It's my month every month!

Here's the basics.  Every month is designated some kind of awareness month or heritage month or history month.  In fact, they're designated and redesignated.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  But it's also Cook Book Month, LGBT History Month and dozens others.  October's particularly popular; August, January and December combined are less commemorative than October.  

Here's the game:  See if you're commemorated every month.  You can use anything from this list, but you can't use the same thing to qualify for multiple months, even if it's celebrated on multiple months; e.g. I can't use both Manuary (January) and Month of Man (May) because both stem from my maleness.  Here's my lowdown

January: Manuary
February: Chocolate Lover's Month
March: Nothing
April: Nothing
May: Nothing 
June: Nothing
July: National Caucasian Heritage Month
August: Nothing
September: Nothing
October: National Depression Education and Awareness Month
November: Nothing
December: Nothing

Only four months, not that impressive.  Surely there is a challenger who can beat me?  Alternately, create a persona and try to aim for as many months as possible.  Be a retarded canadian zombie (March, February, and May respectively), or a Gay Bearded Texas Chef (June, December, September).  Don't leave me hanging.

Bridging the Gaming Gap: Star Trek Vs. Star Wars

I should begin with a declaration of where I stand.  While I love both universes, if you pointed a gun at my head and made me pick only one, it'd be Star Trek.  Since hypothetical men with guns and obscure, arbitrary demands are relatively rare though, I've had the pleasure of sampling both thoroughly.  And I've noticed that somehow, the Star Wars universe has been far, far more successful in the realm of gaming than Star Trek.  

This disparity seems to apply only to gaming.  It's hard to quantify a thing like how fervent a fandom is, but I'm disinclined to believe that one significantly outclasses the other in general.  But in the gaming world, the gap is noticeable.  While there have been duds, Star Wars has had some huge hits:  Battlefront, Dark Forces, Rogue Squadron, Shadows of the Empire, KotOR etc.  I'm hard pressed to name a single Star Trek game, and I've played a few.  They've been largely awful and forgettable.  

Why is this?  Why have star trek games fallen so flat on their face when Star Wars games succeed so well.  It has to do with the nature of the protagonists and the conflicts in both universes.  In Star Trek, the protagonists are part of a crew.  They're a team from the beginning and they work together as a team to address conflicts.  In Star Wars, the protagonists are a motley bunch.  They're generally on the same side *cough*Lando*cough*, but they're often working on things alone.  Luke goes off on his own to Dagoba, Anakin runs off to Tatooine in Episode two.  When they are working together, they're often engaged in their own conflicts.  Return of the Jedi has three parallel conflicts running towards the end.  The same thing happens in episodes one and three.  In three the difference is the most pronounced.  Obi-Wan and Yoda are engaged in two separate conflicts in pursuit of a common goal, namely, eliminating the Sith.  But they're on opposite sides of the galaxy from each other.  The conflicts couldn't be further apart.  

And because the protagonist has to bear the burden of conflict alone, they appear more badass.  Even if the sides are evenly matched, the one on one combatant appears more badass than the team vs. team combatants.  He or she has total responsibility for success or failure.  There's something alluring about the lone cowboy riding into town, and Star Wars really taps into that.  

I believe this is why Star Wars succeeds in the gaming arena where Star Trek tends to stumble.  People want to play a badass, not just a team member.  But what about tabletop gaming?  In theory, the things that hold Star Trek back in video games should work in its favor for tabletop gaming.  Tabletop gaming is a social experience; the crew from Star Trek translates well to a gaming group.  Multiple simultaneous conflicts, while exciting in movies, can be pretty boring for the players since they have to passively watch conflicts that they're not involved in.  And it can be tricky for the GM to manage these different scenes.  

It's hard to say which has been more successful; I've played the latest incarnations of both.  Both are now defunct, with Decipher having gone out of the RPG business altogether and WotC opting not to renew their license to produce Star Wars related material.  But Star Wars d20 had 3 versions over the course of a decade while the Decipher version of Star Trek lasted only 3 years.  Longevity is a poor measure of success, but the Star Wars RPGs have both lasted at least a decade while the Star Trek RPG license has seen significantly more turnover.  

I think it has to do with how people approach gaming.  Even though it's a fundamentally collaborative experience, I don't think people see it in that light.  In general people focus on their character and not the bigger picture of the game as a whole.  There's a line of thinking (perhaps an out of date one), that the big picture stuff is the GM's job, and the PCs should be focused on their character.  In that light, the heightened level of badassness that Star Wars provides looks pretty good.  But that line of thinking leads to a team of badasses, which I don't think really leads to good roleplaying.  

Does this mean that Star Wars is an inferior universe for roleplaying?  No, of course not.  There's plenty of room for good, team oriented RP in Star Wars just as there is in Star Trek.  The virtues of Star Trek for RP are just a little trickier to spot, which I think has led to this disparity. 

L5R AP Report: the one Sean missed

Sean usually does a pretty good job with the Actual Play reports for our weekly L5R game, but he missed game the week before last because he was fighting crime or in suspended animation or something.  So here's the one he missed.  

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What worked well:  

Seeing Wasichi lose his temper was interesting.  It's not really a side of the character we've seen before.  

We're kind of the bad guys.  Shimizu has basically engaged in a prolonged campaign of neglect towards his wife and children.  He threw himself at his work to avoid being around them, has no love for the clan he joined, and actively worked for what his wife sees as its destruction.  And the cherry on top: he's cheating on her.  All this for a marriage that was supposedly blessed by the rokugani cupid.  Tso-Lao may be taking this kind of hard next time.  

What could be improved:

Game felt a little short.  Part of this was that we got a late start, but we also ended on the early side.  The divorce was originally supposed to be one session, but it's spilled over into a second one now.  Don't get me wrong, it's fun to play through the divorce, but I think next time might run short as well since there's not going to be enough to fill a whole session.  

Changeling: Coming to Collect

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What rocked:

We had a guest star playing the Ice Elemental, thanks seannittner !  He did a great job scaring the crap out of us.  

We saw a new part of the hedge, and it was freaky and full of dinosaurs.  The Wayne Knight-eating kind of dinosaurs.  Also, the dudes riding the dinosaurs looked like the dinosaurs, it was pretty cool.  

What could be improved:

The various seneschals all feel kind of similar.  It'd be cool if they served as a showcase for the different courts they serve, but they're all pretty down to business people.  

I think part of my problem with this game is that I've been playing with the wrong mentality.  I've been playing with a high power mentality in a low power game.  I've been doing the confrontational thing, facing stuff head on, when that's not what this game is about or what I'm equipped to do.  Even stuff which would be a relatively minimal threat in another game, like a band of street thugs, is something we should probably be running from in this game.  Real heroes don't roll chance dice as often as we do.  Now that I know though, and I'm doing the whole "discretion is the better part of valor" thing, I think I won't hit so many brick walls.  

I have got to work on my 90's lingo/trivia.  Anyone know a good reservoir of 90's stuff?

Changeling: Leaving the Nest

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What went well:  

I kind of love the characters.  Everyone's kind of crazy in their own way.  The Ogre's all there for the most part, but still slips into his Viking ways at inopportune moments.  The Beast has this perfect, crazy, child-like innocence; quick to shift from smiles to tears and back again as the mood takes her, and slow to grasp ponderous cerebral matters, but quick to understand matters of the heart.  The Darkling keeps to himself and mostly plays it straight.  The Elemental is probably the smartest of all of us, but communicates in brief bursts of coherence and falls back readily on his blue lipstick when stressed.  My character, the Fairest, is reasonably sane, but he's earnest and relentlessly positive.  The dynamic at the table is great, and I know the GM loves watching us sort out our absurd viewpoints at the table.  

The story we're in works well as a moderately paced introduction to the world of changeling, both for the players and characters (for most of the table, this is their first time playing changeling.)  Last game we were introduced to the hedge, now the concept of a fetch and (for one player at least) the goblin market.  

The Winter Queen is pretty freaky yo

What could be improved:

It's rough having only one copy each of the NWoD book and the changeling book.  Even doing stuff round robin, we often have to pause at the beginning of a scene so the person in question can see the details of the contract they want to use.  Hopefully this'll get better as people get a better grasp of their own contracts though.  

Changeling: The times, they are a-changin'

So our NWoD mashup game folded.  Sorta.  It was a mutual decision that we'd be better off focusing on a single type of supernatural creature so we can focus on the themes and ideas present in that system instead of having a mish-mash of all sorts of themes.  So we opted for changeling.  We used the system from My Life with Master to create one Keeper who captured all of the player characters. 

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What worked:

Most fun I've had in a long time with character/setting creation.  Creating the keeper was especially fun, it was a fun collaborative process and in the end we have the monsterous villain in common for all our characters.  

There's a lot of energy at the table, particularly from the GM.  I can tell people are excited about playing it.  

What could be improved:

I really need to take notes if I'm going to do the AP report thing diligently.  Usually I just rely on seannittner  to do all the note taking, but he's not in this game so I can't slack.  

Starting a new game is a little bittersweet (although light on the bitter, heavy on the sweet), since I was enjoying my old character and had just bumped her wyrd up to two.  But I'm already thinking about how to tweak my new character.  

L5R: One slightly used empire, needs custodian

Last time in our L5R game we wrapped up the first month of the new arc. Each month we travel out to various parts of the empire and deal with the various problems that crop up during the emperors absence.

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What worked well

I'm digging the mega-game so far.  I think we're splitting up mostly in the month to come, but I'm interested to see some different pairings and how folks get along.  The pairings this time around were kind of obvious (e.g. witch hunter and inquisitor go along together), but what I'm really interested to see are the interactions when some mutual interest draws together some wierder duos.  

The new verbal sparring mechanic worked well.  We used it twice, and both times it was fun to watch play out.  I may be playing through it myself if things go according to plan next month...

What could be improved

I got dinged on honor for allowing myself to be tricked into getting poisoned.  Which is fine on its own.  But when I proposed that I should gain honor for risking my life in the service of my lord, it got vetoed because I was never actually poisoned until the antidote was given to me (in out of game terms).  It felt a little inconsistent; either I was tricked and poisoned, or I wasn't.  Not a major gripe, just felt like a double standard.  

We're having a hard time getting to the one month = one session point.  I wouldn't speculate on whether or not we can reach that point or when, but I'd like to get there.  


I donated platelets on Monday. The last time I went in to give blood they asked me if I'd thought about it. So I let them take a little extra blood to test to see if I was eligible. Turns out most folks aren't eligible; you need to have enough platelets that they can take enough for a unit of platelets and still leave you with enough to not bleed to death. The process involves injecting anti-coagulants into you as well, so it's extra bad if you're low on your personal supply of platelets. I got a call a couple weeks ago saying I was eligible, so I scheduled a date.

I came in and checked in with the receptionist. Went through the paperwork and the finger stick, then they hooked me up to the platelet collecting machine. Apparently back in the day, they'd put a needle in each arm and take the blood out of one arm and then feed it back in the other. But the machinery's a little more sophisticated today, the thing takes stuff out and then returns it back in all via the same needle. It monitors blood pressure automatically and stuff like that, so the phlebologist can mostly just ignore it. The machine beeps if I need a blanket or anything. That's the one thing about giving platelets, is that while the machine is sorting the platelets out of your blood, the blood is cooling off to the point of being at about room temperature when they put it back in you, so they pile on blankets to keep you warm during the process. I never felt cold during the whole process though, they were pretty good about keeping my temperature from falling. And it's better than the light-headedness that sometimes accompanies whole blood donation.

The whole process took about an hour and a half. They set me up with a mini-dvd player and some headphones, so I just watched a movie the whole time. They had a half decent selection of movies too; I watched Frost/Nixon, which I'd always wanted to see but had never really gotten around to. Then at the end they bandaged me up and I went on my way.

That guy

There's a Dos Equis ad campaign which features a character only referred to as "The Most Interesting Man in the World". Said man does interesting things, and advocates drinking the aforementioned beer. There's a little bit of the whole Chuck Norris fad at the core of the whole thing, with the commercials taking the form of a series of anecdotes, generally, "He once ________ just to _______", or something along those lines.

I mention this so you have some baseline grasp of the joke when I mention that XKCD did a strip parodying the ad campaign, featuring "The Least Interesting Man in the World". One of the panels, I forget which has the caption "He has 5 livejournal posts, all of them apologies for not posting more." In the strip the guy's typing out an LJ post with something along the lines of "Sorry guys, things have been pretty crazy lately".

I mention this (It's a long way to go to get to my actual point, but thanks for sticking it out), because I have a not unsubstantiated fear that I am becoming that guy. So, as step one, I'm not apologizing for not posting more frequently. In fact, I blame you. Yes you. You know what you've done. But I'm going to try to post more, including AP reports and also just the crap that's on my mind. Possibly retroactive to some older games, but I make no promises.

Lastly, I'm going to through this one out to the crowd for comments. Have any of you ever been close to becoming that guy/gal, only to step away from the brink at the last moment? I'm speaking in the broadest possible sense here, not just referring to "that guy" as an LJ absentee thing. Any sort of "that guy". Thought provoking answers will receive cookies.

Active Living

I read on the side of a coke can that they're a "proud sponsor of active living". And that's when I realized it. I'm not an active live-r at all. I'm a passive live-r. I mean, sure, I eat and stuff, but that's just providing the fuel for living. All the work is done by my body without me having to lift a finger. I even maintain homeostasis without even thinking. Lizards don't. They have to sun themselves on a rock when they get cold. That's real active living. In summary, I aspire to be cold-blooded one day.