Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shadowrun Rat's Nest: Kiddie Party

We were supposed to continue with our usual Rat's Nest campaign this Monday, however two players cancelled on short notice. But we were going to introduce a new player anyway a few sessions from now who was going to take over Maggie and so we called that player, she was up for a session and the game was on.

I couldn't play Neil as usual and picked one of the NPCs, a young ganger named Rusty. Maggie's fourteen, Rusty's seventeen and the third character, Ray, is somewhere between the two as far as I know. I had just been reading this post by Shortymonster about playing children and thought huh, I've never done that. Synchronicity is a strange and wonderful thing.

None of our characters consider themselves teenagers or children and they all had to grow up quickly to survive, but still. The fact that Rusty is certainly not as adult as he wants to be will come into play, I'll make sure of that. He desperately wants to proof himself as something more than muscles to rely on in a fight. We'll be doing a run that definitely requires more than just waving a crossbow or gun around and he knows that it will be more than useful for his standing in the gang if that works out well.

Oh, and I decided that he has a huge crush on Liana, a girl who lives at the Rat's Nest. Now if he only could get her alone to talk to her without her giggling girlfriends... I can't believe I'm actually roleplaying that, I mean, it was awkward enough in real life. Rusty would probably rather duke it out with another ganger than walk up to Liana while she's surrounded by the other girls.

I love the Rat's Nest setting for its flexibility. It's a sandbox setting if I ever saw one. I can just pick an NPC and with some tweaking, I'm ready to play and I already have a good idea of who the guy is because the NPCs constantly evolve and react to what the players have done so far.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finding my Religion

I needed to create a religion for my Endland campaign and boy, that's not easy. It couldn't be too radical because the priest lives in a town where intolerance is very much frowned upon. It gets in the way of commerce. So the cults suggested in the rulebook were out.

After some hanging around at Wikipedia, I came across this very cool religion chart where you can find a short summary of origin, pratices and believes of a great many religions. That came in handy, but what really gave me good ideas was the random religion generator at Chaotic Shiny. I used the checklist I found there to come up with something on my own, but if you need a religion in a hurry, this is brilliant.

There are other random generators there, from names, animals, weather, conspiracies to whole medieval cities. The setting mashup generator is hilarious. Renaissance China and zombies or Modern Belgium and monkies. Yeah, I can totally see that.

Classics Challenge: Of Human Bondage

I tried reading Of Human Bondage by W.S. Maugham once before and I hated it. I'm making slow progress this time around and I probably won't get it done by the end of the month, but I like it better now.

It's about a young man in search of himself, who tries a number of lifestyles and professions, who more tries to fall in love than actual does it and when he does, it's unhappily - so far at least. I still have about 200 pages.

The Classics Challenge this month asks for quotes and I have two that stood out for me. One is about art and painting:
I learned to look at hands, which I'd never looked at before. And instead of just looking at houses and trees I learned to ook at houses and trees against the sky. And I learned also that shadows are not black but coloured.

I only recently started sketching and drawing and if it taught me one thing, it's how to really see things. Not just look at them and see what I think should be there, but really pay attention.

The other one is this:
I have an idea that I'm more interested in people than in anything else in the world.

This is Maugham in a nutshell and it's the reason why he is such a great writer. He's deeply interested in what people say and do and why and that curiosity shines through in every word he writes. Of Human Bondage is fiction, but even after only reading the WIkipedia article on Maugham the autobiographical elements will be obvious for anyoned who reads it.

I also noticed that the painter Strickland from The Moon and Sixpence gets mentioned twice. Not by name, but it's clearly him or will be, since Moon and Sixpence would be written years later.

7th book for the Classics Challenge

Reviews 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

There will be consequences...

Drance at Once More Unto the Breach has a post about player actions and consequences that I highly recommend to anyone running a sandbox game or planning to run one.
He asks a couple of questions in that post and I decided to take them up here:

What do you think of player agency/sandbox play and consequences?
I think consequences to player action is one of the most important things of running any game, but even more so in a sandbox environment. Keeping track of those consequences may be a bit of work for the GM, but it's a story generator. As a player, I've always liked the continuity of such games, there's for example nothing better than an enemy I made that I keep meeting. Or I return to a certain town and find that I'm still much talked about after last time, with all that entails - free drinks or feathers and tar.
Without consequences, the players are walking through a dead world that only comes alive when they are there and freezes again when they turn their back. There probably are people who enjoy that kind of thing, but I'm not one of them.


Do you have any examples of such cause and effect in your own gaming experiences?
One of my current Shadowrun rounds is probably the best example yet. I write about it at Rat's Doc, a in-character diary. Here, you can find it unter Shadowrun: Rat's Nest. The characters all live in a squatter settlement, the Rat's Nest, and it's very much a sandbox environment, with lots and lots of NPCs who all have their own story and how we deal with them influences our own story.

One thing that hugely influenced the campaign was our decision to start a war with a neighbouring gang, the Picas. They were just an annoyance and so far we needn't have done anything about them. But we did and we just managed to get out of their turf alive. We took one of their members who became an important NPC. After our gang had to leave the Rat's Nest, the Picas took over our turf - a direct consequence of our decision to start the war. That single choice moved the story along for a long time, with lots of changes and dire consequences for us. It was awesome (and terrifying at time) - as a player, you start thinking about what you do really quickly. Apart from anything else, the GM is absolutely not afraid of letting NPCs or PCs die as a result of what we do. It doesn't make for a lighthearted campaign, but it's not meant to be.


Have you ever roleplayed where you found yourself in a consequence-free environment?
I've had a Vampire round where nothing we did ever had any real consequences, not positive and not negative. The NPCs were very, very powerful and the GM didn't like to upset his carefully planned world. So we pretty much only could do what he allowed us to and we ran into a wall otherwise. It was frustrating to say the least.

I've never played in a game where characters could go on a rampage in a village or something without worrying about the reaction of the law and what it would do to their reputation and I don't think I want to.

via Really Bad Eggs

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shadowrun Rat's Nest: Mutations

After a long break, we're playing the Rat's Nest chronicle again. Our characters are still caught in the UV host and are searching for a way out.
We're slowly starting to figure out what's going on. I hope. It's a lot of fun to see how reality is represented in the simulation, what's real and what's just a symbol and how we can use it all to our advantage.

Neil is feeling the effect of all the things that have been happening to him. This is not something written down on his character sheet, but I still feel it's neccessary. There's no way he can live through all that stuff and not be changed by it in some way. I'll see how it turns out. My roleplaying was definitely not the best last session, probably because I was tired and not feeling too hot. Neil was quite busy, but I think I gave away a couple of great roleplaying moments for simply saying what I was doing. Oh well. Will do better next time.

In any case, you can read about out last two sessions here and and here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Endland

A note to my players: you're welcome to read this and other Endland posts I write. I will hide any stuff you are not supposed to know in a spoiler section.

I'm a player, not a GM. I have GMed twice in my life, once for two players, once a one on one. Both times were not bad, but I never caught the GMing bug.

I rashly offered to GM an Endland adventure in October and gosh, it's only seven weeks until then, so it's time for some nice last minute panic. But after a couple of weeks of absolutely no inspiration, the panic is turning into excitement as the adventure comes together.

Endland (free PDF, no translation unfortunately) is a German postapocalyptic game. Humans have all died out in a cataclysmic event and their descendants have inherited the wasteland the earth has turned into. There are five races, one fairly humanlike, called Humanes, the others more strange: the dwarf-like Mada, the winged Ikarim, the reptilian Aquides in the West and the heavily mutated, scarred Cerbores in the East. The land is enclosed by fire in the East and water in the West. Across the middle of the continent runs a line of Monoliths where people are safe from the radiation that has poisoned the land, but elsewhere mutation and disease is not a risk, but a certainty.

Remnants of human life and technology are everywhere and scavenging for such artefacts can make you rich. It can also make you dead. But hey, it's not like your are going to live long anyway, so why not spend your few years in style?

I chose to place the town where all characters live not near one of the Monoliths, but near the Eastern Desert. The climate is still fairly moderate and the town is able to support a few hundred inhabitants by farming the surrounding lands. It's also a tradepost, a place where adventurers meet, caravans stop to rest and people come to sell and buy.

The Eastern Desert is the place where many old ruins can be found, including whole cities, or so the legends say. The Cerbores who live in the desert certainly use a lot of technology that has to come from somewhere.

So now I have a town, I have a fairly good idea who's important there and what daily life looks like. I know what you get to see when you travel a few days from that town. I have a long list of names to give to NPCs - seriously, I think names are almost more important than anything else for on the spot NPC creation. I have three characters my players created: a Mada who is a mage (or elementarist, as they are called in Endland), an Ikarim who can tell the future and a Cerbora who works in the local garage/repair shop/smithy. And I have a good idea for the first adventure already fleshed out. It will need some more work, but on the whole I think October can come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speak Out With Your Geek Out 2012

Just a quick reminder: the 2012 edition of Speak Out With Your Geek Out will start on September 10th. Five days of writing about and sharing the things you love and geek out about.

Last years was fun, I met a lot of new people, I learned a ton of things and I wrote about roleplaying and insects, among other things. Other people wrote about anything from gaming, history, juggling, knitting to mathematics.

Take a positive stance against baiting nerd rage, geek elitism, negative stereotypes of geeks, and yellow journalism.

Post about how much you love your geeky hobbies or vocation from Monday, September 10th, 2012 to Friday, September 14th on your blog, website, social media account or in a forum somewhere. Then come here and tell us about it. We'll have a kick-off post where you can stand and be counted.

Let's show the world who we really are -- passionate people who love a hobby so much we are willing to share it in a positive way with other people. This week, we will show our best side to remind others of that, too, and will actively avoid negativity and cheer each other on, instead.


geekoutbasiclogo

Classics Challenge: Invisible Man

He held a white cloth—it was a serviette he had brought with him—over the lower part of his face, so that his mouth and jaws were completely hidden, and that was the reason of his muffled voice. But it was not that which startled Mrs. Hall. It was the fact that all his forehead above his blue glasses was covered by a white bandage, and that another covered his ears, leaving not a scrap of his face exposed excepting only his pink, peaked nose. It was bright, pink, and shiny just as it had been at first. He wore a dark-brown velvet jacket with a high, black, linen-lined collar turned up about his neck. The thick black hair, escaping as it could below and between the cross bandages, projected in curious tails and horns, giving him the strangest appearance conceivable. This muffled and bandaged head was so unlike what she had anticipated, that for a moment she was rigid.

This is the first good glance we get or rather don't get at the Invisible Man. It's my favourite book by H.G. Wells because for all it's elements of science fiction, it is rather a study on human behaviour.

The Invisible Man himself is not a hero at all, he's ruthless, egoistic and often downright cruel. I find it hard to have any sympathy for him, but nonetheless his story is fascinating. Who hasn't wondered about invisibility and all the opportunities? After reading this book, you may be a lot less enthusiastic about the whole idea.

The village of Iping is more or less held hostage by the Invisible Man and this is what really intereste me: how do the people react to him? Some are all too willing to give in to his demands - after all, who knows what he is capable of? Others resist and even help Doctor Kemp when the Invisible Man demands his death.

I think that H.G. Wells' training as a biologists shows here and also his interest in society. His science fiction stories are what earned him his fame, but he had a much broader scope. I highly recommend his hsort stories. And then there is of course Little Wars, pretty much the beginning of war gaming.

Much of his writing is available on Gutenberg.org for free.

Book six for the Classics Challenge

Reviews 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Real Feminists...

Amanda Palmer's definition of a feminist. Fuck yeah.

On a related, but sadder note, three members of Pussy Riot got sentenced to two years in prison. They played an unauthorized concert in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, where they voiced criticism of the church and the Russian government and their alliance, hereby crudely undermining social order, as the judge put it. I do wonder what would have happened to them if there had not been that much international attention and support for them.

More RPG music

I wrote about music for RPGs before and the post seems fairly popular, so here's another one.

My starting point is this article at Gnomestew reviewing a long list of different soundtracks for RPGs. This one about creating playlists is definitely worth reading as well.

Obsidian Portal has a great site with playlists and a list of links to web radio stations and free music for RPGs.

Among those is Two Steps from Hell Radio.
Two Steps from Hell have produced the music for a lot of trailers and it's awesome for action sequences in particular.

Sounds to sleep to offers a couple of ambient noises like campfire of chirping crickets.

Radio Rivendell plays, surprise, music for fantasy RPGs.

Dayjo.org offers a couple of free music pieces that are very cool for scenes where you need just some ambient music, nothing too dramatic or suspenseful.

And finally, my personal favourite:
Incompetech offers a massive collection of music free to listen to and download. You can search for music to create a certain mood or you can just take a look at the different collections of film scores (scroll right down to the bottom). There's also a lot of other music there, from folk to electronica.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to browse Incompetech. I need to get my stuff together for the start of my Endland campaign in four weeks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mighty Proud



I must have listened to that song rougly a hundred times over the last few days. Sadly, Chief no longer exist (Wikipedia disagrees, but doesn't cite sources). That sucks, but you should check out their stuff anyway.

Via Mahogany Blog where a lot of very cool music can be found.

Monday, August 13, 2012

7th Sea: Rumours

last time
cast of characters

Dear Isabel,

you are probably not going to like what I have to write and I apologise. I told you last time that we were going to invent a reason for the judge to either blackmail me or to become interested in my person. Given the judge's own pleasures, we created a story about me being a murderer who hides his victims by burning down their houses. So all we need are recent fires in neighbouring towns and villages to make this convincing and it's not like this is uncommon.

Since I would prefer to keep the name I'm currently living under, I created a new identiy for myself. It's easier and more believable to use a real person, so I chose Don Gabriel. I think we agree that any trouble this may get him into, he has earned hundredfold. A pity that he won't be travelling to Montaigne any time soon.

While de Chevalier went to find out a bit more about the judge, I created the necessary papers to proof my identity. Ramon was quite interested and I enjoyed teaching him. It may not be a very honourable skill, but a useful one.

The next morning, Ramon and Logan went to work on spreading the rumours. They did so in a good restaurant and I'm told that the servants at least were quite fascinated by what they overheard. I took a walk around town and by chance came across a Crescent book on anatomy and medicine. I should have taken the chance to study medicine when I travelled the Crescent Empire, but at that time, I had other things to do. The book will be useful, I'm sure, but I rather hope I can find a Crescent-trained physician who is willing to teach me, before we get to Charouse preferrably.

It seems that the judge is not the only one with a questionable taste in entertainment. He spends a lot of his time at a very exclusive club, the Black Lily, and we found out that this establishment is also frequented by the richest cattle dealer in town, a Ussuran by the name of Vladimir Ivanovitsh Trotzki, the Madame of the best local brothel and a relative of the Prince, Charles René Flaubert du Doré. That man is widely known for his temper and his love for duells, which he always wins. Ramon has already declared his intention of fighting him. Sometimes I really do wish that Ramon was a bit less reckless. But as you always tell me, I used to be not much different and maybe I still haven't changed all that much, considering what I am doing here.

We have an invitation to a party tomorrow where I am going to do my best to make people worry a bit about Don Gabriel. He should be charming enough that people don't mistrust him at first glance, but just unsettling enough that they might not be entirely comfortable when he shows attention to their daughters. And by attention I mean nothing but talking to them, whatever the others may think I'm planning to do. You know that I would never do anything to compromise your honour or the trust you have in me.

I wil let you know as soon as I can how things turned out, I hope that I can report the demise of Don Gabriel in my next letter. He is not a nice person to be.

I miss you always
Marcello

-----------------------------------------------

I have such a bad feeling about this. There's a distinct feeling of de Sade or even Gilles de Rais to the judge and his companions. This is not going to end well.

The players of Logan and Ramon went at the rumour spreading scene with gusto and came up with a great story that has the potential to spread widely. All said just between them, of course, completely ignoring the servants who brought food and wine and did their best not to listen too obviously.

Logan suggested that Marcello should hook up with one of the Jennies at the brothel. It would have been a good plan, those women are not cheap and an investment the Madame would probably be eager to protect from a man like Don Gabriel. But there are limits to what Marcello is willing to do for the sake of their mission and this is certainly one of them.

Don Gabriel is one of the men responsible for Marcello's exile and he doesn't have any qualms about blackening the name of that man. He takes a certain delight in it, especially since he can do nothing else at the moment or he would endanger his family.

We will be taking a break of four weeks until our next session, time enough to come up with a plan to make Don Gabriel sufficiently creepy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If there's a film genre that usually makes me run screaming, it's romantic comedy. Bleargh.

However, a romantic comedy with Bill Nighy, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith can't be all that bad and I'm having an Indian phase anyway, so I gave it a try. I'm glad I did, it's a brilliant little movie.

Seven English seniors move to India into the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for various reasons: for an outsourced operation, because they cannot afford to stay in England or to make amends for mistakes made a lifetime ago.

The story of Tom Wilkinson's character was a nice surprise and had me bawling when it was over. I watched the movie on a plane, so I would have been a bit embarrassed if it wasn't for the fact that the guy next to me had been crying for the last thirty minutes while watching War Horse.

The movie's set in Jaipur, a city I did some research on recently, but filmed in Udaipur. I would have liked to see something of Jaipur, but in any case the movie has a gorgeous look, colourful and vibrant. I cannot judge whether it's at all realistic, although from what I've read, it seems to be (although a bit on the positive side, but it's a comedy, after all).

The actors are all excellent. I'm a huge fan of Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, but everyone else was brilliant as well. It was great to see Penelope Wilton again, who I enjoyed very much in Doctor Who as Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. She had the fairly ungrateful job of being the only not very likeable character in this movie and she did it well. I also like Dev Patel as the infectiously enthusiastic Sonny who manages the hotel and who seems to take all complications in stride. Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end.

So for two hours of escapism and fun, this is just the right movie. You may want to grab some hankies, though.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Perseids

The Perseid meteor shower will be at its peak this weekend. Well, on the night between the 13th to the 14th actually, but if you have to get up early in the morning for work,the weekend should be good enough. There may be as many as sixty meteors per hour.

So get some blankets or a deck chair, choose a spot that's as dark as possible and has a clear view of the skies, to the northeast if possible. After midnight is the best time for viewing, but you will probably get to see meteors even earlier than that. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scarlet Pumpernickel



I'm getting myself in the mood for this night's round of 7th Sea.

Uganda Pride

If you're a LGBT person, then Uganda is not a good place to be. You're a criminal just by existing. People feel free to publicly ask for your execution and it's not an empty threat.

In the face of all this, Uganda just held its first gay pride ever, with over one hundred attendees. Here are some photos. I'm thrilled that this happened. I hope it will happen for many years to come.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cthulhu Gaslight: Bloody Daggers

Cast of Characters:
Thomas Roquefort, American, archaeologist and adventurer, recently arrived in London after an expedition to Egypt
Richard George Thomas Lumley, second son of the Earl of Scarbrough
Jasper Burnside, physician and in the last two years something of a hermit. It's common knowledge that he has lost someone close and there are rumours aplenty for those willing to listen (he's my character)

Last time...

During the fight, Thomas had been wounded by a dagger and with the help of Richard, he makes it to a fleabag hotel. From there, he sends for Jasper, he doesn't want any awkward questions from Sir Jeffrey or the others. It takes the longest thirty minutes of Thomas' life for Jasper to arrive, but at least both he and Richard know better than to attempt to remove the knife.

Jasper does that when he finally gets there, after giving Thomas a dose of laudanum for the pain. Thomas is well enough to walk back to the Shepheard's Hotel and so they return while Jasper is being told what had happened.

With Thomas in his room, guarded by Richard, Jasper goes to find Inspector Fox whom he had left earlier in the hotel lobby, already a bit tipsy on brandy and not all that eager for another night of bad dreams. When he doesn't find him there, he tries Fox's room and discovers that Fox overdid the brandy more than slightly. The man has drunk himself into a stupor, not without throwing up on the carpet. At least he managed not to suffocate on his vomit, thinks Jasper and starts his night watch by cleaning up Fox and the room.

Fox has been carrying around a briefcase for the whole journey like his life depended on it and he left it lying around in plain sight. Jasper argues with himself for a while and then gives in to temptation, he has a theory he wants to test about those dreams Fox is having. He unlocks the briefcase with a key he found in Fox's pocket and finds the dagger that was left behind (in the butler) when Thomas Kincaid was abducted. Having proof for his theory, Jasper locks the case again and puts everything back the way it was.

After midnight Richards comes to check on him, having left Thomas in the care of his manservant Craig. While they talk, Fox suddenly sits up, staring straight ahead and moving his lips without a sound. He's clearly not awake and falls back after a short time. When Jasper wakes him, he cannot remember anything and quickly falls asleep again. Richard returns to his room to get some sleep and Jasper resumes his watch, but nothing more happens until morning.

They all have to get up way too early since the Egypt Star, the ship that will take them up the Nile, leaves at eight o'clock. Jasper decided to ask Fox about the briefcase and clearly is not convinced when Fox says that it contains just some files and papers. Fox figures out that Jasper opened the briefcase and he admits it, apologising for the breach of trust. He also asks the inspector to let him have the dagger for one night, to see if he will have that dream as well. Fox refuses at first, but then agrees as long as he can keep it in his sight.

After breakfast and lots of mocha coffee to get them all up and running, the group leaves for the harbour. There, they are met by their Egyptian guide Kamal who is almost skewered by Captain Hayden who mistrusts all natives on principle. Thomas manages to defuse the situation and later asks Kamal about Hermopolis Magna. Kamal seems to be afraid of the city, at the very least respectful. He suggests that there are things buried in the Egytian sands that may better be left hidden.

----------------------------

Poor Inspector Fox. We all wouldn't bet much on his chances to survive this (nor on our own, for that matter).

We once again were busy swapping conspiracy theories. I have no idea if we're right, but both Thomas' player and I would feel safer without Captain Hayden and his men around. Jasper tends to trust Fox, who might well be seen as expendable by his superiors. As a player, I think about deceiving appearances and
wouldn't trust anyone, but that's the view of someone who has played way too much Cthulhu already.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7th Sea: Appearances

last time...
cast of characters

Dear Isabel,

I received your last letters, I'm glad to hear that everything is well.

We are now in Dechaine, where we hope to have de Chevalier's father declared sane again. Since the whole affair was almost certainly a matter of bribing the judge, Flaubert du Doré, that might not be so easy. We are not as sure about the physician, he might actually have acted in good faith.

The family of de Chevalier owns a town house in Dechaine, but clearly no-one had lived there for years. We were all not that eager to stay there and despite de Chevalier's protest, we took lodgings at a nearby inn. De Chevalier had stayed behind for some time and insisted that someone does care for the house, since the gate opened without problems and seemed free of rust.

More to appease him that anything, we went back after we had a little rest. The gate was very much rusty. The gazebo in the garden collapsed when I looked hard at it. Both Logan and Lucia almost were hit by falling shingles. The doorknocker came off when I tried to use it. Undaunted by all this, de Chevalier insisted that the house was perfect, just in need of some cleaning and possibly a layer of paint and that it would be much more welcoming if we gave it some respect.

I kicked open the door and de Chevalier entered the house, promptly breaking through the floorboards and almost getting hit by the chandelier. But he's not the man to let himself be stopped by such minor things and advanced up the stairs. Sometimes I have my doubts about his sanity or at the very least about his good sense.

Ramon and I followed him, keeping to the walls, we couldn't let him go alone. I found all the doors leading into the entrance hall locked while Ramon made his way up the stairs after de Chevalier. Logan and Lucia decided to take a look at the back of the house and as soon as the left, the front door fell shut even though we had propped it open. At the same time, the door in front of me opened and I look down the barrel of a musket. The same had happened to de Chevalier and we all were taken prisoner. It seems we had stumbled upon the hideout of the local thieves' guild.

They took our rapiers and firearms, but did not find (or even search for) my knives. Logan and Lucia had been captured as well. However, the leader of the guild, who asked us to call him Robert for now, is a man of good sense and we agreed that we could help each other. The guild is a fairly big and sophisticated operation and they have access to much information, but they have no eyes or ears near the judge. That is where we will come in. Du Doré has a few ... unhealthy interests and he is always eager to find out things people are hiding.

So we decided to set a trap for him, with one of us posing either as someone who shares du Doré's interests or as someone who can be blackmailed. Logan suggested first Ramon and then Lucia as bait for that trap, but I will not let Lucia put herself in such danger and I'm a much better liar than Ramon. It's not as if I hadn't done something like this before. I'm not about to participate in whatever the judge does for pleasure, so blackmail it will be. I need to give that some thought.

I'll write again when I can, we will probably be staying in Dechaine for a while so you can reach me here.
Love
Marcello

----------------------------------

De Chevalier's player had to work hard to get us to even set foot in the house. some of us became suspicious when the chandelier came crashing down and stopped just short of crushing de Chevalier, that was a bit too perfect, along with the shingles that always missed us by just that bit.

I'm still considering what exactly Marcello's fake secret will be, but I'm tending towards having him be a murderer who torches the houses of his (female) victims to hide his crimes. It's not as though there was CSI around and all we need is a recent fire in a neighbouring town to get the rumours started. It will also be something that will interest the judge not only for the purpose of blackmail. That man has some seriously wrong hobbies.

I was immediately offered the "women killer"-suggestion by three different people who do not play in the group. I have no idea what if anything that says about me and the characters I usually play. In any case, I'm looking forward to getting Marcello into trouble.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dark Knight Rises

I love the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and Dark Knight Rises is no exception. Knightfall was pretty much the first Batman story I have ever read and so I was really looking forward to this movie. The last time Bane appeared in a movie...no, wait, there is no such movie. Let's just say I was happy to see a Bane who was not only a great fighter, but also intelligent, skilled and actually a complex character, not just a hulking henchman. I found I had to listen closely to understand Tom Hardy's voice, with the accent and distortion, but the effect still was very cool.

I liked the story and the theme of basing good things on a lie. It will always come back to bite you and I was curious to see how things would turn out after Dark Knight. It was every bit as dark as I expected. Gotham is always just a step away from anarchy and this time, it completely went there.

Let's not get into the impossible physics of the end or how a decent freeclimber could have just strolled out of that prison (actually, let's - both articles are fun to read!) - none of this challenged my suspension of disbelieve at all. I'm watching a movie about a man dressed as a bat fighting crime, so yeah, I'm cool with impossible physics. I want outrageous action scenes. I want to go: awesome, I need that/want to do that! And I got plenty of this, so I'm not complaining.

Catwoman - as much as I liked Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, her weird story always bothered me. Ann Hathaway's Catwoman goes back to the original character and she kicks ass. The whole cat aspect was never overdone, just a nickname and those awesome goggles. spoiler
I could have done without the happily ever after ending, but then, who knows what those two are up to?


What I like most about all three Batman movies is Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon. The character developed a lot over the course of the trilogy and the whole storyline revolves as much around him as it does around Batman. While the flashy action scenes are usually left to others, I get a kick out of every single minute of screentime Oldman has. That man can say more with taking off his glasses than others with a five minute monologue.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shake, shake

I just made my own butter and I'm stupidly proud of it. I learned how to do it at Cold Antler Farm Blog and I've been meaning to try it for some time now. I poured the cream into a bowl and let it sit for eight hours, then I filled it into a jar with a tight lid and started shaking. After about ten minutes, the cream had turned into whipped cream, as it should.

And here's how 250ml of heavy cream (35% fat) look after being shaken for about twelve minutes:
IMG_4712_01

The white stuff is buttermilk. I poured that into a glass, rinsed the butter with cold water and kneaded it with a fork to press out any leftover buttermilk. Now I'm left with a glass of buttermilk, a bit of whipped cream I liberated for dessert (fresh strawberries) and about 100 grams of fresh butter. Yay!
IMG_4714_01

Next time: how to grow mushrooms on old paperback books. Really. Google it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

RPG Carnival: What's In Your Backpack?

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by Game Knight Reviews and the question is: What's in your backpack?

Since I don't play fantasy games, I never had a classic adventurer's backpack. But some of my characters do carry a lot of stuff around with them when they travel. Or in the case of my Vampire characters, had a ghoul to carry stuff for them.

Here's what my Shadowrun doc usually carries on his person:

1. medkit
2. comlink
3. gun
4. a couple of tranq patches to be used in a fight
5. pen and paper, he's oldschool that way
6. survival kit
7. dog treats
8. origami crane
9. taser

and if you'd ask my 7th Sea professor to empty his pockets and saddlebags, you'd discover:

1. paper and ink and a letter to his wife
2. a couple of knives
3. at least one book, probably more
4. some mechanical stuff to tinker with
5. a whip
6. spare clothes
7. a not unsubstantial amount of money
8. a loupe
9. if he can get it: coffee
10. stuff he picked up along the way, for example a huge insect stinger and a gigantic bird claw

My own backpack usually contains:

1. a book (dead tree version or Nook)
2. MP3 player
3. sketchbook
4. graphite and coloured pencils
5. my wallet and keys
6. some painkillers
and on longer trips:
7. my laptop
8. my camera (DSLR)