29 Dec

Games Games Games: 2008 Retrospective

So time has come to try and write a plan for gaming in 2009 which I can then fail to achieve, but which is fun in a kind of speculative daydreaming way. To do that I need to first mull over 2008 and see where I am coming from before I know where I am going to..

I tried in 2008 to focus on setting and not system, I am not so sure how well I succeeded.

In terms of purchases I tried to resist or at least go second hand. I bought quite a bit of Earthdawn second hand or very very cheap (when the USD-GBP rate was almost 2:1) since I loved the setting way back when but never ran it. I have sold a lot of Glorantha stuff and will continue to do so. I bought an AFMBE book, and I rather fell in love with the Paizo Pathfinder Chronicles and bought and read the first three even though they are D&D [I’d probably Savage them]. I avoided buying the new Basic Roleplaying book from Chaosium, which is fortunate since last week I saw a copy and realised that as a credited playtester I was entitled to a free copy.. it arrived today. I resisted the Battlestar Galactica rpg, but will succumb in 2009, I faced down the nostalgic pull of Dragon Warriors and despite resisting Trail of Cthulhu I did buy a few GUMSHOE games (same system) and enjoyed reading them. My ongoing love for the City of Freeport setting went wild as the setting went system free, but I haven’t fully read or played there. My purchase of the Blue Rose rpg must be put down to gspearing geeing me up, although it’s a very interesting setting.

Gwenthia, our shared world fantasy setting, has been getting me down all year. I can’t keep up the leadership role and the creative tensions have driven me away from the setting and all d100 game systems. My angst about this drove me into a cycle that meant I couldn’t face running any games at cons in 2007 or 2008, and as such I have done nothing with it all year.My

I ran Talislanta several times, which was a huge buzz for me since I’ve loved the setting for years, but somehow thought it was too big and weird for my friends. What nonense! It’s like Glorantha or The Forgotten Realms; you take a small area and just game away like it was 1976 and the idea of a huge game world didn’t exist yet.. I was delighted by how simple and smooth the system ran, and I think that all the games have been great successes, especially the one at a TomCon.

I don’t think I ran anything else this year until December when I ran Mean Streets, a noir rpg set in 1943 New York. Very much a settings led choice, since the system is very light and the setting/adventures very generously provided in the cheap pdfs.

My rpg BBS, The Tavern, has pootled along ok this year with only one php insertion attack and one migration between servers which my friend Simon managed well. The migration threw everyone’s cookies bonkers and I am still not sure everyone who wants auto login has it. We hosted the chat forum for the Continuum and Furnace cons, and people seem to enjoy hanging out there in a small cosy environment. I am grateful that when things get sticky Simon helps.

So, did I achieve much? Well for a year when I have been really quite unwell I have played a lot of great games, but not run many. So be it. I have greatly enjoyed playing Wordplay, lots of Savage Worlds, Traveller, Sufficiently Advanced, SCION, Atlantis, D&D 4e (!), Pathfinder Beta, SimpleQuest and many others so I think 2008 turned out to be the year of playing, and in fact it was great fun with great friends!

Next year.. or in a few days.. my 2009 plans!


08 Dec

Gaming Style

You Scored as Method Actor

You think that gaming is a form of creative expression. You may view rules as, at best, a necessary evil, preferring sessions where the dice never come out of the bag. You enjoy situations that test or deepen your character’s personality traits.

Method Actor
Power Gamer
Casual Gamer

30 Nov

Going to Prague

I am on a Czech Airlines plane somewhere over Europe on my way to run a conference in Prague for the next 2 days, and then attend another conference on Wednesday before returning home. I am quite tired, what with a busy workload last week, either seeing friends or working every night and then Matt’s 18th birthday do on Friday night [to Saturday morning].

23 Nov

Gardening Day

Got up and gardened all day today and yesterday. Cleared nettles, cut down brambles, trimmed hedge with my eldest’s trimmers. Then planted out winter pansies and put down crocus bulbs. There are lots more things to be done and much more clearance, but I feel that I put in a good 12 hours productive gardening. Compost bin totally full, as is the ‘green recycling bin’ so goodness knows where the next lot of green stuff is going to go.

Got to work now, then the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ results show and a couple of episodes of Silent Witness before bed. Off to lecture to lecture tomorrow.

Oh, and I shaved my moustache off when in Belgium last week and both Ann and Matthew say they prefer it.. wow. I have had a ‘tache for 28 years!

09 Nov

Very Weird Week

This is a techie blog.. stop now if you don’t do geek.

I have had the strangest week with my Ubuntu installation on my Dell. I upgraded to 8.10 and all of a sudden my system stopped talking to the Internet via my network adaptor. Aaaargh! Nowadays a PC with no access to a network is useless, not only do I need the ‘Net to do my work but all my files are not on my work machine but on my file server. A LiveCD of 8.10 had the same problem so I sighed and reinstalled 7.10, reconfigured and started the upgrade back to 8.04. It’s not too awful on Ubuntu, all the apps and stuff comes as part of the install, and then there are the little tweaks and changes I make and I can do most of them from memory. All my data is on the file server so as long as I have a fstab backup then I am ok. It was eerie to see the video driver/kernel problem that scared me silly earlier this year happen before my eyes as 7.10 upgraded itself, broke the video drivers, recovered and then moved to 8.04.. like watching evolution at high speed!

In the end, after various pleas on ‘net forums I began to realise that no-one else had this problem. I also noticed that I was having real problems with DNS lookups and DHCP on my laptop. I switched it to using OpenDNS for DNS (not as easy on a Linux box as I thought it would be if you still want Auto DHCP for the machine IP) and things improved. My suspicion moved to my Orange router.. the second one I have had since the last one seemed to be the cause of my 6 weeks of intermittent Internet earlier this year. So, resisting the temptation to beat it with a branch in Basil Fawlty style, I rebooted it a few times. Oh look, DNS problems gone.. wonder if it was the route all along.

Now.. I thought, it’s time to be sensible and make a full disk image of my PC and have a perfect backup so I can upgrade to 8.10 and if it fails to network I can simple restore my image of my 8.04 setup. I downloaded Clonezilla and made a copy of my partition to another partition. It seemed to work. I rebooted and I got an odd error message but realised that my fstab referred to the backup partition as reiserfs but in fact it was now ext3. I changed it. Or did I? Long story short.. my system has been accessing both the original and backup since they share the sam UUID, a unique partition identifier, which they now both share! I have a working system which I upgraded to 8.10, but the upgrade seems to have gone to the backup disappeared! So.. I have edited BOTH fstabs, stopped using the UUID and moved to /sda1 and /sda3, and I am about to reboot.. wish me luck!

——-> 10 minutes later….

It worked. Mind you.. the 8.10 upgrade has vanished like snow in rain, which is very odd given that I sat here and watched the whole lot download, answered the configuration questions and so on!

——-> 60 minutes later ….

All sorted. Now I have tried a 8.10 Live CD and once again the network adaptor fails! Aaargh. I also noticed that my gnome-terminal failed to run. Have I got a dodgy LiveCD? I am downloading a new one now. In the meantime I think I shall stay with 8.04, after all it is a LTS (long term support) release so it’ll be kept safe and secure and frankly I am quite happy with all that 8.04 has, 8.10 would be nice but not killer.

In the meantime I have installed Debian 5 (lenny) on my laptop.. alongside Ubuntu 8.10 and Puppy 4.. but that is my ‘mess about toy’.. since it really is an old piece of junk.

02 Nov

10 Films to Annoy Geeks and Full Frontal Nerdity

I liked this run down of films likely to annoy the geeks amongst us:

10 Films to Annoy Geeks

I also loved this loving tribute to the gaming geeks amongst us:

Full Frontal Nerdity

Whilst I hate to reduce my chances of winning (I have actually won some VNUnet comps) I’d also love a friend to win a Samsung netbook with a 120GB SSD:

VNU net Samsung Flybook Competition

So, less of a blog and more of a list of links, but hey, somedays that’s all you need.

Now I have to complete a Talislanta adventure and I have 3 hours to stat up a Drakken tomb..

“Fly my monkeys.. Fly!”

25 Oct

20 Years Happy

JoFrom wedding

Ann and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary here at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. Why? Well this is where we came for our first honeymoon with Michael and Leesa. Why? Well we decided to get married on a Wednesday half term, having already planned to take the kids to see the Blackpool Illuminations at the weekend. We went to the Registry Office, got a special licence and were married on the Friday. Impetuous? Nous?

So.. 20 years have gone by, the Illuminations are much the same. Blackpool has probably decayed somewhat (they spent too long thinking a supercasino would save them) but the key parts are as fun and working class as they ever were. We’re staying at a 4 star hotel and not a B&B, but the wind is still fierce as you wait for the tram to take you down to the Pleasure Beach.

Tonight we saw “Forbidden” at the Globe Theatre at the Pleasure Beach. There is a little secret about shows there… they’re excellent. A dazzling mix of Dita von Tees style burlesque and impressive circus skills, it was entertainment at a West End standard.

The back to the hotel where Ann seems to have a surprise for me.. but that’s not something we need to blog right now..

PS: It was a new neck chain.. and follow the image link if you want to see our original wedding pictures!