Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thunderstorms in CLT

Today was supposed to be a short day. Up at 03:30 and done by 12:30. In the hotel room and getting ready for a tasty steak lunch by 13:00. Today's steak lunch brought to you by Capt. Bill and his Wife of Awesome Income.

The little string of things going wrong started yesterday. Our First Officer (copilot to the uninitiated) twists his ankle stepping off of the aircraft. It's those damned Dash 8 doors. They've got that extra long no-step area. So, that evening he hits the doctor's office and gets grounded. Well, that means we need a new First Officer. But it's already late, so Schedueling decides to pull a reserve guy, put him on a continuous duty overnight, and have him work with us today.

Where Schedueling went wrong is when they decided to let the reserve guy work more than just that first flight back to CLT. Big mistake.

See, there's two important things you've gotta know to understand why it was a mistake. The first thing is that pilots are only alowed to be on duty for a certain number of hours at a shot. I think the FAA's limit is 16 hours and the pilot's contract further limits them to 15 hours. The second thing is that a 'continuous duty overnight' is pretty much just like it sounds. The reserve First Officer had so little time to sleep last night that he couldn't be considered to be on 'rest'. So he's been on duty continuously since 21:40 last night.

We flew from our overnight to CLT. That's when the reserve would have been done for the day if Schedueling weren't greedy. But greedy they are, so they decided to have him work a trip to Wilmington NC and back with us. That would have had him finishing his duty at about 11am. That's 13 hours and 40 minutes. Only an hour and twenty minutes shy of his limit.

Guess what? We're just starting to board to leave Wilmington to head back to CLT when Capt. Bill tells me that we're delayed due to weather in CLT. It's a big enough delay that he wants to send the passengers back into the terminal. We won't know anything more untill 11:00 or so. If we dont' take off by (I think he said) 11:04 then the First Officer isn't allowed to fly an aircraft with passengers on it.


That'll mean we'll have to cancel the flight and 'ferry' the plane back to CLT. We are booked at 50 out of 50. We're supposed to be full. That's 50 folks who'll need to be rescheduled on other flights. Are there 50 free seats leaving Wilminton NC for anywere today? I bet not.

Good job. Ya greedy punks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I graduated from the Forge

In a few recent threads here and there at Story Games, folks have mentioned that the Forge would be a great place to do the work they're talking about doing. It started me thinking about my relationship to the Forge and why I don't really go there very much any more.

I think it's because all the hard lessions are done. I learned how to shed my baggage there. Not just the baggage I brought with me, but also the baggage I accumulated while I was there and the baggage that I occationlly pick up here and there. I learned how to think critically about games. Not just the text, but also how I play. I learned how to be polite on the internet at the Forge. Ok, so I don't allways apply that lession, but I still learned it at the Forge.

I could go back to the Forge to learn more. There are constantly new folks coming in with new ideas. I could totally pick up lots from chatting with them. Or I could go back and take up space as someone willing to dish out the limited wisdom of my own experience. There are a couple folks doing an excellent job at that very task right now.

But I'm not much of a teacher-type. What I need right now is a studio of creative folks who are there to design and have allready gone through all the basic lessions. I need a post-graduate space.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Lisa and I used our free movie passes to check out the new movie Jumper today at Southpoint.

I enjoyed it. It had an intentional comic book feel to it. I cannot reccomend it, because it also felt like it was just the first three issues and no one seems to know if there will be anymore.

The plot wasn't particularly deep or anything, but it failed to wrap up pretty much every single loose end. Except, of course, the lead character's shitty relationship with his dad. That got wrapped up with the bad guys showed up and offed the old man. Now he can't resolve that issue. Which kinda sucks.

I left the theater with the feeling that I had just watched a particularly expensive television pilot. There was plenty of set up for more story line, but precious little finished off.

Oh well. I wasn't expecting much more than ninety minutes of action and special effects. I did get that.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I received a long and thoughtful reply to my post about publishing. It was not abrasive or confrontational. However, it was a rebuttal. Rebuttals have no place on this blog. This is not a place for discussion. If you would like to discuss something with me, drop me an email. If you'd like to discuss it in public, then call me out at Story Games.

I considered disabling the comments on this blog, but decided against it. Instead, I'm making comments invisble to everyone. So if you disagree with me about something and you want to put in your two cents worth, that's fine. I'll see it. But I will not respond to it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The shame of publishing

The Infected is in print. Has been for a little while now. I'm asking $10 for a copy of it through Lulu. I get to pocket a bit less than $4 of that.

It is not a four star game. It's not even a two star game. It's workable. It can be fun. But it's far from awesome. I even did my own weak-assed layout work. That doesn't help the quality of the thing, I can tell you that. It's one more weak derivative work on the market.

So, who's that hurting? No one, I thought. But apparently I'm amongst a growing crowd of game designers who's gone and taken a shit in the breakfast burrito of the RPG community. The vibe is that crappy games with price tags are fucking up the world for everyone to live in. I'm not quite sure how it works, but it would seem that my game (or possibly it's price tag) is ruining someone's D&D game somewhere. Something about butterflies in China I think.

Look out everyone. I'm going to do it again real soon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I just finished watching the second season of Life on Mars. That completely rocked. Seriously. I spent the whole of the penultimate episode trying to guess what the secret answer was. When I thought I had it figured out, I felt dissapointed. When I considered if I would like the other possibility better, I didn't think I would. Then they hit me with the real ending. A complex ending. One that leaves you guessing and smiling.

Too many years of crappy formulaic television had me all cynical. Now I can add Life on Mars to my top ten list of best TV ever. Right on top of Dexter.

Friday, February 15, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Spoiler Warning

This evening Lisa and I went to see No Country for Old Men. We'd heard a whole bunch of folks talking about it, and I read some really nifty reviews, so we were off. And I really enjoyed it too. Right up until Llewellen died. From there everything was downhill.

It's not that all the scenes after Llewellen's death sucked under their own power. They could have been good. It's not that I was upset that he died. I figured he didn't have much chance against the assassin. That fucker was intense. The shit is, when Llewellen was denied a chance to do anything, I was pissed. I was invested in him. I wanted to see how his story would end. Instead I get some lame ass shit about the Mexicans killing him. The Mexicans? Seriously? They were just foils. And they killed the lead character? Off screen?

Fuck that. I hated that movie.

On the up side, the sound was occationally crapping out. So I got Lisa to complain about it and demand some free passes. We'll try again with something else on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[Sombra Console] Saving them wasn't enough

Something interesting happened in our last session of Sombra Console. Something I really did not expect.

If you're not familiar with it, Sombra Console is my clumsy hack of Shadowrun 2nd edition. It's fun, but far from elegant.

So, we were on our third session. We've just about acclimated to the setting and the rules, and we knew we were at the climax of the first mission. The 'runners had tracked down, called out, suckered and captured the bad guy. We started the session by talking about what they were going to do with him now that they had him. The players quickly settled on taking him to a little safehouse for some interrogating. Cool.

For a brief moment I mentally blanked and forgot that the mission was to find out what was going on. One interrogation roll and one hacking roll later and the 'runners had finished the mission. Whoops. It was only maybe thirty minutes into play. Not the greatest pacing job I'd ever done. So what was I to do? Escallate, of course!

That's when interesting thing number one happened. By way of a phone call from an associate, I reveal that the city blocks the characters were investigating was about to turn into a mini war zone. The PCs hurry over to get involved. When I describe the scene I go one step to far. Suddenly the situation looks completely out of reach for the PCs to do anything about. The players pull back and I can tell that I've accedentally gone and GM-blocked them.

Damn. Jumped the shark.

We resolved the situation by pulling back and getting all meta. We talked about what options seemed reasonable for their characters to pursue. Do nothing and go collect their money? Reasonable. Storm into one of the buildings and be the spear-head of the counter insurgency? Reasonable. Get on their stealth boat, sneak up to one of the aging military submarines, sneak onboard and take that sucker over? The lights go on again. Situation averted. A submarine is stolen, jacked into, and intentionally crashed into another submarine. Rock on.

Interesting thing number two was the aftermath. The PCs had not only figured out who was doing the dastardly deed, but they also got involved and stopped it. About ten thousand low income orks and trolls keep their homes. Mr. Johnson shows up and drops some bonus cash on them. They collect their sideline cash from the fishmonger who'd have gone out of business without the troll customers. I figured that would be the final curtain on that mission. A job well done and cash in hand.

I was wrong.

There wasn't even a heartbeat of a break between the narration of the cash handover and the discussion of how they were going to publically ruin the company that was responsible for this little bit of attempted racial clensing. Cybereye footage of the interrogation and bits of video that implicated the company were immediately sent out into cyberspace. News media were alerted. The Crimson Maple Leaf of Canada had their reputation on the island completely thrashed in about thirty minutes of game time.

In retrospect, I'm not sure how come I never saw it coming. I made those suckers out to be pure bastards. But I didn't, which made it even more sweet when we played it out.

Sombra Console is shaping up to be pretty damned interesting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ice in LEX

Apparently airplane de-icing fluid doesn't have an indefinate shelf-life. I did not know that. Also, I knew there were multiple types of fluid, but I didn't realize there were different types for different amounts of snow and ice. Makes sense, I just didn't know it.

So, it seems that the Bluegrass Airport in Lexinton doesn't carry the heavy stuff. It's too expensive to keep around for an every-other-year occurrance. So, here I am, sitting in the airport eating an omlette that's way too expensive for what it's worth, and waiting to see what I'll be doing today and tomorrow. Will any flights get in? If so, what will they do about my schedule since I was supposed to be in Charleston, West Virginia by 2pm? If no planes do come in, when will schedueling get around to releasing us back to our hotel?

I love being a flight attendant on small aircraft. Seriously. No sarcasm intended. I couldn't work a 9-5 job. No excitement.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tiny book binding

I don't have a huge collection of indie games, but I do have a pretty good selection. Something I noticed the other day is that I really hate perfect binding on little books. Dogs in the Vineyard, The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, and The Mountain Witch are all perfect bound and relatively hard for me to read. I guess it' because the pages won't lie flat. Drives me nuts. On the other hand, My Life with Master and In a Wicked Age are much easier for me to get into, just because they're saddle-stitched.

I had the Infected saddle-stitched on a whim. I'm really glad I did. All my published designs will be saddle stitched in the future.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's on!

Brandon has signed up for the long haul. RBH here we come!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I dropped a line to Mark about filling up the rest of my month with RBH. He's in and excited about it. Excellent. Now I just need to hook one more player...

Monday, February 4, 2008

More please

I want to play more. I wanted to play this past weekend, but I couldn't get enough folks together to do anything. Or maybe I just didn't try hard enough.

I'd really like to get something kinda long-term going. Well, I do have Sombra Console. That's pretty cool. Everyone seems to be really digging it. But I think that schedueling is gonna keep that thing down to one session a month. Which makes sense. Andy is one of the core members of that group, and he has an unbelievable amount of shit going on. I'm not going to press him to play anymore than he already is.

I think I'm going to do something right now about getting more game on. Watch me go.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cthulhu Hack

I like Call of Cthulhu. I really do. But it has so much dead weight and wasted potential. Where's the fun that could be inherent in going mad? Why does the character sheet have skills like accounting and zoology? Does zoology really come up that often?

So, naturally, I wrote up my own version of the game. You might be tempted to look at this thing and say that it's not a hack. But I stand by the lablel. This is a hack of my actual play experiences with CoC.

It's pretty rough. There's lots of unaddressed issues. Like what kind of mental disorders might eventually become part of the game. I'll work on that stuff when and if the time comes. If you'd like to take it and do something with it, then please, be my guest. It's all yours.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I'm back

A few months ago I had a total fit about my blog. I was frustrated with it. I was frustrated with game design. I was frustrated with gaming. But mostly I was just sleepy and grumpy after a long week at work. So I deleted the thing. It was kinda like the cyber version of breaking something. It felt good. Little tantrums that don't cause any real damage usually do feel pretty good.

But I've found myself wanting to have another place to post up my little ideas. The stuff that I may not finish, but I'm not ready to throw away. This will be the place.

I want to doodle more too. Lisa likes my doodles. Maybe you will too. I think I'll shoot for a doodle a week. I probably won't meet that goal very often, but it'll be a nice goal to have.