Archive for Writing

Forty Four

-The atomic number of ruthenium (which is very pretty)

-The code for international direct dial phone calls to the United Kingdom

-Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC

-Wu Han died in 44AD

-Gary Busey was born in 1944

Yesterday marked the forty fourth anniversary of my entry, in approximately this form, into what we perceive as this state of existence.

It is an arbitrary date to use. A theoretical shift forward on the scoreboard of life… But I suppose it will do.

The day itself was not terribly remarkable. I woke up in a borrowed house and had a pleasant morning. I took a relatively luxurious shower and had plenty of time to settle into the harsh reality I call “being awake.” I had to work and it was a later shift so there was no time for any particularly fun activities… But work passed quickly enough and afterwards I was treated to a lovely Thai dinner. Cake and presents happened the night before, so all told the rituals were pleasantly observed.

So this leaves me thinking about the significance of passing this particular milestone set to the side of linear time.

That nasty little voice hiding somewhere behind my eyes would love to endlessly recount all of my many failings and dissapointments. I am increasingly finding that voice to be incredibly dull however, so it can go cheerfully fuck itself raw for a bit. It is a lot more interesting to look at where I currently am, where I want to be, and what tools I have to deal with the obstacles in my way (both internal and external).

This was supposed to be the year of “getting some stuff done.” Instead it was the year of recovering from disaster and wallowing a little in the comforting embrace of depression who loves me and is always there when I need it… Depression is also very boring and can fuck itself raw.

So this year will be a year of getting a few things done and knocking down a lot of obstacles so that I can get even more done. It had an OK start and is sitting in a bit of a swamp, but I am thinking it’s going to be a pretty satisfying tick forward on the arbitrary scoreboard and quite a few ticks forward on some much more interesting scoreboards. 

D&D and me part 6: My New Dice

Previously I talked about the loss of my special dice and how I had never since had a set that I really cared about.

for all these years my dice have been a semi-disposable tool, a means to an end that I enjoyed but never really connected with. I bought them in bulk and used whatever fell to hand. I didn’t love them.

a couple days ago my holiday present to myself arrived… And I have learned to love again.

image

After a long search I found these guys at DnD Dice at a very reasonable price. They are a good size, very heavy aluminum, and despite a few nicks and flaws that I forgive utterly, very well machined. The D4 might be one of the deadliest things I own, I dearly hope I never step on it.

My only criticism of these is a personal one rather than a practical one, and again it is utterly forgivable.

On many dice a small dot or underline is used to show the difference between a 6 and a 9. This makes perfect sense of course… Unless it is on a D6… Where it the only way to roll a 9 is to tear reality as we know it asunder and fling your die into some non-euclidean dimension where a solid shape can have a variable number of sides.

Other than that, I love them!

D&D & Me part 5: Dice Magic

Dice have had giant buckets of ritual, ceremony, and superstition since before there were dice. I have no doubt that cave-men were blowing on their knucklebones before tossing them into a circle of goat entrails and that roman soldiers were rubbing their dice on whoever was winning to pick up some of their luck.

Gamers are no different and despite the fact that many gamers are rational people who understand things like probability and the most basic physics of tossing a geometric shape onto a hard surface, we have created a whole lot of our own.

Here are a few I have personally witnessed:

Priming new dice by rolling them with the old ones… Sort of an initiation to your collection.

Never mixing new dice with old… I’m not sure when new dice become sufficiently old to join the general population.

Only use dice for their particular game… Never use your D&D dice when playing GURPS.

Never letting these sets of dice see each-other in case they got jealous.

Placing dice with the most desired result face up and keeping them that way until the roll.

Placing dice with the worst possible result face up and keeping them that way until the roll.

Rolling dice for ‘practice’ before playing.

Not rolling dice when not needed so you don’t use up the good rolls.

Rolling the dice a whole lot pre-game to use up the bad rolls.

Switching to new dice when one is rolling poorly.

Removing dice from your collection when they roll bad so they don’t infect the rest.

Not letting anyone touch your dice.

Making someone else use dice that are rolling poorly so they change their luck.

Buying a new set for each new campaign.

Keeping sets of dice for different purposes within the game… one set to roll stats, one set to make attack rolls, maybe even a specific die for a specific skill roll.

Rolling different dice of the same type to select the ones that roll best for that nights session.

Destroying poorly performing dice in front of the rest as an example… I knew one person who had a special sledgehammer specifically for this purpose.

Pleading with your dice while shaking them.

Threatening your dice while shaking them.

Kissing or blowing on the dice before each roll.

Having a pretty girl/boy kiss them.

I even knew one person who convinced a priest to bless his dice, no mean feat in the 80s when a lot of people thought that D&D equated murdering your friends while worshiping Satan in storm drains.

I had one superstition I tried to get started at one point, but it never got much traction… Touching your dice to a published game designer, the bigger a game line the better your dice would do. This may or may not have resulted in one or two people tagging Gary Gygax at conventions. I had managed Mike Pondsmith myself.

In short; People are crazy, gamers are people, therefore gamers are crazy.

D&D & Me part 4: First Games

As promised in Part 1.

My first tastes of Dungeons and Dragons (aside from puzzling through the rules and stumbling through making a couple of characters) was in a solo game run by my friend Wolfgang. We sat down and I made a character, a fairly basic fighter as I remember, I have no recollection of his name at all. I entered the dungeon with no plot and walked through a series of rooms, each full of treasure which I had my character put in his backpack with no regard for basic physics. At the end of these rooms was a staircase down. Wolf had me roll a die, whatever I rolled was not good enough as my character fell down the stairs and died.

The end.

This was not entirely satisfying, I strongly suspect Wolf’s understanding of the concepts involved were about as rudimentary as Mine was.

The next try was with Wolf again, as well as our friend Noah and at least one other person. I am pretty sure this took place at Noah’s house, but it may have been Wolfgang’s, it’s a touch hazy. I do know that we were now using Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, bigger books, more stuff, very exciting. I think the person running it was someone I did not know well but that had run games for the rest of the players before.

I rolled up a Bard (name also lost to the mists of time) and we began in a town. This time I got to roleplay doing a little shopping and purchasing a bit of meat on a stick and some pastries. This was much more satisfying. But the rest of the players pushed on to the matter at hand and we headed off to murder Tiamat… a foe a touch more than a match for a group of first level characters. We had been given some artifact level magic items though and I, at least, didn’t know any better so off we went.

The encounter consisted of us throwing a magic item that turned into a giant iron tower when the command was spoken. Mid air we shouted the command and the tower landed on Tiamat’s tail.

A pissed off dragon god then turned us to a fine red mist.

The End.

Still not terribly satisfying, but I was starting to get it. Reading the rules (AD&D now) made a lot more sense and between this experience and what I read in Dragon Magazine I could see the experience I wanted out of this mysterious world I had stepped into.

It was right about this time that Wolf and Noah and, well, pretty much everyone else I knew suddenly reached a point in their lives where they needed someone to pick on. I was a pretty weird kid and fit that bill nicely. It was the last game I played for a while.

Poignant memory that should go in any movie made of my life: School field trip, the last one of whatever grade I was in and at one of those “important” shift between grade levels that always bewildered me. All the D&D kids at one table playing, and me at a table nearby with my books rolling up characters I would never use. I find this memory equal parts horrifying and hilarious.

Other poignant memory that should go in any movie made of my life: Halloween, We all dressed up as an adventuring party. I made armor out of cardboard. We gathered at my house where I was promptly ditched and wandered around alone the rest of the night. This one is less hilarious.

All was not quite so gloomy however! Next time I will talk about my other life 200 miles away where lots of gaming started to happen.

The Blue Orchid : NaNoWriMo 2014 A Win!

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Not done with the book, but done with the month!

I am mighty!

My fingers hurt.

The Blue Orchid : NaNoWriMo 2014 part 6

All right… It’s a touch after four thirty PM, I have seven and a half hours to go and four thousand words till I hit fifty thousand.

Do or die time!

I am not going to finish the book in fifty thousand words, which is fine, I can keep working at a less frantic pace for a while until I finish, but I neeeeeeed to hit fifty thousand tonight!

Quick process note: I have abandoned my spreadsheet, I am not sure if that is helping or hindering me right now, but I’m trying to do less obsessive metric monitoring and more writing.

Now I’m off to write all the words. Wish me luck, see you on the other side!

D&D & Me part 3: A New Campaign

In the midst of the insanity of the oncoming winter and NaNoWriMo and work and life I have begun a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign with the shiny new 5th edition rules (Which I like quite a lot, more on that another time).

I am working on a Wiki that will detail the world as it develops. I’ll link to it next time.

The first two games were very heavily weighted with character creation and development and introduction, but enough actual play occurred to get some very interesting plot rolling. I’m feeling creative in a way that I haven’t felt in a couple of years and that makes me very happy.

The players are an interesting mix. Three of them are from work, a fourth is a friend of theirs who plays board and computer games and wanted to see what this was like, and the fifth is one of the first three players father.

The new player has been giving it a chance but is not terribly into it. I have been trying to keep him engaged but he’s not in love with the format of the game and is likely going to bow out. I suspect he might actually have enjoyed 4th edition more, the plot and character stuff does not seem to interest him as much as tactical combat… which is perfectly fair.

The Father and Son duo are who I want to talk about right now. Both are kind of dream players to have in a sandbox game of this sort. They develop deep backgrounds to their players, are very interested in the world and their place in it, and are just as happy or more interacting with the townspeople as they are bashing goblin heads in.

Also: The father worked for TSR, Pacesetter, and Mayfair games. He wrote and designed for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Chill, Star Ace, Gangbusters, and Marvel Superheroes. He also designed Wabbit Wampage which I used to sell.

He is one of the people responsible for how the hobby I love took shape and has played with many of the greats…

Was I  touch intimidated going into that session? Yes I was.

Did he say that I was a fantastic DM, better than most of the people he used to play with back at TSR? Maaaaaaybe.

Am I feeling kind of badass at the moment? Yes.

The Blue Orchid : NaNoWriMo 2014 part 5

Weeks later…

Several really bad days (and days with other things going on) have me at 26024 words. Over halfway done but 3976 words behind schedule. My average words per minute is hanging around 14 which is not fantastic. Two or three really good days will get me back ahead of the game, I’m feeling confident.

I seem to work best when I’m alone at a cafe, barring that somewhere with minimal distraction. This is probably a painfully obvious statement.

The Blue Orchid : NaNoWriMo 2014 part 4

With a terrible three days I have fallen a bit behind. I wrote just a few hundred words on Wednesday since I was mostly getting ready for the game. The next two days were also a bit busy and I barely got any writing done. 269 on Wednesday, 729 on Thursday, and 655 on Friday brought me to a total of 9003 which was 2663 words behind my goal. My words per minute fell to a low of 8.9 as well, the brain juices were not flowing.

Saturday I woke up early and bashed out as many words as I could. The story started flowing again and A couple of characters got introduced. I managed to get out a few paragraphs on my break at work as well, and then got in an hour or so when I got home (after watching Constantine with my sweetie.) 2351 words got squeezed out of my head bringing me to 11354.

So now I’m 1979 words behind, just  a bit more than a full day. That is fixable. My words per minute jumped up to 15.67 which is a lot more like it! I am now 22.71% of the way done. I have also almost gotten to the part of the book where I stop leaping around in time and get to the main story. That should be fun!

The Blue Orchid : NaNoWriMo 2014 part 3

Monday was disappointing at just shy of 1300 words. My reserve dropped to 35 words but my words per minute stayed about even. In my defense It was an early morning for me and then I spent most of the late afternoon doing laundry. I had gathered a great deal of clothes from every nook and cranny of my place and added in a bunch of stuff that I had in bags and boxes that were getting nasty and musty due to the mold factory I life in. Also I tossed in a bunch of towels and rags and a comforter that had been fouled by cat quite some time ago. At the laundromat I was using seven machines at once which was a little satisfying for some reason.

Today, however I had a great run while hanging out at the rainbow cafe which has a great atmosphere, good coffee, and precious little doughnuts that cost more than one really wants to spend on a doughnut but are entirely delicious. Between that, a few words squeezed out while running around and doing errands, and a nice run tonight I am at 7350 words!

That’s 2315 today for those keeping score (just me? yeah I thought so) which is 138% of my daily goal. I am at 14.7% of the whole book with a 638 word surplus going into tomorrow which is mostly going to be all about Dungeons & Dragons and I’ll be lucky to stay even.

The book now happens at two different times and spans two continents. I keep forgetting my main characters name (and he’s using three aliases at this point which is -not- helping) and have two or three maguffins I am going to have to remember to explain later. Nobody has died so far that didn’t deserve it.