Previously, in Trip's Life...

28 June 2015 - Sunday

Surprisingly, the PAD&D5 party did not die after being defeated for the second time in two sessions!

They wake up in a half-mechanical forest, being encouraged to move along by the local cyberdryad who doesn't want them to get her in trouble with the Rectifiers. While tromping through someone else's part of the creepy forest, Zach discovers that he can communicate with the trees via thought-glyph, and gets a description of a landscape that resembles where they were, at least for the parts with trees: the ocean and the place that they expect to be Azogaraz city are blank. Eventually cyberdwarves come to bust them for unathorized communication with trees, but charm person and a cooperative attitude get them escorted to the nearest town instead of arrested as Naturist rebels.

Eavesdropping and buying people drinks in the town bar allows the party to piece together the history that the locals believe they are participating in: two hundred and fifty years ago, the titans drove the gods back to Olympus, and the mortal races have thunderbolts to keep them from causing any more trouble. In fact, the place that is not Azogaraz is one of the bases where the thunderbolts are kept ready. Zach uses the power of non-Euclidian mathematics to prove that this is so divergent from their own history because they are now in the dream of a titan, probably Prometheus, but it is not clear how this came to be, or how to get out of the dream.

The important location they don't know anything about is (the cognate of) the island temple of Hera, so they buy a coracle of fine locally-grown naugahyde and set off for the cursed island of no return. The ruined temple is guarded by the skeletons of the two-headed peavelociraptors of Hera, but unlike the locals, the PCs are willing and able to disarm them by performing a proper divine sacrifice. In the process of cleaning up the temple, they find a mosaic which Dain's mysterious keepsake tile completes, showing all of them (minus Zach, who cannot be seen by the gods) getting into the conical top of a white tower, which then flies into the sky and is seized by the hand of a god.

The town outside Thunderbolt Base is pretty much what one would expect of a town supported entirely by soldiers on leave, so a motley band of lunatics can easily sneak in and admire the packs of enhanced feral children mugging the unwary for candy money, but the primarily dwarven and well-guarded military base is a different story. After lurking for a while, the party hears that the "candy" is coming downstream from Hag End. Maybe the hags will have knowledge or loot that can help break into the base?

  • Re-kan! 13: The end! There was very little on-screen yuri action, but plenty of room for fanfic.
  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? 13: The end! I think, anyway. There certainly could be more, since there is still unresolved plot, never mind romantic subplots, but if there are more than 13 episodes, it's news to Wikipedia.

  • Chihayafuru 2.17-2.18: Poor Ayse, oppressed by our insistence on watching only two episodes per week!
  • Martian Successor Nadesico 22-23: Once again, the crew of the Nadesico has been relegated to civilian life, but we know the climax is coming up!
  • Sword Art Online 18: Well, Asuna is trying to rescue herself, but I bet it will still take Kirito to actually get her out. Curse you, writers!
  • Natsume's Book of Friends 3.8: Aww, fox cub is back!

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24 June 2015 - Wednesday

For a change, Anwë was not useless in combat! I actually rolled perfectly respectably on a d20 multiple times, although critting on initiative was kind of a waste. The orcs that tried to start a conversation by taking hostages and issuing demands were all crushed, although Goblin Bond disappeared despite being knocked out and poisoned with his own nightmare. Apparently they thought the PCs know how to control or at least repel the infamous living dungeon of Doooooom. For some reason.

Deadly Shores (Taylor Anderson) is nowhere near wrapping up the "Destroyermen" series, but it's the latest one available to date. The theme of this volume seems to be "commanders sacrificing their troops for the greater good".

Despite the title, Trailer Park Fae (Lilith Saintcrow) is not at all humorous. These are the sort of fae where the only difference between Seelie and Unseelie is how long they draw out playing with their food, and faerie intrigue leaves bodies littering the landscape. Also, Robin Goodfellow is an asshole.

Deep Navigation (Alastair Reynolds) is a collection of stories of varying shortness. They also vary in completeness: some seem like little more than vignettes. But they are all pretty interesting.

Food Wars! vol 1 (Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki) is about cooking, so maybe it's appropriate that it has lots of cheesecake? No, probably not.

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21 June 2015 - Sunday

Avalon is free! Her horrible job finally laid her off, with plenty of severance (just because it's a horrible dysfunctional company doesn't mean it's not in a semi-civilized country) so now she can rest up and regain SAN points for a while before looking for a satisfying job.

Still no PAD&D5, but this is an off week anyway. Next week, for sure!

Or maybe our lameness will just result in all the PCs being murderized and Earl will have to run Dungeon World instead.

I have to wonder how much agreement there would be in any game I'm part of if everyone filled out the Same Page tool individually. For extra discord, fill it out twice, once for how the game actually is and once for how it should be.

The next er five books in the "Destroyermen" series (Taylor Anderson), Rising Tides, Firestorm, Iron Gray Sea, Storm Surge, and Deadly Shores, add more doom on more fronts, but don't actually resolve any of them. I guess world conquest takes more than three thousand pages. (So why not spend a few more of them on half-naked catgirls? Hmph.)

Volumes 3-4 UQ Holder! (Ken Akamatsu) tie in more of the Negima! backstory but also introduce new obnoxious characters. The hero continues to be an idiot, but not a nebbish, which is certainly better than some previous Akamatsu characters at this stage of the story.

Sort-of-plenty by Avalon (Thu Jun 25 18:04:20 2015)

=) I cannot talk about that!!

Re: liberation of Avalon by marithlizard (Fri Jun 26 20:59:23 2015)

Congratulations on your freedom! May your next company be sane, profitable and enjoyable to work for!

Thanks Marith! by Avalon (Sun Jun 28 18:18:36 2015)


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18 June 2015 - Thursday

Just because, I read through all the Dungeon World questions at stackexchange, and now I want to play Dungeon World using all this new knowledge! The most important advice I saw was to remember that the GM's section of the DW rules is not GMing advice: it's rules just like the playbooks and basic moves. Distant second is, when someone tries to bring something goofy into the game, keep asking questions until either the goofy thing is rendered palatable, or the perpetrator withdraws it in embarrassment. No, that's third; second is just "ask more questions about everything".

Children may be adorable, but they spend a long time being the opposite of gaming.

In the evening, when children are recharging their impossibility reserves, we can play 13th Age! This week, we got assigned to find out what was up with the living dungeon that ate the town of mobile trees. Ostensibly in pursuit of this goal, we went to the temple of Sylphore, and ended up in a senseless brawl with a knight of the Crusader who was there to make sure the rescued goddess was buttered on the correct (IE, dark) side. Anwë found out almost nothing more about the mysterious green draconic monster with memory-stealing powers, but at least her imaginary dragon tail is +1 now.

Taylor Anderson's "Destroyermen" series (first four books: Into The Storm, Crusade, Maelstrom, Distant Thunders) is in the venerable "heroic US military units sucked into an alternate dimension must bring civilization and combined-arms tactics to the backwards natives" sub-genre. This time, the heroic Americans are in two WWI-era destroyers in the early days of WWII, between SE Asia and Australia, and the backwards natives are cat-people (really lemurs, but they look like cats to most people) and possibly only semi-sapient velociraptor guys. IMHO, at least 10% of the low-tech naval warfare and infrastructure building could be swapped out for more topless catgirls.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea (Adam Roberts) is kind of a weird book. It starts with a Cold War French nuclear sub going astray on a simple test sail, and then spends two thirds of the book with the cast of a dozen freaking out and arguing and stabbing each other and going completely mad, before we start finding out anything at all about why they are are in such a bizarre place. Then, everything is explained and wrapped up in what seems like just a few pages.

I haven't seen the anime of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, but the manga (GAINAX, Tagro) is pretty crazed. It makes even less sense than FLCL, and has at least 782% more lust and gluttony. It's sort of like R-rated Dirty Pair with fallen angels.

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14 June 2015 - Sunday

We finally completed the interminable dungeon crawl in 13th Age with a climactic battle against the boss's final form on the god plane, and leveled to 4th. Then Anwë got to present the crown of the Wizard King (with attached lich head) to the Elf Queen, and got not only recognized as still being a high elf, but given a boon. There may have been squeeing.

Next time, finally, Ken runs!

Hadoop Summit was this week, so most of the office was at the convention center Tue-Wed-Thu to crew the booth, and Arcadia Data has officially broken stealth.

Superior Cow Orker D from Teradata was in town for the Summit, although due to my ineptness at keeping track of my official (as opposed to personal) Gmail account, we didn't manage to get together until Saturday lunch right before he had to catch his plane. He is doing well, although he admits Hadoop is taking over and Teradata is doomed. 8)

The Straits Restaurant in Santana Row had really good salmon. Three tentacles up!

Sword Art Online has switched to a completely different MMORPG, with an obvious marketing advantage. Also, doooooom.

Natsume's Book of Friends has switched back to showing us what the most horrible and frightening creatures in existence really are, which is always nice. I liked the surprise youkai hug from last week, though.

No PAD&D5, only Zuul. I mean, Gollubvacation. But I did come up with a plan for maybe being able to take down small groups of very weak opponents if we survive long enough to reach 5th level.


Corsair (James L Cambias) should probably have a trigger warning for Lunar He3 Mining, but on the other hand it has no stealth in space and space pirates do their dirty deeds from offices full of monitors. And, shockingly, people who have the best intentions still get in trouble for breaking the law. Still, space piracy!

As expected, The Architect of Aeons (John C Wright) does okay when it explores the setting full of the works of higher-order sapiences ("sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature"), but less well when it comes to the allegedly posthuman main characters. Some of their problems are self-generated due to emotional up-screwedness, as is traditional, but they also make mistakes that I wouldn't expect of even reasonably bright humans. They do, however, seem to have pushed humanity into a state where it's capable of pointing out that they're both jerks, which I guess is an accomplishment? There are also slight indications that the author is softening on "heterosexual Christian monogamy uber alles", but only slight. I guess we'll see what happens in the next book.

No Game No Life vol 1 (Yuu Kamiyua) is a translated light novel that I think is also an anime series now, about a brother-sister pair of NEETs who get sucked into another dimension, where the gods have decreed there is no violence, only games. Good thing the protagonists are famous for never having lost a game of anything, ever, and have vaguely transhuman skillz. Like most light novels, it is extremely silly and also full of fanservice.

In an experiment in further dead-tree reduction, I made Amazon kindle me up some manga. For some reason, I ended up with mostly terrible cheesecake manga. I wonder why?

  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? (Fujino Omori) vol 1: Although the events are the same, the anime is more about girls trying to pick up the hero in a dungeon while he obliviously works at becoming more heroic, which I prefer.
  • So, I Can't Play H! (Pan Tachibana, Yoshiaki Katsurai) vol 1: Also an anime that I've seen, and the manga is also similar, but in this case raunchier.
  • Trinity Seven (Kenji Saito) vol 1: The first volume doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but it has an unflappable hero, at least seven babes, and machinations.
  • Gou-dere Sora Nagihara (Suu Minazuki) vol 1: Raunchiest of all. "Look at these nubile concubines I have captured from the local neighborhood!"

Tokyo Ghoul (Sui Ishida) is not cheesecake (although since it is about obligately anthropophagous monsters, some kind of human body/foodstuff metaphor should go there). Although the plight of the main character is moving, I don't really buy how he got into that plight. The physiologies are just too different for trained physicians to do that without realizing. Also, what is up with the trope of mysterious coffee shops in Tokyo? (This is me not going to TVTropes because I would like to get some work done this week.)

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12 June 2015 - Friday

The Most Dangerous Game: Twenty.

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7 June 2015 - Sunday

In PAD&D5, after escaping imprisonment from our defeat last session, we took the king's decapitated body to the queen-in-exile, loaded up on potions, and tried to mug a Daughter of the Revolution to get The Frederick's magic sword back. Because we are possibly the worst-designed party ever, and possibly also because our motivation was to get XP and loot, we wiped completely again. It didn't help that the DoR who beat us last time unexpectedly handed off the sword to her more-powerful sister, but mostly we just suck.

The Cormorant (Chuck Wendig) is the third book in the Miriam Black series, in which someone from an earlier book who is too clever by half uses the protagonist's death sight against her. However, just because she's cursed doesn't mean she doesn't also have superpowers that she's not afraid to use...

When I read the setup for The Fold (Peter Clines), I thought it was going to be a ripoff of The Infinitive of Go (John Brunner, 1980), but although I suppose with enough compression they could be mistaken for each other, The Fold is definitely in the horror genre. The hero is kind of ridiculously over the top, though — he's supposed to be extremely smart, but he's on almost the same level as the protagonist of Zero Sum Game and Half Life, whose mind powers are a major plot element.

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4 June 2015 - Thursday

Mid-week update! No reason.

I completely messed up the climactic fight by wimping on out being cruel to the PCs. I need to work on being a harsh and vicious GM who will relentlessly crush all who dare enter my world! Or at least one who will stick to the plan and say, "You can't do anything except try to escape the Vine of Evil and take damage when you fail muahahahahahahah".

Strangely, though, people seemed pleased with the session as a whole, probably because they got to plan out a symbolic journey to find/aid a goddess of journeys, and each give up something to symbolize overcoming the trials Sylphore had to overcome on her journey. Hurray for player agency!

The Mad Apprentice (Django Wexler) is the sequel to The Forbidden Library. We learn some more about certain enslaved magical creatures and the mages who enslave them (and the poor expendable schmoes they take as apprentices), but not really much more about the system. The heroine's tragic backstory gets some more development, though, and suggests that the next book will be full of doom.

Nemesis Games (James SA Corey) zooms in from the socially-disruptive interstellar land rush to see what disaffected elements in the Solar System are doing in response to society being disrupted. (No bonus points if you guessed, "disrupt society further".) Also, we get to see the female lead's dark past, which no one sane can blame her for fleeing. Next book is probably back to the gates and the main plotline.

Blades and Bitter Apples (MCA Hogarth) is a short collection of short fantasy stories, none of which really wowed me. I'm not even sure what the unicorn one was about — I must have missed something at the end.

The Dragon Conspiracy (Lisa Shearin), is the sequel to The Grendel Affair, which I read because I had it right there. It doesn't have the infolump at the beginning, and it does have multiple villainous plans intersecting, but is still not that exciting.

The second volume of Stories of the Raksura (Martha Wells) has a story about some other people in the Three Worlds, but mostly Wells has a bunch of characters who are always getting mixed up in the weird stuff their world is filled with, and also sometimes have to freak out about having kids and stuff, so she is never going to lack for material for entertaining short stories.

Reading graphic novels on Kindle actually works pretty well, at least for ones with a simple, cartoony art style like Nimona (Noelle Stevenson). Shapeshifting is the best superpower ever, naturally, even for villains. (Anyone who opposes a Hero must be a villain, right?)

Blackbirds and The Mockingbirds (Chuck Wendig) are full of doom beyond most doomed books I read, because the protagonist unstoppably sees the death of anyone she makes even the slightest skin contact with. The question of whether the deaths themselves are unstoppable, and if not, how, just makes her smoking, drinking, cussing, and general failure to be socially acceptable, more understandable.

"Call The Ships To Port" by Covenant still reliably makes my hair stand on end.

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