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Death Pencil March 26, 2006

Janelle Berscheid - 00:00 EST

Mechanical pencils are one of the greatest writing utensils known to humankind. Fond as I am of the traditional No.2 pencil, mechanical pencils allow for clean, smooth writing and minimal smudging. Because they're so awesome, I tend to keep one or three on the computer desk.

Yesterday, I picked up this pencil, clicked out some lead, and jotted something down, after which I set the pencil on the desk and thought nothing of it. Later on, I noticed some strange red markings on my fingers. I assumed it was dye rubbing off some package I had handled earlier and thought nothing of it. But when I later picked up this pencil, I decided to check the lead on it, and drew it out through the bottom. Then I noticed that my fingers were very rapidly being coated in the same red substance from before. So I took a closer look...

The outside of the lead from this pencil was coated with wide patches and globs of something red and sticky, with a metallic scent. I stared for a moment, and then it hit me that this substance seemed remarkably like congealed blood. Needless to say, that pencil is in the garbage and my hands are scrubbed very clean. I don't even know how that got on there. It's like somebody took this pencil, stabbed a foe through the heart, and then replaced the lead nonchalantly.

I'm still not sure what that stuff was. I don't think it was really blood, but the resemblance was uncanny. And then I was reminded of Red Eye.




L E T T E R S
Always cook for more people than you are expecting.


Dear Janelle,

Well, if it isn't the lady herself! I've been eagerly awaiting your arrival on the Q&A scene, and am most glad you have appeared before us!

So now...let me see...what question can I give you? Ah! I have one. Being a poet, I feel that the answer to this question could inspire my next prose.

What RPG evokes the most emotion in you? Has one ever made you tremble? Made you just go to your room and think? For me, it was Chrono Cross, believe it or not. I love the ending theme a whole lot, and the way it ended caused me to write many many poems.

Congratulations on becoming our weekend Q&A hostess, Tiptail! I truly look forward to chatting with, and writing to you again soon!

~Donovan

Janelle

Ahh, Donovan! Wonderful to hear from you again. Thank you very much for your letter!

In terms of RPGs evoking emotion, I've never really been a very outwardly emotional person. I can't recall ever crying at the death of a character or any such incident. But I do still feel that sort of quiet, under-the-surface emotion that RPGs are starting to channel more and more subtly. Bravo, bravo.

Anyhow, the game that's probably packed the most emotional punch for me has been Final Fantasy IX. Say what you will about the game itself, but the strong characterization and the powerful music combined to really draw me in to what was going on throughout the game. With the only exception of Amarant, every main character felt strongly about something at some point--and it really showed. Amarant, though. He's one aloof and apathetic dude.

And yes, even Quina's feelings on its one and only subject of choice count. Food is very important. Not to say that the ongoing lessons about food and life were more thought-provoking than the highly emotional scenes, of course.



On Binging


hi there Tiptail I'm glad other people call you by your RPGamer name, I have a bizarre problem with calling people by their real name

Um uh regarding the naked sidebar the obvious answer would be clothes, but a more interesting option would be a book club-esque RPG recommendation of the week/month/year

Janelle

Heh, I'd rather not put up anything about clothes on that sidebar, for various reasons. I'm not usually the kind of person who likes to talk about clothes--last column's pants were an exception. I'm wearing them today, by the way.

But the other idea could certainly find place on the edge over there. I'll have to find a unique way to do this. Spice it up a little.

I'm a lame lame man, anyway so far so good as far as the Koudelka series binge is going, I'm already on Shadow Hearts: Covenant

You really need topics of some kind otherwise you'll get weird rambling letters like these that have no real point and also

Thanks for teh tilde ^^

I don't really have any questions, but SOCK on the weekend sounds mighty tashteh

Arros Raikou

*puts his shiny new tilde on the shelf with the ones from Cast, Matt and dear old Goog*

Janelle

Oh, the topics are coming. One makes its appearance today, in fact. That first one was just for a bit of a toss up so people could get used to me.

As for SOCK, combine some "tasteh" weekend action plus the revamped SOCK system and prizes, and...BAM! Tasty indeed. Again, stay tuned on that.



Equal Opportunity Question


Greetings TipTail! Or maybe I should go with Nellerooni? (Hmmm... a bit Flanderish there methinks.)

Anyway! Since I have tons of fun harassing Matt-man, I figured I'd share the harassment with you as well. I'm an equal opportunity harasser.

Janelle

We want Q&A harassment too! Votes for women!

And yes, call me whatever floats your boat. ^^

So, since I'm quite the video game music fiend, I thought I'd ask you if you were into video game soundtracks yourself? A lot of people reading this column already know my particular preferences, but I'm gonna state them again, so...

My particular favorites for RPG soundtracks are FF IX and Chrono Trigger. Non-RPG game soundtracks, I'd have to go with both Katamari games, with Katamari Damacy coming out on top. Ah for music that gets me through my work day.

Janelle

I heartily endorse all of these choices, and add that Legend of Mana can do you no wrong, even if you must be trampled by emus to receive it.

I found the Chrono Trigger soundtrack sitting on a shelf in a department store my first full day in Japan. I'm so lucky.

Oh yeah! Heh, I see a lot of people were wondering about what games you've played and if they have inspired you. So, the question I have is, has a game or RPG ever caused you to cosplay or want to cosplay as a character from said game? Of course, I could be the only weirdo around here that is into that type of scene, but meh, I say celebrate your inner geekiness!

Congrats on the column!

MagRowan the Ever Annoying

Janelle

Cosplaying? Hmm, tricky one. I've never actually done it before, but being an artsy-craftsy person, I would love to attempt to design a costume of some awesome RPG character for the purpose of cosplaying. Whether or not it would be me wearing it.

I do have to mention, though, that I would not hesitate to colour pulse my hair, acquire a pair of cool goggles and deck myself out as a scout from Disgaea. I love that outfit--especially the backpack. For jogging my memory about this, you get today's tilde! ~ Use it for good only, please.

Thanks for writing! And do write again. Because it makes me happy. And you shouldn't need any other reason.



Anger Management


Greetings, Tiptail!

I do hope that you can survive the Judgment Ring to make it through Shadow Hearts: Covenant. It's a great RPG, and very worth the playthrough. If you've played the first Shadow Hearts, it's a significant step up. A tip for you, if the ring truly pains you: there is an accessory that can be bought pretty early in the game (although not cheap, early on) that can slow the ring down 50%. It makes a huge difference in the difficulty, although I didn't find the game that hard overall.

Janelle

Thanks for the tip. ^^ Actually, the ring didn't pain me too much. It just got wearisome after powering through the last dungeon and trying to thrash the final beast at 2am. But I found that I was never using the battle items or accessories that would slow down the ring or anything like that. I sure didn't want to speed it up, but neither was I really content slowing it down. Who knows, though? Maybe the learning curve is a little steeper in Covenant.

I got a good laugh out of your real life inspiration from video games, and beating your head with a controller. I've been trying to level up in Dragon Quest VIII lately, against a notorious creature known as the metal slime (in several forms). Since you apparently haven't played it, they have a ton of experience, but are very difficult to damage, and run away quickly. Thus, I've been inspired to rather rudely inform the game of my feelings, usually involving a different finger than you might use to tell someone they're number 1. Fortunately, I live alone. It's a lot better than when I was a kid; I had a bit of a temper and would sometimes throw a controller. I'm calmer now, and I don't trust controllers (or the systems they sometimes bounce off of) to last under that kind of wear and tear. Ahhh, good old indestructible original Nintendo...

Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood. I'm a relative newcomer myself, having lurked for a while and then finally deciding to participate. An idea: your sidebar might be a great place for quickie best/worst of lists. Favorite RPGs, favorite SNES games, worst games, etc. Sort of a way for everyone to get to know you. You can't leave naked sidebars running around, you know.

BigWook

Janelle

Indeed I cannot. Who knows what mischief a nude sidebar could get up to when our backs are turned? Disgraceful.

I don't recall ever having flipped a game the bird before, but there's definitely been a little controller throwing on my bad days. Now, though, I've found it safer for the systems in general if I just throw pillows instead. My brother's NES has lasted for nearly 20 years, but it's starting to wear a lot more obviously now, and breathing on it seems to be rather hazardous. Our SNES still works great, but I don't want anything to happen to it; that system is gold to me. Therefore, I propose that the best way to take out your anger from frustrating gaming experiences is to walk out your front door and smash a pie (your choice of flavour) into the face of the first person you see. That'll teach those metal slimes to throw off your groove.





C L O S I N G
IN CONCLUSION:

OK, so I've hit a few rough patches and there've been a few gaps and the like, so a lot of you must be wondering exactly how this is supposed to work. The general idea is that I'll be putting up columns on Sunday and Monday. Saturday will be to give you nice guys a break, used as a buffer day for the two of us, or used for that Full Hosting spot Matt's hawking in the SOCK item shop. This means that there's a column of mine due tomorrow. Which also means that I need some letters from you awesome folks to make it happen! Send sooner, rather than later, and I will be happy. And when I'm happy, you're happy. Comprendé?

On that note, BigWook has prompted today's topic, should you choose to accept it: your frustrations when playing RPGs. I want to hear stories about which game and why, or how you deal with your anger. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, chuck any random thing at me. I'm not fussy.

For now, though, I'll take leave of you all, grab myself a slice of somebody's birthday cake and a tall glass of milk, and go enjoy myself.


***Janelle still needs to make herself a sig pic.

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