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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Roleplaying Tales: Instant Magic User Death

A couple years back I was playing in a homebrew tabletop with a very robust and varied magic system. I'd been playing an old necromancer with an extensive magic knowledge limited by his magically-lowered magic power. In meta terms this meant I did basically whatever I wanted with magic as long as it was within my particular elements and had requirements under my magic power stat.
This was entertaining for me and the other party magic user was likewise enjoy them-self but the GM was coming to the realization that his present magic setup, while great for players, was a lot of work for the game's GM. Always having to calculate the costs of all the things we wanted to do was taking more time out of the sessions than he'd like an he decided he would prefer to not. Alas, in his way to being in the enviable position of "not dealing with this bullshit" were those two wizards.
So he trotted the party off on a quest that presumably was one of the required steps in our overarching epic. This quest ended deep in a catacomb full of one-way teleportation confronted by the spirit of a high-level paladin. In order to get out of the small door-less room we were in we had to answer a number of philosophical questions testing both our righteousness and our honesty.
When it came to my question I was caught in a Catch-22: Tell the truth and be punished for my lawful evil alignment or lie and be punished for my dishonesty. For reference, I chose the former.
As I was slain, both my own soul and that of the party's other wizard which I had conned her out of early on were sent off to a pleasant eternity with the evil necromantic god I was worshiping.
Having taken out half the party, the GM jovially informed us that the magic system was now under going revisions and would be unavailable for new character creation until further notice.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Fine Evening

He had been having a perfect evening: The stars were out, the fog was low, and he'd found the perfect female companionship for the night's entertainment. Unfortunately, while he was shadowing her some hoodlum had come out of a side alley and menaced her with a knife. He'd hoped the delinquent would merely rob her of her purse and leave at that but he had forced her off into the adjacent alley. It looked like his night was going to be completely ruined.
The man paced near the alley, unsure how to proceed. Having that delinquent there would totally ruin his picturesque plans for the evening but if he left it alone and that hooligan went too far it would equally ruin the message. He pondered finding another girl but this one had just the right build and glossy black hair the exact length of hers. The thought of cutting it triggered a shiver down his spine.
He rolled open the case containing his tools. He caressed the gleaming silver handle of his scissors before sliding his largest scalpel out of its place and rolling the case back up.
He stepped into the alley with purpose. The crook was facing away threatening  the young lady. He grabbed the younger man's left wrist mid-gesture and twisted his arm up and backward then, before losing his moment of surprise, ran the blade of his scalpel neatly down the length of his forearm.
As blood began to run heavily down his left arm, the delinquent tried to turn and slash at the intruder with the knife in his right hand but his arm was caught and the slice of the scalpel repeated. The knife clattered to the cobblestones.
"If you don't stop that bleeding, you're going to die." The man with the scalpel stated coldly.  He seemed done with his opponent already as he cleaned his scalpel with a handkerchief from his pocket. As expected the hapless hoodlum decided to cut his losses and fled the alley.
After tucking away the bloody kerchief, he stepped closer to the girl who, wisely, had not thanked him for saving her. She cautiously watched him approach, scalpel still at hand. As he trailed his eyes over the exposed neck of his fourth victim, he smiled.
Perhaps it was a fine evening after all.

(Inspired by Three Word Wednesday: Delinquent, Hapless, Trigger)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Steam Adds Collectible Card Game to Profiles


Building on their existing achievement system, Steam has implemented a new feature: Steam Trading Cards. The cards are added automatically to your inventory after playing participating games for some period of time. By default you can get up to half of a full set of any given game's cards and it'll be up to you to acquire the other half through crafty trades with your friends, through the community, or by purchasing them on the steam market. Turning in a set of cards nets you 100 "Steam Exp" adding to your Steam Level and nets you random profile backgrounds, random emoticons that can be used on the steam community, a badge to display on your profile and a chance at discount coupons. Repeating the collection nets you more exp, another pair of goodies, and levels up your badge. Higher steam levels mean higher chances of a rare "Booster Pack" drop and the ability to add more people to your friends list.

Screw the rules, I have money.

If emoticons and profile backgrounds don't strike your fancy you can always play the market. I wasn't toying with the beta very long so I just dumped all my cards immediately. Although judging from price trends during the beta, it won't net you a lot: I did manage to scrounge up enough that I'll probably pick up a cheap game from the <$5 bin when one piques my interest.
Alternatively, some of the profile goodies sell for more decent prices, so a few good trades and some luck with the randomization engine can put you in the direction of adding a new distraction to your steam stable.

Did you drop this Normal Pyro Card or this Golden Pyro Card?

Practically speaking, the cards don't add anything immediate to the player experience on Steam. There isn't a card game to play with the cards: although they've hinted they may consider the possibility in the future. Unless you've been capping out your friend's list and want to give it a boost. Nevertheless, for those who like such quirks or like to get competitive with your gaming levels, it'll no doubt be worth the time investment. Now that the system is out of Beta, everyone on Steam who plays relevant games should be getting the cards so whether your interested or not, it is at least worth taking a peek at your inventory to see what new goodies await.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keeping Organized: The Productivity Notebook

When I was more seriously into writing poetry I bought a small pile of variously colored pocket composition books. I'm not sure why I thought I would need so many. I only ever used one for the purpose of writing down any phrases that came to mind that I thought would fit well in a poem. Recently I have repurposed one of the others into what I called my Productivity Notebook.
Every night before I go to sleep I fill out a page of what I want to get done the following day. It acts as a reminder of both important iappointments and ideas that I thought of that night which the tide of sleep might wash from my mind  by morning. Throughout thge day as I complete each task I check it off from the list. Of course sometimes there are unchecked items left at the end of the day. So far this hasn't happneed with anything incredibly important so if it stil needs to be done I just add it to the next day's list.
I never did well with planners or other organizational tools while in school so it is surprising how well this has worked out for me.
How do you keep organized and productive?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stomach Butterflies

Stomach butterflies
are a stupid cliche
until your gut
is afflutter
with attraction
or jealousy
tender insectoid tendrils
clambering 
crawling
creeping
over
the stomach
as though they heard
it was the swiftest route
to the heart

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Haiku Contest: Moon Law

For those of you that follow me on twitter my love for haiku is rather obvious. So, of course, I am ready to capitalize on any excuse top provide the internet with more haiku.
To that end I thought I would share this lovely item I stumbled upon: Wild Age Press is holding a haiku contest to celebrate the release of the Poetry Chapbook Moon Law by Samantha Duncan. You just need to follow them on twitter (Or Google+) and write a love haiku to the moon.
On Twitter you'll need to tag it #MoonLaw.
On G+ you'll need to share it with Wild Age Press.
You can check their blog for full contest details.
Right now their follow count and the level of competition is low.
Eight days are remaining.
Let's kick it up a notch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

J.K. Rowling's Adult Fiction Gambles

There is no doubt that J.K. Rowling's new book "The Casual Vacancy" is going to be a commercial success. That is a given based purely on name recognition alone. What Rowling wants, however, is to take a step beyond her status as a children's fiction star to acceptance in the realm of "serious" literary fiction. Nothing about this situation thus far is unusual but some of the actions her new publishing house Little, Brown & Co. have taken, largely under her direction, baffle me.
First was the announcement some months ago that many countries would not be recieving copies of the manuscript for translation purposes until after the book's September 27th street date. The agency did so based on a system of rating countries on their risk of piracy. Too high risk of a leak? You have to wait until after the US release. This is in stark contrast to traditional logic in publishing that says you want translators to have as much time as reasonably possible to work on your book. There seems to be worry that many european countries may end up with sub-par translations in the rush to get books printed in time for the christmas season.
The second point of surprise for me was the statement that they are sending out no copies for reviews. Rowling is incredibly adamant that the book be judged on it's own merits, not just her fame as the author of Harry Potter. It is still shocking exactly how slim she is cutting back the marketing. I would have expected at the very least for the New York Times or the New Yorker to get copies so the serious literary types whose attention she is courting would see it.
In general she is running a very low key marketing campaign: A small amount of internet ads, small store signage, and a last minute TV bump via appearances on The Daily Show and Good Morning America. I suppose the part I have a difficult time wrapping my head around is the equation of fanfare with being non-literary.
She is the author of one of the most, if not the most, successful children's book franchises of all time. So no matter what she does, of course it will still be in the conversation. But if she feels this is the best way to rebrand herself into an adult author, who am I to argue? And if she cares more about re-branding than book sales, the gamble may be worthwhile.
I'm sure it's relieving to some that her piracy paranoia has at least calmed to the point where "The Casual Vacancy" will be on e-books from day one. Their initial physical book run will be two million and I'm sure that money will roll although I personally will be waiting for the reviews.