Saturday, March 14, 2020


Welp, it's not quite martial law out here in the ol' Pacific Northwest, but things aren't all sunny and roses either. And if you're talking about the local economy, things are looking downright grim. Well, probably not for Amazon (I'm sure business is booming with the on-line shopping economy), but for retail and restaurants? Oh, boy.

It's enough to make me wish I hadn't given up alcohol for can I do my part when I can't even spend money on beer?

To the kids, being out of school till the end of April just feels like an extended "staycation" rather than house arrest (though we will be starting remote learning next week). I won't be getting much time to myself (we'll see how that grump-ifies my already grumpy demeanor), but it perhaps helps that we'll be saving on gas and driving time (baseball, basketball, and soccer have all been cancelled for the foreseeable future). Hell, the Archdiocese has even suspended Mass and Friday stations of the Cross (what this means for Easter, I don't know...). Thank goodness the Fred Meyer across the street is still open and stocked (of everything except disinfecting wipes). We're not living The Stand, yet.

[will the Baranof survive the sudden loss in business? The place has been unsinkable for decades. But even with the anxiety-fueled need to drink, are people still willing to part with their petty cash in a time of possible economic crisis? We'll see...]

At least I have Dungeons & Dragons. Our game yesterday (new player) went quite well. Another foray into The Keep on the Borderlands (my son's first) as well as a gruesome character death (my son's first). The rather short adventure went something like this:

"Dave" (1st level fighter with huge strength and a tremendous amount of gold) paired up with "Azina" the 1st level elf. Caro decided to penny pinch a bit, buying only leather armor and a shield (ballsy move) and chose ventriloquism as her starting spell (after also considering protection from evil). This is the first time I've ever seen a person choose that spell.

While there were three mercenaries available at the Keep's tavern, Dave decided that the price to hire them (one gold piece per day each) was too expensive for their operation (he was sitting on 41 extra coins). Azina was looking for female hirelings, and random dice produced a 2nd level elf who was willing to join the party for a 25% share of any treasure found (per the module). After some debate over the NPC's name, we settled on calling her "Ari."

At the Caves of Chaos, Azina was hesitant to do any exploration until they'd set up a decent camp and secured a good quantity of dead wood and "other resources;" Dave, on the other hand, was anxious to get down to spelunking and treasure hunting. Choosing one of the lower caves, they lassoed a still living tree branch and climbed the sloping canyon wall to its entrance.

Lantern light revealed what appeared to be a sleeping bear and the party members cautiously sneaked up to it and stabbed it with their swords, only to find it was a skinned carcass stretched over a pile of branches and debris.

It was at this point that an argument arose over the fact that no one had bothered to bring a bow and that maybe they should have at least purchased a crossbow, as Azina started feeling nervous about the prospect of engaging everything in hand-to-hand combat. Talks of returning to the Keep broke down when no agreement could be reached on who would be doing the actual purchase of a missile weapon and while the players were dissuaded (by the DM) from attacking one another, the party decided to split: Dave was determined to press on, and Azina would return to the camp below. As Ari had signed up for a share of treasure found "and 25% of nothing is nothing" she decided to follow Dave in his exploration.

A short tunnel opened into a second cavern, where a hulking form gnawed at a huge leg of mutton. Neither group was surprised and the creature asked (in goblin, the lingua franca of the region) "What the heck are you doing in my house?" Dave's answer was to shout a few pointed barbs (he spoke goblin) and charge with his two-handed sword.

Whereupon he was clubbed to death with a single swipe of the ogre's dinner (11 points of damage). Initiative had been automatically lost due to his use of a two-handed weapon (B/X).

Ari broke morale and fled, though she was struck from behind as she tried to escape. Scrambling down the rope she yelled frantically for help as the ogre pursued. She was about halfway down when the monster kicked the tree branch loose with a mighty stomp and she fell the last ten feet to the ground, only narrowly avoiding death. "And stay out!" he yelled before returning to his cave.

Azina, having observed this from the base of the cliff, quickly moved to help the wounded elf, then decided it was her duty to try and retrieve Dave (if alive) or recover his body (if not). Using her own rope to lasso a stone outcropping (that had been established previously) she climbed up to the mouth of the cave. Once there, and before entering, she used her ventriloquism spell to throw her own voice from deeper inside the cave, saying "Hey, I'm still alive! Come get me!" in goblin language (which the elf also spoke).

She thus drew off the ogre, deeper into his own lair, using no light source to give away her position and simply following him (slowly). Eventually, she heard a grinding of stone on stone as the ogre, confused and curious, decided to move the boulder to his secret exit in pursuit of the phantom voice, thinking it must be coming from the goblin caves. Azina was then able to recover both Dave's corpse and the ogre's great leather bag (which held his treasure), dragging both to the entrance and dropping them over the edge. The elf then tugged the rope until it released, and joined the wounded Ari in camp.

The next morning Azina buried Dave's body, perused the ogre's treasure, and cooked breakfast for herself and her companion (using rations and a healthy amount of the ogre's wheel of cheese) before studying her spell book to regain her ventriloquism spell. The two remaining party members then crafted a litter from the dead wood gathered previously, so that they could drag the huge sack of treasure back to the Keep. While Ari went to the chapel in search of healing, Azina (delighted in her new wealth) purchased a riding horse, tack and saddle, and saddle bags for herself.

Needless to say, Caro had a lot of fun and now wants to try her hand at being a dungeon master.
: )


  1. Hilarious sibling rivalry and some great play by Caro. Sounds like a blast.

    Slightly off-topic, I hate to be that guy, but it doesn't sound like you're taking the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently seriously.

    "what this means for Easter, I don't know...)"

    It will be canceled -- if it isn't the Archbishop should be burned at the stake.

    "But even with the anxiety-fueled need to drink, are people still willing to part with their petty cash in a time of possible economic crisis? We'll see..."

    For the love of all that is holy I hope not! Anyone going out to bars and restaurants right now is committing manslaughter.

    Our only hope is to collectively mobilize to get the R0 below 1. NOW. Millions of lives are at stake - it's a moral imperative.

    1. While I am taking the pandemic seriously, I suppose I might not be taking it seriously enough (in some folks’ opinion). Certainly my significant other feels I’m not cultivating the stressed-out, uber-panicked demeanor she thinks I should.

      [her work with WA Dept of Health involves messaging and communication...advertising and getting facts out to people. As such, it’s been a rough month for her]

      But while we are taking all reasonable, necessary precautions (and following the required strictures) the fact is that this has been a tremendous hit to the local economy...the kind of hit that causes additional serious, long term problems that will impact more than just the few at greatest risk. I don’t write this to be callous about those in mortal danger of the coronavirus: my 72 year old mother lives in King County and has underlying heart conditions, so she’s one of those people (which is why we’re not visiting her and have made sure she has ways of getting her groceries and goods). I suppose I just don’t want to be a person that lives in a state of fear and least, not until the virus morphs or mutates into something MORE deadly (i.e. something dangerous to myself and/or my children).

      I did that in the past, growing in a constant state of fear of nuclear holocaust and Commie invasions and all the other shit the Reagan administration pushed on us. I understand that the current pandemic is a real thing, not the phantom menace of Islamic terrorism, etc. that Bush Jr. and his ilk have used as political fodder. But I’m not going to act like it’s the end of the world until the canned food runs out and the neighbors show up to cannibalize me and my dogs. MY “moral imperative” is to take reasonable precautions and live life as normally as I’m allowed. Until the APCs roll into town and Trump uses the whole thing as an excuse to secure autocratic rule.

      So today I’m going to go shopping for book shelves. And I will probably dine out (or at least get take-out) from a local restaurant. Tomorrow I’ll have to watch Mass on Facebook (if I can stand it) or lead the family in our own prayers (if I can’t), and then I’ll be making corn beef and cabbage for dinner. We’re having our St. Patty’s day feast early this year...not because of the coronavirus, but because we gave up alcohol for Lent and strictures are loosed on Sundays (and the 17th is on a Tuesday). And because I could really go for a beer or three.

    2. I should leave it alone, JB, but ... where was this "moral imperative" when the govt was practicing deep austerity measures against the health system and those not covered by Medicare? Where was this moral imperative when people voted to keep their money and not pay taxes, because the govt is crooked and taxes are theft? Where was this moral imperative when experts were shouted down by non-experts on newspanels for saying that ignoring public health and mandatory immunization was a life or death thing? Where was this moral imperative when all the protections that were in place three generations ago were gutted for the sake of a few hundred dollars more in the taxpayer's pocket, and a lot more money for the rich? Where is this moral imperative now when doctors on television are ignored and the agenda is being daily obfuscated by liars and cronies of liars? Why is it this moral imperative now lies in "that guy" shouting at random at people on the internet for speaking of their lives and their families in calm, reasonable, realistic and loving terms? I don't understand this moral imperative.

  2. "That guy" is earning his reputation.

  3. It's great that you and the kids are successful in beguiling the potential tedium with Keep on the Borderlands. Sounds like you're handling the situation with an excellent balance between seriousness and not being overly stressed. Kudos to your S.O. for her work with WA Dept. of Health.
    I wonder if Baranof and other bars and restaurants could do an online appeal to customers to get food delivered safely to their homes with delivery services. If stay-at-home customers can afford it, it would be a nice way to support their local non-chain businesses.

    In Minneapolis, we are so far only being told to exaggerate our usual cultural tendencies for social distancing (that, and all University of Minnesota classes are online only now, AND our archbishop has dispensed that anybody who doesn't want to attend Mass can stay home.) Anyway, solidarity to you and yours, JB!

    1. Thanks Karel.

      The Baranof's not really the kind of place that delivers. It's just my favorite greasy spoon/dive bar that has managed to whether gentrification through having Seattle's longest "happy hour" (and some really ugly karaoke).

      We did end up getting pizza (take-out) from our favorite local place last night...

    2. "weather" gentrification

      Jeez, JB.