Son of Game Night

6/28/99: Sandra and I did the now-traditional Monthly RPG Oneshot this weekend - a cyberpunky game using Risus! Good fun was had by all, with our pal Reese Harrell and her fella, Chris in the play mix, along with our new friends Mike Costello and his wife, Mel. The adventure of choice this time around was the Origins-Award-Winning The Medusa Sanction, by the inestimable Dave Pulver, and it took up two manic evenings of spirited gunfire and netrunning (and tear-gassing and fumigation-ordering and sandwiches and pizza and caffiene), and in the end, the world (or at least Houston) was saved. Huzzah!

My quest to game with Everyone In Austin continues! I will eventually be the ultimate RPG matchmaker [peals of evil laughter], in addition to having just one heck of a neat pool of gamers to draw on. I'm a happy boy.

Matters of No Importance

6/23/99: And a few days stretched into a couple of weeks, and before I knew it, summer was here! Just a quick note to say that Sandra and I are still alive! Both work and play have kept me busy, lately, but I haven't forgotten the Blue Room! A few quick notes:

And finally, here are the solutions to those GURPS anagrams I posted a couple of weeks ago; share them with your friends and watch the riotous hilarity ensue! Or something:

fun ghetto treacheries [Creatures of the Night]
lame anus interpretations [International Super Teams]
icy ape breasts [Space Bestiary]
be nasty if astray [Fantasy Bestiary]
dirt heeds antibiotics [Basic Set Third Edition]
ripe hornets [The Prisoner]
pig nuts top cars [Supporting Cast]
her last anteater [Alternate Earths]
suburbs & new iron [Bunnies & Burrows]
boiled sex mud [Mixed Doubles]

Comforts of Home

6/6/99: Up late, after a warm day in the late spring here in Austin. Canning season and grilling season had their grip on Sandra and I today, with Sandra lighting up the coals to make her delicious BBQ wings (served with a fresh batch of our "house" coleslaw and Sandra's Newfie Potato Salad, which I'm addicted to) while I cheerfully hauled a box of mason jars home from the market to prepare a batch of kosher dills (with jams and a few other things to follow, since mason jars are sold by the dozen and we don't need that many pickles). I'll also be cranking the ice-cream bucket for the first batch of the year, since it's definitely warm enough (got the rock salt today), so there's a nice "comforts of home" feeling in the air, and we finished it off with an old Bogey picture and a romantic game of Devil Bunny Needs a Ham, by candlelight, no less.

I'll probably follow all this up with some kind of "summer recipes" frenzy on Gourmand Bleu when I get the time . . .

Recent updates to the site include the usual formatting-spiffery done to some of the articles hiding in the corners, a couple of recent additions to the Secret Library (including the all-new Fontworks page), a Dan Smith bio page to accompany Sparks, and a few "revival" updates to my Top Secret Annotations for GURPS Warehouse 23.

About a week ago on the Blue Room Mailing List, I sent out a little anagram puzzle, which I'll now toss in here for the benefit of the Web-Only readers. The puzzle is pretty simple; just figure out which GURPS book titles I've mercilessly scrambled! Some are easier than others!

1. fun ghetto treacheries
2. lame anus interpretations
3. icy ape breasts
4. be nasty if astray
5. dirt heeds antibiotics
6. ripe hornets
7. pig nuts top cars
8. her last anteater
9. suburbs & new iron
10. boiled sex mud

Special kudos to Mark Cogan, who aced it in a matter of hours when I posted it to the list (and on the list, I didn't bother pointing out that they were GURPS titles!) If you get stuck, I'll post the solution in a few days. Take care, all.

Dalton's Page

6/4/99: Reese Harrell, who let me know about what had happened to Dalton Ayers a couple of weeks back, has generously donated her homepage to keeping people updated on Dalton's condition which, fortunately, is a lot better than a lot of people feared it might be. The poor kid's going to have a rough time of it, but the final outcome, at least, seems positive for now. This is no excuse, by the way, to not consider a visit to a blood donation center - there's a lot of sick and hurting folks that can use the help (and they give you cookies and juice). This is the first time Reese has done a "real" page by herself (as she puts it) and she's done a great job providing something that will turn a lot of worries into hopes. Kudos, kiddo.

Austin Gamers List

5/31/99: I've decided that an Austin Gamers Mailing List would be a handy thing - a forum for Austin, Texas area gamers to locate one another and schedule games and other gatherings. So, I've started one! If you live in the Austin area and are a player seeking a GM, a GM seeking players, a wargamer seeking opponents, or any other kind of social gamer (CCGs, LARPS and others welcome), then give it a look.

The Good Stuff

5/30/99: It's past 2:AM as I write this, woozy and groggy and sleepy and happy after a swell evening of GURPS Cthulhu, good coversation and some yummy chow. After too long a hiatus, I'm collecting contacts and plotting plots for regular gaming again, along with my usual sneaky goals involving strengthening the local game-community in general. For practicioners of one of the niftiest forms of active, social fiction-making, gamers can be awfully uncommunicative at times, so I'm making lists, cheking them twice, and inviting them all to games! Tonight's group (Jay Bryant, Lillian Butler, and Scott Haring) turned out and played in fine form as a group of investigators that I certainly intend to run sequels for. We had hot clam chowder, fresh bread and apple betty for supper (from the kitchen of Sjohn & Sandra, of course! The theory was that clam chowder suited the "fishy things in New England" theme of traditional Cthulhu gaming), plus some swell brownies and a banana-nut-chocolate bread that Lillian made, so we were all sated and ready for a fun blend of pulp detective action and eldritch nastiness (complete with ichor! gotta have ichor).

We had that and plenty more, with alien black magic and winged somethings from space and sleepy new england towns and bootleg rum and the rest of it, and man o man does it feel good to be GMing again. Now all I have to do is find some time to be a player . . . One step at a time!

Dalton's Doing Well

5/27/99: Heard from Reese again about Dalton, and again it's good news. He's got a lot of surgery ahead, but everything seems stable and he's laughing, being hyper, and otherwise behaving as any five-year old in a hospital might be expected to (which is to say, he's going stir-crazy with that trache tube, and who can blame him?).

And there's more good news: From now on, those concerned about Dalton won't need to wait for third-hand information from me. Reese, being the swell person she is, will soon be dedicating her own website to keeping current information up on Dalton's condition. This will be helpful to Dalton's family as well as concerned friends, and should begin being updated next week sometime.

Feeling Ducky

5/23/99: Just getting ready to call it a night, so I figured I'd toss a "good evening" out to anybody dropping by the Blue Room. Sandra and I had a nice weekend here at home . . . We took advantage of the good weather on Saturday to enjoy a ride on Austin's recently-acquired "Duck Tour" (one of those british amphibious military transports converted into a Vehicle O'Fun), which is a nifty tour of downtown Austin followed by a pleasant half-hour cruise on the lake! It was peaceful, floating out among the powerboats and jet-skis in a large oblong bus. Surreal, in its way. We also got around to seeing the new Star Wars flick, and I got a little bit of work done on the next Sparks set (called "Watch the Skies!" it's pulp SF aliens and heroes as only Dan Smith can do them), which will be available in a week or two, if all goes well. Right now, I'm sitting up fiddling with work on a GURPS Cthulhu game I'm running this coming Saturday, and staring contemplatively at the Robo-Rally match left on the table to be completed tomorrow night, searching in vain for some kind of tactical edge over my lovely Sandra, who designed the fiendish course we're racing . . . Tomorrow morning, it's back to work!

Still nothing new on how things are going with Dalton. Here's hoping all is well.

Lookin' Up

5/18/99: A quick update on the situation with young Dalton. Despite an accident that didn't leave a whole lot of room for optomism, he seems to be on the positive track. Reese wrote me this morning: "For starters, Dalton's responding to stimuli. They thought that he might have partial paralysis on his left side, but when they touched his feet, he moved and giggled. :-) He's talking and his speech makes sense, too, which is another thing they were worried about. He recognizes his family, too."

This is very good news, of course. Not out of the woods yet, but those woods don't seem quite as dark as they did when the accident happened. Here's hoping.

A Call for Help

5/14/99: I got an upsetting email from my friend Reese (Steve Jackson's assistant) this morning, and I figured that it'd be a good idea to share it, so I sent it along to the Blue Room Mailing List and I'm posting it here. It's by no means a fun morning read, but I ask that you do read it and consider acting on it, immediately.

I have a coworker named Gina. Some of you have heard me talk about her. In short, she's wonderful and comes from a really close-knit family. So close that she and her brother's sister had male children two weeks apart and these two kids have grown up like brothers. Gina's son's name is Clayton, his cousin's name is Dalton.

Yesterday Dalton was run over by a riding lawn mower here in Austin. He's lost his left eye and his left arm. Also, part of his skull is missing and there is some damage to the brain. They don't know just how much yet. Mercifully, the accident sent him immediately into shock.

He was taken by Life Flight to Beckenridge Hospital here in Ausin, and then later flown to UTMB in Galveston. Anyway, he's been in surgery for the last fifteen hours or so, and is listed in serious critical condition.

The Shriners have stepped in and along with Ronald McDonald House are going to take care of his medical bills and the famiy's housing. SJG is kicking in money along with other private individuals and businesses to help. To be honest with all of you, at the very least Dalton is going to need lots and lots of surgeries. If you want to donate money (which is not the point of this letter at all . . .), e-mail me and I'll send you the information because there is an account set up for his medical bills at a bank in Lockhart.

What I'm asking for is blood.

Yes, blood.

For those of you that can, I would like for you to donate blood. You can do this through the Red Cross, at a hospital, or through the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Bank locations. You can start donating blood for him on Monday. You will need to tell them that the blood is for Dalton Ayers at UTMB - Galveston.

For those of you who are in Austin, the best place for you to contact is the Central Texas Blood adn Tissue Center. They're pretty much booked for Monday (I called and checked), mostly with people who worked with Dalton's parents donating blood. The rest of the week is fairly open, but as word gets out, that may not be true. You can call (512) 458-1121 to set up an appointment. If you walk in on any other day but Tuesday, expect to wait about ten to fifteen minutes.

For those of you who are in Houston, you can donate at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. Thier website is located at http://www.giveblood.org, but you can call (713)-790-1200. You can also call St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, (713)-791-4116, Methodist Hospital, (713)-790-2386, The University of Texas, (713)-792-8630, or the Red Cross to donate.

For those of you in and around Dallas, you can donate at Bloodcare, (214)-351-8577, Parkland Memorial Hospital, (214)-590-8211, or the Red Cross.

For those of you who are in the San Antonio area, you can donate at theSouth Texas Blood & Tissue Center, (210)-731-5555, the University Health System, (210)-616-4169, or at the Red Cross. The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center website is located at http://www.bloodntissue.org/.

If you need other locations in Texas (or anywhere else in the United States), you can check http://www.aabb.org/docs/bloodmonth.html to find donation centers and phone numbers.

Also, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward this to other people both in and out of the state. Anyone in the US can donate to anyone else in the US. The American Association of Blood Banks keeps up with the number of units donated for each person and moves the blood around in the local region to make sure that the supply is there if it's needed. So, you don't need to worry about blood types matching. Even if Dalton doesn't use the blood you donate (and I can't imagine how he wouldn't), someone will. You're helping to save someone's life.

One last thing . . . If this five-year-old makes it, he'll be needing lots of surgeries and lots of blood. You can redonate blood every four to six weeks safely. And, please, keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. They need it!

Reese

And I have an important addendum for those living in the Austin area: I (being the world's leading imbecile at following instructions) phoned 451-2222 (the number on the website) instead of the number Reese provided, and they're taking appointments right away, this morning. I've got one for 11:45 AM, so if anyone's in the area, drop on in and we'll share cookies and you can talk to me and keep my mind off things, 'cause I'm not too good with needles and whatnot [blush]. Hope to see you there. And if you're not in Austin, hope your nearest bloodbank sees you there. At least consider it, please.

Miniatures

5/12/99: Yow! Ten days since my last update! Been busy writing, cooking, and the usual stuff, and finishing up a new thing that Dan Smith and I have been working on for the past several weeks - Sparks!

Since a growing number of my regular Blue Room correspondents don't play roleplaying games (RPGs), my excitement over these things might require some explaining, so here goes: Sometimes, RPGs use miniatures - metal figurines about an inch high, little tiny statues of the fictional characters involved in the story, and their foes. Mostly, miniatures are just fun toys to play with, paint, and look at, but they can also be really practical for keeping track of where everybody is in a big action scene. They are the "playing pieces" of RPGs. Sort of!

Paper miniatures came along not too long after the metal ones; they were common "perks" tossed into modules and boxed sets, that kind of thing, and sometimes even published on their own (like Cardboard Heroes, from SJ Games). The ones in the back of Macho Women With Guns are some of my favorites, and TSRs Indiana Jones paper minis are the source of one of the most famous "Murphy's Rules" of all time (but that's another story). Paper minis are great because they're light and cheap, and since you sometimes need a LOT of them, light and cheap are good!

[Ragnarok Joe: Front and Back Image]Sparks are electronic paper miniatures - ones you can print out on your printer at home. So, if you spill your soda on them, or if the cat decides that shredding them would qualify as "adorable," or if a stiff breeze kicks up . . . You can just print more! Electronic paper minis have been done a few times before (I have some links to a couple favorites on my links page), usually as big graphic files or in PDF format. But I've come up with a nifty new way: a TrueType font! Inspired by what I could do with my HexPaper font, I came up with Sparks - another "for sale to support the Blue Room" toy (complete wtih a freebie version so everybody can try them out). Not only can you print more, you can print them in any scale, on different kinds of paper, whatever you feel like. And the way-cool Dan Smith artwork can be used for character illustrations and things like that, too!

Okay, those of you who do play roleplaying games, thanks for not minding the explanation, and I'm sure you now see why I'm excited . . . Now if only I can stop these things from taking over my desk . . .

In the shameless plug for other people department: Sandra and I recently picked up a set of Button Men, one of the newer releases from Cheapass Games, the guys that make one of our favorite boardgames, Kill Dr. Lucky (we also enjoy The Very Clever Pipe Game!) I admit that at first I was skeptical - just to look at them in the package, they don't look like much at all, but I should be strung up as a fool for doubting the elegant designs of James Ernest! Button Men is a surprisingly subtle strategy game, and (of course) dirt-cheap to boot. So, if you're looking for a really cute little two-player game, definitely give it a go.

And finally, some unfortunate news about Sandra's homesite: This past weekend, Sandra was working on some large-scale upgrades to her site, and had an unfortunate accident with a global search-and-replace! Ouch. It'll take a little while to get it all back in order (and she's taking the opportunity to do even more re-organizing, while she's at it), so if you link through to her page and can't find it, that's why!

Risus, Spit, and Polish

5/02/99: The Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of Risus is finally available again in a properly spiffed-up, nicely-typeset form. This new version of the Risus PDF uses the current (verson 1.4) edition of the rules and text, and prints out neatly on six pages (even with a splash of color on page one, because that's just the kind of life-on-the-edge maniac I am - I'll be forgetting to floss, next). Many thanks to the Risus fans who've been so patient waiting for this; your sundry emails reminding me, explicitly, of how patient you were being did not go unheeded ;)

Life has been swell for Sandra and I - Austin has been celebrating the warm weather with more than even the usual number of outdoor concerts, Pecan Street festivals and so on, and (with Cinco de Mayo only a few days away) it doesn't show any sign of cooling down, just yet! I've also got a potential nibble on a very interesting new writing gig - something I've been wanting to try my hand at for a very long time. More news as it happens! 'Til then, take care.

The Missing Links

4/27/99: A minor heads-up: The Bigass Links page got a fresh update this morning, complete with a number of old-link fixes as well as a swell batch of new things to click at. Thanks to the many Blue Room correspondents who've emailed me to help keep both outgoing and incoming links current, snappy and fun!

Happy Boit'Day!

4/24/99: Two years ago, more or less today (sometime between the 17th and the 24th, anyway; I don't recall the exact date), the Blue Room went online for the first time.

So, happy birthday, little website. You've grown by an order of magnitude (from 7 or 8 pages at the beginning to about 80, today!), and have helped me meet some nice folks, and share lots of junk with them. A thing worth celebrating, I think.

In other news (and other things worth celebrating), my buddy Kenneth Hite has a great new book out called Nightmares of Mine. You can read my RPGnet review of it by clicking here!

Come Into My Parlor

4/15/99: Here in the United States, "Tax Day" will be keeping post offices open 'til midnight, many of them providing coffee and donuts as the huge lines gather to seek the Sacred Postmark, join hands and sing kum-bah-yah.A perfect excuse to play parlor games! I've been a collector of interesting parlor games since my early teens, and to celebrate the arrival of Tax Day, I've written up one of my favorites, 5×5 ("five by five"), in the Secret Library.

Clearing A Hex

4/12/99: I love fantasy gaming most of all - questing in a haunted wood, facing a blackhearted villain in his high castle, riding a gryphon into towering clouds - for all my love of science fiction, history, pulp adventure, modern action and the rest, the images of fantasy keep me coming back to it. Ultimately, it seems, I've had a need since high school to clear a hex and attract followers ;)

My Medieval Demographics Made Easy article, now in the Secret Library, is a handy tool for any GM who likes fiddling with medieval fantasy. After having slain a handful of professional publications, it finally appears here, where it can have a safe home. That's for figuring out what's in the hex . . .

For putting the hex on the map itself, I've designed HexPaper. HexPaper is a Windows TrueType font for making graph paper - hexagonal, quad, and isometric (interlocking triangles). It's also handy for putting graph-overlays on top of maps you've drawn. It's the first item the Blue Room has ever offered for sale, either direct from me or with a credit card or check card from Terry Austin's excellent HyperBooks online shop. Please consider supporting the Blue Room by giving it a go - it's dirt-cheap at three bucks!

And yeah, the fontmaking bug has clearly bit me! The drug of the new millenium, I tell you . . .

You May Be Right

4/7/99: The month of April is a strange one, beginning with trickery and ending with sorcery, as Walpurgisnacht revelries celebrate the return of spring. I'm not sure that putting a vaguely unsettling True Type Font on your homepage is the eldest of all traditions for this time of year, but here at the Blue Room, by golly, that's what we're doing! Viz:

It Just Might Be A Lunatic You're Looking For . . .

Lunatic Regular is a freeware "handwriting" typeface containing the full range of ordinary characters (the stuff you can actually see on your keyboard) and a few random extras. Download it (a whopping 10k or so) by clicking here, and enjoy. More of this kind of thing soon, as time allows . . .

And around the house, things are going well: The INS has renewed Sandra's work permit; my "allergy" turned out to be just a nasty sinus infection (currently being treated with all the appropriate nummy chemicals) and just today, Central Market opened a new location much closer to where we live. Not too shabby!

It's Raining Risus!

4/2/99: It doesn't rain but it pours! It seems like only the 9th of last month that I was happily announcing the unveiling of Risus Magic, by Jason Puckett. Now, Stacy Allston has produced the latest addition to the growing presence of Risus on the World Wide Web with Risus Supers, a very thorough "genre expansion" that explores the full potential of the kind of Risus that involves brightly-colored tights, flowing capes, and utility belts!

April Foolishness

4/1/99: Owie owie. Still sick, and now with this nasty sinus-pain that's almost dizzying. I've been told by several folks that if you've never had allergies in your life, you'll discover them here in Austin (one of the most intense allergen-producing cities in the world, as it turns out). And here in the springtime, I think they may be right, 'cause my sinuses hurt so much it feels like the front of my skull is in a vise . . . Owie. Lots of medicine for S. John . . .

But enough of my bellyachin', because it's one of the grandest holidays: April Fools! The day of tricks and japes and hoaxes and general nonsense. To celebrate, I've posted the first of my Star Trek RPG game-aids. Soon, I'll have a whole "LUGTrek" page, but this particular tidbit seems to fit the mood of this most sacred day. Enjoy!

Another Trek Completed

3/30/99: Tonight, I mailed off the big-honkin' Star Trek (Original Series) Narrator's Toolkit file off to mein editor, Kenneth Hite, who received it happily, despite being as sick as I am, right now (we're both under the gun on deadlines, and both under the weather with nasty coldy-fluey type things). All that's left to turn over is the short adventure that will go in the back of the book (sometime tomorrow, most likely) and I can sit back and take a breather, satisfied with another completed log to toss on the bonfire of my bibliography. I'm very happy with the stuff in the Toolkit, and I think it'll make a nice companion to the Narrator's Toolkit that Ken has already written for the Next Generation RPG. Look for mine on shelves this summer - and go get Ken's right now!

The breather will be short, however, since work will begin next week on the "Rus culture pack" for Chivalry and Sorcery, which I'll be designing as my "relax and enjoy" project alongside my other books. My next Star Trek project will also begin soon, and I've got several ideas for both magazine articles and Blue Room features that I want to put through the keyboard, as well. This includes my own Star Trek RPG page, which I already have Astonishing Content in mind for. Stay tuned.

Finally, the Cult of Personality poll at RPGnet is concluded. Again, I did well, which feels good, though it probably says more about the popularity of the Blue Room than anything. But hey, I'll take it, since the Blue Room is one of my favorite achievements! Thanks very much to everybody who put in the good word for me with their votes.

Mellow Days

3/23/99: Our pal, Tim Driscoll, has gone home, and things are back to normal. Sandra and I had a lot of fun showing off Austin and catching up on old times and so on, and it was a great excuse to attend the rodeo! None of us had ever been to one before, and it was quite an experience . . . steer wrestling, calf-roping, bull-riding . . . The bulls are especially impressive. They weigh a ton and they jump higher than I can and they spin while they're doing it. Nothing that large should be that quick. Or that pointy at the front.

So, here at Blue Room HQ, things are settled back to normal, as the smell of funnel cakes, roasted corn and sawdust fades and I return to my Star Trek and Rus projects here at home. In my dreams, Captain Kirk wrestles the Bear With Iron Fur while Chekov proudly claims it as a Russian Development. No more NyQuil for me, head cold or no head cold!

And, on RPGnet, the "cult of personality" vote comes down to the final tally. Click on over and vote!

Lead, Asphalt, & Shamrocks

3/17/99: Happy Saint Patrick's Day! And what a holiday it is, here in Austin! The weather has been great all week so far - cool and breezy, with lots of sunshine. We've got both a big rodeo and the South By Southwest film/multimedia/music festival going on in town, so the whole place is jumping with more than usual of the usual tunes and good food, as people visit Austin from all over the world. One even visited just for Sandra and I - our good friend Tim Driscoll is visiting this week, and what great timing! We've been having fun hitting bookstores and touring the town, and today's itenerary (such as it is) includes more touring, a St. Patty's day party, and even some gaming, later on in the evening. Before we head out, though, some quick updates:

Both the GURPS and HASTUR pages have been updated with a link to my Carmaker's Cribsheet for GURPS Autoduel. As many of you know, Autoduel America campaigning is the reason I bought my very first GURPS Basic Set, years ago; this brief article will help lend an extra touch of the "Car Wars feel" to your GURPS games.

Jason Puckett is doing Yet More Stuff with his Risus Magic rules; now he's added enchantment rules & more! Drop by, if you've got a few minutes to spare, and give him some of the feedback he's looking for.

And yes, Sandra, Tim and I will be going to to the rodeo this weekend. :) If we remember to take a camera, maybe I'll post some pictures . . .

I Been Robbed! Oh, Wait.

3/9/99: Well, that'll teach me to select epigraphs that far in advance. Despite all odds and common sense, a recent RPGnet poll showed that there are people out there that are willing to buy something I've written "sight-unseen." Well, since that's exactly how GURPS Russia is sold, I guess that makes sense, but it's still awfully nice to know that either (A) people like my writing a bunch or (B) I'm more net-visible than better writers like John Tynes and Kenneth Hite and Dave Pulver because of the Blue Room, here, and all that mucking about I do on Usenet and DALnet and the mailing list and such. It's probably a cocktail of the two, but in any case: Thank you, folks. Thanks very much. Makes me feel all warm and squidgy.

In the meantime, be sure and vote on the final round of polling, now up on RPGnet. Hrm. I probably should have mentioned Marc Miller in that email . . . Gah.

This morning, I updated the Blue Room Home Search Page a bit - it now includes a Google! link, along with a few trims and fixes and the usual invisible stuff.

In Risus news, gamer extraordinaire and Risus fan Jason Puckett has put two (count 'em!) new Risus pages on the Web for us to enjoy - his notes on Risus Magic will be of use to fantasy GMs, and his campaign page, The Stygiad, will inspire what Risus is most meant to inspire: big laughs and hoots of amazement. Good stuff, and he promises more soon!

Finished Business

3/1/99: This past Friday, I finished my first Star Trek job for Last Unicorn Games - a chapter on adventure design ("episode design" in the parlance of the game) for the Star Trek RPG rulebook. Now, I'm working on the Narrator's Toolkit for the same game. Those of you fortunate enough to own the Next Generation RPG Narrator's Toolkit, by Ken Hite, know that I have quite a book to live up to! The goal is to cover a lot of very different ground, so that Trek players who own both toolkits will have a two-volume Narrator's library (at least, until the Deep Space Nine Narrator's Toolkit comes out, making it three, and so on).

Between sessions at the keyboard, my job at Book People has been lots of fun. My favorite part is when somebody comes in knowing they want a book, but not which one. . . I get to bring them together with books that they'll enjoy and get use from, and that feels good (so does sitting and quietly organizing hundreds of cookbooks . . . that I could do all day and wouldn't mind!) The only drawback of working at a bookstore, really, is becoming that much more aware of how many books there are I want to own . . .

In Risus news: the latest issue of Alarums & Excursions, the oldest and most respected APA in all of gaming, featured a copy of the latest edition of Risus, thanks to Spike Y. Jones being too busy to write anything new for his zine! Thanks, Spike ;)

In the soon-to-be-in-the-Blue-Room department, I unearthed a pile of old 5.25" floppies recently, many containing some interesting gaming tidbits, from my "Quick AD&D to GURPS" cheatsheet for running old D&D modules on the fly, to the Silly Monster Book, a huge collection of GURPS creatures adapted from the oddest monsters from other RPGS, from RuneQuest's Jack-O-Bear to the All the World's Monsters version of Nyarlathotep (where he apparently gets his jollies by pretending to be an Orc!) . . . All this is Coming Soon.

Black Soil

2/17/99: It's been a few years since I've had the opportunity to write about medieval Russia, and I'm happy to say that I'm finally "going back." My previous Russia book, GURPS Russia, explored medieval Russia as a setting for historical roleplaying, with additional fantasy and mythological material provided. My new Russia book, the Rus culture pack for Chivalry & Sorcery, will give full attention to Russia as a setting for myth and fantasy, allowing me to explore facets of the setting I've wanted to for years. Just discussing this project with C&S co-creator Ed Simbalist has already been a joy; the book should be even moreso.

Boldly Go

2/15/99: I'm working, this morning, on some Star Trek RPG material for Last Unicorn Games, and some web-surfing led me to TrekRPGNet . . . If you're a Trek roleplayer, it's an absolute must-click, with news and resources that rival the very best company-run sites for any RPG you can name. Very impressive. If there were such a thing as a Blue Room gaming-site award (and there might be soon . . .) this one would definitely rate it. When I have my own Trek RPG page up (coming soon); I'll provide a permanent link to it. In the meantime, drop in for a visit.

In local news, Sandra and I are pretty much fully recovered, and back to the business of living well and enjoying each other's company . . . our Valentine's Weekend was a great one, and this weekend sees me starting my new day job (at a local bookstore) as well as starting in on my new writing gigs. So, all is pretty well - now just keep your fingers crossed for us as we hope for the best from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Time to Heal

2/11/99: The bad news is that what Sandra and I had was no "24-hour" bug - we were bedridden and miserable for the weekend, each doing our best to comfort and pamper the other while stifling coughs and groans. What a pair we were! My sweetie is so very good to me. On monday, we went to the doctor together, and they gave us medicine to help battle the symptoms while we recovered. Still a bit weak but finally healing after one of the nastiest bouts of illness either of us can remember, we're over the worst of it and feeling human again. That's the good news!

In other good news, I get to do some of my favorite kinds of writing again: GMing tips! I'm writing the adventure-design chapter for the upcoming Star Trek (The Original Series) RPG from Last Unicorn, with none other than Ken Hite as my editor. We keep editing one another . . . One of these days we'll just settle in and coauthor - something we've been meaning to get around to! In the meantime, look for my take on what makes a good Trek adventure soon!

Sick Day

2/5/99: Today, Sandra and I are both home with a nasty cold, and with head pounding and body aching and nose sniffly, it occurs to me that I haven't updated the Blue Room in over a week! Well, here I am, passing some time while the turkey broth simmers for our soup. The good part about being sick is turkey noodle soup, you know. Lots of black pepper, please!

And yep, the look of the page has regressed. There was something a bit too slick about the new-year look, so I've retreated back to what's comfortable until I think of something better. Maybe I'm just overdosed on graphic-design from doing lots of logos for Pyramid Magazine lately . . . Nahh. I'm a PhotoShop Junkie and there's no getting around that. I think I just find this look more comfy, somehow. Less imposing.

Not much new on the site in the past week - a few link-fixes and suchlike. One signifigant update, though, is my Unlimited Mana article over on Craig Roth's site. Not only is there a graphic upgrade and a handy downloadable PDF of the Calamity Table, it's also a whole new "edition" - definitely worth checking out if you're a GURPS player fond of fantasy.

In other good news, Out of the Box, the weekly Mania column written by my buddy Ken Hite, can finally be linked to, since the latest column now has a consistent URL, instead of a date-specific one. Thank you, Mania! Now Ken can get the links he deserves.

Anyway, hope this finds everybody well. Drop Sandra and I an email to keep us company, today - we'll be the ones curled up and sniffling over our bowls of soup. Watch this space; more soon.

Bread and Cordite . . .

1/20/99: Two smells that satisfy! Bread for the cook (and eater!) in me, and cordite for the action-movie GURPS player in me. Both are present here on the Blue Room, and as of tonight, they're here even more:

On Gourmand Bleu, I've added an article I've been meaning to include here for a very long time: my bread article. Written for cooks who've been meaning to try bread baking, it includes tons of notes, advice, and variants that will allow anyone to bake dozens of different breads, rolls, and so on - it's the same recipe that Sandra and I use about twice a week. It's easy and inexpensive and so much better than the kind that comes in a plastic bag!

On my Gunmetal Blue page, I've added a new "catch-all" article of modern GURPS variants and options. This, plus the rest of the Gunmetal Blue material (and some of the optional rules I wrote for GURPS Black Ops) form the standard "options set" that I use for modern GURPS, from Supers to Hong Kong Cop dramas . . . The article also includes a rules option for a new armor stat that's useful in low-tech and fantasy games, too!

And there's more . . .

On the main GURPS page, I've added a link to some more of my cartoon art - in this case, the cover of All of the Above #13 - yet another bit of evidence that I should stick to writing, but it's kind of fun to look back on it, anyway ;)

And finally, as a curiosity, I've made available for a short time an archived "snapshot" of the Blue Room as it was right at the end of 1998. It's a big (1.3 megs! Download here!) ZIP file containing every single file that makes up the Blue Room . . . Just unzip it into the directory of your choice, open up any of the HTML files, and click to your heart's content, with no download-lag. Years from now, you can give the file to your grandchildren, to show them what the Blue Room was like back in the 20th century (a silly notion, I know, but it's 3:30 AM and I need sleep). I'll leave it up for a couple of weeks.

Games A'plenty

1/11/99: Back to work after a nice weekend. We did a gaming-night with friends, Saturday, playing Dino Hunt and Fluxx and Robo-Rally and having a good time making entire species of dino extinct, knocking each other into pits and so on. Sandra and I have been GURPSing again, too - doing a one-on-one swords-and-sorcery run when we get the time. Soon, I'll be experimenting with online GURPS, as well (via IRC - if you aren't familiar with IRC, click here and maybe I'll see you sometime on #TheBlueRoom on DALnet!)

My projects for the year are starting to come into focus, too, and it looks like my dance-card will be full, both with projects for nifty publishers (more on that, soon) and a few e-book projects of my own (ditto). I've also been looking at new and interesting day-job possibilities here in Austin, to keep the paychecks more predictable (any Austin employers needing a creative, smiling loon on the payroll, please don't hesitate to email me).

In short, life is interesting. And watch this space - within a week, there will be a new GURPS item, a new recipe, and the triumphant return of the Little Cartoon Bastards, who haven't seen the light of day since my days with All of the Above, the GURPS APA.

Happy 1999!

1/1/99: And what a year it's been! 1998 had everything from interstate moves to auto wrecks, with lots of fun stuff in-between to make it all worthwhile. 1999 is already promising to be interesting, too, with GURPS Black Magic in the near future, and my Top Secret Spring Project soon to follow. This year will see my first foray into electronic commercial publishing (in the form of a campaign for Risus), probably some interesting job-changes, and who knows what else? As long as I get to be with Sandra through it all, I'm sure it'll be great. Happy New Year to everybody!

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