Me: I’m going to make a pie. The baby’s asleep, I should have time.

GM: Really? My eyebrow is arched, suggesting that I don’t believe in the factual nature of that statement. Roll it.

A die clatters.

Me: Ouch, that’s… No, wait, store bought pie crust. That’s a 9.

GM: Well, it’s not a total failure. You forget to thaw the crust in time, so that gives you fits. The filling is, in a word, bland. Maybe the wrong kind of apple? Not enough spices? It comes out alright, but it’s not very inspiring. Your son asks for a piece for a treat, then eats, oh, two bites and decides he’s done. Doesn’t ever ask for it again.

Me: What if I try the “but I worked so hard to make that just for you” bit?

GM: Don’t even bother rolling, that approach had never worked.

Me: Alright, chili cook-off time. I’ve got a recipe that’s won for me before, that’s worth an extra +1. Can I take ten on it?

GM: Not likely, the baby’s awake for most of the prep time. And he’s whiny.

Me: Arrgh. Ok.

A die rolls.

Me: 13.

GM: That’s with the modifiers?

Me: Yeah.

GM: Including the recipe?

Me: Including the recipe. I probably don’t add all the spices that I did last time, since little kids may eat it this time.

GM: Umm…

A sheet of paper is consulted.

GM: Well, we’re not to the cook-off yet, but it’ll probably end up being too spicy for small children anyway. It was a bad roll.

Me: Whatever. I pack the chili into a container and stick it in the fridge.

GM: You’ve got one big container, but you’ll have to stick it in the basement, or you can pack it in two smaller ones and try to fit it in up here.

Me: This is what we’re doing? Uh… geez. Two. It’s midnight. I’ve been up and down the stairs several times now. I’m done.

GM: The fridge is awfully hard to fit anything else into. That pie is taking up a lot of space.

Me: This is the last time I let you sucker me into a dessert making quest. Pie out, chili in. I’ll eat some and put the rest in a smaller container. Jerk.

GM: It’s very awkward, two containers of chili, and one big dish of pie. I think I need you to roll for that.

The die shows no mercy.

Me: Nooooooo…

GM: You fumble something.

Me: Not the chili. Not the chili.

GM: It’s the chili.

Me: Not the full container. The one that’s half full.

GM: It’s the full container. And… yes, some spills out.

Me: Forget this. I’m going to bed.


Babies are exhausting.

This is likely self-evident, but I offer it as justification for not posting anything for lo these many… months? Weeks, at least.

Today, though, I begin my leave of absence from work. Through the end of the year, my primary occupation will be keeping Moose fat and happy (though not too fat; I’ve already been scolded for feeding him too much in one morning).

Secondary goals include general house-husband duties, resuming fitness-type activities that I didn’t find the time for, ditto game design stuff and this blog. I’d like to start cooking again, things with sauces and preparation. I’m inclined not to pick up any programming – that benefits from the kind of consecutive hours of attention that are in short supply from baby naps at this age. I may try out video games again, but maybe not – parental leave for my first is when I put too many hours into Skyrim during naps.

Monster Design

I’ve now had a few fights go by where the PCs killed some things and didn’t get scratched in return. This is unsatisfying to run using involved combat rules; if the outcome is going to be “you kill it but good, and nothing bad happens to you” then is it really worth spending lots of play time to discover that, versus using a faster/more narrative kind of resolution?

While I do wonder what a faster resolution might look like (perhaps a group hazard of some kind?), having been disappointed with running a couple combats means it’s time to re-examine some assumptions and rules relating to combat, especially how monsters are assembled.

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This little bundle of enormous baby staged his breakout this morning. 10 and a half pounds, he voiced his assessment of his new situation by pooping on the nurses, the floor, and so on.

Unrequested Interrupt

After dealing with years of terrible decaying devices, I built a brand new shiny computer. Naturally, it must go bad.

Things had deteriorated to the point of crashing whenever a certain (very low) RAM allocation was reached. I grabbed a copy of memtest, and it stopped/crashed partway through a test. OK, definitely a memory issue.

Step two: get clever. I popped one of the RAM sticks out, and ran memtest again. Everything looks clean. Now I have a working computer. Do I leave well enough alone?

Step three: get too clever. I know I have a problem that’s fixed by pulling one RAM stick out of one slot. But! Maybe the RAM stick is bad, but also maybe the mobo slot is bad. Naturally I must do more experiments.

Out goes the good RAM, in goes the suspect stick into its slot. Now the computer doesn’t boot. Aha, I have learned something. Back in goes the good stick, but the computer still doesn’t boot.

So that’s just how things have been going for me.

Forking Clones

With a working computer, it’s time to figure out what I should actually do.

By day, I’m a mild-mannered (sometimes) C# dev. .NET Core is new and shiny, but I’m already playing with ASP.NET Core and MVC to build a web service, so there’s less to learn if I go a similar route on my own time.

However,  the Rust programming language is something that has caught my eye, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to play with it. That’s why I’m looking for a Rust project to contribute to.

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Contributing to the hobby-space

I’ve shed some digital ink on what’s turned into two different ideas for games — one that’s fairly well developed but has no name, and another that’s got at least a project name (Echoes — ooooh) but is still fairly raw. This is what we do when we have a hobby — we create, and share, and so expand the collective amount of crap jammed into the back of humanity’s closet.

My other “hobby”, which has been entirely a profession to this point, is computer programming. At work (and I’ve mentioned this before), it’s a mostly-.NET shop, but there are other technologies that have caught my eye and though I don’t have a lot of time right now, it’s good to try keeping up with the world. I expect to have lots of free time later this year (the first kid got me through a lot of Skyrim; maybe I can do something more useful while the second one naps), so it’s time for me to start examining a potential second hobby: contributing to open source software.

Where to begin?

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Echoes of Magic and Miracles

Magic in Echoes is meant to be strange and dangerous. I want to recapture a bit more of the spirit of Vancian magic – each spell is a strange entity, seared into the mind and unleashed into the world, not just a dusty formula dutifully memorized each morning in triplicate.

These are my first cut at basic moves around the arcane and the divine. Like the fighting move before, these are only the basics – anyone can be caught in a frantic scrabble with a monster, or accidentally (or intentionally) read a spell, or beg the gods to intervene. Class playbooks would have improved modes of action – fighters taking the fight to monsters, wizards preparing spells, clerics channeling divine miracles – but everyone can fall back on some dangerous basics.

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Echoes in the Apocalypse

I’ve gone back and forth on whether a high-mortality game of repeating character instances needs the rigorous dispassion of the ideal old school referee, or the player action focus of PbtA moves. I think the case can be made made either way, but this time I’m interested in playing with the move structure. So here are some basic moves for a game that tries very hard to kill characters.

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