August 29, 2007


Of mice and awesome

I grew up in a drafty oldish farmhouse. The sharp snap of the classic mousetrap design doing its thing was a common thing. Throwing out the bodies was one of the not-really-chores from time to time.

People are shaped by their experiences. To put it poetically, we are all the echoes of the ringing bells of our past. Splash. So, I'm fairly inured to things rodent, especially when said rodents are dead. This is an important thing to note.

I will change the names here, in order to protect the innocent. I will rename them according to the standards as established in many epic-fantasy writings, in order to add the appropriately mythic tone to this tale.

About a week back, I'm visiting with my friends. We'll call them F'fje, and D'ren'ak. I hear tell they recently had an adventure ridding themselves of a mouse. That's mouse, singular. Having disposed of likely a thousand-plus mice over the years of boyhood and adolescence back home, I'm thinking something like, how quaint. Especially when no-kill traps are mentioned. These no-kill traps, of course, did not have a very good success rate. Eventually, they achieved a mousefree home again. All is well.

It's early afternoon. Their youngest, L'ael, has been convinced to nap, and has--after suitable complaints and raging against the descent of the Big Darkness, the swallowing void that is sleep--surrendered to that void. Exhausted by the potent struggle of this phenom, F'fje collapses, as if felled.

I'm entertaining the other two, R'rta'teg and Ws'eyra in the basement playroom. As all such rooms should look at that age, it's mosly a space where the contents of various toy bins has exploded, and coated every available surface. The distribution of the plastic, fabric, and books is a microcosm of the universe's distribution of matter as a whole--overall, evenly distributed, but with just enough variation to cause localized clumps. The boys are entropic vectors who redistribute the overall structure. Like the universe, it would expand forever were it not bounded. The walls create an artificial omega > 1, for the cosmology fans out there.

"Uncle Drastic! What's this?" R'rta'teg queries, thrusting his find out at me.

The answer is pretty obvious as I take it from him. "Huh. Sure looks like a mouse to me." I do a quick bit of necessary taxonomy, though--it could well be fake.

"Is it a toy or real?" The kid's sharp. (Truly is. A couple years earlier, when he was barely older than three, he and I had, at his blindsiding initiation, a fairly in-depth conversation about death and potential causes of it. Which rocked.) Once in my hand I discard that hypothesis. It's been dead for awhile, and is fairly small. Young, or just not very well fed. It was just laying out in the open, the boy explains.

"Nope, this is real. You guys aren't as mousefree as you thought. I'm going to go throw this out and let your mom and dad know." Up the stairs I go to the ground floor. On the second, F'fje remains, like L'ael, gripped in the twilit little doom that is sleep. D'ren'ak is quietly eating lunch, basking in rare solitude. "Hey!" I announce cheerfully. "Check out what your son just found!" I'm holding out the find, dangling stiffly via its tail, without a second thought.

She turns, and the reflex obviously comes right from the brain stem. She shrieks, and doesn't so much leap as teleport about a yard straight back and ends up bolt upright on her feet. The chair, luckily, is wheeled, so it just skids away harmlessly.

It was awesome. It could only have been more awesome if she'd actually ended up standing on the table, on tiptoe.

In my defense, this was completely unintentional and unexpected. For a split second, as it was going on, I thought maybe she'd seen something behind me. Maybe I'm about to be stabbed from behind by some guy in a hockey mask, I think. (I actually think this a lot. Be prepared, is my motto.) But, no, it was the mouse.

Because part of me is made up of a good man, I do apologize. I hadn't actually meant to have taken a couple years off her life, and had I known this was going to be the reaction, I like to think I would have proceeded more carefully with breaking the news.

But I also recognize the existence of darkness in me. We all carry the potential forms of monsters in us, after all. And so I was also somewhat disappointed that I hadn't known this was going to happen.

If I had, I would've been powerfully tempted to arrange to have filmed it. And now, I'll never have the chance to.

A peaceful life is all about learning to live with such lost opportunities.

posted by Gar @ 6:50 PM

August 06, 2007


Neverwinter Nights campaign episode recap

I was going to do this in-character, but that's a lot of work and I'm very lazy, even in the face of bonus XP and phat lewtz. But yet, by writing this in a way that maximizes my personal slack, aren't I even more in-character than being in-character? Think about it.

This is based off of my infallible memory, and is both wholly and holy accurate. In the places where your own memory and records, up to and including the in-game journal, disagree, it is you who are wrong. So it is written, in the Book of Gar's Recap, Chapter 1, Paragraph 2. This citation will prove it: "So it is written, in the Book of Gar's Recap, Chapter 1, Paragraph 2." – Book of Gar's Recap, Chapter 1, Paragraph 2.

Our heroes of the yet-unnamed party were sleeping it off after a month-long drunken (to put it legally) celebration of renovating the Caves of Chaos, slaughtering all the evil inhabitants, using their blood as primer, and repainting them and making them much more homey. The property value is increasing dramatically already, and the party's investments—shrewdly rolled over from initial nest eggs invested in grain and flour futures—promise to make them hundreds.

After everyone emerged from their blackouts and fugue states (except Stram, who could not be roused; everyone drew on him with markers, left his hand dipped into a bowl of warm water, and left him to catch up later), they found themselves in a well-irrigated field. Bob the Barkeep was there, selling various hangover cures and equipment upgrades for suspiciously fair profits. After everyone got some coffee in them, attention was turned to how to get Bob's galleon out of the irrigation ditch it was somehow parked in and out to open sea.

No one really remembers how they solved that problem, or much of the ocean voyage, again due to being drunk. To put it legally. But they finally came to their destination, some town which the citizens claimed was called Ulik, yet had some other name over the gates. It's hard to say who was right. The citizens were all fucked up, whining about having barely escaped slavers who were stampeding women and raping cattle up and down the coastlines and generally being evil dicks about it all.

The guy who nominally ran the place told them that it was unknown where the slavers were based, but there was a burnt-out temple up in the hills that sure had a lot of suspicious foot traffic in and out of. So the party headed up that way. Various half-orc normals kept shooting arrows into the party. The party calmly countered this argument by explaining that the half-orcs would be happier with swords stuck through them instead. In the end, the party won the argument. In the afterlife, the half-orc slavers agreed that they had been wrong, and asked if they could please repent, but it was too late for their sorry asses.

Also, quite a few of the party died, and had to be brought back to life by the Space Bankers, who had returned their business to the more accepted industry standard of streamlined service fees since the party's last outing. Upon discussion, everyone agreed that maybe next time they wouldn't react to combat by everyone running in separate directions.

The adventure nearly came to a halt when it was discovered the front door of the temple was locked. But then they found the slavers had left the back door unlocked. It was promptly kicked in on principle, and they descended into the basement, which had a serious ant infestation. An extermination bill was left, and the party pressed on, deeper, harder, yes, YES! No one had ever satisfied the evil temple like the party did. It had never been like that before. The slavers didn't treat it right, not like Orson and "Bob" could, baby. Sure, they had to slap the temple around some, especially when it got all lippy and let its mouth get smart like that, but it was for its own good.

The sub-sub-basement led into an underground complex which was infested with slavers who were very confused. They hadn't heard that they were supposed to be dead, so the party explained their error to them by killing them, and collected fees in XP and gold. The new plan of not running in different directions when fighting immediately paid dividends for everyone except Maximvs Vrsvs, who visited the Space Bankers of Resurrection several times, mostly because of the candy bowl in the lobby. The candy was worth the xp penalty, he later explained.

Soon, the party found trapped slaves, and freed them. "Holy shit," the imprisoned slaves said. "You guys are awesome!" "Yes," the party agreed. "Yes, we are awesome. Except for Stram, who didn't come with. He said you guys suck, and weren't worth saving. Are you going to let him say things like that about you? If you see him in town, you should totally fight him. You probably will, being 0th level commoners. Go back home and try to get better shops up and running."

They also found the slaver who ran the place. He was going to deliver this big evil monologue and introduce himself, but the party killed his ass before he could say his name. Saint Doktor Bastard was divinely inspired to cut out his eyeball and keep it. He spent some time waving the severed eyeball around over the corpse and saying "Hey, what do you see there? Oh, your body? Your DEAD BODY?! That must be because we KILLED YOU! You never paid "Bob" his tithes, and now you're BURNING IN HELL! HA HA!"

Back in town, everyone was suitably impressed. The eye was getting a little stinky and drippy, so Bastard let the mayor keep it. He also decreed that henceforth, the town should have an annual celebration, held monthly, in which they would tithe their profits to the Church, and thus avoid burning in Hell for failure to do so. Many souls were saved there, that day.

Back into the hills went the party, and found a garrison. Everyone climbed up a rope into an unsecured window, except Saint Doktor Bastard, who was deep into meditation and communion with the Space Bankers' Level Up Department. Finally, he rejoined them.

Things went well, until a serious bug was uncovered in the Saint Doktor's foul stinking zombie upgrade. Suddenly it threw an exception in memory address 00xx0000 and started slaughtering slaves just freed from cells. Previously, it had done the same to some oxen, but Bastard just assumed they were evil and unrighteous oxen. This warning sign was ignored at cost, and brought about a hard lockup and crash of his Paladin plugin. Fortunately, a reboot into safe mode and then system restore from a recent partial backup restored full functionality. The zombie won't be seeing use again until a service pack, which the Church currently has no ETA on.

Later, another slaver executive was discovered, this being some slut named Markessa. This was a pathetic figure, obviously trying to sound French, but then secondguessing the name and trying to spell it in some way that could give plausible deniability to being accused of sounding French. Whatever, she died like a dog, if a dog dies by getting shot full of crossbow bolts and stabbed with swords a lot. Bastard collected her hand and said, "Hey, Zen riddle for you. What's the sound of one hand dying? The answer is YOU!" Later still, St. Doktor and Maximvs got separated from the party, and found this perfect double of Markessa. While Max testified that they killed her normally, Saint Doktor insists that they beat her to death with the severed hand of the real one.

Also, someone found a letter to Icar, which might have said something important or not.

They also found a locked door leading even further underground, which had ominous subtle foreshadowing of leading to the next adventure, such as the signs glued to it that said "This door is currently out of order, but will work in the next adventure!"

"I wonder what that door's all about," wondered Dam Fackoo.

The victorious heroes returned town to much celebration and more XP. There commenced a shopping orgy which resulted in several major upgrades. In a fit of generosity, Saint Doktor Bastard offered the short sword taken from one of the slaver captains to Jackie "Ten Wolves of Multiple Characters All Named Jackie Chanette But With Quotations in the Middle" Chanette, since it looked light and speedy enough for even a woman to use. She declined the sword and insisted that Bastard sell it, but only if he gave her some love. After some wacky Three's Company hijinx from that misunderstanding was resolved, Doktor is even Saintlier, what with a new tool, the Holy "Some call it…The Avenger" sword, all glowy and big red straps and all. He then gave Jackie a golden shower with the remainder of the sale. "Oh no, not so much! That's too much of a golden shower, tee hee!" she said, and Mr. Furley gaped wide eyed at the camera, but it turned out they were only hanging a shower curtain or something like that.

"You guys are awesome! You're so cool! I wish we could be you!" said the town. "But what do we call you?"

"We are…the Party of Orson!"

And forever after in that town, whatever it's called, the Legend of POO will never die, amen.

Then monsters kept attacking the town, but it was only a dream. OR WAS IT?!

posted by Gar @ 11:58 AM

August 02, 2007


The bridge was looking California, but feeling Minnesota

In case anyone in my vast readership (you are tiny but select percentile) I am unaffected by the Minnesota Death Bridge incident.

The uppermost grades of various occult organizations of the Rosicrucian variety have vows that amount to taking the outlook that everything the universe does is a personal sign directed at you, and by you, I mean me. Now, I'm no true Rosicrucian (although true ones are supposed to deny that they are, so ferreting out the truth of this matter would require a carefully-worded query to my identical twin who tells only the truth or only lies, and he's unavailable right now. Unless I'm lying about that, and without the twin, there's no way to know. Sorry), but this is a helpful attitude to take sometimes.

The lesson contained in this kind of infrastructure snafu can be summed up by me screaming at the sky, "You missed!" And pointing and laughing. (And shortly keeling over at my keyboard from a sudden freak cerebral hemorrhage, in which case you'll never get to properly query my identical mirror twin.)

posted by Gar @ 10:01 AM

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