Not a Hero

We find ourselves in a peculiar quandary. If we look at pop culture and ask “What is a man?” we can readily find a few archetypes.

Superman is by his very definition, the pinnacle of man. He’s strong, reliable, moral, unyielding. He loves and is loved. In his true form, people fear and respect him. It takes extraordinary circumstances to even just bend his knee.

We take his darker alternative – Batman. A man born into a good life and laid low by tragedy. But he takes that tragedy and rebuilds himself to superheroic standards – world class athlete, fighter, inventor, detective. He opposes the darkness in the world and always gets back up, no matter what they throw at him. He is prepared and resourceful. He is endlessly strong.

Although these examples are fictional and exaggerated, they represent symbols that men should aspire to. There’s a long cavalcade of similar examples, real or fictional: pinnacles of physical perfection, hyper-intelligent sleuths, confident masters of their world.

On the other hand, if you asked for the stereotypical characteristics of males, it might include violence, dominance, sex, confidence and a lack of emotion. We have an amazing cognitive dissonance here: the stereotypical man is a dangerous brute, but one of the greatest known men of all time, Shakespeare, still astounds people with his understanding of the human condition and nuanced exploration of the texture of life: death, war, jealousy, age, and, of course, love. Einstein, that great man of science, was a man of peace.

Even further, normal men are none of these extremes. They don’t solve their challenges by punching them. They don’t swing into a party and make all the women swoon. They aren’t masters of their universe – they get buffeted about by chance and unfavourable design. They make mistakes. They get depressed. Normal men aren’t heroes.

One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. And it’s not necessarily a product of tragedy. Some very successful, intelligent, hard-working, friendly men will find themselves laid low by the black dog of depression. It’s not a rational thing, depression doesn’t work that way. It’s a stronger villain than any laughing madman. It knows all your thoughts, weak points and ways of seeing things. It can make nonsense sound sane. It can amplify the smallest of issues. Depression can make a man retreat from his closest friends, ignore the things and people they love, drink or take drugs, imagine opposition from their closest friends and family, run themselves ragged, break their hearts, or sabotage their life in a myriad of dumb ways. Depression can destroy men without raising a single finger.

Four out of every five suicides in Australia are committed by men. In 2011, almost two thousand men took their lives. Depression is an incredible foe.

Historically and even now, men are encouraged to endure this onslaught and not seek help. Men should “man up” and stand against their sea of troubles, without support, without tools. Women are twice as likely to seek help from a mental health service provider than men. It’s ridiculous.

The good news is that depression and related mental illnesses are treatable. There’s a wide variety of treatments available and are customized to the person. But society’s men need resources, education and support to seek help when they need it.

I’m supporting Movember to bring in donations to help exactly this. Please consider a donation, no matter how small.

Normal men are not superheroes. They don’t shape the world by their very existence. They may find themselves struggling from day to day. They may be loved and respected and find success, but still have to reluctantly drag themselves out of bed every morning.

Support the men in your life. Make sure they’re going okay and help if you can. If they are depressed, get them to seek professional help. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. It may be the start of a new life. A new life where depression pops up every so often like a villain-of-the-week, but at least it’ll be manageable. It’s better than the alternative.

A single man might not have the strength of a hundred, but with his friends, family and support services, he can get damn close.

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Okay, I’ve resigned myself to an insane, busy month. I’m doing Movember as well as attempting NaNoWriMo, while my parents visit and all sorts of other things go on. Oh and as well as my other projects. I might end up a wreck, but I’ll be a productive wreck. (Click here to read the rest of this entry)

Very short update this time. Unfortunately I’ve been on a huge management course recently, so I’ve been away from my computer and low on spare time and energy. But November looks to be big. (Click here to read the rest of this entry)

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This year my eye has been on the prize. And that prize is a functioning GUI. So instead of the usual discussion… (Click here to read the rest of this entry)

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This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

We’re all at level two and still settling into our characters. The plot is moving quickly though, so no time to rest! Aeona didn’t get anything special at level two except for more hit points. Currently her three tricks are: Cause Fear (interpreted as showing them their future death), Sanctuary (interpreted as being in an out-of-time Zen calm) and Cure Light (rewinding time on wounds). We got a wand to help my healing duties. It’s a godsend.


Beach Brambles

Just a short entry this time. Whatever short means. Maybe a long time. Space-time and I are still on shaky terms. Some points you’re on top of the haystack. Some points you’re face-first, kicking your legs in the air.

In terms of being the Sandpoint heroes, our group has sprawled out on the haystack – not entirely comfortable with it, but it’s better than nothing. Durak Stoneson, the beardy paladin, has adopted the leader role. Typical church fetish for hierarchy. Bahlek has, is and will be a bit antsy ever since his trip underneath the glassworks. A dwarf scared of the dark and dirty? Riotous!

Zoran’s a slippery customer. He’s quietened down on “sheathing his sword” amongst the lady townsfolk – more plunging the knife into goblin raiders’ backs. I swear it wasn’t the time-fray but he slipped from in front of my eyes at the barn. No wait, Aeona. Cian-nar Linear line lineation. Tell it right.

Vik and I are really in charge, but in a rear-guard kind of way. I’ve figured out that sis hasn’t been bringing in our family dog from the past or an alternate past like a normal person, nor even the future, but actually bringing in platonic ideals of dogs from… elsewhere. I find that really weird, but she disagrees. They’ve saved our skins a few times. Which reminds me, none of the townsfolk past or present know anything about my “SKINSAW” visions. Or are brave enough to admit it. We push ever forwards in time.

In any case, we “are” the Sandpoint heroes and are playing along. No-one but me has seen where we’re going with that in the future, but it might be disruptive to say. The visions are a funny product of the past and future, and present. Not really a thread but a yarn ball unravelling as it rolls along. It’s meant to unroll but doesn’t make sense to be unrolled now. In other news, I’ve decided that past tense confuses less people even though it’s actually wrong. I seem to get more of my meal orders, so that’s something.

Shalelu, the local rascal ranger is out of town “investigating the goblin hordes”. Shady if you ask me. Especially when we were called out to help a farm besieged by the little buggers while she was conveniently away. My celestial inner monologue says “ET NAT XEA LIAIL AEXTANTE” which I explained to sis as “threaded destiny” (which she understood) although it’s a little less gravity and a little more gravitas, (which she did not). Anyway, our thread lead us to this farm a few miles out of town.

I remember cresting the hill and everything happening everywhere at once. In attempted linear note form: a giant gecko fleeing; a barn burning; three-armed goblin champion Koruvus crushed by Durak; sling stones hanging in the air; Zoran slipping from my gaze around the farmhouse; the gurgle of a goblin kidney twisted on a knife; me kicking down the farmhouse door; an engulfed Durak being extinguished by the ancient seas; dogs left, right, forward, backwards; goblins stabbing a lady to make her squeal like a pig; me showing a gecko its eventual painful death to a boar; rescuing a lady; Bahlek tripped by a whip; Zoran tying the horses up.


Koruvus was the champion of the Seven Teeth goblins, if Shalelu can be remembered or trusted. But he was rocking with goblins from the Thistletop menagerie. This doesn’t smell right, and not just because of the dead goblins.

We rescued the woman and brought her back to town, after some unfortunate verbal mis-steps by Zoran (“Woman, I’m sorry your son is no longer with us… he’s collecting firewood and will meet with you shortly!”… And he ribs me about my time troubles) Durak had insisted that we meet the goblins on their turf, presumably to murder them all. I don’t mind, I’m very well aware that we all become dust eventually. Durak’s direction I think comes from his church. Word of God, he says. Housewife’s whispers of God, says I. If he saw what I’ve seen, it’d blow his beard clean off. And sis and I are the “weak ones”…

Following this foolishness (yet, ET NAT XEA LIAIL AEXTANTE again) we crossed the Turandarok River in search of the Thistletop goblins. Of course the buggers had turned a bramble patch on the edge of a cliff into a warren. And of course we tore open their front door to go get them (well, Durak tried carving through what was essentially their side wall, but that was just amusing).

And of course, all hell broke loose while us normal people (sis, I and I guess Zoran) were caught stooped under the low roof. The dwarf duo had no such encumbrances. The whole place itched. And then stung when a hell-emigrated cougar popped up to murder us all. Murder begets murder, I guess. But I’m not keen on goblins and I am keen on me. And the others. The druid commanding this angry bag of claws and teeth was a nasty piece of work as well – throwing fire and wielding a flaming sword… Maybe tonight I’ll travel with my mind to when the world burns and see if I can draw back a trick like that.

When we had put that darn cougar down and knocked the druid off his feet, good ol’ Durak offered him surrender instead of the party-recommended knife in the face. Somehow ol’ muscles forgot him and Zoran dripping half their organs out while I kept them alive long enough to cop more flaming swords to the gut. Anyway, Durak protected the little bastard as he unexpectedly shimmied into the bramble wall and away from justice. No worry, I’ve seen where that thread goes. (Spoilers: A druid with a cracked face)

We didn’t exactly bring justice to these goblins. Nor peace. A little bit of murder, but they almost repaid that straight away. I tell you what – if we hadn’t sprung for that yew twig of healing, Durak and Zoran might have ended up a cougar’s dinner. I’m tempted to burn the entire bramble castle to the ground, but I guess Durak’s boss so we have to play nice.

We are the Sandpoint heroes after all. And we don’t burn a place to the ground for a little while yet.


Out-of-game: Holy shit that cougar was rough. Passed all its saves and could kill our toughest in a few rounds. Plus the druid was about as good! I’m really struggling with almost everything passing their saves and having a total of two spells up my sleeve (plus Cure Minor). Cause Fear is a little better than I initially thought, which helps. Next level I get a bunch more abilities, so I shouldn’t complain.

I’ve begun sowing the seeds for me wearing a clockwork golem like armour in half a dozen levels’ time. By then, I’ll be a glorious combination of Tony Stark and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. And I’ll be basically the sum of their sexiness ;) But for now it’s heal, heal, heal, cause fear, heal.

Interestingly our DM has added some weird effect to my character to reflect her confusion with space-time. It seems like DM fiat but occasionally I have to roll a concentration check after my spell is cast, and if I fail, some random time-based effect takes hold. So far it’s been:

  • My spell going off 1d4 rounds later.
  • My spell going off, but another random spell is quickened and cast on the nearest person. (Which turned out to be Sanctuary for my friend and Cause Fear on a goblin first time this has happened)

This is cool, but I’m struggling at low-level to do anything but heal-bot. Plus I can’t speak in combat. Oh well, that’s Aeona for you. I also change my hair colour randomly every day, which amuses the group.

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This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver, an Oracle who exists at a fraying of the fabric of space-time.

Our third week had less of a breakneck pace, but still exciting. Everyone almost died! But we levelled up!


Oops!This morning I saw the most wondrous thing. We have been gifted boarding and meals in The Rusty Dragon Inn. As I sat this morning a puddle of wine trembled on the floor. Its snaking tendrils of liquid retracted, unstaining the floor. As it pulled together, it gathered together cartwheeling shards of glass, mending and gluing together. The world sparkled in this collecting chaos of wine and glass, sucking into a crescendo of gurgling and shattering, becoming one. A pure glass goblet of wine, arcing slowly up towards the lip of the table. It teetered on the edge, as if it hadn’t quite made it, but staggered forward with a celebratory ding! and nestled against the bracer of our dwarf paladin friend.

Let me explain.

A traced thread of time terminates a few weeks ago. It’s where I ended and I began. Where I saw It. Whistling your fingers along this thread – travel, my sister Viktoriya, blood-playful goblins, skeletons, officials, boar, shattered lighthouses, a gypsy man and a Dwarven ranger. Zoran and Bahlek, respectively. Several distant threads converging at Sandpoint. I had lost where my thread of visions had gone – a trick of intercolliding strings at a broken perspective.

Young men of the town would sit with my sister and I, expecting a night of debauchery, and not expecting my exegesis on fractured time. My sister had wryly noticed that we had gone from “those two freak girls” to “The Heroes of Sandpoint”. I was not aware that self-preservation and self-interest was heroic. Well, I did stop that hay barn succumbing to goblin fires by connecting it to its ancient submerged past, but everyone would do that if given the chance.

Our local man, Zoran Teskarova the gypsy, has been counted amongst our heroic troupe. To which he responded by sleeping with the daughter of a local councilman. Two black eyes, a night in jail and a sheep bailout from us sisters, and he re-evaluated his situation. He complained of the violence. He complained of being a “nobody in Sandpoint before, and now I’m a hero!” He can’t see it but I can. He’s been a part of Sandpoint longer than he knows.

The ranger Bahlek follows us around. Sister doesn’t know about a dwarven ranger. “You can’t range under the mountains.” Indeed, I see murky somethings on his soul, but it isn’t the darkness of mines. Or maybe it is. I’m no good at reading these things yet.

A dwarven paladin named Durak Stoneson has joined us, originally to break up a fight between a daughter and her father, but now for “what is right”, concerning the goblins. I can see something between the two dwarves, like a crack in stone under tension. Durak seems more earthy than Bahlek, but sis says that is a terrible joke.

Sister is a curio too. With my condition, I have trouble with the has, has not, will, will not. And all the parallel aextantuus. She seems… darker, now. Not in actions. Like someone who can’t step out of a shadow. She is the sister she always was to me, but different. Always that step away, regardless of how close. I catch her whispering to herself at night. Oh, and she conjures dogs out of thin air. I don’t recall us ever owning a dog, loyal as these ones are.

And little ol’ ribbons, me. If I concentrate and listen, the townsfolk say I’m of two minds. Schizophrenic. The children see me as hope. The men see me as a young woman to be bedded. I’m not two minds. I’m not young. I’m every mind. I’m an old woman. I’m a babe in the womb. I’m the soil into which Nethys the Omniscient One digs his roots. I am mountains ground to sand. Smiles turned to skeletons. I am fireswept plains and drowned cliffs.   I Am Time. 

But I’m not insane. I am not.

I am for hire, apparently. As is the rest of Sandpoint’s heroic band. A woman had complained of their husband being bitten and child missing, no wait, other way around. A goblin had hid in her closet, rounded up by the family dog. The child complained of monsters in the closet, and was bitten for their trouble. The husband had tried to kill it but died trying. He was beyond my help. Tough little bastard he was. Well, not tough enough for an axe in the face. Death is a weird thing. A thread cut short, but so intertwined with others that it cannot dangle.

Having sorted this errand out we were talked at by the local council and their trusted ranger, Shalelu. Goblins of all sorts have taken up residence around Sandpoint, warring and cooperating and sneaking and plotting. As if it wasn’t patently obvious if you stare at the fabric. But, I forget that most people can’t, so humility, Aeona. Kindness.

I see things differently, I know this. It’s tough. Everyone sees a looking glass. I see a hall of them. I have empathy, I do. I spoke up when the father, Lonjiku, of our innkeeper, Amiko, scolded her and beat her around. I encouraged our motley band to find her when she went missing near the glassworks. When we found her murderous brother Tsuto commanding a gang of goblins, I ran into the fray. Our dwarf paladin would have died if it wasn’t for me time-stitching his blood back in. I kept people alive, including my dear sister. I am in under my head at the calmest of times, so yelling celestial at new friends as arrows pierce my chest is a new level of difficulty entirely.

We found Amiko and a hidden crypt of sorts below the glassworks. He father had been killed by the goblins (molten glass poured on the man of all things! A vicious end for a vicious man) We explored the hidden catacombs. A blur of violence and creeping through darkened tunnels. A mischievous quaasit sending us to sleep as dogs tore each other apart and the paladin pummeled gaunt figures of tendons and hate born from demon blood. Horrifying experimental zombies.

The Sandpoint Few began as wanderers. Scattered broken pieces. We were drawn into the wine festival, the goblin raid, the glassworks, the crypt… Broken pieces of glass cartwheeling, merging as one in a cacophony of violence. We are now as one. Arcing towards some higher destiny (my prophecy?) We were close to losing our grips on our lives, but now we are settled, solid.

We are the Sandpoint heroes and we’ve got a lot of work to do.

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver.

We’ve just begun the campaign. There was a little bit of time sorting out characters, starting money, initial story and what rules are available.


Master alchemist Vick [1] now of the Mwangi Expanse once said of potions:

The secret to the science of metamagical thixatropic elixirs – potion-brewing for the trite – is choice. Start with the purest of waters, bring in a few measured, well-known reagents, a dash of your standard bases, a few scratches of impurity for things to bond around… and then a healthy dose of entropy with a good shake or application of fire.

Yesterday Last month Tomorrow Before when Mother and Father met their undoing, I experienced an amazing sense of blindness and seeing all at once. It was beautiful – all the planes, everywhere at once, and forever, in a stopped instant. It was [2] something pure. Over “time” I’ve adopted it. Brought it in. Controlled it. To an extent. With just my will I have placed my hand over a gushing stab wound, and linked it elsewhere. Another time, another universe. The blood flows back up, flesh sews together. It’s taxing but I’m becoming addicted to this purity loaned by It[3].

Following – is that the right word? – the images of my previous journal, I left home. Or what remained of it. As my sister Viktoriya spins it, I had found her near the family castle, and told her we had to travel for reasons I couldn’t explain. That’s a lie. She’s actually my half-sister. I think. Father’s family tree had some peculiar growths on it, and there was a time before Mother that he didn’t speak of. Yet we are kindred. I’m pretty sure I’m the bigger sister, but Vik will never clarify that for me. Nevertheless she is a Tycheweaver, touched by magic. Although hers seems to be with dirty hands. I should have asked about that. Maybe I have.

At some point we existed in Sandpoint at a ceremony for the temple that had burnt down 3 years before that. We had nothing to do with the temple’s conflagration. I think. I was (still am!) trying to draw the thread from my vision to this place. Butchered souls. I mean, they were celebrating, drinking deep. And then the goblins came.

Dirty, impure little imps. Slicing dogs and biting hands. Burning houses for nothing. My pulse shot up. Time slipped around me like eddies and I got confused. It was like a dream where I was speaking clear common. I said: “Qua aeste falanir mie hoilan” but the townsfolk regarded me as insane. Sister Vik helped, though. Little sister protecting big sister (note to self: she’s the big sister, right?) though unlike most, she used a cestus. I defended against a goblin by reaching behind his timeline and showing his demise – an ironic twist as the blood drained from his face as a cunning gypsy man drained it from his kidneys. The goblin did not appreciate the irony.

When time unbecame quicksilver, we had rescued some young noble from a pack of goblins. I remember in disjointed order: puncturing a skull with my sling; a dwarf ranger stepping backwards, catching arrows in his shortbow and stowing them away; the gypsy man advancing; drenching a house on fire. Catalytic indeed.

Amidst all the violence and celebrations and skeletons[4] and hunting boar with nobles[5], I’m positive that we have settled in Sandpoint. I need some time to recalibrate myself. Settle. Precipitate maybe.

Nevertheless, it appears as though we have a fine potion on our hands…


1. No relation.

2. The proper word I think is Aextant in It’s tongue. Atemporal tense.

3. Sister says it is Nethys, God of Magic, The Omniscient One. But my name’s Aeona.

4. I did write about the skeletons didn’t I? And uninjuring the poor dwarf ranger? And finding the robe in the tomb?

5. Surely I wrote about the sly noble attempting to cavort with us sisters over a boar-hunt. Why can’t I find that parchment anywhere?

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Have you ever found a note written by yourself months ago? How it’s unmistakably you, but you have no idea what it means or why you felt it was important at the time? That’s basically the living reality for inhabiting any long-term, big project. It’s that curious combination of familiarity but novelty, like walking through a hedge maze I’m regularly surprised by Past Brett when writing The Day After, and mostly in a good way. It doesn’t make the progress swift, though.

Symonds Yat Maze

(Click here to read the rest of this entry)

This is the character journal of my character Aeona Tycheweaver. I’m attempting to maintain a journal of play for our games in Rise of the Runelords. We haven’t started yet, so this is backstory.


It’s funny I find myself here at a loose end and a new beginning. A dead end and new life. It’s been… let’s say “some time” since Mother and Father took their entropic turn. It seems like it was yesterday, although these days that’s more literal than most people give it. It also feels like next moon, ancient history or down the road.

I’m not making much sense. I need to make sense. Cian-nar, as it is said in It’s celestial tongue – draw a line through. If not for anyone else, but myself, Aeona.

Okay.

Mother and Father will be great explorers of the mystic arts. They will push the frontiers beyond the simplistic realms of enchantments, conjurations, abjurations… Threnodic, theurgic, and thanoptic metamagics will be mere subequations in their experiments. They will share pride and eagerness – a form of romance most will not experience. They will attempt to capture the mind of a God like a spiderweb in a branch and pull the pull it apart. They will do this in their own home – where else? – and they will do this when their daughter is rebellious and curious and – as will be characteristic – in the wrong place and time. They will be undone (redone? unredone?) as their daughter sees… well…

But that’s history. I think. I am trying to get that thread amongst so many threads. From the god-witnessing to… travel? No, the vision. No, some travel, then the vision, then more travel. Then a lot of violence, but I don’t think that’s actually happened yet.

Okay the travel. It’s hard to keep track how long I’ve been travelling. I should keep a journal. With the house in ruins and myself… a-frayed in time… I went walking. There was nothing to be done about Mother and Father. It was done, is doing, will always be done. Too many nosy, noisy, second-rate, confusing mages for me to get any goddamn peace of mind, so I walked. I’m not very good at it. I am very good at being persuasive. Not like that. You just show them the best timeline for their thread and they stop trying to rob you. Or if they have worse ideas, you show them the worst. One broken-toothed scoundrel ran all the way off a cliff once instead of harassing me. I’m wary that these might not be common options for people to use in everyday life – not everyone has god-shrapnel in their existence – so I’ve tried to learn how to defend myself the old fashioned way with big sticks and daggers. As if my existence wasn’t damn weird enough.

Again, where on the thread this happens I don’t know, but big sister V has been an enormous help. We’re sisters in freakdom. Bubbles in fate stuck together. Me with my space-time thing. Her with her family curse. I guess we both have a family curse. Hers ancient, mine instantaneous. We collided a few weeks back – again, I don’t know where or when or why or if really – but have had each other’s backs. Hers is particularly monstrous at times, but you forgive a little sister for that. Big sister, I mean.

I am planning to tell her about the vision. Or have I already? This brain messes with my fray. Er, fray, brain. The vision. Focus. Draw the line. As I started to collect clarity after Mother and Father’s undoing, I saw a thread I did not recognize. Kinda my thread, but not. Wrapped loosely around it like a braid undone. Or about to be done.

Don’t ask me later what the order was, but it was like:

  • A shadow
  • A sign called Sandpoint
  • A dwarf smiting a giant
  • A burning house, maybe a temple. Ugly people.
  • Little sister V, no wait, big sister. Which was she and I?
  • Clockwork.
  • An arrow whistling through the air and diving into a goblin’s chest
  • A grotesquerie whispering the word “SKINSAW”

Also don’t ask what it means. I don’t know yet. But I will. Or have. I have images of talking to myself, face to face. Like a memory but not. And she hums in that angelic tone that I speak but don’t understand.

It’s all rather confusing. I think the best thing for me to do is go travelling. Perhaps write a notebook. Or a journal! El ae cian-nar! I mean, that’d draw the line. Keep me straight. Straight on the path to Sandpoint and to some answers.

The last while I’ve been pretty focussed. Horse cart wheel “Singularly focussed” is a little overstating it, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in the engine, fixing things and really concentrating on the GUI. I got it into a pretty good state. But I found myself preparing a horse and cart, spending my spare hours greasing the cart wheels and checking all the spokes. When I turned around to get it going, I found I had no horse! (Click here to read the rest of this entry)

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