28 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #30 - 198 Addison Avenue

St. Louis, Missouri
198 Addison Avenue
30-JUN-2007  1305

    Amber settled back with her third coffee of the day.  Maria sat beside her on the couch.  "Wouldn't it be easier to just use an IV drip?"

27 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #29 - Commentary

As always, please read the chapter first.

Last week's installment was a calmer one, giving Rose, Elena, and me a breather after the action in #28.  Throughout Lethal Ladies, I gained a rhythm - burst of action followed by time spent for reactions and regrouping.  I tend to do the same thing even now, but with a better eye to pacing.

The bit about going barefoot is from Die Hard, name-checked by Elena and Rose.  "Snape" is Alan Rickman, who played Hans in Die Hard.  This time around, Elena doesn't have to fight off a heist disguised as a terrorist attack.  The bit, taking off shoes and kneading and rolling your toes on the rug, does work, even after a train ride.  It gives your feet a chance to get out of a pair of shoes and relax a little.

I used another of Rose and Elena's cryptic callbacks, but broke the trend.  This time around, Elena referenced a job that Rose wasn't on.  I had Rose make fun of the idea that Elena was seeing other spies.  The goal was to show that the two women weren't always facing off against each other.  Minor world building, really, but hopefully made the setting feel more real world and believable.

The radio news is a cheap way to let the Ladies know what's going on.  A shooting in what is supposed to be a quiet neighbourhood should be major news.  This also lets me bring Lepinski back.  He's a useful supporting character.  He gave me a chance to show a more playful side to Elena and a way to get information from the Ladies to the police.  Rose isn't as happy with the playful banter and got straight to the point.

Most of the chapter is filler, recapping what has happened.  Helps for word count, might be useful* for a serial.  The extra is Rose asking for FBI involvement.  He reasoning is sound, but tempered by the her daughter's kidnapping.  Lepinski does understand, in part because there is history with him and the Ladies that hasn't been written yet.  His drive-by reconaissance is easier because he's not one of the Ladies.

Tomorrow, Sexton strikes at Rose's weak spot.
Coming soon, gaming work.

* Of course, how useful is up to readers.  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

24 Feb 2014

Story Concept - Galactic West

Story concepts are odd.  They can strike at any time.  Take Galactic West, for example.  The entire character concept came from a line of thought while considering commentary topics for the next serial.  The line involved directions in the galactic plane.  The result?

"There is no galactic north, south, or east, but there is a Galactic West, Space Adventurer!"

That quote up there?  That's the germ of the story concept.  Once Galactic West became a possible character, my mind just grabbed him and started trying to figure out who he is.  And he is a space adventurer, whatever that might be.

After a bit more thought, mainly on the bus ride home from work, I figured out who he is, what he does, and who works with him.  Galactic West, Space Adventurer is a chiseled chin hero who isn't too bright.  He has a ship, but he needs people to help him run it.  This is where his long suffering assistant comes in.  She keeps the ship running and the space adventuring profitable.  I briefly played with the idea that Galactic West gets all the credit while she does the work, but that has been done and overdone.  Instead, the assistant, who really needs a name, but will have to do without until I flesh her out more, lets Galactic take all the credit so she can work in the shadows while he gets all the attention.

The story falls under science fiction.  Space Adventurers work in space, obviously.  I will have to figure out how large the story's universe is, whether it covers the entire galaxy or more, or just an arm of the Milky Way.  I do want a maintenance robot of some sort.  Nothing humanoid and nothing like the droids from Star Wars.  The robot is a General Industries Mechanobot model 4413 that comes with attachments for all sorts of tool kits, from starship repair to home maintenance.  If you go to you neighbourhood HyperMart, tool kits for the Mechanobot are buy one, get one 50% off*.  Oh, the Mechanobot doesn't have a personality chip.

Eventually, I will have a more fleshed out setting, with the details I need to have Galactic West have his space adventures.  The tone is already set; light action with humour, some of it slapstick.  Think Inspector Gadget meets Star Wars meets City Hunter.

This won't be in consideration for NaNo2014.  Galactic West, Space Adventurer needs time to gel.  The idea will be a fun one to look at and play with, though.

* Participating stores only.  Some restrictions apply.  Offer expires on the day the Freedonian Moons align as one.  Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

21 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #29 - Velasco Investigations

St. Louis, Missouri
Velasco Investigations
30-JUN-2007  1235

    Rose massaged her knees as she waited for the coffee to brew.  "I'll take the blame for the mess," she said.

    "You didn't know."  Elena took off her shoes.  "Oh, that's much better."

    Allison walked into the break room, the papers from Lund in her arms.  She wrinkled her nose.  "Oh, man, what died here?"

20 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #28 - Commentary

Again, please read the chapter before continuing.

A somewhat short chapter last week, but made up with action.  This chapter was meant to build up to the new climax.  As long as I could keep the conflict going, I could get more words written.  At this point, I just wanted to reach the end.  While, now, fifty thousand words isn't a difficult goal to reach, it was back in 2006.  Exhaustion had long set in, and getting to the end was similar to the last kilometre of a marathon.  Having Sexton be an utter bastard helped me out of several corners I had written myself into.

First up, leaving Allison in Elena's car.  Rose and Elena are experienced spies.  They have seen far more than they have told, or are allowed to tell.  Both of the older women have seen the likes of Sexton before.  Allison, on the other hand, is a computer technician.  She has some training in self defense, plus extra from working with Rose and Elena.  Allison is not in the same league as Sexton, though.  Which is fine; Rose and Elena hired her for her technical skills, an area they knew they were lacking.  Allison got to set up a network of her own to play with, keeping it secure while defeating other network admin's security for pay.  She would be the first to tell anyone that she does not like to fight.

Next, Elaine Malcolm's home.  Suburban Avenue is a real street in St. Louis.  The oddness of the name was why I chose it.  Again, hooray for Google Maps as a research aid.  The actual house does not; the building owes more to The Sims 2, where I've expanded starter homes and added second floors, than anything in St. Louis.  The mess in the kitchen is to show that not only do people live in the house but that they've been busy with other issues.

Sexton managed to bandage himself, with Elaine's help.  He can't go to a hospital; the law requires gunshot wounds to be reported to the police.  Rose got around Amber's wound by having a somewhat friendly police detective on hand.  Sexton doesn't have that luxury, though he may have contacts elsewhere who could bury the report once he has the time to talk to them.

I knew I needed Elaine Malcolm for the scene.  I really didn't have a plan for her beyond hiding Sexton.  However, I did realize that she wasn't a field agent.  Her reaction to someone pointing a gun at her in her own home was perfectly reasonable.  Her reaction also eliminated the surprise Rose and Elena had.  A gun battle, though, added action that was missing for a few chapters.

I didn't want a car chase here.  Car chases lead to two results.  The first is the pursuers crash, letting the pursued get away.  The second is the pursued crashes, letting the pursuers catch up and take him into custody.  The second result would be too soon; I wasn't at 50 000 words yet.  The first would require me to work out the chase route, add reactions, add yelling, and would give me many more words but would also leave me with Rose, Elena, and Allison injured and possibly not in a shape to continue the story.  Thus, Sexton shot out the wheels of the Mercedes.  I checked myself, though; hitting a car is easy, hitting a tire isn't.  Sexton's shotgun was useful here; he didn't have to aim, just point in the general direction.

Tomorrow, police interference.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Lost in Translation will have something.
Coming soon, gaming, writing, and more!

18 Feb 2014

NaNoPrep 2014 - Unruly Girls

In the intro post for NaNo 2014, one of the potential stories was The Unruly Girls.  The story has been percolating for a bit.  I've already created a few notes for the story, originally working out in my head as a serial or possibly a web comic*, but could easily become a novel with some work.  I'm not quite sure what the genre is right now.  It might be Young Adult, but not all works featuring young heroes and heroines fall into the category.  Stephen King's It has pre-teens as the central characters, yet the story is definitely not YA.  Likewise, South Park, despite having kids as the main characters, isn't for kids.

For now, let's call the story YA, with elements of weird science and the supernatural tossed in.

The working title is The Unruly Girls, knocked down from The School for Unruly Girls.  Other options were Impudentes Puellae and Lascivae Puellaedr, Latin translations of "unruly girls".  The Latin titles are being held on reserve for now, "puellae" being too associated with chickens ("pullets") for me.  The school also needs a name.  For now, it's the School for Troubled Girls, but the girls aren't so much troubled as they are trouble.  The school is in Cottage Country, Ontario, near a, for now, fictional town that Oshawa could double as.  I may have to take the train to Oshawa for photography.  Or, I could just borrow Kingston instead.

The school does have the usual trappings of high school, coupled with being a private school for girls.  Officially, the school takes the young dears in and gives them the education they need to graduate and become proper citizens contributing to society.  Unofficially, the school takes the hellcats in and channels their desires so they can graduate and become the movers and shakers of the world.  There are sports teams; it's considered a good season if a team hasn't been kicked out of its league.  The mascot is the Phoenix, coming from the school's coat of arms, and represents the rebirth and return from defeat.

I've worked out the both the school's coat of arms, sanguine a bend sinister argent with phoenix displayed tawny, and achievement at arms, which is the coat of arms supported by a woman with a scroll on the right and a woman with a sword on the left.  At some point, both will need to be drawn.  The women in the achievement at arms represent knowledge and power, with the girls learning how to use both by the time they graduate.  The school's motto is "Concidimur sed resurgimus (Subjectos nos non retinebitis);" or, in English, "I get knocked down but I get up again (You're never going to keep me down)."  Indeed, the Latin does scan to the melody.  Hat tip to my Classics instructor cousin and her husband for the work there.

On to the cast of characters.  The next block is how it appears in my notes.
Caitlin - 6th year student (Grade 12), leader.  Keeps her hair short, trim.  Uniform is always ironed (not necessarily by Caitlin, but ironed); skirt remains above the knee, blouse properly tucked in, jacket always worn between classes.  Military bearing, though Caitlin wouldn't look out of place in a corporate executive suite behind the big desk.  At the school for leading insurrections at previous schools.

Skye - 6th year student (Grade 12), sports girl.  Hair is short but unkempt.  Uniform usually disshevelled, with bicycle shorts underneath the skirt; jacket usually flung haphazardly across bed.  Athletic build, slouches a little.  Usually sports bruises, contusions; cf. Les Nessman.  At the school after being the only player left standing after a volleyball brawl.  Hates the nickname "Skyescraper" (height, you see).

Autumn - 6th year student (Grade 12), hacker.  Long hair, left loose.  Uniform is cut tight, accentuating her figure; skirt is mid-thigh, blouse is tucked in.  Average build.  At the school after hacking several government (foreign and domestic) databases.

"Laura" - 6th year student (Grade 12), scientist.  Shoulder-length hair, with hairband, sometimes a pony tail.  Shorter skirt than Caitlin, not as short as Gwen.  Blouses usually untucked; sometimes has lab coat on.  Average build.  At the school after turning evidence over to the Crown to have her father convicted on drug charges (not trumped up); nominally under a witness protection program, but also to keep her from replacing her father.  Real name, Ruth, to be revealed when her father's goons appear.
A quick interjection here: Laura will be the character used to introduce the audience to the setting and story.  She's the new girl.
Flora & Fauna - 6th year students (Grade 12), coquette (Flora) and emo (Fauna).  Identical twins that are easily to tell apart.  Flora is up to date on fashion, long stockings and short skirt, hair cascading in waves over her shoulders.  Fauna keeps her hair up and dyed black; uniform shirt also black.

The Jennifers - 1st year students (Grade 7), used by the 4th years for whatever needs to be done.  No one bothers learning their real names.  Cannon fodder.  Various appearances.

Vamsi - Need anything?  Vamsi knows people who know people.  No names.  Third generation; her great-grandparents immigrated from India.
Naturally, the school has a rival, a prep school that has the edge when it comes to being accepted socially, but where its students are as ruthless.  Possibly more ruthless, since Laura's name is really Ruth.
The Rivals
Verity: Caitlin's arch-rival.  Most plots will centre on Caitlin and Verity trying to top the other.

Caroline: Verity's 2IC and Starscream.  Verity needs Caroline, but trusts her as far as she can throw her.
So far, I just have a few scenes, including one where Caitlin has to deal with an insurrection from her own ranks.  No plot yet, though if I poke at Caitlin and Verity enough, they should come up with something.

* Except I really can't draw consistantly.  /sigh/

16 Feb 2014

Number 200

Welcome to the 200th post!

This snuck up on me.  The time just flew and only after scheduling the last commentary did I notice that it was the 199th.  If this post seems impromptu, it was.

Since I have nothing planned for the occasion, I figure, why not show how things work?  What goes into making a post here?

First off, words.  Lots of them.  And each word is made out of letters.  At some point, I combine the words to form sentences.  The sentences arrange themselves through magic in to paragraphs.  It's amazing to watch, really.

On a less flippant note, my posts fall under a few different categories.  First, there's the Friday serial.  With Subject 13 and Lethal Ladies, the chapters were already written, making scheduling easy.  The commentary tracks, though, are new and tend to be done the week after the chapter is posted.  The delays that have happened were from not getting the commentary done in time, either through a busy week or not finding something to say until after the last minute.  I do plan on keeping the Friday serial happening once Lethal Ladies is done and have started the replacement series.

The gaming posts are a broad second category.  It gives me a chance to have fun with various systems, though I've mainly done Traveller.  The results are fun and let me delve into the characters' minds a bit more.  I hope that the people reading those posts are enjoying the insights.  One thing that the gaming posts help with, at least for me, is character development for my writing.  I've probably mentioned this before, but my approach to writing is my own.  Other people can write up detailed descriptions, draw character portraits, do psychological studies, even keep character diaries.  Me, I create the character in an appropriate game to make sure I have the right feel.  During the character creation process, I make sure to place in the character's personality, from skills and traits to choosing equipment.  To get specific, when creating Nasty, I kept in mind suggestions from Champions.  Nasty, as herself, is underpowered in the game, but as Peregrine, she is a far more rounded character in terms of capability, thanks to details like the Peregrine-cycle and the armoured costume.

The last big category are the "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" entries.  Entries that go for the weird.  The first was the "Girls as Cars" story idea that grew out of an AIM conversation.  These entries are seldom planned.  They can't be, really.  They come from a mind that likes to warp things, twist them about, and drop the result out fully formed with a "ta-daa" while everyone and everything else around backs away slowly, nodding and

There are other posts that don't fit under any of the above.  It happens.  The blog started because I wanted to see if I could blog and has slowly evolved to what it is now.  It will continue to evolve, too.  That is the nature of the Chaos Beast, to change.

Thank you to everyone following the blog.  It feels good to see that there are people who want to read what I type.

14 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #28 - 256 Suburban Avenue

St. Louis, Missouri
256 Suburban Avenue
30-JUN-2007  1114

    Rose got out of Elena's Mercedes C230.  She closed the door behind her.  Inside, Allison glared at the older woman.  "What was that for?" Allison asked.

    "You're staying here," Rose answered.

    Elena closed the driver's door.  "She's right.  Sexton's wounded.  He's unpredictable right now.  He might give up.  He might come out shooting.  Think of him as a wild animal that has been injured."

    "That dangerous?" Allison asked.

    "That dangerous," Rose confirmed.  "We won't be long.  If you think something is wrong, leave."  She drew her Colt M1911 pistol and verified that its clip was full.

13 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #27 - Commentary

Please read the chapter before continuing.  Thanks.

It's probably long past time to note the influences on the story.  Sure, Shadowrun has been mentioned, but it's not the only influence.  My reading and TV watching habits were cast wide over a number of genres, from science fiction of all sorts to fantasy, from Westerns to mysteries, and, naturally, spy thrillers.  Ian Fleming, of 007 fame, and Alistair MacLean were early influences, but one TV series that sort of crept in to the writing of Lethal Ladies was Adderly.  I'll be impressed if anyone outside Canada has heard of it.

For those who haven't seen the show, Adderly followed the adventures of V.H. Adderly, played by Winston Rekert, who was transferred from active duty as a field agent for International Security and Intelligence to Miscellaneous Affairs after losing the use of his left hand on an assignment.  Miscellaneous Affairs handled anything that the other departments didn't want, mostly administrivia, and was hidden away in the basement at I.S.I.'s headquarters.  With the series being made near the end of the Cold War, the Soviet KGB thought Miscellaneous Affairs was an important department because a) it was out of sight in the basement and b) Adderly was transferred to it.  Elena's control room back in Chapter 7 was a windowless basement room in my head when I wrote the chapter.  It just never got properly described in the text.

The importance of admin assistants not only comes from working with them in various jobs I've had, but also from the character of Mona.  In the show, Mona was portrayed as being more astute than her boss, Melville.  Mona also had a love for spy thrillers and romance novels, and helped Adderly in his off-the-record investigations.  All the admins in the story, from Tyler to Donna Lund to Elaine Malcolm, owe a lot to Mona and to the real admins I've met.

Oh, and the "miscellaneous expenses" may have been influenced by Adderly, too.

Amber's search, which isn't influenced by Adderly, uses a few techniques I've picked up in my own searches.  Finding addresses gets interesting.  Having a full first and last name may not work, though it's a good first step.  In public databases, like phone listings, you have people who just use their first initial.  The reasons are many; for women, it's one way to prevent annoying, obnoxious, or obscene phone calls.  Initials don't give away gender.  On the searcher's end, the time needed to find someone increases; each hit needs to be checked for further details.  Given how long Donna has worked for Sexton, there's enough time that, sure, Elaine could have had a sex change, if one wants to indulge Amber.  Rose didn't want to indulge her.  The second browser, since this was written prior to tabbed browsing being available in Internet Explorer, was used for cross-referencing.  Amber took the data from one seaerch result and tried a new search with it.  Again, labour intensive but likely to find a different publically available listing that has expanded results.  It's not that exciting to read in fiction.  Very few people can make web searches riveting.

I have no idea how effective the bombshell of Sexton's living arrangements was.  I was back to writing by the seat of my pants, this time with a very new end goal in mind after the car chase happened too soon.  The revelation does give Donna a good reason to turn on her boss, and was the best motivation I could think of at the time.  Today, I would probably have had the antagonists' motives and relationships already worked out somewhat, and could set up the betrayal a lot better.

The comparison between how a small business office is run versus in a government office is difficult.  Small businesses tend to keep all purchases together, instead of allocating a budget for every cost centre, mainly because there's just one cost centre.  In the government, each department gets a budget, then each division, section, and unit gets a budget based on the overall budget.  In some cases, part of the budget is allocated to "pay" other units for services*.  Audits in the government mean making sure that the money in the budget was spent and spent properly, with everything enumerated.  "Office supplies" is a broad category, covering everything from pens and note pads to paper and printer toner.  Sexton and Lund's supplies should have come under scrutiny at some point, though there are ways to stall.

Tomorrow, the Ladies go to Elaine Malcolm's home.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the February adaptational news round up.
Coming soon, unruliness.

* No, it doesn't make sense, but that got imposed from the elected types instead of coming from within.

12 Feb 2014

NaNoPrep 2014 - Stories Ahoy!

Ah, November, the time of year when I disappear to write--  Wait, it's February?  Explains the cold and snow.

Okay, it may be a bit early to start developing ideas for November, but now is as good a time as any to jot down some ideas, general concepts.  At the very least, I may get feedback on what might be popular.  Or, I could finish a few works left unfinished from previous years and be a NaNo Rebel*.

Pale Horse
This idea is a little more fleshed out; it started as a potential role-playing campaign involving a cursed town along the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.  The core concept was that anyone who lived in the town who left for long enough, with the time undefined, died.  People could leave and return with no fatal effects, though gone long enough and lethargy settled in.  The main character for the story is Janet, the owner and sole pilot of Pale Horse Charter Flights, inheriting the business from her late father.  Other characters include her ex (who was played by another player) and researchers.  The story would involve discovering the curse and trying to end it.

The Clockwork Avenger
Essentially, the same idea as before.  Split into two time periods: Victorian, to get some steampunk going, and modern, the Clockwork Avenger takes on a mad wizard.  Being essentially a superhero story, the story will fall into the Subject 13-verse.

The Unruly Girls
An idea I've been playing with, based on the RPG Hellcats & Hockeysticks.  A private school for girls who are trouble, as opposed to troubled girls.  The core cast has been worked out, as have the setting, the school itself, though I need to create maps, the rival school, the coat of arms, and some of the supporting cast.  I even had the motto translated into Latin, thanks to my very smart and wonderful Classics instructor cousin.  The main issue with this idea is that I keep seeing it as something else - a comic of some sort** instead of a proper novel.  Of course, scripting a comic falls under Script Frenzy and, thus, turns me into a NaNo Rebel.  Or, I could get over myself and see how it works out as prose.

The Threefold
Like the Clockwork Avenger above, the Threefold are in the running again.  What held them from being used last year was a lack of plot.  If I can work out a plot and not just antagonists and scenes, they may get worked on.

Since it's still early, 8.5 months early, more ideas can come and go and the above will get fleshed out more.  Thinking about this early gives me a chance to get details locked down and to get artwork ready.

* I'm still going to aim for 50 000 words.  Between the at least two works, that should be enough to keep me going.

7 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #27 - 41 2nd Avenue

St. Louis, Missouri
41 2nd Avenue
30-JUN-2007  1107

    The group of women arrived at the National Security Agency's floor in the office building.  Lund led the the way through the reception area to her cubicle.  Elena stayed out of the cube, keeping watch.  Rose forced Lund to sit down at her workstation.  The NSA employee logged into her computer.  "It'll take a minute to get through all the scripts," Lund said.

    Allison watched the process.  "Looks clean, Rose.  Doing far too much at start up, really.  The roll-out and version control people need to find a way to get applications to land at night."

    "We're not here to evaluate the NSA's network, Allie," Rose said.  "Ms Lund, find me the purchase orders, or I'll have Allison here do it for me.  Trust me, it won't look good for you to have files labelled Secret or higher accessed from your workstation under your login ID."

6 Feb 2014

Lethal Ladies #26 - Commentary

As usual, please read the chapter first.

The investigation is back.  The story has a direction.  This isn't filler.  Rose and Elena have a lead - one Donna Lund.  So, where is she?  Or, to phrase it better, why did I send Donna to church?  I had remembered that the US is, overall, more faith-based than Soviet Canuckistan, with a higher percentage of church attendees.  Plus, and this is more retroactive than anything else, it hints that Lund might not be 100% on board with Sexton's plot.

The one-sided telephone conversation was me playing around with the scene.  I wanted to see if I could write a phone conversation where only half could be heard while still providing the information I wanted to the reader.  Only you, the reader, can tell me if I was successful.  The trick, if successful, can really only be used once in a story.  More often, and it becomes noticeable and gimmicky.  I tried this because of too many TV shows where the on screen character would just repeat what the other person on the phone said.  That's not a conversation.

For the record, Amber's end is essentially her catching Rose up on the online searches. then throwing odd ideas out.  One that Rose comments on was the idea of Sexton hiding at a store's grand opening sale.  Amber's logic was that no one would expect him to hide at one.  It is hard to argue with that sort of leap in logic.

Back to finding Lund, Rose has no problems lying to the church volunteer.  Rose was a spy; to paraphrase Tony Stark in Marvel's The Avengers, "[S]he lies.  [S]he gets paid to lie."  She wouldn't have been a good spy if she had problems lying.  At the same time, she is religious, at least enough to pay homage on entering the church.  Lund isn't expecting anything - she is out of the loop - and is surprised by Rose, who might not want to kill her, but is more than willing to shoot Donna in the leg if necessary.

Amber, meanwhile, has cabin fever.  She really hates being cooped up.  She also really hates not having her morning coffee, her breakfast coffee, her morning break coffee, her second breakfast coffee; Hobbits don't eat as much as Amber drinks coffee.  Allison really does need to get away from Amber.

The last scene, I managed to work in a title drop.  Elena's explanation, the snake eating its tail, is accurate enough.  It's a remnant of the story's origin as a Shadowrun idea.  An ouroboros run, also known as a tail-chaser, is meant to show that a document is important enough for someone to steal by having a shadowrunning team steal it.  The goal is to prove a document is real, especially when it isn't.

The HMCS Ottawa was in the Middle East at the time of writing.  The ship was once involved in Operation APOLLO and may have been there in support of Operation ATHENA.  Please note that I did not use either operation name in the story; I was on contract at the Department of National Defense in 2006 and made sure to separate what I could find through public searches from what I knew from work.  The Ottawa's location was up on a publically available site, though lacking details, but photos were available.  The Canadian appetite for supporting ongoing operations in Khandahar, Afghanistan, was souring.  The Canadian public does support the Canadian Forces, but some of that support is making sure that the troops are making a positive difference for the sacrifices.  A friendly fire incident known as the Tamak Farm incident didn't help; an American Air Force pilot dropped a bomb on soldiers with the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry on a night firing exercise, killing four and wounding eight more.  Elena is referring to this incident.

Tomorrow, digging into expense reports.
Saturday, at Musehack, Smokey and the Bandit.
Coming soon, some more gaming material and NaNo Prep 2014.  (What?)

3 Feb 2014

Fun with Traveller - The Darrian Entertainer

Just for fun, I created Miryim's younger sibling, the one with the well-publicized addiction.  A few items are already set thanks to Miryim - homeworld, starting Social Standing, and family.  As Miryim's sibling is younger, I'll only go four terms.  First up, the general information.  Since I have no idea what gender the sibling is, I'll leave it to a die roll - odd male, even female.  The d6 roll is a 1. 
Name: Mattizus Iarond
Species: Darrian
Homeworld: Jacent/Darrian/Spinward Marches (A333744-D Ht Na Ni Po)
Age and rank will be filled out once chargen is done.  I've dropped the given name, just leaving the taken and family names.  Next step, the characteristics, taken in order, with Strength and Endurance being 1d6+3 and Education being 2d6+1.
  Str 7/+0
  Dex 10/+1
  End 4/-1
  Int 10/+1
  Edu 7/+0
  Soc 7/+0
Compared to Miryim, Mattizus is stronger, far more agile, not as hardy, as intelligent, and not as well educated.  Compared to the average human (stats of 7 across the board), Mattizus is less hardy and more intelligent.  The Iaronds are an intelligent family.

Speaking of family, Miryim's grandparents and parents remain the same.  A grandparent made an important scientific breakthrough and Mattizus's mother thwarted a Zhodani plot.  That leaves the sibling.  The random 2d6 roll is 8, getting "Relative was lampooned Confederation-wide for precipitating an infamous accident", which never came up when creating Miryim.  However, a 7 gets "Relative has travelled extensively outside the Confederation", which suits her perfectly.
 Grandparents - both alive; important scientific breakthrough of great benefit
 Parents - father alive; mother a lauded hero for discovering Zhodani plot
 Siblings - older sibling; has travelled extensively outside the Confederation
Mattizus gets three background skills plus an extra in a science.  Being from a high tech world gets Computers 0, leaving the other two as free choice.  Mattizus takes Language and Carouse both at 0.  For the science, he takes Social Science.

All Darrians must spend a term either in the military or in education.  Mattizus heard about Miryim's time in the Confederation Navy and her secondment to the Imperial Navy and decided that military life has too much excitement and near-death experience for his taste.  He tries to enroll as a Scholar instead, needing a 7 or better to succeed.  The 2d6 roll is 5.  Time for the draft.  A roll of 6 puts him into Agent (Police).  He gets the Service Skills all at 0 before rolling for a new one.  He takes his skill roll on the Specialist: Police and gets Drive; Mattizus takes the specialization of Wheeled.  Survival is based on Endurance, so that's a -1 to the roll, but he only needs a 6 or higher to avoid a mishap.  He rolls a 7, modified to a 6.  Close, but he makes it through.  For the event, he gets a 6; an investigation takes him outside of the Confederation, with a choice of skills.  Mattizus adds Streetwise 1 to his skill list.  He now checks for a promotion, needing 6 or better and gets to add his Intelligence modifier; the roll is 10, modified to 11, and gets promoted to Officer.

Mattizus, however, wants to entertain, not serve and protect.  He tries to enter the Entertainer career, needin a 5 or better before adding his Int bonus.  He rolls 7, plus 1 from Int, for 8 and gets in without a problem.  He musters out of the police force after one term with two rolls.  First roll will be for cash; a 1 means just Cr2000.  The second is under other benefits; a 3 gets him +1 Edu.  He learned on the job.  Back to the Entertainer career, he takes the Performer specialty.  He gets one of the Service Skills at 0; he chooses Persuade.  He takes his skill roll on the Specialist: Performer table and rolls a 3, Carouse.  Survival is based on Social Standing; he needs a 5 or better and can't modify his roll.  The result is 6; Mattizus makes it.  He now checks the event; the roll is 5.  Mattizus is given a challenging task and needs to roll 8 or higher on one of three skills.  Fortunately for him, he has two of them and picks Investigate.  The roll is 7, but Mattizus uses his Int to bump it to 8, a success!  He now has a +2 on his next advancement roll.  For advancement, he needs a 7 or higher, modified by Int.  He rolls 10, plus 1 for Int, plus 2 for the success and becomes an Acolyte with a 13.  He rolls again on the Specialist: Performer table, getting a 4, Deception.  I was expecting a rock star; instead, Mattizus might be an actor.

The third term comes and Mattizus stays in his career.  The skill roll is again on the Specialist: Performer table; a 1 gets him Art (Performance).  Actual Art skill!  The survival roll is a straight up 2.  Oops, mishap.  Rolling on the mishap table, a five means he was forced out due to censorship or controversy.  His entertainment career ends, but a +2 on his next enlistment roll means he will continue.  He does get to muster out first, though.  One term, with one promotion, gets him two roll.  First is again on cash; he gets Cr50 000.  On the other benefits table, he gets +1 Int, giving him a slight edge over Miryim now.

At the start of his fourth term, Mattizus wants to try his hand at being an Envoy.  He needs a 7 or better, and his Education doesn't provide a bonus.  He rolls 10, plus 2 from the previous mishap, for a 12.  Mattizus is now a diplomat.  He takes Diplomat at 0 from the service skill table, then rolls on the Specialist: Diplomat table, getting Diplomat.  Mattizus is a natural at his new job.  Survival is Soc based this time, so no modifier, just a straight up roll to beat 6; he gets 9.  For the event, the roll is 8; Mattizus spent time in diplomatic circles and now needs to make a Carouse or Persuade roll.  He rolls 7, adds 1 from Carouse and 1 from his Int bonus to get 9 total.  Mattizus now has an Ally.  The advancement roll needs to beat 6 and he gets his Int bonus on top; the roll is 6, modifed to 7, and Mattizus is now a Junior Envoy.

Since Mattizus is still in his career, I won't bother with a final mustering out.  The chargen went a different route than I expected, but the mishap works for Miryim; the controversy could easily be an addiction.
  Art 0
    Performance 1
  Athletics 0
  Carouse 1
  Computers 0
  Deception 1
  Diplomat 1
  Drive 0
    Wheeled 1
  Gun Combat 0
  Investigate 0
  Language 0
  Persuade 0
  Social Science 0
  Stealth 0
  Streetwise 1
Mattizus's skill set is interesting, to say the least.  Nothing outstanding like Miryim's smallcraft piloting or mechanics, but Mattizus does have people skills.  Law enforcement and acting may have just been stepping stones to a long career as a diplomat, giving him a broad base allowing him to relate to people.  I should keep Mattizus in mind for the serial.  Having him appear should be both a delight and an annoyance for Miryim.

The final character sheet:
Name: Mattizus Iarond
Species: Darrian
Homeworld: Jacent/Darrian/Spinward Marches (A333744-D Ht Na Ni Po)
Rank: Officer (1)/Acolyte (1)/Junior Envoy (1)

  Str 7/+0
  Dex 10/+1
  End 4/-1
  Int 11/+1
  Edu 8/+0
  Soc 7/+0

 Grandparents - both alive; important scientific breakthrough of great benefit
 Parents - father alive; mother a lauded hero for discovering Zhodani plot
 Siblings - younger sibling; well publicized addiction

  Art 0
    Performance 1
  Athletics 0
  Carouse 1
  Computers 0
  Deception 1
  Diplomat 1
  Drive 0
    Wheeled 1
  Gun Combat 0
  Investigate 0
  Language 0
  Persuade 0
  Social Science 0
  Stealth 0
  Streetwise 1

Career - Agent (Police); 2-Entertainer (Performer), 4-Envoy (Diplomat)
Term 1: Investigation takes him outside the Confederation; promoted.
Term 2: Given a challenging task and succeeds; promoted.
Term 3: Mishap; pushed out due to controversy.
Term 4: Spent time in diplomatic circles and gained an ally;

Cr 52 000
Medical Expenses:
Ship Shares:
Allies: Diplomat
If you wind up playing him, let me know!