Creative writing via RPG

For some reason I suddenly have a craving to write fantastic fiction and my brain is telling me that the best way to do it is by writing a campaign for a roleplaying game.

This seems like a cheat but it allows me to not have to start from literally nothing. There will be an overall setting with at least some background material. The character generation system helps come up with at least basic character outlines and possibly some detail.

Right now my top three settings are all sci-fi (more or less) but the third is a bit more horror. Stay tuned for the list in future updates, hopefully I can write enough to justify a full post for each.

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Finally hid my first geocache

Last week saw the publication of the first geocache that I have hidden myself, Nearly Caged Quail (GC4XXPG). I kept to my pledge to wait until after at least 100 finds before placing my first (it ended up closer to 140) and I started off with an easy park & grab near home. If conditions are right (i.e. no marine layer) you can catch a nice sunset from ground zero (GZ). I included a few of my signature bottlecaps and a Where’s George tracked dollar bill for the first to find (FTF).

I realized after the fact that I should have put more fun information into the description so I added this image and text today:
“When we first moved into a condo up on this hill in 2000 the south end of Mission Gate Drive was right about at GZ and none of the single-family homes were here. We had a nice area of coastal sage scrub on either side of the road and could see quail families (Callipepla californica) in the brush or even crossing the streets several times each year. Shortly thereafter in 2003 lots of new housing was built and I haven’t seen any quail up here since then.”

California Quail courtesy of the National Park Service

California Quail

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Still enjoying geocaching

I am still having a lot of fun with geocaching. I am up to 147 finds and had a streak of 20 straight days with a find before real life stopped the streak. I also got a First to Find and missed another one by about two minutes. I am looking forward to getting a dedicated GPS receiver some time this year since my phone is sometimes very jumpy and/or inaccurate.

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Good day of ‘caching

I had a pretty good day today geocaching, on my run to Home Depot I found four caches within an hour or so. The last one looked to be really tricky since there was a ton of leaf litter (below) that could not only be hiding the cache but it also made every footstep really loud so I had to be extra careful of muggles. I ended up going around the long way but found it as my 4th of the day. I had to skip another one since a muggle was walking up the street towards me and I would have looked suspicious getting out of my truck there. Go figure, same person walked by just as I was going to grab that last cache so I had to pretend that I was examining the foliage until he passed by.

Lots of leaf litter

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Geocaching Signature Item

I decided that while I generally won’t take anything from a cache I will leave a signature item if the container is large enough. I decided on beer bottle caps since craft beer is one of my other hobbies. I created a small note to include that points the finder to my new page Geocaching. This way they can look for the cap they found on that page and click through to the brewery. Thanks to my friends in the Facebook group I bought 2″x2″x4mm bags and I’m glad I went with 4mm since they are nice and sturdy.

Bottle Cap Note

Finished package with note and bottle cap

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Book Review: Einstein Must Die!

I just finished Einstein Must Die! by Chris Kohout. Really well done, I enjoyed it a lot. It starts in 1910 and has the classic Tesla vs. Edison rivalry. You can read the synopsis and my full review on Goodreads at the link below; I had spoilers that I had to remove for this post. I suggest it for anyone who likes alternate history (reminded me a lot of some Turtledove stuff) or steampunk/dieselpunk.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway contest. I was very impressed with this first novel in the new Fate of Nations series. I would consider it part alternate history and part dieselpunk (a bit more advanced technology than steampunk). I liked the characterization, several of the main characters were developed quite nicely. The first part of the book about Tesla really set the stage for him and created some empathy in me for the character.

The mix of different levels of technology was interesting although I had to consciously suspend my disbelief for one particular invention. The Tesla vs. Edison rivalry is in full force here and causes some very interesting plot twists. It’s always interesting to see how politics can influence science and this was a perfect example of that.

I am very much looking forward to the next volume in the series, this one ended with a nice lead-in for whatever happens next.

Einstein Must Die!

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Hobby ADD: Geocaching

I just recently took up Geocaching as yet another hobby (see my stat bar on the right side of the page). It has lots of interesting aspects from searching the web sites for caches to add to my list, traveling to the site and then doing the actual search. I have been doing urban caches near my house lately but want to start going to the mountains, desert etc. to look for the wilderness hides.

Here are some good resources to start with if you are interested:
Geocaching.com – corporate site run by Garmin including optional premium membership
OpenCaching – open source alternative to Geocaching.com
c:geo – great Android app that can download caches from Geocaching.com
GeoLex – The Lexicon of Geocaching, great summary of acronyms that you will see in cache logs and elsewhere

Here’s a cutesy video by Geocaching.com:

A related sport is Munzee, this one doesn’t use physical containers, just labels with QR codes. The only way to log a find is to scan the QR code with your device. I haven’t done any of these yet but want to try a few in the next week or so. This one keeps scores, has level ups etc. since you can’t really cheat like you can with traditional physical caches.

Munzee – 21st Century Scavenger Hunt. Find. Capture. Reward.

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Recycle your library with Paperbackswap

I have found Paperbackswap to be a great resource for me. I am able to trade away my older books that I don’t plan on reading again for credits to get other books to read. In the last two years or so I have mailed out 31 books and received 23 back in return. The other 8 credits just sit in my account until I’m ready to order a new book. The only down side is that some of the popular books might have hundreds of people in the queue so it can take a long time to get a particular book (if ever).

If it sounds interesting use the linked image below to sign up so they know Doppelbock sent you.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

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Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

I ran across the Words for Worms site today and it looks like a great site for heavy readers. The giveaway is only running for two more days but the site looks like a trove of information.

http://www.wordsforworms.com/2013/11/09/literary-giveaway-blog-hop-that-means-free-stuff-yall/#comment-10655

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Painting Backlog i.e. Wall of Shame

I have gotten into a really bad habit of continually buying models without finishing what I already own. The closest I have to 100% complete models would be my Protectorate battle box that I bought in the summer of 2008. I had them about as done as I could by the end of that year and clear coated them but didn’t ever highlight them. I also need to go back and put the Sanguine Highlight color on the Menofix symbols since I started doing that for the entire army a while back.

Beyond those my models range from the base coating being almost done all the way down to bare metal glued on the base. I really do prefer to play with painted models but sometimes when I get a new model I just want to get it on the table so I slap it on a base to get playing.

On somebody’s blog this year I read a good idea for a painting goal: average at least one model completed per week for the entire year. That won’t get me entirely caught up but would make a good dent. Since I have at least three Warmachine units to finish those will probably get done in groups of 6-10 which will help.

At any rate to help me reach at least that minimal goal I figured I would employ the age old technique of public humiliation. I am posting my collection below with the current status of each model. I will try to get at least a few pics of the partially completed models up soon. Then I’ll post periodic updates with completed pics as I get models done. I created a static page for the list and update it as I make progress; I will move completed models down to a separate section so I can see how much progress I have really made.

Warmachine Backlog
Mercs
Rupert – 95% base coated, needs arm glued on
Eiryss – 25% base coated
Gorman – 40% base coated, sand base needs drybrushing
Taryn di laRovissi – 25% base coated, sand base needs details
Rutger Shaw – 25% base coated, sand base needs details
Buccaneer – base coated all blue, one arm not attached
pMagnus – primed
Ogrun Assault Corps x5 – primed

Cygnar
Captain Jonas Murdoch – 70% base coated
Storm Tower – assembled except arms, not primed, need to move to resin bases
3 Stormsmiths – 60% base coated
Junior – 25% base coated
pStryker – 50% base coated
Storm Blades x6 – assembled on resin bases
Storm Blade UA – assembled on resin bases
Storm Blade WA – assembled on resin base
Charger – 75% base coated
Lancer – 70% base coated
Firefly – assembled
Stormclad – assembled except banner
Ironclad – 70% base coated
Heavy Plastic Kit Defender/Cyclone/Ironclad – not touched yet, will be magnetized

Protectorate of Menoth
Choir x4 – primed
Choir x6 – 70% base coated
Reclaimer – 15% base coated
Zealots x10 – 75% base coated
Monolith Bearer – 90% base coated
Idrians x8 – 65% base coated
Idrians x2 – primed
Idrians UA – primed and some base coating done
Hierophant – 30% base coated
Vilmon – base coated, needs highlights and washing
Paladin – 70% base coated
Vassal Mechanic – 65% base coated
Vassal – needs highlights/shading
Vassal – 15% base coated
Errants x6 – 95% base coated
Errants x4 – 10% base coated
Errant UA – 60% base coated
Flameguard x12 – primed
Flameguard UA –
Gravus – 40% base coated
Gravus mounted – 70% base coated
pKreoss – needs highlights & washes, sand base needs details
eKreoss – 80% base coated, banners not attached
pSeverius – 40% base coated
Redeemer – needs highlights & washes, sand base needs drybrushing
Revenger – needs highlights & washes, sand base needs drybrushing
Repenter – 99% base coated, needs highlights & washes, sand base needs drybrushing
Reznik – 65% base coated, wrack not attached
Wracks – base coated, people & chains not touched
Crusader – 95% base coated, needs highlights & washes, sand base needs drybrushing
Castigator – 75% base coated
Exemplar Seneschal – 50% base coated
Errant Seneschal – primed
BoV – 75% base coated
Bastions x5 – assembled
Avatar – assembled
Heavy Plastic Kit Crusader/Templar/Vanquisher – assembled but needs stronger magnets

Malifaux Model Backlog
I have set Malifaux aside for the moment since the new 2nd edition is in the middle of the release cycle so not all models have updated stats yet.

Resurrectionists
Masters of the Path boxed set – not started
Rotten Belles x3 – base coated, need highlights, shading and washes
Crooked Men – partially base coated, mounted on partially painted resin bases
The Hanged – mounted on hill base, partly base coated
Copycat Killer – partly base coated, mounted on partially painted resin base
Zombie Chihuahua – partly base coated, tombstone on base
Sybelle – almost done base coated
Seamus – 80% base coated
McMourning – 10% base coated
bête Noire – 50% base coated
Canine Remains – 3 solid base coated, 1 primed
Mortimer – 50% base coated
Von Schill – based on cork, flesh & boots base coated
Night Terrors – 2x solid base coated, mounted on cork bases
Flesh Construct – 70% base coated

Arcanists
Soulstone Miner – base coated in translucent silver
Steamborg Executioner – mounted on resin base (25% base coated) 70% base coated
Female Gunsmith – primed
Ramos – resin base base coated, 75% base coated
Mobile Toolkit – resin base base coated, 90% base coated
6 Arachnids – mounted on resin bases, base coated
Arachnid Swarm – resin base 25% base coated, spiders base coated
Johan – 10% base coated
Electrical Creation – resin base 70% base coated, 90% base coated
Hunter – partially assembled

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Short album review: Junkyard by Rust

I found the band Rust via a quick posting on the Ripple Effect blog and the one track they had in the post was so good I went and bought the whole album at Band Camp. The first minute or so of Horse Head sounds a lot like classic Black Sabbath but there’s a lot more to the album than that. If you have five bucks to spare and like sludge/stoner rock do yourself a favor and grab this album ASAP.

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Big Beer Buy for September

I finally spent my groupon at Holiday Wine Cellar, here’s what $100 of beer looks like to a beer geek:

image

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How many Justin Biebers could you take in a fight?

How many Justin Biebers could you take in a fight?

Created by Oatmeal

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Malifaux 2nd Edition

Malifaux 2nd Edition is here (otherwise known as M2E). I am reposting below what I posted on my local gaming club’s forums, feel free to add comments here or visit the forums at http://fgsnc.com

I haven’t done anything but skim through the cards and start reading some of the rules but didn’t get very far and certainly haven’t played a game of M2E yet. I am not sure if M2E drove me back to playing Warmachine or if I was getting back into WM due to the new Convergence of Cyriss faction release first.

My first impressions on the art are that most of them are in a style that I don’t like. Maybe part of it is that I have a vision of each model in my head from the old art and when someone like McMourning looks so different it bugs me but we’ll see.

Candy (where is Kade?)

BETA RELEASE
My biggest beef is the release schedule. They only put out Book 1 models plus extras for the factions that are new since then. How are we supposed to really test this thing with only a very limited number of models? I much preferred Privateer’s way of releasing beta rules for all existing models all at once and it seems like they might have had more models to deal with for the Mk II beta. It feels like Wyrd was rushing to get something out before Gen-Con but this mixed schedule just doesn’t feel right. I think that the true beta would start when all the new model rules are out in August but by then it’s probably too late to be making player-suggested changes to the core rules. There will be only 4-5 months of true full beta before the new book comes out and I don’t know if they are going to do one giant-ass book with all the models or do a new Book 1 (2nd edition) and then faction books or something.

UPGRADES
I have listened to all the beta release podcasts with all the company statements from Mack and Justin and read some feedback (especially from Bill at Gamers Lounge on his Dead Tau Project blog). I don’t have any first-hand play experience but so far the upgrade system bugs me. It sounded good in theory on the podcasts but once I got a look at the cards I was disappointed. I feel like my master will have a butt-load of upgrade cards to manage on the table (literally) and I don’t like that pretty much every model can do at least one upgrade; I expected them to be limited to Masters at the start. Upgrades seem like a good way to tweak a model later if it turns out to be under performing or overcosted I suppose.

While Wyrd played up the idea of “optional complexity” via the upgrades I think that was always possible. One of the first tips I read when I got into Malifaux Classic (as Bill calls it) was that when you first start with a new master (or even other complex models) pick one or two abilites and focus on those for a couple of games before you start trying to use more and more abilities. I don’t like that Wyrd stripped down the Masters and makes you buy back their abilities.

The other thing I don’t like about upgrades is that when my opponent brings Sonia Criid to the table I won’t fully what she will be like since she can be different every time with upgrades. Wyrd is using that variability as a selling point but if you want to be competitive at all you need to know what you are facing and having to remember a different combination of upgrades every game is not going to help with that.

SCHEMES
I like that the whole scheme mechanic was reworked and you can score relatively more points for them now. Scheme markers seem like a good idea but I want to see them in practice. I am on the fence about the scheme pool mechanic. It sounds great for tournament play, not so much for casual play though IMO. I still need to read through all the schemes though.

COMPLEXITY
I know that one of the goals for Wyrd in M2E was to make the game more accessible to new players. I felt like the original Malifaux would be a bit daunting to play as someone’s first tabletop miniatures game, I think that I had a leg up having played WM/H for a few years before trying Malifaux. That being said Wyrd has declared that they didn’t remove any complexity in the game yet made it easier for new people to pick up. I guess only time will tell if that’s correct but it seems to me like they kind of tweaked the soul of Malifaux enough that it may not be the same game to veterans. I do realize that from a business point of view that losing a few veterans in exchange for a potentially huge new player pool over the next five years is obviously a good trade-off for Wyrd and people just have to deal with that fact.

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New Year, More Beers

So last year’s idea to publish a weekly recap of the new beers that I try didn’t work out so well. I am not sure why that is but I am going to give it a go this year. Maybe by using Untappd on my phone I can use that as a reminder instead of keeping a separate text list.

I’ll kick off the new year with what I had during my long weekend in Central California. I visited my parents & brother for a late Christmas and took a bottle of “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid” with me. It’s a winter warmer (with the typical spices etc.) that is made with 20% by volume organic apple cider during the boil. It was quite interesting indeed but probably one of those brews that I am glad I tried once but will probably not revisit. This was brewed by Noble Ale Works and I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of them before as they are just up the road from me in Anaheim.

We went to the Firestone Walker taproom/restaurant for dinner so I started off with a taster of Unfiltered DBA. The normal DBA (Double Barrel Ale) is partially fermented in wood barrels but this version was 100% from barrels. I didn’t see a big difference in taste myself, it was good be just slightly different than the normal stuff.

My other taster was the Double DBA. This was a limited release back in July 2012 (3500 cases) and I picked up a bottle at that time. About a week later I couldn’t decide if I wanted to drink it then or cellar it. I decided to do both and went hunting for a second bottle but couldn’t find one. I decided to cellar it after all so it was a pleasant surprise to get a chance to try it on tap last week. It was really good and not boozy at all. I think I’ll break it out for its first birthday.

Lastly I had one of my favorite porters ever, Velvet Merlin, on nitro. It was even better that way with a super creamy head. I tried the 805 blonde for the first time and it was okay but I prefer brunettes over blondes in general. I ended up bringing some home since my parents didn’t want to finish off their case.

That all being said I’ll give it the old college try this year to post at least 2-3 times per month with my favorite new beers; if I get into the groove maybe I’ll get to the weekly updates of everything I’ve tried that week.

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