Sunday, October 19, 2014

Humans & Households

The new The Gamers miniseries: Humans & Households. Episode one is the set up and it's all fun and games, but episode two is where the real mayhem starts. I will never look at mailboxes the same way again.
If you want to support them, you can buy the series here for 10$ or more.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cook Scorpion: Banana Rolls


Banana Rolls - I came across the recipe here and I had time and almost all the ingredients, so I made them. The recipe is vegan, my rolls certainly are not, I replaced the almond milk with cow's milk and used normal butter. I also didn't have walnuts, but I did have chocolate sprinkles and I don't think you can go wrong with those.

The rolls are best served warm and if you can't do that, at least nuke them in the microwave for a bit. I brought them to my Shadowrun session and almost none of us could eat more than one - and usually roleplayers devour enormous amounts of food, so be warned.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Victorian Fashion

For anyone interested in fashion, this video is a gem. You don't just get a close look at the dresses, it also allows you to see what was worn underneath and how it all combined.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lexapros and Cons

"In the past year, I masturbated exactly 468 times." Chuck knows this for the same reason he has to make absolutely sure the stove is turned off by checking it multiple times a day or why he has to wash his hand when he touched...pretty much anything. He has OCD. He's also seventeen years old and not exactly popular at this high school - together with the OCD, that will make impressing the new girl at school, Amy, a lot harder.

If you're put off by that first sentence, than Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo probably is not for you. But come on, teenagers think about sex all the time and no sugarcoating is going to change that. Chuck is a very believable teenager, from his crush on Amy to his problems with navigating school and life in general. His OCD is not just a gimmick, it's not played for cheap laughs and it's not magically cured by the end of the book. I don't have OCD, so I cannot judge reliably, but I thought that the book did a good job of describing what life with OCD is like.

I laughed out at the first sentence and the dry humour of the book was very much my thing. I thought that the ending was a bit too perfect all around, but on the other hand - why not. It wasn't too perfect to become unbelievable and it makes a nice change from a trend in YA literature where nothing is ever okay.

It's an easy read, with short chapters, and I think a good choice for a reading project. Parents mind balk at the language, but I don't think teenagers will mind.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Deadlands: Drywater Creek

Cast of Characters:
Alan Trehorn: Half-Apsalooke/Crow scout who might be taken for a greenhorn, but at your own risk.
Etienne DuMont: Texas Ranger. He used to be dead, but he got better.
Kenneth Lake: Professional poker player and reluctant participant in these events.
Dr. Frances Gray: Doctor and a strong believer in science and natural explanations.
Sister Elisabeth: A nun of maybe questionable past, but unquestionable faith.
Eliah Davis: Black cowboy who has seen some weird shit in his life. He spins this tale for you, somewhere at a camp fire on the prairie.
last time

We travelled to Drywater Creek, Eitenne had been ordered to go there. With no good knowledge of the land and no maps, that proved more difficult than we had thought. But we kept in what we thought was the right direction and finally we found someone who knew the place. That's a story worth telling, whom we found and how.

A dog kept barking at us and running around until we followed it and came to a crevice. A boy had fallen into it and we pulled him out. The dog was nowhere to be seen once we had gotten the boy out - he told us that it had died a couple of years earlier. Yeah, well, I've seen stranger things than a good dog keeping its eye out for his master even when its dead. We took the boy to his parents, he had broken his leg and couldn't walk. They were friendly enough, we got a good meal and a night in their home and directions to Drywater Creek.

In the morning, Elisabeth got it into her head to heal the boy. I can't really blame her for that, a broken leg is no small thing for a family who has to take care of a farm. It would have been better if she hadn't done it in secret, without telling the parents. The next thing they know, their boy is running around the house, all healed up. And they thought witchcraft, of course. Asked us to leave and backed up the asking with a shotgun.

So we were on our way, came to Drywater Creek not long after that. The first thing we saw was the dead body hung to rot on a tree, with a sign round his neck: murderer. The sheriff told Etienne the story: the guy had been making trouble for a while. He didn't live in town, he was part of a local gang of scum who are camping out somewhere. One day, he got into a fight and killed someone. The townspeople arrested him, waited for the judge and then hanged him. Since then, there has been a murder every night. People are scared and the sheriff is too much of a paper pusher to do something about it. He was glad to accept our help and we decided to stake out main street, with Elisabeth as a target for the murderer. Since no-one else is going outside at night for fear of being murdered, she should make a nice decoy.

The people here are not overly found of anyone who isn't white. They are not that bothered by me, but Alan gets treated like shit. If Etienne hadn't thrown his weight around, he wouldn't even have gotten a room at the saloon. Doesn't make me all that eager to help them out, truth be told.


Yes, Lassie wanted to tell us little Timmy has fallen into the well.

And the characters were so pissed at Elisabeth for healing him. Somehow we always end up in trouble when she does that. Okay, not always. But try travelling around a country where the people are at the same time religious and superstitious with someone who works miracles left and right and whose people skills suck. She has a knack of poleaxeing people and only very few of them enjoy being preached at at the drop of a hat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Secret World Chronicle

The world is used to metahumans. They have been around since World War II and, employed by ECHO (an organisation run by Nikola Tesla's grand nephew), take care of the world, fighting crime. But when the Thule Society resurfaces and brings along giant war machines, it seems ECHO and the metas have met their match.

I downloaded the Secret World Chronicle by Mercedes Lackey as part of a Humble Bundle and I had no idea what to expect. The first few pages in, I had a gigantic Avengers deja vu - it is set in a world of super heroes and there are some similarities. But in the end, the series finds its own feet and it stands quite well on them. I am a sucker for Nazi villains and the series hit just the right pulpy tone to make it work. There are a LOT of characters and the book shifts in its point of views from chapter to chapter, that may take some getting used to. But the characters leave an impression and quickly come alive.

If you like superheroes, then do give the Secret World Chronicle a try. It's a fast, fun ride and I loved the various superpowers the authors came up with. The most charming is Doctor Doom, who turns everything and everyone in his vicinity into part of a 1940s hard boiled novel. I really want to find a way to steal this for one of my roleplaying games. The series is based on a pocast, by the way, and you can listen to that here

There is just one thing: the German in the book is simply awful. There is a typo or grammatical error in pretty much every sentence (even when it's only two or three words...) and sometimes it's just plain wrong. My absolute favourite made me laugh aloud on the subway. One of the Nazi troopers has three black gangers in his sight and shouts: Würfel, schwarze Hunde. And yes, Würfel does mean die. But as in six-sided cubes or wood or plastic, not as in stop living. That was completely hilarious and an excellent example of why it's better to ask a native speaker, use a good dictionary or at least translate your sentences back if you must use online translators.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shadowrun Rat's Nest: Rain Check

Instead of GMing Shadowrun, I'm sitting in bed, smelling like an eucalyptus tree and drinking copious amounts of tea in the hope that my cold doesn't turn into something worse. I was lookong forward to today's session. The players have made it out of the NAN and are planning on visiting an amusement park. Well, the two youngest characters want it and the others roll their eyes and go along.

If you happen to be a player in this campaign, I'd rather you not read on, please.

How often do you get the chance for an amusement park setting in Shadowrun? This is a gift. The players are already paranoid about all the horrible things that can happen and I do my best to keep them that way, casually dropping hints about how I've been reading up on accidents in amusement parks or how roller coasters are built. I actually did learn a lot of stuff about amusement park rides - roleplaying has always taught me the most abstruse things. My players have their money on real ghosts in the haunted house, a mascot running amok or a roller coaster coming off the tracks.

I had been fancying the haunted house and I might do it. I have a handful of minor stuff that can/will go wrong and one very big thing. But at first, I will sit back and wait to see if the characters manage to get themselves into trouble. So far, they have been very good at this. This is something I've come to rely on as a GM - most of the time, your players will do something, either really stupid or really inspired, and you just need to run with it.

One thing I am going to do for sure is the fortune teller. Who will take one look at a character's hand, go white as a sheet and give a cliché reading about a dark, handsome stranger and all that. And then she will close up her booth in a hurry and will be seen powerwalking towards the park's entrance not much later. I'm sure that this will ramp up player paranoia no end.