Sometimes it's alien seed pods

I was quite tired last night, so possibly not quite at my sharpest when I stood by the sink to clean my teeth. There was a slight sound from the sink, hard to identify, a bit like a pop.

I looked down and saw... well, it had to be an alien seed pod, growing from the inside of the sink. The root was irregularly shaped, like a little mound, the base of which spread out as though to  cover a wide area to hold on as best it could, but the whole root was indistinct because of the creamy gelatinous substance covering it, as though it constantly exuded some kind of noxious gel to deter animals. The pod itself was brownish and wrinkled, and oval-shaped, with one tip of the oval emerging from the root, and the other slightly pointed and facing upwards, towards me, as though seeking my life-force.

Those were my first thoughts, all at once, as I glanced down at it. A seed-pod that had drifted from Yag the Accursed Planet, deep in the Outer Dark, and floated through the black night to land, somehow, in my sink. If left alive it would grow and eventually possess all of us in its vampirically vegetable thrall. Yet could I even fight it, now, without danger to myself, even with it being so small?

My next thoughts were that one of the almonds I'd been eating earlier must have fallen into my clothing, and dropped out when I removed my top to clean my teeth, and landed in a small puddle of toothpaste that a previous sink-user had dropped and not cleaned up. Whew.


Dolphin style mon'd have 8 hours out of 24 with your brain fully awake, 8 hours with only the right hemisphere awake, and 8 hours with only the left hemisphere awake. Not only will this let you spend 12 waking (ish) hours with each partner, you can also tailor the shifts perfectly so as to get the most apposite brain half to hang out with each partner. If you're a chap, then your -- let's be technical and call it your hippy hemisphere -- your yoghurt-weaving, basket-dying, tie-smoking brain meats half can spend its waking hours jus' chillin' with your manic pixie dream girl, and your, I suppose, scientist math-hemisphere can spend its waking hours with your xkcd-reading implausibly bespectacled nerdy hipster geekette, playing D&D and alphabetising your SF collection. It will be perfect...

Input: Zelda LRP for kids

Kyle's 11th birthday celebration is happening tomorrow. I have around 16 hours to design a Zelda-themed LRP adventure (and, I suppose, game system) for him and his 6 or so friends. Crew is around 3-5 adults (don't know precisely how many yet).


Er, that is, I know little about Zelda. But lots about LRP! Surely it will even out?

Plan at the mo is:

Simple global hits system
You play either:

Warrior (6 hits, or 7 if you have armour; sword and shield, or 2 swords)
Ranger (5 hits; staff, or spear, or bow, plus sword; woodland lore skills)
Wizard (4 hits; sword; healing potion; 3 spells a day taken from charm, firebolt, or trip; magic lore skills)

Everyone is back up to full hits after every fight.

8-10 classic linear encounters, featuring

Bulblins (Orc-like, just fighters probably)
Gerudo (bandit women, vaguely Bedouin-style)
Zora (mermaid-like -- probably a helpful, talky encounter)
Armos (living statue/armour -- probably guards set up by an evil sorcerer)
Stalfos (skeletons -- again probably guards)

Any suggestions from Zelda fans as to the main antagonist (I'm thinking, from the wiki, that Onox or Vaati might be good)?
Other thoughts?

That 15 characters game thing

Here's the answers to that entry ( ), since it seems to have died:

1) The Brain, of Pinky And The Brain (Guessed by Fox)
2) Solomon Kane (Guessed by mytholder)
3) Aeryn Sun (Guessed by Fox)
4) Omar (The Wire) (Guessed by oxfordgirl)
5) Medb (Slaine) (not guessed)
6) Gemma (Sons of Anarchy) (not guessed)
7) Zoe (Doctor Who) (not guessed)
8) Violent Marv (Sin City) (not guessed)
9) Druss the Legend (not guessed)
10) Capt. Jack Sparrow (Guessed by Fox)
11) Belit (Guessed by mytholder)
12) Flashman (Guessed by oxfordgirl)
13) Jirel of Joiry (not guessed)
14) Elizabeth (Pride & Prejudice / Pride & Prejudice & Zombies / Lost in Austen) (not guessed)
15) Severian (Guessed by oxfordgirl)

Fox and oxfordgirl are joint winners (3 each) with mytholder coming in 3rd place (2). Sorry if the others were too tricky. Geek harder next time please.

Bodyhacking update (already posted to Fbook around 3pm)

As I tuck in to a brunch of Viana smoked tofu (the tastiest straight-from-the-packet tofu -- best bet if you want tofu but don't have a really good and dedicated veggie cook handy) and mixed beansprouts, first food after an 18-hour fast, fresh from my afternoon nap (brief today, because I was hungry and had just unpacked a load of food from Suma, and probably dreaming of trying the Montezuma's spicy dark chocolate I just put in the cupboard), pondering when I need more caffeine (last cup of coffee, midday-ish; topped up caffeine levels with green tea an hour or so back, but coffee has a 3.5h half-life so I may need actual coffee soon, and there was some in that delivery)... I thought I'd just mention the current state of my bodyhacks:


Churchill-style biphasic sleep is absolutely sustainable, and I'm feeling better on it than any other style of sleep. Sleep 5-6 hours a night, plus a nap of up to 2 hours in the afternoon, *every* afternoon; but don't use alarm clocks. Advantages: (1) Less sleep needed than other methods, so productivity increases. (2) No afternoon slump in awareness and concentration due to tiredness; when it starts to hit, I just go for my nap. (3) Adaptable -- if I do a lot of working out, I end up with close to 8h a night, total, but when not working out so much, it's more like 6, with no particular adaptation period required (thanks largely to the "no alarm clock" thing). (4) Suits my body clock, which in sleep research terms is owl-like, i.e. I like to stay up late at night. (5) Also suits the ability to interact with others at normal human hours, as I wake up early too (typically sleeping from around 2am to 7am, +/- 1 hour on each time). (5) If I do a late morning or early afternoon workout, I can get some sleep soon after, letting my body repair itself very soon after working out, leading to much-reduced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. There are 2 slight disadvantages so far: (1) I really need that afternoon nap, now, and very much notice if I don't get it, because I actually feel tired again for the first time in weeks. (2) Haven't precisely settled into a food routine that maps on to the sleep routine, yet, but sticking with Zone diet principles works fine with it overall.


Food -- still sticking pretty well to the Zone diet, around 3 years since starting it. I eat a fair bit more healthy fat (olives, nuts, etc.) than the weight-loss version of the Zone, so closer to Athlete Zone than anything else, moving towards a more strict Zone diet for a few weeks if I start to notice my stomach getting rounder than I want it to be. This is the case right now, largely due to that enforced time off exercise due to back/neck probs a month or so back. No worries -- will be suitably buff again by Odyssey. Still aiming for a high dose of dietary Omega-3, and a relatively low intake of Omega-6, for brain and heart health. (I know some of you Goldacre fans will scoff, but I think you and he are both wrong.)


Fasting -- still intermittently fasting (maybe about once every 10 days, for 14-20 hours). This is for long-term health reasons -- there's some evidence that intermittent fasting has some of the same life-extension benefits as longer-term calorific restriction, so I'll stick with it.


Drink -- caffeine is most effective when topped up hourly in small doses, but does fade gradually. I avoid high doses of it in the evenings, but otherwise it's coffee first thing, green tea with gingko an hour or so later, white tea with pomegranate an hour later, more coffee, green tea with mixed antioxidant berries & leaves, more white tea, more coffee... seems to work pretty well, for a fairly constant low-level potentiation of ionotropic responses and stimulation of the central vagus, you know. ;) And, yes, I'm sufficiently convinced of the probable health benefits, and lack of risk, of around 4-5 cups of green and white tea per day, to think 'em worthwhile. If nothing else, they're a great low-dose caffeine top-up.


Chairs -- avoiding them pretty well! I've moved my standard laptop position from sofa to spare bed, on the mezzanine, which is lovely and light, too. Once the lappy is fully charged, I take it downstairs and work standing, at a high table, till it runs out of charge. If I'm waiting for a web page to load or bit of software to fire up, I do a few squats in front of the screen.


Exercise -- dammit, 2 bank hols in a row meant no judo... I am well enough now that I could and should be working out again, but desperately short of time.  :(  Trying to squeeze in short, intense workouts, anyway.


That contest

Previous entry -- shall I just tell you all the missing answers, or would you like to ask more questions, or shall I give you some clues and you can guess again, or what?

Copy of _Cloud Atlas_ to the person(s) who get(s) most right, posted at my expense.  ;)

(no subject)

mejoff has been doing one of these on his LJ, and I love it -- sort of somewhere between a very geeky 20 questions and freeform roleplaying game. So, here's mine (his is still ongoing, though, and I can certainly recommend adding to the discussion there too).

The Fifteen Character Meme. It goes like this:
1. I make a list of 15 fictional characters.
2. You post questions about entertaining situations they might get into (such as "6 and 7 walk into a pub. What do they order and where do they sit?" or "How do 4, 7 and 15 cope with a zombie apocalypse?").
3. I answer the questions.
4. You try to guess who the 15 characters are.
5. I update this post with a list of the ones you've guessed.

All right? Then let's play.

Correct guesses:
1) The Brain
2) Solomon Kane
3) Aeryn Sun
4) Omar
10) Jack Sparrow
11) Belit
12) Flashman
15) Severian

Bonus Clues: The era each character typically inhabits --
5) Estimates vary between around 10,000BC and 500BC. I'm inclined to go with 10,000 BC, for reasons of ice ages and land bridges. I have a feeling she has some capability to travel through time, though.
6) Early 21st century.
7) Early 21st century, originally, though she hooked up with time travellers for a while... and the early 21st century she inhabited was not quite our own, though it was intended to be our world by those who invented the character.
8) Late 20th century; again, though, this is not *quite* our world, since the city this character supposedly occupies is fictional; other than that detail the setting closely resembles the real Earth.
9) More-or-less a medieval setting, but very definitely not on Earth.
13) Medieval setting, supposedly on our Earth, but again the specific region it takes place in is fictional. This character has also been propelled to other worlds and times, though that is rare.
14) Born in the late 18th century; nothing much exciting happened to her till the early 19th though. Some fiction in some medium has her in the 21st.

First blog post at SKG

I will probably be doing more game-related bloggery there, at least for a while, rather than here. Depending on how much my cohorts Jon and Gar let me stray from Dragon Warriors, you may get to read stuff on general and specific game design, how much other RPGs suck, miniatures wargaming, and LRP. Or not.

Here's the first post there from me, looking back 26 years to when I first bought a Dragon Warriors book:

Press Release: Serpent King Games is new home for the Dragon Warriors RPG

Press Release


Serpent King Games is new home for the Dragon Warriors RPG


1st February 2011, United Kingdom


Dragon Warriors, the classic 1980s dark-fantasy RPG recently re-released by Magnum Opus Press, is moving to new British publishing company Serpent King Games.


From 1st April the game will no longer be available from Magnum Opus, which had published Dragon Warriors through Mongoose Publishing’s Flaming Cobra imprint.


Serpent King Games will keep the existing Dragon Warriors books available, and will publish new supplements for the game. The first new release will be the Dragon Warriors Players Book, in July 2011, with another two releases planned for the first year.

Serpent King Games is industry veterans Gareth Hanrahan (former Mongoose Publishing writer and lead designer on the new edition of Traveller and the Laundry RPG), Jon Hodgson (
art director at Cubicle 7 and cover artist for Dragon Warriors), and Ian Sturrock (ex-Mongoose writer responsible for the Conan and Slaine RPGs, but who also worked on most of the recent Dragon Warriors books).


"I’ve worked with everybody at Serpent King over the last ten years, and they are fiercely talented," said James Wallis, director of Magnum Opus Press. "Dragon Warriors and the Lands of Legend are in the hands of amazing people who are going to take it in some very exciting directions."

Dragon Warriors is SKG's first project, but more great games are in the works. Check out for regular updates.


All rights in Dragon Warriors are the property of Fabled Lands LLP, and are used with permission by Serpent King Games Ltd.


For more information, contact