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.