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Dom Mooney's Website

August 2008

Have you missed me?

Just in case you've been pining for him, Nathan on the Bank Holiday Weekend.

I realised we hadn't posted many pictures of the little tyke recently, so here's one you'll have missed if you don't look at my Flickr photostream. It was a weekend with him full of energy until his batteries ran out, and then he recharged with a nap or a snack...

Of course, the big challenge this Monday is whether he will give his Grandma a kiss, or just stick to his Grandpoppy!

Getting into InDesign CS2

Well, my meanderings with InDesign are progressing, albeit more slowly than I really would like. I've now completed the 3rd lesson in the Adobe Classroom-in-a-Book series, catching up to where I was when I started this last year. Fortunately, this time I've got a target, which is to be able to layout Graham Spearing's excellent Wordplay RPG before the end of November 2008 so it will be ready for Dragonmeet.

I'm starting to get to a point where I could do it now, but the rest of the course is about raising the skill levels to improve the workflow. Which is worthwhile, of course, as time is at a premium!

How heavily do you load a Brute? [UPDATED]

One Loaded Brute

We saw the picture above when travelling on the East Coast Main Line railway, and were quite bemused by it! Does anyone know what this is in modern terms?

UPDATE: Sadly, my dad has shattered all my wild imaginings of ogre like beasts enslaved by the railway companies. You can find the full details of what a BRUTE is here on wikipedia.

"I Want to Believe" - The X Files Movie

On Monday night, Jill and I went to see the new X Files movie, "I Want to Believe" at the Multiplex in York. It was great, much better than the critics would have you believe. It was a low budget film, and really captured the feel of some of the best non-Alien Mythos episodes from the series. They'd carefully focussed away from the massive back-story of the series, making it really approachable.

I recommend getting to see this before The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! completely swamp it from the cinema. We've been following it up by watching the DVD of the first series.

(We got to see this because Nathan had an extra day's holiday at my parents!)

Continuum - Day 3 and After Con thoughts

Sunday really made my time at Continuum. Firstly, I got to play in games rather than referee them twice, which was great because that's why I go to Continuum. Secondly, I managed to sell most of the pile of stuff I had ready to eBay in the Bring and Buy sale. Sure, it may not have reached the prices that eBay may command, but I got a reasonable return on it all and recovered a lot of time at home which would have been spent preparing stuff for auction.

The first game kicked off at ten o'clock in the morning, and was one which I was familiar with; Graham Spearing's excellent Wordplay. The game was another playtest of the system, and was set in Robert E Howard's Conan universe. It was a direct follow on to a game I'd played at a Tomcon earlier this year, and by an accident of luck for me, and probably bad luck for Graham, I ended up with the same simple Turanian Tribesman (okay, sorceror) as I played last time. I had a real blast, especially as I got to play with the excellent Mark Galeotti, writer of much HeroQuest material that I admire such as Mythic Russia. His character was a librarian and gladiator, and I suspect our scheming may have been a little hard on everyone else. However, the system worked beautifully, and we nailed a few more of the awkward questions which you can only find by playtest.

After lunch, I ducked out of playing, as I wanted to see what would happen with the auction, which I had two items in, and also sort out my bring and buy stuff. I managed to persuade Neil Ford to run a demo game of 3:16 during the early evening. I should hang my head in shame here, as I was meant to be running it as well, but had dropped it with the extra game of Conspiracy of Shadows I ran.

The 3:16 game was an absolute blast - basically, it's a cross of Aliens and the film version of Starship Troopers. You play a squad of soldiers taking part in Terra's Xenocidal Crusade to make the universe safe for humanity. The group really got into character and although we only played for 90 minutes, we got through character generation and a complete mission. We'd have happily played more if the closing ceremony hadn't started. I got a surprise in this; all the GMs were asked to come up and pick up a game book as a thank you for running, which was unexpected and very kind.

After the closing ceremony, Graham, Duncan and I dug out my copy of Iliad, which is a superb card game of the Trojan Wars. What is fantastic about the game is that it has strategic and tactical elements which make it quite difficult to call as you jockey to achieve 12 victory points. The key one is that, although you start with 12 cards, you only replenish your hand with 3 each turn. This adds a real resource management challenge to the game. The next challenge is that there are two types of conflict in the game - Thanatos and Gorgon. Thanatos rounds are the standard games, which you don't want to loose as they cost you victory points if you come last. Gorgon rounds are brutal on resources as you have to keep playing to stay in. You can't pass and stop committing cards in the same way you can in a Thanatos round as stopping means you fold from the round. So you need to be very, very careful about whether to commit to them. Thanks to some luck on my part by winning a battle for Helen for Troy (5 victory points) and my conserving resources while Graham and Duncan went hell for leather at each other, I managed to win the game in a Gorgon round. I really enjoyed the game, and definitely want to play again with a bigger group.

After this, I went to bed. I had a relaxed morning , and then had the long drive home.

I really enjoyed Continuum, and want to be back in 2010. Highlights ranged from meeting old friends, to playing games with new friends, and just generally escaping from the usual way of things. Lowlights? Missing Nathan and Jill, the heat in my room, and the general scramble for games. However, I had a good chat with Graham on the latter (as he was Games Tzar) and we came up with some good potential solutions.

A great long weekend.

Continuum - Day 2

I really enjoyed the second day here, albeit I was pretty tired after Friday night and some of the shenanigans earlier in the week with Nathan having a couple of disturbed nights. I didn't play in the first gaming slot of the day – instead, I made sure all my stuff was in the bring and buy properly, and also helped out getting some other people's material into it as well because filling in 40+ entries had kind of made me an expert. It seems to have been worth it, as the books are moving pretty well, and I'll hopefully not be going back with anything which will save me a lot of time preparing material for eBay. It'll also make Jill happier! I've put some older material into the auction (White Dwarfs in binders, Tales of the Reaching Moon in the same state, so I'll look forward to the outcome of that with interest.

I also had a good chat with Tom, and then a mouch around the trade hall where I amazed myself with my restraint. In doing this, I noticed that the next slot had no free spaces again, so thanks to the wonders of the internet, and a scary encounter with M$ Vista in the committee room, I printed out characters to run the 'Blood Opera' game I ran last time I was at Continuum. This went down well, with the players all getting into the mock Russian/Eastern European accents and vibes, and ended nastily as usual, with everyone seeming to have enjoyed it.

In the evening, I ran the second Conspiracy of Shadows 'Blood Opera', a game that I'd worked up over the last fortnight called 'The fall of House Atreides', which was a riff on the book 'Dune'. This also went well, but very differently to how I imagined it would. It felt more like a freeform, and the tension was built from players taking each other away from the table rather than the Doom mechanic used in the game. However, it was great fun.

After a much earlier bed (proceeded by Graham and I doing compare and contrast on our MSI Wind and PowerBook G4 12" respectively), I've woken refreshed and ready for another day.

The only thing that this convention has disappointed me with is the the mobile phone access, as I can't get a decent signal here, which means I'm missing Jill and Nathan. A quick 2 minute call was the only fix I got yesterday.

Continuum 2008

I've been let out to play this weekend by Jill and Nathan and have come to Continuum 2008, set – as ever – at Leicester University. The hall we are in this year (John Foster Hall) is significantly better than any we've been in before in terms of compactness and facilities and it's already shaping up to be a good con in terms of friends and acquaintances old and new who I've caught up with. In no particular order; Martin, Dr Moose, Tom, the 3 Bears, Neil, Graham, Loz, Newt, Nickey, etc. etc.

I had a bit of arm twisting from Tom and ended up running the Traveller scenario "This Fear of Gods" which I've been working on for BITS and it went well. The ending was another TPK (Total Party Kill), but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. For some reason, most of my Traveller scenarios seem to have potentially vicious endings. Tomorrow night I'll be running my Dune scenario for Conspiracy of Shadows, "The Fall of House Atreides", which will be interesting.

Had a good chin wag with Dr Moose at the end of the game, and then headed back here to the room for bed. I really love this con, but I've got to confess I'm missing Nat and Jill already. Anyway, it's late and time for bed. Until tomorrow.