Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 May 2015 - Sunday

Work. Also, customers. And brainlessness.

I made the 13th Age PCs wander through some more concretely-described dungeon locations and undead and hungry stars to get to the climactic confrontation with the creepy person in the dark. I think it went okay, even though I killed hardly any of them very much and had to push off the actual fight to next week.

In PAD&5, we had no Dave because he ran off to Yosemite with Marith, but I ran his character in the fights. The PCs found the correct Cow Lady (stupid squirrels and their inability to distinguish humanoids) just as the Equalists did and helped her defeat the Equalist squad and the oldest Daughter of the Revolution with her robot pony and magic butterflies, but The Frederick was trapped on the Ethereal Plane when Rose retreated. Fortunately he had his Stone of Texting, and was able to take selfies of himself climbing the chains that led from every major tree to the giant mechanism in the city and thence to the moon, so Zach did not have to actually strangle him. He also met Kamala, Zach's erstwhile Hot Librarian fling, who was revealed to be an inspiration-eating succubus last episode, but this time claimed to also be a daughter of the king's cursed bastard daughter -- princesses all around!

Zach's Charisma is way higher than either his Wis or his Int, so he was able to talk the Hera-Touched priestess out of the password to the river elemental, get all hopped on moon dust without Kamala around to steal his good ideas, and come up with the plan of getting the local mutant beavers to divert the river and cut off the city's moondust supply. The Frederick, in disguise as a stinky person of strong back and slow mind, went with the Equalist response party, but even when he attacked from behind with the Terror of Sword-Dancing, his future flame Amaryllis the hobgoblin officer and the middle Revolutionary Daughter Amethyst were able stomp the PCs. (It was all my fault because I rolled three consecutive failures on an easy Con save for Dain to get unparalyzed and heal someone before we all got flattened.) Next session, they can wake up in chains and get ranted at by high-level Equalist NPCs!

Yay Avalon!

That is all you are cleared for.


The middle-aged geek hero of Polychrome (Ryk E Spoor) seems a little too obviously a stand-in for the author, but hey, who doesn't want to save Oz from evil mages and smooch a rainbow spirit?

Earl recommended Zero Sum Gam and Half Life (SL Huang) a while back, but I was inexplicably not competent enough to read them until now. Why did I wait? Everything is better with cognition-based superpowers, even if it's antiheroes and supervillains all the way down. Bonus points for [SPOILER] and [SPOILER], and where is the next book?!

The eponymous heroine of Atlanta Burns (Chuck Wendig) starts the book with the reputation "used a shotgun to castrate a guy trying to rape her", which gives other semi-sane teenagers in the gay-bashing, animal-torturing, Nazi-infested, redneck hell of central Pennsylvania an impression of her abilities that she thinks is inflated. But, as it turns out, she does get things done despite self-medicating her PTSD and having to parent her mother. Allegedly the first book of a series, and hope springs.

The City's Son (Tom Pollock) is a YA example of the "secret magical London" trope that is common enough to be its own subgenre these days. I blame Neil Gaiman. Anyway, this is relatively interesting magic and adversaries, but the next books better give the WoC sidekick something better to do than get abused, or ninjas may have to visit the author.

I liked The Burning Dark (Adam Christopher) well enough, but despite being a fairly direct sequel, The Machine Awakes was just not as creepy. The mean-free-path-length of the PCs between horror encounters was too long.

I suppose in many ways The Ancient Magus' Bride vol 1 (Kore Yamazaki) is fairly standard manga of the "young Japanese girl cast among magical foreigners" subgenre, but how often do you see a potential romantic hero with a giant monster skull for a head? Also, the heroine is a lot like the hero of Natsume's Book of Friends, except she doesn't have any relatives who aren't complete bastards. Plus, although it is nominally set in modern England, the Cats of Ulthar!

I picked up The Grendel Affair (Lisa Shearin) from the library because the author is a friend of Kit's, but like the work of other friends of Kit (hi!), it Iz Not So Grate. At least, the multi-page infodump of the heroine's backstory at the very beginning was not well done. The rest was pretty standard urban fantasy action.

Atlanta Burns by Carl (Fri Jun 26 20:31:09 2015)

Have you read Shotgun Gravy novella and Bait Dog novel about Atlanta Burns, by Chuck Wendig?

Re: Atlanta Burns by Trip (Mon Jun 29 11:26:30 2015)

I believe those are the first two sections of the novel.

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25 May 2015 - Monday

Memorial Day! This weekend, Ken was at Kublacon running Dungeon World and 13th Age, but I was not cool enough, so I went to Roseville with Ayse and Jus and Nonni and Dave. Everyone else in the Bay Area wanted to go toward Sacramento too, but according to the Internets we still had a better time of it than the population of Sacramento (who all wanted to go to the Bay Area).

Without Ken, we couldn't play existing campaigns, and didn't have critical mass to start any new ones, but we tried out Dominion: Adventures (attack cards still suck) and 7 Wonders with leaders (I still suck) and ate grilled food and Chinese food and sought the lost art of conversation and swam. Also, kidshriekens.

There was also no gaming on Wednesday, because Ken was anniverserating with Ayse and/or stressing about running con games, and Mike had the plague.


Two Serpents Rise and Full Fathom Five (Max Gladstone) are indeed not quite as over-the-top as Three Parts Dead, but quite awesome nevertheless.

I had forgotten about the sudden switch from comedy to splatterpunk and marital discord at the end of The Rhesus Chart (Charles Stross). Oh the doom. And the other doom. And the violin-based doom. Why is the next book not out yet?!

Robopocalypse (Daniel H Wilson) is at a much lower tech level than Eclipse Phase, just a few years ahead of now, but otherwise seems a lot like the rise of the TITANs would have been. I was not impressed by the superintelligent AI in the end, though.

Flight of the Godkin Griffin and The Godson's Triumph Griffin (MCA Hogarth) are fantasy with an excuse for multiple interfertile races that is not exactly what it seems, and also great personal hardship for the heroine, to go with her unwanted great magical and temporal power. Overall she deals pretty well, though, and only exterminates the truly deserving.

Spots the Space Marine (also MCA Hogarth) is the story of a not-even-slightly hapless mother who gets called up as a reservist for the war against insectile aliens, and irrevocably alters history with her moral suasion and non-military common sense.

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17 May 2015 - Sunday

Weekly summary time!

My boss was understanding about the thing taking forever to debug, and the customer will do a stop-gap thing until it is ready.

13th Age went okay, although the players may be confused more by the incoherence of my backstory than by any legitimate mystery. They only got as far as the Giant Pit of Bottomless Doom, so we'll have to conclude next week.

No anime, because Ken is sick and Marith cannot afford to risk illness at any time she is working for her current employers.

No D&D5, because Earl is sick.

I have been reading MCA Hogarth books, which I kind of like even though I'm not sure anyone else would. They have definite flaws as SF, but lots of angst. Also, catgirls.

I reread Three Parts Dead (Max Gladstone), and it is still awesome, although knowing the twist ahead of time does detract a little. It seems much more over-the-top than the later ones, almost as though the author had to clean up the worldbuilding a bit, but maybe I am misremembering. There is only one way to find out!

I have not been spending quite as much time sitting in my bedroom watching Crunchyroll, but I have been watching Re-Kan!, which is mostly comedy, about a girl who can see spirits. It's not clear if it will turn out to be yuri, although some of the secondary characters have clearly formed opinions already.

Yay by Avalon (Mon May 25 19:10:15 2015)


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13 May 2015 - Wednesday

I ran 13th Age again, and still did not kill all the PCs to open the Wednesday night slot for a Changeling campaign. This should not be taken to mean that I ran well, of course. The fights were boring, and the mystery did not eat enough people. We should finish next week, which gives me time to tune up the remaining monsters and traps for a TPK.

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10 May 2015 - Sunday

I don't seem to be keeping up with this when it's supposed to be daily. Maybe a weekly summary will succeed.

Did some work. Ended up having to do some work on Saturday, but I was saved by needing the help of my colleagues, who were not working on Saturday. I was glad at the time, but it would be nice to be done with this stupid thing.

At work, I have been listening to a Pandora station seeded from Lindsey Stirling, which produces some interesting things, like "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" covered by a string quartet.

Today was Earl's PAD&D5 game. The PCs managed to talk to the three Fairy Godmothers and escape with their lives and souls, but were not able to persuade them to stop either meddling in mortal affairs or replacing the forest with mechanisms. Ella's impassioned speech in favor of organic nature got her seven blood-seeking antifamily butterflies as recompense for the forest already replaced, which would be useful if she wanted to collect the FGs' bounty on princes. Further upstream (after an enounter with ettercaps and a dead prince at the burned hunting lodge where everything started), they found the place where the river had jumped its banks and was busy eroding a deposit of moon rock, and littered with bones for some reason. Legwork among the local squirrels revealed that the stretch of river was now carnivorous, ever since the lady with a cow's head visited it. Since cows are sacred to Hera, this seemed like it might tie in with the queen, but in fact it was just an Equalist hero with a horned helmet and some mooks who wanted to arrest the "White Dragon".

Things I have read recently:

Nekropolis, Dead Streets, and Dark War (Tim Waggoner) are kind of like Simon Green's "Nightside" books, but less hyperbolic and I think funnier. The zombie PI is really a zombie (requires regular maintenance to not decay, no sense of touch or smell, etc) and the city of horror really contains only monsters (who fled Earth when humanity started getting too obnoxious with their flamethrowers and global communications and stuff).

Rolling in the Deep is as awesome as Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) usually is, and another example of why horror writers should read lots of biology. Oh, the doom.

The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep (Brenda Cooper) are about a singer/songwriter repeatedly saving the crew of her starship, sometimes from themselves. The second one reminds me a lot of Mike's Earthdawn character, as people from a small closed society are thrust into cutthroat capitalism.

The Croning and The Light is the Darkness (Laird Barron) are not particularly related, except that they both show how getting mixed up in the Mythos is a bad bad thing. One is about a hapless academic who marries into the wrong family, the other is about a mutated scion of a wrong family, but neither mental nor physical stats help.

"Gods and Monsters" is a modern fantasy duology by two authors, composed of Unclean Spirits (Chuck Wendig) and Mythbreaker (Stephen Blackmoore). The second introduces some interesting concepts beyond the gods coming down to mess with people, but I found the ending anticlimactic. Once the hero got his mojo, he didn't have to struggle much.

I can't tell exactly what time period is The Midnight Queen (Sylvia Izzo Hunter) is supposed to be set in the cognate of — 18th century? early 19th? definitely not Victorian — but it's nice historical intrigue and romance in a magic-based alternate Britain.

PAD&D5 write-up by Jeremy (Wed May 13 21:06:39 2015)

Here, I'll help out with content. When last we visited our heroes, The Frederick totally rocked, and the other characters did other stuff involving talking and thinking and casting spells. There was less sword dancing than usual. ...That more or less covers it, yah?

Re: PAD&D5 write-up by Trip (Thu May 14 09:31:53 2015)

I have to mention the Blood-Seeking Anti-Family Butterflies, even though they haven't been used on The Frederick yet.

Blood-Seeking Anti-Family Butterflies by marithlizard (Thu May 14 10:12:14 2015)

Wow! I can imagine it now: each one as big as my hand, some with rainbow-tinted wings, some splotched with pink triangles, some with overlapping circles and arrows and crosses, and here and there one with pure white or black wings. They flutter menacingly as they home in on Antonin Scalia's jugular...

Re: Blood-Seeking Anti-Family Butterflies by Trip (Thu May 14 10:17:47 2015)

And then, having tasted his blood, they can hunt down his kin to the Nth degree!

(Actually the butterflies themselves don't do any damage, they just whisper advice on where to hit people to let the blood out.)

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6 May 2015 - Wednesday

This week, I took over running 13th Age again. The PCs are now in a ruined temple of a forgotten (or at least severely neglected) goddess that surfaced in the Queen's Wood and sent death-crazed mutant kobolds rampaging around. Now that they are in the mysteries, I need to come up with appropriate solutions, which is always the hard part.

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