Two Years Have Passed

I feel the need to write a gaming related blogpost, as the 12th of July, 2020, has been a bittersweet day, and I need to record that to share it with the greatest number of people easily. Once I could get logged into WordPress, I had to dig around a bit to learn that my last blogpost was two years ago. I could go on at length about my life in general, but I am going to focus on today, and it being the culmination of many years.

If you’re a long time reader and you are actually still subbed to this blog, I applaud you for sticking with it since my big blog fade. You will remember, Long Time Reader, that one of the games I have focused on for so many years was “D&D for Kids.” I don’t remember how the FLGS owner roped me into it (with satin ropes), but I’m sure it was one day when I had dragged my godchildren into her store and played something with them, and she was impressed with my ability with the kids that made her say “Hey, we want to have someone teach kids D&D! Would you be interested?” And probably my impulsive nature said “Yes!” before I considered the consequences. Long time readers might remember some posts here about those games (especially the one in which I dealt with 14 kids!), but eventually the posts faded away, like the kids. I got frustrated with players not showing up, parents not responding to emails, and people moving away without letting me know, so I eventually stopped running the game as a store event. The kids’ game dwindled to four kids: my godchildren, and children from another family, the P.s (names redacted for security).

(Now, I have to let you know that I jumped in with both feet about a year ago to run a “D&D Day Camp” at the same FLGS about a year ago, but that’s a subject for a different blog post.)

One of the two kids from the P.s has graduated high school this year, as has my godson. But the P. girl’s graduation is more impactful, as she’s leaving town to go to college on the Right Coast. So, today was her big going-away game. This was the continuing Starfinder game I’d been running since around the time of my last blogpost two years ago. I’d continued to run two games in “parallel,” or as close to said as possible, with the kids meeting once a month and an adults game meeting weekly.

Of course, COVID-19 has changed things: Both games have gone online, and the kids started meeting more regularly. Both families of kids are far more active that I ever was in school; both P.s are involved in drama, and my godkids are in band and color guard. Because of those activities, both families were frequently busy on the weekends, which is why we stuck with monthly games for so long. But COVID-19 actually helped us in that regard, as we could play more frequently. Mind you, I’m not saying COVID-19 is a good thing at all, but it has had a positive impact on our gaming frequency. So, I could accelerate the kids’ game. Today was the culmination of that.

And I must tell you, today, I ran the longest game I’ve run in a long time. We started just after 1PM, and closed up the game around 8:30PM. I’ve gotten used four hours tops. But I’ve also gotten used to running big set encounters with one big monster and a horde of minion-style monsters to act as speed bumps. That’s what this one was. My godson pulled his one of his regular stunts of throwing a monkey wrench into things in the middle of the game (I love the kid! He’s regularly able to throw something into my game, some wild thought, that derails all my plans. I do sincerely love what he adds to the mix.), and the game had many of the characters on the ropes. But in the end, someone else had the idea to complete the maguffin that I had thrown into the game and beat the bad guy, so that I could switch to narrative play and bring the game, and the kids’s plotline, to a close.

Yes, I’ve ended the kids’ game for a while. It needed to happen. A.P. leaves soon, and with only three other kids, I’m feeling the game is going to have a lot of difficulty continuing with so few players if I continue using Starfinder. So I need to do something else. As things ended, the three players who are still in town (my godkids and J.P., A.P.’s brother) are now on the quest to find A.P.’s character, who was lost in their transition to another dimension (the Fantasy Space universe I’ve been working on for so long).

I could spend a lot of time on this next idea, but part of this change is because I’ve learned to hate Starfinder. The garbage space combat rules, the disorganization of the rules, the quirkiness of the systems, and worst, my own inability to get the feel for encounter building have significantly soured me on the game. Two years in, and I’m ready to move on.

But the end of A.P.’s journey with us is the bittersweet part, and the end of the game just punctuates that. She’s a good kid. I have fond memories of her being there, from her start (as she told me tonight) as a seventh-grader through the past six years. I remember traveling with the god-family and stumbling across her in one of the outlying towns. She and a school group were also traveling, and she introduced me to some of her friends as “my Dungeon Master.” (Which, looking back on it, could be taken in a very bad, dark, strange way…) I will miss her presence at my table.

But she moves on with her life, and I hope to see her on my TV someday, sing her heart out on the stage as she goes for a Tony Award. I’ll be happy to be able to say, “I knew her when…”

It just got dusty in here, and it’s late. I need to hit the hay. The last few sessions of my Thursday game need to be plotted out, so I can wrap that one up, too, and get out of Starfinder.

Hug your kids. They grow up too damned fast.


Correcting the Course of My Life

In a few days, it will be the one year anniversary of Mom’s death, as covered in the previous post. I’ve felt the need to do an update for a while, but I’m finally getting around to it tonight. Partially because I’ve been reading up on organizing and procrastinating, and partially just because I feel I have some things I want to put here, rather than on Facebook, mainly due to length.

Over the past 51-ish weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out where things go from here, now that I’m no longer putting my life aside to help take care of Mom. That’s pretty much stating the obvious. While I’ve been wrestling with that, other things happened:

  • In August, I picked up Starfinder, Paizo’s space fantasy. I enjoy the most of the system, the setting not so much. I don’t care for space combat, but I’m working on a solution.
  • In August, I finished running Numenera, and came to the conclusion I won’t be running that game again, and in fact, earlier this year, I put all my books up for sale at the FLGS, Crazy Squirrel. The GM Intrusion is an intrusion on my storytelling to the point that I feel I can’t properly run a game.
  • Nothing really special happened in September. My sister and I made it through our first birthdays without Mom’s presence without falling apart, which is good. (My sister was born the day before my 9th birthday.)
  • Late October, shit started hitting the fan for me. I had lots of car problems, starting with my tires going bad just after their warranty had expired, followed by leaks in my car, which turned out to be the oil filter flange and a coolant system leak, which required a couple of replacements, and culminating in…
  • Mid-November, when my car was broken into at CSGS, in which all my laptop (in it’s bag) and my EDC were stolen. That stretch cost me about $3,000, which I had only because I had Mom’s death benefits. Fortunately in a couple of cases, I ended up with better items (like the replacement laptop) than the items I lost.
  • Thanksgiving went okay without Mom as well, as did Christmas and New Year’s. We all still miss her, and sometimes things set us off (like the Fallout 4 usage of Country Roads, the John Denver song, which our family has a special affinity for as Mom’s family is from West Virginia).
  • In January, I started running two Starfinder campaigns, in a modified version of the Post-Gap Golarion universe. One was the Kids’ game, and the other is my Thursday night game at CSGS. I didn’t care for the plot of the first Adventure Path, but the first book is pretty decent, hitting a number of different systems (like ship combat and Zero-G), so I ran it for both groups, but decided to put both games in the same universe. I’ll discuss this more after I’m done recapping the year.
  • In March, my sister got to talking with a former co-worker who is now a realtor, and we started talking about selling the house. While there were logical reasons to do it, there were a lot of reasons not to, and eventually those won. We finally stopped looking in mid-May, when the reality of the process caught up with us.
  • Which brings us to June, our first Mom’s birthday without Mom. For her birthday, my brother took us to see Brian Regan, a comedian who we had listened to on tape on a previous Mom’s birthday while driving up to Yosemite. We all had a good time. And now, both my sister and I realizing we need to make changes in our lives, bigger changes that we thought in August of last year.

And that’s pretty much been the past year.

I had two things I wanted to expand on from above, and I’ll start with the lighter of the two, gaming.

As I mentioned, I started running two games in the same universe. As I didn’t care for the setting they included, I had the players in both groups create planets with some sort of adventure I could put on them. In a couple of cases, players from each group independently came up with the same idea. I stitched that together with parts of the Future Golarian I liked and we went from there.

The adults in the Thursday night game have completed the first adventure path and dealt with some backlash. I significantly changed the end, making their trip through the adventure an elaborate recreation of the adventure the kids are working their way through. That the adults are moving faster (because we meet weekly), I’ve had to guess at things the kids will do and how it will impact the adults’ game, and vice versa.

I’ve started watching the second campaign of Critical Role, which is up to Episode 24 on a weekly series. I’ve learned a good deal from Matt Mercer about how to handle NPCs and narrating the effects of combat, and I’ve been trying to incorporate those new lessons into the game as we play. I’m having a better time GMing that I have in quite a while, even with Titansgrave a couple of years ago. I’ve felt more creative than I have in a long time.

On to the important stuff, real life…

Once Mom died, I started thinking about my commitment to my job, as well as my direction in life. The job is just an income, and is slowly turning into nothing but a source of stress. The free time has kinda worked for me, but my own lack of organization and discipline means I’m not getting anything significant done. I need to change these things.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a Facebook post that referenced a movie in which the main character makes a deal with the Devil to get his heart’s desire, and of course, that doesn’t work out well. The poster went on to say that the lead character didn’t want to work for the things he wished for. It kind of hit me as my own situation for quite a while now: I have things I want, but I haven’t wanted to work for them for quite a while, probably since about 2012, when I last submitted to Wizards before 4e was cancelled. I’ve been coasting.

Lack of desire to work doesn’t interact well with ADHD, at least, not if you want to change things in your life. So, over the past few weeks, while I’m not working, looking for a job that I care about enough to actually put in the effort to apply for, and doing some gaming stuff, I’ve been looking at methods to try to regiment my time better. I’ve pretty much decided to try some variation of bullet journalling. In that research, I stumbled across this page: This post, and a couple of connected ones, are very much a description of my life. And hopefully a pointer to a way I can get some motivation to get out of my current, going-nowhere situation.

That’s all I’m going to post this time around. It seems incomplete, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on this post, and I’d like to move on to something else. There are so many other things I could write about, but if I wracked my brain and remembered all of them,and then wrote about all of them, I’d never complete this post. If I restart posting here consistently, it will mean I’ve actually got something other than how my life is going to post about.


Independence Day

I’m not sure how to start this post. It’s basically going to be a eulogy, along with some of my own stuff.

Mom’s Obituary


Nada Evelyn Brown, “Mom”, passed away on July 4th, 2017, age 77, due to complications of diabetes. Her final days came quickly. On June 29th, the hospital was going to send her home. On July 2nd, she was on a bi-PAP for breathing problems. July 4th, she was put into hospice care at noon, and she passed away at 4:17PM.

Everyone liked Mom. Before she lost her hearing and she could still interact with folks, she came across as Mrs. Claus. A sweet little butterball of a woman, Mom made friends easily. But she was also somewhat stoic. We rarely saw her cry for any reason. She’d complain only a little about her aches and pains, but not when she felt really bad. “Oh, never mind,” was something we heard a lot, instead of “I really don’t feel good.”

That was what made her request to go to the hospital that last time so surprising. Usually she would have just suffered through and my sister and I would have to make the call. Not this time. Mom was desperate, not something I’d seen before.

She seemed to get better the first few days. But on July 1st, they couldn’t give Mom a full dialysis without her blood pressure crashing. July 2nd, the hospital called to tell us that her death was eminent. My brother made it down from Sacramento in record time. The doctors had a little hope one more attempt to give Mom dialysis might help, but that failed, too. So after meeting again with the palliative team, we made the decision to start hospice.

The weeks following Mom’s death were a mess. She was to be cremated, but the crematorium had just gotten a new oven and it broke down, so I had to leave work early to sign off on moving her body to a different crematorium (a majority of the survivors have to sign-off on such things). The cemetery has a limited number of places for cremated remains (I hate the portmanteau the industry uses, and I’ll not repeat it here), and between hunger and an assault of numerical information, we had some difficulty dealing with getting a plot for her. We had to make a couple of trips to the marker makers to get her a marker (because the first lady helping us didn’t know the program well). There were some issues with the photos we were using for the service. But, when the day finally came, everything went well. Having three weeks between her death and her memorial service, as well as six months of her out of the house, helped us in expressing our emotions, so the service was relatively tear-free. We had a picnic after as a reception, with fried chicken, as Mom would have enjoyed.

Three weeks have passed since the service, which is a total of six weeks (seven tomorrow) since Mom’s death. We think about her a lot, and there are plenty of old habits that die hard. Just last night, I wondered to myself if my sister had made a plate for Mom, and then remembered that Mom doesn’t need a plate any more.

On the other hand, “Independence Day” has a second meaning for us. It will no doubt sound heartless to say that not only was my mother freed from her failing body, we were also freed from all of the chores and burdens associated with caring for her. My sister the most, as she had manipulated her work schedule most and had the doctor appointment duty. Our time is now our own. My sister has taken more advantage of it than I have, having a couple of trips under her belt. No trips for me, but I’m working more hours, now that I’m free to work every day, rather than the Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule I had been working for the past year and a half.

Both of us are now looking for new jobs. Mom’s income was a fair chunk of the household income. My sister is having more success than I am, but that’s not stopping me. We need more income, and we now have freer schedules, we’re now open to new things, and available for more hours a day.

Some quick gaming updates–

I’ve continued running Numenera on Thursdays. I like that I can edit the piss-poor scenario I’m running on the fly. I can look at an opponent, assess their imbalance, and do the correcting math in about two minutes (assuming a lot of abilities that need to be adjusted). I don’t know that I’ll continue running it past the couple of published adventures I have available to me, but it’s good to know the system is so flexible.

The D&D 4e Kids game is almost done. They have one more battle (because I decided that there was one more battle I didn’t want to slog through, especially now that they have the macguffin weapon that is deadly to most of the creatures in the adventure). I put the bug in the kids’ ears that we can continue with a different game and a different world. We’ll see where they want to go in a couple of months.

My brain has been focused on the Superhero project. I’ve found the index card method really helps keep me from rewriting things, but not revising. But I haven’t gone revision crazy, so I’m staying focused. I’ve also decided that I may go ahead with gaming stats for the characters, but I’ll be using Fate Core and Venture City for my rules set. Why? Because numbers aren’t a big part of the system, but descriptives are, which are good for writing. John Rogers of The Librarians and Leverage fame uses the game for his own character development. So I think it can work for me. I can develop my characters without getting bogged down in mechanics.

That pretty much covers life for the past few weeks. But I’ve come to a conclusion. I’ve been quite happy not blogging for the past few weeks. The blog has really started to feel like a chore, even as I’ve kept altering my schedule to less and less regularity. For now, this blog is a burden I don’t need, so I’m going on indefinite hiatus where this blog is concerned. I’ll just be sticking, for now, to Facebook and Twitter and Google+ (and LiveJournal, but nobody uses LJ anymore).

Thanks for reading.


Taking Time Off

Most of my readers will have already gotten this information from my Facebook posts, but Mom has entered the end of her life. She’s a fighter, but soon she’ll lose this battle.
I’m going to need time to process this loss. I’m closer to Mom than I was to my dad, so I’m expecting a lot more hurt, even though I’ve been aware this was coming for a long time now. I’ve been mourning in stages from the time we went to the meeting at the dialysis center when they first told us Mom was on the road to dialysis. The loss of hearing, her loss of mobility, and her recent loss of “fire in the belly” to come home from  rehabilitation have all kept me painfully aware that “the end was nigh.”

Anyway, I’m taking a couple of weeks away from this blog, as well as most other things. I’ve contacted my boss about work and my Thursday night group about taking time from the GM duties I’d just assumed. This post is your notice, Gentle Reader.


Mom’s Continuing Health Issues

I’m going to comment briefly on the Numenera FreeRPGDay adventure before venting about Mom’s health, which I expect will be the bulk of this post.

I was planning on running the Numenera FreeRPGDay adventure on that day. My FLGS gave me the adventure early so I could prep for it (which is a very good thing), but Mom was supposed to be home from the hospital that same Saturday with no one else to watch over her. So I cancelled the game, but held on to the adventure.

I found the adventure a pretty weak introduction to the Ninth World, if not the Cypher System.

The adventure desperately needs a GM summary, as I could not follow what was going on until near the end, when the writer, Dennis Detwiller, finally tells the GM what’s going on. Without that summary, it just seems the PCs are thrashing around pointlessly, trying to survive in a world that is not the Ninth World. Yes, Detwiller immediately sends the PCs to a parallel universe, rather than writing an adventure actually set in the Ninth World.

For a game that touts its place as a game of discovery, there is a fair amount of combat in the early phases of the adventure. And as I’m now running the adventure for my Thursday night group, I’m finding the combats pretty tough for what seem to be beginning characters. My players have made it only through the first encounter, as the first combat encounter is a touch too powerful for the pregen characters provided.

The adventure then becomes less a game of discovery and more a series of arcane puzzles. Again, a GM summary would have saved me a fair amount of confusion and frustration while reading, as I was trying to determine what I would have been able to fit into a five hour session. I did eventually figure things out when I got to page 16 of a 17 page adventure, which is where Detwiller finally spills the beans on the point of the adventure.

For the Thursday night game, I’ve already determined what encounters will be cut, but I’ve also seen that some of the combats are going to have to be modified. I feel that, for an introductory adventure, this adventure really is a poor choice. I’m regretting choosing it over the Vortex adventure provided with the starter box.

I’m having trouble remembering the exact sequence of events of the last couple of weeks regarding Mom’s trips to the hospital. She’s been in and out so frequently in the past few weeks that it’s difficult to keep track. Yesterday was the latest, and she’d only been home for 18 hours (or less).

Let’s see… we sent her to the hospital on June 5th. She was there until after her birthday on the 10th, released on the 15th, with a UTI that the hospital missed and assumed was constipation. Last Sunday, the 18th, she complained of “feeling oogie.” Monday the 19th, we sent her to the other Community Hospital. They treated her for the new/continuing UTI. She was completely different from when she was in the hospital between the 5th and 15th, being more alert and coherent.

Why did we send her to the other hospital? Because the dialysis center Mom goes to recommended that or putting Mom in hospice, as Mom wasn’t capable of helping get herself dressed or even sitting up for long. Monday was a bad day, once I got this news. Then we learned of the infection and saw Mom better and got some hope again.

Friday, we had a meeting with the palliative team at that hospital. It seems locally, much fewer services are offered in palliative care than is discussed on the palliative information site. That might be because of Mom’s insurance, but I’m not sure. End result is that palliative care won’t get us better, whole family care, so we won’t be pursuing it. That and that we need to somehow get Mom to stop the passive-aggressive crap and discuss how long she’s going to fight off dying.

She came home on Saturday and we sent her back per her request yesterday with difficulties breathing. They gave her oxygen and she immediately felt better, but the EMTs said she had diminished lung noises. The hospital told my sister that Mom had only had dialysis twice last week instead of the usual three, which might be why she’s got the extra fluids in her system.

The past couple of weeks have been very stressful. Like I mentioned above, we need to focus Mom on discussing the possibility of her demise, but she’s avoiding it. I got so upset yesterday seeing Mom wheeled out again that I nearly broke down. That she seems to bounce back so strong every time doesn’t help. Those bounces have created expectations that are eventually going to prove unrealistic. We all need to be more ready than we are.

It’s frustrating how quickly the hospitals try to send Mom home without all of her issues resolved. It’s frustrating that she avoids the discussion of her future. Like I said, life is stressful right now.

That’s all I’ve got for now.


Pete and Repeat Went Up the Wall…

(Note: the first half of this post was started on June 9th, a few days after the last post. I thought I’d posted the draft and had simply not promoted it. Obviously I was wrong and I’m adding to the post now.)

After my last post, I sat down and re-examined the Google Docs file I’ve been using to write my thoughts about my superhero project. In so doing, I realized a problem with my creative flow: I cover the same ground multiple times. I noticed this with the StarSea as well. I continuously go over the same ideas.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to change the way I work. I was looking to do that when I got my first iPad. That was why I was typing the five notepads I had filled when I started on the StarSea project. The idea was that eventually I would move the text files into some sort of database or wiki that would allow me to connect segments together. My distraction from that caused me to not learn this lesson.

Now I’m going to try something new. I was largely able to stay on track with the Adventurers! Rewrite by using index cards, numbered as chapters so I could follow them like an outline. So I’m going to try the card system with my superhero project and see how it works.

I’ve also got a Trello app for my mobile devices that I might try working with soon. I’m thinking about picking up OmniOutliner, too. It was included on one of my laptops as free software a few years ago, and I like using it, but that version doesn’t work like this new version, which works across devices through iCloud. While the app is relatively inexpensive for the Mac, it’s a bit more than I want to pay for the mobile version, even though I’ll be able to use it on both devices. I’ll be giving it more thought in the near future.

I really haven’t done much with this index card idea since I wrote the above. I mentioned the UTI issue last time. About the time I started this post, she was given Ativan to help her sleep. Unfortunately, sedatives like that linger in the diabetic’s body, especially in my mother’s case, as her liver also doesn’t function correctly. The liver and kidneys filter drugs out of the system, and when they don’t work, the filtering they should do obviously doesn’t happen. That’s part of the reason for dialysis. So from that point to now, Mom’s mind has been altered. It wasn’t frightening (at least what I experienced), and in fact, it was kind of amusing. But now it’s persisted.

We brought her home Thursday night, and put her directly to bed. Friday morning she was complaining of pain and acting very strange. She wasn’t very coherent, but she could answer questions, but mostly the answers were her repeating her complaints and then crying in pain. So we sent her back to the hospital, where they dialyzed her, as well as drawing a liter of fluid from her abdomen. It tested clean, so it seems it was just her body allowing fluid to pool. She came home last night, and complained enough that I was up attending to her three times this morning, shifting her position in the bed as best I could. All day today, she has been listless and lethargic. And since she’s been in bed again for a week, she again has no muscle tone or strength. Things are not going well. And tomorrow is her first dialysis after leaving the hospital, so we’re wondering if she’ll be able to transfer to a wheelchair for transport.

That’s all for now. Maybe I’ll remember to discuss FreeRPGDay at length. The short version is that I spent a lot of time prepping an adventure I ended up having to cancel. There is plenty more there, but I’m out of time for tonight.


Usual, Tired Sunday

Not sure what to discuss tonight, but it has been two weeks so it’s time again.

Update: After outlining and doing a bit of typing, the week went to hell and I’ve had trouble getting back to this post. I’ll insert updates like this as appropriate.

For a gaming blog, I write a lot about my personal life, such as it is. Lately, it’s been a consuming part of my reality, so I’m writing about it. I practically have no choice.

Mom is at the center of that. She came home the Thursday after the last post. We got the equipment the day before that. We got a crash course on using it all and have been moving her from bed to recliner and back since. I could link to a video to show you, the gentle reader, how the lift works, but suffice it to say it’s a complicated mess, and while it can be done by a single person, it’s not really a one-person job moving Mom.

We currently clean her on her bed, as well as dealing with her waste. She’s already had another UTI, along with its attendant shakiness. On the upside, she has started helping herself more with standing in the lift, rather than just hanging limp. But she still can’t transfer from recliner to wheelchair without the lift. Because she can’t transfer, we’re not going to try to go to Yosemite, but we are going to throw a party here at the house for her birthday.

It’s been stressful, but life continues.

Update: This is really where things went to hell. Monday night we had to send Mom back to the hospital as the UTI got out of control, again. She didn’t black out like she usually does, we just came to the conclusion that things could get a lot worse if we didn’t nip the issue in the bud. So, we’re making trips to the hospital again, which takes time from everything else.

I’m going to quickly cover some of the media I’ve been partaking of lately. Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have both been viewed In the theatre and enjoyed. Both are visually stunning, and both have solid stories, although I found the final battle in Wonder Woman somewhat… forced? Contrived? I’m not sure. Just… unsatisfying.

John Wick was also viewed. The gun-fu is pretty wild, and you really don’t watch that movie for any other reason. I was quite amused to notice that John doesn’t leave any target alive. There’s always a follow up head shot on every one he kills with a gun. Knives are handled a little differently, but that’s to be expected. An enjoyable film. I suppose I need to see the second movie now.

I’ve been watching the current season of Doctor Who and it’s “spin off ” Class. Both shows are obviously Steven Moffitt joints, as the writing is very similar. I’ve enjoyed Capaldi’s run as the Doctor. His eyes have so much depth as he performs. I’m not sure where I stand on Class. High schoolers taking on interdimensional threats while being angsty would seem to be up a Buffy fans alley, but I’m just not sure.

Update: I’ve also been watching Justice League Action on Cartoon Network, as well as Origins and Year Million on Nat Geo. It’s been good to see the JL back on TV. They’re short episodes with a real sense of humor to go with the little helpings of action. The Nat Geo shows are really interesting examinations of humans and their technology and how each has shaped our past and present and is shaping our future.

On to gaming finally. Kids’ D&D is coming to a close soon, and if we continue, I’ve decided we’re moving to Fantasy Age. After running Titansgrave and now playing Dragon Age, I just feel it’s an easier game to prep and GM. In fact…

I’m going to put the Adventurers! rewrite on hold for Fantasy Age. I really have begun to think that a lot of the tinkering I’m doing is lead in the direction of FA anyway. Plus, with Green Ronin announcing the release of Modern Age for GenCon this year, the game will expand and I can probably mix and match parts of the two games together to get what I want.

I do know there are things I want to tinker with in Fantasy Age. I want a “minions” system (one-hit mooks), which FA doesn’t really support, as even the weakest foes require at least two hits. I’m also thinking about using the DA Background system for races or subclasses, but I admit it’s been a while since I looked at FA character creation, so I may need to refocus my ideas.

I also am thinking about changing FA Magic for other systems, to create a more Mage the Ascension feel to magic. The kids will use the basic system for that game.

I’m also wanting to streamline the character stats back to the DA defaults. FA adds a couple of stats, like Fighting as separate from Strength, etc., that I think are honestly unnecessary.

I’m still cogitating on the Superhero updates. One of my stumbling blocks is the character’s age: how old is Richard Knyte? How long has he been in another dimension? The character was originally created in the 80s as the son of a Vietnam War era super. I imagined him about my age, maybe a little older. I’m not interested in creating (or recreating) an aging hero. I’d already determined that the character will not have aged significantly while in the other dimension…

I might need to supply a little back story. Back when I was playing Champions back in the 80s, the GM encouraged players to create a stable of characters covering different hero types. Richard Knyte was known as Agent Omega, a former member of a Hydra-style group who had fled and become their self-appointed destroyer. My enthusiasm for the character waned some, and he really was a one-note kind of character. Once the Hydra Analog was destroyed, he became a bit directionless, as one might assume. I changed the character’s codename to Vindicator, moved some points around on the character sheet, but I just couldn’t find the character’s place in the post-Hydra world. So, the GM and I agreed to retire the character for a while, punting him into another dimension for a while, until we could work something else out. In time, before I could bring him back, the GM and I had a falling out, and Richard Knyte remained in that dimensional hole.

About 20 years ago, I found an action figure that inspired me to redesign the character, as I’ve mentioned previously. That really didn’t work, and I realize now that the redesign in question didn’t deal with the character’s story. I just have him another new name and costume, but I didn’t deal with the underlying problem: what gives the character a reason to live? Something about that new action figure, tiny as it is, screamed at me, “I’m Richard Knyte and I have a story to tell!” (Adam Savage mentioned that puppets he has collected have done the same thing to him: suggested their character by simply being.)

So that’s why I’m working this project: Richard wants me to. I feel I need to do right by him. Because I’ve misplaced his origin, and (as I’ve mentioned) someone else created some elements of it, I need to rebuild his past and align that to his present.

Originally, Richard’s father was a hero code named Commando. I’ve since looked up the word to find out it means “a soldier trained to raid the enemy.” That doesn’t sound very heroic. So, I’m beginning to think maybe he wasn’t. Maybe Commando was the son of another, older hero from an earlier era, and Commando was his black sheep son. That older hero needs an original name, if I chose to continue with this history.

I’m going to leave it there. I’ve had some other thoughts on the superhero project, but I’m going to leave those for now or I’ll never get this posted. But that’s it for this post.


Mother’s Day, Amikacin and You.

Last time, I mentioned how Mom’s prognosis was up and down. Over the past ten days, it’s been all over the place, exasperated by insurance issues. Last Friday (that is, before Mother’s Day), we were informed that Mom’s insurance would no longer cover her as a short term patient, as of this Thursday. So, our options are to bring her home unable to walk, but with therapists and nurses and such here at home, with all sorts of new devices to help us move her around, or we could put her in long term care, which would end any therapy for her and she would never come home.

We decided to bring her home.

But a week later, and she’s still at the convalescent home and we’re still without the equipment. The equipment is supposed to be here tomorrow, and so might Mom, but we have no real idea if we’re ready for her to be home. The next couple of weeks are going to be difficult no matter what.

Mom has realized that she didn’t do enough to help herself out of this situation, but we also realized that her health is so sensitive that her ability to consistently perform is hampered. She mentioned feeling shaky and not able to do her therapy many times during her stay, and only this past week or so did we realize that the shakiness was related to her infections. The most recent bout of shakiness was due to a UTI, which I know I’ve mentioned before is related to the lack of functionality of her kidneys.

When we learned about her impending discharge, we decided we’d put off doing anything for Mother’s Day until she came home. We did have the staff put Mom in her chair so we could take her out on the patio and have some peach pie my sister made the day before. I hear from folks a lot that I should enjoy these times more than I do, but I often feel like I’m spending time with a stranger. I know I’ve mentioned it before that Mom has lost her hearing. I used to spend a lot of time with her, discussing life and all that. Now, since the destruction of her hearing, it is so difficult trying to talk to her that I’ve basically given up on such complex subjects.

I say “destruction” because that’s basically the truth of the matter. Mom’s hearing was destroyed by Amikacin, and antibiotic used to treat MRSA, which Mom had contracted during one of her visits to the hospital. I posted about it on Facebook, and I wanted to repost my original post every year, but Facebook makes that basically impossible, so I’ll try to make this a regular thing here on the blog. So here’s my warning to you, gentle reader:

Amikacin is an antibiotic used in the treatment of MRSA, medically resistant staphylococcus aureus. It has a known side effect of burning out the cilia in the inner ear, destroying the patient’s ability to hear. You have been warned, friends: you will lose your hearing if you are prescribed amikacin.

Only a cochlear implant has any hope of restoring hearing, and implants are not advised for diabetics, due to healing issues related to the disease. So Mom will never clearly hear again, and I can’t really talk to her any more.

I could go on with other things, like John Wick, or my creative projects, but it’s late and I’m not really interested in writing more now.


W*rk is a Four-Letter Word

Last night, I wrote a lengthy piece on how work has been going lately. I’m in a better mood today, and I’ve decide it was too long and inappropriate to be posting in anything approaching a public forum. Suffice it to say, it has been very stressful lately.

Adding to the stress is Mom’s condition. One week, she seems on fire and is really working to come home. The next week, she seems completely unmotivated. She’s been out of the house since sometime in February, I think. We thought going to Yosemite for her birthday would motivate her, and it seemed to for about two weeks. My sister and I are getting tired of the delays, and they all seem centered on Mom.

I finished the Economix book. I really wasn’t too surprised by much in the final chapters. I’ve lived through them.

I still recommend the book to anyone interested in how our economy got as messed up as it is.

I otherwise haven’t done much of anything creative lately. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’ve been doing with my evenings that aren’t Thursday through Saturday. Sometime in the last two weeks, I watched Arrival, which was a pretty amazing movie. I reread the Killraven comic book mini-series of a few years ago, written and illustrated by Alan Davis. There are some ideas within that series that have inspired some of my ideas in StarSea. That’s all I can remember right now, even looking at a calendar.

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

Going to Try to be Quick, But We All Know How That Goes…

Not much going on. Mom is still out of the house, which means I’m still working a lot and not doing much at home. In addition, Mom had a bit of a scare last weekend, her heart rate suddenly elevating for no real reason. They never did say what the cause was, but as soon as my sister arrived at the hospital, Mom’s heart rate dropped back to a proper level. She was prescribed a new drug to keep her heart rate lower (in addition to her pacemaker to keep her heart from going too slow), and another drug to keep her heart rate up, and I think a drug to improve her appetite (she currently eats like a metaphorical bird).

I’ve read more in the Economix book, and I’m looking forward to getting through it all the way. It’s a pretty interesting description of the way economics have and haven’t worked in the US. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

I’ve tinkered a bit with the Superhero Reboot, and I may be getting a bit rabbit hole-ish, in that I’m thinking of doing some world-building for the superhero world in which these characters exist. Part of me doesn’t want to bother, but without some ground rules, I have no basis for the characters, especially the legacy of my super-agent, as he’s the descendent of another superhero. I need to be careful, or I’ll end up going down a rabbit hole and starting work on a full universe. I don’t need that deep a project in addition to all the others.

Last Saturday, I went to the game store to while away the day while my usual group of friends were out of town, and it just happened to be an RPG Meetup day. I managed to jump into a game of Dresden Accelerated (Fate-based), which I think is still in playtesting. I enjoyed it, and the peak into some of the new systems. I look forward to picking it up in June.

While listening to a live-play podcast, I got to thinking about how undead might work in a setting. That is, how does the magic that animates the dead actually make a body something other than a bunch of meat lying on the floor.

The undead in most RPGs are taken from mythology, and therefore they have a host of origins: spells enacted on whatever bodies are lying around, rituals that transform the subject, but cast by others and the ritualist, infection vectors, and seeming spontaneous generation. I was thinking that for StarSea, I’d have one origin for most (or all) undead. That requires me to think about how the undead work.

In the podcast I was listening to, the zombies the party encountered were being animated by ghosts who were bound to the bodies by a sigil only one character could see. That set me to thinking about this subject. In Game of Thrones, the first of the White Walkers is created by the forest spirits in an attempt to thin the human herd which backfires on them, hideously. This creature was programmed to create others of its kind, and some of those seem to be sapient while the bulk are mindless hordes. Those two examples popped into my head of undead that aren’t so needlessly diverse.

On the other hand, I get the idea of different undead being linked to vices, a curse of the gods meant as an example of how immoral behavior will not be tolerated. I’ve never liked that idea, as it seems pretty backwards to give a sinner such vast power as a “punishment.”

I really don’t have a solution at this point, but I know in the StarSea that the undead are linked to the Corruption. Whole worlds and populations have been turned to undeath. This sort of undead should be like the undead of the GoT, not the random odds and ends of walking dead that populate most fantasy worlds. But this is just the kernel of an idea.

It’s late and I’m tired. So there you go. That’s it for this time.