Saturday, December 12, 2009

Notes from the Past

I uncovered a time capsule full of treasure earlier today. I was cleaning out some of my old stuff, when I discovered a few of my old notebooks from my first few classes at ACC.

I've been kinda wandering the halls of memories, finding lost gems amidst old formulae and hasty notes scribbled about the Civil War with illustrations of swordfights in the margin.

I'll share with you my favorite one. It's an entry of adventure notes jotted down in between acting class review notes. It reads:

Magic Traps
AoE Attacks

Life, she is good.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I updated the Saga of Arnthorr.

We'll see how it goes tonight. I like that I have a character equally at home in D&D as Shadowrun here.

More on this later on. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


No not this one.

Wait... why aren't we talking about him? I mean, do you not see this?

Well, be that as it may, I was going to talk about quests in D&D. And Questar seemed like a cool title.

Seriously? I mean look! Dinosaurs! LASERS!

But... quests and laser... dinosaurs. Holy cow, are those missile pods on a Diplodocus? Is he riding a deinonychus? Well, dang. I guess it's on now.

Dang skippy.

Are those a smaller set of robot T-Rex arms underneath the gatling lasers? Gah, I, buh.


So... awesome...

Okay okay. You got me. We'll talk about Questar. He's the leader of the Valorians, a noble race of space-faring humans. They have telepathic abilities and advanced technology, including the STEP (Space Time Energy Projection) which allows them faster than light travel.

Besieged by the evil Rulon armada, Questar was forced to abandon the Valorian's home planet, and flee. While attempting STEP they were caught in the Rulon flagship's tractor beams, and both leaders of the warring empires were transported back through space/time to prehistoric Earth.

There, the peaceful Valorians befriended the dinosaurs with their psychic powers, while the ruthless Rulons used "Brain Box" technology to enslave their own army of tyrant lizards, including the mighty, nigh-unstoppable Tyrannosaurus Rex, ridden by Emperor Krulos himself.

Their evil ways were no match for the brave leadership of Questar, however. He marshalled his forces beautifully, using dinosaurs to fortify their ship and the valley into which they had crashed, and disguised the weapons they'd equipped the dinosaurs with, so that when the Rulons came, looking for trouble, they were prepared.

The Rulons were driven back, and Questar triumphed.

This is the story of the Dino Riders.

Tomorrow I'll talk about Quests in D&D. Assuming I can survive this much awesomeness.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Saga of Arnthorr

Real men wear tights.

"When I met him, it was like one of our album covers walked in through the door and sat down to eat some cheese fries." -- Ufthak Orcobal, lead guitarist of Ragna-ROKK.

Born in 2051 to a human father and an Orkish mother, the Ork known as Arnthorr Odinkarr lived a reasonably normal life until the 9th day of his 9th year. Tormented by visions of the world consumed by fire, and its people trapped in the nightmares of a dying god, he Awakened.

It was not a peaceful Awakening. His power manifested without prelude or overture; it was a sudden crescendo of energies burning through his body, overwhelming him with its symphony of destruction.

He claims to have survived due to the grace of the All-Father, who left him bloodied for nine days, hanging from Yggdrasil, the World Tree, during which he learned the secrets of the runes.

While this may or may not be true, exactly nine days after his Awakening left him in Intensive Care, he was completely healed. School was troubling for him after that, he was placed in a program for Awakened youths, but found himself chafing against the program's more formulaic, hermetic structure.

In 2064, he found himself once again troubled by dark dreams. This time it was the 13th day of his 13th year that he claims to have been visited again by the Grey Wanderer, and the meaning of his dreams revealed. The Norse cult known as Winternight, in collusion with the corrupt Otaku, Pax, unleashed the Jormungand Mega-Worm upon the Matrix, and struck with electromagnetic pulse devices, bringing down the informational infrastructure of the world. They claimed to be ushering in Ragnarok.

There is little record of what happened in those dark days before the Matrix 2.0 was unveiled and some semblance of order reestablished. Fighting had spilled over into the streets, and Arnthorr disappeared.

He resurfaces some years later, in the service of an order of warrior priests. It is unknown when he adopted his current alias, but for some months now he has, as he puts it, "Wandered the Land in homage to the Grey Wanderer," finding his particular skill set suited to life as a small time mercenary.

He has recently arrived in the Auburn district of Seattle, as a result. He has fallen in with the Ork Underground there, his friendly nature and slightly unusual convictions netting him friends in the all too cynical world of today. Helping him to acquaint to life on the shadier side of the street is an Ork going by the name of Ufthak Orcobal, the lead guitarist in the Goblin rock Band, Ragna-ROKK.

Suspected of having ties to the Sons of Sauron, Ufthak has introduced him to other figures in the Ork underground. While he might not agree with the Sons' violent 'extreme' methods, Arnthorr cannot help but support their cause. Perhaps one day he can turn his friend from the path of violence, but in the meantime, he enjoys their shows and has found part-time work as one of their roadies.

As far as Seattle's occult community goes, he's reacquainted himself with a familiar face from his school days. Now an antiquities and oddities dealer, the Elf known as Asgrim Rauðskeggjaði has taken to entertaining his fellow Icelander, even going so far as to introduce him to Etehe Golden Eagle, an Amerind Shaman and Talismonger who has taken it upon herself to fill in the gaps in Arnthorr's magical knowledge in exchange for his patronage of her talismongering services exclusively.

Though he is a bit of an oddity in his "traditional" garb, complete with chain tunic and floppy pointy hat, and possessed of a prideful and fiery nature, he's willing to help people, and that counts for a lot in Auburn.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This may be the most metal character I've ever thought of

I'm going to be playing Shadowrun in the near future.

I am excited about the character I will be playing. He is a nordic warrior-priest-skald who fights the unrighteous with a magic sword and chainmail armor. He is also an ork. His primary means of attack is by shooting things that will either set you on fire or on lightning with Magic.

All I need now is like, a wicked guitar solo or truly earth-shattering power chord to announce his presence, and like some lightning crashing in the background, and people holding up their lighters in awe and I am set.

Oh yeah... his name? ARNTHORR ODINKARR.

A Day in the Life

That is one of the things I love about Shadowrun. Stuff like the above picture can fit in perfectly with the world. People don't bat an eye. Another of the things I love about it is illustrated in Arsenal, the Sears catalog of the year 2077, specifically in the armor section.

They feature several lines of designer armored clothing, so that you can look incredibly stylish while at the same time not getting as shot as you might otherwise get. But that's not the part that sends me into giddy fits of why don't more people wear these... no that comes from the Heritage Line of clothing, designed by Zoe, who if you are not familiar with the setting is THE Fashion Designer's Fashion Designer. It doesn't get more high class than Zoe's. The Heritage Line was created after researching the cultural roots of Scottish Highland society. So yeah, they have designer armored kilts... but not only that... "Pueblo, Navajo, Salish, Spanish courtesan, Italian Renaissance, fifteenth-century French royal court, Hanseatic trader, Russian Cossack, Confederate aristocrat, Indian Maharajah, Aztec, Mayan, Imperial Rome, feudal Japanese, traditional Chinese, Nubian, Victorian-era colonial gentleman, and Scottish Highlander."

This means that at a gala event, like a black tie super elegant party type gala, it is not only not frowned upon to wear, say, samurai robes or a poofy renaissance outfit, but in fact, it is considered to be the epitome of style, grace, and class. Did I mention Victorian-era colonial gentleman's clothing?

Some day.

Some day.

A cultured gentleman

I have been working on the various cultures for the game I'd like to run.

Again, bearing in mind that these ones are created with the Explorer in mind, I'll go ahead and talk about what I have in mind so far.

Apparently I didn't actually enter something here. Anywho...

The characters will start off in a feudal society. Perhaps a little more oriented around defense, as it is a necessary part of day to day life. I'm going with feudalism because it implies that the social order is more stratified and likewise control of information and education is pretty sparse.

As I'm making up the world, and hoping to encourage the Explorer to learn more about it, I can situate the characters in a backwoods farming type village and it would make sense for them not to know too much about the world at large.

Also by setting up society as stratified it makes it a little easier to contrast it with other cultures. When you know a lot about the system you're in, it makes the other ones seem novel and cool. Or so I would hope.

Monday, December 7, 2009

You shall have my update...

For those times when you must simply ROCK into Mordor.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Cultural Attache

I am still working on creating an interesting cultural encounter. At least something more so than the usual stuff I'd do, which is try and present the players with something familiar with fantastic elements.

My friend Frank has said that it's good to draw on something familiar, because it "fills in the blanks," meaning that from what everyone knows about, say, feudal society, they can infer all of the little details that I don't give out when describing the society. This in turn lets them draw their own conclusions as they synthesize the data I give to them with the rest of what they know, making it easier for them to get involved in the (social) action.

So what I have done so far is taken a look at other "created cultures" to see how they've taken the fantastic elements of the worlds they're from and how they relate/effect the society that makes use of them.

The best example of this I can think of is from the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. They have four distinct cultures, each loosely based around a certain vaguely Eastern type of society and the mastery of one of the four classic elements, Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. The four different elements equate to four different styles of dress, methods of defense, cultural mores, etc. And of course, four different kinds of awesome powers. Another thing that I've noticed tends to shape the behaviors of the nations in this show (and hopefully in any game I'd run) is the effect that worldwide events are having on the interactions between each culture.

The Fire Nation is attempting to conquer the world. To this end, they are very industrialized, focused on making machines of war. As a result, their nation is militarized, their structure is very strict. Duels of honor known as Agni Kai are a very striking and visual example of this society. Two combatants square off fighting each other in a manner displaying their skill at Firebending.

Whereas the Earth Kingdom, having been invaded, is heavily focused on defense. They combine the strength of the earth with the intractability of stone. Combat (of the non-lethal variery) tends to be focused on moving your opponent, or crushing them beneath the weight of the earth. Their society, while structured, affords a greater deal of freedom.

Now I am not sure what about meeting a new culture would appeal to any given Explorer, so what I plan to do is come up with encounters among culture that run the gamut from diplomacy to combat. In the examples above, both nations, Fire and Earth come equipped with different devices that can be used to make encounters in either feel different; whether an Agni Kai or an Earth Rumble (kinda like the Royal Rumble, but with more boulders) the fights can feel different, as can the mannerisms of any given subject. I know there's more to society than just its mannerisms, there's also the values, and by extensions taboos to consider, alongside of the style of dress and even local flora and fauna.

So in building the social encounters, I will try and keep these ideas in mind, remembering that my world is as fantastic as I make it. I have a wide variety of elements to choose from. So for example, I could take the Agni Kai and apply it to the Dragonborn, and maybe call it the Breath of Honor, or something, which would be a fight between two Dragonborn, with the goal being to wear one combatant down and render them unconscious with a single, powerful breath weapon blast. Or I could steal a little less blatantly and describe an inn in one of these Dragonborn cities, where the chef happens to be heating food by breathing fire.

And that's just one race. The key here, I think, will be keeping in mind both what races and classes the pcs are, and their backgrounds, so that I can lead them to cultures different from the one they've gotten to know in their first few levels. And in order to speed up the process of developing expectations, I can start them off in a very standard, very generic fantasy/pseudo-medieval feudal society. I'll have them be above serfs, but in a village full of them, so they can see firsthand what life is like. And as mentioned before, the players should fill in the blanks on society.

Then after a while, when they encounter a new culture, they'll be a little more surprised, as it will be something different from what they've experienced to this point. It will be new enough that they won't immediately know everything about it, but easy enough to pick up the information, allowing them to get more and more involved.

That's the main goal, to keep the players interested and involved.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Close Encounters of the I made a bad joke

Today, I've been back to world building. As I said earlier, I've always been kind of fascinated with the Explorer.

So while exploring ways to interest and engage an explorer, both with cool cultures and exotic locales, I've been looking at designing encounters that would appeal to this kind of player as well. With that in mind, I'm going to take a look at a sample encounter I might build with an appeal to the explorer. To make it a little simpler, I'm going to focus more on exotic locale, rather than cool culture for this encounter.

One of the big keys seems to be in setting the scene. It's the chance to really convey where the players are, allowing me to differentiate between fallen ruins that act as difficult terrain, or thick gnarly vines which are difficult terrain, and so on, which is itself, difficult terrain. I know right?

But it's not enough to set one encounter apart from the others with a description of the environment. I've got to try and make encounters in the more "explorey" locations stand out from the others. One thing I am thinking of doing, is giving the terrain a bigger part in the scene. It is already an important part of any combat, what with difficult terrain slowing up monsters, and cover and concealment allowing lurkers to get around to shank more vulnerable PCs. But I think I can try and give it a little more active role, whether through traps/hazards or interesting terrain effects.

So, say I send the party deep into the Shadowfell. Possibly so deep they are in Shadow Shadow bo Badow, and they come through this twisting shadowy mist into a cavern. In this cavern there's a copse of exotic ghost mushrooms the size of trees that give off a faint bluish/white glow. They are slightly translucent, perhaps they have grown so large from eating the dead and decaying ghosts and specters and other haunted souls that roam the lands of the dead. All around them motes of dust and spores dance in their light.

So let's say I have a few stands of these giant mushrooms spread around the cavern. That's kinda cool in and of itself. Maybe if I gave the mushrooms some kind of importance to the story it might make them a little more interesting, maybe they need to harvest young mushrooms for a cure to a deadly disease, or something like that. I don't know, as I've said, I've never really done up encounters/locations like this before.

Now amidst these rare mushrooms, maybe there are ghosts that are trapped, slowly being digested by these giant fungi colonies. And to top it off, there are some monsters here they'll have to fight. Maybe they've been tracked here by their enemies, or maybe it's just a bunch of shadowy cavern monsters. Either way, there's a fight.

So when the fight breaks out, I could probably try and encourage the PCs to explore around the mushrooms, by hinting that say, the shadows around the mushrooms seem eerily thick, they provide concealment to adjacent creatures. Or maybe give players that fight in squares filled with floating mushroom spores a bonus to their attacks at the cost of a penalty to defense.

At some point, the half-digested ghosts might wake up, and either join the fray if the fight is going too easy, or perhaps they start thrashing about, which would give me the excuse I need to change the effects of the mushroom. Maybe this causes clouds of spores to move around, or a different kind of ghost spore to be emitted, which damages anyone caught in it, storing the life energy of creatures within the mushroom stalks. Maybe at this point, they could try and free a ghost from a mushroom, which would allow them to spend a healing surge, or regain a healing surge or something like that.

That seems kinda cool. I like the idea of the dynamics of the encounter changing over the course of the fight. It would encourage people to revisit the terrain. I guess the danger here is in not being clear about when things are changing, but if I can describe the shifting of spores or something, then I could prompt active perception or dungeoneering checks or something, to give players the opportunity to use their skills and feel like they were worth taking. Oooh, I could totally have freeing the ghosts be a skill challenge or something.

That's how I might engage the explorer in an exotic location. Tune in soon for cultural encounters of the third kind.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons Bloggin' 2: This time, it's Personal.

When D&D 4th Edition first came out, everyone in my gaming group was amazed. Everything was new and shiny, and just seemed so cool. Then came creating characters, which brought with it the following proclamation: "You don't need an 18 in this edition."

For those of you who weren't there in 3rd edition, if you didn't have an 18, or better yet, a 20 in your main stat (generally Strength or Intelligence, but possibly Dexterity) and proceed to acquire the magic items to boost that by whatever was reasonably priced, you were shooting yourself in the foot. Trying to be a fighter with a strength of 16 was like trying to take on three machine gun nests at the top of Tiger Mountain: unless you were Yogendra Singh Yadav you were going to die a bloody bloody death.

Today, we've a few more games of D&D under our belts, and it looks like you do really need an 18 in your primary stat, and if you can swing it, a 20 is the way to go. It makes sense, too. You've got to hit to do most of the cool stuff in the game.

But I stand by our original claim, and I also stand by the Standard Array (rray ray ay). Mind you, this takes a lot more work and the style of play it caters to isn't everyone's cup of tea. More on that style after the jump, but suffice it to say that it hits my secret weak points for enjoying a game.

You guys have one of these... right?

It is also important to bear in mind that these are based on my own, admittedly limited, observations from playing D&D, and also a lot of looking at theoretical situations. So, it may be that I am just making things up, but I still think it is possible.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Explorer and You. Or. Well. Me.

Man, I guess it's been a while. Let's dust off the old blog.

This means you!

Sorry about that.

Now, on to business. I've been thinking of running a D&D game as of late. It all started back in historic This One Time. The scene went a little something like this:
It was a busy night at Chuy's. Thanksgiving was around the corner, and darned if the hungry masses were gonna cook up a hot meal at home. There'd be time enough for that come Thursday. But tonight, the city was one hotbed of dining out. Money would change hands more than once tonight, and the people? They'd pay.

But that didn't matter, not to me. I'd seen too many lives wasted in the gutter, too many dames with sob stories and killer instincts.
A dame a dime a dozen, you could say.

I thought I'd take in the scenery, with my closest buddies. Sometimes it fee
ls like they're the only ones I can trust, but I know it's only because I know where the bodies are buried. That kinda sentiment really gets ya, right here.

The waitress broad brought our orders, and Pat, formerly Big Angry Pat, formerly "Knuckles Mahoney" Pat, the kinda guy who'd bust your nose for lookin' at him funny, reminded me that my life wasn't really a film noir scene, and try as I might, I don't really sound like Humphrey Bogart. (Sadly.)

So Pat spake, proclaiming: "You want to run a game."
And lo, did I ask of them, "I do?"
Verily, did Frank reply, his voice portending the future to mine ears, "Yeah, kinda."
Which brings me to today. I've been doing a little bit of world building, and with a lot of help from Frank I think I have a winner. What really struck me as interesting about the whole process, is the amount of thought put into the various cultures in the game, and the cool/unique scenic and aesthetic elements that I'll be describing.

I don't want to give away too much here. Not yet anyway, but suffice it to say, this has struck a chord with me, as I've always been fascinated by one type of player, the Explorer.

For those of you who don't know, the Explorer is the kind of player who delights in getting to see new parts of your campaign world. When there's a lull in the plot, they're the ones who want to travel somewhere new to see what's out there, they long to climb the next hill, meet the next interesting people, and take in as much of the game world as is possible.

This is easy to understand. After all, part of the appeal of D&D or any similar game is getting to explore a more fantastic world. But for me, it's always been exploration through, either combat with its inhabitants or through the unfolding of a story. The setting has always been kind of a secondary character.

In my experience, the players in the group I'm with have always been more interested in doing than seeing. Often times, travel through the countryside is hand-waved, reduced to something along the lines of "A few days pass of you walking through the woods and you get there." Even if there's an encounter in the wilderness, it's never really described beyond, "And there's totally some trees here, which count as blocking terrain, and some bushes here which are difficult, but provide cover." Everything is always laid out simply and practically, with an eye towards the mechanics.

There's a dearth of flavor text in my gaming experience. Now, mind you, this is probably just my group, but as such, I've often wondered how to describe something effectively enough to invoke a sense of wonder, or at least stoke the fires of nascent explorers. How does one describe "the woods" in order to make them as engaging and interesting as the owlbear that just came crashing through them? How do you convey the timeless sense of ancient ruins and a bygone civilization that wrought such works upon the world, only to fade with time, without having an all too jaded/detached party of players encourage you to get to the fightin'?

So in building this world, I'm attempting to put in details to try and encourage exploration. This means I'm gonna have to practice description. The DMG advises showing, not telling, as a means of encouraging player interest, and engaging all of the senses. Coincidentally, or not, this is also an acting exercise that is used to really evoke "the scene" for you and for the audience, making it more real; they can tell if you're "smelling something good" vs. "smelling freshly baked cookies." The latter is more specific, and it lends a kind of emotional weight that other people pick up on. It helps to fill in the blanks and engage the senses of the audience.

With that in mind, as Frank and I have been coming up with peoples and places, I've been trying to picture them as detailed as I possibly can. I'm still kind of at a loss, but then, this is new territory for me. It seems a pity to give up on exploring it now.

You saw that one coming, right?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must continue to atone for my misdeeds and redeem/regain my lost honor! Details at 11.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Herein lies the Saga

Fair was the morning, but dark was the day that brought doom upon us. Lo, it had been foretold by the seven winds to Gromnil the Skjald, that the morning of Three Bright Stars would herald a moment of destiny.

Gromnil proclaimed that upon this day, a great king from days long past would return, bringing with him ships and weapons of war, weapons forged in the hell hot fires of our enemy's darkest fears. Young Skaerlas went to the edge of the gray woods, and thereupon did he see the return of King Glaumnisson, astride a White-Maned Beast, which snarled and growled as it trod upon the ancient grounds of our ancestors.

Skaerlas called for the horns to sound, and called for the men to gather their gifts of tribute and prepare to hail the new king, when it happened. The Three Bright Stars shone down, and about the feet of Glaumnisson's beast, the Njaerdling, there was a mist which left the ground frozen in its wake.

More and more of the lands of our fathers was covered in this mist, and it seemed that the breath of Fenris was upon us, for then, Skaerlas beheld the Glaumnisson's host.

Behind the Njaerdling, armed with weapons of the stuff of nightmares and madness, they marched. Our ancestors, unliving, with eyes that screamed from the blackest depths of the night, They fell upon our town, and shattered the kingly tribute that had been gathered.

The winds howled and the beasts roared terribly, but though they were fearsome, we won BECAUSE WE SHOT THEM WITH OUR MIGHTY LASER BEAMS BECAUSE WE ARE ACTUALLY A HIGHLY ADVANCED SOCIETY! IN YOUR FACE!!!!! BOO-YAH! YEAH! LASERS! THAT'S RIGHT!!!



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What did you saaay?! Your face was asking!

For your amusement, and also mine, the 50 worst video game voice acting things.

Among my favorites:

"Please don't kill me, but I suppose you have to!"

"Now withstand my arctic blast!"

"Interested in my body?" "No." "Oh, you're into that." "I like girls, but today, it's about Justice."

"Yesterday is today's history and blaghraugfesifhufigawyagf"

I seem to have lost a little gray matter there. Anyway, watch on...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hooray! Space!

In case you haven't heard, they found water on the moon. This is amazing, and not just because it's a potential resource for humanity and any moon base we might wish to establish (albeit at the cost of a bloody man-machine-space gorilla war), but because it means that here is some strong material evidence for the exploration of space.

It's theorized that water might actually form on the moon in an endogenic process from an interaction between solar winds and moon rocks. Something to do with charged hydrogen breaking apart oxygen bonds in the soil and creating trace amounts of water/ice. Here is something which doesn't happen on Earth, but at the same time is in reach.

Who knows what might be discovered on the other planets in our Solar System? Or beyond even the furthest reaches of our own Sun?

I have always been fascinated by the prospect of exploring space. Ever since we learned about it in elementary school, the idea's been emblazoned in my mind. I don't know if I'll ever be an astronaut, but someday, I'd like to go beyond the Earth. Someday, I'd like Mankind to reach out for the stars, and to know them, to understand the cosmos.

I believe that understanding is the key to our future, to the galaxy's even, if you think of it as one big organism. It's been said that we are a mechanism for the cosmos to know itself.

I'm inclined to agree.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where now, and to what end?

Quick update:

The writing process is coming along full speed ahead. is the devil.

New zombie articles soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It was Carl Sagan's birthday a while back

I can't believe I had forgotten.

Carl Sagan
was one of my heroes. He told stories about the universe, and our place in it. He made the unknowable seem wondrous, and the vastness of space seem filled with delicate joy.

In his writings, science and poetry come together, and the universe is a beautiful place to be.

From Cosmos to Contact, I admire them all.

Here's one last little thing to think about.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Games I aim to try

The title says it all. These are a number of games I'd like to play, ranging from board games to video games. As I've got some considerable free time regarding a gaming schedule at the moment, I'm compiling a list of all the ones I want to try. Games marked with * indicate I want to play this in as fancy-pants a manner as possible.

Board Games:
Role-Playing Games:
Video Games:
Now if only I had some kind of time machine, so all of these could be out now, and I'd have the time to play them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I have had some serious sci-fi on the brain lately

This is likely because the novel attempt I am making is a science fiction story. I've been rereading a lot of my favorite stories in this vein, because I'm of the belief that much as milk smells like what it's been next to in the refrigerator so too is the writing style influenced by what has been read recently.

It is my hope that it'll help me get past writing the first chapter, which is about where I am stuck at the moment. I keep going back and redoing the beginning. I keep telling myself that I should press on and write some more, but it's a habit I picked up writing papers. I've found that once I get going on a topic, I can keep going, the words and ideas just fall into place.

But without that solid beginning, I don't really have anyplace to go. So for now, I have written the first couple of pages over once or twice. I find myself staring down a blank page. But no fear, I shall prevail.

Timeline restored.

Reinitializing reality.

Data corruption detected, backup systems coming online.

Error: backup systems offline.

Attempting reality restore.

Restore complete. Initialize Y/N?l

Space/time causality error detected.

Preparing for temporal restabilization.

Please, evacuate sector 3.

Please, evacuate sector 4.

Prepare for restabilization.

Temporal anomaly isolated.

Restabilization imminent.

Please do not^#H!ND,.1.094-09818(*398

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Prepare to face my fury!

I have traveled back from the future to deliver this message: your doom is at hand! Prepare for fury the likes of which you've not seen before. Quickly, before it is too late, develop an unstoppable technique, or failing that, a style that cannot be bested by anyone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hah! Employment!

I have a job now. My job, such as it is, consists on covering zombies in Austin. Now, mind you, I'm not real sure that I've ever seen zombies in Austin, outside of maybe one or two philosophical zombies, but as we all know, that's just the old "I'm only ever sure of my own consciousness" argument, but sexed up with the living dead. The dinosaurs agree with me on this one, so again, not sure.

But I'm going to keep making stuff up until they tell me to stop, so it should be totally awesome. Also, in the process, I'm learning about Search Engine Optimization, creating easier to read articles, and how to avoid some journalistic pitfalls. Bet you wish I had a link for that one.

Me too.

Anyway, that's it for now. Time to celebrate my being published. On the internet. Hooray!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Prepare to meet your doom!

There are some phrases that everyone should have the opportunity to say in their life. Some opportunity in which it's appropriate that anyone be saying these things. For example, saying, "Gentlemen... BEHOLD!" and then unveiling a bowl of cereal doesn't carry the same weight as the same phrase but unveiling a death ray.

Which would you rather unveil?

Actually, now that I think about it, it would be kind of awesome to unveil a bowl of cereal like that. It's worth trying in the name of science, which brings me to the next phrase on the list of awesome stuff to say:


Because sometimes you need to have a reason to do whatever you are about to do. So you should announce it in the name of SCIENCE! For example, whenever the people at CERN are about do do, I don't know, anything, I am certain that their employees probably shout the reason they are doing this.

Now, as you may know, the Large Hadron Collider over at CERN has had a great deal of trouble in the past. People were worried it might create a black hole and kill us all. While that would be a terrible tragedy, it would have given at least one scientist to utter...

"You insolent fool! You've doomed us all!"

While the potential destruction of the planet is certainly one of the most fitting examples, there are plenty of opportunities to say this in a grave, if melodramatic voice. Mind you, don't go overdoing it. Nobody cares if someone burned the coffee. Unless doing so breaks the LHC, in which case, it's all yours.

That's all I dare post for now, lest the concentrated power of these phrases tear my computer asunder, unleashing their awesome might. No, the world is not yet ready for this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

There is this club that I think you should join

Picture this:

It is midnight and the woods are quiet. Only the sounds of crickets disturb the chill air of the night. Moonlight illuminates the mist coiling on the ground, and an ill wind blows. Suddenly a murder of crows takes flight, and you know in your heart that the hour of destiny is at hand! Slowly you turn towards the encroaching darkness of the forest and face your foe. With a clash of steel and an exalted shout, the battle begins.

This is what it is like to be a member of the Midnight Samurai Dueling Club. You too can experience this feeling of total awesomeness.

It is important to follow the rules though, lest you dishonor yourself and your ancestors.

  1. Tell Freaking EVERYBODY about Midnight Samurai Dueling Club, because it's awesome.
  2. Don't actually try and hurt anyone. Samurai Duels are all about the shouting and the running around and honoring your ancestors and getting revenge for what that insolent dog has done/retrieving your clan's family sword.
  3. Honor above all else!
  4. Shout loudly! Do not be afraid to call your attacls!
  5. Be Awesome to your Foe.
That's it! Following these simple rules will prepare you for your very own Midnight Duel.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's that make us?

Looking at the different heroes in some of my favorite shows, I've realized something. I really really like it when they are heroic because they choose to be, rather than being forced to do the right thing. It gives their heroics much more meaning. Consider: in the episode Jaynestown, of the show Firefly, Jayne is revered as a hero by the mudders. Initially he revels in their worship, but as the show goes on, you get to see how affected he is by the tale of his heroism. He knows full well that their story isn't true, but when push comes to shove he fights for them anyhow, because it's what he feels is right. It makes the conflicting emotions he's feeling the more viable to have them be in his control, allowing Jayne to develop more fully as a character, instead of a victim of circumstances.

I love that kind of thing. I've even had the opportunity to play a character like that once. His name was Balasar Vel, a Half-Elf Paladin who wanted nothing more than to be a knight out of legend. He wanted to show people that they could shape their own destiny, they just had to want to. He is easily my most favorite character, and was a blast to play. I found I never had any problem taking part in the game. If I needed motivation, it was easy to draw on, which gave me the freedom to choose how to be affected by events. Also, if there was ever a shortness of something to do, it was easy to figure out where to go next, because the character's drive was to be a hero. It was totally sweet.

What other kind of heroics appeal to you guys?

Monday, November 2, 2009


One last video update, and then on to some thoughts on heroism and such. But first...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are you looking for a challenge?!?!!

It seems fitting that the Day of the Dead is also the month that a challenge is issued to the people of America: write a novel in a month. What constitutes a novel? 50,000 words or more, presumably put together in a coherent fashion, if not spelled correctly.

The idea is that anyone can write a novel, they simply have to try, laying word after word as a bricklayer might in order to construct first a wall, then a grand manor. You don't need to make a poignant commentary on civilization, this challenge is all about getting something done. It's about expressing yourself and overcoming your fears. Most importantly, it is about accomplishment.

It often takes time for us to see the fruits of our labors, especially so for some jobs, but this contest is the opportunity to get something done for yourself. There is a pride that comes in having accomplished something, moreso if it's something you've been meaning to do, but never had the gumption to.

So this is it, the chance of a lifetime, the chance to endure despite school, work, and life. Even if you don't decide to try, it gets you thinking.
If you wrote a novel, what would it be about?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Me Am Play Gods!

Have you ever tried to explain science fiction to anyone? Here's how.

Comics courtesy of Dresden Codak. If you've never read this, go back and read every last one of them. They are awesome.

Friday, October 30, 2009

For Halloween

Nothing beats the classics.

Pumpkin Blog!

Pumpkins! In a blog! Gourdtastic!

Thursday, October 29, 2009




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog in problems

So lately I have had problems logging in to my blog, or blogging in, if you will. But they seem to be corrected. I found yesterday's update hadn't posted, and today's update has been eaten twice now. I shall attempt this again when things seem to have settled. I only hope that this does not herald the robot uprising, because I really don't want to have to join a rag-tag band of rebels fighting against the machine.

Wait. What am I thinking? Bring it on! YEAH!

Monday, October 26, 2009


You've seen it over and over, whether in movies, games, or stories; the dead start to rise, for whatever reason, and the effect is devastating. Quickly the world is reduced to rubble, and all semblance of civilization falls. As the dust of a once proud society clears, there are a few left surviving, while the numbers of the hungry dead are bolstered with the unwary, the unprepared.

These survivors must contend with a number of problems, but before those can be addressed, steps must be taken to ensure that you, dear reader, are numbered among the living. Though it seems daunting, the prospect of a zombie outbreak can be dealt with simply if, and this is the most important point, IF you are prepared. For zombies are dangerous, but only to the unprepared. With regards to the undead, forewarned is forearmed.

But what can be done to prepare for the dead rising? First and foremost, think ahead. Federal law requires all public buildings to have fire escape plans, and you would do well to follow this example. Planning out an escape route for the places you frequent the most can help save valuable time when the dead start going for your throat. Coordinating your escape plan with others into a Zombie Action Plan ensures your ability to find friendly faces amidst a world gone mad.

Once you have escaped and grouped up, knowing where to go and what to look for are your top priorities. You should know where to find adequate shelter from the ravening dead, and where the nearest supply of anti-zombie weaponry can be found. With these few simple steps, you too can remain among the living when the dead begin to crave braiiiiins.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Science?

I have been attempting to fine tune my Tau army list for the past few days now. Maybe I have been focusing too much on the role of the battlesuits, but I'm not sure what else to focus on. I have come up with something satisfactory for the time being. It seems like it'd be decent in theory, but as They Might Be Giants suggest, I'll have to, in the coming days, Put It To The Test!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It is fall

What do you get when you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its radius? Pumpkin pi!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Once more into the breach!

At least with the Tau.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know much about Warhammer 40k, well, you're in the same boat as me. But I'll try and explain some of the more complicated jargon. Maybe make some kind of Illustrated Primer.

Anyway, back to the jargon. In Warhammer, and indeed any miniatures wargame worth its salt, you buy units from an allotment of points. In my case it's two thousand points. The majority of this is spent on general infantry units and their transports. The transports keep the infantry alive (ostensibly) until they can take hold of an objective or something else. This generally goes kinda poorly for me, but I'm working on that. Aside from that, I can't do much with them, there's not much customization for them.

Beyond that, I have a few units of battlesuits and tanks to bring the heavier firepower. Therein lies the customization of the units. And I've got my tanks all kitted out as much as I'd like, so instead, I will focus on the suits. The way I run them now, they're meant as throwaway units, they show up for a turn and try to kill stuff, then get killed vaingloriously. I try and field them as cheap as I can, and maximize their weaponry. To this end I give them melta guns (so they can take out heavy vehicles from up close) and flamers (for light infantry from up close). I a, considering switching out the melta guns on one of the units of battlesuits and taking missile pods in their stead, to give me a little ranged power, and something that I can use on light vehicles, so that my heavier guns I can dedicate to the heavier vehicles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My poor poor Tau

Earlier today I had a game at Battleforge Games. My Tau army faced a monstrous horde of orks. The battle did not go very well for me at all. I lost all of my forces and managed to take out maybe a third of my opponent's in return.

Part of that was due to a run of bad luck, but I attribute my crushing defeat also to my relative inexperience with the game. I wasn't aware of what certain units did and in turn was off balance for the whole game. I found myself more or less reacting to one part of the board and allowing my forces to get trapped and killed.

The next time I run up against Snikrot and his Commandos I have a better idea of what they'll throw at me. And Frank taught me a valuable lesson: if you don't know what something does, ask. That would've garnered me some information which would've helped me out a great deal.

Presently my army list is focused on destruction of enemy armor, with flamers and submunitions from railguns to take out enemy infantry. I'm looking at varying that a little, because as I play more and more games, I find the focus tends to leave me wanting against certain armies. But then, I'm still learning the game, and building a cool list is all a part of it. It's very interesting, I just wish I had more time to play.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I've been feeling all philosophical today. In a big thinking kind of mood. I've got a post here somewhere about the natures of different players in games, but I can't quite elucidate my thoughts on the matter.

So for now, what I'll do is tell you two of my favorite philosophy jokes:

Renee Descartes is walking up to his favorite restaurant when a friend stops him, pointing at a horse loitering at the restaurant. "He's waiting to be seated," his friend says, to which Descartes replies, "That's preposterous. They'll never seat him. Go and put my name on the list so we can get our food." His friend attempts to do so, but returns dejectedly with the news, "I'm sorry Renee, but they wouldn't let me put Descartes before the horse."

Descartes walks into his favorite restaurant (horse free this time). The waiter asks him, "Would you like some soup?" He replies, "I think not," and then poof, he disappears.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My cat Grady.

Today, I took my cat Grady in to the vets. I didn't take him home. Yesterday I noticed he was kind of sluggish and weak, so I thought I'd take him in. I was so worried I sat up all night, thinking about him and trying not to worry about it.

It turns out he was more sick than I thought, and now he is at peace.

I remember the day when he showed up at our doorstep some twelve or thirteen years ago. My sister Harmony found him mewling at our doorstep. He so tiny then, I could hold him in one hand. Winter was around the corner at the time, so we took him in, and it wasn't long before he was named Grady (because he was gray) and from then on he was one of the family.

Let me tell you about Grady. He was one of the most sensitive, loving souls I've ever met. Shy, but affectionate, he loved nothing more than rolling over so his belly could be rubbed. He had the loudest purr you ever heard, and nearly everything would make him purr. He didn't really care for catnip, but instead loved to eat sticks and lizards and other outdoorsy types of things. He was always kind of fluffy, and very gentle. He was my friend.

Rest in Peace Grady, you will be missed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

From the Graveyard

It was quiet. All the excitement of the evening had faded away, and in its place? The comfort of a dull, routine graveyard shift.

The monitoring systems hummed quietly, beeping at regular intervals to inform their attendants that no new activity had been detected. The attendants watched, looking for patterns outside to keep engaged. It was like finding shapes in clouds, except that shattered chunks of what was once Alderaan substituted for fluffy masses of water vapor, blown by wind. More, "That one looks like a rock," and less, "That one looks like a cotton ball."

The quiet was the foremost thing on Jenros' mind at the moment. Laying there on his bed, with his eyes shut tight, he was acutely aware of a dull humming in the background, as though someone had left a vidscreen on somewhere. Aside from that, there was nothing. No wind, no speeders, just... space. That kind of quiet always unnerved him. Something about leaky pipes or rickety ductwork was kind of comforting. Like a lullaby almost. How anyone could sleep with all of this quiet around was beyond him.

He felt the metallic cylinder dig into his chest as he shifted on his bed, and thought bitterly to himself about how none of the stories he'd read ever talked about how uncomfortable and cold these things were. He cracked open his eyes, made sure nobody was in the room, and for the seventh time since being left alone in his room, took out the... flashlight. He'd found that if he squinted his eyes, and never turned it on, he was sure it was just a flashlight; and the night's earlier meeting was something he'd dreamed up. There was no way any of that could be true. The Jedi were gone, right? And, he told himself, even if they had managed to survive, there was bound to be someone else. Never mind that for the first time since setting out on his own, he felt like he was in the right place, this was crazy. And yet...

It was these unthinkable, if hopeful, thoughts, these "And Yets" that kept him from anything close to a good night's rest.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A long time ago...

In a galaxy far, far away...

Tonight, I got to play Star Wars with my friends. It was amazing. I haven't had this much fun in a gaming session in a while; I was surprised by some of the things I found myself enjoying and wanting to do in the game, but I'll get to that in a little while.

First and foremost, the game was enjoyable because it was a chance to just sit and hang out with my friends. Gaming is a marvelous activity because it is so social. It brings us together, as I've said, and it has been a while since I've had the chance to sit down and spend an evening with some of these folks, namely Mike and Jordan, so that was particularly nice. They're good guys, all of them. And the kind of atmosphere that a role-playing session creates is a little more intimate than an evening of wargaming I feel, because it brings you together to tell a story, and you have to connect with the others in order to participate on the same level. Also it's a quieter environment, limited to only a few people, so there's a narrower focus for interaction, which means you get both quality and quantity time.

I talk more about Star Wars after the jump

Friday, October 16, 2009

Zoh my gosh!

Tomorrow is the start of the Star Wars campaign. I am so excited. I have created my character, Jenros Vel, a human scout, and man of action. At least that is what he'd say. He tries to be taken seriously, really he does.

Anyway, while I compose his backstory into something intelligible and fun to read, here's the numbers that will soon be turned from raw statistics into a living breathing being with his own likes (witnessing new parts of the galaxy) and dislikes (the smell of bars). Maybe a favorite vegetable. Who knows! Anyway, the numbers for Jenros Vel, Human Scout:

Strength: 8
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 12

He has the following feats: Force Sensitivity and Vehicle Combat (as he is an experienced pilot)

Jenros Vel, Space Explorer is proficient in the following skills: Pilot, Perception, Initiative, Jump, Galactic Lore, and Use the Force.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My latest project

I've finished work on my financial aid applications, and am waiting around to hear from the other universities I applied from, so that I can get my schooling underway next semester.

While I wait, though, I've been keeping myself busy. Whether painting up my Tau or dreaming about the upcoming release of Dragon Age Origins, I've kept myself entertained.

But now, I am taking a big step forward. Sort of. I've put together an adventure pitch and sent it to WotC, with the hopes that they will think it awesome. I hope that they do, and what's more, that they print it up in Dungeon or something. That would be sweet, but you know what? If they don't take it, I'll print it here myself, so it's a win-win.

But that's how it goes, really. I have found that in general, it is always worth it to try something, to take the risk in putting yourself out there in some way. Whether auditioning for a part in a play or applying to school, even asking someone out on a date, it's scary, sure, but the worst that happens is they say no, and you're no worse off than you were to begin with.

Anyways, I'll keep track of my adventure in um, adventurerering here. Let's see what happens. :D

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

30 days later

Holy cow! I cannot believe I have been keeping up with this blog for a month. As of right now, this is the longest I have ever maintained a web type thing with any regularity.

It has been fun, actually, and what's more, I learned a great deal from my experience as well. For starters, I learned that it takes time to compile my thoughts properly, and that often it will take a draft or two before I've said what I want to say. I also found myself thinking about what has been going on around me a lot more. At first it was just to figure out what to say in my blog, but as the days went by, I fell into the habit of being more attentive to the world. That was pretty cool.

I also found I have a few bad habits with regards to keeping up with deadlines. For a while, most of my updates were made at the end of the day, right before bed, when my brain was tired, ready to shut down. There are a few updates that I am quite proud of though, and by and large they were the ones I spent at least an hour working on.

Blogging also gave me the impetus to finally upload a number of pictures to my camera, and also helped me to figure out a schedule for writing.

Things still in progress: I'm still finding my voice, and learning how to work with html. I still am developing my writing habits, and collating my thoughts, but I feel that as the days go by, I'll enjoy it even more than I do now.

Anyway, that's all for now. As a reflection on the end of my month o' blogging, I thought I'd save this update for bedtime. Or I got lazy again, I forget. In any case, I have not yet made my save, so you can expect another 30 days from me. :D

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Rocktober 13th!

Today is Rocktober 13th! Brutal Legend came out today. If you don't already know, this should tell you why you want to play it:

Conversion Beam

I have begun work on a conversion project for my Tau army. For those of you who don't know, conversion, with regards to Warhammer 40K means taking an existing model and redoing it, making it look cooler, often by adding new parts, or changing the look of it through resculpting.

My project is to take the current model of Tau stealth suit:

And give it a more agile look. Mostly this will consist of cutting off the "pod" featured in the inset, and remodeling it so that it appears more like a light battle suit. I think this will look totally awesome. Pictures to follow as soon as my camera is working again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In the future...

All of our problems will be solved with lasers. Can't see well? Lasers. Regret that tattoo? Lasers. Hurricane a-brewing? Lasers. Alien robot battles? Lasers. Too many arms? Lasers. Not enough arms? Lasers. I'm sure.

You get the idea.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tools of T3h Future

The following is a list of helpful references for creating a more "crunchy" science fiction setting. At least, after reading them, I felt inspired to think about a cool new futureverse, which is totally a word and has been for more than just the last sentence.

In No Particular Order:

The Kardashev Scale: This is useful twofold. First, it provides a means of measuring any interstellar society's level of power. And by consulting the scale, you can nget an idea of the kind of resources at their disposal, and also the kind of infrastructure needed to sustain such a civilization. It also outlines the scope of futuristic civilization from a perspective not often considered. In other words, Dyson Spheres for everyone.

The Turing Website: This provides the history of computing, along with several articles on the nature of AI, including strong and weak AI. And as everyone knows, it's not the future if you don't have at least one AI.

Or, if you prefer, RAMPANT! Because it's not really an AI if it hasn't gone at least slightly mad.

And also, lasers. This article gives you an idea of the consequences of everyone having lasers all the time, forever and always.

These are but a few of the myriad of resources available to aid in the creating of a sci-fi setting, as they will show some common, albeit oft overlooked concerns that ought to be considered.

It's on now

Today, I got accepted into Saint Edward's University.

Also, my camera is not showing that I have taken pictures of my fire warrior heads.

I think, all things considered, I'll take that.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just a quick update

My Tau have two models with bare heads. This presented a unique challenge to me, in that I had to paint, in addition to the rest of the stuff, an alien fleshy type tone. Typically the Tau are pictured with bluish-grayish skin... the same color I picked for my cloth.

So what I did was take a brushful of the gray, and a brushful of white paint and mix them together for a lighter shade, and then I added a drop of water to the mix, to make it much thinner. I've found that watering down the paint used for flesh gives it a much more natural feel. It allows for varying shades to come through the paint more readily. For instance, the areas on the model that would be in shadow tended to show up a little darker, and the head didn't look unnaturally uniform. Which makes sense, given that our skin color is generally the same, but it varies ever so slightly from place to place.

I will show you pictures of this process later. For now, my camera has to recharge, and I have to hit the hay. But tomorrow, I'll post the pictures here, and have another update. So say we all!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A blast from the past!

I was going to write about a road trip I took to Gettysburg with my friends Frank and Abe, but then I realized that I can tell a much better story with the pictures I took:

In AD 2101, War was beginning...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Cosmos

Watch this:

Now go outside and look up at the sky and beyond it the universe in all its majesty.

The best part about that is that we're a part of it. You, me, everyone and everything. It's wonderful. I don't know what else to say.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Painted Tau, return of the revenge!

I finished painting my Tau. There's only one thing left to do:

Fashion Show, after the jump.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Re: Your Brains

Zombies are all the rage these days. They're everywhere! Whether in zombie attack preparation quizzes (which makes sense, as zombies are the biggest threat to the unprepared), books about how to survive the zombie outbreak, or just books that take beloved characters and throw them up against zombies. Then there's all the zombie movies. Some seem pretty realistic, but I think if anyone truly captures the essence of what a zombie attack would be like, it's Jonathan Coulton.

Speaking of Tau...

I have been painting my Tau lately, and with a tournament coming up on Saturday, I'm hoping that I'll have them all painted up in time. For now, here's how I'm painting up my Fire Warriors.

Pictures after the jump:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Regarding Warhammer 40k Planetstrike:

There are bastions for the Greater Good. They are Tauwers. That is all.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Rock Opera... of DOOM!

Earlier today, while hanging out with my friends up at BFG, we came up with the perfect way to create a rock opera:

Take a stack of magic cards, lay them out randomly, then using the power of metal and rock, string them together in a way that is awesome.

If the cards themselves do not seem awesome enough, the solution is thus: add the phrase ...of DOOM to the end of its name.

I tried it with some cards I had laying around, here's what I came up with.

It was a dark night in the Mountains of Doom!
We performed an Unholy Ritual
And raised the Goblin King from his Ancient Tomb

He called out to the Goblins
Tapped the Mountains to call down Kaboom
Then he summoned the Avalanche Riders...
The Avalanche Riders of DOOM!

Avalanche Riders of DOOM
Avalanche Riders of DOOM
How can you hope to stand against the
Avalance Riders of your DOOM!

All I need now are some totally sweet pyrotechnics, and maybe a verse about the Shivan Dragon or something, and maybe a line about how the Serra Angel of doom doesn't have to tap or something, and bam! Rock Opera.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is so metal.

While I'm on the subject of college entrance essays, I'd like to share with you one of my favorites. By far the best essay question I came across was the following:

You are in the van on the way to the battle of the bands when you find out the world will end after your set. Your performance could change everything. Tell us what happens in 500 words or less.

Read what I said after the jump.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A while back, I wrote about my history with games. Sort of. I was incredibly tired and ready for bed. But since then, I've actually organized my thoughts, and made things a little more coherent. So much so in fact, that I'm using this as a basis for some of my entrance exams. Games are an important part of who we are. More after the jump.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chekhov's Gun Shoots Bullets

So the other day, I watched Jet Li and Bridget Fonda in Kiss of the Dragon. This is a martial arts movie that takes place in France, which if you don't already know, means that it will be one hundred and over nine thousaaaaand per cent awesome. What nine thousand?! Yes, Virginia, over nine thousand.

I call it the French Connection, at least until I get sued. What it boils down to is that France acts as a melting pot, with its brazenness (google French movies and you'll see some brazenness) allowing standard martial arts action tropes to live up to their fullest potential. The movie doesn't even have to take place entirely in France. For proof of this, go watch Wasabi. Right now. It proves my theory so correct I don't even have to replicate it under controlled experiment conditions, so in your face Scientific Method! Huh? What's that? That's right, you've got nothing! NOTHING!

But I digress. Back to Kiss of the Dragon, after the jump.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In case you were wondering...

This weekend was pretty good, all things considered. There were a few moments which were either scary or boggling, but ultimately it was quite nice.

Friday started off with a bang, literally, which resulted in my rear windshield being shattered, so I had to repair that, which put a dent in the old pocketbook, but I got to go run around the mall with my girlfriend while they were fixing it. What's more, she tried out the Wii at the Gamestop, and actually had fun playing Wii Swordplay, which I think is fantastic. We all know it's a slippery slope from enjoying casual type games on the Wii to pwning n00bs in multiplayer on anything, so woo! It's only a matter of time now! BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Then on Saturday I got to go up to Battleforge Games and hang out with my friends. I finished generating my Star Wars character, all that's left now is to flesh out his backstory and take him from being a collection of notes to a (hopefully) fun and well-developed character. And even better, I learned some really cool techniques that I can put to use in painting my Tau army. So hopefully soon I'll have some pictures of my painted up models to show you, for the Greater Good.

And today was pretty nifty as well. I was planning on swinging by BFG again to try the Battlestar Galactica Board Game out, as it was being demo'd today, but I missed that. It was okay though, I got invited to play in a one shot with some folks I do not get to see enough of, so it worked out. I played a Half-Elf Historian, who was about as scholarly as Indiana Jones, and fought with two swords. The Tempest build out of Martial Power is quite fun and entertaining to play. I got a lot of mileage out of several of the powers, although if there is one thing I cannot recommend enough regarding that build: take powers that let you attack more than one creature at a time. It will make the world a better place.

Anyway, that was my weekend, I hope yours have been as fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We all need one

A Walker Texas Ranger Lever.

I know if I had one, it'd be roundhouse kicks for everyone!

It's Just Around the Corner

They're putting up Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations in the store. I've even seen Christmas tree displays at the hobby shop. This can only mean one thing...

It's almost Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day!

Get your Event Horizon Calendars all hung up, hang your tachyon flux array by the chimney with care. Only a few months worth of shopping days left, which is like no time at all if you're a time traveler. Or is it all the time in the world? I forget. I stop now. Head hurt from write.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OMG Star Wars!

Working on my character background for the Star Wars campaign has me thinking about watching the movies when I was much younger. I remember I had a list of things I wanted to do, should I ever find myself in the Star Wars world. It went a little something like this:
  • Become a Jedi.
  • Be best friends with a Wookiee.
  • Fly an X-Wing
  • Talk to Jawas
  • Talk to C-3PO and R2-D2
  • Get to meet other Jedi
  • Ride on a Tauntaun (and see if they smelled bad on the outside)
  • Go to the Rebel Base and be cool.
I am sure there's more to it, but that's about all I can remember right now. Anyway, this list is fascinating because, although I've never done any of these things, I can remember imagining so vividly that I knew what it would feel like to fly in a spaceship or swing a lightsaber (I definitely knew what it would sound like: kssshhzzzsshhwommmmwomwomwwwooommm), and that drops me right into a galaxy far far away.

Actors call this sense memory (I should know), drawing upon memories of sensations you've had in the past to connect you with a world you're pretending to inhabit. For example, if you start thinking about cheeseburgers, and find yourself remembering the smell and taste of them and then getting hungry for a moment, that's recreating the sensation of being hungry, even if you're not actually in the mood for some food, dude.

Roleplaying games are another venue for acting, and while they might not have the audiences of movies and plays... well... most plays,* they do have by and large more awesome plots. I mean think about it? If there were more plays that had evil cultists trying to take over the world by finding the hand of a powerful undead deity, you'd so be there. Or if plays started featuring orcs standing around guarding pies or treasure chests, and now that I think of it, what play wouldn't be better by including a Gelatinous Cube or Sith Lord?

MACBETH: Is this a dagger I see before me, handle pointed toward my hand? Come let me clutch you.

(Macbeth reaches out for the dagger, only to be engulfed by a quivering mass of CUBE)

MACBETH: Aaarblhglubglubaaauughblubglugglub.

CUBE: (Wiggling and jiggling noises as the CUBE trembles extemporaneously)


HAMLET: To be or not to be, that is the question...

(DARTH VADER stands slightly upstage of HAMLET, looking unimpressed and menacing.)

VADER: (After two deep, respirator enhanced breaths) I find your lack of faith disturbing.

(VADER extends one hand, fingers curled as though crushing something towards HAMLET who proceeds to choke and gasp)

HAMLET: Hurrrk! Gaarrrk!

VADER: The power to destroy your uncle is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

(HAMLET'S FATHER'S GHOST appears, shimmering and blue, like Obi-Wan)

GHOST: Run Halmet, run! Use the Force! Trust your feelings!

I mean, I'd pay to see that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Makes Sense to Me

I went to the book store today and I saw this:

What I love best is the look in his eyes. It's as though he's saying, from the bottom of his heart(s?), "I glub you."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wham bam update you ma'am.

Painting Experiment: Day Two.

The paint scheme continues to elude me. I fear that I have not seen the last of this occurrence. But I must steel myself for the coming battle. I must remind myself of all I strive for. It is not just for myself that I prime and paint and curse the very pigment I am attempting to apply, but rather it is for the good of the world that I do this. For if I can prove that miniatures can be painted, then shall our mastery of life and death be complete! They said it couldn't be done! They called me mad, but soon... soon I shall show them, show them all! Muhuhuhuahahahahahahahahaa!

In the meantime, I've a quick story to tell you.

Earlier today, I went over to my girlfriend's house to re-hang a tarp she'd put up to give her dogs a dry spot to hang out in. No big deal, I thought, five quick minutes and I'll be done. I think that was where I went wrong. If I'd just thought it would be this horrifically complicated mess that would take all afternoon and, say, catch half of the neighborhood on fire, I'd be fine.*

The tarp was laying on the ground when I arrived. A pool of slightly dirty water had formed in th center of it, but that was easily dealt with. Water ran down the blue material and quickly soaked into the mud all around the tarp, forming a kind of shoe-grabbing, nigh inescapable bog. That wasn't a big problem, in itself.

It was the dogs stomping around in it, and then all over me, that really made the mud pit any kind of issue. But even then, who doesn't like to get muddy every now and then? Again, no big problem. It was when the dogs decided to make a break for it that it all went pear-shaped.

I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought when they saw me, covered in mud and looking like I'd been that way for days, chasing this HUGE black lab type dog, and this teeny dachsund-esque dog all around the neighborhood. They're running and all excited because they're free, I'm shouting invectives at them for much the same reason, and the big one has slipped free of her collar--a metal chain--which I am clutching, no, brandishing as I corner them in a backyard down a nearby side street. It's worth mentioning a third dog was following me, pawing excitedly at the fracas.

But in the end, the dogs were returned safely, the tarp hung, and no harm done. In fact, the further and further I get from this, the funnier the whole misadventure seems. I expect this time tomorrow it'll be a shenaningan. Maybe a caper.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Today I started to paint my Tau for Warhammer 40k. So far I've only got 4 models painted, and I'm still experimenting with the final technique of painting them, before I start in on the rest of them.

The color scheme I have so far is a dark blue/gray for the cloth, with stark white coloring on the armored plates of their uniform. A metallic copper paint fills in the gun. I'm still not sure what I shall do for the lenspiece on the helmet. So far, I like the idea of painting it either a darker gray or black and painting the inside copper, so as to make it distinct. Although it may well be fine just as white.

Another of my models is drying right now. Once it's painted, I'll post a picture so as to show the progress I have made. I think the colors work out wonderfully, but I've been told (and am finding out) that applying white paint is a pain.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I am not allowed to write a Die Hard Movie.

The Trailer:

The camera fades in on a vaguely European dude barking orders in a thickly accented voice.

European Dude: I don't care who zey send, once ve have taken control of the banks and planted ze bombs in the city's water and orphan supply, they will be powerless to stop us!

Cut to a shot of bombs being lowered into a stream of water, then a shot of bombs being taped to orphans. We can still get away with doing that, right?

Narrator: When terror strikes.

Cut to a shot of those goons from Die Hard 2 looking all tough and menacing.

Narrator: The world is helpless

Have the go
ons open fire, sending policemen or possibly some national guardsmen running.

Narrator: But this Summer one man will refuse to give up. Show a silhouetted figure moving behind a wall, lurking in the shadows near the goons. One man will refuse to lay down and take it.

Cut to shot of someone bursting through the walls, tackling some goons while roaring angrily. Slow pan down to reveal our hero:


Narrator: This Summer, Rasputin will Die Hard!

Cut to shot of Rasputin screaming all angry like while one of the Die Hard Goons shoots him, but it doesn't stop him because he's Rasputin.


He knocks the goon aside with one sweep of his terrible iron fist, only to be stabbed by another g
oon. Again though, he's Rasputin, and so he grabs the other guy by the throat and throws him off of the building that they're totally on top of. Cut to a shot of Rasputin sitting in a cafe, enjoying some soup.

Waiter: Sir, I've been instructed to give you this note. The note reads, "HAHA, I Poisoned your food!"


Cut to the cafe exploding.

Cut to a shot of Rasputin landing, but looking all exploded, and killing a goon buy punching through his heart. Cut to goons talking about him.

Goons: We can't kill him! We've tried everything! We even tried to hang him! He won't die? What do we do? What do we do?


Rasputin bursts through the wall behind him and stabs him a couple of times with a knife that had previously been stabbed into his chest.

European Dude: Who are you? Why won't you die?!

Cut to a shot of Rasputin on the phone, talking to his estranged wife about his daughter's wedding.

Estranged Wife: So you'll be there? She wants you to give her away.


Reveal Rasputin being choked by yet another goon that he destroys. He hangs up the phone. Cut to second explosion.

When the smoke clears, show Rasputin look
ing banged up, but not quite as much as Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard 3, smoking from the blast.

Rasputin: I'm too old for this sh-- Cut to a third explosion, which reveals the title of the movie: