19 December 2006

A Quick Post

Saturday morning, I took care of Christmas cards, under the watchful eye of the boy. He divided his attention between the television and myself, until it was time to wake up mommy (one of his favorite activities, right up there with waking up daddy). All in all, it took me a long time to get the cards done, and even then, I didn't get them mailed until Sunday night (which really equates to mailing them on Monday, anyway).

About three years ago, we started writing a holiday letter (thanks to Lynn for the inspiration) to include in our cards. The letter only goes to people who might have some interest in our family life. Further, close friends, who already know the details, might also be spared the letter. After all, they see us all the time, so I don't think they need a recap of our boring lives.

The holiday letter, printed and folded into quarters, was done. But wait, there's more. I am one of those people who can't just put a blank card with a holiday letter into an envelope. No, I have to sign and inscribe a message into each individual card, tailored to whomever the recipient(s) happen to be. This, of course, takes even more time.

So, yeah, they're mailed. If you don't get one and you think that you should, send me your address (because I probably don't have it!).

Saturday evening was Amy's company Christmas party. We ate at a place called "When In Rome," which is in Encinitas. It's a somewhat upscale Italian restaurant, very good food. I had an Italian beer (can't recall the name) and a glass (or two) of Merlot. I'm not normally a wine person, and I immediately understood why when I'd taken a sip of the stuff. Dinner consisted of four choices (lamb shank, sea bass, stuffed chicken breast, or filet mignon), plus a salad course, a pasta course, and dessert.

It was a good night, even though we had to leave early to rescue my parents from my son (who is well into the swing of the terrible twos).

Sunday. I had plans for Sunday, but none of them came to fruition. Instead, I ran errands. Grocery shopping, primarily, since the cupboards were bare and we needed supplies for baking. We'll be making cookies this week, though I don't know how many we'll bake, or if we'll even ship any out. I'll also be making banana bread tonight or tomorrow night. It's a big hit with my co-workers, so I reckon I shouldn't disappoint.

It's well past time for me to ready myself for work. More later...

07 December 2006

Getting to Know Your Friends (Holiday Edition)

Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends
Welcome to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends! You know the drill. Highlight, copy, and paste and change my answers to your answers.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
(Mexican) Hot chocolate. With bourbon.

2. Does Santa wrap presents, or just sit them under the tree?
He wraps them. Or, rather, we wrap them. I can't imagine having unwrapped presents under the tree.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. It's poisonous to cats, AFAIK.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
As soon as we get the tree, usually mid-December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Getting a bunch of plastic machine guns and military gear from Santa, and then (make-believe) shooting my friends with them. We were all army brats, so violence came naturally to us.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember, but we never had a chimney anyway until we moved to California.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
At my grandparents’ house, yes. At home, no.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
White lights, ornaments.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it, but haven't had to live with it for a quarter of a century.

12. Can you ice skate?
Sort of. I'm much better at sprawling.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I got a big, black trenchcoat one year that I wore almost daily throughout high school.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
My son.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Pecan pie, though we make these peanut butter/chocolate cookies that are wicked good.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Decorating the tree.

17. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Both are nice.

18. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..."

19. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?

Happy Holidays!!

06 December 2006

Ord Vaxal Revisited

My first paid publication was Ord Vaxal: Prison Planet of the Empire, which appeared in the Polyhedron portion of Dungeon #106. I was doing a little vanity searching today, with "Ord Vaxal" as the search item, and I came up with a couple of cool links that I wanted to share.

The first is Jeff Carlisle's site. Jeff did some of the art for the article, including the map of Tof Soren (which must've been based on the hand-scribbled map I'd originally submitted with the article). He's got some of that art posted on his site (including the aforementioned map). Check it out.

The second site that came up belongs to a fellow who goes by the moniker Jedime, and he creates custom Star Wars action figures. One of those figures, viewable here, is one of Tof Soren's peacekeepers. I am quite amused.

05 December 2006

Latest Player Type Quiz

JD asked us to take this test, so I went ahead and did it. This isn't the same one I took back in July, and my ratings between the two show a little variation.

So here goes...

You scored as Storyteller. The Storyteller is in it for the plot: the sense of mystery and the fun of participating in a narrative that has the satisfying arc of a good book or movie. He enjoys interacting with well-defined NPCs, even preferring antagonists who have genuine motivations and personality to mere monsters. To the Storyteller, the greatest reward of the game is participating in a compelling story with interesting and unpredictable plot threads, in which his actions and those of his fellow characters determine the resolution.

With apologies to Robin Laws.



Character Player




Casual Gamer


Weekend Warrior


Power Gamer




What RPG Player (Not Character) Type Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com

04 December 2006

Cyberpunk Triggertime

We had the crew over on Saturday evening for Cyberpunk, but we didn't play. Two of the PCs had to be finished, and the other two needed to finalize equipment. We mostly BS'd and prepped for the next session, which (God willing) will be the 17th. Yeah, a Sunday, I know, but with the holidays approaching, gaming is going to take a back seat to Christmas carols, Yule logs, and eggnog.

I finally got to play out a game of War of the Ring, too. We overlooked a couple of rules here or there which might have contributed to Sauron's victory over the free peoples, but we'll know better next time. Overall impression: it's a good, good game. The event cards really add a lot to the game's mood, while at the same time being useful.

At first blush, it seems that the Free Peoples have the crap end of the stick. For the most part, their forces are scattered and underpowered, they have fewer action dice, and the Shadow has a lot of units. As I played (as Sauron), I began to realize that I had a few distinct problems. For one, aside from the four Nazgul I started with, I didn't have any leaders. Between the members of the Fellowship and numerous leader figures, the Free Peoples have a lot of leadership to spread around.

What leaders do is allow for re-rolls after combat. Say you roll your dice to attack, and you have two leaders in your army. This means you get to re-roll two (or more, in the case of some of the companions) of your failed combat dice. Aside from the Nazgul (each of which has a Leadership of 1), the Shadow only has three other figures with any sort of Leadership: Saruman (who can't leave Orthanc at all), the Witch King (who activates all Free People nations when he comes out), and the Mouth of Sauron (who only appears if all the Free People nations are At War).

This means that you have to use action dice to juggle the Nazgul around if you want one or more leader re-rolls, which takes time away from actually moving and attacking. Plus, a lot of the Shadow's combat cards require one or more Nazgul to be present in the combat before you can use them.

There are a bunch of event cards that the Free Peoples' player can get that are a real kick in the goonies, too. For instance, Robert pulled a card that had the Ents tearing down Orthanc. I didn't expect it, and since I only had a single unit there in reserve (along with Saruman), the day ended with Saruman dead. Quite a blow, indeed, especially when combined with my losing Dol Guldur due to an invasion of dwarves from the north.

The victory was purely military on my part. I pressed the advantage of numbers, which is pretty much all I had past a certain point. I massed a lot of forces around Minas Tirith, but that was more of a decoy meant to keep Robert busy reinforcing the city while I set my sites on Rivendell (the defeat of which ultimately won me the game).

Next time, I want to try my hand at the Free Peoples. I see some potential in one or two military strategies, but they're risky and will require a lot of luck.

Anyway, time to go back to work.

02 December 2006

Weekend Report

The long week has passed me by, and it's finally Saturday morning.

My big box came from Fantasy Flight on Thursday, but I didn't pick it up until yesterday. One of the games I ordered was missing, but I contacted FFG and they're sending me a replacement.

I don't know when we'll get around to trying these games out, but they all seem to be pretty nifty. Going over what I picked up...

The three Horizon books that I was missing. For those of you who don't know, Horizon was a line of mini-RPGs released by FFG using the d20 mechanics. They're all of them pretty neat, and easily mined for cool ideas if you don't intend to use them as games unto themselves. I already had Grimm and Redline. The three I was missing include MechaMorphosis, Spellslinger, and Virtual.

MechaMorphosis is a thinly-veiled adaptation of the Transformers. It's pretty cool. It's a bit mechanics-heavy, but seems playable nonetheless.

Spellslinger is fantasy meets Old West. It's not historical (or even quasi-historical, like Deadlands), and is more akin to a fantasy setting that is derivative of Western cliches. Overall, I like it, though there are only three character classes available.

The last one, Virtual, is a lot line Tron, where the PCs portray programs. My first impression of the game is favorable, but I have yet to delve too deeply into the rules and setting.

The rest of the games I bought were board games. I've wanted to pick up the Lord of the Rings Trivia Game for a long time, but I was somewhat hesitant to spend the full retail price on a game I doubt I'd ever get to play. You see, I'm not exactly a LotR expert, but I'm probably a little more knowledgable than the average Joe. Still, for $10, I couldn't say no.

The rest of the games I bought were in FFG's "Silver Line." They're small format board games, which is nice -- they don't take up the same kind of space as a full-sized game.

The first of these is Arena Maximus, which is a game about chariot racing. The track is laid out randomly using tiles, with segments being revealed as the players race their chariots. This is probably the one I'd like to try out first.

The second was Kingdoms. I'm not sure if this is going to be a good game or not, but given that it was written by Reiner Knizia, I figure it's got to be decent.

Number three is Magdar. The premise is similar to the tale of Moria from Lord of the Rings. The players are miners (dwarves, I think) who are digging for Mithril. If they dig too deeply, they end up disturbing Magdar, a demon. I reckon all bets are off once this occurs.

Scarab Lords is the fourth title, and it's also the one that wasn't in the box. Can't say too much about it, in that case, other than it sounded neat (which is why I bought it).

The fifth is Senator, which I picked up mostly for my wife. She likes all things Imperial Rome, and this one sounded right up her alley. Each player is a Roman senator who wants to become emperor. After Arena Maximus, this is probably the next on my list of games to try out.

Last of all, we've got Wreckage. The game pits players, who are driving Road Warrior-esque cars to destroy one another in an attempt to get all the gasoline. It seems to me that it's a bit closer to Car Wars, since you actually move your car around, and use an included ruler to measure range, etc. I'm interested in trying it out, but I don't know if anyone else I game with will be interested or not.

So that's my haul from the FFG sale. It's still going on, too.

Okay, what else for the weekend..? Cyberpunk tonight, for one. Which reminds me, I need to get some work done on that before the players show up tonight. Between the errands I need to run, I have a feeling it's going to be a busy day.