Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 January 2016 - Sunday

Jeremy and Rachel's house suffered some kind of mysterious plumbing outage, so no gaming for us.

Avalon sent in her submission to a Canadian writing contest, but it will be weeks until she finds out which side of the finger she is on.

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30 January 2016 - Saturday

So much mucus.

  • Dennou Coil 21-22: Cube-bots, ATTACK!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 12: Saint-Just: still sick. Miya: still horrible.
  • Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth 3: Claude commits cultural appropriation for profit!
  • Legend of Korra 4.7: The party is almost unsplit!
  • Steven Universe 24: Steven's player totally picked the character class where you just draw random power cards every episode, didn't he?

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29 January 2016 - Friday

I said I was sick, but they made me go out to lunch to welcome the new guy anyway. I bet they will regret it.

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28 January 2016 - Thursday

This week in 13th Age: fewer crazy old guys, but more middle-aged(?) guys (...) trying to keep a hamlet functioning in the depths of the Stone Thief (which has just submerged, locking everyone in the Fungus Forest cavern). The sketchy guy, with Prince of Shadows connections, has the book everyone wants, but isn't very willing to give it up even though the Elf Queen is obviously the only person who can be trusted with it.

Finally, LEVEL 5!!

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27 January 2016 - Wednesday

My throat feels all scratchy and I have to do work with people watching.

The Bands of Mourning (Brandon Sanderson) is the third but not final book in the series, in which we find out a bit more about the fallout from the end of the "Mistborn" series, and feats of derring-do are committed. Steris just gets cooler and cooler.

It is all Marith's fault that I had to read Wonder City Stories vol II and vol III (Jude McLaughlin) without stopping. (Volume IV just recently started and is ongoing.) Man, the author is mean to her characters, even the adorable ones.

Costume Fairy Adventures is exactly what it says on the tin: you play fairies (the foot-tall kind) who cosplay and have adventures. These adventures typically make no sense and cause a huge mess, because fairies. The system is simple enough that kids could play it, the layout is simple and cheerfully colorful, and really only the GM needs an attention span longer than ten minutes. Bonus points: playing by chat or even forum/email is treated as equally as valid as playing around a table. Huge bonus points: all example characters, example players, and example GMs are female.

The introductory playset, The Big Pie Caper, turns the fairies loose on a hapless village festival full of pie, fraught character interactions that fairies can totally help with, wandering fantasy elements, and PIE. (Reading the Random Pie Table seriously made me hungry.) Not all the NPCs are female, but at least half the romantic relationships are non-het.

ooh! by marithlizard (Thu Jan 28 23:17:32 2016)

Will you run Costume Fairy Adventures for Julia? Can I play too?

Re: ooh! by Trip (Fri Jan 29 08:45:59 2016)

I don't know if she wants to be that much of a gamer yet! She still likes running around to pretend, or as the grownups call it, LARPing.

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26 January 2016 - Tuesday

TELEVISION FAILURE! Well, it was refurbished, so it's not a huge surprise, but up until now I had been having good luck with refurbished equipment. Fortunately I bought it from a reputable website, so I can return it for a refund.

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25 January 2016 - Monday

COUCH VICTORY! It is now all brown and padded to sit on and generally complete. Ghirardelli likes it.

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24 January 2016 - Sunday

Oh yah, that's why I go to Trader Joe's on Saturday: Sunday has too little bus and too much humanity.

I did not get much else done today, but I did get the frame of my couch assembled! It is lower to the ground than I expected from the pictures on the website, but that's okay because I have short stubby limbs.

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23 January 2016 - Saturday

I got caught up on writing, but that is about the extent of my accomplishments today.

  • Dennou Coil 20: It seems like the problem has been solved, but we have six episodes and one hanging love confession!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 11: Rain in Japan is apparently extra-toxic. Queen bees are pretty much just as toxic as anywhere else, though.
  • Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth 1-2: This is not like what Ayse thought it would be based on the one sentence she read about it, but it is postcolonial reverse Orientalism and also very cute.
  • Steven Universe 23: Making friends does seem to be Steven's power, so it's good that he comes by it honestly.
  • Legend of Korra 4.6: "Don't violate parley" is an okay lesson to teach kids, I think. But the famous event of season 4 better start moving soon, or it will be cheesy.

Crooked (Richard Pett) is the horrible story of the horrible things that happen to people in a horrible over-the-top steampunk city of horribleness, with class-aspirational zombies and truly vast dark Lamarckian mills. It's like Perdido Street Station with extra sewage and existential horror.

The stories in Tomorrow's Cthulhu (ed Scott Gable & C Dombrowski) show that increasing your tech level will not avail you when the Great Old Ones arrive; in fact, your new gadgets are probably from Nyarlathotep. None of the stories were duds, but but none of them were super-outstanding either.

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21 January 2016 - Thursday

This week in 13th Age: talking to crazy old guys! We didn't shank either of them, although one of them was a Stone Thief cultist so possibly we should have if he weren't so decrepit and pathetic. In the middle, there was a fight with some crazy derro and their trained landshark retrievers. Apparently the Elf Queen's official stance on derro is "leave none breathing".

Sadly, the frog-lizard-monks whose temple we were trying to get to before the Stone Thief learned what was in their books turned out to be a nest of cultists, so we may end up chasing them through the dungeon to stop them from delivering the information about its eyes.

Ken, you did the thing!

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20 January 2016 - Wednesday

Brain? What is brain? I bet it is the thing I would need to work on my couch. Or write more than a tiny amount.

Chainmail Bikini (ed Hazel Newlevant) is an anthology of short autobiographical comics from women who play, or grew up playing, LARPS or RPGs or computer games. I am not the target audience, but I don't regret backing the Kickstarter.

If the introduction to Gathered Dust and Others (WH Pugmire) is to be trusted, Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire is a Fabulous Mormon Lovecraftian Poet. The pieces in this collection tend toward "prose poems", which my untrained mind cannot distinguish from vignettes with flowery language. They are full of nameless doom from beyond the grave and between the stars, and fabulous young men and/or Wildean older men, and blood and art. If this are the sort of thing you like, you will like this sort of thing!

Wicked Temper (Randy Thornhorn) is set almost a hundred years ago, in some impoverished part of the rural American South, and in dialect, so it seems very stereotypical in some ways. Supernatural(?) doom waits on creepy mountains for those who come to deserve it, though.

Will Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (Lois McMaster Bujold) be the last Vorkosigan book? It seems like all the major characters are now out of their trauma adventure-filled lives, one way or another. Of course there could be more, especially with upcoming generations, but it seems like a good place to wrap up.

The Last Days of Anglekite is a Dungeon World module/setting of the last civilized (sorta) area on a dying world, and the numerous threats that are there to finish it off, one way or another. It is definitely intended for a bounded campaign that answers the question "How will this world end?", not indeterminate faffing about in dungeons for pocket change.

The latest FATE World of Adventure is House of Bards, which is all about electoral politics, journalism, and scandal in a socially-advanced (or at least Americanized) D&D setting. Ambition is not optional.

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19 January 2016 - Tuesday

I meant to do things tonight, but instead I stayed up until midnight trying to orchestrate the migration of fixes for bugs that QA had not caught from people's brains to the customer's server.

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18 January 2016 - Monday

No work today, because MLK Day!

MLK would totally have approved of white guys sleeping in, right?

At long last, my couch has arrived! In two large heavy boxes full of pieces and screws, but nevertheless it is at least potentially a couch and it is in my livingroom.

Instead of putting together my couch (which has like 50 pieces, not counting screws), I went over to Monkeycat Towers to meet the new kitty! His name is Pierce, but he gets called Pirate Cat because he has only one eye. Since it is only his second day in the new place, he is still pretty skittish about new people, but seems to be doing well. And his fur is so soft!

The male lead of My Monster Secret vol 1 (Eiji Masuda) is incapable of keeping secrets, but the female lead is incapable of recognizing this so she trusts him with her secret. It's not clear what excuse the... second female lead? has for trusting him. I guess it's a story of having faith in humans, as well as romantic comedy? I dunno, man.

Golden Time vol 1 (Yuyuko Takemiya, Umechazuke, E-Ji Komatsu) is romantic comedy set in college instead of high school. The female lead is... eccentric to the point of dysfunction, but possibly self-aware enough to be interesting.

Inuyashiki vol 1 (Hiroya Oku) is unsurprisingly like Gatnz in both art style and alien stuff resulting in massive bloodshed. In this case, it's a prematurely-aged salaryman who gets sucked in to having vast destructive power. He decides to be a hero. I can't imagine this ending well.

At the beginning of the Bakemonogatari anime, the main character mentions the vampire-related events of the previous spring break, which resulted in his life being so weird. Kizumonogatari (Nisioisin) is the story of that spring break. The first-person semi-stream-of-consciousness style actually matches well with the kind of disjointed style of the anime (or vice versa, I guess, given which came first). A lot of it seemed kind of familiar, so I think it must have been explicated during Bakemonogatari and my brain is just mooshing it in.

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17 January 2016 - Sunday

The beginning of the new PAD&D5 adventure finds our lunatics scholars on the northern coast in autumn in search of optical-quality rocks reputed to come from the area (Frinka is, after all, a geologist). While trying to make nice with the locals and their stone library full of priceless navigational charts, they meet a refugee from the destruction of the next fishing village over (who is trying to sell them a treasure map to raise money to flee inland and never go near the ocean again). The doom came at night, so details are unclear, but apparently immense creatures with weedy tentacles came out of the ocean and blew up things with lightning. This sounds worth investigating!

Due to universally poor rolls, the leading theory as to the cause of the destruction of the village is "Thor's cow", which obviously knocked over the buildings, breathed lightning on some, stepped on the few corpses remaining, and ate the others. Before a worse idea can be presented, the investigators are ambushed by giant lobster-like monsters with oddly translucent, stony carapaces. Once defeated and dissected, the monsters are found to have eye-coverings/lenses that match the samples of optical rock, and biology that matches nothing anyone has ever seen. (The players know that the creatures are attracted to magic, or at least magic items, but the PCs have no clue yet.)

Most of the refugees have gone to the next village along, a thriving metropolis of nearly 300 people which is having its own problem with unnaturally high tides that are being blamed on the mermaids, probably due to townspeople fishing in the wrong waters or some other minor local issue. Further interrogation of the refugees gets only a few more details, but the "heroes" do what they can to recommend a course of action that seems least unlikely to fail to defend the town when the Inevitable Doom comes.

Inevitably, the Doom comes.

Unlike the hapless human villagers, the heroes have darkvision, and can see that the attackers are giant humanoids, wearing helmets festooned with long dangling tubes that obscure their silhouettes, and the reason victims keep screaming after being devoured is that they are actually being tossed into backpacks to be carried away. Zach spends a couple of rounds trying to negotiate, but the only giant he can get in range of is not the leader and cannot change the plan, although its attempt to Explain to its comrades results in another giant being detailed to slap some sense into it, taking both of them off villager-abducting duty. That is not enough to save the day, and despite The Frederick's giant-climbing, Frinka's archery, and Ella's own command of lightning, Dain is knocked out and captured and the rest driven off. The Frederick manages to hide in one of the backpacks and get taken along, so he can break Dain out while the giants row their longship back to the island that was marked on the refugee's treasure map as the lair of the Sea Queen, and which Zach's magic key says holds an armory of the gods.

When the rest of the investigators catch up to Dain and The Frederick the next morning, they find that the island is large and nicely wooded, if somewhat foggy and damp. This is interesting because the tubes on the giants' helmets serve to filter moisture out of the air, and the central building of their massive compound is tightly sealed and has a fire burning inside. Are they desert giants? Giant mummies? They seem to be too natural to be related to the rock lobsters, even though they use the lobsters as guard dogs in their compound and let them roam the island not terrorizing the wildlife.

Next session: into the giants' compound to rescue the villagers, into the caves to loot explore the armory of the gods, or both!

cultural analogues by marithlizard (Thu Jan 21 00:51:12 2016)

Ah, I see, Thor's cow = space penguins!

Re: cultural analogues by Trip (Thu Jan 21 08:37:12 2016)

10000 space penguins + 1 cow suit = Thor's cow

Re: Re: cultural analogues by marithlizard (Thu Jan 21 10:35:29 2016)

Space penguins that moo Now I fear it too

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16 January 2016 - Saturday

  • Dennou Coil 19: I'm not sure how they would appear to someone Japanese, but the creepy things that chase Yasako and Fumie seem more like UFO aliens than supernatural, which is arguably even more appropriate to the genre.
  • Brother, Dear Brother 10: Other people watching thought Nanako was being mean to Goth Thumbs Girl, but "this person is a huge mess and I don't want anything to do with her" seems like a reasonable decision to me, if not charitable.
  • Silver Spoon 2.10-11: The end! Some people have decided on courses, but nothing is actually wrapped up, because this is slice-of-life and life doesn't work that way. I could not find any mention of a third season, although apparently there is a live-action movie.
  • Steven Universe 22: That widget does look familiar, but this isn't quite the same power that showed up in the pilot.
  • Legend of Korra 4.5: "Guards, do the thing!"

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15 January 2016 - Friday

While The March North only showed the magic system, and in the somewhat limited context of military action, the sequel, A Succession of Bad Days (Graydon Saunders) is about someone being trained as a high-end mage, and really about the training itself. ("Surprise, your magical talent isn't zero like you thought, it's actually way off in the right tail of this not-entirely-normal distribution — observe the graph I am projecting — so without training your chances of having a fatal accident in the next couple of decades are essentially 100%. We have hard statistics for that too, but they would only depress you.") Since, again, the main characters are not on a military adventure, we also get to see more of the society and how it mostly works okay, even when faced with people of novel and uncertain power. The magic reminds me a lot, in some ways, of So You Want To Be A Wizard: this is magic that affects the physical world, and the physical world is made of things like atoms and photons. Making a mess with magic is easy, but accomplishing something constructive requires either a lot more magic (their house!) or engineering skill.

The Bugs of Venus is a hack of Lady Blackbird for heroic soldiers defending the last bastion of humanity from the terrifying bugs of Venus. This doesn't seem quite as interesting to me as the original Lady Blackbird setup.

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14 January 2016 - Thursday

Hurray, 13th Age! Boo, trap-filled innards of the Stone Thief! In addition to traps, there were also horrible undead spiders that swung around on lines of barbed wire and had way too good defenses. Next week, more of the same! But maybe then some kind of victory, or at least an intermediate goal! And then, perhaps, in the distant future, level 5!

What? It could happen!

After a truly unforgivable delay due completely to my unwillingness to fire up a different ebook app, I have read The March North (Graydon Saunders), and it is pretty swell! This is definitely a book of ideas; descriptions and sensory details are pretty sparse, and characterization is mostly implied. But the major idea is a society based on magic, which has great potential. It's a typical fantasy setting in that a few people have vast magical power, but the society of the viewpoint character is built around the idea of preventing Dark Lords from rising to enslave everyone as they did in the Bad Old Days, which makes it remarkably egalitarian. It's not quite anarcho-syndicalist, but if it weren't for the leftovers from the horrible past, and random invasions from Dark Lords across the borders, I'd totally live there.

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13 January 2016 - Wednesday

I edited the end of chapter 16 of The Transmundane a bit, but did not actually write.

Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, Flesh & Bone, and Fire & Ash (Jonathan Maberry) are about growing up to become a hero in the post-Zombocalypse world. The main character starts off as a plausible teenaged git, although perhaps shapes up a little fast. There is lots of violence, because zombies and also the kind of people who think the collapse of civilization is an opportunity, but somewhat surprisingly almost no sex. There are many zombies, and some attitudes toward zombies that are not typical of what I've seen of the genre.

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12 January 2016 - Tuesday

Somehow, chapter 16 of The Transmundane is finally out there, after hundreds of years of lameness.

I also started chapter 17, but I think I might need to throw it all away. As usual, I will just ignore unwriting in determining whether I'm make my quota.

The serial publication of Indexing: Reflections (Seanan McGuire) is now complete! I'm not sure the ending is quite strong enough, but overall it is awesome, and also has Sloane's origin story. Because Sloane is awesome.

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11 January 2016 - Monday

No date with Avalon, so I am caught up on writing! It is still all terrible, but not quite as terrible.

The Devious Dr Jekyll (Viola Carr), the sequel to The Diabolical Miss Hyde, has more struggle for control and even existence, more creepy scientistic oppression, more werewolf smooches, and a fairly convoluted conspiracy, and reference to another famous period work which I totally did not pick up on.

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10 January 2016 - Sunday

I don't think I did anything today. I barely even wrote. Where was my brain? Ghirardelli, did you bat it around until it came apart?

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9 January 2016 - Saturday

Pot roast!

  • Dennou Coil 18: I have no idea how that would work, but it's darn creepy!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 9: Saint-Just, the walking pharmacy with a security detail of fangirls.
  • Silver Spoon 2.9: It's good that they didn't conjure a way out of the doom and let Hachiken save the day.
  • Steven Universe 19-21: Now we have one more fact about Steven's mom. Also, another example of gem fusion!
  • Legend of Korra 4.4: Boys are horrible.

The "Darest" duology, Champion of the Rose and Bones of the Fair (Andrea K Höst) does not push at the boundaries of the fantasy genre, but it has good characterization, and the (NOT) fun of being chosen by an ancient spell to be the king's guardian.

By volume 4 of Citrus (Saburouta), Yuzu's waffling between "You are my little sister who I must respect" and "I want to smear chocolate sauce all over you and lick it off" is getting a bit tiresome, but then there is drama in a different direction.

Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn vol 1 (Shirow Masamune, Rikudou Koushi) does not seem very Shirow Masamune to me at all. It is all small cute obviously cybered girls and silly revolutionaries and cartoonish robots and someone else's art.

Up to volume 6 of Bloody Cross (Shiwo Komeyama), and I'm starting to have serious trouble keeping track of all the characters. The art is really black and white, very little shading, so there are only a couple of variables to immediately distinguish one exaggeratedly tall and thin character from another.

Perilous Deeps is a stretch goal from the The Perilous Wilds Kickstarter, half a dozen dungeons created by various minds according to the principals from The Perilous Wilds. They are pretty good dungeons, and if I ever actually run Dungeon World, perhaps I will use some of them.

Which reminds me that although 13th Age in Glorantha is awesome, the idea of Rune World pulls at me...

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8 January 2016 - Friday

Finally, I write! It is terrible writing, because I have forgotten how words and characters and stories work, but it is almost enough terrible writing to catch up on 100 words per day since the beginning of the year.

Hopefully I will not have to wait for Avalon to be busy and sleepy before getting more writing done, because that would be Not Okay.

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7 January 2016 - Thursday

After Ken being sick and then everyone being away/busy for the holidays, it is time for 13th Age again!

How do we play this game?

Despite my lameness, we successfully brought Ktangs back from the dead and had a pretty satisfying fight with the khan of the orc horde who had been chasing us, before finally getting sucked into the Stone Thief again. Kelsey's character is having serious second thoughts about hanging out with the rest of the PCs, who are obviously a danger to themselves and others.

1001 Starry Knights: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Spacefarer (Monstrous Love) is a frame story with lots of pirate monster-girl sex around stories that involve lots more assorted monster-girl sex. The frame story and inner story involve the galactic empire of monster-girls, which is looking to humans for breeding purposes to prevent terminal evolution failure, so there's some slight justification for everyone wanting to boink humans, but smut hardly needs an excuse. (Cue Tom Lehrer.)

The Engines of Sacrifice (James Chambers) is a collection of four short pieces of Mythos horror from the 1970s to the dystopian near future, suitably bleak but regrettably making humans sigificant in the last one.

A Mountain Walked (ed ST Joshi) is also a Lovcraftian collection (would Joshi edit anything else?) but by various authors. Some of the pieces are subversions of Lovecraft stories, some are new stories built around existing elements, some are original but undeniably in the correct spirit. All are pretty good, but no one of them really stood out to me.

The Monstrous (ed Ellen Datlow) is horror, but is not Mythos. There are cultists, and things from the deep that want to breed with your daughters, but also serial killers, angels, demiurges, movie monsters, and less classifiable things. Yikes.

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5 January 2016 - Tuesday

I agreed with Avalon that I should write 100 words a day, but instead of writing, I reread a bunch of my old writing. I suppose if I view it with a charitable eye, it might only be 500 times worse than anything Earl or Susan have ever written, not the 1000 times I previously estimated. But I tried reading Sun, Moon, Stars and couldn't get more than half a page in before I had to avert my face. I'm not sure what that means, except that I suck.

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4 January 2016 - Monday

After failing to get up at a reasonable hour even once during the break, Ultra-Monday is the pits.

Marith's friend's book which started on LiveJournal (I think) is now available on Amazon, yay! Wonder City Stories (Jude McLaughlin) is pretty good prose supers, with the interesting feature that none of the characters presented as heroic is all of male, het, and cis. (I am sure this causes immense whinging on the Internets, but given how many books require at least two out of three to even be a named character, the whingers can go die in a pit of flesh-eating cockroaches.) There is some action, but mostly it is about the troubles of trying to have a love life, or even a life, while paranormal.

Wonder City Stories by marithlizard (Mon Jan 11 20:48:08 2016)

Yay, I am glad you liked it! There is a lot more of the continuing story online, which is also worth reading. I must put in a word for Ira, who is AFAIK male/het/cis and who I am quite fond of, but it's certainly true that the reader should make no assumptions about any member of the cast, in regard to ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, mental state, morphology, percentage of biological vs cybernetic body mass, dimensional alignment or anything else.

Hm, I should get the collection too and reread the whole thing from the beginning, now that I have someone to kibbitz with. :)

Re: Wonder City Stories by Trip (Wed Jan 13 16:41:18 2016)

According to the blurb at the end, more will be coming out collected this summer!

Ira was sympathetic, but more pathetic than heroic.

Re: Wonder City Stories by marithlizard (Wed Jan 13 17:06:47 2016)


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3 January 2016 - Sunday

The first PAD&D5 of the new year was denouement after last session's triumph, but there was still a fight as every faction in Shadetown leapt on us to modify or negate the prophesied return of the princess in accordance with their own beliefs. The Feather halfling gangsters were wiped out first, except for their leader Shrike who kept grappling with The Frederick until eventually near the end of the fight she surrendered. The kobold Red Hat gang held out a little longer, until their leader was finally savaged by Ella's army of panthers and their regenerating black dragon kobold troll monstrosity was beaten down by Apollo's daughter Hope. The dwarven warlock/ninjas went last, possibly because it took them so long to toddle into position to attract our wrath, but also were crushed and driven away (and shoved into the bubbling acidic remains of the Red Hat's monster). Victory! Delivery of the live princess to her father! (She immediately entered the priesthood of Apollo, averting a succession struggle and probably putting her on the path to curse us later.) Burial of the dead princess in a well-guarded grave safe from necromancers! Lifting of the curse on The Frederick! Rewards for all!

We aren't to 7th level yet, but two more massive four-way battles like that should get us there! Next stop, giants!

I read a couple more volumes of Bloody Cross (Shiwo Komeyama), and it doesn't remind me of CLAMP quite as strongly, but still some.

Finally I have used Marith's spare rice cooker that she gave me to cook rice! I don't know how it knows when the rice is done, but it did a pretty good job, and now I don't have to feel like a loser for buying frozen rice.

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2 January 2016 - Saturday

Dave is back from Weaseltown!

  • Dennou Coil 16-17: And now the mysterious number is explained! But there is still doom to go around and then some.
  • Brother, Dear Brother 8: Painted-Thumbs Goth Girl is so messed up.
  • Silver Spoon 2.8: Yay, cheese!
  • Legend of Korra 4.3: Yay, Toph! She has been honing her cantankerousness skills!

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1 January 2016 - Friday

I meant to start the year off right by getting up early and writing and stuff, but instead I slept in forever and then spent a million hours reading SMBC archives. I think this year is doomed.

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