Category: Blag

Musings on Starforged (TTRPG)

A while back I came across Quest Calendar on Reddit/Kickstarter, a single-player RPG in the format of a tear-off day calendar; It’s a fun RPG that only takes a few minutes out of your day to play. It has also opened the door for me to explore the Solo RPG genre, which I was previously unaware had even existed. I have been playing Starforged on-and-off for a few months and it is positively delightful; It’s a PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) based tabletop RPG that can be played either solo, co-op or guided; My chosen method of play is sort of a blend between a tabletop roleplaying game and a creative writing prompt.

You see, I love journaling and drawing/watercoloring as a form of personal creative expression and I really like dice rolling TTRPGs. I also really really love world building but I really really don’t want to DM a game. Starforged seems to do a decent job of scratching the odd combination of all 3 itches. So lately, there have been more than a few evenings spent with my Traveler’s Notebook, a printout of some of the rules, dice, a cup of tea, and background music to set the mood. It’s also nice having other activities that aren’t in front of a screen or don’t require daylight and expensive sporting equipment.

One thing that I really like about PbtA systems (vs D20 based systems like DND) is that I feel it is a better balance of chunky stat things vs narrative based actions. The systems is also open enough to make it fairly easy to incorporate other role-playing systems. For example, I really like Stars Without Number’s method of sector generation as it’s more comprehensive so I have been using a blend of SWN and Starforged to generate new sectors and planets. I might integrate some of the ship building and ship combat rules, but I don’t want my campaign to get too mechanically “chunky” so we’ll see.

Here’s a couple of things that I have bookmarked that I either use or have bookmarked to look into:

  • Stars Without Number: Mentioned above
  • Bucket of Bolts: Another indy solo space RPG. I really like the idea of playing through this and then integrating any characters and ships into my Starforged campaign.
  • Starship Geomorphs 2.0: In-depth ship building. It looked neat.
  • itch.io Starforged Jam: Community created extended Starforged content. The Cyberpunk playkit interests me greatly as I am enjoying Cyberpunk 2077 play #2 (inspired by watching Edgerunners).

…I also really love how the community has officially unofficially adopted the standard sized Traveler’s notebook as an analog medium for this game. I have a notebook insert and folder with laminated cheat sheets that I use during play sessions.

Happy November

I am not really great about updating this site, am I? I had a random actual/digital life update post sitting in drafts from way back in May but I think most of that is old news now. Anyhoo:

  • With the news that Japan would be opening up for tourism in October, we had quickly planned a November trip at the end of September. We actually just got back this week. Fabulous time as usual, I have a mountain of images to sort through, edit and post, which will be hopefully mostly done by next week because I kind of wanted to show them to family at Thanksgiving.
  • This is old news but my solution to needing a new personal computer and not wanting to deal with any GPU or CPU shortage was to just buy a MacBook Pro. A+, would recommend.
  • The bag that I use for my photography & adventure every day carry has once again changed, so I’ll make a post about that at some point.
  • A while back I came across a TTRPG system called Ironsworn and had bookmarked the site and put off looking into it. What I found interesting about it was that it could be played both solo and co-op. Recently-ish, Ironsworn: Starforged, a sci-fi themed followup RPG was released. I’ll make a separate post about this at some point but I have been playing it on-and-off in my spare time and it is very fun. It scratches a very specific analog creative writing/journaling, dice rolling, and world building itch. I’m really sad that I had missed the kickstarter.
  • I had this paragraph typed out in late May about how I had started up the Final Fantasy XIV trial again and was enjoying it but that phase only lasted about a month or so and I haven’t touched it since. Triple Triad for life though.
  • Finished reading Dragons of Deceit, the new Dragonlance novel on the plane trip over to Narita and started up The Expanse series. Slowly working through my reading backlog…

My Customized Traveler’s Notebook

I recently ordered and received a customized standard-sized Traveler’s Notebook from Baum-Kuchen. I have been wanting to order one for a while so as soon as they had re-opened the service, I contacted their lovely team to work out the details of my request. I have always wanted a camel Traveler’s Notebook and have always wanted a customized Traveler’s Notebook, so great opportunity to fulfill both wants.

My Tokyo Station Traveler’s Notebooks is what I have been using as my main journal for the past couple of years. I kind of baby it because it is one of my favorite souvenirs from our first trip to Japan. As such, whenever I take it anywhere, it is usually in a canvas carrier to prevent it from getting scratched up; Which is fine, but that makes it kind of a chunky thing to carry anywhere and prevents it from developing a nice patina like my passport Traveler’s Notebook. I kind of just throw my passport TN in my bag since it functions as a planner and extended wallet. Because of that, the leather has become nice and supple and broken in with a lot of character.

So the Tokyo Station TN now houses all of my travel journals from Japan along with pamphlets and other ephemera and my new customized TN is now my daily writing journal. I took my scrapbooking insert out, leaving just my journal and the sticker paper insert. Doing so slims it down quite a bit and makes it so that it actually fits in some of my bag/backpack pockets. When I feel like carrying around my scrapbook insert or sketchbook insert I can easily add either one back in as I have my TN setup to make it easy to do so.

So as far as customizations, this is what I went with. Originally I had wanted the pockets in nude but one of them was out of stock in that color so I had chosen brown instead. Thinking back, I am so glad that I went with brown as it matches the color of my pen clip and just suits my taste better.

I chose the cardholder wallet pocket on the left inside cover to store washi samples and other random card shaped slips of paper. I added my Superior Labor double pen clip holder because it’s convenient being able to hold two pens (fountain pen, and either pencil or inking pen) and also because the brown leather on the pen loops matches the brown leather on the pockets perfectly. The brass clip makes the top card pocket on the left inside cover a bit too tight for washi samples but I have found that it is the perfect size for printouts from my Polaroid Zink sticker printer.

On the right inside cover I chose the zipper pocket, which currently holds: A small plastic ruler, a fake movie prop $100 bill, weird pictures, bird stickers, scraps of paper. It’s basically a catchall for random ephemera. There is ample space under each sewn on pocket to store more items. This setup more or less matches the setup that I used with the blue canvas insert in my Tokyo Station TN. It’s a lot easier to manage with the pockets sewn in vs being another insert.

On the cover I have a quote from one of my favorite shows embossed: “There’s coffee in that nebula.” I feel that it encompasses a decent range of things that I enjoy: Coffee, Star Trek, and exploration/adventure. But seriously, I am a huge Star Trek nerd.

Hello and Happy 2022

Hello there, long time no post. I have this backlog of photos to edit in Lightroom and (maybe) post somewhere, but just haven’t gotten around to doing that for reasons. This post was actually written in July of 2021, sat in the editing queue for around 7 odd months until now, March of 2022. At some point I’ll post a picture dump of all of the cool things that we’ve done. Maybe.

So on the topic of biking. I figured out what was causing the saddle and hand pain whenever we went out to ride: The bike I was using was too big. I was using my husband’s old bike which is a men’s large. The seat to pedal distance was fine, so I figured it was fine but the problem was that it was too long, causing my to lean forward too much. Sold that bike to a friend who really needed one and who fit it perfectly, purchased a new bike which fits me perfectly. According to online measurements, I am between a small and medium, leaning towards medium. A small fit me perfectly so that is what we got. New bike has a 1×10 drivetrain instead of a 3×8.

We have gotten into GUNPLA (Gundam Plastic Model) building lately. I have always wanted to build one but for some reason, I was under the impression that the kits required painting and gluing like Warhammer or most other model kits that I have seen. Painting and gluing is beyond the barrier of entry for whatever effort I am willing to put into novice model building.

The kits are pre-painted snap fit. The only tool that you actually need is a nipper to snip the pieces off of the plastic runner and optionally, a hobby knife and maybe sand paper to clean up the nub marks. GUNPLA seems to be the natural evolution for web + likes LEGO and building things. Also a great, “It’s hot outside and I need something to do indoors” type of hobby. Many regrets not getting into GUNPLA before going to Japan or at least before everything was closed for COVID reasons.

My Travel/Photography EDC

This is what I carry with me when I am out taking pictures of stuff and/or out all day. I have finally found a bag that will hold my normal everyday carry as well as my camera, while also not being gigantic.

Codeofbell X-Pod: When I am out taking pictures, I have my camera slung around my body but I like it tucked away in a bag when doing non-photography things (I also refuse to leave my camera in the car). I specifically wanted a sling bag that was roughly the same shape and size as my other sling, but also able to function as a bum bag for biking and just large enough to hold my camera. There were a lot of bags that fit all of my stuff but they were either too big and boxy or were missing things that I really wanted. The X-pod was the only bag I looked into that was able to expand to hold quite a bit of stuff but collapse down to a fairly small size.

The shoulder strap is from another bag; It prevents sling slippage and shoulder fatigue (straps can dig into your shoulder when dragging around a chunky camera all day). The carabiner is a medium sized hero clip: Great for keeping your bag off of the ground when at a restaurant (whenever we can go to those again), hanging off of the back of airplane seats, hanging on trees, and so forth. I find that most tables and desks are too thick for anything smaller than the medium sized clip.

Camera stuff (on the blue square):

  • Sony a6400 with 18-135mm lens: I had considered getting a full frame camera, but they were either out of my price point or too large. Anything larger than a mirrorless camera is just too much of a pain in the ass to drag around.
  • Peak Design Leash: Quality of life item. I should have purchased a better camera sling a long time ago. It is easy to adjust, easy to remove, and easy to stash when not in use. I hate carrying my camera around my neck and prefer to carry it like a sling bag if that makes any sense. Carrying my camera like this however, requires constant strap length adjustment (when not in use, I like having my camera snug against my body).
  • Tenba 12” Protective Wrap: This padded wrap was like, $10 and can make any bag a camera bag. I am pretty careful, but I feel better having some layer of protective padding just in case.

Contents from top to bottom left to right:

  • Prescription sunglasses: If you wear glasses and enjoy going outside, prescription sunglasses are pretty great and also covered by vision insurance.
  • Wallet: I like men’s wallets because women’s wallets are generally too big. I don’t always carry a purse/bag and will sometimes run out for short errands/walks with just the essentials. As such, any wallet that I use must fit in the front pocket of chick jeans.
  • Pen: I always have a pen with me. There is never a functional pen whenever you really need a pen. Also, other people’s pens are gross.
  • Fenix E12 v2.0 Flashlight: For whatever reason, it’s kind of hard to find a small flashlight that doesn’t have a strobe. Great for finding cat toys under the couch and digging shit out between car seats.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Because COVID and because I like having clean hands.
  • Face Mask: Comfortable mask that folds flat. I honestly don’t see this leaving my EDC even post-COVID.
  • Anker PowerCore Fusion Power bank and random lightning cable: 5000 mAh battery that can charge two USB-A devices simultaneously and is also one of the few power banks that I have seen with foldable wall charger prongs.
  • Hygiene wipes: This is basically a larger and sturdier wet wipe. They are great for feeling less gross after all day hiking/airsoft or after using a portapotty.
  • Bandaids: You know that feeling when a new pair of shoes or socks end up rubbing the back of your ankles raw? I do and ever since then I always carry two small bandaids just in case. I also want to add a small antiseptic pad to compliment the bandaids as an emergency boo boo kit.
  • Chapstick: Dry lips sink ships.
  • Hand lotion: I absolutely loathe dry hands and must always carry hand lotion.
  • Emery board: I dislike uneven nails (not as much as dry hands though).
  • Kleenex: Because allergies.
  • Emergency hair tie: Because long hair. When not in use it’s either used as a cable tie or to keep all of the flat items together.
  • Lens cleaner wipes: Disposable alcohol pads for glasses and camera lenses. Great for removing greasy smudgy fingerprints and what not.
  • Emergency toilet paper: Cute-ass small roll of toilet paper that came in an MRE. I have this stuffed into one of the side zipper pockets.
  • Microfiber cloth: For cleaning glasses and camera lenses.
  • Emergency tampons: Better to have and not need than to need and not have.
  • Pill case: Just large enough to hold emergency migraine strength excedrine and allergy pills.
  • Emergency pad: Also better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Not pictured:

  • Apple Watch: 6th generation Apple Watch with a black sports loop band (the sweatpants of watch bands).
  • Phone: The same iPhone 11 Pro as pictured in the previous EDC post.
  • Keys: The same set of keys as pictured in the previous EDC post.
  • Folded plastic bag: I keep a folded plastic bag stuffed into one of the side zipper pockets. Useful whenever a trash bag is needed or whenever there’s something wet, etc.

The large zipper pocket in my sling is large enough to also hold my water bottle and camera if expanded all the way. I don’t ever see myself doing so as I am not into tempting fate that much. If I really feel like spending unnecessary money, I may look into purchasing a camera clip for the sling strap (placed right below the shoulder pad). I like the idea of docking my camera to the strap so that it doesn’t swing around loosely when not being held, but at the moment I don’t like the idea enough to want to spend $70 on a fancy clip…

New Damn Computer Time

Specifically, it’s new damn computer time for both my husband and I. The last time I had upgraded my system, was with a new video card in 2014; Which, for the past couple of years, hasn’t mattered too much as most games that I have played are either on the iPad, console games, optimized old-system friendly Blizzard games (WoW, Overwatch, and friends), or indie titles that will run on literally anything with a screen.

Unsurprisingly, the game that we are building a PC for is Cyberpunk 2077. Unfortunately, literally everyone on the planet is also trying to build a computer for Cyberpunk 2077 with the exact same parts. We managed to snag one R5 5600x and one RTX 3070 for my husband’s computer, but mine will have to wait until more parts are in stock (his machine no longer boots, so his rig has priority). Until then, I am satisfied with being a console peasant and enjoying Cyberpunk from the comforts out our couch. This also gives me more time I guess to look into a decent KVM Switch to switch between my work machines and gaming machine.

Here is the build. Parts are subject to change depending on availability and when I actually build the damn thing. I haven’t 100% decided on the case that I want:

ComponentCurrentNew
CPUIntel Core i7-2600AMD Ryzen R5 5600X
MotherboardAsus P8Z68-V/GEN3 ATX LGA1155MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk
Video CardRadeon R9 280Nvidia RTX 3070
MemorySamsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-13332x G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3600
StorageOS is on an SSD, data is on a large ass HDDSamsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB M2.-2280 SSD
PSUCorsair 850W ATX12VCorsair HXi 850W
CaseAntec P280Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C
CoolingCooler Master Hyper 212Noctua NH-U12S

Random Drawings

Here are a few random out-of-context items that were quickly drawn on the iPad and then texted over to my husband for one reason or another. As you can all now see, I have posted not just once, but twice in the month of October. Yay!

You should all be aware that among certain peer groups, I am considered a damn traitor for being a Dodgers fan. No hate for any other team other than The Cheaters, it’s a family thing; If you scratch deep enough, we all bleed Dodger blue over here. Also, carne asada fries are the correct thing to eat while watching the World Series. No toilets were actually destroyed.

The Little Cat has a minor ouchie on one of her paws and is thus destined to wear a cone for the next couple of days. Whatever it is that happened to her paw thankfully does not seem to hurt, but irritates her just enough where she wants to picks at it so that it doesn’t heal. Naturally, no animal enjoys the cone so alas, she was sulk napping in a sunny spot in one of the cat trees this morning with her cone-laden head drooped down like a sad sad sunflower.

Here is an obligatory picture of Ms. Sad Sunflower herself. I would like to think that the Big Cat was following her around the house out of loving concern for her wellbeing, but I am pretty certain that was just either trying to satisfy his things licking fetish or well, be a cat.

September 2020 Things

The picture isn’t related to anything in this post. I made a salad for lunch today and it was really good so I took a picture of it. The tomatoes are from my parents’ garden.

September. Just when you start to think, “Hey the summer is almost over. We should start hitting Fall weather soon” you remember that you live in Southern California and that mid August/September is the beginning of our third season: Fire season (the other two seasons being kinda warm and kinda cold). Honestly though, it’s not really that bad so long as it is a dry heat. Lately however, we have been getting periods of fairly high humidity (or us, we’re desert folk out here) and that is quite unpleasant. Yay for hiding in the AC.

I don’t really have a whole lot that I feel like posting about, but it would be a shame to buck the trend of posting here once a month so. You know. Media that we have been consuming recently:

  • The Boys season 2: Karl Urban is 🔥
  • 約束のネバーランド (Promised Neverland): Decent anime, have been watching this series on Netflix. The problem that I have with watching anime, as someone who is learning Japanese but does not yet fluently understand Japanese is that I feel caught between wanting to read the subtitles to fully understand what I am watching and wanting to watch something without reading the subtitles to both practice listening and see how much I understand.
  • Bill and Ted Face the Music: What an absolutely delightful movie lol. Exactly what I was looking for in Bill and Ted 3. Really fun.
  • Mulan: My best recommendation would be to think of this film as a movie different from well, Disney’s Mulan. I enjoyed it, but it was average at best in my opinion. The chi magic thing basically replacing Mulan’s hard work and effort was a load of shit though.

I’ve jumped back on the fitness train after slothing out for about half of the quarantine period. We are big on walking and hiking and it kind of sucks when all of the places that you usually visit are either closed or unsafe. However, it is what it is. The general goal this month is to complete all of my Apple Watch rings Every day in September. At least 3 days a week have to be some form of fairly strenuous exercise. I used to run every day, but that gets really boring so I ended up getting Ring Fit Adventure for our Switch and alternating between that and running. Pretty fun game.

I would like to get back into biking more whenever a fire isn’t blowing out gross amounts of smoke into the air (thank goodness for air filters). “Smoke” isn’t supposed to be a weather condition. I mean, I guess we can just take the bikes somewhere not-gross and ride but we don’t have a bike rack yet so taking both bikes involves taking two cars which is a mild pain in the ass.

Bonus picture of the cats snuggling up against each other on the window blanket bed that we made them.