No. We all have day jobs. Things that we do when we aren’t happily engaging in our various hobbies. For me this involves maintaining a series of interrelated applications in my company’s finance department. Sometime around October of last year we signed a contract with a vendor to completely and totally overhaul one of those systems with a go-live date of January 1st. We made it, although the new system is not without its bugs (that I am still working on… gotta have job security right?)
In order to wrap my head around the time I needed in order to get this project done, I may perhaps have over-reacted and shut down large portions of the internet. I used to have a list of everything that got shut down but that became frustrating as well. I had it in my head that I would minimize my online presence. Or make it so that everything I connected to online was phone only. Or leave the internet and never come back. Something like that. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet.
For this blog, I just downloaded a plug-in that allowed me to disable the site. No deletions of old blog posts. If you came here looking for me, there was just a sign that read “Taking a Break from the Internet”. The break is now over but I don’t have any grand plans for what I plan on doing with the internet.
The new plan is to move from a holistic internet approach to a silo’d one. This is actually the opposite of what people recommend when you are “building your brand”. I have various tools for accessing different sites. I will play on those sites as I feel like and not feel that I need to be connecting one site to another. Cross-sharing hurts my brain.
So if you’re following me on here.. yay! I’ll be posting more.. perhaps not a lot more.. but more, mostly philisophical ramblings or discussion of how things are going with my gaming group. My Pathfinder Rogue just made 2nd level.
We recently had a character creation session for the group’s next adventure. The last one ended when the GM went off to Ohio in pursuit of true love. I can’t say anything about the search for love since I’ve done that myself. I might snicker a little bit about doing it in Ohio but you know, Ohio.
We’re doing the ‘Serpent Skull’ adventure path for Pathfinder. I really don’t know much about it and I’m avoiding spoilers. I did get the impression that it was somewhat Tarzan/King Kong/Treaure Island themed. Something tropical with pirates and lizard men anyway.
With that in mind, “Phay” takes her name but not her personality from Fay Wray. I’m imagining her as a classic Fighter/Magic-User/Thief Half-Elf though she is statted up as a full Rogue. The picture I’m using is one I found by searching for pirates on Pinterest. I wish I could find the source. Basic on the mini I’m using, I imagine that she uses alchemical dyes to darken her hair and take on a more human look but as she spends more time in the jungles it will grow out to show off her elf heritage.
Edit: Credit for the model is Pan Shuang Shuang.
—Greta Tailor was a silly girl, always dreaming of being whisked away from her humdrum life as a barmaid. She was not however a foolish girl. Though she would flirt and smile with the various travelers who made their way through the Wandering Minotaur Inn, the many who would invite her to their rooms were regularly disappointed.
Then there was ‘Lord’ Nasathaer. He was an elf whose excess of charisma and deficit of wisdom had served him well in his career as an adventuring bard. He and his band of heroes legitimately saved the town from the ghost that had been abducting children. With his slight weight bouncing on top of the barmaid, the elf lord received two gifts that he would never truly appreciate: Greta’s love and a daughter.
Greta raised her daughter well until she was taken from this world by a magical plague that had infected the area. Uncomfortable around the ‘half breed’ girl, Phaeylerheynha was sent off to live with her father’s family. Nasathaer was still living the adventuring life and had little time or inclination to care for his young daughter. Instead she was shuffled around before one enterprising relative dumped the funds necessary to get her into a magic school.
As it turns out, Phaeylerheynha was not a particularly good wizard and she ditched magic school after learning the rudiments of wand and staff use. While she hadn’t inherited her father’s skill with magic, she had inherited his quick reflexes and sharp elven senses. Both of these served her well on boats that came in and out of the harbor and she left her old life behind her on the first boat that would take her. On her own, the family was quite happy to be done with their little embarrassment and Phay was happy to be able to make her own way in life.
Female half-elf rogue (scout, swashbuckler) 1 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide 134, 135)
N Medium humanoid (elf, human)
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 17, touch 14, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +4 Dex)
hp 10 (1d8+2)
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +0; +2 vs. enchantments, +2 circumstance bonus vs. effects that require hearing
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +4 (1d4+3/19-20) or
mwk cold iron elven curve blade +5 (1d10+3/18-20)
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6
Str 14, Dex 19, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 16
Feats Weapon Finesse
Traits rich parents, river rat (marsh or river)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Climb +6, Disable Device +10, Escape Artist +8, Perception +6 (+1 to hearing checks), Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +8, Swim +7; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception
Languages Common, Elven
SQ arcane training, elf blood
Combat Gear antiplague, antitoxin (2); Other Gear mwk studded leather, dagger, mwk cold iron elven curve blade, chalk, earplugs, flask, flint and steel, grappling hook, masterwork backpack, masterwork thieves’ tools, silk rope (50 ft.), waterskin, 3 gp, 9 sp, 3 cp
Antitoxin This substance counteracts a specific toxin. If you drink a vial of antitoxin, you gain a +5 alchemical bonus on Fortitude saving throws against poison for 1 hour.
Alchemical Power Component
Like antiplague, this substance can augment certain healing spells.
Neutralize Poison (M): Add +2 on your caster level check to neutralize poison on a target creature. Antitoxin has no effect when you cast the spell on an object.
Arcane Training +1 CL for spell trigger/completion items for favored class, or use them as if 1st level.
Earplugs +2 save vs. hearing effects, -5 hearing-based Perception.
Elf Blood Half-elves count as both elves and humans for any effect related to race.
Elven Immunities – Sleep You are immune to magic sleep effects.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Sneak Attack +1d6 Attacks deal extra damage if flank foe or if foe is flat-footed.
That picture over there is a terrible picture of me but it is the perfect illustration of the top two things that keep me busy in the best ways possible. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My son does swimming, soccer, and rock climbing. He loves to draw. Pokémon, Super Mario, and Ben 10 are his favorite subjects. He and I play a lot of the Pokémon card game where he regularly beats the pants off of me. My daughter is growing up so fast. She is curious about everything and almost always has a smile on her face. Over the weekend was the first time she came looking for me for comfort. She has always accepted my comfort but this weekend she crawled into my lap and laid her head against me. I must be doing something right.
Work on the other hand… actually, I’m kind of loving work right now too. I’m a little stressed because the deadlines for the current project are so tight. It would be nice to have a little room to breathe. That said, this is exactly the sort of project that I like working on so I can’t complain. I won’t go into specifics but my work title is ‘Financial Systems Analyst’ so what I find exciting might not interest other people.
I was going to make an attempt at Nanowrimo next month but I already know that I’m not going to have to time to dedicate to it this year. This is really too bad because “Jesus’ Erotic Adventures in Purgatory” was going to be AWESOME.
It is also becoming more difficult to keep up with the gaming. I’ve opted to skip out of DC Gameday this year because the scheduling is so tight. I am however doing my best to keep up with my regular gaming group which is currently working its way through the intro adventure from 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. We have met up with one dragon. We ran away.
The person who hasn’t been eating up my time is the Mrs. She’s amazing and I love her dearly. We’re celebrating 11 years of marriage in a few weeks and (don’t tell her but) we’re somewhere in the range of 18 years since we started dating. She deserves special mention since she is what keeps me from going crazy. I love her so much, we’re buying each other a new dishwasher to celebrate.
So nobody tagged me on this but I saw the post about this on Anya Breton’s Blog and I told myself that I should totally do that, especially since not a single time-travel movie was included in the list. This needs to be rectified.
I’m posting these in stream of consciousness order. As I posted each one, it would generally remind me of the next one on my list. I also adopted a ‘no peeking at the movie cabinet’ rule because that seemed against the spirit of the game.
Back to the Future II (1989)
Yes, I said 2. Why? Because in the second movie Marty goes BACK into the events of the first movie. That’s just awesome. Don’t get me wrong, watch the whole trilogy but the part where he’s sneaking around trying to avoid himself is what really makes it.
Groundhog Day (1993)
“Don’t Drive Angry!” I still say this jokingly. Groundhog day pretty much defined a whole genre of TV show knock offs. The Stargate one is perhaps my favorite.
Let’s talk about how this movie is not about domination power fantasies. This is the love story of two broken people who through trial and error manage to find a relationship that not only works for them but heals them.
Wayne’s World (1992)
When you’re a high school boy, sometimes you latch onto a movie in order to bond with your social group. I know some younger guys for which that movie was Anchorman. For me and my friends it was Wayne’s World.
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Let me be clear. This is NOT a good movie but it did stick with me. Sometime in the first half hour I said to my wife. “This is terrible. Maybe there will be some lesbian sex. That’ll make it better.” It turns out that I was right. There WAS lesbian sex. In fact the whole plot was about that. Turns out I was wrong. It didn’t make it any better.
The Addiction (1995)
A little indy film about a new vampire trying to figure out her new undead existence. Christopher Walken’s soliloquy about what it means to be a vampire who has found balance is the icing on an excellent movie.
Another little Indy film. This one dealt with the power of mystical numbers and a narrator who was going crazy/gaining super powers/both/neither(?!). The secret order of mystical rabbis was a lovely touch.
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)
I got my hands on this movie right around the time I graduated for college. I would put it on repeat while I was job hunting. I did a lot of job hunting. I blame Canada. It may have ruined Les Mis for me when I finally got around to seeing that.
Heavy Metal (1981)
This became a cult classic during college. The kind of thing you would break out to indoctrinate the newbies. I only had it on VHS but I still break out the awesome soundtrack from time to time. Especially if I want to listen to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”.
Earth Girls are Easy (1988)
This was one of my sister’s favorite movies and so I ended up watching it a lot. On top of that though was the (not-at-the-time) all star cast and the sheer campy goodness.
Another movie that I came to through my sister. It is silly, campy, and has Estelle Getty at her absolute best. Plus I’m sure it was the events of this movie that lead James Spader to be the broken man he is in Secretary (see above).
The Frighteners (1996)
What is it about me and Michael J Fox films? (The Secret of My Success barely missed getting onto this list as well). This one came out of no where for me. I had no idea what to expect and what I got was a really cool mystery with a cleverly built world.
Everyone remembers the 6th Sense but I think Unbreakable was really M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece. It really solidified what I imagine a low superhero setting to be like where the heroes are super, but only by comparison and they are clearly human.
Independence Day (1996)
I remember the end of this movie with the alien space ships crashing to earth. All of that technology… this is how the Robotech universe got started. I’m sure that the sequel will just be a rebuilt world fighting against another alien menace but I want to see the earth transformed by this experience. On top of that, this movie just hits all sorts of emotional high notes culminating in Bill Pullman’s speech.
The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
“Bah Weep Grah Nah Weep Nini Bahn!” I’m going out on a high note here. There was so much about this movie to love. Optimus Prime’s noble sacrifice. Hot Rod’s coming of age story. “You’ve got the TOUCH!” Before this movie Transformers were ‘robots’, after this movie they were ‘Cybernetic life forms’. The difference is a notable one.
Only one of the players from the last session kept his pregen character, the other player from before made a new character, and the other two of us were new. So the party make up was one halfling wizard (my character), a high elf wizard (the pregen), a dwarf cleric (built as paladin-like as possible), and a halfling rogue. It’ll be interesting to see how the characters change for next time. I got the impression that we liked our character ideas but most would be interested in tweaking the mechanics behind the character.
In general I found that the game played pretty fast but that were were slowed down by a lot of our side conversations. For instance, as good seasoned players we did our best to concentrate fire. The sleep spell however works on remaining hit points so in order to get the best spread there, it makes sense to spread out the damage and then sleep the area. This sparked a conversation about how best to work that in the future.
One of the things I look for with new systems is how well it will play with my son. I honestly don’t think that he (at 7 years old) would have the patience to go through all of character creation. Even with the basic rules limiting down choices, I found that it took me around an hour to make a character by writing him out long-hand. I’ve already found a few rough draft character generators so I’m sure that situation will be remedied fairly quickly.
In the course of adventure we made it through about three combats. The basics of play haven’t really changed in the past 14 years. Through D&D 3rd Edition, several editions a Mutants and Masterminds, Pathfinder, and now 5th Edition. You roll initiative and take turns based on the roll. Roll to-hit against AC and then determine the results. I find the consistency of it comforting. The differences are in the details.
From my so far limited perspective, the biggest change in 5e from other d20 systems is the smaller range of bonuses. There is a sense that a lower level character still has a chance of messing up a higher level foe. I look forward to playing trhough some higher levels to see how that works out in play. It does rather remind me the E6 variant on D&D where the 3rd Edition ended at 6th level. 5e is still less lethal than that was however.
So far I’m enjoying it but I haven’t had enough experience with it to see the warts yet.
I would like to say that I’m an early adopter but that isn’t at all accurate. What I want is a comprehensive plan for how I use the internet and that just can’t happen in an ad hoc manner. It requires thought and planning and pictures of little boxes with arrows pointing at them. And sure that plan will only last for three months or so but that’s how it is going to be.
Several years ago now, I made the decision that I was going to be moving more cloud based. I forget what exactly spurred that choice on but I see to remember having several conversations with people about security and what would happen if I threw my computer over a bridge. I want to say that it mostly coincided with the release of Google Music around 2011. If I could store all of my music online, which at the time was the biggest percentage of my file space, then why not move all of my files up there? The plan involved eventual move to a Chromebook as well.
The leader in online storage was Dropbox. They offered 2 gig of space free with the ability to gain more if you pimped it to your friends. Trimming out the duplicate files on my hard drive (a painful process) made it possible that I was JUST able to fit everything in Dropbox’s 50 gig/$100 per year solution if I kept my music files someplace else. I had Dropbox for all of a month when they sent me an e-mail letting me know that my $100 per year now bought 100 gig of space. I let out a sigh of relief and uploaded my music files.
As my time with Dropbox came to an end, I knew I wanted a Chromebook and the Chromebook came with two years of 100 gig space on Google Drive. Dropbox had been very good to me, but I’m not made of money either. In fact, my previous computer was a Macbook which had been a money hole so I was even more money-conscious than I might normally have been. So with the move to Chromebook I was fully 100% on the cloud… if you ignore the external hard drive I have squirreled away with all of my files backed up. The external hard drive is only for emergencies however.
Over the next two years I experimented with things(e-mail addresses, social media, on-line document editing, etc) that didn’t overly involve on-line storage. Then my father-in-law’s computer broke. Fortunately for him his hard drive didn’t crash but he needed a way to get the files stored on it. I have an S/ATA to USB converter so I told him I’d take care of it. I ripped all of the files and then went to share them….
Dropbox was the obvious choice for the type of sharing I wanted to do to get him his files back. Honestly, it didn’t really work but in the process I ended up re-purchasing my 100gig of Dropbox space as well as the 64 gig USB flash drive that he eventually got his files back on. My Chromebook is only a couple months away from dropping my free storage space and I needed to figure out what I was going to do. Here were the facts as I saw them:
- Google Drive – $2/month for 100gig, Doc files stored as Link to Internet on hard drive
- MS OneDrive – $2/month for 100gig, Doc files stored as *.docx on hard drive.
- Dropbox – $8/month for 100gig, Doc files stored as is but no editor. Best reputation.
I’m more than a year out from my Mac days so the money shock wasn’t hitting me as hard and there is something satisfyingly simple about Dropbox. So I moved my files over to my dropbox account except for documents I am actively working on which are now stored on my OneDrive. It was an ok deal.
This morning I received an e-mail from Dropbox. My $100 per year will now be purchasing one Terabyte worth of storage space rather than the previous 100gig. I have no complaints.
Now to figure out photo gallery hosting.
- 8:00 pm – 2 Broke Girls (CBS)
- 8:00 pm – Gotham (CW)
- 9:00 pm – Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
- 10:00pm – Castle (ABC)
- 8:00 pm – The Flash (CW)
- 8:00 pm – Selfie (ABC)
- 9:00 pm – Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
- 8:00 pm – Arrow (CW)
- 8:00 pm – Big Bang Theory (CBS)
- 8:00 pm – Bones (FOX)
- 10:00pm – Elementary (CBS)
- 10:00pm – Haven (Syfy)
- 9:00 pm – Doctor Who (BBC America)
- 11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
- 8:00 pm – Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Do you know what happens when you go too long without playing a role-playing game? That’s right, you start working on your homebrew setting. The one that you started in college and that mostly consists of a bunch of arrows drawn on graph paper describing the theories of magic… not that I have ever done that.
In my case, the world spins out of a setting that I started working on at the height of the d20 craze but never really did anything with because EVERYONE was working on their d20 world at the time. It would probably never have been more than a blip on the gaming radar anyway but now it might be fun just to take for a ride with some players.
The setting was originally called ‘Isla’ but then transformed into ‘Wyrdstrands’ because of emphasis I had placed on ley lines. Those have faded but it still has a few features that make it unique:
1. Cosmology – Originally I had planets that corresponded to the planes but I have become more enamored with the idea of single plane realities where ‘Heaven’ is really up in the sky and ‘Hell’ is really underground. In this case, all portals to ‘Other Realms’ are in fact gateways to the other planets in the system. The main world, subtly named Lunaris, is one of several moons around a water giant. This makes the Moon (called Oceanus) a prominent figure in the sky. It also adds power to the Werewolves (more on those later).
2. Theology – I have been rather fascinated with the Ugaritic Pantheon and much like seeing Heaven and Hell as real places I’ve wanted to see the gods be closer to the ground. The gods of the world live in the world and are primarily god of their city. Each city has its own god and only under rare (see below) circumstances will their power range out past the surrounding suburbs. Though I had the idea, I hadn’t until recently dealt with the specifics. The 13th Age world map is perfect for this if I just transform the Icons into gods. Each has his or her own base and portfolio. This also ties in with the ley line idea because so much of the magic of 13th Age ties into the Icons, perhaps it is the power that flows through the ley lines that makes each Icon a local deity. Also, if the power of the god is separate from the person of the god then it should be relatively easy to put a new person on the throne… like when Christmas specials trade out Santa Clause.
3. The Races – Half-Elves and Half-Orcs have long bothered me. If humans can breed like that then aren’t Humans, Orcs, and Elves all the same species? The answer for this world is yes. The 3 Primary races are Elves(High magic-y types), Orcs (Closer to Half-Orcs in demeanor), and Dwarves (as you’d expect). Humans are what you get when you mix Orcs and Elves and both races often wish they hadn’t gone there. This means there are no more Half-elves and Half-Orcs. Gnomes come from Dwarf/Elf pairings… these are gnomes of a more fey nature. Goblins come from Orc/Dwarf couples and are basically greenish halflings who really have earned their reputations as thieves. All together these are the ‘pure’ races and while there are other humanoids… things have gone horribly wrong with them. (See Below)
4. Where things went wrong – An age or two ago the god who corresponds with the High Druid in 13th Age decided that it was time to expand. A deity with expansion on their mind needs an army. The first time this happened resulted in the creation of Undead and the one time God of Law and Magic becoming the Lich King. This time the High Druid enlisted the aid of the Dragon God and they began to breed an army. In pretty much any other D&D based setting, dragons and humans can intermarry with just about anything. In Wyrdstrands this became weaponized and the Great War that ended the last age was won when the Gods finally banded together and defeated the Dragon God and the Lord Druid.
Of course now that I’ve written this… it sounds like it would be much more fun to pit the PCs against the combined forces of the Dragon God and the High Druid and let them slowly uncover the armies of half-dragons and werewolf minions. Let them fight against the elite Medusa forces. Although the left over taint of the war could be interesting as well.
Knowing that it would take three weeks, I took it over there anyways and figured I’d see what happens. They told me I should be able to pick my bike up on April 1st. Hopefully they aren’t kidding. You know, because April 1st and all.
Turns out that the time frame worked out well because Sunday night it started snowing. It snowed so hard that the federal government closed and I stayed home from work. My gym is in the basement of my work so getting a jump on the working out didn’t happen as well as i’d hoped.
And then there was Tuesday. Tuesday I returned to my desk to find a voice mail from my wife. The baby had a fever and she was going to see the doctor. Calling her back, it turned out the baby had an infection and they were taking her to the hospital because the hospital could do the tests faster. That night I got home, fed the dog, packed up some clothes for my son and then my sister-in-law picked me up. We dropped off the clothes so my son could stay with his grandmother and then went over to the hospital. y little girl was checked in Tuesday night around 10.
Over the course of the visit, the Doctors kept upping the time frame that they were going to have to keep her. 24 hours observation. 48 hours of observation. It capped out at 72 hours of observation.
Wednesday morning I arrived at the hospital to find my wife and baby had gone down to ultrasound her internal organs. Baby girl was sleeping through the whole thing. The only symptom she’d had was a high fever and that was gone after the first night once they pumped some antibiotics into her.
The ultrasound was interesting:
“Here is her bladder…”
“Here is her uterus…”
“Here is some poop…”
The poop came out 15 minutes later.
Wednesday night I went home around dinner time, picked up my son and had some bonding time. We had ice cream, walked the dog, and played some Super Paper Mario. Then I took him to school the next morning. I didn’t do any work on his words which I should have. Fortunately his mother crammed them into his brain on Thursday.
Thursday morning, after dropping my little man off at school, I showed up back at the hospital with coffee in hand. Things were looking up and the culture had come back with E. Coli and the UTI was showing only in the bladder, nothing up near the kidneys. In other words, highly treatable.
We high tailed it out of there as fast as we could. Stopped by CVS and had some lunch while we waiting. My afternoon was then spent catching up on work e-mails as I had forgotten to set my out-of-office message and people were starting to panic that I wasn’t answering their e-mails.
And all of this adds up to a week in which I didn’t get any exercising done at all. On the bright side of things, I had a banana and cheerios for breakfast this morning and as I post this, I am preparing to go for a nice 4 mile walk during my lunch break.
There is always next week.