16 February 2013

So Today...

OR: Barnes & Noble, I Am Done With You! 
Tagline: Unfairly, I admit, but done, dammit!  
So, one of my New Year's resolutions was that I wanted to get into tabletop gaming, something I've always skirted the edges of, but never fully dived into apart from some gateway drugs like Hero QuestMagic: The Gathering, owning a lot of Palladium books (mostly Robotech), & playing a single game of Battletech. To rectify this, I bought the Red Box from Thinkgeek and looked through its materials. Also, for reasons I don't recall at the moment, I wanted to play as a Tiefling. I had an idea for a character, but I didn't have any technical data to play as one. I did a lot of sloppy research and worked out that I was going to need the Essentials Rules Compendium and the Race Handbook for Tieflings. The former is a condensed version of the 4th Edition Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, the other is basically a magazine (that will become important later). 
I got a coupon from Barnes & Noble or, as I like to call them, Not Borders, and thought this would be the perfect chance to pick them up without waiting for them in the mail & potentially getting burned by finding out they're not what I need after all. I'm normally weary about "in-store pickups" but I've got that kind of luck where I could be after the most obscure thing in the world and get beaten to it by someone more offbeat than I pretend to be. I put in the reserve for the Tiefling race book (the magazine, a point I'll explain in a moment) and waited. This was Friday night, so I didn't get the message until morning. The message said that despite being listed as "in stock" it could not be found and put on reserve. No biggie, I thought; most of the reviews said it was only an art book of sorts. I tried to reserve the Compendium and had better luck. One 30-minute drive and a missed turn later, I got to the store with the coupon in my pocket.
It turns out there was more than one copy of the Compendium in stock, so I didn't have to do the potentially awkward thing of picking up the book at the desk and asking to look through it before purchasing it (that probably happens all the time, but it just feels awkward to reserve something and then DEMAND to inspect it--I'm the sort of guy who will go down the other aisle in a grocery store and double-back to where I need to go rather than simply excuse myself as I squeeze past someone's cart). Anyway, my research revealed the book was a bit vague on how much of a "condensing" of the two aforementioned books it was, with some of the races and player classes being relegated to a pair of companion volumes, which we'll just call Purple and Orange because I don't remember their names and don't feel like looking them up right now. It turns out Tieflings aren't in the Compendium, but in the Purple book. Fine, I thought, but I ended up deciding against getting the book anyway as it didn't really offer me any real information I hadn't already gathered (legitimately, I might add, no piracy or scans or downloads like that).
I should mention now that the Compendium, along with Purple and Orange, are thick paperbacks with very wide spines, distinctly standing out from the other books that usually crowd the gaming section of a bookstore. Meanwhile, the Tiefling race book is a pithy, staple-bound affair that can be fairly easily hidden between two larger books or campaign modules or DM screens or any such shelf-stretchers. As I was looking through the other books, including a Pathfinder book which actually had a lot of cool information about Tieflings I won't bore you with (except to say, they were really neutered between D&D 3.0/.5 and 4th Ed.), I came across the Tiefling race book. Apparently, no one had bothered to look any harder than simply glancing at the spines. I doubt they'd even actually set aside the Compendium, just leaving it there, figuring no one else would pick it up.
After pacing back and forth between there and the Moleskine stand (where they had one pocket-sized watercolor book left that I almost got instead), I resolved, "Screw this crap." and stormed out, even throwing my coupon in the trash outside.
I went next door to the Best Buy to look at laptops, and made an ass of myself as I tried to figure out how Windows 8 is supposed to work. I still can't get around the fact that the "desktop" is an application tile. That's insane, like having to call 411 to get your own number. Plus, is it just me, or are more desktop apps designed like mobile apps in that there's no real way to quit them? If it wasn't for Skype and better hardware compatibility (namely webcams) I wouldn't even be looking at Windows devices. Still, found a really cool Vaio. We'll see what happens there.
Some other crap happened, but it's more minor inconveniences amplified by all preceding events, so I won't go into it here.

Good night, and good luck.
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