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|Monday, August 15th, 2016|
56. Grandville Noir, by Bryan Talbot
57. Alarums & Excursions #489
58. The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman
59. Devils & Realist, Vol. 9
60. Black Butler, Vol. 22
61. The Ancient Magus' Bride, Vol. 1
62. Prince's Gambit, by C. S. Pascat
63. Flashman at the Charge, by George MacDonald Fraser
64. Flashman in the Great Game, by George MacDonald Fraser
65. Kings Rising, by C. S. Pascat
66. Alarums & Excursions #490
|Friday, August 12th, 2016|
|RPGaDay 2016, Days 1-10
Here are my answers for #RPGaDay 2016
for the first ten days of the month.
Unless otherwise specified, I am limiting answers to "after GenCon 2015".
1. Real Dice, Dice App, Diceless: How do you prefer to roll?
Real dice for mechanics involving dice, though I will play some card based games, and I'll use apps occasionally.
2. Best game session since August 2015?
If this does not include August 2015, then Brendan Conway's Masks game at the 2015 Metatopia, followed by Dreamation 2016's Fall of Magic and Fellowship. If it does include August 2015, then I add GenCon 2015 sessions: Morgan Ellis's SW FAE, Clockwork: Dominion's "In for a Penny", the Luther Arkwright game where Josh and I played John Steed and Emma Peel, Scott Acker's run of Don't Rest Your Head's "The Bad Man", and Todd Furler's Unknown Armies game "Luciano Fernandez, Demon Hunter".
3. Character moment you are proudest of?
Ask me tomorrow and you will get a different answer. Today: In "Highland Spirits" for Clockwork: Dominion on Saturday morning at GenCon, when the PCs were giving a sidhe lord gifts that had meaning and story, I pondered my character's possessions, listed on the sheet. This was a con artist, with calling cards in several names, male and female. I decided that would be the gift and said, in character: I have been all these people.
It wasn't until today that I realized how very appropriate that is for a roleplaying game at GenCon.
4. Most impressive thing another's character did?
This is the hardest of the first 8. So many good gamers! I'm going with two:
At Dreamation, in Fellowship, Tony Lower-Basch was playing The Halfling, and Michael McDowell was playing The Heir, whose people had ancestral memories in their minds going back many generations. Players create bonds between PCs by answering preset questions.
For the Halfling, this was: I once told a lie so good Delphine _still_ thinks it's true: Halflings are just the first step down. There are quartrlings and eighthlings. You'll never see them although they live in your cities.
And the Heir's player immediately responded, as if stunned by the realization: And I don't remember them so it must be true!
Thursday at GenCon 2016, one player in the Clockwork: Dominion scenario "Witch Hunt", a black man, demonstrated how to play a bigot, prejudiced against folks with inhuman features and powers, sure, but more prejudiced against a half-Indian half-British man, in such a way that:
*No one was made to feel inappropriately uncomfortable. (Appropriate discomfort is, well, appropriate.)
*No direct ethnic slurs were used.
*Indeed, nothing intended to insult anyone in character was said; rather, sincere statements intended by the character to be complimentary were made.
*The character never acted against the group.
*The player did not, IMO, hog the limelight, but made sure to hand it off / pass it around.
*The player did not bring the plot to a halt. In character banter did slow things down a bit, but that was all of us having fun, so far as I could tell.
*The player acted to move things along. Granted, this was not always in the optimal direction from a tactical or strategic point of view, but he was good about allowing the character to be reined in and redirected.
*And, with all that, it was always very clear that this was a racist man, and that the character's unfortunate attitudes were not endorsed by any of us, including his player.
This is a very tricky thing to pull off. Real world issues and learning experiences aside, although these are not irrelevant, I need to remember this the next time I play a character whose prejudices are a substantial part of what he is, and I need to remember this as an interesting option when playing a Slytherin.
5. What story does your group tell about your character?
... I have no idea. I do a fair bit of the gming.
6. Most amazing thing a gaming group did for their community?
Double Exposure may not technically be a gaming group, but it has raised the bar in outreach and making conventions as accessible and safe as possible.
7. What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on you?
The community: being able to trade ideas and learn, as a gm, as a player, as a writer, as an editor, as a member of a varied community. Apart from local groups, this probably started with Alarums & Excursions, edited by Lee Gold.
8.Hardcover, softcover, or digital? What is your preference?
Softback and sturdy, with digital loaded simultaneously. I do like lays flat binding.
9. Beyond the game, what's involved in an ideal session?
Being on the same page as the other gamers. This allows for flexibility and improvisation, but also for building on what each other does. A comfortable gaming space, but not so comfortable folks doze. Food is optional, but liquid is not. A meal after the game or other post game decompression activity can be good. Wrapping to a good resolution or cliffhanger. Respect. Remembering details, but not being stuck on them.
10. Largest in-game surprise you have experienced?
As a player:
A. In Aviatrix's Eternal Lies game, there were two (and these are non-spoilery, being specific to her game): Discovering my PC had a sister (sort of) and that the sister was (possibly) the actual Chosen One, and learning the my PC was not (any longer) in her own body, but rather, in a body built of the stuff of dreams. For all practical purposes it was real, just not the body she'd been in for the last several years.
B. In the Dreamation run of Witch, a violent standoff being broken by another PC committing the murder I'd half expected my PC to commit. It worked much better that way. Possibly also misunderstanding a player's goal with a scene, but I'm not sure there. My PC wasn't in that scene (and didn't belong in it).
C. The motivation of the villain in the GenCon Clockwork: Dominion game of "Witch Hunt".
D. How utterly delightful Dread: Gremlins with the "British servants in a mansion, just four years before WWI" setting is.
As a GM:
A. When playtesting Gumshoe One-2-One, the person who played private investigator Dexter Raymond was full of surprises. Dex was the world's nicest private eye, serving tea to everyone, and losening a witness's tongue by pretending to be a new neighbor coming by with a casserole. Dex also used his culinary skills as a weapon when needed, spilling hot coffee on someone who took a swing at him. (This turned out to be based on a misunderstanding, and the two were reconciled.) He then set a Nazi spy on USA fascists who might have been the guy's allies. This was the big one I didn't see coming. Finally, he did a fine Yojimbo end game, setting two fairly despicable groups on each other while he beat a strategic withdrawal.
B. In the 1894 leg of Dracula Dossier, the players essentially started creating my future Conspyramid / Vampyramid. Mrs. Beatrice Campbell, aka Mrs. Pat, went to Carmilla and pointed out that the vampire had just lost a lieutenant, and hence had an opening in her organization, while the Rt. Hon. Sebastian Wimsey decided to reform Edom from within. Sure, becoming a vampire was icky, but there were other ways of becoming immortal, and Surely None of Those had Unfortunate Side Effects, right? Or, as the player put it, I can use Sebastian as a major villain when we get to the modern setting.
C. In the 1940 leg of Dracula Dossier, Hedy Lamarr decided to plant a beacon in Castle Dracula, which is in an interdimensional space. The pilot, who had mythos knowledge, was able to help her out. I saw no reason to block that, but I sure didn't see it coming.
|Tuesday, July 5th, 2016|
16. Thrill of Dracula, by Ken Hite
17. Wizard of Three Moons, by Neal Stidham
18. Alarums & Excursions #484
19. The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle
20. Carnacki: The Ghost Finder, by William Hope Hodgson
21-22. Bloody Mary, Vols. 1-2
23. Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner, reread
24. Tremontaine, by Ellen Kushner and others, reread
25. Alarums & Excursions #485
26. Shadowshaper, by Daniel Jose Older
27. Devils & Realist, Vol. 7
28. The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
29. The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
30. Devils & Realist, Vol. 8
31. Alarums & Excursions #486
32. Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner, reread
33. Silver on the Road, by Laura Anne Gilman
34. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
35. The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kusher and Delia Sherman, reread
36. Tremontaine, by Ellen Kusher and others, reread (I also finally finished listening to the audiobook version of it)
37. Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge
38. Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker's Dracula, ed. by Steve Berman
39. Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand
40. Shadow of the Century Beta Playtest Version
41. The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Hans Heinz Ewer, in translation
42. Delta Green material -- The Agent's Handbook, Need to Know, Star Chamber
43. Alarums & Excursions #487
44. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
45. Vampire, by Hans Heinz Ewer, in translation
46. Atomic Robo RPG
47. One Dice Airship Pirates
48. Sandman Overture
49-50. Cardcaptor Sakura, in 4 huge volumes (Counting as 2 as this seems most logical. I also saw the series, subtitled, and the two movies, and two of the three video diary shorts)
51. Alarums & Excursions #488
52. Bloody Mary, Vol. 3
53. More Than Night, Ian Tregillis
54. Streets of Shadow, scenarios for 3rd ed. Victoriana
55. Captive Prince, by C. S. Pascat
|Tuesday, June 7th, 2016|
The plan is to fly in Wednesday and out Monday. We need to book that flight. We have a hotel room, but future GenCons may be iffy, as the hotel situation gets less tenable.
Wednesday: Arrive, maybe get some basic provisions, rest up, maybe meet folks and hang out. Also, mark up the map of the exhibit hall obsessively. I've found that I really need to plan my GenCon shopping.
Thursday: My first game's at 2pm, which leaves time to wake up, eat, and shop. My usual plan is to hit the exhibit hall about half an hour after it opens, to give the opening rush time to ease up. If memory serves, we're likely talking 11am opening, which should give me two hours for a preliminary walk through and buy stuff that must be bought early. Oh yes, also make sure I have enough to nosh on, as games are back to back.
2pm: Witch Hunt for Clockwork: Dominion, a Victorian-ish setting with a card based initiative system that I thought would be horrid, but which worked really well. I loved last year's "In for a Penny" and want a copy so I can run it, perhaps at AnonyCon.
6pm: Last Minute Plans for Fate, Magical High School. I played in this last year, but the original GM had had to leave early. The person who took over did a solid job, and I'd like another taste, this time at the beginning of the convention, where I'm hopefully more alert. (Mind, my lack of alertness got worked into the plot last year.)
Friday: 8am: An Unpleasant Diversion for Victoriana. Victoriana, saving me since I started running Kerberos Club. And dang, I want to get my hands on the four Havering adventures I don't already have! (I've played in one from the first batch, and run that and one other, then in the finale of the second batch, and the 7th adventure which is the capstone, and it was an utter blast.) Things I wouldn't have believed in high school -- or college -- include that I'd have a game with an alternate 19th century setting on my Must Play list for GenCon and that I'd voluntarily crack a history book on the period.
Noon-1pm: Something vaguely resembling lunch?
1pm: Criminal Magic for Wicked Pacts. This sounded intriguing.
5-8pm: Probably dinner. Possibly Games on Demand, depending on logistics and planning.
8pm: The Van Helsing Letter for Night's Black Agents. I'm currently running Dracula Dossier, four generational, and we're up to the 1940 leg.
Saturday: 10am: Highland Spirits for Clockwork Dominion.
2-6pm: Food, shopping, maybe Games on Demand.
6pm: Stolen Lives for Call of Cthulhu. This one comes with a trigger warning.
Sunday: 9am: Dweomer by Gaslight: Corpse Lights. Game system is listed as "Nova6". I am not sure whether that's correct or meant to be Fate, given there's a reference to something that I recognize from the DresdenFiles RPG.
After that, we shall see. I'm not sure when Games on Demand closes, and we do like being in the exhibit hall for the final cheer of the weary dealers.
Monday: We check out. Flying home in the wee hours of Monday worked well last time, and is likely to work better with an actual hotel room Sunday night.
|Saturday, May 7th, 2016|
|Our Morning -- Fortunately, It's Evening Now
Unpacking mneme's filk about our morning
So, last night, we went to bed very, very late, for Reasons. I completed a 13-part step of a project, and am SO glad I did. There's more to do on it, and other projects, but I could and did knock this one out.
This morning, a bit before 10am, I woke to the sound of water. My first thought was that the toilet was on continuous flush, which occasionally happens and has a relatively easy fix: just jiggle the handle on the toilet.
I walked to the bathroom and saw the toilet overflowing into the hall and called for mneme. Fortunately, he woke up at once.
We had a whole lot of messy water spilling, a foot of water in the bathtub, a dwindling supply of paper towels, and no mop. mneme called for a bucket, which we didn't exactly have -- but we did have an unused waste receptacle which was sufficiently bucket like to buy enough time for me to put on a bathrobe and look for a neighbor with a mop or a clue of whom to call.
Our apartment is on the ground floor, right next to the laundry room. A woman was in it, and, while she didn't have the number we needed, she did know who we were supposed to call, and she spotted a mop in the laundry room.
One of the neighbors was in and awake, and extremely gracious. He loaned us a bucket, gave us the number of the superintendent, let us use his bathroom and wash off our hands and feet, and let us dump a bucket of bailed water down his toilet. All of this took place in and around phoning the superintendent, leaving a message for him, continuing to clean, putting on actual clothing, and so on.
The superintendent arrived, took one look, said something to the effect that he saw what was going on, and left.
Now, he left to do exactly the right thing, to wit, something involving loosening a valve so that the overflowing would stop. He wasted neither words nor time on this. And he returned with help, approrpiate equipment, and explanations.
Until we knew all of that, of course, we were somewhat frantic, to put it mildly. We had a full wastebasket of dirty water, too heavy to carry easily, and no clear idea of where to put it. mneme tried bailing into the kitchen sink, but this resulted in the water coming back up in the toilet, near as we could tell.
At this point, mneme had bailed enough that things were not currently overflowing, but had also figured out that this was not something we had control over. When someone above us flushed, it would back up more.
About this point, it started draining, and this is when we realized that the superintendent wasn't in the gathering equipment stage, but in the aggressively fixing the problem stage. He arrived and confirmed mneme's take on things. The bathroom and kitchen for the whole column of apartments is on one set of pipes. So, yes, as mneme noted, our ground floor apartment is the early warning sign for the building. Yuck.
Mind, an early warning sign for us is the sink and bathtub taking long to drain. The superintendent confirmed that it couldn't hurt to let him know if that started happening again. He and one of the building's porters snaked everything out and cleaned up what they could.
They also told us that, yes, we could absolutely throw our dirty water onto the roof of the garage (which is where out the window leads), and we could and should put our heavy, drippy garbage in the laundry room garbage bins. Yes, there's a sign saying not to, but this was an emergency.
The superintendent did ask us to call the official management number for such things in the future, not his official number. We apologized and explained that this had been the one we were given, and we asked what the correct number was.
He didn't know, but he found a sign that he pointed out to me, saying that that was where the number was. I regret not knowing this, but I find I cannot feel too foolish given that the sign said:
This Building Is Managed By
NAME OF MANAGEMENT COMPANY
address and phone number of same
And the sign did NOT say:
For building emergencies, call [number]
The bathroom is now usable, and the kitchen sink should be as well. I do want us to clean the hallway by the bathroom and the floor of the hallway closets, and I'm very glad indeed that mneme made it a priority to get the boxes of Stuff in them and on the floor unpacked months ago.
|Wednesday, April 20th, 2016|
|Supergirl -- all the feels!
We just saw the gloriousness that was the Supergirl finale. This is how you do it. This is how you walk that very fine line.
And one single word from Cat Grant near the end of the episode had me covering my mouth and screaming with joy, the perfect kind of line, utterly meaningless out of context, meaning so much in context, and paid for.
And, of course, a lot of questions, including the one I know is in Kenneth Hite's mind: Is the answer to the inevitable season-ender mystery "Streaky the Supercat"?
|Sunday, February 21st, 2016|
|Back from Dreamation
A lot of good gaming, though even with a humidifier, the hotel air is dry enough I kept waking up. Got a lot of notes to type up and expand. Of course, I'm still working on expanding notes from last year's Maelstrom. Also, a lot of good gaming and eating. Quick list of games played:
Thursday Night: Lovecraftesque
Friday Morning: Golden Sky Stories
Friday Afternoon: Headspace
Friday Evening: Witch: The Road to Linidsfarne
Saturday Morning: Fall of Magic
Saturday Afternoon: Fellowship
Saturday Evening: Sorcerer SF Setting
Sunday Morning: Wicked Fate
Not a bad game or gamer in the lot.
|Tuesday, February 9th, 2016|
3. Flight of Magpies, by K. J. Charles. This kept me sane(r) during the move. I also read the remaining short stories set in that universe available at that point.
4. Wicked Gentlemen, by Ginn Hale. Wow.
5. Radiance, by Catherynne Valente. This is amazing.
6. Jackdaw, by K. J. Charles. This kept me calm(er) during the wait for our Arisia room to be ready. (We'd taken the late bus in, arriving in the wee hours, hence before official check in time by a while.)
7. Alarums & Excursions #483.
8. Indexing: Reflections, by Seanan McGuire. So good. Well worth the wait for the paper version.
9. Widdershins, by Jordan Hawk.
10. Threshold, by Jordan Hawk. Hawk's stuff's not as much to my taste as Charles's, but I run Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu, and this is pure gold for that.
11. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley. I bought this on a whim, and after the third or fourth "this is an amazing book" from my social media, I pulled it from the "to be packed" and put it in the "to be read during the long unpacking process". Good call. This is amazing, and part of that is slowly figuring out what kind of a story it is. In a very understated sentence or two, she can make me terrified for the happiness of her characters.
12. Tremontaine, by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, and Paul Witcover. This is set 15 years before Swordspoint, and it really opens up the universe. It came out one chapter at a time from Serial Box, so I've been reading it since last year, but it finished last month. Of course I love it.
13. Three Kings, for Achtung Cthulhu.
14. Stormhaven, by Jordan Hawk. Okay, I have figured out why I will likely stick with this series: the tiaras. More precisely, the lovely references that the characters don't understand as well as I do, because, while some of them know what kind of world they're living in, they don't know it completely, and they don't know the implications. As long as there are tiaras, I'm there.
15. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, by K. J. Charles. This is a more complicated book that I thought, and it's pointing me at a lot of source material. I'd always meant to read the Carnacki stories, and I've finally started that.
Not numbered: Two of the short stories in Jordan Hawk's Whyborne and Griffin series, and the crossover story done by Jordan Hawk and K. J. Charles using that series and The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. Also, M. R. James's Casting the Runes, a short story referenced in The Secret Casebook.
I'm currently reading through Kenneth Hite's Thrill of Dracula, William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost Finder, and Alarums & Excursions #484.
|Move Out Completed
Today, I gave back the keys to our old place. The superintendent told me that we would be missed, and I told him that he would be as well.
While I hope to get into something of an exercise pattern, I am glad it need no longer be a pattern of "push carts half a mile, load with stuff, push carts back half a mile". (We did use professional movers. They were very good. There was still a fair amount left over.)
We are still House of Boxes.
|Saturday, January 9th, 2016|
Last books read in the old year:
97. The Edom Files, a pre-layout collection of sweet, sweet scenarios for Pelgrane Press's Dracula Dossier.
98. Black Butler #21.
99. The Magpie Lord, by K. J. Charles. The blurbs for the books in this series (A Charm of Magpies) amused me enough to try the first one. What the blurbs didn't convey is that there's a lot of plot, and whenever things look even remotely like they might perhaps slow down, there's the magical equivalent of Chandler's guy with a gun coming through the door. A fast read, but fortunately for me, the author has a lot more books.
100. Alarums & Excursions #482.
101. Alraune, by Hans Heniz Ewer, translated by Joe E. Bandel. This was background reading for my Dracula Dossier campaign. It's the second part of a loose trilogy. I bought the first part, translated by the same man. He also has a partial translation of the third one on his website, or at least, I don't think he ever finished translating it. I hope I'm wrong, as I do want to read the rest of the story. It's a bit of a blend of Dracula and Frankenstein, where the monster is female and the sex isn't buried in symbolism.
102. Playtest Draft of Gumshoe One-2-One, aka Cthulhu Confidential, which I keep wanting to call "Cthulhu Cthonfidential". I've managed a playtest session and need to write that up for Pelgrane. Because it's designed for one player and a GM, there are modifications to the usual Gumshoe rules, some of which I'm pondering adapting for multiplayer Gumshoe.
First books read in the new year:
1. The Three Rocketeers, by PK Sullivan. This is one of Evil Hat's Fate settings, and is delightful. Also, many of the important and powerful NPCs are female.
2. A Case of Possession, by K. J. Charles, the second in the Charm of Magpies series.
I am currently reading Catherynne Valente's Radiance, which is amazing. It is a slow read because a) I read her work aloud and b) we're in the throes of packing. But I don't mind if this one lingers for a while.
Not numbered: Two of the short stories in the Charm of Magpies series, and the various episodes of Tremontaine. I am currently up to date that one in both written and audio versions.
|Wednesday, November 25th, 2015|
81. Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. A bit uneven, but utterly delightful. I like the bite, and I'm looking forward to more.
82. Magical Knight Rayearth, volumes 1 and 2, by CLAMP. So very CLAMP. Research. We were reading this for research, yep. And we'll need to watch the anime for the same reason. I could count this as two books, but given I'm counting some shorter things as one, it probably balances out.
83. Dracula (re-read) and the Unredacted Dracula (more of a skim, as I tried to read only the new material). The Unredacted Dracula has a couple of collaborators, as it's part of the Dracula Dossier from Pelgrane for Night's Black Agents. If you're an RPG about spies and vampires in the modern day, sooner or later, you're going to have to address the Dracula question. And that Bram Stoker -- what a professional! As Kenneth Hite notes, Mr. Stoker got his word count in early.
84. The Bizarre Adventures of Gilbert & Sullivan, by Laura Howell. And, this is a very short graphic novel, balancing the Rayearth books.
85. Dresden Accelerated Beta Version. Much easier to use than the Alpha -- and we had a blast with the Alpha playtest last year.
86. Athene Palace, by R. G. Waldeck. I asked for a book about Romania during WWII that wouldn't put me to sleep, giving as an example of non-fiction books I find riveting The Ghost Map. Kenneth Hite said that there was precisely one book written in English fitting that description. It is amazing. The author is not free from the prejudices of her time (I am almost certainly understating), but this is a firsthand account of events in Bucharest in the months after Paris fell. It's a story full of other stories, which is the kind of thing that I can read and digest.
87. Pocket Apocalypse, by Seanan McGuire. Fun, fast paced, good read. I like the InCryptid series, not least because the main characters tend to be sensible enough to understand the importance of good, rapid, and frequent communication.
88. Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu (re-read). I cracked and got the ebook edition with the scholarly apparatus, which was very useful for putting the work in context. Also, I want to run "The Carmilla Sanction" at some point. I'd forgotten how weird both this and Dracula are. And, yeah, they both read quite well, if quite differently, if you look at it through the lens of "everyone's a vampire or a spy trying to use vampires".
89. A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire. The latest Toby Daye book, very well done.
90. Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. Currently a stand alone, but I gather there may be more in that world. I tried to nominate it for an award before someone pointed out that it isn't officially out yet, so it's not eligible for another year. It's very good.
91. Alarums & Excursions #480.
92. Pawn in Frankincense, by Dorothy Dunnett. This is the 4th of the 6 Lymond books. So, if you're like me, you put off reading it because a) you don't want them going too fast, b) you've had to reread #3 first, and c) you then need time to let it all settle. But, if you're the kind of person who prefers not to wait on finding out what happens next with certain kinds of endings, have #4 right by you so that you can start it immediately after #3. And... brace yourself.
About halfway in, I said, "Things just got complicated." Now, this is a Dorothy Dunnett book, fourth in a series, and things STARTED complicated. About 2/3 to 3/4 in, things got even more complicated. Then, one of the most amazing scenes I've read, going somewhere that most writers would never dare, and most writers who would dare would leave me feeling like I didn't care about anyone in the world of the book. Dunnett goes there, and I totally care. And then, there's more left, including a delightfully unexpected Checkhovian Gun that isn't a gun. But, it was introduced, right properly, and it never occurred to me that this interesting cultural detail would matter.
So, I'm catching my breath before trying #5. I don't think I'll need to reread #4 first, though I might change my mind, and might have to reread #4 and #5 before reading #6.
93. The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross. I read this thinking it would be a palate cleanser after the Dunnett. Actually, it's similar in several ways, including quality. The main character is smart, competent, and stressed. There are several hilarious bits. The overall story is played straight. And... the last page left me gasping for air.
Fortunately, around here, I started reading Tremontaine, being serialized on Serial Box. It doesn't get a listing here because it's still in progress.
94. Speak Easy, by Catherynne Valente. It's set in New York City, but mneme
and I both found that we needed to read it aloud (which is pretty normal for anything by Valente) in an accent that veered rather south of NYC. It's amazing.
95. Alarums & Excursions #481.
96. Nurk, by Ursula Vernon. It's set in the same world as Digger, with a character descended from one of the characters in the web comic. It's well done, and I'm absurdly pleased with myself for having spotted a Chekhov's Gun which wasn't a gun and guessing exactly how it would be used.
NOT NUMBERED: Tremontaine, the prequel to Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner and a whole lot of other people. I've read the first 5 chapters, all that are out as of today, and listened to the first 3 and half of the 4th. I caught something fairly subtle, and am watching events move like a snowball getting bigger, faster, and scarier. Chocolate! Romance! Betrayal! Duels! Math! And snark -- lots of snark!
|Monday, November 9th, 2015|
|Monday, September 14th, 2015|
|New Subway Station
The new 7 train subway station is open. I'm a New Yorker -- this felt like holy ground.mneme
said, "You know, Daredevil fought the Kingpin to keep this from happening." (He later modified this. Probably what it was was a battle over jacking up rents to force gentrification. But, the point is, our brains were set on Make Odd Connections.)
My application to join the beta playtest for Dresden Accelerated has been accepted. During the alpha playtest, all the players created NYC city workers. It was awesome.
And... I think I have at least part of a plot for the beta playtest.
Mind, the game that really gets to plug the new subway station right in is, of course, Unknown Armies. The Urbomancers are out in force -- and the Second Avenue Subway is still under construction.
|Wednesday, September 9th, 2015|
72. Devils & Realist #5
73. Elements of Mind, by Walter H. Hunt. Powersesque, though not as much so in the ending as I'd have liked. Fun read, and I met the author at WorldCon, where he told me how much he'd drawn from history -- far more than I would have guessed.
74. Sparrow Hill Road, by Seanan McGuire. So, while I liked the Verity books in the InCryptid series, don't get the feel of NYC from it. Oh, it isn't Not-NYC, and the story's fun, so this is more an absence of a positive than a negative. But here, perhaps because I don't know the highways and roadside diner as well as I know my home town, the setting clicks and comes alive as a character, which makes sense, because it is.
75. The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats, by Mark Hodder, 6th in his tales of Burton & Swinburne. It wraps up most of the loose ends from the first five books, I think, but leaves room for more adventures.
76. Urban Shadows, an RPG that is a hack of Apocalypse World that does a lot of what 1st edition World of Darkness was trying to do. It's all about the favor economy. The advice for GMs is excellent, building on Apocalypse World and several of its best hacks, like Monsterhearts, although the focus is very different.
77. Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini, a graphic novel. Light, but fun.
78. Fables #150. Not a bad ending for the series.
79. Devils & Realist #6. This is taking an interesting turn.
80. Alarums & Excursions #479
|Tuesday, August 11th, 2015|
|Follow up to MRI
Josh's MRI was followed up with a CT scan, and that was followed up by a message from the neurologist saying that the CT scan from yesterday was exactly the same as the one from June, and that this is good news. We've still got the appointment to see him in September, of course.
|Wednesday, August 5th, 2015|
As expected, this was basically a day long thing.
9:30am: Alarm goes off.
c. 10am: We actually get up.
c. 11am: We head out and grab breakfast.
c. 12pm: We take the subway.
12:45pm: We arrive early, as instructed, for our 1pm appointment.
c. 1pm: We are told that the MRI unit is backed up due to a number of in-hospital emergency patients who really need their MRI Right Now, and that the wait will be 1-2 hours. Having already eaten, we settle into the relatively comfortable waiting area, complete with bathroom, and pull out books, tablets, and proofreading material.
c. 3pm: The MRI begins.
c. 4pm: MRI is done, and we receive post-MRI instructions and the green light to go. Maybe a little closer to 4:30 by the time we actually head out.
Mind, we still made our scheduled dinner by 6pm. No one mistreated us or delayed us unnecessarily. Folks were nice, and all went well. But, this is why we schedule the full day for this.
|Wednesday, July 29th, 2015|
After waking up fairly early Tuesday for a day of work and errands, and a dinner at Blu Orchid preceded by an Ingress detour through Brooklyn, we finished our packing sufficiently late that we didn't sleep before tye car service pickup.
I went down first, tracing mneme
by the lights going off. I saw one go back on and correctly guessed when mneme arrived that he hadn't turned it back off. I rectified that, and we went off to the airport. We were both randomly selected to be Pre, which made the security check point go fsster.
We did a steak and eggs breakfast, then went to our gate. Seats were assigned an hour before take off, but the woman at the desk was able to seat us together. We dozed, thenboarded, along with other gamers, then promptly fell asleep.
The plane landed and we reclaimed our luggage. We went to the bus stop, but the bus is no longer a secret. A local and two expresses quickly filled, so we split a cab witth one of the vendors. We got badges and event tickets, made the adjustments we wanted--and, sadly, lost mneme's black hat. We got coupon books and messenger bags, and we checked in to our room. Then, we made a reservation at Ruth's Chris and took a short nap.
Dinner was wonderful. We also got bread from Panera and Powerade, pens, mints, and distilled water for the portable humidifier. On the way nack, we heard the night's music from a couple of blocks away.
We are back inside. We need sleep, shower, and breakfast before our first game, which is at 10am tomorrow.
|Saturday, July 25th, 2015|
As always, it's an interesting call about what "counts" as a book, and I'm not always consistent.( Collapse )
|Does Anyone Else Do This?
It doesn't happen often, just twice since I've been owning a cell phone. Someone made a legitimate business call, leaving me a message. The only problem was that I was not the person that someone was trying to reach.
Both times, I called the number back to explain this. I have enough minutes, and I figured that, in both cases, the person expecting that call really wanted to get it. I'm just curious -- does anyone else do this? Has this happened to any of you?
|Friday, June 12th, 2015|
Last night, I recognized a wave of happiness as we were walking from Salt and Fat to our place with the rest of the Young Centurions playtest group, as folks had kindly agreed to move the session there. It was hot, and I do not particularly like hot weather. But, I was happy.
The playtest actually ended some time ago, but I was informed that I would still be running it. We wrapped the game as planned, with fine over-the-top action, solar death rays, and pulling the hat over the villain's eyes.
Salt and Fat is an unusual restaurant, serving basically tapas dishes of delicious food that does indeed have salt and fat in it.
I've finished reviewing the manuscript for Golden Goblin's De Horrore Cosmico
, a collection of scenarios for Cthulhu Invictus. The spreadsheet of corrections has been sent to layout, and a couple of specific corrections sent to the people who need to do those.The Alexandrian Remix of Eternal Lies
has updated, covering one of the trickiest parts of the campaign. I am in awe.
Still dealing with waves and jitters, and will be for some time. We are taking things slowly.