Last time on The Dining Campaign

The South Cormick Tax Association (read: Thieves’ Guild) revolted by some means, leaving a whole lot of very unhappy people (and tax collections halted via strike). Meanwhile, part of the party went after an orb of hallucinations… er… prophecy, which gave them disturbing visions of the future.

Present in this adventure:

  • Elena, Elven Rogue-like-Bard
  • Nocturne, Tiefling Cleric-like-Sorceress
  • Galwyn, Gnome Paladin-like-Cleric
  • Karma, Orcish Drunk-like-Monk
  • Dharma, Human Saijin-like-Monk

NPCs mentioned in this adventure:

  • Defender Yani Tyverius, Orcish Paladin of the Altecian Temple (and representative from the Unity Council on Religion)
  • Grothurn Faan, Archmagi and head of the Mage’s Guild of South Cormick
  • Horin, Halfling Arcane Trickster and representative of the South Cormick Tax Association (read: Thieves’ Guild)
  • Myra Cormick, Succubus Mayor of South Cormick.

  • Tanzain Habib, de-facto leader of the Merchant’s Guild / Habib Conglomerate 

  • Cheryl, a local seamstress and the jurist member of the city council.
  • Bertrum, an adventurer from a different search party than the PCs. Enchanter/Necromancer? No one is quite sure.

This is the adventure where the proverbial excrement hit the ventilation systemthe City-State of Cormick Council Meeting.

First, the party had learned (either in Adventure 14 or in this adventure) that three members of the council would not be attending. Tanzain had a prior appointment with the Habib Conglomerate and, when the council meeting was rescheduled, had a conflict he couldn’t deal with. Two others, however, did not attend – both Grothern Faan and Horin were no-shows. All three had sent their hidden ballots along in advance.

The party attended the council meeting held in the Tower of Power – the original tower that once held all of South Cormick (no really – this was from the original one-shot that started the previous campaigns). It had been spruced up to act as a meeting hall for Very Special Occasions – like a meeting that might dictate the future of South Cormick’s population and the population of the refugees that are starting to trickle in from the disaster of the city of Cannot Reach Because Cat*. Hundreds of people from town were in attendance.

The party put their diplomatic faces on and argued their case. They quickly realized they might not quite have had as much support as they thought, as Cheryl started asking some pretty important fiscal questions that led to some negative feelings.

The vote came back 4-3 in their favor, however, likely due to their persuasion skills (read: it was 5-2 against before they started talking to NPCs, but the party didn’t know that). As the meeting drew to a close, someone voiced an objection.

That someone was a 25? long skeletal dragon. That objection was a breath weapon attack on a surprise round, hitting the literal hundreds of people in that room. Lots of casualties, including bringing Cheryl to the brink of death and heavily injuring the remaining present members of the council… except Myra.

Myra, on the other hand, got charmed right before, by a surprise guest – Bertrum.

Bertrum was a mage of an adventuring party similar to this one. One that failed. They went off exploring a different plane with only a few members coming back. The party knew this, as they went around asking about the people in the party. The only bits that were being repeated were, basically, “Poor Bertrum. They never found his body!”

The party, naively, thought the phrase was that he was killed. Ha ha ha NOPE. Bertrum attacked the party. Strangely, Elena had actually figured most of this out ahead of time, but didn’t put enough pieces together to figure out exactly who on the party attacked. Well, the cat’s out of the bag now, as Bertrum arrives on the scene, being pleased as punch in charming what he viewed as his greatest foe.

The battle was hard fought… but short. Partially because we didn’t get to the battle until late in the adventure and partially because of some amazing rolls. Defender Tyverius (She’s SUPER EFFECTIVE against undead dragons, who knew!) and Commander Horus joined them, as did a contingent of guards with handguns (which mostly missed, but eh, thoughts counting and all).

The party all scattered and focused on backup. Karma went to go help Cheryl, surprising pretty much everyone, and actually managed to bring her back from the brink of death. Elena countered the charm effect on Myra (with, once more, a super lucky roll). Myra pretended to still be charmed afterward, but gave Elena a knowing wink. Galwyn helped her comrade-in-faith (even if it is a different / opposing faith) and went all smitey on the dragon. Dharma went after the dragon as well, swapping to Bertrum after finding his attacks less effective than normal. Nocturne played support (firing a few volleys at Bertrum as well), but ended up a bit distracted by Myra.

After deciding that the ruse has played its purpose, Myra cast Harm on Bertrum. A Divine Sorcerer magic sourced Harm, of the identical casting style and effect (although more powerful) as Nocturne. Nocturne may have finally found her first lead about her family.

After a bit, the party + support helped take out the Bone Dragon. They took out Bertrum shortly after, whose body simply disappeared. Turns out that Bertrum was a simulacrum – very powerful necromancy that allows someone to basically create a lesser double of themselves. Also explains the whole “never found his body” part.

* – not the actual name, but I couldn’t reach my notes at the time and the name has kind of stuck. I’m probably going to rename the city something that would have the initials CRBC somehow.

Oh hey, Tumblr decided I needed more friends…

… so it went ahead and added one for me. Without my input.




I know cats have a stigma of being evil little robots who care for nobody but themselves. I don’t deny that there are some out there like this. But in defense of the large majority of darling cats who have been given a bad name due to the wicked few, I would like to tell you a story…

I am asthmatic. I’m not as bad as some; my asthma is generally well-controlled, and I don’t have much trouble with it on a daily basis. However, as all asthmatics know, getting sick becomes a nightmare. Even a small cold can turn into a days-long asthma attack, one that is very painful, and very annoying for me and those around me. The asthma cough sounds like an ill seal at best, or an angry moose with a nasal condition at worst. Y’all with asthma, and y’all with asthmatic friends, know exactly what I’m talking about. The bark. The hack. The Cough Heard Round The World. It’s painful, it’s loud, and it doesn’t stop. Even the rescue inhaler can only do so much to calm it. It just has to run its course with the cold.

Well, this week I caught the crud, and in the past few days it deteriorated into The Cough. Last night, I took some NyQuil to try and stave it off for as long as I could, just to try and get some sleep. That meant that for a few hours, I was cough-free. After that, I was still doped up enough to sleep through some of it. However, by 2am the sleep aid had worn off and The Cough woke me up. Since lying down makes it worse, and I didn’t want to wake my sister, I sneaked out of my bedroom into the living room, where I sat on the recliner and proceeded to hack up a lung while I waited for my next dose of NyQuil to kick in. That is when I noticed Simon.

Simon is a Russian Blue with a masterful resting-witch-face and an attitude to match. She (yes, she’s a girl, that’s another story) is old, fat, proprietary, and attitudinal. She isn’t shy about telling you when she is displeased, and does so with a loud shriek and some teeth or claws thrown in. She is convinced she owns the place, and owns all of us in turn. She is particular about where you can pet her, like most cats; and, like most cats, she loves her sleep and hates to be woken up.

And of course, my hacking woke her up.

Attempting to whisper an apology in between bouts of coughing, I noticed she was getting off her perch atop the chair nearby. She stretched, made a little squeaking sound, and trotted over to me.

I expected her to demand petting as payment for having woken her precious sleep, but she did not. Instead, this traditionally cranky dragon of a cat did something that amazed me.

She began to purr loudly, and sat herself directly on my aching chest. She kneaded my sternum softly, and nosed my chin as if to say, “I’ve got this, you sleep.” Even though I was still coughing, and bouncing her horridly in the process, she remained settled on my chest right above my diaphragm, purring loudly so that it vibrated through my ribs. I don’t know what magic spell she was chanting between her boat-like purrs, but within minutes my cough had subsided and I was able to sleep.

I didn’t wake up until about 4:30. When I did, it was to discover that my lap and chest were devoid of Simon’s presence, and I was coughing again. As I started coughing once more, I heard her familiar “I’m here” squeak from the area of the water dish. I heard some hurried lapping, and then her heavy gallop across the floor. She flumped onto my lap again, and resumed her purring and kneading. She had evidently been doing that for the past 2 hours, and had only left to get some water. Hydrated, she had returned to take care of me.

So yes, she has her share of evil, jerk-cat moments, but I can no longer pretend that Simon is entirely heartless. For that matter, I now refuse to believe that about any cat. Just because they act like a jerk doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.




How to hack any hospital computer

-Use the password taped to the monitor

How to hack any hospital computer (L337 version for advanced security systems)

-Use the password taped to the back of the monitor

As a computer guy: This is what happens when you have too much security. It reaches a tipping point and then suddenly you have none.

Security at the cost of convenience comes at the cost of security.  

This is true of so many things in healthcare.  Example: our software is designed to automatically alert the doctor if a patient’s vital signs are critically out of range.  If someone has a blood pressure of 200/130, the doc gets a pop-up box that they have to acknowledge before doing anything else.  It makes sense, in our setting.

But then some mega-genius upstairs realized something: the system was only alerting for critical vital signs, but not for all vital signs that could possibly be bad.  Like, yeah, 200/130 is potentially life-threatening, but 130/90 is above ideal and can have negative effects on health.  Should the doctors be allowed to just ignore something that could negatively affect a patient’s health?  Heavens no!

So now the system generates a pop-up for any vital signs that are even slightly abnormal.  A pressure of 120/80 (once considered textbook normal, now considered slightly high) will create the pop-up.  We have increased our vigilance!

Well, no, what we’ve actually done is train doctors to click through a constant bombardment of pop-ups without looking.  We’ve destroyed their vigilance and made it much easier for them to accidentally skim past life-threatening vital signs.

But you can’t tell that to management, because you’d have to confess that you are a flawed human with limited attention resources.  They’d tell you “well, all the other doctors take every abnormal vital sign seriously, it sounds like you’re being negligent.”  And if you’re smart, you back down before you start telling the big boss all about your habit of ignoring critical safety alerts.

The end result is exactly the same as if we had no alerts at all, except with more annoying clicking.

This is called Alert Fatigue.

This is a major issue in the IT industry, especially in Medical IT. For that matter, it is a problem outside of IT as well, but this specifically is something that software companies actively try and avoid doing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean management listens and tends to bypass those default settings…

Last time on the Dining Campaign:

The party plans via speaking with each of the council members who will be deciding the fate of the Homestead Project with some… mixed results.

Sorry for the backlog of updates; been a bit busy.

Present in this adventure:

  • Elena, Elven Rogue-like-Bard
  • Nocturne, Tiefling Cleric-like-Sorceress (only Adventure 15, so not the Orb things)
  • Galwyn, Gnome Paladin-like-Cleric
  • Karma, Orcish Drunk-like-Monk
  • Dharma, Human Saijin-like-Monk

NPCs mentioned in this adventure:

  • Horin, Halfling Arcane Trickster and representative of the South Cormick Tax Association (read: Thieves’ Guild)
  • Myra Cormick, Succubus Mayor of South Cormick.
  • The Master, Elven Monk of the Shrine of the Clouds (also the master of both Karma and Dharma).
  • Brenda, Legendary Gnomish Cleric of Thrin. Galwyn’s personal hero… and the player’s previous character.
  • Thrin, gnomish deity of Good and Protection.

The sun rose and someone got up on the wrong side of the bed – namely, pretty much everyone. The Monks received word that their Master was in town to pick back up a loaned artifact – the Orb of Prophesy. Karma in particular was quite familiar with the orb, as she couldn’t leave things alone and constantly wanted to touch it, hence the rules of the orb mostly consisting of the phrase “Don’t touch the orb, Karma”.

As per the letter, Karma and Dharma were to recover the orb for their master from the person who borrowed it… and it turns out, the person who borrowed it is none other than Myra, the mayor of South Cormick. After much discussion (and finding out that Nocturne was away shopping), they went off to the Mayor’s office / chamber…

… only to find it completely ransacked and the Mayor utterly pissed off. Overnight, the South Cormick Tax Association (read: Sanctioned Thieves’ Guild) effectively went on strike… and also robbed the Mayor’s office blind. She was in there at the time (she sleeps and… does other things in there) and they basically went in with a distraction and ransacked the place in mere moments – signs that they had some magical help as well.

Naturally, the Orb was one of the things taken. The Orb case was there, they just took the orb out of it. Luckily, it was pretty easy to follow the thieves, as there is something a bit… wonky about that orb.

It is the Orb of Prophesies – basically, it starts spouting out prophesies to anyone that has the case open (OOC, think Bajoran Orb from ST:DS9). They’re not even necessarily good ones, but it does cause you to feel like you’re in said prophesy. Now imagine a completely uncovered orb going through the densest part of town and, well, you have a few thousand people tripping balls. Finding the trail was easy. Getting to the orb, now that’s a bit harder. The box was to keep the orb’s power at bay. Karma, at this point, decides to wear the box on her head. No, I’m not making that up.

Turns out, the thieves ended up going into the City-State aqueduct system to presumably some underground lair. Only they didn’t make it that far, as they started tripping more and more then longer they held on to that orb. The party, after basically hallucinating for an hour trying to get closer, eventually reaches a large viaduct access area. Inside is the Orb, the thieves (who are currently attacking a wall), and an Otyugh (currently attacking a different wall).

None of them could see the party (they’re too busy hallucinating), so Karma decides to go over and swim to the orb, picking it up. From here, Karma gets a vision of the future. After bringing the orb back to the party, everyone else does as well… then Karma remembers to take the orb container off of her head and put the orb in it.

The visions, however, were quite disturbing, with each PC getting a very different look on things. Karma saw a battle in which Dharma was just killed, Elena unconscious, one of the deities of the campaign setting killed next to her, and another figure she wasn’t familiar with trying to talk to her. Oh, and some nasty looking elf having just killed Dharma and about to go after Karma. The deity and the unknown person both looked out of place, Karma figuring out that the other figure is some other deity (The Young Goddess, as she found out later). Karma could only hold on to the vision for a few moments before it faded, but she did notice that she was WAY more powerful in the vision than she is in reality.

Note: Galwyn was not in her vision.

Dharma saw a city under attack. Focusing for a bit, he figured out that this is his future city – the one the party is trying to build – as the entire city was up on stilts like one of their plans. A gigantic gold dragon was breathing fire upon the settlement. Then Dharma turned and saw a figure off in a distance, wearing a very fancy and peculiar white dress with a very long train that just floated behind her, as though she was walking in slow motion. Then Dharma lost hold of the vision.

Elena had a vision of a dismal landscape, a partially destroyed South Cormick. There was an execution going on and, after a bit, she discovered that the person being executed is Myra, the mayor. A mighty axe was raised and fell to her neck, having the executioner’s hood blown off from the blow. Elena then saw that the executioner was none other than Galwyn, their party member. She then lost the vision.

Galwyn, however, had the most unusual vision of all. It started out as a typical prophecy, until someone literally pulled her out of it. She was shaken to wake up by a similarly sized person – a gnome. Galwyn focused for a bit and noticed a sword across her back – Thrin’s personal greatsword. The person in front of Galwyn is none other than Brenda, and not talking to her in a mystical way. According to this vision (and there was discussion back and forth), Brenda is actually the creator of the Orb of Prophecy, having put it there to replace the Water Orb that was once held by the shrine in the clouds (that’s part of the previous campaign). More importantly though, Brenda is currently acting as Thrin – answering prayers, granting powers, the whole nine yards – while Thrin is missing. She says that she knows Thrin is safe, but something terrible may happen in a year’s time – and Galwyn is apparently one of the keys to things happening.

Eventually, the party makes it back to the temple.

First real meal I've booked for myself in months.

First real meal I’ve booked for myself in months. by Shivers

Via Flickr:

As a lot of people know, I was diagnosed with severe depression years ago. The past several months have been really rough on me, to the point where I stopped cooking entirely a few months ago. I’ve slowly been working my way back up – first going back to making sandwiches, then cooking pre-prepared meals..

Today I cooked my first meal from might-as-well-be-scratch in over three (might even be four) months. Sure, it is a meal I’ve cooked many times before (although with some minor changes – quesadilla instead of cheddar cheese – A+, will do again), but still – I cooked a meal for over an hour and it is relatively healthy (other than the egg noodle base, but it is more broccoli than noodle). I didn’t have to do this, nothing was about to go bad, but… I did it.

I’m proud of myself. Allow me to show you my dinner.