Wednesday September 28, 2016
Book 16: Big, Dumb Objects — Part IV
Next

WXR16: On the Way Home

sept22-oasiswakeSandra and I are on our way home from Sint Maarten, dieseling across the eastern Caribbean with 180 fellow Writing Excuses Retreat delegates.

The event has been delightful. We still have a full day at sea tomorrow, so it’s not over, but Oasis of the Seas is not stopping again until Ft Lauderdale. That wake behind us is going to be a constant feature for the next 36 hours.

This largest-ship-in-the-world class of vessel is amazing, but I think I like my gargantunormous floating resorts a bit smaller. And the plan, as of this writing, is for next year’s Writing Excuses Retreat (#WXR17) to be held on a smaller ship on a different patch of ocean. We’re still finalizing the details (and getting the best prices we can) but I’m authorized to tell you that we’re going to Europe, and that the cruise will be timed to let delegates debark in time for a quick flight to Helsinki, for the World Science Fiction Convention.

I’ll post full details here and at writingexcuses.com in advance of registration opening. The plan (again, as of this writing) is to open registration on January 1st of 2017.

You probably want a full convention report before considering attending. I’ll make sure to post links to reports from attendees. Their voices carry more weight than mine, so it’s better for you (and easiest for me!) if I simply amplify.

 

Two Slow News Weeks

I’m headed for the eastern Caribbean with the Writing Excuses team aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas¹. The blog posts here may go a little stale, as updating the blog from the ship² is time consuming.

oa_01We board on Saturday, and return a week later. If you want to play the “where is Howard” game, you can follow this link to track the Oasis of the Seas. I’ll probably be using the same link (connectivity permitting) to figure out where the heck we are.

oasis_titanicWe are not going to be anywhere near icebergs. Also, there are plenty of lifeboats. Nobody makes claims like “unsinkable” anymore, but Oasis of the Seas can boast about being five times larger than Titanic.

When her keel was laid she was the largest cruise ship in history. Today she’s within 18 inches or so of that spot, but has been bested by only two other ships (also owned and operated by Royal Caribbean.)

Before boarding the giant ship I need to stock the buffer with comics for you to read, and I need to pack big stacks of work that I can do while I’m at sea. It’s not a proper vacation if I’m not getting some work done, after all.


 

¹Oasis of the Seas seems like an odd name, but since the ship has fresh water in the middle of a “desert” of non-potable salt water, I suppose the definition of “oasis” can be stretched to fit. 
²”Ship,” not “boat.” Crew members and staff are happier when you say “ship.”

 

Die Hard Metal Dice: I Love These Things

The moment I held these in my hand I knew I had to own them.

dieharddiceinhand

These are metal dice from Die Hard Dice¹, and if you like the feeling of doing something significant when you’re rolling dice, you will like rolling these.

dieharddicebattleworncopper
Battleworn Copper RPG set from Die Hard Dice

The set pictured above is the “ancient” finish. I selected “Brilliant Gold,” “Battleworn Copper,” and Nickel for myself. When  I ran the Planet Mercenary play test at ConFusion I used two nickel six-siders and one gold one, which is pretty much perfect for the permutation factoring built into the Mayhem system.

I got the metal boxes for mine, along with a play mat which protects the surface of the table, and distributes enough of the throw² energy that the dice stay on the table, even when you roll them in a bit of a panic. I can’t properly describe my delight at the kinesthetic experience provided by these dice. I can describe the jealousy of the others seated at the game table, but I shan’t, because I hold those fine individuals blameless. I’d be jealous too.

The RPG sets (d20, d12, 2xd10, d8, d6, and d4) plus a metal box are $26.50. The 5xd6 sets are $18. The play mat is $8. There are “Brilliant Gold” RPG sets available with the box at scratch-and-dent pricing for $18. I don’t know how they scratched or dented the dice themselves, but I assume a diamond press was involved.

When I perused the Die Hard Dice website for links, I found that they have a new series of chrome dice with colored numbers. These will be mine as soon as Sandra gives me permission to spend money again.


 

¹Disclaimer: I accepted these as a gift³, with the understanding that if I loved them, and could in clean conscience recommend them, I would do so. I do, and I can, so I am, and now I have.
²Do not throw-throw these. They will do real⁴ damage. Roll them, like a gamer.
³If you were to take these away from me and tell me I needed to pay $75 to replace them I would do so the moment Sandra looked away from where my wallet currently sits.
If you are actually being attacked by something, these dice will fit in a conventional slingshot and inflict sufficient injury that you might be able to escape while your adversary admires your choice of projectile.