Tag Archives: Journal of the Emerald Specter

The Specter Show 037: Eraser

An unexpected server issue held this release up, it is corrected now.

Speaking of server issues, DJ discusses the server getting fried on October 1, talking about doing things that should be done rather than talked about, bullet journaling without the RPG, BuJoRPG 2, and a few other things. He even gets off on a tangent and literally gets lost.

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

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Journal of the Emerald Specter 58: Changing the RPG Mentality

I’m going to angle towards writing another single topic column here, I’ve got my topic and I’d like to see where this thing goes. There is possibly a little more at the end but let’s get to the meat of this thing!

Specifically speaking, this one is about roleplaying and roleplaying games. I touched on this in the Specter Show but this is the place I’m going to flesh things out, thinking about exactly what I need to do in order to accomplish what I’m about to explain.

Kevin Couick and I have discussed running roleplaying games before the Greatest Show every week so that we can actually play the games we’re talking about wanting to play but never actually do play. Basically, we’re trying to figure out how to put up or shut up, and I’d rather do the putting up because I think this thing needs to happen.

In a typical gaming session, there is a ton of cross talk, joking around, odd pacing, sometimes there are props, and always a struggle for the game master (GM) to keep the players rolling towards the ultimate goal. Quite often there are also problems like players missing for a session, forcing side quests or just generally playing a different game. With these as the primary hinderances to the cast of the Greatest Show playing an RPG online, it is hard to think we’d be able to come up with a means of getting some gaming in (rather than just talking about all the games we want to play).

Kevin has been reading up on Star Wars: Force and Destiny, using a timeline to choose the era he’d like to run the game in as well as deciding what canon to use as the background. He’d like to see something around the Old Republic era (Sith War type era) and I’m into that as a player. I want to be a Force user in a war time situation where I can explore the gray area of the Force.

I’m exploring running a couple of different things, one being a return to the system that I know the best, being either a Vampire the Masquerade (5th Edition) or Vampire the Requiem (Blood and Smoke)… or starting out in a new system with an excitement that I’ve not felt about a system in a long time, using the Fantasy AGE system (either specifically TitansGrave: Ashes of Valkana or a setting of my own design). In either case (speaking of the broad systems rather than the specific products), I’m going to run something.

This means we need Metal Jesus to run something to be a three person rotation, allowing us options to play. If I had to guess what he’d run, I’m guessing Burning Wheel, which is something I’d be interested in trying. I’m sure he’d be interested in running something, and the rest of us would love to play in that something.

Here is the issue, though: not all of us are present every week for the Greatest Show.

Kevin and I discussed the solution to this on one of our post-show conversations, that’s running episodic stories that may or may not have a longer term arc involved. This would allow us to explain away why one of us is missing without completely ruining what we play. That would mean that the Green Team story I was running would need to be “rejiggered” a bit in order to fit this new format, and that leads to what I wanted to talk about.

My personal storytelling style (in the RPG sense) is epic in scope. I don’t think I’ve ever had a “one shot” or short term story in mind… ever. Thinking episodic, I’d have to make the story into smaller “missions,” allowing for the absence of one of the players and allowing for a larger arc to be referenced for cohesion. This would allow for “seasons,” too, and we could have guest players pop in to play in “character focus” stories, kind of like a real TV show having a character focused episode now and then.

All this use of “episode” allows for another term to get entered into the record: season.

If I run TitansGrave: Ashes of Valkana with the idea that I’m going to have a 13 episode “season one,” that means I can do that and then take a break to become a player for Kevin’s 13 episode “season one” of Star Wars: Force and Destiny. Both of us could then become players for Metal’s 13 episode “season one” of FATE of Us (a use of the FATE system with a random title, no relation to what he’d run).

When we all complete our “season one,” then what? Well, assuming we are the only ones playing/running seasons, then we return to TitansGrave season two, then Star Wars season two, and FATE season two.

Basically, I’m suggesting we become the HBO of RPGs.

Would Bob fit into this rotation? I’d like to think so. I’d see his games being more “one shot” stuff, maybe being more attuned to “feature length” style games, like a two hour one off… or maybe he’d bring in a system and do the 13 episode season and enter the rotation.

This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t try out other systems being thrown into the mix, either. Maybe after Kevin’s season one I run a 13 episode season of Vampire the Requiem before we get to Metal’s FATE of Us. Maybe Metal adds Numenera into the mix after my TitansGrave season. Hell, maybe we even get another new cohost who jumps into the mix with their own game season and we have a bigger option available to play.

The point of this is that we actually get to play the games. But how would the episodes differ and be as streamlined sounding as I make them?

For the explanation, I’ll be the GM of TitansGrave and I’ll have Kevin, Metal, Tricia, and Bob all as players. Each “episode” would have to be far more focused, as GM I would have to design things to not spend 20 minutes hoping the characters uncover that clue that will lead them to the next stage of the story. The clue would just have to be there, obvious, and lead the characters to the end of the episode so that everything is wrapped up at the end of our session. Cross talk and joking around would have to be minimal, as well as everyone being dedicated to being involved in moving the story forward and utilizing randomization minimally. This might all mean we roll dice less, or that we forego the investigation rolls to get the plot moving forward. We would all have to be very focused on moving forward and telling a story, collaboratively, and getting to the point of each episode… because our time is limited.

This type of gaming lends itself to being recorded, minimally edited, and released as either an “actual play” or the events in story format that are based on the “actual play” (that means I’m eliminating the mechanics and only including the actual story elements for the presentation).

Could we all be that focused? Sure. Would it happen right out of the gate? I wouldn’t expect that to be the case but with each of us being supportive, I think we could definitely get really good at playing episodic adventures.

As the GM, how to I cut up my “formerly epic saga” thinking into smaller chunks? For me, personally, that means taking my “designed as an RPG adventure” story and turning it into a TV drama-like format. Kevin is the mage, Metal is the barbarian, Tricia is the cyborg, and Bob is the half breed tank and each of them has a backstory that I can use to jump to when one of them is missing. Maybe Bob’s erratic appearances mean his tank only shows up in these flashback sessions or maybe he just plays the part of the antagonist in these sessions. If Metal is out at a concert or wedding and can’t make the session, maybe that is the session we see his character’s inability to score a ride to the castle comes out and the others complete the quest without him… or maybe we delve into Kevin’s backstory and tell that one instance where he didn’t save his buddy during a battle.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I can think sage length adventure but I need to have consumable chunks that can be wrapped up relatively quickly while still tying into the overall epic in the background. I’ll have to be more prepared for whatever gets thrown my way as well as being able to improvise the story I’m telling based on who shows up for the session.

That is something I’ve never done before.

Another single topic column in the books. I’m hoping this is a possibility for the future and I’d like to think we could include the full Greatest Show roster to be a part of the adventures… and if we trim down our show time for the Greatest Show to an hour rather than two, we have more time to actually plays these games…

Can I entice Bob to show up for regular gaming sessions? That is the question that plagues me at the moment. We shall see.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 57: What Does That Look Like?

I have talked many times about how a chess club that I played in around the fifth grade was the greatest chess memory I had. I have also talked many times about how I would love to recreate that in a more adult manner (by which I mean toned down and changed to actually work for adults). I have also talked many times about how I have tried to start up “online clubs” to get this ball rolling, but now is the time to look at what I’m saying and evaluate.

This column will be mostly, if not entirely, about this recreated chess club.

Part of the reason I’m going to write this is to actually write down what I’m talking about and part of the reason is to show me whether or not this idea will actually work as I envision it. Expect a definitive result when this column is over, because the second part of this is to see if talking the hell out of it will actually show me that I’m completely out in left field with this idea.

Instead of rehashing the story as a whole and then talking about how to adapt that, I’m going to include the snippets of the story in and amongst the rest of the talk. Enough talking about talking about it, let’s just start this shindig.

Chess is a game that is accessible to anyone. As long as you have the basic pieces and a board, you can play the game. Hell, there is even a way to play the game by just using pencils and paper to move your pieces… I’ve even done this myself when a board wasn’t available! What I’m saying is that anyone can learn the basics and play the game.

Those who study the game in detail are the ones who rise above the others.

You can look at me and claim that American football is accessible to everyone. You can say that hockey is available to anyone. Basketball, tennis, and even baseball are all accessible by everyone… supposedly.

Unlike all those sports, chess is available for anyone who puts forward an effort. Those sports? They all require some athletic gifts to rise to any “decent” level. Sports have barriers that genetics can actually block.

Chess does not. If you really apply yourself to the game, you can go from a beginner to a “club strength player,” which has different meanings as far as a rating goes… but the point is, chess is open to anyone who puts forth the effort, regardless of genetics.

When I was taught the game, I fell for every single trick that my teacher wanted to use on those who didn’t know any better. The Scholar’s Mate? Yes. Losing both rooks because I tried to bring them out early? Yes. The queen trap where the opponent gets the queen out early, takes out a ton of important pieces, and really decimates me in the process? Yes, I’ve fallen for it all. I would say we all do, in the beginning.

I would go so far as saying that my rating in the early stages was an average of 600-700, which for anyone who knows would realize that is low. I was ten, so it was acceptable. I kept pushing to figure out how to get better, and that meant playing more games.

What I’m hoping for in this “new age chess club,” which I’l hereafter refer to as the Internet Chess Experience (or ICE for short), is that we bring in people who are interested in learning the game and helping them to build up their playing strength. ICE should be a gateway for anyone wanting to get into chess with a presentation that is more “excitement” than “professional chess.”

Some of the games that were played early on were just between about four or five of us, with two of the players being heads above the others. As someone who was a big fan of the WWE back then, I saw the opportunity to try to convince everyone else that we could structure this like professional wrestling and work some fun into this new game that I learned.

To my surprise, when I brought up the idea of championships, everyone went all in. I wasn’t the only wrestling fan and they all saw that they could have fun doing this, too… so we created a “World Championship” that was won by one of the two strongest players in their initial playoff. I’m going to call this the Gold Championship, because there would be more championships to come.

At the age of ten, as most of us were, we didn’t know about the world of professional chess. We weren’t aware that Garry Kasparov was trouncing the competition in the “real world” as the World Champion, competing in (and dominating) tournaments all over the world. We weren’t even having tournaments, we were just having “single games” against one another.

Our enthusiasm, to read “smack talk matched with a fast paced chess game,” emboldened a few others to join our little group to bring us up to a much deeper level of competition. That influx of new players allowed me to teach someone, take advantage of them in the same ways I was initially prey to, and then help them become a better player in the process.

We had enough new players come in that we created a “secondary championship,” which I’ll call the Silver Championship. The best players would compete for the Gold Championship and the rest of us played for the Silver Championship. Joining the top two players were only a couple more, and even those new “strong players” were a far cry from the playing strength of the two top guys.

Back when this was going on, someone in the WWE who was vying for the World Championship wouldn’t bother with the Intercontinental Championship because they were “above that level.” Those guys who were too strong to play in the “pool” for the Silver Championship didn’t necessarily get much better.

This is where I need to take a sidebar to explain that we didn’t play in tournaments. Yes, I said that already, but that meant we weren’t having multiples of games against the exact same people over and over again. Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Chess Champion, plays his top rated opponents (the ones who would be top contenders for his championship) more than ten times a year. Every year.

Without us in the fifth grade chess club doing tournaments over and over again, we didn’t have that issue. If the top guy, our Gold Champion, wanted to defend his championship, he made a deal with the competitor that would be a challenge and a good match via handshake to compete for a “title defense.”

(Another sidebar, somewhat related to the topic. I’ve avoided using the word “titles” to describe championships because titles in chess refer to something different. Titles are Grandmaster, International Master, FIDE Master, etc. Championships are different. Knowing this, if I slip into using the word “title,” I’m referring to the championship. Americans use the word to describe championships, despite that not being correct. Carry on.)

What I’ve described so far is a two tier system, where the top tier “headline” our little events and the second tier filled out the rest of the event. Our events, by the way, were named in epic fashion and would be promoted by all involved to those who didn’t have a match to be a part of them. Chessmania, Battle on the Board, and Knightmare were just a few of the events that pitted several of us against several of the rest of us.

ICE would have to remove the constant, annual tournaments that pit the same players against each other over and over again. So now, I’ve discussed having single matchups that focus on two players rather than larger tournaments that happen often. I’ve even suggested that ICE use the “two tier” system. Let me elaborate on these points, starting with the tiers.

This ICE idea would need tiers of competition. Because I understand that there is a vast difference between a 1000 rated player and a 1600 rated player, I’m suggesting we have at least four tiers, if not five. The top tier would be the “best of ICE” level, where you’re noticeably stronger than the other tiers and shouldn’t be competing “down to the tiers below.” ICE is about improving as much as spreading the game to others. Using chess terminology (i.e. pieces), the tiers could be King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, and Knight. I only suggest using five tiers because the Pawn level would be the “developmental pool” that doesn’t get to be appearing on events.

Ratings are another thing that would have to disappear. If players see John Doe is 1623 and Joe Smith is 1419, then the expectation is that John Doe will win (definitively). That vast gap means less when players are rated 2400-2700, but one still looks at the ratings expecting the higher rating to win. Spectators who aren’t deeply involved in chess analysis aren’t going to watch a 1600 face off against a 1400 because the 1600 is going to win. The tier system groups up people of a similar strength without broadcasting that their playing strength is “1600.”

Players who “sign on” for an event as competitors are also expected to build the hype for that event. If John Doe and Joe Smith sign up to play each other at Chess Fest ’17, then they should be doing what combat sports do to build that excitement: promotion.

Were you interested in watching Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor box? How about after they started “jawing” at each other in public, boasting, making great claims of superiority, and trying to make their fight the event to end all events in 2017? They promoted the crap out of that thing and as a result got a lot of people to put down $100 to watch the fight.

Back when the fifth grade club was running, and trying to explain the hype machine part of that in the more modern day, I would say it was a combination of professional wrestling and chess. What people read, or heard, was that the games weren’t real and therefore not worth playing. What I actually have as an example now, that works hundreds of times better, is UFC and chess… or poker broadcasting and chess.

Before I get into the angle I’m working here, let me say that taking a current event (like the FIDE World Cup) and presenting it like ESPN or the Travel Channel presents poker events would be a great way to start showing chess off. I’m going to stick with the combat sports analogy, though, as I think that the poker angle relies a lot on the network and commentators to do the hyping where the players, in my ICE example, are the ones responsible.

When the UFC signs two fighters onto one of their events, those fighters do a promotional tour and hype their fight. The UFC puts effort into the hyping as well, but the fighters are really the ones doing the heavy lifting. Each fighter claims superiority, explains how they’ll conquer their opponent, and they do this right up until the fight is over, where the actual winner stands in the Octagon and explains their opponent was a great fighter and they were happy to have fought them.

Why can’t this be a thing in chess?

In ICE, we would hold events like the UFC or professional wrestling. These wouldn’t be tournaments, or at least not all of them would be tournaments. With each tier having a championship, each tier could headline an event in a one versus one style matchup. The rest of the event would be filled with competitors battling other competitors in their tier to try to work their way into a championship match in the future. Everyone on that event card would then do as much hyping as they could to build up the event and bring in potential spectators.

I can already hear the groaning that chess isn’t a spectator sport. I even pointed out how the “poker on TV” system would work great for professional chess currently but isn’t ideal for ICE. This is the part where I tell you that professional, or traditional, chess time controls aren’t a thing in ICE. In ICE, we don’t go any slower than Rapid Chess.

Rapid chess time controls are 15 minutes for the first 40 moves, with 10 seconds per move increments added for each move. This makes a chess game far quicker than a traditional time control and far more interesting to watch. Rapid isn’t even the fastest mode of play I’m suggesting ICE concentrate on, either. I think that Blitz should be the “normal” time control, being a fixed 10 minutes per player (meaning a total of 20 minutes per game). Games would end quicker, require more action in a shorter time, and this is where the spectator part of the sport comes into play.

Draws also happen a lot less often at this level.

So now we have the ICE Chess Fest ’17 event headlined by a “two game match” King Championship by John Doe vs Joe Smith, with several others on the card in various tiers to give as much exposure up and down the ICE organization as possible. Doe and Smith haven’t met yet in ICE, have almost no history against each other, and their ratings aren’t a thing in ICE so we aren’t distracted by a number… the event happens, knowing that the next event is three weeks away and is filled with a whole card of other players in a similar situation.

Having gone this far in the column, does this sound like something that isn’t at least a little appealing?

The last thing I want to address in this column, relating to this ICE idea, is the types of players (both level and personality) that would benefit from this format.

I do not believe that a 2000 rated player or higher would benefit from ICE, as they actually have potentially lucrative careers in the rest of the chess world. That being said, there would be a personality that would also need to be present for this to work, and that would be the extroverted personality. I’m talking about someone, not unlike myself, willing to promote themselves and their playing strength against all comers in an interesting way.

Everyone is a potential member of ICE. If there is a 2000 or above rated player that is interested in joining, I wouldn’t turn them away, but they would have to get used to the style of play ICE would promote. If Doe vs Smith is scheduled in two weeks, those two shouldn’t be playing each other in any public forum before hand (as that would diminish their great collision at the event). Scarcity needs to be manufactured, a little, in order to help build the vision of what I’ve been talking about for more than 2,500 words now.

The idea is to build a place for the rest of us to play, in a larger forum, with our own setting, hyping our own games, and competing with people of a similar strength encouraging us to get better in the process.

If I’m the Bishop Champion, but I’m dominating the division to the point where all of the “best contenders” have already been beaten, then moving into the Rook Championship contention is where my goal should be and would allow those who haven’t had a chance to shine to do so in my absence.

Maybe, just maybe, if you give this proposal a consideration, the idea is worth building upon. Ideally, an event formatted in just this manner would be a good example of what I’m trying to explain and I’m hoping that this lengthy explanation lets you ponder the idea further.

I would love to hear some feedback on this issue, too.

Since I’ve spoken my peace, I’ll leave you with this as the first single topic column since I went to the Journal of the Emerald Specter format… hopefully you enjoyed reading it.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 56: The Big Roundup

What the green hell is going on? Yeah, things aren’t all that terrible but I wanted to have a chance to talk about a lot of things in small chunks that have been happening so that I can roundup everything that needs to be rounded up before moving forward with other stuff.

So, first of all, if you aren’t listening to the Specter Show, you are missing things and that is something you should be listening to… because I am no longer going to cross pollinate information in multiple locations.

I think.

Anyway, no more preamble, let’s get to the topics!The Aki Basho is underway and this is a wacky one. The Wacky Aki is missing a ton of talent and some of the missing talent started the tournament but have dropped out for one reason or another.

Being out due to injury is known as kyujo and the rikishi out on kyujo are as follows (this is not a complete list, just the heavy hitters): Hakuho, Kakuryu, Kisenosato, Takayasu, Terunofuji, and Ura. That is three Yokozuna (of the four), two Ozeki, and the biggest “up and coming” rikishi in the makuuchi division. Some die hard fans are actually thinking this basho isn’t worth watching anymore, just because the names listed up there aren’t in this one…

But there is still a lot going on.

Ura missing is a big hit in my opinion but I’d rather have these guys sit out instead of showing poorly during the basho and getting more injured in the process. With any luck, everyone is back for the November basho and we can see something remarkable.

Harumafuji, the only remaining Yokozuna, has had a hard go of things this basho, but I’m really hoping that he’s going to perform like he did last time the rumor of his forced retirement came out… that was by devastating the competition for the remainder of the basho. It was epic.

Kotoshogiku is also having a decent basho, starting out 4-0 and (as of this writing) failing to win the next two… I’m hoping he pops back up, too, because a basho with Kotoshogiku running on all cylinders is a fun watch.

Where is the serial fiction, DJ?

Well, I made some progress and then I told you about mind mapping… I hope. I decided to use my mind mapper to work up what needs to happen in the “first season,” mapping the whole thing out (not in intricate detail, but the broad strokes) so that I can start writing again from the beginning with some cohesiveness.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about the story, too. Think Game of Thrones, but with a Chinese/Japanese style of setting. Instead of knights (there are knights), you’ll have Samurai and jianghu warriors running about. There are also “mystical creatures” because I have a planet with multiples of species.

If that doesn’t wet your whistle for the project, I guess I’ll just have to get something out (maybe a teaser) sooner rather than later.

Oh, did I mention that I’m going to try to write the bulk of this thing during NaNoWriMo?

Amanda Nunes is still the Women’s Bantamweight Champion and Ronda Rousey has a “big website reveal” coming up. Why do I include these things together? Because I’m a big “lady fights” fan and these are two of the bigger names in the UFC.

Along with that, the Ultimate Fighter is currently doing for Women’s Flyweight Division that they did for the Women’s Strawweight Division: they are holding a season to crown the first ever UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion. With the introduction of the division, there is now a full (and connected” set of divisions for the women to move up and down in (so we can start getting some of the super fights, like the men do from time to time).

Joanna Jedrzejczyk could now move up to Flyweight, with someone like Holly Holm moving down to have a Flyweight super fight. This may not be high on everyone’s list but the more we have the women able to do the same things as the men the better off the UFC is going to be going into the future.

Do I think there should be even heavier divisions? Not a Heavyweight or Middleweight, but I wouldn’t say no to a Lightweight division.

I talked about a comic called The Resistants on the Greatest Show 137, from a creator I met at the Rose City Comic Con in early September. He is Big Blue Comics and I haven’t read the comic yet, I am very interested in getting started.

I mention this because I’ve got a lot of comics that I’ve gotten from comic cons that I haven’t yet read and I really need to make time for that. I also want to read these comics because of the current state of the comic book industry.

So, to summarize that article I linked to, Marvel is under the impression that the comic book reading public has no interest in diversity. Let that sink in for a minute. No diversity requested.

A meeting Marvel held with retailers gave them this impression. The ACTUAL impression that they should have gotten is that they need to stop changing their established properties to women, minorities, and whatnot but rather create new characters to increase diversity. Marvel’s complete tone deafness to this is unbelievable.

I understand that there is a market for Spider-Man. I understand there is a market for Captain America. I understand that there is a market for Thor. What I don’t understand is why Marvel, a giant in the comic book industry owned by a giant conglomerate, can’t realize that simply creating new characters with a more diverse background is the answer to their woes.

The Direct Market has been a terrible thing for the comic book companies. Series are cancelled, relaunched, and rebooted so often that fans have every reason to jump off and never come back. Books like the Walking Dead and Saga are doing great, not because they’re doing anything more complicated than simply pushing forward without trying to “have a new #1” every year.

People don’t want a new #1 so often that they outnumber the highest number of the previous run they collected, they want good ORIGINAL stories with characters that aren’t stale, tied to decades of continuity, and rehashing the same old things.

Get a clue.

I didn’t do what I originally planned to do and make a snippet for every header I currently have… because some of that would be rehashing the same topics I covered in the Specter Show and the Greatest Show.

What I do want to include, though, is that Fire Pro Wrestling World looks so awesome that I may get back into wrestling (at least producing something for the website) because it looks that awesome.

I did some eFeds back in the day, even so far as to compete in eFeds before there was the Internet. Doing a federation using Fire Pro Wrestling World as the engine to tell the stories the way I think that WWE should be doing it: with seasons and more thought put into them.

Time will tell but I think that it is more likely Chikara Pro will be a better business model than the WWE‘s current run.

Thanks for reading.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 55: The Actual Journey

I have returned to talk about a plethora of topics, or at least that is the intention laid out in front of me. I have to touch on certain things, I want to touch on other things, and I am fairly hungry as I write this… so that will be fun. Why does my appetite matter? Well, I can get distracted easily.

What about just getting going with the column? Ok… 

Coming out of the “summer” TV season, I wanted to talk about a few things that my wife and I have been watching as well as what we’re looking forward to getting into for the fall season.

If you aren’t watching GLOW on Netflix, then you’re just plain missing out. One of the best things I’ve enjoyed is, while I never watched GLOW when the company was actively on in the 80s, watching a few episodes and then watching a YouTube video of one of their actually produced events is an eye opening experience. Terrible, but eye opening. I recommend you give GLOW on Netflix a chance, I think that the building of this company is interesting and a great watch.

Game of Thrones season 7 has ended and there is only one season left. If you haven’t watched the latest season, then you’ll want to skip to the next section of this column (or at least the next paragraph). Where we left our characters in the finale, I don’t understand why a little bit of humility on the part of Jon Snow (Aegon Targaryen) will go a long way when he learns who he really is, considering he was “giving the sword” to Daenerys as someone who has “bent the knee,” but actually is the heir to the Iron Throne. I don’t know why lineage matters with all we’ve been through because the removal of the Mad King should have removed the line of succession completely.

Defenders (as well as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) series on Netflix continue to rock. I think Defenders ran a little weird as far as pacing but ended fairly decently. The character of Danny Rand just seems completely out of touch with what actually needs to happen and that is a little disappointing.

Things that are coming back on that I’m amped to get back into: Agents of SHIELD (as well as the Inhumans TV show coming out, too), Star Trek Discovery (which isn’t “coming back,” it’s bringing Star Trek back… and I’m hoping it IS a reboot, because the franchise really needs it), Westworld (well, it’s coming back next year, but I’m still waiting anxiously), and those are just some of the “big shows” making a comeback.

I can’t wait!

The Aki Basho starts on Sunday and since I’ve been following as closely as I have, this will be the first Basho that has the potential to really not be as exciting as the past shows.

Hakuho, the best in the world right now, may not be up to full health… Kisenosato and Kakuryu might be out due to health issues. Ura is in a need to sit out early, and for the love of Pete, that is a lot of the talent to be following sitting out if they either don’t show up or bow out early.

I’ve wondered if Hakuho would retire once he set the all time win record (which he did last Basho) but he appears to be continuing on. He is really going to bury that record, I guess. If he’s healthy enough to keep going, I hope he keeps going, but I am interested in seeing how his absence would be filled once he leaves (as with any top tier competitor in a sport).

Kisenosato and Kakuryu need to rest. I really want to see Kisenosato compete fully healthy because I think he’s the next best thing to Hakuho. Harumafuji has made a statement as of late but if Kisenosato is up and running, I think he’s really the next best thing in modern sumo.

Ura, the “biggest thing since sliced bread” rikishi, also needs to heal up. He popped into the top division and made a big splash and I think he’s honestly going to be an Ozeki a lot faster than we’ve seen in the past, but he needs to be healthy in order to perform. Ishiura is almost as good as Ura but we’ve already seen the holes in his technique, so he has a lot to work on.

All in all, Sunday starts the Basho and I’ll be watching. If I had a means of putting money towards watching this in a high quality, I’d PAY FOR IT, but sumo outside of Japan seems to be nearly impossible to accomplish. Really, though, take my money.

A couple of months ago, I made an offer to my wife that has resulted in my trips to the theater descending exponentially. I ordered to not go to every single Marvel Studios movie (like we had been) and we haven’t been to a movie since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. When Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out on iTunes, I’ll buy it (like I did with every other Marvel Studios “Phase” movie). That will be the first time I see it.

I decided a long time ago that I don’t care about spoilers. Movies, when spoiled, become a “I want to see how they got there” rather than a “I want to see what happens” thing.

More to the point, though, not going to the theater has saved me a sum of money already and looks to be giving me a chance to go to a different type of movie from here on out. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 30th Anniversary theater run is coming up (starting next Sunday) and I am going to see it. I love that movie, I can almost quote the whole thing from start to finish, and it’ll be something that is different than superheroes.

My wife has complained in the past that I choose all the movies, and going to more than just superhero movies is too many times at the theater. She’s now got the chance to name her choices and we’ll see what we end up going to, which so far isn’t anything. I’m sure something will pop up but nothing so far.

Jon Jones loses his championship due to drugs. He comes back, almost fights DC for the belt and gets suspended for drugs. He comes back, beats DC to regain his championship, and gets stripped for drugs.

When is Jones going to get the hint to stop doing drugs? When is the UFC going to stop allowing him back in because he’s always on drugs?

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been longing for a few “lady fights.” UFC can have 7 events completely scheduled out and of the potential 77 fights, they’ve only got 3 lady fights. There are a lot of women on the UFC roster, so why aren’t they fighting more often?

I understand that I’m a rare breed, wanting to see the women fighting where most people just want to watch the men, but for the love of Pete, why have women’s divisions if you aren’t going to have at least 30 fights a year? You’ve got 3 divisions, start ramping UP your women fights instead of “treading water.”

The men’s fights are starting to get “watered down,” so if you’re going to tout them as the main attraction, start giving me bigger matchups. When was the last time the UFC Heavyweight Championship was defended? I can’t even tell you.

I’m going to be podcasting a little about BuJoRPG2 but writing about if more often than not. If you only get your information from one source, it’ll be in written form. I can reach a larger audience that way, though the upcoming Specter Show (episode 32) talks all about BuJoRPG2. Check it out.

I’m going to be out in the open about my developing B2, so hopefully the feedback starts coming to me as I start releasing and developing this further.

Listen to that episode, it’ll explain more and what the plan actually is from here on out.

Serial fiction report: I have started a mind map of what needs to happen.

Wait, what?

A mind map is basically a visual representation of what needs to happen, who is involved, where things are going, and helps cohesively put together the story I’m trying to tell. I have three main characters we’re following, I’ve shifted the focus to different parts of the world (as opposed to being stuck in my initial location, which I completely biffed) and help me plan out the future.

Initially, I had all three of my characters stuck on an island. This time, three of the characters start on the island but two of them immediately move to different areas of the world so I can expand the rest of this world for you. I’ve even done a few more things based on what Game of Thrones did, to properly set you up (as the reader) for what is going to happen down the line.

Yeah, I’m referencing one of the best TV series of our time for my serial fiction.

This mind map is almost complete for “season 1,” then I’ll rewrite episode one and start working my way into the next episodes… which I’ll also be developing “season 2” and expanding the character focus from three to five or six (which will have you going in more directions, learning more about the world, and really getting the gist of what is possible in this series).

I just need to write this damn thing, too. Not having a goal in mind really is what has been holding me up.

There is a podcast that will be created in reference to my Masonic research (no, I am not a Freemason) but it isn’t anywhere near ready, yet. It’ll be a longer form than the Specter Show or Greatest Show, but hopefully you’ll be as interested in it as you are in the other two shows. I also think the show will be monthly, no more often than that, because of the research and write up that needs to go into producing it.

I said I want to write the comic book of my dreams and I’m still not ready to do that. I want to try this mind map serial fiction and if that works I’ll see what I can do with a “second project.”

Thank you for reading and see you next week.

Journal of the Emerald Specter 54: Discoveries and Doubling Down

There are things happening, all the time, on this website, and with myself, that are in motion… almost everything I do is subject to my self-diagnosed ADD, which means occasionally I get distracted by things and then have to refocus my efforts to get back on track.

Oddly enough, the BuJoRPG was supposed to get me back on track and keep me focused, though I seem to have fallen off the wagon harder than I thought and I can’t seem to squeeze out the next version as easily as I’d hoped I would have been able to, so there is a talk I need to have with myself in this column and you can listen/read along.

I’ve started writing the “tutorial” of setting up the BuJoRPG 2 “Character Sheet.” I’m changing how I did things in B1, as I’ve stated before, and B2 is looking good… the problem I’ve run into is what to fill the Character Sheet with (that won’t require constant, or frequent, updating… meaning erasing and rewriting). This isn’t the only problem I’ve hit but it is the biggest one.

If you used B1 and you think that B2 is going to be a smooth transition over, just updating some terminology and moving forward with some modifications, you’d be wrong. I’ve changed some things and how they work, fundamentally, expanding the operations of what B2 can do. Just writing these words has emboldened me to finish up the tutorial and write up what needs to be done in order to release this in the Beta form (currently Version 0.1).

See what writing things down can do for me?

I’ve wanted to include a battle mechanic since the inception of this effort… B1 was going to eventually morph into a different version of what it was, but rather than slowly morph things over time, B2 is going to jump in with both feet. A set of “To Do Lists” will be the battles and there will be Skills you use in order to alter the “drops” of goods and loot. Yes, there will be goods and loot. I need to build the barest bones of the “Skills tree” in order to release the Beta, because I want my Beta testers to be able to suggest improvements or branches to that tree.

Just like the BuJoRPG: Wuxia template for B1, I’m building B2 as the Wuxia template (essentially). This is built around the idea of you being a wandering martial artist, acting as a hero, in a Chinese inspired “Wild West” (the term for this is Jianghu). Nothing will be so difficult with the terminology, though, that you can’t just modify the terms for your own “template,” because I’m not designing templates for B2.

I’m going to finalize the Beta before the end of next week and I hope to have something ready to go to develop. I hope you’re as excited to Beta test as I am to build the finalized version of B2.

I came across a genre of literature yesterday that really took me by surprise. The genre is known as LitRPG, literally meaning Literature Role Playing Game. The genre is about people who log into virtual reality games (which is the overwhelming basis for these novels) and are not able to log out. There are a few pieces of fiction that I can point to that will illustrate examples of what LitRPG actually is… those being Tron (both the original 1984 movie and the Tron: Legacy sequel), Total Recall (the Arnold Schwarzenegger version, as I haven’t seen the Colin Farrell version), Ready Player One (the whole book is about LitRPG), and Armada (the Ernest Cline second novel, similar to Ready Player One). The manga/anime Sword Art Online is also completely a LitRPG thing, so if you’re into anime you can watch that.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the “fantasy” genre (elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, D&D, Pathfinder, etc, etc…) because the genre has literally been done to death. I can’t throw a rock without hitting something or someone that deals with fantasy as a genre. Some will claim that all genres are like this, and they may be right, but I do not personally care for fantasy to the level most others do… unfortunately, the LitRPG genre seems to be dominated by fantasy as the backdrop.

I’ve found a couple of LitRPG audiobooks that I want to listen to, one of them is a fantasy based genre. The other sounds to be more like a “futuristic world” genre. I’m going to give them both a try. I’ll also give them both at least 50% of their content before finalizing a judgment on them.

The reason I bring this up is because when I put together that Tron and Tron: Legacy were essentially LitRPG, I was hit by the realization that a way to resurrect the Tron franchise could be through LitRPG.

Why do you care?

Well, I have a plot mapped out of a world similar to Tron that someone gets involved in, and that world has updated terminology, a similar “visual feel,” and is part of a larger world that would have been in development. The plan was to write this thing up, put it out in the world, and see if Disney wouldn’t be interested in letting people write their franchise as LitRPG (and then taking those stories and adapting a few of them into movies).

I’ve looked into the licensing information for Disney properties and rather than try that route right now, I am toying with the idea of moving forward with my LitRPG idea (adapting my digital world idea into more of a “game” rather than just a vague “world” like Tron).

This is the “distraction” part of my column title.

I’d love to hear some feedback, and yes, I know I’ve got serial fiction in the holding pattern right now, but the idea can be discussed without derailing anything else I’m currently doing. I’d LOVE some discussion on this idea.

Still no game to analyze… I thought I’d have been done with the target game by now but it is still raging on. I also got caught by something I wasn’t expecting in Chess.com’s app, and that is overwhelming me at the moment.

I joined too many tournaments.

In order to play more than a couple of games at a time, I joined a couple of tournaments. Read that to be “2” tournaments. I then went along and found a few tournaments not scheduled to start for months… MONTHS. Well, each and every tournament I joined has started (the ones scheduled way out were started early because all the participants signed up) and I’m currently playing somewhere between 40 and 50 games at the moment. That is way too many.

As a result of this, my rating has been trampolining all over the place as I win and lose in grand fashion to people I should and should not be losing to, as well as defeating a few that I have no business beating. As soon as this levels out, I’m going to make sure that no more tournaments start and the time controls for the ones I sign up for a long (because I have a tournament that I’m in where the time control is 48 hours, and I don’t like making moves that fast).

When things slow down, I’ll be a lot happier, but DAMN… there is way too much at once and that shouldn’t be the case, because I made a plan and that plan was trashed when tournaments started early.

My serial fiction, and a few of my other ideas, keep coming back to one important point about all of them: damn these would look good visually. Yeah, I can’t make full on “movies” with these things but I can damn sure make comics out of them.

I’ve wanted to write/produce comics for as long as I can remember. I originally thought I’d be doing the drawing of someone else’s writing, then I thought I’d be writing someone else’s drawing… and now I realize I’m going to be drawing my own writing.

The serial fiction I’ve created requires a few large pieces of visual information. I have already run into a couple of points in the early stages that inform me that I should have chosen the comics medium in order to tell this story. I think visually and I should have been writing this visually.

This makes me mad.

I’m a self proclaimed “starter,” failing to finish lots of things. The BuJoRPG has been seen through to a plateau and I’m developing that, but other than the odd “small job” here and there, I’ve really been a flake in finishing things. I’d like to turn my serial fiction into comics and I’m afraid for my own sanity that if I do that I’ll have that idea “die on the vine” as well, leaving me with yet another unfinished project. I’m also worried that if I don’t convert the information into comics, the idea will suffer the same fate from the other end.

Decisions.

At the moment, I’m trying very hard to leave things as they are so that I can finish something. I am also very anxious to start making comics, because at the age of 41, if I don’t start this soon, I’ll never make a comic book or graphic novel… ever.

How about this: what if I take a “section” of my serial fiction and create the comic page(s) that would tell the same part of that tale for comparison?

I’ve covered a few things above, some of them relate directly to other ones. I try to do everything I can in a timely and determined manner but life gets in the way.

Two weeks ago, work was my issue in getting things done. I’ve been hurt all this past week and now I’ve got too much damn time on my hands. Wouldn’t this be a benefit to everything else?

My mind works in a weird way. I do things best when I’m under pressure. If my wife leaves the house for a few hours and expects me to clean, I do the best job if I save that cleaning for the last 45 to 60 minutes of her absence. I think she’d agree with you on that, too. Now that I’ve got all kinds of time on my hands, I’ve fell into the other problem that I normally run into: distractions.

My mind wanders, a lot. My attention span can easily be taken from what I need to do by things I find slightly interesting. I don’t let people show me YouTube videos because one turns into two and two turns into seven… by myself, I do that to myself. That happens with webpages, videos, ideas, comics, food, etc.

I need to focus and hopefully I get the B2 thing out of the way to move on to the next project.

The Specter Show 030: March of the Pigs

Foot in a boot from injury? Check. Caught up on all the things that need to be talked about? Check. DJ runs you through some BuJoRPG 2 talk, being injured at work, writing progress, comic books, Specter of the Galaxy, and even more than I’ve already listed. Won’t you join us?

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 #writing #PROChessLeague #SerialFiction #Comicbooks

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.

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!

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.