New on Desk #88 — Featureless Week

I’ve been working well and generally making do, but sometimes there’s just no good feature topic.

Nothing to feature

My general policy for the newsletter has been to pick a feature topic to headline the letter, using one of two criteria:

Timeliness: A report on something I’ve been doing this week.

General interest: Maybe the topic is not of particular current interest in my life, but it’s nevertheless something useful or interesting that I can share.

Like for example last week I introduced you to the concept of “New Hollywood”, which makes sense if you’re like me and once didn’t know about that being a thing in cultural history studies; useful to know. That was both timely and of general interest, so good job.

Sometimes my features are kinda weak, which isn’t surprising when it’s a weekly column. This week is like that: I don’t feel like pulling an entirely unrelated topic from the desk drawer just to have something to chat about, and everything that’s been happening with me this week is either boring, repetitive or has to do with CWP texts that I’m going to be publishing anyway.

Like, this has pretty much been my week:

Writing CWPs: I did a once-over on CWP #15, Paladin Class, to bring it up to date with my fine-tuning of the Fighter class earlier. Then I wrote up CWP #17, Barbarian Class; that started as a mildly average class booklet; the Coup class booklets are usually pretty ambitious, so this one was shaping to be pretty boring in comparison. Talking it over with the Coup gang helped me figure out what’s really going on with savage spiritism, so now the Barb booklet is up to par with the rest of them. Status: no feature, I’m doing this every week and have explained the premise in the past.

Fixing restaurant AV systems: A long-term project where we fix the karaoke systems at our sister’s restaurant. The restaurant has this annoying early ’00s transitional audio system with long-ass cables connecting to active speakers, and our (as in, my and my brother’s) technical skills, while formidable, have frankly been developed with digital technology in mind, so all the static feedback loops and such sure are educational. As things stand, we’ve fixed three or four different potential problems in the system, leaving us with something that kinda works as long as you’re willing to just accept that one of a pair of loudspeakers runs 30% quieter than the other for no reason. Maybe the next shipment of Chinese plugs and cables will solve this one. Status: this could be a feature, but I’m saving it for when the project finishes.

Law𝕟et filigree: At this point in the robot lawnmower installation sage we’ve pretty much gotten all the cabling underground. It’s also been confirmed that the machine has a ~300 meter limit on the length of the signal cable, presumably caused by signal attenuation, which means that we’ll get to keep using physical blocking around the various plantations in the garden for the foreseeable future. The lawnmowing season is near finished anyway, so at this point we’re mainly running the robot to finesse details for next summer. My routine has pretty much become to check on the robot every couple of hours; at this point it keeps getting stuck somewhere maybe once every day or two, at which point I improve the blockages a bit and put it back to work. Status: I’ve been reporting on this, as far as I’m concerned it got its feature slot already.

Reading comics: I’ve read some comics this week. One’s Patsy Walker, a cutesy sitcom from Marvel Comic’s mid-’10s audience demographic push. (Read: women creators, women audiences.) Very similar in tone with Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The other is the indie superhero webcomic Grrl Power which, despite the name, is more a geeky superhero webcomic (fan stuff from fans to fans) than the kind of deconstruction Patsy is. Both comics are good, I’d recommend them! I recommend them here, that is. I’d write about both in more length (they’re good enough to deserve it), except I’d rather go and finish the comics instead. Status: this should probably have been the feature in hindsight; I’ll need to write in more length about American superhero comic feminism at some point.

Playing an idle game: I haven’t been playing these for a while, but Idle Loops was recommended to me, and it’s pretty good, so I’ve been fiddling with it a bit over the weekend. I do have to admit that I like looking at numbers going up, and optimizing systems works for this kind of brain. If you haven’t played hardcore games in this genre, then maybe try this one, but do note that the user interface is harsh, and you’re expected to discover and figure out what to do by reading the tooltips. Basic math skills are recommended (by which I mean… who the fuck knows, I have no idea what people consider basic in this field), as the conceit of the genre is basically to understand the machine you’re optimizing, which could be pretty difficult if logarithms aren’t your thing. Status: I’ll write a feature about idle games at some point if I really haven’t already.

Maybe next week I’ll have something more interesting to share. On the other hand, it might be a good move for me in general to ease off a bit with my (entirely internally motivated) newsletter rigour; nothing says that the newsletters have to be 2k+ words (feels like 5k+ is more common) and substantial every week. Just remembering to actually write this is already most of the point, trying to force a topic is more of a luxury. And if it’s a luxury that takes away from serious writing, that’s not ideal.

Monday: Coup de Main #60

The session attracted only the minimum of players — three’s our traditional minimum — but that doesn’t seem to have prevented play. Tuomas the GM summarizes:

Our braves set out to the ruined monastery of St. Clewd first thing in the morning, aiming to dig around a bit trying to find their way into the vault that supposedly hides lost magical artifacts.

Party carefully scouted the monastery grounds, mostly noting that there where crows and ravens roosting around the ruins. They climbed the belfry and found dirty children and strange undead creature made out of ravens that collected humanoid teeth and put them into taxidermy animals. Our heroes talked about possibility of bringing teeth to the creature for payment or secrets about the monastery.

Next stop was the only mausoleum on the grounds and there they found another spirit creature possessing the skeleton of the archimandrite that was missing its teeth. The creature promised to reveal secrets about the monastery if the heroes brought back archimandrite’s missing teeth.

Final stop of the evening was the actual monastery and the catacombs below it. Just the usual adventuring stuff, pushing through doors and barricades, fighting undead, seeing strange magical eruptions and meeting the locals. This time our heroes didn’t stay to talk with monks that appeared in the catacombs but returned to town to dig more information for next time.

I like how the raven spirit wants to trade secrets for teeth, but so does the ghost of the archimandrite. Somewhat exclusive side quests!

Session #61 is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday 6.9., starting around 15:00 UTC. Feel free to stop by if you’re interested in trying the game out or simply seeing what it’s like.

Tuesday: Coup in Sunndi

There wasn’t a second Coup session this week, as I’m on hiatus and we’d arranged for an old gaming pal to run Star Wars (the FFG version, I think) for the group instead! Totally random, but I think it’s good for the group socially and creatively: many of the participants haven’t played any other games, and with other GMs, so this is an opportunity for breadth of experience. I’d also like to see more of said visiting GM, so I hope she decides to stick around and play more with us.

I’ve yet to hear about how the Star Wars went, and I guess it’s not strictly speaking a newsletter topic anyway (sort of second-hand relation at this point, the only relevance is that it plays in my usual Coup slot), but unless the plans have changed the SW scenario is going to take 2–3 bimonthly sessions, so next week should be more Sunndi and then some more SW after that. I’ll need to get in touch with the group, for all that I enjoy the solitude and focus of nobody phoning me for days on end.

State of the Productive Facilities

#NameStatus
1Character CreationDone
2Fighter ClassDone
3Thief ClassDone
4Cleric ClassDone
7ExperienceDone
9Combat RulesDone
10AlignmentDone
15Paladin ClassDone
17Barbarian ClassDone
25Divine CultivationDone
26Physical CultivationEditing
27Martial ArtsDone
29Hex CrawlingEditing
30Downtime ActivitiesConcept
31Economic ModelingConcept
32RetinuesConcept
36Magic ItemsConcept
38Campaigning in GreyhawkConcept
40Sanity and StressConcept
42More OathboundDone

I finished CWP #17, Barbarian Class, this week. 12/20 done, and the booklets are exciting at least to me; I think we’ve been developing good content here! I’m dreaming of finishing with these this month.

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