dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
[livejournal.com profile] melishus_b and her boyfriend came to visit us this weekend! And I've written about it in detail below.

detail, with pictures )

Next weekend we should see them again, since we'll be in Seattle for a wedding! Just like old times, at least for a brief moment.
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Why do bad things happen to good people? What purpose does suffering serve? Is there some greater end, some trial through which G-d is putting us with the ultimate goal of tempering us, like steel hammered out on the forge? Or is it just a part of life that we have to learn to deal with, and maintain our own composure and avoid temptation while doing so? Does G-d understand the compromises that we have to make to exist in the imperfect world, or does He gaze sternly upon us and demand better?

And if you think there's a lot of questions in the preceeding paragraph, you should see some of the dialogue in this game.

The Shivah is the first commercial game by Dave Gilbert, of Wadjet Eye fame, though I wouldn't have guessed that just from playing it. That's partially because this is the "Kosher Edition," with voice acting and revamped graphics, but also because it's polished and very well designed without a lot of the pitfalls that adventure games usually fall into. I felt more like an investigator during the Shivah than I ever did during Gabriel Knight, and without any of the latter game's sleaziness. The Shivah is grounded, which is its greatest strength.

The Shivah detective rabbi
Adventure games.

Read more... )

🍖 -> 🍗

2017-Sep-12, Tuesday 14:31
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I made the first change in my lunch in five years, though it hasn't quite taken effect. Every day at work I have a steak salad with goat cheese and two vegetables chosen from tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms; a hard-boiled egg; and some dark chocolate. I decided to swap out the steak for roasted chicken and see if I like it, and if so, I'll switch over permanently. Enjoying the same food over and over saves me a lot of money--I've eaten the same breakfast for the last six years--but sometimes, a change is nice.

To my boundless surprise after my last post about it, the database upgrades apparently worked and it now runs as smooth as butter. Not a single crash or error yesterday or today. The real test is if it works through Friday. If so, I might be finally in the clear.

Might. I'm sure it'll be terrible in a couple months again.

I'm back to reading 世界の中心で while Aya-sensei is on vacation, and the protagonist is currently at a friend's house whose parents have a mussel farm. It means that there's a lot of animal-related terms that I have to keep stopping to look up. Sometimes I feel bad about about my animal-related Japanese vocabulary, and then I look up カワハギ and I realize I don't know what a thread-sail filefish is either. I at least know the common animals I'm likely to have to talk about in country living, like crows (烏), cranes (鶴), frogs (蛙), wild boar (猪), deer (鹿), cicadas (蝉), etc. You can just talk about fish by color, anyway, because that's all you can tell in a restaurant.

Exciting times.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
  • Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Bonnie left soon after the snow fell, deciding after discussion with her father that she would return to Chai to continue her orator studies. She rode out with a caravan bound for Chai early in the Month of Frost after bidding farewell to the others, and then set her face to the east. The Green Knight also left a week later, his disciple Drifting Snow in tow, saying that it was the will of the forest spirits that called him elsewhere.

Some time later, Amos was walking through the new-fallen snow in the square outside the temple of the goddesses when he saw another human! A man dressed like a vagabond, playing a shell game for a trio of amanita who clearly did not understand the rapidly-spoken Muscalan that the human was giving his pitch in. Amos watched to see if the amanita would get swindled, but while one wandered away, the others actually won a small amount of money and the other human packed up his gear and left. Amos stood in the square for a while until he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was the human, who spoke in a British accent and introduced himself as Father James, a priest of Mark Twain, a god unfamiliar to Amos. They chatted for a short time until Shining Star stepped out of the temple and saw them, and she stopped to see who Amos was talking to. Moments later, another human stepped out of the tea house on the other side of the square and stopped in shock at the sight of two others from his own world of birth.

After an excited discussion in English between Willow, Father James, and Amos that Shining Star waited out politely, the four of them, along with a limping Elaphe, retreated into the tea house to drink rice wine and mushroom beer and swap stories. Over the next week and a half they got to know each other better and decided to go treasure-hunting. Shining Star and Amos were pushing for a strike against the Dragon Emperor, and while they knew they weren't powerful enough to do so now, they thought that finding more ancient artifacts and then performing a decapitation strike on the Dragon Empire and letting the Dragon Emperor's eight children fight a civil war in the ruins might be their best bet. With winter in effect and snow a yard high, they left on the 17th of the Month of Frost for the pipe that would take them through B'rabt to Rockfort and on to that pipe that led to the jungle.

On the way out of the city, they noticed people staring upward at the sky and turned to see that the Silent Ones were casting off the lines on the floating ship they were building over the Scarlet City. As the party watched, the propellers on one end began to turn and the ship began to move, accelerating forward and then turning in a wide arc toward the north, where it passed out of sight.

The trip to the jungle ziggurat ruins was uneventful. With Bonnie gone, there was no one who could speak B'rabti in the group, and while Shining Star could use the Royal Speech to make herself understood, they found no one who could or would speak back until they arrived at the tea house in the B'rabti town with the pipe to Rockfort. Willow attempted to use his charm and good looks to win them a better price on the room, but the mycon proprieter just glared at him and raised the price. They paid for a few extra days to stable their mounts and in the morning, went through the pipe and out of Rockfort into the wild. As they passed the farms that had been abandoned, they noticed that now they were inhabited, but the inhabitants ran inside and locked the doors at the sight of a group of heavily-armed individuals walking toward them.

The other side of the pipe was a steaming jungle, with a broken plaza leading to a ruined ziggurat mostly obscured by overgrowth, and after removing their heavy winter clothing, the group advanced across the square. While Elaphe and Father James could hear a loud buzzing audible even over the sounds of the jungle coming from somewhere in the canopy, but they didn't see anything and nothing came to attack them, so they climbed the ziggurat steps and entered the top. Amos summoned up a witchlight, revealing a small room maybe twenty-five feet square with a stone bowl in the center, anything in it long since gone, and four statues in the four cardinal directions. One was a turtle, one was some sort of bird, and the other two weren't identifiable. There were stairs leading up and down, and the party took the stairs up first. The room was empty, with a bit of light coming from windows in the crown of the dome, and an obsidian knife in the dust on the floor. Elaphe carefully picked it up and handed it over to Shining Star, who didn't sense anything actively malicious from it. She gave it to Amos, who wrapped it up and put it away. The party went down two levels to a room with four pillars, a pit in the center of the room below the basin in the room above, and no other exits, though they found a half-mask on the floor made of gold and severely tarnished silver. They considered descending through the pit until Elaphe decided to look for any secret doors, and he and Father James's ravens found separate hinged section of stone walls that opened, revealing stairways down.

They descended down a level and began to explore, finding only kong bones mixed with other bones they couldn't identify. The humans heard a low murmuring, like rock rubbing against rock, echoing through the ziggurat, and Elaphe heard a sound of something clicking on stone, but the buzzing they had heard earlier was gone. Then, as they went down a corridor toward another room, Father James heard a message from his raven spirit, Hundred Wings, asking him where he had gone. Turning, he found a rock wall behind them with a corridor curving around to the left. After a hurried discussion, they found the lower end of the pit that led from the room above, and some of the ravens flew door from above, and then flew a rope back up and secured it to a statue. Elaphe held onto one end of the rope and kept an eye on the pit while Amos, Willow, and Father James looked down the corridor. They found a room that might have been a guard room, with some rust on the walls and spearpoints carved like snakeheads on the floor, though the spear shafts had long since rotted away. Amos could see a door at the far end, made of metal and still intact, and with the others' help he forced it open. Inside was a small room with a figure seated on an ivory stool in front of a low table. It was a kong wearing elaborate robes and a headdress, somehow in good condition despite the jungle humidity and with its flesh withered as though mummified. Amos entered the room with his musket ready and saw several items of jewelry on the table just as Elaphe heard the sound of claws on stone behind him, turned, and found nothing there.

He called out to the others and they hurried back to the rope. Father James told Hundred Wings to fetch the treasure, and the ravens brought back two rings, a kong-sized half-mask made of silver and gold like the one they found above, and a gold pendant with a banana tree surrounded by kong glyphs. As the rumble came again, they began to climb the rope back toward the top. They had almost made it when Amos felt the rope shiver, and then it snapped.


This is two sessions together because session twenty-eight was mostly character creation and getting the new characters together.

Elaphe pushed for leaving because while if it bleeds, he can kill it, he's much less confident about spirits or ghosts. And that is a weak spot of this party. Shining Star can fight demonic spirits with her sorcery, but if the spirit is just annoyed that its home has been disturbed, there's not much she can do, and they don't have any other way to affect the immaterial. Shining Star and Amos are pretty keen to keep exploring, though, since they haven't looked around the entire complex and there are still the insects that were making that buzzing sound. Elaphe was pretty excited about the idea of poisoning his weapons.

Next time is in three weeks, when we'll see what happens as the party falls down and the deal with whatever is trying to keep them in the ziggurat!
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
​Originally I was going to skip this week, because it's been a long day and I didn't think we had any chocolate in the queue other than Raaka, which I try not to do too much of in a row. But then I remembered that we'll be gone the next two weekends and found one extra chocolate bar buried under the others, so I changed my mind and here we are!

Nothing else to say this week. Let's talk about chocolate
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Office Space)
I've gotten a lot of use of that icon since March.

Yesterday, for the first time since the new database switchover, I got a time-sensitive project. With the old software, these were easy--everything came together in a single file and it was loaded in, I went through it one by one, and signed off in our project-tracking software when it was done. Now, because there's no way to put records in sets since they all get mixed into a giant slurry and pulled out at random, I'm using an Excel spreadsheet, going down the list and manually searching for each record so I can check it. Click search. Click the search box. Tab over to the spreadsheet. Click the cell with the ID. Tab back to the browser. Paste the ID. Click the result. Click the appropriate tab. Click the button to investigate further. Click click click click. Keyboard shortcuts? Why would anyone want those?

Behold the glorious march of technology. Emoji rain

My annoyance does not entirely come from how it now takes 15 clicks to do something that I used to be able to do entirely on the keyboard in one-tenth the time, though. We've been having database problems the whole week, with me constantly emailing back and forth with support and them having to restart services over and over. Eventually the constant problems got escalated, and they're planning to completely rebuild the database over the weekend. But not soon enough, because not half an hour after I got a time-sensitive project, it completely broke and it was impossible for me to do anything. I just kept getting proxy errors over and over again and support said they'd have to do several hours' work reorganizing before I would be able to use it again. Since it was close to the end of the day, there wasn't much to do other than say okay, let them put the magic smoke back into the database, and go home myself. But we spent two years' time and millions of dollars and this is the result?

It seems to work now, though I get a 404 error on a good portion of resolutions. But I think they're taking, so I guess it works out?

Edit: Yaaay, now it's broken again!
dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
This is the game with the hat.

There's a Capcom logo that comes up every time I loaded up Minish Cap, but without that, there would have been nothing to tell me that this wasn't developed internally by Nintendo. The internet tells me that it's the same Capcom team who handled both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, so they had practice at squeezing Legend of Zelda down into a portable format. And that practice paid off, because they shaved off much of the weirdness and clunkiness from their earlier attempts and made a great Zelda game that's simple enough to not overstay its welcome but has plenty to do for people who want it. I mostly did not want it, and that's okay! I enjoyed what parts of the game I played a lot.

The Japanese title is straight and to the point: fushigi no bōshi, "the mysterious hat."

Legend of Zelda Minish Cap oversleeping
Yep, he's the hero alright.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Jealous)
How appropriate that I'm posting this on Labor Day, comrades.

Content warning: Food, weight discussion )
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
Apparently there's something about Iceland. I've never been there but I keep seeing my friends posting about it on Facebook, taking multiple trips, searching for cheap airfair, planning their next trip immediately after returning from their previous one. I understand the lure, since that's how I feel about Japan, even if it's not a pull I feel myself. But that's why this chocolate jumped out at me even though it was on the very bottom shelf and out of my easy sightlines.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Enjoying a lazy Sunday on Labor Day weekend. Yesterday was busy, with a dentist appointment in the morning and Call of Cthulhu in the afternoon, but I have nothing scheduled for today. Next weekend is [tumblr.com profile] novafigura and [tumblr.com profile] hopefulrefrain's engagement party, the weekend after that [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b and her boyfriend are coming from Seattle to visit, the weekend after that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are going to Seattle for [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3's wedding, and the weekend after that is Yom Kippur. But for the moment, I have very little to do. Emoji Happy cat

I signed up for the pedometer challenge at work. This isn't really anything out of the ordinary for me, since ever since I downloaded a pedometer app for my phone that changes color I've tried to get 10K steps a day (about 8.1 km for me), but the team I signed is full of exercise junkies so we decided to compete in the 12K band. I got in my steps without too much trouble yesterday since I was already planning on reading while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was out, so I just walked around a bit with my book. Today I'm at 3.3K right now and we still have to go grocery shopping and clean later, but I'll probably have to do an hour of walking. It keeps me from spending twelve hours in a row playing video games like I used to and helps me keep up on my RSS feeds, and I actually enjoy walking. I just wish that we had our own house or a ground floor apartment sometimes. I try to walk softly and our downstairs neighbors have never complained, but...

I've started a new RPG project, because that's my primary outlet for creativity other than writing. I keep trying to adapt the old TSR AD&D setting of Dark Sun to something that I'd rather run it in, and after almost two years of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, I'm comfortable trying to adapt it into a hybrid of Exalted and NWoD. I haven't gotten very far, but I made a few changes (ported over Composure and Resolve, dumped Manipulation and Appearance, split Dexterity into Dexterity and Agility) and have some more in mind. The Essence stat in Exalted being universal means it works perfectly as a way to determine psychic potential, since everyone and everything in Dark Sun is supposed to be psychic. The way sorcerous motes work in Exalted 3e, where the sorcerer has to roll and accumulate energy, simulates the way Dark Sun wizards draw in life energy from plants to power their spells and allows me to give defilers an advantage by making their accumulation faster. There are enough dials on the weapon statistics that I can easily replicate the way most weapons are inferior because they're made of stone or wood or bone by tweaking them. I think it can work, and it'll be fun to work on, even if I never run it.

I have three maps on the wall of the computer room from the three fantasy settings that have most influenced me. One is the map of Vvardenfell from the Morrowind Collector's Edition; one is Chrono Trigger's Kingdom of Zeal, where dreams come true; and the third is a map of the Tablelands from the Dark Sun boxed set.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has promised to make a special dinner tonight, but hasn't said what she's going to make. I'm not sure it matters, because I can think of only three times she's made something that I haven't liked it, and one of those didn't count because the flour had gone rancid. I'm looking forward to it. Emoji back and forth dance

I might have a Darker than Black later in the weekend, and probably a post tomorrow about a long-term personal goal that I've reached. I hope everyone else is having a good weekend!
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​As the investigators left Constantinople, they were joined by a woman sent by Sir Douglas, who told them that she had been dispatched to help them with their mission. They quickly secured tickets to the Orient Express, but as they were going to board, the conductor stopped them and asked them about "stowaway" they had dealt with. He said there was an old journal found in the coffin and handed it to the professor, who opened it and noticed it was dated 1795, written in the same style as the journal they had found in Paris. Excited and eager to learn more of Le Comte, the professor began to stranlate the old French for the others:Dramatis Personae
  • Serjant Thierry Renault
  • Soldat Jean Dupois
  • Soldat Michel Beaumains
  • Soldat Christophe Pressi
  • Soldat Etienne Babin
Midnight, June 2, 1789

At the entrance to the Paris Catacombs, five soldiers were on guard duty, watching the reburial of bones from the city's cemeteries into the catacombs. They were there to keep orders to prevent looting, since many were starving and had little respect for the dead or the priests who accompanied them. Renault stood at the entrance, supervising his men, along with Beaumains and Pressi, while Dupois held a lantern within the catacombs and Babin kept an eye out for trouble in the streets. Babin did not notice anything brewing, but found a flier entitled "What is the Third Estate?" crumpled in the street. With a contemptuous glance over the text, he crumpled it further and threw it to the ground.

The royal physician, one Rigeau, gestured and shouted at the workers to sort the bones from the skulls, occasionally running out of breath. The task proceeded without incident when suddenly, a clattering of hooves announced a red carriage speeding through the streets heedless of anyone in the way. The soldiers nearby shoved as many workers out of the way as they could, but the carriage crashed into and through the workers that Beaumains recognized as a carriage often seen on the western forest roads, always traveling at that speed. As it passed, the soldiers saw a well-dressed man kissing the neck of a woman. He locked eyes with Babin as he passed, and for a moment, time seemed to stand still. Then the carriage was gone, and the workers stood up and, with imprecations, went back to work.

After a time, Dupois noticed that the workers were muttering about restless spirits. Rigeau demanded that Renault force the workers to continue, and Renault gathered his men and set to search the close catacombs, leaving Beaumains to watch the entrance. Down a stair, each man took a lantern and set out to search. In the dark, Renault noticed yellow eyes in the dark. He shouted at the figure to approach, but it loped off deeper into the catacombs with a doglike gait. Pressi and Dupois stayed in the catacombs, and the others returned to the surface and ordered the workers back to work. Renault did not mention what he had seen to Rigeau.

Closer to dawn, Captain Malon rode up and swung off his horse. After Babin gathered the men, the captain told them that he needed them to investigate a murder because he did not trust the police. As the others left, the captain pulled Renault aside and told him that he wanted to know what was being printed.

On the way, the soldiers noticed a crowd gathering outside a bakery, muttering and working their way to a riot. Renault appealed to their common decency, but they would have none of it, jeering at the obvious aristocrat. Beaumains argument about Parisian solidarity was more persuasive, however, and with grumbling the crowd dispersed. Some time later, the soldiers arrived at the printing press and found a crowd outside, muttering and shouting, and the landlady staring off into nothing. Renault asks her what she saw, and she explains that she was awakened by a white carriage and an aristocrat in black demanding that he see the printer. The aristocrat suggested she remain in her room and lock the door, and she did, especially when she heard horrific sounds coming from the printer's room. She did not remember the noble's appearance, only his dark eyes. On the ground was a white handkerchief, monogrammed M.A., and stained with blood.

Inside the press, the room stank of blood. A headless dog, the head close by, remained by the door. The printer's entire family was hanging from the rafters, their throats slashed and paper stuffed into their mouths. Nearby were bloodstained buckets, and the printing press bore paper that had been overprinted, the pamphlets about the Third Estate that now bore a message in blood: KNOW YOUR PLACE. Renault took one of each pamphlet and put them away. As the others were debating what could have happened, Dupois shushed the soldiers. He gestured to a cabinet, and opened it to find a puppy cowering inside. Dupois picked it up and took it with them as Captain Malon rode up and ordered the soldiers to report. His face went white when he saw the handkerchief, and he ordered the soldiers to report to Versailles on June 4 to testify.

The next day, the soldiers assembled and journeyed to Versailles to make sure they and enough time, arriving on the morning of the 4th. A line of carriages was parked nearby, one of which was white with red trim. Dupois asked the surly servant standing near the carriage who it belonged to, and they had a surly-off until passing servants revealed that belonged to one Comte Pfennelik. With that news, Renault told Dupois to lay off, and they continued on toward the palace. Passing aristocrats discussing the rumors of the day, Pressi noticed his enamorata Melodie in the distance, and they exchanged longing glances before Renault let his men free until their appointed time came. From rumors, they learned that Pfennelik was German and had recently arrived, and was already a favorite of the queen, hosting parties in his estate at Poissy. The servants had more dire news, talking of Le Comte's cruelty toward his servants and how he would watch the floggings they received.

When the Captain arrived, they entered Versailles and were led to a small room with Doctor Rigeau. The soldiers gave their account of the murders, and when they were finished, Rigeau said that Pfennelik was a danger to the crown. Before he could say more, they was a scream and chaos outside the door. A servant burst in and spoke to Rigeau, who revealed that the dauphin was dead of consumption. Through this bustle came striding Le Comte, who locked eyes with Babin and smiled when the soldier dropped his gaze. He idly commented on the boy's death, and wondered aloud about whether Rigeau's exhumations of graves had infected him, before saying he would comfort the queen personally and striding away. When Renault told this to the Captain, Malon said that his strategy of getting Le Comte banished would no longer work, and he ordered them to go to his mansion at Poissy and find evidence of his guilt in something--anything--relevant.

On the trip down to Poissy, the soldiers felt like they were being watched, and they made discrete inquiries when they arrived. An old woman told Beaumains that she wanted to be left alone, speaking with palpable fear, but they found a cobbled road leading to the estate. After dark, the soldiers made their way to the mansion. It was surrounded by a high wall, with a wood within the wall, so that the estate was only visible over the trees. They scrambled over the wall and found a profusion of roses among the trees, even in blacks and greens and royals blues, and blackberries growing in abundance. Pressi pricked himself on a blackberry, and the wound took much longer to scab over than he would have thought.

Close to the mansion were statues: Icarus with bat wings, Cupid biting the neck of Psyche, Death garbed as a nobleman, and a fanged Madonna preparing to bite the head of the child, enough to trigger an investigation by itself. Close to the house, the gardens cleared out, and the soldiers ran across toward the house. Pressi and Dupois noticed movement and did not run, and a moment later a footman noticed and moved toward them. As he ran, the soldiers who had remained hidden dogpiled him, knocked him out, and tied him up and gagged him, throwing him into the brambles afterward. This close, they noticed that noble carriages were arriving and waited for the commotion to cease. They took a moment to reconnoiter the house and orient themselves, and peeked through the windows. The nobles in the room were eating and drinking enormous amounts of food and liquor and looking at a man in the center of the room, dressed as Marie Antoinette, and being whipped by a woman dressed as Louis XVI.

Suddenly, the doors at the end of the room swung open and Le Comte entered the room. As the doors closed, Le Comte told the whipping to continue. Now it was no longer a game. The woman chased the man around the room, whipping him viciously, and then the nobles moved in and began to kick him. After a time, Pfennelik stepped in and helped the man up, and he was taken away. The crowd followed Le Comte as he took the woman's hand and entered the ballroom. When the room emptied, Renault ordered Pressi and Dupois to search the room for evidence. Pressi scrambled in and grabbed the Marie Antoinette wig that the man was wearing, the passed it to Dupois tried to find where the man had been taken. He saw blood in the hall, but there was enough blood that he wasn't sure which was the most recent blood, so he abandoned the search and exited the mansion.

The other three soldiers looked into the ballroom. There were no chairs, which was odd, and the ceiling fresco was a depiction of the Fourth Crusade's siege of Constantinople. On the stage was the body of the dauphin, but on a closer look, they saw it was a dwarf, dressed in the dauphin's clothes and made up to look dead. Pfennelik entered and told the dwarf, whom he named Dietrich Zane, that it was time for the "Music from Beyond." Zane protested, but eventually and seemingly against his will, he picked up a violin and began to play a shrieking note until another woman suggested a wedding march and placed the hand of the woman dressed as King Louis in Pfennelik's. Le Comte glowered and told Zann to play, but left the room, and soon the party dispersed. The soldiers noticed that as the nobles left, they were handed gilt envelopes, and Dupois stole one as the soldiers snuck away.

In Versailles after their report, Captain Malon decided that they would invade during the invitation's date and disrupt the so-called "Carnival of Animals," giving them a private room to plan. As they were planning, Dr. Rigeau arrived with some information--at a royal dinner, he noticed that Le Comte had a strong reaction to something in the food, and had brought powdered ingredients with him. He suggested that they throw the powder in Le Comte's face, and then departed.

When the time came, the soldiers led fifty men into the forest and camped outside Poissy. Scouts reported back that Le Comte's footmen took vast quantities of animals into the estate, and then slaughtered all of them in front of the mansion and took the heads into the estate. When the guests arrived, they were told to remove their wig and given a bloody head to wear. The nobles then entered the estate on all fours. By the time of the raid, the mansion was a madhouse full of what might as well be animals. Nobles were scampering around like animals, drinking from troughs of wine, braying, and among them only Pfennelik walked upright. At the signal of a bird call, the soldiers set ladders to the wall and marched toward the mansion from four sides.

After a short battle, the soldiers rounded up the nobles and began to search the mansion. Zann and the woman with him were trying to escape, and Renault and Dupois corralled them and ordered them to sit with the others. They said that Pfennelik was "below," and when the soldiers searched the house they did not find him, though they found a flayed figure in the foyer--a preserved cadaver in papal robes--pillows everywhere with dried bloodstains, and other horrors. With every other area searched, they descended to the cellar. Down steep steps past a stone passage lined with prison cells filled with corpses, they found a rook filled with corpses chained to the wall. Coffins served as tables, covered in scrolls with Arabic writing, and in the center was a statue that captured the light and shimmered sickeningly. Dupois took one look at the statue and stared blankly into space, unsure where he was, and Babin heard a faint moaning from the statue. Then smoke descended into the room from above!

As the smoke clears, Pfennelik was suddenly there, snarling and lunging at the Beaumains! Beaumains throw Rigeau's powder into Le Comte, and he staggered backward as the soldiers charged. He laid into them, dealing terrible wounds, but did not seem to take any damage in return, but the statue began groaning as the battle started. Babin turned and took his axe to the statue, followed by the other soldiers. As the weapons hit the statue, Pfennelik recoiled in agony, and the. The statue broke into pieces, Le Comte's limbs twisted into impossible angles, and as he screamed in agony without end, Captain Malon ordered the soldiers to collect everything within and seal the cellar door, and when the evidence was removed from the house, he ordered the mansion burned. Le Comte's madness obviated the need for a trial, and he was incarcerated indefinitely in Charenton.

When the revolution came, Beaumains deserted from the army, but the others remained loyal and were there when the doors were barred at the Hôtel des Menus-Plaisirs and when the Bastille was stormed. They all lived, but that was not the end of their story.

To be continued...


I don't have much comment about this one. It moved at a pretty quick pace because we didn't really have that much time in the session, so a lot of the combat was elided across, but from the perspective of our present characters we already knew the raid was successfully and most of what had happened there. It's that Part II that I'm curious about--what else is there to know?
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Tinkering away with various RPGs, but I thought maybe I should do more actual worldbuilding for the game I'm running. I've been thinking about the societies in the world and how their governments work. Here's a lot of works on that topic.

The different countries are detailed in this post and this post.

RPG Worldbuilding )
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
Originally I was tempted to end Darker than Black on week 50, since since was when we ended Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries, and since I have another food project planned waiting in the wings. Then I decided that we'd keep going for a while longer, as long as I could find more chocolate and these reviews didn't become too much of the same. Having decided to continue, I was originally planning to do the Taza Wicked Dark 95% Dark Stone-Ground Chocolate that my parents gave me for my birthday when they came into the city to celebrate with me last weekend, but as that link shows, we've already written about it! We get a lot of Raaka chocolate since we're signed up to a subscription service and most of it we just eat, but we don't really have any other chocolate I could write about in the house.

Fortunately, this chocolate was worth writing about.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Chicago)
At my Japanese lesson last Tuesday, Aya-sensei gave me a flier from a giant stack she was carrying around. Moth, the shop where she works at part-time, was having a huge sale, she explained, and she invited us to come. And we did.

When I described the store's decor to [twitter.com profile] slarnos, all light wood and airy spaces filled with Japanese and Nordic goods, clothesracks against the walls filled with monochromes, browns, and blues, a table in the center of the store covered in small candles, pots, and cups, he said that it sounded like a store for people who live inside magazine photoshoots. I myself had used the phrase "Kinfolk-ass store" to describe it, so I can't and won't dispute his claim. But there was a lot of tableware I'd love to have, and I did buy two things. The first is a set of cerulean dishes made by a Japanese designer whose name I didn't get. Aya-sensei told me that he was a pain to work with, requiring a lot of reassurance before he'd agree to sell his wares overseas, and that he had been ignoring the emails asking about getting further stock. The second was another matcha bowl:

Moth matcha bowl
I took a dozen photos and can't get it to focus perfectly, but this one shows the colors.

I don't know much about the performance of tea ceremony, but I do know how to make matcha. Right now we only have a single black bowl, but I already like the aesthetics on this one too. The black allows the matcha to contrast strongly, but the green here should be a good compliment.

The store's owner told me that the bowl was part of a collection by a Finnish woman married to a Japanese man. She also wrote a cookbook where she made all the tableware for the photos herself, but it's only in Finnish, of which I read none, though the photography is gorgeous. It's called 桜 Sakura: Japanilainen keittokirja (Sakura: Japanese cookbook). We also talked a bit about Japanese--the owner is studying because her job involves speaking to Japanese vendors and right now she has Aya-sensei do most of the go-between, but since she owns a store, she doesn't have as much time as she likes to actually study. She asked me how my Japanese was and I said, "I get by," and was pleasantly surprised when Aya-sensei took objection to my characterization. I suppose that is a little over-modest. I am reading a novel, after all. Emoji La

After buying those dishes and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd getting a pair of work heels she can leave at school on massive sale (60% off, I think), we said goodbye, turned down Aya-sensei's invitation to go to a party a friend of hers who owns a restaurant was throwing to celebrate their one-year anniversary since we had other plans, and went north up to the Bristol. Aya-sensei also recommended that to me a while ago, and since it was within walking distance of the Moth, it was our chance.

Delicious restaurant food within )

After dinner we hopped on the bus and went north to [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega's house to help her with a secret project related to DragonCon which I'll edit into this post next weekend once the plan is in motion! Then we went home and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd napped next to me on the couch while I watched Jeremy Parish play ten minutes of G.I. Joe: the Atlantis Factor before getting annoyed and switching to Super Mario Bros. 3. And now, after getting our shopping done, I'm playing Legend of Zelda: the Minish Cap and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is resting and working on her meals for the week.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!
dorchadas: (Link to the Past Comic Master Sword)
Originally I wasn't even going to play this on my chrono-gaming march toward Breath of the Wild. It's not a mainline Zelda game, after all. Then I happened to be reading an old interview with Aonuma Eiji that mentioned that there used to be a lot more story in the game about the Imprisoning War before Miyamoto came in, pulled a ちゃぶ台返し and most of the story was thrown out. I saw elsewhere that Four Sword Adventures featured Gufū (Eng: Vaati) as the villain, making it a good lead-in to The Minish Cap. And when I posted about it on Facebook, several people said they had a great time with it, so on the list it went.

I remember reading about it when Four Swords Adventures came out, but while I did have my sister's GameCube, I didn't have a Game Boy Advance, and I certainly didn't have four of them. Of my friends at the time, I think only [livejournal.com profile] sephimb had one. Four Swords Adventures sounded like a great game, but even at the time I remember people complaining about the high investment cost, and I lost interest and never actually realized that it doesn't require multiplayer. Dolphin does allow for multiplayer with Four Swords Adventures, but from the minimal research I did, it's a giant headache and anyway I don't have three other people to play with. The game is still plenty of fun by oneself.

The Japanese name just means "four swords" (yottsu no tsurugi +), though it's a little odd. Japanese uses counters for specific objects, like 人 for people, 冊 for printed or bound books, and so on. Long, thin objects, including swords, usually take 本, so I would expect the title to be yonhon no tsurugi. There may be some subtlety in the title that escapes me.

Legend of Zelda Four Swords Waterfall and Rainbow
This is probably my favorite screenshot I took.

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dorchadas: (Default)
I saw an article that Whole Foods is planning to lower prices starting Monday when the Amazon deal goes through. That's good for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I, since we're the perfect demographic for the deal--a well-off, urban couple who shop primarily at Whole Foods and have an Amazon Prime account. They specifically mention slashed prices on salmon, and that's money that goes right back into our budget because every morning I have rice, miso soup, pickles, and salmon for breakfast.

We don't have any brand loyalty, though. We shop at Whole Foods because it's within walking distance and it replaced the Dominick's that used to be there. A few years ago, we did most of our shopping at True Nature, an independently-run organic food co-op, but when Whole Foods opened they packed up and moved a mile and a half north, too far away to make regular grocery runs to on foot. We did our meat shopping at the local butcher, Holtzkopf's, and just this week I learned that they were closing for business and not relocating. And the Asian grocery store a few blocks south that we used to get our rice and miso from went to weekends-only, and I think has since closed for good, forcing us to go down to walk about twice as far south down to Little Saigon to get them.

We're lucky that we still can shop within walking distance, but nearly everything around that originally led us to pick where we moved to has since closed. Emoji Cute shrug

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got a new crockpot for her birthday last month, replacing the old one that we got as a wedding gift ten years ago. The new one is easier to clean, less bulky, black (hey, #aesthetic), and makes wonderful food like this:

2017-08-24 Chicken curry crockpot
Curry chicken in coconut milk broth.

When I came home, it had been cooking for twelve hours. It was sublime. I could eat curry every meal for the rest of my life and I would die a happy man.

Tonight I get even more delicious food, since it's [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture's birthday and she elected to have her party at Fogo de Chão. I've never been, though I've heard stories of the delicious piles of meat and the servers coming around and loading one's plate to bursting, and I'm looking forward to a meal fit for Sovngarde. Giant mountains of meat with vegetables on the side would be my second-most-desired every meal right after curry.

🌚

2017-Aug-22, Tuesday 09:27
dorchadas: (Music of the Spheres)
I didn't get a chance to see the entire eclipse because I was at work and I wasn't in the path of totality, but around 1:05 p.m. yesterday I left the office and went outside to the south terrace, where a couple hundred people were all gathered and watching the sky. I also didn't have eclipse glasses, but thanks to a tip online, I turned off my phone and watched the reflection of the eclipse in the glass. It was visible through the clouds and got a bit darker and colder, but it wasn't super dramatic. That didn't stop me from getting misty eyed, though, because nature is amazing. We knew this eclipse was coming in 1932!

My father was more dedicated than I was. He drove six hours downstate and took this picture:

2017-08-21 - Eclipse image
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I'm 35 today! Halfway through my three-score and ten.

Today is a low activity day. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd invited me to go along to the Glenwood Art Fair, but I've been pretty active for the rest of the weekend and I thought rather stay at home, so I've mostly been playing Four Swords Adventures and reading my RSS feeds. I did take a short break to go out collecting Pokemon and one of my eggs hatched into a ゴマゾウ.

The events happened yesterday and the day before. On Friday, I had the first birthday party I've had in over a decade and a half, and while it was sparsely attended because my birthday had the bad luck to fall on Gen Con weekend, I had a nice time. I went with a cyberpunk theme, because I already dress like this, and we got appropriate food to go with it. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd made street-vendor-style skewers and bought an incredibly salty seaweed salad, sōmen, and taiyaki from an Asian market nearby. [tumblr.com profile] goodbyeomelas had asked me earlier in the week if I wanted anything baked for the party, and then showed up with two caramel cheesecakes. One of them got eaten at the party, but we still have the second one in the fridge. Yum.

We got a bunch of alcohol and I came up with some on-theme drinks, too. Emoji Awesomeface Cylon

Here's the drinks menu )

I really liked the Company Man, actually. I'll probably have another one tonight so I can use up more of the syrup before it goes bad. And while I didn't specifically set out to do so, I thought it was funny that all the drinks were varying shades of green.

Last night, after Call of Cthulhu, my parents met us at our apartment and we walked into Andersonville to go to Anteprima for dinner. We got in after a short wait, and while the main room was deafeningly loud, they led us through it into the small courtyard in the back, so we were actually able to have a nice conversation and eat a large meal. I got the duck--the duck on the menu and my father requesting a place with food that my mother would eat were what led me to pick Anteprima in the first place--and it was delicious. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got a yellowtail dish that was almost good enough to make me wish that I had ordered it instead, but not quite. After dinner, and presents, my parents made the trip back to their house out in the suburbs, since they're still looking after my sister's dogs and so they couldn't stay too late.

A lot of what I asked for was silly Kirby and Warcraft goods, but I did get a set of bluetooth headphones, so maybe I can stop cutting it so close with my battery at work. An iPhone 7 and listening to podcasts all day don't mix very well with wired headphones.

And now, back to Legend of Zelda. Emoji Snapping Minish Cap
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​​Dramatis Personae
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Radovan Venclovic, Romani ex-soldier
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
  • Yan Nikolaev, Bulgarian police inspector
The next day was their appointment with Beylab the perspires, but not until the evening. At breakfast, they discussed the man and bear they had seen. Radovan was convinced he was benign, saying that anyone who an animal trusted couldn't be all bad, but Rosaline wasn't so sure. When Feyar arrived, the party asked him about the proper etiquette for the meeting. Feyar explained that no gifts were required, putting their minds at ease, and they decided to go investigate the Red Mosque. After a long walk through the city, they arrived at a crumbling building that pedestrians walked by without even a glance at its grim-encrusted walls. Several young men, perhaps a street gang, lounged in the doorway and beckoned, calling out "Nice things! Nice things!" and gesturing to the investigators. The countess approached, asking about the trinkets, but then asked about the gang and the mosque, no whether they had seen anything unusual in the mosque at night. Feyar translated the answer--that they sometimes saw other gangs, but no one else. She asked about the Brotherhood, but the gang had only heard rumors. They took the countess's money without incident, and the investigators left.

For a change of pace, the party spent some time on tourism at the Hagia Sophia. The ancient cathedral was glorious, but had seen better days. The Basilica Cistern was across the street, so that was their next destination. That was better kept up but empty of water. After lunch, they visited the Hippodrome, and then the time had come to go to the baths and meet with Beylab. Knowing that Beylab was a stickler for punctuality, the investigators made an effort to arrive on time, and entered the bathhouse and left the bustle of the street behind. The professor checked the skin of the other bathers, but none of them seemed to have any identifiable tattoos or marring of the skin. The women went off into their own section, and the men prepared to meet the perspirer.

Beylab was lounging on a navel stone in the bath, grossly fat, and awaiting his visitors. The professor, Yan, and Radovan approached as Beylab raised a hand, and they took places next to Beylab on the stone. He greeted the party and asked them what they want to know, and the professor mentioned the disappearances of children. Beylab explained that it was an evil statue-worshipping cult, and that the children had not appeared in the slave markets. He said that the cult extended to the city bureaucracy, and that the statue's destruction was key to ending the cult. The ritual of destruction was in the cemetery, in Garaznet's grave, and suggested that the break into the grave in the night. As he reached for water and made to speak more, a shape surged up out of the water behind him and cut his throat!

Radovan and Yan heard the roaring of flames and pulled the professor off the stone as fire surged up and seared the body of Beylab. As the assassin fled, the three gave chase before they were blocked by two other bathers. Yan noticed that one of them had a mismatched ear and the other had an eye that was cloudy, and shouted, "They're here!" He tried to shove past the men but they stood firm, and Radovan's sucker punch flew wide. They made no hostile action, and in a moment it was obvious why--the flesh of Beylab flowed off his bones like a wave, surging across the water toward the men like a red tide. One of the cultists was caught by the monster, shrieking in pain as it reared up over him and began devouring him, and the party fled in terror leaving the screams behind.

There were already police outside, and when they saw the Europeans one approached and spoke in broken English, asked them to stay and and give their statements. Another policeman entered the bath and returned in moments, vomiting in the street. Another policeman later took the investigators statements, and the professor left out the parts about the cult or the monster, describing only a madman assassinating someone else in public. The police called a cab and they returned to their hotel, where the professor explained what Beylab had told them. They debated what to do, but quickly decided that they could not visit the graveyard tonight. Yan and the professor dressed and went down to dinner and had a long awkward conversation about their backgrounds, while the others had dinner sent up to their rooms.

The next morning, there was a message from the British Embassy requesting their immediate presence, so they bolted down their coffee and took the car provided. They were met by Sir Douglas Rutherford, in a clear agitation. He got right to the point, saying that his son was abducted in the last night, and asked for their help. The investigators agreed, and the ambassador said that his son James was last seen in the embassy garden and that he suspected the servants. He summoned the servants, and they stood in a line while the investigators examined them. One servant had mismatched eyes, and when he noticed the attention, he took a step back. The professor shouted to arrest him, and as guards appeared and seized him, the servant screamed that the Brotherhood had the boy and there was no hope. The Skin Beast would come and all of them were doomed. As he struggled, the tattoo suddenly revealed on his arm writhed and the skin of his face drew inward, flowing down his mouth and choking him to death.

Later, as they were drinking brandy with the ambassador, he said that he suspected the Red Mosque and while police searches had turned up nothing, he no longer trusted the police. The professor asked for excavating equipment, and while Sir Douglas was suspicious of his reasoning, he offered to provide it. He further suggested they speak to Lieutenant Douglas Hennessy about the British officer's death. The lieutenant met them in the lobby of their hotel, and the professor noticed that he was extremely nervous, constantly glancing around at the passersby. After asking what they knew, he said that the Drakes were part of a continent-wide smuggling and vice ring known for flaying people. He said that Evelyn was suspected in a murder, shortly before she disappeared, and that a local member named Phelps had recently turned up dead, but Yan realized that he was holding something back. The countess pushed further, mentioning the flayings that the investigators had encountered, and the lieutenant revealed that Mr. Phelps was deformed, half his face having been seemingly melted. The lieutenant said he was being transferred out, but asked that they tell Sir Douglas anything they discovered, and then he left.

After preparing, the investigators went down to the docks to hire a boat. Feyar suggested hiring a fishing boat, and they chartered the boat of a man named Haqim. And they were crossing the straight, Rosaline and Radovan noticed another fishing boat crossing on a similar course, but it remained at sea instead of docking, and it was too far away to make out any details. They landed and Haqim promised to wait, and the party made the short walk to the cemetery.
The countess's player: "Is this grave-robbing? Three of us are white. It's archeology."
After two hours of searching they found the tomb of Garaznet, its letters almost entirely faded away from the weathering of centuries. As Radovan and Yan began digging, Radovan noticed that the dirt wasn't as packed-down as it should be, but shrugged and kept digging. After some time, as the shovels clinking against a stone box, a man approached. He was babbling, in tattered robes, and Feyar explained that he was called the "Companion to the Dead." The professor listened, but most of what the beggar said was nonsense. He urged on their digging and said that "they" were numerous tonight as Yan and Radovan levered open the tomb of Garaznet, but when he heard the sound of stone on stone, he screamed "Don't let him out!" and leapt onto the countess and professor, flailing away. Eventually he backed away as an overwhelming foetor comes from the tomb. The lib slid back, and inside was a bubbling vat of flesh!

The flesh flowed out of the tomb and wrapped around one of the countess's legs as Rosaline began screaming in panic and Yan staggered around sightlessly. The professor threw a lantern onto the monster but it seemed to have no effect, and as he was looking for another weapon, dozens of shapes appeared out of the darkness and the Brothers of the Skin captured the party. The party was disarmed and tied to stone monuments with the weapons just out of reach and formed a circle, which parted to reveal six cultists carrying a squirming bundle. Four others brought in an older man, ancient and shriveled, on a chair born on their shoulders. He questioned them about the scrolls and the statue, but the party was silent. After a short moment, the old man looked at Radovan and began muttering. Radovan's skin twitched and seemed to rot, and Radovan shrieked for a moment and then slumped in his bonds. After further questioning, the old man again muttered and the same thing happened to Yan, though before he fell unconscious, Yan yelled that the simulacrum was in the bank vault.

Content warning: Violence toward children )

On the Golden Horn, Aktar led them to his room, a small cluttered dwelling. In the light, he seemed vaguely familiar, but none of the investigators could place it. Aktar revealed that he was disguised as a Roma, but actually worked for Ataturk spying out threats to Turkey. His daughter had been kidnapped by the cult, and he had followed the cult to their headquarters and found what remained of his daughter. He suggested they join forces and fight the cult. The investigators agreed, and they decided that they needed to get to the Sedefkar Simulacrum before the cult did. They arrived, leaving Radovan and Yan behind in Aktar's room, and found the bank closed, so they immediately changed tack and went to the hotel. The front desk clerk asked them if they had gone and come back--the cult had obviously already been there. Their roomed had Ben searched, and the scroll was missing. Aktar suggested that they must go to the cultist's headquarters immediately and warn the British and French, and they traveled to the cistern where the secret entrance to the cult's headquarters was. The stairs led down into water, but there was a small boat, and Aktar rowed them through the water to a secret passage, and the investigators travel down a spiral staircase. At the bottom were ooze-covered walls and a small door, on the other side of which was a tomb lit by a greenish glow and covered with horrific carvings.

Across the chamber was an antechamber with a guard facing away from them. Rosaline whispered that he had to be subdued, and Aktar drew a knife, crept behind the cultist, and cut his throat. As lights entered the room, shelves of scrolls were revealed, but a quickly glance didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary and the group continued on through a surgical room separated from the main room of the mosque by a curtain. The professor peeked out and saw a large group of cultists, but they were all facing away from the curtain, so the investigators slipped out into the room next door, only to find that it was a meat locker filled with disembodied limbs. There was also the body of a skinned woman hanging on a meat hook, and when the countess saw it she gasped but steeled herself. Rosaline noticed a pearl necklace lying on the floor, and she discretely pocketed it.

There was nowhere else but he main chamber, so the investigators snuck into the mosque chamber and crept into the crowd. In the center, under the mosque dome, is a stone slab with five indentations carved into it. Five children, James Rutherford among them, were led into the chamber and waited nervously near the slab. Aktar suggested that he would create a distraction while the others rescued the children, and lacking options, they agreed. As they waited, red-robed figures brought out the Simulacrum and placed it into the indentations on the slab. The old man also came out and pulled a scroll out of his robes, and began chanting. The professor understood part of the ritual, asking for power through the suffering of the flesh. As he stepped forward to end the ritual, his mouth sealed itself shut. The investigators began to usher the children out of the mosque, Aktar shouted, "foreign traitors!" and stepped forward, seizing the scroll, and completes the ritual. The statue absorbed itself into his flesh, and Aktar laughed manically and revealed himself as Mehmet Makryat, son of Selim Makryat, the new master of the Brotherhood of the Skin, and ordered the cultists to kill their old master, which they did with enthusiasm.

The investigators tried to run, but they were overwhelmed and escorted away. They were led past other cells full of maimed and mutilated prisoners, begging and whining, and shut into a cell on the top of the minaret of the Shunned Mosque. The professor understood some of the guard's speech--they were discussing the "flapping man," who might come for them, and they were desperate to retreat. As they left, the light revealed a shape in the corner, limbless and eyeless, covered in a blanket. He shouted out at the party, and Rosaline recognized the voice of Professor Smith before he fell unconscious.

Hours later, the door opened to reveal Mehmet Makryat, who lit a cigarette and monologued about his plan. He had impersonated Professor Smith from the beginning, setting the investigators on their entire quest, and revealed that he had been following them along the way and helping them overcome their difficulties. He thanked them for helping him defeat his father, and asked them how they had defeated Le Comte. They did not answer, and Mehmet explained that the Simulacrum's power was corrupting them already and they had only one hundred hours remaining in their lives, and that he was off to London to retrieve the Ritual of Cleansing that would save him from the Simulacrum's effects. With a smile, he said that he would unchain them so that they could see their bodies fall into slime, and he left. When he did, Professor Smith confirms Mehmet's story, but he said that the brothers believed the Flapping Man was a spirit of rage, and they could use that to escape. After some time, a pair of guards arrived to unshackle the investigators. As the countess passed Professor Smith, she flapped the blanket and screamed, and the the guards ran back down the stairs. Rosaline looked at Professor Smith and, after a short internal struggle, she slit his throat to end his suffering. Then the investigators fled down the stairs past the cells, past flayed skins, and the countess grabbed one and put it on. She ran out and babbled in a mix of languages, and the Brothers ran screaming in fear. The countess heard something behind her, and turned to see the real Flapping Man charging the Brothers. With that as a distraction, the party ran. Outside was James Rutherford, who ran up to them as they fled, as the sunrise washed the walls of the Shunned Mosque with blood-red light..
Annals of the Fallen
  1. Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist, arm torn off by čudovište in Vinkovci, February 8th, 1923.
  2. Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic, devoured by the living lair of the Baba Yaga in the forests outside Orašac, February 13th, 1923.
  3. Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist, killed by a thrown grenade during a battle with the Butchers at Sofiiski Universet, February 15th, 1923.
  4. Radovan Venclovic, Romani Ex-Soldier, driven to madness by the beast of flesh in the cemetery at Üsküdar, February 20th, 1923.
Over three thousand words. This was action-packed from beginning to end.

This part is, frankly, one of the weakest parts of the entire campaign--not only is it a railroad from start to finish, it has the players betrayed and captured by someone they thought would be their ally multiple times in sequence and the revelation that the entire quest across Europe and everything they accomplished was all at the bidding of the villain, so it would have been better if the PCs had just ignored Professor Smith's plea entirely and went on with their lives. I knew this was coming, and I've known for the entire game, so it didn't bother me that much. And it is a cosmic horror game, so it does a good job of showing the investigators' actions coming to naught. But as a roleplaying game device, it's poor form.

[livejournal.com profile] mutantur said that the new version of the campaign has an option to end in a climactic battle at the Shunned Mosque where the PCs kill Mehmet Makryat and destroy the cult once and for all, which allows for immediate revenge. It's not how the scenario originally went, however, so we're going to do the original ending. That means there's two, maybe three more games and then we're done with the Horror on the Orient Express! Emoji ~ Cat smile
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
A while ago, I wrote up a description of elves for a science-fantasy RPG setting I'm working on. I liked them, but they were based on elves as creatures of Faerie and didn't really have anything science-fiction about them at all, so now I went back and changed them a lot and I think they fit a lot better:

Elf
The elves have always been a people apart. Before the coming of the Mist, the elves were united by the Elven Court of the Elder Wood, the center of elven civilization. There the Queen ruled, advised by the oldest of her people and the spirits of the forest. Even the far-flung communities in other forests paid homage to the Elven Court, their bonds aided by the Emerald Roads that facilitated travel from elven community to community.

The Mist ended that forever. As it washed over the Elder Wood, the elves made a choice. Some of them gave themselves fully to the rule of the forest spirits, forsaking such technology as they used and following the dictates of their shamans. Others saw the changes that the Mist wrought in those creatures it touched and determined to learn from them. They studied the Changed, using all their magic to form bastions among the woods to hold the Mist at bay, and developed the art of fleshcrafting. The former are known as the wild elves, and the latter as the mist elves.

There are rumors of a third group, who fled underground to avoid the Mist rather than ascending to the heights. It is said that the Mist changed them as they fled, that they worship spirits of fungus and spider and unclean things, and that they have tunnels under the surviving lands and raid the surface for slaves. But theses are merely rumors.

Physical Description: Generally taller than humans, elves possess a graceful, slender physique seemingly made of bark, vines and foliage. They vary greatly in appearance, as wild as nature itself. They encompass the colors of all plant life, tending towards shades of green and brown. Their hair grows leaves and branches. The older they are, the more growths they have, sometimes becoming long twisted vines that hang to their waist or longer. Their flesh is wooden, smooth when they are young and furrowing more and more as they grow older until it resembles the gnarled bark of an ancient tree. Their eyes vary from virgin wood green, morning sun gold, rich brown earth, to deep sky blue, but always a solid color with neither pupil nor iris visible.

The wild elves live in the forests and frequently dress in animal skins or clothing of bark and leaves, whereas mist elves wear suits designed to keep off the mist and work with fleshcrafted creatures, or the symbiotic armor given to their warriors.

Society: Where the elves were once unified, now there is a great division among them. The wild elves are ruled by shamans who speak to the forest spirits and look up to the warriors who practice supernatural martial arts learned from the spirits of the animals around them. The mist elves delve ever deeper into the arts of fleshwarping in the hope of discovering the secret of adaptation to the Mist without losing themselves to it.

There are still some similarities, however. Both cultures have a deep-seated appreciation for artistry and craftsmanship, and whether it’s a carved wooden chair or a piece of living furniture, an elven artisan will always work to their utmost and take pride in their work. Magic is held is high esteem, and the lifeshapers of the mist elves and spiritspeakers of the wild elves are some of the most honored members of their communities.

Relations: Others were always suspicious of the elves because of their insularity, and their new behavior has not changed that. It is the wild elves who are the most well-thought-of, because while they are savage and unpredictable, at least their powers are understandable. Wild elves get along especially well with grippli and sesheyans, who share their wilderness homes. Whatever it is that the mist elves are doing in their living strongholds makes the other races nervous, and their appearance, swathed entirely in robes or with visible symbiotic grafts attached to their bodies, does not allay that concern. There are some elves who live in the patchwork human cities that sprang up after the Mist came, but they are often not entirely trusted there, even after long years of residence.

And here's a picture I found on the internet that's a pretty good visual inspiration:



Pathfinder game mechanics )

Exalted stats )

Maybe someday, I'll actually be able to run this.

It can happen here

2017-Aug-16, Wednesday 09:05
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
Posting today instead of tomorrow because there's no farmer's market dinner this week. Now that the school term is starting at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's workplace, her summer break is over and she can't consistently make time to gather ingredients for dinner anymore. There may be sporadic farmer's market dinners before the market closes in October--those meals are really good--but it's no longer a routine thing.

Charlottesville affected me more than I thought it would. Some of it was reading accounts like this one from a local synagogue, about how the police refused to provide protection and they had to hire private security to protect from roving bands of Nazis. Or this account of weapons caches, similar to what happened in Rwanda, indicating that the Nazis were using Charlottesville as a training exercise for a para-military operation somewhere else. And then the President of the United Sates of America revealed that he's a Nazi sympathizer at a press conference, so the Nazis' goals were mostly achieved. Great. 2017. emoji head in hands

It reminds me of an old statement I read by a rabbi from centuries ago that history was divided into periods of persecution and periods of leniency. A lot of young Jews seemed to think that the cycle had been broken, at least in America, and that the concerns of their elders were overblown. I suspect they don't think that anymore.

At least the weather's nice. I'm not sure we've had a day over 30°C for the entire month of August and the weather report shows that it won't get higher than that for the next upcoming week either. Since my preferred clothing style includes pants at all times, I appreciate the deference the atmosphere is showing me.

I started playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (well, ゼルダの伝説:4つの剣+) and I'm filled with immense nostalgia for A Link to the Past. Four Swords Adventures reuses a lot of the sprites and music from ALttP, but also has a lot of toonification from Wind Waker. The bomb explosions are cel-shaded, a lot of the enemies are round and blobby, and the water effects are much more liquid-based than pixelized. The gameplay is all hack and slash, but I'm finding it surprisingly fun so far. We'll see if that's still true after I get past the second area.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
This is about the Nazi rally yesterday.

Not about how the President of the United States of America is a Nazi, sympathizer, though he clearly is. Trump is perfectly capable of making strong, unambiguous statements when he has something he's actually interested in condemning. Saying "hatred, bigotry and violence on many side" is implicitly blaming those targeted by the Nazis as much as the Nazis. Trump cannot condemn racism and white supremacy because Trump is a racist and a white supremacist.

This isn't about the idiotic free speech arguments claiming that Nazis arguing that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I should die are equivalent to us saying that perhaps we should not. It's the worst kind of Is-Ought fallacy, arguing that because that's currently the way that the First Amendment is interpreted that makes it somehow the best possible interpretation. They may say that this sort of free speech makes America great, but what I hear is, "We will only come to your defense when it's already too late."

Well, it's about those inasmuch as I've mentioned them. Emoji Cute shrug

No, it's about the claims that this "isn't America" that I've seen from politicians. In response to those, I submit this article. Madison Square Garden, 1939. Twenty thousand people showed up to cheer Hitler and complain about Roosevelt's "Jew Deal." And before that, when the Nazis were laying out the Nuremberg Laws, the meetings they held on the topic repeatedly returned to American legal segregation as an inspiration. The Nazis were, of course, perfectly capable of coming up with these laws on their own, but the fact that they looked to America is a lesson that many of us need to remember.

This is America. Most of the problems we still have can be directly traced back to slavery and the legacy of racism it left. The lack of socialized health care (partially scuttled by southern politicians' fear of integrated hospitals), the police state, Republican voter suppression efforts, a lack of a robust welfare state...

The hatred is coming from inside the house.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Happy 25th anniversary, Kirby!

I ordered a bon voyage Kirby plush since they were available for the anniversary, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I started watching the Kirby anime, but of course, Kirby started out as a video game character. What better way to celebrate his existence than by playing the games that birthed him? I originally thought about playing Kirby's Adventure, the first Kirby game I ever played and the one that cemented my love for the series, but that's a several-hour commitment if I want to find all the secrets and unlock every part of the map. Kirby's Dream Land is bite-sized. I finished it in an hour and a half and it was fantastic.

Strange, coming primarily from later games, but fantastic.

Kirby's Dream Land eat enemy
Kirby, just let Waddle Dee waddle be!

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
Wind Waker is one of the few Zelda games I've played and beaten around the time it came out, along with only the original Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time. My sister owned a GameCube and kept up with the releases, though she never played the games for that long. She pre-ordered the limited edition--I still have the bonus disc with the Ocarina of Time Master Quest on it--and I'm not sure she ever played it, but when I came home from university that summer, I did. I played through and beat the game without reading any of the online invective about it and I really liked it. I didn't care about the happy, cartoony graphics. That was the year that Call of Duty first came out, and I was busy playing Morrowind and Warcraft III. Something light and happy was refreshing, especially when I spent every weekday at a summer job that I hated and was going to spend the next semester studying abroad in Ireland. At the time, it might even have been my favorite Zelda game.

On replaying, it's still good, but the cracks stand out to me in a way they didn't then.

The Japanese title, as is often true, is simple and straightforward--kaze no takuto, "The Baton of the Winds."

Wind Waker - Ship firing Cannon at shore
Incoming!

Read more... )

I'm interesting!

2017-Aug-10, Thursday 08:54
dorchadas: (Default)
At our last class, Aya-sensei told me that unlike some of her other students, the two of us never end up staring at each other without having anything to talk about. A lot of her students are software developers, apparently, so that's a big portion of their interest. But explaining programming concepts to someone who isn't a programmer can be complex enough in a language both of you are fluent in, much less trying to do so in a language you're learning. I know what functions are, and while I might be able to explain them, I'd have to do so in very abstract terms like 箱のようなものだ ("It's something like a box") unless I looked up a lot of vocab during the conversation. In contrast, Aya-sensei and I mostly talk about food, travel, and TV, podcasts, and games during free chat, all subjects about which we have a lot to say.

"Function" is 関数 (kansū), by the way. I had to look that up.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

I ordered two pairs of pants recently but had to return both of them, one for being slightly ill-fitting and the other for basically being parachute pants. And then today, I noticed just before I left for work that my most-recently-purchased pair of pants from before that already had a hole in it. It's on the back of my lower leg so not in a vital location, and it's not like these pants fit that well already. But still, I thought I would be up two pairs of pants and now I'm down one. Emoji Uncertain ~ face

I took the afternoon off tomorrow and we're going out to India House for lunch, and after that we're going to have to go shopping for more pants. Maybe in a brick-and-mortar store, they'll be able to find something that actually fits me (30" waist, 36" leg). Though I'm not super hopeful, since I tried to get a dress shirt there before and they didn't have any with sleeves long enough for me...

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