Life happens. Spring came and with it came the thaw. Like the ice breaking on the river, small events happened one after another, and before I knew it, I was swept into real life off my internet chair. I buried my father last October and was behind on rent for some months. God bless my landlord for his patience and kindness. Winter was a gray haze of overtime and my car’s engine burned out on Valentine’s Day 2016. Life is a free-fall in which things will get ripped apart like space shuttle Colombia disintegrating on re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. I used to have a great roadster. It lived long past the designed obsolescence, planned for it by the GM, until it literally started falling apart at the seams and I couldn’t find the spare parts to maintain it.
I got a new awesome vehicle. I can’t quite classify it. Teal Ruby was my Roadster. This one is my Little Two Scoop. Only one air intake, actually, to feed the turbo. Not quite little, but compact as SUV’s go, a 2006 Subaru Forester XT, police uniform dark blue in color. Its turbo engine and the glass roof that it has for a Sun Roof (or Moon Roof or whatever) were selling points for me. I rode the Greyhound bus up north for a few hours to upstate New York to pick up my new car. Paid for it outright from my savings, no car payments to speak of. That was November 2014. The car had miles on it and its 4 cylinder turbocharged engine eats gas like my old Roadster that had the biggest V-6 engine the GM manufactured at the time when the car rolled off the assembly line in 1996. Two Scoop has more horsepower than the GM Roadster, and it is all torque and speed. All wheel drive and better ground clearance. I guess this be my scout car. And so, this thing needed an engine job.
The engine started overheating and my very experienced mechanic could not diagnose it in time – head gasket was failing and leaking compression gas into the engine water jacket, causing sporadic overheating. Ultimately, the engine block warped and seized thanks to overheating on one extraordinarily cold day in February. I took it to technicians at the Ramsey Subaru dealership in New Jersey for their expertise and for a loaner car that they can provide. I was ripped off by the tow truck company servicing the supposed AAA free tow, shame on the AAA incompetent road service operators who would not back me up and made me pay the driver $100 for the $64 dollars in tolls that it took to get me to the Subaru dealership. But, the car was fixed over a period of six weeks, and I was not without wheels. The costs threw me in the poor house, but I was able to get in debt to pay for the engine job.
When I bought the car, I foresaw the major systems on it failing and invested in a service contract, for all a service contract is worth on a used vehicle with over 100,000 miles. The company came through, and made a partial payment. It was a good return on my investment and made the repair affordable for me. I would not have been able to raise the full amount to cover the cost of repairs otherwise.
If I am to play a D&D character, I would not want to be a Dwarf, a human Ranger or a Druid. Real life being what it is, I would most likely wind up a Half-Orc (or a Bugbear) with brains. In Midlands, Orcs are pig-faced, and Bugbears have Ursine relatives. My more innocent and better half is basically a Malloy from Brikleberry, so that theme is prevalent in Brooser’s World, but anyway, even though I am not keen on Dwarves, I have a Dwarven outlook on life – There is no luck in my universe. Everything will go wrong and the point of all planning is to minimize loss and amortize damage. Every operation is an exercise in controlled attrition. Win or loss is determined by whether or not the damage and losses exceed the damage that was anticipated and planned for.
Spring crept up unseen and things started improving gradually. During the weekend of beer, movies, and board games I was asked by a friend to start running a D&D game again, and then my other set of friends wanted the same over a game of Scrabble. It was going to be a generic game, just some modules, but then I felt the call of Midlands and started work on the campaign again.
Another thing that happened, was that they opened a new LA Fitness gym practically across the highway from where I live. Keep in mind, that this is a stretch of the roads, where people drive like ass-holes, literally. You try to cross this stretch of highway across the urban no-man’s land, vacant lots and flood plains overgrown with sparse vegetation. You look at the driver behind the wheel, and it speeds up as if to run you over or discourage crossing before it goes past you. Other than that, a pleasant 16-minute walk or a two-minute drive (literally), if no traffic. This too, has crept unseen and accidentally. See, I don’t trust my checking account to gyms and gym’s contracts, but I participate in a program with my health insurance, that lets me go to any gym in their network. They dragged their feet for about six months, or, correction, nobody was running with the ball. One fine spring day I called up the offices to see why they could register the gym that I wanted to be in the network. Stayed on the phoned for three hours or so, made additional phone calls, but in the end of that afternoon, I got the gym and I started going the next day.
The consequences of that day on the phone were more profound than I thought. I am essentially doing triathlon training, I am a six day cycle and it takes me 2 – 2 ½ hours to get through the routine. Now I am juggling overtime and gym, and somehow D&D got sucked into the routine as well. Before you know it, I ran two game sessions with my local friends, and I got a session with the other group over the Memorial Day weekend. I am running Castle Caldwell with the local group and will run B8, journey to the rock over the upcoming weekend. Both are written into my midlands settings and NPC’s modified for local flavor.
Somehow, in between all this, I got a few interesting D&D projects going. First, I decided to write a Midlands Gazetteer and outline the flow of the campaign. I read the Grand Duchy of Karameikos Gazetteer to become familiar with a Gazetteer structure, and will review it later. I also read the mega-module B1-9 series, because they have an “adventure flowchart”, a rudimentary structure to be sure, but a good starting point. The second project essentially involves consolidating all of D&D text from the first White Box Booklets, through Moldway and Mentzger colored boxed sets, and core AD&D Books that were written by Gygax. It is a journey of discovery. I am working on two projects. The first one is the Compiled Monster List. I got a spreadsheet going, that lists every monster listed in the OD&D and B,E,C,M sets as well as Monster Manual, MM2 and Fiend Folio, all first edition. I keep track of where each monster appeared first and will see which if any ideas were lost by the wayside. Eventually, I will populate the Spreadsheet with the pertinent information such as the creature type, level, and areas it inhabits. Then I will drop it into an Access Database, and will be able to do searches to select my special monsters – I need the plains dwelling humanoid levels 2-3, and see what comes up. Every creature that has ever been invented for the AD&D game will come up.
The second project I am working on is the Dungeon Design Document. I love the Dungeon Master’s dungeon adventure writing section, Moldway Basic rulebook Section 8. I also have Gygax’s DMG appendices on the same topic, similar, but not the same. Moldway better organized it, but it lost the level of the descriptive detail. Normally, I scan the dungeon module, convert it into a word file, and edit it to write the generic adventure into Midlands. In case of dungeon design, it is a labor of love, and I type the relevant sections of text into the document by hand. I am scouring the Holmes Basic set, all the other sets and the Core Books for relevant tidbits of information, to see how it changed and what not as it migrated from one version of the game into another.
Some people study the Bible or other religious scriptures. Some people read up on String Theories and subatomic particles. My text, my passion, is Dungeons and Dragons.