Previously, in Trip's Life...
30 August 2015 - Sunday
On Saturday, I slept until about 10000 o'clock and then went to Ken's
birthday party and was pretty useless. I did tie for first in one game of
before reverting to my usual lameness. There was no anime.
On Sunday, I slept in but then went to PAD&D5.
Apparently our halfling ranger was a wood elf ranger all along, since
halflings can't be effective archers. Whatever, D&D. After the panic with
the deathless assassin dies down, we have to find one of the grad students
who fled and didn't return; unfortunately, she has fallen prey to a pocket
of the Dancing Death in a nearby ruin, and has to be beaten down repeatedly
along with the rest of the undead. Professor Karsh finally coughs up a list
of people who might (completely unwarrantedly!) hate him enough to spend
that much on killing him, of whom the most prominent is a zealot of Apollo
by the name of Hope, who goes around destroying remnants of the previous
worlds before researchers can get to them. The fiend! We head off in search
of her last known position, but run across the tracks of a band of riding
lizards following a band of humanoids, and decide to follow up on that. The
Black Sun kobolds and their magic sparklies that protect them from the vile
rays of the White Sun by refracting the otherwise unseen dark radiance of
Saturn are almost reasonable but then a fight breaks out. Now we have the
stick of protection from sunlight, 30' radius! And, following the
tracks a bit further, we also have Hope and her merry band of
anti-intellectuals. Next session, we will have to figure out what to do
Half Upon A Time (James Riley) is remixed fairy tales but
not very good.
Make a comment!
28 August 2015 - Friday
This week has too much coughing and not enough Avalon. It is defective
and I would like a refund, but I didn't get the extended warranty.
Ugh, earache. I tried taking painkillers and lying down for a while,
but that didn't help, so I went to Urgent Care. Getting on the bus
completely cured the pain, but I sat around the clinic until a doctor
could look at it. I got my ears washed out, and antibiotics since it
might be a bacterial infection. Evolution FTL.
The "Powder Mage" trilogy, Promise of Blood, The
Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic (Brian
McClellan), is in the same space as the "The Thousand Names" series by
Django Wexler: alternate Napoleonic-era warfare with magic. The magic here
is much better-known, though, possibly because even a wimpy traditional
sorcerer is a walking flamethrower. The newfangled gunpowder mages are
much less terrifying, but they can snort a few lines of powder to get
higher initiative, and send a ball farther than a traditional sorcerer
can throw a lightning bolt, so it's hatred all around even before the
republican revolutionaries depose the king and his cabal. Military action,
intrigue, magical mysteries, criminal investigations, the odd supernatural
being, and assorted doom ensue.
Secondhand Souls (Christopher Moore) just came out, so I
went back and reread A Dirty Job since it's been years. I had
forgotten a lot of the earlier book, including how racist it was. The new
story does follow from the first one, but maybe not inevitably, and the
final reveal is not as exciting as it should be. Alas.
The second book of Indexing (Seanan McGuire) is starting to
come out in installments, so I went back and reread the first volume here
too. It was still awesome. Sloane is extra-awesome, although not in a way
that I would want anything to do with in person.
The Thorn of Dentonhill (Marshall Ryan Maresca) is about a
young magic student whose parents are killed by organized crime so he
becomes Batman. It turns out that fighting crime and attending college
don't leave much time for sleep, which can be unfortunate when the
In The Suicide Exhibition (Justin Richards), heroic Brits
fight against the Nazi menace and the psychic aliens they have co-opted.
Make a comment!
23 August 2015 - Sunday
Avalon is still super-busy with important life stuff, so I am
sad. I mean, it is good that she has a life, but I have nothing to do in
the evenings except stare blankly into space blblblblbl.
- Whispered Words 1-2: The anime is just about as cute as
the manga, and seems to follow it pretty closely. Oh the doom!
- Dennou Coil 3: Yes, of course all the major players are
in the same middle-school class! Including both Yukos!
- Legend of Korra 3.1-3.2: Hey, look, last season's
world-changing events changed the world! And now the politicians are
unhappy with the superheroes. It looks like the theme of this season
is going to be "you can't turn back the clock".
- Sword Art Online movie: Really only the last 15 minutes,
since Dave assures us the rest is just a recap of the series with extra
swimsuits. Meh. SAO has failed us. We spurn it like a
Jus has made it to kindergarten, so she requested Dim Sum of Celebration with the usual
suspects and also her Grownup Friends (Mike and Susan). Hurray for Jus!
Our new player Deirdre has been successfully integrated into PAD&D5!
Apparently what we have been lacking in fights is a halfling ranger,
because we ripped right through the giant scorpions and the bulette. (There
was no bulette-surfing, however, so 13th Age still
holds the lead.) When we got to the professor who had requested some
Titanologists from the university, we did not immediately have to shank him
even though he's a huge jerk, but we did have to protect him from a
Deathless assassin. And now we know the secret of the Deathless (they turn
into ghosts and black puddings the first time they're killed) so there are
likely to be more coming to get rid of witnesses. And that's before we use
the Soot of Structure to reanimate monsters from previous versions of
reality. It will be great!
Today fortnight (today week week?) is Labor Day weekend, so we will
try gaming next week instead. And maybe the week after Labor Day too, if
we feel ambitious.
I need to figure out what to do about Labor Day. Ugh. Planning.
A Fox's Love and A Fox's Tail (Brandon
Varnell) are terrible light novels in the magical-girlfriend anime genre,
about a hapless highschool student in Arizona who rescues a fox and finds
out that she's really a kitsune with no nudity taboo who has decided that
they are married. Then the other yōkai who don't like kitsune find
out that she's in town, and anyone who has read/seen Kanokon
or anything similar knows how this goes.
Black Lament (Christina Henry) is the fourth book in the
series that started with Black Winds. There are at least
three more, but I didn't see #5 or #6 at the library, so I may or may
not ever read them.
Unique (Andrew Miller) is a Rashomonesque
urban fantasy, in which some vampires, some werewolves, some monster
hunters, and some magi (authentic Zoroastrians!) interact separately with a
series of unfortunate events, leading to confusion and unnecessary
violence. There is a pretty adorable romance, and in the end many things
are sorted out. It is a curiously pro-humanity book, and despite the author
being described as a libertarian in his bio, the rule of law is presented
as completely worthwhile, and the man from the government really is there
to help. (The major groups and their interconnections remind me of Urban Shadows. Bah,
In The Border (Robert McCammon), humanity is nearly driven
to extinction as collateral damage in the war between two forces of
incomprehensible aliens. A ragtag band of survivors make their way across
the ruined Southwest, leaving dead comrades and lost SAN in their wake, and
finally Earth is saved. Human effort, although present, isn't actually
critical; in fact, it's more a religion-based triumph. So, although the
post-apocalyptic alien doom is scenic and horrifying, as a story it's kind
what to do in the evenings besides staring into space blblbbl by marithlizard (Tue Aug 25 01:37:38 2015)
Write something for me and Avalon to read! Write something for Jus! Write something that makes you happy! Write about ninja catgirl pirate Wall Street traders! Any or all of the above! :)
Re: what to do in the evenings by Trip (Tue Aug 25 16:24:05 2015)
That would be all clever and stuff.
Susan was talking about NaNoWriMo at dim sum, but I have too many commutes and too few brain cells, or something. Plus what I wrote the one year I did it was embarrassingly horrible.
Agreed! by Avalon (Sun Aug 30 20:10:47 2015)
I agree about the writing. =)
Re: Agreed! by Trip (Mon Aug 31 18:38:47 2015)
What, that it's embarrassingly horrible?
Make a comment!
19 August 2015 - Wednesday
HAPPY HAPPY KEN-DAY!!
After the Ribs of
Celebration, we figured out how to play 13th Age
Ktangs' having failed to locate the Stone Thief via ritual magic, the
PCs head back to the temple of Sylphore so Son Sobretto can perform
divinations. However, when they get there, the temple has already been
devoured by a swirling vortex of masonry and destruction! Down in the
maelstrom, some orcs are fishing stray people out of the masonry, mostly
not with harpoons, so Anwë sneaks down to help people get
successfully captured by orcs and get captured herself. It is the
traditional method of her profession, after all.
Unable to mysteriously appear behind people, the others have to surf
a bulette down and crash through the giant fanged dwarven gate. They end
up no longer on the bulette, so its utility has come to an end and it
has to be put down. (There are also wraiths.) After that, they wander
through a ruined dwarven steamworks, pick up Anwë's trail, talk to a
bound spirit that sends incoming material where it might belong, and end
up in someplace called The Gauntlet. This involves climbing stairs until
they inevitably find the pressure plate that turns the stairway into a
waterslide. Son Sobretto has prepared for this (with rope!), but being on
belay is not that helpful when an entire side corridor is sliding down
the chute and everyone ends up in the disgusting corpse-filled water at
the bottom of the staircase. A draconic head rises out of the water to
glare at them.
Scorch and Rogue (Gina Damico) are the rest of
the trilogy that started with Croak. The world-building is
explained a little, although everyone involved with collecting souls is
still completely insane, and the author is completely unafraid to kill
End of Days (Susan Ee) concludes the "Penryn & The End of
Days" trilogy, about Earth being invaded by genocidal angels who are
self-righteous but probably not any more divinely guided than humans. It's
kind of like a happy ending, I guess.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible is what happens
when Ursula Vernon gets hold of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Need I say
The Boy At The End of The World (Greg van Eekhout) is not
quite as pessimistic as its title, although certainly the human world is
not in a good state when the last survivor of an ark bunker gets
decanted. Robots feature heavily, along with mutant wildlife.
Make a comment!
18 August 2015 - Tuesday
Too much reading! Not enough Avalon!
Public Enemies (Ann Aguirre) is the second book of the
trilogy that started with Mortal Danger, in which things get
worse. Since the heroine started the first book trying to commit suicide
after being humiliated on Youtube... Presumably next book she will rally,
pull all the plot threads together, and use them to crush her foes.
I didn't realize it until after, but the protagonist's boss in The
Deathsniffer's Assistant (Kate McIntyre) bears a distinct, though
probably coincidental, resemblance to the detective in Gosick.
However, the hapless protagonist has no choice but to put up with her and
her creepy disgusting murder investigations, since his family has fallen on
hard times and he has a little sister to look after and not sell to the
Magic Monopoly despite her ridiculous power. The pseudo-Victorian setting
powered by bound elementals isn't bad, although I'm not sure the way women
are treated both better and the same is consistent. On the other tentacle,
inconsistency is realistic.
Pacific Fire (Greg van Eekhout) is the sequel to
California Bones, ten years later when things are even more
of a mess in LA but someone has a plan that must not be allowed to
succeed. Point of view is split between the main character of the first
book and his protege, who has some osteomantic issues of his own in
addition to the regular teenaged issues, as they both try to execute the
caper. There is all kinds of setup for another book.
Kid vs Squid (also Greg van Eekhout) is for a much younger
audience — not that Pacific Fire wouldn't be
fine marketed as YA, aside from maybe the cannibalism — about a
middle-school kid who spends his summer vacation getting mixed up with
creepy nautical museums, Atlantean princesses, ancient curses, and aspiring
superheroes, or at least one of each.
Yes, it is that Alice (Christina Henry), but only kind of.
Instead of a surreal alternate world of talking animals, she gets a return
trip to a pseudo-Victorian slumhole full of bizarre and horrible magical
crime lords. Not a good place in which to be a woman, but she is not really
taking their crap, and she has an axe murderer just escaped from the
loony bin to back her up on that.
Hallow Point (Ari Marmell) is the second in the adventures
of Mick Oberon, sidhe private eye in mostly-normal 1930s Chicago who gets
mixed up in really convoluted mysteries. This one has a proper femme
fatale, murderous fae, murderous humans, corruption on multiple levels, and
more than one fake-out. Fortunately, sidhe heal quickly.
Make a comment!
16 August 2015 - Sunday
Avalon's house was invaded by wasps. It was very sad.
Marmalade's key metric is very good! The current regime will continue
indefinitely, much to Ghirardelli's dismay.
No 13th Age
because Ken is full of work and Mike is full of family.
No anime because Dave is out of town. I spent most of Saturday being
useless on Tumblr
because it is an off week. However, apparently we did well enough in the
audition that Deirdre will be joining us next week.
Instead of D&D, I had water park with Ayse and Ken and Jus and Nonny,
which was okay fun, but very dehydrating. And full of queues!
Warfare is an alternate character creation system for Dungeon
World, or rather a class creation system. It isn't completely
free-form, but it breaks down each of the existing DW classes into three
components, each with one starting move and a handful of advanced 2-5 and
advanced 6-10 moves. These can then be assembled into new classes, either
three from one group (fighter, cleric, wizard, thief), two from one group
and one from another, or two from one group and an advanced move from one
of them. Since there are like a couple of hundred of these, there is plenty
of scope for new points inside the existing space of classes, although
Class Warfare doesn't help much for going outside that space. But then,
going outside cleric/thief/fighter/wizard takes you outside of old-school
dungeoncrawling, which is arguably outside DW's domain.
I really did not like Last First Snow (Max Gladstone) as
much as the first three books in the series. It was all socially-conscious
and stuff, but didn't add anything new. We didn't even really need to see
how the protagonist of Two Serpents Rise and his father got
into their conflicted relationship; it was already pretty clear. Bah.
The first four books covered a plot for world domination that turned out
to be just a side effect of the real plot. In The Killing Floor
Blues (Craig Schaefer), the main character glimpses the magnitude of
the plan, and also spends some time in the hoosegow. Surprisingly, it is
not much like the prison from Convict
Connections although it does have its own... special qualities.
Unfinished Muse (RL Naquin) and Accidentally
Aphrodite (Dakota Cassidy) are both frivolous supernatural romance
with hapless modern women getting unexpectedly tangled up in Greek
mythology. They more or less lack redeeming qualities.
The End Of All Things (John Scalzi) is the sixth
installment in the "Old Man's War" series, following the evolving
political situation among the Colonial Union, Earth, the Concord, and
organizations without letterhead, as hapless human PCs try to keep it
Black Wings, Black Night, and Black
Howl (Christina Henry) are also supernatural romance, but based on
Christian mythology plus whatever it is Grim Reapers come from. The main
character has a bad case of snowflakes, but she at least does use her
status when it's helpful and doesn't let it go to her head too much the
rest of the time.
In Hellhole (Gina Damico), a hapless teenager digs up a
devil and evil ensues. It is mostly hilarious evil, but there is some real
damage and horror behind the frat-boy obnoxiousness of the devil's
behavior. The way they get rid of him is out of left field, though.
Croak (Gina Damico) is also about humans roped into
soul-collecting duty, but with a charmingly violent teenage protagonist and
world-building on par with early Harry Potter. First of a trilogy.
Wasps by Avalon (Tue Aug 18 19:45:13 2015)
It was pretty awful! But much better now =) xoxoxo
Make a comment!
11 August 2015 - Tuesday
My iPad contains the Internet, at least when I'm in
civilization Wifi, and the Internet contains anime, therefore my
iPad contains anime, including the new show GATE, which is
about heroic(ish) JSDF soldiers exploring a fantasy world that opened a
gate and attacked Tokyo. It is definitely flawed, and problematic in a
variety of ways (though not as many as some), but it is cute and I like
is urban fantasy somewhere near the Dresden Files, powered
by the Apocalypse. Although it has a different set of basic moves, and
adds some genre-specific special moves, Urban Shadows is probably the PbtA
game that's closest to Apocalypse World,
and the commentary shows that the developers thought a lot about what moves
are for and how they work (not to say that the developers of Dungeon
World, tremulus, Monster of the
Week, etc, didn't, just that they didn't display the fruits of their
Compared to AW, the three major innovations are Factions, Corruption,
and Debt. There are four Factions (roughly: unpowered humans, humans with
powers, ex-human monsters who eat humans, and Not From Around Here), which
each character has a -1 to +3 with, and when you use a social move on
someone from a Faction, or the Faction as a whole, you get to check off
that Faction. Check off all four, and you get an advance, or in other
words, you only get to level up if you're in the middle of everything.
You get Corruption for using your powers wrong, like the Oracle giving a
false prophecy. When you get five Corruption, you must erase it all and get
a Corruption move, but there are only five Corruption moves, and although
four of them are awesome, one of them is Become An NPC Monster.
Debt replaces AW's Hx, DW's Bonds, etc as the mechanism for pulling
characters together. It is pretty similar to Oaths in AGON:
when someone does you a solid, you owe them one, which they will no doubt
call in at the worst possible time. You can roll to resist having a Debt
called in, but of course the horror of a 6- is always waiting for you. Oh,
and did that guy you owe mention that he traded your obligation to the
crazy werewolf down by the docks?
So, yah, why do I not have more gamers?
In California Bones (Greg van Eekhout), bones of extinct or
mythical critters are the nonrenewable resource that powers magic, and the
La Brea tar pits have given a particularly egregious mage the power to rule
an otherwise fairly modern Southern California with a fist of dragonscale
in a glove of Stalinist oppression. Naturally, a physical basis for magic
invites thefts, and it's all heists and capers and torture chambers from
Make a comment!
9 August 2015 - Sunday
Now Cera has twelve bags of my outgoing books, which she will keep or
sell to her local used-book store or donate to her local library and I
don't have to do anything more with those books ever again yay!
- Chihayafuru 2.24-25: Why did they stop making this
anime? Chihaya isn't Queen yet, never mind defeated/dating Arata!
- Dennou Coil 1-2: Little kids! L33t Granny! Deathtrap by
- Sword Art Online 24-25: The end! The treatment of women
never rose above Significant Fail, so only Kirito got to hero. We
will not watch a second season of this.
We had an observer at PAD&D5,
a friend of Rachel's (and Techer from before our time), who is considering
joining the game. I think we probably scared her off, though.
Having retrieved some of their stolen stuff and taken another Daughter
of the Revolution prisoner, the PCs rampage to the roof, cow the enslaved
blue dragons into obedience, steal the sky chariot despite Kamala and her
weird little flying machines, and fly it back to the kobolds lurking near
the Royalist lines. The DoR is handed over to the Royalists for
spiritual vivisection (to get the soul of the prince she killed back),
the dragons fly off with their mooks, and the PCs get a long rest.
There are still a couple of days before the Fire Festival, so the PCs
decide to kill the time by exploring the Castle of Glass on the ethereal
plane. After a bit of excitement with some previously-slain ogres and
kobolds and a horrifying repair process on the chains being used to
winch down the moon (which Zach avoided through clever use of orbital
mechanics), they arrive at the castle and engage in conversation with
Sauriel the robot medusa lady, who is also Prometheus's concubine and
Kamala's mother. Zach uses his immunity to divine observation
(extendable to others with suitable handholding) to conspire with her,
which eventually leads to the two of them running off to the Moon while
the other PCs aren't looking, so that Sauriel can be reunited with her
love and Zach can ask about overthrowing the gods (just curious,
Zach uses his magic key to get through the gates of the Moon into the
prison dome, and to jam it behind them, but the giant gingerbread Kerberos
just digs under the door and wrassling ensues. Sadly, there are more
wrasslers than Zach has mind control spells, so although he manages to get
the answer, and try to implement it by unlocking the chains, he is dragged
down by friends and giant bats before the aspect of Prometheus is freed to
wreak novelty upon the world. Curses! Well, maybe next year.
Since Sauriel is trying to help Zach, she also gets grappled
(politely!) by The Frederick, which results in them spilling out onto
the roof where Orimar the Decapitator, leader of the rebellion, is
trying to perform the Fire Festival ceremony to cement his rule, and
instantly petrifying Orimar. Naturally, The Frederick was wearing his
haunted white dragon scale
mail codpiece, so the legend
of the White Dragon lives on!
Next session: The recrimination phase! Also, Zach tries to get his
magic key back from Ella.
The Chart of Tomorrows (Chris Willrich) is probably the
conclusion of the "Bone & Gaunt" series, in which dragons do not eat the
world (probably) despite the worst efforts of Mongol-analogs,
Viking-analogs, things from beyond time, flying carpets, and teenagers.
I was afraid I would have to wait ages for the last "Exordium" book, but
no, The Thrones of Kronos (Sherwood Smith, Dave Trowbridge) is
out! It ends the major plot pretty conclusively, but a whole bunch of minor
threads are left open, so there could be more books. Sadly, I don't think
there will be.
Make a comment!
5 August 2015 - Wednesday
We did play 13th Age this
week, and also ate yummy fish stuff. The PCs made it back to the Court of
Stars with the book full of impractical methods to ward off the Stone
Thief, and then went to find the Stone Thief so as to extract the book full
of clues about its missing eyes, but only found a bunch of surly gnolls and
their medusa queen. Since Anwë can see perfectly in the dark now, the
medusa's attempt to avoid inadvertantly petrifying her guests by keeping
the lights low failed and it looked like there was going to be a fight, but
there somehow wasn't.
I really need to learn to stop trying to give my characters social
skills. The only person I've ever gamed with who I could possibly have a
bigger mouth than is Dave. (Okay, maybe Miriam, but I'm sure that would
have changed if we had been less terrible introductory gamers.)
Although it is an accusation all YA fantasy with schools must face
The School For Good And Evil (Soman Chainani) is not really
very much like Harry Potter. It is straight-up
metafairytale, and does a lot with beautiful=good/ugly=evil, starting
from the hot blonde being put in Evil School and her creepy brunette friend
in Good School. It's more than a bit heavy-handed, but I can't tell
exactly what the target age range is, so maybe that's okay.
Twin Star Exorcists vol 1 (Yoshiaki Sukeno) shows why fourteen
is not the right age to tell people they are part of an ages-long breeding
program, especially when one of them is a jerk and the other is psycho.
If their powers are really heritable, though, any offspring they manage
to have should be pretty terrifying.
Rebecca Tregaron is the pen name Rachel Manija Brown uses to write
lesbian romance, like Angel in the Attic. It is pretty
short — novella? novelette? chibi-novel? — but cute and full
of attractive women and a little mystery. Apparently it is the first of
three parts of "Werewolf in the Kitchen".
In The God Hunter (Tim Lees), a secret megacorp gathers
"compacted residue of human emotions" to convert into electricity. Some
people call them gods, but that's just unprofessional and unobjective. And
this talk of one of them wandering around eating people must be nonsense,
because energy doesn't do that, and even if it did, it wouldn't eat
enough people to become unprofitable.
Make a comment!
3 August 2015 - Monday
HAPPY HAPPY RACHEL-DAY (OBSERVED)!!
The party was full of people who are a hundred times cooler than me,
but that is only to be expected.
Ayse & Co & Marith went to a Renfaire, which may or may not have been
more fun but was certainly healthier.
- Natsume's Book of Friends 3.12-13: End of the season!
Man, youkai are annoying. But Nyanko-sensei is such a tsundere.
- Chihayafuru 2.23: Thinking about anything except the
game is still an excellent way to lose.
- Martian Successor Nadesico 25-26: The end! All is
revealed, but very little is resolved! There is smooching.
- Sword Art Online 23: Finally, they find out! And handle
it about as well as you might expect, or maybe better in Kirito's case.
They aren't very close to reaching the top of the tree, though, and
there are only two episodes left.
Hostage (Sherwood Smith, Rachel Manija Brown) is the sequel
to Stranger, in which we find out more about the villains and
a little more about the world (but only a little). There is also a lot of
trouble, a fair amount of PTSD, the power of friendship, and some
smooching. Oh, and explosions.
Two new supplements for The Strange:
Translation: The Strange Character Options has a bunch more
descriptors, type abilities, and foci for characters. Some of the foci are
pretty specific, but that's okay since you can get a new focus just by
fleeing to a new recursion. I was amused to see that one of the paradox
abilities is basically "Draw Trump of Person", and another is basically the
traditional D&D spell rope trick. There are also negative
descriptors, like Paranoid, that still give you net positive benefits. The
new elements all seem in keeping with the ones from the core book, though,
even if the spell-casting foci are kind of inflexible.
Numberless and Strange has a bunch of new recursions to explore, in
varying levels of detail, and exciting new places to get shanked in both
Ardeyn and Ruk. (The Ardeyn one is actually kind of cool.) Contents
include, but are not limited to: Atlantis, Arthurian legend, barbarian
adventure, blasters, dinosaurs, flying ships, giant bacteria, grey aliens,
Halloween, kung fu, Martian war tripods, nanomachine plagues, Nazis,
octopodes, Oort cloud bodies, samurai, Shakespeare, Soylent Green, starfish
the size of minivans, wicked witches, and of course zombies. A few more
character options, monsters, and artifacts are included.
Make a comment!