Friday, June 29, 2012

Report from the Library - Reference has Moved!

       With the help of staffers and especially our wonderful student assistants, the Reference books are now interfiled with the circulating collection in our main stacks area. I expect that now the reference works will see more use, as they are now 'discoverable' right next to circulating books. I saw many instances where a Non-Circulating copy went on the shelf right next to its circulating twin. As mentioned before, a lot of books in the Reference collection have been turned loose to circulate, so the 'Reference collection' is much smaller now, but we only want the big, expensive and foundational works to stay in the libary.
     The space Reference has occupied is going to be re-purposed as study space, along with a redesigned Reference desk which will also incorporate Circulation and Interlibrary Loan. When the students return in the fall, the library will have a new look, which in my mind is a good thing, as it will encourage students to take another look at us and the services we offer.I think it would be good to add another copier/printer into the new study area, as a lot of students will want to take articles or chapters from the non-circulating books with them. Having to trek across the library to the existing copiers, not located near the new study area, will discourage the in-house use of non-circulating books.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Report from the Library - Reference is Moving!

     As I posted last month, our Reference collection is being integrated into our Main collection, now that a goodly portion of the books have been converted to circulating status. Today we began the laborious process of moving and inter-filing the remaining reference books into the main collection. Why on a Friday?  Because we've got new furniture coming in next week to take the place of the vacated shelving, and the furniture delivery can't be pushed back or put on hold. We should have it done in time for the guys from buildings & grounds to tear them down and put up the new stuff.  Many hands make light work, so they say, but I say encyclopedias are heavy no matter who lifts them. Our team of staff and students pitched in with gusto, and made a good start. We've got a quarter of it done, and I suspect that this quarter will prove to be the hardest. First, because we were developing our processes as we went, so there were bugs to work out, and secondly, classes A & B, which cover General Works, Philosophy, Psychology and Religion, have a lot of multi-volume sets in them, which have to be filed as sets. This means that we have to open up entire shelves or more to fit these sets in, which means we have to shift as many as 30 shelves away to make room. Once we get into the History classes (C, D, E & F) there will be fewer sets and less mass shifting. I'll report back on our progress next week.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Animals in the Kingdom of God

     Yesterday afternoon I buried a cat. A friend of ours, a single mom, had to put the family cat down, and the kids wanted it to be buried in the back yard. So I dug a hole (no easy feat in Virginia red clay) and we laid the cat to rest.
     Although the kids did not ask me "is our cat in heaven now?", I believe that we very well may see beloved pets in the Kingdom of God. I can't speak formally for the Church's position on this, to the best of my research she doesn't have one. It has never come up as a question that needed a definitive answer. All the same, taking what I do know about the life of the world to come, I'd like to lay out my case for why we may have pets in the kingdom.
      The Church confesses in the Nicene Creed that God created all things visible and invisible, which includes pets. Genesis (1:25) tells us that when God created the beasts of the field, He saw that it was good. The Church teaches that Jesus became Incarnated to redeem not only fallen humanity, but all of creation as well.
      Many of the prayers of the Church (St. John Chrysostom's liturgy is full of these) which ask for God's mercy include the statement "For You are good and love mankind" It is in God's nature to love us, and do good for us.
     So, God made animals, and animals are good, and the animal kingdom will be redeemed along with mankind at the Second Coming when Christ makes all things new. The dead in Christ will be raised and their bodies restored and glorified. It is not at all a stretch to believe that beloved family pets may be so raised as well. This would be a cause for much joy among His people, and our loving Father loves to give good gifts to His children.
     This is my reasoning which leads me to believe that we may (I cannot say will, for I am no prophet, nor do I read God's mind) have our pets with us in the Kingdom of God.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Didn't See That Coming, Round Two

     This evening, while I was out walking my dogs, I happened to notice a bit of commotion in front of the townhouse directly opposite mine. I walked over to investigate and found my across-the-street neighbors, college students at the school where I work, had succeeded in locking themselves out of their house. Fortunately this was not one of those movie setups where someone got out of the shower and went outside in a towel. But I digress. Despite the niggling concern that I might have been aiding and abetting housebreakers, I fetched my ladder and one of the students hoisted themselves into an upstairs window that was unlocked. As the fellow was half-way through the window, one of the ones holding the ladder optimistically opined "what could go wrong now?" I was reminded of THIS entry over at TV Tropes. Yes, I spend a lot of time reading there. It's fun. You should go have a look. Well the fellow got in, and the door was unlocked, and they weren't thieves, and now I'm going to bed. What fun it is to have college students for neighbors.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wisdom from the Fathers - St Basil the Great


Today is the Feast Day of St Basil the Great, one of the Cappadocian Fathers. 
     Some individuals are sharp enough at examining physical facts, but are culpably blind in regard to the knowledge of the truth.
      They know how to measure the distance of the stars, to list those that shine in the region of the North Pole and those that are visible only to the inhabitants of the areas around the South Pole, and they know how to track the course of each one with great care.
      Of all their abilities only one is missing that which would enable them to discover God as creator of the universe and as a just judge who will reward each of the action s of our existence as it deserves, an ability that would permit them at the end of the world to have an adequate idea of universal judgment.
I is in fact absolutely necessary that the world should be transformed if our souls are due to be transformed in a different kind of life.
      As the present life has affinities with the nature of this world, so the kind of existence which will apply to our souls tomorrow will have to have an environment appropriate to their new condition. 

From the Hexaemeron

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Research Access for Graduated Students?

     Today I ran across an article published on the Opinion pages of the Washington Post. Keep the Library open after Graduation The authors argue that it is a bad thing that college students, upon graduation, lose access to all of the professional literature resources that the academic library provides. Based upon this assertion, they propose that "the president can mandate that articles resulting from our $60 billion annual investment in federal non-defense research grants be made freely available within six months". They say that this will quickly 'fix' the problem.  I have known of very few instances where a 'quick fix' actually fixed without creating new problems. 
     The first thought that came to my mind when I read this was "Why does the idea of this (or any) President making 'make it so' pronouncements cause me to become uncomfortable?"  Oh, yeah, we live in a representative democracy, not a autocracy. Tossing around $60 billion should be handled by legislative process, not bureaucratic fiat. 
     Then I got to thinking about the library related problems with this. For one thing, most of the research I've seen on student study patterns says that they don't use the library's resources very often even when they're in school. Why do we suppose that they'll suddenly develop a taste for research once they graduate?  For another thing, all that grant money goes to support the research, not the publishing thereof. Publishers do the work of collecting, editorially reviewing and providing access to research, however the original research was funded. Publishing of professional & trade journals is a business, like any other publishing outfit. So where does the money to pay for publishing come from?  Will the research money be diverted to create new publishing structures to keep the research "free"? This would result in either decreased funding for research, or additional taxes to cover the publishing costs. Do we not mind forcing publishing companies out of business by creating parallel structures with which they cannot compete?  
     Another problem for libraries with this proposal is that not all of our content, for which we pay, comes from publicly funded sources. This proposal does nothing to increase access to this body of research. Most publishers or content providers base their pricing on the size of the user group; the larger the group, the higher the cost. This is accepted as normal by libraries, and makes sense. The current access control method used by most academic libraries that I know of is IP authentication. If a person (faculty, staff, student, alumni) is a registered user on a network, they have access to the resources of that network. By counting the number of registered users, the library can inform the content provider of the size of the user group, and work out pricing accordingly. Introduce a whole lot of suddenly free content, and libraries, with their limited budgets, will be hard pressed not to turn primarily to those less expensive sources, which would lead to loss of revenue to privately-funded content providers. That means they go out of business, and we lose ALL of their content which they can no longer afford to provide. Result: libraries lose, patrons lose.
     Any librarian will tell you that yes, journals subscriptions are expensive. This is not a new problem, it has been an active issue in libraries for decades. If the solution was simply to announce from the White House that 'everything is free now', how come I've never heard a librarian propose that? Because we know that the issue is more complicated than that. I am not fluent in all the complexities of journal pricing structures, but it is not a matter of publishing companies making obscene profits by siphoning off public grant money. There are actual costs involved, as is the case with everything. Those costs will not magically go away. 
     I am not arguing for maintaining the status quo; more access to professional research would be a good thing. I am arguing that what these writers propose would not solve the existing problem and would create new ones. It would be nice if everything were free, but that simply is an unrealistic expectation.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Planet Building: an Essay

     I thought that it was about time that I tried writing something longer for this blog, so I chose the subject of planet-building in the Traveller role playing game.I'm pretty pleased with this essay, and while it is not startlingly original, I hope that it may give a few useful ideas to my fellow Traveller players. 


Planet-building with the Classic Traveller System

Traveller is about travel, about visiting new places, and this means planets. Whether in the Official Traveller Universe or in my own universe (seehere) planets begin with the Universal Planetary Profile or UPP, which is a string of characters that indicate basic facts about a planet. But if you stop there, all you have is a skeleton. With a little imagination and a bit of math, you can take this framework and build compelling, interesting challenging planetary settings. My thesis in this essay is that the Classic Traveller (CT) basic planet building system is simple yet robust, allowing for great variety, and easily accepting of creative input from the referee. While the all-desert planet of Tatooine & the all-arctic planet of Hoth worked well as backdrop for the story that Star Wars was telling, that's all they were – backdrop. It is clear that the writers of Star Wars did not give the setting too much thought, as we are given no other information about the planets. Planets in Traveller are setting, and the PCs should interact with the environment that surrounds them. Since the planets can't really be seen, the referee has to describe the planet with enough detail that the players can imagine where they are. The CT system provides the referee with enough data to do this.

The CT planet building system codifies the world by starport size, planet size, atmospheric composition, extent of oceans (hydrosphere), population, government, law and technology levels. The first four are physical and the last four are social characteristics.

I suppose that Starports can be compared to modern-day airports, if by air was the only way to get from one country to the next. It's not on this planet, but in Traveller the starport is likely the first point of contact between the PCs and a new world. Starports get letter ratings, with higher letters indicating increasingly primitive facilities, with X as the worst meaning no landing facilities of any kind. What can the starport tell us about the planet's inhabitants? In the design sequence, starport rating has a big influence on technology rating, so planets with the best ports tend to have higher tech. Also, better starports have more trade and general contact with the rest of the universe. Remember, even though planets 1&2 are right next to each other on the subsector map, they are still 3 or more light years apart, and very effectively isolated without the presence of starships, and starports at which to land them.
Not that long ago, I discovered something new in the Traveller rules. I was reading Book 3, Worlds and Adventures, and in the section on world design, lo and behold, there was a chart I had never noticed before. I have checked The Traveller Book and Starter Traveller (yes, I own all three rule books – The Traveller Book was a gift from a friend and Starter Traveller I got for free from Drive-Thru RPG [www.drivethrurpg.com]) and it wasn't in either of them. The chart gives a semi-random method for determining the presence of trade routes, based on starport type. Trade routes can give your PCs a reason to visit a world – there will be cargo to buy or sell, patrons to find, or pirates to fight.
Somewhere (I'll remember at some point) I read a suggestion that a planet's population be multiplied by 4% (or less for lower-tech worlds) to determine the number of tons of shipping operating to and from that world. This can be modified based on the starport or tech level, or whatever. If we assume that this figure covers both freight and passenger shipping, now you have an idea of how busy the starport is, and how many ships may be in 'local space' around the planet. This should be conditional upon the quality of the starport. High levels of space traffic will necessitate more port facilities. Also, a planet (particularly balkanized ones, see Government) may have more than one port, but the one in the UPP rating is the highest/best/biggest one.

The next stat in the UPP string is Size. At first glance, all this tells us is the planet's diameter. Right away, this can tell us two things: the surface area, and the relative gravity. A few things can be made of these facts.
Planet Earth is listed in CT canon as being size 8, and we measure gravity from Earth's baseline of 1G. Larger planets (size 9+) will have higher gravity, and smaller worlds will have lower gravity. In the rules section on personal combat there is a table for gravitational effects, showing how different planet sizes affect carrying capacity. Gravity can either be a side-note or a significant plot element, depending on what the PCs will do there. In my short story Just Across Town, the planet's lower gravity becomes important as the protagonists find that they are the strongest people around.
Working from the assumption that all planets are (roughly) spherical, the formula [4*Pi*r^2] will give us the planet's surface area in square km. This will later be affected by the Hydrosphere stat. All other information about the planet's physical shape are left to the referee. Yes, I know later works, Book 6 Scouts and the World Builder's Handbook, go into greater detail, but I don't think that's needed in most cases, except for PCs on survey mission. A few questions you should answer are: how hot or cold is the planet, generally? Is it the only planet in the local system, or are there others? What kind of matter makes up the planet? Are there lots of metals, or few? Will plants grow in the soil, or not? Atmosphere and hydrosphere will influence local flora & fauna but physical composition can be whatever you want it to be.

Atmosphere plays a more significant role in the habitable-ness of a world than size does. Breathing is not optional, so it is important to know what there is to breathe and how much. The atmosphere table lists varying densities of atmosphere, interspersed with contaminants and some alternate compositions. The rules assume that the main components of the atmosphere are nitrogen and oxygen, unless otherwise specified. Thin, Standard and Dense atmospheres can be breathed without assistance, but tainted and exotic atmospheres will need life support gear of some kind. Consult any basic chemistry book and you'll find enough compounds to pollute the air and keep things interesting. If you want to go for the more exotic atmospheres, remember that such planets will have very different flora and fauna from earthlike planets. You can't have daffodils growing on a planet where it rains sulfuric acid.

At the extreme end of the atmosphere table are the non-breathable ones, including the insidious atmosphere which can eat through your protective gear, thereby ending the adventure and ruining the PC's day. The equipment lists give you all the gear your PCs will need to handle the atmosphere issues, but what will they do when the gear breaks or malfunctions? You've got instant adventure, just take away the oxygen. The absence of oxygen or the presence of toxic gases is of enormous importance to anyone spending time out in the open, and while it need not always be a major element of an adventure, the atmosphere should not be ignored. Both the Classic Traveller adventure Shadows and Lois M Bujold's novel Komarr (part of the Vorkosigan series) use the atmosphere as a significant device in moving the plot.

Humans and other carbon-based life forms need water to survive, so it is important to know how much water a planet has. Again, the rules assume that the liquid is water, rather than something else. The hydrosphere table is graduated percentages of the surface covered by water. This figure includes all oceans, lakes, rivers and ponds. Some of it, at the poles, will possibly be ice. Or if you've decided the world is cold enough, all of it can be ice. For each level, the specific percentage can be +/- 5% of the given value. If the atmosphere is unusual enough, it might be another liquid, if the atmosphere is tainted, expect the water to contain the same contaminant.

Any settled area is going to need access to water, so plan on having lots of beachfront property. It almost does not need to be said that the surface area of the planet will be effectively reduced by the presence of bodies of water. The nice thing is that when drawing maps of the planet, just about any arrangement will make sense, so no great cartographic skill is required. All the dry land can be in one large mass, or if it fits the adventure better, the planet can be dotted by volcanic islands. Something to keep in mind is that the extent of the hydrosphere affects the amount of rainfall, and the extensiveness of plant (and therefore animal) life.

There may be plenty of uninhabited planets/moons/asteroids in the universe, but sooner or later your PCs will want to make contact with other people. So let's talk about populations. The population table scales the population in exponentially increasing levels. As such, massively crowded worlds and frontier outposts with less than twenty people are all possible. In many cases, there doesn't need to be much explanation for why people live on this planet. Good starports, breathable air and decent technology are usually reason enough. On the other hand, it is quite possible to randomly generate a world the size of our moon, with almost no atmosphere and no water, that is never the less home to five hundred million people. THAT takes a little explaining. The question that instantly comes to mind when looking at such disagreeable environments is “why does anyone live there?” You as the referee have to give them a reason to do so. Alternately, you can just exercise referee fiat and change the numbers to make it less awful-sounding. I will give my answer to that question at the end of this essay. For now, the population is there, so what are they doing? Trade classification can help with this, and taking into consideration the physical factors of the planet, think of some Earth society that lives in similar conditions, and you've got ready-made society characteristics to work with. Cold weather but breathable air could be turned into Norwegians in space, densely packed domed cities could be likened to Hong Kong or any other big city. Let the physical stats guide your decision but don't be afraid to just make stuff up.
Ah, government. Where would we be without it? The Government table lists various government setups in no particular order, including anarchy, clan/tribe rule, traditional monarchies, straight democracies and even religious dictatorships. Some of the government descriptions may sound strange. I am told that Marc Miller, the main designer of Traveller, studied sociology in college, so his terminology for these types are technical. 'Charismatic' is the one that always threw me. To be brief, there are two general kinds of governments, rule by the one (few) and rule by the many. You can choose to include details of how the government is set up, division of powers, etc or you can just decide on how much the government gets itself involved in peoples everyday life. Here as with populations, we have a wealth of real-world examples to work with. Not every planet should be like 20th-century America, nor like 20th-century Soviet Russia, but those are two possibilities. Any type of government can be corrupt or honest, effective or incompetent, massively in debt or fiscally sound. Decide what will work best for your adventure, and go with it. Keep record of what the government is like, and decide what that means in terms of that planet's interaction with the rest of your universe.

Law level is where most PC groups will at least initially, interact with the government of a world, by breaking the local laws. The Traveller book suggests rolling Law Level or less on 2D to see if the PCs have a run-in with the law. Imagination should be used here as much as elsewhere. To what extent is law enforcement visible or obvious? Is enforcement of the stated Law Level strict or lax? What are the likely consequences of law-breaking? How much do you want this to be a part of the group's adventure? The threat of fines or imprisonment can keep rowdy PCs restrained, or alternately, despotic forces can be used as the 'villain' for the PCs to oppose.
Law Level descriptions focus on permitted weapons, which brings up an important point: if the PCs are allowed to carry guns, then so is everyone else. Don't be afraid to overpower the PCs with well-armed constabulary. Unlike other RPGs where PCs can get blasted with dragon fire and walk away with most of their hit points, in Traveller, even a handgun can be deadly.
Law level can also reflect that world's attitude towards the PCs. Worlds with low LL may be more open and welcoming, preferring to use social pressure (which can itself be quite harsh) rather than laws to keep the peace. However, once the PCs violate local norms, the response may be swift and direct. For an example of this, read H Beam Piper's Lone Star Planet, available from Librivox or Gutenberg. At the other end, worlds with high LL may rely on the presence of law enforcement to maintain the peace and as long as 'no law was broken', PCs can act as they wish. And of course, don't forget the ever-popular 'police state' setup where the government itself has become the enemy of the people.

For a game set in the “Far Future”, Traveller has always been pretty light on the high-tech goodies. For people who are very familiar with the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, this can make Traveller seem very dated and, well, lame by comparison. Staples of those franchises like lightsabers, transporter beams (teleporters), instant communication across light years and simply gigantic space ships are absent from Traveller. Communication is limited to the speed of travel, ships have to actually land on planets, and most people are armed with projectile weapons. I have seen on the Citizens of the Imperium discussion board numerous discussions of “why do they still have metal swords in the far future?” and “Why are they still using projectile guns? “. Let me say again that Traveller and Star Wars both came out in 1977 – so the two had almost no direct influence on each other, quite apart from the fact that they are two different media, with two different purposes. Traveller gets it inspiration from lots of sources, mostly sci-fi writings from the 1950's through the 1970's. Just to name a few, there's Piper, (mentioned above), Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, E C Tubb, Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlien, and the list goes on. It seems to me that most of these writers didn't worry so much about fancy visually-appealing technological widgets (not so important for print media) and instead wrote about ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) people and the problems they faced. By contrast, the Star Wars and Star Trek films had to put a lot into visual effects, because that's what films do. Plus the pace of story telling is much faster in films or TV shows than in books. That's why even a regular sized book gets made into a miniseries or gets large parts of the story cut out. While it may be visually appealing to watch some bit of technobabble resolve the conflict of the story (yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation, I'm looking at you), it's a lot more dull to read about some piece of equipment doing the hero's job for him. Accuse me of being unfair to films/TV if you will, I'm just saying that Traveller is a lot closer to sci-fi books than it is to sci-fi films.

Striker provides a rule for determining a planet's (or properly a government's) Gross Planetary Product. This is simply the Gross Domestic Product in space. This value can influence or be influenced by the presence or absence of a trade route – it also asks some useful questions. Why does this planet have all this cash? The Striker rule also has guidelines for determining the planet's military budget. I've compared the range in Striker with current real-world military budgets as a % of GDP [see CIA factbook table here: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2034.html#138] and it seems to track well with the real world. Even without the use of the Striker formula, if you take a look at real-world countries and find one that you want to use as a model, you can give your players an illustration of how well-off or impoverished a planet is.
Once you have your planetary population figure, you can use this number to determine another feature, the inhabited area. Begin with assigning a population density to the world. For example, the average population density of the United States is about 32 ppl/km^2, but this figure varies widely on our planet. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_population_density) The pop density figure should reflect the conditions on the planet, so look at the atmosphere code. As a guide, the further your planet's atmosphere code is away from six (Standard) the higher the density is likely to be. If the air is breathable, the population can afford to spread out. On the other hand, if the population is confined to sealed or enclosed spaces, they're likely to be all together in a few cities, with few if any outlying villages. Decide if this settled area is all one contiguous blob, or if there are multiple settled areas with unsettled space in between. How long the planet has been settled? The longer a population has been there, the more likely they are to be spread out. Once you're satisfied with the pop density number, just divide the population figure by the density and you have the settled area in square kilometers. Most planets will have significant unsettled and possibly unexplored areas that are prime adventure locations. Off the radar, outside the comm-sat network, there could be partisans, pirates, refugees, almost anything.

Earlier on, I asked the question that comes up with less-than-Earth-like planets, to wit: Why do people live on such a crappy world? Because of the importance of place. George Friedman over at Strategic Forecasting (www.stratfor.com) wrote an essay entitled “The Love of One's Own and the Importance of Place” where he argues that people love what they know, without having to be taught to do so. One's family, one's language and culture, the familiar places where you've always lived, have a significance that defies cold logic. To sum up, and quote a character from Harry Harrison's Deathworld books, “Me born here, me stay here, me die here. Ugh.”
Sure, planet Zog has a poisonous atmosphere. But, darnit, we're Zoggians and proud of it! All that has to be explained is why someone came there originally. Just about any explanation will do, from mining the resources, to crash-landing there, to wanting to found a colony free from the oppression of whoever was formerly oppressing them.
In conclusion, I realize, that this can, when you look at it all in one go, seem like a lot of work. The great thing is that you don't have to go to this level of detail with every world, unless you want to. Creating UPP's is quick and easy, just a series of dice rolls and a few tables to consult. Most planets in your universe will just be the UPP string and a spot on the map. Once you are familiar with the how of fleshing out the skeleton, the what becomes much easier. As to the when, this level of detail is only needed when your PC group is going to spend an important amount of time on the planet, outside of the spaceport or their own ship. If you want them to have an adventure on this planet, give it as much detail as the adventure needs, and run with it. Feel free to borrow ideas & concepts from other media, or from real life! With practice, creating details based on the UPP can be done on the fly, for when the PC group goes somewhere unexpected. A little imagination can transform a boring string of characters into an exciting, unexpected, mysterious world for your PC group to explore.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gaming Report - Battle of Chantilly

       This morning I served as referee as my sons and two of their friends re-fought the Battle of Chantilly, also known as Ox Hill. Never heard of it?  Not surprising, as it was historically a minor skirmish between the 2nd Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Antietam. Look it up. Then Examine the map.
     Right from the start, this battle was a toe-to-toe slugfest.  The Confederate forces, attempting to stop Pope's retreat back to Washington, took up positions on and around Ox Hill, near Chantilly. The game objective for the Union was to force the Confederates off of Ox Hill, and the Confederates had to hang on to the hill for two hours, the game's stated length. 
      The Union forces, occupying some covering stands of trees, pushed forward aggressively, both sides charging into melee every turn. The Confederate artillery on Ox Hill quickly silenced the Union guns in a classic artillery duel, but Union reinforcements were able to replace the guns and knock out the Ox Hill batteries. The Confederates, fearful of being pushed off the map by morale checks in melee, advanced into the Union lines, and brigades got mowed down like wheat. 
     After two hours of close in fighting the remnants of the Confederate forces re-grouped on Ox Hill, consisting of several brigade-less commanders, a third of Stafford's brigade and Gen Kearney's staff. One of the last three intact Union brigades charged up the hill to push the Confederates off. The whole battle came down to one die roll - whichever side rolled higher would hold the hill and win the game. Much to our surprise, the tottering Confederates held on by a fingertip, and forced the Union back as time ran out. There was much cheering and some weeping, but everyone had a good time. We hope that there will be more events like this over the summer.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Gallery of Worlds

     I just picked up my copy of the latest issue of Gallery of Worlds, the free e-zine from Lantern Hollow Press. LHP published my short story, Snowball, last year. It's free, all original work, not necessarily Traveller related, but good fiction & poetry. I've added a link to their writing blog, While We're Paused, on my blog list, and also here.