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angusabranson July 23 2014, 16:03

(Kickstarter) Wild Card Symphonies Poetry Collection Launched!

I've just launched my new Kickstarter project, "Wild Card Symphonies", a 128 page book of poems that I've written.

The campaign page can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/440453703/wild-card-symphonies-poetry-collection so please drop by and have a look and if you're interested in supporting me please make a pledge and/or share the link to let others know!

You can read some of the poems that are included over athttp://angusabranson.livejournal.com/409677.html.

I'm not expecting the campaign to set the world on fire, as poetry campaigns generally don't do very well on Kickstarter, but it's a way of finally being able to publish even a few copies


angusabranson July 23 2014, 10:04

(Poetry) Japanese Inn

Japanese Inn

But never again,

I put my trust in you.
And what did you do?
You just turned and walked,
Turned....and walked away.

Walked away.

You threw me a smile
And that good-bye look.
Laughing as you left
Through my door.
Straight through my heart
Without a prayer,
At all.

You told them

Of our last secret
Without even touching the wine
They tried to give,
They were told to give.

Now as I pass
The Japanese inn,
Where the legend unfolds,
Janey’s diary is opened
For all the world.
And the secrets come out.
And the last secret,
Is told.

But never again,
I put my trust in you.
And what did you do?
You just turned and walked,
Turned....and walked away.

Walked away.
You threw me a smile
And that good-bye look.
Laughing as you left
Through my door.
Straight through my heart.
Without a prayer,
At all.

And now you’ve spilled
Innocent blood.
And instead of a letter,
Instead of Eden,
You inherit the wind
And the colour
Of the moon.

Now you live in sweet danger
As the sun sets at dawn.
Now it’s not only make-believe
That’s coming for you,
It’s the ruins of tarot,
And the wind
From the moon.

Now as I pass
The Japanese inn,
Where the stolen kisses stand,
Janey’s diary is opened
And the world understands
Why secrets,
Sometimes should remain untold.

I put my trust in you,
As the smile leaves your face,
As you read the words.
As you cry alone.
As the sun comes to an end,
And you scream it’s not true.
It’s a wicked heart that’s hidden
As you dance to the tune.

I throw you a smile
And that good-bye look,
As I walk away,
As I walk to Eden,
Without a prayer at all
For you.

And a sad wind
Blows from the sea.

By A R J Abranson
(Taken From ' Wild Card Symphonies')

archangelbeth July 23 2014, 04:29

Another busy day!

0: Discover that it's a good thing I washed the Black Pants laundry yesterday. O:p Cramps suck.

1: Get kid to photo class/camp thing.

2: Breakfast.

3: Home, briefly. Making appointment for Ivan with the vet. Then chiropractor appointment for me.

4: because going to wait in the hot parking lot would be waiting, and going home would be turning around and coming back, go to buy bird seed and soft food for Mr. Bites Food And Drops It From Mouth.

5: Pick up kid. Go to Subway because that's what kid wants for food.

6: Spend 45 minutes in the bathroom with Ivan, stirring up the food so he'll come back and lick it. (He does, nearly the entire time, actually. He just doesn't bite it.)

7: take Ivan to vet. Ivan has Cataracts, arthritis, and now needs to be eating supplements for his joints, and special extra-gooshy food that will cling to his tongue and get some calories into him even if he won't take bites of anything. He will also be weighed weekly, and if doing well, is gonna get teeth-cleaned in a month or so.

8: horn lesson.

9: Trash Night! While sifting litterboxen, discover some Probably-Ivan deposits, probably from after vet-visit. Finally! Ivan also is more willing to go up and down stairs after me. Spend more time in the bathroom, giving Ivan more soft food to lick.

Havva Quote
Politics is a youth's game,
A man's profession,
And an elder's art form.
--Cymelian/Imperial proverb

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princeofcairo July 22 2014, 21:02

ENnie Body Out There

The ENnie Awards voting is now open, so it must be time to electioneer for the only candidate who truly believes what you truly believe, namely that I should get more ENnie Awards. Or as it usually shakes out, fractions of ENnie Awards:

Vote for a tenth of an ENnie for me for The Kobold Guide to Magic (Best Aid/Accessory)!

Vote for a fiftieth of two ENnies for me for Hillfolk (Best Game and Product of the Year)!

Vote up a big fifth of an ENnie for me for Deadlands Noir Companion (Best Supplement)!

Let's call it a thirtieth of one ENnie for me for Page XX (Best Website)!

Vote for another fiftieth of an ENnie for me for Achtung! Cthulhu Keeper's Guide (Best Writing)!

Although it violates the core principle of everything we've worked so hard to achieve, I'd appreciate it if you'd vote for a product I had nothing to do with: Eternal Lies (Best Adventure)!

And last but never least, a whole HALF of an ENnie can be mine if you but vote for Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff for Best Podcast!

By my calculations, if we all pull together and vote in the Ken Fractional Slate, I'll rake in 89% of an ENnie Award! And that's something we can all be 89% proud of.

Customarily, I close by sharing something that's nothing to do with me or the ENnies as an election-season gift to you my beloved friends. So here's some absolutely top-shelf best-of-breed eliptony: the 72 Goëtic demons as drawn by the remote viewer Aaron Donahue, "perhaps the most skilled technical remote viewer in the world." Perhaps!
fadethecat July 22 2014, 20:14

General Update

* Pixel seems to be doing quite well! At least, she's flinging herself at the fence while barking madly at some unseen bit of wildlife, again, and while she clearly doesn't like the fans or lack of carpets/dogbed/etc., she's generally looking about as happy as ever. A good sign.

* The AC is currently working again; after two emergency calls, and then a check-in to make sure it wasn't about to fall over the same way a third time, it's running just fine. Sadly, "fine" means that it's lucky to get the hottest parts of the house to stay below 90 during the day, or at 85 at night, but that's what happens when you have sixteen industrial fans and two giant dehumidifiers running constantly in a well-insulated house while Texas Summer happens outside. (If only it were January; we could save so much on heating.)

* The disaster people came back and ripped up all the wooden flooring, which got rid of the unsettling fish-like odor. (Why water-soaked wood planks would make the house smell like fish I don't know and don't want to know.) So that's progress, and one more step towards fixing everything. If we are very lucky, they'll be able to even take away all those fans and dehumidifiers on Wednesday. Fingers crossed.

* We went and looked at porcelain tile on Monday morning. Tile, because if water happens like this again we don't want to have to rip out flooring ever again; porcelain, because the guy at the giant store of flooring types told us firmly that if we were concerned about that, porcelain tile would absorb NOTHING from water immersion and was more durable than ceramic in general. (The price certainly indicates that, but, hey. Cheaper than some things.) I had a meltdown over hating all the tile options ever--I was perhaps a bit overwhelmed at the time--and then the nice flooring salesman came back and showed me an aisle I hadn't realized had porcelain tile. Did you know they make sort of pseudo-wood planks out of porcelain? I do now! So that was encouraging. Once the damn fans are gone we'll call installation people to put new floors in.

* Um. I am sort of losing track of things. I paid for a damaged library book, Zabina is delightful when she's not sinking horrifically sharp teeth into my body, it would be nice to clear out enough of the kitchen and have enough electricity free to be able to cook dinner again... That seems to cover stuff. I also need to exchange the water-damaged cable modem for a new one, if I can ever figure out where we put the box it's in.

This entry was originally posted at http://fadeaccompli.dreamwidth.org/106203.html. Comment wherever you like.
archangelbeth July 22 2014, 04:10

Very. Busy. Day.

1: Took Kid to photography camp/class/thing.

2: Mailing Death Certs to my mom so she can get social security canceled.

3: Depositing Checks at bank. (Anthem "refund" -- they didn't spend enough on medical expenses, so the ACA makes them give back some of what I paid, yay! -- and a SJGames check.)

4: Breakfast.

5: Calling vet to see about appointment for Ivan. Who has STILL not pooped. Though he does stick his nose in foodbowls frequently (or did yesterday), I am not sure how much is getting in his stomach. Got vet's answering machine. O:p

6: Picked up kid. Got her lunch at Subway. Came back home briefly.

7: Went on Long Drive.

8: Returned. Message on answering machine from vet. Realized we needed to get new shoes for kid (she is size 8 in sneakers now; grownup sneakers). I was desperate for a shower, so I went and took one and kid and spouse went and got shoes.

9: ...no, I have no brains. ...I have no quote for the day, either. I am sorry. Please think good things for Ivan. I am worried about His Elegance.

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whswhs July 21 2014, 03:47

first session: Tapestry

Tapestry's first session was largely devoted to preparatory business, with bits of explicit roleplaying fitted in. The five player characters, partners in owning a small merchant ship, decided when and where to sail on their first voyage (during the midyear sailing season, and on established trade routes to Flumen Anguipes, possibly Cuniculi Longi, and Forum Metallicum) and what to carry (three-fourths export products, including cedar, linen, and smoked salmon; one-fourth luxuries, of which half represented an error of judgment and would never be sold; plus five tons of consignments, for which they got half payment up front). This dictated provisioning and crew selection (they were legally required to hire through the Seafarers' Guild, which assigned them a crew of six to report on the day of departure).

One long roleplaying scene involved their calling on Yarikh, a wealthy local nixie landowner who raised medicinal herbs and brewed mead. Nergul entered his house by a land-dweller's tunnel, but the rest used the formal entrance, which involved swimming; unfortunately Raintooth wasn't as good at swimming as he thought, and Hanno had to rescue him. Sangmu, a troll healer and shaman, talked with him about herbs over dinner, and demonstrated the use of tobacco, an herb she had been introduced to by a troll pilgrim from Occasia, the western continent. Raintooth and Nergul, the two ghouls, were socially awkward, but Yarikh, like most nixies, was adaptable and didn't take offense. Yarikh both lent them a substantial amount of money to spend on more cargo, and gave them a note of introduction to his business agent in Portus Argenti, who could sell them herbs for export.

Before they left, Bengta got a visit from Elissa, a local nixie who asked about signing on as the ship's girl. Bengta, a selkie, wasn't familiar with the idea, and consulted with Hanno, a nixie, who had heard of it; they considered Elissa's terms and decided to let her sign on. In fact Hanno was the first to take advantage of her services during the voyage (to establish his prerogative as senior owner!).

With support from Raintooth and Nergul, Bengta hired a carpenter to build a hidden compartment into the ship—all three of them might have reason to want to hide from view!

The ship sailed for Flumen Anguipes, hoping to buy figs, olives, and olive oil for export to Forum Metallicum, which imported a lot of agricultural products for the dwarves of Fodina Magna. The voyage went well, though the crew wasn't fully accustomed to the ship; they had fair weather and made port after eight days.
archangelbeth July 21 2014, 02:21

Don't start your day like this.

Okay, so Ivan hadn't pooped at all in the night, and for obvious reasons I was freaking out. So we wound up taking him to the emergency vet, first thing.

Where we stayed for 3-4 hours. I sent the kid and spouse over to eat at the next-door restaurant, but stayed with Ivan myself.

Eventually, some blood tests and a blood pressure test later, the vet says she thinks that it's probably arthritis. She assured me twice that it didn't feel like he was blocked up in the intestines, so I am mostly okay.

So we brought him home and will be getting supplements for him -- he's losing muscle in his hind legs, which is not good -- and consider whether a painkiller shot might be a good idea, or prednisone, or what.

Except we had to stop on the way so spouse could pick up uncle from his (spouse's) mom's house, and drive down to uncle's house.

So it was past 2 by the time I had anything to eat but a thyroid pill. (Around 6, I went back to pick up spouse.)

Needless to say, the only thing I have done is amass some treasure on Flight Rising, because brains.

Plus I am still worried about Ivan, who still has not produced proper poopings, but who has been wandering around discontentedly.

Havva Quote
C, watching Sleeping Beauty, quotes: "You poor, simple fools. Thinking you could defeat me. Me! the mistress of all evil!"
N says, "Who's the wife of all evil?"
--from the MUSH

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spacecrime July 20 2014, 18:00

2014 Reading #70

Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of MoneyDemocracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money by David S. Broder

I'm not sure if David Broder thought he was on to a compelling problem when he wrote this book, but fourteen years after its publication it just seems quaint. With authoritarian governments on the loose around the world, a post 9/11 security state at home, and Congress seemingly determined to seek out new lows of futility, ballot initiatives rank very low on the list of political problems to worry about.

Broder has also misdiagnosed the problem. There's nothing inherently wrong with the initiatives he describes. Some of them are good ideas, some of them seem pretty dumb, and many of them get promoted with a mix of truth and lies. That's par for the course in politics, and the ballot initiative system seems to be functional and useful as a whole.

The problem, as Broder points out, is that ballot initiatives are also expensive, so the system favors interests with deep pockets. Big Money is a problem, but it's a problem that affects all political systems, not ballot initiatives in particular. Broder seems to be looking for solutions to ballot initiatives, when he should be looking for ways to reduce the distortion of Big Money in politics. There may be some contrarian ways to do that: what if you lowered the signature threshold so that it didn't take so much money to get on the ballot? What if you created a crowdfunding system so that citizen groups could fund their causes without relying on businesses and multi-millionaire donors? There may be lots of ways to improve the ballot initiative process, but glaring at it and declaring your fealty to James Madison is unlikely to help.
fadethecat July 20 2014, 00:19

No subject

So, since the last update, we had professional disaster recovery people come in and go "...your walls are wet and even the floors you thought were dry are not dry, we need to rip this all up NOW before mold sets in." And thus, with the desperately needed help of dear friends, we have:

1) packed up as much of the books as we could, plus most bedding and any other damn thing sitting around on any flat surface;

2) moved EVERYTHING into either the living room or the kitchen;

3) ripped the carpet out of three rooms;

4) tried to stay out of the way of the professionals as they pried off all the baseboard in the house and drilled holes in the wall.

Plus, you know, frantic trips to acquire boxes or what not, and a lot of despairing at mattresses and dressers. And trying to keep pets out of the way and in the house. (George and Zabina spent a few hours in carriers, being unhappy at everything; Peejee, who hid at the top of the closet, nearly got a suitcase thrown onto her while I was prepping to rip out the carpet in there.) The only flooring of the entire house that's salvageable is the kitchen tile; everything else has to go, and have the floor beneath dried before we can even replace it.

Oh, but they can't take out the wood floors (mostly the living room and some hallway) until they bring in a special machine, because it turns out the people who had this house before us put in some really nice floors! (Which, aside from the kitchen, are now dead. Sigh. I liked those wood floors. They were pretty and sturdy under normal conditions.) So at some point in the indefinite future they'll come back to take those floors up, and at that point I have no idea where we're going to move all the stuff piled up in the entire living room, unless they come for the wooden floors so late that the carpet-stripped concrete has finished drying.

Oh, and the house is full of GIANT FANS that are running constantly. For at least the next three days. We have to shout to hear each other.

Oh, and because the giant fans use so much electricity, we're supposed to use as little as possible to avoid blowing fuses. They said specifically not to turn on the lights. So we have a lot of flashlights. And the pets are not happy. Including Pixel, who is still a bit sick, and is refusing to eat more than a few bites of her food at any mealtime.

So we get to sit around in a giant cluttered smelly damp wind tunnel with no internet for a few days. In the dark.

Tomorrow I'd just sit at the coffee shop /all day/, if it weren't for the pets. Will probably be there half the day anyway.

This entry was originally posted at http://fadeaccompli.dreamwidth.org/105818.html. Comment wherever you like.
archangelbeth July 19 2014, 21:15


Well, aside from the unfinished one, which I hope I managed to continue-the-theme through effectively. (I think I'm more pleased by how I... well, by how I now intend for it to turn out. In that respect. Which I don't want to talk about openly just now.)

I now need to open the OTHER file, which I know is also pointing out problematic things. Which, of course, I want to fix, but I also want to be done with this blighted albatross. Hopefully, though, many of the problematic things will have been fixed in a prior pass, yay?

Must re-contact artist, who was last seen having a honeymoon. *grin*

Crossing fingers that my website wizard will not get an attack of life and thus I will eventually have a Real Author Website!

Still need to get the blighted Doing Business As thing sorted out. Also need to ship down the Death Certificates to my mom, so that she can figure out if anyone bothered to tell Social Security that my sire died. Among other stuff.

Also need to read things for people, finish an online course, and worry about Ivan-the-Cat, because Ivan has been acting all puny and sad today. And purring while he was eating and drinking, which could be a goo sign, or could be stress-purring. If he is not better by Monday Morning, he is going to see the vet. (I like our vet a great deal, but frankly, I do wish we didn't have to see her more than once a year.)

Havva Quote
Snowflakes Upon Stone: the name for a coat coloration in horses, created via alchemy. It's a particular shade of dark gray with white spotting.
--Crucible glossary

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archangelbeth July 19 2014, 04:41

Two more chapters...

Still working on cleaning up some stuff from the partial-readthrough-notes; addressing that meant I needed to clarify some stuff where originally one of the characters was a little more waffly. Muwhahahaha! ...that probably won't make sense even to the person who pointed out the problem. >_>

Took a little jaunt into Ice Crown Citadel with a couple of friends. One needs something or other from there for a quest, and the other'd never been. We got a pretty good ways in before B.C. had to pumpkin!

Havva Quote
Disney owns Marvel.
Marvel owns Thor.
Thor is the son of a king.
Thor is now female.
Thor is now a Disney princess.
--@LordRavenscraft on Twitter

(...I can live with this pretty happily, actually.)

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fadethecat July 19 2014, 03:25

No subject

Pixel is now home! And doing a lot of curling up. She's on a strict diet (fresh chicken and rice, oh poor doggy) for seven days, plus some minor meds for nausea and any continuing allergic reaction. Which means I ran to the grocery store, bought meds and a pill compartments thing to track it, cooked rice and chicken, cut lots of meds into tiny pills while Rob cut up the chicken, added her new pills to a nice fresh bowl of chicken and rice...

She did at least eat /some/ of it, but boy this dog is not up for a lot of eating tonight. And she ate around her pills, so now I have to figure out what to do about that; even if she were allowed to eat anything more delicious, which she's not, she doesn't seem hungry at all. But I don't want to pill her like I would a cat when she's already feeling so low... Sigh. I've called the vet to find out.

But at least she's home.

This entry was originally posted at http://fadeaccompli.dreamwidth.org/105595.html. Comment wherever you like.
fadethecat July 19 2014, 00:55

Not Quite Disastrous

...because, really, a disaster is huge. I have merely been highly inconvenienced over the last twenty-four hours. Let's see.

1) Came home from Bonus Greek to find that Pixel, who'd been lethargic and not eating overnight and in the morning, was up and moving around. Yay! Right up until she started horking up all the water she was drinking, then foam. So I drove her off to the vet at 4:30.

2) About three hours later, I finally left the vet, having paid them a large (but not unreasonable) sum of money to do several tests, and then keep her overnight for 12 hours of fluids by IV, monitoring, and so forth. They promised to call between 6am and 7am to let me know if I could pick her up or not, and for any emergency otherwise.

3) At about 10:30pm, an enormous storm that had been pounding the area took the power out. We all shrugged and went to bed.

4) Rob discovered that Pixel had also barfed on his side of the bed, and decided to sleep on the couch.

5) ...which was for the best, because at 3am he woke up wondering why the house was so humid, and discovered that water was forming giant shallow puddles in several rooms, having come in through the baseboards. Cue: me getting up, lots of moving fragile items out of the way of incoming water, towels being laid down, and then me going back to bed, because I might need to drive somewhere at 6:30am.

6) Vet called at 6:30am. Pixel was doing better, but they wanted to keep her another twelve hours. I agreed, charged my card for another large sum of money to cover the next twelve hours of care, and went back to sleep.

7) At 11am or so, I went with Rob to visit Pixel. Who was up! Tail wagging to see us! And she even agreed to eat more of the chicken (poor dog, to have such hospital food as that) they were trying to coax her onto so long as we were there to watch her do it. Then I took Rob to work, bought dinner things and some new air filters for the sadly taxed AC, and went back home.

8) ...where I proceeded to put dry towels down on the extremely soaked carpets of two rooms, stomp on them until they absorbed some water, rinse/spin/dry them, and repeat, for several hours.

9) Plus a call to the internet service to find out if their service was out, or if the water-damaged modem was broken. It was the latter. We get to go pick up a new one tomorrow.

10) ...along with pack up everything in the office and the small bedroom, move it out, and rip up all the carpet, because honestly the carpet probably isn't salvageable and we've wanted new floors for a while there anyway.

11) I'm now waiting for an 8pm phone call that will tell me if Pixel can come home, or needs another twelve expensive hours of monitoring/fluids, and also if she really needs that very expensive test they were considering for a rare problem she might possibly have, depending. Though probably it's just an allergic reaction to something. Probably.

So. Yeah. That brings us to now. It is proving to be an exceedingly expensive month.

God, I hope we don't need to replace a lot of drywall.

This entry was originally posted at http://fadeaccompli.dreamwidth.org/105393.html. Comment wherever you like.
dr_kromm July 18 2014, 23:23

Another week in the life of GURPS

This week is named Lyn. The news:

Pyramid #3/69 has passed its review and is well on its way to a timely July release.

GURPS High-Tech: Adventure Guns, by Hans-Christian Vortisch, is now in art approval.

GURPS Power-Ups 8, by PK (peekitty), is also in art approval.

• I am presently reviewing something that has long been stuck, so that it will get unstuck. Oh, and it has passed art approval, too.

• I turned in the first draft of my grim little writing project.

Lots of other stuff made progress, too, I'm proud to say! I think I feel a pulse . . .
spacecrime July 18 2014, 05:01

2014 Reading #69

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

There was such an easy way to write this story: Katniss Everdeen discovers her heroic side. She is honed to perfection by her adventures, inspires the rebellion, shakes off those who would control her, and then leads a stalwart band of insurgents into the heart of darkness for a climactic showdown with President Snow. Preferably with some amazing bowshots and both Gale and Peeta's lives in the balance.

And that almost happens, but not the way you'd think. Suzanne Collins is playing a deeper and more subversive game. She stays deep in Katniss's head and away from the heroics. The war is fought with propaganda, Katniss's videos sound uncomfortably like Osama bin Laden's, and the supposedly heroic rebels are just the other side of the Coin.

Did I mention how much I love Collins's character names?

The result is a lot more Catcher Than the Rye than Star Wars, and I wouldn't be surprised if the tone and the ending has pissed some readers off. (I also have no idea how they're going to turn this into a movie.) But it's a much stronger book than if Collins had taken the easy route, and it's going to stay with me for a while.
peekitty July 18 2014, 04:12

After the End: Week One

Click here for the campaign/character summary.

While resting at Davos (a stable settlement built around a vault, where Hank has many friends), both Luke and Hank heard a reliable rumor that, about a week ago, a "flying vehicle" of some sort crashed into the mountain ridge south of Davos. Both Kristen and Daniel Swan (recent emigrants to Davos) and Roth Overland (a friendly trader) heard the same thing from different sources. Roth wasn't interested in checking it out ("I don't like anything I have to rebuild"), but Hank certainly was -- if nothing else, he was sure Hodge could salvage enough of the wreckage to build some amazing toys!

The group set out for Lake Davos, about four days travel south. They worked on a plan, and decided that although the vehicle had crashed into the west side of the mountain, they'd start on the east side where a semi-active volcano was. Hodge was hoping to score some sulfur from a hot spring (often found near volcanoes) to make gunpowder. Past that, they knew bandits were on the mountain, but it seemed unlikely that the bandits would know what to do with aircraft wreckage.

Omar was scouting ahead on skis as the rest of the group trudged behind in snowshoes. He spotted a pack of nine ratdogs ahead, and had time to get back to warn the others. They readied weapons and formed a semicircle around Gertrude (the mule) to protect her. Omar took out two with his rifle, then drew a knife for close combat. Val downed one with her bow, then pulled out a club. Hank flung his throwing axes, then fell back on his cutlass to dispatch two. Hodge stayed on the wagon, firing his pump shotgun. And Dr. Luke put an arrow in one, but then went on the defensive until Hodge could put a load of shot into his foe. Two ratdogs ran, but Omar put one down and Val chased the other to beat it to death with her club.

They'd traveled some distance, so the doctor patched up the wounded and then buried the ratdog carcasses while Val hunted a wild boar (taking it out with one arrow through the eye) and the others set up camp.
peekitty July 18 2014, 03:57

After the End: Campaign and Character Summary

After the End: A post-apocalyptic journey

What the Characters Know: Nearly a century ago, the world ended. You don't have all of the answers, but you know it started with The Disease -- whether it was natural or a manmade weapon is unknown. Within months, the majority of the people in the world were dead or dying. War broke out, among nations but also within them, as brother fought brother out of paranoia and desperation. Between the sickness and the violence, there were few people left. Over time, The Disease split into a hundred variations, some affecting animals, plants, etc.; the changes to the ecosystem, and the "bounce-back" from the collapse of industry, changed the climate. It's hard to say specifics, but we know it didn't used to be this . . . cold.

What the Players Know: Everyone alive today descended from the few people naturally immune to The Disease, but that doesn't mean much today as it's mutated severely, so disease in general is still a problem. Other issues include an overly cold climate, leftover ordnance and munitions, and other people (loosely divided into "friendly settlements," "not so friendly settlements," "bandit camps," and "paramilitary bases"). Morality is gray, nothing cinematic is turned on (except for allowing the tech to build things unrealistically fast, as it fits the post-apoc genre so well), and you need to track every bullet, every ration, etc. There is no money in this setting, only barter, but bullets have become a de facto currency.

The Characters

Rob as Hank Tannen (Fast Trader/Sweet-Talker): A traveling merchant who talked the others into joining up for mutual aid. Think of Malcolm Reynolds -- he does the job, he gets paid, and he's damn good with a weapon but won't use it unless he absolutely has to. Hank relies on a cutlass and throwing axes, because shooting bullets is like throwing away money.

Sean as "Hodge Podge" (Experienced Tech/Repairman): A confident and brilliant dwarf, who excels at fixing and inventing things. Sometimes his stuff blows up, but that was probably your fault for misusing it! Hodge hoards junk on the off chance that he might need it, but also acts as quartermaster and teamster, guiding his mule Gertrude as she pulls the team's wagon.

Wayon as Dr. Luke Vladmore (Learned Doc/Shrink): A friendly and outgoing healer who knows as much about the mind as the body, warning Hank when other people are lying or hiding information. He travels with Jamie, his girlfriend and medical assistant whom he met at a settlement some time back. He was raised to respect "the old ways" and is the team's expert on the past.

Josh as Omar Thompson (Fast Scavenger/Ghost): A sniper, recon, and master of the urban environment. He's a weird mix of loner and team player, preferring to assist the others from a distance. He generally scouts ahead to spot danger, neutralizing it as necessary with his 7.62 rifle; its ammunition isn't "cheap," but he can generally make one-shot kills.

Amy as Val Hartlage (Experienced Hunter/Survivor): A natural for nature, who understands how to survive in almost any environment. She's a dead-shot with a bow, an expert tracker, and is surprisingly stealthy for someone so freakishly tall. She dislikes settlements and the people who live in them, and can't stand being crowded, so she looks forward to traveling.

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