February 24, 2015

Remembering One of My Briefly-Lived PCs

Remembering One of My Briefly-Lived PCs
I was completely planning on putting this on my other blog, but wisely decided against it because.....well the because will become readily apparent. I may have told this story before, but I doubt everyone has heard it (I might like it, but it isn't that good)....

I was reading a RPG-themed post on Facebook asking about "epic" skill check failures. Now some games, or maybe just some GMs, don't allow you to completely screw the pooch, but I remember 4th Edition HackMaster sure did. Heck, you could fail so bad when trying a skill untrained that you could never....every, learn that skill because the earlier failure was so traumatic.

Now this isn't a HackMaster story, but a D&D 3.5 story. I didn't play too much 3.5, but this edition saw the beginning of my "infamous" PC that started out as an inside joke about what would happen when two gamers had a kid and treated him like a PC. The mythical tyke's name was BALADAR and he would refer to himself in the 3rd person. BALADAR wants a juice-box! BALADAR wants his blankie! Yes, BALADAR is always fully capitalized....just like on his birth certificate.

After a game session of laughing and having a fun running commentary about this poor mythical kid I had to create my next PC in honor of the joke, but I went with the subtly different "Baladar". He was a 1st level cleric and we were off to our first adventure, once we could overcome the usual DM dickery. Our DM wanted out first obstacle to be actually getting to the adventure location, which was on the other side of this desert. The quickest and easiest way was to get hired on as caravan guards, but the caravans were already full up when our Sorcerer went to make arrangements with the caravan matron, an older woman of "generous" proportions and appetites, according to the DM. Think a female version of Jabba the Hut, but not worm-like. Evidently she was more than willing to hire on a few more guards if the Sorcerer was willing to "satisfy her". Yes, this is the part where I'm to go

Well neither the player or the PC was willing to partake in the means to an end and instead offered up my PC to do the deed. Now I'm trying to think quick on my feet and see something to my advantage so I agree to it. The DM smiles like he's going to roll 3d20 to see how many STDs I get and I just point out that I had prayed for the "Command" spell today. "No problem," I state triumphantly......"I got this." My PC casts the spell and commands the caravan matron to "orgasm".

Now at this point I'm pretty smug with myself and the DM lets me have my 10 seconds in the sun before "politely" pointing out that we are playing D&D 3.5 and not AD&D or even HackMaster. Evidently what used to be a pretty multi-purpose spell was "nerfed" to one of something like 4 command words that could be used. Instead of choosing any one word the recipient had to unfailing try to act upon, I had t pick one of the four. I think I remember him managing a "nice try" as he laughed in my face.

So Baladar figuratively had to take one for the team. It was no surprise to me that in our first combat my dice turned on me an Baladar died a quick and painful death. It wasn't a curse or twist of fate....it was a blessing for that PC because he didn't have too long to live with his shame.

Needless to say, I'm a little more careful about spell selection when I play...especially if it is a new system. I'll just stick with archers until I get the spell mechanics worked out, thank you very much.

$5 Says DM Rob still thinks about that and laughs.....that bastard.

February 14, 2015

Ouch....Right in the Feels

Ouch....Right in the Feels
For years I've had this massive antique "sewing basket" that I've kept a metric shit-ton of personal relics from decades ago. This basket was traditionally used by German girls to keep their future wedding "stuff" in (it was a complicated thing) and afterwards was often used as a large sewing/craft box. When I was overseas I bought one that had been restored, fully intending to give it as a wedding present, but that damned thing is huge and not easily shipped.

Anyway, the basket is made of wicker, which isn't exactly a good thing to have around with three cats. I'm tired of keeping it safe under blankets and towels, especially since I never go through the thing. Last week I dug it out and started emptying the contents. Aside from a bunch of old pictures I have clippings, souvenirs, old letters, and a surprising amount of signed nude photos of porn stars. Evidently I had completely forgotten about my little "hobby" while I was in Bosnia of writing porn stars.

Heh.....now I do remember folks getting interested when I got mail.....

The pictures are starting to fade or stick terribly to the photo album pages so I've decided to just start digitizing everything. I've got a couple of good scanners, all the required software, and (unfortunately) time. As part of the whole process I'm organizing the pictures, tagging and where I can identifying individuals. Since I'll have digital copies I can more easily share stuff, keep backups, and most important, toss out old crap.

For A FriendSeriously.....do I need to have a copy of my kindergarten report card? Not really....a digital copy will more than suffice for memory lane. Some of these "artifacts" really haven't held up so well and they are things I'd like to look at from time to time. An example is a poem written to me by a close friend in high school. At the end of my junior year I hit a really rough spot and things were feeling pretty bleak for me. It felt as if I'd lost everything and for those that know me I tend to not only wear my heart on my sleeve, I've got the worst poker face ever. Evidently whatever I was going through looked a lot worse than I remember it being, which is really saying something.

Anyway this poem my friend wrote has not aged well. She presented it nicely, but it has been folded over, stained, and the colors deteriorated so much in the last quarter-century (now doesn't that make me feel old). Now most of the stuff I've scanned gets some minor Photoshop work, mostly color-correction and scratch removal, but the poem needed a complete overhaul.

Yeah....I couldn't lose this....I dunno, maybe this is the reason I feel a friend's loss so acutely. Ok, I'm getting a bit verklempt.....might need to find those Bosnia pics to balance me out.

February 13, 2015

51,820 New Eagle Scouts Last Year

51,820 New Eagle Scouts Last Year

Just saw some stats from a Boy Scout blog about the numbers concerning the new Eagle Scouts of 2014.

Two really loomed large for me:
51,820 New Eagle Scouts
17.31 Average Age of new Eagle Scouts

When you factor in that so few Scouts actually make it to Eagle, these numbers really hit home. I love the average age because that means, at least to me, at there are so many Eagles being good role models for the younger troops. I've seen Scouts whip through the ranks to get it "done" as quickly as possible so they can go off and do other things and I'm sorry, but the path to Eagle really is more of a journey than a destination. If it wasn't then I'd truly feel sorry for all the Scout who don't make it, as if they got nothing out of their experience.

 Here is the original post.

February 10, 2015

Remembering My Grandmother-In-Law

Remembering My Grandmother-In-Law
Last week my Grandmother-In-Law passed away. She was (I'm pretty sure) 105 and her health and memory had been slipping away for the last several years to the point where she really didn't recognize her only grand-daughter (my wife for those keeping score).

Now because of marriages, divorces, and re-marriages I've had a total of 5 grandmothers, but none were in the same ballpark as Ida. Obviously my introduction to the family somewhere around her 9th decade on this planet didn't impress her enough to remember me much, but that isn't really a surprise. By that point her hearing was atrocious and I think her memory was going more than she wanted to let on. See Ida had a HUGE independent streak and the fascinating bluntness and openness you really only see in the elderly (or me on a "good" night).

January 26, 2015

Just Getting Something Off My Chest

Just Getting Something Off My Chest
Something has really been bothering me since Saturday and I want to get it off my chest. I'm not going to go into as detailed on the specifics as I'd like to, but enough to be able to express myself.

First off, I know I don't have many friends. A few good acquaintances here and there and I'm definitely closer to some more than others, but generally not true friends. I've probably spent far too much of my life pushing people away or just trying to protect myself. Maybe I wasn't meant to have close friends.....I don't mean that in a self-pitying fashion, just that this usually isn't an issue for me....it isn't a hole I've been trying to fill.

Regardless, I am keenly aware that I don't easily form close relationships and maybe because of this I value my friendships maybe more than I should.

Years ago I did manage to become friends with someone I would never have expected to. In some ways I really felt this friends was a kindred spirit and I ended up visiting him more than I did my own flesh & blood family. We had our own inside jokes, shared a lot of ourselves, and basically were (what I thought of as) close friends despite living more than 1/2 way across the country from each other.

When he had a family tragedy I did whatever I could to be there for him, which was difficult financially for me and stung my family a bit because my parents had a similar event not three weeks prior. Didn't matter, it was the right thing to do.

I don't know when things started to go South, but eventually my friend started lying about me and to me. I told him several times how badly this made me feel, which I'm not sure he ever understood. Eventually I had to make a conscious decision to forgive him, and anyone who knows me knows I'm not the forgiving type. I honestly think I did forgive, which was probably a first for me, but I know I hadn't forgotten. Instead I just stopped doing what I was doing before and removed myself from the activities that were at the crux of everything.....problem solved, right?

We didn't even make it a year before there was more lying. My friend made a big show of force that he was being supportive while all the time he was doing the exact opposite of what he'd told me. While I didn't really care about the underlying "thing" I did care that I was being lied to. That hurt more than some dumb shit I'd never have known otherwise if he hadn't brought it up to me in that lie. Of course I confronted my friend and ended up hurting his feelings. It ends up he'd been drinking and what he heard me say wasn't what I'd said, but that didn't matter. I apologized for hurting his feelings, but didn't invalidate my own.

My buddy then shut me out and ended up trying to twist things so that I was the "bad guy" in everything. He wouldn't even consider the possibility that he might have done something wrong or offensive to me. It was all my fault and he formally ended the friendship.

That was over two years ago and I've run into him since then and tried to be civil, but the extent that I've been snubbed/ignored is quite painful to experience first-hand. I think about all this far more often than I should. I don't know if this is because of a defect of character on my part or some deep-seated desire to re-kindle what was obviously not a healthy relationship.

Trying to bring this whole thing full-circle.....Saturday I came across some of my old friend's writing that...well, just plain hurt. He was writing about a fictional character, explaining why some other characters haven't gotten rid of him:
"We all have friends with a certain degree of jerk-factor. At least I do. ;).......or simply because he's a friend and you don't quit friends."

Well, the characters in your fictional world might not quit friends, but you certainly do.