Yeasts and Gaming and Why I Wish There Was 30 Hours in the Day

Well, there are things that are new, but I’m trying to stem the tide of crap and use my blog to talk about things either neat and shiny, or interesting and cool, or personal-but-not-complainy.

So anyway, let’s see. Coming home to find the Bavarian Weizen I’m got brewing is cool. It’s pretty encouraging because it’s actually bubbling like crazy now. It took about 40 hours to start up, but now it’s going well.I’ll probably try to pitch a second wheat beer, same approximate grist but slightly different hopping, onto the yeast cake and build it up a little more, when I transfer this batch to the keg. (Which I’ll probably be able to do on the weekend.) I’m looking forward to seeing how the flavour comes out, since it’s supposed to have a fruitier character than other German wheat beers (and a little vanilla thrown in) but I’m fermenting it a bit low in the temperature range (because the powers that be have decided we no longer need heat… even if it makes for very chilly nights indoors).

Er, but anyway, I wasn’t going to bitch here.

The other interesting thing is that I’ve been finding myself drawn towards gaming again. I think it’s part of a desire I am feeling now to insist on better partitioning of my time. I used to spend a lot of my free time (when not working on writing, or, unfortunately, instead of working on my writing) doing work stuff. I’ve slowed down a little on the homework I assign, but I’ve also slowed down more on the speed of my grading, so that now, at the end of week six, in one of my classes I’m just handing back the last month’s worth of work. I don’t like that, but at the same time, I guess I am also coming to terms with the fact that 4 classes is not a light classload, and that one cannot just spend all his time grading.

So anyway, I’ve been leafing through various RPG books I have, or have been given by friends, or whatever. The White Wolf games are the most familiar to me, though I have never played second-edition World of Darkness. I was a devoted GM of Wraith: The Oblivion back in my undergrad days, but when I moved from Montreal to Korea, the shipment of RPG books sent to my parents’ place got lost, so my Wraith collection (of almost all the books in the series) disappeared. I did pick up the Orpheus series, which seems more like what I did with Wraith anyway–more “living” characters than ghosts, and a kind of conspiracyish ghostbustery kind of arc. I’m not sure whether I’d want to run the game, though, and I’ve been looking at the more recent (2009) World of Darkness ghost-centric Geist: The Sin Eaters game with the kind of interest that makes me want to try the game sometime.

Of course, I don’t know if I actually know enough people I’d want to play with to try it. I know one former gamer who would be up for it, I think. I know one “geek” who might be willing to try. Miss Jiwaku might be interested. But I don’t know, I’d kind of want a few more players, I think. Of course, there are English-language gaming groups in Seoul, and I could try joining one of those, though to be honest, I’ve always preferred GMing to playing.

Secondly, as Miss Jiwaku pointed out, if I started gaming again, my time for writing would diminish a little. Maybe not a lot… I suppose it would depend how much time I would spend prepping for games. (I assume I would be GMing.) I’m at the point where I need to do some serious time on my writing, especially if my plans for the next year or two are to bear fruit. Gaming might be a drain on that time, especially if we did it semi-regularly. (Like, I’m thinking, every second week.)

Thirdly, I’m thinking I might try start up a brewing club on campus. That’d be a way of getting young people interested in brewing, developing some more taste for good beer in Korea, and so on. I’m not sure whether we could get a space to brew in, though, or a space in which to store our carboys and buckets and kegs and grain. Even getting a tiny little room seems to be pretty difficult. So it probably won’t happen. Which is a pity.

Anyway, I still enjoy leafing through the gaming books, and I can imagine there will be a time when I will have enough free time to really start a game and play it and really enjoy that side of my geekhood again. I would absolutely love to run a Dark Ages game of some kind, set, say, in 12th century Occitan. Or during the 1920s, in New York City. I have a pretty bizarre Steampunk world I’ve been exploring in some stories I’ve written over the last few months, which I think would make a cool RPG setting.

I suspect it won’t happen now, but maybe, just maybe, if I end up having the operation on my ankles that I want to have this weekend, I’ll be “out of commission” in terms of wandering around, going out to events, and so on. That would leave me with enough free time and so on to get a short-term game set up and running, for the summer at least. We’ll see. It’d be fun, but not as fun as traveling. Hm. The kicker will be whether I’ll be able to run games the way my old GM back in undergrad (the guy who introduced me to White Wolf games) used to do: he would have a general plot, and was great at improvising stuff where I used to have to plan a lot ahead of time… which was time-consuming, and which I’d prefer not to have to do now.

We’ll see. It’d be interesting, a change of pace, and, I think, I’d probably learn a few more things about storytelling as well as be inspired to address some other areas of my writing that I maybe don’t realize I could be developing further. I guess it will depend on how my summer plans shape up, and whether I can find enough people to play a game.

By the way, I’ve also been looking over the Spirit of the Century game, which seems to be more about that kind of flexibility, with its focus on “pick-up” games… games you can pick up and run without much preparation. Not sure if I’m totally the pulp gamer type — I like dark, ghost-centric RPG — but it’d be an experience.

8 thoughts on “Yeasts and Gaming and Why I Wish There Was 30 Hours in the Day

  1. Spirit of the Century is a great game, especially for pick up games. (The engine’s also been adapted to SF and Fantasy.) Lots of fun. I’ve heard good things about Risus (sp?), Wushu, and Barbarians of Lemuria for the same reasons.

    There are a few Dark Ages games floating around (Chaosium has put out at least two of them). I brought a copy of Cthulhu Dark Ages back with me from the states (along with the rules for some iteration of the Elric RPG).

    Yeah, I’m guilty too when it comes to flipping through the rules and thinking of the sweet sound of tumbling funny-shaped dice. I’ve actually coerced some friends into starting up a play-by-chat D&D game. We’ll see how that goes.

  2. Justin,

    Cool, I will continue looking into Spirit of the Century.

    The only Dark Ages game I’ve seen, to be honest, was the old Vampire: The Dark Ages one. I’ve never actually looked into a Chaosium game, though I remember them constantly advertising Call of Cthulhu in Dragon magazine. (The other ad I remember was the one for Talislanta that had the phrase “No Elves!”… all of Talislanta is available online for free (though IP is still retained by the owner), by the way… huh. Never actually looked at it, just noticed when I was googling for the name of the game.)

    I’ve never RPGed on a chat, but I did play PBeM (Play By email) for a while, in a couple of games. When I was a player, it was cool except that the rounds took a long time. (That was my first experience, and a friend was running it.) Later, a friend of mine and I ran a game we called Stellar Region, which was more like a group storytelling exercise in some ways — no dice or anything involved. We played for a year and got through about two days of action at most… maybe less. Which is to say eMail’s not a good medium for turn-based gaming.

    I have thought about trying out De Profundis with a few people, sometime… mostly people like me who would like to do some gaming, but can’t seem to make time or find people around to do it with. It seems to be designed for playing at a distance, via correspondence.

  3. I downloaded and read some of that Talislanta stuff when I was in the boonies last year.

    I’m hoping with the chat game that by using something everyone is familiar with (Basic D&D) we can get through an adventure in one or two sessions.

    Hadn’t heard of De Profundis. It looks like it’d be creepy fun. Have you heard of the Baron Munchausen Game? I saw some older gentlemen play it at a con once and it was fun to watch as it was for them to play. Plus it lists fine alcoholic beverages as one of its play requirements.

  4. Justin,

    What did you think of Talislanta? I haven’t looked at anything yet, but I heard it was popular back in the day.

    I agree that a familiar system is necessary for online gaming… that, or something very open-ended. One of the problems with some of the cooler game settings (like, for me, Orpheus or Engel or some of the Cthulhu stuff) is that a lot of my potential players won’t have a good sense of the world, or likely tropes. (Especially in a mixed group with Korean players.)

    I definitely am interested in trying some De Profundis, maybe while I’m on holiday this summer. I’ll let you know if I start something.

    Baron Munchausen looks like fun! Another of those games that, you know, puts storytelling front and center. :) I think it’s the kind of thing that could be done by correspondence as well.

    Anyway… I do miss gaming, even if, when I stop and think about it, there are things I don’t miss. Like rules lawyers, and so on. Hmmm. Still… I miss it.

    It just struck me that the guy who reintroduced me to gaming as an adult (he was a White Wolf guy) is also the person who first introduced me to homebrewing. I never got to taste his beer — we parted ways long before his first batches were done, and I didn’t drink in those days anyway — but I vividly remember him showing me a bucket of fermenting beer in his closet… and my wondering whether it might explode.

    Makes me wonder what I’d be brewing now, if I had tasted his beers back then. Then again, maybe they were terrible! ;)

  5. Talislanta was fun to read, but as written I’d hate to game in it. It’s one of those settings like Tekumel and Jorune that seems more alien than it needs to be. It was hard to get a grasp on the world. That said, there was fun stuff in the setting worthy of stealing/being inspired by, and it tried to evoke Jack Vance and Clark Ashton Smith, so I had to respect that.

    Riffing on De Profundis, some friends and I created a wiki for a “lost world” where we all played the part of historians writing an encyclopedia about a new continent. Each entry needed to link to at least one other entry, either an existing one or one yet to be written. As with most gaming there was the initial burst of creativity followed by the slow dwindling of interest. Still when I reread it, I’m often amused and a little bit impressed by all the bits.

    Maybe once you get a group familiar enough with gaming and everyone’s comfortable with a rule system you can slowly ease them into trying something weirder.

    Of course, it might be best to plan nothing and just spring a dungeon-crawl on friends some night when you’re hanging out.

    Not sure what it is about gaming and good beer, but I’m certainly not complaining.

  6. Well, it’s too bad you’re not in the neighborhood… then again, right now NOBODY is in the neighborhood! :)

    I’ve also thought about setting up an RPG-esque thing like the wiki you guys set up, except it was more of a news website with future news in it. The “contributors” all had to keep up with the news, and would have been expected to contribute X number of articles a month. The idea was that it’d start with a set number of contributors and grow, but I couldn’t find anyone interested at all, so it never happened. I like the idea of a Lost World wiki thing, though.

    Personally, I’d love to just run a bizarre FRPG game set in… well, you know, a world that is weirder than anything the available RPGs tend to offer. (Like, you take D&D and shove it like potato through the wire screen of China Mieville’s brain (and his love of Peake, I guess?) and you get Bas Lag. I’d like to work backwards — start with my own sentiments of what could be done with a literary fantasy world, cram it back through to RPG, and see what you get.)

    Then again, with my recent preoccupations, I somehow imagine a lot of baking and brewing going on in these worlds. Gaming and good beer are great together; gaming *about* good beer, not so much.

    I’ll have to look at Talislanta sometime…

    Oh, and, was I supposed to post you my address so you could return those bottles? I can’t remember whether I did. I seem to recall your having moved, so you should send me your address as I have some books for you.

  7. The Lost World thing was fun, and after awhile we stared to not only riff on each others entries but also the fictional books we were citing as references. It was like a Borges story :)

    There are plenty of settings that I’ve never gamed but love just because of the world they evoke (Fading Suns being at the top of that list).

    I still have your bottles under our sink. You want me to email you my address or send it via FB? Actually I’ll give you my school’s address as that’s the easiest place for me to get packages.

  8. That sounds very cool, and yeah, Borgesian… or Lemish or something.

    The funny thing I find is that I get the opposite effect sometimes. While everyone went, “Ah, White Wolf!” when they watched Underworld, I had the opposite reaction when I started watching the BBC series Being Human: I was constantly wondering just how it would be to run a campaign like that as a White Wolf WoD game — one vampire, one werewolf, and one Wraith PC for three players, plus new players occasionally here and there. I very much liked that idea, but I also know you’d need a really cool group to make it work.

    I’ll email you my address, and yeah, give me your work address, and I’ll get some books off to you soon.

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