Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 To-Do List

It's a common practice to make resolutions, but I very rarely do it. For one, I know me, and something promised does not necessarily mean something done in any reasonable time frame. Not that I won't do it eventually, but it's a thing and I'm bad at time managing my things.

That said, the beginning of a new semester is an excellent time to shake up my routine and start settling some things into place. So while I won't really set goals for what I want to happen, I will tell you what I'm doing as of next week and certain things I have to achieve over the next six months, at least.

  1. Finish my reading list and formally assemble my committee -- due by the end of January, hard stop. 
  2. Work workouts into next semester, whether with Matt or on my own. I gained more weight last summer and fall due to the sprained ankle and loads of sedentary work, and I'm not happy about it. I at least need to get back to where I was before all that, and that requires going to the gym along with food management, and that requires a schedule. I need to schedule this stuff this week, so I can start it next week. 
  3. Get a paper ready for publication. Luckily I'm taking a seminar devoted to this. 
  4. Send a paper out to be published -- sometime over the year. Start keeping a paper on the back burner for that purpose, to be polished as I go. 
  5. Start on reading list, making it a priority. I need to schedule time each day to read and make it a formal thing, so that it doesn't slip away from me. 
  6. Pass my qualifying exams. 
  7. Publish Daedalus. I'm behind on this, but there's nothing to be done really until I get home. I can write some, but really there's nothing for it. 
  8. Order books for next semester. 
  9. Put together a prospective budget for the EGSA.
  10. Figure out a bank account solution for the EGSA. 
  11. Make some regular blog posts. 
  12. ... Honestly, looking at the above, I think that's good for goals and achievements. I'll add to it as I go. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Oh my gosh, y'all, I'm gonna run a game.

Chocolate Dice, courtesy of ThinkGeek
So one of the things I get to do next semester is run a game for my gaming group. I've run two in the past, but had to wrap both of them up for school reasons. All my players want to play in these games again, and I'm pondering what to run.

1) Picking my Dresden Files game back up where it left off in Baltimore. This has the advantage of me knowing the system, it being pretty easy to add people in, and everyone's excited about it still when I bring it up. DF is a touch tricky, though, at least in the magic system, and nearly everyone's got magic of some form or other. I'm gonna go back to it sometime, and I've got ideas for it, I just don't know if now is the right time.

2) Non-Westeros Westeros? I ran a one-shot of A Song of Ice and Fire RPG set in a minor house in Dorne. Everyone was a member of the household, and most of them were siblings. It was awesome. The one problem is that nobody at the table, myself included, really wanted to run ASIoF again. It's not a bad system, it's just kinda crunchy in ways that our group doesn't use to best advantage. So I've been pondering Houses of the Blooded to keep that Westeros feel, but maybe transferring it out of Westeros altogether. I don't need the Iron Throne and all the freaking backstory to have highly political noble family politics, after all. I'm having issues slogging through Houses of the Blooded to get to the system, though. Not that the writing isn't fun, but it's not easily referenced. Matt suggested Fate, and although I'm not sure Fate is entirely where I want to go, it's not a bad idea.

3) Shadowrun. I wrote and edited stuff for 3rd ed Shadowrun back in the day and co-designed the magic system for 4th in the core book. Then life took over and I stopped having time to work on the line, then the thing with Catalyst happened and I dropped off working on SR stuff altogether. I really do love the world and the setting. It's a ton of fun to play with. But 3rd edition is so damn clunky, and 4th past the main book is really no better, and 5th takes what streamlining there was and exchanges it for 2nd ed wahoo grognard-ism. Also, 5th hurts me in a lot of ways, and I can't cope with it, so 5th is out. 4th is even out past the main book, and it really needs more than one book. That leaves 3rd... and 3rd is SO DAMN CLUNKY, and I game with a group that is largely all about rules light , narrative games (with a couple of notable exceptions). I honestly don't know how well they'll handle Shadowrun in practice, although the setting is something they're all excited about. I could port it to some other system (there's a lot of those out there), but one of the problems I have with doing that is that a core bit of SR is that there are effectively parallel experience tracks -- karma points, reputation (not always documented), and money. Gear is a BIG DEAL in SR, and if you remove it, you effectively gut a third or so of the game. It's like playing Firefly without economic stuff -- you can do it, but if the money is why you fly and how you keep to the sky, as in the show, then taking it out just kills story motivation. Keeping it in, though, means keeping all the fiddly bits associated with them -- different guns, or decks, or armor have to do different things. Different lifestyles have to do different things. Different clothing has to do different things. And I haven't figured out how to dial down the complexity and keep that yet. But I've had four different people, at least, ask to play it, and I'd really kinda like to run a game of it. I'm just not sure how.

So, thoughts?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 in review

So overall this has been a pretty good year for me and mine.

  • The tree that fell on our house last winter was removed and the roof repaired (and insulated!), and we in effect got a new bedroom out of it, which was awesome. 
  • The boys both entered high school and found stuff they like to do, particularly drama club and wood shop. 
  • Si stopped chewing everything.
  • My family is in pretty good health.
  • I finished the fall semester of GAAAH (three full grad classes, man, plus teaching) with 3 As, a conference acceptance, and a prospective novel. 
  • Our company got Tragedy in Five Acts out and in good shape, and it got listed by io9 as one of the best storygames
  • My computer died, but I LOVE my Macbook Air, so that's okay.
  • I get to teach classes I really wanted through the next summer, and my co-teachers and I got a grant for the spring. :)
There were some less awesome things, but really, we lived through all of them and nothing that bad happened. 

I'm really very happy with the year that passed, though some of my friends had a much harder time of it. Here's hoping that 2014 is a better round for everyone.