jeregenest: (Default)
The following is a heavily edited version of a conversation in the car on the way back from a party this afternoon.

Me: What were you guys playing?
The boy: A LARP set in a spaceship.
[livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom: What made it a LARP?
The boy: We have gms and stuff.
Me: Like character sheets?
The boy: Dad we're not doing tabletop.
Me: So its basically a game of pretend.
The boy: Please dad, we haven't called it pretend since we were 5.

[livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom and I then proceed to explain why a LARP requires rules to be a larp and the continuum of pretend.
jeregenest: (Default)
Anyone ever use Obsidian Portal? I'm concemplating using it for the game I've started with [livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom but I'm unsure of the robustness of the interface.

D&D update

Jan. 1st, 2011 04:34 pm
jeregenest: (Default)
We have started a new family D&D game. The last one kind of got lost at the end of the year. And instead of picking it up again the kids really, really wanted to make new characters. So we ended up with the Starchild playing a Razorclaw Warden; the boy with a human druid who likes to shapeshift, and [livejournal.com profile] peaseblossom as an Elven Ranger. We started at 5th level.

This group is heavy with interrupts and conditional bonuses/modifiers. And lots of secondaries. It will be interesting to see how the kids do.

In other D&D news the boy has been talking about running a game with his friends, so we got him the Dungeon Master's Kit.
jeregenest: (Default)
First I read about impossible colors. Then I read about life's building blocks being found on a meteroite. If I read anything about Quabbin I'm giving up on city water.
jeregenest: (cynic)
I don't know why I'm surprised that someone does a Top Five Outsider Sci-fi Weirdo Cult Themed Acts band list for Boston. Really I shouldn't be.

I am surprised that I only have 2 of those bands on my iPod. I need to go check out the other three now.
jeregenest: (Default)
We finally got around to watching the show White Collar. The first episode (pilot?) was good. Right notes. FBI guy not an idiot. Forger a little too skilled but that's okay, competency porn is fun. Good supporting cast. Second episode not so good. In fact pretty bad, many of the things I liked from the first episode not present at all. The wife went from being smarter than FBI guy to an event planner (she may still be smarter, but event planner is not a great career for that). The only good thing is the director character (he's great, more people should hire that actor).

Does this show get better? Should I watch more?
jeregenest: (Default)
So I'm working on story trees for a variety of forgery related topics for this game I'm going to run for Jess. I have most broad areas of forgery but not musical forgery. So, public brainstorming powers activated!
jeregenest: (slingsarrows)
One of my present conundrums is a lack of a good, stable gaming group with trust. Too many people have moved away, we live in an odd place for the people left, there are the kids and the dog, and frankly I don’t get the amount of gaming I’d like.

But, a few days ago, I participated in an activity that rather sparked an interesting gaming idea in my head. The activity was a values exercise, but enough about that. Here’s how I see it distilled into a build a game exercise.
Read more... )
jeregenest: (sandbaggers)
Games go wrong, fact of life. And hopefully people do post-Mortems on games, figure out what went wrong, why, and what they can do better next time. Frankly all the learning is on the wrong end this way, but what would happen if more games did pre-Mortem’s? This is something I do in projects all the time, because ideally team members, with all their collective experiences, can usually see the bad assumptions that go horribly wrong and the things that bring us off-track. And we can thus open a space at the inception to directly address the risks. This is similar, but different from the more formal risk analysis in that it is more designed to tap into experience and intuition. This probably raises the importance of an exercise like this to game groups, who usually have a lot of experience but few real formal risk management tools can apply easily to the decision (yes I want to do a FEMA on Fiasco).

So start with the simple question, “What will go wrong?” or corollaries like “What will lessen play.” This will allow the group to name risks or elephants lurking in the room. The exercise is deceptively easy and exists to deliberately create a space to share past learning at a time when the gaming group can best act on it. Closing the exercise it is probably good enough to do some social contract brainstorming to address the concerns or take other game based document decisions (house rules etc).

Peaseblossom and I recently did this for the game and it went well. The real issues were around grind, how depressing, the issues of victory, and content. There was also a good discussion on sexualization of NPCs. It lead to a great discussion, that I then was easily able to apply to my thinming and game development.
jeregenest: (Default)


SALAM: The conservative backlash against the TSA is just part of a bigger revival of civil liberties talk on the right. We’re going to see a lot more of it in the next year or two.


There is a some interesting things going on here. There is a standard "I'm for civil liberties when my party isn't in power" vibe, that frankly is pretty strong in both our dominant political parties. When in power they tend to be all for exective priviledge (Obama is a strong proponent of executive priviledge, he just wants to be more open about it except when its convient not to be). This easily strays into classic paranoia country. Which lead us to conspiracy thinking (and again, both sides are prone to this, I just think the right allows it to be more mainstream). We're going to see a continuance of this worry about dwindling human autonomy that leads to the right's best conspiracy thinking, and inevitably we'll see some masculinist outbursts of "regeneration through violence" that will probably make Oklahoma City seem like a warm up.
jeregenest: (kale cold war)
Here is a "best of list" of the 10 spy thrillers.


  • The Ipcress File (1965)

  • The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

  • Charade (1963)

  • No Way Out (1987)

  • Carve Her Name With Pride (1958)

  • Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery

  • The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1966)

  • Goldfinger (1964)

  • Secret Agent (1936)

  • Three Days Of The Condor (1975)


It is an interesting and eclectic list. I've seen them all and can recommend most of them, I'm not a Bourne fan and I'd put something like Lives of Others on my list well before thinking of including Austin Powers.
jeregenest: (cynic)


Very interesting TED talk by JJ Abrams about the fundamental role played by mystery and the unknown in storytelling. I think he so misses out on the power of understanding, even partial, in stories. He probably needs to have a good sitdown with Tim Powers (amongst othjers) who understands the strength of having multiple possibilities all driving a story.
jeregenest: (sandbaggers)
Even in a game between partners there is a need for some set agreements, i.e. a social contract. Here's what we've been discussing.

Read more... )
jeregenest: (Default)

I like the following movies

  • Diabolique
  • Gaslight
  • Don't Look Now
  • Three Days of the Condor
  • The Parallax View
  • The Conversation
  • The Manchurian Candidate

I enjoyed Rubicon. I'm a huge le Carré and Sandbaggers fan. I thought The Lives of Others was amazing.

What television (including animation), especially foreign, would you recommend. Why?


jeregenest: (kale cold war)
A favorite area for many people about spies is the tech, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda by Robert Wallace, H. Keith Melton and Henry R. Schlesinger seeks to fulfill that need by offering a fairly detailed history of CIA’s Office of Technical Service.

Another good treatment, one lacking the gee-whiz and being a lot more serious in its analysis is Jeffrey Richelson’s The Wizards of Langley: Inside The CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.

I think both of these books very nicely work together and can serve to understand the role technology has played in espionage in the last 60 years. Some of the crazier ideas also make great game springboards.
jeregenest: (Default)
My review of John le Carré's latest, Our Kind of Traitor, is up at Drowned Books.
jeregenest: (sandbaggers)
[livejournal.com profile] brand_of_amber has asked for books about spying. So I shall review my bookshelf, figuring any book I've kept I've kept for a reason. I'll be doing this slowly, so Brand if you need immediate book recommendations let me know (or want books on specific subjects).

Jeffrey T. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community (Westview: 2007) )

Frederick Hitz, The Great Game: Myth & Reality of Espionage (Vintage, 2005) )

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