Monday, July 29, 2019

The Kobold Warren Folly

Update - This post has been expanded into a short book with 4 maps on DriveThruRPG. It's priced at PWYW, with a suggested price of $1.99.  

Like the Compass Rose Inn Mini-Setting, this set of maps and descriptions are rule set agnostic. 

And now on to the original post from my birthday, Jan. 17th, 2016. 

This map is of a folly in the southwest of Potamus Bay. Who built the folly is lost to time. There is a larger ruin closer to the Lake, but it isn't as well preserved or interesting as the folly.

The tale of the folly's preservation is very odd and owes its history to the river. The river is subject seasonal flooding and one of those floods brought the kobold's to the folly.

The kobold's had their own underground village, which made them very happy. They stole the best food, killed the prettiest animals and had wild political intrigues that often ended in bloodshed. One day, the ruling clan pushed the wrong buttons and were tossed in prison to await their doom, as soon as the method could be decided.

A chance rainstorm freed the rulers, but washed them deep into the cave system. The village rejoiced at the apparent deaths. They were very kobolds happy, indeed. The ruling clan was washed away into the cavern system under the folly. They were able to squeeze and claw their way into the basement of the structure. The family rejoiced when they discovered the ring of pear and apple trees, the fresh water and rabbits.

There are no furnishing, no details inside the Folly.
The kobolds keep the interior bare.
The ring of trees continues, but is obscured by the
upper two levels. 

Over the years, they have set themselves up a kings and queens of the folly. They do not understand the principle of a folly, they believe that human or elven kings hold court in an empty building. The six rulers have set themselves up as the High, Middle and Low Kings and Queens. They receive guests through the windows, as there are no doors except trapdoors between the levels. They keep the folly up, but they do not live in it. They live below in finely finished chambers. Recently, they have hung curtains in all of the windows of the folly, purple, yellow and red. 


The family plans on enlarging the chambers, but for now they are satisfied.


The lowest level is almost all natural, only the eastern side has any finished features. The western side is often flooded with fresh water and sometimes contains fish.

Folly Details:
One Square equals 5 feet.
Height: 45 feet.
Depth: 75 feet below ground, as near as anyone can tell.
Population: 17 adults, 33 children.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Feeling X2 Château d'Amberville

One of my favorite modules was X2. It was so rich in detail and called back to Poe and Clark Ashton Smith that I immediately wanted to plug it into my AD&D campaign. Well, it didn't work out so well. The theme of Castle Amber was too... "weird" for my normal campaign. It was the one time my players demanded a "redo". Their main characters had crossed the mists and as they explored the castle, they became disenchanted with this setting as their characters were way too out of place in it.

I agreed. We rolled up a new set of characters, restarted the scenario and began playing the module as if the prior events never happened. My players were so good at role playing, they willingly ignored the details they gleaned from the last adventure and let the action replay itself again for their new characters.

We were actually playing two different campaigns, alternating between them as the mood struck us. This must have been 1995 or 1996. We were still using the original AD&D books with Unearthed Arcana. When we switched from our main AD&D campaign to the world of Castle Amber, we took it to the extreme.

I allowed the use of Tome of Magic, I would quietly play Love and Rockets Body and Soul alternating with Glen Danzig's Black Aria.


Being older, I'd place a bottle of wine on the table, which few of us knew how to use properly, and old candle sticks or bottles with candles jammed in them for effect. Incense was burned and dinner or light snacks were had as we gamed. 

On top of that, I produced a set of feelies for the players. They were old maps, journals and letters based on the action of the module.


We never completed the module, because the players found the land of Averoigne to be so enchanting. If I could collect up those players again, we would totally go back to Averoigne.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Macaulay - Great Books, Lousy Pictures

I'm tired tonight. I glanced over at my bookshelf an noticed a set of books by Dunder Mifflin.

On closer inspection, that was wrong. Very wrong. These books are by the amazing David Macaulay, published by Houghton Mifflin Company or HMCo. Each one illustrates a historically themed location, such as Castle, City, Mill and Pyramid. The pen and ink drawings are spectacular.

I received Castle from my parents as a birthday present. The other three I picked up on Amazon, very cheaply. I plan on buying one every few months to complete the collection. I prefer the black and white editions, on paper, but he has updated the series in color and also has many titles available for Kindle.

Fast forward to something I didn't know. Some of them were adapted to documentaries by Unicorn Productions. Even better, they are on Youtube.

I have yet to find a better streaming source, but if I find these elsewhere, I will let you know.

Cathedral:



Castle:



Roman City:



Mill Times:



Pyramid:



I was going to watch a little Netflix, but this is much better. That and order the few books I am missing from the series. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

David Macaulay
On Amazon
Kindle or Print
Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Quick Update - Back End Work and Musings of How I Came to Be Here

Not much to report today. I am doing a little back end work on the website now that I have users coming in again. I recently added links back to my pages on Facebook, MeWe and Pluspora and I need Google Analytics data. The last year has been wild and I really let things go.

Typical view when your
ribs are screwed up
Let me tell you where this journey began. In June of last year, I was finishing up a long term subbing post when I broke half a dozen or so ribs. My normal favorite summer activity is a local amusement park, Darien Lake. I was off of work for about 9 weeks in the middle of summer and couldn't ride a single roller coaster.

I spent a few days laying on my back trying to decide what to do that day. My choices were sort of limited to sitting, laying down or standing. I had no patience for drawing or painting owing to the profound lack of sleep. Standing is Darien Lake's wave pool was soothing but nerve racking because there was a serious danger of drowning when the waves started up.

I decided to write a book. The first thing that popped into my head was something for D&D. I had some old character sheets lying around from a decades old campaign. In that campaign, I had 3 players write "chemist" under non-weapon proficiency. Three different bids to get their characters TNT or at least gun powder.

Yeah, no. That did not fly.

Then I realized that I actually had a bunch of great ideas for non-weapon proficiencies. In the previous semester at school, I found great book called Everyday Life in Early America which seemed to mirror my thought process. People have skill sets. A weapon proficiency is the ability to use a weapon, a specific item, with a specific set of skills. A profession is more than a singular skill, but less applicable to adventuring.

D&D and AD&D does not call these extra abilities skills, they are called "non-professional skills" meaning that they have nothing to with the character's current class. But they aren't really quantified.

I quantified those abilities in Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. I built a list of 50+ different professions from history, broke them into three categories and then defined what each could do.

One of my pet peeves from D&D is the lack of a "shared world" from outset of a game. I had people looking at characters sheets and declaring that their ranger couldn't swim, but had a recipe for dynamite. Yeah, BS. What do you mean a ranger can't swim? That isn't a skill I want you rolling against. If I'm gonna kill you, it won't be with a bunch of die rolls to see how long you can tread water.

By allowing someone to select from this long list of professions, characters gained depth. And a smidgen of hit points and a whole set of ancillary skills which were had some semblance of reason assigned to them. It stands to reason that a trapper can set a trap, a farmer knows a bit about cobbling junk together to get stuff done and cook can identify plants and build a proper fire.

The ability to make a rutabaga pie isn't going to buff your character, but it could make for interesting role play. On other hand, some tools are killing machines. But there is a reason why they aren't used as weapons. It's very hard to do carpentry or woodcutting after someone has killed a person in plate armor with your axes.

Some of these skills are immediately pertinent to characters. If my cleric was a chef, why don't I use knives in combat? Because that is something you choose to forego, it doesn't mean you can't throw knives at a bulls-eye. Can my wizard use a small hammer (1d4) because he is former mason? Sure, but he has to give up one other weapon.

These professions add to each character, without overly unbalancing a game.

Well, this is much more than I meant to post, but this is why what is happening on the back end of my site. If I mean to keep producing products, there has to be some data tracking to see what other think, which I will put into some of my future works.

I also need to build a base, so please take a moment to follow me on Facebook, MeWe or Pluspora.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unreview - The Gardens of Ynn

When I found this title, I fell in love with the concept of a procedurally produced adventure. I meant to write a review of The Gardens, but I never could capture the core idea. What struck me most was the author's (Emmy Allen) desire to break out of her writer's block. Wow. That was an amazing idea and the end result is spectacular.

Anyway, I have collected up 3 reviews of The Gardens of Ynn and added a bit of commentary on each review.

The Gauntlet Blog, called the book "evocative" and praises the use of all five senses in the area descriptions. (Edit - You can also read part 2 here.) The Gauntlet takes the point of view of White Hack players, which is a step removed from typical D&D. This perspective enhances the review as it leaves the typical D&D archetypes out. While I don't play White Hack, Fraser Simons' review of The Gardens makes me wonder if I should.  

Bryce over at Ten Foot Pole, stress the Gothic Horror aspect while digging right into the mechanics of how to use this setting. Bryce is right that this is a setting book as opposed to an adventure, which something that the reader could overlook, something that Emmy Allen took a moment to confirm in Ten Foot Pole's comment section.

d4caltrops calls The Garden "elegant". d4 praises the binary aspect of "go deeper/go back" to control where the adventurers go in The Garden. Even better, he suggests easy ways to use this book as a means of transport for your characters. Talk about taking a great idea and making it better.

I was surprised to see that no one commented on the artwork of this piece, which I totally enjoyed. Its Gothic simplicity is wonderful. I love this style of art.

You can pick up The Gardens at DriveThruRPG for just a couple of bucks. You can also go and add the three blogs above for free. Why not do both?

A little pointed mocking...

Oh, my wife so doesn't get it. My sister found a picture of me from 1985 and shared it with my wife. This was the result:


I could have been any one of the kids on Stranger Things. Well, except Barb because I was the DM and if I went missing, someone would have looked for me by 8 pm, Saturday evening.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Save vs. Facebook... failed.

Well, this is the end. I failed a save vs. Facebook, broke down and created a fan page for These Old Games. You'll be seeing updates there all the time, I'm sure. Come follow me there.

One of my favorite methods of getting updates out there, aside from MeWe is Old School RPG Planet. If I recall correctly, it was created in response to the decommissioning of Google+ and is a return to blog based connections for gaming. It is an excellent resource for all gamers.

Facebook was not my first choice, that would be the Old School RPG Planet blog roll followed by MeWe, second, but it seemed inevitable.

Latest Update

This has been a hectic week. What should be updated hasn't. What didn't need updating was. Let me take a moment to explain what is happening. 

First and most importantly, my kids are off for the summer at the exact same time the school where I work has kicked off it's summer school program. Work-life balance is out of wack, but in an entirely pleasant and wonderful way. I work with special needs students and we kicked our program into high gear. Not only are teachers getting ready to accept new students come the fall, we are doing some of the greatest outings and STEM stuff in and out of the classroom. We do it all, from building roller coasters out of tubing to taking the entire school to an amusement park. And there is even better stuff in the works. 

This is the finest "job" I've had and confirms that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. 

Speaking of loving what you do, all this makes my kids at home jealous as hell, so my wife and I are stepping up our game. 

To that end, I don't have time to produce new books or maintain 4 websites. From here on out, I will be focusing everything on These Old Games by pulling in everything of value from the other three sites. Much of it will be tabbed along the top of the page, so as to be unobtrusive as possible. I'm sure my readers will understand that I am both a D&D nut and amusement park fiend with a thing for technology. Its weird. We're all a little weird. 

And now the third and final use of the word love. I love writing campaign setting information. So what products can you expect from These Old Games? Let's start with what's already available: 

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. A set of rules to create both NPC characters with professional skills which can be resused to flesh out D&D and AD&D characters with non-heroic skills. 
Character Sheet for Use with Unearthed Arcana. This is exactly as it says on the tin, its a scan of character sheet created on Mac 512K back in 1987. Why? Because I don't like hosting my own files. 
The Compass Rose Inn Minisetting. A set of maps created in Worldographer of the Compass Rose Inn, the associated shrine and premade characters. The three maps, historical description and characters are ruleset agnostic. 

Coming in the first week of August is the Expanded Compass Rose Inn Setting for D&D and AD&D. This is a set of maps for all 5 floors of the Inn, several outbuildings, and detailed sheets for every character for use in your campaign. This will retail for $4.99. 

My next goal is to release a mini map of the Lake Forge, a mysterious business venture across the lake from the Compass Rose Inn. Like the Inn, it will have multiple levels and buildings visualized in Worldographer, plus new characters and more history of the Peninsula of Plenty game setting. It will be released in the same format as the Inn, first a PWYW ruleset agnostic version with a suggested price of $1.99 and a more complete version tuned to AD&D and D&D which will have fixed price of $4.99. 

Each and every thing I have published should be small potatoes in the grand scheme of gaming, but I cannot tell you how excited I get when I see one more person has taken the time to download one of my products. I hope that they add quality and wonder to your campaigns. 

As I roll through this year, I'll be looking at added two mapsets a month. I am also investigating creating a podcasts and perhaps a Patreon account. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Updates - Compass Rose Inn, Website, Etc.

Happy Monday!

A few months ago, I purchased Inkwell Idea's Worldographer which is an excellent way to visualize your campaign ideas. This weekend, I released a new title called The Compass Rose Minisetting. This product introduces the Compass Rose Inn in visual form and brings to life long time NPCs from my home campaign. It is listed at PWYW with a suggested price of $1.99. It has been selling briskly since it's Sunday evening release.

This mapset is rules agnostic, there are zero references to rulesets. It can be plugged into any campaign setting or ruleset.

In August, a companion to this piece will be released. It will feature characters for D&D and AD&D, will contain more history, magic items and obviously, more maps. It will be offered at a $4.99 price point as a separate product.

In order to launch this product on time, I have placed 52 Weeks of Magic on a 3 week hiatus. Some of the magic items that would have appeared here will be included with this updated version of The Compass Rose Inn.

Additionally, These Old Games will be reworked during this time to incorporate posts from my 3 other blogs as they are being decommissioned at the end of this year. I simply cannot write, work, attend school, have a family and continue to update 4 different blogs.

I hope you enjoy these new features, as much I do producing them.

Phil

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

31 Notes for Writing History

I have written 100+ History papers in the past 6 semesters. I have collected some advice from my professors and personal experience, which I though should be shared:
  1. Learn to love double spaces papers, hate single spaced papers. 
  2. 12 point fonts are fine.
  3. New Times Roman is the default choice for a reason.
  4. The professor's style guide is best. Do not argue. 
  5. Oxford commas are impactful, important, and helpful.
  6. Staples are not be a good idea, they should be the law. 
  7. Number multiple page documents even when stapled. 
  8. Use the school directory to look up the professor's name. Spell it correctly. 
  9. Add your own name to spell check. 
  10. Do not merely spell check. 
  11. Do not use contractions. 
  12. "Extremely" and "huge" both mean "I need a thesaurus". 
  13. Dates do not have apostrophes. 
  14. "Very" is unnecessary.
  15. "Interesting" is not. 
  16. "Toward" is United States usage, "Towards" is British and Buffalo, NY usage. 
  17. History does not repeat, but sometimes it rhymes. 
  18. "Etc." is not worth using. There are better ways. 
  19. Foreign words are in italics. Foreign means it is not in an English dictionary. (Important if you are any kind of bilingual.)
  20. No first OR second person, unless the professor requires it. Thank them when they do.  
  21. The past is always in the the past tense.
  22. Do not confuse British for English. The same goes for others. If in doubt, look it up.  
  23. Do not confuse name places for countries.
  24. "Would" is a crutch or a mistake. Be careful. 
  25. "Led" is clearer than "Would lead". 
  26. Passive voice is painful, but not avoidable. 
  27. When comparing situations implicitly link subjects to periods. 
  28. Do not hide verbs.  
  29. Learn how write citation from memory.  
  30. Do not use clichés.
  31. Learn how to type special characters and accent marks manually.  
Bonus: "Thank you" means "thank you". "You're welcome" means "you're welcome". They are not interchangeable. 

Full of S*** on Valentine's Day

As a child, my favorite "toy" was a black corduroy tuxedo. It must have been a hand-me-down from lord knows who. It had black pants with a red stripe down the leg, and more importantly, a matching black vest.

With my toy blaster, it made the most epic Han Solo costume ever.

Not that I wore it for Halloween. It was my "Everyday Han Solo" costume. I wore it to school, I wore it church. I wore it winter, summer fall and spring. I wore the hell out of that thing.

I wore it until it was ridiculously small on me; and even then, I did not give it up. I willed that thing to fit me for the opening of Return of the Jedi. I managed to hold on to it for years, no matter how hard my mom tried to dispose of it.

I told Kitty this story, long before we ever got married. She laughed and said, "You are so funny, but so full of shit."

My only reply was to pull the sad, little suit out of my closet and show it to her. She was so shocked and surprised, her eyes rolled back into her head.

On this Valentine's Day, I don't have any eye rolling revelations, or a tux, or wacky surprises in the closet, Jennifer Kitty Viverito. Only a great story about fun times. Thank you, today and every day, for laughing with me.

New Unnamed Project - Meet Terra and Vera

When the semester ends, I start losing my writing skills. While writing science fiction and fantasy is wildly different than writing about history or social studies, any writing helps keeps some of those skills sharp.

Tonight's posts are two excerpts from a 7 character study. Terra and Vera are travelers on a space ship in the Epsilon Indi system. When we meet them, they are waking from cryogenic sleep. This story is fairly hard science fiction story. There is no faster than light travel, no artificial gravity, few habitable planets as we would like them to be.

One interesting plot point is that Epsilon Indi seems to have a Jupiter analog in addition two brown dwarfs. The Jupiter analog is where their ship was built, about 6.5 AU from the primary star. The brown dwarfs are 1,500 AU from the primary. Since there is no FTL, travel between these locations is tedious.

When the colonists left Earth, they traveled in generation ships. On arrival at Epsilon Indi, the colonists developed suspended animation to make travel in the system easier on the mind. One of the side effects of the technology is that the human mind has to be awakened before the body is brought out of cryogenic freezing. This experience would normally be painful and boring, so the ship's AI is able to generate a mindspace for the humans to exist in. This is called chimeric space. Chimeric in the sense that it is a dream or wish, unfulfilled.

Chimeric space has some rules. An AI controls it, but that AI cannot impinge upon it. Some robots can appear in chimeric space, but this is quirk of software. They are being informed of the output of a simulated version of themselves, rather than an actual participant like human.

Another quirk of this simulation is, it cannot be used to create mirrors. When a mirror is requested by the sleeper, they instead see an external view of themselves. Any mirrors that do appear have special coding to make them work correctly and cannot be simulated at a whim. The closest chimeric space can go to creating a mirror on the fly is giving the sleeper an external view of themselves. Since people can shift between internalized and externalized points of view, they have concept of "entopic" point of view, which merely means "in the correct place or way".

The sleeper has an idealized sense of themselves, the real world and the virtual world. A person in chimeric space is slowly adapting back to their sleeping body and will detect changes happening to them in the real world. Their sense of time is highly distorted, so becoming aware of someone dressing them seems to take days or weeks.

Terra and Vera have some commonalities, despite Terra being twice as old as Vera. Both were injured in war, both had cancer. Terra is a space ship captain and her brush with cancer was a known occupational hazard. Vera, on the other hand was irradiated by a weapon. As a consequence, she has any number of physical and mental problems, few of which most people can relate to, although through age and experience Terra can come close to understanding.

The title "Vera 1.0" is a consequence of her PTSD. She is reliving the past. When I get to it, "Vera 2.0" will take place along side of Terra's experiences. "Vera 1.0" is taking place in just seconds, like how dreams coalesce in the moment of waking.

This is very rough draft. I hope you enjoy it. As always, please feel free to share your feedback.


The Almost Ugly, Unicorn Princess Story

Nothing is ever perfect, until it is.

Within the first 24 hours of dating my wife, I did something unusual that has been a part of our lives ever since: I read a book to my wife. It was a passage from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It doesn’t matter what page or passage, it was the one I meant, and it wasn’t a thing I intended to do. Nothing is so perfect, but it left a mark on us that still exists today.

Fast forward many years. My wife brought three wonderful children into this world and I made damn sure that I read to them as I did her. Reading is incredibly powerful. It requires no money, no power, no station or status but it can enrich a mind in ways that exceed all of those things.

I read to my kids and I still read to them even though they can do it for themselves. I read to my wife and I read for myself.

And sometimes, a tiny bit of magic can come from such a simply pleasure.

My daughter was born with a hemangioma. It was a strange, tumor-like structure on the bridge of her nose, about the size of a golf ball. Most of the time, they are very benign. Most often, hemangiomas do not require any treatment at all.

However my daughter, Cat’s hemangioma was different. Located on the bridge of her nose, there was the danger that it could affect the development of her eyes. Cruelly, this would not be direct damage to her eyes but a subtle impingement on her visual perception. Her brain would learn that something prevented sight in that space between her eyes and compensate by ignoring input from that area. If it wasn’t removed fast, she could have a large blind spot that her brain learned not to see. If that happened, there was a chance her sight would be destroyed.

(All that and it was unsightly. Having a child with a tumor on the face has the side effect of pulling every a-hole out of the woodwork to point, stare and lecture.)

As I mentioned before, hemangioma are structures that typically require no treatment. It turned out that our insurance didn’t want to treat it at all. My wife fought an epic campaign to make them understand why it was so critical to have this one, special case treated. She found the best doctor. She worked with him to get the best treatment while battling the insurance company into submission. Our daughter had the best care, from the best people at every step of the way. No BS. My wife, Jennifer really did it all.

At the time, I was doing the best I could to provide. I would work like a dog, come home and did the things that needed to be done. I did my part, the best I could. My place was to support. And I made damn sure that if the kids wanted a bedtime story, they would get it no matter how tired or frustrated I was.

I read The Hobbit in a sing-song voice. I read Watership Down because of the bunnies on the cover. I read The Last Unicorn over and over again as it was my wife’s favorite. Stupid, nerdy stories that were age inappropriate; but they put my family in magical, far-away places.

At the end of the day, Cat’s hemangioma was excised but she was not left unmarked by it. On the bridge of her nose was a scar. And it was more than a red splotch. To this day, she calls her scar “her marker”.

A couple of months after the her treatment, I found Catherine playing with two neighborhood girls. There seemed to be a small row happening on our front lawn. The girls were dressed as princesses, complete with copious amounts of make-up. It was comical, except my daughter standing between the other girls armed with a red permanent marker. The other girls looked very concerned.

“What are you doing,” I asked.

“Playing Princesses…. Unicorn Princesses,” Cat answered.

“Unicorn Princesses?”

“Yes, we all need markers”

“For what?”

“To be Unicorns.”

I took the marker away and Cat blew her stack. It was obviously nap time, but I had this niggling feeling that this was somehow my fault.

After a nap, I asked her what a “Unicorn Princess” was. Surprisingly, shockingly she explained that Unicorn Princesses were princesses that had a red marker on their foreheads where their horn used to be. If the other girls wanted to be Unicorn Princesses, they needed the same marker she had. Otherwise, they would simply be plain-old princesses.

Oh boy, it was my fault. And then some. I was so lucky I happened on the scene when I did. Otherwise I would be explaining a livid, semi-permanent, red mark to two sets of parents. That would be a very ugly conversation, indeed.

That night, situation defused, I read to my wife The Last Unicorn. I started where the trouble and the magic began:

“Molly smoothed the strange hair, and Schmendrick noticed on the forehead, above and between the closed eyes, a small, raised mark, darker than the rest of the skin. It was neither a scar nor a bruise. It looked like a flower.”

I can’t think of any other words that would be so perfect.

Short Story - Kitty's Whim and Horses

It started when Kitty wanted to ride horses. So one cold winter day, we were off to ride horses on a whim. Her horse was named Star and mine was called Chico. I can managed to mount a horse and saunter around, but I am far from experienced.

Chico was a majestic, deep brown horse, standing about 16 hands. I got on him like a champ. And I sat there for about 5 minutes smiling and admiring him as he admired me.

Well, no. He was sizing me up.

First, he twitched head to hoof. Then he spun, followed by a serious attempt to throw me. Since I was still attached, he took off like bolt of lightning racing over mud and snow, on the trail and then between trees. His final trick to get me off was to crash to a stop in a shallow pond and roll.

I managed to keep my seat through all of it, including in the part where he rolled over me in 18 inches of water, mud and ice. I somehow fell backwards against Chico's rump instead of being smashed forwards onto the pommel. Then we trotted back to the barn where the rest of the group was waiting.

I was terrified. So terrified, that the grin I had on mounting him was locked on my face. I couldn't speak because I had the wind knocked out of me. The people who were expecting a complaint or possibly a lawsuit were left the impression that I was completely unfazed by the horseplay. And off we went on the rest of the ride. Me, sopping wet, bruised and bloodied; others, happy, dry, and content.

After that, I was in with her.


Short Story - The College Job

In the early 1990's, I had a "job" watching the computer rooms at my school. I didn't take much effort, either it was nailed down or too old to be of use to the average student. I wasn't required to know anything about computers. Which was good, because I didn't.

One day, a guy who had interviewed for the very job I currently held came in the room. He knew a lot about computers and for whatever reason wasn't given the job. I think he had a relative at the school and it was a political thing. Anyone but him, as show of "fairness".

His sudden appearance set off alarm bells. He was acting oddly, fidgeting with stuff and moving from work station to work station. Since the room was fairly full, it was a distraction. If someone got up, he plopped himself in to the empty chair and fidgeted before moving on. Final, I asked him what he was doing.

He muttered something and turned bright red. It was clear he was both angry and embarrassed. I asked him to repeat himself and he shouted "I'm cleaning mouse balls."

I nearly died.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Issue with chroot on Chromebook

Ok, I seem to have this random crashing issue with Xenial on my Chromebook. It runs fine for weeks, then decides it will crash every time I switch from ChromeOS to Linux. Usually, I can open a Linux session but when I flip-flop back and forth, the whole machine freezes.

Annoying.

For my own sanity, I've started logging the troubleshooting I have done.

First, I ran an update. Then I decided maybe I wanted to do this in a tab to prevent these problems. So I added xiwi: 

sudo sh ~/Downloads/crouton -t xiwi -u -n xenial

Something seemed to die when I did that process. My next step was to check the updated install.

sudo enter-chroot

This line is annoying, the first time I replaced "-chroot" with "xenial". That's wrong, actual use the term provided: "-chroot". That went wrong, too. However, this seemed to work: 

sudo enter-chroot -n xenial

Next, I installed the crouton integration extension.  

Next step:

sudo startxfce4

Now, we wait to see what happens. 


Appendix N+ Opening Post

In the back of the Dungeon Master's Guide is Appendix N. These are a series of books which Mr. Gygax felt everyone should read. There have been endless debates on which is best, but these discussions miss the point. They are educational books, ones that broaden the scope of one's own internal story.

I have created my own Appendix, N+ if you will. This will be an ever expanding list of books and hopefully fuel to do some book reviews. Somehow, I envisioned hawking books for Amazon or something, but I don't think so. If the book is important enough to warrant it, I will post links to DriveThruRPG and other smaller, niche vendors.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Appendix N+ Michael Reaves' Shattered World

Michael Reaves' Shattered World

Wizards rise to battle the Necromancer and reforge the Shattered World or not. Follow the adventures of Pandrogas, the jerk-ass wizard, his girlfriend (?) Ardatha, Beorn the shapeshifter and the totally awesome, but impractical Cloakfighter as they wrestle the runestone of Darkhaven from the demon. Defective, hostile heroes make for an excellent story.

Also, who doesn't love floating island worlds.

ISBN: 0671559516
Publication Date: 1985

Appendix N+ Louise Cooper's Lord of No Time Series

Louise Cooper
The Initiate
ISBN: 1594260842
Publication Date: 1985

The Outcast
ISBN: 1594264155
Publication Date: 1986

The Master
ISBN: 1594261385
Publication Date: 1987

Louise Cooper's 1977 Lord of No Time was reworked into this trilogy. The story covers the epic battle of law vs. chaos, with Cyllan and Tarod as pawns of the gods.

Not only is the story captivating, I found the cover art to be fascinating.

Available at Alibris: Books, Music, & Movies.

Appendix N+ Terry Brook's Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold Series.

I have decided to reformat the Appendix N+, so the first 3 entries show a post date of July 1, 2019.

The first offering for Appendix N+ is the Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold Series.

Magic Kingdom for Sale-Sold!
ISBN: 0-345-31758-0
Publication Date: 1986

Follow Ben Holiday on an adventure to an impossible magic kingdom where none is as they seem. The series includes 6 books spanning two generations of heroes.

The Black Unicorn
ISBN: 0-345-33528-7
Publication Date: 1987

Dirk the prism cat's introduction to the series, as unicorns race through Chicago! Seriously, the best damn non-sequitur ever!

Wizard at Large ISBN: 0-345-36227-6
Publication Date: 1988

If I had magic, I'd want it to be like powers of Questor Thews. Unsure, uncertain but always on the right side.

The Tangle Box ISBN: 0-345-38700-7
Publication Date: 1994

Squick results when The Tangle Box opens.

Witches' Brew ISBN: 0-345-38702-3
Publication Date: 1995

Brookes explores Fey magic with the introduction of Mistaya, Willow and Ben's daughter.

A Princess of Landover
ISBN: 0-345-45852-4
Publication Date: 2009

Mistaya is loaded with charm and magic, but being Ben's daughter means this story isn't going where you think. It's a horrible ending to a great series, but an excellent reason to write one more book.