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29 December 2014 @ 09:22 pm
So I just read the most recently published (this year, I think) book in a series that was apparently started forty+ years ago, and then proceeded to reread the chronologically later but written forty+ years ago books that followed it. It's sort of surreal to see how the writing has changed -- not that the older books are bad, but the author is so much better now. There were definitely moments when I was telling the characters "You were so much smarter when you were eight years old!".

It's also fascinating to see how she maintained the continuity. I don't think she ever explicitly contradicted herself -- the political focus and the magic style* didn't quite line up, and some of the characters seemed to be lacking knowledge one might have expected them to have acquired (either during the new book, or during the fifteen years between), but the straight out facts weren't noticeably different. There were even some incidents that had been referred to in flashback in the old books that occurred in the new book.

I wonder a bit what she would do if she were to rewrite/edit the old books now -- whether the politics would change. Presumably some parts of the style would (the old books seem to rely a bit more on snappy banter for dialogue).

. . . I'd been going to also ramble about ebook discovery, but I think I've been staring at this bit of internet long enough, so that can be its own post (or not, depending whether I get to it).

*Doing all magic via the recitation of poetry has been deprecated in the new book
09 July 2013 @ 03:22 pm

  • A piece of paper with a list of schools and their characteristics, in Madison's handwriting.
  • A partial character sheet for Roall sen Iallar, who is "a slightly elvish nomad" and "easily bored in class", also in Madison's handwriting. This at least makes sense, since he's her character.
  • A doll-sized tome constructed out of folded paper and a staple, written in pencil (probably by me circa elementary school, but it's hard to be sure), entitled Murder Stories, which I shall reproduce in its entirety:

    I. Mr. Zazizaz who was called Mr. Z. loved dead bodies. He ate them for lunch and dinner. One day, while chewing on an arm .....,

    II. Mr. Z dropped dead. A nurse, Mrs. Allegologpillipatteramara
    [illegible. Possibly "ran over", or perhaps just more of that impressively long name], she saw this . . . .

    [an illustration which sort of looks like a crocodile whose tail turns into human feet]

    all the bodies had turned into a monster.

    III. The monster was killed and everybody was happy. THE END

    price - 11 c. in Canada 13 c.

30 April 2013 @ 05:04 pm
(Because clearly I should continue using this space to tell stories about my D&D game.)

In the style of my gaming advice posts, although this is an anecdote rather than a request for advice, let me introduce you to the characters:

  • Ath, human paladin/rogue.
  • Chou, dwarf fighter.
  • Emgeri, human ranger/fighter.
  • Perk, gnome/halfling cleric/bard.
  • Rino, half-elf scout (and Emgeri's uncle).

We take turns running the game (Rino's player is our current GM), and we try to play with subjective morality as much as possible -- so Detect Evil really turns out more like Detect Smitability (this does mean that the GM needs to have a fairly good idea of what everybody's gods think about stuff, so as to return the correct opinions). So when Chou's player joined the game and said she wanted to play an evil character, we said, "Sure, but be aware that the paladin has to try to reform you once he finds out, and we probably need to talk outside of game to keep things in balance."

So, Chou. We met him at the home of one of Rino's friends, and he started traveling with us once his spiritual mentor abandoned him to finish his pilgrimage alone, with only a highly inaccurate map for guidance. He seemed a fairly standard grumpy and taciturn dwarf at first, except that he wore a cabbage on his head as a sign of his devotion to the Cabbage Lord (a god none of the rest of us had previously heard of). He was the chosen Migrator, which meant that he needed to go to the Cabbage Temple at the Elvish Ends of the Earth and plant cabbage seeds. We didn't really know where that was, and neither did he (beyond the inaccurate map from his spiritual mentor), but Rino thought his father would know, so Chou tagged along when we went to see Rino's father.

Of course, there were warning signs. Out of character I'd decided to try to avoid hitting Chou with Detect Evil (because who detects evil at random people they meet unless they're expecting to be attacked or something?) for as long as possible, hopefully until there was some sort of party bond* to inform my reaction to the information. But there were non-magically-assisted signs. In a conversation about a recent civil war, Chou said it was "good business," and rephrased as "bloody business" when questioned. But we could pass that off as a translation error -- it wasn't his first language, or Ath's, and you don't go around assuming people like civil wars. Then there was the time he attacked a sphinx Perk was trying to talk to "because it was ugly". That got him a yelling lecture from Ath, because who does that?, but he seemed willing to mend his ways.

And then we got to Rino's father's village, and Emgeri and Rino and Rino's father (= Emgeri's grandfather) had some awkward family conflict time, and the rest of us tried to figure out what was going on with the main plot, and then that night we were attacked by mummies. (This was perhaps a bit a result of an out of character discussion of ways to try to get Chou to be more a part of the group. Things we came up with involved putting him in a position where he needed our help, or in a position where we would all be working to the same goal, e.g. winning the fight.)

It seemed like this had the desired result -- we defeated the mummies, but Chou acquired some kind of mummy disease/curse and we all banded together to try to do something to fix it. Ath even detected evil to try to figure out what was up with the curse, and assumed the result was the curse. And we were all going to race off to the Cabbage temple in the morning, because Chou said his reward for completing the Migration would cure him.

Well. That didn't happen. Because when Chou went to ask Rino's father for directions, he decided the man was untrustworthy -- so clearly violence was the only way of getting the truth. And the relatives clearly weren't going to be okay with this, whatever their personal feelings about the man. And Ath is severely not okay with torture because of consequences of past adventures.

So after a lot of awesome in character conflict and arguments, we've headed our separate ways. Chou's been abandoned to Eeelvish justice, and/or the mummy curse. Ath and Emgeri and presumably Perk (she wasn't here last week) are heading off to follow the main plot, if only because Ath said he was doing so and Emgeri wouldn't leave him (despite calling him an idiot). We look forward to meeting the replacement/temporary character, "calm, rational, nice mercenary".

And we'll see what happens with the cabbage seeds.

*This might have worked better if we hadn't introduced Chou right before a long bit of mostly elided traveling, where presumably everyone was getting to know him in-character, but we didn't actually see it.
Update on that in-game rescue mission in Orkinya: Rino and Ath decided to sneak back into the country carrying a scroll of teleport (enchanted so that it doesn't look magic), hoping to overhear or otherwise stumble upon information leading them to Emgeri and Perk.

. . . What? It's really hard to come up with a viable plan for acquiring information when a) talking to people and b) using magic are both off the table.

As could be expected, even if it had been that easy, we managed to make it harder for ourselves anyway, and have now split the party into four pieces. The only people still together are Rino and the dog. Current statuses:

Ath: In an Orkinyan work-gang, eating lunch, and claiming that he had been in a different work-gang, ran off, thought better of it, and then hadn't dared go back directly. (In hindsight, asking Rino exactly what went wrong and then avoiding the location it happened in might have been a good idea.)

It's totally part of the plan, right?

The bit where his new buddy* Truthfulness implied that everyone else on the work-gang will get in trouble if (when) he runs off isn't going to stop him when the time comes, but it will make him feel bad about it.

Emgeri: Presumably in another work-gang somewhere else. We haven't seen him since we scried for him before going back into Orkinya.

Perk: In Orkinyan elementary school. Learning all about prayers (yes, she is our cleric and totally knows about prayers already) and how plants grow if you water them. Has acquired a serious reputation for overnight mischief, what with having tried to burn down her bedroom in an attempt to escape.

Rino: Hiding out outside a town waiting for Ath to get back from attempting to make contact with the people in the work-gang. May possibly have gotten noticed when eavesdropping yesterday and decided the correct action to take was throwing another thunderstone and running for it . . .

Sombra: Hiding out with Rino.

*That is, the guy who introduced himself at lunch. He appears to be from the same part of the world as Ath, and also seems pretty fervently Orkinyan. But he didn't say anything about the rosemary in the breakfast porridge.
18 January 2013 @ 06:10 pm
I could post about how job-hunting is terrifying, and so is trying to make sure I have/will have done everything needed to graduate by the appropriate deadlines, or about how I have forty students in my class and the next largest section only has 30, but instead I'm going to pretend like life is all frivolity and happy butterflies and ask for advice about D&D.

So, through a series of less-questionable decisions than last time (at least the ones I was responsible for), half of the party seems to have found itself in a situation where it needs to rescue the other half and maybe some NPCs from mostly unknown conditions in the middle of a pretty much unfriendly country.

The rescuers: Ath, human rogue 1/paladin 4, and Rino, half-elf scout 5(? If he's multi-classed I don't know about it). Known collectively as "Team 7 strength". Also Sombra, Emgeri's greyhound animal companion.

The rescuees: Emgeri, human fighter 1/ranger 4; Perk, over-excited tiny person cleric/bard 5 (I don't know what the proportions are); Henry, human NPC performer previously seen as my nano protagonist; and Rusty, human NPC somehow associated to Perk and Henry's band of travelling minstrels.

They're listed about in the order we care about getting them out of there -- we don't want to leave anyone behind, but we barely know the NPCs at all, so we're not about to get killed saving them from a fate that's better than death.

The situation: On our way to the Elven Ends of the Earth, we were forced* to travel through Orkinya, aka No-Magic Land. It seems to be a theocracy of sorts, as uncooperatively monotheistic as it's possible to be in D&D ("all the other gods are evil"), big on avoiding sin (and it seems sin = just about everything), and any magic that's not from their god is EVIL. (And only certain people are allowed to do their god-magic.) And they don't travel much at all, so any strangers will stick out like crazy.

They somehow detect any use of magic in their territory, and send out elite squads to arrest the people responsible. And maybe innocent bystanders as well. We're still not entirely sure what happened when they captured us. (Out of character, we know it's because Rino's thunderstone, while nonmagical, sounded a lot like magic.)

So we were captured, and thrown into a dungeon. Oddly, they didn't take any of our stuff. Ath concluded that they must've wanted us to escape, but he didn't see what else we could do . . .

So we escaped. Only the party got very separated while doing so, and Emgeri never showed up at the rendezvous outside the city. We can only assume he got recaptured . . .

Perk showed up at the rendezvous with Henry and Rusty by sheer coincidence, since she didn't know about it, but she showed up trailing Orkinyan guards who recaptured Henry and Rusty, and she decided to go back after them without telling anyone . . .

The resources: Three or more people who escaped Orkinyan prison by pretending to convert to the Orkinyan religion, who are happy to tell us everything they know. Any reasonably available non-magic items (we're at a town outside the border and could purchase things), or magic items although they'd probably just get us in trouble. The random stuff we're carrying.

Ath's plans tend to involve lots of lying. He just can't figure out what lie to use. Rino's tend to involve explosions.

. . . Anyone have any brilliant ideas?

*To be fair, we could have taken a boat, but Emgeri gets seasick, and we could've gone north, but that would've been perilously close to a town Ath was banished from . . .
08 November 2012 @ 05:47 pm
. . . Let me explain.

Firstly, my siblings decided that I haven't been approaching NaNoWriMo in the correct spirit of spontaneity. So they decreed that we should all contribute daily prompts, taking turns, that we would each need to incorporate into our stories.

Then my mother got involved. At which point it was decided that we would be writing about randomly assigned protagonists, and receive (again, randomly assigned) supporting characters in the mail throughout November. Also that we would have to observe certain standards of secrecy so as not to influence each other's creations.

3rdragon got roped in as well, and we are discovering how much harder it is to plot things when you can't discuss them.

But anyway. Presumably my mother will want to read the stories at the end of the month, since she seems to be refereeing this game. And now possibly 3rdragon's mother will as well, for the purposes of observing properties of my protagonist . . .
23 October 2012 @ 07:14 pm
I had a dream yesterday morning which involved evacuating the entire continent of North America by walking through a tunnel from California to Chile, and then through another tunnel to London. I don't think the reason for the evacuation was even clear in the dream. But one minute we were standing around talking about job stuff, and then we were heading down into the tunnel.

(Every reason I've come up with for evacuating the continent wouldn't really be solved by doing it through a pedestrian tunnel. Unless it was just a plot to lower population by then collapsing it on everyone.)

astaraelweeper is playing fun games, and I want to play too. Therefore!
- Take five books off your bookshelf.
- Write the first sentence
- Write the last sentence on page fifty
- Write the second sentence on page one hundred
- Write the next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
- Write the final sentence of the book
- Let your friends guess what book it is.

Here are sentences, alphabetical by author.Collapse )
06 July 2012 @ 11:09 am
Despite all my brilliant plans, I still didn't write commentary as I went, so . . . more short bits of babble and what I remember. Things which are not plot facts are of course subjective, and even plot facts may be misremembered, since I don't have the books in front of me. (This list does cut off a month after the last, even though I'm late about posting it.)

Month TwoCollapse )
27 June 2012 @ 12:32 pm
I have been playing far too much Battle for Wesnoth lately. I'm tempted to start writing my own scenarios, but do I really have any idea how to balance difficulty? No, I do not. (But the two-player campaign, which tells the tale of the forbidden love between an elf ninja (er, sorceress) and an orcish ninja (er, assassin)! Or the revisionist history in which you learn Queen Asheviere's not as evil as she looks! It's just the circumstances*!)

My Camp Nano novel has been rather diverted from the story I was actually intending to write (an adventure story about mind control devices posing as party toys) into revisions for New Trenham story one -- I'm still producing words, so I'm counting them, but it's not the story I expected. (Also, the revisions are rather more in depth than I expected, as in multiple full scene rewrites.)

The second month of what I've been reading will show up eventually.

*There are a lot of circumstances to play with, as revealed in Delfador's Memoirs, although designing the final mission so that the objective is for Asheviere to get killed would be all sorts of interesting (but we know it happens in Heir to the Throne, and there's a limit to how far this revisionist stuff should go. Motives, yes. Actual things that happen in-scenario, harder).
27 May 2012 @ 02:47 pm
I'm going to post this now, even though commentary on the books in question is incoherent to nonexistent in many cases, because I'm only going to fall further behind on writing commentary (and really, the commentary thing would be much easier if I wrote it just after reading the books, rather than waiting until I've forgotten everything I meant to say and have a long list to deal with).

In case you didn't know, I read a lot. I've often thought of making a list of what I read during the year, to find out exactly how many books I end up reading, but I usually forget to keep track sometime in January.

This is a list of what I read in the month after my birthday, minus internet sites, math papers, the first fifty pages of Les Misérables, and assorted short things I may have forgotten. In a world where I did a better job of saying useful things on the internet, there'd be some sort of commentary about all of the books, but this time I've only talked about some of them. If you're really paranoid about spoilers, skip the commentary, but I think I've been sufficiently vague.

Month OneCollapse )