Hi there. Today was an awesome day! We woke up and at 7:30. We did our video games. Then we had an awesome breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, and raspberries. After that we went to SPA (my dad’s school) and my dad went into the building while we played in our hammocks. Then my dad went home with Oliver and made a picnic lunch. Then they came back and we had made a caterpillar home! Then we rolled down the big hill and went home 🏡.
My hobby, as anyone looking at this blog likely knows, is playing roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons and GURPS. A game, however, usually involves a few hours of face-to-face time around a table with far less than six feet of separation between people.
After social distancing, most gaming has moved online. Last summer I tried using MapTool with some of my former players in California. It was ok, but required software installation and had some confusing elements. The lack of video chat made us all feel somewhat distant from each other.
After COVID struck, I decided to try Roll20, which is one of the most popular current platforms. A major advantage is that it is browser-based, so nobody has to install software or manage port forwarding. We found the built-in A/V to be buggy, so we switched to Zoom for video chat.
Here’s what it looked like at our most recent game:
We’ve all found it to be acceptable but not nearly as much fun as getting together in person.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to try another type of socially-distanced gaming. Some good friends of ours who live a few blocks away have been wanting to learn how to play a roleplaying game for some time. They asked me if I would be willing to run a family game for them, along with Griffin and Maggie. Just as we were discussing a date to get together, the social lockdown began. We had an initial video chat to discuss how to build characters, but it felt like running an actual game on Roll20 would be difficult. So we improvised. Griffin, Maggie, and I set up on the front porch of our neighbor’s house. Our friends sat in their living room, with more than six feet of separation. It worked, though the guy who mowed his lawn across the street might have the loudest lawnmower I’ve ever heard.
The game featured the following motley crew:
- Alora — Gnome Bard (Isa)
- HeathStar — Human Scout (Adam)
- Iris — Elf Druid (Satya)
- Melia — Faerie Dragon Wizard (Maggie)
- Meow Meow — Cat-Folk Martial Artist (Megan)
- Sir Yvor Gryffyn — Human Knight (Griffin)
I’m not sure how things will unfold in the coming months. The porch worked well enough that I think we’ll stick with that idea for the family game. It only makes sense, though, for two households. My main group consists of seven separate households, so I can’t think of a configuration that works in-person. We’ll probably stick with Roll20 until social distance rules are further relaxed.
Less than three miles from our front door is this gem of a park along the shore of the Mississippi River. We’ve heard about it many times, but never explored it until this week. It was full of delightful surprises.
This kid wrote a thank you note to our Brake Bread delivery folks, and they loved his drawing so much, they turned part of it into a sticker ❤️ What a lovely surprise in our delivery today! @brakebread thanks for the cheer!
Leave them alone for a while and they come up with this:
Hello. Welcome to the party of welcoming warmness. So this is what we are going to do:
- Show talents
- Play games
- And whenever you feel like it, swing on the hammock.
This morning, winter was showing off. Crystalline magic 😍 ❄️ ❄️ ❄️
Maggie’s been asking about dying her hair for a long time. Sarah tried dying it at home last summer, but it washed out after the first trip to the pool. So we finally made a professional appointment. The choice of color was suspenseful. Last week she wanted it to be bright red. This morning, she was leaning toward “greenish blue.” The stylist convinced her that purple would work best with her natural color.
For the first time since 2011, I was able to go to Camp Widjiwagan this year as a chaperone for the week-long seventh grade trip. It was glorious to be back up north in the heart of winter.
The overall experience was similar to my first trip (as described in this post). I still enjoy cross-country skiing, but haven’t improved much in nine years; I still have a hard time managing downhill slopes where I pick up too much speed, panic, and crash. The sauna-dip experience involved much less trepidation, since I remembered it fondly from the first trip. It was just as good this time. For bedtime readings, I warmed my cabin up on Monday evening with one of my favorite creepy stories, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cats of Ulthar. The next night, the students requested more, so we dove into The Call of Cthulhu for the remaining nights, wrapping up on Thursday with a few brave students managing to stay awake for the ending.
A personal highlight, as mentioned in my previous post, was our Wednesday DFRPG game with Sam doing a masterful job in the GM’s chair. It was the closest my beloved character, Zafir Abrashi, has come to dying, being nearly digested by a giant carnivorous plant!
I didn’t take many pictures, but the selection below provides a sense of things. (All of the following are my photos except for the chaperone group which was taken by Molly McMahon.)
Update: My colleague, Cheryl Wilgren, shared some additional shots from the trip:
Gaming before lunch? Check. Gaming again after lunch? Check. Roaring fire? Check. Surrounded by wintery wilderness? Check. Still managed to get 17K+ steps and more than two hours of active minutes? Check! Can a day get better than this?