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

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November 2014

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So, this is happening

The current stretch goal for the Dracula Dossier is £56,000. The dossier project is a pair of books that provides a campaign background, setting, and structure for a Nights Black Agents campaign in which your agents hunt down and stop the most notorious vampire the world has ever known.

The project is about £550 away from the 56K goal.

Screenshot 2014-11-25 14.14.09
I’m excited, even though this means my holidays will be spent in the company of werewolves and spies!

OK. Maybe I’m excited because this means my holidays will be spent in the company of werewolves and spies…

Steampunk Art

So, a couple of years ago, I backed a Kickstarter for a steampunk artist whose work I really admire. Dale Mathis works in metal and kinetic sculpture, and I really love his stuff. He’s local to Las Vegas and has a significant piece in the Brett Wesley Gallery.

Here’s what came in the mail about 2 weeks ago. OK, I know my video is all crappy compared to the one he has on his website, but I was so jazzed by the piece, I wanted to snap a quick video. I didn’t get the dice with mine.

Overall, the piece is really well made, fits together quite snugly, and is a beautiful piece. I’m very happy with it!

Our dining room/den is decorated in “Las Vegas,” so our bar, lighted sign, and paintings of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas sign are in there. The Dale Mathis piece might not seem like a natural fit, but with the local artist connection, I think it goes well.

Vignette is Done, with a little extra bit

I finished Vignette!

I finished knitting on Saturday night and stayed up a bit late to soak and block the pieces:

2014-11-23 07.39.32

Yesterday, I was kind of anxious to do the stitching up, so when it turned out that the Sunday game had more than enough players, I opted out and headed home.

On the way, I had some inspiration, though. See, Vignette is a lovely sweater, but… I wanted just a touch more to it. I stopped at the fabric store with some inspiration and bought something to match the buttons I already had.

These vintage buttons (40 cents for a card of 3 buttons!) had yellowed a bit over time, to what I’d call "light champagne."

2014-11-24 07.24.20

See those lace ribs along the front of the sweater? The ribs that also grace the sleeves?

A little bit of ribbon to match the buttons, and suddenly, they’re quite "the thing," don’t you think

2014-11-24 09.56.36

It looks just as good buttoned up as unbuttoned:

2014-11-24 09.57.12

Side view, no ribbons on the sleeves. I’ll decide some other time if I want to add them.

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Back view. Nothing much special, here, except I might have to undo the collar. I think the ribbed collar vertical gauge doesn’t match the back horizontal gauge (which is expected), and the collar is kind of rippling at the back. So I might undo that center seam, rip back a bit, and re-do that section, removing about 4 rows of the back collar and nudging it around until it fits.

2014-11-24 09.57.39

Vignette is into the third trimester

I am in the "third trimester" of knitting Vignette.

Long-sleeved sweaters can be broken down in thirds or even sixths. The back uses about one third of your yarn, the front uses another third, and both sleeves together use the last third. So when you finish the back of a pieced sweater, you are roughly one-third done with the sweater.

That’s not 100% true, of course. Some sweaters have more work on the back or front or sleeves. Short sleeves are less yarn. Some sweaters just confound you.

But Vignette is a nice sweater that isn’t giving me too much trouble and falls rather nicely into the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 model. I’ve used 5 and a half balls of yarn so far, and expect to use a total of 6.5 total. The yarn is Cascade superwash 220, which are 220 yards per ball (convenient labeling, there, Cascade!)

2014-11-19 13.02.20

I have picked out the buttons. They are plain pearl-like flat buttons that fit nicely through the buttonholes. They are made by Fruit of the Loom sometime back in the days best described as "vintage." They were made in New York state, and probably date back to the 1960’s. My mother gave them to me a couple of years ago when my button box was stolen out of a car (there are no button-junkies in Las Vegas that I know of– the button box was inside a craft bag that looked more or less like a purse… because my craft bags are, in fact, purses I buy at the thrift store.)

2014-11-19 13.02.34

Inheriting buttons and other sewing supplies from your parents and grandparents is actually a really special thing. Some time I’ll talk about that, but for now, let’s just say that, whether you make something with fiber or not, giving it to the next generation is a legacy that should not be understated.

This is sleeve #1:

2014-11-19 13.02.28

I made a change to the pattern. In the interest of making the pattern simpler for newer knitters, this pattern uses a basic cast on and knit 1" of the hem using a smaller needle, switch to the regular needle, purl a turning row, and then proceed in pattern. During the sewing-up, you fold the hem under and stitch it closed.

That’s a perfectly respectable way to turn a hem, but it’s not the "most proper" way to do it, which would have required two additional techniques, and would have made Vignette a more difficult pattern. The pattern as written is lovely and will do nice things for anyone knitting it.

The "more proper" way to turn a hem is to cast on with a provisional cast-on (I used a crochet cast on, because I am very comfortable with crochet), knit 1" in stockinette, switch needles, purl 1 row, knit 1" (3 rows) in the pattern, and then, on the wrong side of the knitting, work one stitch from the working needle and one stitch from the provisional cast on stitches together all the way across. At that point, the hem is turned under and done– and there’s one less thing to do during the seaming up.

This is sleeve #2:

2014-11-19 13.02.41

Note that the hem (which is currently curling in this photo) is already turned and knitted in. Go me!

At my current pace, with the upcoming things and events, I hope to be done by Thanksgiving, and definitely before the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

Which is good, because Vegas is getting chilly. It’s been 60 degrees this week!

Feral Dragons on an Obstacle Course

Last night, Dad, Mom, and Kiddo and I played a variation on the Goblin Quest playtest. This is a game in which you have 5 goblin characters and rotate through them as each of your goblins dies. You build a dice pool based on your relevant stats, though ultimately, you pick one to 4 d6’s to roll, with a 1/3 chance of success and a 1/3 chance of hit point loss (and each goblin has 2 hit points).

The result is universally a silly game where you’re trying to do whatever the quest is, before the clock (and your supply of goblins) runs out.

We modified it for the Feral Dragons that were invented last week, with a few changes. The clutch had Something We’re Good At, Something We’re Terrible At, and each dragon had a Special Feature that had to be somehow visible. You couldn’t just say “We’re smart.” You had to have some way that I would look at the character and see that they are smart.

Mechanically, Goblin Quest boils down to “build a dice pool of 1-4 d6’s, roll them, and narrate how you get hurt and/or succeed, based on the dice rolls. You need nx9 successes, where n is the number of players, over the course of the story, to complete the quest, and each player can get 10 injuries total before they are out. Statistically, it favors failure.

The FDM's Notes
The FDM’s Notes

I had everyone write down a clutch and good/terrible, and one feral dragon. Dad and Kiddo sped ahead and wrote down several ferals to start, but I mentioned they would probably want to change them when they came up in play.

Dad made his feral clutch based on the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.

The Mystery Machine Ferals (I wanted to kill Scrappy Doo more than anything else in any game I've ever played....)
The Mystery Machine Ferals (I wanted to kill Scrappy Doo more than anything else in any game I’ve ever played….)

Mom made hers based on Starbucks drinks.

Mocha died falling and breaking a nail, I believe....
Mocha died falling and breaking a nail, I believe….

And Kiddo made hers based on misery and pain… except not.

The Misery Clutch of Emo Power-Ups
The Misery Clutch of Emo Power-Ups

We also made a fiction rule that feral dragons who “die” are not dead. They turn to stone, but will be back to normal the next day. This explains a LOT about the other feral dragons and their relative lack of concern when someone is turned to stone.

As a back-pocket rule, losing the second hit point didn’t have to mean death or even being turned to stone for any feral dragon, as long as they were taken out of the story. This was important later.

I sketched a little map and they decided to have a quest of clearing out the trampoline (it was supposed to be a barn, but hey. Trampoline!) and that morphed into an obstacle course which would have crocodiles they needed to swing above on a rope, and a tire obstacle, and the trampoline. We invented another group of ferals, the Gloop Gloops, who would compete with them.

In the course of the game, we realized that the prize was the much-desired “Bone Thingy,” also known as a skeleton! If you’re paying attention to my Epyllion posts, you know that ferals who do not have a skeleton are Trouble. I think we know why, now.

The three stages of the adventure were to get rope and tires, set up the course and clear out the trampoline brush, and then run the race.

In the first scene, Dad’s dragon “Fred” whose special feature was “wears an ascot” cast some powerful dragon magic. Now, we’re not saying he turned into a pile of tires. We’re just saying that when the smoke cleared, there were tires and Fred was gone.

Kiddo’s dragon Undead had a special feature of being able to remove her body parts and reattach them. She lost her last hit point when she took off her own head to scare the rival Gloop Gloops. There is now a feral dragon statue holding her own head out with a scary face.

The Gloop Gloops showed up in scene two, during the setup, and cast a curse on the dragons. From that point on, the characters all had an extra d6 for their dice, an orange die that I had in my collection. They had to roll it until it was somehow negated, and the d6 always had a -1. This escalated the failures quite a bit, but that d6 rolls 6’s a lot, and on the balance, I think it helped more than hindered the players.

The hijinx in the game were very high. The tension was ratcheted up in the final scene, the actual race, where the players had to decide how much their dragons wanted to cheat ( the Gloop Gloops are notorious cheaters).

At one point, Dad’s dragons (they were modeled on the Mystery Machine characters) unmasked a crocodile as Old Man Winters.

Kiddo had made a feral dragon named Talent who was good at “Everything.” I passed a note to her dad that this was Kiddo’s 4th RPG session and she was already min maxing. I’m so proud.

Her next-to-last character was L.M., who was super-smart and had a power armor suit (power creep!) L.M. is an interesting dragon, because Kiddo was emotionally invested in her. When L.M. rolled a bunch of 1’s on the dice, she wanted to take it back.

Her parents were firm– you can’t take it back.

I’m the FDM (Feral Dragon Master). Kiddo was really upset. Something about what had just happened wasn’t fair to her mind, and it was going badly. Trust in my DMing was being lost. Time for the back-pocket rule.

“OK, Kiddo. No matter what L.M. does, you would still have to roll those dice and sit by the results. So, let’s look at what happened. This isn’t a great outcome– you got Something Good, and a lot of 1’s and 2’s. So, think for a few minutes. All that matters to the outcome is that L.M. is going to help her next team mate– probably Scrappy Doo– but she is otherwise out of the race. How do you want her to be out of the race?”

We went back and forth. I suggested a bunch of non-death ways for L.M. to be out– including the idea that her power armor jets power up and she goes so fast she can’t turn around and come back to the race in time.

In the end, she decided that L.M. would slip out of her power armor and fly up into a tree, disqualifying herself, but being available as a “swing” to boost the next contestant in the race. L.M. survives the obstacle course (which is good, because I’m going to bring her back next week as the spokesman for this feral colony).

Scrappy Doo, meanwhile, was taken out when he was revealed as a meddling kid (I think?)

In the final die roll of the night, the race is heading for the finish line. Everyone is down except for Kiddo’s last character, a male dragon named Pain. Pain casts some special portal magic in front of the Gloop Gloops to make them run into a portal and out, then straight back into the first portal. I call it the Gloop Gloop Endless Loop and it’s the best thing of the night.

Unfortunately, it also takes out Pain’s last hit point. At this time, we’re ready to wind down, and Kiddo is having a hard time losing in the story. The players didn’t win, but neither did the Gloop Gloops. More importantly, I want to tie this story back to our big dragons. So I steal my earlier idea.

“The portal magic goes awry, and Pain is suddenly super-sonic– he’s so fast, and he can’t stop moving. He darts all the way around the world in a single, unbroken line. His race attracts Lydia’s dragon magic– in fact, it’s the homing beacon she follows on her quest–”

“Who’s Lydia?”

I point to Mom. “Lydia is your mom’s character, remember? We’re back to the big dragons now.”


I describe how, back with Samera, Lydia, Trogdor, Samsmelt, and the dozen ferals from the cave, the party is gliding down into this forest clearing, where they see this bizarre scene, with multiple stone-shaped feral dragons, and a bunch of obstacles, a random crocodile or two, and a couple of portals with an endlessly looping relay team of dragons. The skeleton is nowhere in sight, which, as Trogdor dourly points out, is definitely not good.

The scene upon arrival of Samera, Trogdor, Lydia, and Samsmelt.

In the end, 12 dragons from the players were turned to stone, not counting the Gloop Gloops who were almost certainly equally affected during this race. 1 dragon disappeared, perhaps becoming a pile of tires. 1 dragon is hanging out above the crocodile-infested river. And 1 dragon went on a supersonic trip around the world, catching the quest spell of a much larger dragon and her clutch of cave ferals.

Next session is going to be an interesting journey, indeed!

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