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Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #2149468
My journal and mirror
cover art for my blog

Possibly a mistake, definitely an experiment.

A politics free journal of personal reflections and achievements.

This is my first blog, so any feedback or advice would be appreciated.

Blog serials (will) include:
         *AsteriskW* Fairy Tales Told Wrong
         *Asteriskw* (a character study)
         *Asteriskw* (a poem)
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June 27, 2022 at 6:53am
June 27, 2022 at 6:53am
I mentioned in "Oops that I've been working on writing a tabletop rpg (ttrpg). This is what I have learned.

1. the internet is messy

As you might expect from any personal experience trying to find guidance on writing anything, advice for writing a ttrpg is fuzzy. It can be contradictory, vague, and discouraging. Fortunately I got a good ways into writing my ttrpg before I started looking for guidance and I know what I'm trying to achieve.

2. don't ask forums for advice without a highly specific question

People are bad at answering questions. Some people don't seem to understand how questions work. It's very common to find a reddit thread or a forum thread where most of the comments are advice (or unhelpfully judgemental) instead of answers. This is worse when the poster asks multiple questions or a poorly defined question.

Admittedly, part of my day job is about writing specific questions, but in order to get the answer you want, you have to write the right question, and then throw away at least half the replies.

3. people are peculiar

Turns out, there are in fact people who want to write their own ttrpg just for the sake of it. People who don't have a genre, mechanics, or really any idea of what the game is before they start. I find this baffling. It's like saying "I want to write a book" with no ideas beyond thinking publishing a book would be cool. Like, no genre, no characters, no seed at all. Very odd.

Other people play one rpg and then try to write a new one for a different kind of game without researching whether there is a game that already does that. This makes sense if you have a specific idea in mind about how you want the game to work. But if you're just working off of "I want to play scifi mercenaries like in Aliens" or "I want to play D&D but in space", it's a lot of work to come up with something broken, when there are systems that can fill that need.

4. trying to find logic holes or predict confusion is work

I've been back over the text I have so far a couple of times trying to simplify the language and make the rules as readable as possible. This includes a larger font size than I would normally use for myself, short sentences with active verbs, addressing players instead abstract phrasing, and short paragraphs with clean breaks between.

Periodically, I will suddenly realise a small detail I haven't explained yet, or remember something a player might ask to do that should be addressed. This includes explicitly stating that "you can do both x and y on your turn" or "equipment has no affect on your roll, it's just useful to know what you hero has on them". Things you forgot to say because you thought they were obvious.

It's also very important to use consistent terminology. Not just calling something by the same name, but specific phrasing. My ttrpg never says "control points", it always refers to the control pool; like "add points to your control pool" or "spend a point from your control pool". This provides total clarity - you're not left guessing whether aa and ab are the same thing - and helps to reinforce ideas.

On top of that are layout considerations. What is the best place to put a particular piece of information? Where do I think someone will look for it? I've tried to avoid repeating information, because that creates opportunities for contradiction. I also think I've done fairly well at choosing what order information goes in.

5. exceptions = complexity

My goal with Heroes LIVE! is for the system to be simple to run. The control pool mechanic is a bit involved, but it's the most involved part of the system. Everything else is simpler.

The key to simplicity is consistency, or minimal exceptions. The dice rolls work one way regardless of what you are rolling for. There are very few rules which change how you use and read the dice - and you only use one type of dice, just lots of them.

Talking to My Darling and reading comments on other games, it seems like some people conflate customisation with exceptions. Having too many different mechanics or calculations makes a game harder to run at the table. You don't want to spend time at the table flicking through a rule book trying to find that one page. You want to spend time playing.

6. art and layout matter

Illustrating chapter headings and adding a cover using AI generated art drastically changed the way my rpg group views the document. Suddenly it's exciting. Suddenly it looks professional (if minimalist).

I've challenged My Darling to draw some line art that I can put at the start of each chapter. I might look into replacing the cover with something more accurate to the themes and tone of the game - although I would probably have to commission it. Which I know is deserved, but I'm hesitant to invest any money into something I'm planning to distribute free. Similarly I should look for an editor, at least a copy editor, but I'm not sure if I can recruit one willing to work for free on a passion project, or whether one willing to do that would do a good job.

7. I am awesome

I forget this often. I feel like I'm being silly or a nuisance. I feel like my sister and My Darling are humouring me. But my sister has set up a channel on her Discord server for this game and sounded to excited when she was explaining it to the rest our group last Thursday. She has also passed the live draft to a friend of her who is a fan of superhero games to try and get some feedback from him.

I don't expect Heroes LIVE! will end up with any real level of circulation. I'm not writing it with the intention of making any money from it. I just think that if I'm going to write a ttrpg, I should write a whole ttrpg; and if I write a whole ttrpg, I should put it on the internet somewhere so it's available to anyone who might enjoy it.

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entry 5 of 10 for The Bard's Hall Contest  June 2022
June 26, 2022 at 7:00am
June 26, 2022 at 7:00am
Following on from the previous blog entry, we have since completed a number of steps toward our goal.


My Darling's father came round and 'over helped'. She asked him how to tie up a mattress. He arrived and restrained both of the old mattresses, forcing us to set up the guest bedroom two days early.

We also dismantled the old wardrobe - taking care to pull out all the metal and plastic elements separately as far as we could.


We loaded up the car with the wardrobe and squeezed both mattresses in too.


This is where we really hit out stride. We drove to the dump first thing and disposed of the mattresses. The wood went into the timber recycling and the metal pieces into the metal recycling. Our local dump has a 99.8% recycling rate.

We then did the grocery shopping and snuck in a McDonalds breakfast. Then it was off to the hardware store to buy a new door handle for the living room. After that we walked the neighbour's dog and headed back out to the decorating store down the road to get paint.

But we weren't done there *Bigsmile* We then took the bed frame apart. Assembled, it takes up most of the room, so we have to take it down to do any painting.

We also set up the xbox, which has been in storage under the bed, so I could move my save data from the cloud onto the hard drive and then cancel my xbox live gold subscriptions (which I haven't used in well over a year ^^;).

The last job of the day was to sit down and play with the shredder. My mum's going through some old ancient filing that hasn't been checked in about a decade to throw out documents she no longer needs. Like the road tax for a car she sold at least eight years ago.

And then I made a delicious salad for dinner.

Sunday (today)

We started off putting the drill on to charge the battery and walking the neighbour's dog again.

Since getting back, we (My Darling) changed the living room door handle. We can finally close the door again without getting trapped *Party*. She also took the bedroom light shade down so it doesn't get covered in paint when we take on the ceiling.

We've taken down the curtains from the bedroom so we can wash them and the curtain pole so it down's get covered in paint.

We've handed mum's filing box back to her to go through the next batch of papers.

Plan is to get the first coat of damp seal on the wall where the wardrobe used to be, since that seems to be a bad spot for condensation; and for me to try to catch up with the WDC activities I've fallen away from.

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entry 4 of 10 for The Bard's Hall Contest  June 2022
June 19, 2022 at 7:53am
June 19, 2022 at 7:53am
So I guess this entry can be about all the things which distracted me from keeping up with The Bard's Hall Contest  blogging challenge *Blush*

1. I bought Minecraft for my Nintendo Switch.

I don't think I need to explain further.

2. I bought a mattress.

We've been using two old mattresses stacked on top of each other for several years. It used to be very cosy. Now we have a chasm in the middle of the bed that we spend all night rolling back out of. We thought about it for a few days and then bought the new mattress while the manufacturer was offing a 40% discount. It's getting delivered in three weeks.

3. Redecorating the bedroom.

Well, planning to. The mattress company wanted to charge £40 to take away "your old mattress" and we're not sure they'd take two. So we're looking at scheduling a bulky waste collection with the district council. If we're doing that, we thought we could take the opportunity to throw out the sorry chipboard wardrobe that's falling apart and replace it with a proper pine one.

While we're doing that, we also might as well dismantle the bed temporarily - to facilitate taking out the wardrobe - and repaint the walls a nice dark blue. At the moment daylight gets in behind the curtain and lights up the 'hint of pink' pastel wall. Which is fine during winter, but at the height of summer dawn can be as early as 4 or 5 a.m. and night doesn't start 'til nearly 10 p.m.

4. Writing a superhero tabletop roleplay game.

This is really what's captured my interest this week. I watched Tiger & Bunny on Netflix recently and thought the corporate sponsored superhero premise would make a funny game. I had a look around for a system that wasn't too "crunchy" (detailed mechanics, lots of rules). I didn't find quite what I was looking for, but while I was looking I started have ideas.

The game is rooted in three ideas: simplicity, creative and narrative freedom, and control.

"Control" is the key mechanic of the system and represents heroes trying to use their powers with maximum efficacy and minimum collateral damage.

I have the core mechanics presented, although as yet untested, and now I'm working on filling out the rest of the contextual fluff that goes into a ttrpg book.

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entry 3 of 10 for The Bard's Hall Contest  June 2022
June 10, 2022 at 3:41pm
June 10, 2022 at 3:41pm
Today we are interviewing Ser Lael from "The Witch, the Wretch and the Warden"   by Tileira
Earlier character studies of Lael can be found in "Lael (CG#5) [18+]

What is your full name? Do you have a nickname?

Lael Fletcher. Lael.

         Some people adopt new names when they join the Octavian church. Is that the case with you?

         Lael's the name the captain - Justice Aaron - gave me when I gave my oath.

         Does that name have a special meaning?

         The captain said it means "the love and the faith". It also means "blessed" or "beloved".

         Do you mind sharing your birth name?

         I do. Sorry. I'm not- I am Lael Fletcher. I'm not anyone else.

Who were your parents?

My father was a forester. My mother ran the house. She did everything more or less.

         What was it your father did exactly?

         Drink. He hunted, trapped, foraged. There's a lot of useful things in the wood. And he knew it. The wood I mean. They'd come to him if they needed to find anything.

How would you describe your childhood?

I wouldn't.

When and where were you the happiest?

Now. Living now at Yarsgrove Abbey with my wife and my brothers. It's a good life with good people. I'm lucky to be there.

Did you have any role models?

The captain, I guess. I don't know. I owe him everything I am.

         Can you tell me a bit more about that?

         He brought me into the church. He gave me a place and a person to be. For a while he was the person in my life, before Crystina and I married.

         The captain is the strongest and... best person I know. He's humble in faith and right. I don't know how to describe it. He's just good.

What is your greatest fear?

That's... I don't want to get too far into this. I'm not a good man. I'm trying to be. And sometimes it's hard to see how I can be that person Lael is supposed to be. I'm afraid I can't be or won't be.

         Which other person knows about this fear of yours? Who do you not want to know about this fear of yours, why?

         My brothers all know. Crystina knows. I don't really care who knows about that part. I don't want to explain what lies behind it.

Do you believe in the existence of soul mates or true love?

Yes. It's powerful. The captain brought me to Yarsgrove, but Crystina - my wife - loving her is my salvation. She makes me Lael. She makes me believe in everything.

How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings in the company of others?

Some. Mostly. I try to stick to what needs to be said. And I don't always know how to say what I want to say. And then there are things I don't want to know or hear, so I don't share those.

Do you have any prejudices? What are they and where do those come from?

I tend to make the worst assumptions about men I meet in difficult situations. Like if he's arguing with a woman, I want to get between them. And I make similar assumptions about women and whether they're in trouble. I probably got that from my father first, but there's other reasons too.

I mean sometimes I'm right, but at least half the time I'm seeing shadows of something that's not really there.

On what occasions do you lie?

Probably more often than you think. I'm trying to be honest with you today. Mostly I lie to move things along or when someone doesn't really need an answer. I never lie to the captain. I try not to lie to Crystina. I don't think I've lied about anything important in a long time.

Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?

I have killed. Sanctified Blades - "church knights" - have to be able to do that. It's what I'm for. We protect the church and its servants, so we kill in their defense. People don't always give you the choice.

Have you started your own family?

Yes. Crystina and I have... three children. Justin's the oldest. He's smart, I think. He's smarter than I remember being at five years old. Lara's four. Hieric's maybe a year old by now.

Who are your friends? Do you have a best friend?

Yeah, I have my brothers. The other Blades I live with at the abbey. Ethan's kind of a clown until he has to take charge. Danael's more of a priest than a Blade. He's very eloquent and well read.

I'm closest to Kendrick. We joined the abbey around the same time - for different reasons. He's a little mean, but he doesn't really mean it and I do deserve it most of the time. He helps me stay focused.

Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict?

Arguing doesn't get anyone anywhere. If I'm in the wrong, I'll take it. If I'm not, I don't mind taking it so we can get over it and move on. If it's not important. If it's something that really matters, I will step up. But it's too easy to forget what the problem is when you're busy getting angry with each other.

Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?

I don't think I'm impulsive. I try to think things through before I do them. That's not always an option and I don't panic if I don't know what I'm doing. Kendrick will tell you I rarely know what I'm doing. But there's usually some kind of plan. Or an idea of what the plan could be.

Are you generally organised or messy?

Organised. I don't have a lot of things, so it's not hard to keep track of them. And I look after them properly. You also have to make sure that if you're working or you're done with a task to put everything back where it's supposed to be so you don't make life harder for your brothers, or anyone else. And people can get hurt if things aren't stored properly.

Name three things you consider yourself to be good at, and three things you consider yourself to be bad at.

Does talking to people count?

I'm good at hunting and with a bow. I'm good with my hands generally. Like fletching and sewing. Small complex things. And climbing. But that's four things.

I'm not good at honesty. I'm bad at managing my temper. And I said before I'm bad at speaking when I'm uncomfortable. I'm slow putting the words together, so I sound like an idiot.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I changed everything. I started over already. What I have left is like a revenant of the person I used to be. He comes up out of the void on dark days. I pray I can put that to rest one day.

If you could choose, how would you want to die?

Just well. For a reason. And not slow. Or all at once. There's something worse about being gone before you know you're dying.

What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?

Loving well and serving well. If anything at all. Some things, some people, shouldn't be remembered. There's more I'd want to forget.

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entry 2 of 10 for The Bard's Hall Contest  June 2022
April 23, 2021 at 11:09am
April 23, 2021 at 11:09am
Snow White is not a love story about Princess Sneewittchen and Prince Charming.

Anyone who has watched ABC's Once Upon a Time will remember one of the main plot lines for the first season was the obstacles between Snow White and Prince Charming both in the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke.

But the original Snow White story is not a love story. In the version first recorded by the Brothers Grimm, the prince is an unnamed plot device.

The main character of 'Little Snow White' is the stepmother.

Although Snow White herself is the heroine of her story, it's because she is a victim of her stepmother, not because she sets out to achieve anything. Snow White has no drive or direction, she is not seeking anything, she is a dramatic foil to the stepmother. She is innocent and naive to show us how wicked the witch queen is.

'Little Snow White' begins and ends with the stepmother's pursuit to destroy Snow White. It is a story about a woman utterly corrupted by vanity and envy. It is the story about the fall of that woman, not the accidental triumph of the princess.

That is the part that ABC's Once Upon a Time got right. Regina's fall and redemption made that show for me. It disappointed me every time she came nearly to the Light only to stumble back again. I love the parallels between Regina and her mother Cora: the woman who did deliberately forsake all good in herself and then wiped it out in her daughter.

Did you know that in the original original version of 'Little Snow White', the evil witch was Sneewittchen's biological mother?

It's not a love a story. It's not even about Snow White.
April 17, 2021 at 9:09am
April 17, 2021 at 9:09am
For anyone wondering why I never get round to actually writing anything, here is a full list of outstanding projects you didn't know I wasn't working on...

In the Fantasy category...
Art for Midnight Masquerade
A novel(la) sequel to Throne of Tides 
Wherein Sunpea learns the truth about the origins of geomancy and seeks to reunite with Briar.

A novel(la) prequel to Throne of Tides 
Refugees land on a new continent and one man finds himself caught between traditionalists clinging to the past and pragmatists trying to define a new future.

The Dragon Speaks  the story
A man living in a society with strict caste rules loses his way.

"[The One with Tiggy and Kel]
Life changes in the slums when a sorcerer washes up on shore.
I may do this one as an interactive story.

The Prince and the Pocket Watch
A prince travels the land seeking true love to avert a terrible curse, meeting other victims of witchcraft on his journey.

The Crimson Queen
A new crown princess must navigate plague and intrigue in a land where killing one's enemies isn't always a permanent solution.
See "A Crimson Queen Will Rise.

The 'I Watched Too Much Anime' One
Magical Boys & Girls vs throne-stealing conspiracy. No clue how to make that work in prose, but we might find out eventually.
Art for Midnight Masquerade

In the Fantasy Anthology category...
Art for Midnight Masquerade
Augustine stories
A band of adventurers unravel while hunting monsters.

Angelo stories
The inheritor of a magic legacy protects his lands from undead.

"Artapana and the White Fairy"
Starting off the back of Artapana and the White Fairy  a full set of short stories as Artapana tries to free Parivash from her curse and save his brother.

Seven Swords
A superhuman assassin hunts down revenge in an Asian inspired campaign.
Art for Midnight Masquerade

In the Romance category...
Art for Midnight Masquerade
The Duke of Fordstone
While the country recovers from a civil war, His Grace returns to the capital to rebuild his city and his life.

The Mermaid One
A woman forms a close connection with a local while on holiday.
This was inspired by a contest. I forget which one.
Art for Midnight Masquerade

In the Horror Shorts category...
Art for Midnight Masquerade
*Check* "Baggage [18+]

*Check* "The Runaway [13+]

"Hag's Rock"
A swimmer's jealousy is her downfall.
Conceived for "WEIRD TALES CONTEST "   [18+] by Beacon's Light ⚓️ but not started.

The Coffee Shop One
A barista writes his number on her cup, but doesn't stop there.
Inspired by an old prompt for "Write From the Heart - Story Contest"   [E] by Purple Princess
Art for Midnight Masquerade

In the Science Fiction category...
Art for Midnight Masquerade
"Jaguar Jones in the Talons of the Illusionist" or alternatively "Jaguar Jones Ghosts"
A claims investigator returning from extended leave is assigned a case that hits close to home.

"Jaguar Jones and the Burning Man" or "Jaguar Jones Smoke Trails"
A murder of a family friend provokes J.J. into opening a cold case.

The One in Space
A man living in exile is on a lonely journey home.
Art for Midnight Masquerade
March 21, 2021 at 6:19pm
March 21, 2021 at 6:19pm
Beautiful banner art by minja gifted to me by warpedsanity
I told you I would be bad at this.

Looking back at the last update I did, a lot has happened.

I have my Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Diploma and I'm working on the next level.

You might not be surprised to learn that I'm working from home. I find I miss the long drive and the hour of mental space it gave me.

I have... tidied up "The Love of the Harvest Queen [18+]. I need to work on the ending, but I wanted to get it rounded off and shared.

The shoes and handbag are still only half done and waiting in two separate cupboards.

The young family friend got a girlfriend and disappeared. He broke up with her and re-appeared, then got a new girlfriend, moved in with her, and disappeared again. He has recently tried to get in contact with us. My suspicion is he is recently single. But it's hard to want to talk to someone who ghosts you and then gets passive aggressive when you don't reply to his text message immediately.

Dog was fine. We don't bring her over to the flat nearly as often as we used to. She's getting on now and on medication for her arthritis, but she is still the goodest girl.

We eventually collected every korok seed in Breath of the Wild. We haven't been able to complete the master sword trial though. I then went on to put nearly as many hours into playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Beautiful banner art by minja gifted to me by warpedsanity
And now for new news.

My Darling and I got married in September 2019. I was about to start sending out thank you cards to our guests when we were all sent home last year. So those are still in a box on top of the dresser.

We now have an old friend living with us. He was going to look for work, and then 2020 happened.

We have been playing Dungeons & Dragons with my siblings. I'm currently Dungeon Master, and then we'll probably swap back to my sister's campaign when we get to the end of this first adventure. I am plotting for "book two", but it needs a while more to bake.

Apparently we collect ball joint dolls now. We have three off with artists for body blushing. One is stood upstairs all by his lonesome. Another three are waiting to be shipped. I'm determined for seven will be the final total. As beautiful as we are we just don't have the space and we're supposed to be saving for a home.

I have spent far too much time on reddit. I've stopped following a lot of the subs I used to read because it is bad for me to read people being horrid to each other over the internet.

I really want to get some more writing done and more things uploaded. I haven't done any since my last blog post. I have a few ideas from contest prompts that never got written that I will see if I can pick up again. I might also just try some random Artapana nonsense, because he's always good for that.
January 17, 2019 at 10:43am
January 17, 2019 at 10:43am
There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
They're going to make me cry.

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
I'm scared I'm going to die.

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
Why me oh why oh why?

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
They're going to make me cry.

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
Why me oh why oh why?

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
I'm scared I'm going to die.

There are bees buzzing buzzing buzzing round my head.
They're going to make me cry.
September 10, 2018 at 9:08am
September 10, 2018 at 9:08am
Give me proud and prowling men.
Give me cocks with bright gleaming plumage,
who know what they've got and mean to prove it.
Give me men who mind their looks.
Give me dandies who'd rather go nude,
than clad themselves in clothes lazy or crude.
Give me men who strut and stride.
Give me gents of grace and poise and style,
who will take time to make women smile.
Give me men who give a damn.
Give me men who understand.
The rest aside and alone can stand,
I'll take a sophisticated man.
June 28, 2018 at 2:09pm
June 28, 2018 at 2:09pm
I said, when I started this blog, that I wouldn't get political, so I won't.

I just want to share a thought   with you, one I have whenever I see an article in the tabloids or hear twenty-somethings on the radio talking about any diversity issue.

Things have changed a lot since I was a kid and overall I feel British, and Western, culture has improved. In many ways we treat each other better than we used to. Not every individual, not in every way, but on the whole we have become more accepting and inclusive.

I also feel it's important to stay grounded when thinking about these things. It's harder to identify a cause to an effect, or the full effects of a cause, than we sometimes consider and sometimes it takes longer than we want to see results.

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