Trying to be funny

- Grant's Adventures in Norwich and Beyond -

old pictures, new pictures
here it is 2006

and here it is 2016

what a palaver

To Mary (Blog like it's the end of the world)

In case you're interested - I don't know how I'm posting this either. Whoever's broadcasting the signal I've been stealing for a year and a half is still broadcasting it, despite what you hear about the networks going down all over the place. Maybe there's more to them than meets the eye. If my laptop was working maybe I could try and track them down by clambering across the rooftops out of my bathroom window and seeing where the signal's stronger. But it's not, and I can't clamber over fucking rooftops anyway.

But yes.  Whatever. I'll be dead by the time you read this. If you're reading, sweetheart, I love you, and I'm sorry. I hear that people in trains might be okay - they're basically armoured - but I don't know if anyone on there had it.  They would have turned by now. I guess you can shut the doors off and give up sections. I hope you're okay. Hope you're not trapped in an armoured, airless box with them. I heard there was some military action going on in Wales, so maybe they got to you in time.  Sure as hell didn't get to me.

I had a friend round today - George - and we chatted. He didn't look well. I couldn't have told, you know? I couldn't have told what was wrong with him. We were having a smoke out back and he collapsed, went straight white and hit his head.  I dragged him into the kitchen and tried to phone an ambulance, but no-one picked up. That's when I got scared, I guess.

I put the TV on and, yeah, well, we all saw it. I caught it late on as I'd been painting NERF guns and reading D&D .pdfs all day, and - and, yeah. Outbreak. I went upstairs to get a wet towel - got knows why, it seemed like the thing to do, I didn't think it could make the situation any worse - and when I got back down, George was on his feet. Blood dripping from where he'd cut his head spattered on the white kitchen tiles, and when I walked up to put the towel on the wound he rushed me. All nails and teeth and dead eyes, not even looking at me - I fell, I didn't know what the hell was going on - and managed to kick him back into the middle of the room. Plates and glasses smashed everywhere. Push myself up on broken glass and shattered plates and my hand starts pissing blood but he's still coming, and I manage to shoulder him into the bathroom.  He trips over the bag of potatoes I'd moved when the washing machine broke, cracks his head on the sink, and cries out. Moans.  I slammed the door shut and thew stuff in front of it - chairs, mainly, and the stepladder.

I was freaking out, and bleeding, and I staggered upstairs again - tried to pick the glass out of my hand but it hurt too much so I just bandage it - first with bandages, then with an old t-shirt. I got blood on some of your clothes. I'm sorry. I'm typing this one-handed.

That was four hours ago, and I'm a bit more stable now. I've managed to sit down and not just pace up and down. I walked downstairs a couple of times to get food, but he's in the part of the house where the pantry is so it's mostly fridge stuff and that packet of digestives that your family didn't eat and I subsequently stole.  I drank the milk before it got warm and was sick out the window. Can't keep anything down. I drew some faces on the digestives with the icing we got for Charlie's cake. I gave one of them curly hair. I can't eat that one.

George is up and keeps banging on the door and crying.

On one of my trips downstairs, someone smashed through the downstairs front window - they didn't make a big hole, but I think they got stuck in the glass. I wasn't thinking straight. I should have put the coffee table in front of it first thing. Wasn't thinking. All this Zombie experience and I didn't block off the window. I guess you always figure you'll have friends with you when it happens.  Rushed upstairs - dropped the food, by the way - and pushed the big dresser full of props down the stairs.  It came open halway down and jammed nicely.

I had a look at my hand, and it's black. Is that normal? The wounds are all black. I don't think it's normal. I don't know. Wikipedia doesn't have anything to say. I think some of my blood must have mixed with George's when I cut my hand in the kitchen.  I think I've got whatever they've got. Maybe it's stress and fear and hunger, I mean, I've got enough of those to last me a lifetime.

So - Mary, I hope you read this, I hope you're still alive, I hope you manage to set up a life for yourself reporting the infection. I'm so sorry. The end of the world happened and we couldn't do it together. I figured I'd always have your back and I've let you down. I've set out some stuff on the bedroom floor -  my wedding ring, my surplus headspace, and the original draft of my ringwords. I think they'll do. I think they'll sum me up. I'm taking the book you wrote me.

I'm going. I'm going to stay awake until they break through the window and start on the dresser or until I'm sure I'm going to turn. I can get down into the back yard and then out into the countryside along the train tracks.  Mary, I'm going to find you, or I'm going to die out there. I'm not staying here to rot so they can find my body, shambling around our bedroom. I'm not going to let them take what we had. They can't poison that. Whatever happens, we had a beautiful life together.

I don't know how to get to Wrexham. I guess I'll find out.

Love you loads. Stay alive.

G x

A choose your own adventure game about sex (part 1)
This is in two parts.  Open this and the one below to play.  Good luck, adventurer!



A Choose-your-own-Adventure Game



more behind the cut...Collapse )

A choose your own adventure game about sex (part 2)
This is two posts long.  Open this post and the post above it to play.  Good luck, adventurers!


cut for lengthCollapse )

Fantasy Class - The Martialist: A Review

The Martialist - Review


The Martialist is a complete class for D&D 4e from Fantasy Cartographic, a rather hefty .pdf file giving full rules for this enigmatic class of unarmed fighter along with various magical items and several handfuls of suitable feats to cover their progression.


Production values


The document is neatly-produced and conforms to the house style of powers laid down in the 4e rulebooks very well i.e. green for at-wills, red for encounters, etc. Unlike the 4e books, though, it contains full power cards to print out and use at games, and lists of exploits by both level and name.  These are welcomed and a useful quick-reference technique, especially if you've yet to print out the .pdf.  It's worth mentioning that these pages take up a sizeable chunk of that pagecount, however.


The art – of which there are around four pieces – has the saving grace of not being the worst art I have seen in a roleplaying product. Martial artists crossed with barbarian-types are the order of the day, and they universally possess  thighs big and hard enough to crack walnuts and warrant zoning permits.  Take a look at that guy on the front cover. Look at his left thigh, and tell me he’s entirely human.




The gist of the martialist is covered in a backstory that takes up a page in the introduction and crops up throughout the supplement; a fantasy prison full of tieflings and dragonborn that developed the ability to efficiently murder each other using only their hands and feet who were released into the countryside and had the good manners to spread their particular method of efficient murder with the other inhabitants of the world.


I'm not overly convinced by the fluff - as thin on the ground as it is, with the opening page and several scattered paragraphs that get in the way of the power descriptions that detail the exploits of martialists and their "inferior" compatriots, often throwing their enemies off nearby cliffs to resolve conflicts.  It seems tacked-on, but that's not exactly breaking with tradition in terms of vanilla D&D at all levels of production - the setting is largely assumed, there's both a) dungeons and b) dragons, and some stuff in between, but it's not vital to learn precisely why Warlocks do what they do with in-character history text. The text is more intrusive than helpful overall.


The opening story contains a reference to the magical material known as "crumblestone," which crumbles when struck against human flesh or anything harder.  Everything in the prison is crafted out of the stuff, which curtails the initial use of the facility as a forced mining camp and must have made mealtimes pretty difficult. Crumblestone must be pretty expensive - it's useless enough to be rare as I can't imagine that there would be a great demand for the stuff, and someone has to mine it (somehow) and craft it (somehow) and deliver the items to the prison (without them breaking against each other), and then replace items when they're dropped or passed between hands or looked at funny. Seeing as the prisoners aren't making money - and are, in fact, costing quite a bit of money - surely execution would have been a better plan all round?


Also, crumblestone is a silly name.




Character rules


The Martialist (now I write it out properly, I'm beginning to think it's a very generic name - "Brawler," perhaps?) fights, as mentioned, without conventional weapons and instead uses the array of natural weapons that the class can train in - fist, "weak-fist", kick, headbutts, body, etc.  This is a welcome change from the standard, in that characters are offered a variety of weapon options within their weaponless class - and 4e is all about variety, as we are well aware.


As the Martialist class builds are competing within the already oversubscribed field of Martial Striker, they've covered their bases as well as they can - options range from "hit people really hard in the face" to "grab people and hurt them" and finally "not get hit by people and subsequently hit them." In a world where martial characters have to compete with clerics pulling magic beams of light down from the heavens and barbarians morphing into predator beasts, they’ve got their work cut out for them to stand out from the crowd.


Martialists achieve this by placing their role as striker in the forefront of their character development – much like the fighter, they hit people, and the details can be worked out afterwards – and in play they operate in a style somewhere between an American football blitzer and a pro wrestler, getting to their intended target not by misdirection, stealth or teleportation but slamming into anything that gets in their way and chucking it aside en route.


It’s a welcome change of pace for the striker, but it’s one fraught with danger as the Martialist lacks an abundance of evasive powers.  Too often they are bogged down by the grunts that they wish to evade and their general badassery isn’t backed up by enough hitpoints to make secondary tanking an option.


That said, there are various cocktails of attacks and exploits that can be lined up into special moves – at first level it is possible - as an encounter power - to punch a creature in the face for double damage and get a 5ft bonus to an immediate jump check.  This power alone opens up some exciting tactics, and the various disabling and debuffing attacks can really ruin someone’s day.


The various options are certainly interesting, but let down somewhat by their names which range from anachronistic (Faceplant) to needlessly alliterative (Feast of Foot and Fist) to oddly artistic (Martialist as Vice) to uninspiring (Deliberately Slow) to unthreatening (Calming Push) to just plain daft (To Dance, Perchance to Die).




A huge list of feats accompanies the character creation rules giving a wide variety of options for character development, as long as those options fall within the bounds of “hit people harder with specific parts of my body.” There’s nothing in the way of character building in terms of rules, although the option for tieflings to nut people with their horns is a pleasing concept. Given the unarmed nature of the Martialist, many of their feats improve their damage dice and offer a straight mechanical benefit, superseding the usefulness of other, more characterful, feats.




Also included are full magic item rules for martialists, unable as they are to use most magic armour and weapons.  Limited as they are to cloth and leather, most of their items are wrapped around a particular extremity and brought into violent contact with an assailant.  The list is comprehensive and well-thought out, although the multiple parts of the body used by martialists as requirements of certain exploits limit the overall effectiveness of any one magic item.


In closing


If you can’t wait until the release of the monk in PHB3 - and have a burning desire to punch things to death - then this class is a viable option. It’s functional enough and contains comprehensive information on how to include this new class into an existing campaign setting, but it’s stuck with an inescapable thirdpartyness, a lack of polish in both prose style and rule cohesion, that prohibits it from being a great supplement.


Ben picked 7 of my out-of-date interests, now look where we are
Double Acting

Double Acting is my favourite means of communication.  Any of your who've been in the room at the same time as ai_wintermute and myself will become aware of it; communicating as though the whole process is merely for other people's enjoyment.  In double-acting there is often a straight man and a funny man, and I was more often straight than funny, but the roles are fluid and more often than not you'll swap multiple times throughout. We love it when other people laugh or join in; I, of course, get too keen and start joking too hard, too fast, and Chris was always good at either keeping the reins on me or using my comedic spaz to boost the overall performance.

It got to the point when we'd do it when no-one else was around.  It was an art form, a means of constructing and spinning jokes from nothing, and we'd do it for the satisfaction of a job well done.  If it broke, we'd analyse where it stopped being funny, or what would have made it funnier.  There are echoes of it still in my speech patterns but it's why I'm so faltering, so inept at social interaction; only half of the conversational strength that I'd like to use is present.


No-brainer, this one; Librarians are hot.

I mean, you know, not actual librarians.  Can't say that I've seen many attractive librarians, to be honest - Librarians here is a work of fetish, a tag for "women with long hair tied back maybe, white button up shirts, some form of black skirt of exciting tightness, and let's not forget the glasses." It's not an uncommon fetish, I believe. The Mage cabal I set up back in Apocalypse days was based solely around attractive women dressed as librarians following me around while I mashed stuff up with a hammer.  (Only lasted three games, apparently women don't like having to be in close proximity to something shouting that loudly and often)


I'm not patriotic by a long shot, never really got the concept to be honest, but I am in fact British and for some reason I felt it necessary to write this down on my interests list.  Really?  I just am British.  It's not a hobby.  I didn't put "being tall" or "hating Jeremy Kyle" on there, you know?  They're all just instrinsic parts of who I am.

Still, some British things are fantastic and I will collate a short list here, most are food -

Cream scones and strawberry jam
Fish and chips
Sitting on soft warm grass as the sun goes down and the whole world smells of summer, maybe there's a girl there too, why not
Excessive politeness
Bowler hats
Actually I've just sort of run out


Sad to say, but my love of tea (forged in the depths of first year to give me an excuse to talk to people) has all but abated thanks to tremendously poor tea at work and having to get up in the morning, meaning that coffee is now the order of the day.  I drink around five cups a day, the recommended maximum, mainly as a tool to stay interested at work.  Fascinating what enough caffiene will do to you.

Plus black coffee is better with cigarettes and the combination of both is the emotional equivalent of bloody kevlar.

Italian Food

Strange to limit myself so much, really.  Italian food's okay; hard pressed to say why, precisely, which is dull.  It's generally good.  By the way, you should check out my new interests page.  Got some far more interesting interests on there which I wish I was writing about now.


I like guns. Not actual guns, mind - horrible things, they hurt a whole bunch of people and rarely make life better for anyone involved - but fake guns, man, they're the mutt's nuts.  I'm currently hovering somewhere between two revolvers (or one big revolver) and the good old-fashioned pump action shotgun as to which is the best.

In my head, I am generally carrying some sort of gun at all times.  You know, like a protagonist might.  Not in a creepy murderer way, you understand.  You are welcome to take me on in a pretend gunfight at any point you wish, but I warn you, I'm very quick on the imaginary draw.

Also good are weight of fire, like a full platoon of Imperial guard opening up or the delicate eggshell balance that is trying to operate a powerful NERF gun without it jamming.


A common reason for not being vegetarian, I'm similarly in love with bacon.  It has been in three of the last four meals I have eaten. It rarely makes a meal worse, and if by some freak accident it does, I would argue that it's the meal's fault and you shouldn't malign bacon like that, you bastard, what's it ever done to you.

Recently I made leeks, bacon and cubed potato all fried up with a cheese sauce and it was so tasty I want to immortalise it in a pasty.

Following that mission statement
So, on a day off because I was too tired to move, I have -

- Slept two bonus hours (yay)
- Participated on a D&D rap battle on /tg/ that is still proceeding - I'm not very good, but i'm having a go
- Wrote up a load of Zombie rules but even I am tiring of fiddling with wordings
- Drawn a lady (Miss Yoko Matsugane, after a recommendation from the dude who draws Penny Arcade) from a photograph, not what's in my head, and it's worked out pretty well - doesn't look much like her but could pass for human, at least
- Not eaten enough food
- Drunk too much coffee

So, in short, very little.  But I have achieved some stuff, and that's a good thing.  Plus every day I come up with more horrible things to put my Dark Heresy players through.  I think I might bet getting tired of being one of those "nice" GMs.

Mission statement
In reaction to the dawning realisation that I am losing my creative nature, I am hereby to provisionally live during my free time according to the following mission statement:

Form opinions - discover stuff - get your creative faculties back - argue - make people laugh - be passionate about things - have a good time

These will be achieved through the following outlets (outlets subject to change at any given time).  If anyone has any advice on how they can achieved, please contact me.

1) Drawing - life drawing - learn how to draw faces, hands and feet with relative accuracy.  Also learn to draw in clean, anime-esque style.  Become confident enough to draw on clean A3 paper with a fineline sharpie.  Broaden range of potential composition and subjects.

2) Singing - jazz, blues, acoustic, whatever - sing, do it in front of people, become good enough to make singing in front of people a reality, join a band, join a choir, whatever.

3) Writing - read detective/horror/comedy/whatever books that I haven't read before, watch films, absorb as many new ideas and culture as possible, explore different forms of art (theatre, music, poetry, etc).

4) Self-image - get a haircut.  Modify the Wheel of Fortune tarot card art to my liking and have it tattooed inbetween shoulderblades.  Save money to buy decent pair of glasses - bold, thick-framed ones.

5) Smoke - well, inhale - buy a vaporiser and open up the world of smoking again.

6) Employment - apply for at least 1 new job a week, preferably in marketing/creative but admin would do.

7) Write - anything; plots, gear, fluff, stories, background, character sketches, comedy scenes, nerdcore rap lyrics, meandering free prose - write, all the time, write so it isn't sacred any more and flows like it used to.

8) Become aware - buy a newspaper occasionally, read it, form opinions of what you have read and discuss them with others.  Read the news on the internet.  Get a greater grasp on technology than you currently possess.


Today I walked around the city centre with a bunch of lovely gay people. 

There were only six people who didn't like us doing it (aside from the people who were stuck in buses, but w/e) and all they did was hold up signs with confusing slogans on it - general message is that we were going to go to hell, I think, someone was - but a lot of big lesbians blew them kisses or booed them, and I think we won overall as there were like six hundred people on our side and six on theirs. 

Although they had God on their side, and he must be at least 594 people.  Well, anyway.

There was dancing and drums and whistles and chips and apparently we won theatre tickets because we entered a raffle and yay.  It was an awesome and really positive day and a great turnout.

And tonight I will have enchiladas for tea, and tomorrow we are buying a tent.

Gosh, though, it's been a bloody age since I posted.  If one was to read my previous posts you would think that I've done nothing but get steadily more depressed since January!

Which is, actually, sort of true.  But not interesting.  Two weeks ago I had one of those revelatory moments while I was writing - proper, frenzied, you-could-do-this-in-a-film writing - and due to some arcane moving in the chemical tumbler lock of my consciousness, I worked out how to be okay again.  It faded - as revelations do, alas - but the echoes of it are there like a song I can't quite hear, and everything's doing better.  Not that you cared.  Anyway!  News!

I am going to start running a Dark Heresy radicals game, thanks to the gneral lack of giveafuck all round.  This will have some Serious Roleplay in it with Genuine Moral Decisions like, and I really hope that it works out.  I am currently trying to come up with some sort of horrible initiation ceremony for the acolytes, coupled with the horrible first mission.  My horror gaming abilities may come in well here, I reckon.

I had shaved my beard - gasp! - but you knew this, because I did it a month ago now.  But you may not have seen me since then, in which case hello, I have no beard.  Well.  I have a beard that outlines the edges of my massive face like some sort of hirsuite Maginot line, keeping the boundaries of my face in and everything else out.  Not that there is much of anything else in this world.

I am still not smoking - go me - and the pillar of sanity that smoking provided has now sort of been replaced with the pillar that not smoking provides, which is awesome but makes it significantly harder to get up some mornings.  Although not coughing up lung-jellyfish is always a good thing, and I can walk uphill now.

I have Actually Decided on the Actual Tattoo I am Probably going to get, and I'm not going to say what it is or post an image of anything because I am a) a bit poor and b) a bit of a wuss and I may well drop out, especially as the image is going to be larger than A5 size.  But it sums up what I think is awesome and what I think is important in one neat image.

You know what?  Being at work for a year really knackers your brain.  I can't write or argue properly anymore, which is a shame, because those are the two things that I used to do more than anything.  A full year of corporate nonsense has eroded the facilities I would have used to vocally disagree with people and then write about it, something which I was a big fan of back in my University days.  I think I am also less of a jerk, although how of a good thing that is I'm not entirely certain.

That'll do.  Next time I promise I'll have something interesting, just you wait and see if I don't.


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