Cawnpore and Perseus are available in the Createspace eStore and on where, if you order a physical copy of the books, you get the ebook for free. They are also available as ebooks on every ereader out there.

After three years of focusing on raising my little girl and doing side work as a college prof, my schedule is starting to loosen enough that I’ve turned my attention back to writing. This week, the research and plotting started on the “sequel” (but not really) to Perseus. I’m going to take on Hercules next. (I might go with the proper name, Heracles…)

To keep myself sane while going through the butt tons of mythology connected to the character, I also started research and work on a 1940s/50s spy novel. Also have a few ideas for an urban fantasy/horror book. (Not a big fan of the genre, but the idea’s there…)

So, if I stick to my usual speed of work, I should have at least one of them out in the next year.

I just happened to be doing an update check and saw the new OS x was up this afternoon, so I decided to go ahead and make the jump…

First, download of Yosemite took me about half an hour, install and set-up about the same time. It was very easy, almost effortless. It prompted for the iCloud stuff, but other than that, it transferred my settings, wallpaper, and everything else without a problem. iTunes, of course, “lost” my external drive library, but unlike other iterations of iTunes, it found the library with no issues when i pointed it in the right direction. None of the usual rebuilding the library. It looks like the iTunes on the iPad, which is the say it looks clean and finding material is easier than in old iTunes. I haven’t attempted to sync an iPhone or iPad yet and am dreading it. It looks like you can swap libraries on the fly through the home icon at the top left. I haven’t tried that yet.

Once up and running, it seemed to be running about the same, if not a bit faster on my Late 2010 Air. The fan was coming on a lot at the start, but I think that was Spotlight indexing. It found my external drives and connected almost immediately; Mavericks used to fart around a good long while connecting. The Time Machine connected quicker than usual (but still pretty slowly) and ran a backup while i was typing this.

Other updates came fast and furious while I was experimenting — iWorks was up and running in minutes, with the look of the interface much more iOS, but the functionality seems to be returning to Pages and Keynote. Haven’t tried the other apps, yet. The apps open on the iCloud folder, but if you redirect to something local, the next time you open a new document, it points to the local folder.

The new notifications center is very easy to use, looks nice, and is quickly customizable. Chrome seems to be glacially slow and hitting the CPU hard, but Safari is running quick and smooth; right now, it might be worth swapping and using the baked in browser. The new mail app is a mail app — I use it for the most basic functions, so nothing big to say here. Seashore — my go-to photo manip app still works, but good ol’ Onyx is dead now.

iPhoto is still here, waiting to gum up your photo library and piss you off. Apparently they haven’t sorted the iCloud integration, but I won’t be using that. I don’t have near enough iCloud storage for my picture library.

I made an attempt to do Handoff with my iPhone — no joy. An attempt to send a file failed, as well. The phone and computer don’t seem to want to talk to each other. I suspect my Bluetooth isn’t compatible with the function…couldn’t program a fix for this? Really? Isn’t that half the draw to Yosemite — the ability to move from one device to the next easily?

Look: It’s got the “flatter” look of iOS, but it’s more colorful. I keep hoping for an “aluminum” option to go minimalist in the look of my desktop. The skeumorphics seem to finally have been banished, and good riddance. The new font is very easy to read for my LASIK improved vision (I’m farsighted now.)

Power usage — keep in mind I had a backup running in the background, and had started at about 65% battery, but in the half hour or so since then, I’ve eaten 20% of the battery, tying in Safari, doing a few bits and bobs on the side to experiment with the OS. The first 35% of the battery was doing work in Pages with multiple windows open at the same time. and that was over the course of about 3 hours…about the same as with Mavericks. I figure 7-8 hours usage if you don’t have video or Flash heavy websites eating up your power for my older MacBook Air. About on par with the last two or three iterations of OS X.

So first impressions: It looks nice, has a few very good updates — the notifications center, better connection with external drives, and the functionality is returning to iWorks. iTunes is, for the first time in a decade, not a complete cowpat to deal with. Battery and performance are mostly unchanged. So far, no bugs after five hours with it.

I’d say go for it.

Recently, in our Battlestar Galactica campaign, the characters made the trip to Kobol (the notes on the episode here) in which they “find” the Lady of Kobol, Athena, in addition to the map to Earth. Using her “coffin” — actually a highly sophisticated 3D printer for biotechnology — an injured and dying character was transformed into the Olympian goddess of war.

Genetically-engineered by the TITANs thousands of years ago, the Lords of Kobol had been modeled on the Greek myths of Old Earth. The idea was to capitalize on the archetypes as leaders for the human race that the Titans recreated on Kobol long after destroying the Earth (and those that inhabited it) they were created on.

ATHENA possesses all the “memories” of the stories and myths surrounding her namesake, as well as her various incarnations since she was created by the Titans. These were stored in the genetic code of robust virii that were stored in the Arrow of Apollo after the last living version committed suicide in shame over the Olympians’ inability to protect Mankind from the Blaze, and their own creeping dementia.

She was reactivated when the crew of Galactica found her tomb, and a security program identified them as friendly. She used the body mass of the critically injured Colonel Aeria Evripidi to remake herself. Pressed for time and under attack by Cylon forces, Athena chose not to remake herself, but rather “improve” on Evripidi so that she could be in action as quickly as possible. Once resurrected, she claims her purpose is to aid the Colonials in locating the Earth and the 13th Tribe, but also to get them past the “Guardians of Earth”, as they will know her.

Athena suffered intense pain as the virus used to rewrite Evripidi’s genetic code did its work. She still resembles the woman, although her appearance is expected to change slowly over time, but genetically she is a Lord of Kobol. Athena is preternaturally intelligent, a master of recursive thinking and strategic planning; and physically is strong, fast, and athletic. She possesses many of the memories and skills of Colonel Evripidi, but is a very different creature.

ATTRIBUTES: Agility d8, Strength d8, Vitality d8, Alertness d10, Intelligence d12+d4, Willpower d12; Initiative d8+d10, Life Points **22

ASSETS: **Goddess of War & Wisdom d6 (Adds to Perception-based tests), Immunity to Disease d8, **Physical Exemplar d10 (Adds to all physical tests, Quick Healer d8, So Say We All d6

COMPLICATIONS: Divine Purpose d12, Insatiable Curiosity d6, Multiple Personalities d6, Overconfident d4, Uncanny d4

SKILLS: Artistry d4, Athletics d6, Covert d4, Craft d6, Discipline d6 [Leadership d10], Guns d6, Influence d6, Knowledge d6, Mechanical Engineering d6, Melee Combat d6 [Spear d8], Perception d6 [Tactics d12], Perfrom d4, Pilot d6, Survival d4, Technical Engineering d6, Unarmed Combat d6 [Brawling d8]

AEGIS ARMOR: Move 4W to stun, ignore all stun. Design is lightweight with HUD in helmet.

SPEAR: Damage d6W, Range [thrown] 15 yards [18 for Athena]; Energy Weapon Damage: d10W, Range 200 yards, Ammo unknown

**These Assets are much wider in scope than traditional Cortex Assets to cover the supranatural nature of these creatures. Rather than using the scaling rules from the Cortex Core rulebook, I decided cribbing a page from Cortex Plus might work better here. I was on the fence about adding the Physical Exemplar to the Life Points, but decided to give her the same benefit as Tough d8.

Recall this is a “watered down” version of the original. Pressed for time, instead of remaking herself, Athena used what she could as a framework. We’ve already seen corpses of the Lords or at least their spawn through the campaign. they were often between 6’6″ and 7’2″ tall with muscle and bone mass half again that of a normal person. An actual Lord of Kobol would be (and should be) awe-inspiring to say the least.

A quick look at TV and movies and you might notice something, 1) “It’s amazing how England looks nothing like Southern California”, and 2) it’s always sunny…unless something dramatic is about to happen. It always rains at a funeral. It’s never foggy unless there’s a killer stalking in the mist. Weather can be a very good means to not just create a challenge for your players, or for establishing atmosphere in a scene, but it can also help define the space the players’ characters inhabit.

Example 1: Most folks know Scotland is a rainy place…but as we said in the Army, “It’s one thing to know it’ll suck, and another to feel the suck.” Scotland doesn’t just have rain — it’s got a plethora of ways it can rain. It’s often foggy in the mornings around the resepective firths (bays.) There’s “smir” — that mist that is statically charged so it stick to f@#$%ing everything. Wearing glasses? Good luck seeing. Wanted to check the map on your phone? Say that screen got wet faster than immediately, didn’t it? There’s drizzle. There’s a soft rain. There’s downpours of such astounding frigidity as to take your breath away. Snow. Sleet. And it can go on for longer than Noah was floating about.

As one of my cousins once wrote on Facebook, “I’d go for a walk, but I don’t have a boat.” People don’t do well with things when they’re uncomfotable. Sure, they can ride to the occasion — but cold, wet feet are simply the worst!

How could this affect the characters? When there’s a deluge of freezing cold water, people tend to look down. They tense up. They naturally look for someplace where the air isn’t trying to drown them. That’s a bit of a bitch in a footchase down the shops in Sauchiehall Street, ennit? “Whaddya mean ye lost him?” “Well, sir, it was pissin’ doon and…”

Example 2: What’s a car chase like in the snow?

Example 3: You live in Victorian London — or modern day Shanghai — it doesn’t have to be a dark, smoky night for the “London Fog” of industrial filth to have some kind of an effect. Shame you got all dolled up to meet that important person, but your white shirt is now a sort of grey-yellow when you arrive hoping to make the best impression. Maybe you’ll got allergies. Or asthma. Shame about losing that guy in that footchase on the Bund because you were hacking up a lung from your 400 pack a day habit of just breathing the air. What’s it like to try and finish a fistfight when you’re hacking up a lung from the soot?

Example 4: What about it being sunny and warm all the time? It’s lovely in the Southwestern American desert. Except you get thirsty. And sunstroked in a matter of minutes or an hour. Maybe you were fine when you were out there, but not that you’re indoors and mostly hydrated again, you want to sleep. For a week. It’s a bit hard to concentrate on sorting through those clues when you want to collapse on your desk and sleep. Or you’re getting ready for the Nasty Brothers, of whose kin you just shot saving that Wells Fargo stage, but man! this chair is comfortable!

Example 5: You’re in Houston. Or anywhere along the Alabama to Texas coastline. It’s 100F, somewhere between 100 and 600% humidity, and you’d be drier in the shower. Your clothes stick to you. You feel like you’re breathing sweat and decaying fish soup. You’re not certain if you’ve gone incontinent or that sweat in your underwear. You’re only goal is to get into an air conditioned building that makes the climate something approaching a sauna instead of a credible facsimile of Venus.

Example 6: Speaking of space…what’s it like in a spaceship? They outgas a lot of humidity. The air is nosebleed dry and static electricity is a constant danger. What about the spots where there might be heavy water use? Mold and mildew! Better get cleaning.

Example 7: Low or high gravity. Sci-fi games are good about putting this in there rules sets, but I’ve yet to see anyone do more than lip service to different gravity. Even habituated, it’s a beast to have that chase or fight in half gravity on Mars. Or in a centrifugal gravity torus. You thought that ball was going to fly straight, but look at that! Physics! What about heavy gravity? Suddenly, you’re not a svelte 170 pounds, but 210…your knees and feet hurt all the time. It feels like you’re walking or running uphill, all the time. You’re out of breath, headachy, and a bit tired because your blood isn’t getting to the brain that well.

Creating character for your location doesn’t just make for verisimilitude, but creates the space as an ancillary character. The place becomes important not just to the plot, but something interesting in an of itself. How did Miami become a sort of character in Miami Vice, or Burn Notice? How did Louisiana define True Detective? Making the setting ‘real” can create of love of the place — think about Babylon 5: after five seasons, the space station felt like a real place that you wanted to visit; watching her scuttled is nearly painful.

How would the character of the place play into where players go willingly, or dragged there complaining endlessly? You couldn’t get me to go to Houston with a cattle prod and the promise of a million a year salary…no, wait, that last bit would work. But I’d hate every second of it. I love the desert, but I’m from environs where it’s cold, wet, and dark a third of the year. Move back? Screw that! (But it’s better than Houston.)

Weather or climate — it fells create your setting as much as the look of a place.




via @AdamBalfourLang


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