I have mixed feelings about the upcoming 4th edition of D&D. I used to play AD&D (1st ed) as the first rpg I ever tried. It was fun, despite the rules being an unholy mess and most of the adventures being pure dungeon stomps with no rhyme or reason. By the time 2nd ed rolled along, I had left D&D for other games (Rolemaster, at that time).By what I understand, TSR pushed up quantity and allowed quality to drop (both massively), ending up in bankruptcy and with Wizards of the Coast buying them out. WotC did a nice hat trick with 3rd edition, rewriting the whole thing with a “d20” ruleset and introducing the Open Gaming License so 3rd parties could use their ruleset to create add-on material. While I’ve never played 3rd ed and don’t intend to (as a ruleset it doesn’t exactly appeal to me), things apparently worked out for WotC and 3rd ed was a success.
…and now we have 4th ed, which is getting conflicted reviews based on what’s known. WotC is apparently chasing after the WoW gamer crowd; makes sense as such, since the rpg industry is miniscule while the MMORPG one is huge (for certain companies, at least). Thing is, I’m not sure they’re copying the right things from WoW. In addition, it’s still not clear if 4e will have a version of the OGL, which has already caused some big 3rd party content producers to jump ship and roll their own (Paizo recently said that they are not getting into 4e, and will instead develop an in-house variant of 3.5 for Pathfinder). Even more fragmentation into an already fragmented market it bad, though I totally understand and support what Paizo is doing – it only makes sense.
“I console myself with the knowledge that the new D&D design team is finally giving up the ghost. D&D isn’t a roleplaying game; it’s a very sophisticated board game. This is a bit of a paradox because D&D is the first roleplaying game. Yet, it isn’t a roleplaying game. Like being your own grandfather, this takes some explaining.”
I’m not sure if I 100% agree with him, but he does make some very good observations.
I mean, D&D is now in its 4th incarnation, and it still apparently has no real rules for social conflict (other than some lame “Diplomacy” rolls or suchlike). Rules for hacking monsters? Sure, hundreds of pages of them, I’m sure. But for anything else? Nah, don’t need rules for that, that’s the “roleplaying” thing you can do if you insist on doing “suboptimal builds”. Gah.
Some things WoW should stay in WoW. And some things from the rest of the industry/hobby should finally get introduced to D&D. Will they? Like hell they will. See dragon, kill dragon, collect loot. Huzzah!
Thought I’d start to say a few words here about books I read (which is mostly rpg sourcebooks and fantasy/science fiction, nowadays). Don’t expect too much, I just intend to note some quick impressions, not do extensive analysis – unless I feel like it.
So, to start off, we have Avenues & Alleyways, the long-awaited sourcebook for the A|State game. A|State is a brilliant game… or to be more exact, it’s a brilliant setting. The system is ok but nothing special, it’s a pretty plain vanilla percentage-based thing. But the setting, it’s a thing of beauty. Take a dirty, industrial city that nobody can leave. Populate it mostly with a society straight out of Dickens, but have the upper class live in towering high-tech monoliths. Add in some mechanical computers and other steampunk regalia, and you’re halfway there. The City in A|State is not a place where you’d want to live, it’s very much a dystopia – but it’s fascinating. It also gives off a strong horror vibe to me, just because I find urban settings filled with poverty and filth to be that. Doesn’t detract from the fascination, though, and the nice thing in A|State is that it tries to highlight the rays of hope amidst the squalor. Malcolm Craig, the author, has said that this is quite deliberate – and has later noted that he wished the system gave mechanical help to reflect this.
Anyway, Avenues & Alleyways has been “in the works” for ages. Malcom has said on rpg.net that he’s not sure of what the future of A|State is, that he’s finding it hard to work on material for that game as opposed to new projects. He is very interested in indie-like game structures nowadays, and many have suggested that a new ruleset might do A|State good, something that played off a despair-hope mechanic. Or maybe just move the game into being totally systemless. In fact, maybe that’s the direction Malcolm is taking things, because though the previous printed A|State expansion Lostfinders’ Guide to Mire End contained some game stats, here they are competely gone; A&A is completely systemless.
In any case, to everyone’s surprise, A&A finally surfaced, and it’s a beauty. It details various “burghs” in the city, each with some flavor text, a description, usually an evocative picture, and an example location and NPC. The City is a huge thing, and it would take 50 books like this to really do it justice – but this is a nice start. The text is clear and fun to read and the places are very varied and interesting. Like the City itself, they range from absolute hellholes to some quite pleasant upper-class locations, and the NPCs seem well-chosen in that they tend to illustrate some facet of the neighborhood. There are also some enigmas thrown into the mix, which reminded me of the book/film Stalker in places. As always, the art is fantastic, and really brings the locations alive.
What can I say. If you’re interested in a weird, grim, steampunk-ish game world, you can’t go far wrong by checking out A|State. If you already have the game and like it, A&A is pretty much an essential supplement. Sure, maybe you could write up locations this varied and interesting, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t, at least not without tons of effort. Also, the plot hook per page count is pretty high, here.
First off, as everyone probably has heard by now, Gary Gygax died on Tuesday. What can I say… he pretty much created the roleplaying hobby as we know it. My earliest roleplaying was with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, back in 1980 or so. At that time, personal computers (let alone computer games) were virtually unknown – to us here in Finland, at least – so there was not much to compete for that mental space. Hell, it was pretty hard to even get pen & paper rpgs, I usually had to resort to photocopying tattered books borrowed from other people. I still remember how cool the whole concept seemed. Sure, our early games were simplistic hack & slash by current standards and the ruleset was horrible… but so what? We had tons of fun. I still rememer some meatgrinder adventures like Tomb of Horrors fondly. A lot of nostalgia, there.
So… even though the sorts of rpgs I nowadays like tend to diverge in many ways from what Gary created, and even though I think it’s way past time to get rid of some of the worst artifacts of his game (kill “alignment” already, for fuck’s sake, and kick out “levels” and “hit points” while you’re at it)… I can’t ignore the fact that D&D is ultimately responsible for most facets of my gaming hobby. Thanks, Gary. You did good.
A guy called Jari was our first GM and introduced us to the hobby. He was a pretty decent GM (for the times, at least), and was especially good with Paranoia. I still start grinning when I remember stuff like Das Bot: Nearly a Dozen Meters Beneath the Sea and Me and My Shadow, Mark 4. At some point I became interested in GMing, and it’s been what I’ve been doing ever since; first with AD&D, then with Rolemaster. I was pretty crappy as a GM… I’ve gotten better (mostly), and the players usually seemed to have fun, but I wasn’t all that good in retrospect. I guess very few people are naturally good GMs, it’s a long learning experience.
When computer games entered the equation I mostly forgot about pen & paper rpgs for a long, long time. Sure, I still had my AD&D and RM books, but didn’t do anything with them. Sometime much later, the LARP craze started, and I spend a long while with that, helping run a 10-year Vampire chronicle and playing in tons of games. It was great, I still have a fondness for LARPs though it’s been a long time since I was in one. During that time I tried starting up tabletop rpgs again once or twice, but it went nowhere due to various factors. I guess it was only after the worst LARP phase ended that I got seriously interested in tabletop rpg again.
Nowadays I’m very much into it, once again. I read and post a lot on rpg.net – it’s by far my favorite online community at the moment, due to excellent moderation and lots of cool & interesting people. I buy a lot of rpgs, partly with a collector mentality, since I simply like to read the things, see what people are doing with new rules ideas and settings. I run an Exalted game which is going pretty well, and play in a few other games myself. Things go round in circles. Will I still be interested in rpgs 10 years from now? Who knows. Probably, though. In some form.
Some may be wondering what that “Pathfinder” picture is doing up there. It’s actually a segue to get from “the creator of D&D” to “the current state of the art” (yeah, I know D&D 4e is coming soon, let’s not nitpick here). Pathfinder is Paizo’s new… magazine/adventure module thingy, and it’s really, really good. They are publishing adventure campaigns in six installments (one per month), as a linked series of adventures. The first one (Rise of the Runelords) has just finished, and the new sequence (Curse of the Crimson Throne) will ship the first installment this month. The writing and plotting is very good (for D&D, at least), the production values are excellent, and most importantly: Paizo really gets it with this “Internet” thing. They offer subscriptions, where you are shipped the “magazine” each month and you also get a “free” PDF of the issue downloadable online the moment it ships. They have a ton of web support material, their web store works great, and in general they combine traditional print and new PDF+web technologies in a very competent way. Oh, and I probably need to mention the production values again, just for emphasis; the art rocks and the whole thing is just slick.
I was so impressed with Pathfinder that I subscribed to it, even though I don’t play D&D and don’t intend to. Why? Partly because I simply like reading the stuff, partly because I like to support companies that are doing “smart” things (in my opinion, at least), and partly because I can maybe use some of this stuff with some other (better!) ruleset – Burning Wheel, Reign, whatever.
So, though the basic game is still the same “kill monsters, get loot and exp” at the core, it has come a long way. The plots are a lot more complex, the societies depicted are at least vaguely realistic instead of the bad ol’ “30x30 room with 3 red dragons” crap. D&D has evolved, and is evolving; probably because the core players have gotten both older and more sophisticated.
The pen&paper rpg hobby is a tiny niche one. The model railroad hobby is huge by comparison, and it’s still a niche hobby. Also, the field is extremely fragmented, and blessed/cursed by tons of excellent games, all competing for a very limited amount of customer cash. From a customer viewpoint it’s great, of course, but for companies… not so much.
What are the implications of this? First, don’t get into this business and expect to make lots of money. Ain’t gonna happen. You can make a living and reasonable profit if you’re good, but it’s hard going and you’re going against some extremely talented people. Second, companies and gaming will have to evolve – the traditional book publishing model, with huge minimum print runs etc, is extremely problematic for a hobby like this. Better use of new technologies, more hybrid use of pen&paper + computers, more PDF and print-on-demand publishing… there are options, and the smart guys out there are exploring them. Unlike some doom-mongers, I don’t believe the hobby is dying – far from it. I do believe that it is slowly changing, though, and that this change is a good thing.
We’ve come a long way from A Keep on the Borderlands. And that’s a wonderful thing.
we do what we must
because we can
Since the Orange Box was released, everyone and their pet gerbil has been singing praise of Portal, a small puzzle game included with the set. It’s been getting so much praise, actually, that is has somewhat eclipsed the “main offering” of that box, Half-Life 2 Episode 2. Even Zero Punctuation had nothing bad to say about it – in fact, he actually praised the game and said he could find nothing to criticise about it. As anyone following that review series knows… that generally doesn’t happen. Ever.
Well, about a week ago I got the Orange Box, and… you know what? Everyone and their pet gerbil was right. Portal is an absolutely brilliant game. Janka grabbed it first, and even though she generally avoids “first person” games, she really liked this and played it through to the finish in two evenings of play. The same happened to me, after that. I’ve heard claims that this is playable in “about 3 hours”, but I’d take that with some grains of salt; I have quite a lot of experience with FPS games and it took me about 6 hours to finish this. While the beginning is easy, the difficulty ramps up quite a bit near the end and some of the puzzles had me scratching my head for quite a while. Managed to finish the game without resorting to external hints, though.
So what’s it about? You, as a young woman in an orange jumpsuit, wake up in a sterile lab environment. A computer voice guides you through an increasingly complex set of puzzles, aided by “portals” – local bi-directional wormhole thingies. It’s a first-person 3d physics puzzle game, with a neat twist from the “portals”. It’s a huge amount of fun. It’s also very polished, in true Valve fashion, and it’s obvious that a ton of playtesting went into this thing. It also (in Valve fashion) sports an interesting and slightly creepy backstory, and has oodles of pitch-black humor that has you laughing out loud at times. Oh, and the end credit sequence is the best ewah!
That’s the thing with Valve. Many other companies might have thrown this together quickly, since it’s just a small “side game”. Not Valve, they put just as much polish and effort into this as they put into Half-Life. And it shows. Also, the backstory makes the game a bit more than “just a puzzle game”, it makes it into the beginning of something potentially a lot more complex. Valve has now announced that they are working on Portal 2, a “big game” follow-up (this has been somewhat of a surprise hit for them). With any other company I’d be a bit apprehensive, but not that much here – Valve are responsible for some of the best computer gaming on the planet so far, they have my confidence.
To quote Yahtzee from ZP: “Portal’s great, and if you don’t think so you’re stupid.”
But there’s no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun
For the people who are still alive
“… time, Doctor Freeman?”
While we’re not in Big Brother -ville yet, it’s a slippery slope, as the recent censorship idiocy here in Finland shows. Ah, the good old “won’t anyone think of the children!” argument, where silly little things like freedom of speech and due process get trampled by the obvious demons of “child pornography!”. Of course, if you’re against this censorship, you’re a supporter of child pornography! Sigh. The fact that this is a secret list, which apparently contains lots of non-child pornography pages too, seems not matter too much to some people. History has shown us where things like this tend to lead – but knowledge of history doesn’t feature very high on the list of these people, either. “We have to save the children!!!”
I could write lots about this, but better writers than me have already done so. It should not come as a suprise that so many people are ignorant of the real implications of all this – but the fact that one of those (willfully) ignorant people is our Minister of Communications, Suvi Lindén, is sad. I get some little satisfaction from the fact that as of now, over 10,000 people have signed an address asking for her resignation, while only about 4500 people voted for her originally. The sad fact of democracy is that now and then, utter morons get elected into office. Usually they do no harm there. Usually.
In an alternate reality we’d have a Gordon Freeman clone with a huge arsenal storming the senate and kicking ass. Here and now, we’ll have to do without gravity guns and general mayhem. Maybe that’s for the best.
Speaking of dystopias and firepower…
…yes, I finished Half-Life 2 this weekend. Quite a ride, and the end cliffhanger was nicely done. Now all I have to do is resist the temptation to buy the Orange Box until I have time to actually play Episodes 1 & 2. Not this week, at least – I have an Exalted game to prep and some other stuff to do. Next week, maybe. I can resist. Yup. No problem. Sure.
That took care of Sunday. Saturday we had a VTES tournament run by Teemu; was a lot of fun, and even though my Anarch Daughters voter failed in the first two rounds (in first because of bad table seating, in second because of abysmally bad card draws), it did manage to get me a game win in the third round. Not enough for the finals, but still, a game win is a game win. I have some small tweak ideas for that deck, but nothing major; I suspect it’s close to as good as I can make it, without totally changing some major focus.
After the game I shambled to a friend’s place where a blini party was in full swing. Blinis plus bubbly wine, wonderful combo.
Added a bit later: this post cuts right down to the heart of the censorship debate, tongue-in-cheek as it may be (in Finnish).
On Friday, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield published the first “episode” of Freak Angels, their new collaborative free web comic project. Ellis is one of my favorite comics writers (Transmetropolitan rocks like few things do), and the art on FA looks lovely. Some sort of British post-apoc deal, with the Midwich Cuckoos thrown into the mix – as the protagonists, it seems. Or something. I’ll be following this.
For a change, I spent most of Sunday playing Half-Life 2. I had almost forgotten how fantastic a game this was. I’d previously played this up to the point where you fight a helicopter gunship under a huge railway bridge (on the coastal highway), now I started the game from scratch and actually got past that point by midnight or so. It’s a lot faster when you know/remember what you need to do – but now I’m again in unknown territory.
Good single-player games can be a huge amount of fun. The original Half-Life was one of the very few major games I’ve actually completed. Took a long, long time… but still. HL2 is, if possible, an even better game; I’d venture to claim that it’s currently the best FPS out there. Yes, there are better graphics to be found (though HL2 is very pretty, too), but HL2 has a great story and a huge amount of variability. You don’t get stuck in a rut, mowing down the same group of bad guys on levels that all look the same. Here you go from hydrofoil chases to dune buggies, from whimsical weaponless story interludes and physics puzzles to full-out firefight brawls. Oh, and the Gravity Gun rocks.
Special positive mention goes to the character of Alyx Vance. An actual smart female character in a computer game, and one who dresses and acts like… a normal person. Who’d have thunk. Oh, and can’t forget Dog. Dog rocks.
Ever since we moved to the new house, we’ve had intermittent problems with our ADSL connection. The connection is a “ServerLink” 8/1M connection from Netsonic (includes static IP, the critical component), with the actual connection being provided by Elisa. In the beginning what happened was that every now and then, the line would drop and stay down until the ADSL box was rebooted – really nasty if you’re running a server. We switched the old ADSL box for a Telewell one, and that one is able to recover from the drops; now all that happens is that the line drops every now and then, and then recovers some 30 sec - 1 min later. For a lot of uses this is quite ok, but since it usually kills ssh connections and (most critically :) kills Eve connections, it’s still a headache.
I’ve tried looking over the ADSL connection settings, and while I don’t understand all the switches there everything seems ok. The logs just say “carrier dropped” or something like that. Hmph.
I finally emailed the other people who life at our house company (“taloyhtiö”, whatever that is in English). As a reply I was told that another guy had also had problems a year ago, he had contacted Elisa and had been told that since our switching center is in Hämeenkylä (quite a distance away), they cannot guarantee an error-free 8M transfer rate. They had reduced the max bandwidth for that guy to 3.5M and the problems had gone away. I’ll have to ask Elisa about this, and if the above is still true then do the same for us. We don’t need the max download rate all that often anyway, and we’d much rather have a steady, slower link than a slightly flaky faster one. A bit annoying, in any case – why do they sell an 8M connection to an area they apparently know can’t handle it?
Serves us right, of course, for living in the middle of the forest…
In other news: spent Sunday playing VTES at a friend’s place along with lots of other people, was fun. My Lasombra combat deck sucked on all too many levels, it’s going back into the redesign pile. The Samedi deck is doing ok-ish, but is having flow problems – have some ideas about that. Daughters of Cacophony anarch voter is starting to work nicely, but is suffering from master jam (understandable, since it had a ton of them). Will have to figure out what to cut.
Oh, and I have to note that even though the recent Superbowl left me cold (I’m not much into watching organized sports, and have no idea how football rules even work), I’m finding another sports event very entertaining: the US presidential race. He’s running for the finish line! But no, she has him tackled, there’s only a pile of flailing hands and feet visible! Who’s that mystery man, sprinting past the defense line? And now for a word from our sponsors!
I’m personally rooting for Barack Obama. He’s smart, has lots of views I can agree with (not all, of course), and is an excellent public speaker. For example, check out this speech about religion and atheism (40min video stream). Besides the fact that it takes balls to talk about religion’s role in politics at all in the current climate, the fact that he talks about atheists and evangelists both in a non-confrontational manner (barring some pointed and deserved digs) is a big plus. Something about his measured call for discourse, reason and moderation on all sides strikes a chord with me. As an atheist, this is a sensibly religious person I feel I could have a real talk with. Which is something.
This is all from the sidelines, of course, since I can’t vote in the U.S. elections. To be honest, all three of the current main candidates (Obama, Clinton and McCain) seem to have something to recommend them, none of them feels like an idiot. So for the first time in 8 years, there’s a real chance the U.S. might get a reasonably good president. Whoever that ends up being.
In any case, most of the world is watching.
Woot, I just got the news that Greg Stolze has confirmed he’s coming to Ropecon as GoH this year. Seriously cool news, Greg is the mastermind behind the new “rpg.net darling” game Reign, as well as co-author to the best modern occult game I know of, Unknown Armies. In addition to that, he has contributed to lots of gaming books during his career, written a pile of novels, and in general been a creative powerhouse. Will be nice to meet him in person.
The thing with Greg is that he’s a very good and engaging writer, in addition to being good at rpg design. His books are good reads, in addition to playing well. After chugging through some game books that are great as games but read like school textbooks, that’s something I really appreciate.
With the other “major” GoH being Chris Pramas from Green Ronin, this looks to be an interesting Ropecon (at least from my point of view). I love what Green Ronin are doing with the new systemless Freeport books, I hope that becomes a trend.
Oh, and the latest Reign supplement (#6, “The Popular and Unique”) came out of ransom today. A download link will probably appear on the supplements page soon, in the meantime here’s a direct link to the zip file. Greg has also said that he’s working on publishing the supplements in some kind of collected and printed form for those of us who would also like a printed version. Nice.
We’re playing a small test game of Reign at the moment and it’s working well. In addition to exploring how the Company rules work, we’re trying to deal with a table that apparently is actually a demon egg, rival guilds, old enemies, and the general hassle of trying to run a black-market “mercantile” operation while studying magic on the side. Good stuff.
I’ve been reading some Antarctica-related stuff lately, centering around Chaosium’s massive Beyond the Mountains of Madness campaign book. I’m about halfway through at the moment, and… wow, it’s quite something. Insane amount of detail, and very inspired expansion on the original short stories “At the Mountains of Madness” (Lovecraft) and “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” (Poe). I’m still not sure I’ll be up to running this at any point – it would take a lot of time, and a group of players willing to put up with lots of 1930’s period detail and a fairly slow, deliberate pace; not all that much pulp-style heroics here. It’s something I’ll have to think about some more.
In any case, the sheer amount of background detail in the campaign book is mind-boggling, the appendixes themselves take up about 150 pages. It’s also very well written, and shows a deep love for the subject material. As an adventure, it also feels like it should play well – there are some bits I would tweak and some railroady bits, but on the whole it has a nice flow to it, with lots of plot twists. It’s no wonder that this thing is often nominated when talking about the all-time best roleplaying campaigns; it’s right up there with Warhammer’s “The Enemy Within” and other classics of the genre (with the caveat that I haven’t actually read Enemy Within yet, I’m just told that it’s really really good).
In order to get even more background detail, I’m also reading The Lost Men, the real-life story of Shackleton’s ill-fated Ross Sea supply expedition of 1914-1916. Fascinating stuff, and in parts unbelievable; it seems a miracle, and testament to pure human spirit, that there were any survivors considering all the poor planning and supplies. The whole “we don’t need to prepare, we’re British gentlemen!” thing seems quite alien to my modern mindset, especially since I’ve done a bit of traveling in difficult conditions myself. The thought of going into a virtually unknown, utterly deadly locale with piss-poor planning and sad lack of proper supplies seems suicidal. And was, apparently.
Another sort-of game prep book I’m thinking of getting is Mountains of Madness: A Scientist’s Odyssey in Antarctica, an account of a modern-day paleontologist’s journey to the real-world site of Lovecraft’s story. Might be interesting.
It would be nice to visit Antarctica one day. So many other interesting spots to see also, of course, so hard to say if I’ll ever get around to it – but I’ve always had a fascination for the more barren and hostile areas of the world.
In other news… we had another Exalted session, a bit dungeon-crawly but that was by intention, and was fun for a change of pace and as a chance to get more to grips with the combat system. We still didn’t get it quite right, I forgot about minimum “ping” damage and about natural soak values. Duh. Oh well, next time…
This weekend had me in Turku again, at yet another knife technique seminar. This time time around we spent the weekend practicing the care and feeding of the bali-song (butterfly knife). Apparently the damn things feed on blood, judging by the amount of nicks and cuts we accumulated – at one point we joked that we should have a “sponsored by Hansaplast!” sticker somewhere. Had fun, though. As a weapon the butterfly knife is not that hot; it’s sadly lacking in speed and ease of use compared to modern folding knives, and offers no real benefits of any kind technically. Sure, you can use some of the opening techniques as secondary attacks, but that’s pretty borderline. On the other hand, in more primitive times it was a folding knife that you could (with practice) open with one hand, something that’s quite a feat without modern-day mechanical production skills and tolerances. In the modern day, its main point is “it looks really cool”, and it acts as a fun stress toy and finger nimbleness exercise. One that needs focus to play with, of course, unless you actually like the sight of your own blood.
Considering that I had never played with one before, I’m pretty happy with getting some (very basic) proficiency in ten or so of the basic opening styles over the weekend, and with only getting one cut that required bandages during the process.
So… Christmas and New Year. We had a nice, peaceful and sort-of-traditional home Christmas, together with my dear cute wife (artist’s depiction on right, thanks to Girl Genius), Niksu, and the girl-who-lives-in-his-bedroom-at-times. “Traditional” due to us having metric tons of traditional Finnish Christmas food, with some stuff borrowed from the Russian kitchen, and “not quite traditional” due to the glow-in-the-dark demon & pentagram we had as Christmas window decorations – and also due to us listening to “A Very Scary Solstice” and “An Even Scarier Solstice” as holiday theme music.
Everyone (including the cats) got lots of goodies to eat, and presents are always fun. I got a two Imogen Heap albums (nice!), a copy of the classic Dr. Seuss “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, (whee!) and a 100mm macro lens (wow!). I’d complain that it was way too much and too expensive, but of course Santa is above normal everyday economic concerns. Apparently Wife had tipped off Santa about what I’d like, since I got things I very much appreciated. Seems that Santa had been busy in other ways also, since everyone got lots of fun and appropriate packages. One does wonder how Santa knows what lurks in the heart of man. Is he actually The Shadow, the other 355 days?
During the inbetween days before New Year, I ran a VTES tournament with a “munch/cheese” theme, “Temptation of Greater Power I”. Went well, and a tournament report is now available.
Then it was suddenly New Year, which we spent at Jari’s. Lots of people (some just visiting Finland for a short while), lots of bubbly, lots of snacks, sauna… was a fun party. The weather was (still) dismal, but bubbly drinks cure that to a large extent.
So, now it’s 2008, first full year in our new home starting up. Lots of stuff to do, things to improve and fix… and that’s good. There’s no real rush with anything, and there’s the luxury of being able to plan for long term.