Friday, October 30, 2015


My dear readers, I am greatly happy to be able to post again. I was paddling my little boat along when suddenly a great wave of Grad School and Work came along and swamped me, and I've been bailing furiously ever since. I've just now gotten my head above water again. The final effort was a recitation from Cicero's First Catalinian Oration, lines 4-17, for my Latin 201 class yesterday. I am happy to say that I have survived it and now in some circles can be considered a real student of Latin. Apparently this is a traditional torture inflicted on Latin students once they get far enough in their studies. You can see you tube videos of it if you look. One person in my class even wore a toga-ish garment. I was not that dedicated.

Of course, naturally once one finishes a great work, one gets sick. I have no voice today, so my talking has been curtailed and instead I am using my online voice to write a post! I hope to actually write a couple of posts today -- I'm dreadfully behind on my DFA playtest reports and actual play summaries, and I've got another session on Monday. I've also got a meeting on Monday with my adviser to turn over an outline of my dissertation, and I've got editing and reading and everything else to do. Tonight we're having some friends over for snacks and such, and we're watching Halloween, as it's up in the rotation and I've never seen it -- something that seems wrong given my interest in gothic and horror-y stuff.

In other news, we have a Kickstarter going and I'm developing this book. I'm really excited about how it's coming together, and it looks like we're going to fund if all continues its proper trajectory. I've got to get some more work off my plate this week/weekend so I can start the redlines on the drafts next week, but I should be able to do that. In the meantime, I'll try to get back to a more regular posting schedule so that I can subject you to dissertation prep and game stuff and all that goodness once more. Hugs to all of you, dear readers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rising Waters DFA Playtest: Character Conversion!

Mock-up cover, courtesy Evil Hat Productions
Woo hoo! So my group and I were fortunate enough to get into the Dresden Files Accelerated Beta Playtest, which has been a complete blast. Rather than making characters from scratch, we converted the characters from our ongoing game into DFA characters last session.  Before I go into what we ended doing this evening, though, I want to talk a bit about the playtest and the effects the change in system have had.

So, to no one's surprise, DFA is based on FAE (Fate Accelerated Edition). For those who've played the Dresden Files RPG, you'll know that it's FATE plus some clunkier bits as it tries to encompass the magic and setting and variety of critter abilities within one game. I love the game, don't get me wrong, but it's definitely not the most streamlined system in existence. The magic system in particular was far more complicated in practice than was convenient, and using it always slowed the game down for us -- particularly annoying when you're playing a Dresden Files game, wherein we had two wizards as a matter of course (well, one was a focused practitioner, but whatever).

Character Conversion

The conversion of the characters was really rather simple. Character types are called "mantles," and those are the sorts of things one expects in Dresden -- vampires, werewolves, magic users, mortals, etc. The playtest provided several mantles to choose from, enough that we were able to make the characters over again with a minimum of conceptual effort. No one really had to change what they were to make it fit, or even build a new mantle. Given that I've got:

  • Uno, a changeling summer knight/squire, 
  • Zeke, a lawman hosting an angel's presence (like a reverse Denariian), 
  • Eldi, a dewdrop fairy wildfae, 
  • Adia, a ghost-talking human who's good at sneaking and knows people, 
  • Dylan, a kinetomancer, and 
  • Victor, a White Council troubleshooter... 
I think that says a lot about the flexibility of the character types. One playtest change is that our partial practitioner now has effectively no difference game-wise from our White Council wizard except for the "element" of his magic, which really makes sense if you're not looking at it from a White Council perspective specifically. We could have cobbled together a partial practitioner mantle (the playtest didn't include one), but the player decided he'd rather just work with the full template given the changes.

I kept experience levels to beginning characters, and although there were a couple of bells and whistles that didn't transfer over, the flexibility of the stats/approaches instead of skills and the way stunts have been redefined and clarified made it a much simpler operation to tweak things to bring them in line with what the characters had been known to do. The approaches allow more flexibility in what characters are good or bad at in a given situation in addition to providing some sense of continuity in terms of character development and style. Also, the smaller number of aspects actually let people get rid of some that weren't working, making the lists more indicative of the characters overall. Stunts were well received, especially the formula given for creating custom stunts, which three of my players took advantage of with no issue. Some of the players, particularly Eldi's player, were concerned that by taking the stunts for Diminutive Size and Wings in addition to the Glamour core stunt of Wildfae she wouldn't be able to sufficiently contribute. That was before, however, we understood the role of ritual magic. I'll come back to this.

One notable result: One of my players is... well, not quite system averse, but he has a hard time internalizing rules. Great with RP and remembering story and stuff, bad with having his character actually do stuff and knowing what he can do and how things work. We have gone so far as to just make characters for him in previous games, just to cut down on the overhead and his frustration. By the end of DFA character generation, he answered a rules question for another player before I could! And that's with only one copy of FAE at the table (that wasn't open) and someone else looking at the binder with the playtest document! This has never, ever happened before to my knowledge. FAN_FREAKING-TASTIC!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boo rain-y-ness!

Today was a day full of cold and rain. I got halfway through the day, huddled under a blanket with long sleeves and pants and socks on and my hands freezing while I typed before I finally gave in and suggested we should turn the heater on. The high for today was 48 degrees Farenheit or so, which means cold. It's much more pleasant now that the heater is on, really. That said, it's OCTOBER THIRD, people. What the heck is up with that? The rest of the week should be warmer, and I'm glad of it, because I really don't need to be running the heater all winter starting now. That's crazypants.

I've been working on editing today, and I've almost gotten through a chunk of the book I'm working on, which is lovely to contemplate. I've also almost got the Totoro baby romper completed -- just two more snaps to sew on. And here it is! All done and laid out and ready to be sent to its new home. It is, admittedly, too big for said little girl, but it means she'll be warm this year for Halloween (and other times) and if there's one thing to be said about babies, they grow into things quickly.

Its intended recipient is a lovely little girl named Alice. For her, I put a flower on Totoro's head along with a leaf, because it just seemed right. Totoro is a bit bemused, however. And possibly slightly stoned. Something's definitely going on with those eyes, I'm just saying.

And then there are mittens! That's not Totoro bone sticking out the end, it's a cord so that the mittens don't get lost, like you do with small kids and mittens to prevent them from getting lost. So it's really not gruesome, I promise. Once there's a kiddo inside the Totoro romper, no one will even notice.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Desire to knit rising...

So I am currently anxious, because I have far too much going on in my life that have deadlines over the next few weeks. It's all good and workable, but it's all got to be done, and that's okay. But here's the thing -- stress makes me stim. (Stimming, for those that don't know, is a desire for tactile sensory input and activity that focuses on that sort of input. It's a neurological autism sort of thing.) Over the years, I've sublimated a lot of my stimming behaviors into things that can "pass" -- tapping my fingers together in time to music, running my hands through my hair, etc.. My husband always notices when I'm stimming, though, even when I haven't noticed it myself. Some people are just observant like that.

Now, though, in the past few years I've hit on like the best one ever -- KNITTING. I mean, could be crocheting, whatever, but for me it's knitting. The yarn, the motion, the fingers running over wood (I prefer wood to metal), the stroking the material and feeling the bumps and smooth parts and the fuzzy/silky/whatever aspect of the fabric... it's perfect.

The downside to this, though, is that the more anxious I am, the more I want to stim/knit, which gets in the way of writing and getting stuff done, for while I can read/watch TV and such while knitting, I can't write. (Writing also has a sensory component, but usually I'm not focused on it and it's neither as intense nor as varied as knitting.) I am currently making the second of a pair of socks (the first that are just for me!) and I've got yarn that needs using and I've got another pair of socks I promised for a friend, and and and and... there's a lot going on. But not enough time. And so I take my knitting with me and use it at school when I can and when I'm hanging out with the family and so forth. Tonight I'm going to the orchestra to listen to Mahler's 3rd. I'm going to knit my stockinette-stitch plain self-striping sock and I'm going to let the sound wash over me and focus on the tactile sensory stuff and just get my fill of it. And maybe then, I can get some more work done.