I Wonder If This Is What Librarians Go Through

It started with a simple thought, “What if I move this there, making room for that to be moved there, which would free up space for that to go there, which would open up space for games poorly stacked on shelves there to be properly stacked, making not one but two rooms look a lot better.”

See simple.

Even better all of this would get done in time for me to write the next installment of Menagerie.

Yeah, not so simple.

We have a bookshelf with what is left of our collection of movies. I don’t know why anyone owns movies anymore, physical copies I mean, really I don’t. And this is coming from someone who used to purchase new movies every Tuesday. Then one move to many and that huge collection was reduced in size and reduced again after another move until here we are today with a smaller collection that…collected a lot of dust, but looked…cool isn’t the right word; I have never walked into someone’s place, saw a collection of movies, and thought to myself, “Now this person has/is (insert one of the following intelligent, well-rounded, well-read, interesting, etc. all).” Yet, we had movies on display as if that meant something or because back when having a movie player was a necessity easier to get too, not that we watched a lot of the movies. Nope, purchased for one reason or another and for the most part left to collect dust because Netflix, On Demand, and Cable have made seeing movies a shit tonne easier.

Now books are something to have on display and unlike movies do get used more than one time, especially if the books are cook books, craft books, or game books. And yet, in our “library” are books are crammed onto shelves. This wasn’t the plan when we moved, but necessity of unpacking meant that to make space for other boxes, boxes of books were unpacked onto shelves without any thought about organization. Due to the necessity of keeping places clear for the various bits of maintenance this state of disorganization remained. Internal maintenance of a major size is done for a while.

See where this is going?


Tired of looking at movies nobody watches on display as if they meant something and tired of speaking needless hours searching through disorganized bookshelves I decided this morning, three hours ago as of now, to do the following:

Move the movies to a more compact space while I decide what to do with them

Find all of the cookbooks I use regularly and move them onto a bookshelf that previously held all of my human sexuality books which were moved into the bedroom because while nobody actually looked at the human sexuality books were not as read as the cookbooks.

Next, with an empty bookshelf, find books that would look good on display-Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series-find them, organize them, and put them on the bookshelf that formerly held the movies.

At this moment, I have the movies moved, most of the cookbooks, and so many stacks of books that I finally noticed what time it was.


Nothing To See Here Unless You Live Here

Sorry if you came here looking for your mostly daily dose of one story or another. I am working on more for everything, which will make you happy later. Today however, is about adulting or at least a version of adulting I have heard about.

As you may or may not know we (collective Barb and I) finished 10 years of college (her 10, me 5). Five of those years were spent living on a college campus. Sure our living space was called “family housing,” but if you peruse past blogs you will come to understand that we had a larger dorm room with the various issues of living in a larger dorm room.

One of our issues, furniture. When we moved in we had nothing and thankfully my grandparents got us some starter furniture. That was five years ago and many many hours of abuse from the children. Honestly we did not think much about furniture other than “is that bookshelf going to collapse under the weight of those text books.” In fact, the most commonly purchased piece of furniture, bookshelves. When we moved, before the destruction and give away section of any move, we had 10 or 11 useable bookshelves. This does not include the many bookshelves who met their end under our five year assault of books.

We move here, where we are happy and slowly, but surely the place is built around us in a satisfying manner. We move the furniture that we had. Set up the furniture we had. And declared all was well. Focusing on Barb passing her licensing exam and the attendant garbage of post move we really did not give any thought to our furniture. And then we did…

Most of our furniture was college cheap furniture designed to last for a limited time and that time was closing in. What to do? A friend of ours suggested that because our circumstances were improving we purchase “adult furniture,” “We already have adult furniture have you seen our…oh you meant…nevermind…we got this…”

except when we started looking at real furniture and non-adult, but adult furniture two things stood out to me:

  1. real furniture is expensive
  2. non-real furniture often appeals to me more

I do not like or want to spend hundreds of dollars on a couch or entertainment center. I don’t. Furniture gets damaged in a house with two children and visitors. I don’t want to live in a museum where nobody can have any fun. I also do not like to spend hundreds of dollars on one item that I sit on or that a TV sits on.

More importantly, to me at least, the faux build it  yourself furniture such as Sauder looks better to me, perhaps this is because this is what I have looked at for years now, but more importantly than looks, has things I want that real furniture seems to lack. Extra drawers, doors, shelves, and such. Nothing major, but if I can get what I want and pay less, why not?

And here we are today, we picked up a lot of DIY furniture. Funny story, when we saw the stuff in the stores we really didn’t think about how it would fit in the home. We needed a new entertainment center, awesome, this one is a foot longer; sitting at home looking at where we thought it would go, “Crap, how do we make this fit?” So pardon our dust and the lack of a story for a day while we figure out where all of this non-adult adult faux DIY furniture goes. 🙂

500 and 1 Words At A Time: Story Creation, My Way

From time to time I share with you the inner workings of how this writer works. Most recently in the form of Puddles and Whiskers from rough draft, to edits, to revisions, to the current stage of course corrections, expansions, and general story related stuff. You may not have realized that if you joined in recently. Something I have not shared is how I work my way through creating a story, this is on my mind because of my recent creation Worldship Horizon.

Everything begins with an idea. In this case, Chris asked if I wanted to collaborate on a roleplaying game. I do. Unfortunately, we have a rich history of starting and going nowhere fast. Not wanting to go this route we set on the idea of a space ship doing the Battlestar Galactica/Enterprise/whatever space opera thing. In essence creating a self-contained setting for the game.

I wrote down all of the types of ship in space I knew of, along with examples, and set about coming up with something I had not heard about and interested me. The idea: humanity conquered by an alien race long enough ago that nobody remembers a time of freedom is used by the aliens as a initial colonization fleet. Each worldship has an army of 10,000 troopers, 10,000 colonists, and all of the supplies necessary. Sent to coordinates of a planet the worldship is to establish a colony or conquer the planet and establish a colony. With that in mind, the Horizon is sent off, arriving somewhere else and immediately in danger before anyone has time to figure out that they are not in the right spot.

And that is where the idea ended and I made my writing mistake. I should have written out more before going all serial story. I did not because in my head there were a few scenes and events to write out. Great, because I can piece them together and weave together a coherent narrative while giving out details about the world or world building. That did not or more correctly, has not happened.

Oops. Normally, I write out a ton of material before I show people what I am working on. I write out the idea. I flesh out the with details large and small. I know what the characters, at least the initial batch of them, look like and sound like. I spend a lot of time writing out details that may or may not end up in a story, but are in my head and help shape everything written.

Rereading the initial pages, the intro is what I had in mind, although I see several ways to do the intro better. After the intro things go off the rails or at least into territory that is too familiar sounding to me and my original idea did not have any of that, which makes the familiar feeling all the more distressing.

What do I do? As of now, notes. Back to the drawing board. Keep the idea, that is sound. Everything else we shall see.


Puddles and Whiskers, Wash & Dry Brush Phase 1

Monday, I wrote about the connection between miniature painting and writing for me. At the end I included the first part of Puddles and Whiskers. Today, the first part from Monday along with the next section. Each phase of writing, improves the story a bit more. The wash and drybrush phase is all about messing up through expansion and revision, in both sections I added new details, cleared up some writing, and worked to tie everything together better. Its a process. 🙂

The Present…


At the sound of a frying pan bouncing off a skull, everyone in the ramshackle room stopped fighting, for a brief second. Pouncing back from her fallen foe, golden furred Puddles brandished her frying pan above her head, drawing her heavy pistol at the same time and shooting a charging black and red clad mook.

“Give up will ya!” Puddles shouted at the room full of mooks.

Gray and white furred Whiskers knee-slid underneath the sloppy punch of a mook, gutting the mook with his katana. Popping up from the slide, Whiskers flicked his katana clean of blood, and sought another challenger. Whiskers did not have to wait long; knocking smaller mooks aside with swings of a large pipe, a giant over-muscled mook lumbered straight towards Whiskers. Adjusting his grip to a low-position, Whiskers waited for the moment to strike the perfect blow.



Three large bloody holes appeared on the over-muscled mook’s chest. For a brief second, the mook looked surprised before falling over. Curved knives drawn, three more mooks jumped over his body to take his place.

“You’re welcome!” Puddles shouted at Whiskers.

Whiskers shot Puddles an irritated glare before returning his attention to the mooks. The perfect moment gone, Whiskers charged the mooks. Sidestepping right at the last second, Whiskers swung his katana upwards, gutting the mook on the right as they passed each other. A half step forward, a downward stroke, followed by a quick slice to the right and the other two mooks fell clutching their wounds.


…other than their labored breathing, the room was silent. Puddles strolled over trash and dead mooks to Whiskers. Wiping his blade clean on a dead mook, Whiskers faced Puddles, his ears back giving extra body English to his irritation with his longtime partner.

Pointing at the over-muscled mook, “What was that about?”

Puddles shrugged. Her spotted tail waving lazily in an S-pattern that Whisker’s knew so well; her “Oops, did I do that,” when she knew what she had done shrug.

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun,” Puddles said over her shoulder, holstering her pistol while stepping over mooks on her way to the doorway, her tail swishing away as if she did not have a care in the world.

Tail lashing, Whiskers stood for a moment, gripping his katana tightly the holo-etching flaring bright along the blade, before sheathing in one smooth motion. He gave the over-muscled mook one last look before following Puddles out of the room into the refuse and graffiti covered hallway. The floor cocked downward, ceiling tiles hung ready to fall at any moment. Halfway down the hallway, alarms began to sound and the few hallway lights went from white to emergency red.

Ears upright, alert, Puddles looked at the ceiling, “Seems like and odd security system for a gang.”

“Took them long enough,” Whiskers said to Puddles.

“I thought we made more than enough noise,” Puddles replied.


“Yes you.”

Whiskers caught Puddles making her infamous, to him, “Who me” gesture; ears forward, eyes wide, and arms held out. He smirked.

“If you weren’t such a push over we wouldn’t be here,” Puddles said while peeking around a corner.

Three days ago...

“I need your help to find my daughters,” Doctor Dan said.

“Please, have a seat and tell us,” Whiskers said gesturing towards his side of their shared desk.

As soon as he shuffled through front door looking pathetic and desperate in his disheveled tan wage slave clothing, short white hair a mess and unshaven face, Puddles mentally nicknamed him Doctor Dan. No idea why, but nicknames for new people was a habit of hers.

Puddles could not make up her mind what bothered her more. After listening to him for five minutes, she understood why Doctor Dan looked disheveled; still have some self-respect, especially when seeking out help. A quick shake of her head to snap herself out of her current headspace. Doctor Dan was a potential client after all and her feelings about the client, as Whiskers was fond of saying, was not important…or something like that. Doctor Dan reeked of desperation, a very sharp tang in the air. Yep, that was what bothered her more. Whiskers elbowed Puddles in the ribs. She did her best to look attentive.

“…and where did you say your daughters are?” Whiskers asked.

“With their boyfriends,” Doctor Dan mumbled at Whiskers clean desktop, “somewhere in Tumbledown.”

“What?” Puddles asked a bit too loud; she was losing her patience with him.

“What my associate meant to say, was could you repeat that,” Whiskers coached Doctor Dan.

Puddles let out an exasperated noise, “Yeah that.”

Doctor Dan looked at both of them, desperation obvious, “Their boyfriends live in Tumbledown. Near the corner of 5th and East Kira. My girls,” his voice caught as he tried to contain his emotions, “left a week ago. I haven’t heard from them. The police…”

“Won’t do a thing,” Puddles interrupted eager to get him out of the office. “Familiar story. Okay, we’ll take your case.”

“You will?” Doctor Dan surprised.

“Yeah. So let’s talk fees,” Puddles irritation pushing her past his surprise.

Whiskers put a paw on her arm, a sign to slow down or stop. “Perhaps we should look into his case first,” Whiskers said in his calm, “I know something you don’t” tone that irritated the hell out her. Puddles cocked her right ear at him while flattening the left. “Fine, we will talk bill later.”

“But…” Doctor Dan started.

“Yeah, we got this Doc,” Puddles interrupted.

“Some preliminary work and we will have a better idea what we can do for you,” Whiskers said in his business tone, “Is there any additional information you can provide? The more we know the better job we can do for you.”

Puddles loved listening to Whiskers in business mode. Doctor Dan shook his head no. Whiskers stood up gesturing towards the door.

“Allow me to walk you to your car,” Whiskers said.

Watching Doctor Dan’s tan flyer merge into traffic from their office window, Puddles looked at Whiskers, the end of her tail snapping back and forth, she was irritated. “Look into his case? What the hell?”

Leaning against their desk, one-half immaculate, the other half distressed, Whiskers calmly replied, “Did you even pay attention to the location he gave?”

“Yeah I heard, Doctor Dan said something about Tumbledown..”

“Doctor Dan? Another of your pirate nicknames?” Whiskers asked amused.

Puddles turned from the window waving off Whisker’s questions with a wave of her paw. Grabbing her favorite “Mother’s Favorite Kitty” coffee mug, Puddles began to make coffee, “Okay, so he said something about Tumbledown. Want some coffee?”

“A cup sounds great,” Whiskers followed Puddles to the coffee machine, “Name a part of Tumbledown not home to a gang, criminal organization, unregistered, ghouls, or about to collapse at a moment’s notice?”

“Oh that,” Puddles began trying to sound like she knew that all along, “we should look into his case first. I’ll call Chuck to pull data.”

Puddles and Whiskers and Stroud, Bringing It All Together 1

A difficult stage is putting different pieces of a large story together in a manner that is coherent, has a flow, and at the same time maintains the direction I would like. Good example, I want Eth introduced as a sentence or two in Puddles and Whiskers, yet he has his own story and plays a part in the stories of several other characters. Do I insert his tale which is the true introduction to Eth between where arc one currently ends (that is another thing altogether) and the conversation over noodles or elsewhere? Same with Talia’s tale and so on. Below is the first attempt at organizing the parts, this does not include the first arc, or Views of Stroud-and none of these segments have been edited/revised yet (I want the order established first, in case I add details relevant to future segments)

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, let me know in the comments.


Eth’s Tale…

“We have tried.

We have failed.

A family is only as strong as those who take part. Even a family has to let go of those who refuse to work with the family. With this symbolic act, Eth-il-Liccon is no longer a member of the family. He is free to do as he pleases. He will no longer bring shame upon the rest of us. Aliq-tal-ummar.”

A single flame illuminating the room extinguished with a single, soft breath.

Eth woke up with a start; a momentary panic as he tried to remember where he was; blankets tangled around his feet.

A quick breath.

A glance around.

Kicking the sheets onto the floor, Eth realized he was in his bed, in his apartment.

Damn his father.

Damn his family.

Eth hated that dream.

Standing, Eth walked into the bathroom, mentally vowing today would be the day he showed his family he was worthy. Today, first step towards returning home.

An hour later…

Standing in line, Eth mentally screaming, “Why had the deities cursed him today? If this old herg woman could make up her mind and order her coffee, he would not be running late for a meeting. Why were people always getting in his way, making him late?”

Stuck in traffic…

White knuckle, gripping the steering wheel, mentally cataloging the moment, “Are all of the traffic lights working against me? Red light! Red light! Another red light! And this car, this damn Big One Mouse!”

Hating the car given to him to go to the meeting, cursing those he now knew were against him, Eth looked for a path through the gridlock. Spotting an opening, he pushed the accelerator down, nudging the Big One Mouse deeper into traffic.

Another red light!

The car threatened to stall.

Stuck again, Eth looked up, wishing he had a hover or flying car. An angry horn behind him, a space in front of him. Looking at his skin watch, late for the meeting.

Half-an-hour late…

Fuming about the nature of fairness and life being against him, “Are you serious? Even gang-members had better vehicles than his.”

Pulling into a parking spot outside NiHo’s Noodle Shack next to four heavily modified hover bikes. A moving holo-logo Redhand logo, blood dripping on each bike chassis.

“Their bikes did not matter,” he thought as he checked his pockets, “they were gangers and he was part of the Organization. He would show them.”

A brief spike of panic, he couldn’t find the issta-cred-stick. Entering the alley behind NiHo’s, the panic subsided when he found the cred-stick in a different pocket. The stench of the alley causing him to gag slightly. Water, he hoped, dripped down on his head, cymeans had very sensitive scalps, causing him to flinch. He heard rough laughter of four gromathi down the alley. Adjusting his jacket, his very expensive mem-ware jacket, Eth strutted into the meeting.

Minutes later…

“What?” Eth said in a panic, “I came alone. I don’t hear anything.”

Serrated knife in one hand, Eth watched the youngest gromathi gang-member advance. Eth put his hands up, hoping to keep the situation under control; this deal was going bad fast.

“Just a second, can we make the exchange? There is nobody here. Nobody came with me and nobody followed me here. I promise,” Eth said rapidly trying to control the panic and keep that kid away from him.

A gromathi with an augmented arm at the back of the meeting fell over, clutching at his neck. Eth continued to keep his hands up and back away faster from the ganger with the knife. Without warning Eth’s vision vanished, something wet splashed over his face, and slipped at the same time falling onto his knees.

Please don’t let this be the end, Eth thought.

What felt like an eternity later…

“Looks like you owe me again,” John said to Eth, “Quit sobbing, you can get another suit.”


“Who in the hell are you? You’re not militia that’s for sure,” Talia was now standing in front of John her eyes blazing angry, but her voice never got loud, “What did you do, borrow some of your Dad’s old uniform?”

Eth chuckled.

“I..,” John began.

“Don’t bother. I will find out soon enough. You just ruined two months of my work,” Talia seethed with a particular emphasis on my.

“Two..,” John started again.

“I had better not cross paths with you again,” Talia said and the threat was plainly evident.

“But..,” John tried to respond again.

Talia had already turned around and was marching out of the alley. Her hovering sencam pet turned around to look at John and Eth one last time before she rounded the corner.

“You are such a smooth talker,” Eth said sarcastically.

“Shut up Eth,” John snarled, “Now how about you tell me about this deal of yours while we get you cleaned up?


Standing next to John’s car after having walked four city blocks, Eth was wiping off his face with a wet nap. A small pile of crumpled wet naps lay around his feet.

“This is your idea of cleaning up?” Eth asked.

“It’s all I had,” John responded, “Now how about you start talking before I find some reason to turn you in. I’m sure I can find something.”

“There’s nothing to tell. I give them the money and they give me the case. Then I take the case back and get my payment.”

“That’s it?”

“No more, no less,” Eth said, “Now what am I going to tell my boss?”

“Tell them the truth. A crazy bounty-hunter showed up looking for Red Twist. He shot up the place, caught you, questioned you and since you don’t know anything let you go,” John said with some sarcasm.

“Are you serious? That’s the story you want me to tell them, that I don’t know nothing,” Eth said while making air quotes around I don’t know nothing.

“Yeah, it’s the truth and pretty easy to confirm with the Red Hands.”

“You do have something there. Why are you after Red Twist?” Eth asked, “You know what never mind the less I know the less I have to deal with. I’ll send you a bill for the suit.”

“You do that,” John said to Eth’s departing back.

A conversation over noodles…

“We got screwed?” Puddles asked rhetorically.

Whiskers slurped another chopstick full of noodles while shrugging.

Across the table, Eth looked annoyed, “Where is my bowl? Don’t they know who I am?”

Another slurp. Another shrug.

“How is it nobody knows nothing?” Puddles asked pointing at Eth.

“I know a lot of people, but I don’t know everyone,” Eth responded. “You need corporate contacts.”

“You have corporate contacts,” Whiskers responded around another slurp of noodles.

“I thought you knew everyone?”

“Hot and spicy bowl,” the clashing neon color garbed waitress announced, setting the bowl in front of Eth.

“About time,” he said. Picking up a chopstick full of noodles, returning his attention to Puddles and Whiskers, “I do,” emphasizing do, “know a lot of people. The people you two are interested in are beyond me.”

Another slurp.

A conversation in an office…

Wringing her hands, glancing around the office, and generally behaving twitchy, the human woman sitting on the opposite side of their desk irritated Puddles. Her irritation could be traced to the cloying amount of perfume the woman wore or her annoying whining or well just about anything this potential client did. Ever since the “resolution” of their last case, irritation was her standard mood.

“Gathering evidence of your husband’s infidelities, should take us a week,” Whisker said while consulting his data-pad. Sliding the data-pad across his immaculately clean side of the desk, “Sign at the bottom and once the issta transfer is confirmed we will take the job.”

Puddles stifled an irritated grunt, catching cheating spouses-so low rent.

“Thank you so much,” the woman replied, “I hope I am wrong. I love him so much…”

“But you have a hunch,” Puddles interrupted snatching the data-pad back.

Whiskers grabbed the data-pad out of Puddles paw before the data-pad got lost in the mess of her side of the desk, “Thank you Camile. We will be in touch.”

As soon as the door closed, “What nickname did you give this client?”

Another conversation in an office…

“That’s funny,” Tanx’s laughter rumbled around his office, “Haven’t heard that one before.” Another rumbling laugh, “Spacious office, indeed. Detective Orte sent you to me because I might know something? Did I get that right?”

Until sitting in Officer Tanx’s office, Whiskers thought he was tall, staring up at Tanx’s face brought home lots of uncomfortable memories of sitting at the children’s table for holidays. “He thought you might know someone who could answer some questions of ours.”

“And what questions are those?”

Sitting straighter, Whiskers consulted his data-pad, “Recently, an investigation took us into Tumbledown where we found a well-equipped gang defending a clean room.”

“And you want to know who is providing the equipment and clean room?” Tanx interrupted while manipulating his holo-desk display. “Is this your investigation?” Tanx sarcastically asked, enlarging the holo-display; images of several dead gang members and a demolished clean room.

Clearing his throat, thankful Puddles was not there, “Yes. That looks like our investigation.”

“The gangers were members of Black Myst. Nothing special about them, another Tumbledown gang. The personal shield is an Oakenshield model. Again, nothing special. The clean room, by the time investigations arrived, was no longer clean.”

“Let me guess,” Whiskers began, “Nothing special.”

A conversation over…

“Nothing at all?”

“Nothing,” Whiskers replied lazily stirring his bowl of noodles with a single chopstick.

“Some investigators we are,” Puddles said.

“You don’t have the right connections.”

“Shut up Chuck,” Puddles snapped at a black and white cat sitting third.

Setting his chopstick down, “Unfortunately, Chuck is right. We do not have the right connections,” Whiskers interjected.

“Whatever,” Puddles mumbled around a mouthful of noodles.

Ignoring Puddles, Whiskers continued, “We have a few cases to work. I suggest we move on from this and get back to work.”

“I like that idea,” Chuck said.

“Shut up Chuck.”

Talia’s Tale

A pale, elderly man staring out, “I don’t have a problem with criminals getting punished. In fact, I’m all for their punishment.”

“That is the tonight’s final word. This is Talia Knox, signing off. See you tomorrow Stroud.”

“That’s a wrap,” her producer said her ear.

Pushing back from the news desk, Talia mentally summoned her pet, as she walked off stage to her dressing room. Her pet, a small hovering gray ball with the station’s logo on one side, and a blue eye met her at the dressing room.

“Have a good rest?” addressing her pet.

Pet, dipped a bit; a sign she always took as yes.

An evening meeting…

“I need to get out into the city,” Talia announced to the room of managers, producers, and more assistants than she cared to count.

“Do you have a story to pitch?” A producer whose name she did not know asked.

Another producer jumped in, “Your numbers are up. People like you.”

“People love you,” someone else interjected.

And another person and another person; each one louder and more insistent behind the news desk was here future because people loved her now. Maddening. Her pet dipped, touching her shoulder in sympathy from the waves of frustration she was emanating. Shoving the pile of notes aside, Talia grabbed her coffee, sipping slowly eyeballing everyone as they continued to shout her praises over each other.

Pet resting on her shoulder the clamor and din died down, everyone looking at her.

“I need to investigate real stories, not read the news. I know people love me,” sarcasm lacing her words, “but anyone can be a talking head.”


“Yes, I do have a few stories to pitch, an investigative series of reports on the gangs of the city,” Talia started holding up her hand stalling everyone from responding, “We have covered a lot of crime and gang news recently. I am positive the people who love me will love me reporting about gangs and criminal organizations.”

“Criminal organizations?” Someone voiced.

“Which gangs?” Another voice.

“Why not focus on something else, more…what’s the word I’m looking for?” an assistant producer asked.

“The word you are looking for is safe,” Talia replied, edge to her voice, “I do not want safe,” enunciating each word.

“Talia,” her long time producer began, “How much time will you need to bring me a proposal so we have a better idea what you have in mind?”

Pet perked up, hovering above her right ear; sipping her coffee slowly, “Two weeks. Give me two weeks for research.”

Assistant producers conferred with producers who conferred with managers, all of the conversation in hushed tones finally centering on her producer.

“Two weeks,” she said without any emotion.

Looking down…

Establishing shot, panoramic view of Middle Stroud; make sure to get a shot of “The Cloud” and convergence of the elevated highways and flight lanes passing above and below “The Cloud.” On her retina screen, Talia watched her pet take the requested footage; directing her attention down to an alley behind a noodle shop, neon lights from the shop’s sign causing difficulty with the shot. Her pet, a baseball sized grey ball with the channel 18 logo on the side, hovering a few feet to her right, floated further away from her at her mental command. Looking around the ledge, Talia spotted a better location to continue her investigation. Checking her retina screen, between her vantage point and the pet’s completely covering the meeting. Two weeks of investigative working finally paying off; an opportunity to record a Red Hand’s exchange.

Sometime later…

Adjusting her position to relieve the strain from being in one position for so long, Talia’s retina screen flashed; her pet recording four hover bikes entering from the back of the alley. Finally, she thought, watching the bikers park and spread out along the back of the alley, she wondered who they were waiting for.





Stroud Role-Playing Game

Project number two is underway. While working on Puddles and Whiskers, I have been working on a role-playing game. Maybe the distinction is I have taken an old system and applied new skills, which resulted in a new look, new organization, and easier to understand.

The initial issue for me, the age of the file. Old Word files and new Word files do not always agree and on my Surface, most files do not agree at all. I could describe how the file looked when it finally opened; suffice to say words off the margins were easy to deal with.

Instead of fighting with an old program I started from scratch. At first, I thought starting a new file would be a larger pain than it turned out to be. I don’t know about other writers, but I do not enjoy transcribing from paper to screen anymore. Cut-n-paste has spoiled me, plus the amount of space on my desk is not large enough to set up a proper transcription: paper standing up for ease of reading while I type away. And for those wondering, cut-n-paste from old Word to new Word on a Surface did not go so well…thus transcription. 🙂

Happily, today I finished I the first section of the mechanics…rules. I do not like the word rule. Games should be fun. There should be guidelines, examples, and mechanics in place to ensure fun. Especially true for role-playing games where players will find themselves in and out of the “rules” all of the time.

The system is designed for simple and intuitive use (although there are some rough patches still). A simple die rolling mechanic allows players to quickly move through problems their characters encounter. Modifiers are kept to a minimum and designed for ease. For players who want a more complicated or “realistic” system, there are options…not that I have gotten to them yet…but they are there. 🙂

stroud-introductionThis is the first page, a quick introduction to the system and a character. Fast Kick Tommy is used in all of the examples. Using one character for all of the examples ensures familiarity for the reader and allows me to show situations with a character who is not optimized for the example/situation. Included is an explanation of the various parts of a character, which will come in handy throughout the book.

I am uncertain about the use of color. At the moment, the color is restricted to the first few pages. My initial thought was to continue the color scheme throughout the first section, hopefully readers see a color and word and remember the various mechanics. However, a concern is too many colors on a page is distracting instead of a mnemonic device.

stroud-core-mechanicsThis page is the first page of the combat mechanics. In the original file, the combat section topped out at 15 pages long. That is a bit much for anyone to learn and expect to use right off the bat. Some pruning and a lot of thinking about what is necessary, especially for the setting, reduced the page count to four. The rest, if relevant, will become the advanced mechanics; stuff players can use or not, to make the game theirs.

Off to print this back and front to see how the layout looks as a book. 🙂

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Character Tents The Solution You Didn’t Know You Needed

I like to have an organized gaming space, years of being a gamemaster taught me the value of being organized and having an organized space to play. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game challenges those concepts for me.

Don’t get me wrong the game is organized in the box and with the Broken Token insert organized even better: everything for one campaign fits into one box now, cannot beat that. However, as a player things are not as organized as I would like or able to keep. Maybe that is the crux, as I am able to keep.

The giant playmat needs an update. When the playmat was released there was no need for extra spaces on the mat. Then came ships in Skulls and Shackles. Wrath added spots for servitor demons, redemption card, army cards, and so on. Who knows what Mummy’s Mask will add. The gist being, there are many times when play areas are cluttered with cards needed for a scenario that have no spot on the mat…not that we haven’t created spots, but sometimes there are more cards than empty spaces.

20161001_135331My personal space starts out clean; playmat in center, character sheet to one side, deck and character card in their right spots, and then my hand of cards. We play with open hands, makes teaching the game easier, makes reminding people of cards they have easier, and in general makes the game more social. A few hours into playing and my space is a cluttered disaster as dice migrate into my area, cards get shuffled around.

By the end of a session I am using Post-It-Notes to keep track of my character’s stats because the character sheet is buried. If there was only a way to save some space. We tried a few things, as you can see our character sheets are folded in half and in sheet protectors. Still, laying there takes up space and if we fail to get crafty when our character’s get roles we have to flip the page back and forth. Totally, minor annoyance.

20161001_135356Then…[drum roll]…I stumbled upon a forum post where people were raving about character tents a person created. Sure sure I thought, a standee for my character how cool, but not needed. Then I did some further reading and hit the link for ESG Labs Pathfinder Support page and [holy sounding music] found the solution to some of my problems.

It’s not a character standee, it is a tri-fold with all of the relevant character information on one side: Skills, Powers, Card List, Favorite Cards, and Role should you be at that point. There are multiple versions per character-the base version and one for each role. Awesome. The flip side is character illustration, name, and so on.

Even better, Parody (forum screen name-link to forum post), has created versions for each of the boxed sets, character decks, and promotional characters. All for free. Now, as you can see, I take up less space. Leaving more space for card and dice creep and should my side become too fouled with cards and dice, my character tent remains visible.

Play Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, highly recommend.