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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in robbbbbb's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
8:37 am
Sidekick Quests Kickstarter
My friend James Stowe writes the delightful Sidekick Quests webcomic. He's also turning SKQ into a roleplaying game for kids in the 8-13 age bracket. My eldest son got to play SKQ the weekend before last and had a screaming good time. The game is well set-up for kids that are developing their RPG muscles.

James is putting out a print collection of the first storyline of Sidekick Quests comics, plus the rules for the SKQ RPG and an adventure based on that first storyline, The Secret of the Sewer Wizard. You can find the Kickstarter here if you're interested. I've already bought in, and I encourage anyone with kids to do the same.
Monday, April 20th, 2015
1:32 pm
Alex and Uncle Alex
My friend James is a comic author. He writes the delightful Sidekick Quests (which you really ought to add to your reading list.) As part of his comic promotion, he does "Retweet Rewards" where he does a custom drawing for one random retweeter a week. A couple weeks ago I won. I got this drawing as a result:

That's my brother and my son in their Scout uniforms. It's the only picture I have of the two of them together. Thanks, James.
Friday, October 3rd, 2014
11:03 am
Anarchy, State, and Fruit Snacks
My kids have been getting a lesson in practical political science. My wife has the details.
Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
12:54 pm
Destiny of a Kingdom, Revisited
Some friends are throwing a gamer retreat in late June, and I've been invited to go along. So I've volunteered to run a LARPish-style national security game based on current events. So it's plenty of research on NATO and Eastern European politics for me for two months, plus a hefty dose of writing!

To support this effort I pulled out an old binder from the dim mists of time. Yes, it's the IL game I ran in college: Destiny of a Kingdom. I skimmed bits of it last night looking for ideas.

The first thing that hit me: Holy smokes, I wrote 200 pages of stuff for a game! (I think so. I haven't counted.)

The second thing that hit me: Parts of this were laughably bad, weren't they? Looking back with twenty years of experience does give some perspective, doesn't it. Some of the plot lines were transparent. Some of the writing was bad. And the mechanics were a mess; I over-drove the game mechanics in the system. Live and learn.

The third thing that hit me were some memories of events during that game. There was a lot of fun stuff there. We did some cool stuff, and a lot of people had a lot of fun. I also remember late nights in my dorm room hacking over a lot of stuff and getting feedback from glaciation and isildur. Really big fun requires a lot of work. Satisfying, fun work, but it's still work.

So I'm back at it again. I've got nine players for a game in June, which is a lot less overhead. And I know more now. But it's still going to be lots of work to get done, and I'd better crack the whip.
Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
8:54 pm
Oh, it's only been a year
Okay, more like eleven months since I last posted. So I suppose maybe an update is in order. Or something.

Things are great! Erica's expecting our fourth child in May. The kids are getting bigger and smarter all the time. My job is wonderful. Things are really darned good.

Alex is reading like a champ. This makes it so that I can expand his game-playing world a little. Or a lot. He got a copy of the X-Wing Miniatures Game for Christmas, and he loves it. For his birthday, we added on a Y-Wing and a TIE/Advanced. He consistently beats the crap out of me with that Y-Wing and an ion cannon. I have yet to figure out a counter. We've also tried a great variety of other stuff, including Galaxy Trucker, Battlelore, and a few others.

Chris is reading, too. He's in the "building vocabulary" phase. But that means we're able to branch out some on games for him, too. He loves (loves loves loves) Robot Turtles (by Mudd alum Dan Shapiro), and I got him into a Battlelore game with Alex this last weekend, which went well. They can play together! Oh, and he's a shark at Settlers of Catan.

Annemarie is growing fast, and is building verbal vocabulary. She's affectionate, too. There's nothing better than a kiss on the cheek from your two-year old daughter.

We've all been watching Star Blazers together. Watching old cartoons is a lot better with your young children. I was afraid that Star Blazers would suck going back to it after thirty-five years. But with the kids around, I see it through their eyes. It retains that sense of wonder.

Other than that, things are pretty well normal. It's good here. I like that.
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
10:19 am
On the Boston Bombing
A good article, the summary of which should make you proud to be an American:

"There was remarkably little panic; instead, a well-organized rescue effort... But the prompt and effective reaction by so many, amateurs as well as trained professionals, undoubtedly prevented the death toll from being much worse. We should be proud of our fellow citizens."
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
8:30 am
More Fun Kickstarter Madness
Dwarven Forge makes very cool game stuff. It's dungeon terrain for playing games with. I have several sets, and I enjoy the heck out of it.

They've just put out a Kickstarter for their new game tiles. I'm tempted to buy a couple sets to (relatively) inexpensively grow my collection. And as the Kickstarter grows they're adding free stuff on, so the deal gets better and better.

I still have a month or so to decide, but I get the feeling this one's going to blow up like the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter did. And it'd be fun to sit back and watch it grow.
Friday, March 8th, 2013
7:12 am
It's Been a Year
Arclin laid me off a year ago today.

There have been a lot of ups and downs, but things have worked out really well. I'm in a better job now, doing more interesting work. I'm being challenged and learning a ton of new stuff instead of being an expert on something I already understand very well. It's going to be a while until I get up to speed around here but I'm already useful and I'm sucking up a lot of good experience.

I like my new coworkers and I seem to fit in around here pretty well. And I have a better manager than I used to.

Financially, we have more money in the bank, fewer debts, a better debt structure (we just refinanced the house at 3.5% on a 20 year fixed), and I have a higher salary and better benefits.

In fact, the only thing that sucks now is the commute. I'm spending an extra hour a day in the car. That hurts, but it's not the end of the world.

A little patience and a little faith and everything's come up roses. I suppose I needed a shock to get out of the rut I'd worked myself into. But it's all worked out for the best.

Now I need to get back to my cool new job.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
12:51 pm
RPG Talk
My Sunday night RPG group has one more session of the campaign that's occupied our attention for three years, now. Our 4e PCs have gone from level 1 to 21, and the story's just about over. We won, and our characters are looking toward retirement. Sunday is the last huzzah.

We're looking for the next big story that's going to occupy us for a while. I'm planning to run a short (~3 session) game set in Bujold's Vorkosigan universe, using the GURPS ruleset. After that, we're going to run a few one-shots until we can get our idea refined for the Next Big Game.

We're going to try and do a collaborative GM kind of game. The setting will all be the same (we think a city somewhere), and each GM will have a different set of PCs to work with. That would allow us to run some different styles of games while still doing some good, collaborative world-building. One of the guys wants to run an investigative/Sherlock Holmes kind of game. Another wants to do political intrigue. My best skill is an ability to run a good combat round: Action comedy is my schtick.

A city is the ideal sort of thing for this setup: there's a lot of room for adventures without the GMs treading on each others' toes, but you can still reference events that take place in other parts of the setting, and do some shared world-building. So we're trotting out some different ideas for settings:

Sigil, in the Planescape setting, is an interesting place. I'm not so sure we'd keep the AD&D 2e engine (or any other D&D engine, for that matter.) We're thinking more low-magic and scary, evil wizards.

There are a number of cities in the Warhammer setting that work very well, and the WFRP 2e rules are pretty good, and support a number of subgenres.

The Iron Kingdoms (Warmachine/Hordes setting) also has some interesting bits, and they have their own bespoke RPG engine that I'm going to take a look at, and which might be full of good ideas.

I've floated the idea of "Musketeers with Monsters", which would mean a lot more world-building. But that could be a fun setting, and isn't traditional fantasy.

And one of the other guys in the group wrote the Midnight campaign setting. His general idea started with, "So, what would the world be like if Sauron won?" And his ideas flowed from there. It's a very dark, dismal campaign setting, quite unlike most anything else I've seen.
Sunday, December 16th, 2012
9:18 am
Switching Jobs Again
I know I just took a new job two months ago, but sometimes opportunity knocks. Boeing's Commercial Airplane Group has offered me a job as a Manufacturing Prototyping - Systems Integration Engineer. It's a terrific job offer, and I'm thrilled to have it. I start just after the first of the new year.

The only downside to this one is the commute, but I think I'll be able to take the Sounder train up there most days. It'll take a bit longer, but I'll have free time to surf the internet &c. I'm thinking of getting myself a tablet to do this on, and I'm trying to decide between a Kindle Fire, a Microsoft Surface, an iPad or something else. Anyone care to make any recommendations?
Friday, November 30th, 2012
6:54 pm
Zippo-Pot the Lion Scorpopus
Last week I mentioned Sidekick Quests to all y'all. This week, my oldest son made a contribution to his Fiendish Fan-Made Fridays. If you have a kid in the 4-10 age bracket, I encourage you to print out a form and send it in to James. Alex had a blast.
Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
4:44 pm
Sidekick Quests
I'd like to recommend a webcomic to y'all: Sidekick Quests! It's the story of a group of adventurers, only they're all "real" adventurers sidekicks. It's fun, it's straightforward, it's kid-friendly, and the artwork's terrific.

Plus, it's drawn by a friend. James plays in my Sunday D&D group. He is a screaming load of fun at the game table.

Also, look at Fiendish Fan-Made Fridays. James is taking submissions from his younger readers for interesting new monsters. He takes the kids' ideas, then fills them out and illustrates them. Alex just did two: Zippo-Pot the Lion Scorpopus, and the dreaded Tigerray.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
4:14 pm
Drinking Heavily
American politics makes much more sense after the fourth or fifth beer.
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
2:37 pm
Bring the Geek
I got a little money for my birthday and decided to use it to get one of these. It's now framed and on the wall of my game room downstairs. It's the first thing you see when you walk into the room.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
12:16 pm
Math With Orcs
"Mom, I want do some math."

"Well, I need to get some counters for you to do counting with."

[Dad disappears, reappears momentarily.]


"So, if Sauron has sixteen orcs, and he sends two orcs to their death in a futile effort to kill Aragorn, how many orcs does Sauron have left?"
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
3:55 pm
So, Robb...
... are you going to watch the debate tonight?

Weird Al sums up how I feel about spending the night with the two Presidential aspirants.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
5:57 pm
Worst Daddy EVER
Overheard tonight, while getting ready to put dinner on the table:

"Want to put a little Sambal Oelek in the kids' milk tonight?"
9:29 am
Smiley Baby
Every once in a while I'm given to think about how each of my kids is different. It seems like my daughter, for instance, is always happy. Ferinstance:

Annemarie after eating a blue crayon.

She's always like this. This is the smile I see every morning when she gets up, and every afternoon when I pick her up after nap. She only gets cranky for specific purposes, and when she gets what she wants (a diaper change, or a banana, or what have you) she reverts to her usual, smiley self. The boys weren't like this at all. I'm hoping it holds up.
Saturday, September 29th, 2012
4:18 pm
Employed Again
After seven months of banging my head against closed doors, I've found employment. Carlisle Construction Materials is opening a new plant in Puyallup, and they've hired me to be a QC Technician. We'll be starting out making Hunter Panels, and then opening an Insulfoam line, and moving on to the manufacture of Premier SIPS.

I start in mid-October, and we're starting the Hunter Panels line in mid-November. We'll be busy after that point, spinning all the production up. There's liable to be overtime, and a lot of opportunities for advancement as we grow the production lines. It's a pretty good situation for me, and I'm glad to be off the dole.
3:57 pm
My Friends are Awesome
Over the last couple of months friends have been emailing me and asking, "You like to paint. Have you seen the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter?" Yeah, I have. "You going to get one?" If I had a job, I'd drop the $100 in a heartbeat. That's an awesome deal.

So a couple of groups of friends (including glaciation and eilonwey) emailed me as that Kickstarter came to a close. "We decided to buy you a set. Have fun!" Awesome! So I'm getting a full set, plus $126 worth of extras from that long list of extras. Over the next few months I'll be getting boxes upon boxes of new miniatures to paint.

My friends are awesome. Thanks, guys. I'll make sure to post pictures.
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