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Paul Mitchener
Trust me, I'm a mathematician.
Trust me, I'm a mathematician.

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If anyone is interested, the story so far of the Darkening of Mirkwood-inspired game I'm running.

Autumn 2947: The Company sets out from Dale, following King Bard's mission of spreading the word of the Council of the North next Autumn. Crossing Mirkwood, they learn the truth about Mogdred from a mad hermit. By his old name, Ingold, Mogdred was the former fiance of Aeldra the Kind, one of the Company.

The Company spend winter in the Beorning lands before travelling to the Woodsman lands in spring.

Spring 2948: The Company tells Ingomer, chieftain of the Woodsmen, the truth about Mogdred; Ingold was his son. They then travel into the forest to confront Mogdred. Aeldra the Kind forces a realisation of who he was, and his old values in a one on one fight. There is a small glimmer of hope for his redemption.

Mogdred leads his men to fight orcs in Mirkwood, driving them out from the nearby area.

Mogdred attends the Council of the Woodsmen, and the Company convinces the sceptical Woodsmen to accept him as one of their number, and Mogdred's fortress at Tyrant's Hill as one of the Woodsmen holdings.

Summer 2948: The Company travel the old dwarf road through Mirkwood, and exorcise the Beacon Tower of its ghosts, retrieving the staff of the Roadwarden. Bofri the dwarf begins his work on restoring the dwarf road.

Autumn 2948: The Company cross Mirkwood, encountering the great spider Tauler, child of Ungoliant. They discover the East Bight is beset by Barrow Wights, and the lord of the East Bight, Ceawin the Generous, under the mental thrall of one of the Nazgul. They help him break free.

King Bard's Great Council of the North discusses affairs of the free northern kingdoms, possible threats, and renews bonds of friendship between Dale, the Lonely Mountain, the Woodsmen, the Wood Elves, and the Beornings. The dwarf Nali presents King Dain of the dwarves with the Staff of the Roadwarden to give to Bofri.

The Company send word to the wizard Radagast about the Nazgul and the Barrow Wights, and talk to the Council of the North. They are advised that to defeat the Barrow Wights, they must find the barrow of their chief, and expose it to the sun. Radagast finds the location of the barrow the Company seeks, and leaves to consult with the wizard Saruman about the Nazgul.

The chief of the elven king's hunters, Ruithel, goes missing seeking Tauler.

Winter 2948/49: Mogdred's forces defeat an attack by orcs on the southern flank of the Woodsmen realm. Viglunding raiders attack Beorn's lands, capturing slaves and burning the Elfwood, taking control of the western end of the elf path through Mirkwood.

Spring 2949: The Company bargain for the release of Ruithel from dwarves exiled from the Grey Mountains. They gain forces from the Woodsmen, and 50 elven archers for the Beornings to attack the Viglundings.

Summer 2949: The Company goes to Viglund lands to rescue the slaves taken prisoner- including Rathar's associate Gisalric, and Frar the Beardless, chieftain of the dwarf exiles. The Beornings then go to war. Rathar kills the Viglunding chief, Viglund, in single combat. The Viglundings will no more be a threat, their very name to be forgotten.

The Company decides to travel to the East Bight in spring to deal with the Wights. Perhaps they will find a group to journey with then (which they won't in the Autumn), and not have a tough time crossing Mirkwood again.

Winter 2949/2950: Some people have dark dreams. The Dark Lord Sauron has risen again in Mordor.

I'm uncannily excited about being invited to a podcast to talk about Ursula Le Guin.

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Age of Anarchy: Less than 48 hours to go, and the final chance to back!

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Age of Anarchy: Less than 48 hours to go, and the final chance to back!

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Sometimes when researching historical material, I get interestingly distracted. In this case by a bandit and self-proclaimed "messiah" in 12th century Brittany.

Sometimes settings in RPGs feel incomplete. I truly don't want every location and NPC detailed; that also potentially drives me crazy.

But I do want details on at least some locations, if only a couple of paragraphs. Don't tell just tell me a land is full of people being preyed upon by horrors. Give me a village and the horrors menacing it, and how the people there act. Don't just tell me a land has universities with researchers who delve into forbidden secrets of alchemy. Give me details on one of those universities.

And there's more to RPG settings than cultural notes. Don't just give me general details of a culture; give me an NPC who embodies some of those cultural traits, or who acts against type and how those around them treat this. I don't want loads. I don't even necessarily want stat blocks. But give me some examples.

(This rant is brought to you by 7th Sea second edition, with no prior exposure. But it's far from the only example. Some people just don't know how to write setting material designed to please me.)

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How to keep everyone happy with your plus one sharing. For the record, whether I like it or not depends on what people plus one. Generally I'd sooner not see it (to share an article or post, share it rather than plus one it!) but it's actually not a big deal to me either way and I have sometimes come across good stuff with plus one shares.
How to make your +1s only visible to people who want to see them.

* I made a Circle called "Plussers".
* I set Who can see your "+1s on posts" activity? to Custom and selected only the Plussers Circle.

The upshot is, people will only see my +1s if they are in my opt-in Plussers Circle. Currently only +Paul Beakley is there because I know he likes to see plus-ones. If you're like Paul and me, and enjoy the random serendipitous posts that sometimes get plussed but not shared, and which you otherwise might not have seen, let me know so I can make you a Plusser too! *

Personally I like the variety (most of the time), but I can see how it can be annoying. I've been thinking about it lately because I want to help spread content, but I don't want to annoy people. I was thinking it would be ideal if the feature was opt-in for the viewers rather than opt-out for the broadcasters, and I'm hoping this might be a way to achieve that.

If my unwanted +1s still show up in your feed, let me know and I'll see if I can figure out what's going on.

*I realise that "Plusser" is also a term for "one who uses G+", but meh. If you make a similar circle, you can call it whatever you like.

Books read in January:

(1) The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien): I thought it time for a reread of this beauty. Even as a Tolkien nut, I'm not sure how to categorise it still. Invented myth and mounting tragedy, and as wonderful as ever.

(2) The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 (Chris Wickham). A broad yet detailed overview of Europe (including Byzantium, with necessary diversions further east) during the dark ages. It's beautiful, thorough, and rigorous, and extremely dense. Highly recommended if you know something of the history already, though not for a first excursion.

(3) Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Jonathan Howard). A comic novel with a horror theme. I liked parts of this immensely, though the start was very clunky. But once the silly tone at the start died down and the book seemed to know what it was doing, it was rather good and entertaining. A fun read.

(4) Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden (Jack Vance). I went into this book expecting historical fantasy. What I got was closer to high fantasy, though with plenty of dismal political notes, and as fine a depiction of the Fae as I've ever come across in a novel. One comment is that there's a definite note of cruelty, and unfairness, in the story, with some very grim events. Still, it's something very special, and I will be reading the other Lyonesse books.

And as a bonus...short stories!

(A) Down on the Farm (Charles Stross). A short story in the Laundry series of the civil service battling a Lovecraftian cosmos. This was fun but without the room to breathe of the novels felt a bit gimmicky.

(B) The Mercy We Make (+Michael Miller ). The author sent me this short story after my ramblings about what I see as the shortcomings of swords and sorcery fiction (I have a really conflicted relationship with it. I like some fun pulpy stuff but I can't stand the "classics" of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs).

Anyway, this was fun, with a nice dose of black humour (a necessary ingredient in my view) which didn't overwhelm it, and fun concepts in the two halves of the story. I owe Michael some proper feedback so I won't say too much more here.

I'm feeling the urge to broaden my bread making. Does anyone who wants to talk to me have any experience with making sourdough bread and starters? Any handy tips?

I'm going to tag in +Julian Hayley​​, +Guy Milner​​, +Jeremiah Burns​​, +Cat Tobin​​, and +Becky Annison​​ as prime suspects and potentially interested parties.

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Age of Anarchy is almost funded. Only $84 to go!

Today, an update involving an example of play over several game sessions and how a Patron might develop.
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