Allie's 2 Month Birthday

27 September 2008 | sila | | Family Pics

We can't hardly believe it, but time has flown and last Monday, Allie was 2 months old! Here's what she did on her 2 month birthday:

* Mouse over pictures for captions

She started the morning strolling around with her Daddy and Lily took a ride too. Mak got to sleep a little extra while this happened. 

Strolling with Lily

Oh, Snap!

27 September 2008 | Hisham | | Comics, Humour, Star Wars

My old Boba Fett figure and Irfan's new Hulk figure act out the final fate of the galaxy's most feared bounty hunter.

I've got a bad feeling about th- SMASH!

Teaching Kids to Roleplay is Only Natural

25 September 2008 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Trawling The Net

I have been GMing some very simple scenarios with Irfan. Mostly it's been dungeon crawls through caves with traps and obstacles, trying to find his way out. Today I read this article from Geekdad written by Daniel Donaho, which has some ideas in how to make things more interesting when playing with children.

Here's an excerpt:

The Early Years (4 – 7 years)

Is four-years-old too young to play an RPG? Not if you have a couple of older children (say 6 or 7) play with. Of course, if you want children to abide by all the rules exactly and have a detailed knowledge of movement and encumbrance rates and initiative then you are setting yourself and the kids up for failure and a pretty uninspiring time.

The focus at this age should be on the “role-playing”, rather than “roll-playing”. Gary's polyhedrons and then some

You need a game that will take anywhere from 20 – 60 min. It should have a clear and simple narrative. Young children really grasp the idea of a linear story and strong characters. So, rescuing someone or something, or climbing to the top of a mountain. These things make sense and are interesting goals for young children (as long as you throw a few encounters along the way). This age group also responds well to using miniatures. They find it easier to role-play characters they can see. Though, they can do it with paper and pencils around a table, but they prefer to have a representation of their character.

For this reason, sometimes it is good to get them to draw their character. Also, no matter what the game as them to choose three words to describe their character and explain they have to act like their character. Sometimes you get words like “red”, but to see a child role-play “red” can be a very comical experience.

Like I said, be flexible around the rules. That said, it is amazing how quickly children this age picked up on the idea that rolling the dice was crucial to an outcome. So they’d say, “I attack him, where are the dice?” without drawing breath. Only in the beginning will they need to be reminded to roll. They pick it up quickly. Now, surely developing an appreciation for the dice is a fine achievement and a valuable lesson for any future role-players.

Keys to RPGing with 4 – 7 year-olds

  • The story - Focus on a clear linear narrative
  • The characters – Great to have miniatures, or pictures of characters
  • The Rules – Keep them simple, don’t worry about them too much. But, introduce the concept of rolling the dice helps to produce an outcome (either positive or negative)

 With regards to the final line of the quote above, my rules with Irfan are pretty simple. Roll 2d6 to beat the target number. An easy task is 4, moderate 5 and difficult 6. He enjoys it enough to draw out the maps of the cave in advance, then call me in to GM him. I can't wait for him to start playing Star Wars or GURPS or investigating the latest shenanigans of Nyarlathotep.


Six Years Old Today

21 September 2008 | Hisham | | Family Pics

It's September 21st again and once more it's time for Irfan's birthday.

Wearing his Iron Man t-shirt a gift from Ayah Cik, he greeted the arrival of his cousin Aiman (as well as Aiman's parents) with whom he immediately shared his cache of toys. Aiman was overwhelmed by the amount of Hot Wheels collected by Irfan over the years, which Ain had recently kept in a single plastic container. While the kids were playing at (and making a mess of)the living room, Ain was busy in the kitchen producing food, food and more food.

Is that a Mark Bagley artwork?

Above: Atok and Opah Irfan weren't able to come ('cause I wrecked their car) but, they've prepared in advance with this awesome Spider-Man birthday card.

Aiman prepares to eat cake

Above: Aiman claps his hand - mostly because of other people prompting him by clapping their hands.


Smiles for the weekend

20 September 2008 | sila | | Family Pics

Just a couple of pictures to brighten the weekend :-). She was caught smiling on video and I just captured a couple of stills.

Wide smile
Cheeky charmer

The smiles are for you, Dale.


In Ike's Path

20 September 2008 | sila | | Recent News

You've all heard about Ike and the devastation it wreaked in Texas and other places. Well, Ike came through here last Sunday. It was very strange - bright sunny day, and huge wind gusts. We lost power around 2 or 3 PM, and when my wireless router finally conked out after the TV and all other appliances died, we felt totally cut off from the world. Never mind that we still had the phone and the cell phones. It just felt so weird. Luckily Vin has a little battery operated transistor radio - we caught the end of the Reds game (very windy there too!) and then at the post-game program, heard that over 700,000 Duke Energy customer had lost power. That translated to about 1.5 million people in the Greater Cincinnati area without electricity. Also that the wind gusts translated to a Category 1 hurricane, basically. Can you imagine how strong Ike was, to have blown through Texas and come up this far north and STILL be such a force? Downed trees and tree limbs everywhere. Debris in our yard. Luckily, the trees in the yard stood strong - only the dead branches came flying off. The neighbors across the street had a big branch almost blown off - cracked horribly in the wind. Same kind of tree that we have, too (don't ask me the name of the tree, I don't know).

It depressed me to no end as they projected that it might take days before power was restored. It really hit home that every single appliance in this house, from the stove, the oven, the kettle, the heating and a/c - ALL electricity! We worried about the food in the fridge, did we have enough water, etc. And of course, we have a new little baby who might need things. Rechargeable batteries does no one any good if we can't recharge them and they run out of juice.

Lily was at first by the back sliding door trying to attack the blowing leaves (see the video), but as the wind picked up and other debris was being blown about back there, even she was scared away from the door and she remained safely in the middle of the room rather than by the windows.

Anyway, we were the lucky few customers who got their power restored - came back around 11 PM on Sunday night. We cheered (we were in the bedroom but still awake - did I mention we have a little baby whose schedule we bow to?). As of today, there are still people without electricity in the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area!

Take a look at the leaves swirling in the back here - keep in mind this was not the hardest the wind would blow that day:

* click on the image to launch the movie

Not a Pizza Hut ad

Wishing everyone affected by Hurricane Ike all the best, especially to those still without power here locally, as well as those who were really in its devastating path in Galveston and Houston.


Some Allie Firsts

16 September 2008 | sila | | Family Pics

Allie is 8 weeks old today! See her enjoying the mobile in her cradle this morning! She looks at the animals intently and occasionally tries to squirm onto her belly (which she still can't do on her own steam, but she can turn herself onto her side). Happy first 8 weeks, Allie!

First 8 weeks

Winging Home

05 September 2008 | sila | | Family Pics

A little over 24 hours ago, we said goodbye to Tok and Opah at the airport. Hard to believe that 2 months have passed. And Allie is now 6 weeks and 2 days old. Tok and Opah helped us so much, not just with Allie, but with everything else that we had to cope with.

At the airport
Sleeping soundly

Shenanigans on Christophsis and Teth - A Clone Wars Review

04 September 2008 | Hisham | | Movie Review, Star Wars, The Clone Wars Review

The CIC of the Spirit of the Republic
I finally saw Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The short version of it is this:

I went in expecting three episodes of a Saturday morning cartoon series jury-rigged and strung together to form a 90 minute movie. And I got what I want and a bit more. I loved it. If you didn't already know, the movie is actually that: three episodes of the cartoon spliced together for a theatrical showing after George Lucas saw the episodes on the big screen during meetings with the production team. And I can't wait for further episodes.

The story is nothing heavy or dramatic. Amongst the many battles of the the Clone Wars, Rotta the Hutt, Jabba's infant son has been abducted and the Jedi assigns Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to investigate, pick up the trail and return the Huttlet back to its parent. In return, the Grand Army of the Republic would be allowed easy access through Hutt Space, which would allow better movement of troops and asset from the Core to the Outer Rim. However, the Confederacy of Indepedent Systems (a.k.a. the Separatists) will not make it easy for Kenobi and Skywalker to do so.

Generals Skywalker and Kenobi at Christophsis
The story takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Let's be a bit more precise. Based on Anakin's hair length and his lack of a padawan braid, I'd say the series / movie takes place between Chapter 21 (where Anakin loses his padawan braid) and Chapter 22 (the events prior to the mission to Nelvaan) of Gennady Tartakovsky's Clone Wars microseries.

And to be even more precise, their onscreen misadventures also take place some time after the comics Star Wars Republic #67 "Forever Young" where the clone troopers still wore the Phase I armour at Zaadja. However, Anakin gets his scar from Asajj Ventress (who also makes an appearance in this movie) in Star Wars Republic #71 "Dreadnaughts of Rendili Part 3" when the Phase II armour (the Revenge of the Sith clone armours) have been long in use. So I'm guessing the troops serving with Kenobi and Skywalker were some of the last to switch over to the new suits. We also see reconnaissaince troops wearing a camouflaged scout variation of the Phase II armour like Commander Gree's aide on Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith.

Warning! Spoilers are dropping out of hyperspace beyond this point.


I Want To Play In This Campaign

03 September 2008 | Hisham | | Comics, Humour, Role Playing Games, Trawling The Net

PVP Online's latest comic regales us with a description of one of the greatest ideas for an RPG campaign.

Click on the thumbnail to the right to read the entire strip, and to see what I'm talking about.

I believe I'd very much like to play Jesse Mach of Street Hawk in that campaign.

Anyone else willing to be Stringfellow Hawke, B.J McKay, Sheriff Lobo and Colt Seavers travelling the country to thwart the evil plans of an evil Mr. Belvedere? We'd have the Street Hawk, Airwolf and Sheriff Lobo's police cruiser poisitioned inside B.J. McKay's 18-wheeler, ready to be deployed at a moment's notice, like The Highwayman series.

We'll be fighting wave after wave of Melmackian troops led by Gordon "ALF" Shumway, under the direct command of Mr. Belvedere's lieutenant Arnold of Diff'rent Strokes.

"Whatchoo talkin' about, ALF?"

You know you want to play this.