What about Dads? Can we have it all too?

Saturday’s newspaper had a magazine section with a big article heavily featuring our little fambly – Cal, Willa and myself. It’s up online here. It is actually quite a good piece, I reckon.

One message in there is how much we are relying on family for support, and on employers being flexible. We are blessed with much support in all those ways, plus plus a babby who is happy and not much trouble as babbies go. We are lucky people.

I am feeling the lucky today. Today (and the whole week actually but especially today) has been manic to the extreme. But I am getting by and well-fed (good healthy home-made tucker) and wee Willa has been adored by many people today and has lots of cuddles and food and poor hardworking Cal was super supportive tonight as I raced to get a piece of work done…

This blog is gonna stay low-frequency low-thinking posts for a while I guess. Capacity is low right now. But I want to record this here so I can’t argue with myself later: for all the challenges fitting everything in? I’m having an amazing time.

Anyway, enough ramble. Go read the article. You know you want to.

Bigfoot Sighting

The Alligator has posted a few photos from one of our expeditions, as part of my birthday celebrations. They include photographic proof of the existence of the rare NZ sasquatch:

This photograph was fulfilment of a long quest; we had earlier been sasquatch hunting in the Catlins, without any success.

(We’ve shown this photograph to several experts but they all maintain it’s actually a man in a suit, or perhaps a moose. I suppose the truth will have to stay out there.)

Nice one, Wanisan!

ICONS: The Mastermind Affair

Warning: this post is about tabletop roleplaying games. Sorry if it makes no sense to you.

Mastermind Affair cover

Just released: The Mastermind Affair, PDF-format adventure for the ICONS RPG. (Written by me.)

It’s a hefty 45-page adventure suitable for most traditional-type Supers RPG settings – I guess it’s a bit more DC than Marvel in its shadings. It has a whole mess of villains, all with that great Dan Houser art – you can see some of them in the preview pages. It has a descriptive character aspect of which I’m inordinately proud, but I can’t tell anyone what it is because it’s a minor spoiler. It’s a neat adventure and if you like Supers stuff, you’ll get a kick out of this.

Best of all: it is only a buck ninety-nine, American. The publisher, Adamant Entertainment, has adopted an “app-pricing” model where everything costs just under US$2. This means you can get ICONS itself, the amazing full RPG game, for $1.99 as well. (Also my older stuff for the same price.) It’s a fascinating and exciting business move, and I think it’s the way all digital products will inevitably go – music downloads, e-books, online newspaper subscriptions, etc will all be getting massively cheaper as it sinks in that the value proposition is different to that of a physical product.

So, $1.99 for a fun adventure. That’s about $2.60 in NZ pesos. If you are of gaming ilk, do consider it.

(Sadly, although the playtesters are credited, their amazing characters are not included. You’ll need to ask them for descriptions.)

Xmas Gift Idea: JAAM 28

The latest issue of JAAM has been out for a few weeks. JAAM is a literary journal containing poetry and prose and varying amounts of non-fiction essays, photos, illustration, interviews… This time it also contains something by me. So naturally, a blog post telling you to buy it. That’s how these things work.

JAAM has been published out of Wellington since ’95, when it launched at the same time as a Victoria University Writing Club – the product of Mark Pirie’s enthusiasm and drive. The club lasted a few years before dissolving into a loose network of friends, but JAAM has published regularly since ’95. Currently an annual publication, edited by Helen Rickerby and Clare Needham (who were both in that original Class of ’95), this issue has the theme of “dance”.

I’m pleased to have a story in there because I really have a lot of love for JAAM, and its relaxed and unaffected sense of style. Also because, as mentioned in my author bio in the issue, I was there in ’95 when the club began and the journal was announced. It took me a very long time to submit something.

The story printed is one of the dozen short pieces I wrote last year in my short story binge. I sort of dread reading it in printed form because nothing makes you see all the limitations in your own craft like being published. But people have been very kind and it did get accepted in the first place, so. (In the JAAM-linked writing group there was a running joke that was also partly serious, where you’d always preface sharing your new work with a comment about why it sucked and you hated it.)

Anyway, even though I talk about me in this post, I’m only a few pages of a wide-ranging and nimble collection. The Xmas gift idea suggestion is a genuine one. This is good stuff, to be enjoyed.

JAAM is (or soon will be?) available at Unity Books in Wgtn and other places like that.

Pakistan Relief RPG bundle

US$700+ worth of RPG stuff, for $25

In a successor to February’s bundle for Haiti, this is a fundraiser for Pakistan flood relief.

Includes ICONS which has my name on it, friend-of-FTM Malc’s Hot War, and heaps of other goodies (Starblazer Adventures! Fear Itself! Wild Talents 2E! Contenders! Dragon Warriors! Exalted 2E! Covenant! Don’t Rest Your Head!)

Simply incredible amount of game creativity for a tiny price – and all for a worthy cause. What’s not to love?

Check it out here

What I’m doing this week

Part of my life is being manager of the Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research. Every week the researchers get together and there’s a presentation of some sort or another.
This week, I’m doing one. I’m not a cross-cultural researcher, but I am a giant geek. So:

Playing culture: Dungeons & Dragons, fantastic ethnicity, and the undisciplined mimetic imagination

For several decades, intercultural education has made productive use of interactive exercises, role-plays and simulations. These “infinite games” offer a way to explore and practise cultural interaction in a way that is immersive, memorable and supportive of exploration. Such engagements are carefully managed with inductions and post-experience briefings to contextualise what has taken place.

However, there exists a vibrant strain of parallel activity that is purely informal. For forty years, small groups of people have gathered together and imagined intercultural experiences without any inductions, briefings, or contextual guides. Tabletop role-playing games use an infinite game structure for the shared creation of character-based narrative fiction, and intercultural engagements often feature. In this presentation, I’ll describe how these games have presented and explored culture, and how innovative techniques are opening new possibilities for playing culture. To explore some of these ideas, a prototype for a new game based directly on cross-cultural research will be presented for discussion and feedback.

Happening Thursday. Should be fun.

Fruits of Labours

Been working hard the last month or so, and in the last few days there’s some nice outcome of that.

I’ve been working out and writing the launch exhibition for the new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre. Really interesting building, really nice location. My role in that work is now done, and it goes on to other Eklektus team-members to handle installation and other bits and pieces like that. Very satisfying, and good to develop a new writing skill – writing for exhibition reminds me of teaching crossed with writing for the web. Full opening is October 21st, so if you’re passing through Waitomo after that stop in and see the building and the exhibition!

Also yesterday stopped in at Sidhe, to see a bunch of concept art and a playable prototype for a game we’ve been working on for some time. I am, it must be said, not the most competent player of games but James E was very kind as I flailed about. Exhilarating. Concept art has really stuck in my head too, and I’m scribbling away on the next stage of the project with some enthusiasm.

So it’s nice to see my work translating into stuff in the world. In the news last week was word that Madagasgar Kartz (for which I did spot dialogue) has “been Sidhe’s top seller, with the number of units sold recently reaching seven digits“. Safe to say that’s the biggest audience my writing’s ever reached!

Online Stocktake

This weekend I got to turn a virtual acquaintance into a real-world one (heya Andrew) (also heya Phil) and it got me thinking about where I exist on the internet at the moment.

Obviously: From The Morgue, formerly part of the additiverich collective and now a member of the isprettyawesome crew. Here is for thinking out loud, and talking about media, politics, and things I’ve seen or read. Occasionally I try to be funny. I used to make an effort to blog every weekday, but those days are gone. Isolated personal blogs like this one are on the way out anyway.

And my livejournal, which is only rarely updated. LJ used to be a busy hub of activity but it has been on a long, slow fade for several years now, because isolated personal blogs are on the way out. I’m more self-indulgent on LJ, and will not hesitate to post self-promotion or be incomprehensible. I guess I see LJ as a more forgiving space, content-wise. (From The Morgue is also syndicated to LJ, don’t know who set that up but thanks.)

I’m mr_orgue on Twitter. I don’t tweet much, and when i do it’s mostly just to say “I’ve blogged”, but I reply to other people and re-tweet messages a fair bit. I don’t try to keep up, just drop in and read a bit from time to time. Twitter is a fun time. I’m a bit scared of what it’d be like with a smartphone, though; I only access Twitter from desktop at the moment, but I think it’d be a completely different social experience with constant mobile access.

And of course I’m on Facebook. Facebook is mostly for tracking events, seeing photos and saying happy birthday to people. I’m pretty capricious about accepting friend requests – some days I’ll approve some random friend-of-friend I don’t actually know, other days I’ll refuse someone I’ve met more than a few times. Generally, if I want to say happy birthday to you, I’ll happily be your facebook friend.

Those four sites cover probably 98% of my online presence (outside of RPG-related activity, which is a whole separate issue). I have legacy accounts on MySpace, and WAYN, and probably several other sites I can’t think of right now. And of course there’s my rarely-updated personal site, which I’ve had for over a decade, Apocalypse: A Kind of Revelatory Experience. I should probably let it pass into history, but I like it, and also it hosts the infamous Leon Is A God subsite.

Oh yeah! I’m also on Hoffspace, which is where I ironically celebrate David Hasselhoff. Join me!

Profile Pic

As part of some other work I’ve needed to finally look for a new profile image. The ones I use currently are a photo from 2006 and a cartoon image that’s even older than that.

Here are three more recent profile pic options. Which should be my go-to option when I need to present a face to the world?

I’ll close voting Friday midnight, NZ time. Winning choice becomes my Twitter pic.

(I’ll make no comment until voting is closed.)