28 September 2010

Role-Playing on Eternia?

  Just had a conversation about basing a D&D dungeon crawl on The Fortress of Fangs since I've also been thinking about doing 4e writeups of all the action figures as 1st-level characters.  During this discussion, I brought up other toy, cartoon and comic-based fortresses that would be fun in a role-playing context.  Of course, Castle Grayskull came up.

  Here's the pitch for a game that spontaneously erupted from my brain (Transcribed from Yahoo IM Chat):
I also always dug Castle Grayskull.
I've always thought there's cool room for play in the He-Man world, too.
I like the way it seems to mesh sorcery and science.
You'd have to do it in an age either before or after the Eternia we all know from the shows and comics, though.
But I can well imagine a band of adventurers, weary from being harried by beastmen and marauders of all description...
Starving, out of water, beaten by relentless sandstorms in the cruel Eternian desert...
They hear the piercing cry of a falcon, and looking up into the sand-swept sky they make out the form of a bird of prey, circling.
At first they take it for a common vulture, waiting to pick their bones after they succumb to thirst and the storm...
But then they realize it's circling ever so slowly away, almost as if it is leading them.
As the storm breaks, they find themselves standing on a craggy expanse of alternating rock and salt flat, staring across a wide-open plane at the center of which stands an ominous fortress with a skull visage staring eyelessly in their direction.
The falcon flies to the grim castle and lights on one of the towers, watching the weary travellers expectantly...

The First Pebbles : A Campaign Concept

  Last weekend Cory Matt asked me to run Renegade Legion : Interceptor for my evening Game Day slot.  Now, for reasons of family I didn't get to actually run  my evening slot, but it made me pull out my Renegade Legion books and start reading.  As so often happens, I started to get a campaign concept running in my head.

  For those of you who aren't familiar with Battletech's lesser-known sibling, the Renegade Legion game world takes place in the 69th century.  Earth was conquered by a race of centauroid-reptilian creatures known as the KessRith, and reduced to slavery.  During this period, they placated their slaves by allowing bloodsports for their entertainment.  One of the gladiators, Alexander Trajan, managed to amass some contraband weapons and use the ruse of gladiator training to form a resistance that cast off the KessRith in a bloody war.  Since the rhetoric and rabble-rousing Trajan used to incite the rebellion was based on the glories of ancient Rome, and Trajan's father was a professor of history, he formed his new Terran Republic around an idealized Roman empire.

  This, of course, was doomed to not go well.  After Trajan's death, the Republic became corrupt under the leadership of Ivanolo Bunatri, who claimed the title Caesar for himself.  He created a social class of Overlords, responsible only to the Caesar, to help him govern the realm he now called the Terran Overlord Government.  A small percentage of the Republic's military under Admiral Constantin rejected these changes and went rogue - or Renegade - and made for the Commonwealth, a smaller and less powerful star empire that was more open and egalitarian than the new TOG would ever be.  Thus began the emnity between the TOG and the Renegade Legions and their Commonwealth allies.

  The above is, of course, a drastic simplification.  FASA created a great groundwork for this series of games that, if successful, would probably have become as detailed as Battletech's history and fluff.  As it is, what can be gleaned from the rulebooks and the Legionnaire RPG are enough for a lot of adventures to be told.  Why FASA bothered to come up with such detailed and interesting backgrounds to set their boardgames in is anyone's guess, but it was a good move.  Many a player has gotten emotionally invested in this faction or that due to good fluff, novels and sourcebooks.  Renegade Legion still has some die-hard fans out there on the web, myself included.  I own almost everything produced for the line, and have looked for a reason to run it for years.  Maybe someday soon I will, thanks to this recent campaign concept I came up with.

  My idea focuses on a modified version of the official RenLeg continuity.  Mostly, to scale things down by at least a factor of 10.  The TOG Navy has 150,000 Battleship GROUPS?  That's almost an unfathomable number of vessels, fighters and spacers.  The Legions alone number troops in the billions, which is nearly beyond my ability to wrap my head around.  So, we go with a more compact RenLeg universe, keeping the relative sizes of the powers invovled and scaling them all down.  We then modify the current situation to have the Renegades either newly arrived in Commonwealth space and licking their wounds from the initial defection, or having pulled back after an unsuccessful thrust into Shannedam County.  Either way, the border has been at an uneasy peace for years, not through any loss of hatred on either side, but simply due to the fatigue in both militaries over ongoing hostilities.  I may have to have something else threaten TOG to keep them from using their overwhelming numbers to simply steamroller the Renegades and the Commonwealth, but we'll see.
  Into this stalemate we introduce the players.  The basic take on this campaign could be played like BSG with a fighter squadron on a carrier.  (OOH!  Playing a carrier group escorting civilians out of the TOG during the initial defection would be AMAZING...)  My more focused thoughts, though, are to a resistance group that is disheartened by the unwillingness of the Commonwealth and the Renegades to commit to liberating their world, and hatch a plan to force a confrontation.  They recruit the players, who have some space skills due to being commercial or merchant pilots, or perhaps militia etc. to take the six old TOG fighters they've managed to misappropriate from mothballs and use them to attack and destroy the corvette that is covertly bringing an Overlord to this world on a fact-finding mission prior to renewing hostilities on the border. 

  The PCs must attack and destroy the Cingulum-class Corvette and its two Spiculum escorts before they can reach the small TOG base on the planet, and they attempt to do so by posing as escort - their fighters being the same outdated make deployed around this world.  If they are successful, the death of an Overlord causes the TOG military to suddenly rememeber that small piece of the border and mobilize fleet assets, which causes the Renegades to move to counter with their own and Commonwealth vessels.  In effect, the PCs are the pebbles that start the avalanche, for better or worse.  The actions of a few heroic individuals will set into motion events that will shape the future of the sector.

  This idea came to me whilst we were discussing the primary problem with the RenLeg universe - that it is so damn big, no PC can ever possibly have a lasting effect on the game world.  Even if your PCs manage to destroy a squadron of Battleships and their escorts, there's still apparently 149,999 more at least before the TOG runs out of navy...

  Of course, now that I'm thinking about all of this, the BSG-style ragtag run for the border sounds like a great campaign idea, too.  Maybe a beleaguered old Admiral cut from the cloth of Gloval or Adama (either one) decides that he does n't like Ivanolo Buntari declaring himself Caesar any more than many of his troops do, and declares that he's joining up with Constantine in the Commonwealth.  So his older, battered Battleship group (1 BB, some CAs and Figs and Cans) begins escorting liners, freighters and more filled with citizens that feel the same way- and there's a long road ahead through occupied space as the loyalists try to stop them.

  Damn, I wish I had more time to game.

Crappy Weekend and Melancholic Musings

Good day, eh?

  So, this weekend was supposed to be the grand shiny that was Region Three Game Day, hosted by R3 with the assistance of their friends, the Royal Dragoon Guards.  Well, the RDG totally failed to show up in force, and R3 showed just enough to break even.  The folks that were there had fun, to be sure, but I myself had to leave early for a family emergency.  One of my wife's cousins sadly committed suicide, and the family found out about it the morning of game day in a less than pleasant manner.  This tragedy colored the rest of the weekend, and damaged my calm to the point that I called in sick Monday due to lack of sleep.  Out of respect for the family, that's all the detail I'm going to go into on this subject.

  I have to say I feel a bit melancholy about this event.  It is, in most likelihood, the last hurrah of the USS Ark Angel.  For those of you who don't know, the Ark Angel is the name of the chapter of STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association that I founded along with my close friends back in 1999.  My wife, my best friend and myself have all been CO at times.  In the early days we were a tight group of good friends dedicated to gaming and living life.  Slowly, as time went on, the Ark Angel and our involvement with STARFLEET changed into something a lot less fun.  We became, victims of our own shiny, the rescue force and event backbone.  Color guards, planning committees, moving details.  We even originated Game Day as a mini-convention to spread the gaming hobby amongst our fellow geeks.  The problem was, the events became our primary reason for existence, and the gaming tapered off because we were all to busy with the events.  Good people got burned the hell out because we were leaned heavily upon half the time, and ignored or forgotten the rest.  The populace of the Region certainly respected and appreciated us, but the leadership I think found our energy to be a bit too much.  I know at least one muckety-muck who seemed to think we made them look bad by comparison - and by gum, we did.  I regret that I wasn't able to take my dream team and run the region as I'd wanted to do.  Sadly - that could never occur now because two of the people I wanted in supporting positions never want to have anything to do with Fleet ever again.  THAT's how badly burned we all were in the end.

  So now, I'm looking at what might be the final days of the chapter I poured a decade of my life into.  But her spirit is broken, her original crew gone, all that's left is her name.  I realize this in my head, but my heart is still more than a bit sad at her passing.  I can't help but feel there was more adventure waiting for the USS Ark Angel with her original crew, and that it was somehow my fault that I let us get so distracted by being the Ark Angel crew we forgot that the adventure tales are what brought us together in the first place.

  I'm making myself a promise that should the Royal Dragoon Guards carry on, that I will not let myself or the RDG forget that we are first and foremost a club about gaming.  When you stop having fun, you're doing it wrong.

21 September 2010

A little something I've been tinkering with.

OK, so D&D Essentials is supposed to evoke an older school feel, right?  Or at least, the Red Box is supposed to.  In that vein, I give you - this.  The Old Dragoon's Essentials Character Sheet

20 September 2010

Inspection Success, Gamer Diets and Crunchy Rules.

Hoi, chummers.

  Well, our fire inspection was a success.  Thanks to Lieutenant Mike Heard of the RRFD for the inspection, conversation, and encouragement.  Now, Mary and I have to go back to school - parenting school.  We have Behavior Modification class Wednesday night.  I'll abide by the rules the State of Texas lays down as a licensed foster parent... but I don't have to agree with it.  Personally, I think since the dawn of kinder, gentler parenting that each generation of kids has gotten increasingly less and less able to cope and socialize.  They don't have the opportunity to fail anymore, and thus they don't learn how to deal with it.  They're spoon-fed their education by frustrated educators who have to "teach to the test" rather than TEACH.  Why is 30 the new 20?  Because these kids don't find a direction, or in some cases a will to get out of the house until they're 30.

  Sorry to digress, but in our game group we've got several twentysomethings.  One of them has done 4 years in the service.  One of them barely passed High School.  The third is quite successful as a computer technician making more than I do because I'm in higher ed and he's working for a medical firm.  They all recently moved in together to an apartment.  Prior Service is living off GI Bill and a %25 disability for hearing loss.  Barely-Passed has no job.  Computer Tech is bringing in all the bacon.  They asked me several times why they are not treated like adults and respected as such within the group.  The simple reason?  Read their facebooks.  "Beer pong"  "Keg party"  "Got soooo drunk"  "Beer pong"  "Kegs at the lake"  etc.  Not a running car between them, and some of them have gone months without a cel phone.  30 is certainly the new 20.  The friggin TEENAGERS make fun of them for getting drunk all the time and being generally irresponsible and undependable.  I personally feel for Computer Tech, he's smart, has a good job, but has the fatal character flaw (which I share, doubly so when I was his age) in believing that the best thing he can do is do right by his friends.  Sometimes you can swim with the millstone... sometimes it drags you to the bottom. 

  Back to the update stuff in this post.  I got back on WiiFit after 44 days.  Yeah, sue me.  Anyway, it says I'm 9.5lbs lighter than I was last time.  My jaw dropped.  See, people are telling me they can see that I've lost weight, but I don't see it in the mirror and I definitely don't feel it.  In fact, some days I feel heavier.  But my clothes are fitting more loosely, and I nearly lost my wedding ring doing dishes the other day.  Low-Carb is working for me.  Dunno about Mary, she doesn't ever do the WiiFit thing either, but we're starting to change that today. 

  Now, on to the interesting musing part.  This weekend we had a small group of us talking about gaming, and I brought up the excellent "Prime Time Adventures" indy game by Matt Wilson.  Upon describing it's uber-simple mechanics, one of my long-time players blinked at me and asked "Are you OK?  I mean, *you* would actually run that?"  By this she meant that my tastes generally run toward crunchier games - or at least I thought they did.  I love games with some crunch.  Rolemaster, Palladium, 2300 AD, Twilight:2000, Battletech, etc.  Why then would I be extoling the virtues of this almost rules-less game?  Well, perhaps it's because as I've gotten more seasoned in my gaming I've learned that it's more about the story and less about the system.  Now, to be honest my jury is still out about this one, and here's why.

  I like systems that allow for a certain amount of simulationism.  Abstraction is part of role-playing, but too much abstraction can actually dull the sense of being immersed in the story.  On the other hand, too much detail can also have the same effect.  See, I like things like fatigue points and CON checks.  Why?  Because most players will decide their character can carry a full combat pack for a week through the desert with no water without sleeping.  When there's a pool of fatigue points steadily draining, it's a mental fuel gauge letting the players know how exhausted their character feels.  I like that sort of data being in game systems, as it helps to make the characters more 'real' and vulnerable.  I like wound penalties, so that characters don't just fight like they're fresh and rested until they hit 0HP and then drop like a sack of rocks.  Problem is, all these things can - if not used correctly - slow the game down to a crawl, and turn more into an accountancy course than a role-playing game.

  Too much abstraction seems to make the game more like a game and less like a story.  I think D&D 4e has a bit of an issue with this, as game mechanics worm their way into player's decision making processes before dice ever hit the table.  It's no longer just a matter of putting your high stats where they'll matter, but the correct 'build', choice of feats, weapons, powers...  And once on the battlefield, players know there are minion enemies out there, and will ask the DM which ones they are so they don't waste a precious daily or encounter resource on them.  This sort of meta-gaming takes you right out of the story and reminds you you're playing a game.

  So too much abstraction is bad.  Too much simulation is bad.  Not enough of either is bad.  So what's a GM to do?  There's the question.  I'll be trying to find out over the course of... oh, the rest of my gaming life...

10 September 2010

Fire Inspection Day and WWD&DGD

  Working a half day today, as I have to go pick up our fire extinguishers from the safety equipment company, then head home to meet the nice lieutenant from the Round Rock Fire Department for our fire inspection.  The health inspection went swimmingly, now we've got to get past the fire inspection as well.  Smoke detectors in every room - check.  No extension cords in use - check.  Fire extinguisher mounted near or in kitchen - check.  The list goes on.  I'm just hoping everything goes according to plan and this will be one more completed step on our path toward parenthood.  Huzzah.

  Tomorrow is Worldwide D&D Game Day, and I've got my Red Box ready and I've studied the module.  I even test-ran it, but I won't post the results until after D&D game day has passed.  Don't want to spoil anything, and besides - I want to see if the outcome of my test-run was anomalous.

  Having now played Dungeons and Dragons Essentials, I can say that I enjoy the new 'builds' of the classes presented thus far.  The Rogue (Thief) plays very much like Thief should, with the addition of the Backstab power once per encounter to emulate the old Backstab mechanics - but with the additional bonus that it's easier by leaps and bounds to pull it off.  The Cleric feels a lot like an older edition Cleric, with limited healing but heavy armor and quite a bit of ass-whoopage ability.  My sole complaint about the sample Cleric included for Sunderpeak Temple, Korzon, is that he carries a blade rather than a mace.  If you're going to go retro, you aughta go whole-hog and have a mace or hammer-wielding Cleric.

  I'm going to be honest, here.  Lately, my tastes in gaming have been turning toward small groups of roleplayers.  I have this overwhelming urge to grab a group of 4-5, and run Mentzer D&D.  Or Star Frontiers, or Cyberpunk 2012, or Gamma World, or Top Secret S/I...  Gaming is my stress release and my hobby, but many of the games I'm involved in feel too much like work, and I'm engaged in watching one of the clubs I had a hand in creating that was in its inception all about the gaming and the camaraderie begin to circle the drain.  It lost its way, and stopped being about the gaming.  That doesn't make it any easier to watch something that you spent the better part of a decade on dying in a particularly slow and ingominous way.  It's really taken away a lot of the enthusiasm I once had for large-group gaming.  Add to that the dynamics of drama you get even in a small group and multiply it in an exponential fashion for any group larger than that...  I'm tired.  I want my gaming to get back to my enjoyment zone.  If this is going to be my main source of entertainment, socialization and stress-relase it has to be fun, not work.  Sadly, the only game session I haven't looked for a way to postpone or just out-and-out dreaded lately is the upcoming Worldwide D&D Game Day.  Something about that shiny Red Box and the idea of a nice, old-school dungeon crawl gets my creativity rolling.  So, here's hoping this Saturday rocks, both with the Worldwide Game Day, and the Royal Dragoon Guards game to follow.

03 September 2010

Friday Afternoon - A parting thought...

  OK, folks, I'm out for the weekend.  Computers imaged, printers moved, it's time to forget everything I know about being a mundane computer tech and get prepped for a weekend of die rolling and monster bashing with the new Red Box (Oh, and some Shadowrun tonight for flavor...).  I leave you with this, which I hadn't seen before, but found kind of funny.

02 September 2010

Red Box Is Mine!

  I put myself in such a mood yesterday blogging about how there are more important things than gaming that I didn't actually OPEN my Red Box until about 2130.  I grocery shopped, made dinner (Atkins-friendly salad with carnitas, boiled eggs and cheese), shared the couch with my lovely wife for three episodes of Babylon 5 season two ensuring that she got her "us time", scrubbed the pans I've been avoiding, vacuumed the floor in the Ogre, cleaned the catbox, cut my hair, showered, shaved, and once I had my chores done and felt nice and clean and human I FINALLY took the shrink wrap off the Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy Role-Playing Game Starter Set and snuggled up in bed with the wife to begin reading.

  And of course, Misa decided to curl up in the boxtop as soon as it hit the bed, but that's what keetooms are for, isn't it?  First impressions - SHINY.  However, the booklets lack the nice cardstock covers the originals had, that's my first quibbble.  Reading through the Player's Book, the choose-your-own adventure style of character creation is actually kind of brilliant.  Yes, yes, I know there's already errata, but still - it's a VERY nifty way to take a player through character creation.  Reminds me of the same concept in the Mentzer boxed set, save that you can end up any of the four classes, and you can be any race or gender.  Having said that, I would have really liked a more convetional character generation summary for the more experienced of us to whip up Red Box characters.  I know this is coming in Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, but it would have been nice to have out of the box.

  The introductory adventure is suitably old-school in feel.  There's a villain, and some goblins, and caves...  Now, before anyone says anything about 4e not having support for Roleplay - I will agree that there isn't much RULES wise, true.  But in the BECMI sets, there weren't a lot of rules for it, either.  We made it up.  We RP'd it out.  We made a CHA check, or a WIS check...  So I am going to have to wait to bitch about this until I've given Essentials a test-drive and determined wether or not it's an actual issue.  It wasn't back in '85.  We used rules for combat, and freeformed everything else with ability checks or saving throws.  Much like The Keep on the Borderlands, which everyone considers to be a classic, a LOT of this module is hack-and-slash.  It's Old School, but for some reason it feels Old School this time.  Maybe it's because the Rogue is more Theif-y.   The Fighter more Fighter-y and not so 'Defender'-y.  I dunno.  I'm going to take it for a spin this weekend and see if it plays like it looks.

  The cards...  Well, I like the cards, to be honest.  I have a player who I love dearly who hated the cards in 4e, but then proceeded to use the Wizard Spell Cards I provided for a 2e campaign without batting an eye.  I think the cards - when used properly - can help keep track of things.  That said, I *love* the introductory character cards for Worldwide D&D Game Day with the powers explained on the back and checkboxes to use with Vis-a-Vis pens.  I think I may emulate this approach when creating custom sheets for my Essentials campaigns, albeit on full letter-sized paper.  Anyway, for new players and old alike, they're useful.  Wish they were on playing card material, maybe even coated or laminated, but WoTC was wise to keep the price point of the boxed set at $19.99.  The maps and tokens are awesome as well, as 4e does require them for play.  I like that the DM Kit and Monster Vault will likewise have tons o tokens for use.  I think minis LOOK better, but they are more expensive and a lot bulkier to transport.

  The character sheets are nice and clean, and I like that the skills are listed under the abilities.  All the math has been taken off she sheet, and that makes it a much less cluttered affair.  Unfortunately, they missed a spot for passive perception and insight.  Oops.  Not that terrible a mistake, save that you are instructed to write both down during the choose-your-own...  I might just tinker with a retro version for my own campaigns...  Or maybe we'll get lucky and this version will be an optional output from the Character Builder in DDI.

  All in all, I'm loving this box.  The Dungeon Master book sums up the rules succinctly, has a few less monsters than I would like (being biased by the Moldvay and Mentzer boxed sets) but is adequate for levels 1-2.  Level 3 would have been very nice, to hold to the same standard as the original boxed sets...

  This weekend, I shall attempt to run this puppy.  Will speak more on this after I've taken some players through some Red Box goodness.




01 September 2010

Today I get my new Red Box. Also - parenthood.

  Today I'm going down to Rogue's Gallery to purchase my D&D Red Box.  It's been on the shelf for days, but I waited until 1 September, because I had promised Mary and myself that August would be a no-gaming-spending month.  We got our Health Department inspection done for our foster care license, and we're in the home stretch, so this was my contribution to our attempt to get our budget under control.  Next stop: Fire Department inspection.

  So, those of you who know me know that my wife and I are working to become Foster Parents.  To those of you who don't - here's a bit of background.  My wife found out in the early 2000s that the intense pain she suffered every month wasn't her imagination, as her mother and grandmother and aunts were told, or just part of being a woman, as those same women told her.  She found out she had a condition called endometriosis.  This condition is, basically, when the tissue buildup normal to the reproductive cycle builds up outside the uterus- on more or less everything.  It's painful, it's hard to detect unless you're looking for it, and it can cause severe issues with childbearing.  In our case, it caused a miscarriage, and then the need for a total hysterectomy.

  In the years since, we have looked into various foster and adoptive programs, as Mary is simply wired to be a mom.  I've never seen anyone so immediately warmed to by children, even ones tagged as 'difficult'.  Mary just needs to be a mom, and I think she'll make a wonderful one.  As for me, I've always felt that fatherhood was simply a part of growing up and starting a family.  Well, I was married, I had a house (another story), and now it was time to start trying to have kids.  The miscarriage was a severe blow, and I will readily admit that I will never know the depth of hurt it caused Mary.  To me, it was sad, and unfortunate.  The real tragedy of it didn't hit me until much later.  But as I have learned since going through the emotional wringer of endometriosis and then hysterectomy with Mary, there are things that seem rather cut-and-dried to the male mind that are profoundly life-altering to a woman.  I think men don't appreciate the sense of loss that comes with a hysterectomy.  To be frank, I think it's because a woman post-hysterectomy is still physically capable of sex.  That is, men don't automatically equate it with the sense of loss it comes with.  In fact, some men thing "Great!  I can't get her pregnant!" without realizing that the severe emotional trauma caused by the procedure is just as great or greater that if we had our manly bits cut off, because, hey, she's still got the gear to get it on, right? 

  See, I know this is how guys think - because before it happened to my wife, it happened a long time ago to my aunt, and I thought it was no big deal.  Simple operation, she was home a couple of days later, and oh- she couldn't have any more children, but she already had three, so that was ok.  Menfolk - it's NOT ok.  Having lived through this with Mary has given me a new appreciation for what women go through, how they're wired, and yes, what it's like to live with a woman in menopause.  Cuz guess what, chummers - I get to do this twice.  Now, I know it's a hundred times worse for poor Mary, who actually gets to undergo the hot flashes and the mood swings and the hormonal changes of menopause once for the shock of the hysterectomy, and again when she reaches the chronological age of menopause.  But folks, it ain't easy for the husband, either...  I suddenly sympathize with all my upper-middle-age relatives and friends.  Ugh.

  So I've been pining and complaining about my own decision to wait - in this case, only a few days - to pick up a new RPG product that is admittedly about 30% content and 70% nostalgia.  It pains me, makes me crazy.  I am just as eager, if not moreso, than the average geek to get their hands on this latest offering from WoTC.  And I don't even really *like* Fourth Edition.  I wants it, My Precious.  It tasks me, and I shall have it.  And then I remember what I made this "no gaming spending for a month" promise for.  And I remember WHY we're on this path.  And I remember that Mary's pain when we lost our baby- so much more than mine will ever be, even though I've shed tears quietly to myself when our friends children go back to school and I muse that our daughter (I think of the baby as such) would have been starting fourth grade this year.  It effects me, but it effects Mary so much more than I'll ever be able to fully appreciate.

  So, later today, I'm going to Rogue's Gallery, and I'm picking up Dungeons and Dragons Essentails Red Box.  And I'll enjoy it.  But after thinking about it... VERY hard...  There are more important things in life than gaming, contrary to popular belief.  There, I said it.

  Now folks, if you made it through this post, thank you.  I promise my future posts will not be so... emotional.  Just a thought that occurred to me as we move closer to our endgame and get our actual foster care license.  I had intended this blog to be my feelings about gaming and hobbies, but today I'm feeling Real Life(TM) and I wanted you all to bear with me.  I'm hoping my next post will be more about gaming or geekery.  Thanks for reading.