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We made it out to the Botanic Gardens for the first time in too many years – the weather wasn’t shit and neither of us had a reason not to. Which as these things go is pretty much an excuse to go. They do a late opening on midsummer, so you can stick around until after half ten, when it finally starts looking like twilight.

We’d been on the beach at Yellowcraig earlier in the day where I got a couple of nice photos. It was a lovely day, which helped reinforce that it is actually midsummer. Not like the rest of the summer’s been so far (or since, for that matter).

Beach 1 Beach panorama

Then off to the Botanics for the late opening. Which was good, through the sky had clouded over enough that I didn’t get the shots that I’d hoped for. I did get something to remember the visit by, though. A bug or similar lurking in the upper respiratory that’s had me running a fever and generally buggered. Made it to work on Monday’ but not since. Nipping to the shop round the corner is a chore; doing work when all I can think about is breathing right is a bad idea.

So here I am, desperately trying to get comfortable on a sofa as I can’t sleep with my head down, picking out random memories and random photos to share. Enh. I’ve had worse weeks.

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It’s a little after midnight[1], which means it’s my birthday. I would say “fucking hell, I’m 34”[2] but if I tell the truth I’d kinda thought I was already 34 last year. Haven’t really marked the years since I turned thirty. A year is a year is a year. Hardly like I’m old enough that I’m counting the days to retirement[3].

But yeah. Thought I’d mark it. In lieu of a real point, some light music.


  1. Well, it isn’t yet. It’s about half ten as I’m writing this, but I’m not going to post it until a bit after midnight.  ↩

  2. A sentiment for which most of my coworkers and co-drinkers will scoff and say “bairn”, but still.  ↩

  3. Common wisdom holds that those of my age and generation won’t ever retire. Our brain-scans will be downloaded into immortal robot bodies, so that we may work forever. According to this wisdom, I’m just forty years off being Bender.  ↩

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Half Man Half Biscuit, O2 ABC in Glasgow, 11th of September.

Let me know if going.

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Unfinished – A Game in 150 Words

I made a new game. It’s called Unfinished, it’s about ghosts, and it’s just 150 words long.

It’s small enough that it fits in a tweet:

I put it up on DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You Want download, so if you like it (or just think I’m mad enough to reward) you can toss me a buck or two. It’s CC-BY licensed, so share it with whoever.

EDIT: Unfinished was just featured on BoingBoing!

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

My hair is amazing

That is all.Collapse )

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Iron Age Mums are Haunting my Cagoule

One of these days I’ll run out of lyrics for titles. Not any time soon, though.

This last weekend was Conpulsion, at which I was a guest. What with living about five minutes from the venue, I’m an easy mark for them. It was a little disorganized compared to some previous years — I only found out what panels I was on by reading the con programme on the Friday night — but once I knew where I was supposed to be things went well.

Also, guests got cake. I will put up with a whole shitload of stuff in exchange for cake.

Other guests included both of Cakebread and Walton[1], Cat Tobin of Pelgrane Press, Simon Burley[2], Arion Games' Graham Bottley, M. Harold Page, and others who I cannot remember just now. I also caught up with a whole mess of people who I do not have the space or good manners to link to individually here.

I was part of panels on writing RPGs and on getting published, both of which went very well indeed. I also got a bunch of gaming in[3], snagged a couple of Pelgrane books in the charity auction (Eternal Lies and an ARC of Letters to Lovecraft[4])[5], and came third in the pub quiz at least partially because I could remember which side Nick Fury and Deathstroke’s eye-patches are on.

For all that it was a great time, having spent a (six-day) long weekend with family on the weekend before, I really could do with a weekend to myself. Need to get caught up on books, again.


  1. I met Pete at Conpulsion a couple of years ago, but hadn’t met Ken before.  ↩

  2. Still didn’t get to play in one of his games. Next time!  ↩

  3. Best game is a tie between Phil Harris’ Rings and Alan Jackson’s Dropzone — the latter is now in its 21st year being run at cons.  ↩

  4. Say what you will, I am a total sucker for an ARC.  ↩

  5. Thanks (I think) to Craig Oxbrow for bidding against me to get the charity total up.  ↩

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Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition

You all know I make games, right?[1] Not just for myself, but also for Onyx Path Publishing?[2]

OPP don’t just let me play in their sandbox, they gave me a corner of it as my own — I’m the madman line developer for both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken.

A little over two years ago, I sent in a pitch for what would become Werewolf: The Forsaken Second Edition. You might have heard me wittering about it. Two years of my life went in to that book.

Werewolf: The Forsaken Second Edition is out now for you to purchase with your earth-monies. Go check it out!

If you like werewolves, I think — hope — you’ll like Werewolf: The Forsaken. We did our damndest to capture a broad range of werewolf mythology and story beats, and used them to build on the excellent foundation of the game’s first edition. Much of what changed has been discussed on the Onyx Path forums, the RPGnet forums, and the open development blog posts on the Onyx Path site.


  1. If not, I dread to think how you found this site.  ↩

  2. For those who haven’t been paying attention, when CCP/White Wolf got out of making roleplaying games, Onyx Path got the license. We’re a bunch of ex-White Wolf staff & freelancers putting out new material for pretty much all White Wolf games at a rate not seen in the past six years.  ↩

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

The Inevitable Asterisk

This last weekend proved that yes, I can drive 250 miles around (mostly Northern) Ireland without me legs dropping off. Which is a good thing. We went to many places, didn't drink any whiskey (due to the aforementioned driving), and I got to climb under a castle.

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Arkell vs. Pressdram

You couldn't make it up... GiggleGawper Jimbo 'Shitlord' Desborough, a particularly hateful waste of a genome, is threatening to sue people for libel. Their "crime"? Blocking him on twitter using a bot that auto-blocks GiggleGawpers.

For context, Jimmy is indeed a GiggleGawper of high order. He's also an MRA, a misogynist, a homophobe, a transphobe, and the kind of arsehole who blames his being an arsehole on having depression ("it's a bum rap, my penismental illness made me do it!"), rather than on him being an arsehole. He has tried to exploit a terrorist movement to sell what should probably be called "roleplaying games" because nobody's actually wasted money on them to find out if his description's accurate.

In short, he is exactly the kind of person that the autoblocker was invented to block. CLOSED-WONTFIX, working as intended, good fucking riddance.

Oh, he's also blocked plenty of the people he's threatening to sue, even though their "crime" is blocking him. He's even worse at irony than Alanis Morissette.

I dearly hope that everyone who received one of his threats refers to the response given in Arkell vs. Pressdram (1971). For those of you who haven't come across this seminal piece of British legal correspondence:

Letter to Private Eye
From Goodman Derrick & Co., solicitors:
We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter. Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.


Response from Private Eye
We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.


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Midge Ure Looks Like a Milk Thief

I'm surprised I didn't note this at the time, but two weeks ago today was my 10th anniversary of moving to Scotland.

I did raise a glass to the occasion.

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An Equilateral Chainsaw

It’s only been eight years. How silly to expect that I’d finally be free of it.

Some backgroundCollapse )

Anxiety manifests with a time-dilationary effect in me. The hour-long journey to to my old workwork felt like three times that, playing through scenarios of what fresh hell I’d face that day. Three subjective hours of trepidation and dread. I got one roughly three times a week.

Every so often, I stil get a panic attack. This morning was my first in a couple of years. The ten minutes between my alarm going off and getting out of bed stretched into three and a half hours of semi-dreaming in which I managed to sleep late, didn’t get out of the door on time, and had messages to run before I could get in to work and throw myself on the mercy of someone I know has no mercy whatsoever.

What an 'orrible start to the day.

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For everything else, there"s Manic PanicCollapse )

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Cold Morning

Cold in the mornings. Not proper cold, of course, barely in the negative C, but enough of a chill to make getting out from under the duvet into a chore that one puts off for as long as possible. I’ve started hitting my alarm clock hard, waiting for J.’s as the sign that no, I need to get the fuck out of bed.

Shades of Germany, a bedroom stuck above the archway into the back yard of the block. The digital thermometer telling me it’s –22 outside; about –5 in the room itself with an oil-filled radiator running all night. Huddled under a duvet and two blankets, grabbing clothes and warming them in bed for five minutes so it didn’t feel like getting dressed in ice. I’d chosen badly, of course, but in the summer it’s the coldest room and has a balcony. I moved in when the average was 25 in the shade. Bad decisions happen when it gets that hot.

I like it when it’s cold, don’t get me wrong. Especially when the sun’s up. Clear air, the moisture sucked out of it and frozen on the ground so you get less distortion. But when it’s grey — or snowing — I end up just wanting a cigarette a lot of the time.

For all that I like the cold, I don’t particularly like walking home in the dark. I know a lot of people want to move to a permanent BST — the equivalent of putting the UK on CET. Which would mean it gets dark during January at half five, not half four. Nice, you might think. But in January, the sun wouldn’t rise until a quarter to ten. Bugger that. Dark in the evenings is easier to handle than dark in the mornings, when the world is telling you to fuck off back to bed.

The worst thing about the cold is waking up and finding out that one shoulder’s been out from under the covers. My back’s riddled with knots to the point it needs a sledgehammer and a masonry chisel to loosen it up, freezing part of it for a night brings enough low-level pain and discomfort to fuck up the entire day.

Colder on some parts since I started shaving much of my head, of course. Tried a longer-term dye a couple of weeks ago, Manic Panic’s Cotton Candy Pink. Looked good for the first week and a half, but by this point enough of the bleach is showing that my hair looks more orange than pink. My naïve estimate is back to mostly-normal by this point next week, at which point I can break out something new, but we’ll see how reality matches up to guesswork.

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Took Problem Chimp to the Ideal Home Show

Half Man Half Biscuit at the Liquid Room tomorrow. Anyone here going?

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Gone Yesterday

Yesterday reminded me that I don't really have mementos.

Let's face it. I'm tech-savvy, in my early (soon to be mid) thirties. Born too late to have anything in common with Generation X, too early to be a Millennial. Other people of my rough age have photographs and letters as mementos of the past; bits of nostalgia and recorded history, but that's where the tech-savvy part comes in. I relied on a datashadow, on disks and electrons, and quite a bit of that is gone now.

For almost everything, email took the place of letters. I got a hotmail address in 1997; graduated to MyRealBox in 2000. Hotmail at the time closed any account that was inactive for more than three months; I think I last looked at it before I went to Germany in 2001. By May 2001, every conversation I'd had pre-May 2000 vanished. I got a gmail account back before they enforced "googlemail" in EU — late June 2004 — and slowly transitioned to there. I stopped using MyRealBox shortly after; I last looked at it early 2005. MyRealBox closed in 2011. Again, every conversation May 2000 to June 2004 went away. I used provided email as well, of course — first from the university then from a string of employers — but I always knew they were going away. I used to forward interesting conversations to my "personal" mail provider of choice so I'd have an archive, but I never had the impetus to swim through the archives when I moved personal mail to a new platform.

I used to have an archive of email, of course. That's one of the points of using a mail client. A couple of massive hard disk failures lead to losing everything around 2005. As a result, pretty much every long-form communication I've had with people before mid-2004 is dead and gone. I no longer have the music collection that I built up through Napster and Kazaa as a student. I don't have the shitty short stories I wrote when doing my A-Levels (though to be fair, that's a fucking blessing).

I've got some letters, I think, but I don't know where they are and I might even have lost them in a flat move. It's hard to say. I've got about five photographs prior to my iPhoto library, which starts in mid-2006. It's funny in a depressing way to think that this livejournal is pretty much my memory archive, full as it is of adolescent tantrums and idiotic shit.

Since 1997, I've relied on my datashadow as an external memory. I don't have letters or pictures, I have a search box. When I talk about my smartphone as an external brain, I mean it. I don't have amnesia or anything, but mnemonic keys — the rush of feeling and memory that you get on seeing an old picture or a letter and remembering something that you'd not thought about for years — live in email and on disk, and I've lost a lot of them. I have no evidence of what I did between roughly 1997 and 2003/2004.

The past is mutable — memories are a story we tell ourselves, not a record of truth. No matter how well you remember something, that doesn't mean that it happened. Having mnemonic keys and artefacts don't just trigger memories, they help keep them grounded. Letters key you in how you really felt at the time and how a friendship or relationship actually happened, rather than how you now remember it. Photos show you what happened or how you looked to the outside world, rather than how you remember yourself looking. Artefacts are the only way we have to ground our memories in reality, so it's funny in a slightly depressing way to wonder just how many of my memories pre-2004 have any bearing on what actually happened.

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Ello

I'm now on Ello. If you're there and care, add me.

Working on something to automate cross-posting from there to here (and other places) but that's not quite ready yet.

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Changing Faces

So if I’m going to post here anyway, let’s do it right.

For a long time, I liked to say that I had last had a proper haircut in 1999. Beyond that, it was every two years with a bread-knife regular, whether I needed it or not. Images withinCollapse )

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Missing Words

For all that English is a violent and cruel language that doesn't so much borrow words as chase other languages down dark alleys and mugs them of everything it can get, it does have some missing terms. The German schadenfreude is the obvious one (though the German has pretty much become English by default), as is lagom, taken from Swedish.

I wonder what we can steal for "The unexpected joy of finding you've already done something you were planning on doing".

In this case, finding my ticket for Half Man Half Biscuit on the 31st, and being happy that I don't need to go get one. Or opening a drawer at work and finding a chocolate bar (or can of Red Bull) that you'd forgotten was there, right when you need a sugar hit.



I used to post this sort of shit on Googol Plus, which does have a huge community if you're an RPG geek. Given the current shite over there with toxic wastes of a genome and the people who uncritically enable them, I'm coming back to Livejournal for things longer than tweets. Let's see if this lasts for longer than just this post.

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Not On Twitter

In other news, the reasons in the other post also lead to me not really being on twitter. Partly, I needed a post-Indyref break so I didn't end up advocating armed and violent revolution in a public forum. Partly, I just didn't have the means or the time to really post.

While things have settled down, I've not yet gone back. I know people are organising, that the whole Yes movement is building into a range of groups for various positive ends, but I don't think I can go back just yet. Apart from stuff that's auto-posted (like these entries), I'm not going to be there.

It's good for my mental health. [personal profile] grendelsmere says that I'm personally offended by broad social trends. Mostly, I see the news and it makes me depressed and it makes me angry. Especially during the indyref, I saw a lot of news. This had the effect you'd expect. It also tanked my productivity in other areas.

So I'm continuing with the break for now. When I go back, I'm going to take a step back from Scottish politics, not because I'm not still interested, or because I don't want change, but because that desire for change needs a tighter focus. I'll go back to gaming and tech nerdery and bad jokes.

But it won't be this week, or the next.

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The Indyref

So, that happened. I was somewhat distracted by reasons, but it's worth a quick post-mortem.

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