Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 October 2011 - Monday

Work: Yep, it's Monday all right. With extra bonus Monday in the evening.

Food: Ken made pork and vegetable stir-fry (there's probably a technical name for it) and pot stickers. We like Ken.

Random Encounters: Ayse and Ken live in a neighborhood with houses and people, which means trick-or-treaters. Sometimes they were small kids in cute costumes, sometimes they were surly teenages, and once they were Phillip (dad of Ja Baby's best friend) who sacrificed himself to Dave and Ken on the altar of Race for the Galaxy.

Gaming: None for me. Work instead.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: At 5:30, even Stormwind is pretty empty. And this time, the last chance to get a loot-filled pumpkin this year, the Headless Horseman coughed up one with something good in it! But it was the same thing unique item Zmorcia got the first time she killed him.

I should look up the Thanksgiving quests.

Cats: Twelve paws!

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30 October 2011 - Sunday

Work: Argh, customers!

Textual Entertainments: I generally like Neal Asher's books okay, so how could I not read one titled The Parasite? Sadly, it was not so great, probably because it's pretty old (1996) — definitely before anyone explained to him about antiphotons.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Most disappointing pumpkin yet! Zmorcia and E got the "get zapped by all seven wands" achievement, but there is no chance that Zmo will complete all the quests to get the title. Maybe next year.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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29 October 2011 - Saturday

Food: For Ayse-Day (observed), we made Iberia give us piles of tapas. However, they failed to believe that any party would actually want ten orders of bacon-wrapped dates and instead gave us ten dates. The fiends!

Random Encounters: Okay, not very random, but many people were at Ayse & Ken's who are rarely there when I am there: Susan, Cat, Earl, and Ayse's Austrian friend Verena (mom of Ja Baby's best friend). There was conversation.

Textual Entertainments: Rocket Girls (Housuke Nojiri) is pretty silly, but flying into space is good, and cute girls are good.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: That would be better than nothing, if Zmorcia didn't already have a broom of flying. Stupid Headless Hoseweasel!

Cats: It is cool enough that Marmalade comes and sleeps on my arm sometimes, which is adorable but also heavy. But adorable!

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28 October 2011 - Friday

Work: Friday at last!

Gaming: Donjon (Clinton R Nixon and Zak Arntson) is an indie dungeon-crawling game with strong player input based on the notion that if the elf makes his roll to detect secret doors, there should damn well be a secret door there. It is not new, but I was motivated to reread it because people have been frowning at D&D4 beyond the early paragon tier. I'm not sure it would be a good idea to switch, but I'm not sure it would be a bad idea either.

Textual Educations: In Incognito, David Eagleman proposes that consciousness does have a function in coordination and long-range planning, but the main point of the book is that most of what your brain does neither is or should be consciously acessible. This is not news to people who read about brains, but should definitely be more widely known.

Besides that, Eagleman's major points seem to be that being made of a bunch of overlapping, competing modules is how the brain works and is therefore what AI researchers should be trying to copy; and that the criminal justice system needs to be completely overhauled to get rid of the hopelessly fuzzy notion of "blameworthiness" and focus on how to help each criminal not recidivate, whether that involves therapy, imprisonment, or something else.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Additional lack of ph4t-l3wt-filled pumpkins. Bah!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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27 October 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: Mastiff, the third "Beka Cooper" book (Tamora Pierce),is a reasonable end to the trilogy. It would, indeed, be hard to top that. (I'm not convinced by the romance subplot, but what do I know?)

Across the Great Barrier is the second in Patricia C Wrede's series about a girl in a magic-based American frontier, exploring across the magic barrier Franklin and Jefferson conjured along the Mississippi river to keep the saber-teeth, sphinxes, and worse things at bay.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Oh, Loot-Filled Pumpkin, why do you contain only disappointment and broken dreams?

Cats: The wobbly chair back was higher than the chair seat, but still may not have been a good tactical choice for Aimee.

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26 October 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Check. Not too horrible, except for one customer whose cluster catches on fire every morning. I'm sure they must be doing something unusual to cause it, but it's not apparent what.

Textual Educations: A Planet of Viruses (Carl Zimmer) is a pretty small book, which is too bad because there is obviously a lot to say about viruses. I did not even know about the ginormous quasi-bacterial freakishness that is mimivirus!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia now has the Str/Sta ring of the Headless Horseman, which she also can't use until next level. She did the fight a couple more times to show solidarity with Ken's characters, but possibly shouldn't, since the good loot only drops the first time you do it every day, and queueueueing takes long enough there are obviously a lot of people who want their chance. But there are still a helmet and a mount that would be nice to have, so she should keep doing it every day.

When you mount up, your Halloween kitty gets a little magic broom!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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25 October 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Nobody likes work. Work goes, "hork, ptui".

Textual Entertainments: This Is Not A Game and Deep State (Walter Jon Williams) feature Alternate Reality Game creators vs the world, or how to make people pay you for the privilege of being your mechanical Turks. I don't feel that the first book sufficiently established the villain's villainy to either the reader or the main character, but the second book was more clear-cut, although possibly not less morally questionable. Also, did you know that exposure to violence and prolonged fear messes people up?

Aloha From Hell (Richard Kadrey) may be the last of the "Sandman Slim" books. The hero protagonist seems to have been pretty forcibly settled down by the end of the book, but then it's not like anyone else has gotten him to stay in one place.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Gosick 7: These people are as crazed as Victorique, but not nearly as smart.
  • Star Driver 15: What, no robot battle?! (There is only DOOOOM.)
  • Eden of East Movie 2: That was kind of triumphant, except for Saki. Well, maybe he will get around to returning before he gets his memory erased AGAIN.

Cats: Fuzzy! And extra-fuzzy! With some fuzziness on the side!

Not the end of Sandman Slim by Carl (Thu Nov 3 13:46:53 2011)

Richard Kadrey mentioned in today's Whatever interview that he has a new contract for another 3 Sandman Slim books, so it's not over yet apparently.

Re: Not the end of Sandman Slim by Trip (Fri Nov 4 08:42:26 2011)

W00t!

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24 October 2011 - Monday

Work: The n00b who was going to be starting today unilaterally put off her start date by two weeks. This is somewhat annoying, but as long as she doesn't do it again, it may align her start date better with the other n00bs, so we can train them all in one lump.

Gaming: Dogs in the Vineyard would totally work for Sailor Moon, right?

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia pillaged all the inns of the Outland, or at least the ones necessary to get the achievement, and got enough Tricky Treats to buy the Feline Familiar! It is very cute. Now I have to decide whether to keep doing seasonal stuff or go back to questing and mining and jewelcrafting.

She also was present for two attacks on the Headless Horseman (but did not contribute anything significant due to rez sickness (stupid Horde, guarding their wicker man!)) and got a sword that might be good when she levels and can use it. (It does a lot more damage base, but it's not two-handed and the stat bonuses aren't as good for a paladin.) Maybe if she keeps trying, she can get the mount!

Cats: Opaque tail!

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23 October 2011 - Sunday

HAPPY HAPPY AYSE-DAY!!

Gaming: The PCs decided to skip right to the beatdowns rather than bring prisoners to be sacrificed while they made a plan, but they successfully fed the wannabe death giant ogre king to his own evil magic and didn't even get the NPCs killed! Now they must escape from the ogres who want to prove themselves worthy by killing the kingslayers, and also pick up the dwarf's baby owlbear from the centaurs.

There is some discussion of ending this campaign since it's getting to the level where D&D4 starts breaking down. Maybe we can play something with a real GM!

Work: Blargh, big customer X broke again. When I got home from gaming, I spent a while scripting up most of the manual procedure to fix them because it's getting tedious.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Doing all four of the event dailies outside Stormwind is worth 9 Tricky Treats, which brings Zmorcia to 124. Three more days and she'll be able to afford a kitty! Er, if I can find where to buy them amid the Stormwind mobs.

Visual Entertainments: And now I am caught up on the first Eden of the East movie, so I can go to anime to Tuesday without being laughed at. (More than usual, I mean.)

Juiz is kind of disturbingly eager to help all of the Selecao with their nefarious plans.

Cats: Six left paws! Six right paws! Six front paws! Six back paws! How many paws is that?

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22 October 2011 - Saturday

Food: Apparently when Ken says, "I guess I could throw something together..." it means "okay, I am beginning to cook now don't be late".

Ja Baby: Ja Baby and Bacon! Ja Baby and Lizards! Ja Baby and Hide'n'seek! Ja Baby and Playdo!

Gaming: I came in dead last in two successive games of Dominion: Intrigue, because my Pawns and Minions betrayed me. Or maybe because I am LAME.

Ayse wants me to make Ken play a Sailor Moon game.

Visual Entertainments: Caught up on Clannad After Story. I don't know what Marith was talking about, that was the exact opposite of doom!

Cats: Paws and paws and paws!

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21 October 2011 - Friday

Work: Yay Friday!

Textual Entertainments: Like most recent Martha Wells books, The Cloud Roads is pretty straightforward. The setting seems like it would be good for an RPG (many kinds of humanoids with assorted distinguishing features, lots of unknown territory, cyclopean ruins littering the landscape, ...) but we don't find out a whole lot about it.

The Children of the Sky (Vernor Vinge) is the first sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep, but it has such a strong feeling of being the middle book of a trilogy that I can't imagine it's planned to be the last. The situation has definitely changed by the end of the book, but many plot threads are still unresolved. Also, group minds are weird and kind of scary.

Cats: So many paws!

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20 October 2011 - Thursday

Work: Check.

Textual Entertainments: After reading Aliette de Bodard's Hugo-nominated short story, I expected her novels Servant of the Underworld and Harbinger of the Storm to be SF Aztecs, but in fact they are fantasy Aztecs (slightly modified for story purposes). The protagonist is a priest who keeps getting sucked into being a detective and then everything spirals into a huge whirling nightmare of epic-level doom and divine intervention. I like them, although they have the problem of the protagonist having to save the entire world every book. But, non-European fantasy!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: So far I have mostly ignored the holiday events, but for the Halloween events, if you accumulate enough holiday tokens, you can get a kitty! So, Zmorcia ran around visiting inns to get the one bag of random things from each, by going to all the flight points she knows. She covered all of the Vashj'ir ones, then moved on to Ironforge and worked her way down to Stormwind, where she got sidetracked by actual event quests and dailies and stuff. She's not even a third of the way to being able to afford a kitty, but she got a flying broom in a random bag, and it takes as many holiday tokens to buy as a kitty does, so there's hope! (Also, there are a zillion flight points left to visit, some of which probably have inns.)

Cats: Not special Halloween cats, but very opaque nevertheless! Aspen seems a little less skittish around me; maybe after the inspection the other day she realized that she could be stuck with DIFFERENT cat-eating monsters?

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19 October 2011 - Wednesday

Work: Well, at least this time I didn't have to stay late, I just got called after I went home.

Gaming: PDQ Sharp! (Chad Underkoffler) is the swashbuckling adaptation of the PDQ system used in games like Dead Inside and Monkey Ninja Pirate Robot, so pretty much the system used in Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (another game I am not awesome enough to run).

Textual Entertainments: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Kady Cross) is kind of like X-Men × League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but not well-written.

Sequential Entertainments: Junko Mizuno is so weird. I don't know if she's so weird that manga publishers don't bring over much of her work, or so weird that she doesn't have much to bring over.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Being a naga is actually kind of fun. I know warriors have Charge, but I wonder if any PC classes have a Harpoon Yank power.

Cats: Opaque! Also, difficult to see through!

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18 October 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Support is now down to 1/3 the size it was when we had fewer customers. This seems poorly planned, but then, there are no companies that like their Support teams so far as I can tell. Support is even worse than QA for not inflating executive egos.

Why no, I don't like staying at work for two hours extra. I'm already here plenty.

Gaming: kill puppies for satan (Vincent Baker) has a new "annotated" edition, which is pretty much the same as the original plus cockroach souffle with a few sidebars. It is still funny, but even more horrible now that I have cats, which makes me a failure as a role-player. I should probably just give up and stick to WoW.

Schauermärchen (John Wick) is a small game of children trapped in a nightmarish village of doom. Just from reading it, it looks pretty doomed, but maybe in play the characters can get enough dice in Hope or Fear for some of them to win.

Strands of Fate (Mike McConnell) is kind of a strange implementation of FATE. What would be Skills in another FATE game are treated more like stats, and what would be skills in a non-FATE game are implemented as an Aspect linked to each stat. It's also got an extensive powers system, and more detail and extra rules in combat. In the constellation of FATE games, it's definitely at the edge toward old-school RPGs.

Textual Entertainments: Terry Pratchett's latest, Snuff, features Vimes vs the countryside, and a great deal of "marginalized humanoids are people too". I'm not sure it was sufficiently shown that goblins were people even without the benefits of human enlightenment, though.

No Loyal Knight (John Wick) is pretty awesome hardboiled magic detective action.

Cats: Before leaving for work, I had to confine the cats to my room so the apartment could be inspected, which took longer than I expected because Aspen knew I was Up To Something and resisted being herded. Finally I cornered her and she let me scoop her (after some cussing). When I tossed her into Durance Vile, she promptly hid under the futon, which seems like a reasonable response.

When I got home, Marmalade and Ghirardelli immediately zoomed out to see what had changed, but Aspen just hunkered down and almost let me pet her. Poor kitty.

Horrible Monster is horrible!

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17 October 2011 - Monday

Work: Blah, Monday.

Gaming: Playground Worlds (ed Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros) is a bunch of papers from a Scandinavian (or Nordic — both terms get used and I'm not sure if there are different connotations or what they would be) role-playing conference. This being Scandinavia, when they say "role-playing", they mean "larping" (no caps, since apparently "larp" is now a regular word). These papers therefore have almost no relevance to my life or hobbies, but are interesting to read (mainstream genre-snobbery notwithstanding) because Scandinavian larp is inventive, peculiar, and crazed. I mean, giant mechanical dragon! Arm sex! Room full of flour!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia has hit another point where few of the things she can jewelcraft give her skill, but she doesn't have enough skill to get new designs. Bah.

Cats: Things I brought in from the balcony were very interesting! But only for a little while, so I was then able to take them out to the dumpster without excessive drama.

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16 October 2011 - Sunday

Work: Gaaaah. Why does Boss G persist in putting people who aren't awake when customers have problems on call? It just means the rest of us have surprise work when we think we aren't on call!

Textual Entertainments: Hellbent (Cherie Priest) is the second in a series about a neurotic vampire burglar, the weirdos she accumulates (ex-SEAL drag queen FTW), and the trouble they get into. There is an overarching plot, but it didn't advance much in this book, so I don't forsee an end to the high jinks anytime soon.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia saved the mollusc! She whaled on a bunch of naga! She astrally projected into the past! She reached level 84!

Cats: My goodness, these cats are opaque.

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15 October 2011 - Saturday

Food: Bacon, French toast, and bacon.

Ja Baby: Marith's giant stuffed lizard Aylee was a big hit with the critical Ja Baby demographic! It's not every day you meet a lizard who can ride a tricycle or leap across the room onto Dave!

Gaming: Marith won Race for the Galaxy against Ken and Dave! Then she beat me at Dominion, but that's not nearly as impressive and anyway Ken crushed us both.

Textual Entertainments: The Cold Commands (Richard K Morgan) is the sequel to The Steel Remains, and feels a little more Eriksonish than the previous book even though the deep time, strange magical realms, and cryptic meddlings of gods were all there from the beginning. But, no matter how powerful Ringil becomes, or how many hot guys he boinks, his life still sucks.

Hopefully the next book will not take so long to come out!

Visual Entertainments: Continued my Fiasco power-ups with Burn After Reading, another Coen brothers movie in which things bounce down a jagged, painful slope that leads directly to hell, because people are dumb and/or crazy (mostly "and"). The outcomes were a bit more varied than in Fargo or A Simple Plan, ranging from "just fine and now unencumbered" and "just fine and now with extra money" through "exiled" to "comatose" and "dead". I liked the CIA chief possibly more than he deserves, because he obviously understood that his job was not to make everything turn out okay, it was just to make problems go away.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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14 October 2011 - Friday

Work: Check.

Gaming:I actually read On Mighty Thews (Simon Carryer) a while back but apparently forgot to say anything about it at the time. That sounds bad, but it's really a perfectly good small game of pulp fantasy (Conan, not LotR). Notable features: rolling well lets you make up stuff; every character has a one-word personality descriptor which gives them a reroll token for every scene they abide by it in but a big bonus once per scene if they go against it; all the characters' personality descriptors get put down at random spots on a piece of paper and the map for the game is drawn around them.

Nemesis (Dennis Detwiller, Greg Stolze, Shane Ivey) is a horror variant of the ORE system (Godlike, Monsters and Other Childish Things). It's pretty much just system, but what setting there is, is Lovecraft/Delta Green. Sanity uses the madness meters with failed and hardened slots as seen some other game I'm not remembered right now — Unknown Armies? Anyway, it seems like it should be playable, although something about the ORE system always bugs me. Not sure what.

Play Dirty is a collection of John Wick's Pyramid columns, ostensibly about being a Bastard GM From Hell. Some of it is bastardly (GM Is God, if someone is playing in a way you don't like, frustrate them until they leave the game), but a lot of it is pretty standard GMing advice delivered in a I-am-so-hardcore-and-revolutionary-not-like-you-sheep tone. It's not bad advice, but it's not as amazing as all that.

Textual Entertainments: Ascendant (Diana Peterfreund) is the sequel to Rampant, in which unicorn hunters become much more doomed but learn only a little more about the mysteries of unicorns. Next book plz?

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia has now seen the Mollusc of Unusual Size, but not done any quests about it.

Cats: Twelve paws of cute scampering!

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13 October 2011 - Thursday

Work: Today we have no one out sick, but we have someone out on vacation, so it comes out about the same.

Gaming: More indie games today. I'm starting to run out!

a|state (Malcolm Craig. Rob Robertson, John Wilson) describes itself as a game of "gothic horror SF", and I can't really argue. A fifty-mile-wide city cut off from the outside world for a thousand years, with cyber-enhanced corporate moguls fighting wars with child soldiers and teeming slums haunted by mysterious but horrible creatures, couldn't really be anything else. About half the file is setting description of various kinds, and the rest is interleaved with snippets of fiction, so it should be easy to run a game there, but I never got any good sense of who PCs should be, or what they should be doing. The system is also meh, and poorly documented, but it's also pretty generic so a better one could be swapped in pretty easily.

I don't really understand It's Complicated (Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat). The system isn't at all complicated, not even the part where you need several different colors of pen/pencil, but I don't see how to apply it to play an actual game. Maybe I should search the Intertubes for some examples of play.

Enemy Gods is a (relatively) nonbastardly John Wick game in which each player plays both a god (who gets mojo from their hero doing stuff) and a hero (who gets mojo from the gods). The gods get to interfere with stuff in their domain, and also get to answer player questions about stuff in their domain (the GM can veto, but shouldn't unless absolutely necessary). Extra dice are awarded for naming the advantages your character has in the conflict. Heroism ensues. (There's a made-up pantheon for people to play, but it would work just as well with the Greek gods, or even the Norse ones.)

Textual Entertainments: It's standard for urban fantasy protagonists to be disaffected, but Unholy Ghosts (Stacia Kane) goes the extra mile. Chess spends the entire book hopped up on speed (except when she's on something else), gets pulled into the adventure because she owes her dealer a lot of money, sleeps with random (cute) gangsters, and is generally not what most people would consider an upstanding member of society.

Visual Entertainments: No Lucifer. Instead, we searched for the lost art of conversation. (I think it may have fallen down the crack in the sofa.)

Cats: So fuzzy!

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12 October 2011 - Wednesday

Work: All Webex, all the time!

Cats: Twelve paws!

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11 October 2011 - Tuesday

Work: We don't have enough people that we can afford to have one out sick. (Soon, we'll have more people. They we'll be even less able to cope with people being out, because we'll have n00bs to train as well as customers to fix.)

Gaming: Cartoon Action Hour: Season Two is the second edition of Cynthia Celeste Miller's well-regarded game of 80s action cartoon adventure. I never saw the first edition, so I can't compare them, but judging by the afterward she took out almost all of the rules that had been there. Now there are pretty much just free-form traits, which you add to a d12 and compare to a target number, plus a few rules for using traits together, special extras on traits, determining the traits of a bunch of characters combined into one giant robot, etc. (It seems like everyone is using d12s these days. I guess the meme that the d12 deserves some love has finally caught hold.) Also, lots and lots of advice on running in the retrotoon mode, and three sample campaign seeds (He-Man, GI Joe, and Transformers with mud smeared over the serial numbers). Sadly, I think I am defective as a child of the 80s, because retrotoon action doesn't seem that appealing.

Textual Entertainments: The Immortal Fire (Anne Ursu) is the conclusion of the trilogy that started with The Shadow Thieves, about two 8th-graders vs the (somewhat inept) forces of Greek mythology. Of course the good guys win, but I can't help but feel that their final move should come back to bite them. Hard.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Star Driver 14: You can tell we've passed the halfway point, because we have new credit sequences! Also, the sympathetic villain's plan is coming unravelled.
  • Brighter Than The Dawning Blue 11-12: The triumphant finale! It had everything one would expect, and a little more.
  • Clannad After Story 17: Do they just not believe in counselling in Japan?
  • Gosick 5-6: Kujõ finally gets to rescue a blonde damsel in distress who appreciates his efforts! Also, more of Victorique's backstory.

Next week, Eden of the East movie #1!

Cats: Ghirardelli, please learn to tell time or at least notice whether the alarm has beeped or not!

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10 October 2011 - Monday

HAPPY HAPPY MARITH-DAY!!

Work: Here in Support, everyone's project is top priority!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: I was kind of hoping that the flight point would be associated with vendors and mailboxes and other appurtenances of civilization, but oh well. At least Zmorcia has a giant seahorse to go zooming around on.

Cats: Hello, very opaque kitties!

damp empty caves by marith (Tue Oct 11 09:39:10 2011)

Yeah, unfortunately you have to kind of start from scratch in Vash'jir. The third or fourth cave will have all the amenities!

Also there is a seahorse "flight" route back to a "Sandy Beach" on the surface, and from there you can fly easily back to Stormwind. So at least you're not stuck. (I was, the first time, and at one point had to swim back to Stormwind myself. very slowly.)

but pretty! by marith (Tue Oct 11 09:40:36 2011)

But isn't the undersea pretty?

Re: pretty caves by Trip (Tue Oct 11 10:27:27 2011)

Yes, it is very scenic! At least, if you can get past the naga.

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9 October 2011 - Sunday

Work: RTFM, customers! (He said from his complete lack of moral high ground.)

Lethargy: I had to go shopping, but otherwise check.

Textual Entertainments: Goliath (Scott Westerfeld) is the conclusion of the trilogy that started with Leviathan. Most of the things that you probably thought were going to happen based on the genre do happen, but that's okay. The depiction of Nikola Tesla is not what one expects from the genre, though, which made me happy.

I wonder what Westerfeld will do next. I bet the Internets would tell me.

Sequential Entertainments: Every time a new volume of Negima! (Ken Akamatsu) comes out, I have to reread the previous few, but I finally got caught up enough to read volume 31. GO NODOKA!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia infiltrated the cultists, betrayed them utterly, brought old gods back into the world, and helped defeat the evil king of fire and death! Now she is really done with Hyjal, so it's on to Sog'gy'tow'n. (Apparently the WoW writers took complaints about dumb names with apostrophes in as a challenge, not a warning.)

Visual Entertainments: A Simple Plan did not have Steve Buscemi, but the PCs were still doomed from the first scene. I think this movie contributed significantly to the outcomes section of Fiasco.

Cats: Twelve adorable paws!

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8 October 2011 - Saturday

Work: Only a little.

Lethargy: I slept enough to make the 7-day average on my brain inflator go up to 8 (from like 7.8 so not that impressive). I trundled to Ayse and Ken's and back twice, but there was Ja Baby and Chinese food and Settlers. I'm not very good at staying home, because staying home makes me an even worse friend. I'm also not very good at Settlers.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: I think Zmorcia is almost done with Hyjal. She played Joust, restored life to the land, and got sent back to the starting location to get another quest chain. She also mined 100 obsidium. The only parts of Hyjal she hasn't done quests in are the southeast and south.

Cats: So fuzzy and opaque!

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7 October 2011 - Friday

Work: Boss G is still at a conference and other cow orkers are off work by now, so I am the only one standing between Aster and the righteous wrath of customers. And I'm on call this weekend. We're so doomed.

Gaming: Rêve: The Dream Ouroboros, English translation of the second edition of Rêve de Dragon by Denis Gerfaud, is an interesting game hampered by having been written in 1993 (first edition 1985). By modern standards, the rules are ridiculously complicated and fiddly. EG, task resolution is based on the character's ability score, skill level, and situational modifiers, but where today you would just add those together, add a die roll, and compare to a target number, in Rêve you add the skill level and situational modifiers together to get one number, then cross-reference that with the ability score on a table that gives the number you have to roll under on percentile dice. But that's just basic success/failure: you also have to look up your chance of success on another table to find the ranges that correspond to the two types of better success and the two types of worse failure. And you have to do this for every roll, except the ones that gratuitously use different mechanics. Then there's the eighteen different ability scores and sixty-four skills, tracking fatigue by hour of activity and sustenance by meal, rolling to recover every point of Endurance and Life (Stun and Body, roughly) at different rates and intervals depending on how beat up you are, etc etc etc.

But, the world is pretty neat. Dying corresponds to the Great Dreamer who was specifically dreaming you awakening, but soon enough you'll be in a new life, maybe a little different but still you, and now with one more previous life to dream about. You might even meet up with the people you were travelling with before. Over all the lives you've been dreamed, you've accumulated an archetype of yourself, and any individual incarnation can get memories and skills by dreaming while stressed. A very fortunate incarnation can even improve the archetype.

There are four schools of magic: creating usually-spherical zones that do things (like convert all metal to water, keep things from going in and out, illuminate the interior with light that's not visible from outside, carry people through the air, make everything the same shade of green — an eclectic assortment), charms and illusions (up to summoning somewhat-real creatures), enchanting objects (to work better, provide protection, or cast spells), and cursing people who are so unfortunate as to have an arcane connection fall into the wrong hands. Despite the differences, all spells require the high dreamer to astrally project into a higher level of the dreamlands and travel to an appropriate place. To cast a new spell, only the terrain type has to match, but to fully analyze and dispel an existing spell, or trigger a racked spell, you have to go to the exact same hex on the Dreamlands map. Naturally, this is not as easy as it sounds.

The included adventures have a somewhat Dying Earth feel to them: strange local customs, strange locals, not very epic at all.

With the existing mechanics, I'm not sure the game is reasonably playable, but a system transplant should be doable, and even if not, Rêve can definitely be mined for ideas.

Textual Entertainments: One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night is older Christopher Brookmyre (1999) but still pretty swell. Scotland + gormless idiots + chemical explosives = big laughs.

Cats: Miau miau miau!

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6 October 2011 - Thursday

Work: Two people is not really enough for this team.

Visual Entertainments: No Lucifer, because Marith is hiding from the fearsome Ayse-germs.

Food: Ken made onion soup, after the manner of the French, and we feasted upon it with glee. Also with Emmenthaler and baguette.

Cats: I am so cruel that I did not bring any cheese back for the cats!

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5 October 2011 - Wednesday

Work: I feel much better now, although not necessarily any smarter.

Gaming: Today I finished a game I had been reading and read a bunch of fairly short ones.

For a long time I've been thinking about a card-based RPG, so when I saw that someone had made one, I had to check it out. Alas, Untold (Nathan Ellsworth, Brannon Hollingsworth) is not so great (at least based on the free primer). I suppose the mechanics aren't horrible, although they seem a little complicated — if you need a separate piece of paper to keep track of what the cards add up to, you're not really gaining any simplicity over a standard character sheet. Also, guys: "effect" and "affect" aren't interchangable. Neither are periods and commas, and apostrophes aren't optional. Patronizingly self-congratulatory ad copy is even less convincing when written by people who aren't smart enough to get a proofreader.

Emily Care Boss has written a couple of RPGs about love and romance, Breaking the Ice and Shooting the Moon, which were at least interesting to read. (I obviously can offer no opinion on their emotional validity or realism.) I did not find Under My Skin as interesting, possibly because it's intended for LARP play, possibly because it's not as concrete a game. (These are probably not unrelated.)

The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries (Eric J Boyd) is a game about Victorian or 30s pulp (your choice) explorers sitting around the club regaling their colleagues with the stories of their latest expedition in search of mysterious mysteries. Drinks are not optional, and there are in fact mechanics based on the condition of people's drinking vessels. It's a pretty simple game, but each challenge is on a strict three-minute timer, and if you run out the clock your character has bored their audience and you lose points. Narrate fast or the zombies eat your brain!

Six Bullets for Vengeance (Andrew Kenrick) is a short but potentially confusing game played in reverse chronological order: the first scene played is the avenger's confrontation with the last person he needs to kill, and each successive scene is with the villain before that, showing the avenger at a less-honed state, until finally the the scene in which a sane person embarks on the bloody path of vengeance is played out.

Wilderness of Mirrors is John Wick's "better spy game". It's very simple, the players get to make up the entire adventure ahead of time by laying a clever plan to execute the mission, niches are protected, and you get more plusses for betraying people. Maybe it really is better!

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia threw baby bears from trees (into a trampoline!) and otherwise defended the natural order. Now she is level 83. Only two levels to go!

Cats: Hi Opacity-kun!

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4 October 2011 - Tuesday

Work: Not too sick to work, just sick enough that I don't want to work. Bah.

Gaming: Thousand Suns (James Maliszewski, Richard Iorio II)is pretty much a Traveller clone. The resolution mechanic is a simple roll under stat+skill on 2d12, and the setting history is deliberately only sketched out, but the career backgrounds, the psionics, the random world generation, the 40-year loans on starships, etc are all lightly repainted Traveller.

One thing Thousand Suns has that Traveller didn't is aspects a la FATE. It seems like aspects are becoming the ability scores of the next generation of games: designers put in different numbers of them, rename them, paint stripes on them to make them go faster, whatever, but they're all pretty much the same and a standard part of what it means to be a roleplaying system.

Textual Entertainments: As you can probably tell from the title, Kitty's Big Trouble (Carrie Vaughn) gets the werewolf talk radio host tangled up in doom in San Francisco's Chinatown. I'm not sure what I think about the increasing amounts and power levels of supernatural stuff Kitty runs into over the course of the series. Some amount of escalation is natural, but this is both changing the genre and sawing away at the rope suspending disbelief about all this stuff having remained hidden.

Visual Entertainments:

  • Brighter Than The Dawning Blue 9-10: Suddenly, action!
  • Star Driver 13: Wow, a rematch. But they didn't really fight the first time, so maybe it doesn't count.
  • Clannad After Story 15-16: Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
  • Gosick 4: Surely no one so suspicious can turn out to be the real villain, right?

Cats: Three fuzzy lumps!

note to self: by marith (Thu Oct 6 09:46:22 2011)

Never check wikipedia to see if last night's cliffhanger is as depressing as you thought it was. You're apt to find out it is actually much worse.

Re: note to self by Trip (Thu Oct 6 12:30:02 2011)

This is why I try to only look at scheduling information (episode counts, etc) on Wikipedia!

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3 October 2011 - Monday

Work: Nobody likes Monday. Not even its mother.

"Mother/Father of Mondays" would be a good epithet for a pointy-haired boss.

Sore throat. Good thing I don't need to talk on the phone very much.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Today's jewelcrafting quest was easy, but involved spending time in Stormwind. I guess it balances out.

Cats: Twelve paws!

mother of mondays by marith (Wed Oct 5 08:50:15 2011)

Actually, that sounds like a god to me, the kind you don't really expect to help you but is useful to swear at / pray to. "Mother of Mondays, who requisitioned THAT?!"

Re: mother of Mondays by Trip (Wed Oct 5 10:13:32 2011)

Oh, that's good!

Re: Mother of Mondays by kit (Tue Oct 11 11:20:58 2011)

I believe I may start using that as invective. :)

Great Mother of Mondays! by Trip (Tue Oct 11 11:46:42 2011)

VICTORY!

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2 October 2011 - Sunday

Work: Check.

Gaming: Surprise Palo Alto D&D4! Adam is busy doing family stuff next weekend, and everyone was available today, so we rescheduled.

The PCs have befriended some centaurs, reached the Fortress of the Death Giant Wannabe, wrassled some ogres into submission, and found out where the people they want to rescue are being held, which is pretty good progress for only one fight. (It's not like fights get them XP anymore!)

Sequential Entertainments: I picked up Witch & Wizard because it is drawn by Svetlana Chmakova, but the writing is pretty bad. Maybe the space penguins will abduct this James Patterson guy so Chmakova can work on better stuff.

xxxHolic (CLAMP) is still awesome, though.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: The fiery world of flame and death turns out to have a very easy intro section. I hear there are raids and dungeons and stuff further in, though, so Zmorcia won't go there. Also, new daily jewelcrafting quest, but it's in Stormwind. Bah!

Visual Entertainments: Marith wanted to watch Tangled, the Disney Rapunzel movie. It was Disney, of course (in fact, from the new division headquartered in Uncanny Valley), but it did not make me hate all humans. Not more than I did before I started watching, anyway.

I'm sure someone could get a paper out of comparing this movie's transformation with the one in Beauty and the Beast.

Cats: Marmalade wanted to be friends with Marith and her yummy hair so much! He was so opaque for her! He kittybreaded her chest so vigorously!

Entertainments both visual and narrative by Carl (Wed Oct 12 14:51:46 2011)

Totally agree on both Witch & Wizard (want more Nightschool instead!) and xxxHoLIC.

Yotsuba&! 10 and A Bride's Story 2 are out, yay! Plus new Vinge, yum.

Re: Nightschool by Trip (Wed Oct 12 20:57:33 2011)

Yes! More now! I command it!

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1 October 2011 - Saturday

HAPPY HAPPY JA BABY-DAY!!

Ja Baby had a party with her toddler friends in the morning, which apparently went smashingly (is that a good word to use with toddlers?) despite the stress it caused her mom. Then in the afternoon Dave and Marith and I went over to admire her and watch her try to ride her new tricycle and converse with her parents. Marith gave her a book about finding Ja Baby, which was a big hit. I gave her uh smiles?

Food: Ken is still sick, so we ordered pizza instead of making him cook the huge piles of shrimp that had been planned. This was totally okay with everyone.

Work: I'm glad I'm not on call today, because it looks like the guy who is on call is having lots of not fun with Horrible Customer X. But next week, it will be me.

Textual Entertainments: Seanan McGuire's "October Daye" books aren't as good as the zombie books she writes as Mira Grant, but they're still pretty entertaining. One Salt Sea continues to deepen the doom for our poor half-fey detective heroine, blub blub blub. (Plus, cecaeliae!)

Visual Entertainments: We have reached the point in Lucifer where Marith is developing Theories.

Massively-Multiplayer Online Entertainments: Zmorcia trundled around Mount Hyjal some more. XP ensued. Next step: jump through a portal into a world of fiery burning death because a giant glowing wolf said so!

Cats: Miau miau miau.

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