Previously, in Trip's Life...
29 November 2015 - Sunday
I have returned safely from the Annual Thanksgiving Roseville Visiting
Extravaganza! Much visiting occured! Food was eaten! Terrible band members
were complained about! Marching band shows were seen! Ayse and Ken were
exposed to Captain America and The Avengers and
liked both of them! Food was eaten! But no Marith, because she had to go
to the Caribbean with her crazy family.
We tried out
13th Age in Glorantha
and it was somehow not a disaster even though I was GMing. Our conclusion
was that the Gloranthan classes were underpowered compared to the core
13th Age classes, but reasonably fun. Not sure about the horoscope runes,
As always, Al and Sherilyn were exemplary hosts and friends, and
completely concealed any desire to stab me for being a terrible
On the way back, we exposed Robert to Night Vale. Muahahahaha.
The protagonist of Seriously Wicked (Tina Connolly) is
being raised in modern times by a wicked (well, at least obnoxious and
secretive) witch, which makes high school even more fraught than it would
be otherwise. Tying magic spells to algebra is a little too pat, and
nothing else in the book is very surprising, but it was entertaining.
Windswept (Adam Rakunas) is union-based SF adventure,
starring a cynical and grouchy union rep on a planet mostly inhabited by
people who bail from evil megacorp ships and evil megacorp contracts even
if it means raising and processing sugar cane for industrial molasses to run
interstellar civilization (I didn't really buy that part either). Union
intrigue leads to corporate intrigue leads to everything on fire and
falling off a beanstalk, whee!
Apparently "Cthulhu Fhtagn" translates as "Great Cthulhu's House". (Yes,
"Cthulhu" translates as "Great Cthulhu", and if you think that this
infinite expansion is a problem, you just. Don't. UNDERSTAND! ...ahem.)
The stories in Cthulhu Fhtagn! (ed Ross E Lockhart), however,
are not all set in R'lyeh. They are all at least nominally location-based,
but in four-dimensional space-time, that's not a high bar. Anyway,
monsters and cosmic despair!
The setting book for Strange Stars
is system-neutral, but there also exists the Strange Stars Fate
Rulebook, which is a pretty standard implementation of Fate Core for
SF, mostly stock except for Wealth stress and organizations. It is not very
well constructed as a gaming book, though, being in large part bare Fate
stats with page numbers for the corresponding entity in the setting book.
Since they already had the setting book, you'd think they could have
combined the two into one proper book.
The rulebook did have a pointer to the creator's
blog, though, which has all the stuff that went into the setting book
and more, and it's definitely OSR. Not only are some aliens ports of the
slaad, but there are also ported aboleths.
The gimmick of Nurse Hitomi's Monster Infirmary (Shake-O)
is not holding up for a third volume. Sad.
Volume 7 of Monster Musume (Okayado) made no sense in a way
that did not follow from the lack of sense in the last volume I read,
because that turned out to be volume 4 instead of volume 6. I had to go
back to the bookstore to pick up 5 and order 6, but someday it will all
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22 November 2015 - Sunday
Today people carted away my excess futon frame, and also my ancient TV
and DVD player. Now I need to think about how to replace them with shiny
new equivalents, but the design-your-own-couch store up the street starts
at $1400 for a normal-sized couch, which seems like too much for someone
with cats. I guess it's mail-order time.
Also today, I found a bookstore! It is somewhat far, but the bus goes
pretty much directly there if one is willing to ride long enough. It is a
huge chain bookstore, but even so I feel better about shopping there than hiding
at home and only buying things on Amazon. Er, not that I buy books in
physical form much, so I spent a while browsing the new SF section and
noting down things that seemed interesting, but then I sort of went
overboard with manga and art books, so I think they have their value from
me taking up space in their store.
What time is it? by Avalon (Fri Nov 27 22:05:10 2015)
Ikea time by Trip (Wed Dec 2 08:22:35 2015)
Well, ikea.com time, anyway. The nearest Ikea is in East Palo Alto, which is kind of a pain.
Make a comment!
21 November 2015 - Saturday
Apparently I am a valued uncle to Nonny and Jus. I guess they are young
and cannot be counted upon to show good sense yet!
No Marith, but we had a little anime anyway.
- Dennou Coil 11-12: For some reason, I thought that
episode was 13. But no, it is 12! Episode 11 also has Illegals
- Brother, Dear Brother 4: Thanks for digging up dirt on the
main character's background, bitter loser! Now we can jump to all kinds
of conclusions! (Mostly that people's lives would be so much better if
they only communicated (and used proper security in doing so).)
- Silver Spoon 3-4: All horses, all the time! Or, Hachiken
and Maron's big confession scene! Also we find out who the blonde idiot
is, and sure enough, she's the Nanami character.
I have been reading gaming PDFs!
The Three Rocketeers is a short World of Adventure setting for Fate Accelerated,
which is pretty much what you might expect: replace major European powers of
the 18th century with interstellar polities, add forcefields to all the
swords, and away you go.
Despite the awesome name, Starfall is
only so-so. Aliens invaded in 1951 and stomp all over everything with their
horrible chitinous cyborg feet, humans must use a generic dice pool system
to resist them.
Although somehow it came to me as part of an OSR bundle,
is actually system-neutral, and probably not even well-suited for OSR
mechanics. It is the far future, where Earth has been forgotten and the
modified successor species to humanity tangle with aliens, strange
knowledge, and transcendent technologies. It is supposed to be evocative,
rather than descriptive, which it does okay at.
A Red &
Pleasant Land actually is OSR, but is also Wonderland in a twisted
reflection. Four courts of vampires, an entire country of dungeons and
twisted space, nonsensical quests, jabberwocky, and puzzles that kill you
instantly if you don't figure them out, all for your suitably high-level
(like it will help) OSR characters!
Yoon-Suin is a
more usual sort of OSR weird setting, based loosely on
central/south/south-east Asia: self-mummified monks, yak-men of the northern
mountains, jungles haunted by evil spirits, a great city ruled by slug-men,
tables for exotic varieties of tea and opium with bizarre effects,
squabbling philosophies, the Cult of the Elephant God, degenerate survivors
of lost civilizations, enlightened hermits with incomprehensible powers, and
more. There are lots of ways to get your character sheet permanently
altered, not usually for the better.
Make a comment!
19 November 2015 - Thursday
Kelsey did not get the good job, which is very sad but does mean she
can keep gaming with us.
This week, the PCs went into the dungeon that no one ever comes out of,
following the person they are still intent on rescuing, and killed a dragon
when they failed to intimidate it into giving up its prisoner. There was
considerable doubt as to whether it could be done, but it actually worked
pretty well and only one character was melted by acid so much that he
couldn't be put back together. Next week is Thanksgaving, but after that the
two teams will be combined or something, and I can go back to playing
Anwë very badly.
It's not very well written, but... nah, The Rules of
Supervillainy (CT Phipps) is just not very well written. It does
have a lot of the recurrance of characters and secret-ID shenanigans famous
from comic books, though, and some fairly alarming supervillains.
Speak Easy is made of Catherynne M Valente's flamboyant
language, 1920s edition. In the Hotel Artemisia, the good times never
stop, even when a mysterious door appears in the closet of a young flapper
who has come to the city to charm everyone while finding her talent,
leading to the darkness beneath everything.
The prequel series to the "Parasol Protectorate", set aboard a flying
finishing school for female spies, ends happily with Manners &
Mutiny (Gail Carriger). Villains are thwarted, boys are smooched,
the realm is saved, everyone wins.
Legions is by the same guy who did Stars Without
Number, and likewise brings OSR
mechanics to a non-fantasy genre, in this case Lovecraftian horror. The
parts on making up horroriffic monsters and adventures are good, especially
if you like idea tables or dislike the established Cthulhu mythos, but OSR
mechanics are meh. At least this version has a skill system, so there is
something besides combat mechanics that will only get your character
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15 November 2015 - Sunday
After being terrified into the Giant Pit Mine of Unlight & Dinosaurs, the PAD&D5
PCs wander around trying to gather intelligence (all jokes applicable)
for their inevitable assault on the Dark Tower. The Black-Sun-reflecting
mirrors that focus the unlight on the antisolar power receiver atop the
tower turn out to be guarded by acidic monstrosities that are invisible
unless you look at them in the mirror, and everyone except Zach wishes
they were invisible then too. The cycad jungle is full of synapsid
predators of various sorts, which the (giant, mutated) kobolds apparently
produce in the tower and then herd out over the bridge of glass. Despite
the Frederick's desire to hijack a kobold scout's pteranodon, the PCs
stay mostly under cover until they stumble upon a patrol of allosaur
riders and violence ensues. They try to break contact and lie low, but
the derelict mining machine they hide in turns out to be haunted, and
the now-deserted mirror-guardian tunnels around their first encounter
are not enough to foil the keen senses of the kobolds' tracking
dogosaurs. Things look grim for a bit, until Ella does her ever-popular
bear trick, and finally the PCs are able to capture a kobold and grill
her on what's going on.
The kobolds are there to grow strong under the Black Sun, which shone
when they ruled the world and mammals were little rat-things, before Apollo
ruined everything with this whole White Sun nonsense. They are also seeding
the surrounding desert with shattered mirrors, spreading the influence of
the Black Sun across the region and eventually the world! Muahahahaha! They
do produce dinosaurs in the basement of the tower, using titansblood
distilled from the light of the Black Sun by the Deathless Assassins on the
middle floors (who also use titansblood to make their bodies, and possibly
to power their gate to the outside world). Somewhere near the top live an
ancient reptilian witch, and her humanish disciple who cannot die. Glass
coffins may be involved.
Starvation Cheap is a
supplement for the OSR Traveller-genre Stars Without
Number, but not much of it is actually OSR mechanics. Mostly, it's a
gamer-level description of how modern militaries are put together and
function, a low-res system for mass combat and determining how the war is
going overall, and random idea fuel for creating both wars the high-level
PCs' mercenary outfit might want to get involved in and individual missions
the low-level PCs could get sent on. All of these could be used for any
similar setting, or maybe even setting of a similar tone.
Volume 2 of Rat Queens (Kurtis J Wiebe, Roc Upchurch,
Stjepan Sejic) continues the sass, sorcery, tragic backstories, sex, and
tentacles. How can you go wrong?
Make a comment!
14 November 2015 - Saturday
HAPPY HAPPY NONNY-DAY!!
Naturally, the best present was cars.
The new PMH pizza with pulled
pork and tiny bits of pork skin was interesting, but I do not feel the
need to repeat the experience. The Figgy Piggy is still great.
Marith has no more super-stressful job! However, her doctor suggested
that part of the reason her tummy is always upset is what she eats, so
we had to get her a tomatoless pizza.
- Dennou Coil 10: Finally they are finding out stuff
about Kanna. Also, mysterious labyrinths in plain sight!
- Brother, Dear Brother 3: Another fiendish plot enabled
by the lack of mobile phones!
- Silver Spoon 2.1-2.2: I was right, Hachiken's future is
- Legend of Korra 3.11: Apparently this is one of those
settings where combat experience can overcome any amount of formal
- Steven Universe 13-14: The common theme of these two
episodes: it's hard being a teenager.
Make a comment!
12 November 2015 - Thursday
Finally, the 13th Age side
plot with the B team leveling up quickly and being inexorably drawn to meet
up with the A team is nearly at an end! After crushing a bunch of orcs
beneath a landslide and jacking their wyverns, the B team has arrived at
Scarsdale and it is now all Ken's problem! But, this may all have been in
vain since Kelsey is also looking at a new job that will have her working
evenings instead of gaming. It sounds like a much better job than her
current one in every respect, so we all hope she gets it, but then we will
need new gamers again.
In Soth, the PCs are cultists in
a small town, trying to summon their dark god. Only three more human
sacrifices, and infinite power will be ours! I mean, theirs. But they have
to avoid arousing the suspicions of the townspeople... There is a GM, but
all the townspeople and other impediments to victory are generated during
play, so there's almost no prep required.
When I saw the title of The Long Way to a Small, Angry
Planet (Becky Chambers), I figured it meant Earth, but no! It is
legitimate space opera, although of dubious scienceness in some aspects,
and actually pretty charming.
Drag Hunt (Pat Kelleher) and Rupert Wong, Cannibal
Chef (Cassandra Khaw) are novellas in the setting of the "Gods and
Monsters" shared universe thingie, as seen in Unclean Spirits
(Chuck Wendig) and Mythbreaker (Stephen Blackmoore), but not
concerned with the main plot. In Drag Hunt, Coyote loses his
penis (again) and must retrieve it from obnoxious and misguided
conspirators; trickster high jinks ensue. The hero of Rupert
Wong is trying work off his damning load of bad karma by serving as
mediator and general facilitator for the supernatural community of Kuala
Lumpur, which includes ghouls, the spirits of human sacrifices, vampire
babies who want to unionize, trouble-causing foreign riffraff, and other
sources of morbid laughs (for the reader, not for Rupert).
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8 November 2015 - Sunday
I checked out the local comics shop, but they carry approximately 0
manga, so they are useless to me. Useless, I say!
There are no real bookstores nearby, nor gaming stores. Bah!
Finally I managed to be organized enough to invite Dave over to help
me move my big bookcase to where Avalon said it should go. I repaid him
with fuzzy brown purrs.
I'm always certain I'm GMing 13th Age wrong,
but after reading the 13th
Age Game Master's Resource Book maybe I'm not that far off. It did
convince me that icon relationships need to have concrete stories, not just
vague thematic sympathies, and that I shouldn't feel bad about cranking up
the difficulty of battles beyond "fair". Also, terrain is good, even if
fighting on the grid is easier. (When I get the physical book, it will come
with a GM screen, which I probably won't use but arguably should.)
Space Opera uses Fate Core for
the kind of mystic, non-sciency SF seen in Dune or Star
Wars or Lexx. Peasants living in primitive squalor,
advanced technology understood only by secretive guilds in fancy robes,
genetically-engineered elite, semi-immortal psionic god-emperor, etc. In
general, if you like the tropes of this subgenre, you'll like
BSO; otherwise, note. However, one thing that bugged me
possibly out of proportion was that the empire is described as containing a
hundred planets, being 149ka old, and having planets undergo colonization
as a regular thing. I guess that could work if colony planets were
strip-mined and then abandoned, but you'd think a swath of devastation like
that would deserve mention.
is another Japanese RPG brought over by the same people who translated
Tenra Bansho Zero.
Ryuutama is much closer to
Golden Sky Stories
in tone, though, even though it does have violence. It is to a large
extent a tabletopification of CRPGs of a certain period, with equipable
items, magic herbs found while wandering the map, non-positional combat,
and goofy-looking monsters, but there is an in-game justification for
people wandering around, at least. There is also an in-game role for the
GM, which includes justifications for the PCs' lives being interesting
but not too painful. It may be heartwarming, and is definitely kind of
The Hellsblood Bride (Chuck Wendig) is the sequel to
Blue Blazes, in which the problems at the end of the first
book get much, much worse, and the protagonist must choose between two
unacceptable options. We find out more about the terrible underworld,
but the new magic encountered doesn't seem entirely consistent with
worm-gods. Nevertheless, it may give me Ideas.
Ronin Galaxy archives is
shounen comedy with a little action, apparently defunct now.
Exodus: Machine War: Book 1 (Doug Dandridge) is more
substandard military space opera. There seems to be a lot of that sort
of thing on Amazon.
Esoterrorism: From the Secret Files of the Red Room (CT Phipps)
explores the question of "what if the secret conspiracy to protect
humanity from knowledge of the supernatural was composed entirely of
complete rat bastards?". The answer is not pretty (except the succubus
part of the answer).
Yah, pretty much.
Amazon by Avalon (Fri Nov 13 18:47:06 2015)
delivers, I have heard. =)
local comic shops by marithlizard (Sun Nov 15 18:11:02 2015)
You could order manga from them as an encouraging gesture! Still likely cheaper than Amazon and morally superior at the same time!
Re: local comic shops by Trip (Mon Nov 16 08:33:09 2015)
Isn't Amazon always cheaper because they can negotiate bulk discounts? Anyway, of course I can order online, but that's not as good for browsing and seeing what's new.
Make a comment!
7 November 2015 - Saturday
- Silver Spoon 10-11: Wow, that's a lot of bacon. But
then, they have a lot of growing teenagers to devour it. Why don't I
have that much bacon?
- Brother, Dear Brother 1-2: "Wait, what happened? Did
the train explode?" "No, that was just the sky emitting a bolt of PURE
MELODRAMA!" Creepy goth girls with painted thumbnails! Artificial class
distinctions! The Umbrella of Contempt!
- Steven Universe 12: Ah, this is where all that gem
fusion talk on Tumblr comes from.
- Legend of Korra 3.10: This is not a good plan for
disgovernance. But it seems unlikely anyone will miss that queen.
Make a comment!
5 November 2015 - Thursday
Finally, Kelsey made it to gaming. With pizza!
This session, I oppressed the PCs with orcs, and then bonus orcs. It
did not go so well for the orcs, because I forgot to double the opposition
for all parties that include a barbarian.
In The Rest of Us Just Live Here (Patrick Ness), the
chapter headings tell the story of teenagers with unusual names and tragic
backstories having an adventurous and romantic and betrayal-filled time
protecting the world from the latest supernatural threat that no adult will
acknowledge or talk about later. In the actual chapters, the narrator and
his friends are just trying to get through their last few weeks of high
school while dealing with love, dysfunctional families, impending
separation, electoral shenanigans, and the mysterious events that are going
on in their small town.
That was pretty good, so I also read The Knife of Never Letting
Go (Patrick Ness), which is set on a colony planet where a local
plague turns all men into broadcast telepaths. Somehow, this fails to lead
to a culture of univeral honesty and goodwill even toward other humans,
never mind the local sophonts. A large part of the book is the protagonist
finding out about the world outside his small town.
The heroine of Free Agent, Armageddon Rules,
and Wish Bound (JC Nelson) works for a fairy godfather who
eschews magic in the providing of services. It's just not cost-effective
compared to mundane methods like cleavage and guns. There is,
nevertheless, a lot of magic going on, and princes and queens and hidden
magical kingdoms and evil witches and worse werewolves and actual demons
and wars among all of the foregoing. Some aspects of the setting are
comedic (frequently in very dark ways), but there is plenty of trauma to
go around, and not necessarily much happily-ever-after.
The Blue Blazes (Chuck Wendig) also has a hidden world of
magic, but it's in the tunnels beneath NYC and goes down through horror
after horror to where the worm-gods dwell in the Ravenous Expanse. The main
character is a Big Bruiser for the overmob, the one that restricts traffic
in the blue mineral that lets you see the monsters for what they are to
those in the know, and keeps the goblins and serpent people mostly down in
their tunnels instead of up preying on humans. He has a troubled family
life, which he completely earns his disad points for, and naturally
everything goes to hell and he gets beat up and subjected to grotesque
fates. Surely you expected nothing less from Wendig?
Make a comment!
1 November 2015 - Sunday
Hurray, we have a real GM for PAD&D5
Apparently the side trip to the shallow sea of leaked history did not
put the invisible stalker off Zach's trail, but it can't actually see
him, so after driving it off once and then hiding inside rocks to
recuperate, the PCs are able to jump it and beat on it until Dain gets
tired of it and uses dispel magic.
Then, after a brief encounter with the annoying senior professor who
called them out into the desert in the first place and his obnoxious grad
students, they decline the chance to have The Frederick launched from a
trebuchet into a huge zone that is hidden from all awareness and conscious
entry, instead preferring to have him magically terrorize them into
fleeing down a sewer through the ward, while they drag him along with a
rope. Apparently Zach gets surprisingly good traction when frightened.
The hidden realm is a giant pit mine, miles wide, full of cycads and
dinosaurs and mirrors reflecting the Black Sun, with an enormous tower
supporting a sphere of blinding unlight. Depending on how far down the
spiral they want to go, the PCs can cross to the tower on a rope bridge
from a kobold encampment, a glass bridge from somewhere dubious, or
the swamp full of horrible bugs at the very bottom. Dinosaur-punching seems
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