Sunday, October 12, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] SHIELD, Lock In and other stuff...

My Kickstarter reward copy of the Coup: Reformation expansion arrived on Monday morning. I've done a quick check of the box and everything is there that's supposed to be, except that I only have five 5 credit coins instead of the ten that the contents list indicates should be present. I'll have to ask about that. Otherwise, it looks pretty cool. The artwork is excellent as always, and the extra mechanics the expansion adds to the game look interesting. I'd need to actually play the game to see how well it works in practice though.

The Things Don't Go Smooth sourcebook for the Firefly RPG was released in PDF format this week, so of course I went ahead and spent some of the money I had only just started saving towards a new phone to get it. Skimmed through it, and there looks to be some interesting GMCs and locations in there that I might use in my campaign if it seems appropriate. It's also got rules on handling Reavers in games, which will definitely come in handy. One possible error I've noticed is that the GMC template that's supposed to be there, isn't. Instead it's just another copy of the Crewmember and Ship sheets. I've pointed it out on the forums, so hopefully that'll get fixed before too long.

Acheivements Unlocked
Since I had to make a trip up to Glasgow early on Tuesday, once I'd done what I needed to do there, I popped into Geek Retreat and hung out there for an hour or so before heading on to GUGS in the evening. Didn't really do much while I was there - it was mostly Magic the Gathering games that were going on at the time - but I did order one of their supershakes (a Griffindor Elixir, which includes a blended Lion bar and caramel syrup) and played a couple of games of Super Smash Bros on a borrowed DS. I still *really* suck at that game. I like Geek Retreat, and if I can figure out a way to work it into my schedule, I'll try to pop in there a bit more often in future. Maybe I can find some folks to play some board games with at least once a week, since I really want more opportunities to do some board gaming in my spare time.

After that, it was off to GUGS for the start of our RPG campaign season. I managed to wrangle another three players for my Firefly campaign, giving me a full crew of five players. Everybody got their characters statted up and we also sorted out the ship stats by having the designated captain (Craig, a veteran roleplayer) go over the ship creation options and getting input from the rest of the crew as he did so. The characters were still pretty skeletal when we finished (all stats and very little in the way of backstory or personality), but I gave everybody questionnaires to complete by the end of the week, to add a bit more meat to their Firefly 'verse alter-egos. The questionnaires mostly consisted of the list of details from Step 6 of the custom crewmember creation process, plus the Personal Arc structure which I lifted from the Ashen Stars RPG.

I watched the second episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two with Heather over Skype. They're certainly not pulling any punches this season, between the heartbreak of what's going on with Fitz, Coulson's new responsibilities distancing him from the team (and Skye in particular), the downside of his resurrection becoming more apparent, and Simmons...well, it seems we'll find out a bit more about what's going on there in the next episode. There's definitely a lot going on character-wise this season, and hopefully the main story arc will be a bit better paced than last season. It's still too soon to tell at this stage.

I finished Lock In by John Scalzi on Wednesday and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The world of Scalzi's Lock In has familiar elements to it, but there's enough of a unique twist to it to make it an interesting world to explore. I hope this won't be the only story Scalzi writes in this setting, as there's definitely room for further stories about agents Shane and Vann. Amber Benson's performance of the novel was great as well, although some of her voices sounded a bit more comical than was probably intended for the characters.

I'm still enjoying the new series of Doctor Who, and Mummy on the Orient Express was another good episode, picking up from last week's falling out between Clara and the Doctor by having the Time Lord take her for one 'last hurrah' by boarding the Orient space! The spacebound version of the Orient Express was first teased in the last moments of Series 5, but never actually appeared on the show until now. Obviously, this wasn't Clara's last episode (although there has been talk of Jenna Coleman leaving the show), instead it gives Clara (and us, as an audience) the insight into the new Doctor's character that she needs to continue travelling with him. Because, as good as Peter Capaldi is, his Doctor is seemingly much more callous than previous incarnations, and that's a bit hard to get used to, both for Clara and the viewers at home. Next episode: some extradimensional force is messing around with our reality and 'flattening' people. Looks like it should be interesting...

Works In Progress
I've not made much progress with my projects this week. My schedule is still all out of whack with these ongoing improvements to the house. Should be all out of the way by the end of this week. I won't make any promises about getting any stuff done until then. That said, I've got the character questionnaires back from all of my Firefly players except one, so I can start working on plans for the first session and maybe even a campaign arc. If I can come up with an idea for it by Tuesday, I'll run the first session then. Otherwise, we'll just make do with the Firefly board game as an icebreaker. Whatever the case, I'll definitely need to have a scenario prepped for next Tuesday and for every Tuesday between then and Christmas. Whee! Anyway, I'm going to go and work on that right now. See you later!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] The Martian, Pure Super Pals and other stuff...

I used one of my Audible credits to download Lock In by John Scalzi. I went with the Amber Benson narration rather than the Wil Wheaton version. Not that I don't like Wil Wheaton but I always loved Amber Benson on Buffy, so I figured I'd have a listen to her version.

I've got two credits left, not quite sure what to do with them at the moment. Happy to accept recommendations from anyone reading this blog.

Achievements Unlocked
On Monday night, I watched four more episodes of Supernatural season nine and chatted with Heather over Skype as we both watched. Episode 9 made me very sad. Also, I take my earlier comment about Ezekiel back; he may not be such a dick after all. Gadreel, on the other hand...

I also watched another few episodes of Cowboy Bebop, episodes 14 through to episode 16; Ed gets to match herself in a chess game against a chessmaster and master hacker and we start to learn more about Faye and Jet's backstories. I like Faye's backstory best, so much that it actually formed part of the inspiration for a character I would like to play if I ever get the chance to play Ashen Stars. Might also work for a Firefly campaign, with a little bit of alteration. Anyway, I've now got ten more episodes to go, plus the movie.

As predicted, I finished off The Martian by Andy Weir on Tuesday. Felt like it could have done with an epilogue to round things off, but overall I really liked it. I'd probably recommend people read the actual book rather than listen to it though. The technobabble would likely be easier to follow in text form instead of listening to it. Plus, the bits with computer data readouts would probably be better read than heard, I think.

I didn't finish running the Firefly oneshot this week. Instead, I joined Doc's game which was titled 'Pure Super Die Hard'. It was basically a rerun of last year's Christmas edition of the Glasgow Avengers game, except the Glasgow Avengers are now known as the Pure Super Pals ('cause Doc's actually making a comic of them now). I didn't get to nab my usual character (the Magenta Munitionist), so I instead played as the Duck. Basically what you would have got if Bruce Wayne had been afraid of ducks instead of bats. As always with Doc's games, my eyes were streaming from how hard I was laughing during the session. Also, we topped the actual Christmas session for how horrific our team of superheroes was. We may have accidentally blown up Santa Claus while trying to save him. But it's okay, because Quantabella pulled some quantum magic that fixed the timeline so that never happened.

After Tuesday I didn't have much time to do anything outside of work since we had to get the house ready for the rewiring works that started on Friday. I did have the opportunity to listen to my new audiobook during my commute though, and I'm really enjoying it so far. I didn't really have any expectations about the book before starting, having heard nothing about it before stumbling upon it on Audible, but I'm happy to say it seems my credit hasn't been wasted on this book. When I couldn't listen to the audiobook (because my MP3 player's battery ran out), I read No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, to help mentally prepare myself for yet another year of NaNoWriMo.

Despite some reluctance due to the spider-like monsters of this week's episode, I watched the latest episode of Doctor Who. It wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared, since the monsters in question didn't appear very often. Instead, the main focus of the episode was the bigger problem that they were a symptom of: the moon is breaking apart for reasons unknown. And, as with many a great episode of Who, it features a moral dilemma in its climax, and it also features some excellent character drama where the tension between Clara and the Doctor since his regeneration finally boils over.

Works In Progress
As I mentioned, things got a bit hectic midweek, so I've had no time to do much work on any of my projects. I put together my list of six story ideas I'm considering for NaNo, complete with blurbs. I just need to pick one of those to work on.

I also started editing some songs from the Firefly soundtrack to make them ready for use as background music during RP sessions. I may use portions of the Hero soundtrack as well, though I'm not entirely sure about that, since I associate that music most strongly with the L5R campaign James ran a couple of years ago. Really though, before I even start building a music list for the game, I need to find out what kind of Crew my players will be creating, and therefore what kind of campaign it will be. No point choosing music when I'm not even sure what shape the game will take thematically.

Anyway, not a lot of movement on project work this week. Hopefully I'll get more done next week. Things to do include:
- Campaign and 'season premiere' prep for the Firefly RPG (after I've got players sorted out with their characters and a ship)
- Pick a story idea for NaNoWriMo.
- Edit Doctor Who/Evangelion episode 1.
- Outline Doctor Who/Evangelion episode 2.

The last three things I can work on from tonight onwards. The first, I'll have to do after Tuesday night, since I won't have anything to work with until I've gone through crew and ship creation with the players. I'm also going to try and complete the Time Finder exercise from 'No Plot, No Problem' this week, keeping a log of my daily activities over the next seven days so I can work out how much time I can free up for writing over November. After that I do more or less the same as with the Unschedule I mentioned before. So, that's my plan for next week, and I'll see what other geeky stuff I can get up to in my downtime. See you later!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

[The Plan] Countdown to NaNoWriMo 2014

With NaNoWriMo just a month away, it's time I started getting back into the writing habit. The Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic is still a work in progress, and (frustratingly) I still need to get episode 1 ready for posting, but it's time to start making plans for a NaNo project. Last year I used NaNo to work on the fanfic. This year, I had planned to work on an RPG project, but I feel I need to get back into the business of writing fiction so I'm going to try and tackle a fiction project instead. Not fanfiction this time, though. I may pull double duty, working on both my fanfic and an original fiction project for the month. As long as I write 50,000 words over November it still counts.

Anyway, I need to figure out what original project I'm going to work on for November. I did a quick brainstorm of existing ideas I've got on the backburner and came up with a half dozen potential projects off the top of my head. I know I've got more old ideas kicking around up there than that, but anything I didn't come up with in that initial brainstorm obviously isn't something I'm particularly excited about writing at the moment, so it can wait. So I'm going to pick something from those six ideas in the next day or so, and then get to work brainstorming and outlining for it, with the intent of having a roadmap prepared to get me through NaNoWriMo.

I'll have less time on my hands for writing than I've had the last few years, since I'm working now, but I think that's probably more of a boon than a curse. Having a limit on my available writing time will help keep me more focused on getting the work done during the time I do have. I've always felt that having a more fixed routine would help me be more productive as a writer, so I'll be putting that theory to the test over the next few months.

First thing's first, I need to pick one of these six ideas to work on. I'll do it randomly - either rolling a D6 or drawing titles out of a hat - and then I'll pick whichever option I wish had come up. Or some other method. One way or another, I'll aim to have picked my project for NaNo by the end of this week.

See ya later!