Sunday, November 30, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Kindle e-books, nanogames and other stuff...

I used one of my Audible credits to buy Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, narrated by Kate Reading (one half of the Wheel Of Time narrator duo) and Wil Wheaton. It seems to be an alt-history, steampunk adventure story, so I'm looking forward to listening to it...whenever I get my other Audible books out of the way.
I also went ahead and bought the next three books in the Wheel of Time series with my remaining credits. At the rate I've been going though, I'll probably have finished them off by the end of December, if not before.

On Kindle, I bought Legion and The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson in a two-in-one edition. I had read the synopsis for Legion a while back (about a man who uses a unique form of multiple personality disorder to access a variety of different skill sets) and thought it sounded cool. The Emperor's Soul, I don't know much about, but I figure I'll give it a look if it's by Brandon Sanderson anyway. At some point I should get around to checking out Alloy of Law and his new Reckoners series, but not quite yet.

I ordered myself a 32Gb Micro SD card for my phone, since it keeps warning me that I'm running out of storage space. I'd had the same issue with my old phone, but I never got around to buying a bigger Micro SD card for it. Decided not to keep putting it off this time.

And finally, just this morning I bought The Sundered Land anthology of nanogames by Vincent Baker, because I heard about it on the Jank Cast and decided to give it a look.

Achievements Unlocked
Tuesday's session of Firefly was hailed by all of my players as the most enjoyable so far, despite it being another scenario I hastily cobbled together at the last minute. This time, the reason for the last minute prep was that I changed my planned scenario to make it a spotlight episode for Heather's character (since she's going to be leaving the game for a while) instead of the one I had planned for Honi's character. My only concern about the session was that Craig (as Captain Lorretto) didn't have much to do, even though Craig did make a conscious decision to step back and let the crew do their own thing. Next session won't be Honi's spotlight, since she might not be here, so I'll be doing something else for it.

After getting home from the Firefly game, Heather and I watched the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD over Skype. The second season continues to impress, and this was probably the most tightly-paced episode so far, setting up what looks to be an epic confrontation between SHIELD and Hydra in the mid-season finale. For those of you who were disappointed in the first half of SHIELD season one, I encourage you to pick up where you left off and stick with it. It really is worth persevering to get to all the awesome that comes later.

On Wednesday night, I decided that since I am still paying a monthly subscription to Netflix I should probably get back to using the service. So I sat down and started watching the second half of Warehouse 13, season four (in part because it turned out I unknowingly got the idea for this week's Firefly game from the show, which got me thinking about it again). As has become traditional with the show by this point, as one villain exits another quickly fills their place, though it's unclear at this point whether James Marsters' Count of St Germain or his wife are the real threat. Given that this is James Marsters we're talking about though, I'm gonna guess he's the Big Bad until proven wrong, since he does it so very well. More than any of the plot stuff that's going on in the show though, it's the characters' struggle to deal with the heartbreaking developments of the first half of the season that really kept me hooked.

On Thursday, I had the night off from work, so I had a bit of a anime/TV binge. First, I watched three more episodes of Cowboy Bebop and stopped just before episode 24. The movie takes place at some point roughly between episodes 22 and 23, but I reckon it could just as easily take place between 23 and 24 so I'll be watching that next. 

I then decided to make further use of my Netflix subscription and picked up where I left off with another series I hadn't seen in a while, Lost Girl. I'd watched the first season a couple years ago, but never got round to continuing it. I watched the first four episodes of season two and wondered why it took me this long to revisit the show. For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows a succubus who discovers she's one of the Fae and, after refusing to align herself with either the light or dark fae, finds herself working as a sort of freelance investigator for fae from both sides in need of help, with the help of her human best friend, Kenzi. 

It's pretty cool, and I'd recommend you give it a look if you like dark fairytales and urban fantasy. It does have a bit of paranormal romance to it (the main character is a succubus, after all), which nearly put me off giving the series a look, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared, so I recommend at least giving it a shot for a few episodes to decide if you like it or not.

I finished off A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan on Friday night, and while one plot thread was resolved, the quest that had carried over from the previous book was still unresolved (they found the plot device they were after, but haven't got around to using it yet) and the fate of one of the main characters was left uncertain. I know, I know...was I really expecting it to end with no loose ends remaining, since it's only book seven of fourteen? No, but I had hoped it would provide a comfortable stopping point. As I've probably mentioned already, books one through five were all fairly self-contained despite the over-arching plot tying them all together, but these last couple of books have been less so. So now I need to decide whether to take a break and listen to Elantris next as planned, or continue with the Wheel of Time series until I do reach a suitable stopping point.

Works In Progress
Having decided NaNoWriMo isn't working for me this year, I got back to work on editing the first episode of my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic.

Not much else to report, except that I'm stuck with prep for this week's Firefly scenario...again.

The Plan
I've set deadlines for finishing off the edit of the DW/Eva fanfic before, but I really want to get started posting the fic on soon. My hope is that I'll be able to finish writing an episode every month and post it weekly in four parts over the following month, but if I can't manage that, I hope at least to be halfway through my 'season' by the time next Christmas comes around, so I can write up and post a 'christmas special' to mark my mid-season point. But honestly, I'm not going to fret over how regularly I can post new chapters, I'm just going to focus on getting the chapters done and edited so that I can post them.

So the plan for the weekend ahead is to finish editing episode 1 and get it ready for posting by Saturday, and in the meantime I need to finish writing up the outline for episode 2 so I can get started writing it.

I don't want the fanfic to distract me from working on the Dream Detective story though. I'll be continuing development on that as I go, getting the worldbuilding and characters figured out a bit more so I can make a fresh start on writing it in the New Year. In the meantime, writing the fanfic should help me get back into the habit, and maybe I'll figure out what 'process' works for me while I'm at it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Chuubo's, Tabletop, and other stuff...


I had seen mention of Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine on the RPGnet PbP forums a few times, and I finally got curious enough to download it from DrivethruRPG. Luckily, the download includes an e-Pub edition, which was easily converted to .mobi for reading on my Kindle, so I'll be more able to read it than I usually am when it comes to digital RPG books.

Achievements Unlocked

I finished the audiobook of Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan on Monday night, and I've already moved on to listening to the next book in the Wheel of Time series, A Crown of Swords. Without spoiling things for others who haven't finished the series, there was an interesting development with Egwene in the last book, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Hopefully, this book will leave things on less of a 'to be continued' note than the previous one, as I intend to take a break from The Wheel of Time to listen to Brandon Sanderson's Elantris after this. Of course, there's always a little bit of a 'To Be Continued' note to WoT, but up until Lord Of Chaos each book had its own internal plot arc that was resolved by the end, whereas a major plot thread from Lord Of Chaos has continued into A Crown Of Swords. I suspect this won't be the last time that happens either, as the series draws closer to its finale.

We had our third session of Firefly on Tuesday (I'll get round to posting the session recaps after NaNo is done with), and it got off to a bit of a rocky start. I tried to run the scenario from the corebook, What's Yours Is Mine, since I had been struggling with prep for the session. However, the crew rejected the mission, as it would require them to 'turn pirate', and that went against their morality, regardless of Marion Morrison's intentions. I had anticipated this, though, and had a rough idea for a backup plan based on a solo game of the Firefly board game I had done to help map out a potential flightpath for the campaign. So, the crew wound up taking on some passengers - terraforming workmen bound for Jubilee - one of whom turned out to be more trouble than he was worth, especially with an Alliance cruiser pulling them in for a customs inspection. The incident has also put them on Niska's radar, which I'll be sure to use in a future session.

After the session, we played a bit of Cards Against Humanity, and then I headed home, where I watched the new season premiere of Tabletop with Heather over Skype. Much like Takenoko, at first glance Tokaido did not really attract my interest as much as some of the other games that have featured on the show. That said, Takenoko did actually grow on me after a repeated viewing, and it is a pretty fun game (when I can find people to play with) so maybe Tokaido is a similar case.

Works In Progress

Continuing to struggle onwards with NaNoWriMo, but it is definitely a struggle at this stage. Something I have come to realise of late is that I am (or should be), to a certain extent, an outliner. I'm not terribly good at discovery writing/gardening/pantsing/etc. I need at least some form of plan worked out in advance, and I went into this month with nothing. Not even an idea what to write. The result has been a bit of a mess, and not even the 'beautiful mess' that Chris Baty has spoken of in the past. I'm going to continue writing and adding to my word count, but for the next week that writing will be dedicated to outlining and worldbuilding. Then, hopefully, by the time December starts I'll have enough of a roadmap to do a proper job of it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Blue Sun, Hell 4 Leather, and other stuff...

Since they were relevant to my current interests (I.e. NaNoWriMo) I bought a couple of Kindle ebooks: 500 Ways To Write Harder by Chuck Wendig, and Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. Chuck Wendig also had a NaNo-themed '30 days' book, but since I'm already halfway through the month, I figured it was a bit late for that. Might still download it for future NaNo-style writing challenges though.

Achievements Unlocked
On Tuesday, before GUGS, I met up with Peter, Matty and Ruaridh at Geek Retreat for some board gaming. Peter had just got the new Blue Sun expansion for Firefly, so we gave that a shot. The new Reavers and the alert tokens make Reavers a lot more of a threat than in standard play. Matty had to leave early, and when Ruaridh had to bow out as well we just called it a day. Ruaridh was the clear winner with credits in the low tens of thousands range, while I barely had more than a thousand and Peter was completely broke.

Firefly RP didn't happen as we were down a couple of players (Peter had to go home and Martín had an event to attend) so we got an extra player and played some Hell 4 Leather.

I was the Fool, Lady Jane, former leader of a D&D style adventuring party who got pushed into a deep river with a curse placed on her armour to make sure she couldn't get out. She returned from her watery grave to exact revenge on her fellow adventurers who betrayed her. My luck with finding the Death card wasn't the best, and my methods of vengeful murder weren't the most inventive when I did manage to take out one of the party, but we all had fun regardless.

The day after that, I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I took the day off from volunteering and wound up watch the first four and a half seasons of Felicia Day's web series, The Guild. It had been on my 'to watch' list for a while, but I'd never got round to it. But I was in need of cheering up, so I gave it a watch.

I was initially unimpressed, finding all of the characters except Codex unlikeable at first, but they soon grew on me, and obviously I enjoyed it enough to watch almost the entire webseries. I still have the sixth and final season left to watch, and already watched the first episode yesterday.

I've also been catching up on Agents Of SHIELD with Heather over Skype. So far, season two is a lot stronger in this first half than the first season was. There's a clear adversary with Hydra out in the open, there's a lot more going on with the characters (FitzSimmons in particular break my heart to watch right now) and the main story arc has more of a sense of forward momentum, as opposed to the slow burn of last season. Looking forward to watching things unfold into the new year.

Works In Progress
As week two of NaNoWriMo ended, my characters (past and present) staged an intervention and told me I was writing the wrong story, as my heart clearly wasn't in this one. Who am I to argue? So, to keep the word write count ticking upwards, I've started writing a setting bible for the story that I really want to write: my Dream Detective series of novels. It may not be a novel itself, but it will lay some much needed groundwork for the first novel when I finally start work on it.

The Plan: NaNoWriMo Week 3
Tonight, after I've done a bit of a catch up word binge on the setting bible, I need to sit down and prep a scenario for Tuesday's Firefly RP. The rough scenario I had planned for last week isn't as relevant this week as it would have been then, so I'll need to come up with something else. Or at least tweak and flesh out the earlier scenario idea a little.

For the week ahead, I have enough info to start properly planning the rest of my Firefly 'season' so I'll need to get on with that. And maybe by the end of the week I'll have fleshed out enough of my Dream Detective setting to start writing and see how things unfold.

That's all for now, see you later!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Wheel of Time, NaNo, and other stuff...


I decided to spend one of my Audible credits to get Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, since it's a pretty long book and I've discovered I make better progress listening to books of such length than reading them.

I also bought Tony Kaltenberg's album On The Wing Of The Great Spaceship to use as ambient music for my Firefly campaign. I previously discovered three of the songs from the album as free samples on my iPod or Archos MP3 player, can't remember which. In any case, the music has a similar feel to the more easygoing tracks from the Firefly score, so it seems well-suited as ambience for the RPG.

I also bought the PDF of the Leverage RPG on a bit of a whim. Partly for the scenario generator - which turns out to be only slightly different to the Firefly one in Things Don't Go Smooth, but better fits the morality of our Crew - and partly because I was curious to see what it's like. I was warned that it's pretty 'shallow' by another roleplayer, but I'd like to judge that for myself.

Achievements Unlocked

This week has been fairly quiet as far as geeky stuff goes. I finished off The Fires Of Heaven and have already started listening to the next book in The Wheel Of Time series, Lord Of Chaos. I'll probably tear through the rest of the series this way, with a break in the middle for Elantris, perhaps.

Watched another couple of episodes of Cowboy Bebop, including Pierrot Le Fou and the one with Spike's old mechanic buddy, both of which I loved, but especially Pierrot Le Fou, with its titular madcap assassin.

The Doctor Who finale, Death In Heaven was pretty good, as well as heartbreaking in a number of ways. It's not hard to see why the show's treatment of the afterlife prompted complaints, being as grim as it was. It's probably no accident that the finale fell the day before Remembrance Sunday, and it pays tribute in its own way, dark and twisted though that way might be.

Works In Progress

I've felt tempted to shift focus during NaNo to working on the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic a couple of times, but I've stuck to my guns and worked on the cosmic horror/space opera story at least a little every day. I'm not on target for 50k yet, but if I manage at least to work on it every day I'll count that a success, given how full my schedule feels right now.

I'll see about catching up on Wednesday, either at the write-in or at home. For now though, I'll do what I can, when I can. See you later!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

[Weekly Geeky Report] Late Check In

Hey folks, fell off the blogosphere for a bit there. I can't promise I'm back properly yet, what with it being November and NaNoWriMo season, but I will try to post if and when I can. Swag There hasn't been much in the way of geeky stuff to report on, with my major purchase being a new Moto E smartphone which I already need to take back to the shop because the headphone jack is faulty. That said, I have been enjoying the ability to play Plague Inc on it, among other things. Achievements Unlocked Since my last post, I've run the first couple of sessions of my Firefly campaign. I'll have full AP reports on them soon, but overall they went well and everyone had fun. Having finished listening to the Redshirts audiobook again, I've moved on to The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan. It had been a while since my last visit to the world of The Wheel Of Time series, so it took a bit of time to remember who everyone was and what had happened previously, but the book does help with that a bit by referencing past events here and there. It's the first time I've listened to a Wheel of Time book rather than read it myself, and it's the first audiobook I've heard that alternates between two narrators. It took a bit of getting used to, but it does work pretty well. Doctor Who seems to be getting back to the old style of having season-length arcs instead of a multi-season myth arc, if last night's episode is any indication. I liked it overall, and somewhat wish I hadn't known ahead of time that the Cybermen would be returning, otherwise the reveal would have been amazing. As for the reveal about Missy, pretty much everyone guessed it, but it's great to see the Master back, and to see a new twist on the character. Not quite as powerful a reveal as Jacobi/Simm in Utopia, mind you. Works In Progress As mentioned, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this November and have done 1920 words so far, mostly freewriting to help me settle on a concept for my novel. I did eventually settle on trying out my cosmic horror/space opera setting (which started life as a homebrew campaign setting for Traveller), all that I lack now is a plot for it. I'll do some more freewriting tonight to figure out a direction for the story and then work on an actual beginning for it. The Doctor Who/Evangelion fic is on hold until the end of November, but once NaNo is over I'll start working on it alongside the novel (I have no illusions of it being finished by December, 50,000 words or no) and definitely aim to start posting episodes in early 2015. In the meantime, one thing I will have to continue doing over November is prepping for my Firefly campaign. The next session will have to be a generic standalone episode, since the last couple episodes have been heavily weighted towards the captain and gunhand, and I need more background on the other characters in order to give them equal narrative treatment. I have a couple more stock episodes I can use in a pinch, but I'll have a think about other scenarios before I resort to those. Not much else to say, so I'm gonna go do some more words. See you later folks!