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No Such Thing as Too Much Information

Fun-Hating, Pugnacious Misanthrope

[sticky post]I've moved!
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I'll probably still post here from time to time, but that's going to be my main place now

Chapter Opening Paragraphs - Feedback Requested
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Is this good?
I've never written a near-death before.

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Why Plan For Encores?
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As many of you know by now, in June of 2007 I was diagnosed with an Oligodendroglioma.

Many experts believe that oligodendrogliomas are ultimately incurable. "Incurable." They don't really toss that word around very often.

Every treatment I've had for this particular tumor, from surgery, to chemotherapy, to radiation, has not been to cure me of this ailment, it has just been to stop it from killing me any faster.

The average survival rate these days is around fifteen years (often less).

2007 + 15 = 2022. It is currently 2012.

So, at the time of this writing, I have about ten years to go on the most optimistic projection (the 15 years above).

By 2022, I will be forty three years old.

I'm going to live as though that is my final curtain. My final curtain may very well come sooner - I've had more recurrences than my doctors have expected, and there's always chance accidents.

Of course, there's the chance that medical science will find new, better treatments.

And so after my final curtain, there may be encores.

But why plan for encores?
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please help with my writing
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Okay. Here's my situation:

Eric is visiting Antonio. Antonio is his great uncle, but is functionally his grandfather.

It is July 4 in the mid-2000s. It is also southern california, pretty much in the LA area.

Eric is staying in the guest room. He's relatively comfortable with this house, having grown up in it until he was 4, then visiting every Thanksgiving after that.

TODAY, he stumbles across an old diary, that belonged to his now-deceased mother. It has not been seen in roughly 25 years. It's been purposefully hidden.

I specifically do NOT want Eric to, say, be digging through an attic/basement/storage room looking for old family records or keepsakes. I want him to stumble upon it through some seemingly-odd coincidence.

I need a good, not-too-contrived approach to make this happen.

more reaction system
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So, here's the dice mechanic:


Count the number of dice that come up '1'. These are your 'successes'. The more of these, the better.

Look for the highest valued die. This is your 'quality'. This is the WOW factor. The larger, the better.

THEREFORE, you want dice that will roll 1s, but you also want dice that have the ability to get high numbers.


NOTE: successes count first; getting something done matters more than the WOW factor.

The mechanical role of 'quality' is as yet unexplored. I'm hoping this will be mechanics-emergent design, as Fastlane was.


So, adapting the hierarchy divisions I established earlier, we have:

* Experience

Part of what I called 'Training' last time. Experience is actual experience in whatever the action is.

Experience is a d4. This means that 25% of all experience dice will count towards successes. This also means that the highest quality is 4. Simple experience is unlikely to create something that's "WOW.

* Knowledge

The other part of what I called 'Training' last time. Knowledge is just general knowledge related to whatever the action is.

Knowledge is a d6. This means that 16% of all knowledge dice will count towards successes.
Since it is a larger die, it has a chance to give more insight than simple experience, meaning a larger chance of a "WOW".

* Entanglements

This covers 'connections' as I described before - this can be a relationship to a person, or to a place, or to a signature item.

Entanglements are a d8. If you're relying on your relationship to something, it's not very likely to help you succeed in a task (12.5% per die) but your passion and connection can inspire you to something of higher quality.

* Talents

As before - sometimes people are born with a gift or other sort of natural inclination towards something. (Or, perhaps these are bestowed.)

Talents are a d12. They're not very likely to help you succeed (8%) but they are very likely to add to a WOW factor.

(of course someone with talent in a certain task eventually accrues knowledge and experience at that task... and certainly is more prone to succeed than a talentless person, all else being equal)

* Aspects

Umbrella-traits. These can be general lifestyle traits, or "bigger" versions of the other categories. These are pretty much identity traits, or theme traits.

Aspects are a d20. Again, not very likely to help you succeed (5%) but also likely to contribute to the WOW factor, so high qualities are likely here.


Various traits can exist under any of these categories. Let's create a painter.

Among OTHER traits our painter might have, our painter has something along the lines of:

Experience at painting (4) = 4d4
Knowledge of art (6) = 6d6
A favorite painting studio, or tools, or something (5) = 5d8
He is gifted at art (2) = 2d12
And of course, he is an ARTIST (1) = 1d20

So... when our painter tries to make a painting, they walks into his studio, or picks up the beloved tools, or whatever... and grabs:

4d4, 6d6, 5d8, 2d12 and 1d20 and rolls them. Our painter then looks for 1s, which communicate success. And then the highest number indicates the quality.

(# of successes, and quality, are then compared to numbers that come from the GM, or from elsewhere in the system...)

Obviously, the average character is going to be more multifaceted than this example. Also the numbers I used are completely arbitrary. I don't know if this is meant to be an amazing painter, or a terrible painter!

I'm still exploring that, so please keep that in mind. These numbers are not meant to be any sort of baseline for "normal" characters or anything like that.

reaction system redux
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This is not a life philosophy. This is just an attempt to get a structure down for a game.

That said, I'm hoping it at least makes some sort of sense. This is meant to be in some sort of hierarchy.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Obviously no game can be universal for every philosophy, but I'd like to hear any observations.

These are just working names.


Training/knowledge is important. All else being equal, a well-trained individual will put forth consistently successful work in the face of day-to-day challenges. It won't necessarily be 'AMAZING' but that's not really the goal.


Tools are good. All else being equal, someone with a good tool can put forth something ALMOST as good as someone with training. And someone with training tends to be better with proper tools.


Here we dive into the narrative side of things. Doing something FOR (or against) someone will not necessarily make you more successful, but can certainly make your successes more spectacular.

drama! angst!


Sometimes people are just born with a gift. Their gift, in and of itself, is sort of worthless. If you're great at math, but nobody ever bothers to teach you even the basics of math... you might occasionally come up with something brilliant (or more than occasionally, depending on exactly how talented you are)

but this sort of brilliance is excellent when combined with training, tools, etc. and in combination with them, will make it more likely to achieve 'AMAZING'.


Aspects are sort of like umbrella-traits. They can cover a lot of areas. But they're less likely to create a success than any of the other categories. But when they show up, they shine.


the idea is that you can pick no more than ONE THING from each category.

So at the very least, if you want someone "good at" what they do, you want to give them a lot of training, and a lot of talent, and maybe an aspect or two that might cover the situations you want them to shine in.

Birthday People
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A few weeks ago, my birthday passed. I'm now 33. Most of the observances were simple low-key well wishes with the same level of subtlety as a facebook wall posting (and many of them WERE facebook wall postings). This pleased me, as I don't really like birthdays.

Mostly it's because I don't like Birthday People.

Birthdays seem to turn people into horrible mockeries of themselves. The absolute sense of entitlement is the worst part - since it is their birthday, the world should revolve around them. They should get the gifts (and the rest of us are horrible people if we didn't get them anything), if we're playing games they should be allowed to be the victor (yes, this has happened on multiple occasions), we should participate in whatever activity they want. It's often an accepted abusive part of a relationship - "you don't want to celebrate my birthday, therefore you don't love/like/etc. me"

But the worst part is when people get entitled about MY birthday. "But, it's your birthday, therefore I should be allowed to demand your attention and time so I can celebrate it how I wish." My younger brother pretty much war-dialed me while I was at work until I was forced to turn my phone off. A friend baked goodies for me and then acted offended that I didn't want to celebrate my birthday with said baked goods - and attempted to both guilt and bully me into making the celebration. Since then, I've decided to stop hanging out with her, at least until enough time has passed since my birthday that I can trust her to NOT make the next time we spend time together into an obnoxious birthday to-do.

So, you Birthday People - please actually respect the wishes of those of us who would rather not observe birthdays, especially our own.
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Just got the call. Sounds like the initial blood test was some sort of false positive,and I'm back to normal.

I feel a bizarre mix of relief and disappointment.
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Cancer Redux
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Pretty much at 4:45pm on Friday, January 28, I got a call from my regular oncologist (I have two, one's just for my brain). He wants to see me again in a month.

I wasn't supposed to see him for six months. Things were supposed to be clear.

Some of my blood work came back uncomfortably positive. Effectively in the red zone. Specifically, this was the [Alpha-fetoprotein][]. This protein is most common in fetuses and, as a result, in pregnant women.

There are other possibilities, mostly cancer-related, some liver related (cirrhosis, hepatitis). None of these are good.

As a reminder, for those who don't remember, or who don't know:

In June of 2007, I was diagnosed with an [oligodendroglioma][], which eventually necessitated the removal of a goodly portion of my left frontal lobe. I had two brain surgeries in 2007, one in June, the other in December.

In December of 2007, I was also diagnosed with [Testicular Cancer][]. This eventually necessitated the removal of my right testicle.

Yes, these two cancers were completely separate instances. They just happened within six months of each other.

In 2008 it was discovered that the testicular cancer had spread throughout my body. I eventually went on a course of Bleomycin, Etoposide and cisplatin (BEP), a form of chemotherapy. The 'standard' for BEP is four cycles. My doctor decided things were advanced enough that I needed six.

Most of this was done outpatient. In the end, I wound up being hospitalized as a direct result of the treatment from BEP, and we stopped halfway through cycle six. In the end, I was pretty much pronounced clean, though there were a few concerning growths in my lymph nodes.

ALSO during BEP, my brain tumor grew back. Seriously, that blood/brain barrier is a problem. So I had another brain surgery (third time!).

So, in 2009, I had two more surgeries to remove the lymph nodes mentioned earlier, and also went through a radiation treatment on my brain, to stop it from growing back.

I was on disability (SSD) for most of 2009 and 2010 before I finally found employment.

Then I merrily went through life, as both cancers seemed to be in remission. Still went to doctors just for check-ups, but things looked like smooth sailing. Of course, that's how it is. See for a good illustration.

So, last year (2011) I go to my brain doctors for what has become a routine check-up. Things are moving apace, I'm almost out of the woods, and then suddenly, looks like the tumor's back.

Fourth brain surgery was in May of 2011.

Because of my brain tumor's stubborn recurrence, my brain doctors decided to put me on a course of "preventive" chemotherapy with a drug called [Temodar][].

The way my treatment with Temodar is scheduled, I take it for five days every twenty eight. I'm supposed to keep doing this until May of 2012 (effectively, a 12 month course of treatment). Every two months, I get an MRI. Every month, I also get blood tests to make sure I'm healthy enough to continue.

Luckily, this was not going to be anything like BEP, and theoretically I could work while taking it. For the first few months, this was true. But around November it started hitting me hard. (Conveniently, this was around the time of Thanksgiving... and then 28 days later, the Christmas holidays, so at least I didn't have to worry about burning off too much sick time).

Of course, now I'm at negative sick time, and am on their short-term disability.

But what about the OTHER cancer? I was on an every-six-month visit with my oncologist. Next year, I would have been free. One of those visits was on Wednesday (25 Jan 2012). It took two days for the AFP bloodwork to get to his office.

So, the next step is to get another blood test, "just in case." Then I'll see him again. Honestly, the chances of it being a laboratory screw-up are low. If this was not something to be concerned about, he wouldn't have called me especially to move up the visit that should have happened in June to February.

Blood test is going to happen on Feb 6. I'm supposed to call the doctor's office after that point to make an appointment.

Yes, there's a "chance" that this smoke hasn't led to fire, so to speak. But there's also a chance that if I buy a Powerball ticket, I will get the jackpot. But since there's a chance, I'm not crying wolf just yet.

A person can only take so much of this.
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The Social Underground
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So, in a few cities now I have attempted to build this mythical structure called 'a social life.' I seem to have gotten the first steps down pretty well: attend some sort of public gathering (, comedy shows, open mics, game nights, etc.) There, I wind up meeting individuals, and befriending them.

So far, so good, yes?

But then there's some sort of halt. Occasionally, these individuals mention that they were 'hanging out the other day' (whatever this other day is, it is NOT one othat had an open/community/public event). So it appears as though there's some sort of back-room deals occurring for MORE social contact.

And I have no idea how to get into that particular world.

So I wind up at home. When I go to the public gatherings people say they miss me. But I'm never let into these back rooms, and as such, the 'welcome' doesn't feel so welcome...

What the hell is the trick to get into these backroom social deals?

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