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.

Leia
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.

colbert give me
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…