Sunday, October 30, 2011

Suicide Hotline lessons, Relationships, and some small catchups

Sadly little in the way of pictures as my comments in the last one suggested, but I've been busy this week and I've been busy with a lot of things this week. I'll try and work on readability with my next more major one.

Annoyingly, I made a mistake with last week, as they went off schedule a little and did the last module on the same day, leaving me a bit confused with things as they went this time. Fortunantly, I fairly heavily studied at least the parts of information we would have got, on the subject of loss and grief. Pretty simple, the main lesson being to understand different people value things and not to find 'minor' losses as minor to other people. Being the greenie and misanthrope I am, that's not a hard concept.

This week, the topic was relationships. Basically looking at patterns for people in crisis and how effects can ripple and the amount of work relationships have with other things. That is to say, death of immediate family can adversely affect relationships with friends or more distant family. A large focus that came with that was the concept of reframing, most Americans should be familar with framing with certain events in the last decade, rephrasing something that would be negative to sound positive. A surge in the war as opposed to an escalation being the obvious example. This is a minor extension of this, basically trying to nail in stratergies for how to turn what a caller's said is a problem and find positives within it.

Tying to it, another large focus of the later half of the day was determining meaning and feeling, a bit of a trick to get around caller evasiveness, and trying to phrase questions to figure out more detail of their circumstances, then narrow it down to the immediate things that need to be addressed. This I've not been doing well with, apparently it was most stressed last week. But it's a solid area to improve on.

Yet again, the session was accompanied by not one but two people that work the hotline regularly. Again talk of the actual hotline work, this time a lot of it was spent on the more sexual based calls the hotline tends to get. As horrific as it must be to most people, was wonderful to me. It actually really does sound like an appealing job. Very varied and interesting. That may say more negatively about me then it does how good a job is, but it's important to get work you want.

On the subject of work that's wanted. Due to the continued stuff with my unemployment, I've finally finished sorting things out with Open University Australia, a distance education service that blows my local university out of the water, and actually has crazy things like minors I want to do, and come the end of the next month, I'll be trying them for a period of time to see if it's a viable option for me. This would be amazing as I'll actually be able to at least start on my psychology education while keeping enough free time for the hotline's practice. While the course will be considered full time, keeping me out of trouble. Had I taken that damn awful job, I'd of never had the time to even sort this out, let alone discover it, make sure it'll work with circumstances and how it does compared to local choices and such.

Of course, study from home is hard, distractions are going to be a lethal threat and something I need to work on intensely. I've had poor luck in the past with this.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Setting up your own Tabletop RPG: Cruel animal testing

The other day with my last post on actually setting up my own game got a lot of responses that seemed to find it complicated. That isn't really true. It's less complex then it sounds, there's just a lot of little pieces to it. And 3-5 large ones named your players.

The only thing I'd consider a challenge is the latter.

And even then, they're alright. In response to that post, the 'slowest' friend actually was quite motivated and I helped them make large swathes of progress with planning their character. So much so that we actually got a lot of testing for a very, very basic set up of a single character using all the rules against an enemy a few times.

It ended very... appropriately to the series that inspired it. On the third fight too. It was however a very interesting And reassuring.

The most controversial part of my game would definitely have to be the very harshly limited mana people have. Its the most bitched about thing among my players but I find it an intrinsically important aspect of setting up the world. So I have been deeply paranoid about it.

Complaints against it include such that it's a broken, horrible system if you can't always turn a profit with a fight with the main enemies that provide the way to get mana back, and that the sheer amount of things you have to pay for are cruel. (E.g. You'll pay a little with reactive use of a defense power in response to being attacked.)

The first I really want to be a point of the game. In a group you likely won't get a fair share. That's part of the harsh reality you're meant to overcome. (By friendship or violence.) When alone your chances are better, but in addition to the risk of death that comes with no support, you're the only target and need to burn more mana to win. The only real way to overcome that is gauge how little defense and offense you need, by holding back your full levels of ability you save little bits of mana, how miserly can you be (e.g. could the environment help kill?) or just overwhelmingly strong, so you need few attacks to put them down.

Anything less, being wasteful or of poor judgement should end in disaster. It need not be lethal, that's its own thing. I feel thats appropriate.

The test, largely a single character against forces, in one case obscenely powerful in comparison, in another case drawn out against multiple fairly weak gated enemies in small number and the last against a few strong enemies with a smidgin of tactics were all very revealing.

Each drained a large percentage of mana, causing only a very small profit of gainback from the kills. But then that might be a perfectly reasonable point for being alone. The risk of death I can only describe is deliciously accurate to what I want. The ability to escape exists but isn't a given, and on re-learning that the arbitrarily weaker minions are capable of lethal damage as well as nonlethal was very uplifting. Approaching death is both predictable enough to be fair, and erratic enough to still snatch people before a guaranteed escape.

To get back onto the first paragraph and the main subject of this, if people do actually have interest in tabletop games. They need not feel so afraid. Not every person nor game needs silly things like playtests, common sense and the typical book's suggestions are all you truly need. These help a game, but that's just like anything one does a lot vs. something one does casually as a hobby. It's practice for the future.

Try it and see.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Setting up your own Tabletop RPG: Special edition report from the front lines

I've been sick, again, and thus missed my lesson at the suicide hotline yesterday. Fortunately it was an overview day that was only a couple hours, as opposed to 7 hours cram and practice. I suspect I did not miss much. I asked  the people in charge to contact me with the online component if anything important was missed, but they have not yet, so I'm hopeful that's the case.

Instead, large parts of yesterday that weren't wasted were spent trying to sort things out for my upcoming game. It's been quite a mess, as such a project tends to be, and given my recent posting on the subject, a few thoughts about it might be interesting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


A bit of an update. I'm on the mend from my sickness, which is nice. I've also spent a lot of time trying to get my new campaign started. I've picked up a couple recruits for it so now I'm up to a big five again. It's been a while since I've GMed a game with that many people, so I'm curious as to how it'll go.

Looking through my stats, it seems Minecraft's still my most popular post. Not sure how I feel about that. I'd like something more intellectual. But ah well. Minecraft is a fun game and with the varrious updates lately. With the adventure update, I've... had something to talk about.

I started a new map, intially trying to run it under my castle run rules, but it quickly became evident that wouldn't be feasible immediately.


Behold, the Glitch Lands

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Setting up your own Tabletop RPG: Getting the game to start

To go alongside my older post, I think today especially highlights a few points to get out on this.

Last time I covered points to planning on making a game. This time we'll be figuring out how to use these materials on getting a game started. Next tiime, we'll get into keeping it going. It's harder then it sounds and this is probably the busiest stage, and it gets into my most favorite the single worst part of games as a major subject, so lets get into it and start with this horrible, horrible subject;

Do note, none of these steps necessarily come in any single order, they should be referred to roughly simultaneously.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Suicide Hotline lessons, Second second report

Ho boy. I am definitely sick. One of my eardrums blew up during the middle of the day and I wound up sleeping 12 hours straight after getting back. Still, I'm glad I've powered through the day for the lesson.

Today we actually got into the real meat of the subject. Specifically the model we use when talking with people. It's a complex system, while previous training with phone jobs follow a fairly linear path, this takes on a different way due to the inherintly unstable nature of callers we receive.

Basically it's been divided into three specific sections, essentially connecting, actually getting the information from the caller, as last time confirming they're talking about suicide, or say, violence to another person or just calling for something else, as both are also common calls. Understanding, where we get an understanding of reasons for their wanting to die and try to create an ambivilance in if they want to live or die. Lastly, resolving. This is the hardest since its very important to remember we're only really able to help in a crisis. This involves getting them to make a plan to continue help with professionals.

Each of these with about 4 specific sub areas to detail them even further. Its quite hard and I'm going to need to spend a while working on memorizing it. Its complex, but fun.

The class is also interesting. Because of the nature of this double lesson, one of the people was someone that had been working on the phones since 2007, I believe? They had a lot of insight into the lesson and the common calls. It seems like a fun environment once working full time. I'm hopeful I'll have time to work there still once I'm done with the training.

Very fortunately, this will be the only double session of the training we'll need to do, so I have a week to get better.

For now though, I think I am gonna try and get a bit more sleep. I have a lot of plans for the tomorrow that stats in 23 minutes from the time of posting this.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Suicide Hotline lessons, Second report

It's a double day today, cramming in study for learning the actual model we'll be using. We didn't get too much in depth on it today, mostly establishing framework on things.

For how in depth we got last time, it was a lot less so this time around, I suspect because they said multiple times they were saving the worst of it for today's lesson. we'll have to see.

There was a lot more fun discussion though. Though again, the most fun could have been avoided when during discussion about permissible suicide in euthanasia circumstances. There seemed to be universal agreement with such being fine. Maybe I'm a masochist but discussion on such is fun, to me, and easy agreement is boring.

The most interesting thing has to be though, during a part of it, we had a roleplay where we were to confront a case we had been studying. The typical bullied student situation, that's now about to have them commit suicide. A most facinating part of it is that there's a demand to say the words "Are you planning on killing yourself" (Or committing suicide, something to the same effect) as part of it, and for how easy it is to think that, there's a surprising amount of mental barriers that attempts to get in the way of actually putting that into words in time of a crisis.

Its massively important and actually being able to say that is a requirement of the course, though, and with good reason. Due to the way society tends to avoid talking about such, in the case of people actually giving killing themselves actively will find saying such a very large relief, and become far more willing to talk. This was apparently a large difference between older models other groups use and the one we're using. There was a massive effort to tip toe around actually mentioning suicide, due to worries of enabling people to do it, giving them permission or adding excuses to it. When actually in the circumstances

I'm not a fan of such crappy emotional barriers affecting my behavior, I've always preferred to behave a bit more objective, so I have high hopes for trying to tear down that mental barrier in myself, and look foreward to continuing today when I leave for the second half in a few hours.

Unfortunately, I also feel kind of like crap, and think I'm coming down with something. Half the day was spent trying to ignore a bad headache and now my throat's gone to crap. I'm gonna have to power through today and enjoy being sick during the week, I suspect. Ah well.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Setting up your own Tabletop RPG: Setting up the game

This is not my most formal of posts, as I can't say I've had exceptional experience with  Game mastering (Henceforth which shall be abbreviated to GMing.) My real life/meatspace games were typically very patched together and fell apart quickly. Online too, I had very little luck, until a few years ago when I started my old game I call "Cthulhutech in spaaaace", which lead me to getting my main source of gaming friends. I may know more about what not to do then to do as a result, and so a warning to people, all my advice may be entirely subjective.

But this is a subject I've been asked about and want to get into. This will be a long one, so I'm splitting it over at least a couple days, this post will be related to the preamble for getting a game going, Figuring out what you want and getting the materials to do it. Next up I plan on getting it set up to begin a game, and then possibly keeping it going once you have started in the last part.

The disclaimer out of the way, let's begin a magical journey.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Suicide Hotline lessons, first day report

So yesterday was my first day for the lessons, some very releiving news is that its far less intense then I had assumed. It seems there was an error sending me my schedual and I assumed it was about 3-4 weeks of 7 hours training every day. Fortunantly its (normally) only saturdays that are taken up due to most people having courses or jobs to attend to. This means it'll be a lot longer in training then I thought but I can't complain after how fun it was. Going to have to change some plans that assumed I'd have the weekends after a month, but that's relatively minor.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Designing propper bosses in PnP RPGs

I should first mention, a good deal of this knowledge comes from my more experienced friend who has designed far more monsters made to fufil this roll, but I've been doing it a while and I'd like to think I know a few tricks too.

I should say, I've never really been a fan of the idea of 'bosses' as they tend to work out in either dungeon crawls or typical games, a big fellow lurking at the end of the dungeon who is arbitrarily a stronger, tougher foe. That seems uninteresting and often brings up questions for why they aren't guarding the front entrance personally. A lot of games have mechanics explicitly for this in enemies, and I try to avoid those systems.

What I do love is unique people that actually deserve either a position of having the power/resources to be a challenge. Singular monsters that come alone to mess things up, powerful pets, named, plotty important people. Its more appealing and at least a little more original. But I'm not a fan of running dungeon crawls, so that affects it too.

That's what I try to  go for but these tricks will work with both schools, but the latter is my primary focus.

  •  Build them like a tank. A lot of games give multiple ways for people to defend themselves, these are easily broken down to they're either so fast they're hard to hit, or so tough a hit doesn't meaningfully hurt. These are both valid options for players, but a major enemy will often find itself outnumbered and surrounded. It needs to be able to endure multiple successful attacks, even if the attack needs to be very accurate, its a different game for a dodgey player avoiding one enemies attack and a dodgey boss avoiding four or five simultaneous attacks. Sheer luck will let enemies hit regularly, but without endurance, they'll be weakened far quicker. Conversely, if they're more resistant, they'll be hit more, but either lose so little health it won't matter for the time needed for them to provide the challenge, or they'll resist puny attacks, causing the players to need to expend resources to help, a bit of a challenge in itself.
  • Give them a safety net. Some sort of way that lets them re-attempt a failed attack, avoid or reduce the impact of a particularly bad one, or heal up some damage. Its best if that's limited. The fight should end, but its nice to make a backup so that it doesn't just too quickly. Players, being the cruel and petty things they are, also enjoy removing the precious resources of their enemies.
  • Mobility, this is more subjective to systems, but you want to ensure that every character can be reached, even if only difficultly. The ability to fly or shoot at flying ranged attackers. The ability to continue moving to chase down people that run. Players that learn they can exploit something because it can't get up to or catch up with them will take every opportunity to.
  • When building or testing, if you can, aim for being just a tad over the line of too powerful. This is very hard to get right, and goes against initial common sense, but this ensures you'll have the closest you get to a desirable challenge. Not only that, players are like cornered animals. They'll scrape up every single little advantage they can get. This is fairly appropriate for important for challenging fights.
  • Never be afraid to have the environment play a part in fights. Its often looked down on and considered a gimmick, but if its something thats telegraphed, everywhere or rare can be accepted, and if it's  very manipulable environment during a fight, especially if with a little effort players can turn it against their enemies or use it for their own advantage they will often absolutely adore it. Players using something that isn't just their ability to devastating effect is probably one of the single most memorable things they'll come away from games with.
I'm sure there's more tips, but this is the largest points I can think of for right now. If you can think of any other ideas, please mention them!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A short little catch up

Man, it has been a long time since I've touched this. I doubt people even care, but that's alright. I'm free enough I can try again on hunting down a regular viewership. I initially stopped updating, telling myself it'd just be till I had some news, I had none, sickness and events caused me to miss finishing my game right when schedulaed, which would'a been a major subject, then games like Deus Ex added onto that.

Now though? I think I've got news in droves. How to sum up the last month or so?

  • New games, Deus Ex has been awesome fun, though I can add nothing new that's not know, its awful outsourced bosses almost ruin the game. I haven't actually beaten the game, I faff around too much with othet things to focus on it, then I think about making new characters that are built smarter. It's a mess.
  • I've been spending more time on old games, trying to catch them all in pokemon, a goal I'll never achive legitimately due to event legendary and living in Australia, but I try. Mount and Blade, probably one of the most fun games ever, and most of all a recent (re)purchase of GTA 4 on the PC, as opposed to my old 360 copy. It was cheaper to get it with the episodes, rather then just get them on xbox live due to Australian point costs. Plus I don't have to deal with my SD TV and inability to enjoy the Euphoria engine, I hate it.
  • My SD TV evidently hates me back, it blew up in my face when I last tried to play on it. Good riddence. Now I have... the spare old SD TV we couldn't even sell. At least it does work for non HD games.
  • Jobs have been interesting. I got a big interview with the suicide hotline I've been going for, an indimidating as fuck pannel interview, But I actually did great at it. Maybe too bad. I could visibly see a bit of disappointment when, on an attempt at grossing me out with a story, I spent several long seconds debating on if I should answer with empathy and find that offputting, or misanthropic and honest and say I find it interesting, and finally picking the latter. When I got talking of plans for furthering study in psychopathology, I was offered the papers I needed to sign on the spot, I'll be attending the training next week.
  • Only a few days latter I got an interview with a company I was seeking a job from a long time ago. like, years, specifically the one I stopped bothering with on being told they'd only accept 'official' jobs that I'd been paid for. The interview, just for setup, was hellish. No cothes were clean or ready, hair was a mess, car wouldn't work. I finally get in, and my interview goes okay, I slaughtered the written part but I recorded myself during the one on one part and I was a tragedy. Plus I had already made commitments with the hotline and confirmed them at this point. 
  • A week later, after not only had the hotline details been done even more, I'd already completed it's online components, but I was looking into tying it directly into education, furthering it all for myself, it'd shave just a little time off the 8~10 years I kind of want to spend on study. And the motherfuckers offer me a job. It'd kill every one of these and give me 4 hours a day not spent sleeping, working or commuting. If I don't sleep in. Oh and they want me on weekends too. I have to turn this down, I'd literally have nothing to live for besides this. Maybe two years ago I'd consider this, but its three months till education again, two weeks till hotline training. And so I do.
  • But then the unemployment agency find out I've turned down paid employment for filthy plebeian volunteer work. The hell I get for this is so bad I even gave up for a while and tried to see if I could get the job they were offering still. I don't. They don't care. How could I try and help with people that are suicidal (Less then 1% of suicide callers attempt suicide. Its merely potential/now criminals or the extremely depressed. Thats even less important) while furthering my life long career goals, as opposed to burning myself out of wanting to work ever, doing nothing for three months straight, quitting for education, and getting shit for quitting a job when I now have university fees to pay. Maybe after having my unemployment pay removed for 8 weeks'll learn me.I hate Excelior for this so much, I'd boycott everything they touch but since their main focus is helping with Australian taxes, I'm gonna have trouble avoiding that, for now...
  • On an infinity happier note, I finally finished my long, long, long running campaign. Not only that, actually, but I got it finished in a way that I think my players found fun and interesting. A little minor drama happened but that kept it all being a happy ending, too, instead of a sad one. It had a lot of closure. Frankly I kind of surprised myself at how well it turned out. A quirk of RPGs is that endings for them are probably the single hardest thing to do. That, or a little of monster design are going to be my next post, which'll be here soon. Hopefully. Now though, my focus is on the next game.
It's been an interesting mess. I definitely do not want to have a pause like this in my activity again. There's no excuse for letting all this slide by the wayside.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finishing up strong

I hate days where I have to go out for things like appointments. Like any some sort of misanthrope-hikikomori thing I get less and less able to be comfortable outside for long periods of time. I spent all of yesterday bouncing around waiting till the end of the day, getting nearly nothing done physically. I try and work on this by going out daily for short times but it only seems to get worse faster then it gets better.

It does give me time to think though, and it gives me lots of time to think though, and with both my friends and myself finishing up long running tabletop games and video games, this has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and is a common area of screwing up in games of all kinds.I find it a very common theme that the end of a game things just... fall apart. As the deadline looms, patience wanes, the budget shrinks, the audience locks in on things you don't want them to know, or get too annoying or any combinations of these will cause a game will lose quality rapidly. Actually this often applies to movies, TV shows and other things. You need to rush things and dump information. Remind people of things they should know. Challenge them. Its a mess and its easy to make mistakes. Or forget to bug test. I'm looking at you Obsidian Entertainment.

Unfortunately, its also the worst place to make mistakes. Its what people will remember you best for. The last things that happened and how it all comes to a close, not the humble beginnings no matter how glorious they were at the time, nor dramatic scenes in the middle. It's simply how we're wired. To that end as a person on the internet I offer my uneducated advice to all creators of things out there:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just as planned

I've been waiting a while for this one. Just a casual look at my anime collection and on seeing both Death note and Code Geass taking up large parts of it, I'm a fan of the just as planned type of move. A big one. This is no secret as elements have come out in several games of mine. What's a secret about it is normally the how.

Yesterday, in one of the final sessions for my current game (not including at least one more combat will (hopefully) take) I finally got to reveal the major one, revealing that an NPC the players have been around for a long time is an avatar of Nyarlathotep, and oh boy how fun this has been~

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Complicated systems

Ahh, I'm finally 'officially' running the end game, wherein lies points of no return and such for my game. It was a busy one today, and some weird things came up.

Nothing else has also reminded me of how I feel about Cthulhutech in a long while.

I certainly like the system, its complex set of rolls make the game feel dynamic. It gives it a very anime feel, where even without skill, a little luck can turn an attack into something massive, skill only adds to it. It really adds a lot when not only are you in a fight with some sort of lovecraftian tentacled monsters, either in a mech or in a fleshy monster suit, and it can suddenly turn around on you and leave you very wounded, or go in your favour ripping it apart like something from Evangelion mechanically.

But boy oh boy, rolling six attacks, then six dodges, then six armour checks, then a tenacity check for each of the six attacks that did damage, then a duration for how long the poison lasts every time it works as just one action among many, on top of doing this for combat of all sorts, such a lovely mess.

Mutants and masterminds is certainly just as complex at times, especially with certain plans of mine, but oh boy. A single save or two a turn, combined with only the very occasional defensive rolls, will be such a load off of my mind.

A friend of mine just did a post detailing a recent test, and while we discovered a few issues we're gonna have to work on for my upcoming game, but even in spite of that, simply rolling attack, receiving toughness, then adding trip? Childsplay to me. Adding all manner of other negative effects are just a little more of this. D20 has issues but complex rolls in my opinion aren't one of them.

Another good thing about a new game, hopefully, a fresh start for players and gameplay. One of the funnier things today, having to talk one of the players being very stupidly stubborn into spending a limited but easily enough regained resource to avoid something that'd possibly kill them due to a massive roll. They have a tendency to be stupidly stubborn on these things. Or maybe they were just suicidal, who knows.

In the mess, I offered to even make a secret deal to forgo damage to help me with plot a bit. Then proceeded to get into around an hour long discussion basically about how I'm awful for offering such. Seemed valid to me at the time, I want more then one player dealing with the last game session or two and saving the world and all that nonsense. It'd probably cancel the game, that'd mean a LOT of wasted effort. Maybe I shouldn't have offered such, and normally wouldn't, but circumstances got to me. Still, of all the things to complain about. Mercies like that are rare things, especially from me.

I guess I can only hope that thy won't bitch so much when it doesn't come up with the upcoming sessions, or my next game, I've shown my players this before and happily will again, where sudden and unceremonious death will be not just happen, but likely be standard, because with its circumstances I know I'll always have room for another Player Character to fit in.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strange reminders of childhood

Of all the game genres out there, given how much of an out atheist I am, one of my favorite genres, probably right after that Oddworld style puzzle/platformer genre that makes up my number one, I'm a fan of the god game genre.

It's a tough one to like, There are very few of the games, they're not that popular, and some of the games in more recent times (Black and White) are awful. I tend to have to make do with RTSes if I want them, but it's so fun.

I can easily remember where it all started, but a bit of backstory to explain, I'm poor as all hell, and my television picked up our four local public channels in black and white, I would always watch movies like Godzilla, horror films and sub par pornos on the Special Broadcasting Service channel, but after about 11, my mother would go to sleep and I couldn't leave the TV on making noise or I'd be disturbing her, so I would play my megadrive, (Or Genesis, if you're American) which didn't have a sound cable.

I had a pretty small selection of games, and not that many of them lasted a long time, but one I could just replay over and over. Populous. Due to my cardridge being damaged, It wouldn't even work half the time, so I would spend a half hour taking it out and putting it back in until it would start up right, and play until either I pass out or the sun came up and it was time to go to school. The first time that happened was when I realized I have insomnia.

So many hours spent, staring at that book, its likely to blame for a lot of my issues. Why I flatten all ground in Minecraft, Why I tolerated an entire game long tutorial in black and white, why I didn't replace my non SonyPS1 memory card that liked to randomly delete my saves until Final Fantasy 9 came out...

And now, From Dust is out. I didn't even know about this, let alone that it's made by the same people, but I pre-ordered it as soon as I did. Since it's finally come out on Steam, it's been what I've been playing all day.

Annoyingly, I spent yesterday pulling an all nighter, to get onto 'good' sleeping hours for things, but after being awake so long, I slept 12 hours straight and woke up finding it all messed up again, and I have an important appointment tomorrow, so it looks like I'll need to do the same again tonight.

I've already beaten From Dust, its a very short game, but it looks like it'll be fun for finding alternative ways to beat a lot of the stages, as well as venting any frustration I'll have with the appointment.

If you like god games, I recommend trying a demo at least, it's very true to the genre, but otherwise it depends on how much you value $15 for purchase. It can be VERY frustrating, as opposed to satisfyingly hard, and is a bit too absent in story, in a bad way. I like filling in blanks and interpretation, but it feels completely intangible here, so sadly this is one I think only really has game play going for it. Not entirely my thing.

Still, it'll make for a good bit of fun nostalgia.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Designing a villa- helpful, benign ally

Be warned, Madoka Magica spoilers inside.

A couple things have inspired this. Mainly the announcement of "Sparkly Magic Adventure RPG", a wonderful title that sounds like it came from a very self aware design team, where its few screen shots suggest you play as the character, a concept already done once (though at the time of posting that link's down, but I played it earlier the same day.)

Mohikan5 showing just the beginning of things I've gone through trying to come up with this.

I should note, I will have to try to not give away too much, since I have players that read this place, but a mix of truth, misdirection and avoiding the issue will hopefully work well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More of the inevitable minecraft

I don't have a problem with focus, not at all. I just spent most of the last couple days shirking non job getting duties. Which is a shame, I'll soon have my group back together and have to theoretically deliver a climactic endgame of a year long campaign...

But, even when avoiding things I have to do, even when I want to do, I have a habit of getting other things done. One day I'll learn to apply this. But for now, more minecraft, this time my 'main' world I mess around on.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The inevitable Minecraft post

Like pretty much everyone else on the internet at this point (I hope. If you don't, you need to fix that.) I, and most of my friends play Minecraft.

We usually chill on a friend's server as he has a both good computer and better internet connection then the rest of us, but in celebration of my new internet speeds, we decided to test how my world would work.

We got a bit carried away and spent the entire day messing around. Ignore the creeper damage, we decided to take a break before going to get new glass.


It started a little weird, we spawned in a tree. A tall one at that. On some experimentation, we sound our spawn seemed to move around and encompass a general area around a hill. I'm still not sure if that's a glitch or a thing in the game now. But we decided we needed to build shelter.

We wound up with what we considered the ugliest house in all of minecraft, it was long, short and just floated in the air, save for one corner resting atop the tree. Monsters spawned indoors while trying to sleep if we didn't just wind up trapped in a wall trying to sleep. it was shaped almost like a coffin or tipped over phone booth, and wound up being dubbed the Retardis because of that.

To redeem our shame, we spent the rest of the day building around it with an equally strange building and courtyard, that ended up having a nice look to it if you ask me, very cubist and modern. Inside that top layer, protected by dirt but encased in wood is the retardis, set us so that if the house ever catches fire its shame shall again be known, but until then it will remain concealed from all.

I also built an entire house of TNT, invited my friends inside to check out how I furnished it and then sealed the door with heavy rocks and set it on fire to kill them, destroying an entire island it was on.

The inside of the new house is very nice, is sparse. We found a neat glitch that let us place torches on chests and that glass tube goes up to the dark area inside the retardis, letting Creepers or the like drop down and be pets without becoming dangerous.

Its pretty much only the house, which has one and a half sorta rooms and a work in progress courtyard for now, but it was a fun day. We may develop things further, but that will remain to be seen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Only a short post for now

Not a lot of actual accomplishment significance has happened in the last couple days, I think I'm finally recovered from being sick so I can't use that as much of an excuse anymore.

There has been some interesting things though, the other day I checked out my ISP and it seems they recently overhauled their plans, drastically improving them without telling us. Shadey, but forgiveable when after a single phone call they give you five times the bandwidth limitations and twice the speed for less money.

I am extremely happy about this. As self admittedly internet addicted as I am, this must be what it's like to grow your own drugs.

Other news, not much. I've negected game design in favor of playing the new game from Carpe Fulgur of Recettear fame, Chantelise, which I am awful at, and finally enjoying Limbo, which I didn't try on the 360 because I've never been interested in the arcade.

Chantelise is a wonderful dungeon crawler sort of action game, I am very bad at it but its enjoyable and amusing. It's spiritual prequel from the same translators and Japanese game makers, Recettear has been very influential for amusement among my circle of friends and this has the potential to be the same.

Interestingly I found a more hard/literal translation of the original Japanese dialogue and it seems at least all the charm in this was inserted by the translators, the original was very mundane by Japanese standards, slightly perverted and lackluster jokes you'd find in typical slice of life-esque anime. I'm fine with such, normally, but I'm glad they went a bit off the rails for these games. It adds a lot it wouldn't otherwise have.

Limbo on the other hand is something I'm far better at. I think if I have to pick that sort of puzzle/platformer genre you find in games like Another World(/Out of This World), Flashback and Abe's Oddysee are my singular favourite type of game. I don't know why, but I have so much fun figuring out the exact pattern of control and timing needed to get from one cruel puzzle to another in an endless cycle just appeals to me. It's a shame its a very small genre of games.

Add on a dark and morbid world, unexplained mysteries comprising the entire plot and artsy fartsy nonsense like its entirely in black and white and its like the game was made for me.

That's it for now. I have other ideas I may talk about later that are more complex, but for now I'm just taking a break with videogames. What about you guys? What kinds of niche elements to games make you love them?

Monday, August 1, 2011

In which a person in 2012 complains about the difficulty of finding a job

I've been painfully sick the last couple of days and have spent my time housebound trying to find employment.

This being a hard thing is, currently with the way things are going, is no surprise, but this has been a long term problem for me. Even now at the age of 24 I've yet to find a single paying job despite much, much trying.

This isn't to say I'm unqualified, I've spent years working jobs that include with rough estimates on the time;

  • Gardening and construction (4 months)
  • Brushhand work (5 months)
  • Animal care (4 months)
  • Delivery (4 months)
  • Retail sales (6 months)
  • Werehousing (5 months)
The problem, it's all been volunteer work. How charitable of me, unfortunately volunteer work will get you nothing more then the respect of people. Being as apathetic as I am, that's not terribly valuable.

This causes the weird disjoint, as many people very much respect volunteer work, its also just shy of official at times. I think my favourite time is when I've been told by certain companies that I clearly understand what the job entails, but they won't hire me because I laid qualifications I've been paid for.

I've been told every job advertised gets like, a hundred applicants it needs to sort out, when they only need one or two people, and I imagine this is true with the quality of excuses I've heard over the years, and some of the cutting points are just sad if the company is trying to maintain some self respect.

Now though, with jobs being bad for everyone as opposed to just us misanthropic hikkis and the like. I pretty much approach the finesse of a shotgun. Throw as many resumes out there, pay attention to jobs you actively want that you hand deliver resumes at while you use the internet for anything else you can do without going postal.

Now that I've dropped out of my useless computer class, I'm trying this now. I doubt I'll be able to find anything but I can hope.

If I don't soon, due to Australian laws cracking down on this at the worst possible time (Hey, unemployment's at an all time high, lets ramp up the demand they get a job within a couple months to weeks or lose benefits, that'll endear people to the government and make them not want to leave.), I'll wind up being 'encouraged' to get another volunteer job to get experience I can list on a resume, which is always a good thing, as everyone respects volunteer workers and you get very real experience.

And the cycle will continue again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finding a balence, crippling and empowering.

I've been so slow with this blog lately. I'm going to try and kick it back into gear. I have no excuse right now, being on internet with a bandwidth limit doesn't give many other options for things to do anyway.

I've been hard at work though. Within the next two weeks, I'm hoping, I will finally be finishing up the very long campaign I've been running. Trying to figure out how to get things going. I can only hope I'll get something climactic enough once it's done.

And once I'm finally finished with it, I'll be free of the Cthulhutech system, at blood last. It had its problems, but I tend to love it for them, but after running two very long campaigns, an attempted third and playing in another, I won't be touching it again until I hear a very appealing concept.

....Instead with my new game, I'm jumping into Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition, a game in which two of MY friends are finishing up long running campaigns soon. Maybe when its over, if these plans don't ruin all my friendships I'll have finally thought up ideas for a more original system to offer my friends.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Din of Celestial Birds, by Brian Evenson

The review for Petrified Forest will be delayed, I think. I've been busy and unable to focus on the story, its a bit more abstract then I'm used to. I'm quickly discovering I'm bad at reading books. I can't imagine where I picked up that habit from in the last, I dunno decade of dealing almost exclusively with computers.

In the meantime, a much shorter and great story! Spoilers for the story inside.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stat by stat, putting it together~

Stat by stat,
Putting it together
Power by power,
Only way to make a true monster.
Every little idea for a complication
Only satisfactory when it makes evil laughter.

Having just the concept is frustration
Gotta have the points make it real
Statting it all-
That's what counts.

Awful song parodies aside, they have it very right at times when it comes to finishing one campaign and starting another and you want to make both work right and impress and/or horrify your players.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Office of Doom, by Richard Bowes

Spoilers, what little I can divine anyway.

One of the writers of the last story and I have something in common, we love the titles of Lovecraft's stories. The Colour out of Space,  At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, they both describe everything and nothing about the story.

This sounds like the episode title to something from Invader Zim...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A surprise in the mail and a review: The Crevasse

I've finally beaten Alice: Madness Returns, I tend to be slow with games when I have multiple, and the steam sale and getting back into pokemon and Magic: The Gathering have eaten a lot of my time. Much of what I said before still applies, but I'm gonna mull things over before I say anything more substancial. So many great ideas for Psychoka, however. And if I see another eyeless doll head for a month I'll claw out my own eyes. They really did overuse them by the final boss.

A bigger bit of news, in the mail today arrived a book I ordered. Only near as I can tell I didn't order it nor did any friends or family. It arrived in a box full of newspaper clippings and a statue of some horrible creature... It's called Lovecraft Unbound, being a Mythos obsessed nerd, its the type of thing I want, but it was only ordered on the 24th of june, and my memory isn't that bad, so I have no idea where it came from. It's a collection of short stories that aims for original lovecraftian horror, as opposed to the normal pastiche, a noble endevor I can support.

I've had the idea that I'll try and read a short story and do a review of each a day, as on getting a seemingly free book, the least I can offer is some critique and advertisement. No promises on such speed though, I'm a slow reader. I will summarise the plot in these, so expect mild spoilers. Awesome information, exact details and the like will likely be spared. In this case the spoilers are pretty heavy. That said these are short stories in an anthology, I doubt it'll be much of an issue. Onto the first review;

The Crevasse, by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coping with (Player Character) Loss

Another post made a day after the events of my game that trigger it. (Two if I don't get this done before midnight~) Conflict is a very common thing in games, for similar reasons to video games, it works well for resolving things and entirely non-combatant games are hard. (Not impossible by any means, just hard.) With conflict comes the ever present possibility of death taking any player character, and that is the topic of this small rant.

I don't want to get on the topic of how frequently PCs should die or how justified or unfair PC deaths can be, those are each their own topics I could probably write novels on if I tried.Rather this is about how PCs and games approach the subject of their characters losses in the first place.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dive Into The Sky

Hey everyone! As may be obvious, a major hobby and time waster of mine is tabletop RPGs, most of these are made by professional companies of people that know what they're doing, but not all!

Myself but far more so some friends of mine have been working on creating a RPG based on the Mecha Musume genre, and heavily influenced on the manga and anime Strike Witches, and the one who started the project has just opened up a blog dedicated to its development.

Nyanpyoun illistrating the basic premise of the genre and anime.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Late Night Madness

Sorry I've not posted in some time, Haven't been feeling well. I have however been keeping myself distracted with video games. Good news is this gives me a chance to talk about them. The steam sales may be partially to blame. Best news is Alice, Madness Returns finally arrived, and I've been waiting for that for a long time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Luck of the dice

I have a few topics, but after my game yesterday this is the most prevalent in my mind.

Within my own game, a couple things I've been hinting at a few things that near as I can tell, completely flew over the PCs heads. (though probably more esoteric then normal, because ultimately unimportant.) I've had a character always unsure of if the PCs were secretly sort of allies of his own group, or an enemy group, the truth is they're the latter, but the two parties have never really talked honest enough for this to slip and turn into a fight. Then, as a joke at that, one of the PCs made a very, very good roll, at their seduction skill at that!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Ahh, it's good to have the internet again. For the last week and some change, my internet ran out, leaving me with just 56k speeds, or about 2kbs for the last two days, it's a problem with living in Australia. We have limited bandwidth if you want a decent speed. Going to be the second biggest problem with Australian internet soon as I understand but ranting on that could legitimately get me in trouble.

Instead, I've been doing as much as I can offline. Working on Psychoka notes, Pokemon (Finally beating the main game and getting started on catching them all.) and working on minecraft. The first thing I did with my internet returning at the beginning of this month for mortify myself with a stream of my going insane, trying to build a redstone gate. I may include pictures of the map I'm on soon, once I get it prettied up.

There are some good parts to all this though. I've finally gone through with dropping out of my IT course. Now I have everything I wanted to know from the course, its work is just superfluous and a complete waste of time. Especially with the teachers. I've seen bad teachers in my time, but at least they did things. Teaching is a complicated subject and a important one to me, and there are a lot of reasons why expectations may be unfair, but when they'll literally spend entire days ignoring the classes requests for help or don't attend classes themselves? It's not worth dealing with.

Now it's time to focus on psychology for next year, while I look into keeping myself from getting in trouble by volunteer time spent with a local suicide hotline. A very nice ordered textbook arrived from America today and a couple more are in the mail.

Another short bit of news for future blog posts, I'm rewatching a bit of the DC Animated Universe cartoons. I've always held these are great, especially for learning a number of lessons important to RPGs, and a friend has encouraged me to try and do blogs of RPG talk based on each episode. An idea I like. I may work on the first tonight, while I debate between sleep or staying awake for my own game tomorrow, after arriving ten minutes late for his today...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thoon wants to be the very best, like no one ever was...

I've been feeling like crap for the last 24 hours now, slept maybe 12 of them. Spent the rest of it madly writing ideas for Psychoka, then spent some time digging up my DS and playing Pokemon Black. I really forgot just how messed up the game can be.

I've always liked Pokemon, It's the only Nintendo game that hasn't messed up fatally yet if you ask me, and that's because I ignore the console released games. One large reason is because it plays with the element known commonly on the internet as grimdark, with vague threats of unpleasent things to characters and pokemon having disturbing facts that aren't elaborated on. I'll always be tempted to run a campaign based on those parts if I could figure out good mechanics for it...

But, sometimes it's almost like Black and White take this to the point of farce. Be warned, Pokemon B/W spoilers inside, if pokemon can be spoiled.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

That Advanced Networking I just did sure comes in handy...

Boy I sure do love it when half way into the day at class the network cuts out on us, ruins half the classes tests because hurpityderp hosting important things like tests on a local server is too much work, and we can't do any work for the rest of the day. So screw this, I'm looking back into volunteering for Lifeline. It's probably strange to some how I'm skipping classes on tech support and help desks but seeking to work for a suicide hotline, but if I'm going to work with faulty computers, at least ninty percept of the time won't be wasted explaining they need to jiggle the brain cables.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tabletop games on the internet, taking advantage of what you've got

You know what I hate? ARGs.

I remember back on an old website that's probably still famous called Neopets, it would occasionally run over-elaborate mysteries for advancing its plot. This picture if you use MS paint on a seemingly solid colour block spells out a URL, which redirects you to another URL with a strange message, if you then delete every second letter you get something telling you about this little pixel you can click on on the main page... It was a mess. In this age of twitters and wikis and obsessive people willing to pay employees to anonymously leak out secrets, they've gotten even worse, now spread across multiple websites with false trails and jobs dedicated to sabotaging efforts to decode them, and when its all said and done, you get things like video clips of people dying to the monster that will be in this upcoming movie without any clearer a picture of what it is.

But, seeing how usable the Internet is, I can see a strange appeal in using it to present something that facilitates immersion into the world.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hinting to players, a constant strugle.

I should have done this after my game yesterday but was distracted.

Spoiler warning: (At this point minor) Tager-chan spoilers can be gleamed from this post, read on at own risk.

I always remember back to this this one event at the tail end of a campaign I played in under a GM now considered reviled in the group. Their desire was to more or less say "This is today's adventure you should go there", a fair goal, by having a NPC with circumstances exactly like my own do certain actions to provoke us to take the same actions. Much snickering at how awful this was handled took place behind their back.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Plans for the future: Psychoka

I wonder if I'll ever come up with a more original name for this? It works, though.

As I mentioned before, this is a game I'm planning, heavily inspired by the anime "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" (Highly recommended, though it definitely isn't for everyone.) In it, each player will be a freshly contracted magical girl, who was granted a wish by a magical, invisible animal like cute mascot creature for the price of fighting the evil "Eidolons".

This being a major source of inspiration for him. Source, Inaba Taiju.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tabletop Games

For those that are interested, here's a list and brief summery of my status of RPGs as of the time of posting this. It'll make for a good starting point for any future posts on any of them.

I'm currently running a Tager game using Cthulhutech, called Tager-chan. It's a bit of a varriation on the normal setting, which is anime of the action, horror or mecha kinds combined with Cthulhu Mythos, in this case, it's the magical girl genre. Tough this game is starting to close up.

The games I'm playing in;
  • A more traditional Magical Girls Game, this uses Mutants and Masterminds. we're a small military group trying to deal with an alien invasion by the Bydo. The GM basing everything heavily on shumps. Myself, I play a thief-y character, far too lazy to use her own magic, instead steals it from her allies or enemies. We just recently left for a trip to Russia to look into a villain/friend we've met a few times.
  • Another M&M game more in the style of a fantasy adventure, though far more for comedy then something serious. Inspired by games like Disgaea. My character in that is a messenger angel of 'love and peace', armed with a gun and with a dozen different kinds of bullets for it, each capable of unique methods of destruction. Currently we're on our endless quest, trying to figure out a way to stop a demoness that's out to destroy the world.
Once my current game ends, I'll be starting my new one, hopefully, which I'll likely discuss in a lot more detail here, Heavily inspired by the anime Madoka Magicka, currently it's under the name Psychoka (get it?) In it, the player are all magical girl agents of a small cute mascot creature, tasked with hunting scary monsters called Eidolons. They're granted a wish as part of the contract, and quickly learn they got more then they bargained for.

What this blog will be

Hey there. Welcome to my blog. This will sort of a gathering ground, as well as my putting myself out there. A place where I can talk about my hobbies and get things sorted. Maybe even have input from others. As well as a place for occasional rants on things. As are always fun.

My main topics I imagine will be the following:

  • Tabletop RPG's Mostly the ones I play in or run myself, which use Mutants and Masterminds and Cthulhutech mainly. Though there will be plenty of talk about other games, or general gaming topics.
  • Video Games. I enjoy streaming games and play many more, mostly other Role playing games in western or Japanese format.
  • Education topics, likely either Psychology or Information Technology. I'm no expert in either though, so this is a fore-warning.
  • Slices of life for my daily life in Australia. Ever wanted to know what its like to be a spiteful internet addicted misanthrope? Now's your chance.
  • Nerd topics, for my lesser hobbies, Star Wars, Magic the Gathering, Cats. There's a lot of these and they'll come up from time to time.
There will be more, I'm hopeful, but this is a solid list of what to bet on. So thank you again and welcome to the horrible mind.