Month: November 2013

Thanksgiving Bundle of Holding

I have now bought my second Bundle of Holding. This one is the Indie Cornucopia, and includes all manner of special stuff like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Durance, and Nova Praxis.

Which is nice, because I’ve been vacillating about a few of those titles for a while. I’m especially chuffed about Nova Praxis and it’s enhanced pdf.

Bundle of Holding is a charity thing, and this one supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Doctors Without Frontiers.

As of today (29th Nov) this bundle should be available for another 5 days or so.

Noodler’s Zhivago

Zhivago is my first Noodler’s ink. Noodler’s has a cult status and niche production, so while everyone talks about Noodler’s, the product is difficult to get over here — at this time the only UK stockist is PurePens.

Very dark grey-green inks are my thing so I have both Diamine Graphite and Evergreen to compare to. Evergreen lightens over 24 hours which is why there are two swabs. Zhivago has excellent water resistance unlike the others.

Noodler’s inks are heavily saturated making them candidates for dilution — some recommend this for Zhivago to bring out the green tones, because otherwise it looks basically black. I have tried this and can say yes, the dilutions help but it doesn’t bring the colour anywhere near the green of Evergreen — the result is a slightly greener Graphite.

Thief Reboot

One thing that has driven my PC upgrades — the Thief series. Of course, Deadly Shadows was released in 2004 which means my most up-to-date PC is a single-core clunker that runs on steam and Pedigree Chum.


For the past five years I’ve been putting off buying a new console until I heard news of the fourth instalment, which is a difficult thing to imagine. The third game closed the narrative loop very elegantly, and the three titles focused on the three factions of Pagans (Dark Project), Hammers (Metal Age), and Keepers (Deadly Shadows).

So, there’s not really a fourth faction. Knowing that and the amount of time since DS,  it should be no surprise that Eidos Montreal are rebooting the franchise — the refuge of an artist devoid of ideas or any connection to the original source material.

Seriously, I do not believe this reboot will be worthy of the Thief legacy. For one it looks like Garrett is multi-classing into an assassin which ignores the basic premise of the original TDP: you’re not a soldier, not a superman, and if the guards catch you they have a good chance of doing you in. But OK, I can live with that.

Second issue: Stephen Russell will not be voicing Garrett. Obviously there will be fan outrage, and justly so; but this is a reboot, not a straight-to-DVD fourth sequel. Huge shame, but that’s not the worst.

The big head-scratcher is the decision to abandon the Pagan/Hammer mythology in favour of “aristocrats vs rebels”. One of the most compelling parts of the series, the thing that contributed to the fantasy atmosphere the most was the concept of the Pagan wild outside the city against the Church-sanctioned industrialisation inside. Perhaps there will be more depth to the regime in the reboot, but at the moment it sounds like “just” another corrupt city state, a tiresome clone of various other assassination-themed franchises with a bit more personal larceny this time around.

The mythology and atmospheric elements were a big influence on a couple of my RPGs (City and Square, my current work in progress being influenced by the notions of inside/outside), so the abandoning of all that was good in the original franchise is a bit of a disappointment; on the other hand the series was past its peak with the third game (mainly for the unnecessary simplification of the city map) so it was time. I can hold the reboot at arm’s length, like the recent Total Recall.

I wonder if Eric Brosius will have anything to do with the soundtrack. I’d buy that. Just not the game.

Probably not.

Autumnal Cheer

It was International Fountain Pen Day on the 1st of November, and I missed it. Never mind.

I met my mum for lunch and belated birthday presents, including a Minoan salt cellar, a new pen, and ink! The latter is Noodler’s Zhivago which I have yet to break into.

The pen is a Noodler’s Ahab, in the “Truk Lagoon” colour.

Ahab Konrad

That’s my Ahab above and my Konrad below. These are affordable flex pens that produce a lot of line variation with pressure (as you can see in the Diamine Sunset scan). I don’t know whether it’s bad luck or bad design, but the Konrad’s seating for feed and nib is clearly defective. You can see a lot of gap between section and feed, and the pen generally gushes ink. The Ahab doesn’t have this problem; one reason is that it has grooves for the nib to slot into.

Plenty of people love the Konrad and I prefer it aesthetically, but functionally the Ahab is better–from the filling mechanism to the fit of the parts (the Konrad is a piston filler, but it’s not great). The one thing the Konrad does better is post.

I filled Ahab with Diamine Sunset.


This is my writing sample:


I’ve both photographed and scanned the text. The reason for this is the scanner is very bad at picking up the subtle orange in Sunset which is really an orange ink. It looks almost red:

In short — I really like Diamine Sunset in very specific circumstances, but those are few and far between. It needs a wet pen but in a wet pen it’s no good for marking up on office documents on printer paper. If I use it at work in a dry writer it comes out light and boring, best used for hilighting only. It’s too bright for extensive notes.

While I’m on the subject of light inks, I also scanned Diamine Amber:


That’s my TWSBI mini with a broad nib. Here’s a scan, which is a bit more faithful:

Two fairly autumnal colours that are warm and cheering. I doubt I’ll ever get to the bottom of either sample bottle, but they’ll see some use in birthday cards.

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