In which I ascend

…to the highest imaginable levels of nerd.

I have created an unboxing video.

Witness:

In which this is happening

Before I get into this: it is definitely darker in here. Turns out the reason is obvious; the corner of the room is gonna be darker than the middle. So I need a touch more light in here, one way or another.

I made an appointment yesterday; I’m having LASIK surgery on July 13th.

Am I fucking terrified? Why, yes, why would you ask? That said, intellectually I’m pretty certain it’s going to be fine; everyone who has told me they had the procedure has had either no regrets at all or, at the worst, some complaints about floaters and night driving. I expect that in ten to fifteen years I’ll probably be back in reading glasses and that’s okay so long as I can do things like see in the shower in the meantime; I dropped the soap today (shut up) and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to find it again because I was blind as a fucking bat. That sort of thing happens all the time but now that I’m scheduled to have something done about it I resent the hell out of it.

I did find one site dedicated to The Evils Of LASIK that was absolutely screaming This Was Written by Conspiracy Theorists; I don’t know if that’s a web theme or what but even the layout of the page was loudly hollering that I should disregard everything they had to say.

It’ll be fine. I expect an epic blog post out of it, but it’ll be fine.

In other news, I’ve been writing all morning, but not on a story– I’ve been putting together a D&D session for my wife and son this weekend. It’s a basic dungeon crawl that I’m basically tossing in as an add-on to a session from their Essentials kit; I’m thinking about posting it to Patreon when I’m done if that’s something you might be interested in. We’ll see how the session goes.


2:49 PM, Friday June 26: 2,444,483 confirmed cases and about to set the third “most cases in a single day” record in three days, and 124,732 Americans dead.

Adventures in dungeonmastering

True fact: I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons off and on since I was in fifth grade and never once in that time have I actually been a Dungeon Master. Now, granted, my first outing was about as foolproof as it could get– my audience was my wife (inclined to forgive me any errors I might have made) and my son (who wouldn’t know the difference) and I was using a prewritten, off-the-shelf adventure that I only made a small handful of modifications to, but I still think I acquitted myself pretty well. I added a character who wasn’t in the original adventure to sort of guide them through everything and created a couple of encounters before everything got started to help them get their feet wet, and we were off to the races after that. The problem with D&D is that it takes so damn long– the adventure was two pages long as written in the sourcebook and the session took three and a half damn hours. The boy wants to play again tomorrow— he’s second level now, which is just unbelievably powerful, of course– and it’s going to be hard to convince him that Daddy is not going to have this kind of free time every single day for the rest of the winter.

The kid’s a frickin’ fiend with his dice, though– three natural 20s over the course of the session, which wasn’t super combat-heavy so that’s more impressive than it sounds, more than balancing out my wife’s two natural 1s, one of which left her flat on her back at the feet of a mimic that was doing its best to try and eat her face. I wasn’t super inclined to kill either of them, although I made sure the boy in particular knew that if he tried to pull anything particularly reckless or dumb during the session he was going to pay the price, and other than offhandedly suggesting that they kill everyone in the room during an early negotiating session with some gnomes he more or less did a decent job of reining in his more destructive impulses.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday. I look forward to doing this again.

In which I gain a level in Nerd Dad

The boy, who remember is eight and was never provided with a sibling, is forever crafting games that he wants his mother and I to play with him. They are damn near always some sort of Pokémon pastiche of one kind or another; “We create characters, and assign them powers, and then we battle!” only battle basically means that all of the moves he’s made up for his characters destroy all of our characters automatically. He, uh, hasn’t quite mastered the concept of game balance just yet.

“We should really get you into Dungeons and Dragons,” I said to him the other day, not expecting anything to come of what I meant as an idle comment.

Yeah, that backfired. He’s been talking about it for a solid week, and I’ve been kind of tossing around ideas for quickie adventures I might be able to run for him and my wife, and then I happened to be at Target tonight, as one does, and came across the D&D Essentials Kit, which frankly has far too much crap in it for just $24.99. There’s a rulebook (not really necessary, as I have the 5E hardcovers,) the adventure itself, some dice, a bunch of character sheets on nice paper (nonetheless, easily photocopied for backups,) a DM screen, and a bunch of little cards for status reminders and quests and magical items and other shit like this. An early look through the adventure reveals that what it actually is is a bunch of mini-quests set in the same area, so it’s going to be possible to do a bunch of shorter sessions that will be better suited to the attention span of an eight-year-old than the marathon gaming sessions I remember from high school and college.

I’m actually looking forward to this. I kind of feel bad not buying it from The Griffon, but that’s the nature of impulse buys, and I’m sure it’s gonna trigger spending a crapton of money on other stuff, and also holy crap have the nerds won the universe. You can get D&D stuff at Target. That’s kind of mind-blowing.

RIP, Sarah Bird, the Griffon Lady

It’s been kind of a rough week.

Yesterday was … day nine, I think, of this school year? And there were three fights, two of which involved at least one of my students and both of which I was involved in breaking up. They are the first fights of the year that I’m aware of; in general, this building seems substantially less violent than others I have worked in, but breaking up two hallway fights in the space of two class periods is not a situation I care to repeat anytime soon, and you can likely imagine the condition the kids were in by the end of the day. It was bloody miserable.

Today, the power went out for the back half of the day, throwing basically every aspect of the building into … well, not chaos, as honestly I feel like everyone involved dealt with the problem as well as could be hoped for, but we lost just about everything– wifi, phones, half of the toilets, a number of the sinks, all of the drinking fountains, and oh hey it turns out that every calculator in the world being solar powered isn’t a great thing if you deliberately picked the room with one window and all the light you have is from that one window and the one light wired to the emergency generator. So, no, not chaos, but a whole lot of scrambling was going on.

And then, during my team plan at the end of the day, while attempting to find an article about ILEARN testing that two of us thought was on the Tribune website somewhere, I discovered Sarah Bird passed away this weekend, and I found myself unexpectedly somewhat overcome with emotion and having to take a moment.

It’s funny, how the passing of relative strangers can hit us hard sometimes. I have been shopping at the Griffon for something in the neighborhood of thirty years– I don’t remember the two original stores, as I started playing D&D in fifth grade, which would have been somewhere around 1988. Virtually every RPG rulebook I own was purchased there, and a bunch of our board games, as after a while I developed a rule that anything that could be bought at the Griffon would be bought at the Griffon, and I probably grace their doors somewhere in the neighborhood of once or twice a year. I am not a regular customer, per se, but I am certainly a long-time customer, and the fact that the same two people had run the store for the entire time is sort of hard to miss.

I’ve had several pleasant conversations with both Ken and Sarah over the years– the Griffon is the kind of store where you don’t really just buy something and wander out– but I’m sure neither of them would recognize me, and to be completely honest I’m not sure I could have remembered their first names yesterday had you asked me, as they’ve been “the Griffon guy” and “the Griffon lady” since I was a little kid. I certainly didn’t know her last name, but I recognized their picture and the interior of the store before my brain had processed the headline on the website. I’ve never actually played anything there– my gaming group always had places to go– but it’s weird to have to explain to people how difficult it could be to be a geek thirty years ago when we damn near run the world nowadays. There was no Amazon, remember. If you were a young geek and you wanted dice or miniatures or wargaming models or whatever, it was just where you went, because nobody else bothered to carry that stuff. The Griffon was always a safe space where people like me were welcome, and the place still just sort of feels like home even though I don’t necessarily shop there terribly often.

Sarah is one of those people who had an effect on my life without me ever really thinking about it before now– if she and her husband had never opened that store, and I’d never gotten into roleplaying in fifth grade, my life could have been substantially different from what it is now. They don’t even know me, and it’s still true. All through high school and into college a lot of my friendships were people in my gaming group– not all of them, certainly, but my closest friends were all people I played D&D with. And the Griffon was a common thing for all of us, our little secret downtown that most of the other kids our age didn’t know about. It was (it is; as near as I can tell there are no plans to close the store) a genuinely special place, and that’s all due to Sarah and Ken.

She will be missed.