gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
Doing a little thought as to how to recreate the tensions of a WWI era naval pursuit in an interstellar setting. Let's start with the drive and it's effects.

1. Drives can reach up to about 500c. However, maintenance and fuel requirements rise sharply in drives designed for the highest speeds.

2. Entering or exiting hyperspace requires a local gravity field of at least .000006g. Entry and exit can be pushed in high fields, but it's hard on the equipment. Ships trying to push deep past the hyper rim can be forced out of hyperspace without warning.

3. Hyperspace is damaging. Ships and people in transit begin to suffer effects of hyperspace after several days of travel. Early symptoms are headaches, numbness or tingling in extremities, nausea, and vision or hearing issues. The longer a trip continues, the more severe the issues become. Extended voyages can result in permanent brain damage or death. Electronic systems on ships are also disrupted, though they can be better shielded.

4. Additionally, ships exiting hyperspace are subject to "terminus shock." This is a sudden attack of hyperspace sickness, causing everyone on a ship emerging from hyperspace to be stunned or nauseated for as long as several minutes. Those already suffering from severe effects of travel can be killed by this shock. The deeper a ship goes past the hyper rim, the more severe the shock.

5. Speed increases the onset of negative effects of travel. The pilots of high-speed couriers tend to have short careers and amazing health care plans.

So, we have a set up where ships will need to plot courses that minimize their time in hyperspace. Which means controlling access to certain stars will be quite lucrative as trade will funnel through them.

Now, interstellar communications. FTL comms exist, but they are limited.

1. The power and plant requirements for a true FTL sending station are massive.

2. The systems that can afford them usually build them on asteroids or moons close to the hyper rim. These stations tend to be fortified.

3. The system has limited bandwidth. Messages tend to be telegraph-short.

4. Stations can broadcast or aim a message at another station.

5. Messages move at about 10,000c

6. Larger ships can carry receivers. This allows them to get messages even when moving in hyperspace.

7. Due to limitations, these tend to be three letter code groups, like used with ballistic missile subs. As an example:

RQD (All 3rd Fleet Units)
YYT (War Plan Case Ocher)
SNW (Rendezvous Wolf 359)

In which case every ship of the 3rd Fleet would open their safes, pull out Case Ocher, and plot courses to Wolf 359.

More to come.
gridlore: The word "Done!" in bold red letters. (Done!)
Veni, vidi, nec respirare!

Finally finished my first successful game of Civilization VI. Only took about 28 hours (I logged the times.) Standard size world, Chieftain difficulty. I shared a continent with France and Brazil along with a double handful of city-states.

Getting a handle on the idea of city districts and the increased importance of trade routes took a few tries, but once I realized just how powerful trade can be, especially for the Romans, I embraced it.

I'm just amazed at the level of detail. Early on, one of my scouts discovered Crater Lake. I zoomed into to admire the view, and heard my scout's dog panting. Although the sound you get when you start building a Holy District sounds like a bagpipe being stabbed.

Fought a couple of border wars with France, taking two of her cities. As a Civ4 "Stack of Doom!" adherent, adjusting to the new ways was a bit of a struggle. I like the late game Corps and Army functions. Cities that defend themselves? Heaven! Later I finished off Brazil (who turned out to only have two cities) before ending the French Menace once for all. Over on the other continent, Victoria (who hated me), Gilgamesh (best buds 4evah!), Tomyris (who loved me as long as I was at war), and Cleopatra (make up your damn mind, lady!). Other than trade, and one ill-timed holy war declared by Victoria (during which I took one of her cities on my continent, and Adm Grace Hopper lead the Bug Fleet in sinking all English ships that dared approach!) I had little to do with that other place.

With peace in hand, and a solid technological lead, I went for a science win. The win was secure when I got Carl Sagan as a Great Scientist, and he cut my build times on the final two Mars projects down to nothing.

Going to play a few more games at Chieftain, trying different cultures and win strategies.
gridlore: A Roman 20 sided die, made from green stone (Gaming - Roman d20)
This is the background story for my latest Dungeons & Dragons character. He is a Warlock, which is a magic-using character who gets his powers from a pact with a powerful eldritch entity that isn’t a god: A powerful fairy, a Lord of Hell, or something from a far plane of reality. All places are fictional, and taken from the Forgotten Realms setting.

It's also a bit of an experiment in writing style, going from 3rd to 1st person in telling the story.

Contracts Under Pressure )

And since I'm addicted to in-jokes, the characters full name is Porte u'Marinaio. Which is Corsican for Popeye the Sailor.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
(with apologies to Jethro Tull for the title.)

Happy 2017, everyone.

I try to avoid resolutions. I find that over-promising with specific goals is self-defeating. As you slip from the goal, frustration kicks in and rather than rest for better goal, you just quit. This is a cycle I am very familiar with.

So rather than being resolute, I shall share a few plans.

- Make the YMCA a habit. After I recover from my surgery, try to make three days a week.

- Try to write every day. Except a lot more posts here. Even if it's just nonsense, write something.

- Declutter! I'm tired of living in place filled with too much stuff.

- Get published.
gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
(Wikipedia) New Years Day is an American rock band formed in 2005 in Anaheim, California. After building a reputation through promotion on the social networking website MySpace, the band released their debut EP in 2006. Their debut album My Dear followed in 2007. The band's second full length effort, Victim to Villain came out nearly six years after their debut. Their third album, Malevolence was released on October 2, 2015. It peaked at #45 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest charting.

Their music is categorized as self-proclaimed "Hauntedmansioncore", a spin on The Haunted Mansion mixed with rock music. Please, enjoy New Years Day performing Kill or Be Killed.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Ah, the holidays, that wonderful time of the year (which now seems to stretch from late October through to Groundhog Day) when families gather, turkeys and trees are massacred, and television schedules go to hell.

I'll freely admit that I'm a man who likes my routines. Sort of comes with everything I've been through. And those ruts include my TV viewing schedules. So with the advent of "mid-season finales" I've been a bit put out. Luckily, [personal profile] kshandra got herself a Roku box. Now that I've learned to use the damn thing, we've been binge-watching. I caught up with Daredevil months ago, so he's not being discussed.

So, what have we been watching?


  • Luke Cage One of the oddest complaints I've ever seen is that this show is "too black." That's what I like about it! Luke Cage, his allies, and his enemies are all part of Harlem's unique African-American culture and history. The creators embrace that, making a hero and plot that could not work with a white hero. Great depth of character all around.

  • The Expanse I started watching the first season on SciFi, but quickly lost the thread. Having now read the first five books, I can better follow the action. Very pretty, but not quite what my mind's eye had drawn. Still very good. One problem, Chrisjen doesn't swear nearly enough.

  • Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) A Turkish show about the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent and his harem slave-turned-wife the Hürrem Sultan. Seeing as we've visited Topkapi Palace where much of the action happens, and seen the tombs of both these people, how could we not watch? We've fallen behind because discovered . . .

  • House of Cards Yeah, I know, late to the game. But dear gods, Kevin Spacey has cemented himself as my favorite actor. Frank and Claire as such utter sociopaths, but you cheer for them! We've just reached S3, as President Underwood has just taken office.



Still on tap is The Grand Tour, the post-Top Gear show made for Clarkeson, May, and Hammond. Also need to figure out if our Amazon Prime account unlocks Game of Thrones.

So, what are all y'all watching?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Gaming - EatRads)
Hi everyone. My is Doug, and I'm a Gearhead.

Hi Doug.

For those of you not familiar with the term in relation to role-playing games, a gearhead is some one who obsesses over designing all aspects of whatever fantastic realm the game take place in. In moderation, as with all things, gearheading can add depth to the game setting and to the enjoyment of the game. But fall into the Stygian depths of design sequences and scientific calculators, as I did, and you'll hit rock bottom.

Which, bearing a gearhead, means you've calculated the exact velocity of the fall and how much damage you'll take based on whether the rock is sedimentary or igneous.

As with so many things I blame my elder sibling. For it was that worthy who introduced me to role playing in 1977 with Traveller. As a 10-year old science-fiction addict, being able to play out the adventures was simply the best thing since the invention of the taco, as far as I was concerned. Soon after I begin playing, I had acquired my own copy of the rules and I started building my own clusters of inhabited star systems.

Now Traveller uses a one-line strong of characters to describe worlds. For example:

Arteaga B-57399A-B In )

That's what I got out of one line. But soon, people began demanding more. In Traveller's case, information on the number of gas giants and asteroid belts in the system, as well as on the local star was added. But still people wanted more detail. We began getting rules on figuring the exact length of the day and year, and how warm it was on the surface. Every one of those single-digit descriptors were expanded into their own lines of data.

And nobody cared! I've never met a single gamer who made use of all the crap these systems dumped on us. Players in any SF RPG don't want to get a BBC nature documentary. They want things that are relevant to the game at hand. A few notes on local color will get you through.

Things were worse when it came to equipment in games. The oft-mocked AD&D supplement Unearthed Arcana had pages devoted to all the different types of polearms used back when long-pointy sticks were the thing on battlefields. It was worse on the SF side.

For a time, "toolkits" were all the rage in gaming. It boiled down to companies saying "rather than paying people to design the Complete Book of Toys, were giving you the tools to do the work yourself." On the surface, a good idea.

Until you get into a book like Fire, Fusion, & Steel (FFS). This was supposed to be, in both its editions, the toolkit to end all toolkits. And like any good slavering gearhead, I dove right in. Then bounced off the math. I'm not good at math. But Texas Instruments and spreadsheet writers had my back, and reached the waking-up-in-an-alley-wearing-someone-else's-shoes nadir of my gearheading.

There was a book being written by a couple of Traveller Mailing List's stalwarts. Imperial Squadrons was the name. I was tapped to design four ships for the early Imperial Navy. I dove right in. Friends, these were not going to be easy designs. The largest of these ships, the Coronation-class Dreadnaught, was a kilometer long and had a crew of thousands. And I designed it down to the last kiloliter of space. In a ship that massed more than all the US Navy's aircraft carriers combined, I stressed over a space not much bigger than a bathroom stall.

But dear God, those designs freaking sang! I knew every inch of those ships. They were, to my mind, the ultimate expression of what you could do with FFS! Then the book came out; and my designs were gone. Oh, they kept the write ups, but the glorious details? Reduced to a useless "combat card." I was actually devastated.

But that's where I realized that all this detailing is pointless! All players care about with their ships is how they perform and what's in them in the most general sense. Why bother with details that no one is ever going to use?

The last design work I did for an RPG book was the equipment chapter in GURPS Traveller: Ground Forces. Christopher Thrash did the design chapter, as i recall, I built the stuff. And for that, close was good enough. I was more about usable in a game than trying to be a defense contractor.

Now I've gone all the way in the other direction. My preferred gaming system this dates is FATE, which is as far from gearheading as you can get.

To be clear, I'm not saying devoting time and energy to building worlds is wasted. Just know when to stop and understand what is going to be important to the story you are building.

Besides, there's always time to go back and expand a little.
gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
Yeah, time to scratch the itch again. Anyone having suggestions for bands I should look into drop me a line.

But we start off HMS v2.0 with LostPray, a Ukrainian/Turkish band formed in Odessa in 2013. Really interesting stuff, it reminds me of Load-era Metallica. Which is not a bad thing. From their 2014 debut album That's why, please enjoy Alienation.

gridlore: Photo: Rob Halford on stage from the 1982 "Screaming for Vengeance" tour (Music - Rob Halford)
Because some traditions just have to be honored. Korpiklaani (Finnish: The Forest Clan) is a folk metal band from Finland who were formerly known as Shaman. Their Wikipedia entry is pretty thin except for the astonishingly long list of former members. I think Korpiklanni is actually Finnish for "More lineup changes than Megadeth."

But enjoy the saddest SCA event ever with Wooden Pints
gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)
1. Are you named after someone? Almost every male in my paternal line is named Douglas.
2. When is the last time you cried? Couple of months ago.
3. Do you like your handwriting? No. All my writing is a horrid scrawl.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Roast beef.
5. Do you have kids? Allegedly I have a son somewhere. He'd be 28 or so now.
7. Do you use sarcasm? In the same way I use oxygen.
8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes.
9. Would you bungee jump? Not at this point.
10. What is your favorite kind of cereal? Cocoa Krispies.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes.
12. Do you think you're strong? I have to be.
13. What is your favorite ice cream? Chocolate Fudge.
14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Facial structure.
15. Football or Baseball? Baseball!
16. What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? Physically, the damage done to me over the years. Mentally, my procrastination problem.
17. What color pants are you wearing right now? Faded blue.
18. What was the last thing you ate? A Fiber One brownie last night. (Breakfast after I fill this out.)
19. What are you listening to right now? Moxy Fruvous - King of Spain (live)
20. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Flesh, just to piss people off.
21. Favorite smell? BBQ.
22. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? The Anti-coagulation clinic.
23. Favorite sport to watch? Baseball, with football a close second.
24. Hair color? Black, rapidly going gray.
25. Eye color? Brown/green.
27. Favorite food to eat? Pizza.
28. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings. Really not into scary movies.
29. Last movie you watched? In the theater, Doctor Strange, on TV, Aliens.
30. What color shirt are you wearing? Black, with orange hoodie.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Keep Calm)
Saw my surgeon today. It tells you something that I have a surgeon. How many of you have a regular surgeon. Sigh.

But anyway, I'm being scheduled for another surgical biopsy, this time on the superolateral superficial inguinal chain of lymph nodes. There's one there that is suspiciously large and was active in a PET scan I had a few months ago.

So, what will they be looking for? Cancer. Specifically evidence that I'm experiencing a return of Hodgkin's. They'll look for both microtumors and the Reed-Sternberg cells that are the tumor factories for the disease.

Surgery will be in early January, date to be determined. Probably either an outpatient thing or maybe one night in the hospital.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
I've given up on my NaNoWriMo project. Simple fact is I got derailed by some health issues and the election. Also, I keep trying to make myself write science fiction, and it's really not my genre for writing. I may try my hand at urban fantasy. Without the pressure of meeting a 50,000 words in a month.

For those of you who paid into the Istanbul fund with the promise of being Tuckerized, I'll be in contact about the new project.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Strange dream from last night.

[personal profile] kshandra and I had come into possession of a building where we could live. From the outside it looked like a fairly large house, but on the inside it was like a large warehouse space. We already owned it, but as we moved in we made discoveries like the large professional kitchen and the fact that one entire wall was a huge video screen with concert-quality sound.

The odd thing was there were three ways to get into the place. A bank vault style door that looked like it could withstand a nearby nuclear burst, a rotted old door in the back that lead into a maze of passages that reminded me of the backstage area of a big theater, and a side door that was at the second floor level with a sort of pyramid of wooden steps leading up to it.

Obviously, we were throwing Halford's own housewarming. The last thing I remember in the dream was trying to lead some people up to the side door. But the steps got steeper and steeper, and when I opened the security screen door I was literally hanging on for life with just the tips of my shoes on the edge of step as I tried to get over to open the real door.

That's when our alarms went off.
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
The novel I failed at last year is returning, only this time I'm actually planning things in advance.

For each character I'm writing a short description and synopsis of what their motivation is. I'm also going to be creating an "action grid" of sorts; so I can place each character and the two MacGuffins in each chapter. I'll be color-coding for main plot, background action, and things that happen off-stage but are important. This is going to be sort of a SF Noir thriller, so I'm going to be juggling several threads. I'll probably flowchart the plot as well.

No, here's a question. The plot concerns a plot by a corrupt corporation to turn over several dozen genetic samples to a rather nasty culture that has done bad things with genetic engineering. The bad guys want these samples to gain an edge in the constant internal feuding over who is the best. One faction gaining control and building better monsters means an eventual war. So our heroes need to infiltrate the site of the meeting, play a con game to become part of the bidding, and replace the actual samples with flawed ones. Stealing the payoff is a bonus.

So how big would a container holding say sixty isolated DNA samples be? Assume the need to keep them stable outside a lab for at least four days. Gym bag? Large dufflebag?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Baseball - Believe)
To the tunes of "Do You Hear The People Sing" and (very loosely) "One Day More" from Les Miserables.


Do you hear the Giants sing?
Orange October's come again
It is the music of a baseball team
Marching to victory again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the thunder of the bats
There is a game to be won
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our nation?
Who will be strong and stand behind Bochy?
Filling up the bleachers
For the World Series you long to see?
Then raise up your voices
And cheer for MadBum and Posey!

Do you hear the Giants sing?
Orange October's come again
It is the music of a baseball team
Marching to victory again!
When your heart is in your throat
With every 3-2 pitch
There is a series to be won
When tomorrow comes!

Will you sneak out from work early
So you are home for every pitch?
Rally caps and garlic fries
Will you be there 'till the end?
The Spirit of '51
Will lead us to triumph again!

Do you hear the Giants sing?
Orange October's come again
It is the music of a baseball team
Marching to victory again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the thunder of the bats
There is a pennant to be won
When tomorrow comes!

One game more! Is all that we are asking
One game more! We have to keep on winning
25 men united with one simple goal:
One more game
Win today!
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Quick update on my progress.

I've stopped the Vicodin and gone back to me regular Gabapentin regime. There's still some pain, mostly when I put weight on my foot, but nowhere near what it was last week.

Das Boot is great. Putting it on feels like I'm strapping into some sort of armor, but the air cushion and padding really helps. Being able to take it off when I'm not moving or sleeping is great.

Walking more without the crutches, although I am pacing myself.

See the bone doc on October 13th. Fully expect a clean bill of health.

Wearing jeans for the first time in two weeks. Go me!
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Gaming - EatRads)
Yes, I'm finally going to run a game. Here's the pitch:


C’mon in! Sit down! This will just take a few minutes. First of all, I’m supposed to welcome you to the TransGalaxy family. So welcome. I hate that part, after all, you’ve already signed the contract, right? I mean, the recruiter made sure you did that first thing before sending you to me, right?. You’d be amazed how many potentials walk in here without a signed contract. Anyway, you signed, you’re part of the family. For five years, with an option to extend. Wish my marriages worked like that!

That’s a joke, son. Relax! Let me pull up your file and get you set up with a ship. Hmm. . . Kid, none of my business, and we’re happy to help folks start over, but ‘John Smith’ is hardly a good fake name to go by and. . .

Really? John Smith III is your real name? Hell, you want something better? I can set you up easy enough, I know some people. . . hey, no need to get touchy, just offering! I’m so used to new hires getting creative with their names. You caught me by surprise there. Almost refreshing not to be speaking with another “Jason Starkiller” or “Nebula Jones.”

So what do we have? Hm. Eight years in the Colonial Legion as an Assaultman, qualified on this weapons system and that instrument of destruction. . . son, you are aware we’re a shipping line, right? On-board ship security? We usually use ex-Federation security goons for those roles. Frankly, you’re more “seek and destroy” than “protect and serve,” know what I mean?
Hey, no need to look down, my boy! Know why I fly the Assignments desk? Because I have an eye for talent, for putting the right people in the right job. And you, you fine young fellow, you, are going to be a hit as a Delta Bulldog.

You don’t have a clue what I just said. OK, here’s how it breaks down: TransGalaxy is the biggest name in interstellar transport. We serve over a thousand inhabited star systems belonging to seven intelligent species besides humans, along with sanctioned contacts with the occasional intelligent machine cluster. Shipping is broken down into four basic classes.

Alpha is the top of the line, the big luxury passenger cruisers and high-end bulk transports. Those are the ones you see in the ads. Top of line everything. Crew standards are insanely high. These ships go only to systems that meet the 3S standard: settled, stable, and safe. Ever see that old series Action Aboard!? Shot on the ISCV King Richard, one of our Alpha liners. Yeah, that was a real ship.

Then you have your Beta ships. Almost as good as the Alphas, but smaller and working the areas that are still mostly safe with less-critical cargoes and passengers not needing the red carpet treatment. Crewmen on a Beta are busting their asses to get good enough evaluations to move up to Alphas. Still a good slot.

Up next are the Gammas. Gammas do the less profitable regular runs to colony worlds that are close to the fringe. Gammas also do hazardous jobs like refinery tows and the like. Work hard in the Gammas and you can go places! I myself spent almost 12 years pushing a Gamma along the edges of Stork space. Yeah, that’s where I got the artificial arms and eye.

Now you’ve been slumping down in the chair as I’ve told you this and you’re thinking “what the hell does being a Delta mean?” I’ll be honest. It’s not a glory and big tips like an Alpha, but that five year hitch will fly by because as a Bulldog, you’ll be right on the edges of known space, going to places most people have never heard of! Yes, it’s dangerous, but with great risk comes great rewards! Company bonuses aside, the, um, high rate of turnover in most crews means you could quickly find yourself captain of your own ship! Stop laughing. What was that?

Fine. Deltas tend to die a lot. Happier now? But I’m not lying about the opportunities! Now, let’s see who needs a warm body. . . Ah! The Driver Carries No Cash just docked and needs, well, a new crew. Mostly.

Mr. Smith! Pleasing stop shouting, you’ll disturb my coworkers! You signed a contract, sir, and TransGalaxy will enforce all the terms of it to the letter! I can assure you that the ship’s artificial intelligence was purged after the incident you are referring to, and we’ve had no trouble since then. What happened this time? Let me see here. Huh, that’s a new one. Cargo escaped and ate most of the crew. Odd, since it was hauling mineral samples. But you see why this is the job for you, right? Had you been there, your combat skills would have come in handy, yes? We call these ships and their crews Bulldogs because they might be ugly, but they never give up! Docking Bay C-54, Bulldog Smith, your captain is waiting for you. Good luck! Our security team will help you find your way and see you safely aboard.

Oh, on your way out, could you send the next prospect in? It’s a busy day.


Bulldogs is a space opera game of blasters and swashbuckling, as the crew of a tramp freighter tries to make a credit her and there working on the bottom of the food chain. TransGalaxy isn't picky about the crews they hire for their Deltas, so long as you have pulse (or function power plant, or ichor ducts, or whatever) and are not actively being chased by the cops when you sign up, TG will take you. Because odds are you'll be dead before they pay out the end of contract bonus.

Obviously, this will be a game with a humorous bent. Think Quark, Red Dwarf, Buck Godot. We will be using the FATE system which you can find here for free and playing on Roll20. You'll need to be able to log in with a sound device, and a camera would be nice. I may ask for donations to my account to help me buy the cool things to make the Roll20 experience better.

I plan on having session twice a month, 4-6 hours. Days and times are open for negotiation. We will need to meet for a character creation session as it's a cooperative thing in FATE. Looking for 4-5 players, and I'm pretty sure one slot is already filled (Hi Logic!) Hopefully we'll get this rolling in early November.

Questions? Answers? I'd like to keep them in one place, so no matter where you read this if you could leave a comment on my Dreamwidth that's be great. I do allow anonymous commenting, just sign your posts.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
I, and at least one mobility aid, will be at Convolution. Here's my panels:


The Monsters of Doctor Who
Friday 15:00 - 16:30, Boardroom V

From the Cybermen to the Slitheen- we love them all! Join our panel of Whovian experts as they share their scariest Timelord terrors!

Doc of the Bay (M), Doug Berry

Geek Networking
Saturday 15:00 - 16:30, SandPebble B

How to make something of all these geeky folks you know!

Steven Savage (M), Doug Berry, Ms. Jennifer Carson, Nita, M. Todd Gallowglas

RPG Story Structure- Writing for Playing
Sunday 10:00 - 11:30, Parlor 2036

There's a difference between writing a story for it to be read, and writing one for it to be played through. Our panelists will help shed some light on how to best make your roleplay story playable.

R.L. King, Doug Berry (M), Colin Fisk


Given my broken foot and general health, I'm very happy that I only have one panel a day. Expect me to be planted somewhere mellow when I'm not involved in a panel.
gridlore: Gold football helmet with red 49ers logo (Football - 49ers helmet)
San Francisco 49ers: 28
Los Angeles Rams: 0


That wasn't supposed to happen. The conventional wisdom was that the Niners were going to be hopeless this season. We had no offense, no defense, and Chip Kelly's promised shake-up was going to take a long time to implement. A fairly weak preseason seemed to support those arguments.

Until last night. On offense, the Blaine Gabbert era has begun. He was 22 of 35 for 170 yards, with one touchdown pass to Vance McDonald. But that wasn't the whole story, Gabbert had nine carries for 43 yards. These weren't panicked scrambles, but good runs after checking off all the potential passes. Carlos Hyde had 88 yards and 1 TD on 23 carries. The offensive line looked good. We're not great, but playing well as a team and building confidence.

On defense, we shocked the NFL. The Niners were terrible on D last year. Last night? We allowed a total of 185 yards. The Rams had to punt 10 times. We kept pressure on the Rams with an efficient pass rush that used different packages and stunts to keep the Rams' O-line guessing. The secondary looked good, shutting down the longer routes.

Now let's be honest: The Rams aren't a very good team. Last night they looked utterly undisciplined. Stupid penalties, missed assignments, obvious on-field tensions that culminated in Rams defensive tackles Aaron Donald being ejected after making contact with an official. He slammed his helmet into the field, which will earn him a suspension from the league.

But overall, there's hope. Niners head coach Chip Kelly had it right when he made it clear in his post-game press conference that he had identified areas for improvement. Keep working, keep fighting, and play them one week at a time.

Next up: at Carolina Panthers, SEP 18
gridlore: (Burning_Man)
So, how was your summer? Mine was great right up until last Monday. And by “great” I mean I had unnecessary surgery, never really went anywhere, and mostly hid in my apartment. But there was one shining beacon on the horizon: Burning Man! Yes, ten days of glorious art and weirdness and. . . and. . . waiting in line for five hours to get in followed by daily dust storms with 45mph winds.

But even at that, I was at the Burn! Me and 70,000 other weirdos soaking up the goodness and fun. I was kissed by not one but two hot European young ladies (one from Rome, the other London), took part in restocking some of the 1,500 porta-potties in a howling dust storm, and despite an apocalyptic storm on Burn Night the Man Burn was a thing of beauty.

Yes, everything was fine until Monday, when we started tearing down our camp. This is where my troubles began. First of all, we brought far too much water. The suggested 1.5 gallons per person per day is aimed at the younger, more active set. As dancing ‘til dawn to crappy electronic dance music wasn’t on our agenda, we ended up with a lot of water. We gave away two 7-gallon containers - filled - to a campmate who just wanted the extra weight to balance his trailer for the trip home. The other two, which we like better ergonomically, were just loaded onto the truck full. That left our 5-gallon water cooler. It was about a quarter full, and kind of gritty (that dust gets everywhere!). So, being the helpful guy I am, I picked it up to carry it out to our greywater evaporator.

And promptly tripped on my hydration backpack. We had been discussing replacing the camelbacks with insulated bottles earlier, and I think the packs heard us. I go flying, and immediately lose proprioception in my right leg. I was a bit stressed. Left foot comes down fine, I drive my right foot into the densely-packed Playa. Hard.

Funny thing about peripheral neuropathy: when it comes to my legs, everything hurts. All the time. So I just shrugged it off and limped over to where Kirsten was sitting. We peeled my boot off to inspect the damage. No discoloration, no swelling. No way I’m getting my boot back on, so we switch to the shoes I’m supposed to wear in Reno. Hurts like a bitch, but with some help from campmates, we get out of Black Rock City and head for Reno!

Which is where I realize things are getting worse. Wednesday, Kirsten had an appointment for a facial, and then we were off to the local ER! I take her to the best places on vacation. After a set of X-rays, the doctor comes in and says “You really did a number on your foot.” Folks, I didn’t break a bone. I didn’t break two bones. No, friends and neighbors, I broke my 2, 3, & 4 metatarsals! Big time! Which is why I have this giant horking splint and a new silly way of getting around. 50 years old and this is the first time I’ve ever broken a bone.

But when I related this story to people, they seemed kind of let down. “Doug,” they said in one collective voice, “that’s so mundane. We expect more from you.”

Right. Buckle your seatbelts and read the back of your ticket.

Twas the night of the Man Burn, and all were drawn as close as we were allowed around the iconic figure of Man, brightly lit in red neon. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a monster dust storm blew up! The wrath of the Playa was upon us! That’s when I saw her: a little blind Girl Scout carrying a backpack of what I assumed were adulterated cookies, being led astray by her guide dog, who apparently broke the first rule of Burning Man: ask what’s in the food. Disregarding the storm, I lept from the truck, racing across the perimeter as gale force winds battered me.

Blinded by dust, I pressed on! But then, disaster! The static electricity from the storm ignited the fireworks on the Man, and the whole thing burst into flames! Now I wasn’t just fighting the wind and scourge of the dust, but fire tornadoes were now whipping across the desert floor. Clothing burned from (most of) my body, I swept the little girl (who turned out to be just 18, lucky me!) and her stoner dog up into my arms to race back to the now-cheering crowd. . .

That’s when the Paiute attacked. Upset about burners using Pyramid Lake without the proper permits, the entire reservation came at us on SUVs and ATVs and other Three Letter Acronyms. Having only Adventure Cane and an encyclopedic knowledge of Errol Flynn movies to guide me, I fought off the taco-selling tribe while forcing my way to the safety of the L3K line!

Where I tripped over some moron’s abandoned bike and broke my foot.

The End.
Brought to you by Vicodin and my clumsiness.


My video of Burn Night: https://youtu.be/M7jmvXfws_E

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