Capturing a person in writing is as much a problem of format as philosophy

My stand-in for layout.

How do you define a human being: their traits, their personality what they want, what they need? How do you define them to the point where you might reasonably guess what they do next?

It gets worse: How do you codify such a definition in writing, so that people can read and understand it quickly?

People who are not you?

This has tormented writers for centuries and gamers for decades, and now it torments me. But first we have some announcements:

From our last appearance.

The UnObtanium Bazaar will appear at the London Bridge Renaissance Faire this very weekend.

That’s in Lake Havasu City, right on the river between I-10 and I-40.  I expect to have new (and signed) copies of both Beanstalk and Beyond and Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules for sale along with our bewildering assortment of other treasures out of time.

The Leprecon gaming went well, for what it was. The trick to doing these sort of things on Zoom is to remember you can other programs open at the same time, like Owlbear Rodeo, and by switching back and forth you can see player faces, or the game map, as you need.

I also learned, because somebody shared their screen, that it is possible to have 40+ tabs open in your browser. It’s not efficient, and we’ll make sport of it, but it is possible.

And I am never serving as head of anything for the local cons again. I’ll participate, moderate, or vend, but if I have to sit through a meeting, don’t even ask me.

Before I go off the deep end about character sheets, let me update you on my previous obsession in this space. I did indeed have to move the hot tub outside. It took 1200# pounds of additional sand and a length of wire rope. I plan to soak in it before the night’s end.

Also, I have a fillable PDF version of the Go Action Fun Time Cast treatment.

This took me a week.  Some of this delay was the philosophical problem of distilling a human being into written form. In all honesty, though, I’ve had a system for that for some time. The problem is that nobody else will understand it.

For a role-playing character, I have to take that base information about a person, layer over it with game stats, and then render it in some way that people who are not me can understand it.

Even made-up people are complicated

I learned long ago that forms that make perfect sense to me baffle anyone else. Even so, at some point you have to stop second guessing yourself and do it.

Then you discover that Word is terrible for this application.  I had to do most of it as text boxes – because they will stay where I put them – sort of.  Regular text re-distributes itself every time you hit the space bar.

I played with Canva, the layout program I used to format my cover. This worked much better in terms of putting boxes and shapes where I wanted them. But it doesn’t do tables, and I need tables.

But it exports to PDF, as does Word, and you can mostly copy and paste tables around in Acrobat Distiller (which I pay for monthly), as long as you don’t want to change them.

And the more I gazed upon my share-ware graphics from Canva, the more I hated them. So I ditched that whole approach.

Inkscape actually turned out the better tool for graphics, and also imports/exports into PDF.  I had abandoned it as my means of lettering webcomics. (This was a thing).  But once you update it to this decade it works well for graphics. That would have been my answer, except for fillable forms.

Inkscape graphics (as I used them) distorted the tables by the time they were sent back to PDF and thereby gummed up the Prepare Form function of Distiller. When you have as many text boxes as I do (Skills, Stuff and History of Play are all 5×12+ tables) it is out of the question to do all of them manually.

And we ended up back in Word…

Friends, I ended up back in Word with text boxes everywhere because Word does tables with reasonable rigor, and exports to PDF with a minimum of surprises.  Word Art isn’t anywhere near as cool as what can be done in Inkscape, but this is a character sheet. A little décor catches the eye, but too much makes the thing hard to read.

Prepare Form got 80% of my empty boxes, and you can get a box to add or average other boxes if you want to take the time. It’s not Excel. It will not do complicated Excel things like, say, subtraction, but I can wring some convenience out of it.

Distiller won’t, for some reason import graphics, even though it has tools to do that right on the bar. What it really does is make the buffering circle spin long enough for you to refresh your drink before announcing it cannot import this file type. What file type? Any of them. So I have to do that in Word before I import it.

How players  – who would presumably only have the PDF, will do that I cannot as yet say.

But if you can live with that limitation, the Go Action Fun Time Cast Treatment PDF is ready.

I also have a regular, blank PDF you could print out and fill in by hand if you are an old school gamer, but those guys are all playing D&D clones.

I can’t sell these things. Sites like Drive-thru RPG flatten PDF’s with a broad hammer, and none of that formatting would survive. But you can have one for the low price of getting pasted into my email list.

I was trying for a two page document. It ended up being seven.

Now we know.

Gaming at Leprecon 47

Because I can’t wait for them to fix the actual website, here are the need-to-know facts about gaming at Leprecon this comig weekend.

Gaming at Leprecon 47

Welcome seekers of adventure. We feature four concurrent role-playing games, each very different, for your enjoyment.

All games are one-shots, meaning we intend to start and finish this very session. 

All games will have pre-generated characters provided, so we can jump right in.

Our virtual game room opens at 4:15 pm on Sunday, March 21st. All are welcome to join one of several RPG’s conducted over our Zoom channel.

To join you must:

  • Become a member of the convention (free!) Start here!
  • Choose a game Listed below.
  • Email the GM from the email address you want to use to send and receive PDF documents.
  • Pre-generated characters and other game documents come as PDF’s. [Adobe Acrobat]
  • Choose your character (first chosen – first got).
  • Join the Zoom meeting at 4:15 pm on Sunday.

All of our games are intended for general audiences and geared towards novice players.

Session A – How the West was Shot to Hell

An Episode of Go Action Fun Time

Tony Padegimas

TPadegimas@LepreCon.org

A road race through the post-apocalyptic wasteland that was once the western US, but is now ravaged by beserk weather, vicious bandits, killer robots, soulless zombies and the horrifying consequences of aliens who “meant well”. 

Go Action Fun Time is a role-playing game recreating action/adventure science-fantasy cartoon shows.

Teen-age superheroes from across time and space have been thrown together as a team (in theory) to compete in a reality game show produced by chaotic and perhaps insane gods. These heroes now travel randomly through time, pursuing strange and crazy challenges given to them by the Producers, and perhaps righting wrongs along the way.

The adventure is designed to be run start-to-finish in 3-4 hours. Pre-made characters are available.

Every participant will receive a free PDF copy of the Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules.

Session B –  Leprechauns Stole My Baby

Jason Youngdale

JasonaYoungdale@gmail.com

You are a kobold just trying to get by in the world. You have a great family and sweet loot gathered up over the years. There is always the threat of pesky adventurers raiding the dungeon you live in, but now there is a new threat,  Leprechauns!

Those punks stole some of your loot and your Kobold baby! Kobolds are the ones supposed to be stealing babies! It is time to gather your mediocre kobold friends and attack! Prizes awarded to the team if they survive.

Pre-generated characters provided.  No RPG experience necessary.

System Used: Kobolds Ate My Baby! (latest edition)

Number of Players: 3-5

Session C – Lochy’s Charms

Matt Ralston

dndralston@gmail.com

Good King Lochlainn O’Shenanigans has had a terrible turn of luck, his collection of charms has been stolen. Word has spread that the king is looking for brave adventurers to retrieve his most prized possessions. Any one who succeeds will be rewarded with gold, fame, and most importantly one favor from the king. The journey is sure to be wrought with dastardly traps, and perilous beasts. If you think you have the fortitude to take on such a challenge the king will be holding a ceremony on the 21st day of March. Come and receive a blessing of good luck before you set out to find Lochy’s Charms.

Pre-gen characters (halfling adventurers) provided. 

Number of Players: 3-6

System Used: Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Session D – Terrorform – Survive the Dark

Russ Jordan II

RussellJordanII@ArgonautsIncorporated.Onmicrosoft.com

Welcome to the future!

Corporations have replaced governments.

The solar system (SolSys1) has been invaded

twice, leaving Earth’s environment

hazardous and livable space a luxury.

People are clustered throughout the system

in domes, orbiting stations, and on

vessels. Adventurers and investors alike

are looking for a world to terraform.

Somewhere between the dangers in the

dark, there is paydirt to be had.

This LepreCon,

survive the dark….

4-7 players. Pre-generated characters provided.

System: Terrorform RPG

Presently we are working on our resource book short version for a game review, so we do not have any game rules to hand out.

What the players need to play will be on their basic character sheets. The initial part of the Session I will provide a quick Q&A about the world, play tips, rules, and expected Zoom etiquette for the play session.

Argonauts Incorporated

www.ArgonautsIncorporated.com

A scattering of opportunities

We’ll go by looming deadline:

I am the gaming coordinator for Leprecon 47 – a virtual convention happening March 20-21. My end of it is at the end, starting 5pm on March 21.

To whit:

I am still seeking game-masters to run one-shots over Zoom with players who would not reliably have copies of said game in hand. This creates some challenges I’ll cover later. Right now, if you want to be one of these brave masters, contact me at my convention address: tpadegimas@leprecon.org

If you just want to play:

Player Recruitment Blurb:

Our virtual game room opens at 5pm on Sunday, March 21st. All are welcome to join one of several RPG’s conducted over our Zoom channel.

To join you must:

  • Become a member of the convention (free!) [link]
  • Choose a game. [link]
  • Email the GM from the email address you want to use to send and receive PDF documents. 
    • Pre-generated characters and other game documents come as PDF’s. [acrobat link]
  • Choose your character (first chosen – first got).
  • Join the Zoom meeting at 5pm on Sunday. 

All of our games are intended for general audiences and geared towards novice players. 

This is not approved verbage (the place-holders for links give that away). But knowing how this works, I am three days away from the full stop of asking permission and just doing what needs to be done.

As the blurb indicates, the ony way to manage this across all common platforms is to all sign up on RollD20 exchange emails and traffic in PDF files.

It’s 2021. Figure out PDF files.

This one is mine!

I am already down to six Executive Producer comp copies of Go Action Fun Time (See last post). But I will still get them to you on those same terms. Hand-delivered in the Phoenix Metro area – as long as you can wait until I’m in the neighborhood. (I drive 100 miles a day for my day job. This will happen.)

Pushing it at real cons has slowly paid off it seems.

Congruently, in investigating strategies for running RPG’s over Zoom (the format imposed upon me), I came across RollD20 – which may make me the last player to find it. It is now a firm part of the marketing-strategy-in-my-head that GAFT gets incorporated into this format and any other similar formats we find reasonable. This effort will likely be the subject of future updates.

Unobtanium Bazaar is still doing all those things we announced last post. (no link -scroll down).

Ford Canyon Trail

I finally updated Are We Lost Yet with a hike I took over the weekend, and remain sore from.

I learned that I have, comfortably, an eight mile hiking range through mountainous terrain. The route I took covered ten miles. So, even though I limped to the car, I have no regrets.

It took 10-12 man-hours to produce that blog article, from trailhead to the publish button, and not counting drive time.

I was hoping to announce an equal time-sinking article on integrating the Star Trek Universe with Traveller – but social obligations ate those hours, and I am past bedtime as I write this.

Even so, WORD COUNT is high:

Another chapter for the next 64 novel. 1800 words.

Writer’s Group: 500 words.

Hiking research – half-day = 1000 words.

Hike research and draft document = 750 words

Ford Canyon Blog Post = 1000 words plus photos and format = 500 words

GAFT GM Recruitment: = 500 words.

This blog = 1000 words.

TOTAL= 6500

{My goal is 5000}.

I don’t count Leprecon things.

Whiskey and bed.

Now we know.

Trying to pick out life events from the blur

When I first found myself living alone, I wanted most of all not to end up with a boring routine of a lifestyle.

Careful what you wish for.

There’s been some news, and I’m trying to remember it all. Let’s see… Oh yeah.

A couple of years ago, I promised Woody that if he ended ever actually chairing a Leprecon again, I would run gaming for him. I had forgotten about that promise, but he did not. So here we go.

I am the gaming chair for Leprecon 47 – a virtual convention taking place in our imagination on the internet March 19-21, 2021.

It has been decreed, without my advice or consent, that no events of this con shall conflict, so rather than filling a small meeting room with loud gamers from mid-morning until the shift change in security throws us out sometime past midnight, I have only two sessions: late afternoon Saturday and Sunday.

I am relatively certain I can run concurrent games in that window, but as I write this, I think maybe I should ask.

Anyway, if you can run a game (RPG or other) on Discord or Zoom (the con has a Zoom account – which is basically our only expense), and desire to play it with strangers, then I have an opportunity for you.  Contact me for more information.

Yes, I will be running Go Action Fun Time (even if I am the whole game room). I will run Lasers in the Jungle (which I only run at cons) (because its adapted from a module published for a completely different game) and will run the world premiere of Dungeon of Darkest Doom by Jason Youngdale.

The first follower separates a leader from a lone nut.

Hopefully, I will not be the whole of programming.

What else? Oh – Hidden Lake went well.

Is this really period? Whatever. We’re time travelers.

The mask discipline in Buckeye is comparable to Kingman, but we are all outdoors, so it’s hard to panic. Worry a little about the unmasked boomers close-talking, but not panic. I’m wearing my mask, after all. And I’ve already had it, and even if I’m re-infected, it was a three-day annoyance to me. I am fairly certain that there is a genetic profile that is only annoyed by the virus, and a genetic profile that falls over dead within days, and that I possess the former. But you, Boomer, are free to take whatever risk you feel comfortable with.

Donald Trump set his presidency on fire to ensure that freedom. (I joke here. It would be great if his reasons were anything so noble- if misguided.)

I reflect, though, that Boomers, terrified of Muslim terrorists, are the reason that the TSA has a collection of my corkscrews. OK.

Cheryl in her natural habitat.

Back to UnObtanium, I had been warned that the state sales tax would be a recurring nightmare for me, but it turns out that in COVID times, Arizona discovered the power of technology. Rather than mail my form monthly, we can file on-line. And, because we made less than $500 in 2019 (when we did not exist) we can file annually.  So, I paid my $50 or so for the Kingman event last year, online, in about 20 minutes.

A year from now, I am hoping it takes a few hours to do the same thing – and that we go over the threshold where we have to file at least quarterly.  That’s right – it is a goal to owe more tax more often, because that is a marker of success.

I am part of a civilization and I hope and work for its success. I guess that makes me a liberal.

I am old enough to remember when that would have made me conservative.

That was not what I wanted to tell you about.

Oh – Ruby Vroom (my 2015 Subaru Forester) has passed 100k miles. So, that was sudden. We’ve talked about this elsewhere.

What else? Oh – I am starting to get edits back on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice. (The sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) It’s mostly been typos. So that’s good?

In contrast, perfect has, indeed, become the enemy of done with the printed version of Go Action Fun Time. I’m comfortable with the content. I am still fussing over the (print) layout.

In particular, I am editing the illustrations to eliminate the scan errors and pencil smudges that make them look even less professional that the theme we already have.

Dopple left hanging – but waay better than the lineart.

There was one more damn thing…

AH!

Last week marked my 54th orbit around the sun. I treated myself to some Sushi, a bottle of favored whiskey, and later may order some underwear online, because I am 54.

And I need my sleep.

Photo by C Zierman

WORD COUNT:

A chapter of the second book of the 64: 1500 words.

Writer’s group: 500

Editing photos for GAFT: 2000 (I did this all day).

This blog: 1000

The original lineart

That makes 5000 – though I am cheating bit. I wrote this blog Monday (before the deadline, but did not post it (or add links and graphics) until after deadline.  But I’m lowballing the illustration count.

I say I earn whiskey – birthday whiskey.

Now you know.

Promises made to yourself are inherently negotiable.

An announcement first. Stand back a bit.

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Arizona Ren Faire at Hidden Lakes in Buckeye January 15-17.

Well, we are 90% on this, anyway. We’ll know more, and yell about it here, next week.

I have never been big on judging years as good or bad. It depends entirely on what criteria. That said, if you are a US resident and not an established member of the investor class, this has been a troublesome past 9 months and counting. If you are an investor, it has merely been annoying, and perhaps overly dramatic.  

I had, until very recently, avoided most of the painful impacts from Covid. My day job has been largely unaffected (we have, in fact, been slammed), and, despite being out and about on “essential” work, I had avoided infection.

Until three days before Christmas. So, bah humbug. But even that consisted of what felt like a head cold, and passed just as quickly. I am now out of quarantine, at least by county standards, and back to work.

https://www.maricopa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/58863/Home-Isolation-Guidance?bidId=

The guidelines feel like they had heavy input from the chamber of commerce, but they are the standard my work goes by, so off I go.

Now that we’re caught up on all that:

A little more than a year ago, I vowed that 2019 would be the last Christmas for which I did not have a book out. For various reasons, not all of which were avoidable, I missed that deadline.

By late November it was clear I was not going to be able to produce The Secret History of Empress Em (the final title of One of 64) by year’s end. The budget for cover art evaporated into an unexpected expense, and I’m kinda holding out for not doing my own cover art.

As late as December, an improved version of Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules seemed possible by Christmas. But, UnObtanium and surrounding hoo-hah (see last few posts) had set me behind, and then perfect became the enemy of done. Mostly the latter – mostly on my end.

I made the decision that I would forgive myself for breaking my promise to myself if the end result was a better product by mid-January. It was not like I was going to see any Christmas retail bump anyway.

That said, the new Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules Deluxe Edition will be in the transom by the end of the week, and available probably by my birthday later this month.

Deluxe means a new cover, slightly fewer typos and an index. But also some substantial editing of the rules for clarity and consistency.

This should be a downloadable PDF on Drive-Thru RPG by the end of the week. I also plan to have Lulu print me about 25 copies for physical sale. Then I will investigate other outlets.

  • It had been long enough that I had to re-learn formatting PDF’s.
  •  Printable PDF’s need the cover included, but for-print PDF’s want the cover as a separate thing altogether. This proved an enormous pain-in-the-ass as neither Acrobat or Word make it easy to remove the first two pages without destroying the page number scheme I had coddled it into.
  • Making an index in Word somehow changes the page numbering, so do that before updating page references in the manuscript.
  • Using an outline in Word makes using the Thumbnails in Acrobat more straight-forward and makes HTML tags irrelevant. The TOC Thumbnail as a sidebar is actually easier to use overall.
  • The absolute last bit of editing, after the TOC, after the index, is find all the places you referred a reader toa page number in the document and insert those page numbers. This is the only way you will ever be accurate about that.

If you want to game-master Executive Produce Go Action Fun Time, contact me, and I will hook you up for basically free. Otherwise, the PDF’s go for $8.99 and the hard copies are going for $20.

Meanwhile, I am out of my Covid cave and ready to face another orbit around the sun. Cheers.

This is not a post-mortem of gloating.

We must not gloat. 

Gloating is the habit of losers beating the odds. You score a touch-down, you’re allowed a fist pump or the like, but then toss the ball to the ref like you were supposed to make a touchdown. 

You don’t need to keep the ball. There will be more. Because you did the work. You figured it out. You learned from your mistakes and adjusted. Competence wins out over time, all the time. 

Luck is consistently 50/50, not just by definition, but mathematically. Your fate is as much a series of coin-flips as anything else. Smiley-face/frowny face = 50/50. 

It is said that a person needs three lucky breaks in a row to improve their status. Not impossible, but generally unlikely. There’s really nothing you can do to change the odds on the coin flips. Luck is famously indifferent to effort or even competence. The coin spins how it spins. 

But let me propose, based upon my own experience, and observations of others, that prepared and competent people can move ahead in two lucky breaks, which is far more plausible. 

Which brings us to the recent Mojave County Renaissance Faire. [https://www.mohaverenfaire.com]

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

{If you were hoping I was heading towards politics – sorry. Not this post.}

The event, which actually happened  November 13-15, despite the rising tide of COVID even in windswept Kingman, drew about 3000 visitors over three days (according to the Kingman Daily Miner https://kdminer.com/news/2020/nov/17/kingman-renaissance-faire/)

Our home away fromreality.

Our booth did well. Even though we were the farthest in, we were also right by the jousting exit, which balanced our fortunes. After expenses, we did not make enough to quit our jobs, but we made enough to want to do it again. 

Catch the coin, lift your hand: smiley face. 

Cheryl (right) and friend in character.

Much of what we learned is specific to our booth logistics, and not of general interest, but these lessons might be:

  • Absolutely worth it to take a day and set up the booth and take it down in controlled conditions. (see last post).
    • So you have time to go to the store and get the things you now know you actually need.
    • And have some idea of how it’s going to take to set up and tear down. 
    • The more complete the better. The elements we did not have available, or skipped, during the dry tech (to use the theater term) were the elements we struggled most with in the field. 
  • If you are hoping it won’t blow out of the trailer on the freeway, it will totally blow out of the trailer on the freeway. Don’t load the trailer with hope. 
  • Price tags mean you can leave the booth with someone while you go pee. 
  • The Square reader paid for itself in an hour. We believe we had a 20% bump in sales because we could take credit cards (or magic, as we called it in character, “Will that be coin or magic?”)
  • Relatedly, it was totally worth it to have a couple hundred in small bills on hand. We made several sales based upon our ability to break a 50. 
The sun sets on the clearance rack.

Yeah, it was our first booth as primary vendors. (I have sat in such things for my publisher, but all I had to do was show up), but most people were surprised to learn that. 

We are also both career production professionals who have been on the organizing side of fairs and conventions. We were supposed to score a touchdown. And we did. 

Also worth noting: I sold more books (Beanstalk and Beyond) at this fair than I have at any publisher sponsored book event. 

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/
An actual book you can buy!

Funny we should mention that.

I have signed the contract for the sequel (Taliesin’s Last Apprentice) and hope it will be out this summer. 

So next November, you can come up to Kingman and buy both books from me. Signed of course, at the fair price of $15/each. Cash or magic. 

[Tosses ball back to ref. Goes to the sideline to drink whisky.]

Procrastination produces groundless optimism

I am supposed to be editing One of 64. That requires some big decisions that I am putting off until I feel like it I have more certainty.

Meanwhile, autism + optimism have led to beginning Big New Stupid Projects:

At Curious Continuity (yes – it still lives) I detail the Multi-Fantastiverse:

traveller

I have, partly through my own efforts, and partly from the efforts of friends who have lost the means or will to store such things, acquired shelves full of various RPG supplements. Many times I have stared at this wall of dead trees and for the most part abandoned projects and wondered if all of this could be combined into a single universe.

blender_render-1280x720-1

Not my work. Not yet. Not by  a long way…

I have also re-engaged with Blender– with has a new – shiny update.

[Longtime readers will remember we have started up this trail before...]

The Tutorial Site – because it really is hard.

[Relatedly, I have just learned their is an Emily Padegimas who puts blender recipes up on Pinterest, and that will distort search value results.] {Pinterest links are only for Pinterest users, and against this blog’s policy.}

WORD COUNT:

I have proof edited 10k of what is now called The Secret History of Empress M. That should  be 5k right there.

I have decided that the transit time through wormholes is essentially instantaneously – but they add a several hour safety buffer. Now I am changing a bunch of references.

Among many other things.

Plus I wrote 1500 words about deep nerd Traveller settings, plus the 500 word bonus for posting.

Plus my writer’s group is a going concern on Zoom. So 500 for that.

Now we know.

Be well.

 

 

Explaining Rules is Hard

First off, let me get to this before upcoming events make it all quaintly irrelevant:

I plan to vote for Elizabeth Warren in the upcoming AZ Prez Preference whatever (which is not the regular state primary). I am a wonk, and she is the wonkiest of the wonky-wonks, and I am going with my people here. How often does a genuine wonk make it this far?

I would not, however, bet money on her.

My Approved Portraits

“I’d explain it to you – but you’d die.”

Bernie Sanders got 50%+ of the Latino vote in Nevada. If he duplicates that in Texas or California, he’s the nominee. Because math.

And for the partisans hyperventilating about the stigma of socialism, let me be clear: anyone who doesn’t understand that Democratic Socialism isn’t Communism is voting for the other side anyway.  Trump is Lord of the Ignorant, and you aren’t going to get those votes away from him.

It’s hard to sell new ideas – even to smart people, but they are your only plausible market.

Marginally related, I have made a couple of tweaks to the core Go Action Fun Time Rules. That’s going to be the rest of the post, so if you don’t care, thanks for getting down this far.

Go Action Fun Time : “We Are All Sam…”

Saturday – Feb 29, 2020 – my house. 6pm. Because leap day is for time travel. 

AllTheSams.jpg

GenCorp Base 29 is under siege, and the VP in charge of the base doesn’t care. And the inhabitants … well, they’re only clones. Clones aren’t really people, are they?
Are they?
They are, but the Problem is that they are small parts of something much more frightening.

Games will take place in my west-central Phoenix residence unless we find someplace better. It is a house. There will be cats. I will pay for pizza. You are on your own for beverages – or if you somehow do not like pizza.

For this episode only I may grill meat earlier that afternoon, and all would be welcome to it, for I will grill a lot. You would still be on your own for beverages.

There will likely be fire and libations afterwards for all interested.

The event on MeetUp.   The event on Facebook. 

I have simplified the Plot Point development formula, particularly as it takes place after initial character creation.

  • Gone is the formula. The new formula is just new value times the multiplier. The multiplier depends on what sort of ability you are increasing.
  • You can only increase any ability by one between any two episodes. You can increase multiple abilities by one, but you can’t go as far as +2. I could make a logical case for this, but slowing it down just feels better.
  • When you initially create the character, it’s still the multiplier/point. You can just buy them up in any order and as far as you want to pay. The previous value of the ability does not affect its cost.

Abilities reduce Difficulty in addition to adding to the roll – at least for uncontested tasks. Each +1 reduces the Difficulty by one dice (and inverse for negative values).

See? That’s a pretty straightforward concept that proved hard to write with any grace.

Maybe that’s why I admire warren. She’s pretty good at just that.

But she’s rolling against a lot of dice.

WORD COUNT:

The actual last chapter of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice – 2nd draft (transcribed into the Word). = 2000 words.

Editing Go Action Fun Time for the above rule changes, two column format, and moving Powers to the front of character creation = 2000 words

Writer’s group = 500 words

If I had written this yesterday, I would have been over quota – but I’m under by 500 words.

 

This version of Warren would be up by ten points – just saying.

Now we know.

Debriefing from Kingman

Despite the best efforts of the universe, I not only made it to K.A.B.A.M, but I made it there on time. (My day job had sent me on a side-quest that I accepted without realizing that one of my presentations was on the Friday).

new-header_1

For those of you who missed my obscure notice several posts ago, I had two presentations (with power points and everything). One was on the realities of the Slush Pile, and the other was on world-building.

Writer at work

Not actually used in the Power Point

Slush Pile

[From my summary:]

Of the 1000 manuscripts added to the Slush Pile this month:

500 are unreadable.

250 are unpublishable in any form.

150 could be publishable with serious work that should have been done before submission.

90 are unoriginal or inappropriate for this market (and likely need more work anyway).

5 are likely good books, but not for this house.

3 could be good books for this house, but the marketing director won’t see an angle within 15 seconds, so why drag out the meeting?

2 are books we should buy, but there’s only budget for

1 book that we actually buy.

So if you write a good book, and do your submission research, you are competing with 10 manuscripts instead of 1000.

image-20150901-25717-1y3igv

World Building:

[Again from my summary:]

THE BEST WAY TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL THE DETAILS OF YOUR MADE-UP WORLD IS TO WRITE THEM DOWN – SOMEHOW.

THIS IS CALLED WORLD-BUILDING.

IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME.

That looks less shouty in the Power Point.

My presentation distilled work I had had already presented across several blog entries:

Magic Systems

The Three Questions about the future:

 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the update to Are We Lost Yet? about my campsite: Camping Over Kingman: Hualapai Mountain Campgrounds.

HMR Hammock 2.JPG

I got better cell reception here than in downtown Kingman.

 

Now we know.

Catching up with some quick lessons

I took a vacation, followed by back-to-back conventions in and around an extended visitation from Earl, and now that is all over, and I have my life back, and some time to reflect.

For those that know and/or care about Earl Hedges, he has left for Rochester NY on adventures, and will not have reliable internet for some time. That is what I know.

Now, some brief lessons learned in more or less chronological order:

My Vacation

Lo Lo Mai Springs Resort is what any KOA wants to be: over-priced and still worth it. I paid $40 a night for a tent site (which is twice what I might have paid at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a few miles down the road) and I did not feel cheated at all.

First of all, we had the place nearly to ourselves until Friday.

Second, our tent site was right on Oak Creek. (Wading around in rivers works leg muscles you did not know you had. )

camp at LLM

Third, they all the KOA-like amenities such as showers, and a store etc. The store is cash only – a handy fact to know in advance.

Fourth, the neighboring property has a group of Alpaca’s, to which Cheryl is partial.

cz w alpaca

Cheryl and friend.

Yes – it was quite warm, hence our extensive experience with wading around in Oak Creek.

And yes – we were able to hike the West Fork of Oak creek without disaster.

occ by cz 1

Photo by C Zierman

 

I found I had to choose between quality time with my girlfriend, or documenting antics for Are We Lost Yet? I no longer have the bonuses to do both (if I ever did). AWLY? has not been updated in some time. I regret nothing.

There is probably still a market for a Arizona winery book. Meanwhile, we have these resources:

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Screenshot_2019-09-08 VVWC_Map2018(3) - Map-inside-brochure-wineries-8-18 pdf

CoKoCon

This is still CopperCon in size and spirit (and personnel) .

I played some Go Action Fun Time and moderated some panels.

Spoon theory, I now know after moderating a panel on it, is a metaphor for rationing personal resources while managing a disability. I did not have much to add, as whatever my disaqbilities, energy is not something I have ever had to ration.

RPG’s and writing: “You have to accept your godhood.” – Beth Cato

Do You Need an Editor? Yes.

“Write with abandon. Edit with extreme prejudice.” T.L. Smith

Five Rules of Writing (amended)

  1. Show – Don’t Tell
  2. Avoid Cliche’s
  3. Keep your ass in the chair
  4. Use adverbs sparingly.
  5. Just get there.

For rule 5  “there” is the story. Start where things start happening, and get to the end expeditiously.

Good world-building insulates you from characters (and player characters) going off the map. BUT BUT BUT the reader only needs to know enough about the world to follow the story. Just get there.

Things that appeared in my inbox:

Remedial crash course in website design: How Not To Suck at Design

Emmy Award-winning showrunner of The Office, Brent Forrester, shares his rules of writing comedy.

And finally some oddly edited but nerdily fascinated backstage action from the Drottningholms Slottsteater.

Drottningholms Slottsteater backstage 5 min from Drottningholms Slottsteater on Vimeo.

 

Now we know.