Tag Archives: Emerald Specter

Journal of the Emerald Specter 53: Vampires, BuJoRPG 2, and Stuff

I’ve started trying out a few little tricks in my current WordPress template to see if I can make things look decent before just wiping this version aside and going with the next version that I’ve been tinkering with in the background. That’s not even the surface that I scratched with what I’ll talk about today, so let’s set things up a little.

Two days ago (as I write this, three days ago for you reading this) I fell off a step while working and sprained my left foot (not the ankle, the foot… the outside of my left foot) and I’m stuck wearing a boot for a few days. This has made me unable to work, so I’ve got a little time on my hands for a few things… first, I’m writing this column so that I can get this week taken care of and I can get to the other thing that needs to happen today: podcasting. Second, I have been making copious notes for BuJoRPG 2 and I am going to start tinkering with the formatting of the “look” so that I can formulate a beta version to release. Yes, I bolded that so it was an obvious statement for those looking for that information… and I’ll talk about that more lower in this column.

Now, on to the meat of this thing… 

You are reading that correctly. The banner says “Vampire.” I hadn’t originally intended to include a banner that said anything near that but I’ve stumbled across a few things that I hadn’t realized were quite as fleshed out as they actually were, so I stumbled in gladly.

In 1994, I started playing Vampire: The Masquerade with a group of players that I played with almost non-stop for 3 years. We did expand through the other game lines (Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, and Wraith: The Oblivion) but Vampire was definitely the anchor to the whole group.

When I left the Navy, things sort of went a little downhill.

I’m a big fan of Vampire: The Requiem but Masquerade will always hold a special place in my heart. The reason I said that things sort of went downhill is because Masquerade didn’t really update anymore… until this year.

I follow White Wolf and Onyx Path on Facebook. The other day, I saw a link talking about something called the Storyteller’s Vault and I was ecstatic. I started looking for more information and that’s what I’m about to talk about now.

White Wolf Publishing is releasing the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, or V5, and they’re doing all kinds of awesome stuff with that. The Storyteller’s Vault is part of that effort… I’ve watched the V5 Presentation and the WoD Keynote on YouTube and I’m excited for what might be coming down the road.

I’m keeping an eye out on Vampire: The Requiem (over at Onyx Path Publishing), but this column is definitely about V5.

White Wolf is updating V5 for the modern day. There is also a distinct “Requiem-ification” of some of the aspects of the new Vampire that I am definitely a bigger fan of… allowing me to tell a story I was preparing for Requiem IN Masquerade, and releasing that story as a supplement on Storyteller’s Vault.

Yeah, this just got all kinds of awesome.

I’ll let you watch the presentations and read the updates, but what I’m interested in is getting away from just telling my isolated stories that don’t affect anything else (like has traditionally been the situation) and getting a larger world scope going on… if that means I’m the only one doing that, too, then maybe that’s how it has to be done. White Wolf is allowing the players to run the metaplot, though, and that gives me some hope.

I’m going to start investigating running a game via messages (iPhone, Facebook, etc), post (Facebook Group, forums, etc), email (yes, people do still like to play things via email), and maybe even include a little bit of YouTube (the video element seems to have worked well for the Vampire the Masquerade YouTube Experiment (also called New Sarum, New Sarum 2, and New Sarum 3).

There is a story I want to tell and I’m willing to let anyone help me tell it. More on this as time passes, I do want to wait for the V5 to be released first before firmly establishing a start date.

I’ve made some folks real happy by stating I’ll be releasing BuJoRPG 2 as a beta to help playtest it. I didn’t realize that would be such a popular idea, but I guess I should have… the response to BuJoRPG has been astounding and I’m looking to expand my user base with BuJoRPG 2.

So, what’s in BuJoRPG 2?

One thing that I got a lot of feedback on is wanting stats, or more accurately, Attributes. I hadn’t included them in the original BuJoRPG release because I wasn’t really aiming at the “adventurer on missions” type thing with BuJoRPG 1, so finding a reason to have them was something I needed to work on in order to get BuJoRPG 2 (henceforth referred to as B2) going.

There are four Attributes that will do some modifying of things in your B2, they’ll relate to the Physical, Social, Emotional, and Mental aspects of your self improvement journey. They have proper names, they have a purpose, and I just need to format things in order to give you more information. Enjoy this nugget, though.

I’ve also revamped the HP system, changing how it works and what it actually does. Remember, the goal is self improvement so I wanted to keep you moving forward as a person in development rather than just creating something to have as another “tracker” in your journal.

Habits will have a function, Items will also be included (formerly Gear in B1, and there will be specific Items for specific benefits), Quests have been reformulated to be a specific mechanic, I’ve got To-Do lists for the major time periods to use (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), and I’m bringing in Chores to this (for the means of accomplishing the combat I was so looking for in B1).

The best part of all this? Well, instead of filling out your “character info” multiple times (i.e. for each day you essentially set up your current status), I’m giving you a layout for a “Character Sheet,” which you can refer back to while you’re just tracking your progress on the daily or weekly spreads.

Character Sheet. Yes, I don’t know why that wasn’t a thing in the first place.

Today, I’ve got to get this column and a podcast out of the way. I have to make me some product for my wife’s business, and I’ll be making scribbled notes about B2 the whole time. When I have things at a satisfactory spot, I’ll release the beta… and the beta will help me get things working way faster (since more people will be helping).

This all leads to something I’ve avoided doing but have to ask at this point: Patreon support. I’m going to be updating all the goals, backer level rewards, and so on… the reason I’m asking is that B2 is something I really want to do and if I can get a little financial help to work on that, it’ll be pushed higher in the priority queue… money talks.

This was shorter than I intended. I don’t know if you want to read a long and bloated explanation of things beyond a few “quick hits,” so I am cutting this column off here. I’ve always got a few things on my plate and though I’m interested in getting all of them done at all times, I have to prioritize.

Oddly enough, all this “working on B2” has left me not journalling for almost 2 straight weeks. Between work, getting B2 mapped out, and trying to get a couple of my other projects moving forward, I’m lacking in journalling.

Time to stop making excuses and start making progress.

The Specter Show 029: Heresy

In what can only be called a “plethora” of topics, DJ discusses such topics as the BuJoRPG 2, No Man’s Sky Atlas Rises update, Specter of the Galaxy, the Greatest Show, serial fiction, a PRO Chess League podcast, and more!

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:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #chess @TheoRossi #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #bulletjournal #NoMansSky #AtlasRises #writing #PROChessLeague

BuJoRPG – Wuxia: Rise of the Iron Garden (Version 1.8)

Welcome to Version 1.8.

I have begun work on the BuJoRPG 2 and this release needed to happen before I got too far into the process. I modified the instructions to include the new features, so there are undoubtedly grammar, spelling, and context errors in the text. Please forgive these as I look to the future of the BuJoRPG.

The “BuJo Central” category to the right on this page now includes the link to the Version 1.8, as well as the original page that I created announcing the BuJoRPG… but, to be complete in all things, I include for you the latest release of the BuJoRPG:

BuJoRPG – Wuxia: Rise of the Iron Garden

Thank you.

 

Journal of the Emerald Specter 52: Inspiration Strikes

I am writing these well ahead of time in order to be ahead of the curve, for those times when I’m struggling to keep afloat with all of my tasks. This has been nice to be ahead and I’m going to be making this one a long, long column because there is a lot of stuff that I want to cover.

As the title suggests, this one is because inspiration has struck me since I wrote the last column. I’m talking about BuJoRPG inspiration, chess playing inspiration, working out inspiration, organizing inspiration, and other types… having a weekend off has done wonders for inspiring me to get things done.

Why don’t I stop being vague and start getting into the meat of what this column is about?

The original inspiration for the BuJoRPG was when I came across the website ClassCraft, an RPG system for classrooms that looked interesting. I’ve since watched several seminars and explanations of things in order to get more depth on this subject and I’ve used some of the ideas to expand the intent of the BuJoRPG in general.

This has what has become BuJoRPG Version 1.0 (and currently, the development stages of BuJoRPG Version 1.8, which has not been released for public consumption). I am very near releasing this expansion and I’ve decided (definitively) that this release will NOT be a full version number higher than the original (Version 2.0 should be wholly different than 1.0, thus the new release will most likely be Version 1.8 or 1.9, as that is likely where I’ll be when I do the write up of the system).

Over the weekend that I’m writing this (for those interested in the “behind the scenes,” this is being written on August 6, 2017), I randomly did a search for some YouTube videos that I thought might result in finding someone using my BuJoRPG system… I came across videos that I wasn’t really expecting to find.

There is an app (for mobile and desktop) that I’ve found in the past called Habitica (or HabitRPG, as it was originally known). I watched a video from someone using the desktop version and I listened a lot closer than I normally do. Then, boom, inspiration struck.

As I’ve stated before, I was working on expanding the Quests operation by splitting them into long term and short term. That works, it’s in Version 1.8. I’ve also stated that I’m working on the gear and monetary system, which I’m pretty sure works but I haven’t actually used that in practice, yet. I’m willing to stick that in Version 1.8 for sure just to move on to what I think needs  to be done for Version 2. This means I’m actually setting a release date for Version 1.8 as August 30, 2017.

Soon, right?

There are a couple of caveats that I’m doing that will expedite this process: I’m NOT releasing a new template and I’m only releasing the Rise of the Iron Garden (and the base system) updates. That’s it. Further expansion on BuJoRPG Version 1 will be done by you (the users) or won’t be done at all… progress comes at a price.

Now it’s time to talk about what I want to do with Version 2.

I’ve stated numerous times I wanted to have a character collecting aspect to the game. I have a means of doing this but I’m not going to put it into Version 2, so don’t worry about me rehashing that information again. This is still going to be very much about personal improvement and development, meaning you’re the only “character” in this game… sort of.

You will now have stats. I’ve seen a lot of people adapting what I released and portioning out some of their goals, quests, and other stuff into specific stats. I’m going to full-on put stats into Version 2, which will affect how things interact with the system. Tired of having your HP get knocked out so easily because of how Version 1 works? Version 2 will have a stat that modifies the HP instead of having a base value and damage that is variable based on your level.

Gear will modify things, and gear will most definitely be a part of Version 2. These modifications will change your stats efficacy, stats value, modify your XP earning for stats, and even change the variables that you will be interacting with… meaning there are multiple reasons for having gear!

The concept of the “Dailies” was to complete things that you should be doing on a daily basis (duh). Around my own house, and work, I will be expanding this into Weeklies and Monthlies, perhaps even a Quarterlies or Yearlies (maybe). This will provide different levels of earning XP and expand on what you should be paying attention to for the short, medium, and long term of your self improvement!

Habit tracking is a part of lots of folks’s bullet journals. I’ve seen these used as both habit trackers and progress bars, and since this is an RPG being developed, I’m going to be integrating progress bars in place of habit tracking.

As you can see, this is getting more complex and (hopefully) more fun.

To Do lists are a big part of self improvement, for example, I need them for things around the house (or related to chores, shopping, etc) to be sure I’m not forgetting things. Thus, they’ll be integrated into Version 2 in a big way.

In Version 1, XP was really the only reward for doing stuff… in Version 2, you’ll get rewards of XP, coinage (I say that because I don’t know what the money system will be called, yet), powers, gear, and all kinds of neat stuff. This is to encourage you to break out of habits that you might have fallen into that aren’t the best for progress.

Like what you’re reading so far? Well, maybe I should get to the good part.

I’m going to make the “sheets” for the BuJo in Excel. I’ve created my own personal template in Excel and I’m going to make the interactive (i.e. automated calculations) in Excel, too. I said this from the beginning that I was working towards making a BuJo in an electronic version to take care of all the tracking for you.

What am I still writing for? Get to it… I will, right after I explain the rest of the column.My feedback has come back on the PRO Chess podcast host possibilities… and it’s a no. So, I’m going to do this by myself and hope to attract someone at a higher level than I am to participate as well.

I’ve started back in on Chess.com‘s tactics puzzles and I think I’ve gotten a little better just over the past week or two. I’m going to continue working on them in the hopes that I actually slow myself down a bit during my actual games, which I’d like to point out that I’m now looking at the games as “tactics puzzles” in order to keep the same mindset with both the puzzles AND the games.

Having said that, I totally “checked out” on my games this morning and made two disastrous blunders that are going to set my rating back a few points. I didn’t look at the games the way I just told you that I was and so I now have to pay the Iron Price (Game of Thrones reference for the win).

I’m also going to fully integrate chess into the BuJoRPG.

Wait, what? You just spent most of this column talking about the BuJoRPG and you’re going to talk about it in the chess section, too?

Yes. Read on.

I am building BuJoRPG Version 2 for me, specifically. That means the battles are going to involve some chess, development will involve some chess, and hell, I may even make the layout look a little more chess-like, too. Developing my chess game will also help me develop my self improvement, which is also part of my goal to be better overall.

Chess is a game that is a good mental exercise to keep your mind healthy, keep critical thinking at the forefront, and help you treat “moves in your life” more like a game of chess. Want to get that promotion at work? You need to be thinking three moves ahead because the competition isn’t, which gives you the edge.

I haven’t decided exactly how integrated chess will be at the early stages but I’m hoping that I can make it a bigger part of the BuJoRPG, which would help me be more active with my own journaling.

Look, I made a header for the end of the column! It will help tie the loose ends together.

I didn’t mention the inspiration as much in the chess segment, but that was an inspiration to start back in on the tactics puzzles. I know I need to slow down to get better and I need the tactics puzzles to be able to identify the tactical advantage I can get, figure out how to pursue the end result, and force my opponent into doing what I want them to do in order to achieve my goal.

Simple, right?

Inspiration has been coming in waves. I wrote a chapter on my serial fiction and was inspired to write more, though I had to back off to accomplish other things. I read a little bit about something I do not want to explain right now, but I did the research to find what I needed to know and I’ll tell you about that once I have a better idea on how to put into words what I’m trying to accomplish. The Jon Jones win got me inspired to watch more UFC. The NFL season returning soon has inspired me to get things done to watch the games that I’m going to want to watch during the season. A new podcast I found has inspired me to get more involved with my soccer viewing, too!

Find out what you can use to inspire you and hopefully the BuJoRPG Version 2 will get you moving in the right direction, too!

A Note About the Specter Show

Do not adjust your podcast settings, you did NOT receive a Specter Show this week. Here’s why:

Work has been insane and I ended up working an amount of hours this week that couldn’t possibly have been planned for in a season that is not Christmas. While I normally record on Sundays, the Game of Thrones being on when I would normally record has emboldened me to record later in the week and that was really the long and the short of things… I missed it.

But, there is a good reason why missing it will work out in the end.

Atlas Rises, the new update for No Man’s Sky came out this past week and it is awesome. This has (if you are following the Emerald Specter YouTube Channel 2) spawned the Specter of the Galaxy, which has taken a slightly different form… and that also needs explaining, but that comes later. Specter of the Galaxy will be me, in a new game, live streaming my experience and following the storylines that have been added to the game. Follow along as I play as often, and for as long, as I can each installment, attempting to get somewhere exciting in the game.

There will be TWO Specter Shows this week, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday (catching the “once a week” track record back up). Tuesday’s will be the No Man’s Sky Atlas Rises update talk, and the Specter Show on Thursday will be a manifesto (of sorts) on the plans that are going to be made for the website going into 2018 and beyond…

… let me digress back to that “needs some explaining” about the new Specter of the Galaxy. Testing is being done in the background about how I can tell the story, with the Creative Mode of the game instead (thus, hopefully, eliminating the need to worry about getting roped into a storyline that won’t fall into the narrative). Time will tell, but this will now have a different name.

Finally, to avoid this becoming a full on column, the BuJoRPG Version 1.8 will be finalized as soon as I can get time to write it up. I won’t release a base version, just the Wuxia “Rise of the Iron Garden” version, because as I started this column with, my time isn’t necessarily completely available to get this all done.

BuJoRPG Version 2 will begin testing very soon and rather than parse out little bits of info from this point on, I’ll release a “beta” version for help testing things that I won’t have time to do… let me get it set up, then we’ll get it moving forward.

Thanks for reading and let’s get things back to normal.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 51: Battles and BuJoRPG

Another Journal entry is being made and you’re here to read it, for which I am thankful. There is another dose of this and that, with some larger pieces of the puzzle being more prominent, I’ll still be covering a plethora of topics.

As a note, I’ve seen my traffic dip even further down. I knew that things would taper off but I was hoping that some would come here to see all kinds of stuff, not just come here for a singular purpose. I’ve got a lot of interests and I guess I was hoping that there would be “something” that would keep readers coming back. Maybe what is contained within this article will help with that, at least in a couple of the subjects.

I’m starting out with the one thing that has kind of dominated my week. As I write this, I’ve dove deep into the game to get my mind working in the direction I need in order to grow my chess.com rating from the meager “mid-1100s” and back into growth. I’d like to be back up to the “mid-1200s” pushing to get over the 1300 hump again, and that means playing games and studying.

I’ve joined a number of chess clubs on chess.com, some of which were because I was looking for regular players to play against (without the randomness of just opening up a game). This includes my continued membership in the Team USA, US Veterans Chess, and Team USA: Northwest groups. I’ve added World League, Chess.com Chess League, Rose City Chess, Chess.com iOS Club, Knights of the Square Table, Knightmares Finest Chess, Chess.com League, and the PRO Chess League.

That last one is the one I’d like to expand this article into… a little history needs to be dropped, first.

In 2005, the United States Chess League (USCL) was formed to be a United States “nationwide” organization for team chess play. The league expanded over the course of 11 years to include 20 teams, running in a similar fashion to the other sports leagues of the United States.

I say 11 years because in 2016, the USCL announced a change to include the entire world worth of teams, and changed its name to the Professional Rapid Online Chess League, or PRO Chess League.

In 2017, the PRO Chess League ran 48 teams through a seven week chess season, ending in a five week playoff season to crown the St. Louis Arch Bishops the 2017 PRO Chess League Champions. The biggest development in the PRO Chess League over the USCL was the inclusion of some of the biggest names in chess today competing, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway Gnomes), Wesley So (St. Louis Arch Bishops), Hikaru Nakamura (Miami Champions), and Fabiano Carauna (Montreal ChessBrahs).

The 2018 season is going to be organized in a different fashion due to the confusion of having 48 teams. There will only be 32 teams for this second season, 24 automatically qualify to participate, and the other 24 will battle for their chance (along with any new teams that may spring up) to be one of the final 12 teams to compete in the 2018 season proper. This is as close to a “promotion/relegation” system that PRO Chess League will get, though I will be very interested to see how this format works.

Along with the analysis of my own personal games through this column (perhaps a separate column in the future), I have approached someone about being a co-host on a PRO Chess League podcast. Depending upon how that contact works out, I would be interested in making the podcast the “official” podcast, then be able to have access to official video, commentary, and interviews with the stars of the league.

If this approach ends up not panning out, I’ll still attempt to do what I’ve stated above, just as a solo host, and I’ll still try to get the podcast labeled official. The thing I lose without the co-host is the analysis of someone who knows what they’re doing at a much greater level.

I do have other option, I just really want to work with this person.

No game to analyze this time, I have several games going at the moment and I’ve earmarked a specific game for analysis (which, as I write this, is still underway). Stay tuned.

I haven’t been into the UFC as much this year as I have in the past. There was a long run of the past four or five years where I was actively watching matches, following certain fighters, and making sure that UFC was “appointment viewing.”

In 2017, I’ve only watched two UFC events and I’m a little sad about that.

Writing about the UFC is something I enjoyed doing, following the UFC has been much more interesting than following boxing (for fans of mine who don’t know my history with boxing, I used to be a devout follower of the sport… until hugging and terrible matchups started ruining the experience). I want to dedicate myself to at least commenting on the UFC a little as I work my way back to following the big fights and upcoming superstars.

So, onto a little commentary…

UFC 214 was a nice way to break back into the UFC for me, allowing me to see some of the best fights in a while. Cyborg beat the hell out of an undeserving Tonya Evinger (I have a column about my disgust with her shell of a victory in Invicta over an opponent by the Missouri Sports Commission rather than getting it done in the ring)… good job Cyborg. Woodley defeated Maia in a match that was mostly boos by the crowd but I understand why that one turned out the way it did. Finally, the main event of the evening was the much anticipated rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, something that has been scheduled at least twice before but failed to happen. This will be the focus of this segment.

Despite seeing what Cormier has done against opponents as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, I really considered Jon Jones the champion since he never lost the belt… he was stripped of the belt. Having no Jones in the UFC has been an experience that I don’t want to experience again… but the problem was Jones’ inability to stay clean or out of trouble, which is all up to the man I considered the champion going into this fight. The closer this fight came to happening, the more I worried that one of these guys wouldn’t be able to fight due to an injury, something that has happened to Cormier a lot in his reign.

With the win of Jones to regain his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, we return to the situation we were in before Jones started having “out of ring” issues. I look forward to seeing what else Jones can do now that he’s back with gold around his waist.

The event, overall, was epic.

The biggest traffic getter on EmeraldSpecter.com is, by far, the BuJoRPG that I released. I continue to test, expand, and bullet journal. The traffic drop off that has been steadily declining is the traffic coming to the site for bullet journaling specifically. I can’t argue that I made a good move developing the BuJoRPG, but I’d like to keep the hits coming…

Testing and development in the BuJoRPG system has been changed in a slight way. If I tested the way that I tested the first time, you wouldn’t see another BuJoRPG release until almost the end of 2017. I don’t want to wait that long, as a result, I’ve modified how I’m testing things to be able to develop the BuJoRPG system a little faster.

I don’t know why I didn’t do things this way in the first place.

I’ve modified the Quest system, breaking it up into long and short term lines. XP varies for each of them and I think that I’ll be fine leaving the system the way I am currently using it (as of this writing).

A promise of bringing in “gear” has caused the biggest delay in the next release. I am doing a “real time” test of the money system (RPG money, not real money) to be able to acquire the gear because I want to see if the acquisition of the initial items is realistic and gives you something to shoot for… and I’m liking what I am seeing so far.

With the response I’ve gotten and what I see others using the BuJoRPG system (with or without modifications), I am seeing if there is anything else I’d like to include as I stray closer to putting together the next edition of the system. I’m working with version 1.8 at the moment, so I think that I may be releasing “2.0,” whether or not the changes are significant enough to call it “BuJoRPG 2.”

I think using the version system, I can leave the door open for “sequels” in the way I just used that… Ver 2.0 vs BuJoRPG 2…

Things are definitely looking good and I’m excited to show you all what I’ve got coming out.

I stalled in starting working out when I said I was going to start. Work hours ramped way up on me three days before I wanted to start and I was freaking exhausted when the actual day rolled around. I really wanted to have something specific to report, but I guess I’ll just pass along what the plan is for the start of the next week.

My week starts on Saturday. This keeps my postal week, bullet journal week, and workout week all on the same rotation. I don’t want any confusing day changes just because a “traditional” rotation for working out starts on Sunday. My workouts, my week.

The plan for the week looks like this:

Saturday – Legs
Sunday – Rest
Monday – Back and Biceps
Tuesday – Chest and Triceps
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Legs and Abs
Friday – Shoulders

Friday is going to be a rest day until my shoulders stop hurting. I have an impingement in both shoulders, with my left shoulder being exponentially worse than my right, I don’t even think I could do half the exercises that I ned to in order to work them out… I’m not super worried about my shoulders being worked out right now, since I’m no longer working for a “swole look,” I’ll just be making sure most of the groups even up.

If you’re wondering about cardio, that is an interesting topic. I am a letter carrier for the post office and I basically have cardio going on all day long on days that I work. I’ll be doing some form of pre-workout cardio in addition to all that, but I am leaning heavily on my job to provide the majority of the cardio as I start back out on this journey again.

The other important part of this journey is getting back to clean eating. Due to my wife locking down the spending in our house (we maintain a specific dollar amount in the checking account as we put regular amounts in savings each paycheck), we started going back to eating at home more often than not.

Several years ago, when I had issues eating dairy in any form, my wife and I started eating much better. My working out was accompanied by even better eating and we haven’t stopped eating the quality foods that we switched to (when we eat at home), allowing us to see weight loss on days we eat at home (for me, at least).

Any diet is a lifestyle change, if that diet is to work. As soon as you go back to eating the garbage you were eating before your “diet,” you’ll start regaining all your nasty weight again. This is something most people aren’t aware enough to understand. This is why most people fail at their weight loss goals.

All in all, I’m eating out far less… the money constriction is a blessing in disguise. I just need to lay off the sweets now and I’ll be back to eating completely clean.

Baby steps, I guess… baby steps.

I’ll close this column out with the storytelling header. This won’t talk about the serial fiction, though, this will be about the BuJoRPG.

Wait, what?

The base system for the BuJoRPG will be without a storyline, but the templates won’t. I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to hint at the possibility for EVERY template to have a story.

The one I’m most interested in is the Wuxia template, though. I’m going so far as to release the title of this next version of the template… that title will be the Rise of the Iron Garden.

Interested in learning why? Well, that is also allowing me to elaborate on the initial Wuxia template story, then I can properly build up each successive expansion.

This is short, but I hope it was interesting.

The Specter Show 027: Mr. Self Destruct

Heading towards a single topic show, DJ “The Emerald Specter” Allen briefly talks about some topics before getting into the meat of the show: chess. Chess.com, chess playing, chess podcasting, and more!

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: Dirk Manning

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

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Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

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Journal of the Emerald Specter 50: Welcome to the Journal

Since this is a journal of everything I’ve been doing, want to do, and will speculate about, thus begins the old “Emerald Specter” column in the new “Journal of the Emerald Specter.” You are not incorrect when you see “50” behind that, because this is the 50th edition of this column (even though it has a new name).

I whipped up a “graphics package” for this column and as you can see, I’ve decided to begin with the “aged paper/olde timey log book” look. If I decide to switch up the look, I’ll just go ahead and do that without any further “big announcement,” because aesthetics aren’t worthy of a big announcement (unless it’s for the whole website).

So, since we’re here on a new column pushing forward with a new format, let’s see what we have involved with our headings that applies for today.

I sit and write this column before my attempt to finish out “episode 2” of the serial fiction that I’m working on. My third editor has actually received episode 1, and much to my delight, has already begun reading what I sent. That has encouraged me to move forward and get episode 2 done and work towards the ending of season one.

In the world of No Man’s Sky, I’ve been playing randomly zipping through the galaxy while I wait for the update 1.3 (Waking Titan) to drop… and I’ve really gotten enthusiastic about my game again. I played for six hours over the course of the last two days and I’m looking to really push into the game again today to see what else I can accomplish. The storytelling elements for the narrative are still falling into place, too, as I work out the bugs of where the story will go. I can only do so much on that front at the moment, though, because without knowing what will be added to the game, I don’t want to plan an air tight story that can be upset with the slightest “new shiny” being added to the game.

While the next storytelling piece technically belongs under this heading, I’ve determined that it needs to go under this one, instead:

I have been testing out the processes of the new things I’m working on, and even though I am really, really early in the testing process, I think this is going to be a good development. Knowing that things are going as well as I think they are, this will bring me to what ties this segment into the above segment.

As promised, new releases of the BuJoRPG would be accompanied by “story elements” to build up a narrative that anyone using the system can participate in. The “base system,” or the system without a template, won’t get this story element but I have begun working on the barest of an outline for the BuJoRPG: Wuxia template and the Untitled BuJoRPG Space template… yes, new template for a new release.

Do you have a template idea you’d like to see? Well, there are two ways you can see that come to fruition for future releases… the first one is to create the template yourself and send the link to me so that I can share that with the world (full credit to you). The other is to email emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com and float the idea at me, giving me something to consider for future releases.

The return of SpecterFit! As prophecies many moons ago, I have resurrected the column in the form of a segment in the “flagship” column of the whole site. I had a hard time filling up my personal column size requirement (periodically) before, so now I’m going to do this as large as it needs to be as part of THIS column.

Starting yesterday (as you read this), I began working out again at home to get in a weight loss mode intending to lose another 15 to 20 pounds before deciding on a gym in my area.

In North Dakota, where I came from, there was a Gold’s Gym that was on the way to work. That made going to the gym before work super convenient and I was energized to go because I had no excuses for missing.

In Oregon, I don’t have access to a Gold’s Gym in a reasonable travel distance. I am searching for other gyms in the area to visit, before work preferably, and that will allow me to get the workouts done before draining myself for a long day of delivering mail.

One thing that I realize is that I didn’t really know what my focus for going to the gym was… was I going to gain mass muscle and get “bigger?” Well, yes… was I going to lose weight and get slimmer? Um, yes… and there lies the problem.

Weight loss is all about making a number shrink to achieve a poundage that fits with the body image that makes me healthier in general. The simple way to achieve this is to lift weights for toning and load the rest of the workout with cardio (the primary means of burning the fat).

Trying for muscular gains is a whole different ball of wax. Muscle weighs more than fat, and so if I’m both trying to lose weight and gain muscle, I can’t really concentrate on the number that shows up on the scale. I wasn’t thinking like that in North Dakota and now that I’m thinking about that here, I really need to decide which one I really want.

While I would love to be bulked up like professional bodybuilders, I think that the shedding of the weight and toning up the muscles that I already have should be my primary focus. That means I’m not looking to lifting the heaviest amount of weight I can as often as I can to build impressive looking muscles. I have gained some mass in my arms and legs, but not nearly what I hope to gain in the process… and I’m sorely lacking in “an ass.” Like a lot of males in the modern day, my glutes have shrunk in the absence of my cross country running from high school to zero running for anything other than a cardio boost before lifting.

What I’m saying is that I need to shape some of this body and once I attain that short goal, maybe then I can look at bulking if that is still something I’d like to do in the future.

Unless you’ve never read anything I’ve ever written on this website, you know that I love the game of chess and follow the professionals in a casual way. That means I know who Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishwanathan Anand, and Hikaru Nakamura are, where they generally fall into the hierarchy of modern professional chess, and which tournaments that they participate in but I am not so much into following the “break down every game” of the tournaments they play in.

I am, however, going to start seriously investigating my own games and seeing if I can present them in the way that I think pro chess can be presented to the world at large for a larger audience.

That leads me to ask you all who are reading that play the game: would you like to play a game or two of chess with me?

I am a member of chess.com and I have a paid account, meaning I can play quite a few games at a time. You only need a free account to play me and I believe you can play at least a couple of games at a time without worrying about needing to play more than that. I invite all levels of player, and at the time of this writing, my current chess.com rating is 1191 (I’ve had a bit of a dip due to several losses in mini-tournaments that I was one of the lowest ranked players in… I usually run between 1175-1300).

The reason I would want to “play a couple” against you is to analyze both a game where I play white and one where I play black.

Finally, I end with one of my favorite sports: sumo.

The Nagoya Basho ended with Hakuho winning his 39th Yusho (tournament victory) and setting the all time win record at 1049. I’m happy for him and I’m also interested to see whether or not he’ll retire now (since he’s accomplished so much) or if he’ll wait until he starts doing worse in competitions just so he can make that win record so high it’ll be hard to top?

Time will tell.

I wanted to include a bit about this, even though there isn’t a basho going on right now, because if you have any interest in sumo at all, NOW is the time to start watching. There are several new, young sumo wrestlers (rikishi) that have entered the top division (Makuuchi) in the past three months that are worth your attention.

Ura and Ishiura are the two “little guys” really making waves right now, and even my wife comes to the TV to watch Ura’s matches with me (because he does some wild moves, things I’ve never seen anyone else do, much less at the frequency with which he performs them). Ishiura does some wild stuff, too, but he’s seemingly struggling to stay consistent as Ura is as far as competing at the high level he started out at.

The next tournament is in September and I would suggest you check out Kintamayama’s YouTube Channel for the “daily digest” releases (for those of us who can’t see anything near a live feed or an all encompassing “recap” of the matches). He’s the best.

* * *

I should have a “breaker” graphic for the finale of the column, I’ll work on that for next time… and as NFL season starts up I’ll talk about football, as Premier League season starts up (same season) I’ll talk about that football, and so on… if it interests me, it’ll probably be in this Journal of the Emerald Specter.

Toodles.

The Specter Show 026: Underneath the Skin

There is a little bit about the BuJoRPG (well, about half the show, actually), talk about where the Greatest Show is headed (complete with explanation!), a bit about what I’d like to do with THIS show, sumo talk (not what you think it is), and more about the serial fiction for Emerald Specter.com!

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: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
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Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

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Emerald Specter 49: Storytelling

If you haven’t been paying attention, Emerald Specter.com is quickly shifting to telling stories. Stories about all kinds of wonderful things, some in “real time,” and some pre-written. With this focus, this branding, I’ll be moving things in directions that I hadn’t necessarily intended when I started moving the site in this direction.

In August, No Man’s Sky Update 1.3 will be released and that will (apparently) introduce all kinds of new little goodies to the game. There is an ARG, or alternate reality game, that is currently happening (entitled Waking Titan) which is leading to this update’s release. This is all important because I’ve decided to tell a narrative using No Man’s Sky but not using No Man’s Sky “narrative,” if that makes sense. I’m waiting for the update to come out to see what other things I’ll have access to in order to tell the narrative that I have in mind. I’ve come up with the basis of this narrative, now I wait to see what alterations I need to include with the release of this update. This IS happening and I’m going to be doing this a little differently than I initially intended (though included as an option everywhere I’ve talked about it).

There will be two narratives going on at the same time… the first is the narrative of the live stream of the game I’m playing, complete with audio commentary as I go and my “co-pilot” will join me at being somewhat “in character.” The reason I continue to put that term in quotations is that if something comes up in the real world while I am playing, I’ll break character and may even have some “dead gameplay” happening while we figure out what is happening. I’m planning on a schedule of when to follow along live but this is really just gathering the information for the other part of this narrative: the edited and “finished” product.

Ideally, the idea is to have a cohesive “season” of story told through several installments. When you watch one of these polished episodes, you’ll get some of the live in-game audio but you’ll also get a lot of voice over narration, telling the story that is harder to pick out from the live feed. Did you see me react a certain way on a planet and didn’t really understand format he live feed, even after watching the scene three times? Well, in the voice over polished episode, you’ll hear about the story beat that was intended to be included in the live feed but my “in character” perspective wouldn’t necessarily understand what was happening.

Yes, I am thinking deep on this one. I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Moving along, I’ve mentioned on the Specter Show about writing serial fiction for this site. While I stalled slightly after writing “episode 1” of the series, I have started in on the first third of “episode 2” and I’m not looking back. I’ve gotten Kevin Couick (from the Greatest Show) interested in the writing of a serial, so we may have a second serial gracing the site that I am not directly involved with! I’d edit, as I have asked him to do for me, but I wouldn’t be writing anything about it.

With the series I’m working on, which I’ll call “Untitled: Series 1,” I want all 12 or 13 episodes completed, edited, and released in 12 or 13 consecutive weeks (as if I were HBO releasing one of their original series on their channel). Once I’m done with the editing and scheduled set up of the release, I intend to start working on another series. Will that be Untitled: Series 1, Season 2? Probable, though I don’t want to exclude the possibility of New Series Season 1. With Kevin in the mix, I wouldn’t feel the pressure to expand into another series right away, as there would be more content to release that would be interesting for you (the audience).

Keep strong if I decide to write a different series instead of season two of the first one… there are lots of stories I have to tell and some of them need to be out there before continuing with the already released “sequels.” Besides, if you like both series, THEN which one do I write third? Right?

All this talk of writing may also result in audio versions of these episodes. So, with the release of a season and then a release of the audio versions at a future date, I would essentially have a novel and an audiobook released within a relatively short span of time.

Also, I don’t know if Kevin intends to novelize his offering but I am intending to novelize mine. Some people like to hold a book when they read and I’d like to be able to sign something for those that really enjoy what I will write.

If you’ve been paying attention to some of the things I’ve talked about on past episodes of the Specter Show, you’ll note there are a couple of items that are completely missing from any sort of documentation in the last few columns or episodes… that would be the narration I was talking about doing for the Doctor Who synopsis readings that I’d promised. I haven’t forgotten about them, I have pushed them to the background because I am actively writing and do not want to interrupt the creative process. I may also discover that I don’t have time for that until a “lull” in the writing process, too, so perhaps saving it for later would be a better thing.

The final thing, which is sort of a storytelling topic, is the concept of columns. I have been writing multiple columns at one point, would liked to have gotten back to that for the sake of content, and I have failed to relaunch things like I’d promised. Well, I’m considering doing something a little different and that would mean an explanation of how and why I’m considering this.

I used to write a professional wrestling column waaaaaaay back in the 20th century (which ran for 350 weekly releases for a website that has since gone down in quality). That would be six years plus of writing about professional wrestling. How did I accomplish this feat? What made the column last that long?

First and foremost, I chose a single topic and talked the hell out of it. Sometimes it was about a match, sometimes it was about an angle (a storyline between two or more wrestlers), sometimes it was about history (lineage of a championship, progression of a specific character, or the rise/fall of a federation), and sometimes it was just about what was currently happening in the world of wrestling (at that time, it would have been between WWE and WCW… later being between WWE and TNA). After the first 50-75 columns, though, topics started to be a little tougher to fill out the entire column length (which was about 750-1500 words, depending on the topic). My audience was clamoring for more, so I did something unexpected…

I added sections to the column.

The first part of the column then became a brief “info dump” about what I thought about what was currently going on at the time. This was about 250-500 words, depending on how interesting the angles were at the time.

The second part was the “traditional” column, containing a focus on a single topic that was now reduced to 500-1000 words, depending on the specific topic. This was also an opportunity to revisit ideas I’d already written about and retell them in the shorter format.

The third part was a story I started developing as part of a series of fictional accounts. At first the story would be released to fantasy booking (setting up angles or shows with specific matches or whatnot). Once the fantasy booking started to see a lull, I created a fictional wrestler and ran him through entering the business and eventually becoming a Hall of Fame character in the twilight of his career.

That third part was, by far, my most popular feature. The third part was also another 500-1000 words, depending on the era of the wrestler’s life I was currently in (and whether he was involved in some random, small federation or one of the “big 2” at the time). There were random columns through the remainder of my run that were nothing but the third section, and those were the highest read columns I ever wrote.

Unfortunately, those columns are not available on that website any longer… not only have they drastically redesigned, they apparently dumped their historical information (I checked), so most of what is on that site now is either new or just plain “in the now.”

If you’ve been paying attention and haven’t gotten distracted by my recounting of my wrestling column, you may have figured out that I am thinking of doing that with this column (or a brand new one). I would write about a topic that relates to the website (like the Emerald Specter column you are currently reading), include the SpecterFit column that I have wanted to relaunch (which wouldn’t always be long enough to warrant a full column, so this new format would fit much nicer into what I’m looking to accomplish), and there are other columns that I wanted to resurrect as well (Storytelling Specter, Game Specter, UFC Specter, Footie Specter, Chess Specter, Ingress Intel, Fantasy Football Specter, and Specter Who) that can be included as pieces or rotating pieces in the final column.

Everything on this site is in a constant state of change. I am adapting as I go and rather than wipe the site and reboot, I want to show a progression of where I came from to where I am at, currently. This column will reflect that.

Starting with Emerald Specter 50, the column will be rebranded slightly with a name that will encompass more about what is going on with the site as a whole (including all the sections I mentioned). I don’t have a name picked out at the moment, but it’ll be something similar (and expanded)… something like Tales from the Emerald Specter, Wrath of the Emerald Specter, Welcome to the Specterverse, Journal of Emerald Specter.com, or something along those lines… the numbering won’t be reset and we will see if that works to move into the future.

I’d love to hear feedback… @EmeraldSpecter on both Instagram and Twitter, email me at emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com, or simply submit a comment on this column.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week for the grand opening of the new column.