8 Nov 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 – End of Week 1

NaNo has begun and I am now in the early chapters of a story that I have no idea where it's going. Som business as usual here. The first week went well, except for a snag on Day 4, where I messed up my own tracking spreadsheet. I wound up thinking I was a on target instead of being a day behind, both in terms of writing and in terms of the days on the spreadsheet. Saturday was spent running a crucial errand, so that cost me some time as well. However, I managed to fight back to where I should be on Sunday.

The early scenes I had in mind are now written. That's both good and bad. It's good because over 11k words were written for them. It's bad because now I have no idea where I'm going. I have vague idea for scenes, but scenes are no substitute for plot. (Hollywood, are you listening?) Fortunately, the characters are solidifying enough that any one of them could produce a plot line on their own. It's handy when characters do that.

The original concept was to jump focus to the different characters. However, locking the point of view to Skater means that I have to work out what the others are doing, at least generally. I don't need to write a chapter that won't be published about Hudson's quest for to watch the Habs in a city on the opposite side of the continent. He's just going to complain about it bitterly when he next joins the action.

Coming up, well, laundry needs to be done which will eat at the time I have after work. But if that is out of the way Monday and I can get a couple hundred words Tuesday and Friday before gaming, I should be in a position to strike forward next weekend. I've done it before, I can do it again.

1 Nov 2021

Happy November 1st!

It's that time of year again.  NaNoWriMo has begun!  Back in September, I listed a number of possibilities.  In order to start writing, I had to actually choose one.  The winner is...

On Thin IC

with The Courier waiting in the wings in case I run out of story.

Now, you might be wondering where On Thin IC is on the list.  It's the untitled Shadowrun story, now with a title.  Progress can be followed on my NaNo profile.

Jewel will be keeping me honest and making sure I take writing breaks.
Treats don't serve themselves after all.

9 Sept 2021

Test Run - Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game - The Villain

Back again with Greater Than Games' Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game.  This time around, the villain creation method.  Villains in the game get a streamlined approach, making it easier for the GM to prep.  Villainous henchmen and minions are even easier, but, for now, just the villain.

27 Aug 2021

Brace Yourself!

November is coming!

Yep, NaNoWriMo is just over two months away.  I should at least start figuring out what I want to write.  I have a few possibilities right now, but nothing certain.  I'd create a poll, but I'm not likely to stick to the results.  Maybe if there's a request and it's not binding.  Let me know.

I do have a few possibilities already.  I'll present them in no particular order, with the parts I have figured out and the parts that I need to fill in before November.

Shadows of Tukayyid A BattleTech story, most likely done as a series of novels and novellas.  I've been in the mood for giant stompy mecha action thanks to reviewing Pacific Rim: The BlackBattleTech is based on giant stompy mecha shooting and stomping each other.  The story will happen after the Clan Invasion is stopped after the Battle of Tukayyid and features two veterans of the fight.  The first is former ComStar Adept Joanna Kirk, pilot of a Black Knight, and Rebecca, a former Clan Ghost Bear freeborn MechWarrior, as they join a Free Worlds League mercenary unit that is looking to expand with pilots with experience fighting the Clans.  The first mission is forming in my head, and other missions are starting to come together.  I need to figure out other pilots in the lance and the mercenary company, though they are supporting cast.

The Courier  Initially conceived as a gender-flipped version of The Transporter, because why not, it's starting to get inspirations from Gunpowder Milkshake.  Maybe not the sisterhood of assassins based in a library, but the creation of connections between family who haven't really spoken to each other.  The main characters are Courtney, the courier, and her niece, Amy, who lives with her aunt after the death of her parents a few years prior.  The base plot is worked out, as is the rough map of where they're going.  The story should be a novel and could lead into a series if wanted.

Streetwise Valkyries I've mentioned the Valkyries before.  There's two possibilities to go with.  One is working on a few stories in the same vein as Subject 13 and I do have a few plots in mind for that.  The other potential is a crossover with Subject 13, turning Nasty into the Spider-Man or the Wolverine of the setting.  I have ideas for the crossover, so time will tell here.

Untitled Shadowrun story  I have a character idea for Shadowrun that dates back to the first edition, an elven decker who lost her parents during the Night of Rage and was subsequently taken into safety in the Ork Underground.  I've updated the character with each edition, but I never rebooted her.  Instead, I've aged her with the setting.  A recent edition, fifth, I think, had me realize that her career arc and mine were similar.  Ignoring that Skater's career has been mostly illegal and mine has been strictly legal, we've both gone through a number of major tech changes during our careers.  This gives me the hook I needed for an idea I've been playing with, and I do have the rest of the team worked out.  The first story might be novel length; follow ups could be serialized.

This isn't all the ideas, just the most prominent.  There's always a chance that a different story pops up and demands my attention, like The Elf's Prisoner had.  However, chances are good one of these will be chosen.

Mandatory cat photo (model is Jewel, photo by author)

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.

Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.

12 Aug 2021

Cyberpunk 2020 v Shadowrun - Intro

Something I've been meaning to try for a while is creating similar characters in the top cyberpunk RPGs from the 80s.  Cyberpunk 2020 is getting noticed again thanks to Cyberpunk 2077 while Shadowrun recently had its sixth edition released.  Let's see how similar characters compare.

There are a few ground rules.  The first, no magic.  Cyberpunk 2020 does not have magic.  That means, all characters will be human,  There's just no getting around it.  Second, the characters have to be viable in both games.  That shouldn't be an issue, but some of the roles in 2020 don't quite work in Shadowrun.  Third, gear needs to be equivalent.  This is going to be the tough one.  I can't go by costs; the two games use a different base of reference.  Instead of going by costs, I'll be going by rough equivalence - a heavy pistol is a heavy pistol in both games.  The same goes with cybernetics; enhanced reflexes are done differently in the two games but are still enhanced reflexes.  Finally, core games only.  No supplements, at least mechanically.

What does that leave me?  My plan is to use ideas from cyberpunk novels.  Character types like the Street Samurai and the Hacker, both from Neuromancer, a combat driver, loosely based off Cowboy from Hardwired, a combat medic, like Nadia from Trauma Team, and possibly a Rocker, like Priss from Bubblegum Crisis.  Try to tell me either version of Bubblegum Crisis isn't cyberpunk.

Obviously, this will take some time.  Expect the first comparison to be the Street Samurai.  The concept is simple, street muscle with cybernetics.  Until then, chummers and choombas, keep your stick on the ice.

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.

Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.

5 Aug 2021

Test Run - Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game - Time Travelling Ada Lovelace

 A weird idea struck me for Greater Than Games' Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game.  I`ll go through the same steps as the last two times, using the directed method that I used with Ringette.

22 Jul 2021

Test Run - The Return of Bert Ernesto!

 A long time back, I was playing around with Margaret Weis Productions' Demon Hunters, based on the setting created by the Dead Gentlemen, who also provided details for the game itself.  As time progresses, as time tends to do, games evolve.  The most recent version, Demon Hunters - A Comedy of Terrors takes the lessons learned from the original and improves the game.  However, since this is about Bert Ernesto and not Lost in Translation, enough about the mechanics.  Time to create!

1 Jul 2021

Writing Inspirations from a Non-Writer

A couple of friends have already gone through who and what has influenced them in their writing.  Serdar Yagulalp and Steve Savage have listed what has influenced and inspired their work.  I'm going to add my two cents, which in Canadian, means nothing because we don't have pennies.

I've probably mentioned that I'm not a natural writer.  Everything linked in the side bar to the right and over at Lost in Translation isn't a mirage, but my approach might give writing teachers fits.  So, keeping with the format Serdar and Steve have, here goes!

Tabletop RPGs

  • Characters are more than just numbers on a page.  Most games include advice on how to create and play a character.  Games with specific settings give information that could influence a character.  Likewise, characters in a novel are more than just a description or a stereotype.  Archetypes are useful as a starting point to build on, not an end goal.
  • Characters live in their settings.  Seems obvious, but a character in a fantasy world where magic is wondrous will have a different take on their life from a character who lives on board a starship.  They may share outlooks, but they'll have different approaches to problem solving.

High School Geography

  • Geographic features don't pop out of nowhere.  This goes towards worldbuilding and why I could build a setting on the fly a few years ago.  It becomes easier to work out what the climate and vegetation is like once I know where the mountains are.
  • Cities aren't always designed.  Grade 10 Urban Geography has stuck with me.  Cities exist for a reason.  The older the city, the less likely there is to be a grid-pattern.  Streets are twisty.  A planned settlement has straight streets, except for suburbs.  This also goes towards worldbuilding, so if I need a village, town, or city, I can get the basics down quickly then fill out details like neighbourhoods and entertainment centres.
  • Water is life.  Back to worldbuilding again.  Settlements need water, for drinking, for growing food, for shipping and receiving products.  Water is also important while writing.  Getting up from the keyboard to get a drink of water does two things, it gives me a break and it keeps me hydrated.

Anime, Manga, and Comics

  • Drama drives the story.  I lumped the three together because they each provided different examples.  The series I enjoy tend not to be gimmicky but instead have inter-character conflict and awkward moments.  I can see the influence Marmalade Boy has on my works.

Lost in Translation

  • You can learn from mistakes; they don't have to be your own.  You might be wondering why I have something I'm writing is in the list.  Lost in Translation let me analyze works I'd normally not take a deeper look into.  Figuring out what when wrong means working out the mechanics of storytelling, what works, and what doesn't.  The earnest failures are the best to analyze; the different between talent and skill counts.
  • It doesn't hurt to try a work in a different medium.  Even if the result doesn't work, figuring out how what I'm working on can translate helps.  My writing approach tends to start from a visual, so already I have to translate the pictures and animation into words.  Why not work out what something would look like going the other way?  There's insight to be had.

The above list is probably not comprehensive.  I'm sure there are little things here and there that I've missed that are obvious to other.  But, these are the majors I can think of.  If you want to do something similar, drop a line with Steve Savage.  He wants to gather all these sorts of posts into one spot.

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.

Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.

Happy Canada Day!

This is a rough Canada Day.  Not from the pandemic, though that isn't helping.  The discovery of over a thousand graves at former residential schools can't be forgotten.  Children taken away from their culture and families who never got to return.  This is a dark stain on Canada.  It's long past time for reconciliation and restitution, for with out restitution, reconciliation is just hollow words.  Let this Canada Day be the day wounds can be healed, for we can be better.

Happy Canada Day.

24 Jun 2021

Test Run - A Time of War

Over the past month, I've dipped into Catalist Game Labs' MechWarrior Destiny RPG.  A few times, I mentioned that it was more streamlined than A Time of War, the previous incarnation of the BattleTech RPG.  Today, I demonstrate the difference by creating a PC with ATOW.

17 Jun 2021

Test Run - MechWarrior Destiny III - Converting a BattleMech

 Back to Catalist Game Labs' MechWarrior Destiny to try out one more subsystem, BattleMech conversion.  For this, I'll need a BattleMech,  Instead of one of the published 'Mechs, I'll use one of my own design, the PLNK-5R, or Plinker.  All the goodies after the break.

10 Jun 2021

Test Run - Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game - The Random Method

Time to go back to Greater Than Games' Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game.  A few weeks ago, I modelled Ringette using the game.  This time around, I want to try the random character creation method.  I finally figured out what they game meant by rolling dice now that I wasn't focused on modelling a specific character.  Both methods are viable in the game, which is a strength.  Since this will get long, everything starts after the break.

3 Jun 2021

Test Run - MechWarrior Destiny - The Clans

Last outing with Catalist Game Labs' MechWarrior Destiny went well.  This time around, I want to try out the character creation system for a Clanner PC.  As usual, everything will be after the break.

27 May 2021

Starfighter Thoughts

I had a thought strike me, when then expanded for a possible setting detail, involving the use of starfighters in science fiction.  Starfighters tend to fill in the role of air superiority fighter planes in the real world, but the ranges involved in space are far greater than on a planet.  Even now, ranges in dogfight or in naval battles are beyond visual, sometimes beyond the horizon.  Radar can provide targeting for missiles, and the use of cannons on a jet fighter is getting rarer.

In space, barring a large body to hide behind such as a moon, radar contact will be made long before visual contact.  Missiles and other weapons will cross the distance faster than any starfighter, leaving launched pilots either verifying hits or wondering if there's a home to return to.  The only reason to launch starfighters is to provide a screen against the opposition's starfighter screen.

At shorter ranges, where there are bodies like a moon blocking sensors, starfighters become a bit more useful.  Bodies that block sensors also block direct fire weapons like lasers and rail guns, and missiles need a target lock before homing.  Starfighters can get in the way of a proper lock depending on the abilties of the gunner and sensor operator of the opposition, and they can make strafing runs in the hopes of taking out weapons and sensors.  Countering the smaller, more maneuverable ships require smaller, more maneuverable ships, so starfighter vs starfighter again happens.

Part of the problem, at least in film and television, is that screen space is the limitation.  Long range attacks, the hundreds and thousands of kilometres between ships, doesn't look impressive on screen.  When that long a range is involved, the focus is on the crew on board the ship, not on what's happening outside.  A good example is the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror", which was, essentially, a naval battle between a cruiser and a submarine in space.  The episode never showed the Enterprise and the Bird-of-Prey on screen at the same time.

Why have starfighters when starfighters are almost superfluous?  In fiction, drama and conflict.  The focus comes down to something more personal, with the audience ideally on the side of the protagonist fighter pilots.  The next question is, who are these pilots.

This is where the spark happened.  I connected starfighter pilots to feudal knights, the cavalry that charged forward while the raised rabble looked on nervously before being sent into the breach.  The knightly charge would hit the opposition knightly charge first, then as units sorted themselves out, the survivors would look for another noble unit to go after, charge towards the enemy's troops with the goal of getting to the support wagons for looting, or go after the Poor, Bloody Infantry.

Now to translate this into a SF setting.  Societies are going to need a feudal background, even if they have gone democratic at some point.  The knights that used to make up the cavalry become starfighter pilots, much like cavalry in our world became aerial fighters in World War I when trench warfare turned out to be deadly for horse-mounted troops.  In democracies, starfighter pilots will have the cachet that fighter pilots have today.  In a future feudal system, lower ranking nobles will go into the starfighter program, but higher levels, like the offspring of counts and dukes, will get into the command line of the space navy.  Survival is more important and the potential prestige of commanding a warship is greater than the immediate prestige of being a starfighter pilot.

Now that I have this setting tidbit, what will I do with it?  No idea.  While I can incorporate some of the ideas into Mecha Academy, and thus Rhiannon is very unusual being in the infantry, but the concept deserves a greater look on its own.  However, getting the idea worked out in words does help.

Friday, Lost in Translation continues at Psycho Drive-In.

Saturday, Lost in Translation can be found at The Seventh Sanctum.

20 May 2021

Test Run - MechWarrior Destiny

Going to try keeping this going for another week.  This time out, Catalyst Game Labs' MechWarrior Destiny, one of the BattleTech RPGs.  BattleTech is on a renaissance right now, with a popular video game, a successful Kickstarter campaign to get a new edition with new miniatures, and an extensive fandom.  And, yes, one of the RPGs.  Prior to Destiny was A Time of War, which had an extensive and involved character creation method.  Destiny kept the lifepath setup from A Time of War but simplified character creation by reducing the number of points to spend on drastically.

MechWarrior Destiny uses the Cue System, the same system used in the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game, as seen with Nasty and Ringette.  There are differences between the games, reflecting the source material.  But the system does make character creation easier and faster.  Since this will get long, the meat will appear after the break.

13 May 2021

Test Run - Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game

 Arise from the dead, blog!  Arise!

Again, it's been a while.  I don't have any serials prepped for posting, so it's been quiet.  However, I've been able to buy a couple of new RPGs.  I want to test out Sentinel Comics the Roleplaying Game from Greater Than Games.  To do so, instead of creating Nasty from Subject 13, I'll use a different character, one who is not under-powered.  I'll be using Ringette, who I've created using Superbabes and the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game.

Remember her?  It has been six years.

Sentinel Comics is adapted from Sentinels of the Multiverse, a cooperative fixed deck card game where each player takes on the role of a superhero, saving the day against villains foul.  The RPG comes in four colours, is split into logical sections, with an intro with the mechanics that includes examples, character creation, a GM section, and a campaign section for the Sentinels setting.  I ordered directly from the company and got a bonus.

Jewel loves the box I ordered for her.  (photo by author)

This is going to get long, so things will continue after the break.

26 Feb 2021

The Return

Hello, world!

Yes, it has been some time.  Even Lost in Translation fell by the wayside.  The reason?  I caught COVID-19, confirmed with a test.  Best reckoning is that I caught the virus second week of January.  I felt run down, then as the virus wreaked havoc in me, I called in sick to work.  I tried to get in, but when you wake up tired and run down, it makes a full day difficult, even when that day is normally slow.  When I realized that I may have to keep calling in, I called the COVID hotline for Quebec to make an appointment for testing.

The test was easy enough, but the nurse administering it noticed something else.  I was having problems breathing.  She could hear it.  She gave me another number to call, but that will be later.  After the test, I came back home and, after catching my breath, I went to bed to nap.  I really don't remember much of the last two weeks of January, seeing I was in bed for most of it.  I will say that being in bed napping is far better than being in the hospital hooked up to oxygen.

The day after the test, almost 24 hours after, I got the results.  I tested positive and was ordered to quarantine.  Easy enough, I didn't have the energy to go anywhere.  I called into work afterwards to keep them in the loop, then napped yet again.  Quarantine ended at the end of day of January 31.  I still didn't go out.  The closest to going out was to get a package that had been delivered to my front door.

Another problem came up after the diagnosis.  I lost my appetite.  The last thing I ate for the duration of the worst of it was a grilled chicken salad from Harvey's.  I tried a second one later in the week and was able to finish the chicken but not the entire salad.  Breaded chicken didn't work; the breading made me nauseous.  Bread made me nauseous.  Toast, though, didn't.  I made it through the last week of January on toast.  I also had to work to stay hydrated.  I just couldn't drink that much water.  February, though, I started drinking tea again, and that helped.  I then started eating more solid foods and drinking two litres of water/liquid per day.  I lost a good percentage of the weight I picked up since lockdown last March, but I do not recommend this method.

Feeling more energetic at the end of the first week of February, I went back to work.  The Friday, I wound up leaving a couple of hours early having tired myself.  Saturday, though, was quiet even for a Saturday and make through the full day.  The next week, I'm back to regular hours, plus some changes in work duties in the works.

My breathing, though, wasn't so great.  I also had a heavy, persistant cough that would wake me up at night.  Having asthma, I have an inhaler, though I hadn't been using it in the latter half of January.  I get back on it, and the cough lessens but still persisted.  Remember the number the testing nurse gave me?  I did, and called it to make an appointment.  I get one, go in, and get the prognosis - pneumonia.  I left the doctor's appointment with a prescription for a heavy-duty, hospital grade antibiotic.  They worked.  After three days, I was able to sleep through the night without waking up due to coughing.  I'm breathing better, though I need to get a lung specialist again.

The doctor at the clinic also ordered x-rays for me.  I figured it was to just confirm where the infection and its detritus was.  Which it did, but it also revealed something else.  I have a pneumothorax.  There is a small air bubble between my left lung, the one that the pneumonia hit, and my chest wall.  The good news is that it's a small bubble, not worth the intervention, which would involve surgery.

One thing I will say - pneumonia is not as bad as COVID-19.  While not being able to breathe isn't a good thing, it only left me winded.  COVID laid me out, tired, unable to focus.  Lost in Translation fell to the wayside with half a review written.  Hard to write when focus doesn't exist.  Even my routine of working on scenes for stories while falling asleep failed; I either kept repeating a short part of the start of the scene, like a skipping record, or had other problems in life intrude.  Not fun.

So that's been the past five weeks or so.  I'm still getting into the swing of things again.  Something should appear here in the next couple of weeks, but I have no idea what.  Thanks for your patience if you're a regular and thanks if you read through all this.

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, X-Men the Anime.

Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, taking the week off.  Still getting myself put back together.  I am working on the next review.

1 Jan 2021

Hello 2021, Good Riddance 2020

Welcome 2021.  May you be a damned sight better than the past year.  2020 can now be relegated as hindsight, a lesson in what not to do.

Happy New Years!