Those Stories About What Happened...

26 October 2015 | Hisham | | Humour, Role Playing Games, Star Wars

I might have overdone it with the "Those Stories About What Happened" meme adapted from the latest Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer, pertaining to West End Games' Star Wars The Roleplaying Game material. It probably what Han would tell these kids about the Galactic Civil War shenanigans as played by Star Wars D6 RPG players.

First, here is a general flavour of memories of role-playing games as a general, not just limited to Star Wars.

I don't think our group took a break to eat anything when we played

Then, there was that one time Sila stole Zardra's stun cloak during Tatooine Manhunt when she and Puggles Trodd launched an attack on her party when they were asleep.

Awesome map by Jennell Jacquays, btw

Disclaimer! I've never actually played Starfall:

I'd love to possess the Star Destroyer floor plans

Not to mention the exploits of the Black Curs team.

Adventure Journal characters represent

And finally, from Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments From The Rim, a gag written by a tabloid-esque news outlet in the Galaxywide Newsnet chapter of the book:

Galactic Weekly NewsStack FTW

Addendum (27/10/2015): Don't forget about the Rabid Mynock swoop gang!

Needs Wayne and his crew to save the day

Today Is The Day

21 October 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News

...when Griff (and Jason Scott Lee too for some reason) gets arrested.


That is all.


Han Solo and the Princess and the Trailer

20 October 2015 | Hisham | | Star Wars

Everyone and their pet tauntaun has written something about the new Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer, so here I'll be regurgitating some thoughts about the musical score used for it:

Incom T-70 X-Wing Space Superiority Fighter

BUT FIRST, here's the trailer, released earlier today.

There are two familiar cues in the trailer, the Han Solo and the Princess cue and the Force theme.

BUT SECOND, a disclaimer: The Han Solo and the Princess theme is my favourite theme ever in Star Wars, and why I think Rebel Fleet - End Titles in The Empire Strikes Back is the best of all Star Wars end titles score, surpassing even Caravan of Courage.

Before the music go on to the full-blown new orchestration of the Han Solo and the Princess cue in the trailer, they play a four-note melody thrice. The first iteration was played on piano - the first notes being the one we hear when we see Rey's masked face during her Star Destroyer dungeon crawl. The second iteration is still on piano, but at a lower octave with some chord variations. The third iteration is played by strings.

These four notes are I believe variations of the basic four chords of Han Solo and the Princess itself, which is why it feels not just like a fantastic transition to the scene below, but an emotional one as well.

That - as well as Nien Nunb - was what gave me goosebumps. Well done, John Williams and the scoring team! I hope I will able to play this trailer music on the piano someday.

Where is Nien Nunb in this trailer? WHERE?

Tsuro Picnic

16 October 2015 | Hisham | | Board and Card Games, Family Pics

Once upon a time, earlier today, Irfan came up with the idea of setting up a mat out in the yard so he and other neighbourhood kids can play board games outdoors.

A Tsuro picnic

Later, there were even sandwiches and apple juice!

With food and drinks!

Here's hoping the boardgaming will help Irfan and the other children to improve their social and language skills as they interact with one another.

Perhaps someday there will be RPG picnics?


15th Anniversary Pizza

15 October 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food, Recent News

Fifteen years since we that day Ain and I got married. We've had a number of anniversaries over the fifteen years. Fifteen years of juking and barrel rolling and Tallon rolling and drop kick Koiogran turn just to stay out of reach of blaster bolts from the rear. Sometimes, we would get it and it would hurt because it would mean I failed to keep my family from hurt and harm. Most of the time, we would pull through by the skin of our teeth.


This was the first year we celebrate our anniversary without anyone attempting to acquire a target lock on us. It was amazing. I felt like it was the first time I managed to get the ship out of the asteroid field and away from the savage squad of pursuing fighters. We were able to spend some on pizza without worrying about the cost killing us like before.

We spent the evening at Shala Pizza.

I got a little Pizza Supreme pan, while Ain got a burger. I did not get enough pictures because the phone ran out of juice.

Irfan had the one slathered with the BBQ sauce.

Even with the last 15 years of running on spit and chicken wire, with oil dripping from the ceiling and everything one step from breaking down into scrap, we kept on fighting the good fight. And we don't plan on stopping to. I would never have come this far if it were not for Ain at my side.

Love you forever, Ain.


The Martian

11 October 2015 | Hisham | | Books, Misc Sci-Fi

IT'S BEN AFFLECK!The Martian is a book written by Andy Weir.

It is also my graduation present from Ain, in lieu of flowers. A book, I thought, would not wilt after a couple of days. I spent the same number of days for flowers to wilt reading the whole book. It was very engaging.

Also, the book did not wilt. Yay.

The premise is simple, astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist - who looks like the guy who Tom Hanks had to rescue back in World War 2 - gets left behind on Mars in a freak accident while his fellow astronauts had to leave immediately because of a dust storm. What should have been a fatalistic "that's it no one knows I'm still alive and doesn't matter not enough food I'm dead anyway good bye everyone" 3- day short story becomes a full length novel for survival that extends for months and years as Watney uses his engineering and botanical skills to keep himself alive using material at hand, like spanners, nuts, bolts, potatoes, hydrogen gas, an RTG buried in the ground some kilometres away and the Mars Pathfinder probe a couple of hundred kilometres away.

Mark Watney is an interesting character. He is a man of the internet. Although he speaks English, he speaks it in the manner of a man who probably knows what 4chan is and are aware of ALL THE MEMES. This is a realistic build of an internet-wired 21st century character. I don't believe there has ever been such a character. No, not even Keanu Reeves in that mind-blowing, sensational cyberpunk movie that everyone knows him for... Johnny Mnemonic.

NASA is interesting. As a red tape bound organisation, there are quite the many problem solvers that put their career on the line to save Mark Watney. And more importantly, they are a multi-ethnic bunch of heroes that attempt to reflect the reality of a multi-ethnic nation and planet. I'm sure they'll find someone race-appropriate to play someone named "Kapoor" and "Park" in the movie.

Wait, the movie's out?

Anyway. Watney's life on Mars is like my life in Kuala Lumpur: One thing after another, where "thing" is usually some form of shit hitting some fan somewhere. He weathers all the problems well though, if you can count being blown up by a hydrogen explosion "well". He survives, probably because he looks like that guy from Elysium, and I'm not talking about Wikus.

Anyway. Anyway... this pain up my nasal cavity is bad and it's pushing into by jaw and eyeballs. And I don't think the meds are helping. So go read the book to see how Watney kills the Pathfinder probe. What did the probe ever do to you, huh? Damned amperage. How do they work?


X-Wing: The Asteroid Gambit

07 October 2015 | Hisham | | Board and Card Games, Star Wars

Yesterday, Irfan and I finally started playing the X-Wing Miniature Game that was given to us by Darren when we last visited Kuala Lumpur. What Darren gave us was astoundingly lots, so many thanks to him for letting us have this trove.

We started with the basic game. Irfan controlled an Incom T-65 X-Wing fighter and I controlled two Sienar Fleet Systems TIE/ln fighters. His Pilot Card is Luke Skywalker, and mine were "Mauler" Mithel (apparently the father of Reljii Mithel) and Academy Pilot (a strange name to give your son, Mrs. Pilot). We did not carry Upgrade Cards, like astromech droids and proton torpedos.

Here's a picture of an X-Wing

The sculpts for these minis are amazingly detailed. One might even want to collect them because they look very nice indeed. I have seen the Corellian Corvette mini in a box back in KL some time ago and it looks fantastic. And still too expensive for me to pick up.

Here's another picture of an X-Wing and a TIE Fighter

The game is at its core elegant in its simplicity. Initiative, attack, defense, weapon damage, et al are numbers assigend to you on your pilot card. You manoeuvre your ship, then you attack if you are able to. Deciding your move requires a Manoeuvre Dial that you would turn to your choice of move, but you would reveal them from the lowest initiative so the higher initiative players would know what your move is. Moving your ship requires a Manoeuvre Template which would help you move anywhere between 1 to 5 spaces in Straights, Turns or Banks.

Attacking requires the roll of a number of red eight sided dice where you might hit with normal damage, hit with critical damage or "Focus". Defence requires the roll of a number of green eight-sided dice where you might evade or "Focus". A Focus token is used when you declare that the pilot will be Focused after its manoeuvre, which allows the pilot to able to turn any red or green die with a "focus" result to either a hit or an evade respectively.

Hits and Evades cancel each other out. Remaining Hits is the damage dealt out to the fighter being shot at. The X-Wing has Shield Points that has to be depleted by attacks before you start to affect its Hull Points. Deplete a ship's Hull Points and it gets destroyed.

Here's another picture of two TIE fighters

So we used the old West End Games' Star Warriors battlemat, which looks kind of busy and distracting but it is less busy and distracting (and far less embarassing) than our linoleum. Asteroid tokens were scattered all over board as obstacles. We just chased each other around the board for a bit. I attempted to outflank him with my two TIEs, but it was much more difficult that I thought it would be.

Here's yet another picture!

Irfan scored some hits with his Taim & Bak KX-9 wingtip cannons on Mithel's TIE early on. One more point of damage inflicted, and Mithel would be all like, "LOOK OUT!" and smash into the Death Star trench wall asteroid. Above, both TIEs had finally gotten the upper hand and flanked Luke, but all my attack rolls were embarassingly bad, like the linoleum. For some reason, although he had higher initiave, he was unable to put the TIEs into his field of fire. He was not able to shoot.

In case you need another picture...

This allowed my TIEs to let loose with their green cannon bolts, which eventually hit a lucky break and depleted Luke's Shield Points and some Hull Points. Ultimately, Luke and Mithel had the same damage result - one more damage would destroy either - but in the end it was Academy Pilot's attack that took out the X-Wing.

The gameplay was quite enjoyable. I even used a soundboard for the relevant sound effects whenever we fire and things explode. We hope to play with more Upgrade Cards and maybe use the Millennium Falcon and the Slave One next time.


The Haze Reaches North

05 October 2015 | Hisham | | Recent News

The haze has crept up and enveloped the entire northern region of the country. The last couple of days has been abysmal. Visibility range has been lowered to about 200 metres. Even the night rains failed to scrub the air. Even worse is this cough I am experiencing which started when we went to Kuala Lumpur last month and took a turn for the worse on our way home from Sitiawan after Hari Raya Haji.

I joked once that our family motto is Lepas Satu, Satu. In Kuala Lumpur, after we get out of one crisis, it is customary for an even larger crisis to swamp us. I sincerely hoped that this is not one of those instances, now that we are on the brink of being able to live with a small measure of comfort.


The Quality of Flame

02 October 2015 | Hisham | | Artwork
I don't think that air is breathable though. She should get a rebreather.

Another practice sketch from several weeks ago, where I tried to paint the dynamics of cloths against the wind.

The fire is actually an afterthought for added drama.


The Quality of Rain

01 October 2015 | Hisham | | Artwork
Why isn't she getting wet? I don't know. Maybe because I can't draw worth a damn.

A practice sketch from a couple of weeks ago, where I tried to refine some figure work and painting of skin.