dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
2017-10-17 08:52 am

[WotMK: Hexcrawl] Session Thirty-One

Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
    • Hundred Wings, Father James' familiar spirit bound into a bodies of dozens of ravens.
  • Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The party rode down the ramp around the pipe and spoke to the tower town guard, who waved them through after making they bound their weapons in their sheaths. Elaphe tied an elaborate knot shaped like a rose, causing one guard to take a step back, but then they were allowed to enter. They were in a crowded square, with a tea house on one side under the sign of a roaring lion next to a large public notice board, which Amos immediately went to look at. In Floral, Muskalan, Sarasan, and other languages the party didn't speak among them, there were calls for companions to go into Etemenanki and find treasure, advertisements for businesses, and a call to find a missing child. There was a notice for mercenaries to come to Fontina, and a note half-pasted over it warning mercenaries away and saying that something suspicious was happening there. They took note of a bounty on some gigases that were lairing west of tower town as well as the standing bounty on putting the dead to rest in the ruined parts of the city, and then entered the tea house.

It was quickly obvious that they'd fit right in. The ceilings were high and there was a roaring fire in the center of the room. In the back was a blonde human woman, drinking by herself, and to the left of the entrance were two kremlings and a heavily-muscled frog person playing some sort of dice game. Two starfolk were drinking next to the fire, while a couple tables over a man dressed in a toga with feathered white wings and shockingly purple hair sat with his head in his hands. And behind the bar, wiping down the surface, was a lynel.

Willow ducked out to invoke a quick ritual and returned, his skin shining and flower petals falling from the air around him, and bargained for their stay. The lynel was unmoved by his beauty, however, and they handed over the money for a week's room and board as well as stabling for their mounts. After a quick dinner and ice-cold mushroom beer chilled by the lynel's touch, Elaphe went up to their room to rest, Father James went outside to earn some cash through palmistry, and Willow went over to talk to the winged man. He blearily looked up when Willow approached and gladly told his story: his name was Hemah, and he said he had been cursed by a "vegetable wizard" during in invasion of the "kingdom of the sky," and in response he had been exiled. He hadn't found anything that could break the curse and eagerly seized on Willow's suggestion that he could help, and he called Shining Star over. She quickly determined that the curse on him was not demonic in nature and couldn't easily be broken with her sorcery, but thought that it might be worth asking the starfolk.

As Hemah slumped back onto the table, Shining Star bought drinks for the starfolk and introduced herself as a priestess of Nyahré. One of them spoke Muskalan, and excitedly--and slightly drunkenly--greeted her. In response to her questions, he said he was just a farmer, but that Kimé, the other starfolk, was a guardian-in-training and may be able to help. They gathered around Hemah, but Kimé's efforts were also in vain, for now. Shining Star asked the lynel about libraries, and he said there were various private libraries in tower town and their best bet would be to ask a sorcerer, so Shining Star made a note to do that in the morning. She bought another round of drinks, and as thanks, Kimé cast a spell that cleansed her of all the dust and grime of travel.

As Hemah continued his melancholy and Shining Star talked with the starfolk, Amos slipped out to walk the streets. He saw mostly shops and residences, though he took note of the building with a blazing sun and sand as well as the faerie, the universal symbol for a healer, on the shingle. The neighborhood had the feel of a boom town, all excitement and hope, and it wasn't as run-down and fearful as Rockfort or Gyere had been. He nodded at Father James as he passed him, and eventually made his way back to the tea house.

While he was gone, Willow took a seat at the back of the bar with the woman. After he introduced himself, the woman questioned him, asking him something in Latin, and then asking if he was from Egypt or Libya, and who had been the tribunes when he left. After some back and forth, Willow established that he was from far in her future, from a land beyond "The Pillars of Hercules," and she said that she had been born to freed slaves and made a life for herself in Egypt until the conflict between Marcus Antonius and Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus forced her to flee. She lost her way in a sandstorm and wound up in Agarica. She said her name was Valeria, and Willow suggested that Amos had an interest in her. She took it in stride, and Willow took his leave. She also briefly talked to the lynel and learned that, while lynel do not give their names to those outside their tribe, people called him Old Lion and he thought it was fitting.

After meeting up at the tea house, the party went to sleep. The next morning, Father James's wounds burned with a dull ache and red lines were extending from under the bandage up his side, so he knew he needed immediate medical attention. Amos told him about the healer he had found, and after breakfast, the party left the tea house to attend to their missions. Shining Star and the two starfolk went to find a library; and Elaphe, Willow, and Amos went to a market to get appraisals on the Imperium coins from the ziggurat and the crystals they had found in the vampire's lair. Elaphe also bought some potions from an alchemist that promised to increase the senses.

Father James went to the healer after borrowing some money from Elaphe. He attempted to ingratiate himself, but the healer, a white-furred chuzan with shining golden eyes, was incredibly brusque, poking him in the wound, shutting down all his attempts at conversation, and demanding full payment up front. When Father James paid, the healer ordered him onto cot and began chanting. His hands glowed, stronger and stronger, until it filled the room and Father James could see the veins in his eyelids, and the the pain in his wound suddenly vanished. A few more incantations and flashes of light, and the wounds were almost entirely healed. Father James thanked him, but the healer hurried him out and, with a quick "Tell your friends!" closed the door behind him.


Next time, Etemenanki! Or maybe hunting gigases, since Elaphe's player is keen on that. Anything that's corporeal, without a lot of supernatural might, and will bleed when he stabs it.

I like the games that take place in larger cities because they let me show off more of the cosmopolitan nature of WotMK. I deliberately tried to avoid the D&D approach where everyone lives in their isolated kingdoms and there's no cultural exchange or immigration. Tower town especially is an adventurer's dream with a giant megadungeon right next door, so people from all over come there. Like fallen starfolk--Shining Star's player has made it a mission to get them back to the Star Road--or frog people.

I've got a map of part of the tower I've been waiting to use for over a year, so I expect the party will go hunt gigases. We'll see!
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
2017-10-15 08:26 pm

Damp Sunday night

No Darker than Black today, since we did our shopping today instead of yesterday. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was busy most of yesterday, and also there were torrential rains almost all day. Not good weather for being out at all.

I did go out into it briefly, though. There's no Call of Cthulhu Replay even though game was scheduled because there were two cancellations at the last moment. Since we were all already on the way, [livejournal.com profile] mutantur, [tumblr.com profile] goodbyeomelas, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and I played Eldritch Horror. We fought the King in Yellow and won, barely--he awakened, but we managed to enter the gates and defeat him at the last moment. One more turn and we all would have gone insane and doomed the world. It's like the advice I heard about the perfect RPG experience being that the heroes should win, but barely. It produced that, though we didn't have the time to really get into it and read out all the cards.

No rain today, but we still stayed indoors for most of the day listening to podcasts and I played Stardew Valley. I was planning to play more Trails in the Sky SC, but instead I got almost all the way through summer, year two. I finally picked someone to marry as well. More on that when I finish the game I write my review. Maybe before the end of the year since I want to beat it in single-player before the multiplayer patch comes out. Then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I will have a farm together. Emoji glomp

Speaking of podcasts, I found a new one to listen to. A genre I really like is in-world history lessons or lore explorations, like the Neo-Anarchist Podcast for Shadowrun or The Signal for Numenera. The one I found is called The Dark Archive, about the World of Darkness. It literally just started, so I don't know how far it's going to go, but since I'm rereading all my old Vampire books it came at the perfect time.

Also because this week was Parashat Bereshit and we had people over for Shabbat dinner. I had a very hard time while I was reading out the parasha before the discussion not thinking of The Book of Nod. Genesis 4:17-22 is basically "That's a vampire, that's a vampire, that's a vampire..."

Alright, let's see if I can get further in Trails in the Sky.
dorchadas: (Autumn Leaves Tunnel)
2017-10-13 09:35 am

Autumn has finally come

Spare me from management's idiotic initiatives.

The temperature has finally dropped. There's a chill in the air when I leave for work in the morning, and the leaves are starting to change. The week before last it was still up to 30°C, so I'm really glad fall has arrived. And I found a relevant fall icon that combines the colors of leaves with the spookiness that everyone associates with October. All I can think of when looking that are the warnings not to come on the fair folk in their revels. It's the perfect mix.

I found an autumn poem by Ueda Chōshū too in an article about haiku linked by a friend:
砕けても
砕けてもあり
水の月
-上田聴秋
And my translation:
Though broken
And broken again by water still
The moon is there
The moon is an autumn seasonal reference (季語, kigo) for haiku. Maybe the waxing and waning symbolizes the dying of the year?

Stardew Valley is out on Switch, and while I'm not getting it there because I don't care that much about portability--usually when I'm out somewhere, I'm reading Twitter on my phone or checking my various RSS feeds rather than using that time to play games--but it has gotten me back into it on PC. I have the forest farm layout, so most of it is given over to grass for animals and fruit trees. I turn fruit into wine and jam, milk cows and make cheese, pick up eggs and make mayonnaise, and sell all the products. It's the perfect small-batch artisanal craftsmanship simulator with none of the actual hard work of craftsmanship. And living in the countryside with none of the backbiting cliquery or viciousness. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop

There was a post in that Japanese woman's blog I found about the countryside, since her German in-laws live in a small town where they grow grapes in the backyard. It ends with:
田舎って退屈で不便と思う人もいるかもしれませんが、私は充実した時間がゆったり流れている気がして好きなんです

"There might be people who think the countryside is boring or inconvenient, but the time is fulfilling and I like how it seems to flows in a relaxed way."
When I was in high school I just wanted to move to the big city, which is part of why I wanted to go to Penn. And now I live in Chicago, and really like it. But living in Chiyoda taught me the good parts about small towns in the country, and sometimes I miss the songs of the frogs and long walks through the fields.
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
2017-10-10 02:48 pm

Gaming Made Me: Three Anniversaries

I was thinking of posting this a few days ago, but I'm glad I waited because something else came up.

The Saturday before last was the 20th anniversary of Fallout, as I was reminded of by this RPS article. I heard of it the way I heard of most new computer games, through PC Gamer and its demo discs. After playing the demo, set in a town called Scrapheap and dealing with conflict between warring gangs, I was hooked. I got the game not long after it came out and played it three or four times before the sequel came out, which I played another half-dozen times. Both of these would foreshadow the thousand hours I spent in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

I remember poring over the character creation screen, picking the Gifted perk because of the bonus to stats, and tagging Speech, Science, and Energy Weapons, thus setting the template of being playing a cerebral sniper/wizard in basically every RPG I ever played. The early part of the game was brutal, but I persevered, found a laser gun, talked my way into people's good graces, and eventually made my way into the cathedral where I engaged the final boss in a duel of wits, demonstrated to him the impossibility of his plan, and in his despair, he set off the self-destruct sequence. I beat a boss without firing a shot.

That stuck with me, though mostly nowadays in how rarely games allow it.

I have a half-finished Fallout game on my PC now, where I tried to go through with an unarmed build but gave up because I couldn't find any unarmed weapons. Maybe I should go back to it and try to finish it off. I still remember everything.


Last week Monday was the American release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I was reminded about by this Retronauts article. When it came out I had no idea it existed--the most recent Castlevania game I had played in 1997 was Dracula's Curse--but [livejournal.com profile] uriany bought it and we played it together. He already knew how to access the inverted castle, and where everything was, so he guided me through the game.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever because of the sheer degree of options and the chaos they unleash. It's not hard, but who cares? There are boots that "discretely increases height" that make Alucard's sprite one pixel taller. There's "Alucart" knock-off gear that increases his luck. There's armor that turns Alucard into an Axelord. There's an accessory that shoots lightning. And we killed Dracula with all of them. Balance is worthwhile, but it's not always the most important part of a game and it's possible to have fun without it. The fun in Symphony of the Night is in the variety of possibilities and the sense of discovery.

There's a dodo that drops a sword that spells out VERBOTEN when Alucard swings it. What more do you want? Emoji La


And yesterday was the original release of The Orange Box (RPS link), quite possibly the most dollar value I've ever gotten from a gaming product since Master of Magic. 2007 was when I was heavily into World of Warcraft and my gaming was mostly $15 a month plus the occasional other game--from summer 2007 to summer 2008 is the year I played Xenogears and Ōkami for the first time too--and then the Orange Box came out with Half-Life 2 plus Episodes 1+2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

It's funny to think that Half-Life 2 is probably the least consequential of those games, because at the time it felt monumental. That's before Valve stopped making games and before we understood how amazing Portal was. Team Fortress 2 may have since descended into a military-themed haberdashery, but as someone who played a ton of original HL Team Fortress at university, I got hundreds of hours out of it. It was especially fun playing while I was living in Japan. There were two servers I would habitually join. One downloaded roughly 200 sound clips when I first joined and the game was a aural assault of anime quotes spammed by people typing in text commands. The other was silent, organized, and everyone typed "otu" (otu -> お疲れ -> "thanks for your hard work") at the end of every match. It's Japan in microcosm, right in those two servers.

Portal memes were annoying, but the game deserved every bit of mind-share it got in popular culture. It was a complete experience in three hours, funny and charming and a little poignant all at once. I still have the companion cube plushy that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd snagged during one of its rare periods of availability. I remember friends being envious of it.

Portal II was too long, but Portal is nearly a perfect game.


("Gaming Made Me" comes from a similar feature that RPS does. Links here)
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
2017-10-08 06:23 pm

Darker than Black, Week 54: Sugarfina Dark Choc Sea Salt Caramels

This has been sitting in our fridge for a while after we bought it when [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b was in town. There's a candy store where people can make their own "candy bento," by which they mean taking several pre-packaged boxes of candy and putting them in a box together. Without rice, of course. They didn't even try to make some kind of sweetened coconut rice.

I was wearing my usual clothing, which is to say that I looked like a refugee from some kind of post-apocalyptic enclave that has finally fallen to the raiders and whose inhabitants had been forced to flee into the wastes, and standing near a display while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd bought these caramels. A woman walked up to the table and picked up a box, and then said to me that the candy looked lemon-flavored. I smiled, and then she asked, "Are these lemon-flavored?" I informed her that I did not work there and she apologized and went to find someone who did. This isn't the first time I've been confused for an employee, but usually it's at a particular kind of clothing store, not a brightly-lit candy store in the same building as Nordstrom.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Majora A Terrible Fate)
2017-10-06 09:35 am

The end of a digital era

AIM is shutting down December 15th.

I'm not one of the people who still use AIM. For a while I kept it running through Pidgin for the last couple of people that I used to talk to on it, but they either drifted away or moved to other services. After a few months without a single message, I stopped loading it up, and never bothered installing it when I replaced my computer. Whatever chat logs I had are long since gone.

But so much of my life has been conducted through AIM. All the social planning when I was at university, talking to friends on weekday nights before text messages were free, people I met online or through my pre-MMO gaming days, like the first online freedom RP I ever participated in (check the character page and guess who I was!) or the Neverwinter Nights persistent server I joined for a while.

AIM was how I met [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and most of how we kept in contact when we weren't playing World of Warcraft.

I haven't even thought of it in months. I do all my chatting now through Facebook messenger, Gchat, or just iMessage because my phone is always with me. It's more convenient and I'm not tied to my computer. But this, added with Photobucket's self-inflicted demise or Livejournal's transformation, it's a reminder that even though people say the Internet is forever, that's not true. Especially when so much of the internet is corporate territory that they can shut down or change beyond recognition at any time, without any warning. The Internet already is the cyberpunk dystopia that we were promised, corporate fiefdoms and all. Emoji Scrooge Capitalism

I should get the AIM log-on and log-off sounds and put them on my phone.
dorchadas: (Default)
2017-10-03 03:10 pm

シカゴの夏はちょうどいい

Still plugging away at special projects at work. Still using an excel spreadsheet, as mentioned in my previous post, because there's no system for dealing with projects because everything that needs to be processed goes into a giant pond and there's no way of sorting them. Computers. Emoji Psyduck

When looking for a topic for today's Japanese class, I found the blog of a Japanese woman married to a German man and living in Chicago, entitled シカゴの夏は短かすぎ ("Summer in Chicago is too short"). There's not actually that much about Chicago as such, but there are articles about restaurants she goes to, quirks of an international marriage, travel, and daily life. I disagree with the blog title, but the articles are a fun grab-bag that's useful for practice.

That also inspired the title of this post, "Summer in Chicago is just right."

I also signed up for the JLPT, 3級. A friend mentioned he thought I could pass 2級 easily, but I'm not as confident. Emoji Sweatdrop I'm not really planning on doing anything special in terms of studying. I get plenty of reading practice with playing games, reading friends' statuses on Facebook, reading 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ with Aya-sensei, and now following a blog. I get listening practice at Japanese class and listen to some podcasts, and I get vocab and kanji study in every weekday when I use StickyStudy on the L on the way home. I just need to keep up my routine, keep reading stuff that I don't perfectly understand so I can learn something new, and not get discouraged. Easier said than done.

This weekend I took Monday off. I should take some JLPT practice tests so I know where I stand.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
2017-10-03 09:45 am

[WotMK: Hexcrawl] Session Thirty

Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
    • Hundred Wings, Father James' familiar spirit bound into a bodies of dozens of ravens.
  • Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The group fell back down the well but landed mostly on their feet, uninjured and ready. Elaphe heard the sound of claws on stone as Willow spun her vine-sword around her heard, releasing a group of seeds attached to dandelion-like fluff pods that floated in the air and glowed faintly, revealing the room. To the north were three shapes, maggot-pale and bloated, with long fangs and claws. Wraiths, long-dead and swollen with hate, and as they advanced, all the lights went out.

Willow and Elaphe bore the brunt of the assault, with Willow being claws almost immediately but Elaphe fending off multiple blows and striking back with his vine-sword. Shining Star began casting a spell to enchant the group's weapons against the power of darkness, and Amos--who could see in the dark thanks to the crystal he bore--fired flaming arrows into the wraiths. After their initial assault, one wraith lost its footing and fell under Elaphe's blows, and the other took grievous wounds from Elaphe, Willow, and Amos's attacks. But before Willow could attack again, he felt icy fingers on his skull and then something violently shoved his awareness aside, rending him a passenger in his own body.

As Willow struggled with whatever was possessing him, the remaining wraith charged Father James, knocking him down and savagely mauling him. Elaphe backed away from the two wraiths, his keen chuzan hearing allowing him to nimbly block one of their attacks as he retreated and striking back before withdrawing to Father James' side. Another of Amos's arrows hit the standing wraith and destroyed it, causing it to flare up in a brief burst of flames before vanishing into shreds of plasm. As the remaining wraith got to its feet, Father James told Hundred Wings to pick up a torch and hold it in the air near Amos, who performed a trick shot and deflected an arrow off the torch into the wraith near Father James, lighting the torch and seriously injuring the wraith.

With the lights on once again, the battle turned decisively in favor of the party. Shining Star finished casting her spell and their weapons began glowing with a silver-white light, allowing Elaphe and Amos to destroy the wraith near Father James. The remaining wraith died quickly as Amos, Shining Star, and Elaphe all attacked it, leaving the party battered by alive. Willow shook of the possession and, quickly scooping up some moss from the wall, enchanted it and placed it on his wounds. Shining Star applied first aid to Father James, and Elaphe chanted a few words to ease the pain of his own cuts. After Willow told the others about the possession, they quickly decided that they had enough with the haunted ziggurat and decided to leave. They briefly debated questioning the mummified corpse of the kong they had found using one of the crystals from the necromancers' lair until Willow pointed out that none of them spoke the language of the Kong Imperium, then Father James sent Hundred Wings out to find an exit. The spirit returned and explained that there were stairs down but none up, but in the course of their travel to the stairs, they found a place where the wall had collapsed and they could faintly see sunlight, so they dug their way out.

They traveled through the pipe and back to the winter landscape of Fontina, overland to Rockfort, where they noticed there seemed to be fewer refugees in the streets, and back to B'rabt. After a night of rest, they rode down the Kintai to the town with the pipe to the Scarlet City, restocked on some alchemical supplies they were running low on--Elaphe bought hero's recovery to speed the healing of his wounds and godstriking oil, which would allow the party to attack dematerialized spirits if they rubbed it on their weapons--and they asked around until they found the location of the pipe from the Scarlet City to Tower Town. Once again they took a pipe, and they knew they were in the right location as they emerged and saw the enormous shape of Etemenanki, miles high, blocking out the setting sun.


This session was mostly combat against the wraiths, and was made significantly more dangerous by the darkness and Willow getting possessed. If Willow had resisted or if the party had more light sources so the wraiths couldn't destroy them so easily, it would have been easier. Then again, it was pretty easy already. Elaphe did something like 30 health levels of damage during the fight.

As usual, I put in treasure and danger and the party sees the danger and doesn't go after the treasure! But that's life--this is a game about what they decide to do, and they've decided they want to delve into Etemenanki and turn the game into a megadungeon crawl for a bit. They still have that map to the "safe" location in Etemenanki that they haven't used yet. Maybe now is the time?
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
2017-10-01 01:01 pm

Darker than Black, Week 53: Seattle Chocolates 65% Cacao Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar

Two weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b came to visit--you can read all about that here. But relevant to this post is that she brought omiyage with her, chocolate from Seattle, since she knew we loved chocolate so much. One bar was milk chocolate, and we basically tore it straight open and ate it on the spot. The other was dark chocolate, and I took it and put it on top of the refrigerator among the rest of our chocolate collection so I can could use it for a future Darker than Black. And that moment has arrived.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
2017-09-30 09:49 pm

The gates are closing

Today was Yom Kippur, so I spent most of it not on the internet.

I didn’t get tickets to our synagogue--we’re not members since something happened with our payments that somehow never got straightened out--but that’s been our routine for a couple years now. Last night we watched Kol Nidre streamed by Nashuva. It's extremely Californian, with the rabbi going barefoot and, at one point, Spanish guitar, but I like it a lot. And it's free.

Today, I read the book of Jonah, a list of people's regrets they seek to atone for, went for a solitary walk in a nearby park, and said some of the prayers that don't require a minyan. Maybe next year I'll get tickets, or try to go to Mishkan's services, but I feel like it was a fulfilling holy day.

Now, I'm sitting with a pay data (from my birthday drinks) in one hand and watching let's plays with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. It's been a thoughtful day.
dorchadas: (Default)
2017-09-25 08:57 pm

TeamLimes wedding!

​Last weekend was [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3’s wedding, so we spent it in Seattle. Here’s how it went:

Vacation and celebration )
dorchadas: (Default)
2017-09-21 09:36 am

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

Happy 5778!

Rosh Hashannah 2017


Tonight [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are going to walk over to the lake for tashlich after work, and then we're going to eat food from a Jewish deli that [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega just discovered.

Just put in an order for two Sister-in-Law sandos and some latkes with apple sauce. A sweet year indeed.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
2017-09-18 01:25 pm

Japan reunion ^ 2

[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)
2017-09-14 05:49 pm

Game Review: The Shivah

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... )
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
2017-09-12 02:31 pm

🍖 -> 🍗

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)
2017-09-12 11:15 am

[WotMK: Hexcrawl] Session Twenty-Eight and Twenty-Nine

Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
    • Hundred Wings, Father James' familiar spirit bound into a bodies of dozens of ravens.
  • 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)
2017-09-10 07:21 pm

Darker than Black, Week 52: Hammond's Toffee Brittle Dark Chocolate

​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)
2017-09-08 08:54 am

The database, it is gefuckt

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)
2017-09-07 09:16 pm

Game Review: ゼルダの伝説:ふしぎのぼうし

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.

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dorchadas: (Jealous)
2017-09-04 03:23 pm

The Five-Year-Plan is complete

How appropriate that I'm posting this on Labor Day, comrades.

Content warning: Food, weight discussion )