*snores* What?

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and my head is a mess. I’m over tired, and kinda fried. I took the first sleeping pill I got from one of my doctors Friday night and I’m glad I waited till then, as it wiped me out most of Saturday. I’d been looking forward to Saturday night, in which I was going with Godson, Age 10 and his mother to see Alice Cooper, the boy’s first rock show. Well, unless you count the Wiggles gigs he saw as a nipper. Things did not start well, as owing to a spectacular 3-way stuff up between myself, Sydney Buses and Google Maps, things got so cocked up travel wise so we missed the first support act, the MC50, who I’d dearly wanted to see and I raced in to catch Airborne’s final song.

sleeping cat

Fortunately, Alice helped make up for that, with he and his band putting on a cracker of a show. Things kicked off with Feed my Frankenstein, and it was on for young and old. (Also, the makeup of the audience). Alice prowled the stage, as his guitarists hurled themselves around and the drummer had a fine knack for twirling and hurling his sticks around. A hapless young teen was butchered by Jason Voorhees during He’s Back and I’m Eighteen is still one of the most perfect pieces of teen angst ever put to tape, one that hits me as hard at 39 as it did at 18.

The solos, while more than technically proficient, left me a bit cold, as with every twirl or throw of a drumstick I couldn’t help but think ‘Will this be the time he drops one?’ A confetti cannon blasted cash in the air during Billion Dollar Babies, and it wouldn’t be an Alice set with him being murdered somehow, this time by Madame Guillotine. it winds up with a short encore of Department of Youth and School’s Out, with a large section of the audience racing for the gents seconds afterwards, if the queue where I was was any indication. As one fellow in the queue noted “It’s an ageing rock crowd and a prostate issue.”

We made our way outside just as Queen were working through Bohemian Rhapsody next door, and it’s a testament to both the power of that song and Wayne’s World based nostalgia that it immediately summoned an impromptu singalong and air guitar from the crowd. Mercifully, the train ride home was far speedier than getting there, so all ended well. Both Godson and his mother enjoyed the show, which was pleasing. You’ll have to survive without photos, as being up in the nosebleeds meant mine are blurry as hell.

Friday night was spent at the theater with my wife, watching the Complete Works of Shakespeare. It was a Valentine surprise, that I’d worked to keep. I was told a few weeks ago that she had plans, and that I would like them, and despite a couple of offers to let me know, I elected to keep the surprise. I adore that show, for the sheer lunacy and jokes like “Titus Andronicus, the cooking show!” I continue to be glad I managed to avoid being dragged on stage. A glorious night, and well worth catching if you can.

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Outside that, the LARP angst has continued. Well, less angst and more indecision. The torment of so many options and a deadline creeping up on me. Every-time I think I’ve made a decision, the brain reminds me of other options, in it’s usual distracting fashion. Also, having started to learn rapier has me wanting to carry one, and I hadn’t initially planned on that. Fortunately, I own a LARP one, along with a suitable baldric, so that’s one problem sorted. One the bright side, I’ve submitted to Pheno, so *fingers crossed* Now I just have to endure the wait will late April/early May when I find out if I’m successful.

Be seeing you…

Can’t sleep, so writing.

It’s another night of ‘Oh Gods, I can’t sleep’, or in the words of Lemmy, ‘I should be tired, but all I am is wired’ so here goes.

The brain is a bit wonky. The heat has subsided somewhat, mercifully. Having a tooth pulled on Saturday wasn’t fun, though the dentist staff were bloody lovely, both when I charged in looking like a drowned rat and apologizing profusely for accidentally pulling at my beard. The recovery hasn’t been too bad, thankfully, though the mouth ulcer on the same side of my mouth as the removed tooth was remarkably ill-timed. Also, my wife has let me nap a lot, which is lovely. She’s the best.

Phenomenon submissions have opened, and I hope to have mine done this week, for my Babylon 5 freeform. It’s more than a bit nerve wracking, because I think it’s a solid idea for a game, and I really don’t want to screw it up. I love the B5 universe and while I’m wary of what players could do to it, I really want to see what happens. It’s a problem I have when running games for settings I love, in that I have a vision of that setting and don’t like it when it’s fucked with, so we’ll see what happens there. The game’s set in a time of the show basically untouched by canon, which should help. I’m quietly confident, but it’s pretty different from the last two games I’ve submitted, so I’m not treating it as a lock.

Council
In Valen’s Name…

Alas, and with much sadness, Good Society was cancelled owing to low ticket sales. I’m more than a bit sad about that one, as I was really looking forward to getting my Firth on. Or, as my wife put it, “It’s a romance game based around manners, that’s exactly your jam.” Politeness is one of my things, to say the least. I joke when queried that ‘You’ve not met my mother, you don’t know the level of polite to which I was raised’, and it’s frequently hilarious when friends meet her and discover just how intensely I mean that. She’s a saint.

 

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If only there had been a pool at the venue…

The prep for Blackpowder and Bloodlines continues, and it’s mostly been flailing. The old standbys of ‘Hey, here’s other character ideas’ and ‘Look at all those beautiful costumes, can you possibly match that standard?’ crawled into my head late last night and refused to leave. It’s not that I haven’t found kit that fits the character idea, it’s just been a spate of overthinking whether it matches the costume brief and of it either being horribly expensive or cheap as shit. (Wish, I’m looking in your direction… And while we’re talking, could you please stop recommending me sex toys?)

There was a few minutes early this morning I was tempted to go ‘Oh hang it all, I’ll just play a musketeer and be young and stupid’, or any of the myriad other ideas I’ve had for the game. I at least know what nation I’m from, so that helps narrow things down a bit. It’s much the same problem I have when game writing, especially a month or two out from the convention, when I get enough ideas for the next 3 conventions. I’m pretty sure that’s where the Ewok game came from though, so sometimes good comes from it.

Sure, I’ve a pile of leather scraps I’ve been tempted to try and turn into a half cape (They were originally purchased for an Orcish war skirt) and that’s an option. My wife’s holding a craft day this weekend, so I could certainly look into it. I should be able to drape it over the back quiver I have and not have it affect my shooting, I hope. In other options, the signet ring I was after is now out of stock in my size and while I’ve found either a vest or jerkin that I think will work, my over thinking and budget concerns has me doubting things. Or do I go for a short sleeve gambeson instead? Stupid brain. Also, said brain continues to insist that the my character idea is dumb and mostly pinched from Aragorn. Stupid anxiety. And I still can’t find a shirt or tunic I like that doesn’t have giant billowy sleeves. Harrumph.

For those who came in late, the character idea is thus: A noble scion who’s next in line for the family fortune, but who’s siblings are getting somewhat aggressive about getting the cash. To the point of sending assassins. Therefore, he’s journeyed to the New World, under the pretext of trophy hunting, slightly incognito (Hence the fancy signet ring that’ll easily identify him to any would-be assassins – what’s the use of a secret if it doesn’t leak?) till things cool down. I’ve a reason to be there, something to do, and something that’ll cause complications. I think that’s a good start.

I should probably start putting all the possible kit for the game in one place (I know I still own the pants I was going to wear, having previously worn them at my wedding), but I should check they still fit properly. Quitting sugar has taken a surprising amount of weight from my waistline, and according to my wife I’m still shrinking.

I’m gonna sign off and try and sleep again. Before you think it’s all angst and horror, there’s some genuinely good news to report: I’m seeing Alice Cooper Saturday night, Faith No More are touring soon and there’s a new Testament album incoming, though I still need to get a ticket to Download. But looming above all things, is an event I’m looking forward to almost as much as my anniversary – it’s under 3 months till Iron Maiden! *air guitar solo*

More to come. Be seeing you.

Plots, plans and play.

So, there’s been a burst of creativity, or attempting to document things more. So, here goes. For those seeking an update, the brain hasn’t been so great, but seems to be on an upward tick. Whether that’s due to the slightly lower temperature, or that I’ve started learning at another sword class (Italian rapier at Drummoyne, for those curious). My Saturday’s are jam packed with stuff, so Tuesday was the only option, and rapier means I can swash my buckle, if you know what I mean…

I also scored a copy of S2 of Britannia from work, which means come payday I’ll be grabbing S1. it looks an interesting show, but I’m a sucker for Roman era Britain, in particular north of the wall. (You can blame Robert E Howard for that) There was a brief thought of trying to write an event in that time period, even before watching the show (My enthusiasm can get the better of me from time to time), but let’s be honest, it’d be little more than an excuse to mention a certain as yet unconquered village in Gaul. *

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The Blackpowder and Bloodlines prep has continued, mostly in my head. The over thinking about props and costume hasn’t stopped, with such important questions as ‘Does that fit the costume brief?’ and ‘Do I want a tomahawk?’ rattling round the head. I’m firming up on my characters back story and why I’ve come to the New World. Also, I had an excuse to re-watch Brotherhood of the Wolf, both for inspiration and cause it’s a beautiful (and utterly bonkers) film. On the other side, if you’re curious about playing the Good Society LARP, then you have till the 8th to buy a ticket – that’s the cut off date to decide if the GM’s will run the event, or even just the NSW session, which my wife is planning to attend (She’s on stage the night of the Brisbane session, so I’ll be flying solo if it runs). So, hurry up and GET YOUR AUSTEN ON PEOPLE**.

We had session 1 of the new Star Wars game last week, and things are starting to come together. I’ve still not quite got my characters personality down pat yet, but it normally takes me a few sessions to properly gel. Our GM has asked us for some background info to work with the module he’s running, so that’ll give me a chance to come up with more links. And it was fun, which is the important thing. Looking forward to the next session.

More to follow. Be seeing you…

*I made a gourd of Getafix’s magic potion the McGuffin in a game a few years ago, and while disturbingly few people got the reference, one person nearly falling off a chair with laughter made it all worthwhile. Thanks Massive Q!
** I have been informed by my wife that I must now actually know something about Jane Austen, in book or movie form. I have also been told that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies doesn’t count.

What do I want?

A lot of this was drafted in my head as I was trying to sleep last night, so hopefully you’ll forgive me if this is a little incoherent. First off: between the heat and my head, that recent high has dropped somewhat. Natural and soon to pass I hope, but it’s not been great in the brain. To make matters worse, Skindred had to cancel their tour for reasons still unknown. On the bright side, they’ve promised to be back before the end of the year, and will hopefully be here when I don’t have much on, and thus give me something to look forward to in the last half of the year. so there’s a silver lining.

And to the point of why I’m writing. We’re nearing the end of a Changeling: The Lost campaign in which the fate of Paris seems to be in our hands. The city of love (and Death!) is in a lot of trouble. We found ourselves running into a lot of investigative walls, or more than it seemed, and that had me distracted, more so than normal.

After the session my wife, having noticed my distraction, asked me exactly what was it I like doing in RPG’s and I was kinda stumped. I mean, I know why I game, sure. When I discovered gaming it was combat, a stage I imagine most gamer’s go through. There’s a certain joy to finding you have power when before you’ve had none, of being able to write the wrongs, of spending time in a universe where the good guys can actually win. Also, the adolescent power fantasy aspect – being a scrawny and awkward kid when I discovered the hobby, the appeal of being able to be someone mighty and powerful has never quite left me, no matter how old I get. It’s the same sort of thing that’s kept me in love with Iron Maiden all these years, and long may it remain so. (The Dwarf was always my favorite character in Golden Axe)

Nowadays, I’m not so sure. I mean, I know why I do it. There’s the story telling, comradeship and camaraderie and escapism – all very big things. I run games to see people react to an idea I’ve had and run with it in ways I could barely imagine. To entertain, and amuse, for a few hours at a time to take them away from the horrors of the mundane world and to have fun. That means a hell of a lot to me, possibly more than it should. But my attachment to that is probably something I should discuss more with my therapist.

So, what do I get out of playing? I’m not great at talking, power and the spotlight generally unnerves me, my dice curse hampers my effectiveness in combat, and my knack for building characters focused on background rather than mechanics frequently doesn’t help either. I don’t have the patience for long term planning, frequently forget what my character’s abilities are and my innate niceness tends to get in the way of playing any sort of evil or backstabby persona. Sure, there was that stretch of con freeforms in the early 2000’s where I spent half the game under a table screaming at people who came too close, but I’m not sure that counts.

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And need to hear the lamentation of the salads…

So, what’s the appeal? What do I want?* I’m still not sure, so I’m going to do something I rarely do, and look to myself. What I get a real kick out of is helping people. Yes, it’s always been there, but working retail and conventions the last few years has helped that along quite a bit. The feeling I get when asking “How can I help you?” or getting to say something like “I love this thing, how can I convince you to buy it?**” is what I believe is called ‘sparking joy.’

So, games. I’m not great at being the face, though I do like some power in the decision making process. If you want the party to survive I probably shouldn’t be at the front line, or be the tactical lynch pin (Depend on my dice and you’ll likely carry some scars), so what does that leave me? I looked inward, and thought, I’d like to try being the teams heart. the one who patches them up, or who keeps them going., whether through motivation, song or sheer irritation. My two stock characters are ‘well meaning but dumb noble’ or ‘world weary and with terrible luck’, but I think it’s time to experiment.

The gaming table should be a safe space where I can experiment with things that I’m terrible at in real life, like having an ego and putting myself forward for things. There’s two campaigns that are starting soon that I’m hoping to put this process into. One’s a bronze age sword and sorcery campaign and the idea that’s stuck with me the most is a young and cheerful Dwarf, fascinated by new things and who sings a lot, so that’s a decent start, I hope. Regular readers will know ideas aren’t the problem for me, but narrowing them down to the useful ones is the issue. Also follow through. And self deprecation. Moving on…

The other’s a Star Wars campaign set roughly 5 years after the Battle of Endor. We’re a group of not exactly law abiding folk, aboard a ship affectionately known as the Crimson Fucker. In that, I’m playing a retired Clone Trooper, specifically a pilot. Mostly of atmospheric craft, owing to not wanting to step on other player’s toes and so everyone has their thing, but more a support role. I’m planning to play the character like a badass grandpa, and am plotting war stories that I can recite at random moments, ala Kup in Transformers: The Movie.

Hopefully I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this experiment. Be seeing you…

* I think we know what the obvious answer to that is…
**Look, everybody should own Pandemic. It’s the rules.

Blackpowder ahoy!

So, I’m not going to talk about my brain goblins today! Instead, I’m going to start detailing my prep for Blackpowder and Bloodlines. If you aren’t keen on LARP talk, this may not be for you.

I’ve paid a deposit for the ticket, so I’m in. I’m incredibly excited about the game, and slightly terrified of the standard of player costume, having seen the most recent batch of photos. It’s damned impressive, and I’m nervous as hell about matching it.

Granted, my usual ‘too many ideas, too few games’ problem has started to rear it’s head, but I’ve talked about my current idea so with the folks I’m heading down with, I’m sticking with it. We’re a small group of mostly explorer types who’ve arrived at the game’s location for a variety of reasons

Here’s what I’ve got so far.
CONCEPT: Big Game Hunter.
HISTORY: Most of it is still being written. The first part is that I’ve journeyed to the new world to find a huge beastie, kill it and bring back it’s head to mount on the wall. Also, I’m next in line for the family fortune/title, and those behind me in the queue are getting a mite aggressive about it.
WEAPONS: Bow, arrows, quiver and knife. Got it. I might add a sword, but that depends on how much kit I’m carrying.
COSTUME: Drab, greens and browns, ranger-esque kit. I’m hoping to add some flair to it, in the form of a signet ring and a dark blue sash. True, it clashes with the rest of the outfit and ‘blue and green must never be seen’ is basically the only rule of fashion I know, but it’ll help signify my in-game country of origin. I got my tall boots recently resoled, I’m eyeing off a hood and a jerkin, but the rest of the costume is still in the ether. There will be accessories as well, mostly a variety of animal claws and teeth. That ties in with the next entry…
SCARS: I’m looking to add a few claw marks to my face. Spirit gum and/or collodion here I come.
PERSONALITY: Well meaning idiot noble is one of my standard characters, so I’m hoping to avoid that and go with a more world weary and grizzled type. My innate nice and trusting nature will probably shine through though, as much as I may try.  I’m expecting it to get me killed, but that’s all part of the thrill of things. 🙂

Transport still needs to be organized (I’m planning to train it down, and my group are looking at hiring a vehicle to get us between the city and the event), and last, and certainly not least,  my wife needs to be kept busy. You see, this trip will be just after we get back from our 10th anniversary trip, and she doesn’t take my absence well at the best of times. So, I need her time to be kept jam packed, so she doesn’t have time to miss me. I’m fairly certain that giving her spare time in my absence will not end well.

More to follow. Be seeing you…

Thoughts. I has them.

My therapist today said I’m making good progress. I am pleased with this. I’ll be talking about The Rise of Skywalker, recent Doctor Who and other media things. There be mild spoilers ahead mateys!

Book wise, I finished Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. It’s set in a world where D&D style adventurers are like rock stars in our world, with bookers, promo and the like. It’s about a group of adventurers who used to be stars, but are now old, fat or drunk. And then all of a sudden, they have to get the band back together. Shenanigans ensure. Hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking and stuffed with fun, I love the running gag about who every bard who joins them dies. I’m planning to grab the sequel next payday. 🙂

Doctor Who has returned! We’re two eps in to the new season at the time of writing,  and it was wonderful*. I’m a little sad Missy didn’t get to meet 13, but that’s what Big Finish is for. Gomez was wonderful in the role, and I liked the attempt at a redemption arc for her in Capaldi’s last season, but I love having a Master who’s a right proper villain back. No ‘trying to stop the Magna Carta being signed’ nonsense, this was villainy with a capital V. Roger Delgado’s Master would be proud. The second episode suffered a little (What actually was the plan? Also, I was watching on my phone on a train, which never helps), but as with part 1 the final few minutes more than made up for any possible shortcomings. I’m still not quite sold on having 3 companions, but i wouldn’t cut any of the current 3.

Master Coat
Also: I WANT THAT COAT.

Moving to The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, I went to a midnight screening. It’s hard for me to talk about and still remain unbiased, but I’ll try. There were moments I loved, that thrilled me with childlike glee and had me punching the air with joy. At the same time, there were moments that had me cocking my head and going ‘Ya fucken what?‘ at the screen. And there was some sadness and tears, as expected and the ache of what could have been. Because well…

This wasn’t the film we would have got had Carrie Fisher still been with us.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought that what they did with the footage they had was wonderfully done. She was a big part of the story (Unlike Rose – NOT HAPPY JJ), but I wanted more – this was supposed to be Fisher’s spotlight film after all. Can we get a Leia training Rey novel, please? (I know about Resistance Reborn, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet.) It’s just I’m greedy and I want to see her more of her – can you blame me? Also, in the entire saga there’s only been three female characters who’ve held lightsabers on screen and had dialogue (Film canon only – I count Leia, Rey and Maz. Yes, I know there’s been other female Jedi but they didn’t speak), and that shit NEEDS TO FUCKING CHANGE.

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I miss you Space Mum. Everytime I take my meds I think of you.

I also like the fact that there’s still unanswered questions, but the two halves of my nerd soul war against each other – one side likes the mystery** while the other side screams ‘I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THAT SIDE CHARACTER HAD FOR BREAKFAST 2 YEARS AGO, GIVE ME ALL THE INFORMATION!’*** I’m looking forward to more stories in the universe not based around the Skywalkers. Yes, KOTOR: The Movie could be amazing, but given how much we’ve seen about the Jedi, there’s other parts of the universe that could be explored.

On that note, while re-watching Solo recently I was reminded of a few things.
!: I maintain it could be improved by having Beckett killed (As much fun as Woody Harrelson was having) during the opening job and Val being Han’s mentor.
2: I’d have loved the story of the job that got Han in debt to Jabba, rather than an origin story. I’m over them at the moment. To fly off on a slight tangent, I also like the idea that our first glimpse of Doctor Strange in the MCU was in Thor: Ragnarok, rather than his own movie. Earth has wizards now, deal with it. Back to the points i was trying to make.
3: Not getting to see more of Donald Glover’s Lando would be a damn shame. Ehrenrich did justice to young Han (You gotta have adamantium balls to step into those shoes), but Glover was flat out amazing – the man can wear a cape damn well.
3: It could, and should, have done better by it’s female characters.
4: Maul was a continuity reference too far. If you hadn’t seen the relevant Clone Wars/Rebels episodes, you’d have been completely out of the loop.
5: GIVE US AN ENFYS NEsT AND AHSOKA MOVIE YOU COWARDS.

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Please?

That slow drip of information was done well, however, in The Mandalorian. A Fistful of Dollars meets Lone Wolf and Cub, but in spaaaaaace. Roll on season 2. That Pedro Pascal was able to convey so much emotion and character with body movements and his voice was wonderful. Hell, just the silence that followed the line ‘of Alderaan’ in the final ep sent shivers down my spine. And the Child. *squees mightily* That was 3/4’s of why I wanted to show it to my wife. I’ve since been informed by her that ‘I have spoken’ will be used against me. I’m hoping to retort with ‘This is the way’ but I’m not expecting to succeed. I haven’t wanted a suit of that armour so much since my teens. Seeing the Armourer’s helmet, reminiscent of the Corinthian Greek helm, had me almost jumping up and down in glee at the design.

We’ve purchased tickets for the Brisbane run of Good Society****, and character details got released today! Choice is… tricky. I’m hoping to swash my buckle, if you know what I mean, and not make as make of a mess of my characters life as I did at Pax Europa. Blackpowder and Bloodlines tickets are soon available as well, and character ideas are percolating. Mostly around my old adage of ‘The next character I play will carry less junk’ and how I never manage to keep that. The idea is a big game hunter, whom others in his family may have issues with – why do you think he’s journeyed so far from home? So, that’s hunting clothes and a fancier wardrobe for parties, bow, arrows and quiver, likely sword and dagger, other misc kit, and storage for said items. Perhaps a facial scar or two and some bling for my hair and/or beard. Oh, and some colonial era white privilege. My tall boots need to be resoled, and I also need to get back into shooting practice. Busy times ahead!

Enough for now. Sleep beckons. Be seeing you…

* Yes, I avoided saying ‘masterful’ on purpose.
**To quote G’Kar again: “They are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything.”
*** My wife asked me, quite pointedly, why I was OK with “How’d you get up there?” “Wasn’t easy!” in Big Trouble in Little China, yet wanted more details from this. I’m not exactly sure, but since the SW universe is vastly more detailed, I guess I want to read that.
**** I’m seeing the Iron Maidens the night of the Sydney run, and need to be back for that.

New Year, same old brain goblins

So, it’s 2020. I’d say Happy New Year, but I think more in terms of congrats at surviving another year. Cheerful I know. To quote one of the wisest beings I know, G’Kar of Narn, “You do not make history. You can only hope to survive it.”

Also, been a while. That happens as well. Why am I quiet? Lack of something important to say I guess. When massive chunks of my internet feed are doom and gloom, I don’t much feel like adding to it. What, another person agreeing our government is shit or posting their anger about something horrible? Yes, my anger still burns bright, have no fear of that, but that’s something else I should probably work on. I’m more exhausted by the constant string of horror that I’m latching on to the little things that bring joy, like classic Danger Mouse being on Netflix. The turgid miasma of existence (To steal a Celibate Rifles album title) will still be there when it ends, but it’s vital (at least for me) to focus on something else, even if only for a time. Too much gloom doesn’t end well for me – you need some light to balance out the dark. I’m aware that everyone’s perspective on what that counts as is different though. My wife recently asked was I OK, as she was concerned about the doom and gloom I’d been listening to while doing dishes. it was the Ramones It’s Alive, an album that brings no end of joy to me and is about as perfect as live albums get*.

I’m feeling pretty good, despite the usual festive season malaise. There’s some excellent shows I’m looking forward to this year, as well as a pair of interstate LARPS (Blackpowder and Bloodlines and the Brisbane run of Good Society) I’m planning to attend. I’ll be in the pit for Iron Maiden, Skindred’s coming up in Feb and Download looks pretty ace, though I’m still hoping for a Sydney show from The Hu. It’s our 10th wedding anniversary this year, and we’re going back to where we honeymooned**. All stuff to feel good about. Sure the back half of the year, when most of these are over, will be tricky to deal with, but I’ll burn that bridge when I get there. Oh, and the elephant in the room. In a few short months I’m turning 40. I suppose it’s a big event and I’m sure there will be some freaking out, but at this moment it’s another birthday.

40 also means tattoo deadline. I told myself a few years back that I wouldn’t get one before that age, to make sure I’d properly thought about it. The current winner is still the word ‘Polarity’, but reversed. Screaming mad Doctor Who fan, guilty as charged m’lud. Where on me I’d get it, that’s another matter. I’m thinking somewhere I can hide it. My wife joked a while back hadn’t I already had a mid life crisis?, and my response was ‘No, that was just a crisis.’ I’ve heard of worse coping mechanisms, the flashy sports car down the street comes to mind first. Sure, there could be a reason as to why you’d own a flash car I’ve only seen them drive at high speed around the block once, but I can’t think of it. They aren’t all bad though, as they have a lovely cat.

Do I have resolutions? I’ve never made them before, but there’s a few
Do more swords. I’d like to say ‘find a chosen weapon/system and stick with it’, but that’d be night impossible. As much as the lightsaber longsword is my weapon of choice, other weapons are just so much fun. Seriously, how can you only want to study one? Sure, there’s weapons I’m less interested in, but I’d still love to see how they work.
Broadsword was a revelation (not having done any single handed weapon so far), dagger was great fun and quarterstaff made me want to transfer that knowledge to a LARP spear. Also I want to get the face of my fencing mask painted as Eddie, most likely Powerslave era.

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Write the Minbari game for Pheno. It’s very outside my usual MO games wise, but i think it’s time again. Also, Pheno went so damn well last year. I got some lovely feedback and the reactions to this years idea has me enthused.
Feel better about myself. Tough one I know. Doing better brain wise is an ongoing process. Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug, as the song goes.
Try and arrest the shrinking in my waistline perhaps, if only to stop my wife’s complaints about it. Bit more cardio couldn’t hurt either.
Game more and potentially give GM’ing another shot. It could be the brain, but I’ve been feeling as if I miss it of late and while my last few non convention games haven’t gone as planned, I’m starting to feel like it’s time to try to get back on the horse. I had some work done on a Torchwood Sydney game last year and I’m all but certain interested parties are still keen.

That’s it for the moment. Hopefully more soon. Be seeing you…

*All killer, no filler. Also, very little talking to the audience.
**No, I’m not telling you where. I like to make my stalkers work.

Be seeing you…

DEATH TO FALSE METAL!

Ross the Boss / Night Legion / Carbon Black
The Metro Sydney, Nov 23rd 2019.

Guitarist Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman first came to my attention through his work with NYC punk group The Dictators, who’s first album ‘Go Girl Crazy’ is both a classic of the genre and among the first punk albums released. But tonight isn’t a night for that – there’s no time for Two Tub Man or sign of Master Race Rock. Tonight we’re here to celebrate his other well known act, the speaker exploding loincloth wearing kings of metal, the one, the only, Manowar!

This was a night for the diehards. A night where battle vests were donned like knights of old donned mail, where mighty warriors came to celebrate the music they love, hair was let down and much air guitar was played. Sure, sections of the crowd looked closer to Cohen than Conan, but that lends further evidence to my theory that there’s going to be some amazing retirement communities in a few years. Anyhow, I feel I should begin by apologizing to the woman in front of me for the volume I was screaming in your left ear at  various points through the show. Sure, you didn’t seem to notice (It was very loud), or were too polite to say anything, but I was raised to be what some folks consider overly polite.

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It was also a night to wear earplugs. I keep meaning to invest in a quality pair. Maybe for Download or Maiden next year. Owing to some fun with trackwork and a post sword nap that was over long, I found myself rushing to get there just as Ross and co was due to hit stage, so there was some relief at their set starting 15 minutes late. My heartfelt apologies to the supports, it ain’t easy, especially when the attendance isn’t great. The Metro seems about half full, and and I’m able to make it to the front with ease. Things fill up a bit more as showtime grows closer, but it’s still only half to 2/3rds full.

While the set starts strong, with Blood of the Kings opening, it’s not till Blood of my Enemies that things really get going. Kill with Power has the crowd roaring along, and Bridge of Death has all the pomp and ceremony/absurdity of the original intact. Battle Hymn fucking DESTROYS and as dodgy as Hail and Kill’s lyrics are (If you don’t know them, then you’ve been warned), it still goes down a treat. And before we know it, it’s all over.

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We got was was promised, the Manowar album Hail to England, played in full (Minus the bass solo Black Arrows, who’s intro I was quite looking forward to) as for the band, they played it beautifully – Ross hasn’t lost any skill with age, the bass player was phenomenal, the vocalist has quite the scream and a fine command of cheesy metal stage patter and their drummer was both fantastic and well, damn… I’m not saying I’d switch sides (He’s not Nathan Fillion circa Firefly), but I certainly noticed him, unlike most drummers.

All in all, it was a grand night. Heavy metal was played. Horns were thrown, heads were banged and much fun seemed to be had by all. Can’t wait for the next one.

Another update

So, update time.

I have a floor ticket for Iron Maiden’s Sydney show next year. *throws horns* I’m so damn excited about this it’s not funny. I’ve waxed lyrical many a time about my love for that band and will no doubt do so again, and to be in the pit on this tour, possibly the most over the top one they’ve done stage wise, promises to be a night I’ll never forget.

The lineup for Download next year was also announced, and there’s enough bands I dig to get me there. I’m still waiting for the second run of announcements before buying a ticket and hoping for sideshows. I’d love to see The Hu in a smaller venue, as they’re metal as fuck, but not the thrashing kind, whereas seeing Testament a few years back in a tiny venue nearly melted my face off with awesome. Don’t get me wrong, they were fantastic at Soundwave, but being that close as they roared through Dark Roots of Earth was fucking amazing. In other shows, Ross the Boss is this Saturday night and Halestorm hit town in a couple of weeks. The Iron Maidens are also back next year, which should prime the pump nicely for the real thing soon after. I’ve had issues with tribute/cover bands in the past, but seeing how much joy they take in playing those songs, I get swept up in it all. Also, they’re really fucking good at it.

In other good news, Niece, Age 11 is DMing a game of her own. She’s been excitedly talking to me about what’s happening in her game, and about talking D&D near her non-nerd friends and their confused reactions. I’m so freaking proud of her. She only has one set of dice, and I had to laugh and say “Oh my sweet summer child, we’ll fix that.” I’ve tried to pass down what GM wisdom I’ve learned from my years at the table, but I don’t need to say much – the kid has her head on straight to a degree that’s scary. Sure, I’ve still given advice and asked questions about her approach, but there’s been moments where I’ve had to stop her and go ‘Save some awesome for the rest of us alright?’ I’m hoping to get her to a con at some point soon, or run for her one of my old games. The next generation is on the way, and I couldn’t be happier.

Sword continues to be a blast. We’re doing quarterstaff and shaska (Cossack cavalry sabre) this term and I’m really enjoying both. And yes, every time I pick up a quarterstaff I get a certain cartoon in my head… Then there’s a problem in not being able to settle down to study one weapon/historical text, when there’s so many I’d love to learn. I haven’t done any sword and shield/buckler, staff has me wanting to do more spear/polearm and how could I say possibly no to learning the cutlass? Well, it’s less a problem and more an issue with too many weapons and not enough time. Where’s a TARDIS when you need it?

Brain however has been rather wonky. There was a massive crash following Pheno. I’d expected it, but not quite to that degree. Conventions can take it out of you, there’s the lack of sleep, nerves and as much fun as GMing is, it’s a lot of work. There’s the panic and tension leading up to the con, the adrenaline and chaos of when it’s happening, and then it’s over and what the fuck do I do now? I’ve been trying to write more concerning the brain goblins and the general weird in my head, but that’s not ready for public consumption. Therapy continues to unpick things, in addition to what rattles around in my head on a regular basis. I’d love to be able to publicly talk, but I’m not comfortable sharing around some of this yet. Working out how I’m dealing with it seems paramount before going public. On the bright side, I’m already planning for next year’s Pheno – a freeform this time.

Speaking of planning ahead, I’m hoping to attend Blackpowder and Bloodlines, a weekend LARP in Victoria next year.It’s a while since I’ve been to a weekender, let alone so lethal seeming a system. I’m a big fan of perma death in LARP – I don’t want it to be easy, but I like knowing the threat of death is there. There’s tentative plans to group up with a couple of others, without which I may not attend. I’d rather have someone I know there, outside of IC links. Getting to make so many IC connections and backstory at pax Europa spoiled me, and I’d love to try to recreate that sort of thing.

And that’s it for the moment. Be well, and be seeing you

Pheno 2019

It’s my 2nd year running at Phenomenon and both years I’ve played 1 game and won a trophy from it. This year I got murdered in a freeform and refused the offer to return to life so I could have a nap. I’m not proud, but I really needed the nap. As much as I want to play more, I’m kinda hoping to continue that streak in years to come.

I ran 10 sessions of Orcish heavy metalers. I’ve told my wife to please remind me not to attempt anything so absurd again. It’s been a blast. Glorious, hilarious, absurd and more than once I’ve near wept with laughter. I’m also sore (Mostly from the laughter, but also some of the puns), over tired and can’t wait to do it again. The experience of the whole thing is lovely, from orgs checking am I ok, to wildly enthusiastic players – there’s a wonderful atmosphere there. How wonderful were my players you ask? One group wrote a setlist. Another put in character autographs on their sheets and I baiscally had to award the one who was writing songs during the game. They were excellent to each other, to say the least.

I can’t thank everyone involved enough. From the orgs, my playtesters, players and my wife, all of whom conrtributed to making my event as fun as it was. I place a lot of emphasis, potentially too much, on are my players having fun, seeing that as a benchmark for success, and I’m certain I got that this year. I walked away from it feeling loved and appreciated, and given the state of my brain the last couple of years, the vocal show of support means a hell of a lot. It was more than a little emotional at times, much like at Sydney cons past when the team would sit down and go “So, what’s the game about? We saw your name and went ‘Yes’.”

The game was inspired by an idea about a Half-Orc Bard wielding a set of bagpipes in a LARP many years ago and evolved to become a full band. It ran in Sydney a few years ago, and I like to think has only improved since then, both in the writing and my GM’ing. It’s one I’m passionate about, both cause it was a lot of fun, and cause I’m rarely as happy as I am at a live gig. Music means a hell of a lot to me, expecially seeing it played live, and I wanted to try to get that across. I can’t say if I succeeded on that front, buy my players all seemed to walk away happy, and I’m more than OK with that.

Selected highlights and quotes follow, all names have been redacted to protect the guilty. Also, things were blurring together about 4 sessions in and I’m having trouble remembering who said what. I took better who played who notes this year, and am hoping to improve further next year.

The group who, when confronted with an open door, would lock it so they could kick it in.

“We’ve got a empty city, great for looters, speaking of which, moving on…”

“We start to play Lightning Struck, followed by Nefarious Deeds for Little Money.”

On that note, naming the bands (pyro setup) baby pseudo dragons Angus and Malcolm. In my defence, they are Young…

“Cause no heavy metal band has thought to do a ballad.”

“When she talks about hugging, she’s talking about crushing to death.”

“How sober are you?”
“What kind of noodles?”

The van’s engine being fed a sandwich, which prompted me to decide the engine was a Flintstone’s esque monster.

“We meet at Legolas’s restaurant.”
“It’s a themed place that shoots skewers of meat at you, if they shoot you you eat free!”

“We announce a surprise show tonight but don’t tell anyone.”

“We are… I forgot the band name already.”

The group who went full Bill and Ted, by managing to convince Elven Nature they were them from the future, and that the show they were about to play would start the apocalypse.

“If there’s anyone pretty/handsome backstage I want to extend my hand to them and say ‘Come with me if you want to rock’.”

“Could probably do something Molotovian with these…”

“…pants around the knees, junk out.”
“Well, I’ve gotta air it out.”

A combination of staging a massive Orc underground festival in the park down the street from the Colusseum, having nicked some of Elven Nature’s pyro and set the rest on flame. That ended up with an impromptu Battle of the Bands happening when I realized there was still an hour of session to go.

“Windscreens? Where we’re going we don’t need windscreens!”

“Are there any plushies for sale?”
“Band plushies?”
“Shark plushies, so we can jump over them!”
(That was the session that managed to start a plushie Sharknado in the center of the audience.)

Picking up a  large batch of recreational chemicals, then turning the on stage fans to face the audience and feeding said chemicals through them. Closely followed by most of the stadium size crowd tripping balls.

*Drummer turns to the keyboard player he was crushing on*
“There is no one I’d rather be in a drunk tank with”
*Mid set onstage making out followed*

Peoples reactions to hearing the names Elven Nature and the Backwoods Boys. Will, your terrible jokes live on.

“I just want to know what it’s like to have sex with a unicorn!”

“The van has memories”
“The van has fucken herpes as well!”

“You’re happy to commit genocide, but fucking a dragon is too far?”

The phrase ‘Good Morning Menzoberranzan: The Freeform!”

“The guys a huge hipster right, so we can get him to set the audience on fire before it’s cool”

“And then ORCHEMIAN RHAPSODY begins”

One player being the most adorably protective Dragon mother ever. That might have been the session where dragons being like scaly fire breathing kittens became canon.

“Fat Bottomed Elves?
Well, I was thinking Another Elf Bites the Dust.”

“Whosoever pulls the axe from the van is the new frontman.”

“I grate some rat jerky over the top.”

“I was thinking ‘Suck my Cock’, but now I think ‘Come so Hard you Black Out’.”
“And what song will you be playing?”

Getting to use the phrase “The stadium looks like 80,000 shampoo commercials come to life”

“Do you owe them child support?”
“Do you owe them a child?”

“I don’t know how I feel about the title ‘License to Fist'”

“Remember the time I told you about feelings?”
“We all have them”
“My teeth are immaculate!”

A cannon being added to a stadium boom gate, thus becoming the canon cannon.

“I’ve been going over the speed limit, but that doesn’t count as speeding.”

“PREPARE YOURSELF FOR 4D10 SONIC DAMAGE. THERE WILL BE NO SAVING THROW.”

“How do they (A Goblin and Elf) do it?”
“Look, I’m not saying there isn’t a size difference, but the heart wants what the heart wants.”
“A stepladder?”

“Don’t kinkshame the chicken!”

“You’re not allowed to smoke in bed.”
“Just means you aren’t using enough lube.”

The arguments over who’s turn it was to drive. Having it be everyone’s turn to drive and have Drive at D4 is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in gaming.

“Suns out, wangs out.”

“That bastard, he steals from us and takes our money!”

“What’s the Elf to Dragon ratio?”
“African or European?”

And that’s about half of the quotes I have written down. To say there was hilarious shenanigans is putting it mildly. I bloody love my players, and would give them all awards if I could. Prize giving is the hardest part of any con for me, even more annoying than naming my characters. I love you all.

I’ve already tentatively submitted for next years con, an idea I’ve had kicking around for a couple of years. Bit of a departure from my normal work, but the last time I tried that my Fox News game happened, so I think that’s a good thing. And hey, it means I have to rewatch all of Babylon 5, so it’s not exactly a hardship.

I’d like to end this with a reading from the Book of Paul (Stanley). “I know life sometimes can get tough, and I know life sometimes can be a drag. But people, we have been given a gift, we have been given a road, and that road’s name is rock and roll.”

Amen. *air guitar solo*