Tabletop RPGs – Firefly

Burn the land and boil the sea

I’m jumping around all these shiny new-to-me systems like a flea with another flea up its butt, and I have to admit the idea of playing Firefly is super-hyper-duper-attractive, at least on paper. In RPGs like in so many other games, sometimes the idea of playing something is a lot better than the actual experience, but we don’t always know until we try it. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to try it.

The Clues before Snooze  group (oh yes please, get me a better name, I’ll pay you in free mints) is now two groups, cunningly named Left-Pondians (North-America) and Right-Pondians (Europe). We’re sitting at 3-6 players for the Left-Pondians and currently 3 for the Right-Pondians, and there are spaces left in the Europe-time group if anyone is interested; let me know in the comments or wherever.*

We have no idea what we’re going to play next, in either group, though I’m glad they all had a good enough time with the Dresden Files Accelerated Edition playtesting to want to carry on. I’m certainly not going to force a system or setting on anyone, though I will definitely argue for trying Firefly in at least one of them, likely the Right-Pondians because Brian, one of our Left-Pondian players, is *gasp* not a die-hard fan of the series. I know, right?! (Here’s an excellent post on how it’s warm and comfy as a childhood Saturday in front of the telly. And yes, Mr. Fillion is totes swoon-worthy as the complete smart yet stupid, slightly bumbling but strong almost-bad-boy, thinking girl’s crumpet package. Ahem. Where were we?)

Firefly

So, yes. Going to be trying this one out, even if I have to play with myself.

Play IT with myself.

Yes. That.

You can’t take the sky from me

In my quest to remember how to GM (which is roughly like riding a bicycle) and almost certainly as a desperate displacement tactic so that I don’t actually have to think about the upcoming don’t-yet-exist omg-what-shall-we-do campaigns — because I’m glutton enough to want to do it not once, but twice, for two different groups — I’ve been reading system books, GMing books, prepping books, GMing and gaming and playing and RPG websites and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! My brand-new download of Evernote is already brimming with things to read, remember, or consider.

I’ve even downloaded the demo version of Scrivener to see if it’ll help me manage my games more effectively, because my management technique is pretty much exactly like what I described my brain to be: an explosion in a gummy-bear factory:

gummybearexplosion

I’ve only run through the tutorial but so far it seems pretty awesome. It’s structured, which will help me, but not so structured that my brain rebels and goes FUCK YOU I’M JUST GOING TO USE POST-IT NOTES THAT WILL FALL OFF THE MONITOR AND GET EATEN BY THE DOGS AND THEN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHO THE BIG BAD WAS WHO TRAPPED TIMMY DOWN THE MINE.

My brain likes to shout at me. The meds should be kicking in any day now.

They also do an idea-jotter that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-quite like a mind-mapping program, called Snapple. No wait, Scrapple. No, that’s not it. Scapple!

Best of all, both versions come with a 30-day trial which is a genuine 30 days of use trial, not a 30-days-from-when-you-install-it trial. That’s the kind of demo I like, especially when it’s for a product that looks as though I might seriously want it. They’re giving me plenty of time to become irretrievably hooked… and then buying them isn’t even that expensive. Oh, they are cunning.

Anyway, to get back to the original point, I’ve added about a million new sites to the Feedly feed I don’t check nearly enough, because somehow in all the other crap going on in my life I’ll find the time to read 25 blog posts every day. (Said lots of people, perhaps, but not me, ever.**)

Here are two I found just today, shared because they cropped up in my search for Firefly reviews and I loved the style and tone of both of them: The Reef and Ed Plays Games. Also, as a French person and French-speaker, I can’t not like someone whose domain name is Nasty Anemone.

All right then. Since this blog post is itself a displacement activity that I’m doing to delay the time I have to sit down and try to brainstorm some campaign ideas (because I want to have a few ideas the groups can spitball off rather than starting in a vacuum and the inevitable awkward silence***), I’d best toddle off and do that thing.

Just like riding a bicycle…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* The groups are intended to meet for sessions once every two weeks, since even in my RPG-deprived state I don’t think I can run two sessions and attend another as a player every week. Prospective players will be asked to commit to that as best they can, or there’s little point in having a ‘regular’ gaming group. We’re currently using Roll20 as a VTT platform and it works rather better than I expected, though we haven’t exactly stretched its capacities so far.

** But I live in hope. I am going to give Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done method another shot in the new year. I’m half-hooked from my first read-through of the method some months back but have yet to apply most of the principles. But I will. Because as a chronically anxious person with real issues finding meds that work, anything that lets me empty the whirling morass that is my brain and occasionally actually relax, knowing that things are under some semblance of control, would be wonderful.

*** See what I did there?

 

 

IntPiPoMo – Dragon Ages

[For the benefit of Gamer Girl’s sanity, these are pix 22-43.]

I have not finished a single one of the Dragon Age games, but I still enjoyed the hell out of what time I spent in them — which is almost none for DA:Inq, but I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually; it pouts at me every time I open Origin and then click on the Sims 4. And I have literally five million screenshots from the various games, which in non-hyperbole-land translates to somewhere around 1,000. Which is still quite a lot.

So here are a few of them for IntPiPoMo. Click to enlarge as usual.

Dragon Age: Origins

[Edit — so I didn’t mean to put in quite so many DAO pix but seriously, they’re all awesome and they all bring back memories, which is exactly what screenshots should do. I might just have to play the game again over Thanksgiving…]

“What’s all this Ridley Scott pollen shit in the air anyway? My allergies are killing me.”

DAO1One of my favourite characters ever, looks-wise. Even though bald and tattooed isn’t usually my thing. She was just BADASS.

DAO2Another badass DAO character. Come to think of it, they were all badass, even the elves (and that’s saying something).

DAO3Yes, I really liked playing the Origin stories. Don’t judge me.

DAO4A) I’m kinda liking this bald thing. It’s a lot more comfortable under helmets. B) My armour may have totally ridiculous cleavage, but at least I’m not wearing a belt over my boobs like that witch bint up there.

DAO5

But she does get all the best lines.

DAO12

Shit just got real, yo.

DAO6Demon bad.

DAO8

DAO7

Hey hero lady, I don’t suppose you can do something about us constantly being covered in blood? My dry-cleaning and armour-scouring bills are killing me.

DAO9

And of course, a dragon.. or eight.

DAO10DAO11

Dragon Age 2 – The Unsubtitled

Still with the dragons?! Oh right, it’s Dragon Age…

DA2_1

Morrigan’s mum, also dragony, also clearly a graduate of the Maleficent School of Sartorial Style.

DA2_2

If the kid says “Enchantment? Enchantment!” ever, at all, where I can hear him, I’m going to gouge his eyes out with a spoon. And I’m not even sure why…

DA2_3

And, uh, that’s it apparently. I got a bit further than that in game but it just wasn’t grabbing me as much.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Which is still better than how far I got in this game: maybe 3 hours and barely out of the tutorial (I think). Even so, I have 90 screenshots, which averages out to one every 2 minutes, so either I knew IntPiPoMo was coming up (a whole year down the line almost to the day), or I just thought the game was very pretty. Hell, even the “Game is loading” screen was awesome.

I should actually play this sometime, I suspect.

DAI_1

I’m only in the character creation section and already I’m way more badass than the other bints you made. Keep me. We will kill many things together.

Sorrow2_1

Holy crap these game controls SUCK. Or YOU suck. You almost made me shoot an arrow up my own butt!

DAI_2

I swear, guys, I have no idea where that’s coming from!

DAI_3

DA:I demon – now with 25% more arachnid!

DAI_4

Did I die and end up in Medieval Band heaven? Well, at least the outfit’s not bad.

DAI_5

 

 

 

 

 

Wot I'm Playing – September 2015

This is a total cop-out post because I’m not actually playing anything, hee hee, ho ho. So you’re about to be regaled with all the games I’m not playing, which has been a quarterly litany this year.

WARNING: Do not click the subheading links unless you want to watch extremely silly and definitely NSFW comedians on YouTube. YHBW.

A Compuder

I’m not playing WoW, even though the Draenor flying patch is in and whatnot. Not for lack of interest — well okay, partly for lack of interest — actually, wait, almost totally for lack of interest. And not just in Warcraft. Nothing is really calling my name these days. I’m also not playing TSW, though I keep both games up to date. I’ll have to log back into TSW soon, if only to take more screenshots. Easily the best game evar for moody and evocative screenshots — and for allowing me to make a character that looks the way I would totally love to look in that grindy-ass Real Life game.

It doesn’t help that MMOs are better with other people. But other people tend to play in the evenings, and in the last 6-36 months I’ve tended to conk out right around the time the sun goes down. (Turns out that’s almost certainly the medications I’m on and not just some weird mutation that’s turning me into a sloth, but that’s a whole other story for another time.)

I got all up in ARK‘s business for what, a week? … and haven’t fired it up since. (Playing alone probably didn’t help that one.) I played Shadowrun: Hong Kong and that was super fun, but when I thought I was about a third of  the way in it turns out I was almost at the end, and I finished it before I truly realised what was happening. Super fun but too damn short! Of course, it includes some sort of development platform so maybe there will be other adventures to play. It was never intended to be another Skyrim or Witcher, after all.

Speaking of the Witcher, been meaning to pick up the 3 that people are raving about but haven’t got round to that either yet. In fact, if you were to check my to-do list you’d notice I haven’t done a single item on it.

I haven’t played my new Sims 4 Legacy family in over a month — but there I’m not so worried, because I always go back to the Sims. After looking down my nose at that game for a number of years (and incarnations 1 and 2), I picked up Sims 3 on a whim in 2009 and have been pretty regularly hooked ever since. I don’t play it all the time, but I do play it several times a year for a month or so. So the Stylishes will be back, sooner or later, and I may even post about them someday.

What I have been doing is preparing for the impending parental visit. My mum will be staying with us for ONE. WHOLE. MONTH., so we have to brace ourselves and assume crash positions. And clean the house. Lots and lots and lots of cleaning the house.

airplane_crash_position

Me? Mobile games? With my reputation?

It’s also possible I’ve been *cough* playing a few mobile games. I never did get the point of those until I got a decent tablet; the only games I have on my phone are sudoku, crosswords and a Bejeweled clone and I hardly ever play those as it is. But on the iPad… hell, if it moves I’ve downloaded it. Well, not quite, but I’ve tried out a few games. And I spend a few moments every day doing whatever non-in-app-purchase moves I can do. Which isn’t many, but when you have about 6 games that’s about an hour’s worth.

I’m currently farting about with Happy Street (which fails to hook me but is super cute and so easy it hurts, and it’s all Syl’s fault), Paradise Bay (ditto with nice Disney-like graphics), Adventure Capitalist (seriously, making money to buy more stuff and make more money faster? I might as well be raiding), Best Fiends (which is super cute and kind of fun, since I like match-3 games), and the standard crosswords, sudoku and mahjongg.

Le tabletop game est sur la table

And of course there’s the attempt at a tabletop group and some games. There’s a G+ community going at the moment with a half-dozen folks, and we’ve met up a couple of times on Roll20. Yesterday we did some character creation with about half the group and will fit the other half in as and when schedules allow.

[Tangent-ish: speaking of which, because the schedules and time zones of the current dirty half-dozen are so hard to reconcile, I’d be happy to sort out two or even more groups – playing or GMing, I’m easy. So if you’re interested in playing something FATE-related, or even finding out what the big deal is about FATE, leave your Pathfinder books at home and holler at me in the comments, or on G+.]

Oddly enough it never occurred to me that scheduling is possibly even harder online than it is in person. I expected it to be the opposite… but we have 2 players from the UK, 4 from the US East Coast, and me in the US South-west, which gives us a 7-hour time-zone spread and makes things a little complicated. Add to that some odd work schedules (some folks have non-Sat/Sun weekeneds, some work rotating shifts, some have pretty hefty workloads, we all have other external commitments, etc. etc. etc.) and I swear it’s been harder getting us to our computers and keyboards than it would be to head down to my local game shop and kidnap a few callow youths.

Problem is, I don’t want callow youths. One of the best things about getting older and being an experienced gamer is that you get to play with other older and/or experienced gamers — gamers who don’t think a dungeon crawl with 10,000 gp as a reward is the best thing you can get out of tabletop games. (Not that I have anything against a good Monty Haul campaign, mind you, but I did outgrow those in the 90s.) Or, to be a bit more tolerant of the chronologically-challenged, I don’t want inflexible callow youths. I want to play with folks who don’t mind stretching their gaming comfort zone, as I am currently trying to do.

In fact, what I’m really doing is trying out systems that formalise how my RL friends and I played for years. We didn’t always play so-called storytelling or story-heavy systems, but we always played them as though they were. Character was paramount (possibly herded by a literature major who has very definite opinions about whether character drives plot or the other way around *cough*). And–

And so on. Since this is still nominally an MMO blog, at least until I change the tagline at the top of the page, I won’t froth about tabletop gaming. But the 2 semi-sessions that have been managed have been fun so far; here’s hoping we’ll manage a few more.

The Obligatory Comment-Inducing Question at the End

And you? What have you been playing or wishing you had time to play? Do you think the moon is made of cheese? Who really shot JR? And was the ending of LOST lame or what?

 

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 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.

 

Blaugust Day 27 – Game MMOver?

Well, at least by now I’ve learned how to type Blaugust and not Balugust, Blagaust, or Blasgut. Small victories, folks — small victories.

I’m careening full-speed ahead on my tabletop RPG kick. It’s energising me far more than the thought of any MMO has in the last [insert time span]. In fact, thinking about tabletop playing has energised me far more over the last 4 or 5 years than MMOs have; the fact that in half a decade I still haven’t managed to get myself a regular group with a regular game is entirely my fault and not that of the poor games I’ve perused, pondered and reminisced over. Like my writing (what writing, we ask?), it’s something I really, really want to do — in the case of tabletop gaming, because I actually enjoy it as a social activity and because it’s a great creative outlet… But, as with “proper” writing, I spend more time wanting to do than actually doing. Again, this is entirely my own fault. Time to stop QQing or going down nostalgia lane and DO SOMETHING about it. But for now, let’s talk about MMOs.

MMO QQ

Last night, as I lay wide-awake after too much coffee too late in the day and too many creative juices churning with no outlet (they should make a pill for that), I wondered once again whether I’ve finally outgrown MMOs. I’m not the only one to ponder this during Blaugust or indeed at any other time of year, so perhaps it’s simply part of growing up and growing older, this wondering whether we have outgrown the things we used to love so passionately.

Perhaps. But it’s been 15+ years since I played Ars Magica and I’d play it again like a shot given the chance, so clearly I haven’t outgrown that — or moved on from tabletop RPGs. Not playing because I lack the gorm to get a group together /= having outgrown it.

I think my problem with MMOs is that I have nobody to play them with. Which may seem like a rather sharp about-face given my usual stance on solo vs. group, but that’s playstyle, not playing. I’ve always preferred bimbling around by myself in MMOs — I don’t mind mine being the only butt I see onscreen… but up until a few years back there were always a bunch of other people also bimbling around at the same time, single-butted or otherwise, and I was in constant contact with them through chat.

alone together

In Asheron’s Call we had a large and active monarchy (guild) and loads of people to mess around with even using the incredibly primitive chat. A number of the AC monarchy people moved to Star Wars Galaxies when that came out, and we had friends both old and new cursing the not-so-primitive but also non-functioning chat. We moved from SWG to (City of Heroes, briefly, then to) World of Warcraft, so there again we had old-old friends, new-old friends from SWG, and new-new friends from WoW to chat with on various channels.

And that’s sort of where it ended. I moved on to EQ2 in 2006 or so, and while I made quite a few new friends there, it wasn’t the same either in quantity or in quality… and it only went downhill from there. In the last decade we’ve seen an explosion of MMOs, and while that’s a good thing in many ways, one of its less social effects is that it has diluted my pool of available friends and acquaintances when it comes to having people to play alone with, together. We’re all still playing, yes (albeit probably not as much as we did back in 2005), but we’re not playing the same games.

Or not at the same time, anyway. Many of us hop around from one game to another, myself included. In the last 5 years I’ve played more games than I care to count, but none of them for more than 3-6 months at a time. We try new games as they come out, and for a few weeks I’m back in the halcyon days of having plenty of folks I know in-game to talk and mess around with… and then I lose interest, or they lose interest, or for whatever reason we move on.

bored

I really thought I’d come home when I started playing the SWG Emulator, as my posts back then attest. There were only a dozen or so of us playing but it was enough to keep the social momentum going. And then… one by one, folks dropped away. Including me. My enthusiasm was in full fire in April this year… and by July it had petered out to nothing. I haven’t logged on in over a month and my houses are probably on fire (well, houses don’t burn, but you can be sure my harvesters are gone). The worst part of it is, I don’t really care.

Because MMOs simply aren’t as much fun when the O doesn’t stand for “Others”, whether their character is on your screen or whether it’s just the characters they type in guild or global chat.

You can never go home

The social aspect is by no means the only reason MMOs are going stale for me, even if it’s a large part of the reason. I know I can slaughter 10 foozles over and over again for ages in the right company, because — well, because I’ve been doing it for 15 years in 30 different games. But there’s another rub: the 2015 foozles have better graphics and perhaps slightly better AI, but the beast itself hasn’t changed substantively.

It’s undeniably another reason why MMOs are going stale for me — even I, with my enormous capacity for repeating content, might be reaching my limit. I stumbled across this post from 2011 just now while looking for links to something else, and it shows that the growing malaise with endlessly doing the same thing in MMOs isn’t exactly new. How quickly we forget the dawn of time when everything was shiny and fun, even after 10,000 foozles. Ah, 1999, those were the days.

But that’s human nature, I suspect.

Back to the beginning

And so we circle back to tabletop RPGs. I started playing MMOs in 2000 because a friend told me it was just like tabletop roleplaying, only online*! You could play with other people at any time of the day or night!! You didn’t have to wait for your half-dozen friends to have a free weekend and pile everyone into a small UK house for 72 hours every 3 to 4 months!!! You could even play alone if you had to and get eaten by a pixellated grue!!

I didn’t get into MMOs because I played computer games (although I played quite a few, including MUSHes). I got into MMOs because they were supposed to be just like tabletop gaming, only different.

Turns out they’re too different, at least for me. I can’t roleplay in an MMO, for various reasons described elsewhere — or rather, I can but I don’t enjoy it. And the thing about roleplaying is that you’ll never have the same experience twice. Sure, some events will resemble other events, some plots will be rather similar to other plots, but those just add to the RP lore and mythos in your mind and in the shared memories of the group.

That element of creation, permanence and effect on the world — even an imaginary one — coupled with the social aspect is what I’m missing in my MMOs. It’s not that MMOs have become crap, or worse than they were, because if anything they’re improving (even if the WoW model is getting a little stale); it’s just that I can no longer pretend I’m getting out of them what I got out of tabletop RPGs.

So while I may dabble in my usual MMOs for the foreseeable future, I’ll be turning my energies to the tabletop arena. It’ll recharge my batteries and who knows, it might even help me recover that sense of fun in online gaming.

dark side

You’re welcome to join me. I’m going to set up some kind of social phlumphty-phlump (AKA I have no idea what to use — Google Hangouts? Vent? Skype? Roll20?) to chat with anyone who’s interested in trying (or returning to) tabletop gaming.

 

* You did have to pay exorbitant phone fees in the era of minute-based internet connections, but we won’t go there.

 

 

 

 

Blaugust Day 26 – LFG PNP RPG

TL;DR: #Blaugust-ians, don’t give up! The end is nigh! (And this is a good thing for once.) Zen is tough. Cute red panda. Call for tabletop RPG players. Poll results = CHEESE WINS.

As #Blaugust wanes, so does the energy of the, err, at least 460(ish)* bloggers. I’m judging this from my traffic stats, which have taken a modest downward turn this week. Others have noted the same.

I can tell you from my own behaviour that I am browsing fewer blogs this week than I was through the first three weeks of the month, not because they’ve become any less interesting — quite the contrary in fact! — but because I am running out of energy. Social energy, for the most part, which is the part of me that reads and comments on blogs, writes and comments on my own (and cares about the comments), and posts/comments on social media. My social energy bucket is damn near empty, and conversely my introvert AUUGGHOTHERPEOPLE bucket is almost overflowing.

full bucket

[/tangent: re: traffic stats, even that’s not the whole story. I think I have people who are coming back more regularly — and who are more than welcome to keep doing so past Blaugust, ohai regular folks! — and who aren’t browsing several pages and/or posts every time. In the first two weeks of the month I had about twice the number of views as visitors, which I assume is partly people browsing and partly the usual dreaded bots.]

But we’re in the home stretch. Go team #Blaugust! And since I had to edit it into yesterday’s post, here’s a mo’ better proper-like link to Belghast’s post from yesterday. It resonated quite strongly with me.

As time passed, the guilt that I felt grew and the measure of that “epic comeback post” kept growing as well ultimately leading me to wait longer before posting it.

Yup. Hopefully Blaugust will have taught me that there is no epic comeback post. There’s just posting or not posting. I’m still trying to learn — beyond my rational mind, that is, which knows all sorts of things my less conscious mind just ignores — that guilt is entirely counter-productive and definitely destructive. But whole empires have been built on guilt, so it’s a tough one to shake. My mind struggles with the concept that I am not a perfect unique snowflake (forever falling short of the pinnacle of said perfection!) but rather a work in progress. Journey not destination, uphill in the snow, etc. and so on.

Zen is tough. That’s the whole point.

[Insert graceful segue to next section. Um. -mindblank- Ack! Quick, cute animal picture!]

redpanda

LFG PNP RPG

I am on the Evil Hat mailing list. Evil Hat are, among other things, responsible for the FATE Core tabletop RPG system and for the Dreaden Files rules, which are based on the eponymous series by Jim Butcher.

[/tangent: I am a rabid Dresden Files fangirl and will turn upon you the full weight of my two literature degrees – though even I fail to see how a French Lit. degree will help in this case – if you so much as cast an iota of the shadow of an aspersion upon those books. I am not rabid about many things. YHBW.]

Just as there is a FATE Accelerated ruleset, which is a slightly different, streamlined, more immediately accessible (‘grab & go’) version of the FATE Core rules, there will soon be a Dresden Files Accelerated ruleset. There has been an announcement. Said announcement includes a call for playtesters.

I AM SO THERE. I have already applied.

pickme

Unfortunately, it turns out that the spousal unit doesn’t have the head-space for tabletop RPGs at the moment. My single other player is, while a wonderful player, at best unreliable and at worst impossible to pin down for a facetime play session.

So I am left with an application in which I claim to have players I don’t, in fact, have (I should probably have checked with them first, huh?), and a tabletop gaming itch that hasn’t been properly scratched in a decade and a half.

I figure the quandary can be solved by finally selecting one of those newfangled virtual tabletop programs (as opposed to merely farting around with the idea as I did a year or two ago) and calling for players.

I am terrified of this. I like playing with people I know. I haven’t played tabletop games with strangers since Euro GenCon in 1993 or 4. But I figure most people here aren’t entirely strangers and some of them might actually be fellow Dresden fans, or players, or simply interested in the idea.

On the bright side, a) I likely won’t be picked anyway because there will be more applications than they need, and b) the decision isn’t made until the end of September, which gives me a little time. Playtesting would occur — I assume — during October and November (ish? guessing) and would require committing to 4-6 sessions over an 8-week period.

Deadlands

I’ve been wanting to run and/or play (but mostly run, I’ll admit, because I’m jonesing to write another campaign or three) for ages and have done nothing about it. I have a number of RL and e-friends in the same boat, some of whom read this. Let’s do something about it. Whether anything comes of the Dresden Files Accelerated testing or not, I have or can acquire any number of game systems including but not limited to FATE, Ars Magica (I’m a 2/3/4E + many house flanges girl for the most part), Deadlands (which I have never played but picked up on the Bundle of Holding a month or two ago and would love to try), Vampire and clones, AD&D, Shadowrun, Cthulhu etc. etc. etc.

As a GM I tend more towards cooperative story-telling than GM/Player competition. I heartily endorse this essential LOOK ROBOT post on being a great player, which applies just as much to GMs; here’s another very worthwhile post.

This is starting to sound rather painfully like I’m filling out an online dating site profile, so we’ll stop here.

And now for something completely different.

CHEESE

Cheese wins the poll so far, by a landslide 6 votes over 5 for pie. I knew I could count on the Dirty Half-Dozen. Yes, of course I forgot all about the poll until now. It’s not like it was important or anything. I live in a pie- and cake-tolerant world.

See you tomorrow, folks. (Also known as: Shooting Yourself In The Foot or Asking to Roll A Natural 1.)

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* AKA I have no idea. It’s at least 60 based on counting new posts in my reader, and I still haven’t managed to add everyone.

Blaugust Day 23 – Haiku Sunday

Foolishly, no doubt, I have decided to revive a short-lived theme I ran on this blog way back when in 2009; some of the haikus produced by yours truly and a few commenters have been reproduced below. Today’s theme, of course, must be Blaugust – use it if it inspires you, ignore it if it does not. Knock yourselves out or just mock my efforts.

Please don’t haiku-Nazi us about form, subject and imagery. This is purely for fun.

Sunday morning sloth.
My Basenjis look at me -
Why do this blog thing?

It’ll do for something yanked out from behind my eyes in 20 seconds.

I am definitely resisting the post-a-day Blaugust exhortation, and yet I am still doing it, hauling my unwilling ass to the keyboard every morning even though I know I absolutely don’t have to and would probably rather not.

This is typical me (typical me, typical me, I started something…) — I am not a joiner, but then I join things anyway and spend the entire time half-regretting the decision, ambivalent about being around so many people / so much of the time… and actually enjoying myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just a whiny old bag; I sincerely hope not, since being an actual whiny old bag (as opposed to playing one on my blog) is not something I aspire to.

Past Haikus

Melmoth – Theme: Socks
Cold feet in winter.
That stupid Tenacious D:
Rocking my socks off.

Sara Pickell – Theme: Tabula Rasa (just before the fold)
Leaves of amber tint
Glow angry red and blacken
In plasma and rain

Mallika – Theme: Sunday
Relaxing Sunday
Love it when we just stay home
Introverts unite

ArbitraryGenius – Theme: Instances
Just did an instance
there were just four of us there
it was meant for six

Melmoth – Theme: Don’t stand in the fire?
Dancing with spring’s joy.
Autumn’s colour follows him.
Underpants on fire.

Enric Darkstone – Theme: Haiku Sunday
Looking at your posts,
This is your first Haiku one.
Dante Inspired…? -_^

Ysharros – Response
This is the second
Haiku day theme we have had;
There will be others.

Enric Darkstone – Response
My apologies,
I must have missed that posting,
Carry on, madam.

Theme: Hardcore vs Casual

Me:
Did you know this axe
Can slice your head clean off, yep –
Feel lucky, carebear?

Makkaio:
I play a healer
Like it was a tank, so what?
I are L337 d00d3rz

Oakstout:
I love nice purples.
Crafting is my greater love.
How can I do both and live?

Capn John:
The deadliest beast
in Stranglethorn Vale is…
a bored 80.

Blaugust Day 16 – Halfway There

TL;DR: Yay! Halfway! Animal! Stats! No Project: Gorgon play! But ARK! Yay!

I’m certainly not the only one to be doing this kind of post today/yesterday — and those were only a few of the links I could have done, because I’m shamefully behind on my RSS feed.

Point being:

halfway-thereOr screw calm and just:

animal smallEvery morning as I sit down at my desk I’ve been moaning and whingeing to myself about having to post. And then I’ve been moaning and whingeing to you lot about having nothing to write about. And yet every day I’ve produced around 800 or 1000 words of text (which, if you remove all my tangents and parentheses, probably comes to about 200 words a day but fortunately nobody said tangents weren’t allowed).

Odd how that happens, eh? Yoda was right. To do something, you just do it. And the flip-side of that is that you need to give yourself permission to also not do it. (I’m lookin’ at you, @hestiah! You’re not bad or a failure for not wanting to / being able to / having the energy to post every day!) Yoda’s such a Zen dude.

As many others have noted, however, this pace is a little excessive for me. I’m already noticing that sharing bits of myself every day is quite exhausting and that it’s costing me more (emotionally, creatively, whatever) than it’s bringing me, which is the opposite of what this blog was meant to be. It’s supposed to be a charming boutique-type outlet, not a Black Friday Sale. But it’s equally undeniable that just sitting my ass down and writing stuff (as I used to) is producing the results I’d hoped for: I’m recovering my sense of myself as a blogger.

Now that we’re two weeks into the initiative, it’s fairly obvious I am getting traffic from Blaugust, but the weirdest thing I noticed from glancing at my stats was that the more I post in a single day, the more views I get. Two weeks is hardly a representative sample, though it was a trend I noticed years ago on the odd occasion when I posted more than once in a day. (Maybe that’s not as weird as I think — but although I’m quite decent at some types of math, statistics are voodoo as far as I’m concerned.) The other thing of note is that Twitter traffic has increased significantly, which is no surprise as my Tweets used to be protected (i.e. limited to my friends) and now they’re not.

There will be no Project: Gordon today, because the launcher decided it needed to re-download the whole client instead of just the patch so I sent it to stand in a corner to think about what it did.

And now I’m going to try to end a post before I hit 500 words, because it’s Sunday. And because after not buying it in the June sale, I’m going to get ARK and try it out. Blame Aywren. Ooga-booga!

Blaugust Day 14 – Don't be a Jerk

TL;DR – Project Gorgon… no wait, we’ll do that tomorrow. Introvert vs extrovert: don’t be a dick. Oh hey, I should be fired (from MMORPG).

I sat down to post about Project: Gorgon, which I finally got round to trying out for an hour or so yesterday, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I didn’t really get anything done other than being killed in a couple of interesting ways and trying to talk to a wolf who, shockingly, refused to respond in any way but by “Grrrr”.

As I was using my Google-fu to try and figure out where the game had put my screenshots, I saw that Twitter had some updates and clicked over to see this, from Aywren:

Click it. Watch the TED talk. Nod in agreement if introvert (vehemently in my case) or look bemused if extrovert.

And this scratched an old, old itch in my brain, one I still can’t reconcile and one which will presumably never change. Why is it that introverts can understand and empathise with extroverts, but the latter can’t seem to extend the same courtesy to us?

I’ve been here before. (I’m not going to add any other links because that post is dripping with them. The solo vs group introvert/extrovert debate has been going on since before some of you were born.)

Is it just a case of majority privilege? When white people — like me– in the West say we’re not aware of privilege, or when men say they’re not aware of it (especially white, anglo-saxon men), their saying they haven’t noticed something isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist. You may not have noticed that it’s raining but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that it is, actually, raining. (And don’t get me started on the fact versus opinion debate or we’ll be here all week.) Extroverts may not notice that pretty much everything around them is built for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Check out the TED talk, she’s much more eloquent about it than I am.

facts_huxleyI have no hard data but I’m pretty sure extroverts outnumber introverts*, just as group-type players outnumber solo-type players. And I will avoid the obvious fallacy of drawing a direct parallel between introvert and solo, and extrovert and group; even to me things aren’t that cut and dried. All the same, there are some definite parallels in terms of behaviour.

Extroverts tend to think everyone is like them — or if not, that they should be. My family has its fair share of both personality types, and it was my misfortune (and to be fair, my great good fortune) to be raised by a very extroverted mother. She claims to be an introvert but she recovers energy from being around people, which to me is one of the classic signs. She positively thrives on having people around. Me, I thrive madly for a very limited time, after which I become increasingly grumpy, bitchy, and anti-social. There comes a time when I have to physically get the hell away from everyone (or almost everyone) in order to feel like I can breathe again.

Point being, I get that my mother is like she is. I don’t tell her she needs to be more like me — I don’t even think it, because it’s pointless. She is what she is. There’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert.

And if that’s the case, why does it seem to be such a bad thing to be an introvert? Why does every last extrovert in the galaxy feel we introverts are somehow weird and mutated from the norm? My aunt (an introvert who spent her life pretending she was an extrovert and ended a bitter and angry woman) used to tell me literally ALL THE TIME to smile more. To look pretty. To smile. To not be so quiet. To not be in my corner. To smile…

spock-the-introvert-and-kirk-the-extrovert

To this day, being told to smile makes me want to punch something. Fortunately for the somethings I’m very conflict-avoidant and just punch myself mentally instead.

I’m generalising terribly here and I know it, but that’s because one can’t rant without drawing a few lines in the sand. So here are mine:

  • Extroverts: please, please try to understand (and empathise with) the fact that being around people, even people we love, is extremely exhausting for introverts. We are not like you. We should not have to be like you. If you desperately need other people, which I get that you do, then please find another extrovert to spend time with for a little while. Introverts are not closet extroverts who need to be dragged forcibly into the joy of in-your-face-ness.
  • Groupers: please try to understand that solo players often like to play by themselves, and respect that they do not have to justify this to you. Just because your playstyle is the majority one doesn’t mean we have to shoehorn ourselves into your mould. If you desperately need other people to play with, which I get that you do, then please find another grouper to spend time with for a little while. Just because solo players like to chat does not necessarily mean we’re frustrated groupers who just need to be taught how much better life would be if we could only learn to doublethink group all the time.
  • Introverts: please try to understand that extroverts aren’t really, literally, physically trying to suck the marrow from your soul. They can’t help being energetic around other people, it’s who they are. Understand that a little tact when needing alone-time can go a long way and that the OMFGGETTHEHELLAWAYFROMME! posture is the opposite of tact.
  • Solo players: please try to understand that groupers feel games are designed for them (you know, that MULTI- in MMO, because apparently ‘multi’ is synonymous with ‘always with others’) and that you are breaking the rules when you persist in wanting to play by yourself.

Okay fine, that last one was a bit obnoxious; but I am very, very tired of a battle that’s been going on for years. I will never surrender, which makes it even more exhausting. Being in a minority does not make it wrong to be me — because if that were true, then on a global scale that makes it wrong to be male. Yes, it’s that ridiculous. Or left-handed (which I also am). Come to think of it, being left-handed was seen as wrong until not so long ago – my left-handed mother had that hand tied behind her at school so that she could learn to write the ‘right’ way.

Being in the majority does not make you the only possible iteration of a thing. Being the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean that the non-norm is wrong, except possibly at the extremes of that case. Please bear that in mind next time you mentally castigate someone for being in your face, for not being in your face, and for wanting or not wanting to group.

– – – – – – – –

As a final aside, I found this while I was looking for an old MMORPG.com column I wrote on the solo/group subject. As the more astute among you will deduce, that’s my real name. Wait, no. It’s my pseudonym! Whoops.

BURN THE WITCH!
BURN THE WITCH!

The forum post itself doesn’t seem to be there anymore, which is a shame since I never saw that at the time — or maybe it’s a good thing. I didn’t read comments and forum posts over there because of the inanity and vitriol-quotient, so it’s probably for the best. But I sure did like to stir shit among the masses now and then. And no, I don’t really have Bruce Campbell’s chin — there is only one Bruce Campbell.

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* Though apparently not by as much as we introverts tend to think