A Vacation of Some Sort

15 January 2017 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Friends
 

And So It Begins

Some sort of visitor from KL

The vacation began when Ivan came a-visiting from Petaling Jaya via the ERL. I picked him up at the Arau station and he gave me an early birthday present: the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide, which will eventually be its own blog post.

Lok chin

Because of work, I had to spend the first day of vacation grading papers. But we did take Ivan out by the sea where we had some grilled lok chin and laksa.

Gua Kelam

In the Mouth of Madness

With me on call for the grading work, we managed to take a trip to Gua Kelam. It was a work day so there were not many people at the park. Here are Ain and Irfan at the mouth into the dark tunnel of the shadowy realm.

Ayah Cik and Cikma's spot

Once we got to the park grounds on the far side of the cave, Ain identified the spot where Irfan, Ayah Cik, Cikma and Ciksu once had a cranial massage thanks to the fast-flowing stream.

Entada phaseoloides

Ain also sat and swung on the thick, ropy stalk of a beluru tree (also known as a sintok tree). Mouseover the photo above for its scientific name.

 

Patreon: The Uplifts of Space

04 January 2017 | Hisham | | Patreon Paperminis, Role Playing Games
 

Returning to the themes of transhumanism for the Hishgraphics paper miniature releases on Patreon, here are some uplifted animals to be used in your campaign. There are two designs each of crow uplifts, octopus uplifts and chimp uplifts perfect for your science fiction campaign.

Genetic modifications in the future allow for some animals to possess human-level thoughts and consciousness.

Click here to download the free Uplifts of Space PDF file on Patreon.

Uplifts on Mars
Octmorphs are cleverer than you think
 

The General

03 January 2017 | Hisham | | Artwork, Star Wars
 

I drew the General a couple of days ago with a pencil. Then I took a photo of it.

Or royalty even.

Later, General.

 

Postcards Beyond The Edge

28 December 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News, Star Wars
 

"Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it, and eventually the confidence will follow." - Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher died earlier today. She was 60.

I did not think it would, but it did hit me harder than I ever thought it could. Because I am unsure why because I did not believe she affected me much as a child despite my being a Star Wars fan. For me it was always about the universe first. The characters, who had their own great story in that universe, came second.

So what did she imprint onto me at that pubescent age when I first saw Star Wars? It was probably something like this: if there was an older girl playing on the playground, I would want her to be like Princess Leia. If the boys run out of ideas, grab a gun and blast a hole in the wall. If I had an older sister, I would definitely want her to be like Princess Leia. So, unlike a lot of stories from many fans I had read, I never fell in love with Princess Leia, nor Carrie Fisher.

But I had a younger sister. And I believe subconsciously, I pushed her into becoming someone who I would love to play with on the playground. If assholes talk you down, look them in the eye in defiance.

I think - I believe - my sister Sila did grow up to be like this idealised version of her which I had in my mind.

It was only fairly recent that I learnt that the Carrie Fisher herself was as fiesty as her character Princess Leia. I marvelled at her acerbic wit and sharp tongue during interviews. I discovered how opened was about being bipolar. If anything, I wish I had been paying attention to her when I needed it. I think if I did I would have bounced back from the edge quicker.

Thanks, Carrie Fisher, for being an inspiration on many a level. Rewatching the films will never be quite the same from today.

Plus Gary's ears

Andi Gutierrez interviews Carrie and Gary Fisher during Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016.

 

EOTE: Problem Child

14 December 2016 | Hisham | | RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games, Star Wars
 

Problem Child

Dramatis Personae:

  • Amri as Grabow, male Wookiee doctor
  • Ijam as Matwe, male human smuggler pilot
  • Fazrie as Lumpy, male Wookiee mercenary soldier

Just as it was more than 20 years ago in Sitiawan when a bunch of unfamiliar people asked if I could run Star Wars RPG for them, here I am in the same situation in Sitiawan where online friends I have never met before asked me to run a Star Wars RPG session for them! No big deal to me: it is a great way to make lasting friends!

Unfamiliar with any form of Star Wars RPG, I brought the Edge of the Empire and Force and Destiny rulebooks along with some sourcebooks, the FFG narrative dice set, Force tokens and my trusty homemade paperminis. I forgot to bring the percentile dice so I used the phone dice roller app. I thought I would give the scenario some recognisable Star Wars elements by first starting out the game on Naboo. Then, soon after the Empire could make its presence known...

Human smuggler Matwe, Wookiee doctor Grabow and Wookiee mercenary soldier Lumpy (no relation to Lumpawarrump son of Chewbacca), the crew of the Corellian YT-2400 light freighter Seagate. arrived at the city of Theed on Naboo to look for trader Zo Arkon who was looking for tramp freighter services.

The crew of the Seagate

Arrival at Theed

Upon setting the Seagate down in Hangar 14 on the side of the cliff face, the crew debarked, paid their 50 credit service tax to the port officer and headed for the cantina built into the side of the large cavernous hangar. A series of large windows and automatic sliding doors adorned the facade of the Piledriver Cantina. As the crew approached, the doors slid apart and two Imperial stormtroopers strode out.

The troopers suddenly stopped the crew and addressed Matwe: Did he have permit for the two Wookiee slaves?

As Grabow and Lumpy rolled their eyes Matwe quickly convinced that the Wookiees were from offworld and just arrived as crew on a light freighter for a transport job pickup on Naboo. Thankfully (thanks to a Success in Matwe's Charm roll) the stormtroopers were easily persuaded by Matwe's fast talking.

It was the truth anyway.

Gamemaster in the shot

Soon after the droid bartender directed them to Zo Arkon who having lunch in a booth at the back of the cantina. Zo Arkon treated them to some bantha steak for lunch while the Matwe authorised Arkon's droids to load the Seagate with the cargo: a regular looking cargo container. Before the crew left the cantina, Arkon paid them 500 credits, with another 2500 credits to be paid by their contact Milo Renn upon arrival at their destination: the south polar town of Bamboo River on Takodana.

As the trio traipsed back to their YT-2400 freighter, they noticed something peculiar. There was a puddle of dark lubricant on the deck not far from their ship. There was also a set of smudged tracks that ran from the puddle toward the underside of the Seagate where it then disappeeared. Did someone sneak aboard the ship somehow?

The tabletop
 

A Hometown of Sorts

13 December 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

...Sitiawan! We drove from Pasir Mas to where I grew up and where nothing now looks familiar, except for the old house.

Because I was not able to go to Kuala Lumpur for vacation earlier, I figured we should visit Atok and Opah in Sitiawan during Maulud Nabi. Of course Irfan was glued to his grandparents desktop computer for hours, even late into the night.

Zzzz

So he was pretty tired in the mornings.

Still zzzz

It was a chore to wake him up in my old bedroom.

Dinner

We mostly chilled out and relaxed in Sitiawan. We wanted to visit my cousin, but they were not in town. Irfan's Atok and Opah also took us to dinner, before I went to GM a Star Wars RPG session. Wait what?

At the rojak and pasembor restaurant

The pasembor and rojak place under the rubber trees had quite the tasty food, even if there was quite a swarm of flies in the area. I wished Vin, Sila, Yaya and Rafiq were there with us.

Heading home

Soon it was time to go. We bade my parents and Sitiawan farewell as we headed back to where class revisions and final exams of my students awaited me.

 

A Send Off to Mekah

12 December 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

For the first time ever, Tok Bah and Tok Ma in Pasir Mas got the opportunity to go on an Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca. We drove to Kelantan to see them off. En route, we got to see a herd of elephants, pale and monolithic, at about three a.m. along the Grik-Jeli highway over the mountains. They must have just crossed the road as their butts were to us. No, we did not stop the car to take photos.

The entire party

Tok Bah and Tok Ma would join a group of pilgrims from Terengganu and be escorted by Ain's cousin and her husband in their journey. Many came from Pondok Lubuk Tapah and other places to see them off at the Kota Bharu airport.

Ain, Tok Bah and Tok Ma

Yes, Ain shed tears at the airport.

Cousins of two generation

Irfan should get to know his cousins a bit more. Though I think his extraordinary height (and his somewhat introverted demeanour around unfamiliar people) might make them nervous around him.

Group photo

All of us before they left.

Group photo plus Irfan

All of us plus Irfan before they left.

After they departed, we headed back to Pondok Lubuk Tapah to get our gear and then begin our drive to...

 

Ain and Irfan Go To KL

08 December 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

It came to pass that Ain and Irfan went for vacation back in KL but I was not able to join them because of work. A side effect of given a new position at work after one has planned one's year end vacation and bought travel tickets.

So while I held the fort during exam season, the anak beranak spent their time with Ayah Cik, Cikma, Ciksu and Little Rania. Here are some of the photos of what happened during their away mission. Mouseover the images to read the captions.

The Seri Kembangan Six sans Ciksu
Meanwhile down the Shah Alam expressway to the west
Incarcerated!
Baby in Zero-Zero Ejection Seat
It's a babby!
Time to go home
His new hoodie

They had a fun time there, visiting some folks including Zara and Aiman, and Irfan's former uztazah, our old neighbour back at the tenth floor. Hopefully I would be better at planning vacations next year after I have acclimatised better to my work schedule as a teacher.

 

Patreon: Human Adventurers

01 December 2016 | Hisham | | Patreon Paperminis, Role Playing Games
 

I have uploaded a pair of new paper miniature releases for Patreon, but forgot to announce it here. So here are the two sets of freely downloadable PDFs usable as player characters (PC) or non-player characters (NPC) in any medieval fantasy roleplaying game campaigns.

Rangers of Sword Valley

These guys are woodsmen and warriors

Sword Valley was once the most dangerous regions of the wilderness and filled with deadly creatures and hideouts of murderous brigands. Until the Rangers appeared out of nowhere and cleansed the valley of evil and danger. Now the valorous services of the Rangers of Sword Valley are in demand throughout the land - even when there are whispers of a dire secret being kept by these skilled woodsmen.

Click here to download the free Rangers of Sword Valley PDF file on Patreon.

Wilderfolk of the Dust Plains

Denizens of an arid land

In the arid, dry lands of the Dust Plains where death await even the most prepared adventurer, there live the hardy Wilderfolk who can survive the worst of droughts. When a Wilderfolk leave the Dust Plains to join travellers from other lands, there is certain to be an intriguing and astonishing story behind it.

Click here to download the free Wilderfolk of the Dust Plains PDF file on Patreon.

Feel free to become a patron, or share with your circles! Thanks.

 

The Clutch

16 November 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

The answer to that is the clutch disintegrated on the inside.

 

SWD6: The Chandrila Extraction Fiasco

12 November 2016 | Hisham | | RPG Actual Play, RPG Irfan Plays, Role Playing Games, Star Wars, Time is the Hunter
 

Episode 4

Time is the Hunter

Episode 05: The Chandrila Extraction Fiasco

After their rescue of the rebel agent known as "The Skywalker", who turned out to be a Togorian named Meow Skywalker, bounty hunter Jax Hunt (played by Irfan) and the amnesiac lady who then named herself Iris Helena (played by Ain) were taken aboart the VCX-100 frieghter Screeching Arrow to rendezvous with a Nebulon-B escort frigate at an unknown location in deep space.

The 27 year old sourcebook

The Star Wars Sourcebook hardcover made a great dice rolling platform.

After three days of being cooped up in the Arrow, Meow finally approached them with a mission.

"The mission is to travel to the Chandrila system in the Core Worlds, land at Nayli Spaceport, travel to Apartment 7C, Blackback Building to pick up a 10 year old girl named Wencie Kelauae, whose rebel sympathiser parents had been kiled by the Empire. The Empire is looking for her. Get to her before they do and bring her back here."

They accepted the mission.

The custom GM screen to the rescue

Oh hey! Look! It's Jax Hunt's Relby-k23 blaster.

The Journey to Chandrila

Iris piloted the Screeching Arrow as Jax manned the navigator's console beside her. However Jax must have programmed the navicomputer badly because they flew too close to a hyperspace shadow of a black hole and something exploded, sending flames and sparks billowing in the main corridor behind the cockpit.

"Keep flying," yelled Jax as he headed aft. "I'll handle this." At the corridor, a wall of flame blocked him and the automatic fire suppression system was knocked out. He steeled himself and jumped over the fire, reaching for the damage control panel on the wall beyond it. He hit the manual button and the suppressor force field killed the flames.

"I wish we had an astromech droid," Jax said, studying the damage done by the overload explosion. He reported to Iris, "Our shields are dead. We'd better get them fixed before we get shot at."

In the meantime, Jax started cooking some eggs for a light meal while Iris fussed over him and told him he reminded her of someone, perhaps a son.

She could not really remember.

The Landing at Nayli Spaceport

Two hours later or so, they reverted back to realspace off Chandrila. The ship automatically greeted Chandrila's traffic control system and they were assigned Landing Bay 19 at Nayli Spaceport.

Iris guided the Arrow towards her berth. But 300 meters above it, the repulsorlift generators gave out and the ship plummeted downwards.

 

Yaya Creates Art

04 November 2016 | Hisham | | Artwork
 

It is a wonder to see my niece's Alya's artistic skills develop, receiving updates from my sister. She is not only becoming quite the artist, but her skills in digital art using rudimentary art tools are now very impressive for her age!

Here are a couple of drawings Alya made that Sila emailed me over the last couple of weeks:

Rowdy Ruff Boys

Here is a drawing of the Rowdy Ruff Boys, the male counterparts of the Power Puff Girls!

Sorry mama

When Alya really wanted to go trick-or-treating for Halloween last month and she might have made her mother mad.

From Steven Universe

Alya also loves Steven Universe.

Self-drawn Siblings

Here are both Alya and her little brother Rafiq in PPG style. Rafe a.k.a Adik is the onle with the long hair.

These are made freehand and with a mouse. I have also suggested they buy a graphics tablet for her and her brother to draw with. Perhaps they could use something more complicated than Paint; such as GIMP or Krita.

 

The Car Exhausts Me

03 November 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Usually car problems come not within a month or two of one another. For us. So far. Until now.

Friday

It was Friday afternoon just before Solat Jumaat when the car engine refused to start. After prayers, with the help of some colleagues, I got a nearby mechanic to see to our immobilised vehicle. It turned out that the battery - nearly two years old - was as flat as a paper miniature.

Saturday

Saturday was the lull in the storm. Little did we know that our car troubles for the week were not done yet.

Sunday

The car returned from a short jaunt to refill our potable water bottles and hissed at me. Since the thermometer was broken, we were unsure if it was the radiator. After it cooled down, I attempted to refill the radiator and reversed the car a metre or so, away from the puddle I made in my refill attempt.

A new unwanted puddle promptly appeared.

It was almost sundown on a Sunday. The car would have to be repaired the next day, and I had to cancel my morning class.

Monday

It took an entire Monday to fix the leak as it was leaking at a pipe that was connected to the engine. I also had to cancel my afternoon class.

At he end of the day, the coolant system was fixed.

But the mechanic pointed out that my front right tyre had a bulge. Frayed fibres were visible. It was the end of the day, so I could only replace the front tyres the next day.

Tuesday

I had a medical appointment first thing Tuesday morning. We wanted to have breakfast at the hospital but the cafeteria was shut down on account of their tender contract being lapsed. After the visit to the ENT clinic at the hospital, we looked for food before heading to the tyre shop. By lunch time, we had replaced both front tyres and the usable left tyre was made a spare, and all was right in the world.. until-

Wednesday

Upon our return from sending Irfan to school, the car scraped against a sharp jagged rock on the side of a small road near the back of the school... and tore a gash in it.

I had to cancel one of a replacement class from Monday. I thought I could replace the damaged tyre with the spare, but ultimately I could not - not without a missing metal bar I used as a lever to break the nuts' torque in the past.

So I walked to the nearby mechanic, who told me to walk even further to reach a tyre shop in Jejawi.

The mechanics drove me home, used their tools to break the nuts' torque and swapped the tyre for the spare so I could drive back to their workshop to buy a brand new undamaged tyre to replace the brand new severely damaged tyre.

Flat tyre

I tried to get things done as quickly as possible so I could make the afternoon class at Sungai Chuchuh.

After five days, a truckload of worries and many hundreds of ringgit (most of which we had to ask for monetary aid) the car crises finally ceased by the time it was-

Thursday

When will the next crisis be? Stay tuned to find out.

 

Force and Destiny Core Rulebook

30 October 2016 | Hisham | | Books, Role Playing Games, Star Wars
 

At first Fantasy Flight Games released the Edge of the Empire rulebook which allowed players to be the scoundrels and smugglers of the galaxy. Then they released the Age of Rebellion rulebook for players to play soldiers and military spies. Finally, their final Star Wars role-playing game (RPG) rulebook is in my hands: Force and Destiny, where players are able to choose from a range of Jedi characters to play.

It had been released for almost two years now, but I was not able to get my hands on it. I was unable to grab it off Amazon because I possess no credit card. Nor was I able to use Paypal to order it from Book Depository because it has been "out of stock" for many months.

On a whim I offered to draw for the book and Erik Jensen on Google Plus accepted. So I drew this for him. And as payment I asked of him the Force and Destiny core rulebook. He sent me more than I bargained for.

It's the book on the left

I might review Keeping the Peace in a later blog post.

From a cursory flipthrough of the book, I believe I can run diverse campaigns, from Tales of the Jedi/The Old Republic era 4000 years ago to a Sith-only games. The setting section of the book mentions Tython, the Great Hyperspace Wars and the Ulic Qel-Droma shenanigans.

It's Endor Leia!

The rules are almost the same as the two books mentioned above, except for Dark Side rules with regards to using the Force Dice. I have not run this system for almost a year and this book is making me want to run it again. I wonder how would I intergrate Force users in the campaign I ran for Irfan, Edged by the Empire, presently on hiatus.

In Widescreen!

One thing is for sure: the artwork in this book is top notch.

Three of the Jedi Careers available

Like the other books, there are six Careers available for players to choose from, all Force slingers, with three specialisations for each Career. Each Career sets a specific role for players and the specialisations allow for them to refine the characters more. The Careers are Consular (with the Healer, Niman Disciple and Sage specialisations), Guardian (Peacekeeper, Protector, Soresu Defender), Mystic (Advisor, Makashi Duelist, Seer), Seeker (Ataru Striker, Hunter, Pathfinder), Sentinel (Artisan, Shadow, Shien Expert) and Warrior (Aggressor, Shii-Cho Knight, Starfighter Ace).

I found it a nice touch that one specialisation in every career uses a term that had been invented earlier in other books.

 

Some Sort of Translation Workshop

28 October 2016 | Hisham | | Recent News
 

Then it came to pass that I have to present a talk at the department's inaugural Basic Translation Workshop. Public speaking is not something that comes to me easily. Despite all the training afforded to be by over 25 years of gamemastering, it still affects me negatively as I was extremely introverted growing up. I did not know whether it felt more harrowing about to give a talk to strangers... or to people I know, such as my fellow workmates here in this case.

The title font is Faktos

After several days burning the midnight oil producing the slides and rehearsing, it was time for me to dive into the deep end of the pool. I was creating new slides less than 30 minutes before the talk was scheduled to begin! And I would not have be able to do it without the help, suggestions and support of my colleagues in our Translation and Language Service Unit.

I have no idea what I'm doing

Naturally because I was the one on point, the presentation just had to involve a couple of Star Wars and Star Trek references as I talked, organised exercises and brief group competitions. After over two hours on my feet - actually another two hours even before we started - I was done! I hoped the participants were able to absorb some of the theories and anecdotes that I shared to help them understand the intricacies of translation between Bahasa Malaysia and English.

I suppose I can do this presentation this again... and give a talk to scary strangers next.

 

Raniq Arae - Jedi Pilot

24 October 2016 | Hisham | | Artwork, Star Wars
 

Erik Jensen commissioned a drawing of his wife - who is a huge Star Wars fan - as a purple lightsabre swinging Jedi who also happens to be an X-wing fighter pilot. Also included is the astromech droid designated BB-2.

Raniq Arae

This is one of the rare instances where I draw an original Star Wars character which is not involved in any RPG campaigns.

 

16th Anniversary Dinner

15 October 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics
 

Tonight is our sixteenth year together as husband and wife, so we took it upon ourselves to go celebrate with a dinner at a eaterie known as MaiCafe. As far as anniversaries were concerned it quite an enjoyable dinner and our second here in Perlis.

16 years after that one time we got married

I have said it once and I will say it again: I am blessed to have Ain beside me as a partner for 16 years. Though we began four years earlier, so this is acutally our 20th anniversary together as a couple.

Irfan also joined the party

Also, where would we all be without the presence of one Irfan Shafiq who is old enough to earn the Legion Flight Ring.

 

Mini Six: Shadows Through The Mist

13 October 2016 | Hisham | | RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games
 

I have always stated that tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) can be amazing teaching tools, not only for language purposes but to develop critical thinking skills, social skills and general knowledge. Yesterday, I finally ran a game in an English for General Purposes class to see the students could be engaged enough for them to communicate with each other and me without being shy.

The players at the table

The horror begins!

The Setup

Seeing that polyhedral dice were rare in these here parts, I thought I would run a game that used the ubiquitous six-sided dice. Thus, AntiPaladin Games' Mini Six was chosen. Besides, the system is based on West End Games' D6 system which runs the Star Wars RPG which I have been familiar with for the last 26 years.

The previous week the students and I had agreed to participate after briefly explaining to them what the game is, how it would be played and what my intentions were. Six of them volunteered to be Player Characters (PCs) while the rest would be able to observe and give suggestions to them as they played. I would become the gamemaster (GM) and pregenerated characters would be provided to the players.

I thought I would create a setting riffing off The Mist and Silent Hill because I had no idea how familiar the students were with genre tropes. A mystery setting with lethal monsters might provide enough motivation for the players.

I also played the video above that I quickly made with OpenShot Video Editor.

Shadows Through the Mist

Episode 1

 

Paperminis: Phase II Clone Troopers

09 October 2016 | Hisham | | Paper Minis, Role Playing Games, Star Wars
 
How many troops is a clone platoon anyway?

I thought I would get the ubiquitous Republic clone troopers from the Clone Wars out of the way before we get swept up by Rogue One fever in the coming months.

Shinies!

These are just standard Phase II armour without any armour decorations. There are ten clone troopers and two clone commanders on the PDF. Everyone has one DC-15 blaster. Here is what you can do: Customise these troopers! Decorate it yourself with coloured markers, and write their name in the box.

Now we're customised!

Go to town on them with a Sharpie.

 

Another Rainy Dinner by the Sea

09 October 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food
 

In the past I have posted an blog article of us having an early dinner along the road by the sea at dusk in Kuala Perlis before. Again, it was raining but this time there was a spectacular sunset on display for us to view.

Langkawi Island held its postion at the horizon

Click on the image above to view the full image. The sun was about to set, although at first thick clouds over Langkawi Island blocked our view of it. Meanwhile the rain fell sporadically in fine droplets that we easily ignored.

Ain faces north

Ain ordered the laksa, which was delicious but apparently not as delicious and rich as Mak Nyang's laksa, a story for another time.

Irfan faces south

Irfan and I ordered the lok chin, which is various seafood and sausages on a stick, roasted over an open fire and dipped in various sauces.