A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hit Points

Quick and random thing to share (or at least, make available to myself for when I'm curious about it again later on)

Regarding hit points, specifically in 4e D&D:

Of course they talk about how hit points are abstracted, and healing is sortof abstracted too, but then they mention it in a way that I hadn't considered it before.. Getting "hit" and taking "damage" reduces your hit points, but for narrative purposes, perhaps you're not really getting injured and at risk of dying until you're just a whack or two away? All of those other hit points are just a measure of how the fight is going for you.

Dunno, it caught my eye :)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An old computer game

So I've been trying to remember or find an old computer game that I played on my Amiga 500 back sometime around 1992-1994. It was a global strategy game, in which, as I recall, you played as the leader of some kind of U.N. organization, who's main task was finding and fighting some kind of secret global terrorist group. Nations of the world would do stuff, and you could respond by lodging complaints and stuff. I never had a manual, so I was sortof in the dark, but I recall that part of hunting down this global terrorist group was that there was a radio interface of some kind, that would scan some global radio network for chatter, and you could pick up chatter from various nations, about their plans, or possibly this secret group you were after. If you thought you knew where the bad guys were, you could send some kind of response team after them. I never caught the bad guys, but I'd love to remember what game this was.

Also, one of my favorite old school games: Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator

UPDATE: It's this game: http://hol.abime.net/2729 Armageddon Man!

Friday, January 11, 2008

D&D ramble

So why am I excited about D&D 4e? I'm still trying to solidify the concept in my own mind.

I enjoyed the heck out of some D&D awhile back, before three things happened:

1. I found other exciting games and game concepts

2. I got frustrated with the tedious mechanisms of D&D

3. There were some player issues with the D&D group I was playing with.

I think I've run into two big hurdles in the last couple of years with my non-D&D gaming.

1. Alot of my available player base are interested in simple concepts like "leveling up", and killing monsters.

2. I've had a fair amount of difficulty bending systems to do what I want.

To address that second point - I've been running a Werewolf game that I've been enjoying alot, but I've found the dice and game mechanics often to be restricting to me. I've been in almost total narrator mode, which means that when dice start telling me things that I didn't intend to be saying, it throws me a curve. I would be in mid-game, when it occurred to me that what I wanted to have happen next, and what the players wanted and expected to happen next were different, and that the players were using the system exactly in the way that they are supposed to in order to achieve these results that they desired. So I found myself a deer in headlights a few times. It makes in hard, in those circumstances to bend the rules to my whim, when the dice are lying on the table, and the player is staring at me with big childlike eyes wanting to have been successful. So it kept occurring to me that at least some of my players are still playing D&D, just with werewolves and with different dice mechanics. You can take the gamer out of D&D, but you can't take D&D out of the gamer, it seems.

So, I don't mean this to sound like I want to play D&D just as a last resort and because nothing else worked, although I do feel just a tad like I'm throwing up my hands. I kinda want to play D&D because, well, I like rewarding my players with what they want. And they want to kill monsters and level up. What better medium for that than D&D.

I hate the tone of this post, but I'm pressing on anyway.

I'm excited about D&D4e for a few reasons:

1. Cleaning up mechanics in a big way. Obviously, 4e is not out yet, and so I can only make assumptions based on what I'm seeing in the info released sofar. But one of my big gripes with D&D was how mechanically stupid, unfun, tedious and boring it was.

2. Cleaning up how the game is played. Another thing I hated about D&D was how tedious and boring playing it could be. Who's excited about playing a 1st level wizard? I'm trying not to fall prey to reading each snippet and retconning my thoughts on D&D to meet the latest cool snippet, but I do like alot of the snippets I've seen.

3. The chance to connect with a couple of current players, and maybe a few people who I haven't gamed with in some time, using a medium that we all can understand. With werewolf sometimes I felt like I was playing Axis and Allies while someone else was playing Risk, and as you can imagine, it felt a little forced and awkward. Sure, sure, I accept responsibility for this, though its not like I didn't try to communicate and get everyone onto the same page.

Whew, that felt mighty rambly and not structured at all, but now that I've purged most of that from my system I feel better.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More politics

As I've mentioned, I wish that Kucinich could score the dem nomination and eventually the white house. But I'm not holding my breath. But I could live with Obama on the ticket, and in the white house. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Barack_Obama

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Coffee Crisis

I'm a big fan of coffee. Its kindof one of my things. I drink coffee. Sometimes when I travel, I take coffee with me, so that I'll have my own coffee to brew in the hotel room/campsite.

Over christmas/newyears I came down with a nasty headcold, and started doing eccenacia tea with honey in it. Then I did a little green tea. So its been about two weeks since I've had a cup of coffee, and, well, I'm not sure that I want to go back to coffee.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And now, some pictures

A couple of pictures, taken already, this new year.

Yazhi is a hoot, you see....

We have a rule that Yazhi is not to get onto the furniture. But we are suckers, and she is mighty cute. So you see, what has happened is that she has learned that as long as her back feet are touching the ground, she's in good shape. What this means is that we will have 85% of the dog on the couch, like the pic above, or on the bed, with just her back feet on the ground. Yeah, I'm a sucker.

Also, as I've mentioned, Rock Band is a ton of fun.

That's Maddie on the drums, John on vocals, and a little of Krissi in the pic on guitar.

Speaking of pictures, I love the 365 Project thing, I thought about doing it, on January 2nd, hence missing the window by one day. Last year, TheoGeo did it, and this year, Anarkey is doing it. Maybe I'll angle for a nice camera for this years christmas and try to do it in '09. Ambition!

2007 recap/2008 look ahead

Meant to get to this a couple of days ago, but didn't. Almost skipped it this evening as well, but here I am.

Me and blogging: Feast or Famine.

Anyway, clever anecdotes aside, let me think back upon 2007.

It seems like just yesterday I was blogging about the games that I wanted to play in '07. I was completely successful in my endeavor to run a Werewolf game. We've been at it for just over a year now. More about this in a long and rambly gaming post, perhaps later this evening. Also I did manage a little bit of Shadow of Yesterday related gaming, with my smashing game of Shadowrun of Yesterday. I didn't get around to any Burning Wheel, no Sorcerer, no Riddle of Steel. But that's alright. I feel pretty happy and fulfilled with my gaming in 2007. To tell the truth, I think I gamed about as much as I wanted to. Which is saying something, because I can recall times that I either had no gaming at all and wanted more, or had gaming aplenty and wanted even more. I'm kindof a busy bee though, even if "busy" means playing computer games or watching Discovery channel sometimes, and so the amount of gaming that I managed to get in seems just about right to me.

I made 183 public posts in 2007. And since I like even more random stats, here's my tag breakdown for 2007 (some overlap, due to multitagging)

asinine: 13
atlantis: 1
awesome: 8
camping: 1
d&d: 8
exercise: 3
exploding duck: 1
food: 4
funny: 8
gaming: 67
geekery: 2
guitar: 1
hoi2: 2
misc: 34
movies: 21
music: 6
politics: 7
ramble: 3
rant: 9
running: 33
Shadowrun of Yesterday: 7
sotc: 2
spam: 1
stupid: 1
tech: 1
tsoy: 5
werewolf: 10
wiki: 1
work: 20
yazhi: 2
zombies: 3

What else... I had a good year at work. Got a nice promotion, and work continues to go well.

Saw a number of good movies. No Country for Old Men is the first one that comes to mind as being a favorite, though I've seen it somewhat recently. Looking back over entries, it looks like I saw quite a few good movies. It looks like dramas were my top genre for the year, just glancing over titles, and remembering which ones I really enjoyed.

Computer and console gaming.... Rock star of course, some assassins creed, bioshock, halo 3, the Half Life orange box. Hearts of Iron 2, some Dwarf Fortress, a little civilization and sim city action. Yknow what I still miss though, from years and years ago - a good submarine sim/game. Silent Hunter III is a good one, but my computer has a hard time running it very well.

Family life has been good. I've been surrounded by a loving wife and pets, fantastic friends.

I did a pretty good job with general health stuff this year. My running was good overall, and I'm glad that I did the St Jude Half, but again, as soon as it got cold, my running took a dive. Sigh. I managed to really get onto it though and do some good exercising and get in pretty good shape for awhile. Which I've since let go, but I'll work on it again in '08.

Finances - maybe the top thing for 2007. We got on the Dave Ramsey thing, and have done a fantastic job about creating a workable budget and for the most part living within it. We paid off my saturn this year, the laptop, and a number of credit cards. We paid off somewhere in the neighborhood of $11,000 worth of debt this year, and did not pick up any new debt, at least, since April or before.

Got a little bit of camping done, which was nice, and I'd like to do some more!

Held a second job for about 5 weeks.

I did not do as much with the guitar as I wanted to.

Music.... I listened to alot of Nine Inch Nails, M.I.A., Disturbed and Tanya Donelly, if you believe my lastfm. Discovered: Regina Spektor, Amy Winehouse, White Stripes (I know, I'm so late).

Now for 2008. I didn't make a particular resolution for the new year. But I've got some general ideas and thoughts.

I plan to finish out my werewolf game sometime around the middle of this year and bring it to a conclusion. I'm interested in D&D 4th edition. If it turns out to be as cool to me as it seems to be at the moment, I'm planning to get a group together and run a campaign with it, though I have some concerns about how well I can run D&D with my current DMing strategy, but I'll get more into that later on. I'd like to get to tinker with Riddle of Steel a little. I'm still drawn to its brutal combat system. TSOY is always on the table, and Spirit of the Century, which I got to tinker with but not play, is certainly of interest to me.

I'm looking forward to Grand Theft Auto 4 this year. I'm looking forward to hopefully beginning the process of building a desktop computer for myself again, since I've been without a "new" computer for two years or so since the laptop wasnt "new" anymore. I'm looking forward to putting in some more time with Rock Band and various friends this year. Hoping to get some good social mileage out of it.

I'd love to do the St Jude Full Marathon this year. I'm not going to swear that I'll do it at this point, because I can't be certain that I can/will do it. I'd like to, and I do intend to participate in the event, the full of course would rule, the half would rock, and even a 5k would be fun to do. More 5k's this year, I think. And more running.

House work! Yeah, I need to paint the eaves this year. They're in a terrible shape. Probably some other small scale home improvement tasks. I don't imagine Krissi and I will be in this place forever. I give it another 2-4 years, which is a goodly bit of time and I'm completely comfortable with.

It looks like Jason will be in a house sometime early this year. The process has been super exciting for him, and we're eager for him as well.

Maddie and John are also doing the Ramsey financial thing, and have been super aggressive with it, so I think that they'll be paid off except for home perhaps, this year. So yay for them. I think they plan to reward themselves with some international travel and such. It'll be a shame that we probably will not be able to accompany them, but hopefully we'll get postcards.

Boy I can't think of much else that I can cram into here. Oh - politics. I hope that 2008 sees a change in the white house. A big change. I really hope that we can turn some things around and fix some things, as opposed to fucking things up even more than they're already fucked up now.

So... Happy 2008! I hope it brings to you and yours happiness and health!

Tigers and Cameras

I have one very simple question.

Why the fuck aren't there security cameras monitoring the animal enclosures in zoos (more specifically, the siberian tiger enclosure at the san fran zoo)???

Please. I work at a small manufacturing company, and we've got more cameras than I can shake a stick at.

Chicken Soup

I made my delicious chicken soup last night. And I made a ton of it. MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMmmmmm.

Two great big pots water, add 2-3 frozen chicken breast halves per pot, add 3-4 chicken bullion cubes to each pot. Add a healthy splashglug of olive oil to each. Cook until the chicken is done (20 or so minutes on medium heat). Remove chicken, cut into small bits. Cut up an entire bag of carrots, an entire bag of celery, and a large yellow onion. Add them to the pots with the chicken. Season with some Ms. Dash, some powdered garlic from Penzeys, some fresh thyme, cook for about 20 minutes so the veggies will be tender, add extra-broad noodles and boil for 10 minutes, and then one or two cans of cream of chicken soup to each pot to give it some body. Serve!

It is ridiculously good.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rock Band

Also, Rock Band rocks.

We got it for post-christmas and have been having a blast with it. I started on guitar, because I cannot sing, but Krissi sure as hell can... I had a ball with guitar on medium, and started dabbling with guitar on hard, but as it turns out, its... well.. hard. I've also been working on the drums some, and have gotten relatively proficient with them. I can handle them on medium, and have started trying hard on a few songs that I'm familiar with, but the double bass kick is going to be tough to get the hang of. Also, my wrist hurts. From the drumming.

Need to get more songs into the rotation of it.


Here's my quick entry into the fray.

I would love to see Dennis Kucinich get the democratic nomination and go on to get elected. But I'm a pessimist/realist/big-mean-negative-head and I think he's got about a snowball's chance in hell of even getting the democratic nomination.

I would grumble and grouse about how if fucking Huckabee gets elected, I'm moving to Canada or Sweden or some other nation, but I know its a lie. I'd *want* to move, but I'd suck it up and sulk and brood and complain to my friends and occasionally snipe at my parent's pro-conservative/religious right politics. Same as I do now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Weird Movie Taste

Happy Belated New Year, btw. Sooner or later I'll post a 2007 recap and maybe some goals for 2008, but not today.

Instead, I feel like sharing with you a personal oddity regarding movies.

Behold, a list. And shortly, a meaning:

Live Free Die Hard (aka Die Hard 4)
The Big Hit
Shoot Em Up
Smokin' Aces
Mission Impossible 2
Way of the Gun
The Departed

Now, what I'm trying to sort through, is how and why I can enjoy some action movies that are noticeably tongue-in-cheek, while hating and being miserable about some other action movies, which are also seemingly tongue-in-cheek.

Bear with me a bit, because I still have a headcold, and so it may be muddling this already-muddled thing up, but the list above is an attempt to outline for you, dear and interested reader, a group of movies are generally action oriented (Space provided for you to disagree at the bottom), that contain movies that I both love and dislike.

For those of you who cannot pull yourselves away from this insightful post, let me dig a little deeper.

My friends universally, and sometimes angrily, disparage my critiquing of movies, you might even say that they critique my critiques of cinema. You see, I find myself in a tight spot. I am at a loss to explain how I can enjoy Shoot Em Up and Smokin' Aces and The Big Hit (The Big Hit especially), and yet hate Face/Off, and Mission Impossible 2, and Domino and Die Hard 4. See.. they seem to all fall into much the same genre. ACTION. Not much in the way of well conceived plot ("Oh no! someone hacked the internet to steal all the money!"). My first guess is dialog. I enjoy a movie with some wit and cleverness. While I admit that I sometimes enter into a movie with a preconceived notion, which renders me predisposed to find the movie preposterous. But I wanted to like the Die Hard 4 movie when I saw it. I knew it had some "wacky internet" stuff in it, but I sat down with the intention of enjoying it. And I admit that I didn't gouge my eyes out with forks. I enjoyed it, purely for a way to pass the time with friends. But to rate it, solely on its cinematic virtues, I'd give it low marks.

Tangentially, why did I include Way of the Gun and Departed in my list? Well, partly because I have a headcold, party because I enjoyed both movies, and partly too, to show that some ACTION movies can be tight, well written, well plotted, and make a little sense. Neither features hovering jet planes or motorcycles. (As an aside from my tangential point, the other morning, I lay in bed with an idea for a book in my head. Certain that I would spring from the bed and get to writing, I no sooner had the springing from the bed part down than I realized that the book I was going to write was pretty much the Way of the Gun. man, I love that movie.)

So, since I'm just rambling on here, and could probably continue to do so, since I like to hear/read myself, I'll attempt to wind down.

Those action-y movies (minus way of the gun and departed) all require you to turn your brain off to some extent, or to suspend your disbelief. I'm not sure why it is that in one movie, when the good guy shoots 50 bad guys without breaking a sweat, I chuckle and think "Hah awesome! how over the top and fun!", while when another movie does much the same thing, I think "Oh come on, give me a break, you can't be joe-nobody AND superman!". Is it just my hypocrisy hopping up and smacking me around a little?