• Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 – Portals – Week 1

    Day 1 The quad landed in the courtyard of what I would have guessed was an old British castle back home, but here it was somewhere in what would have been upstate New York. As the engines whined down I could hear the other quad coming in behind us as well as some music blaring from somewhere in the castle. I guess the weird silence here got to everyone. I adjusted my dust mask as the pilot popped the canopy. She was a skinny black woman who had spent the entire trip with a pair of earbuds plugged into her ears, nodding along with something playing on an archaic iPod. I had talked to her long enough to learn that her name was Dierdra but that was about it, After that I had done nothing but stare out at the dust-covered landscape as we flew the several hours north towards the site, over surprisingly intact cities sitting alone and uninhabited amidst empty stretches of blowing dust. Still nodding to the music, she pointed towards an entrance to one side of the courtyard where several people were exiting and walking towards us. “Thanks for the lift!” I said. I’m not sure she heard me. She was already engaged with dragging a charging cable over from the solar array back to the quad. I grabbed my pack from behind the seat, wincing as I did. My muscles had cramped up during the several hours in the quad after all the work I

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  • One Thing Left to Do

    The pounding on the hatch had stopped. I hoped that the rest of the crew had given up, or that whatever was happening to them had completed and they were no longer interested in getting in. Then a bright spot appeared above the door. Apparently there was another cutter on board somewhere and they were now cutting through the door I had welded shut. “What are we going to do!”, Anna shouted again. She had been repeating the same question over and over for the past hour. I was getting tired of hearing it. I turned away from the door to look at her. The infection, or whatever it was, was spreading. Her left arm where she had been bitten was now unrecognizable as a human’s. Longer, thinner and with green scales covering it. Claws on her fingertips. I noticed the the greenish coloration of her face, the first scales starting to appear on her neck. Her eyes had turned yellow and a bulge had appeared at the base of her spine. I didn’t know how long she would last. I looked down at my own hand. It too was scaly, the tips of my fingers protruding claws. And I could now hear it in the back of my mind. Whispering. “Relax, it was saying. “Let it happen. Everything will be fine. No more pain. No more confusion. No more worry. Just relax. I shook it off. “We need to blow the drive.” I said. “What!” she turned to me,

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  • Loophole

    I had just come in from the garage carrying the grocery bag when I saw him. “Sorry Doctor.” he said, pointing what looked like a gun made out of glass at me. “I can’t let this happen.” He squeezed the grip. Nothing happened. I sighed and stepped around him into the kitchen, putting the bag on the counter. He looked at the gun then pointed and squeezed it at me again. More nothing happened. He yelled in frustration and threw the gun at me. He missed and the gun bounced off the side of the refrigerator. “Watch it!” I said, getting annoyed. “You could break something.” He yelled again and charged at me but tripped over the leg of a chair. He hit the ground hard and lay there unmoving. I sighed again and started putting the groceries away. Some minutes later I had finished and was looking in the back of the refrigerator to see if I had any beer left when I heard him groan. I looked over to see him push himself up into a sitting position. He looked around and saw me then staggered to his feet. “How?” he asked finally. “What did you do?” “Nothing.” I said, popping the tab on the beer. “No need to. I figured that out a while back.” He paused. “What do you mean?” I leaned back against the counter. “Who do you think I am?” I asked him. That seemed to startle him. “You’re Henry Armstrong, right? The physicist?”

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  • The PaleoGamer Plays: The Longest Journey – Part 12

    April returns to Marcuria to clean up some loose ends; demonstrating to Captain Nebevay that she has restored the wind, finding navigator Tun Liac for the ship and getting herself fired from working for the map merchant. Then she has a conversation with Vestrum Tobias where he tells her she may be the next Guardian. Oh, and by the way, an army is about to invade. Good thing we’re leaving for Ailias. Too bad April is seasick. The latest episode of The Longest Journey.

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  • Fear of the Unknown

    I’m setting up to run some Delta Green this weekend and while pulling some books off the shelf noticed the Trail of Cthulhu, Fear Itself, Night’s Black Agents and The Esoterrorist sitting next to my Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green and thought briefly why even though I have the books (and love a lot of the scenarios that have been written for them) I’ve never been tempted to run one of them instead of Call or Delta. Then I realized that it has to do with Fear, and its relatives Uncertainty and Doubt. The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown — H. P. Lovecraft – Supernatural Horror in Literature Trail and its sister games are all based on the Gumshoe system, the central premise of which is “the players always get the clues they need to proceed”. The rules were actually created in response to a problem in other games where the players could fail their rolls, miss important clues and not know how to proceed. For example, all the players in a Call of Cthulhu scenario could fail their Spot Hidden roll, preventing them from finding the essential clue and thus progressing with the scenario. The Gumshoe system avoids that by insuring the players always get the clue. If the characters have the proper skills (and the character design rules are set up so that the players work together to make sure the

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  • The PaleoGamer Plays: The Longest Journey – Part 11

    April finds the castle of the mad alchemist Rupert Klacks and gains entry via strategic use of hand lotion. She then negotiates a maze, discovers other uses for mathematics, teaches herself alchemy, reveals that classic Star Trek is still popular in the 23rd century and, oh yes, restores the wind with a bit of help from Crow. Yet one more step on The Longest Journey.

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  • The PaleoGamer Plays: The Precursors – Part 1

    The worst FPS player in the world takes on the game The Precursors. Watch Treece Crichton crash his starship, get his space marine colleagues killed by acid-spitting plants, make friends with the Empire by killing bugs then no longer be friends after playing tag with a rocket launcher, run from a giant robot then find out he’s in the Matrix and he’s the One. Or something. Welcome to The Precursors!

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  • Review – Afterfall: Insanity Edition

    In my continuing quest to clear The Pile™ this time around I played Afterfall: Insanity, a post-apocalyptic FPS from Polish developer Intoxicate Studios. It’s a game I wanted to like but in the end I felt it fell a bit short. Now stop me if you’ve heard this one. There was a global nuclear war and the only survivors were those who were able to get into one of a few underground vaults. People have lived for years in these vaults under the control of a general overseer, but now problems are appearing and one person must go up against the General in order to protect the vault. Or not. In Afterfall you play Dr. Albert Tokaj, the psychologist for the vault Glory. The inhabitants of Glory think they are the last survivors of the human race and they have been living here for years, long enough that Tokaj is seeing more and more cases of what he calls “Confinement Syndrome” and the number of patients he is having to treat are increasing. So much so that he even falls asleep during one session. Then he is sent by the General running Glory with a team to investigate a problem on a lower level. He gets there to find that a plague of some kind is breaking out. People are becoming mindlessly violent and attacking one another and even mutating into horrible creatures. Tokaj comes to discover that someone is behind the plague and violence but then finds that he

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  • The PaleoGamer Plays: The Longest Journey – Part 10

    April heads deeper into the forests north of Marcuria, makes contact with the Bandu and falls into a trap so obvious even Admiral Ackbar is facepalming. She also discusses eating birds with a talking bird, has an argument with herself and, oh yeah, finds the first part of the Guardian’s disc. Another day on The Longest Journey.

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  • Review – The Bureau: X-Com Declassified

    OK, I just finished this one. I don’t normally negatively review games as I finish them (because I usually just give up before finishing) but I wanted to talk about this one. Because by Cthulhu I hated it. I love any number of horribly broken games. I give a pass on any number of things as long as I am entertained. As long as a game has a story I find interesting I’ll put up with whatever janky mechanics you throw at me to get through it. By the end I hated everything about this game. I hated the mechanics. I hated the story. I hated the characters. I hated the world it created. I hated what it did to the X-Com name. I admit using a cheat code to get through the final battle just to see if it managed to redeem itself at the end and it still failed. It was bad. Really bad. Hugely, mindbogglingly bad. Bad beyond all possible conception of badness. OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but f’htagn it wasn’t good! I bought it plus the DLC in the Steam sale and regret it. I’m not even going to try the DLC because I really can’t bring myself to go back into it. Great Cthulhu, where to begin? I’ll start with the story, because that’s why I play games and why I got this one. (And I’m not going to spoiler anything because everyone needs to be warned of this one; it’s spoiled like

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