Answers at Last

6/24/05: I've had a Blue Room FAQ on the site for a long time, now, but it's been "in beta," all that time. I never wanted to call it "Version 1.00" until I actually addressed the really most Frequently Asked Questions: questions about the sourdough page. That darned article has been swamping me with email (most of it very friendly and grateful, I'm happy to say) for years, now, and I've finally taken a little time to distill some of the most common queries into FAQ form. So, after a long and quiet buildup, I can now officially say that the Blue Room really has a FAQ! While I was in there, I also spiffed a few other entries, added this or that, and so on, so give it a browse and you may find it interesting reading. If, on the other hand, you're feeling more visual today, Sandra and I are both posting images over at DeviantART nowadays. Give 'em (hers and mine) a peek!

Bruce Wayne Begins

6/20/05: Sandra and I caught Batman Begins over the weekend, and (based mainly on some things Christian Bale said in a TV interview) I went in expecting something pretty good. We both walked out of the theater satisfied that we'd got something far, far better than "pretty good;" Batman Begins is thrilling, engaging, and laced through with genuine and fairly intense human emotion. I had no reason at all to expect that from a Batman movie, but I'm all kinds of grateful for it.

I'm still not happy to see bats wearing a tube of sculpted tire rubber in lieu of his costume. It limits the actor's movement severely, so Batman is reduced, mostly, to standing (very) straight, hanging from things, and gliding - and he should be a character as physically dynamic as Spider-Man, in his own way. Yes, yes, body armor yadda yadda. But if they can posit a memory-fabric glider-cape they can posit a costume that would allow Christian Bale to bend at the waist. I think the main reason that the film relies so heavily on blurry close-ups in the fight scenes (even the earlier, pre-costume ones) is to get the audience used to the fact that anything acrobatic will be implied rather than shown. And Christian: you are a new action-movie god, make no mistake, but the "Batman voice" was a bit much at times. There are a few times, too, where it's easy to guess where cuts were made for time, little dangling story concepts here and there.

But all that amounts to the picking of microscopic nits from the surface of such a gorgeous and riveting movie. Much of it also borders on the irrelevant, since Batman is barely present in Batman Begins. No capes or cowls (helmets?) until the latter third of the movie, and even then, the film absolutely refuses to let the Caped Crusader dominate a movie that's almost dishonestly named after him (in a sense, it pulls off all the tricks that Hulk couldn't quite manage, up to and including the father-son motif). Batman Begins is one part honest-to-gosh pulp adventure, one part serious human drama, and just a sprinkling of "superhero" movie. In nearly every frame, the focus remains on the film's many excellent human performances: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Katie Holmes and Gary Oldman all make contributions to the film nearly as crucial as Bale's. Oldman's version of Jim Gordon - a scrawny, goodhearted mustache of a man - was particularly surprising to me. I didn't know what to expect from Oldman (I've seen him in far too many wacked-out-villain roles, I guess) and again, it was just layer on layer of pleasant surprise. I like how they made Lucius Fox the kind of "Q" to Bruce's Bond, too - it makes Fox more than just a canny businessman in the background, and let's someone else shoulder the gadget-making nonsense to let Bruce remain as human and believable as possible. Plus, any excuse to let Morgan Freeman get paid be Morgan Freeman is worthwhile. My favorite character is probably Alfred ... Michael Caine balances the wit and the warmth so perfectly you just want to hug the man. And finally, I was very impressed that Katie Holmes was more than just an obligatory skirt. They could have very easily spent one scene establishing her crusade and then shoved her to the back of the frame (the tradition with that stock character in this stock genre), but there's none of that here: she remains a constant force in the story, and (along with Alfred) plays a solid checkpoint for Bruce's morals and sanity - both of which cross a few lines and dangle at the edge of a precipice or two.

So anyway, I'm rambling. But I don't often feel the urge to just blather praise for a movie here at the Blue Desk, but Christopher Nolan deserves all the fanboy-gushing he can bear. Hats off to you, man. You made a kickass movie.

The General's Table

6/05/05: I've been combing through the entire website (both here at the Blue Room and down the block at Cumberland Games) and grinding through the long process of updating the page formatting a bit. Nothing drastic, mind you - I like the pages the way they are - but I'm using more fixed-width tables to help cope with the huge new monitors that are becoming common (including here at Blue Room World Headquarters in South Austin, where a computer-death forced an upgrade this past winter). There are still a couple hundred pages left to reformat, but I've just finished doing all the recipe pages I link to from Gourmand Bleu, and I updated the links section there while I was at it. If you end up wandering into the recipes again, let me know if they're too scrunched-up or anything in your browser!

I was reminded to poke into Gourmand Bleu last night while giving the new remake of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a spin (over bowls of General Tso's Chicken, although being diabetic I was the only one at the table having the Thai Basil Chicken instead) - The new WFRP seems pretty spiffy, by the way. The book's shamefully scrawny and there were some oddities in the hit location spread, but all in all it succeeded precisely where it most needed to: in the feel and tone. The game nails that just right, it seems, and if you add in the support Green Ronin seems determined to give it, it's nothing less than a gift to gaming. Well, the kind of gift that sets you back a few bucks (or set the GM back a few bucks; I don't have a copy, myself), but at least a fair deal.

In other recent update news, the Free Font of the Month for June is up, and I've posted a brief new article for Uresia fans, about the wonders of measuring stuff in Heaven's Grave. In other recent non-update news, go see Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill if you get the chance, and the same goes for Eating Out ... Sandra and I got a kick out of both films and give them top marks. Good stuff.

Adobe Ftaghn!

5/10/05: Seen Hitchhiker's Guide three times now, so I guess that's a good sign. It's by no means the Hitchhiker's movie I'd have dreamed up, but kudos to those who did the dreaming. Once I accepted Zaphod's drawl I got right into it, and that opening song is priceless (be sure and hang around for the extra Guide bit in the closing credits, too). We saw it opening night, at the Alamo, and I got a free towel out of the deal (asking me Hitchhiker's trivia questions is like offering me lasagne; the trick is getting me to stop). I've been having fun playing "Spot the Douglas." In addition to the obvious image of DNA's face at the end, there's the nose thing (the temple entrance on Viltvoldle VI is made from a cast of his nose, apparently) and I'm pretty sure that's a drawing of Adams included at the top of the "china pattern" surrounding the big button (and presumably the same pattern on the front of the ship, though not the same as on Arthur's tea china; I checked just in case).

And yeah, I could nitpick the film, sure. But there are hordes of people handling that for me, I'm sure. I like it, and some of the new bits are priceless. I loved Nighy as Slartibartfast, by the way ... I hope they get to film the first three novels. Given the large number of little bits they raked in from book 3 anyway, it looks like they hope so, too. It'd be good to see this version of Slarty and these filmmakers' notion of the Bistromath.

Meanwhile, the BBC is doing new radio material (adaptations of novels 4 & 5) and I want those, too ... oh man, do I. Get 'em on CD soon, BBC!

Anyway, now it's down to waiting for Serenity, as far as space movies go, though of course I maintain a thimbleful of sincere hope (but virtually no expectations) for the quality of Episode III.

There's a new Risus site up today, a fresh look at that ever-popular (and eternally bizarre) notion of using Risus as a Lovecraftian RPG. This time it's the work of Manu Saxena, and it's pretty cool stuff.

I rambled a bit on the Cumberland Games Mailing List this morning about PDF reader software, and I won't repeat all of that here, but I will repeat the basic question: What PDF reader software does the job for you? I'm okay with the new Reader 7 but find I still prefer Reader 4 overall ... and I've been pretty impressed with the sparky little alternative that is Foxit. What good ones am I missing? Drop me a line and let me know.

Don't Panic

4/17/05: Anyone who knows me well will know that something I’m paying close attention to is news about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film, hitting general release in a couple of weeks. So far I’m feeling pretty positive about it, especially after having read the new movie-cover edition of the book, which has an extra hundred pages in the back: stuff about the making of the film, including a good general retelling of the story by a colleague of Adams which put a tear or two in my eye, and some very illuminating interviews with some of the principal actors, along with a self-interview by the screenwriter. Pretty much everything I read impressed me positively; the only thing missing was something from the director. I was especially happy to see Zooey Deschanel zero in on “disappointment” as an important facet of Trillian - Disappointment that after finally getting off of one dumbass planet, she gets to discover that the rest of the galaxy is just more of the same. That was always a note in Hitchers that struck a personal chord with me (since I was a wiseass teenager that felt surrounded by dipshits, as wiseass teenagers often do). I’m glad to see Deschanel find that same thing in Trillian, especially since she’s probably the character that will benefit from (?) more re-imagining than the other characters. Anyway, I became an instant fan of Deschanel as of Almost Famous, so I think she’s great casting anyway, and the same goes for Ford, Arthur, Zaphod, Jeltz, and the Guide ... and quadruple for Marvin. Not sure yet about Slartibartfast; haven’t seen much of him in the trailers yet, but the film is batting high on hopes for me right now.

The trailers look fun. I can’t really guess if it’ll be a great movie, but so far it looks like a fun one, and one done in a spirit I can enjoy and admire. Those books are some of the most important things I ever read - But I’m no purist and from all I’ve read, DNA wasn’t either. Hitchiker’s changed in every incarnation; it deserves to keep changing. May it never stop.

Speaking of adapted movies, Sandra and I caught Sahara this afternoon. I’d already read that Clive Cussler disliked it (mostly due to the casting of the lead) and that piqued my interest a lot more than the lukewarm and dismissive reviews it’s been getting. I used to read Dirk Pitt novels as a kid, and I’d seen the film version of Raise the Titanic, so I was curious about how Pitt would play out, instead, as the hero of a high-action popcorn movie. I think Sahara was a fun time, and I think the absolute core of the film’s creative success was the casting of Matthew McConaughey as Pitt (and, on a similar note, Steve Zahn as Al). If you filmed Dirk Pitt as Cussler writes him - as a flawless, perfectly masculine paragon, he’d be insufferable, even revolting. Only an actor like McConaughey, with his casual delivery and friendly humility, can inhabit a man like that and make him seem human despite it all. So, good on those guys and good on the casting director and the rest of them. I admire Cussler for keeping the men’s-adventure-pulp tradition alive and in good profile, but this was a better movie, I daresay, than any that Cussler would cheerlead for.

To briefly revisit the Andorian topic of my last update: I’ve seen the middle episode of the three-part arc, now (the one with the Ushaan itself) and that was a pretty cool time (they make reference to Andorian "clans," as well, which made me grin, coincidence or not). I was impressed (and I expected to be) by Jeffrey Combs. He’s one of those guys that can elevate lines he’s given to new places, give them a lot of implied context. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the other two episodes soon, to see how it all turns out (and how it got started).

One last leap into the book-to-screen motif: Despite a total lack of interest in the subject matter (I’ve never read the book, seen the original movie, seen the new movie, seen the movie in-between or cared to) I found myself sucked into this interesting Amityville Horror interview with the real-life guy fictionalized in the story (and, to hear many folks talk, in the book as well). I still have no interest in the Amityville Horror (and I don’t believe in spooks) but the interview was a worthy distraction from my evening's Hitchhiker's Guide surfing ...

One-Word Canon

3/28/05: A few days ago, I got an email from a Star Trek gamer seeking general chat on the nature of Trek GMing (suits me fine; GMing is a favorite topic of mine, Trek or otherwise) and he also asked me, as kind of an aside, if I felt “burned” by having my Andorian book, Among the Clans, referenced in a recent episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.

It was the first I'd heard of any such thing, but I assumed that, whatever it was, it was just a happy coincidence. Paramount aren't in the habit of tipping the hat to licensed Trek material; non-canon stuff tends to stay that way. The similarity this correspondent cited, in particular (ritual duels) seemed especially like coincidence, since ritual duels are old news in adventure sci-fi, and for that matter old news on Star Trek, ever since a certain Vulcan got in the mood.

Ever since Enterprise started airing and hauling the Andorians from obscurity, I've had a trickle of fan-speculation on Among the Clans influencing the show, but it's been pretty plain that the AtC Andorians and the new canon Andorians don't much resemble one another. I've been very happy just seeing how many fans (fanfic writers, MUSHers and the like) have adopted Among the Clans as their “bible” for things Andorian. Like John M. Ford's version of the Klingons, they're a favorite alternative to what Paramount eventually decided, and that's excellent company to be in.

But ... The correspondent's claim had a little more meat on it than most, complete with a rumor-mill anecdote about the Paramount folks snagging the book on eBay, of all places. So, curious to see what the rumor-mill was milling (and expecting no more than the very special art-form that is “fan speculation”) I Googled it.

It took only two passes in Google to find the whole story, from fan-chatter to references on the official Star Trek website. The episode in question, part of a three-part Andorian/Babel arc that aired just last month, didn't just have a duel, it had a duel called the Ushaan -which is a term from the Andorian language I designed for AtC. What's more, the weapon of choice was reminiscent in appearance and usage to the dueling weapon pictured in Among the Clans. Clearly, this wasn't coincidence, but a genuine tip of the hat. A tip of the hat involving Jeffrey Combs, no less (Lovecraftian Psi-Corps Andorian extraordinaire).

I'd like to say, for the record, that I didn't feel at all “burned.” I grinned rather a lot.

Curious, I did one more pass with Google, this time adding “eBay” as an extra keyword to see if I could find a concrete example of that particular rumor. I didn't find rumors this time. Instead, I found a public post by Enterprise series producer Mike Sussman:

For what it's worth, I let Manny a copy of “Among the Clans” which I picked up on eBay recently. He was already at work on an Andorian duel ritual when I pointed out there was something similar in the book, so he went ahead and used the term. I believe both of us were taken by the striking cover image of an ice-covered Andoria -- consequently, Manny went with that interpretation as well.

I thought Last Unicorn did a dynamite job with those books. The “Way of Kohlinar” was also terrific. I dropped in a couple of references from their Vulcan book in “Home.” Not sure anybody noticed, though. :)

So much for rumor-milling. It's really nice, too, because they're using their own Andorian culture and stuff ... what I mean is, there's no reason for them to use AtC's term, except as a friendly nod to having enjoyed the book. So that makes the nod even friendlier.

The only thing that puzzles me about the whole affair is why the Enterprise series producer had to go shopping on eBay for licensed Trek material. I always figured there was a whole library of the stuff somewhere kept by Paramount's licensing department, a dusty room full of metal shelving and filing cabinets, perhaps with a bored-looking archivist in an original-series T-shirt. I guess Paramount doesn't bother (or perhaps they do, and corporate bureaucracies being what they are, only the licensing department has any kind of access to the collection). Dunno.

So does that mean AtC is canon, now? Good lord, no. But one word of it is, and that's fun, too. It means I'm one step closer to true contribution to Star Trek, which I define as “having something you've created wind up in erotic Trek fan-fiction.”

I'm kidding, on some levels.

This leaves me with a single, urgent problem: I've never actually tuned in an episode of Enterprise. I caught a taped Season One episode back when it started, but it didn't catch my interest much and I'm terrible at keeping up with a TV series without missing episodes, anyway. But, obviously, I'd like to watch this three-episode arc thingy (episodes 12, 13 and 14 of Season Four) both to grin inanely when someone says Ushaan and to see what kind of prequel they've come up with for Journey to Babel. If anyone's got a good tape or whatever of all three episodes, I've got an extra copy of Among the Clans I'd be happy to swap (or other items of potential amusement, if you've already got an AtC). Drop me a line and let me know.

And if any Mike Sussmans or Manny Cotos or Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevenses happen to wander upon this one day while Googling for their own reasons: Hello, and thanks for the grins (which I can share with gamers everywhere, but especially with the many other folks who helped make AtC well worth tipping a hat to, especially Steve Long, Kenneth Hite, Doug Shuler, and uncredited-but-not-forgotten Lou Prosperi).

Fonts, Just For Fun

3/5/05: I've had some good fun at font-spotting, lately. Austin now features a couple of big beautiful billboards (for ZeigenBock beer) decked out in Dirty Headline, and when Sandra and I attended the grand opening of a new Half-Price Books location yesterday, they were using it on their flyers, as well. It's goofy fun; Sandra and I stood looking up at one of the billboards for a while, up near the campus, snapping blurry little camera-phone pictures of it. A week or so ago, I was browsing at the chain video-rental place across the street, and spotted a Z-grade horror movie called "Keeper of Souls" that uses Arvigo on the DVD and VHS case (for the logo and other stuff). I enjoyed that a lot, since I could look out the window from there and see the Whataburger where I'd doodled Arvigo in the first place, on a piece of graph paper.

As a writer, I've gone through many phases, and this font business reminds me of an early one. At first I was thrilled to see my name in print. That lasted about a year, tops. Once that wore off, the only thrills left involved doing better stuff: setting meaningful hurdles for myself and then seeing how well I could leap them. My free fonts are playful junk, hobby projects just for fun ... and right now it's a thrill to see them in print (or up on billboards or on DVD cases). But the more I see them, the faster the thrill will wear off, and I might start taking the fontmaking seriously. Oy ... Let's hope not. The writing keeps me busy enough! If anyone ever spots me spending too much time fussing over a doodled typeface, please smack me.

Play in Many Forms

2/26/05: It's a rainy day today in Austin, and I'm writing this update at one of our favorite places to seek shelter from the elements, the South Austin Central Market, where the coffee is great, the crowd is varied and (as Sandra and I were reminded today) the avocado rolls are fresher and more flavorful than any morsel has a right to be. I'm catching up on some work on Lisa Steele's Medieval France and on my own Points in Space 2, so naturally felt compelled to avoid work for a moment by writing a Blue Room update.

Any Blue Room old-timer knows that Risus gets translated a lot, but its companion in crime, The Big List of RPG Plots, has only been translated into computer game-ese, until now. Correspondent Jaagup Irve has give the world The Big List of RPG Plots, in Estonian. I get emails and weblinks and IOR Memberships and all manner of things from around the world, but I think this is the first I'd heard of an Estonian gaming scene. Very very cool.

Playtime can be smart-time and family-time and all number of excellent things. Another correspondent (and game designer and Risus enthusiast), Gary Pratt of GoldLeaf Games, is helping folks find useful games with his new venture, Inventive Play. Inventive Play vends what you might call smart-toys or boutique games, but with an unusual and welcome emphasis, since Gary's working with health-care professionals to develop materials specifically designed as “Alzheimer's-friendly.” It's a nicely-done webstore well worth a visit, and well worth mentioning to others.

Just Mice, Dan

2/10/05: We're getting close to Valentine's Day, so remember to snag the one and only, official Cumberland Games valentines (bottom of this page) if you want to express your love with the warm images of Risus stick figures, Pokéthulhu characters, or Sparks paper minis. Or, better still, if you're the kind of loon who likes leaving odd things lying around on tables in waiting rooms, which is really what they're more suited for.

While you're there, maybe snag a copy of the "Copy Density Demo" nearby; that's an odd little "educational" freebie I posted last autumn without remembering to mention it here, so consider that officially amended. It's a peek into the thrilling world of page design. Okay, it's not thrilling at all, but the phoney-baloney text contains the secrets of the cosmos in inside-joke form.

Here's Hoping

2/8/05: I finally got a new Free Font of the Month up a few days ago, and this time it's a happy return to the sloppy hand-drawn stuff (which are always my favorites). At some point this year I think I'm going to reorganize the Fontworks, dropping a few of the existing fonts to make room for some of the recent ones, so snag 'em while they're still around!

Sandra and I caught Million Dollar Baby the other day at a matinee, and that was one hell of a good picture. Bring a hanky and all that, but Eastwood continues to impress as a director. It's a dark film at times, but with a lot of humanity and love in it. Tough stuff.

One of the things I'm doing this week is finishing up my submission for the Gamers For Hope project, a tsunami-relief effort. I'll let you know again, of course, when it's ready; here's hoping it can help a little. Given the quality of the creators involved (not just Yours Truly, but groovy folks like Steve Kenson, John Kovalic and Robin Laws) I'm confident that it'll be a worthy gaming purchase as well as a donation to a cause that can use every extra penny right now.

Soup to Nuts

1/15/05: Sheepishly laying aside the general question of my recent silence (I've just been busy/lazy), some fans and friends have wondered on my specific silence on the shiny new Fourth Edition of GURPS. Well, I still haven't got a copy of the new Basic Set, but I did get the first of my contributor's copies of GURPS Magic, and it put a smile on my face for a couple of reasons, some small and one smaller. The smaller one's my favorite.

I noted with irony that GURPS Magic cites me specifically as the author of the book's rules for black magic (mentioning it twice, even). It's true. Those rules are derived from a piece I wrote for GURPS Warehouse 23 many moons ago. They were, originally, meant to describe a naughty edge that the Secret Masters might be foolhardy or bold enough to take full advantage of, and while they didn't make the final cut, SJ Games bought them anyway, on the assumption they'd come in handy someday, for some other book.

Many years later, Kenneth Hite incorporated them into his GURPS Cabal worldbook, and I'm flattered to note he left the writing basically untouched. Ken's style and mine mesh well, and it was, I suppose, a way to allow us to "coauthor" a small part of Cabal - something we used to talk about doing, should the chance arise. Ironically, nobody - not Kenneth and not SJ Games - actually told me that Cabal would include my old Black Magic piece, so I didn't notice it until last year, when I came across a copy at a used bookstore.

So anyway, now I finally have a copy in bound form ... but this time they've removed my writing entirely from the black magic rules, presenting them in a more compact and neutral style so as to mesh them with the tone of the book. Sensible! But it means that the only copy of the black magic rules on my shelf is the version I didn't actually write. So if anyone's got a spare Cabal around and wants to swap for it, let me know -

There's a hidden irony there, too, because 12 years ago, when I worked on GURPS Grimoire, I did major reworking and rewriting on Scott Maykrantz' expanded demon-summoning rules. But in the adcopy and title page, we gave Scott his due credit as their originator. Now I get to know how Scott may have felt, opening up Grimoire and having difficulty recognizing his work. Eep.

Okay, so that's one of the little reasons for me to smile. Black magic's in there. Groovy. But there's a littler thing in there that makes me smile much bigger.

They let me rewrite Rain of Nuts! That's a big deal for me. No really! Here's the story.

Originally, Dan Thibault was to be the sole author of GURPS Grimoire, but for many and sundry reasons SJ Games weren't happy with his draft and decided to hand the post-playtest writing chores to me. Loyd Blankenship had enjoyed my writing in All of the Above, and gave me the gig mainly on the strength of that, and his knowledge that I did a lot of fantasy gaming with GURPS.

Dan's approach to the book included a lot of symmetry. To nearly every college he added a "Body of" and a missile spell and a "Rain of" and so forth, making the colleges more similar - making them more like motifs for a group of comparable core effects. In some cases I enjoyed this - the "Body of" spells were all pretty cool and most of the missile spells and Rain of spells were fine. A few, though, I removed from the book because I felt they were stretching the symmetry too far ... There was a darkness-based missile spell, for example (as it turns out, darkness does impaling damage).

One of the spells I removed was Rain of Nuts. The notion of falling acorns grinding a party into hamburger at a rate of 1d-1 damage per turn (enough to slaughter an unarmored human in just a few seconds) was too much for me to take. Call me unimaginative, call me a fuddy-duddy, whatever. Those are mean frickin' nuts.

Susan Pinsonneault, an excellent editor who deserves much praise, insisted on putting it back in. We talked about it on the phone and she said she liked the spell ... not as a human-wizard spell, but as a cool thing for sylvan pixie-types to defend their woodland homes with. I agreed; I hadn't thought of it that way. So Susan added a paragraph to the spell, including that very rationale for clarity.

I phoned Susan up the next day ... That whole "deadly acorns" thing was still bothering me but her pixie-magic explanation had me thinking. Instead of killing people, I asked, could the spell maybe drive them away by being an incredible nuisance/skill penalty sort of effect? This way, I reasoned, the spell could be made much cheaper in terms of ST required, and cover much larger areas ... a good choice for tiny pixies and whatnot. It would kill Thibault's symmetrical ideal of having all the "Rain of" spells work the same way, but it would feel right in context and could be usefully dramatic in play. Susan agreed, and said to send along a writeup. I did so.

And that was the end of that until months later when I got my GURPS Grimoire comps in the mail and learned two astonishing things. The first thing I noticed was that I was suddenly the book's coauthor, sharing cover credit with Thibault. It's true that I ended up writing a large portion the book from scratch and fully rewriting most of the rest for clarity's sake, but I had been contracted as more of a developer/manuscript doctor, so it was very nifty to have the depth of my work acknowledged with the coauthor credit.

The second shock, though, was that Rain of Nuts was there in its Thibaultian glory, churning men into hamburger with high-velocity acorn storms. I phoned up Susan. It had been an honest mistake; something to do with file versions or last-minute such-and-such or misplaed emails. I was just a freelancer at the time anyway and publishing nuts and bolts flew right over my head (doing 1d damage per turn to anyone right behind me).

Years pass. SJ Games and I part ways. Years pass as I work for other publishers, game other games, and start Cumberland. Years pass some more, and then Sean Punch (Dr. Kromm) emails me and says they're finally combining Magic and Grimoire into a deluxe GURPS Magic. He says we need to do new contracts and stuff. Okay. But as long as I've got your ear, Kromm, here's a story about Rain of Nuts -

Kromm said to send along the text and he'd pass it on to the new compiler for consideration. That sounded fine, so what the heck. I dug into old notes and wrote up the Rain of Nuts that I had imagined years before in response to Susan's excellent comment about sylvan defense. A while later, another editor from SJ Games contacted me again because they needed a new "About the Author" blurb, and so I wrote that too. Cool.

Months pass and I forget most of this stuff; I'm busy with other things.

But now here is GURPS Magic, and not only is it a nifty big book of spells that I would have wrestled a grizzly for in my heavy-into-GURPS days, but they let my "new" Rain of Nuts into the rules. It's just a little spell, one that probably doesn't see much use. But it's a very pleasant irony that a spell I was so eager to cut from the game, 12 years ago, is now my favorite part of it. They left in Susan's old paragraph, too, about it being beneath the dignity of human wizards ... But I don't think it is anymore. I may even design one last GURPS character, just so he can learn it with a little glow of pride.

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