What’s making me happy this week Sept 1

A look at what’s making me happy this week, and how you can enjoy them, too. You’ll find an archive of my “happy picks” here.

Paper minis for RPGs

Tabletop gaming is my hobby. I’ve been getting together with the same group of people to drink beer and play games twice per week for years. It’s tremendously fun and a fantastic way to socialize, unwind, think and have a great time.

I really enjoy role-playing games like D&D, Fiasco and so many more. I was thrilled when I found Printable Heroes and Stuart Robertson on Patreon. They’re both making gorgeous, printable paper minis for games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder or any other game that uses fantasy minis. Their work is beautiful and I’m very happy to back them.

Plastic and metal minis can be expensive and time-consuming to paint. While I enjoy those more substantial figures very much, there’s something utterly charming about these paper characters.

Here’s a pro tip. Paper is kind of flimsy, so follow these steps for more rugged paper minis:

  1. Cut the image out of paper and use some rubber cement to glue it to a piece of black poster board.
  2. Cut the figure out of the poster board as best you can.
  3. Use a black Sharpie to go over the edges of the cut pasteboard to hide any white.
  4. Use an X-Acto knife to insert the mini’s base into some black foam core board.

Presto! Instant hero (or monster) ready for adventuring.

LeVar Burton Reads

If you haven’t subscribed to this podcast, let me know. I’ll drive to your house, pick up your phone and do it for you.

Every week, LeVar Burton reads a piece of short fiction complete with sound effects and beautiful story-telling skill. Each week I think, “He can’t possibly top last week’s tale,” and then that’s exactly what he does.

The most recent story (as of this writing) is “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu. It’s beautiful and absolutely devastating. If you aren’t crying at the end, you weren’t paying attention.

LeVar brings his acting talent and obvious love of fiction to the show and the result is a podcast you really ought to hear. Goodness, I love it.

La Voz by Delinquent Habits

This should make you want to dance instantly. Pure hip-hop, infectious bass and drums, plus horns! I’ve been listening to this nonstop for a week.

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Dave’s 2016: Board games

“I love board games” is inaccurate because “love” isn’t strong enough a word.

For the past few years, I’ve been getting together with friends every Monday and Thursday night to play tabletop games. Monday is “RPG Night” and Thursday is “Game Night,” where we pull something off the shelves and have at it. It’s my main hobby and I love it.

There’s something about sitting around, laughing, having a couple of beers and playing a game that I truly love. It’s a fantastic way to spend time with friends, make new ones and create lasting stories, especially on RPG night. Like that time with the bear trap, or the grenade in the jail cell. Or the silver letter opener. Trust me, those stories are hilarious.

In 2016 I played a lot of games, and these were some of the standouts.

Concept

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A great party game that’s always good for a few laughs. One person knows a secret word or phrase that he must make there others say. This is done by identifying icons on a board that somehow relate to the target word or saying. You’ve got to get creative and I’ve seen some very clever clue-giving. I’ve witnessed a lot of train wrecks too, and that’s part of the fun.

Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar

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This a worker placement /asset management game that I love to play. It’s got a Mayan calendar theme, so you’ve only got four “seasons” to gather resources, please the gods and earn the most points. Trust me, it’s more fun than it sounds. In fact, this is one game I’m happy to play anytime, over and over. Incidentally, it doesn’t look this nice out of the box. My friend Dave painted this copy, and it’s gorgeous.

A Study in Emerald

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Do you like Neil Gaiman ? Do you like Lovecraftian Elder Gods ? This is the game for you. Close portals and save Earth from insanity-inducing ancient ones. Here’s a little background for you .

Wombat Rescue

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Wombats poop cubes . In this game, you must find the optimal journey between Point A and Point B for your little wombat. How will he find his way back? By pooping, of course. Lay down and follow a clever trial of cube poops.

Ten Candles

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Probably my favorite indie game of 2016, Ten Candles is a nihilist RPG in which all of the characters will die. It’s guaranteed, you won’t survive, don’t try. You will, however, make up a compelling and dark story with your comrades. The mechanic of actually blowing out 10 real candles adds a lot to the tense, somber mood of this very fun game.

There were many, many more of course. These are just highlights. Perhaps I’ll feature RPGs or indie game or something in the future. Until then, pick up anyone of these titles and you’ll have a great time.

daves2016

What’s making me happy this week, Oct. 7

A look at what’s making me happy this week, and how you can enjoy them, too. You’ll find an archive of my “happy picks” here.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

What if Dracula was a bibliophile?

the_historian__19The 2005 debut novel from Elizabeth Kostova is a vampire novel, yes, but it’s not what you’re thinking of. In Kostova’s story, a woman recounts the adventure that her family endured when she was 16, traveling abroad with her academic father. Their journey leads to dusty crypts, ancient cities, family secrets and the fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler. Also, books. Lots and lots of books.

Part detective novel, part travelogue, part adventure story and part gothic horror, The Historian is a book I enjoy very much. It’s creepy without fetishizing blood, like so many vampire stories do.

I re-read The Historian every October to get me in that Halloween mood. It’s ultimately a book about the love of books, and the power of knowledge. Plus there’s cool vampire stuff.

The audiobook is also very well done.

Paper Planes

paperplanes

This one requires a smartphone so grab yours and point it to https://paperplanes.world. This utterly charming little web app has you “fold” a paper airplane and mark it with a “stamp” representing your geographical area. Once that’s done, you tilt your phone to the side and give it a shake to “launch” your paper plane.

The thing is, hundreds of thousands of people are doing this at any given time. So, after you launch your plane you’re given something resembling a butterfly net. Again, wave your phone about to catch one, unfold it, and see where it’s been. Every time someone catches a plane, they add their stamp.

I’ve gotten planes with stamps from Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Johannesburg, South Africa…all over. It’s surprisingly fun.

Ambient 1: Music for Airports

music_for_airportsBrian Eno’s 1978 album of gorgeous, instrumental ambient music sounds like a contemporary indie release. The album was meant to replace what Eno called the “tense” music that’s heard in airport terminals. It was installed at the Marine Air Terminal of New York’s LaGuardia Airport during the 1980s.

The four compositions on this album make perfect backgroud music for quiet, focused work. Seriously, if “instrumental indie” is your thing, this 38-year-old album is for you.

That’s what’s making me happy this week.