives that might have stories about "things" roaming the wilderness.  He told them he could only think of one natve that lived in town - the widow of a miner by the name of Caleb Solomon.  One of the barhands seemed to be listening to the conversation and seemed, for some reason, to be growing very angry because of it. 

- It was then that another man appeared in the saloon entrance.  He wore a nice, grey suit and was looking at a gold pocketwatch.  The already quiet saloon fell completely silent.  As he looked up, he smiled and said in a low voice "Can you hear that train, a-comin'?"...

 

GM's Note: The idea for this game came out of a conversation a month or so ago when someone suggested we do some kind of horror one-shot on halloween.  I kicked around a few ideas while putting it together, but pretty quickly decided this would be a great opportunity to finish the idea I had for a western-themed game system that used only cards and poker chips - no dice or even character sheets.  Over the course of a week or so, I fleshed out the basic ideas and put together a creepy, Dark West game to run with it.  It didn't take super long to explain, seemed to run quite well, and everyone really loved the feel of it.  I may make further tweaks, but I'm quite happy with how it came out.  Of course, I cannot "one-shot" a "one-shot", so we only made it through about 1/3 of the scenario, but everyone liked it enough that we decided we would try to get together soon to see if we couldn't continue it.

Trogland 2019

Tuesday June 25, 2019 at 12:27pm trogland, gaming, board games Comments (0) »
Trogland 2019 Image

Trogland 2019.

So last weekend we had our mostly-annual Trogland meetup.  I say "mostly" annual because we missed last year for the first time since we started doing this thing back in '07.  Things just kinda fell apart in 2018.  At this point, it's mostly just me planning the thing with some input from some of the others.  Not that I mind, really, but it's a significant task.

This year, though, I think went pretty well.  We had a different venue which was a little smaller, but our old location inflated the price on us about 700% which was undoable.  Sunday we actually spent in the game room of a local game shop, which was actually kind of cool.

We operated at a bit of a deficit this year. I was glad we had some cash left over from previous Troglands to break even. May need to tweak some things for the future, but overall not a big deal.

I think this year's Trogland went quite well.  One of the cool things this year was that several of the kids were actually old enough to participate.  I guess we're getting to be that age.  I mean, we have been doing this for 12 years.

 

Games at the Trog.

So we played games, of course.  I mean, that's what we do.  Didn't get to run the Fate game I'd pitched, but after the massive Battletech encounter, several of the participants weren't up for a longer time commitment.

I got to play Stuffed Fables again - still only made it to the junk-pile page, but thoroughly enjoyed it.  Played through Mysterium as a player, which was fun even if I was terrible (I'd been the ghost the previous 2 times). 

The Mind is a very interesting game in its staggering simplicity. 

Sheri played a game called Comanauts, which I understand to be similar to Stuffed Fables but with a darker, more serious sci-fi theme. 

I got to play Pandemic again for the first time in years - and, for the first time ever, we won.  

Unearth was enjoyable, though we didn't get to play a whole game. 

I think the board game highlight of the weekend for me was Spirit Island - will be making a post dedicated to that one.

 

And, of course, I got to run the Battletech scenario, which always takes a long time but I always enjoy.  Ran this one as a double-blind where both sides felt like they were the underdog and a countdown timer brought other conditions into play.  It went just about exactly like I'd hoped.

 

That's just what I made it to the table for (or observed).  LOTS of other games were played.  Lots more fun was had.

It was a good time, as always.

 

Oh, and on Sunday at the game store we picked up Folklore, which we heard great things about from some other attenders and we're planning to try out tonight.

 

~PS

Black Foxes: A Brutal Life

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

- The Foxes had discovered that Muggs (the leader of the Stone Club) was going to be attending a particular hound race at Vreen's and made a plan to pull of their hit operation then and there.  Fortune was with the PCs' crew this time, as Muggs conveniently separated himself from his attendant and bodyguard - a woman called Rellanna.  While Drave tangled with her and everyone else was distracted by the manifesting form of a horrific spectral ogre, Erik was able to move in for the kill.

- This turned out ot be Erik's last operation, however - the scoundrel's life had taken its toll on the man, unhinging him a little.  His companions decided they'd turn him in to take the fall for the crew to clear some heat on them.

- While their leader is dead, the Stone Club is by no means defeated.  They're undoubtedly planning a counterstrike, and foxes will need to press their advantage if they're going to make this strike really count...

Black Foxes: To Strike at the Heart

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

- Erik met up with his "friend" from their smuggling run at the Maple Grey in Silkshore and got an easy job offer.  Drave stumbled back into the Foxes' turf, but was acosted by the Bluecoats on the way in.  He tried to turn their attention to the Stone Club, but was only partially successful.  A few nights later, their tinker friend Lerrin found them at the Three Pennies to tell them that the Club was making problems in Fenwell Hook again.

- The gang spent some time discussing their options and gathering some info on their rival gang.  They were able to track down the Stone Club's HQ, as well as some that their leader Muggs has made a recent habit of betting on the hounds down at Vreen's races in Nightmarket.  The time has come to strike - and they're looking to cut the head off the snake...

No Thank You Evil: Towing Hobgoblins pt. I

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

- The Inspector directed the Pirate Olivia and her Pretty Pony to take the hobgoblins they'd captured to Lucy Lawful in Out The Window. 

- On the way to the Crossroads, they saved Edwin Bear from a gang of Fluff Spiders. 

- They encountered That Imp at the Crossroads, but they managed to get past him by convincing him that his demanded toll of three Unicorn Feathers didn't make any sense.

- Once through the Crossroads and into Out The Window, they searched the crowded city streets for Lucy Lawful's office.  Just when they found it, however, a wave of Bobgoblins swept them into Nortorious Inc. where Olivia found herself locked in a filing room...

Battletech: Forged In Plastic

Monday February 4, 2019 at 12:38pm battletech, miniatures Comments (0) »
Battletech: Forged In Plastic Image

As of a little less than two weeks ago, Catalyst finally released their awesome new Battletech Box sets. And, from what I hear, supplies are already running short.  Also, as part of my "yearly gaming order", I picked up a handful of units from some "unofficial" third-party manufacturers which have been added to my already decent collection of plastic minis from other production runs.  Because there are some notable differences between them, I thought I'd do a little comparison here.  Such a thing would have been useful to me, I think.

Battletech 3rd Edition

While I only really got into the miniatures game 4ish years ago, my oldest Battletech minis harken all the way from 1994.  I am, of course, talking about the Battletech 3rd Edition Box Set.  The 3rd Ed set came with 14 plastic minis of fairly poor quality.  I mean, that was like 25 yeas ago - your expectations probably shouldn't be *super* high.  There are a fair number of holes and warped/mis-shapen surfaces.  My Warhammer was actually missing part of the shoulder such that the right arm couldn't be attached.  Most of this was readily fixable (the rebuild on the WHM's arm was a bit arduous, but turned out well), but it's not indicative of superlative production quality.

The thing is, however, basically all of the 3rd Ed box minis, shabby as they are, are also Unseen minis: if you want an official, old-style Marauder or Warhammer in plastic, this is pretty much your option.  Also, I found that good paint work can really make a so-so sculpt look good.  My Crusader from this set is, I think, still one of my best minis.

The scale of some of these minis is a little wonky, tending toward overlarge size compared to the later box sets (though not the most recent, see below) - particularly the lights and mediums, such as the Phoneix Hawk, which seems comically oversized for a 45-ton medium, especially standing next to the Battlemaster from the same set.

Battletech Introductory Box Set

The next box set with plastic minis arrived via Catalyst in '07.  This one had 24 plastic minis, plus two "premium" plastic minis.  While the "premium" minis were nice, the other minis in the set are, well, pretty poor quality, suffering from most of the same problems as the 3rd Ed box, but without the appeal of Unseen units.  Still, if you were just getting into the game, 26 minis would give you a lot of play for $50-$60, even if it wasn't particularly "pretty".

The sculpts on these are what some would characterize as "classic", and what others might deem "silly".  The two are not mutually exclusive.  The units are modeled around older designs, and some of them show their age more than others.

I have a set of the minis from this first intro box set production, but I haven't bothered painting any of them.  I have, however, let my 7yo paint a few, in her typical rainbow fashion.

The scale of these is what I use as a baseline, as the sculpts and sizes are similar to the metal minis of the time.  In general, the scale seems "normal", though some units are maybe a little too big or too small.

In addition, this set came with some really nice folding cardboard maps.  I have two sets of these, and they are what I prefer to play on.  After having the thick boards, playing on creased paper seems like a downgrade.

Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set & Alpha Strike Lance Packs

This one - the one with the Atlas on the cover - is what I would refer to as the Holy Grail of plastic Battletech.  The "premium" minis in this set are different units from the previous and, ironically, maybe not quite as good - but the other units are the *real* story. 

This set contained the same impressive array of units with identical sculpts as the previous release, but with a major improvement in quality.   Aside from the "premium" units of the former release, these were probably the first "good" plastic minis for Classic Battletech.  I have two full sets of these minis, and they form the backbone of my collection through sheer numbers.  The Alpha Strike Lance Packs had units of the same quality (all of them including at least 2 units from the box set), and at ~$15, they were a decent value as well.  To this day, if you see a copy of the 25th Anniversary Box Set for anything even close to MSRP, it's a great value.

Since they're the same sculpts as the original Intro set, the scale evaluation is identical.  There are a few minis from the Alpha Strike packs - like the Stalker - that seem to be a bit "off", but overall the line feels *fairly* consistent.

Battletech Beginner Box and A Game Of Armored Combat

And that brings us to Catalyst's most recent offer: the new, much-anticipated box sets that came out just a couple weeks ago.

The sculpts on these units are pretty amazing.  Maybe not *perfect* quality, but they are definitely the best to-date.  The only "complaint" on I have on these minis - and it's a comparatively small one - is that they monkeyed with the scale.  The minis from the new sets are noticeably larger than they should be - some, like the Awesome and the Catapult are pretty dramatically different.  While they are taller, mostly the new units are just thicker - beefier. 

I'm not sure why they did this.  Perhaps the larger size made controlling for errors in the plastic easier or less expensive.  Or perhaps they're looking to make more and they're seeking to "invalidate" previous models.  Given the not-quite-consistent array Battletech seems to have with regard to scale anyway, the different unit sizes are likely only to be distracting when fielded with the same units from other productions.  So, while not a "perfect" addition to existing mini collections, they're acceptable - and, again, the quality on these is outstanding, and the sculpts are considerably cooler than their predecessors (especially that Thunderbolt).

The new paper maps in these sets are pretty nice - the shading on the levels makes a flat map way more playable.  That said, I'm unlikely to use them as-is: the cardboard maps are just too nice, and I like the hex terrain levels I've made.  I will probably chop these maps up to make more hex terrrain.  I *did* find the inclusion of some cardboard tiles with terrain bits on them a nice surprise - this can add some additional variation to the otherwise static maps.

The quality of the other materials in the box are all superb as well - rulebooks, fiction, etc - but the minis are what I came for.

(Size Comparisons)

 

And now we move on it 3rd-party and "unofficial" sources for Battletech:

 

Robotech Tactics

Some time back, Palladium made a Robotech miniatures game called Robotech Tactics.  From what I understand, it wasn't a huge success.  However, several of the miniatures for this game were perfect stand-ins for Unseen Battletech 'mechs claiming the same design.  By the time I discovered these, they were getting to be hard to find.  I'd still love to find a Spartan/Phalanx (Archer/Longbow) set for $Decent, but alas, those seem to be long gone.  I did, however, pick up a Tomahawk/Defender (Warhammer/Rifleman) box - and, as of the time of this writing, you can still find these here and there.

These minis are good quality, but they are a nuclear pain to assemble.  One miniature of this scale should not be composed of more than a dozen pieces, especially when those pieces have precious few tabs or sockets to help with their assembly.  They also leave some gaps in unwanted places.

That said, once you've won the assembly battle, you've got some pretty nice-looking units, and the scale is pretty near identical to the original Battletech minis - at least for most units.

When I ordered my set off Amazon, I noted that it had 5 reviews.  Three of them mentioned that they were bought for Battletech.  I wonder what percentage of Robotech Tactics minis ever see a Robotech Tactics game.

Warhansa

I follow the #battletech hashtag on Instagram, and through this discovered that you can get some unofficial and/or 3d-printed minis of newer sculpts (such as MWO versions) from various places online.  Warhansa seemed to be one of the better liked sources.

Given that the company is in Russia, it takes a minute to get deliveries here in the states.  That said, they have a pretty impressive catalog of "Robomechs", scaled to the same(ish) size as standard Battletech minis - so I ordered a few minis unavailable in plastic from anywhere else.  

Overall, the quality is good, but there does seem to be some variance from unit to unit.  I don't know if some of their models are just better than others, or if the production of said models is inconsistent, but I found that my Black Knight, Crab, and Urbanmech are pretty precise, while the Highlander and King Crab have considerably more...fudge...in the rendering.  Still, they'll all look good once they're painted up.

The minis come disassembled and with a bit of material to be trimmed, but they're quite easy to put together - probably the easiest I've done to-date.

Scale seems to be fairly accurate to standard Battletech overall - which is to say, a little bit smaller than the current sets.  One or two might be slightly too big or too small, but again, within standard deviations.

The names Warhansa gives to their minis are obvious tongue-in-check references to official Battletech units: the Crab and King Crab are "Shrimp" and "Jumbo Shrimp" respecitively, the Black Knight is a "King Arthur", the Highlander is a "Mountain", etc.  It does make identifying them fairly straightforward in most cases.

(Photo)

Stratominis

Strato is a Polish company that makes some generic-ish sci-fi minis of a generally comparable scale, but some of them are obviously inspired by Battletech units.  These minis might be the best looking ones I own.  Very precise casting over 95%+ of the surfaces.  And the sculpts - particularly the one for the Marauder (which they call "Bull Shark") - look amazing.  When I saw that, I knew I'd be giving them some cash.

These minis come disassembled and with some material to be trimmed - particularly from the bottoms of the feet - but they're not too bad to put together, and the final product looks great.

The Stratominis scale is a little bit too big, but that actually puts it in the right ballpark for the current Battletech minis from the new sets.  While those units are really "beefy", most of the Strato units are sleeker - just tall.

(Size Comparisons)

 

So, there you have it.  My findings in the realm of non-metal Battletech miniatures.

 

~PS

Black Foxes: Better Than Nothing

Thursday January 17, 2019 at 8:30pm 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

- Fortune was not on the side of our scoundrels tonight, which meant that all of their successes came with a lot more strings attached.

- The pair found out which door had been repainted recently from a man hanging out on a balcony in the backpool, but only after Erik agreed to take him out for a drink the following evening and the manifesting ghost echoes prompted them to act on this information immediately.

- Once inside, the crew met the man called Thad they'd been told about - some Iruvian hawker from a gang called the Incense Collective.  Turns out the gang that Tellis used to run with indirectly caused some problems for Thad's organization, and that was going to dent the profitability of any deal to be made.  By this time, Boros and Erik were so worn down that they just wanted to take what they could get and be done with it. 

- The gang ended up with some impressive coin, but it was only a fraction of what their stolen loot was worth.  To top it off, Thad only agreed to the deal at all if they promised him a favor, but they had to get something out of this and they knew their bargaining position was slipping by the second. 

- Looks like the Foxes are going to be breaking into a Bluecoat watch station to destroy some incriminating evidence - but first, they've got to do something on their own turf about the Stone Club...

Black Foxes: Moving The Goods

Thursday December 20, 2018 at 9:15pm 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 other boatman turned out to be an opportunist called Tellis looking for a way to make some coin with his info.  He gave them some instructions and the name of a likely buyer for the goods they'd just pulled out of the canal.

- The crew decided to jump on the opportunity immediately - both to unload their hot cargo asap, and because they really need the coin to finance their other efforts.

- Making their way to Silkshore, they made contact with the Bluecoat Lannerhand and got access to the backpool - but the blue door they were supposed to find is nowhere to be seen...

Black Foxes: Sunken Treasure

Thursday November 15, 2018 at 8:30pm 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 Foxes regrouped after their last score, but they know clocks are ticking on some outstanding "problems".

- Borrick - the leader of the local Bluecoat patrol - cornered Erik in the Three Pennies, threatening to run him in. The scoundrels managed to dodge Ironhook for the time being by promising a future favor.

- The Foxes' gang returned with news about a ditched smugglers' shipment in one of the Coalridge canals.  Needing coin for their plans and figuring the shipment must be worth something, they decided to jump on the opportunity.

- They "acquired" a boat from a local fisherman and went to the place the gang had described.  Due to some good fortune they managed to locate and recover both small metal crates with relatively little consquence, but before they could vacate the area, another boat came up the canal.  They made like they were simple fishermen, but the inquiry "So how's the fishing tonight?" called from the other watercraft didn't sound completely sincere...

 

Mysts of the Ninth World: Heart of the Void

Thursday September 27, 2018 at 8:30pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group was able to ward off the attacking predators with Naran's daylight abilities, directed by Piper's artifact which had tuned in to their dimensional energy signature.

- Continuing on, they eventually left the fern-encrusted tunnel, finding their way along catwalks suspended in nothingness to a vault that had been torn open from the inside.  6 massive tentacles protruted from it in different directions, and within it was a swirling vortex of black smoke.

- Once they moved into position, Naran used the artifact Piper had made to amplify her cutting light abilities to sear away the darkness - but each time she did so, she became weaker.  The others fought off the flock of bat-like shadows that began streaming from it, and they all did their best to dodge the great tentacles which reeled themselves in and began grasping at the intruders.

- As the blackness was cleared, they were able to catch a glimpse of the interior of the vault - where they saw the source of the living void: an open book.  When the last of the blackness was burned away, the book lay inert on the vault floor - the faintest wisp of black smoke issuing from its pages. 

- The void intrusion now disrupted, the group suddenly found themselves in some sort of control room amdist blaring alarms, frantic error displays, and components and terminals which were burning out and arcing eletricity - the system was overloading.  Against all odds, Piper, Naran, and Ronin managed to manipulate the system to bleed off the excess power and return it to a relatively stable condition.

- The group made their way back to the surface, where they found Polious looking somewhat relieved.  The Weathervane had stabilized - and, even better, was now operating at about 85% of ideal output - a marked improvement from the unstable 30-50% they'd been getting previously.  While its days were still numbered, he was optimistic that they would have at least another 5 years to prepare for its ultimate failure.

END OF CHAPTER 1

GM's Note: Chapter 1.  This is chapter 1.  And it took us two years and 62 sessions to get through.  I think the reasons for the long timeline were a combination of having the party split for so long, having short 1.5 - 2.5 hr game sessions, and that there is just SO MUCH to explore in the Ninth World and beyond.  Also, our group tends to "take the long way".  Don't get me wrong, the campaign has been a blast, but they have only scratched the surface.  For now, however, we're going to set this one aside and play some other things.  On our return, my plan for Chapter 2 is to advance the timeline a significant distance into the future: the players will construct a new generation of explorers set to build on the discoveries this group has made.

Mysts of the Ninth World: Hunger in the Void

Tuesday September 25, 2018 at 8:15pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Piper headed back to town, where they found that the ruin surrounding their settlement seemed to have "energized" in some way.  Polious was reporting that output levels for the Weathervane were averaging around 120% - up from about the 30-40% of the preceding weeks - but that the system was increasingly unstable. 

- Piper resumed work on the devices the group needed to address the problem and was able to finish them over the next several hours.

- Ronin, Ganthet, and Helios made their way through the night back to Arable, having a brief encounter with a strange, hovering eye covered in voluminous robes.  It seemed to have "left" something for them - a component that turned out to be *exactly* what Piper needed to finish the devices she was working on.

- After resting up, the group headed once more into the corridors below the Weathervane - searching for the epicenter of the dimensional-void they had been encountering.  Using the 'detector' Piper had made, they found their way deep into the ruin, through large sections that seemed to be "missing", and ultimately onto a long, twisting set of catwalks extending out into seeming nothingness.

- Eventually, the pathway led them to a large spherical chamber - from the outside closely resembling the control room they had just scavenged in the B Dome - but the inside was covered in luminous purple ferns.  As they made their way through it, Ronin began to suspect that they were being watched - just before they found themselves under attack by shadowy beast that seemed to materialize from a cloud of black smoke...

Black Foxes: Painting the Scene

Thursday September 20, 2018 at 8:30pm blades in the dark, black foxes, game session notes Comments (2) »
 Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix
Artwork © Evil Hat Productions and Square Enix

- The Foxes were given a job offer to steal a set of paints from an artist in Charterhall that had been illegally infused with spirit essences.  It promised to be an easy score with a decent payout and since they were needing some cash quickly to get what they needed to stay ahead of the Stone Club, they took it.

- The target was located in the old Charter Wall community, and Erik and Boros quickly encountered a Bluecoat presence, intoxicated citizens, and a level of midnight activity they weren't used to in Six Towers.

- They broke into the artist's studio and were rummaging around when they began to encounter spiritual activity.  As one of the paintings began to wail and distraught ghosts began manifesting, Erik grabbed a couple of the paints and took off in a near-panic.  Boros steeled himself enough to grab a couple others as well as the howling artwork before making his getaway.

- The two were successful in their mission, but they were seen clearly by one of the local Bluecoats, a drunk, and Crenoll - the artist they robbed.

Mysts of the Ninth World: Gathering Storm

Tuesday September 18, 2018 at 8:15pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- As Piper pried the last of the needed components from the machinery, the system's stability reached a tipping point.  The pulsing blue lights in the sphere above them turned a dark red and alarms began to sound.  As they made their way back to the hatchway, several spherical maintenance automatons activated, though only one seemed to be functioning correctly.

- Outside, Ganthet and Helios confronted the many-mouthed being.  Before any real fighting began, however, it was distracted by another of its kind that had targeted Ronin.  As the two creatures argued and fought, the three of them withdrew, rejoining their friends, and all of them hurried toward the exit to the sphere - which was now full of flashing red lights and vibrating intensely.

- Once back at the entrance, Ronin, Ganthet, and Helios used their own abilities to descend from the sphere while Naran teleported herself and Piper directly back to Arable - or, close to it.  They arrived a few miles south of town at Aglarion's watchtower.  They were close enough, however, to see the stormclouds gathering to the south, the tribe of brutish abhumans approaching from that direction, and the billowing plume of smoke rising from beneath the southeast side of Arable - which had now pulled itself about 50 feet up and out of the ground...

- +1xp

Some Cache At Last

Monday September 17, 2018 at 3:06pm geocaching, hiking Comments (0) »
 The 'Blue Hole'.  This shot taken with my phone as I didn't have camera on me.
The 'Blue Hole'.  This shot taken with my phone as I didn't have camera on me.

It had been a while since Tony and I went out on a real caching adventure, so we made plans about a month ago to go out last saturday - and those plans actually happened!  We weren't out quite as long and didn't go quite as far as we might have liked, but we had a great time and a good adventure in a new area. 

It had been probably a decade since I'd been out to the 'Blue Hole', and Tony had never seen it - and there were a few caches in the area that hadn't been found in some time.  Plus it would mean tromping through the back woods in search of ammo boxes.  Win-win.

The biggest adventure was going after one of DMFlyer's 'Adventure Awaits' caches - which always prove a good time.  This venerable cache hadn't been found in nearly two years, and I'm not really surprised as it's located about .4 up a wooded hollow and, depending on which way you go and how you define the word, there are either *two* trails, or there are *no* trails.

The lack of direction/landmarks gave us some trouble with the hint and locating the cache as well, but we eventually made the find - it was still present and in good shape.

There are several more targets up that way we'll be hitting in the future - hopefully later this fall.

These are the outings I love.

~PS

Mysts of the Ninth World: At Its Core

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Helios fought off the sathosh, though some sort of smoke cypher nearly killed Piper - Ronin was able to save her by sacrificing one of the artifacts they'd taken from the abhumans.

- Meanwhile, Naran found some sort of access terminal and was able not only to stop the deafening noise, but also learn something about the ruin they were in and where they might be able to find the components they were seeking.

- The group reunited, and Naran led them deeper into the structure toward something she'd seen in the readouts labeled as an environmental processor - it would likely have the sensors they needed.

- Finding their way to that region proved difficult, however, as broken corridors and other obstructions blocked what should have been open pathways.  They found themselves in a cavernous space that had been overgrown by mushroom-like fungus.  Within this area, they found the entrance to the chamber they were seeking: a hatchway in the top of what seemed to be a 100' sphere.

- As Naran and Piper climbed inside and began cannibalizing what they could from the machinery within - being careful not to disrupt any systems that would prove hazardous - Ganthet, Helios, and Ronin found a humanoid bat-creature that had been captured.  As they freed it, they were interrupted by a strange, skulking humanoid with a head covered in mouths...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: New Heights

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group returned once more to the "B Dome" - this time with Piper - in order to find components she needs to complete the the devices they require to help them address the blackness plaguing Arable.

- They encountered some sathosh on the way, including one particularly unusual individual in white, robe-like garb and weilding obvious numenera.  With the help of a hologram their presence seemed to have triggered, Piper and Helios found their way up into some sort of control chamber...

Mysts of the Ninth World: Missing Pieces

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ganthet, Ronin, Naran, and Helios traveled north to the "B dome", now revealed to be a 1400' sphere and hovering about 200' above the landscape.  They found a collapsed crater beneath the floating orb containing some remnants of the metal sphere and a partially-crushed burned stonework structure - as well as the entrance to an underground sathosh lair.  Unsure of a good way to reach the sphere above and unintentionally attacting the sathosh's attention, they decided to return to Arable.

- Piper continued working on her new devices, and Naran and Helios were finally able to nail down the exact capabilities and limitations of Naran's teleportation ability: to be reliable, the starting point and the destination must be located in direct sunlight otherwise the jump would always be off - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot

- Piper eventually came to the conclusion that to create the necessary artifacts, she would need some specialized components she didn't have - and the most likely place to find them would be the B Dome...

- +1xp

Black Foxes: Shots Fired

Thursday August 23, 2018 at 8:30pm 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

- Having acquired a few more members - a gang of Rooks and a cutter called Boros - the Foxes decided their next move would be to kick the Stone Club out of Fenwell Hook.  They'd had their eye on this territory for some time, and their contact that lived there was getting increasingly impatient.

- Their efforts to gather information about the area yeilded mixed results and they were unable to pin down exactly where and when the Stone Club appeared and/or what they did in the area.  They ultimately decided their approach would be an ambush-style assault: they'd jump the gang when they came to harass Lerrin again.

- The Foxes set up a concealed position outside Lerrin's shop and waited for the gang to appear.  When they did, the engagement quickly went sideways - it seems that someone may have tipped off the Club to someone else operating in their area.

- The resulting skirmish was brief and bloody, though it resulted in no immediate deaths on either side.  Though their gang broke and ran off and Borors and Erik took a great deal of injury and stress, they were ultimately able to beat down and run off the part of the Stone Club gang that operated in Fenwell, claiming that turf for their own.

- Now at-war with the Stone Club and under the eyes of the Bluecoats, the Foxes found themselves in a tight spot.  They had the good fortune to meet up with a Leech who helped patch them up, but their gang hasn't been seen since the street fight.  Worse yet, they're down to their last few coins.  The crew needs some easy cash - and soon...

Mysts of the Ninth World: The Living Void

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Flashback: About 24 hours after their return from the margr encampment, Drakald organized a search party to go look for Tala and Kelon, who still had not return.  What remained of the encampment was a  bloody mess of dead margr and scavenger beats.  It took a couple hours of searching, but they eventually found the bodies of both of their friends.  Upon return to Arable, a funeral for the lost was arranged.  Even with the return of Naran and Helios, the spirits of the town were depressed for a y several days - lifted somewhat when Piper arrived.

- The group spent some time discussing Polious' concerns.  Despite the Aeon Priest's feeling that the device was doomed, they beleived that if they could remove the void influence from the Weathervane, it might recover enough to be stabilized.  They did some experiments on the puddle-like protrusions finding that bright light seemed to boil it away.  With the help of a cypher, Ronin was able to look "inside" one of the puddles, to find a swirling vortext of shadow leading deep into the earth.

- Ideas for how to remove the void were difficult in coming, but the group eventually decided their best bet was to somehow amplify Naran's light ability and direct it at the "heart" of the void, somewhere deep within the ruin beneath tham.  Piper set about trying to make a some devices (one to enhance Naran's light ability, and one to detect the source of the void intrusion), Naran spent some time studying the strange portal books they'd found on their journeys, and Ganthet, Ronin, and Helios discussed a venture up to the now-floating B Dome...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Burning Out

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- As Ronin attempted to cover Ravri's escape from the merkadian, Helios suddenly appeared between them and a large margr (Glaan) emerged from the chaos behind it.  Helios and the margr engaged the spike assailant while Ronin fired at it with his bow, eventually piercing its chest and causing it to explode in a burst of green, electrical energy.

- While Kelon and Ganthet attempted to occupy the surrounding margr, Naran made her way to the controls of the large, wheeled cannon artifact as the a loosed crag worm bore down upon them.  Naran was able to take control of the device and decipher the controls enough to get it moving in a direction away from the rampaging beast, driving it away through the chaos of the camp and out the other side.

- After taking a few more shots into the skirmishing margr with his numenera polyp weapon, Ronin sensed that they had done what they could and assisted the injured Ravri away from the encampment.  Noticing the telltale signs of his brother's lightening abilities, Helios waded into the camp to help cover his escape.  The warcamp now thoroughly consuming itself, the parties from Arable disengaged - each making their way back to the town by their own route.  Only Kelon and Tala did not return.

- The townspeople were happy to be reunited with Naran and Helios, and there was more celebration on their return.  Once she and Olim arrived, Piper spent some time with Polious fixing the dozen or so perplexing "bugs" that seemed to continue to plague the Weathervane, despite their efforts and what the Aeon Priest was sure should have worked.

- After some time had passed, Polious gathered them all together with some troubling news: the Weathervane was dying.  A number of major components were shorting out and could not be replaced without depowering the entire system, but the burnout of a number of regulatory systems and the malfunctioning of interfaces meant that they only way they had to shut it down would also burn out the entire thing.  On top of that, its power output seems to be much less than the core the group had recovered should be providing - and it's continuing to drop.  He gives it less than two years of reduced operation before it burns out completely, and he has no contingency plan...

- +2xp

GM's Note: For the first time since Mar 6 2017, the party is completely reunited!!

Mysts of the Ninth World: The Ravaging Horde pt. II

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran returned to where Helios had been, only to find him missing.  Looking around, she noticed Ganthet and Kelon in the camp below her, freeing the worms and fending off a merkadian.  Still invisible, she made her way down the slope to some cover and began zapping the spiked man with sunbeams.

- Ganthet used his electrical affinity to awaken and prod the sedated crag worms, who lunged into the camp, adding to the chaos unfolding there.  Kelon attempted to keep the merkadian's attention, which quickly devided between him, Ganthet, and whatever was searing him with bright yellow light.  The three of them kept him unable to focus on a single target, and Naran was eventually able to finish him off.

- Trying to keep Ravri's quarry from spotting her, Ronin fired a couple of polyp canisters in his direction.  The merkadian spotted him almost immediately and charged up into his hiding place.  Not wanting to be cornered, Ronin leapt away into the darkness, but this turned the merkadian's attention elsewhere and he spotted Ravri just before she was able to backstab him.  Ronin returned and began firing arrows and canisters into the resulting skirmish, but neither he nor Ravri seemed to be able to do much damage to the merkadian threat.

- The warcamp itself was quickly devolving into internal conflict.  The margr gathered there were only loosely held together by merkadian control - and most of them resented the outsiders.  One tribe leader in particular called Glaan, saw and opportunity as things began to unfold and made her move against the one called The Eye.  As the duel began, the margr gathered, uncertain of what to do, waited to see how it would turn out - and thus who to side with.  The resulting struggle was brief and brutal, but Glaan ultimately came out on top, crushing the merkadian's head with a final blow that dislodged its numenera eye.

- After killing the merkadian, Naran, Kelon, and Ganthet had a brief conversation about what to do next.  They had killed a probably leader, but they still needed to do more to reduce the threat posed by this band.  Seeing a large numenera machine powering up and rolling through the camp, they decided that would be their next target.  Though outnumbered dozens to one, the three waded into the camp, fighting off abhumans as they went, until they reached the device.

- Ronin and Ravri, both beaten down signficantly, began to make a retreat to the north, away from the fight.  Ronin used his numenera device to put as many polyp growths between them and the merkadian as possible, but it was only slowing him down.

- Glaan, having wondered through the camp in search of the other oppressors, finally spotted the green numenera discharges of the one called The Fist.  She shoved her way through the intervening chaos, emerging to see the merkadian wading through a growth of red polyps toward some unknown attacker in the darkness...

- +1xp

GM's Note: This situation turned into a rather lengthy and complex encounter.  Because Piper is not present - and is, in fact, weeks further in the timeline than the others - I decided to give Keara an NPC to play in this engagement.  Indicating she wanted to do something a bit different, I decided I would give her one of the margr of the camp - the leader of a sub-tribe who chafed against the merkadian's cowing of the others.  While this character was created just prior to this session, the idea of characters like Glaan present in the warcamp was always there, so it was easy enough to flesh out one of them and hand it off.  Keara really enjoyed the change of pace, and getting a different perspective on the chaos of the encounter was interesting for everyone.

Mysts of the Ninth World: The Ravaging Horde pt. I

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Pursued by a patrol of margr, Ronin, Ganthet, and the others scatter into the rugged landscape, forcing the enemies to split up and losing some of them in the process.  A few isolated skirmishes resulted, with somewhat varied outcomes.

- Ganthet and Kelon regrouped and decided that something must be done about the greater tribe.  Neither had a solid plan, so they decided to go for the desperate one that seemed to have the best chance of doing some good: if they could release and prod the juvenile cragworms, the beasts might be able to do enough damage to significantly weaken the horde.

- Ronin had a brief fight with the one margr chasing him and made his way to a nearby skirmish where he found Ravri being attacked by several - including an obvious leader.  The fight took a toll on them both, but with some good fortune they take out the big guy and took off before too many more could arrive.  Deciding that the game is up, they also made their way back toward the encampment - Ronin decided that freeing the cragworms they'd seen earlier was their best bet at keeping the tribe from attacking Arable, though Ravri seemed dubious.

- Meanwhile, Naran and Helios were attacked by another patrol as they wandered unknowingly into the margr's territory.  They fought off their attackers, but lost their pack animal in the process.  Gathering the remaining supplies, they continued on their way - only to stumble upon the encampment from above.

- As Ronin and Ravri made their way around the camp from the north, Ronin caught sight of Ganthet sneaking in and cutting the ropes tying the beasts down.  Noticing another group of margr approaching the area, he fired his red-polyp numenera weapon into their midst, creating confusion and buying his companions some time.  Taking note of the effectiveness of the tactic, he maneuvered into a different position and fired again into the camp as Ravri moved off in another direction.

- Above, Naran and Helios spotted a patrol heading their way.  Naran made herself invisible and teleported to the far side of the patrol in a bright flash of light, startling and disorienting them.

- Ganthet and Kelon managed to cut the cables on the worms without being seen, and the most agitated of them lunged into the camp, devouring whatever margr it came across.  As he carefully pulled back into the shadows at the edge of the camp, Helios, who had been watching the scene from above, recognized his brother.

- Ronin took notice of the figures in spikes investigating the chaos happening in the camp with a bit more focus than their abhuman counterparts.  As one moved closer to his position, he saw Ravri, all but in the open, creeping up behind it with her knife drawn...

Black Foxes: Spectre Thieves

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

- The Foxes decided their next move would be against Drave's rival - a witch called Quellyn.  She had apparently bound a ghost which was now haunting Drave in an attempt to get him to free it.  They did a little legwork in Crow's Foot prior to the operation, but didn't manage to get much more than some dirty looks.

- The gang made their way into the sewers and tunnels near the witch's tower where they found a boarded-up hole in its basement wall protected by some sort of ghost ward.  Drave was able to dismantle the magical protections and Erik quickly pried the boards out before they could be spotted.

- Inside the tower, they made their way toward the upper chamber Drave had seen in a vision.  They were caught by a mad, howling spectre which injected their minds with horrific visions before Drave managed to drive it off.

- Finally making their way up the brittle iron staircase into the upper chamber, they found the hanging dolls exactly where they expected them - and they could also hear Quellyn's voice chanting upstairs.  Peering into the ghost field, Drave was able to find the ghost he was trying to free and identify the doll anchor binding it to the witch.  With Erik's help, they cut the anchor down intact and made off before Quellyn could catch them - though the only loot they found was a small wooden box full of gold teeth.

- The Foxes returned to their neighborhood to discover that Flint, one of their contacts, had been questioned by the Bluecoats and may have let slip a couple of details about the Foxes' operations.  The crew did manage to do a little recruiting - picking up a small gang of rooks to help them cover their territory.

Mysts of the Ninth World: Here We Are

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios met up with some scavengers outside the Empty Machine and followed them back to the quasi-permanent encampment nearby.  They bartered for food, water, and a shelter from the supply caravan that had arrived from the north and set out toward Arable.  Late in the evening of the 4th day, as they wandered through a badlands region, the found themselves surrounded by a small band of margr...

- Ronin and Ganthet discussed their situation with the other hunters and made some decisions.  A few of them attempted to pursue the margr that had fled from the battle but were ultimately unable to catch it.  The others moved into a recon position to survey the larger tribe.  They found an unusually large group of 200+ margr, possibly being led by a couple of spike-covered humanoids, that had apparently captured a few juvenille cragworms.  As they talked about what they'd found, margr nearby were alerted to their presence...

- Piper, Olim, and Jumis made their way through the scrublands toward Arable.  They happened upon some machinery surrounded by deep, black oil on the way through.  When they reached the city, they were greeted by Neen - deputy Urshan's pet seskii.

Mysts of the Ninth World: The End In Sight

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Olim made their way into Luigolamis.  They spoke to a couple of guardsmen who gave them some tips on navigating the city.  They were able to acquire supplies from the lakeshore markets, but had little luck finding suitable components for their damaged airship.  As they made their way out, an alarm sounded throughout the Twinned Cities and the energy barrier was activated - apparently a bandit army was closing in and the city needed to be sealed.  Piper and Olim used a cypher they'd acquired and a makeshift zipline to escape.  Once back to the airship, they set out once more for the Beyond.

- Ganthet began climbing the numenera device that had risen from the sands in an attempt to reach the top before the margr as Ronin fired arrows at the remaining enemies.  Ganthet managed to knock the climbing margr from the device and, continuing to its top, found another numenera objcet being created within teh energy bubble at the top.  As the hunters closed in on the remaining margr, Ronin gained the leader's attention.  As the massive, two-headed margr charged at him, he pulled and fired the weapon he'd taken from one of the others.  His shot was perfect and the leader was consumed from the inside by toxic fungal polyps.  Their remaining foes had fallen, but they knew at least one had escaped in the fray - certainly heading northwest to the larger tribe.

- Naran and Helios rejoined Drokkan at the bunk house.  After a a bit more rest, Drokkan agreed to take them to the machine he'd found as promised.  On the way there, he became increasingly wary - and when they arrived he found a glyph that unnerved him.  As he warned them that they shouldn't remain in the area long, Naran began to examine the complex device.  The center of the room seemed to contain a bubble of space somehow "pulled" from another location.  She discerned that, if one were to break the containment field, that person could enter the bubble and be transported to the place displayed.  In a stroke of considerable good fortune, she not only located the controls to alter the location displayed, but found several "presets" that showed floating obelisks - one of which she recognized from Polious' stories as the Amber Monolith.  From there, she was able to adjust the location eastward until Helios recognized the Empty Machine - a landmark not more than a hundred miles or so northwest of Arable.  It was at this point they ran out of time.  As a greenish mist began to fill the room, Naran activated to device and she and Helios jumped into the portal - telling Drokkan he could come with them, but that it was a one-way trip.

- Piper and Olim traveled slowly but steadily on their airship for several days - through the Black Riage via the Garl Knave, westward to the enormous Ba-Adenu forest, and then north to the plains of Kataru.  They saw distant lights in the impossibly-tall black mountains, the great mass of the largest trees either of them had ever seen, a massive automaton with a glass-like spherical head, a landscape bent down by the inexplicably-sustained gusts of hurricane-force winds, and a silver thread reaching all the way into the heavens in the eastern distance.  After a few days, however, their craft began to experience various levels of malfunction.  They worked tirelessly to keep it stable, in the air, and continuing north, but it became apparent that eventual failure was inevitable.  For the last several miles, the all but scraped the surface of the barren landscape before the craft dug into the dull earth and came to a stop.  In the distance, however, Piper could just make out the point of what appeared to be Aglarion's Watchtower - and landmark only a few miles south of Arable.

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: More Than Bargained For

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Garrot load up Jumis and what supplies they had and manage to get the craft off the ground and some distance from the city before they came under attack by the perimeter defences.  They took a hit to the craft's secondary propulsion systems, which Piper was able to patch while dangling from a makeshift harness.  Once away, they discussed their overall plan.  They decided they would stop in the Empire's "Twinned Cities" of Jargolamis/Luigolamis for supplies and components, and then make their way to the Garl Nave to cross the Black Riage into the Ba-Adenu forest and make their way northward from there over the Beyond.  This would mean they'd have little hope of aid should their craft break down, but it also meant they would have little in the way of political trouble.

- Ganthet, Ronin, and their companions continued their fight against the margr band, slowly gaining the advantage.  The holograms that had been shifting overhead suddenly vanished, and some sort of numenera device emerged from the ground - crowned with a bubble of pulsing energy.  The leader and a couple of others broke off their fight with the intruders in order to interact with it: the leader seemed to activate certain controls while one of the others began frantically climbing the structure toward the energy bubble.

- Helios was awakened by a sudden tremor that knocked him out of the bunk and frantic pounding on the door.  It also seemed to be "snowing" inside the building.  Looking out the window, he saw some chaos in the Scavengers' Wreck, but nothing obviously corresponding with the cries of "let us in, it's going to kill us!" coming from the people outside.  He poked his head through the door and told them to calm down, but they just ran off screaming.  Seeing no apparent threat beyond the crazies outside, Helios barricaded the door and went back to sleep.

- Naran and Martylla had been making their way to the DataVault when the snow storm hit.  Naran found that contact with the crystals caused vivid hallucinations and disorientation, but Martylla and the other skeane seemed unaffected.  She made it to the DataVault only partially conscious and the next they she knew she was in some distorted facsimile of Arable.  Uncertain of her surroundings but following the cues provided, she and Martylla navigated the construct, spoke with some of the "people" there, and eventually emerged with 3 marker keys.  Taking advantage of the chaos created by the storm, Martylla was able to get them to an unattended "lift" within the vault where they could use their keys to access the correct data-drives to get the information they were after: where was Helios?  The data in the vault seemed to answer their question - as well as a few more unasked.

- +2xp

No Thank You Evil: Trouble In Space

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

- Pirate Hannah and her Pretty Pony got a job offer from an alien called Opik: he needed someone to accompany the child alien Zot on a space ship back to his home planet.  He would give them 3 coins when Zot arrived safely.

- Shortly into the trip alarms began sounding.  A message from Opik said there was some distrubance in the engine room.  With some help from an android called Sassy, Hannah opened the hatch covering a secret ladder down into the workings of the ship.  She made her way to the back of the ship, encountering some space rats, a bubble-gum making bird, and other strange creatures.

- The engine room was being devoured by a metal-eating creature called a Lacer.  When she couldn't talk it into leaving, she tried to scare it off and then beat it up, but it proved too tough for her.

- In the end, Hannah lured the creature out of the engine room, and though it conked her out, Sassy arrived and was able to convince it to eat some of the junk in the storage room instead of gnawing on the engine.

GMs Note:

This scenario from "Uh-Oh Monsters" was REALLY tough for a single PC - and that's AFTER I dialed it back a bit.  In hindsight, instead of using deus-ex and having Sassy talk the Lacer out of eating the engine, I should have had the ship crash on a nearby planet and then Hannah would have to fix the ship to get Zot home - which would have been awesome.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of that at the time.  We'd been going for a while, and I could sense Hannah was running out of ideas, so I was trying to wrap it up.  I'm also not super practiced at running published scenarios.  Oh well, live and game and learn.

Black Foxes: Stone Cold

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

- Finding themselves threatened by rivals on apparently hostile turf, the Foxes did their best to play off the situation as expected.  They told the leader of the Stone Club gang that they had come to patch things up and even suggested that the two crews should be working together.  Their proposal got them a foot in the door (with help from some coin), but they got a bit demanding in the delivery and their "suggestions" were ultimately not well received.  Before the situation could erupt into actual violence, they took their leave.

- Deciding to continue their search for a fence, Erik went to speak with his friend Telda, a Six Towers beggar.  The woman initially told him off for his line of questioning, but later sent word to him about a hunched man with silver-gray hair called Zant who hangs out near the Black Circle Tavern.  

Mysts of the Ninth World: Decisive

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Garrot were led by Quince into the Court of Rarmon where they spoke with Lord Gyre.  They were asked to explain the afternoon's "malfunction" and to give their opinion of ongoing threats.  Some of the conversation began to sound accusatory when Quince made a proposal to the Lords to move all "significant and mysterious" numnera artifacts to the control of the crown by way of the city government.  A few of those gathered took issue with this "overreach", but most seemed contentedly unaffected.  Following the hearing, Piper returned to the Orrery with Garrot in order to help return it to a (more) stable condition and then made her way back to Olim's tower to find the airship almost ready for launch.  After a brief conversation with him and some hurried preparations and last-minute checks, they decided the time had come to make their move - the test flight of their newly-completed airship would be a flight from the city's powers-that-be and into the Beyond.

- Ganthet, Ronin, and their company continued their fight against the margr as the holograms flashed and shifted overhead.  Ronin attracted the attention of one of abhumans weilding a slug-thrower weapon and Ganthet engaged with the large, two-headed creature that seemed to be the leader while Tala, Ravri, Oorum and Shynd waded into the fray with other specimens.  After being disarmed, Ganthet set off an electrical detonation cypher, which shocked and stunned most of those within the camp as a powerful energy beam from somewhere outside burned into the margr leader's chest

- Naran, Drokkan, and Helios attempted to hide as a band of well-equipped skeane descended upon the area.  Their efforts were only partially successful, and both groups decided to leave the area rather than engage them.  Helios, unsure of the location of his companions, set off toward the membrane gate leading back into the city of Rust and, once there, made his way to Drokkan's dwelling in the South Loop.  Naran and Drokkan were trying to conceal themselves in their hiding place, but searchlights suggested they'd been spotted.  Naran was doing her best not to let the growing dread become panic when she suddenly found herself back in the City of Rust.  She set the injured Drokkan up in one of the public bunkhouses and went to speak with his skeane "friend" Martylla to see if she could find a way to determine Helios's wearabouts.  Martylla suggested they check the DataVault.

 

Mysts of the Ninth World: Cornered

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Garrot discovered the huge electromagnet that was part of the Orrery had malfunctioned, possibly as a side effect of their interface with the Atlas, and had pulled nearly all unanchored metal within a wide radius up to it.  After considerable effort, they were able to disengage the magnet and release the objects it had collected in a relatively safe fashion.  After this, they were escorted to the Sunken Palace, which they found still spinning, to speak with city authorities.

- Ronin and Ganthet met with several of the hunters of Arable to plan some action against the small abhuman margr band that had strangely taken up residence nearby and was, reportedly, harassing some of the outlying farms.  Wanting to remove this threat without drawing the ire of the large tribe further northwest, they decided they would attack at night, allow none to escape, and leave no trace of their presence.  As they launched their attack on the dozen or so margr and their two-headed leader, a number of large, holographic images of various people, places, and objects appeared within the battlefield.

- Naran and Drokkan contined to work to shut down the machine emitting the corrosive bubbles.  The glowing fish began harassing them as they attempted to disable the device, some of which seemed to siphon energy from it to become larger and more menacing.  Their efforts ultimately overloaded some part of the device, and it sent out one last shockwave that somehow encased every living thing in its path within an egg-like, red sphere.  Naran cut her way out and made her way over to free Drokkan.  She was able to cut him out as well, but he seemed to have faired more poorly and was barely concsious.  It was then that they noticed lights from a craft overhead.

- Meanwhile, as Helios bargained with the two eleen tribemen for the spoils of the room they had discovered, a third eleen hurried into the room with a warning about kenlem in the area.  Before they could make any real preparations, large, two-headed spiders began phasing into the room through the walls and ceiling.  Helios grabbed what he could, and hurriedly forced himself back through the wall toward his home dimension.  He emerged just in time to be hit by the bubble-machine's shockwave and found himself trapped in a spherical "egg" as well, from which he escaped by phasing through the solid shell, nearly exhausting his energy.

- +1xp

Black Foxes: Lady Molfon's Jewels pt. II

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

- As the room continued to warm unnaturally and the ghost began its operatic song, Drave decided it was time to go - prying open the window and jumping out back into the courtyard.

- Meanwhile upstairs, Erik bolted after Lady Molfon, grabbing her arm in order to keep her from escaping with her armfuls of surely-illgotten jewelry.  The ghost's song rattled something loose in his mind - visions of an icy gem that wouldn't go away - but he retained his hold and ordered her to give in.  When she surrendered, he gathered up the jewels and bolted for an exit.  Two of the guards caught sight of him as he made his escape, but he and Drave were over the wall and out of sight before they could engage in any sort of pursuit.

- Over the next few days, the crew got their payoff from Adelaide and made some efforts to reduce the amount of heat they were taking from this last operation.  After taking some personal time as well, they met and decided that if they were going to be doing this sort of thing a lot, they'd need someone to help them move their goods.

- Drave's friend Flint could only give them the barest lead, and the two made their way to Doan's, a tiny backstreet bar and gambling den, to ask around -only to find themselves confronted by local rivals, the Stone Club...

Mysts of the Ninth World: Partial Success

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper spent some additional time in the Atlas with Garrot attempting to interact with the device in an intentional way.  With considerably effort, she was able to activate the device again, focusing it on their area and where she believed her home town of Arable might be located.  Using the device seemed to be physically taxing, however, and the intense pressure-headaches it triggered ultimately became unbearable.  Believing she had adequate - if not abundant - guidance for where to direct their course, Garrot opened the hatch to descend back into the Orrery's control room, but stopped when he noticed something wrong...

- Ganthet used his lightening ability to jump to the entrance of the power vault to sever the liquid-like tentacle grasping his friend and the power core.  As he hacked through it, Polious threw an electrical detonation cypher into the vicinity.  Their combined effortes ruptured the tentacle, sending black acid all everywhere.  The three were able to get the power core back into position and reconnected, but were not 100% satisfied with the resulting operations: Polious was concerned that the core was outputting too much power, but had to admit that any additional manipulation of the setup was likely to make things worse and not better.  Above, they found that the Weathervane had stabilized closer to its "normal" operation, but that it's area of influence has shrunk considerably and Polious was concerned about a pinhole that had appeared in the perpetual clouds directly above the device's point.  Over the next few days, townsfolk began making plans for clearing land and moving farms that were no longer under the influence of the artifact while Ronin, Ganthet, and the town's hunters discussed the growing presence of margr in the area...

- Helios, Naran, and Drokkan found a nearby area to rest before sending Helios back into the vault.  Just before he began phasing through the metal door, a woman appeared among them asking to accompany him.  It took them a few minutes to realize that this woman was a manifestation of the Sisters they had met in Mekel - she was apparently some sort of artificial construct housed within the numenera cube they had given to Helios and Naran.  She wanted to find a place more suitable for herself, and believed the place Helios had found within the vault might offer more promise.  Helios took the cube from Naran and phased through the door again.  While looking around the room, he was met by two pale-skinned humans(?) who had some claim on the area he had discovered.  They agreed to give him 1/3 of the contents of the room, which seemed fair.  Meanwhile, Naran and Drokkan found themselves beset by dangerous bubbles issuing from what remained of the propulsion artifact they'd been examining when the whale awoke as well as a large rock-creature...

- +1xp

Black Foxes: Lady Molfon's Jewels pt. I

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

- The ghost who appeared in the Foxes' coal-mine lair intruded upon Drave's mind, showing him a tower in another district of the city containing the ritual components binding him to the witch Quellyn, before something pulled him back into the Ghost Field.

- Erik scouted the guard situation at the Molfon Estate ahead of their score attempt against it.  Their noble contact Adelaide - through her servant Marta - had told them of a particular piece of jewelry she wanted from the Molfon family. 

- Though they started off well, their plan to sneak into the house quickly went sideways as they were spotted by two guards who raised the alarm.  After knocking one out, Erik intimidated the other who ran for help.  Their cover blown, the two smashed a window to get inside but set off a security measure in the process which lit up the entire house with electroplasmic light.  Drave began grabbing anything of value while Erik cowed a servant girl into telling him where the jewels were kept.

- Erik hurried upstairs into the master bedroom where he found a jewelry chest open and mostly empty.  Suspecting someone hiding in the room with the missing jewels, he opened the closet door whereupon Lady Molfon shot at him with her husband's pistol and bolted for the open door.

- Drave found a couple of coin worth of valuables on a mantle and eventually ended up in the music room when all of the lights in the manor went out and the ghost of an old woman appeared at the piano...

Mysts of the Ninth World: Awakening Giants

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Nearing completion of the airship project and still in need of a bearing on their destination, Piper went to speak with Garrot at the Grand Orrery about something few know to be concealed within it: The Atlas.  Though he was initially dismissive, Piper eventually convinced him to let her see it.  The Atlas turned out to be some form of VR planetarium showing all of the major solar system bodies.  Upon viewing this array, Piper's subconscious was able to manipulate the device - though, afterward, she was unsure how or why she'd done so.

- Black, liquid-like "tentacles" slipped themselves into the power vault where Polious, Ronin, and Ganthet were attempting to restore stablility to the Weathervane.  The tendrils flowed themselves around people and objects as Ronin and Ganthet tried desperately to sever them while keeping the newly-connected core from malfunctioning.  The grasping strands of darkness ultimately found the power core and began leeching energy from it.  As Ganthet attempted to hack it away, a surge of will from somewhere in darkness beyond strengthened its hold, tearing both Ronin and the core from the wall and pulling them toward the abyss.

- Naran, Helios, and Drokkan immediately began attempting to depower the propulsion artifact they had inadvertently awakened even as the whale and the city on its back lurched forward toward the seabed.  The giant creature with its ring of lights floated back toward them, seemingly curious about this new source of activity and extendended rigid, vine-like tendrils into the aft of the ship.  Naran and Drokkan were able to deactivate the machine after only a few attempts and, as the whale-city began drifting to a stop, they all felt for a moment as though disaster had been averted.  It was then that the static energy build-up made its presense known - growing to an intensity that resulted in a powerful arc between the propulsion device and the bulbous eyes of the looming creature trailing them.  The creature reacted instinctively, ripping its tendrils from the aft of the city and shredding much of the surrounding structure in the process.  This dislodged the massive propulsion artifact, which fell some distance toward the sea floor before it was caught by some sort of cabling which tore free down the starboard side, swinging the heavy device out in that direction and causing the whale to roll along with it.  Just when the rotation had nearly inverted the city, the colossal creature finally awoke.  Startled by the sudden activity behind it, it immediately began swimming toward what it believed to be the surface, smashing its back into the ocean floor beneath its entire mass; crushing the settlement that once perched atop it.  The titanic creature thrashed about as it attempted to right itself - splintering wood, synth, and steel - before it finally succeeded in rolling over and ascending from the rubble.  Naran and Helios had managed to get clear of the whale before the impact and avoided being buried in the waves of sediment kicked up from the sea floor by the flailing beast.  They found Drokkan amidst the rubble, unharmed and smiling - standing before the partially buried vault.

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: The Murky Future

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper went to speak with Ryse and the other Aeon priests at the Embassy of Truth, telling them about the transdimensional device she found in The Pipes.  She also spent some time in the Embassy's library looking over the available maps.  Ibe and a few of the other priests suggested some courses of action to determine the location of her home.

- Ronin and Ganthet went down into the ruins beneath the Weathervane with Polious to finally repair the artifact with the power core they'd recovered.  Upon reaching the jury-rigged setup in the vault-like power room, they determined that the connections on the replacement core weren't going to make the project overly easy - and nor were the black tentacles reaching in after them...

- Helios began phasing through the vault door to see what was inside while Naran and Drokkan continued exploring the hold.  They didn't find much else of interest in the vast storage areas of the ship-city - aside from a massive creature with a ring of lights around its head investigating the structure they were in.  They pulled Helios back out just after he'd seen that the room on the other side of the Vault door was not at all what he expected.  They talked for a minute about whether to address the creature, but decided not to chance agitating it - though they'd have to wait for it to leave before feeling it would be safe to reenter the vault.  In the meantime, they decided to investigate the device Naran had previously discovered in the aft.  They began scavenging it for numenera components when a portion of it unexpectedly powered up - and began pushing the whale-city forward, toward the sea floor...

- +2xp

Black Foxes: Made Manifest

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

Characters:

Erik [Tony] : Lurk

- Drave [Tim] : Whisper

New Contacts:

- Telda : a roaming beggar and a good source for info on the street

- Flint: a spirit trafficker with a shop in the Foxes' territory

- Kobb: a gambler and broker who takes bets on the fights at the Broken Anchor

New Rivals:

- Quellyn: a witch who holds a grudge against Drave for interrupting a ritual and the resulting injury and scar

- Darmot: a Coalridge Bluecoat who seems to have it in for Erik

- Candra: a sailor/boxer who underestimated him once and now takes special pleasure in beating him down

Session Highlights:

- As they finished setting up their operation, the crew got two score opportunities: one from their noble contact, and the other from the Circle of Flame.  The first was to steal a particular antique necklace from a rival noble, and the second was to obtain an artifact from a carraige about to move through their turf.  Since the latter was more time-sensitive, they decided to act on it first and risk the noble's impatience.

- Drave decided on a setup action to scout the likely routes and find a ghost that he could push to manifest and distract the Spirit Warden driver of the carriage.  He was successful, but the spirit took an interest in him: it's apparently being controlled by another and it seeks release.

- While the driver was distracted, Erik entered the carriage and found it coated with ice.  He managed to free the box containing the Soul Gem from its containment and made a run for it before the Warden could catch him.

- The Circle of Flame was impressed by the Foxes' daring success and gave them the 6 coin payoff promised.

- The crew took a fair bit of heat from the operation as they were both spotted and the Spirit Wardens are a high-profile faction.  Erik attempted to pin the deed on some local rivals, the Stone Club, but only managed in further agitating that gang.

- The two had spent a day or to trying to unwind from the stress of their score and were planning their operation against the Molfon Estate for Adelaide's necklace when the spirit Drave and previously coerced appeared in their hidden lair...

Mysts of the Ninth World: The Primary Objective

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet return to the illusory forest they'd encountered when they'd started their quest - though it had definitely moved further north from its previous position.  They made their way through the hologrammatic trees as quickly as possible, though it took several hours.  Somewhere near the center of the wood, they found a giant, tangible tree surrounded by large, translucent pods.  A nearby pool of water allowed them to refill their canteens for the remainder of their journey, though something about the place felt 'off'.  When they finally reached Arable, they were greeted with desparate pleading and endless questions - particularly about their missing companions and the success of their mission.  They learned that the Weathervane's function had been steadily deteriorating since they left and would need attention soon if the settlement is to survive.

- Naran and Helios continued exploring the wrecked whale-city with Drokkan.  Naran found a sort of command or navigation room while Helios phased through a pressure-sealed bulkhead to enter the captain's quarters, which were still dry.  Inside he found numenera devices and a chest of shins amid the mess of papers and objects thrown from shelves and tables.  Naran found some interesting maps for which she went to some lengths to salvage and preserve, as well as a metal safe which she cut from the surrounding equipment.  After giving the remainder of the bow a once-over, the three proceeded into the cargo holds where they found some metal plates that superheated when they came in contact with one another, a crate of pearls that seemed to repel water, and a large metal vault which promised their real payday...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: A Hitch in the Plan

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet fought off the trio of margr, who turned out to be sentries for a massive encampment further into the northern badlands.  They were able to outrun the pursuing band, eventually arriving at the oasis they had visited some weeks before.  Once more, the glowing purple diamond appeared above the well at the site, and individuals seemingly from different worlds or realities wandered in.

- Piper and Olim cleaned up the tower and made some plans to carefully limit what they divulged about their project.  When the inspection came, however, the Queen herself was leading the examination.  Unfortunately, she was able to determine the nature of the craft they were restoring and, as Olim feared, had in mind several uses for it.  To prevent the commandeering of his new vessel, Piper suggested they finish repairs on the ship and then use it to leave for her home of Arable - if they could determine the precise direction.

- Naran, Helios, and Drokkan split up and began exploring the whale/ship/city.  Naran located a large numenera device at the aft surrounded by glowing fish and Drokkan found what he believed to be the "captain's quarters" but was unable to get inside.  Helios, however, ran afoul of a giant black eel-like creature and some dangerous plants.  The group managed to fight it off and resumed their exploration of the strange place.

Black Foxes: The Crew

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

System: Blades in the Dark

Setting: Doskvol, the Shattered Isles

Players: Tony, Tim

Schedule: Occasional Weeknights


Starting a small, experimental Blades in the Dark campaign.

Tonight, we made the crew: the Black Foxes.  A pair of disgruntled ex-miners from the district of Coalridge got together and decided to start a more lucrative, less legal enterprise.  With the help of some chance relationships they've set up a hideout in a disused corner of the coal mine and have their sights on an area of the declining Six Towers district still possessed of some unjustified wealth.

Crew Type: Shadows (theives/spies)

Contacts: Adelaide Phraoig (noble), Lerrin (toolmaker), Mirage (Circle of Flame contact), Ulf Ironborn (gang leader)

Allies: The Circle of Flame (Occultists), Ulf Ironborn's gang (Bravos)

Enemies: The Stone Club (Bravos), The Dimmer Sisters (Occultists)

Mysts of the Ninth World: Keep It Together

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet headed east across the desert plains, but their not-quite-domesticated aneen kept driving them north.  Ronin noticed the brilliant-purple object above the oasis they'd seen on their original journey west and reoriented their course but from their northward position, this took them through a badlands region.   They found themselves under attack by margr and are now attempting to fight off the abhumans while keeping their wild pack animal from running off.

- Piper and Olim's meeting with magistrate Quince was interrupted by the Angulan Knight Yal-Sara as she "delivered" the body of a man she'd been sent after.  Once the magistrate regained his composure, he decreed that Olim must provide documentation on his efforts and agree to an imspection.  On their way back to the tower, he voiced to Piper his concern that the queen was angling to seize control of his services and the airship he was restoring.

- Naran and Helios followed Drokkan through the crowds gathering around the return of Vareallius' ship to talk with a skeane friend of his about some deep water equipment for his new companions.  Once this was acquired, the three headed up through the membrane gates and into the cold, dark waters.  They jetted along the sea floor to the place where the deeping martelling was sleeping and then up into the city on its back and made plans to split up and see what they could find in the time.

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Pulled In

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios continued into the darkness of the South Loop.  After getting pulled deeper in to the Rustways by a strange current and encountering some massive monsters that seemed to repeatedly appear and disappear, they found their way back to the corridor and on to the Scavengers' Wreck, the more inhabited portion of this dark ruin.  There, they eventually found Drokkan, the many they were looking for who they were told found something in the ruins that might be able to transport them elsewhere.  Unfortunately, he insisted he was pressed for time at the moment - so the two agreed to go with him to help with whatever he was doing: which turned out to be exploring the remains of a deeping martelling whale settlement...

- Ganthet and Ronin evaded the monstrous metal automaton that emerged from a doorway on the far side of the large chamber they'd decended into when it unexpectedly powered-down.  In fact, the entire complex seemed to be powering up and then losing power at regular intervals.  Ronin led them further into the ruin where they found various control rooms and eventually a vertical shaft lined with glass pods, some of which contained creatures that had seemingly been grafted with plants. - one of which, a margr, was still alive.  The ladder in the shaft gave them access to the hatch at the top, and they emerged back onto the plain above.  The aneen Ganthet had left tied up had eventually worn itself out trying to escape, and was now calmly resting.

- An explosion blew out a wall at the top of the tower and sent Piper falling down the stairway into the room below, where Olim was still trying to catch the escaped threviars.  The two pursued the darting creatures downstairs, where they apparently repowered an automaton friend of Olim's and then animated a giant pile of junk which began harrying Piper as she continued her search for some sort of containment device.  It was about this time that there was a pounding on the front door and a voice demanding that Olim come out.  Piper and Olim managed to break apart the junk pile and collect the remaining threviars about the time the door burst open amd one of the Rarmon guards came in and insisted they come with him to speak with the magistrate...

Mysts of the Ninth World: What Lurks Within

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper returned to Olim's tower and resumed helping him on his airship restoration.  They encountered a large number of mysteriously burned out components related to the man's previous attempts to restore functionality to the craft.  As they worked, snakes seemingly composed entirely of electricity leapt out of the craft and began causing havoc with other nearby devices whie the two tried to recapture them...

- While attempting to climb up and out of the opening from which he was dangling, Ronin mistakenly grabbed a vinelike plant and his weight ripped its shallow roots from the structure until it snagged on a piece of machinery.  While he climbed the rest of the way down, Ganthet descended into the chamber himself.  As they surveyed their surroundings, the blocky tower that jutted up from the center of the chamber lit up and the entire structure began a small but intense vibration.  A number of nearby panels powered up, while other areas began to pop and spark with shorting circuits.  Ronin noted a number of broad holes that had been punched through the walls of the chamber from outside just before a pounding sound of metal-on-metal began...

- Naran and Helios spent some time speaking with Thuriss and Marna at the now-emptied Great 'Leens tavern before setting out through the city toward the South Loop.  The pair's persistence with the guards at the gate eventually yielded results and the door was opened for them - revealing the dark, tunnel-like passage into this newly-opened section of the Rustways...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: An Entrance or Exit

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper awoke and continued attempting to find her way through the caverns and back to the surface.  She found a spiraling passage heading downward which led to a chamber full of crystals and eventually a room full of complex machinery.  She was confronted by a glowing banner-like entity which asked her a number of questions before asking if she wished to return to the surface.  After answering in the affirmative, the next thing she knew she was on the crowded streets of Rarmon with her back to the Obstinate Door. 

- Thruird blasted the Great 'Leens with bursts of ice from her mask while panicked bystanders fled.  Naran was temporarily frozen to one of the pub's machines and Helios attempted to tackle their assailant and cover her face.  The attempt failed, but it did distract her long enough for Naran to free herself and engage the Russet in conversation.  The unexpected turn confused the girl enough that she dissipated the mask and left - obviously still angry but no logner violent.  In the remains of the bar, the two spoke for some time about how to proceed in finding a way back to the mainland.

- Ganthet waited for Ronin for some time before leaving the power core in a "safe" place and heading north after the herd.  As he approached a watering hole next to a cliffside, Ronin found him - now human but covered with smears of blood.  The two made their way to the water's edge, where they were greeted mentally by some unseen entity.  When they were unable to comply with its requests for a "clearance code", the ground began to shake.  Ganthet hopped on a nearby aneen before it bolted away, but Ronin fell into the water and was unable to escape before the bottom fell out of the pool into a massive underground chamber.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Fragile Rage

Wednesday December 13, 2017 at 8:00pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- While trying to trap an aneen to use as a pack animal, something inside Ronin was overcome with hunger.  He transformed into an enourmous red serpent and began tearing open the scattering animals.  His ravenous feast was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a cragworm, which fought with him for territory - nearly dragging Ganthet off after being greviously injured.  Ronin, still a giant snake, pursued the fleeing herd beasts to the northeast while Ganthet recovered.

- Piper was attempting to find her way up and out of the cavernous depths when she encountered a small hive of crab-like creatures seemingly composed of the cast-off junk around her.  The brushed them off and eluded their pursuit for some time, before stomping on one that surprised her.  It let out a piercing sustained shriek, which awoke something giant behind her in the darkness.  Whatever it was bellowed and pounded the walls and floor of the cavern, causing underground earthquakes that nearly buried her.

- Naran and Helios entered the "Great 'Leens" tavern and learned something about the place and its odd games, as well as the city at large and some possible ways back to the surface.  The most apparent seemed to be Varealius' craft or a gateway found by a man called Dokkan, but they were also told they could speak with the Deephunters (skeane that know the area outside the city well) and/or consult the Datavault for more information.  Their conversations were interrupted, however, when the bartender called for a drinking game and unwittingly insulted a teenaged girl - who then revealed herself as Thruird, the Russet, and began ripping appart the tavern with blasts of ice from her conjured mask...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: This New Strangeness

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- After being "decontaminated", Naran and Helios received a brief orientation on the city, including information about the "Four Scylines" (the machine gods that "rule" the city), the "florrine" concoction they were required to injest daily, city service, layout, and basic services; after which, they were given their "passtags".  They asked the skeane they were speaking to about access to the surface and the mainland and it told them they were a long distance from shore and many miles beneath the surface, but that there was a man called 'Varrealius' who owned a submersible craft that made voyages to such places.  He was currently away but expected back at any time.  From there, the two ventured into the city.  They found one of the marketplaces in the Rustways where Helios encountered an imposing octipoidal woman in search of a new "servant" - one of 7 human males carrying an odd array of objects in trance-like states.  She was becoming increasingly agitated and insistent when Naran shot a flare which distracted her enough for Helios to use one of his abilities which caused her to forget the past 5 minutes.  Confused, she withdrew back into the city and Naran and Helios proceeded into a nearby tavern which seemed to be engaged in a variety of strange games...

- Ronin and Ganthet managed to slay the towering beast assaulting them, but in so doing ruptured some internal organ that drenched Ganthet in acid.  They proceeded to the edge of the plains below the Black Riage before camping whereupon the cypher levitating their cargo finally burned out for good.  Fortunately, they could see a promising herd of aneen on the plain below that might well serve as pack animals if they could be subdued.  UNfortunately, the presence inside of Ronin was becoming active again - and insisting that he feed on the creatures' flesh...

- After recovering a bit, Piper got up and began exploring the darkness into which she had fallen.  Her only light source was herself, as she still retained a faint green glow from the Numenera incident above.  She found numerous piles of cast off bits of old devices - and even one or two usable objects - before a tall and skeletal automaton took interest in her.  After going through her possessions, he took her burned-out headband artifact and strode back into the darkness.  Piper followed, finding her way to a place where the ground and walls no longer seemed to be stone, but rather a pulsing, squishy, reddish substance.  She recovered her headband from where the automaton had placed it (on one of the piles) and found nearby some sort of transdimensional device embedded in the stone.  She studied it for a few moments before setting out to find a way back into the more populous tunnels above...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: On Into Darkness

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper was on her way to convincing her assailant that he had mistaken her identity when malfunctioning machinery distracted them.  Arcs of electricity infused her with some form of energy and hideously mutated the madman. She continued deeper into the Pipes and was jumped by a thief attempting to steal her pack.  Piper managed to hold onto her belongings but not her footing, tumbling down a pit into darkness...

- Ronin and Ganthet were able to jumpstart the gravity cypher again, allowing them to push the power core down the mountain toward the plain.  Wanting to make the most of whatever time it had remaining, they pushed on into the night and found themselves ambushed just after twilight by a tall, fierce, and 6-limbed creature...

- Having returned to the relative safety of Rethirra, Naran and Helios chose a new book - this time, one of the small volumes labeled with 'Alaeta' - a place they suspected might be associated with Earth.  Linking through the book into a dark alleyway, they found their environment was filled with liquid rather than air, and in attempts to recover attracted the attention of one of the creatures dwelling.  It quickly led them into the city to a place where they could be "decontaminated".  In the subsequent conversations, Helios and Naran were pleased to discovered that they were, in fact, back on Earth - even if the specific location turned out to be a sealed city on the in the black depths of the ocean..

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Brutal Necessity

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper decided she would see what progress she could make toward the task the Order of Truth had set for her.  Finding the storm-drain entrance the priests had told her about, she decended into the underworld known to the citizens of Rarmon as "the Pipes".  She had a chance encounter with a strange fortune-teller with a glowing third eye who offered strange visions, wandered into some dark warrens, and eventually made her way into a surprisingly populated area before being accosted by a large man demanding she keep her end of some unknown bargain...

- Naran and Helios bolted back up the stairs as the doors burst open and two avian heads on long, serpentine necks surveyed the room and a cloud of thick, blue fog billowed outward.  They were pursued by 3, smaller, 4-legged, bird-like creatures with two heads - presumably the large creature's offspring.  The mind-altering fog they produced proved confusing to Helios who had some difficulty escaping it even while Naran called to him from outside while using her cutting light ability to keep the creatures at bay.  When his escape was ultimately made, the two ran the final distance back to the top, barricaded themselves in the large office, and linked back to the library on Rethirra using one of the books they'd brought with them.

- Ronin and Ganthet found the town of Urnmoll was in disarray.  A massive, whale-like creature floated over the town, raining shards of black crystal.  The townsfolk seemed to be gathering possessions in preparation to leave - all except a handful trying desperately to repair the Hydrosource, and Seluxii who was preocuppied with Rell who seemed to be ill in some way.  Their nejavin companion Vlorrex, seemingly able to understand the villagers' language to some extent, ended up staying to help them while Ronin and Ganthet proceeded to the place they'd stashed the power core.  They attached the cypher Vlorrex had made for them and covered the large device with coats and bedrolls.  The two somehow managed to keep the few villagers that attempted to speak with them on their way out from discerning exactly what they were doing - all except one particular old woman who simply eyed them suspiciously while suggesting they might not be on the right track.  They got the device just outside the town when Vlorrex's device malfunction and the heavy core dropped unceremoniously to the ground.

- +1xp

Of Dragons, Tables, and Podcasts

Monday November 20, 2017 at 12:17pm podcasting, gaming, thetabledragon Comments (0) »
Of Dragons, Tables, and Podcasts Image

"Oh man, if I had an hour..."

So Rucht, a gamer friend of mine who runs an RPG group I play in (not to be confused with the group I run), happens to head up the tabletop games track at DragonCon.  Rucht was also the guy who introduced me to gaming podcasts via Fear the Boot, and is someone with whom I somewhat regularly have interesting discussions about the various facets of this hobby with both like so much.

A while back (maybe a year ago?) he approached me about doing a podcast of our own on some of this stuff.  He said he's often been asked questions at the con that he just doesn't have time to answer, and he thought it would be cool if there was some resource he could point people to on some of this stuff.  Also, since the two of us are rarely at a loss for gamery things to talk about, he thought we could produce some pretty substantial content that others might find useful (or, at least interesting).

Lanching a 'Cast

The goal was to launch the podcast - which we dubbed "The Table Dragon" - for this year's DragonCon.  We were *mostly* successful (I might have been up until ridiculous hours editing episode 1, and subsequently thinking I lost said editing work).  The site was plain and boring, but the basic content was there.  We don't have (read: "I haven't found time to make") a dedicated site yet, but the libsyn feed is so far "adequate".

Solidifying the Project

This weekend I took a couple of so-so photos so we could have some basic imagery (which doesn't look great at every resolution on the libsyn feed, but...), finished editing Episode 2, and published that stuff.

Now I'm starting to be a little proud of this thing.  It looks decent, and I think our two episodes are actually pretty good (even if I hate listening to myself talk on recordings).

We have recorded a third, and we have some interesting plans for something cool and different for our next episode.  So we'll see where this goes.

 

~PS

Mysts of the Ninth World: Forward Progress

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet fought off the murden ambush and then decided to take shelter inside the wreck once again so they could rest and Vlorrex could finish work on their gravity-negation cypher.  Once completed, the trio set out for Urnmoll.

- Piper returned to the tower with Olim, and, after spending a couple of days examining the project, began work once again.  At the end of the second day, their efforts were rewarded with some success as they were able to activate the machine's console on temporary power.  Satisfied with this progress, Piper decided to take a bit of time off to learn more about the Pipes - where the Embassy wished to send her in search of a dormant device.

- Naran and Helios spent some time examining their options, and ultimately decided to use a linking book called 'Anumos'.  On the other side they found what appeared to be the remains of a sprawling building used as some form of academy, along with linking books with similar titles.  Near the lowest part of the complex, they found a chamber which Helios recognized as the area viewed through another book they'd seen weeks ago - but this thought was interrupted by the crash of something impacting the other side of a set of sturdy doors...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Available Resources

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios fought off some sort of discorporating, glass-breathing lizard creature and search the ruined study - finding several more of the books presumably capable of transporting them to other locations, in addition to a note referencing a crumbling civilization and a man they once met in some sort of time-distortion field.

- Piper followed Olim to the Embassy of Truth.  After some explanation, the priests were able to restore her material state - at least temporarily.  The priests seemed interested in Piper and her experiences, and suggested there was something she could do for them.  Olim, however, pointed out that she'd already "promised" to assist him with the restoration of his "airship".

- Ronin and Ganthet made their way through the wreck back to the pod bay where they had Vlorrex begin work on the device they needed.  Before he could finish, however, something in the pod ship they'd taken refuge within activated and automatons became active outside in the bay.  They decided they should run for it, narrowly escaping the pod bay before the bay doors above opened and the pod ship lifted off.  They made their way out of the larger wreck - only to find themselves under attack...

- +4xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Impediments

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios spoke with the old woman for some time, learning a bit about the ancestors who created the portal books - which she seemed to regard as foolish and overly ambitious.  As they were intent on finding their way home, she told them of the ruin of a library far to the south which may still contain some of these books preserved in unusual blocks of glass.  After some discussion, they decided traveling there would be their next move.  Upon arriving they quickly found the glass structures and their preserved objects - as well as a large and apparently-agitated lizard-like creature...

- Ronin and Ganthet made their way back through the ruin toward the pod where they'd left the nejavin.  As they hurried through the ship, they were accosted by some form of mechanical humanoid which attempted to steal some of their gathered components, until Ganthet's electrified fist finally connected, damaging it enough that it withdrew.

- Intent on getting the inventor's attention, Piper began throwing his equipment around the work room - causing him much confusion as to what was happening.  She was finally able to get his attention and explain her situation by writing on some nearby schematics.  The inventor - whose name was Olim - told her that their best bet for reversing her condition would be to speak with the priests at the Embassy of Truth...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Uncontrolled Interface

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet continued their exploration of the crashed vessel, eventually finding a shaft-like structure they believed to be part of the craft's power generator.  They were beginning to harvest some components from the structure when it suddenly activated, sending a blue energy pulse down the tube, accompanied by some form of energy being that complicated their escape.

- Naran and Nimerun, having climbed back out of the hole where they'd activated the device, watched the bright blue beam firing up into the sky.  As they were about to return to the old woman's cave, they heard a distant sound and noted another beam firing up into the sky a great distance away.  Then a third.  More sounds followed.  When they returned to the old woman, she seemed to have all but forgotten the errand on which she'd sent them, though she was glad to hear they were successful.  Their conversation was interrupted by a great roar, and Naran decided to go check on Helios...

- Helios and the girl made their way to the dormant "leviathan" with instructions on how to put it back to "sleep" or possibly keep it from waking.  As Helios climbed up onto the creature toward its head, the girl began singing a strange, unnatural "song" and aggressive plants immediately began erupting from the cracks in the creature's hide.  Helios arrived at a massive, opening eye and jammed the injector device into it.  The girl began shrieking as the enormous creature stirred to life, partially lifting itself from the swamp.  The dazed creature flailed after them for a few moments before the old woman's concoction did its work and the beast collapsed back into the water, once more unconscious.  By this time, Naran had arrived and was already pulling the incoherent girl to saftey.  The three of them returned to the village.

- Piper was still with the Angulan Knight and the priest when a man called Quince arrived.  The Knight's patience barely tolerated the man, but ultimately they came to an agreement: she would be permitted entrance to the city in exchange for pursuing a man wanted for the murder of a local noble.  Piper, still seemingly invisible and intangible, followed them into the crowded city, but decided to go her own way once inside.  While heading further in, she happened by a tall, misshapen tower when some sort of "incident" happened inside causing thick, blue smoke to issue from all visible windows.  A man appeared at the door, coughing, and was quickly accosted by two guardsmen who seemed to chastise of threaten him.  The guards left, but before the man withdrew, he made brief eye contact with her.  Piper decided to follow him inside - moving through the door in her immaterial state.  Finding him working on some device at the top of the building, she attempted to get his attention.  He seemed to be able to see (if not hear) her - that is, until he removed his goggles...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Sating the Beast

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet continued deeper into the wreck they were exploring, coming upon a processing bank of some kind.  While scavenging for parts, the scattered debris began assembling itself into towering construct which assualted them.  A purplish, tentacled creature then approached them, finally convincing Ronin to take a bite from its bread-like outer flesh.  Consuming this part of the creature seemed to sate it in some way, but Ronin the last hour or so of his memory replaced by a scene of burning wreckage.

- As the caravan awaited inspection outside the city, Piper witnessed an heated exchange between the town guard and a well-armored woman who'd flown up to the city on a large, reptilian creature.  The Xi-drake seemed able to see Piper, and made some movement toward her as if to investigate until the disagreement at the gate became physical.  An Aeon Priest arrived on the scene and had some success diffusing the situation.  The caravan was permitted entry, but Piper decided to stay and listen to the conversation between the priest and the Angulan knight.  Apparently, she had come from Dynafel in search of a varjellan fugitive.

- Naran proceeded through the village after the spick whom she'd been sent to assist by the old woman.  The two of them dove into a large circular pool and made for a metal artifact protruding from its center - apparently the source of the painful pulses that were emanating through the settlement.  After some doing, the two were able to stop the pulses by more fully activating the device, which was now firing a bright blue beam up into the sky.

- Helios, meanwhile, took a small boat out of the village to the south and was gathering red flowers for the old woman when he noted some bubbles in the water moving in his direction.  As he was rowing himself back to the village, a massive, plant-like creature erupted from the water and began flailing about.  The creature made his escape difficult, but he ultimately returned with the needed blooms.  The woman mixed into the concoction she was making, loaded it into a strange, gun-like device, which she handed to Helios - sending him and a strange girl into the swamp to the south, telling him they must put the "Leviathan" back to sleep...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Unexpected Turns

Tuesday September 26, 2017 at 8:00pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios continued south along the waterway, eventually arriving in Quei after a brief encounter with some gate-keeping automatons in the canyon.  The town occupied a series of docks and platforms suspended over a swamp.  The townsfolk were less than helpful, but the two eventually found their way to The River's cave, where she immediately set them to work on some seemingly-urgent task with no explanation.

- Ronin and Ganthet rested, further discussed their next action, and spoke with Vlorrex.  They decided their best bet was the power core they'd stashed outside of Urnmoll, and if Vlorrex could cobble together some form of null-gravity cypher to make transportation easier, they could probably managed to get it out of town.  Vlorrex then sent them out into the wreck to scavenge for parts where they came upon some sort of lab containing large tanks of reddish liquid and a mass of malfunctioning, mechanical manipulator arms.

- Piper survived the explosion but found that she had somehow become invisible and insubstantial.  No one was able to hear or see her, and interacting with objects had become difficult.  The caravan reassembled after the ordeal, made camp, and spent a considerable about of time scavenging the remains of the beast and the Hearth before setting out early the following morning.  Piper decided to continue on with the caravan and, after about another day an a half, they all arrived at the gates of Rarmon.

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Opening Doors

Tuesday September 19, 2017 at 8:00pm numenera, mysts of the ninth world, game session notes Comments (0) »
 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios spoke with their otter-man friend again as they rested in preparationg to dive into the 'forbidden waters' in search of a way to access a starship they'd been told of by The Sisters.  He showed them a book he'd taken from a fallen Yefort raider - one that contained a black view-panel like Helios' "broken" volume.  He suggested they go to Quei and talk to "The River".

- Ronin and Ganthet explored the vault-lined hallway connected to the cargo hold of the small crafted they'd found within the wrecked carrier.  Among other things, they found a small by exceedingly heavy coin, a jacket and some wood and metal staves, and a strange rectangular book containing a viewport overlooking a rock-lined pool in a redwood forest.

- Lengthy discussions on next moves insued.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Upheaval

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Agan emerged from the crowd around Naran and Helios, claiming they had brought ruin to the village and accusing Eufren of aiding in the destruction.  When it became apparent public opinion was going south and Agan and his henchment wished to do them harm, Helios pried up some floorboards inside the central ruin and the two escaped by diving into the waters beneath and swimming out.  At Helios' direction, they made for the woodlands containing the otter-man's home.

- While Ronin and Vlorrex attempted to activate the consoles to reconstruct the nejavin's body, Ganthet took a look around in the surrounding chambers, and found they were directly above a massive bay containing some sort of space-faring craft.  When Ronin engaged the final switch to activate the equipment, a short set off a power surge in the craft accompanied by a dramatic shift, which pitched the vessel downward a further 20 degrees.  Making their way to the craft bay once the floors stilled and the nejavin's head was once again reunited with its body, the trio made their way into the ship they had found within the ruin.  It contained a control room in near-perfect condition, obviously-nonhuman crew quarters, some unusually empty pods, and a large hold with a loading door open to a large hall lined with vaults...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: It Can Take You There

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet followed the nejavin's head to the wrecked craft wedged into giant crack where the mountain had split open.  They navigated its interior until they found the place where the creature's body had been trapped.  On the way, they encountered a colony of mouse-like creatures which seemed to take some interest in them - until they reached a room with strange puddle of a viscous, acrid substance and some rotting, tentacle-like appendages protruding from it.  They glitterbombed the room with a detonation Ganthet had been carrying and hurried through.  When they reached their destination, they found the nejavin's body separated into several pieces and suspended in the air, but apparently functioning as though it were still whole.

- Naran and Helios met with The Sisters who told them of a craft in planetary orbit that might be able to return them to their homeworld - and also that a means to reach it might be found in the "forbidden waters" of the valley outside the village.  The two were then presented with a small, translucent cube and told that it would be necessary if they wished to use the spacecraft, but when Naran took the device, the Sisters vanished and their chamber transformed from the white stone building it had been to a plain, sandstone ruin that more closely resembled the rest of the village.  When they emerged, they found Eufren wide-eyed and demanding to know what they had done...

- Piper and one of the hunters attempted to destroy the rampaging beast with a cannon-like numenera device the caravan had been carrying, but it malfunctioned after discharging only twice, though that was sufficient to attract the creature's attention, and it smashed into the wagon - splintering the vehicle and sending the device flying.  Seeing their one method of injuring the creature lost, the hunter retreated, but Piper had another idea.  Short-circuiting the damaged artifact and bypassing its power regulators, she caused it begin building up a catastrophic charge.  With the help of some others nearby, she loaded it onto a wagon and shoved the unstable device toward the monster as the others fled.  The resulting explosion was more powerful than she had anticipated, however, and ripped through the beast, the landscape, and the remainder of the camp before she had time to react...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Raids and Respite

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios helped defend the village of Mekel against the raiders and their presence now seems to be generally accepted by most of the settlement.  Eufren suggested that they speak to The Sisters, who they're told are leaders of the community.

- Ronin and Ganthet managed to force the murden to retreat further up and in to the nest.  While Ganthet watched for a coming ambush, Ronin freed the skull-like creature who told them of the ruined craft further up into the mountains which the murden had been scavenging.

- The caravan Piper was accompanying arrived at a waypoint with a large crystal that radiated significant heat.  As camp setup was completing, she left the site with a few scouts who found a small caffa swarm and decided to go hunt for goldgleam.  As they were heading back, however, they became aware of a huge creature terrorizing the encampment...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Not From Around Here

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin and Ganthet set off to find the murden.  The hike up into the mountains was arduous, but eventually lead them to a small plateau tucked into the cliffs where they found dozens of rough columns of various diameters but all about 75 feet tall.  Between the columns were stretched various hides and insect carapaces, forming a sort of multi-leveled nest.  They approached to attempt to speak with the abhumans, but were ultimately ambushed when they entered the area.

- Piper had some time to rest and was eventually retrieved by a humanoid that had sets of tentacles in place of arms.  He lead her from the room...and that was the last thing she remembers of that place.  The next thing she recalls is being awakened by a group of travellers atop a column-like structure somewhere in the south of the Pytharon Empire - a name she happens to recognize as being a kingdom in the Steadfast, which lies across the Black Riage and hundreds of miles from her home.

- Helios attempted to communicate with the otter-man who had invited him in, but didn't have much luck.  The creature's responses were unintelligible and somewhat odd.  Eventually he fell asleep, only to awaken a short time later with the otter-man standing over him.  He then began asking Helios questions, apparently in The Truth(?), about where he came from and what he would do.  When Helios told him he was trying to find his friend and return to their home planet, the creature took him to Mekel - which was under attack.

- Naran spoke for some time to Eufren and Motof about the books, the planet they're on, and the surrounding area, before an alarm from somewhere in the village startled her hosts.  Racing outside, they found much of the settlement already in flames as a raiding party from the nearby, sinking village of Yefort descended upon the town...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: So Many Questions

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Through some cleverness and good fortune, Ronin was able disuade Seluxii from pushing them out of the village of Urnmoll.  The group of them proceeded to have a conversation about recent events and the party's goals (hopefully without giving too much away).  The key points discussed were the murden that raided the village and (likely unintentionally) summoned the craft that took Piper, and a man said to be the foremost expert on power supplys residing in the steadfast.  After a rest, Ronin and Ganthet decided to go after the murden in hopes that they can learn something of what happened to their friend.

- Unable to find a suitably hidden location in the floating village, Helios decided to swim to a wooded shore to the north.  There he found an otter-like humanoid who invited(?) him into its dwelling for food and rest.

- Naran used her cutting light to stab at the octopoidal creature pursuing them while she and the boy escaped the remaining distance to the surface - which turned out to be under some section of the floating settlement.  He led her to a building where another man was apparently waiting for them.  The man gave Naran some sort of potion that rendered her unconscious, but when she awoke, she found she could speak to and understand them.  She was in a village called Mekel, and the man's name was Eufren.  He seemed very interested in the fact that she was an outsider and where she came from.  He told her that their ancestors had once traveled between worlds very easily, but he didn't know how they had done it.  Naran's stories about the books that had transported her and her friend fascinated him.

- Piper decided to spend some time attempting to repair her burned-out headband artifact while waiting to see what would happen next.  After several hours, she was interrupted and lead (apparently) out of the craft she was in and into some other structure.  There, she was taken to a massive chamber where several entities locked deep within some sort of crystal asked her a myriad of questions about herself and her world.  Her responses were clever and informative, and so The Seven (as they called themselves) took a particular interest in her.  After some time, they suggested that they would speak more, but that she and they required rest...

- +4xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Cages and Snares

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Multiple drones and automatons (or possibly, armored entities) emerged from the cylindrical craft and began a sort of harvest of the surrounding village.  Using stunning and tranquilizing weaponry, they subdued Piper and Ganthet, though only the former was actually taken.

- Helios made a quick exit from the chamber where the robotic entity was tending to the thirsty machine.  He hadn't made it very far when he heard the sounds of the reptilian cats pursuing him.  Upon reaching the pool where he'd entered, he once again encountered a strange, hovering being with heavy robes and one large, mechanical eye.  It asked several questions of him before sinking back into the pool.

- Naran resisted the octopoidal creature's pushing for her to use the linking book it was presenting to her, and after it left in frustration, attempted to swim to freedom.  The distance and pressure of the water soon proved too much, however.  Fortunately, she found another "pocket" of air near the point where panic was starting to set in, and managed to reach it before blacking out.

- Aboard the craft, Piper suddenly found herself in her room back in Arable - or, at least, a very close approximation.  The door and window were impassible and everything felt slightly "off".  She was missing any functioning cyphers or artifacts that appeared technological, but otherwise seemed unharmed.

- Helios leapt into the pool after the his questioner, and began swimming "down" and away from the cat likely still pursuing him.  It was a long, hard swim back to the surface, but he somehow was able to succeed.  He happened to notice a boat lurking in the shadows some distance from him before swimming for the village.

- As she recovered Naran was briefly visited by a boy in some sort of swimming gear.  They had a brief "conversation" in which little was communicated (due to the language barrier) before he left again.  A couple of hours later he returned, however, this time with an additional breathing apparatus.  As the two of them made the long swim for the surface, the octopoidal creature found them...

- Having taken Piper, the cylindrical craft lifted slightly before de-materializing.  As the panic in the village began to calm and Ganthet regained consciousness, Seluxxi approached he and Ronin, demanding they leave the village - declaring to those around her that these outsiders would not help their village as some had hoped, and that they cared only for what they could take...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Where To Go From Here

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Helios became disoriented in his dive and surfaced, but found himself in a dark cave. Using an electricity artifact for light, he found his way into a chamber where some sort of robotic automaton was apparently "feeding" human blood to a massive machine.  He spoke for a while with the robot .

- Naran chose not to struggle against the man who was threatening her, and instead watched the faces of the growing crowd he was addressing - their expressions seemed to vary between fear, anger, and uncertainy.  As his address resolved, someone else grabbed her and put something over her face.  She had the vague sensation of splashing into water before she lost consciousness.  She later awoke in some sort of air pocket within a small room in a ruined building surrounded by water.  After some time, she was visited by a large octopus-like creature that produced another of the strange books - this one overlooking golden spires piercing upward above a sea of clouds - offering her a means of escape for a vague "price".

- Piper and Ganthet spoke some more with Seluxii, though her suspicion continued to increase.  A few of the townspeople seemed convinced that these outsiders might be able to help their dying village and, on their behalf, Seluxii somewhat-disingenuously asked them if this was so.

- Ronin finally arrived in the village and was greeted with obvious fear by the villagers - parly due to recent events, and partly due to his now-more-monstrous visage.  The presence in his mind urged him to react violently, but he fought to refrain.  Ronin was able to calm the villagers somewhat and ultimately rejoined his companions - who were shocked to see him alive, and moreso at his somewhat-disturbing change of appearance.

- It was at this moment that a massive, cylindrical craft appeared in the sky above the village projecting a column of bright blue light downward into the streets.  Several of the villagers - ones with orange tags like the one on Piper's arm - seemed to think heading toward this light would be a good idea...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Perilous Waters

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper and Ganthet found themselves amidst a murden raid on the village of Urnmoll, also involving a large, crab-like, mechanical contraption smashing its way through the village.  The murden were eventually driven off, and the robot, after sustaining some damage, folded itself into a small sphere.  The two considered making a break out of town, but decided to stay to see what they could learn.

- Ronin found his way out of the cave he and his friends had originally entered and decided to continue through the mountains toward the village.  On his way, he began to perceive a beckoning presence which led him to a small, glowing cave.  Upon seeing his reflection in a pool, he became aware that he was no longer alone in his head.

- Helios and Naran fought with the aquatic predators, attempting to drive them off.  Naran found her way into one of the boats and was brought back to the town built on the ruins protruding from the lake, but Helios had dived back into the water in an attempt to find one of the missing villagers.  About the time Naran realized Helios had not come back, she was grabbed from behind - and found a knife at her throat...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Making Waves

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin awoke, alive but debilitated and surrounded by silver insectoid creatures.  Over the next day or so, he made his way back out of the ruin, slowly recovering strength.  During this time, he noticed that patches of his skin all over his body had been replaced by red scales.

- Ganthet spoke with the apparent leader of the village of Urnmoll, a woman Seluxii.  Her suspicion of his activities in the region seemed to increase as he answered her questions with partial-truths.

- Piper spoke with the old woman for a while, learning that the town's water-producing artifact had recently ceased functioning, and that many in town were worried.

- Naran and Helios toppled from their perch above the rushing river when the bird-man from the previous world followed them through into this one, sending all three of them into the river and over a tremendous waterfall.

- Ronin reached the cave in which the group took shelter from the glass storm, and found himself attacked by a black puddle - apparently the remnants of the tentacled creature that had previously harassed them.

- The relative peace of Urnmoll was suddenly disturbed by shouts, screams, and mechanical pounding and whirring coming from one corner.  Piper was ambushed by some form of avian humanoid, and Seluxii left Ganthet apparently trapped in a room with a vanishing doorway.

- Naran and Helios found what appeared to be a fishing town built on partiall-submerged ruins in the valley into which they'd been deposited.  As they swam for the approaching boats, they were attacked by some sort of aquatic reptile...

- +2xp

There Is Something Fundamental I Misunderstand About Photo Editors

Tuesday May 16, 2017 at 8:19am photography, post-processing, problems Comments (0) »
 Another screenshot; another What You See Is Not What You Get; another serious frustration.
Another screenshot; another What You See Is Not What You Get; another serious frustration.

Or "Why Do All Photo Editors Suck?"

Similar to a previous post, the above is a screenshot showing a RAW preview and an exported JPG of inferior quality - only this time, it's in Adobe Lightroom.

Isn't the point of a photo editor to tweak photos to the point that they're "perfect"?  If what I'm seeing in the editor is not what I'm going to actually get, the thing is utterly useless.

So, apologies to Canon, I guess - it's not DPP necessarily, it's probably everything.

Question: Why is it so impossible to simply get a JPG that looks identical to a RAW preview.

If it's not impossible, what hoops do I have to jump through (and, just as importantly, why)?

~PS

Mysts of the Ninth World: New Domains

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios continued fractured communication with the birdman, who seemed intent upon fixing some part of the inner workings of the tower and/or island, and reacted negatively toward any action they took that might even superficially damage it.  Deciding there was nothing remaining for them in that place, they made their way back to the book Naran had previously found, using its viewport to travel to the world on the other side.

- Ganthet and Piper made their way through the ruin to the lowest exit they could find.  Waiting till dark, they lowered the power core before descending themselves.  Concerned over what the townfolk might say if they were found with the artifact, the two hid it in a cleft of rock nearby.  As they approached the only way out of the rocky depression, Ganthet was spotted by the two guardsmen and taken down to the village - Piper followed along behind.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Into the Depths

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- After Naran and Helios finished their rest, Helios suggested they investigate the bubbling pool which he found to be breathable while Naran did not.  While Naran spent some more time investigating the machinery in the hollow of the island, Helios ventured down into the water-filled chambers below where he found what appeared to be a city populated by enormous frog-people.  He also met up with the bird-man they'd first encountered, who returned to the chamber with him.

- Ronin, Ganthet, and Piper, meanwhile, attempted to cross the gravity-less chasm with their power-core while avoiding harassment and attack by the vanishing and re-appearing serpent.  Unfortunately, their counter-attacks eventually agitated the creature to the point that it disrupted the null gravity field, sending objects plummeting into the chasm.  Noticing the signs, Ronin managed to push Piper and the power core to the relative safety of the far wall, but in so doing failed to reach it himself - and fell into the darkness below...

- +3xp

Battletech: It's Hard To Be a Mechwarrior

Wednesday April 26, 2017 at 12:14pm gaming, battletech Comments (0) »
Battletech: It's Hard To Be a Mechwarrior Image

Some barriers to break down.

Battletech has a pretty significant "barrier to entry".  This fact is pretty well-known amongst gamers.  The rules of the tabletop game - even if you don't get into some of the advanced/optional stuff - are crunchy and fairly complicated at first blush.  There's like 3 different steps to do anything.  Also, the fiction and history of the setting (which is awesome) is pretty vast and somewhat convoluted.  And there's just so much stuff out there pertaining to Battletech, that it can be intimidating to anyone wanting to pick it up (I know, I was there a couple years ago) - I mean, where do you start?  But there is another aspect to this barrier that I hadn't previously considered.

First time in the cockpit.

Tim and I introduced Rucht & Tony to this wonderful world of giant robots last night.  It was our usual night to play Rucht's D&D 5e game (which is fantastic, by the way - we're a party of halflings!), but a few people had to cancel and we didn't reach critical mass for the game to occur, so I brought my Battletech stuff and we decided to blow up some stuff.

I set up a map with my spiffy hex terrain, some of my best painted units (color coded by teams), and got out the sheets, dice, etc.  I have a pretty solid setup, I think.  We played 2-on-2: Tony and I against Tim and Rucht.  A Catapult, Enforcer, Rifleman, and Dervish, respectively.  I think our side had a slight edge in battlefield value, but I've found balancing lances in Battletech to be really, really difficult, so I don't usually agonize over getting it perfect, and I didn't choose the sides.

Rucht likes minis games and, I think, enjoyed this one about as well as any other.  He would probably play it again on occasion, but didn't seem super enthusiastic.  Tony tends to like games that are a bit more straight-forward.  He really liked kicking Tim's Rifleman in the shins of course, but I think he would have prefered a bit less computation in order to do so.  He said he had a good time with it, but wasn't something he'd be interested in as an ongoing thing.  We only got through about half of the engagement, but we all had fun and I think it was a decent intro.

After the game, Tim and I were talking about how it went.  Tim is, so far, the one person I've introduced to this game who is really into.  He and I have been doing a kind of single-player strategic-level merc campaign - Aralakh Company - using some companion rules I made to handle non-mech-combat stuff.  We're about 15 sessions in, and we've been absolutely LOVING it.  We got to talking about why the game didn't seem quite as fun to our friends as we think it is.

And then, we remembered.

Before you walk, you have to crawl.  Really, really slowly.  Over gravel.

It could simply be that the game is just not their thing, but I think there's a little more to it than that.  

Here's the thing we decided about Battletech: You have to like some crunch in a combat system for sure, and you have to have some guidance as to where to start (thanks to Dan, Chris, and Fear the Boot, by the way), but you ALSO have to have a fair degree of patience.  You just have to really like the idea of Battletech in order to get far enough into the game to fall in love with it.  

Many games become increasingly fun to play as you get to know the rules, but Battletech takes this to a certain extreme.  Not only does the game not reach "peak fun" until you know it well enough that the phases and calculations come somewhat naturally and chart-referencing is an "only some of the time" event, but learning it that well takes a while, and the game can be almost oppressive before you get to that point.  I totally get how many people would feel that the slog just isn't worth it when there are so many other games out there that are a bit easier and more fun up front.

Tim and I both agreed that when we first started playing, the games were slow and clunky and not nearly as much fun (even if we were playing with people who knew the rules pretty well), but we both loved the concepts around the game so much that we put up with the less-than-smooth gameplay long enough to get to the point where we knew it well enough to enjoy it as much as we do now.

Unfortunately, if you're not truly enamoured with the ideas from the start, you're probably not going to stick with this game long enough to really enjoy it.  If the game has a flaw, this is surely it.

~PS

Mysts of the Ninth World: Bugs in the System

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios investigated the top of the tower, where they found an hive of bugs averse to bright lights and some control panels that seemed designed to operate the tower's machinery.

- Piper, Ganthet, and Ronin escaped from several pursuing monstrous centipedes and found some time to rest.  Attempting to find their way back out of the ruin, they happened upon a vast chasm which seemed devoid of gravity - and also contained some form of ephemeral, shape-shifting serpent...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Grasping for Power

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Ronin, Piper, and Ganthet found their way up into a chamber containing what they believed to be the complex's power core - the device they had come to retrieve.  As they approached it, however, they found themselves confronted by a monstrous, transdimensional, crustacean-like entity guarding and feeding off the power source.

- After Naran's discovery of the portal book, she and Helios decided they should find their way to the top of the tower to try to reactivate the dormant machinery.  The managed to open the iris at the top of the underground chamber, granting them access to the tower once more.  What they did not notice, however, were the two bird-men lying in wait.  The ambush jolted them both with electricity, and caused Helios to fall back onto the platform at the top of the chamber, which began wrenching free of its supports due to the impact.

- The monstrous creature the group had found by the power core began attacking the intruders with its massive claws and spewing a burning, plasma-like substance from its dozen or so eyes.  The group used several artifacts and cyphers they'd acquired since entering the complex to fight back, shattering bits of its thick armor and occassionally punching through.  Ganthet decided to use the green detonation artifact Polious had given him, which caused a thick and animated forest to suddenly spring up in the area.  The aggressive plant growth slowed the creature down, but proved to be more dangerous to the adventurers - especially to Ronin who was moving amongst them - as the group had to contend both with the hostile plants and with the fires set by the crustacean's dripping red-hot plasma.

- While Helios attempted (with some difficulty) to climb back into the tower from the failing support, Naran did her best to fight off the bird-men, trading bright blasts of forceful light with the electrical arcs firing from the avian's energized spears.  After Helios managed to re-enter the tower and Naran had incinerated the last of their foes, they looked up at the large vine/tree structure and the crystals growing from it, suspecting that it could be used to gather energy from the world's hot suns if they could figure out how to reactivate it.

- Just as Ronin was stabbed by some sort of poisonous plant which rendered him unconscious, Ganthet's final shots against the monster managed to penetrate the armor under its head.  Shrieking, the beast collapsed to the ground, spewing plasma from its eyes - which in turn further ignited the plant matter beneath it.  

- Ganthet and Piper darted past the growing flames into the area beneath the power core.  Ganthet made some efforts to revive Ronin, but seemed only to make his fallen friend's condition worsen.  Acting quickly, Piper successfully connected a power regulator she had constructed to the conduits feeding the power core, and then began the delicate operation of detaching the core from the surrounding eqipment.  Unfortunately, the group didn't have time for "delicate".  Piper did what she could to prevent any instability due to the disconnect before slicing through the adjoining cables.  She held her breath for several moments before the dim blue glow returned and stabilized in the core's interior.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Further Up, Further In

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Naran and Helios attempted to communicate with the earnest-seeming bird-man, but were ultimately less than successful.  He did lead them to a hidden chamber full of devices he'd gathered but, apparently, had no particular knowledge of.  He left by way of a bubbling pool, and the two decided to get some rest.

- Ronin, Piper, and Ganthet continued into the ruin they'd found, soon encountering a vast area overgrown with blue plant growth.  The sweet smell of the plants seemed to affect the minds of the party, causing Piper and Ganthet to seek out and activate machinery with visible but indecipherable results.  They also encountered several giant centipede-like creatures.  

- The bird entities apparently gone, Naran and Helios spent some time exploring the interior of the island and its machinery, eventually finding that some of it seemed to "connect" to a 'portal book'.

- Attempting to outrun their insectoid pursuers, Ronin, Piper, and Ganthet ended up at the top of a large cylindrical vault, where they found another portal book, some arms and armor, and a room that simpily glowed for no obvious reason.  At the bottom of the chamber, they found a passage leading deeper into the complex from which they could hear a dull hum, as well as one final vault door smeared with some kind black, pitch-like substance...

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Guardians' Ire

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- After some brief discussion, it was decided that Helios would follow Naran into the book and the others would continue into the ruin to locate the power core.

- Naran and Helios found themselves on top of a small island about 400 feet above the surface of an unknown ocean.  Two suns blazed overhead, making it difficult to see through the brightness.  The island contained a tower full of machinery and a strange vine-like plant growing crystals.  As they investigated, they were attacked by some group of bird-people with spear-like weapons that projected arcs of electricity.  They fled up the tower, but found themselves trapped until another one of the bird-people "flew" them to a large cave-like entrance at the base of the island where they discovered it to be mostly hollow and full of ancient non-functioning machinery.

- Ganthet, Ronin, and Piper continued up into the ruin above the overgrown library.  As they made their way through its interior, they encountered some sort of automaton guarding a sealed doorway.  Apparently they triggered some condition in its programming, and the machine attacked.  The resulting battle battered, burned, and froze the three, but they were ultimately victorious.

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Gaining Entry

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Discerning that the tunnel of ferns proceeded in the direction they were attempting to travel before the glass storm hit, and believing that the ferns themselves may indicate the presence of a ruin similar to the one at their home, the group decided to leave the aneen in the cave and follow it.

- The picked their way through the winding tunnel for almost 9 miles, encountering a few caverns (including a large one with a tree and clouds) and several other passages.  There was a faint, warm breeze blowing through the tunnel - all the tunnels proceeding southwest toward its source were overgrown with purple ferns whereas other passages were not.

- Having pursued these phenomena all the way to its source, the group found part of some kind of buried building, broken and overgrown with the purple ferns itself.  One of the chambers had a large hole in the corner of the ceiling, through which various wires and conduits hung loosely which opened into a set over chambers and corridors reminiscent of the "B Dome" they'd explored.  

The room they were in seemed to Piper to be some sort of library.  Beneath the ferns were shelves containing the remains of many strange, rectangular books.  She couldn't read them, but her ability to decipher suggested they described locations in great detail.  A few of those in the best shape had window-like screens on their first pages, showing a specific, unfamiliar location.  The glowing panels gave odd sensations when you touched them.  While attempting to discern some sort of use or a way to "activate" the one of the books, Naran placed her palm over the glowing panel and suddenly vanished.  Looking down at where the book fell, Ronin could see his friend standing in the scene depicted through the window...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Swallowed

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group ran south behind the herd of aneen, fighting their way through the fleeing beasts and the larval worms pursuing them.  When the adult worm caught up with them, Piper scarred it with a plasma cypher, but the monster killed one of their pack animals as they attempted to flee.  It was Ganthet's "liquid air" artifact that enabled them to finally escape.

- Once in the mountains, the group was beset by a violent storm of glass.  The group took shelter in a shallow cave, along with several dozen dog-sized beetles apparently native to the area.  During this time, Ganthet fell deeper into the cave, where he found an underground stream, a tentacled monster, and a tunnel lined with the same purple ferns that grow around their home of Arable.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Time and Place

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- After treating their wounded aneen as best they could, the group gathered the remainder of thier possessions and set out again.  The animal slowed their progress significantly, however, and it was after dark before they reached their destination: the on oasis on their route through the desert.

- As they approached, they noticed two things.  The first was a brilliantly-glowing, blue-purple, diamond-shaped object floating above the oasis.  The second was the fact that the oasis was occupied by several different groups of people.

- As they refreshed their animals and made their camp for the evening, the group spoke with several of the others there and learned that each of them had a wildly disparate understanding of the surrounding world - to the extent that Naran and Ronin suspected that perhaps the area occupied some confluence of time and/or reality.

- Just before dawn, the diamond-shaped object began to pulse and vibrate.  After a few minutes, the object collapsed in on itself - seeming to draw everyone and everything else occupying the oasis into itself before vanishing.

- Observing how much their wounded aneen had slowed their progress and believing speed to be essential, the group voted to use Helious' healing artifact on their injured animal.

- Packed up again, the group continued their westward journey for the next couple of days - approaching the gathering clouds near the looming black mountain range and fighting the oppressive heat.

- As they neared the foothills in the shadow of the jagged mountains of the Black Riage, they happened upon a sizable herd of wild aneen making its way north along the edge of the hills.  The clouds above were beginning to arc with purple lightening.  The group was still approaching, intending to pass the herd to the south, when an enourmous cragworm erupted from the earth ahead of them, bellowing its hunger...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Of Beasts

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group set out to the west, crossing the northwestern region of the Gathmund Scrublands before exiting them into the wide, flat expanse of the desert flat that lie between them and their destination.

- On the second night, the group awoke to suddenly find themselves in a dense forest.  Margr fled through their camp and something large was approaching from the north.  As they attempted to calm the aneen, a massive bison-like creature emerged from the surrounding trees.  It was gushing blood from a wound in its side, making thick red pools wherever it stepped, and the creature held a miniature-sun-like fireball in its mouth which licked flames out toward anything living.

- The group grabbed what supplies they could and attempted to flee, but the aneen Piper and Ronin were riding was panicked and uncooperative.  It fell on its side, throwing Ronin off before bolting the opposite direction.  Unfortunately, this took it right past one of the lingering margr, which put a nasty slice in its right leg - causing it to fall again and Piper to lose her tenuous grasp on the animal.  The giant buffalo plodded onward, seemingly unaware of them.

- Piper and Ronin were able to make short work of the lingering margr still prowling the area, while the others rejoined when the beast had passed.  As they gathered their now-blood-covered supplies, the group discussed what should be done with their injured animal.

- +2xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Looking Ahead

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group continued their discussion with Polious about their upcoming journey and some of the potential difficulties they may encounter.

- The following day was the third day of the yearly Eves festival - the evening of the big feast and a time for making important announcements about the upcoming year.  Among others of various kinds, Polious announced his assistants' journey to a far-away place in order to recover desperately-needed components for the town's faltering artifact.  The group enjoyed the feast and spent some time talking to various townsfolk about their upcoming quest.

- After the Eves, the group spent a few days preparing for their journey before heading out.  As they left the town, accompanied to its edge by various family, friends, and well-wishers, they noticed that the farmland looked noticeably parched...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Losing Power

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Piper, Naran, and Ronin headed down into the guts of the Weathervane while Ganthet and Helios remained with Polious in the control room, attempting to keep things from getting out of hand.

- The three descended into the structure, noting more and more of a strange, acrid-smelling black oil as they made their way toward the inward.  Outside the vault itself, a large stream of the stuff poured down the wall over wires and conduits - among which were dozens of eyeless rat-like creatures.

- A couple of townsfolk approached the Weathervane, looking for Polious to address an issue in town involving a strange device, and hostile spreading plant growth.  As he was still unable to see and Helios had been more weakened by the day's events, Ganthet was sent to address the problem.  He found some sort of artifact producing a thick fog and causing shrub-like plants to grow.  When he activated it, the ground began to vibrate violently.  He found himself outside of the town by several miles, and watched as large sections of earth some distance to the north rose out of the ground and floated above it.

- Once inside the vault, Piper found the Weathervane's power core and attempted to disconnect it.  Unfortunately, this seemed to cause a runaway reaction resulting in the core's explosion.  Piper somehow managed to escape the brunt of the blast.

- The explosion of the power core radiated energy throughout the town, instantly burned away the stormclouds, and ultimately resulted in a total blackout as all power drained from the ruin.

- Over the course of the next few weeks, Polious, the others, and the rest of the town attempted to pick up the pieces.  Polious managed to cobble together a replacement power source for the Weathervane and once the rain cycle resumed - even though it was irregular and somewhat less than sufficient - the townsfolk began to relax.  Polious and the others, however, know that the current arrangement is underpowered and anything but stable.

- A few days later, the Eves festival begins.  This is marks the new year in Arable, as well as the first few days of the planting season.  The group spends the first day of the celebration with their individual families, spending time together and exchanging gifts.  Polious also visits each, giving them gifts of his own.

- The second day of the Eves is a time of planning for the new year.  For most, that means talking about what crops to plant in which fields, which animals to breed, and other such things.  For Polious and his associates, however, this conversation looks very different.  Polious tells them he's learned of yet another ruin similar to Arable and the "B Dome" (which is now known to be a sphere, and is floating about a hundred feed above the ground along with some chunks of nearby landscape).  This one is about 10 miles into the mountains of the Black Riage, near a village called Urnmoll.  It, reportedly, even shows signs of continuing power.  Arable needs a new power core.  The Weathervane will not survive without one, and if the Weathervane doesn't survive, the town is doomed.  Further, Polious is unable to leave the town - the artifact is too unstable.  The others are going to have to do this on their own...

- +3xp

What's Been Up

Thursday December 22, 2016 at 12:53pm state of the penguin Comments (0) »

Lately this blog has mostly been a gaming session log - that one function having basically become its primary use.  It's not that nothing else is going on, it's more that nothing else makes for very good posting.

It's been a year - not a particularly great one.  I find myself at a point feeling like things aren't bad for us, they're just not good.  Perhaps I'm just less content than I ought to be.  But...what can you do?

On The Typical Fronts

Web Dev: Still working at AAM Piney Flats; like my job, love the people I work with. We're getting by. Think about reworking the front-end of this site from time to time, but I'm pretty happy with it as-is.  I'm sure it'll get a new look at some point.

Gaming: It has been a good year for gaming.  Wrapped up my awesome World of Darkness campaign, started a fun Numenera game that's starting to pick up steam, and I'm even running a strategic-level Battletech game for Tim (which I'm loving).  My games-i-really-want-to-run queue has been reduced to a Mouse Guard game.  I'm also playing in a friend's 5e D&D game, though I've missed the last few sessions for a small variety of reasons.

Photography: I've found a way around my screen sharpness issues, but I'm still irked that I need a workaround at all. No, I haven't contacted Canon phone support yet.  I haven't been shooting much lately except when I "have to".  I really need to.  Need to do some stuff that reminds me why I got into it.

Music: Every now and then, I work a little on music stuff - just not enough that I have anything to show for it.  I have an idea for a record I want to make, and I've done quite a bit of concept development, but that's about as far as I've made it.  Supposed ambition outstrips time & energy these days.

Etc

Geocaching: Haven't done enough this last season - just been a little too busy somehow.  Really need to get back into it next, though - if only for the exercise.

Model Painting: Got a few more Battletech minis to paint.  It's been a while since I've painted anything and I've been wanting to do some more.  It's relaxing...in an exhausting kind of way.  Also intending to repaint my halfling paladin mini for Rucht's game.

Reading: Got a new Battletech novel that was recommended to me to read.  I enjoy reading, I just don't do it all that much.  I often have a difficult time with passive forms of entertainment.

Writing: I'd also like to take a shot at writing a book myself.  I do a lot of writing for RPGs; I'd like to try my hand at some kind of short genre novel.  I mean, I don't have enough time for all of my other hobbies, why not add another pet project with an overwhelming work load?  Right?

~PS

Mysts of the Ninth World: Downpour

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group hurried toward town, only to find the north gate held closed by a massive mutated plant.  When the group attempted to cut the struggling gate mechanism free, they found that deformed plant also possessed bladed tendrils and often emitted psychic shriek when injured.  As the group fought with the plant creature, an errant shot from Ronin deactivated the gate completely and a massive tendril grappled with and ultimately once-more panicked Naran's aneen.

- As the others hacked and burned away at the plant, Helios worked on phasing through the door to assist from the other side.  He successfully reached the other side, but not before sustaining further injury to his already battered body and mind.  Though significantly debilitated and possessed of only a rudimentary knowledge of the Numenera, he somehow managed to reconfigure the gate's controls to bypass the circuit destroyed by Ronin's arrow and opened the gate.

- The group reunited and reached the malfunctioning Weathervane, but the situation was quickly worsening.  Even with help, Polious was unable to stabilize the artifact.  His blindness preventing him from doing himself what was quickly becoming obviously necessary, he handed Ronin the key to "the Vault" and sent the group into the guts of Weathervane to shut it down...

- +1xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Out of Control

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group decided it would be best to recover the panicked aneen before heading back, but Polious and Helios were in no condition to assist.  Being somewhat beat up himself, Ronin volunteered to stay with them while Ganthet, Naran, and Piper pursued the animal.

- The chase led them back up into the forested hills a couple of miles away, where they encountered a giant, fin-shaped ruin and some hostile, hovering automatons n addition to the few hounds pursuing their pack animal.

- Meanwhile, Polious, Helios, and Ronin encountered a strange being completely covered by thick robes except for its large, mechanical eye.  The entity babbled in several different languages in addition to the Truth, and spoke seemingly random bits of information or observations before disintegrating before their eyes.

- Naran manged to grab the harness of the panicked aneen, climbed up onto it, and managed to calm it down while Piper and Ganthet fought off the remaining hounds - the automatons having apparently disengaged.

- The group rejoined at their camp - now with all of their animals - and made their way back to town.  They were approaching the edge of Arable's farmland when the storm that had been gathering finally unleashed...

- +2 xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Broken

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Seeing the growing agitation in the chance moths, the group began attempting to scramble up the rope.  Outside they were confronted by a pack of broken hounds - one of which was massive and seemed to twist and distort as it growled.

- The moths triggered something in the chamber which began causing strange environmental effects.  While Ronin climbed the rope, Piper investigated the surrounding machinery and found that shorts in the controls seemed to result in her ability to terraform the immediate area.

- As the group fought off the smaller hounds, the huge one closed and happened to pick out Polious as its first target, grabbing and flinging him aside.

- As the situation with the hounds outside worsened, Polious called for withdrawl.  Piper had a more difficult time escaping the ruin as the rope which had been worn on the jagged edge of the hole finally snapped.  Ronin threw a rope down to her but wasn't able to tie it off quickly enough and Piper would likely have pulled him in if Ganthet and Naran hadn't come to his aid.

- Polious recovered from his tumble and, seeing the severity of the situation and the massive hound threatening his companions, raised his damaged rifle.  The weapon discharged but seemed to overload, radiating explosive energe outward.  The great hound was severely burned, but so was Polious - badly enough on his face that he was blinded.

- The group left the site as the hounds fled.  They returned to their camp to find that one of their aneen was about half a mile across the plain, being harrassed by a few other broken hounds.

- +2 xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Burnout

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- Polious activated his transmitter artifact, sending a message to Piper and her companions to join he, Ronin, Naran.

- On their way, Piper, Ganthet, and Helios were ambushed at the top of the descending shaft by abhumans of some sort, apparently living in the bowels of the structure.  The creatures were savage, gaunt, and where their faces should have been was only the base of a writhing tentacle.

- While Polious began examining the glowing power-artifact, another trio of the abhumans attacked him, Naran, and Ronin.

- The insuing battles were chaotic, as their assailants attacked in an uncoordinated, frenzied fashion.  One of the abhumans attacking Ganthet and his companions activated some sort of gravity cypher, which caused anyone and anything within the shaft itself to become weightless.  Another assaulting Naran and the others in the room below activated a cobbled artifact which missed her, sending a bright, white beam into the surrounding structure, exploding several metallic "pods" the group assumed were capacitors of some sort.  This seemed to adversely affect the power-artifact, increasing the instability of its already dangerously-overloaded state.  

- At Ronin's insistence, Polious set to work attempting to stabilize the pulsing blue power source while the others fought off the remaining attackers.  Just as the battle concluded, Polious released the power build-up in the device, sending power out into the ruin.  To his dismay, however, the core itself burned out - the pulsing, blue-sun-like glow collapsing in on itself, leaving the cylinder an empty, glass shell.

- The group spent some time gathering components from this room, as they had specifically come for power-distribution parts.  When they were finished, they made their way back toward the "entrance" area, noticing that many of the rooms and passages were now lit and active with various buttons, screens, panels, and other, more incomprehensible controls or interfaces.  They noted much that could be salvaged and investigated, but time was against them as they suspected more abhumans may be emerging from the depths of the complex.

- At the entrance, they noticed the Chance Moth hive was now very active - flying around the room, feasting on the enegies provided by the newly-supplied power.  As they made ready to ascend the rope back out of the complex, they heard the unfortunately-familiar keening of a pack of Broken Hounds from outside - and something very, very large slam into the top of the structure...

- +2 xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Apprenticed to a Scavenger

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

- The group journeyed with Polious to the "B Dome" - a secondary site which seems to be very similar to the structure around which their town of Arable is built.  As such, it is a trove of spare parts.  They were looking for "crystal fuze couplings" to replace some key components relating to the Weathervane's power distribution, but are always on the lookout for anything else that might either be of use or able to be made into something useful.

- Upon descending into the ruin, Ronin encountered a rather large hive of Chance Moths, attracted to a numenous light Naran had created.  At Polious' instruction, the lights were put out and the group carefully moved away from the entrance further into the dark while Naran distracted the hive by illuminating a large metal panel in the opposite direction.

- After a brief discussion in the corridor, the group decided to split up to cover more ground: Helios, Piper, and Ganthet continued down in that direction, while Polious, Naran, and Ronin went back through entrance area and through a partially-open doorway.

- Helios, Piper, and Ganthet found a grassy area in the metal ruin which also contained a large tree with glowing geometric designs on its leaves.  It seemed to interact with nearby machinery in some way - affecting the immediately-local plant life and/or weather/environment when they interacted with it.  In addition, they discovered a stone chamber full of shelves and charred, rectangular books.  Piper found 4 seemingly untouched and took them with her, and discovered at least one of the mostly-burned volumes seemed to have some kind of static charge within it.  After investigating the area, Piper set to work disassembling sections of the machinery, salvaging several promising objects before she began inadvertently triggering it.

- Polious, Naran, and Ronin found a large laboratory area.  Polious set to work scavenging the equipment for useable parts while Ronin and Naran looked around the room.  Ronin found a bank of large, cylindrical, glass tanks (only one of which was still intact) and Naran soon discovered pools of liquid on the floor and ceiling which were dripping into each other.  While she marveled over this, a pseudopod from the lower pool grabbed her, and pulled her up off the ground.  Ronin worked to free her and Polious shot the creature with his powerful rifle-like Numenera weapon - which, instead of evaporating it, caused it to harden into a pink-white crystalline material (from which Ronin cut a section to take with them).  From there, the three proceeded deeper into the complex.  At the bottom of a 170ft shaft, they found a black door behind which hummed some sort of impressive, glowing artifact...

- +3xp

Mysts of the Ninth World: Character Creation

 Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games
Numenera artwork © Monte Cook Games

System: Numenera

Setting: The Ninth World, The Beyond, Arable

Players: Sheri, Tony, Adam, Tim, Keara

Schedule: Near-weekly

 

Finally starting a Numenera campaign!  Been waiting for this for two years!  Very excited!

The party is a group of young adults from a small town in the Beyond called Arable - a wasteland farming community based around a weather-control artifact.  They will begin as assistants to an Aeon Priest called Polious, and tasked with assisting in the maintenance of the Weathervane, scavenging for parts, and generally discovering the Numenera.

Characters:

Narangerel "Naran" [Sheri] is an Inquisitive Nano who Possesses a Shard of the Sun

- Helios [Tony] is a Stubborn Jack who Exists Partially out of Phase

- Piper [Keara] is a Manipulative Delve (Seeker) who Makes Something out of Nothing

- Ronin [Tim] is a Wasteland Jack who Explores Dark Places

- Ganthet [Adam] is a Weird Glaive who Rides the Lightening

World of Darkness Redux

Thursday October 13, 2016 at 12:37pm gaming, new auburn chronicle Comments (0) »

I recently concluded my New Auburn World of Darkness game that started a bit over a year ago.  Despite the fact that it lasted more than twice as long as I'd anticipated and I was really ready to move on to a new game (Numenera here I come!), I thoroughly enjoyed it the entire time.  I'm going to talk a little about some things I got out of this game.

First off, it's always nice to have a game that actually resolves instead of just "ending".  I've done this a few times, but this game might be the one that was most neatly packaged.  I don't think I did a "perfect" job (I'm not sure that's possible), but this one was pretty close, if I do say so.  I also set up a future sequel in the epilogue, which will be pretty cool - but not for a while (see also: so many games, so little time).

I learned over the course of the game that mystery is difficult to run - at least for my group.  You don't want to be too obvious, but you don't want to be too obscure.  When the game is about the investigation and putting pieces together, there is a very, VERY, fine line here - and you're going to go back and forth between being heavy-handed and letting the group spin their wheels as they try to figure out what to do next.

By that same token, though, it was fascinating to listen to them speculate when they were into it.  So very often they would be right and wrong in an even 50/50 split.  I lost track of the number of times I said "Well, that's not wrong...it's just not...quite right either." while talking about their theories after a session.  Those were some of my favorite times.

I got pretty good at juggling multiple groups of PCs in different places doing different things.  Also, I failed miserably at this from time to time.  I think the group was all together less than 10% of the time over the course of this game.  The particular flavor and setup just made that unlikely or downright impracticle from a narrative standpoint.  It wasn't a "problem", per se, but it did make GMing challenging, and it often meant some percentage of the table was off-screen.  Fortunately, this doesn't bother many in my group.

Like many of my games, this one was a total sandbox.  Unlike many, however, it was all set in the same place.  This might be the first game that really wasn't location driven to any significant degree - so that was a challenging for me.  The shifting environment and the various NPCs and mysteries kept things plenty interesting, though, so that helped.

Along that same line, I set out to be very receptive to the players'/PCs' ideas.  For most of the game, I just had "the situation", I didn't really have "a solution" to the problem(s) - I figured I'd let them come up with that.  This approach worked quite well, and might be the only way I could run a game like this.  The group's ultimate "solution" to the big problem in town was one they came up with - not one I'd pre-planned.  It had to make sense, of course, but if they'd come up with a different "solution" they could pull off, that would have been just as viable.  I really let them drive how this was going to go down, which I try to do in every game,  but, in this one, it was taken to a further degree.

I also think I did a pretty good job presenting a game and setting that was both creepy and intriguing - the way World of Darkness should be.

There's probably other things, but those are the big ones coming to mind.

~PS

Games of the Present and Future

Friday August 19, 2016 at 12:34pm gaming Comments (0) »
 Marauder - probably my favorite 'mech.  This one had to be pretty heavily repaired, but it turned out pretty great.
Marauder - probably my favorite 'mech.  This one had to be pretty heavily repaired, but it turned out pretty great.

'Splosions

Been trying to play Battletech whenever I get a chance.  Love this game.  I didn't do a post-mortem on Trogland 2016 this year, but the one game I ran at that event was a Battletech scenario that lasted from about 11am-5pm on saturday.  Yeah, turns out lance-on-lance (plus extras) with 5 players takes a while, especially when there are some heavies on the field.  Next time, I think I might run a 2-on-2 game that might not go forever.

Paint Schemes

A while back I bought a copy of the 3rd Edition box set from Ebay, which included plastic models of 14 of the "unseen" mechs, several of which I really wanted.  This set was made back in '94 and the plastic models aren't great quality.  I actually had to use modelling putty to repair a couple of my favorites - the set was in great shape, it's just that the plastic casting was bad.  That said, I think my paint jobs on the ones I painted turned out "decent" to "great".  Still need to clear-coat them before they're ready to go, however.  I did decide not to paint a few of them for aesthetic reasons.  Some of the old models look straight-up goofy (I'm looking at you, Thunderbolt), and with other's I'm not a big fan of the "backpack" and/or (to a lesser extent) the "handheld weapon" looks.  I did paint the Phoenix Hawk, Stinger, and Battlemaster that fall into that latter category, but the Griffin and Shadow Hawk look more like space marines than battlemechs IMO.  The Wolverine I *might* have painted, but its head is extremely poorly cast and mangled.  Anyway, they didn't make the first cut.  I'm up to 34 painted models now, and I think they've generally improved over time.

Compiling an Arsenal

I also went to Kinko's and printed out 114 pages of mech sheets - one copy of each common variant for each model I have painted.  I've got these sorted in a binder now.

And I've completed my first draft of what I'm calling Mechwarrior Basic - a companion RPG system and set of Battletech mods to play the game as a ttrpg.  It takes some elements from Mechwarrior 2nd Edition and a variety of other games.  It's intended to be simple and quick, specifically to contrast the methodical crunch of the wargame aspect.

The reason for all this is that I'm still hoping to run a Battletech campaign at some point...  

...or, as soon as I find another player.

Still Current Campaigns

As you can probably tell from this blog, our World of Darkness game continues - and it's going quite well overall.  This has been a really solid game.  I like the characters, the setting is good, and the mystery is interesting.  And maybe a little too involved.

The WoD game is great - and I'm still having a lot of fun with it, but I'm really looking forward to starting a Numenera campaign after this one resolves.  Looking back at the blog, I can see that I've been trying to resolve WoD and start Numenera since December.  I'm not good at ending things.  Even when I want to.

Maybe someday.

 

~PS

On Recency: Vacation Return 2016

Monday July 11, 2016 at 12:53pm vacation, gaming, golf Comments (0) »
 just relax
just relax

Well, just got back from vacation.  That was a great time.  Spent the week with Sheri, Hannah, Micah, Mom and Dad.  Also my brother Joe, and saw sister Jamie, too.  Went to a family reunion where I saw relatives I haven't seen in years.  Got to hang out a little with friends Justin & his family and Kevin & his family.  Played golf, kubb, flimsee, Sushi Go, wii golf, and other things.  Went to the Zoo and the Indy Children's Museum.  Enjoyed some quiet evenings around a fire pit in my parents' peaceful backyard.

Again, great time.

 

Current things I'm working on or looking to do:

- Successfuly wrap up our New Auburn Chronicle game and start a new Numenera campaign

- Finish a Mechwarrior rules set I've been working on, create a killer character sheet, and finish painting minis for a Battletech campaign

- Play some golf with Tim, as I've inherited (at least temporarily) a set of nice clubs from my dad

 

Oh, and then there are all the things I "need" to do...

 

~PS

That Time We Made A Cake For A D&D Session

Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 9:52pm gaming, friends Comments (0) »
 A terribly decorated real cake based on a terribly decorated imaginary cake.
A terribly decorated real cake based on a terribly decorated imaginary cake.

This was a first for us.

I'm part of two regular gaming groups: one I run, and one I play in.  It's nice to be able to do both.  Our friend Rucht runs the group I play in, and right now he's runing a 5e D&D game.  On a side note, 5th Edition seems to be a solid system.  I like how they've simplified and streamlined the system but kept it feeling very much like Dungeons and Dragons.

In this game, Tony is playing a halfling barbarian.  Edie's character, his sister, was trying to help with his "anger issues".  They decided to try cake decorating as therapy.  This did not go well.

The really hilarious thing was that Tony's dice knew exactly how well a halfling barbarian should be able to decorate a cake, and out of 4 or 5 rolls, I don't think he rolled higher than a 5.  The whole session was hilarious, I don't think I've laughed that hard during a game for a long time.  The die rolling, the RP, the descriptions of everything that was happening - even when the bakery was attacked by monsters - everything was cracking us up.

Then Tony got an idea: we should make a cake, decorated as badly as possible, and bring it for Rucht at the next game - down to the black-icing (mostly illegible) "this sucks" Tony said his barbarian wrote on it.

So, we did.

~PS

Mini Weather

Tuesday March 8, 2016 at 10:27pm gaming, battletech Comments (0) »
 Painted & clear-coated - ready for action!  Also, shiny Battletech faction dice!
Painted & clear-coated - ready for action!  Also, shiny Battletech faction dice!

When I got home this evening, I noted that the temperature was still above 70 degrees - and that meant it was time to clear-coat some miniatures!  I got a couple of coats on all but two of the minis - one because I wanted to do some additional highlights, and another because I somehow got brown paint on it.  The others should be ready to go, though.  Looking forward to playing!

~PS

No Thank You, Evil!

Sunday March 6, 2016 at 6:04pm gaming, family Comments (0) »
No Thank You, Evil! Image

Kickstart

Back in May of 2015, I backed a Monte Cook Games project called No Thank You, Evil.  This project was to be a tabletop roleplaying game aimed at kids for families to play together.  It sounded awesome - awesome enough to get me to, after considering it for several other projects, actually make an account on Kickstarter.com an contribute some money to making it happen.  It has thus far been my only kickstarter experience, and I have been really impressed with the whole process.  MCG does a good job.

Yes Please, Adventure!

Just about a week or so ago, I got my copy in the mail - having been eagerly awaiting it.  The production value of the game is amazing, and the guts of the game itself did not disappoint.  It uses a simplified version of the Cypher System, and does a great job tayloring its mechanics and flavors to a young audience.  The game is beautiful and solidly designed.

We - myself, my wife, our daughter, and Tony - just finished our first adventure in the world of Storia, and, I have to say, it was a blast.  My 4-year-old daughter actually picked up the concepts pretty quickly, even if some of the minutia is still a bit over her head.  She took to the roleplaying elements quite well, and seemed to catch on to the "game" parts with only a little coaching.  We all had a great time with it, and she's excited to play it again soon.  

My Storia

Like any game I touch, though, I had to make some adjustments.  I'm sure a person can quite easily run the thing as-is, right out of the box, and have a great time.  As any of my friends can tell you, though, that's just not me.  I have to tinker.  I have to tweak.  I have to make it my own.  This ability is what I love about TTRPGs.

I did a little cherry-picking of the mechanics for our first game - we kind of played something between the "triangle" and "square" levels - but mostly left it as-is.  I do think that some additional differentiation between characters could be acheived by introducing one or two special "skills" that the characters can have - allowing a possible of three factors that could lower a Goal number - and I may do this in the future.  

Really, the most significant considerations for game tweaking were focused on setting and plot.  The setting is brilliant, but some things aren't clearly defined in the books and a couple of other things seemed like they would be a lot cooler if I changed them just a little.  I actually didn't change that much of the game, but I think what I did tweak added a lot.  What I had in the end was a solidified structure for an awesome game taylored to my tastes.

~PS

Numenous

Sunday January 17, 2016 at 8:02pm gaming, numenera Comments (0) »
 Obelisk of the Water God by Kieran Yanner, © Monte Cook Games
Obelisk of the Water God by Kieran Yanner, © Monte Cook Games

I really want to run this game.  Yes, I know.  

I have been fascinated by Numenera since my first encounter with it over a year ago.  I don't know that it's a "perfect" game for me (such a thing probably doesn't exist), but it might be very close.  The setting is fascinating and unique, borrowing from science and sci-fi as well as fantasy in a way that doesn't feel like a clumsy genre-mash.  It also has some of my favorite tropes built-in in an inherent way - I always love worlds with forgotten histories, and I love how exploration and discovery are main themes.  There is even a solid, in-world explanation for "adventuring" as an occupation.  The real genius of the Ninth World as a science-fantasy setting is that it can contain pretty much anything and yet still make sense. The rules system for the game is simple enough to be straight-forward, but sophisticated enough to be interesting - and has a uniqueness itself.  Plus the artwork in pretty awesome.

So, instead of re-ordering the Mouse Guard book I returned (and with some additional cash I was given for my birthday/christmas), I have added a few more books to my Numenera collection.  I usually don't buy additional/supplement material for games these days - sticking to core-only and letting my imagination do the rest - but I found myself making an exception for this game for two reasons:

- First, because this game has totally captured my imagination.  So, good job, Monte Cook Games.  

- Secondly, because the setting is so unique, I think some additional material might actually be necessary as I try to wrap my head around how the Ninth World actually works enough to run it.  I've looked through the Ninth World Guidebook, the Technology Compendium, and the Ninth World Bestiary a fair bit since I got them, and they've been helpful.  Also, I've been pretty impressed with them as creative products.  The books' mechanical aspects are pretty simple and straightforward, and the overall foci of them seem to be more on flavor and feel than on mechanics and rules.  This is always a win where I'm concerned - expanded world/setting material is always my favorite part of any RPG supplement.  I've found quite a few interesting ideas to use so far, along with some ideas borrowed from other sources to supplement my own material. 

I'm looking to start a Numenera game after our current World of Darkness campaign reaches some resolution.  I'm loving the WoD game, but I also can't wait for this one.  Yes, I know.  I got the core book for Christmas last year and I still haven't had a chance to run it, much to my chagrin.  Now, however, I'm a bit more prepared.

 

...and now, with the previous post, my brain is considering the Mouse Guard Territories 1 billion years in the future.  So that's odd.

 

~PS

Another Look at the Same Mouse Territories

Wednesday January 6, 2016 at 1:13pm gaming, mouse guard Comments (0) »
 The Mouse Territories © David Petersen
The Mouse Territories © David Petersen

Sheri got me the second edition Mouse Guard RPG book for Christmas, though I decided to return it - for two reasons.  One reason (the main one), is that it had a binding flaw where a section of pages toward the end actually wasn't attached to the book.  The reason I won't be re-ordering the book, however, is that it isn't much of an "upgrade" from the original edition.  It does contain a bunch of new, cool artwork - but that alone doesn't carry it for me.  It has clarified a few things that might have been ambiguous, but the only thing it really seems to be significantly altered is how Wises work.  I like the update, but it wasn't something I had a gripe with before, and I could probably sum up the change in a few sentences.  

I, personally, was kind of hoping they would more fundamentally alter the system (I really don't like the "turns"/"checks" system), but that doesn't seem to be the direction they want to head - which is fair enough.  I personally apply quite a few house rules to the game as-written, but that's just to suit my tastes

What I'd really like to see is a detailed Mouse Guard rpg setting book - something full of tons of places, entities, and potential plot hooks.  David Petersen told me via Twitter that this sort of thing is on his long-term plan.  I responded by saying I would buy that thing in a heartbeat.

I still seriously love Mouse Guard - the comics as well as the RPG - and really want to run a Territories campaign one of these days (my queue of games to run is getting...lengthy).  It is a fantastic setting and concept, neatly uniting grit and charm in a way I wouldn't have thought possible.  If you, too, are fascinated by mice with swords, totally pick up the current edition of the game.

 

~PS

Pages of Holidays

Monday January 4, 2016 at 12:32pm family, friends, books, geocaching Comments (0) »
 Zach (and also, Bravery) at Ogle Lake, Brown County State Park - doing some geocaching
Zach (and also, Bravery) at Ogle Lake, Brown County State Park - doing some geocaching

Holiday Trip

Had a great Christmas this year in IN with my parents.  Bunguins #1 and #2 both handled the trip car pretty well, and everyone loved getting to see them.  

I got to do pretty much everything I was looking forward to with my family, which was a lot of fun.  Didn't make it to the new Star Wars movie, but that was pretty low on the list, really.  Spent a lot of time relaxing, enjoying Christmas festivities, reading, playing cards, playing wii golf (Tiger Woods '10) on my parents' projector, and geocaching.  

Spending time with family - Mom, Dad, Joe, Jame and my Uncle Dave & Aunt Roxie was great.  Wish I saw them all more often.  I got to catch up with my friend Justin, too - first when we introduced him and his two older boys to geocaching (seen above), and then on New Years Eve wherein we changed an alternator and played Settlers of Catan.  More surprisingly, I got to chat with another old friend, Scott, for a while at church last sunday, too.  We did miss my sister and brother-in-law this year, but they were off having fun with his family.  

All in all, it was a great trip.

Additional Reading

I actually read quite a bit over the break.  Tony gave me the Welcome to Night Vale novel for my birthday and Sheri got me Randall Munroe's What If? book for Christmas - and I read all of both of them (and recommend to any like-minded oddballs).  I wished I'd brought the Battletech book I'd been reading as well.  I normally don't read that much (at least from non-gaming/non-reference books), but something about the relaxing week seemed to be conducive.

The Welcome to Night Vale book is pretty good - it does a good job of preserving the feel of the podcast.  I did find myself reading sections of it in radio host Cecil's voice/cadence.  Actually, I think that particular affectation enters my own speech patterns in certain circumstances if I've been listening to it a lot.

What If? is also great.  I started reading the articles on the website quite a while back, and they're all fantastic.  There are quite a few in the book that aren't on the site, too - though there are many more on the site that couldn't fit in the book.  A few of my favorites accessible here are Drain the Oceans, Into The Sun, and Interplanetary Cessna.  And also, many, many, more.

~PS

Lately, Again

Friday December 11, 2015 at 12:46pm bunguin, family, gaming, music Comments (0) »
 Micah ~ 1 month old
Micah ~ 1 month old

Bunguin II

So, I've been busy with nothing lately.  Well, not "nothing", just nothing exceptionally interesting to write about.  Little Blue is now approaching 2 months old, and gaining weight nicely.  He (thankfully) doesn't have Hannah's issue with eating.  Like Hannah, however, he sleeps pretty well at night.

Minis & Mechs

I've been continuing to paint my Battletech miniatures.  I've gotten a bit better at it, and I'm almost done with the ones in the original set.  I'm planning to pick up a couple of the Alpha Strike lance packs to get a few models the intro set doesn't come with.  And Catalyst told me over Twitter that they just might have some plans to bring some of the reseen 'mechs out in plastic form - I'll definitely be getting a few of those if and when that happens, too.  I've actually got to play the wargame a few times, and that's been fun.  I'm still really hoping to run a mercenaries campaign in the future.

Current and (Far) Future

I'm trying to gently nudge our World of Darkness campaign toward a conclusion, and getting ready to start a Numenera campaign.  I think the campaign I'm planning to run will in some ways might run smoother for this group.  Also, Crackle Nights are, in some ways, getting...difficult...as game nights.  Might need to try to move this back to the weekend.

Mus(ic)ing

I've actually been trying to do a little songwriting lately.  My list of hooks and inspiration notes is growing.  I've got a solid set of ideas.  I'm pushing the boulder closer to the edge.  At some point, I'll be ready to push it over and we'll get this rolling.

~PS

Bunguin The Second

Thursday October 29, 2015 at 10:24am bunguin, family Comments (0) »
 Bunguin The Second: Micah William Shoemaker
Bunguin The Second: Micah William Shoemaker

As of 11:29am on Tuesday, October 27th, 2015, we have a new family member: Micah William Shoemaker.  Mommy and baby are doing well, and recovering here at JCMC.

~PS

Painting and 31st Century Combat

Sunday October 11, 2015 at 4:52pm battletech, gaming Comments (0) »
 This Panther looks SIGNIFICANTLY better in person, if only because the macro shows every tiny flaw in my paint job...
This Panther looks SIGNIFICANTLY better in person, if only because the macro shows every tiny flaw in my paint job...

Brushing Up

So, I haven't painted minis in a long time but, due to a series of extremely fortunate events (and a guy I don't really know being generally awesome), I ended up with a copy of the Battletech introductory box set and the 26 mech figures that come with it.  And a painting guide for painting them.

I'm not really very good at this, but I think I'm getting a little better.  It's one thing to read the guide, it's another thing to be able to actually paint well.  I've painted about six of these now, and I've learned a bit.

Battling

The Battletech tabletop wargame is a lot of fun - not that I'm good at it, mind you.  I've even taught the quick-start rules to a kid I mentor at a local elementary school (...and he's beating me).  The tabletop wargame is only part of my nefarious goal, however.

As I have mentioned before, I have wanted to run a Battletech tabletop RPG campaign for for ever.  Now that I have minis, the actual tabletop game rules, and several sources of setting info, I'm a few steps closer.  I even actually have a copy of Mechwarrior 2nd ed (the published rpg component), but it strikes me as a bit clunky and dated at this point, so I'm working on my own companion rpg system to run in tandem with the wargame for an RPG campaign.  It needs to feel like an extension of the wargame, but encompass the plushier parts of character and role.

My one last reservation, however, is that I might not have the right group for this game.  It is a pretty heavy military sci-fi setting, and doesn't exactly fit with the "plucky adventurers" feel my group tends to have.  What I want to run is a mercenaries campaign wherein the PCs will comprise a mercenary outfit which will have to balance allegiances and personal goals with the bottom line - and all that that entails.  There are times that I think my group could have a lot of fun with this, and there are times that I think maybe I should pitch it to someone else.  The jury is still out, but there is a better-than-not chance I attempt to get them to at least give it a try at some point in the future.  Remember people, if your GM is into it, it's going to be a good game.

~PS

I've Always Wanted To Do This

Tuesday October 6, 2015 at 1:11pm geocaching, kayaking Comments (1) »
 kayaking in the rain on Fort Patrick Henry Lake
kayaking in the rain on Fort Patrick Henry Lake

Yak, yak, yak

So, last thursday I met up with some local cachers at a waterborne event at Fort Patrick Henry Lake.  Ever since one of them told me that they always have extra boats at these things and that someone would let my try kayaking, I was just waiting for an event to show up.  The fact that the "ideal conditions" did not present themselves was insignificant as far as I was concerned.  I have always wanted to do this.

We met up around 6p hoping the rain would hold off.  It did not.  Oh well, we were going to get wet anyway.  I was quick to claim one of the extra kayaks one of the guys had brought.  We paddled upstream quite a ways, hitting 4 caches along the way.  Being on the water with cool people was awesome, and I think the rain and the current from the generating dam made it more of an adventure.

That was a BLAST.  I've had some great adventures caching, and this was definitely one of the best.  Can't wait to do it again.

~PS

Some Truly Epic Caching

Saturday August 22, 2015 at 10:46pm geocaching Comments (0) »
 Captain Dobie's Treasure Map
Captain Dobie's Treasure Map

So Tony and I went out to do some geocaching today, and we found what is probably my favorite cache to-date.  It was a multi-cache (a cache with multiple "stages") called "Captain Dobie's Treasure".  The GPS coordinates lead you to a container which contains the pictured amazingly-crafted map, which, in turn, directs you to a small cave located in a small pocket of TVA land near Boone Lake. 

When we got there, I secured my 100' of paracord to a tree above the cave, and, after we defeated the large spider guarding the entrance, Tony put his headlamp on and went in.  It took him a few minutes to locate the cache, which he brought up for us to examine.  I then put on the headlamp and went down to put it back.   The cave actually goes in/down quite a ways - at least 40', from what I could tell.  It even had cave crickets!  Pretty cool.  The place where Tony had pulled the cache was only about 15 or 20' in and I was seriously tempted to take it considerably further down - I could see a spot that levelled out and seemed open up just a bit - but I refrained.

Tony was ready to call it a day after that - not because it was a gruelling task, but because really, we weren't going to top that.  I knew he was right, but I still had plans.

It was a great day, and this was definitely the high point.

~PS

Simon's Things

- A group of kids tries to contain a dark presence coming from a house at the edge of their neighborhood

At Face Value

Saturday April 25, 2015 at 8:34pm photography, geocaching Comments (0) »
Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge; desaturated and cropped for aspect
Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge; desaturated and cropped for aspect

Tweet, Tweet

Had a great time out on the Tweetsie Trail today with Hannah, doing a little caching and taking some photos.  At 3 years, she's not exactly a "stable" or "coorperative" subject, but I did manage to get some good ones.

Not All Smiles

I'm not sure why, but some of my favorite photos of her are ones where she has a neutral to serious expression.  Don't get me wrong, her smile is adorable and so rarely captured in a truly good photo that I love it when I get it (see entry below), but these are something else.  Something different.  Something real.  I just find them interesting, especially a bit desaturated and with a lot of contrast.  Maybe it's because that's not usually how you see children depicted.

~PS

A New Season

Thursday April 23, 2015 at 5:14pm family, little two, photography, geocaching, gaming, trogland Comments (0) »
Hannah on her swing set Swing, swing!
Swing, swing!

No blog entries for a while basically means I haven't had much to write about that would be interesting to anyone (not that much of what's here is, so I don't know why that would stop me).

But stuff goes on.

And hey, it's spring.  I was more than ready for some warm weather.

Bunguin The Second

The most "significant" development is the news of the eventual arrival of Little Two - Sheri is pregnant!  Hannah will be a big sister!  Coming this Halloween!

Photo Season

Now that the weather is warming up, I'm shooting a bit more again.  Still have my eye on some gear that I'd like to get pick up before Little Two arrives, but don't know what I'll be able to manage.

Some Premium Caching

Still been out caching.  Had some great experiences this year so far - actually went out hunting with a guy we met through the hobby last weekend.  That was a blast.  The AT is always fun.  I have upgraded to "premium" membership now (and Tim bought me another year), so there are a few we didn't know about lingering in places we'd previously cleared.  That just means we get to go back!  I've added a few more things to my gear pack: some rope (see: Pride Rock Hampton), a battery charger for my phone, and a walking stick.  I've also placed a couple more caches on the Tweetsie Trail, and Tony and I have plans for a series.

Games & Cons

Our D&D game is still going...I guess because it won't end.  Heh.  Actually, it continues to be pretty awesome.  I don't think I've ever run a game that wasn't pretty unweildy by this point, but this one remains solid.  Still want some variety though, and we may set it aside again in the relatively near future to play something else for a while.

I ran a pretty awesome FATE game at RuchtCon last month.  I think the card print-outs added a lot and helped out the players with aspects and rp.

Trogland 9 is fast approaching!  63 days!  I still have a lot to do for this.  Need to get the badges designed and ready for printing, and need to plan my game sessions..

~PS

Never pass up an opportunity to walk to an island!

Monday January 19, 2015 at 1:52pm geocaching, hiking Comments (2) »
An Island in South Holston Lake The location of the Island Girl cache - an island in South Holston Lake that's currently a peninsula.
The location of the Island Girl cache - an island in South Holston Lake that's currently a peninsula.

New places, new caches.  Found the infamous Echolocation.  Broke 200 finds.  Hiked for miles.  Solved some crazy puzzles.  Resurrected a cache after 3.5 years.  Conquered some mountains.  Enjoyed more adventures with friends.

Still having fun.

~PS

As The Year Ends

Tuesday December 30, 2014 at 8:27pm family, holidays, geocaching, friends, gaming, music Comments (2) »
Hannah Out Caching Hannah, waiting for me to re-hide a nearby cache.
Hannah, waiting for me to re-hide a nearby cache.

Holidays

Had a great trip to AR last week, though I still haven't recovered.  Was good to see Sheri's folks over the holiday.

Got to go caching a couple of times while out that way; that was pretty awesome, too.  I've now been all over the parks around Bull Shoals, AR.  Was cold and somewhat wet, but I was 11 for 11.  Hannah and I went on a short trip in Branson, MO, too.

Didn't play *quite* as much minecraft over the break this time around.

Sheri got me the Numenera core book for Christmas, and I've been reading through it.  I think it might be the system/setting where I finally actually do something with my ideas for a Myst-like game.  Got some other cool stuff, too - some old movies I wanted, a penguin hat and 7 Wonders to name a few.

Went up to IN over Thanksgiving (just realized I haven't posted anything since then), and that was a good time, too.  Got to see family, and dad & I had a great time out caching again this year.

Now You're Older Still

So I guess I'm 35 now.  Had a birthday back in there somewhere (probably on the 18th - that's when it usually is).  Adam gave me a pretty sweet geocaching shirt, and Sheri got me a walking stick, a headband/ear-cover and some other caching stuff.  Hannah gave me a new set of dice.  Also, "birthday crackles" is a great tradition.

At The Table

Our D&D game continues to go strong, though I've been working on at least 3 other games here and there as well.  Steve - our remote player - had to drop out due to work-related busyness, unfortunately.  I like how I'm running this game in particular, though the layers of causality get a bit dizzying at times.  That's not a bad thing, though.

Talk of RuchtCon V has begun as well.  I decided a while back I was going to run a game of Retrograde (FATE Core) this year.

A Tune In My Head

I'm hoping to do something with music in the coming year.  I've been kicking around some ideas for a while now, but I haven't yet made time to really flesh any of them out.  That, and my "space" in the office is in...disarray...to say the least.

~PS

Adventures Continue

Sunday November 9, 2014 at 4:26pm geocaching, gaming, photography Comments (2) »
Ring The Bell Cache at the top of the mountain.
Cache at the top of the mountain.

Cold Hard Cache

Went out hiking/caching for the first time in a while yesterday.  My usual cohorts weren't able to make it, but fortunately Robb joined me for what was probably the most arduous adventure so far.  Seriously.  The ascent was brutal, and some of the descent amounted to something I would call "leaf skiing".  We were 5 for 5 though, and I found an unactivated travel bug in the ammo box at the top.

So I've been doing this for just over a year now, and I've had some pretty great adventures with Tony, Tim, Robb, and my dad.  Think I'll probably keep it up.  I'll probably "upgrade" to a "premium" membership sometime soon.  Tony has already.  The premium membership gives you access to "premium members only" caches.  This originally struck me as unnecessarily elitist, but I've since heard at least one compelling argument for this practice: anti-theft.  Especially when the containers are nice, if the cache is easily accessible to anyone on the internet for free, it seems that they have a tendency to go missing with greater frequency. 

The 200 Mile Tabletop

My D&D game continues to go well.  In fact, those have been the only entries here on the site for a while.  Not all of the sessions have been awesome, but in general, the momentum continues, and I'm still enjoying it - which is good, because there's a lot of it left.  I've been kicking around several other campaign ideas (like I always do), but none of them have manifested the "new shiny" effect where I want to drop the current game to pursue one of them.

Steve has now joined us for a few sessions via Skype.  I've decided that that works "ok".  One of the minor problems is that the built-in laptop speakers don't have enough power to amplify Steve enough to compete with the table (read: Me and Tim) and I don't have a good speaker to use yet.  I'm wanting to get a decent bluetooth speaker anyway; just haven't gotten around to it yet.  

The bigger hurdle for me is more inherent to remote play, though.  During the course of a game I'm observing the table and trying to make minor adjustments to how I present aspects of the game based on what I see.  It's a bit difficult to read body language through a computer screen, particularly when, due to camera placement, you don't even get eye-contact.  I guess this is to say "hopefully its working out well", since I can't necessarily tell.

On Camera

So Canon's long-awaited 7D mk II has begun shipping, and I continue to read good things about it.  This will probably be my camera upgrade of choice.  Don't know when I'll be able to do that, though.  I've still got a wide angle lens and some stuff for off-camera flash on my wishlist, too.

~PS

Cameras, Caches, Celts and Coercion

Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 12:47pm photography, geocaching, celtic festival, gaming Comments (0) »
Hannah and the Potter Hannah had a great time
Hannah had a great time "helping" this potter at Sycamore Shoals' Celtic Festival

Mark (II) This One

Ok, actually this isn't about the T4 caching adventure Tony, Tim and I had on Buffalo Mountain a while back.  This is about camera gear.

Canon (finally) announced the 7D Mark II yesterday.  It doesn't exactly blow me away, but it has basically everything I want in a body upgrade to my 40D.  I would have taken a little more resolution and ISO, but this camera seems quite adequate, and what I'm reading about it is largely positive.  At $1800, it's not exactly "cheap" (at $1300, I would have called this a no-brainer), but it's not ridiculously priced, and you tend to get what you pay for.  Several reviewers are calling this a "mini 1DX" in terms of build quality and performance.

This camera is everything my 40D is, improved.  My biggest beef with my camera's direct descendent, the well-liked 70D, as well as the full-frame 6D, is that both lack certain controls that my 40D has, and both use SD instead of CF cards.  Since these don't directly play into image quality, those complaints may seem petty or even irrelevant, but I have this thing about an "upgrade" not being a step backward in any way.  The last thing I want is to invest in a new body and find myself thinking "you know, this camera is great, but I really miss X or Y about my old one...".  The 7Dii looks good; unless some design flaw comes to light after it hits shelves, it will most likely be my choice for a camera upgrade.

A Tweet Cache

Ok, this has nothing to do with Twitter - although actually, I wonder how many people have "tweeted" from the new trail. 

Back on labor day, the Tweetsie Trail finally opened - and it's pretty cool (the parts of it I've seen, anyway).  One of my favorite parts is the Milligan Depot, a rest stop near where a rail flag stop used to be.

Ever since Tony and I heard about this, we decided this was the place.  We're both Milligan alum and we've been looking for a good place to hide our first geocache, so we found a good place near the depot to make the hide.  We wanted to include a "Flat Brutus" in the cache for people to take pictures with, but unfortunately, our container isn't big enough for it (though I do have this idea of making a tiny one to put in).  The container itself is handmade, and I'm a little proud of it.  As of now, there have only been two finds, but both said it was awesome.

Sycamore Celtic

We went out to Sycamore Shoals' Celtic Festival a while back.  It was cool, although the Lords of Chivalry didn't actually joust this year.  Apparently the festival wasn't paying them, so they were there on their own, doing some promotion, training and selling horse rides, etc.  Since they weren't being paid, they didn't feel comfortable taking the chance of someone getting hurt (their operation is a bit more authentic and a bit less for-show than some).  We go most years - and it's something different and fun - but my general take is that it's an "ok" festival that could be better.

There's Games and Then There's Games

Gaming lately has been some good stuff.  We've had a few firsts lately.  I don't think I've had a "big bad" coerce a PC into healing it before, and I'm endlessly amused that our critical hit variant has actually caused a lot of trouble for one PC in particular simply because his shot was a little too good.  Also, we're planning to introduce a 5th player, our old friend Steve, via Skype.  I'll be interested to see how this works.

Rucht's group has just started a Numenera game.  The setting for this game is pretty fascinating, and the mechanics are quite interesting.  I think this is one I'll pick up at some point.  I've also heard good things about the recently-released 5th edition D&D...but I'm still enjoying 3.5.  I might eventually buy Pathfinder or 5e, but, in general, I'd rather buy a different game than a new version of something I already enjoy.

Fair's Fair

As I did last year, I entered a few photos in the Appalachian Fair this year.  Didn't get any first place ribbons this time around, but did get a second and a third (which, according to the prize amounts, is equivalent?).  Also as with last year, I didn't exactly agree with the judges on their choices, but that's expected.  I don't think I'd have given me first on any either, however - though I might have disputed some of the 2nd/3rd choices, on my behalf as well as on others'. 

The two shots that I did get ribbons on were both taken on our Vacatiaverssary trip to Myrtle Beach in July.  In fact, the 2nd place ribbon went to this shot, which I posted here already.

~PS

A Summer Break

Tuesday July 29, 2014 at 1:48pm vacation, photography, geocaching, gaming Comments (0) »
Brookgreen Gardens Night Heron Night Heron at Brookgreen Gardens aviary
Night Heron at Brookgreen Gardens aviary

Vacatiaversary

Sheri & I just got back from a vacation to Myrtle Beach we took for our 10th anniversary.  This was our first trip away from Hannah, which was nice (even if we did miss the little bug).  She had a great time with Oma and Opa.  It was a great time - we got to hang out on the beach, swim in pools, visit local parks and even hang out with some friends who live out there (thanks again to De & Gryf/Ryan!). We also got to hang out a bit with my sister Jese and brother-in-law Michael in Columbia on our way back.  Basically, Michael and I talked game stuff.  They need to come visit sometime so we can play lots of games.

Also, my dad is awesome and did a laundry list of jobs around my house while I was gone, including replacing the Jeep's radiator, replacing the cover over the stairwell, putting a storm door on the front of the house, mowing the yard a few times, cleaning the garage, taking the recycling and fixing a few minor things.  He told us he was "having fun".

The Long And The Short Of It

I had debated whether to take all of my camera gear, or just my primary lens - after all, the point of the trip wasn't photography.  Ended up taking the whole bag though, and was glad I had my telephoto when we went to Brookgreen Gardens.  Got a few really nice shots of birds and insects there.

I think I've gotten better at using my 300mm telephoto.  Even with IS, you have to know how to hold it still or shots will come out blurry.  It is a nice piece of glass once mastered, though.

I haven't decided exactly what I want to do for a wide angle yet, but since neither of the ones I looked at before were exactly what I'm wanting, I think I'm currently leaning toward the cheaper Sigma lens.  It performed well, and will give me the ultra-wide I was looking for - if I plan to stay with a crop-frame camera.  Canon is supposed to annouce the 7D II in september, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it will be.

A Little Cache

I even got to do just a tiny bit of geocaching while we were on vacation, picking up a couple in Myrtle Beach State Park.  One of the two actually had two parts - one of which was hiding in plain site behind the counter at the beach gift shop.  The park personnel also seemed supportive of the hobby too, which was pretty cool.  I recently hit find #100, and Tony and I are making plans to hide one or two of our own.

Just Out Of Reach

Last gaming session of the Cyrran Reaches was a little slow.  I've once again run into an age-old problem with the way I set up games: sometimes the players just don't know what to do.  In this case, they have encountered a lot of interesting "leads", they just aren't sure how to follow up on them.  The end result is that, though they've "done" and "seen" some stuff, they really haven't "accomplished" anything in several sessions.  I guess I need to be more conscious of that.  We've decided to move the game along to a place they've been planning to go for some time.  Hopefully I can make that a little punchier while still maintaining my sandbox approach.  Next game is this saturday - I suppose we'll see.

~PS

Cache Flow

Sunday June 29, 2014 at 3:07pm geocaching Comments (0) »
Old School Nalgene Bottle A New Life for and Old Bottle for an Old Cache
A New Life for and Old Bottle for an Old Cache

Please Remove Your Cache

So I've continued on with my new(est) geocaching hobby.  I blame Llama.  It's his fault.

Anyway, about a week ago, I went to pick up a cache we'd previously searched for, failed to find, learned was actually missing, and was subsequently replaced.  On my way around, I stopped in on another cache I'd found that had been de-listed from the site due to maintenance issues.

This one, dubbed "Tree Frog", has had a pretty long history of unfortunate happenstances.  When we found it the first time, it had been eaten through.  When I found it this time, the lid was off, it was full of water and its contents were scattered around.  Since it was in such bad shape and was no longer actively listed on geocaching.com, it basically constituted "litter", so I decided I'd remove it.  It wasn't "mine", but the owner had said he/she could no longer manage it (the container had already been replaced at least once by someone else) - so I felt I was doing a courtesy to the community and the park.  I posted to the cache's logs saying I'd removed it and provided some photos.  Alas, poor cache.

Resurrection

Speaking of dead caches, yesterday Llama and I went out for a few.  He wasn't up to hitting Buffalo Mountain again, so we decided we'd go back to the Laurel Park picnic area and find the two there we didn't grab last time - and we decided we would replace one that had been missing for a couple of years.  

The last time we went out there, we spent about 45 minutes looking for a cache that wasn't there.  I should have paid closer attention to the logs.  The last person to log the cache did find it, but it was in 2012, and they said they found "pieces" of it.  Well, we found nothing - and we were so disheartened by the whole experience that we decided not to go looking for the other two that were at that park (we'd already found 3 that day, and ALL of them were much harder than they should have been).

We took one of the old Nalgene bottles dad & I used to use when we went backpacking to use as a container, since it was solid and watertight.  I'm pretty sure that bottle probably has quite a few wilderness-trekking miles under its belt, so a "final" resting place as a geocache along a trail in the woods seemed appropriate.

After that, we hit the other two caches that were at the park.  Those hadn't been found in a year or two either, but they were fortunately still present.  One required some pretty serious up-hill bushwacking though....and deserved every bit of its 4-star terrain rating.

~PS

End Of The Line

Sunday May 4, 2014 at 5:03pm gaming Comments (0) »
Zero Line Game Note The Zero Line
The Zero Line

Mission Successful

So last night we finished up The Zero Line, a sci-fi RPG I was running using the FATE system.  Overall, I think it was a great success.  As I've said before, I really like the FATE system and its flexibility and focus on the descriptive over the numeric.  It's a lot different than a crunchier system such as D&D.  That's not a value judgement - I actually enjoy both approaches.  I'm glad to have the variety.

Since I wanted to run 5 sessions, I had originally thought that the Zero Line would last us into March.  As you may have noticed, it's May.  Apparently, we were all really busy this year.

Intro

The game itself was exactly what I wanted it to be - an sweeping overview of a sci-fi setting I created and intended to use in grittier/darker science fiction games.  While this game dealt with the Line itself and the Tetrani war fairly early in the intended-to-play time period, there are actually a lot of other themes in the setting that could be the entire focus of a campaign: periphery exploration, AI, transhumanism/Augments, and Delphi to name a few.  I think it has a lot of possibilties.

Over The Line

I think the players really enjoyed the game, despite the fact that I created their characters for them.  I think the newness of the system and setting warranted if not required it.  Still, I think this necessarily lowered their investment in the game, and they're ready to get back to our D&D 3.5 game.

~PS

The Zero Line: Behind Us

Saturday May 3, 2014 at 6:00pm fate core, the zero line, game session notes Comments (0) »

- The group helps some insectoid formerly-human locals repel a Tetrani attack and learns about the bizarre history of the research installation.

Drive-by Check-in

Tuesday April 29, 2014 at 1:49pm photography, gaming, house Comments (0) »

Just a quick note or two - not too much new to write about lately.

Continuing to evaluate possible new camera gear.  Now planning to rent a Sigma 10mm 2.8 fisheye in addition to the 14mm 2.8L II.  Also, office got a nice Tamron 24-70 2.8 lens which, on the 5D, gave me some sense of what the 14mm will be like on my camera.

Gaming has continued - still trying to finish up The Zero Line.  Kind of thought we'd be done with that by now, but our schedules have been really busy.  Scheduled to wrap it up saturday.  After that, probably going back to our 3.5 game.

Our office at home is in the midst of overhaul.  Painted, now just need to get Sheri's new desk designed & built.  Also, need to get my bookcase and comfy chair.

The Zero Line: Planetfall

Monday April 7, 2014 at 8:00pm fate core, the zero line, game session notes Comments (0) »

The party helped re-establish order on the Defiant, set out to discover the fate of a military research site in a larger crater on the planet Nago II, and were unexpectedly attacked by aerial Tetrani forces as they made their approach.

The Zero Line: Warped

Saturday March 15, 2014 at 7:00pm fate core, the zero line, game session notes Comments (0) »

New/Guest Character:

Jim (Dave)

 

Highlights:

The group deals with some aftermath on the ship after crossing the Zero Line, including an emergent biomorph, some twisted monstrousities, crazed crewmen and belligerent computer systems.

Prospecting

Monday March 10, 2014 at 10:46pm geocaching, gaming, trogland Comments (0) »
Hannah, Geoffry and a micro cache Hannah, Geoffry the Geocaching Giraffe, and a micro find at Persimmon Ridge
Hannah, Geoffry the Geocaching Giraffe, and a micro find at Persimmon Ridge

In it for the Cache

Tony and I have already done quite a bit of caching this year.  We started early, often in the snow.  We've taken to going out on saturday mornings whenever possible.  It's been a lot of fun.  We've found some pretty cool hides and we keep talking about placing a couple of our own sometime.  We even succeeded at our first "puzzle" cache last weekend.  We're becoming pretty good at this little game - though recently, for the first time, we had someone find one we had previously failed to locate.  I blame snow.  And rocks.

We take Sheri & Hannah with us whenever we can, and so, ever since the abortive trip to Buffalo Mtn, I've been trying to find places with easier terrain for their sake.  Fortunately, I've found quite a few good locations that have been fun for all.  And we'll save the tough stuff for when we go out on our own - or if we can get my dad to come join us.

A couple of weekends ago, I added South Carolina to the list of states I've cached in.  My sister, who lives in Columbia, is getting married in a couple of weeks, and we went down so Sheri & Hannah could go to a bridal shower.  While they were doing that, Michael (her fiance) and I went caching at Saluda Shoals park.  Pretty cool for my first time meeting the guy.  He seems pretty cool.

One for the History Books

In other news, I was doing a bit of history reading (ok, so it was on wikipedia) the other night as I'm preparing for my game for Ruchtcon IV at the end of the month.  I'm running a gold-rush era supernatual game.  Just for fun, I'm actually using names and info from real historical people and places, and then morphing them a bit into my own fiction.  It's something I really haven't done before, and it's been quite interesting.  Hopefully the game will be as well.

Oh, and I've actually been reading a history *book* for fun, too - found one called 'Atlas of the Celtic World' at Books-a-million a while back.  It's interesting.

 

Speaking of cons, we've also started talking about Trogland 8.  I really need to get the site back up & running. O.o

 

~PS

Fated to Game

Thursday February 27, 2014 at 9:46pm gaming Comments (0) »

Getting The Ball Rolling

Gaming this year has been off to a bit of a slow start.  We picked up a new sci-fi game to run for a few sessions before we get back to our 3.5 game.  It's been cool and I love the FATE system, but it's been a little slow.  Unfortunately, I think that even though I crave variety in my games, I'm just not as at home in genres other than traditional fantasy.  Probably, that's a matter of practice, but still.  The game doesn't quite have the level of enthusiasm I'd like.  Maybe my expectations are too high, and/or maybe everyone's getting used to the system and barrage of ideas I threw at them.  The FATE Core system is really cool, though, and I think once the group gets used to it, we'll see some really creative stuff.

Drawing The Line

The working title for the setting I'm using for the game is "The Zero Line".  Basically, it's a game about emergent psionics amidst an impending galactic apocalypse.  There are quite a few other themes (typical to sci-fi), but those are the big ones.  Essentially, there is a shockwave emanating from the galactic core, traveling at almost the speed of light, almost completely wiping out anything it touches.  At the speed of light, however, for a society capable of faster-than-light travel/communication, there's still a gap of centuries between the time it was discovered and the time it will hit Earth.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea.  And the psionics thing is because I've always wanted to do something like the world described in Anne McCaffrey's "Talent" series.

 

Still gotta come up with something for Ruchtcon next month...

 

~PS

The Zero Line: Through the Gauntlet

Friday February 14, 2014 at 7:00pm fate core, the zero line, game session notes Comments (0) »

The group explores the derelict frieghter, discovers it comes from beyond the Zero Line, and reports to the captain of their ship, who, in turn, gives the unprecedented order to jump the Line.

The Zero Line: Redirection

System: Fate Core

Setting: The Milky Way Galaxy (Zero Line)

Players: Sheri, Tony, Adam, Tim

Schedule: Near-weekly

 

The Zero Line is a sci-fi setting based around emergent psionics in the context of an impending galactic apocalypse.

 

Characters:

Trya Bucchari (Sheri)

Malcolm Faulknen (Tony)

Kenneth Lockley (Adam)

Trenton Greaves (Tim)

 

Highlights:

Group is assembled by by the Galactica Humanus Navy, Delphi and the Periphery Initiative to explore a far-periphery system.  As they were about to set out, the GHN informed them their mission has changed and they were instead directed to investigate a derelict freighter which recently appeared in a coreward system.

Sum of the New Year

Saturday January 11, 2014 at 9:21am christmas, photography, geocaching, gaming Comments (0) »
2013 Family Christmas Photo 2013 Family Christmas Photo.  Camera controlled from laptop, laptop  controlled from cell phone.  Hannah controlled: barely.  Flash bounced  from left off a piece of foam board on a music stand.
2013 Family Christmas Photo.  Camera controlled from laptop, laptop controlled from cell phone.  Hannah controlled: barely.  Flash bounced from left off a piece of foam board on a music stand.

Ah, the new year.  2014 happens.  Looks like Penguinsushi.com is almost 9 years old.  Over Christmas I, once again, made the journey northward toward parentville.  Unquestionably a great time.  Tons of pictures on the Bookface (for those of you who find me there).

The Pro

I finally was able to meet Tony Vasquez, my friend Brittany's husband, who happens to be a pro photographer.  We had a great time talking.  He gave me a few tips on flash photography/lighting and post-production, and I was somewhat gratified that, during the course of the conversation, I actually did feel like I knew what I was talking about.  Since I've been back, some mention has been made of us going out and shooting together next time I'm up that way - which would be completely awesome.

Potential Gear

Christmas was also pretty good to my camera fund.  In theory, I think I have very nearly enough for my next purchase (though that's going to wait at least a while for a small myriad of reasons).  I'm still not sure what, exactly, I want to go with.  It's down to either an updated camera body, or a nice wide-angle lens.  Unfortunately, a perfect candidate for either of those doesn't exist at the moment - though there are rumours of developments throughout this year.  As of now, I'm planning to rent Canon's 14mm F2.8 L II later this spring to try it out.  I figured if I'm considering spending that kind of money, I want to be absolutely sure it's what I want.

Cold Cache

Ha! Another geocaching pun! 

So dad & I went out 2 and half times over the holiday.  Seems he had a lot of fun over thranksgiving, and wanted to do some more.  I say "and a half" because there was one time that we both went out, just not together.  On new year's eve we went out to a trail near Lake Monroe and hit 10.  Overall, we were 13 for 16.  Looking at the logs, a couple of our DNFs seem as though they, perhaps, weren't even present.   I've now found more caches in IN than TN (a condition my good friend the Llama wishes to rectify).

So Tony/Llama and I have been thinking about placing our own cache somewhere around here.  I've found some promising containers for "not-too-expensive", and been thinking about possible sites.  I, personally, am more a fan of the caches that are in parks, along trails, etc.  We still need to scout the locations, though getting permission to actually place one might be difficult.  Can't put my finger on why, but I get the general impression standards/restrictions may have become tighter in the last 5-10 years.

And A Happy New Game

Our Cyrran Reaches game wrapped up a chapter in mid-December, and it left off with 4 or 5 possible directions in which to proceed.  It has been a fantastic game, and we're planning to keep rolling with it...

...just not immediately.  See, we've been playing that game for almost a year now, and I find that too much longer than that and I start to get burned out.  I'm loving that game, but I also like variety.  We kicked a couple of ideas around and decided that we're going set up a brief interlude game: something different to play with for a few sessions before we get back to the "main event". 

We've done a lot of fantasy, so I'm planning to run a short sci-fi game for the group.  I've just actually ordered the Fate stuff I'd been wanting to pick up (I'd been planning to buy it ever since I downloaded the Pay-What-You-Want pdf and ran a game at Trogland 7), and I'm looking forward to playing some more with that.  I was talking to Sheri last night about the setting I have in mind, and she seemed pretty interested.

 

ThanksGeoPhoto

Thursday December 5, 2013 at 6:07pm geocaching, photography, family Comments (0) »
Joe + his D3100 Joe, lying on the floor playing with his camera
Joe, lying on the floor playing with his camera

For the first time in quite a while, we made the journey up to IN for Thanksgiving.  Was quite a good trip - great to see a lot of relatives I don't catch up with often.

Caching On

I wonder how many more Cache/Catch puns I can come up with?  Anyway, inamongst the more typical festivities, I managed to do a little geocaching - mostly to place a travel bug I'd picked up here in TN.  I think I might have mentioned it before.  I even got my dad & my brother to come along with me, and the three of us had quite a good (if cold) time.  I'm up to 12 finds, total.  It's been quite fun.

Sibling Photography

Also, spent quite a bit of time talking to my brother about camera gear and photography in general - something I always enjoy.  Joe is learning to handcraft jewelry, and wanted a camera setup to take photos of his work.  He recently bought a Nikon d3100 and 40mm f/2.8 lens that has some decent macro capability.  I, personally, would have steered him toward Canon, but that's mostly because that's what I have and I might be able to help a little more with that.  Plus we could share toys.  But he found a deal on this one, so that's what he got.

It seems to be a decent camera  We had some fun playing with it, seeing what it was capable of.  It does have higher iso performance than my camera, though I haven't tested how well it performs at 3200+.  The close-focus/macro of the lens seems to work pretty well also.  I'll be interested to see what he does with it.

~PS

Cyrran Reaches: By Its Cover

Saturday November 23, 2013 at 7:00pm cyrran reaches, gaming, game session notes Comments (0) »

- Lily and the others guessed that the key impression in the cover of the book they'd found was made for the key the mephit had given them.  When they put it into the book, an opalescent sphere enveloped them for a moment, but the only further effect was the sudden arrival of an ice devil.

- Certain this book was the key (ha!), Lily continued to try to activate it properly while the others held off the devil.

- The party eventually incapacitated the fiend, but, knowing it would soon revive, they decided to flee the library - taking the book with them.

- They eventually found themselves in a relatively secluded room with a large statue of a dragon holding a glass-like green orb.  Lily and Kael continued to examine the book, but Taryn was interested in what they'd found.  As he approached, the statue spoke, asking him if he desired the orb and warning him that, if he decided he did, it was a decision that could not be reversed.  Feeling they needed every edge they could get to combat the current threat, Taryn took it.

- It took both Lily and Kael a few minutes to figure out the book's function, but, when they did, they discovered that placing the attached bookmark in one of the pages (each of which depicted a very specific locale), placing the key in the cover would transport the book and those nearby to the place indicated.  Removing the key reversed the effect.  In discovering this, they traveled to an ancient dwarven corridor with some sort of distorted or slowed time effect.  Inscriptions suggested the place was "waiting" for some divine intervention.

- They studied the book for some time, trying to determine which place the professor they sought (an elf called Valthious) might be in.  Ultimately, it was Taryns luck that lead them to him.

- When he realized the group was not sent by Jekri, Valthious was very happy to see them.  He was being kept prisoner as and expert on cosomology and the interplay of the planes.  Jekri wanted to know if and how the Arch could be weaponized - specifically, made to catasrophically implode.

- Valthious lead the group to a good place to rest - one of the more peaceful locales in the book - and gave them a scroll that could be used to allow their weapons to overcome the resistances of the fiends they faced.

- When the group returned to the Academy, the situation seemed to have worsened.  The walls of the tower shook, and an unearthly shrieking could be heard echoing through the halls - over an above the relentless grinding and pounding sounds of infernal machinery...

 

***

GMs Note: I'm quite proud of the artifact I created and introduced in this session, dubbed the Book of Urzen'Tu.  The book is a large leather and metal bound volume, covered with runes and with a carved resting place for a key in its cover.  It has a large, finely-woven bookmark attached to its spine.  

Inspired by Myst (one of my favorite cosmologies), the book contains detailed descriptions of hundreds of very specific places - each of which composes/occupies a (relatively) small pocket dimension.  Placing the bookmark at one of the location descriptions, closing the book and placing the key in its place in the cover causes the book to instantly transport itself and those nearby to the location described.  Removing the key reverses the effect, transporting the book and those with it back to the material plane.

Caching Up

Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 2:24pm geocaching, friends, family Comments (0) »
Blue Skies Container A Hard-Fought Find
A Hard-Fought Find

Llama & I went geocaching again last saturday - this time out a Winged Deer Park.  Sheri and Hannah came along with us, too.  We all had a pretty great time.

We decided to start looking for the 7 or so caches hidden around in that area in the order of how close they were to where we parked.  The first one was within just a couple hundred feet.  One might think it should be a pretty easy find.

Not so.

It took the group of us about 45 minutes to find, largely due to two facts:

1) The GPS signal was pretty screwy in that wooded valley.

and

2) The "hint" was "at the end of a fallen tree".

That second one wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't about four thousand fallen trees within about 100ft of the site.  I might be exagerrating on that figure, but I'm not sure.

After nearly giving up a couple of times, we did finally locate it - and that was pretty rewarding.

The other two caches we picked up didn't give us any real trouble finding - we all but walked right up to them.  We did find a Travel Bug in one of them - which I'm going to try to re-deposit out of state.

All in all, it was a good day for a search.

~PS

Loosening the Reins

Saturday November 2, 2013 at 1:40pm gaming, friends Comments (2) »
Antagonist Pawns Pffffft.  Staged.
Pffffft.  Staged.

So last night's game was something of an experiment.

I'm usually pretty guarded with my game/story/plot settings.  Historically, I've liked to retain pretty tight control over what is and isn't present in the game world, and I'd say that, for the most part, that's still pretty true.  I don't think there's anything wrong with this, and its greatest virtue is that it guarantees a certain level of internal consistency.

In recent games, though, I've been a bit looser with allowing the players to "make stuff up" for me to incorportate into the world while keeping it a cogent whole.  Last night added a new level.

New Devilry

A friend of ours from our annual Meetups was in town for the weekend, and we asked him if he'd like to join our game for the night.  I'm usually pretty easy with letting "guest" players come in and out.  This time, though, I gave Reinholdt a choice: I told him he could either be a character that was basically in line with the party (and would be much more in the foreground), or he could play the part of the primary antagonist - which was going to be more of a puppetmaster role.  Since Reinholdt is, in fact, a cylon, he of course chose the latter.

So I had a new PC at the table playing the part of a character that I had carefully constructed and designed specifically for the situation the characters have been dealing with for about 10 games or so.  I tried to explain the character as best I could, but of course someone else is always going to interpret the facts differently.  It was interesting watching someone else interpret it, as well as giving control of the primary villain to someone else at the table.

Reinholdt did a great job.  He spent most of the game passing me notes telling me all the things he was trying to do behind the scenes to confound the PCs.  Actually, a lot of his suggestions made the game.  He did some things I wouldn't have, of course, but I'm prepared to roll them into the canon.

~PS

Caching In

Sunday October 20, 2013 at 10:04pm geocaching Comments (0) »
Shoal Gonna Like This One first find
first find

I like doing interesting things, and I have found that there are many activities I'd be into pursuing if another, genuinely interested friend suggested we give it a try.  I think all of my current hobbies started because I had a good time participating in the activity and discussing the ins and outs with someone else.

Geo-logistics

So my good friend Tony was hanging out recently with a friend of his up in Michigan, who on this occasion introduced him to geocaching.  They had a quite a good time with it, and Tony thought it to be something I'd find interesting.  He brought it up to me as we were working on the goggles he needed for Casey & Steph's wedding (which was also quite a blast, by the way).  

I'd heard of this passtime before, knew the basic concept and thought it sounded neat, but never really looked into it.  When Tony came back a little excited about it, that was really all it took.  I don't do as much outdoor stuff as I used to, and this seemed an interesting pretense for getting out.

Between our usual weekly schedule and needing to prepare for the game I was running on friday (which I think went well), I didn't have time to do much more than register my alias on geocaching.com.  Today, however, was a beautiful day and, after texting back and forth for a bit, Tony & I decided to meet at Sycamore Shoals - where we believed at least one cache was located.

We made this first find after just about 15 minutes - pretty easily, actually.  It's a pretty good hiding spot just a little ways off the main trail.  The GPS app I put on my phone specifically for this seemed to work quite well (I'm not using the "official" app for a couple of reasons).  I signed the log and we left a couple of items before moving on.

There seem to be a few other caches in the area, but no other ones actually within the park itself.  Though we did happen upon a "rare flower".

There seem to be quite a few caches in fairly populous/urban areas but, for now, I think we're mostly into the more remote finds - in parks, trails and the like.  We've got our eyes on Winged Deer and the lower Laurel Falls trail next.  We discussed returning to the one at Sycamore Shoals as well to do the cache a favor: the gladware container it uses is all but breached and we've talked about replacing it with something more durable.

~PS

Please Stand By...Again...

Wednesday July 10, 2013 at 10:28am everything Comments (0) »

Ah! I slept through June!

Good ol' Penguinsushi.com hasn't been used much lately.  I have been insanely busy.  The short list includes Bug, Trogland 7, a development side project, new toys, visiting family and various get-togethers.  Also, I've been kicking around ideas on another site-redesign.

It's not dead, it's just a tad neglected on the front-end.

~PS

References: Welcome Back.

Sidenotes

Friday May 31, 2013 at 10:39pm gaming, trogland, photography Comments (0) »

Been very busy, but not much for the blog.  Mostly, I've been working on my current campaign (Cyrran Reaches), gearing up for Trogland 7, and playing a little with my camera.  I've also been trying to get some creative ideas for some recording projects going, but it's been a little hit or miss.

Reaching

I think my D&D 3.5 game is going quite well.  Last session was a little slow, but there's been some great plot, some fun action, and some aspects I haven't addressed much in games before.  I've enjoyed developing the setting area as well, and there are a lot of possibilities for it, I think.

Troggin'

This year's meetup is coming up soon - we're just about a month away.  Today was the last day for pre-registration.  I built trogland.penguinsushi.com for this purpose, and I'm fairly proud of it.  Getting the meetup funded up-front this year has allowed us to do some new things with less stress.  Win-win all around.  I'll also be running a sequel to last year's Little Fears game - which was awesome to the point that I'm not sure I can possibly live up to it.  Still, it should be fun.  If I can get that together soon, I may also try to run something else on friday night.

Back Up

I've also, as usual, been playing with my camera.  I actually had a chance to play with the 5D mk III one of my coworkers uses at work...  ...and now I kind of want one.  It's pretty nice.  I would settle for a 6D though, and since that one is about 1.5k cheaper, it's a bit more likely than the former.  I'm also still wanting to get a nice telephoto lens.

Unfortunately, I also discovered my beloved 50mm prime has a bit of a backfocusing issue.  I'm not sure if it's always done this and increased experience now has me noticing, or whether it has developed the behvior recently.  On the good side, it is extremely mild - to the point that I can't quite tell if it always does it or not, and it's really only noticeable up close and at a wide aperture.  Also, if I do manage to get a newer camera, a lot of the nice digital bodies have the ability to compensate for this sort of thing.

~PS

Web Dev, Gaming Cons, and the Wiki of the Penguin

Monday February 18, 2013 at 9:26pm website, gaming Comments (0) »
Web Dev, Gaming Cons, and the Wiki of the Penguin Image

Yeah, Whatever

I am pretty behind on doing anything on this site.  Meh.  I still need to post photos from 2012.  I've gone through them, I just need to make final selections & export them.  It'll happen.  At some point.

Also, i've been doing some work on the site engine and kicking around some new site design ideas.  Because that's what I do.

Also, also (and this is related) a group of us has started talking about this year's OotsCon, which is now called the Trogland Meetup.  It's becoming a bit more of a stand-alone entity.  We're expanding it a bit, due to past difficulties.  This year, we're going to have some hotel space for some of the events, and we're formalizing some of the other "goodies" - like con badges and 'schwag' items.  Due to this, we're implementing a registration fee as well, and I've been developing a registration site for us to use.  That's taken a bit of time.

Didn't Think She'd Mine

So I got Sheri into Minecraft.  I'm actually kind of surprised she enjoys the game as much as she does.  Also, due to some hardware replacements at work, she got a new computer.  It's the fastest currently in the house.  64-bit Windows 7 2.9ghz with 8gb of ram.  This machine - dubbed Pheonix as it was born from the ashes of a few dying pcs - replaced Lain, and it plays the game quite well.

The Savage and Fantastic

We brought our Savage Seas game to a pausing point - actually, a point just before a new leg of the adventure - and decided to pick something else for a while.  It is a good game, and we'll go back to it eventually, but I was really in the mood to do something different.  The group had wanted to play a high fantasy game for a while, so I started a new D&D 3.5 game at 10th level.  The setting I'm developing for it is called Cyrran Reaches, and it's a region in the corner of a kingdom with half a dozen settlements and quite a few interesting characters.  So far, I've only really developed the generalities of the place and the westernmost village, but the detail is awesome.

Take Note

Speaking of, I've been continuing my experiments in gaming notes.  I like to have gaming notes because I like highly-detailed setting creation, but I've never had a good way of organizing them such that it makes any sense.  I got a new idea while listening to Fear the Boot, and downloaded MediaWiki - which is the open source platform wikipedia is built on - and put it on a subdomain on this site for my personal use.  It is now my game note repository.  Since it's online, I can work on it from anywhere, and it's topical, internally-linked nature makes organizing things intuitive and effortless.  It is the best method I've come across so far, and I'm really loving it. 

MiceCon

I'm now kicking around ideas for RuchtCon III coming up in mid/late march.  Due to Hannah, I think I'm only going to be able to participate a little, but I told Rucht I'd run one game, so I'm now gearing up for some Mouse Guard.

The Gears Are Always Turning

Friday November 23, 2012 at 12:42pm gaming Comments (2) »
 island map (in progress)
island map (in progress)

Always

It really doesn't matter how happy I am with the current game I'm running, there are always at least 2 or 3 other campaign ideas swimming around in my head.  It's pretty much a constant state.  

And I am happy with the current game.  Savage Seas continues to be interesting - the group has now found an island that looks both promising in terms of what it might offer, as well as mysterious and dangerous in terms of what seems to be present.

Still, I have a couple of other ideas in mind for things I'd like to do.

Hold That Thought

Scarecrow has been put on the back-burner for now - I just haven't been inspired to run something that dark.  Or maybe Doug's Supernatural-themed game is scratching the modern-horror itch for me.  I am loving that game, the charater I'm playing in it, and the rp interaction around the table.  Rucht's Pathfinder game is also really cool, but the sheer size of the group and the directed-ness of the plot seems to sideline a lot of PC-to-PC interaction and banter.  

For A While Now

There are several games I am *still* wanting to run someday though, and they each surface to my consciousness in turn.  

A Battletech game and a Myst game are pretty much givens at this point.  These are ideas I've wanted to try forever, but, for a variety of reasons, have not yet reached a critical mass of traction to get them off the ground.  

There's also the sequel to the last D&D game I ran with my current group wherein they are intended to created the world their new characters will play in.  I haven't felt a lot of enthusiasm for that yet though.  Maybe the group is just into the current games, or maybe they're a little intimidated by the task.  When we go to actually do it, I may need to guide the process pretty extensively - giving some specific questionaires to the players and synthesizing the setting from there.

Edit: Oh, I forgot one.  Also Mouse Guard.  I've wanted to run a good Mouse Guard campaign for quite a while now, too.  That setting/concept is just awesome.

Two new ideas have entered the mix as well.

Eastern Epics

The first is an asian fantasy game.  I don't think I've ever played in one, and it's always seemed cool.  I picked up the d20 Rokugan campaign setting book at Mr. K's a few weeks back, and it has some interesting ideas in it.  As for how i'd run the game, I've gone back and forth between using Rokugan directly, further developing Japan in my Earth Campaign Setting, and creating a specific setting for the game.  I'm leaning toward the latter, borrowing elements from the first two as well as from japanese history and mythology.

Space Race Re-Imagined

The other game came about as what I thought was an interesting setting idea.  Basically, it is an alternate-history/universe steampunk space exploration game.  If that's difficult to picture, imagine that steampunk happened in the mid to late 19th century, and that the space race began in the early 20th century - powered by steam and the efforts of particular, outstanding individuals instead of governments.  Mixing in a bit of mid 20th century speculation about the nature of the solar system (i.e., before we figured out that the rest of it was actually uninhabitable) for interest.  I think this has a lot of possibility.  I think I'd probably run it in Savage Worlds or using Spirit of the Century.

 

~PS

Reunionating

Tuesday November 13, 2012 at 2:47pm milligan, homecoming, friends, auto repair Comments (0) »
 Hannah at the '02 class reception
Hannah at the '02 class reception

Homecoming 2012

So Milligan's 2012 Homecoming weekend was a few weeks ago.  This also happened to be my 10th-year class reuinion, which seems bizarre.  I think the reason time seems to go so much faster as you get older is because you get insanely busy and your perception slows down to compensate for the barrage of information.  If I had as much boredom/free-time as I did when I was five, I'm sure a year would still seem like forever.  As it is, I think I've caught site of bits and pieces of 2012 as it has flown by at a rate well above any reasonable speed limit.

Homecoming itself was enjoyable.  I got to see some old classmates I have peripheral contact with via the book face, which was cool.  Also, we got to see some really good friends who, unfortunately, live way too far away.  Amber and her family came to stay with us for the weekend, which was a lot of fun.  Hannah had a great time playing with her boys, and they loved her too.  Also, Amber made an awesome doll for Hannah.  We also got to see Ginger again.  We didn't get to spend as much time with her, but it was great to hang out for even a little while.  We did all go out to dinner at Mid City on saturday night, and that rather massive gathering was awesome.

We miss them.

Scheduling Time For Nothing

I met Robb out at the Acoustic Coffeehouse last night for no particular reason - which is to say, just to hang out and talk about whatever was on our minds.  Ironically, a good chunk of what was on our minds was the fact that we don't get together to just hang out very often.  Yeah, it's a little mobius.  We decided we may have reached a point where being social requires a little more forethought, and some of us aren't exactly "planners".

Keeping It Going

Last weekend I changed the oil in the jeep (and the car).  Thrilling, I know, but I'm proud of me.  My parents were also in town a couple weeks ago, and my dad helped me fix the power steering fluid leak I've been tolerating for a while now.  So the Jeep's happy.  And the car...well...it's still going.  It's a bit past retirement age, but, unfortunately, we haven't yet found a likely replacement.

~PS

It's All Fun and Games

Thursday October 11, 2012 at 2:47pm video games, gaming, pirate party, ootscon, ruchtcon Comments (1) »
 Hannah, Doug and Nerf
Hannah, Doug and Nerf

Well, in terms of recent free time anyway.

Up, up and away

So Tony and I finally reached the end of Skyward Sword.  Well, Tony did anyway - I never actually beat "Ganon", but I made it as far as to triumph over "Green-eggs-and-ham" immediately preceding.  The game was solid, though I might have had a little trouble "getting into it".  When you only play for about an hour a week, the experience doesn't gather as much momentum.  On the other hand, it was a lot of fun it go through the game with a friend, and there were definitely some fun times there.

As for how it compares to previous games:  The gameplay is great most of the time, and the motion+ gives it a leg-up on Twilight Princess.  On the other hand, I think the latter's story was more interesting.  Overall, I'd say they're pretty comparable.  Fi was not as entertaining as Midna, however.

Sidenote: upon reaching the end of the game, during part of the dialog, Fi tells you that she needs to 'repeat something she's said many times before'.  Sheri assumed this would be 'Master, the batteries in your wimote are dangerously low'.  I mean, that's mostly what she said to us...

The Classics

Having completed our quest (to a greater or lesser extent), we decided on a new game for Crackle Night: this time, we're playing the old snes game Secret of Mana.  This is one of my all-time favorites and Tony said he'd never played it - an oversight I felt compelled to remedy.  The fact that it's a simultaneous multiplayer game is also a plus, and we're having a lot of fun with it.

Linking

In addition to the crackling, I've been enjoying a couple of PC games recently.  

I mentioned Minecraft before - as of this point, I've built three massive keeps on the first map, but, unable to find much besides snow anywhere reasonably close on that map, I decided to start a new game and go in search of an NPC village.  It took me about 20 minutes to find one, and I am now in the process of building a castle on its outskirts.  Verily, I shall be lord of the land.

Also, I have started playing through Myst IV.  Since I borrowed the game from Chuck about a year ago, I figured I'd better either play it or give it back.  Part of the reason for the delay, however, was getting it to run on my Mac.  The installer it shipped with apparently doesn't play nice with modern versions of Java on OSX, so I had to find a workaround.  After a few hours of attempting, I ended up finding a workable third-party installer that got the job done.  Once installed, the game plays great, and I'm enjoying it as much as I have the previous 3 games.  The addition of an in-game camera/viewer is fantastic.  

As I've been playing this game I have, of course, been reminded of how cool the setting ideas are, and how much I think they could be used to make an awesome tabletop rpg - and i've put some more thought into that.

A Sea of Possibilities

My Savage Seas game is continuing to go well.  I'm really liking the Savage Worlds system, and the nautical theme is turning out to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  I was also (unexpectedly) given a metric ton of ships from the old Pirates papercraft tabletop game (now out of print) to use for ship miniatures.  That will be fun.

I'm still kicking around a few ideas in terms of where I'd like this game to go in a narrative sense.  I intentionally left it pretty open-ended at the start (to see what the players would do), but we're a few games in now, and I'm getting some ideas on how i can integrate facets of the setting as sources of conflict - I'm just not 100% sure which I'm going to include or emphasize, or exactly how.

Nerf, Matey

Talk Like A Pirate day was the 19th of last month, and we had our annual TLAP Party at Robb & Edie's place - complete with the obligatory nerf war.  It was good to hang out with some friends again - seems like we don't do that enough these days.  Hannah had a good time playing with the darts and the "pirate treasure", too, and I also managed to get a few good pictures.

Pros and Cons

With respect to "OotsCon", the "locals" have had a couple of meetings, and we've decided we need to get a little more serious about this thing if we're to retain our sanity.  Next year's event may well be different on a number of levels - but still tons of fun.

First talks about Ruchtcon III have been happening, too.  March of next year.  Looks like the attendee list is expanding a bit, too - which is cool.  Those are always fun.  I assume I'll be running something(s), but I haven't given it much thought as of yet.

~PS

Of Epic Proportions

Monday August 6, 2012 at 2:54pm gaming, basement, flood, space, mars Comments (0) »
 First image from the Curiosity on the surface of Mars.
First image from the Curiosity on the surface of Mars.

The End Of A Saga

As of yesterday, Patrick's epic Star Wars (Saga ed.) game has come to its conclusion.  For those of you following along at home, I joined this game in May 2009, and it had been underway for a few months prior.  So, 3+ years in that campaign.  I don't think I've ever been in a game that's lasted that long.  In some ways, it feels extremely weird that it's over.

Patrick did a good job running the game, too.  The vast majority of the time, it was a ton of fun - and that's saying something.  Any gamer knows that it's hard to run or play in an RPG and keep it from bogging itself down in whatever minutia might be encountered - especially over such a long period of time.  I think this game did pretty well on that score.

I enjoyed my character in that game quite a bit, and he had a nice arc to his development which is something that doesn't always happen with my PCs.  He really changed a lot as a person as the game progressed.

I generally don't go in for "power fantasies" in RPGs, even so, I'm not sure I've ever been as awesome in those terms in an RPG before - including epic-level D&D games.  I haven't played too many high-level games, but this didn't necessarily have to do with ridiculously high abilities (though those were certainly present).  I actually wasn't (I don't think) the most powerful PC in the game on paper, and the Big Bad was numerically better than me at everything I was good at.  I wasn't doing the most damage in combat, nor did I have the best skills or "combos" or whatever.  It was more that my character had an exceptionally strong presence in the game by the end, and some really cool thematic elements and abilities that really sold it.  I really got to play the Jedi Master (what I thought was) true-to-form at the very end, and that was pretty awesome.

Noah, I May Need To Borrow Your Ark

On the way home from Patrick's finale last night, Tony & I had to take a couple of detours around downtown JC.  Seems by later that evening, most of it was under a couple feet of water.  Our house does sit at a higher elevation than elsewhere in town, and our road was basically unaffected...   ...but, alas, we did not escape the rain's wrath.

Although, in our case, I think it was at least partly our fault.  The gutters aren't in the best shape in terms of "clear", and the drain at the back stairwell was covered by a respectable layer of leaves (which seem to end up there despite the best efforts of an antiquated stairwell screen/cover).

So, when Sheri went down to check on some laundry before bed last night, she was, I would say, "surprised" to encounter approximately 1-2 inches of water covering the basement floor.

Have you ever vacuumed 2 inches of water out of an 1100 sq ft basement one 10-gallon-shop-vac-full at a time?

I have.

By the time I was heading upstairs about couple hours later, the basement was still very "wet", but nearly all of that which could be called "standing water" had been convinced to exit the premises.

Also, I may need some new shoes.

I Was Just Curious

So at around 1:30am, after having spent more of the night than I'd have liked conscious and working basement damage control, I sat down at my computer for a few minutes - just to unwind a bit before bed.  I noticed on the bookface that Jerry had posted a link on the Curiosity rover, saying it was scheduled to land in about 7 minutes.  Text beneath his post read "posted 6 minutes ago".  That was some timing.

I popped over to NASA.gov in time to see the last couple minutes of descent being monitored by the ladies & gents at NASA, the resultant cheers when the rover successfully touched down after its wildly outlandish descent scheme was successful, and the first image sent back to earth from its camera - a shot of rocky ground, one of the rover's wheels and a distant, glowing marsian horizon arched by the barrel distortion of the wide lens (see photo) - all pretty much as it happened.

If there was an upside to being kept up so late with a flooded basement, that was certainly it.

 

~PS

Change of Pace

Monday July 30, 2012 at 9:56pm vacation, family, photography, gaming Comments (0) »
 gentoo penguin at the Indianapolis Zoo
gentoo penguin at the Indianapolis Zoo

Vacation '12

It's been a little while since we've had an actual "vacation".  I mean, where we do "vacation"-y things.  This year, we did.

For one, we got to go to the Indy Zoo.  Sheri has been saying she wanted to go to a zoo for about...7 years?   I took a lot of cool photos, which was a lot of fun.  Also, it made me wish I had more money to spend on camera gear.

We also went out on my parents' boat and did a little water skiing.  I no longer shame my ancestors with my loss of water skiing ability.  I'm not as steady as I once was, sure, but at least I got up this time.  Last time I tried, I couldn't even manage that (to be fair, however, i'd gotten in at 3am the morning before...maybe I was just tired).  It was cool to get to go out on the lake with Justin again, too - and his boys were...amusing.

Sheri and I also got to go out for our Anniversary, which was tuesday.  Kinda hard to believe it's been 8 years. :)  Mom & Dad watched Hannah for us, and we went out to dinner and a movie.  Also, "Brave" is pretty good.

Zoo Photos

As I mentioned before, I took a few hundred photos at the Indy Zoo.  I did have a little hiccup with the ISO setting, but its effect turned out to be minimal.  Taking pictures through some of the glass was somewhat challenging, but not too bad.  The fences were worse.  I did get a basic circular polarizing filter for my 50mm prime, which did seem to help a little with some of the reflections, and it does give a nice contrast boost to portrait-type shots in general.  Like small children, animals are fun to photograph - they do interesting things, and they don't really care if you're taking their picture.  I got quite a few good shots, which I've put up on facebook.  I'm sure a couple will make it into this year's "portfolio".

False Start

I mentioned before about starting a World of Darkness game, Scarecrow.  Well...  ...yeah.  I actually have extremely high hopes for that game, but I'm just not sure now is the right time.  I'm having trouble with inspiration for it, and, as a GM, I just don't seem to be in the mood for something quite so dark.  I tried forcing it through for a while, but I wasn't getting over the 'hump' - and if I'm not excited about it, it's going to be pretty mediocre.  I'm not ok with that.  I have higher expectations for this game.  My players are generally great about giving me energy and inspiration, but they don't tend to get really excited about a game until one or two sessions in.  

I'm not sure I've ever done this before, but I have talked to the others and we've decided to postpone this game for a bit.  But seriously, I am going to run that game at some point, and it will be awesome.  I've actually got quite a bit of setting written for it already, and several plot ideas.

But for now, we're going to do something else...

Buckle Your Swash

Since I'm wanting to run something a little more "light" and "adventurous" than WoD, and I've wanted to do a maritime campaign for a long time, I think this is the direction I'm going to push for next.  Also, I've been wanting to do something with the Savage Worlds rules set, and this seems to be a perfect candidate for it.  

I'm planning to pitch a swashbuckling-style sea adventure to the group.  It'll be set in a world similar to 17th-19th century earth (with a few fantastic elements) and the PCs will be part of an expedition sailing out into unknown waters.  I expect it to be a lot of fun.

~PS

OotsCon VI, Little Fears v1.5 and Gaming Notes

Wednesday July 4, 2012 at 5:25pm ootscon, photography, gaming, social media Comments (0) »
 group shot at the Greenwood Challenge Course
group shot at the Greenwood Challenge Course

So, the 6th Annual Southeast Trogland Giant in the Playground Meetup was awesome.  Really awesome.  Thanks to Steven for the group photo here.

Meet The Press

The last couple of years my own photography has been scaled back to only the "main event" at the ropes course - those pics turned out great as usual.  Actually shot quite a bit on full manual - using my 50mm prime at 1/200 or 1/250 and f2.8.  This year I also supplemented that documentation with some Twitter/Instagram posts as a bit of an almost-play-by-play of the weekends events.  That was fun.  Probably the only real "use" i've had for Twitter thus far.

Over Capacity

We had a ton of people at our house on sunday.  Traditionally, we have had the sunday afternoon meetup-winddown at The Igloo (which is, in fact, an all-ages venue) - but many people head back to their home states/countries before noon.  This time, I think everyone stayed for this.  The count, at one point, I think was 33 people in our 1100 sq. ft. house (that doesn't have a what could be described as an "open plan").  This may not be the high water mark.  It was fun, but I think we were a bit overcrowded.  This is one of two or three reasons we're looking into non-residential facilities for more parts of the meetup - possibly conference rooms at local hotels or somesuch, if it could be arranged.

Little Fears: The Awesome

This year we had several pre-planned gaming events - and I kind of kicked off that idea by offering to run Little Fears for some people who had thought it sounded interesting last year.  By the time "sign ups" were concluded, I had 11 or 12 people who wanted to play.  The sessions I ran were completely awesome.  So many memorable moments and great in-character dialog.  I think my revised mechanics ("v1.5") worked very well, and even the character creation seemed to be pretty balanced.  Also, the "creepy" level was just about perfect - a creepy/horror game is a difficult thing to pull off.  The second session was especially successful.  Not that the first or third sessions were bad (they were really great, in fact), it's more that the second session in particular was more of a perfect storm.  It was probably one of the best sessions I've ever run.  All of the players in all of the sessions really got into it, and they played into the atmosphere and their characters perfectly.  They really made the games work.  They were awesome and I'm glad to have had the chance to run games for them.  Most gratifying, most of them even told me in so many words that they loved the games - and that is what I enjoy the most out of GMing: watching my players have a great time.

Like I mentioned before, I've been into some tangible bits for games. I got several comments on the character cards and handouts I made for this game, and I thought using crayons for them to write their names and also as their bennies/chips in the game was a nice touch as well (if i do say so myself).  Also, I liked using tokens for injury and fear in this game.  Overall, the mechanics had some pretty great physical representations.  

Game Notes

On a quasi-related note, I've been discovering recently that I don't use game notes for much anymore.  I tend to write things down in my planning as an exercise such that I don't forget the key points and have a general impression of the specifics, but I really don't use the notes I write during the session.  The basic exception to this rule is to look up a name for a tertiary NPC.  Other than that, I go off of my memory and what the PCs are doing.  This wasn't always the case - I used to rely on my notes pretty heavily, but I think as I've gotten more animated and descriptive as a GM, I've started doing more of that flavor stuff (which is the fun) just off the top of my head (which is rooted in my understanding of the setting).  I think my games are better that way, really - for the same kinds of reasons that I don't like to roll dice as the GM: I don't have to stop the flow of the action and description to reference something external to the "story" as it is unfolding.

Coming Up

Getting ready to start a new game with my local group on saturday.  I think we're going to do an urban fantasy game using the World of Darkness rules.

 

~PS

The Ghosts of Games Past, Present and Future

Thursday June 7, 2012 at 11:14pm gaming Comments (0) »
The Ghosts of Games Past, Present and Future Image

I've been working a bit on the Little Fears game I'm going to be running for the playgrounders at our annual meetup at the end June.  This is a little teaser I posted up on the forum for those signed up to play.

The rules set I'll be using for it is an unofficial "version 1.5" I've blogged about before.  I've made a couple more tweaks to the system, but it's essentially the original game with a bit of a facelift.

I ran a session of Bot v0.2 for our sunday group last weekend.  I'd never run a game for that group before, so that was a new experience.  That went ok, but since the game is a homebrew I've only run a couple of times before, we were (I was) a little foggy on some of the rules - which made parts of it a little awkward.  I think it was a mostly fun session though.  They agreed to play it again this weekend, so I've got some more work to do on that.  Hopefully this second half will have a nice kick.  

For this game I had made some cool-looking character cards as well as cards for the various devices, etc.  Also, we use counters to keep track of certain, expendable/replenishing resources.  I'm finding that I enjoy adding interesting visual elements to games.  Not so much props or pictures of stuff, but taking a little extra time to make character sheets that have a certain, thematic look to them - or interesting bits of fluff or info like the camp letter.  I think it really adds something to the feel of the game, even being as "meta" in nature as it is.

My Star Wars game, Shards of Endor, was brought to a mostly-successful conclusion a couple of weeks ago.  The last session was, overall, interesting and engaging, but I/we think it might have started to run out of steam at the end.  I'm starting to think we start to run out of energy after about 9pm.  I haven't found a vehicle combat system I've liked, so I tried something a little more narrative for the final starfight.  I think it partially worked, but I'm not completely happy with how it played out - at least it terms of climax.  I think the game ended in a logical, "realistic" fashion - but it wasn't necessarily a 10 on "exciting".  The game is meant to be continued at some point though, and I deliberately left some open hooks in each of the PCs stories.  It will be fun to pick up again after a while.  I think next we're going to try a World of Darkness game - with my own spin, as usual.  Also, I'm planning to make it pretty sandboxy, with lots of different opportunities for the players to pursue.

I found a copy of Spirit of the Century at Mr. K's the other day.  That was unexpected and cool.  I think Tony and Adam would really enjoy that game in particular, and I know I really loved the session I played at Thanksgaming a couple of years ago.

And I still want to run Mouse Guard for a group someday.

 

~PS

Missing the Point

Wednesday May 23, 2012 at 1:18pm grammar, facebook, chain posting Comments (0) »

I'm not a Grammar Nazi.  Really.

I say "Me and Sheri" instead of "Sheri and I".  I spell things incorrectly.  I like sentence fragments. I misplace commas.  Passive voice is acceptable.  I occasionally use "their" as a singular possessive.  I don't generally get onto people for ending sentences with prepositons.  I'm ok with made-up words, false words and bad contractions ("ain't").  I am usually far more concerned with the effectiveness of the communication than whether the communication was somehow objectively correct.

But, seriously, misused homophones annoy the crap out of me.  I'm talking about Your/You're and its brethren.  I think it's because this is so basic.  This isn't even sentence construction, it's simple word choice.  I think I'm going to mentally substitude "wombat" for the offending word whenever I see this sort of thing.  Maybe that'll make it less irritating.

Really though, I think a large part of the irritation is due to the fact that I have a conditioned association between these errors and the emergent abbreviated text-speak that pervades our digital written media (u no wut i men?).  It seems to that said abbreviations are actually influencing the collective understanding of the English language.  I forsee a time when people will no longer know how to spell "you" and what is "correct" is constrained by character count.

There is a bit of a philosophical tangent here to the tune of "is this really a problem?".  One can argue that language is an ever-evolving construct, morphing over time in response to how it is most commonly used.  Bascially, however a languange can be effectively used is a "correct" implementation.

Yeah, ok.  I suppose theirs there's some truth to that.  Still, when commonly(?)-understood rules and definitions are bent to too far, communication is effected affected.  Sure, context clues can imply what you meant, but your you're putting cracks in the solidity of you're your message.  Also, quite often, the context is not as clear as the speaker may assume.

Also, I think there's something to be said for a certain eloquence.  A well-spoken oration or a well-written assertion has more impact than a poorly constructed phrasing that communicates the same idea (assuming it truly does so).

 

And this brings me to what started this whole train of thought: Facebook.

Yeah, I'm sure that's not surprising, but bear with me.  As you know, the BookFace is a bottomless well of examples of poor human expression on a number of levels, but this discourse is only concerned with the phenomenon known as "chain posting".

It should probably be noted that I don't re/chain post.  Ever.  I don't care how good your "cause" is or how important you think it is to "spread the word", I just don't do it.  There are a few reasons for this.  Mostly because I see it as a pointless exercise in psuedo-solidarity, but secondary reasons are that I view it as spam-like and that if I *never* do it, I can claim a sort of universal immunity, thereby hopefully avoiding the eventuality of making people mad when I decided not to post their messages but did post others.

But my favorite is coercion.  "If you don't repost this..." kinds of implications.  You're a bad person.  You don't care about dying people.  You don't "support our troops".  You "think you're too cool".  You're selfish.  The terrorists win.  You hate America.

Etc.

I particularly love it when the "implication" is something I don't particularly object to in the first place, but the poster seems to assume everyone reading it would be.  I.e., "If you don't repost this, you're not a real sports fan."  Really?  Well, crap.  I guess that means not a "real sports fan" then.  Bummer.

And, of course, my favorite aspect is when I get multiples of these, each from different perspectives, each vilifying the others.  And if I don't repost all of them, I'm going to hell.  Apparently my choices are to abstain or develop schizophrenia.

 

Now, lets bring this all together - what do you get?  You get a series of poorly worded, grammatically compromised, coercive chain posts each accusing me of being a terrible person because I'm not up in arms about today's vital issue.

Now, I may be missing the point, but even if I completely agree with your cause and I want to engage in the proselytization thereof and I could get past the coerciveness and I was enough of a jerk to want to attempt to coerce all of my friends into reposting this critically important Facebook status, I STILL wouldn't repost your message because I can't just get past the 5 grammatical errors in the original post.  And here I go back to my comment on eloquence - if you're going to make a point, make it well.  You're giving me the impression that this "universal truth" was put together by a 3rd-grader in 15 minutes.  I'm sorry, I just can't take you seriously.

 

~PS

Return of the Linux

Saturday May 12, 2012 at 10:00am computers, work, linux Comments (2) »
Return of the Linux Image

A few weeks back I was having some trouble with my work computer's windows install.  (And, oh hey, I've been at this job over a year now.  I think they like me. :))  As luck would have it, I also had a machine in my "custody" that was no longer needed.  

I swiped the harddrive from it, stuck it in my machine, and installed Linux Mint 12 KDE on it.  Now, it had been a while since I've used Linux as a primary machine (about 6 years now, actually), so some things are...different.  

I'm not sure what I think about KDE 4/Plasma.  The cashew thing is a little annoying, but maybe I just don't understand how to use it (which is to say, I don't).  Also, current support for ati + dual-head is terrible.  Xinerama (which i understand is deprecated) won't play nice with desktop effects modules (xcomposite & xdamage...or randr), but I can't get both displays recognized as one unified desktop without using it (even though I think that's theoretically possible).  I mess with it at lunch occasionally (edit: figured this out - requires downloading ati driver w/ catalyst control from ati, running aticonfig --initial -f, disabling xrandr in xorg.conf (can be done with aticonfig), restarting and running amdcccle to use catalyst to set up monitor configuration).  Since I seem to be pointing out the "bad" things first, I also haven't been able to get Likewise Open to let my PC join the AD domain.  I keep getting an "OU format is invalid" error.  What's weird is that the connection attempt actually does add the machine to AD in the correct OU - it just won't establish/use the connection.  I also wish there was a mail client that would play nicer with Exchange 2007 (actually, I wish we weren't *using* SBS & Exchange, but hey).

On the upside, however, I've discovered a few cool things linux now (or things that are easier).  Support for RDP is good.  Samba sharing is less of a headache.  USB plug-&-play support is more reliable (at least with external storage, etc).  I've also discovered Sun's Virtual Box is pretty awesome for virtualization.  One of my biggest grievances with The Gimp has always been the fact that it doesn't have photoshop-like layer manipulation & effects...   ...but I've now found this plugin which mostly solves that problem (and, in some ways, is better than the photoshop equivalent).  There's even an open source xen manager.

Despite some minor issues and limitations (as mentioned), I really like being on linux again.  It's nice to be able to have more direct control over what my machine is doing.  Multiple desktops are extremely useful.  The ability to easily find a program to do almost anything for free is awesome.  And, even on our sbs network, there's nothing I could do on my windows machine I cannot do on this linux platform (some things are harder, some things are actually easier).

~PS

One Year & the Present

Saturday May 12, 2012 at 9:00am family, recording, gaming, photography Comments (0) »
One Year & the Present Image

Well, Hannah's almost a year old.  Sheri's been planning a little for her birthday party - I think we're going to have a cookout with some family and a few friends.  Turns out quite a few people are going to be out of town next weekend.

I've been doing some more with recording on the rare opportunities I get.  I think I've discovered that I get better sound and less noise by using the condenser to mic my amp than by using my amplifier emulator AUs.  This might be unsurprising.  The problem is, in order to do this, my amp has to be cranked pretty loud...   ...loud enough that I don't really want hannah in the room with me, and when Sheri's home, she's not so much a fan.  Maybe if I clean out the recording closet again...

My Star Wars game, Shards of Endor, is reaching it's finale.  Tonight's session may or may not be the last game.  (honestly, I kind of figure it'll go one more, but we'll see...).  It's been fun, and I think it's been a good length.  I'm still really enjoying it, but I think I'm just about ready for something else.

Also, I've been doing some slow and unsteady planning for the Little Fears (1.5) game I'm going to be running for some Playgrounders come the end of June.  I've been doing a lot of concept/theme/atmosphere setup in my head for this one.  I hope it comes off as well...

Also, Crackles.

Mom came down for a visit last week - to see Hannah, of course.  That was cool.  Amongst the general hanging out, we went out to Sycamore Shoals, where I did some photo shooting for the first time in a while.  That is always fun.  Seems like I don't have as much time for some of these hobbies anymore.  Guess that's due to the Rosebug.

And, apart from having been a little sick and that I'm not looking forward to tackling the yard after I'm done posting this, I think things are pretty good.

~PS

Kites, Pacing and Aspiration-to-Action

Tuesday April 10, 2012 at 2:40pm holidays, friends, photography, gaming, music Comments (0) »
Kites, Pacing and Aspiration-to-Action Image

So Sheri has this tradition of trying to fly kites on Easter sunday.  The last couple of years, it's actually worked pretty well.  Winged Deer park seems to be a good place for it.  Tony & Adam also joined us this year - I thought that was pretty cool.  We have good friends.  I think it was quite an enjoyable time - I got some good pics, too.  Some of my favorites were done with some intentional lens-flare.  There's something cozy and nostalgic about that look.  I'm not sure what it is.

Shards of Endor continued last weekend as well.  This particular session was a little unusual as the group was split for its entirety (which may be a first) and both parties were in rather tense situations - one attempting to sabotage Imperial resources, and the others discovering a particular bounty hunter was still on their trail.  The session played out in two halves as opposed to staggering events in a quasi-simultaneous fashion, but I think that was probably for the best in this circumstance - and I didn't get the impression I was losing people on either side.  The last few sessions have been interesting for me as the GM in general - I think I'm learning a bit of what works and what doesn't with this group as it relates to the kind of game I'm trying to run.  I'm starting to think that, with Star Wars, it's a good idea to keep the action moving.  That seems to work best for this particular genre.  As it's turning out though, I may be contrasting that next game with something a bit more brooding - so we may see how versatile our group can be.

I spent some time sunday night talking with a friend of mine about his musical ambitions.  I may be doing some stuff with him to help him further this goal.  We're at pretty different places with respect to how we view our musical pursuits - and what we'd ultimately like to do with them - but i always like to see a fellow creative actually doing something.  He's talked about it for a long time - and I know he's put a lot of thought into it - but it's good to see that over the last year or so, he's really starting to move forward.  I find that motivating myself.

~PS

Sour Apples

Thursday April 5, 2012 at 3:23pm mac, malware, musings Comments (5) »
Sour Apples Image

As of a few days ago, a new iteration of an OSX trojan called Flashback emerged, and has apparently had much more success than previous attempts at infecting machines.  The most recent numbers I've read indicate ~600k, in fact.  My own machines were thankfully immune, owing to some specific applications I have installed that cause the trojan to opt to delete itself (rather than be discovered or stifled, presumably).  This version takes advantage of a Java hole, which Apple has now patched.  Other/previous versions pose as a Flash player installer.  (As an aside, if you're a Mac user, I recommend running Software Update to get the patch if you haven't already.  Also, see "the bottom line".)

Here is what I think is funny: the Mac-bashing that inevitably comes with this sort of thing.  Quips along the lines of "oh, you thought you were so cool and couldn't get viruses and stuff - not so tough now, are ya!?".

The reason this is amusing is that it comes off as desperate.  It kind of feels like the last-place team cheering when the first-place team finally loses a game.  I'm sure it's great, just don't look at the scoreboard.

When a new Windows virus/trojan/worm appears, I have heard (and have probably been) the occasional Mac (or linux) user intimating that they don't have to worry about it by virtue of their platform.  Yeah, it can be a bit of gloating, but it seems to lack the fervor or bitterness that this inverse possesses.  Also, at least from my point of view, any comment about Mac/Linux immunity in those cases is meant to be an argument for why a person should consider switching platforms.  I don't get that from these comments.  I don't think they're trying to get Mac users to switch (back) to Windows, they seem just to want to point out the flaws.  Spec in your brother's eye, and all that.

My "Windows Hate" has decreased a bit over the years.  Maybe that's because Windows has also improved "a bit" over the years.  I still don't like it, but that's mostly because it just seems to bog itself down after a while.  At least as far as XP.  I don't have as much experience with Windows 7.  I'm not going to talk about Vista.

Windows has its place.  Personally, I think that place is as a gaming rig or a machine for certain 3rd party applications a person might find essential that are Windows-only.  For more common uses (web, email, desktop office apps, etc) - or basically anything else - I'd always go with OSX or some flavor of Linux.  Of course, some people just want something cheap(ish), well-known and off-the-shelf - and I guess Windows fills that niche as well.  

(To tangent further, there is also something to the idea that, in our modern era of gizmos, more and more people don't really *need* an actual computer. If all you do is email/web/social media/etc type stuff, you're probably better suited to something like a tablet or even a smartphone.)

Also, I think Windows is kind of ugly, but that's just personal taste.  And probably an acquired one.

On the other side of that coin, I'd mention that, while I love my Macs, I'm not all that fond of Apple as a company, and I tend to be annoyed by the militant Apple/Mac fanboys of the world.  Yes, it's a spiffy product.  Calm down.  And stop acting cliquish and superior.  You're being a jerk.

Anyway, back to the malware topic.  

I'm pretty sure Apple has never claimed OSX is malware free.  They've said that Macs are immune to Windows malware, yes.  That's a bit of an obvious truth.  Microsoft could just as easily claim that their Windows systems are immune to Mac malware.  It's just that, in our world, that's significantly less impressive.  

They've probably also mentioned that OSX has built-in malware protection.  I'm honestly not sure how good it is, but I can say I've never had a problem.  They may point out that your likelihood of encountering malware is much lower on a Mac - which is still true, though it's clearly becoming less so.  Sadly, the erroneous idea that Macs are immune to malware probably comes from over-zealous Mac users who anecdotally have noticed that they never get the viruses and worms plaguing their Windows-using friends.  About the most you could say is that Apple has allowed people to believe they are safer than they actually are.

The bottom line is "pay attention".  You are quite literally your own worst enemy: a lot of malware that's out there for any platform is driven by social engineering - by tricking unsuspecting users into opening the door.  Don't just click 'ok'.  Even if it's never happened to you.  Even if you're behind a firewall.  Even if you have an antivirus program.  Even if you're on a Mac.  You may think these things are protecting you, but really, they're not - at least not completely.  You are not invulnerable.

~PS

Life of Late

Wednesday April 4, 2012 at 6:43pm family, video games, gaming, recording Comments (2) »
Life of Late Image

A brief glance at my calendar has reminded me that March was pretty uneventful, at least in any exciting way.  

Sadly, about the most noteworthy happening in the month was my grandma's funeral.  She'd been slowly fading for some years, so I suppose it was just "time".  In a certain sense, I think we "lost" her some time ago, but there is something in the finality of the physical passing that gives one pause for this sort of reflection.  It was good to see everyone though - I don't think I can recall the last time I got to spend time with that many relatives all at once.  I do wish we could have stayed a bit longer.

In other, less serious news:

"Crackle Night" is well established at this point as tuesday evening's passtime, so that's been fun.  I have also procured Ginger's copy of Windwaker from Patrick.  Also fun.

"Shards of Endor" continues in a somewhat sporadic fashion, but has been a lot of fun.  I've been kicking around ideas for subsequent games.

I've been giving some thought to further music projects.  Since I haven't come up with much in terms of new compositions lately, I'm considering returning to some of the stuff I've already recorded and laying it down again - now having considerably more experience under my belt.

Also, included for your enjoyment, a picture of Hannah at 10 months.  (Also, also: as of this version of the site, pics posted to the blog have thumbnails as well as a larger web image - click it for higher-res cuteness.)

~PS

Penguinsushi v10

Saturday March 31, 2012 at 1:40pm web development, website, music, recording Comments (0) »

Well, here we are.  Version 10.  In the last 7 years, there have been 10 iterations of this site, each constituting a complete rebuild and incorporating new things I've learned about web design & development.

As far as design goes, I was going for something cleaner, simpler and more elegant than the previous design (which was a bit more graphic rich and stylized).  In terms of architecture, this is the first version that's actually built on an MVC platform.  The specific framework is one of my own creation, loosely based on CodeIgniter.  I'm really liking it.

This new site has some new features as well.  Commenting ability has been expanded.  (Re)added a site search feature (accessible from the footer).  Games, Galleries and Albums are more official entities.  More images in sections.  General polish has been applied.

The music page has returned with an actual player.  I'm not really happy with most of what's up there as of now, but I figured I'd put it up for good measure.  Or mostly because the previous version of the site had nothing on the music page at all.  I do have plans for future recording - when I have the opportunity to do much with it.

~PS

Things Have Been

Monday February 27, 2012 at 10:49pm recording, work, friends, ootscon Comments (0) »
Things Have Been Image

Well, Feb. is almost at an end, sadly.  As usual, I had had hopes for doing something with RPM again this year since I actually have my own gear now, but it has turned out not to be.  I've had too many other things pulling me in different directions.  I think i've basically reached the conclusion that now isn't a good time in my life for a hobby project with those kinds of time constraints.  I actually struggle more than I used to just to get a rp session planned.

That's not to say I haven't been doing a lot with music & recording stuff - i have.  I'm really enjoying my new setup like I said before.  I just haven't been able to spend 4 hours a day with it.  It's more like 4 hours a week - and that's if I really try.

Earlier this month I also went on my first-ever "business trip" (it's like I'm all grown up or something) down to a web design conference in Orlando.  I didn't learn anything earth-shattering, but it did point me in some new directions and shift my focus a bit.  Overall worthwhile.

Also, Sushi day has come and gone.  The site is 7 years old now.  On a similar note, if some hypothesize that a new version of the site might be forthcoming, they wouldn't be completely wrong.

Hannah is 9 months now - and still super cute.  Tony and I have been enjoying some Zelda.  Talk has begun about the 6th OotsCon meetup this summer. 

Things have been.

~PS

Letting It Play

Thursday January 12, 2012 at 2:44pm music, recording, songwriting Comments (0) »
Letting It Play Image

Uhm....happy new year?

Holidays were great.  It was great to see family & friends we hadn't seen in ages.

Pictured to the right is one of the more exciting gifts I received this last season.  I think I'm all ready to go now: I've got the mic running through the mixer I got earlier last year, I've bought new strings for my guitars and I've done sound checks and level setting for almost everything.  I am ready to make the "best record ever".  I'm just lacking one thing: A little inspiration.

Ironic, isn't it?  I've been trying to write some new stuff for some time, I just haven't been satisfied with much of anything I've come up with.  I've got some great ideas, I'm just not thrilled with the manifestations.

It used to be that I'd sit down with a guitar and fiddle around till I came up with an interesting progression or melody to set some lyrics to.  Any more, however, it's harder and harder to come up with anything that I find interesting enough to pursue for more than 15 minutes.

I'm starting to think that a guitar itself is no longer sufficient - i need to hear (out loud or just in my head) other instruments and how they might compliment my efforts.  

Also, I think I'm getting harder to please.

I've been spending some time mic'ing stuff up and playing guitar(s) through the system to hear what it sounds like, occasionally layering a couple of tracks - and I'm generally more satisfied with what I'm getting that way, though not much has clicked quite yet.  

Trying to tackle this hobby from a different angle like this is a bit of a new exercise for me, and not exactly a simple one.  I've come close to something cool a few times, but I haven't jumped in quite yet.

Also, I think I need carve out some larger chunks of time for a project like this - something I've not been able to do as yet.  So I guess I'm lacking two things.

~PS

Little Fears v1.5 [unofficial]

Wednesday November 30, 2011 at 6:38pm gaming, little fears Comments (0) »
Little Fears v1.5 [unofficial] Image

Another project I've been working on:

I really like Jason Blair's original Little Fears - The Roleplaying Game of Childhood Terror.  A lot.  The system is simple and elegant, the concepts are fascinating, and it's a lot of fun to play.  I have every intention of playing this game some more with a group in the future.

That said, after running it a few times, there are some ways I think the game could be improved.  It could be a little clearer on exactly how some the mechanics are intended to be used and how certain, common situations should be addressed.  I also think there is some room for mechanical expansion without making it significantly more complex as well - particularly when it comes to the mechanical expressions behind the central themes of the game: childhood Belief/Innocence and Fear.

I haven't had a chance to pick up the newest incarnation of the game, Nightmare Edition.  It looks interesting, but from what I've seen and read, there were some things I liked about the original a little more.  I got to thinking that what I wanted might just be some tweaks to what was already there.

Also, I have some new theme and setting flavors I'd like to do more with.  Kind of a new lens with which to examine some of the ideas presented.

To this end, I'm currently in the process of putting together a J-classed "revised" version of the original game - kind of a set of house rules and system mods.  I won't be pubicly distributing this for legal reasons, but those of you who read this blog and may be playing in such a game in the future might be interested to know what I've been up to.

Also, here's the Little Fears website.  You can read a bit about what they've been working on and check out some of the new stuff - it does look pretty cool.

~PS

Game Setting

Wednesday November 30, 2011 at 6:22pm gaming Comments (0) »

I have previously mentioned Shards of Endor, the title I've given to the Star Wars game I started running last month.  We've had three sessions now, and I think it's going very well.  As a gm, part of this game is an exercise in pacing.  I'm shooting for this game lasting 10 sessions.   This means I'm planning for 7 and I'm expecting 13-15.  The one constant of my games over the years is that my players always take longer to do things than I think they will.  It's  better than the reverse problem, I suppose.

In planning and running this game, I have come to recognize something about myself and my gm'ing style - and actually my enjoyment of fiction in general: I am all about the setting. 

When I'm coming up with a game, I focus most of my energy on creating a realistic world inhabited by realistic entities and with a reasonably internally-consistent mode of operation.  Only after the world exists on its own do I go back and write in hooks to connect the characters to it.  

The advantage here is that it really gives the impression that the world is bigger than the player characters and that there are many things that exist whether they choose to interact with them or not.  By extension, this means the characters can interact with whatever they choose - they can basically go anywhere and do anything within the greater, persistent setting.

The disadvantage is that sometimes the players aren't terribly clear on how they "should" interact with elements in the world.  The presence of this hesitation basically means I have to start bringing action to them, sometimes more often than is reasonably likely (see also: "trouble follows us wherever we go") - but I suppose this is an accepted trope within fiction as well.

Even so, since knowing is half the battle, I have since been trying to think more carefully about including at least several ways the characters can become involved with any given aspect of the setting which I intend or expect them to.  The more possibilities I have, the more likely they are to pick one up and run with it.  

Of course, as always, I also have to be ready to roll with whatever they decide when they go in a wildly different direction...   ...which brings us back to the advantage of the setting-based plan.

~PS

A Quiet Late Summer

Monday October 3, 2011 at 2:00pm gaming, music, photography Comments (1) »
A Quiet Late Summer Image

Except, you know, for the occasional screaming munchkin.

I guess not much noteworthy has been going on lately.  The blog seems to have slept through september.  Here are a few points of quasi-interest on hobbies, etc:

GAMING

- I have noticed that I am currently involved in a ridiculous number of ongoing rpgs - 4, to be exact - and that my social life mostly centers around them at the moment.  I guess this isn't surprising considering that most of my friends *are* gamers.

- We started our Star Wars game ("Shards of Endor") about a week ago.  This is actually the first time I've run an ongoing campaign *not* set in a swords-and-sorcery style fantasy setting.  We've only had one playing session, but I think it's going quite well so far.

- Robb has (finally) started his Changling game, which I'm having a really good time with.  A really short time, but a good time.  Our monday-night sessions seem to be playing from about 7-9pm, which sometimes feels like quitting right after you get started.  I'm hoping our actual starting time can be pushed back to the theoretical 6 as we go on.  It's also got me thinking a bit about the future of my temporarily-suspended Mage game...

- On our sunday night games: Patrick's Star Wars game continues to be fun.  I've been really enjoying the short Dresden Files game Rucht has been running and I'm hoping to have a chance to do more with the Fate 3.0 system.  We're going to be starting Pathfinder later this month (when Dresden ends) - which will mark the first time I've played in a fantasy campaign in years.

MUSIC

- I've tried to do a little on the songwriting front, but haven't made it much further than jotting down a few vague concepts.  

- I've spent some time fiddling around on my guitars too, but I'm feeling a little uninspired at the moment.

- I've been listening to MCR's Danger Days quite a bit lately - an album I was pretty skeptical about at first, but found that I really enjoyed after a couple of listens.  Also, Anberlin, The Decemberists and the two songs from the end credits of the Portal games having recently played the first to completion ("This was a triumph...").

PHOTOGRAPHY

- Most of my camera time has been spent pointed at Hannah, but that's probably to be expected.  She's 4 months old and exceptionally cute. :D  ...and we've recently learned she'll have some new playmates in a year or so.

- Sheri pointed out that I don't have any 2011 photos on my site here yet - maybe I'll put some up when I have a few minutes together.

- I did take some pictures at the picnic the company I now work for had in mid-september that turned out pretty good.  I think the people at the office have enjoyed them.

- And, of course, I also had fun taking pictures of the 2011 Talk Like A Pirate Party & Annual Nerf War.  Those always turn out...amusing.

 

~PS

The New World

Wednesday August 31, 2011 at 7:21pm gaming Comments (0) »
The New World Image

Last saturday my current (now, "most recent") D&D game came to a close.  This is actually the second game that I've brought to an intended conclusion this year.  I don't know about you all, but I'm considering this an accomplishment.

I've actually found that I'm enjoying the ends of games quite a bit, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that that was once rather alien to my approach.  I think I've decided it's better to bring a game to a strong finish than to let it peter out - even if though that means stopping while you're still enjoying the game.  

The Experiment:

At the conclusion of this particular game however, I had ulterior motives.  At the end of the narrative, I had the world the PCs inhabited come to a cataclysmic end.  I decided to do this partially because I'd never done it before and thought it would be cool, but mostly to set up and give motivation to the players for something I wanted to do in the future: collaborative worldbuilding.  

Upon the death of their world, the characters essentially ascended to godhood and were to be tasked (along with some specific NPCs) with creating a new one - each one being responsible for a particular subset of aspects or facets of said world.

As a group we're going to take a break from D&D for a while to play Star Wars and possibly a short homebrew game, but, when we come back, the next game will be set in the world the group of us are going to create in the interim.

 

The group seemed pretty excited about the project as players, which I find encouraging.  I'll temper my outlook based on how it progresses, of course, but I of course have further plans.  This will not be the last time they'll be asked for something like this...

 

~PS

Recordings Re-Revisited

Sunday July 17, 2011 at 10:56pm music, recording Comments (0) »
Recordings Re-Revisited Image

Like I mentioned before, I've been wanting to do some recording again, but am lacking some of the equipment i still need to open up shop.  So I've been doing the next best thing.

I dug up a few old recordings that I've made over the years, but for whatever reason never finished mixing.  Over the last few weeks, I've started working on them again - employing some new tools and techniques as well.

• Today Was Fine

• No Wonder

• Simple Equations

These aren't especially great songs, but they're ok and I've learned a bit playing with them some more.  I figured I'd post them here, but they're not enough to mark a real return of the Music page.  

I have plans for that, however...

Edit: Something went awry in my exporting process.  I've remastered, exported and re-uploaded these songs. Turns out I'd forgotten to turn off GarageBand's "we assume you don't know what you're doing" feature...

Edit #2: I have remastered these songs yet again. A casual listen probably won't notice much difference, but they are now approaching the production level I'll be shooting for on future projects.

~PS

Rebuilding the Home Studio

Friday June 24, 2011 at 2:38pm music, recording Comments (0) »
Rebuilding the Home Studio Image

Some of you may have noticed that the music page still reads "returning soon".  One might argue that this has proven false.  Still, for the last few months I've been wanting to get back into recording again.  The problem with this is that I've only ever borrowed the equipment I need to do it well, and I don't have access to much at the moment.  I've been wanting to buy some of my own stuff for a while too, but things have been a bit tight lately.

Not that I need real high end stuff, mind you.  I've been quite happy with the results I've managed with quite a meager setup, but after looking around at what I'd buy were I do reconstruct my home studio, I do need a few hundred dollars to put into it - a few hundred dollars which I don't really have at the moment.  Anyone who wants to make donations is welcome.  Really.

Really.

 

Anyway, last weekend was Fathers Day.  My first, since our little girl was born back in May.  Combining this fact with the aforementioned desires, Sheri decided I should go ahead and buy the first "piece" of what I wanted.

After some consideration, I decided the first piece was a mixer - even with nothing else, I could record some guitar & bass tracks.  I've got a decent recording machine, some DAW software I like and instruments to play, but I didn't have any way to connect the dots.  In the past I have bridged this gap by simply running an analog tape-out from a borrowed mixer to the line-in on my computer - and I found this to work well.  I considered looking for a simple USB audio interface instead of a full-out mixer, but I enjoyed my method and I would eventually like to be able to do some multiple-mic'ing on instruments.  Plus, for what I wanted to spend, I was going to get more features out of a mixer.  Also, I like to be able to do some pre-recording eq & gain teaking instead of relying on the software for all of it.

I ended up going with the Behringer's Xenyx X1204USB.  4 mic inputs, 60mm faders and a built-in usb audio interface (which i'm looking forward to trying out).  In addition, this board has a built in compressor and other effects which I really didn't need, but the identical model without effects was actually a few bucks more.  Anyway, I've definitely got some room to grow with it.

 

The only other things I really need are some decent mics.  I've done most of my previous work with a Shure SM58, and that proved to be a good mic - and one that I may return to.  Right now, however, I have my sights on a pair of SM57's - mostly because they are legendarily good at everything, and I need a versatile mic.  I'm also tempted to pick up one of Behringer's condenser mics at some point - mostly because they're exceptionally inexpensive and fairly well reviewed.  A condenser would be pretty awesome, even if I'm not sure I'll ever have a house quiet enough to use one (see previously-mentioned baby girl). 

 

My mixer arrived yesterday but, due to the Meetup (more on this to come), I haven't had a chance to do more than take it out of the box and "oooh" and "aaaah" over it a little.  I'm hoping to have a decent mic setup in time for next year's RPM in Feb.

And some songs written, too.

 

~PS

Coming Home

Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 5:03pm bunguin, family, photography Comments (0) »
Coming Home Image

A quick update for the blog:

As of this afternoon, Sheri & Hannah were released from the hospital, and both seem to be enjoying being at home.  Ally isn't quite sure what to make of the munchkin, but there are other visitors here right now so I'm not sure it really registers as odd yet.

Photos are being posted on my facebook page here - though I have really not begun to post what will be there after a few weeks. :-D

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations, well-wishes and hospital visits.  We can't wait for more of you to meet our little Bunguin.

~PS

Baby Shoe's Arrival

Sunday May 22, 2011 at 11:35am bunguin, family Comments (1) »
Baby Shoe's Arrival Image

Most people who would see this here already know this, but for a little posterity:

Hannah Rose was born on May 21st, 2011 at 4:36am - after quite an arduous day for momma and baby which ultimately required a C-section to complete.  She's healthy (multiple pediatritions have said 'perfect') and beautiful, has a fuzzy head of dark hair and some very, very dark eyes.  I'm actually not sure what color they are, but at the moment they seem to be a very dark gray.  For those of you interested in the "christmas-turkey style" statistics, she was 6lbs, 8oz and 20in on arrival.

She seems to be very alert most of the time, and often tries to wobble her head around to look at anything and everything.  She loves to be held - and doesn't seem to like being put down unless she's too tired to care (mommy is trying to get her to sleep in the bassinet right now, and she's not too happy about it).  She still seems a little foggy on this whole "feeding" thing, but she loves to suck on her fingers (already) and generally feel around her face.  Also, when she gets the hiccups, it's as funny now as it was before she was born.

I haven't had a chance to take tons of pictures yet, but I have a few posted on Facebook.  Still, her "number of photos" to "hours of life" ratio is pretty high.

Can't wait for you all to meet her!

~PS

I Would Walk 500 Miles

Monday May 2, 2011 at 6:38pm hiking Comments (2) »
I Would Walk 500 Miles Image

...well, maybe not quite. Still, I would, in fact, walk, and "miles" would indeed be somehow involved in this ambulation.  I don't think I'll commit to a number just now.

Anyway...

Robb & I took advantage of the nice weather this last weekend to go on a day hike up to Laurel Falls.  It's a nice trail we've hiked a few times - thought I'd personally never been out there in the morning.  The falls looks considerably different in the a.m. as the morning light shines directly on it and the hillside above.

As we were enjoying the woods, our casual conversation jumped around to a great many things, which is one of the many enjoyable aspects of such a trip.  Included therein was a discussion of hiking itself and of longer, more involved trips.  We've decided we'd both like to do some multi-day backpacking hikes again at some point.  I have quite a few fond memories of trips with my dad and other friends into the Smokies and, despite the fact that our busy lives make this difficult, we're hoping to be able to stretch a long weekend - perhaps with one or two other interested parties - to take on such an adventure sometime in the next few years.  It would be pretty awesome.

~PS

The State of the Penguin

The State of the Penguin Image

Edit: New Photo.  The iPhone is nice, but it doesn't quite hold up to what I'm used to...

First off, we're getting close to Sheri's due-date - only about a month to go before the Bunguin's arrival.  We've been trying to get things ready as much as we can, but we don't exactly know what we're doing.  We *have* inherited a wide array of baby-related "stuff" from several friends and acquaintances - for which we are very thankful.  We also went to some child birth & infant care classes at the hospital, which were somewhat helpful and informative.

Second, I finally found a new job with a local company here in JC (I'm actually posting this on my lunch break).  Still doing web-work, though in a rather different context than before.  The position is temporary through June, after which time they'll decide whether to hire me on permanently.  It's good to have something again though.  Less stressful, especially with the munchkin coming.

Since RuchtCon, gaming has returned to its "normal" schedule.  My Sandstorm game has continued to progress nicely, and I'd say the PCs are on their way toward the resolution.  No word yet on how much longer it will go.  I'm developing thoughts on what to propose next.  Still working on several gaming projects.

I've taken a few more photos since I last mentioned it, but nothing amazing.  Still haven't posted a 2011 portfolio, but it'll come.

Other randomness...

The weather here's been warming up as we head into spring, and my yard is already ridiculous.  I've mowed it something like 1.5 times - which is to say the front yard has been mowed at least twice, and I have waged a war with the forest in the backyard which is beginning to look favorable for my side.  I did grill out for the first time this year last sunday afternoon though.

Sheri & I watched something like 30 hours of LotR extras (all the bonus features on the 3 4-disc sets) over the course of the last few weeks.  Some pretty cool stuff in there - I recommend it to any fans.

Finally bought the Red vs. Blue: Recollection and looking forward to watching that with Llama and also listening to the commentaries sometime.  I also heard that Dead Gentlemen is going to be re-releasing The Gamers: Dorkness Rising - this time with commentaries (I actually asked them why the first dvd didn't have them and they told me that they ran out of space on the disc).  That would be cool.

I also picked up a new CD, but I think I'm going to make a more specific music related post soon, so I'll save my comments on that.

Ginger and William are in town even as I'm typing, and we've had a good time with them this week.  Also, Liam is fun - and he likes me. :)

I've continued to kick around some ideas for some writing projects.  I'll defer to voltaire (by way of Dan from Fear the Boot) for how this is progressing: the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Also, I've been having a pipe dream about opening a gaming store in JC - we need one, and that would be a lot of fun...    ...alas...

~PS

RuchtCon II

Sunday March 27, 2011 at 8:01pm ruchtcon, gaming, friends Comments (0) »
RuchtCon II Image

Well, another local gaming mini-con has come and gone.  This makes me a little sad, but it was a great time.

This particular gathering was, from the very outset, plagued with problems and difficulties, but overall I think we triumphed over them.  Overall.

Festivities began on friday night around 7pm with the first set of games.  Casey ran a session of Dark Heresy, Doug ran a zombie game called All Flesh Must Be Eaten, and Rucht was to be running an old school Dungeons & Dragons game - we're talking 1st edition here.  The first to games got started as planned, but Rucht was delayed for a while and so the rest of us played some board games while we waited for him.  When we finally did get started though, it was a lot of fun.

I spent all day Saturday running games.  In the afternoon slot I ran my session of Little Fears, which I think went very well.  Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun and there were definitely some memorable moments.  I think we're going to try to continue the game at some point so that they can finish the story they started.  During this time Doug was running his Thundarr game (using the Cartoon Action Hour system) and Matt was running his game of Eclipse Phase.

On saturday night I ran my Savage 3025 game.  This was basically a Savage Worlds game with a custom add-on for mech combat (which I've talked about here before).  The plot was good (at least, I think so), but we didn't get more than about 1/3 of the way into it - and not far enough for them to have encountered any real twists.  I am also not as familiar as I'd like to be with Savage Worlds (due mostly to lack of experience), so I there were times where I think I struggled with that, but overall I think it was a good game and everyone enjoyed it.  While we were doing that, Rucht was running his Dresden Files game (which I understand was hugely popular) and Doug was doing Call of Cthulhu.

I was slated to run a session of Mana Burn this afternoon, but some of us got to talking and I think everyone was getting pretty tired.  In any case, there didn't seem to be quite enough energy to start the game, so we opted to play a boardgame instead.  I may try to put together a one-shot of that sometime soonish.

Between slots there were also quite a few board games played - Revolution! (which Dave introducted us to), Invasion From Outer Space, Dominion, and others.

It was great to see everyone, and I think everyone had a great time.  I'd give a "special thanks to" list, but I think that would just amount to mentioning everyone.

We did miss those that couldn't make it - it would have been even better with them.  We were also glad to have a few unexpected additions though, so that was cool.

Already looking forward to doing this again...

~PS

Resolution

Thursday March 24, 2011 at 4:35pm gaming Comments (0) »
Resolution Image

So this happened almost a month ago, but I wanted to talk a little about it here before it becomes overshadowed with other stuff.

I've been GMing regularly for about 10 or 11 years.  In that time, I've probably run 20+ different games (campaigns; this doesn't include 1-shots).  Most of these were simply continued until we got burnt out and decided to do something different.  It has been my perception that it's usually me who starts itching for something new before the players are.  As a result, the vast majority of my games tend to peter out as opposed to coming to any kind of conculsion.  Even the ones that I do "conclude" have tended to be mediocre at best - and more like "here's a place where I can bail out" than an actual ending.

I think some of this has to do with the mindset going in - many of my games haven't had an ending in mind when I started them.  I have some initial adventure planned, and then i tend to just let it go where it will from there until eventually it becomes to unweildy and implodes.  These games are always fun, but they don't have much of a satisfying resolution.  Recently, however, I've been starting games with an ending in mind.  I don't necessarily know exactly what that ending will be, but I have an idea of at what point in the narrative things will start wrapping up based on what the players have done to that point.  

My London 1802 game recently came to the conclusion of a story arc (the first "Chapter") in this manner, and while it might not have been perfect, I was quite happy with how it turned out.  I knew going into this game what was going on: a key defense of the city was going to be removed and then they would have to somehow deal with the resultant "bad stuff".  I didn't know from the beginning exactly what defense was to be removed, what the "bad stuff" might be or how the party might address the problems (which might be part of the "analysis paralysis" problems that were occasionally experienced), but I knew generally where the story was going and was prepared to roll with their ideas and actions to unfold the undefined narrative in a defined direction

I've also been planning these games with a shorter time-frame in mind.  The London game was originally intended to take 8-12 sessions.  The last session was #17 - and that's the point: it will always take longer than you think it will (at least if your style is anything like mine).  If you've got some epic quest planned that is intended to take the players a year's worth of sessions to complete, it will probably actually require close to two years (unless you're railroading like nobody's business) - and one game usually doesn't hold my attention solid for that long.

My remaining game, Sandstorm, was also conceived with an ending in mind, and the players have been moving inexorably toward it since the beginning.  That game, too, was intended to last 8-12 sessions and they've just completed #14 (I still need to write highlights for the last two, actually) - but in this case some things have happened that have pushed the ending back with my knowledge and consent.  I'm still not sure what's going to happen at the end of this game, but I know where and when in the narrative that ending is going to occur and it will be interesting to see how it all works out.

I guess what I've learned most from these games is that it is, in fact, possible to write a game with an ending in mind without defining exactly what that ending is.

Some of this is also a bit of "know thyself".  I am always working on or looking at a new shiny, and a given game just can't hold my attention for massive amounts of time.  Starting a game with an ending in mind and with a vaguely-defined duration keeps me invested in making the current game the best it can be while also allowing me to look ahead to new ideas.

 

~PS

Adding Some Flavor

Monday February 21, 2011 at 7:26pm gaming, creativity Comments (0) »
Adding Some Flavor Image

In saturday's session of my current D&D campaign (Sandstorm), I encountered a small problem with believablilty vs something I wanted to do for the players.  These sorts of challenges present problems, but also opportunities to invent clever solutions which may be interesting in their own right.  Every once in a while I have a gaming idea I'm somewhat proud of.

This is going to involve a bit of gaming story.

In the game, Tony's character is a wizard.  Magic in the fictional world in which the game is set has been established as fairly uncommon.  The party also learned that there is a local group of magic users in their current city, and they expressed some interest in speaking with these people to see what they might be able to learn.

So here was my problem.  I introduced the wizards of the Sandstone Tower to the game because I, as the GM, wanted to give Tony the opportunity for his character to learn some stuff in-game.  New spells maybe, or other information about magic that would appeal to his character.  I also wanted to give them a resource where they might be able to research certain plot-applicable topics.  The problem, however, comes because such knowledge is not given away freely in any believable setting.  Further, Tony's character isn't of an incredible power level nor is his magical knowledge of surpassing quantity or quality.  What would he have to offer a centuries-old cabal of magical scholars?  The typical "4,000 gp for a 2nd level spell" is boring and doesn't do much of anything for the story.  Plus, that kind of exchange doesn't make much sense in a low-magic, low-commerce setting like this one.

So here was how I decided to make this work:

The wizards of the Sandstone Tower are interested in knowledge above all else, particularly knowledge of the arcane.  This pursuit has also enlightened them to the fact that what knowledge is valuable is not always immediately apparent.  Also, while experience is often the greatest teacher, experience is also frequently dangerous - and so they don't actually do much in this capacity.  To this end, the scholars of the Sandstone Tower developed a magical ritual wherein a person could draw information both from their subconscious and from the very strands of fate and time to write their entire life experiences (past and future) as well as all thoughts, theories and observations into text (of course, the book cannot be opened and read until the author's death).  Since Tony's character had been through a lot in the party's adventures - and will go through quite a bit more as the game continues - his accounts would be very valuable to these scholars.  This gives him something interesting that they might want from him, something to facilitate a believeable exchange to give the party what I wanted to give them, and a little bit of a plot device for me to work with on top of it all.  I thought this was interesting, believable and added just a little more flavor to the story and the setting.

~PS

Penguin Dice Box

Thursday February 3, 2011 at 9:20pm cleaning, gaming, ruchtcon Comments (0) »
Penguin Dice Box Image

I am rather easily amused.  Especially by interesting boxes and containers.

Pictured to the right is my new dice container for the roleplaying games I'm in (as a player).  Someone (and I'm trying to remember who) gave me four (4) tins of Penguin mints a while back.  I've only eaten a few of them (mainly because a) i'm not all that fond of pepperment and b) these things are strong), but as I was cleaning out the office closet today, I happened upon the tins and noticed something: these boxes (about the same size as an Altoids tin) are exactly tall enough to contain a normal d20.  Upon further experimentation, I discovered that the boxes are sized such that they can neatly hold about 14-18 dice, which is enough for 2 standard sets plus an additional die or two.  The size and shape of the box also makes it easy to carry in a pocket or the blue notebook box thing I generally carry.  Plus, it has a penguin.  How could it be more perfect?

As I partially alluded to before, I spent most of today cleaning out a closet, a filing cabinet drawer, a bookshelf and my desk.  The end results are a basically organized gaming drawer, a clean workspace, some new dice containers, and a bedside shelf.

I've also been kicking around some game proposal ideas for RuchtCon II, which is now officially scheduled for March 25th-27th.

~PS

Please Stand By

Monday January 24, 2011 at 1:31pm stand by, job search, family, friends, gaming, auto repair Comments (0) »
Please Stand By Image

I was kind of hoping to have a bit more to report the next time I keyed and entry in here, but it's been a minute and things aren't progressing fast enough to suite me.

Mostly what I'm referring to is the job search.  I've had a couple of very promising interviews, but I haven't heard anything definite from either of them.  I have a third tomorrow so we'll see where that goes.

The holidays were fun.  It was good to get to spend time with family.  Sheri's parents and her aunt stayed with us for about a week and then my parents came down for the weekend.  We also got to see Jerry, Amanda, Stacey and Tracy - and that's always a good time.  Stacey and Tracy are going to be overseas for a few years so we wanted to make sure we could spend a little time with them, and Jerry & Amanda (+Pickle) are always fun.

Gaming continues as it must.  General fun times.  A little behind on the session write-ups (as usual).  Working on some projects (also, as usual).  We've started talking about RuchtCon II.  Had a pretty sweet character/player exit in last night's game.  Cool things happen.

The Jeep is having issues which I'm about to (hopefully) go get fixed.  Battery not charging correctly/consistently - probably the alternator.  EDIT: Jeep fixed; alternator replaced.

More details may or may not follow on some or all of the above.

Please stand by.

~PS

Up to the Holidays

Up to the Holidays Image

Well, the Blog has been neglected of late.  I guess that happens.

My job search has continued with rather sparse results.  Still looking.

Sheri & I have been trying to finish up Christmas stuff, which I think we've managed to do.  We're trying not to spend lots of money this year, but we really like giving things to our friends and family.  This has presented some challenges - some of which have been met wonderfully, some of which have been significantly more frustrating.  All in all, though, I think it's going to work out.

Apart from the more mundane aspects of my life, there have been one or two things of interest.

I've been working a bit on board game design for a couple of projects about which I may go into more detail at a later time.  Llama and I spent quite a bit of time last saturday night discussing one of these in particular and I think it has quite a bit of potential.

The two rp games I've been running have been going well.  The plot in my London 1802 game is coming to a head and I'm interested to see how it will turn out in the end.  The Sandstorm game left off for the holidays with a bit of a cliffhanger as the party exited the local wise-woman's cave to the sound of surrounding war-horns.  On a related note, I'm woefully behind in my session write-ups.  The last two sessions for each game have yet to be elaborated upon.  The synopses are really only for my benefit anyway, but I do need to take (what will now be a few hours worth of) time to flesh those out before I can no longer remember them.  I'll probably have to reference Sheri's notes as it is.

My birthday weekend was relaxing and cool.  On saturday night Tony & Adam came over and we played Dominion and watched a couple of the old Pink Panther movies (Peter Sellers ftw).  On sunday we had our last Rogue Trader session (Rucht's game) for the year and Stacie made me peanut butter birthday brownies which were *awesome*.  They even stopped the session and sang to me.  My friends are cool.  :-D

I spent this last monday afternoon shooting portraits for the Hippies.  This was a new and interesting experience for me, and I learned quite a bit from it.  I've been told the pictures turned out pretty well - they look good on my computer screen anyway.  One or two will get put into my Portfolio for this year at some point.  Also, I've discovered a poor-man's lighting solution: If you can't afford studio lights but you have a decent flash (with a pivot/swivel head), a 2'x3'  sheet of white foam board positioned a few feet away makes a pretty good bouncing surface for indirect lighting when you don't want to bounce from the ceiling or there is no usable ceiling.

 

At the moment, I'm taking a break.  Today we've been finishing up our christmas stuff and cleaning the house in preparation for Sheri's mom, dad & aunt who are coming to stay for the holidays.  They're supposed to get in sometime late tonight and I think our current plan is to stay up playing board games while we wait for them - probably some Dominion and Touch of Evil, which were two of Sheri's birthday presents this year.

 

~PS

Return of Photos and Current Gaming Projects

Thursday October 21, 2010 at 1:12pm photography, job search, jamming, music, gaming Comments (0) »
Return of Photos and Current Gaming Projects Image

Ok, so the photo gallery is back up and running - to an extent.  I actually have plans to make the photo page a bit more robust, but I haven't felt "into" working on it that much lately and I'm tired of seeing the "returning soon..." on the page. 

I've included a 2010 Portfolio on the new page, as much because the page looks much better with 3 entries than with only two than anything else.  I think there are some good shots in there, but, sadly, I haven't had as many days of dedicated shooting this year.  I'm hoping to take advantage of one of these nice fall days to do some before it gets cold...   ...we'll see if I'm motivated to actually do that or not.  It's not that I don't want to do it, it's more that I've just been...uninspired.

Speaking of being uninspired, the job search continues to be frustrating.  There just aren't enough opportunities in the area.  I've found multiple hits in various locations an average distance of 4 or 5 hours away that are pretty much exactly what I do (and I've even sent an inquiry email to a company in knoxville, about 2 hours away), but there's just not that much around here - at least, not at the moment.  Also, the things that *are* around here that are "kind of" in my line don't seem to be panning out so much.  Erg.

On more fun things - because that's what I like to talk about on this blog:

Well, I mentioned that I haven't done much photography lately and I haven't felt like working on the website, so...what does that leave? *looks at menu bar*

Robb & I have been jamming with Josh and Bill some more.  This has been lots of fun.  We've been working on the same 5 cover songs (Plea from a Cat Named Virtue by the Weakerthans, Creep by Radiohead, Jenny Says by Cowboy Mouth and Burn and Stupid Kid by the Alkaline Trio) - trying to get them nice and smooth before we branch out some more.  Some of them are more solid than others, but we're having fun.  Also, we did a rather spontenous arrangement of The Melting Point of Wax (by Thrice) during last session, and that ruled.  I really want to play some version of that song, but Thrice's drummer is...insane...and Bill doesn't think he's up to it.

On some gaming:

My Sandstorm and London 1802 games have both been going really well.  I think both have a great story unfolding and interesting characters.  Also, both have an ending in mind.  This is an oddity for me - I generally just let games go until whenever.  I don't know exactly how it's going to go down or how the parties are going to get there, but I know where the story is heading, and I know where the climax is.  I also know what will happen if the party goes completely into left field.  I'm really enjoying these games, but oddly, I'm looking forward to the ending of the stories.  It's kind of the same way you look forward to the end of a good book or movie - you want to see exactly how it ends.  This time, I know it *has* an ending.

I'm also enjoying Rucht's Rogue Trader game, though I still feel a bit off-balance in the 40k universe.  I'm a little torn this aspect - sometimes I think I really like it, sometimes I think it's not my thing.  I think my big issue is simply the weight of too much canon - it feels restricting.  I tend to like settings which the GM - and also the players - affect not only what's happeneing in the setting, but also what the setting is like.  When I run games in a given setting (almost always one of my own creation), I tend to adjust the feel and flavor of the setting based on what I think the players are enjoying the most.  This just isn't something you can easily do if you care about staying "faithful" to a published setting.

I'd like to give Patrick's Star Wars game a nod as well, though I haven't quite been "feeling" it of late.  I think most of this is my fault.  One of the cool things about this game from my perspective is that my character has actually changed considerably over the course of play.  I'm not sure if it's obvious to the other players, but it's very apparent to me.  Unfortunately, one of the effects of this change is that he has become much more introverted and reflective, which is making roleplaying with the other players less frequent than I'd like.  I'm considering how I might nudge the character out of his shell so that he's more fun to play without breaking verisimilitude.  Also, there are a couple of annoyances in this game, but again, it's my hangup. 

As always, I have multiple games in the works, on a variety of levels.  I have 3-ring binders for each of my games' notes, but I have one entire tabbed binder that is nothing but sideprojects.

I've mentioned my Savage 3025 idea before, and I've continued to refine parts of it.  I was actually talking a bit about this game with Matt over the weekend, which was cool.  I think he's the only other guy I know that has any knowledge or interest in the Battletech universe.  He also seemed interested in playing in the game whenever I get around to running it, which I think would pretty awesome.  As the date suggests to the initiated, this will be a Succession Wars era campaign, and is meant to follow a lance (a reason I want exactly 4 players) in the service of one of the Great Houses.  Despite the fact that most of my "work" on this system has been on the 'mech combat rules, I expect characters to spend as much or more time out of their 'mechs.  This is another reason why I wanted to use a mod of Savage Worlds: so that I could have a consistent system for roleplaying scenarios on both scales.  This definitely won't be a strictly combat/tactical game - the politics and roleplaying interactions surrounding any actual conflicts will be more important than the battles themselves.

Another idea I've been working on lately - and this is something I've been kicking around for a few years - is a game based around the cosmology of Myst.  This has probably resurged as a sideproject as I've just finished playing through Riven and have started Exile.  Still, the rpg I have in mind really won't have much in common with the games, which are primarily puzzlers, neither will it pay any attention to canon.  Rather, I simply wish to take the feel of the universe of Myst - microcosmic "Ages" created through and connected by Linking Books, which are crafted through a specific arcane art of Authoring - and plug in more traditional aspects of a tabletop rpg.  One of the many things I think could be really cool about this sort of game is that I'd like for the players to, at some point, begin to actually write their own Ages to explore and play in - and I have many ideas on how this could be accomplished and manifest.  I'm unfamiliar with any other game where the players can (literally) write their own settings into the universe, and this idea greatly intrigues me - enough that this is probably the project I'm most interested in at the moment.

I've also written a few pages of notes on a western game I'm calling "In the Cards".  Basically, I decided that in order to properly capture the feel of a western themed game, the mechanics should be a bit more approrpriate.  Basically, the game takes place around poker hands.  Normal tasks would be resolved via a "high card" - the player plays a card from his/her hand against the GM's draw from the deck (results "modified" by options available to players skilled in the task in question, etc).  More dramatic scenes, such as shoot-outs or heated arguments, would be played out as a slightly tweaked hand of poker - wherein each involved player invests him/herself in the scene, performing simple draw actions, and continually "upping the ante" until some dramatic moment "calls" the hand, and the final results of the conflict are evaluated based on the winner.  I also have some additional ideas on how players can hedge their bets - such as the idea of having cards "up the sleeve", which they can pull out in appropriate circumstances.

Bot has been put on the back-burner for the time being.  I will mention that it got positive reviews at Gamesplosion and I think it has a lot of potential, but I'm still thinking over some streamlining and I'm having some trouble coming up with stories to tell in such an eccentric world.  I know they're there, I'd just need to get my brain into that mode.

~PS

Things Have Changed

Thursday September 30, 2010 at 1:30pm state of the penguin, work, family, bunguin, gencon, parties, jamming, website Comments (5) »

If you're the superstitious type, you might suggest that the title of my last blog entry was tempting the fates...    ...but then, I'd probably have to pat you for it.

Much is different since my last blog entry, and some of it is responsible for the gap between posts.  Most relevantly, I am no longer working for Legend Web Works.  I have a wide array of thoughts on this particular matter, but I do not wish to belabor them here.  Further, if you're reading this you probably already know about it - I simply wished to state it for posterity.  This is generally the case for most things on my blog and this entry is no exception.

So now I'm looking for a new job.  Unfortunately my particular area of expertise is rather narrow in scope and directly-related opportunities in this area are somewhat limited.  I've found a few leads, but things seem to be slow in developing.  I'm not entirely sure what to do and I'm a little stressed about it, but I haven't hit a brick wall yet, so I'm still trying to be optimistic.

 

Anyway, on to happier things:

First and foremost, Sheri is pregnant!  We're going to have a Bunguin!  We actually saw the first ultrasound yesterday, which admittedly doesn't look like much at this point - but still.  The expected due date is May 14th 2011.  We're really excited!

Secondly, as I mentioned previously, I finally got to go to Gencon back in August.  It was pretty awesome.  The Exhibitor's hall was an amazingly geeky mall full of cool stuff, but the most fun was hanging out and playing games with the Playgrounders and a bunch of guys from the Fear the Boot forum.  I have a few souvenirs from the con including a new set of dice, the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition, and a lanyard from the Fear The Boot guys.  I really liked it, and I'd like to go back at some point, but my favorite parts were things that didn't have anything to do with the con itself - things like Chris's Battletech game.  I think i prefer less commercial and more gaming - things like our local mini-cons.  Also, I'd really like to go out to Fear The Con one of these days.

On that note, we had Gamesplosion back in late August - our third local mini-gaming-convention.  This one, I believe, was the biggest one to-date.  It was held at our place for logistical reasons, and took place from friday-sunday as usual.  I ran a session of Mouse Guard and one of my own homebrews called Bot.  I played in a Weird War II (Savage Worlds) game, and played Agricola during one of the other slots.  It was definitely a great time.

And of course, I've been continuing my normal gaming.  We started a D&D game using the Sandstorm rules/setting (along with some stuff from Unearthed Arcana), and that's been interesting.  The WoD game has resumed and is starting to build in the "action" dept.  I've also spent quite a bit of time reinterpreting the Battletech rules into Savage Worlds - this is intended to make 'mech combat a bit more fast-paced and also tie a roleplaying system directly into it.  Sheri and I playtested it a bit, and I was quite happy with how it played.

We were finally present for Robb's "Talk Like A Pirate party" this year, which was lots of fun - and the location of perhaps the most epic nerf war we have witnessed to date.  Another item of note related to this is the piratey shirts Sheri's mom made us for it - they're really cool and I think they'll be handy for a few different costumes should the need arise.

Robb and I have been jamming with Josh & Bill again, which has been cool.  I think we're supposed to do that again soon.  We've picked out about 5 cover songs and we're just going over them again and again as we try to gel as a group.  It's been a lot of fun - I really missed getting to play with a band.

Finally, as I'm sure you've noticed, my site has been reincarnated yet again.  This is partly due to my job situation - I really didn't want to keep it on any framework related to my former employers.  It just felt...odd.  This rebuild is being constructed purely according to my preferences.  As of now, it's still under construction.  The blog was the first piece - additional pages will come online in the coming weeks as I'm able to build them to my taste.  Also, there is, as of now, a very modest mobile site (which looks awful on a pc), currently only capable of reading and commenting on the blog - but I'm sure I'll start working on it after the main site is completely set.  Accessing www.penguinsushi.com on a mobile device should direct you there.

 

~PS

Midsummer Lull

Wednesday July 14, 2010 at 3:39pm family, friends, gaming Comments (2) »

*Walks by* *Comes back*

Oh. Hey.

Not much going on lately.

Sheri's parents were visiting the last week in June. Her dad is/was trying to find a job in the area because they think they'd like to move here. So far, not too much has come of that, but I don't think they've given up hope.

Rucht & McKenna had their annual 4th of July party on the 3rd. We had a lot of fun hanging out with people, playing kubb and watching fireworks.

My World of Darkness game is going quite well - they made it to the end of the first act. We have a little in-game and out-of-game downtime, and I'm currently working on some narrative for the different characters.

Our GenCon badges should be arriving sometime tomorrow. :-D

We're also in the initial planning stages of Gamesplosion 2010 - our 3rd local gaming con - taking place later in august. This one is, as of now, slated to take place at our house and I've been contemplating what that will entail/require. Also, I'm looking forward to hopefully running a game or two for this event.

Not much to report on work, other hobbies, or other personal stuff.

~PS

Festivals, Meetups, Conventions and Gaming

Saturday June 12, 2010 at 10:34am festivals, gaming, friends, gitp, gencon, family Comments (0) »
Festivals, Meetups, Conventions and Gaming Image

So it's saturday.

We don't have too much going on this weekend. I think we are/were going to go walk around at a nearby park (and check out some bike trails), but it's raining at the moment - so that might put a damper on things.


Last weekend, however, was pretty eventful. The first weekend in June is the date of two different local festivals.

First, we went out to Rogersville to the Shakespeare and Friends Renaissance Faire (warning: their website is pretty hideous). It should, perhaps, be noted that I'd never been to a Ren Faire before, so I didn't really know what to expect. I think I had more fun than I thought I would - which is not to say I expected not to like it, I just didn't really know what it would be like.
There were some interesting booths, a lot of impressive costumes and some amusing shows. In particular, I enjoyed the jousting. The guys doing it explained a lot about the competitions, equipment and everything that goes into it.
I took quite a few photos of the faire which I posted on facebook.

Second, there was the Blue Plum in downtown JC. I've been to this festival a few years now. Unlike the Ren Faire, there's not too much to write about it, but we had a good time walking around with our friends enjoying the atmosphere. We also went to a pizza place downtown where we had one of our other friends as a waiter - that was pretty cool (I didn't even know he worked there).


On some gaming and related stuff:

In other news, my WoD campaign has been continuing nicely, though we've yet to get Curtis into it. I've also added some house rules to the core WoD system (surprise, surprise).
I love dice. They give you a nice, tangible connection to what's going on in the game world and they provide an element of unpredictability that's still connected through the rules to what a given character is generally capable of. Dice are great - as a player.
As a gm however, I've found they drive me crazy. I'm trying to juggle the narrative and keep each of the players engaged in the game and I find it to be a huge distraction when I have to stop, roll dice, calculate results and then report numbers back. Therefore, I've basically modified the system such that the players roll all the dice. The WoD system in particular lends itself to this with some only minor tweaks. We're still kind of trying this out and there will still probably be times that I'll roll a dice, but most of the time I'd rather that aspect stayed in the players' hands.
I've also been working on several gaming side projects including another simplistic thematic rpg (like Bot, but completely different in theme) and a couple of board games (which I may or may not be able to manifest).

Patrick ran his Star Wars game on thursday and we ran into a little bit of a hiccup near the end where the mechanics kind of broke down the fun, as it were. I also, unfortunately, found myself to be getting a bit frustrated as I tried to interact with a scene in a way that didn't seem to be jiving with the rest of the group (mostly my fault for not being clear enough).
I mention this not to criticize the game or the players - because I think Patrick's running a great game and the players are participating well - but to point out that even good games can get bogged down by one thing or another. It's just going to happen.
It's easy to look back and say "oh, well person X should have done Y", but when you're actually in the game that's not always so apparent. Still, I think the conversation Rucht, Patrick and I had post-game (even though it was quite late) about how we might address certain issues in the future (both as gms and players) was helpful if only so we didn't all leave on a complete down-note.

Oh yeah, and we gamed at Patrick & Stacie's new house - which is a pretty cool place and about half the distance from here as their old place.

We're two weeks from hosting our FOURTH GitP meetup. This year is shaping up to be much like previous years - which is to say, awesome. As usual, there are some people who can't make it that we'd really like to see, but there are some others we're glad to see returning and a decent number of new people to meet. I think it's pretty cool that this has become a Playground tradition and that people continue to flock to our little town for a great time.

And finally, I think I'm actually going to get to go to GenCon this year!(!!!) I've been saying I want to make it up for that for years now, and I'm excited that I'll finally get to do it. In addition to the con itself, there are a few hard-to-find gaming books I'll be looking for, a few random people I'd kinda like to shake hands with, and a couple of forum communities I'll be looking to hook up with for general fun-times and hanging out. Edit: Badges have been ordered. :)

While we're up there, we'll also spend some time with my parents & Sheri's grandpa. Also, the current plan is to rent a uhaul for the trip back so we can empty out a storage unit Sheri still has up there.


~PS

Another day in the life

Tuesday May 25, 2010 at 4:13pm iphone, bicycling, gaming, drawing, comics, gitp, meetup Comments (0) »
Another day in the life Image

First thing, as I mention in the edit of last post, I am enjoying my shiny new iPhone (which has been named Sadie, after one of the characters from Mouse Guard). In particular, I like the ability to always have a 'net connection, to be able to sync and always have my mac's calendar (which i nearly *rely* on these days) with me, to have a phone that isn't work related (and I don't have to worry about using it for personal calls), and for *Sheri* (who also got one) to have her own phone so I don't worry as much when she goes somewhere in our less-than-perfectly-reliable jeep. Also, text messaging is fun, having a portable pdf reader is handy, and I think I like the iPhone facebook app better than the actual facebook *site* - it doesn't have all the stupid clutter everywhere.

Sheri and I got our bikes out for the first time this year and went for a ride on the Linear Trail in Erwin last saturday. I think we went about 7 or 8 miles altogether, though at a somewhat relaxed pace. We saw a lot of geese and ducks and a couple of rabbits. It was a lot of fun and I'm hoping we'll get to ride our bikes a lot more this year than last year.

My World of Darkness game had session #3 last night, which was fun if a bit slower than previous sessions. I think it was still good, but I'm thinking over how to smooth out some of the bumps. We are still trying to get Curtis involved, and we're gonna try a new weeknight to see if it works better.

I've been trying to do some drawing lately - actually working on a character sketch for Rucht's Rogue Trader game. I'm pretty rusty at this sort of art. Also, I'd love to try a pc tablet/drawing pad.

Other randomness: Tony introduced me to a comic/graphic novel series called Fables, which is pretty awesome. You should check it out. Yes, you.

Looking ahead, our GitP 2k10 meetup (this will be meetup #4 :)) is fast approaching. We are sad that Ginger can't make it out this year, but hopefully she'll get to come hang out one of the subsequent weekends. The Igloo will be hosting a few other friends for the meetup though, including our former-local Ken who it will be cool to see again. The meetup is always a great time, and this year should be just as awesome as usual.

~PS

Parents, Puppies and Projects

Tuesday May 18, 2010 at 9:46am family, home, jeep, gadgets, gaming, milligan, birthdays, friends Comments (0) »
Parents, Puppies and Projects Image

Well, we had a good weekend. My parents and Rylee (my mom's havanese puppy) came to visit, which is always a good time. Ally wasn't quite sure what to make of the little white fuzzball that ran around the house, but overall I think they got along.

There were, of course, the requisite "projects".

The roof's minor issue has now been completely fixed (which is good, because it's raining) and the downspouts on the gutters have been flushed out too. The jeep's had some small tune-ups - changed the fanbelt and a small vacuum hose. There are some other little things, but overall I was told the jeep was running well.

We also spent most of saturday doing what we can to map out a deck plan. I've been wanting to build a deck on the front of our house for a couple years. The project is still very much in the preliminary stages, but we're making some progress. What we need to do now is discover where our septic system is for sure (we're pretty sure already) and have the water line marked - because those pipes are in the area in question. Also, we need to either figure out how to get 18ft support beams or shorten the width to 16ft (which might squeeze one section). Still, we're making some progress.

In addition to home/auto projects, we had a great time hanging out. We went to bay's mountain park and went for a short hike and got soaked with rain about 3/4 of the way back to the car. On the upside, the rain cover for my camera case has been field-tested with great success.

My parents also, of course, had their shiny iphones. I decided a while back that I want one of these. We kinda need (at least one) personal phone, and if I'm going to add another bill to our monthly expenses, I'm totally willing to pay a bit more to get something *fun*. As of now, I think we're waiting for Sheri to decide if she wants her own phone and whether she also wants an iphone. She isn't sure how much of a smart phone's capabilities she would use a lot (at first anyway), but she doesn't really have any gadgets and this would be several in one. I personally think it would be kind of cool, if somewhat expensive. Edit: yeah, we did it. We now have shinies. Rather sooner than I would have imagined, but we had put it off for quite a while...


My World of Darkness game is now two sessions in and is going great. The players seem to be really enjoying it, and I'm liking the theme. Synopses' are posted on the Gaming page as useful. On a related now, I have now feared the entirety of the boot, and I've been poking around on the ftb forums. On another related note, I'm trying to figure out if I can pull off going to gencon this year.

Milligan's faculty/staff picnic was last tuesday, and that was cool. It's fun to talk to people we only see occasionally and meeting others.

A week ago last saturday was our friend Stacie's birthday party at Rucht & McKennas, and that was cool. I game with a lot of the same people, but that's a lot different from just hanging out. Plus, Stacie, McKenna and Jen aren't really gamers and they're really cool people - when we're gaming we sometimes "see" them, but don't get to interact with them much when we're roleplaying.

~PS

Fear the (Lack of) Blog

Thursday April 29, 2010 at 11:01pm ftb, friends, gaming, board games, yard work Comments (0) »
Fear the (Lack of) Blog Image

Wow, s'been almost a month since i've keyed something into the ol' blog.

Probably not much to talk about has happened in that interim. Let's see...

I previously mentioned a podcast called Fear the Boot, but at the time it was only with respect to their interview with Matt Vancil. I'm going to bring them up again because since that mentioning, I've really become a fan of the show as a whole. I should mention again that Rucht actually told me about this podcast a while back and correctly guessed I'd enjoy it, but to this point I hadn't given it much of a try. As someone who likes to listen to amusing group commentaries on independent projects (often listening to the commentaries on the first Gamers movie as well as those for Red vs Blue) and someone who loves talking about gaming in general, this thing was indeed "right up my alley", so to speak.
Now, when I get hooked on something, I tend to go all the way - so a few weeks ago I manually downloaded all of their stuff (at the time, 8.2 days worth). Generally, when I'm doing whatever (work, mowing, driving, working on my own projects or just playing on my computer) I tend to listen to music, movies and/or (especially) commentaries as a fairly constant backdrop... ...so for the last few weeks, I've been listening to the guys at Fear the Boot. It has been quite enjoyable to my taste - and I've made it through almost 3/4 of the show's history.


Anyway, looking back...

On Monday I started my World of Darkness game, and I thought the first session went very well (as always, there's a synopsis on the gaming page). We had 4 players and a 5th is planning to come next time, so we've got a pretty full table. I'm pretty excited about this game (and the current WoD system in general). I have some interesting ideas for where this campaign might go so I hope it sticks together.
This game was started in the interest of doing something a bit more regularly than our Mouse Guard game, which has some pretty severe scheduling limitations. Still, I in no way want to abandon Mouse Guard since that game is pretty awesome too...just...sparse.

Our friend Nick is finally back from Saudi and he introduced us to a new game called Citadels last weekend. It's a pretty cool, simple & relatively quick little card game. He also has Dominion, which I've been wanting to try, but we didn't get to it last weekend.

Edit: Played Dominion tonight (May 1st). *Great* game. We'll probably pick it up at some point.

Way back on the 10th I got to playtest an RPG I previously mentioned having thought up and written in about a week. This game is called Bot. There's a (very) brief mechanics-less description of the concept and a synopsis of the session on the Gaming page. I thought it went very well, everyone seemed to catch on quickly and have fun and I was very happy with it.

Way, way back on the 7th our GitP friends Stacy & Tracy stopped in on us JC folk, wherein we played some games and ambushed Llama with nerf guns (this is becoming something of a tradition). It's been a while, so I don't remember what all we did, but we I know had a good time.


In terms of the less interesting, we've come upon the lawn mowing time of year again, and I've been doing a bit of that. I actually enjoy the exercise, but it just takes so long to do. We've been talking about getting a rider for some time...maybe sometime this year.


~PS

The Return of the EP

Saturday April 3, 2010 at 11:22am yard work, friends, ftb, gaming, photography, work Comments (0) »
The Return of the EP Image

We lost our company this morning, and that was sad. Ginger, William and Liam left around 9:30 or so. They'd been hanging out with us for about the last week. We had a great time.

They arrived here last Saturday evening. On Sunday we went to the coffeehouse at WAPC and chatted with some of the native Wataugians who wanted to catch up with Ginger since she'd been gone. On Monday we had a game night at the Hippie Hut Mk. II, complete with 3 munchkins. Cash & Guns was entertaining. Thursday Patrick ran his Star Wars game and Ginger's old character got to return for a cameo appearance in it, along with William's "Bill Redshirt". Last night we met up at Mid City for dinner and came back here for a very enjoyable game night featuring Time's Up. Much fun was had. Samara came out to join us - which was cool since it had been a few years since we'd had her around - and Rucht brought Duane who was in town and is always a lot of fun to hang out with too.

So this last week was lots of fun and games. We now return to our regular existence. I have posted some pictures on the book-face.


Well, the first mowing of the front yard for the season has occurred. It was like a small forest in places. While doing that, I was listening to and enjoying an interview with Matt Vancil (writer/director of The Gamers movies) from Fear the Boot.com, which Rucht sent to me - and now I'm passing on to anyone here who might like it. I was actually sad that the Gamers II dvd didn't include any commentaries (they ran out of room on the disc), so it was cool to get to hear Matt talk some about it. Also, he and the guys that do Fear the Boot have philosophies on gaming/roleplaying very similar to mine, and I enjoyed their articulation of some of those ideas.

Working backward toward the last blog, we had a game night over at our friend Casey's place a few weeks ago wherein we got to play another great Days of Wonder game called Small World. Tim was in town for that, and it's always good to get to hang out with him. Also, we had another awesome Mouse Guard session (which has been posted on Gaming page) on the 19th. We left off in the middle of some action & hopefully we'll get to continue that one soon.

In slightly related news, I recently spent about a week designing a new table-top rpg. It's considerably different than any other rpg I've ever played. I think it will be a lot of fun. I'll probably post some stuff about it on the Gaming page at some point, but I don't want to talk about it in any specifics yet. I intend to "spring it" on a group of players as a one-shot without any prior disclosure or explanation - I think that approach will suit this game and its setting quite well. I'll probably be trying to put that together soon.

In other gaming news, my World of Darkness game has enough foundation to get it started whenever we choose to bring it up, so I've shelved it until I have an opportunity to work it in - which may be a while. Still very interested in it though.


Now that the weather has been warming up, I've been thinking a bit more about photography again - pulling out my camera more often and looking at the lenses I wanna pick up at some point. I'll probably end up buying the really expensive one next - but that might not be for some time. I had a great time taking a *lot* of pictures of Liam this week - most of that album may be him, with other people thrown in.


Work is going alright. Business is quite good, all things considered. I'm still/again working on some systems for the next version of our model. It also looks like we're going up to OH for a "business trip" later this month. Yay rah. It'll be good to see Kedrick, Addie, little Jack and my other coworkers, but other aspects of the trip are much, much less exciting. Oh well.


~PS

Return from AR 2010

Tuesday March 16, 2010 at 11:43am trips, family, gaming, board games Comments (1) »
Return from AR 2010 Image

I'm not sure if I'm back in the swing of things or not. I was actually kinda looking forward to work after being gone last week, but so far I don't have any fun projects. :\

Sheri's mom's surgery went as well as could be expected, I think. It wasn't nearly as bad as last time. When we left AR, she was still in some pain, but seemed to be recovering pretty well.

The week was largely uneventful. I spent a lot of time writing gaming notes for World of Darkness and playing on the lappy while they watched TV. I posted some more detailed info on my plans for this game on the gaming page.

We did play some games we brought (Settlers, Pillars of the Earth, Ticket to Ride), particularly with Ben & Brie when they were there on saturday, and we did enjoy simply spending time with her family.

I also took about 300 pictures of random stuff outside around their property, which was fun - it had been quite a while since i'd had the opportunity to got shooting. A couple are pretty good. I may post 'em somewhere.


Not much on the calendar for the next couple weeks as of now. Ginger, William and Liam are planning to come and visit on the 27th and are going to hang out with us for about a week. That will be lots of fun. Apart from that, there's the thursday evening gaming group I'm playing in... ...and that's pretty much it.


~PS

A Weekend in Athens Grease

Monday March 1, 2010 at 7:06pm friends, gaming, games, cell phones Comments (2) »

We had a wonderfully great time with Thes this last weekend. We got to spend the last few days hanging out, playing lots of games, occasionally engaging in large-scale nerf warfare and generally being our goofy selves. Thes really seemed to like my Mouse Guard game, and I finally got to play Agricola!

I have realized I didn't take any pictures of the festivities. Use your imagination: it basically looked like some previous meetup pics, only with fewer people. Just as much fun, though. :)

Sheri and I were very sad that she had to leave before we got up though... ...apparently Thes didn't want to wake us. We really wish she had... Alas...


So...not much is up now. I'm just hanging out, checking some facebook, writing a session-synopsis for the Mouse Guard game, watching Star Wars and contemplating some World of Darkness.

I'm also passively looking at some cell phone plan info. There has been a slight altercation relating to my work phone & personal use (which had never been a problem before). I think it amounts to a little bit of a misunderstanding and/or lack of communication. I figure it will probably be ironed out shortly, but we've been talking about maybe getting our own phone for a while anyway (for a variety of reasons)... ...and I do like the shiny iPhones...heh.


~PS

A Few Notes

Wednesday February 24, 2010 at 11:17am musicals, theatre, friends, gaming Comments (0) »

...for posterity, I guess.

Sheri & I went to see Milligan's production of the 'Little Women' musical on friday. It was amazingly good. There are some seriously talented people in the Milligan Theatre dept... ...and the musicians did a fantastic job also. We had a good time.

On saturday, we hung out with Llama & helped him take a rental car back. He's still looking for a new steed.

Our friend Steve moved *back* to SC this week, and this made us sad. He'd only been back into the area for a few months. It just turned out that he wasn't able to help with the music at his church back in SC as well as he wanted from here, and he was only seeing his daughter every couple of weeks anyway. He just decided it made more sense to be there for now. Hopefully we'll get to see him occasionally.


My gaming hobby has been dominating my 'hobby time' lately. It's too cold to be out taking pictures and, while i've been playing my acoustic a bit lately, I haven't come up with anything original. Mostly just playing some covers I'm fond of.

I picked up a couple of new gaming books over the weekend: Mr. K's had some copies of White-Wolf's current World of Darkness core rules & Mage: The Awakening books. I probably wouldn't have bought 'em new, but half-price for current editions was irresistible. Since I picked those up on friday, I have gone through them both with a broad-toothed comb - which is to say, I read both books, but I skipped things that a) were redundant b) i already knew or c) didn't seem necessary to know completely in total (such as the 150+ pages of spells in Mage).
I remembered really liking Robb's Werewolf games at RuchtCon & Thanksgaming and I've found I really like the current rules set for WoD. Exalted (another WW game) is fun and the concept/setting is cool, but the system is (in my opinion) somewhat muddled and over-complicated. WoD seems to keep things (relatively) simple. I'm also drawn to the fact that it's *different* from our normal games (both in concepts & mechanics), and I've been all about some change for about the last year. I'll probably be looking to start a WoD campaign in the not-too-distant future. I've already got some ideas.


Some things I've mentioned before, more imminently:

With respect to other gaming, Rucht is planning to start his Rogue Trader game tomorrow night, and I'm scheduled to run both of my current games this weekend (after a month interim). I'm also *still* looking to get ahold of a few indie game books I've mentioned previously, but haven't had a chance to yet.

Also, we (our local circle of friends) have a friend visiting from out of town this weekend. Thes is coming in later tomorrow night to hang out with us until monday morning. That should be a fun time. :)


~PS

Busier Than Usual

Friday February 19, 2010 at 3:17pm friends, church, holidays, movies, gaming, work, family Comments (0) »

It's been a rather busy week. Unusually so, actually.

It was good to see Nick again on saturday, and to meet Jen. She seems pretty cool. Unfortunately, they weren't able to stay as long as originally planned and we only got to hang out for a little while.

Sunday Sheri & I went to Grandview for church. That was cool. We saw quite a few people that we knew (but hadn't seen in quite a while) and I was reminded how much I really like to hear Aaron Wymer speak.

Sunday was valentine's day, but Sheri and I don't usually do much *on* that day. Instead, we wait until the 19th - which happens to be today - to 'celebrate', since it was on the 19th ten years ago that she and I started dating. Happy Valentinanniversary to us. Or something. :-D

Monday we got to see Jerry & Amanda and little Jared as they stopped through at the Hippies' on their way home from a trip to FL. It's always cool to hang out with them, and their munchkin is exceptionally cute. I didn't have my camera with me, but I should have...

Tuesday was significant this week only in that it was the only evening I *didn't* have something going on.

Wednesday Rucht had a group of us over to watch Aliens. Prior to that time, I hadn't seen any of the Alien movies (and I still haven't seen any others). This was seen as somewhat of a problem that needed to be remedied. I enjoyed the movie and it's always cool to get together with friends.

Thursday (yesterday) was Patrick's Star Wars game. This game has been very enjoyable for me. It may be the first time I've actually had a character's personality, motives, actions, etc evolve *in game*. At Patrick's prompting, I've written up a bunch of stuff (probably more than he really wanted) for/about him with respect to his development in the story.

Tonight Sheri and I are going out to dinner and then over to see Milligan's production of Little Women - maybe not in that order...

Work has been kind of crazy lately as we're *still* trying to tie up some stuff before the end of the day... ...unfortunately, I'm currently waiting for a crucial piece of info to plug in - without which, I can't do much.

Looking ahead:

Next weekend our friend Thes is coming in for a visit and I'm supposed to run a couple of gaming sessions (after a month-long interim). That should be fun.

Also along the gaming line, Rucht is starting a Rogue Trader game next week that I'm gonna be in. I'm looking forward to this as I haven't got to play in one of Rucht's games before.

A couple weeks after that, Sheri and I are heading to AR to help her mom out after her upcoming surgery.

~PS

Hobbies, Decisions and Snow-covered Lands

Thursday February 11, 2010 at 12:34pm music, friends, gaming, church, work Comments (3) »

I think we're getting more than our fair share of snow this year. Or, more than we've ended up with the last 10 years or so anyway.

Usually I talk about my friends, my hobbies and stuff that's been happening on this thing. Not too much fits that bill lately.

Aside from picking up the acoustic from time to time (occasionally with friends), I haven't done much with 'music' lately. I have a recording or two that I could post, but I'm really not completely happy with them. In fact, I've become increasingly critical of my writing & composition. I think when I finally do get some stuff that I like recorded, it will probably be a bit different from past projects. Who knows.

I've wanted to take some pictures lately too, but I think I've photographed everything in my general vicinity and I haven't been anywhere new... ...and I haven't been particularly inspired by any 'new angles' on things available.

We've had some more scheduling conflicts with our gaming. These aren't all bad, but I'm still trying to figure out when we can play again.

We have done a little hanging out with a few friends lately. Robb & I got together to play some guitar last week and then went out for pizza (and sandwiches) and the hideously-colored Generous George's.

I've also been hanging out with Steve a bit lately, helping him record some of his songs. I've also recently dug out my Magic cards and he & I have played a few games of that. That's been fun, though I haven't been able to convince Sheri to learn it yet. I've always enjoyed that game, but most of the people I know stopped playing it quite a while back. Others I know have moved on to only playing it on the 360, but, like Carcassonne, I'd prefer to play the actual, physical game - and then there's the fact that I don't own a 360...


In other news, as she mentioned on her blog, Sheri has resigned as choir director for our church - mostly because the choir was pretty much dissolving anyway. This puts us somewhat in 'limbo' with regard to what we'll do next. It feels kind of awkward in Erwin, and we've talked about visiting some other places closer to where we live. Nothing's actually be decided though.

As she *hasn't* mentioned on her blog (as yet), Sheri's also been doing some writing. She's about 60 pages into a story, and I think she's doing a great job with it - which is why I mention it.


Work is work and, aside from a few frustrations, has been pretty good. The last month or so has been a continual swing from really busy to really slow and back again. Not too much going on at the moment, so I'm just looking over some stuff. I know some other things will be on their way to me soon, though.


~PS

Sushiday V, a Movie and Games

Monday February 1, 2010 at 9:34am website, rpm, movies, video games, gaming Comments (0) »

Well, here we are at February.

Yes, I know that's redundant, seeing as there's a date right above the statement, but that's what's going through my head atm.

First off, Penguinsushi.com is another year older - bringing me up to 5 glorious(?) years on the web!

Second, RPM 2010 starts today, but sadly, I don't think I'll be participating this year for two reasons: 1) I haven't been able to come up with any new material in the last couple of months - though to be honest, I've only put in about 15 hours worth of effort in that time - and 2) because, due to some extenuating circumstances, I'll be losing a large portion of my studio gear next weekend. This will be replaced, of course, but it may not be immediately.

In other news:

Sheri & I went to see Avatar with Robb & Edie last night night. It was quite a good movie, if a bit predictable. My assessment is that it is basically 60% Ferngully, 25% The Matrix, and 15% other (possibly LoTR; others have suggested Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and Aliens). That's not to say it was completely derivative - it did have its originality - but large parts of it definitely conjured thoughts of "I've seen this somewhere before...". Still, like I said, a good movie.

Llama and I played a fair bit of Super Mario Wii this weekend and, with an obsessive-collecting "No Big Coin Left Behind" philosophy, actually finished and beat the game seeking and obtaining every big coin in every level of the primary 8 worlds (including going back to hunt ones we'd missed in other worlds previously). Yes, we are the awesome. We've now started on the "secret" post-game World 9, which, I have to say, is pretty tough.

We started a new D&D game on friday night and I'm proud that not even the snow storm could prevent it - though driving Steve home was...entertaining...and 2/3 of our guests actually camped out here that night.
As I mentioned before, I had carefully mapped out the game's scenario from most-if-not-all angles and then gave the "party" and obvious hook for them to take - a hook which would lead them to the ruin of a prison outpost where a demon was reportedly hiding. Obvious adventure, right? Given the attitudes originally fostered at the conception of this game, I thought they'd want the obvious hook. Silly me. The first 3/4 of the session was spent around town investigating some other goings on. By the time they actually made it to the keep, it was so late that we had to call it a night after the first encounter - which was actually still outside it's gates.
So here we have a question of causality: *Because* I overcomplicated the game, writing in the multiple goings-on from different angles, I knew exactly what to do and what they would find when they went off the "expected course". HOWEVER, if I *hadn't* written up all those other angles (i.e., if I'd just said "you're in a tavern. you see a wanted poster for a demon. it's in this keep. go for it."), they wouldn't have had *reason* to go off the "expected course" (though that iteration of the setting would have seemed much less realistic and "alive"...to me anyway). So basically, my excessive detail was both the cause of my "problems" *and* my salvation there-from. Still, I wouldn't change much if i could. It was a good time.
The real beauty is, because the party did something that I didn't expect, I realized that the story was going to have to change. At least one thing they did was going to have a significant impact and make drastic alterations to how the narrative would have unfolded otherwise - and that's the way it should be. The characters' actions should have real meaning in the story, beyond the simple "either you succeeded or you failed". Being able to account for that as a GM is a bit of an art, and one that don't always feel I'm doing well. This time though, it's working beautifully.

~PS

Into The Games

Monday January 25, 2010 at 5:08pm video games, gaming Comments (0) »

Well, there hasn't been much to make the blog lately.

Work has been a bit subdued lately - which is good, because I think they're getting ready to give me a bunch of stuff, so I've been enjoying the respite the last week or so has afforded.

Most of my free time has been spent either A) playing some Wii games, or B) working on some roleplaying games.


Mini Ninjas was (and continues to be) *lots* of fun. If you take a rather relaxed pace, the game is about 12 hours long. I beat it in about 13. I've played it about 14, now looking for some of the remaining statues (there are a certain number in each level). The game has a lot of replay value - not so much in terms of story, but simply because it's just plain fun to play and allows you to go back and replay levels you've already completed at any time.

My Life As a Darklord has been very entertaining as well, though it's getting pretty tough. I replayed the same level 4 times yesterday trying (unsuccessfully) to keep out those pesky adventurers before giving up for the night.


I'm currently gearing up to start a new D&D game for a few friends on Friday. It's been almost a year since I've run one. This is intended to be less a "campaign" and more of a "mini-series". I set out to make some simpler, smaller, episodic adventures for us to enjoy... ...the problem is, the more you try to understand and explain, the less possible "simple" becomes. Some would say that when you have a 2.5 page outline of stuff that happened before the PC's arrive on scene, you've passed that which can be reasonably called "simple".
The premise itself felt reasonably simple when i started, but in detailing the situation fully enough that it could become a living entity (i.e., a situation that could alter and react to the PC's actions), it was found to contain several facets that needed to be addressed for it to really work. "Simple" might not be the best word for it. Still, it's scale fits the general feel I'm going for and I *do* think it will be a lot of fun to play.

The resumption of Mouse Guard was exciting and went really well - I'm really looking forward to continuing that one too.

We've also resumed Patrick's Star Wars game, and I've been trying to do a little work on my character's backstory & pursuits for that... ...but I don't really know as much about the Star Wars universe as the rest of everyone... ...I know the original trilogy very well and anything Lego Star Wars may have taught me, but not much beyond that...

Still kicking around some ideas pertaining to my pet system project, but not really anything else to say about that.


~PS

"Back In My Day..."

Saturday January 9, 2010 at 3:04pm gaming, snow Comments (2) »

"...we had to walk a mile up hill in the snow to play an rpg..."

I think this deserves and honorable mention on my blog.

Last thursday was slated as a date for Patrick's Star Wars game. Since Sheri was going to need the jeep that evening, Doug (one of the other players) came to pick me up.

Somewhere between my house & Patrick's (approx. 40min trip), it began to snow very hard. By the time we were exiting in Kingsport, the roads were slippery, and we actually slid through the intersection at the interchange and a red light down the street (when we came to a stop in the middle of the intersection). Doug had said he had wanted to stop at a Hardees near Patrick's place to get some dinner, but wasn't sure he wanted to make another stop in this weather.

Around this point, Patrick called us to see how we were doing, how the weather was, and to tell us that Tony had parked down at the Hardees and was walking up to his place since he didn't want to take the roads in his car.

By the time we got to Patrick's neighborhood, there was a nice coating of snow on all the roads, and one of the hills proved to be impassible - meaning when we got halfway up, Doug's little quasi-suv ceased moving forward. I call Doug's vehicle a 'quasi-suv' because, while it does have traction-control, it, unfortunately, does *not* have any kind of 4wd.

Now, I say the q-suv 'ceased moving forward', which was true - but what I didn't mention about that just now was that, after it did so, it immediately began sliding backward. It finally came to a stop about 20ft back down the hill in front of a driveway, which we slid back into, turned around, and did a (mostly) controlled slide back down the hill whereupon we decided we'd take a cue from Llama's strategy. We headed back down to the Hardees, got dinner as originally planned, and started walking toward Patrick's.

When we made it as far as the big hill - this time on foot - as the snow poured down on top of us, I turned to Doug, and, with a wry smile, that was what I said.

~PS

New Year Happenings

Wednesday January 6, 2010 at 12:46pm holidays, friends, photography, recording, gaming Comments (0) »
New Year Happenings Image

Still trying to get back into the normal swing of things after a couple of relaxing weeks.

We had a great time over new year's with a bunch of awesome friends. We basically spent the long weekend hanging out and playing lots of games - including a midnight game of New Year's Kubb. Robb & Edie were awesome hosts in their spacious new house, and it was great to get to see Jerry, Amanda and Stacey again. Plus Llama and Tim were there, which always makes for entertainment. :) I've got some pics of the festivities up on facebook.

I've finished compiling most of my favorite photos from 2009 (and the ones that I think are "good" from a technical perspective), and have created a home for them on my Gallery page.

On a more musical note (ha!), I'm still not sure whether I'm going to make another attempt at completing RPM this year. I really *want* to, as I've been upgrading some hardware & software in my "studio", have been helping Steve record some tracks, have been streamlining my approach to the recording process and have learned quite a bit regarding the enhancement of the quality of the tracks I put down... ...unfortunately, when it comes to actual material to record, I am all but completely dry atm. I've been trying to come up with some stuff for the last week or so (albeit, pretty sporadically), but haven't had any luck. If I can come up with a few likely tracks before Feb 1, I'll probably give it a go... ...otherwise, I may sit out this year.

In other news, I'm trying to work out some scheduling get my gaming group(s) back together after the chaos the holidays generally bring regarding this hobby. I've been working on my Mouse Guard campaign, which I'm excited about. I'm intending to pick up a few other games reasonably soon as well and I'm hoping to run and/or play with some greater-than-usual variety this year.


~PS

Easing into the Holidays

Wednesday December 9, 2009 at 1:34pm holidays, birthdays, friends, music, recording, anime, video games, gaming Comments (0) »

The holidays are fast approaching, but this year hasn't become as hectic (yet) as years past.

We have our vacation time planned out now - we'll be gone to the IN/OH area from the afternoon of the 20th through the 28th. We'll get to go to christmas parties on both sides of my extended family this year, which will be cool. Still need to finalize some details - like when to meet up with some people and who might be able to take care of Ally.

Other stuff (in no real order):

The Social Theory class I had been sitting in on came to a close, which is kinda sad. I was enjoying that. Dr. Beck took us out for lunch on Dec 1st - this was a reward for the class's good grades and they invited me to come along for fun. I brought them cookies on the last day of class. They were a little abnormal in terms of shape & consistency, but tasty.

Our friend Steve has moved back into the area, and it's been fun trying to catch up with him a bit. We've been talking a bit about music & recording and he wants to get back into a little tabletop gaming too. I've set part of my recording 'studio' up and have been playing a bit with Addictive Drums and AmpliTube. I've been looking at electronic drum kits again too.

We're planning what should be a fun new-years-eve party at the Hippie Hut Mk. II, though we are very sad that our EP & co. will not be able to make it. :(

Yesterday was Sheri's birthday. We went to the crazy tomato and then to best buy to buy a movie. We ended up getting Evangelion:1.01 - the first of 4 feature-length movies which are to be a retelling of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. It was pretty faithful to the original. On the downside, I doubt the next one will come out before next christmas.
Also, for one of her birthday presents, I got her Super Mario Wii, which she was very excited about. :) We played a couple levels of that too - it's hugely entertaining.

Still haven't got to playtest my new roleplaying system, but hopefully soon.

~PS

Entering the Lull - Don't Blink or You'll Miss It

Sunday November 29, 2009 at 3:00pm thanksgiving, christmas, holidays, relaxing Comments (1) »

So here I sit at the end of the thanksgiving weekend. A few days of not having to do much of anything were nice. It's been a while since I've had that kind of time to relax. I think it did me quite a bit of good. I'm thankful for it.

We had a tasty thanksgiving meal, played quite a bit of Age of Empires II and Ticket to Ride, helped set up Skype for Sheri's mom and my parents (and enjoyed chatting with them over it), moved some furniture in the livingroom around and then put up our christmas tree & other decorations. We've also reached the time of year when Sheri will generally be insisting Christmas music be played a rather large percentage of the time.

The next week or two compose what I've come to know as the 'lull': a (too) brief period between the busyness at thanksgiving and the busyness leading up to christmas. It's generally a good kind of "busy" for us, but there's not quite enough time to relax in my opinion.

Currently I'm at our church, as is typical of a sunday afternoon. I've just sent out some invitations to a sort-of birthday party thing for Sheri and I - basically, we just wanted another excuse to play some games with our awesome friends. I hope people can come, I know it's a busy time of year. I'm also preparing to send out a couple of gaming-related emails. Sheri was telling me yesterday how she's been wanting to play. It's been quite a while, but there's been a lot going on. Alas, it'll probably have to wait till 2k10.

We're still trying to work out some of the final details regarding our trip up to IN this christmas. I'm looking forward to it.

~PS

The View from Thanksgiving, 2009

Thursday November 26, 2009 at 12:43pm thanksgiving Comments (0) »

I'm currently sitting on the couch in the livingroom with my laptop, feet propped on our little round ottoman, watching Ally nap in the warm sun which is brightly streaming in through our large, bay window on this mild autumn day, and hearing Sheri preparing tasty food in the kitchen (where I really ought to be helping her) - some faint aromas of which are starting to drift toward my position.

I'd say I'm thankful.

I make a concerted effort to be thankful all the time, actually.

I remind myself fairly often that, with respect to the other several billion people that live on this planet, my life is most likely in the upper 90% in terms of what can be considered "good".

I'm thankful most especially for Sheri (who's wonderful :)) and all my awesome family and friends (because you *are* awesome), but also for having a job that i love and that pays the bills (and for the turkey currently in the oven), for our cozy little house, for our adorable Ally, and for my variety of hobbies that keep me creative and entertained.

Sure, there's things I still wish after (some of those desires more petty than others) and a number of troubles or concerns like anyone has, but I have a lot to enjoy.

I'm thankful.

~PS

Thanksgaming 2009

Monday November 9, 2009 at 10:52am thanksgaming, gaming Comments (1) »
Thanksgaming 2009 Image

Since my project for work is starting to hurt my brain, I'm opting to take a short break to talk about our awesome weekend.

Thanksgaming was our second mini-gaming-convention hosted by our friend Rucht. As with RuchtCon, the general idea was this: invite all your gaming friends over (both local & out-of-towners), everyone votes on what to play, the chosen games are assigned to gaming 'slots', and people sign up for what they want to play.

This mini-con began at 8pm on friday the 6th with Pathfinder and 3:16.

Pathfinder is basically D&D 3.75. It's a little different from 3.5ed, but it's not 4e. My understanding is that it was basically devised by some people who weren't too fond of 4e and decided they'd rather continue 3.5 with a few changes. It was quite a fun game. It's been a long time since I've had a chance to *play* D&D, and I got to play dwarven cleric (a race/class combo I'm particularly fond of). The game does show a bit of inherent power creep over standard 3.5 (which can be viewed by cynics as a bit of a shameless attempt to get players to like it), but many of the rule changes do help the game in a more objective way. Personally, I'm still satisfied with 3.5, but this game was also fun and played very similarly. I do like the flavor of Pathfinder, which tends to expand D&D conventions.

As an aside, I discovered I really like the way Rucht does minis - which is much more like battletech: he doesn't use a grid, he just sets up the scene on the table, and then uses a tape measure to determine distances. This way, you don't have to worry about "diagonals" and other unnatural-feeling grid phenomena.

While we were playing Pathfinder, the other group was playing 3:16, which is, from what I understand, a simple space shoot-em-up rpg. Each player only has two stats: Fighting and Non-Fighting. Everyone who played it said it was lots of fun. I'd like to try it sometime. I like simple games.

The con resumed at noon on Saturday. This is when I ran my Mouse Guard session. That was lots of fun. The scenario I'd made was to take them into the Darkheather before the war of 1149 to destroy a weasel weapon. They were so into their characters, the world and roleplaying interactions that they barely even made it *to* the Darkheather, let alone found the 'weapon' they were sent to destroy. Despite the fact that they only had one conflict (a journey/storm conflict) and didn't even get to fight a single weasel, they all had a great time with the game and I had a great time running it.

The other noon session was for Zombie Apocalypse. This was actually one of a few zombie-based games that were played (others between sessions). I'm much less a fan of zombies than many of those present. I don't really know much about this one, unfortunately.

Saturday evening's games were Cartoon Action Hour and Spirit of the Century.

Spirit of the Century was *great* and Matt did a great job running it. I want this game. It's very simple, heavy on roleplaying, and exceptionally fun to play. It is basically a steampunk/pulp game which emphasizes overly-archetypal characters and over-the-top stunts, actions and dialogue. We all had a blast.

Doug's Cartoon Action Hour was a game based on 80's action cartoon characters ala He-man. Players were essentially playing through such an episode, complete with all the mayhem, crazy antics and amazing cheese.

On Sunday I was supposed to run a session of the system I've been working on for the last year or so. Unfortunately, half of my group had to leave Sunday morning, so we ended up joining Robb's Werewolf game. As it turns out, it was just as well. I'd been re-engineering large parts of the setting for the last week and wasn't entirely sure I was ready to present it. I'm kind of glad I have some more time. I'm close though.

Robb's Werewolf game was a lot of fun but, like RuchtCon's session, we didn't get very far into the story (for a variety of reasons). I keep telling him he should run an ongoing game so we'd actually get to play through it.


The weekend was a lot of fun. It was awesome to get to hang out with so many cool people and play so many fun games. I'm already looking forward to next time... ...which is hopefully reasonably soon...


~PS

World-systems, Moving Hippies, Singing RPGs

Wednesday October 28, 2009 at 1:05pm social theory, friends, moving, chorale, concerts, gaming Comments (0) »

...or something.

It's been a while since a blog has happened. Only a few things to report from the interim.

Got to talk about Wallerstein in Dr. Beck's social theory class. That was fun. I think I might have been a little too long-winded though.

Helped the Hippies move into their new house. It's a lot bigger and nicer than the other place they were renting (which was much too small for them). We're all really excited for them. They're still in the process of finishing that move & getting settled, but I think they're most of the way there.

Sheri had a Chorale concert last saturday night, before which we went out to dinner with Patrick & Stacy. It was a fun time - got to hang out with some friends and hear the choir sing.

Been working really hard on stuff for Thanksgaming. I think/hope my stuff will be ready by then. I think it will, but I still have a lot to do.

~PS

Really...?

Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 11:40am spam, video games, family, golf, food, photography, gaming Comments (6) »

Every once in a while, I see something in spam that makes me laugh. I just received this little gem:

Dear user of the penguinsushi.com mailing service!

We are informing you that because of the security upgrade of the mailing service your mailbox (shoe@penguinsushi.com) settings were changed. In order to apply the new set of settings click on the following link:

http://penguinsushi.com/owa/service_directory/settings.php?email=shoe@penguinsushi.com&from=penguinsushi.com&fromname=shoe

Best regards, penguinsushi.com Technical Support.


This makes no sense on several levels, not the least of which is that it's basically claiming to be from *me*.

The link, of course, while claiming to point to a non-existent folder on my server, in fact points to another server entirely where they had hoped to lure me for some reason.


EDIT: This just in: spam for russian hunting videos (*in* russian) is a new one on me...



In other news...

Not too much has gone on the last couple of weeks. Our friends have mostly been busy lately, so we haven't done much that's particularly interesting or fun. We *have* played a fair bit of Lego Star Wars.

My mom did come through on her way to see my sister in Columbia, SC. She stopped over tuesday night and again on her way back on saturday. We got to go play a little golf and had a good time talking. We also went to Five Guys for the first time (it just opened up here in JC), and have decided (like several of our friends) that they are probably the best burger place ever.

My photo show at WAPC came down on thursday (also, i've been playing with my new 50mm prime a lot), almost bought a riding mower on saturday (still waiting to see if they get back with us), Thanksgaming (RuchtCon II) is coming up soon (and I've got a fair amount of work to do for it) and I've been comparing wide-angle lenses on my photography wish list.


~PS

What passes for 'Vacation'

Saturday September 26, 2009 at 10:22am birthdays, trips, vacation, family, weddings, friends Comments (0) »

Picking up from where I left off last time, Patrick's birthday party was a lot of fun. A group of us met up at a Japanese/Sushi place for dinner and then headed back to his place for cake and general hanging out. I had a good time playing with my new camera lens as it let me take a lot of pictures of those in attendance without the need (or distraction of) a flash.

And that, I guess, brings me to Ben's wedding and our trip to AR - which was our most recent 'vacation'. We have found that the past few years, we really haven't had much of a vacation to ourselves - our vacation time is invariably spent visiting family since they all live so far away that we have to plan it out and take about a week to make it worth the trip. Not that we don't enjoy visiting our families - because we really do - but we'd kind of like to work in our own vacation at some point.

So anyway, we headed out to AR on friday the 18th. Ben & Brie's wedding was on saturday the 19th which, it should be noted, is also 'Talk Like A Pirate' day (note that I *did* talk like a pirate a bit, but found it's not nearly as much fun around people that don't get it) Ben had asked me to take some pictures at his wedding, which I was happy to do since it meant I had an excuse to play with my camera. The wedding was at 6pm and outdoors. The lighting was pretty decent beforehand, through the ceremony and most of the way through the reception, but around the time of the cutting of the cake, I was losing too much light - even for a 1.4 aperture. Still, I think I got a lot of good stuff for him. The 'official' photographer used a flash for all of her pictures, so I believe our photos will have very different looks to them, which, together with the fact that I took more informal shots, might make mine seem less redundant.

The rest of our visit in AR was mostly hanging out with Sheri's parents and playing cards. We did go out to a park on monday to go heron watching, which was cool. We also went up to the visitor's center by the dam where I took some pictures of the flower garden they have as well as some in their little museum (again enjoying the ability to take pictures of things inside without a flash).

Wednesday was our drive home, which took forever and I was completely exhausted and getting a little bit of a sinus infection (which still hasn't completely gone away) by the time we arrived home. Sheri has been reading some Anne McCaffrey books to me on our various trips this year - this time some in the 'talent' series. I think we made it through a book and a half on this trip.

Thursday was officially 'recovery' day. I did very little except fight a sinus infection and veg.

Yesterday was the only day off I had that I personally count as 100% vacation (as opposed to merely not having to work). Robb took us out to Asheville to hang out in the downtown area. We'd heard good things about downtown Asheville from various locals (most recently, Dr. Beck whom we randomly ran into in a Burger King as we headed that way), but we'd never been to it (intentionally). It's a nice little area with some amusing shops. There's a lot more life there than in downtown JC, that's for sure. We had a good time hanging out, looking around, perusing the shops, etc. We had a tasty dinner at a little Irish(ish) pub called Jack in the Wood which had a nice atmosphere and friendly people. They even had a mural in the restroom which depicted a scroll with a poem about the forest.

Anyway, after dinner we headed over to the Civic Center for our original purpose for being in Asheville - which was to see the Decemberists concert. I'm gonna make that it's own post.

So now it's Saturday and my 'vacation' is winding down. Again, I really need to mow, but it's extremely wet and rainy outside and that doesn't work out so well with the push mower. I can't tell you how heart broken I am not to be mowing right now... ...though when I'm finally able to do it I'll wish I'd been able to do it sooner...

~PS

Photo Shows and New Arrivals

Saturday September 12, 2009 at 10:46am photography, shows, friends, munchkins, camera, birthdays Comments (3) »
Photo Shows and New Arrivals Image

Well, my photography show "opened" at WAPC yesterday evening. Some of my friends were there to show some support and hang out: Robb, Edie and Llama came and so did Larry and Kris Rosolina...and of course Sheri was there :). There were also a fair number of people from Watauga as well - some of who I had met, and some whom I hadn't. Lots of people said they really liked my pictures, which was cool. Larry and Kris suggested I look into putting some of my work into next year's regional fair or possibly some other kind of photography show. I'll have to think about that - it sounds interesting.

I think I'll put up an online version of the gallery at some point - with the photos I chose and their names (which I had a lot of fun with and got several compliments on specifically). The gallery has a lot of still-lifes, a few landscapes, some pets, some small children and one or two other random shots.


Anyway, while we were hanging out there, our friends Ginger and William Galaini became parents of little Liam Ross. We've seen some pictures already (this expediency is one of the many reasons I'm such a fan of the internet and digital cameras! :)) and he shows signs of extreme cuteness and being one with the Force. As far as we know, Ginger and the munchkin are doing ok, but that's mostly because we haven't heard otherwise...I hope that gets confirmed soon.


Not much else of note has transpired. I did get some new stuff for my camera on friday : an extra battery (needed), a cable release (yay for tripod stuff), a lens hood (say no to flare) and, most importantly, a shiny new lens. At $400 it was the least expensive of the ones on my list. It's a 50mm prime with a 1.4 maximum aperture. It's intended uses are for low-light/indoor, fine depth-of-field and portraits. I'm still getting used to exactly how narrow the depth of field is at 1.4 on a 50mm lens only a few feet from the subject - like different-parts-of-peoples-faces-being-in-and-out-of-focus kind of narrow. Still learning on it and continuing to enjoy playing with it though.


Tonight we're going to a friend's birthday party. That should be fun times. :)


Nothing else to report here. Carry on.


~PS

The View from Labor Day '09

Monday September 7, 2009 at 3:55pm sociology, milligan, photography, music, gaming, concerts Comments (0) »
The View from Labor Day '09 Image

Ah, yes. A holiday. This basically means I slept in (more). We haven't done a whole lot today. We did take Ally to walk around Sycamore Shoals - and she actually voluntarily jumped into the river!! So...maybe it's not the water that makes her dislike baths? It was quite hilarious...

Anyway...


I feel like I've been busy lately, but my calendar seems to disagree.


I've been trying to read some sociology lately. Dr. Beck, one of my favorite professors from Milligan, told me earlier in the summer when we were chatting at a Milligan picnic that if I ever wanted to sit in on any of her classes, I'd be welcome to. I responded by warning her that if she offered such an invitation, I would, in fact, show up. So ever since the semester started a couple weeks ago, I've been trying to make it to her Social Theory class on my lunch break on tuesdays and thursdays. I bring my laptop along and sit in on the discussions whilst going about my normal work - this is one of the great things about having a job like mine: I can pretty much work from anywhere I can get a 'net connection.

It has been very interesting. I've found that I miss having to think critically to understand things. While my job is very stimulating and requires a lot of creative thinking, it's far less taxing than reading Durkheim.


I got a call a while back from Sue Shanks at WAPC who asked me if I'd put up some of my pictures in Watauga's Gallery / Coffeehouse (Just Coffee) for about a month. I told her that sounded like fun, and since then I've gone through and selected about 25 of my pictures to get prints of and then mount in some mats and frames (where available/affordable). I've been getting the pictures printed as 8x10's, which necessitates some cropping since the aspect ratio of my camera's frame isn't the same as 8x10. For this and other reasons, I think some of my pictures look better on my computer screen than in the frames, but many of them look wonderful and I'm excited to have some hard copies and to get to share them. I've been working on getting them set up and thinking up interesting names for them (I like naming things). After the show, I'll probably end up giving quite a few of them away to people that want them.

The "show" officially "opens" this Friday, September 11th around 8pm 7pm at Watauga Avenue Presbyterian Church in the gallery downstairs. I'll be hanging out there most of evening. If you're reading this, you should come hang out with me, play some games, listen to some music (no salsa, I promise) and look at some pictures.


I've been playing my electric guitar quite a bit, but haven't done much with the band in the last couple of weeks.


On the gaming front, We had a very enjoyable second Mouse Guard session last night. As I've mentioned before, I'm finding that I'm needing to tweak a few rules to my liking, but overall I love the game immensely.

I've also been enjoying Patrick's Star Wars game quite a bit - last time, we found ourselves sucked into a Bonanza episode, and actually, it was quite awesome.

I've made a little more progress on my developing rp system, but I tend to go back-and-forth on a lot of things.


Sheri and I are making plans to head to AR for Ben's wedding in a couple of weeks and then, after that, we have tickets to go see the Decemberists in Asheville on the 25th!!!


~PS

Quick Blurbs

Sunday August 23, 2009 at 4:38pm friends, food, gaming, video games Comments (0) »

Not too much going on, just a few things to put down.

Had a great time at the Hippie Hut yesterday. We had a cookout with quite a few friends, played a couple of fun games (Red Dragon Inn and the always-favorite Apples to Apples) and generally had a good time hanging out. Sheri and I have discovered that we officially don't count as "company" anymore - meaning when we arrived early, we got to help clean up a little for later arrivals. Heh. We were glad to help.

Trying to work on some game and story content for a few different projects. Not sure how well it's going, but it's going. What I'm trying to do with some of it is a little different than anything i've tried before (I may elaborate on that later). In related news, I'm also looking forward to continuing our Mouse Guard game, whenever we can.

Of the fifty-something online matches i've now played on QuakeLive, I have 2 wins. That sounds pretty bad, but I'm actually a little proud of it. I've only played free-for-all, and it's really hard to come in 1st of everyone in the arena. Most of the time, I'm somewhere squarely in the middle, and usually 20ish points behind the leader.

~PS

Jam Sessions, Heroic Rodents and One Hundred Yards to the Pin

Sunday August 16, 2009 at 3:01pm band, gaming, golf, trips, concerts Comments (1) »

You know, if i remembered to do this more often, I wouldn't have to cover eight things in one post... ...though I might have fewer nonsense titles, and I would miss that...

Anyway...

It seems i've been pretty busy over the last couple of weeks - though not with anything particularly important, mind you.

The band we're starting seems to be taking off nicely. We had our third practice last tuesday, and I thought it went pretty well. We're having a good time. Mahto actually joined us for that one. It was fun to have him around, but I think the sound got a little muddy with three guitars. I'm not entirely sure if it was just volume/eq or if we need to have a clearer conception of our respective guitar "parts" or possibly a combination of both. Anyway, I think our next practice is tentatively scheduled for wednesday, and I'm looking forward to some more jamming.

We *finally* got to start our Mouse Guard campaign friday evening, which I'm very excited about. It was a fun is slightly shorter session. I still feel a little awkward with the system as, unlike the d&d i've been playing/running for nine years, I don't always remember all the basic mechanics off the top of my head. I'm sure that will smooth out as we go though. I'm looking forward to continuing this game, and I hope we can get to be somewhat regular as I think that would help us as we learn the system.

I got to play golf for the second time this year yesterday. Our church helps sponsor the East TN Children's Home benefit tournament at the Elizabethton Golf Course each year, and so two of us get to go play in it. They asked me if I'd like to play and, after telling them I wasn't sure they wanted someone as lousy as me representing them (heh), I said I'd love to. Tracy Moore and I did pretty well, finishing up at +1. Of course, that was pretty much all him, but I will take credit for a few shots, most of which were chips and putts but they ended up saving us some pars and birdies. It was a good time, though it was pretty hot and I did get a nice sunburn.


A vague look ahead...

Well, my calendar looks kind of empty for the short run as of this moment, but it'll probably end up filling in too fast. Next month we'll be taking some time to go out to AR for Ben's (sheri's brother) wedding, causing us to miss yet another Talk Like A Pirate party. There's also a Decemberists concert the next week that I might be trying to go to, another small GitP gathering (with munchkins!) that I'd like to attend (though it kinda looks unlikely :() in october and then, further out at the beginning of november, we'll be enjoying having Thanksgaming - which will be another mini-gaming-convention much like RuchtCon for some of our gamer friends. I'm hoping run Mouse Guard (because everyone should get to try that game) and/or my homebrew system (because I think it will be fun and I'd like to see how it flows... ...but I haven't heard much interest in it as yet :\) for this. If I do get to run something, I'm glad I have a few months to prepare this time.


~PS

We're back

We're back Image

As some have commented, not too many knew we ever left. Probably because it was the sort of trip that was difficult to be real "excited" (and therefore talk much) about.

Last friday Sheri and I headed up to IN. The main reason for the trip was to go to the memorial service for her grandmother, who passed away back in april. As you might expect, it was a nice, if somewhat sad, time.

We spent some time with some of sheri's dad's family - for the first time, really. Stanley and Bonnie were hosting us as well as sheri's parents for the weekend. They were really nice and fun to chat with and we ended up talking with them for quite a while after her parents left on monday.

We also got to meet Ben's fiance. She seems nice, if quite shy. It was kind of a shame we didn't get more of a chance to hang out.

We also stopped in on my parents for about a day, which was great. We played some games and talked and generally had a good time.

While we were there, a rather significant storm system came through tuesday morning that resulted in flooding, power loss and downed trees. the downed trees resulted in a bit of a wet adventure as we tried to make it back to their house from lunch.

And, as I try to do each time I go to IN, I had Noble Roman's pizza and breadsticks. Tasty.

I put a few pictures from the trip up in the Gallery - mostly pictures of scenery and small children.


On some other stuff:

About a week ago we had the 3rd session for Little Fears (session synopsis on the gaming page soon). It went so-so. It was a little slow and certain elements didn't manifest quite the way I'd hoped, but it was alright. Hopefully next session will be a little more satisfying.

Last thursday we (me, robb, josh & bill) had our second band practice. Improvement from the previous session was 100%, not that that first practice wasn't great. That was the most fun I've had playing guitar in 5 years or more. :) Right now we're just doing cover songs, but we've talked briefly about maybe trying to write some stuff. We've also talked about possibly playing some small local shows once we get good and solid. We're planning to get together tomorrow for more fun. On a related note, I should be getting an eq to run my amp through soon.

~PS

Movies, Music and Mice

Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 12:52pm friends, movies, guitar, band, gaming Comments (1) »

I've had a few things going on the last couple of weeks, but not much worthy of recording or reporting.


About a week ago we took the Gamers II movie over to Rucht & McKenna's house so they could see it, and Tony joined us as well. It was a good time. I think McKenna was laughing so hard she was crying. (aside: If you're a roleplayer, you should really see the Dead Gentlemen's movies 'The Gamers' and 'The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising'.)


Last saturday we went over to Robb & Edie's to hang out for a while. Robb, Josh and I hung out on the porch playing guitar while Robb was starting one of his brewing projects. At some point we got to talking about going to Josh's house to play with his dad, Bill, who is a drummer, so on sunday we met up at Bill's place and jammed hard for a few hours. That was a lot of fun. I've played with Robb a bit and with Josh once and we'd never played with Bill. For our first time getting together, we sounded great. I really don't think it will take much work for us to sound quite good. *With* a lot of work, I think we could sound pretty awesome. We're trying to make plans to get together again soon.


I've been working on my Mouse Guard campaign quite a bit. We finally got to get together to make characters last night. We didn't have time to really get started on the game itself, but we had fun and I think the players have come up with some really cool ideas. I really like how character creation works in this system. Hopefully we'll get to actually start the game soon, but, unfortunately, it probably won't be for a couple of weeks.


In other news, we *still* need to get out and ride our bikes. It seems like something always comes up whenever we think we might try to go out.


~PS

Keep It Flowing

Friday July 3, 2009 at 11:27am jeep repair, gaming Comments (0) »

Well, we finally got the jeep to the mechanics on wednesday for a replacement fuel pump. So far it seems to be behaving - but, even though i was 99% convinced this was the problem, it'll take a week or so with no problems before i'm convinced.


About the only other things to report are gaming-related.

I finally got to run Mouse Guard! Granted it was just an intro session using one of the sample missions (though i did add a bit to it) and characters, but still, i'm just glad we finally got to play.

This game is going to be a lot of fun. I *love* the setting and 99% of the mechanics, though I did house-rule something out from the start: I don't like the "turns" system. It seems too arbitrary, railroaded and limiting. Basically, the way it reads, is that the GM gets a "turn" where the players deal with all the stuff he/she has planned. Then the players get a "turn" where they can do certain things. There are certain things that the players can't do during the GM's turn (no matter how much sense it would make for them to do it then), and vice-versa. I also don't like the "checks" system that goes with this - where the players spend "checks" that they've accumulated during the GM's "turn" to do things on their "turn": if you don't have a checks, you can't initiate things. It could be that i'm misreading it, or maybe it's not meant to be as set in stone as it seems to be presented, but I just don't like how these aspects read so i'm not using them.

In the game's defense on this matter, my thought is that this game isn't actually written for roleplayers - it seems to be written assuming the players have never played a tabletop rpg before. I think it's just trying to give very clear and definite guidelines so that both the players and the GM know what to do when in a more concrete way - via the "turns" - as opposed to a more abstract flow where the characters can do things "when it makes sense" or "when they have downtime" or in other, more narrative but less definitive conditions.

Aside from this relatively minor game-flow-based complaint (which was pretty easy to house-rule out), I really like the system a lot and I'm really looking forward to an ongoing Mouse Guard game. :) The plan for next session is for the players to actually make their own characters for our campaign.


In other gaming news, my system has been tabled again. I think the game was solid the way it was, but I had an epiphany at about 6am the other day for a change that would result in a game I *like* more. I now just need to work out exactly how i want a couple of related aspects to work. Basically I'm finding out that I like abstract/descriptive/narrative terms better than numbers: I think I'm now trying to make a system that is based on numbers as little as possible. As I was saying to Robb last night, I'd rather have a character in a game who was "Very Strong" and to get a certain advantage for possessing that "trait" than to have a character with a high, numerical strength "score". It's just more intuitive and descriptive.

So yeah, back to game design. I'll get something I'm happy with some day I'm sure ;)... ...and it'll probably only take another 13 mind-changes...


~PS

A Quick Note

Friday June 26, 2009 at 12:41pm friends, gaming, gitp meetup Comments (0) »

Friday, June 26th, lunchtime -

Had a great time with the Rosolinas at dinner on wednesday. They're lots of fun - i wish our schedules would let us get together with them more often.

Worked on gaming project a little more, changed some things, hoping to playtest soon.

House clean, Ally had a bath, am eating lunch and finishing up some work.

2009 SET GITP Meet-up is very nearly underway. Some people are already in town, others are heading this way.

More later.

~PS

Gaming Projects, etc

Monday June 22, 2009 at 10:22am gaming, video games, music Comments (0) »
Gaming Projects, etc Image

So I just looked at my calendar for last week, and, apart from work, it's completely empty... ...yet, I feel like I've been very busy somehow.

Apart from the Little Fears session (which was awesome :)) we had at the beginning of this month and the Star Wars game I've joined, we haven't gamed in like two months. Yes, I realize that sounds dumb (ala, "aside from this gaming, I haven't gamed at all"). I guess what I really mean to say is that, due to massive scheduling conflicts, both of my normal, weekend gaming groups have been out of commission for a while. Since April 25th, to be exact.

I'd probably be feeling more severe withdraw symptoms, but I've been using the interim to work on my new gaming system. It's currently composed of about 15 pages of rules and examples plus some prototype character sheets. I also bought about $10 worth of glass pebbles to be used as various markers/tokens for this system. It's pretty much ready to playtest at this point and now that the foundation is laid, I'm about ready to move on to writing some setting stuff. The system itself is designed to be setting-independent, so my options for setting design are pretty much limitless. :)

Once the game reaches Beta (that is, once I've had a chance to playtest it for a few sessions), I intend to post everything in its own little corner of my site. I'm really excited about this thing. Some of you know I've designed systems before, but they've all been very informal and not terribly complete - which is to say, once i started fleshing them out, I abandoned the concepts because they weren't going to work as well as I'd like. This one, on the other hand, has proven to be exactly what I wanted, it has been reasonably well documented and has been developed and tweaked over the course of the last year or more. I feel like it has really solidified - and, most importantly, has remained true to its root philosophies (more on that at a later date).


In other gaming news, I'm still very much looking forward to the Mouse Guard game. I actually got the last issue in the current series (Winter 1152) yesterday, and it's quite good. I previously hadn't thought much about Mouse Guard in a while because, as I said, the group has been unable to meet to play the game and I've been working on other projects. Hopefully (reasonably) soon.


On a different gaming note, over the last week, I've begun and nearly completed the original NES Metroid which I downloaded for my Wii. I even got as far as destroying Mother Brain, but was unable to get out before it exploded (possibly because I thought I had to go back out the way I came in). It's been fun, if occasionally frustrating. After I finally beat it, I think i'll see about getting the SNES Super Metroid.


On a not-at-all-gaming note, The songwriting/music part of my brain has been occasionally bouncing some ideas around as well. I really need to start doing some writing for next year's RPM...


~PS

On a Variety of Recent Activities

Sunday June 14, 2009 at 4:39pm weddings, trips, friends, churches, songwriting, music, gitp, gaming Comments (7) »

Sheri, Llama and I took a trip out to North Carolina this weekend to attend our friend Kevin's wedding. It was a nice little ceremony. We're all very happy for them. Stephanie is sweet, and well suited to Kevin in a number of ways. It was good to see him so obviously happy too.

I must confess a bit of mild camera-gear-envy with respect to the photographers' toys. Also, there was a penguin cake at the reception, which was cool.

We got to see some other mutual friends there too - William and Ginger and Mike and Bethany. It's always good to see people we don't get to hang out with much (esp. Ginger who just moved away from us). We spent saturday afternoon and evening hanging out and playing games with Ginger and William. It was a lot of fun - we don't play games as much as we used to.

The car ride was a bit long, and I think Llama was starting to get a little loopy by 2am when we got home, but the trip was successfully completed.

This morning we went to Hopwood Christian Church. We had originally thought we were still going to be in NC this morning and so had arranged for Sheri to have this morning off at our church, but we ended up coming home saturday night and so decided to visit somewhere else. It was nice, actually. Jim Street had a great message about how to bless a fish (heh), and it was probably the most thought-provoking message i've heard in a while - and one that I truly thought embodies the spirit of christianity. We saw the Rosolinas (who we're still trying to have over for dinner sometime) there and also Brian West and his family (who i hadn't had a chance to talk much to in a while). Brian and Danielle invited us over for lunch, and we ended up hanging out and talking for a quite a while.

Brian is trying to get motivated to record some of his songs, and I think this is a great idea. He's been writing for a long time, and he's really into it - but most of his stuff just gets left on the page after it's written and he doesn't have any really good sounding recordings of any of it. We had a lengthy and interesting talk about the technical and artistic aspects of songwriting and recording. I really hope he does something with this. I've even offered to help with the technical stuff which intimidates him a little - not because i'm great, but because i've at least done it before. Maybe it'll get him started.

Tonight we're supposed to have a planning meeting for OotsCon '09. Our crowd this year looks a little smaller and some key people will be missing (and they will be missed), but some *other* people are able to make it this year. Hopefully it will be as successful as it's been the last two years. It's really not about the numbers, it's about the fun - there were only 13 11 of us at the first OotsCon back in '07. Hopefully we'll be able to get our plans ironed out.

My homebrew gaming system has reached Alpha status. I have just a couple more mechanical aspects to iron out, and then the first round of playtesting will begin with whoever i can get to help me out with this. I've discussed the theory of the system at some length with Sheri and Tony, and they both seemed to think it has some potential. It is definitely a bit different in its root philosophy from the games like D&D that we're used to - but I personally think these differences are a *good* thing. At whatever point the system reaches Beta, I'll be posting some more detailed info on it.


~PS

Blue Plum, etc

Blue Plum, etc Image

This weekend was Johnson City's annual Blue Plum Festival. Basically, it's a weekend event that takes over downtown JC the first weekend in June. I did, in fact, see some people selling(?) plums, but they were pretty sparse. Mostly it's a bunch of crafts/vendor booths, tons of festival food, and three stages spaced just far enough apart that they don't overlap acoustically (too much).

This was the first year that I would say we've "gone" to the festival. We went and walked around a little a couple years ago, but didn't do or see much - but that was largely ok since it was about 97 degrees. This year, we met up with some friends and enjoyed an afternoon of meandering around together - and I was having a good time taking some pictures. We also met up with some other friends of Robb & Edie's and also with Mahto and some of his buddies so that by the time we had dinner at Mid City, we were a rather sizable group (aside: we still have to get together with Steven for a game of Munchkin).

After our tasty dinner, we went back to a particular stage to see a band called Cutthroat Shamrock. They had been compared by some friends of mine to groups like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. They are basically an Irish-flavored punk group. I wouldn't say they were amazing, but it was a good show: they all played their instruments well and had good stage presence and personality. About the only "critique" i would give is that most of their songs had the same kind of sound. It was a *good* sound, there just wasn't much variety. Still, i think a couple of friends picked up a couple of their records, and i liked them enough to be interested in hearing some more.

Some pictures of the Blue Plum are up in the Gallery.

(kinda) Speaking of, i'm looking into possibly picking up my music hobby again sometime soon for some song writing (maybe for next year's rpm).

In gaming news: I finally got to continue my Little Fears game from RuchtCon! I love this game, and i've greatly enjoyed coming up with spooky stuff to put in it...though after i've been working on it, I find i'm a little edgy at night. I think I empathize a little too much with the children in the story. Anyway, If you've taken a look at the Gaming page recently, you've seen the novel of a session summary i've written up for it.

Still looking to start up Mouse Guard, but it probably won't happen until next month, due to scheduling.

Also, i'm working on finalizing (finally) the simple mechanics for the homebrew roleplaying system (which still needs a name) that i've been working on for the past...too long.

The 3rd Annual GitP Southeast Trogland meetup is fast approaching. We've had several people cancel on us unfortunately, but we're still expecting a decent crowd and fun times. That'll be 26th-28th of this month.

Played the zombie-killing board game Last Night On Earth for the first time on friday. Despite dying in the first 5 minutes, it was pretty fun. It seems pretty much straight-up die rolling players-vs-zombies though, as, apart from trying to get some 'hero cards' (w/ items or special actions) to play, there really isn't much else you can do - and strategy seems to generally boil down to "do we want to be together, or separate?" Answer: together.
Anyway, post-game thoughts: 1) The Sheriff sucks. Yes, i know he's the only character that gets to start with a gun. You know what? He sucks with that gun. He forgets to load it and, even if he has some, he can't hit the broad side of a zombie. 2) If you are the priest, do whatever you can to get the pitchfork. Yes, I know that doesn't make sense, but the priest can't use guns. I (somehow) killed like 8 zombies with the pitchfork. It felt ridiculous, though awesome. 3) In theory (statistically), it's much easier to kill a zombie with a gun than with something like the pitchfork. In practice: yeah right.

As for the Wii, i'm currently addicted to Excite Truck - a stunt-racing game Rucht gave us for christmas. It has a bunch of unlockable stuff, and it's capable of some pretty impressive crashes. Sheri's kind of good at this game, but mostly she just sucks really, really well.

Wanting to go ride our bikes, but we're waiting for Sheri's ankle (which she hurt a while back) to be (more) fully recovered.

~PS

Weekend with Parents: Golf, Plumbing, Waterfalls

Sunday May 31, 2009 at 9:05pm family, home repairs, golf, hiking, photography Comments (4) »
Weekend with Parents: Golf, Plumbing, Waterfalls Image

Well, my parents were in this weekend - it's always cool to have them. They don't make it down here enough, really... ...and we don't make it up to IN much either.

After they arrived on friday, we went out to play some golf. I played only using 5, 7 and 9 irons and a putter. I have discovered this does not negatively impact my game - in fact, I think it makes it a bit better overall. I've decided i'm not cool enough to use other clubs, so i'm gonna stick with these for a while. Or, as Jody put it, I haven't "unlocked" the other clubs yet. I think I need to reach 200 good shots with the 5 before I unlock the 2 iron...

I think my dad fixes something every time he comes to see us. This time, it was a leak in the shower dripping into the basement... ...oh, and also our outside water spigot which seems to have developed a tradition of freezing and breaking every year, no matter what I do to prevent this. We think it's good this time though. Probably.

On saturday, we gave dad an early fathers' day present. It was a picture frame. He'd said he wanted a print of one of my photographs so I decided I'd let him pick one. Well, we got to talking and he said he really liked several of them, but asked if I had a picture of the creek from the Laurel Falls trail (which we'd hiked earlier this week on Memorial Day), but with smoother (aka "fuzzy") water. I said no, but that I could. I'd wanted to go back there anyway, since we had some trouble finding part of the trail last time. This, in turn, spawned an expedition.

The four of us (dad, mom, me and Sheri) went out to the Laurel Falls trail again with the intention of me taking a particular photo. We waited till mid-afternoon (so that by the time we got there it would be late afternoon), and then headed out to the trail. I took quite a few more pictures this time - including some slow-exposures with a tripod (which i didn't have with me on monday). I got some pretty awesome shots, I think.

We ended up hiking the whole trail which, contrary to what i'd previously heard, isn't really any easier than the upper trail: it's difficulty is just a bit more spread out (as opposed to being incredibly rough at the end). On average, I'd say the two trails are comparable.

Aside from Sheri's ankle (which has been sore for a while), it was a good time. I've recompiled the pictures that I took on monday and added the new ones to the collection in the Gallery. Dad ended up choosing the wider shot of the falls for his frame, though we got prints of two others as well (since he couldn't pick just one).

They headed back to IN this afternoon. Back to the normal routine.

~PS

Quite a Week

Tuesday May 26, 2009 at 12:23pm milligan, gaming, friends, moving, holidays, hiking, bicycles Comments (8) »

This last week has been pretty crazy. A lot of out-of-the-ordinary has gone on. This is really 3 or 4 blogs in one - and is mostly just a 'state of the penguin' address.

Last Tuesday, Sheri and I went to Milligan's faculty/staff picnic - which was open to "many" part-time employees this year (the wording of the invitation email left something to be desired). It was actually pretty cool. I knew quite a few people there and got to talk to some I didn't know so well. I also got to talk to Dr. Beck for a little while, which was cool. She was one of my Sociology profs at Milligan and one of my favorite professors overall. She told me i could sit in on one of her classes if I want sometime - which I'll probably do if i can find one at a time that doesn't conflict with other stuff too much.

Last Thursday I got to join Patrick's Star Wars game. I've generally enjoyed the Star Wars games i've played in before and the rules for the new system are fairly simple (which i like). It was a lot of fun and i'm looking forward to continuing it in a couple of weeks.

On Friday, Kevin and Steph (his fiance) came into town, along with Mike and Bethany (some friends we don't get to see much). The girls all went out to have a sort of bachelorette party for Ginger and Mike, Kevin and I went to see a (decidedly mediocre) movie.

After that, we all met up again to throw Kevin in the creek at Milligan around midnight. That might require a little explanation for some of you. Apparently Milligan has a "tradition" wherein guys who become engaged at Milligan are thrown into the creek by their buddies. The triggers for this operation have since been blurred to include Milligan alumni as well, so Ginger and Steph decided Kevin was fair game. I've personally always thought this tradition was dumb, and strikes me as locker-room behavior. (Sidenote: When I proposed to Sheri, I made it quite clear to some friends that this would not be happening - or, if it did, people would be physically harmed in the process and we might not all consider each other friends afterward. I have found that being physically forced into something I don't want is one of the few things that will trigger a violent reaction from me. I am very thankful they respected my wishes here.) Everyone else, however, seems to think this is great, and as long as all involved are reasonably amenable, it doesn't inherently bother me. The only reason I was involved, however, was because Ginger asked me to take pictures, which I did. Those have been posted in the Gallery :)

Saturday was moving day for Ginger. A bunch of us descended upon her apartment and possessions and spent the hours between 10am and 4pm (more or less) packing up stuff and loading it in a u-haul. After that we all went out to Mid-City Grill and had a good time relaxing and talking after a tiring afternoon. Unfortunately then we had to say some goodbyes, which sucked. I think things will be a little better for her up in VA, but we all miss Ginger a lot. Hopefully we'll get to see her from time to time. It's not the same when someone's missing.

Sunday was "recovery day" from the late nights and monumental-packing done earlier in the weekend. We went to church, but beyond that we didn't do very much. I briefly considered mowing the lawn, but decided against it (in part due to rain). That'll probably get done today.

Yesterday was Memorial Day, so we had an extra day off. In order to take advantage of the warm holiday, we decided to go hiking. The weather threatened to rain us out, but we decided to go anyway. We went out to the lower entrance to Laurel Falls and hiked around there for a while. Due to some trickiness in the trail, we never actually *found* said falls. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. At a certain point, none of us could find the trail and, given its location perched above the creek, I was disinclined to mess around too much since I had my camera. We talked to some people later who explained it to us and we think we know where it is now. We still had a great time and I got some good pictures, which have been posted in the Gallery.

After the hiking we grilled some hot dogs and then Sheri and I went into town and ended up buying some bicycles. Before that sounds totally random, let me give you some background:
Some time ago, we decided the 5th Anniversary is the Bicycle Anniversary and so we decided we'd get some bicycles as anniversary presents for each other. Sheri had said she wanted to get them before our actual anniversary because by the time we get to late July, a lot of the good cycling weather for the year is behind us - so we'd been looking around. We initially looked at Dick's Sporting Goods, but most of those seemed really expensive and we didn't really need anything amazingly cool. We also looked at walmart (though I was/am disinclined to buy a bicycle from them), target and even toys-r-us - just trying to see what was available and to evaluate some prices. So yesterday, we decided to go to the mall for something completely different - something we'd never actually end up doing, as it turns out.
We entered through Dick's (as we usually do) and decided to go look at the bikes again - just for fun. We ended up finding a couple that weren't much more expensive than one's we'd priced elsewhere and this was actually the first time Sheri found one she really liked. So after quite a bit of discussion, we decided to go ahead and get them.
I'm glad we ended up buying from an actual sporting goods place. The guy there was able to answer some questions and when we'd decided to buy something, he went over everything (gear changers, brakes, tire pressure, etc) on both of them, making sure everything was working smoothly and correctly and in good condition. IMO, this was worth the $20 price difference.
So we're excited about this. We know of a few places around here that will be lots of fun to go and ride (which will be practical once we have a carrying rack - getting them home last night was *possible*, but not pretty) and i'm sure there are quite a few others.

So now we're sort-of back to the usual grind - but not completely. It'll be a short week for me as I'm taking this Friday off since my parents are coming into town this weekend... ...so we'll be getting ready for that this week. That'll be fun too.

~PS

Still More Evidence

Friday May 15, 2009 at 9:33am gaming, rants Comments (6) »

...that D&D is going in a direction I don't like. It could just be that I'm unfairly biased against 4e (which i probably am) and so tend to look down on a lot of their marketing - and maybe i misinterpret things - but some things just rub me the wrong way. And I also know it's more what you *do* with it than what they tell you to do with it, but still. Often, I overlook such things, but when something strikes me as blatantly as this, I feel somehow compelled to respond - at least to myself.

On Penny Arcade, I just saw a banner ad which read:

If you want to play this guy [picture of mini], you pick up this box [picture of mini in packaging] /cut. tag: Play the character you want. Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1. Logo: Dungeons & Dragons. Subtext: Never Split The Party


Problems I have with this (these are actually all inter-related, but they break down into 3 broad points):

1) Product == fun (ala tabletop minis games, ccg's, etc). "If you want to play this guy, you pick up this box". One of the biggest strengths of the roleplaying hobby is that it doesn't require spending lots of money. The books are typically expensive, but really, while it's good for all the players to have a players book, a group really only *needs* one (I played for several months before I had any gaming books[/uphillbothways]). Here, it's telling me that I'll need something *else* to play their game, or at least to play it the "right" way. Oh, and so will all my friends. Oh, and the GM will probably need a bunch of these things to depict npc's, etc.

2) Stifle Creativity (ala video games). "Play the character you want. Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1". What? The game is meant to have a near-infinite number of character possibilities. Do they also have a near-infinite number of miniatures to depict all possible combinations and styles? Doubtful. No, these are minis depicting the iconic characters from the books. What happened the the creativity of coming up with your *own* stuff? Now i'm expected to pick something from a store shelf to be "my" character? It's one thing to try to go find a mini that looks like your character because you *want* to - it's quite another to say "this guy looks cool, I think i'll play him".

3) Encourage Poor Roleplaying / Winning Is What Matters (ala mmorpgs) - "Never Split The Party". Ok, I know a lot of players who live by this mantra, but I personally hate it. Not because it's tactically unsound (which is generally their reasoning), but because it's unrealistic. No matter how much your characters like each other, sooner or later they're going to have things they want or need to do by themselves. It's one thing when you're in some cursed dungeon, it's quite another when you're in town or somewhere your characters would not expect trouble (even if the players are). The whole "Never split the party" idea makes me want to force them to roleplay bathroom breaks and then send a rabid krenshar after some character peeing in the woods. The players in my games are usually pretty good about this, but that's because most of them are there to roleplay, not simply "defeat" the challenges presented.

Ok, I'm done.

~PS

Why is it...

...that i can mash the button on the jeep's clicker for five minutes and it will not unlock for anything, but i can then hand it to Sheri and she'll push the button once and, click, it works...???

Research is currently underway to determine if this is also related to the Pickle Jar Phenomenon.

And now, the news (in no particular order):

Getting new tires on the jeep tomorrow. Yay rah exciting, i know, but it needs done.

We played catch in our backyard today. This seems random, and it is, but Sheri had been saying for a couple years that we should get some ball gloves and baseball and play catch because it would be fun. We had a couple of walmart gift cards, and it seemed an amusing thing to spend them on.

I think the last of Hikaru's current computer problems has been isolated and (somewhat) solved. I love my computers... ...when they work.

Had a great time jamming at the Hippie Hut yesterday. I think we're still one band member short, but it's going pretty well.

Continuing to go over the Mouse Guard rules and trying to get one of the current D&D story arcs wrapped up so i can put it on the back burner for a while in the interest of something new.

Been looking over some camera lenses and reviews of them. I know i want a long telephoto, a super-wide-angle and a wide-aperture prime (probably 50mm), but i keep going back-and-forth regarding exactly which ones i'm after. Oh well, i've got time.

Had a going away party for Ginger last weekend - which she almost missed ;). I think we had a dozen people or so. I took a few pictures - but didn't get too many before my flash batteries died. I hadn't thought about bringing the camera until right before we left and at that point i didn't have time to charge them. Anyway, we had a bit of a cookout and then sat around and talked for a good while. Later we played a game of Apples to Apples, which is always fun. It was a good time. We're going to miss Ginger a lot. :(

~PS

Shut your grog hole

Saturday May 9, 2009 at 12:31pm gaming, computer repair Comments (0) »

First off, had a great time playing Pirates' Cove last night. It's a fun game that I believe lives up to the Days of Wonder name with such greats as Ticket to Ride and Shadows over Camelot.

Secondly, I finally got the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game book. Like i've mentioned before, i tried to order it through Mt. Empire Comics because I know the guy who runs the place and thought i'd help him out... ...but apparently he had some trouble getting it and so i resorted to Books-a-Million (partly because i was tired of waiting, and partly because if it *was* getting to be hard to come by, I wanted to get it while i knew i could). Anyway, it looks awesome. I've read the whole thing once and several parts of it two or three times. I'm nearly ready to do something with it.

Thirdly, I still want to continue my Little Fears game from RuchtCon. I even went on amazon.com to see if i could find the book. I did. Starting at about $60. I should point out it's a rather small and flimsy softcover with innumerable typos - not exactly the kind of thing i'd consider spending that much on. Thing is, it's out of print. Luckily, i really don't *need* the book to run the game and Rucht has a copy of it if we find we do. I have learned, however, that as of February Little Fears: Nightmare Edition is in progress yet again. Apparently it's been a long time in coming as it was announced in 2006. I also read on the Little Fears Yahoo newsgroup yesterday that the author's production computer is in the shop (I feel his pain). If and when this finally gets published, i plan to pick it up. Hopefully for considerably than $60.

On a quasi-related note, my iMac is still in the shop, but i'm hoping to get it back soon. I'm pretty satisfied with how my macbook has risen to the challenge of being my primary work machine, but it's not a good desktop replacement.

~PS

Random Stuff, pt. XXIV

Monday April 6, 2009 at 12:39pm video games, food, friends, comics, gaming, house Comments (3) »

Finally went to Thunderdome last night. Pretty cool place. We watched some guy beat Force Unleashed on a giant projector screen, played Apples to Apples and ate some tasty food.

The weather yesterday was awesome and we had a bit of a picnic at the Linear Trail park in Erwin. Due to the fact that there's only one picnic table in the area we went to, we ended up having lunch with a random couple. They were nice and fun to talk to. They lived in Alaska for a few years, which i thought was cool. Yay for meeting random people.

Went to John's on saturday to see if my MouseGuard stuff had come in yet. Still hasn't - apparently it's on back-order and some of it's hard to get. He did have a couple issues I didn't have though, so i picked those up (which was kind of nice - the last few times i've been in there it's been 'walk in, ask about stuff, walk out'). Actually, i misread the back of one and so accidentally bought one i already had... ...so Llama got to inherit it. Still much looking forward to getting the roleplaying book. :-D

Had a gaming session on friday night, which i think was good despite several of us being tired (and some occasionally nodding off...heh). The "plot" at this point is pretty open because i wanted to put the players into a situation where they have to decide what to do about the circumstances. This isn't bad, but it's less straight-forward and usually results in the players having to weigh lots of options and so it can move kind of slowly at times. I think they're doing well with it though.
I'm also really trying to get to a few plot points before Ginger moves... ...we'll miss her a lot...

On some house stuff: mowing season has begun, and it's already getting ahead of me. We had a pretty impressive storm the other night and the basement stayed dry - looks like my sealing job around the font doorjamb worked well. Oh, and i unclogged the sink which had been draining ridiculously slowly for a while.

I've been addicted to Super Paper Mario lately - I started it about a week ago and i've now played it enough to pass Ginger and Tony in the plot (though Tony's still a few levels above me - he's been working on the Flopside Pit of 100 Trials). It's a very fun game... ...and since Sheri won't let me play Okami...


~PS

Mid-March Pt. II - RuchtCon '09, etc

Monday March 23, 2009 at 8:52pm gaming, ruchtcon Comments (0) »

So this last weekend was RuchtCon '09 - our own little gaming convention in honor of our friend Rucht's birthday. Festivities formally started friday afternoon and went till sunday at about 6pm. It went down a little like this:

The first official 'slot' began at 9pm on Friday night. This was when i ran my Little Fears game. That was awesome. I was a little worried going in since i'd been a little sick for the previous days and also hadn't had quite as much prep time as I might have liked (largely due to VBS), but I would say it went as well as it possibly could - aside from some drowsiness on our part toward the end of the session.
The game was incredibly fun. The system is very, very simple but plays very well. The players all did a fantastic job of getting into their roles as children - which they all seemed to enjoy immensely. I think my story came off just about exactly as dark as I wanted it to, and it seemed to me that the session did a great job of portraying the quintessence of the game.
I would definitely be interested in running some more of this, perhaps beginning with the resolution to this scenario - which we weren't able to finish.

The other table on Friday was ran by Patrick doing his Star Wars game. I obviously wasn't able to play in it (unfortunately) so there's not much I can say about it, but Sheri said it was a lot of fun.

On saturday afternoon Rucht ran his 40k Dark Heresy game while some of the rest of us decided to play board games.
Specifically, we decided to learn to play Talisman - a Fantasy Flight game that my mom (yes, really) got me for Christmas last year. This presented a fairly major challenge as 1) none of us actually knew how to play the game and 2) the game is (now) put out by Fantasy Flight - a game company that's notorious for amazingly complex games. *Good* games mind you, but complex ones.
It took us about an hour to get through the rules and setup. The game really isn't that hard, but when you're trying to understand it with absolutely zero foreknowledge and using only the rulebook, things take a little while. Once we got going, it went pretty fast. We didn't actually finish it, but we got to the final phases. I thought it was a pretty cool game. I look forward to playing it again - when i don't have to be constantly trying to figure out what we're doing.

Saturday night was the first session of Rucht's Witch Hunter game and also Robb's Werewolf game. I had opted to play in Robb's game. Granted I haven't played whitewolf in quite a while (except Exalted), but the new edition seems to have streamlined some things. We didn't actually make it very far into the story, but it was still a very enjoyable game. We got to do a bit of roleplaying (though i think i was feeling a little off), a bit of combat, and all of us got to use our respective character's niche strengths.

Sunday morning was still technically part of the Con, but it was pretty informal - i think those who were present played the Battlestar Galactica board game. The official sunday afternoon slot was another session of Rucht's Witch Hunter game.
I was really looking forward to this. I'd heard great things about the system, and it was particularly cool to get to play under one of the game designers (for those who don't know, this is a game that Rucht actually helped design). I mean, that has to be the most authentic experience, right?
This game was lots of fun. It's a solid system - similar to whitewolf in some ways, but considerably different in others. Also, it has some very interesting mechanics. The premise for the world and the game is very detailed and interesting as well and the modules Rucht ran were excellent narratives. I'd love to play some more of this - esp if Rucht wanted to run a campaign at some point. That would be awesome.


In addition to all the fun games, we had tasty snacks, plenty of great people, and just a generally great time hanging out. A fantastic way to spend a weekend. Some of us have definite intentions of putting something like this together again sometime - and have even talked a little about what we might do the same and/or differently.


~PS

RuchtCon '09 Progress Update

Sunday March 8, 2009 at 5:20pm gaming Comments (2) »

I've read the Little Fears rulebook completely more than twice and have reviewed/studied several sections. There are actually some pretty gaping holes in the game. Some of that is intentional - there are actually places in the book that say 'boiling this concept down to crude mechanics wouldn't do it justice'... ...which is all well and good, but i wouldn't have minded some suggested examples as to how said concept may be implemented. The focus of the game is much more on storytelling and much less on mechanics - which is not a bad thing, but when you're trying to figure out how a game *works*, it's a bit of a challenge. Basically, i've had to invent a few things for my own purposes (which it seems to encourage you to do) - something i generally don't mind doing anyway.

I have created 5 player characters, complete with expanded descriptions/backgrounds. I'm hoping to find out soon how many players i'll have (and who they are) so i can make sure i have a character (of the right gender) for everyone.

I've got the rudiments of the general plot constructed. I'm trying to make it mysterious, yet still able to be exposed within a single gaming session - which is going to be a bit difficult.

After i get that duct-taped in place (you never want to actually nail down this stuff...), the next step is planning how i expect or want the actual gaming session to progress. This is a rather delicate task - to give the players enough direction without railroading them.

I've got the better part of two weeks to finish. I hope this all manifests as cool as it seems in my head.

~PS

A Blog Resumption, Pt. II: Gaming

Sunday March 1, 2009 at 11:29pm gaming, comics, long freakin post Comments (11) »

My gaming hobby has made a rather sharp resurgence of late - though not in the way it normally does.

As some of you know, whenever i start talking about my hobbies, i ramble. This is likely to be exceptionally long-winded. I'm not sorry, but i *am* sorry that i'm not sorry.

It all started when formal planning for RuchtCon '09 began. For any who might not know, RuchtCon was conceived by a friend of ours (Rucht) who wanted to have a miniature gaming convention for his birthday. This is to be held on the third weekend of this month, whereon we will spend ridiculous hours playing rpgs as well as board and video games. It's a *fantastic* idea and i wish i'd thought of it. When planning began, Rucht asked for volunteers for people to run games for his mini-con. Of course i volunteered immediately.

My plan was to (finally) introduce the fantasy version of the Roman Colosseum i've been devising for some time now. It was to be a massive-scale, morphing encounter with multiple goals that would require wits as well as strength and also an ability to please onlookers - which could grant you boons or hindrances in the arena.

However, my game was but one of perhaps a dozen rpg's mentioned for potential playing. When i saw the survey Rucht sent out, i was sure there was just too much gaming goodness to fit into a single weekend. I decided to check a bunch of stuff i'd never played before, but that looked really cool - to sort of sample the field, as it were.

When i noticed several of the new games didn't have a designated GM, i was quick to offer to fill in such a gap if necessary, assuming i could get a sourcebook - because really, i'm a GM at heart. I love to play these kinds of games, but I enjoy running them even more. Coming up with my own stories and getting to have my friends bring them to life is my favorite part of the roleplaying hobby.

Exhibit A
I also mentioned in my reply that one of the games on the list marked as GM-less seemed particularly interesting to me: it was a game called Little Fears.

Basically, Little Fears is a kind of horror/fairy-tale kind of game where all of the characters are children, and all of the things kids are afraid of (things that go 'bump' in the night, the monsters in the closet and under the bed, the bogeyman, etc) are all very, very real. The concept just fascinates me.

Apparently, most of those attending RuchtCon shared a similar mindset to mine - wanting to try new things. It seems that my plain 'ol D&D game didn't really generate much interest in the face of so much new potential awesomeness. While part of me still wants to run that game at some point, I'm much more excited about what we're going to be playing now...

Since my original offering didn't get much interest and i had offered to run something - and specifically mentioned Little Fears - Rucht asked if I would pick it up and run it for them. I was completely thrilled to accept the challenge and picked up the book from him the next day (saturday morning). In the less-than-36-hours since then, i've read the rulebook cover-to-cover, reviewed several sections and have the broad outline of a scenario to present in my head. I'm looking forward to continuing work on it. The game seems really cool. Lots of potential.

There were several other games on the list that seemed potentially awesome as well - games that i think i could really get into. All this kinda got me to thinking: basically, we only play D&D. I guess it's because it's a system we all know, and fantasy roleplaying comes pretty easy to most of us. Still, seeing all the other games and reading their descriptions got me thinking - maybe it's time to branch out. *GASP*. I know.

Don't get me wrong, i still love D&D (well, version 3.5 anyway. in fact, we had a *great* session last night) and i'll always be willing to have a game of it running... ...i'd just like to pick up some new stuff as well. Kind of the 'keep old friends, but make new ones too' idea...

Anyway, we happened to go to a few different bookstores on friday (strangely enough), so i made a point to go peruse the adventure gaming sections therein (...as if that wasn't what i'd have been doing anyway...) to see what i could see.

Exhibit B
At Mr. K's I ran into Rem (who i hadn't seen in a while) and had a nice chat with him about some random games. He mentioned one to me that sounded interesting and I later found and leafed through it at Barnes & Noble: White Wolf's new edition of Hunter - this time called 'The Vigil'. (most of their games are titled 'Something: The Something Else'. Heh.).

Hunter: The Vigil is basically about people who have somehow discovered the demons and monsters that lurk in the shadows of our everyday lives and are driven to combat them and otherwise rid the world of them. It's like a pretty cool game - and the new edition looks particularly good. If i was going to do a modern game, it would probably be something like this. I decided i might be interested in picking it up at some point.

Exhibit C
At Books-a-Million though, i ran into something that was truly awesome. Probably the coolest thing i've seen all year. In their (rather pathetic excuse for an) adventure game section, i saw a lone rulebook for an rpg called Mouse Guard. The cover of the book shows a large array of mice in various fantasy-esque costumes. I picked it up and stared at it in disbelief for a full minute. Mouse. Guard. It's mice. Fantasy mice. Mice struggling valiantly to survive against owls and weasels and all manner of other predators. It was like LOTR meets the Mouse and the Motorcycle. Actually, it reminded me a lot of Redwall. And Reepicheep.

I started flipping through the book. The whole thing was beautifully illustrated and the game seemed really cool and relatively simple (I like simple). I made up my mind then and there that I will have this game, and I will run it.

Still, like most rp books, it was a tad expensive - about $35. I figured i'd look it up on amazon.com, since it would certainly be cheaper there. Amazon did indeed have it for about $23, but more importantly, amazon led me to discover something else about it: it's based on a comic series of the same name.

Now, I don't read comic books (or "graphic novels") - it's just not something i'm into... ...but the game just looked so awesome i decided this was something i needed to check out - just to see what it's all about.

Saturday morning (while sheri was at choir practice) I went into John's (Mt. Empire Comics on Road St.), since llama told me he had some of the Mouse Guard stuff. No one else was there, so i started talking to John when i came in and asked him about it. He showed me where it was & said it looked pretty cool. I told him I was gonna leaf through a couple, just to check 'em out.

At this point, i had pretty much decided i just wanted to get a feel for the world and the characters to know what it was intended to be... ...but if it wasn't the sort of thing i envisioned after looking through the rp book, i was already preparing in my mind to reinvent it for the purposes of the game i was determined to buy and run. To my surprise, however, the world and characters were exactly the kind of thing I'd envisioned - and i loved it. I actually bought 4 issues. So i guess i've been sucked into a comic now...

(I found out later, however, that the issues i bought were kind of in the middle of a story (even though they were at the beginning of a series)... ...so i need to go pick up the 6 that precede them before i'll *really* know what's going on beyond simple context deduction. Luckily, there are only a total of 11 issues in existence right now (12 is due in april, i think), so i should be able to pick up all of them from the beginning without spending too much)

Now i'm even more excited about the game, and i had John order the roleplaying book for me. (I had previously planned to get it for cheaper off amazon, but John's a good guy and his store is a nice place. I'll pay a bit more to support him, you know?)

Exhibit D
Finally, I'm starting to pick up some of my homebrew stuff again. It all has a *long* way to go, but i've started kicking around ideas again and trying to come up with the worlds' foundations. If and when they get significantly further along, i'm sure i'll have more posted on them (as i've said before)... ...but these tend to be picked up and put down a lot (for some reason)....so they're likely to be a long time in coming.

Also, i'm still waiting on Robb to pick up his Exalted game again... ...i have shiny new dice for it and everything... ;)


...so many games, so little time...


~PS

A Blog Resumption, Pt. I: General Updates

Sunday March 1, 2009 at 8:05pm trips, health issues, music, recording, just coffee Comments (0) »

So, it would seem that i've neglected the poor blog for a while. I've got a couple-few things to mention, but i'm gonna break 'em up into separate posts for thematic reasons.

Ok, so first off: returing from AR - since i was still there at last posting. I must say, i'm loving the macbook & having a computer with a battery life long enough to actually use some of the wifi hotspot around (it gives be 4.5 - 5 hours on a charge - not too shabby).

So, we stayed in AR for a little over a week so sheri could help her mom with her recovery from surgery. Last I heard she's doing alright regarding all that, but did find out she'll need chemo which is upsetting to her. Still, she's doing her best to get through all of this. Sheri's grandma is in the hospital again as of now, so health issues in the family seem to be on a disheartening rise. :( This year's been pretty arduous overall so far, unfortunately...

Partially due to the trip, but mostly due to a startling and irritating lack of inspiration (and not for lack of *hours* of trying), i didn't get very far on this year's RPM. I have most of two songs recorded - and only one of them is actually new (the second is an old song that i decided i'd finally put down). My closet soundbooth does a good job though and it was worth constructing - now if i could only come up with something to record. Erg. I'll have the new stuff put up in the music section after i've finished mastering the second song.

We went to the coffeehouse again a couple weeks back, which was fun. I got to take some pictures and play Wii on a giant projector screen. Good times.

We have VBS (for which i'm slated to do A/V stuff and photography) as well as a trip up to OH coming up this month...as well as some other stuff to be mentioned in the following entry...

Anyway, I think that's about all for this one...

~PS

Remote Updates

Tuesday February 10, 2009 at 6:12pm trips, family, health, surgery, internet Comments (0) »

Well, we're still hanging out in AR. Sheri's mom had her surgery on friday and seems to be recovering fairly well, if a bit slowly. She has her ups and down, but it's my impression she's doing a little better each day. All things considered, I think things are going as well as can be expected, if not exactly as well as we might have hoped.

We're still not sure exactly when we'll be heading back, but our original plan of leaving tomorrow morning has been postponed and it's likely to be thursday at the earliest and it could well be later.

This has all put a bit of damper on my recording project for the month, but real life happens. I did bring my guitar, but haven't had a chance to play it much as being quiet has been necessary for most of the day so far.

Actually, i haven't done much besides play AoE III and Neverwinter Nights. See, I seem to be stuck in a bit of an internet black hole - perhaps mostly due to the massive ice storm that was through this area recently. So... ...I haven't been able to do much work or play on the 'net. I've stopped in at a hardees for dinner once that had an open wifi, and i'm at the house of some friends of sheri's parents now to do some general email checking and work out some minor issues on some projects for work.

Don't think there's much else to report now.

~PS

Weekly Penguin Report

Sunday February 1, 2009 at 3:08pm music, recording, gaming, friends, family, health, trips Comments (4) »

So today's the first day of february and RPM - sadly, i'm in Erwin for most of the day and can't do much in the way of recording. I *can* however, work on some preliminary stuff now that I have a macbook, which i'll be starting in a bit. 27 more days. Deep breath...

Had two great gaming sessions this weekend. Sadly, one of the games is losing a player. I will admit slightly shrinking that group is not all bad (6 players is a little past my 'ideal'), but we'll miss having Nick around for the next year. The other group had a good time with session #2 last night. I'm enjoying the progressing stories and interactions for both games immensely, each in its own way.

We got to see Bart & Sarah's baby Joe today - he's 9 days old. And quite adorable.

In more serious/troubling news, we discovered this week that a tumor Sheri's mom had removed was malignant and that she'll be having more surgery soon. We're beginning to make some initial preparations for a trip out to AR to be with her and the rest of the family for that, but we're not sure exactly when it will be as yet. We're also a little concerned about the weather, since they've had a really bad ice storm and a large part of the region has been declare a disaster area and is without power and a little short on other provisions.

I think that's everything on the list for now...

~PS

Recording Preparations & Llamabration '09

Monday January 26, 2009 at 11:40am music, recording, friends, birthdays, parties Comments (2) »

Only two noteworthy things to mention here this week. And they're completely unrelated.

The first is that last week I started making preparations for this year's RPM challenge. Basically, i've been setting up my "studio". In the interest of improving the "tightness" of my recorded tracks (particularly the vocals) i've decided to turn the office closet into a sort of recording booth. I've cleared it out completely and lined most of the inside of it with foam from a cheap mattress pad. I've also moved in my guitar amp and the mic/soundboard setup that will run into my macbook for recording.

I spent a good chunk of time friday night and saturday afternoon doing sound checks with various instruments and vocals. It's sounding pretty good. Now I need to spend the next week writing.

***

On saturday we had "The Party Man Was Not Meant To Plan". This was Tony's birthday party. He apparently requested a Cthulu theme. We had all kinds of impressive unspeakable snacks and played some Lovecraftian horror games - namely Arkham Horror and Cthulu 500 (though we did have several others to choose from). And, of course, no horror experience would truly be complete for our Llama without some pink elephants. Hehe. It was a good time. I took quite a few pictures, the best of which are in the Llamabration 09 gallery.

~PS

Weekend Fun & Games

Sunday January 18, 2009 at 8:55pm gaming, movies, video games Comments (2) »

Just a couple of things to mention about the weekend:

After the holiday hiatus, we got back into gaming in a big way this weekend.

First, we continued my long-time-running game with session #23 on friday night. That game has been running for about 14 months now, and for the most part i'm still pretty into it. The weight of continuity is a little difficult to deal with at times, but overall the story s progressing pretty fluidly and it continues to be fun.

The game got off to a bit of a late start and was only a couple hours, but it was still a good session I think. Whilst we were waiting for the last players to arrive, we had Robb & Edie watch the Gamers - sadly, i don't think they were as amused by it as I am. Heh.

I also started a new game on saturday for a couple of players who haven't had the chance to game in a while. It was intended to be a pretty simple straightforward game - and for the most part it is - but I discovered that even simple and episodic plots and adventures seem very involved very quickly when you start mapping out how and why things happen. I've also put a lot of work into the particular corner of the setting they're in, the people that inhabit it and some histories that lead to some current adventures. Also a good session.

Today was a bit odd for a sunday - church was canceled due to ice on the roads. It's been really cold the last few days, and last night there was some pretty nasty sleet and stuff... ...so instead of being in Erwin all day, we've been hanging out here playing some video games & other random stuff. Most notably, Sheri has started Okami - a Wii game I got her for christmas. I haven't really got to play it yet, but it looks really cool. I think she likes it, though it occasionally frustrates her. In any case, she's been playing it for a couple hours now - so it can't be too bad. :) I also got a bit further in Mario Galaxy (which Sheri got *me* for christmas) and she was helping me find secret stars and collect star bits. In other, related news - Ginger, Sheri and Tony have all started games of Super Paper Mario (which my sister got us for christmas - it was a good year for wii games), which has to be the most bizarre Mario game to date. I've yet to dive into that insanity. Heh.

~PS

The staff picture i've always wanted

Wednesday December 17, 2008 at 1:07pm photos, penguins Comments (2) »
The staff picture i've always wanted Image

This is part of a screenshot I took of our company's new site design while it was still in the testing phase.

Matt told me that if I didn't get him a staff picture to put up soon, he was going to do something drastic. Unfortunately, this wasn't exactly the motivator he might have hoped for. In fact, I would have preferred this image to be left in place.

:-)

It should be noted that the staff page currently has pictures of all of us from when we were kids. Why? Why not.


~PS

Good Sessions, Upcoming Holidays, etc

Saturday November 8, 2008 at 11:36am gas, gaming, birthdays Comments (0) »

I'm currently sitting in our church's sanctuary while Sheri directs here choir practice. I had to get up at 8:30 on a saturday. Blah. Also, my left leg hurts for some unknown reason. Yeah, yeah. Complain, complain.

Anyway, gas is down to $1.99/gal here in Erwin. As I've previously declared, I stop complaining about it when it drops below $2.


One of the reasons I so disliked getting up at 8:30 this morning so much is because we had a rather late gaming session last night (not that i would have wanted to get up that early on a saturday *anyway*). The party wound up in a rather large and somewhat pivotal combat and we didn't want to break off in the middle of that. It was worth staying up for though.

As it turned out, we only had 4/6 of our players last night. We *thought* we were going to have 5/6, but another player had a minor crisis to attend to and had to bow out at the last minute. Since the rest of us were there already and wanted to game, and since 4 is a decent number, we decided to play anyway. I generally don't like to play with more than one player absent, but the way scheduling gets with a 6-player game, I'm starting to think the options are accept some absences when necessary, or just don't play - and the lower the acceptable number of players, the more likely it'll happen. I'm completely open to suggestions from the player on this (as always), but i may lower my 'gaming threshold' to 4 players in the interest of actually playing. When there's a month between sessions, i tend to get out of 'the groove' and it usually takes me an hour or so into the session just to get back in tune with the world & what's going on...and when you're only meeting once a month(ish) for a few hours, you don't get very far when your gm is constantly 'loading'...

Despite the fact that we missed a couple of players (and we *did* miss them), I think it was a good session. The party accomplished something important, we laughed at a lot of in-game jokes, and all the players seemed to be enjoying the game. Even Nick commented that the last, monumental encounter had been particularly interesting & fun - and that meant a lot to me. I have a lot of fun coming up with interesting/intricate/bizarre scenarios for the players to encounter & deal with, but my biggest goal is always to make sure the players enjoy the game. When they really seem to be having fun in a session, it's a success. I consider myself to be a good gm, and i think my game and the world is interesting, believable, and fun to play in - and i do take some amount of pride in it - but some of the players are harder to read than others and I can't always tell if they're really into it. Sessions like last night's are good ones. :-)


As for today - we have some errands to run after this choir practice wraps up, and then we're heading over to Nick's where he's going to make us all some burgers for *his* birthday. Apparently, he insisted on this. I'm not gonna complain. I think the plan is to spend the evening playing board games. :-)

We've now officially entered the Season of Celebrations - we have a ton of birthdays interspersed with the upcoming holidays. Very busy time of year, but in a good way overall.


~PS

Random Company & Steamnerf

Sunday October 19, 2008 at 4:14pm friends, nerf, gaming Comments (0) »

So we randomly had a 'net friend in town for a couple of days at the end of last week. Midnight Son stopped through as part of his massive, cross-country biker trip and we all had a great time hanging out with him again. He's a great guy - hopefully he'll be able to make it to the 2009 SE GitP Meetup Extravaganza.

As was alluded to in the comments of the last entry, a good chunk of friday was spent modding nerf guns. The Hippie brought his over along with some power tools, and with that and what we had at the Igloo, we made some standard mods to the guns and also primed & painted them to give 'em a kind of steampunk feel. They are looking *great*. Yesterday I got some clear-coat to seal mine once i've decided i'm done with it (and once i get a day with less than 70% humidity).

Had some good gaming earlier this week and looking forward to some more tonight. Speaking of which, I've got mayhem that needs planning.

Later,

~PS

The view from the end of summer

Saturday October 4, 2008 at 6:57pm church, food, festivals, gaming, projects Comments (0) »

Summer has faded into fall just a bit. The weather has been awesome the last week or so - highs in the 60's & 70's. A little rain, but for the most part, beautiful. I love this time of year.

Not too much has been going on here since we got back from vacation. Just kinda getting back into the normal subroutines - so this post is pretty much just that.

Last saturday was our church's 'Block Party' event. Basically, we had food and music and were trying to get to know some random people in the community. I had quite a bit of fun taking pictures of the band. I think it went pretty well despite being relocated when it started to rain.

A few of us went to the new(ish) german restaurant in downtown JC last night. It was quite tasty, though i wasn't nearly hungry enough for the amount of sandwich i got. I thought the building itself was pretty cool - it was a corner lot of a downtown building complex(? what do you call that?) that had a kind of loft (where we sat) and a west-facing window that caught a lot of the setting sun. Our waiter was really friendly and knew what he was doing. They even had live music - a german vocalist accompanied by an accordion. It all kind of sounded the same (to me, anyway), but it was at least interesting and different. It was a pretty cool place all around i think, though i have to say the hostesses' uniforms were trying a bit too hard... ...in at least a couple of different ways.

Today was the second day of the Apple Festival in Erwin. We went out to help with our church's fundraiser - in which they let people park in the lot for said festival for $5. I think it went pretty well and raised a fair amount of money for the youth group. We walked around the festival a bit after too. I took a few pictures of the mayhem. I got a bit really sunburned through all this too.

Speaking of church, i've been trying to put together the beginnings of a website for them. Again. They've been wanting to do this forever, but, well, our church just takes a longer time getting around to certain things than other people might... ...so i thought i'd put something together and we can all go from there (instead of waiting for people to get around to giving me info).

I did notice one kind of funny thing while we were out there today: A few teenage kids were walking down the street toward the festival, and they happened upon the spot where I had parked the jeep. They stopped, and I noticed one of the kids point at the D&D sticker in my back window. I'm not sure whether they were saying "hey, look at this loser" or "who in Erwin plays d&d?" or what, but it was kind of amusing to witness.

Speaking of gaming, our last session was about a week ago. It was a good one, though almost all combat. A few things happened (or didn't happen) that may have some unforeseen consequences next session or later. That game is approaching the 1-year mark, and it continues to be very enjoyable.

I've been trying to get some work done on my gaming project. I've made significant progress and it continues to get more and more interesting, but I still have a *long* way to go. I've contemplated setting a sort of deadline for myself to help motivate me... ...though i'm not sure if that would be good or bad for the creative process.

I've been listening to commentaries on dvds i have while i work (and/or do other stuff at my desk) a lot lately. I've found that amusing/random dialog is an enjoyable acoustic background - esp when i'm here by myself. In particular, i've been listening to the ones on the Red vs Blue dvds quite a bit, as i really enjoy the creativity that went into that project. I would totally try to do something machinimish if i could think of something truly original. It would probably suck, but i think the experience of learning to do some video editing/production would be cool. I haven't done any of that since high school, and the technology has completely morphed since then.

Sheri and I have been trying to think of some christmas presents for people. This is mostly Sheri's doing, as i probably wouldn't be thinking about this for another month & a half. We're coming up a little short on ideas, but we've got one or two. And at least some time.

So anyway, that's where my stream-of-consciousness ends.

~PS

Game Development - Phase 1.9

Sunday September 14, 2008 at 11:21pm gaming systems Comments (0) »

Ok, so i really wanted a codename for this - something that would be cool and in some way symbolic, but not overly trite or pretentious. I wanted said codename for three basic reasons:

1. Because i'm just enough of a geek to think codenames are cool.
2. To have a short-hand way of referring to the project...
3. ...because i don't want to release the actual name just yet. I mean, if i come right out and say it's going to be called Perils in the Domain of Zombie Chicken, it won't be quite as cool when i actually want to 'publish' info for the Zombie Egg Player's Guide and the Monster Chicken Manual - don't you think?

Anyway, I haven't been able to think of anything that met the aforementioned criteria, so for now I guess i'll just refer to it as 'this thing i'm working on'.

I haven't talked really talked about it much on the blog, but some of you know that off-and-on for about the last 8 months, i've been working on a new gaming system and setting. (You know, because with creating/running 2-3 D&D games, pursuing my other hobbies, work, our house, hanging out with friends, etc has left me just so much free time
that i don't know what to do with...) It's been pretty sparse for the most part, and i probably don't have much more than 40 hours worth of work on it...but a lot of thought has gone into it.

Now, I really *do* like D&D (3rd edition, anyway) and have no intention of abandoning it, but I've always wanted to create my own gaming system since back before we started playing that one. We had some fun times with some of my early attempts at such things, but they were all very nebulous and I wouldn't go so far as to say they were coherent systems. So when i got this sort of interesting idea for a new setting a while back, I figured it would be cool to work it out and write a roleplaying system to go with it.

Since that time, my ideas for this project have morphed so much as to be almost unrecognizable from the original concept. The last couple of weeks have been very productive regarding this project - I managed to get a few key points of inspiration that have really helped to solidify some of the ideas i was kicking around. At this point, I think both the setting and the mechanics are about 80% set - which is to say I'm now planning on starting Phase 2, which will be starting to actually write this stuff up (and the ironing out of the remaining 20% of the details). We're about to go on a vacation during which I should have a fair bit of free time and I'm hoping to get a fair amount compiled then.

Finally, some notes/thoughts for posterity:

The setting I think will be very interesting and fun to play in/with, as it's a bit unusual. The one concern I have regarding it (that i'm trying to work out) is its scalability: i.e., how many different ways can the pc's interact with the setting. I don't think it will be greatly limiting, but I do think it will color a lot of the game - probably a good deal more than a setting ordinarily does.

The mechanics is where I think i might lose some people (esp. the d20 purists): basically it's something like a d&d-inspired, de-muddled white-wolf system. I chose this sort of thing for several reasons, but i won't go into all that here. It is meant to be very simple (at least on the surface) and I think the primary complaint i'll get is that the pc's will seem too similar at first glance. I don't really think that will actually be the case, but the differentiation between them will be more on the shoulders of the players in terms of backstory, character development, etc as opposed to having lots of mechanics make decisions for you by way of pc 'classes', etc. Also, another modified game/setting I've been running (Liimar - which was another, earlier fork of a similar thought process to the design of this game) has proven to me that roleplaying and story are far, far more important than whatever mechanical system is employed (or even what abilities the characters have) when it comes to an enjoyable campaign - and this system is being constructed with that specifically in mind.

~PS

Recovery, Jamming, Etc

Sunday August 31, 2008 at 5:46pm injuries, music, band, video games Comments (7) »

Well, i think i can say i'm able to walk again now. I don't need crutches, and I don't need the giant ski boot. It's still a bit sore from time to time (esp when i forget my anti-inflammatory like i did this morning) and i've been keeping it wrapped for good measure, but I think it's on the mend. Got a few more PT sessions to do, but they're helping and it's doing well.

Now more exciting stuff: we got to have a band practice yesterday! For our first time jamming together, i think we sounded pretty awesome, and it was a lot of fun. Man, I've missed that. I love my SG too - it's a great instrument. I don't play it enough because i usually play acoustic when i'm on my own. Hopefully this will become a regular(ish) thing. At this point, we're just gonna see where we can make this go. We're all wanting to write some great stuff to play together and hoping play some local shows when we're up to it. I'm excited about this. I really hope we can make it work.

Apart from that, we haven't done much. Oh, we did buy a Wii Points card at the mall on saturday & i downloaded Mario 3, which we can now play on our Wii. The Virtual Console thing is a pretty awesome idea.

Well - i've gotta run for now.

~PS

Its more of a 'hobble'...

Wednesday August 27, 2008 at 4:32pm injuries Comments (8) »

I won't go so far as to say i can 'walk' again...but i *can* get from point A to B, on my feet, without the use of crutches.

I had my first Physical Therapy session for my calf strain today. It had been feeling considerably better for the last few days, and i was feeling bummed that getting around was requiring 10x the effort it ordinarily would. None of the exercises Chris had me do today caused it to hurt, though i could tell it needed stretched out. He also adjusted my boot such that i can now walk in it - though like I said, i wouldn't exactly call it walkin. The height differential combined with the stiff muscles make it considerably awkward.

This development makes me feel a bit better though.

~PS

Dog-leg Right, pt. II

Friday August 22, 2008 at 6:39pm injuries Comments (0) »

Well, I was told on monday that if my leg didn't feel significantly better in 3-5 days, i should make an appointment with Watauga Orthopedics - and, predictably, this morning it hurt as badly as ever.

Around 2pm or so, we headed out to the JC Med Center to pick up my x-rays (which i'd called about earlier) so we could take them over to Watauga Orth. This seemed like it would be a pretty routine and painless operation (esp. since i was sending Sheri in after them). I guess it *could* have been, but when sheri came back out,we had a new problem: our jeep wouldn't start.

Now, It's been having intermittent problems for a while, I was just really hoping we wouldn't see any symptoms at least until after my leg healed up again. No such luck. I called my dad and we talked through some things in the manual, but there wasn't much we could do under the circumstances. After talking on the phone for about half an hour however, we tried starting it again and it started right up. I'm beginning to think that threatening to do something to my jeep by talking to my dad is enough to scare it into submission. Anyway, as there wasn't much we could do but go about our business and hope it continued to start, that's what we did - and, thankfully, we didn't have any more problems out of it today.

When we finally got to Watauga Orth. and in to see someone, they took another look at the x-rays (presumably for hairline fractures or something that the initial read might have missed) and quickly determined that my bones were, in fact, ok and intact, but that i must have actually *torn* my calf muscle. So, they fitted me with a brace, gave me some anti-inflammatory drugs, and told me to go do some physical therapy 3 times a week - which, luckily for us, i can do at milligan. I'm supposed to go back to Watauga Orth. in a couple weeks for another evaluation...so this is going to take a while to heal completely it seems. Personally, I'll just be glad when i can walk and sit at my desk without throbbing pain again...

EDIT: Oh yeah, and how many times do i have to answer the same questions? I mean, you'd think in this day and age people in the medical field would write things down - and that they might pass that info along to the people that need to know it. Any given question i was asked once, i was asked at least 3 times by at least 2 different people - things like: "where do you work?", "when's your birthday?", "how big *is* your dog?". Really people, i'm in pain. If you can do with me explaining it *once* instead of 4 times, i'd really appreciate it - and, if you haven't figured out how to communicate with each other yet, how about we just get everyone who wants to know in here and i can tell it to everyone at once. We'll even rent out a lecture hall if necessary.
Actually, it didn't really bother me that much - i just thought it was a little odd...and it was awfully fun to rant about.

~PS

He took a dog to the leg at 30mph

Monday August 18, 2008 at 5:25am injuries, afraid Comments (11) »

Well, i'm back on the disabled list.

So we got home last night after sheri's choir practice where i wrote the last blog entry - wherein pretty much everything was fine - and I had taken ally out into the yard to make sure she didn't have to do anything before bringing her back into the house. She was really wound up since we'd been gone all day, and was crazily running around in circles like some sort of doggy 500. It was quite amusing...to a very specific point. I guess i should have been paying more attention, but really, even if i had been, I never would have guessed this could happen.

As I was standing there, letting the dog run around like crazy, she ran *into* me. This isn't all that unusual for her - she runs into things with some regularity - quite hard, sometimes. Well, this time was hard alright - and it just so happened to be squarely on the calf muscle i strained a few weeks ago. Despite the fact that my calf had recovered such that it was only slightly sore once in a while, and the fact that it felt perfectly fine at the time, I went down.

It's now been about 10 hours, and it still hurts so bad when it moves at all - much worse than it did even the first time i injured it. In fact, it hurts more than any injury i can ever remember having. Ever. It has nearly made me physically ill just from the pain at times. Whatever i strained/bruised/stretched before feels like it has now been ripped/torn/broken completely.

For now, i'm sitting out on the couch trying to move it as little as possible and still remain in a comfortable position (difficult for someone as fidgety as me). I think we're going to the clinic later. I *hate* going to get medical care, but i'm afraid something is very wrong and it's not getting the slightest bit better (so far) on its own. Honestly, i'm quite scared i'm going to be immobile for a long time and/or need surgery or something.

Please pray for me.

~PS

Would you like cheese sticks with that?

Sunday August 17, 2008 at 5:29pm golf, gaming, scenery, randomness Comments (2) »

So on saturday i got to play in a golf tournament. It was a fund-raising event for the East TN Christian Home, and our church was sponsoring a hole and a team to go play. One of the guys who was supposed to go was kind of busy and asked if i could go in his place. I told him that I wasn't sure he wanted to send *me* - because i'm not really any good - but that it sounded like a lot of fun. I think I actually played below average even for me, but Lee and I had a lot of fun and the other guys we were playing with were really good company as well.
It was a two-person-team, best-ball game, and, as a team, we ended up at +11 - which is much better than *I* ever play for 18 holes. Lee is pretty good and we played his shot more than half the time, but i was occasionally useful. I *did* make a crazy-hard birdie putt on a par 3 (mostly thanks to luck) and I had a few other key shots, but it was mostly Lee's game. Still, he's a blast to hang out with and, as i said, we had a lot of fun - which was really what it was about.

On saturday evening, almost right after the golf game, I ran my current d&d game. Since they just arrived in a new city and had a *ton* of housekeeping type stuff they wanted to do, added to the fact that I had/have quite a bit of setup material to get through, the session was a little slow and there wasn't much in the way of action or significant roleplaying. This was a little disappointing, but not terribly surprising. It was still an enjoyable evening hanging out with friends, and most of the stuff was necessary for the game on some level. Next session (whenever that is) should get them into some more 'meat' of the game, as it were.

This afternoon sheri & i went up to Beauty Spot. We've heard of it and even knew where it was for a while, but hadn't made it up there before today. The gravel road that takes you from the 395/rock creek rd up to the actual mountain top is pretty long and rough - and slightly nerve-wracking. I've been on worse though. The area itself is really pretty. I think later in the fall when there are fewer bugs and weeds (and some cooler temperatures), it would be a really nice place to spend an afternoon relaxing. I took some pictures of the area. If any of them turn out nice, i'm sure they'll get posted.

This evening, sheri & i walked down to sonic to get some slushes. I mention this particular event because, after we ordered our grape & watermelon creamslushes, we were asked (and i quote) 'would you like any mozzarella sticks to go with that?'. Now, i don't know what universe these people are from - but in *my* universe, fried cheese sticks do NOT, in any way, "go" with sweet, fruit-flavored, ice-cream slushes. At all. And, even if some people enjoy that combo, i have a hard time believing its so pervasive that asking everyone if they'd like some is a necessary course of action. I mean, i just can't see 'mozzarella sticks with creamslush' being anything like 'fries with hamburger'.

~PS

A Real Post

Tuesday August 12, 2008 at 1:12pm lawn, church, photography, friends, swimming, gaming, music, blogs Comments (4) »

Or, you know, as real as I get.

Not too much has been going on here. Watching the grass grow. No, for real. Since i strained my calf muscle, I haven't mowed the yard - which is now really, really bad. My plan is to start tackling it later today. That's gonna be rough.

Sunday was our church picnic. I took a few great pictures of the munchkins on the playground. I'm still learning how to best shoot moving subjects - a lot of my shots are a little soft. Especially the ones of Claire. She doesn't stop moving. Anyway, it was fun. Oh, and I made lemon cheese bars for it (the first time by myself :)) which were a big hit with at least a few people. There were only two left.

Ginger, Sheri, Nick and I went out to the Elizabethton city pool on saturday. That was cool. Actually it was downright *cold*. There were only a dozen or so others in the water. I think i know why. After 5 or 10 minutes you got used to it though... ...if only because you were at that point numb and couldn't feel the cold. It was a good time though. The weather's been beautiful here: very mild for this time of year. Tomorrow's high is only 78 and the lows have been near-record.

On friday we had a fun gaming session. The party wrapped up what they had been doing in the dwarven ruin and have now traveled to the city of Madrid for more fun and mayhem. That game continues to be lots of fun.

Mahto's band had a practice on monday & I went to listen in. They sound pretty good for a highschool group. I think if they keep it together for a couple more years, they could be really good. They're actually playing at a 'Battle of the Bands' this thursday that we're gonna try to go to. That should be fun. Robb and I got to sit outside & play some guitar on monday as well. I really miss getting to play in a group. We talked for a while about trying to put something together at some point, but i think we'll need to find at least one more member.

Not too much else. Calendar's pretty blank for this month.

~PS

addendum: late last night i finally finished the graphic design for sheri's new blog - you can see it here.

My Poor Baby Cow

Friday August 1, 2008 at 3:22pm injuries, deer Comments (2) »
My Poor Baby Cow Image

Well, this weekend has taken an unexpected turn for the crappy. Having got some last minute time off, Sheri & I were going to go on a camping trip for a couple few days. It was some last minute string-pulling, but we had everything sorted out by thursday afternoon...

...and then i saw a deer running through our backyard.

Now, generally deer running through our backyard doesn't inherently ruin plans. Thing is, deer running through our backyard is a somewhat uncommon event. In fact, I don't think i've ever seen it before. Granted we don't live in the most urban of areas, but we don't live in what I would classify as a 'rural' area either - so when I saw the deer run through our backyard and stop underneath a neighbor's (apple?) tree, i grabbed my camera and threw open the office window to take a few pictures. When I saw that the deer was quite content to stay where it was for a bit, i decided I'd try to get a little closer - so I headed to the front door and down the stairs on our front "porch" to head around from a somewhat concealed position.

At this point I need to point out that, in the excitement of taking pictures (which i *love*), there were a couple of factors here I had failed to consider completely. The first is that it was lightly raining. I decided that I wasn't worried about my camera - it wasn't raining very hard and my camera does have some weather protection. The rain, however, did result in the ground being wet - and the concrete slab at the base of the staircase is both inclined and significantly less textured than the concrete on the stairs and the porch itself.

Which brings me to factor number 2: i was wearing flip-flops. When i reached the bottom of the stairs and attempted to make a 120 degree turn to the backyard, I discovered that my flip-flops have *no* traction whatsoever on a slick, wet sidewalk.

I didn't actually fall, but my left foot immediately slid straight out from under me. This had the unfortunate side effect of me basically sitting down on my right ankle - which popped at least three times. And hurt. A lot.

Undeterred, I limped into the backyard where I got a handful of decent pictures of a young male deer (which are in the gallery) who was apparently eating apples from our neighbor's tree before i got too close and spooked it and it took off.

Now, usually when I do stuff like this to myself, I expect my ankle/leg to hurt for a few hours and then stop. Not so this time. It's been about 27 hours now, and it's still very sore - though considerably better than last night. I can't really walk without a serious limp & some occasional pain. It's actually my calf muscle that hurts so bad. I think i stretched/pulled/strained it. What sucks is that it's killed our camping plans. :-( Still, at this point, I'm just hoping it continues to feel better.

~PS

I'm busy, but i'm not doing anything

Sunday July 27, 2008 at 3:12pm anniversary, gaming, work, friends, music, video games Comments (2) »

No, really. The past week+ has been fairly uneventful. Despite this, I still have several things to do around the house that I haven't made it to yet. I feel like I've been busy, but I also don't feel like i've done/accomplished much - how does that work?

Sheri & I did have our 4th anniversary on thursday. :-) That was a good day. We went for a walk around sycamore shoals (cause it was such a nice day), and then went out to dinner. We then went to look for a movie to watch (we were going to go see Wall-E, but our theatre wasn't showing it at a time that worked well) and bought disney's The Sword in the Stone. I love cartoons.

I guess in terms of my hobbies' time ratio, gaming has gotten the lion's share lately. I've put a significant chunk of time into continuing to develop my new(ish)/experiemental system/setting but i'm still not happy with my progress - it seems to be going much too slowly. Hopefully I'll get a little more momentum soon. We had a last-minute game session last night for my surviving d&d group, which was quite fun - though it took the party about 3x longer to get to where they did than I figured it would.

Apart from that, i've been working on some large projects for work - even some on my own time. There's one in particular i really want to get done, but I never get enough time to spend on it. It's going to make things a lot easier on several of us once I do though.

Got to hang out with Sam a little on friday. That was cool. Haven't seen him much since he's been at Berea. Got to hear a couple new songs of his - they're pretty cool (as was to be expected). I've been sadly neglecting my music stuff lately. I did play a little yesterday and discovered my fingers are way out of shape. My callouses are still there, but my index finger cramps on bar chords pretty quickly. I need to start compiling ideas for a new album for next year's album recording month too. If i can write most of it beforehand, i might have a prayer of actually finishing one.

Tony & I (and Sheri, to some extent) have been working through the obsessive-collecting madness that is Lego Star Wars. There are minikit pieces on some of the levels i swear don't exist: i've gone back and forth through some of these levels like 12 times and they're still nowhere to be found. It's a fun and funny little game though.

Anyway, that's pretty much it.

~PS

We now return you to...

Monday July 7, 2008 at 12:13pm busy, recovering Comments (10) »

...your ordinary, less-exciting life.

Not that I'm not somewhat glad for the return to normalcy. The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic. In a good way, but hectic none the less.

My parents came in for a visit last wednesday night and hung out here until yesterday afternoon - making this the longest span of time they've ever been able to stay. It was a lot of fun - my parents are great. :-)

I think I got them a little hooked on the Wii. They're *really* good at the bowling game. We also had a lot of fun with Mario Kart together.

My dad also fixed a few things around the house - something he's compelled to do whenever he's here. We spent most of saturday trying to get sheri's car working. We fixed a few problems with it, but found out that it has a more major issue with the oil pressure that we can't do much for. I think i'm gonna have to take it to the shop.

On thursday we went & played golf out at Buffalo Valley. I only played so-so, but it was still lots of fun. I'm hoping I can go out again soon.

On friday (the 4th), we went to Rucht & McKenna's house to hang out and watch the fireworks. We had a terrific view from the top of the hill across from the field they set them off in. Next year i'm bringing my camera.

Oh, and I learned how to make Lemon Cheese Bars from my mom. Yum.

...

So... ...after all the preparation and the Oots meetup and then a couple days of complex development at work and then several days of fun with my parents, things are settling down now. We did have a game session last night which was great. It was the first one in 2 and a half months for that group. We're planning to have another game this week as well, but other than that, not much on the calendar.

It's ok, I can use the rest.

~PS

New Music Released

Friday June 20, 2008 at 12:08pm music, recording Comments (0) »

This is more of a surrendering than anything, sadly. I've gone ahead and added the three songs I recorded back in february to the Music page - By Moonlight, The Poor Man That I Am and Sleeping In The Willows. My original intent was to finish writing & recording the album they were supposed to be a part of, but it's now almost july and I've yet to do another single thing with it - nor do i feel particularly inspired/motivated to do so.

The original concept entitled Voyages of Ghostships was to be a collection of songs something like ghost stories - in a more concrete or abstract fashion from track to track. I still may expand/complete the project, but for now, I'm considering it somewhat dead in the water.

~PS

Week Domination

Monday May 12, 2008 at 12:12am gaming, friends, holidays Comments (0) »

Well, the week went by alright. It was pretty dull as well, but the weekend was good. It occurs to me i haven't had anything interesting to say in a while. Maybe i'm just being lazy. Anyway, just some notes on what's gone on...

Played Exalted on monday, which is always fun.

I ran one of my d&d games on friday - which was a great session (i'll get updates for you all soon).

Saturday we did some work around the house. Sheri potted some of her plants. We went to Erwin for a dinner thing. Stopped and took some photos of geese (including fuzzy babies) on the way (though i goofed and my camera settings weren't ideal).

Had church today, but didn't have to stay in Erwin since there was no choir practice. Instead we hung out with ginger and nick and played a AoEII (conquered the world). Also, we talked to our mom's since it's mothers' day.

Now it's late. I should head to bed soon.

~PS

Office Closet Cleanup: More Than Half Done

Saturday April 19, 2008 at 1:14pm cleaning, junk Comments (1) »
Office Closet Cleanup: More Than Half Done Image

I was looking for something the other day and was unable to find it in my closet.

Big surprise.

So I decided to (finally) begin the massive undertaking that was cleaning out my closet. After about 3 hours, I was a bit more than half done, but ready to call the operation off for a while. There's still a few boxes on the top shelf i need to go through...

Still, the office closet looks at least 327% better, and I know where stuff is now (which has the added bonus of preventing things from falling on my head while looking).

The picture shown is roughly a third of the former contents of the closet. A lot of it got boxed up and put downstairs or just thrown away. Mostly what was in there was *ton* of old/useless/semi-functional computer parts that are boxed up and i'm still deciding what to do with and at least as many old cds (burnt & otherwise), some of which were unidentifiable. I even found an old mix cd kev & i made our sophomore year at milligan.

Anyway, its almost a usable space now. Hopefully i'll get the chance/motivation to finish it up sometime soon.

~PS

Over The Weekend

Monday April 14, 2008 at 3:15pm gaming, friends, milligan, video games Comments (2) »

Not too much to report or make note of, but here's the gist -

Had a great gaming session on saturday, which was lots of fun. I'm enjoying that game quite a bit.

Saturday night we went to the Midcity Grill in downtown JC. Hadn't been there before. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food was great and cheap. We were scouting the place as a potential hangout for the Oots meetup we're planning for the end of june. The owner wasn't sure if he could handle our crowd (it's a small place and we may have 25 or 30 people), but we're hoping in addition to trying to come up with a plan 'B'.

Yesterday we went to the Milligan vs Team USA softball game - or, at least most of it. The cold + wind + rain eventually caused us to leave a little early. We all pretty much knew that Milligan was going to lose terribly to the olympic team, but i figure that wasn't really the point of it. I saw the point as seeing what Milligan could accomplish against them. I was told the final score was 24-0 in five innings, but Milligan did keep USA from scoring one inning and even managed to get one or two people on base.

Last night we had some tasty quasi-mexican for dinner and a sort of video game night with Ginger, Nick & Tony. There was Dragoon, Gauntlet, Contra, Lifeforce and Katamari. A good time was had by all. Oh, and Nick and I are heroes that saved the universe. Booya.

~PS

Lately

Monday April 7, 2008 at 5:10pm friends, gaming, photography, concerts Comments (0) »

It's been a few minutes since i've written up a blog entry...

Been doing a lot of gaming - as it happens, every group i'm in or running (total = 4) has met or is meeting in this two-week span. It's been fun.

We had a cookout for Justin on saturday. He has successfully defended his masters thesis and, though he's not quite out of the woods, things are looking good. It seems none of his family or out-of-town friends are going to be around for his graduation - which is sad. We needed to celebrate, so we did.

Sunday (yesterday) was spent in Erwin - the first time we've had to do that in few weeks. It was a beautiful day and we went down to the Linear Trail (which follows the river). I took about 240ish pictures - granted, a lot of those were duplicates. I've developed the mantra that any shot worth taking is worth taking (at least) twice - just to make sure you get a good one. I created a gallery for the Erwin Linear Trail and put a few of the best shots in it. Speaking of taking pictures, I put a couple really nice ones I took at dusk at Milligan a while back in its gallery, and I also posted some pictures of the dogs (Ally and Abby) from saturday evening.

Tonight we have Robb's Exalted game, which I'm looking forward to. It's the only game I'm a player in. It's nice to be on the other side of the screen (as it were) once in a while... ...and it's also nice to take a break from d20.


On wednesday I'm planning to drive out to Durham, NC to visit Kevin and go to a Weakerthans concert - that should be pretty sweet. :)


~PS

Best. April. Fools. Video. EVER.

Tuesday April 1, 2008 at 11:31am penguins Comments (2) »



This is fantastic.

~PS

Dice + Boxes + OCD

Monday March 31, 2008 at 12:01pm gaming Comments (2) »
Dice + Boxes + OCD Image

or "i am a geek, part XXVI"

I like dice. I like boxes. I can be a little obsessive/compulsive about organizing certain things (certain things. Other things I couldn't care less about. See: my office closet).

So, after a tip from Sheri's mom, I went to the fishing section at wal-mart (you can see why i needed the tip - why else would I be there?) and got a new dice/pencil/marker container. Some people apparently call it a 'tackle box'.

This $4 box can neatly separate all my dice by type (or color, or texture i suppose - though that would be somewhat less useful) in adjustable compartments and also has room to hold my dry-erase markers and pencils. Point is, it keeps all my 'loose' gaming stuff together, making it a lot easier to carry or pack into a bag with books, etc.

So yeah, I think it's pretty cool. I thought I'd post it up here to pass along the idea in case anyone else likes it. Oh, and because it was another thing to take a picture of and post on my site - cause that's sort of an end in itself these days. ;-)

~PS

How Far I've Come

Sunday March 23, 2008 at 7:30pm penguins Comments (1) »
How Far I've Come Image

While digging up some old photos on my computer, I came across one that stuck me interesting.

It was a shot from an older, simpler, less-penguiny time. Specifically, it was the first picture I took of my computer guardians - and it may show some of you which loyal avians have been here since the beginning.

My penguin (and friends) army has since grown 10 or 12 fold, but those loyal first still play vital roles in its day-to-day activities.

To the right, please note the photo of the original troupe contrasted with *most* of today's.

My original guardians were seated proudly atop my monitor. Today's ranks will not fit in their entirety on the shelf above my desk.

Let the rise of the penguins continue!

~PS

Some Things from Recent Days

Tuesday March 11, 2008 at 1:00am ally, gaming, food, movies, church, music, friends Comments (0) »

Just a few random excerpts from my life this last week:

Took Ally to the vet on wednesday; made an appointment to get her spayed. That's supposed to happen on the 24th. By all accounts, she's in good health and very cute. :)

Had a game on thursday; got to use a clever riddle in a situation that actually made sense in-game. Didn't kill anyone.

Ginger made us chicken fajitas on friday and we played some carcassonne and mario kart. Much fun; very tasty.

Saturday, Sheri and I talked some about some future possible home improvement projects, went and bought flower seeds, ate chili and made Nick watch The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged. It had been a long time since I'd seen it, and it made me laugh. :)

Yesterday was the start of DST. We lost an hour, but I'm glad that there's still plenty of daylight left after work. As the days warm and lengthen, I'll have more and more time to be able to shoot outside. Looking forward to this.

We also had the usual church stuff - which we were on time for because we remembered said DST stuff. I played Brave Saint Saturn's "Estrella" for the special - and I think it sounded really good. Don't think I've ever played a song kapo'd that high (7th!).

After Sheri's usual choir practice, we met up with Dennis (aka TheGreatJabu from the OotS forum). Robb & Edie came over as well and the group of us chatted about random stuff for most of the evening. After our Bored Meetings tonight, we went to Robb & Edie's house to hang out with Dennis (before he leaves town tomorrow) by playing some Killer Bunnies. Dennis seems to be a great guy, and meshes with out little group quite well in terms of personality. If his interview with ETSU's psych. doctorate program went well enough, he may even be moving to town. That would be pretty cool.

Anyway, that's about it for now.

~PS

A Moment of Sadness

Tuesday March 4, 2008 at 2:16pm gaming Comments (1) »

Given my principle hobbies, I think this deserves a mention on my site.

I have just discovered that Gary Gygax - co-creator of D&D, founder of GenCon, and writer of more games/systems, books, adventures, etc than can quickly be counted - has died today at age 69. Like many gamers I'm sure, I'm sad that I never got to meet someone who had such a profound effect on fantasy roleplaying (more or less starting it).

He will be missed, but his legacy will live on.

~PS

End Feb, In Sum

Wednesday February 27, 2008 at 1:01pm sickness, music, recording, family, weather, movies Comments (1) »

Well, here we are.

Not too much to report. I think I'm finally over this round of the sickness. Still the occasional cough, but it's not much.


I think my getting sick was the death knell to my hopes of finishing my recording project on time - having now recovered, i'm feeling thoroughly uninspired. As it's obvious I'm not going to be able to write and record 7 songs in the next 48 hours, I think I'm going to shelve the project for a while and pick it up when my attitude concerning it improves a bit. On the upside, I did get 3 songs written and recorded (and ideas for approx 1.5 more) this month - even with all the games I had to run, the being sick, and all the other stuff - which is a greater per-day ratio than I think I've ever accomplished. I also went in a considerably different direction from normal with the writing (I'll talk about that more when I get around to finishing/posting it). All in all, I think the project was a huge success, even if I didn't pull off the formal objective. I think for next year, I'm going to try to have the writing done before the recording month - my writing output just isn't high enough to write 10 songs in a month - though I think I *could* accomplish the actual recording in that time.


My mom stopped through monday on her way to visit my sister in SC. We went out to dinner and had a good time chatting about whatever. She's supposed to stop over again thursday on her way back up to IN.


We've had a bit of real snow for the first time this year. It's starting to melt off now, but we had probably better than 1.5 inches this morning - which is about twice what we generally get.


We're supposed to host a Muppethon this saturday - a bunch of us are going to get together to watch some Muppet movies. Why? The question, my friends, is why not?


~PS

Checking In

Thursday February 14, 2008 at 12:34pm friends, gaming, music, recording, photography Comments (2) »

It's been about a week since my last blog post, so I guess it's that time again. Not too much interesting going on. Not to talk about anyway.

Last saturday Rucht, having decided that way too many of us gamers had never seen the movie Conan the Barbarian, had a bunch of us over for a viewing of the very old and cheesy film. Apparently we've been initiated now. We did have a good time playing with the plastic swords he got for the occasion, eating some tasty food, playing an epic game of munchkin and making another (failed) attempt at finishing a game of Arkham Horror. Oh, and because i'd seen that movie, I realized last night that James Earl Jones is also in Dr. Strangelove. Weird.

Sunday, I continued my longest currently-running campaign (18 sessions now, started a year ago last october). I love that game. It's so much different than most rp games.

I've been continuing to work on my RPM project. I'd hoped to be a bit further than I am, and it's beginning to look like I'm not going to finish. We've now reached the half-way point, and I've only got 2 songs down. I wrote about 1.5 more last night, but I haven't even started recording them yet. Perhaps tonight while sheri's at choir practice. I'm also discovering this project to be more a 'proof of concept' than an actual finished product. I'm way too picky to settle for what's coming out so far. Still, it's been most enlightening and enjoyable.

Also, I've posted to the gallery a few more pics i've taken recently. A couple more cute pictures of Ally (apparently one of my favorite subjects)(Ears!) and a few scenery pics - including a decent moon shot and a killer sunset sky. I'm looking forward to the weather warming up enough to actually go out to some different places to shoot.

~PS

RPM - Project Update

Thursday February 7, 2008 at 1:05am music, recording Comments (0) »

Feb 7th 2008

2 new songs written and mostly recorded. I like them both quite a bit. If I get nothing else out of my efforts this month, this has been well worth it.

I'm greatly enjoying this record - how the rest of it pans out will be interesting. Still not sure if I'm going to finish it "in time", but I'm still making a good go at it.

~PS

The Path of Disciplined Musical Enlightenment

Monday January 28, 2008 at 4:48pm music, recording Comments (0) »

So I saw this a few days ago on slashdot (and later on BoingBoing): The RPM Challenge

Summarized: Write and record a complete album (10 songs or 35 minutes) during the month of February just because you can.

But really, you should go read it.

The ideas behind this exercise in artistic creativity greatly intrigue me. I've long been the sort who most often pursued his creative interests only when it struck his fancy. This challenge asserts that a more disciplined, "whether you feel like it or not" approach can be very rewarding - and as it points out, you can't put that much effort into something and *not* get better.

I also appreciate the project's emphasis on encouraging people (anyone and everyone) to make music for the sake of making music. This strikes a chord (forgive the unintentional pun there) that resonates profoundly in a time when the recording industry and its money-making concerns are in the forefront of the music scene.

So yeah, I'm going to try this. Should be interesting. I've done their little sign-up thing, I've posted it for you all on my blog, I've made a commitment. Lets see what I can make happen. It's going to take some organization, some discipline and a lot of work. It doesn't have to be great (something i'm reminding myself), it just has to be the best i can do in a month.


Worst case, I've made an effort, have at least *something* to show for it, and almost certainly improved as a musician, songwriter and recording tech. Best case, I have a lot of fun and I come up with some truly interesting new material. Either way, I win.

~PS

And now for something a little different...?

Sunday January 20, 2008 at 3:24pm friends, outdoors, outings Comments (3) »

Some of us were talking the other day, and we decided we don't get out enough.

I probably don't mean that the way it sounds though. It's not as though we're hiding under rocks, but we all just kinda do the same things all the time. That is to say, we hang out and play games - board, video and roleplaying. We occasionally do other stuff, but probably not often enough. We could also stand to get outdoors a bit more often. Don't get me wrong, I very much like just hanging out, playing games and doing nothing in particular, but it would be fun to do something different for a change. Here are some things we've decided we should try to do - maybe sometime this year (preferably once it gets a little warmer).

- We should do quite a bit of hiking. And not just at Sycamore Shoals (which is nice enough), but at least a couple trips up to Round Bald, Lorell Falls and other places. I mean, we're in the mountains just miles from the AT. There are *lots* of good sites around here.

- We should go to a zoo and/or aquarium. Sheri's been saying this for a few years. There's a zoo in Knoxville and a zoo and aquarium in Chattanooga.

- We should go over to Bay's Mountain to see the wolves. They have a sort of preserve/habitat for them up there.

- We should look around for some interesting museums. I know there's a big one in Knoxville and i'm sure there are quite a few others within a reasonable distance. Nashville (5 hours away - far, but not ridiculously so) has quite a few including The TN State Museum (which is *huge*) along with the only full-size replica of the Athens' Parthenon (Not as cool as going to Greece, but some of us aren't that lucky), a Botanical Garden / Museum of Art and the Cumberland Science Museum/Planetarium.

- We should go to some state parks and/or similar areas. Maybe do some camp-outs, the aforementioned hiking and other stuff. There are quite a few of them within a couple hours of here.

- We should bike the Virginia Creeper Trail. This would be great fun. I'm told they'll rent you bikes and there are several different segments of the 35-mile trail you can take (you know, in case you're not used to going *quite* that far).

- We should go up to IN to go skiing/tubing/etc with my parents on their boat. I've been saying this for a few years, but we haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'm sure there are some more good ideas as well. You all can put some in the comments if you want. We'll probably be asking around for who might like to join us in our grand adventures too.


Of course, one of the best things for most of these (at least for me) is the opportunity to take some great pictures at a lot of these places. I'm really looking forward to that. :)


~PS

The View From Ohio

Thursday January 10, 2008 at 11:54am travel, work, flying, weather, dogs Comments (4) »

So I'm currently sitting in our company office in downtown Lebanon, OH. It's kinda cool, actually. On the second floor; has a nice set of windows overlooking the old downtown area. I like the buildings around here - they've got character.

Matt, Barb, Addie and I have been having a good time (Kedrick/Warren has mostly been gone or on the phone in the other room). Lots of random, funny, sometimes work-related conversations. It's been fun to be all in the same room and I've enjoyed getting to know them in person. It actually reminds me a lot of hanging out with my friends much more than being in an "office". Still, we've managed to accomplish quite a bit, I think. I got to go over my system with them (which was the point of this journey) and they understood it all pretty well. They'd been doing a good job already though. I think we make a pretty great group of coworkers.

I'll admit working from home is a little lonely sometimes... ...though I enjoy having Ally around. And I miss working from my Mac. I should also point out that the office here is in dire need of some audio enhancement - preferably in the form of some nice speakers and good coding music. True it might make phone calls a little more difficult, but still, there's two rooms. Work it out.

The plane ride up here was... ...alright. A little nerve-wracking. I don't care much for flying. I'd been on planes twice before - all with groups of familiar people in large planes in and out of major airports about 10 years ago. Much. Different. I'm figuring Tri-Cities doesn't see too many 727's and the plane I rode out on was actually a prop aircraft. Yeah, *lots* of vibration on those things. Kinda freaky. The jet i took from Charlotte the rest of the way was much smoother and more like i remembered (though still small) - that is, after it got off the ground. It was delayed for about 1.5 hours. I say the flight was smooth - yes. The descent into Dayton, however was quite rough as there was some incoming nasty weather. Also kind of freaky. I'm at least a little familiar with flying now though - and that's nice. I didn't want to bring my camera on the trip because i didn't know what to expect in terms of the flying arrangements. I'm still thinking leaving it was for the best, though i'm sure it would have been ok and I do wish I had it.

On the way to Kedrick & Addie's house (where i've been staying), we drove through a bit of a monsoon. It was crazy. Oh sure, it rains like that in TN too. About twice year. For 15 seconds. Total.

Kedrick & Addie's house is pretty cool. I've even had my own room and bathroom for this trip. They have two dogs - a huge golden retriever (and i mean huge. Like, "i've-never-seen-a-golden-retriever-this-big" huge...) who *loves* me (mostly because they love everyone), and a tiny little terrier-like dog who i've yet to get to come anywhere near me.

It has been weird being away from home by myself. I miss Sheri and Ally. Still, it's been a pretty good trip so far.

~PS

Cameras, Birthday Happenings, Etc

Wednesday December 19, 2007 at 11:39am cameras, birthdays, friends, penguins, christmas, family Comments (2) »
Cameras, Birthday Happenings, Etc Image

This is probably the last picture I'll post taken with our Kodak EasyShare digital camera. The subject of the picture should adequately explain why that is. :) I was able to pick this up (on sale) yesterday due to the *amazing* christmas bonus I got this year. I am now horribly out-classed by my equipment - but this is a disparity i'll be seeking to remedy over the course of the next year or so. Perhaps with some help from some friends.

In case anyone cares, I did type up my thoughts regarding Why I Decided on the Canon 40D. You know, if you didn't get enough of my rambling on that before.

In other news, I had a great birthday yesterday. For much more than the above reason. After work, Sheri, Ginger and Tony took me out to eat at O'Charley's (potato soup....yum) and then we went to a place called Fun Expedition and played miniature golf. Blacklight miniature golf. The second half of the course was in a closed-off, darkened area illuminated solely by blacklights and florescent materials. The balls glowed. The cup glowed. The obstacles glowed. The putting surface however, was a well of inky blackness. You couldn't see it at all. Sometimes you didn't know if there were bumps, basins, mounds, etc until you watched your ball unexpectedly change direction as it rolled over them. It was evil. But very cool.

After that, we came back here and had ice-cream cake and i got presents. Ginger gave me a fantastic penguin kids' book. A new IM away message is taken from it. :-)

Tony gave me a game called Penguins: a family penguin-stacking game - ironically put out by Fantasy Flight, the same people who make Arkham Horror and a bunch of other rpg-type games.

Sheri gave me a copy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original - Gene Wilder is awesome) and a penguin-shaped vibrating massager.

So, out of 4 birthday presents, 3 were penguin-based. Not bad. ;-)


Tonight we're supposed to have our little christmas party. We've invited Rucht, McKenna and Finn as well. I'm going to make some spaghetti. It should be lots of fun.


Just a couple more days till christmas vacation and heading up to IN. I can't wait to see everybody - it's been a *long* time since i've seen some of them.

~PS

More of the same.

Tuesday December 4, 2007 at 2:09pm golf, gaming, church Comments (0) »

The last week has been pretty much "more of the same".

I did get to play golf with Joe last wednesday, though. It was about 60 here, and a beautiful day to be out on the course. Did pretty well (for me) too - par'd 3 holes, made some pretty amazing (lucky) puts, and generally we had a good time. Hopefully we'll have some more nice days to play.

I got to play/run a couple rpg's too. My thursday group is well on their way, and Robb's game (though it's losing players) continues to be a lot of fun.

Apart from that, there's pretty much just work and church stuff - the latter involving preparing for all the christmas...stuff.

~PS

Picture Perfect?

Tuesday November 27, 2007 at 6:13pm cameras, photography, long freakin post Comments (2) »

Given the amount of time i've spent on it, it was destined to make it onto my blog sooner or later. The blog is a place to write down my thoughts, and this has taken up a fairly large number of thought cycles over the last several months.

I enjoy picking up new hobbies (despite the fact that I have less and less time for current ones), and ever since I held ginger's XT hostage for a few weeks back in July (during which time i played with it almost constantly), i've had a rapidly-growing interest in the art and technique of photography, doing a considerable amount of reading on terminology, practices and how cameras work.

So anyway, I've decided that I want a DSLR camera. I usually get a bit of money for christmas, I'm supposed to get a significant raise as of January, and a christmas bonus of some undisclosed amount. I figure between those boons, I may be able to save up for a decent camera in a (relatively) short amount of time. I hope.

Anyway, that brings me to the matter at hand: what to get.

I've spent hours reading specs and reviews on quite a few different cameras and lenses, made lists of pros and cons for several, and waffled back and forth on what I think I should go for at least 17 times (I'll probably add at least 2 more to that number as I write this entry).

Unfortunately, there seems to be some discrepancy between what I *want*, and what I think I'll be able to afford in some fashion. :-( See, the more I read and understood, the more I realized what some of the nicer (read: expensive) cameras have to offer, and part of me would rather have a camera that I can grow into, as opposed to out of. I'm usually the kind of person that will wait a little longer and spend a little more to get what I really want, as opposed to settling for something *almost* as good that i can get much quicker and cheaper.

Still, I would probably be happy with a less sophisticated camera, and as a first DSLR you can make the case that I really don't need anything more than that. Also, if I truly found that I had "out grown" the thing or really wanted some of the capabilities of the spiffier models, I would by that point have much more experience and perhaps a still clearer idea of what I'd really want to buy as an upgrade. True that I'd have already spent the money on the initial investment, but several years later i might be able to afford something a little nicer if it came to that.

The Specifics - here's what I've been looking at.

The first camera I looked at is the Canon XTI. This camera gets great reviews - esp as a first DSLR camera. It is lacking a couple of features I'd really rather have, but at only ~$580, it's the least expensive of the lot. Enough that I might be able to get a bit of a nicer lens with this one than with the others. As mentioned, I've spent quite a bit of time on ginger's XT, and so I already know a lot about how it works.

Pros:
relatively inexpensive, but still has most of what i want
large lcd review screen
dust detection/cleaning system for low-pass filter
Cons:
no dedicated info lcd
substandard battery life
a few missing features (no color temp, no spot metering, etc)


A camera that i've spent a bit of time actually playing with at Best Buy and liked was the Nikon d80. It's a great camera, and at ~$800 it's at a pretty good price considering, but the one thing that keeps me from saying "this is what I go with" is the fact that it has a sort of known issue with its metering being a little...wonky. It overexposes shots at varying increments between .3 and .7 ev. It's the inconsistency that many have commented on as being difficult to compensate for to the point that a shot often has to be taken two or more times to get the proper exposure - a luxury not always available.

Pros:
Dedicated info lcd screen
larger, brighter viewfinder
has features missing on XTI
better build and feel than the XTI
more nice, affordable lenses I want for Nikon
impressive battery life
Cons:
Uses SD not CF cards
More expensive than the XTI
Wonky metering
a *tiny* bit slower than the XTI (negligible)


A considerable step up on the quality/price ladder from either of those is Canon's 40d. This one sells for about ~$1300 for just the body, or about ~$1500 bundled with a decent kit lens.

Pros:
Much like the D300 mentioned below (though to a lesser extent), this camera has pretty much all of the things I like about the previous two and more, with none of the listed drawbacks of either.
Cons:
Expensive. I'd have to save a bit longer for this one and would probably go with the kit lens


The camera I would really like is Nikon's D300. Unfortunately, at ~$1800 for just the body, it's just too expensive. I couldn't get a decent lens to go with it and still keep the package under $2000 (not that I want to go up even that high) - so, barring something like an unexpected inheritance from a late and unknown great uncle, I think i can safely say that one's off the table. Sadness. As such, I won't bother rambling in greater detail about how cool it is.

--

So anyway, that's about how it breaks down. I looked over a handful of other cameras too, but those are the top 3 contenders - at the moment anyway. I didn't go into the lenses I've looked at and considered here, because that largely depends upon what camera I get.

If anyone has any input, I'd be glad to hear it - esp. if you've some knowledge of one or more of these cameras and/or photography in general. Leave a comment or send me an email.

As of now, I'm leaning toward one of the canon cameras. Not that that narrows the field too much...

~PS

A lot about not much

Friday November 9, 2007 at 10:15am busy, family, gaming, church, photography, friends, dogs Comments (0) »

So i guess when my dad points out that i haven't put up a blog post in about two weeks, I must be slacking a little. We were talking on the phone last night about another possible web project, but I'll talk more on that later when/if it pans out.

We've been fairly busy the last couple of weeks, but there's really not much to talk about.

We did go to our church's 'Trunk or Treat' thing on halloween (think: give candy out from trunks of cars in the church parking lot), which was pretty amusing. I think the best costume I saw was this little girl dressed up as Raggedy Anne. Followed closely by this boy as a pirate - complete with mustache the hung down to his chest. Those two were very well done outfits amongst the majority of walmart suits. Alas that I was unable to get pictures of them - partly because i felt a little odd taking pictures of other people's kids, and partly due to the limitations of our camera (recycle time & low-light capability (I hate flash). Talking of which, I've been looking at a lot of digital SLR's and lenses lately and reading a lot about what's good and what's not and learning a bit more about photography in general. Pretty fascinating. But, I digress...). After that, we went over to Ginger's place an hung out with some friends there for a while - which is always fun.

Apart from that, we've done some gaming (though not on "world-wide d&d day" - which was last saturday. a friend of mine was running some stuff at a local comic shop, but i didn't make it out. Other things going on. It was coolest a few years ago on the 30th anniversary anyway... but i digress again...), hung out a little at Ginger's church's coffeehouse, managed to remember the time change from DST and went to our church thanksgiving dinner. I think that pretty much brings us up to speed.

As far as upcoming events, I have 2-3(!) games this weekend (running 2, maybe playing 1), possibly swinging by Edie's birthday party, church's oh-so-exciting committee & board meetings on monday, planning to (finally) have Bart & Sarah Price (youth minister & his wife) over for dinner on tuesday, celebrating Ginger's birthday (a bit early) on wednesday and probably running another game on thursday. Keeping busy.

Don't think i've given any update/info on this point either: Ally has so far been inside for a little over two weeks. Thus far, there have been only one two "accidents" (that were probably my fault) and one case of negligible property damage (when she accidentally pulled my trackball off my desk and one of the buttons cracked. Still works though.). She seems a lot happier and less frantic (except at breakfast time) in here. Plus she keeps me company while Sheri's at work.

~PS

The Age of Loneliness

Saturday October 13, 2007 at 10:55am thinking too much Comments (1) »

Yesterday evening we had some people over for a game. As we also have a game tonight (busy gaming weekend), I thought I should go to the grocery and get some extra soda and snacks. Our gaming sessions are very social events, and I was looking forward to spending some time with some friends - goofing off and playing through a story.

Oh, and enjoying some soda, of course.

As I was driving home, something sort of occurred to me, and I thought it was a little sad: I'd managed to drive to the store, get my stuff, check out, and drive home without so much as saying 'hi' to another human being.

I usually don't use the self-checkouts, but it was particularly crowded, i needed to get back before game time, and there was no one (as usual) at the self-checkout lanes - so I yielded to the lure of the cold technology.

I often wonder if the lack of human interaction (or the various degrees of separation thereof) that seems to come from increases in technology is merely a byproduct of such 'progress', or if it is actually a motivation of our collective subconscious not to be 'bothered' by others if we don't wish to be - stemming from our own insecurities...

~PS

Good Times.

Tuesday October 2, 2007 at 11:56am work, coffeehouse, dogs, gaming, church, family, golf Comments (2) »

I've had quite a bit of fun the last few days.

On friday I built the framework for a sort of work side-project. I'm pretty excited about this one - it'll be really cool, I think. Yes, this counts as "fun". I'm a geek like that.

On friday night we went to the coffeehouse at Ginger's church. Not much was going on, but it was cool just to hang out and talk to people. I watched some friends play Go. Interesting little board game. Some of them were also talking about the world traveling they'd done. I kinda wish I had been / could go to some cool places like that...

On saturday our dog Ally got the bath she needed. She wasn't such a fan, but she's a good little beagle and so it wasn't a terribly difficult task - even by myself. After that Sheri and I walked her around the backyard for a bit and sat in the shade (of our neighbor's tree) for a while. It was a beautiful afternoon.

On saturday night we continued and wrapped up a d&d game I'd been running for a few sessions. I think it went pretty well. I've now started some work on the two new games I'm starting. With the Liimar game and Robb's Exalted (see below), this makes 4 rpg's I'm in or running. I think I'm insane. It's a fun insane, but still...

On sunday, we went to church in Erwin as usual. I'm very glad that we have a wireless net connection at the church now - since we're kinda stuck there all day. I spent most of sunday afternoon working on putting the finishing touches on the project I mentioned working on on friday. Very excited about that. Sheri was working on choir stuff. We did go outside and play a couple of games of Kubb (which happened to be in the jeep), however.

Sunday night was also the 'all-sing' - where the area churches get together and sing together and for each other. It's not my favorite thing in the world, but Sheri's choir sounded pretty good. Plus we got to hang out with people and have snacks after.

On sunday night my mom came back through from visiting my sister in SC. I'm always glad to see family. Don't see them much since they're all quite far away.

On monday morning, mom and I went out and played 9 holes at Pine Oaks Golf Course. That was lots of fun. Beautiful morning. I played better than I think I ever have - which was pretty impressive considering it had been almost exactly 4 months since I'd played - and I played terribly that day. As it turns out, I think my grip was most of the problem. A simple tip that mom happened to mention that she saw on her video completely transformed my game. I've never had a piece of technique make such a difference. I birdied a hole for the first time ever, and I par'd the 8th and 9th. Total score for the round was 48. I could have dropped a couple strokes if i hadn't made a few chipping/putting mistakes. More than that though, my shots just felt better - more solid. Of course now I'm setting myself up to do terribly next time, since I'll be expecting much more than I was yesterday...

I also thought about how lucky I was that I have a job where I can just kinda take time off to hang out with my family if they happen to come through.

On monday (last) night, we finally got to play Robb's Exalted game. I had a lot of fun. It's a pretty interesting premise and system. Plus I get to play a shapeshifter. I have a soft spot for shapeshifters. Also, there are some people in that group that I haven't gamed with in years. I'm looking forward to continuing this one.

So yeah... ...the rest of my week looks pretty boring compared to the last several days...

~PS

Moving the Mainframe

Sunday September 16, 2007 at 4:38pm friends, moving Comments (0) »

So we helped Eric (aka Speaker for the Dead) move into a new apartment yesterday. That was a high-level if not epic task.

He was moving out of a 1-room efficiency apartment. It was so small that he wasn't able to pack everything because he ran out of room. We were comparing the size of the apartment to the size of the uhaul we were putting the stuff in. It wasn't much bigger.

The sleeper sofa couch he has is exceedingly heavy, gives you splinters, and doesn't fit nicely through any doorway. Moving that was probably the most daunting task. The waterbed was a close second, but wasn't too bad after it finally drained (via methods that can only be described as 'the hard way').

This brings me to my subject line: I swear the man has more computer-related equipment and spare parts than kevin and I combined at the height of our pc-collections - and that's saying something. I swear we moved at least 7 crt monitors.

His new place is 6 or 7 steps up. Aside from actually having more than one room, it's about twice as big and looks really classy. Like, he might actually have room for visitors.

And he even took us out for pizza after we had completed our mission.

All said, it was a good time.

~PS

Jellyface & the Week

Saturday August 25, 2007 at 2:09pm food, origami, gaming, photography Comments (0) »

It never fails: If I eat peanut butter and jelly, i get jelly all over my face.

It is inevitable.

So this week was pretty ok. Same as usual for the most part. Calendar was pretty blank. I'm starting to get some of the big projects for work out of the way. At least until i get the next one.

Made an origami owl last night. That was pretty fun. I tried making a flying stork too, but i couldn't figure out the starting point (the book was less than great as an instructional device).

Still trying to sort out my gaming schedule for the upcoming games - trying to figure out how much my plate can hold.

Still wanting to go out and take some pictures with ginger's spiffy camera. She said she'd get some film for her other camera, let me use her digital and we could go around, take pictures and hopefully teach me some stuff. Preferably some day when it's not too hot/humid/raining/etc.

~PS

This week.

Sunday August 19, 2007 at 10:13pm work, gaming, picnic, church, boating, swimming Comments (1) »

A quick '"here's what went on" entry, because I have another to post -

This week's been pretty good, all things told. Pretty busy work week - working on a big project.

Sheri started her new job friday and survived her first day. Yay on both counts! :-)

Friday night we had another good gaming session. I'm reallying enjoying this particular game. It's intended to be short and contained, but I like the fact that I had almost all of the scenrio mapped out ahead of time and it's a pretty good story for a game.

Saturday we went on a picnic to Sycamore Shoals and hiked around a bit after.

Today we went out on Boone lake on a pontoon boat with some people from church - spent the day tubing and swimming and generally having a good time. Even saw some people and boats in piratety garb!

~PS

On The Summer

Sunday August 12, 2007 at 6:05pm summer, gaming, music, recording, yard work, work, dogs Comments (2) »

...which is almost over. Doesn't seem like it should be this late already.

So the summer has been pretty good. Pretty busy in places. Schedules of people have tended to be less than predictable as well. I mean more than usual.

Not enough gaming went on this summer - perhaps the slowest on record since graduation - i'm not sure. We've got a couple few sessions together, but nothing major. I have been working on quite a bit of gaming stuff, however.

I've also been continuing work on my recording project again recently - which tends to go in spurts. Before this last week I hadn't touched it in at least a month, maybe more. I'm kinda stuck on the words to the song I'm working on atm.

I am further convinced we need a riding mower. That grass just gets too tall too fast for my poor little push mower. It's not so much the pushing I don't like, it's the must-stop-every-five-feet-to-keep-the-mower-from-dying that annoys me. I suppose I could merely upgrade the pushmower to something a bit more heavy duty, but i'm not sure what i'd need or how much of a help it would actually be.

Sheri starts her new job at Milligan this week. :-) That'll be great. She'll actually be able to do stuff in the evenings now instead of working 2-11pm (the 'no life' shift).

My job is going pretty well - though we're about to be very busy. Getting a couple few large projects, though I am happy the boss-man turned one of them down. It would have been quite a bit of money for the business, but it would have been very difficult and resource consuming. He decided it just wasn't worth it, and I agree.

Also on the subject of work, Andy's doing a great job with us. I've been really impressed with his graphic work. I mean, he went to school for that, but he seems to have a lot of innate talent as well.

We've also had a couple of cool family visits this summer. Speaking of, Jamie sent me an email a while back saying she might be able to come visit this month, but I haven't heard from her since... ...that would be cool. She even promised to give Ally a bath. heh.

~PS

Remote Blogging

Sunday July 29, 2007 at 4:35pm internet, computers, work, family, gaming, friends Comments (1) »

It's been a while since there's been a blog.

I'm currentlly sitting upstairs at our church in the youth room on the couch. They finally got a DSL connection here, and I have the wireless key.

It's kind of odd to be hanging out here, writing a blog and seeing my office over in the sushi-cam. Odd in a cool way, though. Heh.

Now, if only I had a macbook, this would be even sweeter.

Not much has been going on lately, actually (hence, the bloglessness). Work's been pretty busy/hectic. We've been pretty impressed with Andy's work though. We just have a lot of big development projects coming in. Some I'm excited about; some not so much.

My parents came by a few weekends ago on their way down to Myrtle Beach. They met us over at Ginger's place and played Apples to Apples with us for a while. Then we went back to the Igloo and talked for a bit. Saturday morning, dad replaced the dash in my jeep (the speedometer was broken). Yeah, he's in here for all of 12 hours, and he manages to fix something. He's cool like that.

I've been working quite a bit on my d20 campaign setting for Liimar. It's been a pretty fun, yet challeneging experience, because there's so many mechanics i've decided to play with. I've changed my mind about how I want most of the stuff to work about 16 times. I can't wait to get enough of it done so that I can try some more on my guinea p- ...er...i mean "players"... ...so that I can change how it works a dozen or so more times.

Got to meet another, local gamer the other night. Name's Nick. He seems pretty cool - he's already made the quote list even. We'll have to put something together to play sometime soon.

~PS

GitP Gathering: June 30 - July 1st 2007

Monday July 2, 2007 at 11:30am gitp, ootscon report, lawn games, friends, gaming Comments (5) »

This last weekend was a blast. Those of us here in Johnson City, TN who are members of the GitP Forums all got together and also hosted several out-of-state members for the two-fold purpose of getting to meet each other in person and having a lot of fun.

I would say our mission was a complete success.

Sadly, not everyone who wanted to was able to come, but those of us who were present had an awesome time.

The meetup started friday night as we converged upon Llama's apartment. I believe Jerry was the first to arrive. Amanda and Ginger had also arrived by the time I got there around 8:00pm. Justin (who I'm told is Lord Xerxes on the board, but whom I've not actually encountered there) was also around, as it was his house too.
We tried to play a game of Kubb, but it got called on account of lightening. We had just begun a game of Apples to Apples when Ron arrived, so we dealt him in.
After some games and a run to the grocery store for refreshing beverages, some of our company departed to Ging's place for the evening. Llama was trying valiantly to stay awake on the couch while me & Jerry talked about random stuff until about 3am when Dave finally arrived.

On saturday, we went over to Ginger's place for breakfast around 10am for breakfast. From there, we went over to the Greenwood Challenge Course to use their little pavilion and field for some grilling out and playing Kubb. There we met up with Robb (who got the place for us), Edie and Ken. We spent the afternoon playing Kubb, eating grilled goodness and generally having a good time. I took a lot of pictures (see the gallery) with Ginger's spiffy camera. I kinda want one of those.

After we left our outdoor meeting location, we proceeded to Ginger's church's basement (where the Just Coffee coffeehouse is) for the evening where some of the group played the OotS board game and a couple played some other board games. Sheri, Llama, Ron and I played a D&D one-shot I'd made up a while back. It was pretty fun.

After church on Sunday, we met up with the group here where we did a little more grilling (with our spiffy new gas grill!) and hung out and talked until people needed to leave.

All in all, it was one of the coolest things I've done. :-) I am so looking forward to doing it again. Like I said after meeting Ceika and the Hippie (the first time), it was so cool to get to meet people from other states you'd only talked to online - especially when they are so much fun to hang out with.

~PS

Happy Birthday?

Thursday June 7, 2007 at 1:43pm birthdays, penguins Comments (1) »

Did someone move my birthday while I wasn't looking? I just got a birthday card in the mail from sheri's mom.

Now, I know she knows when my birthday actually is - but looking at it, you can probably guess why I got this card. Apparently she found this one somewhere and decided she couldn't wait 6 months.

I don't suppose the summer-themed card would go real well for my december-themed birthday either, so maybe that's a justification for its prematureness.

It is quite fun - and it makes a nice addition to my penguin-themed life.

~PS

Pushing buttons.

Monday June 4, 2007 at 4:00pm practical jokes, going too far Comments (0) »

I thought for a while about whether I wanted to say anything about this at all. And I was originally going to send this in an email, but I decided to put it up here so that everyone could get the message. I'd also like to point out that I've rewritten this a couple of times, removing various expletives.

There are some buttons you should not push with some people. Everyone has these. I would have thought that some of you might know a little bit more of my personality than this, but apparently not, so let me spell it out for you.

This is with reference to a particular set of practical jokes I do no appreciate. They go something like this:

The joker sets up some scenario that looks odd, but is not outside the possibility of being real. The "joke" is such that the intended target will react to it as though the contrived situation it is real. A little knowledge of the target allows the joker to tailor the scenario a little such that the target is more likely to buy it, or such that the reaction is more dramatic. Basically the idea is to make a fool of someone - which seems inherently mean-spirited to me.

Now, up to this point, i merely think the joke is stupid (not that most practical jokes aren't, mind you) - and I know for a fact I've had this conversation with some of you before when the target of the "joke" wasn't even me. See, the target of this kind of joke (and others like it) has no reason to think the situation is contrived beyond its oddity - and oddity alone is not sufficient for my life. The stupid aspect to me is that they're really not doing anything that anyone wouldn't fall for. How is it funny that I "fell for it" if there's really no way not to? There was no challenge there; no accomplishment. There was really no reason to be suspicious. Oh, except now. Now I'm likely to be a *lot* more suspicious of everything, since it seems my friends like to make a fool of me. Thanks.

But the part that really pisses me off, is that even AFTER I react to it, they don't come clean - they just continue to laugh about it to themselves. I'm sure they're "just kidding" - but they never let me in on the joke. So I find out about it weeks/months/years/whatever later, and now I feel stupid because I know that the jokers have been laughing about this for all that time - even though there's no way in hell I could have known. Again, thanks for that.

I know for a fact this has been done to me at least twice (and I have a one or two more general suspicions) - so now I'm telling you: I am not amused. Don't push this button with me. If you truly feel the need to laugh at me behind my back, i'm sure you can find a more legitimate reason.

PLEASE STOP IT.

~PS

Painting [cont]

Wednesday May 30, 2007 at 11:06am our house, painting Comments (0) »

So i've spent a considerable amount of time the last few days doing some painting in the bathroom and the hallway. Strangely, to those of you who've seen these rooms in the last couple of months, you probably won't notice. See, those areas have been painted for a while now, but there is/was lots of 'touching up' to do, which is mainly what i've been working on. It's slow going and you have to do it in stages, but it's coming...

We now have about 3 areas painted. I'll put up a couple more pictures when I get a little more done.

~PS

Music and Recordings

Sunday May 27, 2007 at 5:37pm music, recording Comments (0) »

I've been working compiling a bunch of stuff I've recorded over the years. Eventually, there will some sort of music page on this site. I've even dug up some of the really old stuff my old band from IN recorded forever ago. Granted I don't *like* much of it anymore, but I'd feel a little wrong leaving it out...

In related news, I've gotten pretty darn good with Garageband and the little recording setup I've got here. I'm currently working on what will be a cohesive album. I'm about 8 songs into the recording process. I'll probably have that posted on the music page whenever I get done with it - but since I've been working on it since February, it will probably be quite a while before I'm done with it... ...and probably quite a while after that before i'm happy enough with it to call it 'done'.

~PS

Celebrity Irony

Saturday May 5, 2007 at 11:36pm funny, irony, rolling eyes Comments (0) »

I've seen all sorts of amusing things at stores lately...

We were at the grocery today. You know how there are always about 13 million tabloids / celebrity gossip publications there? Today I saw one with a headline that read "Can they stop the rumors?"

Well, not if you keep printing them.

~PS

Wondrous Item: Blue Topaz

Friday May 4, 2007 at 4:06pm gaming, funny Comments (0) »

We were out earlier today, running some errands, etc. We had gone into walmart to pick up a couple of random things.

At the jewelry counter, I saw a cardstock sign detailing the birthstones for the 12 months. Signs like this are fairly common at jewelry counters and generally are cheesy or uninteresting (usually both), but I was waiting on Sheri and there wasn't much else interesting in the area either.

It was then that I happened to read the entry for December (mine & sheri's birth month). According to this particular sign, ("According to Legend") the Blue Topaz has the following abilities:

- Dispels enchantments
- Increases the wearer's strength
- Makes wearer invisible in times of emergency
- Changes color in the presence of poisoned food or drink

It actually reads like an entry from the Dungeon Master's Guide - and a pretty cool one at that. I also noted that none of the other months were anything like that - apart from November (i think), which was said to protect against snake bites.

~PS

Just some things

Tuesday May 1, 2007 at 4:19pm penguins, coffeehouse, music, gaming, lawn games, dentistry Comments (0) »

....been goin' on....

April 25th, for those of you who don't know, was World Penguin Day. :)

Friday was the last Just Coffee for the year. We had some fun hanging out and playing some music. I got to play with a marimba-like instrument and also I got to try playing violin. I can fake my way through 'Twinkle, Twinkle' - which I find pretty impressive since I'd never picked up the instrument before. I really want to learn now though.

We've got to game quite a bit lately. The Liimar (experimental campaign) is progressing rather nicely and continues to be lots of fun. I brought my currently running campaign to a close on saturday. That gives me a bit of a sense of accomplishment. I've been working on future games quite a bit as well.

We had a bit of a lawn-game party before the gaming commenced. It was quite fun, despite being delayed by the weather.

I went to the dentist for the first time in several years today. My teeth have several problems to fix, but it wasn't any worse than I expected - and in some ways, better. We get to start that mess next thursday...

I think that's about it for now...

Further updates as events warrant...

~PS

Lawn Games and other Mayhem

Monday April 23, 2007 at 10:23am lawn games, video games, gaming, yard work Comments (5) »

Lawn games are fun. Particularly when you have a lawn to play them on.

Tony finally taught us to play Kubb last week. It's a fun little lawn game of 'throw the block, throw the stick'. On wednesday, we played an augmented version - involving munchkins running through the field whilst playing. The object then became 'throw the ball, throw the stick, miss the munchkin'. Anyway, by saturday, 7 new people had been introduced to this particular swedish lawn game.

On saturday we taught tony how to play Bocce - since he'd somehow managed to escape playing that game with us to that point. We had fun with that one on our hilly and lumpy backyard.

Other than lawn game mayhem, we had some other fun times this weekend. A bunch of us got together at Mike & Steph's on friday to play Wii and generally just hang out. That was fun.

On sunday we got to do a little gaming. That's always fun - particularly this game, since all the players do such a good job roleplaying these somewhat odd PC's.

Oh, also I got the backyard and a good chunk of the front yard mowed (again). I've also procured a weed eater that I may smite down the tall grass in the ditch on the edge of our lawn sometime soon.

~PS

New Old Friends

Tuesday April 17, 2007 at 3:42pm friends, gaming, food Comments (2) »

So I got to have lunch with Ken today. (aka Raldor, aka WiseTurtle)

It's always interesting to spend some time hanging out with someone you used to see pretty regularly but (for whatever reason) haven't seen in a few years.

So we talked about work and OoTS and friends and gaming over some Funny Name sandwiches. It was really cool. I'm looking forward to him coming to game with us. It's been a while...

~PS

His mother was a chinese trapeze artist

Thursday April 5, 2007 at 9:58am music, concerts, long freakin post Comments (0) »

Last night, Sam, Nick, Larry and I went to Knoxville to see The Decemberists at the Tennessee Theatre.

That was easily the coolest thing I've ever seen. Period. Really.

The trip started out with some minor hiccups - like the exit we were supposed to take being closed to the point of non-existence and the fact that there's really not much in the way of restaurants (that we could find) in downtown Knoxville.

Once at the theatre, however, it was awesome. We were there plenty early and so stopped at the table at which they were selling stuff. I got a spiffy, blue Decemberists t-shirt - which was, in fact, a goal of mine. :)

The theatre itself is beautiful. Very ornately decorated and old-fashioned looking - yet with a modern twist of having some very cool color-changing cove lights which illuminated various alcoves and borders. It occurred to Sam and I that its style really seemed to go well with the band.

The opening act was My Brightest Diamond. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance - though I have to say, I think I prefer the energy and attitude she has on stage to their somewhat mellower recordings of the same songs.

At about 9, the Decemberists came on stage. As I said before, their show was amazing. Every member of the band played at least two different instruments - and most played three or more. Its one thing for a band to have dramatic instrumentation on their recordings - it's another thing to watch them do it all in a live show. I have an even greater appreciation for their musical talent. Their live performance easily sounds just as good as their albums, if not better.

They played mostly songs from Picaresque and The Crane Wife - with a few others thrown in. They brought out the singer from My Brightest Diamond to sing with them on Yankee Bayonet (one of my favorite songs of theirs). I always think it's cool when artists collaborate like that.

The most notable song I suppose was the Mariner's Revenge - which they played as an encore. They had wrapped up their performance and left the stage but, at our continued prompting, returned for one last song.

For those of you who don't know the song, it tells the story of a boy who goes off in search of a man who betrayed his mother some years earlier. He eventually catches up with him on the high seas, only for all of them to be swallowed by a whale.

Colin (the lead singer) told us that we had to supply the sound effects of a multitude of people being swallowed by a whale - i.e., screaming - at the appropriate time when his bandmate directed us. Once that instruction was given, they began playing the song - which they essentially goofed-off their way through, but yet somehow played it flawlessly. I would do a poor job describing exactly how their stage antics went for this one, but I'll hit a couple of points to give you a hint:

The drummer was only playing a floor tom - which scooted across the stage in a random direction each time he hit it. At one point in the song where there was no drum line, he actually picked up the tom and put it over the head of the bass player, who continued playing the large stand-up bass he was holding. When the drummer took it off, the bass player pulled the bow out of the sheath on the bass and mimed stabbing him with it.

At a particular bridge in the song, the entire band sort of hopped side to side while playing the song in a sort of waltz time. It looked hilarious, yet fit the song and the band wonderfully.

At the point in the song where the characters are swallowed by the whale, we were directed to scream as a giant costumed whale plodded out onto the stage (didn't see this one coming...), engaged in a brief battle with the band members (most of whom continued to play the song while the lead guitar player pantomimed beating it with his guitar). The whale ate all the band members, who collapsed on the stage as the lights when out at the musical break at that point in the song.

The lights slowly returned as they played the rest of the song, at the end of which is a particular repetition of a musical phrase at faster and faster tempos - which they took to extremes not on the recorded version. The accordian player was quite tired at the end of that one.

I know why they played that song last: Nothing follows that.

I would highly recommend their show to anyone who is even passively amused by their particular style. They did a fantastic job. If/when they come back to Knoxville, I will be going if it's at all possible.

~PS

Blame the Sickness

Monday March 5, 2007 at 11:01am health, moving, friends Comments (1) »

So I haven't written much here lately. I'm going to go ahead and blame it on being sick. Or, at least, on not being well.

It's not that I *feel* bad exactly, I've just been congested for...a good while now. To the point that my ears are stuffed up. Yeah, that's a new one for me. Anyway, I'm taking some stuff now that seems to be helping. Hopefully I'll get rid of this soon.

So anyway...

About the only interesting thing we did this week was on Saturday when we helped Ginger move into her new place: a nice, 70's-ish townhouse a couple miles from her old place. It's a considerable step up. She's pretty excited about it.

We had quite a little party doing it too - Ginger, her parents, Sheri & I, Tony, Mike & Steph and Chris Mak all took part in the event. It was pretty cool to get to hang out with all of them - some of whom I hadn't seen in a while.

During the packing and the loading, we showed Ginger where some of the remaining pirate booty (from Project Pink Pirate - see the Sept 2005 blog, or the We Have Your Keys gallery) was hidden - as we promised. I still can't remember where the last silver one is. We may never know.

The move itself only took about 4.5 hours - pretty good time, I think. After we got all the stuff over to her new place, we had some pizza and unpacked/set up a bunch of stuff to get Ging started with the mammoth task of unpacking. It was all quite enjoyable - even with my annoying cough.

Hmm... Maybe I can blame the fact that I put the futon together wrong on my congestion too...?

~PS

Some Posting

Wednesday February 21, 2007 at 9:45am auto repair, health, our house, painting Comments (3) »

Well, it's been a little while since I've made an entry here, so...

There's not a whole lot to say really, except that I'm about done with two things.

The first being the car problems we keep having. We have decided to go ahead and fix sheri's car - even though it's probably not worth it - just because we can't afford to be without another car right now. We have decided that we need to start looking for something else though. Hopefully something we have to worry about less.

The second thing I'm 'about done' with is my health - or lack thereof. For the last couple weeks now I've been pretty congested and occassionally quite sick. At least thus far I haven't had to cancel anything because of it.

In other news, the hall and the bathroom are almost finished in terms of painting. We've also got some nifty bathroom fixtures (things like towel bars and toilet paper holders) to put up when we're done. That, however, has also been put on hold as the paint fumes certainly won't help my illnesses and may well be part of my problem.

~PS

Triumphs and Nachos

Sunday February 4, 2007 at 9:57pm auto repair, gaming, our house, painting, food, video games Comments (3) »

A mere 19 hours after its ignition switch broke in the lowes parking lot, my jeep was up and running again - thanks to my jeep manual, a local junk yard, some special tools and the tremendous driving efforts of our friend ginger.

So, once again, we have a car to drive. Sheri's is still in the shop, awaiting some diagnosis.

Despite the jeep's crisis, we still had our game on saturday (a bit late). It was a good session.

Today we didn't have to stay in erwin. Instead, we came back here and put the first coat of paint on the hallway. It's looking pretty darn good.

After the painting, we did NOT watch the superbowl. Seems none of us care much about it. Imagine that.

Instead, we had some nachos with cheese/meat/tomato dip (recipe ala kevin) for dinner and played some serious mario kart. We have proven that Sheri makes the meanest yoshi ever.

~PS

Things I did while not blogging

Monday January 29, 2007 at 11:31am our house, friends, food, birthdays, gaming Comments (1) »

Another weekend came and went. It was a pretty good one.

On friday and saturday sheri and I talked about some stuff for the house and decided that I'll start working on the hallway this week. I became much more interested in the project when we decided not to paint the hallway white. White is boring. The first step is to repair a couple cracks and smooth out the drywall. I'll be photo-documenting it and i'll try to put some pictures up as I go - or at least when it's done.

Kevin was in town this weekend too. It's always nice to get to hang out with out-of-town friends for a bit.

Saturday night we all took tony to Misaki's (japanese hibachi steakhouse place) for his 25th birthday. I've decided I like Misaki's pretty well - despite the fact that I don't like chinese much and I haven't been a fan of any eastern food in the past. It was tasty.

We gave tony a llama calendar and ginger gave him a shirt that says 'the penguin made me do it'. Appropriate on so many levels.

Last night we finally got to continue one of my d&d games that's been on hold for a while. We had a good session.

I think a couple more quotes got added to 'the list' this week too.

~PS

Random News

Saturday January 20, 2007 at 11:04am penguins, holidays, economy, gaming, music Comments (1) »

Just so you all know, today is Penguin Awareness Day. This was *not* going unmentioned.

In other news, gas prices have finally dropped below $2 here in east TN. As per my previous agreement with the fuel companies, I will now cease complaining about the high price of gasoline until it is once again above $2.

Congrats to one Tony "Llama" for having successfully conquered Ape Escape 3 earlier this week. Catching 142 monkeys is no small task.

Game night at the coffeehouse last night was fun - but that was the most drawn-out game of Shadows over Camelot I've ever not finished. One of the guys that was playing with us heard us talking and said we should have a d&d night at the coffeehouse. This amuses me.

Lastly, I've been playing my new guitar a lot. My fingers aren't used to it, but it's been lots of fun. I think I need to retire my old effects pedal though. If I have enough money relatively soon I think I'll by a Boss EQ pedal so I can ditch the thing.

~PS

Weekend Frenzy

Monday December 18, 2006 at 11:06am friends, choir, work, funny, birthdays, holidays, long freakin post Comments (0) »

This is going to be a long one.

I'm tired.

I'm not entirely sure why, since I slept in a bit this morning, but I'm still tired.

My only theory about why I don't seem to have any energy today is the amount of running around we did this weekend.

On friday I had work as usual, then we went into town to finish up our christmas shopping.

After that, Sheri needed to go to Erwin for what was supposed to be a practice for the kid's program that was to be put on sunday night. Unfortunately, only 2 of the kids showed up so there wasn't much point to it. Keep in mind, there'd only been one other practice for this thing the previous wednesday.

On the plus side, Sam & Erin were there and I personally had a great time getting to talk to them.

After we had returned home, my sister arrived. She was on her way to IN for Christmas break and didn't want to make the whole trip in one day.

The next day we had a rehearsal for the choir cantata that was to go on on sunday morning. It went pretty well.

After returning from that, we went out to lunch with Jese before she left to continue to IN.

We then went to the JC Chorale's Christmas concert. Sheri was sad that she didn't get to sing in it, but she enjoyed watching and talking to some of the Chorale members. They miss her. I got to talk to Rucht a bit about gaming and other assorted things. I also ran into Sue and we talked about the website i'm doing for Watauga a bit.

After that, we went to the Crazy Tomato for our 'company christmas dinner' with KW (boss-man), Addie (coworker, boss-man's wife), Brandon (coworker) & Randy (brandon's wife). We talked about how we did this year and what we're looking to accomplish next year. Pretty much all good news. Brandon & I also got spiffy old navy fleece pull-overs with our company logo. Sheri and Randy each got throw blankets (because Addie didn't think it was fair that the boys got stuff but the girls didn't). Brandon and Randy gave us a cool cinnamon candle and a penguin ornament. I felt like kind of a bum - since we didn't even think about christmas presents. I wasn't expecting anything and we were so busy that I didn't have time to wonder. I'll remember for next year though.

Another thing I wasn't expecting was the bonus that Brandon & I got. I'm planning on putting mine toward a new electric guitar - something I've been wanting to get for a while now.

Sunday morning we had the cantata - which went very well, the choir did great. After church we helped the Rosolina's a little as they set up the set for the children's program that night. Then we went home for the afternoon (something we usually don't do).

We had a relaxing afternoon and then returned to Erwin to practice the children's program one more time. Around 6:45 people started arriving and the program went on at 7. It went pretty well, all things considered. After that we had our resident santa come and give out little gift bags to all the kids - and to the staff. Seeing Dr. Gwaltney sit on Santa's lap was hilarious. After all the festivities we disassembled the set and put the stage back the way it normally is.

Probably the most memorable part of the entire evening was Katie's little mishap with the baby jesus. See, I think the church has had the small, hollow, plastic-formed baby jesus for about 30 years. It was so old, the paint had worn off of most of it so it was mostly just white. And it was ugly. Really ugly. It actually closely resembled a prairie dog - especially the way Erin had placed him in the manger - sticking straight up.

So anyway - Sam, Katie and I were standing in the choir room. Katie was holding the plastic baby jesus saying she should hide it so that they'd have to use something else next year. In fact, she said, if that was her kid, he'd better be the son of god, because that's all he's got going for him. She must have been squeezing a bit too tight as she gestured because at about the time she finished this statement, the baby jesus EXPLODED. It didn't just crumble and fall apart mind you - there was an audible *pop* as little pieces of christ flew out about 5 feet in every direction. Katie's half-terrified / half-amused expression was priceless. Sam stared at her wide-eyed and gasped "You broke baby Jesus!". I simply laughed uncontrollably.

After we finished cleaning up, we departed. Sheri and I then went to Cheddars where we met Ginger, Tony and Justin for dinner somewhat in honor of my birthday (which is actually today. happy birthday to me). We enjoyed some good food and amusing conversation even as my energy level decreased rapidly.

After dinner, we returned to the Igloo where I got to open some birthday presents. They also got me an ice-cream cake that I was way to full to eat any of. I think I'll have some today though.

After that, we had our own little christmas party as everyone is leaving the state sometime this week. It was fun.

I ended up with a few cute, new additions to my penguin army, a ps game that looks like fun and a 10 inch figure of Marvin, the manically-depressed robot from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy.

I may well have left some parts out of this crazy weekend, but that's what I remember off the top of my head.

~PS

A good weekend

Monday December 11, 2006 at 10:25am birthdays, video games, gaming, friends Comments (0) »

It was a good weekend.

Friday was Sheri's birthday. I took her out to dinner and then we, llama and the EP drove out to see the Speedway in Lights. That was fun.

Continuing their past tradition, ging and tony got sheri the 3rd Mario Party game. I gave her a dvd of White Christmas and a new Ticket To Ride game - which is pretty fun.

Saturday we had a choir rehearsal and then we returned and I got to run my d&d game for the last time for the year. (Which gives me PLENTY of time to come up with the trials that await the party in the tunnels outside Fissure. Cue maniacal laughter.)

Sunday we spent in Erwin as usual, though, unlike usual, we were invited to lunch at Shelton & Gale's (along with Craig and Meghan), which was very enjoyable.

Nothing overly interesting or exciting or 'blog worthy', but I feel pretty good this monday morning.

~PS

Too Much Web Development

Thursday November 30, 2006 at 11:06am coding Comments (0) »

I know I've been doing this too much. Too high a percentage of my typing is related to various web languages.

I have come to this conclusion within the last 5 minutes.

Seems I was typing up a support ticket for one of our sites, and came to the word mysql (GAH! I did it again!) 'myself', and instead typed 'mysql'.

while($this-> !isset(extract(ly) bothersome yet)) {if($it == "getting worse"){echo "i\'m not sure what to" do()}}.

~PS

Doomed to Random Encounters

Thursday November 9, 2006 at 1:17pm helping others, random encounters Comments (0) »

So I just went out to pick up my paycheck. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I was flagged down by a guy asking if I'd give him a ride. We talked for a minute and I kinda thought about how, being a christian, i probably ought to show love and compassion to the world around me - so i told him to get in.

He was very apologetic about the whole thing and continued to assure me he was not 'bad people'. Turns out he had come into town with a friend of his, gotten drunk and seperated and didn't have a ride home. I could still smell a little on him, but he seemed to be mostly in his right mind.

We were driving out toward 11e, where he said he lived, when he tried to convince me to stop somewhere to get him 'something to take home' - in the way of alcohol. I told him very plainly that I wasn't ok with that. Despite a few additional efforts to convince me otherwise, I told him I'd take him where he wanted to go - either to his house, or somewhere else, but I was only making one stop and then I was heading out. Ultimately, he had me drop him at a hardees. He thanked me for the help and we went our seperate ways.

So as I drove home, I thought 'well, that was unusual'. I also thought about whether I'd handled the whole thing 'correctly'.

When I got home I discovered the Jehovah's Witnesses had stopped by and left a tract outside our door. Seems I was destined to have a random encounter today pretty much no matter what.

~PS

The 'Ween

Wednesday November 1, 2006 at 10:29am friends, gaming, little kids Comments (2) »

Well, yesterday evening was both more interesting than it could have been and less.

Because this is our first year in this house, we had no idea if we'd get any trick-or-treaters or not. Due to a certain incident last year wherein we were caught completely unawares, we decided to stock up on candy just to be safe - which we began snacking on rather early in the evening.

Ginger and Tony also came over for a bit, and we played a game of Munchkin Bites - which was the most halloween-related game we could come up with.

We only had one trick-or-treater, and she was solicited. Mike & Steph brought katie over (dressed as supergirl) to our place for a couple hours. She spent that time working off some of her sugar high by running around aimlessly and playing with us.

All in all, the night was lots of fun.

~PS

Stuff Breaks

Friday September 8, 2006 at 9:47am technology, thinking too much Comments (0) »

It occurs to me that i really shouldn't be surprised when my stuff develops some sort of problem. I am so reliant on technology, and technology is so at the mercy of the world around it (for which is very seldom prepared) that the breaking down of stuff is inevitable.

Further, the liklihood of all my stuff being completely functional at any given time is virtually nill.

In short, the struggle to keep certain things working even as other things need fixing should be a natural state - something I am used to.

Yet I am not. I get very frustrated when my stuff doesn't work the way it's 'supposed to', even though, if i really think about it, its eventual breakdown is an unescapable aspect of its operational matrix - i.e., something it is, in fact, 'supposed' to do.

Not that this is the first time i've realized this paradox, nor its stating likely to keep me from getting just as frustrated as my stuff continues to break, but i sometimes think reminding myself of these obvious principles of technology is the only thing that keeps me from forswearing it completely.

~PS

Stupidity Support

Thursday August 31, 2006 at 5:20pm website, being stupid, tech support Comments (0) »

As some of you already know, I have begun work on the next version of this Website (yes, please be sure my ghost has plenty of pepsi). In the course of writing a script to export my blog from the current db and import it into a slightly different format, I accidentally emptied the db table. The source table. I had completely erased my entire blog. Crap.

Kevin suggested I try some things to try to recover the data, and I found some stuff online about bin logs, but sadly, i don't know what i'm doing. Nor do I actually know if my hoster gives me sufficient permissions to do it anyway.

After about 2 hours of mucking about, I decided I couldn't pull it off. I submitted a support ticket to ICDSoft's support service. Within 23 minutes of my submission, my database table had been restored.

This has shown me two things, both of which I already knew from previous experiences:

1) For the sake of pete and his dragon, pay more attention to what you're doing.

2) The support my host provides is amazing.

Well, I'm off to backup my db before I try messing with it some more.

~PS

Sam I Am?

Sunday August 20, 2006 at 9:45pm little kids, church, friends, work, gaming, mac Comments (3) »

This is Abby Grace. When asked about me by Ginger, she has said that I am:
A) Not scary.
B) Not weird.
C) Sam.

Apparently I am considered to be Sam because I also play guitar. I love little kids. They're so cute. Abby in particular. I'm kinda bummed now that they're going to a different church and I don't get to see them every week. We did get to see them today, however.

Today was our church picnic. Despite the dreariness of parts of the day, it was a lot of fun. Sam and I got in some good practice time, we all got to swim (in very cold water), had good food, and played a 2 hour game of Purple Ball. We are, in fact, the best Purple Ball players in East Tennessee.

The rest of this weekend has been pretty good too. Warren (boss-man) took me & Brandon out for breakfast on friday. Friday night we spent with Ginger and Tony playing mario party.

Saturday, my game (finally) continued as The Party attempted not to get themselves killed by some eel-people and discover why , how and by whom an underground town had been partially flooded. Fun and mayhem.

I've also been catching up with some out-of-state friends I haven't heard from in a while. I came across at least 3 people I hadn't emailed in ages when I imported my address book to my mac. It's been cool.

~PS

Up, Running and Named

Tuesday August 15, 2006 at 11:23am mac, names, thinking too much Comments (1) »

Well, I've had my new Mac up and running for about a week now. It has now proven itself to be the best, fastest, prettiest, most efficient, most easy to use machine I have ever owned - all without a single major headache. The most 'fighting' with it I've had to do is resolve a permissions issue to get dvd's to play. This took all of about 5 minutes - 4.5 to figure out the problem, about 30 seconds to open Disk Utility and fix it.

It has been given the name Hikaru (Angelic Layer) - which roughly ranslates to 'to shine, glitter, be bright'. Ooooh. Shiny.

The ipod nano that I got with it has been given the name Sumomo (Chobits) - after a small, portable character.

The portable harddrive Kevin gave me full of stuff for the mac has been named The Pensieve (Harry Potter). Seemed appropriate.

The printer has not been named. I really don't see a need to, but this has got me thinking about names and naming things - specifically, inanimate things.

So I've got to thinking - what merits a proper name? Any inanimate facsimile of something that would ordinarily be named can (and should) be named - things like dolls and stuffed animals. But what about other things?

Now, I don't name things nearly so prolifically as some of my friends (like guitars, bookbags, cars, etc), but I do like to have something to call some of my stuff besides 'the computer', etc. I've found that I name anything that has some interactive qualities to it - hence the computer and the ipod easily merit names. The portable harddrive interacts with my computer, which insists that it have something to be called by.

This leaves (at least) one additional question: why name things? I think there are several reasons we name things. One is that its easier to call something by a name. One is that its more fun and allows us to be creative. I will submit, however, that a third reason is social. Naming an object ascribes some measure of projected personality to the object. By surrounding ourselves with objects that have names (and thus personalities) psychologically deepens the interaction between the object and the person.

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

I'm sure I would think of my computer much differently If its name was Chaznar the Impailer. Of course, the computer would be exactly the same, but the way i perceive my interaction with it would change.

As always, there's a good chance i'm thinking too much about this.

~PS

Thought for the day

Monday July 10, 2006 at 11:51am rolling eyes, assertion Comments (1) »

*ahem*

Using more words to convey a simple concept does not make you any smarter.

~PS

Of Epic Adventures

Wednesday June 14, 2006 at 8:48am our house, moving, travel, pictures, we have your keys Comments (0) »

Take 2

Greetings one and everyone,

Much has transpired since my last entry but, for various reasons, i have been unable to blog about it until this moment.

Most notably, i have moved. Sheri and I closed on our house on the 1st around 5pm. Shortly thereafter, we and a small army of friends descended upon our little apartment and moved everything in it over to the house (about .4 miles away) in 3 hours. Afterwards we went out to dinner to reward our efforts.

The following day, sheri and I left for Arkansas to visit her family. While there we attended her brother's high school graduation party, went to Silver Dollar City in Branson, went out on her dad's boat, and played lots of Shadows Over Camelot. We also camped out on our way to and from. On the trip, we saw several quite amusing landmarks - including Fort Pillow and Yow Chiropractic.

While we were gone, our house was named The Igloo (probably because it's the only place of ours around that has descent air conditioning) and it was thusly decorated with paper snowflakes, cotton snow and blue saran-wrap ice (complete with incased frozen mammoths). We also found a group of stuffed animals gaming in our basement. I hope to have pictures of this stuff up in the gallery soon.

Since we've been back, we have begun organizing the place (though not too much, since we still have to paint pretty much everything), we have tested our washer and dryer (which seemed to work quite well once the hot and cold hoses were reversed), we have acquired a range and a refridgerator and have (finally) got internet access (and there was much rejoicing).

~PS

Today be the day

Wednesday May 31, 2006 at 12:11pm our house, travel, insane Comments (3) »

Arr.

This morning I recieved a call(s) from Vic Feathers at the bank saying everything seemed* to be in order for our scheduled closing this afternoon at 4pm.

(*actually, when i asked him, his exact words were "hell if i know")

Assuming everything goes relatively according to plan (a rather portly assumption), we will be starting to move stuff in between 5 and 6pm this evening.

Coincidentally, tomorrow also 'be the day'. Tomorrow we're intending to leave on a 10-day trip to AR to visit sheri's family.

Now, you may ask yourself: why would they go on a long(ish) vacation the day after moving into a new (and first) house? Answer: because we're bloody insane.

After our return, future plans involve organizing the place (you know, at least a LITTLE), getting some appliances, fixing up some little things, having a painting party and buying a mac.

~PS

Some things

Saturday May 20, 2006 at 10:02pm irony, food, funny, swimming, computers Comments (2) »

1. Texas Roadhouse's menu is funny. It's rather unimaginative slogan is "if it doesn't say Texas, it's not Texas Roadhouse". (duh). On the back of the same menu, it says "Texas Roadhouse was started in Clarksville Indiana..." Irony? What irony?

2) Last night, llama was fully prepared to sacrifice the world to eat his bread.

3) Milligan's pool is pretty nice. Too bad i never swam there when i was a student.

4) I now have a glowing blue keyboard to go with my glowing red trackball and my glowing green tower.

I'm sure there were some other things i was going to put up here. If i think of any i'll add them. If any of you think of any, feel free to add them as well.

~PS

Weekend

Monday April 17, 2006 at 11:54am auto repair, gaming, holidays, friends, video games Comments (3) »

On friday afternoon, for the first time ever, I did something to fix a car: That is, i replaced the ignition module on sheri's car. Myself. Considering I know only slightly more about cars than i know about nueclear physics, i'm darn proud of this.

On saturday we had a pretty good gaming session. Not killing the party == pretty good. After the game, some people left, some people stayed, some people showed up. We had an interesting conversation involving everything from comedy shows to politics to psychology. Afterward, sheri and i made a midnight run to walmart for sweet potatoes.

Sunday was Easter. We went to ginger's house for lunch. We == me, sheri, tony, eric and justin. We ate lots of fried chicken and played some ninja burger, but eventually ginger got tired and my allergies were acting all crazy, so the party disbanded a bit earlier than it otherwise might have.

Later sunday evening, ginger and justin came over and the four of us played a couple games of Age of Empires 2 - world conquering at its finest. Its pretty cool that i have friends who can bring laptops over and lan game on a whim.

There were some other things i wanted to include in this blog, but i don't remember what they were. They were probably some funny quotes or something. Alas.

~PS

MY BOOKS HAVE ARRIVED!

Wednesday March 1, 2006 at 12:56pm gaming Comments (7) »

I have just been informed. It is fun times. I've been waiting for them to come in for a over a week now - and, by all accounts, they should have been here a few days ago, but oh well.

So yeah, yay for friends who can get me cool-yet-ridiculously-over-priced gaming books for a discount. Steve, you're my hero. I <3 U.

It occurs to me that many people would probably like to spend less money on their books. That's all well and good, but i'd rather spend the same amount of money and get more books. I guess i'm greedy like that. Or maniacle. Either one, really.

So, if that didn't make any sense to you, i'll explain a little. My gaming library is about to be increased by 6 nifty-cool books. 3 of which are for me to use when subjecting players to inhospitable climates. The other 3 are more for the players, who can use them for additional aid in character creation. Not that there aren't way too many cool options out there already (i was just discussing this with steve, actually).

~PS

I Slack, Therefore, I Am

Monday February 20, 2006 at 8:53am coffeehouse, gaming, video games, music Comments (0) »

...and here i was just getting on to Sam for shirking his 'net duties.

So it's been a minute or two since i've blogged. Maybe it's because i have nothing to say.

Or maybe it's because my life is so full and exciting i haven't had time to blog in the last week and a half.

Yeah, i wasn't buying that either.

The last week+ has been good though. Nothing incredibly blog-worthy, but good.

We didn't go to the coffeehouse this last week (*gasp*). I think we were all kinda burned out on it - though i probably wouldn't have realized it if ginger hadn't said something. We did have a good time going out to Cootie Brown's and wandering about JC before deciding we were all too tired to stay up much past 10:30.

Saturday we had a good game. My group seems to be a steady(ish) 6 players again. This makes me happy. It had shrunk uncomfortably low there for a while. I really like this hobby, so much so that i've ordered 6 more books. I'm fairly sure i'm not obsessed with it, but i do spend a good amount of time working on game-related ideas and projects (this website is about 50% game related) and i really like the idea that i can run a game that my friends enjoy and look forward to. Over all, i think it's the social aspect of the game that i like most.

After the game, some of us went out for pizza and then played some Mario Party 2. Fun times. ...though, if i'd have won half of the mini-games i won in our practice run-throughs, i'd have kicked much more butt.

Yesterday (Sunday) we spent in Erwin, as usual. Got to have some band practice. Looks like our praise band has acquired a bass player, which frees me up to play guitar and sing. I did enjoy playing bass though...

~PS

Dread Pirate Shoe

Monday February 6, 2006 at 11:57am music, friends, little kids, football, gaming, computers Comments (0) »

It was a pretty good weekend - if a little short.

Saturday we had a good game. Fun times & mayhem.

Yesterday (Sunday) our praise band led worship. So far all direct comments to us - and we've had quite a few - have been exceptionally positive, though there are a couple people we suspect weren't too thrilled (like the one who tried to cancel church due to the weather). Still, it was cool, and we all know there's just no pleasing some people.

Yesterday afternoon, Sheri & I were invited over to our minister's house for the afternoon. They were having the youth and a bunch of people over that evening anyway, and it's always cold in the church after everyone leaves. So we hung out, played with their kids and talked with them.

I actually found out that Joel, our minister, used to play a little d&d back in the 80's, when everyone thought it was satanic (hehe). He said he never really got too into it (he said the math was his real problem. thac0 and all.), but he had some friends who really liked to play so he joined in. He said he was always the guy who got killed first - and that he always had trouble figuring out whether he was dead.

Later that evening, a bunch of people, including but not limited to the youth group, came over to their house to watch some football game (hehe). Joel was asking everyone who they wanted to win. I told him i voted for the Seahawks because they had the cooler name. I was not the only one to use such pointless forumlas to determine preference either.

I didn't pay much attention to the game anyway as me, Sam and a couple others were playing Dread Pirate - and we actually finished a game. I'd played the game several times before, but we'd never finished one. Despite my bad luck at the beginning, I actually ended up winning. Not only that, but I successfully took the Dread Pirate flag from the current holder (with the help of +5 (!) from cards i had) and managed to hold it until the end of the game, through at least 4 attacks. Truly, it was my finest hour on the high seas. okimdone.

After that, we returned here to the Rabbit Hole where i fixed the first hardware problem i've had with this computer : a loud, strange noise it was making, which turned out to be the video card's fan that had become incredibly dusty (despide the fact that it sits in the case upside down) and was making a crap load of noise.

~PS

GM Syndrome

Monday January 16, 2006 at 10:11am gaming Comments (4) »

So i've discovered that being a regular rp GM has given me some sort of complex.

Last friday at the coffeehouse, Sam brought a new board game we'd been wanting to play - Dread Pirate. It's a fun little game, but for some reason, it just wasn't enough. Maybe it was because we were supposed to have had an rp session that night that was called because one of the players couldn't make it. I was already in the GM-use-the-rules-as-you-like mode.

Really, all Sam & I did was tweak a couple of the rules for realism - something i do all the time while GM-ing, but it's not something normal* people generally do when playing board games.

Since that time, Sam & I have thought up several other variations on the game and have grand schemes as to how involved this game could possibly get.

*This topic seems to be recurring - e.g., the Chicken Nugget Thesis and Photoshop Toast v1.0

~PS

What's the AC of nachos?

Sunday January 8, 2006 at 8:58pm food, gaming, geekdom Comments (1) »

This afternoon, Sheri and I went out to eat with Ginger and Kevin (who's been in town this weekend). We had a great time, but when it came time to pay and leave, it got a little confusing.

We were each given a seperate ticket. Kevin had a $15 gift card to be applied to the total bill, and then we would split the rest. I asked how much Sheri & I's were. Kevin said it was something like $13 and $9, but that when he took the $15 dollars off from the gift card, we all had a $40 ticket to split. I gave him a $20, but was confused. It's sunday. I don't want to do math.

Then Ginger looks at me and begins to explain:

"Look, we got hit for 53 points of damage. The gift card gives us DR 15..."

Suddenly it was all clear...

~PS

Tagged Again

Friday December 2, 2005 at 12:51pm memes, long freakin post Comments (22) »

Something's been going around. Kind of like a cold, i guess - only, instead of making you cough and sneeze, it makes you tell your whole life story in quintets. Only, I've found that there's too much that's left out in the in-between times, so i'm gonna include a few other little notes.

It seems that i got hit with this one because the EP was short of targets.

Here goes.

*cough*

10 Years Ago
I was a sophomore at Brown County High School in Nashville, IN. This was my first year in the public school system since the 2nd grade. I discovered public school was way easier than home schooling. I didn't have many friends at school, but I met a kid named Casey in my gym class who introduced me to Battletech. I mostly hung out with some friends from church and camp. I was living at home with my parents and two sisters and rooming with my brother, who tended to annoy me the way little brothers tend to annoy teenage kids. I was starting a band with Justin Booth (whom I met at camp) and Scott Cvelbar (whom I knew from church), mostly playing some old songs by the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton and Billy Joel. I started writing a couple of songs of my own.

Rob Rigsby from our church eventually joined our band which would be called Stained Glass. We played a few shows at the camp and a couple other places. I decided that I wanted to go to Milligan College mostly because i wanted to go to a christian college that was NOT a 'bible' college and that's the one my minister (john sichting, who is awesome) went to. I met my first girlfriend, Kelley Fox, at a crysalis flight my senior year in highschool. She taught me a lot about relationships in the clumsy learn-through-trial-and-error sort of way. I went to Milligan, where i met Kevin who taught me a good part of what i know about anything technological and introduced me to things like IM, Quake 2 and music made after 1983.

Five Years Ago
I was a junior at Milligan College, TN. I had changed my major from CIS (because i hated the CIS classes) to Psychology and started taking more psychology and sociology classes - which i enjoyed. My band from IN had just had what would be our last show to date the previous summer (which rocked). I was listening to Jets to Brazil, The Get Up Kids and the Juliana Theory. I was living with Nathan Henry in Webb Hall after Kevin moved to Quillan. I had started dating Sheri the previous year, and we spent a lot of time together. I was reintroduced to roleplaying in general and introduced to D&D by Rich Riddle (whom i miss gaming with a lot) and i proceeded to spread this evil (hehe) to several Milliganites.

I graduated from Milligan in 02 and moved back home for part of a summer before moving back to TN with Kevin in the Yellow Subroutine. Kevin was a 5th year senior and i was having a bad time looking for a job (or being motivated to do so). I was pretty depressed most of the time. Ginger and Amber had graduated with me and moved back to their respective home states. Sheri was also a 5th year senior at Milligan, and I spent a lot of time at her place in MSA. I finally got a job at the Dawn of Hope. Sheri graduated and moved back home to IN. Kevin graduated and moved to Tampa, FL the next fall. Both of these depatures made me sad. Thankfully, Ginger moved back here that summer and Tony was still around when Milligan was in session. Massive friend shuffling. Sheri moved back here the following January. This made me very happy. She began working at the Dawn of Hope and as a choir director at First Christian Church in Erwin, which we started attending. I proposed to her in February of 04 and we were married that July.

One Year Ago
Sheri and I had just been married for a few months (:-D), and we were still trying to figure out the best way to live with all our stuff in this tiny little apartment. I was working at the Dawn of Hope in Johnson City, but had recently been approached by Brian West about a Web Developer job. I was still running games for my gaming group every other week or so. I was still playing guitar quite a bit and was trying to start to write some new stuff, since i hadn't in a while. I was listening to Guster, Weakerthans and Alkaline Trio.

-End Life Story-

Five Yummy Things
-uber spaghetti
-sheri's chili (speaking of...)
-lemonheads and redhots (that is one thing)
-cream soda
-strawberry raspberry cinnamon jello applesauce

Five Songs I Know by Heart
-Bright Eyes - "Bowl of Oranges"
-Jets To Brazil - "Wish List"
-Our Lady Peace - "In Repair"
-Simon & Garfunkel - "The Boxer"
-Thrice - "The Melting Point of Wax"

Five Things I Would Do With A Lot Of Money
-buy all the stuff i need to record everything i've ever written. (i fully intend to do this when i can)
-buy a really nice set of condos, apts, houses, whatever and convince all my friends to come/go live there. (i think Kev had a dream about that once)
-help everyone i know who's having a bad time any way i can.
-help as many people as i can that i don't know that are having a bad time; most likely by finding some good charities. Ginger could probably help me out on that.
-Travel with Sheri. Take the EP as a guide and anyone else who wants to come.

Five Places I Would Escape To
-I'll go along with Narnia, during the reign of the Kings and Queens.
-Australia - or somewhere thereabouts.
-Antarctica - but only after they invent some uber keep-you-warm-no-matter-what clothes
-Machu Picchu - or any number of ancient civilizations
-the distant future

Five Things I Would Never Wear
-women's clothing (any)
-clothes that are uncomfortable
other than that, pretty much anything works. Now, if you were asking what i would wear in public or what i would buy, that's something different.

Five Favorite TV Shows
(I don't watch TV, so i'm going to have to stretch on this one)
-Stargate SG-1
-Any cartoons. (even spongebob, which i used to hate)
-Gilmore Girls (the sheer volume of dialogue cracks me up)
-Old sci-fi shows like Twilight Zone & Outer Limits
-Any of the plethora of redecorating shows

Five Favorite Films
-The Gamers
-The Princess Bride
-Lord of the Rings
-Harry Potter
-My Fair Lady

Five Favorite Toys
-Lain & Moro
-Guitar(s)
-Gaming stuff
-Game console(s) (outdated though they be)
-Digital Camera

Five People Who Get This Meme
Well, Ginger gave it to me. Kev got it from Heard like Ginger did. Llama doesn't have a blog. Punkie hasn't been on my site for a while and has probably done it 6 times already anyway - so i don't really have anyone to pass it to :(.

~PS

Turkey Weekend

Monday November 28, 2005 at 11:11am holidays, coffeehouse, shopping Comments (1) »

Well, as far as i can tell, the Bunguin is on the mend. I've been ok - seems i've managed to hold whatever it was off thus far.

Turkey day was good - even with just the three of us. Since Justin (Xerxes) was kinda on his own this year, he brought over some mashed potatos and came over and hung out with us. I think i may have addicted him to AOE2.

Sheri made a great turkey - especially since it was her first time doing it by herself. We had/have a lot of it left over too - i think she had turkey at least once every day last weekend. She also made some great cranberry sauce jello stuff.

Friday we did NOT go shopping. Well, not really anyway. Most of the day we just sort of hung out. We did go over to Turtles Nest Toys for a while - not to buy anything, but because Sam (Shasam - not that he's signed on in forever) was working there and he told us to come by and check out a game they had called Dread Pirate. It looks pretty cool. We also put up some christmas decorations - namely the little tree we have. It's cool. I like christmas lights.

The coffeehouse that night was pretty fun. I got to play some songs with Sam for his show and later he and his friend Ben and I messed around playing everything from Decemberists to Cream.

On saturday Sheri and I went christmas shopping. It actually wasn't nearly as crowded as i might have thought. I discovered the advantages of having a cell phone yet again by calling my mom a couple of times from various places to ask questions about what to get for a couple of my family members. We got most of the rest of our shopping done that day, though some of the quests i believe were epic.

I think my favorite part of saturday's exploits was the sheer number of penguins encountered. This time of year is always pretty good for that, but, either i'm getting better at seeing them, or there are more and more of them every year. The giant Playmobile pirate standing outside Bear & Friends was pretty cool too.

We stopped at Dice for a few minutes to check the price on something and talk to Charlotte for a bit (she's fun to talk to). We showed her the penguinification pictures on here. It was only fair, seeing as she was one of the ones who helped buy it for me.

Yesterday was sunday which means we stayed in Erwin all day. This amounted to church, pizza hut, a nap on the choir room floor and a game of ticket to ride before choir practice that evening. Sundays always seem long.

~PS

I'm it!?

Wednesday November 9, 2005 at 12:27pm memes, thinking too much Comments (10) »

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I've been assimilated into a blog ring(ish) game. This is all Punkie's doing. Not that this is unexpected. I mean, she has 'punk' right there in her alias. ;)

So here's the game:

----------------------------------

The rules are:

Search your blog archive. Find your 23rd post. Find the fifth sentence (this is meant to say something about you). Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Tag five people to do the same.

My 23rd post, 5th sentence:
"me: "no, i think you have the wrong number""

----------------------------------

That happens to be from This Blog post - which some of you may remember.

It could be my rebellious nature, or it could be that i'm just too lazy, or it could be that the whole thing reminds me too much of chain letters and spam, but i'm gonna have to break the rules on this game a bit by not 'tagging' anyone else.

I only have about 3 friends whose blogs i read anything like regularly (or who read my blog anything like regularly)(that is, until Llama gets one - though he would probably play along), and while Punkie didn't say "no tag-backs!", i believe it was implied. That leaves me with 2 others. Ginger has told me in so many words that she's not as amused by blog games as some, and i'm thinking Kevin's not the right sort of goofy for it. However, i will offer a shotgun attempt at compliance: if anyone reading this thinks it sounds like fun, consider yourself shot. er...'tagged' ('cept you, Punkie).

The cynical part of me tends to think that such blog games sort of violate the spirit of the blog. A blog, as it were, is generally a place for people to say things that they want to say, but really don't care who's listening. It's a sort of way of sharing thoughts, opinions and experiences with people who might actually care without having to have a captive audience including people who don't. As such, blog games seem to just be giving people something to yap about when they really don't have anything to say. (somewhat like supercalifragilisticexpialadocious)

A happier and somewhat more goofy part of me likes Mary Poppins and thinks that websites in general (including blogs) are, for most non-commercial users, in existance only for their enjoyment. As such, they're free to use them however they may choose and even sharing things that have absolutely no intelectual or philosophical merit can still promote community and fun between friends. Party on.

As usual, i think i've thought too much about this.

~PS

Return of the Blogger

Sunday November 6, 2005 at 11:41pm website, coffeehouse, gaming, music Comments (2) »

It may seem like i have been neglecting the site in general and my blog specifically. The first part is completely untrue, but sadly the second is mostly factual.

Over the last several weeks, i've been rebuilding my website from scratch, fixing some things i didn't like, and adding some features i'd always wanted to. After about a week and a half of labor, Penguinsushi.com version 4.0 is up and running. I'm really happy with this new site and how it works - though it may take a little getting used to for some.

Aside from the web development (for work and for fun), the last couple of weeks have had some coolness in them that i haven't got around to talking about until now.

As you've probably already seen, there are now pictures up from the costume party. Yeah. Dressing up as a giant penguin is great fun. I think i was the entertainment for the evening...at the very least, i had the goofiest costume.

We finally started the second d&d campaign with Eric & Cory last week. I thought it went pretty well. I'm still not sure how much Cory wants to play, but she didn't seem actively bored and seemed to at least enjoy goofing off with us.

Last week we had an open mic at the coffeehouse again. I left my tuner on the piano again. It was a lot of fun though. Sam & I played one of my songs together - mostly because he insisted i play it, and i insisted that i wasn't going to unless he played it with me. I also played a new song i had written called "I think you're reading too much into this." I was very happy with how it sounded, though it's a sort of intense song, and playing it about exhausted me. Anyone who says singing and playing guitar isn't physically exertive has never done it.

also, my parents came down to visit this last weekend. That was cool, i hadn't got to see them since july. It was a short visit, but it was nice.

~PS

but blt's taste so darn good

Sunday October 16, 2005 at 9:51pm friends, gaming, funny, food Comments (5) »

well, we did it. not much too soon either. the mystery puzzle has been finished (save for the two missing pieces) and solved. heh. it was great fun. if you've never worked on a puzzle that you don't know what it looks like with at least 3 other people, i highly recommend it. Pictures of it are posted here.

saturday was a bit more chaotic. i really wanted to game, but sheri had a concert that night, and llama had to work during the day. plus eric and cory were out of town. so, no game. alas.

anyway, ginger and i met tony at dice. he was playing a very long game of killer bunnies. while we waited for him, we decided to walk down to quiznos to get some dinner. (she had been saying 'feed the penguin').

this is where i discovered something, for the second time: apparently bacon, lettuce and tomato are no longer an acceptable combination of sandwich items in and of themselves. Allow me to briefly flashback.

I have always been a fan of blt's. I have ordered them at lots of different sandwich places and, until recently, never had the slightest problem. A month or two ago, sheri and i went to subway in erwin. There, i had a conversation with the employee on duty:

me: "hi, i'd like a foot-long blt sub"
guy (a bit rude): "we don't have blt's, only bmt's."
me: "you mean to tell me you, in fact, have bacon, lettuce and tomato, but you can't put them all together on a sandwhich for me? I don't really care how you charge me for it, i just like blts."

...somewhat reluctantly, he relented and made me a rather mediocre blt. having never encountered this before, and fully aware that i was in a sort of back-woods TN town, i figured it was an isolated incident - which it was... ...until last night, when ginger and i went to quiznos.

that encounter went something like this:

me: "yeah, i'd like a regular blt sub"
guy: "well...we don't really have that on the menu..."
me: "well, how about this? make me a 'classic club' and hold the turkey, ham and cheddar."
guy: "uhm..."
me: "it's...pretty much the same thing, man"
guy: "oh, ok".

this guy was much nicer than the first guy, but, nevertheless, it seems that sandwich shops no longer acknowledge the existence of my sandwich of choice. LISTEN TO ME! CLAIMING IT DOESN'T EXIST WON'T MAKE THE BACON-LETTUCE-TOMATOY GOODNESS GO AWAY! LONG LIVE THE KING OF ALL SANDWICHES!!!

okimdone.

after that, we came back and played some carcassonne (all your base are belong to meee!!!) and ticket to ride.

today, we had the berea college chamber singers at church this morning - they're really good. Sam's sister Erin is one of the members. It should be noted that results the imfamous Rachel vs. Erin debates are as yet undeclared, but I decided i liked the name 'Erin' better, and, as a matter of fact, she told me she shared that opinion.

in other news, sheri and i just finished watching cinderella and the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. it was an odd combination, but hey... ...so are we?

so long, and thanks for all the fish

~PS

Lord of the Penguins

Monday October 10, 2005 at 12:57pm penguins, gaming, movies Comments (5) »

as mentioned in the forum already, i am now the (proud?) owner of a full-body penguin costume. :) This signifies a level of penguin-ness i previously would not have thought possible. Apparently there was a conspiracy involving several friends, acquaintances and game store owners to get me this thing.

i still want a cloak.

we didn't really have an open mic at the coffeehouse like we were supposed to friday night, but that's mostly because nobody else came to play anything. It was ok though, we ended up working a mystery puzzle for most of the evening. It is a very interesting thing to work on a puzzle with 4 other people when none of you know what the picture looks like.

saturday evening sheri, eric and i taught cory a little about d&d and roleplaying in general. I'm not sure how much she really wants to play, but apparently she's going to give it a try, which is cool. Teaching new people about the game is always an interesting experience. Still, you really can't get a feel for it by talking about it, you just gotta play it.

in other news, the wallace and gromit movie is out, and i need to see it. really.

~PS

victory at last

Thursday September 29, 2005 at 11:06am coding Comments (4) »

I STINKIN WIN YOU STUPID PIECE OF CRAP!!!!!

that is me. to my dear friend Internet Explorer. with reference to its intolerance for perfectly legal javascript syntax.

i think the current count for "time wasted trying to figure out or look up work arounds for stupid IE behaviors" is something like 27 days 4 hours and 46 minutes.

~PS

the last week

Friday July 22, 2005 at 11:14am gaming, travel Comments (1) »

the last week has been, for the most part, uneventful. we've been enjoying the new games we got last weekend and are planning on taking them with us. We had a good rp session on monday. No one got turned to stone by the basilisk. that was good. Steve finally was able to start his epic game this week. That was fun. Epic druidy goodness. There was some other stuff this week that was rather amusing, but i've forgotten most of it. I do remember something about me inventing a metric time system where the base unit is called a 'faffle'.

So anyway... ...i'll be gone for about a week as sheri and i are taking a trip out to see her family in flippin' arkansas. (Yes, the name of the town is actually Flippin.) Be good while i'm gone.

~PS

a night of relative insanity

Saturday July 16, 2005 at 10:39am books, geekdom, funny, long freakin post Comments (0) »

Well, last night was certainly...interesting

Here was the evening, as it happened:

Being that it was an off-week for gaming, sheri and i had no real plans for yesterday evening. It also just so happened that this morning at midnight was when Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince was supposed to be released and sheri had reserved a copy at Barnes & Noble a few months earlier. In light of these two coincidental facts, we decided to do pretty much everything we could.

First, we went to walmart because sheri needed to get a perscription before the pharmacy closed. we were in there for a while getting a few other things she wanted, but we tried to hurry. walmart is not all that much fun. I did notice that walmart has started carrying mp3 players like ipods and creative zen's. I have decided this is cool. I want one.

Anyway, by the time we were finished there and got to the entrance we noticed something we had failed to account for: it was raining. hard. i don't mean this sprinkling stuff it tends to do in TN, i mean it was raining. We decided to make a dash for it rather than waiting around for it to stop like the 73 other people standing there. Being that we were parked in tim-buck-seven, we were COMPLETELY drenched by the time we got to the car. There was about an inch of standing water in the sloped parking lot. Once in the car, sheri was trying very hard to be mad at the fact that her shoes were now soaking wet, but couldn't managed to look at me (and the water dripping from my forehead and down my nose) without laughing. I, personally, thought the whole thing was hilarious.

From there we drove over to Dice, our favorite game store. Dice has been having a sale in july with everything (except some ultra-new stuff) being 25% off. We had decided that it had been a while since we'd got a game and, since our anniversary is coming up (hard to believe), we thought it would be ok to use that as an excuse to spend some money on some games. As everyone knows, the First Anniversary is the Board Game Anniversary. We ended up getting the next expansion for Carcassonne and also decided to get another game we had actually played there before: Ticket to Ride (Europe). We also talked to Charlotte (one of the store managers) for a little while...she recognizes us as 'regulars'.

From there, we went to get haircuts. This had the combined advantages of making our very wet and now unruly hair look nicer before going out to eat, and actually getting our hair cut, as we both needed it at least a little. We were the absolute last people there and, as they cut our hair, both of the ladies were remarking to us and to each other about how long and arduous the day had been and how hungry they were. At one point, the lady cutting my hair actually apologized, and told me she had to stop for a second to go get a cracker because she was starving - which she did. This struck me as hilarious.

Once our hair was reasonably shortened and we wished the ladies good luck recovering from their day, we proceeded to Cracker Barrel. We specifically chose to go to Cracker Barrel because we had some gift certificates for it. We had a nice dinner that didn't cost us anything...and, when we were done, there was 11 cents left on the gift card.

We made our way from there, at last, to Barnes & Noble and the release party. Given how horribly small the b&n parking lot is, and how crowded it is EVERY friday, i was only marginally surprised when there was absolutely NO PLACE to park anywhere in that plaza. We ended up parking at another little plaza that was across the street and a bridge from the destination. It was a nice evening though. We actually met, by coincidence, another woman heading to the same place but coming from a slighly different direction. As we all cut through the grass on a median and proceeded through the parking lot, a small white car pulled into an empty parking place right in front of us. "Figures" said the the woman in a somewhat amused yet slightly exasperated voice. We had a brief chat about how it was a nice evening and how there was NO EARTHLY WAY that that parking space would have been there if either of us had been driving by.

The book store was, as was expected, completely packed to the gills (i didn't exactly know book stores had gills - nor a reason to breath underwater, but it's just an expression anyway). It was kind of amusing/annoying in that there were so many fans of the books (on a level that seems obsessive) in such a relatively small place. I.e., people in costumes, carrying wands, talking about 'muggles', etc. There were some games that were going on for the young kids - things about being sorted or catching Sirius Black or some such. Most of the people i saw there, however, were adults or kids at least high school age. I took up my standard place in the d&d aisle and started leafing through a book or two that i haven't wanted to spend the money to buy. I was amused to hear at least 3 people comment, as they walked by, about how 'dorky' things like LOTR, D&D and/or fantasy and science fiction in general were - as they were dressed in full costume. It totally blows my mind how someone could like Harry Potter that much, and yet so strongly dislike things that, in my mind (as i like all of them), are so similar. This further confirms my belief that a good deal of HP is fad based, and a good deal of the dislike for d&d, science fiction and fantasy is based on the similar idea of what is 'cool' or 'uncool'. That, and the fact that i think everyone i heard say that was junior high or high school aged.

While we were there we saw someone we knew from church (she was in line as number #176 - we were #226) and justin (who was #349).

I started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy while i waited for it to be midnight, and then for the first 225 people to go through. Surprisingly, it only took about 40 minutes for us to get checked out.

Having accomplished everything we set out to do, we headed home with our new stuff and some interesting memories.

~PS

aghast

Monday June 13, 2005 at 12:15pm random encounters, funny, rolling eyes Comments (2) »

ok, i have just lost SO much faith in the collective intelligence of mankind.

I have just recieved a phone call. It went something like this:

me (answers phone): "hello?"
woman: "hello...uhm, is this the mobile home park?"
me: "no, i think you have the wrong number"
woman: "well, is this 929-9105?"
me: "ah, no, this is 926-9105, you accidentally dialed the wrong number."
woman: "well, in the book here, it says 929-9105 is the mobile home park."
me: "yeah, this is 926-9105. you want 929-9105."
woman: "so it's wrong in the book then..."
me: "no, THIS number is 926-9105. you WANT the one in the book, 929-9105."
woman: "well, do you have a number for the mobile home park then?"
me: "you know what? why don't you try the number in the book again..."
woman: "well...ok..."

...

?

~PS

tasty tasty carcassonne

Saturday June 4, 2005 at 6:33pm food, gaming Comments (5) »

so last night, sheri was really wanting to try something different for dinner. after digging though a couple of cook books and making a grocery list, we went to Dice. wait. that probably doesn't make any sense. allow me to digress:

as of about a week ago, sheri and i have been thinking we should get Carcassone, but we, as of friday, hadn't yet gone to get it - mostly because sheri's all responsible and stuff and said we should get tires for her car first (which she got yesterday)... ...even though llama pointed out that we couldn't all play with her new tires. (this did lead to a short tangent that involved rolling tires and bowling balls down milligan highway, but that's not important now)
ANYWAY: having no real plans for friday night, and thinking it sounded like fun, we decided to finally go buy the game.

After getting our new game, we went to the grocery and discovered cool little gummy penguins called peng-yums and spent way too much time looking for minced garlic. After that, we came back and made chicken kiev with cheese....more or less.
We actually discovered we needed chicken breast halves and...well...have you ever tried to slice a chicken breast in half laterally? ...After that adventure, we decided we were only going to make 2 instead of the 4 the recipe called for...even though we had already done everything else for 4. Next, we discovered we had little flour bugs in our flour...so we had to make due with what little flour we had in a jar. We also realized that, according to a part of the recipe we obviously did not closely examine, it was supposed to chill for 1-24 hours before you bake it - but, being that it was 9:30pm and sheri was starving, we pretty much nixed that and stuck it in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Amazingly, it turned out pretty good...we figure if we actually make it right next time, it could be pretty awesome.

~PS

Ninja Munchkin Ticket to Carcassonne

Tuesday May 31, 2005 at 11:55am gaming Comments (2) »

It was a good weekend. The game friday night went pretty well, even though we only had 4 party members of a possible 7 or so.

saturday evening we went to dice to play pirate's cove - though we didn't actually play that game. by the time we all got there, two games were already going and we weren't going to have time to start a new one... ...so we played carcassonne instead - which, unlike the 'city' version of the game, is not so complicated that it causes the players to lose the will to live (as william put it). It's a pretty fun game... ...one i'll have to get eventually. I didn't end up winning, but i had the strangest city on the board.

on sunday i got an idea for a new game of my own. i told gigner and llama that the idea has some aspects of most of the games we've played recently and this prompted them to think up the running development title for this game - which is also the title of this post.

until next time...

~PS

better...?

Sunday May 22, 2005 at 11:25pm health, video games, gaming Comments (2) »

well, i think i'm getting over this thing. we're still debating on whether i should go to the doctor, but i've been feeling progressively better the last few days...and it hasn't been a week yet...so...

ginger went and got me started on Baldur's Gate II - which is destined to waste a good bit of my time for a while... ...or, at least, give me something to do in the evenings...

the weekend was pretty slow - with me being sick and all - but it was relaxing which is what was needed. we did get to go to Dice to play 'Ticket to Ride' last night - that's a fun little board game.

~PS

blogging along

Monday April 25, 2005 at 11:21am coffeehouse, weather, gaming, music Comments (0) »

well, aside from the death of penpen, not much is new. (new computer parts on the way! woo-hoo!)

the coffeehouse on friday was pretty cool, though not many people showed up.

saturday was spent doing laundry and wandering around walmart & lowes looking for shelves. (not my idea, believe me)

sunday it freakin' SNOWED. what was who thinking? ...though, at the moment, the weather does seem to be back somewhere close to normal for this time of year....

sheri, ginger, tony & i played some ninja burger last night. that was fun. i'm not going to be surprised if 'i should have recognized your stylish ninja pacifier' shows up on the site somewhere... ...er, somewhere else...

looking forward to some gaming this weekend...

songs i've learned to play this week:
simon & garfunkel - "america"
cream - "white room"

~PS

Recency

Tuesday April 12, 2005 at 11:25pm coffeehouse, gaming, music Comments (1) »

so things have been pretty cool recently.

we went to the coffeehouse @ watauga on friday and got to see some slides about a trip around south america. there were penguins! this made me happy inside.

on saturday we got to have a little lan party, which was lots of fun... ...and ginger cooked some thai for us too. (thanks ginger :))

the weather has also been really nice lately (until today, anyway) and we've had a couple few picnics over by the creek at milligan - this is a nice thing about living across the street.

we also got a bocce set, which we've been enjoying.

i've also been working on version 2.0 of this website, but this comes as no surprise since tony has already pointed out its inevitability.

other than that, it's been pretty much the same stuff.

songs i've learned to play this week:
caedmon's call "i just don't want coffee"
eli "the lumber song"
pink floyd "wish you were here"

songs i wrote this week:
"two questions"

~PS

Penguins everywhere, Unite!

Saturday March 19, 2005 at 3:21pm penguins Comments (1) »

More randomness.

As of yesterday, I have discovered that small objects fashioned in the image of penguins are drawing themselves to me. As I opened my bathroom cabinet to get my hairbrush yesterday, I noticed a small koosh-ball-like penguin staring back at me from its place next to my deoderant. I paused for a minute before realizing i had never seen this penguin before. Later that evening, as some of us were gaming, there was a knock on my door. This struck me as odd because everyone who would be knocking on my door at 11pm on a friday was already there. After getting no answer to tony's 'who is it?', we opened the door to find a small altoids box. Inside it there was a butane lighter made in the shape of a penguin! Penguins and fire in one package! How can you go wrong with that!?

Special thanks to Tony ("Llama") Stanton and Wendy Alexander for furthering my penguin collection. :)

~PS

Nothing

Thursday February 24, 2005 at 11:13pm reflection, gaming, family Comments (0) »

has this been a mostly bad week, with some good places or a mostly good week with some bad places?

haven't really done much lately - that is, i haven't worked much on the games (i've only got a little of Europe done for Earth) and i haven't written any songs in quite a while. I've mostly just gone to work and come home (which is bad, because i find that toward the end of the day i start to think in php). At present, i'm waiting to see if flightless birds of questionable alignment and quadrapedic beasts of burden bring me yummy tacos...

anyway, sheri's mom was visiting since last thursday (for anyone who may wonder, this was one of the good things). basically what this is means is that i got to lose a bunch of card games this week. i did get to win half a game of scrabble though.

tomorrow is friday, this is always good. don't know what i'll be up to this weekend, but, even though it probably won't be anything worth talking about, there's a good chance you'll hear about it anyway. really, though...it's your own fault.

~PS