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Trip's Life (Recent episodes)

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2015-05-31:  "Re: Atlanta Burns" by Trip
2015-06-21:  "Thanks Marith!" by Avalon
2015-06-21:  "Re: liberation of Avalon" by marithlizard
2015-03-01:  "Complete Correctness" by Carl
2015-05-31:  "Atlanta Burns" by Carl

28 June 2015 - Sunday

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24 June 2015 - Wednesday

For a change, Anwë was not useless in combat! I actually rolled perfectly respectably on a d20 multiple times, although critting on initiative was kind of a waste. The orcs that tried to start a conversation by taking hostages and issuing demands were all crushed, although Goblin Bond disappeared despite being knocked out and poisoned with his own nightmare. Apparently they thought the PCs know how to control or at least repel the infamous living dungeon of Doooooom. For some reason.

Deadly Shores (Taylor Anderson) is nowhere near wrapping up the "Destroyermen" series, but it's the latest one available to date. The theme of this volume seems to be "commanders sacrificing their troops for the greater good".

Despite the title, Trailer Park Fae (Lilith Saintcrow) is not at all humorous. These are the sort of fae where the only difference between Seelie and Unseelie is how long they draw out playing with their food, and faerie intrigue leaves bodies littering the landscape. Also, Robin Goodfellow is an asshole.

Deep Navigation (Alastair Reynolds) is a collection of stories of varying shortness. They also vary in completeness: some seem like little more than vignettes. But they are all pretty interesting.

Food Wars! vol 1 (Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki) is about cooking, so maybe it's appropriate that it has lots of cheesecake? No, probably not.

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21 June 2015 - Sunday

Avalon is free! Her horrible job finally laid her off, with plenty of severance (just because it's a horrible dysfunctional company doesn't mean it's not in a semi-civilized country) so now she can rest up and regain SAN points for a while before looking for a satisfying job.

Still no PAD&D5, but this is an off week anyway. Next week, for sure!

Or maybe our lameness will just result in all the PCs being murderized and Earl will have to run Dungeon World instead.

I have to wonder how much agreement there would be in any game I'm part of if everyone filled out the Same Page tool individually. For extra discord, fill it out twice, once for how the game actually is and once for how it should be.

The next er five books in the "Destroyermen" series (Taylor Anderson), Rising Tides, Firestorm, Iron Gray Sea, Storm Surge, and Deadly Shores, add more doom on more fronts, but don't actually resolve any of them. I guess world conquest takes more than three thousand pages. (So why not spend a few more of them on half-naked catgirls? Hmph.)

Volumes 3-4 UQ Holder! (Ken Akamatsu) tie in more of the Negima! backstory but also introduce new obnoxious characters. The hero continues to be an idiot, but not a nebbish, which is certainly better than some previous Akamatsu characters at this stage of the story.

Sort-of-plenty by Avalon (Thu Jun 25 18:04:20 2015)

=) I cannot talk about that!!

Re: liberation of Avalon by marithlizard (Fri Jun 26 20:59:23 2015)

Congratulations on your freedom! May your next company be sane, profitable and enjoyable to work for!

Thanks Marith! by Avalon (Sun Jun 28 18:18:36 2015)


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18 June 2015 - Thursday

Just because, I read through all the Dungeon World questions at stackexchange, and now I want to play Dungeon World using all this new knowledge! The most important advice I saw was to remember that the GM's section of the DW rules is not GMing advice: it's rules just like the playbooks and basic moves. Distant second is, when someone tries to bring something goofy into the game, keep asking questions until either the goofy thing is rendered palatable, or the perpetrator withdraws it in embarrassment. No, that's third; second is just "ask more questions about everything".

Children may be adorable, but they spend a long time being the opposite of gaming.

In the evening, when children are recharging their impossibility reserves, we can play 13th Age! This week, we got assigned to find out what was up with the living dungeon that ate the town of mobile trees. Ostensibly in pursuit of this goal, we went to the temple of Sylphore, and ended up in a senseless brawl with a knight of the Crusader who was there to make sure the rescued goddess was buttered on the correct (IE, dark) side. Anwë found out almost nothing more about the mysterious green draconic monster with memory-stealing powers, but at least her imaginary dragon tail is +1 now.

Taylor Anderson's "Destroyermen" series (first four books: Into The Storm, Crusade, Maelstrom, Distant Thunders) is in the venerable "heroic US military units sucked into an alternate dimension must bring civilization and combined-arms tactics to the backwards natives" sub-genre. This time, the heroic Americans are in two WWI-era destroyers in the early days of WWII, between SE Asia and Australia, and the backwards natives are cat-people (really lemurs, but they look like cats to most people) and possibly only semi-sapient velociraptor guys. IMHO, at least 10% of the low-tech naval warfare and infrastructure building could be swapped out for more topless catgirls.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea (Adam Roberts) is kind of a weird book. It starts with a Cold War French nuclear sub going astray on a simple test sail, and then spends two thirds of the book with the cast of a dozen freaking out and arguing and stabbing each other and going completely mad, before we start finding out anything at all about why they are are in such a bizarre place. Then, everything is explained and wrapped up in what seems like just a few pages.

I haven't seen the anime of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, but the manga (GAINAX, Tagro) is pretty crazed. It makes even less sense than FLCL, and has at least 782% more lust and gluttony. It's sort of like R-rated Dirty Pair with fallen angels.

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14 June 2015 - Sunday

We finally completed the interminable dungeon crawl in 13th Age with a climactic battle against the boss's final form on the god plane, and leveled to 4th. Then Anwë got to present the crown of the Wizard King (with attached lich head) to the Elf Queen, and got not only recognized as still being a high elf, but given a boon. There may have been squeeing.

Next time, finally, Ken runs!

Hadoop Summit was this week, so most of the office was at the convention center Tue-Wed-Thu to crew the booth, and Arcadia Data has officially broken stealth.

Superior Cow Orker D from Teradata was in town for the Summit, although due to my ineptness at keeping track of my official (as opposed to personal) Gmail account, we didn't manage to get together until Saturday lunch right before he had to catch his plane. He is doing well, although he admits Hadoop is taking over and Teradata is doomed. 8)

The Straits Restaurant in Santana Row had really good salmon. Three tentacles up!

Sword Art Online has switched to a completely different MMORPG, with an obvious marketing advantage. Also, doooooom.

Natsume's Book of Friends has switched back to showing us what the most horrible and frightening creatures in existence really are, which is always nice. I liked the surprise youkai hug from last week, though.

No PAD&D5, only Zuul. I mean, Gollubvacation. But I did come up with a plan for maybe being able to take down small groups of very weak opponents if we survive long enough to reach 5th level.


Corsair (James L Cambias) should probably have a trigger warning for Lunar He3 Mining, but on the other hand it has no stealth in space and space pirates do their dirty deeds from offices full of monitors. And, shockingly, people who have the best intentions still get in trouble for breaking the law. Still, space piracy!

As expected, The Architect of Aeons (John C Wright) does okay when it explores the setting full of the works of higher-order sapiences ("sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature"), but less well when it comes to the allegedly posthuman main characters. Some of their problems are self-generated due to emotional up-screwedness, as is traditional, but they also make mistakes that I wouldn't expect of even reasonably bright humans. They do, however, seem to have pushed humanity into a state where it's capable of pointing out that they're both jerks, which I guess is an accomplishment? There are also slight indications that the author is softening on "heterosexual Christian monogamy uber alles", but only slight. I guess we'll see what happens in the next book.

No Game No Life vol 1 (Yuu Kamiyua) is a translated light novel that I think is also an anime series now, about a brother-sister pair of NEETs who get sucked into another dimension, where the gods have decreed there is no violence, only games. Good thing the protagonists are famous for never having lost a game of anything, ever, and have vaguely transhuman skillz. Like most light novels, it is extremely silly and also full of fanservice.

In an experiment in further dead-tree reduction, I made Amazon kindle me up some manga. For some reason, I ended up with mostly terrible cheesecake manga. I wonder why?

  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? (Fujino Omori) vol 1: Although the events are the same, the anime is more about girls trying to pick up the hero in a dungeon while he obliviously works at becoming more heroic, which I prefer.
  • So, I Can't Play H! (Pan Tachibana, Yoshiaki Katsurai) vol 1: Also an anime that I've seen, and the manga is also similar, but in this case raunchier.
  • Trinity Seven (Kenji Saito) vol 1: The first volume doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but it has an unflappable hero, at least seven babes, and machinations.
  • Gou-dere Sora Nagihara (Suu Minazuki) vol 1: Raunchiest of all. "Look at these nubile concubines I have captured from the local neighborhood!"

Tokyo Ghoul (Sui Ishida) is not cheesecake (although since it is about obligately anthropophagous monsters, some kind of human body/foodstuff metaphor should go there). Although the plight of the main character is moving, I don't really buy how he got into that plight. The physiologies are just too different for trained physicians to do that without realizing. Also, what is up with the trope of mysterious coffee shops in Tokyo? (This is me not going to TVTropes because I would like to get some work done this week.)

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12 June 2015 - Friday

The Most Dangerous Game: Twenty.

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7 June 2015 - Sunday

In PAD&D5, after escaping imprisonment from our defeat last session, we took the king's decapitated body to the queen-in-exile, loaded up on potions, and tried to mug a Daughter of the Revolution to get The Frederick's magic sword back. Because we are possibly the worst-designed party ever, and possibly also because our motivation was to get XP and loot, we wiped completely again. It didn't help that the DoR who beat us last time unexpectedly handed off the sword to her more-powerful sister, but mostly we just suck.

The Cormorant (Chuck Wendig) is the third book in the Miriam Black series, in which someone from an earlier book who is too clever by half uses the protagonist's death sight against her. However, just because she's cursed doesn't mean she doesn't also have superpowers that she's not afraid to use...

When I read the setup for The Fold (Peter Clines), I thought it was going to be a ripoff of The Infinitive of Go (John Brunner, 1980), but although I suppose with enough compression they could be mistaken for each other, The Fold is definitely in the horror genre. The hero is kind of ridiculously over the top, though — he's supposed to be extremely smart, but he's on almost the same level as the protagonist of Zero Sum Game and Half Life, whose mind powers are a major plot element.

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4 June 2015 - Thursday

Mid-week update! No reason.

I completely messed up the climactic fight by wimping on out being cruel to the PCs. I need to work on being a harsh and vicious GM who will relentlessly crush all who dare enter my world! Or at least one who will stick to the plan and say, "You can't do anything except try to escape the Vine of Evil and take damage when you fail muahahahahahahah".

Strangely, though, people seemed pleased with the session as a whole, probably because they got to plan out a symbolic journey to find/aid a goddess of journeys, and each give up something to symbolize overcoming the trials Sylphore had to overcome on her journey. Hurray for player agency!

The Mad Apprentice (Django Wexler) is the sequel to The Forbidden Library. We learn some more about certain enslaved magical creatures and the mages who enslave them (and the poor expendable schmoes they take as apprentices), but not really much more about the system. The heroine's tragic backstory gets some more development, though, and suggests that the next book will be full of doom.

Nemesis Games (James SA Corey) zooms in from the socially-disruptive interstellar land rush to see what disaffected elements in the Solar System are doing in response to society being disrupted. (No bonus points if you guessed, "disrupt society further".) Also, we get to see the female lead's dark past, which no one sane can blame her for fleeing. Next book is probably back to the gates and the main plotline.

Blades and Bitter Apples (MCA Hogarth) is a short collection of short fantasy stories, none of which really wowed me. I'm not even sure what the unicorn one was about — I must have missed something at the end.

The Dragon Conspiracy (Lisa Shearin), is the sequel to The Grendel Affair, which I read because I had it right there. It doesn't have the infolump at the beginning, and it does have multiple villainous plans intersecting, but is still not that exciting.

The second volume of Stories of the Raksura (Martha Wells) has a story about some other people in the Three Worlds, but mostly Wells has a bunch of characters who are always getting mixed up in the weird stuff their world is filled with, and also sometimes have to freak out about having kids and stuff, so she is never going to lack for material for entertaining short stories.

Reading graphic novels on Kindle actually works pretty well, at least for ones with a simple, cartoony art style like Nimona (Noelle Stevenson). Shapeshifting is the best superpower ever, naturally, even for villains. (Anyone who opposes a Hero must be a villain, right?)

Blackbirds and The Mockingbirds (Chuck Wendig) are full of doom beyond most doomed books I read, because the protagonist unstoppably sees the death of anyone she makes even the slightest skin contact with. The question of whether the deaths themselves are unstoppable, and if not, how, just makes her smoking, drinking, cussing, and general failure to be socially acceptable, more understandable.

"Call The Ships To Port" by Covenant still reliably makes my hair stand on end.

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31 May 2015 - Sunday

Work. Also, customers. And brainlessness.

I made the 13th Age PCs wander through some more concretely-described dungeon locations and undead and hungry stars to get to the climactic confrontation with the creepy person in the dark. I think it went okay, even though I killed hardly any of them very much and had to push off the actual fight to next week.

In PAD&5, we had no Dave because he ran off to Yosemite with Marith, but I ran his character in the fights. The PCs found the correct Cow Lady (stupid squirrels and their inability to distinguish humanoids) just as the Equalists did and helped her defeat the Equalist squad and the oldest Daughter of the Revolution with her robot pony and magic butterflies, but The Frederick was trapped on the Ethereal Plane when Rose retreated. Fortunately he had his Stone of Texting, and was able to take selfies of himself climbing the chains that led from every major tree to the giant mechanism in the city and thence to the moon, so Zach did not have to actually strangle him. He also met Kamala, Zach's erstwhile Hot Librarian fling, who was revealed to be an inspiration-eating succubus last episode, but this time claimed to also be a daughter of the king's cursed bastard daughter -- princesses all around!

Zach's Charisma is way higher than either his Wis or his Int, so he was able to talk the Hera-Touched priestess out of the password to the river elemental, get all hopped on moon dust without Kamala around to steal his good ideas, and come up with the plan of getting the local mutant beavers to divert the river and cut off the city's moondust supply. The Frederick, in disguise as a stinky person of strong back and slow mind, went with the Equalist response party, but even when he attacked from behind with the Terror of Sword-Dancing, his future flame Amaryllis the hobgoblin officer and the middle Revolutionary Daughter Amethyst were able stomp the PCs. (It was all my fault because I rolled three consecutive failures on an easy Con save for Dain to get unparalyzed and heal someone before we all got flattened.) Next session, they can wake up in chains and get ranted at by high-level Equalist NPCs!

Yay Avalon!

That is all you are cleared for.


The middle-aged geek hero of Polychrome (Ryk E Spoor) seems a little too obviously a stand-in for the author, but hey, who doesn't want to save Oz from evil mages and smooch a rainbow spirit?

Earl recommended Zero Sum Gam and Half Life (SL Huang) a while back, but I was inexplicably not competent enough to read them until now. Why did I wait? Everything is better with cognition-based superpowers, even if it's antiheroes and supervillains all the way down. Bonus points for [SPOILER] and [SPOILER], and where is the next book?!

The eponymous heroine of Atlanta Burns (Chuck Wendig) starts the book with the reputation "used a shotgun to castrate a guy trying to rape her", which gives other semi-sane teenagers in the gay-bashing, animal-torturing, Nazi-infested, redneck hell of central Pennsylvania an impression of her abilities that she thinks is inflated. But, as it turns out, she does get things done despite self-medicating her PTSD and having to parent her mother. Allegedly the first book of a series, and hope springs.

The City's Son (Tom Pollock) is a YA example of the "secret magical London" trope that is common enough to be its own subgenre these days. I blame Neil Gaiman. Anyway, this is relatively interesting magic and adversaries, but the next books better give the WoC sidekick something better to do than get abused, or ninjas may have to visit the author.

I liked The Burning Dark (Adam Christopher) well enough, but despite being a fairly direct sequel, The Machine Awakes was just not as creepy. The mean-free-path-length of the PCs between horror encounters was too long.

I suppose in many ways The Ancient Magus' Bride vol 1 (Kore Yamazaki) is fairly standard manga of the "young Japanese girl cast among magical foreigners" subgenre, but how often do you see a potential romantic hero with a giant monster skull for a head? Also, the heroine is a lot like the hero of Natsume's Book of Friends, except she doesn't have any relatives who aren't complete bastards. Plus, although it is nominally set in modern England, the Cats of Ulthar!

I picked up The Grendel Affair (Lisa Shearin) from the library because the author is a friend of Kit's, but like the work of other friends of Kit (hi!), it Iz Not So Grate. At least, the multi-page infodump of the heroine's backstory at the very beginning was not well done. The rest was pretty standard urban fantasy action.

Atlanta Burns by Carl (Fri Jun 26 20:31:09 2015)

Have you read Shotgun Gravy novella and Bait Dog novel about Atlanta Burns, by Chuck Wendig?

Re: Atlanta Burns by Trip (Mon Jun 29 11:26:30 2015)

I believe those are the first two sections of the novel.

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Previously in Trip's Life

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