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.

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.

The Things You Learn Time Traveling

First off, in warning, both pizza and commercial quality whiskey are relatively new things. They can only be found in recognizable form from the late 1800’s onward.

I accidentally set myself up for some difficult dives in Go Action Fun Time. There are three adventures where the cast travels down the Silk road, with merchandise bought in China, hoping to sell it for a profit in – well I wrote Byzantium, but that’s not actually on the Silk Road. Least of my problems.

Currency. Not so much for a specific episode – I can look up, to a point, the currency of China circa 250 ce (where the journey starts). But when I’m writing rules for commerce, i need some exchange medium that will translate across different times and economies.

This is a good quick primer.

In the existing rules,I defaulted to a prevailing day’s wages, but that would take too much research for the average Executive Producer (the game-master in GAFT). Plus, compensatory wages are also a relatively new thing. But I may be able to come up with a table of shells= animals= salt = silver = gold that will take us into recorded history.

It takes about 60 days to cross the Taklamakan Desert on foot via camel caravan. I mention that because it was a hard fact to come by, and basically had to be deduced. 6-4-1170x658-1

The sixty days assumes taking either the north or south route arond the edges of the desert. No one goes straight across. Taklamaka supposedly means Desert of No Return. It is one of the driest and one of the coldest deserts in the world. Some years the only precipitation is a brief dusting of snow. There are zero water sources in the deep interior. It is a sea of sand.

The Silk Road takes up three episodes, and I plan to eventually publish them.

 

e-deck-watermark

Yes, That Lusitania, in contrast, is likely to remain a convention only episode. This is mostly due to my reliance upon the Lusitania Resource site. Any published document I produce would have to re-write and re-present the historical accounts, and re-render their maps, and that’s all way beyond fair use. So I just open up a laptop at the convention game room.

It doesn’t always load – so there’s that.

Also, as excellent as that map is, it does not have the level of detail you would need for a tactical encounter. There must be, logically, ladders of some sort from F deck tot he boiler rooms, but they are not indicated on the floor-plans.

The deck plans are from design blue-prints. They are not as-builts.

Also, Lusitania – which starts hours before the ship sinks, involves known, historical people with real living relatives, and that would require a more sensitive treatment of the subject than GAFT time typically achieves. The narrative voice of GAFT can get flippant.

My real problems are not research.

My problem with the existing product is that I am not yet confident that someone could make a character, must less run an adventure, without me being in the room to interpret what I wrote.  As much as I want to Just Do It, we are probably 30% through the playtest/revision process, rather than the 80% I once assumed.

A note from writer’s group mostly for my own reference (while I still have deck-plans left):

The Flea by John Donne

Still the Lusitania goes on…

So one more history note, this one about Jack’s on -again/ off-again mentor, the legendary bard Taliesin.

There are extant poems reliably (by Dark Age standards) attributed to a historical Taliesin, who served the lords of Rheghed in the early 6th century. This actual bard, though was, well, mediocre, judging by those works, which were mostly songs praising his patrons.

Good for him, but it doesn’t justify the legend.

My head-canon is that the bard of Rheghed took Taliesin’s name, but is not actually that legendary bard.

The Taliesin I write about (in the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) would never write any of his own poetry down anyway.

Now we know.

 

 

The Regular (Sample) Cast of Go Action Fun Time and Where and When They will appear next.

I have, at long last, finalized the “Cast Members” for Go Action Fun Time, my table-top role-playing game about a reality TV show where teenage superheroes travel randomly through time.  I have concocted 30 Cast Members, heroes all drawn from the fantastic past or the speculative future or more modern origins.  Before I go into details one them, some announcements:

I will be at MaricopaCon this weekend. We will play Sparkle and Bleed on Saturday Night, and The Whole They Crawled out of Sunday  morning (whether the organizers realize this or not.). Yes- these were both on the schedule at Crit Hit, but Sparkle could use another round of play-testing, and Whole didn’t get enough players to go.

Yes- you need to have a membership at the Con in order to play.

mcon2019-gold-413x413

Sparkle and Bleed

In a small town in 1958 Nebraska, your teen-age time-traveling super-heroes have been given a task that will chill them to their very marrows: find a date to the Homecoming Dance. Also of interest: murder, mayhem, the living dead and the town’s unsteady relationship with time and space.

Scan2019-07-07_000727

Some Parts and Portions that crawled out of The Whole.

The Whole They Crawled Out Of

The village is surrounded by mutant zombies. You are here to help. Of course it’s worse than that. Because the only thing more terrifying than constant war with your neighbors is being forced to agree with them about every little thing. A cross-over adventure with Sage and Sand.

 

The Sample Cast

GAFT cover image

Left to Right: Cypher, Gideon Gunn, Rose Red, Cosmic Kid, Brass, and an early concept for Xinji.

These characters were mostly derived from tropes I have seen in the source material from which Go Action Fun Time was drawn: Saturday morning cartoons, the anime and late night cartoons that succeeded them, and the books and serials that preceded them. This may or may not have been filled out by characters rescued from other RPG games.

I have 30 Cast Members, six each of five general types:

  • Fighter A – combat specialists who have actually trained for combat.
  • Fighter B – Solid combatnts who are ot specifically trained for combat, but whose abilities make them tactically formidable anyway.
  • Rouges – Thieves and spies and detectives.
  • Wizards – primary spell-casters, but also includes scientists, mad or otherwise.
  • Other – Either support types (healers) or those who defy any of the four categories above.

THE CAST:

[Alphetically, by type.] Characters in italics are planned, but have not been written yet.

Fighters – Type A

BRASS the HUNTRESS – A daughter of Zeus. Brass hunts monsters.

GGunn lineart

“Keep pointing that spear at me and there will be some loud noise.”

GALAHAD – A knight of the Round Table. Almost but not quite exactly who you think he is.

GIDEON GUNN – An indestructible wanna-be Texas Ranger.

OKUNINUSHI – Cyber-samurai with a magic sword.

RUBIA LaROUCHE – Pirate Princess.

SABRE – Genetically modified super-soldier who really just likes flowers and puppies and K-pop dance music.

Fighters – Type B

BARKLEY “BEAR” DICKSON – Just a good ol’ redneck wear-bear.

CAPTAIN VICTORY – Cloned super-athlete created for marketing.

CapVictory GAFT fullcolor.png

110% effort 110% of the time!

COSMIC KID – A normal, average modern teen filled with the Power Cosmic.

KROMAG – A caveman with super-strength.

LUNK – An actor/singer/dancer, but one who has been genetically modified to survive on a high gravity planet with an acidic atmosphere.

XINJI – A young girl kept alive in a military grade cybernetic body.

Rouges

ALEX KITT – a modern teenager who is also a super-spy. You are not authorized to know why this would make any sense at all.

dopple-color-1.png

Not his (it’s?) true form.

ARIA – Entertainment superstar from the near future with superhuman charisma.

DOPPLE –  A young footpad from the mean streets of 19th Century London, who also happens to be a shape-shifting alien.

SHADOW-CAT – Genetically and cybernetically enhanced cat-burglar

SPARROW – Former sidekick to the 1930’s millionaire costumed vigilante Gangbuster.

VALORIE KEENE – Girl Detective.

Wizards

CYPHER – A historian from the far, far future.

DOCTOR JUNIOR –  A wheel-chair bound super-genius.

FELICITY MOORE – A sitcom witch. Don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.

DR. OPPERNOCKITTY – A Victorian techno-wizard who may be the last gnome.

OPENER-OF-WAYS – A lost daughter of Thoth to whom every word is readable and no door is closed. Cannot keep secrets or tell lies.

THE WIZARD TIMM – A young Atlantean Enchanter who may or may not be a younger version of a certain Monty Python character.

Timm RCM

The reason behind the explosions

Others

ABLE – An exploration android.

BROTHER MU – An initiate of the Brotherhood of the Over-mind, who trained him how to use his psychic powers.

GREYCLOAK – Elven Fighter/Magic-user/Thief. You’ve played this sort before.

Princess Moonfire color(1).png

Worship my precious adorableness – or else!

PRINCESS MOONFIRE: – Every magical princess trope rolled into one.

RIGEL WATSON – A promising space cadet attending space academy.

ROSE RED – A lost princess with the power of Kindness. The sister of Snow White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It finally happened…

A moment to breath, and the will to blog coincide.

Holidays, the aftermath of holidays, work, other blogs, marketing initiatives and fiction have pushed ahead of this project for the past few weeks. So it goes.

My wife may have a marketng client, and we are cobbling together a business/marketing plan/site to help him (and presumably other self-published authors) get a little more exposure. There aren’tenough for-sure details yet to expound,but if you want to follow the thought process online, the dummy-test site is here: Writing Made Visible

For my Thursday night folk – I don’t have any good notes, but I do have this:

Writing: You're doing it wrong.

I discovered how far you can drive in a 2006 Equinox between the time the low-gas light comes on, and the time you actually run it out of gas – and that’s about 60 miles. Happily, I ran out of gas less than a block from my house, but that never makes for a good morning.

There’s really no good place in an Equinox, or any SUV, to put a gas can that has just been emptied.

Don’t even look at TV Tropes, or its kissing cousin Speculative Fiction Tropes unless you have several of hours of your life that you won’t need back. (A contributor to lack of production on this blog and many others).

Speaking of wastes of perfectly good space/time:

From Tor.com – and exchange of lunatic letters concerning our friends the octopi.

Werewolves are literary orphans

Have a few seconds? Need a comic-book or pup novel premise? They Fight Crime

Having failed to learn from previous attempts, I am thinking of putting together yet another RPG gaming group. Input welcome. In person (probably at my house in Phoenix) – I’m over gaming via e-mail.

Now You Know

We found a way to run new rope through a headblock without someone (usually me) up at the headblock to force the issue:

We took a one foot section of the new rope and removed the central core. Then we stuck the onld (thinner) manila line and the end of the new rope halfway each into the empty sleeve, and taped the hell out of it with electrical tape. We had to yank it sternly to get that portion through the block (there are keepers,you see, which are designed to keep the rope in the block, but also just barely let the new thicker rope pass). In 30 linesets, it only broke once.

Every fire curtain is rigged a different way, so if you’re going to mess with it (like, say, re-roping it), you’d best march up to the grid and discover how the contraption is actually rigged.

Burkhard Heim may have come as close to a Unified Field Theory as anyone else [according to a New Scientist article which may require registration to view]. More importantly to the fictional future, his theories point the way towards a functional hyperdrive. Heim rarely published, and never published in English so much of his work from the 1950’s is just now being “discovered”.

My dream of a unified combat damage system for both melee weapons and firearms may not be possible. Primary evidence is that armor designed to prtect against melee weapons is useless against bullets, and for the most part vice-versa. Running numbers I discovered that melee damage can be satifactorily measured in Newtons while ballistic damage can be satisfactorily measured in Joules (kilojoules, actually). These line up with the damage range consensus among most RPGs.

E-books, copyright and zombies.

I wouldn’t count on another entry here until after the holidays.

Now you know.

More “Careful What You Wish For”

For the last week I’ve lived the life I always said I wanted (within limts – these are the goals I could realistically hope for) a few years ago.

It’s fun – no doubt. But its exhausting. So whileI slept that off,my wife hoarked my laptop to do her homework, capping of an already considerable delay.

I rebuilt two of the five gates to my yard. That was never really a life goal, but I’m glad I got it done.

gate-perspectiveThe photo shows the other gate for contrast.

I attended a book signing and then went home ad slapped together a marketing survey for what I hope is my next book. Good News/Bad News there: The survey contained the info they wanted to see, but, despite selling out at the book signing, I’ve only sold 94 copies from national book chains – where most copies are sold. <sigh…>

My book proposal is a similar format covering the Coconino National Forest, which includes outdoor hotspots of Sedona and Flagstaff. But if the original sn’t moving, there’d be less appettite for a sequal.

The again, they made Starship Troopers II.

I’m fairly certain I was the only author at the book signing with an actual publisher who paid me (in advance). Everyone else was self-published.

I took ten copies and walked out with none, BUT I sold seven copies to people I already knew, including my stepmother who bought four copies because she’s a compulsive gift-giver. So it goes.

Then I had the chance to design and run a moving light show for the first time in two years.

samia-09

That’s from the 2009 Suns Charity Dinner. The performer is Tamia Hill (wife of Suns forward Grant Hill, but equally talented in her sphere).

By all accounts it well (despite Suns players appearing briefly as “guest vocalists”).

DO NOT daisy chain DMX between Studio Colors and Mac 2000’s. You might think that because Mac’s have 3pin (and 5pin) DMX that this would work out like DMX signal is supposed to. That assumption leads to daring do on an A-frame ladder at 3am. Studio Colors do not play nice with newer DMX units. I dimly remember running into this barrier before – but I wasn’t in charge.

On a related note, I have long known from an experience so bad its comic now, that you cannot use Atomic strobes as 3pin-5pin DMX adapters.

The key to executing looks quickly with moving lights is to set useful groups and then map out all your positions first. Creating looks after that is just a few steps more (mainly gobos, and their FX) than doing it with conventionals.

Oh, and operating a Grand MA lighting console is not at all like riding  a bike.

I’m also pretty sure this was the first time in 3 years I had a competent ME helping hang my design who wasn’t myself.

I’m sitting in catering, trying to gulp down some outstanding salmon in the ten minutes I had to eat, when Suns owner Robert Sarver burst in the room, slapped me on the back (because I was closest to the door, I suspect) and exhorted us all that we should have fun doing whatever we do.

I’ve also been pushing The Game ahead (I may add a page just for that). I’m still plowing through a working revision of the rules. I have a formula for aging (and associated stat loss), rather than a table, and this pleases me. I also have an spreadsheet summarizing the damage system, which I’ve been wanting to fabricate for as long as I;ve been thinking I ought to just rebuild the damn gate.

Two good sites:

The Space Site for clear, readable extrapolations of the possibilities beyond our planet and

Technovlegy : a compendium of ideas from SF, and who came up with them first.

Now you know.

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