I really should be better at this

Okay, so I’ve installed the WordPress.com desktop application to see if having a dedicated icon reminds me to write to this blog more often. Who knows if it will work? Let’s solve this mystery together, gang!

One advantage of taking a long time between posts is that you have plenty to talk about. What have we missed? A lot, as it turns out.

I was rear-ended by a semi while trying to take a friend to the airport way back in… May, I think? It was my fault, and nobody and nothing was injured except for my nearly perfect driving record and my sense of superiority as a driver. The car was eventually totaled out by insurance, so we bought a 2018 Suburu Outback. Back when we lived in Colorado, I used to long for a Suburu, which I often say is the official state car of Colorado (as well as apparently being the preferred car of lesbians everywhere). We’ve taken to calling it White Lightning. It’s certainly the nicest car we’ve ever owned. It has lane assist and adaptive cruise control, more radar technology than you can imagine. On the highway, it basically drives itself, speeding up and slowing down to go with the flow and staying in lane. I keep the lane assist off most of the time because it creeps me out when the car steers itself. I am definitely entering the old-man-shakes-fist-at-clouds stage of my relationship with car technology. For the most part, we love it.

I went to GenCon 2023, and Sarah came with me. You can read all about Monte Cook Games at GenCon over on the company blog, and even see pictures of Sarah and the cool costumes she helped us design. If you squint, you might see me in one of the photos. This year, I ran four games of Stealing Stories for the Devil and three games of Old Gods of Appalachia, including 4 outside-the-con games. My 7th game of Old Gods was at table 7, which felt proper. 28-ish hours of GMing left me exhausted, but happy.

A week after GenCon, a lightning strike fried my modem, router, and the main computer I use for work. $4000 dollars later, I am the owner of a brand new workstation. Beside the finacial expense, which is thankfully tax deductable, it also cost me two days of work last week around the clock to get everything restored. The biggest change on my outside-of-work life is that I now have a 4K monitor that can do HDR. If you haven’t seen Baldur’s Gate 3 in 4K and HDR, you are missing out. And that game doesn’t even have top-of-the-line graphics! I am looking forward to seeing how Starfield looks on it. Not that I have much time for either.

My personal time is mostly going to RPGs lately. I’m still running a D&D game on alternating Thursdays, our Blades in the Dark campaign on alternating Fridays, and of recent, a Brindlewood Bay game on Saturdays. We’ve only played Brindlewood Bay twice so far, but we’ve really enjoyed it. I hope to do a blog post with greater detail about how I’ve been using some AI tools to create assets for myself to use in my Brindlewood games. There are longer posts to be written about ethical use of AI generation for RPG campaigns, and maybe I’ll get a chance to write my view.

Speaking of Brindlewood, my good friend Gord Sellar has published his Carved from Brindlewood game, Something Tookish. A group of us got to playtest this a couple of months ago. I played a North Country halfling farmer with a dog as tall as he was. It was a real hoot, involving a mystery of who was stealing vegetables from a garden, and why. I absolutely love the Brindlewood system for mysteries, which makes them far more fun to game-master than a traditional mystery where you as the GM know the solution to the puzzle and have to somehow guide the players to it. If cozy halfling mysteries sounds like it would be up your alley, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Gord’s creation.

Finally, when there’s any time left, I’ve been working on creating my own Forged in the Dark RPG, yet another attempt to somehow create the Conspiracy Game, something only friends from 25 years ago will know of. Basically, my goal is to create an RPG that is a cross between the X-Files and X-Com. I’ve been reading every Forged in the Dark game I can find to study up, as well as slowly working through the early seasons of the X-Files on Amazon Prime. The HD versions are a delight to watch. Bless those 90s shows that filmed in 35mm instead of video! At the rate I’m going, I will probably finish the game by 2030, if I am lucky. But the main reason I am making it is not to have a career; I just want to make something my friends and I can play. And with those low stakes, I will get there.

That about sums up my summer, besides the fact that my eight year old turned into a nine year old. He spent his summer learning Unreal Engine and Blender to do animation and video game stuff. I envy that kid.

Anyway, I hope your summer has been full of delights. Let’s try not to go so long between talks, okay? Good. Together, we have forged a pact in the eyes of the Internet Gods, one that cannot be broken without suffering terrible misfortunes!

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