I am an indulgent parent.  At times too indulgent, so I feel, but I also feel that our children should have every opportunity to attempt, try, and experience as many things as possible and when they come to me with something, if I can, I am more than happy to indulge.  This morning and last night were two more indulgences, but before I get to those, for those curious about past indulgences I present to you the following links.

Inspired By The Big Bang Theory

We love the Big Bang Theory and because of that show the following things have happened, not always with success, but without that show there would have been no Indian food, which this family loves so much.  There would not have been playing Talisman, Pathfinder Role-playing, or Dungeons and Dragons role-playing.  All three of which lead to our favorite game Pathfinder Adventure Card Game…well there were plenty of other games along the way, but the Big Bang Theory started the ball rolling.  Lest I forget, the nausea inducing Halo experiment and Mario Kart.

The show also got both children interested in science more than they already were.  With Barb, their mother, working her way through Pharmacy school she is more than happy to indulge the children about science, especially if she can show them a thing or two.  Although sometimes I have to stop her from showing them too much.

Star Wars and Star Trek

Our boy was the first of the children to appreciate the greatness that is both of these culturally important franchises.  Then our girl got involved, interestingly enough not through me, our boy, or Barb, but because of the Big Bang Theory.  Our boy is more of a Star Wars fan, having sat with me through all of the movies and many a Friday and Saturday watching the Clone Wars.  Hell we were both so pissed with the ending of the series and both so uber happy when Netflix released Season Six to finish up most of the series right.  Our girl liked Star Trek more.  Although she thinks both could benefit more from “girls who kick butt.” I happen to agree.  Both of these things coalesced in our failed attempts to play X-wing and our hilarious at time fun Star Trek Attack Wing Games.

Both, much to their mother and my dismay, have been resistant to Firefly and Serenity, still I plug away at the Star Wars Edge of the Empire rpg, just in case.

And Now for Pikmin and Toes

This morning I indulged my boy, by listening to his 35 minute long explanation, with physical demonstrations, of Pikmin 3.  I love my boy, but I have zero interest in Pikmin 3 or at least I did until his passionate performance this morning, which cut through the morning fog and got me adding Pikmin 3 to my play this for the winter.

Hours earlier I indulged my girl when I let her do this to my toes…while you cannot tell, I was able to get a coat of glow-n-the-dark paint on each toe.




I “Knew” What Was Here Before I Read What Was Here (edited)

Recently, if you have been following along, at the insistence of my children I picked up the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Box.  I was not going to pick the set up before they expressed a desire to try role-playing yet again.  Word to the Pathfinder (Paizo) people, get your game on Big Bang Theory. I cannot express how many games the kids have seen on that show and wanted to try; where before that show they only wanted to play video games.

I stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons during the 3rd edition, having played Dungeons and Dragons since the blue cover era.  I stopped playing because I found other games that captured my interest more and because the changes, rapid fire based on the number of cheap books that were slapped together and tossed out to the gaming masses, that were happening to the game.

When the Fourth edition was announced, our group gave the game a try and universally hated the experience.  Role-playing converted into a board game with video game touches read great, but played like crap.  So, I have with the exception of Fourth Edition for several games, have not thought about or touched anything Dungeons and Dragons for a long time.  Here I was a few days ago cracking open the Starter Box and…

How can I explain this?  I “knew” that the game would not be any good.  I “knew” that nothing had changed.  I “knew” a lot about the contents of this Starter Box without having actually read anything.  Then I cracked open the rule book and started to “read,” but I wasn’t really reading, I was skimming over the text.  I was skimming because there were a ton of familiar terms and concepts.  And why shouldn’t there be, the game is slightly less old than me.  I was skimming looking for new stuff.  This was doubly stupid for the following reasons, when you skim odds of a reader finding the new is diminished and because how long had passed since I last read a Dungeons and Dragons book?  A long time, so how could I possibly know what was new or changed?  I couldn’t.

But here I was completely “positive,” that because I had previous experience with this system, that I “knew” the system.  That is when I realized that for me, and later other gamers, there are a lot of pre-judgments and prejudicial attitudes attached to new editions of old games.  The last dozen new games that I have had in my hands here is what I did:

  • I read the rule book and all materials from cover to cover.
  • I made notes, where I had questions.
  • I re-read everything.
  • We play the game with the rule book nearby.
  • After playing, I go back to the rule book to address any issues that cropped up during play

I knew because I had never seen the game before that I needed to learn the game, which means reading and reading carefully the rule book.  Yet, here I was with a new edition of a game, a game that I have not touched in many years, treating the game like I had just bought a new copy of an old rule book.  Why was I doing this, because I had played the game before and “knew” nothing changed because that is what I had heard or “knew” as well.

Later a friend of mine was asking other people on Facebook about the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Box. While there were a few people like me who had realized that they should treat this edition as a new game, because that is what a new edition signifies, there were more people who dismissed the Starter Box out of hand because there was “nothing new” or some other reason.  No mentions, other than mine, of plans to play the game. And only one person other than me, mentioned anything at all to indicate that they had actually read, as in carefully read, the rule book.

Thus with my head clear I began to read, actually read and take notes, this Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Starter Box.  I can say, that there is a lot of the familiar, but that is to be expected.  How the familiar is presented is done in a clearer style than I have ever seen before.  Information that I remember being spread all over several books is now together making comprehension a lot clearer.  There is new material.  New ideas, new concepts, new rules, and new ways of presenting familiar rules.  I have to say that I am impressed.  Here is the kicker, until more bad guys are released the Starter Box is only good for so long, but if bad guys and additional loot is released, the Starter Box and Basic Rules (a partial version of the Basic rules come in the Starter Box, but the full version of the Basic rules are free online) will carry many a gaming group for many years.  I still remember carrying my blue covered editions around playing impromptu Dungeons and Dragons games for years after the Advanced stuff started coming out and I plan on carrying this box around campus for the year (mine will also have whatever cookbook or cooking related book stuffed inside the box just in case a game does not erupt around me).

Generating A Headache

I have a headache this big…damn, you can’t see how far apart my hands are, then again if I am typing this my hands can’t really be that far apart…I have a giant headache. Why do I have a giant headache?  Because today was character generation for Dungeons and Dragons.  That sounds bad and the process was before I threw my hands up in the air in frustration, but not with the character generation system that, as far as we got, seemed quite workable.

I tried to convince the kids to use the pre-generated characters.  I really did.  I am not a fan of pre-generated characters, except when newbies to roleplaying or children are involved, then I am a fan as pre-generated characters allow for quick, easy, and fast immersion into the game.  But no, the kids were insistent that they be allowed to create characters.  After all, according to their logic they made character for Pathfinder, thus they should be able to make characters for Dungeons and Dragons.  What neither seemed to remember or was willing to admit too is that Barb and I made their Pathfinder characters based on what they told us they wanted to play. Thus we made them pre-generated characters.

With the ideas of an “elf with a great sword who hates bows” and “can I play a girl elf” we set out.  I cracked open the rules, handed out character sheets, and pencils.  We began with the first section, race which was obviously elf, but what kind of elf, high or wood.  Of course one wants high and the other wants wood.  Now for the writing.

Spell what?


Fine, E…L…F

What are you doing?

You are writing everything down for the girl?

What do you mean you don’t like writing?

My headache kept growing until we finished with elf…meaning we didn’t even get all the way to step 2 which was choosing class.  I understand that our children are young so my irritation is less with their inability to write, but with their unwillingness to listen to me when offered an easier option that would allow them to get to doing what they wanted sooner, you know play the game.

Headache at breaking point, I made a command decision and told them that they would be picking pre-generated characters at least for a little bit.  Then I closed the rulebook to deal with my headache.  The other than that bothered me, well is still bothering me, is that our boy seems to believe that reading and writing are not necessary skills.  In a way I can deal with not liking to write using a pen or pencil, as most things are type oriented now, but reading really got to me.  Part of the reason I am trying roleplaying with them is because reading, writing, comprehension, math, and a whole host of other skills are learned each time we play and because the boy after watching me run a Pathfinder game swears, even now, that he wants to run games.

But, he doesn’t want to read or write.  At their core roleplaying games consist of three things: reading, writing, and imagination.  He has imagination in spades, the other two…crossing my fingers.

At the Beginning Again and Happy About That

Preparations for taking on Rise of the Runelords for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game are underway.  We needed a break from when we finished the whole shebang to recover from the retirement of our characters to start again.  We are starting again even though we know in around a month the next adventure path, Skulls and Shackles, will be here.  Honestly, we miss playing the game and our girl needs to see how the game is played from the ground up unlike when she joined our last game near the end and got handed an leveled character.

We have our characters picked out and the decks were just built, but laundry and a few other projects has put the first scenario on hold until later tonight.  After being told for the 100th time that he could not play his barbarian again, our boy choose Ezren the magic-user.  Hopefully this provides him the mental challenge that Amri the Barbarian did not.  Our girl immediately choose Merisiel the FEMALE elven rogue.  Barb choose Seelah the paladin because she has been playing a cleric for so long, but wanted to be able to fight better.  Since I have been doing nothing but support characters, I choose Valeros the fighter so that I could be directly in the action and still provide support to other characters.

Building decks for beginning characters is a sad affair after you have played through the whole adventure path and were used to +3 weapons and items that practically did the little things for you.  There were a few comments of, “A longsword? What do I do with that?” Fine that came from me.  Having to hold Blessing of the Gods was disappointing to all of us, well not our girl she never had to deal with them, there were a couple comments about remembering when one of us finally got rid of our last Blessing of the Gods.

I just finished setting up the first scenario, now once everyone gets their chores done we can get back to adventuring.

Speaking of adventuring there has been renewed talk of roleplaying.  Our last roleplaying game, Pathfinder, died because of a few things: lack of time, at the time we were playing all of us were juggling school; complexity, our girl found the game too complex and lost interest; and our boy wanted to constantly change his character-almost all of them started with “and a great sword.”  The only thing I can think that has them thinking roleplaying again was that they were watching Big Bang and the characters on the show were playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Which is what they wanted to play.

Thankfully, and I do mean thankfully, the new edition basic rules are a free download. The rules are character generation and the rules.  No monsters or treasure, but enough for me to read and see if basic is more simple than what we had tried.  Don’t get me wrong I really like the Pathfinder rule set, but admittedly there was more to keep track of than the kids were ready for, and this was with Barb and I helping and cutting down on the amount of information they needed to pay attention to.  After reading through the basic rules I am not sure that they will do any better with these rules, but they did give me that nostalgic flashback to the blue box of Dungeons and Dragons (yes I am that old that I owned (thanks mom) for a long time the original blue covers, not the red covers that came afterwards).

So while we are building our character decks I asked the kids what they would like to play, if-when, we try roleplaying again.

Our girl, “Are there girls?”

Our boy, “I want to play an elf, in heavy armor with a great sword.”

Ugh…headache already.


Someone Showed Us Something

Trip1Before I get to today let me tell you that Free RPG Day was interesting if an abbreviated experience.  We arrived at the Frozen Orc shortly after open to find that since our last visit they had rearranged the place making the entire place more open and inviting.  This was a huge improvement over the cramped previous visit.  I found the two things I wanted to purchase, Zombie Dice 3-a huge yellow 12-sided die and a Klingon D7 cruiser for Star Trek Attack Wing and then we got to the Free RPG Day stuff.  I picked up quick start rules for Shadowrun and Battletech, a Pathfinder Module, and best of all we got a copy of the promo Goblin Pirate for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  We talked to the shop keeper for a few minutes about a Borg centric Star Trek Attack Wing event that had our boy very interested.  Then we went wandering around town…which found us in a pharmacy that had the old time feel to it.  While Barb ooohed and ahhhed about the wood paneling and lack of bullet proof anything the kids drew on a chalk board, thus the pic of a cat and sun.


Trip2Normally we are the ones showing people places and things.  Today we were the ones shown and we are very thankful that we have met someone, Amanda, who can show us stuff we have not seen around here.  Admittedly when she was telling us about a park in Paris, town up from where we are about 10 minutes not in France, our thought was along the lines of “Sure another park.” But then she mentioned fish and ducks and we were there.

Roughly ten minutes from here is Paris park or something along that name, which used to be a fish hatchery, now closed, but plenty of fish and ducks.  We have driven past this park several times coming from some place else and always commented that it looked like a nice park, but nothing worth stopping for, we were wrong.  A short walk from the entrance of the park are the fish ponds, a series of connected ponds with what looked to be rainbow trout of various sizes in them.  Younger fish at the front of the park and by the middle of the park dinner sized fish.  Sorry, they were awesome looking fish and very responsive to feeding and following people, but there was part of me wondering how many people I could feed off of one or two of them.

Trip6Amanda had told us there were ducks and there were two sitting right there, but she insisted that there were more in back and that they would be interactive.  She also insisted that the “bitch, who left her laundry in the dryer was…” Just remember the laundry and ducks.  Fish food was bought one quarter at a time and tossed to the fishes who were all to happy to eat the food.  Trust me these fishes were not starving by any measurement, but they ate like they were.  A few minutes of feeding the fishes and then we started to head to the back of the park where the ducks were.

Trip4There were ducks in back, after we passed a small Effifel tower on the top of a hill, some really nice looking orange flowers, and some large, but empty ponds.  The ducks were totally uninterested in us or the duck food, once again bought a quarter at a time.  No matter where the food was thrown the ducks looked at the food, then us, and then went back to doing duck things; paddling, preening, sitting, sleeping, and generally being aloof.  There was a goose and a baby duck, but none of them were having a damn thing to do with us.

Trip3Bored with the bored with us ducks we headed back to the fish who did appreciate our efforts.  We turned around to see a kid toss in some duck food and the ducks went nuts.  Stupid ducks.  The fish were more than happy to see us again.  A few more minutes of this before Amanda’s son invited us to ice cream, said “ice king.”

Which is how we found ourselves two minutes down the road at Pizza in Paris, which also sold ice cream.  A small place with a good vibe, very friendly service, a large fan, and some of the best ice cream we have had since we moved here.  Even better they served pizza and while we didn’t get any this time we saw, smelled, and read enough that we are going back.  Ice cream finished, fun had, we said our goodbyes, see you soons, and headed to our respective homes.

Where I got a text from Amanda, she couldn’t finish her laundry as she had used her quarters feeding the fish and ducks.  At least the fish appreciated her laundry money. 🙂

Garbage Monster Card

So there we were setting up the next scenario for our daily Pathfinder Adventure Card Game when the boy says, “Can we do my adventure this weekend?” I responded, “We can, but you haven’t finished up all of the information yet.” Sad face, but knowing look. He knows that he has to at least understand a stat block of a goblin before he can take us through his adventure.  His adventure is crazy. Especially for a role-playing game. His adventure starts out with goblins, an ogre, then a silver dragon on the top of the castle, did I mention this takes place in one castle? Then demons, daemons, angles, skeletons, a garbage monster, and finally giant ants.  Yes, I wrote that in the right order.

PZO9210-OtyughKnowing my boy, I don’t expect him to get all of the work necessary to run his adventure done this weekend, but I know that he could paw through the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game cards and create his own adventure for us to play through.  In fact this idea sounded pretty damn good to me.  Anyone of us could create our own adventures, but what about things that aren’t in the game yet?  Damn, the boy would most definitely want his garbage monster as a card and I know for a fact his goblin chief would not be the same goblin chief that already is a card.  I know this, which means he would quit creating an adventure.

Then I got thinking about how I would set up an Adventure Path and I would want to have cards that represented the villain getting stronger with each successful escape.  Isn’t that what villains are for, to make the lives of character’s more interesting?  That is why I have villains who are smart and capable in my games.  Sure I have villains of the week, but trust me there is always some big bad in the background.  I would want that as a card or in this case a series of cards.  “See this villain is the upgraded version of the villain you fought in the first adventure. This villain is out for revenge.”

thKQ84EBUDAlas, creating our own cards, which is what this is all about, seemed like a major pain in the ass. I have tried to create cards for established games before and without a template the whole process is just a pain.  After the game was over, Ripnugget was defeated, we talked some more about our boy or any of us making our own adventures. The general consensus was yes, and let’s do this, and as expected our boy wanted to know if there was a silver dragon card and so on.

Being a good parent I headed over to the Pathfinder site to hit up the forums hoping that someone had created some blank templates or had some advice and there was a link I had not seen before, community created blank templates.  Right now my printer is chugging away spitting out blank monster templates for our boy to go crazy on.  Garbage monster here we come.


Do Nothin’, Readin’, and Writin’

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, Barb (mother of our children), and any mother’s who happen to be reading this post.

I did nothing or I should elaborate I did nothing that I had to do.  I was under no obligation to do anything.  So I did not.  I played some Disney Infinity with the boy.  I have to say that Disney Infinity is a fun game to play.   You can play each world that is associated with the characters.  You can build your own world with a vast toy or tool box, you can do individual challenges, and so much more.  Think Minecraft with recognizable characters, plus better music.  Game play is not tough, but fun enough to keep boredom from creeping in too fast.  I enjoy playing the story mode, our boy opening toy box stuff to build new worlds, our girl any of the female characters especially Rapunzel who hits people with a frying pan.

After writing a post on the private blog I have been reading.  Mostly gaming stuff.  Once my head clears I will dive back into McLuhan, until my head clears reading Pathfinder material is about as close to having my mind blown as I am in the mood for right now.  At the moment I am reading stuff for enjoyment, adventure ideas, and to round out the Runelords adventure.  I am hoping, now that we are done with school to be able to get us started roleplaying next weekend or so.  My thoughts being a refresher adventure or two before diving into the epic tome that is Runelords, plus that should give me some time to refresh my memory and get my notes in gear.

I have been giving my what makes a writer question a lot of thought. *

At the moment I am leaning away from focusing on jobs and careers.  I am leaning towards qualities and characteristics that I think writers have.

Attention to detail or Detail oriented: Writing is a process that requires the writer to pay attention to the details, such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, and topicality to name a few.  Skill levels vary, but being detailed oriented seems to be a writer characteristic.

Creative: Writers are creative or should be creative, again this varies from person to person, but the larger a person’s vocabulary the more creative that can express themselves.

Organized: Organization varies greatly, but to write a writer has to be organized in some fashion, even if that fashion is only understanding how to organize words into sentences.

You can see the direction I am heading, as I get more thoughts put together I will continue to share them with you in the hopes that more people share what they think makes a writer.

* that post is stickied because the question is important to me and my research, if you do have any thoughts about what makes a writer please share them in the comments of this or that post.