Trip's Life (Recent episodes)
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2020-10-17: "unfair opinions" by marithlizard
2020-07-24: "Re: Martha Wells story" by Trip
2020-07-24: "Martha Wells story" by marithlizard
2020-07-06: "Monday 7/6 what even are dates" by marithlizard
2020-07-09: "Thursday 7/8" by marithlizard
13 October 2019 - Sunday
09-13:00 Princess World!
I knew nothing about this game, but it sounded good and also had room
for another player!
I was a little worried because the GM and all the other players were
women and at least two of them trans (unless there's another way to take
comments like "my parents used to think they only had sons"), but no one
gave me a hairy enough eyeball that I noticed, so I guess it was okay?
Anyway, we had all five of the playbooks from the current beta
version of the game:
- Harvestbell the Fairy Princess
- Princes Prism Sundown, the Skateboard Princess from the Digital Realm
- Captain Princess Ruby, the Pirate Princess
- Princess Anastasia, the immortal Proper Princess
- Xeda, Explorer Princess, the Space Princess, here to appreciate Earth's diverse flora and fauna
I was Captain Princess Ruby, the Pirate Princess! My hat was inherited
from my mother, the Pirate Queen! My coat was made from the hide of the
first sea serpent I slew! My harpoon was never far from my hand! Nobody
could stop me! I had two threads from the Proper Princess, because I
told her where a treasure that had been stolen from her family was
hidden, and two threads from the Skateboard Princess because I saw her
fall when the viruses invaded her digital realm. I gave two threads to
the Fairy Princess because she'd sailed me (once not even as a stowaway)
and one to the Proper Princess because I had stolen something from her
(her heart, though Ruby didn't know it).
The Princess Council had many problems to deal with, including droughts,
hurricanes, necromancers with bone towers, low bandwidth, and agitated
capybara people ("do capybaras even have an 'agitated' setting?"), but when
the Weaver threw in "the Maiden of the Moon is unhappy", we decided to
address that first. The Moon affects tides, so it must affect weather and
such (as was said several times during the game, "that's just science!"),
and that way we could clear up many problems at once. The Space Princess
took us there in her Even Bigger Rocket, but the signs were badly placed or
something, because we ended up on the dark side of the Moon, with a
werewolf who didn't like visitors because he had mild social anxiety. There
was some blustering on both sides but eventually we just parked our flying
saucer somewhere else. We were still on the dark side of the moon, so the
Fairy Princess had to stay close to the Skateboard Princess to get enough
light from her LED jacket to photosynthesize an atmosphere for us. ("That's
From there, we hitched a ride with mouse truckers hauling cheese through
the express tunnel to the light side of the moon, caused a commotion in
the city of lunar animals, argued with an officious ferret cop, stuffed
the Maiden of the Moon's chameleon butler into the Skateboard Princess's
pocket when he wouldn't let us in, and climbed a very tall staircase.
The Proper Princess was lagging behind due to her modest skirts, so Ruby
ran back down and carried her the rest of the way up, completely unaware
of the effect she was having on her. Finally, we talked our way in to
the dark room where the Maiden of the Moon was lurking and found out
that she was hiding because her girlfriend had dumped her.
Montage scene of cheering up the Maiden of the Moon by magic tricks
(Fairy Princess), trash-talking her ex (Skateboard Princess), inducting
her into the Princess Council (Proper Princess), and flirting with her
(Pirate Princess). Hurray!
We only made like half a dozen rolls the whole session, so the mechanics
didn't get a workout, but that was fine. We had a lot of fun anyway. In
fact, I think this game was the most fun of the five I played in. It
wasn't serious or intense, but that's fine. I'm not a serious or intense
kind of person, really. I wonder if I could run Princess World next
End of the con! Even on Sunday, travelling back during the afternoon
was fairly efficient and I got home and fell over in a slimy heap.
So what did I think of Big Bad
Con? I think it was great, and definitely plan to go again next year!
Apparently this year we completely filled the space in the traditional
hotel, and all other spaces are more expensive, so I don't know exactly
what will happen next year, but I am pretty sure the con will still
Next year, if the schedule is the same, I will stay an extra night in
the hotel so that I can game on Sunday afternoon and go home Monday
morning and not die.
I was a little disappointed that the dealer's room didn't have more
than I wanted to buy, but really that's my fault for having already
Carl and the people he knows wanted to go to barbecue every night,
which is not ideal, but there are many other tasty foods within walking
distance of the hotel, and even more within complimentary hotel shuttle
distance, so it need not always be that way.
But what about the games I played? I have thoughts!
World (GM): I have run DW before, and people even enjoyed it, but I
think that I have finally done it somewhat correctly. Map with blanks,
fantastical world, etc. I didn't use fronts/grim portents in these games
because they were so short, and I haven't ever done followers, but the
things I did use I think I got right. Except ranges in combat, maybe. Also,
using miniatures or meeples to illustrate battles is good.
Likelihood of my running this game again next year: high.
DIE: I'm sure having to pack the
entire frame story and campaign into one four-hour con slot did not show
this game to its best advantage, but I'm not as excited about this game
as I thought I would be. Maybe it's that I never experienced a
long-running campaign world until I got to college and I'm still gaming
with some of those people, so I don't have the feels for the getting
together again after many years. Maybe it's that I haven't watched all
46 seasons of Arrested Development or otherwise immersed
myself in media where all the plot and humor comes from every character
being terrible and dysfunctional. Or maybe I just don't know how to make
a realistic character. Whatever the case, I didn't get into the
emotional drama as much as other people seemed to. I'm also dubious
about the system, since it seems to result in everyone being mortally
wounded multiple times per battle, or maybe one person being untouched.
Likelihood of my playing this game in short form again: low.
Likelihood of my playing this game properly: moderate.
Apparently I can't play kids. Or, again, maybe I just can't make
realistic characters. I didn't have any great ideas for scenes, and I
didn't get picked for many scenes because my character didn't have
Likelihood of my playing this game again: I mean, I would if someone
This game only tells one story, but it does it well. I tried to be
clever with the junk magic and ended up too abstract to ever come up
with good descriptions, but I will know better next time.
Likelihood of my playing this game again: high.
about elves and oppression! And although it's not
Forged in the
Dark, it's clearly a near cousin. The setting might be a little too
well defined, but I'm sure it would be fine to pick and choose from the
huge pile of fantastic weirdness rather than making everyone memorize
all of it.
Likelihood of my playing this game again: high.
This game is the general case of
She-Ra, yet somehow
I did not play Catra! I did play a pirate, though, so that was good.
There are only five playbooks right now, but there are more on the creator's
Patreon, and he plans to
Kickstart an expanded version with art and stuff next spring.
Likelihood of my playing this game again: high.
Likelihood of my running this game next year: high.
The Good Place 4.3:
Are things going well? But then... OMINOUS FINAL SCENE!
Shirobako 1: Okay,
so making anime involves a lot of running around. I knew that. The drag
races are a surprise, though.
Make a comment!
12 October 2019 - Saturday
World, run by same bozo as yesterday!
Again one person just never showed up, but Liralen and Jet (wait,
when did Jet become a grownup? what even is time?) made it, along with a
couple of people I didn't previously know.
- Dr Theward Savage, MD (Xander), British imperialist barbarian, born on
safari and eager to publish while the wogs perish.
- Prof Jadaia (Liralen), the wizard who invented the Astral
Resonance Tuner for SCIENCE!
- Allestra (Jet), moon-worshipping paladin.
- Trixie (Andy), halfling thief determined to get rich selling moon rocks.
It was interesting to see how many of the same choices the completely
disjoint sets of players made: having the wizard in the group, the ART being a massive installation in the
wizard's tower that made a portal,
going to the Moon to rescue someone (in this case, a grad student who
had from the locked Astral Tuning lab overnight), heading for Copernicus
(although this time, they said that the crater wasn't there before they
first tested the ART and now it was locked to that spot).
I had better pacing this time, and just had the Lunars kidnap the
wizard and try to use telepathy crystal arrays on her to open
communications, which turned out to be the right approach with this
group. They were all for talking with the locals and explaining the
benefits of being colonized. Dr Savage and Allestra even let the Lunars'
minds grow together with theirs, which certainly wouldn't ever cause
problems. ("This system of exchanging notional tokens for goods and
services seems like it would inevitably lead to perverse incentives.")
But they didn't get distracted (much) from trying to rescue the grad
student from the clutches of the Reassembled. This time I remembered to
mention the poison from the Reassembled, and that was enough to have Dr
Savage cutting open Allestra's chest and pressing her lungs to the
crystal ground while Prof Jadaia poured on their entire supply of
healing potions. I didn't even have to have any mechanical effects!
Fortunately, instead of waiting to be rescued, Trixie was busy luring
her captors into a landslide-based trap.
The grad student had to be killed, unfortunately, but at least then
he was accounted for. The PCs went back to tell the Lunars about what
happened instead of immediately running for the portal, so I had them
finally get to the portal only to find it being occupied and fortified
by the Reassembled. Roll credits!
This time we did use some of my office supplies, although not the
easel pad, and many of the cider donuts were eaten, so that was good. When
we needed to show what was going on, Trixie's player broke out some
little wooden meeples, which was brilliant. I need to get some of
13-14:00 Dealer's room, picked up only a few things
this time, but did get my copy of BFF
from the Kickstarter all those ages ago.
Royal Blood is a Tarot-based magical heist game. The PCs are Royals,
half-human and half-idea, but wanting to be more, and this is the one
night that one of the Major Arcana is vulnerable to having their power
stolen. You have from sunset to sunrise (plus flashbacks) to displace
them from the Tarot.
You can redraw, but we all took what the deck gave us for
- Effervesence, "Ves" (Kona), Prince of Cups, icy manipulator.
- Helen (me), King of Cups, passionate seductress.
- Lady Chaos (Pedro), Queen of Wands, ass-kicker.
- Knight of the Mountain (Jet), Knight of Wands, action hero, the least magical of us and (as it turned out) the only one with a moral compass
We also took the first draw for our target, the Star. Effortless
mastery, glamour, glory, we hates them! We hates them so much! (Also we
determined a reason why each of us hated the specifically, like dissing
Lady Chaos's beloved dive bar.) Then the GM drew for the four obstacles
that we would have to overcome before we could confront the Star
directly: a skilled minion (the best PA in the world), a loyal
bodyguard, vast wealth (embodied in the best security team in the
world), and a rival band of Royals also trying to steal the Star's
power (which we decided was the Princesses of the four suits).
The way Royal Blood works is that you apportion N×3 tokens among
the four obstacles, and then have to go back and remove them, so you get to
pick which one(s) you want to see most of in play. Some instinct toward
symmetry made us put three on each, but really we should have put most of
them on the Four Princesses, because what's more interesting than Carl
NPCs? But it worked out in the end, because the Princesses were going after
the Star for the hell of it, and were content to try again later. (That
will be next year, when Carl does the Four Princess Run as his Royal Blood
game for BBC 2020.) We found out what kind of person Helen was when she was
willing to hospitalize an innocent bystander to get the Star's PA out of
the way, but the Knight of the Mountain wasn't willing to shoot someone in
the head, which is a definite moral victory.
It came right down to the wire (we got some good draws at the very
end, and the next few cards after that were... not so good), but the
Star went down, and the Burning Heart replaced them in every Tarot deck
in the world.
That was pretty intense, even though we had very little Tarot lore
among the five of us. I would play Royal Blood again, if I had serious
gamers and a 4-5 hour slot.
18-20:00 Apparently barbecue is the theme for this
year's BigBadCon, or maybe just this year's Carl, because we went to
house special is "burnt ends" which are not actually burnt but like
twice-spiced and twice-barbecued brisket cubes, and they aren't always
available, so I felt that I should have them even though I normally
eschew mammal meat. My mouth liked them a lot, but later my stomach was
sad that I had not packed antacid.
20:00 Pokemon Go tried to make me late, but couldn't
quite! I got into
a game I own but have never played. It is about elves and oppression:
the PCs are drow living in a fantastical mile-tall city which has been
conquered by the "high elves" with their creepy masks and draconian
cruelty and daylight gods, and are all members of a revolutionary/occult
cell that worships one of the illegal aspects of the drow triple goddess
and plots the overthrow of the oppressive aelfir.
I don't remember any of the names, but this pregen cell had
- Idol: enchanting art (ours was a dancer), with the power to start a party anywhere.
- Firebrand: full-time revolutionary soapboxer and fighter against The Aelfir.
- Knight of the North Docks: more of a knight-themed gangster with an affinity for pubs, but also legally entitled to carry (if not use) a big honking lance.
- Inksmith - detective pulp writer, with the occult ability to make reality more like pulp novels.
- Mask: skilled at passing in masked aelfir society, and disguise in general.
- Azurite: priest of wealth and commerce.
Our assigment from our handler was to steal something from a
particular aelfir and make sure she never reported it stolen to anyone.
In theory we could have done something clever to deal with the second
requirement, but Jenora Ride-The-White-Lotus was busy "improving" the
traditional drow art of blood opera by murdering drow on stage, so we
were all fine with treating it as a straight hit. We came up with a
multi-pronged plan that used everyone's talents whether needed or not,
and somehow it worked. The Mask got everyone lots of bonuses, the Azurite procured a duplicate of the object,
the Idol made the switch and also got everyone in the theater sloshed,
the Knight (me) got cast as someone in the climactic battle, the Firebrand
turned off the lights at the crucial moment so a tragic accident could
happen, and the Inksmith had a visit with the costar our target had
recently dumped, leaving behind a gun that the costar used to shoot the
target dead (and a good thing too, we would have had a lot of trouble
taking her down on our own, stupid aelfir). Despite the complexity of
the plan, we finished by 23:00, which none of the players were really
With pregen characters and a short session, we didn't get into even a
fraction of the occult weirdness that is Spire.
23-24:00 Getting to bed early is not a terrible
thing, even if it seems like a waste of precious con hours. I didn't
have anything scheduled for tomorrow afternoon because everything was
full, but now there's an opening in a
She-Ra game (using
which I don't know but could learn). It's very tempting, but according
to Google, if I try leaving Walnut Creek after 18:00, I will end up
having to walk home from the San Jose train station carrying all my
stuff in the middle of the night and probably die, so apparently I
should just go home after the morning gaming. Next year, I will stay
over Sunday night and go home Monday morning, which will mean both an
extra game and much nicer travel.
Make a comment!
11 October 2019 - Friday
World, run by some bozo!
One person didn't show, but it's not like they came in, saw what was
happening, and left, so whatever. Life happens. The fewer people to
witness my shame, the better, right?
Our PCs were
- Fender Fink, a very sketchy thief with an intermittent accent who finds
it advisable to get out of town again.
- Ignis, an enby immolator who has never burned a moon.
- Gerda, a cleric of the moon goddress Lunificence, who rules over
mysteries and secret knowledge, along as theological advisor. She
believes that the Moon is made of crystallized hopes and prayers.
- Halwyn, a wizard with a tragic moon-related past. It
turned out that all Halwyn's wizard colleagues had disappeared at some
point in the past while researching moon magic, and ever since then he
had been burned by moonlight. Determined to face his nemesis head-on,
and maybe rescue his old teachers and friends, he obsessed over
reaching the Moon until finally the Astral Resonance Tuner was
When I showed them an unlabeled map of the Moon and asked where they wanted to
end up, they agreed unanimously that Copernicus crater was it. (Gerda
said it was a meeting place for astral travellers.) Ignis and Halwyr
powered up the portal, and through they went!
Naturally I worried about not having prepared enough, and also about
having prepared too much, but it turns out that for a four-hour con run,
my collection of images and fragments about the Moon and its inhabitants
was just about right. I was able to give enough description of the
mountains of white crystals and craters full of mirrored liquid and
floating disks with tentacles underneath that the PCs could get
traction and start causing trouble almost immediately, and once they made
contact with the Lunars, I was able to provide ominous hints about the
Red Mind that came crashing down from the sky and its habit of remaking
people into violent monsters. I hadn't consciously planned it, but
having strange creatures or maybe even a whole world
within/through/virtualized on the crystals gave me a good excuse for
what I had planned not matching what the moon-worshipping PC believed
should be there.
I had been hoping to have a confrontation
with the Red Mind, but there just was not enough time, so we had to make
confronting Halwyr's mentor (as possessed by the Red Mind) the climax. I
did waste some time having them taste the sand trying to communicate
with the first Lunar, but even without that I don't think there would
have been time.
Other mistakes were made! I vastly overestimated the amount of
munchies a gaming table can eat, so I had to take almost all of them
back. BigBadCon provided character name/pronoun tents so I didn't need
the index cards I brought all the way from San Jose, or indeed any of
the office supplies, including the big easel pad that was such a pain to
transport. Someone took photos of us. But overall it was not as
traumatic as it could have been.
13-14:00 Decompressed in my room. Ate leftover donuts.
DIE is complicated because you have to make (terrible, or at least
dysfunctional) people who are gamers, and also the characters they will
play. We ended up with:
- Bear (Jon), screenwriter about to launch the hot new show on Disney+, playing Tristan the Godbinder
- Roger (Aaron), prescription drug abuser, playing Halfar the Neo
- Fletcher (John), seedy private eye, playing Fletch the Trust Knight
- Brock (me), whose football and schooling ended up going nowhere, playing Caerleon the Fool
- April (Carl), Fletcher's little sister, playing May the Master
Once, all of them played in the Dragonia campaign, run by Bear, where
dragons were kings and they were the loyal knights of
King Thelonius when he was a runt trying to gain his throne, but then
high school ended and life ensued (with a lot of sordid adultery and
overmedication and general failure). Now Bear is about to have the
premiere of the show he has developed, Dragonia, and April
has gotten everyone back together for one last session. It's using the
game that those kids from England were playing when they vanished, but
what gamer wouldn't go for that?
Magic dice! Now everyone is in Dragonia, being attacked by horrible
dragon-monsters! Fortunately everyone gets their dice and powers before
being killed, although almost everyone goes to the "will die at end of
scene" level of damage at some point. Once that gets sorted out, Tristan
learn form their powers that the world will end in 42 hours unless all surviving people
from Earth unanimously agree to either stay in Dragonia forever or
return to Earth. May has hidden out in a forbidden cave at least two
days' travel away, but Halfar can overclock his teleporter with all the
rest of the fair gold they got from the first fight.
Volcanic labyrinth, I roll about a million dice using the Fool's
special power and Brock leads them right to May, there's some combat
with dragon guards and the wicked vizier, and then they have to talk
down May. All of Dragonia was her ideas, Bear just appropriated them to
run the game and then passed them all off as his own to make the TV
show, and she is understandably resentful. Plus, Dragonia is awesome!
Brock is good with staying, since his life is a wreck, but Roger and
Bear have children back on Earth, and Brock is not okay with killing May
or anyone else in order to stay. Finally Bear offers April the co-creator
credit that she always deserved, and she agrees to return to Earth.
DIE is supposed to play out over at least a few sessions, so one con
timeslot wasn't enough for the full experience, but I think we got the
idea. More time for people's motivations to drive them to murder would
help a lot.
18-20:00 Walked with Carl and Liralen and a bunch of
people Carl knows to Kinder's, which
fortunately had barbecue chicken as well as other kinds of meat.
20-00:00 BFF, run by one of the creators!
BFF is a very tactile game, with lots of heavy cardboard pieces. You
get to pick one of about twenty standees to be your character, and then
put charms on your charm bracelet to signify things that someone likes
about your character. It is also very heartwarming, and doesn't even
have a concept of failure: everyone takes turns framing scenes at some
location within the larger place/situation (summer camp, the mall, etc)
with whatever other characters they like, playing a card with a goal
like "ask about a crush" or "make a promise together", and then RPing
the scene until it's done. Every larger location ("hangout") has some
rule for determining when you have to stop setting scenes there, then
you move on to the next. When you feel like stopping, you're done.
All of the players were adult guys, so I feel like we were probably
missing something, but I think we had fun anyway. We did Summer Camp
(before every scene, choose to advance the day marker until you run out
of days at camp), sleepover in Tiffy's Room (move the decibel meter up or down
depending on how noisy you think you were in the scene, until Tiffy's
parents come and make you go to sleep), and Lulu's Basement (roll 1d6 to
find out what Lulu's dad is doing during this scene, and if you roll
something he already did, he makes you all go home). I was playing
Tiffy, the girl in an eggplant costume, so I was quite surprised to find
out that her room had a telescope, a shrine to Wandy (apparently some
kind of pop star?), and cereal dispensers loaded with strange things from
Japan. Someone managed to poison herself with shrimp chip cereal and
I think this game might be too heartwarming for me, but I'm glad I
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10 October 2019 - Thursday
HAPPY HAPPY MARITH-DAY!!
Despite sleeping in stupidly again, I did make it to the T-Mobile to
finish getting my number transferred. (It finally worked when we
inconvenienced a manager on their side.) Then I hustled over to Office
Despot to get all the character sheets and basic move sheets printed on
nice cardstock and buy lots of pens and pencils and markers and index
cards and easel pads Just In Case and made it home to finish packing and
set out for Walnut Creek.
Four transfers and a hike later, I made it to
Big Bad Con, where I found and then
promptly lost Liralen.
I never had the gumption to pick a random person and say hi, even
though it would probably have been fine, so I ended up watching
the boffer combat lessons for a while until someone who didn't have a
sparring partner pulled me in. No one cared that I hadn't signed up! It
was fun, but I am super-terrible at all forms of melee combat, so I
could only reliably beat the little girl.
Tomorrow I have to run
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