:: The Marsh King's Daughter ::

Karen's gaming (and occasional other-stuff) blog
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[..Daily Haunts..]
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[..Amber Links..]
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[..Other Links..]
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:: Sunday, October 16, 2005 ::

Getting In Touch With My Roots

I spent the weekend visiting relatives in Kentucky. As an unexpected bonus, my mother, her two surviving siblings, my eldest cousin and I spent Saturday afternoon in the county where Mom's ancestors have lived for centuries. Now, I've been out to the family farm a number of times; my mom spent the first six years of her life there, and even after her family moved a half-hour away to the "big city" her father continued to farm and keep horses and cattle there. On this trip, though, we also visited the log cabin where Mom's mother was born, which I'd never seen. That farm was sold to the Girl Scouts in the 1950s, and they've maintained the original cabin. The main part of the cabin is perhaps as big as my living room and dining room, plus there is a small loft, reachable by ladder. When my grandmother was a girl, she and her three sisters slept in the loft, while their parents and three brothers slept downstairs. The kitchen was apparently in a separate structure off the porch. My aunt and uncle still remember visiting their cousins there as kids. Since the Girl Scouts have taken over the land, the floor and ceiling have been rebuilt and the "chinking" filled in with concrete to keep critters from slithering in between the logs; but the exterior walls and the stone chimney all survive from the original structure, like something straight outta "Little House On The Prairie" -- except less prairie and more mountains.

We capped off the trip with a visit to the cemetery where many of my grandmother's relatives are buried. My mother likes cemeteries as much as I do, and it's extra-fun visiting them when she knows half the people buried there. I got to see the obelisk-like headstone marking the graves of my great-great-grandparents, the Reverend Nelson T. Burchett and his wife Clarinda McCormick Burchett; as well as Nelson's grandmother Susannah Hearne (or Herron) Burchett, born in 1777.

I totally understand why none of Mom's siblings can bear the idea of selling the farm.
:: Karen | 10:07 PM | | [+] ::
:: Saturday, April 30, 2005 ::

Quote Of The Week

"And there's a Black Death over Valhalla...."
- spouse, happily singing mis-remembered lyrics to Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'"

We're considering re-writing the whole song as an RPG encounter gone wrong....
:: Karen | 3:03 PM | | [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 28, 2005 ::

A Little Passover Humor...

...from last night:
spouse: "Are peanuts kosher for Passover?"
me: "Well, that depends. Are you Sephardic?"
spouse: "Uh...." <pause> "Which answer lets me eat the peanuts?"

...and this morning:
me: <pulling on fluffy hooded alpaca sweater> "I decided I was in the mood to wear something fuzzy. 'Why is this day different from all other days?' Well... it isn't, really, is it?"

Nope, I'm not dead, just... busy. Li hosted another fabulous seder this year (and while I still contend that eight days of all-fast-food diet would be an even more appropriate way to commemorate the flight of the Israelites from Egypt, a seder complete with bag-o'plagues is a very close second). Before that, spouse and I between us spent 18 of the first 23 days of the month out of town (me at a bio conference and a math meeting, him at two meetings for work). In just over a week we're off again, this time on one of the two trips we're actually scheduled to take together this year, for a long weekend in Connecticut/NYC for his nephew's Bar Mitzvah.

Eventually we're gonna hafta make time to plan out that campaign we're s'posed to start running this summer....
:: Karen | 2:13 PM | | [+] ::
:: Sunday, February 27, 2005 ::

End Of An Era (Or Perhaps The World...)

Last night, we played our final, marathon session of Masks, Cathy's Call of Cthulhu campaign. We finally acquired the translation of an ancient Chinese manuscript telling how to re-make the magical ward to block the path of the dark gods into our world -- and almost killed ourselves in the casting of the spell. (We did have one casualty -- our archaeologist -- but it could've been much, much worse.)

My character, Emily, ended the game with 14 SAN (down from 70), 2 POW (down from 14), and a shrivelled arm -- but she stayed alive long enough to learn and cast the Elder Sign spell necessary to create the Eye of Light and Darkness.

Funniest moment from our final session: We knew that for the ritual we needed someone who could cast the Elder Sign spell (none of us knew it, but a PC whose player couldn't make it did know it) and the blood of an "innocent". GM Cathy ruled that we could phone the player of the absent PC to find out which of the books in our possession he'd learned the spell from, so we could all try to learn it. Now, learning the spell requires both that you read the book (a Read English skill check, which is based on one's Education Level), which causes you to lose some SAN and gain some Cthulhu Mythos, and that you UNDERSTAND the spell (an Intelligence check). So the smartest PCs started trying to learn the spell. They'd read the book, lose a little SAN -- and then fail their intelligence checks.

So then the less-smart PCs started trying to learn the spell.

Andy's PC Neville rolled so poorly that he couldn't even make his "Read English" check -- he tried twice! -- with an 85% chance. Then I tried... and with an INT of 9, I made my INTx2 check.

It was only after that, after everyone but Neville and our doctor (who was already halfway 'round the bend) had read the book and gained Cthulhu Mythos that we realized that the "innocent" had to be someone without any Cthulhu Mythos.

So Neville got to be our lucky bleeder by virtue of his complete lack of cleverness. He was not exactly pleased by this -- we were afraid we'd have to knock him unconscious -- but it all worked out in the end....

We will eventually learn in an epilogue, either via email or at our wrap party, whether the spell (in combination with our previously-wreaked havoc) will be enough to foil the plans of Nyarlathotep and his cultists. And then, if the world doesn't end, Emily is going back to the States for a nice long rest and a new career in nursing....
:: Karen | 6:21 PM | | [+] ::
:: Thursday, February 24, 2005 ::

Gallery of Rogues

In between bouts of Real Life, which has been impinging on my gaming quite a bit lately (but in a good way), I finally finished the web page giving summaries of all my current and past characters that I started working on over a year ago.... (Mostly it's all just an excuse to find pretty pictures, I think....)
:: Karen | 9:46 PM | | [+] ::
:: Thursday, January 06, 2005 ::

Because You Asked....

At the request of some of my readers, here is the full track listing for the Call of Cthulhu mix I made for Cathy.... (I'm including track length because... well, you'll see.)

Synchronicity II, The Police (5:05)

World Destruction, Afrika Bambaataa and Johnny Lydon (5:30)

Aren't You The Guy? They Might Be Giants (0:06)

Millionaire Adventurer Balloonist, David McCormack & POLAROIDS (2:54)

I Found A New Friend They Might Be Giants (0:07)

Preaching The End Of The World, Chris Cornell (4:41)

Leave Me Alone, They Might Be Giants (0:05)

We Only Come Out At Night, Smashing Pumpkins (4:05)

Return Of The Spooky Driver, Andy Votel (5:01)

Who's Knocking On The Wall? They Might Be Giants (0:04)

Following Me, Steeleye Span (3:39)

See The Constellation, They Might Be Giants (3:27)

Subterranean Homesick Alien, Radiohead (4:27)

The Statue Got Me High They Might Be Giants (3:06)

Skullcrusher Mountain , Jonathan Coulton (4:16)

Attack of the Ghost Riders, The Raveonettes (2:33)

Something Grabbed A Hold Of My Hand, They Might Be Giants (0:12)

Time Is Running Out, Muse (3:56)

I Walk Along Darkened Corridors, They Might Be Giants (1:01)

O Death, Camper Van Beethoven (3:06)

I Heard A Sound They Might Be Giants (0:04)

Shoot Shoot! Solex (3:08)

I'm Having A Heart Attack, They Might Be Giants (0:22)

Cavern, Phish (4:24)

Mysterious Whisper, They Might Be Giants (0:28)

I'm Deranged, David Bowie and Trent Reznor (3:48)

Hell, Squirrel Nut Zippers (3:12)

Heroes, David Bowie (3:38)

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory -- yes, in our campaign the world is gonna end if we don't do something to stop it, and we're all going slowly crazy, and... yes, we really DID encounter a subterranean homesick alien. But one of my favorite bits is the very last line of "Cavern": "Whatever you do, take care of your shoes."

Ah, brings back memories of that half-mad chap we met in the desert in Australia who was wandering around starkers except for his Oxfords....
:: Karen | 10:25 PM | | [+] ::
:: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 ::

What's That Blue Thing Doing Here?

As many of you know, I've taken to doing "soundtrack" mixes for some of the games I play in. This week, inspired largely by discovering a song called "Millionaire Adventurer Balloonist," I set out to make a Call Of Cthulhu mix for Cathy.

Now, sometimes when I do this, I suddenly realize that one album in particular could be the game soundtrack all by itself. It happened for "Power of Threes", and now it seems to be happening for Masks: After pulling a bunch of appropriate tracks into a playlist and then culling down to album length, I realized that 11 of the 28 tracks I'd selected come from Apollo 18 by They Might Be Giants -- and I didn't even use "Dig My Grave" or "My Evil Twin" or "Hall Of Heads"....

And then I realized -- well, duh! I mean, just look at the cover art....

:: Karen | 3:09 AM | | [+] ::

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