Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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August 2013

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39 and 100%

With my genetics, there’s a good chance I’ll live to be 100 years old. I might be diabetic and creaky for the last 30 of that, but 100 isn’t out of reach.

I don’t want to live to 100. Rather, I want to live to 100%.

Last week, I turned 39. Next year, I’ll be 40. The “big four-oh.” Whew!

Coincidentally, next year is also Dungeons & Dragon’s 40th birthday, which means a big party at GenCon, and I hope to make it to the big show for that.

But anyway, here’s how I am at age 39:

  • I’m overweight.
  • My left hip is very tight and crunchy. I think there’s something wrong with my lower back.
  • I ran a 5K on August 10th, with a 45 minute time. I’m happy about that. The following Monday, I had a major setback in my running and had an awful asthma attack.
  • I live in a city where it’s 105 degrees at 5 PM in August. I’m looking forward to running through the winter, when it’s in the 50’s and 60’s. I might even get to wear my long-sleeved running shirt.
  • I just finished up several knitting projects, and have decided to learn entrelac (I want to knit the Forest Path Stole).
  • My sister is getting married soon. I haven’t met her new guy, and I’m understandably cautious about the speed with which she’s started a new, serious relationship. But her relationship is not my relationship, and I’m not a dick. I’m going. I was initially hoping to be down a couple of dress sizes, but I haven’t lost a single pound since I started working out three times a week. My dress is fabulous, though, and it does fit.
  • I’m happy, and married, and those two things have something to do with each other, but not everything.
  • I have a lot of friends and a busy social life.
  • I am never bored.

When I talk about “living to 100%,” it’s this idea I  got a year and a half ago when my nephew Austin died. He would have been 15 last week, by the way– our birthdays were 6 days apart. We celebrated together a few times, and there are few things in the world as awesome as sharing your 27th birthday party with a 3 year old and having a Blues Clues birthday cake. My family thought I was crazy for wanting that. Austin and I “got it,” though. 3 year olds can share well, as long as there’s enough for everyone to have cake and ice cream.

Austin was an awesome kid, and I’m not just saying that as his beloved aunt. He was into everything– he wanted to be a marine biologist… on Mars. He was smart and funny and loving. That kid was generous with himself and his affection. I do not know if he was ever deeply hurt by the stupidity that is human nature, but I like to hope not. I like to think that, whatever bumps he had in his road, he shook them off like the little man he was.

In the end, when it all comes down to it, he had exactly what I have, what you have, and what every person on this planet has.

One life.

We get one life. One hundred percent of one entire life.

We can squander it. We can zone out, get high, stay drunk. We can waste time, be bored, attach to screens, ignore ourselves, ignore the other humans around us.

But we get 100%. What we choose to do with that is up to us.

Don’t get me wrong– my life is full of diversions. I have many lovely hobbies. And I do zone out sometimes in front of the TV, or the computer screen– I’m as guilty of being distracted as anyone.

But part of living to 100% is that I try to do less of that unproductively– I try now to make TV time into knitting time, at the very least. In that way, that time is not wasted (or waisted, as the case so often is with sedentary distractions!) I try not to play stupid games on my phone– little distractions that pull me away from the real world and into the world of bouncing gems or flying birds or dancing candy canes.

I came to a realization earlier this year that I was struggling to breathe after walking up the stairs in my house. That’s… not healthy. I started running again. Time spent running is time I spend filling in my 100% life. It is time that gives back to my body. I have a complicated relationship with my body– for many years, I have treated my body as a thing that carries my brain. Almost all of the things I enjoy can be done with my brain and my hands (yes, even sex– the brain is the biggest sex organ we have!) But my body is more than that, and I have been ungrateful for the legs that power me forward, the heart that keeps beating in my chest, the lungs that fuel me, even when they’re complaining about some new exertion. I do not want to come to the end of my life (whenever that end may be) and have my body fail long before my brain does, powering down in stages until all that is left is my mind, frustrated at the limits imposed by a decaying shell.

I am all right with my body changing as I age. I expect that, I want that. But I also want to change, in some ways, for the better. I am healthier today than I was a year ago.

I am closer to living to 100%.

Tales from the Arco: Game Closed

I’m sure I forgot to mention this: My Saturday night Fate game has ended. We had 4 total sessions: 1 world-creation, 1 character creation, and 2 adventure sessions. Unfortunately, those 4 sessions took about 4 months, due to time conflicts making us only able to play about once a month. Eventually, one of my players (remember, I had 2 players total) had to drop due to the demands of being a new father.

This is understandable, if disappointing. Tales from the Arco had some really clever stuff going on, a fascinating mechanic behind the scenes, and just a bunch of places I wanted to take it.

Would I do the same creation-method again? Absolutely!

But I wish, I really wish, I could get a stable gaming group going again.

Living Dungeon World – Session 1

Yesterday, I ran my first attempt at Living Dungeon World, a shared-world organized play kind of campaign in which the DMs share the fronts and setting.

It’s similar to Living Forgotten Realms and Pathfinder Society and similar organized play campaigns. Except, for LDW, there isn’t an overarching organization, and we’re really just starting to try it out at Avatar.

I had 2 players, one with a cleric and the other with a bard. Party balance with 2 PCs is very challenging in Dungeons and Dragons. In Dungeon World– it was completely fine to have just 2 PCs.

In LDW, there’s a concept called “idioms” which basically reward the PCs with experience points for selecting moves that support certain behavioral roles. The character’s class determines one idiom. The DM selects the other. I chose “Converse” for both of their idioms. With 2 PCs, neither of whom was overly martial, I knew they would want to talk their way out of trouble as much as possible. The adventure I’d selected would support that, and I wanted to reward them for those efforts.

The cleric was a “cleric of lawfulness and justice” and the bard was… the opposite. A complete hedonist. I was looking forward to seeing how these two would find a way to come together, and so I started the adventure with some “prelude” role-playing in a town, to give them a chance to figure out why they’d adventure together for more than 5 minutes.

Eventually, I gave the bard a reason to need a cleric– he’s always chasing the next high, and lich dust is rumored to be one of the best drugs in the world. It is, however, very hard to obtain, since it’s made of the dust of an intelligent undead. However, clerics… well, clerics are good at killing undead.

And did I mention that, right there on the map, is The Grey Wastes, a land overrun with undead? Good, excellent. The adventure begins. It was about 2:30 PM by then– we play from noon to 4. Didn’t matter– all of the pre-adventure stuff is just as important to the fictional world in DW as the actual planned adventure. If we spend an entire session on preparing a bardic performance, but everyone has fun, and it’s an epic and glorious performance…. well, that’s a successful session, in my eyes.

For this adventure, I used one of the Five Room Dungeons— I like using pre-made adventures in organized games. They make a lot more sense, in terms of dropping in an adventure that doesn’t take too long, and having enough leeway to adapt to whatever the players throw at me. I previously used a One Page Dungeon for the Dungeon World game last month– a game which went pretty well, considering it was my second time GMing the system.

The premise of this  adventure is that the three princes of the Grey Wastes killed each other before one was crowned. If one is crowned, the other two will be laid to rest. But the PCs have to pick which to crown. They talked their way through the role-playing encounter with the dead princes’ ghosts, then talked their ways past the other traps and guardians placed there by the princes’ minions. They did this largely by lying and claiming that they would crown whichever prince the trap/guardian wanted. The cleric thought he wasn’t lying– he intended to split the crown in three, Solomon-style, and give it to the princes.

The crown proved to be more resilient than his mace, however, so they eventually picked a prince (the one they thought was the middle son) and crowned him…. only to discover that the eldest prince had secretly had his minions trade their remains, so the PCs were deceived into crowning the eldest!

Throughout this adventure, they would periodically ask what danger to be wary of. If they rolled poorly, I just kind of shrugged and said things like “three fratricidal undead princes in a land of zombies? What could possibly go wrong?”

In the end, the new lich-king gave them gems of protection to get out of his lands, while they stole the dust of his now-destroyed brothers. The bard has a mother-lode of lich dust, and the cleric has numerous legal complications to think about– if he crowned one prince, but it was the other’s body, what’s the legal implications of that rule? Sure, it’s an academic question, since the uncrowned prince is now dust that’s rapidly going up the bard’s nose…. but it’s still a good question to ponder over a cup of tea in an inn without any zombies clawing at his face.

When the game was over, as the GM in a shared world, I had a responsibility to help the PCs level up, and then log the adventure in our newly-created LDW Campaign Guide, kept in the LDW at Avatar Google folder.

Side Note: I will need to change one rule in the LDW player’s instructions– our games need to be a little more PG-13 rated. Too many sex jokes (not innuendo– just outright cock-sucking references) that really didn’t need to be “on-screen.” I’m fine with drug use as a plot device, and I don’t mind a little saucy humor. But I need our games to continue to be welcome at the local comic book shop.

5K – ran the whole way

sprinklersprintI did the Sprinkler Sprint this morning. Starting time was a little after 7, finished at about 8, but the course wasn’t a full 5K so I jogged out the last 1/3 of a mile or so. It was totally fun and awesome, not too hot, lots of super soakers and fun water features to get us all wet and keep us cool!

I picked up my race packet last night. I think this might be the second time, ever, that I’ve picked up my race packet early (first time was the Santa 5K, but you have to get it early or you won’t have your santa costume). Usually I forget, and then I’m trying to figure out what to do with a bag of goodies while I run. Well, I picked it up yesterday evening at the local running store, where I also had my gait analyzed and bought a new pair of running shoes.

Note: I am not crazy enough to wear new shoes for a race. In my photo here, you will see I’m wearing the Nikes I’ve trained in. You’ll also see that I appear to be barely jogging.

Anyway, my pace on this run was pretty damned good– 14:41 minutes/mile. My best non-treadmill pace so far since starting the Couch-to-5K program, in fact.

Here’s my race data from RunDouble, in case you’re wondering.

The next phase of my training is to prepare for the Glow Run and Zombie Run, both of which are 5K runs in October. I might sneak an actual timed race in there as well. I’m going to continue using RunDouble for my training– there’s a “5K improver” program that helps improve your pace/time. I’d like for my hips to not hurt on the last mile or so. And the Nikes will be moved to “walking shoe” status, while my new Saucanys take up their task of keeping my feet happy and injury-free.

Looking for a guy…

Not a journal entry, but a flashback to an earlier time in Gwenn’s life with the Resistance….

Cadet Gwenn Jade stared at the small, disheveled unit of “scouts” she’d been commissioned. After the success of her last mission, she’d been given a small command. Nothing big, but a handful of spies and scouts who were supposed to move ahead of the vanguard and report back with terrain reports, enemy engagements, and local demeanor.

They were far from the best scouts in the Resistance. Charitably, they were “a group of soldiers with few applicable skills.” She had a thief who was missing two fingers, thanks to having been caught. A drunkard who was known for his inability to gracefully lose at cards. A man-child who she was secretly hoping would go AWOL as soon as he realized his commanding officer was a woman. And Ordune.

She leaned over at the druid. “These are my guys?”

“Until you recruit others, my lady.”

Continue reading Looking for a guy…

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