Archive | March 2012

I’m A Bug. You’re One Too.

So back on Sunday there was another Vaults of Ur session. Five players went into the ruins and five returned. The party encountered some bug-people and an ancient war golem. Dennis over at What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse (his character’s Thidrek the Sleestak) wrote up the expedition. After the game I realized I missed an opportunity to engage in mayhem near the end — but it was getting late and after a few hours of babblebabblebabblerollaD6 my brain’s pretty fried.

Next time…

I Can Tell When My Students Have Seen Star Wars

I can tell when my students have seen Star Wars because they’ll walk up to me and say, “I’m your father!” which inevitably escalates to, “No, I’m your grandfather.”

“No, I’m your grand-grand-grand-grand father.”

“No, I’m — I’m your ghost!”

At which point I look them in the eye and say, “No, I’m you.”

And their minds explode.

Knowledge Presupposes Ignorance, or Ouch!

“A reason knowledge/learning in general is so unpopular with so many people is because very early we all learn there is a phenomenologically unpleasant side to it: to learn anything entails the fact that there is no way to escape learning that you were formerly ignorant, to learn that you were a fool, that you have already lost irretrievable opportunities, that you have made wrong choices, that you were silly and limited. These lessons are not pleasant. The acquisition of knowledge–especially when we are young–again and again includes this experience.

“Thus most people soon actively desire to stay clear of the whole process, because by the time we are seven or eight we know exactly what the repercussions and reactions will be. One moves toward knowledge through a gauntlet of inescapable insults–the most painful of them often self-tendered.”

– Samuel R. Delany, About Writing

A Domestic Interlude

Husband: “I’m going to make pesto and apple crumble this weekend.”

Wife: “Are you okay?”

Husband: “What? Why?

Wife: “Just asking.”

Husband: “… If I decide to sweep the floor are you going to call an ambulance?”

Wife: “Maybe.”

4 Books and a Stuffed Gorilla

1. The Greek Myths Vol. 1 by Robert Graves
From a scholarship standpoint I hear this is a bit ofan unsightly conglomeration of fornicating individuals notable for its awkwardness (a clusterfuck), but damn this book has life in it. Graves is shoe-horning all the myths into his grand unified theory of mythology as laid out in The White Goddess, but he believes it and allows the mythology to inform his own work, so in a way they are accurate in the sense of mythology being a living thing that people can still embrace as meaningful in their lives, and not something dead and confined to the dust. Great stuff in here.

2. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
A bit of a masterpiece for its style and oblique plotting alone, even if its characters and situations often irritated me. In a way it reminded me of Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust. Similar jazz-age setting and critique ending in chaos, though Waugh is a more adept stylist using vignettes of varying “thickness” to develop his story. The reader at the end is left feeling the emotions Waugh’s characters are incapable of.

3. The Edogawa Rampo Reader by Edogawa Rampo
A decent collection though not as good as Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. The highlight story was “The Air Raid Shelter” about a pyromaniac during the firebombing of Tokyo. It delivered the oddly captivating creepy. But the essays at the back are great.

4. Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
Aesthetic YA science fiction, is that a thing? If so that’s what this is. If not, well, that’s what it is still. It’s set in the future on another planet, but that’s more window dressing on the narrative than a thing you get details about, and science fiction in the way JG Ballard is science fiction. Teenager Pella Marsh and her family leave a dystopian future Brooklyn for a frontier life on the Planet of Archbuilders. John Ford’s The Searchers ensues except mashed somewhat with the spirit of Philip K. Dick’s Martian Time Slip.

The Vaults of Ur, Session 2: The Mad House of the Mad Alchemist… of Madness!

Second session of Ur went like this. . . shit, how’d it go?

OK OK OK, it went like this.

Kris the fighter, one of the survivors of the first session, gathered together a stalwart band (Holy shit seven players! I’ve never run a game with this many people before. OK, shit, why not, let’s see what happens) and set off for the three-story building he discovered in the ruins last time. Along with him went:

  1. Kullpetal the Orc
  2. Thidrek the Beastman (though more a Sleestak)
  3. Nooquist the Sorcerer
  4. Goron the Stoop, a Beastman architect
  5. Father Karl
  6. And… Geh the Goblin-in-a-sack (as drawn by Jez Gordon)

Things that happened:

  • Once again the flowers flew, only this time the party had sharp pointy seedpods shot at them.
  • Seedpod riddled corpses are a good sign to be on your toes.
  • Funky smelling rooms are best handled with oil, torch, and a prayer you don’t burn out the rafters and have the ceiling collapse on you. (Funky sounding rooms have yet to be encountered…)
  • Slamming doors on the heads of giant insects will invoke a Ringo Starr reference from the DM.

Ringo Starr reference for the uninitiated:

  • The door opens onto a corridor/10×10 room that looks like blah blah blah. You search and find nothing.
  • The door opens onto a wasps’ nest. You set it on fire.
  • These dead guys appear to have armor made from giant beetle carapaces. Loot!
  • AHHH! It’s a shoggothy slime creature wearing a mask. Run away! or, Fight and die! or Fight/run away, survive, and loot the dead!

And that’s what happened. Kris and Nooquist got subsumed into slime. Everyone else survived.

Next game in two weeks. Maybe. I might have to reschedule.


I can’t imagine writing a report for every session in the future, but it’s fun for now.

Ur the Great, Known By Many Names

Your world lies in ruins.

Ur, City of the Golden Pyramid, once the jewel of the world, now a ruin. Ur the Great, known by many names: Urceb, Uulro, Baalbel-Ur…

Ur, the first city, and the last.

Some say the ways of the populace grew so abhorrent as to offend the very gods. Others say it was destroyed by a plague that came from the stars. Eight hundred years ago Ur disappeared. Soon after, the world was wracked by the Cataclysm. For centuries life was a desperate struggle, and only in recent decades has some semblance of civilization returned.

Then three years ago Ur reappeared, a devastated city, altered by its passage between worlds.

The Tenfold Empire has established an outpost, Fort Low, on the edge of Ur. It incorporates one of the original cyclopean gatehouses. Imperial control ends just beyond the walls at the Broken Obelisk. Adventurers flock to the ruins eager to explore and find what secrets lie hidden beneath the rubble.

You are one of them.


Some color for the B/X game I’m running via G+. No RPG experience necessary. Next session will be this Saturday at 8PM Seoul time.

The Phantom Lord Speaks

“For me the daylight world is but an illusion; the dreams of a night are real. That is where my true life lies.” – Edogawa Rampo

These Days

Jin and I got smartphones. There’s the first picture.

Look! It’s Pohang!

This is the end point of the harbor where it becomes a stagnant canal. If you walk straight across the water (what? You can’t?) you’ll pass the fishing fleet on your left, and the ship repair dry docks on your right, then you’ll come upon a few scrap heaps, and the ferry boat landing before passing the lighthouse and going out into the Sea of Japan East Sea.

Lovely, no? The plan’s to extend this canal down to the river. So they’re bulldozing the entire neighborhood behind me, which coincidentally is where I teach.

Speaking of teaching, the semester starts again tomorrow. This year I’ll be teaching 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. It should be… interesting. Of course, I’m not teaching any of the students I taught last year, which, you know, would have made sense. But because of the internal rift between the English teachers at my school I get to start with all new students. Don’t ask. Or do, but don’t suspect an answer other than a shrug and a “I don’t make the schedule.” I don’t quite get it myself. Basically the two English teachers at my school don’t get along, and it’s tiresome.

Still, new students, and they want be all jaded like my 6th graders were. No more listening to poorly executed swears like “Pak you! Shut up your mouse!”

Shut up your mouse. Adorable.