Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading: David Drake

  • The Mirror of Worlds, the second volume of The Crown of the Isles, by David Drake, copyright © 2007; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, mass market edition: November 2008; ISBN-10, 1st printing: 0-7633-5117-X, ISBN-13: 978-0-7633-5117-X.

    This is 2nd book in the trilogy that concludes Drake's The Lord of the Isles series. I've really enjoyed this series because of the interesting characters, interesting setting, and interesting magic.

Recent Reading: Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Mistral's Kiss, by Laurell K. Hamilton, copyright © 2006; Ballantine Books/The Random House Publishing Group/ Random House, Inc., mass market edition 2007; ISBN 978-0-345-44361-8.

  • A Lick of Frost, by Laurell K. Hamilton, copyright © 2007; Ballantine Books/The Random House Publishing Group/ Random House, Inc., mass market edition 2008; ISBN 978-345-49591-4.

Two more entertaining entries in Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series.

Toon: The Tomb of Throckmorton P. Ruddygore

So, one of the things L.B. really wanted to do this winter vacation was play Toon with the kids. Unfortunately, since I'd been so bad about getting things prepared and even worse getting things scheduled, we almost didn't get to play. We did get to play a short Toon session, though, while visiting C.P.B., my older brother, and his family.

The roster was:

  • L.B., I think playing a chocolate loving bear

  • C.P.B. and M.B., playing an elf named Ralph

  • D.B., playing a hovering suit of plate armor

Toon, as an inherently comic game, is hard for me to prepare and run. Luckily, it has a very useful “Adventure Generator”, and I had used it earlier to get some general ideas, and I wrote a few paragraphs in my notebook about them and picked and adapted some characters from the many NPCs in the Toon rulebook. When we finally got around to playing we didn't have time to create new PCs, so I just passed out some old character sheets, and they all picked toons they'd created in earlier sessions, and away we went. I pretty much improvised on the stuff from my notebooks, and the kids seemed to have fun.

Tales of the Fabulous N, Part 1

I haven't been able to get in as much gaming this holiday season as either I or the kids would have liked, largely because I haven't been able to prepare things. However, we did get to play through part of the Triple Ace Games free adventure “The Tale of the Fabulous Four”. Luckily, there were actually six pre-generated characters supplied, since there were actually six kids playing. It's set in Boston in 1915 and is about a bunch of kids who overhear some criminals planning to steal a diamond and decide to thwart them.


  • L.B. playing Nancy Hestletwain

  • T.A. playing Lucius Munroe

  • E.A. playing Samantha Hardcastle

  • M.A. playing Oscar Whitfield

  • T.B. playing Arthur Abrahams

  • O.B. playing Brent Hardcastle

Actual Play

We played through Act 1 and Act 2, though I compressed much of Act 2 because we had a very limited amount of time for the session; I skipped Scene 3 entirely, and wrapped things up completely differently.

I was definitely off my game, and six screaming kids didn't help things — for some reason I had more trouble keeping them settled down and on track than usual.

There were some good moments, though, and I think the kids had fun.

As for the adventure itself, I had a few problems with it. I suspect that if I'd had more time to adapt it things would have gone better. Oh well.

We'll probably finish this off this summer, when T.B. and O.B. are back visiting.

Recent Reading: S. Thomas Bond

  • Farming As I Have Known It: 60 Years in Central Appalachia, by S. Thomas Bond, copyright 2007; first edition.

    This book, on farming and farm life, was written by my father over 10 years in his spare time, and is an absolutely fascinating look at farming from the era of my great-grandparents and grandparents through to the present day.

    Although I grew up on a working farm and spent most of my time before I graduated from college working on it, I was never as deeply involved with farming as my father, something I now regret deeply. This book gives a very good idea of the determination, hard work and deep thought required to build and keep a family farm in West Virginia.

    Dad had copies of this printed and some of them were Christmas presents for us for 2008.

    The book is available on the web.

Recent Reading: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, John Higgins

  • Watchmen, by written by Alan Moore, illustrated and lettered by Dave Gibbons, coloured by John Higgins; copyright © 1986, 1987 DC Comics, Inc.; Book Club edition; no ISBN listed. Originally published in twelve issues in magazine form in 1986 & 1987.

    Knowing that there was a Watchman movie in the works, I decided to re-read the comic. I enjoyed it again.