30 September 2006

The Last Blog Entry of September

So I say now...

Anyway, I'm going out to work/write soon, after I take care of some business (read: errands) with the family.

I have a confession to make, one which pains me and reddens my face with shame. Yes, folks, it's true. I have a My Space profile.

I know I should have saved this admission for my inevitable appearance on one of any number of morning talk shows, but I couldn't keep it inside me any longer. If you'd like to check it out, feel free to follow this link. Proceed with caution!

My feelings on My Space have always been (and continue to be) fairly negative. It's an obvious marketplace for ads and commercialism, and the typical layout of profiles and blogs isn't very appealing. The only reason I really put up a profile in the first place was so that I could contact a couple of people through My Space. As you probably know, unless you have a My Space profile, you can't do squat.

I tend to doubt I'll be updating the My Space blog very often, if at all. That's what I've got this place (and Freelance Father) for.

So that's my confession. I'm so ashamed. I feel so dirty. I could cry.

Of course, if you're one of those folks with a My Space profile, and you wanna be my friend (awwwww! It's like high school all over again!), drop me a line...

25 September 2006

Monday, Shmonday

Monday morning, and I'm not at work. I'm at home. We're prepping the boy for a doctor's appointment, and I'm going along as escort. These things are always easier when there are two of us along for the ride. He's likely going to be getting a couple of shots today, which always makes for an interesting time.

In the meantime, I'm feeling a little better than I was Friday through Sunday. The extreme sinus pressure I've been feeling since the middle of last week (and a bit before that, IIRC) has yet to manifest itself today. I pray that it doesn't, being as uncomfortable as it is.

I also figured that I'd post the starting stats for the character I'm playing in JD's Liberty campaign, just for grins. I'm still working on his backstory, off and on. I may post a little bit of that, too. We'll see.

Sahm al-Faris
Sahm is a stocky young man, standing nearly 5'8" tall and weighing just over 160 pounds. His muscle definition is obvious, but his build is by no means intimidating. Given his stocky appearance, he is nonetheless quite deft in his movements.

He has long dark hair, which is generally worn down unless he is wearing his turban, in which case he coils it up and ties it back. His eyes are brown, and so dark that they appear to be black in all but the brightest of light. His skin is dark, and his back, chest, legs, and arms are particularly hairy. Sahm makes it a habit to shave his face each and every day.

The clothing he wears is conspicuously southern in style, often comprised of desert-style robes the color of oatmeal, tied at the waist with a rather plain white sash. His default form of armor is a suit of inconspicuous breastplate, with a bronze helmet that comes to a sharp point at the very top.

His signature weapon is a composite longbow. When forced to fight in hand-to-hand combat, Sahm almost always prefers to use his scimitar (which he refers to as a "shamshir"). It is a fine weapon, with a curved blade of folded steel, and a golden hilt that has been wrought to resemble a scorpion (outstretched claws for the crossbar, with the tail curving down and around the hand to cover the ring finger). Lacking this, he has a broad-bladed katar/punch dagger that is effective despite its relatively humble origins.

Sahm bin-Fahad bin-Abbas al-Faris, CR 2
Male Human Fighter 2
LN Medium Humanoid (Human [Southern Empire])
Init +3; Senses Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Common, Istarin

AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16
hp 23 (2 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +1

Spd 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee masterwork scimitar +4 (1d6+1/18-20 ×2)
Ranged composite longbow +6 (1d8+1/×3)
Base Atk +3; Grp +3
Atk Options Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (Longbow)
Combat Gear Breastplate Armor, Buckler, Composite Longbow (Str +1), Punching Dagger, Masterwork Scimitar, 5 Armor Piercing Arrows, 20 Normal Arrows, 5 Sheaf Arrows

Abilities Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 10
SQ None
Feats Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (longbow)
Skills Climb +3, Craft (bowyer) +6, Handle Animal +5, Jump +2, Ride +10, Survival +2
Possessions combat gear plus Artisan's Tools (Bowyer), Backpack, Bedroll, Desert Robes, Flint & Steel, Lantern (Hooded), Oil ×3, Pouch (Belt), Rations (Trail, 7 days), Rope (Silk, 50 ft.), Sack (Empty) ×2, Waterskin, Whetstone, Potion of Cure Light Wounds ×2, Armor Piercing Arrows ×5, Normal Arrows ×20, Sheaf Arrows ×5, Money (25 gp, 8 sp, 8 cp)

24 September 2006

Back to the Grind

I've been taking too many days off from writing lately. I have a number of reasons, most of them involving my sinuses at the moment, but I still have work to do, and the deadline isn't just looming; it's damn well standing in front of me, making obscene gestures and sticking out its tongue mockingly.

Being unmotivated is a tough nut to crack. By all means, I shouldn't be unmotivated, but I have this funny feeling it has a lot to do with feeling overwhelmed by life in general. If I didn't have to maintain a 7am - 4pm day job, as if I could afford such an extravagant career change, I'd have nothing but time to write, create, be that typing, tapping, literary artist I've always dreamed of being.

Not going to happen, friends. No chance in hell, I don't think.

See, I've got plenty of ideas swimming around in my head. I had a great (albeit, short) session of brainstorming the other day. It's the implementation of the ideas, it's the getting down to business part, making them work, defining the rough edges that have yet to fit in with the rest of the puzzle.

No one said it would be easy, this freelance thing. And I can't say it's particularly difficult most times, especially when the words are flowing like blood from an artery, and the time seems to flash past in a blur. I can look back at words I wrote, I can recognize that they're good words, too, can see my writing style in them, but, sometimes, I have no memory of writing them. That's what it's like when it's easy.

I wonder sometimes if I'm cut out for it. Self doubt? Yeah, I suppose. I've already proven a dozen times over that I am cut out for it. Hell, what more do I need to do to prove it? There are plenty of people who believe in me. It's too bad I'm not one of them.

Enough jibber jabber. Time to make good on my promises. Knock on wood.

21 September 2006

Thursday: Lunchtime in my Cube

I ate soup for lunch today, which was mostly mediocre. The best part was the jalepeno bagel that was left over from this morning. The RA Manager brought them in (the bagels, I mean), and I'm going to have to shake him down and find out where they came from. They're damn tasty.

I might've met Hyrum, Stan, and JD at the food court across the way, but by the time they called to invite me, I was already mostly done with the soup, and well into my lunch hour. Curse you, wicked fate!

Eh, well.

A couple of things I just want to blog about for the time being. The first is the last of Ross Winn's columns over at RPG.net. Ross has been writing Close to the Edit for nearly two years now, and he just posted his last entry for the forseeable future. Whether you agree with Ross' views or not (he can be downright opinionated), it's a damn shame to see the column go tits up.

Also, I've learned of a couple of open calls for freelancers. The first, for Atlas Games, is an open call for freelancers for Ars Magica. The call is mostly aimed at culling some new talent from the loyal fanbase, but anyone is free to submit. Check out details here.

The other open call is with Morrigan Press, for their Talislanta line. Information was posted on RPG.net, and you can read it by following this link.

I own at least two editions of Ars Magica, as well as a handful of supplements (purchased because they were useful when I was running my Vampire: The Dark Ages games all those years back), but I'm far from an expert on the setting or the mechanics. If I were more familiar with the game (and less busy, to boot), I'd probably submit an entry.

Last note for the day (for the time being): the crew is dropping in tonight to roll up Cyberpunk 2020 characters. Woo hoo! Let's get this mechanical monster off the ground, eh?

I was thinking about it the other day, reflecting on the games we played "back in the day" (what a catchy phrase, that), and I realized that we never used miniatures in combats. The most we would do is sketch out a map on a piece of note paper and sort of wing it. I've been using minis for so long (in d20, etc.) that it's hard to imagine a game without them.

I do suppose I can use figs, though my resources are somewhat limited. I'm really unsure as to how I will go forward with the game. Like as not, I'll revert to the primitive methods that worked so well for me in days long past.

(Though I will probably use my battlemat for netrunning, heh.)

19 September 2006

It's Tomorrow

Even the crappy work coffee is denied to me this day. I am one of those people who cannot stand black coffee, and we are out of milk. My son, he just drank the last of it before drifting back to sleep, leaving me here to contemplate a trip to the grocery prior to heading to work. I need to buy gasoline, anyway, so I suppose I'll aim to leave a bit earlier than usual. I'm awake. I may as well.

I spent much of the weekend and Monday feeling good, but now I've got a somewhat stuffy nose and a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat. It's as if someone coated the area of throat behind my nasal passages with thick, industrial grade rubber cement. Not good. Perhaps this is only a momentary inconvenience. Perhaps not.

Last night's game went well. I had to prep dinner for my family (not to mention eat), so I was fifteen minutes late. It was a fifteen minutes that must have been vital, because I felt like I was constantly asking questions that JD was answering with, "Weren't you here when we talked about that?"

I'm still getting a grip on the character I'm playing, and I'm up to three pages on a backstory which I'll post once I'm finished with it. I'm not sure if JD is one of those DMs who awards XP for back-stories; I've played with folks who did, and with folks who didn't. In the end, it doesn't really matter to me, so long as I know where my character is coming from and where he intends to go. I'm not working to snag the proverbial carrot on the end of a stick.

It reminds me of a time when I was running Dark Sun, and I was prone to awarding XP to folks for back stories. They had to be at least a page, but writing ability wasn't the important part; it was effort. If someone sat down and hacked out a page of background for me, I was happy to award them a little something extra. In the long run, it really didn't make that much difference, especially at higher levels when the experience chart leveled out somewhat.

Still, one of the players handed in a backstory. I awarded him XP, and we played the game. Afterwards, I read what he'd given me, and it seemed somewhat...familiar. So I went looking, and discovered that he'd taken two stories from two different Dark Sun web sites, tied them together with a single sentence, and changed the name of the main character to match his own. When I confronted him about it, he admitted what he'd done. He wasn't a good writer, he said, and he figured I wouldn't mind what he referred to as creative plagiarism.

I tried to explain that it wasn't about quality or quantity, so much as it was about effort. All I expected was for players to try. I wasn't expecting Shakespeare. In effect, the stories made my life easier because they often provided hooks and information on PCs that I could implement into the current game, thereby tying them into the plot at a more personal level. In the end, I recinded his XP award for the story and told him I wouldn't accept any back-stories from him for a period of time. He didn't seem to care overmuch, except that he did tell me not to mention it to any of the other players.


Well, that's that. I've killed a few minutes I should've spent in the shower, especially since I'll be departing a little early.

Mmmmm. Phlegm.

18 September 2006

A New Beginning

Tonight, my friend JD is running the first session of what may be a long-term D&D campaign set in the city of Liberty. I decided to play a straight fighter, with a focus on bows and archery. The last time I did the archer thing, it was a lot of fun. Not that my character can't mix it up with the steel, but it's not his strongest point.

So that involves me in two D&D campaigns at present. Normally I'd balk, but the schedule is such that I'm not playing every week for umpteen hours at a stretch. Much easier on the family time that way. Not to mention the creative time.

My CP game is yet in the embryonic stages. I have a strong idea of where I want the game to go, but I need to sit down with the players and work out some PC mojo to hang all those minor plots on. Maybe this week, if my slacker players ever email me back to let me know what they want to do (yes, that means you guys).

15 September 2006


What a weekend I have in front of me. Aside from work (and this time around, I'm going to get some work done, dammit, even if it means wearing a hair shirt and resorting to self-flagellation), I've got plenty of other things to do. I also need to take the boy to the Wild Animal Park for a couple of hours tomorrow morning so that my wife can get the house clean enough to pass muster.

On top of that, I feel like I'm getting sick. Not surprising, considering that my wife has been sick since last weekend, and my co-worker has been sick for the past two weeks. Sinus aches, and a nose that alternates between cemented shut and running freely, are my symptoms. Yay.

So them's the haps. Exciting, hm?

In other news, I had some positive feedback on one of my recent initial turnovers. The praise came from a source I wasn't expecting it to come from, which made it all the more pleasant. Let's hope I can meet expectations based on this early encouragement.

13 September 2006

All, Then Nothing

Seems to me there was a rash of posts, and then nothing for nigh on a week. What've I been up to?

Slacking. Plain and simple. I've got plenty to do, but no energy. Maybe I need vitamins. My wife bought a bunch of pre-natal vitamins (on sale, and no, she's not pregnant...at least, I hope she isn't), and she told me I should take some. Call me superstitious, but there's something inherently wrong with a man taking vitamins that are designed with pregnant women in mind.

I'm so tired today. Even the crappy work coffee is doing nothing for my exaustion. The crummy thing is that I slept relatively well, and I woke up feeling pretty lively. What a different three hours makes.

I'm gearing up to run a Cyberpunk 2020 game. Going back to my roots, yes I am. We were supposed to get together this last weekend to talk shop, but two players were sick with the plague, and a third was back east visiting with friends. How long will it last? More importantly, will it last at all? And how will I deal with running such a deadly system, after doing little but d20 for so long? I'll probably kill them all off in the first session. TPK, man!

I should get back to work, after I track down some Tylenol. More later.

05 September 2006

In Retrospect...

I made a comment in my last post that has been bothering me a little bit. To wit:

"It would be interesting to see how these settings play out now that I'm older, wiser, and playing with a more mature group of friends."

The portion I'm emphasising is what I've been mulling over. Reading it as written makes me feel like I'm dissing on my old game buddies because they were immature. Well, they weren't, and it wasn't intended as such. So I apologize for that oversight on my part.

What I really meant was that we're all of us older now. As a result, I feel that I may yet be older and wiser, so I reckon that as I have aged and grown, the folks I used to play with have also aged and grown. "Mature," as in, "older," not "mature," as in "grown up." Though I daresay the distinction is probably pretty darn fine in some cases.

As I don't game with most of the folks I used to game with all those years ago, due to relocation, personal reasons, or loss of touch, it's hard to say what the differences might be in their current games, as opposed to the ones we played in our relative youth.

02 September 2006

Saturday Morning Warm-Up

So, all this recollection and reminiscing makes me pine for the old games. I want to go back and revisit the ones that I enjoyed the most. Not necessarily with the same characters or storylines, either. You see, I'm older now. When I was in my teens or early twenties, I might have (heck, would have) run my games differently that I do today. It would be interesting to see how these settings play out now that I'm older, wiser, and playing with a more mature group of friends.

I was chatting with my wife the other night, and I commented that I'd love to revive Cyberpunk 2020. I briefly outlined my idea for the play group which, I'll admit, is more or less par for the CP course: a group of mercs, but international ones. Characters who involve themselves in brushfire wars, either on the side of a corporation or government or minor dictator, whatever. A little more on the "high power" end of things, insofar as equipment is concerned.

So, going over these things in general terms, I ask her, "What sort of character would you like to play?"

She thinks for a split second, and then says the last thing I expected: "A full 'borg conversion."

The surprising thing is that I agreed to the idea.

This is amazing, in and of itself. As little as five years ago, I would've laughed, shook my head, and answered, "Nice try." I'm somewhat amused that I have no compunctions about allowing someone to play a cyborg conversion. Granted, she's my wife, so there's a certain trust in place, but I have been historically resistant to allowing anyone to go that far.

Granted, there would be strings attached. Certain concessions would have to be made. Power comes with a price. Not to mention a great deal of humanity loss. The other stipulation is that I'd probably only allow a single 'borg in the group, depending on the size. IMO, full 'borg conversions should be rare outside of corporate or military organizations. The tough part is to ensure that the cyborg doesn't overshadow the rest of the group. I'd need to play up social elements, especially concerning prejudice and fear related to "tin can psychotics" and the like.

So that's my current direction. I've got a few things to do before I get there. I doubt I'll begin to actively prepare or plan for another month or so. In the meantime, I could lose interest and spin off into another genre.

Like Vampire, which is the other game I'm itching to dust off and play. My ideas for a campaign are less defined for such a game, though, so I'll like as not sit on them until they gestate into something a little less embryonic.

So, now that I'm warmed up, I'm off to work. More later.