Kris definitely not going stir crazy

Kris here

Tina’s been in OKC for a couple of days visiting everyone so I’ve been down here with a lot of time on my hands. Awesome right? I can do all kinds of VIDEO GAMES WOOOO. I totally did too, I played the Witcher 3 finally, and colony survival and I got some Tales of Berseria in. These are fabulous games, you guys should check ’em out. Do you know what else they are?

That’s right, they’re roleplaying games. Okay Colony Survival is technically not a roleplaying game but it kind of fits so let’s play pretend for a minute.

These are all pretty fun, but I’ve noticed a huge downturn in my desire to actually play any kind of electronic games for quite some time. A BIG downturn. Like I didn’t turn my computer on except to write the blog from February to May. I wasn’t doing anything better though, I’m not some born-again workaholic or anything silly like that. I’ve been turned off recently by the odd boundaries game developers seem to be implementing when they clearly have the technical capabilities to do something I think would be simply amazing – or they can’t actually push that boundary because of the technical limitations. So instead, I’ve been working on Dads ‘n’ Dragons. I’m sure a few of you have heard about it , especially since about all of my recent posts have been about nothing else.

So I’m hanging out by myself in a sweltering Texas summer (air conditioning is expensive yo) just writing up some cool ideas I have to stow away, or use in the finished product, when I run across a question in my mind. Has another game done this? Am I copying someone? Is there a better way of calculating this number without forcing it on the players? A quick google search and two weeks later and I haven’t even touched my own game since like day 2. There are a pantsload of tabletop games being published every single day, and they’re pretty good! I didn’t give up on my own of course, that would be silly. But I’ve found myself wandering a repetitive cycle of the last week or so essentially doing yardwork, housework, and gamework. And games.

Okay, I did spend a few hours just gaming while listening to game developer podcasts, but that’s fine and I forgave myself. These guys repeat a lot of talking points I’ve learned over the last few months, I actually really like the format they work through and listening to someone from an industry repeat the things you’ve learned through reading is awesome. Like “Yes! It wasn’t a waste of my life! In your face Reddit!”

We’ll be visiting with Zack for a few weeks once Tina gets back from OKC, so I thought I’d see about a few tabletop games we could use to hang out with the children too, since I have all this free time on my hands. (Literally reading, writing or cleaning.) “But Kris what if the kids won’t because it’s not electronic?” I hear you readers, don’t even worry. I have a plan. I’m gonna make Tina play instead and then the partypoopin’ munchkins can just go to bed at like 7 or something so we have time. It’s foolproof I know.

I’ve run across quite a few I think would be good to learn, but I narrowed it down to three for the sake of time. Pokemon Tabletop United because children and also Pokemon. Mutants and Masterminds because my wife has convinced everyone that they like superheroes. Lastly, Call of Cthulhu. Okay the last one isn’t necessarily children themed, but I mean. They’re old enough to learn about our lord and savior Cthulhu. That, or I can convince the rest of the regular Pathfinder group to try it out; honestly most of the local group is more into the roleplay and less about the hack and slash of the game in the first place, which this game is amazing for. Which is fine, but also sad, since I myself am way interested in finding cool combinations to work together and murderhobo an entire universe worth of monsters.

Allow me to summarize each game briefly, so I don’t send everyone on a wild goose chase trying to figure out what these words mean.

The Pokemon tabletop game is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a Pokemon game, played on top of a table. It actually took me a little while to figure out some of the finer details of even just creating a character or building the teams since there’s quite a bit of involvement, but it’s a lot of fun. Imagine playing a pokemon game where you could have a team of like 2000 just waging war against a neighboring nation. Okay don’t imagine that, Pokemon are not instruments of war you tortured, angry souls. As long as you can put in a bit of effort to do some reading and watch a few youtube videos, this game has a pretty solid foundation – and if you find something broken, you’re welcome to fix it, because it’s your imagination!

The Mutants and Masterminds game is actually one I wasn’t super interested in at first. I’m not a fan of superheroes or their universes for the most part. I got to listening to some gamers on YouTube play through a few sessions of their own game and it was a lot more interesting than I figured it would be. I think the context of a dystopian future or a distant past mixed with the ramifications of being a super person in their own time can actually make for a pretty interesting story. I mean sure, you could rip everyone opposed to you in half, but that has consequences. Saving damsels in distress will make the bad-guys angry and attack more innocents. Helping the bad guys will make innocents angry and everyone will hate you! Dang that Captain Castor Oil is such a rascal!

Lastly, Call of Cthulhu is basically the polar opposite of the M&M game mentioned previously. Where you’re playing super powered heroes in that game, in THIS game you’re playing their mild-mannered alter egos trying to solve a case. Except you don’t have the super bit and you’re detective-working a case that will pit you up against world-ending monsters who can’t be comprehended with mortal minds. The game is a lot more focused on the “role” aspect and is pretty fun to listen to and design for. Ideally, you’re playing with people who like gritty worlds full of despair and horror, but I’m willing to bet I can come up with some lightweight games that even a twelve year old could play. Heck, maybe even Tina could play!

Short Story Saturday the June’th

Kris here,

Komona is the final, unintroduced character played by our lovely roommate Watson. She’s a lady of …..quality, and, mystery.

_____

 

Komona’s bleary eyes opened hesitantly against the bright sunlight. She draped the comforter back over her head and stretched warmly in the darkness, soaking in the silence.

Her client was supposed to have woken her up before he left for the day, but she couldn’t hear any sign of him from her perch.

Hmm.

She rose and dressed, using the full length mirror against the wall to fix her mussed hair. It’s not like she were late for anything, but it would be nice to get out of here before the streets filled with people. Sighing, she crossed the room to her shoes and, after some last minute glancing down the halls, took the nicer pair hanging by the dresser and replaced them with her own. If someone noticed, she’d have to give them back. If no one noticed, she had a new pair of shoes. No harm in trying!

“Oh yes. OH YES.” They felt like wearing a masseuse made of clouds to rub your feet after every step. Time to make herself  scarce.

Komona floated through the hallway and down the stairs, moving through the house like a whisper. No sound from the front or the back. She strained her ears, listening for sounds of life. As she approached the kitchen, she heard a muffled banging from below.

What was that?

She entered the bright kitchen warily, cautiously stalking over to where she’d last heard the noise. Something felt…off. Where was the noise from the streets? The housekeepers?  Finally getting a good look outside, she was shocked to see it was already mid-afternoon. How long had she slept! Had her client found the sleeping poison she hid and used it on her?

She yanked the small knife holding her hair in place and checked the secret chamber. It looked full?

Yes, something was amiss.

CRACK

She leapt over the island behind her as the wall under the marble counters slammed itself almost in half.

“Who’s there?!”

She grabbed a heavy knife from the block on the island and came back around to investigate. What in the-

CRACK

Komona stared into a pair of lifeless eyes, frozen by fear. The maid’s pallid face pierced her with a hungry stare, lacerations and gouges covering the rest of the horrific head. Where did all that blood come from?

“Are you…Are you okay?”

The angry older woman growled at her and flailed at the rest of the wall keeping her trapped in the cellar, splintering it to pieces.

Wide-eyed and fearing for her life, Komona flew from the kitchen and out the front door as fast as humanly possible. She slammed the door open and bolted into the empty streets.

Wait. Empty streets? Her mind whirled a mile a minute. She stowed the knife she’d been fleeing with into a bag. Probably for the best something terrible was happening, it would’ve gotten her arrested to run about the rich quarter with a giant knife at hand. She made for the gate – best to get home to stow her payments.

But the gate was closed.

“Why is the gate closed!” She said it aloud more to make a little sound in the creepy stillness hanging over everything than to get a response. The gatehouse was closed anyway.

“That’s what we’d like to know too, but there’s nobody around to ask.”

The slender woman nearly jumped out of her new shoes. She whirled to face the woman who answered. Strong and dour, with two holstered cats at her side. The woman glared for a minute, sizing her up.

“Where did you come from anyway? We’ve been looking all over for anyone still living. Any others locked up where you came from?”

Komona looked around the stout woman to see the old man and small girl she was traveling with. “No. I suppose you three are the first living people I’ve seen today too. What happened around here? Where is everyone?”

The trio took a few minutes filling her in. A plague cure, people littering the streets like rats, the deafening quiet smothering the city.

“Wow, a lot of things happened while I was asleep. Is it really Tuesday? I’m beginning to think I overslept more than I realized. What are you guys planning from here now with everyone gone?”

“Ah, they’re around here somewhere all right. Damned rich folk always have a contingency plan up their sleeves somewhere. What are you doing here anyway? Surely you’ve seen something. Colby-Jack by the way, these are Tess and Fenton. What’s your name girl?”

Komona introduced herself. “I’m a …messenger. I was. Messenging?”

Fenton cackled until he couldn’t breathe. “A messenger she says!”

“Well Komona, you’re welcome to tag along with us if you like, especially since everyone in the main districts seem to be dead.”

“Just as long as she washes her hands!” Colby-Jack smacked Fenton’s arm and he collapsed into laughter once more.

 

Kris’s game design ramblification

Kris here

Last week was a bit hilarious and a lot tardy, sorry about that! By the time Saturday rolled around, we were off gallivanting across the state to visit dear friends and eat all the food they had.

I tracked it!

Some of it.

So here I am today just chatting about more game design stuff. I’ve been doing a lot of digital legwork and game designing can be an interesting experience, so I figured I’d lay down a few “why the hell didn’t they tell me this earlier”‘isms. Not everyone is interested in game design and that’s fine because the first rule of game design is that you don’t talk about game design it’s super hard.

Thinking about designing an entire game is a daunting aspect and it requires a few key points that aren’t necessarily obvious, but they’ll hold you back until you figure them out. Since I’ve spent a few months spinning my wheels and having a ball thinking about ‘bell curves’ and ‘probabilities,’ I think it’s safe to say I’m now an expert in the field. Don’t worry, you’ll all get the life-altering chance to play my amazing game once I find a better expert to tell me what in the hell I’m doing. It’s right around the corner.

At the beginning of my journey, I looked at the tabletop games I was playing and thought to myself “yeah this is good, but it’s not great.” You ever get the feeling? Yeah this salad is pretty good, but that pizza is great. Sure my car is okay, but that monster truck is AMAZING. I don’t want to drive a good RPG, I want to drive a monster truck RPG!

Okay, but that’s wrong – you don’t make a game because you want a better one. Trust me. You won’t play that sucker for a year. Or years! There are thousands of every kind of game you can think of – pick one at random for a weekend get together every week for 10 years and you won’t run out of material, I promise. This was a tough lesson to swallow because I just want to play my game why can’t it just be done. Nope. You have to work first. I know!

The second thing I did was to create some mechanics to judge how to, you know hit stuff and scale walls. Not the actual actions or why’s, just the mechanics.

“But Kris who are you hitting? Why? What’s the deal with climbing walls, what kind of mechanics are needed there?”

I donno :<

That’s right, my second step and I was already into my second mistake. You probably think I’m really bad at this by now. Ha! And you’d be right! Then I stumbled around the Googles for a few days hours and I discovered that this wasn’t exactly undiscovered territory. There have been people who made games before. This bro even put together a list of questions out of a different set of questions which is an amazing tool to outline if you can think  of the answers.

http://socratesrpg.blogspot.com/2006/01/what-are-power-19-pt-1.html

And that’s from 12 years ago! So my third step was when I reached out to a few game design communities across the tubes – Reddit, StackExchange, Giant in the Playground forums. Yeah that’s right, mistake! No just kidding, this was actually fabulous. You never realize how stupid some of your ideas are until you find a group of peers and explain to them why having people do long division is an enjoyable experience. Every time I’ve hit a slump where I kind of stopped and whined and fidgeted about something not being right, I’d hop on one of those boards and tell everyone what a great idea I’d had. They were brilliant – less than 2 hours each time to convince me what a mistake my mother made when she released me into the world with such naivete and misunderstandings. I can’t say it’s always easy taking criticism, nor should it be. Heck, I had to dig into more than one persons’ questions just to actually figure out what they didn’t understand, why they couldn’t understand it, and why past me wrote his descriptions in such a dumb way.

Designing games is a lot of work, but it’s a good time you can share with a partner or even just do in your spare time to mess around. If the SocratesRPG guy was a bit too much of a read, just make sure you think through a few ideas before you get too far into the process:

1. What experience does your game provide. People scared of the dark for a week, looking over their shoulders and nervously laughing the whole time? Riddle solving, pitting spouses against each other in mortal combat!?

2. What do the characters, or the part of the game the people playing the game interact with, do. Why, how, and when do that do that. Is it a fantasy game and you can pretend to be a buff macho dude, or is it farm simulator 0018?

3. What do the people playing the game actually do to interact with the characters mentioned in question 2. Pushing buttons, rolling dice, drawing cards. Strip D&D?!

4. Play your game every time you make any change and play it again because you didn’t do it enough the first time.

Okay number 4 isn’t really a question, but you have to play the game you’re building. Really, play it all the time, you have to know how everything is working. And when you think you have it down solid, give it to someone else and have THEM explain it to yet another person and you’ll be well on your way to starting the design process. And if you’re married, your spouse might even buy you a brand new blanket to sleep on the couch!

Kris talks about the extra-larges in his life

 

Kris here,

My lovely wife took some important time last week to discuss something important to her heart. I applaud you Tina! So I thought I’d spend this week talking about something special to my own stomach heart. A weight loss journey can’t be possible without the most important ingredient of all.

Food!

So let’s talk about pizza today. It’s fine, Tina will be fine with it. You can trust me.

There are some important choices you have to make when discussing kinds of pizza to eat. The first one is of course whether you’re in Italy, New York or Boston or some place that will actually get me shanked for talking about non-Italian, New York or Boston pizza. I don’t live there so I’m going to sadly be discussing just regular, make-it-yourself or buy-from-some-place type pizza. Just so we’re all on an even, easy to understand, cheesy playing field.

We have to start with the layered or stuffed type pizzas of course. That’s kind of cheating isn’t it? Making a pizza and then basically hiding another pizza inside of it? What is this, 2000 calories per slice? Guh, they’re so amazing and obviously the best . I know some places have started up some gimmicky, let me turn your crust into cheesebread or some kinda crust-to-breadstick transformation. Let me tell you about those: they’re amazing too. Yeah I know, THIS is why I’m on a weight loss journey! Sheesh.

We could talk about the bread/crust/cauliflower or whatever that you actually bake everything on top of, but honestly it’s just a vehicle for the rest of the food. Do what you want peeps.

So we skip to the wet ingredients on the dough-bits that keep everything from drying out and burning to dust. Tomato-based sauces are what I see most of the time and they ARE good, I love em to death. It’s a bit played out though, right? That’s why I like to shake it up. Some things go well with sweeter sauces, like pulled pork and barbecue sauce or a nice taco pizza with a spicy, mildly sweet sauce. Honestly any reason to add tacos to my life is a win. Alfredo sauces, cheese sauces, olive oil, cream cheese – all these are a great way to stick more food on top of your food.

Lastly, and most importantly, the actual toppings you put on the pizza itself. Lots of people I know just like cheese. I guess that’s fine, just laying like 6 pounds of cheese on a pizza is fine, I’m okay with that. Let’s go ahead and call out the elephant I’m building into the room: if you don’t like a good ham and pineapple pizza you can go right on down to hell. Sweet and salty is a classic combination – and if you put mushrooms on it, then I’ll even be your friend. Let’s not get carried away now – it’s not the only combination, but damned if it isn’t the only one I have to hide like a coke addict.

“Akerlund! What are you eating over there?”
“Oh this boss? Uhh, uhh nothing. Nothing I was just doing drugs” *snorting pineapple through a straw*
“Good man!”

I think I’m the only person in my close circle of friends that loves to just throw all kinds of stuff on the food. Tina wants cheese and spinach, Nik’ll eat any meat or cheese. I’m over at my own table like “Hey you guys want a piece of this pepperoni-sausage-mushroom-black olive-onion-green pepper-jalapeno-roast tomato pizza?” And everyone else bought their own table so they could ban me from it and they’re over there like “I swear if you step one foot closer I’m calling a priest! Get back!” It’s such a cruel, cruel world sometimes.

Let me know what other things are actually the best foods or pizza toppings and I’ll put it on a list of things to keep pictures of in my wallet. I like playing around in the kitchen quite a bit, so pictures are my inspiration when I get goin’.

Short Zombie Saturday

Colby-Jack wiped the sweat from her eyes for the millionth time as she removed two more crusty loaves from the oven. The morning rush was frenzied and she was doggedly determined to catch up for the lunch rush. Although, judging from the sun, it should’ve started already. She cursed and remembered the rude city watchman who’d told her to clear out a few hours ago. Did he put a sign or something on her door? Better investigate. That son of a…You have the presence of mind to tell someone off one time in a position of power and they-

Bodies littered the street outside her door. Dead eyes open, uncaring, staring into the abyss of the sun. Well this doesn’t seem like it was the watchman’s doing. She waved her hands in someone’s face for a moment, but there was no reaction. His eyes didn’t even twitch. She pulled him bodily away from her shop; she didn’t want to be disrespectful to the dead, but she couldn’t have these people dying all over her livelihood.

Colby-Jack spent a few minutes investigating the streets a few up and a few down from her own. As far as the eye could see, rivers of motionless citizens polluted the pathways, lying face-down and face-up, however they fell she assumed. She retreated back to the store to gather some supplies. If there was a plague after all, then she’d better get to that East church. She wrapped up as much bread as she could comfortably carry and stowed it in a travel bag, then attached leads to Parmesan and Cheddar. The two cats were not pleased to have been awakened, and meowed grumpily.

“Get on with it, you lazies. It’s not like you’ve actually done anything that would necessitate the need for a nap in the first place.” She briskly walked the streets, the two cats keeping pace easily. The streets were devoid of any moving body, so it was relatively easy going.

The further East she got though, the more she found herself being forced to step over the bodies as they grew more and more densely populated on the city streets. “Jeez I bet the rich people probably just all rode carriages, the good for nothing-” Colby’s eyes narrowed. She scanned her surroundings quickly, looking for splashes of color, or at least clean clothes. All the souls surrounding her now were dressed in tatters and smocks, workman’s clothing that was shredded and dirty as sin.

“Ohhhhh.”

She huffed once, turned herself right around, and marched West. “I’ll bet those cheeky bastards are beside themselves right now, sitting around and sipping iced wine or reading a book about working or something. Ugh!” Grumbling to herself more for the noise than any actual anger she felt, she made good time and found herself back at the city center before long. The rich folk were all locked up in a walled section of the city, but surely one of them needed a new baker while everyone was dying in the streets?

“What’s an ankle like you doin’ in a shoe like that, girl!”

Colby stopped short. “Ex..Excuse me?”

An old guy with a smaller pack stood hunched over in the street, examining her footwear.

“Y’got no arch support. Where’s the cushioning? Your shoes ain’t got no sole. Eh HEH HEH!” The old guy rubbed his hands together greedily while he chuckled to himself.

“Ugh, who are you?” Colby-Jack took a few healthy strides, taking care to hide her cats.

“Ol’ Fenton Shoemaester, at your service. I’ve got a 6 at my place with YOUR name on it missy, let me take you home right quick.” Grunting with oldness, Fenton heaved himself to his feet and started leading the way East.

Colby noticed they weren’t actually the only two walking around – she must’ve been more distracted than she realized.

“Uh, thanks Fenton, but no thanks. There’s a bit of a situation happening right now in town, not sure if you’d noticed. Nobody with fancy clothes is lying around so I figured those guys are holed up behind their wall, living the high life. I’m heading that way so I’m afraid I don’t have time for shoes.”

Fenton gasped in reply to her sacrilege and opened his mouth to reply.

“Excuse me”

A sweet voice drifting over the breeze shut his mouth before his reply, however.

“Have either of you seen any of the officials around? I was hoping to get some information that might help the congregation at THE LORD’s church. Everyone is so sick, I’d heard there was a cure.” A young lady in the soft layers of a church’s apprentice approached tentatively.

Fenton’s eyes did some wandering while Colby spoke up. “Nay girl, I’ve not seen anyone coherent until this man here started talking about- GET AWAY FROM THERE!” The baker brandished a baguette, beating the old man’s grubby hands from the poor girls’ feet. “She’s been through enough without a wackjob trying to get her out of her shoes so early in the day, Mr. Shoemaester if you please!”

Fenton guffawed into the quiet streets as he allowed himself to be shooed away. “Now now baker woman, either we’re all going to die, or we’re going to be on our own for some time. It would be nice to have some comfortable shoes either way – wouldn’t it? Make ya feel better. Give you spunk! My place is right on the way to the rich folk, c’mon let’s swing on by and I’ll prove it.”

***

An hour later, the two women sat in his small sitting room atop comfy chairs.

“Old man, I’m a bit taken aback. It’s like walking on air.” Colby paced the room in the new boots, somewhat at a loss. “Did you have to put these giant holes in the sides though? It feels a might chilly to be wearing things like this around.” Glancing to the younger girls’ shoes, she wasn’t surprised to see it cover even less.

“Fenton they’re wonderful, how much do they cost?”

He waved the young lady’s hands from the laces. “Don’t be silly, don’t be silly! It’s the apocolypse, I wouldn’t dream of charging you. These weren’t for sale anyhow, I was just waiting to meet the right feet. What’s your name, anyhow?”

“Tess Prees, from the church of THE LORD by the north wall.”

“Lovely to meet you Tess.” Colby stood and moved to the door. “I was just on my way to make the rich people let me stay with one of them. If the cure is anywhere, it’s going to be holed up with those fools, not distributed to the poor people now conveniently as far away from the wealthy district as they can be. Don’t you agree?”

It did make more sense than the Vitsuata church handing out tens of thousands of antidotes for free. “I suppose you’re right. So you think they’ll listen to us though?”

“I don’t care, that’s where I’m going. Come along if you like.” With that, Colby-Jack whisked out the door, cats in tow.

“Okay sure, might as well try something.” Tess hurried out the door after her.

“Wait for me!” Fenton snatched up the sketchbook under his desk and shoved it into his bag as he rushed after them.

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.

Short story saturdays, Z(ombie) style

Kris here,

Remember that one time a long time ago when I wrote the start of what I wanted to make a little mini-series of? The guy with the friend and he was sick, and his friend, well, ate a guy? Yeah that one. Forget all about it! I mapped out a story pretty far, but I wanted to write a different story instead and since it’s about zombies too, well that’s too much zombie. It doesn’t work in stories like in real life; you can’t swarm a reader with zombie stories to eat their brains.

So here’s a different story don’t even worry about it. I stole found a cool idea for a Pathfinder (TTRPG) game and I went for it! Now I’m going to write about it in a hopefully entertaining manner, though even I’m not 100% sure how the story will go.

_____________________

THUD

Fenton Shoemaester nearly jumped out of his skin as something plowed into the other side of his front door. He hastily stowed the sketchbook full of ankles he’d been rifling through and went to the door.

“Yes?”

Dark rimmed eyes gazed through him, the heavy man on the porch breathing heavily a moment. “Kind sir, I need to buy a pair o’ shoes to wear. Do you have any in hand?” Heaving for air, the ragged stranger wheezed into the front sitting room and sat against the wall.

“Oi lad, sure I can cobble something up for you quick enough, how’s about a week from today?”

Those dark eyes widened in alarm. “Can ye do it any faster? My old pop’s funeral is to be today I’m afraid. Passed sometime overnight-” Stopped briefly by a fit of coughing, he spit blood onto the floor and continued. “He passed sometime overnight I’m ‘fraid, the whole family is in a state just like me. We have to do it while we still have the strength. We can’t just leave him in bed for weeks like old ma!”

Lip curled as he eyed the mess, Fenton thought quickly. “Aye, I suppose you’re about what, a seven? A nine? I bet I’ve something I can use to get rid of you with. That you can use I mean.” The old man perused his storeroom for several long minutes during which he desperately hoped the man survived. Finally, he found the pair. “Here we are good man, I believe these will suit you just fine. I take 2 silver for the pair or if ya only got one leg, you get half off! Ah ha! Ahahaha!”

Blearily the other groped his pockets and fished up two silver coins, not even a courtesy laugh the whole while. Another fit of coughing later and he shut the door with an old pair of shoes in hand. Fenton snatched up an old rag ready to be thrown away from a dusty corner and tossed it at the mess on the floor. “There better be plenty of young ladies needing shoes this season, I swear. This shop will be the death of me!” Growling and grumbling to himself, the old man hurled the filth into the early morning streets to be washed away by the river of people that would break through in a few hours.

Noticing the clothier next door to him was sitting on her porch, Fenton invited himself over and took a quick peek down. Ah, that leather-and-lace affair he’d crafted up for her some years ago. Perfection! “Hello Claudia, little early isn’t it?”

“Ah, Mr. Shoemaester it is good to see you. I sleep warmly in my down blankets these cold nights, but a man come and does not read my ‘go away’ sign. He ask me to make a suit for a pittance by this afternoon! Pshaw I tell him, I have nothing for you here, begone! I think he carries a dark sickness in him and I do not want him infecting the spirits of the lace.”

“Oh yeah that would be a real shame. Lace is hard to make! He came over to buy shoes a few minutes ago too and I felt the same way. I didn’t want him in there taintin’ up the soles ya know.”

Claudia slowly leveled her gaze at Fenton while he guffawed himself right off the porch. “Mr. Shoemaester, it is good that you have such a source of laughter. It is a pity you cannot share this with the rest of us.”

The geezer sauntered back over to his shoe shop wiping a tear from his eye, waving goodbye to his old friend until next time.

 

*********

 

“The LORD hath delivered unto ME… a message, my people! A message for YOU! He doth guide me the righteous path of…RIGHTEOUSNESS I say, to protect all of you! All of you powerful common folk who come into his house. I recognize each of you, let me tell you. I know everyone, and we love each of you dearly. Myself that is, and THE LORD above!”

Tess wiped the droplets of sweat from her brow as she finally finished sweeping the nave. How oddly silent it was today. She paused a moment to listen to the sermon before stepping to the front porch to beat out the broom. She could never fathom how dirty the inside of the church could be after being cleaned once a week. Surely someone must be tracking dust in purposefully?

“Miss, can you help my dear mum? She is unwell!”

She was jerked from her daydream by an older woman standing over an elderly woman laying against the steps to the church. “I worry her time has come, but we weren’t able to reach inside the church in time. Might you help me get her inside?”

Tess took a step down the stairs but halted. She’d been caught up in her reverie a few minutes before and had missed the bodies lying in the streets. Glassy eyed and staring to the heavens, young and old alike sat against the close-knit buildings or just lie uncaring in the streets as far as the eye could see. “Dear woman, I’ll gladly help. I’ll lift her arms and chest, be sure her feet don’t drag or catch on the doorframe.”

Grunting and heaving ensued. The old woman was surprisingly heavy and the two women had trouble just lifting her to the top of the stairs. After a moment, a new voice joined the fray.

“‘Allo madams, might I lend a hand here?”

A strong youth fitted in hard leather and bearing an unlit torch strode in from a side street. He hefted the semi-conscious old woman onto his shoulders easily, setting her inside on a pew near the door.

“Thank you so much for your assistance kind sir.” Tess curtsied and retrieved the broom leaning against the outside of the door.

“My pleasure miss. I’m making the rounds this morning anyway. His Lordship has called for all citizens to make their way to the Eastern church of Vitsuata with all haste. As you’ve noticed, there’s a plague spreading through the city, and the Vitsuata alchemists have devised a cure I’m told. That’s what his Lordship told us all anyway. We’re to gather near the east church to be given the cure. Please inform the Father while I continue my rounds.”

“Of course officer, I’ll let them know right away. Thank you!” Tess escorted the young guard back outside and saw him off, then returned to the marble pulpit at the center inside.

“Dear father, I don’t wish to interrupt you today but I thought you ought to know, -” She delivered the guards’ words to the priest atop the stage and told him her own observations outside earlier.

“So a plague is it? That must be what’s wrong with the crowds today Tess. I was sure of it, not a single cheer for the LORD has been risen today. That hussie of a god Vitsua must be responsible of course, why else would they offer a cure? Bah!” Father Maximus wrung the sweat from his long beard and then used it to wipe his face. “I should have known those good for nothing leeches would cause problems one day, I must obtain an augurie before we leave the safety of our home. Tess, protect our flock!”

With that, the sturdy old man whisked himself to the basement.