Monday, May 30, 2011

Level Up

As you stand beyond the mangled corpses of those who stood in your way, a strange, yet pleasant feeling washes over you. Congratulations, d20 Dad, you've attained 2nd Level!

This is my final blog post from Blogger. The recent outage prompted me to try WordPress. Unfortunately for Blogger, making the move to WordPress is akin to leveling up. I like what I've seen so far, and I have more options and control of my content. You can find my new blog at this link. Thank you, Blogger, for getting me started in my blogging, but I'm moving on now. It's not me, it's you.

On a related note, if anyone has any tips for migrating my Blogger posts to my Wordpress blog, it would be awesome if you left a comment on my new blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Welcome Back to the Stage of History

Welcome back. Your absence has been noted and will be reflected as a loss of XP. I hope you will strongly reconsider the next time you need to miss game. I would hate for your resulting lack of XP to cause a TPK...

So yeah, I'm back to my blog after a several-week hiatus. During that time, my wife went back to work, we had our corporate inspection at my job, we moved, and we traded in our van for another car. Hopefully, you can see why my blog has been neglected for a while.

To catch everyone up on all the details, my wife returned to her job after over nine months of being a SAHM. The extra money will be good, and we worked out a great deal with her sister to watch Kennedy on days we both work. Looking ahead, though, I will have to get health insurance for the two of them, because we will make too much money for state insurance help. Yay America!

We moved a couple of weeks ago to a house nextdoor. More rooms, even though each one is slightly smaller. My wife is happy because the computer is finally our of the living room. Oh, and the rent is cheaper too.

And finally, we traded in our Chevy Venture van for a buick lesabre. Took 50 dollars to fill up, which is beter than the 80 it took to fill the van.

That should just about take care of the updates, next post should see a return to regular gaming/parenting blogs.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Enough is Enough (d20 Modern)


This country cannot continue on its current path.  The corporatocracy no longer hides behind the politicians who had their pockets padded in exchange for favorable votes on tax cuts, immigration, and the like.  By appeasing the desires of Big Business, the United States of America has squashed not only the American Dream, but the American Mediocrity.  The gap between rich and poor is as far as East is from West.  There is virtually no middle class anymore.  If you can scrape together more than $25,000 a year, you're doing well for yourself in today's economy.

Unfortunately, doing well isn't cutting it anymore.  I've watched my unemployed friends search for the last five years without even being able to land a job at WalMart or McDonald's.  I've watched my employed friends experience wage freezes, or even lose their jobs.  If you've been unemployed for more than a month, nobody will hire you.  I suppose I should be thankful to even have a job, although I'm working more hours for less pay.

Texas had the right idea when they seceded, and I don't care who reads this.  I wish Kentucky could join the SSA.  I'd emigrate to an SSA state, but it's not that easy to just pack up an entire family and leave the USA anymore.  We would probably get pulled over before we even left the county.  And that is even assuming we could afford the gas to make it to Arkansas.

I guess what I'm saying is that the government has to know that the people are fed up, and imprisoning protesters will not stop us, the dissidents.  I don't care that protests are illegal, I am going to the courthouse lawn on September 11 to protest the current state of the Union, and I won't be alone.  The fifteenth anniversary to the so-called "terrorist attacks" will serve as a perfect stage for our voices to be heard.  Join me at the courthouse at 8:46 AM if you have had enough with the government oppression!

If you don't see me again, I want my wife and children to know that I love them very much, and wasn't afraid to stand up to the bullies and fight for what's right.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Yesterday you found out that your wife was pregnant with your second child, and you experienced +5CHA for 24 hours afterward. Today, you found out that the first test had produced a false positive, and as such, you take a -5CHA penalty for the duration of the week. You may make a Will save (dc 20) to resist the penalty for one day.

So yeah, I'm sure many of you saw how excited my wife and I both were yesterday when her test came back positive. Allow me to provide some perspective as to why this was to have been such an amazing outcome. My wife unfortunately suffers from some potentially genetic disorders in relation to her reproductive system. The current plan involves a hysterectomy (either partial or full) after we have our second child. This will hopefully avoid some of the problems that other women in her family have had. The problem is, the longer it takes, the less likely it will be for her to get pregnant.

My job adds to the difficulty rating by keeping my away from my wife for at least forty-five hours each week. Much of the time I am home is spent watching Kennedy so my wife can either get housework done more easily, or get some sleep. Between both of our full time jobs, there is nary a time when we both have the energy, AND Kennedy is asleep. Its like playing Tetris and you only get one "I" block every 50 pieces.

After today's revelation, I reined in my extroverted demeanor in favor of my introverted nature. My more perceptive coworkers probably picked up on it if they were paying attention. Not that work tonight helped my mood at all. I've made a conscious effort to keep details of my day-to-day work events away from my blog, so suffice it to say, it was a bad night and most everyone was irritable. But, since there is a positive for every negative, I got a head start on some of my extra duties for the month, and had a delicious chocolate banana shake. I thought I was in trouble when the Frappes came out, but this new shake has me hooked and itching for another fix.

I'll end this one with a question to you, the reader. Have you experienced complications in getting pregnant, and if so, how did you overcome or deal with your situation?

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Time is a precious commodity for any adventurer, particularly one with bardic persuasions.  Your family and work responsibilities come first, and as such your writing has fallen to the wayside.  You can still manage to put together at least one blog per week, but it seems to be on a downward spiral.  Each day, make a Will save (DC 20) in order to make time to write.  If you fail the saving roll, you cannot try again for 24 hours.

As the DM said, I haven't been able to write as much lately, but I'd like to think that just means the quality of posts has increased.  Whether that is true or not isn't for me to decide.

I mentioned in the last post that character creation for my d20 Modern game was a bit unorthodox.  So everyone is up to speed, in the game, each PC is playing a version of himself in 2016.  Instead of using generic values or rolling, we all inserted the values that we thought were appropriate.  Each person went in turn going down the list of CHA, STR, and so on, and we all weighed in with our thoughts.  We gave a particularly intelligent member of our group a 15 in INT but an 8 in WIS.  Another PC who is known for injury and illness, got an 8 in CON but had high INT and CHA.  After everyone had taken their turn in this manner, we used the distributed point system in the rulebook to find out how many points would have been spent to get each PC to their established attribute levels.

Most of the PC's were within a few points of each other, with the injury-prone PC being lowest.  The highest was the oldest of the group who everyone agreed is above average in pretty much every category.  To make up for his exceptional overall abilities, he is a bit of a sociopath, and that will play into the campaign in some way.  The scheduling issue remains a problem, but that at least gives me time to plan a bit more.  Most of the PC's have put some thought into their backstory of what has happened between now and that point in the future, and I have a pretty firm grasp on the national and global political climate.  I still need to work on local scenes to have a good starting point for everyone.  I'm excited to run my first game and hope it all goes well.

Next time I'll have more pics and maybe a video or two of my girl.  She's almost walking!

May the Crits be with you

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Face When...

You arrive at work today and check your messages to find that your boss has indirectly called you out to the rest of the management team.  The message implies that you don't work hard enough and are too incompetent to follow directions.  Upon reading the message, you are dazed (save ends).  After saving, you are angered and take a -5 penalty to all CHA checks for the remainder of the night.

All my rage!  I don't guess I should be surprised, though.  I should have known by now not to trust anyone (at work) with even the most petty comments.  Our store is competing with another store under the same ownership, so the competition should be pretty intense.  I made a comment to a friend who works at that store, that I thought his store would win.  That comment made its way back to my store and the GM, after which she made the implication that I just needed to work harder.  This was the final straw.

Tomorrow before work, my supervisor is meeting with me and the GM.  With any luck, the situation will be resolved.  If I need to transfer to a different store, then so be it.  I'm tired of being the one to actually enforce policies, then get chastised for enforcing them!

My PS3 has made such an outstanding impression that I see no need to keep my 360.  The one thing the 360 does better (games), is the one thing I don't have time for.  Netflix on PS3 is better, the internet on PS3 is better, and I don't have to pay a yearly fee to use either of those.  Yesterday I used it to play one of my YouTube videos for some friends without having to crowd around a computer monitor.  I also used it to get "Like a Boss" stuck in my wife's head.  Thanks PS3!

Kennedy can't stop getting sick.  She had tubes put in and now she has bronchitis.  I hope she doesn't end up as sick as I was as a child.  If so, we're in for some difficult years.  On a positive note, the doctor said her ears are looking great, and her speech has improved dramatically since the tubes!

Oh, and Nigel still hasn't had his final night.  We ended up doing some prep work for my d20 Modern campaign, which I'll write about next time.  We took a pretty unorthodox method of character generation, but then, this is going to be a pretty unorthodox campaign.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nigel's (truly) Final Night

In a few short hours you will play your Lasombra for the final time.  Scheduling conflicts have restricted your ability to attend game nights, and tonight will be your final night in attendance thanks to being on vacation.  You know that Nigel will die tonight; your Storyteller has already told you this.  However, you may still be able to make a difference for those who will remain in the campaign long after Nigel is gone.  With trepidation, you arrive at game night.  What do you do?

With no uncertainty, tonight will truly be Nigel's final night.  The Storyteller has something planned for his demise, and hopefully it will be good.  Nigel's sire is another PC in the campaign so his death is sure to affect his plans, as well as the plans of the pack.  There will still be six PC's after I'm done, so its not like they will be hurting for people.  Perhaps the group is getting large enough that it could be split to two groups, one of which could game on a day I could work with?

I've currently thrown my name out to the Quilt City Ogres as interested in an upcoming D&D 3.5 campaign on Tuesday nights.  The setting is described as "Forgotten Realms-ish."  Should be a refreshing experience playing with a completely new playgroup, assuming I do play.

Kennedy had a 102-degree fever today, which is the highest she's had yet.  She has another ear infection, and was prescribed yet another antibiotic.  Maybe soon the infections will finally stop and this mess will all be over.

I uploaded some new videos to my YouTube page.  Check them out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The minutes tick by slowly as you finish off your last shift before your vacation.  Five minutes, three minutes, one minute.  You are now officially on vacation!  You gain a +5 bonus to CHA for the next seven days.  Now, what do you do?

Vacation time!  Yesterday was a pretty lazy day.  I got on Netflix and nearly watched the whole first season of LOST.  Today was my second day of vacation, and we took Kennedy to her Aunt Liz's house to stay while we took an afternoon to ourselves.  We went to El Chico's in Paducah (Karsey hated it) and we checked out Hobby Lobby.  She got a decoration set for making a fantasy-castle style cake with towers and parapets and such.  This cake will require a moat made of JELLO with some Goldfish piranhas.  It's going to be awesome!

After Paducah, we went back to get Kennedy.  The original plan was to get her and head home, but we stayed for a while.  Karsey and Liz went to get food and we ate.  I played around a bit with her Kindle reader and read a bit of Les Miserables on it.  The screen on the Kindle is amazing and I can perhaps see one in my future.  My only qualm is the fact that you don't actually purchase books on a Kindle, you license them.  It would be a terrible business move, but they could theoretically remove books after they had been purchased.

On a side note, to everyone talking about not buying gas on March 10, allow me to explain a few things.  We rely on gas.  If we agree to boycott gas for one day, then the days before and after will just get all the business that would have gone on the 10th.  Boycotting only hurts the local employees, not that national chain or the executives.

More vacation tomorrow!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nigel's Final Night / rpgKids

With waning vigor, you fight the oncoming sleep.  You only get to game a few hours a week as is, sleeping through the session is not an option.  Every ten minutes you must make a will save or you will fall asleep.  Make your first save now.  Really?  A one?  You fall asleep in the middle of the floor until game night is over.  Attempts to wake you are made at a -5 penalty.  Perhaps you should rethink your Saturday nights.

And rethink them I did.  The last game session I attended involved roughly thirty minutes of consciousness and the rest of the time I was out.  Getting up most days between six and seven to play with Kennedy, then working 2-10, then driving back forty minutes then gaming until two or three just doesn't work anymore.  And even staying until three still means leaving early most nights.  There's another local group starting up a Tuesday night Pathfinder game that I may try playing in.

Kennedy turned eight months on Wednesday, and she will be walking within a month or so.  She is pulling herself up on her bouncy seat and standing, so it's only a matter of time.  She's already crawling all over the place and gets so angry when she gets to the baby gate.

Fellow blogger Newbie DM is also the author of a game system geared toward kids titled rpgKids.  From the site description
If you’ve never played the game before, well here’s a description in a nutshell:  A very simple RPG consisting of opposed die rolls using a d12, while encouraging kids to think creatively, perform simple arithmetic, and have fun!
The 24-page PDF is a steal at three dollars at regular price.  In celebration of GM's Day, it can be had for $2.24 at RPG Now.  This is a great product for anyone interested in sharing their passion for tabletop RPGs with their children.  I look forward to eventually trying it out with Kennedy and hopefully another child in the near future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2016 d20 Modern Campaign Primer (3/3)

Part 1
Part 2

On that day, an SSA jet was shot down, resulting in fifty-one casualties aboard the plane, and twelve casualties on the ground when it crashed into an apartment complex.  The US was fingered for the attack, but claimed they had no jets in the sector at the time.  The SSA stated that Flight Voice Recorders salvaged from the wreckage incriminated the US.  Audio clips released to the media contained a recording of the pilot speaking to someone over his headset.  The pilot refused to land the plane, as commanded by the other pilot.  After several minutes of arguing, an explosion is heard.  There were a few tense seconds of silence, followed by the captain’s stoic announcement to the passengers that the plane had been attacked by a US jet, and that their chances of survival were slim.  

The audio from the crash served as a catalyst for many people in the US who had been contemplating defection.  Unofficial estimates place the total number of defections between 800,000 and 1,000,000.  The bulk came from along the SSA border, but it is believed that there were defectors from all of the states.

Fearing the loss of additional citizens (and tax revenue), the US government officially cut all ties to the SSA and “enthusiastically advised” their allies to do the same.  To their surprise, though, most nations opted to support the SSA, lauding their determination, resilience, and transparency.

The US was not pleased.  They responded to the global rejection by closing all borders with the SSA, Republic of California, Canada, and Mexico.  Troops that had been stationed overseas in the Middle East were brought home to guard the borders.  US relations with countries who support the SSA are strained, but in tact.  

Since the SSA jet incident, there have been no serious conflicts.  The atmosphere is still quite tense, and there are still protests against the US government.  This despite the new version of the Bill of Rights, which removes the freedoms of Free Speech, Press, and Assembly.  Freedom of Religion still exists, but can no longer be used to exempt anyone from laws or other regulations.  

The revolutions in the Middle East in 2011 and Africa and South America in 2014 helped to encourage the states that would eventually form the SSA.  In a similar manner, the Second American Revolution inspired action in even more countries.  The United Kingdom split into its individual countries of London, Wales, and Scotland.  Ireland and Northern Ireland have now united.  

Recently, a movement has been gaining traction pushing for world-unification via a one-world government.  The European Union and African Union have already begun talks with each other and the Middle East.  Asian nations have begun talks of unification, noticeably lacking North Korea.  Australia and Oceania are expected to join the Asian Union if it forms.

The Americas are largely anti-unification.  Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has forged strategic alliances with most of South America, creating what foreign-policy experts have dubbed the “South American Pseudo-Union.”  The US has drawn international criticism and comparisons to North Korea and Nazi Germany.

End Backstory

Campaign begins on September 12, 2016 just after the fifteen-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  Justin and Vincent were jailed yesterday for anti-government speech and resisting arrest.  Vincent was also charged with assaulting an officer.  Justin was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail, and Vincent was sentenced to three years in prison.  He will be transferred to the Kentucky State Penitentiary in ten days.

Everyone else, give me ideas of what you’ve been doing between present day and 2016.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2016 d20 Modern Campaign Primer (2/3)

(Continued from Part 1)

Riots broke out across the nation, most concentrated in the south.  Citizens of Texas began clamoring for secession from the Union, and Oklahoma follwed suit.  In Washington, D.C., the Congressmen from the two states were refused secession rights, but they would not be defeated so easily.  

The state legislators crafted a bill that would allow Texas to secede from the Union.  The bill passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor.  On April 15, 2014, Texas became a sovereign nation, and sparked what would eventually be called the “Second American Revolution.”

Following Texas’s example, other states began considering secession.  California was next, passing a bill of secession on April 29, 2014.  Washington and Oregon joined California on June 2, and the Republic of California was formed by the three former states.  Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana joined with Texas on July 4, to create the Separatist States of America.  September 22 marked the departure of four states from the Union.  Alaska and Maine became Canadian provinces, and Arizona and New Mexico became part of Mexico.  

During this tumultuous period, citizens in Hawaii were also planning to express their discontent.  Dissenters from the military base at Pearl Harbor organized with civilian protesters to reinstate the Hawaiian monarchy.  The military dissenters infiltrated the naval and air force bases and ensured that there would be no military repercussions for their treason.  With a civilian and military effort unprecedented in US history, Hawaiians staged an effective coup against the national government.  On December 7, Hawaii officially declared its independence and allowed all American prisoners to return to the US.  

The Republic of California is a peaceful nation.  It trades with the US and other nations, and citizens of both nations are free to come and go as they please.  Marijuana possession and use is legal and taxed, and authorized vendors are plentiful.  A black market for the herb still exists, but prosecutions and jail sentences are much less severe.  

The Separatist States of America, however, is a guarded and isolationist nation.  US police officers and government officials may be shot or arrested on sight after they have crossed the border.  Warnings are posted advising US citizens to proceed with caution.  Checkpoints exist at each major highway border crossing.  US citizens may enter solely on the condition that they surrender all US identification, disavow their US citizenship, and register as SSA citizens.  

The US does not trade with the SSA, and still holds claim to the airspace above the nation.  As a result, there is no private or commercial air travel over the SSA without a special joint license granted by the FAA and the FBI.  The license requires rigorous written and flying exams, and an extensive FBI background check.

The US does allow AT&T to operate in the SSA, though few customers choose their services.  AT&T is seen as emblematic of the problems with the US.  

International trade is difficult for the SSA, with restricted airspace and limited seaports on the Gulf of Mexico.  Trade by air can come by way of Mexico, but with heavy tariffs encouraged by the US.  Only large corporations can afford to fly goods in through Mexico.  As a result, the SSA largely relies on its own resources to provide for its citizens.  

In 2015, SSA businesses and citizens began demanding access to air travel and transport.  Representatives of the SSA met with US lawmakers in St. Louis in an attempt to make an agreement to use the airspace.  The US agreed to talks, but proposed a fifty percent tariff rate on goods flown in through US airspace.  The US representatives refused to lower the proposed rate, and the talks fell through.  As a result, the SSA vowed to reclaim their airspace with or without US consent.

Soon, the SSA had given several airports the green light to reopen and resume flight services.  Pilots and flight controllers were given explicit orders to refuse demands made by anyone claiming US authority while in SSA airspace.  This led to many tense moments between SSA pilots and USAF fighters.  The skies remained relatively calm until October 4, 2015.


Friday, February 25, 2011

2016 d20 Modern Campaign Primer (1/3)

On December 21, 2012, Congress revoked the two-term limit for the office of President, and made it a position that could only be vacated by resignation, death, or by a supermajority vote in both houses of Congress.  These changes were passed in closed sessions, and weren’t widely known by the public until months later when a private memo from the Secret Service was intercepted and leaked.

Shortly thereafter, social media sites exploded with links and tweets, putting #iranelection, #jan25, and #sudan to shame.  In an unprecedented move, the government allowed AT&T to buy majority shares in all of its US rivals in both the mobile phone and Internet markets.  AT&T then proceeded to merge all of the competitors into the AT&T brand.  In return for this allowance, AT&T agreed to authorize government agencies to censor or block certain sites.

Soon, the majority of online dissidents were silenced.

In June 2013, many sites were issued Cease and Desist warnings regarding anti-government posts and topics.  The sites were given a deadline of July 31 to comply with the demands.  Sites that failed to bow to the government’s commands had all access blocked by the government.  Few sites resisted, and the government made good on their word to shut down the ones that did.  Wikipedia, 4chan, Craigslist and similar sites were shut down, as well as file-sharing sites and foreign news agencies.  Sites running forums are allowed, but are populated with government agents monitoring content.

Most sites complied with the demands, and in return were allowed to resume business as usual.  Twitter and Facebook still exist but certain words and hashtags send red flags to the government.  A Twitter user tweeting about government conspiracies could expect a knock on his door in the next 2-3 days.  Initially, Google resisted, but changed course when the government throttled back their bandwidth to pre-56k speeds.

In addition to AT&T’s Internet dominance, their phone network nationwide is equally oppressive.  Government technology allows agents to eavesdrop on any call on the network, and employs thousands of agents solely for this purpose.  Mobile phone web access is restricted to a white-list of approved sites.

Around the same time, Comcast was allowed to purchase its domestic competition in exchange for the government being given complete control of content.  Talk shows and news interviews were no longer allowed to feature guests or opinions critical of the government.  In its place, more reality shows and game shows were created.

On February 9, 2014, a hacker group managed to successfully compromise Comcast’s servers and implant a special program disguised as a Super Bowl advert.  The first ‘commercial’ of Halftime featured a black screen with text being read by a distorted voice.  The three-minute ad recounted how the US had gotten to this place, from the revulsion of the term limit, to the fascistic monopolies of AT&T and Comcast.  The ad revealed that the two companies were planning a merger, which would undoubtedly restrict freedoms even further.  The ad ended by calling for revolutionary action in a revolutionary time.

Before the game had even ended, the creators of the video, as well as the hackers, had been executed.  For the government, though, the damage had already been done.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Puppy Love

You weren't prepared for this.  You knew eventually your daughter would grow up and start liking boys, but you weren't ready this early.  Being caught off-guard, you take a -2 penalty to all dice rolls for the duration of the first day.  The penalty continues each day after, save ends.

Kennedy has recently become very good friends with our friends' son William.  It all started at Taco Bell when he tried to give her the rest of his quesadilla.  I guess she takes after her daddy.  The fastest way to her heart is her stomach!  Too bad these were a little late for valentine's day.  Although, yesterday she was getting smooches from another friend's son.  Shh, we haven't told William yet.  We want to break it to him softly.

I feel the need to re-review the Netflix streaming video service, this time for the PS3.  Since we got the PS3 roughly a week ago, we've watched quite a lot of video, and not once has it paused playback due to "changed bandwidth" or because my internet connection had slowed.  And just before I got the PS3 I called NewWave and had my internet speed reduced to save a bit of money.  I don't believe that my internet connection suddenly got better, which leaves me to conclude that there is a problem with streaming Netflix on Xbox 360.  With the Blu-ray and DVD upscaling, and a superior Netflix experience, the PS3 is quickly becoming the "always-on" console.  The 360 will still be used for gaming, but it will finally be getting a well-deserved break.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Kick-Ass (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)    Slumdog Millionaire [Blu-ray]    Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire [Blu-ray]

On a related note, a local video store has been having a going-out-of-business sale for a week or so, and I finally made it out there to see what they had left.  The game selection was pretty slim, but I managed to snatch the original Phoenix Wright for DS for ten bucks.  I also grabbed Kick Ass, Slumdog Millionaire, and Precious on Blu-ray.  Three Blu-rays and a DS game ran me forty-two dollars.  Thanks to services like Netflix and Redbox, I got a sweet deal, and several people are losing their jobs.  Capitalism at work, folks.

I have today and tomorrow off work.  The first of my two goals is now accomplished (writing a blog).  The other goal is to finish the backstory for my d20 Modern campaign.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blame Angry Birds

You meant to write a blog yesterday, but you played Angry Birds.  You meant to write a blog today, but you played Angry Birds.  Each day going forward, make a Will save.  If you fail, you lose two hours to the game.  If you succeed, you may turn off the game and do something productive.

We recently got our tax return, and I got my wife an iPhone.  Once my iTunes account was linked, I bought Angry Birds.  I meant to blog.  I meant to work on my RP.  I'm blaming Angry Birds for my failure to do these things.  It is a great game though, and the price can't be beaten.  One dollar for a game that will easily be played for twenty hours is a steal.

The iPhone has also been great for Kennedy.  Being able to instantly pull up Elmo videos in a waiting room is a godsend.  Although, anyone using online video for their kids should avoid youtube and hit up some kid-friendly alternatives like Kideos or ZuiTube.  We've had too many instances of opening a Sesame Street or Spongebob video only to have it open with and elaborate string of swearing.

We also got a PS3, mainly for the Blu-Ray Disc capabilities.  Our DVD player was on its last legs and with PS3 I won't need to pay a yearly fee just to use Netflix on a console.  Setup was a breeze and the infamous updates weren't nearly as egregious as they were made out to be.  From opening the box to having a working PSN account took less than forty-five minutes.  Aside from the ridiculously lightweight controllers, I think I will like this console.  I'll probably also eventually get a game for it...

Kennedy is crawling forward now, so we got a baby gate and a new, secure entertainment center.  Nights have been a pain lately, and she is scheduled next week to have tubes put in her ears.  Hopefully that will make her feel better so she will actually sleep.  Should actually be updating more often now that the newness of Angry Birds has dies out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bye Bye to this Teferi Guy

You've been working at this for hours now.  Your eyes are starting to make the screen into a blur.  A seemingly endless stream of cards is being entered into your growing database cataloging your collection of Magic: the Gathering cards.  Roll your Stamina.  If you succeed, you continue to finish the job.  If you fail, you begin to nod off, slowly at first but you will soon go lie down or fall asleep at the desk.

Yes it's true, I've finally decided to sell my Magic: the Gathering collection.  I've played once or twice in the past year and it just seems silly to keep them around when I could make some money from them.  It's not from lack of opportunity, I simply haven't had time.  Having a kid certainly renegotiates your priorities.  Add to that working 40+ hours a week with a forty-minute drive there and back, and my free time limited and prized.

I decided that I will keep two of my favorite decks, just in case the itch strikes amongst my friends and they want to play. They're both five-color decks and rely heavily on Dragon Arch to get multicolor creatures into play.  The decks differ in that one uses these creatures to put the hurt on the opponent, while the other uses them to satisfy the win condition of Coalition Victory.  Using five colors, they are vulnerable during the early game, but they can be particularly nasty in multiplayer if left alone until turn four or five.  With a good opening hand, the beatdown deck can have an Autochthon Wurm in play on turn five.

My mother-in-law was supposed to watch Negligent Mother's daughter today for a little bit.  To refresh, Negligent Mother has been out of her mother's house for one or two months now.  When she dropped off her daughter, her hair and clothes were nasty.  My mother-in-law had to get her clean and get all the clumps out of her hair so they could go get pictures done.  While they were getting pictures, the poor girl kept telling her mom that she had to potty.  Negligent Mother, who was busy texting, said, "I told you to shut the f*** up!"  My mother-in-law marched right over there and slapped her across the mouth.  No matter how bad a day I'm having, I can picture that moment and smile.

Today I'm reviewing Netflix and their streaming service.  Several months ago, we ditched paying roughly fifty dollars each month with cable, and went exclusively to Netflix Streaming.  At the time they didn't offer a streaming-only plan, so we have the one-disc plan which includes streaming.  The selection of available titles is good and is added upon weekly.  I use the service on my Xbox, so watching with a party is possible, but not a feature I have ever used.  And of course, the price of ten bucks a month is a bargain when compared to cable.  

And now for the bad news.  Oftentimes the service will slowdown or reduce your quality.  Other times the service will increase your quality up to HD.  The problem is that each time it raises or lowers your quality, the screen blacks out and returns a few seconds later.  When the service slows down, it kicks you out to a red screen and tells you that the connection has slowed.  On this phase, it takes anywhere from thirty seconds to twenty minutes or longer.  I haven't decided yet whether or not that inconvenience invalidates all the other nice attributes of Netflix streaming, but it is very annoying.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Future Looks Bleak

There it is, the perfect van (with a reasonable price, anyway) for your new family.  The salesman has made you a great deal on the trade-in value of your wife's car.  All that remains is waiting to hear back from the bank to see whether or not you got the loan.  The time creeps along.  If you get the loan, your wife has a nice van which will be handy for your family.  It will also mean you get another bill every month.  You can make it work, but it will require a tighter budget, and reigning in your recent exorbitant spending.  Every day, make a Willpower roll to resist frivolous spending.  If you fail the Willpower roll, take a -2 penalty to wealth for the duration of the day.  If you fail the Willpower roll more than three times in any one month, you will lose the van and take a permanent -1 penalty to wealth and drive.

We bought a van on Tuesday, a 2005 Chevy Venture.  It's a nice van and all, but the weirdest thing happens when the side doors are closed; the doors play a jingle.  Just before the side door closes, a little tune plays.  I assume this is a sort of warning alarm to keep all hands inside the vehicle until all doors have come to a complete and full stop.  This may be a common feature on vans, but it was new and odd to me.

I've been working a bit more on the map for my d20 Modern campaign.  Here is the overall map of the former United States.

The blue and purple states are what remains of the United States of America.  The orange states, Alaska and Maine, have joined Canada.  The brown states, Arizona and New Mexico have joined Mexico.  The green states, California, Oregon, and Washington, have formed a new country, the Republic of California.  The red states, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, seceded and formed the Separatist States of America.  Hawai'i has left the union and renewed the former monarchy.  The purple states are still members of the union, but tend to be sympathetic to the goals and mindsets of the SSA.  These are the states that are considered an immediate secession threat.  This is the map of just the USA.

The little black box over Washington D.C. is indicative of the heightened security encompassing the capitol.  Civilian entry is practically impossible except by presidential or congressional invite.  Border security is tighter than ever, particularly at SSA borders.  

The campaign will be set in 2016, and I'm enjoying fleshing out this future dystopian America.  I also have a lot of big ideas for scenes and conflicts down the line, but am having trouble figuring out how to start the campaign off.  I would love to hear how any of you work on fleshing out the beginning of a campaign.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ignominious is a Fun Word

You exit the building and see the car you were told about.  You approach the vehicle slowly and feel your stomach begin to lurch.  You sense something innately wrong with the inhabitants of this car.  As you near the driver's side door, the window rolls down.  Billowing smoke roils out from the open window.  While trying to manage your own breathing, a chilling sound alarms you: tiny coughs from the backseat.

These ignominious parents were smoking in a car with a baby with the windows rolled up.  These aberrations of the gene pool could be on a competitive level with your nemesis, Negligent Mother.  Will you confront these ne'er-do-wells or simply perform the business you were sent for?

 In case you couldn't tell yet, I get irritated at parents who don't care about their kids.  I noticed things before Kennedy was born, but now these poor decisions are marked with a huge neon sign proclaiming, "MORON."  As the DM said, these people could've given Negligent Mother a run for her food stamps.  The poor little girl was strapped in her car seat while the parents puffed away and there wasn't a thing she could to but cough and cry.

The recent snow we received was certainly a nice change of scenery.  We took Kennedy outside for just a couple of minutes so she could see and feel it.

I don't believe she quite knew what to think about the whole situation.  Maybe there will be snow next year as well and she can do some sledding.

After several grueling sessions, I managed to finish the main segment of Super Meat Boy on Xbox 360.  The game is a throwback to 80's and early 90's style platformers.  In other words: infuriatingly difficult.  As Meat Boy, your quest is to save Bandage Girl from the evil (or possibly misunderstood) Dr. Fetus.  Scattered throughout the worlds are bandages to collect and Warp Zones to find.

Collecting bandages will unlock new playable characters to use in the game.  Certain Warp Zones will also grant you a new playable character, but only after completing the zone.  Other Warp Zones are in the style of Atari, Game Boy, or early NES or Master System games.  These zones remind you of how far gaming has come in the past twenty-five years, as well as how far it has fallen.  Too many games today boast gorgeous processor-intensive graphics, while the story and gameplay suffer.  Final Fantasy XIII, I'm looking at you.

Super Meat Boy has been an enjoyable trip through memory lane, and I'm not quite ready to turn it off yet.  Each of the main worlds also has a dark side, with modified and even more difficult versions of the light-world levels.   These are the levels that make me think of the internet cult-hit, I Wanna Be the Guy, know for its sadistic difficulty.  I would recommend both games in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nigel's Inaugural Night

You just got off work late on a Saturday night, the night that used to be reserved for your gaming group. The Storyteller in the newest campaign texts you saying you should stop by.  It will be after eleven before you would get there, and you have to be back at work at ten in the morning, with a forty-minute drive.  Even if you intend to only stay for a few moments, you know you'll end up there for at least an hour or two.  

You have a choice to make.  Is the gaming and camaraderie that you have missed so much as of late worth the potential lack of sleep when you have to drive relatively early tomorrow morning?

Yes, it was.  Saturday night I stopped by to hang out for a few minutes with the group, and ended up staying almost two hours.  It usually happens that way.  I got to run my new character for the first time, a Lasombra named Nigel.  He is the childer of another of the PC's, and he will be the first character I've played where intelligence is the weakest attribute.  With any luck I'll be able to go and game for at least a couple of hours each week after work on Saturday.

Kennedy went back to the doctor today, and the fluid is still present in one of her ears.  She got referred to a specialist, the same one who put tubes in my ears over twenty years ago.  I don't like that she's probably going to need them, but if it helps her hear and be comfortable, then I'm for it.  Last week she was eighteen pounds, eleven ounces.  Today she was nineteen pounds, two ounces.

We're trying something out tonight to see if it helps Kennedy sleep.  I have my netbook set up in her room streaming classical music from the WKMS website.  She went to sleep pretty quickly in the car after the doctor's appointment while I had classical music playing.  If this doesn't work, I'll try Rainy Mood next.

I think next time I'll write a review for the Xbox Live Arcade game Super Meat Boy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Negligent Mother's Nefarious Plot

Welcome back to the stage of history.  Negligent Mother has taken a new daughter-damaging move by leaving your mother-in-law's house to move in with a guy she met online who lives over an hour away.  This action will inevitably fail, like all her other grand ideas.

This leads you to conflicted feelings.  On one hand, you will get a definite sense of pleasure from watching her failures.  On the other hand, her failures will mean that your niece will be harmed as a result.  Her being gone means you don't have to interact with her during family visits, but also means that your niece won't be getting bathed or fed properly.  Take a few moments to consider how this really makes you feel.

My wife's sister, spoken of here as Negligent Mother, is an incompetent nitwit who should never have been allowed to reproduce.  That being said, she did reproduce, and has yet to take full responsibility for her child.  This darling little child may never know what it's like to be properly cared for by someone who loves her.  Tennessee child services doesn't think that the girl should be taken from Negligent Mother, even though she doesn't clean, feed, or medicate her daughter.  These things are all acceptable according to Tennessee laws.  Count this as one of the few times I'm glad to be from Kentucky, though I'm sure there are plenty of similar situations here.

The ideal solution here would be for the state to give custody of the child to my mother-in-law, so that she would actually be properly cared for.  Then, Negligent Mother could go off and do whatever it is that she's doing now, without putting her daughter in danger.  And now for something completely different.  Stay tuned after the jump for a video of my baby girl!

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Most people view the new year as a time for change, and make resolutions for the changes they want to see in their lives.

Most of these people fail.

Where they have failed, you have the chance to succeed.  You have the drive to make your life better for your sake, and your family's.  And this year, you have someone who will support you and challenge you when you enter times of weakness.  So tell me, what are your New Year's Resolutions?

This year, I have decided to make two resolutions, which should be relatively easy to keep.  They don't require me to go out of my way to a gym or anything of that nature.  My resolutions for 2011 are to eliminate sodas from my diet, and to write at least one blog post per week.

The first resolution has an interesting side story.  I decided to eliminate sodas while I was at work earlier this week.  When I got home that night and told my wife, she gave me a strange look and said, "Me too."  We had both managed to make the same resolution, on the same night, without ever having discussed it beforehand.  It was rather uncanny.

The second resolution is one that really shouldn't be a problem, since I do enjoy writing about Kennedy and our lives.  I do realize that time is sometimes scarce, though, which is why I gave myself a week for each post.  I fully expect to post more often, but that should be the minimum.

Kennedy and my wife have gone again to help with her mother in Tennessee.  Interesting developments with Neglectful Mother that I'll share with you next time.

Batman: The Long Halloween
I picked up Batman: the Long Halloween last night.  Shouldn't be too long and I'll have a review posted.  The critically-acclaimed film The Dark Knight was roughly based on this graphic novel, so expectations are high.

Monday, January 3, 2011

15 Wild Months

As the new year begins, your daughter turns six months old.  This is a time for reflection, a time to think about where you were fifteen months ago, how far you've come, and how far is left to go.

Roughly fifteen months ago, my daughter was conceived.  In that short time I've learned more about raising children than during the previous twenty-four years of my life.  It's not always been easy or fun, but it has been gratifying.  It has given me more purpose in life than work and videogames.  Most people never thought I would be capable of being a good father, and sixteen months ago, I might have agreed.  My wife has helped me learn parenthood, and has been incredibly patient while overcoming my paternal ignorance.

During those fifteen months, I was transferred to another store and promoted, married my wife and became part of a family.  With more responsibilities at work and at home, there has been less time to do the things I did before.  My wife uses the Xbox more than I do, and I work every Saturday night, which was the night my friends and I had reserved for tabletop gaming.  It's certainly taken some adjustment, but I think I'm getting along pretty well.  I only have my father to compare myself to, and well, he wasn't there so I'm doing pretty good so far.

Kennedy has her first tooth, she can almost crawl, and very clearly said "da da" today.  My wife gets sad every time she reaches another month in age, at which point I generally remind her that before we know it Kennedy will be married with children of her own.  She generally hits me at that point.  She wouldn't hit me if she didn't know it were true.

As for the future, I'm sure it will come and go too quickly.  She will be saying real words soon enough, and walking, too.  Through it all, I'll be there for her with my wife, because I want her to have the family that I never had.

On a side note, we gave Kennedy a d10 tonight and let her play with it for a bit.  She grabbed the d10, waved it around a bit, and dropped it.  She rolled 9, 3, 5, 10, 10, 9.  Before I know it she'll be godmodding a character sheet.