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June 26, 2006

Simmering, But Almost Ready to Serve

The RPG situation has cooled to a simmer for the moment. Everyone’s pretty much got busy lately; us with renovations, Rhys’ mate Kev with work and Simon and Cristel juggling keeping the bills paid and four youngsters busy. So there’s been no more InSpectres since that last time. It looks as though Kev is heading off South; he’s keen on the idea of being able to manage an office of the sales business he’s working for, and that might take him south of the border.

Still, things are looking up again. I’m revisiting the idea of playing some Primetime Adventures online. Vickie’s interested, as are a couple of friends down South, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to tell you how that goes – and, frankly, I reckon it’ll go better than last time. I have a more concrete idea of how the Pitch session should go; put simply, everyone has to be keen on the show idea we come up with or else the game will crash and burn (as the last one did). I’ve been listening to the audio recordings of the “Life on Mars” sessions, which are pretty awesome examples of how PtA actually works, as well as the Sons of Kryos’ eighteenth podcast which features some hints and tips.

By the way, I recommend the Sons of Kryos podcasts to any reader interested in the RPG hobby. Jeff and Judd have a good sense of humour and a fair bit of play experience under their belts, especially in these crazy indie-RPGs I keep harping on about. I'd also like to make a long-overdue recommendation of Paul Tevis' Have Games, Will Travel podcasts, in which Paul reviews board, card, and roleplaying games and discusses gaming and the industry with insiders such as Ron Edwards and Kenneth Hite.

While on the general topic of podcasts, I’m hoping – if none of my players object – to use the PowerGramo plug-in for Skype and a freeware audio editor called Audacity to make audio records of our sessions, possibly even posting them online!

I also decided that a phone call to Simon and Cristel just to catch up was long overdue. The last time either Vickie or I spoke with them was a Skype convo over a month ago, which is a bit weak. Still, as I mentioned, Simon’s work schedule has been pretty much all over the place; he’s had to take shifts as they’ve come just to make sure he (a) keeps his job and (b) keeps his family fed.

The good news is that he’s recently been made a full-time employee, which means he’s got a fixed 40-hours-per-week schedule, working only one weekend in four. Which means they can do some gaming! I pitched them – well, underarmed them, really, I just sorta said, “hey, this is what I wanna run next, whaddya reckon?” – The Shadow of Yesterday. I guessed, and Simon confirmed, that Cristel, being a big rat lover, would likely be keen on playing a ratkin. He said she also likes elves – anything with pointy ears, really – and we’ll see what she makes of The Shadow of Yesterday’s very interesting, existentialist take on elvenkind. As soon as I mentioned that one of the other two playable races was “goblins”, though, Simon was immediately keen!

In case you're wondering: Yes, the final race in The Shadow of Yesterday is us humans.

Thus, I've been brushing up on The Shadow of Yesterday as well. A little while ago, I did up a two-page Player Summary of the important rules - well, technically, it's a one-and-a-half-page summary plus the complete Player's Tips section from the rulebook. Today, I realised I'd managed to stuff up the procedure for determining harm in Bringing Down the Pain (the game's procedure for extended, dramatic conflicts) and revised the sheet quite a bit. I still need to post the revised file in the Showcase - that can wait until tomorrow, though. In the meantime, you can see the cheat sheet here.

But the upshot is that, with any luck, Vickie and I will most probably play a game in the next week or two!

Shiver Me Timbers...

Sheesh! Been a bit of time since I last posted.

First thing I’ve been meaning to post about for a little while: We’ve done some more renovating. Remember that photo of our front verandah I put up a while back? Well, Karl and his brother-in-law David took to the main vertical supports with a chainsaw and knocked the rotting slats and handrail out with a sledge. They then put some stainless steel wire and tubing that we bought a couple of months ago in.

Thursday and Friday before last, Vickie and I took to the wood decking of the verandah with a belt sander – well, actually, Vickie did most of it on the Friday. Trust me, I would have gladly done some, but if you know Vickie, you know that when she decides she wants something done, she won’t bother waiting half a day until the other person who could do it gets home from work!

I made sure to do my bit, though; I went into Bunnings Cairns, bought two tins of decking oil and a lamb’s wool applicator and spread it on the now-bare surface of the deck. I was hoping to get the wood uprights of the fence painted yesterday (we need to take the stainless seel tubes down again to do so), but unfortunately it decided to rain on us.

Still, the front deck is already looking much better! I'll take and post some pictures once I get the painting done. We also got some more decking oil last weekend to give the deck another coat.

June 15, 2006

This Website's The Wrong Colour

Thirty-Six to Six! Heh heh! You know, I like this whole "Being a Queenslander" business. Not enough to potentially wreck my blog by futzing with the style sheet, but still...

Definitely looking forward to Origin 3!

June 13, 2006

Good Start, Lads!

No, I didn't stay up to watch last night; I could barely keep my eyes open after last night's Boston Legal (not that it was boring, I was just weary). When I went to bed, we were one-nil down.

But Vickie, who did stay up, made sure to wake me (grr grumble mumble) and let me know the final score: Australia 3, Japan 1.

Go you good thing!

June 11, 2006

Alien Versus Predator. ...versus Stormtroopers.

You thought Batman: Dead End was freaky? You ain't seen nothing yet. Check out the first chapter of IMPS: The Relentless, the sequel to TROOPS. The production values are... well, let's just say you'll be amazed what an entirely volunteer effort can come up with. The intro sequence alone looks like something the guys at Industrial Light & Magic whacked together when they had some excess rendering time on their hands.

The first chapter is a hair over 200 megabytes, though, so you may want to do an overnight download. But it's worth it. Why? 'Cos it's the sequel to TROOPS.

Which means funny.

(Mucho belated thanks to Gav for this, who burned Chapter 1 onto a CD-ROM for me.)

Okay, like, Batman, like, versus Robocop versus, like, Jackie Chan - who'd win?

Find out in The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, an hilarious paean to a youth saturated in Eighties pop-culture.

Yes, you are surrounded by Assholes.

(Thanks to the Wil to Power.)

June 06, 2006

Move Zig! For Great Justice!

Or not, as the case may be.

Codename: Sleepy Dingo

Yes, this is Deena's son Rhys' dog, Ziggy. He's been great the past couple of nights (where we've had him inside overnight rather than out in the run) and he's keeping Zelda busy of a day (they've got bite marks all over each other).

June 05, 2006

The Weekend of Gratuitous Spoiling

Last week, Vickie's daughter Deena moved out of the White Rock (yes, it's a suburb) house that she and her ex-husband sold recently. As she's between residences at the moment - she's thinking of renting, but she has study to do and the place she gets must take a dog - she's moved in with us. Her son's dog, Ziggy, a four-year-old mongrel (ahem, sorry, red cattle dog) who has more than a little dingo in him, has taken up residence in our dog run down the side of the house.

The spoiling started on Saturday. We went into Cairns to get some shopping done, and Vickie and Deena went to Rusty's Markets for fruit and veg while I pottered around the usual stores (Angus & Robertson, EB Games, Sanity, QBD The Bookshop, HMV) in the Cairns Central shopping arcade. We agreed to meet back up in half an hour.

A while into my browsing I looked at my watch - hang on a sec. What time did we split up again? Was it half an hour ago? Three quarters? Maybe - a full hour? But how come no one's called? I pulled my mobile out of my pocket - and the rotten thing had switched itself off. It's been doing that irregularly for a year now; in fact, I'd commented on it on the way into Cairns that day after Deena mentioned that she wanted to buy a new mobile herself. I had decided it could wait, though.

Anyway, I switched the phone back on and tried to call Vickie - no luck. I kept getting put straight through to her voicemail for around twenty minutes - during which time I managed to get a voicemail she'd left me and my mobile switched itself off twice more - before she finally called me. She and Deena had been in Target, which is something of a mobile black-spot. I hustled down to meet them, and was confronted with a half-trolleyful of assorted ladieswear. Deena needed some more clothes in her wardrobe; the last few years haven't been great on her money wise and now that she has some extra cash after the mortgage settlement on her old place, it was time for some long-overdue self-spoiling, which Vickie was gladly assisting in.

You know, those two both reckon they hate shopping?

It wasn't all just self-spoiling, though. The reason Vickie wanted me down at Target in a hurry was because, given the performance (or lack thereof) of my mobile that morning, I might have gone and got myself a new one before she and Deena got a chance to give me the Nokia 6101 they'd gone halves on. Vickie had decided that my being out of touch for that long while they were lugging two large bags of fruit and veg around (well, they put it in a Target trolley when they got back to Cairns Central, but still) wasn't acceptable.

I did wind up doing a little self-spoiling, buying a DVD two-pack of Serenity and Doom (Interestingly, it was renting Doom that led me to buy a used Collector's Edition Doom3 for the Xbox a few weeks ago.)

Yesterday, Deena took her son Rhys and splurged on him, getting him some very natty work and going-out clothes, shoes, a sharp new watch and a fully-tricked-out Sony Ericsson mobile, with videoconferencing, MP3 player, the works.

But the final recipient of spoiling was Ziggy, the dog who belongs to Deena's son, Rhys. Although he's been sleeping him in the dog run since he came here (Deena never let him inside her house), the temperature of a night has been dropping; heck, the cold had him up and whimpering some of Saturday night. So last night, while Deena was spending the night with her boyfriend, Vickie and I took grandparents' privilege and shifted Ziggy's sleeping mat inside, where he could ziz comfortably with Zelda. I'm glad to report that Ziggy, who is normally energetic when inside ('cos he's not allowed, you see) was a very good dog last night; nothing was broken or otherwise discommoded when I got up this morning. So, Vickie's made the decision that he can sleep inside while he's here.

June 02, 2006

Okay, look, one more. Just one.

The picture alone is worth it.

But if you've GMed a lot of RPGs, the context is even better.

Okay, so it's two more.

Three.

Yeah, four, five, and six.

And if you've ever, ever owned a dog: Seven.

June 01, 2006

Windmills Redux

In light of all the thought I've been doing lately on what I'm after out of a roleplaying campaign, I went back to my What Is A Roleplaying Game? article over on the wiki and had another stab at the most problematic section of the article, Playing A Roleplaying Game. All the point-form notes and scattered sentences are gone, but a few paragraphs, especially the "Roleplaying Vs. Roll-Playing" section, still don't quite say what I want them to (not that I'm sure what that is). So please read and criticise in a constructive fashion!