Tabletop RPGs and good beginnings

So at the very end of last year I dragged the spousal unit to the “What should we play in 2017” meeting of the Albuquerque RPG group, and I’ve now attended all 4 of the weekly Thursday night gaming sessions that have taken place this year.

Why? That’s easy. Because it’s one of those meetups where what we play is sort of based on who shows up and pitches what, and no game is slated to run for more than a few sessions. Kind of like the sampling-buffet of RPG gaming, and for the way I am right now it’s perfect.

In week 1 we played Lady Blackbird, which was super fun. It’s an incredibly elegant little game with a lot of room for story that could easily have gone for more than a session but was satisfying as a one-off as well. Pick it up, it’s free!

In week 2 we played a Fate-accelerated homebrew kids vs. zombies game run by a member who had never GMed before. I always enjoy taking part in those because it’s very rewarding to see people want to try being on the other side of the screen (though actually pretty much nobody uses screens on the Thursday night games). She did extremely well for a first time and I hope she gained enough confidence to keep running stuff. It’s also always fun to play kids.

In week 3 we played another zombie game, this time with the End of the World rules, and that’s an interesting little system too, which shows very clearly how the underlying design assumptions affect how the game is played. As in, the design of D&D is almost exclusively based around killing monsters in dungeon crawls, and that’s what the game rewards you for doing – in general, players will tend to do what rewards them because duh, reward. We had to make characters that were basically ourselves, and I found that surprisingly constraining; it would have been a great deal easier to be heroic had I been playing anyone *but* myself, but of course that’s part of the point of the game.

It also demonstrated once again a principle I learned back in 1989, which is never to let the players go shopping in-character if you want the game to move smartly along. Especially during the beginning of a zombie apocalypse when you just don’t know what exactly you might need.

This week I was going to run Mythender, another free game where you get to punch Gods and monsters in the face (or get punched) (or end up as one of the myths you’re trying to defeat), but with one group off playing a multi-session Necessary Evil game we only had 3 players total and I didn’t want to have to deal with tweaking a system I only cracked open on the same day I was planning to run it. (Meanwhile, author Ryan Macklin kindly offered on Twitter to give me some tips, so I’m definitely rain-checking it for another night.) More on Mythender when it does get run.

So we ended up playing Dog Eat Dog because one of the players has been asked to run a game of it for a 7th-grade history class. It’s basically about colonialism and what happens on and to both sides, but has the potential to be applied to any kind of ‘colonisation’ where one entity takes over another — you could potentially apply it to cult dynamics, or even possibly to something as nebulous as the inexorable takeover by Hollywood of other, smaller film industries.

Two of us played the ‘natives’ and one played the ‘Occupation’, and it was fascinating to play out scenes of how the Occupation gradually killed off and/or assimilated the natives, whose violent rebellion (me) really only ended up making things worse. It made me notice how much the outcome is determined by our cultural expectations, because as a white European player I kind of assume that colonists usually end up ‘winning’, given the history I’m taught.

It shares some similarities with Microscope, which I’m also looking forward to playing one of these weeks.

The best thing for me about these weekly gatherings is that if I don’t feel up to it on a given week, I’m not letting a long-standing regular group down, even if I’d said I’d run something. Out of the 12-15 people I’ve met so far (there’s a core of same faces and the rest don’t always come every week), two thirds are able and willing to run stuff as opposed to just playing, and as a group we have pretty much every game under the sun covered. This takes all the pressure off me, which right now is very helpful.

It’s at least good to know that I’m able to get out of the house and interact with people again, though clearly I need to keep an eye on how much I commit to because my mental health and sensory issues don’t usually do what I want them to… Yet. Given the right mix of therapies that may change, but in any case I’m very glad to see I won’t be condemned to never play tabletop again because I have trouble being around people for any length of time. A good start for the year, if only on the gaming front.

On courtesy, phones and the generation gap in tabletop roleplaying

So I came across this on Twitter. But first, a quick caveat.

This is a rant. It is not a rant aimed at @GMRaphi in particular, even though I’m using his Tweet as a springboard for the rant. I’m taking issue with what he’s saying — and okay, with his generation (or what I assume to be his generation) — but not with who he is. Because a) that would be a dick move and b) I don’t know the man but he looks like a decent chap.

And an extra caveat a few days later. Yes, it’s all generalisations, that’s what a rant is. Do I think entirely in generalisations? Do I assume what I’m saying applies to each and every possible situation? Of course not. Do me the courtesy of understanding that and understanding that a rant is, by its very nature, a complaint against a general order of things. Yeesh.


I couldn’t find a way to respond in 140 characters so here we go.

  1. It’s impolite, at least to basically anyone of my generation or older. I’m 47 — which, by the way, doesn’t make me decrepit, doesn’t make me incapable of understanding the internet (we invented it, assholes), and doesn’t make me stupid — and where/when I come from, using your phone at the dinner table or while you’re out with your friends is just plain rude. It’s the same at the gaming table — we’re gathered to be here together, not to sit here individually checking our Twitter feed. If you want to sit in your social media bubble, do it somewhere else.
  2. It’s beyond self-centered. Just because my character isn’t in the limelight and it’s somebody else’s turn to act, I get to switch out and do something else? Seriously? Why exactly are you getting together with 3-6 other people to play a game if all you give a shit about is your character’s rolls and shining moments? If I were older and more curmudgeonly I’d say this is a perfect example of how entitled and self-centered the millennial generation is, but instead I’ll just glower and tell them to get off my lawn.
  3. To me, it’s a sign that you can’t really be bothered to be there, and/or that you’d rather be tweeting about what you’re doing than actually taking part in what you’re doing. Which, I know, is life these days — we don’t go to events to enjoy the event, we go to events so that we can take selfies of ourselves attending the event so that… I dunno. I don’t get that, which is probably another sign of my lack of hipness with the times. (Which my use of the word ‘hip’ just confirmed.)

I also know that responding in any way to what could just as easily have been a troll on some random forum is largely pointless. I don’t know the chap in question, he might just want to be provocative (because I’ve never done that, nope), and I just happened to come across some Twitter friends’ responses. If it’s a troll, responding is useless. If it’s a generation thing, responding is equally useless because we have the cellphone-grafted generation that prefers to read a thing on social media than to be at the thing and we have the pre-cellphone generation that still understands what it’s like to attend a thing and not just for the sake of filming it on your iPhone — and never the twain shall meet.

It’s ironic. Not so long ago, I was of the generation of young assholes that were destroying all that was good and kind about the world and the reason we couldn’t have nice things. Now I’m the one complaining about the young whippersnappers.

Except in this case, I’m right. If you’re going to attend a tabletop game (or a virtual tabletop game for that matter), ask if it’s ok to use your phone or tablet or whatever. Some GMs won’t have a problem with it. I sure as hell will. And if it’s not OK, then don’t pout, don’t sulk (no matter how good you millennials are at the whole passive aggressive thing), just fucking put your fucking phone away and BE AT THE THING like a normal human being. Show some interest in someone else other than as a link to your own coolness.

In short: don’t be a dick.



Freebie Calendar – The Roll of Doom

So in the end there were only like 3 names to roll between for my ah-mayzing calendar giveaway, literally:

And since I’m a useless tosser and forgot that yesterday was Monday and The Great Roll-Off day, I’m going to roll it live right now. Please try to contain your excitement.

We’re going to use our handy-dandy Wizards of the Coast dice roller:

WOTC roller

And we’re going to roll 1d3. We could roll 1d6 and assign two numbers to each contestant. Or 1d100 and ignore the 100, or… Whoops sorry, going all nerdy there for a second. Stephanie shall be 1, Syl shall be 2, and TBCKAB shall be 3. 4 is right out. Anyway, heeeeeere we go. Drum-roll please…..


Syl wins the calendar!

/corks pop /applause /and-the-crowd-of-5-goes-wild

kermitwildIncidentally, the main image results for Googling “Kermit goes wild” are enough to make you lose your faith in humanity. Assuming you had any to begin with.

@Syl, you’re going to have to PM me your snail-mail address, though there’s no huge hurry since I don’t have either calendar yet. I’m guessing this won’t happen until the new year. You can reach me at ysharros at gmail dot com.

Christmanukkahwanza freebie

Now that the Kickstarter is over, I have a buddy one of Matthew Stawicki’s 2016 Calendar to give away for the Holidays*. Comment below, or on G+/FB/Twitter and your name will be added to a hat. I’ll do a random roll thingy on Monday the 14th.

I’m not certain I can swing sending this outside the US. International shipping rates are crazy at the moment… But feel free to take a shot if you want one.

Stawicki calendar 2016
* I have no idea whether I’ll actually get my calendars in time to send them on for Xmas, so I use the term loosely.

IntPiPoMo – final miscellanea

I was going to write about how the Sims seems to have ended up as my go-to solo game for the last 6 years (since the Sims 3 came out, in fact), but I can’t seem to find my old Sims 3 screenshots. They’re not lost — they’re just buried in what is now a secondary-secondary drive slaved in from the computer I had back in 2009. And I can’t be arsed to go find them.

Instead, here are a few of the other screenies I came across while looking for the ones you’re not going to see.

Guild Wars 2

I didn’t play it for more than a few weeks, but it sure was pretty.






FFXIV – A Realm Reborn

After a very unfortunate beta and first launch (tried one and therefore skipped the other), FFXIV came back better, stronger and faster. I thought I’d play it until the earth got swallowed by the sun, but like so many other MMOs I’ve played in the last decade, it didn’t stick. I’m not sure why, because I have very fond memories of it — aside from the need to do dungeons to progress the main story whether I wanted to or not — but as I wrote elsewhere I think that has a lot more to do with me and the lack of a constant group of known-people (friends, even) to play with than with any flaws in the game itself.





…Aaaand, that’s 50 (52 for the nit-picky). If Thanksgiving weekend food-excess and torpor allow, I might post a few more before November becomes December, but don’t count on it. Thank God for IntPiPoMo, or I might not have posted at all this month! Ahhh Blaugust, where art thou?

Happy Thankstuffing, US folks. Belated Thanksgiving, Canadia folks. Booyah, everyone else.

IntPiPoMo – Warhammer Online

I have to do some Warhammer Online screenies, because getting into that beta and joining Casualties of War (a guild by bloggers for bloggers (and anyone else)) was what started this blog. And through this blog I’ve met millions and millions of new people — okay, a couple hundred maybe. And a few dozen of those I like a lot and am friends with (is it YOU? Is it not you? And if it isn’t you, why isn’t it you?!). And a handful of those I am now good friends with, some of them even IRL. So yeah, definite turning point that was.

Besides, it was an excruciating amount of fun, if only for a little while. It’s also the only MMO ever where I played a healer as a healer (as opposed to playing a Shadow Priest or a Feral Druid) and had fun doing it. I don’t seem to have many screenshots of Amariel the Archmage, but that’s probably because I was too busy spamming heals in scenarios to actually stop and take pictures. The pix below are therefore from Ysharros, my solo char.

Kaltlauf 1900

I don’t remember what all the places are, but that’s ok. I remember the fun. And as a little nostalgia kick for anyone else who played, here’s a link to THE DUDE WITH THE THING. It actually applies to pretty much any PvP carry-the-thing scenario. There is one rule: KILL THE DUDE WITH THE THING.

Ysh and big skelly

Ysh and the Big Nasty


Dresden Files Accelerated RPG

Eeeeee, we’re in we’re in we’re in! I haven’t been this excited about a beta for ages. And we must be super-ultra-mega special (okay, or just lucky with the RNG) because according to Mr. Hicks himself,

… with 50 slots for 850 applicants, even if everyone’s equally awesome (a possibility), there’s a less than 6% chance of getting in.


I will be posting about this because it’s not only allowed but actually encouraged. What I can’t do, obviously, is discuss rules-y stuff and other stuff that’s in the materials we use to play. I’m sure that leaves a TON of room for frothing madly about how much fun we’re having. Because we will have fun. OR ELSE.

DFRPGA beta two

Now to make sure I can actually round up enough players at the right time to get some sessions going. If you’re reading this and interested, leave your contact email or G+ handle in the comments below so I can invite you to the Google+ community we made. Or mail me at ysharros -at- gmail -dot- com, or circle me on G+ and post on my wall or whatever it is the cool kidz do to hit each other up on G+. I am totally prepared to run multiple groups. I am only mildly manic at the prospect of not only running again, but running a game for an IP for which I am a self-admitted rabid fangirl.

HOW I plan to do this with work and the maternal unit here for the next month is a bridge I’ll burn when I get to it. I don’t have the super-seekrit rulez dokument yet anyway.



Poll Saturday – 5 September 2015

asuraI didn’t play Guild Wars 2 for more than a few weeks (not for any nefarious reason, just had other games and things to do), but I know a lot of people who do and who have loved it. I also know a lot of ink was spilled this week concerning the raids and whatnot. So now that passions have had a chance to cool a little, here’s a poll, just to see how folks feel.

I tried to balance the possible answers but I have NO pretensions to knowing how to build an unbiased poll. And this is just for kicks – mostly I wonder how the raiders feel about it. My general impression is raiders always love more raids, but since they didn’t exist in GW2, are even the raiders worried about what this might do to the game as a whole, not to mention to the community and the general tone?

Feel free to expand in the comments.

EDIT — Edited to remove the don’t know / don’t care answer which I wasn’t intending to allow in the first place since they don’t bring much to the table. Apologies to the person who got one past me. 🙂   OK fine, I put the Don’t know / don’t care answer back in. I still don’t see what it’ll bring to the discussion, but I am nothing if not pliable when it comes to the whims of my readers.

EDIT2 – The damned poll isn’t behaving. I give up. By all means add 18 ‘other’ answers as you like. /le_sigh

Blaugust Day 31 – Ultimation

[Which was the only reason I wanted to call yesterday’s post Penultimation. Ah well. Next year.]

I’ve been too busy and/or sleeping (meece feeding every 3 hours overnight, Ysh-face =  >:-|  ) to check Feedly yet this morning — whoops, afternoon, even for me — but I’m sure our Blaugosphere is full of these posts. And I’m equally sure there’s an ambivalent mix of OMFG IT’S DONE IT’S DONE IT’S DONE SOMEBODY GET ME A BUCKET OF TEQUILA AND SOME FIRECRACKERS!!! — or maybe that’s just me? — and “Damn, it’s actually done. We did it! However much we posted, however well we posted, however much we read and commented and liked and hi-fived — it’s done. Huh. I might even miss it. Just a little. While I down my second bucket of tequila.”

Thank you author. I have no idea who you are because following links led me to a site in Iran, not much help, but thank you.

It’s been a trip. I’m not going to get all number-y on you because TAGN is so much better at it (remember girls, math is tough!) and did his Blaugust wrap-up post yesterday. Not because he’s a teacher’s pet or anything, just because he’s Borgishly efficient. I’m tempted to keep prefacing my posts with Blaugust all the way through September and October just to give him something to curl his lip at in Feedly.

(Okay, Blaugust is over, I guess I should stop picking on him. Pax.)

A little more seriously though, while I suspect TAGN has 83 times the traffic I do, the sources of our traffic are oddly similar so there’s no reason for me to reprise his analysis. I thought I’d get a significant traffic boost from Blaugust, but I didn’t really. I got quite a boost over January – July 2015, during which I barely posted, but this month’s numbers are comparable to last year’s numbers at this time. Which is nowhere near what they were 3 or 4 years ago, but that’s basically what happens when you stop posting; I’m surprised as many people still did visit throughout the Great Stylish Drought of 2013-2014. (Apologies to California.)

The vast majority of my traffic comes from search engines and always has. The most viewed post this month was the silly, glib and utterly throwaway post about the WoWspansion, by which I mean it was even more glib than usual for me. That would me mildly irritating if I didn’t already know that’s how things go — my most-viewed post ever is another throwaway one with a simple link to a FF XIII post on Gamasutra – that’s it. I guess it shows up on search engines a lot.

I’m getting more traffic from Twitter now than I used to, which isn’t hard because I got practically none, and I’m sure I have the lovely @RowanBlaze and his RTs to thank for that — not to mention everyone else who has RTd me, of course. I’m getting quite a few new followers over there too, bafflingly. I suspect I just don’t get the basic point of Twitter, which seems to be to follow as many people as possible in the hope of having as many people as possible following you so that you can say “Hey! I have Xty-million followers, that’s 1.27 more than you!” Or something. The “Oh yeah, I know you” people I follow back. Some of the “Um, who? But sure, you seem interesting” people I also follow back. The obvious bots (you know, Egghead icon, 78k tweets, 0 followers) I block. As for the rest, I just hope my insignificant, glib and usually irrelevant tweets vanish into the raging torrent of their 6k+ followed feed.

As you can tell, I’ve spent some time on Twitter this last month, probably more than I have in 5 or so years. It’s kinda neat to be able to bat silly little text-snippets back and forth with people almost in real time… but it also makes me deeply uncomfortable. Being on Twitter ‘live’ is like having a thousand tiny lampreys nibbling at your soul. Or maybe that’s just me. I’m really good at multi-tasking except, apparently, when it comes to social media. And I don’t think one is supposed to be on Twitter the same way one watches an episode of House on TV — or maybe people watch TV like they watch Twitter these days, with 0.3% of their attention, while doing 5 other things. I don’t know. It makes me feel old and vaguely Luddite. Luddite-y? Luddite-ish?

I posted every day, which is cool, mostly because I didn’t expect I was going to  — although in hindsight I’m not so surprised. I’ve never had any problem waffling. It’s the interesting, useful, perhaps even thought-provoking content that’s been so conspicuously absent from this blog for the last few years, and that’s what I’m agonising over. But if Blaugust has shown me one thing, it’s to stop bloody agonising and just do it. If I truly am blogging for myself, as the lady keepeth protethting, then surely it doesn’t matter what I write. Just because a post (or three years’ worth of posts) isn’t interesting doesn’t mean I’m not capable of being interesting or thought-provoking anymore. Right!


… Anyone?

…. Bueller?


– – – – –

PS: Meece still alive and doing as well as can be expected. Feeding them is still a major PITA. I think we over-estimated their age – they now appear to be about 4 days old, so they were 2 days old tops when we found them. Brought them to our vet just to get their opinion and everyone there went aiiiiieeeeee hanta aieeeee tularemia leper mice outcast unclean! so we came home again. (Our vet is a lovely practice. I’m being overly facetious.) I’m just waiting for their silly little mouths to get big enough to make feeding less of a hit-and-miss, make-sure-they-don’t-inhale-it-and-DIE kind of tension-fest.

Blaugust Day 28 – You Don't Say?

Metrics and traffic and referrers, oh my!

I actually don’t care too much about those, though there is something hypnotic about clicking on all the little metrics bars for all the different time periods, at least here in WordPress. But I checked the Comments info out last night and it did make me laugh, so I’m sharing it with you. Actual numbers have been removed a) to hide my shame or b) to not shame others, or c) because they really don’t matter — take your pick.

The screenie below shows the comments each month for the last 12 months, starting in September 2014. The smallish peaks (December and April) coincide with me doing a lot of Sims Legacy challenge posts alongside  WoW-Draenor and my usual fluff. January – March see me putting out exactly four posts each month, which doesn’t really give people much to talk about.

2015 blog comments

And so we circle back to Kanter’s decision to comment on at least one blog post a day during Blaugust. I loved that idea and though I haven’t actually kept notes (even mentally) of whether I’ve commented every day or not, I’m pretty sure I’ve managed at least one comment on one blog every day for the last 26 days — not counting my own, obviously.

I’m probably even happier about that than I am about blogging every day, because the latter is purely a self-involving exercise whereas the former requires me to interface with other people, something I’m occasionally happy to do in spades (with appropriately long sanity breaks in between) but don’t like to have to do all the freaking time every day every week for a whole freaking month and not just a February month noooo a 31-day month and can you tell this is starting to wear me down?

I’ll tell you one thing about blogging every day, commenting every day, and interacting on Twitter every day* – it does get to be a habit, and one I’m not sure I want to give up. It brought me back to my blog and other people’s blogs and has renewed my enthusiasm, if not for MMOs, then at least for talking about them with other people. I’ll just have to find that proper balancing point between ‘often enough’ and ‘so often it makes me want to chew my keyboard’.

– – – – – – – – – –

* Which has been by far the most exhausting part of the whole endeavour, for me. I enjoy it, but God it’s tiring. Expect me to go Twitter-mute for a while without warning.