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New icon! It’s the same one I’m using over on Google+.

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My friend Sumana Harihareswara is working on a geeky standup comedy routine (“about project management, Linux, relationships, Agile, public transit, science fiction, and These Kids Today”), and needs an audience of science fiction and computer nerds in front of whom to practice it.

To that end, she’ll be performing for half an hour, starting at 7 PM, on Thursday, April 21st, at Seaburn Bookstore, 33-18 Broadway, in Astoria. Looks like it’s near the Broadway stop on the N/Q, and the Steinway stop on the M/R. I know a bunch of you live in or near Astoria, so heads up. Chris and I are going to be there. (I might also show at Pacific Standard on Friday, since I can walk there.)

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3 heads

ShopperSo, November since I’ve posted any sketches. Turns out that five months is long enough for my scanner to acquire a layer of dust thick enough that I have to blow it off before using it.

This is all stuff doodled in local coffee shops — Ozzie’s on Lincoln and Seventh, and Tea Lounge on Union.

No, wait, I just remembered: The three heads at the top of this post were drawn while I was sitting on a park bench on Plaza Street, opposite the Montauk Club.

Big stuff behind the cut )
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I’m an American, so I’m gonna do the Census Meme for years ending in 0 instead of 1:

2010: I’m living with [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which has become a hot and happening neighborhood.

2000: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NYC, living solo, able to afford it because of a comfortable salary from an online game company. To date, this remains the best job I’ve ever had.

1990: Living with my parents, in Co-Op City, the Bronx, NYC. Finishing up college, part time, while working, also part time. This is around the time I’m discovering SF fandom and going to a lot of conventions.

1980: Living with my parents in Co-Op City. Just starting the Bronx High School of Science, playing lots of D&D in the lunchroom, discovering new comic books, and I think there were maybe some classes involved as well.

1970: Four years old. Living with my parents in Co-Op City, which is still being built – I can look out our living room window and see buildings slowly going up. We’ve recently moved here from Riverdale, the Bronx (though you’ll never get most Riverdalers to admit it), NYC.

1960: Not even conceived yet.

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Dreamed last night about discovering that a bunch of boardgames published in the 1970s had actually been designed in coordination with the CIA. The various look-up tables in the games were actually designed so that agents could use them to send coded messages. I woke up thinking “Oh, that’s what the Random Harlot Table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide was all about!” (Yeah, my brain leapt from boardgames to RPGs.) Remember, though: They’re only 30% likely to have useful information!

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I haven’t done this in a while:


  1. Tweetie, a Twitter client for Macs. I think there’s also an iOS version. The free version is supposedly ad-supported, but I haven’t paid and I’ve yet to see an ad.
  2. Visor still does the same stuff it did back in 2006 — hotkey-activated Terminal window that pops down from your menubar — but it’s got a new developer. Still free, too.
  3. F.lux is free software (for Mac, Windows, Linux) that shifts the color temperature of your monitor at night, to make it easier for you to get to sleep after a long evening spent staring into it.
  4. Quicksilver, which still does all the cool stuff it did back in that 2006 entry. I tried out the 30-day free trial of LaunchBar, and found it slightly more capable, but not enough so to justify spending money on it.
  5. DateLine displays a linear calendar on your screen (I’ve got it running across the bottom of mine), and has a menu for adding new events to iCal. It’s free, or you can spend less than $5 to register and get a few extra features.
  6. TextExpander is the commercial version of Textpander, the abbreviation-expanding program. I shelled out for it at some point in the last five years; maybe the old version wouldn’t work with Leopard?
  7. Notify is my current email notification program. Not only does it tell me if I’ve got unread mail in my gMail inbox, it also lets me read the mail, delete it, or mark it as read, all from the menu, saving me from having to load gMail into my browser more than half the time.
  8. WeatherDock shows me the weather in my menubar. Also in my Dock, which I hardly ever look at.
  9. Caffeine keeps my Mac from going to sleep. Click the icon and it fills with coffee, and the computer stays awake. Click it again, and it goes back to normal.
  10. Little Snitch checks for programs attempting to establish outgoing Internet connections, and lets me establish rules for allowing or disallowing them. I currently have it switched off.
  11. Standard MacOS X Bluetooth control.
  12. Standard MacOS X WiFi network strength indicator.
  13. Standard MacOS X battery/power indicator.
  14. Standard MacOS X keyboard and character menu.
  15. Standard MacOS X date & time display.
  16. Standard MacOS X Spotlight icon.
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Idea 1: Alignments as trust networks

Ben Robbins on D&D alignments, over on Story Games:

Detect Evil doesn’t make someone glow red. The paladin or cleric just says “trust me, that person is evil, kill them.” And why do you believe that guy? Because he’s lawful good? How do you know he’s lawful good? Because he says so, and he’s part of some well recognized religion which says “this is what’s right and wrong, we’re lawful good, trust us.”

(Note, a later commenter has pointed out that in Basic D&D, at least, the Detect Evil spell did cause things to glow. Too late, though; I’d already been inspired.)

Idea: Cyberpunk setting where society has degenerated into something feudal and strongly influenced by fantasy gaming, with sufficiently ubiquitous wireless networking that netrunners are very like wizards. Alignments are basically just mutually exclusive trusted-key networks, possibly affiliated with social organizations, like religions, bunds, corporations, or franchise nations.

Still missing: A reason for the various alignments to be exclusive. Because if they’re not, they’re not alignment-like, are they?

Idea 2: Memory-palace magic

Idea: Wizards need to set up memory palaces to do magic and memorize their various spells and arcane formulae. Players actually map out their memory palaces, noting which areas relate to which magical abilities. Magical combat consists of invading someone else’s memory palace, which involves using the map for tactical combat. (Possibly Diaspora-style social combat.) Assuming Fate rules, maneuvers can place Aspects on a zone in a memory palace, which can then be Compelled later on whenever the wizard tries to call upon that zone for a magical effect.

Could maybe be adapted for an Inception-like game?

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Friday night, I went to my first NerdNYC Board Game Night. (I’d previously been to one Recess, back when it was held in Brooklyn.) Got there about 20 min after things started; it was pretty full, not much table space, the well-lit tables occupied by people playing long games. I found a few people setting up a game of Condottiere (did pretty well, but didn’t win), and after we finished that we played Guillotine (kicked everyone’s butts), and then I chatted with [livejournal.com profile] matt_rah for a bit, then went home. Next time I’ll make an effort to get there early and grab a good spot.

Saturday night, [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana and I went out to see True Grit, the recent Coen brothers version. (Neither of us has seen the John Wayne version.) It’s got great dialog and great hats, just like you’d expect of a Coen bro’s movie.

Sunday we met up with Sumana (who I’d run into at a few geekish gatherings before, and wanted to get to know better) and her husband Leonard (who I’d never met before) for lunch. We chatted about books, comics, and insurance fraud, and stopped off at City Bakery for astonishing hot chocolate.

Monday looks like it may be as warm as 50°F, so I may actually leave the apartment for its own sake, rather than shopping or some other specific outside-oriented goal.

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A dice mechanic looking for a game:

Assume an RPG where you roll a die, or dice, of varying size to check for success. Like, the dice range from d4 to d12, and you’re looking to get a high number or sum. I think the Cortex system uses something like this — roll a few dice, keep the best two, add them.

So, what if there’s a mechanic that lets you, after you’ve rolled, take out one die and replace it with a re-rolled die one size smaller? Like, you’re rolling a d10, but it comes up crappy (you rolled like a 1 or a 2 or something), so you do a thing (invoke an Aspect, spend a Plot Point, whatever) and you get to yank that die and re-roll with a d8. Odds are pretty good you’ll beat a 2, but not as good as with a d10. This could represent some kind of desperation, a gamble against ever-worsening odds.

I dunno, though. It’s still missing something. I mean, if you’ve got any sense of probabilities, you know how to bet in that re-roll, right? The average roll on a d8 is 4.5, so it only really pays to re-roll that d10 if it comes out 3 or lower. Does this have any teeth to it?

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According to someone on RPG.net, Margaret Weis Productions is discontinuing their Battlestar Galactica and Serenity RPGs, and you can get the PDF versions massively discounted on DriveThruRPG.com, but only if you buy today. I see that the Serenity main rulebook, for example, is now $10 instead of $40. (Isn’t $40 kind of a lot for a PDF?) Anyway, I decided not to buy anything, but I figured other people might be interested:

Oh, wait, the BSG Quickstart Guide is free (usually $10). Might as well snag that….

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[livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana: “This sounds like the kind of thing [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll would point to and laugh at.”
Me: “Yes. Let me bring it to his attention.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series of eight vampire-fucker novels written by JR Ward, and published by an imprint of Penguin, in just two years (with the ninth due out in a few months). The characters have names like “Rhage”, “Zsadist”, “Vishous”, “Xhex”, and (my favorite) “Qhuinn”. The head vampire, Wrath, is blind, and led about by a seeing-eye dog. I have no idea whether the dog is also a vampire.

Via @Iron_Spike.

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Oh, man, y’know what’d be awesome? Fate-based Car Wars/Mad Max-style setting using Diaspora as a base. Some kind of simple point-based vehicle-building system (based on Diaspora’s ship-building rules), and a road combat mini-game.

Mini Six

Dec. 8th, 2010 02:09 am
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Anyone out there looking for some lightweight role-playing rules, but not up for all this newfangled indie hippy gaming stuff, might want to check out Mini Six, a stripped-down version of the Open D6 rules. (Open D6 itself is an open version of the rules behind the old West End Games Ghostbusters and Star Wars games.)

The Mini Six rules are downloadable for free as a 36-page PDF. Only about 20 pages of that is rules; the rest is five sample settings:

  • “Perdition”, Firefly with the serial numbers filed off
  • “Rust Moons of Castia”, a fantasy setting (probably based on some other setting that I don’t recognize)
  • “Farnsley’s Phantasm Investigations”, Victorian steampunk Ghostbusters
  • “Precint ’77”, a ’70s cop show
  • “Imperium in Revolt”, thinly-disguised Star Wars

Also, the downloads page has a link for another free PDF containing “The Door to Infinity”, a Doctor Who-like setting. And there’s a fan submissions page with a couple more free settings: an old-fashioned radio-style sci-fi setting, and a modern-day zombie game.

King Con 2

Nov. 7th, 2010 07:56 pm
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This weekend was King Con, the $10 comics convention that I can walk to! I caught the awesome Kyle Baker interview on Saturday, followed by the phallotacular Bored to Death panel with Dean Haspiel, Jonathan Ames, and Jeff Newelt. Today’s highlight was a short sample of Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, with Paigey Pumphrey posing. Here are my sketches of the last two poses:

Pagey lying on her side

Another one behind the cut.... )

There’s a sketch of Pumphrey in last year’s King Con writeup as well.

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The woman on the right reminds me a bit of [livejournal.com profile] sw_inku, even though it doesn’t really look like her. (It’s actually sorta based on a minor character from an episode of Children’s Hospital.)

some sketches

PS 9

Oct. 19th, 2010 12:10 am
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This building in Prospect Heights used to be a public school, PS 9. Now it’s a condo. Across the street is a building that looks like a prison, which is currently a public school.

Watercolor of PS 9

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Hustled on the stairs, like yesterday. Got half a flight farther — up to roof, down to lobby, back up to 2nd floor, then halfway up to the 3rd before I felt my legs thinking about cramping.

I’m wondering if maybe I’d be better off just going to the lobby, where there’s a small flight of four or five steps, and going up and down that a whole bunch of times.

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sky monster

If I’d been thinking ahead, I’d’ve made this guy red or orange, to stand out against the clouds.

But anyway, I dug out some of my old brushes. Using a stiff bristle brush to pick up paint solved about 80% of my problems with watercolors.

April 2017



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