22 November 2011

Is It Any Wonder

I'm sad to say, the pepper spraying brutality in UC Davis this past weekend came as no surprise to me. I've witnessed too much police brutality first hand over the last year to be surprised by it anymore.

Quiz Question: Where was this picture taken? source: AJE

Its not hard to imagine this being Cleveland instead of Cairo.

13 November 2011

Home Again

I arrived back home yesterday. Jet lag is kicking my butt! After two weeks in Japan, two weeks in San Jose, two weeks in India, and now back in San Jose, my body can't tell if its day or night or inside out and upside down.

Tomorrow starts another early morning as I get up at 6:30 am and am off to the San Francisco to survey the damage of last week's layoff. At least I'll be home at a decent hour and can sleep on the train there and back.

Also, tomorrow starts the induction period for NHE yet again.

10 November 2011

Revulsion With Authority

Yet another time I witnessed police brutality. This time it was on the street corner in Noida.

I was in the cab riding to the office. There's a busy intersection right outside the office. Cars, bikes, rickshaws, cows, dogs, pedestrians, motorcycles, scooters, you name it. They all crowd through the intersection all times of day and night.

As we turn through the intersection I notice a young chap and a policeman talking alongside the road. It seemed rather innocuous and I gave it little attention at first. However, for seeming no apparent cause, just as the cab passed the duo the policeman reached out, grabbed the young fellow by the hair, pulled him forward and gave him a hard karate chop across the side of the neck.

The blow nearly knocked the victim over as he tried to pull away. There was absolutely no visible threat from the young man. Pure police brutality. Uncalled for.

For shame India. Shame on you!

07 November 2011

RPG Things to Talk About

Originally spotted at Jeff's Gameblog.

Noisms at Monsters and Manuals things we need to talk more about some stuff.

Book binding. (I can't be the only person who bemoans the way new rulebooks tend to fall apart like a sheaf of dry leaves after about 5 seconds of use).

I'm all digital these days.

"Doing a voice". How many people "do voices"? Should they? How do you get better at "doing a voice" if that's your thing?

I almost never do voices, though when the inspiration for the NPC is someone I've known I often break out into voices.

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?  

We have marathon sessions of 6 hours or more - most often without breaks. Players come and go as their character enter or leave the action. There are frequent scenes where a character is out of the action for one reason or another (we don't generally do underground dungeons), so individuals can take breaks regularly.

Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions? 

There's so much gaming to cram into a session that my descriptions usually have one or two senses described (most often visual or auditory, with the occasional scent or general malaise.) Players' imagination of a scene is much better than I can describe improvisationally.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?  

Oddly, the characters in our games tend to not be murderous cretins most of the time.

PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?  

Players generally act in concert at our gaming table; but, player-vs-player activity does happen every couple of sessions. Its very much in character when it happens. Perhaps the worst bout was when I was a player and, honor bound by an oath to my king, I challenged another player to single combat. Although wounded, my character triumphed and the other player had to roll up another character.

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player? (Real life example: my friends and I were playing in the local M:tG club space. A M:tG groupie teenage goth girl came over and asked, "What are you playing?" "[We answered.]" "Sounds kind of gay.") 

Improvisational theater with dice.

Alchohol at the table?  

Players are welcome to consume whatever vice they please so long as they don't disrupt the table. As referee, I can't really do my job well even after a single drink or drag. So I stay sober.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?  

We aim to start and end an adventure all in one sitting. Thus we have marathon sessions. Absent players' characters are also absent. This is true even when the adventure stretches multiple sessions, in which case we simply turn a blind eye to a character not being there for one session but present for another.

04 November 2011

Automatic Alarm Clock

Grrrr. 5:12am every morning, without fail, there's some religious fool singing very poorly into a PA system right outside my hotel window. I can't tell if its some Islamic call to prayer or a Hindu ritual; I suspect the former.

Either way, its terribly rude to wake up everyone at that time of day. I guess I should expect no better from religious idiots. Rude and insufferable to the core! Every last one of them.

01 November 2011

Greetings from Bangalore

I arrived in Bangalore about five hours ago (its 6:45am here). Although many months of my life have been spent in Noida/New Dehli, this is the first time I've gone south to Bangalore. I must say, the city is much cleaner and more appealing than the New Dehli area.

Traffic is still insane here, maybe even worse than Noida. On the 6 lane super-highway between here and the airport there were frequent breaks - as in the highway disappeared and we drove on dirt and rubble for a kilometer or two. There's also the incessant horns and crazy number of animals about. But there isn't the same amount of refuse or rampant homelessness that you find in New Dehli (at least not in the areas I rode through at night.)

The weather is also beautiful here. I'm currently eating breakfast on a veranda over a swimming pool. There's a gentle breeze sifting through palm fronds and fig trees. The ground is a bit muddy and the skies washed clean from last night's thunderstorms.

Unfortunately, the relaxing breakfast will end all too soon as the work is piled high over the next few weeks. I doubt I'll get to see the city much at all, even on the weekend.