Work In Progress: FAR WEST

Daily Word Count: 509

Favorite Passage:

With a piercing howl, the locomotive belched smoke and steam that trailed out behind the train, swirling and flowing like a great mane around the head of the cast iron temple-lion that formed the entire front of the engine. The trains of the Western Periphery & Frontier Rail were not the newest machines, nor in the best condition. The flags fluttering from the engine’s wheelhouse were tattered by the wind and faded from perhaps too many runs in the Western sun, and the paint on the passenger and cargo cars was worn and dusty, but the engine was kept in top working order, and the temple-lion figurehead on the prow of the locomotive was free of rust and polished to a dull sheen. The crews of the WP&F traditionally believed that the lion represented the guardian spirit of the train, and like all lions, it was a proud creature, so it was kept in good order, for luck on the journey.

Notes on the Day: Back at work on Far West (in novel form, instead of RPG). Not a lot of new words written (as the Daily Count testifies), but a fairly large chunk of older words deleted or rearranged for later use.

Given the amount of time that has passed since I last stepped into this particular world, I found it easy to get into the mix of wuxia and western — which is a good sign for continued progress. Stay tuned.

Shifting Foci

Out of the office today, getting back to work on the fiction-writing. The release of 4th Edition D&D has given my brain the excuse it needed to shift my priorities, in the name of slowing down Adamant work a bit while I see how the new dynamic shakes out in the market.

Various things, while I clear my head:

More on 4th Edition: On my initial reading, my view was pretty positive. The more I got into it, though, the more things I found about it that bugged me. The biggest culprit so far: the new encounter system. Whereas the ease of coming up with encounters (when compared to 3.X) is nifty, what bugs me is that it sacrifices any sense of narrative sense in favor of setting up the next collection of points for the players to smack. The Monster Manual might as well be called “The Wandering Experience Point Manual.” The new core assumption of encounter groups is the problem.

Take for example, the traditional wildnerness encounter — the Owlbear. According to the entry in the monster manual, a common example encounter featuring this beastie will now feature an owlbear, encountered with two satyrs. Buh? Why would that be? Doesn’t matter, as long as the XPs total up…. on to the next level boss encounter!

Bugs me. At this point, I’m waiting to see the License (which we’re STILL waiting for), to see how much room there will be to improve upon or correct those things about the new game that I find irritating (and which, I suspect, a lot of gamers of a similar age and experience will also find annoying).

Phat Birthday LEWT: Had a pretty good birthday. The choicest bits of loot: Firefly: the Official Companion Volumes One and Two (very cool, featuring the shooting scripts for the entire series); a copy, courtesy of , of the new Mongoose version of Traveller, written by (excellent work!) — based on the classic original Traveller rules system; and the biggie: a black , 160GB iPod classic, as a combined birthday and father’s day present from , The Minion, and the In-Laws. WOW. Room enough on that sucker for my entire music collection, almost 3 times over. WOOT!

Quandry: Comfort or Satisfaction? The question comes up with regards to living arrangements — after our current lease ends (in about another year or so), do we buy a house here in Lawrence, where we’d be comfortable financially…..or do we return to NYC, where we’d really prefer to be, but would be less comfortable financially? Boo.

Fiction: I’m thinking of taking a page from and posting work-in-progress updates on my fiction: Word count, Nifty Thing I Got To Write About, Favorite Turn of Phrase, etc. Not only would it be a way for people to get a peek at the progress (if you’re interested), but even that small degree of “audience” might serve as a prompt to get something done every day.

Speaking of which, back to work.

Neck and Neck!

As we move through the general election, remember that the corporate media has a vested interest in a tight race: It’s dramatic, it’s sexy, and it puts asses in seats — more eyes on the screen, to watch the commercials that the “news” channels show for their sponsors.

The problem is….this isn’t a tight race. At all. And it isn’t likely to be. For historical context — George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 3 percentage points in 2004. At no point in the polling was he more than 6% ahead, and he was never behind.

Here is a look at current projected electoral totals (with links to sources) — the first batch are sites which aggregate state polls (which are often only covered locally, so if you live in NY, for example, you’re unlikely to hear the results of a MO poll)….and then the current projected electoral totals as presented by MSNBC and CNN.

                       Obama  McCain   Net   304    221   Obama +83  300    238   Obama +62

   Real Clear Politics  238    190   Obama +48

   Rasmussen Reports    260    240   Obama +20

   MSNBC                200    200   Tied

   CNN                  190    194   McCain +4

Keep your eyes open, folks.