Friday, February 24, 2017

Black Sheep Sequels

Several months ago, I resolved to finally watch all the way through all of Star Trek, in chronological order.  I got through Enterprise (which I dearly love) and the original series (which had its ups and downs, but was mostly pretty awesome) and the animated series and the Motion Picture and Wrath of Khan (as good as everybody says it is) and Search for Spock (maybe my favorite Trek movie)… and just sort of ran out of gas before I could really get into The Voyage Home.

I'm sure I'll pick it up again soon, but in the meanwhile, I decided to break up my Trek time with a pure nostalgia kick: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.  I was five when this show first aired… and to put into context just how strange it is that I loved this show so very much, my parents didn't allow my siblings and I to even own video games until I was at least twelve.  (If there needs to be some psychoanalytic reason as to why I've decided to collect every video game console ever, this would be it…)  But I really did love the Super Show, the Zelda cartoons on Friday, the live action segments with Captain Lou and Danny Wells—these guys basically were the Mario Brothers to the young me (and to millions of late 80s gamers too, I'm sure).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Have you ever tried to change the font-size of a half-written book?

Oy vey, what a hassle.

When I'm writing a book, I generally like to draft and format at the same time.  That is to say, I don't just type up all the text and then try to make it pretty on the page; I use a word processor to template out what the printed book is going to look like, and then I draft the text while fitting it into that template.  This allows me to edit on the fly, make word-choices that aid in justifying and kerning the text, and make sure that I can fit paragraphs or illustrations within a given page-count.

But as I've been merrily typing along, drafting the text to the Engines & Empires Core Rules, I've noticed how long the book has been getting, and how large 10-point font (for text) or 9-point font (for spell and monster descriptions) has looked on the page, and thought more than once about shrinking everything down by a point.  Then, once my load of schoolwork lightened up this semester and I took the plunge back into working on E&E 2e, I decided to go for broke and try it—after all, going over the book would be a chance to both proofread and revise everything, and a good memory-refresher.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rethinking demi-human classes

So now that I'm on my last semester as a physics undergrad (and it's an easy one, thank goodness: I made sure to knock out of my labs, projects, and physics classes last semester, and all that's left for me to mop up on this last go-around are the math classes I need to pick up my mathematics minor), I've actually found myself with a bit of time to get back into working on E&E 2nd edition again.

Before I got back into the nitty-gritty of drafting chapter 5 and all those monster stats, though, I thought that this might be a good time to go back over chapters 1–4 with fresh eyes and proofread, revise, and edit.  Some sections needed it badly; others, not so much.  But one of the big actual changes I wound up making to the rules was to implement yet a new take on how demi-humans work.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finally Done With Constructs (well, that took longer than expected…)

So school starting up again has thrown something of a monkey-wrench into my hopes of getting the Engines & Empires Core Rules written in a timely fashion.  I'm taking Special Relativity, Nuclear Physics, and Discrete Math this semester (along with a couple of labs) and could graduate this December (but I'm probably better off tacking on one more semester to finish a mathematics minor, alongside taking the GRE and applying for grad schools).  Anyhow, that means that all of my me-time is once again reduced to nil, and so I can only do a bit of game writing when I can squeeze a few minutes between work and class.

Work… oy vey… have I mentioned that I'm a pollster, and this year Donald friggin' Trump is running for president?  No?  Okay, well, we'll just leave it at that then.  Suffice it to say, I used to have faith in humanity.  Not so much these days.

Where was I?  Ah, yes—game book.  So now that my game has bona fide robot stats governing what kinds of atomata techs can build (and this is way easier than a mage making a golem, naturally), the tech class and its inventions are well and truly complete, and pretty darned cool if I do say so myself.  So now it's onto the Fae category, which is always interesting.  And confusing.  Which is good, because you don't want to impose too much order and classification on what are essentially Chaotic spirits.  But who knows how long this chapter will take?

Faes, Humanoids and Giants, Planars and Elementals, Plants and Oozes, the Undead.  Of all these categories, Humanoids is a pretty big one, but Planars/Elementals is positively huge.  Plants are easy; Undead, there's only like a dozen of those.  Fae are sort of a middling-sized category, depending on how deep into the lore I want to go here.  (Honestly, not that deep… yeah, I'm going for a general sort of "fairy tale"/English and Celtic folklore vibe, but that's another argument for not directly statting up too many specific kinds of faeries—they need to be mysterious.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chimeras are more interesting

At least in writing this section, I got to flex my mythology chops.  And, of course, E&E gets to have its own unique take on dragons and werewolves, which is fun.  With this section out of the way, I now move onto Constructs—which is already half done, because the never-finished, never-published "Supplement I" to the old Engines & Empires edition had an entire chapter on automata.  So all I really have to do is write up golems and such.

Anyway, if you want to take a look at E&E's chimera chapter, here it is.

I feel like I'm finally over the hump here.  Once I get Constructs done, then it's just Fae, Humanoids (and Giants), Spirits & Elementals, and two rather short (if necessary) sections—Plants/Oozes/Fungi and the Undead.

Now that I'm done with boring old animals, I'm really having fun with this again.  Monsters rule!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Normal Animals are BORING.

WAAAAAANNNH… (whiny moans)… just bloody indexing the animals took SO LONG!

Like that mediƦval monk wrote at the end of a hand-copied text of Aquinas's Summa:

Explicit secunda pars summe fratris thome de aquino ordinis fratrum predicatorum, longissima, prolixissima, et tediosissima scribenti: Deo gratias, Deo gratias, et iterum Deo gratias.
[Here ends the second part of the Summa of brother Thomas Aquinas of the Order of Preaching Friars, the longest, wordiest, and most tedious thing ever written: thank God, thank God, and again thank God.]

That's how I feel right now,  and I'm only finished with the second of eight monster sections.  The next part (chimeras, dragons, and magical beasts) is ALMOST AS FREAKING LONG.

What have I done… dear God, what have I done!?

UPDATE: Okay, the animals section is all paginated and illustrated now.  It's done, dead, in the grave, in the can, fini, I wash my hands.  Now to Deal with Dragons™.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

E&E Excerpt: Abominations

At long last, I'm finally making some headway through the dull slog that is "Monsters: Normal Animals".  I guess that's why I want to be an astronomer and not a zoologist.  Anyway, in the meantime, enjoy the first completed monster section from the revised edition of E&E: abominations (pdf, 205 kb).