Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My non-interview of James Raggi

Over memorial day weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Role Play Convention in Cologne, Germany.  I was there as part of the SCA, who was conducting demonstrations of various arts and crafts as well as combat. 

The day before the convention we were infilling our section equipment and we got off on the wrong floor.  And what do I see before me but Mr. James Raggi, in the flesh, checking his cell phone about 10 feet away from me.  After quickly confirming that no one in my party had any idea where they were and needed to call our group coordinator to find out where we were supposed to go, I zipped on over to Mr. Raggi to say "hi". 

I don't regularly (or irregularly) rub elbows with the rich and famous, but I've seen famous folks before at conventions and kept my cool -they're just people after all right? However, I was in a bit of a shock seeing Mr. Raggi there and as a result felt embarrassingly giddy at the experience and just had to gush and tell him how much I liked Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and how excited I was to see that he was at this convention.  He cooly accepted my appreciation for his efforts and pointed off to where his booth was. I told him I'd swing by and check it out. By then the rest of the group had figured out we were supposed to be on a different floor and it was time to start hauling our gear to where it needed to go.

The next day.

I had been rotating in and out fighting for about two hours, happy but exhausted, and finished for the morning.  I stripped off about half of my gear (since I was just going to be fighting again in a few hours) but was still a stinking sweaty mess even if I did have a new shirt on. 

My wife decided to take me upstairs and check out the vendors, but I had to hold the baby.  We looked at various stuff, but I was on a mission-  I was going to see the Lamentations of the Flame Princess booth.

A couple of years ago I had gone into roleplaying hibernation.  Work, family and so forth were just taking so much time that I couldn't get a group together and couldn't really participate in any regular game, and so my dice were gathering dust.  Coming across Lamentations of the Flame Princess re-ignited the sense of wonder and fun that I had for years with roleplaying.  As a result I bought pretty much everything I could from the line.  Recently a new book was released "Veins of the Earth" and it was massive, which unfortunately meant that the shipping from Finland was going to be about 20 Euro just for one book.  I had put it on hold until some other books were released, but hey here was an opportunity to pick it up.

So we stop by the unassuming LotFP booth that is manned by James and only James (see totally on a first name basis now).  It doesn't have a lot of the flash of other booths, but had a cool banner and a couple of tables that were crammed full of books and shirts.  He had some other customers that he was helping there, but quickly and efficiently handed me a price list that was printed out just for the convention (Seriously, if you can get to a convention with LotFP there you get some great prices!)

He asked if I wanted to check out any of the other books at the table But I had everything he was selling except for the one book.  So my lovely wife passed over the money and got the book and a price list because it looked cool.  In total, the interaction was short and swift.

I wanted to say a lot more, and ask a bunch of questions and just talk about the hobby in general.  However, he was there to do business, there were other customers looking at stuff and I knew I had only so long before I had to be back downstairs for the next combat demonstration.

I would like to point out that I looked like crap after fighting, could still feel the sweat pouring off of me, had a bruise forming on my chin from where a good whack had gotten me, and had a floppy baby hanging off of me.  I probably smelled worse than I looked as well.

I went on my way, and just gushed to my wife instead who had raised her eyebrow at me shelling out 60 Euro for a book I hadn't even cracked the cover of, but I reminded her that she loved me and technically SHE had handed over the money and bought me the book as a gift.  Then I stopped and told her to hold on.

The other customer was gone and so I went back to at least get a photo.

James smiled and said yes, I finally got out a bit about how I loved the LotFP line, and to keep up the good work.  He came around to the front of the booth and asked my wife for a count down for the picture. 






He screamed and head banged like his favorite metal band had just come on stage.  My wife nearly dropped the camera she was so surprised (meanwhile the baby had fallen asleep and just continued to be passed out).

So you know what James did?   He took another photo with me.  And he screamed again. 

I still wanted to talk, but I had already gotten so much, and what was I going to ask, probably the same stuff that gets asked in real interviews, and really the last thing I wanted to do was stop him from doing what he was there to do. Spread the gospel of weird horror roleplaying.

So I went on my way and did more fighting and just enjoyed the busy chaos that is working at a convention. 

Sunday when we were cleaning up and I was bone tired and exhausted I stopped and thought about how much fun and work conventions are, and I thought of James working the booth spreading the word of LotFP and how tired he must be after two LONG days of work by himself (mind you he is selling books in English at a German convention, and while every German I have had the pleasure of meeting speaks really good English, he is competing against products all around him- in German).

I also thought: Crap.  I never introduced myself. 

So James, if you ever read this.  Hi, I'm Tim and I'm a big fan. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Paranoia Play Report

I got to be a player rather than a GM in this game, so who knows what else was going on between notes being passed.

Another great day-cycle to be a trouble-shooter in the service of The Computer and Omega Complex.  I'd recently gotten out of the med bay after getting pretty shot up during our last mission, thankfully I'd kinda blocked most of the bullets with my hand and the doc-bot in its infinite wisdom had replaced my hand with a cybernetic one rather than trying to patch what was left together.

Well after morning hygiene my comm-pilot activated and let me know that I had a mission briefing to attend.  No time like the present!.  I was joined in the briefing room by two other red clearance trouble-shooters that I has worked with in the past,  Jaxx-R and Dillon, just Dillon.  Oh any your narrator?  I'm Johnny-R-GUD-1.

I probably should have paid more attention to the orange clearance clone that was there to give us our briefing, but before he could say anything the monitor came to life with the all seeing eye informing us of our mission efficiency from last time.  90% over all  effectiveness, 70% loyalty, 80% happiness, but only 40% hygene.  The lowest performing member of the team was Kadesh-R-BUB.  Shortly after that the orange clone was executed for failing to have all members of the trouble-shooter team at the briefing.

Our new briefer (another orange) was a real knockout.  she informed us that we have the privilege of escorting Scrub-bot-007 (Hero of the Complex, you've seen its biopic right?) to Sector 2 Subsection E floor 47.  There was an explosion at the sticky syrup factory and the scrub-bots there had become bogged down.  Our mission was to escort 007 (Hero of the Complex) to meet with the scrub-bots and provide a re-supply, 007 (Hero of the Complex)'s safety was our utmost priority.  We were informed that due to an unexplained problem with several bots being damaged during our last mission all of our weapons were put on a safety linked to 007 (Hero of the Complex) who was the only one who could deactivate the safety.

We then went to R&D to pick up our supplies and meet with 007 (Hero of the Complex).  We were issued cleaning supplies, several vats of solvent along with experimental batches 108 (not to be operated by bots) and 107 (we were instructed to report upon their performance compared to the standard solvent) hazmat suits, a flamethrower and a solvent spraying power lifter.

We made pretty good time to Sector 2 Subsection E floor 47 with the only complication being the hordes of adoring fans, on the bright side we picked up a few of our own as we were semi-famous for being 007 (Hero of the Complex)'s security detail.

I did get two unsolicited messages, one asking me to spread a audio file in the security compromised sector and another telling me to cause some destruction and take a photo of it to show I can party.  Huh, ok.

The sector was on lockdown. A blue clearance clone made us decontaminate before we went into the sector.  This presented a slight complication as the labels for 107 and 108 were scrubbed off by the decontamination process.  Oh well, onward!

We followed the trail cut through the sticky syrup that enveloped the sector.  It oozed over the floor, and poured through the windows and just about everything was stuck to it.  Pretty soon we were seeing graffiti and hearing tribal drums in the background.  Just look at the chaos that ensues when security cameras get spotty service!

We pushed on past some broken scrub-bots and the remains of some clones until we encountered a power substation that had been destroyed.   The remains of some clones were scattered around like the mess made by a roomba that had run over dog poo.  I posed in front of the burned out substation with the flamethrower and sent it to one of the mysterious e-mails.  Dillon, just Dillon put on the power suit and started to cut a path through the sticky mess that blocked us from going further while Jaxx and I inspected a tool box and nearby box full of asamov chips, the nifty little components that tell robots not to hurt clones.  Huh, what was a box of those doing here?   We pressed on, and started to hear the beat of some primal drums beating in the distance.  007 (Hero of the Complex) insisted we press on and not investigate.

Jaxx was really starting to question 007 (Hero of the Complex)'s loyalty   He was convince that 007 was leading us to our doom and that 007 (Hero of the Complex)had never really defeated the traitor Laz-O-RUS (apparently on his 24th clone of evil!) Well, there was no time to discuss this further as a rocket whizzed through the air and landed squarely on the power walker operated by Dillon, just Dillon.  He existed the injured walker while I screamed at 007 (Hero of the Complex) to let us use our weapons (it agreed as long as we fought for it).  We left Jaxx to get 007 (Hero of the Complex) to find cover and stay safe.  There were two heavily armed clones coming towards us.  I yelled "STOP" from behind cover and they did (!) but before I could discuss anything further Dillon, just Dillon opened up fire on them.  The firefight was going well for us when we suddenly heard a shot ring out from behind us.  Dillon, just Dillon ran back to investigate and I charged forward to finish off the two anti-robot clones (and loot the bodies - an SMG, EMP rifle, and 4 EMP grenades).

To our horror 007 (Hero of the Complex) was gravely injured as a hole had been shot into its outer shell.  Jaxx didn't know where it had come from but was fairly certain he could fix it, though he would need some parts to fix the damaged motivator and voice modulator, until then we could only communicate with 007 (Hero of the Complex) via texting on our comm-pilots.  So we left Jaxx to fix 007 (Hero of the Complex) and Dillon, just Dillon and I went back to the broken scrub-bots we had previously passed to get spare parts.

We made good headway and a docbot where I was able to upload the audio file I was given before the mission, we piked up some supplies as well.  Unfortunately there was a large group of clones dancing naked (!)  around a fire with some primitive weapons.  There was no way we could salvage the scrub-bot parts while they were there.  Suddenly, and without warning, Dillon,  just Dillon stripped off his clothes (!) and went to dance among them.  His distraction worked, as I gathered up the parts, but not as he intended.  You see, he kind of tripped and knocked some of the dancers over, then when he went to help one up they overcompensated and fell forward plunging their spear into a bystander.  Soon screams of "The new guy stabbed Fritz!" were being thrown around and Dillon, just Dillon was being chased by an unruly mob.  I hoped to scatter them and so threw a (EMP) grenade into the group.  Since I knew it wouldn't really hurt anyone I made sure to yell really loudly "GRENADE!" which caused a brief moment of panic and he almost got away, but then one of the primal clones distented its jaw and shot out a whip-like tongue at Dillon, just Dillon.   I went running back (well as fast as I could carrying all those parts) not wanting to waste Dillon, just Dillon's efforts.  Thankfully Dillon, just Dillon was able to separate himself from the group, and started to catch up to me.  Of course this meant the mob of primals was catching up to me too.  So I decided to brake their morale by handing off the spare parts to Dillon, just Dillon and using one hand to spray bullets from the SMG and another to shoot the flamethrower, effectively creating a wall of "nope" for them to try to get past.  It worked and they ran off somewhere giving us time to get back.  Unfortunately, the sticky syrup had begun to ooze back into our previously clean path and our return treck took a significant amount of time.  So much so that when we returned Jaxx, 007 (Hero of the Complex) and our supplies were gone.

A brief interlude.
While we where gone, Jaxx wanted to hack into 007 (Hero of the Complex)'s memory banks and find out what was going on with him leading us, in Jaxx's mind, to certain doom.  So he shot open an access panel and was a little too successful.  Once we left again he hacked into 007 (Hero of the Complex) and reprogrammed him to be honest (this was a fuzzy concept, so really really compliant was what happened) but was unable to find any compromising data logs or programs.  In fact the only thing of note he could find was the memory of when 007 (Hero of the Complex) defeated the evil traitor Laz-O-RUS.  Laz-O-RUS was running somewhere and tripped over 007 (Hero of the Complex) and proceeded to fall out of a window to his death.  Unfortunately, while he was busy hacking away at 007 (Hero of the Complex's) memory banks he didn't notice the group of tribal asomov free scrub-bots that snuck up upon them and took the whole lot captive.  Back at their camp the scrub-bots tried to decide what to do with Jaxx, but he convinced them that he could fix 007 (Hero of the Complex) and since the scrub-bots weren't programmed for repair they agreed, sort of.  They fashioned a noose with grenades around his neck so if he tried anything funny they could blow his head off.

Back to the two non-kidnapped clones...

We arrived to see everything gone, but there were some pretty handy tracks leading north through the sticky syrup.  So we followed.  We crested a hill and saw Jaxx surrounded by a bunch of scrub-bots and 007 (Hero of the Complex) in the center.  Suddenly Jaxx lunged toward the scrub-bot chief pulling out a hidden pistol with one hand and pulling off the grenade noose with another.  It was all very dramatic and heroic.  It was also very dramatic and heroic his head went pop as the grenades blew up sending bits of Jaxx everywhere.

We sat and stared for a moment.  I saw 007 (Hero of the Complex), our cleaning supplies piled up, and a bunch of scrub-bots.  This was actually what we were trying to have happen.  So I worked my way around the edge to get a view of 007 (Hero of the Complex)'s good side (the side NOT showing any damage) and got a photograph of the scene.  Looks like our mission was complete.  Just to make sure I started recording my comm-pilot conversation with 007 (Hero of the Complex)

Me:  007 are you surrounded by the scrub-bots we were looking for?
007:  Yes.
Me:  007, are the cleaning supplies safely in the scrub-bots possession?
007: Yes.
Me:  007, have we completed all mission parameters in accordance with our mission briefing to your satisfaction?
007: Yes.
Me (turns off recorder) 007, one more question, and please remember, high ratings reflect not only upon me, but upon your role as a leader-bot and the computer's planning as well (turns on recorder)
Me: 007, please rate your satisfaction with your troubleshooter team escort on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest.
007: 10.
Me. Thank you 007.  It has been a privilege working with you.

And so Dillon, just Dillon and I returned from our mission and hit debriefing, just as Jaxx's new clone was being decanted.