Previously, in Trip's Life...

31 August 2016 - Wednesday

This week, we have both Mike and Kelsey for 13th Age, and also more Thai food! (The Thai food did not get a character sheet.)

This week, my major failings are that I can't roll dice and that I can't speak in character voice. But it all kind of worked out in the end, ish.

One Good Dragon Deserves Another and No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished (Rachel Aaron) are the next two books in the series that started with Nice Dragons Finish Last. Julius's meme of "sociopathy is not the only route to success" is gaining some traction, despite widespread death and violence, but Marci's plotline with Ghost and high-level UN mages and the future of humanity is more interesting and also has a giant cliffhanger.

It isn't Shadowrun, but it's kind of close only with more dragons.

I have completely sucked at writing this month. Some of it was from computer issues (now resolved with the giant shiny new iMac), some of it was from brain pill issues (now resolved with a renewed prescription that should last until I can get the prescription through a more organized provider), but most of it was from just being useless. And I am starting off September with a vacation, so maybe I should just die in a pit.

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29 August 2016 - Monday

No Avalon this week, only Zuul.

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28 August 2016 - Sunday

Hurray, it's PAD&D5 time!

Since Deirdre complained about not being able to remember that my character is female, I brought a visual aid (by, who charges reasonable prices and does good work, unlike the first tumblr artist I commissioned).

Apparently there are [SPOILER] under the [SPOILER], where people higher-level than us lurk, but since we are almost to 3rd level, that will obviously change soon. Muahahahaha.

Hurray, it's Avalon time, because she only has to work most of the weekend! She still won't say when she will put her foot down about being overworked, though. Waiting for when there is nothing important going on is never going to work.

How can I write when I don't know anything about feelings?

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27 August 2016 - Saturday

There were threats of Waterpark II : Hydraulic Boogaloo, but they were empty. I had to do a stupid work thing in the middle of the day, which threw my usual Saturday routine out of whack anyway, but casualties were light.

Now that Marith is back, we can watch Eva again! But Ken randomly bailed on us, so we didn't watch Nisemonogatari.

  • Brother, Dear Brother 37: I think this is the opposite of a death spiral. Only two episodes to go, and Nanako is being let in on the less-dark secrets that bind the cast together.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion 22-23: Apparently there's dispute among the audience as to whether [SPOILER] was the one to [SPOILER][SPOILER]. I thought it was fairly obvious myself. And if you think Asuka is angsty now, just wait until she finds out. (But if she was raised German-speaking, is angst legitimate for her?)
  • Sailor Moon Crystal 12-13: Famous last words from just about every underboss ever. Surprisingly, we did not get to the end of the arc, although it can't be far away.

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24 August 2016 - Wednesday

Having no brain pills is really bad. I failed to understand that I needed to put in an order for lunch for the office-warming party today, so instead I went home when people started showing up and drinking and talking loudly (did I mention the headaches?). Blargh.

After only three calls and who knows how many faxes to the shrink, I finally have brain pills again! I don't think duloxetine works that fast, but I felt about 98634589% better as soon as I took one. ("The standard all other medical interventions are measured against.")

No Mike this week, and still no Kelsey, but we had 13th Age anyway. Man, devils suck. But, we did manage to make a deal that's probably not completely terrible. At least, Anwë used an icon relationship 6 on it, so it better not be terrible!

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23 August 2016 - Tuesday

Bleah, San Mateo. But, I got decent Chinese food for free.

Breakfast Cult is the game I thought would make SCOOS obsolete, but it doesn't really. BC is a specifically about the horror and mystery (although is not averse to comedy) and also PC infighting. All PCs are humans, and the Ancient Ones are both non-Mythos and taken seriously. Also, FATE.

I'm not sure if this makes me want to work on a new version of SCOOS or not.

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22 August 2016 - Monday

Not having brain pills is bad.

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21 August 2016 - Sunday

Today, waterpark. Waves. Slides. Shrieking. Surprisingly little sunburn.

Marith made it back from England, or at least someone with her GMail password wants us to think she did!

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20 August 2016 - Saturday

Cera is sick with sickness today, so after a lot of waiting and seeing, we did not go to the water park. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe only Zuul.

  • Nisemonogatari 3: Senjyogahara is earning her points for that tragic backstory!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 36: Ah, that's what's going on with Prince Kaoru. Ayse was right.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal 11: Oh no! Cruel betrayal!

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19 August 2016 - Friday


Observation TBA.

I seem to be out of brain pills. Well, I'm sure I can get the prescription refilled before the lack becomes noticeable.

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18 August 2016 - Thursday

Random things from OSR blogs I have been reading:

The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate (N K Jemisin) have unbelievable amounts of doom, some tectonic but most human. (Apparently T5S won this year's Hugo, which seems entirely deserved. It is only a bonus that a novel by a black woman, with "slavery is evil" as a major theme, winning the Hugo is probably making the Puppies drink themselves to death even faster. (Drink, Trump voters! Drink!)) Like the "Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" series, the major feature of the setting is vast magical power enslaved; in this case, people with the psionic ability to move large quantities of earth and stone. No, larger than that. Because the Earth tries to kill everyone with a major seismic event and collateral weather hosage (a fifth season, often like but always much worse than winter) every couple of hundred years, everyone is fine with orogenes being brutally repressed by whatever means are presented as necessary. It is a pretty dark setting in general: the equivalent of scripture is the handbook on how to make sure your town is always ready to flip into post-apocalyptic-wasteland mode, including when to start the cannibalism. The protagonists are about as happy as you would expect, and it goes downhill from there.

Wake of Vultures (Lila Bowen) is not nearly as intense, but how can you go wrong with a non-white, non-binary cowhand who kills monsters? (Rhetorical question, since there are lots of ways, mostly ones I am not qualified to judge, but you know what I mean!) Nettie is awesome.

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17 August 2016 - Wednesday

Getting enormous piles of Thai food for gamers is expensive, but tasty. But I did not know that peanut sauce is sauce because of the coconut milk (which is saturated with PURE EVIL), so I am sad now.

We now have a dwarven spy bard in 13th Age, who went with us into the tunnels beneath Axis to check on the wards that keep the volcano from erupting the entire city. Apparently the way to make a landshark worse is to make it out of fire.

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16 August 2016 - Tuesday

I skipped work entirely to go back to Mountain View for "How Defective Losers Should Eat In Order To Live A Longer And More Circulation-Intensive Life" class. Pretty much what one would expect: "saturated fats" are saturated with PURE EVIL. I didn't know about Ω6 being plentiful and Ω3 being something to seek out, but fortunately I like salmon and shrimp.

Then I had my internal organs each subjected to high-frequency oscillation. I did not ask the technician if she had ever seen Invader Zim.

The gimmick of Admiral (Sean Danks) is a first-person narrator with hidden identity, which is moderately interesting, but as SF it's not so great. Or maybe I'm too picky? But the world-building is only a little more rigorous than most fantasy and the technology is especially meh.

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14 August 2016 - Sunday

Hurray, it's PAD&D5!

Jeremy and Rachel's younger weasel Edie joined the game, playing an assassin of Rachel's character's family's personal ninja clan. Man, that kid can roll dice! I don't think we have put her off gaming forever yet.

Again, no spoilers for Princes of the Apocalypse, but it looks like we found a lead for the overarching threat (that the PCs don't know about yet). My inability to roll dice makes Lamthanc look bad, but at least she can sleep in trees.

Level 2! Now Lam can cast spells! The only spell she has cast so far is Cure Wounds, because let's face it, there's not much low-level characters need more than they need hitpoints.

Trying to limit carb intake when faced with gaming munchies is tricky, but I think I did okay. Ish.

Still no Avalon, but I almost caught up on writing after slacking for a couple of days due to computer wrangling and a poor roll on the Wandering Stupidity table.

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13 August 2016 - Saturday

I had a clever plan for today, but hours and hours have been wasted waiting for other people to show up because the scheduled time was too inconvenient for them. First the cleaners were an hour and a half late, then the bus to and from the unreasonably-located vet was half an hour late each time (I think there's just one bus that runs in a loop, so it always gets later and later as the day goes on). The bus to Monkeycat Mountain was on time, but that was only shortly after I returned bearing the bounty of thyroid-improving food for all catkind. Arrrgh.

Saved by leftovers! Ayse gave me tomato-onion-carrot-chicken stuff, which was quite tasty even without carbs to put it on.

  • Nisemonogatari 1-2: Apparently we are starting the new arc by re-introducing the harem with all cheesecake all the time.
  • Brother, Dear Brother 35: More fallout from ep 33, including [SPOILER] being less [SPOILER] and the resolution of [SPOILER].
  • Sailor Moon Crystal 10: Villain backstory!

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12 August 2016 - Friday

Coworker R dragged us to Orchard City Kitchen for lunch. It was loud and expensive, but I had shu mai with truffle oil and mushrooms on top, and a salad that was made entirely of radishes and also cucumber and red onion.

I kind of like Last Gasp Grimoire's Mystic class and want to translate it to Dungeon World (because DW for everything, that's why). It seems like it should work. There would be a rolled move for working a miracle appropriate to your level (costs Favour), a rolled move for healing someone (+1 and/or reduced Favour cost for co-religionists), a non-rolled move for gaining Favour when you convert people or build shrines or help out sacred animals or whatever, and a modifier move to work miracles above your level (extra Favour and a penalty to the roll, probably). Sadly the Malpractice table ("Oh gosh, this isn't what you meant to happen at all. Look at [GM's name], they're rolling on a table. This is terrible.") wouldn't translate directly, but the GM could still be encouraged to make a list of possible tragic failure modes.

No Avalon tonight, she is drinking wine to dull the pain of having no weekend. Or maybe sleeping. That would be sensible too.

It is taking forever to copy my stuff from the tiny ancient Mac to the shiny huge Mac, but that is okay. When it finishes, all power will be mine.

I agreed to say up until 23:00 to do my part of a thing a customer is doing, but they were woefully disorganized and didn't have their act together enough for me to finish by 1:00, so I gave up and went to bed.

Only I didn't really go to bed, I finished reading Nevernight (Jay Kristoff), which is so far not as strange as Kristoff's previous Japanese-steampunk-horror series, but has potential. Heroine inducted into an assassin cult in a secret mountain, shadow demons(?), betrayal and murder and the three suns almost never set and the capital site is built on a skeleton. Young love, cussing, additional betrayal, family tragedy, etc..

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11 August 2016 - Thursday

Hurray, my new computer arrived! And coworker A very kindly helped me ferry it home, so it is not stuck at the office, but I did not manage to set it up because tonight was date night.

Note for Ayse: you can tell this is a good computer because it comes in a trapezoidal box.

I think I used too much smoked salmon, because I ended up with something more like egg-coated salmon chunks than scrambled eggs with salmon, but that's okay.

More OSR blogs with weirdness that I have been reading:

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10 August 2016 - Wednesday

House of Bagels has a jalapeño cheese bagel that is very tasty, even if I can only eat half of it for breakfast and have to save the rest for mid-afternoon. Hopefully they will have another equally tasty one tomorrow.

If I drink the diet Snapple from the company fridge, instead of buying a hand-crafted chai slurpee, my breakfast is much cheaper.

13th Age on Wednesday? What madness is this?

Madness with bread and cheese and salad, apparently.

Because I cannot roll worth crap, Anwë's plan to do something useful for the Elf Queen failed miserably. Maybe I should make a new character, using some class that never has to roll dice.

The new player Brooks seems okay. Or maybe when he said he would make a character, that was to mollify us until he could escape, in which case it worked.

Ninefox Gambit is by Yoon Ha Lee, so it is strange and brilliant (in an SF-specific way, perhaps) and makes me want to hide under a rock and never write again, because why even bother?

Now that I think about it, the strangeness and horror of the exotic military technology in Ninefox Gambit that I like is not unlike the strangeness and horror in the OSR (possibly now called DIY D&D) blogs I've been reading. Turning ghosts to glass and making every doorway shine with lethal radiation are both things that would be at home in an adventure like Deep Carbon Observatory.

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9 August 2016 - Tuesday

In the morning, I skived off work to attend "How Defective Losers Should Eat In Order To Live A Longer And More Limb-Intensive Life" class, which naturally is about carb-counting (not just sugar, as I had been). So many things are not okay to eat (like pizza: a single slice is maximum carbs for a major meal), including bagels for breakfast (½ bagel is maximum carbs for breakfast or a snack, a full bagel is just out of the question). Sadness. Woe.

I did somehow make it back to the office in time for my meeting, which turned out to not be useful because last night's process was viciously betrayed by the third-party API. Curse you, third party!

Because my routine was thrown off by travel to Mountain View, I did not manage to eat much at all, although it turns out one nut bar from Trader Joe's is about one carb unit. When it got to be time for date night with Avalon I was hungry and cranky and useless and she had to talk me through finding a pan and cooking eggs, but eventually I was not starvated. Avalon is the best and most patient.

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8 August 2016 - Monday

New office! The actual move was on Friday, when I was working from home around taking Ghirardelli to the vet, but today I get to see what it is like with people in it. (Really, much the same, including the power strips chained in defiance of fire safety because the real outlets haven't been installed yet.)

The Noah's Bagels is unimpressive. I will have to try House of Bagels. Or find another breakfast solution, I guess.

Four Roads Cross (Max Gladstone) ties up the the "Craft Sequence" by crossing the streams of all four previous books. The majority of the book is a return to Alt Coulomb and the full-contact judicio-magical process of Three Parts Dead (which I had to reread to remember the shape of everyone's doom), but there are excursions to the West Coast to interact with the survivors of those stories. Sadly, the excursions do not feel entirely organic to the rest of the book, and the [SPOILER] has a very strong side-quest feel. I get the impression Gladstone wanted to be done with this series, which is too bad, but I want to see what he does next (besides Bookburners).

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7 August 2016 - Sunday

No gaming, for some bizarre reason related to people having other things to do with their lives. Not much of anything, really, except going blblblbl.

The play reports at Last Gasp Grimoire are horribly amusing to read, but I don't think I'm metal enough to actually play in that genre. My characters aren't murderhobo-y enough, and (so?) I wouldn't want to roll on the Random Disfigurement/Limb Loss Table that often. But that doesn't mean I can't draw inspiration from it, especially when it's other people's characters who would suffer horrible fates (if I ever run anything again).

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6 August 2016 - Saturday

Today I gave up my browser tabs as lost and rebooted, but with all the accidental oversleeping (as opposed to the usual deliberate oversleeping), running around buying things for cats, and getting the bank to approve my extravagant purchase, I still did not write.

Marith has flown away to catch a slow boat to England with her horrible mother, so we had to watch anime without her, but we did not see any Neon Genesis Evangelion because she asked us not to watch it without her.

  • Bakemonogatari 14-15: The end! I had forgotten where Shinobu went. And now it is as far as I have seen, so the next 20 episodes will be new!
  • Brother, Dear Brother 33-34: Something had to happen when it looked like everything was going well and we knew there were still half a dozen episodes left. But at least it wasn't as bad as it first looked.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal 9: That deception didn't last long!

The vet called in the middle of Bakemonogatari 14 to tell me that Aspen is only pre-hyperthyroid, but Ghirardelli is definitely hyperthyroid. No kidney disease, though! And because Aspen's thyroid is a bit dodgy, just feeding them both the special thyroid-calming food should be fine. (I just have to figure out how to get the food from the vet office without Marith.)

I wonder how to get cats to drink more water? I already have one of those running-water-aerator things, but apparently it's not doing the job well enough.

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5 August 2016 - Friday

Marith helped me take Ghirardelli to the vet again, and this time we did not get so lost. The actual puncturing was mercifully brief, but Ghirardelli let us know how oppressed he is at great length during the drive.

I have been trying to find a good picture for my newPAD&D5 character, but although the Internet has many pictures of lamiae, the three important categories of muscular, clothed, and well-drawn don't seem to ever overlap, never mind getting anything like the right coloring. (I tried to commission a picture from the artist of a picture I liked, but she is not accepting complicated and urgent commissions at this time, and a couple of other requests have gone unanswered.) But now the browser tabs have dragged my ancient computer to a crawl, so I cannot even write (unless I reboot and lose all the tabs).

Obviously it is time to buy a new computer. A new iMac with leveled-up CPU, RAM, and hard drive is distressingly expensive, but if I mentally amortize it over five years (I've had my current Mac Mini for more than six, although I should probably have replaced it already), it's not as painful and really pretty cheap for the use I plan to get out of it.

Bah, it's over the limit on my debit card (something which has not happened in the however many years I've had this card). I'll have to talk to the bank tomorrow.

iMac, you will be mine!

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4 August 2016 - Thursday

Last time 13th Age is on Thursday, at least for a while! Next week, we switch to Wednesdays to accomodate a new gamer, who surely has a stable life and will not randomly change work schedules or move to the far North Bay with no notice.

This week we resolved Ktang's ministry thing with a fight in which Anwë got to keep a dragon talking until Vaatu could render the entire combat moot with a single spell. Wizards, man.

I think we're supposed to be scheming for political power, but none of the players are into that because we aren't VtX LARPers, or something, so this whole Imperial Wedding in Axis thing is kind of floppy and lacking in direction. I'm not sure what to do about that.

Or maybe I just shouldn't have eaten a baked potato the size of my head with piles of tryptophan turkey and sour cream on top plus coleslaw and ribs.

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3 August 2016 - Wednesday

Worked from home in the morning, which is horribly unproductive but not 0 productive, then Marith helped me take the cats to the vet in the afternoon (even though I was grumpy about getting lost). They might be hyperthyroid, which apparently is a common failure mode of aging cats, Ghirardelli will need his teeth cleaned soon, and his horrible tongue thing is back. Also, vaccinations, so I can't give him the immunosuppressant for his horrible tongue thing for a few days. I can give him painkillers, though.

Hurray, Avalon is back from Montreal! But tired and blargh, because vacation is over and infinite work is back to haunt her.

Also, Ghirardelli might have kidney problems (the other common failure mode of aging cats), so I need to take him back in soon to have his pee extracted by force. Poor kitty!

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2 August 2016 - Tuesday

Whee, far office with train delays and assorted irritation. Also I ate chicken tenders and fries for very long and loud lunch, which was yummy at the time but too greasy.

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1 August 2016 - Monday

I don't want to go to work, I want to game more.

It took the bus like 45 minutes to make three blocks of progress, because it had to go several miles out of the way to avoid traffic, or maybe traffic attacks.

Penric and the Shaman (Lois McMaster Bujold) is the second novella in the story of a hapless young man and the ancient, destructive, yet surprisingly personable demon that has ended up living in his head. In this episode, a new and different system of magic gets into huge trouble.

The Wicked + The Divine (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, et al) is pretty awesome, full of doom and divinity and fannish obsession and exploding heads and [SPOILER] is clearly up to something (as of volume 3) but how will it play out?

There isn't anything bad about Liselotte & Witch's Forest (Natsuki Takaya), but there isn't anything particularly good or original either.

Volume 2 of Devils' Line (Ryo Hanada) adds conspiracy to the problems faced by vampires and especially the lead couple. I don't think the Japanese trust their government any more than Americans do.

I picked up volume 1 of The Asterisk War (Ningen, Yuu Miyazaki, okiura) because it's apparently one of the new(ish) hot things, but it is only shounen fighting with cheesecake. Okay, that might explain why it's popular.

In Immortal Hounds (Ryo Yasohachi), humans, and only humans, immediately return to life when they die. No one knows why this happens, but there are some people who are opposed to it, and can take this power away through mysterious means. Violent conflict ensues. What the heck is going on here, anyway? Alternate dimension? Virtual universe? It better not be nanotech, because they've looked with modern technology and not found anything.

Deep Carbon Observatory is an OSR adventure set in the flooded lands below a broken ancient dam, and the emptied lake above it, and the engineering works inside it, and the remnants of a highly advanced (in some respects) civilization beneath it, full of monsters that could be valuable and treasure that is unquestionably dangerous. Also, freakish and horrible NPCs (to go with the freakish and possibly horrible everything else).

Recently there's been a resurgence of cyberpunk games — maybe due to the new edition of Shadowrun? — and so of course there is a PbtA one: The Sprawl. It is pretty straight-forward PbtA, strongly based around the cycle of meet the fixer, do the legwork, commit the active felony, meet the fixer again. It makes heavy use of clocks, not just harm clocks but danger clocks for everyone the PCs have ever pissed off or are in the process of pissing off. When a clock reaches 24, doom ensues. Like most PbtA games, the setting is table-defined beyond a few core elements (corporations, cyberware, decking), so if you want a radical new take on cyberpunk fiction, you will have to provide it yourself.

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