I’m back with another edition of What I’m Watching! This month, I’ve got three shows in my TV-watching rotation, although what with being sick this week, I’ve been binge-watching the heck out of one of these shows.
First off, I’m still working my way through Battlestar Galactica – somewhat slowly, because Ross and I have had a busy couple of weeks at work and by the time we get home, we don’t have much energy to process an exciting and action-filled episode of BSG. We’re just about to season 3, though, and I’m still loving the show!
Another show I’ve been watching this month is RWBY! You might remember that I started watching this last year, and I ended up having to take a break from it because I had a bit of RWBY overload. Now I’m watching it again, and I’m up to season 5 – where things are starting to get even more serious. And seriously badass. I won’t mention more because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone (and also because my brain is fuzzy on the details, curse this nasty cold). I’ll just say you should watch it for yourself.
Now, to the show I’ve been binge-watching while I’ve been miserably sick this week: Lucifer. I stumbled upon it through Netflix’s suggestions for things I might be interested in, and a week or so ago, I figured “eh, what the heck, I’ll watch this while I knit.” And I fell in love with it.
Lucifer is a comedy/crime drama with a dose of fantasy thrown in the mix for good measure. It follows the story of Lucifer Morningstar, the devil himself, and his adventures after leaving Hell to set up a nightclub in Los Angeles – and help solve crime as a consultant for the LAPD. He’s partnered up with Chloe Decker, a detective who seems to be immune to Lucifer’s charms. He’s got irresistible sex appeal, and can make you tell him your deepest, darkest desires just by looking into his eyes – yet none of that works on Chloe, and Lucifer’s very curious about why that is.
With a great cast and a great story, Lucifer has been making my week home sick with this miserable cold much better than I thought it would be. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out – the first three seasons are on Netflix, and season 4 should be coming out soon!
Well, the 2019 convention season is near, and with that, the eternal question: what costumes am I going to wear this year?
That’s actually a really good question – and one I’m not entirely sure of the answer to. There’s a lot of factors that go into figuring out costumes for conventions: if Ross and I are driving to a convention daily from home or staying in a hotel nearby, what the weather might end up being like, how detailed a possible costume might be, and how faithful I want to be with my representation of a specific character.
Given all the effort I put into Sailor Moon for Gen Con last year, do I want to try and do something elaborate again this year, or do I want to do something more casual? The hotel Ross and I currently have for Gen Con isn’t nearly as close as the one we were at last year (although we might get lucky and snag a closer hotel!) – will I want to deal with being stuck in a costume that might not be all that comfortable for hours on end? Just thinking about wearing the boots for my Sailor Moon costume for more than a half hour is making me cringe, how could I deal with that for an entire day? Plus, I have to plan out costumes for any LARPs I might be involved in, too. Do I want to try to do multiple costumes in a day? And can I quickly swap costumes if I decide to do that?
Those are all things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to my cosplay for this year’s conventions. So far, I’m definitely planning on going to Gen Con and the Indiana Toy and Comic Convention for sure, and I might also go to Indy PopCon. Whatever I choose, it’ll need to work out for at least one convention, if not three. With all that in mind, I’ve narrowed things down to three possible cosplays for this year’s convention season.
A casual version of Usagi from Sailor Moon: This could be a fun cosplay to do – you don’t often see people dressed up as Usagi. I’ve got some clothes in my closet that I think would work pretty well for a casual version of Usagi, and I could easily find clothes that match some of her outfits from the anime if I wanted to do something more show-accurate. I want my beautiful Sailor Moon wig to get some more use, and I think casual Usagi would work out pretty well – especially if I don’t end up with a nearby hotel for Gen Con, since I’d be wearing comfortable clothes and can handle wearing that wig for hours at a time, even with how heavy it is.
Lapis Lazuli from Steven Universe: I originally wanted to try cosplaying as Lapis last year, but Sailor Moon ended up eating up all my focus for costuming, and therefore Lapis ended up being set aside. However, this is another one I could also do pretty easily, if I don’t go all-out with body paint and such. I found a skater dress on Etsy that would work pretty well if I wanted to do a more casual Lapis, and there’s a wig on Arda that I could get in blue that with some styling would make a pretty good Lapis wig. A short wig and a comfy dress would make for a really comfy cosplay, that’s for sure. Plus, if I do end up feeling crafty and want to make the outfit myself (or with some help from my mom-in-law, who’s a great seamstress), I don’t think it’ll be impossible to make a Lapis costume from scratch.
Bring Pinkie Pie out of retirement: For those of you who haven’t followed the blog since I started writing, my first big cosplay was Pinkie Pie. I originally wore the first version of Pinkie Pie to Gen Con 2012, and made some much-needed updates to the costume in 2013. In 2014 I perfected my Pinkie Pie outfit, wore it to all of the 2014 and most of the 2015 conventions I went to… and then quietly retired it. To be completely honest, I’m not even sure where all the pieces are – the tutu is under the bed in my craft room somewhere, the wig (which seriously needs replacing) is on a wig head in my living room, holding up my hats, and I think the leggings and shirt might be in my costume closet somewhere. If I find all the parts, though, and get a new wig, I could easily bring back Pinkie for another convention season. It’s a rather comfortable costume, and people recognize it, so it could be fun to wear it again. (Plus, maybe I could convince my friend Rachel from The Five(ish) Fangirls Podcast to take her Pinkie costume out of retirement so we could be ridiculous together!)
Of course, these probably won’t be the only costumes I wear – especially at Gen Con, where I also have to plan for costuming for the LARP I’ll be playing in. And who knows, I might end up coming up with other ideas before convention season is in full swing! For now, I think I’ve got a good collection of cosplay ideas for this year, and a pretty good chance of wearing them all at least once at conventions this year – and I’m definitely looking forward to putting these cosplays together! (Or, in the case of Pinkie Pie, hunting down the various parts of her costume from assorted spots around the house.)
I’m no stranger to tabletop RPGs – I’ve played in a number of different systems, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and White Wolf’s World of Darkness. However, in all my years of gaming, I’ve never played anything quite like Blue Rose. For over a year, I’ve been part of a group that plays Blue Rose somewhat regularly, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.
What is Blue Rose?
Blue Rose is a tabletop RPG published by Green Ronin, and is labeled as a romantic fantasy game. It’s set in the world of Aldea, and players can play as a number of different humanoid races or as a rhydan (which encompasses many different types of psychic animals). Player characters have three classes to choose from: adept, which is your typical magic-using class; expert, which includes scholars, spies, tricksters, and negotiators; and warrior, which is your classic fighter class. There are plenty of other aspects that go into developing a character, including their background, goals, destiny/fate, and, of course, their relationships with others – including friends, family, and romantic relationships.
The main focus of the game is on developing relationships, but depending on the storyteller, there may be a fair bit of exploration and adventuring involved as well. The world of Aldea is definitely large enough to do plenty of exploring in, and the core book includes details about many countries outside of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.
It’s no secret to you readers – I enjoy a good role-playing game, whether it’s tabletop or live action. It’s also no secret that I’m not exactly the most organized person at times – I try really hard, though. If I’m not careful, I lose track of my game stuff easily – just ask me how many character sheets I made for my Blue Rose character before I finally figured out an organizational system. (Pretty sure there’s four of them floating out there, including two versions of the digital character sheet I keep as a backup.) I can also get distracted pretty easily during games, and if I’m not careful, I’ll miss something important. After years of gaming, I’ve figured out a few ways to help keep myself organized when it comes to the various role-playing games I’m in.
I’ve been meaning to write a bit about how I’m finally learning how to play Magic: The Gathering – and, well, what better time than now?
My first attempt at learning to play was back in 2005, when I was in college – a couple of the guys in SUNY Potsdam’s Gaming Club built me a simple deck, I watched them play one game, and then I think I got pulled into a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign and forgot about learning Magic entirely. I had that deck for years – I think I ended up donating it to Goodwill a few years ago, before Ross and I moved into our house. (I’m kicking myself for that now – I wonder how much some of those cards might be worth now!) I was still vaguely interested in learning, eventually, but I didn’t know anyone that played – until I met J, anyway.
Last year, I finally decided maybe I should try learning to play again – and J was more than happy to teach me.
I’ve been learning for a while now – I think J started teaching me the game last summer, and I only recently got to the point where I decided “okay, I’m going to stick with this, maybe I should get a deck of my own instead of borrowing one of J’s many decks every time I play.” So, with J’s help, I picked out one of the 2018 premade Commander (or Elder Dragon Highlander, depending on your preferences) decks and did a little tweaking to make the deck a little more powerful. I ended up choosing the Exquisite Invention deck, after looking through J’s copy of it – I’ve been calling it the Thopterpocalypse Deck, because when my deck is behaving, I can generate a lot of thopters and servos to rain down doom on my opponents. (I say when my deck is behaving because the last two games I’ve played, all my land has ended up at the bottom of the deck, no matter how many times the darn thing gets shuffled.) Now that I’m getting a feel for the game, I’m comfortable enough to be silly – like giving personalities to creatures I play, for example. It’s ridiculous, I know, but sometimes it’s fun to say “oh, the Master Thopterist is in a bit of a mood, so he’s going to attack with his two thopter buddies.” It’s fun to be a little sassy while I’m playing, haha.
One thing is for sure – I definitely don’t know nearly enough to make decks on my own. Deck building is insanely complicated. You have to think about how all the cards interact with each other, and how certain cards can trigger combinations that may or may not wipe out another player’s creatures. It’s mind-boggling. I don’t know J does it – then again, he’s been playing Magic for far longer than I have.
I will say, sometimes it’s hard for me not to just buy all the cards I can. I like collecting things, and if there’s something I’m enthusiastic about, I end up wanting to throw money at it and buy all the things. I’m really glad J is guiding me in what to buy and what not to buy, because otherwise I’d probably end up with a hot mess of somewhat useless stuff because I think the card art is pretty. Also, good lord this hobby involves buying so much stuff – not only did I end up buying a deck of cards to play with, I had to get a deck box, and I bought Saheeli-themed card sleeves (since she’s the commander for my deck), and of course I had to get that Doge playmat, and yesterday I just picked up some token counters because Saheeli likes to make ALL THE THOPTERS – and speaking of thopters, I got lucky with that blind bag draw!
I sort-of knew what I was getting into when I got into the hobby – at least with the fact that cards can get expensive and there are LOTS of them, heh – but I didn’t quite absorb just all the little things you need to play Magic. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s not stopping me from wanting to play.
I’m really enjoying learning how to play. Each game is like a constantly shifting puzzle that you need to solve. Sometimes you get lucky and can solve the puzzle early and knock out your opponent, and other times you just end up stuck waiting for a needed card or two that never come up. It’s fun, and exciting, and sometimes overwhelming – and I love it. I’m really glad I got into this hobby.
Hi folks, and Happy New Year! You might remember a post I made a few weeks back, about some resolutions I made for the blog for the year — one of them was writing more reviews, especially for TV shows. I watch (or at the very least, listen to) a lotof TV while I’m crafting, and I mean a lot. While I don’t know that I’d be able to write great, in-depth reviews on the shows I’m watching, I could at least share some of the shows in my Netflix and Hulu queues and share my thoughts on the shows without too many spoilers. (And possibly share some shows I tried out but didn’t quite get into.)
So, here’s what I’m watching this month: Battlestar Galactica and The 4400.
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Battlestar Galactica is a show I’ve been meaning to watch, well, since it came out almost 15 years ago. I had friends in college who were obsessed with it, and I’ve had friends in the years since who were big fans. When I started dating Ross, he was working through re-watching the series and was somewhere in season 2 before Neftlix lost the licensing to it. Now it’s on Hulu, and we’ve started watching it together as our evening “let’s watch this together” show. I’m sure most of you readers have at least heard of it before, but if not, here’s a short summary from Hulu (who explains it better than I could):
Battlestar Galactica continues from the 2003 mini-series to chronicle the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Man after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander (later Admiral) William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, a powerful but out-dated warship at its head. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth.
We’ve only watched the first six episodes (and the miniseries) so far, but I’m already ridiculously attached to many of the characters. When Starbuck ended up in mortal peril in episodes 4 and 5, and then managed to get herself out of it and back to Galactica, I cheered with the rest of the crew and got a little misty-eyed. I feel for President Roslin and Commander Adama as they make some tough decisions in order to keep what’s left of humanity alive and safe. I’m always looking forward to the next episode — and I’m glad Ross and I are watching an episode or two a night so I don’t binge-watch the entire thing over a weekend. I like being able to enjoy each episode, process it, and then go watch the next episode tomorrow.
The 4400 is a show I stumbled across on Netflix while trying to find something to watch while crafting. I’d just blasted through Season 3 of Travelers (a show I really enjoy) and was looking for more sci-fi to watch, and Netflix suggested this. The premise seemed alright (albeit a little cheesy): 4400 people, each of whom disappeared in a beam of light anywhere between 1938 and 2001, are deposited on the shores of a lake in Washington state by a bright ball of light. None of these people have aged a day since their disappearance, and some of them have come back with special powers (such as the ability to heal or see the future).
The show follows Tom Baldwin, an agent of the National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC) as he and his partner, Diana, investigate events involving the 4400. It also follows a handful of the 4400 themselves, including the following:
Maia, an 8-year-old girl who disappeared in 1946 and returned with the power to see the future
Shawn, Tom’s nephew who disappeared in 2001 at the age of 18 and returned with the power to heal/kill
Richard, a 29-year-old Air Force pilot who disappeared in 1955
Lily, who disappeared in 1993 at the age of 27 and returned mysteriously pregnant
While the show does have some cheesy moments, it’s pretty enjoyable. It also doesn’t hurt that the show’s creator, René Echevarria, was a writer on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and one of the producers (Ira Steven Behr) also worked on DS9. (And speaking of DS9: Jeffrey Combs, who plays Weyoun and Liquidator Brunt in DS9, also stars in The 4400!) I’m in the middle of season 3 right now (I think I started the show sometime last week), mostly due to all the time off I’ve had recently, and I’m curious to see where the show ends up going. If you’re looking for something in the sci-fi realm to watch and don’t mind if the show gets a little silly at points, you should try The 4400.
Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit with keeping up on my daily habits and chores (and, obviously, posting regularly here in the blog) – more often than not, I forget to do part of my routine, or space out on some housework I’ve been meaning to do. So, I thought it was about time to revisit an old friend: HabitRPG. Or, as the site is now called, Habitica.
Boy, how things have changed since I was last on Habitica!
There are lots of new costumes, lots of new quests, and so many new quest-related pets – I’ll probably never be able to hatch them all!
I’ve also made a lot of progress over the years in Habitica…
…I’m actually pretty close to hitting level 90, and I’m excited about that. Habitica’s done a good job of motivating me to get things done – granted, I’ve only been back at it for a week now, but I find myself adding to-do items to my list as things pop up (the mobile app really helps with that) and actually working to get things done, so I can make some more progress with quests I’m working on as well as leveling up my character. I really hope I can stick with this, because I’ve actually managed to get a lot done with this extra motivation. Sometimes that’s all my brain needs – a little extra motivation.
If you need a little boost with motivation and keeping on top of your tasks and habits, but want to have fun doing it, you should check out Habitica. It’s available on the web, as well as for iOS and Android. It’s free to play (but donating or subscribing will get you some extra goodies), and there’s lots to keep you coming back to the site. Four years on, I still recommend it as a great way to help you get things done.
Yes, there is a board game that’s essentially about making a patchwork quilt. My friends J and Kasi bought this game recently, and when J pointed out that they had a game about making quilts, I had to play it.
In Patchwork, two players compete to make the most complete (and highest-scoring) quilt they can on a 9×9 game board. Gameplay is pretty simple — players move tokens along a board (called the “time track”) to determine whose turn it is, and as players move along the board they can collect extra buttons or small patches to help fill in empty spots on their board. Each space on the board represents a unit of time, and each of the patches has a time listed on them, indicating how many spaces you’ll be moving along the board. (After all, quilting does take time!)
Around the time track is the collection of quilt patches you can choose from. During each turn, players have the option to purchase a quilt patch or earn extra buttons by moving to one spot ahead of your opponent. You’re limited in which quilt patches you can buy, however: a marker works its way clockwise around the circle of patches, and you can only choose from the three patches in front of the marker. This is where sometimes moving ahead of your opponent can come in handy, if there aren’t any patches you can afford or any patches that fit on your board — you can simply choose to earn extra buttons, one per spot you end up moving along the board.
The buttons that players collect are really important. Not only are they the game’s currency, but they also help determine who wins at the end of the game: whoever has the most buttons at the end of the game wins.
As you can see, some patches have buttons on them – and those help you out as you move around the time track. If you move past a button on the time track, you earn a button for every button that’s on your quilt. The bigger your quilt gets, the more buttons you can earn at a time. (At one point, I think I was earning 15 buttons every time I hopped over a button on the time track — my quilt was very decorated!)
When both players get to the end of the time track, that’s when you figure out who the winner is. First, you count up how many buttons you’ve earned, and then subtract the amount of blank spaces on the board from the amount of buttons you’ve earned. Whoever has the highest point count after that is the winner! I didn’t win yesterday’s game, but I certainly had fun playing and will definitely be picking this game up for my collection.
I think I got a little burned out on everything after Gen Con – hence the lack of a post last week. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to get the last of my Gen Con reports put together, and there’s a start to it in the pile of half-finished blog posts I’m accumulating, but I just couldn’t nudge myself towards getting it done. I’ll try to finish it soon, though, as there are some pretty cool vendors and artists I want to share with you all that I discovered at Gen Con.
So that this week’s blog post isn’t all just me being down on myself for not posting last week, I’m going to talk about a Kickstarter whose rewards I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a little while now. Those rewards showed up on my doorstep the other day, and I can’t help but share them with you all, because they’re so beautiful!
Yep, that’s right – the Name of the Wind Art Deck Kickstarter started shipping last month, and I finally got my goodies. They were definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure.
Now, this isn’t the first deck of cards that’s had artwork from Name of the Wind on them – a deck was released a few years ago (also the product of a Kickstarter, if I remember right), with artwork by Shane Tyree depicting the characters we all know and love. I’ve got the Shane Tyree deck as well as the new ones with art by Echo Chernik, and it’s really interesting to see how each artist envisioned the characters.
The coin that I got as part of the rewards is beautiful – and pretty hefty, too! I’d be afraid to flip it and accidentally dent a table with it when it lands, haha.
The prints are beautiful, too – I can’t wait to get them framed. I’ve been especially excited about them, since I love Echo’s work, and it was really exciting to get to meet her at Gen Con. All in all, I’m really happy with the quality of everything – the cards feel great in your hand, and the artwork is absolutely wonderful.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with four decks of Name of the Wind playing cards. 😛
As I mentioned briefly in some of my daily Gen Con posts, I took part in two different LARPs this year at Gen Con, in very different roles. I’ve never actually LARPed at Gen Con before, so being involved in two different games might have been a little ambitious, but in retrospect, I had a heck of a lot of fun. Both games I was involved in were put on by Phoenix Fire LARP, a group that my dear friends J and Kasi run with some of their friends. Since convention halls don’t really lend themselves well to boffer LARPs (or, LARPs that make use of foam weapons for attacking others), J developed the FIRE System, which uses a deck of playing cards to determine damage dealt to characters, help add an element of chance to certain actions, and to help with determining initiative for the players. It’s a really neat system that’s pretty quick to learn.
While both games made use of the FIRE System, they were about as different as things can get – and I had completely different experiences in both games, what with running one and participating in another. Read on to learn more about Return to Paragon City and Showdown in Sacramento!
Return to Paragon City
Return to Paragon City was the game I helped run – it’s based on the beloved MMO City of Heroes, which I didn’t get to play for long before they shut the game down back in 2012. The game was run as a hybrid tabletop/live action game, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. However, to be honest, when I first volunteered to help run Paragon City, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect I’d be running part of the game by myself, but that’s what ended up happening. And given that it was my first experience running any sort of game, I was anxious as heck about it. I’ve played in tabletop games for years, and I’ve got a year and a half of LARPing experience under my belt, but running a game? Telling a story and keeping track of where everyone is in location to the bad guys and keeping track of the bad guys’ health ended up being a really overwhelming prospect for me. I was so worried I’d mess something up, and then freak out about messing things up, and it’d all spiral out of control. Each playtest we did helped me feel a littlebetter about things, but not much. I ended up showing up to the game in the middle of a massive anxiety attack. Oh, brain. Why do you do this to me?
Anyhow, I told J that my brain was conspiring against me and that I had no idea how I’d be able to run my section of game, so we tag-teamed my section of the event – I’d do the storytelling, while J handled the combat parts. That combination worked out well – during combat I focused on keeping track of where people were on the map and how many hit points the bad guys had, while J handled the actual logistics. And our group had loads of fun! We had some great superheroes in our group, including Professor Photon, Cameraman (who had a camera prop and involved it in all of his attacks), and The Spicy Taco (whose attacks were, of course, taco-themed).
All in all, I learned a lot – and learned that maybe I need training wheels, so to speak, for a little bit longer when it comes to running a LARP.
Showdown in Sacramento
Showdown in Sacramento was an entirely different experience. In fact, the only thing Showdown and Paragon City had in common was the FIRE System – everything else was incredibly different. Instead of being set in a fictitious city full of superheroes, Showdown is set in Sacramento during the gold rush era, and is full of supernatural beings- mages, werewolves, vampires, and fey (in addition to regular plain old humans). In last year’s game, an event happened that caused all the supernatural beings to glow with a specific colored aura around them, based on the type of supernatural being they were. This made things a little… interesting for this year’s game, especially when it came to the political elements.
I like how J and Kasi handled character creation, although I know it resulted in an immense amount of work on their end. Instead of creating our own characters, we were each assigned a character and given a fair bit of backstory for them as a starting point for this year’s game. I ended up playing Lucina Finch, a relative newcomer to Sacramento who’d recently purchased a mine and was planning on using her abilities as a mage to construct machines that would work in the mines, to lessen the potential harm to humans. Having the character information to start from made things much easier for me, especially since I was new to the game – once I got into character and started interacting with others, I had a great time.
Lucina partnered up with two other mages (Isadora and Adelia) to work on making more machines to work in the mines, which was one of Lucina’s main goals for the game. There was also a lot of mining (Lucina had to pay Adelia for the rights to her gold-detecting machine somehow!), a marriage market where Lucina got matched up with a friendly werewolf named Thomas, a number of fights with thugs attempting to raid the mines (Thomas protected Lucina from one such attack by transforming into a werewolf, which Lucina thought was pretty awesome), and even voting on political issues that would affect the supernaturals living in Sacramento both immediately and in the years to come. And with the help of a couple of others, the lady mages found out the source of the auras that were affecting the supernatural folk of Sacramento!
I had a heck of a lot of fun in Showdown, and I’m really glad I decided to jump in and play this year. Granted, doing two 6-hour LARPs over the course of two days was exhausting, but I really enjoyed it.