Monday, December 26, 2011

In Those Quiet Moments

As a parent you often hear others talk about Christmas morning in glee-filled tones as they recount how their children smiled as they opened their gifts. For many it seems to be the definition of Christmas. But, as many of you are aware: I clearly am not everyone else.

While my children played with their gifts this year a stray thought worked its way into the forefront of my mind. Christmas wasn't just in those frenzied moments of excitement as they tore through brightly colored wrapping paper. Not even in the screams of joy as they discovered the treasures contained within. No, Christmas was in those quiet little moments that awaited them later.

I watched them as they scattered to play and digest the sum total of what had been added to their personal horde. Like contented little dragonlings they scrutinized their tiny mounds and tried to commit them to memory. Now, as a father of 4 I can assure you that this by no means a common occurrence, but one that can only be explained as a miracle side effect of Christmas. Because in those quiet little moments children can be found absentmindedly sharing and playing together without any thought of the matter. In those precious moments a child can set down and play with a a sibling and explore a new toy. A boy can inspect a girl's gift without any scrutiny or insult. There is a true and pure magic in those moments.

Watching my kids simply coexist without argument or parental intervention brought back so many memories. Christmas that seem like forever ago where I myself could just immerse myself in a new set of Lego's and my brother might join me or one of my sisters might marvel at what was forming before me. A time where I could ask of them what they got as well and be regaled by explanations of just what their new acquisitions could accomplish or the delights they promised to provide.

Do you recall any of those simple little magical moments? A time when all the troubles and inequalities would melt away to be replaced by simple joy? The arrival of absent friends or a phone call from a loved one to simply ask in the early morning excitement: "So what did Santa bring?" Knowing full well the flood of detailed litanies that the query might unleash.

Yes, indeed; Christmas is found in those little moments. And while they are sometimes fleeting, I will forever hold them in my heart. May you cherish them too.

And, hey: let's hope there are many more to come!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not So Super Man.

For a child the ideal image of their parents in often no less than that of a superhero. They get to stay up as late as they want, eat anything, and let's not get into the whole issue of reaching the tall cabinets. No, let's face it, when a child looks up at their parents they see someone the terror of the night can't touch and even the boogie man must flee from.

Be that as it may, the sad truth of the matter is that as parents we often lack the glamor of invulnerability much less laser vision. Although any number of powers could prove invaluable in a parents line of work, not to mention really fun. Unfortunately, I could really have used a few super powers several times in my life.

One such time recently popped back into mind. Mind you, it was in the early 90's, and I like many of my friends was hooked on the X-Men animated series that was just getting started. One night I was asleep in my bed, dreaming of the X-Men as they battled the tyrannical tin-cans: the Sentinels.  I watched vividly through the eyes of Wolverine as I launched myself to leap at a Sentinel's head with my claws extended. There was only one problem.

I was on the top bunk.

My eyes opened as I sailed weightless for a second past the spinning ceiling fan before gravity reasserted it's hold. In a surreal flash that was like I was still in the dream, not fully within the confines of reality I plummeted faster than I could consciously register. I struck my head hard against the floor, square on it's top. A chain reaction of electric fire shot down my spine like a cascade of shattered glass. Pain exploded like I had never before known. Somehow I had managed to avoid any real injury, a fact that I have never fully accepted. I mean sometimes injuries can haunt you, and that one has at times resurfaced from memory when there was some vague feeling of discomfort in my spine.

Clearly, I lack an adamantium skeleton or the healing factor of Wolverine.

Which leads me to my most recent act of less than heroic grandeur. There was a loud crash in our kitchen accompanied by a clatter of metal. Naturally, since it was late, and I am a father I decided to investigate. What villainous plot could be afoot, I wondered. Catching my gaze was a cat posing himself to flee the scene of the crime, where he had tried to get at some remains of a roasted chicken. His target now upside down on the floor and successfully forming a mess.

Now, it was at this point I took a step to close the distance and simply pick the cat up so as to deposit it outside while I cleaned up the mess. Otherwise it would of been mostly me trying to swat him away and little would get cleaned. Instead the cat decided to run. Another few steps and I was proving an inescapable foe when he stopped in his tracks. But when I reached for him this time he quickly changed direction and managed to bounce off my feet to run off behind me.

It was then that I knew it had all been a ruse. My feet slid free of the floor beneath them to carry me aloft and the floor joined the cat in it's plot to strike me from behind. Hard. The fall itself, wasn't anything to worry over, I have in all honesty fallen countless times. I instinctively knew I could just roll over and get up with little more than some grunts from the sudden shock of impact.

Alas, I was terribly mistaken. A similar electric fire now decided to swim up from my tailbone and into my lower spine. And in that moment I knew the fury of Bruce Banner. The only thought that could form, aside from the obvious ouch was vengeance.  I fought to claw my way up from the evil floor to renew my efforts against the cat to only be denied.

My merciful wife opened the door as I watched helpless to aid the cat in his escape from my clutches.

Unfortunately I am still bruised and swollen from my not so heroic endeavors. And I really would of given anything to have been able to call on almost any super power then. The cat is still under the protective veil of my wife's charity, and now I have more proof to show my kids that I am indeed not superman. Well, that and then there are all those jokes everyone(especially my wife) are enjoying at my pride's expense.

*sigh* At least now I know who my enemies are. The cat-floor alliance will fall, mark my words. and please, take my advice, keep your eyes on yours too. They'll plot against you...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Measuring A Technician By His Mug.

It is no surprising revelation that among the pop-culture image of technicians and electricians they are often depicted with coffee cup in hand. Now, I can speak from experience that this is no myth nor is it just a trendy thing for said groups to do. Actually, more often than not you generally see such skilled laborers drinking coffee and/or smoking too.

When I went to college I entered into a program(as I may of mention before) that wasn't new or ground-breaking. What it was, though, was a tried and true method of teaching someone key skills. I wanted to know how to fix computers when I started my education, but more than that I just wanted to know how they worked. Did I start with a basic introduction to computers course? No. I sat alongside other students as we learned the basic, ground-floor fundamentals of electrical and electronic circuits.

I spent 2 and a half years taking more than the maximum amount of hours normally limited by the school studying everything I could. When I wasn't in class I was doing homework, working for the school or working another job at night before driving 30-45 minutes home to crash. All this while married with a kid and another on the way. Like many of my fellow classmates I drank coffee all day. I wasn't a smoker, and never have been but many of my peers never missed a chance to add nicotine to their caffeine fueled metabolisms.

But do you know something? Our teachers always had a bigger coffee cup. And the best ones, the most senior instructors with the most experience under their belts; they had the biggest of all. The head of my entire program managed to keep no less than 2 coffee pots on in his office at all times and an assortment of mugs trailing him from office to class rooms like breadcrumbs. All while keeping a cigar stub in hand or mouth always.

After I graduated, I would always note wherever I worked the unspoken scale of people's coffee cups. You can laugh all you want, but the truth of the matter is a simple one. Technical minded workers are statistically proven to work long hours in all number of different environments. They're performance depends on the sharpness of their mind and ability to focus. Troubleshooting for long periods, not to mention a boss pressuring you to get a key piece of equipment back online also means that sometimes they're late for lunches or breaks. That, or they have to be skipped all together.  The end result is a steady coffee drinking habit.

How can I justify the claim that skill correlates with the size of a coffee cup you ask? That is the easiest one of all. You see the younger less experienced technician is often the least senior. Because of this they are often given menial tasks or sent on errands. Couple that with their inexperience and they don't know all the little tricks to expedite their work. Which means they have less and less time to drink their coffee. The older and better technician however has considerable knowledge and skill to allow them to diagnose exactly what is the problem, and then get it fixed as quickly as possible.

Oh, and don't forget; the more vital the technician's skill - the less likely the boss is going to trouble them over a simple matter. Not when a lower ranking one can handle it. You want to keep the big mug happy and supplied with his coffee. Cause you never know when you need him working those long hours in the middle of the night keeping that key equipment going when nobody else can.

So, remember; respect the guy with the bigger mug. Chances are, not only has he earned it, but you will probably need his advice sometime. Perhaps then you can someday be holding a bigger mug yourself.

Which reminds me, I could use a warm up...

You Never Let A Fellow Scribe Down

I got to thinking recently about writers, in general, so to speak. And you know,
something occurred to me. Every writer I have ever met, no matter how isolated or
prone to hermit-like behavior always knew another writer. It's like an unspoken rule that,
much like those fabled immortals they seem to be drawn together. Be it a
collaborator or old friend, chances are if you know someone who even writes as a
hobby they in turn know at least one other writer personally.

Ironic as it may be it is simply a part of the nature of things. Over the years
I have had the fortune to come into contact with some great writers, some I can
even claim as friends. Which is another post for another time. Long story short,
when one of them approached me about writing a piece for their blog I jumped at
the chance.

Mitchell Willie contacted me recently about doing a post for
his blog. A great author in his own right he has been working on
some projects of late that includes some children's books. While I wracked my
noodle on what to write for him it reminded me of a recent bedtime story I told
one of my own children.One I have been told repeatedly by my wife that has to be shared.
A wise man listens to the advice of his spouse.

If a single child enjoys it, or your own inner child, then it was worth sharing.

Kindness Is Magic.

For more great stuff, keep your eyes on

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trah-Dition! Tradition.


It's a word that holds so much weight, at least to me it does. Christmas like all holidays are built on that very word, it's the very nature of our culture. Now, we're all different, and no two people will celebrate the holidays the same. So, it only stands to reason that we all uphold different traditions.

For me, one tradition of the season was a simple, albeit somewhat cliché one: Chestnuts. Growing up my Grandfather had chestnut trees that grew in his yard, those tress used to call to me. They just begged to be climbed and explored. We'd spend hours as children on brisk fall days clambering about their boughs and branches. Not without peril mind you, but that is something about chestnuts - most people don't really know about them. Aside from the obvious bad jokes and a line from a song, most people couldn't tell you what a chestnut even looks like, or how it tastes.

 You see, a chestnut grows inside a armored husk of sorts, its exterior becoming a spiky mace like ball that dangles until the weight of itself severs a tenuous fiber strand. My Grandfather would every week without fail rake up the fallen husks into piles under the trees. He would always caution us about them, but I don't think once I ever saw his fear or worry about us getting hurt playing around them. Honestly, over the years we became experts at removing splinter like needles from ourselves after my Grandmother and Mother had already done it for us thousands of times.

The husks themselves are more than just dangerous, they're tough. We mastered a fine art of using our shoes in a way by standing just so on one to try and force them to burst open along little seems. When the time is right you can even see a slight gap that lets the deep brown chestnut wink at you. But that is not the end of the Chestnuts defenses, left to foil your attempts is a thin robust shell that doesn't yield easily. Generally we'd rush inside with sand buckets full to seize shiny silver nut crackers that was always at the ready, bread tie twisted at their base to keep them closed. On occasion though, we were known to manage to pierce the shell somewhat with our teeth(something I do not recommend you to try by the way) and pick the shell away.

Once you had managed to bypass all it's defenses, a brilliant yellow morsel was left before you, marked with little wrinkles almost like a tiny brain. Sometimes they were dulled shades of pale grey-white, but then those you learned were the bad ones. Every year like clockwork we'd wait for it be just the right time of year to attack those Chestnut trees for their treacherous treasures.  We'd come home with brown paper bags full of the things. For me, Christmas time was simply Chestnut time.

Sadly however as we got older nature would slowly ravage those trees, denying us that precious prize. By the time they were gone I had thought that one simple delight would be forever denied me. Nobody else I knew could claim they had grown up with Chestnut trees, nowhere around me were they available. Save once, one year a small local grocery store had a few small square trays of Styrofoam. Plastic wrap clung to those dark delights, but again I was left to mourn as only a small handful was ever available.

To this very day, I haven't tasted or even seen a Chestnut in almost 10 years. I'd give anything to enjoy one again, much less share that tradition with my own kids. I've even tried to get my hands on a tree to plant of my own. Some traditions, however, are lost to us no matter what we do. But other tradition are left to us to keep and cherish. And those prized memories will always be with me. Much like the smooth feel of a Chestnut tree's bark or the sound of wind as it rustles through the leaves.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

And In The Begining There Was Cyber-Wars.

It all started on a carpeted bedroom floor, grey gloom the only mark left by the day. Images still held my mind like carbonite encased Han Solo. Only a handful of people would probably ever remember those early days, back when a scrawny awkward boy tried his hand at taming his wild imagination and putting it to use. Immediately I found myself winging stories and delighting those who got to take part in them.

Back then, two words seemed to encompass every ounce of excitement you could have with a few friends, a notepad and some dice: Cyber-Wars. Originally everything was simple, the options for players so fundamentally generic. Wanted to play a cyborg, no problem, pick a cybernetic limb. If you had some imagination and picked a cybernetic tail then it was easy you just called yourself scorpion.

But as I grew up I kept seeing things that Cyber-Wars lacked. The stories that could be told kept becoming more and more limited. Fortunately, I could also see where it could grow and all the new avenues it could promise. It took years to refine and develop the setting that had been born out of sheer whimsy after hearing on that fateful day about this wonderful new kind of game my cousin had watched his brother starting to play.

Over almost 21 years Cyber-Wars has morphed from it's infant form into a refined and mature setting with the help of brave and adventures souls. Without them, exploring it's depths, it could never have fully fleshed it's way out into the form it has become. Some have forgotten the times spent rolling dice and being swept away to an imaginary universe, others still talk in excited tones and mutter things like "Oh remember that one time..."

In the end, few things have ever touched me deeper than seeing those dearest me get to experience a portion of something born of my imagination and be left smiling. So, every once in awhile, when someone asks me how did Requiem ever begin, I get to smile. And deep down in the back of my mind I can see 3 boys,  dice rolling on carpet as one asks those immortal words: "so you just roll them, and then what?"

What indeed. 

Derek, Andy, Joe; You guys helped ignite the spark.
Teal, Mitchell, Jon, Courtney, without you the flame would have never caught and grown.
I owe to you all the gratitude I can ever give.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Set Blog To... Peek-A-Boo!

My mind, such as it is, is a fickle thing. It always has been, ever since I can recall. Even as a young man I can remember vividly times when other kids would be playing together while I would be lost in some detailed wonderland of my own mental landscape. I've always been known to possess a certain penchant for cyclical flows and self-isolation tendencies. 

So, those of you who might have cared enough to ask over the last few months as to my whereabouts; let me just concede that once again a switch flipped and I found myself once again hung in a loop of sorts. Ironically, I had lost all interest in World of Warcraft only to one day awake and decide to log back in. Perhaps it was mounting guilt at still having a subscription thanks to another kind soul and not even touching it in a untold months, I'm not even really sure.

All I can say is that, amidst a daily routine I soon found myself blinking and realizing I had my first ever level 85 character(A Death Knight, in point of fact). In all this time, I'm sure it has become apparent that I haven't even been able to pen together a single sentence of a story.  I simply found myself exhausted and empty. Perhaps after several months of generating pent up tales has left me tapped out. Or, perhaps like many other creative minds I simply had to take a vacation from creation and immerse myself into some other imaginative outlet to recharge the batteries and restock the idea tanks. Who knows?

Whatever the reason(s), I can't guarantee anything, but I hope to be less of a digital specter.

Weather you missed me or not, I guess it can be said that the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Only Hurts When I Listen To Insensitive Comments.

You should try working for a living. That one single phrase stands out from my entire day to jab at me like a thick barb looming in my shoe. A day that I can only describe as a whirlwind. Let's review, shall we?

3:00 a.m. - After wrestling Ashes to bed only 3-4 hours prior I am greeted by a wide awake incarnation of said child who proceeds to eat repeatedly.

6:00 a.m. Everyone else rouses to ready themselves for school while my wife and I prepare to venture forth with Ashes for our weekly grocery trip with my Dad and Sister. This is of course after getting my other 3 children on the bus for school.

7:15 a.m. We leave for town.

10:00 a.m. After nearly 3 hours, various stops and Tetris-fu loading of groceries, we return home in time to unload our portion of food etc. In so doing, I must confess I did manage to somehow injure myself. I do not know with any certainty what I did, but I do have some discomfort in my chest now when moving certain ways, coughing, hiccups, etc. Go ahead, laugh, I readily admit the inherent humor.

Rushing, I endeavored to get all our cold stuff stowed away, which of course meant rearranging and removing some other stuff.

11:00 a.m. I Paused to try and get Ashes down for a nap, as she clearly displayed her usual hallmarks of tiredness. While I was preoccupied, Teal went down to get Bryn off the bus and feed him lunch.

12:30 p.m. Trying again to get Ashes down for a nap I am proven victorious.

1:00 p.m. My Dad and I leave to drive 30-45 minutes to go pick up my prescription and then 30-45 minutes back to get it filled and return home.

3:00 p.m. I return home setting myself to taking out the trash, doing dishes and some general clean up.

It is now 6:00 p.m., the kids are fed, and I have bathed the younger three. It seems almost surreal to only just now be opening my little netbook, only to realize this is the first real moment I have had to even reflect on anything.  And yet, even now I have midgets I keep having to juggle, referee, motivate and monitor.

Don't get me wrong, I still recall the exhaustion of brutal labor and long hours. I will never begrudge any hard working soul the right to hold their head in pride for their efforts. But I can't help but shake my head at the notion that raising 4 kids, not to mention my own daily struggles means I don't do anything. I don't claim to do back-breaking work anymore, I can appreciate the difference in type of work as well. But at the end of the day, when some people only have an empty house and perhaps a few pets waiting on them; you may work for a living. However, you should try raising a family, before you judge.

Sorry, even leaving out a lot of little things, my day has been crazy. Apologies for the rant. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

From The Top Shelf - Part 2.

*Sigh* Sometimes I think the various cosmic forces that be have conspired to grant Cthulhu dominion over weekends. I'm not quite sure how it happens, but it seems various events of late keep managing to short-circuit my brain and all possible self-imposed plans. Alas, I digress; let me continue as I proposed to do.

The Coldfire Trilogy by: C.S. Freidman

Much to my own shame and regret the first book of this series lingered on my shelves for a rather lengthy period before I gave it the chance it so richly deserved. As I recall a boyfriend to my older sister left the book with me, hoping no doubt to curry favor I am sure. Sadly I was somewhat hesitant at it's value and it's proposed plot. Coupled with a recently acquired fresh pile of my own additions to my shelves(and perhaps some resentment at the gifts motivations) soon proved to be too much for even common etiquette.

Fortunately, as is often for me, I exhausted my ample supply of new material and once more found the book fresh in my sights. Instantly all doubts were cast aside as I began to read the little beginning glimpse into an event that would prove to shackle me with fascination for one of the two most central figures. A fact I don't deny has shaped various plots and characters for a variety of my own rpg sessions. One I must add has led to many others unfamiliar with it's source to comment on the memorable figure as one of their favorites.

With that said, let's discuss a central element to the whole series, the very foundation of which so many great elements culminate in a wondrous and rich environment. The story takes place on a little planet called Erna, one very akin to earth. About 1200 years ago a colonization ship landed upon the alien world and it's passengers found a new home. Unfortunately some unique characteristics to Erna would prove difficult and puzzling challenges. Namely that of the Fae; a natural force on Erna, one that reacts to the subconscious and is capable of shaping the very fabric of Erna itself.

In a desperate bid to find a way to survive, the colonists sacrifice their technology and all ties to their past. Leaving various moments of curiosity within the story where characters muse over cd's as vast records like books, but with no idea how to read such a thing. However the sacrifice is not without benefit, as the colonists slowly learn to shape some of the very fae of Erna to their own benefit. The end result is a unique and complex system that presents an almost scientific and natural view on something akin to magic.

The greatest strength though in the whole series, and the most enjoyable aspect lies in it's two main characters. Each begins as the anti-thesis for the other and proves as the story unfolds to shape each other just as one might manipulate the fae. Intricate ideals and dogma are touched on and handled masterfully in the books that I found to be a never ending source of fascination and interest.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From The Top Shelf...

For as far back as I can recall it has often been said of me that I am a somewhat picky man in nature. When it comes to almost any topic you'll often find that my tastes are never exactly what are expected. And when it comes to literature, well, let's just say that I've never been able to just pick up the latest best seller and enjoy my weekend. I take my book hunting very seriously, as it is a major source of pleasure for me. One that unfortunately grows ever more difficult with regard to discovering new material worthy of my bookshelf.

At a glance my bookshelf, or at least my primary one(yes, I do have just that many  books), may look like any other bookshelf to the casual eye. But to me, and perhaps the other half of my brain, there is a subtle yet complex system organizing it. Long story short - anything that comes from my top shelf is literary treasure the likes of which I value as if they were priceless artifacts.

Each and every one of them have earned a special place with me, not to mention being responsible for shaping me in a myriad of ways. I thought I might share some of my top shelf, along with some of my own thoughts on them. But, since I've never quite been able to pick favorites or declare a top 10(there are perhaps 43+ titles littering that shelf), I figure I'll just list the contents and go from there. So, without further adieu, let's see what gems await, shall we?

Where to begin... Perhaps with a book I am currently re-reading, one that has proven over the years to be only one of a meager few to bear that claim.

Twilight of the Empire by: Simon R. Green
I found this book some 14 years ago or so, at a k-mart shelf, and immediately it's pages just tugged at my fingertips. In many ways I think it has helped shape my own writing and some concepts that ended up weaving themselves into other projects I have developed. Granted, I am sure a good deal of other readers out there will cite various plot elements and character cliche's as flaws in the book, but this is generally a matter of taste. Now I won't readily deny that some aspects of the book aren't predictable, recurring or lacking originality, but  therein lies one of it's appeals.

The book is a collection of 3 novella's, each one separate but connected to a setting that has come to be known as the Deathstalker Universe. Each story details a set world and group of characters, always returning to their relation to the Empire. Within every tale you learn little facts that you come to expect in the next. For example: Disruptors are vicious and deadly guns that can burn a beam of energy through almost anything but at the cost of a recharge time in between shots. And as is often reminded; it's wiser not to rely on them on their own - as a lot can happen in two minutes.

For me, each of the three worlds were fascinating in their rich detail and description. Green paints a vivid scene and all his characters have memorable traits and qualities that endear themselves to you. Of all three worlds I have to admit I adore Mistworld and Ghostworld the best. Hellworld is a very interesting scenario in it's own right, complete with some very memorable characters. It's only stumbling point for me is an awkward alien antagonistic entity that dubiously lends itself to what I might imagine a really bad acid trip might encompass.

Green does a impeccable job blending a science fiction tale that sweeps countless worlds with wondrous marvels of technology with the gritty determination and drive of fantasy. In the book it isn't just some awkward element when characters draw blades or start tossing daggers, it flows effortlessly along side the blast of disruptors and the hum of energy shields. It just works, in point of fact. And it does so in such a way that it isn't overly complicated with over-abundant trappings of  technology and detailed descriptions that confuse or confound. The whole of the work is just simple, straight-forward fun to loose yourself in.

Well, there is one down. Keep an eye out and I think I'll try and continue this little theme. We'll see what tomorrow holds, shall we?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Briar Patch - Part 1.

Set against the back drop of silent stars and empty space, light glinted along the hull of the Othinn as if it was the rippling of gentle waves. There was no mistaking it's presence as it glided through the void. No one could misinterpret it's intent or it's purpose. Like the motto of it's crew, the Othinn was every bit the embodiment of "the spear's tip." And like the tip of a spear, the Othinn is more than just a weapon, and therein lies it's strength.

Lost in a torrent of thought and memory, Lance Corporal Warren Blake reclined in his quarters, officers manual in hand. Recollection paraded his career before his mind's-eye, highlighting every past opportunity for advancement as he passed in shadow. Not once had he ever even managed to stand out as anything more or less than average. 

"Oh, what am I thinking," Blake sighed. "I'm not cut out to lead anyone," he informed himself as if quoting from an official performance evaluation. To reinforce the point he reminded himself that with a promotion came some measure of spotlight; responsibility he could handle, standing in the spotlight had always terrified him.  Taking an order he could handle, without question, it was giving them that was an issue. More to the point, it was the idea that he was worth obeying.

As Warren Blake contemplated his own self worth, a simple flick of the wrist sent the manual from his hand to come to rest with a thud upon the floor. Unknown to anyone a similar thud was mirrored elsewhere on the ship, an event that fate alone marked, as a stack of papers were dropped beside Captain Jason Taggert. A grim figure in his own right, Taggert was a veteran of both the Rim Wars and the expedition to seek out the Vel-Teh. His gaze never wavered as he studied not the various screens and displays of data, but instead the view of space outside his ship.

Nervously, a mousey voice broke the quiet of the moment: "new orders from fleet, sir." Taggert could almost feel a sense of omen in the words, a slight shift in the tides as it were. With closed eyes and a silent prayer upon his lips, Captain Taggert turned his gaze to the waiting orders. "Very well then, let's see what awaits us this time."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

With A Lump In My Throat And Tears On My Cheeks.

Say whatever you want, but I can admit -without shame, that I cannot watch Saving Private Ryan without finding myself moved to tears at the end. There is just something inherently moving by the story itself and the sense of duty and pride it speaks to of another generation.

An yet here we sat, with exactly that generation that fought and did their duty facing a cold shoulder. Granted I am no veteran, despite desires to the contrary, nor am I senior citizen who has paid their dues for several decades. I am simply a 29 year old man, with a wife and 4 kids who found himself stripped of the ability to provide. I plaid the game by the book, fought to make it through college and got good grades. Sacrificed countless hours of quality time and rest to work 2 jobs and maintain above allowed maximum class hours to graduate. Then I launched myself into any job I could with the diligence I was always encouraged to do so with. I busted my ass for years and set myself to the task expecting to keep towing the same line fore a long time. I never planned to be unable to work or provide for my family, never even got a retirement plan set up even.

For years I had to juggle and struggle to keep us afloat before I managed to get approved for social security. It's always bugged me cause I never thought of myself as someone who deserved it, only to realize the cold shock of reality: without it my kids would suffer. I don't receive a small fortune, I don't even live at the poverty level. We've managed to make it work for us enough that we get by, but rarely have much(if any) money left after expenses each month. Not to mention being able to take care of many things we desperately need to. But I've never really complained, I am not even complaining now, without the help we wouldn't even be able to stay afloat at all.

But now I find myself watching all those in power bickering like snotty children. Those ideals, the honor and duty that our predecessors brought to the table seems lost. Those who fought to get us where we are along with all those who our politicians were elected to safeguard/care for have been spat on. What happened? Why is it that our elected officials came to argue in our darkest hour instead of do their jobs? Especially when their first act could of been one of faith and solidarity by offer to cut/donate of their own pay. Do they not realize the image they paint to their voters? I dare wager most won't see another term.

At one time when we tried to save the per-verbal private ryan, he would of stuck to his duty before allowing himself to be sent home. Our officials somehow missed those character building lessons. And as such, have lost the faith of a lot of the American people. There is always a way, you just have to knuckle down and be willing to act on it, not to mention be willing to see it. I pray our government does so, and soon. Cause right now, I live in fear.

Friday, July 29, 2011

NRV Othinn Vagarant Class Light Cruiser.

The NRV Othinn, a Vagrant class light cruiser, was first commissioned in 3030 R.E. using techniques developed from the design of the Orias Nae. Designed from the beginning as a long-range vessel efficiency was such a focal point for the Othinn that radical changes were implemented in it's build.  As a light cruiser it's combat role was typical assuming it's type - that of escort, patrol, scout and anti-small craft support. But to help increase it's endurance limits when deployed it's armaments were completely reconsidered so that the Othinn completely discarded all missile, rocket and projectile weapon systems. In this regard the Othinn completely relies on energy weapons powered by it's onboard power supply. While this would be an issue for other vessels, the Othinn was equipped with 5 fusion cores in a redundant array to maintain the requirements for it's systems. That way no one fusion core was ever stressed to provide the constant supply of energy necessary for the Othinn.

While contemporary light cruiser design at the time called for extensive missile and rocket systems for defensive barrages as well as offensive strikes. To compensate for this naval designers thought long and hard to find a solution. Their final answer was initially met with criticism when they chose to mount smaller paired medium range Ensis cannons in turrets as it's primary armaments.  Not known for delivering massive damage the Ensis cannons make up for this in the way their mounted. As paired sets they take advantage of their higher rate of fire to deliver a combined rate of fire of up to 40 rounds per minute. Othinn mounted 2 turrets on it's dorsal hull, one fore and one aft of it's amidships along with one central turret on it's ventral giving it an impressive field of fire. To free up the main guns, 4 rapid fire point defense lasers were added in micro-turrets for dealing with close range threats and incoming projectiles that were capable of delivering upwards of 150-200 rounds per minute.

By 3032 R.E. the Othinn was completed and assigned to the 8th fleet's battle group, attached to what would later become the infamous 'Bulldog Brigade' serving along side the Orias Nae herself. Where other ships struggled to stand out among the shadow of the Orias Nae, the Othinn quickly proved time and again worthy of recognition. Adopting the motto: "The Spear's Tip," it's crew became renowned among the fleet, and feared by enemy forces. Appearing rapidly to raid and strike, only to out maneuver other vessels, reappearing to protect the Orias Nae when she was thought to be without her escorts.

In 3036 R.E. the Othinn was praised by the New Republic Navy and was recalled for refit to further refine it based on lessons learned already in the Rim Wars. To further strengthen it's range a 500 LM rating fold drive was installed to ensure "The Spear's Tip" had a far reach. Coupled with it's already proven reaction mass drives even when not engaging it's fold drive the Othinn can maintain a speed of up to 718.457 km/s. Enhancing it's already impressive sensors it was decided to assign a flight of 4 Crovius light fighters equipped for recon duty. And 3 armored Valkyrie light personnel transports along with a 31 naval support staff including pilots. Three 5 man mecha squads from the 'Bulldog Brigade' was also assigned to the Othinn along with dedicated support staff to add an attached marine group of 45 personnel. In total the Othinn found itself staffed with a crew of 128 with a maximum supportable limit of 250.

During the refit, it was found that reviewing the Othinn's tour of duty that current crew compliment with standard dry stores can be deployed for 24-36 months before needing to re-supply. Combat supplies could be maintained nearly indefinitely with the exception of mecha munitions which could support just over 30 days of continuous combat operations.

After it's refit the Othinn was once more redeployed to the 8th fleets battle group. In 3040 R.E., when Orias Nae received orders to seek out the Vel-Teh it was the Othinn that was assigned to escort her as almost the only other vessel capable of the task. Of all the fleet to undertake the mission, only the Orias Nae and the Othinn would return.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Absent DM.

For many people, today is just a day. It is merely a single day out of their week, one they undoubtedly call Wednesday. But for me, it is a day of memory, a day to celebrate the life and legacy of a single figure who has touched my life, and many others. Ernest Gary Gygax. The name may not mean much to you, you may only recognize it in passing as "that guy who created D&D." But for me, Gary Gygax was more than just 'some guy', to me he also became an idea.

Sadly, I have never met Mr. Gygax, I cannot even claim to have passed by him at some convention or really known him personally. And yet, I must admit he has had a profound influence on my life. Or rather he and the legacy he created. There was some element as a child about his game system that grabbed a hold of my young brain and honestly has never let go of it.

Instantly I was fascinated and over the years have even been inspired to try my own hand at game design, as well as storytelling. You could almost say I have developed a life-long love of telling stories because of it. Over time, I have come to understand and grow as a person in ways that I never would have, much less opened up, without such an outlet. Through such a simple thing as Gary Gygax's idea that blossomed into what D&D(etc.) is now, my life, and myself have been shaped and influenced in ways I can see, and some I may never actually be aware of.

I may not be able to be as eloquent as my dear friend, but I owe Gary Gygax a world of thanks. We're all shaped in many ways. I can honestly say, I've never seen any influence from Gary Gygax that was anything less than positive. God Bless you Gary, wherever you are.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memories Of An Old Friend.

1988 - I was an awkward and thin little 7 year old, who was in the midst of the first steps that would come to mark various important roads I would grow to walk. Already a new house was becoming a home to me, which included a much different life then what I was used to. Couple that with a new school and a single cousin as my only fellow classmate I was familiar with, life for me was, well, incredibly rough. And then, my customary yearly pilgrimage to Louisville and the Child Evaluation Center, to be tested and analyzed for any marked improvement or further understanding. 

This time, however, Dr. Weisskopf would introduce me to a delightful notion. Setting in his office he regaled me with the concept of his own personal computer, that not only was an amazing device on it's own... but could also use phone lines to talk to other computers. Instantly my young mind became fascinated, and much to my wonderment the good doc offered to have pc magazines and catalog sent to me in the mail to feed my curiosity. It was also then that one of the only things ever promised to me to aid in my education was actually followed through on and as if by magic I became a blessed owner of a brand new IBM PS/2 Model 25.
The thing was amazing. It had a 8Mhz 8086 CPU with 640Kb of memory, and oh my word, it came running DOS 4.0. For years I spent a set amount of time after school playing on it to help master little things like weekly spelling words, basic math, and so much more. Before long I was digging through encyclopedias to learn anything I could and tinkering on my computer.

For me my model 25 was more than just a learning aid, it became a treasured tool and friend that helped me become so much more than I was. It allowed me to reach in and harness a passion and drive I didn't know was there to help me figure out a way to learn and grow, especially when I was struggling so much to keep up with other students in 'regular classes.'

My fascination with my old computer never wavered though, even as new machines came out. And once I decided to go back to college for computers I almost instantly turned my new knowledge back upon my old companion.

The old horse had been setting in storage for years, and only 5 years ago I dug it out and plugged it in and what do you think happened? Shock and awe. It booted, the only wear age and weather had wrought was little more than some damage to the floppy drive's magnetic heads. But, being a talented scrounger I managed to come up with an almost 20 year old replacement drive while working for my college. Sadly my dear old friend has once more been placed in storage, a shed actually, and I am sure the last 5 years have more than likely been less than kind. Something inside makes me still believe my trusted Model 25 would still hum if I gave it the chance, and I have always said as the kids get older and I can get some space to I was going to restore the old PC out of nostalgia and enjoyment. They don't make them like that anymore. But, unfortunately these days I just don't have the room to set it back up, although, secretly I must confess a guilty desire to try and find some way to do so without upsetting my wife(and protecting it from my midgets).

Of all the computers I have ever had the pleasure to own, I think my Model 25 has lasted the longest, ran the truest, and just been the best one of them all. I never had to reformat it, it never crashed on me, and there was just something about it that endeared itself to me. Enough so that it sparked a deep and lasting love of electronics and computers. To this day the mere thought of an 8086 or an old circuit board riddled with chips and such just fascinates me and ignites a curiosity and wonder I can't put to words. It was, and still is, simply mesmerizing. 

Ever think about your first computer or tech that helped shape you/held a special place for you? Sometimes it's such simple things that set us on the way to becoming what we grow to be.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honor Never Dies.

I'll never forget that night, not as long as I live. I was nine years old, and had just finished a training session with my father. He was teaching me the fine art of handling a duelist's blade, a task that he had begun a few years before. My father had often chastised me for not taking my practice sessions with him seriously. Often I would ask him when frustrated: "But what's thee point of this dad, I mean, who uses a silly blade anymore?" He would always reply in a kind steady tone that was underwritten by an authority I couldn't refute to his face. "Albrecht, always remember, my son, that a blade - much like those called to the most honorable duty, must never fail. It cannot in fact, for a blade never runs out of ammunition. A blade will never jam or fall short on you. A blade is an extension of it's wielder and his skill. The person holding that weapon is a keener edge and better forged tool than any weapon they might wield. Never place your faith in the tool, but instead in the hands that hold it." Laughing, he would always add: "Besides, in tight spaces you cannot always bring a gun to bear on your target. A fact many a member of the Republic Guard never learn or would willingly admit."

Both my father and my uncle had been soldiers in the New Republic military, and both had managed to be selected as worthy to join the elite Republic Guard. The Guard were those who personified the best of what the New Republic's military forces. They were issued some of the best equipment, including hi-tech powered armor, a thermal edge half-blade that could super-heat to pierce thick armor and a vicious sidearm that while looked ceremonial was anything but. Members of the Republic Guard were looked on with respect wherever they went, I remember how I used to idolize the idea of one day joining their ranks myself.

But within the ranks of the Guard was another group, one I only later learned the existence of, and that my own father was among it's prestigious ranks. Within the Guard the most skilled soldiers were chosen, ones who possessed certain key traits to bear the noble duty of the Honor Guard. Where the Republic Guard were the elite of the military, the Honor Guard were the elite of the elite. Rigorously trained for close-quarters combat, defense and special tactics they were issued tasks that heavily armed and armored Republic Guard troops were less than suited for. To fit their duty the Honor Guard abandoned their infamous armor for lightly reinforced jackets they soon came to refer as Arete Fidei; or 'Armor of Faith.' Replacing both their sidearm and trademark blade, the Honor Guard returned to service an almost forgotten weapon and made it their own. The Duelist Blade was a relic of ages past that only saw use among nobility and sport enthusiasts. A small light handle that produced a wisp-like beam of energy it was well suited for duels, and was speed and precision by it's supporters. But as a concealable weapon that was highly reliable and efficient it earned a place in the hands of the Honor Guard.

It wasn't long before almost every Senator or public official demanded Honor Guard bodyguards or escorts due to their skill, noted loyalty and most importantly their ability to protect them without their presence being known.  Unfortunately dissension soon formed among the Republic Guard, especially when rumors began to circulate of the Honor Guard receiving specialized training denied to the Republic Guard itself. I never would of believed it myself, most still don't, but it became fact for me that night.

Without warning the door exploded inward and thunder filled the room knocking me to the floor. While I shook the confusion from my dazed head a strange scene formed before me. My father had taken a stance in front of me, directly between me and three armor-clad figures that I immediately recognized as members of the Republic Guard. In a hushed tone that did little to hide a tinge of fear my father's voice floated back to me, almost as if I was in some terrible dream. "Go, Albrecht, run while you can," my father pleaded with me.

Throwing his helm to the ground, my own uncle declared his presence grinning sadistically and almost dripping with contempt. "Yes, dear nephew, do run. Once we're finished with your disgrace of a father, we'd be more than happy to hunt you down with the rest of the trash." Pained by facing his own brother I saw the hurt in my father's face, I could hear it as he begged for an explanation that might make sense of this madness. "Cayle, what is going on, what is the point here?"

"It's simple, Seraph, I have the privilege to carry orders to execute every last member of the Honor Guard and any who carry the now illegal Duelist's blade. Several Senators are dead, they're Honor Guard assigned escorts no where to be found, all evidence points to your precious little pet-groups' treachery. The Honor Guard is ordered to disband and receive punishment for it's crimes."

As I watched, my own uncle raised his sidearm to fire at my father, his own brother, while the two other weapons follow his lead. At the time I chalked it up to the shock of the moment, the stress's effect on my young mind. Projectiles flew with deadly aim to seek my father's life, and somehow each failed as they met with some shimmer that pulsed before my father. With the roar of some noble beast my father bellowed a challenge that didn't need words. One last gesture was all he could spare to urge me to obey his wishes and flee before he charged forward, fluid and graceful. And yet, the last glimpse I managed to snatch as I ran was of a deadly vision of my father parrying and thrusting against three foes. Not for his life, but instead - for mine.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Introduction to Nathanial Spectre.

Had a interesting little scene come to mind, thought I might expand on it and let it flesh out some feel for Nathanial Spectre, Shadow Captain of the 5th Company of Raven Guard. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

"Listen up Marines," stern a grim a steady toned voice began from the drop-ships rear hatch. Every Marine could hear the voice in their helmet comm-units, even those in other ships heard this recited speech. "This is for those of you who have only just earned your Raven Feathers, and the right to join the 5th Company. You'll do well to remember this: We are the Raven's Memory. We are it's Vengeful Ghost. We have never forgotten the pain inflicted on us, or the grievous insult spat upon our name by traitorous cowards.  Never again shall we allow such villainy to bring harm to our brothers. Some of you have heard the stories, some may even believe the rumors. I'll set them straight, right here, right now. I am not a man. I am not a Marine. I am Shadow-Captain Nathanial Spectre, and I am the Ghost of Muininn. I once had the faith of a chaplain, but when faith alone failed I cast aside mortality and rose from the dead Marines of Isstvan V. As Raven Guard Marines you are all well versed in the combat doctrine of interdiction, as members of Spectres' Interdictors you will become something more. It isn't enough for us to decimate enemy supply lines or slaughter their troops. We must do so mercilessly, we must intercept them as something inhuman and vanish like a ghost. We must deliver the divine censure of the Emperor with the cunning of Corax himself. We must remind our prey to fear not only those Marines they see but also the wraiths of their dead. For the Raven Guard have not forgotten, and their ghosts have an eternal memory as well.”

Adjusting a power-sword slung low on his hip and hefting up a storm bolter, Spectre turned his back to the Marines to stare at the closed hatch. “Make no mistake, battle awaits us,” a grave whisper slipped from his lips. “But death does not await us, for we are already dead. Let’s remind them to fear the ghosts of the dead.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spectre's Interdictors - A Seed of Flavor.

Been tinkering with a bit of flavor to breath life into my little collection of Space Marines. Some manner of giving them an interesting identity, here are some notes as they poured from my wee noggin'. Let me know what you think.

Interdiction is a military term that refers to the act of delaying, disrupting, or destroying enemy forces or supplies en route to the battle area. A distinction is often made between strategic and tactical interdiction. The former refers to operations whose effects are broad and long-term; tactical operations are designed to affect events rapidly and in a localized area.

Interdiction is also used in criminology and law enforcement, such as in the US War on Drugs and in immigration

In Roman Catholic canon law, an interdict  is an ecclesiastical censure that excludes from certain rites of the Church individuals or groups, who nonetheless do not cease to be members of the Church.

In Scottish law, "an interdict is a civil court order that tells a person not to do something or to stay away from you, your children or a specific place, such as your house. If a person doesn't stick to an interdict, the police might be able to arrest them if the interdict gives them the power to do so."

A veteran of Raven Guard's most crippling blow, Nathanial Spectre rose from a young inexperienced marine to become a capable and skilled Shadow Captain. Learning from the harsh mistress of defeat he mastered the tactics and strategies that he has grown to be known for, even among his peers. A promising initiate to his unit's chaplain Spectre looked primed to ascend the ranks as his predecessors replacement when the position became open. However, Spectre became determined to ensure his chapter never fell victim again, and like his namesake chose to set himself to becoming like a ghost. Dutifully he studied tactics and combat doctrine on hit and run warfare and subterfuge. It was Spectre himself who, time and again preached a ceaseless belief in small lighter drop ships capable of rapidly deploying small advanced forces to interdict the enemy, capable of being extracted and redeployed before forces could be marshaled to counter. Over the years a small handful of marines were assigned to him and Spectre was given command of the 5th company. Seizing the opportunity, and some surplus drop ships, Spectre set himself to proving his theories in battle. Poetically, many Raven Guard marines now choose to refer to Spectre as The Ghost of Muninn - In honor of his ability to harass the enemy like some ghost that has not forgotten what happened to it in life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Blossom of Void.

For the record, somehow things have managed to form themselves out of the ethereal vapor that is life into a chaotic barrage of random insanity. Not far off my normal routine I have come to expect from reality and what it enjoys gifting me with. I've never truly grasped any hidden meaning, pattern or even a cause to explain these moments as they occur, but only learned to accept that it is a byproduct of my given fate(at least that is one theory).

Wrestled my youngest daughter down to bed last night in our routine adversarial nocturnal combat in hopes of helping return some semblance of a decent rest schedule to her. And, true to form she fought fiercely to resist my efforts. Just as I would expect of any worthy antagonistic nemesis. As such it was midnight by the time I could declare victory and relocate her to her own territory for slumber. Immediately I sought a quick snack and then, with great difficulty mind you, decided to give up on a movie and retire to slumber my self. A wise tactical decision, since withing only 2-3 hours she awoke to seek me out to renew our bed-time battle.

Unfortunately for me, her own stubborn-nature and fiery temper fueled by drowsiness lead her to continue her struggle all the way into post-dawn hours. Eventually by sometime between 7-8, as best I can figure, she finally proved defeated once more and I was able to return her to her bed again. Not without having to endure screaming, kicking/bucking, numerous throws of her na-na(her pacifier), and even several batteries of punches. By that point I returned to my chair and proceeded to collapse until my wife roused me a couple hours later.

The weather outside is unbearably humid and hot to the point of being painful to even look outside. Numerous task await me to complete them, demanding my attention. And while I have managed to see to some of them I keep finding myself lacking the energy/drive to tackle everything that catches my eye. It feels like I am setting in some kind of void that has blossomed around me.

I recently picked up a 1 Tb portable external hard drive and have been backing up all the data of importance to me from my net-book etc., with the idea of re-loading my little net-book with a fresh install. Now that I think I might have everything backed-up I find myself reluctant to do just that. Which is weird, one of my favorite things used to be diving in and setting up machines from scratch and getting everything 'just-so.' I even keep trying to play some WoW, or pretty much anything, only to find I can't seem to muster any real interest.

Desperately I want to passionately dive into something and enjoy it. To tackle various projects. And yet this void has blossomed again. Alas, hopefully it will pass shortly and I get back to myself, not to mention some more writing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Putting Character Into A Character.

Often, as a Role-Playing Game enthusiast I find myself watching as a player crafts a character up from scratch only to see a loose empty framework with a draping of cliche. And while that is fine for some people, as some do enjoy less flavor and more action and numbers, it often bothers me. Nowhere worse have a seen a series of rules that seem built around such bland & empty characters than that of 4th Edition D&D.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I have been a fan and supporter of D&D ever since I was introduced to it in 2nd edition. And nobody I know fought harder when 4th Edition was released to remain open-minded and convince people to give it a chance and try it out. Even when areas of it seemed lacking I persuaded desperately among my core player-group to bear with me and house-ruled several things. In the end though I had to concede - while 4th Edition lends itself to fast-paced games whose strength is firmly rooted in action, a lot of D&D's signature strengths were now weaknesses.

In 3rd, and 3.5 editions D&D was marked by a depth of flexibility and ability for a player to thoroughly detail his character's various aspects and traits to breath a rich and vibrant life & history into them. With 4th Edition, a player's alignment was narrowed to only a select segment meant to emphasis 'only heroic high-fantasy and adventure.' Drama is conflict, by definition, and not all adventure is clean and neat pure heroes on horseback riding forth to dispatch some barbaric beast. The best stories ever told, or played in for that matter, all have aspects that deal with a depth of character and some drama. Be it a high and mighty Paladin from a bloodline touched by a celestial heritage forced into a horrible moral dilemma that in the end allows him to be victorious but to loose his very Paladin-hood. Is he still a noble figure, yes, could he possibly atone for his deed, again yes. But the fact still remains, that the moral dilemma still occurred, and that event, no matter how long it's consequence affected him, still had an impact. Not only that, but it made for a more dynamic story that allowed the player to actually look into the deepest aspects of who his character was and react, but also to see that character grow and be changed. 

A few months back I was introduced through a friend to something that to me that has revived all hope in the legacy of D&D; Paizo's Pathfinder RPG. Returning to 3.5 Edition and revising it to improve on all it's faults and further fortify it's strengths it has shown me a far superior rule-set that lends itself to characters who are quite literally what their name implies they should be. After my initial review of the material I became fascinated by a simple thought and set myself to a simple exercise as proof. Many players craft a character from scratch with the sole concept of some cliche-based idea, for example they immediately start off thinking an Elf should pursue certain class-roles like a wizard, ranger or druid and tunnel their imaginative vision accordingly. With many of the advents in Pathfinder I came to quickly believe that if one had a clear concept of who they wanted to play, the framework itself would allow that personality to be crafted as any race or class easily enough to still be that person. As opposed to something else with the same name.

Case in point, years ago I tried the same experiment with a Specialist Wizard in 3.5 who focused his arcane talents of Divination. The Wizard in question was a scholarly man with a desire to literally know everything. He sought to seek out all learning and knowledge he could. With that goal in mind I built 3 versions, one shaped by the campaign setting of Forgotten Realms, one vanilla-suited for Greyhawk and a third forged by Eberron's recent war-scarred history. while the rules allowed each one to be similar in many ways, each of the three differed in ways that left them more than subtlety different. The experiment was very interesting to me to say the least and helped me establish an understanding of sorts.

Pathfinder immediately reminded me of the little exercise, and as I was already looking to test Pathfinder out among my core group of players presented an interesting opportunity. It gave me an idea to not only test Pathfinder's new flexibility but also to help remind my players, especially some who still struggle with fully fleshing out a character's, that they are more than just numbers on a sheet. So I presented a simple challenge:

"You are approached by local Thieves' Guild members seeking to form a freelance group to break into a vault and retrieve something. Without using any mention of race or class as a description, describe who you are and why they might approach you."

I then further complicated things by assigning a race and class to the player and entreated them to build the person they described within the confines of the race and class provided. In theory the player would have then been having to focus on the personality/persona they described and build their character around it, as opposed to simply building it around some arbitrary concept of default class/race stereotypes. So far it has proven to have yielded some fascinating character concepts.

Try it the next time you go to make a character for a game, consider describing a character without the limitations of class or race and then build what could best fit, or even as a challenge what would least fit and see what comes of it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Time Lord of a Riddle.

Now, granted, I have always been a science fiction nerd for as long as my internal storage can retrieve. And in all that time I have been a fan of many a series and franchise. Sadly, though, I have never really gotten into Doctor Who. Not out of dis-interest or any personal taste, etc, but simply due to a lack of actually viewing seeing any of it.

However, back in the mid-to-late 90's I was doing a favor for a friend/acquaintance in a bad situation by helping them pack and load a u-haul truck to move. While doing such for the day I was ambushed by Doctor Who fandom  of not only the person I was helping but a relative as well. Since I was up to that point ignorant on the subject I was immediately educated to some degree on the good Doctor.

The material I was presented with throughout the day was on VCR-recorded VHS, that to this very day has puzzled me as I have discovered there are a whole series of different actors to don the moniker. Sadly, I cannot for the life of me pinpoint which version of the Doctor I was fortunate to witness, much less what storyline. I have been wracking my brain in an attempt to try and recall, but alas, only vague bits of info come to mind.

I recall something about his dual-heart nature and about to be killed by emergency medical treatment via defibrillator. Although fuzzy, my memory leads me to believe that what I recall seeing may of been some form of movie or special instead of an episode as well. In regards to a plot, or villain, I am also unfortunately unsure. I almost want to say that a scene liken to that of some kind of court comes to mind but I'm not sure if that is correct. To further complicate things, I have vague impressions of another Time Lord or perhaps some weird bug-like thing being involved, but again, I'm grasping at vapor-esque memory phantoms.

Also, I almost want to say the Doctor had some special watch or strange little gadget of some importance. Perhaps it is recent commercials for the show or other mentions of Doctor Who I have seen of late that has sparked this curiosity in me. Or perhaps the simple fact that I know I have seen some years ago but am at a loss to prove it when talking with Doctor Who enthusiasts. Who knows?

But this has grown and formulated into a sort of puzzle within my brain. One, that I suspect only a well-versed Doctor Who fan can help me unravel. Please, if you are well versed or know someone who could be a Time Lord themselves, feel free to smack me about with some educating. I'd be forever grateful.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clancy "Kurgen" Brown, or Various Things I Learned This Week

A dear friend and brother, the esteemed author of brasslaurels blog has been spending some time visiting with me and my family this week. It's been a barrel-of-monkeys level of non-stop fun, I can assure you. But as I review my week, I realize that I have learned several things.

1.) Clancy Brown is The Kurgen's secret identity. I absolutely adore The Highlander franchise, always have, always will. And I will readily admit that it is far from perfect, a fact driven home by my recent watching of the 1st Highlander movie last night. Love the movie, it's fun and the progenitor of the whole franchise. And yet I cannot get over the re-revilation of how mack-truck in proportion the movie is riddled with plot-holes. A surprising trait still yet to be completely recovered from in any Highlander product to date. But perhaps it's one of the franchises endearing qualities, eh?

2.) Space Marine Assault troops will melt your face of if you don't cut them down in their rabid blitz-like approach. As mentioned in my last post, I have recently taken up an old hobby that I never did dive fully into. After an unfortunate circumstance that ended my Warhammer Fantasy playing I picked up a small start to try to explore the 40k sci-fi line that had caught my geekly whim with curiosity. I tried for awhile to find the opportunity to learn the complex rules and fully understand things before furthering my army's roster with more purchases and painting it with a chosen chapter's colors and designation of a specific sub-group of Space Marines. The flavor and atmosphere immediately was one of my key interesting features to the game. But as things are always want to do with life, plans fell through, life happened and I shelved what miniatures I had always meaning to come back to it later down the road. When my dear battle-brother and fellow Space Marine popped in for a visit we had already been discussing my old Warhammer days, as he himself had always been interested as well. Virtually, I was struck by a wave of recollection that spawned a simple thought: I still had a small force of about 20 miniatures still safely stashed away in my closet. Initially I dug them out just to look over and see for certain that they were still there(and that I wasn't imagining their presumed presence). However, it didn't take us but a moment to decide to finish assembling them and tinker around to try our hand at self-learning the rules and/or refreshing our memories of any we used to know from our days of witnessing massive battles at a now extinct local hobby-store. It has honestly been a blast, I have learned a lot piecing these little highly detailed bits of plastic together. In fact, I lament the fact we have completed all of them. I do so wish I had more to continue taking my time on to pose and glue into neat little poses, or adorn with custom arms. We have even stumbled on a fitting chapter among the Space Marines that at once seizes on our love of flavor, story elements, unique strategy, and ties them together with a simply paint scheme that should prove beautiful and easy enough even I can manage. The Raven Guard are the 19th chapter of the Space Marines, almost completed devastated during a campaign and unable to be extracted they continued a guerrilla war of lightning raids and precision hit and run strikes that has marked them as specialists ever since. Not to mention the fact that surviving such an event has left them undermanned and short on resources. Marking them as a chapter with little high-cost, and high-tech vehicles and relying on older gear and high-mobility vehicles that lend itself to their particular combat style. Couple that with their penchant for autonomy among captains and you have a smaller chapter that doesn't require expensive miniatures, excels at fielding smaller forces, and has enough grey-area to allow for some interesting creativity on our part that we can craft ourselves some interesting opportunities to partner up and weave some of our own fluff. It really promises to be awesome, even if we just keep tinkering with my small force. However, like I began this particular point, Assault troops(Space Marines sporting a Jump pack capable of powering them over a battle field or flying down to it from an aerial drop,  bolt pistols and vicious chain-swords) have proven to us that if they get in close will shred an enemy force to pieces. So I must always make a note to cautiously keep an eye on them and cut them down before they can close in, if able.

3.) Sometimes, it seems like things name themselves. Upon assembling the first Space Marine miniature, I let slip a crack that introduced him as 'Wasabi Jones.' A point that then lead to the next becoming 'Tabasco Johnson.' Before long my entire first 5 man squad of Space Marines all had a name. The roster for said squad now stands at: Wasabi Jones, Tabasco Johnson, Worcestershire Jimmy, Sage Jackson, and Cayenne Jorgensen. Don't ask me how it happened or why. The first two just popped out, the rest were formulated to follow the perceived pattern my impromptu naming seemed to be taking. I can proudly confess that Wasabi Jones has proven to be almost superhuman at surviving and adept at Rambo-like one man winning. Tabasco has been worth some glory on his own too!

4.) And, clearly, I can spark wondrous concepts for amazingly bizarre yet entertaining campaigns with but a random comment. We still aren't sure what lead to or triggered a statement from me, but for some reason I mentioned the phrase: "Tranny Dwarf." A fact which has lead to the gears already being set in motion for a completely "Unconventional Party." I believe, thus far, we have a proposed Dwarf Tranny, A Tiefling/Asimar brother & sister (who really love each other more than your average siblings) and an elf shemale(I think) who reportedly may end up as a druid with an unusual animal companion or devotion there to. In short, think of it as a party of adventures who, while drawing on the curiosity of LGBT interaction within the game's setting, will easily have some interesting role-playing just entering a standard bar. It may end up a mature game with various tones not normally present, but it looks to be a great adult game with elements not normally found. The focus may end up on the various interactions and unconventional way in which such a unusual party approaches challenges or deals with locals. Just think, if a gorgeous and shapely dwarf receives some affectionate comments only to be discovered to also be endowed in both gender's unspoken traits, reactions should prove amusing in and of themselves. We'll see how it works out.

Well, I suppose that's enough retrospection for now. Way too much fun has been had to try and mention every bit of it. Hope everyone has had a great week and a safe/enjoyable weekend.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blowing The Dust Off Some Space Marines

Many years ago I made an initial foray into the world of war gaming with Warhammer Fantasy. I only ever managed to play a handful of games, but I did assemble a decent force of Bretonians to lead into battle. Over time I discovered Warhammer 40k as well and an admiration for the Space Marines was quickly sparked.

Now, granted, it is well known that my artistic ability when it comes to visual matters is vastly limited. So after a mishap that lead to me to be army-less(Another story for another time), I decided to try my hands at very simplified paint-scheme of Space Marines. Found some on sale at a local hobby shop so I picked up some troops to build a foundation: 2 5-unit Combat Squads, 1 5-unit Assault Squad, and a 5-unit Command Squad. Nothing that anyone would deem impressive, but a flexible start.

I've held on to these miniatures for at least a decade now, I've even tried a few times to sell them off. And yet now, I find myself looking back on the fun I had and the promise of enjoying it further. So I dug them out of the closet and dusted them off. They're still in boxes, a few almost completely assembled, none of them painted. But with some friendly support and fellow interest I have decided to try my hand at the game again. If nothing else I'm not out any added investment, and perhaps we might find ourselves an enjoyable pursuit to pass the time.

To the Battle-Brothers, and the Glory of the Space Marines.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lost Seeker - Part 4

Conflict now stirs within my breast to inflame my judgment and cloud my mind. Part of me cries out that my duty is done, to leave this vessel adrift like a specter to haunt others; threat intercepted. But another voices whispers within. Just what was this travelers destination, and to what dark purpose was he engaged? Was he on his way to a Pathenian colony, were my people to be his prey? Or did his task direct him to some helpless peoples elsewhere? Could he have started a conflict that might spill over to involve us?  As a Seeker can I simply ignore any possible threat this may lead to?

The sting of apprehensiveness has lent a shiver to my limbs, and as I reach my clawed fingertips to probe once more this unintended clue. A fleeting brief feeling of cool silicon and plastic registers to my tactile sense only to fade as my touch pierces those impressions still clinging to this alien object. The sensation of drifting through the foggy aether of static memories has become second nature to my people. A single touch capable of communicating things all on it's own.

First come the simple details as the overall image begins to build itself into focus, the trick is to let it tell it's story and being able to sift through it. Of Terran birth my mysterious stranger seems, marked by the passing of at least 38 years. Ripples continue to form; a chaotic minded man, greedy and only concerned with himself. Focus now, don't rush it, I have to remind myself.

This item passed to the Terran in a transaction not long ago, an agreement to seal a deal. It would give him information to lead him to a... Father Maximillian Durias of Erias VIII. Durias himself gave this to the Terran, it was to guide him to the Father, there is some sense of destroying or removing tainted individuals. Everything else is faded, too far gone to read anything further.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lost Seeker - Part 3

You never truly become accustomed to this feeling. Your stomach burns with a ball of heat as it spins as if stricken by some ailment of discomfort and stripped of all dignity. The whole of your being is at once fluid and compressed as it is forced through the tiniest whole you can imagine. While I may enjoy a talent for compelling space to bend somewhat to my solicitations, it never caves it's will to anyone and resists anyone who would alter it. So let's just be clear; this isn't easy. Not even for me.

My destination is a location I'm not intimately familiar with, it's moving and I don't even know for certain I'm not stepping into some elaborate trap. And yet, here I am, in the middle of relocating myself, armed only with my own abilities. A more rational Seeker like those who mentored me in my youth would never suffer the faintest flicker of such an impulse. So, why am I?

Gripped by the sudden shock and end to my own inner motion I immediately realize I've arrived. Jerking my eyes open I scan my surroundings, was I successful? Seems that way, before me is a single figure who even now is spinning to remove his back from my gaze. Zuluth take me! I must of shifted my footing to catch my balance and alerted him.

Seeing a drawn sidearm coming to bear and knowing the sadistic mind wielding it all previous notions have to be discarded. With a tidal surge of psionic power I grab out at the space around my foe, and pull it all inward. At once my skull throbs from the effort but the result is instant; instead of relocating my target, I have crushed him into non-existence.

I have to finish up here and get back, this whole encounter has shaken me. Grabbing out I reach to steady myself only to choke back another curse. With the inadvertent brush of my fingertips on some object, my mind feels with impressions read freely. I'm usually more careful not to touch foreign objects, I must be slipping.  Quick to break contact, I am troubled by the last impression as it was forming within my mind. Just what awaited this traveler...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lost Seeker - Part 2

Better take a breath and center myself. There, that is better, already I can feel my mind as the ripples cease and it becomes still. Better leave the link open on this memetic shard, just in case - well, in case anyone might need to review this log later.

Hmmm... Sensors seem to show it as an unregistered transport, better get a feel before rushing in. Never was great at this, and alien minds always feel so, well - alien. With eyes closed and focused will I send out a sliver of myself, at once feeling the slight chill as my fur tingles. There, there you are. Your all alone in your little vessel. All alone and what is this, excitement? Some task awaits you at your destination, something your eager enough for that you would risk idle rumors for and cross through this area. What could motivate you so? What could... I feel sickened, I have to break this link off. Whoever you are, you are delighted by the prospect of inflicting harm, and find pleasure in murder. For that foolish traveler, and for trespass; your life is forfeit.

Righteous fury starts to spark within my breast, but I dare not give in. This is my duty, I must intercept this fiend. I'll need to get within sight, but luckily his course seems to be bringing him within range. This won't be easy so I'll have to focus. Reaching out I can feel him, grasping at the space behind him I concentrate my will. The familiar tug at the pit of my stomach builds and as it pulls I can feel the psionic energies twisting the fabric of space for me. Within a few moments my form will replace empty air. I must concentrate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lost Seeker - Part 1

Desperately trying to work myself back into my former rhythm, as well as try something a little different. With that in mind, here goes:

From the personal logs of Seeker Thanaeon Marseus.

Entry Coded 501-A:
Have you ever found yourself lost, adrift in your own inner sea? I have. It can happen fairly easy out here, all alone for long stretches, with nothing but this dedication to your duty, to your people, to drive you. I am tasked by my noble people with the responsibility of Seeker: It falls to me to safeguard all I hold dear and intercept any foreign threat that would make it's way into our territory and endanger us. Upon discovery of my natural talent for psychoportation(I can psionically manipulate an objects locations in space), I was trained and groomed for this honor from an early age. I dare even concede that I often used to think this an easy assignment. Unfortunately, the only easy part of isolation and wandering is how readily you can loose all that anchors you. 

At times it feels like I have held this post for years already this time out, even if it has only been three months into my six month deployment. The quiet of the nearby asteroid fields is refreshing, and the nebula in the distance a welcome and refreshing break from the twilight. I often catch myself, out here when my mind starts to wander, pondering at the efficiency of all those who bore the Seeker mantle before me. The rumors, the spreading silent tide of whispers among travelers, is well known how many fear this region for fear of some malignant curse or vengeful misfortune. Which always leads me to consider if a time will come where my service like that of others will no longer be required.

And just like that, as if the thought itself heralded some tingling of fate's changing flow, I feel it. Deep in the back of my mind something stirs, a tiny voice; a slight twitch as it were. Out there, a small craft has seen fit to slip in the dangerous realm of all those who trespass.  Duty calls.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

LastKnight: Innocent's End - Part 2

Well here's the 2nd installment, still unsure of it, but I think it may be an improvement over the original.
Borne by a slight breeze a chill began to take hold of Miles and crept along his skin, slight goose-bumps his only noticeable reaction. From his lofty perch atop the bough of an old oak the perplexed pilot sat huddled as the wind gently brushed his chestnut-brown hair teasingly over the tips of his ears. A pained gaze studied the grave-like calm of what had only moments ago been a field of death and chaos.
Reaching out of the tranquil silence a hushed sound seized upon Miles attention, the sudden disruption enough to threaten to relocate him. At first it seemed an alien thing this invasion from the realm of reality. For a long breath he had to fight to will his mind to make sense of things, to focus and rationalize what it was he had heard. And then, like the whisper of a soft breeze he heard it again. This time understanding filled him as he recognized the tone of a ladies voice. "Beautiful, wasn't it," she asked from below. In typical military fashion, Miles found himself unholstering his sidearm and bringing it to bear.

Feeling tension and frustration struggle for release, Miles barked forth a string of commands. "Don't move! Any sudden moves and I will open fire." Scanning foliage and underbrush, Miles tried to pinpoint the exact position of this mysterious voice. With doubt at his own sanity starting to creep in, he decided to continue. "Let's start with who you are and what your doing here." While waiting for proof of his sanity or a better idea of the speaker's location, Miles began to carefully gauge his best route down from the tree.

A soft rustle of motion caught Miles vision and directed it to a gap in the leaves where a few stray beams of moonlight alone illuminated a figure. Young and slender, an elegant grace seemed to be draped about the lady's form like a regal cloak. Yet her bearing, the very way she stood betrayed a streak of pride often a subtle cue marking someone with a noble background. 

At first glance, one would question the mind of anyone who wandered about a battlefield unarmed. However, armed as she was, this ladies' minimalist weapons were more of a curiosity. Draped low along her left hip was slung an elongated thin blade that glistened silver in the moonlight. Miles had only ever seen such weapons worn by officers and even then they proved only to be ornamental accompaniments to their uniform. This one, something told him was anything but an idle show-piece. As an almost matched companion to the blade a holstered sidearm rested on the opposite hip, just as delicate in appearance save for the precision sights just barely visible in the low light. Even the ladies attire; some kind of elaborate formal uniform, the likes of which Miles was sure he hadn't seen except perhaps in history books, marked as a complete paradox. And yet here he was setting aloft in some trees, a specialist ground suit pilot who for reasons unknown fled from battle.

With the air of someone immune to orders such as those Miles had issued, the lady stepped forward to bring her piercing gaze to bear. For a breath Miles found himself trapped by the sheer power of those eyes, his previous threat lost to a seeming majesty that had now befell him. "My business here, dear sir, is quite similar to your own," she began in a clear and quiet tone that seemed to feel like being cut by a whiplash. "However," she continued, "I must concede your manners are a touch lacking. My own name, in all due formality, is Lady Diana - Heiress of the house of Wynne and daughter to Duke Archibald Wynne. The oak you now favor as your perch, dear little sparrow, is the property of my father. So I must ask of you why it is that you have taken residence there and why it seems you have seen fit to damage our other oaks with the ground suit now littering our wood?"

The very thought sent his head to spinning; this THE Duke's daughter, and not only had he drawn his sidearm on her but he had also damaged the Duke's own property. Holstering his sidearm he frantically fought to issue an apology, only to find himself stuttering until he regained a measure of control. "I do indeed apologize, m'lady," Miles tried to focus on carefully wording himself as he climbed down. "Please accept my most heartfelt apology, and know that I am completely at the Duke's mercy. I will concede to any punishment he deems fit for the damage I have caused." Landing hard, Miles stumbled his way into an awkward bow. "To be honest, I cannot answer to why I found my way to where you found me. I'm not really sure myself, I suppose I was merely seeking a place to think."

With a slight nod, Lady Wynne motioned for him to rise but her tone continued to scold Miles. "Your apology is indeed necessary as you have managed to damage several fine oaks that my father prizes. Does your own rudeness know any ends I wonder? I alone stand the only of the two of us to be introduced." Embarrassment bloomed on Miles' face forcing him to lower his face from the lady's eyes. "Oh, clearly I have lost all manners, forgive me. For what it's worth, I'm Specialist Miles Stone. I was a member of the military defense forces engaged in the previous battle, or rather, I guess I was a soldier." Pausing, Miles let out a sigh. "I doubt they will look too highly on a soldier that turned his back on his friends and fled. With your blessing, I'd like to take my leave. I need several stiff drinks to try and make sense of things." Pain welled from inside him as the feeling of being lost returned. How could this have happened, especially to him; who had only ever wanted to be nothing other than a soldier?

Like a sudden gale, Lady Wynne's voice interrupted  Miles and forced him to once more meet her gaze. "You must be accustomed to naturally exuding rudeness, since you seem so adept at it. I will most certainly not grant you my leave, you will return with me and face my father for all you have done." Firm resolution resonated throughout her tone and with a quick pivot the lady was already in motion leaving no time for Miles to argue.  "Besides," mused the lady, "I think there is someone there you should meet."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LastKnight: Innocent's End or Dusting Off Old Stories.

I recently had the fortune of unearthing some old writings and poetry of mine that I had actually almost resigned as lost or forgotten works. Amidst my old files and notebooks a number of things caught my attention and so I decided to try my hand at giving them a a little revisit. I must also admit I have been toying with the notion of sharing my old poetry as well, even if the thought does also hold a measure of apprehensive worry for me.

For starters I'd like to share the re-worked opening scene to a story that at one time held a lot of promise for me. One that now though, I think could stand better in a different way. Granted I still think it needs more work, even on this section alone not to mention those to come. But I thought I might just go ahead and share this one and perhaps if I'm lucky, might even gather some feedback. Hope you find enjoyment in it's reading(and that I can manage to return to my previous posting schedule).

LastKnight: Innocent's End

The echo of authority rang in the simple and clear orders that had been issued to specialist Miles Stone. Deployed along the town's perimeter, Miles sat in the armored core of a massive ground suit. According to his instructors the ground suits had been designed to resemble a humanoid frame to enable a pilot a more instinctive combat form. Unfortunately the engineers idea of a humanoid form had to have been aesthetically flawed, as Miles often found his unit more resembling some hulking mechanical ape.

Finding himself frozen, his mind gripped in thought, Miles kept replaying his orders in his mind as he watched battle explode around him. Defend the town at all cost, that had been his primary objective. While doing so, he was silently urged to engage any enemy units he was capable of until he lacked the ability or the ammunition to do so. It had even been noted, disturbingly, that should he fall stoically defending his post, he would receive full honors for his valiant effort.

Deaf to the thunder of cannon-fire, a single word shook him more violently than any impact. Such a simple thing, the word 'enemy', and yet it had managed to cripple him inside. Questions flooded threw his mind like a wave of gunfire to tear at him, leaving him more shaken than any physical bullet ever did. Just what made these other pilots his enemy, and he theirs? Why had he been ordered to fight them, and for what? 

As battle raged all around him, and buildings shuddered under artillery fire, a sudden roar of force ripped into his suit's frame. The shock of impact brought Miles back to the reality of the moment if only long enough to register another ground suit as it took aim once more. Gentle as the breeze, a quiet whisper slipped from his lips to ask empty air; why? Numb and confused, his gaze turned blank once more as another shot found it's target in his right shoulder. The suit groaned as it's systems reacted to counter the force of the blast and maintain it's orientation.

Another blast caught him hard, thudding into his chest. This time instinct ignited inside the young pilot, spurring subconscious reflexes to life. In a fluid motion, he threw the throttle forward and with a murderous hum his unit exploded into motion to charge at it's attacker. While his opponent, clearly caught off guard by the sudden movement, fought to regain his aim. Miles brought his right arm up in a lighting fast jerk to bring his rifle's butt crashing into his foe's head.

A loud ripping of metal marked the clash of the two ground suits. With flames beginning to take root from inside, Miles spun his barrel to his targets chest and loosed a point-blank burst. The world slowed once more as Miles saw his opponent fall to the ground. The battle continued to rage on all around him. People died all around him, and as he took in the piles of mechanical corpses that littered the ground like metal bodies now lifeless and  ravaged, he felt more alone than he ever had.

Feeling left him and with it all thought as Miles Stone dropped his rifle and began to walk his way away from the battle. In a daze he found himself climbing down from his ground suit as it had come crashing down in an expanse of trees. Hollow he climbed up to perch in a small oak and watched as the fighting continued without him. No one had even marked his disappearance in all the chaos. He had just disobeyed orders, and worse, as a soldier he had just abandoned his post. The thought bothered him but what sickened him more inside was the realization that he himself couldn't even answer a simple question; why?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lit-Envy, Or; Trying To Jumpstart An Empty Creative Tank.

As a writer, even I guess what some might call a hobby/amateur one I am blessed with some dear friends who also share my passion for the crafting of stories. One such ink-blooded brother: Mitchell Willie has recently picked his pen back up and charged back into a novel project he's had in the works. I've been doubly privileged to get to read segments as it develops along with some other honors... But recently find myself having difficulty renewing my own literary endeavors. Just haven't quite been able to my brain into the right mindset or at the very least find a inspirational trigger to get my creative forces sparked.  

However, after reading some of my brother's material I have been reminded of some of my own older attempted stories. And with such recollections find myself debating digging out old notes and attempting another try. Who knows might help revive my Requiem work, or at the very least allow me to get back in the swing of writing.

I'll have to examine the works in question and see where my subconscious takes me. I will keep striving to deliver stories for those that enjoy them, no matter the genre or subject. That, I can promise. Thanks to everyone who's bearing with me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

D.P.S. v2.0 - A Beta Is Unleashed!

Okay, I now set, with a blank and blinking stare at my screen. Can it truly be, have I finally managed to accomplish my goal in the form of a digital character sheet for the Pathfinder system produced by Paizo? As with many of my projects, it has managed to engulf my mind to the point I can scarcely believe it is complete.

As it stands, however, D.P.S. v2.0 is now available for anyone who desires to beta test or use it. I hope it proves a valuable and handy tool, it's been a most rewarding project. And should any run across any flaws or areas lacking in my little app, please let me know. I plan to improve and refine it over time as best I can.

Oh, and a friendly caveat or two: The app should save and load character files as .txt files. And, hidden within are 12 little gems. The challenge shall be in locating these dozen Easter-eggs.

I pray the fates may now find it in their mercy to allow my mind to be released from the grip of code and return to my writing. It has suffered terribly.

Please let me know what you think!
D.P.S. v2.0 Beta Release Direct Download
D.P.S. v2.1Updated Release

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Xie Xie Rinto and other assorted thoughts.

So... Apparently, we have a dog now. An unexpected and somewhat strange turn of events. Recently my oldest boy proclaimed he saw someone drop a dog out of their car door one morning from his school bus, which considering the rural highway/area we live isn't exactly a common occurrence. More often than not strays wander up from neighbors or are simply dogs local to the area known to roam. The dog in question however, re-appeared the next day at my parent's house, who live about an acre or two in front of us and are situated in a much more visible location from the road. 

That morning I received a rather excited call from my son that this mystery dog was there, right now, 'just in case we wanted to take a look at it and see if it was a good dog or not.' I tried to remain as objective as I could, since we haven't had the best of luck with dogs as pets over the years. Not that I don't like them, I adore a good dog and had several growing up, but this area isn't always the best on dogs. Coyotes, local farmers, disgruntled neighbors and a road that people tend to fly down at 60+ mph and it doesn't take much for misfortune to turn it's gaze your pet's way.

But my youngest boy has begged for a pet dog for 2 years, frantically in fact. He has even told us stories of strays he has seen pass down the street and explained that they were his doggy but that they were out wandering or something and desperately held that someday his doggy would come back. So my wife, who is well versed in all manner of dog-related behavior and such took a look at what we immediately established was a beagle mix male of about 1 year old.

We had to coax my oldest boy to leave us to observing the dog and go elsewhere before his incessant attempts to bully me into a 'yes' answer resulted in a stone-wall of zero thought or consideration. After careful thought and observation I found myself thinking on my own grandfather who while ill is convalescing at my parent's house. He was always taking in dogs that were dropped by his house or not a mile from his home at the church he as caretaker for and song-leader. My Grandad never would let a dog suffer if he could help it and as I thought on him I asked myself what would he do, and so I opted to allow the dog to stay for a trial period, still certain that if he was dropped we would soon find some reason or flaw.

It has now been about 3 or so days and aside from signs he suffered being hungry recently and some heavy breathing at rest we are at a loss as to a motive to discard this animal. He behaves well with the kids, isn't overly active. The dog doesn't chase cats or even bark hardly ever. He has even only had maybe 2-3 accidents in the house and while out off any leash refuses to venture far. It remains a puzzle.

So now, I suppose, it looks like we have a dog. Much to my wife and kids joy, and I myself have the comfort that we haven't been out anything investing in this pet. Who knows how long he'll stay or what will become of him. But for now, he is a good dog and the family is thrilled to have him.