Monday, February 23, 2009

Descent of Wood

So, it seems that last night, Something Happened. We've been getting a lot of rain lately, which has inevitably softened the ground, and it seems that one of the trees around here was actually pretty badly rooted, because it fell over. The LA saw it when she went out to go to work, and grabbed me and my camera to document it in case anyone needs it.

What had happened was a simple lack of hold by the roots. They were extraordinarily shallow, and simply had no hold, so the tree fell. Luckily, it fell pretty much southwestwards. Had it fallen more easterly, it would have severely damaged the other end of the building I live in. More westerly, it would have done similar to another building. Had it fallen on a reciprocal heading, it would probably have done minor damage to the building across the pond. As it is, it severely dented the roof of one car, also caving in several windows (this car has already been towed) and caved in a window on the car next to it.

For most of the day, I've been treated to a soundtrack of chainsaws and log-chippers as the trunk was cut up and removed. Now, having gone out for an inspection afterwards, I can state that aside from one caved window, the second car is remarkably unscathed. The tree itself was a good three feet in diameter at the base, and so it's no surprise that the first car was sufficiently crunched as to need a tow.

And finally, when I took the recycling down earlier and stayed to rubberneck, I met a new neighbour. He's the replacement for a chap we knew only as "Scooby", and is a very pleasant fellow. I shall have to invite him over for a game of darts sometime.

I'm unsure whether I should post photos of the event.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Say hello to the con-goer.

Last weekend was DunDraCon. The anniversary weekend is Stitches. And now, Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25, to be exact) is KublaCon. I've arranged crash space with a friend in Burlingame (thanks, Arthur!) and registered my geeky behind.

There's a good chance of more B-17 being played. This time, I'm intending to stay till the bitter end...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Burning Wheel: first impressions

Thanks to a raucous, fun session of play on Friday, and the LA's decision that I obviously had enjoyed that enough to make the purchase worthwhile, I picked up a copy of Burning Wheel on Saturday. When I actually got to read the rulebooks, it was initially daunting, but I rapidly picked up the jargon, and I'm now confident I can follow a conversation about it. The system is, at its heart, very simple: roll dice, and count how many are good. Compare that to a target number, and see if you did what you wanted or not.

Other points are: it's a game that rewards characters for attempting, not just succeeding. Didn't make the test? You still learned something. Do that often enough, and you'll get better. This makes a lot more sense than the yar-boo-sucks approach often taken in RPGs, where failing a check is treated as utter, abject failure and you don't even get to learn from your mistakes.

The abstractions are well-chosen - no more micromanagement of finances, you can simply roll using a stat to figure out if you can afford what you want.

Social mechanics. Oh, sweet social mechanics. Normally, this defaults to "loudest and/or most stubborn player wins". Not in Burning Wheel. Thanks to the Duel of Wits, even the quiet guy who only ever speaks when spoken to (that would be me; hi, me!) can win a shouting match in character.

Balance. It's told to go hang. Elves are über, and that's it; Dwarves are über also; humans are not über in anything except possibilities. There's no actual class (you want a mage in armour with a big axe? Sure, if you can persuade the GM to let you take enough lifepaths) but there's a lot of flavour. Character creation is interestingly handled; you choose lifepaths. What this means is that you hve to pick where you were born, how you grew up, and what this left you with. Each lifepath advances your age, gives you skill points and trait points, provides you with a useful skill and usually gives you a trait as well. It also allows you to take other skills and traits at reduced cost. The process of character creation is slow initially (my first character took me about four solid hours to burn) but winds up with a very flavourful person, instead of the usual result of a point-buy system, Fy-Tor Mk. IV (who is identical to Fy-Tors Mk. I-III).

Overall, if you're into roleplaying at all and don't own Burning Wheel, I strongly recommend you go out and buy it. Even if you don't use it, it will make you think about RPGs.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

I'm actually kind of glad I didn't get into the game I'd registered for today. I'm tired out.

Friday: a Good Omens GM running The Gift, which is an excellent intro to Burning Wheel. This game made it imperative that I buy the system.
Saturday: an SCA combat demo, and then in the evening, a game of B-17: Queen of the Skies, which started as an Avalon Hill game. By this time, it's evolved, and is... well, it's pretty darned brutal. In my squadron of six, one plane blew up in midair on the way to the target, one plane lost most of its defensive armament, along with his radio (which meant no participation in the conference regarding the aiming point) and I lost my radio and my entire oxygen system. This was pretty typical. I shall definitely be looking out for it, because while it's a long game (I had to drop out just as we left the target zone, which was four hours after the start time) it's extremely fun, and the guy who runs it is a good man.

Today, well... we showed up, but I overloaded pretty fast, so we headed home.

Over the weekend, I also aquired a d4 that actually rolls (it's a I, II, III, IV thrice d12) and a d10 that's a Platonic solid (0-9 twice on an icosahedron). Along with a t-shirt proclaiming "All I see around me is Chaos, Panic and Disorder. At last, my work here is done."

Friday, February 13, 2009

On a break

I'm at DunDraCon this weekend. Come find me, if you're there; I'll have a big, blue knitted d12 with me...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On the Superbowl

Yes, I was around for last year's, but I wasn't paying attention. This year, though, the LA and I sat and watched a large number of overly muscled young men attempting to maim each other in a fight over a ball which isn't even round.

I've finally figured out American Football. It's been much compared to "their version of Rugby", but it's not right to my Union-trained mind. However, once I realised it was the US's version of Rugby League, but with forward passing not only allowed but encouraged, things became perfectly clear. The game was rather interesting; I can't pretend to understand all the tactics involved, but the actual gameplay was familiar enough to tell that it was a close match.

It was also familiar enough for me to see that the overall slightly better team was being hobbled by an overactive referee, and I'm still not convinced by the call on the final touchdown which gave the Steelers the game.

In other news, I've now put in a pre-registration form for the games I'd like to play in at DunDraCon this year. I'm hopeful I'll get into the session P Burning Wheel game, so that I can actually make an informed decision. As things stand, I've heard people I trust praising Burning Wheel, but others saying it's quite rules-heavy, which doesn't suit my style - although one of the praisers is also a very rules-light GM. I'm confused, so I want to run a character for a while. It could turn out that my homebrew setting is better suited to Burning Wheel in tone than Savage Worlds, but we shall see.