Many people like to end the year with a recap of the year’s events. I’ve never been big on that, but seeing as how I haven’t posted since before Thanksgiving, I think this year I’ll give it a shot. Besides, this way I’ll get in a December post so that doo-hickey in the sidebar won’t show that I’ve entirely missed posting during yet another month.

Personal Stuff

As many of you know, I bought a house in July of 2014 (yeah, I know that takes us back a bit more than “the year in review” but it is relevant). Looking for a house was time consuming and exhausting, but oh so much fun! My OCD-tendencies had a field day: making spreadsheets, comparing so many factors, not to mention actually visiting literally hundreds of homes. I wore myself out on a daily basis for months and loved every second of it. Inspections, offers, counter-offers, and closing was almost as much work, but not nearly as much fun. It was still exciting though, knowing that I’d have an amazing home when all was said and done.

It has been a year and a half and I absolutely love my new home. So does Jasmin (my cat). She is strictly indoors, but loves all the windows to look out of, and all the rooms to explore. She was in a very limited space the past few years, so this is a wonderful adventure for her.

As part of the deal, I raised my offer and, in exchange, they added a ductless furnace (Heat/AC). It is super-efficient, absolutely quiet, and incredibly inexpensive to run. It keeps me nice and toasty even on the coldest winter nights, and perfectly comfortable inside when it is 110 degrees outdoors.

As with any move, it isn’t something that ends when the boxes are unloaded. It took forever to unpack the important stuff, buy endless do-dads that I didn’t even know I needed, get extra furniture and figure out where it all wanted it live. I still have numerous boxes that haven’t been opened yet, and am still finding things I need to buy when I get some cash saved.

The house had just been “flipped” and I didn’t think it had anything that needed to be done, but I have managed to find endless projects to do anyhow. My second bedroom has become a crafts room, with permanent built-in tables and shelves, and extra lighting for miniatures painting and terrain building. The kitchen has a dining nook with lots of wasted space in one corner, so I added a pantry there, along with some counter space (right under a window so Jasmin has another favorite spot to sit). The garage has tremendous potential for an over-sized gaming room. To work, it really needs a half-bath though, so the cost is out of my reach, making it just a dream. But it is a fun dream. At the moment, it makes a wonderful shop.

All of this, however, has taken its toll. I’m so excited to jump into all of this, that I forget that I don’t have the energy I once had. I regularly over-do and pull a muscle or hurt my back. And for some reason, things that used to put me in bed for a day or two, now take a week or two to recover from.

Sadly, even when I’m recuperating, I’m just not up to writing on the blog. Between Looking for a house, closing on a house, moving, unpacking, doing projects, and recovering from all that, I’ve barely managed to get out any posts at all.

Throughout the past year and a half, I’ve had constant medical issues as well. Some of that is due to trying to do too much around the house. But these damn diabetes and kidney complications are getting continually worse. My New Year’s resolution this year is to work harder to get them under control as much as I can. Insulin causes so many serious medical problems, it feels like trying to cure someone of a meth addiction by pumping them full of heroin. But bad analogy aside, the benefits do outweigh the drawbacks (barely). I tried getting off insulin and paid for it very, very painfully. But, as I said, I will work harder this year to try to get all my conditions under control and hopefully that will result in (among other things) getting more articles posted.

I did manage to get motivated about Fractal Terrains a few months ago. I greatly improved my skills and then managed to get out a few tutorials.

When Thanksgiving started to approach, I was informed that we were doing a group Thanksgiving with all my Mom’s neighbors. There are quite a number of houses full of folks on her block that have become quite close and we do a lot of things together. One of them offered up her house and we all planned to spend the holiday together. Normally, I just help mom with the traditional dishes, but as I now needed to contribute something individually, I volunteered to handle the deserts. I made a Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Homemade Whipped Cream, and Nanaimo Bars (all completely from scratch). Everything came out beautifully. The real reason I volunteered for dessert duty was that I knew my mom loved Pecan Pie and rarely gets any. I wanted to surprise her. Apparently I was successful, as everyone was impressed and went on and on about the Pecan Pie. I’m usually not a fan, but even I thought it was quite good.

Due to dietary restrictions, I don’t normally eat any of the traditional holiday foods, but I splurged and it was all fantastic. Since I don’t usually eat such things, I don’t have a need to bake much anymore. It was nice to get a chance. I often considered baking professionally. Sadly, that would now make it impossible to stick to a rigid diet.

I don’t know if it is related or not, but starting the day after Thanksgiving I had my second bout ever of Diverticulitis (the first was a few months earlier). It was a few days before I was sure that is what it was, and a couple of weeks to clear it up. After the first round, my doctor said that some people have it once and then never suffer from it again. Others, once they start, have recurrences two or three times a year. I’m really hoping that just because I had two rounds so close together doesn’t mean they will be a frequent occurrence. It is a real PITA (if you will forgive the pun).

I followed the Diverticulitis incident with some frantic Christmas decorating. The house looked fantastic, but naturally I over-did and put myself out of commission again. This gave me lots of time to sit in a chair with Jasmin and watch tons of TV.

Fortunately, I felt fully recovered again in time to take mom to see a pre-Christmas screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Whiteside Theatre in town. It is a great xmas movie, and fun to see on the big screen. But it was especially fun to do as this theater is a landmark in Corvallis. It was closed for decades and about to be torn down, when a group saved it, got it added to the preservation society’s list of historical buildings, and fully restored it. We even got to sit in the balcony, which she especially liked because she usually gets stuck behind some guy that she can’t see around. That night, she had a wonderfully unobstructed view. It was the first opportunity either of us had to see the renovations. Both of us enjoyed it very much. Afterwards, I had a few days to get some last minute gifts, and then spend a wonderful holiday with my mom (both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Sadly, the day after Christmas, I came down with a vicious cold that, just today, seems to be drying up.

I realize that much of this sounds like a constant whine fest, but I was just trying to relate where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and why I haven’t been posting anything. The truth is, for the past year (really more like a year and a half), I have literally been sick, mending up from a pulled muscle, or dealing with some sort of medical issue, practically non-stop. Every time I recover from one thing, I frantically race around doing chores, shopping, and working on projects as fast as I can, knowing that something was bound to derail my plans again at any moment. Of course, often times, it was my frantic running around that got me in to trouble.

Whatever the cause, I hope that 2016 will be far more incident-free, and I will have more time to work on the things that I want to work on.

New Computer

I guess this is really “personal stuff” as well, but it is significant enough to get its own section. I went from a pretty decent notebook running Windows 7 to a much more powerful desktop system running Windows 10. That involved a lot of research, collecting parts, putting it all together, and reloading a lot of software. I always underestimate how enormous a task that last step is. Not only was I installing software for days, I am still (months later) finding little tweaks here and there that need to be done. Just today, I had to figure out how to re-enable Windows Photo Viewer (Microsoft decided to take it away and force their new “Pictures” app on us instead). Also, I just discovered today a few more auto-correct features in Word that needed to be disabled. Software install always seems like such a trivial step when you haven’t done it for a while.

Blog

The blog hasn’t really seen any changes this past year. In fact, I think it’s been quite a few years since it has seen any major changes. This year, that is on my to-do list! Colors, layout, interface. If you have any suggestions, I’m totally open to hearing them. I’m quite thick skinned, so if there is something you hate about the site, feel free to be blunt. I’d love to hear what anyone has to say.

News From WotC

Obviously, the big news is 5e. For the most part I love it! I was quite trepidatious during the entire 5e development phase, but then they came out with a product line that blew me away. Not only are the core books quite solid, but the starter set is extremely well done. They need to keep publishing new products to remain viable. I’m hoping whatever they come up with continues to be equally impressive.

Miniatures & Terrain

I received my Bones II miniatures from Reaper in May. Many hundreds of minis. I am so happy! I think I have more minis now than I will ever need, and certainly more than I will ever paint.

Dwarven Forge had an amazing City Builder Kickstarter this year for houses, streets, and related city terrain. Sadly, I couldn’t participate. I could easily have spent many thousands of dollars and still wanted more. I’m jealous of anyone who was able to get in on their Kickstarter.

Hirst Arts released a new “Rubble Block” mold (#263) that looks absolutely amazing. I haven’t ever tried using any Hirst Molds before but I’m really anxious to try. Hopefully, this will be the year that I take the plunge!

Old School Video Games

Not only did I discover a way to play my all-time favorite Atari ST game (Oids!) on a PC, but I also discovered gog.com. I’ve probably picked up dozens of old games (Bard’s Tale, Eye of the Beholder series, Temple of Elemental Evil, Settler’s series, Stone Keep, Space Quest series, etc.) for $2 – $10 apiece. Generally, I don’t care for the newer games nearly as much as I like the older ones. Although, I did manage to get all the Witcher games at gog.com as well. I haven’t played them yet, but they look pretty cool.

ProFantasy

Last February, ProFantasy announced an early-adopter version of CC3+. It still hasn’t been officially released, but imo it is rock solid. I’ve been using it for months. I think the reason that it isn’t officially a product yet, is that they are waiting until they have completed upgrading all of their add-on products to be compatible first. It’s not really necessary if you ask me, since you can run CC3 and CC3+ side-by-side. But I suppose in updating the other add-ons, they may find more changes that need to be made to CC3+ as well. Either way, the new version is awesome, add-ons are getting some love, and the finished product(s) should be out soon.

Also, I got motivated about Fractal Terrains 3 a while ago and pumped out a bunch of tutorials. I developed a great deal of proficiency with the program and feel much more confident about building a world from scratch now (opposed to just selecting a randomly created world).

That’s another item on my to-do list. I want to create an entire world in FT3, fidget with it for a few months, export it to CC3+, and make numerous regional and local maps, all fully linked together. When (if) I get it all done, I will naturally put it all in the downloads section.

I’m hoping to create a great deal of additional maps for the downloads section as well: caves, caverns, villages, castles, dungeons. Not only am I excited to get into more CC3+ mapping, there are tons of mapping styles in the annuals that I haven’t played with much. I’m looking forward to doing some maps in each of those styles.

Other Mapping News

Anna B. Meyer at ghmaps.net has finished her Greyhawk map. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you really need to go look. What she has done is nothing short of amazing.

Additionally, she has been working with World Machine and developed some new techniques that have turned the mapping world on its head. These new tools, being significantly faster, have given her more time, which has allowed her to focus on her personal projects, branch out into exciting new commercial projects, and even have time to begin offering contract mapping services for individuals! Can you imagine having your home campaign professionally mapped by an expert who can make it look like aerial photographs? Personally, I think that is the most exciting gaming-related news of the year!

New Year’s Resolution

I am going to work with my doctors to re-evaluate my medical treatments, go over my diet (which I actual have been very good about) and see if it can be improved, vigorously exercise, while focusing on not over-doing. My goal is to lower my A1C sufficiently to be able to reduce my insulin dosage, which will greatly improve a number of medical issues.

Now that my resolution is committed to paper (so to speak), I hope I will have the drive to follow through. I’m curious to read this next year and see how I’ve done.

Other Plans For 2016

I have a great many plans, much of which has to do with mapping:

  • Create a world in FT3.
  • Export it to CC3+
  • Create a number of regional and local maps, fully linked digitally.
  • Create numerous maps in various styles (from the Annuals) for the Downloads section.
  • Post regularly to the blog.
  • Give the website a significant facelift.
  • More remodeling on my craft room.
  • Paint more miniatures and terrain.
  • Delve into the world of Hirst Arts terrain building.
  • Finish some other projects around the house that have been rattling around in my head for a while now.
  • Do some landscaping. I haven’t done anything since I’ve moved in.
  • Find a local 5e gaming group, where I can be a player once a week
  • Finalize a beta copy of my home rules, and prepare for release.

Last Words

Very little of this rambling discourse had anything to do with D&D or even gaming in general. But I don’t write this to be informative, so much as a release for myself. Writing is cathartic and satisfying by itself, even if no one ever reads it.

However, in this case, it does serve a purpose. Whenever I haven’t posted in a while, it takes an effort to begin. The longer it has been, the harder it is to get started. With this post, I got started. That makes it easier to sit down and write the next post. Hopefully, I will do that soon, and that will make it easier to write the post after that.

Although I pity anyone who has suffered along with me down to these last words, there is a silver lining: soon (hopefully) there will be some actual gaming-related posts coming your way.

Happy New Year!