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November 2008

Happiness is the Road

Marillion LMUSU 13/11/2008 #2
Marillion at Leeds

Well, I went to see my favouritest band in the whole wide world on Thursday, and really enjoyed myself. Thanks to a scheduling snafu, and some confusion, Jill couldn't make it and my friend who I'd hoped could come couldn't either. So it was pretty strange, going out on my own for the first time in years. Even stranger going to a gig on my own for the first time ever!

However, it was great! Marillion always do a great show, and this was no exception. The core of the concert was the new double album, Happiness is the Road, which is only available from their website [if you're interested what they sound like, click the link and go there and they'll send you a free sampler CD or download], with strong elements of the awesome Marbles, and some older bits and pieces. Nothing Fish era, which may disappoint some people, but you can go and see Fish for that!

The album is starting to grow on me, more slowly than I'd have liked. However, that's more a reflection of the 110 minute length, which is much harder to assimilate than a single disc. The gig really showcased the new release, and I left with the anthem-like title-track Happiness is the Road ringing in my ears. If you want to hear the concert, it was recorded and you can get the MP3 download here.

I had a great night, only marred slightly by the fact I wasn't with friends. (How hard can it be to give away a ticket!?)

Currently feeling: Happy
Currently listening to: Woke Up (Happiness is the Road – Marillion (live at LMUSU))
Currently reading: The Second Book of Lankhmar (Fritz Leiber, still!)

Indie Mix

I recently posted on the Tavern about a bunch of Indie games I bought recently:

I've read Hero's Banner now, and it does what it says on the tin pretty well ('the fury of free will'). As a game it focuses on three motivators for your character - Blood (ties), Conscience and Hero (influences) - and then has a game mechanic where you are forced to use one of the influences to resolve conflicts.

The game engine is a percentile driven one that looks more complicated in the text than it is, thanks to the inclusion of histograms.(*) It inherently drives your character to having one of the three passions dominate. Connections can come into it too, potentially slowing the slide to the endgame. Once a passion hits 100%, you get to narrate what happens to your character until they die, as they have made their choice.

The cute thing about the game is that it then 'does a Pendragon' and the next generation of heroes have to choose a heroic influence based upon the previous generation of characters. It's a nice idea, and helps make a simple game stand-out.

(*)This is a classic case of a good explanation which threatens to put off by looking far more complicated than it is. I guess I should also mention that I found the authorial voice intrusive in this game, and far too florid for what is, in reality a set of rules mechanics with a single short chapter of background. However, as a whole it overcomes this.

I then read The Princes' Kingdom, which is basically Dogs in the Vineyard done with kids adventuring around their father's demesne, an Island Kingdom. It's a nice take, and I'd quite like to try it some time. Like DitV, it uses a bidding and fallout system based on dice, which looks quite fun in itself. You could play it with older kids, or you could play it with adults equally successfully.

Faery's Tale was next. This is a lovely game, with a d6 dice pool mechanic (evens are successes, 6 gives an extra roll) set in the classic fairy tale literature. The layout is a bit of a mess; it almost gets there but manages to look to busy and disordered. This is a real shame as the artwork is some of the best B&W work I've seen since Pendragon 1st Ed.

The whole game engine is really simple, and it focusses nicely on the narrative. It'd definitely work for younger kids and adults who'd like a whimsical and traditional feeling take on the Fairy Tale worlds.

(If I'm seeming critical on layout and tone, it's because I'm taking note at the moment as Wordplay heads towards layout!)

Love is a Red Balloon...

Love is...

Nathan says hello to his Grandad (Jill's Dad) when we visited them at their holiday flat for their 40th Wedding Anniversary at the weekend. There are more pictures on my Flickr pages.