Trip's Brain-Sucking Web Site

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Trip's Life (Recent episodes)

5 Most Recent Comments
2014-04-13:  "Re: Oh yes" by Trip
2014-04-12:  "The Crushing Burden of Duck Ballet" by Trip
2014-04-12:  "Re: Princess Tutu" by marith
2014-04-13:  "Oh yes" by Avalon
2014-03-23:  "Re: Party!" by Trip

19 April 2014 - Saturday

Still no brain.

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18 April 2014 - Friday

Tiny brain. Tinier than the walnut brain of a cat.

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17 April 2014 - Thursday

Heartbleed excitement continues, but it's okay because I have Avalonhugs.


Unwrapped Sky (Rjurik Davidson) is far future New Weird. It feels very much like Numenera, actually, with the vast underground structures full of incomprehensible machinery and the strange ancient creatures. Also, minotaurs and labor disputes.

The excuse used by Hexcommunicated (Rafael Chandler) is that being transformed into a fake vampire or werewolf causes much less SAN loss than having your body stuffed with machinery until you are an inhuman monstrosity, even if medically the two are almost indistinguishable. Add international intrigue and murder on various scales, and fling at a concrete wall, very fast.

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16 April 2014 - Wednesday

More Heartbleed excitement. We got the biggest customer who screamed the loudest the early version of the fix, which they managed to install mostly on their own with only light casualties, so I guess we're moving forward.


The final version of Inverse World is out in PDF form, available at DriveThruRPG! (The physical version will be a bit longer, apparently.)

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15 April 2014 - Tuesday

Oh look, customers are all flipping out about Heartbleed. It's almost as though they think their data has some value.


Argh, I left work early to get to gaming at Ken's, and then Ken called me to say that everyone else who didn't already live there had cancelled. No gaming for us! Only Zuul!

Maybe next week? Or maybe trying to game with grownups is just futile.

They have failed us! To the crocodile pit with them!


The Pillars of Hercules (David Constantine) starts off as leverpunk AH, with a multi-way war in which Macedonia is at least two sides, but then spirals out of control in several directions at once. I really did not expect it to go where it ended up, although possibly I should have.

Ruins (Dan Wells) is the end(?) of the "Partials" sequence, in which the very few remaining wild-type humans and very few remaining modified humans manage to not drag each other down, barely. I still liked the John Cleaver books better.

Jadepunk: Tales From Kausao City is jade-powered steampunk in an enormously corrupt colonial metropolis, using Fate Core. It seems like it should be a good idea, but something about it leaves me flat. Not enough evocation in the background, I guess.

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14 April 2014 - Monday

Oh look, customers are all broken.


Twelve paws!

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13 April 2014 - Sunday

For some strange reason, Avalon seems to still like me.


Empire State (Adam Christopher) is a rollicking tale of superheroes, supervillains, alternate dimensions, and conspiracies within conspiracies. Also, robots.

Oh yes by Avalon (Mon Apr 21 17:44:57 2014)

I still like you, and I /like-like/ you. =)

Re: Oh yes by Trip (Tue Apr 22 08:41:42 2014)

BLUSH!

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12 April 2014 - Saturday

Blblblblblblbl.

  • Princess Tutu 3: Ayse is still enjoying this, so Marith is happy.
  • Slayers Revolution 6-7: I hope they didn't get charged too much for that cruise.
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 9: And Jedi think they're cool because they can TK their weapon into their hand. Pikers!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 42-44: I am totally down with Envy getting smacked, but I don't have much hope that it will last.

The Teratic Tome is for OSR games, but ones that take the horror element seriously. Some of these monsters are stand-up opponents, but a lot are things that creep into a city and surreptitiously do horrible things to people who have committed a particular sin, and some are the kind where the earth quakes and calves are born with two heads in the days before they arrive.

Re: Princess Tutu by marith (Mon Apr 21 22:08:29 2014)

I am happy because it is still awesome on second viewing and _I_ am enjoying it (though of course I am also pleased that Ayse is enjoying it too, and that you and Dave at least do not appear to be suffering under the crushing burden of animated duck ballet).

The Crushing Burden of Duck Ballet by Trip (Tue Apr 22 08:41:02 2014)

It's okay, ducks have hollow bones. :)

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11 April 2014 - Friday

Too sleepy to brain.


Hillfolk is built on Robin D Law's DramaSystem, which is a fairly minimal system built on the premise that proper stories need dramatic beats, not just procedural ones (see Hamlet's Hit Points). There is a rudimentary system for doing things, but mostly, you need to make a character who a) has two dramatic poles to oscillate between (principle vs expediency, etc), and b) wants something emotional (love, respect, punishment, etc, etc) from two of the other PCs that they don't want to give. There is a system of tokens to encourage people to give a little, but mostly the PCs are just supposed to chew on each other, with the GM there to provide external threats to ramp up the tension.

That's the first few pages, plus an Iron Age Eastern-Med setting with no magic. The bulk of the book is a couple of dozen alternate settings (by other people) in which drama could occur once a group has played in the default setting enough to overcome their desire for procedural scenes. These range from professional wrestling to a gang of robots living under the thumb of a frustrated transcendence in the post-biological future of Earth.

I'm not sure about DramaSystem itself, but the idea of requiring every PC to want something from another PC seems like it would make party dynamics more exciting in most games.


{Quarter, Half, Full, Double, Captain's, Owner's} Share (Nathan Lowell) are a series of direct-to-videoebook novels about the career of a young spacer in a fairly low-tech interstellar future (gravitics, jump drive, autodocs, and not much else), from orphaned kitchen mook to expert spacer who gets all the chicks with his tailored clothes to owner of a starship. There is surprisingly little violence in them for space adventure, even on the one ship where a lot more would have been justified. The main character is engaging, but I think the author cheated to make him look smarter. Either that, or it's a future in which all the lessons of software engineering have been lost. Also, I am deeply unsure about the economics as portrayed, but that is true for all tramp-freighter-in-space settings. But the handling of the gravity slingshot maneuver was good.

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10 April 2014 - Thursday

More interviews, also ¾ unproductive. But I escaped the office early so I could spend some time with Avalon before being sucked into the pits of recruiting.

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9 April 2014 - Wednesday

Up until 98264589 o'clock interviewing guys in India, of which at least ¾ were unworthy.

Maybe I should have let the cats help more.


Judge vol 1 (Yoshiki Tonogai) is deathtrap psychological horror: a bunch of random bozos are kidnapped and locked up, while mysterious messages say that if they can't agree on one person to sacrifice, they all get the chop.

Is The Waking Engine (David Edison) New Weird? It is certainly Infinite City (examples: Perdido Street Station, Rats and Gargoyles, Thunderer, although they are not literally infinite), which I think is pretty much always a subgenre of New Weird. Anyway, it has death and shamanism and liches in skyscrapers and pilots in barrels and transformations and depraved aristocrats with weapons from the dawn of time.

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8 April 2014 - Tuesday

So far the customers are not as horrible this week, but on the other hand, I have more late-night interviews scheduled for tomorrow.


The Alchemist's Revenge (Peter Cakebread) is set in the world of Clockwork & Chivalry, with Puritans in clockwork tanks vs Royalist mages alchemists, turning all England into a war zone with both opportunities and obstacles for avenging wrongful deaths.

Scarlet Heroes is an OSR game, but with some interesting differences. It is intended for one player and one GM (take that, fiendish schedule) to play through OD&D or AD&D modules. PCs have the same hit points, but monsters take damage directly to hit dice; the same kind of damage dice are used but they are read very differently: 1 => 0, 2-5 => 1, 6-9 => 2, 10+ => 4. This adds up to monster hit points and all damage being reduced by a factor of about five, so that the one PC takes as much killing as the whole party of five would in regular D&D. The PC has one die of damage that can be freely inflicted on anyone of equal or lower level each round, so hordes of mooks melt away like butter. Finally, the PC can take two dice of damage (bigger dice each time) to either escape certain doom, or make it past something they don't have the skills for by complete coincidence. (The skill system is freeform backgrounds, very much like 13th Age's and not very old-school. It also rolled on 2d8, like saves, instead of 1d20 like attacks, I guess to avoid accusations of having a la-di-dah system instead of rules.)

The setting is mostly Asian, with some vikings and dwarves and assorted others who also got driven into Campaign Archipelago tucked into the corners, and the locals (who got tagged with unflattering names like "orc" and "goblin" but are pretty much human) in the areas no one with metal weapons wants. The bestiary is all obscure Asian monsters too, since you can get popular monsters from existing material.


Twelve paws!

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7 April 2014 - Monday

Workingu, workingu, la la la.


Angelfall and World After (Susan Ee) entertain me because not only is it set in places I know, or at least have seen, but I recognize the self-defense moves the protagonist uses as being from IMPACT. Those angels are pretty sketchy as divine beings, though. Maybe the third book will explain some of that.

Twelve paws!

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6 April 2014 - Sunday

How do we play this game again?

Oh yah, I make up stuff to annoy the PCs! However, in the end, they managed to capture one catgirl ninja and fight the others to a draw long enough to get her to the Empress and get rid of the -2 penalty on all other activities that no one ever remembered to inflict on them. Then we tried to remember what we were doing in Jeremy's adventure, which was both ages ago for the players and out of chronological order for the PCs. We got it to a place where we could leave it until the current time, and then subjected Hyacinthe to a visit to the place where her entire family was brutally massacred by plant monsters. There was still a clue there, although it is pretty ambiguous. We are pretty sure something freaky was going on when Hyacinthe's ancestress was sacrificing PoWs and rhubarb monsters to make magic weapons. Even more freaky, I mean.


Okko vol 1 (Hub) is a French comic about about a ronin and his strange companions (a PC group if I ever saw one) in not-Japan, vs pirates and vampires and stuff. It is totally a Legend of the Five Rings adventure.

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5 April 2014 - Saturday

I continue to be not on call, but also lazy.

Not too lazy to go to Monkeycat Towers for friendship and pizza, however!

  • Princess Tutu 1-2: Ballet battle, Duck vs Anteaterina!
  • Slayers Revolution 5: Finally we learn some about Pokota. And [SPOILER] is back!
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 41: Kimblee's motto seems to be "I can always get new henchmen".
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 7-8: Villainous dialog!

Zenn Scarlett and Under Nameless Stars (Christian Schoon) are YA space adventure with alien animals, but I think the animals fail on a) cube-square law (yes, even in Mars gravity), and b) nothing makes sense in biology except in light of evolution. These are very traditional SF-biology failings, but they still sadden me.


Twelve paws!

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4 April 2014 - Friday

I'm not on call any more! Yay!

But, Avalon is dealing with Impending Family Drama, so no date tonight. I will have to go blblblbl and read stuff and pet cats.


Sarah Monette's "Doctrine of Labyrinths" series was not received as well as it should have been by the Philistinate, so she had to publish The Goblin Emperor as Katherine Addison. Perhaps this time she will get her proper due, because this book is pretty good. It's not perfect — some of the antagonists are gratuitously (although not unrealistically) awful — but I liked most of the characters and strongly approve of the protagonist's attempts to not suck despite being an untrained hereditary ruler.

Although this book is fantasy, the genre elements are not at all central. All the important characters in the book are elves, goblins, or hybrids, but they are pretty human except for including mobile ears in their body language. Likewise, although there are steampunk elements (airships, pneumatic mail tubes) and magic, they're almost entirely background and the story would probably work almost as well without them. On the other hand, the secondary world elements (language, social structure) are very nicely done, so it's not like it could have been historical fiction.


Hurray, Shadow Unit vol 14 (Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Leah Bobet, Will Shetterly) is out! Oh the doom! But it would nice if there were a little more development of WTF is going on.


Carl recommended Norse Code (Greg van Eeekhout), but it turns out I had read it before, I just didn't remember the name. It seems suitably bleak in some ways, but I still like the Pitts books better for modern Norse myth.


Dictatorial Grimoire (Ayumi Kanou) ends with volume 3, and not really that much doom. It may have been anticlimactic, but "Yah, so?" was clearly the correct answer to Cinderella's big reveal.

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3 April 2014 - Thursday

I could not escape early today because there was a meeting right up until the end, but at least I escaped from that without too many action items.


Dinocalypse Now (Chuck Wendig) is one of the tie-in novels Evil Hat put out for Spirit of the Century. It is okay but kind of over the top. Maybe I don't actually have the pulp sensibility after all.

A fiction book with no specfic elements? Who am I, and what have I done with Trip?! Well, wherever I stashed him, I used the time to read Panic (Lauren Oliver), which is about desperate teenagers behaving in self-destructive ways for arguably good (or at least optimistic) reasons, which they wouldn't have to do if the adults around them didn't suck.

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2 April 2014 - Wednesday

I was here for thirteen hours yesterday, so when the Horrible Customer became quiet I unilaterally figured the stock price could survive my leaving after only eight hours today, to do all the stuff I would have done yesterday. Like Avalon! And also returnng library books and eating pizza and petting cats.


Princeless vol 1 (Jeremy Whitley, M Goodwin) is not terribly original, but I am very much in favor of princesses rescuing themselves and even being sensibly clad. I'm not sure about that sidekick, though.

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1 April 2014 - Tuesday

Date with hot internet girlfriend: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Getting library books back on time: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Dinner: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.

Going to bed on time: FAIL, due to Horrible Customer.


The main characters of Rat Queens vol 1 (Kurtis J Wiebe, Roc Upchurch) are totally what Amazon Quartet of Justice would have become without the moral compass of Sophia.

Volume 3 of Saga (Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples) needs more weirdness, but at least they found a way to bring back the spider-monster.


4 right paws + 4 orange paws + 4 left paws + 4 white paws + 4 front paws + 4 brown paws + 4 back paws = 12 adorable paws!

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31 March 2014 - Monday

Spent all day on Webex with the same horrible customer, fixing things but somehow never making them happy.

Also, no Avalon for me.


The 13th Age version of the Midgard Bestiary is not quite as inspiring as the actual 13th Age bestiary, but it's not bad. The monsters have a lot of setting stuck to them, but it's easy to soak that off and repaint.

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30 March 2014 - Sunday

I got called at 1:30 and again at about 3:00 for more work stuff, which did not work as well as it might have because my RSA token was still at Monkeycat Towers. I managed to get down there and back and eat lunch before the horrible customer returned again (horribly).

Horrible, horrible customer.

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29 March 2014 - Saturday

I got called for work just as I was trying to head out into the pouring rain to get lunch and go to Monkeycat Towers, but it was an easy question and did not delay me excessively.

Today, Birthday Dinner II: Sushi Boogaloo, now with added Dave and Ja Baby! Om nom nom nom nom.

Work kindly (though of course inadvertantly) waited until we were almost done with dinner to call me and make me spend an hour and a half trying to mollify Big Customer X while everyone failed to watch anime until finally I told them to give up on me.

  • Slayers Revolution 3-4: I only saw part of 4, but so far it doesn't seem like there has been any new information about Prehensile-Ears Plushie. A magic-user in a cardboard box makes a pretty good substitute for a magic tank, though.
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood 39-40: Making deals with things in bottles is always a good plan!
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 6: Yes, all Flame Hazes are like that.

The Seven Deadly Sins vol 1 (Nakaba Suzuki) is pretty standard overpowered shonen fantasy, with giant pig and cleavage (not together).

Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World (Martha Wells) are fantasy/steampunk YA adventure in exotic locations. They don't push the bounds of the genre, but are fun. In fact, while reading the end of the second one, I missed my stop on the last train of the night and had to ride the bus back from California Avenue like an idiot.

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28 March 2014 - Friday

I escaped work early today, but it doesn't matter because I'm on call. Also Avalon is busy.


I finished the third disc of Strawberry Panic. Love triangles everywhere! And no, Yaya does not just admire Hikari and want to be her friend. (If she did, she would remember to kiss with her mouth and not with her hands.)


The Wyld Hunt (Gunnar Roxen) is more or less cyberpunk, although it has psionics, and apparently magic and living gods (which might be psionics, or maybe the psionics is magic), along with the last two honest cops in Neo-London. However, it is also cheesy and poorly edited, because "first published as an Amazon ebook" is this decade's "direct to video".

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27 March 2014 - Thursday

No interviews tonight, but Big Customer X's problem kept me at work forever, and then once I finally got home, I had to do more work until it was after bedtime again.

Marmalade did not try to eat my headset this time.


My hardcopy of Go Get a Roomie! (Chloé C) finally came in, so I read it. It is still very cute.

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26 March 2014 - Wednesday

More late-night interviews, with worse candidates, but at least this time I wasn't trying to do laundry at the same time.

Marmalade, do not eat my headset!


Sadly, Razor's Edge (Martha Wells) is an official Star Wars novel, so we do not get to see Princess Leia jump the butch Twi'lek pirate. But she totally should have.

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25 March 2014 - Tuesday

No bonus after-hours work today, just the usual work. But no Avalons. Only cats and Strawberry Panic.


Dragon Venom (Lawrence Watt-Evans) wraps up the trilogy neatly, but it's so neat that I have to wonder how that system came to be. Also, it cries out for a fourth book where people go, "Holy crap, how can we get back to the days of ravening dragons of death?"

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24 March 2014 - Monday

Ack, where did this Monday come from? And why does it have extra bonus interviews from 20:00 to 23:00? Also, why was only one of the four people we interviewed even slightly acceptable? Maybe I should see if Marmalade can eat their Internet connections so they never bother us again.


Since Darkness is a published author, I figured I should read some of her books. Matchbox Girls and Infinity Key were pretty good! And so, so full of doom.

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This file was last modified by trip@idiom.com.