Posts Tagged ‘tabletop gaming’

In my high school years, I was really into swordplay. I studied European broadsword for three years, got pretty good at it, then decided that if I wanted to get any better, that it would probably take up too much of my life, so I stopped. (Well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that my instructor kind of got mad at me for being bigger than anyone else in the class.)

In any case, here’s a cool thing for you to look at. Wizards of the Coast has put a quiz up online to test your polearm identification. Can you tell the difference between a glaive, a glaive-guisarme, a guisarme, a glaive-voulge, a voulge-guisarme, and a voulge? Do you know your Bohemian Ear-Spoon from your bec-de-corbin, and your lochabar axes from your lucerne hammers? Well, if you want to test your knowledge of incredibly obscure weapons that basically add up to being all blades on long sticks, then check it out.

I scored 13 out of 22 and received a ranking of “Swashbuckler”, which I was pleasantly surprised at. See if you can’t beat it!

~ Ian


The epic trilogy CONCLUDES!

Okay. Now the afternoon winds down at Maker Faire. As the epic trilogy of blog posts concludes, we come to the anticlimactic climax of my adventures at Maker Faire 2012, which does not contain tiny teddy bears with spears. However, it does contain Warhammer 40k cosplay, Bradburian fire trucks, and bubbles.


After seeing the MOST AWESOME SCULPTURE EVER, I came over to the midway to listen to some music.

These guys (I didn’t catch the name of their band) sounded like a combination of the Dresden Dolls and Queen– which, of course, is a good thing.

Now, if you look over to the right of the picture, you can see people on bicycles, pedaling. These people were providing all the power to the amps for the band.

I pedaled for a little while, turning gyro into G-chords, and helped the following band to make wonderful music.

It was fun. And good exercise.

My legs were tired afterwards.


A jeep! That you can affix Legos to!


Guess what you just lost?


Here at Maker Faire, the fire trucks don’t shoot water. Rather the opposite, actually.




I don’t know what kind of beast is being summoned here. All I can guess is that it’s from the Elemental Plane of Water, and it hates all life.




This was really cool.

It’s a working replica of the 1960s teaching computer, the Digi-Comp II. But instead of electrons, it calculates things using billiard balls.

I find it shocking and amazing that humans from the Digi-Comp II to the PlayStation 3 in just forty years. And that the PS3 costs far less than a DCII did in its day.

People are awesome.


Jannek was delighted to see an antique German fire truck at the Maker Faire.

And I got to learn an awesome new word: Feuerwehr!

(It means Fire Department. Unfortunately, ich kann nur ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen.)


A Lego metropolis– Legopolis, if you will.


Finally, we end with this picture that really demonstrates what Maker Faire is all about: a man riding a gigantic bicycle through the fairgrounds, a thing that should not be and yet his, a thing that he built with his own hands.

Maker Faire demonstrates something important that we’re in danger of forgetting. Creativity isn’t something that is taught. It’s not something that you have to go to school to learn. It’s inherent in all of us– whether we’re high school students building a BSG flight sim in our garages, a bunch of friends who get together to make music in the sunshine, or a guy who gets snails to eat through paper. Nobody has a monopoly on creativity. Ideas come from everywhere. Science isn’t something done by stern men in white coats in secluded desert laboratories– it’s something that surrounds us and permeates everywhere we go. And people should never let what other people say is possible get in the way of doing something awesome.

Godspeed, Maker Faire. I’ll see you again in 2013.

~ Ian


PS: If you want to go to the Maker Faire, but are one of those people who live in the secluded hinterlands, despair not. There are other Maker Faires, including ones in New York and Detroit which are coming later this year, as well as dozens of mini Maker Faires held all over the world, from Ghana to Gujarat, from Melbourne to Minnesota.

Here’s a link to the main Maker Faire page.

But look at me still talking when there’s science to do! Be good to each other. ~ Ian

Gaaah… tired…

I promised you guys a second Maker Faire post though, so here it is.

My previous post brought you guys up to lunchtime. With that in mind, I’m going to talk some about the things that happened after lunch. Here we are with Episode V (which, not surprisingly, is the best of the trilogy), which contains giant cast-iron sculptures that shoot flame, children engaged in combat, and snails.


What does one have for lunch at the Maker Faire? Well, typically, a big plate of this:

This is paella. For those of you who don’t know, paella is a Spanish dish that is prepared by taking a net, dragging it across the bottom of the sea, and cooking whatever you catch in it.

It’s by far the most popular dish at the Maker Faire, so the line was huge. As much as I enjoy todos los mariscos, I decided to avoid the line, instead choosing to get a gigantic gyro and a cup of lemonade that had no sugar in it, so it tasted more like watered-down lemon juice.


This face loomed over the eating area.

Its eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, and lips moved. Rest assured, this was CREEPY AS FUCK.


Snails, making art.


The SCA was there, allowing small children to sample the art of warfare…


…as well as pursuits of a more peaceful nature.


3D printers were there in abundance.






Now, this next section is so incredibly awesome that I need you guys to brace yourselves…












Are you ready?















You sure?











Okay, check this out…



This image doesn’t appropriately convey the size of this giant iron dandelion (and, by the way, Yrön Dåndélyönn is the name of my new black metal band).

It’s about twenty feet tall.


Not really a fire-shooting sculpture, but this thing was cool and looked like something you’d see in a Fallout game.


Of course, this was the thing that made the heavy metal fan in me die a little with joy…







I was gazing raptly at this giant, beautiful monstrosity, thinking, This is one of the coolest things at the Maker Faire so far. The only thing that would be better is if it could breathe fire. 

The second I thought that, this happened:


This was the shortest turnaround from dream to reality that I’ve ever experienced.

I never got the names of the people who made this beautiful piece of congealed epic.

I bet we could hang out.


Actually, you know what? I’m having an upcoming D&D campaign this summer. Now, it’s a bit of a stretch, considering the medieval fantasy setting I’m considering, but I kind of want to put this monstrosity in my campaign.


My friend Finn has been on me to make a steampunk-themed campaign. If I ever do that, I’m definitely going to put this thing into the story.

You know. Because steampunk D&D campaigns absolutely HAVE to have a fire-breathing robot dragon.

I think it’s in the DMG.


This fellow had a nice bicycle.

Since I mentioned that I wanted this picture for my blog, he gave me the business card for his website, in case any of my ten regular readers are interested in wooden bikes with piratical themes. They’re called Masterworks Wood and Design, and they’re based in San Jose.

You know. Check them out.

That’s all for today. My trilogy of Maker Faire retrospectives wraps up tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Now my reward… blessed, blessed sleep.

~ Ian

Okay, freshman. I understand that you’re away from home for the first time in your life, and you are excited and scared. I know that you think it’s really cool to stay up hours and hours into the darkness. You also think that playing the ukelele is cool, for whatever reason. (Here is a tip: ukeleles are dorky and hipsterish. Mandolins are cool.) So you see, I comprehend why you are doing such a thing. You and me, we grok each other, man.

Still, I have to tell you one thing:

When you play your ukelele in the quad outside my window at 11:30 PM, I automatically assume you are a douchebag.

Not that I have anything against douchebags personally. Wait, scratch that– I do have something against douchebags. Namely, that they play the ukelele outside my window at 11:30 PM, thus depriving me of the much-needed sleep that I need. Because as we all know, no Internet and no sleep make Ian go crazy. And when I don’t get any sleep, I will go crazy. Rest assured that the fiery rage that smolders deep within my heart is enough to summon a spectral swarm of nightcrows from the depths of the Shadowfell, converging on you as you stand at the crossroads, lantern in hand, on the night of the new moon. They swarm around you, and just before you are devoured by them, one of them will take a crap on your flannel hoodie. Because the nightcrows hate hipsters, and have resist 20 to pretentious douchebaggery. As your flesh is slowly devoured and the light fades from your eyes, you will see my smiling face, beautiful and terrible in its wrath. And I will go back to my dorm room, lay down in my bed, and sleep, a smile on my face. You know why? Because I can’t hear any ukeleles.

And that makes all the difference.

(Please note that this note is not directed to the person who plays the flute late at night. I think that the sound of your instrument is both beautiful and mournful, and I think we could hang out. Just be aware that if you switch to a ukelele, your days are numbered. And trust me: if the number of your days were written out into binary, it wouldn’t even be a nybble. Yes, that is a technical term.)

Okay. Now I need a lawn, so I can tell the damn kids to get off it.

Damn kids.

~ Ian

Okay. I said I would share some of my writing on this blog eventually. In this case, “eventually” meant “four days”. I can use words however I want to. It’s my right.

Anyway, welcome to Creative Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday, I’m going to be sharing some of my writing with you guys. Today, to start off the category, here are two poems.

I enjoy poetry. I write poetry as a kind of verbal weightlifting: since writers who write a lot of poetry tend to have a tight grasp on their language, I figured I’d write poems as a way to tighten my sentence structure and to make my verbiage more succinct. It’s a hobby– most of the poetry I write is written solely for me and me alone. For one thing, it’s nearly impossible to make money as a poet, so I don’t expect to publish my poetry ever. For another thing, most of my poems are fantasy- and gaming-related, which is a bit of a niche audience even within the niche audience of poetry fans. For a third and final thing, my poetry isn’t really all that good.

That being said, I do like writing poetry. So here are two poems. The first is about an ancient, weary paladin who wants to lay down his burdens forever. The second is about a teenage boy who falls in love with an illustration in his D&D manual. I like these two well enough, but hey– in six months I’ll probably hate them.

On that note, here you go!


The Paladin’s Lament

I’ve walked through the valley

of shadow and death

I’ve wandered through forests

cold under the sky

I’ve passed through green fields

of barley and rye

When can I stop running

to catch my lost breath?


Across foamy oceans

I’ve taken my quest

No pillow for my head

But hard stones and briars

And over my head there are

nothing but stars

How long must I wander?

When can I rest?


The dawns’s light bursts over

the valleys and glades

The sky lights in glory

The heavens are still

I stand and I watch the light

break o’er the hill

And with my good right hand

I finger my blade


The world is all silent

from mountainside steep

To the caverns’ deepest

foundations of stone

And I must go on now

forever alone

When can I stop, lord?

When can I sleep?



In olden times there was a maid

A golden-headed maiden fair

Who wore a low-cut chainmail bra

Upon her smooth white skin so bare

And how I yearned and pined for her

The fierce expression on her face

Longing for her fiery stare

And the hard crush of her embrace


A princess of prodigious strength

And a charisma of 18

Her breasts were perfect globes so round

Her hair was like a golden stream

And though her wisdom wasn’t great

Her DEX it barely did suffice

Her eyes were orbs like sapphire moons

Her legs the gates to paradise


A warrior queen, a stormy wench

A star that gave the heavens light

A steel-bikini’d eladrin

Who stormed the gates of Evernyghte

A dire wolf, a jungle cat

A spear-maid trained in the deadly arts

A goddess trapped in mortal form

She nailed a crit on my aching heart


My love’s entombed on the printed page

Above Chart 22-4b

My epic-level secret shame

Why is it no one else can see?

I’d brave the fires of Baator’s hells

I’d weather storm and fire and snow

We’d be together, you and me

Just please don’t let my parents know


Thanks for reading. I’ll have more writings for you next Wednesday.

~ Ian