Inscriptions on the Aqualith

A documentation of aquatic ponderings for tabletop roleplaying, after action reports, and product impressions. Dive in with the Consortium: aqualith.media

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A refusal of shorthand

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
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I need to confess something. It's likely an unpopular opinion, but this is the internet so I get to have and share it. Sorry. Here we go: I hate the term 'zine'.

Don't get me wrong. I love the concept and the form factor. I prefer the size, it's portability, and affordability. It feels great in your hand and you can take it anywhere or leave them lying around on a coffee table. Spill some coffee on it? No big deal. The one aspect I cannot stand is the name.

I just can't stand the sound of the term, whether or not you pronounce it zeen or rhymes-with-pine. I get that it's been used for decades and spans beyond just tabletop gaming roots. It's got underground history in dozens of entertainment niches I am probably quite unaware of. But the term itself just makes me grit my teeth too much to say it, much less write it. If in conversation, I won't be legalistic or project my prejudice against it's use, but in case you never see or hear me utter it; now you know why!

"But Ryan, it's a great shorthand. It helps me not have to explain what it's about," you might suggest. My counter argument for that is: you're going to explain what it's all about anyway, right? Just call it a magazine.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I tried to keep it digest-able because I know you've got a lot to do today. Let me know how wrong I am in the comments.

Steady tides be with you,
Ryan | Aqualith Media

Photo credit goes to Annie Spratt on Unsplash.
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Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:32 pm
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Con of the North AAR 3/5 | Volunteering some thoughts

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Minnesota
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Back in February, I started a five part after action report detailing my first attendance of Con of the North. I had to put that on pause for a bit while a lot of real life priorities unfortunately took me away from contributing to this blog. That was not to say that work on Aqualith slowed down. Quite the contrary in fact. I am pleased to announce that development and pre-production on my first release has begun. It is too early to give a release window at this state, but I'm blown away at the interest and support I am getting just from casual conversation regarding it. Stay tuned, true belie...er-hydromancers!

Now, lets get this series of AAR's back on a roll. But before I do, I gave Pts 1 and 2 a proper remaster, so do take a look at them again if you forgot or never read them. It's been awhile: Pt 1, Pt 2


Volunteering your time was something strongly suggested in the Con of the North handbook and website, so I thought, why not give back some time, right? It was a great way to meet the leaders and acquaintances. Also, I got to go home with a few more CotN-branded d6's to add to my collection, which is never a bad thing.

Friday night after my Numenera one-shot, I got a bite to eat, then headed to the registration desk in the lobby and just up the stairs from the corridor that lead to Pathfinder Society. For about an hour or so, I got to stand behind the desk and help late Friday arrivals get there folders containing event tickets, badges, and the like. At first a little intimidated that I'd possibly have to work the storefront, thankfully other more qualified volunteers addressed my concerns quickly and I simply got to smile and help direct people to their next game.

Saturday afternoon, directly after my BattleTech grinder, I was given the honorary "pick up tickets" duty for that time slot. So when you go to Con of the North and you signed up for an event ahead of time, your aforementioned envelopes included a ticket for that specific event. This is pretty standard for a lot of conventions from what I understand. GenCon 2009 had something similar, but I've not been back since. When you arrive at the event, the coordinator, gamemaster, referee... whoever is running must retrieve this ticket from you so that the runner of that slot can swing by to pick them up and put them in a container for record keeping. I was that runner. And I went everywhere. This hotel has the weirdest set up. I can clearly tell it was designed over time. To add to the confusion of the place, there's the 2nd floor which runs over the top of the level 1 with the lobby. Then there's the basement or ground floor below it. Except there are two separate ground floors. On the same level. Read that again if you need to. I'll wait.

Yeah, that confusing. I think I got it down by Saturday evening, but I'll likely have to relearn it again. To me, it's the most confusing when you need to search for the restroom. Now that I think about it, for tabletop roleplayers, figuring out the labyrinth that is Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West may just be part of the gaming experience. Regardless, it was cool to wave and give a nod to those I got to play with or volunteer with up to that point. I love small cons for that as you begin to form bonds over the weekend.

Next post in this AAR, we get a little old school.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Thu May 30, 2019 2:00 pm
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Con of the North AAR 2/5 | Into the #BattleTech grinder

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Minnesota
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Previously on Con of the North AAR... Pt 1


Rompin' stompin' mecha! That has been the central focus of a now thirty-five year intellectual property, steeped in lore and unfortunate lawsuits by greedy real estate companies. Yes, real estate companies. But that is now all behind us (for now) as we look onward at the current tabletop version of BattleTech.

When the video game developer and publisher Harebrained Schemes announced a Kickstarter campaign for a new turn-based strategy game set in the original 3025 era of the BattleTech universe, my attention, they got. I have long seen this old game on the game shelves... but didn't give it its proper due. Much of that for my part has been because of complications and handling of the tabletop franchise. I won't go into that as its multifaceted, but I will say it hasn't helped the average tabletop enthusiast's perception these last few years. I much prefer the aesthetic, however, of that universe over Warhammer or the like, so I've kept an eye on it.

But in either case, tabletop wargaming was a genre I avoided because of financial and spacial restrictions. There's ways around it, like with X-Wing Miniatures, but that style of wargaming-lite can still eat your pocket book if you aren't frugal with your budget. And we here at Inscriptions on the Aqualith 100% support you in having an appropriate budget! [/wink]

Oh yeah, this was an AAR, wasn't it?


'Mech SMASH
At Con of the North this year, I had the opportunity to sign up for one (or more) 2 hour blocks to try out either classic or Alpha Strike variants of BattleTech. I went with the former as, while it's more complicated, oft needlessly so, I wanted to get to meet the guys who locally play and gauge where things were around the Twin Cities area.

A Catalyst Game Labs rep, who I unfortunately forgot his name, was managing the table of this eight player 'Mech grudge match. The objective was to pick a light 'Mech and survive. If you died, you'd get a medium, then a heavy, and so on. If you know anything about BattleTech Classic, 2 hours won't get ya far, especially with newbies. So I think we saw maybe two mediums hit the table before the next slot had to start.

I ran with a Stinger, equipped with two medium lasers. He surprisingly held his own and didn't get too beat up, even after a successful Death From Above hit in round 3 which could of crippled it pretty quickly. There was another well placed hit towards the end that did a lot of internal damage, but it still remained standing.

Unfortunately we ran up on time before more than five or six rounds could be done, but it gave me a good taste of the rules. I got lost in the bonuses and penalties, but I have the PDF copy of the BattleMech Manual to consult and study before I play again (whenever that happens).

Aside from asking questions of the game runnner, I had the pleasure to meet Joey, a guy sitting to my left who gladly helped me with the rules. He told me about the local group which mustered on Facebook. I told him that in regards to the group which I would of gladly joined for info's sake, but I ditched Facebook for certain reasons and happily signed up for MeWe instead. He's since joined MeWe and created a mirror group there. I highly suggest joining if you are in the area and want to try the game out.

Next I'll be sharing my take on the con as a whole, with two more AAR's to follow. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:28 pm
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Plus minus

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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For those who actually used Google+, and if you're a tabletop RPGer at all, that's a high probability that you were a part of at least a handful of groups, listen up.

G+ is being retired in case you didn't know, and they'll be pulling the plug April 2nd. After that you will not have access to any data found there. If you'd like to back things up, here's the directions on how to do so:

https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1045788

Tenkar's Tavern rightly pointed out another problematic aspect to this shutdown: blog comments, as Google states,

If you’ve used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019.

What do you think? Is a site you own affected by these changes?


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the community
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Sat Feb 2, 2019 10:23 pm
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Game Day recap

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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It's staggering how quickly your schedule can be upended from underneath you when the whole household gets sick, frigid temperatures and winter weather rears it's head, and job search picks up after not much activity. Either can take up a lot of your time, stunting certain pursuits like this one. But as I've learned over the years, never apologize for delayed blog posts! And so I'll just move right along...


An annual meeting of old friends over printed cardboard

Nearly each year for the last decade or so, friends from my hometown in Evansville, Indiana gather together on New Years Day for a whole day of tabletop. This tends to start at a Chipotle/Quoba style burrito place called Moe's for lunch. We then head over to usually whatever local church's fellowship hall we have connections with and set up our festivities there. It's basically a private con and a great way to relax, catch up with friends I don't see except that day, and start the new year more or less carefree for a day.

I made sure to record plays of each game I played to one day do this very post. The GeekList linked below has the names and my comments about each. Feel free to reply below or under each at your leisure.

Game Day 2019

Back to some Aqualith work for me. Until next time...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the community
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:30 pm
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Con of the North schedule

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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My first gaming convention here in Minnesota is just over a month away. Con of the North

My schedule is more or less on lock. I'm trying out games I've yet to play (Root and BATTLETECH Classic), getting some in person experience with my current favorite roleplaying system (Cypher - Numenera), getting some volunteering in, and dusting off one or two previously retired Pathfinder Society characters.

I'm particularly excited about The Solstice Scar, as it's a multi-table event. I've been a part of two or three of these in the past and they are well worth it!

Sunday is capped with a Dungeon Crawl Classics game, as outside of a very short Labyrinth Lord session ran by a friend, I've never played an edition prior to 3.5. I need to up this cred and be a true OSR member outside of my ties to groups on MeWe!

The last bit is a game of King of Tokyo that is kinda my fall back for hosting. I signed up to be a judge, in case I had the possibility of running an RPG but my schedule did not allow for me to properly prepare for it. Hopefully next year! KoT is easy, but it's currently not on the list of games you can sign up for. I'll be adding it somewhere to the white board there as a late edition, so if you'd like to play, be on the lookout for it! I'll also try to announce here and on Twitter when I found a slot.

Do note, that the times shown are in military at Central time. So for instance, Root will be played from noon to 2pm on Friday.

FRI
Root (FRI12-14)
Numenera: Falling Into Golden Skies (FRI14-18)
#Volunteer (FRI20-22)

SAT
PFS 10-10: The Shattered Shield (Tier 1-5) (SAT08-13)
BATTLETECH: Grinder of the North (SAT14-16)
#Volunteer (SAT16-18)
PFS 8-99d: The Solstice Scar (Tier 1-2) (SAT19-24)

SUN
DCC: Stronghold of the Wood Giant Shaman (SUN14-18)

???
King of Plymouth (King of Tokyo + Power Up! expansion)
Pathfinder 2nd Ed. Create-a-Character room
Viking Hall room

Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the Consortium
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Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:00 pm
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New paints, new con, new initiatives, new year!

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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It's 2019, and without going into details, I'm very thankful that year is done with. I am looking forward to a fresh start not only in the gaming hobby, but vocationally and home-building.

Let's focus on the hobby today.

Paints
My youngest sister gifted me a set of Humbrol paints for my Great War project. They have yet to arrive in the mail, but when they do, I shall snap some photos or do a video about my plans for them. Additionally, I promised an unboxing of sorts for The Great War to which I have not forgotten but simply was not afforded the opportunity to do so. I think the delay has allowed me to process how to make that a genuinely better post anyways.

Con of the North
Last night before I went to bed, yes before midnight because I am getting old and don't care for the strike of midnight hooplah, I submitted last minute choices for the events I want to attend at the Twin Cities' Con of the North. This will be my first time attending and looking to get a nice spread of roleplaying, board games, and dabble of wargame into three glorious days of gaming.

Game Day
New Years has afforded me and my friends from my home town celebrating New Years Day with a sprawling day of playing games either either at a church fellowship hall or in the case of this year, a park lodge. So from 2pm to midnight, my brother and I will be joining as many as a dozen or more other guys for some great games. I'll report on that this week as to what I got to play.

Speaking of, I need to get ready for it.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the community
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Tue Jan 1, 2019 3:20 pm
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Salutations & expectations

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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I say hey...
Hi! My name is Ryan and I like to play all sorts of games. My primary gaming interest in this time of my life are roleplaying games, specifically ones with the opportunity for world-building and rules that can be modified easily for your campaign's needs. At the moment, my personal favorite to fit that is the Cypher System by Monte Cook Games, as well as varying degrees of involvement in the OSR and Pathfinder communities. At the moment, I cannot have a regular in-person or even virtual tabletop campaign, so play-by-post, specifically through Discord, has been my go-to for still having my fix. I'm currently in one ongoing Cypher System game.

Additionally, I've recently gotten the itch to check out historical wargaming. Maybe it's a sign of age?

My family, including my delightful wife who longsuffers my hobby, and adorable daughter (read: toddler roleplayer-to-be) currently live in the Twin Cities area without any set gaming groups as yet, but I am working to make that a thing whether at a game store or through friends at church. We are devout Christians and I'll happily extrapolate that in a future post, or you are free to message me with questions.

...what's going on?
* I have been told by local game store Lodestone Coffee & Games that the copies of The Great War Centenary Edition and The Great War: French Army Expansion I special-ordered are on the way!
* I backed the second printing of Monte Cook Games' No Thank You, Evil! earlier this year and hoping to see that delivered before end of year or early the next.
* I am attending the first annual Bold North Conference in Saint Paul this weekend. This will be my first reformed theology-centered conference I'll attend in person. I suspect it'll be pretty low-key in presentation, but rich in content.
*Star Citizen's Alpha 3.3 patch release to live? Not definite, but the recent updates on the release roadmap suggests it'll be ready soon. I'm a day one Golden Ticket backer of that project and I'll happily unpack that at at later date.

What to expect
Inevitably, some slice of life posts, but centered on all aspects of gaming.

I've got a few ideas to produce some very affordable RPG products to distribute on DriveThruRPG as a 3rd party self-publisher! No idea when, but I hope to document this journey. And my wife is also interested in contributing to it as well. It will also be a fun way to stretch my design muscles outside of the regular 40 hour work week grind.

As mentioned above regarding The Great War by PSC Games, I plan to paint the miniatures! And I'll be showcasing my process as well as showing an unboxing video when the time comes, as well as impressions about the rules and scenarios.

Rule of 'law'
Here's a rule that might possibly break some people's brains: On this blog and the Twitter account I've established that ties into it, I will use the Edit button liberally. Whether it's for annoying typos I find later, or to correct a thought I had after the fact, I'll do it. I do not so much mind corrective-history when it comes to my own stuff here. If there's a potential problematic portion of a post that I've edited, I'll retain a note to list what I changed and why as a footnote to that post. I'd like to think of this blog as not so much progressive in a time sense, but retroactive and referential, somewhat like a wiki. So expect links and callbacks to previous posts in-frequently where there wasn't one the first time you read it.

All the things
My primary hub of info for all gaming can be found in one place, as I found it perplexing to drill down all the usernames and handles across all the various sites and games imaginable. At the moment it's very lacking in a graphical theme, which pains me as a designer, but I'll get to it when I get to it. In the mean time, check it out and feel free to add me if you like. I do have some ads there which I wouldn't bother with if I didn't think they were worthwhile products.

Schedule?
I'll post these up in the mornings, probably every few days, sometimes consecutively. Some will go long, others shorter, to which I'll split out into a series. Either way, your best case scenario is to subscribe. I hope this will amount to something and worthwhile to myself and to you, the reader. Game on, and...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Fri Nov 9, 2018 2:00 pm
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