Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Need more minerals!

So I've been trying to work on a lot of various creative projects lately. Most notably the one that I had been talking about on this very blog, the tribal world building project...thingy. But I've had the problem of my creative resources being basically kaput. My imagination tank seems to be on E. So I haven't been getting anything done at all. So I just wanted to tell the folks to whom I had talked up these ideas quite a bit, sorry for jumping ahead of myself on this. I'm pretty sure this project will come to light sometime in the not horribly distant future; but not all that soon. The other project that has been taking its place in my thoughts is going to be pretty cool as well; and I'm working on filling up my creativity and imagination with a lot of steampunk stuff and similar reference material in preparation for pursuing that project. Hopefully it'll get done in the next month of two and I can run the campaign for someone. Until then, I'm just gonna keep reading and watching and bringing in new ideas. Cause sometimes you gotta recharge the batteries.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Creation Myth for RPG World-building Project

So as promised here is the myth that the people who populate the fictional realms of the Tribes that we are going to be building here believe in. Or at least the version of it that is believed by the as of yet unnamed example tribe that I'll put up soon. The tribe is a bit of a lore keeper type of tribe (spoiler alert LOL).

In the earliest of days the world was dark and empty,

The gods looked at this and it made them sad,

So they gathered together and spoke with each other,

“Let us make new friends for us to know and teach,”

“But where shall they live?” said the gods to each other,

“For they cannot live in the realms of the gods.”

“Then we will make a place for them to call their own,”

“Come let us make form from the emptiness, and light from the dark.”

So the gods shaped the world, building the world that would become home to the Tribes,

They formed a beautiful and perfect home for the First Tribe,

A wonderful Haven where they wanted for nothing and were always safe,

And the gods watched over the Tribe and taught them many things,

But soon the gods became disappointed with the Tribe,

For they became fat and lazy and did not listen to the gods’ teachings,

“Look at our friends;” said the gods, “they are foolish and lazy”

And the gods’ anger became great and they burned away the First Tribe,

The gods were then sad at the loss of their new friends,

And they decided that they should try again to make friends to teach,

“But how will we stop them from being fat and lazy like the last ones?”

Then the gods gathered together again and thought on these things,

After a time the gods decided on what they would do,

They shaped the world anew, creating the world that we know today,

Instead of a single perfect haven, they shaped many varied lands,

Instead of a soft place of safety, they shaped a crucible for the Tribes to test themselves upon,

The gods made many new friends to fill the new lands,

They said to each other, “As the lands shall harden and sharpen them,”

“So to shall they harden and sharpen each other,”

“In this way they shall never grow soft and foolish,”

Thus the Tribes were formed. They have endured many trials and hardships,

They have grown in power and knowledge, and always revered the gods’ commands,

Every year they gather at Haven, to greet the new friends that the gods send,

And each year those who come of age go on to be with the gods.

This is how it has been ever since, and how it shall always be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Communal RPG World-building Project

So I've been working on a new campaign setting for my next RPG for quite some time now. It has slowly been piecing itself together in my mind and I really think the overall narrative plot has finally solidified and the a lot of the generalities of the world have come together. Now I am just working on filling in a whole bunch of details.

In order to do that I want to try something I haven't done before but I think will be really interesting and fun. I want to open up a portion of my world-building for this setting to my friends and fellow RPG players. I want to get different insight and perspective than I can produce on my own. I think this will help make for a really fun and vibrant world. And if I get the chance to use the world in a game for any of the given people that might end up participating in this project; I think it will really help them connect to the world even more.

So here is the idea. The world is a "simple", naturalistic/wilderness, tribal setting. It is reminiscent of post apocalyptic style settings; but without the actual apocalypse event. I have a few ideas for some of the tribes that I want to exist. I am going to be posting an example tribe and a short list of some other tribe ideas soon.

Where I'd like to get other people's creative input is in designing new tribes, or fleshing out ideas I haven't done much detail on. Thats the main thing I'm looking for. Other ideas and input, generic concepts and ideas on the world and the interaction between the tribes and stuff like that is also welcome.

I'm going to edit and vet and have final say on stuff; but I'm looking to use as much of other's ideas and input as purely as possible. So if you come up with a cool tribe, I'm not going to change stuff to just fit the way I would have done it; I'll only change something if it just doesn't fit in the world at all.

I'll post a general summary of the world concept soon as well. For an idea go to this link:
It gives a pretty good framework for the style of world I'm working on creating. And yes I'm planning on including the whole "no one lives beyond the age of 20 something" theme that Tribes: The Dog Years has going on. That is a huge detail to keep in mind. I'll also very soon post a "creation myth" from the viewpoint of one of the tribes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Immortals Campaign Session 1

So we started Morgan's Immortals campaign tonight. Had quite a bit of fun. As per usual the story is amazing, and very thick and nuanced. The world and our characters immediately felt very detailed and real, and the situations we were put in were intriguing and fun. Also, the decisions we made really seemed to affect how things played out. All things I've come to expect from Morgan's games and things I think make for a great campaign. So here's the summary of what basically went down:

The session started with what Lucius (my character) has dubbed "The Most Boring Day of the Year." Its the one day of the year that all the immortals in House Del Dio have to come back to home base and preside over important decisions and family matters (like whether or not Urkel did that. See I made a 90s TV joke, that's how boring that day is).

The topic that we roleplayed out was a budget increase of about $40 billion for the intelligence branch of our House. My character barely paid any attention to the discussion; right off the bat knowing he was voting yes because frankly it was an easy decision. There were quite a few problems and potential threats out there that we were woefully under informed about and the House needed more information. As he said to someone else who joined him at the snack table "we can always make more money, but we might never get a chance to learn the information we need again before its too late."

So we ended up voting to give them the money, maybe not all of it if I remember correctly; but a large chunk. Then it was party time; the real reason we all gather together back home in Venice. We were enjoying a big celebration when one of the high ranking mortals in the house brought us a gift from one Terrance McBain, also known by at least me as The American. This guy is a 34 year old business man; kind of a cross between and Bill Gates and a Lex Luthor type of person in my understanding. And the impressive part is he is a mortal who has made himself a force to be reckoned with on the immortal scene. I don't want to go into a lot of details; but just trust me that that is pretty impressive.

So the gift is a container with 12 fancy Cuban cigars in it. One of us immediately sees the significance of the number. 12 is the number of immortals our House has; and this is a much smaller number than what we project to the world. Quite awhile back all of our immortals disappeared, and the mortal members of the house have been keeping up the illusion that they are still around for a very long time. For someone to potentially know that there are only 12 of us is huge, and possibly devastating. So we toss together another quick tactical meeting. Lots of arguing and discussing and political mumbo jumbo later we've got a two prong plan. Oh, the plan only makes sense if I tell the other piece of news we received. The one immortal in our family that wasn't at the meeting is basically retired from active duty and living incognito with a mortal family in the U.S. And we find out he has disappeared and his family has been captured. So now the plan:

1) The players team is to head to the USA to find Marco and his family and get them back home safe and sound.
2) The other field team of immortals is going to head off to Romania on the idea of Traci's character, Diannora, to try and make friendly with the Romanian immortal house; which is a very powerful house because of their powers of telekinesis.

So the other team heads off to Romania and we hop on a private supersonic jet to America. We land at Atlanta and are met by a member of the security team that was watching Marco and his family in secret. With the help of our coordinating members back at mission control, mostly our immortal sister Bellini, we find out that Marco's family was grabbed by the Justice Department. Or at least people that looked like they worked for the Justice Department.

So we trace down the car used to grab Marco's son and end up having to bust in to the JD headquarters. Brianna (Liz) and Dia (Traci) work together to help us bust in; Dia opening a whole in the wall with her Earth Control and Brianna using her illusions to hide our movements. Oh also, John's character (Roman) sneaks into the car before we head into the building and gets us some info that led us to believe the family had been brought to this building; which is why we busted in.

We end up finding Marco's whole family inside in a witness protection room. We evacuate them after our hand is suddenly forced by Marco showing up and using his crazy super strength to assault the building. We but into the room, get the family together and evac them to the next door parking garage through the wall we came through earlier. We give them to the security detail guy and have him head for a family safe house. We then head back inside and find Marco. After talking him down we let him know his family is safe and get him out too. We try to cover up the situation but too many people are already witnesses and we decide its a lost cause; so we just head to the safe house, then a private airfield and out of the country; back to Venice.

When we arrive we are ambushed on the tarmac by a small number of mercenaries and one of McBain's hired immortal lap dogs. We kill off the attackers; and capture one of them and the immortal. After getting them to a safe house and questioning the merc; we find out that the immortal we captured was in on it and it was some sort of setup. We then get called back to the house because of some emergency. When we get back we find out that Mia, one of the team sent to Romania has been killed. The House is in shock and panic and everything gets even worse when aerial footage of our fight at the airstrip is found to have been released to the various immortal houses; with the false propaganda that we were purposefully assault McBain's men and declaring war on him and his allies.

Which btw included India, China, and Brazil; three of the more powerful immortal houses out there. I can't remember when we learned this fact; but at some point during the session it was revealed that those three had signed a "If you attack him you attack us" treaty with McBain.

So we left the session with an immortal family member dead, a very powerful coalition having played us like puppets right into a war with them, and the whole family reeling and struggling to figure out what we can and should do. Good times.

Some very cool moments from the session:

1) In the fight at the airport my character kicked some serious ass; shooting down one assailant right off the bat and then using his powers to weaken a doorway and bust through it to disable and capture another one. Also Dia did some really cool stuff with an Earth shield and capturing the enemy immortal in a hole in the ground.
2) John did some great infiltration stuff in his crazy mist/ghostly form. Very useful.
3) Liz's illusions were insanely great; helping us pull off a bunch of stuff much more easily than we would have been able to.

Looking forward to next time a whole lot. I'm lucky I have two weeks to think on what to do; Lucius Del Dio probably only has a few short hours to think.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Conversation Between Del Dios

So I'm totally going to get around to post the rest of the Grey Ranks sessions we've done so far one day. I know I've been horrible about posting in general and that in particular.

But a few days ago me and Traci ended up having an impromptu conversation about an issue in Morgan's new campaign; and it just sorta became an in character thing; or at least the wording worked out as such that I can edit it a tiny bit and change our names to our characters' names and make it look like that. So I'm gonna post it here for record keeping purposes and so the others who are going to play the campaign can read it and get the extra insight into who Lucius and Dianora are.

Dianora: Got a minute?

Lucius: Sure

Dianora: I've been trying to work out a possible idea for a treaty with Romania. So far we've just bombed the hell out of them, but we really have no idea how strong they are, and if they ever come out they're going to be super mad. So maybe if we could broker a treaty, it'd do a lot for the standing of the family. At first I thought the easy solution would be pay for a null to come along from the British house, but the range is a problem we could be killed on site sight, and there might not be anyone left we really wanted to talk to if Vlad is as crazy as we think and his family is as diminished as we hope. Would a strong alliance be worth it for the family if it were possible?

Lucius: Maybe

Dianora: Best thing I can think to do is send our brother who can hop dimensions for some recon

then send an offer by impartial mortal courier. Otherwise I wouldn't know where to send it and we could save the money on yearly bombing runs. *nervous laughter*

Lucius: Or we could draw them out with our brother and then drop a nuke on them and have him hop dimensions to escape

Dianora: We could but we're just killing them out of fear- like the holocaust. I don't see that as justifiable.

Lucius: It removes a valid threat. I don't see any reason to hop into bed with a certified mad man

Dianora: He's been backed into a corner for a long time.

Lucius: He enjoys IMPALING people!

Dianora: He makes a statement so fewer people will try to kill him.

Lucius: So being a megalomaniac is okay if it serves a higher political purpose?

Dianora: There are lots of megalomaniacs we wouldn't consider nuking because they serve a greater purpose to the world. His mortal people at least deserve a better life than constant genocide.

Lucius: So now we're coming at this from some moral high ground? What are we going to do tell him "Oh please Vlad, would you please ally with us? Also, while we're begging here’s some demands: Be nice to your mortals."?

Dianora: No I'm not saying he's mistreating the mortals, if he is I didn't understand that, I thought that his people were being killed because they might be of his bloodline.

Lucius: We bomb them because if they can regain their footing and get enough of a power base; with their power they can just start picking Houses off left and right.

Dianora: Right- back to the fear thing. If we can do okay with Israel, I think we could do okay with a house with telekinesis, as long as they weren't bat-crazy nuts.

Lucius: You think that hasn't been tried? Check your histories, librarian. I'm sure negotiation and treaties were attempted before we started just indiscriminately killing them. It’s a coalition of Houses behind this; you think someone like the Odin's would stand by if this was an unwise course of action?

Dianora: I just don't know how many years have gone by since a treaty was attempted. What if telekinesis could be bred into our bloodline?

Lucius: It would be a useful advantage. Fine, go ahead and talk to them; but hire your own dang security; I'm not sending any of my people on what is most likely a suicide mission.

Dianora: I just wanted to know your mind on the matter. I could also consult the Odins, if I decide to move further.

Lucius: Probably a good idea; they know more about this politics crap than I do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grey Ranks Chapter 1

Monkey-Wrenching The Occupation

"...Igo Sym, an actor who sold out his country for money. Radio Lightning thought better of you, Igo."

Mission: Kill the traitor Igo Sym

Situation Elements:

"Your parents want to kill me!"
"Maria Grekowa, an agonized neighbor"
"A letter authorizing the bearer to break curfew"
"A sturdy pair of boots, spotted with blood"

Our mission scenes start off with Romani. He is tasked with scouting out Igo Sym's location. He takes Chess along with him and sneaks out through the steam tunnels under the University of Warsaw. He and Chess slip through the sewers of City Center emerging in an alleyway near the actor's home. They case the building, attempting to find a way in and are discovered by the next door neighbor. They gain the information about the fact that he has been frequenting a certain bar and head back to inform the group.

Next Kraut is tasked with acquiring a firearm for the assassination. She heads to Ochota, and breaks into a neighbors house. Sneaking around the home she finds and steal a revolver, bringing it back to the group's headquarters.

Warsaw is the one tasked with killing the traitor. The entire group heads back into City Center, with Romani leading them to the bar that Igo Sym has been going to. He stays outside watching for trouble while the other three head into the bar. Warsaw kicks in the sex appeal and uses it to get close to Sym. She then pull out the revolver and shoots him point blank after accusing him of being a traitor. She and the other two flee the bar as quickly as possible. As they flee they hear the signal from Romani, Germans are incoming.

Chess is tasked with distracting the Germans in order to facilitate the group's escape. He grabs the gun from Warsaw and then heads in the opposite direction from the group before firing it off a few times, attracting the patrol's attention. They chase him for a time before he manages to ditch them enough to hide himself and set up an ambush. Springing the ambush he kills one of the two Germans. He then lies down near the body and plays dead as well. When the other German arrives he surprises and kills him. He grabs a sturdy pair of boots from one of the dead Germans and flees back to the sewers, making his way to the groups hideout to meet up with the rest of them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Grey Ranks Session 1

So this last Thursday evening we started our first game of Grey Ranks. We got character creation and the introductory chapter finished in the time that we had. We will be continuing with the game tomorrow, Sunday. I'm hoping we can knock out the rest of the play through; though if we can't we'll get close and maybe be able to finish it out later in the week.

Here are the characters that are being played:

Player: Jeremy
Name: Czeslaw Sazinsky
Psuedonym: Chess
Home: City Center
Hold Dear: Family
Symbol: Crumpled Red Cloth Napkin
Age: 15
Reps: Careless, Isolated

Player: Skye
Name: Julia Zebanowicz
Psuedonym: Warsaw
Home: Wola
Hold Dear: City
Symbol: Royal Castle
Age: 17
Reps: Eye-catching, Angry

Player: Torrie
Name: Erika Stanislawa
Psuedonym: Kraut
Home: Ochota
Hold Dear: First Love
Symbol: Locket
Age: 16
Reps: Stand-offish, Ashamed

Player: Jonathan
Name: Ivan Sikorska
Psuedonym: Romani
Home: Old Town
Hold Dear: Friends
Symbol: Book of Fairy Tales
Age: 15
Reps: Shy, Outsider

Character creation is a fairly simple process. You pick a name and a psuedonym first. I wanted my character to be of Russian Gypsy descent, so I went with a name that sounded somewhat Russian, and gave him the nickname Romani.

Then you pick an age, I went with 15 to symbolize the fact that the character will be a bit more reckless and a bit less capable in relationship scenes. Also because I plan on using his birthday for a scene during the play through and I didn't want him to jump up to the max age.

Next is picking a section of Warsaw to be from. My selection was Old Town, the run down and ancient/historical portion of the city. And thats all you do before the introductory chapter.

Then you play through the first chapter. There are only mission scenes, no personal ones, in this chapter. Also, you automatically succeed in this chapter; its meant as a vehicle for learning the game and learning about your characters. After you've done all the scenes for it you finish up character creation.

For our first chapter we ended up latching on to a blurb about a traitor to the Polish people in the Radio Lightning transcript (short radio messages that preface each chapter and give setting information for it). We decided the mission was to take him out. Romani scouted out his home and ended up learning from a neighbor that he had been spending a lot of time at a local bar. Kraut snuck into her neighbors house and stole a gun for the mission. Warsaw was the driving force behind the mission so she took point and did the deed. Chess distracted a guard patrol as we made our escape, pulling some daring moves and keeping us from being caught. I'll probably put more exact details in a separate post.

The next step is to pick what your character Holds Dear. The choices are Family, Friends, Faith, City, Country, and First Love. Each player must choose a different one from the list. We didn't have any issues there, cause everyone immediately gravitated towards different ones. I at first was going to go with Faith; but I later had some great ideas for Friends, so I went with that. After you pick the concept you pick a concrete symbol of it. This symbol can be used 3 times over the course of the game to get a big die and a reroll; its invoked, threatened, and then destroyed. My symbol is a book of fairy tales that was given to him by his childhood best friend, Maria.

Then you go around the table and each character is assigned two reputations by the other players. These must start out as negative aspects. They will change to positive ones during the game as your character grows up. I got Shy and Outsider.

Finally you each create an NPC to help fill out the dramatis persona list. I decided to create Maria, my childhood friend. You just pick a name and a trait (I gave her Unlucky, deciding my character watched over her a lot when they were kids; because of her horrible luck) and a brief idea of who they are and how they fit in to your world. And then you are done.

I'm really looking forward to playing on Sunday. This is a heavy game, with lots of potential for very emotional situations and RPing; and I hope it achieves that potential. I want to explore the engaging but tragic stories we have before us with these 4 characters. It's going to be hard, but fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bold New Frontiers

So I've been listening to a fun podcast that John introduced me to called Actual People, Actual Play. It's a fun, short little podcast where a group of RPG gamers discuss the games they are playing and their impressions of the systems. Specifically they try to focus on how the "mechanics of the game affect the fiction". It has been fun to hear other people's opinions on some systems I've played or have looked at playing; and the group is full of intelligent people so its interesting to hear them discuss their ideas and opinions.

One of the other benefits of the podcast is that they do episodes of one shot games here and there in their lineup; usually between the bigger games or when someone can't make it and they have to delay the big game. This has introduced me to quite a few interesting sounding games; and looking up those games has led to some other ones as well. It's also introduced me to some new RPG concepts; like GM-less games, which is something I'm very much looking forward to trying out in the not too distant future.

And that brings us to the point of the post; here is a list of some of the RPGs that I'm really itching to try out; either playing or running, with the ones I'm most interested in being up near the top:

Grey Ranks: this is one of those GM-less games. In fact its been called the "gold standard of GM-less games." The players play members of the Grey Ranks, Polish teenagers who were recruited into the Polish Resistance during World War II. The game is supposedly very engaging and emotionally involving. The system intrigues me, the subject matter is one I'm interested in, and the GM-less thing sounds like a lot of fun. This is at the top of my list to play as soon as I can afford the $12 for the PDF.

Ars Magica: Ars Magica is an cool RPG based in a fantasy version of medieval Europe; they call it "Mythic Europe." The world seems very neat, I love the fact that the fluff gives great power to the Divine and the Christian God. The magic system is also very interesting; it's a very well known and respected system. It allows for a free form style of magic where you basically can create whatever type of spells and effects you want or need in order to accomplish your goals. It is this free form system that makes it fit well with a campaign concept I have floating around in my brain. Looking forward to writing that up and trying it out sometime.

Montsegur 1244: "A story game about burning for your belief" This is the tagline for Montsegur 1244. Another GM-less game you play one of the hundreds of Cathars who were trapped in the castle Montsegur when it was besieged by the Albigensian Crusade. The game tells the stories of these people and the courses their lives took in these trying and extraordinary times. It seems a very dramatic and human game.

Zombie Cinema: I don't know all the details about this game but in the Actual People, Actual Play podcast about this game they basically played The Three Musketeers + Zombies. The podcast made it sound like a ton of fun and it seems like the game is some what modular. By that I mean you can play in different settings and time periods, and then just add zombies! This is an awesome idea!! I look forward to picking this up and trying it out. It may also be a GM-less game, I can't remember.

Under the Bed: "The stuffed animals, toy trucks, and action figures of your childhood did more for you than you remember. They were your guardians, advocates, and friends, putting their lives on the line for you. Do you have what it takes to be a toy?" This straight up sounds awesome!! That's almost all the information available on the web page about the game, but I am totally sold.

My Life With Master: Don't know anything about the game besides the basics of the theme and setting. Sounds super fun. Hopefully it will be.

Burning Empires: This is one of the three games that uses the Burning Wheel system that I've been recently using in my Mouse Guard campaign. I very much love the system and I've enjoyed the campaign quite a bit. The game system is very systematic and structured; which my brain enjoys. Its crazy sci-fi with intelligent brain worms and powered armor and lasers and spaceships and all that jazz, which my brain also enjoys. I want to play it at sometime, and I'll probably be able to through Magpie Night. I may also run it for some friends at some point.

Dresden Files RPG: Dresden files = straight up insanely awesome books. A game where you can play a holy sword wielding Champion of God = straight up insanely awesome RPG. This game is a no brainer sell for me, I can't wait to play.

The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach: "Are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilzation?.....Even if it will get you tenure?" That is the weird and hilarious question that this game asks. Its a GM-less game about the insane politics of academia, mixed in with supernatural evil-ness. A great combination in my opinion.

Rogue Trader: Playing a space merchant prince at and beyond the edges of known space in the dark future of the 41st Millenium. Or playing one of the amazing specialist veterans that make up his or her crew. Exploring the edges of space, fighting orks and eldar, plundering space booty, sounds like a great time to me! I got the book cheap because of a water damage sale, and I haven't looked at it yet; but the D6 Generation guys talk about it a lot and really like it.

Shadowrun: THE cyberpunk game. Magic, cyborgs, spirits, robots, supernatural beings, and super corporations. I love the setting of this game. Love love love it. I don't know anything about the system; but I'll take whatever in order to play in this world.

Houses of the Blooded: a high concept fantasy game that is very heavy on politics and intrigue and nobility and that sort of stuff. Reading stuff like the Wheel of Time series lately has put me in the mood for this type of thing. Plus I met the designer at a con I went to recently and he was a very interesting and cool guy. He is the one that told me about Ars Magica.

Serial Homicide Unit: Yet another GM-less game, you delve into the lives of the victims of a serial killer and of the group of cops that is trying to catch him. Seems interesting; mainly because I like puzzle/whodunit situations.

Oh and if you are one of the people who plays RPGs with me, let me know what your interested in in order to help hone my choices when I go to buy some of these.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

So Ends this Tail...I mean Tale!

Mouse Guard is over. Finally managed to squeeze in the last session of my short mouse-y campaign. Had a lot of fun running it but I was done with story and ready to finish it up. I think my players really enjoyed the game overall. We had a good number of fun times, some hilarious moments, some great role playing, and even some total ass-kicking!!

I also may have driven one of my players insane. These things happen.

In retrospect we all seemed to enjoy the opportunity we had to play a new, very different system. But I feel we all also really felt that it would have been much more enjoyable if we had a better grasp of the rules. As I said its a very different system, and there are some fairly fiddly bits; as well as some unclear wording. These things did cause some amount of trouble here and there but overall we handled them and pulled out a good game.

In the end I really enjoyed it. I look forward to running the last part of the adventure as a bit of a stand alone game for the Magpie Night soon. I also am hoping to venture back into the Burning Wheel system again in the future, probably using the Burning Empires game.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blinded by the Light

So I took the long way home from board game night tonight. Why? Because there was a beautiful storm outside and I wanted to experience for as long as possible. As I drove along at around 20 MPH on the back roads between Fayetteville and Springdale I watched the glorious lightning storm play out across the night sky. Huge pulses of light shining behind the clouds. Long forked bolts arcing across the sky. The cool, crisp air blowing in my open window. It was awesome (yes, it really was awe inspiring, so yes I'm using that word).

The only bad part of the experience was all the artificial lighting I encountered along the way. The street lamps, house lights, car headlights, and the like all interfered with my ability to see the amazing power of creation on display around me. It annoyed me immensely.

But it also got me thinking. All this illumination we create every night, all this light we shine out to push back the darkness; sometimes it blinds us to things that we could or should be seeing. I bet that of all the people in the Springdale and Fayetteville area; very few of them were out and about in this storm, and of those that were the majority didn't spare a second's thought for the awesome power and beauty that was on display around them. They were blinded by the very lights that they depend upon to see in the night.

How often do we allow something very similar to happen in our spiritual lives? The "lights" of our own efforts and "righteousness" that try to push back the darkness with only end up blinding us to the glory and power of God that is there all around us in the storm and the darkness. I think we should not be afraid to stand out in the wilderness, far from the light of our "civilization" and to enjoy the amazing creation that God has given to us, and bask in the protecting power that His light surrounds us with. If we do that I think that in the darkest places we will be able to see the clearest.

And next time there is an amazing lightning/thunderstorm going on out there, get out somewhere dark and enjoy the show for a bit.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So much to do, so little time

Man, there are just so many things I'm wanting to do these days and no where near enough time in each day to get it all done. While I really enjoy and appreciate the act of doing the things I love to do; sometimes I just wish I could read books like Data from Star Trek, or download TV shows into my brain instantly like on that one episode of Futurama.

Oh if you hadn't guessed by the references I made; all these things that are warring for my time are just leisure activities. Nothing of any REAL importance. Here's the list:

1) Doing research for the new character I'm going to be playing in Jeremy's sci-fi campaign. Shepard Liam Gudson. This involves rewatching Firefly to learn from Shepard Book, reading the books of the Bible that deal with the lives of Paul and Peter, reading another book about Paul, and reading a book about a missionary named Bill Wallace. I'd like to be doing all of these things simultaneously and at at least double time; cause I want all that info in my head when we play the first session on Sunday. Not going to happen of course, but doesn't stop me from wanting it. LOL.

2) Last Exile. Beautiful, beautiful series. I recently recommended it to a friend and since he has been enjoying it so much I've decided I really want to watch it again myself; so ya even more hours of TV to watch.

3) I'm also finishing up my Mouse Guard campaign, trying to plan how to run a portion of it for Magpie Night (with 6 players to boot), and trying to finish up the Burning Empires book so that I can move on to finding a system to run another fantasy campaign idea I have in my head in.

Add in all the TV shows I try to keep up with, my usual social gaming activities; and a full work week and my free time is at quite a premium these days. But I guess its better than being overloaded with other more stressful things and the like. Anyway, I'm hoping to get a more normal job starting next month (at the least I'm going to be very aggressively attempting to get one) so hopefully a more standard schedule will help me do more that I want to do.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Okay, so as most of you who have heard me whining lately know; I need to get a new job. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired of food service and all the crap that comes with it. The Fratellis job is good, I enjoy it, its not difficult; but seeing as how its a very small business they can't afford to give me many hours and pay me more than minimum wage. Which I 100% understand and I'm not angry or bitter at them at all.

Unlike my other job of course. I have come to hate working at Chilis. The moment I walk in the door I can't wait until the shift is over and I can leave. I feel like, while most everyone there likes me, no one really respects me and especially not my bosses. Like most waiters I'm just seen as another easily replaceable cog in the machine, and it sucks a lot. Plus working for tips is very up and down and I hate depending on other peoples whims to make my money.

And on top of the other bad stuff the schedule is just killing me. I go in at 9 a.m. Mon-Sat. Work till either 1 pm or 11 am; depending on the day; then if its a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday I just go waste a few hours until I go work at Chilis; and I'm there until late in the evening and I just go home and go to bed. I can't grow or change my social life at all because my only available free time is in the middle of the day when everyone is busy with work and school and all that. It sucks.

So I am going to be looking for a new job now. Something 9-5, Mon-Fri. I know the economy sucks and jobs are hard to find; but I'm going to do my best. There are three things all you wonderful friends of mine can do to help me with this pursuit.

1) For them that are the praying type, please do so on my behalf. I could use all the help I can get finding a decent job.

2) I'm going to try and build up my computer/tech skills, get some certifications, learn some new skill sets, etc etc. If anyone knows about computer and IT type jobs I would love any advice and help you can give figuring out what certifications and classes I should look into; and on finding out where to pursue such learning.

3) If you hear of any opportunities; please pass along the word to me. I'll of course be checking listings myself; but maybe you folks will hear of some jobs that I won't.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Proper Respect For Words

Something has been bothering me a decent amount lately. It's the seeming lack of respect for certain words. The casual use of words that aren't casual at all. Here are some examples:

1. Awesome. I'm completely guilty of misusing this word as well; so don't call me hypocritical. I'm admitting my problem. :-) Anyway, the dictionary definition of awesome is "inspiring awe." So the question is, how many times do you use awesome to refer to something that actually does inspire awe in you? And how many times do you use it to refer to things that are just good, interesting, convenient, or nice? Is the count on the latter one much higher? It sure is for me. This isn't a terrible or life-threatening transgression; but it does somewhat annoy me. I think its because as a Christian I believe that God is Awesome. And it just seems wrong to so blatantly misuse a word that is a characteristic of God.

2. Rape. This is a HORRIBLE word that describes a HORRIBLE act. It's just straight up nasty. Yet in my experience as a gamer I see people using this word all the time with total casualness. They use it to talk about how they beat someone at a game, or how they killed some one's character or unit. It's used to talk about the act of defeating another person. Which when you think about the definition I guess the connotations are there; but its just such a horrid word that I really think we should make an effort to use something else in its place.

3. Love. This word and its foibles could take up a whole week of blog posts on its own. My mentioning it is brought on by a song I've heard a decent amount lately on KLRC that I think just really uses the wrong category of love. And yes there are lots of different categories of love; so yes it can be used in different ways. Just make sure you are using the correct one.

4. Irony. When talking to a friend about this post he brought up this word. People label a lot of non ironic things as ironic; probably simply because they don't know the real definition of the word. So here it is:

I'm sure there are tons of other words that are misused every day. The like five people who will read this can feel free to post their own thoughts on this issue.

So be careful what you say and what words you use to say it. Words have power, and with great power....well you know the rest. (And if you don't you don't pass the nerdiness requirement to be my friend ;-) )

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Where is fancy bred? In the heart or in the head. "

So what fancies do I want to address. Why all the crazy projects I want to work on in the near future. Here's what I'm working on:

1. My Mouse Guard campaign. I've probably got 2-3 more sessions max before the game gets into the stuff that I'm making up completely and I really need to get it written down and planned out.

2. A Burning Empires campaign. I really want to try and run one of those with somebody. I'm loving the Burning Wheel system more and more; and the extra complexity in this version as compared to Mouse Guard intrigues me. Plus the setting is really cool.

3. I want to put together a little booklet that basically gives you a system for producing a one-shot game. I'm planning on making at least the first iteration a zombie survival game. Basically give you a complete system for generating characters, a plot, and a scenario; all in one short, easy to use little booklet. The use I'd like to see it go to is sitting down around a table with no prep, and being able to whip up a party of characters and a scenario, and then play through it, all with very little fuss and in very little time. Just a random idea I had and I want to pursue it.

4. I want to put together a campaign setting for the crossover world that I worked up years ago back in college and ran a few games in. I really enjoyed the world and I think the players did too. I'd like to get it all put together again and probably adapt it for use in a different system than D&D/D20 Modern; since I'm all about the non-d20 based system love these days. Probably try to use the Burning Wheel mechanics if I can. Though if I ever wanted to try and publish it it'd probably be better to try and come up with my own system or something; assuming Burning Wheel doesn't have a generic, OGL system thing going on like D20 does.

5. I had an idea for an intriguing card game awhile back. The idea was to bring the RTS computer game feel into a multiplayer card game format. I brainstormed quite a few ideas with some friends and I'd really like to get around to trying to get that put together at some point.

6. I'd really love to try and turn my computer into a Hackintosh so that I could download and use the Iphone SDK thing and learn how to make Ipad apps. Not the whole computer; probably just a separate partition. Gonna have to consult some more techie minded friends about that.

7. I'm also considering doing a Forgotten Realms hack of the core Burning Wheel system; once I get around to looking it over that is. I know some friends of mine are fans of the world; and I find it fairly interesting as well. But I do so dislike the idea of running games in the D&D system right now. Its kind of a far off project; so we'll see.

So lots of cool stuff I'd love to do. Of course with me finding the motivation and the time is always an issue. Now if only I could turn this type of stuff into a job.... :-p

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Assault From the Skies Brothers!!

So I spent the majority of today playing in a Warhammer 40K tournament up at Castle House Games. It was a 'Ard Boyz practice tournament. What that means is that there is an official tournament in May, called 'Ard Boyz, and it is a qualifier for bigger and grander tournaments in Vegas later in the year. The format for 'Ard Boyz includes somewhat large than normal armies and lots of really corny/cheesy lists that you would never field normally because they are just stupid good/bad. Today was a practice event to get used to the army size and the tournament style. It was still an official tournament for Castle House as well; so prizes and such were to be had.

I of course fielded pretty much everything I own. When you don't have a ton of stuff to work with you can't really play around with the options that much. But I tossed down a list that had a whole bunch of Blood Angels Space Marines with jump packs and mean tempers. :-p And I ended up doing okay. Middle of the rankings I think. And I won the "Favorite Army" award, which got me a $25 gift certificate (just as good as winning 2nd place I think LOL). So it was a good day overall.

But on the downside of the experience, man GW's games are so....annoying! I've just started to get used to how things happen and then today I encountered so many things that just TOTALLY broke the rules and defied what I thought was possible in the game. And its not like I'm lacking in experience in playing and therefore just haven't seen enough. In my opinion its an issue with the game and the business model it is run on.

Here are the two main issues I have with the game, issues that both came up today.

1. The obsession with mechanized forces (i.e. Vehicles). Vehicles seem to be the be all and end all of every dang army. If you don't take vehicles, you're doing it wrong. If you want to make your army feel more thematic and cool; like for instance have all of them wearing jump packs and leaping across the battlefield to slay their foes; TOO BAD! That option doesn't included vehicles so therefore the rules severely gimp it. Do you want to fulfill the mental image in your head of huge, powerful space marines controlling the battlefield with the power of their armored suits and nothing more? TOO BAD! It's really annoying not to be able to effectively field the army I want the way I want.

2. I played an army today that was just insane. They are called Necrons. It wasn't really the base rules of the army that were bad; but man there were some crazy special characters and special rules that just made them feel way too overpowered. The explanation my opponent gave when I pointed this out, "Oh ya this codex came out back in like '92, its like from 2 Editions ago" That is HORRIBLE!! The business model that GW is following is leaving some forces in play that are no longer balanced and designed for the way the new base rules work; and its really annoying! Is is REALLY so hard to get out all new books for the existing armies each time you release a new edition? You don't even have to change that much, just update and re-balance stuff. *SIGH*

Anyways, despite my whining I had a good time, I still mostly enjoy the game, and I'm looking forward to trying out some new army ideas I came up with today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Wonders of Modern Technology

This is just a test post. If I did everything correctly it should publish this post directly to my Facebook page. Fingers crossed!

Thoughts from a Waiter's Mind

So I had another very annoying incident tonight while at work. A table that was very nice and that seemed to really enjoy their meal ended up stiffing me. And I'm not even certain that it was on purpose. They just didn't leave either of the credit card receipts behind. This is a VERY annoying situation.

When this happens I can not help but be angry because I just put in all that work and got screwed over for it. And thanks to tip-out, not only do I not get a tip, I have to pay for having taken that table. And their check was like $72. So that's a nice "Oh thanks for stiffing me and making me pay $1.50 out of my pocket for the dubious "privilege" of having waited on you." It sucks even worse though because the people were nice and they may not have intended to do this; so one feels even worse for getting mad.

So the lesson here is to be very careful to leave behind the signed and filled out copy of your credit card receipt. It may seem like a small mistake to you; but it really Fs over the server and makes for a terrible situation.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mouse Guard Session 2

I think this Mouse Guard session was a little less successful than the last one. The blame is totally on me, both sessions were run just using 2 of the premade missions from the book and the first weeks was very detailed and well written and easy to run without any real prep at all. The mission I intended to use this week wasn't as easy to just run without any prep and some of the stuff was specific to the premade characters they have in the book for use with the mission. That stuff could have been adapted I guess, but it didn't feel like the right way to go so I was forced to just make up some more stuff to expand the mission so it would fill up the gaming time. Anyway I think overall fun was still had, it just wasn't as polished as the first session. Here's the summary:

Mouse Guard Session 2

The characters all started out back in Lockhaven. It had been a couple of weeks since the previous patrol, and things had been busy. It was time to pour the northwestern Scent Border again and a large number of patrols were being assigned to the job, including the player's patrol. Al, Penelope, and Bran all set out with a large caravan of Guards and hand-drawn carts, following the trails from Lockhaven to Darkwater, then on to Lonepine and finally to Wolfpointe.

One night during the stretch of the journey from Darkwater to Lonepine, Penelope was one of the mice on guard around the camp and she heard some noises coming from the nearby undergrowth. Upon further inspection she spotted the gleaming eyes of a raccoon, right as it spotted the camp and came charging in. Yelling out a warning Penelope ran forward and set herself to face the oncoming predator. The rest of the camp woke quickly and rushed to help. Bran began peppering the thing with arrows while another patrol slipped behind the raccoon in a flanking position. The battle ebbed and flowed with both sides deftly maneuvering for position; but in the end the mice managed to be quicker and they drove off the beast; though a few injuries were sustained.

When they reached Lonepine the caravan left its wounded there to be tended to further, and then continued on its way. They had no more trouble on the rest of the journey out to the Scent Border and began to divide up into teams and move out to pour the sticky Scent Elixir along their assigned areas. Bran quickly identified the portion of woodland that they were supposed to mark with the Elixir, but the other two mice had some trouble working with the stuff and managed to get the stinky concoction all over themselves. With Al muttering angrily the whole time about being an archivist, NOT a field scientist; they went over to a nearby stream to clean up.

Penelope slipped a little ways upstream in order to have some privacy as she washed the Elixir out of her fur. While Al was also scrubbing himself clean and Bran was keeping watch a big old bullfrong suddenly popped up out of the mud along the bank of the river and tried to snatch up Al. With a yell or warning and some quick help from Bran, Al managed to evade the bullfrog's attack and they both ran quickly upstream to where Penelope was; warning her to get out of the water.

The patrol then left the stream behind and continued pouring the Scent Elixir. After more frustratingly slow work they finally managed to finish their task and went back to meet up with the rest of the Guardmice. Because of all the trouble they had they were the last patrol to arrive, so as the caravan headed back the Guard Captain in charge sent the three of them off at the fork in the path that lead to Grasslake, to check on the city and its inhabitants.

As they approached the city they were stopped by a panicked mouse who came running through the marshy grasses around the city, yelling for their helping and waving his arms. He breathlessly gasped out that the town was under an attack "A monster! A giant monster! Destroying the town! Eating mice!" The patrol told him they were there to help and to lead on. What they found was that a giant snapping turtle had crawled out of the lake and was basking in the sun in the town square, right in between the town bakery and the brewery.

It turned out the mouse that had come to get them was the owner of the brewery, Harold, and he led them to a crowd of mice on the far side of the square from the turtle, all the townsfolk were gathered up there staring at the beast and talking nervously. From talking with the mice they found that while of course everyone was very concerned about the turtle being there, the four who were the most concerned were Harold the brewer, Honeywind the baker, Lester the smith, and Thom the mayor; all of whose residences and places of business were in the town square and therefore in danger from the turtles actions.

These four mice began animatedly telling the guardmice that they HAD to help and they MUST drive the turtle out, and just how HORRIBLE it would be if anything happened to this or that building. After a quick side conversation they patrol decided to convince the mayor to calm the crown down and have them wait out of sight of the turtle.

After the crowd was gone they patrol began discussing the situation and their options. They decided that the most likely reason for the turtle being there was that it was a female there to lay her eggs. With their limited knowledge about turtles they figured out that if the turtle were to lay her eggs she would end up digging up the whole town square, which was something they and the village really wanted to avoid. They stood around discussing and brainstorming for quite some time.

Finally Al hit on the idea of trying to use some sort of herbs or plants to knock out or drive off the turtle and they went and questioned the mayor about the idea and whether anyone in the area knew about such things. He pointed them to a couple of ladymice, Josephine and Clove, but neither felt they could be of any help and didn't know of any herbs that would accomplish what the guard wanted.

While all this discussion was going on the crowd has been getting more and more riled up. Unknown to the players the smith, Lester, was a former Tenderpaw from the Guard who had failed to advance on to Guardmouse and was still fairly bitter about the fact and resentful of the Guard in general. Between him and Harold, who had a bottle of his own brew on him and had been sneaking swallows of it all day; they began to convince the crowd to take some action against the invading beast, whether the Guard would help or not.

When they noticed this change of attitude in the crowd the patrol attempted to talk them down from this idea; but their confusing rhetoric and flowery statements fell on mostly deaf ears. They did manage however to at least convince them to not actually engage the turtle in physical combat, just to try and scare it off.

Penelope was unhappy with even this however and tried to physically bar the way for the crowd; forcing them not to take action. Al tried to stop the younger Guardmouse but she wasn't listening. Luckily for them though the crowd merely pushed Penelope aside and any sort of real altercation was avoided.

The patrol caught up with the rest of the mice and they all began to work together to try and drive the turtle off. Penelope was her usual fearless self and led the spear waving and threatening motions from the front, while Al stayed back and yelled instructions, guiding the mice to the best effect possible; and Bran just ran around the flanks trying to help where he could. At first the turtle just ignored them or half-heartedly snapped at the nearest mice, but she didn't really move or become that aggressive.

The apparent indifference to their efforts at first weakened the mice's resolve; but after became heartened again after they managed to rile up the turtle and actually get it to react. The reaction was more than they wanted though and in a final destructive struggle the turtle was driven off but not before wrecking all the building they had wanted to protect.

With a somewhat dejected sigh of relief the town thanked the Guard for doing what they could and began to pick up the pieces. The patrol stayed around for awhile, helping them get the rebuilding process started and then gathered their belongings and began the trek back to Lockhaven.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thoughts from a Waiter's Mind

I'll probably post random musings and b@%*hings about my life as a server from time to time. Its a horrible job and you get treated like crap most of the time; which gives you a lot of ammo for such rants. The things I want to harp on tonight is the "Waste of Time Table"

Here is what happened tonight. A table came in fairly late; I think less than an hour before I got cut (side note: Only 2-3 servers stay on the clock until the restaurant closes. Hanging out and chatting in someone's section for hours is most likely forcing someone to stay at work longer than they should have to, sitting around making $2.63/hour. So don't do it!) so something like around 9:30 or so. Not terribly late, so it wasn't that that pissed me off about this table.

The problem with this table is that they were a big waste of time. The table was composed of 7 people, 2 adults and 5 kids ranging from around 11-15 years old is my guess. So 7 people with at most 2 of them young enough to be ordering off the kids menu. And this is what the order was for the entire table:

7 Waters
2 Orders of Chips and Salsa
1 Order of Texas Cheese Fries
1 Order of Combination Fajitas
1 Dos XX Amber bottle

That is it! Here is the problem. This group of people is taking up my one big top table, my one real moneymaker table. And their total bill comes out to less than the bill on the two top right next to them!!!!!!! I would expect a bill upwards around $60-70 for a table of that size. Their bill barely broke the $30 mark.

If you can't afford to order food at Chilis, GO TO MCDONALDS! If you want to, as they said, "Just Graze"; GO HOME!! Or go find a frikkin field! You are denying me my best location for making money that evening for however long you are going to be there, and you aren't even making it worth my while (they left a pathetic 10% tip).

The table was a pain in my ass and a waste of time. For all the work I did refilling their drinks and chips, and cleaning up after them I'd rather have not my the $3.00 they gave me.

My Mouse Guard Campaign, Session 1 Summary

So I'd already posted this over at (fun site for any RP enthusiasts in the NWA area). But I figured I'd re-post it here for the folks that wouldn't see it there. The game we played is an awesome indy RPG called Mouse Guard. It's based on the Burning Wheel RPG system, which I really enjoy. The version of the system used in Mouse Guard is sort of "Burning Wheel Lite", and is a very sleek and well made game.

Mouse Guard Session 1

The session started out with Gwendolyn calling the Guardmice into her study. When they arrived they found her looking over a large map of the territories that was filled with various markers indicating Guard patrols and missions that were currently out in the field. She welcomed them with a smile and warm greetings and informed them that she needed them to deliver some mail. The players represented a fairly disparate group who had not worked together before and the oldest member of the party (Patrol Guard Alaphondar, know to most as Al) was at an age where frequent missions were a thing of the past. But the Guard was very busy at the moment and Gwendolyn needed to call upon all able-bodied mice in order to accomplish all that needed to be done, even simple mail runs. So with words of encouragement and wishes for safe travel she handed off the mail bag and sent the patrol on its way.

The patrol consisted of Patrol Guard Bran, a somewhat reclusive and solitary explorer who was more used to going on solo scouting missions than going out with a patrol; Patrol Guard Al, the above mentioned greyfur who had settled into a comfortable life in Lockhaven, teaching tenderpaws and spending time with other veteran mice; and Penelope, a bold and brash young Guardmouse who won't let anything stand in her way of being the best Guardmouse she could be and who was always ready for a fight.

They each gathered up their supplies and headed off on the mission. Their route would take them first to Elmoss, Bran's home city, then to Sprucetuck, home to Al, then on to Dorigift, and finally to Gilpledge. The only area where any trouble was expected was the route between Dorigift and Gilpledge; an area where the trails were not quite so clearly marked and blazed.

The patrol encountered no problems on the first leg of their journey, arriving in Elmoss after a few days and quickly delivering the mail for that city. After helping the postmaster, a grizzled old mouse named Gurney, to pass out the letters and packages, Bran visited an old friend and fellow map enthusiast, Jasper the cartographer, and then they all received a good home cooked meal with Bran's family and had a good nights sleep. Bright and early the next morning they set off for Sprucetuck, making it almost to within sight of the city before encountering the first challenge of their adventure. Penelope spotted a blur of red fur out of the corner of her eye as they were walking by a small stream near the city that had been greatly swollen by the spring thaw. Quickly becoming alert she warned the others that she had seen something and began a careful visual search of the nearby area.

She had almost written off what she had seen as just her imagination when a shrill scream carried to the patrol's ears and they saw a very young mouse child fall from the bank into the rushing currents of the stream. Without hesitation Penelope leapt forward and dived in to save the child. Bran moved almost as quickly and went to the bank to attempt to help them both out of the stream when they came down to where he was. The current proved stronger than anticipated and while Penelope was able to reach and grab the child she was too tired to get close enough to shore for Bran to grab them. So with a grumble about young mice and such Al leapt into action as quickly as his old paws would carry him.

Rushing downstream ahead of the floating pair he found a branch to hold on to and leaned out over the stream, extending his walking staff out even further. He managed to catch Penelope and with the help of the swiftly arriving Bran pulled the water logged mice back to the shore. After helping to comfort and dry off the young mouse Al softly admonished Penelope for being so brash and Bran grumbled about his own ineffectualness in the rescue attempt. The patrol carried the little one, whose name they found out was Lilly, in to Sprucetuck and returned her to her mother Dalia. She was very very thankful to the Guard and the patrol in particular and was very upset and worried about where they had found her baby Lilly at.

After she thanks them profusely and left them to take care of the child another young mouse, this one a few years older approached the Guardmice. He had obviously been selected by a nearby group of mouse children as their spokesperson and told the players that he thought the Guard were amazing and he wanted to be one when he grew up. He then asked them what was the most important part of being a Guardmouse. All three mice answered with different things, the overlong and wordy answers of Bran and Al going completely over the young mouse's head. But he was able to latch on to Penelope's advice to simply “Be brave.” Hands raised over his head in triumph he ran back to his friends and they scurried off chanting their new mantra “Be Brave! Be Brave!” Then the patrol delivered the mail to Finn, the postmaster in Sprucetuck, and they proceeded to get another good meal and a nights rest.

The trip from Sprucetuck to Dorigift was easy and calm and they dropped off the small amount of mail for that city with no real problems. A small spring rainstorm did tire them out but it was only a minor inconvenience. On the way to Gilpledge with the last of the mail Bran's path finding abilities failed him and they ended up starting to bed down for the night in a hollow tree trunk that was also inhabited by a startled raven. The bird's attention was quickly riveted on the mail bag that Penelope carried and a conflict ensued. Penelope once again leapt forward into the danger and boldly defended the mail and her patrol mates. Al followed his instincts and stayed back, offering suggestions and verbal support where he could, and Bran attempted to use his bow to create a distraction to assist Penelope in her attempt to slay the attacking raven. The battle was close and hard fought with both sides finally accomplishing their goals. The raven snatched the mail bag away, only to be brought down by an arrow from Bran as it fled.

The Guardmice quickly gathered up all the mail they could find, packing it back into the bag from where it had scattered when the raven landed. They settled in for the night with even more caution and the next day arrived in Gilpledge. Being a small town the mayor was in charge of things like distributing the mail and since he was very busy the patrol helped him to accomplish this task. As they did two mice stood out to them in the crowd. One, a middle aged, well dressed mouse in the clothing of a merchant or well off craftsman; the other a pretty young female mouse who seemed at first very excited about the arrival of the mail. The merchant studied the Guardmice, not really seeming to care about or pay attention to the mail. The young ladymouse was absolutely riveted as each name was called and each letter and package distributed. But as the stack grew smaller and smaller without her name being called her face fell lower and lower. At the end she fled quickly from the meeting hall, tears streaming down her face.

Bran attempted to catch her and find out what was wrong but he was accosted by the well dressed mouse, who identified himself as Martin, a well to do carpenter. He was overly excited but once Al calmed him down he explained that his daughter was scheduled to be married soon and how it would mean the world to her if he could include her grandmother's old rocking chair, a family heirloom, in her dowry. The problem was that the chair was still in the abandoned city of Walnutpeck, a city that fell during the Weasel Wars a few years ago. He told the patrol that he had been about to go himself to retrieve it, but now that the Guard were here they would surely help him on his quest.

At first the patrol members felt that their other duties were more pressing and that they couldn't spare the time; but Martin was quite convincing. Not to mention that he was arguing mostly with Bran, a mouse not used to such social situations; which led to them agreeing to help Martin to retrieve the heirloom. This agreement left Bran stunned, Al annoyed, and Penelope sullen. Martin hurried off to his home to prepare for the journey and the Guardmice went to the local tavern to collect themselves and discuss the situation. After much conversation Al hit on the idea of trying to find someone else from the guard to help the poor man out, because frankly Al was certainly too old for this type of thing. With a stroke of luck they were able to find a pair of Guardmice who were on their way back from a scouting mission out at the Scent Border, and Al pulled rank to get them to take over the mission of helping Martin.

The next morning as they set off they encountered the young ladymouse they had seen leaving the meeting hall in tears yesterday. She had what seemed to be all of her belongings on her back and was striding determinately and solitarily out of town. The Guardmice stopped her and questioned her as to what she was doing and where she was going. With a determined look and voice she told them her name was Loretta and explained that her fiance had traveled to far off Darkwater last spring looking for work, and should have sent her a letter telling her of his situation there and whether or not she should come to meet him. When she had not received a letter the previous day she had despaired and decided she couldn't wait any longer, so she was heading to Darkwater now and nothing would keep her from her beloved any longer.

The patrol quickly convinced her to travel with them and began to escort her back to Lockhaven. On the way back they went back by the hollow tree where the raven had attacked them and were able to find a few pieces of mail they had missed before, including the letter to Loretta. Unbeknownst to them they also encountered a small weasel patrol that had come pursuing the same raven in order to exact revenge on it for earlier conflicts with the bird. The weasels saw the mice and decided to ambush them that evening. As the mice sat around their fire the weasels leapt out and tried to seize them. Thanks to some quick thinking and cleverness on Al's part, the patrol and Loretta managed to escape the weasels, but they lost a good amount of their supplies as they fled. When they finally arrived back in Lockhaven they were tired, hungry, angry, and injured. The simple mail run had turned into quite an adventure. After being debriefed by Gwendolyn they all enjoyed a delicious meal cooked by Al and then collapsed into their own beds ready to rest and recuperate.

Mmmm, Bloga-licious

So on top of a place to record my random thoughts I had it pointed out to me that a blog is a good place to keep up on your writing and stay in practice of it. I've some writing projects I want to try and conquer over the next few months and I think that it is a good idea to work on my skill and discipline (to be read in cheezy Samurai Sensei voice).