We be goblins!

[Note: post originally occurred on Google+, where I could limit permissions to other gamers. Photo and named redacted here to protect the "innocent".]

At least one subject of this photo will claim gamer-shame, but too good not to share.

This weekend was a bye week for my primary game, but some of my players vocally and repeatedly expressed their desire to "hit stuff". Just the excuse I needed to run Paizo's Free RPG Day module We Be Goblins!

Never in my middle school self's wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd spend my adulthood with packs of women demanding that I run D&D (er, Pathfinder) games for them. (The homebrew, in the foreground, is another nice perk of age.)

Ypsi home prices swinging up?

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Last week, as part of the 3rd now-annual Ypsilanti City-wide Open House, I toured about 15 houses for sale around town. The only ones that might make me wish to "upgrade" all cost now at least what we paid for our house in mid-2006, which I colloquially refer to as "the peak of the market" in our neighborhood. This made me feel pretty good about my house, but, in combination with the latest discussions of the city budget, made me wonder where the market is at.

The Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors handily provides monthly market reports of MLS listings and sales, broken out by school district. A little quick and dirty scraping and spreadsheeting later, and I can make a couple observations:

2 years 10 months 16 days 3 hours 54 minutes

...is the time elapsed since the previous post. Am I allowed to claim I've kept up this blog in various forms for over a decade, or do I have to subtract that time? This post serves as recognition that there's been a gap.

Credit for my return goes to Google+, for first renewing my interest in longer-than-facebook style posts and then suspending my account because my calling myself "Murph." there somehow violated their policy that you must, "use the name that commonly known by to my friends, family, and co-workers."

Anyways, back here and blowing off some of the dust.

Patronage markets at Kobold Quarterly

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Along with getting back into playing D&D over the past year, I've started catching up on the world of 3rd party publishers. One really interesting publisher is Kobold Quarterly, which seems to have developed over the course of a year from a one-man gaming zine to a respected publication with big-name contributors like Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb, and Skip Williams.

The biggest thing KQ is doing, though, is their patronage-based Open Design adventures. KQ puts out the bare sketch of an idea, with a couple of big options left open. (The current project, Halls of the Mountain King, has 3E and 4E versions competing.) Patrons sign up via paypal; when one of the competing options hits a dollar target, it goes into development, and other options' patrons get the option to join the winner or else get a refund. The project then commissions writers, a cartographer, and artists, and the patrons are given access to private forums to discuss the project, guide its development via polls, or propose ideas to the writers and other patrons for inclusion into the project. At the end, the patrons each get copies of the project - and nobody else does. It's a limited run, private work, and it appears that the total commission is in the few thousand dollar range, though I haven't been able to find totals anywhere.

D&D 4e - thoughts so far

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As any self-respecting nerd knows, the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released this summer. It's probably the most significant overhaul the game has had, at least in my almost 20 years of playing, and reactions predictably range from fawning adulation to burning in effigy. I've only played two sessions of the new edition - once this running the beginning parts of Keep on the Shadowfell, and once, just over Christmas, as a player in a play-testy mid-level dungeon crawl.

So far, I'd say there's a lot to like with the new edition, but enough bad that I don't think I'll exert any effort to migrate from 3.5. I find myself wishing there were a v3.75 as an intermediate step - though I expect such a thing will evolve eventually, thanks to teh interwebs. Some thoughts:

Concentrate

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By the way, I'm guest blogging over at Concentrate again this week.

They must be desperate for content, but I won't complain - if they want to read it, I'll write it.

Michigan's popular Proposal 4s

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One of my most google-popular posts (ever) seems to be my comments opposing Michigan's Proposal 4 in 2006 - 5,600 visits so far, and about 200 search hits last month. (I'm google's second hit on some searches, right after the State of Michigan.) Are people really that hungry for a two-year old post on meaningless feel-good eminent domain "reform"? Or are there other Prop 4s they're looking for?

It looks like Michigan has only had 2 statewide Proposal 4s:

  • 2006 - Proposal 4 - A proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit government from taking private property by eminent domain for certain private purposes - approved 2,914,214 / 724,573

  • 2002 - Proposal 4 - A proposal to amend the state constitution to reallocate the "tobacco settlement revenue"
    received by the state from cigarette manufacturers. - failed 1,018,644 / 2,011,105

Earlier than about 2000, Michigan Proposals had letters, not numbers. So - why all the attention? I have a hard time believing that 200 people a month care that much about eminent domain reform that had almost no effect. Maybe the 2002 item is the popular one, dedicating tobacco settlement money to health care? (With the Big 3 doing what they're doing right now, I could understand an interest in ideas for health care.)

Alternately, maybe people are looking for local proposals, and just not specifying where? Seems like inefficient searching behavior.

MASTERMIND. (Says them.)

I'm the subject of Concentrate's "Mastermind" feature this week. I'll note that I did not end up buying the rainbow Nikes at Puffer Reds, but did go back after the shoot for some black timberlands, having supinated the snot out of my old boots.

According to the article I'm sharing the issue with, Ann Arbor's finance community is disappointingly out of the loop. They're still stuck in a rut at that old dive, Cafe Zola, when the Masterminds clearly prefer Bombadill's, the Ugly Mug, Cafe Luwak, and Beezy's.

NIN is getting old

Last night, we saw Nine Inch Nails at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena. It was pretty fantastic, but two brief observations:

1. Even with an almost 2-hour-long setlist, The Downward Spiral is still the foundation of NIN's live show. And that was from high school. And there have been 5 more full albums? I haven't even heard of half of them...

2. Trent Reznor's 43-year-old stage presence reminds me strongly of Richard Florida's. Which is really pretty funny.

Beezy's: Best Cafe Ever At 20 North Washington Street

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It is my distinct pleasure, as Best Customer Ever As Of 11/13/2008, to tell you about Beezy's Cafe, which opened this week at 20 N. Washington Street in downtown Ypsi.

Check out the "It's not time lapse photography, they really did open that fast," photojournal of the night before Day 1.

Marvel at the hottest new floorboards in town. (Not to mention the hottest new floorboard-laying-machine in town!)