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.