The Days of Not Complaining About My Job Are Over

Once I’ve bottomed out on spoons during a week, I’ll start most days after that in a state of quiet determination. I kind of enjoy this state of being because it is easy to push myself to work on small projects. When I’m that tired and worn out, I don’t waste any time or energy procrastinating or getting in my own way. It can be a great way to have a calm, productive day if I’m left alone. After all, being out of spoons doesn’t mean I can’t still accomplish stuff, it just means that my ability to handle stress is greatly reduce. For instance, heavy bass in music bothers me all the time. If I’m not out of spoons, I can handle it (by spending spoons to ignore it). If I’m out of spoons, I am almost entirely incapable of ignoring it and will get more frustrated the longer it goes on. Worse yet, my ability to calmly and rationally do something about is dimished because that ALSO takes spoons, so I usually wind up needing to endure it longer than I might on a day that I’ve got the spoons to ask whoever is making that noise to lower their volume or even just turn the bass down.

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This One’s About Active Shooter Training And Gun Violence

Content Warning for me ranting about Active Shooter training, Guns in the US, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings, Activer Shooter situations, and “Active Assailant” training.

I’m going to be clear: I’m pissed as hell after a thing came up with work and I went a full rant about this stuff. I get it if that’s not something you’re interested in, something you’re already traumatized by, or just want to (ENTIRELY UNDERSTANDABLY) avoid these topics creeping into more of your life. There’s no harm in leaving now. You don’t have to click to expand and read about this stuff. I needed to write about it, though, since it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I’m so angry that even the stuff created specifically to prepare people for these scenarios tries to be coy about it. The US has a problem and it is only getting worse.

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A Turning Point In My Relationships

One of the side effects of leaving behind the trauma of my youth (along with all the places and peace I associate it with) is that I don’t have many relationships that are more than a decade old. I have a few friendships that have finally hit that age, but I wound up losing (or ending) contact with a lot of the people I was close with in my first few years of college and I didn’t really get close to most most of the poeple I’m still friends with until my final year, so most of them are only just now hitting the 10-year point. I have only one person I knew in high school that I’ve spoken to in the last few years and our current time zone difference means we’re pretty much never awake and online at the same time, which would put a damper on reconnecting even if I was so inclined. The only people I’m still in contact with from further back are two of my siblings, and that’s a weird situation to bring up in this context given my complex feelings about family and the life my siblings were a part of. Most of the people who are still a part of my life are from just the most recent third of it, despite the prevalence of social media, and that list seems to only ever get smaller with time rather than bigger.

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Fire Emblems Warriors: Three Hopes Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

I’ve been playing a lot of Fire Emblems Warriors: Three Hopes lately. It has been a lot of fun, since it combines one of my favorite entries in the Fire Emblem series with a style of game I’m fairly new to (at least in terms of the lifespan of the game type) but definitely enjoy. I was introduced to the Warriors style of game by the IP crossovers they have been doing lately (again, an incredibly subjective term), namely the previous Fire Emblem game and the two Legend of Zelda entries, but I’ve never really finished any of them. I think I’ve gotten through the plot on one of them (the original Hyrule Warriors game), but I also didn’t play that one alone. My roommate and I took turns playing through it and I doubt I’d have made it through to the end without a friend along for the ride. I genuinely enjoy the games since a relatively mindless beat’em’up style game appeals to me when I’m tired or not terribly interested in being challenged, but I’ll admit the previous games didn’t really catch my attention in a way that made me choose them over any other game.

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I Now Understand The DIY Boom

So far, in the past month, I have taken apart a PS4 controller, a Nintendo 64, two Super Nintendos, a wireless headset (three times), a blender, my computer (which is probably a lot less impressive than the rest considering I’m the person who built it in the first place), and a backpack, on top of all the things I take apart at my workplace as part of my day-to-day work. I managed to put everything back together correctly, and fix all of the problems I was trying to diagnose aside from the PS4 controller. I managed to diagnose the issue with the PS4 controller, but I would have had to take it apart even further and I just don’t have those tools on hand at home. I’d need to bring it into work and, since I’ve already replaced the controller, I feel a lot less urgency when it comes to getting that particular problem solved. I also managed to achieve my goal with the backpack, which was to free up the straps and a bunch of heavy-duty fabric so I could use them to create a modified carrying case for my video game consoles, since I’ve got a bunch of spare padded briefcases/laptop bags I’ve accumulated as a part of various promotions and mobile computing purchases I’ve made over the years that weren’t quite the right size or shape for video game consoles.

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Introduction To The Leeching Wastes

My reviewers and I need another week to get ready to start posting the rewritten serial story, so I’ve got something else for you today! The following is an introductory story I wrote for a small Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’m running for a few friends, based on a bunch of very different ideas I had. I was actually creating this world and campaign when I was writing my posts about creating interesting tabletop RPG worlds, so you can see how I put a lot of that stuff into practice. I told all of the players that their character was the “you” referenced and even though they all sat this watch together, their recollection of this experience was exactly as this short story is written. I won’t add too many disclaimers to the start of this since it’s just a fun “get a feel for the world” sort of thing, but I felt like some context would help. Now, without further ado, welcome to The Leeching Wastes!

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Emotional Investment At The Table

During the many hours that I spend thinking about my various Tabletop Roleplaying Games (can’t just say “Dungeons and Dragons games” anymore, since I’m finally running and playing other games), one of the things I think about the most is my players’ emotional investment in our shared stories. I do my best to give them stories and non-player characters to care about, but I can’t exactly force it. They’re only going to care if they find something they feel is worth caring about and then make the effort to care. I tend to focus on the story elements, since I’d prefer that they care about the game as a whole rather than individual NPCs or one-time encounters, but it is usually a lot easier to make them care about an NPC than the game itself.

Most of the time, you can make an NPC sympathetic, interesting, and a little bit quirky without too much of an issue. It is a roll of the dice (pun absolutely intended) as to whether or not the players will care about any given NPC, but the nice thing is that you can always toss one aside if your players are not interested and make a new one. In any given TTRPG, you’re probably going to run through multiple NPCs in any given hour of the game, or session at the very least. NPCs fill the world and the players will wind up picking whichever ones interest them and you can just expand from there. For instance, I had an NPC rogue in one of my games that was around mostly to serve a narrative purpose in the first session, assist with some skill checks if the party chose to go somewhere they would need a trapfinder or the like, and provide a safety release valve in combat scenarios that involved the entire caravan the party was traveling with. Eventually, they also wound up providing a second voice for the caravan itself and a source of supposed romantic tension as one of the players jokingly shipped them with another player’s character.

Eventually, they died. It was a rough fight, also claiming the life of one of the player characters as well, and I thought that would be the end of it. I’d come up with some other stuff to give the character more depth, but I’m not precious with my NPCs. They’re there to serve a purpose and are easy ways for me to introduce threat without it feeling like I just hit one of the heroes with a bus. Instead of a hero, I hit the sidekick. The players eventually insisted on bringing the NPC back to life and, since they were willing to go through the rigmarole involved, I wasn’t going to stop them. Then the NPC died in the next major encounter after that and the party once again tried to bring them back. This time, the ritual failed and the party swore to bring them back, no matter what it took. Now they’re investigating how to bring someone back after a ritual fails and I’ve given them a nice little high-level quest for a massive diamond formed in the heart of a mountain. Good times.

I couldn’t have predicted they’d get this invested in the character. I thought they’d wind up more interested in the revenant they fished out of a river or the caravan leader, who was just some dude, who was entrusted with secret documents to take from one country’s leadership to another’s that were apparently so valuable that the caravan was attacked by assassins. None of which caught their interest for very long. They loved the Revenant for a while, but there was no talk of trying to bring him back, or finding out what happened to him after they learned he was the result of an experiment to see if a necromancer could artificially induce a revenant that would hunt a killer who had not actually killed him and he turned into dust when the necromancer concluded his experiment by slaying the person binding the revenant to unlife. They just moved on from the caravan leader, even though he was a family friend/relative to one of the player characters and clearly up to some shit. I certainly wouldn’t have planned it that way, but you make stuff, let your players pick what they like, and then do your best to run with it.

As far as the story goes, all I can really do is try to make cool stuff. I have no idea if they’re actually super invested in what might happen or just enjoying themselves on a per-session basis, and I’m honestly not sure it super matters right now. As long as we’re all having fun, I’m happy with whatever we’re doing. I’d love to be able to figure out what kind of stories they’re willing to emotionally invest in, since I’d love to overwhelm a player with emotion (not, like, in a mean way, just in a “dang, that’s some good storytelling” kind of way). I think that if I making sure I’m investing in their stories, building things out for them, and checking in with them regularly, I’ll probably get there eventually. None of my games are meeting weekly right now, at least not ones I’m running, so it’s difficult to tell if people are super invested because it’s difficult to retain details across multiple weeks without a session. Everyone asks questions like someone who wasn’t paying attention and that’s just because it’s been so long. Even the most meticulous of notes can only remind us of the details of what happened. They can’t make us feel that way again, nor can they entirely re-immerse us in a story that’s been set aside for multiple weeks.

Like I said, as long as my players are enjoying themselves, I’m happy. I’m going to keep doing what I can to get them emotionally invested because I think that’s a good focus for me to have as a storyteller (specifically to give them things they’re interested in investing in rather than manipulating them into investing), but I’m not going to be upset if it doesn’t happen on my time scale. These things take time and we’ve all got plenty of it (you know, probably).

I’m Tired and Sad, So Let’s Talk About The Legend of Zelda: Episode 18

Amazing that I’ve only had 18 days in the last year that I was too exhausted, emotionally drained, or just plain sleep-deprived to come up with a good blog post idea. This time, it’s all three, so today’s a special post about what USED to be my favorite idyllic Legend of Zelda activity, before hanging out in the rain in Breath of the Wild became an option. I used to load this game up just so I could relax when I was younger, tooling around the map without any specific destination in mind and enjoying the feeling of controlling Link as we dodged enemies, swerved through hazards, and did our best to avoid getting roped into any cutscenes or battles. The swelling music rising and falling as the wind blew from behind me, hopping from the crest a wave to see how much air I could get, and the way islands slowly passed into and out of view as I sailed from one spot on the map to another at random… Nothing was as relaxing and satisfying as cruising around the surface in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker when I was a teen and college student.

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Digital Object Impermanence Ruined Streaming For Me

I don’t watch a lot of movies. Or TV shows, for that matter. I live alone and don’t really have a lot of people who show up in my day-to-day life and share my interests in a way that would motivate us to watch the same shows across a distance (one exclusion being my younger sister, whom I’ve convinced to watch Steven Universe with me), so most of my leisure time is spent on video games, books, and the occasional TV show. It’s not that I don’t enjoy TV shows or movies, I just don’t think of them. Most new media exists only as a digital icon I can interface with through a streaming service, so I honestly just forget most of it exists. I have the same problem with e-books and audio books. I just forget they exist. I think the only reason I don’t have that problem with podcasts is because I keep my podcast app open on my phone all the time and listen to more podcasts than music these days.

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Wisconsin’s Woes and Weather

For the second summer in a row, the weather where I live has been fairly dry and relatively mild. Eighties during the day, sixties overnight, and mostly small strips of storms and rain that rush past, or clouds that seem to split around us before reforming once they’re past so they can drop their moisture elsewhere. Mild, compared to the heavier storms, flooding, and record-adjacent seasons of the first six summers I spent in the area. I mean, my first summer was marked by a massive storm system that dropped a few tornados southwest of Madison that, among other things, tore up a bunch of trees and some of the buildings of my then employer (my memory of the storm was being the only one in my apartment that woke from the tornado sirens at one or two in the morning to take shelter in the basement).

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