Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 May 2012 - Thursday

Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale (Sterling Hershey, Brian R James, Matt James, Steve Townshend) is a book of monsters, but it places them in a typical D&D4 adventuring area (pseudo-Northern-European, stock PHB setting) to give them context. I think it works pretty well for making the flavor text more flavorful, and it's not like the monster groups can't be repurposed (individually or in interacting sets) for other games.

Like Neverwinter Campaign Setting, this material is primarily for heroic-tier PCs, but there are a few monsters all the way up to level 20.

  • Red Garden 22: Everybody dies! Well, almost. But quite a few of them deserved it.
  • Red Garden OVA: I had heard the OVA was the actual last episode, but it's actually stuff that happened well after the series. It is also pretty silly, and double-length. Possibly I could have learned all this ahead of time by doing research.
  • Kimi ni Todoke II 8: The clue is still richoceting around, but I think it may have grazed the protagonists.
  • Penguindrum 16: Finally we learn Laser-Guided Slingshot Lass's backstory.
  • Kara no Kyoukai 1: (Boundary of Emptiness, subtitled The Garden of Sinners) Supernatural horror in modern-day Tokyo, which a group of weirdos interact antagonistically with. (Saying they fight it sounds too much like "they fight crime", which makes them sound more good-aligned than seems to be the case.)

Marith threw out her back a few days ago, but it seems to be getting the opposite of better. Dave's sofa nearly defeated her.

Twelve fuzzy paws!

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30 May 2012 - Wednesday

Cow orker A is back from his ancestral homeland, but jet lag still knocks him out about halfway through the day. Hopefully he will recover soon so that he can stay until the Hour of Foosing..

Neverwinter Campaign Setting (Matt Sernett, Ari Marmell, Eirk Scott de Bie) is pretty much what it says on the tin: a region with lots of trouble for D&D characters to get into. There's international intrigue with multiple sides, horrible monster plans, multiple lost cities, rampaging barbarians, annoyed eladrin, and more undead than you can a reasonably-sized shake a stick at.

Not surprisingly, it is set in the 4th ed version of Forgotten Realms, and fairly strongly tied into the world (the international intrigue is from established major powers, etc).

Somewhat surprisingly, the whole thing is intended for heroic-tier characters (level 1-10). I wonder if WotC is coming to the conclusion that D&D4 doesn't work very well at high levels, or if they just think people want shorter campaigns. Since paragon paths aren't an option, or maybe just because it's a recent product, there are themes to tie PCs to pretty much any of the factions and some of the scenery.

At the upper end, there are a couple of more distant locations the PCs can trash visit, one of which shows that Gloomwrought really is the nice part of the Shadowfell.

It seems unlikely that I will ever use this product, but it makes me wish I could run intrigue.

So fluffy!

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29 May 2012 - Tuesday

Tuesday: now with 50% extra Monday!

The presentation in the Engineering meeting looked like it was going to be interesting, but a combination of cheap mics and mumbling made it almost completely unintelligible. :(

After the holiday weekend, people are not up for Lucifer. In theory I should be using this time to be productive, but I'm not up to that either.

Instead of evening medicinal treat, Ghirardelli gets... BELLY RUBS!

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28 May 2012 - Monday

Last night my nose was too stuffed up to use the brain inflator, but this morning I know why it's a good idea. I remembered a lot of dreams, but I was sore all over and the cats seemed very worried that I would die before giving them breakfast. Fortunately the trees seem to be less orgiastic today.

Makeshift Miracle vol 1 (Jim Zub, Shun Hong Chan) has very pretty painted art, and probably a story to match, although in the first volume we don't get much beyond introducing the two main characters and a retrofuture guy who is deeply disappointed by Earth's lack of moon colonies.

It's difficult to depict someone with no clothes on in a PG manner for more than a panel or two (not that nakedness plays a big part in the comic, I was just noticing).

People seem to have made it back from Roseville successfully. I hear Ja Baby was very cute.

Ghirardelli has been successfully medicated twice a day for three weeks! Starting tomorrow he will be down to one chew per day.

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27 May 2012 - Sunday

Volume 2 of Princess Knight (Osamu Tezuka) does wrap up the story, but without ever overcoming the horrible 50s gender roles. "We can't have two girls getting married" my ass!

Argh, the customers attack! Not in force, though.

Today, I accomplished pretty much nothing, except maybe eating too much guacamole.

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26 May 2012 - Saturday

Curses! My winning streak is broken! BookBuyers returned seven paperbacks and two hardcovers! I know they took everything that was in one bag, so I guess I can claim I made it to 15 bags with no rejections.

Fortunately, the donation slot for the library is only a couple of blocks from BookBuyers.

Into the Unknown (Logan Bonner, Matt Sernett, Jeff Morgenroth) is the D&D4 sourcebook for running and playing in dungeons and the Underdark. It has character themes (which seem to have evolved into the heroic-tier counterpart to paragon paths and epic destinies) based around the Underdark or dungeoneering; sample character backgroundss for the themes; goblins, kobolds, and svirfneblin (deep gnomes) as playable PC races with a bunch of racial feats and powers; a bunch more powers for various classes and the underground organizations they can be learned from; advice to PCs on surviving dungeons and the Underdark; discussion of the various archetypes of dungeons, the various groups that might build them, and the things that might inhabit them; brief descriptions of famous dungeons from D&D history (Temple of Elemental Evil, Tomb of Horrors, etc); advice on creating dungeon/Underdark adventures; and a few companion NPCs that could be adopted by a party.

Obviously if you're playing D&D4, there's no point in objecting to extra menus of powers, and these ones at least have some fiction elements associated with them. The advice on making adventures seems sound, and the discussion of dungeon types is probably good for GMs who can manage to plan more than one encounter per underground region.


Goblins look fun to play, because they get to leap around. Also, they can have a Charisma bonus!

Someone, somewhere, recommended the "Fear Itself" arc of the Journey Into Mystery to Marith, so I got it for her. After many weeks of her never reading it, I made her lend it back to me and I read it today (two volumes, Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself and Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout, written by Kieron Gillen of Phonogram fame, art by Doug Braithwaite, Rob Rodi, Whilce Portacio, Pasqual Ferry, and Richard Elson). It was pretty good! Reincarnated, teenaged, ostensibly reformed Loki is surprisingly sympathetic, and the world he has to work with has a reasonable amount of depth.

No customers broke anything today!

I hope people in Roseville are having extra fun because I'm not there.

Twelve paws!

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25 May 2012 - Friday

Yay, Friday! Yay, long weekend! Boo, on call! Boo, no visiting!

At least Ghirardelli seems to appreciate that I am here to give him his medicinal yummies.

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24 May 2012 - Thursday

Hey, look, customers. With broken stuff.

As of the first half, Princess Knight (Osamu Tezuka) is extremely cartoonish. There's lots of violence in which no one gets hurt, characters have silly names and even sillier plans, fortune reverses itself for comedic effect, transformations and convenient amnesia abound. This is probably because it comes from the early 1950s, when Tezuka was inventing manga based on Disney cartoons. At least, I assume that's why the witch turns into a dragon in the Sleeping Beauty sequence.

Despite the gender shenanigans of the main character, the binary is not subverted.

  • Katanagatari 12: The end! Everybody dies! Well, almost. Who didn't die seemed kind of random, which I suppose is verisimilitudinous, but it wasn't who I was rooting for.
  • Kimi ni Todoke II 7: Hey, look, a clue! It's not possession of the main characters, but at least it exists.
  • Penguindrum 14-15: Yike.
  • Red Garden 21: The main characters all seem to be resigned to their fate, which is good, because there aren't many episodes left.

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23 May 2012 - Wednesday

I tried to go to the tech talk about massively parallel graph analytics, but I don't know anything about graphs, so I had to creep out in shame.

The main character of The Scar (Sergey and Marina Dyachenko) starts off as a carousing, wenching, duel-fighting scion of nobility, but although I haven't read a lot of Russian F/SF, he still felt Russian to me, instead of French or generic European. Possibly this is because, instead of saving the world by feats of derring-do, he gets cursed with cowardice for killing a random spud and spends most of the book hiding under a rock like the worm he recognizes himself as.

I think this might count as fairy tale rather than fantasy (or the fairy tale subgenre of fantasy, whatever), since although there are mages, and one is even a viewpoint character for a bit, it's unclear what they can do and completely unclear how they do it.

Target, why do you still allot shelf space to queen-size fitted sheets if you don't stock them? Am I going to have to go more than two blocks from home to do my shopping?

It looks like everyone I would trust to give Ghirardelli his medicinal yummies twice a day is going out of town this weekend, so I will stay home to take care of him. And also be on call, which is pretty much the same anywhere there is Internets, but it would be silly to travel for hours just to hide in a back room with a laptop and a lot of cussing.

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22 May 2012 - Tuesday

Hey, look, I figured out a problem!

For no very good reason, I bought a bunch of D&D stuff, which I will no doubt report on in due course.

Marith is dead of stress or biology or something, so there is no Lucifer, but there was salad and Danger 5. "I Danced for Hitler" and "Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich" are both exactly as ridiculous as they sound.

Oh no! Some wretch has let the crunchyfood bowl become completely empty!

After refilling the foods, I noticed a lack of Aspen, so I looked all over until I found her in her extra-secret backup hiding spot under my bed and she was forced to flee. But then she let me pet her and even fuzzle her belly for a little bit before making her daring escape!

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21 May 2012 - Monday

La la Monday la.

I've read it before, but FLCL (Gainax, Hajime Ueda) still makes no sense to me, not even as much as the anime did.

The Road of Danger (David Drake) is 983465923th in the Mundy and Leary books, and not significantly different except in plot. I'm really not sure about that clever plan at the end.

I played a bunch more Magical Diary, because Ellen is awesome. I don't think I'm going to get to 100 Cute by the end of the year, though.

I cruelly flopped down near Aspen and watched her for several minutes, but (this is the important part) did not eat her.

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20 May 2012 - Sunday

The PCs, after declining to have melted finger goo dripped into their eyesockets, successfully defeated the architecture of the city, but it was holding a grudge, so they skipped down without talking to the undead giantess who wants them to destroy the current moon and put the old one back and incidentally rule the world. The minotaur princess was successfully handed over to the shadowhunters for ransoming, after being divested of non-ransomable loot. Adam's old character was drafted for a mission to infiltrate a dwarven-supremacist cult of brewmasters, but his pet owlbear, after eating something unnatural, became semi-sapient (but still fond of beer). Then they started trying to guess the remaining part of the teleport address for the place they've been trying to get to for eleven levels now. After viewing fuzzy images of a few places, they decided to go for the overgrown city, which turned out to have a giant dragon made of brambles.

Sadly, Adam won't be here next session, so we have to wait a whole month to find out how munchkinish the owlbear is as a PC. (It's actually written up as a bugbear ranger with spiked chain, to simulate the double attack with reach that the owlbear did when it was a monster.)

I spend most of the evening playing Magical Diary, having given in to the lure of the walkthrough so I can find the Ellen plotline. I did something wrong somewhere, though, since I never got Big Steve to do the claw machine for me, and I had to log off before getting to the actual plotline. I think I'm set for when the important event comes up, though.

Twelve fuzzy paws! With extra bonus miauing!

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19 May 2012 - Saturday

Ayse brought Ja Baby over to admire my kitties (who she found very admirable) and then we went to Dana Street to meet up with Ken and then to BookBuyers before Ja Baby had to be napped. It was a very fine way to spend a Saturday morning.

Fourteen bags of books completely accepted. Muahahahahahaha.

There was a vague plan to get together for more fun, or maybe housework, after Ja Baby's nap, but it never materialized.

I played about a million more games of Dominion while trying uninspiredly to prepare for tomorrow. I don't hate Thief as much as I used to, but I still don't like it any better than Militia.

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18 May 2012 - Friday

No Sentai Sailor Moon this week, but popular sentiment is generally in favor of Ayse sleeping.

Friends with Boys (Faith Erin Hicks) is about the adventures of a home-schooled girl going to high school for the first time. As the title implies, there is a lot about friendship, but there is no romance. There is a ghost, but it's not clear why.

Shotgun Sorceress and Switchblade Goddess (Lucy A Snyder) are the next two books in the series that started with Spellbent. After going to a hell in the first book, the main character now goes to Texas, which turns out to not be much better (mostly because it's being invaded by monsters, to be fair), as well as Louisiana and Switzerland (also containing monsters through no fault of their own). More sex and violence and violent sex ensues.

Twelve paws!

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17 May 2012 - Thursday

  • Penguindrum 13: More with weird pink-haired guy!
  • Katanagatari 11: We finally have the commercial release, which of course has different translations than the fansubs we've been watching. The Deviant Blades are now called Klesha Bringers, which suggests a more active role, and Togame's rival is now Princess Denial. But we now have some exposition as to how the Klesha Bringers were made, and what for. Also, traditional ending to the penultimate episode!
  • Red Garden 19-20: We're well into the death spiral now, and things look bad for the good guys, the bad guys, the other bad guys... pretty much everyone.

Twelve fuzzy paws who want me to understand that their crunchyfood is empty and Something Must Be Done!

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16 May 2012 - Wednesday

It seems like I spent most of today going "Durrrrrr", but actually I did some work. Perhaps some of it won't come back to haunt me, even.

Durarara!! vol 2 (Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, Akiyo Satorigi) continues to follow the anime pretty closely. I am a huge loser for thinking Anri is cute.

Brimstone Kiss (Carole Nelson Douglas) is the sequel to Dancing with Werewolves, in which plot threads are extended and multiplied but very few are actually brought to an end. Also: more black and white zombies, undead Egyptian creepiness, and support groups for victims of demonic smooches.

Spellbent (Lucy A Snyder) reminds me a little of Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series in the way wizards are vastly powerful, answerable to higher powers, and yet hidden from most of the world. It's not even slightly YA-okay, though, and the higher powers are not good, just higher. And more powerful.

When the villain was criticizing the main character's life choices, I thought he had some good points, but apparently the Man can't keep her down even before she starts replacing parts of her body with magical force.

Twelve paws!

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15 May 2012 - Tuesday

Customer X sent us a big box of miscellaneous swag in appreciation of our not abandoning them in their hours of need.

After a long gap, Lucifer episode 16(ish)! You'd think businessman guy would be better at lying after carrying on like he did for so long, but I guess he didn't actually get away with that, did he?

Also: The elevator! Gaaaah!

A Certain Scientific Railgun vol 4 definitely has one of the more horrible biotech-based surprises I've seen.

Twelve extremely fluffy paws, some of them in need of blunting!

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14 May 2012 - Monday

Why does Monday always come after Sunday? Can't we go from Saturday to Sunday and back to Saturday?

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13 May 2012 - Sunday

Marith liked the Avengers movie enough to come see it again with me, and even Dave came along, which he almost never does. It was pretty swell: superheroes always fought when they met, SHIELD had a helicarrier, Hawkeye had ridiculous special arrows, and Loki was a huge git.

I really liked the actor they had for Captain America. Wasn't there a Captain America movie recently? Maybe I should have seen it.

Tony Stark is totally a Spark from Girl Genius. His brain never slows down (which is probably why he drinks).

Dancing with Werewolves (Carole Nelson Douglas) is more interesting than I expected. It hardly subverts the steamy urban fantasy genre, but the heroine is messed up in less glamorous ways than usual, even if she still does get the attention of all the cute guys. Perhaps what I mean to say that is she does not seem like a guy with boobs. The writing style is breezy and conversational and has random bits of wordplay in — maybe it's the feminine equivalent of first-person smartass?

Marith pointed me to a walkthrough for Magical Diary, which naturally has more spoilers than you can shake a wiggle wand at but will definitely tell me how to get through any of the plotlines I want.

Choco-cat chase!

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12 May 2012 - Saturday

Ayse had to throw a baby shower for her friend, so there was not the usual brunch, and then took a nap, so there was no Academy of Science, but we hung out and played Dominion and played with Ja Baby and went shopping and played with Ja Baby some more and the husband of the lady who had the baby shower came over to use the laundry facilities because his exploded and stayed to play the Ravenloft board game and Ken made carne asada burritos and it was a pretty good day.

BookBuyers took all of another four bags of books. Eventually I'll run out of good books to get rid of, I suppose, but for now I should obviously keep moving them out!

Apparently I did that Magical Diary plotline wrong, since it just petered out at the end of the school year, so I started a new game to try one of the other plotlines. I'm not sure it's going very well, though.

Dave is making horribly abusive D&D characters again. Maybe in the next game I'll make everyone play monsters. The simplified writeups would take the emphasis off feats and skills and powers and retraining and items, and make more room for roleplaying, right?

Hello, Opacity-kun! You are so very difficult to see through!

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11 May 2012 - Friday

Everybody likes Friday, Friday goes "Baaaaah".

Joe Golem and the Drowning City (Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden) is fairly short as novels go, even counting the (mostly small) illustrations, but is extremely Mignola-tastic. It would completely fit as a Hellboy side story or something.

Secrets of the Fire Sea is the fourth or so in Stephen Hunt's steampunk series which may or may not be in a far future Earth. This one contains mecha, evil electricity, more details about the strange non-deistic psychohistorical religion, and a strong anti-transhumanist message.

42.9k in Dungeon Raid! And I have almost all the classes up to level 10, so I can give them the right set of cooldowns.

Twelve adorable paws!

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10 May 2012 - Thursday

Marith spurned us for Avengers with her cow orkers, but Dave and I had Thursday Night Anime anyway. It is sad that we never get anyone else, but I guess all our friends are at the stage of life where they never have any free time and if they did, they would use it to sleep. Maybe in another fifteen years.

  • Katanagatari 10: We pretty much had guessed about Shichika's martial art, but it's nice that the creepy and annoying spirit confirmed it.
  • Penguindrum 12: I didn't expect that about their family background at all.
  • Kimi ni Todoke 4-5: Someone needs to either lock the main couple in a closet for a week, or lock blond guy in a closet forever.
  • Red Garden 18: That's not very secretive!

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9 May 2012 - Wednesday

Ganymede (Cherie Priest) is straight-forward steampunk adventure with sky pirates, submarines, and zombies.

New Dungeon Raid high score of 36k! I'm almost to where Dave was with his first game!

Ghirardelli continues to nom his medicine like a good kitty.

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8 May 2012 - Tuesday

Working from home means more sleep, but is still not very productive.

Naturally, once the appointment was made, Ghirardelli began racing around like his old self, but it did not save him. At least this time it was not raining when I lugged him down to the vet.

The vet's conclusion was that it's probably his horrible tongue thing (eosinophilic plaque, technically) giving him problems, so she has prescribed a much higher dosage of prednisalone in hopes of reducing it. Fortunately this is the medicine that comes in a form Ghirardelli likes.

Marith has Mandatory Work Socialization, so we had no Lucifer, but we did have some Danger 5, which was extraordinarily silly.

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7 May 2012 - Monday

Bleah, Monday.

I'm not sure Ghirardelli is eating properly. Meep. I called the advice line and they said to bring him in tomorrow, so I guess tomorrow is a work-from-home day. I care a lot more about Ghirardelli's health than I do about any corporation's analytics jobs.

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6 May 2012 - Sunday

PAD&D4: The fight against the Henyador princess and her demonic/bureaucratic minions took a surprisingly long time. Still, if the princess hadn't made her save against being incapacitated by the defenders' ridiculous attacks, it would have been too short.

Adam has decided to switch characters because his attacks aren't ridiculous enough. He is threatening to turn the owlbear pet of his current character into a PC, which would definitely be more ridiculous.

Ghirardelli is still kind of floppy, although he does wander around the apartment and oppress Marmalade.

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5 May 2012 - Saturday

We took Ja Baby to the art festival and looked at many things and fed her crepes, which seemed to meet with approval. Later, there were pirogies.

BookBuyers took all four bags of books in their entirety. I am teh w1nz0r.

Thursday Night Anime! (Other days may be substituted when Thursday is out of stock.)

  • Katanagatari 9: Togame's life would be so much easier if she could just order him to love her.
  • Kimi ni Todoke II 3: I can't say that these aren't common human failings, but it still feels like the writers had to gratuitously mess things up in order to have a second season.
  • Penguindrum 10-11: We knew everything was connected, but I still didn't expect that.
  • Red Garden 17: Being doomed is very stressful.

Converting monster damage back to standard MM3 levels is easier than increasing it, but still difficult to do while playing Magical Diary. Curse you, Marith!

Ghirardelli is not being very active, but it is pretty warm.

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4 May 2012 - Friday

The Damned Busters (Matthew Hughes) is kind of a strange book, about an Asperger's statistician who gets to fulfill his dream of being a superhero by inadvertantly causing a labor dispute in Hell. It reminds me of some stories from the 50s? 60s? where sane and rational people get mixed up with demons with arbitrary powers that only cause trouble. It is also an examination of the superhero genre, which to no one's surprise would not work that well in real life.

Ah, that's how you get rid of the demerits. And that's the punishment for heroism. Yike.

No, Ghirardelli, do not become Horking Cat!

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3 May 2012 - Thursday

This morning I slept and slept until it was time to wake up and no cats disturbed my rest! (I don't know if they tried; I was asleep!)

Archon (Sabrina Benulis) is goth-tastic and overwrought, but not actually good or anything. It's somewhere between Angel Sanctuary and Anne Bishop's "Black Jewels" books.

Like Seanan McGuire's first series, Discount Armageddon is urban fantasy, but based more on the Weekly World News mythology: rifts to Hell, moth men nesting in the sewers, than sort of thing. Despite a fair amount of violence, it is pretty light-hearted.

Marith has even more extra work, because her cow orkers do not fix the bugs she finds, so we will have Thursday Night Anime on Saturday this week.

This means I should have spent tonight preparing D&D, but instead I played more Magical Diary. I saw several of the endings with the obvious default romance plot, and then started a new game to try to get some of the other plots. I hear getting elected student council treasurer is good, but I can't find a way of getting rid of the demerits you automatically pick up at the start of the game.

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2 May 2012 - Wednesday

Ghirardelli was ahead of schedule again, but not by very much.

The Fourth Wall (Walter Jon Williams) is the sequel to This Is Not A Game and Deep State, but this time we get to see Dagmar and her life from the outside, so we can better appreciate how crazy and scary she is. (Not that the viewpoint character is a paragon of sanity and social normality, but you have to expect that in Hollywood.)

I finished the school year in Magical Diary, but there are plenty of paths I haven't followed.

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1 May 2012 - Tuesday

Ghirardelli decide that he wanted his gooshyfood an hour and a half early today. I didn't give in, but I never got up the energy to unplug from the brain expander and lock him out, so it was not a very restful morning. If he keeps this up, the cats may not get to visit me while I'm sleeping anymore.

The Princess Curse (Merrie Haskell) starts out as a retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", but pulls in elements from other fairy tales to make a complete and coherent story. Plus, it is set in the fictional kingdom of Sylvania — you know, the place that Transylvania is on the other side of.

Dave is back from Abroad! Marith has to work extra, so we couldn't watch Lucifer, but we ate Kabul food and listened to tales of the Western Med. It sounds like Venice has become a complete tourist trap, which is sad.

Instead of increasing monster damage, I could decrease PC hit points (probably reducing the per-level gain rather than applying a flat multiplier). It might be seen as nerfing, though.

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