Category Archives: Role Playing

The hobby of role playing, in all its glory.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 99: Getting Back in the Groove

You were all beginning to wonder if this column was coming, weren’t you? There is a milestone coming up and I wanted to make sure that I pushed myself to get back to writing at least once a week, as well as other things.

Why don’t we get things started?

The time of year when packages start flowing like water is fast approaching and that normally means my time is going to start shrinking for other things. Work is work but that doesn’t mean I can’t be doing things outside of that.

I had popped back in to podcast about a week or two ago for the first time in months. There hasn’t been another show, as this column has been written, but I’m going to be recording a few of them in the next week or two.

Why? Well, I need to start the Specter Show back up full time and I also need to start banking the SpecterChess episodes so that I’m ahead of the game. Speaking of chess…

The Emerald Specter Chess Club is about to start moving along without me actively playing. All ESCC events, at present, are set up like sumo basho events and I’m personally finding it hard to keep competing with the wide variety of different playing strengths that tend to sign up for these things.

I’m going to keep running the events, but I’ll be essentially “retiring” from the ESCC basho play. As of this writing, Chess Basho V: September 2018 is currently running, with only two more banners created for the future… I do plan on continuing to run the bashos until it catches on. The next one is already on the horizon:

Most of the reason I’m going to “retire” from the ESCC active play is SpecterChess. I’ve stated that the rating is only a number but rather than have my own rating fluctuate all over the place between SpecterChess events, I’m going to start reviewing all opponents… and that means I’m also going to be needing to not play so many “non-reviewed” games.

SpecterChess 1 has been announced formally, and you’ll start seeing each event from here on out announced weekly. I’ve got a format for how I’m releasing all these and I need to stick to it in order to be ahead of the game. Honestly, if I don’t get ahead of this, the SpecterChess events will probably go from weekly to monthly and that with slow things down too much, in my opinion.

There haven’t been anymore sign ups for this, yet, but I’m confident that I’ll get the audience I’m looking for by perseverance.

Ah, the thing that most people come to this site for: BuJoRPG. I’ve made a little progress on things but I want to take a step back and talk about a recent email that really made me think.

Someone who lives fairly close to me, generally speaking, asked if there would be anything BuJoRPG related that wouldn’t involve combat. She asked for, literally, a “female version of BuJoRPG.”

I had to take a step back to look at things before I answered.

RPGs, roleplaying games, are generally “armor up and physically combat” enemies. The BuJoRPG is less about outside sources of combat but still involves a sort of combat. The original version is more about self improvement and is really about conquering your personal hangups, but BuJourneyRPG was going to be more story driven.

It was also going to involve various amounts of combat.

Thinking about the process, the “lady BuJoRPG” for the original would be dropping a template for it that didn’t involve the standard RPG tropes. That is easy enough and has now become the number one next release for BuJoRPG (version 1). But I didn’t want to limit myself there… 

BuJourneyRPG has always been envisioned as being a “go here, fight that” type thing. I’m in the process of writing up the combat rules and combat will definitely be a heavy component of making successes. So, to “girl-ify” BuJourneyRPG, what would I need to do?

Looking at the situation as a whole, I really had to put thought into what I’d need to do to remove combat. It’s essential in BuJourneyRPG. I did come up with a theory, though, and that is a simple modification… to the definition.

Combat is actually a conflict towards a resolution. So, essentially, combat doesn’t need to be physical.

In BuJourneyRPG, you have four attributes that you’ll need to work on in order to balance out your life. Those are Physical, Mental, Social, and Emotional attributes. Each one of them can be involved in combat… and now combat is expanded a little.

With the first attribute, Physical can still include actual standard RPG combat. Swords, shields, battling opponents, and winning the day. In the case of the other three attributes, though, combat is completely different. Mental combat can be working out puzzles, Social combat can be conversational in nature (rather than physical), and Emotional combat can be things like meditation. Combat doesn’t need to be the default thought when someone says “combat.”

The request adds another dimension to the BuJoRPG situation that I think will make things far more interesting for those using the system. I’m really glad I got that email.

The Specter Show will be getting back into full swing soon… and I’m going to be doing all those things that I said I would be doing before, meaning that the Specter Show is going to largely become an eclectic collection of audio experiments and may even form into some sort of narrative as things go on.

One thing I’m not going to change until I reach the end, though, is naming the shows after Nine Inch Nails songs.

SpecterChess has taken over the old PRO Chess League podcast feed and won’t stop until they need to in order to reach a proper end (or, I hope, someone else will pick up the flag and run with it when I’m done). Once I get closer to the event narrowcasts, I’ll remove the old PRO Chess League shows and it’ll only be SpecterChess. I might be inclined to include ESCC reviews in the feed, too, but that isn’t going to be anytime soon.

The return of the Greatest Show is on the horizon, kids. After having attended Rose City Comic Con a little over a week ago, I’ve got a few people I’ll be hitting up to come on the show, as well as getting the crew together more often for shows. There is a caveat with this, though… we won’t have a solid recording time again.

Way back when Bob and I launched the Greatest Show, we literally just recorded when we had time and posted the shows. Fast forward five years and we’ve been stuck in a rut with only appearing live on Saturday nights… that used to happen weekly but we’ve lapsed because lives have gotten in the way. We are going to be returning to the “recording when it works” model.

Live viewership will probably be next to nothing, which is what needs to happen to make this work. I’ll entice the listening and viewing of the show, though, by returning to the giveaways again. I have given away a free box of stuff to Tab from Ohio and I’d like to give away more.

I have written exactly nothing since the last Specter Show. My ability to sit down and write has been replaced by sitting and doing things to help my wife fill orders for her business.

Honestly, money making projects come first, so I don’t actually mind too much. If you want me to put more effort into this site’s output, I have a Patreon link to the right you can click on… which means I’ll need to start posting the content there (I’ve been a little lax).

I’ve been thinking of my serial fiction that will be released as a “series,” in the vein of a TV show. There are serial works I’m simmering on the back burner that I’ve termed “one shots,” like movies, and while I was cleaning up something on my computer the other day, it dawned on me that all my serial fiction projects are one shots.

See if you follow me.

If I am writing an urban fantasy serial fiction (I’ll call it Street Wizards for this example) with the idea that it’s a TV show, I’m inclined to think of the project as open ended and more “episodic.” Sure, things can stitch together and there is probably a larger arc going on, but it’s really being less cohesive and digestible in smaller chunks.

If I am writing Street Wizards as a one shot and releasing it, still, as serial fiction, then there is a bigger plan at work. The one shot means there is one large and cohesive story running through the whole project without the consideration for whether or not there will be a sequel. 

I’d started writing my first work as a one shot and the second one as a series. I like the first one a whole lot better so far.

On the Specter Show, and in a past column, I mentioned that I was writing the fiction in solid 1,000 word chunks with the intent of writing to 80,000 words. Well, folks, that isn’t a good way to format this (seeing as the first story has progressed to about 1/3 of the way into the story and is sitting at around 6,000 words).

The first story isn’t going to have an 80,000 word run. I know that now.

My first serial fiction story is called “Revelation,” which will be released in larger chunks than 1,000 words and will run as long as it needs to in order to finish telling the story.

Now that I’ve announced it and released the cover image, maybe I’ll get back into this thing and do it up right.

First things first, I need to go back and add in more context and content to what I’ve written, because 6,000 words and being a 1/3 of the way through the story isn’t quite what I was looking to do. There was a lot of descriptiveness that I skipped over in order to get to that point and I’d like to go back and add in that descriptiveness.

My goal with Revelation is to release between 2,000 and 5,000 words at a time. That isn’t too long, it isn’t too short, and should be interesting enough to keep people coming back to check out the next segment. Revelation is a literal one shot, as in when the story is over there isn’t anything else to tell. There is a beginning, a middle, and a solid end. Once you read the whole thing you’ll understand why that is a thing.

Once that is finished (the writing), I’ll read through and make sure I have no spelling errors and grammar makes complete sense. After that, I’ll start releasing the fiction weekly in as many parts as is necessary. Once the release schedule is set up, then I’ll start writing the second serial fiction, which may allow for sequels… unlike Revelation.

This is the last “Journal” entry. The column, as announced on the last Specter Show, will return to just being called “Emerald Specter.” I’m going to be moving to making an individual cover image for each edition, and I started with this one. I liked the comic book theme and decided to shrink it to fit the dimensions of the website more.

Sitting down and writing these columns is cathartic. I get tings in order, I get enthusiastic about doing the things I say I’m going to do, and I an motivated to get things moving right away.

I’ve been dragging my feet a little on the digital journal and that is going to be worked on heavily over the next couple of weeks. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but I should be a lot further along than I am.

For now, thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 92: Building a Better Emerald Specter

Um… what?

This is a column I’m about to detail a whole bunch of things in and it’ll involve everything to do with EmeraldSpecter.com, the podcasts, the articles, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and the future. This is a roadmap to getting me from where I’m at to where I want to be, which will include what I’ve done in the past that worked that I’ve stopped doing.

Despite my sincerest desire, “winging it” with a lot of my content isn’t working as well as I’d hoped. There are spurts where I can do just that but I also have the opposite, which is long periods where nothing works. This leads me to look back at what has worked, which means looking back to LimeFlavored.com.

When I started Lime Flavored, I literally just needed a place to do things online that entertained me… and hopefully along the lines someone else would be entertained as well. That philosophy has definitely held up for the years and has become a pseudo-business model for what I’m doing with Emerald Specter. There was a point, though, where things needed to have a little more structure.

Fast forward a few years (from 2000 to about 2010), where the Lime Flavored Podcast jumped into the world. The show started as a place for me to talk about this and that, sort of like how the Specter Show has been, and then I started bringing on guests to talk to… several episodes then were mainly about the conversation between two people. This eventually led to me having regular cohosts for the show, with two dominating the show for lengthy runs, but died down when excuses from those cohosts began to take down the recording schedule. That’s when I initiated “the show format.”

Rather than beg guests to come on, or talk about the random this or that, I came up with a weekly rundown of segments that would be structuring the show into something more… structured. This version of the show was the most popular, got the most downloads, and fell to the wayside when trying to edit the video content for episode 50… the LAST episode.

Lesson learned, although not immediately.

During the run of LimeFlavored.com, as well as falling well into EmeraldSpecter.com, was the Greatest Show (originally known as the Greatest Show Online). This was me and my best friend Bob getting together to talk about whatever we wanted to, which ran like this for a long time, including my wife into the show as something for us to watch (she cooked while we talked and filmed the cooking), turning eventually into inviting a few more friends on to turn the show into a round table discussion of the more recent years. Special guests have been had and though most of the hosts aren’t on most of the time, those that show up when they can are welcome. Guests have also started to become a big part of what the future of the show is going to be…

Back in the early days of Emerald Specter, I had a multitude of columns. There was the generic “Emerald Specter” column, Gaming Specter, UFC Specter, Storytelling Specter, SpecterFit (also known as Fitness Specter), and those are just the ones I can name without looking up the others. Each of these were short, primarily to keep content flowing, but all eventually started dropping off here and there in favor of a more generalized column… that would be the current Journal of the Emerald Specter (which you’re reading issue 92 of right now).

I’ve added the Specter Show as a podcast as well, doing the “winging it” audio I was in the early days of the Lime Flavored Podcast, along side the Greatest Show (which takes longer breaks between episodes than I’d like but as long as it keeps going I’m good).

This is a lot of unstructured things happening at once, most of which interfere with my ability to progress on structured things like life, BuJoRPG/BuJourneyRPG, and producing more content that I’ve wanted to start producing.

So, I am going to make some changes to streamline, structure, and produce higher content.

Starting with what has become the flagship content provider of the site, the Journal of the Emerald Specter.

Each issue of the Journal will be presented with a unique “cover,” going along with the comic book feel of the site’s aesthetic. This will more than likely convert to a square cover instead of a more comic book traditional shaped cover, but this will be the first step.

Next comes the banner topic, the “geeky thing on my mind” in a smaller than current segment. This could be about anything I listed above but will be concentrated on that topic alone. I plan on planning out these topics in advance, too, allowing for the research that might need to be done when writing.

After that comes the first ever serial fiction I’ll be writing. I will be writing an installment of a serial fiction story with the intent of finally putting out my fiction that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. Including this into the column will allow me to remove the self imposed requirement of having the story completely written before hand and just get my ass writing again. I don’t know how long the installments will be, I’ll let that flesh itself out after a couple of columns.

That is followed by a sports commentary of some sort. I often want to write entire columns about sporting items and rather than dominate a column like I have with chess over the past two issues, I figure I can throw a tidbit into this in order to quench my thirst. Ideally, I’d be covering whatever sports are actively happening but I am not going to limit myself to just that. I’m hoping that continuous commentary on certain topics might one day pan out into a paying gig on another site.

Next comes bullet journalling updates. I am going to include an update EVERY SINGLE TIME and that means I better be making progress on things in the background. Play testing the BuJourneyRPG hasn’t started as of this writing but I’m on the edge of actually being able to do that, and that means I can definitely have content for this segment of the column.

Finally, there will be an RPG tidbit included in each column. This might be a story hook, a review on a new game, a story about a game that I participated in, or just a general discussion about merits of why a certain system works well. This won’t be as big as the main topic but I want to start doing something gaming related and that means writing is probably the best place to start.

That is just the Journal of the Emerald Specter, folks. Let’s look at the Specter Show next.

Just like the Journal covers, the Specter Show will also be getting custom covers for each episode. You might be wondering why I’m interested in doing this for both of these and it’s because I’m interested in putting out quality content, meaning that if everything is planned ahead of time I don’t have to scramble to accomplish anything.

The show will be led off by a geeky topic of discussion, I’m thinking that this might be the place where I talk about my love of TV and movies (reviews, reactions, etc), but I am not locking myself into anything specific. Media seems to be big on the podcast scene so that is definitely where I’d be looking towards for inspiration on this.

Also like the Journal, there will be an installment of a serial (not the same serial), read aloud of course… and this would probably be on the shorter side but with this being altogether different than the written stuff, I’m interested to see what kinds of wonderful pours out of my head in the near future on the serial fiction front.

Finally, the show will include a “what to watch for” segment. The reason for the media being in the beginning could relate to what I’m talking about in the “coming up” section. Movies, TV shows, comic books… all that I’ll be consuming in the near future.

I also had a plan for the Greatest Show, but I won’t be locking anything down on that front because I don’t want to shoehorn anyone else into following a strict rundown. Time will tell what form the show takes but what we’re doing seems to be working for now.

When will all this go down? I did have specific issue/episode numbers for when I’m rolling this out but I want to make sure all the back end stuff is done before I roll out everything. There will be a few graphical updates to the site, too, but they won’t be monumental in difference.

The Greatest Show 148: Eddy Webb is an RPG Mecca

In an Emerald Specter first, I’m posting the YouTube link to episode 148 of the show. Attempting to present the channel as a “go to” as much as this website, the Greatest Show has a few episodes on Channel 1, and the entire back catalog on Channel 2.

Eddy Webb joins DJ, Tricia, and Metal Jesus in talking about RPGs, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, conventions, and living in Ireland… among other things! Enjoy episode 148 here!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 81: Audio from Written Word

Plans, plans, and more plans. Things start up, things fall through. Things don’t get started and life tends to get in the way.

“If something is important to you, you make time.” ~ Captain Montgomery Scott to Captain James Kirk in Generations.

I guess I have to start making time for the things that are important.

I’ve been talking about writing and completely producing a 22-page comic book before the end of the year. If I don’t actually start doing that I won’t ever get it done. By this time, I should have had a full script written and working on the layout for the book.

Have I done that? Nope. I have a script started but it hasn’t progressed.

There are tons of other writing projects I want to be knee deep in right now, too, but that falls into the “time isn’t happening” category. that’s also going to be grinding to a halt.

I produced a story for a writing class when I went to college back in 2005. The story was just the beginning of a much bigger venture and I’ve often thought about where that story goes. There are details within that story that I’ve long forgotten about and if I dig the story up to freshen the whole thing up. With a rewrite and some additives with the new details, I think it’s ready to be brought out to the world.

I am going to accomplish these things because I have a lot of stories I want to tell and I’m going to tell them.

I’ve been lax with getting out the Specter Show lately. Not that I’ve really meant to not record or to release shows, with the last episode being on the pathetic end of the scale, I’ve just allowed life to push me around.

Yep, there it is again… life pushing me around.

I’m going to start doing some experimental things with the Specter Show. There is another podcasting idea I’ve had that I wanted to try out and while I will definitely be producing at least one full episode of that idea WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show and if I enjoy it but don’t want to fully make a new feed that is also not going to be getting a ton of attention, I’ll produce a few more.

There is also a “research project” that I’ve been meaning to write up and produce into a podcast. Once again, I don’t want to produce a podcast that gets left to flap in the wind on it’s own feed while I struggle to keep up with what I’m already doing. What’s the idea? It’s going to be me producing long form content about a series of subjects all related to self improvement. That’s as far as I’ll go with the reveal so far and just like above, I’ll probably release the stuff WITHIN the confines of the Specter Show once, maybe twice.

Why within? Well, the Specter Show intro and outro would still be in the episode, and with these two ideas I would basically have a “this isn’t a normal episode” warning. If the content is popular or interesting enough, I’ll break it out into it’s own feed and release the episode sans Specter Show bookends.

I am stating right now that I am going to be getting back on the Specter Show wagon and producing content again, and really working to make content that doesn’t suck.

Moving along to the Greatest Show, I don’t see the group sticking to a “season” format… mainly because only one person outside of everyone in my house shows up regularly. This opens up the Greatest Show format changing into two different format options: a roleplaying session that only Metal and I are part of or me running an interview style show at irregular times with the guests I’ve been unable to work on getting on the show due to (you guessed it) life.

Both of those things are going to be a thing and that is where I’m trying to take the show. Unless the old crew comes back together, or Bob is able to make a regular appearance with me to have a reunion to the “old school Greatest Show.”

I said all that in the writing section to get to the meat of this column. The title, so far, hasn’t made a ton of sense in this column and that is about to change.

Let’s say I’m writing a serial fiction series about a school of wizards… and let’s say that the series gets a little attention from readers who would like more. Let’s also say that the series gets some feedback about people who like the premise but don’t have the time to read all that to get the information.

Well, here is where we come in with the title: Audio from Written Word.

I have software that will combine mp3 files into a large m4b file. If you don’t know what an m4b file is, that’s what an audiobook file is (at least through Apple). I am saying that I’d record the serial fiction into an audiobook format.

There are several things that I need to state about this before I go on. First, my time is not free and I’d be asking for a fee. If you consume even a fraction of the audio that I consume (because constant movement at work allows me to hear things but not really to sit and read things), then you’ll appreciate that paying someone to listen to a reading of fiction isn’t a terrible thing. Second, the audiobook files would be complete “seasons,” like the entirety of the series (season 1, season 2, etc) as one single file… this keeps me from seeing to basically having to produce a podcast release schedule to keep up and I can provide a bigger “hoopla” if I just do the bigger release. Third, I could also start writing the serial fiction as just written word and produce an “audiobook” to compile the season… or after a certain number of seasons I can simply produce and release the audiobook “seasons” after a free launch.

The idea is that if I want to start doing things I want to do instead of just doing things I have to do in order to kinda do the things I want to do then I won’t get 50% of what I want to do done.

My wife is a fantastic business woman. She takes an idea, develops the idea, and starts producing product for sale. In a few months, tops, that idea is now a viable business process that works and earns her a living. These ideas also keep her busy and doing things she enjoys.

I’d like to take my ideas and do the same thing.

The funny thing is that I just showed my wife those last two “paragraphs” and she said it would be nice if I did any of my ideas. Like, for example, my bullet journal ideas (I said I’d like to make stickers for the BuJoRPG… primarily the templates for the first version and the templates for the second version, too). That is first on the list.

I deleted Facebook and Google+ from my phone recently and I’ve been less consumed with anger and frustration as a result. I’ve also had a ton more free time to do other things and I know that is a better thing.

I am also going to be removing one of my two regular games from my phone because I’ve progressed to a point where I don’t think I’ll be getting much farther any time soon. Without progress, I don’t really want to keep grinding because the game isn’t that important AND is getting in the way of doing what I want to do.

See, things are getting better already.

The Greatest Show 145: Totes a Porg

Our heroes, the galactic trio of Tricia, Metal Jesus, and the ever bald DJ, discuss some Star Wars: The Last Jedi, BuJourneyRPG, LitRPG, the Dark Matter Graphic Novel, the Verdacomb Graphic Novel, and more! We even gave away some free stuff!!!

The Specter Show 048: Somewhat Damaged

Short and to the point, DJ runs over a bit about BuJourneyRPG struggles, getting out a Greatest Show, comics both writing and reading, what’s been going on, and a hopeful push to get back to normal all on this episode!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 77: Life Strikes Back

Things are not going as well as planned… hell, I can’t even plan at this point. When life gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade. Unfortunately, I have no water or sugar, so I’d just be squirting sour juice into my eyes and that’s already what it feels like, so I’m not really digging that idea.

That, and I’m not big on lemonade.

The biggest thing to suffer in the attack on my free time is the BuJoRPG.

There is, in place, a plan for me to accomplish a certain series of things by certain points in time to complete the thing that everyone is really waiting for: BuJourneyRPG. I’d really, really like to get moving forward on that and I’m continuing to spin my wheels trying to just get through work.

So, I’m anxious to unveil SOMETHING about BuJourneyRPG, so I’m going to drop the “cover” of the BuJourneyRPG book… revealing, also, the “logo” for the new system.

Are you ready?

I chose to go with a library look and that lends to the idea that the system will be the basis for a slew of options. That means the “templates,” which are the “splats” that you’ll be somewhat familiar with as a concept if you’re an RPG fan, and those will help build the “library” of content.

This past weekend was supposed to be my “long weekend,” but I was denied one day of that and I had another project which HAD to be started/completed and that limited my ability to do a lot of extracurricular activity.

The time is being scheduled, though.

Without getting fancy, here is the first ever “ESCC Banzuke” (rankings) from the first ever Emerald Specter Basho (previously called the Winter 2018, though shall also be known as the January 2018):

Sapphire Adept #1 (East): Alexin2
Sapphire Adept #1 (West): Nikbasketball12
Sapphire Adept #2 (East): Sim_zama
Sapphire Adept #2 (West): dukenukem123
East #1: tom36adams
West #1: pantheon-67
East #2: AlCzervik
West #2: ANTE1990
East #3: OlegMalikov1965
West #3: mancroft
East #4: EmeraldSpecter
West #4: bespaly

As you can see, I placed second to last (since this is literally just a finishing listing from top to bottom, which the first rankings was always going to be)… and we had one player, bespaly, break Chess.com’s fair play policy and forfeit all of his games. Other than that, I think things went swimmingly.

Now, we see whether or not anyone returns to compete in the Emerald Specter 2018 March Basho, which is scheduled to begin as soon to the spots are full. There are still only 12 slots available, and since bespaly is out, the first one to join who wasn’t re-invited is welcome to join the fray. If some others don’t rejoin (allowances will be made for keeping their rankings if new people join first), then the experiment grows with a wider array of possibilities.

I’m curious if anyone would be interested in hearing a solo RPG actual play podcast? The idea crossed my mind that I’d like to publish the results of my solo RPG adventures (which I haven’t started playing, yet)… but I would need to know something: is the interest (if there is one) in the actual play part, or the story being unfolded as play continues?

The actual play would be me, on mic, playing the game of choice vocally and you’d be privy to all the rolls and mucking about. Unless you’d rather hear the results (moreso), and then the focus would be on the results of the story and I could more work out a sound effects option in line with the narration that would be part of the production.

Which would you rather hear? Would you like to hear anything of the sort?

In the end, I’m playing the game. Whether or not anyone else hears what goes on is entirely up to the potential audience.

So the Greatest Show appears to need a re-envisioning. Not a reboot, I’m not starting numbering over or wildly changing anything, yet. There is going to be a few more shows with (at least) myself and one or both of the Kevins. If I can’t get the rest of the cast to come back on, then I’ll be working on the changes that need to be made.

As soon as I get a chance to actually work on guest scheduling, I’ll do that, too… but work is a problem.

Let’s end with a few things regarding “work.” Ideally, especially outside of the peak season I’ve referenced so often, work would be a long day on Mondays and Tuesdays, then a crap shoot for shorter days the rest of the week, leaning shorter most of the time.

That is not what has happened.

I won’t get into the logistics or the specifics of what is causing the problem, know that I’m a side effect of a personnel shortage on certain days and the problem is actively being corrected, though not for at least another week or two.

What I do want to get into is the fact that I’m being too flexible. My wife will tell you that I give in too easily and I’m about ready to stop being so nice about things at work. I am not on the “special over time list” at work, so I shouldn’t be getting near the amount of over time I currently am… mainly because I don’t want it.

I’m going to fix that by waking up a little later in the morning. I’m going to be rushing in the morning because strolling in early enough to hang out isn’t what I want to be doing anymore. That means I can stay up a little bit later at night and, you guessed it, means I can work on things after work.

Wake up, get ready, work, supper, prep the next day, watch a little TV, and work on BuJourneyRPG… days off, get a little house stuff done and work on BuJourneyRPG.

Time is coming and it’s because I’m going to make sacrifices on how I operate to get them done. That shouldn’t be how things work.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 74: BuJoRPG and 2018

Wait, wait, wait… hold on! Whoa! What is this?

An entire column dedicated to the BuJoRPG? Well, yes and no. It’ll be bullet journal related, heavily centered on the goings on for the BuJoRPG, and I’ll keep on track.

When I started bullet journaling, I was all over the place and having a hard time coming back over and over again to the journal. It’s what led me to come up with the idea of making journaling into an RPG. That led to the BuJoRPG, highlighted on bulletjournal.com… but you aren’t here for a history lesson, you’re here to hear about the system, the future, and what the hell is actually going on at this very moment.

The last column talked a bit about the possibility of a BuJoRPG3 replacing my BuJoRPG2 efforts… wait, what? I didn’t talk about BuJoRPG3? Funny… I guess I’ll let that idea out of the bag.

But before I do that, let’s talk about the first two iterations and how they fit into the future of the system as a whole.

As much as I may have alluded to such a thing, BuJoRPG ver 1 is not actually dead in the water. I created this to center around a martial arts theme (with plans to release other skins) and concentrate 100% on self improvement. I dropped Rise of the Iron Garden as if I mic dropped and walked away from the version in favor of the “new shiny.” Keep in mind the concentration on the “self improvement” aspect of Version 1 while I move to briefly discuss a little more.

BuJoRPG 2 broke out with an open beta, which absolutely no one jumped on board for, and stopped being worked on because I dropped the thing right before the postal “peak season,” which is Christmas, and I’m just now starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel. The actual idea behind this was to make the original version a little more structured and actually create a world/lore for the user to explore in the “down time” between actual self improvement bits. So, if Version 1 was the “self improvement” version, BuJoRPG2 was the story heavy self improvement version with a more “game like exploration” feel.

Now we enter the phase where I talk about what the future is for what is already here and what lies in store for the only teased BuJoRPG3.

I am going to be creating several new skins/templates for BuJoRPG1. Very little is going to be done with the structure of the set up or running of the game. There may be a little refinement, so the version numbers might change with each new template, but I’m going to actually do what I promised to do in the first place… and I’m going to come up with some sort of better explanation for quests, goals, and all kinds of things that have been asked of me through PMs and email while people use the original BuJoRPG.

The complete and entire focus of the BuJoRPG1 will remain solely focused on self improvement. Sure, all of BuJoRPG is really focused on that, but the heart of what BuJoRPG1 is actually revolves around the small steps to improve oneself, learn a language, get organized, or whatever. There won’t be a “story” component in BuJoRPG1… and that’s because you’re more likely interested in BuJoRPG2 for that.

Since the open beta hasn’t really gone anywhere, and I actually haven’t even gotten a chance to finish the rewrite of the tutorial… and I haven’t completed the teased “map” I made for the tutorial, I’m going to fix that by completing both of those components… BuJoRPG2 will have the first step of the tutorial completed and the map, the only one I’ve made, released in conjunction with that (as it will be included in the tutorial PDF). There are also bits that need to be added to what I have to release to get this version to be something more than a hollow shell of a version.

One of the features in the “story” version of BuJoRPG are the Skill Tree, Attributes explained and  advanced, as well as the prospect of future map bits for the world to explore. Yeah, I’m going to work on the mechanical aspect first and then start poking out the story bits… because the mechanics will actually need to dictate what the story will actually reveal. Will there be more maps released? That’s a possibility, but if I’m spending hours and weeks making a map instead of working on the mechanics of the system, the maps are going into the trash and I’ll make my efforts in the form of actual content instead of visuals.

I’m also going to write up some things that make this the version of the BuJoRPG for the creative personalities. Writers, artists, and the like will want this one… rather than just play a game, as a passive third person participant, the user will be able to create their own world along with the game so that they are creating their own content. I’ll briefly discuss something similar to this in my own bullet journaling for 2018.

That leads me to the enigmatically alluded to BuJoRPG3…

When I knew that the peak season was ending, I started coming up with the concept for version 3 of the BuJoRPG and what I actually wanted to make the BuJoRPG into in the first place: a collection tool.

I’m not deep into any sort of planning, mapping out of mechanics, or anything like that… I have broad, and I mean BROAD concepts jotted down, where I wanted to change the self improvement from statistical based rewards to a collection system (much like the Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes game has you collecting heroes and ships). This one will set up a framework to work towards very specific improvements with an aim away from experience points, leveling just yourself, and work more towards the collecting aspect of what I wanted in the first place.

This one will be worked on here and there but not until I get some of the other stuff listed above done. I want to hook BuJoRPG up to jumper cables and get this thing back on the road.

Which leads me into a little bit of other site related news…

I had mentioned on an episode last year that I would be alternating the Specter Show with a new show based on only BuJoRPG updates… I’m just going to keep the Specter Show periodically updating you on BuJoRPG instead of starting a new podcast… because I really don’t need another project to keep up on, even if I won’t be overlapping at all.

The show is going to have the familiar “updates here and there” stuff that I’ve done in the past, but now I’m going to be tossing in some experimental material from time to time. There are things I’ve wanted to turn into podcast but didn’t have enough material, or the belief in that spinoff, to actually move forward with a separate podcast.

What this means is you may download an episode and it’s a dramatic reading of a story, or a “what if” line of thinking on a series (movie, TV, book, etc), or something I haven’t even conceived of yet to explain here… I want the Specter Show to be interesting and a bit more random.

Back to BuJoRPG now… or rather, my own bullet journaling.

This 2018 bullet journaling for me is the year of Doctor Who. I have themed my own bullet journal with Doctor Who elements (a TARDIS decal on the cover, my monthly spreads contain TARDIS console elements, etc), and this year I’m going to create some story synopses for my own version of a Time Lord, the Specter. I’m the Emerald Specter (that’s the site you’re on) and therefore I’m running Specter Who.

I’m going to be releasing cover images (I’m toying with mocking up Big Finish versions of the covers or altering them to be something a little more original)… and will feature the actor (or actress) I’ve chosen to represent “me” as the Specter in the story being told. I haven’t decided to acknowledge the existence of the Doctor or to pretend the character doesn’t exist… and yes, I started one version of my plan only to have a change of focus for February to make something better than what I was doing.

I don’t know how many stories I’m going to come up with or whether I’ll keep this going in my bullet journal after 2018. Time will tell, but I think it’ll be an interesting thought experiment, and is the source of the concept of creating the BuJoRPG2 for creative types.

Lastly, on the BuJoRPG subject, I’m interested in knowing who is interested in what I’m calling a “BuJoBox”? This would be a package put together by myself that would contain some page templates (a series of stencils I’m currently working out), a couple of bullet journal friendly pens, a set of dice, a rulebook for whatever version of the BuJoRPG your box would be for, a journal, and perhaps some stickers for the theme of the box selected… would that be something you’d be interested in? Yes, there would be a fee for such a thing, but you’re basically paying for the price of everything on top of shipping, but you’ll get everything you need for the theme you’re looking into as well as a hard copy of the “rulebook” of BuJoRPG. Email if you’re interested.

So, I’ve got a really long column almost exclusively about the BuJoRPG. I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you’re rejuvenated by my desire to return to every version of BuJoRPG, and I hope you’re ready for 2018 like I am!

Journal of the Emerald Specter 71: Bring on the New Year

Shut your mouth, it’s 2018!

Yeah, yeah… I know, “hey DJ, you probably wrote this last year and we are only just seeing it now.” Well, that is true… but I’m a lot closer to the actual release date than previous articles have been over the course of December, so I’m nearly real time.

But enough talking to myself, it’s time to look at a “New Year’s roundup” of sorts.

So, it’s time to start thinking about the BuJoRPG again. I’ve been overwhelmed over the course of the last two months and haven’t had a chance to put any effort into the bullet journal at all… like, I mean if I was bullet journaling steadily all year I wouldn’t have a single entry for November or December.

Work hurts.

When I last left off from working on the system, I was deep into creating a map for one to explore a “storyline,” more information on the “Jade Realm” that I’d pseudo-created for the BuJoRPG. Well, having had a chance to really give that a thought over the last couple of months, maybe I want to step back from world building to actually just build the basics. I’m reevaluating the approach, and I’m not starting over, I’m just going to hold off on the world building part. BuJoRPG2 may see some upgrades, slight rewrites, or things of that nature… but I’m going to be working on it again.

Speaking of bullet journaling, I wanted to start a new journal for 2018 and I had previously wanted to power through my original journal before I did that, but I’ve decided to use that journal as a testing ground for the BuJoRPG stuff and just start a new journal entirely. On January 1, 2018, I will have started the new year with an attempt to get re-organized and hopefully that leads me to a better chance at 365 days of journaling.

This month, the inaugural “basho” begins for the year as the Emerald Specter 2018 Winter Basho kicks off as previously announced. As I write this, there are four competitors out of 12 that will be participating in the event and I’m hoping that the rest of them jump on board before the actual kick off day.

The time controls are one move per day, which is as fast as I can guarantee I’ll personally be able to play. With my working schedule, several life unknowns, and just not really wanting to tie the event down to a single day or something like that, I’m hoping that the play is fast enough to ramp up the basho schedule from four to six for 2019, though we’ll see how this all actually plays out.

Realistically, I’m anticipating half of the players in the 2018 Winter Basho to not participate in future bashos. While I’d love to believe that the gimmick of chess crossed with sumo is enough to bring back people to compete for the “titles” that are involved, I’m enough of a realist to understand that to build a steady “roster” of players, this is probably going to be a two year plan. Some people will get it right away, some will pop in and check it out before deciding it isn’t for them.

This is one of those years where I haven’t payed as much attention to the NFL as I have previously. There have been years where I’d watch all three games on TV on Sunday, then watch the Monday game and when it was available, the Thursday and Saturday games.

This year? Pfff… I can’t tell you how many Sunday mornings I’ve woken up and just didn’t realize football was on TV. Hell, there have been days where my wife and I went out to eat and the only reason I knew I’d missed football is because it was on in the restaurant.

I’m mentioning this specifically as an NFL subject, but I’ve also slacked on watching the Premier League and the MLS, too, as 2017 hasn’t been a good “sports year” for me.

In 2001, I made a spreadsheet that was able to track the “picks league” I’d run for the people I worked with. The NFL schedule came out and I went to work ensuring that you could just input the scores of the games on the appropriate sheet and everything would update automatically. You could track up to 20 people in this league making the selections and while the coding of the spreadsheet was a little time consuming, I really enjoyed making it.

I’ve only made one similar since that year. When the 2018-2019 NFL schedule comes out, I plan on doing that again. I’m not sure I’m going to include places for people to keep track of their picks but if I build the basic sheet, I’ll be happy enough with myself.

Sticking with sports, the UFC has had a damn good year in 2017. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2018, too, as I’m going to start watching more of the events that I’m interested in seeing. I’m a big fan of the women and would guarantee to see the “lady fights” that were on whenever they were on but 2017 didn’t really let me get into UFC as much as I’d wanted.

Going out to watch UFC is something of a problem, as nearly all the bars and restaurants in the area that show the fights are packed to the hilt and have waiting lines out the door. Watching the fights at home is a costly endeavor, too, but if I can find out who at work likes to watch the UFC and is willing to split the cost, I’ll order the fights and none of us will take a giant hit on the price.

Yeah, I know that isn’t how the UFC intends these things to be watched, but we’re still paying to watch the fight and the groups aren’t going to be bigger than five or six people, so it isn’t like I’m hosting a public showing.

The last month or so, you’ve been treated to the “resurrecting old IPs” columns for possible future solo RPG adventuring. I’d even gone so far as to say I was going with my “Tron” idea and started figuring out what system I was going to use…

Then the holiday rush started and everything went to the back burner. EVERYTHING.

Well, if I’d have started RPing that scenario back in November or December, I might be supercharged to keep on with that storyline until some sort of “break” or “conclusion” came along… but since I haven’t even gotten to start the thing, I’m deciding whether I want to use another scenario or just move forward with the Tron one. Finding others to play with has forced me into using solo RPG as the only option I have.

Hey, DJ, what about the last column? You mentioned building some sort of fleet?

Yes, I did, and I’m glad you mentioned that.

Right along side working on the BuJoRPG2, I’m also going to be writing articles for the new fleet. The world that I’m creating does need some explanation and these articles can basically be used as the “training” for anyone wanting to play in the fleet.

Things I need to write up (generally speaking): biological information on the available and known species, a brief history of the planet from which the protagonists hail, how space travel works in this fleet, cultural backgrounds of the different nations on the planet, military structure, and basic things like how to run a SIM.

There is a lot to write and I’m really the only one that can write them up. I’ve got someone lined up to help design starships for the graphics side of things and with any luck, they won’t all look like a single person designed them (similar to what Star Trek ships look like).

I’ve attempted to write prose for a long time. There have been many, many false starts, and even fewer endings. The sad thing is that the “space series” short stories that I used to write are all in the past and I’ve seemed to have lost the ability to keep doing that sort of thing. So, I’m going to give myself a year to accomplish a goal that, if I don’t actually start doing it, I’ll never do.

I’m going to write a single issue, 22 page story, comic book script.

Not only am I going to write 22 pages of comic script, I’m going to then draw the damn thing, ink it, color it, and see how long the whole process takes me. There is no illusion that I can get this task done to completion in a single month, but if I’m going to write the script I want to see the end result.

I’ve talked about, pined over, and romanticized creating comic books since I started collecting them way back in 1987. There were six issues of a homemade comic that I made that have long since been lost that I even made, though I would tell you right now that they are horrible and the stories wouldn’t hold up at all under any scrutiny.

If I don’t do this in 2018, then I cam put that dream away and forget about ever doing it because talk is cheap and I’m tired of not doing anything about it.

The whole goal is to finish this project in 365 days, have a finished product by the end of 2018. I think that is a realistic goal and I’m hoping that it will inspire me to make more if I can complete one.

Wouldn’t that be great?

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There has been both super positive and super negative reaction to it, and I’d like to throw my two cents in as well.

“Old school” fans will proclaim from the mountain tops that the Original Trilogy (or OT) is really the only Star Wars there is, claiming it to be untouchable for its greatness. The majority of these fans are over the age of 40.

The younger generation of fans, the ones that grew up during the Prequel Trilogy (or PT) are the ones who understand that the OT is good but really love the PT and hold that as the standard to which Star Wars should strive.

We also have a few fans out there that like all of the saga, none of one of the trilogies aforementioned, and there are even still more with other variations of likes and dislikes.

The OT fans that hold up that trilogy as the best profess to wanting more stories with those characters and we are getting that with this Sequel Trilogy (or ST), but things aren’t working out exactly as they’d hoped. The OT super fans are also the ones primarily upset over the loss of the Expanded Universe (EU) that was turned into “Legends” by Disney after the purchase of Lucasfilm.

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in theaters, OT fans initially went orgasmic because they could now ignore the prequels entirely and just focus on moving “forward.” Well, you either seem to really like TFA or really dislike TFA, I haven’t really seen any “in between.” The movie was basically an entire “fan wank” rehash of the OT condensed into a single movie. Yes, there are redeeming bits and interesting beats in the movie, too, but overall, it’s the OT retold in a single movie.

Now that TLJ (The Last Jedi) has taken us into new territory, officially, the OT fans are crying super hard that this new movie isn’t their Star Wars. I have mentioned in some Facebook posts that I felt the movie didn’t really feel like Star Wars but I accept that things need to change in order to not continuously rehash the same story over and over again.

My question to the PT haters has always been: how can you hate half of something and claim to be a fan of it?

If I rank the Star Wars movies, and I’ve done this before TLJ came out, I’d have a different order if I included the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story into the mix… I don’t normally add that one because it’s not a numbered episode, so after putting thought into what I really think about TLJ, the order I’d rank the films in the saga are as follows:

  1. Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
  2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  5. Star Wars: A New Hope
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  7. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  8. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

With a prequel toping the list, I can feel (through the Force) millions of “fans” cry out in agony. RotS is a superior movie, although the film suffers a little from some lumps, it isn’t as “hole filled” or terrible as the OT people want to make it out to be…

I’d probably slot Rogue One right behind The Last Jedi if you made me add it to the list… but since I’m not going to rank the Solo film (as I have zero interest in it) or a Boba Fett film (as I also have zero interest… and as an aside, the character did literally jack shit on screen and he’s super popular? Why? He has literally done nothing to warrant the popularity), I leave Rogue One off that list as well.

When George Lucas made the prequels, the OT fans cried that he ruined their childhood. Those same fans rejoiced at the purchase by Disney, leaving GL out of the mix entirely… and now they’re crying about the fact that Disney is actually doing something interesting, albeit not what they wanted, with the franchise.

You can’t hate and love the creator simultaneously. Pick one.

Star Wars has a bright future. Rian Johnson was given the green light to have his own trilogy, divorced from the Skywalker saga entirely. What have I heard fans think the new trilogy will be about?

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Mandalorians
  • Knights of the Old Republic

Really? These are completely divorced from the Saga? I don’t think so, McFly.

The key words are “divorced from” and people are having a hard time grasping that concept.

I want to end this segment by boiling down a little 411 for the kids reading this: Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, with R2D2 and C3PO, are what the Saga is about. This links them to Rey, Kylo Ren, Snoke, Darth Vader, Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine), Padme Amidala, Chewbacca, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Jabba the Hutt, Biggs, Wedge, Mace Windu, BB8, and more characters than I can continue to name before I have to start looking them up… If Rian Johnson is going to tell a trilogy that is original and new, then there can be no connection to these characters aside from a passing mention.

Speculation ran rampant about Rey’s parentage and it comes down to the fact she’s a nobody. Why does everyone in the galaxy, read GALAXY, have to be related? Let’s do something new, something different, and let’s stop living in the past.

Nostalgia is for people who don’t know how to move forward.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 70: Building Something Wonderful

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

There is a little bit different look to things, if you haven’t noticed, as I’m launching the new look by replacing graphics over the course of the next few days (or weeks)… I’m not going to wholesale switch everything immediately, as that tends to stress me out and I don’t need that right now.

BUT… the time has come, and with this, the time has come to discuss an upcoming project in the detailed manner to which you’ve come to expect from the Journal entries as of late… 

I’m heading this one with the Storytelling banner because it really doesn’t fit much of anywhere else. Basically, this IS a story about storytelling.

Let me start at the beginning.

I’ve mentioned this on the Specter Show many times, but I’ve got the entire history of an entire planet that I want to tell the story of in pieces, thus I break down the story into “eras” and I would like to tell that story to the world at large. The part of that history I’d like to go over at this particular moment is the “future” part.

The basics you need to know, though: there are eight sapient (meaning sentient, intelligent, and peacefully existing) species on this world, there is almost no religion to speak of (due to the atrocities in the “past” that led to some pretty terrible results), the technological advancements of the combined species led to quick development into space flight (despite there being multiple factions on the surface of the world itself, they largely work together towards advancement… the species intermingle, the governments don’t necessarily do the same), and it is this “future in space” era that I’ll be discussing.

I know you’re probably wondering what the eight species are, I’ll not be divulging them all, but some will be discussed in this article.

With this future era of this planet, that I’m calling Dhumin (yes, that is a reference to the Cthulhu Mythos deity), there will be a space fleet that will be doing space fleet things… and I’d like to turn this into an opportunity to include others in this fleet.

How does one participate, you might ask? Look at Obsidian Fleet for an example.

What I’m proposing is beginning a fleet, in this universe that I’ve created, with a single SIM. One single SIM (or in this case, a “ship”). If you weren’t sure, that is basically what makes up the Obsidian Fleet: ships.

In Dhumin’s future, which I guess I’ll stop referring to as the future and start referring to as the Space Age, there are fleets of ships doing things in space that are interesting. There are three branches of the military, of the “primary” government that will be the focus of the fleet. Those branches are Fleet (the Navy, space Navy, etc), Flight (the Air Force, or space Air Force), and Force (the Army, Marines, and basic security/ground troops).

While I intend to write fiction about the “main plot” of this world, I’m realistic enough to understand that the SIM fleet will probably be far more productive in collaborative writing than I ever could.

So, what exactly is the plan?

A SIM is run by a game master, or Captain if you’re on board a ship, and that Captain runs a story for everyone to essentially collaboratively write within the bounds of, for all intents and purposes. Unlike a traditional RPG, a SIM is more about telling a story than rolling dice.

As the first Captain, I’d run the crew of whatever initial ship I would choose (“space” aircraft carrier, destroyer, stealth ship, transport, freighter, etc) and hopefully get a couple of the crew interested in captaining their own ships… thus the single SIM would expand to two or three (someone would take over the initial ship, too). I would move up in rank (mayhaps Admiral?) to keep the stories consistent with the world I’ve created, since I’m really the only one that knows what the hell is supposed to be going on at the present.

Overseeing a larger fleet (as Admiral), I’d be answering questions from the Captains about what they can and cannot do (story wise). I’m interested in heading off things that would “break immersion” in the universe, not stifling storytelling. If a Captain wants to invent a new form of FTL, that may come with some heavy restrictions, since there is an FTL present already and further development could grab the attentions of unwanted universal entities. There ARE future stories that will be told that will “break open the bonds” of the restrictions.

All of this comes from a single ship, though.

Maybe I start with an aircraft carrier, that spawns a special forces Force unit AND a squadron of Flight detached from the original aircraft carrier… that involves all three branches of the military right away.

Will there be bits and bobs we come across as we get through to the point where the doors get blown off? Yep. There isn’t a big “surprise” moment, there are clues leading to the big reveal… and there is a larger story being told, I just want to include the vision of others in along the way.

Do I have anyone interested?

I’m a big fan of SIMming. I’m a big fan of Star Trek, but the two have run into an issue that I am hoping I can provide some resolution. Most of the fleets online today rely on the “advancement into the future” from the end of Star Trek Nemesis, which by my count has made the SIM community stagnant because Nemesis came out in 2002. That is 15 years of running in a world that is never going to see another update.

If you pay attention to these sorts of things, new ship classes were developed all the time in the franchise. Uniforms were updated periodically, certainly more often than not at all in 15 years. The connective tissue to role-playing in such a distant time makes things less solid, in my opinion.

The world I’m offering is wholly original and ripe with opportunity. There is a roadmap and a man steering to get us there… me, by the way… and I’m interested in including others vision in this, too, as long as we don’t break the world I’ve created.

Join me?