The Magical Repair Shop

Look what arrived with today’s mail: The Magical Repair Shop” by Ash Cheshire and Edward Turner!

My 2019 in Gaming

I’ve been neglecting my blog for all sorts of reasons I don’t want to get into right now, but it’s a new year and time for a fresh start. It’s time to once again look at the games I played in the year that just ended, and see if I accomplished some of my goals.

I played a total of 36, up from last year’s low of 29; this included 14 tactical and strategic games (board, card, and miniatures games), and 22 narrative game (role-playing games, story games, live-action role-playing). Some 23 of these (64%) were new to me, i.e., I had never played them before, including 7 playtests (19% of the total). But there were several repeat games thanks to a few recurring campaigns, particularly 13th Age, Agon 2e (playtest), Dragon Age, Journey Away, and Paladin, as well as perennial favourite Spirit Island.

With five years of data, here is what the breakdown looks like:

For the last four years I’ve also been keeping track of who I play with. It looks like this:

I have been trying to play with more new and diverse people, and that seems to be working, although there is room for improvement.

Here is what my list of games looked like in 2019:

Continue reading “My 2019 in Gaming”

13th Dynasty: A 13th Age campaign

Having moved in with housemates, we’ve just started a house campaign of Pelgrane Press’s 13th Age role-playing game. Edmund is running his own re-skin, called “13th Dynasty.” It takes surprisingly little to turn the Dragon Empire, the default setting of 13th Age, into a Chinese-inspired campaign.

Characters

Artist: Amelie Hutt. Used without permission, no copyright challenge intended.

Zhi Yu, played by Vlad, is a human monk who was raised along with his twin sister to be necromancers under the Undying Emperor (Lich King)’s tutelage during the War. There was an ill-advise spell interrupted by a terrible accident, and Zhi Yu’s twin Zhi Hao was killed in the explosion, leaving only charred bones. Zhi Yu barely survived, badly scarred and maintained only through necromantic arts. He soon discovered that his sister’s soul was still bound to him and could, with effort, also inhabit his body. (This is his One Unique Thing.)

Having rethought his career choices, he escaped the Undying Emperor’s grasp and, carrying Zhi Hao’s bones with him, he hid in a monastery where he became a monk, learning a new path. Many years have passed (he is much older than one would think) and he has felt the pull of destiny calling him back.

Zhi Yu has a conflicted (1) relationship with the Undying Emperor, a positive (1) one with the Great Golden Dragon (Great Gold Wyrm), and through his sister, a positive (1) one with the Monkey King (Prince of Shadows).

Artist: ziseviolet. Used without permission, no copyright challenge intended.

Jumping Carp, played by me, is a Gnome rogue, a public entertainer, pickpocket, and con artist. (She is based on Kitsune, a character from the comic book Usagi Yojimbo.) She juggles, tells stories, and play tricks to entertain crowds, making spinning tops dance on the edge of her fan.

Her one unique thing is a beautiful music box ornamented with a dragon motif, which used to belong to the Great Golden Dragon… As a result, she has a complicated (1) relationship with this Icon, as well as a positive (2) one with the Monkey King, her role model.

On occasion, we’ve also been joined by Lu Bu, an Elven Chaos mage played by Jason. Lu Bu one unique thing is that he is the tallest known Elf. He is also a disguise artist, a collector of teeth stolen from dead bodies, and dedicated to creating mischief wherever he goes. He has a negative relationship with the King of the North (Dwarf King) and a positive one with, you guessed it, the Monkey King.

Continue reading “13th Dynasty: A 13th Age campaign”

You are here ⬇️

We’re still unpacking boxes and putting things away, but it’s beginning to look more like a home and less like a flea market. This afternoon I posted a photo on Twitter showing the portion of the den that looks habitable, and I started thinking what great big geeks it shows us to be.

But then it also dawned on me that it shows lots of connections to the people in my life, my friends, from the mementos Edmund and I have given each other, to furniture items we got from local friends, to games and art created by people I know online and sometimes in real space, to presents we’ve received, and games we played with great people. So I marked up the picture to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Thank you, friends, for being in my life!

Progress, sort of?

Some day, this will be a living room.

Sheesh. We/re still unpacking, cleaning the old house, and getting to new the new housemates. We each took falls and scraped joints, we’re banged up and bruised, sore and tired, but we’re making progress.

We’re deeply grateful for the help and moral support we once again received from our friends.

The new neighbourhood is less suburban and more mixed-urban, which means less privacy and more traffic, but also three bus lines right on our street that connect to CalTrain stations. The terrain is rather flat, not steep like our old neighbourhood, so it’s less daunting to take a walk. It also appears t be the world capital of ice cream vendors, with the chimes of ice cream trucks and bike-powered carts constantly ringing. I have not broken down even once yet. Yet.

Continue reading “Progress, sort of?”

Big Week!

Two big events in our lives this week, which should help a lot with mental health! First, I accepted a half-time job that I can telecommute for, thanks to a tip and recommendation from my friend Bryanna. If all the hiring paperwork can be taken care of in time, the start date is July 8. I’m very excited about this!

Second, I just signed the lease earlier today for a shared house, and our cats can stay with us. 💖 We heard of this through our friend Karen, and the people we’ll share with seem super-nice. The only sad part is that we could not find anything we could afford in San Bruno, so I will have to step down from the city planning commission. This is not very far, though, a little further south and closer to the Bay.

We’re moving – but where?

You know how we have been struggling in the past year. We had hoped to be able to sublet the main house area and live in the in-law unit; this project dragged on with one hurdle after another until we finally learned that although our friend and landlord was willing to accommodate this arrangement, it is illegal where we live (not permitted by the zoning code). Now we have to leave by the end of May.

We don’t really know where we’ll end up; it’s too expensive in the Bay Area, so we are looking at rural California (Humboldt County), Portland OR, Vancouver BC, and other less expensive places. We’re also looking at shared housing programs.

To be honest, homelessness is on the list of possibilities and pretty darn near the top. We have used up the finances raised for us by our friends on GoFundMe, all our savings, and all our retirement funds. We both have health challenges, physical and mental. My energy level is low, I have not managed to work full-time since my bout with cancer. And we have two cats, which always makes it trickier to find housing.

But since we let our local friends know a few days ago, we have also received offers of help to find a new place, get employment and move, invitations for temporary stays while we search, and so forth. We are poor in money, but rich in friends. As soon as we get back to a sustainable living situation, I will be satisfied; I don’t need more. I love you all.

Agon: Death of a Prince

On Friday we held the fifth session of our beta playtest of AGON 2nd edition and visited our third island.

The lying in state of a body, terracotta pinax by the Gela Painter, latter 6th century BC.

Our heroines landed on the island of Nimos, where they were surprised to learn of the untimely death of the crown prince, one of their companions during the War. The royal family and the whole island were in mourning.

Continue reading “Agon: Death of a Prince”

Agon: Seeds of Democracy

Tonight was the fourth session of our beta playtest of AGON 2nd edition and our second island. Dolia’s player was unavailable so our heroes were Antiochis and Phaedra.

Our heroes landed on the islands of Ion and Soros, linked by a land bridge. Usually there was a gate on the island but it had been destroyed and masses of people were fleeing from Ion into Soros. Orta, the giant who controlled Ion, was raging; his cries of rage and stomping could be heard from afar and every stomp was accompanied by a ground tremor.

Seeing something big going on at the royal palace on Soros, the heroes went to check it out. King Vlakas was preparing to pronounce judgment on his daughter and leader of the Soros army, Commander Tyla, for failing to stop the Ionian refugees by force. The King assumes that the heroes were sent by the gods to restore order on Soros. Tyla recognized the heroes and called them by names and deeds, asking them for support.

Continue reading “Agon: Seeds of Democracy”

Agon: Boarding Action!

And now for a recap of our third episode of the AGON 2nd edition beta playtest (see the first and second episodes.) Thank you to Kim for taking notes during our games!

In the final thrilling episode for this island, an epic naval battle took place between the heroes and Thesekyra the pirate queen!

Attic pottery, 6th c. B.C. (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Battle!

When last we saw our heroes, it was just before dawn; the storm was rising again and Thesekyra’s ship was coming fast for them. The masses of dark clouds coalesced on the horizon, evoking the shape of a gigantic but stately woman which the heroes recognized as Hera. The storm cloud woman extended a staff in the direction of the pirate ship and the heroes heard, reverberating in their minds: “Retrieve my gift!”

On the opposite side of the horizon, the clouds were even darker but crackling with lightning. They moved to evoke the shape of Zeus, pointing to the pirate ship, and the heroes heard: “Sink the abomination!” For a moment, the silhouettes of the deities looked like two combattants about to throw themselves at each other, then dissolved into cloud masses. [I felt I had not made the gods present enough and wanted to give a little mythic boost.]

Continue reading “Agon: Boarding Action!”