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text 2017-11-20 18:32
Legend of the Stars 2

This weekend, we lived a Gothic Horror/Romance.  With space wizards and light sabers.  On a real life heavy cruiser.  I did horrible things to amazing people, causing characters emotional trauma and player tears.  I lost track of the number of times friends told me they hated me or that I was the worst as they gleefully went deeper into the dark places of the plot.

photo of a woman's face in dark red lighting, grey hood, cybernetic jewelry, and branching blue line through her left eye.

Not only that, I portrayed a space wizard ghost trapped in a ship and who thinks its the AI.

Sometimes, life is pretty sweet.

I also admit that I'm a strange person.

When I was invited to contribute to Legends of the Stars 2 (website, Facebook), I think I had a bit of a brain glitch.  Really?  They wanted me to contribute?  Holy crap.  We'll hand wave the ensuing anxiety of whether or not it was a true invite that lasted through my first story development meeting up until I was officially on the writing team.

This made for one of my top LARP experiences so far.  I'm still buzzing from it.

I've never done a Nordic style LARP, so the writing and operation was something of a paradigm shift.  We created a setting with a loose scaffolding, a rich base, a range of conclusions, then set the PCs off like a like a bunch of kids with firecrackers.  A huge part of the game is helping players develop their own narratives, explore their characters, and become the heroes of their own stories.  I'm used to a much denser structure of modules and plot hooks... and an attendant increase in NPC roles and interactions.  The players are steering the plot and choosing the end conditions.  They say "we want to do something" and we help that occur.

The players came in as members of different Source temples, light and dark, to explore a several thousand-year old relic ship that appeared suddenly, belonging to the all but forgotten culture that predates the division of Source users.  Things of course devolve into confusion and different agendas and goals as literal and metaphorical ghosts of the past emerge.

As a storyteller, I enjoy dark stories, heavy in mood and quandary.  For me, the best conflict comes from the players themselves when put in situations that makes them question the core of their characters and goals.  That bit above where I mentioned friends saying they hated me or that I was the worst?  It was said with a smile.  The player tears were from player choice to dive down into a dark place in a scene and see where they could take it.

It turns out, Nordic style is incredible for this type of play.

My personal highlight (besides being untrustworthy traumatized space ghost AI for a weekend), came from dragging people down to the dark reaches of the ship late the first night and causing emotional upheaval.

Late Friday night I ran a "Source Vision" mod, acting as a scene shepherd more than an active participant, deep in the engine room of the ship.  Players were given a choice, "Protect" or "Shelter" and from there either went to a warmly lit corner or deeper into the engine room to a dark nook lit only by swirling black lights to receive their vision/dream.  This mod alone  made the weekend for me, the two roles were played better than I could have imagined, and the snippets I over heard and the expression on player faces as they exited told stories.  I later learned that this area of the ship was identifiable now as "the place of nightmares."

I also had the opportunity to wander around and do decision tree tarot readings for characters.  I first did in-character tarot at a C'thulhu LARP and it proved an amazing social locus, narrative tool, and all around amazingly enhancing and spooky activity for game.  There's nothing like pulling out cards that perfectly represent a character and the dilemmas they face.  For this game I picked up the Quantum Tarot deck, to fit with the theme, and told people their stories with it.  Everything about doing this was amazing for me, and it worked so well with the personal stories and narratives people were developing.  I knew this was something I found fun, but I had forgotten quite how much fun it really was, how much I loved the interactions that come from it.

dark robed figure stands over a sprawled figure in white, surrounded by lightsabers, while others from the edges watch,The players all bought into the game, their characters, and exploration.  Seeing the plot that they developed and delved into was incredible.  I wasn't kidding about tears, players found their character's wounds, and ripped the bandaids right off for all to see.  I played a scene where I was part of the FTL engines, frightened and angry at these intruders that were ripping us away from the identity and home we'd known for thousands of years and ended up with tears running down my face when I finally relented.  Players would come up to us and say "we want to do [THING]" and we'd go "OK, do it," and so much yes.  The ending and conclusion was truly entirely on the players.

I cannot wait until we start planning for Run 3, scheduled for October 2018.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/11/legend-of-stars-2.html
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review 2017-10-24 21:04
This was surprisingly good!
Eye of the Tiger: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure (Star Justice) (Volume 1) - Michael-Scott Earle

The title, the kitschy cover - the whole tiger-man thing.

 

But it was a good read! Not exactly totally original or beautifully worded, but the story had a fast pace and the characters were interesting enough to keep me interested in their fate.

 

I might pick up the next one in this series...

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review 2017-09-27 14:07
{ARC} Book Review: Skyfarer by Joseph Brassey
Skyfarer - Joseph Brassey

Finally, I was able to mine a gem in Netgalley. Despite some minor issues, Skyfare didn’t disappoint from beginning to end. The story goes like this: An apprentice sorceress, Aimee de Laurent, just finished school and had a taste of what the real world is by becoming a portal mage for a spaceship named Elysium. As she was learning the ropes, Aimee and the rest of Elysium’s crew crossed paths with an evil, powerful and ruthless mage knight, Lord Azrael, who is on a quest to find the Axiom Diamond by any means possible.

 

Wow! This was a highly entertaining read. I loved that despite being a standalone (for now, maybe?) and the average number of its pages, Skyfarer managed to paint a world set in the galaxy that is believable and rich in folklore. And the way the author melded science and magic together without confusing me is quiet amazing. Another thing that made me appreciate this book more is that the main characters were full of flaws, each chained to his/her own struggles.  Aimee, the overachiever student, is constantly hungry to prove herself so you can just imagine how devastated she is when her first display of magic outside of school went awry. On another hand, Lord Azrael, the angel of death of the Eternal Order has only one objective in mind and has no qualms on getting his hands bloodied. And yet, every time he kills and wreaks havoc, a part of him screams in pain and agony.

 

The storyline maybe predictable but I enjoyed how it was executed. There’s a perfect balance of action, adventure, suspense, and drama that I just can’t put the book down. I missed this kind of storytelling, straight up science fiction with no frills and nonsensical turns and twists. At the moment, I am still unsure whether I should pray for a sequel or thank the book gods for giving me the opportunity to read a standalone that is blissfully satisfying.

Source: waywardkitsune.com/2017/09/arc-book-review-skyfarer-joseph-brassey
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review 2017-08-26 15:16
{ARC} Book Review: A Red Peace by Spencer Ellsworth
A Red Peace - Spencer Ellsworth

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Unsettling at first but once you get used to all the jargons used in this book, you’ll find yourself having a hard time in putting it down. The basic premise is that the age of humans is coming to an end when the crosses (term for human/alien hybrids) that they’ve made—through vat culture—rallied  together and started a resistance . Our female protagonist, Jaqi, who is a cross herself wanted nothing to do with the war and had spent her life in hiding and doing shady stuff.  But just like the girl of destiny, she suddenly found herself in the thick of it all. Then, we have our male protagonist who is also a cross and a high ranking soldier of the resistance. Plus, he’s suffering from a terrible PTSD to the point that he got addicted to drugs.

 

It’s pretty interesting to follow the story particularly that we have these seemingly underdog hybrid crosses (who were once treated as machines and servants by the superior human race) made a reversal of their pitiful lives and are now doing everything to wipe out their overlords, the humans.  I think it would have been more interesting if the book gave me a chance to know our characters (main or supporting) more because the way Ellsworth wrote them made me feel like I was just scratching the surface.

 

Also, I didn’t buy the idea of Jaqi throwing out all of her rules out the window for a couple of kids she just met. It just didn’t compute with her happy-go-lucky and always on the run personality.  Personally, it’d made more sense if she had just left the kids to die and maybe…the author should’ve used another and more realistic way to trigger the events of the book.

 

Another thing that I wished for this book is for a more comprehensive world-building given the ambitiousness of the whole story. There’s a galactic war to raze the human race to extinction, a Dark Zone threating to swallow the whole universe, and hate-filled alien/human hybrids who, instead of using high-powered ammo, wield swords that suck the memories of its victims.  There a lot of things worth showing in this book and I hope that Ellsworth will do such in the sequels.

 

All in all, I’m really glad to have given A Red Peace a try. It may not be as intense as Luke Skywalker discovering that he’s a Jedi but it’ll surely feed your sci-fi hunger. I’m looking forward to read the next book in the series.

Source: waywardkitsune.com/2017/08/arc-book-review-red-peace-spencer-ellsworth
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review 2017-08-13 15:40
Audio Book Review: Perses
Perses (Nomad Series) (Volume 3) - K.A. ... Perses (Nomad Series) (Volume 3) - K.A. Finn

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Bray finds himself revisiting his past and family on Earth, after several years away, while hiding from the Foundation and trying to figure out what to do. He needs to get off Earth, but the Scientist brought his computer here. Bray saw it when leaving Alpha, Foundation's ship, and knows he needs to get it. The computer holds the information that could help save Gryffin from the malfuctioning implants, but he has to break into Foundation headquarters and get it then get off world. Bray will have to get word to others off-world about what Foundation has in weapons and man power that could destroy the place he's come to love like a home.

Keith is one amazing narrator. I love listening to his work. I looooove his voice. Okay, serious stuff now. He voices the characters with their own voice through tone, accent, and heart. The inflection he puts in each character brings them to life as their own whole person. Wow. I'm drawn into the story and forget he's a narrator because the characters come to life as individuals. That's amazing work!

Bray and Garvan. Yes ma'am. And thank you. These two characters were growing to be some of my favorite secondary characters in the previous two books. Well, they aren't the only ones. So to get the treat of them together and fighting to survive along with learning about their pasts, sign me up! I was thrilled to get into this story with them.

This story is more emotional with memories of the past, and Bray working through everything from when he was young through now. The feelings he felt toward his parents and his brother were those of a child that didn't see or know the whole story. Then, he has to tell his uncle and cousin about his family in the here and now. I was touched by what Morgan told Bray of his mother and father. Bray didn't remember or see the adult side of things and it was touching to hear about them.

We get the story from Bray's POV on Earth. We also get sections from One's POV. These sections are very, very insightful. One is on the council that's behind all that's going on. We get to learn about their new colony they were trying to build. I'm not 100% sure about this colony and where it's at, but I'm sure it's going to be something mentioned more in the future. And the biggest piece of information.... One's behind Garvan being put in prison. Garvan knows something that could destroy One and everything he's working for. This puts a target on Garvan's head. We also get scenes from Garvan's POV, which are important moments when things start moving in their plans.

I think I mentioned in the previous book that I was growing to like Garvan quickly. And I was right. I absolutely love him as a character. There are times he brings a huge smile to my lips with his personality and responses. They aren't the quick clip one lines, Garvan is more one to talk and leave the hint in what he says, almost a genuine sarcasm. I do love him. Garvan knows a lot about the scans and equipment used on Earth to identify people. He really grew on me in the last book, and I really like him here. This is part of what his job was before he went to prison. And his story! We learn his back story here too. Oh Garvan...

The beginning felt slower, because there wasn't much Bray could do on Earth. I had an idea but wasn't sure how he was going to take on a huge Foundation headquarters on his own. But we get personal with Bray and Garvan. Then it all comes together and we get to what the Hunters do best. Fight.

This is another wonderful addition to the Nomad series. I always enjoy the writing and narration in the biggest way. I look forward to more books!

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