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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

"If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong."- Arthur C. Clarke

My dear Bagginses and Boffins, Tooks and Brandybucks, Grubbs, Chubbs, Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles and Proudfoots.

Today is my 24th post!

Alas, twenty-four posts is far too short a time to post among such excellent and admirable hobbits. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

I, uh, I h-have things to do. So this won't be too long a post! (Nothing like the previous one, well done if you got through all of that and feel free to comment)

So, yesterday I got back from the windy city. This was my last trip while in the U.S. (apart from the trip home, but I'm not counting that one). Unfortunately I didn't actually get to see any of Chicago itself, I did get to spend lots of time at Argonne National Lab (after they eventually decided to let a quite-frankly dangerous alien, possible criminal in). We were part of an experiment at ATLAS, since this isn't really meant to be a science blog I'll just say it was a fast timing experiment using some LaBr detectors, to study lifetimes in 181Au, people can read up more on that with the fantasticness that is google, or Phys Rev.

I spent most of the time there finishing off bits of my paper and got to play small amounts of the new Old Republic game as well as good old Skyrim! This was really good, kinda glad that I got to take my laptop!

We also managed to get down the pub a few times (definitely enough) for some farwell drinks with Nathan and Volker. Also finished up what was hopefully my last night shift ever on monday morning! Fingers crossed...

Right, so this will be the last blog post which I will be making from here in the U.S. Fortunately for all of you, I will be continuing this blog from the U.K. for those people in NEW England who want to keep up to date on what I am doing in OLD England, (or Wales).
This has been a fantastic year, full of wonderful experiences. I would like to thank pathfinder people again, mainly Ben and David for getting me into rpgs this year. Everyone at the lab, including those who visited and made for some great nights out and helped me along with my project, even if that was just loads of table football (which is what I need to start calling it!) Everyone at Nexus who kept my board gaming at a more than acceptable and generally the American populace for being so very welcoming and friendly. :)

I will miss America, it's wonderful sights and food (Buffolo wings). Looking forward to getting back to England now though. Looking forward to seeing Soph a lot now! Only like 3 days now!
And so,
I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Achievement Unlocked!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

"Life begins at retirement." -Author Unknown

So, not actually the penultimate post people. But plenty of perfect alliteration in this opening prose!

So, it's gonna be back to gaming, more specifically Pathfinder, more specifically the retirement of Bunkle & Trig & Bungo & Morris & Arcadian (I think I remembered Art's character's name!)
So, after a pretty intense couple of months, playing Bunkle Findbiddle Murrik Nacklewinkle Turni (my gnome Barbarian) up to high levels, we were finally ready to face the retirement arc.

Woah Matt.... wait... they don't know about how awesome Bunkle is!
Better tell the story now then! Bunkle up! It's gonna be a long one... hahaha

So Bunkle grew to his ripe age of 136 in the small gnome community of Weltling, near Whistledown. A bit of a trickster, him and his best friend Bleebert were known pranksters about the village, mostly picking on the nearby Goblin population and the townsfolk (think Merry & Pippin). Well eventually things turned ugly, as they always would... they starting trying to out-prank each other... Bunkle was by far the more skilled of the two, getting into far more trouble, and getting his friend into far more trouble. Until... a passing magician came through Weltling, selling scrolls. Bleebert managed to pull a couple of scams to raise the money for a permanency scroll. He slept that night, so that his small amount of Arcane prowess would return (having already used dancing lights as a distraction to steal the gold pouch from Old Margaretta) and then crept into Bunkle's room as he slept, and cast prestidigitation on his hair, turning it white from it's once firey red! He then took out the studied scroll and attempted to cast permanency, making Bunkle believe he was Bleaching. However, Bleebert had very little training in the use of scrolls or the arcane arts, and it backfired! The spell acted as if permanency was cast, but as a curse on Bunkle, not allowing Bleebert to tell him what he had done!

Okay non- pathfinder people, if you're still with me... Bleaching... Basically gnomes in Golarion have to continually be awesome and fun and exciting, else they start "Bleaching". During this process they lose all of the once vibrant color, starting with their hair. This starts the end of a gnome's natural lifespan, and is thus to be greatly avoided!

Hahaha, Bleebert is upset!
So anyway, back to the story! Bunkle awoke and looked into the mirror, to his great shock! He at first did not know for sure that it was an arcane effect or the Bleaching itself. So, assuming it was Bleebert, he went and asked, knowing Bleebert was his friend, and would just laugh and fess-up to the crime, knowing that he had got the better of Bunkle. However, Bleebert was insistant, for days on end, that he had not done as such. So Bunkle fully believed he was Bleaching...

Bunkle knew he had to change his life and make himself far more interesting and fun than he already was being, and thus decided to change his tact. He went back on his previous tricksy ways, and decided to become an adventurer. But, he would need help in this. He managed to obtain some fantastic full-plate from the Armorsmith at the village, including an ornate helmet, to cover his affliction fully, including an intricate set of straps, such that it would never be removed! In preparation, he also took part in a dangerous ritual, suggested by the village Elder, to commune with passed ancestors, which would help him in his troubles. With their help in combat, he would be unstoppable. So, he headed off to the Isle of Kryta, to the Grand Lodge of Absalom, ready to start his new adventuring life, while Bleebert stayed, upset at what he had done to his best friend!

Yeah, something like that!
 His first few adventures with the pathfinder society were not as exciting as he would like. But Bunkle was always able to bring more fun into said adventures, and was more than able to make more danger. Most missions he was sent on ended with his felling several foes in a glorious rampage and then falling to a devious trap or stupid, backstabbing rogues! No honor! He also picked up Draconic to commune with his spirits better, but they still always seemed to make life difficult, fumbling with his items, or  dropping his prized Nodachi (from his missions in Tian Xia) off the side of waterfalls!

(so now we are onto actual gameplay {still with me}) Feel free to go and get a coffee, that's what I'm doing now! See you in a sec!

So, I'm back... You're back, everyone is back for more of Bunkle's story!

Right, so Bunkle met his fair share of awesome characters, such as Evedine and Azlebern on his adventuring, but none stood out to him more than Trig... Ah Trig. Also a gnome, also wearing full-plate, she was the most attractive and charming thing Bunkle had ever met in his entire life! Every time he adventured with her, it was amazing fun! He was also able to slice his way to glorious victories, against titanic foes and then not be knocked out in return! This allowed him to enjoy the thrill of more combats, instead of the glory of 12 seconds of combat! However, Bunkle was far too shy to ever ask Trig if she was interested, so he went to Azlebern, who now owned them both, and asked for his advice. Azlebern was slightly confused about this, but seemed fine with the idea of Trig and Bunkle, despite some mis-communication...

Sad part...

So Trig and Bunkle were sent by the Pathfinder society, with their friends, Maria, Daven and Morris (the crazy Pyromaniac gnome) on a mission to return some artifacts. They were given very little directions and thus had to try and track down the thieves... which no-one was very good at... so it was a fairly dull tracking through the woods, which Bunkle and Trig attempted to make more fun by jousting with trees and playing with dancing lights... However, eventually Bunkle had had enough and jumped into a sinister looking section of canal. Of course, he was instantly jumped by giant slug monsters and epic combat began, with Trig jumping straight in after him.
After a glorious victory over the slug creatures, Bunkle and Trig were hoisted out of the canal. Bunkle looked onto the shore to see a beautiful, shiny necklace, which he thought would look amazing on Trig, but he was too shy, so yelled "MINE" and put it on!
The necklace started immediately chocking him, as Trig and the rest of the party went through wand after wand of cure light wounds, wracking their memories and knowledge, thinking of a way to get the necklace off. Eventually Bunkle realized that it was useless, knowing that he would die, he didn't want Trig to see the life drain from his eyes, the very thing he became a pathfinder to avoid. He knew that Trig must first know how he felt, and the truth about him. So, with spirits still swirling around him, he began to unbuckle his helmet...
After the final buckle was undone, Trig wasting the final charge on her second wand of cure light wounds, he pulled his helmet off, Trig & Morris were stunned to see Bunkle to be Bleaching (both failing to spot it as the arcane arts it actually was). Bunkle then spoke 3 simple words, tears streaming down his face, before jumping headfirst, drawing his Tetsubo as he did so, into the murky waters of the canal, knocking himself unconcious with it after he submerged, thus allowing the necklace to finish it's job, killing him before Trig could get to his body...

The three words: "I love you Trig"

Bunkle was only told small amounts of what happened next, since he didn't really want to know what happened while he was dead... suffice to say, Trig carried him to the next place along their voyage, finding a noble centaur cleric, who was able to raise him.

Bunkle and Trig didn't talk about what happened that day for a long time, after Bunkle was brought back, they walked (hand in hand) around the newly found complex for hours, neither knowing what to say, while other party members investigated the missing items, including a demonic jar...

Eventually, they were called upon my the party and some friendly centaurs, including the cleric, as the auction for the stolen items began! As so often happens, things didn't go to plan at all. Some Bard, I forget his name, decided to start using the jar to summon demons from the Abyss. Demons of greater and greater strength began pouring out of the jar. Bunkle forgot his previous troubles and starting sending them back to where they came from, with a roar of "FOR TRIG" (which Trig didn't understand as it was in Draconic). Maria was shooting the jar consistantly, releasing bullet after bullet from her pistol, Daven summoned creatures from heaven itself to combat their opposites, flying over Bunkle's head and shooting into the fray. While all this time, a Balor was slowly materializing from it's own stream out of the jar.

 Bunkle finished off another great daemon, in a Death or Glory move, sliding between it's legs to cut up at it's torso, he turned, seeing the great deamon, now flying over the other side of the room, he jumped into combat with a new grace and speed, flashing his blade across it's face, making it snarl back at him with hatred. But a glimmer of silver caught his eye. Looking around as quickly as he dared, he saw Trig, now walking on the ceiling had drawn a ring, and thrown it down to him, it now lay in the ground at his feet. Bunkle didn't even think about the daemon as he scrambled to pick it up, it meaning more to him than anything he had ever received... Trig liked him... possibly even loved him too. As he grabbed he ring, the daemon's claws raked across his back, the tainted touch burning him greatly. He put it on, feeling a great connection to Trig, who dropped to the floor next to him. They took one look at each other, knowing what must be done, and began combat with the massive hulking daemon.

Bunkle finished the daemon, severing down one of it's shoulders, just as it was raking it's great talons towards his face, in a deadly maneuver. The daemon feel to the floor as Bunkle turned to face his new adversary, looking out of the window at the partially formed Balor. Bunkle began sprinting towards to window, Nodachi drawn, ready to hurl himself out of the window, slicing at the Balor as he did so, as a Bullet, aimed at the cracked jar whistled past his shoulder. The bullet split the jar in two, sucking the Balor with a howl back into the jar, banishing it from this realm. Victory was theirs!

Seemed appropriate...
Do I still have everyone? Sorry if it's a bit long...

 So, Bunkle and Trig's adventure continued in a similar fashion, after many great battles and continuous gnomish sqabbles, probably originating from who would pay for his ressurection. They went on, neither knowing what was meant by the ring's they shared, Bunkle was hoping it was a engagement ring, but no confirmation was given. That is, until one of their great adventuring companions, Bungo the eigthling, (8inch tall, random coloured halfling, so charismatic that he seems to attracts followers of every description, everyone wants to be his friend!)

So Trig, Bunkle, Bungo and some new friends, were on an adventure, saving a gnome village from the possibility of an attack by evil monstrous creatures, orchestrated by a pit fiend, from hell itself! After figuring out that the pit fiend was setting up a final attack on the village from a nearby lake, summoning it and defeating it with the use of several stone tablets they had bargained for that very day.
Just before flying out over the lack, Bungo asked the question: "So, are you two engaged or not?"
Bungo:"Well, it's about time you two got your acts together about it, I heard about your "engagment", and it would seem very fitting if I were to marry you two right here, in the presence of this Pit Fiend, as we defeat it"
Bunkle: " .... thank you Bungo"
Trig: "That would be awesome!"
(I don't actually remember exactly what was said, so I may have paraphrased a lot!)

So, ready to initiate combat marriage, Bunkle and Trig, with Bungo and other new friends (the Poppeteeress) flew out over the lake, searching for the Pit fiend, but found them first. 

Reaching out a great hand from under the water, the pit fiend, half water, half devil, grabbed at Bunkle. And so the ceremony began...
First, as Trig unfastened his helmet, Bunkle began slashing at the watery clasping hand, all the time Trig holding on to his shoulders.  Bungo then began the ceremony as Trig and Bunkle's helmets fell into the murky lake below...
The Pit fiend revealed it's massive form, raising out of the lake like a leviathan. It flew up to face Bunkle in combat, each slashing at each other, Bunkle barely able to hear the question asked by Bungo, but he knew the answer. With two great slashes of his sword, he yelled " I DO!" as the beast screamed in agony.
Combat continued, with the strange companion of the new gnome friend slashing into the creature with it's many claws and Maria sending Bullet after Bullet deep into the central mass. Bunkle barely heard Trig repeat his words from previously, due to the amount of excitement and adrenaline coursing through him. A couple more deft swings of his Nodachi, severing several of the viscious talons clean off, the beast appeared weak. Bungo flew next to them, Bunkle also feeling weakened by the force of blows striking him, and Bungo pronounced: "I now declare you, man and wife, you may now kiss the Bride." As Bunkle kissed Trig for the first time, he felt life and stregth return into his body, wounds closed about him, and a final bullet, shot from below erupted the creature, causing it to fall, defeated down into the lake, dead.
Choirs of angels sang about them as fireworks lit up the sky over the lake, with the words Bunkle & Trig Turni. (All created by Bungo). As they flew down, ciricling, Bunkle knew he had everything he needed, well.... nearly everything, but Bungo had that covered too!

After the chaos of combat died down, Bungo spoke to Bunkle.
Bungo: "Why have you changed your hair to be white?"
Bunkle: "What do you mean, I'm bleaching, though hopefully no more, now that I have Trig!"
Bungo: "No, I recognize that, it's been put there as a spell"
Bunkle: BLEEBERT!!!!

Bunkle ran Absolom, via the fastest means he could, payed for the highest level wizard in the grand lodge itself to remove the arcane curse from him. Bunkle emerged, his hair red with even more flame than he had previously, smile beaming across his face. Showing Trig was about as happy as he could have been, as they flew back to their island, purchased with favors at the Grand Lodge, just off the coast of Kryta.

So, I hope people enjoyed that part of Bunkle's story... If you're still here.
I would like that thank David and Jane mostly, for bringing this character's backstory out to be as much fun as it possibly could be. Also, to all of the other Pathfinder people, Alex, Aaron, Nihar, Michael and other people who dropped in, for making pathfinder the amazing game which it is.

This was meant to be a blog post about Anonycon, so I'll just say a sentence about that quickly here.

So David was in charge of Anonycon PFS this year, and did a fantastic job, mainly for letting me play! I got to play 5 slots I think, which never happens at conventions! It was a very fitting setting for my last convention in the U.S., since it was the exact same hotel as Conncon, though under a different name, which (if you look back) was my first convention here in the states. It was a great con, Ben came up from Texas to GM some games (including the wedding!) So even though it was fairly quiet in terms of recent PFS cons, it was fantastic!

Since then, we finished off the Echoes of the EverWar series, which was good fun, except Bunkle dying again in the final combat! This put Bunkle, Trig and Bungo onto level 12, or PFS retirement age!
So, before I left, back to Englandland, we decided to get the retirement arc done. Art came up (or down) from NJ to play and Nihar offered to run, so we could get that all done in a weekend!
I won't give anything away about the retirement arc, so avoiding all spoilers, it was great fun! Really surprising stuff and a good way to finish off these characters, though I hope to still be able to play via Skype through the high level modules!

I'm done now! I am NOT checking this for spelling or grammer because I just looked at how long it now is! If you see anything and it needs to be changed, let me know and I will fix it!
So, that is my tribute to Bunkle, now Venture Captain of the pathfinder society.
May he live long...

Not a bad pic of Bunkle, (Bunkle is more attractive)
Achievement Unlocked! (In fact, if you honestly read all of that, have two!)

Next WILL be the penultimate post, about my trip to Argonne National Lab, before I finally return to England, in LESS THAN A WEEK (look at the top right for more up to date!)

Also: Insert inside joke:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. ~Albert Einstein

Wise man. Also, very obvious... Still, an appropriate quote I believe.

On 18th November, I flew back to England.  Good old England... But I had a reason, I had a mission. I had a purpose...
My plan was to surprise Soph and turn up, fully dapper in her living room on the morn of her sisters' wedding, which she was convinced I was not going to be able to make it to.
So, after a night of not sleeping (to try and sleep on the plane), I was off to fly back to the green and pleasant land I call home.
Needless to say, lots of awesome comic book movies were watched on the plane etc... etc... and I arrived in LHR at 8:30am British time (3:30) having got no sleep whatsoever!

The wedding was at around noon, so I just about had enough time to rush home, change, grab some food (really had no idea what meal that was) and head back out the door. Onwards! To surprise Soph!

Watermark will be deleted when Lucy
get the pictures!
So, Soph's dad came up with a brilliant plan. As the Bride and Bridesmaids were getting their hair or something done, I arrived at Soph's house, looking rather dapper... even if I do say so myself.
Soph arrived back eventually and I hid in the garage, while her Mum pretended to get a picture of them all, so I could walk in and get Soph's reaction... (no, you can't see the video.)
Ah yes. Soph's reaction. I'm pretty sure it was all emotions at once. Impressive. Though eventually she was just really really happy to see me, even in my sleep-deprived 2 5-hour energy, state. (Does that make it 10-hour, or just 5-hour super energy?)

So anyway, we went off to the wedding...
It was a lovely venue and ceremony, with much tired dancing and an actual pint of ale (even if it was Boddingtons) afterwards. Lucy looked fantastic (as did everyone) and I managed to stay awake up until the final hour or so, where I crashed. (Coffee is a wonderful thing)

So, it then went to a week in good ol' England, most of which was spent in the company of people in Guildford, mainly Soph, which was awesome. I managed to surprise the physics guys by turning up at the end of their lecture. Got a pretty big man-hug from Travis for that! (I'm calling it a man-hug, but it was a wonderful, special moment of sharing feelings...) Also big hug from all the physics guys, meant I was pretty overwhelmed!
Hanging out in Guildford was awesome, got to go back to my old Gamesoc, which is still doing really well! Looking forward to getting back to that, for lots of awesome gaming. MORE 40K!

Finally, I headed home (to parent's house) on Sat, to spend time at home quickly, including seeing parents and Granny and meeting Rachael's boyfriend (finally) for a really nice meal out in Wewlyn (or however it's spelt)

Flying back to the US was actually a pretty nice trip, with extra legroom and everything, and I arrived in New Haven, for my final 4 weeks here at around 9pm on Sunday...

The next (and probably penultimate) post will be Anonycon! My final convention here! There might be some extra Pathfinder stuff in there, so stay on the edge of your seats people!

I don't think I could have not put this...

Achievement unlocked!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gary Gygax

Hey people.
We're back to gaming conventions! Specifically, PATHFINDER! (Massive surprise for anyone? No?)
The wonderfulness that is our NYC Venture Captain, Mr. Art Lobdell himself (round of applause) organised myself, David and Jane from New Haven to go up to CarnageCon, a rpg and board gaming convention up in Vermont.
First of all, most stunningly beautiful place for a convention I have actually ever been to (see photo)
That was the actual view out of the room from which we were playing pathfinder. Just take a moment to drink in that view, I'll let you.......
Done? Cool, then I'll continue.

Convention was 3 days of pathfinder, and as usual I was signed up to GM pretty much all the time, which was good because it was SO BUSY! It was so packed that we managed to play the battle interactive, which needs 5 tables all playing the same thing at the same time, which is fantastic for such an out-of-the-way convention.

We did have to chuck Jane into the deep end (of GMing, not the lake) due to this stupid amount of players, but I think with a 2 min coaching from David & I, she took to it amazingly and GM'd a table of 8 players to start off with (if you've ever GM'd, you know what that's like) followed by the BI.

This was indeed a shattering weekend, playing both midnight slots, for a total of like 4 then 3 hours sleep (thanks to the wonderful clock change half-way through the convention!) But totally worth it. Some fantastic tables, especially Sewer Dragons table, so if any of my players read this, then thanks again!

Keeping these a little short and sweet, since I still am playing catch-up, but the next one will be my impromptu return to England, to a certain someone's surprise!

Jane was nothing like this though....
Achievement unlocked!