December 31, 2010

The end of 2010.

Someone let me know who to credit for this awesome!

It's time to party!  2010 is over, and 2011 is ready to take it's place.  But before that happens, I would like to commemorate some of the awesomeness that happened this year on the blog.  Sure, my personal life is pretty awesome with a new job and a new car and great friends, and don't forget the awesome Boyfriend and I go 2 and a half years strong.  But the blog is not here for me to think about that stuff, memoir blogs are everywhere.  This is to remember the nerd awesome of the year, specifically talked about on this blog.  So here's a list of that:

Mass Effect 2
Great game, great story, one of my favorite things to play all year, and I'm just getting back to it with a new concept for a character.  Hooray Renegade Adept!

Restarting my old campaign
Getting back to my old DMing was actually great.  I love being able to tell stories, especially directly to other people.  And when you have the right players, it makes the experience more interesting to see how creatively they react to what you give them.

Writing a lot more
I not only was able to post more in this blog after a while, but I was also able to finish a play, get more of my trilogy done and at least realize what writing habits work for me.

Reading a lot more
I know reading a couple more books here and there is nothing for most people, but making an effort to read the plethora of books my mother has here.  Discovering LeGuin and rediscovering Asimov were helpful to my writing.

Indie Games
The Boyfriend continues to introduce great things to me, including indie games.  Audiosurf, Chime, The Path... games I wish I had more time to write about, but are definitely fun playing.

Here's to continuing to have fun times in 2011, and more of these great things.  Well, maybe not too much Mass Effect 2, because the sequel is coming soon!

December 28, 2010

The Nerdification of Christmas

As I've gotten older, I've realized that I have affected the Christmas present shopping in my household.  And it's kind of for the better, at least in my opinion.

I have expressed my love of Think Geek here before.  But it's become somewhat of a family staple.  It all started around my sophomore year of college, where I had just discovered the site and did a wish list.  My mother was just looking for something easy to get me for Christmas, and that was really easy.  And then she kind of got sucked into the site.  That Christmas she got something from that site for everyone.

That was just the beginning.

Now almost everyone ordered from Think Geek this year.  My mom got me the Ingenui-tea tea brewer, which I find the handiest thing in the friggin' world.  My brother got everyone's gifts from there, including my d20 fuzzy dice for my new car.  However, he was following my lead, since I have done that every year for the past three years now.  I got whiskey stones for my dad, caffeinated goodies for my mom, and personal soundtrack shirt for my brother.  For the Boyfriend, a golf shirt with an 1-UP mushroom on it.

I think, combined with a couple of strange gifts for my friends, this was the nerdiest Christmas haul I ever had.  I even got a book set in the new Starfleet Academy cast from the recent Star Trek movie.  I expect it to be enjoyable trash.

With the new friends and the gifts from one of the nerdiest sites on the internet, I think Chirstmas is going to continue to be full of geeky goodness.

December 24, 2010

Christmas in Solaria

Santa was still getting used to Christmas in space
Traveling with spacesuits and rockets in place
Reindeer and elves back on earth with Ms. Claus
He thought of them fondly during a brief pause

He had finished with Earth, the Moon and Mars
Halfway through his journey through the stars
Solaria was next on the delivery list
He set the coordinances with a flick of his wrist
He saw only one place with children that play
Who would love presents on Christmas day
He set off with his usual joy and cheer 
With hopes of a great Space Christmas this year

When Santa landed, vast lands around
Not a creature was stirring, not a single sound
Except one lone woman, standing outside
Oblivious to Santa, carrying pride
Santa checked the list, Klorissa her name, 
Good this year, good genes her fame
Or so she thought, but Santa knew
He job was thankless, through and through
She toiled hard all year around
Rarely making a complaining sound
To anyone, but now one could see,
Only view the stress done to she

Solaria was not a place of a mom and a dad
But robots to watch children be good and bad
No families, just structure, Klorissa the only one
To watch every daughter and every son
Each child had every toy ever made
But human affection would soon fade
No mother's hugs, no father's games
And soon playing with children would not be the same
By a certain age they would view
Every single person they ever knew
Klorissa the only person who could even touch
Even then she didn't give much
Just discipline to all the boys and girls
The only real parent on this world
How could she know to give them more?
She didn't know what a mom and dad were for
She never had one, never saw the need 
Just thought children were to protect and feed
Robots could do both within the three laws 
Keep children safe, feed eager maws
Put them to sleep when the time was right
Watch ever step, stop every fight
Klorissa was there when robots wouldn't do
And she didn't do much, that Santa knew

There was no one gift for each, Santa did fear
That wasn't already in front of them here
He snuck past Klorissa when he could 
And found out where all kids, bad and good
Were staying, and the control for their rooms
He'd have to open all of them, and soon
He snuck past robots standing duty
He hid in the shadows, his suit still sooty
From houses before, where families had love
Not where the only man who cared was from above 
Who would come and give presents once a year
Santa knew what Solaria children wanted this year

Klorissa went to bed, robots on standby
He went to the controls, easy as pie,
Opened every room and went to the halls
That were miles away in the complex mall
Where all the children were bred and raised
Where only genetics were worshiped and praised
Not love, and affection, and family where one
Could teach and hold each daughter and son

The children, surprised, went along with the happenings, 
Knew to expect presents in wrappings,
Instead they found Santa, in his classic suit
Red with white trim, and shiny black boot
They ran to him, the younger ones first
Screaming out in one jovial burst
The older ones were taught of the fear of germs 
The idea crawled under their skin like worms
But they were intrigued, an adult that smiled
At the eyes of every single child
Santa urged them over, and began to say
"I simply came over to see you and play
And teach you how to be good boys and girls
Like parents do on other spacer worlds
We can do it again next year if you like
I won't get you sick, which is in spite
of what you were taught, I made myself clean
There will not be a hurting stomach or spleen."

He gave a big grin, which every child returned
The only adult that showed them concern
And from there the games began
They clapped and sang and laughed and ran
And Santa taught lessons to each child
How to be nice and not too wild
They played for hours, until everyone was tired
The sun was close, night had expired
Santa wished them "Merry Christmas, see you next year!
And to all on Solaria, good cheer!"
The children waved by as he went to his sleigh, 
Some started to cry, knowing today
They would go back to no contact, no family
Klorissa and the robots were all they could be
But not enough to fill their hearts
With gloved hands and metallic parts
They knew that next year, Santa would come
And play again all the fun games they had done

Santa packed up the sleigh, went up to the sky
Seeing some little ones still waving bye
He looked to a letter and gave a smile,
One from a good boy who had been a man for a while
Plainsclothesman Elijah gave the heads up
About the children who had no ma or pop
And suggest a parent on Christmas Eve
And tonight, that's what Santa came to be
He'd left good gifts for Elijah on Earth,
Knowing what a thoughtful idea was worth
But he still had to take care of children near and far,
So Santa started the sleigh, and headed for the stars

For those of you who have read Asimov's The Naked Sun, I hope you appreciate my spontaneous poem for the season.  Recovering from the busy week at work has my creative juices flowing again.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  And once again, avoid the Krampus!

-d20 Sapphire

December 17, 2010


Tomorrow I shall be starting again a tradition that I had since high school: DnDnD.  Dungeons and Dragons and Dinner.

You would think that the combination would not work, but believe me, it does.  In high school, when I could get a few of my friends over for DnD (conflicting schedules prevented consistent games) we would have Chinese food.  A feast even. We would eat and then I would run my game.

In college the chinese food tradition continued.  We would play friday evenings around dinnertime (around 7 to 11 most nights) and people would get hungry because they hadn't had dinner yet.  Chinese food was ordered a lot of those times.  We were in a college parlor where there was space to spread out and eat while rolling dice.  It was conducive to the RP parts of the story more than the battle parts.  For some reason, some people are a lot more comfortable in a communal story while munching on delicious.  One of my players called it DnDnD, and it stuck in my head.

Tomorrow, I think my players will get accustomed to NPCs and Pizza.  There's a place near my house that will be open late and a player of mine was nice enough to call and see that the place would be accommodating.  Hooray!

Food and gaming go hand in hand, surprisingly.

December 16, 2010

Superman Glows?

I'm not sure how I feel about this...

I do live Tim Burton, but really?

December 11, 2010

The Glory of a One Shot

Those of you who follow my twitter (d20sapphire, unsurprisingly) may know that while running RPG Chicago I have lobbied the idea of a One Shot Night in multiple locations in the area.  I know a lot of people love being in long standing campaigns.  You guys know that I love running one.  But the one-shot... it's a glory all on it's own.

The thing about a campaign is that everyone starts it knowing that it's an investment.  With each session you have to give enough to keep the players involved, but not every session has to be on point.  In fact, it's almost impossible to keep it on point, because every player is going to have goals that diverge from your main plot.  As a DM you become half story-teller, half manager.  It's still fun, but it's not the same as a one shot.

The one shot is a one-time chance to prove to the players that this story is awesome.  It is a one time chance to give them something sensational, and it has to hit immediately.  Slow story is not an option.

Players love it too.  For once they have a character that they don't have to fear about losing, they can just be reckless and take bigger chances.  It's time to shine, because this character only has once.

The glory of the one shot is exactly that: you have one shot to make an impression.  And it makes the difference in how people play.

December 8, 2010

The Argument Against AI: The Rights of the Sentient

I have been exposed to the idea of robots with Artificial Intelligence since I was young.  I was raised with Data on the television, realizing he wasn't a person but felt he was still an important figure.  I read the Positronic Man in 5th grade, and had a lot of people around me willing to discuss the philosophical implications of a lot of hypothetical situations, including when I was growing up.  And now it's something I think about because I'm reading The Naked Sun, a fantastic mystery.  AI is not a new concept.

Something that has bothered me of late is the future of robotics.  Not that I'm afraid of a robotic uprising.  That's not necessary.  Anyone who knows the three laws of robotics knows that's avoidable.  It's more the future of people, and how the past can easily predict the present.

To see the problems potentially with Artificial Intelligence, you also have to see the problems that humanity experience in history.  Particularly the need to find "the other", the need to find someone that is different enough.  Someone that needs to "oppose" everything a community holds dear, and to use that supposed opposition to reassert their own existence and culture.  This has manifested in many ways: racism, religious wars, political battles... and a lot of horrible things happen.  Including creating a second-class citizen.

I'm sure that many of you are either descended from or familiar with a second-class citizen group.  In America we've had a lot that trend, involving indentured servitude, slavery, accusations of unethical acts,  biased laws, and other horrendous traditions.  It's a habit that prevents man from ignoring his violent instincts.  Not to say this is the only reason progress is stifled, but it's a huge one.

Now imagine if we had an entire race of sentient beings that can easily be programmed to be the other to hate?  Something that can be programmed to not fight back if persecuted and killed?

I fear what the future will be when we do have AI abundant on earth.  They'll be sentient beings that can be easily prejudiced against, and would be the only one known to have no urge to fight back.  That doesn't make oppressing robots with AI right, it merely makes it easy.  Considering how hard it has been to let people who fight for their rights get accepted in the mainstream , and how easy it is to fall backward after moving forward, how long would it take for a group who can't stand up for itself to be treated equally?  Years?  Decades?  A millenia?

I think it is better for the rights of all sentient beings to respect those rights, and although this may make me a cynic, I don't think humanity would be able to do this with any AI it creates. It saddens me to say it,  but the easiest solution at this point is prevention.  The easiest prevention is to not develop AI.

Wow, that was a depressing essay.   Something more uplifting next time, guys.

December 4, 2010

The Start of the Season... With Zombies

I am on one of my chill vacations where I hang out with some my nerd friends in Central IL.  Since we wouldn't see each other again before or soon after Christmas, we exchange presents.

Knowing my love for zombie-slaying, I got this as my first Christmas present last night:

A plushie boomer!  It even comes with sound effects.  Isn't he hideous and adorable all at once?

I named mine meatloaf.  Maybe he'll make a guest appearance on the blog someday.

December 2, 2010

Hooray for RPGs in Chicago!

Great news!  I am now the coordinator for RPG Chicago.  If you're in the area, please check it out!

In general, I suggest you RPG lovers see if there's a similar group in your area.  If not, see if you can start one.  It's totally worth it to bring gamers together.  Good friends to run a one-shot or a campaign with are hard to find, and I'm all for making it easier. helps make it easier.

November 29, 2010

Learning from NaNoWriMo

I'm really sad that I wasn't able to produce anything for NaNoWriMo this year.  The new job at the beginning of the month definitely threw me through a loop where I couldn't really focus on my writing pursuits.  But it did teach me one thing I absolutely have to do if I want to be a consistent writer.


Making time for writing was not something I was worried about before because I worked a job where I didn't have a lot of hours.  I could just write whenever I felt like and still get a considerable amount of it done.  Now that the opposite is true, I just have to work a little harder to get my writing done, especially considering the plethora of ideas that flood my head.

What's going to surprisingly help is having a job that involves prioritizing and some organizational skills.  Practicing those skills on a daily basis are only going to help me organize my nerdy pursuits, which many of them involve writing.  Especially this job.

I hope some of your readers were much more successful in your writing pursuits in the month of November than I was.  I do know next November I will be participating in NaNoWriMo and will friggin' succeed!

November 25, 2010

Nerdify Your Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the one holiday that is probably the hardest to make nerdy.  As much as I know who my ideal Thanksgiving would be with when it comes to nerd idols, I was thinking if there was any realistic way to have a Turkey day super nerdy.  Well, I thought up some ideas, other than LARPing through your meal.  Because that idea is creepy.


This is a lot easier if you are friends with an engineer.  Use lasers to cut the turkey and portion out the food.    Sure, lasers are in short supply, but if you can get on you can definitely impress your family members with the precision you carve the bird.


We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving, and how the Native Americans basically saved the Pilgrams from extinction and they celebrated with food.  But who says that's the only broken culture barrier we should celebrate?  And not only ones from the real world (of which there is a long list) but ones from fictional universes!  The Fellowship of the Ring, half the episodes of Star Trek, covenants of Requiem coming together (if that ever happens in your Vampire games)... You can find one that can be worth celebrating.  Take the good from the fiction you love, and apply it to the world.  How could it hurt?


I'm not talking about the teams you make up online with your favorite players.   I'm talking about making up your own league of fantasy teams comprised of elves, gnomes, orcs, or whatever crazy creatures.  You could use RPGs to set up your own football game that is sure to last hours, or use an RTS to do something weird like that.  The easiest thing is to play the bomb passing game on Unreal Tournament.

Do you guys have any ideas?  Think it over the table today.

And a quick shout-out to all the new followers!  I'm now at 70 and that just make me more motivated to keep you all entertained!  We'll have to officially celebrate after the holidays.

November 19, 2010

Red Riding Hood: "Twilight" Treatment or Original Intent?

I don't know why I check up  on Yahoo as much as I do, since I keep my spam email there, but I do.  Today over on Yahoo I found this article talking about the new movie that was thought up by Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first twilight movie.  It's going to be Red Riding Hood, and the article talks about giving it the "Twilight" treatment.

But then I watched the trailer, and I thought, nay, it's just finally getting to the point of what the original story intended.

Well, here watch it with me:

My question is why is this the "Twilight" treatment?  Just because Hardwicke is directing it doesn't mean that it's going to be anything like sparkly vampires.  

From the trailer you get that a) there's a love story and b) there are dangerous forces.  But unlike the Twilight Saga, this doesn't look like the young lady is an emotionless vessel being pursued by a creature that technically is a monster but actually is really sensitive and just wants to love.  NO.  You have a young woman who is in a secluded village that is being ravaged by an actual monster, a monster who actually kills people, and she's either dating the monster, betrothed to the monster, or even worse, BOTH.  There is a sense of actual danger because you can't really escape that village.  And the end of the trailer suggests that she's getting punished for associating with the village's enemy.  That's not Twilight, that's an old myth.

The reason I think it harkens back to the original intention of the Red Riding Hood story is that in earlier tales, not only does Red Riding Hood get into the same bed as the disguised wolf, she strips down naked and burns her clothes before doing so, suggesting a sexual predator at the same time a hungry one.  There are even theories that the story was a just a long metaphor for a young girl coming of age as a woman, losing her virginity and therefore her innocence.  

But then why is it a children's tale?  Well, not only did people become "adults" earlier in the day, but also because one of the best way to get your children to listen to you is to scare the bejesus out of them.  "Don't get in bed with strangers, young lady!  It will kill you!"  And although that may not be the best parenting method in the world, it works.

So if the whole point of the story was to convince little girls to not get in bed with strangers (or at least strange looking grandmothers), then this new Red Riding Hood movie is taking the next logical step.  Don't lie in bed with wolves, for then no one has your back.  This is especially true in a setting where you're in an isolated small village who is on a hunt for the one thing that is killing them off.  It's a scenario that we've seen played out in history dozens of times. 

Or at least that's what I get from the trailer.  I could be completely wrong and it's all about emo werewolves and their need to feel understood in a world where the odds are stacked against them.  Like the new Teen Wolf show.

Let's never talk about the Teen Wolf show ever again.

November 17, 2010

Writing Plans and Fails

Hey, I'm finally figuring out this schedule I have right now, and I think I'm finally getting used to it.  Unfortunately, I'm not sticking to all the writing plans I had.

I'll be back to 3 to 4 posts a week soon, I promise.  The last two weeks kind of hit me like a freight train.  I haven't even revealed to all my co-workers just how truly nerdy I am, let alone reveal that I'm a nerd in the first place.  I don't think they see it yet... maybe for the better.  Anyway, thinking of nerd things has been put to the side.

I don't think I'll finish my NaNoWriMo novel, or hit the goal.  I'm going to try to catch up this weekend since I have it off, but we'll see how far that takes me.

Working on the trilogy is slow too.  I did make progress but I didn't finish the first book.  I got around halfway.

My plan right now is to be more consistent with the blog posts, try my best to get 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, and then start again on the trilogy in december.

Let's try it out and see what happens.

November 12, 2010

WHAT! It's been that long?!?!?

I'm sorry guys!  It's been crazy over on my end!

I have a new full time job that has me working 6 days out of the week most of the time, but also has half days.  So I still have time to be a writing nerd. I just need to schedule it more.  I also got a car because of the job, so AWESOME.  It's official color is super-black.  Just think about how ridiculous that is.

So if you need an apartment in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, hit me up!  After a week I like the job, so I'm happy.

Please forgive my lack of posting.  For forgiveness, I'm going to post a link I got from the treknobabble blog.  It's pictures of the cast and crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Looks like they're having a lot of fun.

Thanks for sticking with me, guys!  I'm sure I'll have some more substantial and thoughtful posts up soon.

November 6, 2010

Happy Carl Sagan Day!

For those of you who don't know who Carl Sagan is, find out now.  He is a scientist who wanted the world to know how beautiful the intricacies of the universe are, and was willing to share the information.  He was brilliant, prolific in writing and in television production, and one of two men that Asimov admitted surpassed his own knowledge.  Essentially, a scientist and an intellectual badass.

To have a small celebration to a day that has almost ended, I think a remix complete with autotune and philosophical ideas should do the trick.

November 5, 2010

Are there "female" games?

Before I start, I want to say hello to any new readers I acquired from the Bioware forums.  I'm glad you all liked my female characters in games essay, and I hope some of you will like this one.

Around the same time I realized a lot of people on the Bioware forums were reading my post, I also had a small conversation with some people after work.  I was mention how surprised I was that I liked Call of Duty: World at War's campaign.  Never thought I would be that into it.  A friend asks why and I mention about the campaign was engaging and fun yada yada yada.  And then he mentioned that he notices girls play only certain games, that they like a particular part of game.

Other that the Sims 3, I don't play any "particular" games that are supposed to be female-friendly.  I love FPSs, RTSs, RPGs, and a lot of other types of games that usually have a male following.  But gender-wise, I'm definitely female.  So... I'm an outlier?

I don't think so.  This is what I think: While growing up in the society we live in (at least in the western world), girls are taught, and not intentionally, that video games are not for them.

When I was growing up, my little brother was the reason we bought certain video game consoles.  I would try them and never got into them.  It turns out it's because other than Kirby, I SUCK at platformers.  Absolutely horrible.  That's what my brother would usually play, and he mastered it.  He is also better coordinated than I am in general, making it easier for him to pick up the control schemes.  I noticed that when it came to my friends, the girls just never got the video games, even if they grew up with them around.

Part of it is because the video games were not gender-neutral.  Gender meaning the social expectations of the sexes.  A lot of video game characters are fulfilling gender expectations of glory, either being overly sexualized or the penultimate of the gender.  I've mentioned this before.

Considering the industry decided to have mostly male heroes over the years, over time there were more heroes that boys and men could relate to then girls and women.  And like a lot of "toys, parents will pick out the one that has their children's genders represented.  Boys play with GI Joes and Might Max Figures, girls play with Barbie and American Girl Dolls.  So over time, since video games had more male heros, more parents bought their games for their sons and daughters got pushed out of the market.  Girls didn't grow up with video games, and as they grew up it was easy to just dismiss video games as a "guy thing."

Let's be honest, that's just by theory, but it's what I've observed in my childhood.

With this in mind, I think women have just adjusted to not be video game players in general.  The numbers have increased in years, but it's a slow and steady thing. I don't think there's been a big push because for gender in our society, it's not considered "lady-like" to even participate in fictional  violence. The most we get are women's leagues in some sports, and usually not heavy contact sports like american football.

Recently, recognizing the purchasing power of women in general, there has been a push to identify what would make a successful game that women would like to buy.  Two E3's ago that attempt was extremely ridiculous and stereotypical girl games, not even woman games.  Now because the industry is talking about it, the mainstream gamer is talking about it as well.

To me, it isn't quite a mystery.  Just stop making it seem like games are just for guys.  How do you do that?  Well, less characters that look like human beefcakes or barbie dolls, and probably more normal-looking characters.  Less over sexualized characters and more realistic depictions of bodies and goals.

That doesn't necessarily make games more female friendly, but it makes them more gender neutral.  And that makes games welcoming to EVERYONE.

I'm not saying that the video game industry HAS to do this, but if they want more female gamers, this is the first step.

November 1, 2010

New in November

When it rains it pours.

I am going to make this a short post, because nothing on my end is one hundred percent yet, but I think hope is on the way.

I may have full time employment with a decent wage.  Woot!  Just a couple more days to see if that's confirmed.

I am writing a novel and some other stuff for other blogs.  More on that as it continues.

I may be taking over RPGChicago... to some extent.  If things go the way they do I don't know how I will be everywhere at once like I'd want to be, but I will definitely be figuring stuff out.

And now for something that's a definite on the Boyfriend's end.  Here is a link to a sneak peak of what he's working on.  In the month his company will be reveal more details about his project.

So, a lot of new is happening in November.  Wow.  I'm going to be busy.  Kind of awesome, don't you think?

October 29, 2010

Levar Burton's Six Degrees of Scary.

The Boyfriend showed me this awesome image.

Cyberpunk Costume Update

It's almost Halloween and I barely got this thing going at all before yesterday!

The Boyfriend was a super help in being crafty and assembling stuff, along with helping me cannibalize much of his old equipment.  With that, I am going to post some pictures of what I have so far.  I would love to add more but this might be it for this year.  Next year I will build on this design.

So the first thing I worked on was the glove.

I took a black glove and took off the finges, add some the inside elements of a keyboard to the glove and then added the wires.  I wanted it to look like my fingers had some input as well as buttons on my glove. I added the wire to go up my sleeve so that way it looked like it connected to my body.

Up close and personal.
I just with I had a detail brush or something for the fabric glue, which is shiny and makes everything look bad.  I'm a little sloppy when it comes to crafts like this.  Unless it's props for a show.  Then it is something I definitely go the extra mile for.  This was just something that I thought would be cool and fun to do.

Now the goggles.

Her you can see them with the wires.  At first I tried to glue some circuit board capacitors to the edges but that didn't work.  I also didn't get some LEDs like I wanted to but I hadn't given myself the time to get some.  However, the Boyfriend had some other cool stuff to add to the goggles.

I took parts from a broken webcam and attached them to the right side of the goggles.  I put one of the button parts from the keyboard and put it on my goggles so I could ad something to it later.  Maybe buttons without holes or something like that, maybe paint it.  I put a little external wire to make it stand out more.

And I also have a while from that side that will actually plug into the right side of...

the vest.  It took forever to find any kind of cheap clothing that I would be willing to glue random stuff over, but this had the right material, even if I don't like the white button.

Here's the point of interest on the vest, with some old connectors.  Again the keyboard parts show up, along with a couple cards of RAM and some cable for flair.  I forget what the connections for that lower left thing is but it helps bring a lot of the costume some life.

Here's the whole thing together.  Not super impressive but it gets the idea across.

And here is the cord of the goggles connected to the vest, but of course since everything's black you can't really see it.

I think I may put some more stuff on it today or tomorrow, but I think for randomly hunkering down without much of a plan and very limited budget, I think I did pretty well. Ninety percent of this was done yesterday, and once again I want to proclaim to the world I have the best boyfriend, who delayed working on stuff for his company to help me piece together all of this.  He even filed things down and used "dangerous" equipment to help get things apart.  It was fun to do together.

We'll see where this goes, as times goes on I may work on this to make it better for next year.

October 27, 2010

Need to be PC on the PC? Enemies in video games.

Alright, this isn't a topic I have thought about too much and I might not write much since my arm has decided to spazz out on me this week.  But it's something I was thinking about, and I want to apologize for the dry spell of writing.  Now to get back on track.

I am sure a number of you are aware of the controversy Medal of Honor suffered because they were going to use the Taliban as the opposing force in their game.  Many politicians and families of those lost in the U.S. Army's recent conflicts, were offended and outraged by that possibility.  They said it's "too soon".

So what the Medal of Honor do?  They just removed the name Taliban.  But it didn't remove the characteristics.  They're still insurgents in the Middle East.  You could argue that you're still fighting the Taliban even if they're not called that name.

I can understand the alterier motives for the army officials to some extent, but as a consumer I get screwed over.  I think a good number of us do.  Sure, I love fighting enemies in space or in fantasy settings or in alternative universes or even in the past.  But sometimes you want something more in the modern day.  Games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty try to provide that, but because of public perception and feelings you can't make it too realistic.

I'm an empathetic person.  If I were grieving a loss of a family member that served in the army, I wouldn't want to see any of these games.  I am not sure if I would be as publicly outraged or scorned as some of the people speaking out in the articles linked above, but that outrage can hurt sales.  You don't want your consumer feeling guilty when they go to the local store to buy his or her copy of Modern Warfare.

However, sometimes the better stories are soaked in truth and realism.  Video games cannot grow as an artform if public opinion is going to alter what's produced.  There are plenty of books, movies, and pieces of art that are offensive.  Some of them were created with the full intention of offending, and most of them weren't.  To have video games become a full part of art, we have to be willing to make games that will make people angry, even if you might lose a customer or two.

Another random point entirely--I would like more realistic enemies and organizations in general.  Call of Duty has a problem with bringing in the russians when they're no longer relevant.  To be fair, a good number of companies have a similar issue.  But if you want to tell a modern story, make it relavent to current events!  America is probably more worried about whatever China is doing than Russia these days.  Just a pet peeve.

Anyway, back to the original point-- there are a lot of people who want video games to be considered art.  It's an impossibility if we continue to conform the "artform" to the expectations of our culture's morality.

October 20, 2010

Quick Question for the Masses.

My writing for my trilogy is going slow.  Was able to quickly type out two chapters, and ending the one I'm on now is hard.  But I'm suddenly re-inspired by my DeWitt on Titania blurb I did.  And for once, I'm hoping I'll get a response from you guys.

Would you, my dear readers, like to read more about this universe?

I may have an idea in the works which would be more immediate satisfaction for you, dear readers. Please let me know if you would at least like to see more.  If you don't want to comment here, email me at d20sapphire AT gmail DOT com.

And for those of you who respond--thanks.  I appreciate it.

October 18, 2010

VIVA LA REVOLUTION! Or how I will support developers with my money.

I woke up late this morning because LAN Sunday went late last night, ate a pancake, and then decided to see what the sites I usually kept up with were doing.  I saw Game Overthinker had a new episode, and I love his rants, so I watched it.  And then I got dragged into a revolution.

Watch this (about 17 minutes long) to see what I'm talking about.

For those of you who may not have time to watch it, the Game Overthinker points out the direction that the gaming industry is going right now--in the direction where only games that they know will make bajillions of dollars will be sold.  The blame is going to one mega giant corporation--Game Stop.

I used to work at Game Stop, so I don't see it as evil.  But I can see how it's business model is threatening game developers everywhere.  If any company has a bright idea for a game, it either has to fit into an existing franchise, be so solid that publishers will know it will sell, or it will never get published.  Why?  Because the used game market prevents the previous profits that publishers knew they would get over time from happening.  

I think I stated earlier in the blog that the game companies only own the ideas and intellectual properties that they sell continuously.  Once they sell a complete game in the fancy box the first time, the person who owns that physical copy of the game is the consumer.  Since many consumers will now sell their games when they're done playing them, which then get resold at Game Stop, there is a huge consumer base that is willing to wait the week to get a resold game at a cheaper price, even if that price is only a 5 buck difference.

This is bad for developers who are up and coming and want to try something new, like the Boyfriend and his small company who will be looking for investors in the next year or two.  We want to support the little guys, not just because they are little, but because they have more incentive to promote innovate ideas that gamers will love.  If you don't want more of the same, help these guys.

You're allowed to not like the big guys like EA or Activision.  But everyone has their favorite developers--personally I have been a fan of Maxis, Valve and Bioware a lot these days, and those are just the big names.  Luckily with the PC gaming market it's easier to get the little guys in there too. But you still have to go out of your way and try to find them.  If the developers who do new and interesting things don't get support, we're never going to get new and interesting things.  

Here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to buy new games when I can.  Right now it's easy for me to do that since I use Steam for my PC gaming.  But it's going to mean saving up for stuff on my Wii.  I got my eye on Kirby's Epic Yarn.  That's going to hurt my meek pocket book.  But if I really want it and I want to support the right people, I will.  And I'm not going to buy used games.  Easier said than done, but that's what I want to do.

If you guys want to support developers, listen to the suggestions in the video above and see what you can do.  Any little step is going to help the video game industry listen, especially when it comes to where we'll be spending out money.

October 17, 2010

Recap, Session 6: Good Spy, Bad Spy

Today's game was short because of previous obligations by players. Real life does come before game, which is something that you have to do if you want to be a functioning adult. But we did get a lot done.

Again, regarding the world and characters that I created:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Before the party could leave the capital of Vidrigez to investigate the disappearance of Prince Aeriche, Escrow the druid came down with a horrible stomach ailment again, unable to join his associates in the trip to Everterre.  After a random attack by some wandering trolls, the party was able to get to Everterre mostly in tact, although the trolls certainly weren't.

Atreyu confirmed that the man they were looking for was actually the head of the guard, who's named Ingard.  He proceeded to find the man and tail him for a while.  Dreamtar took another approach and actually filed a missing person's report with the guard, giving the exact description of Aeriche.  In the process of revealing himself and some of his assignment, the guard ended up arresting him, telling him they needed to protect him as a witness while telling Bram and Atreyu that he had been arrested due to implicating himself in that crime (that they were also investigating).

Atreyu continued to follow Ingard into the night and saw that he with another fellow guard went back into his home's cellar.  Atreyu quickly went back in town and roused Roto and Bram to see if they could catch Ingard and his coworker in the act.  Instead they came back to an empty cellar, where amongst the stored food were the leavings of someone living there.

The three went back to the inn at the night, knowing that Ingard had been keeping someone in there.  In the morning Atreyu scolded Dreamatar for putting Ingard on their trail.  Dreamatar defended his tactics.  Meanwhile Atreyu also received a note from the guard's office...


I am sad that we were only able to get three hours in, but we're hoping to find a new space that is less restricting on time than the local library.  If any of you know of any place where gaming for long hours is acceptable in Chicago, leave a comment.  We have some ideas in mind. the question is convenience at this point. (we seem to live in totally opposite corners of Chicagoland)

Next time, will we figure out where Aeriche was?  Did Ingard have him?  Will the PCs go to King Aust empty handed? Find out next game session... which is going to be a while from now.

October 13, 2010

Sonic 4 Fail

I have heard a few things where people are excited for Sonic 4 and think it's fantastic, but occasionally you get the one person who gets a bizarre glitch.

October 12, 2010

The Sims 3 Is My Skinner Box.

I have finally figured out exactly why I keep on playing the sims to almost legitimately addictive level--It's a self made Operant Conditioning Chamber.

Doesn't that sound like an apparatus from an villain in a sci-fi film or something like that?

You might be asking yourself "what the hell is that?"  Well, an Operant Conditioning Chamber, or Skinner Box, is a structure where a subject being studied, usually a lab animal, is given some sort of lever system for either a reward or punishment.  Common applications include a lever for food, or a lever to prevent electric shock.  The nature of some motivational tools was discovered while using these structures in tests.

One thing that was noticed was that if pulling the lever always gave food, the subject (let's just call it a mouse) wouldn't worry about food.  The mouse would just pull the lever whenever it was hungry, knowing that the food would be there.  However, if the lever would only sometimes provide food, and sometimes nothing would happen, the mouse would press the lever all the time.  Therefore, it was discovered that if a reward was random, the mouse would repeat the action again and again to make sure it would receive it's reward.

Now, we all know food is a more important reward that many other things, but the Sims 3 is doing that to me.  Its making me press the lever again and again!

"But d20 Sapphire," you might respond, "the Sims 3 has no goal!  You can't be getting any reward from that game."

Au contraire, my dear devil's advocate, that's what makes this worse.  You see, although the Sims 3 may not have concrete goals for gameplay, it allows the player to decide what goals he or she wishes to obtain.  And they make sure there are plenty of goals.  Other than just the usual happy family model to make, or doing scandalous stories like I do (because an affair from time to time makes things pretty interesting), there are tons of things to do like wishes, lifetime wishes, collectables, careers, skills, points to spend on rewards... and as the expansion packs continue the list goes on.  Essentially I am the mouse, and I am deciding what reward will come out of that lever, even if I have to pull it hundreds of times to get the desired result.

It's almost like I'm convincing myself I'm customizing my experience because I can choose my goals, but to be honest reaching each goal puts me back in that Skinner Box.  Different bait, same trap.

I'll be nice to the sims though, it's not as bad some other games. had a list of how games will get you addicted using some of the Operant Conditioning Chamber discoveries.  A good amount of games will do this, partly because it's more effective and consistent way of profits than say, oh I don't know writing a good story and creating an engaging world?  Yeah, it's cheaper to do it the brain washing way.

Think about it the next time you play your game.  Are you comfortable as a player with a designer thinking of you like this:

And are you really getting enjoyment from your game if you're playing it like a mouse in that chamber?

No shame if you do, but it's a legitimate question to ask yourself.  Because if you like these types of games, the market is going to put out more of them.  Do we want to encourage game developers to think of us as mice in a Skinner Box?

October 9, 2010

Promoting Cool Projects: Diary of a Job Seeker

I remember telling you all about a playing reading that I had in April, and the guy who directed it was Jeremy Lee Cudd.  He's a brilliant guy.  He was able to see things in the very raw first draft of my text that I hadn't even known I put in their as a writer.  The reading went extremely well, and to be honest Jeremy is one of the reasons I'm forcing myself to write so much more.  He and the cast of that reading showed me that there is a world out there that appreciates exactly what I want to put out there.

In turn, I think a lot of people are going to appreciate Jeremy's latest project: Diary of a Job Seeker.  Only the first episode is out but it's proving to be funny and honest.  Watch it here.  I'm not going to embed the episode because I want people to remember where he's going to post the next one.

As I said, he's brilliant.  I'm hoping that with you guys taking a gander on his great show.  It's my way of showing him thanks for all the hard work he did when he did the reading for my play.  So go watch it!

Writing: Should it have limits?

There was a meeting about plot development for the novels people are pursuing this November for NaNoWriMo this morning.  Me and a few other people in the Chicago area got together and just talked about our plots and figuring out certain things.  It was really helpful for all of us.

I got to talking to one other author who is also working on a fantasy trilogy of sorts.  I don't want to give away everything he mentioned, but the classic ideas of destiny were there along with a long journey, and it is definitely something that was compelling.  But he was mentioning to me his experience with publishers, and giving me great tips on the system.  One thing he mentioned was word count, and how you need to be aware of it.  It's definitely something that would be taken into account depending on your story, and certain genres have certain standards.  If you are submitting to a publisher and you have a certain way you want your story published, you need to keep in mind the word count they're expecting.

At first I was a little scared, but then it made sense to me.  After a while a genre has a standard set, whether on purpose or not, and you have to know that your readers are expecting that much of an experience.

But then on an art level, is that fair?  You could say that in some ways, you're limiting the art if you do that.  Shouldn't the writer be able to write his story at the length he sees fit?

There is an argument for that positon, believing that no story should be limited.  Some times a good story has to take it's time, and the reader will appreciate it more because of that.

However, a lot of the time a story is longer or shorter than usual because the story has yet to be refined.  People forget that writing is a skill, not just a talent.  Rarely do you have someone that writes well enough to be remembered for a significant period of time, like Shakespeare, at a considerably young age.  I doubt Shakespeare had his gift at age ten.  It's not to say that anyone can write if they practice enough, but it is to say that it is a skill that has to be nurtured over time.

What parts of writing involve skill?  Well, being able to describe the idea effectively and efficiently is important.  Effectively meaning there is a clear picture in the reader's mind what the author of the piece is getting at or talking about.  Efficiently means without putting in too much or too little information.  A lot of the time writers can get caught on either side of that spectrum, and don't tell the story in a way that engages the reader.

And that's where the limits come in.  Writing in many ways is meant to be the opposite of the visual arts. Your painting can be as big as you want, you can make it  structure that can be tiny or huge, and you can  have be as interactive or as isolated from touch as you want.  Limits are not really as much of an issue as they have to be in writing.   I couldn't start telling you about my ridiculous dreams of pink elephants with wings in the middle of this post.  It wouldn't let you in on the idea I really want to tell you.  Sure, there's a style that would let me utilize some crazy tools of language that could still get you to the same idea, but the goal is to get one point across, and one's skill in writing helps determine how good one is at that.

I agree that most of the time, you need word limits or goals.  Page counts.  Something of that nature.  Because if anything, it helps determine that you are at the skill level necessary to tell your story well.

October 8, 2010

Stuff I May Need For My Halloween Costume.

Before it gets too late, I need to start thinking about my Halloween costume, and how to wear it.

The idea is that Proptart is going as ateampunk and I will go as cyberpunk.  Cyberpunk has many manifestations, usually describing a world rather than a particular costume.  I'm writing out what I need here so that I can figure out what I need to do in the next 20 days.  I'm hoping to make it relatively simple.

Here's some pictures that I think are closer to my idea of what I want to do.

P.S., if anyone knows where to credit these pictures, let me know.  The internet has a bunch of art stealing jerks who don't credit the work.  

I am probably not going to do anything super intense, but something I can hopefully put on again and again because I like the idea of being in cyberpunk clothing just because I can.  I know, I'm weird, but that's what makes this blog interesting.

I'm thinking of using some goggles I have and attaching some LEDs to it, also attaching some wires to the sides so I can have them adhere to my neck.  Maybe get a cheap glove and put some buttons on it.  Might also put something right under the nape of my neck, to keep it freaky.  

Right now, things I have to help include: Goggles, old computer parts, black clothing I look good in, time this upcoming week.

Things I need: Wires, LEDs, costume skin adhesives.  

I will take pictures of some of the progress.   

October 5, 2010

15 Games That Will Always Stick With Me

I got tagged for a facebook note that goes like this:

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. 15 games you've played that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what games my friends choose.

Problem is I hate tagging people for this stuff on facebook even if I like talking about it.  Luckily the person who tagged me knows this blog, and I guess in a way I'm tagging you guys... don't feel obligated though.

So what's my list?  Here it is (in no particular order) with explanations:

1. Mass Effect 2

This is one of my favorite video games of all time.  I particularly love it because it is so well written!  I know a lot of people were disappointed because it wasn't as monumental plot-wise as the first game, but you have to understand it's setting up the end of a trilogy.  If you look at it that way, the set up is AWESOME.  Good characters, and in general the good guy versus not-so-good guy choices made it totally replayable.  In fact, I plan on replaying it soon, and this time, my Shepard is going to kick ass and take names later.

2. Dungeons and Dragons

I remember when I first was introduced to the game by a friend and her dad, I knew I had to run a game of it.  And I did, but of course actual learning as a kid got in the way.  But college brought me back to it and it was totally worth coming back to.  I ran a game for three years with the success of an entertaining time had for all, and I'm doing it again.  I will always have a soft spot for it, even if later incarnations prove to be not what I grew up with.

3. Hex Hex

Fantastic card game that involves you screwing over everyone else at the table.  I have great memories playing this with a good number of my college friends late into the night while drinking.  Adding awesome house rules made it even better.  I bought it for myself and to have back home, and it's always deviously fun to play.

4. The Sims

I have an addiction to the Sims 3.  I must want to be God.  Is that a big issue?

5. Settlers of Catan

To be honest, I was never the best at this game but I love it anyway.  It's a great strategy board game that involves monitoring your resources, so my economist sensibilities gravitate toward it.  Another game I played a lot in college.

6. Unknown Armies

Again, discovered this in college and it's modern, urban, dystopia themes are fun to play.  If you really want to get into the game, play someone who's obviously crazy to everyone else but himself.  The focus on conspiracies and deep plots also making it great, giving a fantastic setting that's malleable enough for any good GM.

7. Dragon Age

I could say it's the good story (which is good) or the kind of gameplay where I get to micro-mange or the awesome friendship system.  But I'll be honest with you: I still have a crush on Alistar.  And I think I will for a while.
The Boyfriend also doesn't mind this, which works out great.

8. Tetris

My grandmother has, on a kid's standards, the most boring house.  We used to visit a lot so my mom could help take care of the house, and my brother and I would bring our gameboys because there was nothing. else. to do.  Tetris saved me from bordem.  I played that thing for hours, causing my mom to be haunted by that music for the rest of her life.  She doesn't mind too much.

9. Kirby's Adventure Land (real title?)

Another gameboy game that saved me from boredom, and introduced me to the awesomness that is Kirby.  He's just a fantastic protagonist, super cute but he'll swallow your soul.  Kinf of like chibi cthullu.

10. World of Darkness games

LARPing is one of the first activities I did as an adult on my own in Chicago.  World of Darkness was a great way to start the hobby because I was able to do a character driven story where I can be as important or unimportant as I want.  I like the new friends I've made and I like the worlds I've played in.

11. Monopoly

My family used to play this, all four of us, on the weekends.  One thing you have to understand about my parents is that they didn't go easy on us.  My dad had multiple monopolies, and would trick you into selling your properties to him so he could have an empire.  I was 10 mostly when we played.  Good family memories though, and I kind of appreciate that my parents didn't make it easy.  Means I had to earn my winnings.

12. The Game that can Only End in Sorrow

In college, it was our version of Truth or Dare when we were doing a late night of drinking.  Only it was only truths, you'd roll a die to see who'd get asked the next question, and then the rest of the group would think of a question to ask.  Less damaging than Psychologist, and more laid back.

13. Left 4 Dead Series

My first real online game, as in I played the game with strangers online.  Also, who doesn't like killing zombies?

14. Pathfinder

When I heard about Pathfinder, I knew I had to experience it.  I was hoping D&D 4.0 was what Pathfinder is now.  I like the system, because it cleaned up the things I thought needed to be cleaned up in 3.5 but kept the stuff I thought was worth having in.

15. The Boyfriend's Current Development Project

I can't say much about it, but the reason that I am so psyched about it is because 1) it looks like it's going to be great and an indie game for those of us that like RPGs with great stories and world and 2) it's the first video game I'll get to see in the production process.

October 2, 2010

Writing Plans

Sadly, there is no DnD game today.  Scheduling and finding a room seemed to be super annoying.  However, as soon as I have taken my usual hit of Sims 3 for the day (seriously, this phase is going on for a while) I am going to sit and write. Ah Writing.

The problem with writing is just that its very long term, and you don't get the immediate fulfillment you get with a lot of other things these days.  Even this blog gives me a short term goal that's easy to reach, rather than just a long term goal of finishing a book and getting it published.

So for now, I am going to list my writing goals for the next couple few months.

1) Four blog posts a week.

I am finding that a good number of people are actually following this blog and reading what I write.  I find it flattering.  Thanks everyone!  It's also great practice for writing.  A mantra of Stephen King is "A writer's a writer's a writer", meaning a good writer should be able to write anything.  The blog is good practice in that it forces me to write something that's not fiction.  Sometimes I actually write something that's an essay, or a humor piece.  It keeps me varied.

2) Finish the first book of my trilogy this month

I write, right now, on average a chapter every two months.  ANNOYING.  It's going too slow considering that the best ideas come half the time while I'm writing this, the other half is through random experiences that I can't predict.  I'm going to bunker down and actually write this thing.  Sure, this isn't to have a final copy to allure agents and publishers with.  I really just need to get the first part of the trilogy down on paper, and then go back and edit it later.  Also, there's another reason to chuck this thing out by the end of October...

3) Write "Consent" for NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month, and I think I'm going to do it.  Just going to buckle in there and write.  I have a story in mind that hasn't evolved much since I last wrote it, and in fact I have some of it written but I'm just going to write it again anyway to see how I've changed.  "Consent" is actually the story where my Changeling LARP character comes from.  It's a complicated tale and it really  isn't a huge universe I want to shape unlike my trilogy (I have years of writing planned for that stuff).  So it's perfect for November.  50,000 words in 30 days.  I'll take that as a challenge

4) Explore "DeWitt on Titania"

For those of you who were nice enough to read my piece base on a R.K. Milholland picture, I'm afraid it was the start of something major.  Not as major as my trilogy world, but something close.  I keep on thinking of that world, and how it's different and the ideas in that story that I could extrapolate on.  Over time I want to make a series of short stories about Titania, and possibly continue on with pictures inspiring me.  It's exploring the idea of a dystopia, something that I think Brave New World has already mastered so I fear I will never get close to that brilliance.  But that doesn't mean I can't write some more. It might be something I try to self-publish online.  I don't know, I will keep you all tuned in.

5) Remember my plays

I have two play ideas, one that is finished, had the reading, and needs some editing.  The other his only a couple scenes in, but I want to go back to it, especially since it's inspired by a Lady Gaga song.  I get inspired by music and art, what's wrong with that?  Regardless, I can't forget my plays.  Considering the great reception I got from my small reading, I got to continue.

6) Focus on those first five things.

I can become easily distracted when it comes to my goals.  I know I can.  Hell is my brain--having a 1,000 ideas and not enough initiative to start one.  I hate doing it but to get better I have to admit it's a problem I have.  I think I'm going to get some friends of mine to keep my butt in gear.  I know the Boyfriend will nag me about writing if I ask him to.  I have a couple other friends who can help out every once in while.  But I can't let another idea replace these five.  I have enough work on my hands as it is.

Wish me luck!

September 30, 2010

I now know what I'm wasting my money on next.

I have clearly not given BioWare enough money, so they gave me a reason to give them more.

I haven't bought everything yet, but goddammit I obviously need to have it all, especially if $114 of stuff is going to be $50!

I better hope this is on steam.

Okay, enough free advertising and fan-gasming for the day.

September 29, 2010

Story Inspired by Random Comic Panel

I am a big fan of Something Positive, a web comic by R.K. Milholland.  The comic is hilarous, and the couple of times I've met him in person (and played a Bunnies and Burrows game he ran) he's a cool guy with a dark sense of humor.  I follow him on twitter, and occasionally he'll put up a random picture, including this one:

Artwork by (duh) R.K. Milholland

He puts up the picture with the caption "I doubt sincerely anything will be done with this panel."  And me, being the writer that I am, take that up as a challenge.

So below is the short piece I thought up in my head just from the picture above.  Enjoy.

Oh, and for the story below:
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

At age 26 DeWitt was still a duckling.  He wasn't ugly.  He wasn't dumb.  He had "bloomed", whatever that term meant.  He was actually, to be honest, a success story.
He had two great parents.  His father had succeeded in being a prominent figure of Public Health policy, raising the bar on extra-planetary imports.  His mother was a a fantastic salesperson who ran a branch of a successful real estate company.  He was the oldest of three sons, all of which went to the best private schools that money could buy.  He'd had decent enough grades, but his soccer career is what made him shine before he went off to college.  He ended up falling in love with economics, and excelled due to his dedication to his studies.  He had finally finished his Masters, getting into an elite program despite all the obstacles.  In between the studies he had settled down with a beautiful older woman, a biologist who was up and coming in academic circles.  He was a success in every way a man could be.
But his papers did not add up.  The Director of Human Resources at the Department of Labor had let DeWitt sit down in his office during the interview, but the pile of reports on the desk was unsettling.  DeWitt had quickly recognized some of them as his own.  He took a seat in the wood chair, something that stood out in a building mostly composed of metal and concrete.  The hum of the florescents put him on edge.  Across from him, the Director picked up a thin piece of official cello-paper, with the seal of the colony.  It was DeWitt's birth certificate.
"Mr. DeWitt, I scheduled this interview before I had taken a close work at all of the paperwork the state has allowed me access to, understand?  And this piece of paper has me concerned.  I don't see why you even applied here."
"Excuse me, Sir?"
"We have standards that I have to uphold, understand?  I have to make sure you can keep up with what we do here, and to be frank, Mr. DeWitt, you can't.  And I just hate it when people waste my time, understand?"
"Sir, I don't what you're refer--"
The Director laid the birth certificate in front of him.  "Read the CP line."
DeWitt picked it up and read the Conception Procedure line.  "Basic."
"Sir, if you're problem is that I was conceived naturally--"
"Precisely the issue.  I'm glad you see it.  If you had been genetically calibrated before you had latched yourself into your mother's womb, this wouldn't be a problem, understand?"
"Sir, with all due respect can we keep my mother's organs out of this discussion?"
"Don't bother with the respect.  You can see I can't hire you."
DeWitt cleared his throat.  "Actually I can't."
"It should be crystal clear!  If you have been modified at conception, when most Titanian's are, you'd be fine.  They would've automatically made sure that your neural networks, or whatever they call them, would be fast enough to process at a regular Titanian speed.  But you're basic conception, so I can't admit you here with you slowing down the teams calculations."
"I'm applying for a job that involves policy making, Sir."
"You still have to calculate formulas to predict the labor situation, understand?"
DeWitt picked up one of the old essays.  "You obviously printed out all my work, you can see I can calculate a simulation like the back of my hand, even make new ones modified to unique situations!"
"Mr. DeWitt, none of your work is exemplary.  None of it.  I can assure you half the people who applied for this job have done work at least at your level, if not better."
"So you're telling me you didn't even read it then.  I've been published in industry journals!"
"Mr. DeWitt, I am sorry you have wasted my time here, but there's nothing I can do for you, understand?"

DeWitt walked from the interview in the dark.  The colony was always dark outside, but the indoor lights had been calibrated to imitate the solar cycle back at Earth.  He followed the neon street signs to his wife's office.  Her building was a grey monolith, next to many other grey monoliths.  There was barely any indication that the building housed test subjects, or viles of microorganisms.  It did hint that there was something sterile inside.
DeWitt was let in by the receptionist to his wife's office.  He looked at the degrees on her wall, the pictures of her graduation, of their wedding and their families.  It was a good life she had.  So was his, in spite of his origins.
She walked in, her goggles and gloves still on.  "I came in as soon as I could.  I want to know how it went."
He responded as softly as he could, but he he couldn't hide all his anger.  "No you don't."
She sank right next to him, on the arm of his chair.  "Oh no, my starlight."  She never liked the words honey, or babe, or darling, so she used starlight.  It was still corny.
"He immediately went to the CP line on my birth certificate.  Explained it like I thought he would.  Kept on saying 'Understand?', as if I spoke some other language."
"You should've responded 'Que?' or something like that."
"Doesn't matter.  If the government won't hire me, I doubt any company will. "
"Don't say that, starlight."  She embraced him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "It's only been a couple months.  Not time to give up yet."
"You and I both know that in this boom phase I should have a job.  I mean, I studied this stuff.  I know I should have a job now.  Titania is just not going to let me, with this genetic caste system."
"It's not like that."
"It is that!"
She let go of him, and slowly took her seat at the desk.  DeWitt knew he shouldn't have said that.  She was always guilty that she had been calibrated and he hadn't.
"I'm sorry.  Look, earlier today, I figured I wouldn't get the job.  I'll... start looking somewhere else."
She smiled.  "That's the spirit.  I'm sure there are plenty of other jobs for someone with your skills.  Or you could just got straight to a Ph.D."
"I can't, remember?  CP basic."
"Oh.  Well, there has to be another job, even if it's not something you studied the last eight years."
DeWitt started to laugh.  "So you're telling me I wasted eight years?"
She frowned.  "You know I'm trying to encourage you."
"Hey, I was thinking.  I'm wondering if... well, Titania is the only planet that has the genetic qualifications.  If we thought about moving to somewhere else, another colony is bound to hire me.  Maybe Walter's Gate or Man's Progress."
Her face was sad.  "Starlight, my research is only happening here.  This is the only place that's looking at microbiotics at this level, not to add with the right tools.  I can't be anywhere else."
"So what, I'm stuck here with a Masters unemployed the rest of my life?"
"You're not going to be unemployed the rest of your life."
"I'm not taking a job selling fast food to people out the drive thru, so I'm afraid I am."
"You don't have to get like this.  No reason to be this angry."
"Of course you're the reasonable one, part of your breeding, right?"
She stood up.  "If you came her to upset me, you have to leave.  I still have work to do today and I can't--"
"You get to work and I get to stay home after all I went through?"
She rushed out the office.  "I'll see you at home.  You'll have cooled by then I hope."  She slammed the door.
DeWitt just stayed there, looking at all the pictures.  He stared at the happy couple they were on their wedding day.
"Had I known then I was to be your duckling, that I was to follow you single file wherever you went, I would've reconsidered my options, love."

September 28, 2010

Recap, Session 5: Please Visit My Adversary

Sorry it's taken so long!  Yesterday was my birthday (I'm officially 24 year old--woot!) and Sunday was crazy since I had to bake some mac and cheese.  So I finally can post this recap.

You should know the drill by now.  Anything pertaining to the original world I created, including fictional characters and countries:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

The Cornwellian Kingdom was experiencing a first, the coronation of a Queen to the throne, when the ceremonial procession was attacked by a large, long armed undead that none of the PCs had seen before.  It took them a long time to finally keep it dead.  The Queen and her procesion party were all rushed into the castle quickly.  The PCs did some investigation, including Bram making sure the body of the creature was researched by the local magic university.  Dreamatar had his sister work on a Legend Lore spell.  Atreyu and Dreamatar made sure the Queen knew they were still in her service.  The PCs stayed in the castle for a while to make sure the nobles were fine, some making conversation here and there, including Roto with the Queen's sister Faoiltiarna.  The people of the capital seemed disturbed, but did not revolt in any way violent.  The Queen gave a speech to calm them down.

The next day proved to be quiet for the PCs.  They checked up on their own affairs, and some viewed the execution of the minotaur that was left from the crypt raid.  There was some talk about where to proceed next with the crypt investigation, but many were happy to have a day of rest to themselves for once.

Next morning made the vacation short.  Queen Elish told the party that the Vidrigez Kingdom have found out about the services they were providing to the Cornwellian Kingdom, and wished them to help with something at Vidrigez.  The PCs agreed, although some were hesitant.  When they went over Atreyu made sure all the PCs knew how to act and speak in front of King Aust, a man with ram's horns and coal black eyes.  Although leaving in the morning, due to the time difference King Aust greeted the PCs in the evening, and told them in confidence about how his youngest brother, Aeriche, went missing.  A prince known to pretend to be the common folk during the evening, he hadn't been seen during his excursion a couple night ago, and King Aust decided to search for him.  The PCs were asked to investigate and find him, but were invited to a dinner celebrating the middle of the winter season the next night.  All the PCs except Bram had dinner with the King and his family their first night in.

The next day the PCs investigated around town.  Atreyu visited his family to see if they had any news.  Bram checked around the castle, Roto checked around town in general, and Escrow had some success checking out the taverns.  He heard that a man with a bushy beard and deep set eyes was last seen with a man that looked like Aeriche, a human.  Considering the capital of Vidrigez is 95% half-elf, this man stuck out like a sore thumb.  The witness was questioned several times over, and the PCs tried to figure out what the next step was.

That evening the grand festivities to celebrate the middle of winter happened.  Arteyu spent some more time with his family, and was luckily not embarrassed by his party members.  Dreamatar learned how to do some of the local dances, and Bram talked with some of the significant individuals of the party.

The PCs decided that next morning, they would investigate the town that is straight north of the capital.


There was a lot of RPing going on that I don't think I remembered, or at least remembered all of it.  Session went late since we didn't have a time constraint, and it was pretty fun with some good hang out breaks in there.  If you guys int he campaign have anything you'd like to add in the comments, totally feel free!