New Blog Software

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I'm converting the back end blogging engine from Movable Type to Word press today. This probably isn't interesting at all unless you are into blogging software, movabletype has just become too cumbersome to use. The site will probably have an "in progress" look to it today as I get the new software setup. If you read the site through RSS you will need to update those links. I have the new RSS link up as soon as possible.

The wife said "You need to blog, you haven't written anything in a while." Actually, I've written quite a bit. It's just all been for my Serenity game.

I've been listening to Will Wheaton's "Memories of Futurecast" podcast while cycling latley. It's pretty funny especially if you are a Star Trek fan. The last episode was his recap of "The Long Goodbye." You know the one where Picard dresses up as private eye Dixon Hill and plays an interactive murder mystery on the holodeck. As I was listening it struck me that, according to Star Trek at least, the future of entertainment is LARPing. At the time, that seemed like a pretty big leap, but with interactive entertainment (video games) rapidly over-taking non-interactive entertainment (movies) it doesn't seem so futuristic now. Bottom Line: Holodeck RPGs would be awesome.

We had a pretty busy Memorial Day weekend. Grady and his family came down and we went to Scarborough Fair on Saturday. Our nephew Aiden is a little bundle of energy so we had a great time. I think he rode every animal and pirate ship there was to ride at the fair. That night, we had a cookout/pool party. This is the first Memorial day weekend in a long time where its been warm enough to swim in the pool. Looks like it's shaping up to be a hot summer, it's supposed to top 100 this week.

Sunday afternoon we went over to Phlome and Ninsi's house for another cookout. I feel you can't have too many on Memorial Day. That evening we went out to the Church in Dallas. We seem to make it out about twice a year, Memorial Day and Halloween, which, really is more than enough for me.

Monday morning we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and go for a 30 mile bike ride before it got too hot. We probably could have done more this weekend but I'm not sure how.

Yard Work

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Yard work seems to be what we have been doing lately. Nikki and I have spent at least 3 weekends now working to get the yard in shape, mowing, trimming, planting etc.

We set aside money every year to do some kind of home improvement project. Last year it was the game room remodel. This year we decided to replace the fence on the east side of the house. Unfortunately, when I went to talk to the neighbor about it, he pointed out that our yard was sorta "flowing" into his, and we would need to build a retaining wall before a new fence could really be put in. He also said he couldn't pay for any of the fence, but I didn't really expect him too. Splitting a fence with your neighbor is kinda like a game of chicken. Which one of you can stand to look at the falling down fence before one of you offers to fix it. Since he had already reinforced his side with 2x4 bracing to keep it falling down, making his side look like crap, I declared him the winner and decided to get it replaced myself.

Step one was to get a retaining wall built, which after 3 weeks of wrangling with fence and wall contractors got done today. It looks pretty nice, of course once the fence is up, you won't really be able to see it from our side. The fence will go in later this week.

The pool is now open as well, though its still a little to cold to swim in. This year was the easiest pool opening I've ever had. Usually it takes about 3 weeks for me to get the pool in shape but I was able to do it in just a few days this year. With the torrential downpour last Friday its a little green right now but that's normal. Hopefully it will warm up some towards Memorial Day and we can swim in it.

This past weekend we did our first bike ride of the year, The Wild Ride, in Richardson. Pretty late start on cycling for us, 3 years ago we had already done the MS-150 by this time. It was a great ride though, and neither of us had too much trouble with the 40 mile route even though our training has been slacking this year as well.

We also went to the Hot Rods and Heels Burlesque festival Saturday evening. It was a great show. Our friend, Cherry Crush, who needs a website so I have something to link to, was in the show, so we always have fun going to hang out.


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It's so odd, back when I was in high school, video games, anime, star trek, star wars, and RPGs were all "nerdy". Heck using computers was nerdy. That's not really the case anymore is it? Almost everyone plays video games, I bet you'd be hard pressed to find a teenager who doesn't watch anime, and most of the folks in my high school class are on facebook so I'm guessing using computers is somewhat more common. This is not really the case for RPGs, unless of course you count video game RPGs. (Did you know World of Warcraft subscribers now outnumber the population of Scotland?) RPGs are still pretty nerdy. I'm telling you this because this entry is going to be about RPGS and some pretty niche ones at that. So ya know, if that's not your thing. "These aren't the droids you're looking for."

As I mentioned in the last blog entry my latest fascination is the FATE system. It a sort of build-your-own RPG system. It's based on FUDGE, which is an somewhat older build-your-own RPG. I first read about FATE a few years back when Spirit of the Century was released. It's a Pulp action game set in the 1920s and 30s. Pulp is a subgenre that includes things like Indiana Jones or The Rocketeer. I've never really been all that into it so I didn't immediately pick up SOTC. Last year, another game based on FATE, Starblazers, was released. Now this RPG is not about the Japanese anime of the same name, it's based on some pretty strange Britich Sci-fi comics. I didn't get it right away but eventually picked it up when we were on vacation in California back in April. I was really surprised by how good it is and how well the system works. I'm not sure if I will ever run it, the setting is very odd, but a lot of the info on how to structure a game and create adventures is amazing.

I started poking around for FATE RPGs and found the Dresden Files RPG. It's not even out yet, but if you pre-order it, Evil Hat sends you the PDF. I did and spent the next 2 hours reading the PDF. It's very good, and I might even run it in the future. (Ah yes another game goes on my "list") I wish the book was out so I could read it somewhere other than my pc.

After reading both Starblazers and Dresden files, I thought that a FATE fantasy RPG would be really cool. I don't think I woudl actually play it, but there are so many good ideas for Sci-Fi games in Starblazers I knew that a fantasy game would be a gold mine. Well last night I found just that, Legends of Anglerre. I haven't bought it yet, but I soon will. (And soon may mean after I finish writing this.

Free at last

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Last Tuesday was the five year anniversary of my completion of cancer treatment. I had to look that up in my blog to figure out the actual day. I knew it was sometime around the end of April but I didn't know the exact day. I'm keeping up the Channel Zero tradition it seems. I posted about it a day late 5 years ago and over a week late this time.

(Side Note: In that same entry I mention that Star Wars TV show, which has not come out now five years later.)

So what does it actually mean that I am Cancer free? Is that the same as remission? Well yes technically I am still in remission. What the five year date means is that statically, five years out from treatment, the chance of my Lymphoma returning is below the chance of anyone getting it in the first place. In the medical world that's as cancer free as you can get.

Last week was hugely busy. Most of the Dallas Crew went and saw David Sedaris last Monday. I've always wanted to see him live. I missed the chance the last time he was here. I thought he was pretty funny. I'm not sure everyone else agreed. I think he'd do better if he just told stories about being a writer and do less readings, but ya know it's his show, and what do I know.

Tuesday, I had planned a happy hour to celebrate the 5 year anniversary, but since it turned out to be my only free night that week, I rescheduled. I drank a scotch at home, possibly more than one.

Wednesday was the second session of my new Serenity campaign. It's a nice change from the more combat intensive D&D.

Speaking of RPGs, my latest fascination is the FATE system. It a generic RPG system based on FUDGE. Which is , well yet another generic RPG system. I should probably stop there otherwise this will become an entry on the FATE system, I'll do that later.

Thursday was our last softball game of the spring season, we lost but ended up with 2 wins overall for the season. Summer season starts in a few weeks, I'm looking forward to it. Cycling season has started without me this year but I'll find a way to fit both in. My goal is to ride 100 miles a week. So far this week, 20 miles and it about killed me.

Friday Nikki and I headed out for Oklahoma to see nieces and nephews and our families. We had missed Aiden's birthday last month so it was time for a trip home. The summer is rapidly filling up and we may not get a chance to come home till August at this point.

Birthday Trip 2010

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This past weekend was Nikki's Birthday, and we decided to take another trip to Monterrey, CA. We went last year and had a lot of fun so we decided to go back. Last year was a nightmare of canceled and rescheduled flights. This year was much better, we arrived into LA early and got to Monterrey by about 1pm on Thursday. Enough time in fact for us to walk down to Fisherman's Wharf and and take a sailboat tour of the Harbor. Being on a sailboat was fun even though we both got a little wet, Nikki more-so than I.

On Friday, we went out on a whale watching tour. We chose a smaller boat that stayed out longer than the standard tours that went out of Fisherman's Wharf, hoping that would let us see more whales. Unfortunately, the whales did not cooperate, we ended up seeing a group of 3 gray wales, but the waves were so big we only got to see their spray and their tail. The smaller boat also bounced around a lot on the ocean, Nikki and I were both queasy but some of the other passengers did not fare as well, especially the kids. One poor guy had has head hanging over the back of the boat most of the trip.

Saturday we slept in and then set out to drive up the coast. We went to an art faire in Pacific Grove, stopped at Pebble Beach,did a little shopping in Caramel and looked at all the cool seaside houses in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Saturday night we went out for Nikki's Birthday at the Chart House. It was excellent and they even customized our menu's just for Nikki's birthday.

Sunday we had planned to go out on another tour, but it was raining pretty heavily so most of them had been canceled,and the few that were still operating were booked up. Instead, we just drove out to the Elkhorn Slough and Nikki was able to get close up shots of the sea otters that live there. That afternoon, we drove up the coast to Big Sur. The coastal cliffs are an impressive sight.

On Monday we spent almost the whole day traveling back home. It takes forever to get back from the west coast, but at least no flight delays this time.

Is he wearing pants?

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Topless Robot ran a story about funny RPG Moments, actually they called it the Worst RPG moments. Btw if you are considering following those links, be warned, Topless Robot is not for the faint of heart. It's comedy is somewhat, well, RAW. In any case, this story was both posted on my facebook wall and emailed to me,as these kinds of things often are. Tiff reminded me that I should have submitted some of our roleplaying stories to the contest, specifically those about Marc. Marc does some crazy stuff, sometimes it works out, sometimes its just funny. So here ya go, three RPG stories that I did not submit, but probably should have,.

In a Deadlands game, Marc was playing a old coot prospector, he and another player (Chris) were trapped in a jail by a vampire. The conversation went something like this.

Me: "You are in the back of the jail, the vampire is blocking the only way out."
Marc: "Is the Vampire wearing pants?"
Me: "Uhm...Yes?"
Marc: " I stick my lit dynamite in his pants and dive under the cot in the jail cell."
Chris: "You WHAT?!"

Vampire explodes, Marc and Chris barely survive.

Another time in Deadlands, he got the whole group involved in the craziness. The were tracking down some monsters that were terrorizing the local farms. Turns about the monsters were Velociraptors. Marc came up with this whole plan where, Nikki and Ninsi would get the vampires to chase them across a prepared trap. The trap, of course, involved dynamite.

Me: " Okay the raptors are chasing them and about to cross the trap."
Marc: " I set it off."
Me: " How much dynamite did you use?"
Marc: " All of it."
Me: " How much is that?"
Marc: "24 sticks."
Me:" That's a little much. The raptors become so much thin red paste on the bottom of the now giant crater that was once the farm. Nikki, Ninsi, and their horses go flying. All the buildings on the farm are flattened. Don't ask about the livestock."

UPDATE: I almost forgot. There was also a T-Rex in this adventure. Chris ended up shooting it in the head, from INSIDE ITS MOUTH. I'm pretty sure Marc convinced him to do that too.

Yet another time, we were play Call of Cthulhu. The group was checking out a mansion that was the home to some cultists. Marc's character was sneaking around on the mansion grounds.

Me: "You are confronted by 2 cultists. They point their shotguns at you."
Marc: " I spray them with my bear spray, that stuff will incapacitate anyone."
Me: " You totally incapacitate the nearer one, the other one shoots you with his shotgun."

Luckily for Marc, Dre was hiding right behind them and was able to finish off Mr. Shotgun before he shot Marc a second time.

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Endocrine Library

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At the fertility clinic, there is a special room that the men go to "do their part." It's called the Library. I am, ahem, intimately familiar with this room at this point, having been to the fertility clinic on and off for over a year now. ( And even twice a few years back because of the cancer treatment.) I noticed that there was a second room in the other part of the clinic called the "Endocrine Library" I asked the lab tech yesterday about that room, not imagining why they would need a second kind of library. She told me it was the same thing, they just had 2 rooms, and she didn't know why it had a different name. Now, I have rarely seen a lot of men in the clinic so I asked her if it ever got so busy that they needed 2 libraries. She said, with a straight non-nonsense look, "No, but some men take a long time in the library."

The Craft and Theroy of RPGs.

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I've been reading a lot latley about Role playing game design, both computer and table top. Specifically, how games change, almost have to change when a new edition or sequel is created. The publishers must keep publishing, else they go out of business. When a new edition or sequel is made it almost has to be different than what came before. There's an article over at Mob United, that talks about this, mostly from the tabletop perspective. Basically, when a publisher makes a new game they can either:

  • Make is just like the old one, which pleases the fans but almost guarantees no new fans and therefore less customers.
  • Make something completely new, which alienates the fans but hopefully creates new ones.
  • Try to "move the ball forward" and do something in-between.

Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy 13 came out recently and both look to have chosen the third option. Mass Effect moved away from being an RPG and towards a 3-D shooter. Final Fantasy 13 removed a lot of the "game" and has moved toward a kind of interactive anime movie. 1UP has a good article on this trend. I can why see they did this but that doesn't mean I really like it. Of course it's possible to go to far the other way as well. Dragon Age is a serious old-school RPG, sometimes frustratingly so, some combats are so difficult you either have to set the difficulty to "I'm so bad I can't hold the controller" or just replay it over and over and hope you get lucky.

That being said, I really like all three of those games, probably Mass Effect 2 the most. They changed a lot from Mass Effect 1, but still managed to make a really good game.

Okay rant over, I should probably spend more time thinking and writing about things like Network Security and IP Networks than RPG theroycraft. I probably won't.

I updated the sidebars today too, and then I realized that you can't actually see them on an individual entry only on the homepage. I'm not sure why that it is. Moveable type is such a pain anymore. I wonder what will take longer, installing wordpress, or fixing the individual entries page.

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The Blog Ring Returns!

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Ninsianna is putting me to shame, with her almost daily posts. I should get on the ball. Hey Ninsi, remember when we had a blog-ring, the blogstopo, and we used to post about who was driving the most traffic to each other's sites? I know that's so 2004.... Curse you social media sites!

Speaking of Ninsi, she is coaching/organizing the softball team that Nikki and I are on. We have a 1-3 record but its a lot of fun. I think we do pretty well for the fact the some of us have never played team sports before. Now if it would just stop being cold at the games.

It snowed again this Saturday not a lot but enough that Nikki and I got caught in a huge traffic jam coming back from a friends house Saturday evening.

We were supposed to work around the house this weekend, but that didn't really happen. The snow and cold canceled our plans to work outside and well we didn't really get around to putting in the shelves that we planned to do about 2 months ago. All the stuff is sitting on the game room floor. I had a ceiling fan that set there for a year and half before I put it up, hopefully the shelves won't take that long.

The Blogosphere:



I just finshed Codelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold which is the first book of the Vorkosigan Saga.
Very good book, but the Sci-Fi bits are really secondary to the story.

Right now I'm reading The Lost Fleet Series by John Hemry/Jack Campbell It's sorta Honor Harrington but not really, though Honor Harrington even goes downhill in the later novels.