Captain’s Log Stardate February 2017

One of my main goals with having a blog is to record a bit of what’s changed. How I got from A to B. Like the log of a ship; or Jean-Luc Picard explaining why the Klingons are at it again. In the past I’d title these things like ‘quick update’ but giving it a bit of formality seems nice. Going to try doing these at the end of each month for a while.


Grace has taken to scooting around everywhere. She still shows little interest in crawling or walking but the doctors say it’s still too early to worry. Her hips are recovering well from the hip dysplasia that had her in a spika cast for 11 weeks last year.

Amber is training for the mini-marathon, and I’m doing well with Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power to the People workout of deadlifts and side presses. I’ve also started jogging a bit so that I can run the Throo the Zoo 5k again in the spring. Started at Week 4 of the C25k program instead of the beginning and that seems to be working out fine.


We played D&D only once in February – our 2nd event pivoted to board games as some folks schedules ended up getting in the way. So we played Arkham Horror with the folks that could make it. Even then, it ended early with no clear victory or loss in sight. Schedules really get in the way of gaming sometimes.

Ber also DM’d a one-shot I wasn’t invited to. Shucks.

We lost our first attempt at “May” of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. We were due for a loss, as we’d won every play except the very first. Loving the storyline though! This game lives up to the hype.


At the beginning of February I spoke to a group of students at Central High School about how to use A couple weeks later I spoke about the landscape of career opportunities and the WordPress community at Sullivan College of Technology and Design. Then a couple days later, I ended up leading the Louisville WordPress Meetup about running an online business with WordPress. That’s a lot of speaking engagements all in one month.

Screen-Related Entertainment

Casey Neistat’s vlog recently ended and I had only ever watched it occasionally. Now that he’s not updating daily anymore I’ve been watching it all in chronological order.

Abstract on Netflix is kind of like Chef’s Table but for designers instead of chefs. Enjoyed every episode; loved the ones about Tinker Hatfield and Paula Scher.

Don’t normally play video games, but wanted to play one on a whim. Bought FTL and have really enjoyed it. It would even better on an iPad.

Can’t stop thinking about the Cal Newport books I recently finished, So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work. This counts as screens because it was on the Kindle. Still prefer Kindle to paper books any day.

Last night I took over the Chromecast and we watched Magnus and Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story.

At Work

More live chats! Come chat with me.

More emails! Lots of ’em.

Business Concierge sessions! What?

Yup, it’s new for me too. A few times a week I do a screenshare with a Business Plan customer to answer any and all questions about their site. CSS customizations, SEO tips and tricks, a crazy theme setup, I’ll do it all if that’s what they ask for during our 30 minute session. It’s been a fun addition to my day.

I haven’t written one yet, but a bunch of Automatticians are writing posts about their typical work day. You can read them here: #a8cday . Maybe I’ll get around to one. I did spend about 30 minutes today thinking about what my typical workday will look like in March – I feel solid about it.

Campaign Complete

It’s like finishing a really good book.-My friend Kirsten after tonight’s game

It’s an odd feeling to finish this campaign. Our group started playing Dungeons and Dragons together two years ago and I never would guessed it would become our regular thing. The friendships have stayed close and we all liked gaming, so this every-other-week role play has turned into the highlight of my social schedule. This campaign finishing up is ending the first chapter of my Dungeon Master career.

Seeing the story complete makes me so proud of what we made together. So many moments paid off. Everyone was smiles and laughs at the end. Some thought they might die during the final battle. When it was all done we all just stood around in the glow of how cool it was.

It’ll make our fresh start in 2016 all the better.


There are easier games to play than D&D. Not sure there are better ones. I’ve never had games of chess, or Arkham Horror, and any other game that I also truly love inspire me to make better stories or more interesting choices.

I’d play for another 12 hours right now if I had the chance.

And tomorrow I will.

The Blue Sword

Just because I’m a big bad dungeon master now, this was not always the case. It wasn’t that long ago that I was playing my first real campaign of Dungeons and Dragons. It was during that campaign I made a terrible mistake that I will never live down.

In the story was something about a king and somehow my character ended up with a crown. It magically poisoned you if you put it on (my fellow adventurer found out,) so I never put it on, but my character didn’t realize this crown was actually important. He wanted to a new sword way more than he wanted to keep the crown. So when nobody else was around, he went to shopkeep and tried to sell it.

The shopkeep knew exactly what it was, took the crown, threw a shiny blue sword at me, and immediately left through a trap door never to be seen again. I lost the King’s crown – which was basically the key objective we had – and I got a sword with +1d6 frost damage the glowed a bright blue. I was also dumb enough to think this was awesome.

ice sword rittik-designs
Ice Sword by Rittik-Designs on Deviant Art

Now everytime I make a suggestion people say things like, “yeah! That’s cool, like that shiny blue sword!” Last night my best friend was helping me test out a possible bug on Simplenote, and he immediately used as his text “Alex is a stupid person who trades the king’s crown for a shiny blue sword.”

We all make mistakes. With good friends you’ll never forget them either!

The Stonecutter Samurai

I was fortunate enough playtest and to be Dungeon Master for a group playing “The Stonecutter Samurai.” Payton did a great job writing the story and it was exciting to play. I recommend you check it out for your gaming group!


Once a year Automattic gathers all its employees together for a week of projects, learning, and adventure at an event called the Grand Meetup. This year I wrote a D&D adventure to share with my friends and co-workers, most of whom had never played a tabletop RPG before. It’s now been run seven times (four by me) for a total of 26 players (two even played the game twice!).

Here’s the teaser text:

In the country of O’Taki, there exists a feudal hierarchy of Dwarf lords in the style of old Japan.

As the Emperor’s Prime Minister Okanama ages, a rivalry has arisen over who will take his place. Several factions vie for control. The leader of the most influential faction, the retired General Buren Tomogawa (also known as the Stonecutter Samurai), has fought to keep power away from his strongest rival, Yomo Ishin, a powerful noble whose detractors claim deals…

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To Switch or Not To Switch? Part 5: The Decision

This is the fifth and final post in a series called “To Switch or Not To Switch” about whether or not my gaming group should switch to Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition, or stay with Pathfinder.

Our gaming group discussed the switch a couple weeks ago. It didn’t take long to realize that some folks were excited about one option, and everyone else was happy regardless of the system we used. We all agreed the most important thing is that we like playing together.

Once our current storyline is complete, we will be switching to Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition, for our system.

There will be some details to iron out. Some folks would like to keep their characters and others are thinking they’ll roll up new ones. Some folks like the prospect of the long adventure path, some prefer we keep making our own stories. We’ll face those as they come. It’s likely we’ll need the rest of the year or more to finish out our current campaign anyway. Since we only meet every 2 weeks, we likely will only have 4 or 5 more sessions before Amber and I are in newborn-baby-mode.

Since the switch has been decided on, some cool stuff has happened.

The 5e Dungeon Master Screen, Dungeon Master's Guide, and my new set of dice were all birthday presents.
The 5e Dungeon Master Screen, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and my new set of dice were all birthday presents.

We’ll need to start investing in rulebooks, so Amber got me the Dungeon Master’s guide for my birthday. Her mom asked her what she should get me and Amber suggested the Dungeon Master screen.

Also, Amber got me a set of matching dice. I find this incredibly touching. When our group first got together we bought a pound-o-dice and split it up evenly. But Ber was DMing and she had her own set of matching dice that no one else was allowed to use. We lovingly called them “the DM dice.” I’ve DM’d enough that I was due my own set of “DM dice.” No one else is allowed to use these. It might mess up the mojo.

Thanks for reading my series on my gaming group’s decision between Pathfinder and D&D 5e. I’m sure I’ll write more on 5e as we learn the system and play in it. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments.