Well, it’s 2022 OK…

So, it’s a new year. I was unsure how to mark the passage of time, but like many things in life, rock and roll did the trick. With many, many apologies to the Stooges:

Now, last year, I was 41
I didn’t have a lot of fun
And now, I’m gonna be 42
I say, “Oh, my” and a “Boo-hoo”
And now, I’m gonna be 42
“Oh, my” and a “Boo-hoo”

Since I last wrote not much has happened. I’ve been to the cinema, twice! I had almost forgotten how much I hate my fellow cinema goers. Spider-Man: No Way Home was as delightful a film as the other patrons at my screening were awful. I was one of about 5 people in my screening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which much improved things. I’ll keep my thoughts on that spoiler free, but I can’t help summing it up as “When Ghostbusters (1984) and The Force Awakens love each other very much.” I don’t have as great a connection to the original films, and I really enjoyed the 2016 reboot, but I’m looking forward to more time with the characters from this one. Also, seeing Adam Savage having the best time of his life on the behind the scenes stuff made me think that more behind the scenes promo should be done that way. 

What’s most been at the back (and front) of my mind of late has been my temper. I’ve had a  couple of bad flare ups, and they scared me more than a little. I’ve long taken some measure of pride in my calm and seeing myself go from placid to GRAND FURY in 0.2 seconds wasn’t something I’ll ever be proud of. I can claim that being hungry/angry and overheated played some part in it, but it’s still there inside me, and I don’t like it. I’ve said before that people at my high school would joke about the body count when I snap, and yes, that joke’s a lot less funny now. But the older I get the less I like rage. Some can be useful as a motivational tool, but like nuclear power it’s important to manage it properly and I haven’t always done that. I made sure to apologise to the people in question, and I’ll likely keep doing so for sometime. To say I have an overactive guilt complex is an understatement, and I don’t seem able to shake it. 

How have I been managing this? Well, I bought another cloak and a bandolier…Is that  a good way to manage things? Stuffed if I know. But it’s made me happy and looking forward to the post, so that’s a good thing. Yes, LARP’s have been cancelled again and who the fuck knows when things will be back, but brainstorming a character for one has been a much needed creative outlet the last few days. Brainstorming game ideas in general has been one of the things that’s helped get me through Covid so far. It’s up there with my wife and my fencing group in terms of the solace it’s given me in these times of plague and chaos.  

You’ve made it through my brain fog, so you deserve something good, right? Well, I’ve something balanced for you…

I meant to post this on Christmas Day but got distracted. I’ve had this sitting on a computer for a long time, and I figure now it’s time. For those who came in late: In October 2016 (Yes, the time is important) I ran a convention one-shot called Fair and Balanced, set in a future America where Obama declared himself President for Life. Everyone has health care, no civilian has a military grade firearm and there’s an abortion clinic every few blocks. You know, conservative hell. The PC’s are a team of Fox News anchors, the last vestiges of the conservative resistance, and have come to take their country back!

It was disturbingly well received. I remain very glad that people took it as the over the top parody it was intended as. Having Bill O’Reilly as a PC has aged badly, but the idea itself was a joke that got out of hand rather like the Trump presidency. It’s ruined fewer lives though, and that has to be in it’s favour. Ever since then, I’ve had people request a sequel, both to cheerfully irritate me and because I joked (foolishly) that any sequels would follow the naming conventions of the Fast and the Furious films. For a while there, I was actually planning a sequel. But then the unthinkable happened, the Orange Goblin assumed power and I swiftly realised there was no way I could out crazy reality and that’s a problem with this absurd a concept. Listening to old episodes of The Bugle from 2012 where they joke how Trump dropped out of the presidential race too early made me want to throw my phone into the sun at the memory of it. But yes, I had written a blurb some time in 2017, and for the first time I’m going to open up that tomb of horrors and give it to you. You may want to brace yourselves…  

The shining city on a hill is now a strip mall.

In the chaos following President Obama’s stepping down from power, the Republican Party achieved the impossible dream – they Made America Great Again. The Golden Emperor now rules in Washington, atop a golden throne. They say he rarely leaves the palace, with only his progeny permitted near him, while swarms of supplicants race throughout the palace to enact his every tweet.

They say those who displease him vanish in the night. Rumours swirl of vast factories in the heartlands of America staffed by the sick and formerly unemployed, of re-education camps filled with journalists and dissidents. City streets, once hubs of life and music, are now near anarchy. The boot stamping on a human face has a designer label.

The promise of a better future has come and gone. 
America has been made Great again.
And there’s only one group who can save it from itself…

2 FAIR, 2 BALANCED.
A game for 5 Fox News anchors. 

I feel unclean. Now, before you say anything, I need to say this in all caps: I’M NOT WRITING THIS GAME. If you want to, knock yourself out. I wrote a blurb, and that’s enough for me. Enjoy.

It’s late, and I’ve slept incredibly badly the last couple of nights. Be well, and be seeing you. 

We wear leather! We wear spikes! We rule the night!

Inspiration strikes in strange places. I made an offhand joke about a theme for the Christmas party my house traditionally hosts, then 30 minutes WiFi access later I had 6 and a half hours of music ready to go. At the time of writing It’s been less than a week and that list is over 9 hours now and continues to grow. There’s a lot of power metal in said list and I make zero apologies for that. Obviously, if this became a Christmas party playlist, I’d likely trim some of the heavier, gruntier type material, though I maintain the Finnish singing disco breakdown (Yes, you read that right) in the middle of Ensiferum’s Two of Spades is fucking glorious and I will hear nothing against it and the intro to Grave Digger’s Rebellion, who are a German band singing about Scottish history BTW, makes me want to stand on a mountain in a rainstorm dramatically holding a sword in the air. Yes, there’s a lot of things that make me want to do that – what’s your point?

If the title wasn’t enough, a casual scroll should reveal what the theme is. Was there a reason for this? Not really no. I made a joke, 20 seconds later started compiling songs in my head and the rest was, as they say, history. I just like making playlists. Introducing people to music makes me happy. and I’ve stumbled across a few new bands doing so. My wife has a rule that I’m only allowed to like bands with members younger than I am and that’s trickier than you’d think. Where am I going with this? Well, when compiling this I had an Idea, and dear readers, you should know by now how dangerous those can be. For you amusement/horror (delete as appropriate), I present some early notes on what I’m calling POWER METAL: THE LARP, aka THROUGH THE FIRE AND FLAMES.

The basic idea was to take all those stupid and over the top heavy metal cliches, and turn it into a LARP. I’ve had worse ideas. I’ve had worse ideas that people still ask me for sequels to. I got as far as writing a blurb for Two Fair, Two Balanced a while back. Some day I might even publish it. So, the general theme is heavy mithril, but with everything turned up to 11. I’m seeing it as a one-shot weekender, as there may be too much stuff for a day game, and I want the final showdown to be at night. It’s more dramatic that way, and we get to have a post game debrief/singalong around a bonfire.

Where are we? Some Tolkien-esque land, where HEROES ARE MIGHTY. Elves live in the woods, Dwarves dig holes and adventurers stumble across ancient tombs full of monsters and treasure every day of the week, because WHY NOT? Wizards lurk MYSTERIOUSLY in the corners of taverns, or cast bizarre spells in NOT AT ALL PHALLIC TOWERS. What sort of person crosses an owl with a bear anyway?

How do things start? Well, the EVIL WIZARD OF DOOM has just beat the shit out of OUR MIGHTY HEROES, and after taking time to explain his evil plan to them, teleports the fuck away to his MOUNTAIN FORTRESS OF DOOM to prepare for the ASTRAL ALINGMENT that’ll give him enough power to CONQUER THE WORLD or something. Wizards, am I right? Our heroes must pick themselves up, go forth on quests to FIND OUT STUFF THEY NEED TO KNOW and it ends with a FINAL SHOWDOWN between our heroes and the WIZARD.

Said information gathering quests could include:
Finding an ancient hermit who has MIGHTY ARCANE POWER and requires a quest to teach that to people. That quest might involve baking something for him, I dunno, maybe he’s just lonely?
Infiltrating a cult ceremony. I’m gonna need a bulk lot of cultist robes and masks, as wearing a mask automatically disguises you, until you break role. If it works in bad movies, it works here. Actually, that rule works for almost every game I’ve ever run.
Fighting some sort of massive monster that guards an ANCIENT WEAPON that can help kill the WIZARD.
Can you make your way through the DARK FOREST OF EVIL to find a magical thing without disturbing the DROPBEARS? (Why Dropbears? I was writing a post apoc game before Brexit/Trump and an actual apocalypse got too close for comfort, but the idea of monster crew in cheap as shit koala onesies stained with blood and gore makes me far happier than it should. Also, angry koala noises are FUCKING TERRIFYING)

Some stylistic choice ideas follow:
Enemies attack you one at a time, just like in the movies! Combat is suitably over the top, with giant swings, grunts of effort and all that stuff that would get you killed in an actual sword fight, but looks awesome on VHS in 1986. Really, that’s the entire aesthetic for this thing.
Armour isn’t based on how much of you it covers, but on how cool it looks. There may well be extra spikes, giant pauldrons and all sorts of silliness. This is not a game for subtlety or historical accuracy or ANY OF THAT REALISM. If at least half the players aren’t wearing foam muscle shirts as part of their costumes something is VERY fucking wrong.
Magical attacks are shouted, with a call sign indicating what sort of spell is being cast. For example, “By the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, I BIND thee!” Another idea would be to generate spell names using Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards cards beforehand. Perhaps playing air guitar powers magical rituals? I don’t know, I’m making this shit up as I go.

Other influences include:
The video game Brutal Legend. The game itself had it’s issues, but as a love letter to heavy metal, there are few things as mighty.
80’s metal, mainly of the power and thrash variety. For those who have no idea what power metal is, read this. Also, what have you been doing with your life?
The band Manowar, especially the video for Gloves of Metal. Look, there’s a lot about them that has aged badly, or was pretty fucking objectionable even back in the day (I’d say listen to the song Pleasure Slave as an example, but just don’t) and ‘It was the 80’s’ is a piss poor excuse, though I never thought I’d see a music video with worse fight choreography that Motley Crue’s Too Young to Fall in Love. But that full bore commitment to something so utterly stupid as ‘Conan the Barbarian, but with guitars’, I can’t not love that.

Will this event actually happen? Who the fuck knows. We all know how I am with the focus and drive to actually finish things. But the creation process, the bouncing ideas around in my head, that’s brought me great joy, and by Crom, I’ve needed that joy. The relentless march of time, the unending drone of Covid time and a recent casual contact scare (I tested negative, thankfully) has been wearing on me more than normal of late. People keep asking me how I am, and I keep answering *shrugs* “Pandemic well?” I’d love to have another answer, possibly a more positive one, and it ain’t coming. Shit has just gotten more dangerous and now fuckwits don’t have to check into stores? Yeah, great fucking move. I am not a confrontational person, but seeing groups in the Sydney CBD a couple of weeks back wearing ‘Thou shalt not vax me’ t-shirts fucken BOILS MY BLOOD. I know relatively little about Jesus, but I’m pretty fucking sure he’d be pro-vax, with that whole ‘help others’ deal he had. Fuckwits.

I’ve been trying to end this on a positive note, and I should have been asleep long ago. May you and yours be well and happy, and may the things that bring you joy keep doing so. Times are tough and we need to take joy where we can.

Be seeing you…

How do we play this game again?

My last 3 purchases of note have been a (foam) main gauche, a fancy shirt and a leather pauldron. What else is my tax return for but to make me happy? And yes, I have been watching the BBC Musketeers again, how did you know? That’s not the only version I’ve been watching though – I found the 1989 Return of the Musketeers on YouTube and it’s… not great. On the other hand, there’s a 1966 BBC TV adaption that survives and for how I feel about it, well, brace your eardrums and hit play on the following video.

BRIAN BLESSED makes everything better. There are reasons why Porthos is the most entertaining character in near every adaption I’ve seen.

Lockdown seems to be ending soon, partially, which means people I don’t live with can visit my house! And not just to deliver food and goods! This also means Bombshells (The pulp game I’m running) is back on soon and thus I should look over my notes and re-read the game rules again. We ended on a cliff hanger (There are some traditions I’m not willing to mess with), but a refresher never hurt. It’s been some time, but I’m really looking forward to in-person gaming again. Speaking of gaming, last weekend I got to game with people outside my regular circle for the first time in well, a long time. Before the Dark Times. Before the lockdowns… *Ahem* Anyhow, despite the issues I have with online play, it was still a joy. It also reminded me that I tend to game differently in one-shots. I’m quite a nervous man. In that respect I’m like a German vegetarian, I fear the wurst*. But in one-shots, the atmosphere is different. There’s that limited time frame, little to no need to worry about the future, just waiting for the right time to pull a stunt, or in one case, reveal that I was actually a many tentacled alien. (“What, human legs don’t bend like that? That’s a totally normal thing on this planet, that I am from.”) And it got me thinking.

The majority of the games I’ve played in, both tabletop and LARP, have been planned as long term. Some have ended abruptly, others have come to a natural end. Many have been killed by scheduling or just petered out. All things end. But this is more about me. I find that a longer the game goes on, the more I settle in and sit back, so to speak. Going “Yeah, I could do the thing, but there’s always next session.” When the clock isn’t ticking, I find myself just slowing down. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it does get in the way of actually achieving anything. Much like trying to write things without a deadline, I need that extra shove to actually get things done. Combine that with me trying to work on just one of my half written projects I have rather than spending that time dithering over which one do I pick, I’ve bashed a few pages of notes and ideas into something possibly workable. it’s a beginning at least, and some much needed solace. Productivity has been wonderful for my mental health, despite the bad crash I had this week.

But I’m going into it with a goal – if it does actually happen, I want it to be a short term thing.

Why do I want to cut something short? Surely I should want games to run as long as possible? Well, no, Some background to this: there was a New Zealand LARP, Teonn I think, a few years back that my wife and I crewed for while on holiday. It was based around various nations making landfall on an as yet uncharted island, and I heard that one of the nations screwed up their arrival so badly that the consequences would be hitting them for nearly half the planned 3 year long campaign. I bloody love that. I can’t explain just why it makes me so happy, but it does.

Going into something knowing the clock is ticking and you only have so much time to make your mark on the world, it basically forces me to actually get involved with events, brings me out of my shell. I take risks in one-shots I’d never take in long running campaigns and I like that. I like contributing to games, being part of things, and sometimes I just have to force myself to do so. It makes for better games for everyone at the table, players and GM. And I want that. So, that’s where my thinking is at.

Anyhow, sleep beckons, and who am I to disagree? Good night. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

*You can thank/blame Andy Zaltzman for that joke.

Time is fleeting, and lockdown takes it’s toll

So, what have I been up to?

Not much. Bob’s Burgers continues to be a source of much needed joy. I started playing Far Cry 5 again, because blasting away at a facist theocratic cult seemed like a nice escape from the real world and yeah… Given that, I switched over to Saints Row 3. I also got some texts from Craig Kelly and while I deleted them immediately, I was almost pleased to get them, as I was starting to feel left out. Even so, I have been mature, and not gone on Twitter and called Kelly an incompetent fool who’s a member of a climate denying death cult who’s shackled his career to a career con artist. I may have tweeted him a screencap of one of the Iron Sheik’s more abusive tweets though… I’m not a saint. 

Short, sharp and to the point. #TeamSheik

in good news, there’s a new Iron Maiden album! I’ve only listened to it a few times so far, which means it’s far too early to give a proper review. It brings joy, unsurprisingly, even tinged by some fear, given singer Bruce Dickinson’s recent positive Covid test.  Every time I’ve seen them, it feels as if it could be the last time, but I don’t want it to be. I’m not ready for them to end yet, nor do I think I’ll ever be ready. That band is 5 years older than I am and it’s members have a combined age of over 350, so logically the end is closer than I’d like. I expect when they finally call it a day I’ll feel as if the sun won’t rise again. But that is not today…

*air guitar solo*

There’s change coming to the TARDIS as well, with the announcement that Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall are leaving Doctor Who. This also meant I had my about once a year or so look at a certain Twitter account and yes, it was as horrible as I expected. Said person has also been trying to get a Babylon 5 revival started and it makes my skin crawl to share a fandom with them. There’s disturbingly large parts of Who fandom that’s incredibly toxic, and  it’s that why I carefully curate what parts I involve myself with. That said I’ll really miss 13, not just because the pandemic meant we missed out on so much time with her or how angry she makes chunks of Who fandom. Making the right people angry is delightful. I used to be grumpy and rank the Doctors, whereas now I’m grumpy and I just love them all. Besides, the lockdown message that Whittaker put together was both pure joy and much needed advice and if you don’t like it, then you may not have a soul.

It just fill me with hope, and I need that about now,

My house has been keeping itself busy – we watched the 1932 version of The Mummy recently, and while good fun, I mostly found myself wanting to watch Pyramids of Mars again, which is never a bad thing. I introduced my wife to the first John Wick film and she didn’t hate it, which is what I was hoping for, I guess? There was an air of “What, was that it?” To be fair, the world building only really kicks in in part 2, but it seems like she’ll let me subject her to it. We’ve also watched Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, which was…. hmmm. The first tale wasn’t great, the second was mostly carried salvaged by Peter Woodward’s glorious scenery chewing. We’ve also started Crusade tonight, and were about half way through ep 1 before she needed to sleep, I can report her initial thoughts were “Oh hey, it’s Gary Cole!” and that Daniel Dae Kim is very pretty. She’s not wrong.

The greatest DVD extra ever made. Ever.

In good news, I found a place that has a cavalier hat blank A: at an affordable price and B: that actually has my size! Therefore, treat yo self! I figure, yes, I can wear it at events and at LARP’s, but mostly because it’ll make me happy. Unfortunately, they turned out to be out of stock, but gave me a refund. The search continues… I’ve found a couple of massive ones in leather, here and here, that have me tempted, but might be a bit too much for me, style wise. At least, for now….  There was a motivational quote I found recently that said: People will stare. Make it worth their while. I like that and may adopt it. It’s certainly come to mind when I’ve been gathering firewood while out walking on the weekends. Mind you, the other quote that comes to mind is “If no-one comes from the future to stop you from doing it, then how bad can it be?” We all find motivation in different ways. 

And yes, I continue to miss LARP. I’ve been eyeing off a sword or two, also under the treat yo self rule, but I keep coming back to ask myself, will I actually use them? Yes, I did order a main gauche, but it’s mostly reminded me that the most recent Captain Alatriste book was published in 2011 and still hasn’t been translated into English. Also, I’ve not seen the TV adaption, and while the movie version was beautiful, it’s telling small excerpts from the books instead of telling one book is infuriating. Still, Viggo Mortenson as Alatriste was near perfect casting. But I digress… Buying stuff just to make me happy doesn’t work as well as it used to, I need to have a purpose for my stuff. Yes, I could use a pretty sabre or another cloak, but with no games running at the moment, a short term happy “I have a shiny thing” boost will likely be overtaken by “Another thing I’m not using” sadness. Mind you, I have been eyeing off a fencing jacket, wanting one that’s both A: fitted to me and B: not in regulation HEMA black. It seems a more sensible long term investment and the dark purple it comes in is… wait for it…

If you weren’t expecting that, you’ve not been paying attention!

There’s more I could discuss, but sleep beckons. So yeah, take care of yourselves and each other, and I’ll be seeing you.

Nostalgia. It’s not all bad.

Getting used to the keyboard on my new laptop is taking longer than I thought. I’m sure in a couple of weeks every second word won’t be twice it’s correctly spelt size, but typing is taking roughly twice as long. Adjustment periods. *sighs* In it’s defense, the keyboard stays attached, which is an improvement.

Moving to good things! My wife and I have started watching Bobs Burgers, and there’s one moment that requires special attention. S3, Episode 17. Roughly 4 minutes in is one of the greatest one liners I think I’ll ever see. I’ve watched it multiple times and it has not brought any less joy. It may even get added to my wife and I’s inside joke roster. It’s a delightful show and well worth your time and not just for Kristen Schaal. And hey, Disney+ also has Burn Notice! Nice.

Staying with TV, I’ve been digging back into Stargate SG-1, partially for nostalgia, but mostly for gaming purposes. A friend is starting up a campaign soon using the new system and going back in to the show has brought back memories. Most are good – Bra’tac continues to be wonderful and Richard Dean Anderson’s snark is top notch. True, the episode where a 15 year old clone of O’Neill gets dropped off at a high school is kind of creepy to 41 year old me, and let’s not get started on the litany of bad decisions the Atlantis crew made. Continuing the game talk, a housemate is starting a lockdown Werewolf: the Forsaken game set in 1980’s Miami (Hence the earlier mention of a Burn Notice re-watch) and I’m tempted to run the Feng Shui adventure from the back of the 2nd Edition book, both to keep my hand in (As my Bombshells game is on lockdown hiatus*) and because I own it and haven’t run it yet. It’s my wife’s rule and it’s cut down my “That looks interesting and is $5” purchases by a sizable amount.

Given my GM style, Feng Shui is very much my style and I’m surprised I’ve not run it earlier. It’s relatively rules light, plays fast and encourages the sorts of over the top action that’s in my GM wheelhouse. Yes, you can run it grim and serious but we both know that’s not how I roll. (Yes, there’s the obvious ‘You roll terribly’ joke to be made. Very observant of you) I never engaged much with the metaplot back in the day, so digging into it has been welcome. I don’t have any further ideas yet, but a housemate’s idea (Taking the titles of HK action movies and basing things off them) is far from a bad one. Besides, there’s time. I don’t have a deadline yet unlike the other projects I should be writing. Attention spans…

(Look, I’d have used the hospital corridor from Hard Boiled, but Chow Yun Fat in a white suit…)

Outside that, things are much as they are. Trying to keep positive, monitor my media intake to help stay that way (I should under no circumstances listen to Spare Parts right now) and focus on the good things. Look at regular tasks with a sense of achievement rather than something too be endured. And I probably should have been asleep an hour ago instead of this.

Good night all. Be seeing you.

*It’s not that I can’t run on Discord, but I need to see my players at a table.. The lack of visual input and response, I can’t deal.

And so it goes on.


There may be more typos than normal this entry, as I’m typing on a new laptop and am still getting used to the keyboard. It’s not the quite delicious and non alcoholic rum I’m drinking, no sir.

There’s a new Iron Maiden album incoming! And yet, even such joyous news isn’t enough to lift me from the funk I’m in. I mean, it’s cause for delight as a general thing – there are reasons I describe them as my beloved after all, even when talking about their work of the 1990’s. (I have a soft spot for the Blaze era stuff, as the poor guy had a nigh impossible task. Anyway, Man on the Edge and Futureal are bangers, while the radio edit of The Angel and the Gambler is what the song should have been.) *ahem* Back to the point I was trying to make…. The first single, The Writing on the Wall is more a mid tempo, mid album kind of deal, as opposed to the more full throttle approach of say, 2 Minutes to Midnight or The Wicker Man* (To my ears the best song they’ve written in the last 25 years). I also may have issues with some of the lyrical content and imagery in the video. Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson is on record as being a Brexit supporter, and while this is far from the first time someone whose work I enjoy has some terrible opinions, I can’t put it aside. The last few years have burned away a lot of things from me, such as my taste for dystopia and a lot of my tolerance for… everything. So yeah. Happy with a side of I really didn’t want to know that.

There’s also a quibble or two about the album itself. The giant samurai Eddie on the cover looks fantastic, but seems lacking without a backdrop. That and it’s another double album, like 2015’s The Book of Souls. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with more Maiden, but I’ve never met a double album that couldn’t be a better single album. Much like when CD’s first came in and bands went “Let’s fill all the space!’ instead of perhaps cutting a filler track or two. Use Your Illusion, I’m looking at you… But yet, I like the freedom to go nuts and just release all that music. Sandanista, please come to the lobby courtesy phone. I freely acknowledge the two competing issues and am well aware of my hypocrisy.

There’s also the fact that *checks notes* it was recorded IN EARLY 2019. That’s right, they’ve been sitting on this for TWO FREAKIN YEARS. Yes, these things take time to promote etc and they were on a break in the Legacy of the Beast tour, true, but TWO YEARS? Do you know how that makes me feel? LET ME SHOW YOU, by using a gif from Bob’s Burgers, a delightful show that is well worth your time.

And yet, as angry as I am, like Homer and the sandwich (Even my Simpsons jokes are old enough to drink), I can’t stay mad at them. There’s more important things to be mad about, like anti mask protesters. And yeah, at the time of writing, 4 more weeks of lockdown. *sighs* It’s fine, it’s not as as I didn’t have anything to do during that time. I mean, I could be, but I’m struggling with a lack of motivation at the moment. Yes, there’s things I should be writing, but with no end in sight I’m lacking a deadline and as we well know, I’m terrible without them. *sighs* I keep looking at fancy hats and LARP kit, and while I don’t need them, I’m getting closer to pressing the button and treating myself. Speaking of that, we got a new PC and it can actually run things from this decade. I’m thinking Elite: Dangerous. Why? I know very little about the game and space exploration/trading isn’t quite my jam, but take a look at the list of voice packs available. I can have BRIAN BLESSED, Mira Furlan and Paul Darrow on my ship? I’M IN.

As for lockdown, I’ve taken to going for walks around my local area for a bit of solitude and to collect firewood. I need to remember not to take outdoor naps though. You need to remember the little joys in life, whether that be some peace and quiet, or setting fire to things. We each take joy in different things. Talking is a good thing, as rough as it can be. Therapy continues to help. I urge all out there to try it at least once. I’m trying to take things with positive perspective but the molehills still become mountains too damn quickly. *sighs* I have my first vaccine appointment booked as well. Audio book wise, I finally finished listening to Bloody Rose and am about halfway through Ahsoka. Good listening, though I’ll likely have to go back and listen to them again to catch all the details. Podcast wise, I’m dipping into Hamster with a Blunt Penknife, while The Bugle is a constant source of joy. And puns.

That’s enough for tonight. Take care of yourselves out there. Be seeing you.

*Also, if anyone has an affordable source for red leather trousers close to the ones that Janick Gers is wearing in the video for that song, I’ll make it worth your while.

I seem to have a reputation…

Been a while. Things continue to be up and down – one sword event happened, the second got cancelled by lock down. It’s the sensible decision, but I still miss it. I really like sword-fighting, and really like talking to people about sword-fighting. It brings me joy – a recent lesson where I had my teacher to myself had him complaining about the speed of my dagger work, in that I was keeping his sword away most of the time. Needless to say, that night did wonders for my ego. The following week didn’t match things in terms of my skills, but what is consistency? Either way, swords are awesome and more people should try it.

So, that wedding where I as going to dress as a wizard at? Well, that’s coming soon and I still haven’t chosen an outfit yet. It’s my usual paralysis of ideas. On that, I’ve also agreed to speak at it, and that’s another thing to write. There’s no small pressure on it (From me, not from the happy couple) , and not just cause I now seem to have a reputation for speaking at weddings. (I told my wife that and she looked around and said “I don’t know what you mean…”) I recently had the groom refer to me as the ‘Security Wizard’ (to help settle any possible disputes about the seating) and I can’t overstate just how happy that made me.

The writing on my Pheno game is continuing, and slowly gaining speed. This is good, as the con is getting ever closer. I’ve been fiddling with the blurb most of the evening, and while I’m mostly happy with it (Thanks to my wife’s advice) I’m not suite 100% happy with it. I mean, I rarely am with blurbs, but that seems to be the way with my games. The closer we get to the con, the more my brain is (finally) starting to kick into writing gear, which is lovely and MUCH NEEDED.

Getting back to LARP, I’m still having ideas for that Cold War game. Again, I’d like it if I could concentrate on the things I should be writing now, but I’ve met my brain and it doesn’t work that way. So, the idea is a faction/national approach to things, which might make sense. Here’s the ideas:
AMERICANS: The US doesn’t have the history of Britain (At least the white people don’t), or the peoples of Russia, but what they do have is money. So, if there’s a problem they have, they are more than willing to throw money at it, whether it’s R&D or encouraging defectors. If there’s a problem facing them, it’s a good bet the US will try to spend their way out of it.
BRITAIN: The English have a proud heritage, stiff upper lip and all that. They see themselves as a proud and unflappable people, and find solace in their rituals (Tea anyone?) and traditions. This means they have something of en existing magical tradition, and have historical knowledge to back it up. True, most modern folks have no idea it’s there, but that’s what PC’s will soon discover.
RUSSIA: The lands of Mother Russia are vast, and her people are many. They are stubborn, and willing to throw themselves into the fight, albeit sometimes with the threat of death from their own commanders. This means, they have numbers on their side, and will clog the battlefield with their dead. So, you think you’ve stopped one KGB combat team? Good news, more will soon be on the way.

As always, hopefully putting this down somewhere will enable me to move on to the things I should be doing. Also, Fun Fact: every time I try to watch the BBC Tinker, Tailor, I just get lost in listening to Alec Guiness.

Turning to other LARPS, I haven’t managed to make it to Midgard yet. I’m mostly set on a character, that being a member of local law enforcement. Also, a wizard. Now, there’s a temptation to go full bounty hunter Man with No Name, but I’m easily able to put that aside. First off, mysterious loners are dull. You may look cool with your cloak and mask, but you’ll spend the event walking around not doing much. LARP is a social activity, so embrace that. I’m mostly fiddling with various character builds (This one more skills than spells, whereas this one I can sneak attack!) and costume. Yes, costume. Some people build their characters around abilities, I build mine around costume. (I have zero shame about this.) I think I’ve found a tunic I like, I’ve got some bracers I can use and I get to wear my wedding boots again. I’m mostly having issues deciding on accessories and layers of clothing. I want some sort of cloak, because why not, but one that I can get the wand out of the holster (Ooo-er!) with minimal fuss. The quest continues…

Anyhow, the sedative on my brain pills has kicked in, so time for bed. Be seeing you…

Missed it by *that* much!

The universe is an occasionally cruel place, but it does like to keep things interesting, in both the dictionary and Chinese curse definitions of the word.

Case in point tonight. To explain: there’s that time when your body tells you you need to visit a toilet. Fair, albeit irritating. I get that. That it does so when the shuffle on my playlist brings up the Mission Impossible theme*? That’s something else. It does continue to amaze me how that theme tune can make even the most mundane of tasks a nail biting adventure. I must add it to my ‘cleaning the kitchen’ playlist to see what happens…

So, what’s been happening since last time I wrote? Well, my happy pill dosage has gone up another 15 milligrams. I’m still adjusting, though it seems to be knocking me out of a night quicker, which as someone who’s always had trouble dropping off to sleep, well, that’s a good thing. My parents have another cat, which is a thing of great joy. There’s even been some recovery solitude, which has been MUCH NEEDED. Eardrums wise I’ve been binge listening to the Flight Through Entirety and Bondfinger podcasts, and adding to my Espionage music playlist. Board gaming wise, we’ve begun playing Pandemic: Legacy Season 0 and we’ve played through the prologue game. We… did not do well. Mercifully, it’s possible to have multiple goes at it before starting the campaign properly, which we’ll need. There’s some interesting changes to the rules which we’re still getting used to. I’ll keep you posted on how things go, with appropriate spoiler warnings.

Staying with 1960’s espionage, the PDF for The Troubleshooters arrived recently, and from my brief glance through, it’s as delightful as I’d hoped. I’ve not had the time to have a really good look yet, I’m already in love with the “How did you all meet?” mechanic, which while a good Session 0 should deal with, seems to provide a wonderful starting point to build from. However, it’s getting in the way of the events I should be writing, namely Bombshells and Babylon 5. The last Bombshells session ended mid heist (The PC’s were stopping the heist, to be clear) and I’m deep in Babylon 5 research. It was surprisingly difficult to find out when the Minbari made first contact with the Vorlons. (Those are the sorts of things that keep me up at night.) So yes, as enthusiastic as I am about the Troubleshooters, I’m going to try to put it aside till oh, Christmas. Though I will be putting the Steed and Peel Avengers series on my Christmas list, if anyone wants a hint as to what I’m planning.

Anyhow, time for bed. Be seeing you…

*And yes, I made it in time.

“Sometimes it’s hard to like yourself…

I find in that situation it helps to pretend to be a wizard.

I bloody love Tripod. It’s been an exhausting last few days, with my anniversary, a medieval event that I was demoing at and God-Daughters first birthday party and after all that, I am knackered, in myriad ways. Physically, I’ve slept badly and still sore from taking broadsword strikes. Shocking I know, but getting hit with swords hurts. I’m equal parts I should have moved faster and should buy a heavier set of gloves/jacket. Though it was lovely to see two other club members in purple jackets! Mentally, I’m over peopled and haven’t had much time to recover. I’m dealing better than in the past, but I find large scale contact with people very draining and the lack of recovery solitude of late (Thanks COVID!) hasn’t helped my temper and general mental state. If I’ve taken my time responding, or I’ve been short with you, I can only apologize. The brain is a harsh thing.

Therefore, I’ve found myself diving back into gaming. The Cold War idea has mostly been set to the back burner (I did make a playlist, but in my defense the Hymn to Red October slaps, as I believe the kids say?) and I’m slowly getting back into gear on the Babylon 5 game, which is good, as my pitch got accepted for Pheno! I picked up the 3 issue In Valen’s Name comic run recently and between that and the novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows, I’m getting more of a handle on Minbari politics and history. It’s both frustrating and freeing however, looking up historical details and there being nothing, so there’s likely to be a fair whack of ‘Well, here’s my headcanon, so OK?” I’d like to have some details ironed out (First Contact with the Vorlons was when?) for consistency if nothing else. I get that I’ve likely been spoiled by the vast amounts of data on Memory Alpha and Wookiepedia, but at the same time, I’m far less worried about conflicting with things so yay? The Babylon 5 wiki is comprehensive as is the encyclopedia, but there’s still vast areas of the B5 universe left undefined. In any case, I’m trying to write my PC’s, but keep getting distracted with looking up historical details and trying to write “Here’s what you know” documents. The struggle continues.

Turning back to LARP, I’ve been bashing round ideas for a character to play at Midgard, a new LARP that started recently. So, the initial impression was I wanted to play something magical, maybe Druid-esque, something different. At least, different to my usual character type of well meaning idiot nobles. Now, upon the glance over their world details revealed there’s a large desert area which is the homeland of the Dragonkin empire and an idea popped into my head. However, there’s an important question at this point, and I haven’t been able to answer it yet. The question?

Is this a functional character idea, or do I just want to cosplay as Ardeth Bey?

Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying that cosplaying as Ardeth Bey is a bad thing. Far from it. Oded Fehr is a treasure, and I will fight any who dispute otherwise. I just want to have a reason for being there, to not fall into my old trap of basing a character around one thing and then being bored when it actually makes it into play. and I want to dress flashy, to avoid mostly red and black garb and to dress in bright fabrics. I’d link to the Brass Coast section from Empire LARP as they’ve been a great source of initial garb ideas, but as their website seems to be down, but here’s the Google Image Search. It’s bright, shiny and distinctive and that’s where my head is at at the moment. Hell, I’ve even spent some time looking at Dragon masks and prosthetics, but I’m being sensible and not purchasing before decisions are made.

So, I’ve things to wrestle with. Good night all. Be seeing you.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mage…

Rich Man, Poor Man, Spellslinger, Thief?

So, remember that wand shoulder holster I mentioned a while back? Thanks to a generous birthday gift, I have one coming to me. And outside of wearing it at an upcoming wedding (I have the bride and grooms approval) and wearing it around the house, I don’t have another use for it, and I find myself looking for one. Regular readers will know my brain can be dangerous at moments like this.

The closest thing to an idea I have is ‘Cold War espionage, but with magic’. I don’t know quite why the idea has gripped me so much, but here we are. I’ve read the first Laundry Files book and enjoyed it, find the Bond films superior to the novels (Whenever I read any of the Fleming novels I wonder how they became so successful, but I’m not in 1950’s England), and utterly adore the Rivers of London series. The BPRD from Hellboy seems a good source of inspiration and I’ve heard good things about the series The Magicians, but haven’t seen it yet. And before anyone says anything, yes I have thought about adding Cthulhu, but I’ll leave the Mythos to it’s own corner for the time being.



This idea, or skeleton of it, doesn’t really fit with any of them. That’s also likely why it’ll end up in my ‘Ideas I love, but can’t get to work’ folder. Still, let’s continue on the creative exercise shall we?

So, let’s brainstorm out the basics and ask a few questions.
We’re saying an alternate universe 60’s. The Atomic Age is replaced by the Magical Age, with the superpowers rushing to harness arcane power to combat and/or guard against their rivals. Not a bad start.
Factions and/or nationalities. If we’re looking at Cold War, then East vs West. So, Russia and it’s satellite states against the Americans and English.
What sort of magic is there? Wand based, point and shoot, something vaguely Latin, or a more time consuming ceremonial sort of dealie? For that matter, where does it come from? Has it always been there, or did someone open a door they shouldn’t have? I like the idea of a recent reawakening, leaving the higher ups scrambling to harness this new weapon.
How much does the general public know? Is there a masquerade, or is copping a Magic Missile in the street an occupational hazard?
What does magic actually do? Offense, defense, can you hook a wizard up to a treadmill and power a city block? Is the magic system freeform, based on Jack Vance, or should I go back through the LARP rules for Mage: the Ascension?

Lastly, what will the PC’s actually do? What’s the point of the whole thing, what story would I be I hoping to tell? It’s an important set of questions and one that a lot of my past campaign ideas have ignored, to their detriment. It’s a mistake I’m trying not to repeat again, and while it seems to be working in the case of Bombshells, I’m under no illusions that I couldn’t make that mistake again.

Above all, what’s the mood of the thing? Bleak and dangerous, with betrayal and danger at every turn? Something like the Bond films, high action and flashy action? Let’s be realistic here – I can try for as much Le Carre as I want, but with my GM’ing style and sensibilities, it’s more likely to be Gandalf, Agent 86. I mean, a few small rewrites and I can see the following scene with two wizards divesting themselves of their magical items. (And as an aside, the suicide wedding ring joke is *chef kiss*)

Outside of that, I’m not great. I mean yes, things are improving. The Iron Maidens have rebooked for Feb next year, Blacktown Medieval Fair is next month and I continue to enjoy rapier. I’ve resubmitted my Babylon 5 freeform to Pheno (Rewatching the show for research will likely produce a flood of emotions) and Cyberpunk 2077 is surprisingly good. I’m not joking – I continue to be surprised at how much I’m enjoying it, and it’s moments of genuine emotional heft. Plus, you know, having Keanu Reeves in your head. I’ve had much the same feelings with the series Transformers: War for Cybertron, which despite not having any of the original voice cast, is still pretty damn good. It’s a grim contrast with the original series, turning what was basically a 23 minute toy commercial into an epic tragedy.

But at the same time, my brain is still far from fine. My temper is closer to the surface than it’s ever been, I’m not sleeping well (I’m on a new medication for that, but it’s still early days) and I’ve fallen of the diet in recent weeks. I find myself missing solitude more, but at the same time I’m wary of too much of it. I’m planning to ask my psych for an boost in my dose or a new set of pills. Therapy on Wednesday. Therapy is good and needed.

Good night all. Be seeing you.