Menagerie, Easy, Like I Said

Previously.

Easy, Like I Said

Sisters, as Yoshi expected, was a brothel. Unexpectedly, a brothel that catered to all species and genders. Instead greeting by catcalls from the “girls of the house”, catcalls from just about everyone directed at both of them. Walking through the door two Sisters approached them, wrapping themselves around Yohsi and Caesar, whispering the delights of the establishment.

Yoshi spotted Hook Beak and his crew across the room playing cards. Drinks, cards, and a table full of animals, not the ideal situation Yoshi thought.

“I’m here for a drink,” Yoshi said to the Sister as she shook him off her arm, “Maybe later. Let’s get to work Caesar.”

“Really, that much,” Casear said to the Sister holding his hand.

“Caes,” Yoshi said with some irritation.

“Let me take care of something and I will be right back,” he said to the Sister.

Yoshi and Caesar approached Hook Beak’s table from opposite sides. Hook Beak, large for a scav, continued to play cards unaware of Yoshi and Caesar. He slapped down a hand of cards causing chips and a few of his feathers to scatter across the table.

“I win again,” Hook Beak said in a raspy voice

“Just deal them,” another scav ordered.

Yoshi stood behind Hook Beak, looking at the back of his baldhead. She nodded at Caesar who took position between two scavs.

“What are you doing back there, hopper,” Hook Beak said loudly.

Sudden silence as everyone at and around the table became interested in the confrontation.

“I said, what are you doing back there, hopper?”

Two of the scavs at the table reached under the table. Hook Beak started dealing.

“We have a bounty for you and your crew,” Yoshi replied. “Come along nicely and nobody gets hurt.”

Hook Beak started laughing, followed by his crew, “Hop along and you won’t get hurt.”

One of the scavs pulled a large knife from under the table. Animals backed away from the table, two bovs sitting at the table left. The scav with his wing under the table stood and flipped the table. Hook Beak dropped to the ground and the table, cards, and chips flew past him. Yoshi, surprised, dove to the left. Caesar drew his stun stick, jamming the tip in the long neck of the scav with the knife. He let out a loud, piercing screech as he fell to the ground.

Table flipping scav spun, swinging at Caesar, forcing him to hop back. Hook Beak stood up, reaching for a knife at his waist. Yoshi bounced forward jamming her stun stick into his chest. Hook Beak squawked loudly. Up against Hook Beak, she kicked his left leg out; together they crashed to the floor among the cards and chips.

Ducking under another wild swing, Caesar smashed his stun stick into the scav’s wing and followed through with another stun stick smash to the gut. The scav squawked loudly as he fell to the floor.

“Yosh, you alright?” Caesar asked while putting cuffs onto both of the scavs at his feet.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she answered with a smile. “Told you this would be easy.”

“They were drunk and we ambushed them.”

“Easy, like I said.”

Games We Play: My Little Pony Tails of Equestria

Another apology, my arm is still hurting and the medicine causes me to sleep way more than I normally do. Soon enough all will return to normal. I have the next installment of Puddles and Whiskers and Menagerie almost ready to go. Why am I not finishing them? Because the gamer dad in me is extremely excited about My Little Pony Tails of Equestria by Shinobi 7 and River Horse.

I have tried all of the kids lives to get them involved in games. There are so many positives to play games at all ages. Because I am an uber gamer I have introduced every type of game to our children; card games, collectible card games, deck building, dice, miniature, strategy games and anything else you can think of. The only type of gaming that has not been successful is roleplaying games.

There are very few roleplaying games marketed for children. While our children are interested in fantasy and science-fiction the amount of work for a typical role playing game, even those marketed towards children is off putting. Worse, even if they are willing to do the work to make a character and learn some of the rules, the setting is…not marketed towards children or at least their attention span.

Tails of Equestria is…great. The book is covered in My Little Pony stills and artwork, making everything immediately recognizable to anyone who has watched the show, seen the movies, or read the comic books.

Character creation is simple, pick a pony type-earth, pegasus, or unicorn, sorry no alicorns. Earth ponies are stout, pegasus can fly, and unicorns have magical abilities. Pick an element of harmony, think alignment, but more relatable than alignment has ever been. Then pick body or mind preference, is your character strong or smart (this is selling the two attributes short, but gets the point across). Pick a talent and a quirk, talents are abilities a pony has and quirks are things that set ponies apart, usually negative such as afraid of heights. Finally draw and color your pony and their cutie mark. For those drawing challenged like me there are character sheets with pony outlines coming soon.

Game mechanics are simple, the Storyteller establishes a difficulty number, the Pony Character (PC) rolls a die or two. If the number is equal or great the challenge is overcome. Yes, there are rules for fighting or Scuffling. However, scuffling is the last resort, overcoming challenges and obstacles other ways are preferred.

Teamwork is encouraged throughout the book. There are plenty of ways ponies can work together from working as team (everyone rolls and take the best result) to tokens of friendship. Tokens of friendship are beads or gems each pony character gets at the start of an adventure. Cash the tokens in for rerolls, to automatically pass a test, or better yet share the tokens with fellow ponies to aid them.

I was impressed with the writing. I know I can hand Tails of Equestria to either of my kids and they can understand all of the concepts. Information is kept together with clear page references to where you can find the information.

So why am I so impressed? Tails of Equestria is the kind of roleplaying game that children can sink their teeth into with quick character creation, mechanics easy to understand and implement, and best of all the setting is recognizable and easy to get into (no need to try to explain what a bugbear is), children only need to have seen My Little Pony.

Puddles and Whiskers, Dinner Conversations

Previously.

Dinner Conversations

Puddles watched Doctor Mill try to conceal his surprise at the sight of them.

“Not what you were expecting?” she asked as she sat down.

Sitting down Doctor Mill, “I..I was…”

“We get that all of the time,” Chuck said as he sat down, putting the case next to his chair.

“CAH takes an unconventional approach as you can see,” Whiskers gestured to the three of them. “You were probably expecting a team of cymean technicians.”

Taking a sip from his wine, “Yes. I mean, that is who always shows up at these meetings and…”

“They prattle on for hours about the technical specs,” Chuck interrupted.

“Exactly,” Doctor Mill enthusiastically agreed.

“We won’t bore you with details you can research yourself or better yet, read the brochure,” Whiskers said with a toothy smile.

Doctor Mill laughed, and then they all shared in that laugh.

“Shall we order dinner?” Puddles asked when the laughter died down.

While waiting for their orders, “How did you find me?” Doctor Mill asked.

Puddles looked at Whiskers, “That’s easy,” Chuck replied, “you are one of the top twenty Doctors in Stroud who order augment arms and hands.”

“That makes sense.”

Whiskers tail relaxed. Puddles breathed a quiet sigh of relief into her wine as she took a sip.

“So, what do you have to offer me? Other than a fine dinner,” Doctor Mill said with a laugh.

“That’s a good one Doctor,” Whiskers replied. “I think you will like our wares. Our chief technician will give you the details,” Whiskers finished gesturing to Chuck.

Setting the case on the table, Chuck opened the case towards Doctor Mill. Resting in custom padded compartments, three augmented hands and a selection of chips. Lights in the case illuminated all of the hands causing the chrome to shine bright, casting little rainbows across the case and table. Doctor Mill leaned forward inspecting the hands.

“These don’t look that different. Nice chrome job, but standard augments,” Doctor Mill indicated with some disappointment.

“Oh crap,” Puddles muttered.

“Excellent eye Doctor. These are indeed standard augments, manufactured by other companies,” Chuck jumped in. “Before you say anything allow me to point out the chips.”

“Chips?”

“Yes, chips. CAH does sell augments, but what CAH specializes in is modifying chips.”

Doctor Mill’s face lite up. Chuck closed the case, returning the case next to his chair as several serv-O droids appeared with their food.

“I’ll explain after the meal,” Chuck said.

Sitting back from their plates, serv-O droids clearing away plates and filling wine glasses, Doctor Mill resumed the conversation, “Can you tell me about the modifying chips?”

Setting his glass down Chuck replied, “Easy enough, as you are aware all augments come pre-programmed.”

Doctor Mill nodded.

“How many times have patients asked for modifications such as stronger, fine motor control, or something more exotic?”

“Always.”

“And the only option you have is to use a different augment, if there is one available.”

“And there aren’t that many options.”

“CAH has been testing modifying chips, to allow doctors such as yourself to have more options to meet patient requests.”

“Really?”

Whiskers made a show of looking at his watch, “I’m sorry to interrupt Doctor. Unfortunately, we have other appointments this evening. We would love to show you how our chips work; do you have a patient who might be in the market for a chip of ours?”

Doctor Mill thought for a moment, “I do have a patient. Can I send you the details?”

“That would be great.”

10-Yards of Closed Captioned Bookends

My apologies for the tardiness, I do endeavor to have a post by noon each day. Unfortunately, an injury to my shoulder kept me up all night and I finally fell asleep early this morning. Then comes life. I try hard to get my work finished before I do other stuff, today was a reverse.

How many of you know what a bookend is?

Please someone raise your hand.

Oh, thank you.

A bookend, for those who do not know, is a device, as simple as an L-shape with the singular purpose of keeping standing books in place. A bookend, as the name implies, is placed at the end of a row of books, both ends if necessary. Bookends come in many shapes and designs, I have a pair of Budhas. I only wanted some simple L-shapes.

Do you want to guess how many places I had to go and how many people I had to ask before I found bookends?

If you guessed two you were two short, on both ends of the equation. I have no clue why bookends are not an item in big box stores. I have even less of a clue why when asked, “Do you know where I can find bookends (or “Where are bookends located?”)?” The response was a confused look, the question “What is a bookend?” or my favorite, a confused look followed by “I think over in (insert section of store where there are no books, furniture, or office supplies).”

Ugh, this is a college town. You know books in college or at least the idea of books go hand in hand with education. Oh well, at least I found bookends, at an office supply store, and I, unlike four other individuals, know what a bookend is.

Next up on the romp through my day, I understand the purpose of closed captioning, to provide text for those who cannot hear or have are hard of hearing. I understand the value of words. Thus, as a writer, I really appreciate closed captioning. That being said…

the scene, mind you this was on a TV at a KFC/Long John Silvers, two semi-naked people in bed staring longingly into each other’s eyes, on screen the following…

“I love you,” says woman.

“I will never let you go,” says man.

“Mmmm?”

What? “Mmmm” is a pleasure sound. The question mark, changes the tone, if you have heard a Mmmm in pleasure it sounds a lot different than Mmmm? Deaf people may not know the tonal difference, but they too had to wonder about the questioning nature of her pleasure sound to what the male said.

Lastly, do you know what 10 yards of gravel looks like? I didn’t until today and now, once you look at the photo you will too. The children are for scale sake, because without the children it just looks like a pile of dirt. 🙂

 

Puddles and Whiskers, Two Days Later

Previously.

A phone call from “secretary” Puddles to arrange a meeting with Doctor Mill. Another phone call to make reservations at Middle of the World, an expensive restaurant located on the 160th floor of the Frost Spire downtown. Then two days of waiting. Puddles and Chuck continued to follow Red Hand gangers around the city, unsuccessfully. Whiskers spent the time listening to their tales, researching Doctor Mill, and concocting their plan.

Ten minutes before their meeting they pulled into valet parking, wearing a dark business suit Whiskers exited their car swiping his issta-stick over the kiosk. Puddles wearing a matching suit and smart glasses exited from the passenger side and joined Whiskers waiting at the door. Chuck exited last, wearing a light gray suit and carrying a large case of samples.

“Ready?” Whiskers asked.

“We’ll be the best CAH augment sales people we can be,” Puddles replied sarcastically.

“Can’t we just stun him?” Chuck asked for the hundredth time.

Rolling his eyes, Whiskers turned and headed to the restaurant. The doors opened automatically as they approached. Inside, a gilded serv-O droid, greeted them, “Welcome to Middle of the World. How can I assist you?”

“We have reservations for four,” Whiskers answered, “Under CAH.”

“One second,” the droid made a pantomime of searching through a ledger even though all reservations were kept in it’s memory. “Ah,” pointing at a page, “here you are. Reservations for four. One moment,” the serv-O droid snapped its fingers summoning another serv-O droid. “If you will follow Charles, he will direct you to your table. Apparently, one of your party arrived early. Enjoy you meal.”

Charles, slightly less gilded, with a monogrammed towel over one of his thin arms, bowed, “If you will follow me. Today’s specials are…”

Chuck nudged Puddles, “We are way out of our element.”

All around them businesspeople carrying on as if this was a daily event for them, signs of extreme wealth everywhere, from the mem-ware clothing flashing customized corporate logos, personalized designs to the holo-displays from watches and tablets displaying just about anything that any of them could think about. Everywhere they looked a clear view of Middle Stroud unobstructed by the “Cloud” or lanes of traffic, nothing but clean buildings and advertisements.

“I think I saw the latest Kira Designs Smart Watch over there,” Chuck whispered excitedly to Puddles his tail slashing through the air with nerves and excitement.

“Try to act like you have been here,” Puddles replied as cool as she could, her tail twitching.

“…pairing that with our in house red wine,” Charles finished as they approached a table near the rear of the restaurant. “Your table. I see one of your guests, Doctor Mill, is already here. Allow me to pull out your chairs. May I get you any drinks?”

Seated at the table, his back to the restaurant, Doctor Mill sipped from a glass of red wine, while reading the menu. At their arrival, he stood up and extended his hand out between all three of them. Whiskers, grabbed his hand with a paw and shook, “Doctor Mill, a pleasure to meet you.”

Learning By Living

In an effort to convince myself that I am really am on the mend, I spent the day out with the family. A beautiful day of driving to and fro observing the colors and wildlife, although are cows and horses wildlife? For this purpose, as we drove past, yes they can.

I think I have mentioned how having a home, not an apartment, is a constant learning experience for us. I am hoping that by the second go-around with the seasons we will be ready, for example having gone through one winter here I know the following:

  • Get the windows sealed in October
  • Purchase at least 150 pounds of salt before the first snow fall, we have a HUGE driveway
  • Purchase a snow blower, but allow the snow to compact a bit before blowing the driveway
  • Purchase a third shovel, because three people shoveling is much faster
  • Put at least 70 pounds of sand in the trunk of the car for the ice rink that the driveway can become

We moved in at the very tail end of summer last year, thus have no frame of reference. All I know from last year is mow the lawn in stages to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. However, since the warm-up began we have learned the following:

  • We should purchase some form of riding lawn mower, not because we are lazy, but because almost 2 acres is a lot and instead of having to mow for a month and a half or so, going to have to mow for at least four months
  • A hose is a necessity
  • A second rake is a necessity
  • Lots of charcoal for grilling, lots
  • Opening one window does nothing to improve the internal temperature, however opening a second window on the opposite side creates optimal air flow, fans are not a necessity
  • Outdoors is fun when you don’t have to share your backdoors with neighbors less than twenty feet away, thus lawn furniture is a must

I know we are missing out on several other things, I watch the neighbors do “stuff” and I know we are not doing what they are doing, so I wonder what do they know that we don’t know…I guess we will find out over the next few months.

So while we learn we continue to enjoy our time here, the kids attempted to fly kites, mostly running around dragging kites, and we cooked out. Both of these things are activities we have not had an opportunity to do or see and both, especially the kids playing outside, make us smile…even if the kites crashed into trees, were drug along the ground, or in one bizarre case ended up wrapped around one child’s neck…don’t ask us how and we were watching.

An Apology To Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

I’m sorry.

I do not know what I am sorry for as I have no clue what I may have done to earn your ire, but your ire is plain to see.

I know that I should not trust the heretics who claim to predict what you all mighty Mother Nature can and will do over the next seven days. I allowed their honeyed words to poison my eyes and other senses. I believed their silvered words of warmer, spring, and sunshine when only you oh benevolent one Mother Nature can make these words true.

That allowed their lies to bedevil me, to trick me, to deceive me has caused me and mine great inconvenience. Had I only listened to my senses I would not have crossed Mother Nature. Low, in her wisdom she has sought to correct each of my transgressions.

With the assistance of my daughter we established a windmill, light-up flower shrine to Spring before Mother Nature was ready to announce Spring, she punished us with snow

Seeking to better our cooking options we unwisely purchased a new grill, Mother Nature punished us with three days of rain and snow

Thinking Mother Nature’s wrath had passed, we built the grill, two more days of rain

Surely, Mother Nature has passed enough judgment upon us; unfortunately, hearing the sly words of the weather heretics speaking in her name, we purchased three “perfect” pieces of steak to grill; five days of rain and cold weather

Understanding I have displeased Mother Nature, I await better days, unfortunately my time with the weather heretics was not over and I listened to their toxic words, convincing me that warmer days were arriving soon I had the furnace turned off, we have been cursed with cold weather since…the glares and accusations from family hurt more than any hailing would

Attempting to please Mother Nature with our devotion to her cause we purchased a bird feeder, the cold weather remains, birds eat all of the food, and crash into the windows from time to time

I have no idea how much longer Mother Nature will remain angry with me for my transgressions; I have turned away from the untrustworthy weather heretics pretending to preach what glorious Mother Nature will do over the next seven days and have returned to the old ways of looking out my window and stepping outside. Until she removes her ire from me I await, patiently, better days

With sincerest apologies, your devoted weather watching patient believer who is very sorry for crossing your path by listening to the weather heretics and establishing signs of Spring before you were ready to announce Spring yourself hopefully you find this apology sufficient, if not send me a sign of what penance I need to perform to enjoy your magnanimous beauty and bounty.