Fabulous Fun Fictions for…playing

Kris here

With all my talk lately of building Dads ‘n Dragons(notTM) I’ve been reading up on a lot of board games and other tabletop RPG games out there. Both for inspiration or creative techniques around boring stuff, but also because it would, you know, really suck to spend a year making something that already exists. I’m primarily making it for me to play with my local group anyway. But if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing RIGHT dang it! Wait no I take it back oh no I’m my daaaaaad~~~

Right, so I’ve been reading up on all that stuff and I figured it would be a good opportunity for another round of “What weird crap is Kris thrusting onto us this week!” Dearest reader, I only want the best for myself, and for everyone who likes me. So I’ve rounded up a small list of games you can play with your families that I never heard of before playing it with my family (and friends). Non-video games of course, do you think I’m some uncouth heathen? Sheesh!

Dixit  – Dixit is a hilarious game in the right crowds and the art style is so danged cute. Tina and I have played this with grumpy old men, happy not old ladies, and grumpy AND happy young children, and they all think it’s fabulous. You choose a picture, make a tiny story up, and everyone else throws in a card they think matches the story. The non story-tellers then all guess which is the main card, and everyone gets points! The rules are quick and easy so I won’t deliberate too long here, but it’s really good practice for on-the-fly creativity.

Betrayal at House on the Hill  – Holy crap you guys. I’ve probably put a hundred hours into this game and if someone came over to my house right now with a group and asked to play, I would…send them away. I mean jeez I’m not even dressed, it’s practically bedtime. But if someone called and asked if I’d like to play in ten minutes, HELL YEAH I’d zip out like a fly on picnic day. The game is essentially exploring a creepy old mansion for a while until Watson rolls 6 blank dice and starts the haunt. And then Tina wins the haunt. But the process of losing is just so fantastic!

Arkham Horror – I’ll be honest, I freaking love this game, but I play it far less than Betrayal at House on the Hill. The reason being just because it’s quite a bit longer of a game, and it’s a BIT rules intensive to explain sometimes. Also, it’s really only amazing with 4 or more people and our on-hand number of board game players is 3. But seriously it only takes like 90 to 120 minutes most of the time and it’s AMAZING. Not many other board games end my turn just because I’m scared of the scary tongue god. (http://www.arkhamhorrorwiki.com/God_of_the_Bloody_Tongue)

Love Letter  – Alright, that’s probably good with the board games already. Let’s turn to card games! Love Letter is about getting your love letter to the princess. You draw a single card each turn, and whoever has the highest card at the end is the winner! Except there are also things each card does, like the guards will let Tina actually guess the exact card you have in your hand right now it doesn’t matter what turn it is. Yeah you. You’re out. Sorry. Don’t get attached to winning if you’re playing against my wife not that I’m bitter or anything. We don’t actually have Love Letter anymore, but we do have Love Letter Batman. It’s identical, except the princess is the Joker and Robin can protect you against anyone, anywhere.

Munchkin – Munchkin is technically not a board game, because there’s no board! Though we did technically make one, it’s paper and I’m not including that. Most people have probably seen or even played Munchkin, but since it’s Nik’s favorite game to play with us, I figured I’d go ahead and include it in the list. You draw cards to your hand with things like “The Kneepads of Allure” or “The Boots of Butt Kicking” that you can equip to yourself with different bonuses, or curses, and you kick down imaginary doors to a dungeon and fight monsters. Some monsters are nice. The potted plant at level 1 won’t even hurt you, that’s how nice it is. It’s a silly game you can play with basically anyone who can read, and it generally takes about an hour to finish.

We have an animal cage literally brimming with board- and card games, but these are the 5 I find myself playing most often. For better or for worse. Let me know if you guys have any suggestions of your own, we’ll be happy to check ’em out!

Unless you say Settlers of Catan. If you say Settlers of Catan we can’t be friends anymore.

Dang it Kris!

Tina here.

Whatever Kris let in to this house got me bit bad. Metaphorically speaking of course. He has chatted my ear off about his rpg and his back and forth on setup and how it works. Last night he gave me a break and picked up a YouTube video by a guy documenting his progress in making his own rpg. Well damn if I didn’t make him pause and start over after fetching my notebook cause I had an idea.

That’s right. I am also making an rpg. However mine is aimed at nerdy families with younger kids. So if your friends are to busy trying out that new beer place in downtown Austin, you can just rope your family into game night in the guise of family time.

Really I know so many parents who are gamers and would love to play something like the established rpgs with their kiddos but the setup and explanations seem a bit daunting to explain to someone who you just finished explaining why you HAVE to wash your hands after you poop.

Now not to get you all hyped but I am excited and after I make a working model I will need a cast of various kinds of kids to be sacrificed to my little game. I promise to return them eventually. So yeah be on the look out for that and if Kris hunts you down to talk about magic vs physical fights, take a deep breath and enjoy the math and science he is about to throw at your face.

Troubled waters

Tina here!

Back with some more life happenings. Recently we have been running into issues with our youngest and his behavior at school. This has caused me to have extreme anxiety and worry about things that shouldn’t matter to me. Such as what the school thinks of me and my parenting, what other parents think, and what they expect me to do. Because at this point I am lost.

I expected him to have a fabulous time in school. To make tons of friends, maybe some problems with trying to talk too much but overall to enjoy the learning experience. He loves to learn new facts and information, he loves talking to anyone and everyone. This is the child who would seek out the grumpiest looking person and y’all to them till they smiled for him.

What I wasn’t expecting was randomly walking/running out of class and trying to escape the school. Kicking his fellow student over things such as them laughing at him or as children tend to do, ignore each other by repeatedly saying the same word over and over again. He has been destructive to other people’s belongings, stealing from his teacher for rewards he feels like he should have had. He was dangerous to other students and was suspended from school for a day.

What is going on? When I was asked to come in and pick him up I saw some child that was definitely not my sweet boy. I was worried he took something he shouldn’t have and was reacting to it violently. We will be starting Threopy this Friday not just for him but for Kris and I to understand how to best help him and work on these things together.

As Kris so wisely said to me,”Remember, this is not us vs him, but Mom, Dad, and Nik vs these problems. We are a team and will work them out as a team.”

What problems have your team helped you defeat?

Short story Saturday but shorter, more Nik’ier

Hi everyone – Kris here

This week I wrote a silly story for Nik to read on our trip to Oklahoma City. But then I also forgot to have him read it. So instead I’ll just paste it here and hopefully he’ll have already read it by now! The story is simple and meant to be read by a hyperactive 6 year old. If you have one of those, see if they can read along!

Tick-Tock’s Great Adventure!

__________________________________

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The clock on the wall was very loud. Tick Tock the kid sat on his chair wondering how to get the clock.

“I know!’ He had a great idea. He could use TNT! Old Bob kept some under his desk.

Tick Tock opened the door to his playpen very sneakily, using a screwdriver he had disguised with a mustache. He opened the door to the hallway.

SQUEAK! The door was crazy loud!

Tick Tock dove under a table and froze in place, to make sure nobody had spotted him.

He covered himself with a blanket so he could hide on the go. Looking both ways, he saw the coast was clear and snuck away. He tiptoed down the hallway as fast as a tiger. No! As fast as a dragon!

He flew down the hallway like a dragon, using the blanket for wings. Vrooooom!

OH NO! A grown up! Tick Tock dashed out of sight into the laundry room. No one would suspect a blanket in the laundry room of sneaking about. The old people walked by and noticed the blanket on the floor.

“Say, why is this blanket on the floor?” One of them asked.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, someone will pick it up” the other replied.

Whew! His cover had almost been blown. Tick Tock snuck into Old Bob’s room like a ninja. Like a moving shadow! “Let’s see,” he said. “One stick should be enough, but I better grab extra in case I need it.” Tick Tock packed up ten sticks of TNT and ran back to his room as fast as lightning. Success!

He stuck the TNT into his pocket and climbed up a chair. Then he stacked another chair on top of that chair and climbed it too. Finally he was face to face with the enormous clock. “Okay, now I just have to put the TNT into the tube and it will blast the clock onto my bed.” Tick Tock checked his pockets.

“Oh no, I have nothing to light the fuse!” He sat in his chair to think.

“Maggie has a flamethrower in the kitchen, that would be perfect!”

Tick Tock ran off to another big adventure!

Spring breaktimes

Kris here!

I was going to write a blog post with a picture for one of my short stories, but I didn’t get that all the way done yet. I also haven’t completed the other short story I was writing but that should be for Saturday anyway. The reason I haven’t finished those is because of visiting children for the week, so let’s talk about them instead!

Children are terrible great. So much youth and vibrance, vitality and. Uh, attitude. Sheesh!

I kid of course, just as they are. We’ve been having a great time what with my being at work the entire duration of their stay, and them being jerks angels and drinking all my juice. I’ve been considering spiking it with nyquil but I think that would make them stronger. I also perfected my macaroni and cheese consistency and I consider that a week well spent.

We’ve got a couple of card and video games under our belts so far. Now that I’ll be finished working for the week, I was preparing to have them clean out the entire garage. I think this week is going to turn out really swell after all! And now, I’ll magically take some photos and add them to the post even though I’m nowhere near them for several hours:

In which Kris reads children’s books

Kris here,

It’s been a while since I talked about something I liked reading instead of rambling on about writing every week. I figured this week I’d talk about The Ranger’s Apprentice. This is actually a pretty recent series as far as stuff I’ve read goes – I read it a few years ago, but it was just published less than 20 years ago! Okay it’s not that new, but a lot of the books I like to revisit frequently were all written in the 70’s, 80’s and..well the 1800’s. I’m into older stories you could say.

The Ranger’s Apprentice I believe has a target demographic of something like 9-14 year olds, so I actually just read the first book to make sure it was alright for my then 6 year old and whether I could keep it around to read Nik at bedtime. Five or six books into the series and I’m thinkin’ “wow this is pretty good” – as evidenced by the fact that it took me about 3 days to read each book. The writing is surprisingly easy to digest for something written for such a young age; to be fair, when I was 10 I read Animorphs, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe and Dragonlance. So I guess kids aren’t as bad at reading as all that.

I don’t want to spoil the actual story here, they’re relatively short and easy to pick up, but it’s essentially a coming-of-age tale of a young orphan named Will who got picked up as a …Ranger’s Apprentice. And he’s all like “pfsh no way!” and then later he’s like “This is amazing!” Honestly the main character is relatively likeable, but is by far one of my least favorite characters. I don’t hate the guy, I just like all the others better. Especially Halt, which is the “Ranger” part of the series title. He’s a rough guy who knows how and when to help, and he fills in my need to have a badass dude who can stand up to the evil guys while the smaller good guys are still doing jumping jacks or whatever so they don’t get stomped.

The series romps through a few topics I wasn’t really expecting to see – befriending bullies, beating drug addiction and killing a guy with a longbow arrow through the face, but were written in a way that I’m definitely adding them to the stuff-to-read-Nik list. Check out the first book if you have a few days to read a fun story, I can honestly say my copies are chopped up between physical books and e-books (self-control, what?!) so it’s available in whatever form you need.

Also the wiki says Mr Flanagan originally wrote the story as a way to get his own child into reading – I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I’m 110% down with that.

(the first book is here)

ruins_of_gorlan
Source: Link

Tina chiming in here,

According to my research, The books have been slated to become a movie and started production in fall of 2016. I have not heard anything new but here is the New York Times article with more information if you want! (Link)

When Kris wants to write.

Hey ya’ll, Tina here kinda. Kris didn’t get time to edit or refine his post this week because of the madness of his first born child starting Kindergarten and all the craziness that happens with that. So, I am here to copy paste what he sent to me and leave it in it’s raw weird format for you all to enjoy. A little peek behind the curtains if you will. He wrote this story as a warmup before diving into writing on his main project. So without further ado. The children’s story of the Tiny Cute Puppy.

(Kris here – I changed a few words here and there, but I didn’t edit too much since I think Tina did a great job separating the word soup I’d sent her in the first place. Hopefully this story makes you giggle as much as I did writing it!)

One day there was a cute tiny puppy dog. But this dog had a secret. He was actually very, very big! He just told everyone he was tiny to make them feel big too and so everyone would think he were adorable. After all, tiny animals are adorable.

Then one day he met a grumpy frog. The frog was like “hey! You’re not tiny!”

The Cute, tiny puppy dog was taken aback. No one had seen through his ruse before, but he didn’t want the frog to give him away.

“What do you mean?” Asked the tiny cute puppy, “I’m obviously adorable, everyone says so. You don’t have to be mean to me because I’m adorable, you could just pet my ears. Or scratch my belly!” The puppy rolled over onto his back, his tongue lolling out to one side and his legs fervently pawing the air, this was a classic act. No one could resist!

“Oy! I’m not about to say you aren’t an adorable puppy after all ‘at rollin’ about young one, but you’re the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. I think you’re the biggest animal I’ve ever seen. I bet you could arm wrestle an elephant and come out on top.”

The frog was definitely weakened by the adorb-attack executed perfectly by the puppy, but it was too wise to be goaded by his cute words. “Tell ye’ wot  wee tyke,” continued the frog, “you tell everyone around town the real truth about your size and I’ll bet they’ll all rub yer’ belly without even thinkin’ twice about it.”

The frog gave the tiny cute puppy a pat on his upside down head and hippity hopped off to scratch some sick beats at the local dubstep club. This really vexed the poor puppy.

“But if I tell everyone the truth…will they really like me?” His curiosity was piqued, he had to know.

The tiny cute puppy bounded toward the house of his best friend Smooth Jazz Pincushion. This was of course his stage name, for Smooth Jazz was a saxophone player on Thursdays when the dubstep club was donated to aspiring jazz musicians as a romping ground to get together. Cute tiny puppy rocked the seismometers all over town as he leapt to a stop just outside Smooth Jazz’s hole.

“Hey Pincushion, are you home!” Tiny cute puppy waited and waited, he knew he had to have patience when visiting Smooth Jazz in case he was in the middle of a set.

He was dedicated to his craft and would keep playing until he perfected the song he was working on. Thankfully, Cute Tiny Puppy only had to wait about an hour before Jazz waddled out of his hole. Tiny Cute Puppy came here because he thought if anyone could identify an adorable puppy, it would be an adorable hedgehog.

“Hey Pincushion, whatchya workin’ on today?” Puppy knew to be polite if he wanted his friends to feel important. And he wanted Pincushion to feel important so he would be sure to give him an answer right away.

“Well today’s piece was a little number I picked up from an old bloke from back in the day. Very popular, very popular, you probably have a shelf dedicated to him at home even. Goes by the name of Ol’ Satchmo. My dear fellow what brings you to my home today.”

Tiny cute puppy was puzzled momentarily thinking about his record shelves, but came back to himself quickly.

“Hey Pincushion, I heard ’round about the pond that I would actually still be adorable if I were really big. Do you think I’d be a cute puppy if I were big?”

Knocking over  several municipal buildings in the process, Tiny cute puppy let his body crash to the earth, sending plumes of dust into the air with a shockwave.

“Hmm, well that’s an awfully good question cute, tiny puppy. I couldn’t imagine you big since you’re so snuggly and cuddly as a tiny puppy, but let’s have a look at you anyway.” Smooth Jazz disappeared inside his hole for a few seconds and reappeared wearing some reading specs. He backed up several city blocks waving his thumb in front of him and looking at Cute Tiny Puppy making all kinds of hmms and umms. Finally, he came back to puppy with his answer.

“Cute Tiny Puppy, I do believe I’ve accidentally discovered that you’re really huge. Like freakishly gigantic. Irresponsible for you to live in the city at that size even. I’m not sure how we missed it, quite an amusing oversight if you ask me. We’ll have to change your name!”

Tiny Cute Puppy was sad, he liked his name. “Aww really, what would you suggest?” Asked tiny cute puppy.

“I have just the thing don’t you worry.” Pincushion disappeared once more into his hedgehog hole to retrieve something.

This time puppy could hear the odd sound of a huge bellows being activated just as a giant blaze shot out of Smooth Jazz’s rooftop. Following were the echoing clangs of a hammer ringing throughout the tunnels, sounding like it came from everywhere at once. Finally, puppy heard the loudest sizzling sound he’d ever heard in his life. After several more minutes of beeping and mechanical grinding, Pincushion appeared in a great big excavator, tirelessly moving dirt to make the entranceway to his tunnel at least 3 times bigger than it had been moments ago.

Cautiously, the puppy asked “Hey Smooth Jazz, what’s the machinery for? I thought you were just picking out a name.”

Pincushion responded briefly before disappearing once more into the cave. “Oh puppy, sorry for the wait, I got distracted on the way to my library. I forgot I’d made a forge in this place a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to try it out. I even had some sheet metal on the floor so I used it to make a splendid new nametag for you. Here try it out!”

Pincushion came back out with a nametag so big, he had to tie a team of horses to it just to get it out the front door.

“Thanks guys,” he waved the team of equestrians back across the street to their own homes.

With that, Cute Tiny Puppy laid on the ground so Smooth Jazz could fix the nametag to his collar. When he rose back up, he could see his new name.

“Gigantor Adorable Labrador? That’s a great name!” Shouted formerly Cute Tiny puppy.

“That it is my fine friend. That. It. Is.”

 

The End