Blog

Sick But, Things to Look Forward to

Well, the COVID test says I don’t have COVID, but boy do I feel off. I’ve got head congestion, but worse, I’ve got a lot of muscle aches and my chest hurts. Very much not fun, especially given that I’ve already had a cold once in the past six months. I guess the quarantine days did a real number on my immunity.

Anyway, due to sickness I’m falling behind on Frostgrave battle reports. We played a four player game last night that was absolutely great fun. More on that later. Today, I’ll just write a list of things to which I am looking forward, to put it in proper grammatical structure despite this making me sound like a twit.

In the video game world, I’m anticipating Son of the Forest. I never played the Forest and at this point, it seems too late to do so, so I’m looking forward to this one. I’m hoping to rope a few friends into that weird body horror survival game. There are others, but I think that’s the first one coming. I don’t have the strength to search up others right now.

Season 3 of Mandalorian has dropped a trailer and that has me eager to see more of the adventure of Grogu. Djin who? I heard a rumor that we see more of Pedro Pascal this season. Speaking of him, I guess The Last of Us is a pretty good show. I don’t need anything post-apocalyptic right now, though, so I’m skipping it. I’ll binge it later when I am less bothered by the idea of a disease destroying the world. I’m pretty sure my hypochondriac-ass would watch it and become convinced it’s infected with cordyceps.

Film-wise, I don’t think there’s really anything on the horizon that has me excited this year. Yeah, sure, there’s a march of Marvel stuff that I will probably watch on streaming. What else? Not much–well, except maybe for this obvious piece of crap:

I’m there day one. Also, still need to go see Avatar 2: The Retreading. My Mom texted me to ask to go see it with us, which was a shock. I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the theater with my Mom. Maybe Jurassic Park? Apparently she saw the last one in the theater and loved it. We may have to find it on Imax. Assuming it’s still in theaters when I’m no longer sick.

Okay, there, I blogged. Now I’m headed back to mindlessly watching shitty Youtube videos with the kid and trying to remain as motionless as possible.

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white ceramic mug on white table beside black eyeglasses

Personal Life

Kobold Press’s Deep Magic 2 Launch

I’m cheating today because work has taken over my life and I like to support my clients.

Kobold Press is a 3rd party RPG publisher (soon to be 1st party with Project Black Flag!). They just launched a new Kickstarter for their book Deep Magic 2. Here’s how they describe it:

Deep Magic Volume 2 is the next installment in Kobold Press’s popular series, presenting potent new options for game masters and players with a penchant for enchantment. . . . And fully compatible with the evolution of the world’s first tabletop RPG!

The great thing about this Kickstarter is that the book will be forward-compatible with the forthcoming Project Black Flag from Kobold Press, so you will be able to play it with an all new system and skip on supporting the world’s first tabletop RPG that shall remain nameless. I hear Project Black Flag will be truly open and have no digital monthly subscription fee.

If you’re semi-illiterate before 10 AM like me, you can watch a video instead!

The team at Kobold Press works really hard on each one of these releases. I’m not involved on the creative side, but I also work hard to help with their websites, so I’m not a neutral third party here. If you support Kobold Press, you support me. So go do that, friends.

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Books, Gaming

A Taste of the Old Fear

Around here, I’ve mostly forgotten about COVID, at least in practical terms. Obviously, it’s changed us for the rest of our lives, but I don’t find myself gripped with the fear that I had in 2020 or 2021. I’ve had it. I survived. I’ve been exposed since and not gotten it. It sucks, but we have treatments now. Vaccines. If I feel sick, I wear a mask to protect others. That seems to be mostly the extent of what precautions I can take these days without looking like a crazy person to the locals.

One thing about being off social media is that I’m not constantly assaulted with information of a dubious nature about the disease. Hell, I’m not constantly inundated with fear-based information about most things. I find I can think more clearly about such things.

That said, my RSS reader spit out an article about getting kids to mask up again (I won’t link it) and it said that “COVID is more like HIV than the flu.” And there it was. That old fear, that “the world is falling out from underneath me” terror that I lived with daily for almost two years.

I did not miss it, the old fear. I’m no longer sure how seriously to take proclamations like that. The Metafilter comments are definitely taking it to task, so maybe that is bullshit. I’m just going to do my best to forget it. Ignorance is bliss and all that. Or in this case, at least, ignorance is not living in abject terror every waking moment.

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white toilet paper roll on brown wooden table

Parenting, Personal Life

Frostgrave Battle Report: The Eclipse

The sudden eclipse was on none of the wizard’s astrological charts. It’s arrival was most unexpected, but not unwelcome.

Eclipses are well-known to be associated with powerful magical surges, and while the wizards who had made camp near the tiny settlement of Hommel were not prepared for it, they quickly flew into action. Mugwump led his band of mushroom folk from the tavern straight into the nearest ruins which were already glittering with newly revealed treasures, perhaps reawakened by the celestial show now unfolding. The Summoner, Dawnbreaker Sweeney, raced out of his library lair with his retinue in tow, ever-eager to capture new treasures and secrets. The newly arrived kobold band led by the wizard Brond interrupted their revelries in the Forest of Hands to also make pursuit. The icy ground began to crackle with arcane energies as the sky grew darker.

With the moon devouring the sun overhead, lines of sight and distances were muddled, even as the wizard’s magics became more powerful. The fungal bear known locally as “Cocaine Bear” made swiftly for the Summoner’s men, taking many arrows into its flanks without effect. A great effort by Sweeney’s thugs were finally able to beat it into submission, all while Mugwump and his apprentice led the others through the village and into the nearest ruined tower.

The Summoner’s troops made headway the quickest, cutting a straight forward path into two ruined houses and quickly located fresh treasures, but were soon bogged down by the arrival of kobolds and mushroom folks hoping to make the steal.

Sweeney himself climbed atop the Hand throne for a better view of the scene, but XXXX spotted him and used a clever push spell to launch him dozens of feet into the air. The Summoner did not recover during the course of the battle, and sadly was not conscious to witness the full eclipse.

So too did Brond fall in battle before the Eclipse had reached it’s zenith, and the only wizard who was left conscious to take notes on the arcane situation was Mugwump, the strangle little mushroom man of unknown origin. He utilized the surge of magical energies to target a thief carrying a treasure across a bridge and catapult him far into an icy river with another use of the Push spell. The treasure Sweeney’s thief carried was lost to the rapid waters, along with the thief.

Unfortunately for him, Mugwump soon fell to the warping of energies of his own failed spellcasting, and a few moments later, in the chaos of battle, Floop, his apprentice, was obliterated by an attack of uncertain provinance. The apprentice was not rescued in the aftermath, and Mugwump will be forced to grow a new one from fresh spores and other ingredients taken from his private stores.

Among other notable events, this scribe is told that Sweeney’s apprentice poured much of his blood into a summoning ritual and brought a major demon onto the field which quickly began to stalk the others. The mushroomfolk’s archers, now able to see better as the eclipse waned, were able to harry it with arrows. It made its way straight for the scrum of kobolds and Summoner’s troops that were skirmishing violently over a single treasure.

As the magical levels returned to normal, the fight seemed to leave the wizards, and a truce was struck to avoid further losses that day. The wizards and their bands made off with the treasure they had already secured: Brond captured one, Mugwump captured two, and Sweeney captured two. One was lost to the bottom of the river, although perhaps some day it will resurface.

There is an uneasiness in the air now amongst the wizards and mercenaries of this region. There are whispers that this eclipse was a herald of something terrible, something that has now awakened and schemes out there in the frozen city. Wizards that have recently departed on expeditions have failed to return. There are also rumors that a new batch of cultists have been spotted making their way through the city, but to what purpose, no one knows. The only thing that is certain in Frostgrave is that things will remain uncertain and ever-changing.

What is this? Each week, I meet with other nerds to play games of the miniatures-agnostic skirmish game, Frostgrave. It’s a cross between an RPG and a miniatures game, with leveling up wizards who learn new spells and gain new treasures. It’s a lot of fun and gives me an opportunity to play in addition to all the RPGs I run for others.

Notes for this session: scenario 50 xp was gained only by Mugwump for being alive in turn 5. We tried a different method of deployment, seeking a way to better balance three players, and all deployed from parts of one end of the board and raced towards the other half where all the treasure was deployed. This resulted in a bit of a bloodbath, but it was a lot of fun. This was the first scenario of the Thaw of the Lich Lord.

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The Innocence of 80s Films

Netflix has backed up a dump truck full of 80s schlock to the servers and we benefited last night. The kid, depressed that he wasn’t allowed to play video games because he had stayed home “sick” from school, was mollified when I put on the classic Schwarzenegger/deVito film, Twins.

Twins proposes that Arnold’s character and Danny’s character are the product of a government-led genetic experiment to make the perfect person. Arnold is kept and Danny is shipped off to an orphanage. A patently horrifying and traumatic concept, but the whole thing is played mostly for laughs. There’s rarely a moment of seriousness in the movie, even as deVito scams his way around town, duping people out of money and stealing cars. Arnold’s character is the picture of naivete, probably one of my favorite performances from him. His character in this is just sweet and well meaning. It’s refreshing from all the bad asses he plays later. I would not be surprised if he had a wonderful time making that movie.

The eight year old loved it, and couldn’t stop going on about how it was a “good movie.” I was bemused, but honestly, it’s not bad. It has some real lovely moments, and there’s just something charming about how vaguely innocent it feels in comparison to modern movies. There’s not much in the way of cynicism in it, even though there really should be, given the subject material. It’s mostly a tone thing, hard for me to put my finger on.

We followed up with the 1990 film Kindergarten Cop. There’s some of that feeling of innocence in this one, but it plays much of it as a straight cop movie until the kids come on screen, when it suddenly turns into a big budget production of Kids Say the Darnedest Things. I remember this one being a huge hit when I was a kid (“It’s not a tumor!” being an oft-quoted line) but honestly, after watching these films back to back, I think Twins is the stronger film. Danny deVito’s charm lends a lot to the picture which is provided to some degree by the adorable Pamela Reed (seem familiar? She later went on to play Leslie Knope’s mom!), but not to the same level of impact or importance to the story. Arnold as a double act was something special, and not something we ever really got to see again. It should come as no surprise to anyone that both of these films were directed by Ivan Reitman. He had the spark, and may he rest in peace.

Every time I think or watch or even talk about 80s movies, I am reminded of a memory of my father’s father watching old westerns on the TV (when he wasn’t watching sports) and feeling vaguely bad for him for having to watch such “old, boring stuff.” As a man in his mid-40s. I am fully aware now of the power of nostalgia, and I want to travel back in time and retract my private reaction. I get it. Nostalgia is one of those blessings/curses of getting older. I try not to partake too much, but I really do enjoy these movies and how they feel like the came from a much more innocent period in our history. In my history, too.

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Intellectual Starvation

It’s a short one today. My life is so consumed by Open Gaming License fallout and such that I have been swamped these past few days. I’m rapidly running out of steam and desperately in need of the weekend. Stay tuned to the end of the post for a few miniatures too.

So I’ve been reading Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and it’s really hitting the spot. Reading it for 30 minutes at a time even has been giving me the satisfaction of a particularly well-cooked meal does, and it suddenly hit me. All of these months without reading real written material crafted with a purpose other than to get clicks has been starving my brain.

I am being a bit hyperbolic, but I think there’s something to this comparison, something in the nature of internet content in 2023 and the way we consume it that is thin fucking gruel. It’s addictive though, and so we scoop it up. It’s low effort, so we can do it for hours and hours. But increasingly, I am convinced that most of it is not only not beneficial, but is actually harmful to our ability to think clearly.

I’ve had to dip back into Twitter lately to get work related news and I find the site so repugnant that I find myself subconsciously holding my breath while I scan the feeds. I dip back out as quickly as I can. It’s amazing how only a few weeks away can make something you previously felt was essential seem completely toxic.

So at least in that sense, my 2023 is going better than my 2022. I’m on book number four of the year and showing no signs of slowing down. I feel sharper, and I’m noticing that my writing skills here are improving already. I do have some bad habits to fix, like starting new paragraphs with the word “so.”

If I have any advice to you, my six readers, it’s give up on social media and read a book. Jesus, that’s boring advice. But it is what it is.


Here are the four miniatures I painted last night – #14 to #17. I am particularly proud of the wet-blending I did on the axe. I’ve never tried that type of gradient transition before, but now I’ll probably be looking for places to do it all over because it’s sexy as hell.

Four assorted miniatures painted by Jeremiah Tolbert
That left-most dwarf was a crappy print and hard to paint, but I do like the other three.

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Misc. Miniatures

I’m trying not to rely exclusively on my miniature painting for a source of blogging fodder, but at the same time, there are some days where the only noteworthy thing I do is paint a couple of miniatures before bed. Note, I just typed “dead” instead of bed. I may be a bit tired by this point in the week. I really need to get a new gym membership. If only I could persuade myself that a gym membership isn’t just a way to pay to get COVID again.

Anyway, here are a couple of miniatures, bringing my total up to 13. The number of gnomes present is a total coincidence.

I didn’t paint any last night – it was my night off from family responsibilities so I headed out to the office and binged The Rig on Amazon Prime. It was super mediocre. I started out focused, because I liked a lot of the actors, but by the mid to late episodes, I was more playing a video game called Dinkum and not paying much attention.

I tried to do this with Copenhagen Cowboy but the subtitles meant I will have to watch that one with my full attention. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I have liked some of the director’s films.

In general, my attention span is terrible right now. Work events have me distracted and anxious. See previous posts about all that. We’re alive and perhaps even thriving though, so there’s a lot to be thankful for.

We’ve started tentatively planning a family vacation over spring break to Disney World. I knew it would be expensive, but I’m shocked at just how much. My kid is lucky we love him, because if I had my way, we’d go to Costa Rica or Puerto Rico instead of cursed Florida. The things we do for our children, huh? So I guess we’ll go there in March. We’ll confirm that and make reservations once our taxes are back and we know we have no nasty surprises.

Until next time, be kind to yourself and get lots of rest. Enough for both of us, okay?

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painting of building

Miniatures, Personal Life

Raising the Black Flag

It’s been a busy day for my clients, and thus it was a very busy day for me. I nearly forgot to write a post, but luckily I can talk about part of the reasons it has been so busy.

All of this activity appears to be at least partially in response to the WotC OGL 1.1 snafu and leak. It’s an absolutely terrible agreement and Wizards of the Coast has misstepped badly with this, it seems. Matt Coville of MCDM has also announced their plans to develop their own system. Just about the only major players we’re still waiting to hear from are Darrington Press (Critical Role folks) and Paizo (Pathfinder folks). I expect we’ll hear something very soon on those fronts.

I expect a Cambrian Explosion of sorts for new fantasy RPG systems, and frankly, I am here for it. Not all of these new creations being announced with succeed, and to some degree, I hope there’s early consolidation of efforts, but I think if we as a community could come together under one flag and create a genuinely open game system, it will benefit us all and provide many people careers and a healthy living despite the best attempts by certain nefarious magic users to eliminate the competition.

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Gaming

The World Still Spins

I have sticky earwax. Too much information?

My ear wax has been a pox upon me for many years. Most people, your ears just kind of expel the ear wax normally, but mine don’t. Over time, my ears get compacted and I’ve punctured my ear drums more than once trying to clear things out. Now days, I have little Japanese tools to help me keep them clear and I know how to use hot water to flush it out (perhaps the most disgusting aftermath you’d ever find in a bathroom sink), but sometimes, I wake up and the world is spinning. Sticky earwax, damn you!

Today is one of those days. It’s not too bad, but if I move too quickly, the world continues to move and there’s a good chance I might fall over. It’s probably comical to everyone but me. I’ll keep yawning and hoping that I’ll eventually stablize. Usually, this takes a couple of days. I’d like to say I’m used to it, but you never get used to being dizzy.

It’s carrying over my disconcertment from waking up from a particular kind of dream. I know, stories of other peoples dreams are about the least interesting thing in the world, so I won’t bore you with details, but I lately have dreams about buying or receiving a new home, only it’s not a regular house. It’s some crazy building re-tasked as a house, full of hidden rooms, corridors, and other strange spaces, often liminal ones. It’s the kind of place you can own for years and still discover new things within.

Putting on my arm-chair psychiatrist hat, I’d say these dreams are a byproduct of living with two other people (and a dog and a cat) in a very small house (by modern standards). My brain seems particularly obsessed with having more space, in exploring spaces. I am definitely descended from apes that didn’t like to stay in one place for long. The ones who were first to wander into mysterious caves, probably. Quite a few snipped lines of distant ancestors eaten by cave bears probably. Might be why we also have a genetic predisposition for anxiety. My people? Oh, we were nervous cave explorers. If cavemen had novelty t-shirts, ours would have read “if you see me running, try and keep up.”

I used to have dreams about world travel, visiting exotic locales, but COVID has killed those, and if I have travel dreams at all, they’re about getting stuck and not even managing to board a plane. I find the idea of getting on a plane absolutely repugnant now. Completely dehumanizing. Having not done it in so long, and hearing all the travel horror stories in the past few years, I think I would much rather drive myself anywhere I go. This is rather limiting on the choice of destinations, though. We’re talking about a drive to Disney World this year. A nice half-month trip, driven somewhat slowly, giving me a chance to work in the evenings. Always with the working, me.

Speaking of which, I had better get back to it. The world’s still spinning, and I had best try to keep up.

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Personal Life