Tag Archives: games

News: Kari the Anxious Heathen

So for those who are curious about why there are long stretches of me being gone (besides the usual illness that I seem to attract), well, the currently ruling queen of the household, Kari, has developed anxiety. The DumDum has been chewing her back claws and trying to yank them out, licked parts of her legs bald, and of course is her usual clingy self the rest of the time, only with a higher hunger and not sleeping enough. We’re not sure if me going on a trip aggravated it, or if this has just been steadily building to the current crescendo. The vet has put her on some anti-depressants (topical compound gel too, so less likely I’ll get bit), and they seem to be doing her a lot of good.

Now, part of what is possibly leading to her high anxiety is her being the only cat in the household. She went from her mama and siblings to me and Tsuki, but it’s been a year since we lost Tsuki. She may not be adjusting well to being alone a lot during the day. So, cue Operation Sibling. We had a couple of good candidates, but after review, I went with Charlie, who seemed the most laid-back and yet energetic, which is the combo I needed. They seemed to be working out…except Kari just goes and goes and goes like a demented Energizer Bunny who instigates the lashing out, and then is too rough. Charlie put up with her nonsense for a couple of days, and then enough was enough, and I took him back to his foster mom.

(Note: I am well aware that you are supposed to do the closed-door thing when introducing cats. However, Kari can’t be locked away from me with her anxiety, and Charlie was too social to be locked away from the only human to interact with, which may have been the problem and I need an independent, energetic yet mellow cat.)

Current plan is to put her on her meds for a full six months, then after her next check in at the vet and her calming down from that, we can take a look around again and see if there’s anything like what I’m needing in the right age range. Right now it’s currently kitten explosion, and I can’t go under six months old, so I kinda need to wait until those kittens have had a chance to grow up. (I was told six months to two years old, I took a risk with Charlie and never again.)

I haven’t been completely without work, however. Mystic Riders is plugging along, now with some maps and more spreadsheets. I’m also trying to get my notes organized and put in the right places for it, so when I go back to working on demo weeks I haven’t completely confused myself. In addition I am working on maps, of the camps and the topography of the districts as I write them. This means Amethyst needs a topography update (and oops, I need to finish Ruby, just remembered I didn’t do town placement), and Sphalerite needs both, but then I’m caught up.

Right now, besides the organizing of all my various folders, I am editing one of Ginny’s books so she can get it out to market. There’s a few fanfics in progress that kinda get rotated around, but I am working on a stand-alone book while I wait on cover art for Sun’s Guard, which I’ll touch on first. It will still hopefully be published in September, I am hoping to have cover art by the end of the month come hail or high water so I can start advertising it here, on Twitter, and possibly start an Instagram account for what little art/photography I do if anyone would be interested. Lots of Kari pictures, so you know, there’s that. Everything for MR though will be cropped to smithereens or watermarked from here to Sunday.

The stand alone was meant to be short and then exploded on me. It’s based on the princess in the tower trope mixed with Beauty and the Beast, plus… a lot of nonsense that I blame Tumblr, Ginny, and my DnD character Hekate for. It’s a hardcore romance in fantasy robes, edging towards NA more than YA but I think I can get away with it as YA still? Ah well. I’m pretty excited about it, and I’ve been slowly working on it. Right now it’s on pause for the data organization and then August is inevitably going to be eaten by Descendants-mania because the third movie comes out and I stole a fanfic idea from Ginny to work on in relation to keep me from screaming at the TV. September is probably going to go towards seeing if I can get prepped for Nano, but that won’t take the whole month, so I might come back to Lyall and Armelle then. (Yes, those are the main couple, I love their names as much as I love them, they are GREAT.)

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Tabletop RP: My Top 10 Spells

Everyone has favorite spells that they use, and thankfully most of them transition between editions without losing too much of the fun. Some spells are good for causing shenanigans, like Grease, others just do an insane level of damage that is always fun to inflict on enemies. I decided to list my favorite spells, at least one for each level (sorta), and why I enjoy them so much, therefore why you might like them for your character.

Please note that this list is for arcane casters only, such as wizards, sorcerers, warmages, etc. I’ll do another list of my favorite divine spells later, since I do enjoy playing oracles mixed in with my rogues and sorcerer types. I am also a bit of a blaster-type mage when I have magic (thus why I like warmages so much). My lists rarely have things that just entangle somebody or create alarms, and are more likely to cause maximum amount of damage that fits within the character’s particular theme (because sometimes, you gotta pick something besides fireball because it offends the ice mage).

Zero Level Spells/Cantrips
….No one likes these, why would I pick one here…? These are little spells that really, I pick based on the campaign.

1st Level Spells
Magic Missile is a must have. It’s a guaranteed hit whenever any enemy is annoying as hell, and you can shape them to reflect your character. I always approve of customization options.
Snowball is a Pathfinder spell of this level that has been a go-to for one of my characters too, it does some decent damage and has additional affects that can go in hand. Perfect for the ice mage, lol.

2nd Level Spells
In your early levels, you are working to maximize your spell selection so not only are you strong in your specialty, but you aren’t completely screwed if your DM throws something your way. Now, Jadzia didn’t bother learning Shatter because one of my party members already had it, but as Psyche, it was one of the first things I picked because if we met a golem, I wanted to be able to fight it. So definitely my first pick for 2nd Level.

3rd Level Spells
…Sadly, my favorite spell is a homebrew creation because I am playing an ice specialist and the DM thought it hysterical to create “Iceball” which functions exactly like Fireball, just with ice. That being said, Fireball is also a great spell, so if your DM won’t go for the giant snow/ice ball of doom, it is your first chance to really start slinging damage around.

4th Level Spells
There’s a series of spells that I used with Psyche that were by far my favorite spells. Different spells, there was one for each element, including Force and Sound, and they had additional affects depending on the element. I loved those damn things, plus I always knew how much damage I was dealing, I just had to look up the effect, and I could cater it to sensitives if the enemy had any.

5th Level Spells
Oddly enough, my favorite 5th level spell is defensive. At this point, I usually have a solid base of offensive spells, and I’m ready for something that not only defends my squish mage butt, but will also help my fellow players. Fire Shield, Mass, gives the entire party a line of defense, as well as attacking enemies.

6th Level Spells
Dude, Chain Lightning all the way. It does lots of damage, it continues to do more damage as you level, and can attack more targets or the same target multiple times. And if you are facing foes in metal armor, it does even more damage. I love it.

7th Level Spells
Here is where it really starts to depend on what problems my mage has run into when fighting. Do we keep getting hoards that attack us and we are way out numbered? Or is it something really big that we have to hammer through? Usually, this is why I take a mass-area spell, because I have enough one-on-one spells and could use a wide-coverage. So go with Fire Storm or something similar.

8th Level Spells
For 8th Level, your spell options really start to narrow down. You don’t learn as many of them, and you don’t get to cast as many times per day for spontaneous casters. For my favorite, gotta go with the multi-tasker and use Great Shout. It’ll damage golems, traps, and other objects, as well as doing a good chunk of damage to enemies even before you apply meta-magic to it.

9th Level Spells
Really, I have only gotten here once before, so it’s harder for me to pick a favorite or one that I am most likely to use. (Jadzia may yet get there and I’ll change my mind, but eh, we’ll see.) Considering the celestial theme that Psyche had going on… Gotta go with Meteor Swarm as my go-to final spell for this list.


Character Study: Evangeline

Name: Evangeline (I know, repetitive)

Evangeline Headshot

Artwork courtesy Kynim

Nickname: ???
Age: 16
Home Region: Kanto/Johto
Family: Aya (Great-Aunt)
Father
Mother
Starter Pokemon: ???
Hair Color: Purple
Eye Color: Teal-blue
Build: Slightly short, slim and athletic, graceful
Personality: Quietly stubborn, likes reading outside
Favorite Colors: Aqua blue and pale pink

Not native to the Kalos region, Evangeline begged to travel last year, and was given permission by her parents…with some stipulations. It took some time for her to pick where she was going, finally picking the place as far from her home region as possible, and helping with the arrangements. She left home with her great-aunt, Aya, for a chance at a trainer-journey away from watchful eyes and expectations that she didn’t know if she could live up to.

She has learned French, though her skills leave her a little rusty and preferring not to speak at all unless she absolutely has to. She also has an Antidote kit that she is capable of using, not a normal skill for most trainers to have. Similarly, she has the ability to understand what Pokemon are saying, though at least that’s something that one in five trainers are capable of, so it stands out less. Perhaps to balance it out, she has a phobia of Bug-Types.

 

I feel like if I update this profile much more, I’ll give everything away, and I want at least some things to be a surprise. Figuring out what I was going to do for the main character of the game was tricky. I knew I didn’t want to just do the character X provides you with, since the backstory and legacy of her history that they provided doesn’t fit with anything else in the game (or if there is Rhyhorn racing, I haven’t gotten to it yet! Just riding the one around to get to the caves). Hopefully as more is revealed, you all will like her. It’s hard to take the hero-protagonist that is a silent lead in any game and make them real and relatable…

I’m going to come up with some sort of display thing showing her Pokemon within the text of the story, not sure what. I’ll update this with her starter once it gets started, but the rest of the team will be found in the actual story. Other info that is kept blank will probably be kept that way on purpose to avoid spoilers for anyone who reads the characters first and then the story.


Writing: Cliffhanger vs Hook and Responsibility

I had vague plans of talking about something else this week. And then Ginny went poking around and discovered that Sly Cooper 5 wasn’t even being worked on and…nerd rage happened, and this post suddenly became a whole lot more necessary for my sanity.

Most readers, movie and anime watchers, and video gamers know what the universal consensus of a cliffhanger is. It’s where there is a completely unresolved ending to a chapter/episode/game, usually a very obvious sequel plug. Readers/watchers/players hate them, because they are driven to move on to the next whatever it may be, even if they may not have the time to put down the book/watch another episode/play another hour. Fanfiction readers in particular hate them because, unless the fic is completed, you may be waiting months for the next chapter. And everyone hates them at the ending, because then you have to cross your fingers and pray the developers/writer get to do the sequel or else you have unresolved questions.

But there is actually a tool that writers use called a hook that is commonly misconstrued as being a cliffhanger. The difference is where exactly the two are placed. If it’s at the end of a chapter or an episode that is not the last one, it is actually a hook, meant to keep you reading or watching. This is an important tool, actually, because writers are dependent on getting you through the entire book/movie/TV series without growing bored. If you get bored, you won’t have anything better than “eh” feelings about it, and then you may not read/watch another. Game developers have less of this problem because most gamers are A-personalities who will want to get all of it anyway unless it’s a really bad game, but it’s still a factor.

Hooks are necessary. If you don’t have a hook after almost every chapter/episode, you aren’t going to keep your reader/watcher interested, and you are sunk. But cliffhangers, which are the unresolved endings, are another story. I had a professor who said she always ended her books with an unresolved question, which made me just cringe. It was sequel bait, she admitted to it being sequel bait, but unless I had the contract for the next book, I would not be doing it. It isn’t fair to those who love the book if you never think up enough ideas for a sequel or can’t get it to sell. There’s also the factor that at minimum, a new book in a series will come out once a year, sometimes more, especially if you weren’t contracted for it to begin with. That’s a hard wait on fans.

I’m not saying cliffhangers don’t have their places or uses. If you have the contract and you know the book will be out in a year, I say go for it. It will jack up your sales as fans are desperate to know what happened. This worked for Garth Nix and John Flanagan, who got me to rather hurriedly buy the next books in The Seventh Tower and Ranger’s Apprentice series (respectively) as soon as they came out. It makes churning up publicity for the next book bigger, which means more sales. Sadly, publishing houses have gotten savvy and actually check to see how your last book sold before they will buy your next book or decide how big of an advance to give you. The first month or so will be your biggest sales on a new release, and then they will go down fast, meaning you need to sell as many as possible that first month for the sake of future books. Also, you don’t make royalties until you pay back that advance (which, given the percentage you get of sales, can take a while).

This is a double-edged sword. It won’t take long for word to get out that the book/movie ends on a cliffhanger in this day and age (unless you are like me, I tend to pick up books and forget to fact check). However, if I do fact check and know there’s a cliffhanger, I will wait until the next book or until the series is finished before I will touch it, since I don’t want to waste my emotional investment in something that might not see completion. (Which is why I have not read or watched Game of Thrones, btw.) So you cut some of your sales off at the knee until the next book comes out and resolves the cliffhanger, when you’ll probably see a higher spike in sales of both books. It’s a long-term game rather than a short-term, which some publishers can’t see.

Now, why am I nerd-raging over the Sly Cooper games? Because they have become the perfect example of how not to do a cliffhanger ending. When Sucker Punch finished the first three, they were fairly resolved and self-contained. While there were openings that could be fun to play with, fans could also be fairly content with where it had left off, so if nothing else ever happened, we’d be okay. Then Sony and Sanzaru Games got a hold of the property. It took eight years (I think) for Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time to come out. And it seemed to be worth the wait. Cut scenes were now animated, there was a lot more depth to the 3-D renderings. Story-wise, it was sort of lacking and when it came to game play, a lot of old moves/gadgets had gotten left behind, but it was a good first start for a series.

(Okay, I was disappointed that all the ancestors were basically skins for Sly, and had all the same moves with a specialty one or two. Because chronologically, some of the characters shouldn’t have had access to moves that had been invented by other ancestors yet! Okay, and they can’t decide which eye Henrietta “One-Eye” Cooper lost. That’s annoying.)

The problem was, there was a “secret” ending that showed that Sly had gotten lost in Ancient Egypt when the time machine exploded. Which is where the original enemy of the series, Clockwerk, and the Cooper line’s rivalry started, and the Cooper line started period. One of the villains, Penelope, had escaped from prison in the epilogue. And even if you hadn’t unlocked the secret ending, Sly was lost in time and space! It’s a giant, giant sequel hook…and they aren’t going to do a thing with it, supposedly at this time, which means it might be another eight years and another developer switch before we see it. If we see it, since they are set on rehashing the first games in movies now (with awful character designs, don’t get me started).

If you use cliffhangers, please understand the responsibility that you are getting into with your readers/watchers/players. You are leaving them with huge unresolved questions and feelings. It can help your sales considerably…until you fail to follow through. And then it ruins your credibility with them, and you will never get that back. They will start waiting until something is completely finished before investing their time and energy, which means while you’ll see huge spikes at the end of a project, you’re early sales will be bad and this will make your publisher/developer be leery of giving you green lights on new projects in the future. So be careful with your evilness. It could be your career’s downfall.