Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wonders of Kauai

A couple of years ago this week, I went to Hawaii, where I saw all kinds of cool stuff. I was just recently reminded that, when I first got there, I only posted pictures of boring stuff because... I don't know. I just thought it would be funny. Beauty like this should not be for only my social network friends to see, though. It belongs to the world. Here you go, world. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gen Con Events

I ended up adding another event to my slate at the last minute, so here's what I've got:

Title: Archer: Phrasing
Short Description: Nobody's sure what year it is, but the Cold War is still a thing and Mallory Archer is in charge of a spy agency.
Event Type: RPG
Game System: Vortex System
Rules Edition: 1
Minimum Players: 4
Maximum Players: 8
Age Requirement (All ages, Teen, Adult): Adult
Experience Required: No
Material Provided: Yes
Preferred date/time: Thursday 1pm
Event Duration: 4 hours

Title: Just Another Layover
Short Description: Diverting to a newly-charted system to answer a distress call, you find an outpost crew claiming it was a computer error, saying everything is fine. Of course, everything is not fine.
Event Type: RPG
Game System: Star Frontiers
Rules Edition: 1
Minimum Players: 4
Maximum Players: 6
Age Requirement (All ages, Teen, Adult): Teen
Experience Required: No
Material Provided: Yes
Preferred date/time: Friday 1pm
Event Duration: 4 hours

I had been thinking about running D&D games based on parts of the book I'm working on, but I kinda decided that would be more productive after it's published. I suppose I could have used something from Losing Lanterns, but I didn't.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

BASHCon 2018: One More Time With Feeling

Tom & I missed BASHCon last year because we were in the middle of a move, so this was a welcome return to an always-cozy gathering. As I've said before, it's almost like another "hoot" but with better gaming spaces and some extra people buzzing around. We could call this Tol Hoot 9 instead of BASHCon 33. But we probably won't.

Tom left Thursday because he wanted to have a pre-con gathering. I'm told it was small but fun, and they even got in a late-night game of Crawlspace. I wanted to avoid using my precious vacation time, so I waited until Friday after work. At some point while I was driving, Tom texted me a picture of a woman's torso.

I got in and got registered in plenty of time for Jerry's private Stay Alive game, A Little Horror on the Prairie. It turned out that everybody was still getting settled, so there was time to hang out and even look around the commerce nook. I kind of had an urge to buy some dice all weekend, but nothing grabbed me. I was presented with some shiny gold and green earrings that Tom picked up for me, though. I learned that Phoenicia had moved to a larger space upstairs, but it was still around and still delicious, so no biggie.

So anyway, we found a big table in the corner and got into our Wild West horror personalities. Or Wild North, I guess. I don't know word stuff. We staggered around town for a while, doing our various con artist, gambler, or general trouble-maker things, until Jerry realized that a group this big was never going to be gently steered in the time we had. It worked out to be a good balance of free-roaming versus plot advancement, I thought.

It turned out that we had even less time than we thought, as the convention staff started shoving everybody out the door at eleven o'clock this year. Nobody else had plans, so we decided to re-convene Saturday night to finish the adventure.

Tom, Paul, and I went back to our rooms to consolidate vehicles and then off to Applebee's for a late night snack. That's right, Applebee's, not Del Taco, because Del Taco -- sigh -- was gone. Anyway, I was enjoying the conversation and the weekend break from my diet so much that I didn't mind.

We slept in and took our time getting over there on Saturday. Neither of us were signed up to run games. I had planned on signing up to play some stuff, but the only thing that looked interesting was Jerry's Sunday D&D event. There was a six-hour long Marvel Super Heroes session, but... six hours. I did bring my Icons rulebook, in case the opportunity for a spur-of-the-moment adventure came up. It almost did while we were having lunch at Phoenicia with Randy & company, but then he wasn't feeling well and canceled. He said he wasn't feeling well, anyway. The rest of the crew had already left to play other games, so, with only one GM and one player, gaming seemed kind of pointless.

I went shopping and picked up a sparkly garnet ring from this guy who always has cool jewelry at BASHCon, and chatted with Beckett at the Weird Realms booth. Well, I went over there intending to just chat. I figured he'd just have stuff from the store that I'd already seen, so temptation would be minimal. As it happened, he had recently dug up a bunch of old D&D stuff that had just been waiting to be cataloged or whatever. I ended up with a well-preserved copy of The Isle of Dread (the real one, not the ugly remake they did for the Mentzer edition) and a much less well-preserved copy of The Lost City. My old Isle of Dread was really ratty, and I had never owned a print copy of Lost City, so I snagged 'em.

Tom was still talking to the guy who made the wrestling game after all this, so I wandered into the hall and wallowed in my swag. My copy of the Star Frontiers hardback had arrived just before I left Cleveland, so I had that with me as well. I didn't get it at BASHCon, but it kind of feels like BASHCon loot. After a while, I went back to the wrestling guy to find Tom, talked for a while, and wandered off again. Later we wandered around and found Beckett at the auction.

Once everybody was free, we had dinner at Phoenicia with most of the BASHCon contingent. Beckett was working, Paul was elsewhere, and Randy was still under the weather, but it was still a big group.

And that brought us to Little Horror: Part Two. There were actually many more previous parts, but I'm just going with the BASHCon count. Jerry found us a nice conference room to play in, and Paul joined us just in time. There was a dimension-shifting church and a bunch of frog-demons and a sudden betrayal to deal with, but we managed to get back safely. Well, Saharrah did clock her boyfriend's preacher character with a bat, but he lived. We found Denny on the way out and noticed that it had started snowing pretty hard. There had been plans for a party, but the maybe not with all the weather stuff. We did still end up hanging around and drinking a little bit with the other Red Roof denizens, so it wasn't a total write-off.

Sunday morning was the event I named this blog after, Jerry's heavily customized 2nd Edition AD&D game, One More Time With Feeling. I always look forward to this one, and I wasn't disappointed. We didn't do a whole lot because the group was huge, but we did some exploring, some drow-fighting, and some role-playing, and we achieved our objective, so it was cool.

We may have lost Del Taco, but we still had our Sunday lunchplace of choice, El Vaquero. No Beckett, but we had a big enough group to squash the other patrons in the area deep into their booths with our boisterous nerd-revelry. And the food was really good. After everybody else left, Tom & I talked to Paul a bit more and drove home.

And I really did not want to go back to work on Monday.

Friday, February 09, 2018


"They have their goals -- touching or comical or mad. But I’ll be content to drift through the Exile world in my scarlet balloon, looking down on all the people and the animals, listening to wind and the cry of birds, smelling pollen, resin from the forest, smoke from wildfire on the grassland. I’ll come to earth only when I feel that the Earth is real again and I am."

Elizabeth Orme, from The Many-Colored Land, by Julian May

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Gen Con & Writing Stuff

I've only submitted one event for Gen Con. I didn't really even want to do that one, but I felt like I should make some token effort to contribute to my group in exchange for the badge (and yeah, I'm entitled to a few of their extra hours after all I've contributed over the years). In some ways it's a little sad because I always have fun running games and it's a chance to do creative stuff that I wouldn't otherwise do. I even picked up one of those newfangled cooperative board games that all the kids are playing, thinking it might be a prep-free alternative to RPGs. From my one play-through, it looks like fun, but not this time.

For all the fun I have playing those games, there are hours of stress that come first. There's time I could be writing that goes into bringing ideas together. There's time I could be packing, squaring things away with cats, or just relaxing, that goes into making those goddamn pre-generated characters. There's psyching myself up to perform in front of a bunch of strangers. In the case of the board game, I'd have to get the rules down well enough to teach it to strangers, just like I would with a new RPG. And, when that's all done, there's always teaching, which I hate even more than cleaning out litter boxes.

I don't need it this year. Hell, I still haven't started my D&D campaign back up because I'm still not sure what to do about the bloated roster. Sure, the hiatus may very well have solved that problem for me already, but I'd still have to start the process, and the thought of more organizing makes me tired.

Those are issues I've always dealt with, of course. I've probably nattered on about them in this blog, even. The reason they're not worth my time this year is the good news. If I need to run a game, my Icons campaign is back in action and doing great. More importantly, work on The Nameless Way is really picking up again. Now I'm just hoping I can finish it and see it in print before the last orange straw breaks some camel's back and this whole country turns into Ferguson.

I don't want to end on that note, though. I'm excited to be doing the stuff I'm doing. Maybe I can share some more information about what's going on, later. That's always harder than actually writing the story, partly because it feels so silly and pretentious, but I thought the last attempt came out all right.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: Remember That It’s All in Your Head

Where to start?

Here's a TV moment that kind of sums up 2017: Tom and I were watching Crisis on Earth X. Sara walks up to Alex at the rehearsal dinner and starts tossing back drinks. When asked what she's looking to make go away, her response is, "Nothing. I just like the taste of scotch." Back in the (sort of) real world, Tom said, "She drinks like you."

So here's to making that fucked-up outside world go away, and to loving the taste of scotch. Or whatever.

Writing... well, it's been going much slower than it should, but it's getting better. I'm now calling the book The Nameless Way. I started the year off strong, then things began to taper off in the summer and really fell apart during Gen Con month. I tried backing away from gaming for a while, I tried silly resolutions, I tried, you know, stuff. I think what finally got me back on track was when I took a week's vacation around Thanksgiving, escaping not just conventions and all that structured gaming stuff, but the constant brain-killing drum of my day job.

There were so many games, though. We started the year off with a clump of 'em at Weird Realms for Tom's birthday. My D&D campaign there drifted off early. I never had more than two players and, after a couple of cancellations for illness and something else I think, I never much felt like trying to schedule another one. The Scrap Pile had been on hiatus since late last year for other reasons.

In March, though, my World of Greyhawk campaign started up. I did this partly because my friend Curtis's D&D campaign had gone on hiatus to wait for a missing player. This one has been lots of fun. We were running along every couple of weeks, tromping through old modules and stuff. It had a bunch of long-distance friends in it so that was cool too. After a couple of months, Curtis decided he needed to start his campaign back up without waiting for the other guy, so hey, double the D&D! We even had a brief Icons reunion for Giant Size Scrap Pile #3.

In the fall, we were finally able to stir the Scrap Pile back into action. Aaaand Curtis started an Icons campaign of his own. That put the count up to four. I was running an Icons game and a D&D one, plus playing in, well, same. Sometimes we were playing twice in one weekend.

Also, the Greyhawk campaign was huge. I was wrangling five to seven players every time. That's about as many as I can handle at a real table. On Hangouts I'm more comfortable with three or four.

October came around and, on top of all that, I needed to get ready for the games I was running at Carnage. I told everyone I needed time off from gaming stuff so I could do more gaming stuff. Carnage came and went. It was awesome as usual, but didn't do much to clear my head. Curtis has run one out-of-continuity romp-type game since then and I had a blast running the Scrap Pile Christmas Special, but I still haven't started my campaigns back up. I guess I will eventually, on a less crazy schedule... assuming anybody still wants to.

I love both of my campaigns, and I love my friends, but I can't function with humans flitting around in all my spare time. If this year has taught me anything, it's that talking to or even thinking about other people too much is like sleep deprivation. I can handle some overload, but the toxins build up quickly and take a long time to clear out.

Like I said before, the vacation helped a lot. Before that, I was too fried, even with the restored spare time, to even catch my breath. Now I'm starting to pull it together. The shorter break for my Christmas trip helped, too, even the part where I got stuck along the way for some surprise auto maintenance. I'm a little concerned about where it goes from here. Multiple week-long getaways are a privilege for the wealthy. Maybe spacing out the game sessions will do it, or at least get me close enough that some carefully planned shorter breaks will work. My day job didn't use to require measures like this but, since we got sold to Jabba, it's been generating too much psychic garbage for me to shovel out.

I've also been backing away from social media a little, especially Facebook. I still use the blather sites quite a bit, but I had gotten into some bad habits, like using them to look for distraction when I was in a bad mood, or using them to vent. It's embarrassing how long it took me to realize that both of those are more likely to make things worse. On a somewhat related note, the site that did the syndication or whatever you call it for this blog appears to have imploded. While it was nice to get the extra hits, having to come up with something to blog about every month was annoying, so... good riddance, I guess.

I put out the last major piece of the Qalidar RPG, the Qritter Qatalog, this summer. There could, theoretically, be other books later, because I've still got some material I could run through the grinder and release. I suppose I could also do a compiled edition, but I probably won't. With the monster book out, I've done pretty much everything I felt obligated to do. If anybody wanted to actually play the game, they could do it and not feel like pieces are missing. Well, they might feel that way, but they'd be wrong.

Other stuff: Hey, in February, we moved! Not far -- just across the expressway. It was a grueling slog of a move, but I'm really happy with the new place. It's a house instead of an apartment, it's quieter, the way it's arranged is more conducive to the way Tom & I like to do stuff, and when things break, they get fixed. Plus, balcony!

Anyway, my goals & plans for 2018 are pretty much the same as last time, because I'm still not there and I still haven't quit. I'll try to find some practical ways to stay on track.

I'm thinking of backing away from conventions a bit. I'm already committed to go to Gen Con next year, and I'm not sure I could give it up anyway. It's a painfully expensive rampaging stress-monster, but it's also a freakin' amazing five-day party. I could, however, GM less and play more. Carnage, of course, is exempt. I could go to BASHCon and not run any games, or just run one off the books for my friends. It's a low-pressure shindig that doesn't even require time off from work. And maybe that's it. Tom's going to GaryCon with Monk, but I was already thinking of staying home to save up my vacation days... and bank some extra alone time.

I guess that's the end. Happy New Year!