Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Prepping and Running Games Saves Money

I have found that in the last few weeks as I prepare a Metamorphosis Alpha scenario to run at UCon, play test it online with two different groups, and end up with a weekly Saturday game and bi-weekly Sunday game, I don’t have as much time to read and browse forums and find more goodies to spend my money.

This is good. I’m not broke, and I’m not poor, I just prefer to pay cash for things, and I already have multiple game systems to choose from. Both the books and manuals I have, and many different PDFs. While I like collecting lots of different ideas for tables and how others do things, in the end, if all one does is collect bits and bobs and never runs a game, what’s the point? {I’m also going to attend ConOnTheCob in October, UCon in November, the company holiday party is in Orlando, FL in December – I finally get to go to Disney World!, Marmalade Dog in February, GaryCon in March, etc.]

Other than helping out the creators when I buy things, if I’m not running at least one game of one of the rules I already have, I’m not doing the one thing I have written so often that I want to do.

I struggle with having “enough” prepared to be comfortable. the key for me is determining what is the right “enough” to have. It doesn’t matter the game system.

By jumping in and running Metamorphosis Alpha and having a regular commitment to keep running it, my outlook has changed. The task seems much less daunting, and the myriad of excuses of why I’m not ready yet fade away.

My in person AD&D campaign with my oldest son and his girlfriend faded away when they moved in with me in the months before my granddaughter was born. Preparations for parenthood, and figuring out their new family dynamics have put that on the back burner. Thus the desire to move that campaign online and get it going that way. Starting up with a new group of people do not guarantee they would make the same choices and check out the same things as my face to face players. Once I get a bit more done with my MA online game(s), I will do more to get my AD&D game going online.

This doesn’t mean no preparation, and no ideas for suggestions for players, etc. There needs to be enough of a framework that it holds together. What this looks like will change and adapt, or it should, once players start interacting with the world. I have lots of ideas, but it is what the players do with my descriptions and starting conditions that is interesting. Watching players interact with the world I have presented and seeing them debate and struggle over courses of action, or regret actions taken, just makes the whole thing come alive. This is cooperative play/storytelling at its finest!

So I have dug in and started using all the pads, pens, dice, books, and miscellaneous notes I have gathered. The results are encouraging, and I find that I want more! I have enough ideas to keep things rolling, and the players have their own ideas, so I don’t see burnout with roleplaying as an issue. Burnout is only a threat based on how crazy busy work gets in December and January. [Oh the “joys” of being a support analyst for payroll and accounting software at year end/W-2 time, plus a new set of forms this year for the ACA.]

I don’t plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I still need to write the last few chapters of my novel, so I can start on the second draft/revisions. I know I can do it, since I have over 60,000 words that I wrote last year in November. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing the work. Like most things in life, the ad slogan, “Just Do It.” fits so well.

I have a lot of different irons in the fire, and without the distraction of all the different TV shows I watched last Fall, Winter, and Spring, I have gotten more done. It’s all about priorities, and making a decision to act on them, and following through.

Well, that’s enough stream of consciousness for now. I think I’ve convinced myself that I can do the running of games online, and that I can handle as much as I want to handle, with all the irons I have elected to have in so many fires. I can save up shows to binge watch on long weekends, or not worry about them at all. I can put as much effort into game preparation as I want, but choose to focus only on preparation that makes the most sense and has the best chance of being used in play. I can also deal with various projects around my 95 year old house, as well as down-sizing a bunch of non-gaming stuff. I like the idea of a simple life and being able to live out of a van. But I’d need most of a semi-trailer right now. My goal is to go through all my stuff and pare it down now, so in X years, when I’m gone, my sons won’t have to deal with it. I like my stuff, but gadgets and things become obsolete or lose their appeal.

NOTE: I wrote this late at night, and made one pass at it, and it shows in all my rambling and additional topics. I’m not going to go back and fix it. My point is in here. Find it if you can. LOL!

P.S. Don’t forget to talk like a pirate today, ye scurvy dogs!

Geographical Descriptions

There are tons of types of geographical features. I ran across a link that uses pictures to group geographical descriptions, but it uses pictures, so there is no easy cut & paste of the text. I have typed up all the descriptions used and put them at the end of this article.

Still, I find Useful Geographical Descriptions For Writers helpful. I saved all the pictures to my computer, in case this link goes dead. I’m a bit of a writer, I have a nearly done first draft of a novel, and DM’s/GM’s are always looking for things to spice up their descriptions. There are some pretty crazy geographical types, like different types of lakes or caves.

When building your world, some fantastic ideas just might be fueled by reality.

Meadows and Grasslands

Steppe – extensive area of treeless grassland with short grasses and less rainfall than a prairie

veld, veldt – steppe with scattered trees and shrubs (especially in Africa

tundra – extensive northern (arctic) treeless plain with mucky soil

sward – green tract of grassland or turf

lea, mead – grassland for grazing or hay

fell – high moor or barren field

moor, moorland – a tract of open, peaty, wasteland, often overgrown with heath, common in high latitudes and altitudes where drainage is poor

barrens – scruby, uncultivated ground, or land along a lagoon covered by high water

heath – an area of open uncultivated land, esp. in Britain, with characteristic vegetation of heather, gorse, and coarse grasses

croft – yard or field used as a household kitchen garden or for a few farm animals

paddock – a small field or enclosure where horses are kept or exercised

boondocks – an uninhabited area with thick natural vegetation, as a backwoods or marsh

Hill, Mountains, and Valleys

knoll, hillock, barrow (British) – small and rounded hill

downs – rolling grassy upland with few trees

plateau – extensive flat-topped land elevation that rises steeply on at least one side

mesa, butte – isolated steep hill or small mountain

pike, peak, summit – top of a mountain

glacial horn, horn of the mountain, pyramidal peak – an angular, sharply-pointed mountain peak which results from the cirque erosion due to multiple glaciers diverging from a central point

aerie, eyrie – elevated place

palisade, palisades – cliff formation or line of cliffs

dell, glen – small and nestled (usually wooded) valley

hollow, combe – deep and narrow valley

vale, dale – valley

scree – rocky debris on a mountain slope

fumarole – volcanic vapor hole

maar – Extinct volcano crater often containing a lake or marsh

Trees and Bushes

bower, bowery – leafy tree-enclosed nook or recess (also the nest of a bowerbird)

arbor – a leafy, shady recess formed by tree branches, usually manmade

grove – small group of grouping of trees (usually without undergrowth

weald – wooded or uncultivated country

timberland – land covered with timber-producing forests

thicket – cluster of shrubs or small trees

bosk (adj. bosky) – a small wood or thicket, especially of bushes

copse, grove – grove or thicket of small trees

coppice – a thicket or dense growth of small trees or bushes, esp. one regularly trimmed back to stumps so that a continual supply of small poles and firewood is obtained; copse

underbrush, undergrowth – shrubs, saplings, low vines, etc., growing under the large trees in a wood or forest

canebrake – thicket of cane

deciduous – describing a tree or forest with foliage that falls off annually

bough – a branch of a tree, especially of the larger or main branches

hinterland – the remote parts of a country, or back country

Deserts and Miscellaneous

sand dunes, dunes – a mound or ridge of sand or other loose sediment formed by the wind, esp. on the sea coast of in a desert

playa – an area of flat, dried-up land, esp. a desert basin from which water evaporates quickly

arroyo – a dry desert gully

hogback – an eroded, steeply tilted ridge of resistant rocks with equal slopes on the sides

hoodoo – a column or pillar of bizarre shape caused by differential erosion on rocks of different hardness

chaparral – vegetation consisting chiefly of tangled shrubs and thorny bushes

karst – landscape underlain by limestone that has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes, and other characteristic land forms

salt flats, salt pans – flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun

oasis, watering hole, spring – a fertile spot in a desert where water is found

seep – a place where petroleum or water oozes slowly out of the ground

tar pit – a hollow in which natural tar [asphalt] accumulates by seepage

Rivers, Oceans, and Wetlands

Watersmeet – junction of two rivers

headwaters – river’s upper tributaries

ford – shallow area of water that can be waded across

levee – a ridge of sediment deposited naturally alongside o river by overflowing water, or an embankment built to prevent the overflow of a river

delta – river mouth’s often fan-shaped sedimentary plain

estuary, frith – sea’s juncture with a river’s mouth

strait – connecting passage between two large bodies of water

riverain – pertaining to or like a riverbank

sandspit – small jutting of sand or gravel at water’s edge

lagoon – shallow pond near a body of water

tarn – small mountain lake with steep banks

millpond – a pond for supplying water to drive a mill wheel

loch – a lake or partially landlocked or protected bay

mere – (British) a lake or pond

sluice, sluiceway – an artificial channel for conducting water, often fitted with a gate (sluice gate) at the upper end for regulating the flow

narrows, straits, channel – a narrow channel connecting two larger areas of water

gulf – extensive sea inlet

fjord – sea inlet that is narrow and has steep sides or cliffs

cay, key – low coral island or visible reef

atoll – ring-like coral island or reef surrounding a lagoon

shingle – pebbled or stony beach

shoal – shallow place in a sea or river

eddy – small whirlpool

bog, fen – tract of low and wet spongy ground

tideland – low land subject to flood tides

tide flat – flat and usually muddy tideland

bracken – rough or marshy tract of land with one kind of vegetation (shrubs or ferns)

swale – moist low-lying land (usually pineland)

causeway – raised path or road across water or a marsh

cape – land formation jutting into the sea or other large body of water

headland,promontory – elevated land area juttying over the sea or other large body of water

floe – sheet of floating ice

hoarfrost, hoar – frost (Middle-English)

rime, rime ice – an opaque coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles most commonly seen on tree branches

snowdrift, snowbank – a mound or bank of snow driven together by the wind

permafrost – (in arctic or subarctic regions) perennially frozen subsoil

sleet – ice pellets created by the freezing of rain as it falls (distinguished from hail)

Caves, Cliffs, and Rocks

grotto, cavern, hollow – underground or rock-walled chamber

stalactite, dripstone – icicle-like formation hanging in a cave

stalagmite – icicle-like formation on the floor of a cave

flowstone – rock deposited as a thin sheet by precipitation from flowing water

bluff, precipice – a cliff, headland, or hill with a broad, steep face

crag – a steep, rugged rock; rough, broken, projecting part of a rock

scarp – a line of cliffs formed by the faulting or fracturing of the earth’s crust; an escarpment

rocky outcrop – part of a rock formation or mineral vein that appears at the surface of the earth

bedrock – unbroken solid rock, overlaid in most places by soil or rock fragments

rubble – broken bits and pieces of rock, through demolition, quarry, or natural processes

scree – a steep mass of detritus (or rubble) on the side of a mountain

slag – coal waste or waste obtained from smelting ore

gulch, gully – a deep narrow ravine, a ditch or gutter

gorge – a narrow cleft with steep, rocky walls, especially one through which a stream runs.

crevasse – a fissure or deep cleft in the earth’s surface.

stack – a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sear near a coast, formed by erosion

stone run – rock landform resulting from the erosion of particular rock varieties caused by myriad freezing-thawing cycles

inselberg, monadnock, kopje (Dutch), bornhardt – an isolated rock hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain

promontory, headland (over water) – prominent mass of land that overlooks lower-lying land or a body of water

cenote – a natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath

tor – a large, free-standing residual mass (rocky outcrop) that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest

New Computer

I took the plunge and bought a new computer at CostCo over my lunch break. I went their the first time Monday after work and got a few things I need for Thursday and a few extras, and saw this good deal on a PC. It is Windows 7 Pro. I could have spent a bit more for more RAM, but it had Windows 8, and I don’t want to take the time to learn where everything is. If my company wants me to learn Windows 8, they can buy me a new computer. I can always order more RAM, assuming it has another slot, or it can handle a larger RAM chip. It was under $400, so I’m not stretched too thin.

The weekly online AD&D game I play in is a go for tonight, so I don’t know if I’ll manage to get home and get it set up in time for the game.

I also haven’t started my preparations of food for tomorrow (Thanksgiving in the USA). My parents taught all their children to cook, not just my baby sister. My boys like what I fix, and I maintain the tradition I got from my parents. My oldest son’s girlfriend said that my efforts last year were on par with her father’s, so I know she’s a keeper.

I also need to focus on the last few chapters of my first draft for NaNoWriMo and wrap up my hex for Tenkar’s Landing, I mean Eilean Dubh – The Black Isle by the end of November.

Thankfully, I have the day off on Monday the 1st.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!

50,123 words for NaNoWriMo.

I have made the goal of writing 50,000 words in November. Now I just need to wrap this thing up.

50,000 words is not as difficult to achieve as it sounds. Getting to the point that there is an interesting story that others will want to read and enjoy it, that is the trick.

Now to get this story moving to a conclusion….

I hope to have a complete first draft by the end of the month.


NaNoWriMo 2014 Update

I tried NaNoWriMo in 2010 and didn’t get past the second day, I did 3,133 word. Things came up that soon derailed my efforts.

My novel idea is one I have had since college, just a few years ago (ahem!), and ideas and things keep coming to mind. I would see articles online, and email them to myself to add to my Novel label in Gmail.

I did figure out how to make the story “work” in 2010 with a central theme it all hangs on. This year, I am picking up the torch and trying to finish this thing. It’s a fantasy/science fiction story.

I am ahead and can’t believe I’ve passed 22,000 words of new stuff, and I didn’t write for a couple days. I have another commitment on Wednesdays – the weekly G+/Roll20 game I play in, so I have at least one day off from writing each week. I write a chapter at a time. I just figure out what the goal/idea is for the chapter and start writing, but picking up where the last chapter left off. I am amazed at the way the ideas are coming together. Most of it is like a detailed outline with more action and little dialogue. I am disciplining myself and not correcting every little error as I type. I only correct words that I need to be right to make sense when I come back to it. I make a tentative chapter title to describe the goal/theme to write for the next chapter. I just start writing and it comes out. It may not be any good, but it mostly makes sense. It is definitely better than the junk I tried to write in the dark ages back in high school.

I plan to write until I finish the last chapter. I figure there are 4 or 5 chapters for the end/resolution/conclusion, but I have a lot of middle to do. I didn’t do a formal outline, I just know where I want to go with it and how it ends. December and January are my busiest time of year at work, so I will let it sit and work on the second draft sometime after January. Famous last words.

What’s funny is that I haven’t picked the name of the hero, so I just write Hero. I figure I can do a search and replace when I settle on a name.

I think that it has helped that I have more than one blog and for this one I have an article almost every day, often writing multiple articles in a single sitting and then scheduling their publication into the future. I did the April 2014 A to Z challenge for two blogs, one for genealogy and this one. I figured out my topic for each day and had most of them done before the end of the first week. Normally, I have a terrible time coming up with topics. But as I get into this blogging thing and striving for an article a day, it seems that all writing is easier.

I use the programmable text editor NoteTab. I set up an outline document with my notes and miscellaneous ideas and one topic per day. If I write more than one chapter, and keep going, I make a new topic for the same day, but do A,B, etc. I then copy and paste each day’s writing into a single document and use the built-in word count feature.

[EDIT 11/10/2014] I wrote this post a few days ago and scheduled it to post today. I am now over 30,000 words. It is pretty clear that I will exceed 50,000 words in writing this book, at least for a first draft. Amazing!

NaGaDeMon – 2014

On Wednesday, I wrote about my considering whether or not to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2014. I had mentioned thhat I had seen things online about similar ideas for designing games. Well, I ran across an article at The Savage Afterworld that discusses NaGaDeMon – National Game Design Month, also the month of November.

While I don’t have a game idea, I thought I’d mention it here, in case anyone else has the inspiration for a game idea and just needs a little push to get started.

I would recommend that anyone contemplating a Kickstarter for a game, use NaGaDeMon as an opportunity to either develop your idea, or to polish your game, so that you have something that you can be proud of and people who support such a Kickstarter will be glad they did so.

I will be signing up for NaNoWriMo 2014 and will be cranking out my first draft of a novel. Just writing about it on Wednesday caused some ideas to bubble up, so I have some things that have solidified in my idea of the story. Not specific dialog, but plot points, or turning points in my story that have to be hist along the way for it to work. I have also identified points that are critical for the success of the story. Some resolution of points that are required to bring it to a successful closure.

For me, a successful closure for a short story, novella, novel, or series of books is where the how and whys are answered sufficiently to leave the reader satisfied, yet still wanting more. How many of us have read a book and when we get to the end are left scratching our head trying to figure out what happened. Some books are this way intentionally, and a well crafted one, you can tell. But if you have ever read a story where the author just couldn’t wrap it up and make it make sense, you know what I mean.

In my story idea, I know how I want it to end, but there is a big hole of how to make it make sense with the rest of the story. This is one of those things that as I write, it will gel and it should not be a problem to make it work. However, if I can’t make the why does this need to happen in the story work, I will have to change how I envision the story ending. If I can pull off the ending I envision, it could lead to a second story/book. That is not my goal, but is an idea that has occurred to me.

I also have tons of other ideas coming to me about my hex in the Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting. I will have to add those ideas as either drafts or full-fledged ideas to my blog, since some are worthy of an article others may find useful.

I am glad that the ideas are flowing, but it would be nice if they would get in line so I could get them all down before they fade into the ether….


NaNoWriMo 2014

I first attempted NaNoWriMo in 2010. Wow, that’s four years ago! My how time flies. I got a good start on an idea I had over 20 years ago in college and never wrote it down. It is one of those ideas that keeps percolating to the top over the years. However, it was a hectic time, and I did not maintain any regularity in my writing.

I debate this every year, of whether to dig in again. The last three years, November has always seemed to sneak up on me.

This year, I have known it was coming, and I have been more regular in my blogging, mostly on this blog, but some on some other topical blogs.

I also write a lot for work, but it is mostly emails, writing up support calls or logging bugs, and some technical writing for how-tos, knowledge base articles, and help files. Not quite the same as creative writing.

I want to blow the dust off and crank out this novel to get it out of my head. That’s how a lot of my ideas work, or thoughts that burden me. If I write them out, I can let them go.

Of course, I want my great novel to make me rich. Enough to retire my debts so I can have the kind of retirement my Grandad had would be enough. He always had enough and paid his bills and didn’t have to resort to being a Wal-Mart greeter, although he had the kind of personality that he would have excelled at it.

I know some people have used it to write their RPGs and board games. There have even been game design contests to design a game in a set amount of time, some in 24 or 48 hours, others in the course of a month.

I have remembrances of games my brother and our friends made up, but I don’t think I have anything close to rules or even a character that has survived the 30+ years since then. I’m not sure I have any ideas for a “new” game that would gather much interest. I would be better at writing a module, a supplement, or maybe my own maps to an existing game or genre of games.

So, I hem and haw and delay my decision. Just over 1,600 words a day, about four times as many as in this post. That’s not unreachable. I easily crank out posts on this blog over 2,000 words. The idea is to kick start a first draft, which is the hard part. Once that is out there, the editing, honing, and rearranging can begin to get the second draft and something worth sharing with others.

Part of me really wants to do this, part of my flurry of blog posts that I am building up in my buffer tonight is avoiding another creative project. So, I must get the blog post ideas out of my head, so I can focus on the other project.

If I get my other creative project out of the way before Friday, I will do NaNoWriMo 2014. I must focus and persevere!