All for one…

So, how am I doing? For starters I’m ferociously irritated at how slowly the new WordPress set up runs on my tiny laptop, but thanks to my lovely, talented and above all, patient, wife I hope to master these new features in time.

The brain drugs continue – I’ve had a progress meeting with one of my brain doctors about the situation and we’re sticking with things for now. Yes, there’s some side effects, but they fit in line with with what’s expected. Progress is slow, but continuing. Sword continues to be a blast – further bouting Tuesday night taught me that I’ve a long way to go, but there was one moment when everything clicked and it felt beautiful. Progress is wonderful. It also made a refreshing change from the vicious avian assault I suffered earlier in the evening when eating dinner I was assailed by a pack of seagulls determined to claim my burger for themselves. In future I shall have to eat somewhere more secluded.

Turning to gaming, I’ll be GMing again, or as the kids say, I’m back on my bullshit. I pitched a couple of ideas to one of my groups and Crimson Skies was chosen. Not gonna lie, I still want to run the Torchwood Sydney game (The other one I pitched), but that’s best suited for another group. So, adventures to write, rules to learn, NPC’s to cast and my nerves to clamp down on. As nervous as I am about stepping back behind the screen again, I’m really looking forward to it. Cause as much stress as GM’ing can be, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun and in this year of NO FUN, I’ll take any happiness I can get.

Turning back to swords, rapier led me back to something I hadn’t seen in a few years, that being the 1993 Disney adaption of The Three Musketeers. It’d been a few years since I’ve watched it all the way through, though it’s long been a favorite. Yes, as an adaption of the book it’s terrible and takes basically just the names and a couple of plot elements. Characters are impeccably clean, randomly find hats and cloaks and it completely omits how much of a bastard d’Artagnan is in the book. I keep meaning to find an film or TV adaption of the book made in France, as I’m sure numerous have been made. Hell, there was a Russian version done in 2013. But the thing is just so much damn fun that I can’t help but love it.

Kiefer Sutherland makes a decent Athos, and seems to be the only one taking things seriously. I mean yes, he’s no Oliver Reed, but the 73/4 version is the standard against which I hold all other adaptions. It’s difficult to watch Charlie Sheen without thinking of his (not so) private life and it’s said he missed the fencing training owing to being busy filming Hot Shots 2. It shows. Michael Wincott as Rochefort continues the fine tradition of villainous eyepatches that started with Christopher Lee and basically plays the same part as he did in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Chris O’Donnell tries, bless him, and fails, but his d’Artagnan is just wet. I think he’s trying for teen idol, but it doesn’t work. As for the supporting cast, Gabrielle Anwar’s Queen Anne is barely there, and Paul McGann gets a dual role as an adversary of d’Artagnan (With an outrageous accent) and as one of the Cardinal’s guards, hiding under a false mustache.

And now we get to the performances the film is known for. For me, Tim Curry will always be Cardinal Richelieu. Not a clown, a devil or a Transylvanian, but the Cardinal. And really, it’s peak Curry. The smirk is full blast, the evil grin is set to maximum and the way he walks with his robes trailing outwards is *chef kiss* There’s a fine art to chewing the scenery and Curry is a master at it. The glint in his eyes at the line “All for one, and more for me” could bring a tear to the eye. I’m pretty sure this was the first film I saw Curry in and much like your first Doctor being your favorite, it remains my favorite role of his*.



And now we come to Oliver Platt as Porthos. If there’s anyone who’s having more fun than Curry, it’s him. It’s a performance stuffed with so much ham that it could give BRIAN BLESSED a run for his money and I mean that as a compliment. It’s the look of an actor that is stunned to find that he’s getting paid to have so much fun and I’d love to tell the man himself just how much joy it gives me. I’ve no idea what he thinks about the film, but I hope he has fond memories. It’s inspired more than one PC I’ve played over the years and I continue to hope that there will someday be a swashbuckling LARP in my neck of the woods so I can spend the entire time pretending to be Platt in this film.

Yes, I could write more, but sleep beckons. Be seeing you…


*Closely followed by his Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island.

Creativitity and crisis.

it’s funny how those two go together.

How am I? I’m still in the getting used to things phase with my new brain drugs. Getting into a new routine, is starting to come together. The brain is… fuzzy. I’ve noticed the sedative effect quite a bit, not so much on the knock me out level, but there’s been moments when they’ve kicked in and I’m slightly slurring my words and trying not to collapse. Crom only knows what a full strength dose will do to me. It’s been pointed out that my temper has been a bit more hair trigger than normal and while I’m not happy about that, I’m trying to take things in perspective. I’m hoping that’s part of the adjustment period and will smooth out soon.

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Things inside the head… aren’t great, despite what’s going on. Because yes, the petty issues still crop up, the minor frustrations still  irritate and the general malaise of 2020 weighs heavily on me. (My brain has an amazing knack for turning molehills into mountains.) But I keep on reminding myself that, despite all those things, there is good in my life that’s the result of my actions. That I can do good things, and that I am cared about and above all else, worthwhile. Some days that’s easier than others, but I keep trying. Yeah, there’s still things I’d like to change about myself – my no sugar diet has slipped more than a few times in recent months and not just binging on the no sugar added stuff. I’m not proud, but as I’ve said previously, I knew there would be slip ups along the way. Gotta keep trying.

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But there’s also the well, revelation is putting it a bit too high and mighty, that all this has a darker side. That spending all this time with my head in other places is nothing more than a distraction from reality. And yeah, I’ll own up to that good and quick. Look, reality and I, while we get along, we’re never going to be great friends. If looking out the window daydreaming was a sport, I’d be an Olympic champion at it. And the times when I’ve tried to, the brain hasn’t always enjoyed it. Because yes, reality isn’t always a great place to be, let alone in 20 fucking 20. But damnit, I’ll take all the joy I can get right now. I still have the odd thought about becoming a hermit in the woods, but that’s tempered by knowing how that would affect those I care for, and who care about me.


(I haven’t though of that song in well over 20 years till today.)

I’m in a creative spurt, feeling in a good enough place to want to GM a regular game again and by Crom that feels good. Praise from my sword instructors last session had me quipping ‘Woah, tonight’s been great for my ego’ and I’m not joking. I was knackered, but the good kind. I’m not sure how to put it, but rapier may be my weapon of choice, even over longsword. I always thought longsword would be the one, owing to having the most experience with it (and it being the closest thing to a lightsaber), but it seems there’s facets to me I’m still discovering.

It could be the fact that we’re training with steel, or the lovely people in the class or any number of things, but holding one just feels… right. The first sword fight I saw, well the first one that didn’t involve a lightsaber, was the Duel on the Cliffs (Yes, it gets capitals) in The Princess Bride and it may have made even larger an impression on young me than I thought. Plus, rapier allows me to swash my buckle, if you know what I mean, and I’m ALL FOR THAT.

It’s also got me thinking of the next Blackpowder and Bloodlines, assuming it returns (Please?). So, instead of an idiot noble big game hunter, I’ve been brainstorming a grizzled old soldier (Fuck it, the grey in my beard is natural and it’s time to embrace it) or former bodyguard who, in keeping with the theme of our group, has fled the royal court. Perhaps there was some indiscretion on his part, perhaps someone he failed to save, or shouldn’t have slept with (Oh Pax Europa, I hope you run again). Sure, I’d need a stab safe sword and dagger and while Calimacil’s rapiers are stab safe (To my knowledge,  unlike those from Epic Armoury) they’re also not cheap. There’s another bonus to this concept: IT’D BE CLOAK AND FANCY CAVALIER HAT TIME PEOPLE!

To switch topics, I’ve mentioned the Game of Rassilon podcast before, and I wish to sing it’s praises again. A recent episode had me damn near weeping with laughter, that being the live show from last Gallifrey One, Valentine of the Daleks. In place of their usual characters, there was the 2nd Doctor, and his companions, Ian Chesterton, Tegan Jovanka, Craig Owen and his son Alfie, aka Stormageddon, aka Warmageddon, aka the Oncoming Stormageddon. It’s a level of ridiculous that reminds me of my con games and it brings me so much joy.  My highlight from season 1 was Amelia Earheart using percussive maintenance on a small Hadron Collider, but having Stormageddon aged up to a teenager thanks to being near the Doctor regenerating (Albeit with the aid of a lot of story points) was damn close.

I know actual play podcasts aren’t everyone’s thing, but I urge you to give it a shot. (Also, it’s a lot shorter than Critical Role) Secondly, there’s a 2 part arc in the second season where the Doctor and her companions (Along with Staff Sergeant Puppers, a canine member of UNIT and a VERY GOOD BOY) face down a sort of sapient depression and well, it gave me ALL THE FEELS, as the kids say. It was rough to listen to, but handled wonderfully. Were it possible, I would hug them all, but as I can’t I thanked them on Twitter. We do what we can, and thanking people who’s work I love seems a good use for it.

To get serious for a bit, life isn’t easy, nor is admitting you need help. I know I’ve talked about this before, but if you’re going through something, then please, tell someone. Talking may feel like one of the hardest things you can do, but it is worth it. It took me a long time to admit that I had an issue, and longer to start taking steps to deal with it in a worthwhile fashion. Look, I have a lot of regrets. Several lifetimes of them all rattling around the head. But taking that step towards therapy is not one of them. Taking so long to is, but then I remember that I took that step and I don’t feel as bad.

Be seeing you…

Hush now – spoilers.

Not sure how to start this, so here goes. My week started with something wonderful, as I saw a kid pretending a stick was a lightsaber, and humming Duel of the Fates to boot. I managed to stop before grabbing a stick for myself and challenging him, as that would have been well, awkward and inappropriate. I was sorely tempted to congratulate him though. I also started my new meds on Friday.  The brain hasn’t been messed with too much yet, but I’m getting knocked about (metaphorically speaking) trying to wake up in the mornings. Nothing new there. I knew the pills would knock me out, at least that’s one of the side effects listed, but the adjustment period so far has been… interesting. I’m hoping things settle soon.

I bouted for the first time last week at rapier, and while I was far from great, according to the others I’m parrying really well. I just need to remember to attack as well. Mostly I was distracted by that half second of “Fuck me, that parry worked!” and only then does the brain remind me to shove my sword in my opponents face. My footwork also needs work, but I already knew that. Either way, something in my fencing is working well, and I’m really pleased with that. Showing improvement means a lot to me.

On to gaming news: one of the games I play in will be winding up, so I’m getting ready to pitch ideas to the rest of the group. It’s welcome that I’m in that frame of mind to try to run a regular game again, given the brain goblins about how my last couple of attempts have gone. It’s equally lovely that the rest of the group seem OK with me pitching, that they’re willing to have me as GM again. Means a lot.  I’m now back in the position of of ‘I have ideas, I have adventure seeds, but no fucking idea how to convert that into a campaign.’ At the very least, I have a better idea and more planning work done at this point than previously, so that’s something.

I’m also suffering through having two absolutely mind blowing game ideas that I need to keep my trap shut about. I’ve learned from past mistakes, in that in the old times I’d have spilled the beans and either not run them, or had massive demand and then botched them. Keeping in under my hat means I can work on it more, and it’ll hopefully be as good as I imagine it. As for the ideas themselves, one was my wife’s, and ones half mine, half hers I believe. She makes my games better and I can’t thank her enough for that. I’m sure I could set her up as an adventure coach if she wanted.

As for the game’s themselves, I’ll spare you the full scale pitch, but here’s the short versions.

Torchwood Sydney:
Aliens exists, and it’s your job to hunt them down. Some to capture, some to give a stern talking to. You may be wearing a trench coat or have a knack for posing moodily on a rooftop. The plan to run it is as more alien whackiness (The Corsair comes to town, and demands you take them out for drinks!), with the odd bit of alien horror. To put it this way, I’ve no plans to run Countrycide or Children of Earth.

Crimson Skies:
The year is 1937, America is broken apart into smaller nations and you’re part of the nation of Hollywood’s newest militia squadron. Dramatic derring do, swashbuckling in the skies, and you’re on a highway to the danger zone! (I still haven’t found a big band cover of that song, but I should probably watch the film) Also, Errol Flynn will cameo at some point.

The Troubleshooters:
1960’s espionage. It’s our world, but different. How so? Well, last year a joint French and Japanese operation sent a rocket to the moon. The PC’s would be a mix of people, from scoundrels, spies and who knows, who may be working for a mysterious ministry, or for mutual gain. During play, they stumble across a world shattering/conquering conspiracy that they have to thwart! In short, globe trotting action adventure that fits in a BBC studio or parts of England redressed to look foreign.

This will be the one that takes the longest to appear, as the rulebook was only Kickstarted this year and has been Covid delayed.

So, that’s what I’m working on. There’s a common thread, in that I want each of them to be fun. As I’ve stated previously, I like a large element of fun in my events, I don’t really do the grim and intense so much. You know, there’s reasons why I’m not running anything cyberpunk or post apocalyptic…

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Be seeing you…

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Really, as much of a miserable sod as I can be, it’s not all bad.

I’m the only one in my house not working from home (This is both good and bad mind you), the Iron Maidens and Mac Sabbath have rescheduled concerts, my fencing group has been posting online training videos (And Guy Windsor dropped the price on his solo training course down to $20 US) and most of my RPG groups have gone online. My brain doctor is an essential service, though I’m not sure if I’ll be there in person or over the phone. Tracey and I are enjoying The Witcher, and I would very much like Geralt’s banquet outfit from Episode 4, please? I’ve said it before, and will say again – we don’t need more licensed merchandise, we need licensed tailors outside cinemas. Speaking of my wife, I managed to surprise her last night, though it’s more my choice of music that did it. I grant you, smooth jazz and poetry usually isn’t my jam, but when you add Iggy Pop to the mix, well, you have my attention. It’s nice to know that after almost 14 years I can still surprise her.

I’m planning to run one of my old con games over Discord and had the people I’d contacted responding yes in seconds, so that’s something. If things go well (and I’m honestly not sure how I’ll do), I may run some more in future, so watch this space. Oh, and in-case you feel the need to respond to me in future, replying to an offer with “DIVE!” will certainly be counted as a yes. Clarification of that response is not required.

Also, I got my fencing mask painted. There was a lot of time spent on trying to decide what to have painted on it, but there could be only one person fit to guard my face, so to speak. The gentleman in question is a little older than I am, and has worn many faces over the decades, reinventing himself on a regular basis. I had it narrowed down between a few of his classic looks or a more recent incarnation, but in the end, sand won the day. Sand? Well, not that sand.

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The sand comment had you thinking Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker right?

What can I say, other than I’m a slave to the power of death? I adore Iron Maiden beyond all measure, as long term readers will know, and while I was tempted to get Darth Vader’s helmet or the Radio Birdman logo, I had to go with the esteemed Mr Edward T Head. The photo looks lovely, but this thing is flat out gorgeous in person. Many thanks to Morbid Curiosity Fencing Masks for their stellar (and speedy) work!

In other news, my birthday’s on Sunday, and while there’ll be no celebration (I’m not stupid and violating social distancing) I still plan to enjoy the day. Somehow. Maybe I’ll sleep in. How am I coping with the proximity to the big Four Oh? I’m curating a playlist on Spotify, with the plan being to post it on the day. I am not ashamed of this, though looking at the tracks I’ve chosen there’s some miserable stuff there. Some of it’s about aging, other songs have stuck with me over the years. I’m not sure what this means, but at least I’ve not started a podcast. I do plan on buying another sword to celebrate though. There is no such thing as too many swords. No. Such. Thing.

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And no, this is not what I wear when when I fence.

The brain hasn’t been great of late. It’s odd, as I’m the one in the house who’s going outside and yet I think I’m the one who actually wants to isolate. the temptation to get my hair chopped to Keanu Reeves in John Wick 3 length has surfaced again as well. I had the vague idea of when all this is over booking a hotel room for a few days, taking my laptop and some books and just hiding, emerging only to eat and phone loved ones. My introvert batteries need some serious charging. Yes, I spent most of last Saturday asleep, but I put that down to the sleeping pill I took Friday night than a spike in my depression. Sure, I think I’ve had that as well, but fuck, who isn’t dealing with that right now? I’m planning to try a half dose of the sleeping pill the next time and see what happens. For science!

I leave you with a recent discovery of mine. As covers go, that’s pretty damn fantastic, and extra points for the showmanship.

Be seeing you…

The clash of swords and the *ow* my back hurts…

Things are rough.

A virus that’s not the beer of the same name is running rampant, leaving deaths and incompetent governments in it’s wake. All manner of festivals and gatherings have been cancelled, from music, to arts and writers. Toilet paper appears to be the thing that’ll flip the switch to full Mad Max. The Prime Minister seems to care more for football than governing and Red Dead Redemption 2, aka Yee Haa Skyrim, can only provide so much distraction.

Now’s the time to act with caution, but not fear. Remember to be kind to those less fortunate. Thank bus drivers and retail workers. Vent your abuse at late trains at the bosses of the network, not the poor souls who man the stations. Support local stores, and I don’t just mean your FLGS. (Though please do shop there, as my work may supply them.) Chuck artists you’s work you enjoy a few bucks on their patreons, or buy that little thing you like. Tweet at them to say thank you and tell them how much you love their work. Above all, follow the example of two of the finest humans I’ve known, and “Be excellent to each other.” Cause that’s how we’re gonna get through this.

And when election day rolls around, remember how you feel right now. Remember how the inaction, greed and arrogance of some may have harmed those you love, and please, vote accordingly. Think of how you feel now, filled with fear and concern, unable to trust those meant to be running the country, and vote for hope. For a long time I’ve voted against people (It’s always tough to choose between One Nation and Fred Nile for who to put last), but next election I want to vote for something, instead of against it. Maintain the rage, but keep a reason for it. Be constructive, not destructive. Make Joe Strummer proud.

And above all, be kind. There’s a Kurt Vonnegut quote that comes to mind, actually the only work of his I know. (Thanks Andrew P Street!)  It’s quite simple, and it was on my list of things to read at Godson #2’s naming ceremony. “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

It’s not all been doom and gloom. I got to play briefly with a montante (A Spanish greatsword) last week at sword, and while drawing it from the bag my fellow student was carrying it in, the blade rasped against the plastic buckles and made a shlang noise.  I was very, very happy to hear that. It was awesome. As for the rapier class that I’m actually there for, it’s still buckets of fun, though less so for my back. Still, you have to start somewhere. I do miss the Saturday crew though – I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to go back there next term.

The brain has been it’s usual up and down self, and possible work changes are up in the air, thanks to the virus. That’s also had me delay my birthday celebrations, but I’m not entirely unhappy about that. 40’s just another number right? Someday’s the dread of that number is some all encompassing Lovecraftian thing, other days I can sweep it under the rug. I don’t remember what I did at 18 or 21, at 30 I was focused on my upcoming wedding, and now, I don’t know.

I have some more goals to add to the list as well!
Train more at rapier, and get good enough that I feel worthy of buying protective gear and weapons of my own.
Not break down when the Irons (Both Maiden and Maidens) have to cancel owing to corona fears. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m bracing myself.
Get one of my D&D groups to use my character’s name, and not just refer to him as ‘pirate’. Yes, he’s a pirate, but he has a name damn it. If I have to kill one of them, it will be done. “What’s that, you need a healing potion? You’ve one Death Save left? Say my name.”

Time for sleep now. Here’s hoping I make it through the night. undisturbed by the possums in the roof. Be seeing you.