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.