Monday, February 28, 2005


One of the neighbours hired me on Saturday to help cater a party she was holding for her husband's 50th birthday. I got me $10 an hour, with transportation paid for, for basically just making sure that the food was out on the table and there was enough booze out and open. It was a pretty sweet deal. Very little work on my part, and everyone was quite happy.

But something weird happened. I met a guy who was good friends a few years back with my boss. Now, Franco Augustino seems to know like half the people who are anyone in Toronto, by some weird restaraunteur's Correspondence magic I have yet to learn. So its statistically impossible that I'd never meet anyone who knew him. But someone who know him quite well...well that's really something. So now I have a business card for this individual, and will give it to my boss, who I hope will be very pleased. Said individual is also going to say good things about my catering skills. I am content.

Also, I handed in my essay on Saturday morning, so I only lost 5% off it. Not too shabby. I often forget how much I enjoy analyzing poetry. I just know so much stuff that its quite fun to pick out the little references.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

"Your bev-ir-age tastes ov carb-oe-nat-id cough s-ee-rup, you filthy k-nig-it!"


I bought a can of 360's "Black Cherry Soda". I like black cherry soda (espeically the stuff by Steward's). This tastes like carbonated Robatussin.

This is what you get for having a can of soda that has no glucose, artifical flavors, artificial colors, or perservatives. Dammit, soda NEEDS those things to taste good! Otherwise its just really crappy processed concentrate flavors in carbonated water!

Bah. End rant.

After LARP tonight I'll recount my first succesful, non-familial catering job. Hurrah.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Today's game

Today's game went surprisingly well, though we didn't get the adventure finished in the one session I'd hoped. What with James and Ryon arriving late, Nick having to leave early, and some expositional downtime stuff from the last session, the game got off to a late and rocky start.

But it picked up fast. I spent most of today wracking my brain for ideas on what to furnish a superhero scavenger hunt with, and with such amusing things as "a pint of mercury", "whatever's in the middle of the hedge maze", and "the keys to Dr. Granger's car", it went quite amusingly. I also threw in four, really bad riddles in the style of Wormwood's from the Batman: The Animated Series episode, "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy". They were awful riddles, but they were suitably obscure for people to have some fun pondering over them.

The game had one major combat, being between the Alphas and the Betas (funny, that). It was a pretty even match, which was quite amusing. Eventually the Alphas won becuase of higher Initative rolls (though one of the NPCs Alphas, Erick "Conquer Wyrm" der Vermiss took something like 5 RAPs of Body damage as a Beta, Kimberly "The Tangent" Morgonstern jump kicked him in the head with her Martial Arts 12), and the fact that several of the Betas made rather bad maneuvers that would have worked if they'd gotten higher in the Initiative order. James Aleister was doing just fine trying to parachute onto the flag pole to grab the flag, but Lisa's character used her Air Control to send the daredevil into a tree. Similarly, the Betas' resident sorcerer, the Writer, was spending the entire round just narrating what his magic pen was going to do next round...and fell afoul one of Nick's character's illusions.

Oh yeah...did I mention that I have the dice that Satan forgot? Everyone got freakishly good rolls today. There was at least one roll above 30 (James got a 37 or so in telepathic combat with someone), and several high 20s, and lots of high teens (accounting for how the Tangent, a puny girl with only Body 4 and Strength 3, managed to nearly take down the guy with metal bones). To make a long story short, the Alphas managed to win, congradulated the Betas on a good fight, and both teams went their seperate ways to grab more loot.

There was a rather large deal of property damage done on a subsequent raid of the Beta-Team dorm to grab a uniform (2pts per, 10pts if you can bring one from all four opposing teams!), including Ryon's character very nearly being stuck to the floor by the building's internal defense system (which rolled really badly on its attempts to shoot him). They managed to get a Sigma-Team uniform with much less trouble, as Lisa had the brilliant idea of suggsting to Courtney "The Spark" Hastings, the other Alpha NPC attached to the main player characters, that perhaps she should try to conduct her electrical form in through the window sill (which is designed to offer electrical shocks if someone of the opposite gender tries to get in). Courtney used her Teleportation 8 (only along electrical lines) and got inside the room, raided the closet, and got a uniform. However, as she was throwing it out for Lisa's character to catch with a gust of wind...the Omegas struck. Whip Scorpion, an Omega telekinetic, grabbed the uniform with one of his "claws", and began pulling it towards him (with a 19 on his roll he got it away from Lisa with a great deal of ease).

The second house raid was presaged by Lisa, Nick, and Courtney going off to navigate the hedge maze. They unfortunatly found that the maze, which was about 12 feet high, had a solid energy field over the top to keep people from cheating, and so Lisa directed Nick and Courtney (the NPC) around. Nick made himself and Courtney invisible to the Sigmas (an English gorilla named Soloman, a really big lion, and some Australian guy named Issac Bruce...with scoutwork along the top of the maze done by a foul mouthed British girl going under the named "Rocket-Heeled Jane"), and they managed to find the object at the center of the maze...a scintilating flag of red and blue that screamed when they pulled it out of the ground. At that point the force field vanished and Lisa lifted them out in a small cyclone. What happened next is going to give James' character a very bad reputation on campus.

While chasing the flag bearing Alphas, the Sigmas happened to get in the line of sight of James' character, who is a telepath. James engaged the lion in mental combat, and struck with a roll of 37. Thankfully this wasn't killing combat, or Lion-Hearted Joe would never have survived. As is he reverted to the form of a young African man, and lay on the ground twitching. James pulled a similar stunt on Soloman the next round, and dropped the gorilla with a roll of 17 or 18. This was rationalized after I spoke with James about his character not knowing his own strength. The telepathic combat was a purely nervous reaction ("Holy shit its a monster, I hit it with the only weapon I brain!"), and that his character is going to be rather scared of what he did, and really, really, REALLY sorry.

There was also a minor incident with Ryon figuring out a riddle about the school's bell tower, and meeting a Delta girl there who convinced him to push the button for her as well, since she'd technically gotten there first but wasn't able to get to where the button that would get her team the points for solving the riddle was.

And anyway, the session ended with the uniform being dragged away by Whip Scorpion. The next game will start with an introduction of the young Omegas. They're pretty nasty. There'll also be some meetings with other students they haven't run into yet. And I won't reveal too much, as I think some of my players may know where this blog is.

And now I go to sleep. I have an essay to finish tomorrow morning to hopefully not get penalized too much, and I have a catering gig tomorrow afternoon. Busy day, eh?

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Cold White Compress on the Gaping Wound of a Broken Heart

Fancy way of saying that my alarm clock didn't go off on Wednesday, causing me to miss my English class. It was on that day of class that the essay assignments due today were handed out. I was an idiot, and didn't even realize this I nearly went into hysterics today when I came to class and was informed that people were handing in the essays given out on Wednesday.

Thankfully...I have an understanding prof. So if I can get the essay in today or tomorrow, I only lose 5% off it.

And its snowing. Which makes me feel a lot better. The whole situation doesn't hurt so much, and after I eat lunch I should feel human enough to write the damn thing.

I really don't know WHY seeing it snow has this effect on me. I mean, I've always loved flurries, blizzards, and white outs, and really the winter in general. I loved working at Baskin-Robbins during the winter, and watching the fierce blizzards running around the parking lot of the minimall we were located in. Just outside our front doors, the wind through the snow around for hours. I loved it. In more recent years, I've really just enjoyed looking out the window and watching it snow. It just really gets to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Geek Code

I'm sorry. I just got so bored...

GC/L d- s+:+ a-- C++ U? P? L E? W++ N+ o? K w+ O? M V? PS+++ PE Y+ PGP? t- 5+ X+ R++ tv b+++ DI+ D+ G e++ h* r-- y

The Aggravation of Physics

I'm sitting here pondering the homework that's due for my Physics class in 2 hours time. I love this class. Its interesting, and the prof is very animate. Its probably one of my most enjoyable classes. I think I've learned quite a bit, more than I ever really learned in high school, where current electricity and frog dissection were the word of the day. The thing is, the class has homework.

Homework is not bad, in and of itself. Sure, I have a tendency to procrastinate until the last few minutes, but its not bad. The problem with this course is that the expectations for the homework aren't really clearly laid out. Questions are the proverbial "Summon Death" ritual from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. You can either do it with a huge ritual involving rare materials, or you can perform it with three toothpicks and 9ccs of mouse blood. Or, in this case, the questions either take two sentences, or two pages. I'm never really sure. The problem is that the questions are really brain exercises. They're not asking you to research something specific, but rather to apply the knowledge you have gained in class to a theoretical problem.

When they ask "How do we know that the strength of the magnetic field associated with the strip on the back of a credit card is very weak? (Do not bring a strong permanent magnetic close to a credit card!)" they're not asking you to write a treatise on how credit cards function. I think they honestly just want you to say that we can observe that the card's magnetic field doesn't appear to have any perceptible effect on the magnetic fields produced by other charged objects. I think.

See, therein lies the problem. I think that's what they want to know. But I could be wrong. Maybe I SHOULD be doing research into how magnetic strips work. It was never covered or mentioned in class, and I'm pretty sure that the homework is directly applicable stuff FROM class. At least, I know the first homework stuff was. So therein lies my problem. So I'm going to sit here and belt out everything I know about wave patterns, and all the stuff I can remember from Science World about how to make the fucking orb float in between two powerfully charged magnets. And all the while I feel like I'm trying to describe the workings of New Genesis technology in a discourse between Scott Free and Bruce Wayne. It seems TOO complicated. I'm applying theory that I'm not even sure is real.

Ah well. We shall see. And remember, in the words of a family friend, "Physics is our friend."

Monday, February 21, 2005

The wonders of a digital camera

For your amusement... new cane.

...JasonK, in his true form, without illusions, chicaneries, or obfuscation.

...and JasonK caught in a rather foolish pose.

Because my name is just so godamned cool...

Thanks to Strict31 for pointing out this to me today.

"After careful consideration, Freedom Force is pleased to welcome the latest member of the team... The Bard!

The Bard was submitted by Richard Iacono who walks away with his very own copy of Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich and a personalized sketch from character designer, Robb Waters. As if being able to say that your creation made it into a game wasn't enough. "

So apparently I got my wish. I'm a superhero now. Now I will spend years informing people that I was using this name first, before the game came out.

Why I Hate the Authority

In the beginning, it was good. The Authority under Warren Ellis was well written and had clear goals. Their enemies were interesting, challenging, and quite unlike much of what other superheroes were fighting. And they wanted to help the world.

I was given a copy of Coup D'Etat for my birthday, so I've been reading it. Some of its well written, mainly the parts involving Jack Marlowe/Spartan trying to explain to people that changing the world doesn't have to involve massive violence. The rest of it...the Authority has lost its way. Somewhere in between Ellis' run and now it's evolved from "There has to be someone left to save the world...and change it" to "Anyone with a US government paycheck must die becuase a small faction within the government is EVIL because they're stupid and greedy". It's gone from a high minded ideal of superheroes being socially responsible to a bunch of squabbling pre-schoolers who think that superheroes are only cool when they're slaughtering hundreds of people with a single blow.

Now, the Authority has always been willing to kill, becuase the villains they've been facing have always been too strange or impossible to reform or imprison (how do you imprison a giant alien the size of a planet that wants to destroy all life on Earth?), and that's fine. But when they start killing soldiers who's only crime is "I figured I'd go on a 5 year tour of service to be able to go to university", I draw the line. That's not gritty. That's not edgy. That's just plain hypocritical.

Furthermore, I'm getting really tired of parody after parody of George W. Bush. The man's an idiot, we all know that. So further parodies of trying to pack 10 Bush-isms into four panels is just getting silly.

I have lost hope for the Authority. Jenny Sparks is turning in her grave.

End rant.

Massive Accumulation

There was no snow when I went to LARP at 6pm. By midnight there was nearly half a foot of accumulation, and its still coming down. And winds blowing. And more snow.

Snow may well cancel school tomorrow. We can only hope.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Constantine (warning, Spoilers)

Ok, y'know what? It wasn't that bad. Yeah, Keanu can't act. The movie would have been a LOT more sensical if they had just named the main character something else, becuase it had NOTHING to do with the comics.

Well...almost nothing.

There were some glimmers of plot. Constantine having lung cancer and tricking the Devil into curing him is a plot right out of the original run of Hellblazer. Papa Midnight made an appearence (though I think he was more of a Swamp Thing villain than anything else), though notably as a very Christian sorta occultist, and without any sort of "computer fetish" to be seen. There's also the appearence of a bug creature that is reminiscent of the creature who's name I can't remember from Hellblazer: Original Sins.

Still, discounting Keanu and a few scenes (the crossbow was stupid...but at least he had to look up how to make it), the movie was decent. It had a very John Carpenter-feel to it. Gabriel was just COOL, and Lucifer wasn't too bad either. The Spear of Destiny being lost at the end of WWII is a nice nod to both DCU continuity, and to the movie version of Hellboy...though I swear that they used the exact same prop from that film for the Spear.

What was nice was finally seeing an occult movie that didn't involve pentagrams, candles, or invoking deities with silly names, or reciting badly rhymed spells. While they failed to really show John Constantine as he is in the comics, they certainly bring across the very direct route that he takes to magic. It wasn't quite chaos magic, but it was far closer to Morrison's Invisibles than to something like Charmed or Buffy. The heavy Christian imagery worked well, since it IS a big part of Hellblazer. And it didn't have the same feel that "God loves you, the Devil is just plain EEEEEEEEEEVIL, and Jesus is the only path to salvation" that many other Christian-inspired occult movies have. There was a much bleaker tone, like the one taken in the comics, where Heaven and Hell are quite a bit similar than many feel safe admitting.

At the same time, the movie does have some obvious annoying points. Keanu is a big one, as the man basically repirses the same set of facial expressions and dialogue characteristics that he used for Neo in the last two Matrix movies. The crucifix gun still irks me, even with the rationale included in the movie...and not just for the addition of a wand containing "dragon's breath". His sidekick was equally annoying...Constantine doesn't NEED a sidekick. Though Chaz's name WAS similar to "Gaz", who, as I recall, is the poor sod that Constantine buries alive at the end of Original Sins. Then there's the "big fight scene" where Constantine shoots out all the half-breed which the special effects for their deaths is basically stolen from Blade.

In summary, while the movie has some very nice aspects to it, there's a real problem with the fact that Keanu Reeves plays a character that is much more like Blade or Hellboy than John Constantine. If you just ignore the name, or have all the references to his last name dubbed over with "Smith", the movie is a lot more acceptable.

Another review of this movie can be found on JasonK's blog.

I give this movie 2 and a half would have three if Keanu weren't there. I think I'll pick up the DVD when it comes out.

Tales from The Way Down (part 1)

The Scar was so named because it was a gaping wound in the golden world. While around it teemed perfection and beauty, the Scar only got a pale reflection through dense black air. When first struck, it festered in the golden world. It infected. It corrupted. But even that small motion was now denied to it. The air above it was scabberous. Inside, things were defined by form and word. They were not golden. They were things of tarnish.

Necropolis sat in the center of the Scar. The lowest, deepest point, farthest from the light of the golden world. It was home to the worst forms of tarnish in existance. Its streets ran black with the stink of corruption by day. By night, they ran red with blood. Necropolis sported the largest conclave of the occult underground anywhere in the Scar. The detritus of the tarnish floated down like old paint flakes, settling to rest in the cracks in the floor.

And though Necropolis may have been the lowest point of the Scar, the Way Down was the lowest point of Necropolis. The name wasn't supposed to suggest that it was hip, or cool. It was not some slang term. It was, very simply, the way downwards. The lowest point of the city. Deep below the streets, where not even the slightest glimmer of the golden world ever reaches. Where the tarnish traded in baubles of power, reflections of hope, the stuff that dreams are made of.

Mimir owned the Way Down. They say that he climbed to the highest point of the Scar and tried to kill himself to enter the golden world. He cut off his head and threw it out of the pit. But one of the golden beings there would not take him, so they cast him back down. For his folly, his head was reattached, and he was bound into the deepest pit of the Scar. There he dug out a room. And in that room he began the Way Down.

Mimir's only companion was Judas Janet. They say that she found the last pieces of the Holy Grail and had its silver melted down into thirty studs, each no larger than a tack. She had them pierced around her ears, brows, lips, and nose. It was said that around each is written, in Latin, "I am so damned". Janet was Mimir's friend, confidant, lover, and front-woman. That taint of her heinous deed protected her from all but the most potent of sorceries born of reflections of the golden world.

How Mimir and Judas Janet came to meet is quite a story. One that is definitly worth the telling.

(end part 1)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

O Nostos ("The Return")

I'm back.

Yesterday my mother and I went to Granville Island, a rather large market-type shoppy area in Vancouver, where we bought ingredients for her AMAZING seafood chowder (easily the best I've ever tasted), along with some buns, cakes, and the like. I really enjoy Granville Island. The scenery is beautiful, and the huge meat/fish/produce/whatever market area is quite astounding. This is really the first time I've gotten any pictures, though, and I'm going to set up a photo album once I've edited them all down to size and cleaned them up a bit.

Last night I was treated to mom's chowder, and my stepfather, Jerry, devised a rather intricate and functional way for me to transport my cane on the flight (involving a triangular box, styrofoam packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and a Red Green-style amount of packing tape). So that got on all well and dandy, and I now have it unwrapped and undamaged. Oh yeah, and mom made me some peanut butter cookies. Go mom!

Then this morning I left.

The flight took a mere 4 hours, was nearly empty, and meant that I got a window seat by the emergency exits (thus more leg room), and had a rather interesting conversation with a British man who's lastname was Rockford (or something to that effect), who drank rather profusly and popped sleeping pills like Skittles.

This resulted in me getting a rather interesting education in his job (arranging conference locations as a freelance consultant or something of that sort), British politics as opposed to American politics (and how Blair apparently gave the Left a decent electoral chance), and dog sledding (which he quite enjoys in Canada's frigid North). He was a neat guy, and I had quite a bit of fun talking to him, though the conversation meant that I was only able to finish Mister Miracle and read the seventh volume of Sandman all the way through. I got a good portion of my reading done after he rendered himself unconscious for the last hour of the flight. I think he'd had a rough day.

We arrived, and I got my baggage without too much trouble. Took the TTC back to dorm, and I am now preparing to go see Constantine. I have no expectations. If you see a report in the Toronto papers about someone screaming at a movie screen to "shut the bloody hell up" or "sod off, you dirty little toerag", and very possibly screaming "Alec Holland, oh how we miss thee!" not be alarmed. I have few doubts that someone will post bail.

In other news, I have given Nancy some chocolate. She seems happy, and I think she and Trish are going to come to LARP tomorrow. While I miss BC, I am still content.

All photos I have stated I took while there will be posted in short order. There will be a post announcing the updates.

Friday, February 18, 2005

"First we feast, then IKEA"

-from Christopher Moore's "The Stupidest Angel"

Moore just came up with possibly one of the greatest zombie scenarios of all time: an idiotic angel raises a cemetary of the undead to grant a child's Christmas wish that the Santa he saw killed come back from the dead. And, affected by the laws of narrative causality, the zombies came back wanting BRAINS!

This would make a great All Flesh Must Be Eaten scenario. The zombies are slow moving, about as strong as they were in life (perhaps a bit less), rotting, crave brains constantly...and they're SMART! They have some sense of tactics, they can talk, and they can shout your dirty secrets in the windows. Oh yeah...and a strange obsession with IKEA. There's also a limited number of them, and there probably won't be more (unless Raziel fucks up again).

"For some reason...the dead love cheap prefacb furniture."
-Christopher Moore

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


The Meredith Gentry Novels by Laurell K. Hamilton
I finished the third Meredith Gentry novel by Laurell K. Hamilton yesterday. I've been following the Anita Blake stuff for years, and watched as it slowly turned more and more into mindless porn. The MG novels have, however, been rather different. There's porn in them, but there's an actual reason for it, and I was really impressed that the most recent one had only one actual sex scene...everything other than that was largely magical allagories for sex...but nowhere near as explicit.

However, dispensing with that, the books are well done. Hamilton builds and interesting, intricate, and fascinating world of faerie living in modern America. The books are far superior to Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge and Bedlam's Bard novels, where the Seelie are bright, beautiful, and good, and he Unseelie are ugly and evil. Rather, Hamilton creates a faerie cosmology where the two courts are just as bad, but for differnt reasons. The fae really do come off as alien, creatures of incredible power who think and do things that just don't make sense to humans. Their politics are intricate, and diverse, and the courts exist in a far greater sense than "Sidhe are good and smart, everyone else is servile". While there IS plenty of that (especially in the Seelie), its clear that all the other fae races have their own sense of pride...and some of them are just as dangerous as the sidhe (pronounced "she" for all you folks who always wondered).

The setting is the sort of thing that I would LOVE to play in. Its Changeling done the way it could have been. There aren't really any games that can handle modeling the series, though Dark Ages: Fae and Exalted: The Fair Folk could come close. There are aspects of the way the setting works that I want to incorporate into Vigo the Gladiator, an Angel: The RPG (by Eden Studios) character I play in one of AlexanderLambert's games. Vigo is a 2100 year old Redcap prince, and I've been doing some work on designing the political and social dynamics of the weird little dimension of Faerie that he originated from. Its always amusing.

Jack Kirby's Mister Miracle

Been reading this over the last few days. Its a much easier, more approachable book than New Gods, and I'm enjoying it a lot more. However, a few things have occured to me.

Mister Miracle uses a LOT more gadgets than a conventional escape artist. His skills are only partially based on actual skills, and dispraportionatly based on his technology. The man uses a freaking MOTHER BOX to perform his escapes. Of course, there IS something incredibly amusing about watching Scott Free get strapped to a nuclear missile and try to escape.

Also, I have a new favourite Jack Kirby line. When Big Barda lifts a huge Civil War cannon over her shoulder with one hand, one guy watching comments: "This 'Women's Lib' thing is gett more serious than I thought!!" Mind Barda is lifting the cannon whilst wearing what I jokingly call her "mega-bikini" (...the woman is dressed like some female just seems kind of odd...though it DOES play up he fact that she's something like 6'5").

Overall, though, I'm enjoying the book. It's got some nice stuff in it.

Travel Log (Vancouver 2005) #1

Arrived in Vancouver, from Toronto, on Saturday afternoon after a 5 hour flight. Got about 5 hours of sleep the night before, owing to the fact that, out of four power plugs in my room divided between two outlets, only two plugs work (one in each outlet), which meant that I had to play around to get my fridge to start working again, and similarly with the extension cord that my clock runs off of (so...y'know...I'd be able to get up in the morning). This was followed by a massive garbage and fridge cleanup. So I got to bed around about 4am.

10am saw me taking the TTC over to Pearson International for my 1:10pm flight. Got there almost exactly 2 hours early, and got my tickets with, get lineup. There were no lines. For anything. Not even security. My plane was 45 minutes late because they were canceling other flights due to lack of passengers and funneling them on to MY flight.

Trip was...meh. It was 5 hours on a cramped plane. Movie was Ladder 51 (possibly 49, I can't remember), which as far as I can tell has no actual plot so much as just trying to say "firefighters are cool". Oddly enough, while it was billed on the plane as "John Travolta in...", Travolta is only a secondary character. I paid attention to the movie for about fifteen minutes, then went back to reading. Managed to finish The New Gods, Small Gods: Killing Grin, and Books of Magic: Life During Wartime. Small Gods was EXCELLENT, it was a good cop drama with a nice sci-fi twist (one person in every thousand has psychic powers). Life During Wartime was good, but a bit hard to follow at times...I think it really needs to have a prologue at some point, as it didn't satisfactorily explain just HOW and WHY things were happening. I am also happy to announce that plane food is still inedible.

Had a nice dinner when I arrived home of baked salmon, rice and brocolli casserole, caesar salad, and garlic bread. I also nearly passed out several times that night, but managed to stay conscious.

Sunday morning was uneventful, though I DID manage to pick up a really nice, carved wooden cane (picture forthcoming, but as a hint...its a Chinese-style dragon), a few DVDs (Batman: The Animated Series Volume 2, Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow, and The Bourne Supremacy). The BtAS discs will combine with my Superman discs to form a "World's Finest" marathon over at Vic in a week or two. Its gonna rock.

After much planning, JasonK managed to hook up with me on Sunday. He drove up from Seattle, and we hung out for most of the day. Pictures of him and the town of Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby, and New Westminster will be forthcoming when I return to Ontario...along with a few good shots of Jason.

Showing Jason around Coquitlam very much reminded me of showing AlexanderLambert around Toronto. I felt like one of those cheesy food shows, you know...the ones with titles like "$40 a Day", "We Tour Canada!"...though without the coolness factor of "A Cook's Tour". Took him to Purdy's Chocolates, possibly the finest chocolatiers in all of Canada (URL forthcoming when I remember it). Also New Westminster Quay, with its fine selection of...well...almost everything.

Jason is, honestly, one of the coolest people I know. We spent HOURS just talking about our favourite RPG, Mage: The Ascension, comics, TV (mainly Kim Possible), and all sorts of other stuff. There was much amusing talk over the old New Bremen chats, Adventure! stuff, and much laughing over Gamma World.

He stuck around for dinner at one of the best Italian restaraunts in the Tri-City area (Dino's), then we went back to my place for some tea, then he left. All in all it was a good day. There will be pictures!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

First Game Blues

Ok, today was a failure on so many levels.

First off, three of my players (James, Nick, and Ryon) were sick, so RP was lessened. Nick came 45 minutes late, after printing off a character who was just short of unplayable...that he had never bothered to tell me about before he came (he had an illusion-based PC originally...the new character he came up with was like Geo-Force Junior). So I had to take him aside and explain to him why playing an Eastern European noble with amazing powers who can't stand being on holy ground was not an accetable character choice for a game about super-powered teenagers.

The game was OK for the fact that it was mostly just introducing the setting, and the players had fun, but everyone but Lisa was just too bombed from illness to play. Which is REALLY unfortunate, because I was totally psyched for today. Next game should be better, as there's some obvious conflict involved...I just have to figure out a list of crazy shit for them to grab during the scavenger hunt and impress upon them the need to...y'know...roleplay getting it rather than just do the "roll, I win" strategy.

So I have a task ahead of me. Wish me luck.

A consideration on Harry Potter, magic systems, and d20

So I've been reading the Harry Potter books lately, and I think I realized something. D20 really IS the game system to run it in, becuase the books are very much level based.

Well, more to the point, a d20-Ars Magica hybrid engine. Graft the Ars Magica spell system over onto d20, allowing for a greater customization of spells in specific levels and styles, along with "Feats" to simulate having greater or lesser numbers of spells.

The books suggest that its not just knowing the words and wand movements to a spell that are important, its the understanding of the spell itself. The simple stuff ("Wingardiam leviosa", "Alohamora", and "Lumos") can be learned in an hour or so, as shown by most of the characters learning the use of very simple spells in a single class, while others are more difficult and require either skill ("Accio"), mindset ("Crucio"), or pure will ("Avada kedarva") to function. Mad Eye Moony comments in Goblet of Fire that the students could fire off the Killing Curse at him all day and they'd not give him so much as a nose bleed becuase they aren't trained in its use.

Additionally, the wand is nessecary for magic (for some wizards, at least, IIRC Lupin, Dumbledore, Voldemort, and others sometimes cast spells without a wands OR words), and while a wizard is best with his own wand, we've seen characters perform magic with someone else's (and the horrible effects of Ron using a broken wand...or Hagrid's success with half a wand inside an umbrella). I therefore hold that wizards should get bonuses with their own wands, penalties with other people's, and thus be able to cast with anything wand-like.

I thus put forward that, for students, they be statted out by Year. Each Year gives greater bonuses to various categories, more skills, and a greater repetoire of spells (like Hermione, who starts her first year with seemingly twice as many spells as anyone else). There would then be Feats for taking more spells, and negative Feats for less, as well as Feats for the various weird tricks that characters show (Parselmouth, Wormtail's weird affinity with rats, being an Animagus, etc.). Spells should be grouped under the various classes (Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, etc., with subclasses for hexes, curses, and the like...and an entire class, in and of itself, for the Dark Arts). Spell descriptions would, of course, be enhanced by giving the words to cast the spell, and any nessecary wand motions.

After student levels, I'd probably suggest grading by OWL or NEWT, and perhaps provide some story-driven level based mechanic similar to the one presented for Green Ronin's Blue Rose.

I admit, I analyze the magic system within Harry Potter FAR too much sometimes. But I find that aspect thoroughly enjoyable. I look forward to the sixth book, though Order of the Phoenix was rather annoying at times, as I didn't like Rowling's attempt to handle a dystopia. It just wasn't all the great, and didn't make all that much sense at times. I think she's attempting to put far too much political commentary into the books, and I hope that the sixth is more in the tradition of Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, than Order of the Phoenix and Chamber of Secrets.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Gamma World

There are some things that the folks at White Wolf understand about d20 products, and there are some things they don't. The Trinity Universe d20 products were horrible (as can be seen by my trio of reviews on, about Adventure! d20, Aberrant d20, and Trinity d20), Ravenloft was neat, and Gamma World...

...Gamma World was beautiful, mainly because it is a game that has never aimed at being serious. Well, it CAN be serious, true. You can run post-apoc sci-fi D&D dungeon crawls with it, if you want. Or A Boy and His Dog scenarios with it. Its just such an incredibly rich setting, especially with veteran Trinity Universe writer Bruce Baugh at the helm.

But what I really love about it is that it has a 207 page long monster manual that's actually FUN to read. A book where every creature gets a picture, a visual description, and about twice as much info on its biology and actions as it gets on its combat abilities. The book is essentially "The Book of Things That Want To Eat You". Becuase believe me, in Gamma World...EVERYTHING wants to eat you. It is entirely possible that you will be walking along one day and be attacked by a carnivorous piece of granite (which may try to bite you, or it may spew out radioactive nanites that disintigrate you...whatever floats the GM's boat). The book's animal life generally comes into three categories: stuff that wants to eat you, stuff that wants to rule the world, and stuff that wants to be cute, cuddly, and edible. There are plenty of critters that will kill you in one way or another to eat you. There are others that want to kill you so they can use your weapons to take over the town (this includes the 5 foot tall penguins who are pissed off because humans laugh at them...which would be relativly harmless if the penguins didn't have the attitudes of convicted spree killers and stockpiles of fully functional energy weapons). And there are the things who have combat profiles like: "The Watch-cat's main combat strategy is to jump into its opponent's arms and hug him".

The corebook also read pretty well. It was really meaty on the rules, it had to be, but it was powered by d20 Modern rather than Dungeons & Dragons, so it was passable. I'm seriously thinking of picking up more books from this series.

The Exhaustion That is Work

First full house in two months tonight. We did something like 80 or so people tonight, which is twice what we've done any night since New Years. It was great. HOnestly. I always get butterflies after a long calm leading up to a rush, but it always goes well. At least, since this summer.

I spent 4 months working for my room and board. Totally on my own. And I learned about 10 times as much as I ever had before. One thing I learned, the thing that I'd never really had a chance TO learn before, was how to handle rushes. I did 120 or 130 one night without help. That was the big turning point for me. That's when I realized "Fuck, I can DO this!" No more fear. No more nervousness during a rush. Just getting things done as they came. I developed systems, methods, ways of doing things that were totally different from anything I'd done before. I learned to find that zen-like calm that comes when you're working hard.

Now, mind, 80-90 people was an average night this summer. The only thing really special about tonight is that since New Years we haven't done more than 30 people a night. Hell, this is the first Thursday night I've worked SINCE New Years. Which is good...becuase I need the money.

Still...we're back.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

On the Beauty of Second Snow

It's snowing again.
It hasn't snowed in nearly two weeks.
In fact, all the snow
is damn near melted and gone.

But its snowing again.
There's a chill in the air.
That frost snap crack of breath,
And the aching pain in bad joints.

Thank fucking god,
Its snowing again.
A cold front comes from the North
Hurrah...take THAT groundhogs!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Three Cities from my DC Heroes Game

Here's a portion of an email I recently sent to my DC Heroes group, profiling the three big cities in the superhero setting I've designed. The first real session starts this Friday, and I'm pretty confident that thing are going to go well...if one of my players can properly get his concept together, even after he apparently had a solid one at character generation.

More info on the setting will follow soon.

Victory City, Delaware, is analogous to Metropolis. It has an incredibly large superhero population. Its sprawling, advanced, and very modern. While there is a certain degree of homelessness, with the help of the city's numerous heroes almost everyone has some place to sleep, though crime, especially super-crime, is still a major problem. It's home to the Victory Clan (the setting's version of the Fantastic Four), Excelsior (the setting's Superman, a public identity hero who spends far more time writing comics than fighting crime, in his real identity as Matthew Noblem he is an award winning comic writer and artist for the setting's version of DC: MT Comics), and Captain Orion (one of the world's oldest heroes, he's been fighting crime since 1932 and hasn't slowed down since, he's a public identity science hero, considered to be the greatest physicist of the 20th century, he uses a complex technology of his own design that harnesses some odd energy source that seems to involve Superstring Theory, he is known in the science community by his real name of Doctor Charles August Pendleton).

Neopolis, New Jersey, is analogous to Gotham City. It was built as a huge piece of Art Deco architecture over a smaller mostly Dutch town of New Arnham back in the 1920s. The Depression hit it hard, though, and while half the city is a sprawling artistic masterpiece (that looks very much like the Batman: The Animated Series Gotham), the rest of it is dilapidated and half finished slums (which have even enroached into the site of the 1932 Worlds Fair). The city has a harsh divide between Haves and Have Nots, as the finished half of the city on the North side of the river Arnham houses the upper and upper middle classes, and the South side, across the Archer Bridge, houses the lower middle class and everything below. The spread of crime in the last decade, however, has been pushed back by the actions of the city's most notorious hero, the Black Dog (the setting's Batman, except his motif favors that of a giant, feral black mastiff), though the fight has been joined in recent years by one of Captain Orion's old sidekicks, Star Knight (who uses a glowing gold suit of hard-light armor fashioned to look like a sleek, technological version of medeival full plate), and a number of other, lower powered heroes. The city is also home to Archer Industrial, a massive multinational corporation run by a man named Chen Yi. Yi has been running his company for some twenty years, after taking over from his father upon the older man's murder by mafia thugs. However, about ten years ago he vanished for several years, only returning five years ago, a much more ruthless individual. Archer Industrial produces everything from computers to foodstuffs to construction materials. It employs about a twentieth of Neopolis' population, in one form or another.

Bay City, California, is analogous to San Fransisco. There are few major heroes in Bay City, but there are a lot of supernatural goings on. The Misty Bridge is said to be haunted by no less than 50 different ghosts of workers who died during its construction, and rumors abound that some of the citys most respected businessmen are werewolves and sorcerers. Those heroes who do take an interest in Bay City are mostly supernaturally powered themselves, and have included such individuals as the Animatrix (a hip, cyperpunkish hero who seemed to be able to control machines), and the Bogie (a black and white Humphrey Bogart people say, who had a short career of only about six months before he mysteriously vanished).

Three days, 9 1/2 hours, and four discs later...

Wow. I mean holy Every night for the last three days I've watched one of the Lord of the Rings movies on DVD. My father gave me Fellowship and Return for my birthday, not extended but at least in widescreen, and last Christmas gave me the Towers in extended format. So...yeah. A lot of watching.

I have to say that the trilogy is easily one of the greatest movie epics of all time. Its how the Matrix SHOULD have been. But I'm saying stuff that, undoubtedly, all my readers already know.

Now, I enjoy Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but somehow watching those trilogies in a set just can't compare with this. It's

As a side note, I revise my earlier theories and feelings. Robert Jordan stole equally as much from Lord of the Rings as he did from Dune. Still...there is that third novel sitting on my shelf...le sigh, I suppose I'll subject myself to The Dragon Reborn one more time, for completness' sake.

I'm thinking up picking up The Silmarilion, though, and I'm sure I spelled that wrong. Still, while I hear it's quite dry I'd like to learn a bit about the history of Middle Earth.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

You'll never outfox the Fox!

For those of you not familiar with the movie, The Court Jester, I suggest you find yourself a copy and watch it for a very, very long, good time. Starring such luminaries as Danny Kaye, Angela Landsbury, and Basil Rathbone, the movie tells the story of Hawkins, a mild mannered entertainer who basically falls in with Robin Hood (The Black Fox, subject of a truly humorous song "You'll Never Outfox the Fox"). He then has to go infiltrate the castle to get the rightful heir on the throne, in between musical numbers, an impromtu knighting, and some truly ingenious impersonations.

It is an incredibly hilarious musical comedy. It's wonderfully absurd, and quite cunningly written. If you can find it, see it.

And remember: "The flagon with the dragon has the pellet that is poison and the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true."

Friday, February 04, 2005

A sport I'd never even considered

Jigsaw Thoughts is one of the few blogs I read. I'm not really sure how I got into it, but the author is a geek, a gamer, and I just never really stopped. She's pretty cool, though, and pointed out this link.

Wheelchair fencing. I'd never even considered it as an idea. I had a friend who did wheelchair jiu jitsu (I asked her how it worked, she said "its Jiu Jitsu with no kicks"...duh...), but fencing? Now, I used to fence...and a lot of what I was taught was foot work...but this...this is almost getting back to the pure form of fencing: wrist work and point work. You can't dodge in a locked wheelchair, you have to parry.

It's a cool idea. It's on par with Oracle doing escrima cool. It's something that I think I'm going to put into a script at some point. And I have just the right idea of where.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I am now 21

Yeah. It's midnight. I've now survived 21 rotations of the Earth. 3 cycles of 7 years. I am now legal to drink in the US. If I had really wanted, I could have taken a bus at around 10pm to New York state that would have crossed the border at around midnight. This is useless information.

Anyway, so now I'll enjoy some beer and chocolate cake, then go to bed. Then tomorrow I'll have a sushi lunch with my father, and go home and have a really nice dinner out, and presents. Then, the week after next, I'll be in British Columbia seeing the rest of my family (as well as JasonK, who's decided to visit).

All is well.

A Good Day

Its been a Good Day. Mom sent me a bit of extra cash out of the blue (she later recieved a slightly worried call as I called to ask if she knew where the money had come from, as I was half afraid I'd entered the deposit for my paycheck incorrectly into the ATM), so I bought a couple DVDs (The Court Jester and Scanners I), grabbed the rest of the Fourth World TPBs, as well as the latest Books of Magic and Small Gods TPBs. Also picked up the Demo Scriptbook by Brian Wood (creator of Channel Zero). One of these days I'm actually going to sit down with my Powers, Queen & Country, and Demo scriptbooks, Absolute Planetary, and 1602 and write up a big old set of point-to-point comparisons of each writer's scripting styles. I also have a friend who's an indi comic writer, and I may try to get a script or two off him to look at.

I also waited in line today to get my Health Card renewed. For those of you not living in the land of Northern ice and snow and igloos (and polar bears!), in Canada we have universal health care. The way this is handled is that all citizens are assigned a Health Card, with a number, their picture, and their permanent adress. This is required at all hospitals and the like, and guarantees treatment (more or less). Anyway, the photo ID Heatlh Cards expire every 5 years on your birthday. My birthday's coming up (there will be a surprise announcement). The offices of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (at least I think that's what OHIP stands for) are all the way in the hellborn back of beyond (Yonge & Shepphard). So up there I trudged and waited for 45 minutes or so, and then had to explain to the nice lady (she was nice, to be honest) why my signature had changed over the course of the last 5 years, and why I didn't want to have to apply for a new Health Card in April because I'd left residence (I managed to convince her that Oakville was my permanent residence because I got most of my mail there). Anyway, it all worked out in the end. Then I got comics.

I also got to eat at a nice little Himilayan restaraunt tonight. Big old $20 feast...that gives sufficient food to make even ME full. Tandoori chicken and prawn, lamb curry, Himilayan sausage, sauteed okra, basmati rice, tandoori naan, rice and pork soup, rice pudding, and sauteed onion...dear god was it filling. And never disappointing. The guys at "Kathmandu" (on Yonge Street down from Wellesly) restaraunt know how to cook.

And now I watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I am happy. It has been a good day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Ivy on the River Isis

As the Thames flows into Oxford it becomes the Isis, or so I am told. It runs through a town built around a university, a university considered to be one of the greatest, and most famous, of its ilk in all the world. It is called the City of Dreaming Spires, which to me sounds more like a Camarilla domain name, or a setting book for Exalted. It has educated and employed some of the greatest literary minds of our time. Tolkein, Lewis Carrol, T.S. Elliot, and many others.

And, if everything goes well (which it ought to), I shall be walking those very same streets this August as part of a University of Toronto "Study Abroad" program. They'll be housing us at Jesus College, and we get 3-day weekends and, barring fieldtrips, regular days of classes that end at noon.

I think I shall also use this experience to see the family. For those that don't know, I'm 2nd generation Canadian (well, 2nd and 3rd) on both sides of my family, with my relatives equally being from England and Wales. The last time I saw the family was back...oh back about 4 or 5 years ago. Its been a long time coming. I figure I'll maybe spend 2 weeks touring the country with relatives, and then bunk in at the residences we're using at Oxford and start with the schooling. The prof seems fantastic (well, he's from Victoria College, so of COURSE he's good (Yay Vic!).

Pseudoscience concept realized at 2am on way too much Jack Kirby

(The following rant is made with only a basic knowledge of Physics, and is largely to be considered bunk and/or hooie. It also depends a lot upon my faulty knowledge of super-string theory. Please feel free to tell me I'm a quack. I go very well with orange.)

The anti-gravity circuit. Assuming that everything vibrates at a specific and unique frequency, then there is a frequency to gravity. Ergo there is a counter frequency to negate gravity. Ergo you can get something to vibrate in that counter frequency, negate gravity, and set an entire object vibrating to negate gravity. Ergo I have a pseudoscientific reason for how an entire alien civilization can have stupid levels of advancement, through super-string theory, and have their entire technology consist of lots of pieces of well designed metal and stone and large amounts of copper wiring.

Additionally, it should be noted that in this case this isn't anti-gravity, but really more of a gravity bubble. It is not a replusion against gravity, but rather a negation of gravity, thus causing the object to float on gravitic fields. This is also the explanation given for how one of the characters, Excelsior, in my DC Heroes TT game can fly: he has the effective density of a neutron star condensed down to human form. He can exert his personal gravitic field, which is much greater than the Earth's, to repel himself from the Earth's surface and then "skip" (like a stone over water) across the Earth's gravitic field, effectivly flying by slingshotting himself across the planet. Needless to say, he can go very fast and its a very good thing that he's nigh invulnerable. In space presumably he flies by deciding his effective gravity and thus being pulled/pushed towards/away from whichever point in space he wishes to go by using the complex gravity wells throughout a solar system (also, presumably, in between star systems he may well be screwed).

Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" (exclamation mark)

My keyboard is not broken, I'm just making a joke regarding Kirby's style. Anyone who's reading anything by him, especially stuff like The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mister Miracle will know what I'm talking about.

Now, I'm not knocking him. Kirby single handedly built a full mythos for DC, complete with an explanation of WHY superheroes exist. He generated his own mythology and his own pantheon just for kicks. And the man just kept putting shit out. I've got a lot of respect for someone who can write, draw, and edit at least three monthly books at the same time. Not just write. Write. Draw. AND edit. You gotta give him props for that.

Kirby gave DC a theoretical reason for the existance of all superhumans, a common source that allowed within it all the different power sources that the characters had. Very simply: superheroes are the new gods. No matter where they get their powers from, they are the result of the old gods dying. All hail the God-Wave.

That's another thing I really like about Kirby: his names may be cheesy, but they're fun. "God-wave", "Astro-force", "Mother box", "Boom-tube", these are all just plain FUN names. JasonK once pointed out to me that M5.5mith's "Maybe Machine" (which was a fun word I was using for a Trinary) sounded very Kirby-esque. I agree with him now. I like this whole concept of Fun Words...just words that are fun to say. Weird stringing togethers of words that create neat little concepts in and of themselves.

So yeah...I'm reading the black and white TPB reprint of The New Gods right now. I think later this week I'll pick up the TPBs for Mister Miracle and The Forever People, just to be complete. I think they're also books I'm going to keep on my shelf at university, at that's a high honor indeed (you can generally tell what sort of games, scripts, or stories I'm currently writing by what books are on my shelf, and how they're stacked).