Archive for June, 2013

A Series of Inspectors

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Film/TV

I really enjoy watching the Inspector Morse series. What I can watch online I have and the rest I get on DVD via Netflix. The Inspector Lewis spinoff is even more enjoyable and I’m finally up to the current series. I got to wondering today though if some day I’ll be watching a series titled Inspector Hathaway.

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Coffee vs. Tea

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Life

coffeevstea

I’ve noticed something. It seems that when I’m going through a particularly creative phase that my tastes switch from Coffee to Tea. I wonder why?

paperless-office346

I love the paperless office concept. Both in business and personal life I have made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of physical paper I use, instead opting for electronic notes. To make this work it is necessary to have some excellent computing tools. One of my favorite is Evernote. This app, available on just about every platform but Linux (and for that there are a couple pretty good third party apps which synch with the official Evernote tool), has been an invaluable asset in the paperless front. This is not, however, an add for Evernote. Rather it’s an observation of a paperless limitation I have found, at least in my own life.

Last month I attempted to run my Basic Fantasy RPG campaign paperless. I downloaded all my maps, charts, tables, adventure path, etc. to my iPad. Between Evernote and Google Drive I had every scrap of paper I normally employ converted to electrons. The result was less than stellar. Sure my table top behind my GM screen looked neater, but it took much longer for me to flip back and forth between my maps, tables, and adventure path on the iPad than it did with paper. There were delays in the game while I fumbled with the interface to bring up the correct document.

Now I’ll admit that perhaps the difficulties were because I was doing things in a new way. It could be that I just wasn’t used to running a game from a paperless platform. As appealing as the paperless concept is, it does have its limitations. Perhaps it could have worked better if I’d had my actual multi-screen computer setup rather than a small iPad. Be that as it may, I think I’ll have to settle for a “reduced” paper system when it comes to my RPG games. Somethings are just quicker and easier in hard copy than via electrons … at least for now.

 

Over the years I have developed countless campaign worlds for role-playing games. When constructing a new campaign world I almost invariably start with two things: geography and religion. These two things shape culture and history even in our own “real” world. Geography impresses upon the people who dwell there a certain framework. They plant the seeds of religion as the people seek to explain the world around them. Geography and religion combine to further forge a society as people groups seek to overcome and subdue their surrounds.

When I seek to create a new campaign setting, the first question I ask (and attempt to answer) is, “where is this located”. Sometimes I envision the big picture, creating a whole galaxy and drilling down to a single star, planet, continent, region, etc. Other settings are begun at microscopic level with a single valley, mountain range, island, etc. Some of my favorite resources for fantasy world building have been GURPS: Fantasy (4th Ed), A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping, and the World Builder’s Guidebook (TSR – 2nd Ed. AD&D). 

After the maps are drawn I begin thinking about the races. Which one’s occupy the world (or are currently known)? Where did they start from? How did they get here? What do they believe? Personally, I find it easier to begin with the major non-human races and tackle human societies last. There are a myriad of ways of tackling faith systems. Sometimes I dive right in and start creating deities and allow the creation and myth and religious structures to form out of the pantheon. Other times I start with the creation myth and form the specific deities or powers as the story evolves. In either case, the geography is going to help influence the religious landscape. For example, a society that inhabits an inland plain probably won’t have a sea deity, whereas an island based people might venerate a sea god above all others. Again some resources I’ve found helpful in the creation of pantheons and religious systems is the World Builder’s Guide (mentioned above), Deities & Demigods (TSR – 1st ed. AD&D), and GURPS Religion.

For the current game world I’m developing I’ve chosen to start with the Elven people. I’m basing their religion on the Japanese Shinto mythos. I had originally thought to base their religion on basic animism, but wanted greater points of focus to make their story more interesting and give those playing elven clerics an anchor point. I thought first of basing it on Native American mythos (particularly that of the plains tribes) but decided ultimately to use the Shinto faith as my foundation. Once I finish the background for the elves of this new world I’ll post it to my Scribd account and provide a link here. 

Home School Win

Posted: June 5, 2013 in Education

homeschool

“It’s a pretty decisive defeat for the viewpoint that kids belong to the government first and the family second,”

High court: Home schools not required to follow public school calendar

Conversation with a Birthday Girl

Posted: June 4, 2013 in Family

Today one of my children turns seven. Here’s how the conversation this morning went.

Me: “Happy Birthday! How old are you now?”

A2: “Seven.”

Me: “Seven? Wow, you’re getting old.”

A2: With a sad face, “M- says when J- is twelve that Minecraft won’t exist anymore.”

Me: …

On this day, the celebration of having completed seven revolutions around our star, the birthday girl is made sad (albeit temporarily) by considering the future demise of her favorite computer game.

Sigh Some More

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Music

Given my own musical interests and style several friends have recommended I listen to Mumford & Sons. So I have. Several times. Just finished listening to Sigh No More. I really like their musical sound of, but their lyrics just don’t speak to me. I want to like them, but they leave me flat…

Sigh …