Work

Original Tales, Borrowed Worlds

A few things have made themselves clear these last couple of months. None more certain than the boat I’m on is taking in too much water. And while three of us are trying to toss the water out, two others are intent on bucketing more in. It’s hard not to feel stressed out about this. Honestly, this is the same song and dance we’ve been doing since I arrived several years ago. The only difference is my role in the whole mess of things. And while I’m rebellious by nature, when it comes to what pays the bill, I fall in line rather quickly. And I will protect myself from being axed by any means necessary. So when it came to my ideas of activities, I remained silent. None of that mattered to me at the time. It’s not that I don’t have ideas; it’s just at this moment, I’m not interested in seeing them coming to fruition. Mostly, because I don’t know where I stand in the current regime. And where I’ll be in a few months.

One thing I do want to bring into the department is tabletop role playing games. Duckie and I toyed with the idea in the past. Back when Crissy was still around, Duckie was still in the department, and I was on a path to possible supervisor position. Except, none of that happened. Crissy left. Duckie left. And my life took a turn. (Though, let’s be honest, had it not changed, they didn’t want me because I came with some risks.)

Since I’ve been binge watching Geek & Sundry’s We’re Alive: Frontier, the want to introduce the children into the world imagination driven gaming has increased. So much so, that I asked Shaun if he’d be interested in partaking in it. I received a shrug. I’ll try to convince the cousins to play too, but they’re children of short attention span and YouTube videos.

Dungeons and Dragons was my original intent. After reading articles how to make it kid friendly (focus more on the story, less on stats yada yada yada), I still didn’t know how to make it work for a library setting. (Actually, this is a lie because there are several ways for me to make it library friendly.) I looked into D&D-esque children’s RPG texts, but none of them hit the right feeling. The closest was Little Wizards, but I wasn’t feeling the whole kids-with-magic ordeal. (The last thing I need are kids fighting over who gets to be Harry Potter.)

And that’s why We’re Alive: Frontier breathed life back into the vision. The world takes place in the We’re Alive world (if you haven’t listened to the podcast, you’re missing out!) but the game play is based on Outbreak: Undead. I’ve never played this one before, nor have I read the guide book. But part of my resistance to wanting to introduce children to this game is the use of firearms and that most of the baddies will be humans. And that’s when Max Brallier’s post-apocalyptic series comes in.

I never read the series, but its potential of RPG storytelling isn’t lost on me. When the first novel came out, it was described as a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Walking Dead. How could I not be intrigued? The books are extremely popular at the library. So much so, that I purchased my own copy today because it was never on the shelf at work (we have four copies in circulation).

I’m assuming that Outbreak: Undead is limited in the monster category while D&D (and those like it) is too packed with magic. So I started looking into other games. The one that seems about right is Kids on Bikes. But I’m still looking for something that could work that isn’t too rule-bloated for a elementary aged kids. Once I find the perfect rule book, I can use the world that Brallier created for this series and create adventures within it. Hopefully that assists with our need for getting more butts in the seats while still promoting the joy of reading (read the book, get inspiration).

Let’s see how it works.

Nerd Night

Brainstorming

For a moment there, the feeling of being back in college hits me. Books lie strewn upon my bed, each opened to a different chapter but roughly offer me the same ideas. A composition book rests open besides my journal; notes scrawled upon their pages that extend past the margins. Several tabs are opened on Chrome. And I skim each of them in hopes that the next offers more insight on the subject matter than the last. Thing is, I never placed this much effort in my college studies. Or my high school studies. Junior high? Maybe. Elementary? Possible.

Opened on my bed are the books Eberron: Campaign Setting, Complete Divine, D&D Player’s Handbook (fifth edition), and Maze of the Blue Medusa. This doesn’t include the books opened on my tablet: a 4th edition companion book that moves the D&D world into a futuristic setting and Ultramodern 5. The opened tabs hold suggestions for race/class creations. Articles that document campaigns set in the modern world. Ideas for alternate histories and futures. Amalgamated cyberpunk worlds that borrow ideas from Warhammer 40k and other RPGs. A plethora of information available for me, and it gets my blood excited.

My idea? Create the perfect setting for Zak Sabbath and Patrick Stuart’s Maze of the Blue Medusa. I didn’t want to hand off the book to Duckie after reading the first few pages. While it’s perfect for a medieval setting, I wanted something much darker and grim than that. Reading the maze’s history, images of a dystopian, cyberpunk future began to push forth in my mind. A character named Trashcan came into being. An e-mail set to the heroes began to write itself. (O.k., I haven’t thought it all the way through, but there aren’t any scrolls in the future; I figured that there’d be something resembling e-mail than a paper message.)

As I continue reading the book, the more the ideas spring into life. Originally, I was going to follow the cyberpunk system presented in a forum. Now I’m thinking of stealing bits of it, but keeping races found in 5e. And one found in 4e. And one found in the modern companion for 4e. Plus ideas from the 3.5e books.

It’ll be months before any of this is ready, I’m sure. So while we play the Book of Malor, I’ll be working on this campaign. I’ll be creating player ready characters (unless I create a micro manual for the players), lovable NPCs (Trashcan can’t last forever—yes, I already wrote his demise which will happen soon or way later, depending on when creature responsible for his death makes an appearance), and situations to put the heroes in that will cause them to get lost and separated from each other.

Doldrums

“We Have Such Sights to Show You”

Adding new games into game night is difficult to say the least. The past week, I busied myself by reading tremulus by Sean Preston. Never having heard of tremulus before, its selling point wasn’t hard to pinpoint: it’s a storytelling RPG that incorporates Lovecraftian horror.

Our main game is Dungeons & Dragons in which Duckie holds the title of Dungeon Master. And I have no intention of usurping and dethroning him (not any time soon, anyway). Now that we have new people playing with us, I think incorporating tremulus into our game night might help with Duckie’s Book of Malor.

Unlike D&D, tremulus only requires two dice (per player). While the Keeper creates the premise and hazards, it’s up to the group as a whole to craft the story. This has been a sore spot with our D&D sessions. Most of the onus is placed on Duckie’s shoulders and that’s too much of a burden to keep to story going.

I’m not saying that this game will be our saving grace for our D&D nights; I think it’ll just help open and ease players into wanting to partake and add to the game.*

I haven’t finished reading the guide yet, but it’s great so far. I’ve been building ideas as I go along, hoping to create an omnibus of tales to send the characters into such a fright as we explore the deepest, darkest recesses of the mind.

*This actually happened during the last D&D session, when Crissy decided what the fortuneteller would say.
Nerd Night

The Adventure Thus Far

I don’t pretend to know what the hell I’m doing. I just roll with it. And if the dice comes up to my advantage, so be it. If it doesn’t—I’ll find myself running, leaping, and softly grazing a Dragonborn’s derrière. The swarm of wasps surround us, and my failed leap onto his back causes him to misfire his fire breath. I luck out because, despite of my shame of groping a fellow adventurer, my fall grants me some safety. The wasps ignore me. They go after him.

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Our DM loves for bugs. Maybe disturbingly so. Since our first adventure began, we’ve combated ants, bedbugs, and now these wasps. And those are just the ones I remember. Had my character not landed flat on his face, he might have swung his tiny sword instead in hopes of at least halving a few of those buggers. But in this game of chance, there wasn’t much to choose from. Fight and get stung, or jump on a Dragonborn’s back and hope for the best.

Neither, as it turned out, was in the cards for me.

We survived this outing. Someone us managed without a scratch—or rather, a sting. At some point we might have fought a dragon. Chances are, though, it was a legion of giant armadillidiidae.

While our adventure didn’t end, Duckie decided to reboot the fragment of the multiverse he created. Marvel and DC were doing it, so why couldn’t he? My dragonborn-ass-groper hobbit halfing faded into the æther.

These days, I’ve taken on the roll of a wood gnome by the name of Frug. He’s a bard storyteller who’s adopted brother, a half-elf, searches the world for him. Of course, it’s not for a friendly family reunion. He blames Frug for the death of their sister. There might be some resentment due to sibling favoritism, as well.

Frug finds himself mixed with a band of randoms who are charged with conspiracy to assassinate royalty. They began their adventure together Saturday. Sadly, I wasn’t able to partake in person but the internet grants us so much. I noticed that playing online, while it has its perks of being involved, feels empty. It’s not the same as sitting in the midst of it all, laughing with friends, and being able to act out the parts along with the best of them.

But who knows when our adventure continues. Maybe next time, I’ll stop being so damn lazy and actually clean up.

Doldrums

Blog Resolutions

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOtJUAeACzF0myYTflMF-WPj6sg9JYoedkgUNo0/?taken-by=ennui_prayer

My last post detailed personal hopes and goals for the new year. This post details blog hopes and goals for 2017. And while I know that my blog resolutions (blogolutions?) in the past crashed and burned before they got started, I remain semi-hopeful that this year will be different.

As most of you know, I have never found a niche for Chapin City Blues. While A Book Hunter’s Journal chronicled book finds, reviews, and opinions, I’ve managed to keep this blog as a journal left lying open on the dining room table. And while my readership is low, I don’t expect any changes I make to boost my numbers. And who cares? This blog’s sole purpose was to keep me writing.

However, adding new features never hurts—right? In addition to tapping into my book hunting roots—something that died with Hastings and several book thrift shops—I want to talk about movies. Not in the film criticism sense, but in a film fan sense. I remember a time in my life where my world revolved around books and movies, sometimes combining the two when a film adaptation was released.

The idea for Film 365  came about at work one day after watching a wide variety of movies, most of them I wouldn’t have touched otherwise. Now Film 365 is the idea title. I’m sure better minds have already trademarked the phrase. In fact, a quick Google search could confirm this.

While I won’t have time to watch 365 cinematic titles—no parent does, right?—the idea is to watch at least one movie a week. So why not Film 52? Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Another idea that comes to mind is listening to new music. Not brand spanking new, but new-to-me songs, bands, and albums. There might have been a time where Chapin City Blues wasn’t already music heavy, but it’s a time I cannot remember. With music streaming services (I use Google Play’s) at our fingertips, why confine ourselves within our comfort zones?

I’ve never been photo savvy with this blog. Personal pics have been used before, but mostly they’re borrowed from other websites or stills taken from videos. I want that to change. Not that anyone out there is dying to see my fat face plastered all over this blog, but using my own pictures (when I can) would give it a more personal atmosphere. Maybe.

More posts by Shaun. I promise this every year, but nothing has come of it. Shaun’s a complicated child. He’s almost five, by the way. And his personality has blossomed beautifully. He started pre-K last August, a milestone that Jeanna and I were both nervous and proud of.

More talk about games. Tabletop RPG, board, and card game reviews are still a long way from my expertise. But writing about my nerd nights with friends and coworkers might add more fluff to the blog. And with the Book of Malor on the horizon, there might be recordings as well.

And that wraps up the first post of 2017. I’ll be back later with the first movie of the year, 200 Cigarettes.