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April 30, 2005

Version Update

The Staircase is keeping up with the times in its usual kinda-just-behind-the-times fashion and jumping to MT 3.16.

Among other things that really aren't very obvious (not even to me, yet), this means comments will have to come though TypeKey. Sorry for the bother, but spammers don't take a blacklist, no-follow futility, and rapid deletion for the fairly obvious clue it is.

Anything seems weird, let me know! Not sure how quickly I'll manage to fix it, but it's best if I know.

Posted by ghoul at 05:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

Alternate Futures

So, there's really two things that could happen next Thursday. Okay, strictly speaking, millions of things, but only two big groups of things each with countless sub-variants.

1) I could go down to Boston after work, meet up with some friends, eat really good food, then drive home at a reasonable hour for getting to work on Friday.

2) I could go down to Boston after work, meet up with some friends, eat really good food, then I could get lucky, wrangle a reasonably priced ticket, and so go see a gotta-be-way-cool-movie with those friends, then drive home at a very unreasonable hour, at least as far as getting to work on Friday goes.

Right now, I'm not even going to be setting odds. The only good thing is that (1) isn't really all that bad. It's just that (2) would be much, much better. I suspect it may come down to how much I'm wiling to shell out. I've seen as much as $500 offered... I will not be matching anything like that.

Posted by ghoul at 07:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gimme That Old Time Religion

Or, for a title that works best when seen by Order of the Sticks fans, "WWTD"?

ID Done Right

(via ***Dave)

Posted by ghoul at 03:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

Taking the Sky? Not Gonna Happen

It's Here!

Now it's just... hmm... counting... five months until we can see the whole thing!

Five... long... months...

[Added the next morning...]

Or, perhaps not...

Anyone else free next thursday?

And, in case you're reading this and don't get all the fuss (and just who are you?), get yourself caught up here...

"Firefly - The Complete Series"

Posted by ghoul at 04:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 17, 2005

Spring Milage for Real

During the drive down to my monthly D&D game, I tripped back up to 44.8 on the MPG display. It happened around 37,686 on the odometer, which does mean that I haven't really been driving much in the last month (barely 300 miles total since the 3/16 downtick). It also means spring is here for real!

OK, the fact that it's 77 outside right now here in Concord also suggests that, but the milage is more important, particularly with today's gas prices.

Posted by ghoul at 02:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2005

AmberCon Report

I'm back from Livonia and AmberCon 2005. There were no reports from on-site due to internet access problems (for the scant free time I'd scheduled myself, it wasn't worth the hotel's price), to said scant free time made scanter by illness/general discomfort which I now blame on the water (next year, bottled all the way), and to an unexpected expiration of this domain. All are better now.

Travel to and from the con the recurrent minor misery that is US Air, with an hour lost on ridiculous luggage issues on the way out and five hours wasted on the way back due to a complete inability to crew their planes (mine was among 10 delayed or canceled flights in the period at just my one gate, all due to one co-pilot calling in sick, if we can believe the excuse given).

But, the good news is I'm home, so I can do some AmberCon reporting!

Slot 1 was my go at playing a new non-Amber game at Ambercon as Tymen vanDyk ran Dust Devils with a bit of the old Amber cross-over spirit (the PCs were hired to step into a feud between easily-recognized Amber elders or near shadows of the same). We were interestingly short on gunmen (one of the players making their character on-site more than made up for that), but we had an interesting time arranging a nice little double-cross then trumping the attempt to turn it back onto us. Lots of violence, more than a bit of untrustworthiness, and several character's Devils coming out at both the right and wrong time. In fact, I ran out on the other PCs just before their moment of triumph thanks to the impact of mine. The players weren't quite shifted from "statement of intent" to "statement of objective" in setting up the conflicts, but Tymen did a good job making it all work out and the distributed power of narration caught on quite well.

Slots 2 and 3 were my GMing time. First, thanks to me getting them wrong when I submitted them, came Nine Lives in Amber, my Cats game which I'll not describe so I can keep it ready to run again at The Black Road in June. It went well, though I quickly learned that dice are needed with the way characters are set up in that game. A few "roll successes forward" concepts borrowed from Sorcerer on the fly and it went quite well. Nine Princes in High School had a low player count for the way I run Teenagers from Outer Space, but I made up for it by using a classic sort of plot, PCs versus slightly-improved duplicates. One of the characters let me pin the blame on him (I didn't care who was responsible), while the others all offered lots of chances to be silly and mimic their character in humorous ways. Fun was had.

Slot 4 was my ShadowWorld Mainline game for the con and my chance to find out just how messed up my PC, Stella Child (aka Starchild), had managed to become thanks to some things I'd been doing on the forums with two other players (doings that involve death, confrontation with countless horrific foes, merger into one body with three not-quite-distinct minds, more confrontation with unimaginably powerful beings, and a not very certain attempt to re-separate into three people). Turns out, quite a lot. My two original powers are now significantly more disadvantage-laden and I've picked up a long list of powers duplicated from the others (with specific quirks based on just how we answered some questions from the GM... sometimes quite literally). Their sheets were likewise affected. No time to wonder what it all meant, though, as we were given a chance to pick our own favored mission from a list of outstanding items and, being the high-firepower team (dunno exactly how Starchild ended up there, though it did feature several regular teammates), we went for a hard kill option on a very nasty subject (a buried god, which shows the sort of confidence we had in that firepower). Starchild managed to keep her head together despite another unexpected contact during a precog vision (this one asked her questions... she's really in no state to answer while viewing the future!) and some very unexpected manifestations of her new powers. For example, while still not a direct threat, she's certainly got some seriously combat-useful abilities now. As is par of the ShadowWorld set, the mission got far, far out of hand and some major-league powers had to be called on to save us when our target turned out to be two. I was among the few not seriously (or mortally... temporarily thanks to the high-powered Healer on the team) wounded during the knock-down-drag-out finale, and I managed to stand within shouting distance of the Queen of the Fey without her deciding to kill me, which I have to consider a win (given that she has good reason to want me dead, from what happened at AmberCon North last fall). Gail, John, and Stella now have a lot of issues to explain to one another, and I've got two or three things I want to deal with for other PCs in the near future as well, and pretty much none of the looming threats were dealt with. This went VERY late and I was already starting to feel sick (that had come upon me during dinner just before this slot), so the very late end and early morning the next day had me very wobbly. Still, I wouldn't miss a ShadowWorld game for any reason!

Slot 5 was worth getting up for as well. Simone Cooper followed up last year's amazing Undertow with just as good a game this time around! GMs again nearly outnumbered players as she recruited some great talent to offer us faces for most of the surviving Elders. My PC's father had a new player this year, but the tension of the relationship remained and, if anything, deepened. Especially when, unknowingly, I asked him if it was all right to have him killed in order to make my plan go forward. The fact that he agreed without explaining just what he'd been asked for shows something, but I'm not quite sure what. Anyway, I spent much of my extended flight home writing a diary for this game, which can be found here.

I skipped slot 6 in order to try to get back to reasonable health and get enough sleep. Rain (who plays Gail, part of the ShadowWorld character merging mentioned above) showed up and we compared notes of just how messed up our ShadowWorld characters now are, and just how complicated their not-quite-started relationship is now that they have an Empathic link that can reach all the way around the world. Wendi and Sean also showed up with Ian (I was sharing a room with Ian and JP) and we had a nice, quiet chat for a while. I did miss the game I was schedule for (though I understand my PC was run with great effect by another player, so the game did not suffer), but had a good time chatting with the three non-attendees who had slipped in and even got to sleep before midnight (far, far from the norm at AmberCon).

Sunday AM was the Guardians of Order ADRP Forum, which I report on here.

Slot 7 saw chapter two of Mike Manolakes's Nine Princes in Shadow series, this time on "Eric's Earth". In fact, the scenario was one he'd run at ACN under the name "The Zelazney Code". Fun was had trying to work out the clues, avoid the red herrings, and work out the puzzle before it crashed on top of us. We followed one wild goose and took a long time to work out one clue (harmed by my character's anti-cell-phone paranoia, which kept the GM from calling us with his "get back on track" NPC hints). Lots of interesting role-play and in-character puzzle solving. Plus how many RPG sessions are there where a character in the game decides they need to call on an expert and, out of the blue, picks one of my college roommates. who I didn't even realize he knew. I barely avoided becoming an NPC in the game myself!

Slot 8 and it's back to ShadowWorld, if the WWII version this time. Meyer is a lot less conflicted and messed up than Starchild, though if missions keep going like this one, that won't last. We dropped into Greece to disrupt Nazi shipments of archeological treasures to Austria, only to find these treasures had among them some items of unusual power. In the end, we brought a salt mine down on a huge pile of similarly odd treasures and the SS folk who were trying to use them. This is the second time Meyer has brought a cave down with himself inside it, and he's learning to not like it much, though it is a very good use of his power to control earth and water by whistling or humming big-band music (yeah, it's a very odd power). This mission was capped by an ugly intra-party conflict over the disposition of one of the PCs, who may just be the trigger for the end of the world. Meyer was unconvinced except that people who seemed to know were all very worried and he knew this PC wasn't exactly known for self-discipline. In the end, a compromise was reached so no one died, but a lot of anger was vented and nothing was necessarily solved. Meyer really, really wants to get the Germans dealt with so he can go back to farming, but it's only late 1941 so I know he's got a lot of work still to do.

There wasn't nearly enough time to talk to everyone, play in all the games, and just be with folks. Four days just isn't enough (particularly when you're feeling poorly). TBR won't come soon enough!

Posted by ghoul at 06:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Tales of Woe (and Ambercon 2005) will be posted shortly.

For now, a webcomic link.

Posted by ghoul at 06:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack