Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ingress Report: Exercise, Levelling, and Building Blobby

Why Ingress?

By now, you pretty much know how much I hate just going outside, enjoying the beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) weather and scenery, and just… walking. Being raised to understand that anything that does not lead directly towards achieving a livelihood is a colossal waste of time, I have a lot of trouble justifying just going for a walk.

Sure, in my head I understand the health benefits, the lower blood sugar, the lower blood pressure, the easier maintenance of a healthier weight, lower stress, reduction of back pain, reduction of the likelihood of a back injury recurring, greater creativity, and greater productivity, but the actual doing? Well, that always seems like I’m not doing anything. So call me human. The thing is, it’s easier to get motivated if I make it fun, so I go outside and play.

How do I justify playing? Well, walking is something I have to do… Trust me, there’s logic in there somewhere, but whatever works, right?

This time, I returned to a walking routine when I got too stressed and tired to write, and wasn’t achieving anything at my desk. I was also grouchy, and couldn’t sleep, and I realised I’d taken a break out of the walking routine for almost two weeks. Something my body didn’t appreciate. The goal is an hour a day, followed by 10,000 steps if I have the time. Either way, the hour is the minimum.

This Week’s Goals

Since I was about 780,000 AP off levelling, I bribed myself with a patch of densely packed portals in a local suburban centre, and the promise of a hefty session of micro-fielding. 260,000 AP later, and I’d managed to work my way out of the centre and start filling in the periphery. I have to admit, while the initial bribe was AP, the most fun I have with Ingress is creating little blue triangles in the ephemera, and then turning the intel map into a colouring guide. The aim, this week, was to get to L15 and see how much of the local suburban centre I could ‘colour in’ before the greens came along and took it all down, again.

How It All Went Down:

Day one saw the centre of the blob, all blued up and ready for expansion. 260,000+ AP in total, with approximately 90,000 from taking down the existing green fields, and 170,000 from bluing up the portals and reinstalling the fields. Day 2 would see it grow.
The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.

The next morning, the fields were still up when I got on the bus to expand my patch of blue, but they were almost all down by the time I arrived, with the portals left strangely white. Yes! I got to do it all again. 190,000 AP later, and I had started expanding the blob.
The third day, the fields stayed up overnight, and another of the local blues started expanding the blob, as well. Now, it really was starting to become fun. I might not see my local team mates a lot, but I like knowing they’re around, and I really like it when they come and add to something I’m doing - or when I get to build on something of theirs. It makes me feel like I’m part of the team, instead of just knowing the team is out there... somewhere…
The third day, I was able to expand my little patch of blue even further, taking out one of the local green L8 portals. There was a second one, nearby, but it would have broken my pattern to take it out before I was ready to field from it, so I left it. A lot more walking occurred in a shorter amount of time, but less AP was earned – only around 85,000. Still, that’s not a bad day’s work. To celebrate, I got off the bus early and took down a field from one of my local walk routes; it had been annoying me all week, but I’d been saving my blasters and power cubes. With what I’d hacked in the last few days, this was no longer a problem – although my resource limits were.
That evening, I had another green take down the core of my blob – logical, given the amount of AP stored there; a third nibbled at the edges; and a fourth took out the local walk portal – also logical as it never stays up long. Why they didn’t bother re-fielding or capturing it, I’m not sure. They’re often weird that way. There were also a couple of ripples by a fifth, but nothing a bit of recharging didn’t fix.
By this stage, I was rapt! I had been wondering what I was going to do to get the final 160,000 AP I needed for levelling, and had mapped out contingencies to extend my blob just a little further into one of the local parks. This is not a hardship; it’s a lovely park. But the weather was looking to storm, so I was worried. If the core of the blob I’d been working on all week stayed down until I could get to it on the fourth day, I’d have a good chance of dodging the bad weather. Otherwise I was going to be one soggy blue by the end of it.
Next morning started off okay. Another local blue took back a half dozen portals at the core of the blob. Awesome! I could build from there. I had Real-Life Adulting to do in the morning, so I broke the routine I’d had of getting into that suburban centre just after 09:00, and went to a completely different burb, instead.
This ended up being a good thing. Those greens had obviously caught on, and were waiting. Now, maybe they weren’t waiting for me to rock up, so they could stop me bluing up the interior, again. Maybe it was just a coincidence they were in the area at all, but I’d never have gotten the fielding done that I needed to do, while they were there, and they’d taken down the baseline I’d planned for the next phase, so I’d have some serious re-jinking to do, if they were anywhere around, and looking to make life difficult.
I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to cheer when your portals start crashing, or laugh, but that was my first reaction – followed by a certain amount of worry that my unwittingly helpful opponents would still be there when I arrived later in the day. This was going to get interesting. Those pesky greens weren’t making it easy. They were making building Blobby downright difficult! Even if the AP was pretty good, and I had most of the keys to get the core back up quickly, expansion was going to have to wait another day. Still, maybe I’d level before I had to call it quits for the afternoon. Family commitments will always trump the game, so I had a pretty tight schedule to keep.
By the time I got there, the greens had taken down almost all my team-mate’s repair job, and seriously dented what was left. It took me just under an hour to set things to rights, and even then, I think I missed a couple of spots on the periphery. Result: One urban centre all blue... again! Newly greened portals, links and fields cleaned up and returned to their proper colour, and 176, 148 AP later and not only had I managed to scrape through to Level 15, but Blobby’s core was back up again.
For the third time this week.
I wonder how long it will take them to take it down…
Two hours, apparently.
For half.
Busy little devils, those greens…
Poor Blobby.
Next time, I’ll try to remember pictures. The fluidity of this game is quite fascinating to watch.

Friday, September 15, 2017

PokemonGo: Still No Raiding for Me (Error 33)

Well, on the upside it looks like Niantic has made some progress on the red-banner error that stops me from raiding. And, while I *still* could not have taken this big fella down on my own, it's a little disappointing that, months after their introduction, I still can't enter raids. Mind you, what a *very* pretty pokemon - and it came to visit not once, but twice in one day. What are the chances of that happening again? <sigh>

So, this is this morning's effort. Notice that I'm still being asked if I want to "rejoin" the battle, when I've never been part of it to start with. I suspect this might be part of the error, but I can't be sure. Anyway, you'll also notice the intriguing (33) at the end of the Error message, and the more detailed message, which is an improvement on the single-word message I used to get.

And this is from the same gym this afternoon. Same error message,but I wasn't quick enough to screen-shot it.I will also note that this is the first time I've been able to catch my pokemon facing off against a raid beast, so that was pretty exciting, too, even if I was errored out straight after each shot.

Like I said, it is a very pretty pokemon. I'm hoping it, and all the others are around by the time this glitch gets fixed.

Babes in London: Act Four, Scene 1B (Part 2: Kew Gardens—In Case of LN7)

If PCs call LN7 for back-up:

LN7 arrives in force, and with back-up. The Girl-with-the-Dog comes straight to the garden and attempts to convince the girls to go with her willingly. She is accompanied by 5 LN7 operatives (2 thelema, and 3 cyphers) whose sole task is to secure the girls if Girl fails to do so. There are other agents nearby, but they hang back unless the children try to escape and the PCs try to assist the children rather than the agency. Anika is very taken aback by their arrival, but will speak with the Girl.

If the Girl makes a successful TH4 Air (Trickery) roll, opposed by Anika’s Earth (Interaction or Trickery) skill, whichever is higher, the Anika agrees to go with LN7, taking Leyila and Lewistrom with them. LN7 allows the PCs to tag along. If the Girl is unsuccessful in her Trickery test, Anika and Leyila try to escape, and the PCs are ordered after them, along with a number of other LN7 operatives. PCs must, at this point, decide if their primary loyalty is to Anika’s Brood, or to LN7, and act accordingly

They can choose to pursue the girls and capture them for LN7, or to foil LN7’s attempts to capture the girls. If they choose the former, they lose the status (and benefits) of the Modern rewards: Friend of Anika Collins/Leyila Andrews, until such time as they do something to redeem themselves in the girls’ eyes. Their actions do not affect their Mythic era status with the brood, however. If they choose to foil LN7, they not only lose any beneficial standing with that group (such as Friend of LN7/Better Friend of LN7/Access to LN7 Library), but they will also be put on a hit list and designated ‘Containment Required’, which earns them entrance into a Containment Required scenario, and means that any future interactions with the group are conducted on a hostile footing—at least, from LN7’s point of view.

If the Girls Agree to go with LN7:

The PCs are allowed to accompany them, and Anika requests this, if the PCs do not think to ask. They are taken to a group of waiting limousines and driven from the gardens to a basement garage in an office block belonging to the agency. Go to Act 5, Scene 3b.

Escape Attempt:

The garden is full of places a child can hide, but it is not able to hide them from LN7s advanced equipment. Attempting to stay in one place, under cover of foliage results in the PCs and the children being surrounded, and captured, as LN7’s snipers find a clear line of fire and dart them, or they are surrounded by an overwhelming force of agents and given the choice of surrender. This can either lead to a fight, or the escapees being darted. The darts contain a powerful soporific and victims wake up in a cell at LN7’s Headquarters. Go to Act 5, Scene 3B, and modify it accordingly.

The childrens’ tactics: Anika is not aware of LN7’s equipment, however, and tries to hide in the foliage. If she sees this is not working, she’ll try to make it to the edge of the garden and the way they came in. This will require 3 rounds of successfully evading LN7’s (or the PCs’) pursuit. The PCs are able to follow the girls, either through the gap in the fence, or over an easily scalable section of the wall. One more round of evading their pursuit is all the girls (and the PCs) require to escape the agency’s clutches and move on to the next part of the adventure. Leyila will do her best to evade capture, also, but will try to trip or hinder agents who look like they are about to capture her friend. Anika is burdened with Lewistrom Beam, and this adds a +2 penalty to any physical tests she must make that require agility or speed. If a PC takes on the burden of Beam, the child adds a +1 penalty to any physical tests the PC must make that require agility or speed.

LN7’s tactics: The agents of LN7 are seasoned veterans when it comes to dealing with supernatural foes. They are equipped with darts that can be used to put targets to sleep for capture, or the usual, lethal rounds. At least three of them have net launchers, which are reserved for the children, unless the PCs are the only ones left free. They are aware that, if they have been ordered to bring the children in, then the children are anomalies and therefore potentially dangerous. However, they are children, and the agents will not use lethal force against them. The same does not apply to the PCs, whom the agents will credit with knowing who and what they are. However, unless the PCs manifest supernatural traits, such as their draconic forms (either in full, or partially), or show an ability to use magic or psychic abilities against them, the agents will try to bring them in alive. LN7 still runs a number of facilities for the study of anomalies, and their understanding is that is often best done when the subject is alive. Alive does not mean uninjured (or that this will remain the case), but it is preferred. This policy, however, does not mean that agents will be put at risk. If the PCs use lethal or supernatural force against them, all bets are off. In this pursuit, the children are the main focus, and PCs who side with them will be treated as distractions and dealt with swiftly to prevent them from hindering the capture. There will always be a core team of five LN7 agents who focus solely on the children, and ignore the PCs, relying on the rest of the team to cover them as they try to achieve their prime objective. The agents acting as cover take 1 round to enter the combat as they have hung back out of sight.

If the PCs are successful in helping the children escape:

Anika leads them through a garage, and several back gardens (via loose boards in fences, or gaps in hedges), until they come to an abandoned potting shed, which she secures after they have all gone in. It’s cramped, but seems safe enough. At this point, she asks the PCs what they think they should do next, who the agents were, and if they know of somewhere safe the children can wait while the PCs rescue their parents. Right now, they all want to go home, and, if the PCs dither too long in deciding, Lewistrom throws a tantrum about wanting his mother. He calms only if they promise to take him to her. At this point, the characters can either return Lewistrom (Act 5, Scene 1); go to Leyila’s parents (Act 5, Scene 2); or attempt to hide the children in their own place (Act 5, Scene 3C). PCs are now designated ‘containment required’, and gain entry into a Containment Required scenario.

If the PCs are successful in helping to capture the children:

Anika regards them with horror at their betrayal, and they lose any Modern day rewards regarding friendship with the girls or the brood, until they redeem themselves. Go to Act 5, Scene 3B, and modify as required.

If the PCs are captured helping the children but the children escape:

The PCs wake up in cells, either beneath an office building that serves as LN7’s London Headquarters, or in a facility elsewhere. How they escape from this facility, where it is, and the nature of its business, is up to the GM—as is how to bring the adventure back on track. (Although reinserting them in Act 6, Scene 1, is always a possibility, should their escape from the facility or LN7’s HQ be successful.) PCs are now designated ‘containment required’. If they escape, they have gained entry into a Containment Required scenario.

If the PCs fail to help the children escape and they are all caught:

Go to Act 5, Scene 3B, and modify as necessary. Note, also, that the PCs have been designated ‘containment required’, and, although LN7 is happy to use them to retrieve Anika’s parents and keep the children happy until the two groups can be separated, they plan to arrest them as soon as LN7 no longer has a use for them being ‘in the wild’. They have gained entry into a Containment Required scenario.

If the PCs fail in their attempts to help capture the children:

They lose any Modern friendship status with the children, and skip most of Act 5. LN7, however, wants them to find Anika’s parents, as their mystics are convinced it is of the greatest importance to winning the children to their side. They are told to do their best to ‘win the children over’, and to convince the families to enter a government-based protection program for their own safety. Go to Act 5, Scene 1, letting PCs choose an option of where to go first. LN7’s preference is Anika’s house, Act 5 Scene1B, although the PCs might have other ideas.

LN7 Agents:

There are two groups of agents the GM will need to track: the ones focussed on the children, and the ones covering them from the PCs’ interference (if there is any). There are 2 thelema adepts and 3 cyphers (all carrying net launchers) focused on the children, and double that for the PCs. (LN7 does not do anything by halves.)

Thelema Adepts

See the Game Master’s Handbook.

Soldier (Cypher)

See the Game Master’s Handbook.

NOTE: This adventure is not sanctioned in any way, shape or form by Fantasy Flight. It is not an official product, and I am in no way affiliated with them or they with me. There is no relationship between us. This adventure is mine, for fun, and for you, because some of you asked me to finish it.

Also, if you like this adventure and want to play it, please go buy the official rulebooks from somewhere where the original creators and publisher of the setting will be paid. I got mine from a Melbourne game store, but I’ve found PDF versions of the Player's Handbook and the Gamemaster's Handbook are now available from DriveThruFiction. If you enjoy their world, this is the best way to thank them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Progress Report: Week 1 September, 2017

Last week saw some significant progress for the first week of September. It also saw a massive change of expected direction, with focus shifting to finding full-time work as opposed to full-time writing. I have four months to turn that around, but I’m a realist; it probably won’t happen. Ironically, that is only going to push me to try and prove myself wrong, but I doubt I can build a liveable wage from my writing in the next four months. The next twelve was a possibility. Once I start working full-time that goal will take a little longer, especially in today’s crowded market. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Week 1 Progress (September 3-9, 2017)

  • New words produced: 9,171
  • Outlines and Notes: 0
  • Works completed: 0
  • Works edited: 0
  • Covers created: 0
  • Works published: 0
  • Works submitted: 0
  • Competitions Entered: 0
  • Bloggery: 1,052
  • University Prep and Assignments: 2,808 (and uncounted hours)

Writing News

Last week saw some shorter works progressed, but a lot of time lost to the first essay, when it became uncooperative. I struggled with it, and, while it will pass, it probably won’t hit my Distinction average. Still, it went over time, and I’m out of time.

June-July Challenge: Babes in London

After a slow start, Babes got some of the loving it deserved and needed, this week, with almost 3,000 new words laid down, and the next five Friday’s worth of entry ready to go. If I can get another five entries done, that will see me through the heavy exam and assessment phase that’s going to hit in five weeks’ time. Ideally, I’m going to try and keep going with laying down the thousand a day I’ve been managing, but we all know what happens when I say that, so let’s not go there, okay? Just keep your fingers crossed, and I will do my best, regardless.

NOTE: This adventure is not sanctioned in any way, shape or form by Fantasy Flight. It is not an official product, and I am in no way affiliated with them or they with me. There is no relationship between us. This adventure is mine, for fun, and for you, because some of you asked me to finish it.

Also, if you like this adventure and want to play it, please go buy the official rulebooks from somewhere where the original creators and publisher of the setting will be paid. I got mine from a Melbourne game store, but I’ve found PDF versions of the Player's Handbook and the Gamemaster's Handbook are now available from DriveThruFiction. If you enjoy their world, this is the best way to thank them.

Ingress Updates

Last week’s Ingress consisted of the barest necessity. For one thing, I still felt sick, for another, I was still horribly behind on my essay and that took priority starting Monday. Yes, I did give myself time off on the weekend, but it was cold and I wasn’t well, so I got to write. This is frustrating given I’m less than 700k of reaching Level 15, and should have made it, but sometimes priorities shift. It’s been a rough week.

PokemonGo Updates

PokemonGo suffered the same fate as Ingress, although I did manage to do more catching than usual, always on the fly, and mostly without breaking stride.

Priorities for Week 2, September 10-16, 2017

This week’s priorities are as follows:
  • Finalise the second essay for university – it’s due next week;
  • Maintain 1,000 words a day on Babes, and, hopefully, get the blog entries for it complete through to November;
  • Create the cover for the Young Adult Science Fiction novel, Army Boots and Stilettos;
  • Edit Army Boots and Stilettos;
  • Upload Army Boots and Stilettos for pre-order.