Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 December 2015 - Thursday

Last day of 2015! Have I accomplished anything this year? I got a new job and a new place to live, so that's something, right?

As is the custom of our people, we had Earl fondue for New Year's Eve dinner. Some people were silly, but not all of them had the excuse of drink. Ayse and Cat planned a Eurovision Finals party for May. Coloring books were colored. Silly videos were watched on Youtube.

My girlfriend is miles and timezones away, so I did not get any smooches at midnight. Woe!

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30 December 2015 - Wednesday

Back from Roseville! Marith sensibly stopped driving and moved around some when she was sleepy, which puts her ahead of many drivers.

The opening song to Stein's;Gate reminded me of the thing that it made me think of before (which has nothing to do with the anime, actually). If I didn't suck, I would write.

After only finding the first couple of volumes years ago, I finally found the omnibus editions of all six volumes of Inukami! (Mamizu Arisawa, Mari Matsuzawa). At least, the story seems to conclude there, so although the genre is like Ranma ½, it is not infinitely long.

write! write! write! by marithlizard (Thu Jan 7 18:28:09 2016)

Imagine your own personal cheerlizard squad. They do handstands and tailstands. :)

Re: write! write! write! by Trip (Fri Jan 8 12:45:17 2016)

I haven't managed to write yet. On Tuesday I reread a bunch of my old stuff (not that there's any other kind) and maybe some of it's only 500 times worse than anything Earl or Susan writes, as opposed to the 1000 times worse that I originally estimated. Interestingly, the piece that Ayse said was good, I couldn't bring myself to read more than a page or two of.

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29 December 2015 - Tuesday

Still in Roseville! Despite kids and more kids, we played 13th Age in Glorantha again, this time with real Glorantha (IE, Al as GM). We went from Pavis into Sun County, investigated a Chaos infestation, and killed a cultist and a bunch of horrible monsters in an underground temple built from an official Lunar Imperial Chaos Temple kit. Also, drugs. I don't think we generated any new playtest feedback, though, since everyone already knows earth priestesses are complicated and Humakti are terrifying.

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28 December 2015 - Monday

With Dave away, Ayse, Ken, Jus, and Nonny all fit in one car, so Marith and I had to make our own way to Roseville. This was difficult because other people drive on our roads, but we did eventually make it without killing anyone! Not even each other!

Yay friends!

driving to Roseville by marithlizard (Tue Jan 5 19:11:15 2016)

Hey! Those pedestrians were hardly even in danger at all!

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26 December 2015 - Saturday

No anime, because Dave is out of town, and anyway Ayse and Ken are too worn out from hosting Christmas dinner to have people over again.

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25 December 2015 - Friday

Merry Newtonmas!

Ayse and Ken had feasting and friendship at their place, so I went there and ate turkey and searched for the lost art of conversation.

Myriad Aliens contains more alien species for Myriad Song PCs, but not nearly as well written. The prose reads like it was translated badly from another language, and the new species are kind of one-note and not very interesting.

The Gods of HP Lovecraft (ed Aaron J French) also addresses some of the iconic but less singular Mythos entities, like Deep Ones and Mi-Go, which is good because it gets Seanan McGuire's story of unethical science into the anthology. The other stories vary in quality, but none of them are complete duds, although I'm dubious about the editor(?)-added chapter starts, which don't seem to be quite canon. But maybe I would understand if I lost more SAN.

In Apotheosis (ed Jason Andrew), the gods of HP Lovecraft (or other equally incomprehensible horrors) have already arrived as foretold by prophecy, and the remaining humans struggle to survive or maybe just struggle as their various fates envelope them. In some pieces, humanity is still doing something recognizeable, but in others there are just a few survivors circling the drain maw.

The heroine of Monstrous (MarcyKate Connolly) was assembled from parts that include a heart too good for what is actually going on, but too new to spot the twist that is obviously impending. It is very fairy-tale, but maybe a bit too obvious.

MILA 2.0 and its sequel MILA 2.0: Renegade (Debra Driza) are also about a scratch-built teenage girl, but this one is a more normal sort of robot. Normal in the comic-book sense, anyway, where any one line on her character sheet would represent enough of a breakthrough to revolutionize at least one industry, but none of those breakthroughs appear anywhere except in the heroine and her evil twin.

Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, and Ex-Purgatory (Peter Cline) are also in the comic-book genre: superheroes vs the zombie apocalypse. There are only a few supers, but enough to protect an enclave of living humans in the middle of Hollywood, and they span a fair breadth of types and origins which means they bring a variety of Hunteds and other problems to break the monotony of endless zombie swarm. It makes me want to play not-entirely-ironic supers again.

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23 December 2015 - Wednesday

Arcadia is off for the rest of the year, so it's Ultra-Friday! Wheeeee!

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20 December 2015 - Sunday

This week's PAD&D5 was a short attempt to justify behaving like PCs, followed by a long and epic fight against twin demigoddesses, their ghostly servants, and their ectoplasmic hair. The hair didn't attack, but it did feed life energy to them both while not severed, and they already had plenty of hit points. Fortunately, Dain was able to turn about half of the ghosts so the sisters couldn't get bonuses from having them nearby, and Zach brilliantly sacrificed a magic item to get both of the sisters on the Ethereal plane so they couldn't get bonuses from swapping planes and cursing people from surprise, so in the end the side of getting Apollo to remove his curses triumphed!

That still left the problem of the tower and its active damper motivated by a cyclops and his herd of electric sheep. That was a bit too much acid damage to face, so instead the PCs explained to the dragon and kobolds guarding the mirror controls that they should move the focal point from the collector/damper down to the control room, so they could stop being deprived of the blessing of the Black Sun and become the gods they were always meant to be. The glass cracked under the titanic cold, and the whole tower collapsed into the swamp, letting the White Sun back in to the valley of doom while the PCs swooped away on their etheral gingerbread riding dog.

It was a fittingly triumphant conclusion to gaming in 2015.

Because it's the future, I can read PDFs of the Planescape Campaign Setting and In the Cage on my handcomp instead of having to cart around a boxed set of multiple booklets. Wheee!

I had heard that Planescape was the best thing since sliced THAC0s, and I can see how it would have been impressive when it was published twenty-odd years ago, but fortunately the state of the art has caught up with it. Still, I am sure it was seminal, and it seems like it could be entertaining D&D. (But I am sad that Sigil is just a cylindrical section, not a full torus or even better, a cylinder in closed space.)

The title of The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World Again (AC Wise) does not lie! The world is saved many times, and there is much fabulousness as well as rejection of binary gender norms! I was expecting superheroes, but they are actually more like pulp heroes, which I think works better since the derring-do as such is not exactly the point.

Chaika: The Coffin Princess (Ichirou Sakaki, Shinta Sakayama, Namaniku ATK (Nitroplus)) is fantasy ninja adventure, probably not actually post-apocalyptic even though the titular character's major magic item looks a lot like a gun. It's pretty reasonable why the three main characters are chasing down the magic sources they are, but I have a really bad feeling about how it's going to end up.

Bloody Cross vol 1 (Shiwo Komeyama) is made of sparse backgrounds, a limited number of characters, angel/demon intrigue, sexual tension, and betrayal. I quite like it, although it is very something.

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19 December 2015 - Saturday

Ken and Ayse have recovered enough to sit at home and watch anime, at least.

  • Dennou Coil 15: Mysterious boy! With fluttering?
  • Silver Spoon 2.7: It's Cross Game from the outside! With bonus bovine obstetrics.
  • Brother, Dear Brother 7: They made up for now, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time until Creepy Goth Girl does something else horrible. Or Saint-Just gets busted on weapons charges and the school gets shut down.
  • Legend of Korra 4.1-2: "I can't have PTSD, I'm the Avatar". (Actually, it looks like both Korra and the Avatar can have PTSD.)

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18 December 2015 - Friday

Ken is still full of pestilence, and now Ayse is too, so it ended up being Dave and Marith and I who went to see the new Star Wars. No one likes a spoiler, so I'll just quote Dave's review: "It did some things well. It did some things poorly. Some things were surprising. Some things were not surprising."

Then I walked home for an hour in the rain, but oh well. I'm not very water-soluble.

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17 December 2015 - Thursday

No gaming, because Ken is full of pestilence!

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16 December 2015 - Wednesday

For the first time ever, I completed The Big Enchilada in Marvel Puzzle Quest ! Wheee!

One-Punch Man (Yusuke Murata) is apparently the big thing on the Internets, or at least tumblr, so I figured I should check it out. Vol 1 is reasonably funny Japanese superhero parody, but I am pretty sure there are cultural bits I am not getting. There are approximately zero female characters.

The conceit of Livingstone (Tomohiro Maekawa, Jinsei Kataoka) is that human experiences crystalize into psycholiths, which are transferred from person to person for thousands of years, directing each life in accord with their plans. Sometimes, however, humans go off the rails and try to end their lives ahead of plan, which is when the creepy bishounen must step in.

The Mechanical, The Rising, and a third book yet to be produced (Ian Tregillis) are set in an alternate history in which not Newton but Huygens made the great alchemical breakthrough, and so it's the Dutch that conquered everything in sight with their invincible robot armies (individual golems might be slightly vincible, at least to advanced Exile-French chemistry, but the armies, not so much). The theme of these books is Free Will: Do golems have? Do humans have it? What about golems that go rogue? Plus exciting adventure from sophonts on all sides of the question, across the Exile-French refuge in the New World and beyond.

If The Sunset Mantle (Alter S Reiss) is historical fiction, I have no idea when or where it's set, but it has no magic, so it's probably not fantasy. Mmm, genres. Anyway, it is a pretty good story of cleverness, honor, and love in the face of suckweaselry.

Chimera (Mira Grant) concludes the "Parasitology" trilogy of tapeworm-based zombie doom, with even more doom for the protagonist's family but maybe less doom for humans everywhere. Or maybe more. Anyway, it wraps up most of the threads spun by the previous two books, sometimes with horrible infectious death, because Mira Grant.

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13 December 2015 - Sunday

No gaming, only gingerbread! I was good and didn't eat too much candy, but was bad and ate too much sour cream onion dip. There were many people, who were mostly not terrible.

I had to report to Jim that I had failed to preserve both of the cats he entrusted to me long ago. :(.

Maschine Zeit is a game about haunted space stations in geostationary orbit above places like Sweden. (Yes, the designers go on about cinematic reality, but it would make me groan in a movie too, because it's dumb.) The system is a basic percentile roll, with some notion of successes that you can apply to creating/negating facts that I was not able to puzzle out from the written rules. I see no need to try playing this game.

I liked the art in Spectrum 22 (ed John Fleskes) better than in the previous volume, but there is still a lot in styles that I do not care for. Apparently I am a philistine.

The title of the fourth "Long Earth" book, The Long Utopia (Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter), sounds like it should wrap up the series with a massive phase change in human civilization, but not so much. The story revolves around one particular threat based on very Baxterian planetary engineering, and leaves the setting much the same as it began the book. Probably this is due to the world's lamentable lack of Pratchett.

The Astounding Antagonists (Rafael Chandler) is prose supers, with moonbases and evil plans and dimensional invaders and elven princesses and angels and villainous masterminds.

Also prose supers, So Not a Hero (SJ Delos) is grittier though not as well-written, and the super-powers are oddly generic, but on the other hand, busty red-headed reformed supervillain. (Or maybe that's the same hand.)

I don't think that any specific detail in Sperm Wars (Robin Baker) is wrong — certainly I have no standing to dispute the information on cervical uptake, mucus channels, sperm variants, etc, — nor do I disagree that human sexual instincts are the product of evolution and influence behavior in the direction of reproductive success. However, like all evopsych stuff, it suffers from the problem that one can draw a story line between any behavior A and potential consequence B, and frame it as precise and inevitable. This is especially true when one uses completely fictional vignettes to depict behavior A, and can then show how every facet of human sexuality — male masturbation, female masturbation, male orgasm, female orgasm, male homosexuality, female homosexuality, orgies, pool boys, you name it — is always so carefully timed and planned that it leads in one or two simple biological steps to more grandchildren. (To be fair, I have not read the author's earlier work which is purported to have all the numbers to support these claims, but I don't think leaving the numbers out entirely s honest even when trying to write a more popular work.) Also like most evopsych, it is modern-mores-normative and particularly heteronormative, and in fact the author seems to have strange views on how gay men grow up.

Akuma no Riddle vol 1 (Yun Kouga, Sunao Minakata) combines two core manga tropes: all-girls high school, and high school assassins. It seems likely that yuri will ensue, along with violence and mystery.

Clay Lord (Jun Suzumoto) is young shounen adventure with vast (if highly focused) magical power and ancestral golems.

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12 December 2015 - Saturday

It turns out there is an REI accessible by bus, so I was able to get new shoes. Victory!

  • Dennou Coil 14: Recap episode!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 6: Remember: in traditional Japanese society, perfection is mandatory and no one ever has problems.
  • Silver Spoon 2.6: Hachiken's family is just as bad as we thought, but his school appreciates the work he did on the festival.
  • Legend of Korra 3.12-13: End of the third season! The villains are pretty much defeated, although they did get to perform their horrible ritual on the Avatar first. Also, Bo Lin was apparently saving up all his XP!
  • Steven Universe 17-18: More lion! More Connie! More property damage!

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10 December 2015 - Thursday

This week's 13th Age was mostly a skill challenge montage as the orcs poured in to the carefully selected and defended dwarven refuge through the portal to the Dimension of Pain, plus a set-piece battle around the portal involving multiple demons. Finally, at the end of the fight, one of the orc sorcerers was going to unleash the greatest of his attack powers and probably turn the tide of battle single-handedly, but instead fumbled and destroyed the portal with himself on the Pain side. Neener neener!

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9 December 2015 - Wednesday

Marith kindly accompanied me to the company holiday party, providing moral support in exchange for free food. It was very noisy, but the food was pretty decent, and I ended up with a Star Wars blanket in the White Elephant Gift Exchange Frenzy (after losing an emergency phone charger and a customizable magic wand with accompanying tutu). Ghirardelli likes to curl up on the blanket, so I consider this a good outcome.

Apparently what my cow orkers said about me led Marith to believe that they value me. Sheesh. Some people.

Freezing (Dall-Young Lim, Kwang-Hyun Kim) lacks redeeming qualities.

Now I am caught up on Monster Musume (Okayado), and the cheesecake nonsense is in proper chronological order. Rachnera is still best, I think.

In vol 3 of The Ancient Magus' Bride (Kore Yamazaki), we learn more about the main(?) villain, and a little more about Elias's backstory. Plus, dragons!

Despite the names, Bloody Mary (Akaza Samamiya) is about a boy vampire and a boy priest. Who wants to read manga about boys?!

Sorcerer to the Crown (Zen Cho) is most respects straight-forward C19 fantasy, but a black guy and a lower-class woman against Victorian society is pretty awesome. Extra bonus points for the woman not overcoming an entire social structure by being Nice.

The Mysteries of Holly Diem (Zachary Rawlins) is second in the series about the people who live in a mysterious apartment complex in the city that is all of Lovecraft's Dreamlands smushed together into one monster-haunted urban sprawl. A fair amount of secret stuff is revealed in this volume, and as you might expect, none of it makes anything any better. Except maybe the main character, although he's still pretty horrible.

Linesman (SK Dunstall) is SF, but it's very much a self-taught-mage-comes-into-his-own story, even though the magic is strange technology scavenged from alien starships.

The whole plot of Princess Academy (Shannon Hale) hinges on a gratuitous prophecy that the crown prince's wife will come from a certain remote rural province, so meh. On the other hand, collective bargaining for the win. Oh, and there's some romance stuff.

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6 December 2015 - Sunday

Last weekend was Thanksgiving, so this weekend is PAD&D5!

Finally, the PCs enter the giant tower of towering death and antisolar collection! After an extensive planning phase, they decide to use the rest of the candle of etherealness to sneak into the castle on the Ethereal plane where there are hopefully no mutant kobolds or ravening dogasaurs. This actually works pretty well, and they are able to stroll up the glass ramp into the glass tower with none the wiser. Apparently in this part of the Ethereal, only important things like glass and titansblood are reflected from Prime Material, so the huge glass room is full of tendrils of mysterious fluid that wind around in mid-air before fading out in the rough shape of dinosaurs. That's not creepy at all.

Farther up the tower, they find the lair of the Deathless Assassins, complete with giant vats(?) of titansblood being siphoned from the elevator hydraulics and piped into the array of glass coffins containing shadowy comatose bodies. There are also two guards, apparently present on both planes because they are just human shapes of titansblood goo. Naturally a fight breaks out, during which Ella discovers that moonbeam will separate a Deathless ghost from its oozie remote body and also that it will turn vats of titansblood into enormous oozes of corrosive death. However, most of the coffins are destroyed, and hopefully the ooze will eat the real bodies of the Deathless before dripping down to consume the dinosaurs and everything else in the tower.

However, the Deathless are just a grudge, not the reason the PCs are here, so they keep going until they find a familiar-looking young woman inside a glass box surrounded by magic circles. She claims to be the princess, and lures everyone to stand in front of the door by pretending to be interested in reasonable discussion about how leaving the valley would get her killed by the gods, and then blasts them all with cone of cold. With his last hit point, Zach shuts the door in the witch's face and leaves his magic key in the lock.

Sadly, the witch has another way out, but before she mysteriously appears behind Ella, everyone has time to heal up. Without the effect of her opening strike, the PCs don't have too much trouble subduing her, even when she reveals her true ogre mage form in an attempt to outwrestle The Frederick and blacks out the room. Under interrogation, she has a lot to say about immortality and how the gods are always overthrown by their offspring and why the PCs should sign on to her plan for infinite power, but none of it is very convincing, so they move on in search of the actual princesses. Soon enough, they find one!

The first three books in the "Caine Riordan" series (Charles E Gannon), Fire With Fire, Trial By Fire, and Raising Caine, have evil megacorps, conspiracies, invading aliens that are actually a little bit alien, ancient mysteries, heroic resistance fighters, and more conspiracies. I think their future isn't futuristic enough for a couple of hundred years from now, though, relativistic and FTL spaceflight notwithstanding.

I continue to like Citrus (Saburouta). Perhaps vol 4 will come out soon.

Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace (Saito Tatsuo, Chibimaru) is a two-volume sequel to the anime, but only has enough plot for about half of one volume.

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5 December 2015 - Saturday

Because I now live near Ayse and Ken, instead of in a friendless wasteland, I could be swept along to the Zatzes' cookie winter lights party. There were many cookies, but also some vegetables and some lox and too much onion dip and many people. (The people were not for eating.) Ayse had planned to leave after putting in a brief appearance, but in fact we stayed for much longer and got texted by Marith asking why we weren't there for anime.

  • Steven Universe 15-16: But when do we get to see Ranger Guy vs Holo-Pearl?
  • Brother, Dear Brother 5: I wonder if we'll ever find out why they want her in the Illuminati Sorority so badly. It seems dissonant enough that there should be an explanation.
  • Dennou Coil 13: Oh, 13 isn't the silly episode because it's the sad episode.
  • Silver Spoon 5: Yep, administration. And probably an early death from sleep deprivation.

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3 December 2015 - Thursday

Mike ditched us to teach his daughter Kepler's Laws, but we played 13th Age anyway, so there.

Finally we crossed the streams, and Anw¨e; got to be bizarre and creepy in front of the new PC. And there's bizarre creepiness she hasn't even used yet! However, the PCs and two hundred dwarvish townfolk are still trapped in an old dwarven mine with an orcish horde rampaging outside and sometimes sneaking in to poison their food supplies. They need a good plan to get out of this one! ("Everyone gets eaten by the Stone Thief" is not a good plan, even though it seems pretty likely.)

Nevermore (Rob Thurman) is the 852842th in the Cal Leandros series, and the thing that Cal cannot deal with finally happens. It is the sort of series in which there is a way out, of course, and we get to see how much character development Cal has had since the beginning of the series.

Spelljammer Practical Planetology is a bunch of weird planets for AD&D characters to pillage. The combination of modern worldview and straight-up magic is a little weird, but it's a product of its time.

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1 December 2015 - Tuesday

I spent way too much of today waiting in the cold for the northbound 64 and other transit units. It did not make being back at work seem any better, although the Peruvian seafood fried rice in the middle was good.

Tuesday may be the day that new stuff arrives in bookstores, but it is also the day of going to the office-park hell of San Mateo, so perhaps it is not a good day for going to the bookstore after all.

I only have version 4B of the quickstart kit, but it looks like Blades in the Dark is going to be pretty swell. It is not actually pbtA, as the dice mechanic and therefore things that relate to it are different, but the fiction-first principle and the GM's role are very similar. There is a loose framework for determining how much you're risking from an action versus how much you can get if you succeed, which seems helpful to GMS, especially since doing things is more like using skills than PbtA moves. And really, who doesn't want to play up-and-coming criminals in a haunted industrial city powered by the electroplasmic blood of ocean demons?

Volumes 5-7 of A Centaur's Life (Kei Murayama) are mostly slice-of-like like the rest, but there's some weird stuff about flying saucers and tentacle-faced creatures. Huh.

As of vol 1, Citrus (Saburouta) is yuri soap opera. Step-sisters! Mysteriously absent parents! Familial expectations! Disparate personalities! Only one bed, for sisterly bonding! ...actually, except for that last bit, it would be pretty normal shoujo manga if one of them were a boy. But they are both cute girls which makes everything better, right?.

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