Ian’s Awesome RPG is set to start in a couple of weeks at my library. (For a view from in the thick of things, check out iarpg.blogspot.com.) We’ve gone back to the 19th century as our setting (at least our nominal starting place, since time travel looks to figure heavily in the plot). One of the reasons for that is that I started out by suggesting that we could put together more than one genre, as in the new movie Cowboys and Aliens – and then gave various examples in the format “Cowboys and _______”, e.g. Cowboys and Zombies, Cowboys and Russian Mafia, etc., and the Cowboys part stuck.

The other main reason that the time period stuck is that we had such a good time with it two years ago (some of those sessions are detailed on this blog – look for entries from the summer of 2009). And part of the reason that it was so fun is that playing in a historical setting can be an immersive experience – if you want to know what was actually going on back then, and you want to bring it into the game, you only need to look as far as Wikipedia. Even more compelling is the idea of bringing in historical figures, whether obscure or famous – the famous ones are a good hook, but everyone quickly comes to understand that most of these NPCs have a story, and that these stranger-than-fiction stories are true. It makes it more interesting because different parts of people’s brains are engaged by these “true life” story elements.

Of course, we fiddle with the timeline. The game will be set in the 1880s, but if a certain inventor’s work on a “death ray” didn’t happen until the 20th century, who’s going to complain if we move that up a little?

Finally, the coincidences that happen for the gamemaster are really interesting when you have  a historical setting. I’ll be looking something up for a reference question, or for my own knowledge, and I’ll see something that relates to the game. Just now, an image from the movie The Goodbye Girl came into my head, and I wanted to read about Richard Dreyfuss, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. Found out that when he was growing up he thought himself to be related to Alfred Dreyfus, he of the Dreyfus Affair of 1894. No, I didn’t know anything about the Dreyfus Affair before today. But he’s sure as heck going to appear in the game.

Game of Thrones

Watching Game of Thrones … it’s pretty good.

However, a minor point, from episode 2: If the Dothraki travel in single file (to hide their numbers? who knows), 40,000 of them is going to make a pretty long line. E.g. if we allow 15 feet per person and horse, they’d stretch over 110 miles. Seems inefficient.

And where is Danaerys’ sunburn?

What I’m reading

WWW: Wake
WWW: Watch
WWW: Wonder
All by Robert Sawyer. Fun and interesting reads for the SF/geek crowd – the World Wide Web spontaneously develops consciousness, and with a little help from his friends, undertakes the task of increasing the net happiness of humanity. I’m on book 3, and have really enjoyed them. Additionally, I encountered Mr. Sawyer when I was doing tech support for Wordstar International, back in 1989 – and he tells me that it’s still his word processor of choice! Which I think teeters on the edge of credibility, but finally lands on the credible side, due to my theory (developed while working for Wordstar) that the word processor that you learn first is the one you stick with, no matter the attractions of superior products. Of course, there are exceptions – I wouldn’t touch Wordstar now with a ten foot pole.

Betrayer, by C. J. Cherryh (one of my favorite authors). This is the twelfth book in the Foreigner series, which continues to keep me interested. I think it’s become HER favorite series to write, and that’s why, unfortunately, her Alliance/Union universe is suffering (in my opinion). She recently returned to that universe to write:

Regenesis, a continuation of the story begun in Cyteen, but it was disappointing. It lacked the scope of her earlier work, especially Cyteen and Downbelow Station. It was more tightly focused on the main character and what she was thinking and doing, and while that’s interesting, it wasn’t enough to sustain my interest. In those earlier works, she was able to focus on the politics of four or five different situations, and give a sense of how they informed and affected each other … and that just wasn’t there with Regenesis.

Poker suspended

On April 15, 2011, the US Department of Justice charged a bunch of poker site founders with money-laundering, which led to a chain of events that effectively shut down online poker in the United States. More recently, they’ve allowed US poker players to get access to their Pokerstars and Full Tilt accounts, so that’s something … but what really needs to happen is that they should recognize that poker is a game of skill, not gambling, and regulate it appropriately.

In the meantime … not playing much poker.

Two new posts at the IARPG blog:



I am pushing player involvement in the design of the game more this year – beyond setting selection and character generation. Looking for input on a new system. Should be interesting.

WBCOOP events 1-3

Finished 160th-ish in the PLO event Monday (qualified for “Main Event”); missed the NLHE event Tuesday; finished 129th in the PLO Hi/Lo event tonight (good for an $11 SCOOP event entry). Haven’t gotten a lot of traction in any event yet – it’s been slowly-build-chips followed by slow-attrition-of-chips, but careful play has gotten me somewhere, even if not the place I’d really like to be.

Hampered by playing tired, but what are you going to do – there’s a two-month-old in the house.  😀


Bloggers unite – and play poker!

Online PokerI have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on (link redacted by wordpress – it’s Pokerstars … you know, Pokerstars?) to play. 

Registration code: XXXXXX 484956