Back on May 17th, I started my original batch of mead based on the grocery store items recipe. A week later, I ventured further with another variant using blackberries. After 3 weeks, the fermentation of the original batch has definitely slowed. I plan on racking it into a secondary fermenter either this weekend or early next week. It still looks rather hazy but I expected nothing less.
The blackberry batch continues to ferment at a reasonable clip. The “airlock” balloon continues to work well. I was dubious of the effectiveness of the balloon system. Much to my surprise, it works wonderfully.
The rodajas de naranja do not appear anything like oranges other than the peels in the blackberry mead. The meat of the fruit is an off-white color and puffed as you would expect from something floating in liquid for 3 weeks. The raisins have retained the original color. Within a few days, they rehydrated and now seem more like puffy, dark grapes.
I need another gallon jug to rack both gallons. After that, all I require is more patience until bottling in the fall.
Infestations of giant rats are a common encounter for low level adventurers. Rats thrive any place food is available including alleys, sewers. dungeons and crypts. Rats are vile but the larger, more aggressive cousin, the osquip are ferocious.
Osquips are multi-legged rodents. Most osquips have six legs although rare specimens have been seen with eight and ten legs. The teeth and head of the osquip are oversized enabling them to dig burrows faster than their rat cousins. Osquips possess hairless hides ranging from light yellow to a yellowish brown. The hides are supple when tanned and provide excellent water resistance.
Generally, osquips are encountered in subterranean settings but will establish burrows anywhere adequate prey is available. The creatures are carnivores and active only in darkness. Osquips are very territorial. Any creature entering the territory will be attacked by the rodents. Emerging from well concealed tunnels, osquip will surprise 50% of the time. The creatures are unafraid of fire but loathe deep water. If forced to swim, half will drown and the other half will be reduced to very slow paddling (1″).
A large, bramble covered hummock sits along the eastern edge of the road. Obvious game trails wind around the mound toward the bank of the nearby river. Fresh earth is scattered across the northern face of the slope and a three foot entrance to a burrow is roughly hidden by the shrubs and long grass.
The osquip have taken over the burrow of a giant weasel along a river bank. Situated along a game trail, the creatures have thrived off easy prey of wildlife and occasional small parties of travellers A smaller, rear tunnel leads under the roadway into the brush roughly 150 away. Due to the bountiful prey, the osquip have not expanded the tunnel system significantly. The tunnels are roughly 3 foot in diameter. Demi-humans can enter and move reasonably well. Human sized creatures will be cramped and hard pressed to attack or defend.
If any party member discovers and moves within 10′ of the main entrance, the osquips will begin an attack. Due to the limited number of exits from the burrow and the small entrance, only a single osquip will engage initially. The first attacker will try to force the intruder back from the entrance allowing the remaining pack members to swarm out.
Number Appearing: 2-24
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3+1
# Attacks: 1
Size: 2′, at shoulder
XP Value: 120
Treasure Type: D (in lair)
Stats are based on the AD&D 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual. Tweak and tun as you see fit.
I enjoy putting oddball creatures in feasible, albeit unlikely locations. This osquip encounter is an eccentric variant of a subterranean monster set in a wilderness location. Why are they in the wilderness? Maybe the few members are from a nearby cavern taking advantage of the natural resources. More simply, they may well be predators utilizing abundant natural resources.
Four weeks ago, my Old Guys Gaming group held our semi-annual gaming get together at the University of Denver’s Mt. Evans Field Station. The field station is an alpine research facility located at the base of Mt. Evans near Idaho Springs, Colorado. Situated at an elevation of 3260 meters (10.6K ft), the station is not a traditional gaming locale.
For a semi-annual gathering, the location is ideal. The dormitory building can house twenty or more people. Our group is much smaller allowing everyone a bit of space and privacy during the extended weekends. Unlike a hotel, you need not worry about annoying people next door. The closest neighbor you could encounter is someone else staying in the house about 50 yards away. Gaming into the wee hours will not disturb anyone.
The visit in May was our third outing to the field station. In addition to the other amenities, the field station is very inexpensive. The rate, as of this writing, is $150 minimum or $25/person/night. Far less than the cost of a hotel.
The cost and amenities have made the field station our de facto locale since our original stay in April 2010. The low cost was discussed several times. Every attendee has agreed the cost is below the value. I wanted to make an extra contribution for this visit to help with the ever increasing costs. I was not alone.
At the end of the stay, Randall, Wheels, and I settled up for the final stay. We left a little extra to support the location beyond the minimum. Our host was just as happy as we were. His thankful response included,
Whow! [sic] Your generosity on behalf of the station is greatly appreciated. You have a season pass at the station!
We might make it back this year, we may not. Still, adding a little extra to the pot so the field station will be there next time is well worth the expense. Thanks fellas for making it possible.
A little generosity goes a long ways.
I’ve been slow to jump on the modern smart phone wagon. As of last week, I’m the owner of a new Android phone. After the new wore off, I finally got around to updating my WordPress installation with a plugin to automatically detect and change the layout for mobile users. It works nicely. The appearance is clean and simple; exactly what I desired.
Thanks to the folks at BraveNewCode for the WPtouch and WPtouch-Pro plugins for WordPress. The non-pro version is free and works nicely. The pro variant has a dazzling array of options. I’m unlikely to ever use or need the majority of them. Programmers need a few bucks to buy beer and banana’s so I opted for the pro version.
The pro variant supports WP3.0 menus. Menu support is not crucial at the moment. If I get around to updating the rest of the site with mobile layouts, having the menu support will be very useful. I intend to investigate the Web-App framework to see if it would be a viable mobile layout for my generators.
Even if you haven’t plunged into the mobile world, I’d recommend considering a plugin to support the visitors to your blog who have. Adding aesthetically pleasing support is easier than ever.
I’ve spent a lot of hours as a game master. I’ve run numerous systems ranging from classic fantasy games to post apocalyptic settings. Pure hours of running or the range of systems doesn’t make me a stellar GM. I do many things well but the list of things I do poorly is just as long.
Analysing yourself is about as enjoyable as a root canal. If you want to improve at anything, critically identifying weaknesses and strengths is useful.
- Big Picture: I am not a grand vision game master. I do not plot or plan story arcs spanning more than a couple of sessions. If players want to have world encompassing impact, I’m not the guy they want running the game. Thankfully, I don’t write fiction otherwise I’d be perpetually assaulted with 1 star ratings.
- Preparation: Traditionally, I’ve been a very open sandbox style GM. When I do prepare materials, I expend a minimal amount of effort. The likelihood of the material never being played is always lurking in the back of my mind. Making a best effort would improve play. I need to improve on prep work and find ways of making the material interesting to the players.
- Auto Sandbox: Being overly open isn’t always the solution. This ties into the big picture and preparation topics. If I commit myself to a solid, introduction to the games, player adoption will come quickly. Leaving people adrift with little guidance is just as bad as forcing them down the rails of a pre-planned adventure.
- NPCs: The majority of my non-player characters are little more than rough sketches. I realize interesting NPC’s can be a major role play driver but somehow I rarely take the time to make them engaging either as allies, acquaintances or enemies. Fleshing out the personalities and involvement with the player characters adds significant potential for roleplay.
- Defacto Game Master: Both a weakness and a strength, I have often volunteered to run games when no one else was willing. Running blind (no-prep, no-story, auto-sandbox), does not translate into an enjoyable session. It can on occasion but many of the games flounder. This is less of a weakness today as it was in years past since my group has found many other non-rpg games to fill the dead space.
- Flexibility: I’ll give any game a whirl. I have a bent for wanting to try out new stuff. I never planned on running Boot Hill or Cyberpunk. Somehow I ended up doing so. Nothing wrong with that other than what I’ve already mentioned in the Defacto section. Sometimes it works. Alternatively, the group learns they really don’t want to play the system.
- Player Engagement: I pick up on player engagement fairly quickly. If a session is foundering, I’ll kabosh it rather than continuing to brutalize players with boredom. Sometimes the decision is merciless. Tact could be improved on occasion. If a game is failure, I believe it better to terminate quickly and move on. For games going well, the players who are engaged in the game get the majority of my attention. I’ll try to engage the straggler for a while in a game session.
- Character Engagement: When players spend the time to generate characters with history and goals, I incorporate them into my games. Especially when players actively point out the nuances of the character prior to game play. Adapting to the character quirks adds a lot of depth for both the player and I. Too many game systems fail to encourage history and quirks. When a character is generated above and beyond the basic system, paying attention to what they envision opens doors. Role play doesn’t come from skeleton characters based off a draw of the card.
- Criticism: When I suck, my players are welcome to tell me I do. Everyone fails. I listen and try to incorporate the feedback if it is relevant. I’ve screwed up badly as a game master on several occasions. When it happens, I laugh at myself along with everyone else. Being perfect is impossible and laughing at myself is good therapy.
I have no illusions. At times, I’m a pretty good GM. On other occasions, I fail miserably. Every game and session is different. I aim to improve on where I lack and be humble when corrected. As long as everyone is having fun, life is good.
There are probably a hundred different variations for generating results from a Deck of Many Things. Somewhere around Littleton, I took a left turn onto Random Avenue and decided #101 would be okay. My variant is based on the 1st Edition DMG and utilizes a public domain tarot deck from 1910. Past, meet past. Pasts greet PHP. Welcome to the modern age.
I had far too many distractions tonight before I could make it pretty. Functional beats form. I’ll clean up the layout later.
I love Google. I really do. I really hate some of the assumptions they make… Take commenting on a Blogger blog with a Google ID:
Then you get crap like this:
Like many, I don’t need 417 different identities I need to track. I certainly don’t need another blog when all I want to do is comment on yours. So I wanted to comment but failed. Such is life. I don’t need another identity, yet another blog.