Almost Ready to Capitalism Again and Velma

I’ve felt considerably better today than I did on Friday, which was a rare “day of little work” for me, but I’d say I’m still only at about 75% of my best. I’ll work tomorrow, undoubtedly, but I will have to be forgiving with myself if I don’t accomplish as much as a usual Monday. Gotta keep the wheels grinding.

Because of the sickness, I missed a Friday RPG game that I run (Blades in the Dark) and a Sunday game that I play in. I will admit to enjoying having weekends off from time to time, but I’m pretty sure I begin to have a crisis of identity if I got more than a couple of weeks without running a game of some kind. Instead of doing the hard work of running a game for others, I’ve been passing the time more passively, and I have thoughts about it.

Today, I watched all four (so far) released episodes of the new TV animated series, Velma. You’ve probably heard that it’s an atrocity against our childhoods, the worst thing ever made, and the creators should be banned from ever working again in Hollywood. Well, that’s all bullshit with a side order of misogyny.

It’s not… good, mind you. Many of the jokes fall flat for me, but over the four episodes, I have seen some growth in quality and substance. A lot of the reactions online have been to how “different” the characters are, like they’ve never heard of the concept of prequel before? Also, Velma is deeply unlikeable and doesn’t have a clue who she is. This is a deadly sin to the haters online. It’s fine. Velma is interesting here, as are the others, and clearly she has a lot of growing to do. I’m interested in the mystery and also how they become the characters we know so well. I don’t give a shit about how the characters have been altered as far as race or sexuality. It adds depth, and is one of the aspects of the show that actually works out of the box. The absence of Scooby is no big deal.

I’m not entirely sure who the intended audience is for the show. Probably not people my age. Probably not me! And that’s okay! As usual, I think there’s a faction on the internet mostly just hates Mindy Kaling, and will take any opportunity to express it. Dumb. She’s a talented comedienne, even if she’s not my favorite. It’s okay to not like things, but when you make not liking something or someone your whole purpose for living, that’s pretty gross and sad. Entitlement is not a good look on anybody.

I do wish I could say that I loved it, and that it was really good. Nothing makes me feel more special than loving something others hate. Sadly, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and I don’t expect much. But it’s watchable. I’ll finish the first season, which is more than I can say for Willow. Shrug-emoji.


cup of coffee near MacBook Pro

Personal Life

Saturday Is For Recovery

I have done pretty much nothing for 24 hours except watch That 90s Show on Netflix (jury’s still out, but I have nostalgia for That 70s Show) and play a modded Minecraft pack (Vault Hunters, it’s infuriating). Also, cough, sneeze, and blow my nose. I think the split between activity and disease symptoms is about 50/50.

I do feel a little better today. When I was painting a miniature last night, snot dripped out of my nose and formed a pool on the table. I eventually shoved a tissue into each nostril so that I wouldn’t drip on the mini. I looked like some kind of deranged paper-based walrus. Today, I haven’t had to do that, and I actually managed to sleep almost seven hours last night. Progress!

Getting sick is definitely my least favorite thing about getting older. Colds used to barely register for me, but now they wallop me. And yes, I took a COVID test. I was negative–just a regular run-of-the-mill rhinovirus this time.


white tissue paper in blue box

Personal Life

Overturning Half-Orc Stereotypes

I’m still pretty sick but that sometimes gives me time to think about stupid stuff while I wait for my face to implode from the sinus pressure. Last night, around 3 AM, I got to thinking about the stereotypical half-orc background story from the olden days, and discovered what I think is a fatal flaw.

(CW: rape)

Right, so, I don’t remember where I read it, but in the 1st edition AD&D days, half-orcs typically had the following “origin story.” The mother was a human who was raped by raiding orcs. The half-orc grew up despised by his human family and neighbors, and set out as an adventurer to find a world where they could fit in. Tired, right? Boring, and offensive, too.

But, this origin story doesn’t work, because I posit that human women would have a very difficult time giving birth to half-orc babies, due to their size and stature, much like how there are some theories about the difficulty of homo sapiens mothers having half-neandertal babies (This might be an actual thing or it might just be something I half-remember from Clan of the Cave Bear). Such pregnancies would often result in death of the mother and baby, given the state of medicine. Magic would most likely need to intervene.

So what if we turn the equation on its head? Half-orc mother, and human father? Ah, now things get way more interesting. I don’t want to get any further into the distasteful subject above, but with these roles reversed, I find consent much more achievable, and the opposite, er, not.

With beauty standards stereotypically being very different between orcs and humans, you can pretty safely bet: half-orc children are the product of loving couples of human men who are into death by snu-snu and orc women who are into the orcish equivalent of 90 lb weakling nerds. Half-orcs must grow up well-loved in orc culture – can you imagine someone telling an orcish mother that her baby “isn’t an orc?” That someone would not last long. Half-orcs are not “half” anything to orcs in their own society. They’re just orcs. Human are responsible for that “half” nonsense.

So half-orc grow up in stable, loving homes, supported and accepted by their society, and they set out to adventure on a grand tour of human society out of curiosity as much as anything else. Experiencing half-orc discrimination probably comes as a huge surprise to them.

Anyway, a bit of a touchy subject with some very unpleasant tropes, but it paints an entirely different picture of people of orcish descent for me.


person wearing brown and black mask


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.