Brought By The Number 7


One coworker from China joined us in Arkansas for some software training.  She has now had one fortune cookie in her life … at a Thai restaurant.  One American style pancake in her life.  She has been to one hobby game store (Gamer Utopia in Rogers), has one set of polyhedral dice, and …  And, on the way back to the hotel, has experienced one US kids’ carnival (if not any funnel cake or cotton candy – we had way too much food on the trip).

One thing can be different for one person from the next person.  I have only been pushed into duck tongue once, lotus seeds once, etc.  Experiences vary.  There are many RPGs I’ve never played and RPG situations I’ve never been in.


A cousin is having twins.  Twins aren’t that rare in the family.  Along with a couple of others at the family get together, I correctly guessed that they would be girls.  Guessed be the operative word.

I’m not an expert on twins, but let’s say that they tend to be more alike, yet can have substantial differences.  Two games can be very similar yet significantly different in some way that one is vastly preferable to the other.  Ultimate Combat! is vastly preferable to Magic.  Scepter of Zavandor is vastly preferable to Outpost.

What distinguishes these differences – that’s a good place for analysis.


Three beaches.  Yes, when I’m in my father’s homeland, I do go to beaches.  Shark’s Cove was interesting, if always bleedy, too (if you plan on going and haven’t been, let’s say there’s a lot of sharp rocks).  Waimea Bay was abbreviated.  I told one of my brothers about a FSTH session I set there.  Rain had us head back early.  Waimanalo (where Magnum P.I. was filmed) was choppy.  Each time I go there, I explore a bit further to just have something different to do.  I know, some people wish they had my problems.  Some day, might try swimming out to Bird Island.

I belabor the point about having similar expectations to make campaigns function.  For a change, I’m going to bring up differing expectations.  You don’t always want to do your favorite things.  There’s more to cuisine than Zippy’s Chili, crispy gau gee mein with cake noodles, and dim sum from some better place.  Now, I’m willing to try a trip where all I eat are these things, but, uh, I suppose I can suffer through some shave ice and a hamburger club sandwich at Like Like Drive Inn or whatever.

Anyway, you try different things.  You get suboptimal experiences.  You still sometimes like them.


Four days of vacationing means focusing on the essentials.  Oddly, it also meant a lot of downtime.  Not every session of a RPG, CCG, BG, mahjong/cards, whatever is going to encompass the panoply of pleasures.  We had four of us staying at the house, yet no mahjong.  No local game store visit.  No hiking (for me).

While I can be satisfied with less, I think I think too much about pulling every lever.  Maybe more so from the GM side, where I can’t satisfy myself, so I get tired of trying to satisfy my players.  Sometimes, can just do less and save the rest.


Hours in the air.  My most dreaded length, as the 13.5 hour flights I just give up any chance that they will end until a third of a sudoku book is completed.

Just as not everything good will be accomplished, not everything bad can be avoided.  Shadowfist timing sucks, while reliance on two different basic resources (in normal play) can suck so much more.  V:TES timeouts where nothing really happens are fangless.


Six of us went to breakfast Monday.  First time my sister met one of my father’s friends (from high school).  Opinionated opinions.

Connections come in different forms, from the new to the reconnecting of the old.  I’ve played with a variety of gamers in the area.  I still do, to some degree.  I used to do three or so CCGs on weeknights at Matchplay.  I see some folks once or twice a year at conventions that I saw much more often, even weekly.

If I mentioned a variety of experiences above, there’s also a variety of players.  I often really enjoy getting together with, say, V:TES players from other locales just because it breathes freshness into things having a different perspective.  Besides, people I hang out with probably are superbored with my repetitive stances.


Double oh, to be more precise.  One may wonder why one should care that I saw a movie recently.  After all, I did see another movie earlier this year, exceeding my annual average (per my guesstimating) by 100%.

Spectre was okay.  I find it interesting how a lot of people loved Skyfall and hated this movie or hated Skyfall and thought this was much better.  I don’t exactly hate Skyfall, I just didn’t like its narrative nor its action and thought the ending’s payoff could have been done with a better lead up.  Some commenters on review sites summed up my highlights for Spectre – terrible villains, wasted Monica Belluci’s participation, missed opportunities, humor/fun is really missing.

On my grandfather’s bookshelf was a Bond novel by John Gardner.  I’ve read a number of Gardner novels, though not for decades.  I don’t recall them having major problems.  I do recall liking things about them.  Death is Forever is atrocious.  The characters are awful.  The characterizations are awful.  The villains are awful.  The plot is awful.  The payoffs or lack thereof are awful.  The dialogue is awful.

It’s less half-assed than double-oh-seventh-assed.  Did he just need to throw something out to hit a deadline?  I’m curious as to whether I’ve changed and just didn’t notice some of these problems in Icebreaker, For Special Services, and whatever else I’ve read of his.

Compare and contrast – nice school words.  As not great as Spectre was, it was at least not terrible.  The medium changes the storytelling – Bond is constantly falling for his harem in the books where you don’t really have that feeling in the movies unless the woman dies.  The focus on the quality of the food at some obscenely expensive hotel or on some luxury transportation in the books is shockingly (or not) absent in the movies I recall.

Games are about entertainment.  Now, some like their entertainment to be competitive, some like it to be random, some like it with more whips.  If we roll together some of the other comments above, we look to see that gaming can hit some but not all chakras and still entertain.  To be perfect is to be unlikely.

But, at the same time, it has to hit something.  I enjoy some bad books (looking at some books written by a LKH or a RJ) because they give me stretches of enjoyability.  How does this translate to various games?

The ending of Shadowfist games is often not enjoyable.  The combat in V:TES is often not enjoyable nor a lot of table talk.  Putting on armor because the camp got attacked during the night is not enjoyable.  Constantly failing to launch in your Almost-Night Struggle is not enjoyable.  Getting all lefts when you just need a move back one is not enjoyable.

But, I regress.  Was there a theme song to all of this?  Btw, didn’t really get Hunt’s theme song and don’t recall thinking Adele’s was the wasp’s whiskers.  Who cares?  Sometimes, you ramble because you want to toss things out.  At least I didn’t dwell on how I didn’t get a warmed up cookie or on the quality problem that prevented me from buying …


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