Tag Archives: Journal of the 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.

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.