December 31, 2005

Like Buses...

...nothing gets posted for weeks and then suddenly 3 come along in the same week. Or thereabouts.

Today I feel like shite.

ElshaUK tells me its because we've eaten nothing but junk over Christmas and this has resulted in us feeling like shite - lethargic, weighed down, tired.

I finally got around to watching the last two episodes of Babylon 5 - an amazing 5 season long DVD set. They were great and reminded me so much of when I saw them on TV. And contrary to popular belief (and I mean Indy by this) Season 1 is not the best season. Season 4 was by far - the end to the Shadow/Vorlon Saga and the beginning of the fight to reclaim Earth.

On Tuesday, I also spent about 5 hours playing Starcraft with Jimbo - an Old Ealonian, and possibly one of the only one of the Old Ealonians who actually likes playing computer games with me. We've played Diablo, Diablo 2, Neverwinter Nights, Starcraft, er, more Starcraft, Age of Empires, Age of Empires 2, Empire Earth and even more Starcraft. In fact, we definitely love playing Starcraft.

He tends to play Terran and churning out huge armies of Marines whilst I go for Random loving the unit friendly Zerg or the powerful Protoss.

And then we sit back and play on a map that an Ozzy mate made for me back in 1999, where we get to kick the shit out of computer opponents.

The one time we played against each other, he created a vast army of marines whilst I had secreted a cloaked Protoss Observer in his base, watching his every move.

Ah fond memories.

I mentioned to Kalistro and Jimbo (you remember, the WoW wanabee) that we should try and meet up online in a multiplayer game. Diablo 2, I think.

Mainly because it has a very good linear story and meeting up on Battle.Net (Blizzard's online server medium) should be particularly easy for all concerned.

I can already feel the excitement building up as we meet up together to take on the Three Prime Evils.

Ah well. New Years Eve draws close. A new year with new resolutions already being thought up. A new year with new goals.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whomever you're with - Happy New Year...!

December 30, 2005

RPG explained

ElshaUK and I were out having dinner with the Old Ealonians on Wednesday night and the subject of Roleplaying came up.

"So no board? How does THAT work?"

Roleplaying is essentially Storytelling or unscripted amateur dramatics if you wish. 1 person is designated the Referee - he sets the stage, so to speak, and fills everyone in on the backdrop to whats going on. So for example, if we were playing a Call of Cthulhu game:

"It was a dark and stormy night. The car sped up the winding mountain lane as heavy rain obscured the driver's vision. He tapped his cigarette on the side of the dashboard and settled into his chair, stretching at the same time to stop himself from falling asleep."

So here we have a detailed environment and a particular character. Who the man is and why he is driving in such weather still remains a mystery, but the players are told that the man is not one of the players. He is, in fact, a chaffeur, driving them somewhere.

The story background begins to gel in the Referee's head and he invites the players to create characters to match the mood of the story so far.

In most roleplaying games, the players have to roll up statistics for their character's attributes (normally, things like Strength, Dexterity/Agility, Constitution/Endurance, etc). These attributes remain mostly fixed for the duration of the game, perhaps increasing only when the characters have suffiencently advanced in levels or when they have recovered magical items that they can equip - as a reward for their patience and endevours.

Once that is done, the players name their characters and work out other details - such as equipment, knowledge, etc.

As the story progresses, the players gain information and make decisions based solely on what their characters are aware of. For example, you yourself might be aware of how to repair a car but that doesn't mean that your character does. Their narratives essentially make up the rest of the story/game.

So whilst the Referee is telling the audience what is happening in the immediate background, the players are telling the audience what their actions are.

At this stage, there are two very important distinctions to be made: OOC (Out of Character) and IC (In Character). Most of the time, the players will be in IC until they wish to disagree on a ruling or ask for more pertinant information at which point everyone switches to OOC.

In the above example, let's pick a character called Edward Black, a journalist for a small newspaper, the Scyamore Herald. He's about 25 and just starting out on his writing career. He has never been involved in the Cthulhu Mythos but when he was younger he did have an experience with a ghost-like manisfestation that left him with a shattered childhood, and to this day he is still a little insecure.

I've decided that Edward is travelling to talk to a professor of archaeology regarding an article for his newspaper.

This is something the Referee did not take into account at the start of the game but decides to run with the idea. It just so happens the Professor of Archaeology will fit in with the game quite nicely - so long as a few minor changes are made.

As other characters are introduced to the game, their decisions will affect the outcome of the beginning of the story as well, and it is the job of the Referee to intregrate these ideas into the game.

The Referee, by the way, is considered an unbiased person. Even though he knows the players and knows the background of the game, he is neither against the players nor for them. He is simply telling a story and adjudicating battles and other judgement decisions.

A roleplaying game has no clear ending. Whilst there are objectives - rescue the princess, kill the dragon, etc - the game doesn't come to an end once those objectives are completed. The princess might have to be escorted back, the dragon might have been a servant of some greater evil.

You can get more information from Wikipedia

December 25, 2005

Merry Capitalism-mas Everyone!

Well, its been a while since I last posted and I've been putting things off until christmas arrived... and here it is.

First of all, an explanation of why I dislike Christmas. It's a time when people seem to go mad in their gathering of presents for their friends and family. Mad is not the word, sadly. They become selfish misers who are out for blood - they want presents at the expense of other people and this selfishness is put on display for all to see during this time.

People who would go out of their way to say "Thank You" in shops now shoulder past looking for that single present that will clinch their dealings with their family. Parents use their children's prams as rams as they batter you out of their way. People just go crazy at this time of year. Maybe they should rename Christmas to Capitalism-mas.

Happy Capitalism-mas folks.

Saying that, I've bought ElshaUK presents and she's bought me hers. So am I a bit of a hypocrite for saying all that stuff about selfishness? Not really. I didn't go mad when buying her pressies and she didn't go mad buying me pressies. We took it calmly and bought all our presents either over the internet or the week before Capitalism-mas.

So, what did I get?

Well, first and foremost, the best present so far was not from ElshaUK but from her folks. They were 2 x home-made vouchers made out to the sum of "a one way flight ticket to Perth, Australia before Xmas 2007".
Now, that is a brilliant Christmas present.

ElshaUK and I have been thinking seriously about going to Perth, Australia to live permanently but the money side of things has always been a worry. How do we pay for flights, for the visa, for sending stuff over, for paying off credit cards, for paying off loans...

...well this takes a huge chunk of that money off our hands.

Other presents:

A nice shiny new black Logitech Keyboard - which is going to take some time getting used to.

A Sony Walkman 256Mb MP3 player + Holder - those who know me well know I don't have much taste in music. It appears that 2006 will be a complete change.

A pair of flannalette pyjama pants

A leather Wallet (which had the airline vouchers in)

A bag of authentic Dungeons & Dragons Dice

A World of Warcraft Atlas

A World of Warcraft Strategy Guide

A Hair Trimmer for side burns and err other unslightly hair.

Everything has been a complete surprise, especially the tickets to Oz and the MP3 Player.

Now I'm off to have some breakfast, a shower, and some playing of the above mentioned toys and reading of the above mentioned books on a day of complete relaxation where both of us can do whatever we want (either playing on the computer or watching tv or listening to music) without any cares or worries.

Maybe Capitalism-mas isn't so bad after all...