Archive for June, 2006

#696

11:23 pm, Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Looks like the Tuesday GURPS game with Martin in Seattle has been greenlit. He found five other players (!). Our first game is scheduled for July 11th, though it might just be character creation since some of the folks are new to the system. I’m excited about the campaign. It’s standard Infinite Worlds, but with a cinematic bent (which means we can take things like Wildcard skills, Gizmos, etc.). We’re playing a relatively low-powered ISWAT team of mundane humans (though we can be from other worlds). Character creation parameters thus far include 200 points and a template the GM has yet to distribute (but will apparently include some level of Luck, Extremely Hazardous Duty, and Legal Enforcement Powers).

Monday D&D game summary: Pat returned this week! He proved instrumental in getting the party across an underground lake inhabited by some really horrible creature(s) with his Spider Climb spell. The people I mentioned previously (David, et al.) turned out to be flakes — never showed up. It’s just as well; things can get hectic with just the five core players we have right now.

So basically we searched the orc’s cave and found a secret passage, a mysterious (probably magical) goo, some more loot, and four slaves (one of which turned out to be the influential Count Montlebar of Seylinvirsin). The party split into two groups — Cloven (Anthony), Shay (Jay), Krieg, and I stayed behind to guard the secret passage and kill any orc patrols that had yet to return and the rest of our adventurers traveled to Seylinvirsin to get healed (the knight had to get his arm regrown), return the slaves, and resupply.

When they returned, we explored the secret passage (the entrance to which was hidden under a disturbingly large pile of bones). Off one branch of the passage we found lava tubes where some of the rock was nearly molten (had a plastic-like consistency). Down another, the aforementioned underground lake. There was another branch, but we never got around to exploring it. At the lake, we found a dock, a sunken boat, and one or two sea monsters — something with the head and neck of a plesiosaur and something else with big tentacles (though they might’ve just been different parts of the first creature). After a lot of planning, we managed to set up a crude rope zip-line across the obstacle.

On the other side we found a tunnel that terminated in a cliff-face opening behind a waterfall about sixty feet up. We all climbed down (well, the knight fell) and made camp on the bank of a little pond that emptied into a larger lake. The area beyond the tunnel turned out to be a valley with four major features: An abandoned village (little more than ruins now), the lake, a huge castle, and an all-encompassing fog ceiling. Some orangey/red light source above the fog keeps the valley lit 24 hours a day. I’m not sure if it’s an extradimensional space, a hidden region in the mountains, or completely underground. During our first night, we were visited by two very large, quasi-sapient, silver-collared wolves. They turned out to be fairly friendly (well, they didn’t attack us, anyway) until we started walking towards the castle the next day. After they turned hostile we killed them and took their collars.

The castle seems to be infested with yuan-ti (snake people). We killed a few of them in the courtyard, then we killed a few more in the chapel after interrupting some kind of nasty ritual where they were torturing an elf to death. When we went to leave that room, we found four archers in the courtyard. It was at this point that Brandon (another player from Anthony’s other D&D game) joined the game as a daredevil monk (he’d been kept in a cage as a future sacrifice, but escaped while we were shooting yuan-ti). Oh, and some elf (?) woman with a blade in her hair showed up briefly to help us with the yuan-ti, but disappeared before we could meet her. Then we stormed one of the towers, killed a bunch of cooks, and fought four warriors. Sometime around there Pat had to leave. After killing the soldiers, we found a chest with beaucoup swag, including a Deck of Many Things.

Keith immediately drew two cards — the first vanished all his material possessions (including one-eighth of our loot), the second gave him a Luck Blade. Then Anthony drew two cards — he lost 10,000 experience points and gained an extremely loyal 4th level fighter. Brandon drew two; he lost three points of INT and changed alignment. I can’t remember if Ian drew any or not. I firmly stated I wouldn’t draw any cards since I’ve spent so much time on my character. But then I found out that the deck would disappear when all the announced draws had been made… and it’s a minor artifact, fer Pete’s sake… so I decided to draw one. It was very exciting; I was sure I’d get something terrible, like Death or The Void. But I actually drew The Throne — +6 to Diplomacy and my own castle!

So that’s where the game ended. I’m going to a wedding in Spokane on Saturday (leaving tomorrow), then on Tuesday I’m driving my sister from Bellevue to the Tri-Cities. I have a doctor’s appointment in Richland on July 5th — turns out my Bell’s palsy might actually be a symptom of Lyme disease.

Here are some pictures of a citadel I’ve been working on in SketchUp. I’ll post some better renderings and the SKP when I’m done. I just found out about this 3D Challenge thing Google’s doing for the program… I want to compete in it sometime, but this week’s contest (design a home theater audio system) sounds pretty dull.

Citadel/castle in SketchUp
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#695

5:39 pm, Sunday, June 25th, 2006

So I picked up Heroes of Might and Magic V at EB Games yesterday. Really fun. I’m on the third mission right now. I like the combat system; reminds me of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The city views look so awesome — ridiculously huge castles, floating islands, giant Vallenwood-ish trees.

It’s really hot today… like 90° F. Supposed to be even hotter tomorrow. At least it’s cool in the apartment. I was worried that we’d have to get an air conditioner this summer, but I guess we won’t need one.

Venture Brothers season 2 premieres tonight at 10:30! I’m psyched.

No idea what this is, but it looks kinda cool.

Apocalypse Mermaid
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#694

9:46 pm, Friday, June 23rd, 2006

My mom came up from Pasco to stay here Sunday night so she could catch a very early flight out of SeaTac Monday morning (she’s going to some dog show in Michigan, I think). She brought a ton of frozen hamburger and took Brett and I to dinner at Akasaka, so that was cool. I couldn’t believe how much traffic there was on I-5 at 6:00 AM…

So, Monday’s D&D game: The wizard we were fighting last week got away on foot (damn teleportation spells), but we caught her horse. Had to put it down due to a compound fracture on one of the legs. Pulled all our tack off it, plus two heavy lockboxes (one turned out to be a Chest of Holding, the other might be a portal to the elemental plane of fire). Then we drew straws and had the thief pull a switch at the entrance of the dungeon which turned out to be a kind of “emergency lockdown” trigger (which was exactly what we needed). We took the warforged and the lockboxes to Armis (the gnome with the keep near Taffis, who we met during our first adventure). He still had our old NPC cleric working for him and had made some improvements to his fortress.

Atfer a day or two resting there, we traveled to Seylinvirsin, the port city, and sold a lot of loot. Then we set off to find some unidentified point on the giant map we took from the first dungeon/stronghold; I think it was only about three days from the port city. But along the way we ran into a giant (turned out to be friendly) and were attacked by some orcs and an ogre on our first night in the mountains. We captured one of the orcs and grilled him for information; turned out he was part of a large tribe (~40 orcs ruled by a slaad chieftain) who was using human and elf slaves to mine for gems. We eventually decided to launch an assault on their cave to rescue the slaves. Managed to get the giant to help us and Anthony entered the game with a level 3 rogue. The battle was long and I nearly died (fell unconscious with -3 hitpoints and three orcs standing over me). Shay (Jay) healed me just in time for my ranger to help take out a few stragglers and get a couple shots in on the slaad.

Got some awesome loot from the mission… lots of gemstones. Also made 4th level. None of the people I mentioned in my last post joined this week’s game, but they finished their characters and another friend of theirs, David, rolled up a sorcerer for next time (and wrote a detailed background). I’m not sure if they’ll all become regulars; Chris implied that he’d be screening players more carefully now. Plus they seem to have slightly limiting schedules. To be honest, I’m half hoping we don’t have full attendance next week — if we do, the group will be huge. Me, Ian, Jay, Keith, Pat, David, Anthony, and the three new guys… that’s nine players!

Been exchanging email with a guy I met on the SJG forums named Martin. He just moved to Seattle and wants to run an Infinite Worlds game. I’m definitely in favor of the idea, but we need two or three more players. I had been corresponding with another guy in Tukwila about a zombie RPG, but it turned out he’s using it as a way to playtest a new system (something I’d rather not suffer through). Really, I don’t know why anybody would feel the need to invent a new role-playing system when there are so many out there already. FUDGE, d20, GURPS, HERO, and BESM all work well and they’re just the major universal systems.

Been reading a collection of Phillip K. Dick short stories… so far, the only ones I’ve liked are The Golden Man and The Hanging Man.

This 1980s Apple II ditty is pretty awesome.

Here’s the dinner I made last night — mashed potatoes and meatloaf. Really scrundelescent. Having the leftovers for dinner tonight.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes

#693

1:45 am, Friday, June 16th, 2006

I forgot to mention that we’re getting three new players for our D&D game. A couple people saw us gaming on Monday and asked our DM if they could join the campaign. They returned much later that evening with a third guy and rolled up characters. They should enter play next week; I believe their classes will be bard, cleric, and warmage.

Brett got a job at the airport. I’m going to SeaTac with him tomorrow morning so he can get fingerprinted (he already did the drug test on Wednesday).

I saw Cars at the Starplex this evening. Typical Pixar fare; it was fantastic. The tow truck, Mater, got a little too much screen time, but that’s a minor complaint. All the voice-acting was top notch, especially Paul Newman as the Hudson Hornet. I was a little curious about a feature on the old police car in the movie: It had these straight wires sticking out from under it near the wheels. Turns out they’re “curb feelers.” First time I’d seen them — only realized what they were because of a neon sign shown later in the film. After thinking about it for a bit, they seem like a really good idea. I could sure use some when I have to park on the street. I guess they just don’t put them on cars these days since they look like they’d be prone to breaking off. Or people think they detract from the aesthetics.

Anyway, it was a really enjoyable movie. The short shown at the beginning, One Man Band, was really good too. Maybe not quite as good as Boundin’, but funnier. And definitely better than For the Birds. I’m sure I’ll pick up the Cars DVD when it’s released.

I upgraded to WordPress 2.0.3, but when I realized I’d have to redo my plugins, php edits, and CSS I decided it was too much work and just restored my backup. Figured I’d wait on upgrading till 2.1.0 gets released. I did take a look at some archive plugins though — I’m now using Justin Blanton’s Smart Archives. Check out my new archives page here. Snazzy, no? I love it since it frees up a lot of space in the sidebar. I had to edit his php to get it to display the way I wanted, but now I’m quite satisfied with the look and functionality. To use it, I had to install Exec-PHP, which is really handy.

Kay, gotta get to bed.

#692

12:30 am, Thursday, June 15th, 2006

Monday’s D&D game was awesome. We met at Game-A-Lot, here in Federal Way. The owner, Anthony, is really cool about letting us play there. He doesn’t even charge us, plus he has refrigerated drinks and candy bars for sale. And his place is right next to Ivar’s and Taco Time (he doesn’t mind if you eat away from the computers). Oh, and he’s open till midnight. The whole time we were there at least a half-dozen guys were playing World of Warcraft together on one side of the room… almost made me want to pick up that MMO again.

But anyway, the game: This week it was me, Ian, and Keith (and Jay a lot later, around 10 or so). We cleared out the whole dungeon with the exception of an old vampire who laughed at us and turned to mist. (Before I realized what he was, I had tried to avoid a skirmish by telling him, “Let’s just go our separate ways; I don’t want to have to hurt you.” Now I’m sure that’s going to come back to bite me in the ass…) The complex was mostly filled with undead in the form of zombies and mummies. Our thief was nearly killed by a mimic disguised as a treasure chest.

The major reveal of the session was that the dungeon was actually a secret base of operations for a war that ended nearly half a century ago. Besides some super-keen magic items (a +1 bastard sword of shock, an everfull goblet of water, and a ring of swimming), we found a room used to produce warforged (which in our DM’s setting, based loosely on Eberron, have been “extinct” ever since the great war). We also found a portal to what seems to be another dimension which may or may not be the home of Bahamut, the dragon god. After returning to town to sell loot and grab some healing potions, we returned to the dungeon to check on our warforged. One had left on its own, but the other three were still there, one of whom might be willing to adventure with us permanently. The session ended with Iffa (Ian) and I battling a fairly powerful female magic user who’d been shadowing us (and stole our tack and killed Dawn).

Best munchkiny parts of the game for me: I made level three (got the Precise Shot feat) and traded my composite longbow for a masterwork one which I had enchanted with +1. Hoody hoo!

Beefy was interviewed by Hipster, please! for an article that went live on Monday. Très nifty.

Saw this hilarious (IMHO) exchange on Overheard in New York yesterday:

Woman: Who do you think would win a fight between Ann Coulter and Maureen Dowd?
Man: A fight?
Woman: Yeah, you know, a death match.
Man: I’m gonna go with Ann Coulter.
Woman: You think? They both wear long, spikey heels. They could put each other’s eyes out pretty fast.
Man: But Ann Coulter would be like, “Rock on, I’m in a death cage!” And Maureen Dowd would be like, “Wait, what am I doing in a death cage?”

I dislike some of Ann Coulter opinions and tactics, but I do admire her tenacity. I’m tremendously amused by the idea of her exclaiming “Rock on!” at the opportunity to dismember a liberal columnist.

This French CG animation (link shamelessly stolen from Krunk) is really awesome. Funny, beautiful, fast-paced — definitely worth a couple minutes of anyone’s time.

Brett and I had dinner at Akasaka tonight. OMFG, their sushi is glorious. It’d been quite a while since I’d had any too; last time was at Wild Fish before I moved back in April. Great stuff. We also had one of their Rainier rolls, which is basically shrimp tempura rolled in rice and topped with raw tuna and salmon, urchin paste, and some sort of sweet wasabi sauce. There’s some other stuff in it too, but I couldn’t identify it. Delicious, though.

I’ve been watching Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. (It’s the only reality TV I watch besides Top Chef.) So far this season has been pretty good; better than the first, anyway. It’s embarrassingly engrossing — I’ve been trying to google the details behind her divorce from Matt, but no luck. Damn Beefy for getting me hooked on this show.

Kay, this post is getting pretty long, so I’ll wrap it up with three really quick notes. A: Played a little City of Villains for the first time (on the 14-day free trial) — interesting, lots of wonderfully diverse characters, but not as fun as WoW when all’s said and done. B: Check out this YouTube video if you like Monkey Island, catchy piano music, or any combination thereof. C: I tried Coca-Cola Blāk and liked it.

Coca-Cola Blak 4-pack

#691

1:48 am, Monday, June 12th, 2006

Hm, really neglected updating for a while again… But don’t worry, you haven’t missed much. The GURPS Play-by-Post is progressing well. Everyone’s turned in a character; now I’m just waiting for a few people to make revisions so we can begin play.

No D&D game last week — most of the group couldn’t make it, the DM was tired, and I didn’t want to face that dungeon with only a knight, my ranger, and a cleric. But this week’s game will go on as scheduled at Game-A-Lot here in Federal Way. Keith’s sure to be there, which is good since his duskblade is a major asset.

I finally saw Jesus is Magic (got the DVD at Best Buy for like $12). The way Sarah Silverman acted, her “stand-up persona” I guess you could say, got a little wearing sometimes and I’ve always thought the Amazing Grace routine was stupid, but those were the only things I didn’t like. Everything else was great. Very funny. I’m tempted to buy the soundtrack simply for her “I Love You More” song.

I discovered an interesting trick for sorting sidebar link categories in WordPress: Just add spaces to the beginning of a category name to make it appear at the top (three spaces precedes two spaces, and so on). And the spaces don’t actually appear when the page displays. A neat little hack, but it’s kind of dumb that they didn’t include a feature to more easily change the category order. Anyway, you might notice that I added a GURPS section over on the right with my updated 4th edition house rules.

A while ago I saw an ad for these mashed-potato bowls at Kentucky Fried Chicken. At first, I thought the idea was disgusting… It seemed equivalent to putting an otherwise nice meal in the blender. But then it started to grow on me. When Brett and I went there for lunch the other day I got one and it was phenomenal. I’ve had a few of them since then and never been disappointed. The only thing that makes them even better, IMHO, is adding a small bowl of KFC’s macaroni and cheese on top. If you haven’t tried one of these bowls, find the nearest Colonel’s franchise and get one. They’re cheap too — only about $4.

I’ve been watching Aeon Flux since MTV2′s been airing the episodes at night after Invader Zim. A lot of it seems kind of weird-for-weird’s-sake, but some of the episodes are really good. It makes me want to check out The Maxx TV series. BTW, did you know the creator of Aeon Flux, Peter Chung, also worked on Rugrats? How bizarre is that?

Here’s a meal Brett and I made a week ago… I made the rice, chopped the vegetables, and marinated the meat, he cooked the actual stir fry. It was really good. I like this basmati rice we got at Costco; it was only $5 and change for 25 lbs.

Stirfry
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