New Mask for the Collection

This week’s mask acquisition (from local artist Horitomo at Monmon Cats):

Waiting in line at the pharmacy

Today I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon to check on progress as I heal. Edmund kindly accompanied me, though it’s tedious for him. It was slow-going because the entire computer system was affected with unusual lag, and every appointment was running late.

The doctor blessed my progress, warning me that healing would continue to be slower than normal as long as I was on some of my post-cancer medications. She also gave me a prescription that had to be compounded at the hospital pharmacy, and the necessary paperwork to extend my disability leave.

I decided to take care of the paperwork first, hoping this would give plenty of time for the pharmacists to prepare my prescription. When we got to the Release of Medical Information Counter, there were a LOT of people waiting; the number being served was 11, and I was assigned No. 25. We sat down to wait but a quarter of an hour, we were still on No. 11. Edmund suggested that he stay to provide my paperwork, and I go check in at the pharmacy to make sure the order was in.

So I got to the pharmacy, checked in, and was told it would take about 45 minutes. Edmund and I started a turtle race for who would get done first, and I decided to keep him entertained with tales of my adventures.

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If you’re wondering, it took me a total of just over 90 minutes from the moment I checked in at the pharmacy to walk out of there. Edmund finished first with 15 minutes to spare, but since he’d already waited waited at least that long before I got the the pharmacy, it’s probably a draw. That said, the personnel was very nice and diligent, they checked on me a few times, it’s not their fault the place was packed and the computers were sluggish. Yes, we could have decided to come back later, but I didn’t want to restart the clock…

Mini-Review: Knights of Badassdom

Knights of Badassdom movie posterOn Thursday night we attended a showing of Knights of Badassdom organized by the Ace of Geeks podcast. They sold out the projection room they had secure at the AMC Van Ness 14 theatre, 152 tickets all sold to complete geeks like us. The audience brought costumes, props, and Monty Python references; it made Rocky Horror Picture Show events look a little staid.

It was a treat for all of us, I think, to see a gamer movie with real actors — unless you count Mazes and Monsters, which after all did have Tom Hanks. The four Knights of Badassdom are Tyrion Lannister, River Tam, the guy from True Blood, and the guy from Treme.  No, wait, sorry—now that I have access to IMDb to compensate for my woeful memory for names, let’s try that again:

  • Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Death at a Funeral, Game of Thrones) as Hung;
  • Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Arrow) as Gwen;
  • Steve Zahn (Treme, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dallas Buyers’ Club) as Eric; and
  • Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Summerland) as Joe.
  • Also notable was Jimmi Simpson (House of Cards, Psych, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) who played the game-master, Ronnie Kwok.

I was not familiar with Joe Lynch, who directed, or with first-time screenwriters Kevin Dreyfuss and Matt Wall. Clearly, though, they knew they Live-Action Role-Playing. Except for the superior quality of the props and costumes, the setting felt quite familiar. The story revolves around LARPers who accidentally summon a real demon, which then proceeds to attack unsuspecting participants in the weekend-long LARP. When the authorities fail to respond, a few brave/weirdo LARPers decide to meet the menace with steel. Hilarity ensues.

I remember that while the movie was being filmed a few years ago, some people in the gamer and LARPer community fretted that this would in fact be another Mazes and Monsters or a Revenge of the Nerds, making the hobby look stupid. I thought that Knights of Badassdom did a good job of making gentle fun of the hobby’s quirks while still making it look cool. The general footage of actual LARPer extras and staged battles looks, well, badass.

When we get to the real monsters, they’re mean and horrible and we wince because they kill some of our favourite geeks. The special effects are no more sterling than one would expect, but they get the job done competently. It’s a horror comedy, and as the lady behind us put it at the end, “The ratio of murder to LARPing was a little high.” The music is good, and the mock-documentary feel of the connecting scenes is well used to make us chuckle without diminishing the main characters.

Everybody seemed to have a good time, and I was certainly happy I’d decided to attend. As I told my husband, “The part that would be hardest to understand for some people is that no one here was perplexed by any of this,” be it LARP protocol, references to John Dee, or death metal. It made perfect sense to us — and from what I see of the few reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, to no one else. Highly recommended for gamers.

Some Links:

It was a Fiasco

I’ve been badgering Edmund to finish some of the game conversions he’s playtested recently, including his transposition of the Blue Rose RPG to Fate Core, and his Fiasco playset for the universe of Warhammer 40,000 and Dark Heresy. Today I decided to throw in a bribe in the form of art for the latter (click on the image for the big version):

Fiasco 40K cover

And by the way, here are some of his notes from recent games at Good Omens mini-con and Big Bad Con, plus his most recent draft.

War of Ashes RPG: List of Ingredients

Jaarl Uniforms

Continuing with notes as I work on the War of Ashes RPG for Evil Hat Productions: in my previous post I gave an overview of the land of Agaptus and now I’d like to give you an idea of what I have done with it.

Of course there is a general overview in the introductory chapter, along with a summary of the Fate Accelerated rules, followed by three chapters detailing each of the factions that are available a priori to player characters.  I say a priori because in the gamemaster section, I will try to address the inevitable question, “What if one of my players wants to play some other kind of character?”

The bulk of the material consists of overviews of sample locations along with plot seeds like the one I posted last week. Each plot seeds consists of an Aspect and a short description. If there is a type of topic you’d look for in such a book and I didn’t think of it, please suggest it!

Right now, the outline of the setting portions of the book looks like this:

The Noble Elvorix

  • Elvorix Society
    • Overview
    • Religion
    • You’re in the Army, Now, Bucko: Elvorix Ranks
  • People
    • Brief description of the regional or ethnic groups
    • Names
    • Individuals of Note
    • Discretion as the Better Part of Valor? Some thoughts on Elvorix society.
  • Places
    • In the Cities
      • Elvora Bibulus Academy
      • Temple of Agaptus
    • Out in the Country
      • Small Town
      • Frontier Village
      • Ylark Farm
      • Rural Shrine

The Savage Vidaar

  • Vidaar Society
    • Overview
    • Religion
    • We Want You As A New Recruit: Vidaar Ranks
  • People
    • Brief description of the regional or ethnic groups
    • Names
    • Individuals of Note
  • Places
    • Cities
      • Hall of the Warrior King
    • Rural Settlements
      • Shyldhal
      • Forge
      • Kogg Brewery
      • Shrine of Akka-Maas
      • War Camp
      • Nhilde Troll Breeding Grounds
      • Ancestral Ship

The Disciplined Jaarl

  • Jaarl Society
    • Overview
    • Religion—of Sorts
    • We Are Legion: Jaarl Ranks
  • People
    • Brief description of the regional or ethnic groups
    • Names
    • Individuals of Note
  • Places
    • City of Gailus
    • Captured Vidaar Village
    • Military Outpost
    • Prisoner Work Camp
    • War Galley

Antagonists and Monsters

  • The War of Ashes: Current political and strategic positions.
  • Mindless Enemy: The Kuld, Nhilde Trolls, Marhn Trolls
  • Beasts of Agaptus: Bestiary

The Big Picture

  • Suggested over-arching plots.

Credits: Art ©ZombieSmith 2012-2013, used with permission.

Spam or Feng Shui Game?

Suitcase full of moneyEvery once in a while, a piece of spam is so surreally stupid that I think it needs to become a game scenario.  Today I found this beauty as I was clearing my spam filter, from a highly credible Hotmail address.  Suitcase full of money?  Yeah!  I must be mine, I hadn’t noticed until now but I did indeed lose one.  I’ll e-mail you my personal information right away!  Seriously, this needs to be a game of Fiasco, Leverage, Feng Shui, Over The Edge, or the upcoming Shadow of the Century.

6000 North Terminal Parkway
Suite 4000
Atlanta, GA 30320
Call: 209- XXX-XXXX

Attn: Consignee,

An abandoned Suitcase from Air Cargo Services West Africa was brought to our facility today and when scanned it revealed 450Bundles of $100Dollars Bills which is $4.5Million Dollar. The consignment was abandoned because the Content was not properly declared by the consignee as money rather personal effect to avoid diversion by the delivery Agent.

The details of the consignment are tagged on the Trunk box.

Reconfirm your;

1. Your Name.
2. Home phone & Cell Phone
3. Home delivery address
4. Occupation.
5. Email Address.
6. Any form of Identification either Drivers license or International Passport.

Or disregard.

Send the required details to me through Fax: or send through this email.

This is the nature of the suitcase.

Wheels: 4 wheels
Handles: Trolley handle with top & side handles
Dimensions: Height: 70cm, Width: 50cm, Depth: 30cm
Weight: 8.1KG.

It is required that you contact us so that l will direct you on the Procedure of normalization and finally the deployment of Transguard to deliver to your doorstep.
They are specialists in this field and very much geared to provide the security it needs to your doorstep home or abroad.

Best regards,
Mr. Peter
(ARP) Atlanta International Airport

One A.M. Ideas: Fiasco — The IT Crowd

The IT CrowdYeah, I keep doing that.  when I can’t get back to sleep in the dark of night, I come up with great ideas for wasting more time I don’t get paid for.  This time, it’s a playset for Jason Morningstar’s game Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games), using the setting of the British comedy “The IT Crowd.”

Naturally, I’d want to use the “soft tilt” table from The Fiasco Companion, since there are relatively few deaths on this show.

Yeah, another great idea for next year’s Big Bad Con!

octaNe: The Pet Professionals

octane_squareSo as I was saying in my previous post, one of the games I have ready for Games on Demand at Big Bad Con this weekend is Jared Sorensen’s octaNe: the psychotronic game of post-apocalyptic trash-culture america (Memento Mori Theatricks).  Because this is supposed to run in a 2-hour block, I created handouts that include the character sheet and rules summaries for the players.

octaNe is inspired by movies like Six-String Samurai, Repo Man and The Road Warrior.  In a nutshell:

Gas up your smartcar, tune up your six-string and don’t forget to feed your monkey. octaNe is a roller-coaster ride through irradiated wastelands and strip-mall paradise from the alien rockstar splendor of Shangri-L.A. to the decadent neon strip of Lost Vegas. Masked wrestlers rule the lands of New Texaco and sentient monkeys study the Tao in the flooded ruins of San Francisco.

Global warming? The world got a whole lot cooler.

hamsterThere’s a premise I’ve wanted to use for a while with this setting.  Back in 2009, a funny guy named Bart(!) posted a spoof site called “Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA“, satirising one of the many end-or-the-world scares we seem to get every six months or so.  Its offer:

You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind?

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

I love it so much.  Yes, it’s the Rapture did happen, and yes, you were wrong about disbelieving it, but by gum, you’re an ethical atheist and you have a contract!  You have to save those pets!  So I also also created a EEBP_brochure that uses the Website’s text.  It’s absolutely perfect to suggest endless complications when you roll poorly…

Blog To-Do List of Tall Orders

Black cat on top of a book pileHaving now thoroughly promised more on this blog than I can deliver unless I set priorities and timelines, I’ll ‘fess up to what readers can realistically expect, in descending order of priority:

1.  Notes related to the games I’m running at Big Bad Con next weekend: two scheduled games, Rob Wieland’s CAMELOT Trigger using Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) instead of Fate Core, and Emily Care Boss’s Colony Wars series pitch for Robin D. Laws’ Drama System; and two stand-by packs for Games on Demand, The Muppet Show for FAE based on Tom “Blue” Tyson’s playset, and Jared Sorensen’s psychotronic game of post-apocalypse octaNe.  Since I’ve committed to those months ago and the whole thing is going to be over in a few days (Big Bad Con runs October 4-6, 2013), they go first.

2. Notes related to writing the War of Ashes RPG for Evil Hat Productions.  The project is on a short schedule, it’s a contract commitment, and it’s fun.  I’ll probably concentrate a lot of effort on this through March 2014, then  it should decrease as the book will then belong to other team members.

3. The last post in my Fate of the Budayeen series.  I’ve had it outlined since I posted the previous entry, and I started writing the first section but the other commitments must take priority for now.  Still, I’ll slip it in as soon as I can while I still have momentum, so I hope to post it in October 2013.

4. The occasional cooking post.  They don’t take much time to write and I like sharing recipes.  Posts of opportunity only.

5. The book club notes, maybe.  It looks like the Goodreads book club is moribund right now, but should it rise from its ashes, I enjoy writing pop culture notes on the monthly selections.  If it lives, and if I can fit it in, monthly posts.

6. Occasional game reports.  I’ll continue to post my character sheets and pictures when I play, and if I have time, mini-reviews of games I try.  Posts of opportunity only.

7. Wild promise #1: Fate of the Skyrealms.  Yes, I announced I wanted to use FAE to adapt Skyrealms of Jorune and I still think it’s a great project, but it will have to wait.  Probably a lot, like summer 2014 at the earliest.  I’m pretty sure I made other equally ambitious project announcements I can’t recall right now, and they will have to wait too.

War of Ashes RPG

Vorix skirmisherI guess the critter is out of the bag about the game I will be writing for, as we have received official permission to talk about the project development.  (Fred Hicks talks about it in today’s blog entry.)  The working title is War of Ashes RPG, although this may change; it will be a role-playing game based on the intellectual property from ZombieSmith, publisher of the miniatures game War of Ashes: Shieldwall, and implemented using Evil Hat Productions’ Fate Accelerated system.

Last night was an excellent, stunningly productive meeting — believe me, it’s usually my job as project manager to try to herd cats, and it was lovely to watch Evil Hat’s Sean Nittner skilfully do the herding.  Good Lord, we started1 and ended on time, we had a discussion agenda and action items, and Sean sent meeting notes the same night.  We established responsibilities, lines of communication, schedule, and basic process.2 This is new territory, getting all this without having to beg for it!


This was my first in-person view of ZombieSmith’s WoA miniatures, but you can have a look at some on their site (they’re even nicer live!)  The hope is that we can come up with a game that will remain role-playing but will readily plug into the miniatures game.  It’s not as easy as it sounds; if you’ve tried it this with Clan War/Legends of the Five Rings (AEG), Warhammer Fantasy Battles/Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Games Workshop), Warhammer 40,000/Dark Heresy (Games Workshop/Fantasy Flight Games), BattleTech/BattleTech RPG (FASA), etc., you know how tricky it can be.  This will be a role-playing game first and foremost, but we’ll try very hard to use Fate Accelerated’s flexibility to match the games as closely as possible.

I will be using this blog as a notebook of ideas, a sounding board, and I suspect, an overflow for all the stuff that won’t fit in a single book.

1 Except for the fact that half of us literally missed Levar Burton’s visit to EndGame by seconds.  While this picture was being taken, we were around the corner on the sidewalk, wondering: “Where are they?  I thought they were right behind us?”  Return.

2 The perverse part of me suggests that I should now answer only every fourth or fifth e-mail, starting each time with “I didn’t read all that, can you summarize for me?” Kind of like the jerks who refuse to tip because they were shorted on tips when they delivered pizza as teenagers. But no, I’m not one of them. Return.

Credits: Art ©ZombieSmith 2012-2013, used with permission.