27 December 2008

Scum and Villainy

Ok, let's talk about Challenge Levels.

There has been a debate on the d20radio.com Order 66 board about effective challenge level for encounters. It seems very fair that a nonheroic CL1 stormtrooper is -not- a challenge for four heroic level1 characters.

So, keeping that in mind, and because of an unfortunate snowstorm, we were short one player in our game tonite. That's fine, I picked up Scum & Villainy last night and it has a pregen adventure in the back for scoundrels. Well, Sage has been working her heart out on three different characters for our Star Wars campaign for the last several days, and when I brought up a side adventure, she almost cried. No trubbs, I had a Level3 Scoundrel on hand.

I figured Level 3 because there are only 2 of them, so that should make up the difference that 2 more players would have made. OK. So first encounter is against 2 CL3 force sensitive thugs.

o.O That's right. Force Sensitive thugs. Granted, per the rules, this only makes it a CL2 (total enemy CL/3 or 3+3/3=2), and they have an average party level of 3, but because they have only 2 people, we add 2 to the challenge. CL4. A difficult but doable challenge. Well, that depends on the evilness of your GM. Because these thugs wield force lightning and force grip. If I had been evil enough, I could have TPK'd them in a couple rounds. But i'm not evil, so they survived. Challenging, but survival.

Second encounter a little while later (after some healing), three more of these thugs!!?! well, i only pop'd 2 on them, because that would have been just too much. But with the way the setup of the encounter was, they were being choked and shot at, and it wasn't going well, so we stopped.

Now, granted there were only 2 party members, but come on.. this adventure is for 4 level 1 characters, and the first two adventures have them up against 2-3 CL3 heroic enemies. Did anyone playtest this adventure? Should we be using our Second Wind in the first 20 minutes of the game? I don't think so. If I play this adventure again - which i most likely will because the story is pretty good - the party will not be level 1. Mostlikely four level 3 or 4's.

And how is the rest of Scum & Villainy? Oh, pos def worth it. Lots of great stuff in there.


25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas was sparse this year. No Christmas bonus, no equity refund. Sage and I bought clothes for each other and I want to do something nice for her. Just can't say here, cuz then she'll read it and know what I'm trying to come up with planning. It's going to make her cry be great.

We went to my mother's for breakfast. biscuits and gravy, eggs, hash browns, sausage, all nummy.

Now I have to sit at my desk and play games work the rest of the day.

After I get the candy machines out it will be better.


13 December 2008

Christmas Survey

Ok, fine. Holiday Seasons Greetings and all that.

1. Wrapping paper of gift bags? For the most part we reuse gift bags, but there is something very satisfying in tearing open paper. Newspaper works just as well.

2. Real tree or artificial? I tried a real tree once. it made a mess. I like what my parents did for awhile (until they ran out of room in the yard), and buy a living tree in a pot, then plant it in the spring.

3. When do you put up the tree? Any time after 29 November. Sage prefers to have it up in October or something, but I refuse to celebrate anything christmassy until after both thanksgiving and my birthday. One holiday at a time.

4. When do you take the tree down? Before New Years. One holiday at a time.

5. Do you like eggnog? Don't know. Maybe?

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My mother's best friend's family would make us Christmas ornaments every year and we got to open them on Christmas Eve. That's prolly my favorite.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I have no idea. Don't think so. Ask Sage.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My step-dad. I keep suggesting bullets, but Sage doesn't think that's very personal.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Sage. She loves shoes, scarfs & gloves, pretty things, material, and books.

10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? We made christmas cards (Well, Sage made them) and mailed them to close family and friends. I might post on facebook for everyone else.

11. Worst Christmas gift ever received? Prolly socks or something silly.

12. Favorite Christmas movies? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Where the cat explodes under the chair. Classic.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When the bonus check comes. A couple years ago that was January.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Don't know. Would be okay if i did.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? my mother's home made rolls, although i think she's stopped making them. Thanksgiving we had croisants from Paul's.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Our tree is decorated in all white. We have a single string of white garland, a white bell garland, and white lights. It is simple and looks nice. Plus, the cat's dont knock down the garland and there are less broken ornaments that i still sometimes find from our first christmas with the cats.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Carol of the Bells.

18. Travel on Christmas or stay home? Travel. We go to my mom's. Then we go home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Oh, look at that. Sidhe did it for me.

20. Angel on top of the tree or star? Angel. But she's getting a little old and needing replacement. Maybe i'll buy a barbie and do some creativity stuff.. maybe not.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? not enough snow.

22. Favorite ornament theme or color? white.

23. Favorite Christmas dinner? whatever mom makes.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Amazon Kindle

25. A favorite Christmas tradition? Driving to see lights.


30 November 2008

Getting Older

I had a birthday yesterday. How old, you might ask? Dunno. stopped counting after 28. Ask my wife. I think she remembers.

Anyway, getting older got me thinking about .. well, being younger. It got me thinking about my expectations for my birthdays in my youth and what i expect out of them now. I loved big parties with lots of people and food and music and games and lots of mingling and snacking. Presents were never important. I'd much rather have my friends and family all together. Well, this year my friends list is dwindling, and there was no money for any kind of food filled bash, so we had a gaming party instead. my folks came over in the early afternoon for cake and chat, then they left and my two remaining (almost one, when Lone ships off for the Marines in January) friends that live here and I spent 10 hours killing random things in Dawn of War. Overall it was a great birthday, even without all the people and food. Pizza, of course, was there, and Sinister's wife brought a really great jello pie, and we still had cake.

But as I get older, do I really expect large house-filling-stomach-stuffing-music-blasting parties?

Yes. yes i do.

Maybe next year.


16 November 2008

Star Wars Saga Edition

Ok, so the procrastination post actually came from looking at one of the blogs my wife reads titled procrastination, and i had an epiphany and had to post. but now i'm on to real hobby-ing stuff.

Recently i've been itching to game. Not video games or board games or card games, but paper-and-dice-character-sheet-pencils-and-game-master-friends-around-the-table game. So i've convinced my friends to create level 3 characters to play in our Star Wars game, and i've written the beginning of an adventure that should take us a few days to get into, and then i have a couple campaigns and some plot hooks to take us further. should be pretty interesting.

But the hobby part. The blitz part. the part i get way too into. I went to the WOTC site and i downloaded it. The whole thing. Well,.. pretty much. I have now six additional planets, three space stations, eight new ships, four bad guys to collect bounty on, three adventures, twelve characters, and a four part essay on what it means to be Sith. I've downloaded the core rules book, four sourcebooks, and seven of ten parts of a national campaign. I think i've got a good start for them. Now I just have to make sure i do my part and keep their interest long enough to make use of it.

Collecting e-books is a bit of a hobby of mine as well. At home i have the entire D&D 3.5 system (up to a point, around last... April?), most if not all the Conan books, the entire D20 Modern and Future set, the new D&D 4.0 edition, Iron Kingdoms, World of Warcraft (Yes, as an RPG, not a video game), Traveller20, and a few random ones I've never heard of that I ran across and figured I'd better grab them "just in case". I have them neatly organized in My E-Books folder under RPG/D20/*.* and I've read each of them once or twice. Generally I just bookmark the pdf's for future reference. But I've played almost none of them. The Star Wars ones will be some of the lucky few. Maybe someday I'll find a party that loves to play and will want to make use of them, but for now, my few friends that will show up are proving to be true friends to put up with me and my blitzy ways.




09 November 2008

The house

(this is about a year old, but needed to be posted)

in my quest to be a good husband, i'm trying my hand at mr. fix-it. i've had the lunacy to take on several projects at once, to my chagrin. i began with the basement.

this house, for some unknown reason, has 18" wallspace in the basement. that is to say that the sheetrock on the inside wall is approximately 18" from the concrete of the basement. as a result, we have deep window boxes and a waste of space. at first i thought it to be duct work, perhaps aluminum, running behind the wall. there was a spot in the extra room of the basement - known as the apartment - where the wall suddenly jogs back to the concrete and is no longer taking up that 2' of space. I expected this to be the termination of the aluminum duct work.
when we took the panel off the end of that wall section, i was astounded to find dead empty space. the duct was a one foot in diameter flexible tube lying on the floor and plugged into the return in the wall. no aluminum. there was also a pipe and valve, which i discovered to be my water main.

the first project we undertook was to take back that 18" of space. or at least some of it. we tore down the wall and my roommate Lone, a framer for the last two years, framed me a new wall. total space acquired: 15 square feet. not bad. we moved the wall back about 14" on a 10' length of wall. We left a portion of the wall around the water main to be network closet, wired romex for power, network cable, and new lights along the wall. all in all, not a bad renovation.

this took approximately 4 weekends to get 70% done. the wall is built, the wires are run, the sheetrock is up everywhere except around the network closet. we need to finish the closet, plug in the power, and tape/texture/paint.

in the interim of this project, my wife became annoyed with having the dish washer in the kitchen.

this house, for another unknown reason, has one of the smallest kitchens i have ever witnessed. the total size is 10'x10'. not too bad if its a bedroom, but then bring all four walls in by the two and a half feet of cabinet and counters, and the area is significantly smaller. the dishwasher, a roll-away, perfectly rolled into the opening between the counter and the fridge, and hooked up to the sink. she has been telling me for the last year that she wants it permanently mounted to the end of the counter. i could not figure out how that was supposed to work, but after cabling the basement and wiring for power, i felt confident i could figure it out. to ensure i would not slack it off and only half finish it, i cut the connection to the faucet from the hoses, and off we went to home depot.

we bought fittings, irrigation pipe, and teflon tape, and took our treasures home to properly mount the dishwasher in its now irrevocably permanent home. After drilling holes in the walls of the cabinets, feeding through the hose and running the dishwasher several times, i have tightened the fittings down enough that no water leaks from the connections; not as easy a task as you might think. Forget screwdrivers for this type of torque. Rachets are a godsend.


Crazy guy in 14 house

It wasnt right away that i noticed the guy was crazy. it took a few days.
he was fine playing spades, pretty good, actually. He could pick up my tells quick and throw just the right thing to roll us wheels and jump two-hundred points on the suckers sitting to either side. he was fine at dinner, easy conversation about his life before, about what he would do when he got out, about simple things in the world. never seemed crazy then.
but i started to pick up on things, things i hadn't noticed, or didnt' pay attention to, until just one day it caught my attention. like the disinfectant. after using the head and washing his hands with soap and water, he'd spray disinfectant on his hands and rub them together. that had to dry out his skin.
and he had a ritual for going to bed. when i noticed that, i watched it for three days before i asked him about it. three days of the same thing. he'd pull his covers back half way and sit down. he'd stare at his toes for a minute, then lift up his left foot, flip the sandle off, then his right, flip the sandle off, use his big toes to position them so they were even and right straight down from the side of the bunk. then with his feet together, he'd tap the floor on either side of his sandles, once, twice, three, no four times. then roll to the side, grab his covers and flip them up, and slide his feet under and lay totally flat before the blankets would sink over him.
if any part of this did not go exactly to plan, he'd put his shoes on and start over.
I dont remember his name now. i do remember he confided in me that the world would end if he didnt do these things exactly right.
i remember him. crazy or no, he was a good card player.


31 October 2008

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

I've had a few cars in my life. None fancy or fast, and few cool. My current car, my Honda Civic, is pretty cool, but aside from that they're mostly whatever i could afford at the time to get me by.
One car that i had that held a lot of memories was my first car, a '77 AMC Gremlin. Blue with a black swoop on each side. (Pic is stockart, not my actual car.)

My mother gave it to me after high school. it was a bit of a beater, no radio, so i had a battery operated tape deck. Gas gauge didnt work, so i had a stick and every so often i would open the tank and drop this stick down and check the level. A friend of mine was trying to dig the light out of his LA Gear shoes (remember those?) and broke my key off, so no key. Long as i didnt lock the steering wheel, i was good.
It had a split-back bench seat at first, and that was okay, but not the most comfortable. So when my brother was junking his little Toyota truck, i jumped at the chance to swap my seats out for buckets. The problem was that the passenger seat wouldnt line up with the bolt pattern, so had no support. I fixed that by turning it around to face backwards, and actually liked it better. I could see the person sitting next to me so much better, and she could make samaches and change tapes. It was great for the road trip we took to McCall.
Alas, it is gone now. While i was away in boot camp my mother sent it off to be recycled.
To my first car that got me around, I salute you.


26 October 2008

How to build your own space ship.

This is prolly the shortest hobby i ever had.

It went something like this:

*Me reading this website*

*Sage glancing over at my screen*

Sage says, "Oh, geez."

*End hobby*

I've been sick the last week. stuffy head, miserable nose, wants to run and be stuffed at the same time. I spent the week playing Oblivion (in preparation for Fallout 3's release tomorrow night!!) and feeling awful. Sage was wonderful and took good care of me on my worst day, Tuesday. Then Thursday she started feeling sick, and yesterday and today both were her Tuesday.

When it rains it pours.


08 October 2008

Improbable... but true?

Sage, my beautiful wife, and I were talking last night about stories which were true, yet improbable. I dont remember why, we just were. So i told her to tell me one.

Sage: You know, the one about the people.

Soul: About the people. What else?

Sage: And... brown.

Soul: Brown and people? No no no. You have to tell me a story.

Sage: I don't know any stories.

Soul: It doesnt matter if you -know- them.. you just make them up. Like, you remember that guy we were talking to at that party that told us about his friend? He was driving on the highway, and all a sudden this truck came out of no where and hit him head on. Well, the guy wasn't wearing his seat belt and he went half way thru the windshield and his head came off. And it was sitting on the hood of the car and his mouth and jaw were moving like he was trying to talk, but he couldnt say anything cuz his friggin head was on the hood of the car. See? Improbable, but possibly true.

Sage: Was it a brown car?

Soul: ... Yes. Yes it was.

Sage: See? Brown... and people. It fits.


29 September 2008

More on Chainmaille

In an effort to further my chainmaille-ing ability, and to save on costs, i purchased 10lbs of stainless steel in the 18swg on a spool. This brought me to my new project: Creating the tools i need to coil the steel.

I had the idea in my head from the beginning, and it only took small tweaks to make it work. First, i grabbed two pieces of scrap wood and cut them to approximately the same size. these i nailed/glued to another piece of scrap my approximate coil length. i drilled holes in the wood (yes, after it was connected, not while they were on the table, silly me) and then slid the coil rod thru the holes, marked where it hit on the other piece of wood, and tapped an indent, not all the way thru, for the coil rod to rest.

I'll get to the pics in a minute.

My first attempt was using the handle of a shovel across two chairs with the spool set on the handle. This proved not the best idea. The shovel moved, the spool moved, the wire didnt stay right, and i made a stainless steel rose, a pic of which i will post at a later date.

The second attempt was after another tool. i found a closet hanger dowel that fit the spool perfectly, grabbed a few more scraps, some screws/glue later, i made me a hanger for the spool. here is the whole setup and the coils i completed:

Yes, the green chair in the background is one of the chairs i was balancing the spool across with a shovel. Not recommended.

The coil rod is still a little long, and i'll be cutting that off when i get a hack saw. that will make it easier to mount the drill on. it just about hangs off the table now.

The next step is a coil cutter. I need an arbor and saw for my drill, plus a mount to hold the drill stable while i drop the coils thru a block of wood and have them neatly cut. Its pretty cool.

Here's a couple pics of my coils, the first two i've done.

The lighter is for size reference. yes, its short, but right after that the coil got away from me and i had to figure out how to better hold it. it wound back on itself.

This second one is significantly longer. There are some expanded places where the spool got away from me again, but i managed to get it under control, and it won't make that big of a difference when i cut them. they'll just have to be bent back a little more.

All in all, i'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out and am looking forward to getting my cutter set up. I made this one to handle 3/16" and 1/4" inner diameter coils.


27 September 2008

Larry LaPrise

With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week.

Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote 'The Hokie Pokey' died peaceful ly at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.


21 September 2008

WoW - First dungeon instance

I found out the hard way that I am not that good a team member, and a really sucky team leader. Heading to the deadmines in westfall, being level 28 Paladin, I was sure that we could do some damage. I started looking for a team and picked up a 15th level warrior, 17th level priest, 16th level rogue. Within 2 minutes the warrior was dead. *sigh* we waited around until he got back, within another minute he was dead again.

I'm not sure if it was an unexperienced healer or just overall party chaos. being a pali and having some healing abililty, i expected to be able to backup. but when the rounds start coming down range, tunnel vision sets in and all i can see is the enemy. The cries of my quickly dying team fall on deaf ears as i drop blow after blow on miners so low in level i wont get any experience worth a damn. Two elites go down, the passage is clear, and i realize i'm standing by myself. the entire party is dead.

well, that was enough for the warrior. He never came back. Okay, Rogue, Priest, and me. we're ready to kick some butt and take some names. Well, the ogre did a number on us and it took another try before he fell. but that is when we lost the priest. sad, but she gave it her best.

The rogue and i tried several more times, killing elite goblins one by one, but the mechanical beast the gobo was riding was just too much for us and we parted ways; a little more experienced, a little wiser, a little richer, but not much.


15 September 2008


Tyke was an interesting character. Some people feared him, although I never saw a reason why. He was wiccan, a good guitar player, a decent teacher, friendly enough, was in prison for killing a guy with a crossbow. Yeah. Crossbow. How often do you hear that?

He taught me to play guitar, but i had to be careful not to let my thumb creep over the neck of the guitar. he'd try to bite it off. One day he came to me with a can of spam and said that he heard that cleaning your guitar with Spam would make it shine and help the wood to last.

No. It just makes your guitar greasy and smell like Spam.

Tyke had a scar in the shape of an H on his forehead, left side. One day I asked him where he got the scar. He said:

"When I was born there was a lump on my head right here. The doctors cut it open and inside was a plastic bubble with a note. It said: I owe you one brain, love God."


28 August 2008


Yesterday I played with the leather.

I went to Tandy leather here in town and picked up a slab of 12oz leather and some scraps. all told, about 45$. I took it home and started sizing.

For my first project i wanted a pauldron and arm bracers. One of the scraps i picked up was just perfect for the pauldron with just a little trimming. I boiled it in 200F water, pressed it between a couple cereal bowels while it was still stretchy, and molded it over my shoulder.

The leather didnt darken that much, but it did get rubbery and stretchy like the article said, so i figured i was about right on. I plan on melting the wax over it anyway to add additional hardening. I won't be using slashing weapons in my combat, so wax is fine, and it should darken it. I'm going to try it on a smaller scrap first, see what color the wax turns it. I want a nice dark brown/burgundy color. if that doesnt work i'll have to pick up some dye.

Anyway, the pauldron came out nice, fits my shoulder, and will work well with some padding under. I'm going to have to add a lame or two to extend it down my arm. Prolly attach it with rivets or heavy thread, not sure on finishing stuff yet.

Next i het up some more water and did the left bracer. I wrapped a small dish towel around my arm and had my wife strap down the bracer with an ace bandage. it left a slight texturing that i wasn't all too worried about. The bracer started really hot (remember 200F) but cooled quickly and i could feel it shrink slightly and get tighter on my arm as it went. I waited about 20 minutes until it was sufficiently cool and held its shape, then did the other in the same way, playing some SW:Republic Commando to kill the time.

My wife doesnt care for the smell of leather (sacrilege!) so i put them on the back porch to dry. in a couple days they'll be sufficiently dry and ready for punching for the laces and buckles. I'm not sure what tooling i want to do, be it a design around the edge or across the top or a mixture of the two, but i'll be thinking about it and working on some designs before i wax it. It was so easy i'm surprised i wasn't doing this stuff before.

I need more leather.

My dad told me he'd give me his deer hides if i will learn how to dehair and tan myself. i've googled a little on tanning leather, and found some interesting articles. its pretty gross stuff (leather is often tanned/prepared with brain/urine/poop) but i'm willing to give it a try.


24 August 2008

Chainmaille & Leather.. Kinky?

Kinky.. pshh. no way. I'm not into that sort of thing.

But what I am into is creating armor. Yes, new burst of creativity. Wanna hear how it went down? Very interesting:

I was surfing the vids on YouTube and watching things of interest like making green screens, fireball effects with adobe Aftereffects, rotoscoping lightsabers, ... you know, basic geek stuff.. and i stumbled upon making lockpicks out of hacksaw blades. So i started searching for "how to" stuff, and next i hit chainmaille. looked relatively easy, so i stareted, as i often do, researching on google.

Two weeks later:

Well, you might be asking.. what about the leather?

That is a little different story, but along the same line. My friends Lone and Tony (I refuse to call him Goku) were sitting around late one afternoon and thought it would be fun to get some armor and make padded weapons and beat the hell out of each other. We thought tires would make great armor, ala Demolition Man. But the more i thought about it, used tires sounded dirty and difficult to cut.

So i started thinking of alternatives. Plate armor.. hell yeah. I need to be a blacksmith. Well, that was a little out of my reach, but i did talk my dad into teaching me about welding, so we'll see how that goes first.

Hmm.. no plate. what else would be hard enough to take a solid hit but be cheap enough to afford? And then Google, being the Internet God that it is, delivered the answer.

Hard Leather Armor.

My friends and readers, this is the holy grail of armor for the poor. Pieces can be purchased for a few dollars, shaped around bottles or similar -free- objects by wetting, then when they're dry, dip them in wax. Once they are cool, attach buckles/velcro, them to clothing, and you have inexpensive solid armor that will take a hit and keep your bones from breaking.

Now for the weapons. Muahaha!

For testing purposes, we started with some 1/2" pvc wrapped in foam insullation sheet bought at home depot for about 4$, then duct tape and electrical tape to keep the foam on. This is fine for just playing, but the pvc will shatter with a solid hit.

Now we're looking into Ash or hard Maple as the core, still wrapped in foam and duct tape. That will handle the swords.

Mace. Everyone wants to swing a mace at your friend's head.. hell yeah. Softballs are the size of mace heads. a broom handle and a hole drilled in the softball, then attach and cover in foam padding.

Lone wants a warhammer.. that one might be more difficult. He said sledge hammer, i said piss off. I'm all for mock combat.. i'm not for going to the hospital.

More updates will come when i buy the leather tomorrow and start on some bracers and chest plates.


20 February 2008

Star Wars... Geek or Enthusiast?

I have fallen in love with star wars again. It started innocently enough. I asked my wife for a book from the library and she brought me Young Jedi Knights, the tales of Han Solo & Leia Organa's children learning Jedi training from Luke Skywalker. The book was targeted for 14 year olds, and very childish in the writing. No book over 22 chapters, all around 200 pages..

Anyway.. As childish as it was, it reminded me how much I enjoy Star Wars. I finished the book on Saturday. Sunday, the wife and I watched episodes IV, V, and VI. Monday, I, Tuesday, II. Only one left. I also broke out the Star Wars Saga RPG and continued work on my adventure for my wife, and joined SciFi book club to pick up the next series dealing with the children.

I am drooling over the new Force Unleashed game coming out this summer. Watching trailers and video diaries.

Now.. does that make me a geek or just an enthusiast?

Well, I still don't dress up and go to conventions.



About This Blog

This blog is about Soul Existence and his completely random hobbies that change at least monthly. It will chronicle each of these unfinished hobbies in their various states as he wanders back and forth between them. It will update regularly, as there is always something new to try.

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