Rolling the Dice

There is a lot to be said about Dungeons and Dragons.  I know that some people don’t like it because there have been people who have taken the game far to seriously; bringing it into their daily lives and generally living in as if fantasy were reality.  Then there are the people who think it entices children into Satanism; and in my mind these people are the same ones that won’t play card games because games of chance are evil.  All the power to these people as I really don’t care what they think.  Yes people can take the game to far, but that can be said of nearly anything.  If there is something popular or widely believed there is going to be someone who will take it above and beyond any rational person.

I play specifically because I don’t take it seriously.  How can you when the outcome of your character’s fate is entirely dependent not only on your twenty-sided die but on the game master’s as well?  The rules are guidelines and can be bent or broken depending on the group you are playing with.  There are things that you can attempt to do, and honestly half of the fun that I get from the game is the hilarious events when I fail to do something.  Out of the two groups that I play with, one weekly and the other usually monthly, no one takes the game seriously at all.  In fact we are often off topic and just joking around 90% of the time.

According to our group if there is a story to our adventures it would be centered around the two dwarfs; one being mine.  These are not your typical noble dwarfs who are honorable and stalwart companions.  They also aren’t the stereotypical drunken Scottish accented dwarfs either.  As best as I can describe them they are what I imagine frat boys would be like in a D&D setting.  They fist bump before battle, the cleric creates statues of the two (with my character having an exaggeratedly huge cod piece), drink a bit, and whenever possible get into fights with things they hate and kill them.

These two dwarfs were originally from the Eberon setting.  After a few mishaps and the fighter getting knocked around by various devils and hags, he developed a pathological hatred for anything that does enough damage to him.  In the end he takes their head as a trophy and parades them about after they have been successfully mounted onto his wagon.  During a siege on a city the group needed to blend into a traveling circus.  Having no profession other than smashing things the fighter decided he should be a rodeo clown.  This skill now gets used whenever there is a chance for hilarity.  They have also devolved the entirety of the dwarven language down to just saying dwarf, over and over again in different pitches.  It’s like a D&D version of Pokemon.  The dwarven war chant is essentially Hall of the Mountain King sung this way; though it is now sometimes Chocolate Rain.  At one point the cleric had sung one of the most ancient and holy dwarven songs in common for the pleasure of the rest of the party.  It happened to be “High Ho!  High Ho!  It’s off to work we go!”  We have also, unfortunately, found out there is such a thing as full body beard braiding.  And that the cleric is braiding from his beard down to the nether region.  Trust me, you can not forget that mental image;  I’ve tried.

Perhaps one day I shall speak of the characters that have traveled with these two dwarfs, and how they met their ends.  But as you can see, they have probably died in incredibly silly ways.  Ways that may or may not be tied to the dwarfs’ actions.

Staying on the Reading Wagon

I purchased House of Leaves three or four days ago now and just finished it.  For the most part.  I’m up to the Exhibit sections and the Appendixes, and still need to read the letters but for the most part I consider the story finished.  The unconventional way the story is presented goes a long way to making it a memorable read.  It does such a wonderful job forcing you, quite literally, to look at the story from a different perspective.  The two stories are easily identifiable and the switches between narrative are completely up to the reader.  The house itself can be unnervingly creepy, and the constant slow trickle of information does build suspense very well.  And the somewhat slow decent into madness of the first editor adds a bit to the unnerving qualities of the story.  All in all I’d say if you can get a copy it’s worth a read.  Just don’t expect to read it like a standard novel.

I have noticed an urge to read that hasn’t been there for some time.  This is even more incredible given that every time I have to deal with Chapters they tend to make my either completely irate or, at the very best, very annoyed.  Generally this is hard to do I tend to be a fairly laid back person.  However it seems like this  store knows how to push my buttons.  I don’t even fully understand why I get so upset having to deal with them.  It’s like that entire building just channels negative energy right into me.

So I have some time on my hands this weekend.  Bad Company 2 will be played, if I can actually connect to the damned EA Online servers; a process that has been hit or miss since I purchased the game last weekend.  The new Deus Ex trailer has me interested once again, and there is a craving to go through the original again.  I have also been toying with the idea of Final Fantasy XIII.  However, I haven’t actually completed a Final Fantasy game since VIII so this is unlikely.  Especially with the Dragon Age expansion coming out next week, along with Perfect Dark.  Though with the nice weather we have been having I think a relaxing walk around the neighborhood would also be a welcome reprieve from an LCD monitor/TV.

Mornings: The Bane of My Existence

Mornings are a brutal and unforgiving time of the day.  Constantly being woken up at 6:40 in the god damn morning (or if my subconscious feels like messing with me 6:39) to the alarm clock.  Showering, making lunches, eating breakfast, drinking teat,  getting dressed, dropping Kristine off at the Uni, and driving to work.  Compound this by me not being a morning person and it’s a recipe for me to be a little cranky in the morning.  Throw in fact that I couldn’t find my phone before I had to take off and it has not been a great start to the day.  The tea is what keeps me somewhat calm.

I finished The Dragon Factory last night, which may also account for how tired I am.  I powered on through the last thirty pages, mostly because I made fun of Kristine for going to sleep when she had ten pages left to read in her book.  It was a bitter-sweet ending; the world was saved but at a cost and is a good setup to the third book.  I approve of these endings.  Far to many books, TV shows, and movies tend to end on an overly cheery note.  No matter how much crap the protagonists are put through they always seem to come out on top and never really lose anything in the process.

I may or may not head out to pick up House of Leaves this evening.  Though that may or may not happen.  I picked up Bad Company 2 over the weekend and have been enjoying my time with it.  The entirely destructible buildings are a huge bonus, and help prevent camping which has always annoyed the hell out of me.  And it is definitely awesome to cause a building to collapse on a group of enemies, killing them all.  There was some connection problems over the weekend though and I didn’t get to play it as much as I wanted but last night there didn’t seem to be an issue.  The only problem is that it will be shelved on the 16th when Dragon Age: Awakening comes out.  Then there is Perfect Dark on XBLA on the 17th, Splinter Cell: Conviction in April, and Alan Wake in May I believe.

Alpha Protocol has been on my radar for a while, though I will admit that it has been  pretty low on it.  I still haven’t really seen any game play footage though from the trailer it appears to appeal to the parts of my brain that love Mass Effect.  A heavily dialog driven game with spies and martial arts and guns.  Time will tell whether or not I’ll pick it up, but it is definitely looking to be entertaining.

Reading Plans

I have been plugging away at The Dragon Factory and have been rapidly approaching the end.  I believe my initial issues that I had with Patient Zero were entirely focused on how the story was presented; with multiple view points and the switch from third to first person narrative whenever someone besides Joe Ledger was the current focus.  This time through I have not had these problems, as I went in knowing full well what I was going to get.  And it’s such an improvement that I think I’ll be re-reading Patient Zero again.  I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’m wondering if they will be continuing the story after the next book comes out next March.

I say this as I have been burned in the past.  I am an avid fan of expanded universe novels.  I have read all of the Halo novels, and while there were a few that I definitely didn’t enjoy they were mostly passable and went more into the history of everything that happened.  Likewise I have read the first Gears of War novel, and found it entertaining.  Mostly due to the fact that the first ten pages had more story than the first two games combined.  But what I am speaking of were the Perfect Dark novels.  I loved both of them and felt it was a better representation of the universe than Perfect Dark Zero managed to portray.  And it saddens me that the third novel will not come out; or at least as far as I can tell as there hasn’t been an announcement regarding it in years.

I’ve been eying up House of Leaves as the next novel I’ll be reading.  I don’t know much about it, quite literally nothing more than the name and the little blurb on the back.  However, the unconventional make up of the novel is something that appeals to me.  After this one I’m not entirely sure what I will pick up, though there is a safe bet that it will be horror related.

Just thinking

I, more often than not, spend a great deal of my time thinking.  Thinking about just about everything really.  I have a tendency to over analyze situations or imagine various outcomes to simple or mundane tasks.  Why?  I can’t say for sure.  I expect it’s a coping mechanism that I have developed over the years in an attempt to keep myself sane.  And it works, though for the longest time it kept me in a state of perpetual inability to act.  That has lessened over the last two years as I have adopted the philosophy of living in the moment.  This in turn has created my ongoing war with past me.  Try as I might that bastard always seems to win the battles.

However in one aspect this over thinking has never really harmed me.  That would be my writing.  I plot out bits and pieces, assembling them into a logic progression of events to the penultimate climax.  The constant re-examining of the plot has created some intriguing twists and turns that had never initially been there and probably wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t.  The trick is to balance the contemplative and creative with the resolve to write it all down.  Unfortunately I haven’t quite mastered that aspect yet.

I have an outline that I had been plodding away at a few months ago that for the novel.  Looking back on it I can see just how far the story has come from the initially rough and crude concept.  The childish beliefs I had when it was first created have become more focused.  The depressing outlook for humanity is still there, but as the story progresses and things become worse there is a sense of hope for the future.  It is an odd sensation, being able to reflect on revelations such as this.  Being able to see where you were and how you thought; recorded on paper in your own lettering.  To see that not only has the story changed, but realizing that with it parts of you have changed with it.  In the end realizing that all those changes are for the better.

Reanimated Cadavers

I am a bit of a fan of the entire zombie genre.  I have said in the past that I play Urban Dead, the browser-based zombie MMO.  I can’t help but love zombie movies, regardless of the quality of the movie.  They are either awesome like Zombieland or hilariously bad like Flight of the Dead.  Games based around zombies are even better.  Take the original Resident Evil games.  Horrible controls with  a silly story but I’ll be damned if they aren’t fun.  Not to mention games like Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead.

The thing is I don’t really know why I like them.  Zombies that is.  There are better pop culture monsters out there, or at least they were until Twilight decided to destroy the image of a scary vampire.  I want to say that werewolves are still awesome but the Twilight series is also forcing me to reconsider that.  Demons at least are usually what they should be, terrifying unholy creatures with immense power.  And ghosts… well Ghostbusters holds a special place in my childhood so they will always be high up on my chart of awesome things.

But zombies?  I didn’t really grow up watching those types of movies.  I had read about them of course, back in my grade school days through the Thrills & Chills magazine I got through the Scholastic program.  But it was never something that I went out of my way to experience.  I believe my first real experience with the classic zombie was Resident Evil 2 port to the N64.  From there it descended into watching some zombie movies (I watched the original Night of the Living Dead first, though I’ll be damned if I could remember much about it).  28 Days Later was my introduction to the now modern take on the zombie.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite comedies.  Hell zombies have even moved over into the strangest places: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the even more absurd Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter.  Zombies are, if nothing else, adaptive.

Thus I have been mulling about the idea of a short story involving zombies.  Now I haven’t been thinking about it for long, just over the last few days.  But I think it would be a fun diversion if I can come up with a situation that would work for it.  It wouldn’t be a comedy piece, as writing a humorous story is not as easy for me as writing something disturbing (and that realization is something I am conflicted about).  Time will tell.  I shall let that mull about in my mind for a few days and see if anything interesting comes to fruition.  I am also revisiting the project that I didn’t start last year involving urban exploration.

The World Keeps on Turning

There are things I have done that I am not proud of.  And then there are some that I am perfectly fine with and if given the option I would high five my past self for doing them.  For example I am proud of the stories I have written whether or not anyone enjoys them.  And I am less proud that I had a supper this past weekend that was entirely made up of a Dairy Queen cake.  My life it is filled with ups and downs, but if the downs are only dining on delicious ice cream then I think I’ll be able to live my life without remorse.

So it has been a long time since I have updated, more than likely a couple months at the very least.  Much has changed and much has stayed the same.  I am still, more often then not, a lazy guy who enjoys his video games.  I have been making some strides towards being a more productive member of society so there is that I suppose.  I have some ideas rattling around in my head and for better or worse they may or may not come to fruition.  However, in terms of the immediate future I plan to set aside a half hour every week day to just write about whatever comes to mind; this unfortunately will all appear here, so I apologize in advance for whatever rambling nonsense I come up with.

Mass Effect 2 was an excellent purchase.  I had high expectations going into it and was completely blown away by how much it had improved from the first one.  The graphics, frame rate, and just the core game play elements have been polished the point of damn near perfection.  I have finished it three times so far and it is one of the three games I now have a 100% gamer score on (the others being the original Mass Effect and Call of Duty Modern Warfare).  My only complaint is the horrible planet scanning process needed for upgrading your ship and equipment.  Still,  I’m eagerly awaiting more downloadable content for it, and secretly hope for either an expansion or a sequel as soon as possible.  Well, maybe not secretly.  While on the subject of gaming I picked up Heavy Rain and enjoyed it for the most part.  Some sections are annoying to a degree and I’m a little pissed off that the game froze on the last chapter and now won’t let me load it up.  I have restarted the game though, so it was an entertaining enough game for me to do that.  So I guess that says something.

I have a somewhat love/hate relationship with Chapters.  On the one hand I love books and this place has the largest collection in the city.  On the other hand I had to jump through hoops for a god damn month in order to get the first Dragon Age novel and trying to get the second was just as painful.  However on a whim I went to the store once more with the girl friend a few weeks ago.  I was in a zombie novel mood and happened upon Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry completely by chance.  I have some misgivings about how the chapters are each only a few pages long but I also like the style.  It was a page turner for me, so much so that I ended up picking up the sequel, The Dragon Factory, yesterday.  So far I haven’t been disappointed by it either.  If you are looking for an action packed novel with conspiracies, zombies, and genetic monsters give them a look.