Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Leaving Las Goblinworks, and perceptive mammoths

This week, some professional news: I have given my notice at Goblinworks, and am soon to be an ex-Goblin. I leave Goblinworks and Pathfinder Online with no small regret; it’s a good crew, and I’m very enthusiastic about the game they’re putting together. My only complaint is the fact that my commute up to Redmond averages about 80 minutes one-way. It’s a pretty drive, but I am finding it harder and harder to give away 2-1/2 hours a day that I could be spending on my writing or on Sasquatch games. I have several big, exciting writing projects that I haven’t been able to find the time to start, so I’m going to make the time and give it my best shot.

So, just to reiterate: It’s my idea, we’re parting amicably, and mostly it’s about the really inconvenient commute. I’ve agreed to make myself available to Ryan and the gang if they need any writing or design support I can offer in a remote contracting role.
(Oh, and I’ll add that I am leaving the Emerald Spire superadventure in decent shape. Coordinating fifteen other authors, writing my section, developing the levels as they come in, and making sure the levels talk to each other has been a big part of my time over the last few months. I finished up my Emerald Spire work, and it’s now moving into the capable hands of the Paizo development and editing teams. I wanted to make sure I was happy with it before I hit the road.)

It’s definitely a little scary to step out of a paying gig in the hope that I’m going to light a rocket under my writing career or Sasquatch is going to take off and do big things. (Well, we already have, kind of. More bigger things, I guess.) So, stay tuned, and I’ll see what I can do!

Gaming: I’ve been building a lot of Pathfinder monsters lately. In general, I’m pretty happy with 3.5 era monster creation, especially with the very helpful target numbers Pathfinder presents in its Bestiary monster-building appendices. But man, I wish I wasn’t assigning skill points to dumb monsters with lots of Hit Dice. It’s my fault, at least in part, since I worked on the 3.5 Monster Manual and I standardized the feat and skill point rules to work off HD like they do for characters. But just yesterday evening I was building a mammoth for Primeval Thule, and shaking my head over the +20 Perception score it has compared to the eagle with a +6 Perception score. Yeah, you can cheat that with a hefty racial modifier, but still… should a mammoth really have a great Perception?
I mean, I feel like a 1st-level ranger ought to be able to sneak up on a mammoth, because nothing about “mammoth” suggests that it should be any more perceptive than, say, a housecat. Or a flamingo. Or an alert iguana. The only reason a mammoth should have a high Perception score is because it’s a CR 10 monster, give or take, and to make the interaction with a PC of the appropriate level interesting, it needs a high score. But I guess I’m a simulationist at heart, because I’m OK with saying that a 10th-level ranger *shouldn’t* be tested by sneaking around without being noticed by a mammoth. It would be OK in my D&D world if you could sneak up on mammoths all you want.

I don’t really have a good patch to suggest for this, other than not putting all the mammoth’s skill points into Perception. Maybe D&D Next can finally fix this.

Politics/Current Events: One observation… my personal Obamacare experience is that my insurance is going to get about $210 more expensive every month. That’s how much the cost of my family’s insurance plan increases as of January 1st. Because I’m now a self-employed type, I have to buy individual insurance, and that’s where matters stand. Well, I guess I am keeping my doctor, and I guess I am keeping my insurance that I don’t actively dislike, so Obama got something right back when he was stumping for the ACA. But somehow my insurance got $2500 *more* expensive per year instead of *less* expensive.
Longtime readers will not be surprised to learn that I am, in fact, not surprised. Anybody out there experiencing even a tiny little bit of buyer’s regret yet? I didn't vote for this turkey, so somebody who did owes me $200 a month.

The Finer Things: The Pirates made it to the postseason!  And even though the Cardinals handled them pretty easily in today’s Game 5, I was still happy to see the Pirates playing October baseball. It was really something else to see that beautiful park in downtown Pittsburgh filled with fans in black and gold. That franchise wandered in the wilderness for a very long time indeed—twenty straight years of losing seasons, which is almost Phillies-esque in its organizational futility. (I’m referring to the Phillies’ generally horrible ancient history, as opposed to the great stretch they enjoyed from 2003 to 2011.) Anyway, this isn’t the Pirates’ year to play deep into October… but it’s awesome to see the Pirates back. They paid their dues, and they deserve it.