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 So about four years ago, Dave and Joel introduced me to "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Every time I visited them we would watch about two episodes, which made the story go rather slowly. Then, one Christmas, Joel got me my own copy (go Joel!). By this time I hadn't seen it for a while, so my enthusiasm for it had died down. I told Tim we could watch it together but he'd have to see the first season by himself, and I'd join him at the second season, where I'd left off. Slowly my enthusiasm for the show grew again, until midway through the third season I discovered I was rapt. Right now I've just finished with "The Boiling Rock," and I realized what a good thing this recent viewing of the series has done for me.

It has been very hard to say goodbye to Newshounds once and for all. The three-volume set is my "bow" on the story (I didn't call it "complete" for nothing) and a self-inducement to move on. Maybe "Newshounds" wasn't a person, but I was still in mourning over it. Sure, I've got some other projects on the horizon, but I'd put my heart and soul into this for so long, and I loved the characters and stories so much. I still do. And I still don't want it to go, even though there's nowhere else to take this story. (It doesn't help that it didn't become the massive success I still believe it should have been.) Somehow, I had to work on disengaging from it; I had to FIND a way to let it go.

Avatar has been helping. I'm amazed at how well-done some of the turns in the third season have been. Admittedly, it's a flawed show. Characters are inconsistently portrayed (lookin' at you, Sokka kid; also, I don't believe Zuko and Mai as a couple) and some of the goofy faces get on my nerves (especially in the first season). I do have to remind myself that the clunky expository dialogue is there because it's targeted to be a kid's show.

But it's got so much going for it. The painstaking martial arts awareness and mythology-building are just a bonus buttressing the interconnected stories and the sense of wonder with every new episode. There was so much thought put into the series that I wouldn't be surprised if it spent more than five years in development. It's magical, it's amazing, and it's thoroughly engrossing.

And to make that mean a little more, be aware I don't actually LIKE a lot of things, apart from music. This is an admission I make freely. I'm somewhat engaged with Star Trek TOS/TNG; I like my friends' webcomics; and I enjoy some of the classic, zanier Britcoms. It really takes a lot to get me into something, because most of the time I'll just get impatient and want to get back to making my own stuff. Passive entertainment does nothing for me. I want to create, create, create... and the only reason I don't do it more is because DAY JOB BARELY MAKES RENT.

Avatar has broken that barrier. Once I finish the series I may move heaven and earth to get the sequel series, "The Legend of Korra." I'm not going to be super-fanboyish about it (I do not want a bunch of Aang maquettes for my cats to knock over) but I do think it's an excellent - maybe even transcendent - series worth watching once, even twice. And for once, I've thought to myself, "Well, if I didn't make it, that show DID, and that proves to me there is good in the world somewhere." That attitude is helping a lot in the process of my moving on.

In the future, I may make more detailed posts about plot points and characters I liked and disliked. We shall see.

22/7

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:15 pm
den: (Default)
[personal profile] den
It's 22nd July. Happy Pi Approximation Day!
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The Grand, Unified Map of Gneech's Campaign World

Then, the world changed. Continuing from part five...

I was going to finish the recaps with the discussion of last weekend's session here, but I got to talking about the map (as one does) and realized the last recap would have to wait for one more post.

Once I realized that Storm King's Thunder was a "build your own campaign" framework and not a straightforward adventure module and embraced it, that meant that I had to build out the world in order to make room for it all. I went through the module from front to back and placed every location important to the campaign somewhere, and then set myself to the task of filling in as much of the blank space around that as possible.

I discovered that the Silver Coast was waaaaay too small... )

It took several days and the project pretty much ate my brain the whole time, but now that it's done I'm really happy with the result. This is a game world that I can see going pretty well forever, with enough detail and history to feel "lived in" while still having plenty of room for expansion as needed (I tried to leave myself lots of open spots). It's not suitable for publication or any such thing– it's got chunks of Greyhawk, chunks of Faerûn, bits of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, and of course the Middle-earth nations of Rohan, Arnor, and Angmar with the serial numbers shaved off. But it is a cool place for me and six friends to visit every Saturday night.

It also taught me a lot about world-building in general, which is valuable for creating original works. I will probably use a very similar process to build out Calypsitania and the Fortress of Tears world for writing novels in next.

Next time, part seven, in which we finally catch up to the campaign!

-The Gneech
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[personal profile] the_gneech
This Round's On Lem, from the Pathfinder Wiki
This Round's on Lem, from the Pathfinder Wiki


He spews lightning. He crashes into everything he gets near and knocks trees over onto himself. And yet he's still kinda adorable. Continuing from part four...

The first town on the road north was Tyvalich, a major trading town at the mouth of a pass up into the richest silver mountains in the world. Before they got there, however, the party was confronted by Felgolos, the Flying Misfortune, a young-ish adult bronze dragon who came swooping in, blasted a line of lightning between the party and the road, and proclaimed that he was the protector of the north and they would go no further. And then had to duck from the lightning-blasted tree that almost fell on his head.

Seeing Xerlo in their company had apparently... )

They headed back to town to collect their reward, stopping briefly to aid and comfort the same band of Calladganger hunters they had met before, who had been tracking a herd of aurochs through the mountains and gotten the snot pounded out of them by a bunch of hill giants. Still convinced that Nikki is some kind of nature spirit, they turned down his offer of "eagle" (actually bloodhawk) meat, because eagles were sacred to them and this was obviously some kind of spiritual test Nikki was putting them through to make sure they followed the old ways or some such. Nikki informed them that there was a nicely large, vacant Calladganger-style homestead in a box canyon just a ways up the mountain that they could safely camp and recuperate in, as long as they didn't mind the smell of burning dead monster. Their leader promised they would ritually sanctify the house and that anyone who settled there would be named the People of the Squirrel in gratitude for this beneficence.

"Right. You do that."

(For the record, the Calladganger leader is not whimsically eccentric, even if I do refer to him as "Kronk." He's a perfectly normal big dumb amiable lug.)

After a night of rest, it was time for the four day hike to Hierandal, which will come in part five.

-The Gneech
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Drow Assassin by thatDMan
Drow Assassin by thatDMan


You knew a prophecy had to show up eventually. Continuing from part three...

Upon arriving back in town, the party headed for Lord-Protector Shendrel's offices only to find an unruly mob of farmers complaining about Xerlo, the stone giant, who apparently defended an outlying farm from attack by throwing the farmer's silo at a bunch of hill giants who were stealing all the livestock they could get ahold of while chanting "Food for Guh! Food for Guh!" They said they'd have a talk to him.

While they were in town, [personal profile] inkblitz headed off to the Golden Compass Society for Exploration, Acquisition, and Monster Dispatch (a.k.a. the Adventurers Guild), while Sirfox headed for the Brotherhood of the Spider (a.k.a. the Thieves Guild). [profile] jamesbarrett went off to the temple and the garrison to boost morale, aid the refugees of the volcano still clogging up the town, and presumably chop wood or something paladiney like that.

Investigation at the Adventurers Guild revealed... )

They were not expecting the dragon attack that comes in part five...

-The Gneech

PS: Quit creeping on that drow, guildmaster! Don't you know that's Obsidian's mother?

Lut Health Update: Stable

Jul. 18th, 2017 02:53 pm
rowyn: (worried)
[personal profile] rowyn
Lut's siblings came in last weekend, all four of them. I suspect I appreciated this more than Lut did. Bone marrow cancer causes a lot of fatigue: it's not just "he's in pain so he doesn't sleep well so he's always tired", as I thought before I brought him to the hospital. He just doesn't have a lot of energy. Maybe five or six spoons total for the day. Interacting with someone for a few minutes takes a spoon. It's hard.

On Saturday, I asked them to look at skilled nursing facilities for me. They ran all over the city, looking at the ones on the printout the hospital had provided. They were kind of horrified by most of them. They got to the last one on the list too late for a tour, and they told me I should look at it because it looked nice based on its website.

I went to that one and it looked good in person too: clean, well-lit, cheerful, good facilities. I went to the one his siblings liked the best of the ones they saw, and thought it was pretty good too. It was a hard choice for me, because the facility the siblings hadn't toured was a newer, nicer building with better grounds, but the rooms were smaller and most of them were "semi-private": they'd share a bathroom and a little foyer-hall with an adjacent room, and only a curtain separated them from the little foyer. It wasn't as a bad a shared room: there was a real wall between the two rooms. But a curtain is not nearly as good as a door when it comes to blocking sound. The more run-down facility had larger rooms and they were all private.

I tried to consult Lut on it on Monday, but he was too exhausted to give an opinion and the hospital wanted one in the next few hours. So I picked the nicer facility. I can hope he'll luck into a private room? I don't know how this will work with insurance. They are crazy expensive without.

At the hospital, they moved him from the ICU back to the regular ward last night. He doesn't seem to me like he's ready to be discharged to anywhere, but he's off the IV and they've detached all of the other wires they've had him hooked up to. They didn't even have him on a heart monitor when I saw him this morning. The case manager in the ICU thought he might be discharged this week. I don't know how long he'll be at the skilled nursing facility, except that it is short-term care, not long-term. The idea is that he gets rehab there, and then he can come home.

He doesn't seem to be in as much pain now, but he is exhausted every time I see him. Even when we get him sitting upright in a chair, he dozes off in a matter of minutes. If the chemotherapy works, he'll regain some energy, but I don't think rehab on its own is going to get him any more spoons.

I don't know what to say. People keep asking me how he's doing and it is exhausting to try to answer. Badly, but stable? He's better than last week but not better than when I took him to the ER. The oncologist is optimistic about the chemotherapy. He gets his second treatment today.

Prayers and well-wishes still appreciated. Thank you all for the car advice, too. *hugs*
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[personal profile] the_gneech
Ghost paladin possessing a troll SMASH!

Kolstaag Albrek never knew what hit him. Continuing from part two...

It has always been true, but it is especially true of 5E that rolling low on initiative kills bosses dead. Between being blasted by the party's wizard and cleric, sneak-attacked by the rogue, and having a ghost-possessed troll flip a desk on him then pick him up and go all TROLL SMASH, Kolstaag Albrek didn't even get a spell off before the party had wrought their revenge. The pair of drow he was meeting with decided that was their cue to call it a day, and the wizard's vicious gargoyle pets were quickly dispatched. The only other occupant of the house was a cranky old coot named Xzyyzx, the wizard's housekeeper, whose opinion was that the wizard's death meant it was his house now.

The party were not inclined to debate the legalities of property ownership in Three Roads, but instead reclaimed their gear ([profile] jamesbarrett was quite jazzed to discover that Togar was the owner of a suit of adamantine plate), read Kolstaag's mail, and headed back to town. Kolstaag, it turned out, was working for a drow by the name of Nezannar, which triggered deja vu in players from my previous Silver Coast game.

(Since that game is actually set 50 years in the future relative to the current one, the events of that game are history repeating itself, even though it got played first. Wibbly-wobbly campaigney-wampaigney.)

They also fetched Xerlo the stone giant out of the basement. He was quite surprised they were no longer in their cells, but on being informed that his former employer was dead, he adopted a very c'est la vie attitude on the subject. The party invited him to come along back to Three Roads with them, with the plan of setting him up as an 18' tall Lurch-like guardian angel.

Lord-Protector Shendrel of Three Roads was a bit taken aback by having the party come back two days later from the opposite direction the fire giants had gone, with a troll and stone giant in tow. However, when shown the evidence of Kolstaag's shenanigans, took them at their word. (Having a paladin in the party really does wonders for the group's trustability.) She installed Xerlo in a barn outside of town, but took pains to point out that the job she'd hired them for– make sure the fire giants don't come back– was still not done.

So they set off north, tracking the fire giants. Even two days cold, the trail was fairly easy to follow for most of the way. They ran into some Calladganger hunters from the Clan of the Eagle, who seemed to think that Nikki was a nature spirit, but eventually found a cave complex populated by orcs herding axe beaks.

Their attempt at scouting the caves was thwarted when Rina botched a Stealth check. The orcs thought she was just a random wood elf in the forest and were going to bully her for fun, but the rest of the party came swooping in and disabused them of that notion quickly. A general alarm was raised and it turned into a huge furball with orcs, maddened axe beaks, fire giants, and their fire elemental pets/familiars/adds/whatever they were.

In 30+ years of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I would have never guessed I would see opposed Animal Handling checks be a factor in combat. Achievement unlocked.

Hathas, his time "bonding" with the troll seeming to rub off on him, waded into the fray with more bloodlust than one generally expects from a paladin, even a fallen one. The fire elementals damaged the troll so badly that Hathas abandoned it and joined the fray in ghost form instead. While the troll retreated to a cave in the back where it could munch on dead orc and regenerate, Hathas attempted to terrorize a fire giant (not unlike the librarian in the prologue of Ghostbusters). The fire giant was not terrorized... but members of the party were. Nice jorb, Hathas.

The odd thing about ghosts in D&D is... they have hit points. They resist nonmagical damage, but in order to interact with the world they must manifest on the physical plane. Fire giants do an average of 28 points of damage with a single hit and their attack bonus alone equals a ghost's AC. The fire giant made short work of Hathas, much to everyone's surprise (including Hathas).

The fight was a tough one, but the party rose to the challenge. Brother Drang finally got to use the call lightning he'd been itching for, and Togar entered a new phase of his career by being the tankiest ever but not getting one-punched in the first round. When the dust settled, the party was battered and bruised but victorious. They retrieved the giants' rod of the vonindid, a kind of dowsing rod for adamantine golem parts, and also discovered that these giants had found the vonindid's entire left hand. They rather hastily buried this where it was, as it was way too big to haul anywhere, and headed back to town.

The troll survived.

It turned out there were developments with their new stone giant friend, which will be revealed in part four!

-The Gneech
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[personal profile] rowyn
When I was in second or third grade, my teacher gave us an assignment: write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone who's never made one or even seen what one looks like.

After we turned in our assignments, my teacher then followed our instructions, one after another.

If you've never seen this lesson, it is mainly a lesson in assumed knowledge. The teacher's goal is "if there is any way to do it wrong, do it that way." If the instructions tell you to put peanut butter on one side, bear in mind that bread slices have six possible sides. If the instructions don't specify to take the bread out of the bag, try to make it with bread still in the bag. If they don't say to open the jars, put the entire jars in between bread slices. If they don't tell you to pick up a utensil, try using the utensil without picking it up. Etc.

The lesson works best if the person assembling the sandwiches is very creative about what they can imagine getting wrong. It is hard to cover all the possible ways one could get it wrong, because we are well-trained on how to do it right.

My workplace decided to do this as a team-building exercise: remote associates would write instructions, and those as a main location would assemble sandwiches. I wasn't going to participate: I remembered how hard it was to do when I was seven. But another associate asked to partner with me, so, okay.

I wrote instructions.

These are not perfect instructions. I could find ways to mess them up. (I really phoned in how to open a bag, sheesh. And I didn't explain how to hold a knife or spoon, although at least I specified 'in hand".) I was personally a little disappointed that partners in the exercise were not incentivized to screw up the directions. Anyway, I did win the contest with these. For maximum entertainment value, imagine what one could mess up following this anyway, or why I'd need to be this specific.

How to make a PB&J
  1. Make sure the following items are assembled within easy reach, on top of a counter. (If you do not have a counter available, substitute a table throughout these directions): Table knife, Spoon, Jelly in jar, Peanut butter in jar, Loaf of sliced bread, Dinner plate
  2. Set plate directly in front of you on counter.
  3. If bread is in a bag, open bag. How to open bag will depend on exact bag, but may, eg, involve untwisting a tie from one end and pulling the plastic apart at the top of that side so that it is open on one end.
  4. Remove two slices of bread from open bag.
  5. Place slices of bread on plate, side by side.
  6. Close bag for loaf of bread.
  7. Hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  8. With your free hand, take hold of cap.
  9. Unscrew cap from peanut butter jar by turning the cap counter-clockwise.
  10. Place peanut butter jar cap upside down on counter.
  11. Pick up knife by its handle in free hand.
  12. Insert blade of knife into through the opening in the peanut butter jar created when you removed cap.
  13. Use blade of knife to scoop out a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  14. Put peanut butter jar down on its bottom on counter.
  15. Pick up slice of bread in your free hand.
  16. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  17. Place the side of the knife that has peanut butter on it against upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  18. Slide the side of the knife with the most peanut-butter on it over the bread in such a way that the peanut butter is spread over one face of the bread slice in hand.
  19. If there is significant peanut butter on other side of knife blade, repeat step 18 with the other side.
  20. Cover upper face of bread slice in hand evenly with peanut butter in a thin layer, 1/16th to 1/8th inch thick, depending on how you like your sandwich.
  21. When almost all peanut butter from knife is on bread face, place base of knife against edge of bread, with the rest of the blade above the face of bread that has peanut butter.
  22. Drag blade down along edge of bread, from base to tip of blade, to scrape off any remaining peanut butter onto the face of the bread that already has peanut butter.
  23. Repeat #22 for other side of knife blade if there's still peanut butter on it.
  24. Replace slice of bread in your hand in an empty space on the plate, with the peanut-butter-side up.
  25. Put knife in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  26. Pick up peanut butter cap in your dominant hand.
  27. In your free hand, hold peanut butter jar by its body, cap-side-up, in your off hand.  (ie, in left hand if you are right-handed).  Your fingers should curve around the side of the jar and your thumb curve around the side in the other direction.
  28. Place cap right-side-up against top of peanut butter jar.
  29. Screw cap onto peanut butter jar by turning the cap clockwise.
  30. Place peanut butter jar bottom-side down on counter.
  31. Open jelly jar, using steps 7-10 but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  32. Pick up spoon by its handle in free hand.
  33. Insert bowl of spoon into through the opening in the jelly jar created when you removed cap.
  34. Use bowl of spoon to scoop out a tablespoon of jelly from the jar.  Quantity does not need to be exact.
  35. Put jelly jar down on its bottom on counter.
  36. Pick up the empty slice of bread in your free hand.
  37. Hold slice of bread so that one face is against your palm and the other side faces up.
  38. Place the bowl of the spoon against upper face of the bread slice in hand, with the jelly in the bowl of spoon facing the bread.
  39. Slide the bowl of spoon over bread so that the jelly approximately covers the upper face of the bread slice in hand.
  40. Use back of spoon to finish spreading jelly neatly over upper face of bread slice in hand.
  41. When almost all jelly from spoon is on bread face, place base of spoon bowl against edge of bread, with the rest of the bowl above the face of bread that has jelly.
  42. Repeat 40 for back of spoon if there is significant jelly left on it.
  43. Put spoon in sink, dishwasher, or other spot appropriate for dirty utensils.
  44. With free hand, pick up slice of bread with peanut butter on it so that the empty face is against your palm and the peanut butter side faces up.
  45. Align slice of bread with jelly on it against the slice of bread with peanut butter on it, so that the sides covered in peanut butter and jelly face each other and the two pieces of bread are lined up into a single square. If the instructions worked, this is your PB&J.
  46. Put PB&J on clear section of dinner plate. 
  47. Follow steps 26-30, but with jelly jar instead of peanut butter jar.
  48. You are now done.
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Ghost Martyr Paladin by SpiralMagus
Ghost Martyr Paladin
by SpiralMagus

"So there we were, locked in a dungeon with a stone giant." Carrying on from Part One...

The new phase of the campaign really began with the first session down in Kolstaag Albrek's dungeon. [personal profile] inkblitz's new character was introduced to the rest of the party ("A talking griffon? Neat. I'm a five foot tall flying squirrel!"), as was their erstwhile guard, Xerlo the stone giant, whose first line was a straightforward, "If you try to escape, I will kill you," but who seemed more interested in scribbling on the floor than anything.

But he was willing to chat, assuming you could parse his mode of speech. Riffing on the idea that stone giants are sort of the hippie-dippie mystics of giantkind, I decided that Xerlo didn't care about things like "good" or "evil," but was only interested in what was "true" or "untrue," and that he was on a vision quest to find out what was really going on with the breaking of the Ordning– because he didn't believe that the stone giant thane's interpretation ("We must destroy every town, city, or building of the little folk!") was correct. I chose a stone giant particularly because, being inherently neutral, he could be a wild card. The players could recruit him or fight him, but it would be their choice and an impactful one.

They decided at first, once they'd gotten the gist of what he was about, to basically leave him alone, and that was probably a good call. They also worked out that while he was completely serious that he would kill them if they tried to go out the front door, there was also a back door that he apparently couldn't see and wasn't aware of.

So, being the mighty heroes they were, they slipped out the back, and again, that was a good call. They managed to scrounge up some sharp bits of broken metal or rusted bars from the cell doors to make crude weapons, and plunged into the depths. They found an old series of vaults that either Kolstaag didn't know about or wasn't interested in, origin and purpose unknown, populated by orcs, whom they avoided, but who were also between them and the exit.

They also caught glimpses of a ghostly figure in the darkness... )

They will confront the wizard in part three!

-The Gneech

Another Super Alphabet

Jul. 16th, 2017 10:18 pm
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[personal profile] deckardcanine
A’s for Apocalypse, brainwashing troops.
B’s for Bizarro, reversal of Supes.
C is for Catwoman, expert at stealing.
D is for Deathstroke, who’s good at self-healing.
E’s for Electro, whose origin’s tragic.
F: Felix Faust, who knows plenty of magic.
G is for Grodd, who’s a psychic gorilla.
H is for Heat Wave, a flame-throwing killah.
I: Iron Monger, all covered in steel.
J is for Joker, who laughs like a heel.
K is for Kraven, who loves a good hunt.
L: Living Monolith, hard to confront.
M’s for Mystique, who can take any form.
N is for Nimrod, who’s far from the norm.
O is for Owl, who can glide through the air.
P: Poison Ivy, with plants in her hair.
Q’s for Queen Bee, who shoots poisonous darts.
R is for Rhino, who breaks walls apart.
S is for Scarecrow, who causes a fright.
T is for Two-Face, who’s only half right.
U is for Ultron, a man-hating droid.
V is for Venom, whom all should avoid.
W: Wendigo, great savage brute.
X is for Xorn, whom you’d better not shoot.
Y’s for Ymir, who’s a giant of frost.
Z is for Zod, who gets deadly when crossed.
Comic book heroes, more often than not,
Call for strong villains to make a good plot.
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The Silver Coast Map, Revisited

So there have been some pretty big changes in my D&D game since the last time I posted about it. I want to bring my chronicle of the game up to date, but there's a lot of ground to cover so it's going to require several posts. So here's part one!

The party did in fact defeat The Yellow Lady, mad priestess of Hastur behind the evil brewing in the Caves of Chaos, only to discover that she had in fact been the missing daughter of Duke Blakewell all along. Oops. >.> A tragic and somewhat downer ending to the scenario, but also completely in line with the kind of crap that happens when Hastur gets involved.

The players all wanted to continue, and after presenting them with the various options I was weighing the group voted for Storm King's Thunder. So I said that with everything at the Keep being so awkward ("Sorry, m'lord, we kinda killed your daughter... but in our defense she tried to kill us first!") the party decided to move on to greener pastures. They heard that Mt. Thunderdelve, over on the Silver Coast, had erupted, and decided to head over there to see what they could do to help, and maybe find some gainful employment on the way.

Unfortunately, here I hit a bit of burnout, and floundered for a time. Far from being something I could easily pick up and run more-or-less off the shelf as Red Hand of Doom was, I discovered that Storm King's Thunder is an immense, sprawling, hot mess of an "adventure." It's not like a traditional module, so much as an enormous sandboxey "Build Your Own Campaign!" kit. Which is cool if that's what you're looking for, but at the time, that was so totally not what I was looking for.

Storm King's Thunder as written covers pretty much all of northern Faerûn, and the Silver Coast wasn't anywhere near that developed. I didn't realize it then, but the monumental task of actually sifting through SKT from front to back and building a world that could accommodate all 256 pages of it while still being a world I liked and wanted to run adventures in, was really biting off more than I was prepared to chew. And because of the way the book is structured, it isn't really something where it's easy to just toss the tracks down in front of the train as it goes.

So, I kinda bobbled a bit at first. I spent several weeks grinding my gears on the problem and not really getting anywhere. But I knew if I let it sit too long, the campaign would pass its expiration date. So I transposed Triboar in the Forgotten Realms to Three Roads, its Silver Coast analog, and ran the giants' assault on the town pretty much as written in the book just to get the game moving again. After a big hairy fight against orcs riding axe-beaks and a lot of what-the-helling at fire giants pulling an enormous adamantine staple out of the ground under the town fountain, the players decided to go visit a local wizard named Kolstaag Albrek to see if he could give them any insights before they chased the giants down– only to have Albrek knock them all out and toss them into a dungeon, the jerk.

Somewhere in here, two things happened... )

These two seeds turned out to be the defining factors of the game. Once I embraced the idea that SKT was a campaign kit and not an off-the-shelf adventure, thirty years of DMing instincts took hold and I was suddenly on fire! But how the party escaped the dungeon and what they did next, will have to wait for the next installment.

-The Gneech

June in Review

Jul. 15th, 2017 05:32 pm
rowyn: (studious)
[personal profile] rowyn
My June update got overrun by July being completely awful. June itself actually wasn't bad, though.

Health & Fitness
I was visiting my parents for 9 days, and didn't get my normal exercise then. I did some walking with my father, though, when it wasn't too hot in the morning and/or I got up early enough. that it wasn't hot yet.

Writing
I wrote some new scenes for Scales and Birthright, but didn't work on any other new fiction. I kept my 4thewords streak going mostly with writing about my life, and mostly things dull enough that I didn't post them to LJ. I didn't keep a word count for anything for June.

Oh, I did write three Poll RPG installments in June. I forgot about those.

The Business of Writing
I finished editing Scales for betareaders and got most of the way through editing Birthright.

I also hired an artist to do the cover for Scales (I will hire her to do the cover for Birthright as well, but one thing at a time.). I am inordinately proud of myself for actually doing the Scary Thing and talking to artists I don't know. Alinsa helped a lot by looking at art for me and sharing the best stuff, and making some preliminary contacts. ♥ It was hard! But I did it, and the artist has since completed amazing preliminary sketches and I can't wait to see the color tests.

Art/Other
I don't think I did any drawing in June.

Gaming
I played Scrabble with my brother and his wife while all three of us were visiting my parents. My brother did not outscore us both combined, which is pretty much as close to victory as one gets against my brother in Scrabble.

Socializing
I went to NC for nine days. I spent the first weekend mostly visiting Kagetsume, Sophrani, and Boingdragon. We watched "Rogue One" in Kage's home theatre, which somehow none of us had seen yet, not even Kage who'd bought it on Blueray. It was as grim as I'd expected, but pretty good. We also went to see "Wonder Woman" in Imax 3D. I haven't seen a movie in 3D since "Avatar", but didn't mind giving it another try. I remain indifferent to 3D. It doesn't particularly bother me, but it doesn't enhance the experience at all, and the glasses are vaguely uncomfortable. I enjoyed "Wonder Woman", although not with the overwhelming love of most people. Maybe I'm just not good at overwhelming love for media any more. I dunno.

I spent Monday through Friday low-key visiting my parents. This mostly consisted of watching a little TV with my father, watching some tennis with my mother,, and playing with my mother's spare laptop in the recliner in her office while she played WoW at her desk. We went out to dinner a couple of times too. My father likes to go out to eat every three days. They stock up on leftovers at the restaurant, and my father will eat those for the next few days until they go out again.

On the last weekend, my brother and his wife C came to visit. This was my first time meeting C (they got married last year with a very small ceremony). She was delightful. My impression of her is no doubt bolstered by the fact that she has read and likes my books, but I'm sure I would love her anyway. ♥ On Sunday, we made strawberry shortcake with Bisquick shortcake and C's hand-whipped whip cream. I can report that this is still delicious. :9 I ate way too much on this trip.

I was worried about Lut while I was gone, and called him several times.. This was before I took him to the ER, but I was already concerned that his health had taken a turn for the worse. He had assured me before I left that he would be fine and I should go and he was not willing to go to a doctor. He seemed to be managing okay without me, although the power went out for 48 hours and that sucked a lot.

As a way of life, "stoic" really has its downsides, y'all.

Happiness
I think I was happy? I can't remember. I had a good vacation. It was so low-key that I felt like I should be getting more editing done and felt vaguely guilty about that, but it was still good.

Other
Card benefit services emailed that they'd settled with the rental car company over the minor accident back in March, and they were just waiting for the rental car company to send a letter acknowledging the matter was closed. Which they will then send to me, I think. Anyway, this is finally almost done so hopefully I can take "poke card benefits and rental car co to talk to each other until this over" off my list of goals in August. But it's not done yet.

The nadir of this experience hit when the rental car company mailed me a letter to complain that I had never responded to any of their attempts to contact me, and I needed to pay them for the damage in the next ten days.

I responded with "I guess you lost all of the emails I sent you about this, and also all of the emails that you sent me in response to my emails. And also the physical letter you sent me in response to one of my emails. HERE ARE COPIES OF EVERYTHING. Let me know if you need anything else that you lost!"

-_-

That was much more polite than I felt about the whole matter.

Goals for coming month
Help Lut get better
Look into buying car
Poke about insurance claim if necessary

If I finish anything else, great. If not, oh well. I have been doing a little editing this month, mostly because re-reading my books to look for typos is one of the few things I have sufficient brain for. I've been spending a lot of time at the hospital watching Trask doze, so I've had some time to do that.

The Halfling Lass From Appletop

Jul. 15th, 2017 07:33 pm
the_gneech: (Default)
[personal profile] the_gneech


Berelandine the Halfling Serving Wench by Dunlaoch on DeviantArt


A popular barracks/meadhall song in Orbis Leonis, sung to the tune of “The Mademoiselle From Armentiers.”



[call]

The halfling lass from Appletop is a tavern maid.

[return]

The halfling lass from Appletop is a tavern maid!


The halfling lass is a tavern maid.

In gold or kisses she gets paid!


[chorus]

Will you have another round, me lord?


[call]

The halfling lass from Appletop is three foot high.

[return]

The halfling lass from Appletop is three foot high!


The halfling lass is three foot high.

She looks your codpiece in the eye!


[chorus]

Will you have another round, me lord?


[call]

The halfling lass from Appletop is a lovely girl.

[return]

The halfling lass from Appletop is a lovely girl!


The halfling lass is a lovely girl.

She’ll take your stallion for a whirl!


[chorus]

Will you have another round, me lord?


[call]

I asked the lass from Appletop to be my bride.

[return]

He asked the lass from Appletop to be his bride!


I asked the lass to be my bride,

and spend a lifetime at my side!


[chorus]

Will you have another round, me lord?


[call]

The halfling lass from Appletop said “Nay, sir, nay.”

[return]

The halfling lass from Appletop said “Nay, sir, nay!”


The halfling lass said “Nay, sir, nay!

Not until your tab you pay!”


[chorus]

Will you have another round, me lord?


Put that in your weed-pipe and smoke it. 😉


-The Gneech

One Does Not Simply Upgrade to Mordor

Jul. 14th, 2017 08:35 am
the_gneech: (Default)
[personal profile] the_gneech
Maedhroc deals with the local spider problem.

So LotRO has a new paid expansion coming out, titled simply Mordor. And I have to decide what, if anything, I'm going to do about it.

Once upon a time, I love love loooooooved LotRO. I wrote stories about Maedhroc Thornhollow, my little hobbitey warden, tromping all over the world.

Then they scrambled wardens and I didn't know how to play him, so I had to re-learn from scratch...

And then they did it again and I gave up on wardens, but champions had become OP so I went back to one of those.

And then MadeOfLions, the Tolkien ubernerd head writer left somewhere in the development of Rohan IIRC.

I choked down Rohan, a vast country made up of the same story over and over and over and over again, mostly on the momentum of happier days. I got stuck on the "battles" system, which threw away everything good about skirmishes and so never got through the battle of Helm's Deep.

You can skip Helm's Deep to a certain extent, so I moved on figuring I'd come back to it... but then I got to northern Gondor, in which there was no story, just infinite endless daily quest grinding...

...and stopped.

Other than logging in every few months to pay the rent on Maedhroc's house, in the forlorn hope that I may one day get back into it, and the occasional lowbie re-running of Ered Luin to remember happier days, I have not played LotRO in something like two, three years.

I miss it. But like so many other things, I miss the LotRO of 2010, not the LotRO of today. And with no income other than what I can scrape up with my writing and art, do I really have any excuse to buy an expansion to a game I don't play?

Now I have to admit, I am impressed LotRO has made it to Mordor. Lots of people didn't think it would happen, especially when subscribers started dwindling somewhere around late Moria/Mirkwood. But it also means that the game is nearing "The End." Even if they do the Scouring of the Shire, there simply comes a time when there is no more Lord of the Rings for them to do online. What then?

But I also find it interesting that where I lost interest in LotRO is also where I tend to lose interest in the books. "The world of men" is the LEAST. INTERESTING. THING. about Middle-earth! I'm all about elves first, hobbits second, dwarves a distant third, and fuck humans. The more the fantastic elements fade away and it just becomes a series of battles, the less I care. Fellowship of the Ring has barrow-wights and ringwraiths and balrogs and and and... Gondor does have an army of the dead, so that's neat. But mostly it has much fighting and killing of the orcs by the knights in general.

Anyway, I dunno. Like I say, I used to love LotRO and I wish I still did. But the idea of forcing myself to learn the game again and having to grind my way through Gondor just to get to Moria...? Oh, honey, I dunno...

-The Gneech

Mortgage follies

Jul. 13th, 2017 05:53 pm
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[personal profile] casey382
I finally got all the documents to my banker for the mortgage process. It's amazing how some documents I trip over in my daily life became scarce when I tried to gather it all together.
The most amusing thing was to get documentation from the Railroad Retirement Board stating that yep, I'm getting a pension.
As I waded through their convoluted voicemail menu, I finally found where I should be, and pressed option 4. This got me a message that my call was important to them, and I'm currently #4 in line. I then was subjected to their worn out music on hold. If you listened real carefully, you could tell it was once a jazzy electric piano piece from the 70s. If you didn't listen carefully, it was; SCREECH, SCREECH, HISS SCREECH SCREECH SCREECH HISS. Did I mention it was also loud? They spared every expense.

Lut Health Update: A Little Better

Jul. 13th, 2017 09:08 am
rowyn: (worried)
[personal profile] rowyn
I went through Lut's email and found some email addresses from 2009 for family members. I tried emailing, and reached one of his brothers and one of his sisters. They contacted the rest of his family for me, so his family knows now. Three of his siblings are going to come on Friday to see him.

He's looking better this morning. Still delusional, but he's calm, articulate, and willing to accept assistance. He's breathing better and when he dozes off it looks more like actual sleep. I don't know if this will be a sustained upwards trend, but I'm hopeful.

He started chemotherapy on Tuesday. He gets one treatment per week for two weeks, then one week off, then repeat. In 6-9 weeks we'll know if it's working. The chemotherapy includes a steroid, and he's on an antiviral because the chemotherapy weakens his immune system. He's also getting Halidol for his neurological issues. And an antibiotic because he was running a fever for a little while.

For my hospital-related transportation problem: I am thinking about buying a new car, rather than a used one. I can afford it: I only live like a poor person, I am not actually poor. I don't have enough ready cash to buy one, annoyingly. I may look into getting a loan against my 401(k), to avoid paying third-party interest or early withdrawal penalties. I don't know if this will qualify or not.

Recommendations on cars are welcome. Pretty much all I want is a good cost-per-mile figure and cheap to insure. I do not need or want any fancy extras, or a sporty car or an SUV or anything. I am perfectly happy with small, reliable and efficient. -_-

Book Review: Wyrd Sisters

Jul. 12th, 2017 10:23 pm
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[personal profile] deckardcanine
I last said I was reading Hyperion, but after about 180 pages, I found it too dreary to continue without a break. Maybe I'll never finish it. Regardless, I picked up what promised to be the funniest book on my shelf that I hadn't read yet.

Given how much I enjoyed two Discworld novels (I'd read three, but the first was merely OK), you'd think I wouldn't wait nearly four years to pick up another. Granted, Terry Pratchett's collaboration on Good Omens may have tided me over.

Cut for length )

Feeling up for another tome, I'm trying The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. So far, it hasn't shown any fantasy premises, only fictitious geography.

Lut Health Update: Diagnosis

Jul. 11th, 2017 10:32 am
rowyn: (worried)
[personal profile] rowyn
Thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes. ♥

Lut's biopsy results came back yesterday and confirmed multiple myeloma. His oncologist started him on an antiviral yesterday, and today he stars chemotherapy and a steroid. The oncologist thinks that this has a good chance (70%+) of improving his situation, including his mental state.

His mental state has crumbled almost completely. He still knows who he is, and who I am, and that's about it. He's paranoid and delusional, and generally angry at everyone around him for holding him captive while we try to get him healthy enough to return to reality. x_x

The oncologist said it would be 6-9 weeks before we know if the chemotherapy is working. His nurse yesterday thought the steroids might have a beneficial effect on his mental state in the short term, like the next few days.

I hope so, because he's only gotten worse so far.

I looked through his gmail and found email addresses for three of his siblings, from 2009. I tried emailing them this morning to let them know. One of the addresses bounced. I don't know if the others are still active or not.

I have a rental car for a month. I think I should probably buy a car. I am not ready to face doing that yet, and I kind of need to.

In theory, he qualifies for Medicaid and disability, especially since we're not married. Since we're not married, I can't sign documents for him. He is neither lucid enough nor tractable enough to sign documents himself. I haven't figured out how I am supposed to get around this yet. I will talk to the hospital staff today and see if they know. The application form wants a bunch of medical specifics that I don't have anyway.
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