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Fri, Jul. 29th, 2011, 01:06 am

Figured I should probably add something to here to mention that while I no longer update this place, I now blog on game dev and related topics at:


Sun, Jul. 18th, 2010, 04:58 am

Been a long time since I updated.

Well, The Obelisk (our first project) is very close to complete. We're probably going to be done by the end of this month. However, the company is out of cash and no-one seems to want to give us any more. We're looking at ways of dealing with this problem, but essentially we're a bit stuffed.

Sat, Feb. 13th, 2010, 11:30 am

Observations having read through the Odyssey materials:

- Odyssey is much more difficult to spell than Maelstrom. I foresee a shortened version becoming the norm very shortly.

- I'm a bit disappointed with the Carthage section of the Costume Guide, it's a little underwhelming compared to the others. They seem a little "generic LRP raider" to me. But that's mostly because the Greek and Roman sections are so evocative.

- Wow, Greco-Roman gear is really flattering, isn't it? Rrrrar.

- Yes, you can be from Sparta. Sorry, I meant SPAAAAAARRRRTTAAAAAAA! But don't expect to be the only one. I'd be astonished (and overjoyed) to see any Greeks from anywhere else, frankly...

- Interestingly, Carthaginian Mystics and Persian Magi do not come with Open Gate of Ivory. What that means is that if Carthage or Persia want to go questing, they'll need to either find a mercenary Roman/Egyptian/Greek priest, or generate a nerfed Priest with only Open Gate of Horn and Open Gate of Ivory but no Ceremony. Can you imagine a Carthaginian priest without Ceremony to sacrifice with? That's an interesting twist indeed.

- In general, the Kit Character vs Nerfed Free Pick approach is an intriguing system and seemingly a clear response to the "unique snowflake" problem that plagues, well, every system in the world. The rules are refreshingly abrupt and absolute in some ways, too: Five Great Powers Only. No Celts, Gauls are Romans and you need to be careful about your background as it may get stepped on by plot (since they don't sanction backgrounds). No "I'm a Persian who grew up in Rome" bullshit - you're either Persian or Roman. In general it's a system that seems positively designed to produce interesting examples of the Five Powers rather than a million mishmashes. I strongly approve.

- The Philosophy system is interesting indeed. I've not looked into it too far, and indeed there really doesn't seem to be a huge amount of detail in the book, but I like what I see. The whole "World Forge" thing is a huge tease; it's mentioned all through the book but d'ya think they explain it in detail anywhere? Again, the Nerf Pick system means that there's only one way to make a character with 3 kinds of Use Quintessence, which has to be a big draw for Persians.

- Politics. I'm going to be trying to avoid this to begin with because I'm so snarled up in politics at Strom, but it's a very interesting system indeed. Essentially the political side of things revolves around the Warleader characters. Playing a Warleader means being a really crap warrior who gets to be in charge, basically, so it's kind of a nice approach (since in most systems the upward drift of snackies means the people in charge tend to be the hardest characters). Warleaders are allowed to run cities and lead their warbands into the Arena to fight over, well, anything. Want to take over a city? Head into the Arena. Have a grudge against another Warleader? Head into the Arena. So essentially it's gladiatorial-combat-as-politics. I'm pretty sure that's entirely unique.

- The fighting system is refreshingly simple. Everyone has 1 global hit, armour adds another, cultural armour physrep and skill adds 3. Weapons all do uncalled Singles except for arrows which do uncalled Impale. There's a bunch of calls from skills, they're all pretty simple and standard (Strikedown, Crush etc). Impale is a special case - it takes all your hits. Yes, that means that bows are abso-bloody-lutely lethal. Eek.
Also, stab safe spears are the only kind allowed. Damn straight. I'm not actually one for simplified combat systems - I quite like a bit of complexity - but I can see this being a breath of fresh air for a lot of people.

- No character progression, no Downtime. Everything that happens happens at events. Want to take over a city? Fight in the Arena. Want to enchant an item? Go produce a Philosophy preparation (possibly at the World Forge, I dunno). Want to extort riches from your underlings? Happens at the beginning of a session. Want to get a different skill? You can re-generate your character every event, LT-style. So you can do a couple of events as a Champion, kicking face for a living, then move up to Warleader when the politics of your nation allows. Now, obviously this is in part to distinguish this from Strom, but now I think of it, it's also pretty good for those of us who already Strom; we've got more than enough Downtime faffing to worry about with 4 Maelstrom events a year without ANOTHER one clogging up the 'tubes.

More when I've thought it all through and my froth levels have reduced to normal human limits. For the moment all I can see in my head is a Carthaginian Mystic with a straw elephant he calls "Mr Trunky" that tells him to sacrifice people for the glory of Ba'al-Hammon.

"What's that, Mr Trunky? The Romans are stinking dog-fuckers? That's terribly impolite of you!"

edit: I re-read the rules. As with most things, Open Gate of Ivory only works for people of your Nation. So even looking for a mercenary Priest wouldn't work. OTOH, you can use Ceremony to perform Sacrifices on others' behalf, so it looks like it's a co-operation question.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010, 09:46 am

I had a moment of joy at Six Pillars on Wednesday night.

I'd turned up as a sort of romantic adventurer type of Bloodliner, all full of do-gooding and flouncy sleeves. As part of the loadout I decided to take my grapple and line with me, which caused no end of cooing etc. But anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the character, and had a very early CMOA.

The situation: An assassin had made his way into Court and thrown a poisoned blade at one of the Blood. The other players had run off to catch the assassin; Karl (my character) stayed behind and flirted with the ladies. When they brought the assassin back, my character was of course the only person in the room with any rope, so they borrowed my grapple line to bind him. And then they tortured him, right in the middle of Court.

Obviously being disgusted with this display of barbarism, Karl retreated to the opposite side of the room and made disparaging comments about several of the ladies in attendance (filthy mutants that they were), and then was handed his rope back. With a mighty flounce, he howled "It's covered in blood! What use is it now?" and flung it across the room, where it landed in a heap near a window.

Then a couple of minutes later I happened to be standing near the OOC desk, at which point one of the Game Team leaned over and whispered, "Will, so was that 'high brow rope-laying' then?"

I finally managed to get back in character about 15 minutes later...

Fri, Oct. 2nd, 2009, 06:42 pm
From the mouths of babes, etc

Apparently I'm a bit poorly in the face.

Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009, 09:23 pm
Attack of the 50 Foot Drama Llama

FUCKING HELL. I just posted a huge long thing about Broadsword folding and then LJ's stupid fucking Rich Text thing killed it.

Short version - Broadsword has gone into liquidation, everyone's been made redundant, got about 3 weeks contract work for the liquidators and statutory redundancy pay to apply for, after that I've no idea what I'm going to do. Leaving Aber seems a horrible fate, but as a very wise man told me on MSN this afternoon, I'm talented, experienced, and 30 - I'm never going to be this employable again.

Ian - you need to contact the liquidators. Will get you the email tomorrow.

Short term plan is to go to Strom this weekend as planned and get very, very, very drunk.

Thu, Jul. 23rd, 2009, 05:21 pm

OK. I've had enough.

I've spent the last couple of days responding to previously sane person after previously sane person repeat the same infuriating mantra: "It's just flu, it's nothing to worry about."


As a population we're for the most part resistant to most of the seasonal flu strains that run through the elderly every winter, culling out a few thousand here or there. And most of the time when people say they've had "the flu", they've not actually had influenza; just a nasty cold with a bit of a fever attached. Certainly the "24 hour bug" is not flu at all most of the time, it's just a respiratory infection of the kind that people get constantly. After all, our respiratory systems are giant, warm, wet breeding grounds for anything.

So why is swine flu at all worrying? Because it is [b]JULY[/b]. You know that term, "seasonal flu"? That's so called because it's at its most virulent during the winter, but also because it spreads much faster when everyone's cooped up inside sharing germs. This one? It's spreading like wildfire in the middle of flu's least favourite time of year. It's a different strain, one most of us aren't going to respond to with a bit of a sniffle; it's going to be about a week of feeling like death. Remember getting the flu as a kid? That's what it's going to be like.

The current wave is apparently abating. Now, it's arguable that the wave has been exaggerated by idiots thinking they have swine flu after getting a cold from the cold snap we just had. But quite likely it is receding. Is that the end?
No. That's not what flu epidemics do. They fade, then they come back. And then again. And then again. And each time they catch a different chunk of the population.

I swear if I see one more bloody stupid thing like the Eye this month: "Total deaths from Swine Flu:300 Annual deaths from normal flu: 2000" I'm going to scream. It's July. People don't die from the flu in July. For fuck's sake, what about this isn't obvious?

Of course, I know the answer. Skepticism is now fashionable. After all, it feels good saying They have got it wrong and your Common Sense knows better, right? No. Bullshit. This isn't bird flu (which was never actually proven to transmit between humans - swine flu jumped species in 3 days apparently), this isn't ebola (which was geographically contained due to its short incubation period).
All that people are being asked to do is keep an eye on themselves and their families for signs of the disease, and to take some basic precautions to reduce exposure (use hankies to sneeze, wash your hands, don't share drinking vessels). What the fuck is wrong with that exactly? What?

I stand by what Ben Goldacre said. If next year rolls around and nothing much has happened - if swine flu goes damp squib - then I won't be "proven wrong", I'll be OVER THE BLOODY MOON, and I'll be lucky. Just like everyone else. Diseases aren't something to make comparative statements about. Diseases kill people. Your mother, your kids, your friends. They KILL PEOPLE. Stop being fucking smarmy twats and recognise that fact already.

Thu, Jun. 25th, 2009, 10:55 pm

So, I finally went to the dentist, who proceeded to torture me as only dentists know how.
Turns out that I have really bad gingivitis ("the worst I've seen in a long time") so even the scale and polish was an agonising, bloody affair. The anaethetic for my filling then failed to work, so I had it done without anaesthetic. It wasn't so bad compared to having my gums torn apart...

So now I have this thermonuclear mouthwash called Corsodyl which makes me want to puke, and Cerys says my mouth odour is better. Would have been nice if she'd mentioned the odour sooner...

Tue, Jun. 16th, 2009, 07:35 pm
What's Time but a thing to kill or keep or buy or lose or live in?

I'm 30 this year.

Holy shit, I'm 30 this year.

Sun, Jun. 14th, 2009, 10:23 am
Amusing Child Stories #2635264

Last night we had huge trouble getting Bethan to go to sleep, so at my wits end 2 hours after bedtime I settled her in with Cerys' suggestion that I explain the Large Hadron Collider to her. Talking about the giant loop of particle death led on to the subject of the Big Bang and the beginning of the universe, and she drifted off to sleep with me explaining the origins of carbon and the beginnings of life. Bethan made my eyes bulge at one point, when I asked her "before there was anything, before anything existed yet, what was there?" and she thought about it and replied "Nothing."

So, fast forward to today, and I asked her "When we were talking last night, do you remember what started the universe?" and she responded by tapping her beaker against the side of the big bowl of popcorn she was eating. Thinking it an accident, I repeated the question... and she tapped her beaker against the bowl again, making a loud, resonant "DING!" I responded with "Does this mean you understand string theory?" and she grinned and looked away.

Next time someone tells you everyone is a believer until they get old, or everyone has a little magic until they get old, just remember this: Everyone intuitively understands complex concepts from the world of physics until they get too old and stupid to keep up. Probably around about the age of 5.

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