Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 January 2015 - Saturday

There was no way small children could make the trip, so Ayse had to stay home with them and I went with Ken to his favorite grandfather's memorial service in Santa Barbara for moral support (against the parts of his family he would rather be attending a funeral for).

Santa Barbara is farther away than expected, so we had to make a quick In-N-Out stop in the Greater Pismo Beach Metropolitan Area instead of getting a real lunch, but we did make it to the service on time, and Ken was able to mostly only interact with his non-horrible relatives.

Trying to meet up with Ken's old friend for dinner fell through, so we just took off. On the way back, we stopped at a honkytonk shack in the woods for tri-tip sandwiches. (Yes, today is the day of eating cow meat, but letting Ken pick the food is fine today. (Actually, it rarely turns out poorly.)) Some drunk chick cat-called us, but I'm pretty sure she was looking at Ken.

Having skipped a sit-down dinner, we made it home at a reasonable hour. That was a lot of sitting in a car, but I think it did help Ken to not explode.

Trips and Trips by Ken (Wed Feb 11 14:58:12 2015)

It was very helpful, thank you. And I will point out, as I did then, that she spoke in the plural.

Re: Trips and Trips by Trip (Thu Feb 12 11:27:37 2015)

But only one of us has hair!

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30 January 2015 - Friday

And now, Avalon again! Three times in one week! Hurray! But mostly there was a lot of worrying, because tomorrow I have to do the thing. At least I have clothes to do the thing in.


I vaguely knew that Delia Marshall Turner books other than Nameless Magery existed, but I had never seen one until Powell's yielded up the The Ways of Magic omnibus, which contains not only Nameless Magery but the next book, Of Swords and Spells. It's not a sequel, exactly, but OSaS meets the very end of NM about ¾ of the way through. We get to see the society which sent the Enforcers to annoy the heroine of the first book, and their Sufficiently Advanced Magic, through another peculiar heroine with more strange power than people expect and limited tolerance for parochial customs.


London Falling (Paul Cornell) is sort of in the same genre as the "Rivers of London" books, except that that instead of the London coppers going, "Cool, magic teach me more!" they go "Crap, magic, please don't eat me!". Some of this is because they are starting from scratch both technically and organizationally, but some of it is because magic is a lot less neutral than in "Rivers of London" and may actually be intrinsically malevolent.

You look especially by Avalon (Tue Feb 10 18:37:00 2015)

great in those clothes. Although I hope there are not many occasions to wear them. =)

Re: You look especially by Trip (Thu Feb 12 11:30:46 2015)

Well, a plain black shirt and/or slacks are useful in many situations. Just not summertime in California!

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29 January 2015 - Thursday

But today, no Avalon.


The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Happy Hour in Hell, and Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Tad Williams) are celestial noir. The protagonist is more of a lawyer angel than a PI, but an incorrigibly nosy one, so he gets beat up chasing mysteries that his superiors tell him to leave alone, that his enemies tell him to leave alone, that even his friends tell him to leave alone. At the end, perhaps he knows more than when he started, but maybe not. In any case, the dame is trouble.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlepig is a heartwarming Christmas novella about the same protagonist, with some of the heartwarming replaced by Nazis.


A Plain-Dealing Villain is the fourth book in Craig Schaefer's series about a criminal magician in Las Vegas (or from Las Vegas, since this is the road trip episode). It does have the obligatory cut scene in which we learn that the plot thwarted over the course of the last three books is just a side project of the villains'. Besides Chicago, this episode has theft, betrayal, necromancy, demons, mind control, and a heist.

Winter's Reach is also by Craig Schaefer, but is more tradional secondary-world fantasy, in something like the Italian city-states, complete with papal succession fights. Magic seems to be based entirely on blood sacrifice, which might be why people hate and fear it.

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28 January 2015 - Wednesday

No gaming, Ken is distraught because his favorite grandfather passed away last weekend. 8(

But, more Avalon!


I think Akame ga Kill! (Takahiro, Tetsuya Tashiro) is one of the new hot things, or maybe I'm confusing it with Kill la Kill. Or both! Anyway, as of vol 1 it seems to be pretty straight-forward shounen fantasy with fighting and villains and busty babes. I may not bother to read vol 2.


Twelve paws!

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27 January 2015 - Tuesday

Hurray, Avalonhugs!


Radiance (Grace Draven) is pretty straight-up fantasy romance, although seeing humans as the repulsive Others is always nice.


Cloak (Timothy Zahn) is unquestionably a technothriller, since it hinges on one widget and is otherwise modern spy action. The widget has some limitations that add to plausibility, at least.

=) by Avalon (Fri Jan 30 17:27:38 2015)

=)

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26 January 2015 - Monday

Blargh, Monday.


The Second Mango, Climbing the Date Palm, and A Harvest of Ripe Figs (Shira Glassman) are definitely teen/YA fantasy, fairly light, but with surprising amounts of sex in, and also Judaism (which beats the fake-paganism or fake-Christianity of most fantasy, so no complaints). Also: girl-smooches, boy-smooches, girls diguised as boys, and generally a spectrum of LGBTQness as all young persons should be exposed to.

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25 January 2015 - Sunday

Earl was prepared for a wide variety of approaches the D&D5e PCs might take in tracking down the missing academic(s), but not for what they actually did, which was fumble the tracking rolls completely. Much hilarity ensued.

They were probably destined for the Graveyard Of The Dancing Dead anyway, but this way it was much more surprising when skeletons rose up from beneath the snow and tried to dance them to death. Dain critted his first save against being infected with the Dancing Death, so apparently he's immune to dancing. Zachariah and The Frederick aren't immune, but astonished the skeletons to death with their moves. (Fire and radiant damage might also have been employed.)

After the dance-off, everyone was really out of spells and healing surges, so they hunkered down for a long rest and did not engage the titan cultists out combing the woods for sacrifices.

The new day brought new tracking rolls, and the PCs managed to wind up back in Old Ort arguing over plans. Ella comforted the puppet fighter whose puppet Zachariah and The Frederick had destroyed earlier, gaining some more information about the Snow Witch and her Icy Labyrinth of Frozen Doom and the Tomb of Doubled Coins and the cat-monster that patronized the leader of Old Ort and maybe the titan temple as well. The Frederick, being of a low and criminal bent, got mixed up in another puppet fighter's scheme to steal the fine woolen cloth that gets traded to the Snow Witch for magic items from the Tomb. Since this involved sneaking into the keep where the war moths are kept, and Ella really wanted to see them, everyone else snuck in after The Frederick and his new partner in crime, precipitating the inevitable betrayal (probably not entirely due to the Nail Polish of Ogre Strength & Friendliness) which Zachariah patched over with charm person before anyone got permanently murderized. Since the heist involved selling the cloth to the Snow Witch, and everyone was friends again, onward to the Icy Labyrinth of Frozen Doom!

Also, LEVEL UP!

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24 January 2015 - Saturday

Slack slack slack splat.

We did not finish Parakiss but we got up to episode 7. If Dave is too fried from travel, and we want to push, we could finish next week.

San Juan works better with four players than with two, even though I didn't win.

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23 January 2015 - Friday

Yay! It's Friday!


Twelve paws!

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22 January 2015 - Thursday

Hurray, it's an Avalon! But not the sort of Avalon who will ever forget ill-considered remarks.


The manga of Paradise Kiss (Yazawa Ai) mostly seems to follow the same plot as the anime, but I am deeply suspicious of the early Tokyopop translation.


The future of House Immortal (Devon Monk) is divided neatly up by industry, which makes pretty much no sense for humans, but it has stitched-together immortals powered by electricity from the 19th century and also romance and mysterious mystery.

Memories by Avalon (Fri Jan 23 20:40:06 2015)

I remember considered ones too. =)

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21 January 2015 - Wednesday

I am still terrible at gaming, but apparently pretty good at eating edamame. Anyway, the 13th Age PCs successfully made it to the heart of the living dungeon without either betraying or being betrayed by the dwarven mercenaries, and killed the statue of the Spider Queen and her little dragon too. Now they just have to get out through the hordes of undead and goblins between them and sunlight, and then people can betray each other over the loot. (Remember, according to the Dwarf King, all underground treasure is rightfully dwarven!)


Not all the stories in Fungi (ed Orrin Grey, Silvia Moreno-Garcia) are Lovecraftian horror, but they are in fact all about fungi or fungus monsters. Some of them are even good!

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20 January 2015 - Tuesday

Work. Date night with Avalon. Viewing of Avalon's baby cousin, who will probably not transform into a ghoul later in life.


A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark (Harry Connolly) is billed as pacifist urban fantasy, and so it is. Reasoned discussion and moral suasion don't always work, but the numerous people who use violence come off even worse.


A while back, Evil hat kickstarted a bunch of novels in their Spirit of the Century universe from various authors, and the one by world-reknowned author C E Murphy, Stone's Throe is now available!

Imagine Batman as a black woman in Paris in 1938, running around with Josephine Baker.


"Ancient Indian magic" doesn't seem like a good excuse for the supernatural (for a variety of reasons), but Of A Feather (Ken Goldman) is nevertheless full of creepy bird stuff. Swarm attack FTW!


The Sun Below: City on the Edge is a third-party adventure for Numenera, which feels somewhat pulpish, possibly because of how the PCs are supposed to interact with the decadent lost city. Or maybe I just don't understand how Numenera is supposed to work.


Twelve paws!

Probably not by Avalon (Thu Jan 22 18:10:01 2015)

I think she is pretty much human...unlike some of my other cousins. =)

Re: Probably not by Trip (Sun Jan 25 17:56:16 2015)

They look human until they start to transform in middle age!

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19 January 2015 - Monday

Even knocking off gaming early isn't like getting a lot of sleep.


For unclear reasons, probably related to my terminal lack of organization with respect to files from the Internets, it took until now to transfer Harry Connolly's new series onto my iPad and read them.

The Way Into Chaos, The Way Into Magic, and The Way Into Darkness are not quite as awesome as the "Twenty Palaces" books, but still pretty swell. The threat was unusual, the world was interesting, and there were no romantic subplots shoehorned in.

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18 January 2015 - Sunday

Super-lethargy powers... ACTIV— eh, maybe later.


But oh no, Bryn has to drop out of Fading Suns to conserve creativity for her actual work! And Kyle might want to spend those Sunday nights with her, so we might be down two people out of five, which just doesn't work.

We played Castle Ravenloft and despite being on the edge of getting wiped out for the whole game, slew the dracolich.

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17 January 2015 - Saturday

No Parakiss even though Dave is gone, because it is time for New Year's Eve (Observed) with exciting fondue! Om nom nom!


Pantomime and Shadowplay (Laura Lam) win because the protagonist is not on the gender binary. However, the more important the protagonist becomes to everything, the less I'm interested in the story, or maybe in the setting.


Twelve paws that get no fondue!

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16 January 2015 - Friday

Hurray for Avalon! Boo for Avalon's horrible work environment!


The Darkest Part of the Forest is faerie-tale-tastic, because it's by Holly Black. Princes in glass coffins, hollow hills, cryptic bargains, artistic talent, the whole seven yards.


Sky Pirates of the Rio Grande (Paul D Batteiger) is straight-up smut. There is some sort of steampunk supervillain background, but only as an excuse for a naked tigergirl riding a dinosaur.


Twelve paws!

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15 January 2015 - Thursday

I read some fairly terrible self-published-on-Amazon books by P S Power. I'd say it was so you don't have to, but you never had to to begin with.


Twelve paws.

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14 January 2015 - Wednesday

Cough. Cough. Splat. I ended up sleeping for 89634586235 hours, after which I felt significantly better, but not very energetic. Bleagh. Fortunately, work didn't explode without me.


In the evening, I and my tiny brain trundled off to Monkeycat Towers for 13th Age. We had to send Dave's character off to rouse the townsfolk, leaving only three of us to fight the Flint Spiders and Flint Ettercaps and whatever you call those things in the living dungeon of the story about the 10th Age Spider Queen getting shanked by the Kobold Lord.

Also, pot roast with pot roasted vegetables!


The Get-Away God (Richard Kadrey) finishes the story of cosmic disaster that started in Sandman Slim. The protagonist and his remaining peeps come out of it pretty well, considering the amount of doom involved.


Collectanea Creaturae (Monsters & Magic edition) has somewhat unusual takes on some monsters, like kobolds being actual mine faeries instead of dragon wannabes, and actual information on the animals, but otherwise is what you'd expect.

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13 January 2015 - Tuesday

Cough. Cough.


Yay, finally it's Avalon! But she is sad from horrible life stress. 8(

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12 January 2015 - Monday

I hate doing performance reviews. But it would be worse if I were a manager, I'm sure!


No Avalon, only scheduling doom.


Girl on a Wire (Gwenda Bond) is probably not modern fantasy, but many of the characters are convinced that it is. It is definitely full of circustasticness, including running away from the circus to join the circus.

A Call to Duty (David Weber, Timothy, Zahn) is in the backstory of the "Honor Harrington" universe, when the Virtuous Monarchy was just getting started and wasn't sure it was able to afford a space navy. Also, villainous space pirates.

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11 January 2015 - Sunday

Dave is gone, but we played D&D5e again anyway. Our bold academics grad students and staff avoided getting arrested, encountered and (ahem) befriended some puppet fighters, discovered that the missing person was looking for coins with four sides, infiltrated a wretched hive of scum and villainy, fought a pit match against a really nasty puppet (that they probably only won by cheating) to get their missing person back, heard about the erase person spell and the Remembered Temple, got mugged by a snowman, and were betrayed and left for dead by the person they rescued. In two weeks, we track her down and make her give our token faculty member back!


No Avalon, only plague.

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10 January 2015 - Saturday

Slothingu, slothingu, la la la!


I will tell you about the new anime I checked out on Crunchyroll so you don't have to experience it yourself.

  • The Testament of Sister New Devil: Shounen combat and jiggling. There are only two female characters so far, but it will probably be a harem show.
  • Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-: Also harem, one boy in the otherwise female Make A Romance Sim Game club.
  • KanColle: This is in the same subgenre as Strike Witches, but slightly less pants-averse and naval instead of aerial.
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!: A pink wombat appears to a group of students at an all-boys high school and drafts them to fight evil with the power of love and cheesy pinkness. I want to say something about gender, but I don't know what, and it would probably be overanalyzing it.

No regular anime because Dave is gone, so we played some Dominion and watched some Paradise Kiss. People who have read the manga were bemused by the directorial choices, which seem to mostly distance the characters. I can't compare to the manga, but I agree that showing the passion for fashion seems like it should be central.


The Siren Depths (Martha Wells) is the third "Raksura" book, and the end of the story arc in that the Fell threat has been explicated and resolved. There are a probably literally-infinite number of stories remaining to be told in that world, though.


Numerous paws!

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9 January 2015 - Friday

Hurray! I'm not on call any more! Of course Avalon is busy tonight and tomorrow night, but maybe someday...

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8 January 2015 - Thursday

Argh, stupid customers! Why do you call when I am trying to have date night with Avalon?

Yes... by Avalon (Fri Jan 9 21:14:22 2015)

But oh well saving the world of customer solutions can be quite sexy...

Re: Yes... by Trip (Mon Jan 12 08:46:25 2015)

But it does not allow time for doing anything with that sexiness!

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7 January 2015 - Wednesday

After the Holiday Gaming Drought, we have 13th Age again! As usual, I was terrible, but we did finish the murder mystery plotline, level up, and get mugged by goblins on the way to Ken's adventure. Apparently they wanted to sell our necromancer to the Orc Lord, something up with which we will not put! Anwe got to look impressive because she got three crits in four rounds of combat.


More long-awaited books that came out this week:

Unbound (Jim C Hines) is the conclusion of the "Magic Ex Libris" trilogy, in which many things are resolved despite the main character being (justifiably) seriously depressed after the events of the previous book. Fortunately his girlfriend's other sweetie is a therapist, and the guy he stole his car from is willing to kick him in the ass. Also, doooooooom.

Firefight (Brandon Sanderson) is the sequel to Steelheart, in which we find out more about where the supervillains come from, and maybe about how they work. Based on the title of the next book, this one is probably the middle book of a trilogy, where plot twists are introduced and also there is smooching (which may be a plot twist in itself). I can't say that Sanderson is a great writer, but I have to approve of books where the theme is figuring things out.

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6 January 2015 - Tuesday

What, no Avalon?! Perfidy and outrage!


The new "PC Peter Grant" book, Foxglove Summer (Ben Aaronovitch), is out! But I had to practice delayed gratification by rereading the previous one, Broken Homes.

FS does continue the plot thread from the end of BH, but very much as a B plot. The main plot is not related to that or really to much in previous books, except Beverly and a little Molly, so I don't think it's the strongest of the five so far. Hopefully the plot threads from this book will continue onward to make Peter's life even more doom-filled.

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5 January 2015 - Monday

Twelve paws, and sixteen breaths per minute!


The Code of the Space-Lanes has no RPGGeek link, and that's okay, because it doesn't really have any merits. Simple simulationist systems are a dime a dozen and don't do anything to illuminate a genre.


The Academy: Book One (Chad Leito) is firmly in the "teenager discovers the secret stuff and goes to secret school" genre, but it's not a well-done example. It does get points for being nominally not magic, but the technology is a bit silly.

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4 January 2015 - Sunday

Earl pretended that we aren't too lame to game with long enough to start running D&D5e for the Palo Alto crowd. (Dave is back in between travelling, but sleepless enough to not want to run the end of Immortal Empire just now.) So far, our expeditionary team from the Temple University of Athena has found snow, sheep, unwise magic, snow, zombies, cowardly and superstitious halfling bandits, dogs, and snow. Next week: a town! I predict more snow.

D&D5e is about like I expected from reading the PHB. We need to figure out more about when advantage and disadvantage apply, but otherwise it's pretty straightforward. I might like 13th Age more.

Fantasy adventure still seems to be a big favorite as a genre.


Speaking of which, Wandering Monsters High School is pretty much TFOS, only with D&D monsters instead of aliens. It is by the same person who is doing The Queen's Cavaliers, so the system is similar but even simpler.

Less-published games I have read recently include the partially-complete beta of Pirate World (Dungeon World plus sea monsters and demon empires and goblins that eat gunpowder) and an early playtest version of Breakfeast Cult (like SCOOS but with a coherent background and excuse for magic, using Fate Accelerated). Both look like they will be pretty swell when finished.

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3 January 2015 - Saturday

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica 10-12: Ayse was actually surprised (pleasantly) by the ending, which made us all happy because it doesn't happen very often.
  • Chihayafuru 17-18: Re-establishing character after the mid-season recap, plus endurance training for a card game.

We were going to watch the end of Korra book II, but then customers attacked. Aaarrrgh!


Uresia: Grave of Heaven is S John Ross's mostly-atheistic low-grimness anime-inspired RPG setting. It's more coherent than Slayers, but on the other hand, it has catgirls, full-contact cooking contests, pirates, dungeons, snow golems, secret elven martial arts, an entire kingdom of villains trying to go straight, and magical mystery.

A shorter version of Uresia was published as a supplement for BESM, but this is the completely system-free version. Naturally, I thought about 13th Age, but there isn't a natural fit for the Icons. Maybe Dungeon World...? (Because Changeling World isn't enough to flail incompetently enough at.)


Although explicitly based on the Vietnam War, Of Bone and Thunder (Chris Evans) is straight-up fantasy. The dragons act like dragons, not like helicopters, etc. It has the elements essential to at least fiction about Vietnam, though: stand-up troops skulking through the jungle with experimental gear trying to fight suicidally-determined guerillas while on drugs. Also amoral spies and dwarves that just leveled up from slaves to oppressed underclass. And dragons.

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2 January 2015 - Friday

Blargh, back to work. And I don't even get to stop being on call.


Project Maigo and Project 731 (Jeremy Robinson) continue the dooooooom from Project Nemesis and Island 731. Toward the end it gets kind of over the top (yes, compared to hundred-meter-tall monsters stomping all over Boston) and the naming gets lamer, but I suppose it's not really a change of genre.

Needs more catgirl.

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1 January 2015 - Thursday

Holy crap, it's the future! Again! Still no spaceships or catgirls, but at least there are robot servants to help with my eight loads of laundry.


Breathless and Trembling (V J Chambers) started off amusing from the whole "what if the messiah and the antichrist fell in love?" premise and the wacky town, but ran out of novelty. I do not think there is any need to read the other N books.

Despite the premise, there is not any overt supernatural activity. Neither side has any more support than religious fanatics do in the real world.

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