Tag Archives: rpg

My 1st Role-Playing Game, or Day 20 NaNoWriMo

My first RPG. With much thanks to HMTKSteve and Acaeum for the picture!

Twenty years ago, more or less, I played a thief character in a role-playing game called Dungeons & Dragons Basic.

It was my first such game, and I was still unsure about pretending to be someone else, with statistics, in a fantasy world. The only thing I knew for sure was, I love fantasy!

My friend Freda was the game master, and between the two of us, she put my thief character through a simple adventure I can no longer remember. We were armed with nothing but sheets of paper, pencils and erasers, dice…and our imaginations.

The two things that stuck from that first game was:

1) My char’s life points were so low a single hit from an enemy could kill me.

2) The memory of my thief stepping on a log to cross a river, only for this ‘log’ to actually be a crocodile chomping for my leg!

It’s an old chestnut now, this classic trap. But ahh, those were wild and exciting days, this idea that I could explore imaginary worlds and take on the role of a character who wasn’t this shy, introverted, damaged girl.

For reasons that remain unclear to me, Freda wandered away, and I was desperate to play it again. I played gamebooks, highly enjoyable solo adventures but it wasn’t the same. I needed people. I need…a party of fellow adventurers.

Trouble was, I was in Malaysia. And NO ONE knew what this Ar-Pee-Gee thing was. I resorted, then, to desperate measures: I recruited family members.

Actually, ‘recruited’ is too mild a word. I shanghaied them. Cajoled. Poked and bullied my mystified brother and cousins  into a room where somehow we sat down with a minimum of chaos and played. I wanted to be a player instead of the storyteller, but I had no choice. I had to be the gamemaster. I had the rules, and it was me who ran the show.

Little did I know it, but that was my first exposure to public speaking. I remember stammering, nervous shuffling through sheets of paper, my voice quavering while desperately describing scenarios that would hold the interest of arguably one of the toughest audiences of all.

We had some fun times, I recall, with my finest moment involving a monstrous cyclops and a mirror and my brother and cousins resorting to hilarious ways of bringing it down. I smile at the memory, but I still wanted someone else to run the show.

My Latest Adventure

Some would say I’m now on the greatest adventure of all – having given up a cushy job to fly halfway across the world to this exotic land of Scotland. I’m dirt poor, but exceedingly happy. For one thing, I’ve found a new gaming group, and good friends to play with.

The game is Anima, an anime-inspired RPG. I play yet another thief character named Sevren Gale, who has some minor, ahem, people issues and is somewhat attached to his crow companion, Kai.

Its been ages since I played with a group, and it shows. And I’m no longer quite the girl I was before. Each time I play, however, I get practice expressing myself in a storytelling format. And really, anything that can make you do that, and open your mind to worlds of wonder and possibility, doesn’t deserve the label of a mere game for “children or geeks”.

(I am, however, unashamedly geek).

For those interested, here’s a brief extract from a session report:

Sevren forgets the lord’s name as soon as he hears it. He’s too busy staring at the man’s damn house – a thousand slum families could probably fit into the place.

As usual, he lets Ya’el do the talking while Sevren sits, trying to decide if it was worth making off with the silverware. Their employer – ugh, what was his name? Sevren decides to call him Lord High and Mighty – was telling them about how his daughter had been kidnapped. Just when Sevren’s thinking this was going to be a rescue mission, Lord High and Mighty adds his daughter was returned unharmed after he’d paid her ransom.

“But,” LHM says, seething, “I want those bastards who kidnapped her to pay. Honour must be satisfied!”

That’s when Sevren looks up from scratching Kai’s feathers. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me the kidnappers gave her back, alive, and you want us to go after them? You already paid them. They fulfilled their part of the bargain.”

LHM booms something about justice and honour and all that shlock, and Sevren has to pull Ya’el to one side.

“Something is not right here,” Sevren hisses to her. “What is a nobleman of his rank doing recruiting for people in a seedy tavern? He has people to do that sort of thing for him. The guild of fighters, for instance. Something is fishy here.”

Ya’el argues with him (she seems to want to do this stupid job for some reason) and Sevren argues right back. In the end, the thief agrees to go along with LHM’s revenge mission. Mostly because enough money was offered for it to go right into Sevren’s head.

The next thing he knew, LHM was taking about some Orin Doom person who led the group of bandits that kidnapped the girl. Sevren definitely got the idea that two people were not going to take on that band in their fortress.

“We need to outsource,” Ya’el says to him.

LHM next jabbers about something interesting. An air ship known as a Zeppelin was going to make its maiden voyage from Holdfast to Daal, where from there their merry band could make their way to the bandits’ hideout.

“I will get you passage on that voyage,” the lord says.

Sevren sighs happily. Kai would like that.

NaNoWriMo Word Count

33828 / 50000 words. 68% done!

To recap: my mission this month of November – to do NaNoWriMo by day, my other Malaysian novel by night, and blog about something vaguely interesting every day of November. So far I am surviving!

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Filed under Books, Family, Fantasy, Gamebooks, Malaysia, Novel, Photography, Role-Playing Game, State of Mind, Triumph, Writing

My First Pancake! or Day 19 NaNoWriMo

Something exciting happened to me last night during my kitchen job.

I was frantically washing dishes during the busy Saturday restaurant shift when the Uncle suddenly asked me to helped him grill two pancakes. So he passed the turner to my stunned self and left me with two pancakes sizzling on the grill.

I was ecstatic. My first cooking duty! Lives were at stake here! From dishwashing, I have graduated to Pancake Grilling. Soon I might move up to Soups, and perhaps a week or two, Starters. Or even *gasp* a simple Chicken Rice or Curry Noodle. In time, why, I could almost envision myself as a master chef of Chinese cuisine! My father would beam with pride.

I was so excited, in fact, that I burned the pancakes. Ooops. Quickly I flipped them over and hoped no one noticed. It’s not too bad. Just some charred bits over here. Surely the customers won’t notice if one side is nicely fluffed and perfect? Argh! The fire is too hot! What? More pancakes? Coming! *Plop* *Plop*

The Uncle finally took the turner away from me and I shamefully banished myself back to the sink after he couldn’t help noticing how crispified his pancakes were getting. At least he was kind about it.

I suppose those master chef ambitions will have to wait.

Afterwards I asked the restaurant manager if I could buy eggs from him, because I’d been so busy making my NaNoWriMo word count (I was quite proud of hitting the minimum before work!) that I had no time to rush to the grocery store.

I needed the eggs for the brownies I planned to bring to a friend’s clothes and books swap event, and it just so happened I baked these same brownies for the restaurant people last week!

But when my shift was done, the manager passed me eight beautiful eggs, when I asked for six.

“Don’t worry, just take it,” he said when I asked him how much.

It’s humbling moments like these – just when I think I can never be a part of their world – when I wonder if I’ve deeply misunderstood these people, or if my heart is too small.

Huzzah!

Brownies are done, and I’m ready to run to my friend’s house. And after that, my second tabletop roleplaying session with another group of friends! The RPG game is called Anima, and I play an “insufferable” thief named Sevren Gale – I had to buy a Disadvantage to get some perks for my character, and so ‘Insufferable’ was it.

Didn’t have time to write more of my Malaysian novel after I came home aching from work last night, but I feel I deserve a bit of relaxation today.

For the first time in weeks though, I’m feeling so ready to write. I am in the ZONE. I can’t wait to get back and write!

31739 / 50000 words. 63% done!

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Filed under Fantasy, Malaysia, Novel, Photography, Role-Playing Game, State of Mind, Triumph, Work, Writing

November ‘Nanigans!

Recent Bedside Books

Here I am, having moved (again!) to my original flat after roughly ten months of living in temporary flats. How wonderful it is to have a stable home again.

For some reason, my books have bred like bunnies, however, and I was forced to make room for them on another makeshift shelf. If only there was some way to neuter my purse.

Anyway one unpacking, cleaning and vacuum later, and my bedroom is decent again. Which brings me to November.

Shenanigans

For over a week I wondered how I was going to commit to NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – when I haven’t fully finished Malaysian Dark yet. With one week left to October, I had to:

  1. Pack and move house
  2. Finish up loose ends at the bookshop job (like baking farewell beer brownies for the colleagues, twice, after certain misadventures with the Evil Oven of Temp Flat #2)
  3. Play this new tabletop RPG game, Anima, I’d been eager to try out with friends;
  4. And somehow finish that novel.

I can see it – the ending of Malaysian Dark – so clearly. I’m almost there. I just need to bridge the gap between the Chapter where the Hero is Horribly Traumatised, and the Chapter where Revelation Hits, which would hurtle me towards the ending I’ve already written. I tried to finish by the end of October, but it’s been a struggle.

And then it hit me. Why not do both? Write both for NaNoWriMo AND finish the novel in November too? I had some time, now that the bookshop job was finished. Sure, I had some commitments with the charity shop volunteering, and a possible mail sorter job later this month…

Why not?

1,700 words a day + 1,000?

Disclaimer: Models were used to re-enact the awesomeness of the Hat

So yes, I decided to do both. NaNoWri by day, novel by night.

I am taking precautions. I have appointed my new fuzzy headwear, the Blessed Hat of Productivity +5, so that whenever I don this holy cap of authorship, I shall be afire with the need to ejaculate as many words onto the screen as possible. I shall wear it chanting the mantras of NaNoWriMo:

    1. Quantity, not Quality.
    2. The Backspace Key is Thine Enemy.
    3. Announce your Commitment to the World, so that the World may Mocketh thee if Thou Dost Not Finish;
    4. Neglect all Social Commitments, but thou art allowed to findeth out what happened to thine Thief left Abandoned on that damn beach in Anima–

Okay, so I made that last up. Hey, I need to reward myself somehow!

I even have a writing buddy, one I have shamelessly egged into doing it, and we are both excited. We drew up our Magna Cartas, and Evil Magna Cartas, as suggested by Chris Baty in his wonderful book No Plot? No Problem!

My story will be, oddly enough, a Youth Adult novel, something I’ve never written before. I have enjoyed Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series, and Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider books in the past, however. Here’s my Magna Carta list of what I would love to see in a/my novel:

  • Bookshops (this whole premise was inspired by my bookshop job)
  • Travelling, dimension hopping
  • A young protagonist with a sensible head on his/her shoulders
  • Magic – unique powers
  • Characters who survive great hardships or abusive backgrounds, overcome a flaw/disadvantage
  • Plot twists
  • Awesome villains – does not think they’re evil
  • Drama with a sense of humour
  • Books with grandiose titles
  • Tyrannical employers
  • Unexpected/thwarted romances – young, gay, sweet, subtle and awkward?
  • Good to bittersweet endings
  • Sacrifice
  • Redemption
  • Elaborate, intricate worlds that I would love to explore – sense of wonder
  • Pretzels, candy, chocolate – Very Important
  • Angels, dragons, demons, unicorns – Very Important

And here is my Evil Magna Carta, things I dislike in a/my novel:

  • ZOMBIES!!
  • Yet another vampire character – unless something different about it
  • Silly and nonsensical settings
  • Pets
  • Ditzy women
  • Pretentious writing
  • Characters who do (dumb) things that make no sense
  • Scenes that demean gay/bisexual chars
  • Characters who do long soliloquies aloud, or in their heads
  • Overly scifi or ‘lifeless’ settings – I want worlds that breathe
  • Too many strange events or settings that alienate readers – strange for the sake of being strange
  • Too many viewpoints that make it hard for readers to care
  • Contemporary settings – unless it is different/unique enough
  • Trite or convenient deus ex machina
  • Characters who brood/angst overly much – Get over yourself!
  • Too many adverbs
  • Clumsy info dumps – “As you know, Jim, we are three hundred years old and secretly blue”

Mind you I wrote these while half asleep, but it will do. Right then. No more dithering. On to Day One of NaNoWriMo! Wish me luck and sanity!

Hmmm, I suppose I should think about a character and plot, huh?

By the Way

My lesbian erotica shapeshifter story was accepted for the anthology Beastly Babes (now called She-Shifters). I am so relieved. The ‘race through a rain forest morphing from tiger to kingfisher’ part refers to my story!

It’s another step, at least. Must keep writing, must keep sending out there.

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop, Contests, Fantasy, Malaysia, Novel, Photography, Role-Playing Game, State of Mind, Triumph, Writing

Why I’m glad Dragon Age 2 (partly) sucks

I’ve got a helluva lot of games I gotta play. I mean, seriously. Each time I tell myself I will play them as a reward once I finish my book, the list grows. And GROWS.

I was especially chomping at the bit this year to play Dragon Age 2, especially after the amazing (and time sapping) experience I had with Dragon Age: Origins.

DA:O had impressive writing, plot twists, and despite its flaws that epic touch which to me very few games achieve nowadays. It’s one of those games that actually had me tearing up at the end. Man, when I was faced with the critical choice of (SPOILER ALERT) having my character sacrifice himself at the bittersweet end, thereby abandoning my character’s lover to loneliness, I actually felt depressed for days afterwards. (END SPOILER)

This, from a person with the emotional expressiveness of a turnip. Damn you, Bioware, for making me care!

I became Dragon Age obsessed. I had to try out all the origins after completing my first playthrough. It made me replay the game as a wronged female noble (progressing) AND a dick of a male mage AND a kickass dwarf thief.

It made me fall in love with my companions, laugh at their pitch perfect banter…it made me believe they were alive, each and every one of them. I even paid money to buy the Dragon Age Ultimate Edition (which includes the game and a ridiculous amount of expansion packs both crappy and not), that to me is still so worth the price.

And heck, even now Leliana’s Song still gets me everytime ;P

So when I heard Dragon Age 2 was coming out, I was excited. I couldn’t wait. I jumped nearly every fucking hoop to get free game content. I religiously scoured the forums and websites to find out which of my male player companions would be the gay romanceable character ;P

I was jealous of the players who would get to play it first (since I’m too cheap to pay full price and would prefer to wait a few months when it is much more affordable ;P )

Then came the news that the game would be ‘revamped’ to have Mass Effect’s (annoying) conversation wheel.

And I got to play the demo. After the novelty wore off, I had to concede it was stylish and intriguing, sure. But I had misgivings playing a character who moved as if s/he was on mad monkey steroids during combat.

*Facepalm*

Now in an odd way, I have this warm little buzz in my shrivelled bitty heart that fans are griping about the dumbing down of Dragon Age 2.  Because it means the price will fall faster and I can get it for a low price 😀 Yes, I’m cheap (poor, and cheap).

I also find myself amused at the huge gap between critic and player opinion. I swear half the game reviewers must have been bribed or something, or had a gun stuck to their heads. How many games, according to metacritic, has a critic review rating of 82%, while users rate it 4.3 out of 10? And let’s not touch on outcries of Bioware employees supposedly writing positive reviews to bump up the ratings.

Notice that whatever people might say, I am still playing the game.

Come on, it’s Dragon Age. I’ll buy it, keep my expectations REAL low…and will likely have a blast.

In the meantime, here’s the other games – both old and new – I want to play / have yet to play:

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Filed under Computer Games, Deus Ex, Dragon Age, Fallout, Leisure, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Witcher