30 December 2021

Knock, Knock...


Meanwhile, back in 1979...

Playing at the World: Gary Gygax on "Tomorrow" with Tom Snyder

Gygax: [00:03:13]
OK, now, let's - I'll pick it up as if you were actually in a dungeon, and I'll relay to you, because I have to be your eyes and ears and everything, and you're going to tell me what kind of information you need. So we'll assume that you are in a four-way passageway underground and you can choose any direction you want to go. Ten foot wide stone corridors deep beneath the earth. Now, you have a choice of any of the four directions, you tell me where you go to.

Snyder: [00:03:38]
OK, let's go to the left.

Gygax: [00:03:39]

OK, you go to the left and we'll say you were going north, so you're going to head off to the west.

Snyder: [00:03:43]

Gygax: [00:03:44]
OK, you go west and I tell you how many feet, you've gone a hundred feet west - and suddenly there's a huge bronze door before you, with a big doorknocker on it, a big ring that obviously opens the door and serves as a knocker also. Do you want to turn around and go back the other way? Open the door? Knock first? What would you like to do?

Snyder: [00:04:04]
I think I'll knock first.

Gygax: [00:04:05]
OK. Now, without having all of this written down, of course, there could be, the - perhaps the knocker will trigger a stone block that drops on your head.



This morning in Angband...


Dain the Ranger finds himself at a 4-way intersection on lvl 6.


He moves west down the corridor.


He is confronted by a large sturdy door.


He opens it.






27 December 2021


 It's been a few months since I last played Angband, 9 to be exact, so today I rolled up a new Ranger and went back into the dungeon.
A bit rusty with the controls after being away for awhile so I took it slow.

I don't know, there's something very exciting about a new character cautiously entering the beginning levels, taking your time with your actions, it's a delicate time in the development of your character, your own education in the game and learning the class you've selected.
Slowly building up your inventory with low end drops and random items left on the dungeon floor, possibly from previous adventurers or maybe something else, my mind wanders.
Torchlight dimly illuminating your path forward, rounding a corner @!



Fuck you Farmer Maggot's Dog!

20 December 2021

Fifty Feet of Rope

There is a question old sci-fi booksellers like to ask younger readers of the genre.

'What is the golden age of Science Fiction'?


In response, some people:

Give it a little thought then venture forth what they believe to be the approximate decade of the 'Golden Age'.


Don't answer and silently ask themselves 'Why is this dusty old fart talking to me'?


Secretly know the answer but play dumb to allow the seller a quippy moment.   

Now, if you fall for the trap and take a shot an answer it will be incorrect.

The seller will slyly state.

'The Golden Age of sci-fi is'.

Pausing briefly.

'12 years old'.

Or something reasonably close to that age, answers very from person to person.

I've always taken the answer to imply that it's an age, any age really, where one's imagination burns brightly at the input of new electric ideas, of forbidden knowledge attained or of fantastical images over saturated with color blazoned upon wrappers of pulps, books and magazines. Something that once seen cannot be unseen again and something that resonates so deeply in a person that it forever changes them and binds them tightly within its grasp creating a gleeful sojourner along a zealot's path.

An overly romantic take on the answer anyway.


 The question can be applied to a great many things.
'What is the golden age of 'fill in the blank'?

The answer is still the same, it's not a date.



I belong to a certain alphabetic generation and because of that I was fortunate enough to have played my 3 favorite games; Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft during what I believe were truly their chronological golden ages...though that's probably an arguable point.

But whether I was 12 or 26 or 39 mattered not as each affected me profoundly.
Each I played for a period of time and each I eventually stopped playing...for various reasons.
But, I never truly gave up on then and deep down I knew that I was simply taking a break rather than quitting.

Magic: The Gathering arrived in my world after a long hiatus from playing D&D.
To this day I cannot remember how or where I found it, it may have found me, but in late 1994 I was opening packs of Revised and Fallen Empires knowing full well I was addicted. 

Ultimately Magic got 10 years of my attention but by 2004 I was no longer enjoying it. Competitive play, which I willingly went into, had sucked all the fun out of the game and more matches of rage and anger took the place of casual joyful play.
After several months of soul searching I sold my collection and promised myself not to return until I had forgotten how to play and/or became excited about the game again, like I was in 1994.

And that, was that.



July 2021

I wasn't looking for it but once again Magic found me when I stumbled upon an article about the newest Magic set: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms (AFR) a Dungeons & Dragons themed expansion.
And just like that, Magic was back in my life.

The old obsessions returned immediately as I read the article, wanting to collect the entire set.
Just AFR, nothing else, just this one set...and any other subsequent D&D related expansions.

Things had changed since I last opened a pack and looking through the card list I needed to wrap my head around alternative art cards, full art, extended art, showcase and commander cards, which had a foil version and which did not, dungeon cards, art cards and...what the fring was a collector pack?

Mostly though I wanted to play, did it really have a D&D feel?

So I set off on my quest to discover the answers to my questions and now feel ready to offer up my modest insights and opinions about the cards and observations on play with a little hindsight and perspective from a 17 year break from the game.

And though this will not be timely subject matter as AFR was released 5 months ago, a veritable eternity, I feel a deeper dive is in order to explore the set, the game and myself I suppose as I return to a once loved the reviled game in my life.
This will take some time to work through.

For the time being, I will simply start with this post.

Now, what's next?


15 December 2021

Barrett's Privateers



A ship privately owned and crewed but authorized by a government during wartime to attack and capture enemy vessels.

The captain or a crew member of such a vessel.


Stan Roger's 1976 sea shanty 'Barrett's Privateers' has been in my head for days now, but not his fantastic rendition.
Instead, the catchy, fast moving 2011 cover by Alestorm has been trashing the crew quarters of my mind.     

A tragic tale of a young fisherman lured by easy riches to board the scummiest vessel he'd ever seen and soon be fated to become the last of Barrett's privateers.

What a tale Stan!


Barrett's Privateers

Stan Rogers
Fogarty's Cove

Back Through Time


Oh, the year was 1778
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
A letter of marque came from the king
To the scummiest vessel I've ever seen
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

Oh, Elcid Barrett cried the town
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
For twenty brave men all fishermen who
Would make for him the Antelope's crew
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
She'd a list to the port and her sails in rags
And the cook in the scuppers with the staggers and jags
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

On the King's birthday we put to sea
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
We were 91 days to Montego Bay
Pumping like madmen all the way
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

On the 96th day we sailed again
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
When a bloody great Yankee hove in sight
With our cracked four pounders we made to fight
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

Now the Yankee lay low down with gold
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
She was broad and fat and loose in the stays
But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

Heri Joensen solo


Then at length we stood two cables away
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
Our cracked four pounders made an awful din
But with one fat ball, the Yank stove us in
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

The Antelope shook and pitched on her side
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs
And the Main truck carried off both me legs
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

So here I lay in my 23rd year
How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now
It's been 6 years since we sailed away
And I just made Halifax yesterday
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
But I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers

06 July 2021

Fishes n' Bitches

Briefly, an update.

A year ago today we arrived in Detroit Lakes, MN.
Everything on hold, nothing certain.

I continued to buy books and other assorted items throughout the year but my intake was a tenth of what I would have normally procured in Denver.
The rural 'pick' is a tough slog.
Though certain gems have presented themselves to me the quantity of the finds has been sparse.


We have yet to get Cibado up and running in any sense of the word.
The small amount of leather and tools we brought with us not to mention the lack of a space to work have made it difficult to create a one of a kind hand sewn bag. Cigdem's frustration with being removed from the creative process, the loss of her studio and work environment along with a rather abrupt change from urban to rural living has been a challenge.
I feel her pain.


We are living in a small studio in DL that we rent on a short term basis.
Nothing special but it's new, clean and mostly affordable.
While we live here we are actively looking at purchasing a house somewhere in the area.
A place where we can set up a proper studio for Cigdem as well as a place for all our stuff that we left in storage in CO.
Something with acreage and outbuildings would be nice.


I have been at a new, non-tech job for 4 months now. The hours are long and I'm on the road a lot.

'Thank God I'm only watching the game, controlling it.'

My employer graciously took me in when others would not and saved me from the seemingly only other options I had available which were line jobs at local manufacturing companies.
I'm not sure how I would have handled working the 3rd shift or something more...unfortunate.



I am very thankful to have the job and the benefits and perks are good. I haven't had a lot of free time to work on books, the website, this blog or to read.

Not complaining, just saying is all. 


Last year will be added to the origin stories of Cibado and Neutral Good Books...hell, maybe it's their true beginnings.

We are, still in this fight.

Thanks and gratitude to all our friends and family who have supported us in the last year...you damn well know who you are!

Thanks For All The Fishes!
A shout out to the following folks who played a very special part in making last year possible:
Bill, Sue, Dave and Lori
Without your short shortsightedness, cowardly actions and chickenshit decisions we may have never escaped the prison we were unknowingly trapped in.


11's Bitches!


17 March 2021

Angband: On the Doorstep pt. 4


'Three cheers for good ol' Bilbo!'


 'Oh never mind that. What did you burgle?'



'What the fak?'

With a cast of 'Turn Stone to Mud' Embor enters the main room.
Ever alert, the lair Wolves 'C' bust down an unseen door and are loosed.

The pack hunters crowd together before Embor and become a prime target for the AoE spell 'Stinking Cloud' from the
'Book of Nature Magics [Lesser Charms]'

Individual wolves are dispatched in short order and the chamber becomes quiet.
Neighboring chamber occupants remain asleep.

Now, with an open path to the treasure chamber and seemingly easy victory at hand, Embor intones 'Turn Stone to Mud' to breach the wall and reveal...A Shimmering Potion '!'
In the corner of the chamber, in a small alcove rests an eerie, purple potion. The liquid, languid in motion, stirred weird eddies within its crystal prison. 
Pinpricks of fine silver light trapped in the viscous flow. 

As the druid moved towards the strange object, a secret door '+' is discovered.
A deep breath then Embor extended a gloved hand forward to grasp the prize but...the prize grasps first!
Embor's perception shifts, realizing boon had become bane as it morphed into creature of deception, one that preys upon materialistic desires...a Mimic!
A critical error, a mistake realized too late as fleshy purple claws slash Embor's face.

The druid struggles to remove the life of the deceptive horror affixed to hand and problems compound as the once secret door bursts open.
A rogue 'p', alerted by the commotion within, enters the robbery gone awry.

After frantic minutes Embor gains the advantage and beats back the foes, but it is a hollow victory.
No great treasure to claim, only a lifeless mound of purple flesh, the once anticipated prize...now smashed.
Dejected, Embor turns to leave the chamber and is caught mid stride as the Blackguard 'p' from the east chamber enters...a scout, in an oncoming attack.

The group from the north as well as the east chamber empty and funnel into the room Embor now holds.
A protracted skirmish with wolves and men ultimately ends with the druid victorious and, once again, left mostly empty handed.

Exhausted, Embor searches the dead, all for naught. 
Common, all of it. Common trinkets and magics to be had in town at a small price, not the mighty treasure the druid had expected to be strewn about a dragon's lair.
 Embor slumped down to the floor, back against the wall.
Long minutes passed as the druid rested in the quiet chamber, weird eerie minutes that dragged in mind.

Had avarice clouded the druid's senses so completely to be fooled by such an obvious ruse?
A damned mimic?
'Of course it was a trap, you fool!'
Long, eerie minutes linger.
Exhaustion overwhelmed the druid.
Then slumber.
Embor dreamed of golden fire.


Then confusion.

A granite wall, vanquished foes.

How long had the druid dosed?

Regaining position in reality and shaking the sleep from mind Embor arose and slowly walked to the opposite wall placing a hand upon the ancient granite.

'Just a glimpse at the beast, a brief look at the very least.
To say 'I, Embor, druid of Obad Hai have gazed upon the legend...and lived.'
Dungeon madness.
Weird minutes began to sneak in once again and...
as the words of the spell slipped easily from the druid's tongue 
'and lived' evaporated from mind as a section of stone wall was transmuted to mud.

And there, before the child of a serf lay
Smaug the Golden.

The scene of wonder overwhelming, breath snatched from lungs as the atmosphere rushed out from the old fiend's lair and enveloped the druid.
Heat and stench and golden light emanated from the wyrm, forever seared into Embor's eternal essence.
Embor withers in the presence of such power and newly realized place in life, that of insignificance and hopelessness.
A tear streaks across a blood spattered check.

A motion, a blur, from behind Smaug brakes the unnatural feeling of despair as a shadow rises from the lair's floor.
A dark and evil thing, twisted by wicked arcane magics.   


 The sorcerer and druid's eyes meet and Embor is faced with a choice; flee now while there is still time to do so before the alarm is risen and Smaug awakes or, being faced with such obvious mortal peril, to make a knowingly juvenile and futile gesture of impudence!
Embor exercises offense over sense.

 The air above the high vaulted chamber cracks and splits as a brilliant yellow-white bolt of energy strikes the sorcerer fully.
Its thunderous shock wave practically blowing Embor out from the observation point of melted wall.

The dragons, shaken from their slumber arise...unscathed.

Smaug rushes forward chocking the breach with his enormity. His eyes dazed and crazed with rage dart about trying to gain traction on something solid, they catch upon the intruding human and narrow in fury.

Embor's world is a now a dragon of ancient myth...and it curses the intruder.

'Thief in the Shadows!
My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath DEATH!

The words strike the druid as deep as any claw, causing a severe graze.
 Now heavily bloodied the druid's panicked thoughts are on escape, IF that is even possible now.
There is a mad commotion behind Smaug as the sorcerer and young gold dragon frantically attempt to attack Embor but are blocked by the bulk that is Smaug. 
A glint, reflected from a small mound of metal upon the floor, catches Embor's eye, a tantalizing glimpse of Chain Mail Armor '['
Was this the true prize the druid had risked life for?
But there is no time for such thoughts and unable to reach the armor Embor produces a scroll and reads aloud the words to enact a risky escape, a blind leap into the void of chance but certainly no worse than the druid's current predicament.

As the scrolls magic began to unfold, there came a parting shot from Embor directed to the terrible wyrm, a final act of insolence.

'Well, I really must not detain Your Magnificence any longer, or keep you from much needed rest but a fine burglar takes expert catching. Huh ha!'

Embor blinks out of Smaug's existence.


 A dank, moldering corridor.
 A distant and echoing roar drifts through unknown lengths of the dungeon.
Embor's incredible luck had won the day.

The 'Scroll of Teleportation' had deposited the druid safely in a neighboring, unoccupied section of dungeon.

Embor casts 'Detect Life'.
A nearby tribe of Orcs and Snagas 'o' lead by 'Shagrat, the Orc Captain' sleep, a pack of Air Hounds 'Z' lie becalmed, an Ocher Jelly 'j' glistens in wait.
None have detected the arrival of the druid.

Fearing the dragon may be prowling the corridors in search of the druid thief, Embor quickly rests to heal the wound received and without delay unfurls one last scroll.

No sense in taking any MORE risks this day, best to leave while there's still the chance to do so.
Embor reads the scroll and in few moments blinks once again from sight and away from the dungeon and its omens of death.



Safely returned to town mostly empty handed save for a couple of scrolls, but, alive to tell the tale.
The sun shines upon Embor today and that is worth more than all the treasures of all the dragons of all the worlds.

The dungeon of Angband is deep and now, thanks to a great deal of luck, there is a tomorrow to delve to even greater depths. Maybe even a return visit to Smaug's lair...time will tell.

Angband abides.