Category: Games

The social distancing nerd (or, how I’m surviving staying at home)

Yes, folks, I’m still here! I didn’t give up on the blog — although I’ll be honest, the past two months have been rough. I’ve been a hot mess half the time, between anxiety and depression and stress. It’s kind of hard to try to come up with topics to write about when you’re struggling emotionally, and it’s been a rough time in general for pretty much everyone I know. However, it hit me yesterday: I do have something to write about! I can talk about what I’ve been doing to help keep myself occupied while in stay-at-home mode. Surprise, surprise – it’s been a lot of crafting and gaming.

Crafting

I’ve been doing a lot of crafting. For a little while, it was the only thing keeping me sane. I only had to focus on where to put the next stitch, or how to piece fabric together.  I’ve made quite a few things since I went into stay-at-home mode in March.

Hand sewing: more relaxing than using a machine

I did a lot of hand sewing because, for some reason, I find it less stressful than sewing with a machine. I made a lot of face masks! Everyone’s making them, everyone should be wearing them, and I made a couple of really nice ones for myself and friends. I hand-sewed them, too,

A couple of hand-sewn masks - one is made out of rabbit fabric, the next is Star Trek themed, and the last is made out of sewing machine print fabric.
A couple of masks in progress.

I also picked up quilting again! With some of the leftover fabric from the masks, I started a simple small quilt that’ll likely end up becoming a wall hanging.

Quilt top featuring fabric with cats, dragons, and rabbits on it.
My tiny little quilt top!

Yarn crafts: because I can’t just sit and watch TV

You know I’ve just about always got some sort of yarn craft in progress, too – and stay-at-home time is no different. With all the TV I’ve been watching, I need something to keep my hands busy with. I’m currently working on three yarn craft projects, all crochet:

  • a large Rozeta in worsted weight yarn (affectionately called Rozetazilla)
  • a corner-to-corner wrap using a couple of Caron Cakes
  • a Trio blanket, using three Scheepjes Whirls, which is probably the most expensive blanket I’ve ever made (Whirls are lovely, but also pricey!)

Gaming

Of course, I wouldn’t be The Crafty Nerd if I didn’t play any games! They’ve all been online for the most part – playing games online has been my primary mode of socialization over the past two months.

Depths of the Weald: playing Blue Rose online using Roll20

While my usual Blue Rose game is on hiatus, Kasi (who plays Paroum in the game J runs) decided to start her own Blue Rose campaign!

Screenshot of Roll20 interface, in the middle of a game.
A screenshot from the middle of an epic battle we had yesterday.

J and I and a few friends from Kishar have been playing in that game, and Kasi runs it on Roll20. I hadn’t had much experience with Roll20 before the Depths of the Weald game, but I’m enjoying it as an online alternative to tabletop games. We can use maps, I can keep track of my character sheet inside the app, and if we wanted to, we could even do video/audio chat over Roll20! (Our group tends to use Facebook Messenger’s video chat options, though.)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons — the next best thing to having an actual social life

The new Animal Crossing game came out at the PERFECT time. Everyone’s stuck at home for an indeterminate amount of time, and we needed some way to cope with it. Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Screenshot of a celebration in Animal Crossing.

Not only do you get to make friends with cute animals, but you can also hang out with your real-life friends! For example, Kasi, Rana, and I took a field trip to one of our museums. We wandered around explored all the bugs and fish and fossils in the museum and took lots of pictures too.

Screenshot of people in Animal Crossing looking at an aquarium full of fish.
From left to right: Rana, me, and Kasi checking out some fish.

Plus, when it’s your birthday, your animal friends throw you a party! (Yep, I celebrated my birthday almost two weeks ago, and partied with my Animal Crossing buddies Katt, Melba, and Hamlet.)

Screenshot of a birthday party in Animal Crossing.
They even made me cake!

It’s silly, how attached I’ve gotten to my Animal Crossing villagers – I won’t lie, when I came back to the game after a week of not playing, and they all said some variation of  “where’ve you been the past week? we missed you!” I just about started to cry. (I won’t leave you alone again for that long, animal friends, I promise!)

Blog posts

Now that I’m starting to work myself out of the worst of my anxiety and depression, I’m going to try to write more. Work doesn’t drain my energy as much as it used to (seriously, while I love driving, dealing with traffic in Bloomington is stressful!), so hopefully, I’ll have it in me to write once a week again. I’m going to get the What I’m Watching series back up and running again, and while I won’t have any posts about Kishar or my other Blue Rose game for a while, I’ll try to write about the games I am playing.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks — I hope everyone’s hanging in there during these downright scary times.

Screenshots from the game Magic: Puzzle Quest.

Magic: Puzzle Quest – my latest obsession

I’ve been playing Magic: Puzzle Quests a lot lately! Until I found out about the game through J, I’d never even heard of it, but I’m glad I started playing it. After all, I do love puzzle games, and I also enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering, so Magic: Puzzle Quest has been a lot of fun for me.

A little about the game

One of the core features of the game is using Planeswalkers and their abilities to help augment your puzzle-solving. When playing, you choose a Planeswalker to play with, and you end up fighting other Planeswalkers as you go through the game. Everyone starts out with Nissa as their first Planeswalker, but you can earn mana crystals (or buy them) to add more of them to your collection.

Screenshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest - on the left is a screenshot of my collection of planeswalkers, and on the right is detailed stats for Saheeli Rai.
Left side: my current collection of Planeswalkers. Right side: Detailed stats about Saheeli Rai from the game.

In addition to collecting Planeswalkers, you also collect cards (which probably isn’t surprising). The cards fall into three categories in Magic: Puzzle Quest – creatures, spells, and supports. The cards you collect are then used to build 10-card decks for your Planeswalkers. While the abilities each card has in the game might be slightly different than their physical counterparts, they largely align with actual cards in Magic: The Gathering, which is actually helping me learn how to play Magic a little better!

Screemshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest that focus on cards. On the left is a close-up of Foundry of the Consuls, in the center is a collection of my cards, and on the right is the card Flames of the Raze-Boar asking who I want to deal damage to.
A couple of different views involving cards in Magic: Puzzle Quest – on the right is one of my favorites for raining thopter doom on people with Saheeli. The center screenshot shows a small percentage of the cards in my library, and on the right a card’s been played that wants to know who I want to damage.

There are plenty of ways to add cards to your collection, and many of those ways are free! You can get new cards by grabbing a free booster pack every 6 hours, winning boosters as prizes in events, or buying them with mana crystals.

Gameplay basics

A screenshot of gameplay, where the opponent's only creature was just destroyed by a stack of 12 thopter tokens.
Oh hey, look, someone just rained down the Thopterpocalypse down on the opponent. 😀 (seriously, look, that’s a stack of 12 thopters!)

The gameplay is straightforward: match three or more colored orbs to earn mana and Planeswalker loyalty points that can be used to play cards or use Planeswalker abilities. A match ends when one of the Planeswalkers runs out of hit points, and the goal is to be the last Planeswalker standing. Winning matches gets you mana runes (which can be used to level up your Planeswalkers), as well as additional goodies like mana crystals and even card booster packs (if you’re playing in an event).

Screenshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest - the left screenshot shows story mode, and the right side shows events.
Left: an example of Story Mode. Right: A sampling of the events you might find in the game.

There are two main ways to play the game: in Story Mode, or by playing in events. Story Mode has you fighting various computer-controlled Planeswalkers while telling stories of events in the Magic: The Gathering universe. Events, on the other hand, have you playing player-created decks controlled by the computer to win all sorts of prizes. Events typically have a restriction on what color Planeswalkers you can use, and often have a theme you can build an event deck around to meet some of the criteria for winning extra prizes.

Where to find it

Curious to try it out for yourself? You can find it on the Android and iOS app stores!

Android: Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest on Google Play

iOS: Magic: The Gathering – PQ on the App Store

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!

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!)

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, 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!

Keeping organized – the Magic: The Gathering edition

Welcome to another post in the Keeping Organized series – this post focuses on how I keep my Magic: The Gathering stuff organized. If you’re not all that familiar with Magic, you might think “come on, how much organizing does a deck of cards need?” Surprisingly, there’s a lot of other pieces that go into playing a game of Magic. When I started playing, I had no idea how much stuff went along with whatever deck I’m playing with. So, here’s how I keep organized when I’m playing Magic: The Gathering!

The bag

Image of a cream colored bag with the text 'Some days feel like Helvetica' on the front.
It’s not exactly a Magic-themed bag, but my inner typography nerd loves it – and it fits all my M:tG stuff perfectly.

First off, I have a bag to hold everything in. It keeps all my Magic stuff together so it’s not all over my house, and also makes it easy to grab and go when I want to play. While there are plenty of bags out there that are made specifically for holding Magic gear, I just use a simple tote bag. (I have no shortage of them, since I tend to collect them for project bags.)

If you’re looking for a Magic-specific bag, here are a couple that I’ve had my eye on:

USA Gear Deck Storage Bag on Amazon

Ultra Pro Gaming Case on Amazon

The deck box

A green, heavy-duty Magic deck box. It holds two decks of cards and also has a tray to hold extra accessories.
I love this deck box – it’s way better than the cardboard box my Saheeli deck originally came in.

This one’s kind of obvious. My deck box holds whatever deck I’m playing with, and it also holds tokens and counters that might be needed. The box I’m using now is a fancy one that holds two decks! (Eventually I’ll get a second deck.)

There are many different types of deck boxes out there, to fit any budget and any level of collecting. From simple cardboard boxes to heavy-duty storage, you’ll have no problem finding a deck box that suits you.  Here are a couple to get you started:

Ultra Pro Set of 5 Deck Boxes on Amazon

Ultimate Guard 200 Card Twin Flip N Tray Xenoskin Deck Case

Caseling Hard Case Bag for Card Games

A label maker

The same deck box shown earlier, this time focusing on the label on the front which says 'Thopterpocalypse - Izzet Artifacts Matter'.
Okay, so Saheeli doesn’t directly make thopters, but a bunch of other cards in my deck do – and it’s fun raining thopter doom on people.

While this probably isn’t necessary for those of us just starting out in the hobby, people with huge collections might benefit from a label maker. As you can see in the image above, it can be really helpful if you have a lot of pre-built decks and need to know what’s in each deck box. (Plus, it’s fun coming up with silly deck names, haha.) There are lots of options for label makers out there, and here’s a link to the one my friend J has:

Brother P-touch Label Maker on Amazon

A container for extra accessories

A tupperware container holding some small dice, a Magic: The Gathering health counter, and a dinosaur token counter.
Sometimes, simpler is better – and this is about as simple as it gets for keeping M:tG accessories together.

While my deck box does hold a fair amount of stuff, it doesn’t hold everything I need to play Magic – and that’s where my little tupperware container comes on. It currently holds health counters, dice, and regular counters, and I could easily stash extra tokens in there too. Depending on how many extra accessories you have, you might need a little more than just a tupperware container, though. My friend J, for example, has a large organizer that holds lots of counters, health counters, and other things that might come in handy when playing.

Large plastic container with the Magic: The Gathering logo on the front, holding lots of dice, health counters, and glass pebbles that are used as counters.
And sometimes, you need something bigger to keep all the bits and pieces you need organized.

You can probably find an empty container laying around at your house to use, if you need one for your extra Magic pieces.

A card holder

Wooden card holder, holding up seven Magic cards.
Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

This is quite possibly my favorite piece of Magic gear. It’s pretty simple: just a piece of wood with slits cut into it to hold up my cards while I play. This simple little piece of wood helps me see all my cards at a glance, and I can use it to keep them organized while I play. It also makes it so I can crochet or knit while I’m playing, which is an extra bonus.

Hardwood Card Holder on Amazon

Websites to keep track of my cards

I’m currently using two sites to keep track of my cards: MTGGoldfish and TCGplayer. MTG Goldfish will be more useful to me in the future, when I have more than one Commander deck.  TCG Player is definitely more helpful for me now, as it helps me keep track of all the cards I have. I figure keeping track of everything now, when I’m just starting out, will be way easier than trying to catalog everything later if I end up with a large collection of cards.

MTGGoldfish

TCGplayer

May 2019’s Nerdy Tidbits

Welcome to Nerdy Tidbits: a monthly series that collects all the little nerdy things that happen during the month that aren’t quite big enough for their own post! This month, I’ve got some costume planning, a nerdy moment at a bagel shop (of all places), and a short ramble about the first Kishar game of the year!

Gen Con costume planning

The first nerdy tidbit focuses on Gen Con costuming – which shouldn’t be a surprise! Costume planning is always a big part of my Gen Con planning each year, and this year is no different. It took me a while, but I finally figured out what costumes I’m wearing this year! I’ve actually got a bit of a theme going: strong women of sci-fi.

Photo-collage of President Laura Roslin (left) from Battlestar Galactica and Captain Kathryn Janeway (right) from Star Trek Voyager.
Two of my favorite strong women in sci-fi: President Roslin and Captain Janeway.

And this year, I only have to buy one of these costumes! I have a suit in my closet that I think should work out really well for Roslin – and if not, there’s always Goodwill. It might be a little tricky for people to immediately recognize me as Roslin – but I’ve got a plan for that. Thanks to the Denna costume I wore a few years ago, I have a bunch of name tags laying around… so I’ll just stick one on that says “President Laura Roslin” in big letters and hope that does the trick. While my hair might be a little too red to properly pass for Roslin, I think with some styling it should be close enough.

For Janeway, I’ve been meaning to buy myself a proper Starfleet uniform for a while now. I think this is as good a reason as any to get one. FanPlusFriend’s Costume Store has a Voyager-era uniform for a reasonable price, so I’m planning on getting the uniform there. I should be able to get my hair into a style similar to what Janeway’s got in the above picture, too. I’m excited about not needing a wig for either costume this year – the Sailor Moon wig from last year is more than enough wig, haha.

A nerdy encounter at the West Baden Bagel Bistro

Photo collage of a number of different minis and some homemade mini terrain.
You know, when I went in for a bagel for lunch, I didn’t expect to see minis, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Last weekend, I met the fine folks that run the West Baden Bagel Bistro, and found out they’re also a bunch of gamers! We talked about games we play, showed off minis we’ve painted, and generally nerded out. It was great – and I had a tasty bagel, too! If any of you find yourselves down in West Baden Springs, IN, you should definitely stop by the West Baden Bagel Bistro.

The start of Kishar: Season 8

Me, dressed up as my Kishar character, Ëlinyr. In the background, on the car behind me, is a plush Toothless wearing a brown headband that says "sand dragon".
Toothless and I in costume, and ready for a new season of Kishar!

This season of Kishar started off with a bang, so to speak – we went from an air of excitement and revelry to mourning the loss of the sultan over the course of the two-day game. (That new notebook I bought Ëlinyr definitely got a lot of use!) I’ll be writing up a summary of what happened from Ëlinyr’s point of view soon – you can find that summary over on Ëlinyr’s blog within the next few days, and I’ll also link to it here when it’s done.

And there’s May’s nerdy tidbits for you all – here’s hoping this turns into a fun series of little nerdy things!

Ëlinyr’s new notebook

The first official Kishar game of the season is this weekend! I’m excited to get my elf ears on and slip back into the role of Ëlinyr, the sassy thin-blooded elf scholar. I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things I do to help myself keep organized when LARPing is to take notes – and other players find my notes really helpful when we try to figure out if events in past games have anything to do with what we’re facing today. (There’s a reason Ëlinyr ended up becoming the official scribe of one of the player groups in Kishar!) However, the notebooks I’ve been using for Ëlinyr, especially the most recent one, don’t quite exactly fit into the setting, appearance-wise.

Ëlinyr’s old notebook, which doesn’t quite look like it belongs in a fantasy LARP.

So, I bought Ëlinyr a traveler’s notebook, which looks like it’ll fit in with her character much better than the Arc Notebook I got from Staples a while ago, and even though I haven’t taken it to a game yet, I’m in love with it.

Okay, this looks much more setting-appropriate!

I picked it up on Amazon earlier this week, and I’m excited to put it to good use.  I’ve already done some writing in it, brainstorming some ideas for a coffee shop/bookstore that Ëlinyr recently purchased.

Yep, Ëlinyr’s officially an entrepreneur, in addition to being a scholar.

The traveler’s journal came with three notebooks (one each of lined, blank, and grid pages), a pen clip, and some additional accessories. I’d say this is probably one of the best purchases I’ve made for Ëlinyr since I started playing in Kishar, and I’m excited to use her new journal this weekend!

Traveler’s Journal on Amazon (Amazon affiliate link)

Tiny review: Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

How many of you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series? I remember reading through all the Choose Your Own Adventure books that my elementary school library had, multiple times, so I could get to all the endings.  Choose Your Own Adventure books were the best.

Well, did you know that there’s now a Choose Your Own Adventure game?

Well, there is, and I got to play chapter 1 of the game today at work!  (Yes, we got to play games for research purposes, so we can make our own choose-your-own-adventure-esque games – how awesome is that?) And oh, it was lots of fun.  I’m going to buy it for myself so I can introduce friends to it, because I know a lot of people who would really enjoy this game.

In the game, the player (or players – while this game can be played by one person, we played it with twelve today!) takes on the role of a detective who’s been having nightmares about a haunted mansion and its missing owner – so of course you have to go investigate it. Gameplay involves two decks of cards – the story deck, which is composed of cards that tell the story, and the clue deck, which includes tools that help the player out, clues that change the story paths available, and other information the players might find helpful.  The game mechanics also include a danger meter, which determines just how challenging any challenges that come up during the game may be, and the psychic scale, which we didn’t really get to interact with much today.  The game starts by a player reading the beginning story cards for the chapter, and the game progresses by making choices on what to do next, much like your typical Choose Your Own Adventure book.  However, unlike reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books, sometimes challenges appear that force you to go one way or another, depending on if you pass or fail.

The story itself is based on an actual Choose Your Own Adventure book, and that includes all the random dead ends and false starts and, of course, multiple ways your character can die.  We managed to die, what, four times today? We got buried alive twice, got strangled by plants once, and – my group’s favorite – killed by a pack of Dobermans surrounding a chimpanzee playing a violin. I’m not even kidding. (We’ve been making jokes about the violin-playing chimpanzee all day.)

As I said, we only got through the first chapter today, but playing the first chapter was so much fun! Part of that might have been due to playing with a larger group of people, with a chunk of us tending towards the nerdier side of things (there were a number of Doctor Who and Stranger Things references made while we were playing), but I think it’d be fun with almost any group of people. Heck, I can see Ross’s family having fun with this at the next holiday gathering. (Then again, we’re all huge nerds, haha.)

If you have fond memories of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, then you should give this a try!

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger on Amazon (affiliate link)