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  • geeks & kinksters.  For the second time in seven months (okay that's not all that often) somebody has claimed that there's vast quantities of overlap between the geeky & kinky communities.  While most of the kinksters I've encountered are geeky, many of the geeks I've encountered aren't kinky.  I guess it's possible they're just not *out*, but I suspect that's not the thing.  I do suspect that the respective sizes of the communities is relevant, here.  But there's all these cute geeks that I'm disappointed to find don't share my proclivities... (ahem)
  • writing the Other, part zillion: I don't need to write this, because I'm sure it's been written.  The one where you explain to white authors that never explicitly stating the race of your characters doesn't mean your characters are race-less.  Pretending you're not participating in your surrounding culture while not actually doing anything doesn't mean you're not steeped in that culture, y'know?  I guess the only reason I want to write yet another iteration of this is an author I respected tweeted the fallacy and I'm disappointed. 
I may or may not get around to the post where I enjoyed the Johnson and Morden PK Dick Award nominees and then ruminate to what extent does the main character have to rock before you call a Mary Sue...

...but I *will* get around to the writeup of the recent game of Microscope I played at Story Games Seattle, because if I make sure every game I'm in gets written up I can pretend it gives me license to get stroppy about other people's missing writeups. (though I'll post it over there, not over here.)  I want to know what happens in your games, people!

In case y'all were wondering what I was doing instead of posting here.

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(see previous post on test-driving story games.)

So, starting with the one we didn't finish:  Faust & Friends, by Mendel Schmiedekamp.  Schmiedekamp writes chewy game theory articles and comes out with at least one game a year that seems designed to highlight some particular aspect of gameplay/game design.  This one's clearly about relationships.

my experience playing the game )
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(continued from the previous post).

And with that, they move on to the next letter: Henry Clarkson writes because his wife, Claire, has been thrown into prison for stealing from her employer. The letter is sparse with setting details, so the players do a quick scene-setting: Claire's employer is "Death By Chocolate," a candy factory, and Dulac Penitentiary is made entirely of sweets.after arriving... )
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Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a slapstick fantasy storytelling game. Players each control a "pilgrim" with a particular talent for getting in trouble. The pilgrims travel across a silly universe, helping people who'd been desperate enough to write to the Flying Temple to ask for help. The gameplay results in an actual written story (though rather shorn of detail, as we played it), which I've transcribed here with varying degrees of fidelity.

Cast of Characters:

  • Pilgrim Dreamy Thumb (Laura), who gets into trouble by daydreaming, and helps people by causing plants to grow or follow her around.
  • Pilgrim Enthusiastic Spike (Cheryl), who gets into trouble by overdoing things, and helps people by speaking sharply.
  • Pilgrim Tender Breeze (Martin), who gets into trouble with her need to please everybody, and helps people by moving quite rapidly.
  • Pilgrim Warm Python (Dave), who gets into trouble by forming fast friendships with bad people, and helps people by holding tightly & never letting go.

The Pilgrims set out from the Temple to answer a plea for help sent by one Hazel Harrington, chief mechanic of an amusement park who's just contracted to become the universe's first "Cabbage-Friendly" park ... only to have the Coleslaw Front threaten retaliatory mayhem.
transcript follows. )
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This morning four-year-old Lila and I played two games of "Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple" with her imaginary friend, Salamander. (Salamander has been Lila's chief imaginary friend for several years, now; it's happy coincidence that her name was so appropriate for this game.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it's "a slapstick fantasy storytelling game about helping people and getting into a universe of open, endless skies. Many tiny worlds orbit around the Flying Temple in the center of the universe." There's a detailed description of play here if you want an explanation of how we did what we ended up doing. We ran two ten-target-word stories (most of the stories have twice that many targets), and if the stories we created sound a lot like the sort of story a preschooler would tell...that may say more about the players than about the game. :)

I played "Pilgrim Muddy Squirrel," who gets into trouble by making messes, and helps people by collecting things. Lila played "Pilgrim Bopping Catcher," who gets into trouble by hitting things and helps people by catching things. Salamander played "Pilgrim Screaming Salamander," who gets into trouble by being too loud, and helps people by playing with fire. Lila picked her and Salamander's names with a little prompting from me -- mostly describing how she wanted them to work, and giving yea or nay to my suggestions as to the names.Read more... )
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Ghost Stories is a cooperative boardgame. My copy arrived yesterday. Players work cooperatively as Taoist monks exorcising ghosts, spending and collecting Qi, collecting materials (bowl of sticky rice, silver bell, coins, stuff) and eventually facing Wu-Feng, Lord of the Nine Hells.

Unboxing: Pretty, pretty artwork! Solid tokens & boards. I love games with lots of tokens. Nine "village tiles," each with a glowing sense of place and a cartoon villager.

Manual: This manual is awfully short for me to be having this many "I can't find what I'm looking for!" moments. Also, players are always referred-to as "he," which I find very distracting. :( On the upside, good examples & calls out edge-cases when necessary.

Gameplay: I've played one solitaire game so far. It's like Arkham Horror crossed with whack-a-mole. Okay, sometimes Arkham is a lot like whack-a-mole, too. Another haunting, go exorcise it! And over there! Over there! I think that'll be less of an issue in the multiplayer game. Also, a little weird that the strong sense-of-place on the village tiles isn't matched by the player-boards, which are all game-mechanic and light on story (though they are also pretty).

I can see why this is so highly rated on
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Seriously, WotC? Your pregens for this year's Encounters season are all white but for the one drow? What, there are no nonwhite humans in your universe? Sheesh. You can have elves, dwarves, magic-users, titans, ogres, but add in people of color and suddenly people claim it's unrealistic/contrived/ruins their immersion/hurts their e-peens/whatever.

Hate it all today.  Screw you, mainstream gaming world.  I'm going to give more money to more indie game developers.
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I'm amused that I can get so much pleasure out of a completely contrived accomplishment in a video game.

My real-life task right now, decommissioning my mailserver, feels a little like a video game except I have to generate my own periodic accomplishments. For those with accounts on my mailserver: I'm migrating all its services very slowly to a hosting service. I'm working on the mailing lists right now; I'll be moving people's personal email and shell accounts later. I have to admit that "Hey, I migrated a mailing list today!" does give me a little thrill.


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