Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 29, 2007

J minus one week

Filed under: Games,geekery,workin for the man — lexifab @ 11:53 am

Joey’s due date is next Wednesday. Yes, yes, we know that most first children are born late, but at this stage we’re still expecting – or maybe just hoping really hard – that the baby will arrive more or less on time, or even a little early. Fiona says Saturday would be most convenient, although it does mean I’d miss another cricket game on Sunday. I’m sure I’ll be able to tough out the disappointment somehow.

Fi is well, but tired and sick of being sore. The ungainly lumbering is not her favourite thing in the world. She is however cultivating a busy social life, with lunchtime visits and shopping expeditions and so forth. That’s nice. Hopefully I’ll be getting a bit of that action myself soon. I need to do the Xmas shopping soon.

I’m breaking in the new director at work today. He’s completely new to the organisation. I am trying not to scare him off with my cynicism, but frankly my heart’s not really in softpedalling mode.

Played round three of the Burning Copernica game last night. The noble and righteous forces of honest, upstanding organised crime (and its allies) are getting reamed by the evil socialist, the psychotic crimelord and the slavering alien warmonger. In fact, we basically handed them the means of our demolition on a plate. It’s fun getting rolled, but in the spirit of honest comeptition I think we’re going to have to step up our tactical fortitude…

November 26, 2007

Running down the clock

Filed under: friends,Games,joey,news of the day,workin for the man — lexifab @ 8:29 pm

I am well and truly into “Dropping everything to become a parent” mode. My interest in more or less everything is on hold while we wait for the penny to drop, if you’ll excuse the euphemism.

Happily, Mz Alix is in town, playing chaperone to gurgling baby daughter Emily’s debut world tour. We caught up with them for a relaxing couple of hours yesterday, and today Fi met up with Alix and her sister-in-law Helena for hot chocolates. Fi’s officially in “Ladies who lunch” mode (which is better than the mode I’m in if for no other reason than there are superior eating opportunities). Welcome to Canberra, Alix and Emily!

I’ve been on training for the past few days – set to continue for at least one more – and it’s mostly been revision of stuff that I wasn’t all that interested in in the first place. That’s given me plenty of time to do some design pondering about the previously alluded to Mad Gaming Project. About that I will continue to say nothing in order to cultivate a mysterious air, except to note that I expect it to be all but impossible to implement with a newborn on the way. That doesn’t stop me thinking about it, of course.

My new director is expected to finally start this week, which should be interesting. At the moment he has two staff, one of whom leaves for a five week holiday on Thursday and the other of whom is me. My six week parental leave could literally start at any moment. Not much of a welcome, is it? Ah well, we couldn’t wait around for him forever – he’s been unable to start for months while his security clearance has been pending.

But whatever. I fully expect to go away and come back six weeks later to find that between my new boss and the new government, my job has changed somewhere between significantly and completely. Exciting!

November 23, 2007

Stuff about stuff

Filed under: administraviata,Games,geekery,news of the day,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 7:56 am

Yesterday was Mz Lindor’s birthday. Happy birthday Mz Lindor, if you happen to be reading this.

Today is the 44th anniversary of the first screening of the first episode of Doctor Who. I realise you probably don’t care.

I’ll be in a training course all day today, like I was yesterday. Since it’s at least 3/4 refresher training of stuff I don’t care whether I know or not, I will have a fair amount of attention time for thinking about things like gaming and writing.

The short story has gotten short shrift over the past couple of days, as my focus has wandered. I bought an el cheapo pre-owned copy of the excellent Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic, which came out five or so years ago to rave reveiws. I’ve been meaning to play it for a long time. It’s fun, but fortunately less addictive than some things I could name.

I’ve also been expanding my thinking on a bold new gaming project (for “bold” read “implausibly ambitious”) which I may very well undertake as my next big thing. I’ve been circulating a few ideas to some noted critical thinkers in the Lexifabosphere (yay, new word!) for their reactions. Positive so far!

Dr Clam – it’s time for the Sawl. Where we left it almost exactly a year ago was that we were trying to decide how to actually play. What do you say to email as standard and occasional Skype or Ventrilo chats?

Gotta go. Writing – er, that is, training time awaits.

Edits: fixed numerous speed-typing, no-editing typoes.

October 25, 2007

Slapped down and sued on Copernica

Filed under: Games,now playing: anything,the renovated life — lexifab @ 9:13 am

We played the second session of John M’s “Burning Copernica” Burning Empiresgame last night. My zealous science-bishop guy cornered his estranged little sister at a party and threatened to cut her off from her inheritance if she didn’t end her shameful relationship with the vicious, litigious ex-spook-turned-democratic-reformer. Instead of caving, she laughed me off in front of the gathered notables of an entire star system and disowned me. Then her legal-eagle girlfriend beat him down with a successful lawsuit claiming the inheritance anyway.

I got wholly owned, and now I have completely alienated my beloved sister and driven her , perhaps forever, into the arms of a dangerous political schemer. A different one to me, I mean. It’s great, it gives me a whole new solid reason to oppose one of the GM characters and lots of grist for some character goals that have nothing to do with blowing things up or winning at politics.

It was fun! The Burning system really delivers on operatic melodrama, if that’s what you’re after (and it turns out I might have a taste for it).

Last night’s session was pretty interesting. There’s still a lot of faffing about with the players who don’t know the system that well, which is understandable since it’s got a pretty steep learning curve and a lot of subtlety that is not obvious from first reading, but even with an extra player (Steve’s joined us with his starship building hot-rod enthusiast named Garibaldi), we got through all of our allotted scenes and were actually done and packed up in a little over three hours. I think in a few more more rounds, when everyone understands the subtle interplay of bonuses, helping dice, linked tests and the Infection mechanics, it will look and sound a lot smoother.

September 14, 2007

If it ain’t beer o’clock it oughtta be

Filed under: Games,news of the day,workin for the man — lexifab @ 6:03 pm

Things are moving too fast for me to follow today. It was another morning where it took me forever to wake up – arguably I still haven’t – and I’m not sure I’m taking everything in. The small side job that my boss gave me on Friday afternoon took all week, and every time I got close to finishing it, it went all Xeno’s Paradox on me and blew out again. Yesterday it turned out that it had all been moot because some other area were doing exactly the same piece of work with apparently better information, but today it appears their information was based on faulty assumptions so I needed to swing back in and reconcile stuff. Bleary as I am, I still have no idea whether I did that or not, but the boss wandered off seeming satisfied. That will have to do.

As I expected the boss is hesitating to say yea or nay on the part time work until he gets a chance to talk to his (new) boss, with whom I have worked in the past. My guess is that she will clear it eventually, though not necessarily in a timeframe that suits me particularly and not likely with a gracious blessing. If so, I won’t be able to blame her, really. This work area is understaffed as it is, so it’s not really in anyone else’s interests to reduce the numbers even by a fraction. It’s in mine, though, so I won’t be dropping the subject.

One subject I have dropped at long last is World of Warcraft. My account subscription expired sometime today (in theory it might still be active, but I’m not going to check). I went though my characters last night, finished a few quests, tinkered around with a bank tidy up and sent various useful bits and pieces to other people I know who are still playing (mainly Jimbo, truth be told). It’s a bit weird to admit that I will miss the characters – especially Vash and Fancy – more than I miss playing the game itself.

Mum and Dad are, somewhat unexpectedly, home again. Dad’s blood tests appear to be fine, and the doctors have been swearing all along that they had no intention of releasing him before he was well enough to look after himself, so things are fine, I guess. I talked to him this morning – he sounds pretty worn out but glad to be home, of course. They lost their three cows while they were away – maladies relating to eating frost-affected grass, it seems – which was of course very upsetting. But there’s no doubt that they will both be happier to be at home in their own space.

Okay, that’s been a long enough week. I’m going to go home and try to get some sense of equilibrium back. I’ll go back to raving incoherently about roleplaying games in a day or two.

August 22, 2007

Some stuff that occurred to me over the course of a day

Filed under: Games,geekery,news of the day — lexifab @ 5:55 pm

Idle thoughts:

Last night’s game of Burning Wheel did not go as well as it should have. I was tired and did not enforce tighter scene pacing, so everything dragged on and took too long to get to a point. To some extent this is understandable as it often takes a minute or two of meandering discussion before someone figures out what they want, but most of the time it went too long. Have to think about techniques for encouraging dropping into roleplaying exchanges between PCs and NPCs as a support mechanism for establishing immediate short term goals and to keep a closer lookout for flagging scenes that go nowhere while someone works out what skill they want to test. I have a nagging concern about passivity in goal-setting too, as in waiting for something to happen to react to rather than pushing an agenda hard, but I think tiredness was the main offender on this occasion. Highly amusing moment when we realised that Simon’s burnout guardsman is attempting to develop skills possessed only by great magistrates and mighty generals, and Jimbo’s businessman honing his ruthless negotiating style. And there was nice finish that set up the next session, where everyone discovered important new stuff about the cult and the ancient ruins.

I have cancelled my World of Warcraft account. It will last until mid-September, so I will keep going on it pretty hard until then, but after that I think it can sit in the box for a while. After over two years of fairly solid timesinking and with Joey on the way, it’s probably time I gave it a rest and freed up some time for other stuff. I’m trying to avoid that “other stuff” turning out to be yet another timesink computer game, but I am not known for my strength of will in this area. My flirtation over the last week with the free trial of Lord of the Rings Online was awfully tempting, but fortunately the fact that I would have to buy a better graphics cards in order to play it properly will preserve me from that temptation.

With my spare time I plan to do: a lot more reading, a small amount of additional gaming, a fair amount of housework and toddler proofing, and possibly some research for writing. Marco and Clam should probably not get their hopes up, though, since I have no intention of doing anything with that plan until 2009 at the earliest.

Unless I change my mind, of course.

I went to a colleague’s farewell at an Indian restaurant at lunchtime. The almost lethally hot vindaloo is currently eating through my stomach muscles and attacking my liver, I think. Yum!

Also, I really need to find a way to take my job more seriously. Or get some no-questions-asked phat funds from some other source. One of the two.

August 10, 2007

Feel the burn

Filed under: Games,geekery,now playing: anything — lexifab @ 12:18 pm

Tonight I’m meeting up at Insmouth Steve’s place for some Burning Wheel action (I get to play! Yay!). He’s going to run a few of us through the BW demo module The Sword, which has a very simple setup – several adventurers, having battled their way through the usual dungeons and monsters and hardships, have finally made it to where an ancient sword lies – and now they have to decide who gets it. It’s a delicious setup designed to showcase BW’s various neat little rules subsystems, and is used by the designer as a vehicle for demonstrating what’s cool about the game to complete noobs. What will be different here is that most of us who will be playing have some familiarity with the rules already, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I intend to make sure there’s blood on the floor at the end of the session!

Next week, I hope that John M’s Burning Empires game gets started. I’ll be playing an ambitious and fanatical astronomer-priest on one side of a hidden war with parasitical alien infiltrators. My personal enemy will be an idealistic young advocate for democratic reform. Hilariously, the good guys are all on my side, so at least some of the campaign goals will involve putting down this dangerous, destabilising uprising of rabble-rousing campaigners for equity and human rights. Bloody troublemakers.

And of course the adventures of New Porphyria, our inexplicably-named weekly BW game set in a frontier lumber town near an ancient ruined city (full of riches and monsters), continue on Tuesday nights.

And yesterday my copy of the BW Monster Burner arrived, and in the next day or so my copy of the Heian-era Japan BW supplement The Blossoms are Falling should arrive as well. I seem to have really attacked the Burning Wheel kool-aid with gusto, huh?

August 1, 2007

Scattered gaming and incidental life stuff

Filed under: Games,joey,now playing: anything,workin for the man — lexifab @ 4:04 pm

I seem to be heading into a busy phase again, at least in terms of working and gaming.

The purpose of what I’m doing at work for Mission Impossible is starting to take some sort of shape, though I am still a little unsure about whether I will at some point start to contribute something tangible to the job. At the moment my task appears to be “know everything that’s going on”. That appeals to my essentially nosey nature, but I’m at a loss as to where I’m going with the whole thing. Still, day by day it does make more and more sense, so I remain faithful that a lightbulb will go off sooner or later.

Perhaps spurred on by the likelihood that it will all go away after Joey appears in December, I have been getting a bit mroe gaming in lately. Apart from the new weekly Burning Wheel game (which has now commenced, thus demolishing my plan to do a precis review before I ever played it), which now has two sessions in the can, I’ve signed up for a BW one-shot (and have made a vague commitment to participate in or help manage a regular series of one-shot and short-form games of various independent small press RPGs of the sort that I have been obsessively collecting without playing for some time now), a Burning Empires campaign and now a long-delayed HeroQuest campaign looks like it might be alive again.

(Ouch. Careful with the run-on sentences, dumbarse! I’m watching you!)

To be honest I’m probably going to have to clear something of the above out of the schedule – I don’t really want to be spending too many evenings out, especially during the week – but I’ll suck it and see how I go while the energy is still there.

Dad’s stem cell collection has started, which means he now has to go into isolation for several weeks while he gets chemo and has basically no immune system. This was the hard part last time, beyond the basic risks associated with the chemotherapy, because he is prone to going wholly mental when he can’t beaver about and be excessively active. Last time he got out and about too early and exposed himself to all manner of ills, not the least of which was pneumonia. They’ll be keeping a closer eye on his discharge date this time around, which he will not appreciate, but it will help improve his rate of recovery.

It was Gazza’s birthday yesterday. We got him Hot Fuzz and Sean of the Dead because he hasn’t seen them, and because they might break his brain, which would be jolly amusing, wouldn’t it? Happy being one year older, little brother 🙂

We had Joey’s 20-week (21, actually) checkup yesterday. All readings appear normal at this stage, which is a relief. The slight concern we’ve had that my Mediterranean-descendent genes risk passing on thalassaemia now seem unfounded based on current haemoglobin counts, so fingers crossed that that remains the case.

Finally, an Occupational Health and Safety tip: no matter what you may happen to imagine, tzatziki (cucumber and yoghurt) is not a sane flavour to embed upon a potato chip. Nor is it a palatable one.

That is all. Next, more podcastery.

July 18, 2007

The joys of being back at work

Two days off with something that was a bit like the flu, but didn’t last all that long. Back at work today. Feel like garbage, but’s that’s probably because I was stupid enough to get on the exercise bike this morning after lying in bed for two days.

Took Fi down to get Joey’s 20-week ultrasound this morning. Fingers and toes all look to be in place. Will get the update in a couple of days. Joey is still a twitchy little urchin, but you would be too if people kept pushing you around with a sonic prodamajig.

NSW apparently had its coldest days on record during the last week (I might have misunderstood the specifics, but in general it was certainly very cold). Great time for our heater to pack it in. Luckily we have a fireplace and a stockpile of old tree parts (not to mention a couple of electric heaters) so everything was fine. Except for the possum who lives in our chimney, who was cruelly turned out to fend for itself. It’s still around – I heard it fighting with a cat last night. I suspect now that the fire is out it’ll be back before too long.

Our main shipment of furniture arrived last night – dining table, coffee table, lamp stand. They look beautiful. And they are heavy, heavy, heavy. And dice make a good noise when they land on them. We now need to restore the rooms they’re in to their proper working state (i.e. remove all the extraneous crap that has built up in there).

The Friday night PTA game was called off, on the grounds that the rulebook, along with the character sheet and my notes, has disappeared. Since I didn’t loan it out, it’s obvious kicking around the place somewhere (I expect the aforementioned tidy up will uncover it). It wasn’t that great a loss – we were struggling with it and I think our decision to bravely soldier on with it would have proven painful had it not turned out to be impossible.

Instead we’ve decided to start a campaign of Burning Wheel, which means I suppose that I ought to do that pre-play review I promised Dr Clam a while ago. The game will be set in the small but flourishing community that has sprung up around a newly-accessible ancient city full of untold riches, archeological wonders and horrible monsters – it’s basically Deadwood-meets-Undermountain. The PCs are all colourful locals who’ve been deputised as the town’s part-time constabulary – initially at least the plots will revolve around petty crimes and external threats like orc warbands (which are extremely non-petty in the Burning Wheel system), but expect to see a warning lable with Political, Religious and Sorcerous Themes to go with the High Level Coarse Language and Some Violence.

Meanwhile, in deference to the working title I labelled this entry with, I am back at work with nothing having happenened in my absence and nothing much to do now that I am here. I am okay with this, as it gives me more opportunity to read all the things that may become relevant at some point, and to tidy up my desk for the move on Friday. This will, I hope, be the last time I have to relocate for the remainder of the year.

May 22, 2007

Updating is hard

Filed under: Games,news of the day,the renovated life — lexifab @ 6:48 pm

When you consider the relatively content-free standards of Lexifab, you would think I would have less difficulty in making the effort to keep this damn blog up to date. Instead, every week or so I find myself hammering out some lame condensation of the events of the past few days, which mostly comes out as a list of mildly passive-aggressive complaints about the universe. Hmm. I usually just think of myself as lazy, but perhaps I’m pessimistic as well.

Bah, be that as it may, here’s the latest summary:

Family – Nan, my maternal grandmother, is turning 90 at the end of the week. I’d love to be up there at Calliope celebrating with her hordes of adoring descendents, but the holiday thing would not have worked. Still, I hope to be able to get up and visit on the way north about this time next year. In the meantime I’ll wait for Mum’s letter and hopefully a big stack (or email attachment) of photos. Mum or Lib, if you’re reading this, give her a big hug from all of us and let her know we love her to bits.

Renos – We managed to get some long-awaited renovation milestones knocked off on the weekend (although Fi and I had to take a Monday sickie in order to finish them). We’ve mounted and painted the timber braces that will hold up the three sets of curtains in the living room. It was a tricky job, because the wall cavities above the doors and windows appear to have very few studs, and those that were there were difficult to detect with an electronic studfinder due to the double gyprock sheeting in that room. We had to bodge a little bit here and there, but the end effect, with the braces and window insets painted a striking dark slate grey contrasting the pale yellows and oranges beautifully, has been well worth the small amount of pain. Once the paint dries, which should happen by the weekend, we’ll have an extra splash of colour in the form of the green curtains in there.

That will be nice, because at the moment our living room is completely visible to everyone using the high-traffic footpath at the front of the house. OMG! They know we watch Heroes!

Gaming – Had a couple of evenings of gaming in which no actual gaming was done, but a lot of planning took place… On Friday night, Chris, Emma and the Nerd Farmers got together from some PrimeTime Adventures. It took us the usual forever to come up with a concept that we all liked  – the post-apocalyptic pony detective agency show and the sitcom set in a brothel were both sadly discarded by our network executives as being too cutting edge and confrontational for modern audiences. In the end we went for a show set on a train heading out across America to the newly open Pacific coast (we thought probably in the early- to middle- of the 19th century, following the great rail wars, but Wikipedia will be consulted to supply some actual dates and historical context and figures of note…). The characters are a collection of loose sketches at this stage, but there’s a little mystery, some dark secrets and tragic themes hidden away in there. First actual play session will be this Friday night. No title so far, with “The Train Game” being a vague placeholder at best.

On Saturday, Steve, Emma, Chris and I got together to create a Burning Wheel scenario. We came up with a rather cool situation loaded with mafioso-style shipyard guilds, manipulative pirates, a grasping noble class, all about to clash in a (probably doomed) marxist revolution. I’m very excited about this game. BW is something I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now, and I’m champing at the bit to get my character – a vicious little thug whose time on a pirate galley has made him bitter and envious of the nobility – out onto paper, where he can start shanking people with his dirk. I don’t know when we’re going to get a chance to play it – our schedules all clash – but sooner or later this little weasel is going to get his chance to kindle that chip on his shoulder into a raging inferno.

I can’t wait.

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