Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 October 2015 - Saturday

Aw, no trick-or-treaters. And the delivery weasels messed up our Afghan food order. This Halloween seems to be defective!

Well, anime is not defective.

  • Whispered Words 11-13: That was a pretty sweet ending!
  • Silver Spoon 9: It seems so very Japanese: just because you're going to be killed and eaten doesn't mean your corpse shouldn't get the best possible grade on a standardized scale.
  • Steven Universe 11: Oh, that's why Garnet wears those shades.

School for Sidekicks (Kelly McCullough) has kind of silly superpowers and dubious superhero/villain names, but is entertaining and has an explanation for superheroes vs supervillains, as well as a lot of supers of unclear alignment. I'm not sure there needs to be another book, but I would read it.

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29 October 2015 - Thursday

Kelsey cancelled again, but at least we have Mike this week, so we can play the A team. After a chariot chase through a horde of orcs, they crossed mountains with an unnatural blizzard (leaving only a few minor extremities frozen in the snow), and holed up with some hobgoblin adventurers who will probably try to stab them in the middle of the night, because adventurers.


Darn it, my jack-o-lantern has become all mushy and cobwebby. I guess I carved it too far before Halloween.


Into the Black (Evan Currie) is pretty substandard military space opera.

Ronin Games (Marion G Harmon) is the fifth or so in the series that started with Wearing the Cape, in which the protagonist, her vampire best friend, and Princess Ozma of Oz go to Japan. Kitsunes and ghosts and shopping trips and giant plasma lizards ensue.

Temporally Out of Order (ed Joshua Palmatier, Patricia Bray) is an anthology of stories about things that have, or should have, a sign saying "Temporally Out Of Order": toaster ovens, cameras, baseballs cards, library checkout systems. One of the stories is by Seanan McGuire.

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27 October 2015 - Tuesday

It took all evening to go through half of A Sundered World for tyops, probably because I read it normally just a few days ago and it's hard to not skim. But it was like doing a helpful thing.


The world of Numenera is pretty freaky, but Into The Night makes even more freaky worlds (worldlets, astroengineering projects, etc) accesible to PCs via an assortment of freaky methods of interplanetary travel, none of which are under their control. Naturally, these freaky locations are full of freaky hazards and even more freaky creatures, portrayed with many pretty pictures.

Fate of Agaptus is the Fate Accelerated RPG of a miniatures game that can be described as Dark Ages Muppets in an ice age under dangerously incompetent gods. I know nothing of the miniatures game, but the RPG looked cute and also FATE, and PDFs don't actually take up any space... It seems perfectly playable, but does not cry out to me for a gaming slot the way some games do.

Leopard Women of Venus is based on the works of some over-the-top comics guy from the 40s, who apparently was not concerned with making sense. Thus, Leopard Women! On space-going lizards! From Venus! Also, giant snake sex. It is for the QAGS system, which seems to be built on the principle that only boring, unhip people think about mechanics.

The Dreams of Ruin is unquestionably a work of twisted genius. It is also very old school, in the sense of OSR. It's written for one particular OSR game, but would probably work equally well in anyway. I don't think it would work at all in any modern story game -- the behavior of the Forest of Woe and the puppets and the bakegumo is so detailed, and the methods of defeating it so crunchy, that glossing over it with "sure, that sounds cool, you win" would miss the point entirely. This is a threat for detail-oriented players of high-level characters who want to organize the resources of entire nations to use 9th-level spells in clever ways. But perhaps I've already say too much. Genius, I say! GENIUS! And twisted.

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25 October 2015 - Sunday

I am not the worst pumpkin carver ever, because I did not actually carve anything that wasn't pumpkin (like myself, or a passing human), but my pumpkin is not very artistic. But that is okay.


A Sundered World is pretty awesome. It's like the Astral Sea in D&D4, with a little Elemental Chaos thrown in, except without the prime material plane to clutter things up. And, it's in Dungeon World! I would play this, if I had more gamers.

The alpha draft has a lot of tyops in it, though. Maybe I should offer them a list.

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24 October 2015 - Saturday

Boo, the grocery store just down the street from my new place is going out of business. Everyone should go to the Trader Joe's website and tell them to put a store at the corner of Bird and Minnesota in San Jose 95125!


  • Steven Universe 9-10: Back to back big cat themes!
  • Whispered Words 10: The obligatory beach episode and the obligatory Comiket episode! So efficient!
  • Silver Spoon 8: The more we learn about the main character's family, the better Hokkaido looks.
  • Dennou Coil 9: The obligatory test of courage episode!
  • Legend of Korra 3.9: Note to self: next time PCs are on a stake-out, make them roll willpower to not express their personalities in a dysfunctional way.

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23 October 2015 - Friday

I handed in the keys! The old place is officially Not My Problem! And I was there for a million years, so they have to replace every surface anyway and not deduct it from my deposit!

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22 October 2015 - Thursday

Kelsey suddenly revealed that she is sick, and Mike already had to cancel, so no 13th Age for us. Dave and I distracted Ken by getting completely crushed at Small World Underground. There were some pretty terrible combinations in that race queue; who shuffled that, anyway?

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20 October 2015 - Tuesday

I am so lame that I almost failed, but cleaners will be rampaging through my old apartment tomorrow, and I will turn in the keys on Friday. The end is nigh! (In a good way.)


Merman In My Tub vol 1 (Itokichi) is the story of a hapless Japanese teenage boy who rescues a stranded merman and ends up with a permanent freeloader. Despite the similarity to other series in which a hapless Japanese teenage boy rescues a supernatural creature, there is no romance, only comedy. Sorry, shounen-ai fans!

In Tokyo ESP vol 1 (Hajime Segawa), glowing sky fish pursued by a flying penguin give people superpowers. The protagonist tries to maintain her common sense, but none of the other fishified people let that stop them from being heroes of justice, supervillains, or other ridiculous things.

The second half of the Cassandra Kresnov series, 23 Years On Fire, Operation Shield, and Originator (Joel Shepherd), reveals hidden secrets about the synthetics' origins and capabilities, but makes Sandy pay for the new powers with new disads and trauma. Still, DNPCs can be very rewarding.

The title of Carter & Lovecraft (Jonathan L Howard) does link to Randolph and HP, but modern-day relatives (bonus points: the modern Lovecraft is a black woman), who are trying to figure out what strangeness their ancestors had to deal with. More bonus points for the evil wizard, but points off for making the strangeness a thing instead of everything (kind of).

The Ramal Extraction, The Vastalimi Gambit, and The Tejano Conflict (Steve Perry, author of The Man Who Never Missed) are military SF about a band of mercenaries with backstories so disparate and extreme that they really do seem like a PC group. They unravel some mysteries which may or may not be related to their current mercenary contracts, and then the third book ends with them all paired off and retiring as a deus ex machina.

Almost by marithlizard (Mon Oct 26 14:02:30 2015)

They say almost only counts for horseshoes and hand grenades! You did not fail! :)

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18 October 2015 - Sunday

Earl is somewhere else, so at his instigation the PAD&D5 PCs had a random desert encounter, which involved history leakage, monkeys, and pirates, and resulted in 580XP, 650GP, and a scroll of charm person. If this is accepted as canon, another encounter or two could get them to 6th level before they have to enter the Pit of the Black Sun!

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17 October 2015 - Saturday

Ayse and Dave helped me schlep books (plus a few minor items) from my old place to San Jose, where they will eventually be packed into boxes and sent to Better World Books. Now I just need to get the place cleaned and I can be done with it!


  • Steven Universe 8: It is just like the teacups!
  • Whispered Words 8-9: Aw, poor idealistic yuri fangirl.
  • Silver Spoon 7: The philosophy of high-efficiency food-animal care!
  • Dennou Coil 8: Cool motorcycle-riding aunt finally takes off her helmet!
  • Legend of Korra 3.8: What?! real cops don't start agreeing with superheroes just because there's a supervillain attack!

Little Free Library by marithlizard (Thu Oct 22 14:00:26 2015)

Oh, what an awesome idea! And there's 10 of them right in our zipcode - we should start visiting them and sharing books.

Re: Little Free Library by Trip (Thu Oct 22 16:46:40 2015)

In fact there is one right by my new apartment, although I cannot put books into it until I have unpacked the books.

Library by Avalon (Fri Oct 23 19:04:59 2015)

I love that I saw that one near you and know what it looks like!

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15 October 2015 - Thursday

Our new 13th Age gamer Grant has changed jobs so he will no longer be available in the evenings. This is very sad, but it sounds like a much less horrible work environment, so we must be happy for him.

Dave had also been making noises about not liking his secondary character (and maybe also his primary character?), so he was the first victim of the kobold war-rocket bombardment. Grant's character was the last victim, and was only seen shooting off into the distance, since he might come back sometime. In between, there were kobold gliders, lizard-surfing, wire-fu martial arts, and at least one large explosion. Wheee!

Next week, after some more abuse, the surviving secondary characters will reach fourth level and get dumped into a pit of doom with the primary characters. This time for sure!


Shadows of Self (Brandon Sanderson), the sequel to The Alloy of Law, is out. I actually got quite far into it before deciding that I didn't remember the first book well enough to be entirely certain what was going on, and then Amazon saved me. SoS brings in more parts of the setting left over from the first trilogy, which have naturally evolved in the ensuing centuries. Some of them have evolved to be more chill, but some have evolved into supervillains, apparently with the involvement of even scarier supervillains. And doom, did we mention the doom?

Speaking of doom, She Walks In Shadows (ed Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Paula R Stiles) is a collection of Lovecraftian stories all by female writers and about female protagonists, some about one of the very few female characters in Lovecraft, one about HPL's mother. The protagonists do not get off any easier than in any other Lovecraftian stories (like anyone was worried about that). In no particular order, my favorite stories were the ones by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Valerie Valdes, Rodopi Sisamis, Inkeri Kontro, Arinn Dembo, E Catherine Tobler, Angela Slatter, Jilly Dreadful, and Amelia Gorman.

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13 October 2015 - Tuesday

I was going to go to Mountain View to work on cleaning out my old apartment, but no! It is Liralen-dinner! So I was going to go to Mountain View to have dinner with people, but no! Light rail to the train station was down because someone came to a tragic end on the tracks! VTA promised a bus bridge, but no! It did not show up for almost two hours! Large dinners go on for hours, so I figured I could show up a little late and it would still work out, but no! Caltrain was down too!

I gave up and went home.

Liralen Dinner by Carl (Thu Nov 5 22:17:37 2015)

We missed you at the Liralen Dinner! Sympathies on the perfidious transit, and to whatever unfortunate met their end on the tracks.

Re: Liralen Dinner by Trip (Tue Nov 17 10:33:24 2015)

I think it was actually two unfortunates, one per transit system. Curses!

Hopefully next year I will not also be in the middle of moving and can both dine with Liralen and go to the con.

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12 October 2015 - Monday

This weekend was not as exciting as last weekend, because Avalon is sadly in Toronto. I mean, it's where she lives and stuff, but it is inconveniently far from Willow Glen!

There was Monarch festival in Santa Cruz on Sunday, which was hot and had many more people than butterflies, but was more interesting than sitting at home playing Marvel Puzzle Quest, which is what I probably would have done otherwise.


There was anime this weekend too!

  • Legend of Korra 3.6-3.7: You can tell benders are superheroes, by the way emotional drama always comes out as martial arts battles.
  • Silver Spoon 6: The more we find out about the protagonist's home life, the more sensible his school counselor seems.
  • Whispered Words 7: Akemiya's little sister is pretty horrible. I think she was raised by the Internet.
  • Steven Universe 5-7: This is growing on me, like some silicon-based life form from outer space. Also, first appearance of Connie, who I hear will be awesome.

The Flux (Ferrett Steinmetz) is the sequel to Flex, in which obsession-based magic continues to wreak havoc and stir up family drama. Kids with magic are... very upsetting. Despite all the doom, though, the ending, or maybe the epiphany leading to the protagonist's understanding of the ending, is pretty optimistic.

Ancillary Mercy (Ann Leckie) is out, so I had to reread Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. There was no choice, I tell you! Then I was prepared for the new one, which is equally awesome. I was not expecting the solution to many problems to be what it was, but it did make sense and was clearly a right thing to do anyway. I was also pleased to find out more about the universe, although now I am deeply suspicious of the Presger treaty.

An Ancient Peace (Tanya Huff) is labelled as a spin-off from the "Valor" series, but it's really a straight continuation. Mustering out after ending a war doesn't make a Gunnery Sergeant any less good at fixing problems no one else wants known. Turns out pacifist aliens have sordid pasts too...


I finally managed to both get and read the third playtest packet for he 13th Age in Glorantha. It is awesome, and will be only more awesome when it is finished, whenever that ends up being. I shouldn't say any more than that, since I probably swore myself to secrecy when I pledged at the playtest-access level, alas. My plan is to make Al play it when Ken and I go up to Roseville for Thanksgiving, since normally no one has time for additional gaming.

Speaking of 13th Age, I have not been writing about the regular game at all, which is silly, since we have new gamers! Ken's friends from the Vampire game, Grant and Kelsey, have come to play 13th Age with us on Thursday evenings. Since they weren't familiar with the system, everyone made 1st-level characters, to be levelled up quickly to 4th (for Grant's tiefling ranger and Kelsey's cleric) or killed off (for all the people who have existing 4th-level characters) and then dropped into the Stone Thief to join the existing party.

I sent them on an adventure after ancient dwarven knowledge, which rapidly progressed to them getting marooned over a contract dispute, having to fight a sentient warbanner and its minions, getting rescued by paladins who they avoided getting into a fight with, and most recently breaking into a gladiator's apartment in Axis and cutting off her hands. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time?

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5 October 2015 - Monday

Avalon visited!!!

Because Circumstances, I only had her from the middle of Saturday until Sunday evening, and a lot of that was eaten up by transit (going from San Jose to SFO and back takes forever), but we managed to spend many hours together, and there was cuddling! Also yummy food, at places in my new neighborhood, and Ghirardelli stomped all over her in the night. Victory! (But no anime.)

Earl cancelled PAD&D5 this fortnight, but I took Avalon to Jeremy & Rachel's to show her off anyway, and we played Give Me The Brain and Jux and Fluxx and looked for the lost art of conversation while Edie wrecked the kitchen making rootbeer hard candy. Then, to Sushi Infinity and beyond!

Unfortunately, what lay beyond Sushi Infinity was Avalon going to do the other things she is in California for, which was not as fun. I went shopping and went home and sulked. But not too much.

The visit by Avalon (Sun Oct 11 10:31:53 2015)

It definitely was too short but it was amazing and fun and I can't wait to come back!!!! XOXOXO

Re: the visit by marithlizard (Sun Oct 11 11:20:19 2015)

It was very nice to meet Avalon! And Jus was tickled to have two aunties to play with. :)

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1 October 2015 - Thursday

HAPPY HAPPY JUS-DAY!!


Catching up on anime watched:

  • Whispered Words 4-6: Still just like the manga. Human mating behavior is weird and complicated.
  • Silver Spoon 3-5: This continues to be charming, and we can see where the main character is headed, even if he can't.
  • Dennou Coil 5-7: Finally, peril IRL! Of their own making, naturally.
  • Legend of Korra 3.5: Uh oh, villains!
  • Steven Universe 1-4: Not quite as surreal as the pilot, but still very bizarre. I think I see how it can be popular on the Internets, though.

Games:

The Perilous Wilds is a third-party supplement for Dungeon World offering more detail for overland travel and exploring the blanks that you left in your maps. The full bundle from the Kickstarter includes Perilous Almanacs (six interesting areas for PCs to never return from, by various contributors), Freebooters on the Frontier (low-powered Dungeon World where the win condition is to save up 10,000sp and retire), A Book of Beasts (additional monsters for all climates), and Mad Vandel's Map Pack (unlabelled maps, in variants with/out hex grid and sometimes with/out terrain features other than coasts, which seems pointless but made me want to explore). Why am I not playing Dungeon World?

Weird Discoveries is ten quick Numenera adventures, each probably enough for a night's gaming given the way PCs stay on task. Numenera is a setting in which stumbling across a floating pyramid full of intelligent slime is completely unexceptional, so this works just fine.

Faerie Skies is a supplement for Golden Sky Stories, for playing as faerie creatures in a small town in Britain. It's by the GSS translator, not the original author, but it matches the tone very well.


Books:

A catgirl romantic interest is always worth points, but Randoms (David Liss) falls down on worldbuilding and having aliens with more than one brain cell apiece. Possibly I wouldn't have minded when I was 12, but I like to think I would have noticed how much the alien civilization doesn't hold together.

To Honor You Call Us (H Paul Honsinger) is very explicitly Patrick O'Brian In Space. I can't judge how well they scratch the same itch for the millions of O'Brian fans, but aside from that, they have a few serious flaws. Apparently a complete lack of female characters is such a crucial aspect of the original books that it had to be preserved by having half of the female human population chopped up and put in a refrigerator killed by rat-alien bioweapons and the survivors not allowed to risk their precious uteri in space. Boo, hiss! There is also an excess of unnecessary technobabble, and aliens that seem kind of dim.

The adventures of Lizzie Borden, Mythos investigator, continue in Chapelwood (Cherie Priest), where there are KKK cultists and insane accountants.

Crossover, Breakaway, and Killswitch (Joel Shepherd, who also wrote Renegade: The Spiral Wars) are the first three books about a robot soldier who decides to desert and go live in the polity that doesn't make robot slaves to die for it. This is not as relaxing as she had hoped. Naturally, there is a lot of philosophizing about the nature of personhood and what it takes to make a society worth living in, as well as the action. There is a lot of political maneuvering that is deeper than most military SF has, and apparently all intelligence organizations are Chaotic Evil and probably treasonous.

The third "Russell's Attic" book, Root of Unity (SL Huang), has another plot to take over the world, but this time, with MATH! Also, Cas continues to be a mess, but now she knows there is a reason for it. She doesn't know the reason, but at least there is one!

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