I caught one of those contemptible summer colds this week. Late Monday night, I started getting sore tonsils, and things went downhill from there. Thursday as I was leaving work, the office manager subbing for the area manager asked me if I wanted to work Friday. I said “no.” Just as I got my car in the driveway, the lead driver called with the same question. I gave the same one-word answer. He was kinda surprised, but accepted it and let me go. I went to be around midnight and slept until 12:45 PM Friday afternoon. I felt hungover the rest of the day, likely because of the lack of liquid while I slept. I even cancelled the D&D for Kids I do at the FLGS, partly because I felt bad, and partly because most of the parents cancelled, and the rest didn’t respond.

By yesterday morning, though, I was feeling much better, but I coughed a lot. Today, I’ve felt pretty good, coughed less, but there have been some side effects that I’ve been unhappy with. Hopefully, even that will be gone by tomorrow, as I’ve agreed to work. Tomorrow might get real interesting…

I went in to the FLGS Wednesday to pick up  Mindjammer, only to find out the one copy the store had sold two hours before I walked through the door. So, I put it on order, but was told there weren’t more at the distributor, so I might have a wait. I then went about my Living Forgotten Realms way. Apparently, the owner had the foresight to order more copies, and I picked it up on Saturday. I haven’t dug into it much, but I did look at the new version of the plot damage mechanics. I like this version better than the version in Legends of Anglerre. It’s a bit more clear, and has better examples of how it works.

I like the setting, except that psionics are limited to VR, which is not going to work in my game. That’s okay. I want to build my own.

I’ve also been reading through Diaspora. I’ve gotten through system development, and while it’s interesting, I don’t think I’d ever use the linkages system. While they provide an example of a system that connects in a fashion other than a straight line, I can’t see there being to many variations, considering you always work through the systems (one for each player) in a linear fashion.

On the other hand, the ratings system, especially after the sidebar at the end of the chapter, sparked some ideas. I just need to figure out what I would rate the worlds of the setting on. Diaspora uses technology, environment and resources, which aren’t bad, but in my mind, currently, all of the worlds of the StarSea are easily habitable, or relatively so. There may be desert worlds, ice worlds, or water worlds, but no vacuum worlds, or hostile atmospheres, etc. Settings like that, while challenging, only creates accounting problems (air supplies, suit integrity, etc.) and a certain “bean-counter-y” feel I really like not having to worry about.

Along that lines, I started giving the nature of the StarSea some thought. In fact, it’s really a mix of some of the ideas I’ve established in my own head combined with some small amount of expansion. The StarSea is like the real world space, a seeming void speckled with matter. However, the Wyrd (the force of magic) appears in two ways throughout the Sea. First, it appears as motes of light. How many times has any one of us watched a TV show with Sci-Fi space travel, and noticed a star moving between us and the space ship? (Hint: it happened a lot on the original Star Trek.) Motes are those tiny flecks of light that seem to be spread through the Sea. They seem intelligent to observers, moving of their own volition, and escaping when captured, seeming to teleport out of whatever container they are placed in. I see the motes a little like the Will-O’-The-Wisps of Pixar‘s Brave, winking in and out of existence, leading people towards the Wyrd’s arcane designs.

The other expression of the Wyrd in the StarSea is the medium ships ply, the Ether. The Ether is a flow of energy with a gaseous nature with currents and eddies. Ships can either move with the current, or tack against it. The Ether also allows people to survive without environmental suits in the void, for a while. Its magic creates breathable air and protects from cold and heat, but won’t sustain a traveller for long. So, weightless maneuvering would be a necessary skill for knights and their allies to have.

Ships use the Ether currents as the medium of travel, as mentioned before. Wyrd-drives align with the ether-currents like sails and keels on old fashioned sailing ships, and knife the ships along. Many also have wings for moving through air, as the vertical sails and keels of aquatic ships don’t provide the lift necessary for flight.

I think that’s all I have time for tonight. It’s late, I need to be up in the morning, and I have need my beauty sleep.





Busy Week

I’m really just posting to fulfill my obligation to myself. I want to post weekly. I’m just having problems doing it.

Partially, that’s my ADHD getting in the way. I let myself be distracted, and I really have no choice in the matter. My brain too freely jumps from subject to subject, so if I’m asked to do something, I have a lot of trouble saying “no.” If I find something to distract myself, I follow that, instead of remaining focused on what should be my priority. I’ve really been fighting that one today. I’ve needed to contact someone to do some handyman work for my aunt (who was here most of last week, creating an entirely different set of distractions), which I forgot about almost as soon as I was asked to do it. I need to make some decisions about D&D for Kids by this weekend, which I really should have given more thought after that last game.

And then there is my job. I worked three days last week, which was surprising, as it was after a three-day-weekend. And I was busy all day every day. While I like the paycheck, that cuts back on the time I have for projects that don’t immediately pay.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a Adonit Jot Pro stylus for my tablet, and I’ve been experimenting with it. It works well enough with ProCreate, but there is a little bit of a curve, more in relation to the app than the tool. At some point, I’m hoping to have some art up.

I also picked up a physical copy of Diaspora, a Fate-based Hard Sci-Fi RPG. I had downloaded the SRD, but I wanted the physical copy, as I want to support the company, and I find paper books better reading before bed. It’s been giving me some ideas, although those ideas are more in contrast to Diaspora, as the themes are different. However, what I’m really hoping to dig into is the “mini-games,” which detail handling ship combat and army-scale combat, which I expect to add into the StarSea. I want to see how they use the Fate rules to accomplish this, and then either adapt their rules or make my own.

I plan to pick up a copy of the new version of Mindjammer this weekend, pretty much for the same reasons.

I think that’s all I’m going to take time to write at this point. It’s more than I expected to spill out, which is always a pleasant surprise.




Issues of Life and Death

I tried to get this done Sunday night, and my damned computer was killing me, so things never got finished. I have a older “CrackBook” (an Apple MacBook model with poorly designed monitor rests that crack the plastic keyboard bezel) with low RAM and a now out-of-date processor. Sometimes it can just crawl to a stop. Sunday night was one of those times. A couple of reboots and a change of browser later, and things are working a little smoother. It’s nice to see that some of you are wandering by to see whether I’ve got a new post up with me having posted notice.

So, I finally came up with a dwarf concept I like. I believe I’ve commented that I’m looking to throw a spin on some of the tropes of fantasy. My ideas for dwarves just weren’t working for me. They just seemed “blah.” Then some things hit me this weekend, and an idea I like hit me. And it’s related to another decision I’d made about the setting regarding how life and magic interact.

The decision in question was the limits of magic in regards to healing. This is something that will take some tinkering to make work with Fate, as the healing system is actually baked into the character improvement system (which is something else I’d like to tinker with). In Fate, characters are defined by statements called “aspects,” such as “I’ve got [OtherPC]‘s back,” etc. Injury is partially handled by a point system (light wounds and exhaustion), and partly by the assignment of special kinds of aspects called “consequences.” While some aspects can be created to be very temporary (like “sand in the eyes”), consequences linger. They’re the “sprained ankles” or even “broken legs” and even in extreme cases, “severed limb.” After every “milestone” (end of a session, scenario, and story), the player can rename and reduce a consequence, representing healing. However, I want magical healing, so this system will have to change somewhat.

On the other hand, I don’t want resurrection to be the option it is in D&D. I want the “Golden Hour.” If you can apply healing magic with an hour of the character dying, then you can bring him back. After that, the character’s soul has moved on to who-knows-where. Same with reattaching limbs, which can lead to magical replacements, etc.

This set of limitations relates to dwarves in that I’ve thought about dwarves being golem-like. So far, though, in the setting, I’ve decided “creatures” like Eberron warforged (sentient golems) can’t exist, as magic cannot create souls. Golems have a certain measure of intelligence (up to computer A.I., but with zero-volition). The summation of the idea that struck me is something like what Chris Perkins was using to explain warforged in his Iomandra setting: fully formed souls come to inhabit a construct. Unlike the Iomandra warforged, the dwarves of the StarSea aren’t dead souls returned to life in new bodies, but are rather coalesced soulstuff inhabiting new bodies through a (more or less) natural process. Before the coming of the Ür, the dwarves were “born” at what the dwarves have come to call “foundry-creches,” natural stony bowls that appeared on their world. Once the Ür began uprooting and spreading the dwarves across the StarSea, new dwarves began forming on other worlds. The dwarves on those worlds began crafting the foundry-creches, and began refining the appearance of new dwarves. The dwarves on Primal worlds have a more rough-hewn look, while those born on other worlds are more like stylized statues, rather than conglomerations of rocks, dirt and roots.

As to gender, I’m considering making the dwarves genderless. They already reproduce asexually, and my thinking is that they come into the world with some basic knowledge (like a large vocabulary), so needing to be nurtured until adulthood is largely unnecessary. The dwarven community shares the responsibility of educating the “newborn,” so again, no need for gender. They will likely have mentor-apprentice relationships, but there’s still no need for gender to enter into picture.

These dwarves are very spiritual sorts, as they have direct evidence of the existence of their souls. They flock to the teachings of the Primal shaman and druids, and the Divine priests and ministers. They join the ranks of both orders regularly. No doubt some would find the “humanist” thinking of the Psions attractive, too. It will take me some thinking on how the dwarves might be drawn to the Arcanists at this point, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

I’m also considering the place elves in the setting. My current idea is more along the lines of the Sidhe, but associating the elves with dragons. Currently, my idea is that the dragons spread the Wyrd seeds of intelligence throughout the StarSea. However, the first dragon to carry such a seed crashed and died. The dragon’s essence mixed with the seed of intelligence, and the elves were born.

Where I’m stuck at the moment is how to deal with the courts of the Seelie versus the Unseelie, or something similar. I know I can simply use Corruption to explain why the two halves of the race exist, but what the physical differences are is problematic. In D&D, you have the elves and/or eladrin and the drow (who are frighteningly racist and sexist in description). In Warhammer Fantasy, there are the blonde caucasian High and Wood Elves, and the black-haired caucasian Dark Elves (and the Eldar of 40K are pretty much the same). I’m planning on the elves having some draconic traits either way, and I don’t think exaggerating those traits in the evil elves is appropriate, as dragons aren’t necessarily evil in the StarSea.

So, I’m a bit stuck. I need to shake up my thinking, somehow.

Now it’s time for bed, as I work in the morning, so I’ll be curtailing things there for this week. Later.


Another Non-post Post

Since I posted so late last week, I’ve got little to nothing to post this week. But, I want to keep up the habit of posting weekly, so here goes.

I worked Wednesday last week, but I worked in one of the busier offices and was basically running all day. That was followed by Living Forgotten Realms in the evening.

Thursday, I chauffeured for my mother, and in the midst of that had my car break down. I then proceeded to stress out over it and got no sleep.

Friday, I dealt with the car. Turns out car batteries don’t like the kind of heat we’ve had here locally this summer (many days over 104°). I did also talk to the kids about the “D&D for Kids session from Hell,” and got it confirmed that even they felt that the adventure was too slow because I ran too many monsters and NPCs. Live and learn.

Saturday, I worked and drive a car up to SFO, and on the way back, got rear-ended in the Morgan Hill Taco Bell parking lot by an insulting lady.

Sunday, I went and saw GotG again, with The Boy. While he was seeing it for the first time, and asking questions about the plot (he has trouble waiting for the plot to unfold and wants to jump ahead, ALL OF THE DAMNED TIME), I was looking for some of the Easter Eggs I missed the first time.

I worked again today, and it was a lot of short runs, so I didn’t bother to type. I have tomorrow off, so I’m planning on focusing on getting more of my old notes typed up.

That’s it. Later.

A Week of Ups and Downs

I’ve been putting off posting, hoping I could turn my mindset around. I’ve finally decided I can’t, so I’ll just post what’s going around my head.

Monday, I got my copy of The Strange that I’d been waiting for. I managed to get it unboxed before the news that Robin Williams had committed suicide. That news threw me into a funk. I am truly saddened by this event. A day or so later, I did flip through the book, but I have no real interest in reading it, at this point. Not because of the loss of Robin Williams, but rather my loss of interest in the Cypher System.

Since I didn’t work that day, Tuesday had me stewing in my grief over Mr. Williams. I can’t really explain his death’s impact on me, other than opening my eyes to some truths about suicide. I’ve always been in the “cowardice” camp in regards to suicide. That is, with a couple of rare exceptions (essentially euthanasia), I’ve always considered suicide weakness and selfishness on the part of the deceased. Having recently explored my own mental issues, and the lack of control the brain can inflict on a person’s decision-making abilities, I’ve come to realize how misguided that thinking is.

I worked the rest of the week, and got some time in to type up some of my old notes, as well as develop a couple of new ones. I’ve been thinking about governments off and on, and I think I’ll be modifying the Arcanists slightly into a serfdom, rather than a slavery-based meritocracy. I just think that makes more sense, but I think I’ll need to do a little more research on the ideas before I can make a final decision. 

The end of my week needs a little set-up: When Once Upon a Time started, as the castle collapsed, Snow say to the Evil Queen, “Where are we going?” And the Queen replies, “Somewhere horrible!” There is a certain glee in the Queen’s voice that made the word memorable in my mind, and now, when something truly awful happens, that word is the first to pop into my mind, so I may be practicing some hyperbole in what follows, as opposed to my usual understatement.

This month’s D&D for Kids was horrible.

As I thought back on it Sunday, I was considering stopping running at all. I’m not that angry now, but I was then, nearly 24 hours later.

Part of me wants to ban the three kids I had at my table, although The Boy wasn’t that bad; he and I just had a rough start. As the game was starting, I was trying to give him a chance to shine, and The Boy refused to put his Kindle Fire away long enough to make the rolls I asked for for his scouting, or to hear the results. I ended up telling him to turn the game off or we would not move forward. To his credit, while he was upset, he held back the tears and kept his lower lip in check.

His sister, The Girl, at one point in her boredom crawled under the table to harass her brother, and when I yelled at her for it, she became sullen, complaining about being bored and wanting to go home, and almost refusing to participate. I now think I should have told her to leave the table.

The third kid, J., is likely in my same boat, having some level of ADHD, because he’s a comedian who can’t turn it off, and is always goofing with the minis and messing up their placement on the battlemat. Not only was he disruptive to my game, he started in on our second table, inducing a couple of those kids to start talking to him, pulling them out of their game, the three of them getting loud and obnoxious.

My yelling at the kids was such that I regularly had the rest of the game store looking at us. I wished I’d been raising my voice for the right reasons, but I wasn’t. I was embarrassed by my own behavior, and right or wrong, I passed the shame down, at least some.

In discussing this with The Kids’ parents that night, it’s been decided that The Kids will be skipping the next game. The Boy has a birthday party to go to, so he was going to be out anyway, but The Girl will be sitting next time out, too.

I think I need to send an email to the other young man’s father, asking some questions regarding J. Usually J.’s dad is nearby, but at some point, I think he left the area. I know J. would cast looks over to where his father usually sits, but I couldn’t tell if he was there, as I was maintaining eye contact with J.

I think I may have compounded the problem by including a couple of NPC fighter types as my table also ended up short a player. Additionally, The Boy eventually freed some prisoners who didn’t just run but occupied the bad guys long enough for the players to even the odds and win. It may be that the kids got bored waiting for the NPC and all the villains to take their turns. But if those NPCs hadn’t been there, I’d have had a TPK, guaranteed.

Now, thinking about it, I probably could have removed a couple of the villains, and most of the henchmen, and balanced the scenario that way. This was supposed to be the climactic battle of the adventure, so having the horde of NPCs made sense. My own lack of foresight (not seeing that the extra NPCs might be boring for the kids) may have contributed a lot to their boredom.

But they’ve never been this rowdy.

Since The Kids’ father reads this blog, maybe he and I can discuss this for future reference. And maybe I need to discuss these thoughts with The Kids as well.

Well, that’s all I have for now. Since I have a different way of looking at this month’s D&D for Kids, at least I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time and yours, Gentle Reader. Later.

A New Edition of “Shower Thoughts.”

I have a particularly thoughtful shower this morning. It was something of a summary of things I’d been thinking about over the course of the week. So, here are today’s shower thoughts…

I had a pretty massive post about why I won’t be buying 5e. I finally realized it was quite a bit of negativity and speculation, and decided not to include it here. While I’m interested in the system, I’m going to be looking at it for ideas for house rules should I run 4e again, but I can do that with the Basic Rules alone. Outside of the money I give them for the 4e tools, I won’t be giving WotC any more for a while. That is all.

The Eternal Champion ending and technology in the StarSea

I had started another Moorcock series a week or so ago, The Eternal Champion. In it, we meet John Daker, a 20th Century man who is swept to another Earth (which may or may not be our own future) to become a new incarnation of Erekosë, a dead warrior from the history of his summoners. He is given the mission to eliminate the Eldren, an elf-like race of immortals. As the story progresses, Erekosë comes to the conclusion that Humanity is unworthy of being saved, but the Eldren are. It turns of that while the humans have lost any technology more advanced than cannons, the Eldren still maintain energy weapons, which they claim humans also had when they first arrived in the world. (The Eldren maintain that they were the first inhabitants of the world.) With the supertech in hand, Erekosë exterminates the Human Race, but to do so, he has to convince the Eldren to use the superweapons at all. With the horrible power at their finger tips, the Eldren had promised to never use weapons powerful enough to destroy the planet again, and instead operated at the same technological level as their enemies.

These ideas got me to thinking about the tech levels of the factions I’ve got in the StarSea, as well as the cultures associated with them. This thinking tied into some other ideas I’ve had, inspired by different sources. I’ve had ideas for unusual sorts of armor, like liquid metal armors, or force field armors. Nothing that’s a true reach here, but should every order have access to them. I also got to thinking about magical pollution, which I know isn’t a new idea either, but I felt the need to consider it.

I know an older idea I’d had was that the Psionic Order is the most technologically advanced. This is how they have managed to hold their core worlds from the Divine Inquisitors and the Arcane Conquistadors long enough to become relevant politically. They use clean technology, very environmentally friendly, and more compact and portable than the other factions. But how does that impact my other factions?

One of the ideas I’ve had in this regard is that the Arcane Order definitely has pollution-creating technologies. The pollution they create is a byproduct of their skirting the edges of total Corruption (<- notice the cap). By spewing Corruption into their environment, they avoid the machinery they use absorbing it and breaking down quickly. However, that means they and their slaves are exposed to additional amounts of Corruption. This explains the Corruption that is part of most citizens of Arcane Order worlds. So, the Arcanists also have a certain industrial overtone to them.

As to the Divine Order, I’m somewhat at a loss. I can see the Divinists using some technologies, but they should have to be sanctified by the Church. Therefore, I think their technology should be relatively Corruption-free. However, while the Psionics likely have “thinking golems,” the Divine do not.

Also, access to technology will be different to the factions, but I believe I’ve already covered this. Psionics will have the most widespread technology, while the Arcanists may build a lot, but few citizens have any, as who would give technology to slaves? The Divinists will likely have a mix; certain approved technologies might be common (farm implements, etc.), while other technologies (especially armor and weapons) will be rare amongst the commoners of the Divine worlds.

The Primals create an interesting conundrum. Even our world has examples of “primitive” people having technologies well in advance of others, such as Great Zimbabwe and the Native American city ruins that have been found in the past few decades. I’d rather a Wakanda like state be the exception rather than the rule, though. However, I want the Primals to be more than “noble savages” who live in teepees, or some such nonsense. I’ve seen and heard too many descriptions of primitive cultures that seem like Europeans with different clothing.

That’s pretty much it for this week. Later.


Took a week off…

Not much to report this week. I’ve more been watching my behavior than anything else. I had most of the week off, but I was spending it A) writing the last post, B) keeping a promise to help my friends’ kids clean their rooms, and C) trying to recover and catch up on other things that got left behind while I was dealing with other stuff, like work.

I did do one gaming experiment on LFR night (Wednesday). I’ve been playing a Tiefling Warlord/Wizard named Morthos. Morthos has never had the best of luck, never being able to execute his First Level Daily power successfully until 4th level, and then getting a critical hit and killing the foe so that the secondary effect didn’t take effect. He died and was raised, and I decided he came back dark, tainted by the Shadowfell. My rolls for him generally suck, and it’s gotten worse recently. It’s been truly frustrating that I couldn’t seem to roll consistently, unless it’s consistently under 10. From what little I could see, my rolls for him aren’t average. I mentioned this at one of our Afters sessions a few weeks ago, calling the character cursed. One of our players is a civil engineer, and pretty science-grounded, and he… disagreed. :-)

We got to a break between adventures, and I decided to run a fighter I’d run before. Xarthal Gark is a half-orc great weaponmaster with a greataxe. His catch phrase could be “Don’t run; you’ll only die tired.” Lots of mark-and-chase powers, as well as a few blasts. Outside of getting a little ahead of his allies and getting hammered for it (about 60 points in the first round), Xarthal did well. My rolls are much better, consistently being closer to 10 than not. I got no crits the other night, but I also didn’t miss often, and when I did, I still did damage thanks to a couple of wise power choices. And unlike Morthos, with whom I change dice frequently throughout the night, I never changed dice. I switch dice after more than two rolls under 5, and I’ve had nights in which I’ve discarded all 7 of my d20s.

So, my conclusion is that Morthos is indeed “cursed.” I have no idea if it’s something about my ideology of the characters making me handle my dice differently or what. I’m going to finish this adventure with Xarthal, and may continue with him for a while. I know our paladin wants me to change back to Morthos immediately (I’m sure he thinks I step on his toes), But I’m sticking with the character for a little while. After this scenario, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Will I bring back Morthos, or will he fade into the shadows, never to be seen again? I’m not sure right now.

That’s about it. Like I sad before, I have little else to report. Later.

Self Discovery and Self-Diagnosis

This week’s entry is primarily unrelated to gaming at all, so if you’re looking for gaming stuff, you won’t find it here this week. This week is about some self-discovery I’ve been experiencing this last week, and so may be kinda messy. You have been warned.

Last Monday, the TV droned on while I did other things. Katie Couric’s show came on, and they started discussing how a psychological problem had affected a pretty older lady and a man about my age. Being a sucker for a pretty face, I paid more attention. Both described their personal battles with ADHD, and the negative impacts on their lives. There was also a doctor who was treating them and was himself an adult with ADHD. It came out in the course of the segment that many children with ADHD never outgrow it, much less even have it diagnosed.

All of these folks described things I’ve experienced. It took a while for that to soak in; nearly a week, even. Impulsive behavior, not completing projects, temperament issues. And then something came along and distracted me (Hint: another symptom).

On Friday, I got the dubious honor of being lead driver for the first time. Lead driver is basically a dispatch sort of job, figuring out who is where and can get where, tracking cars transported, etc. It kinda came about because I was the one willing to do it, and the only one truly capable who wasn’t pissed off at management. Two of the drivers had been reprimanded at the start of the shift (and wanted nothing to do with the job), one driver was the wife of one of the reprimanded drivers, one was deaf as a stump, and then there was me. So I took up the responsibility.

The area manager and the two drivers who weren’t each other spouses said I did a good job for my first time out. I was (and still am) proud of myself for rising to the occasion. I’ve only been in a management/supervisorial position once before, for a few weeks, and that job was so extremely laid back (a night shift doing tech support for special monitors) and with so little supervision above me that it really didn’t feel like management.

Saturday is when things hit me. I was driving for the company, by myself with my thoughts and not feeling like listening to podcasts, so I wasn’t distracted from those thoughts. These things combined to leave me in a mood. I found myself wondering, “If I am this way, why wasn’t it discovered before? How could my life have been different, if I’d been taught how to deal with this long ago?”

I’ve let go of that at this point, especially after starting to research this condition. As I was reading about it, I was seeing quite a bit of myself in the symptoms, and on some review, I can see moments in my past that hammer the idea home. The conclusion I’ve come to is: I’m an undiagnosed adult with ADHD.

I’m self-diagnosing, and I know that I could be wrong. Way off, even. As I said, though, I sure seem to fit most of the symptoms on the websites I’ve looked at (WebMD and Wikipedia). Actual diagnosis is beyond my means right now, even if ADHD is a recognized disability, and treatment is way out there. Fortunately, there are ways for me to help myself, like lists and other things to help me keep on track and focused.

Coming to this realization the past few days has been like such things are often described. It’s like a light has burst from the clouds and and there was the singing of angels saying “There’s a reason for your life being like it is: You aren’t just a screw-up.” (Low self-esteem is a symptom.) Feeling I have something that I can be aware of means I can monitor my behavior a little better and try to find strategies to self-correct. Being aware of what’s happening, I’m seeing myself getting distracted and trying to refocus on my original thoughts.

I could probably write on this forever and a day (provided I don’t get distracted :-) ), but really, I’d be going around in circles, and none of us needs that, so I’ll end this week’s post here.


The Big Game

I have a special form of insanity, I think. I do crazy shit like this:

All kids' face obscured for privacy.  Copyright Ty Cifullo, 2014.

I’m the big guy at the end stuffing his face with orange M&Ms. Orange is the color of Greed. Greed is evil.

Yeah, you’re counting right. There are twelve kids at this table for D&D For Kids, a monthly game I run at my FLGS, Crazy Squirrel Game Store.

Now, until last month, about four of the kids above were regulars. Last month, Free RPG Day coincided with D&D4K weekend, so we made it an event in CSGS’s RPG MiniCon, which they put on for FRPGD. So, one of the other Wednesday night regulars asked if he could bring his kids. “Sure,” says I. Well, he brought his two kids and three others (one of whose mother is pictured above, pitching in). This month? Those kids showed up again (which I expected) and then… Well, here’s a response I left this morning to the “how did it go?” question the store owner’s husband, Scott Martin of Gnome Stew, left on my Facebook after I requested his assistance running:

The need for a third DM came almost literally at the last minute. One of the dads shot me a message at 10:45PM Friday that he was bringing his kid and 3 others (which at that hour of the morning became 5 in my head). I didn’t notice and read the message until 2AM yesterday. Luckily, one of the other regular kids couldn’t make it. 

Otherwise, it went surprisingly well. I had already recruited Rob as a second DM, but I got the wild idea that I would just run a big battle. We had already decided to use an additional encounter seed in the adventure as a “get the new kids more up to speed” scenario and we were going to do two tables until that late notice. When I woke up, I had an idea for expanding that encounter out even more and decided to challenge myself and run the entire thing myself, with all of the kids. It did cross my mind to nix the latecomers kids, but I decided I’d test my chops as a DM and run a mega-game with Rob acting as a floating DM.

Lots of minions were on the field, and I kept them coming in waves. Eventually the older kids got the idea they needed to shut that off at the source (a necromancer send[ing] waves of skeletons at the PCs), did that and ended the game. I had had a completely different vision of how the game would work, but I wasn’t able to execute that. I’d have rather[ed] there be multiple DMs who could have handled chunks of the field and kids, but Rob as a floater worked well, because he could field questions for me and worked well getting the parents to help their kids.

Except for a couple of kids getting bored between turns, they all seemed to have fun. But next month, I know a couple of the kids won’t be back because they were just visiting Fresno, so numbers will be a little easier to divy up. However, I’m going to add a couple of clauses to the email I send out requiring more than 24 hour notice on the RSVP, so things can be planned better.

I think a certain amount of hubris was involved in my decision to run a game this big. I’ve wanted to do a multi-table game for a while, or a big game with multiple GMs. Those ideas are more like a Living (Fill-In-The-Blank) style game, where different tables might have different things going on, but all would contribute to the overall story. However, I am a little anal (no, I’m a lot anal), and once I got the idea for such a big game this weekend, I couldn’t let go of it. Fortunately, the scenario I threw together worked, and I’m glad for that. Also fortunately, I believe the back-up DM I chose, Rob (the other beardy adult in the photo above), doesn’t have the sort of ego to be bruised by not DMing his own table. (Especially as we had our home game later, which he is currently running.)

Again, on the upside, it seems the kids were happy. One of the new kids came around the table to give me a hug, so I guess she liked it. I swear, though: Next month, we will split the table. As well, kids that show up at the last minute may well be turned away, or someone at the store will have to whip out the D&D 5e Starter and run that scenario.

Yeah, I’m a special kind of crazy…


Funny What You Learn…

So, last Thursday, I started going through my old posts here on the blog. I simply used my tag-link, and I re-read those posts as I cut-and-pasted the material I needed into a new file. As I read, I came to a realization: I’ve made the same decisions repeatedly. Covered the same ground multiple times.

That I haven’t got a master file for my thoughts and notes, but have been keeping note tablets that don’t include what’s here means I’ve been thinking and writing in circles. And that’s got to end or I’ll never get this done.

So, I exported my outline to a format the apps on my tablet can read, and I’m going to focus less on creating for a while, and more on retyping my notes, so that they’re in digital format, so I can start incorporating them into my outline, and transforming that into a manuscript.

Hopefully, a consolidated file will help me focus a bit more and stop going around in circles. I’d rather report progress than to keep reporting the same things every three months.

I’ve also been poking around at Pinterest and DeviantArt again. I can loose a lot of time there, as well as my own swipe files. And my swipe files only grow as I look at those sorts of sites. Aye-yi-yi.

I’ve also found a number of interesting articles on the FATE game system that is helping me to see how the system can work, and how to GM it. Included in those articles were examples of scenes from famous movies described in game terms. I’ve also found a couple of articles that have pointed me towards the Diaspora SRD for space travel and some elements of science fiction I’m thinking should be present in the StarSea.

I’ve also encountered some reviews of the 5e products available so far by folks who were fans of 4e, and God help me, they make the rules sound interesting. I still really want to hate the game…

Really, that’s all for this week. I’m working tomorrow, and I have Living Forgotten Realms tomorrow night, and I need to get some thing ready for both. Later.






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