Author: Beth

I am The Crafty Nerd! :D

Introducing Santoki: My new Kishar character

That’s right, I’m creating a new character for Kishar! Her name is Santoki, and she’s a rabbit Hiwani. (One of my Kishar friends – I think it was Pumpkin – suggested her last name should be Caerbannog, haha.)

Wait, why are you making a new character?

There are a couple of reasons I’m working on making a new character. First off: because I think it’ll be fun! It’ll be nice to mix things up and have the choice between playing two different characters. Additionally, making a new character will allow me to try out some things I’ve never done before, like:

  • Working with costuming that’s a little more involved than “throw on some elf ears and a vaguely in-genre dress” — after all, I want to do a convincing job of being a rabbit, and that happens with more elaborate costuming!
  • Attempting to play a LARP character that’s not essentially just me in elf ears. Because let’s be honest, here — as much as I love Ëlinyr, she’s pretty much just me in elf ears. And sometimes that gets a little old.

Why the heck are you playing a rabbit?

Well, for one thing, I like rabbits. They’re cute, and some of them help with crafting — like angora rabbits, who produce fluff you can spin into yarn and knit or crochet with! Plus, rabbits can be fierce too. I mean, come on, look at the Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python’s Holy Grail – that’s one fierce rabbit.

Small plush Monty Python rabbit, next to a Pinkie Pie figurine.
A tiny Monty Python bunny, complete with lots of teeth. So fierce!

What’s Santoki going to be like?

While I haven’t figured out everything about Santoki yet, I’ve fleshed out a fair bit of her character already.

Costuming

Me dressed up in what I've got of my costume for Santoki, which includes her shirt, pants, and bunny ears.
An early test of Santoki’s costuming! (please ignore the mess, though)

Santoki’s costume is currently composed of the following:

  • Black rabbit ears on a headband, with the headband covered by a fabric bandana of sorts to cover up my actual ears
  • A black tail to match the ears, although I haven’t figured out how it’s attaching to my costume yet
  • Flowy pants and a midriff-showing shirt over a black bodysuit and black leggings —my plan is to try to get some faux fur and sew it to the front of the bodysuit, to help sell the illusion of me being a rabbit a little better (after all, rabbits do have fluffy tummies)
  • A little bit of pink cream face paint on the end of my nose to create the illusion of a bunny nose, and whiskers drawn on with eyeliner pen

I’m really excited about getting to experiment with costuming for Santoki!

Character class

Santoki’s going to be a Chirurgeon — essentially, a healer that can fight too. There are times when we’re pretty darn short on healers in Kishar, and I figure having a character that can heal as well as fight will be helpful. Her weapon will likely be a staff to start with since that’s about all my clumsy self can really handle well. Plus, it means I don’t have to learn an entirely new weapon for Santoki, as Ëlinyr uses a staff when she’s not slinging spell packets.

Personality: Santoki’s quiet. Not necessarily the “blend into the background” type of quiet, but more of the “hey, can you speak a little bit louder?” kind. At least, outside of battle anyway — when Santoki’s fighting, she’s a loud and noisy and fierce rabbit. I’ll be trying to stick with how rabbits are in real life, as they’re typically pretty quiet unless something makes them scream. And from what I’ve heard, rabbit screams are pretty loud and terrifying. (That’s based on what I’ve heard from others, anyway — I’ve never heard a rabbit scream, and honestly, I’m not sure I want to.)

Background

Santoki’s originally from the mountains near Shalazar (the Sapphire City), and she grew up with her parents and 40 brothers and sisters (there were more, but they got older and moved out on their own). She’s interested in folklore and mythology, but mainly as a hobby – “I’m not exactly the scholarly type”, she’d probably say.

She originally thought she was going to spend her life working on her parents’ sheep farm, turning wool into cloth and yarn, but eventually, she learned about the Adventurer’s Guild while visiting a bookstore/coffee shop in the Scholar’s District of Kishar, Lin’s Rest. (Yes, Lin is short for Ëlinyr – and yes, Ëlinyr owns a combination bookstore and coffee shop.) After talking to the owner about some Hiwani folklore Santoki was interested in, the Guild came up, and Santoki thought “hey, maybe that’d be better than working as a sheep farmer” — and she decided to join up with the guild.

What about Ëlinyr?

I’m not retiring Ëlinyr quite yet, though I did hit her progression cap (or level cap, essentially) at the last game of season 8. While I can still get new skills, I’m not getting them automatically anymore — instead, I can purchase them using kismet, the in-game currency that enables players to get extra skills and unique items in exchange for helping out with the game in some way.

I’ll be posting more about Santoki in the coming months, as the start of season 9 of Kishar gets closer — and possibly creating a site for her, as I did for Ëlinyr and her in-character writings. I’m really excited about getting to play as Santoki!

My 2019 in books

Happy new year, folks! I can’t believe it’s 2020 already — it feels like Gen Con was only a few weeks ago. With 2019 at an end, I thought it might be a good time to look back on some of the media I consumed over the year, and what better place to start than with the books I’ve read?

I don’t talk about books nearly as much as I should on the blog. I read a lot, and I really should share more of what I read. However, I’m pretty terrible at describing books. I don’t know why — I just know that I struggle to do justice to a book when I’m describing it to someone. (Maybe that’s a sign that I should do more book reviews on the blog, and get more experience talking about books?) For my 2019 books, though, I want to share what I read over the year and touch on what books were my absolute favorites. So, with the help of Goodreads (where I keep track of my reading), I present to you: my 2019 in Books!

2019: The year of book series reading

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a good book series. Sometimes just one book in a particular setting isn’t just enough for me — I often find myself wanting to see more of certain characters and worlds. 2019 seemed to be the year of book series reading — I read through five different book series and worked my way through a chunk of two more:

Some of these I’d read before, like most of Anne Bishop’s The Others series, but that was mainly to refresh my memory before I tackled the last two books in the series. Out of all these, though, I think the best series I read this year was The Expanse (which, to be honest, I’m obsessed with).

Cover Art for Leviathan Wakes, book one of The ExpanseMy favorite series: The Expanse

I ended up plowing my way through the books in The Expanse after I finished watching season three of the TV show this summer. I couldn’t get enough of the storytelling and world-building, so I dove right into the eight-book series and finished it just in time for season four to come out! For those of you who enjoy science fiction, especially hard sci-fi, you’ll like The Expanse. If you’ve only seen the TV show and are worried that any differences between the books might make you frustrated, I can share my experience. There’s just enough difference between the two to keep me interested, and the changes made from book to TV make sense and don’t detract from the storytelling.

 

Front cover of Twelve Kings in SharakaiRunner-up: The Song of Shattered Sands

Now, I’m still only halfway through book two of The Song of Shattered Sands at this point, but I’m enjoying what I’ve read. The worldbuilding is well done, the story is engaging, and I find myself coming back to the books eagerly each day to see what Çeda, Emre, and the other main characters are up to.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes!

My full year in books

If you’re curious to see all the books I’ve read this year, feel free to check out My 2019 in Books on Goodreads! It’s got every single book I read this year listed, plus some additional fun stats about my 2019 reading.

Stay tuned for my next post on my 2019 in media, focusing on games I’ve played!

A short hiatus

Hey folks – I’m sorry I didn’t get anything posted last week. Last week was crazy, work-wise, and tomorrow starts my two-week conference marathon, so I’m unfortunately going on a bit of a hiatus.

Never fear, though! I’ve got plans for new podcast episodes to record when I get back, and I’m hoping to have some fancy yarn to show off when I get back from my second conference! I do love doing a little yarn tourism while I’m traveling, and it’ll be my first ever trip to New Orleans, so I’m looking forward to checking out the local yarn stores near my hotel.

Thanks for sticking with me, and I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule in a few weeks!

A ramble about ArchRavels

This week was originally going to be a podcast week, but I caught a cold. Recording a podcast with a cold is less than ideal since I sound weird right now and keep having to blow my nose. So! Instead, I’m going to post about one of the things I was going to include in the podcast: ArchRavels! It’s on Kickstarter, and as of right now, there are 34 hours left before the campaign finishes. It’s over 300% funded, and as of the time I’m writing this, it’s about $3000 away from unlocking the last stretch goal.

ArchRavels is a game that I’ve been interested in since I heard about it at Gen Con this summer, back when it was called ArchRavelry. I’m sure you can guess why I’m interested in it: it’s a game about yarn crafting! It’s like it was made for me, someone who enjoys board games and crafts. The game seems pretty straightforward: Compete against other players to see who can craft the most items before the end of the game. Just like in real life, you have to collect patterns and yarn before you can make things – and also just like in real life, some events can happen that’ll make crafting difficult, like the cat.

Tangled Cat card from ArchRavels.

Just like in real life, cats can come in and mess with your yarn, causing you to stop, untangle the cat (or in my case, splice ends together because someone decided yarn makes a good chew toy), and lose a turn while you sort things out.

I backed the game pretty quickly after it came out, and the stretch goals added since then have made me even more excited about the game! There are additional characters you can play as, more patterns to make (including the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Wizard packs), and even an upgraded insert for keeping game items organized. The last stretch goal is one I hope happens: they’re going to make a Cat meeple you can put in a player’s yarn bowl when you draw the Tangled Cat card if they hit that last goal.

If you want to learn more about ArchRavels, check out the campaign on Kickstarter or read the rulebook for the game here. Once I get my copy, I’ll be sure to review it for everyone!  (Now, to wait until next August for it to finish production!)

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo 2019!

This weekend, I went to the Indiana Toy and Comic Expo for the first time – and had a great time! I’ve wanted to go for a couple of years now. Up until this year, it was held immediately after Gen Con, which is when I usually end up experiencing con burnout. With it being in October this year, nothing was stopping me this time around! 

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo ad.

Indiana Toy and Comic Expo focuses on precisely what the name says – toys and comics! It was held at the Monroe County Convention Center here in Bloomington, and it seemed like it took up the entire convention center. (Granted, the convention center isn’t all that big, but it’s still nice to see that the expo filled it up!) Events included a costume contest, a custom action figure contest, and a silent auction. Plus, there was a lot of space dedicated to vendors, so there were plenty of goodies to look at and buy! I ended up picking up the following: 

  • a Sailor Moon Perler bead magnet
  • some cute bunny cryptid prints
  • a set of Star Trek: The Next Generation trading cards
  • an autographed photo of the actor who played Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space 9

There were a lot of folks in costume, and I also managed to grab some photos from the costume contest as well! (Some of them didn’t turn out so well, as my phone is a little slow at taking pictures and some of the action shots turned out blurry or awkward.) I especially enjoyed the Harry Dresden cosplayer pretending I was a demon and blasting me with his blasting rod. (I guess the Trill spots made me an easy target, haha.) I posted all my costume contest photos on The Crafty Nerd’s Facebook page – you can see them in my ITCE album here.

And before you ask, of course, I went in costume – Jadzia Dax got a little more time in the costume spotlight!

Me in my Jadzia Dax costume!

I also got to hang out with some of my nerdy blogging buddies – Rachel, Lizz, and Tony!

Myself as Jadzia, Rachel in her Timebuster gear, and Lizz as the 13th Doctor.
Myself, Rachel, and Lizz! Not pictured: Tony, because he was taking the picture.

I also ran into another familiar face while I was there – or, more accurately, familiar droid!

Rachel and I with the same R2-D2 I posted about a few weeks ago.

And yes, that’s the same R2-D2 I had my picture taken with at IU Southeast a few weeks ago! That little droid sure gets around. 😊

Overall, I enjoyed ITCE – it was busy but not overcrowded, and there was enough to do and see without feeling overwhelmed. I’m planning on coming back next year!

 

The Crafty Nerd Podcast: Episode 2

Okay, I swear, after this episode I’ll move to a saner posting schedule. I’m so ridiculously excited about this project of mine, though, and ended up cranking out another episode.

In this episode…

  • I ramble about how hard it is for me to do a podcast,  especially when I’m so used to working off scripts (so many filler words!).
  • I tell the story of my first ever LARP experience! (It’s the first nerdy thing that popped into my head.)
  • I also talk about how I ended up in Kishar, especially after that first LARP experience.

Give it a listen! I think it turned out better than the first episode. 😀

Mentioned in this episode:

Kishar LARP – http://www.kisharlarp.org

 

The Crafty Nerd Podcast: Episode 1

Holy crap, you guys, I did it.

I recorded my first ever podcast episode. It’s short, and it’s rambly, but IT EXISTS! This first episode has me rambling my way through a podcast version of What I’m Watching, which was… interesting. Plus, I talk about craft projects I’m working on and video games I’m playing. You can listen to Episode 1 of The Crafty Nerd Podcast using the player below.

You should also be able to find me on Google Play Music, YouTube, and Spotify shortly – I’ll still keep sharing new episodes on the blog as I make them, though, so no worries about needing to subscribe to listen to the podcast.

Podcast shout-outs:

Where I’ve been the past two months

I’m so sorry I ended up dropping off the radar, folks. It seems like every year after Gen Con, I end up a little bit burnt out and end up not posting for anywhere from a few weeks to a month or so, but this time my post-Gen Con hiatus ended up being nearly two months long. Yikes.

During my accidental hiatus…

  • I’ve been so busy at work – I’ve taught ten workshops since the beginning of the semester (end of August), designed three posters to present at conferences, and put together printed materials for a conference as well. I’ve been so busy it’s insane.
  • I bought a Nintendo Switch Lite and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in an attempt to get back into gaming and find something to write about. Instead, Breath of the Wild has eaten up all my spare time over the past week. Please send help. 🤣
  • Two games of Kishar have happened – Ëlinyr successfully defeated armies in combat, managed to learn how to use a staff, helped stop a civil war, and rescued her elf-boyfriend Alair from certain doom.
  • I backed ArchRavels on Kickstarter! Which I’m really excited about.
  • I hung out with R2-D2 all day at a work event last week! It was pretty awesome.

Me kneeling next to a remote-controlled R2-D2 in front of IT Training's booth at Game On.

With all that happening, though, I haven’t had much energy (or brain) for writing up new posts. However, I’ve got some ideas for new content here that’ll hopefully be added soon – I’ve just gotta put everything together.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks – I appreciate it, and I promise this year’s post-Gen Con hiatus is done!

Gen Con 2019: The Haul

One of the big reasons people go to Gen Con is to buy games – lots of them. And this year, I definitely bought some games! Not as many as some folks, but I did bring home a couple new additions to my game collection. Of course, I found some not-quite-game-related goodies too! My Gen Con 2019 haul is a little smaller than it’s been in previous years, but here’s just about all of it!

Photo of my Gen Con 2019 Haul.
Some – but not all! – of the haul.

Want to hear more about what I got? Read on!

Read More

Gen Con 2019: The Cosplay Post

Seeing all the different cosplays at Gen Con is one of my favorite parts of the convention. Well, that and having the chance to do some cosplaying of my own! This post is all about the cosplay at Gen Con 2019.

As you all know, I brought two costumes to Gen Con this year – President Laura Roslin and Jadzia Dax. While not many people recognized President Roslin, plenty of people recognized Dax!

My Gen Con 2019 cosplay photos - President Roslin on the left, and Jadzia Dax on the right.
Left: President Roslin, right: Jadzia Dax

Apparently I did a good job with the Trill spots, as I got plenty of compliments on them. That made the 30+ minutes I spent awkwardly applying them while looking in the mirror worth it!

Now, I know you don’t just want to see the costumes I wore. However, with the LARP I was running on Saturday I didn’t have too many chances to get pictures of people on Saturday (the big cosplay day). Thankfully, Ross stepped in as photographer for me! He took loads of pictures of the costume parade, and here they are, in addition to the pictures I took while walking the con!

Read More

Gen Con 2019: The Report

It’s that time of year again – time for the Gen Con 2019 report!

Lucas Oil Stadium, with the football field covered with board gaming tables.
I’ll admit, I’ve only ever gone to Lucas Oil Stadium to play nerdy games, and not to watch the Colts…

A record breaking year

This year was a pretty good year for Gen Con! The convention had another record-breaking year, with almost 70,000 attendees, 19,600 ticketed events, and 538 exhibitors. Plus, Gen Con and Make-a-Wish helped grant a 13-year-old boy his wish to come to Gen Con and play Dungeons and Dragons! Drake Kiderlen made the first dice roll of the convention, too, for Gen Con’s annual charity dice roll.

Drake Kiderlen making the first dice roll of Gen Con on Thursday morning.
Drake ended up rolling two sixes!

Much like last year, I kept up with what was going on at the convention via the Fans of Gen Con Facebook group. The group kept everyone up to date on will-call line wait times, helped reunite people with lost badges, and also helped people collect badge ribbons, among other things. There was also a fair bit of complaining about the usual things – backpacks in the dealers hall, the wait times in the will-call line, how long it took to get food at the food trucks… but others in the group did their best to help keep things positive, which was good.

A quiet Gen Con for the Crafty Nerd, sort of

This Gen Con was actually a little more subdued on my end, due to Ross being sick on and off through the convention. He’s been dealing with mysterious stomach issues, and due to that he didn’t cosplay this year (which you probably noticed already, from my daily Gen Con posts). I ended up keeping a pretty light schedule as a result, just in case Ross needed me. I still had a great time, though, and got to see a lot of great games as well as some fun traditions, like Cardhalla:

Cardhalla from day 1 of Gen Con.
Cardhalla 2019, in its early stages.

Until recently, I wasn’t sure what Cardhalla was about. People built card towers, knocked them all down at the end of the con, and somehow it related to charity – that was all I knew. Well, at the end of the convention, people toss coins at the card towers in order to knock them over, and all the coins are collected for charity! I love how Gen Con finds so many ways to give back to the community.

Cardhalla on Saturday morning.
Cardhalla on Saturday morning. I’m bummed that I didn’t get to see it on Sunday!

Overall, Gen Con was pretty good this year. There were more vendors to check out than I could actually visit, and I got to hang out with friends I don’t see often. I got to eat tasty cupcakes from The Flying Cupcake (like the butterbeer flavored Wizards Unite!), and enjoyed tasty food at downtown Indy restaurants. I got to dress up as Jadzia Dax! And, I got to help run a LARP too!

The Crafty Nerd’s Gen Con 2019 posts

To make things easy to find, I’ll link to detailed coverage of different aspects of my Gen Con experience here. (These links will become active as I write the posts!)

Stay tuned for the next post in my Gen Con 2019 coverage, focusing on all the goodies I got at the con!

Gen Con 2019, Day 3 and 4

Since Day 3 is mostly going to be covered in a post specifically about the Blue Rose LARP, and there wasn’t much to Day 4, I’m going to cover these both in a slightly belated post.

Day 3

Day 3 of Gen Con was a blast! Granted, I spent most of it helping run Trials of the Rose: The Call to Adventure, but that’s what you go to Gen Con for, right? Running or playing games!

Before prep started for the Blue Rose LARP, I got the chance to wander around the convention center a bit. I saw some awesome cosplayers, and also ran into this little guy!

Gray and white dog dressed up as Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

This is Gandalf, and he’s become a bit of a Gen Con celebrity over the years. Ross and I were behind Gandalf and his owner in the costume parade last year, and I ended up following Gandalf’s Facebook page afterwards. This sweet little dog gets to go to a lot of conventions, and probably has more costumes than I do! I’m happy I got to see him – and he definitely loves his fans, he ran right up to me as soon as I took my camera out and gave me a bunch of doggy nuzzles. I even got his pawtograph!

A photo of Gandalf the dog wearing a Starfleet uniform, with a paw print signature at the bottom right corner.

After wandering the convention center for a bit, it was time for the LARP!

Me wearing a purple shirt with puffy sleeves and a green corset dress.

I’ll cover most of the LARP in its own post – from the prep I did to the actual storytelling that happened. I will say, I think I did a much better job storytelling at Trials of the Rose than I did at the City of Heroes LARP last year. (Then again, I think anything would have been better than that, given that I had a nasty anxiety attack just before the City of Heroes LARP.)

Day 4

Me wearing a Toothless kigurumi.
I was one exhausted nerd on Sunday.

Day 4 of Gen Con didn’t really happen this year, due to Ross being sick. 🙁 He’s been struggling with stomach issues on and off for months now, and parts of Gen Con were particularly rough. On Sunday morning, he wasn’t feeling well at all, so we decided to just pack up and go home. It didn’t help that the Marriott never actually sent a bellhop up to help us with all our luggage, despite us calling twice, and never passed the word on to valet parking that we wanted to pick up our car. (Then again, I think we got off easy with hotel difficulties, given that I heard a story about a valet backing someone’s car into a window at the JW Marriott…) Once we dragged all our stuff downstairs, and once the valet brought Luna up from wherever they parked her, we headed home to look at all the goodies we got and relax a bit. (And, in my case, wash lots of costume laundry.)

And that’s the day-by-day report of Gen Con 2019! I’ll be posting more about the con in general, cosplayers at the con, the Blue Rose LARP, and my Gen Con haul later!

Gen Con 2019, Day 2

Today was my big cosplay day, since tomorrow is the Blue Rose LARP. And I am SO PLEASED with how my Jadzia Dax cosplay turned out.

Me, dressed up as Jadzia Dax.

Sure, it took me a half hour to get all those Trill spots on, but it was so worth all the work! I got so many compliments on my costume, and even on my Trill spots. Plus, the costume itself was less toasty than I thought it would be! However, I ended up not switching to Ezri midway through the day. Just about everyone I talked to said Jadzia was better than Ezri, and so I figured I may as well stick to Jadzia. Ah well – maybe I’ll do Ezri for Halloween.

I also got to help my friend Kasi turn into a Trill! Drawing her Trill spots on took a lot less time than drawing my own on, thankfully.

My friend Kasi and I, both wearing Starfleet science officer uniforms, with trill spot makeup on.

Kasi played a doctor in the Deep Space Ten LARP today, and I’m glad I could help her with her spots!

While wandering around the dealer’s hall, after posing for some costume photos, I stumbled across something I’ve been wanting for a while now: a Toothless kigurumi.

The top half of my new Toothless kigurumi.

Of course I bought it, and I’m not going to lie, I wore it around Gen Con for a couple hours.  It’s so comfy, and cute, and it has pockets! It’s amazing and I love it, haha.

Today also involved some last-minute planning for tomorrow’s LARP game. I’m really excited for it – and I hope everything goes well tomorrow!

And there you have it: my Friday at Gen Con! (It looks like I didn’t do much, but there was a lot of aimless wandering in costume, heh.) Come back tomorrow for Day 3 at Gen Con!

Gen Con 2019, Day 1

Day one of Gen Con has been a blast so far – and it’s not quite over yet! I’ve got some down time, though, and figured I’d post about the day so far.

Georgia St. sign in downtown Indy temporarily replaced with a Gen Con Ln sign.

Long story short: Gen Con is great, as always!  I always love how I manage to find people from all areas of my life here – in the past 36 hours, I’ve seen two people from my LARP group, one of my co-workers, a bunch of folks from a professional organization I’m a member of, and my mom-in-law – all here at the convention! It’s strange and wonderful, seeing people from all the different parts of my life in the same place.

Lucas Oil Stadium, entering the football field where, instead of football, boardgames are being played.
I love going into Lucas Oil Stadium to see the football field covered in games.

Today was split between wandering around the convention center/dealer’s hall and hanging out with some friends at the board game library. I’ll admit, I was pretty excited to get to play games on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium – they’re definitely the type of game I’m interested in as opposed to football, haha.

Me dressed as President Roslyn from Battlestar Galactica, in front of a wall with Battlestar Galactica characters on it.

And while I didn’t end up wearing the costume for very long (multiple layers of polyester = very bad idea), I did manage to get a couple of photos in my President Roslin costume in front of this advertisement for a Battlestar Galactica game! Ross and I picked it up, and Ross is currently watching videos about it as I’m writing, heheh.

A demo of the game Fuzzy Mage Fight.

And speaking of games, I picked up a copy of Fuzzy Mage Fight – I’m excited to play it, it looks like fun! (Plus, I’m a sucker for cute furry animals.) I also picked up some Blue Rose books (surprise, surprise) and a couple of other goodies. All in all, a fun first day at the convention!

Tomorrow, I’m demoing the game Arch Ravelry, as well as finally getting to wear my Jadzia costume! I hope I don’t end up roasting in it like I did in my President Roslin costume, but if I do end up overheating, I have a secret backup Jadzia costume, just in case. 🙂