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Mon, Feb. 10th, 2014, 01:20 am
San Francisco Session 6 - death of a bard

[note: yeah, session 6. I flaked on writing up session 5. I'll try to summarize briefly here.]

Our three living characters, Elyx the necromancer, Matthonwy the bard, and Pudgit the pock-faced fun folk (halfling) thief, traveling along with their adoring, wide-eyed kobold hanger-on, popularly known as Lil' Pudgit, need to move on from Castle Karn, and leave behind the corpse of their newfound friend, the dead druid D'wynn, mauled to death by a deer-headed flesh golem. They scour the ruins of the castle before they leave.

Pudgit in particular, alone, uncovers several jugs of a strange fun folk firewine, and peels the labels off two. On the back of the labels is some strange unreadable text, the only decipherable bits being "A Day in the Life", and a name, "Hugo Fun". Pudgit also discovers a secret tunnel leading underground, and a dagger lying just within. He declines to inform the party about any of this.

The troupe moves on eastward toward the druid grove, meeting on the road a soaking wet man from a foreign land. He is Riyadh, of Zakhara, a seaman driven to shipwreck by the predations of the navies of non-humans scouring the coastlines and trade routes on slaving expeditions. Riyadh's shipmates were taken into captivity and his ship scuttled, but he survived by clinging to flotsam, and rode it up the river to where he hopped off and met our cast of characters. He appears to be traveling with a small genie-ling of some sort.

The party arrives at the druid grove shortly thereafter. The druid is absent, obviously, having been possessed by the animating spirit Moksha Jehannum, and the position of forest oracle appears vacant. Too bad the party druid just died. As they ascend into the tree circle, the party encounters another druid, apparently also on a quest to replace the Forest Oracle, and undo the violence being done against nature in this region.

majestic as heckCollapse )

Mon, Dec. 16th, 2013, 01:06 am
San Francisco Session 4 - death of a druid

We join our characters, after last week's bloody shenanigans -- the forest (and beyond?) of the druidic Forest Oracle still beset by unseasonal winter and besieged by mad, foreign animals -- mid-repose as they are taking a load off inside the TARDIS-tree of the nymph. The interior is not designed for the habitation of mortals and is utterly spartan, yet strangely comfortable. Everyone lies down on a bed of leaves. Matthonwy the bard tries to explore a little bit, but the nymph is having none of that shit, and after encountering some trippy transformations of three-dimensional space, Matthonwy decides to leave well enough alone, though still demands refreshment, and finds himself unpleasantly assaulted via nose and mouth by a root system that force feeds him moisture, sap, and nutrients, which is horrifying in its own way, but refreshing nonetheless.

how the rest of this fiasco goes downCollapse )

Wed, Dec. 4th, 2013, 12:23 am
The story so far, part 2: We're back

(This is a follow-up to a previous post.)

James Mccaffery: you're in the game now
edbury enegren: actually
edbury enegren: hold on i will send you screenshots
edbury enegren: because i am getting more "let's meet right now" texts
James Mccaffery: bang
James Mccaffery: you mean bang
edbury enegren: no i mean like
edbury enegren: a stranger
edbury enegren: trying to organize a meeting
James Mccaffery: what
edbury enegren: in thirty minutes
James Mccaffery: oh god
James Mccaffery: oh god
edbury enegren: it's a different number this time
James Mccaffery: this is it
James Mccaffery: we're back

we're backCollapse )

Mon, Nov. 18th, 2013, 01:10 am
San Francisco Session 3

We find our adventurers separated beneath the Dragonteeth Mountains. Elyx the necromancer (Kellie), Matthonwy the bard (Ryan), and Dwyn the druid (Edbury), are trapped on a huge stone pillar across a chasm from the cave floor they'd left. Pudgit (Chris) had been brought into the inner sanctum of the Dragonteeth kobolds, and met their queen, who was wearing the miserable dress Pudgit had sewn.

While among the kobolds, Pudgit encounters a wayward dwarf fighter named Corrin (Jon Downing, guest starring while he's in town). Corrin has been a "guest" of the kobolds for some time, while they've stolen his clothes and modeled garments after his own. He's half naked (though well armored), and missing half his beard, pieces of which some kobolds can be seen wearing like strange face merkins. Corrin is also covered in what look like small animal scratches. Corrin appears to be free to go, and is eager to leave; Pudgit gathers kobold cosplay Thisvyn to him, and finds himself stripped of his clothing, which is given to the kobold. There is a public ritual of some sort, and the kobolds unearth and then reshape some sort of mud and stone totem wearing shaped mud clothing, and then bury it again. There seem to be many such buried totems. Corrin and Pudgit and cosplay Pudgit and cosplay Elyx wend their way back through the tunnels to their companions, who are still trying to figure out how to get back across the chasm.

it only gets worse from hereCollapse )

Sun, Nov. 3rd, 2013, 11:50 pm
Session 2

We find our protagonists holing up in an abandoned tavern: amiable but slow halfling cutpurse Pudgit (Christopher), wild card itinerant half-elf performer Matthonwy (Ryan), go with the flow human druid Dwyn (Edubury), and death worshipping one-handed human wizard Elyx (Kellie). These latter two have been blinded by looking upon the true form of the nymph Chloe, and Elyx has been cursed for death into the bargain.

The four separate into different rooms and settle down for the evening. Matthonwy, keen to explore the mystical arts, sleight-of-hands the blind wizard's spell book away from her, and spends half the night studying and transcribing it. Elyx locks and barricades herself into her room, the only character to take such precaution. Dwyn declines to camp out in the rooms, and sets his bedroll downstairs in the tavern's common area, which is overlooked by the balcony where the rooms are. Pudgit tears up bedsheets, blankets, and curtains, and tries to sew - having a background as a seamster - a new dress for Elyx to replace the natty, dirty, torn, and blood-soaked wedding dress she wore escaping the zombie attack several days earlier. Pudgit is actually a pretty decent hand with a needle and thread, but as the night wears on it becomes clear he's made a total hash of it and the dress isn't so much a dress but an unwearable interlocking of fabrics and stitching. He has, by the way, started to think of this abandoned tavern as his own property - it had been abandoned by a halfling named Bolo Softsole, and they'd had a felt kinship between them.

Robbery!Collapse )

Mon, Oct. 28th, 2013, 02:34 am

Well, I guess without mordicai at my table I'm going to have to take over doing these myself.

Today was my San Francisco group's first full game day. I'd done two two-fers previous to this, as each pair got into the story differently, but now we are all on board together.

Something is moving in the world. A pervasive unease and anxiety lay across the land. It is just barely Autumn and snow is falling and the cold is bitter and dangerous. There are stories of armies - horrible things, inhuman things - waging campaigns of extermination in faraway lands, growing ever closer. Closer, from the north, armies of monsters and evil men have ridden out from some ... keep or temple ... under four banners: the red, the white, the blue, and the brown. Humanoid lords and lieges ride against them, setting up a kind of firebreak by evacuating and burning the farms and homesteads on the frontier, so the encroaching forces will find no towns and cities to loot, no treasure to take, no food to pillage. Armies march on their stomach.

I'll have to try to briefer in the futureCollapse )

Fri, Oct. 18th, 2013, 12:13 pm
The story so far

I could talk about my life - but whatever, livejournal, there are more perplexing things going on right now.

Last night around midnight Edbury and I were gchatting about an interview I have coming up. Even though we're roommates we probably talk more often over gchat than in person - but also I'm not home. I'm house- and dog-sitting for a friend in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco.

I've gone through my texts and gchats with Edbury and put the events together in the following narrative:

It's midnight and I'm talking to Edbury about, I don't know, TV or the internet or something. While we're chatting, Edbury receives a weird text. It was from 972 676 9168, but according to the metadata appended to the SMS that's a proxy for 931 338 XXXX. The message reads:

half hour, union square

Now, we live just a few blocks from Union Square. Eddie and I were intrigued of course. Mysteries! I was kinda nervous about him being all alone, and thought he shouldn't bring his wallet or phone, and wished I was there to safety-wingman him for ... whatever it was. But: Sausalito. Mostly I was thinking it was some weird OKCupid person. While I don't think he's all Eyes Wide Shut in his personal life, he has had what I would consider to be very mildly unusual assignations through OKC, so maybe it was just a weird hookup thing. Weird, but just you know, lower case w.

We debate whether he should go at all, and he decides he will. And at the required time, Edbury leaves the house and starts walking over there. He responds to the text with

I'm ready.

and receives the response


Weird. Five minutes later Edbury messages me

There are like. Cops everywhere in the park and a guy on the corner clearly waiting with a briefcase.

The cop part isn't too weird. The Nike Women's Marathon is on Sunday, and the park is mostly taken up with the marathon's pavilion and registration tent, and is well covered by the fuzz for civic safety purposes, presumably.

But that guy. Just standing there. Briefcase. Edbury's description:

brown blazer and slacks
chin length hair, but clean cut

Edbury starts kind of circling around him, walking past and trying to surreptitiously take a picture. He definitely doesn't know the guy and definitely has never seen him before.

But also like, that could just be a guy who's standing near the park. At 12.30 at night. In empty San Francisco. Coincidence, right? Then the guy takes out his phone and dials a number and EDBURY'S PHONE RINGS.

The guy is calling me. It's def him.

Edbury is standing too close to him to answer the phone without the guy realizing Edbury is standing kind of near him (though Edbury has walked within a few feet of him several times at this point, and there's no one on the street). Edbury doesn't answer.

Also: the phone call? FROM A DIFFERENT NUMBER THAN THE TEXTS. The caller ID on the phone call reads 415 399 1613.

Yeah no idea who this guy is.
Okay what if I text him "just leave the case." ?
I'm kind of just waiting and watching from behind.

Edbury and I spend a few minutes gchatting and trying to figure out what to do next. Edbury is finally like, fuck it, and texts him

Just leave the case

The guy checks his phone, sees the text, looks at it for a second, then starts SPRINTING.

What do I do he's running down post and I'm like semi chasing


Nm I stopped wtf I can't chase some stranger

And that was the end of the night. Edbury watches the dude recede into the distance. It was like 1.30am at that point. Edbury went home and I got set up in the guest room here and we both went to bed. Sorta. Both of us sat up all night thinking about that shit.

This weirdness was the first thing on my mind when I woke up today. I was still inside this weird dream. And I immediately messaged Edbury and started trying to research the numbers on the internet. There are a bunch of boards where people talk about the robonumbers they get calls from. Mostly it's just like "Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, left message in Spanish", but for the first number Edbury got the text from - 972 676 9168 - there are these two notes on, left on Mar 3, 2011:

I keep getting a text from this number with a +17864437089. The text goes on about us being friends and I need to let him know what's up. He adds little smiley faces and says his name is Guille...


Just got a text from this number followed by the word "Diamond"

The other, second number is registered to a Jeffrey Cox, age 59, 895 Chamberlain Ct Mill Valley, CA 94941.

A bunch of us who are fascinated by this started calling. The first number, 972 676 9168, just yields the message "Could not complete your call, please try again".

Will called the second one, 931 338 XXXX, the "Jeffrey Cox" number.

well I got through to the second number
and I said
and a male answered
sounded mid 20s/30s
and he was like
what? hello?
and then was like
you have the wrong number
and hung up

I called the 931 338 XXXX number myself an hour later and talked to the guy for a (very) little while. He seemed slightly older to me definitely more 50s/60s than 20s/30s. But he spoke with a distinct Hindi accent. Will thought it was Spanish-sounding, but I think he's wrong. The guy admitted he lived in California but refused to answer any of my other questions, and legitimately didn't seem to know wtf I was talking about. He said he didn't know anything about Union Square. A little while later he called me back wanting to know who I was. I didn't tell him anything.

James/Jim called the third number, 415 399 1613, the one Edbury supposedly received the phone call from. It's weird computer noise and James hangs up, frightened. I call it and record the sound:

Now I'm trying to find a program that can turn audio data streams into something more useful. Though Jim is probably right that it's just some handshake protocol, not actual data.

I try calling the 786 443 7089 number from the "Guille" comment, in case that's not a red herring or coincidence. Not in service.

Then: Edbury deduces the Indian guy is "uninvolved."

she* is like 90% sure the second number is spoofed
his number is just text content sent from google voice
but whoever owns that number could just set that

*[Edbury's computer-engineer co-worker, who is also investigating]

Edbury's Jim's theories:

some weird misguided silk road FBI thing
a viral marketing scam
and actual awkward and maybe shady wrong number

My theory in the comments. Right now I've been at this for like twelve hours straight and no matter how fascinated I am, I haven't had anything to eat or drink, and I need to put this computer down and go to the bathroom. And maybe try to get some work done today. But damn. It'll be hard to pull my brain out of this.

UPDATE 1.56pm PST The "Jeffrey Cox" number, 931 338 XXXX, at the end of which I spoke to a Hindi-sounding man, texts me asking what is going on, and saying "My phone was not with me". I reply asking if he is saying his phone has been out of his possession in the last 24 hours. Awaiting reply.

UPDATE 3.36pm PST Jeffrey Cox number redacted because it is in fact the number of a real person.

UPDATE 3.42pm PST Jeffrey Cox number texts me to say his phone was out of his possession yesterday at "orientation", and his friends - who wanted to play with his 41 megapixel camera - sent out texts as a joke, asking random numbers to meet them at Union Square. This would have been early in the day though, not at midnight. He apologizes profusely. But if that is true ... who was Briefcase Guy? Jeffrey Cox number doesn't seem to be able to check his phone to ascertain whether those texts were or were not sent from his phone. I wonder if he isn't just assembling fiction from the fact that I asked him about Union Square when we spoke earlier, and questioned him about whether texts had been sent from his phone. He says "if you say it was from my number its impossible to say or prove that it was not me".

Thu, Jul. 11th, 2013, 03:11 pm
Root root root for the home team

Went to my first baseball game in SF yesterday. I super don't care about baseball, or sports, but I do like going to ball games. The Giants got annihilated by the Mets (so, in that sense, hurray New York, I guess? And fuck you to the people behind me making toilet puns based on Shea Stadium being in Flushing) - the Mets were up 3-0 before Edbury and I even found our seats. People here - mostly kids - wear panda hats in the stands. I guess there's a player whose name rhymes with "panda" or something? But it just makes it look like the stadium is full of little Finns from Adventure Time.

It made me strangely angry to hear people singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", like, viscerally angry. Growing up in New York, I think at some point in my development I associated a lot of cultural things that are generally baseball culture with being instead specifically New York baseball culture, and felt like everyone in the stadium was ripping off New York's shit. Get your own song! What? You guys play short ditties on an organ too? WTF.

I put on sunblock, but not enough, and I'm pretty burned. Which also means I'm pretty tired, in the way that our star leeches the life out of you. I slept for 10 hours last night.

Thinking about Giants just makes me want to play D&D. And my epicly awesome Saturday players - Rasheem, Lilly, mordicai, Alicia, Ken, Emma, Emily. As we were putting The Temple of Elemental Evil to bed, I was thinking what our next step would be. I'd set up both Spelljammer and Kara-Tur as narratively appropriate branches, but a big part of me wanted to continue on with the classic adventure progression and seque right into Against the Giants.

Today, I'm switching up my usual pattern and doing my writing and studying first, then clocking in for work in the evening. I'd been feeling like I was giving away the best part of my intellectual energy to some pretty monotonous and robotic data entry, so I'm going to eat dessert first, and do all my interesting exciting stuff, and then spend my night until bedtime just typing ISBNs in over and over again. Let's see how that goes.

I miss people. Yes, you.

Mon, Jun. 24th, 2013, 06:02 pm
Did Your Mother Come From Ireland

Movies I've watched: No Blade of Grass (boring, lame and exploitative - one rape gang is one rape gang too many; doesn't have any of what made Wilde's Naked Prey special), Let the Right One In (liked quite a bit - really good movie about kids), Colin (tiresome high-end student film about zombies), Christine (not the worst, but not John Carpenter's best either; strangely impersonal), Death Proof (110 minutes of modest charm for a 10 minute payoff), Planet Terror (literally unwatchable), and, kicking off my Libby-inspired Maysles brothers and Errol Morris jag: Salesman, about a group of door to door Bible salesmen in the 1960s. It was pretty great.

Oh, I went to the documentary club of Edbury's friends and co-workers yesterday. I watched Bill W., a very marginal, History-Channel-ish doc about the founder of AA. I had a really good time, though felt a pall because the hosts had just lost their husky in horrific circumstances. The quiet bag of dog food on the floor was the elephant in the room. To me at least. I considered reaching out today with a "hey, as someone who also lost ... " e-mail, but I thought the better of it.

I might start watching a lot of documentaries.

I've been having a hard time falling asleep. Maybe because I keep watching all these movies. I also started watching Fringe.

In advance of Google Reader's disappearance next week I spent a bunch of time this weekend pruning and curating my feeds. I've decided to stick with Old Reader (yo, sign up and friend me! be smart and curate for me!), despite its lack of some of the shinier features of its competitors, and I'm also maintaining my Feedly, just in case. But yeah, Old Reader ftw.

It made me sad to realize how many hundreds of my feeds - almost exclusively music blogs - have gone dark in the last year or two. I feel like the vibrant explosion of music that I got from these places leaves a serious void in my life. It's because of legal pressure, of course, and the last post on many of them say as such, even though a lot of that stuff qualified pretty easily as orphaned works. How do people do it now? I'm really curious. Plz don't say something like Spotify or torrent. Those are both great if you you want to hear like, that one band, but just don't cut the mustard when it comes to discovery. Can Spotify help you find those out of print 78s you've never heard? Or all the obscure, long, long out of print releases from that obscure German label forty years ago? Maybe one day, but definitely not today. I mean, I think the problem is that this specific use case would probably take a ton of resources to implement and would make a difference to really ... very few users I think. I dunno. The good news is that I already possess SO MUCH MUSIC that I could live off it happily a good long while. I'm still encountering amazing discoveries among the stuff I already own.

I'm gonna game tonight with Giulia and Alex in Edbury's Indigo game. Burning Wheel. I'm looking forward to it.

Sat, Jun. 15th, 2013, 04:53 pm
Art Girls Are Easy #11booksclub

This was the book club book for today's session, which must surely be just now winding down. First book club meet I'm missing. Sad face. I feel like I can imagine the conversation on this one pretty easily though. A clear consensus of opinion usually yields short, concise discussion, followed by drinking, goofing, and gossiping. Most everyone seemed to hate it, or at least regard it with a deep and sincere lack of enthusiasm, putting it down in one-star territory. I feel like mordicai's review encapsulates our other members' reviews on Goodreads pretty well, as well as my own feelings about it, though I am interested to hear both how Jennifer came to pick this one and also what motivated her three-star rating.

It's a pretty thin broth of unlikable character and unsurprising occurrences. Indigo is a jerk but, more egregiously, you get the feeling that so is the author. littlewashu's point about how comfortable the author is treating with casual cruelty the girl with the eating disorder ... yeah, it speaks to the book's central problem that it appears at first to be a satire of wealth and unearned privilege when it's actually kind of weirdly, uncritically, unapologetically celebrating those things? A lot of the stylistic choices read like weak Bret Easton Ellis-isms; there is so much marketing and brand specificity in the prose that you feel like she must be lampooning consumerism from some kind of angle, even if you couldn't yet suss out which. Early on I was willing to give it a pass to see where it was going, but it was an affectation that bore no interesting fruit.

I wonder what the reactions are among the ostensible target audience for this book - people who are of the sex opposite from mine, and twenty or more years younger. I didn't hate this book, but I definitely didn't like it - but also in a way that - like most manga - makes me wonder if I'm just missing an important apparatus to really get it.

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