Oh Hai?!, You’re Still Here!?!

Well, look at that. Another year around the sun and only a single blog post of note in 12 months. Congratulations, I’m sure I win some sort of prize.

Now, while I know I haven’t posted in forever, I have actually been somewhat busy. For those of you who were here last year, I’m referring to my last post where I was talking about rebuilding my old D&D world and revamping it to 5E.

Well, surprise of all surprises. I actually managed to wrangle the squirrels in my brain long enough to bang out a number of updates and upgrades to my world. I’ve always had an “In the beginning…” document that gave a semi-detailed account of the genesis of the world through till the modern age and several rough framework ideas that I’ve used as a basis for the world. I know the politics and the geography, climate and whatnot and can elaborate in some fashion when asked. The problem is that 90% of it has been in my head and I find it hard to put pen to paper and turn the ephemeral into reality.

Or at least it used to be a problem.

I’ve been tinkering with this world inside my head for almost 30 years now and I’ve always struggled to express what was inside my head effectively. I have all these elaborate maps and exotic locales inside my head that I’ve never had the skill to make effectively (I’ve tried multiple times and never been satisfactorily successful with my progress – but that’s a blog for another day). However, in the modern age we have websites like Inkarnate and Wonderdraft that make mapmaking like child’s play. And sites like World Anvil and the Homebrewery make world building easy. Not to mention DnD Beyond for character creation and the various Virtual Tabletop software that exists now. I swear that back in the day, these are the tools I dreamed of having. We are living in a golden age of creative empowerment.

Anyways, now that I have these tools, I’ve put them to somewhat good use. I’ve dabbled with a few of them while also futzing about with my tarsere.shadowmyth.net subdomain. I haven’t really settled on a theme or an idea yet but I decided to nail down some starting points and go from there. I revamped the history into a more cohesive document and tied down a few loose ephemera in the process. What really surprised me however was when I started digging in developing the races (oops. sorry – species rather </insert grumpy old man eyeroll here>)… When I started working on the species, I found that I was developing just as much lore and backstory for the world as I was while creating statblocks for the races that inhabit it. It was mindblowing how much creative power and freedom I had when I added a “fluff” sidebar that explained why X species did Y thing.

All in all, it took me about 2-3 months to actually finish the species and a few other bits then because, like I said, most of the other stuff is inside my brainbox, and I can futz it if I want. I was eager to get back into playing so once the races were done, I grabbed the guys. forced them to make characters and we’ve been stumbling along ever since.

They’ve only managed to reach level 3 and I’m not certain they’ll make it to 4 at this rate but we’re having fun which is all that matters. Stay tuned. I may even post another blog before the end of this year!

Exiled for the Good of the Realm

Well, I blinked again and it’s been two years since my last post. WTF!?!? Where did the time go. Oh I know. Covid. Stupid bastard plague!

Well, It has taken nearly two years but our defenses finally failed and Omicron invaded our house this past week. My Wife and eldest were both laid low by it and have spent the week alternately sleeping it off or lounging on the couch playing on the playstation.

Thankfully, both myself and the youngest tested negative (or were asymptomatic) and could function like semi-normal humans. However due to an overabundance of caution my work told me to take the week off and isolate so I’ve been catering to the whims of two sick people all week and avoiding all human contact.

Since my loving wife and daughter are hogging the PS5 pretty much 24/7 these days, I’ve been left to my own devices and with nothing much else to do, I have been dreaming dark dreams of creativity.

Since I haven’t seen my friends together in one place in over two years I haven’t had many creative outlets. Our Star Wars game ground to a halt for a number of reasons. (1. We couldn’t satisfactorily get it working online with everyone’s computer setup, 2. Fantasy Flight Games/Asmodee shifted the license to Edge Studios and there hasn’t been any books in 2 years, 3. Campaign/Theme fatigue. We need a change.)

With the government continually teasing that they’ll ease lockdown restrictions we’re ever hopeful that we can finish off the last adventure. None of us want to leave it hanging where we left it but we’re already looking for other ideas and games. Since none of my friends wants to be the GM, I’m stuck with it and after messing around with various options of different campaigns, I think we’ve decided to go back to D&D in the 5e setting.

Rather than just dive into one of the pre-built existing settings in D&D, I have to be unique and to that end I’ve decided to go back to my homebrew fantasy campaign, The Realm of Tarsere, and update it to the 5e system. I’ve revamped this system so many times that one would think that I’m sick of it but quite the opposite. The world building is my favourite part!

With this quarantine, when I haven’t been tending the plague-ridden, I’ve been digging through old files, cringing at bad (or weak) world-building decisions, and revamping what I can. I’m a bit of an ADHD squirrel at times because there is so much that I have already written and stored deep in the recesses of my brain that I almost don’t know where to start (Do I redo the map? Do I rebuild the races first? Ooooh! what about the Gods? etc.) but then I settle on something and my hyperfocus kicks in and blammo! Six hours later I have something tangible.

Now I know this is silly as it’s not even something that isn’t going to come to fruition for months yet but right now, with all the shit that’s going on in the world right now, I need it to stay focused and sane.

If you’re bored and want to see my progress of stuff that I will eventually post. Swing over to http://tarsere.shadowmyth.net/. At some point I’ll update the website properly and tweak the theme.

For now. Stay safe out there fellow humans.

Top Almost Twenty-(ish) Movies

On a whim the other day I went through some of my old draft posts and realised it was getting kind of cluttered. It was full of thoughts that never got finished and half formed ideas that I never got around to. Most of them were unpublishable, either due to the moment passing or me just not remembering where I was going with the ideas. I ended up deleting a large amount because I know I’ll never get back to them and their time is gone but I kept a few to work on over the next few weeks.

This is the first one that I’m performing thread necromancy on. I’ve polished it off as best I can and added a few bits here and there. Let’s see how it goes.

So a little over a year and a half ago (Holy crap, I swear it was just yesterday! – Editor), some of you may remember that I did a 7 day book challenge on Facebook. Seven covers of books posted without explanation. Of course I followed up here with the explanation as to why they affected me so.

When it ended, I said I would revisit the topic because there are so many more books than 7 that have affected my life. The more I thought about it though, I realised that every book I’ve read has shaped my life in some form or fashion. Even the ones I hated.

So, what else could I do. Well, this being the modern age and me being a typical Gen-X-er. Why movies of course. I grew up in the middle of the movie rental era (heck come to think of it, I witnessed the whole lifespan of the movie rental phenomenon right to the bitter end, but that’s a blog post for another day.) Back in the days when “please be kind, rewind” actually meant something, I’m pretty certain that I watched most of these movies before it was age appropriate for me to do so. It didn’t do me any harm beyond fuelling my already overactive imagination. Movies may not have had the same impact as books on my young life, they certainly stoked the fires already there.

So without further adieu, here are some of the movies that shaped my youth (In no particular order)

Continue reading “Top Almost Twenty-(ish) Movies”

A Brief Musical Interlude

Awhile back, before all this Covid-19 crap hit the fan, I saw someone post an amusing musical thought experiment on Facebook and figured I’d get around to writing about it at some point. Well, apparently I didn’t.

Now that I have the time, I’ll take a stab at them and see what comes from it. Now obviously I could do this on Facebook but as my trust in the platform’s security is less than zero and while these are fun thought experiments, they’re also thinly veiled social data mining experiments. I’ll play, but in my own corner of the internet where no one goes and therefore less likely to be seen by anyone.

First up. The question was: What is a song that you love by a band that you hate, and then What is a song that you hate by a band that you love?

First one is easy enough for me. I can’t stand Red Hot Chili Peppers in any form and usually turn the station whenever I hear them. I do however really enjoy their version of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground. It’s so frenetic and enthusiastic and I can’t stop myself from cranking the volume every time it comes on in the car.

Second one, not so easy. If I look at a lot of The Tragically Hip’s catalogue, there’s quite a lot that I’m not fond of, especially their later work. It’s good and I’ll listen to it, but it just doesn’t speak to me as much as Road Apples, Fully Completely and Day For Night do. That being said, I think that I’ll have to pick Fiddler’s Green off of their Road Apples album as one I will always turn off when I hear it.

The second challenge was that if you were to have a virtual concert and could only have bands that started with the letters of your name.

G – Green Day
R – Rage Against The Machine
E – Everclear
G – Garbage
O – Offspring
R – Rush
Y – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

M – Modest Mouse
c – Cage The Elephant
F – Foo Fighters
A – Arctic Monkeys
L – Linkin Park
L – Lumineers

While there isn’t any Tragically Hip or Twenty-One Pilots, I think I’ll have a good time nonetheless.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled social distancing.

Well, Hello There.

Ok. I couldn’t resist a little Star Wars inside joke on today of all days.

So, the world is still spinning off its axis and into oblivion. COVID-19 is still going strong. The orange idiot in the south is still suggesting to his cult that they should inject themselves with bleach and UV light as the cure and the rest of the world watches in dumbstruck awe at the shite that pours from his mouth unfiltered.

Thankfully some parts of the world are showing signs of coming out on the other side of this. Lots of places are starting to reopen, though quite frankly, I think it’s too soon. Still no legible cure in sight and the best we can hope for is more social distancing and lots of PPE?… Not the best plan guys.

Anyways… I had originally decided to do a dorky Star Wars pun and make a post about Miniature painting. I hadn’t intended this post to go off the rails and be a state of the world post, though with as pervasive as this thing is, it colours everything we do these days whether we realize it or not. So before I get distracted any further, back to the original plan.

Since the lockdown and stay at home order, I’ve really tried to find something that centers me and calms me down. Too much shit going on in the world these days. I’ve stepped back from most of my video game time (plus my wife has been addicted to Sims4 on the PS4 lately so sharing a console can be a pain) and went old school. I read. I work on my Star Wars campaign and I paint miniatures.

I’ve been painting minis since my AD&D days back in grade 5 (thankfully none of those paint jobs survived) and after a 15+ year hiatus, I realized I missed it and decided to get back into it. I’ve had my new paints and miniatures for a couple of years now since I got back into the hobby but I can’t ever seem to get motivated to start painting with the same sort of passion that I used to. I’ll paint a base coat here, a shade there. One brushstroke on and off every other week sort of thing. I’ve used the excuse that I didn’t have enough time, or that maybe my passion had faded. I certainly don’t have the same skill I had back then and my eyes and hands aren’t as deft as they once were.

During this silly stay at home lockdown, I came to realize that my passion hadn’t faded, I did have the time, and sure my hands and eyes weren’t as young as they used to be but I wasn’t dead yet. As for the skill and “muscle memory”, after a few false starts I came to realize, that yeah I didn’t have the same skill I did before, I actually was better than I used to be. I just needed to do what everyone does… practice.

And practice I did.

After about 6 hours of futzing about, I finally came up with the first model in about 20 years that I have actually completed and am satisfied with.

Now, I can’t say that I’m 100% happy with him, and I could go on and on about what I see wrong about him still, but I honestly learned to accept when I’m done, rather than he’s “finished”. I could fiddle about with him for another 20 years and still not be finished.

I actually went well outside my comfort zone and posted this guy on one of the painting groups I’m a part of on Facebook and it was the weirdest feeling. First, I rarely post anything other than a positive comment here or there and I mostly lurk and admire all the amazing paint jobs and painters whose skill I won’t ever achieve. Yet I took the risk and I was amazed at the feedback and response. It’s the oddest feeling to have a 100+ random strangers like and comment on a piece you worked on. I got a ton of great feedback and it helped a lot to rebuild my confidence in my abilities and the realization that it didn’t have to be perfect, just better than the last one.

Yay me. Since I posted the pic on Facebook, I’ve put more paint to models than I have in years and I look forward to posting more of my work in the near-ish future.

The Distance Between Us

Welcome to 2020. The Surreal world.

It feels like we’re somewhere in the third or fourth month of non-essential shutdown but the reality is that it has only been two weeks for me. It definitely feels like that hazy timeless week between Christmas and New Years where you don’t know the day, can’t remember if you should be at work, day drinking is normal and you debate whether anyone would care if you wore pants or not.

I’m thankfully still employed for the time being, but I’m not really working as I normally would. At most I go into work every couple of days to check on the store for insurance purposes and hang out with my co-managers for a couple of hours trying to “make plans” for when we do come back. The reality is we’re all in shock and can’t quite focus.

My company made the decision to pay all it’s part time staff globally through until the 4th of April which was unprecedented. Last week we were expecting they’d start the layoffs but were again surprised that they extended the pay for one more week. Again, everyone was grateful but we knew it wasn’t going to last forever — there’s only so much a company can do when they don’t have a revenue stream coming in.

The call came down yesterday. All part-timers were getting temporarily laid off. We had to go through and call our whole team and give them the bad news. Now like I said, we were all expecting it and everyone was very understanding when we told them but it was still one of the most emotionally draining moments I’ve had to deal with as a manager.

Sadly it’s not even the first time I’ve done it either…. Blockbuster…. Target… Hey, at least this time it’s only a temporary layoff.

I’ve spent the day today in a daze. I’m worn out. Mentally exhausted and I just want it to be over. This too shall pass… well, yeah. I suppose it will but it needs to hurry up and do so.

Life Imitates Art…

And in case anyone wants to play along at home with my Nerd Bingo….
I direct you thusly to the Shadowrun Timeline

We may be a few years behind the basic framework but Covid-19 = definitely feels like VITAS-1 in my mind. We’ve already got the Political corruption and megacorps. Now we just need to bring on the Metas and The Great Ghost Dance.

Welcome to the Sixth World Chummer!

Adventures in Social Distancing

Well, I think we can all agree that this year has not been anything close to what we expected it to be. I think we all could do with a mulligan on this one if the PTB allow it.

My work has been shut down for 2 weeks (minimum) as a non-essential service. Thankfully, I’m still getting paid for the time being, but there is a relevant fear that if this goes on for a prolonged period, I won’t be. :-/

Like everyone else on the planet, I did not expect to be hiding out in my basement while a pandemic spread across the globe. There is a surreal weirdness to this whole thing. Going to stores and seeing empty shelves because mob mentality made everyone buy all the fucking toilet paper and cans of baked beans. It is almost worse here, because the virus is still in the early stages (and hopefully doesn’t get a lot worse) so there is not a lot of impact outside of the enforced distancing. It’s hard to visualize and comprehend the images that we’re inundated with from various media sources when the people around you are all relatively healthy and yet the idiots abound and panic buy everything, leaving nothing for anyone else.

As I sit here typing this, my kids have now been out of school for a week. We won’t see an online curriculum for them for another two weeks and while we try to keep them to a routine, I’m already willing to hand them their phones and tell them to go play in virtual traffic. As much as I’m living the Introvert’s dream life, I realize how much other people get on my nerves. My family doubly so.

With all this time on my hands, you’d think that I’d be doing something productive like painting all my unpainted miniatures in my pile o’ shame, or organising and building the rest of the bookshelves / secret door in the game room. Nope. Rather than do that, I’m futzing about with Discord to try and get a Server set up so as my friends and I can continue to play our monthly Star Wars game remotely. Priorities right?

Well, there are worse things I could be doing I guess.

I guess I should go and check on the other prisoners in my cell block and see if they’re still alive.

Stay Safe out there folks.

Ninja Stealth Update!

Now with extra filling!

For those of you who aren’t stalking me full time, you may not have noticed the addition of the Gallery link up in the top right corner of the page.

I finally got around to adding a place to show off all my painted miniatures. Unfortunately time and tide have had their effect on my old stuff and I have fewer surviving old pieces than I’d initially hoped. There are some that are salvageable with a few touch ups so I will get them up as soon as I can.

In the meantime, what I have is an empty space to put pics of my new painted miniatures when I finish them :-/ . Guess I better get at it and actually finish a miniature soon.

Challenge Accepted!