Tuesday, September 25, 2007


TVP 5 is online

Microsoft's fifth building at Reading's Thames Valley Park has now been officially opened. They haven't yet worked out who is going to work there - Microsoft has a transient organisational structure (except product support) so this isn't too surprising.

Mmmm... cake....


Monday, September 24, 2007


Lemurs are one of my favourite animals

To watch, that is, as opposed to eat for dinner.


Shouldn't it be called "Ape World"?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Flowerpot Fly

Thursday, September 06, 2007


These are not the cartoons you're looking for

My wife lives in a state of perpetual annoyance now she knows that all those witty lines I used when we first met were - she says - taken from movies which she hadn't seen (but every body else in the world had, like Star Wars).
So this cartoon encapsulates it all neatly:

This cartoon works on several levels - one where Sue laughs because of the representation of her seething fury, and another where I laugh because it is the sort of thing I would like to think I would say in the same situation (but without receiving the force choke, of course).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Just so funny :-)

"Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)."

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Warwick Castle

Microsoft held it's summer picnic at Warwick Castle this year, ferrying in coach loads of people for the event. We had a big marquee full of food and beer to keep us going as we took in the sights. In fact, Sue and I (Samantha didn't want to come along) never got round to visiting the castle itself. Instead we had a go at the laser clays and noddy archery, watched the falconry and archery displays, saw the jousting and chatted to the re-enactment people in Pageant Field. Before we knew it, the time to leave for the coach had come around - sadly too early for us to see the trebuchet launch its flaming fireball.

We could have talked to the expert on food of the 1500s for hours - she loved her subject and was a full-time teacher during the week so was in her element.

The trebuchet was an imposing piece of siege machinery. Apparantly the device is wound up using people inside the "hamster wheels" at the side. In the past they used blind people because they did not get motion sickness - the Earl of Warwick was an equal opportunities employer.

The falconer had a great range of raptors on display in the Bird of Prey Mews - buzzards, eagles, an owl and a vulture - although I'm not sure how many he demonstrated with. The bird below is a young Bay-winged (or Harris) Hawk.

The archer was using a 50 pound draw bow, a small relative of the 150 pound longbow of old. He was a good storyteller and not too bad with a bow, considering the lack of modern inventions in the one he was using.


GenConUK 2007 - report #2 - RPGA

Thursday-Sunday this week has been GenCon UK 2007, held at Reading university.
I'll put my thoughts down in type over the next few days.
Here's my comments on the RPGA events that I posted on the GenCon UK website today.
The website forum really annoyed me as the first draft - which took nearly an hour - disappeared into the ether when I accidentally hit the Escape key. No "did you mean to do that" pop-up. Just gone forever...

The Undermountain sessions at GenCon this week were the first encounter I'd had with an RPGA event and I'd like to discuss my experiences to see if they are typical or I was just plain unlucky.

I managed to play "The River Sargauth", "The Citadel", "Belkram's Tomb" over Thursday/Friday with different GMs and players and had different amounts of enjoyment each time. I'd written up a Chaos Gnome priest (luck domain) in the same way I would for a campaign at my local club (i.e. focus on trying things out rather then min/maxing).

"The River Sargauth" (written by Chris Lindsay) went well. The environment felt "real" - we could visualise what the place looked like (good GM descriptive skills, caverns and passageways that made sense, monsters that had personalities (again, down to the GM)). We completed the objectives and felt we had put in a good few hours' work. This obviously set me up for a fall.

"The Citadel" (written by Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Chris Lindsay, and Sean K. Reynolds) was an appalling example how to write a rail-roaded hack-and-slay scenario. The flow went as follows: arrive, fight random monster, find random magic item on monster, move to next location, fight random monster, rinse, repeat...

"Belkram's Tomb" (also written by Boyd, Greenwood, Lindsay, and Reynolds) was an equally appalling example of a tricks/traps/monsters dungeon crawl. There was no rhyme or reason to it - how it needed four people to write it is beyond me. Maybe one person had the squared paper, another the Monster Manual, a third had the Magic Item Compendium and the last made the coffee. Which of these guys decided that magic items should be randomly scattered on the floor for the characters to find?

Maybe I would have had different experiences with different DMs? The first seemed to be enjoying themselves but the second, though, didn't seem to be (hadn't prepared as much, got irritated by the poor adventure editing...). Or is it me? Am I expecting too much? Are the modules deliberately dumbed down to make them easy to run for GMs and accessible to novice players?


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]