It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I’ve been editing, which is certainly an important part of writing, but haven’t been working on anything new in the last couple days. Feeling the itch, I’ll dump some random thoughts here, clear the old brain-pan in the hopes of making room for the new.
We finished D&D Gamma World Saturday. Considering my tenuous comprehension of the rules, I’m surprised the character survived. In our first session I erred with hit points, allowing the characters only half the number each was due. For those not in the know, hit points are the numerical value of how much damage a being can take before dying. Using standard D&D examples, Mr. Orc has 7 (maybe) hit points. Your sword does 1-8 points of damage. If you hit Mr. Orc you roll your eight-sided dice, and the number you roll is subtracted from Mr. Orc’s hit points. If his hit points drop to 0, he better hope he had a will. Only allowing the players’ characters half their normal hit points started them that much closer to death. I also allowed the monsters to have a “Second Wind”, the ability to regain half their hit points during a combat encounter. Mistake number two, only players are supposed to get that ability. That first encounter was rough, and the four players barely survived fighting two porkers, the Gamma World equivalent of orcs, and two badders, bipedal badgers with crossbows.
Jesse joined us for our second session. In addition to his fine company, he knew the D&D 4th ed. rules. Encounter powers, At Will powers, Daily powers, all sorts of stuff. I still let the monsters take a second wind, effectively giving each bad guy 50% more hit points. The battles were closer, but the characters weren’t in as much danger as before. Before our final session last Saturday, I slipped into the local Big Box Bookstore and skimmed the D&D 4th ed. players handbook, and indeed, monsters are not supposed to get second winds. I was going to buy the book, but with the recent news of D&D 5th ed., I figured that eventually the 4th edition will be dirt cheap and I can get the book then, if I still want it.
The gang leveled up to second level as we started play, and halfway through the session leveled up again. With proper hit points and single-winded opponents, the group progressed quickly through the first two encounters. At level 3, they made mincemeat out of the final two encounters. It all ended well and folks were happy. Will we play Gamma World again? We’d reserved some time to discuss what we would play next. Even with owning the next two supplemental adventures for Gamma World, I voted against it. Personally, I want to create adventures, not run already prepared adventures. And I’d like a game with more role-playing and less dice-rolling.
The group decided on a home brew. Using the old White Wolf system, Rob is going to run a game in which we play supernatural types living together under the tutelage of a Professor X type character in a 1920 metropolitan environment. I’m a player and I don’t have a firm handle on the game or the system. I trust Rob and this is the group’s choice, so I’ll happily climb aboard and drink the Kool-Aid.
I want to run an all Diedne Ars Magica campaign set in the ninth century, during the rapid ascension of the Order of Hermes and the collapse of the Carolingian empire. Each player makes and runs a druid-type wizard, who must survive the growth of Christianity in the ranks of the wizards and the savage nature of their mundane neighbors. I’ll still work on the concept – I’ve started another blog solely for this purpose – and hopefully pitch the idea in May.
Along other fronts, I’ve been spending a lot more time cooking. My boy and I recently had physicals, which my insurance company happily pays for entirely, and we were both granted clean bills of health. I’m tall, 6’6″, or just under two meters. My son is going to be tall as well, and at 12-years-old he is already 5’5″ (1.65 meters). Dr. Kochs and we chatted about a variety of things, including exercise and food. We also talked about that special shot delivered with an eight-inch needle that is inserted through the nostril directly into the brain, the one every boy gets on his 13th birthday. August’s eyes flashed back and forth between the two of us until he realized that dad was joking and doc was playing along. While Aug and I don’t eat fast foods, which is grand, we do indulge in boxed foods, primarily mac & cheese and lately instant potatoes. I know, sacrilege and I offend my Irish forebears with instant spuds, but a single dad’s life gets busy and whenever I can shave some time off the schedule I do.
But shaving time off dinner prep with box dinners adds a ton of salt, preservatives, and other nastiness to the diet. So, to stay healthy, I’m cooking more. And cooking more, I realize that my repertoire of recipes is limited. So I’ve been exploring recipes, primarily online, home to thousands upon thousands of recipes. My current preferred spot is the website, Moms Who Think, which is a fairly commercial site but offers hundreds of healthy and/or quick recipes. Nothing too complicated for dad to handle. Two weekends past, I cooked a large pot of Irish Chicken and Dumplings. I don’t know why it’s notably Irish, there is no Guinness in it, but it is simple to cook and damn tasty. As luck would have it, my brother and his boys felt like visiting, so the five Ryan guys (me, my son, my brother, and his sons Cullen and Evan) sat down to a huge meal. It was a nice time. I read the first chapter of the book my brother is working on and later talked to 16-year-old Cullen about his new girlfriend and his initial dating exploits. It was family time and they stayed late and we drank a lot of coffee and farted a lot of digested chicken and dumplings.
Speaking of books, yesterday I received three copies and a check for a book I wrote last year, one that I had forgotten about (a little). At the end of the day, with Aug nestled snug in his bed and the apartment lit only by candles and oil lamps, I sunk into the comfy chair with a decaf coffee and read my chapters. I normally don’t like reading my published work, immediately finding my grammatical mistakes that escaped the editor and the hackneyed sentences I attempt to pass off as prose. This time, however, it was different. I liked it. My chapter on Living Corpses reintroduced liches to Ars Magica. My second chapter, medieval menageries, wasn’t as smooth but was still enjoyable. Menageries was another fellow’s idea, but he had to cancel early from the project and I picked up the job. The introduction is a bit choppy, and I trimmed it too much in editing and skimped on a few linking sentences that would have helped the overall flow. I thought about getting the red pencil, but thought I’d save the efforts for other chapters that need editing before being published, not after. I’m lucky to have other chapters for other books in the works.
Well, that’s that. My itch is scratched for the day. Time for another coffee and a stroll to the bank to deposit my writing check. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but for a rural, Protestant, American-Irish-English-bred kid growing up dodging cow patties, school bullies, and homework, sneaking out at night to play AD&D with the neighborhood kid, getting paid to write for a role-playing game is a pretty cool thing. Vive la nerd!