Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's Up?

Another post? Immediately after the last? You'd think my Sunday game was cancelled, or something. And you'd be right. No game this week. I am sad. But it's giving me a chance to catch up on posting.

I've talked a lot of about GenCon lately, so I'll keep the gaming stuff brief, but I have to say that my biggest regret this year was deciding not to contribute 1,000 words to Green Ronin's Hobby Games: The 100 Best. They asked me to write something up for them, but I really didn't feel like I knew any of the games they had left on the list well enough to comment on them; at least not intelligently. (And I hate when people talk about things when it's clear they know nothing about the subject.) So, I didn't do it. But damn! Green Ronin has promoted this thing so well, and recruited such great people to be a part of it, and the market seems so excited about the book that I really wish I'd done something for it. Damn.

All that said, the book looks great and they have a fantastic line-up of contributors and games. I just wish I'd decided to be part of it.

This weekend was the 4th Annual Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and I was asked to moderate a panel on Firday afternoon on the "Future of Miniature Games." I did a bunch of research on Thursday and came up with a bunch of questions for the panel -- which included Seth Johnson of WizKids, Matt Wilson of Privateer Press, and Paul Barclay of Wizards of the Coast. I think it went well and a couple of people complimented me on the format; in which I asked most of the questions of the panel members and they answered (as opposed to the free-for-all that apparently usually takes place in these things).

Since moderating the panel netted me a free "Special Guest" badge, I check out the show floor for a bit on Friday, but mostly chatted with Seth, Chott, and a few others I knew.

I helped Julia set up her space at a new store in Renton (Happy Delusions on 3rd, check out the jewelry in the counter at the back of the store) Saturday morning, then we walked around town for a bit and enjoyed some delicious BBQ at a nearby restaurant. She was very excited to have Happy D (as she calls it) taken care of. And the best thing is, later in the day the store owner called to say she'd already sold one of her pieces. Awesome!

In the afternoon I went back to PAX, checked out the show floor a bit more and then went to buy comics. While I was at PAX I picked up a set of paints so I can finally get around to painting my Cryx army for Warmachine. (Which I picked up back in 2003, I think.) Now I need some brushes. Then, while Julia makes jewelry in front of the TV, I can try my hand at painting at the same time -- that'll certainly be better than trying to read in front of the TV -- which I suck at.

Okay, time for some lunch. Talk to you soon.

GenCon and Gaming-Related Post

If you're not into gaming, you can skip this one. I'm mainly going to talk about the goodies from GenCon.

I talked about GenCon last week in a post and said I'd get back to what I picked up and what I found interesting.

The first on the list is the interesting; I played a quick demo of the Dragons of Kir. A board game that I found very interesting and I wish I'd had a chance to sit down with it and try it a bit more in-depth . . . especially since I played it first thing in the morning and I was still pretty groggy (damn that time change). Anyway, I hope to pick it up at some point, or at least play it a few more times.

As for the things I picked up, here's the list:

The Deck of Many Things card set from Green Ronin. Anyone who's played D&D for a long time knows about the magical artifact call the Deck of Many Things. It's a wildly chaotic item that's incredibly dangerous, but a lot of fun(?) for GMs and players. So, now that I have a copy I'll have to use it at some point.

Hero High from Green Ronin, for the Mutants & Masterminds line. I'm a big fan of M&M, but I have to say, this book really stands out as a great read. I enjoyed paging through it on the plane and kept getting sucked in and amused by the writing. I like the character samples, the villains, the information provided, it's all good. Seth, you should read this book.

Oh, plus, it has an ad in the back of the book for my and Seth's upcoming Iron Age sourcebook.

A More Perfect Union also from Green Ronin, for the Mutants & Masterminds' Paragons setting. I edited this adventure (not that long ago, actually) and it was good to see it in its final form. The adventure itself is actually very cool -- and very different than "standard" four-color superhero adventures. If you want to try something different with your next supers game, try Paragons and this adventure (or just run this adventure as a "one-shot" because sample characters are included).

Og, the caveman roleplaying game, from Firefly Games and written by Robin Laws. It sounds silly; and it is. But in a delightfully funny way. Robin did a great job of making the game system fit the simplicity of the setting, but still have a bit of robustness to it. I really enjoyed reading this game and I find that I'd love to run it sometime. The hard part will be convincing others to try it. It really is worth picking up and checking out.

Fear Itself from Pelgrane Press and (also) written by Robin Laws. This is the second book from Robin in the Gumshoe game system line, the first being The Esoterrorists. Fear Itself is another excellent execution of an idea by Robin, but I have to admit that horror isn't my genre of choice. And while this book it very good, it concentrates on "realistic" horror and horror with a slightly supernatural bent. If you're into this sort of thing, you should definitely check this out. Really, I'm waiting for the Gumshoe version of Call of Cthulhu. I think that will be a great melding of system and setting.

Reign, a new roleplaying game from Greg Stolze using the game system he created for Godlike and also used in Wild Talents (the title of which always reminds me of the Bill & Ted's band Wyld Stallyns). I bought this for Jason, but I've been reading it and now I'm convinced that, first, I really need a copy, and second, that I really need to play in a game of it. It simplifies some aspects of gaming (especially high-powered political games) in great new ways that ought to make those sorts of a games so much easier to play and run. One of the guys from the Tuesday game has talked about running this game and I'm very excited to try it out. Plus, how you go wrong with a game system that lets you randomly generate (an actually interesting) character with one roll of the dice? Very cool. Buy it.

Passages, a relatively new roleplaying game from Blue Devil Games. I don't know the people behind this, but when the fella at the "indie" games booth told me what it was about, I had to pick it up. The pitch he used was "it's basically a Victorian version of Stargate," and the cover image (follow the link) shows the cast of characters from Alice in Wonderland and a dead Jabberywock. Oh, how cool. I've yet to read it.

Pathfinder Chronicles: Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide from Paizo. This was a $2 purchase and I bought it because I'm really impressed with the previous Adventure Paths from Paizo and I want to like this new one. Hopefully I'll be able to trade with some of the Paizo guys to check out more of this series. I'm sure it'll be good.

The Birds collection from Pelgrane Press, wirtten by Robin Laws. This comic strip has been appearing weekly on Robin's blog for a while now and it was strange when I started reading this book and noticed that they've been appearing since 2004! I thought it was still very new, so that surprised me. Anyway, you can read the series online at his blog, but the collection has already made me very happy. It's so wrong.

Warhammer 40K Roleplay Free Demo Adventure from Games Workshop's Black Library. I ran into T.S. Luikart at the Games Workshop booth and he handed me this preview of the upcoming Warhammer 40K RPG. It looks interesting and very similar (in terms of the game system) to Warhammer Fantasy, but the 40K setting really doesn't do it for me. It's too dark and grim for me, but I'll know a bit more when I read the preview more fully.

And there you go.

I traded for some books with Jennifer Clake-Wilkes, an editor at WotC, so I should be receiving some goodies from her soon as well.

And, the Mission: Indonesia expansion for Xeko was released at the con, so I was able to pick up some samples. It's fun to see the words I wrote, oh, so long ago, finally in print. Very cool.

More very soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Am Filled With Dread

And it all revolves around work.

It is not a happy feeling and I only really experience it when I'm away from the place, not while I'm there. I'm not happy about that and I'm going to have to work through this if I plan to get anything done while I'm not working. See, this feeling of dread really keeps me from feeling motivated, so I get home and my head's in a slight fog, my stomach is in knots (small knots, but knots just the same), and I'm completely lethargic.

This is the feeling people talk about when they joke about your job being soul-crushing.

I hate that it makes me feel like this and I hate that I have to do this lame-ass job to pay my bills.

There, isn't that cheery?

Monday, August 20, 2007

GenCon Again

I took off on Wednesday around noon and flew to Indianapolis via Chicago to attend my 25th GenCon. Considering this was GenCon #40, I think that's a pretty good streak. Sure, some years I only made it for a day, but I've been to them all.

Thursday morning Gil and Aron and Clint (two of our playtesters) and I went to set up the booth and work for the day. Jim and his friend Dean left early in the morning to drive to the warehouse and pick up a bunch of cases of the game because the shipment was delivered after everyone had left for the show. So, off they went; six hours there, six hours back with a van full of games.

Our manufacturer had overnighted a few cases of the games to us, so we had a few in the booth when we opened, which was good.

Overall, the show rocked. We were constantly busy with people playing demos the entire time. And considering it's a four-player game, that's a lot of demos. The really great thing was that pretty much everyone had a great time playing the game. There were a few people who had some pretty bad die rolls, which made the game rough for them, but in general the games were all interesting, fun, and gave excellent first impressions to the players. We had quite a few people look over to their friends during the demos and say, "Hey, this is actually pretty fun." That was good to hear, especially since it wasn't directed toward us.

Over the course of the show I had a good time catching up with some friends who'd come to the show, including John Kasab, John Arrington and his wife, James Chott, Shana, Tyler, people from WizKids, and a ton of other industry folks that I unfortunately only get to see a few times a year.

I really enjoy this industry and I hope I can be involved in it one way or another for a long time.

I picked up some good games that I've enjoyed reading and looking through in the last couple of days. I'll run down a list of them soon, but not right now.

Sunday morning I was up at 5:15am and on my way back to Seattle via St. Louis. I arrived at 11:15 and Julia picked me up and carted me over to 13 Coins for some breakfast. I was very happy to see her again.

Now I'm back to work and I have to say that it's nowhere near as fun or as interesting to me as working on games. I really have to get back to that.

I'm pretty tired right now, so I'm not sure if everything I'm typing actually flows very well, but I guess I'll read it later and see how bad it is.

Next year, you should go to GenCon, too. Y'know, if you're into games.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Play Ball

I forgot to mention the other day that Julia and I took her parents out to see the Mariners' game Monday night against the Minnesota Twins. It was our gift to Julia's dad for Father's Day and we finally found a night that we could all make it.

Julia found great seats for cheap online, so we were right down the first-base line and close to the action.

The game was pretty good with Seattle pulling ahead early, then the Twins tied it up until the 9th inning when the first or second Mariners' at-bat hit a homerun. It was a good way to end the game.

Time to get to work!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Unexpected Visits

Phil had been talking about coming to town for a while and he finally did! It was a quick trip -- which is about the only sort of trip Phil knows how to make -- so he arrived Thursday morning and left Friday morning. In that time I met up with him for lunch with another friend/colleague of his. It would have been great to spend more time with him, but it looks like he might be back again. Or at least he's thinking he'll be back again soon. I'll let you know what happens. He seems to be doing well and I can't wait to get the chance to talk with him more.

If you recall, last week I mentioned buying a new washer and dryer -- and then discovering that our water heater was leaking. So, this weekend we had a plumber come in and install a new water heater for us. He was supposed to show up on Friday, but things went all screwy, so he showed up on Saturday instead. He went right to work and was happy to see thatI was willing to help out. "We" finished draining the old Sears 66-gallon tank in about a half hour, then dragged it out (drained more water (and rust) out of it outside) and hooked up the new tank in about an hour-and-a-half.

He charged us a pretty reasonable amount for labor, but the whole thing cost much more than we could reasonably absorb at the moment, so money kinda sucks right now. Just in time for GenCon! Ugh.

Really, I'm pretty stressed about money at the moment, but I'm sure it'll get better soon. The paychecks are coming frequently, but it's still pretty stressful at the moment. I write about this mostly to get it out of my head, where it's been circling for a while and taking frequent detours to make stressful runs through the pit of my stomach.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Pics!

Click on the Flickr badge on the right-hand side and enjoy some pictures from my birthday/housewarming from this last weekend and a selection of photos documenting the destruction of the driveway, trees, and buildings on the Northern half of our yard.

The party was last Saturday and demolition started Monday morning. Now we live next to a big, long hole in the ground. I'll try to get some more pictures so you can see it. It's a very exciting hole is what I'm trying to say, I guess.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Big Clean-Up

The weekend was great.

Saturday morning we shopped for the party then went home to wait for the washer and dryer to be delivered. It worked out nicely because we were able to get some more work done around the house before they showed up. It was a beautiful day and I opened the garage door so they could roll the old washer and dryer out and bring in the new ones in no time. The whole thing went perfectly and about a half an hour after they showed up, we had new appliances installed and in working order.

One of the guys was a gamer, so we had a nice time talking about Medici, Settlers of Cataan, and a few other board games. That was nice.

I don't have pictures downloaded from Julia's camera, but she took some pictures before it ran out of juice. As soon as I have them I'll post them to my Flickr account.

The party itself was great, but I feel like I didn't really get a chance to talk to everyone, even though Mike and I talked for a bit and Jason and Liz hung out while I was getting the grill up and running. And the grilling was great! Once the coals were nice and hot (which took a bit longer than I thought it would) I cooked up the hot dogs, some chicken andouille sausage, and a skewer that Hays and Jen brought. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the food even though it was pretty basic.

After cake and ice cream, I opened presents -- which I really didn't expect, but I guess I didn't put anything on the evite to let people know that they didn't need to get me anything. So, I received a new book about the comic artist Paul Pope, a homemade bookmark from Mike & Sharon's youngest, a homemade card from their eldest, and a plant from all of them. There was also some mojito drink mix (yum), and maybe some other things that I can't remember right now.

Everyone cleared out by around 9:30 and Julia and I crashed shortly thereafter. It was a great time and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as well.

Sunday, Julia and I ran to Renton so she could check out a new gallery she was invited to join. We checked that out and she signed up to be a part of it. So, in the next couple of weeks she's going to drop off some jewelry and wait for the sales to roll in! If you're in the area and want to check it out, you can go to the (actually kind of hip and cool (or at least up-and-coming) part) of downtown Renton to check out Happy Delusions. It's on 3rd, I beleive, near the end of the street with all the antique stores. Go check it out! And buy some jewelry!

Julia was also invited to be a part of the Blue Bottle Gallery on Capitol Hill. So, you can also find her stuff there as well.

And she was contacted by the people who run the gift shops in the Seattle Children's Hospitals to have her stuff there. So she's rolling right along. Now she just has to make enough jewelry to keep them all stocked up.

Last night, just after we went to bed, Babby (one of Julia's cats) started meowing in a weird way, so I got up to check on her. Just as I did, she walked into the bedroom with something in her mouth, but still meowing around it. At first I thought she'd plucked some tassels off the pillows on the couch, but when I put my glasses on I saw that she'd killed a large -- very freaking large -- spider. Now, I'm not a fan of spiders in my living space, so Babby was a hero to me. When I say this spider was large, what I mean to say is that it was larger than any spider I've ever seen outside of a zoo or on television. It had a longish, fat body and if it hadn't been crushed by the cat's paws and mouth, its body would have been almost an inch long and much larger than that with it's legs extended. I'm sorry it died, but I'm glad it's out of my house.

Today we arrived home from work to find that construction had started next door. I guess I should say that destruction had started. The firewood is gone, the garbage is gone, the trees branches are gone, the blackberry bushes are gone, the garage is gone, the greenhouse is gone, and the ground has been raked bare. It's a little weird. I'll take some photos of that, too.

And I think that's about it for now.

Although I want to play poker sometime soon.

Friday, August 03, 2007

They Say It's The Day After Your Birthday!

It's the day after my birthday, too, yeah!

I spent the day at work, then picked up Julia at the Bellevue bus stop and went to her parents' place for a nice evening of grilling complete with corn on the cob -- definitely my favorite food of the evening, although the grilled portobello market runs a close second.

I received a number of very nice cards, notes, and birthday wishes from friends and relatives this week. And Saturday we're having a birthday/housewarming get-together that should be fun.

To follow up from last weekend; Julia's time at Renton River Days was very successful and she got a chance to catch up with a couple of friends, too, which was nice.

We didn't game on Sunday, but the Tuesday game completed their current adventure. The next phase of the game will be run by another member of the group. I'm pretty excited about that because I'll get a chance to play. I don't think I've played Warhammer in, um, 15 years. . . ?

Work has been fine and the commute hasn't been bad except for Wednesday night, which was ridiculously awful and annoying and tiring.

Happily, my birthday and my wonderful girlfriend put me in a good mood. She's pretty wonderful.

Lastly, (and in completely unrelated news), the pdf version of A More Perfect Union is available for purchase now. I edited this introductory adventure for the new Paragons line for Mutants & Masterminds a while ago. This adventure should give you a pretty good idea of what the setting is like and how Paragons differs from standard super-heroic fare.

Maybe I'll have some pictures from the party in the next couple of days. I'll try.

I Finally Know of One!

"We were out fishing one time and we picked a bunch of mushrooms and cooked them up and ate them. We had no idea what we were getting, but they were good. And we're all fine."

--Overheard in the cafeteria today.

I have commented (infrequently) in the past that I've never heard of anyone picking and eating mushrooms in the wild without knowing what they were doing. That said, I was amazed to hear that this person -- along with a group of others -- picked and ate wild mushrooms they knew nothing about. Wow. I am amazed at how dumb a thing that is.

I considered it blog-worthy.