We’re Wolves/Werewolves

Spooky Alert: I usually have music playing via Pandora when I do these writing exercises. As I prepared to write on the prompt “We’re Wolves/Werewolves”, I had a basic idea in mind. I clicked Pandora on my toolbar. The first song? “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen. Cue theremin music. Anyhoo, today’s exercise comes in at 288 words in the usual eight minutes. After the exercise, some game content.

Hunting Lesson

Father growled low in his throat. A warning sound. I slowed by approach. The man we stalked heard the rumble. He whirled left, then right, eyes wide, the scent of fear thick around him. The silver tip of Father’s spear glinted in the moonlight as the farmer clenched its haft in trembling hands. Father always armed our prey for these hunting lessons.

“Never underestimate humans,” he had told us with his human throat. “Their weakness is deceptive.”

Mother twitched her tail and flicked her ears. Sister and Younger Brother dashed to the left, deliberately making noise, shuffling leaves, snapping twigs. The man turned in the direction of their sound. His eyes squinted, trying to pierce the darkness that provided us cover but could not veil our eyes. Father snuffed gently, almost like a small sneeze. I hunkered down, creeping forward, my haunches higher than my shoulders, tensing, building energy for the charge.

Father had taken the man from the nearby village, ambushing him in the barley field. The man had snuck away from his home with a bottle of wine. He put up little fight. Father had taken dozens of humans over the years, both for us and for his earlier litters. I had once met some of my older siblings, but we seldom saw them. They had their own packs now.

Father’s howl ripped the night. Sister and Younger Brother rushed forward, but it was a feint. The man screamed, jabbing as he retreated. My siblings came nowhere near the deadly silver, but instead bounded to a halt and then split up, racing back into the darkness in two directions. Then Mother rushed the man. She was so silent. Only her deliberate growl warned him of her approach.

Lycanthroid for Mutant Future

No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180′ (60′) (wolf form); 120′ (40′) (human form)
Armor Class: 7 (wolf form); armor type (human form)
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (bite) (wolf form); 1 (weapon) (human form)
Damage: 2d4 (wolf form); weapon type (human form)
Save: L8
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 300

Lycanthroids are mutant wolves with near human intelligence and exceptional cunning. They are pack hunters regardless of which form they currently have, those forms being either a large wolf or a seemingly normal human. Lycanthroids roam in packs, moving between human settlements and the wilderness as circumstances require. These mutants prefer to fight in wolf form.

Mutations: Combat Empathy, Epidermal Susceptibility (silver), Increased Smell, Metamorph (Pure Human), Regenerative Capability

February 13th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Sometimes Avocados Go Bad

Today’s prompt: Sometimes Avocados Go Bad. Word count: only 198 in about 8 minutes.

Irritating Robert

“Aw, man!”

Robert’s cry came from the kitchen. I sat in the rocking chair, sewing a button back onto my shirt.

“What?”

“The avocados are bad,” came the reply.

“Must be the pits.”

A few seconds of silence before: “Don’t start.”

I grinned. “Start what?”

Robert appeared in the space between the living room and kitchen. He was holding a bowl of avocados. “The bad jokes.”

“Are you saying I shouldn’t pun-ish you?”

I could see Robert’s jaw clench. It didn’t unclench as he said, “Seriously. I’m not in the mood for your nonsense.”

“Bummer,” I said, not meaning it at all. “I guess this means were not having guacamole.” I pronounced it gwak-a-mole. Long o in that last syllable.

“I’m warning you.”

“How about the quesadillas?” Pronounced kway-sah-dill-uhz. “You still going to fix those? Also, I could really go for a margarita.” I rolled the R.

The hand not holding the bowl of avocados joined Robert’s jaw in the clenching. I grinned some more, especially after I saw the vein in his forehead start to pulse. It’s really his own fault. If he weren’t so easy to irritate, I’d lose interest and move on to other activities.

February 11th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

There Is a Crack in Everything

As the seasons change, I again find my ability to concentrate frazzled. Getting up in the morning is even more of a chore than normal, and, while I tend toward irritable most of the time, even little things at least pinch my nerves more than normal. I’ve got some good ideas for new game material, and I’ve even started a couple of drafts, one being a new Swords & Wizardry character class and another a short adventure for the same game, but that brings me back to where I started this paragraph.

Lent starts today. This is a time for ruthless self-improvement, for gimlet-eyed examination of conscience, et cetera. Common practice is to “give something up”. I’m sure most people are familiar with the idea. “I’m giving up chocolate.” “I’m giving up coffee and alcohol.” “I’m giving up Facebook.” And so on. I’m not good at giving up things. I’ll keep drinking coffee and alcohol, for example. I’m still going to browse Facebook. Last year, I did give up repeating myself to my students. That was fun and instructive. This year, I’m going to give up not doing things. I’m going to stop not writing, stop not going to aikido class, and so on. I think I need to be less concerned with breaking bad habits and more concerned with developing good ones (which is really the same thing).

So, how about some goals? I’m going to finish that aforementioned character class and that short adventure this month. The former will go up for sale on-line as normal, and the latter will launch my foray into Patreon as a purveyor of hand-drawn maps, short scenarios, new monsters, and such. I’m also going to aikido class tomorrow evening, and that’s going to become at least a twice weekly thing (three times a week being the most I can attend).

And now, today’s writing exercise. I hit 276 words in eight minutes on the prompt “There Is a Crack in Everything”.

The Things I Do for the People I Love

“Dad!” my daughter’s voice wailed from the back of the house. I ignored her. I was busy. Sort of. One can be busy reading a book. But then her voice came again, louder, more insistent in the urgency of the moment. “Daaad!”

I stuck the gas station receipt slash bookmark into the book, tossed it to the side onto the sofa, and walked down the hall to poke my head into her room. A week’s worth of laundry had exploded across her floor. I repressed the urge to roll my eyes and complain, and instead smiled.

“Yes, baby girl?”

My daughter frowned, holding up her I-whatever-it-is. The screen was cracked.

“It’s cracked, Dad,” she said. Her disappointment was palpable, not because my daughter is obsessed with material things, but because she has inherited quite honestly both my facility to be outraged by minor injustices and her mother’s calm, thoughtful pensiveness about the small disappointments in life.

“Everything gets cracked eventually,” I said, realizing this was hardly reassuring.

“It happened at church, at the gala.” I silently wondered why anyone would bring an I-whatever-it-is to church. “I had set it down while I was working the welcome table. Someone must have put something down on it.”

I frowned. Shrugged. “I wish there was something I could do. Do you know who did it?”

“It was probably Nicholas. He was carrying trays for the kitchen, and put them down on the registration table.”

I sighed and smiled. “You want me to punch Nicholas in the throat?”

My daughter laughed and nodded, and that’s how ended up here, in the county lock-up. All in all, not my best decision.

February 10th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Losing My Religion

Back on track after taking a few days off to do Other Things. First post this week: an 8-minute writing exercise on the prompt “Losing My Religion”. About 280 words. Slow going it seemed on this. I knew where I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to get there in too big of a hurry.

Answering Prayers

She knelt in the chapel, nearly alone. In the back, another woman, older, head covered with a scarf, lips moving silently, fingers counting the beads. Closer to the front, a statue of the Blessed Virgin, eyes modestly lowered, hands open, stood beneath a painting of Jesus sitting on his mother’s lap.

“I need that job,” she whispered, eyes shifting from statue to painting to floor. “I can’t do this alone, either. Not with the kids, and with….” Her whisper trailed off. Thoughts crowded in, choking her words.

“Forgive me,” a man said.

She started. She didn’t know anyone was sitting behind her. She had been so focused on her problems, that she had not heard him enter the pew.

“I don’t mean to pry,” he continued, “but I couldn’t help but over hear.”

Anger flared up, and she turned, more accurately, twisted, to look at the man behind her. He was middle-aged. Graying at the temples and in the neatly trimmed beard. His eyes were also gray. He wore a tweed jacket over a turtleneck sweater. He smiled, and even seemed to blush a little.

“I might be able to help you,” he continued, ignoring her glare. “I’m in charge of a number of ventures, and I’m always looking for people to help me.”

Her expression softened. Her spine relaxed. She leaned a bit closer to him, detecting a whiff of something perhaps metallic.

“What do you mean?”

His smile remained fixed. “What I mean is I can help you with your job situation. But I’ll need a show of faith. Nothing is free.”

His eyes flicked to the votive candles.

“Blow one out,” he said. “Just one, and then we can talk some more.”

February 8th, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Bubbles, Dark and Neat

Today’s writing exercise is inspired by this week’s benchmark testing at the school where I teach and by conversations about the benchmark testing with a couple other teachers. The prompt is “Bubbles, Dark and Neat”. This is about 327 words.

Assessment Drives Instruction

“Please verify your CitIdent number at the top of the testing form.”

I listened to the proctor’s voice but didn’t look up. She sounded pleasant but bored. The testing form rested on the desk in front of me. Two columns. Fifty rows per column. Four small circles per row. I verified my CitIdent number.

“Please verify that the ProgEv test number on the booklet matches the ProgEv test number beneath your CitIdent number.”

It did.

“Are there any identity discrepancies?”

There were not. Not a single error in a room full of more than one hundred people taking their quarterly progress evaluation. I’d been taking these tests four times a year every year for the past twelve years starting with my tenth birthday. There were never any errors. Errors were not tolerated.

“When I say ‘start’, please break the seal on the ProgEv test booklet. Turn to page one. Answer the questions to the best of your ability. Ensure you mark your answers on the testing form. Ensure your circles are properly bubbled in. Make them dark and neat to avoid scoring errors.”

I sighed and waited. I thought about breaking the seal early, or not breaking it all, but instead I just sighed and waited.

“Start.”

I broke the seal, turned to page one, and started to read. The first story was a piece about two children playing at a lake. One of the children pushed the other child into the lake and laughed at him. This other child was physically uninjured but suffered harm to his self-concept. After the reading came the questions. Five multiple choice questions with four choices each.

“Why did John push Michael into the lake?” I read silently to myself. I then read the possible answer choices. All of them seemed like good choices to me, but one of them was more correct that the others. I sighed again. I’d sigh frequently during the test if previous experience was any guide.

February 3rd, 2016  in RPG 2 Comments »