27 May 2012

I'm Digging this Fatherhood Gig

Life has been fine here. Two nights off from work and plenty of sleep for all four of us. The girls just keep maturing rapidly. Latest hits:

  • They're with me in the kitchen to cook pretty regularly now. Poor Leia started crying when Alisa beat her to setting the table.
  • Hirono and I saw UK in the city last week. It was the first time the girls went to sleep without at least one of us to put them to bed. They fared well and we got to see the whole concert uninterrupted. The next morning I showed the girls a video of the band in concert. Ever since, Alisa has been asking regularly about playing violin again.
  • Leia seems more interested in piano lessons, though her ear is not so strong. Girl got rhythm.
  • They like playing "concerts" with us, where we play whatever instrument is at hand and switch around quite often. There's plenty of dancing and singing as well. We're all looking forward to another concert after Alisa wakes from her late nap today.
  • We're struggling to find a good violin teacher. Alisa nearly cried yesterday when the violin teacher didn't show up (a fatal strike for that teacher, for sure) to just talk about starting lessons. She's really eager to get going. Luckily, Hirono's friend is a violinist in the SF symphony and is helping to find someone in in the South Bay.
  • All three girls have realized that if they speak together in Japanese they can leave me as a clueless bystander. I think they're plotting something.
  • Their Saturday morning にほんごひろば, aka Japanese Romper Room, classes are ending. The teacher's children have just grown too old for them and she's moving on to dance instructions. Both girls have indicated interest in dance again, though I'm suspicious that they may just think they'll miss the teacher.
  • Leia beat the pants off me in hopscotch today.
  • They're both into stories; but, particularly Alisa. She's intent on getting all the way through The Last Unicorn, Peter Beagle's masterpiece set to graphic novel. She also has asked for The Hobbit a couple more times; but, tires of the lengthy prose after three or four pages. She makes up her own stories, short affairs lasting about 2 minutes to tell, many times a day.

First Words Typing

As a 21st century parent, I find myself as proud of my daughter's first words typed as their first written words. Yesterday, Alisa picked up an electronic gadget and started typing words. Her first typed word was おさしみ, in English that's "sashimi" or slices of raw fish prepared for eating without rice. Its one of her favorite meals.

Then Leia picked up the gadget and the two of them together worked out the words おしりたんてい, farting buttocks. 

Stormdragon Draft

Dr Bargle asked for the Stormdragon rules. Here's a draft:


Note that the reader is assumed to know the Pendragon combat and passion rules already.

05 May 2012

Playtesting Stormdragon

So our gaming table finally met again. This time we went through a second iteration of the "Stormdragon" ruleset. Stormdragon is our home-brewed gaming ruleset that mixes Strombringer 1e magic and setting with Pendragon combat rules and Runequest skill rules. It worked fairly well. Here are some thoughts:

  • Referee Swapping - One player and I switched back and forth in the referee role, with me dominating about 90% of the time. It worked fairly well and I felt we  allowed each other plenty of free scope for improvisation. We each had our character as well, which made it easy to ebb and flow the role of narrator. No need to change anything here.
  • Player vs Player - The first half of the session focused on the new player characters to the campaign world. They got involved in a subplot, which eventually brought them in contact with the elder player characters. When they finally met, they were on opposite sides of the battlefield. It was a grand battle, ending in the new player character's fleeing the battle and later joining forces with the victorious elder player characters. I had a PC in the mix as well and he escaped with his life. Another one of these player vs player battle royales needs to be orchestrated some time.
  • Character Generation - It was a little slow still. We went with character builds instead of random rolls. I prefer random rolls as it really puts players in unexpected places and makes them think on their feet. One of the new characters was a priest of the second circle, meaning he could summon elementals and demons. Magic using characters take a long time to finish; but, I think its worth it in the end given how rich the magic system can be. The number of skills was too high and slowed down the process too much.
  • Skills - I think there's too many skills. I'll probably shrink the number of skills significantly. Perception skills and poison lore gotta go. Maybe up-level some skill descriptions to be more broad in scope and reduce the overall number.
  • Experience - If we reduce the number of skills and broaden each skill in scope, then I think experience is working out just fine.
  • Passions - Nobody used passions!!! That sucks, people! Get 'em out there.
  • Combat - Seemed to work pretty well. Everybody is playing a different character than they have in a long while, with the whole party being swordsmen knights in our previous Pendragon campaign. The stumbling we experienced during combat was probably more about learning curve in the new roles and lower power levels than we're used to.
  • Magic Use - So casting magic slowed down the game significantly. At this point I attribute it to lack of familiarity with the rules and will forge ahead. I like the creativity of this magic system very much.

The story also worked pretty well. It got off to a slow start; but, I expect it to pick up once we gain familiarity with the magic rules. Demons are important personalities in the milieu of this world and our stumbling with the rules definitely hurts the storyline. Also, the party wasn't really together until the last 1/3rd of the session - so there were some slow intervals for one character or another.

02 May 2012

Not Interested

I've been loosely following the D&D 5th edition discussions. I want to give Wizards of the Coast the benefit of the doubt; but, this post just makes me totally uninterested in D&D 5.


Too. Many. Rules.

Tonight's Game Setup

The Lance of Thunder, Chief Astrologer of Duke Vezhan in distant Esmir, charged the clergy with a quest. "Seek the Holy White Lotus, which tumbles where water and earth meet." While searching the Dragon Sea you call port at the Dreaming City of Melnibone. There an adventuring sorceress told rumors of a great waterfall of lotus flowers in rocky peaks hedging the Mist Marsh. Her ship's navigator frequently spoke to her of it in awed whispers. Alas, the poor soul was lost at sea in her last voyage; but, she knows his home village. It is, she fears, beset with pirates.

You find yourself on a ship at sea [column 26.row 40] a half-day's sail from the navigator's birthplace. Good money and days spent pouring through Melnibone's libraries uncovered a map of the Serpent's Teeth.