amnesiack: (goplaynw)
Continued from here.

1) Dungeon World: Friday evening I cajoled Adam into running DW during this slot, and I'm very glad that I did. Our Fighter/Thief/Cleric/Wizard party was on a mission from the local baron to track down a wayward tax collector. Little did we know that we would encounter insidious cultists of the ancient snake god! The game started a little slow as we got our feet under us (and gradually woke up fully, I think), but by midway through the personalities of the characters had fleshed themselves out nicely. Our human cleric was faithful to the god of Labor, and wasn't too picky about who everyone else worship, he just wanted to make darn sure they worshiped somebody. The halfling thief was our gregarious, friendly peacemaker, constantly trying to wheedle his way into a profit. The elven wizard was constantly analyzing, looking for weak and strong points, and making sure every base was covered before a move was made. My elven fighter was a veteran of the Great Orc Wars, seeing shadowy threats around every corner and itching to stick her spear into them sooner rather than later.

Dungeon World does a great job of building on the framework of Apocalypse World while branching out as its own thing. It retains a great classic D&D feel, while ditching a lot of the constraints of D&D (in particular the lack of player-generated content and the rigid wargame-style combat). There were definitely bits that took getting used to; in particular, Spout Lore was tricky for us at times, in that we were trying to use it to wheedle information out of the GM, when it was really intended for us to provide information to the GM. I wish we'd had another 30-60 minutes to play (or pushed to get to the point we ended at sooner so that we good move past it), but it was still satisfying, and I enjoyed it a lot.

2) Japanese TRPG Sampler: Andy Kitkowski brought a smorgasbord of "in the process of being translated" tabletop rpgs from Japan and gave us some little tastes of each. It wasn't really a gaming session, more of a seminar with examples and brief audience exercises, but I very much enjoyed the previews of all these games. In particular, I'm very excited to see Ryuutama (a feel-good "natural fantasy" game that comes across as a sort of Spice & Wolf style story engine in a Miyazaki setting) and Shinobigami (rival ninja clans fight monsters and have crazy emotional fallouts with one another in a modern setting).

3) Ghost/Echo: Adam was going to run Technoir in this slot, but he got delayed elsewhere, so Matthew Klein, Dale, and I hung out and eventually decide to give G/E a try. It went amazingly well. We played it in a GMless style, tossing the ball around for scene setting and antagonism, referring to the roll tables and name/place lists frequently. For whatever reason, the three of us were just very synced up creatively, and we created a fantastic game that was a potent combination of Inception, The Matrix, Neuromancer, and City of Lost Children which had us hopping through levels of reality fighting digital ghosts and enemy agents.

4) Technoir: Adam rescheduled our missed game here. I'd been wanting to try Technoir for a while, having read a couple versions of the beta and contributed to its Kickstarter because I love the cyberpunk genre. It was fun, but we had some mixed results. As expected, the Transmission and plot map pieces (which borrow heavily from Fiasco setup and Sorcerer-style relationship mapping) were golden, creating a quick and intricate web of interactions. However, we found (as others have) that the resolution system lacked the teeth we wanted it to have. I find the adjective-adding system neat, but conflicts feel like they're just about rolling dice until the GM decides that it's been going on long enough that the NPCs should give. It's really difficult (really, almost impossible) to decisively win anything.

As far as our actual play went, our characters were a freelance guerrilla journalist hacker, a ladder-climing pharmaco rep razorgirl, and a Luddite corrupt cop. The core of our conspiracy was a hacker dissident named Alice3, who had been jailed for unknown reasons shortly after a suspicious murder and clean-up took place. Technoir is really meant to be an ongoing game, and we only played long enough to follow a bunch of threads together to unveil the shape of the events that were occuring; we didn't actually get to do anything about it. Still, I'm happy to have gotten to play it. Thanks, Adam!
amnesiack: (goplaynw)
This past weekend was Go Play NW, one of my favorite events of the year. I got to see a lot of awesome friends, met tons of cool new people, and played a flurry of great games.

1) Panty Explosion Perfect: Joel was the Superintendent for David, Lesley, Chris and me. When setting our expectations for the game we said "slice of life" and then proceeded to play a rockstar from the future, twin spirit cat-girls (one good, one evil), and a ninja. Yui (my time-traveling musician) was on a mission from the future to accelerate mankind's movement towards utopianism by forming a rock band to play the school's cultural festival. She wrote songs like "The Formula for Curing Cancer: No, It Really Works!" and "Weather Machine To Help Clean Up The Environment". She saw an opportunity in the twin cat-girls who played drums and guitar, but was stymied by the evil sister's plot to kill and replace her good, popular twin. In the end, though, we all united to fight off the demons that were attracted by our psychic feud, and we rocked the school towards a brighter tomorrow!

2) The Tulip Academy's Society For Dangerous Gentlemen: We had about an hour-and-a-half left in the slot after finishing PEP, so I pulled this out, and Ogre, Lesley, and David decided to play with me. Our Society was dedicated to being the top ranking fighters in a Street Fighter-esque underground international mixed martial arts tournament society. David and Lesley played the scions of rival underworld families, one bent on turning his family's business legitimate, the other planning to dismantle the criminal empire entirely. Ogre and I came from more sedate backgrounds, and were focused on using our martial prowess to find true love. The King (the only female Gentleman, who earned her place by defeating every other Gentleman in combat using their choice of combat style) gave us our mission: we had to defeat members of the Fraternity of Deadly Brothers, a rival fighting group from The Thorn Academy, known for their underhanded, cheating ways. We got through the introduction scene and two character scenes before we had to call it a night, but I kept all the materials, and since we're all local, hopefully we'll be able to finish it at some point.

Both games were super fun. Next post: Saturday!


Jul. 7th, 2011 09:31 am
amnesiack: (batllerina)
The weekend (plus a few days before and after) was awesome. It included Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz on the big screen at Central Cinema, an awesome wedding at the Woodland Park Zoo, and amazing house show with 11 bands and tons of friends, and the annual "best 4th of July party ever (until the next one)" at the house of [ profile] random_girl and [ profile] grandmoffdavid.

I've been playing bass again. Three friends and I decided to put together a band and mess around and see what comes of it. We've had three practices in three weeks so far, and while we're still not good, we're definitely better than when we started. It's a very cool, low-pressure situation since we're all either (a) brand new to playing our instruments (which includes vocals) or (b) haven't played them in 7+ years. So we're just figuring things out together as we go.

On a less postivie note: )
amnesiack: (one eye)
Evil Bad Person is running from Thor.

"Stop!" yells the mighty Thor.

Evil Bad Person does not stop.

Thor's eyes narrow and a small smile touches his lips before he says softly, "Hammer time."
amnesiack: (beardhead)
"It may not be obvious to everybody, but the art of the novel is a moving target; we stand on the shoulders of giants and more importantly today we're equipped with a toolbox of techniques and methods that we've inherited.

Go and read some random popular fiction from a century ago: the standard of writing is, overall, poorer than an equivalent sampling from fifty years ago, or today. And this isn't just a fashion judgement: we've learned a lot about the making of a solid work of fiction, and we're writing for an audience who have grown up with more sophisticated works of fiction as well.

Whereas the classics are classics because they were the first attempt.

Let me put it another way: compare two aircraft -- the Wright Flyer and an Airbus A380-800 super-jumbo. Separated by a century, the A380 is clearly a more sophisticated machine. Its fuselage alone is longer than the Wright Flyer's first powered hop; it can carry about a thousand times the payload for about a thousand times the distance at ten to fifteen times the speed. But that doesn't in any way invalidate the significance of the Wright Flyer of 1903, does it? Because the WF was the first no-shit heavier than air plane with controllable three-axis flight surfaces, wings designed with the aid of a wind tunnel, and an internal combustion power plant.

Folks who carp at the classics because they don't display the fully-developed characteristics of a good work of modern fiction are like someone who visits the Smithsonian, looks at the Wright Flyer, and decides it's no good because it didn't have a cabin trolley service."

-- Charlie Stross
amnesiack: (uber die)
I'd gotten really good about exercising by walking/jogging around Greenlake while the weather was still nice, but that went into sharp decline as the days turned dark and the weather turned foul. While I'm still able to get out there on occasion (Sunday was a beautiful example), it became obvious quickly that if I was going to maintain any sort of regular workout regimen, I was going to have to join a gym. So yesterday I did just that.

It's overpriced for what I'm getting, especially compared to the big chain gyms, but it's two blocks from the apartment and has everything I actually need. The barriers that will keep me from exercising are extremely low, so having a gym that is 98% as easy to use as the trail around the lake is paramount and worth the extra expense, for now at least.

On an unrelated note, some friends of mine from the Seattle punk community wanted to get into roleplaying and knew that I was really immersed in that world, so they asked me to run a game for them. I pitched a handful of things, and it looks like we're going to be playing Burning Wheel starting in a couple of weeks. I'm going to run The Sword as a way of introducing them to the system, and then we'll discuss the overall campaign and get things rolling. I'm pretty excited.
amnesiack: (rar)
I don't actually have cable or even an antenna for my tv, but I'm pretty good at acquiring television programs in which I have an interest through a variety of other means. So, last night Lesley and I watched the premiere of The Walking Dead.

We both have a weird relationship with the comics on which this show is based. They start off very, very strong, with the author doing exactly what he promises: showing us the aftermath of a zombie outbreak and following it forward in time long after most zombie stories stop. However, somewhere around volume 6 or 7 (I think) it started to go off the rails in a pretty major way, with the zombie survival nature of the book taking a major back seat to a series of ridiculous and crazy human antagonists. I understand why this happened; if you're going to sustain a long-running story over the course of many years, you're going to have to provide some variety, and this is one of the methods by which Kirkman is attempting to do just that. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work for me.

So, back to the tv show: it was very, very good. AMC has a bit of a reputation for making really good original material but falling flat on their faces with remakes and adaptations, but they definitely succeeded here. The pacing was good, there were lots of great character moments and emotional depth, and they did a good job of introducing the concept without retreading all the same ground that every other zombie movie/book/series has already covered. I have no idea if they'll be able to (a) sustain it and (b) avoid the pitfalls of the comic. Heck, I don't even know if they see the later volumes of the comic as pitfalls to be avoided. Still, I really enjoyed the first episode, and I'm cautiously optimistic about the rest going forward.
amnesiack: (uber die)
I got my iPhone 4 yesterday. This may make me seem like a crazed gadget junkie, but in my defense, this is the first smartphone I've ever owned, and it's only been a year and a half since I got my first cell phone, period. So there, non-existent person to whom I feel compelled to justify myself!

This also marks the transition for me and Lesley into full-fledged cell phone independence. I've been riding on a friend's family share plan (thanks!), and she's been on her parents' plan up until now. We've now got our very own family plan, with just the two of us. Independence is expensive.


I've been playing around with D&D character apps for the iPhone, since updating character sheets sucks and having a bulky laptop on the table is the pits. There are two that seem pretty good, though neither is the 100% perfect machine. Both allow you to upload Character Builder files to the web and then access them via the phone in a cool, streamlined capacity.

* Translates the character builder files very well, so you have to do little or no any after-the-fact tweaking.
* It has a built-in die roller both for general rolls and on a per-power basis with all mods calculated in advance.

* It's a web app, which makes it slower, and means it's constantly using up data capacity and battery life at a quicker rate.
* Powers don't include the effect descriptions beyond attack mods and damage; you have to follow a link to the Compendium for that.
* Manual tweaks are impossible for most parts of the character.

* Power entries are more robust in their information, and there is a description field that will let you fill in any information that you want, so there is no need to check the books/compendium.
* It's a native app that just downloads characters from the i4e server when you ask it to, so it's not using up bandwidth or a lot of battery life while in use.
* Virtually everything in the character can be tweaked manually if you desire.

* Only the bare skeleton of the character gets imported from the character builder files, so you end up having to do a lot of manual updating and tweaking before the character is playable. This is a huge pain.

I'll be playing around with both, since we've got a game coming up on Tuesday, and I'll probably learn pretty quickly which I prefer.
amnesiack: (uber die)
The more I play D&D, the more I dislike the racial ability bonuses. More often than not, the race/class parings I'm really interested in are completely sub-optimal because the ability bonuses don't line up with the necessary abilities for the class. While it would be completely possible to just build the character that way anyway, I find it really difficult to divorce my thinking away from the tactical nature of the game, and that +2 to two abilities can end up making a pretty big difference in a character's effectiveness.

One Bad Egg (RIP) addressed this problem via their Hard Boiled Cultures supplement, suggesting subcultures within each race that had their own unique ways and corresponding bonuses. That's fine, if the players/DM accept it and someone wants to put in the work to create it. But what I really want is to just do away with race-based ability bonuses all together and just let players assign a +2 to two abilities at character creation, just like they do at levels 11 and 21. The races would still be diverse mechanically via their racial attributes and feats, but it would be way easier to play a wide variety of race/class combinations without sacrificing effectiveness.
amnesiack: (stills)
Here's a quick rundown of what I saw at the Seattle International Film Festival. )
amnesiack: (screaming monkey)
White Crosses is the new Against Me! album. I think it's a much better record, overall, than New Wave was, but it's still not really what I want from an Against Me! record. It's probably a failing on my part, but nonetheless, it's a record I'd enjoy more if it had been released by a different band.

Still, the video for "I Was A Teenage Anarchist" is pretty awesome.

UPDATE: Tom Gabel on "I Was A Teenage Anarchist".
amnesiack: (stills)
Lesley shared a cool article about so-called "Benevolent Sexism".
In general, benevolent sexism manifests itself in a paternalistic stance ("Men take care of women.") that is couched in notions of complementarity ("Men have leadership gifts and women have relational gifts.") and chivalry (i.e., the princess in the tower or the damsel in distress: Women wait and watch while we rescue/work/sacrifice/struggle for them). Overtly, these attitudes seem kind and noble but, structurally, they keep power firmly in the hands of men. It's a soft, sweet paternalism. A benevolent sexism.
Read the rest here:
amnesiack: (american astronaut)
At his recent keynote speech at the New York Television Festival, former Star Trek writer and creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica Ron Moore revealed the secret formula to writing for Trek.

He described how the writers would just insert "tech" into the scripts whenever they needed to resolve a story or plot line, then they'd have consultants fill in the appropriate words (aka technobabble) later.

"It became the solution to so many plot lines and so many stories," Moore said. "It was so mechanical that we had science consultants who would just come up with the words for us and we'd just write 'tech' in the script. You know, Picard would say 'Commander La Forge, tech the tech to the warp drive.' I'm serious. If you look at those scripts, you'll see that."

-- From
amnesiack: (geek pride)
I recently linked to Charlie Stross's cool blog entry about Apple and the future of the computer industry. He's got another really great one up now about the eBook market that's also worth reading if you have any interest in the medium:

CMAP #9: Ebooks

At the beginning, he links to a couple of his past entries that contain pertinent material. Both are interesting, but I think you can get away with just reading Why The Commercial Ebook Market Is Broken (keeping in mind that it was writting in 2007, so some things have changed since it was written).

The part of that entry that particularly jumped out to me was this bit about the wait for dirt-cheap ebook readers:

First of all, if overlooks the point that publishers don't manufacture ebook readers; the consumer electronics industry does. And the consumer electronics industry will not cut off its own nose to spite its face by producing an ebook reader for $20, if it can produce one with extra bells and whistles that sells for $350. We've had the tech for a $20 (or $50, anyway) ebook reader for a decade; it would resemble a grey-scale palm pilot, albeit without even the PDA functionality.
I realize this should have been really obvious to me, but until he pointed it out, I just hadn't really thought about it. Publishers would embrace ebooks more if the platform was cheap enough to make easy market penetration. They would love that. But they're not the ones making and selling the devices. The people making and selling the devices aren't the people making profits from the ebooks, so in order to make it worth their while, they have to make the readers more expensive.

The exceptions to this are, of course, Amazon and Apple, who control both their own devices and their ebook distribution channels. I have a feeling that this will strongly play into these two companies heavily dominating the ebook reader market in the future, because they're currently the only ones who stand to benefit by making their devices cheaper. Which, of course, then ties right back into Charlie's previous article about the future of the computer industry.

amnesiack: (american astronaut)
I sort of feel like all I ever talk about here anymore is video games... oh well.

On Saturday I contemplated starting over with Final Fantasy XIII, but it really wasn't appealing. Then, I thought about finishing Dragon Age: Origins, but nixed that too. Instead, I finally booted up the copy of Mass Effect 2 that I bought on launch day.

As people predicted, I don't miss the fiddly rpg bits like I thought I would. The core gameplay is extremely solid and well-executed. The missions so far have been fun, and the story is high caliber. Of course, it wouldn't be Mass Effect without extremely boring mini-games thrown in there to balance things out, so you've got your planet scanning and whatnot as well. In the end, it's very much like the first Mass Effect: a slightly flawed game that still provides above-average enjoyment for me (at least so far).

Two things stand out to me:

1) They use reincorporation of characters and story elements from the first game with extremely high effectiveness. While you certainly could start with 2 and skip 1 if you were so inclined, I think the experience would be vastly diminished.

2) I love the random sprinkling of references to other science fiction franchises, such as overhearing two characters discussing a run-down colony on the fringes of known space called New Canton, or having a mercenary group called Blue Sun, or giving the ship's engineer a pronounced Scottish accent.

Elder Sign

Jan. 30th, 2010 10:04 pm
amnesiack: (Default)
One of my favorite shorts from tonights SIFF Sci-Fi/Fantasy Short Film Festival:

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amnesiack: (SPAZ)
Episode 5 features an interview with Seattle band Shakes and three songs off of their debut EP!

SPAZ Episode 05

amnesiack: (SPAZ)
I put up a new podcast episode a week ago: Best of the Grn Strp Haus (Part 2).

This is another music-focused episode. Here's the tracklist:

* 0:41 - "True Story" by The Pillowfights, from Round One
* 1:30 - "Identity Confused" by Down We Go, from From Up New Sleeves
* 4:10 - "Slow Car Crash" by Classics of Love from Walking In Shadows
* 6:49 - "Galloping Gurdy" by Smooth Sailing, from 2009 demo
* 10:51 - "Exploding Houses, Dirty Floors" by Smokejumper from 2009 demo
* 13:11 - "Southbound 280" by Mike Park from For The Love Of Music
* 17:13 - "The Sickness" by The Hollowpoints, from The Black Spot
* 21:31 - "Adventures, Baby" by Breaker Breaker One Niner, from their recent demo


Dec. 11th, 2009 10:58 am
amnesiack: (stills)
Yay, another example of U.S. law enforcement/military acting as government-sanctioned thugs. Peter Watts, author of one of my all-time favorite science-fiction novels (Starfish) was assaulted by border guards while returning to his home in Canada on December 8th. I know this stuff happens all the time all over the world without us being aware of it, but it certainly gets highlighted when someone you're familiar with gets worked over.

Here's Watts' brief summary of the event.

Corey Doctorow also has some things to say.
amnesiack: (SPAZ)

The third episode of my podcast is up today! I recorded this interview with my buddies in Success! on the 30th of September. You also get to hear four songs off their self-titled, full-length album.

Check it out at or in iTunes!

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