Previously, in Trip's Life...

28 February 2015 - Saturday

No brain!

  • Martian Successor Nadesico 4-5: Doooom! And wacky new characters, all at the same time!
  • Tiger & Bunny 24-25: The triumpant finale! But there is definitely room for movies and stuff, even without going to the next generation.
  • Okamikakushi 4-5: The visual novel visuals are not as obnoxious, but the creepy characters are still creepy, and also doomed.
  • Chihayafuru 23: Next year, for sure!

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27 February 2015 - Friday

City of the Iron Fish (Simon Ings) is definitely New Weird, with a squalid vaguely-historical city, dubious magic, uncertainty about the nature of reality, sordid sex, and art. On the other hand, it also has a non-sexual male/female friendship, which is not something you see every volume.

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26 February 2015 - Thursday

It's not as weird as FLCL, but Assassination Classroom (Yusei Matsui) is pretty darn weird. An alien with a smily-face head and Japanese-Martian octopus body destroys the moon, takes over the worst class in a fancy middle school, and threatens to destroy the Earth in a year if none of its students can kill it before then. Arguably all the other weirdness is a legitimate reaction to that, even the heart-warming weirdness.

Grave Matters (Lauren M Roy) is the sequel to Night Owls, the further adventures of a small circle of vampires, monster-hunting mages, and hapless bookstore clerks who get caught up in secret supernatural shenanigans.

Twelve paws! Sixteen respirations per minute!

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25 February 2015 - Wednesday

Ken decided that the nominally-level-appropriate challenges we've been giving the 13th Age PCs are too wimpy, and found a published module in which the PCs are sent to steal something from one of the 15 most powerful creatures in the world. Specifically, Anwë is sent, apparently in the hopes that she will die and her title and estates will become available for more deserving elves, or maybe just for the fun of watching her squirm.

So far they've found a demon-infested castle surrounded by a moat of bugs, which is at the location the only other person known to have gotten into the Necropolis vaults was last seen. The demons are only a little above the PCs' level, so apparently they will get dragged in deeper before being eaten.

The Mirror Prince and Shadowlands (Violette Malan) are fairly standard fantasy with elves from elfland sometimes secretly living among humans as part of their elvish plots to take the throne or feed their enemies to the Wild Hunt or whatever. There is a romance subplot, but pretty much no sex. I had not previously seen this take on the Wild Hunt, though.

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24 February 2015 - Tuesday

Something Coming Through (Paul McAuley) is kind of an out-of-context-solution book, like Constellation Games. The aliens really do seem to have humanity's best interests at heart, but humans can't deal with that and are compelled to screw things up even more to compensate. Fortunately(?), mechanisms like nationaly security and organized crime (of a somehow distinctively British flavor) are already in place to screw up the lives of hapless free-lance sociologists and dedicated police detectives.

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23 February 2015 - Monday

Shutter (Courtney Alameda) is urban fantasy about a teenaged ghost-hunter whose weapon of choice is a camera loaded with silver-based film -- it turns out taking pictures of someone does steal their soul, at least if they're dead. There is also a romance subplot, a mysterious monster of mystery, and a father of pretty low quality.

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22 February 2015 - Sunday

In this fortnight's episode of "Forgetting the Remembered Tomb", our heroes researchers discover that there are a lot more kobolds (there are always more kobolds!) with good communications and a fortified base to go with their air support when another squad finds their new camp and The Frederick has to crush their champion in single combat. This is an obvious threat to their quest to find Beryl and whatever is left of Damson, and possibly even to all mammalian civilization in the region, so they use the Scales of Texting liberated from the squad leaders to lure out kobold squads until that stops working, then lure out all the remaining forces in an unassailable platoon with air cover and sneak in through the out tunnels to take the tower behind them. This requires putting down the kobold smith (imagine Thor from Adventures in Babysitting as a kobold), freeing the fire serpent trapped in the forge, defeating the kobold home guard, murderizing the kobold queen despite her ice magic and impressive feather headdress, and finally jumping the dragon and its airborne commando squad as they busted in to defend the queen. Academic permanent casualties: zero!

Level UP! Third level gets Zach 2nd-level spell slots instead of 1st (but still only two per battle) and a set of equations that translate to three cantrips from other classes. Sadly, the only ones that seem really useful are attacks with damage types the party doesn't already have a lot of. I guess that's D&D for you.

Finally they found the Remembered Tomb, surrounded by Astraea cultists doing archaeological work and walking their jackals. Beryl is there, so they sneak in to rescue her, but but she just gives them a mysterious scroll and tells them to get out and never come back. They back off into the woods aways, out of patrol range, and check out the scroll. The dwarf and the gnome see it as ever-changing incomprehensible text (which remains ever-changing even when copied to another sheet), but the elf and half-elf see it as blank. Eventually they figure out that it must be dream-writing, invisible to creatures that don't sleep, so Ella curls up with the scroll and goes to sleep thinking about it.

In the world of dreams, Ella turns into a faerie dragon (not something she would normally be able to do for many levels yet), and uses her ability to suppress the reflex to reflect visible light (apparently she's actually a fey dragon[*]) to sneak into the Tomb. She found a bunch of cultists who seemed to exist in both realms at once, Beryl who had something wrong with her but was not yet fully enlightened, Damson's halfling self, and a huge stone tablet of ever-changing text.

[*] Maybe a half a dozen people will get this joke, and I think only one reads this.

Next session, we will definitely... do something.

Twelve paws!

One girlfriend!

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21 February 2015 - Saturday

Gadgeteers are kind of a pain to do in HERO, but they are fun to read about, even if they use PRE as their dump stat like the protagonist of No Master Plan Here (Joel Burdick) obviously did. Well, and maybe common sense, but people with that don't usually become supervillains anyway.

  • Chihayafuru 21-22: It's not a real sport until you're risking unconsciousness on the playing field? Or er something.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico 3: Oh the silliness. Or er something.
  • Tiger & Bunny 22-23: It's not a real deathtrap without spikes! Or er something.
  • Okamikakushi 3: I didn't really notice until Ayse pointed it out, but the direction (it's not really cinematography, is it?) of this is very visual-novel like. On the other hand, it still looks like creepy citrus-powered werewolves. Or er something.

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20 February 2015 - Friday

The Sleeping God, The Soldier King, The Storm Witch, and Path of the Sun (Violette Malan) are the beginning of a series about a pair of terrifying mercenaries and the political and magical intrigue they keep getting mixed up in. The setting is not unusual, but it's nice to see characters who have an established partnership, rather than the drama of, "Does he like me? Do I like him? Am I too badass for love? What if he's secretly a werewolf?". Over the course of four books, their partnership is sometimes strained, but rarely actually broken, despite the really large amounts of intrigue.

Stories of the Raksura vol 1 (Martha Wells) is just what it says on the tin: short stories about the raksura peoples from The Cloud Roads/The Serpent Sea/The Siren Depths, some about the main characters of those books and others not.

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19 February 2015 - Thursday

My, tumblr really is full of things.

Things by Jeremy (Sat Feb 28 18:30:47 2015)

Sure 'nuff!

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18 February 2015 - Wednesday

I don't think this week's game went as well as last week's, even though there was combat. Specifically, I don't think I handled the Secret Joint Emperor-High Druid Project right. Even though no one official told them anything, they should have been able to grill the workers, or have someone from one side or the other contact them to try to defect/smuggle out a message/sell mysterious artifacts. Bah!

I should have made the hellhole more terrifying too, even though it was really more of a hell-pimple. Double bah!

Twelve paws!

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17 February 2015 - Tuesday

Magical Burst is more or less Puella Magi Madoka Magica the RPG (a superset, really). Magical Fury is sort of a light version of that, in both rules and tone, although it is definitely still possible for magical girls and/or their world to be doomed. Just not as completely doomed as Madoka.

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16 February 2015 - Monday

The Ninth World Guidebook is a pile of new setting stuff for Numenera, along the same lines as what's in the core book but about surrounding (or otherwise adjacent) regions. Weird sites, weird NPCs, weird monsters, weird artifacts.

Tales from the Strange vol 1 (Bruce R Cordell, Monte Cook, Shanna Germain) is just that, a few short stories in the setting of The Strange. They are not overwhelmingly outstanding, but one makes it a little more clear what that Spark percentage in the recursion writeups means.

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15 February 2015 - Sunday

No gaming today, only lethargy

I finished Maoyu, which sadly does not have a great ending, but was good up until that point. I feel sorry for the princess of the fire dragon people, but I'm sure things will work out.

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14 February 2015 - Saturday

I finally read all five volumes of Paradise Kiss (Yazawa Ai), since we have failed to watch all the anime. The ending was not really surprising after what we have watched, though. Also it seems very 90s shoujo, because well.

But we are watching anime!

  • Martian Successor Nadesico 1-2: I hadn't remembered how they leap right into the wackiness, but they do.
  • Tiger & Bunny 21: A traditional tactic for that kind of supervillain, but very effective.
  • Okamikakushi 1-2: Look, an isolated town with a dreadful secret! But it does not appear to be a Higurashi imitation, as some feared.
  • Chihayafuru 20: Train! Train like the wind!

Kiss by Avalon (Thu Feb 26 17:57:28 2015)

I have never seen that but I have some idea about paradise kissing... =)

Re: Kiss by Trip (Mon Mar 2 08:32:01 2015)

Hee hee!

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13 February 2015 - Friday

Hey, cool, it's Friday!

Broken Mirrors and Broken Lords (AF Dery) are fantasy romance, although a little odd. The male lead is an extremely ugly mutant and has a [SPOILER] in the basement, the female lead has the magic(?) power of taking other people's pain but there is no overt BDSM element (or any overt sexy bits, really), there is a random talking pig. Drama and political intrigue ensue.

Twelve paws!

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12 February 2015 - Thursday

Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf (LG Estrella) is pretty much what it says on the tin. The elf is a homicidal maniac, one of the necromancers is ten, and the bureaucrat is a high-level wizard, but what did you expect?

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11 February 2015 - Wednesday

Apparently I still suck at making D&D adventures, because the only combat tonight was against individual pigeons. ("Pigeon-Tackler", a deed-name for the ages.) They did manage to get to the point of being ready to ambush the ambushers, at least.

In Stranded on Haven (William Zellmann), a random schmoe who is the only survivor of a sabotaged starship is stranded at a low-tech-level colony and tries to improve things without either being mugged for his starship or taking over the planet. He is awfully competent for a random schmoe, but he does do sensible things, like accept that an entire planet of really smart people are going to be trying to swipe his starship and he probably can't outwit all of them, so he must plan accordingly. There are many hot babes.

Sunbolt (Intisar Khanani) is not super-original fantasy, but it's at least (mostly) non-European fantasy, and has a Masked Avenger.

combat against individual pigeons by marith (Mon Feb 23 21:32:52 2015)

You realize that a Hatoful Boyfriend combat system is just waiting for you to invent it, don't you.

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10 February 2015 - Tuesday

The Burn Zone and Fallout (James K Decker) are pretty much cyberpunk in China, plus helpful friendly shipwrecked aliens that an unfortunate window-washer finds out are more alien than they appear. Maybe even more alien than that.

The Skyscrape is a third-party Numenera adventure/site for exploration. It is okay, and there is some weirdness, but the technological remains of the flying city are a little too comprehensible for proper Numenera, I feel.

Hot Lead, Cold Iron (Ari Marmell) is a PI vs gangsters in the depths of Prohibition-era Chicago, except this PI is an exile from the Seelie Court. He seems limited to mind and luck magic (IE, completely deniable) but the villains are not so limited. Life is hard when you're a PI in gangtown.

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9 February 2015 - Monday

Yucky yucky Monday.

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8 February 2015 - Sunday

I think we disappointed Earl by not trying to mug the... perfected True Neutral hag creature? for her magic item of knowledge, but she was too scary. It seemed pretty clear she could drop us into the lake under her Icy Labyrinth of Doom and pop the ice back over us, and at second level we can neither survive drowning and freezing nor teleport through solid ice. She did give up a few clues about Damson's discovery of a way to connect people with their "other selves", but mostly we were too scared to bargain for information. I think I probably played that wrong.

When the bandit leader showed up to retrieve his stolen cloth, we defeated him and his giant fire-resistant puppet El Monstro (where by "we" I mean "the members of the party who hit and do more than minimum damage") and were able to swap his head for a little more information about the Remembered Tomb.

Next time, the dungeon crawl for sure! And then we'll be able to use our 3rd-level powers to get the Ioun Disco Ball of Knowledge.

Hurray, Avalon!

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7 February 2015 - Saturday

Reduced anime because we were so slow getting started. But we think the lost art of conversation went that way!

  • Chihayafuru 18-19: Crushed! Like a bug!
  • Tiger & Bunny 20: Insidious villainy is the best kind!
  • Legend of Korra season II 11-12: Virtue triumphs again! And surely blowing up the spirit prison won't have any repercussions.

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6 February 2015 - Friday

Karen Memory (Elizabeth Bear) is steampunk Wild West, without dwelling on the technology. It's not like it's unusual to the protagonist that the "sewing machine" in the back room is a powered exoskeleton. (I say "protagonist" because there are quite a few characters who qualify as heroines, and a couple more who count as heroes.) The protagonist is a prostitute, but there is not really anything prurient in the book; certainly not the romance subplot. However, villainy is thwarted, and smooches are had.

Karen Memory by marithlizard (Thu Feb 19 09:38:34 2015)

Oh I read the excerpt of that along with its Big Idea column, but forgot to mention it to you. But you read it anyways!

(It seems well-written and entertaining and I like the protagonist's voice, but then I got a bit depressed thinking about how much I want killer robots with flamethrowers.)

Karen Memory by Trip (Mon Feb 23 11:19:45 2015)

It did not actually make me want flamethrowers. Single-target attacks would have sufficed. 8)

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5 February 2015 - Thursday

Prophecy (Ellen Oh) is set in fantasy-faux-Korea, with a heroine whose demon-slaying powers make her way too butch for her society. Unfortunately it also has an Ancient Prophecy, which has pretty much been done, even the variations like "maybe it's not talking about who you think".

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4 February 2015 - Wednesday

Finally we made our daring escape from Ken's horrible living dungeon (which was not that bad as living dungeons go), which involved fighting through a mosh pit of undead while the corridor collapsed behind them and then running back through all the traps they montaged through on the way down. Surely the spider-minotaur that came out with them will not return as an enemy in future episodes.

Since we did not use all our plot tokens to control the Seething Sphere of Ancient Energy, it turned out that some of the stuff we brought out was magic items! In addition to the amulet that lets her pretend nothing happened if she makes a surprise attack and misses, Anwe now has a belt that lets her fit into any normal social situation. It's almost like she has things that would be useful for a professional spy.

Graveyard Sparrow (Kayla Bashe) has a plot, something about Victorian psychometry and medical ethics and serial killers, but it is not well-written enough to have any point except the girl-smooches.

In Hero Years... I'm Dead (Michael A Stackpole) is prose superheroics, or maybe just heroics, since a lot of the costumed crusaders are well-trained normals. The protagonist is back in town after being away for twenty years, and finds that almost nothing has improved. (Apparently this is where Revenant, from PS238, comes from.)

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3 February 2015 - Tuesday

Tales from the Nightside (Simon R Green) is exactly what it says on the tin. Aside from sometimes being from other PoVs, Nightside short stories are very much like Nightside novels, only shorter.

Dark Intelligence (Neal Asher) follows on pretty directly from The Technician, but with more of the terrifying AI Penny Royal and its transcendant maneuverings. Also, horrifying transformations, memory alteration, and disgusting bug monsters.

Numerous paws!

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2 February 2015 - Monday

Blah, work. At least I am not being flogged daily like Avalon (or flogging myself daily like Marith).

I like Jonathan L Howard's "Johannes Cabal" books quite a bit, but Katya's World and Katya's War were only okay. Perhaps he is just better suited to comic fantasy than to serious YA space adventure, even with submarine pirates.

February Thaw (Tanya Huff) is a collection of short pieces, none of which really stood out much to me.

Warship (Joshua Dalzelle) starts with a disgraced captain being given the oldest, crappiest ship in the fleet, which also happens to be the only one with anything resembling weapons because in the Dark Future of Warship, There is Only Peace™. Then aliens attack and it all goes downhill from there. I don't think the author really grasps space combat velocities and energies, though.

Earl recommended Poor Man's Fight (Elliott Kay) as being okay, and indeed, it was okay military SF of the "young human with no prospects joins the Space Navy and becomes a hero" type. With space pirates! (In fact, a lot of the book is from the PoV of a somewhat similar young human who becomes a space pirate, so we can appreciate the democratic villainy.) The protagonist is pretty badass, but I think that's meant to show how poor the pirates are at anything except terrorizing hapless civilians.

hey now by marith (Thu Feb 12 14:30:00 2015)

You make me sound like Judge Turpin, or as though I'm in a rather different sort of profession :)

Your Xmas present just arrived! Muhahaha!

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1 February 2015 - Sunday

Today I did pretty much nothing at all.

In The Severed Streets (Paul Cornell), the coppers from London Falling discover many more things in the course of thwarting evil magic, include what can only be described as an Appalling Secret.

Any time two people get shanked in London, there has to be a Jack the Ripper tie-in, but it was reasonably well-done this time. Also, Neil Gaiman stars as a secondary character, which is just weird.

Twelve paws!

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