VikingDad – Minecraft Blues #16 – Creeper

So, no kidding, there I was…

Just with any different media delivery systems of a particular game (whether PC, Console or Tablet) each one has its own idiosyncrasies.  We have Minecraft for the Xbox 360 edition as well as for the Tablet (called Pocket Edition).  I’ve tried to work it on my PC, but I have an outdated and sorely in need of being replaced desktop computer and it is horribly slow, to the point of generating a lag-induced coma.

That’s not the point of today’s story, however.  The point is that different versions have different methods of game parameters, say, like how to turn Mobs (aka hostile creatures) on and off. So, when you, say, play a game in the wee hours of the morning with Mobs on and then your daughter decides to start up your profile so that the two of you can play together that same evening, (but doesn’t pay attention to whether or not Mobs were on or off) it shouldn’t surprise you to find, as you’re headed to fetch a bucket of lava for your furnace in your previously saved “Peaceful” game (aka Mobs are turned off) so that you can continue the arduous task of creating a sky bridge to high above the world for ease of monster free access for when you DO turn monsters back on, a creeper waiting for you around the corner of your water elevator (aka a waterfall that you can ride up and down)… and yet it did… To deadly effect.

So, those 8 blocks (a block contains 64 of an item) of glass I was carrying (that wasn’t destroyed in the explosion), which, granted, is not that hard (but time consuming) to make, fell into the lava pit below and was destroyed.

Now granted, I was a bit upset and I felt justifiably so, since it took a lot of time to craft the glass blocks (from smelting sand in a furnace), not to mention both the large number of blocks of Netherrack (a red flammable stone that I used to line either side of the sky bridge, with the glass cubes in the middle so you can see down) and iron buckets I was carrying were lost as well.  Still, I remembered the advice I later gave to my sister to give to my niece, Sadie, who is an expert Minecrafter.   You can remake it better.  Sadie, who made a beautiful three story wooden lodge in Minecraft recently tried to make an addition of a sauna, using lava.  Unfortunately, the lava caught the wood on fire and utterly devastated both the house and her.  Hang in there, Sadie, I feel your pain. Keep calm and keep on building!

In any case, instead of turning the evening into a ragequit and horrid pity party for my lost resources, we decided to give back as good as we got.  Well, OK, not even as close as we got since I died like five times that night, but it was a bit therapeutic to beat the heck out of some zombies, skeletons, and, of course, creepers (VENGENCE IS MINE!!!!!! HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES MR. CREEPER!?!?!?!?!?!?!)



Also, since we’ve just downloaded the Skyrim mash-up pack for the Xbox 360 Minecraft, we’ve not returned to that world and been busy exploring the new one. I’ll keep you posted, though, on our progress.

VikingDad – Minecraft Blues #89 – The Nether (aka Hot Hot Lava)

So, up until our second controller for the Xbox360 broke, Charlotte and I would play together and worked to build a safe, secure village: one with a fence to keep out nasty mobs, and plenty of doors to generate a good population of villagers.  We’ve done quite well with it, have a huge farm,  a chest full of food (including over 640 baked potatoes) and have secured a nice, lava and obsidian rich ravine. It is on that note that brings us to the next step.  Exploring the Nether.

Up until this point, I had never played in the Nether (it doesn’t really exist as such in the Pocket Edition, though I have utilized my fair share of nether reactors, but that’s for another post)  and it looked like fun… until I went there.

My first comment was, “Wow, this Nether Quartz sure is plentiful…” to which Charlotte replied, “Well yeah, it’s like what the world is made from…” in that “duh” tone of voice.   The snark is strong with this one.   As with anything, however, I’ve learned that patience and stamina outlast blustery snark every time.

It was not long after our original foray into the Nether that, loaded down with Nether Quartz and Netherrack, that we spotted in the distance (over the ubiquitous sea of lava) the tell-tale signs of a Nether Fortress.  Excited, we started looking for a way to get there.

I discovered that Steve (or in this case, Boba Fett, as I’ve downloaded the Star Wars skin pack), however resilient he is (able to punch down trees and the like) he is certainly not fireproof.  I was mining (with my Unbreaking I Diamond Pick) my way to a lower level when I opened up the bottom of a hidden lava pool.  Yeah, I caught on fire. I panicked.  I couldn’t get up the makeshift staircase fast enough.  Fortunately I wasn’t on fire forever and didn’t end up dying, but I did take some serious damage.  So I went back to my old fallback… the term Ben likes to call, “Sneaky-mode”.  This way, you don’t actually fall off blocks and can build physics-defying bridges.

I set to work building one while Charlotte looked for another way (or harvested more Nether Quartz or Nether Wart, or Soul Sand…) around.

Well, five minutes and two Oola deaths later (that’s the skin she was playing with). We made it.  Not much of one, but it was something and we got a ton of Nether Brick (which made for a great addition to my house in the Overworld).

So, after two deaths (by falling into lava), her snark wasn’t as strong. Still, though, she maintained it throughout.

Yeah… I’m proud.

Beneficial Interaction with your Kids

Being part of several Stay-at-Home Dad groups, I get to see a very different side of raising children than the environment I was raised in, particularly many different individuals telling their story or asking for assistance, or just plain making fun of their situation.  Laughter, shared with a group, is a healthy thing.

This post is inspired by one of them, a journalist who writes about fatherhood (among other things, but mainly about being a dad) called DadScribe (  He brought up an interesting comment about Minecraft (Pocket Edition, since he references iPads) which of course pulled me in.  It was simple and quite humorous and to paraphrase: he didn’t know anything about Minecraft, but if he did, he’d leave signs from the mobs to his kids like, “Eat your carrots. Love, the Creepers” or other things along those lines.

Not only did it give me a good laugh, but it also got me thinking.  This is a two birds with one stone moment. I mean, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who actually likes and knows a bit about Minecraft.  I wouldn’t have had that if it weren’t for my daughter’s love of it.  There are nights where the two of us will settle in for an hour of Xbox Minecrafting ( and have a great time.

The ‘a-HA!’ moment came when I thought to myself, “Sure, there are things that Charlotte likes that I’m not really into, but it’s really great that we have Minecraft (and other stuff, like RPG’s, Archery, Boffer weapons) to do together.”  It’s like I’m able to be a cool Dad AND I get to do something I like.  I’m pretty lucky, but the point I’m getting at here is that there are things that aren’t as cool or as fun, or that we just simply don’t have the time to learn, but there are still ways to get involved and be that cool parent.

There may be things your kids really enjoy that they can just go on for hours about that mean nothing to you, because either it’s not your thing or you just don’t have the time to learn.  That’s OK.  We don’t have to be involved in every facet of our kids’ lives. In fact, it’s probably good that we’re not. Anyroad, just because we don’t know how or that it isn’t really our thing doesn’t mean we can’t get involved.  If nothing else, it shows your kid that you really care and can be a good laughing point in the future, “remember that one time when Dad tried to play Minecraft and got pushed off a cliff by a cow?”

So, with that in mind, if your kids like Minecraft and you know nothing about it, I’ve included the below tutorial (though please forgive the less than professional screenshots)where you can have a little bit of fun pranking your kids with signs(for the Pocket Edition, meaning the one the tablet):



Who is Viking Dad? (in about 750 words)

Well, I can start by saying that I’m not the guy in the YouTube video of the same name. That’s a start.  I was adopted, raised in Michigan, spending the school year in the lower peninsula and the summers in the upper peninsula.  I also, with this blog as a record, am living for and through my family.

Born in 1970, I displayed signs of Alopecia Totalis (meaning I have no body hair at all) starting when I was two years old.  It made elementary school a bit rough, as even those children in the minority still had each other, where I was the only one with that condition.  I found the wonderful worlds of Gary Gygax (Dungeons and Dragons) in the summer of 1980 (I was 9) and embraced it whole-heartedly.

I also went through an awkward (just like everyone else) time in that social circus we call junior and high school.  I was not the average kid. I didn’t like or play sports, I didn’t have an affinity for anything other than escapism by not really being present in my own world and substituted by living in a fantasy world.  Thanks to R.A. Salvatore, in the mid to late 1980’s I had a realm to escape to.

I had anger management issues. Having been picked on and made fun of my entire childhood and adolescence (and not having a solid sense of self at all, nor any confidence to be able to shrug it off as I desperately wanted to be a part of a group, to feel like I belonged), I repressed all that hurt and anger.  I then found an outlet for it, though it was unhealthy and hurtful.  I worked out lifting weights (not all that bad), trained a bit as a boxer (still not all that bad) and then started picking fights (bad).   Being beaten within an inch of my life (maybe a little bit less than) by several people put things into perspective for me.

I turned to theatre.  I got a scholarship at the local community college and started succeeding. I transferred to a four year university and at the direction of everyone other than myself, I failed. I moved around, got married, got divorced, moved some more, tried again and this time got my B.A. in Theatre and started feeling really good.

Then I went to graduate school and it all went downhill again. I moved around some more, got married again.  I found solace in escapism once more, in the worlds of darkness presented by the NPO (then) called the Camarilla, now known as the Mind’s Eye Society.  Things went downhill once more and I got divorced… again.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  I met the shield-maiden in the Cam/MES and it has lead to the happiest, healthiest, most fun relationship I’ve ever been in (going on seven years now, married for five of them).

In 2008 I moved to the Chicagoland area, in 2009 I married the shield-maiden and in 2011, our son, Benjamin (aka Benvolio, Viking in Training) was born.  He has an older half-sister from the shield-maiden’s previous marriage.

Together the four of us work to not just survive, but thrive and live in this world.  We are trying to live creatively, choosing happiness over struggle.  We are in debt, always. We have struggles, perpetually.  We have bills, things breaking down, issues and obstacles from both of us having previous marriages.

Despite all that, we choose to embrace the moments of happiness instead of dwelling on the struggles.  The moments shared playing and working together:  Bonding over Minecraft and Nachos; Planning for the future of training with swords and archery.  In the process of teaching, I am learning the real life issues of helping my children grow up in a world that is nothing like the one I grew up in.

My children see me working on tasks that break stereotypes.  I cook, I bake, I do dishes, I do laundry. I make their lunches, and help with the homework.  I bake bread for our family two to three times a week.  I make sure the kids have a decent breakfast.  I play with them and involve myself in their creativeness.  I say, “Yes, and…” (most of the time).

Today, Ben turns 4.  Today celebrates over 1200 days of successfully raising our son and helping him survive (despite our setbacks and failures during that time).

Today, we have birthday cake for breakfast.  Happiness.

Find your moment of happiness and embrace it!


The Viking Dad Midwinter Gaming Convention Re-cap

So, you’ve seen the shield-maiden’s report of the Midwinter Gaming Convention held this past weekend in Milwaukee.  Now it’s my turn.

First things first, I recall attending this convention 4 years ago, a few weeks before Benjamin was born.  In fact, we incorporated that into the characters we played since the shield-maiden was very obviously pregnant.  It was a great time and even though we were utterly new, we were greeted warmly and treated to a warm welcome.  That first experience, four years ago, is the main reason we continue to return.  It’s how conventions should be run and they hit it on the head.

As the name suggests, this is a gaming oriented convention and that said, I did get to partake of one of the LARP events.  It was a great deal of fun and is one of the past times that I fully enjoy, but was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why this convention rocked!

I mentioned above the welcoming and accepting atmosphere at the convention.  No matter what your flavor of gaming, all were welcomed.  The convention and volunteer staff was helpful and friendly, there were a ton of things to do from video gaming to table top role-playing  to board gaming to collectible card gaming.  From live action to full contact immersion, there was something for everyone.  I can’t count the number of “Wows” I felt and uttered at this convention.

Ben versus the Bustle
Ben wanted to try on one of the bustles, but without a booty or hips, it didn’t really stay on.

I spent some time in the booth, but with the addition of two booth helpers, I got to spend time off on my own for a bit, or with Benjamin (trying on various wares to model as seen in the picture above), or (most importantly) with the shield-maiden, enjoying the convention.

The shield-maiden and I in costume, ready for Changeling: the Lost
The shield-maiden and I in costume, ready for Changeling: the Lost

I can’t stress enough the importance of having an accepting or welcoming atmosphere.  In relation to other conventions, and I’ve been to quite a few gaming conventions, this one is the best by far.  Let me show you an example of comparison:

October of 2009, the shield-maiden and I went to a convention (as our honeymoon) in Atlanta.  It was a national convention for the then titled Camarilla (now known as the Mind’s Eye Society).  We vended at that one as well and the first thing we noticed was that the vendor’s hall was tucked far away from any of the “action”.  This really limited foot traffic and for the number of attendees, the space was a fraction of the size that Midwinter had for its Vendor’s Hall.

I mean, the gaming track wasn’t that bad… I just wasn’t “wowed”, until the night game of Changeling: the Lost, which was the main thing both the shield-maiden and I were looking forward to playing. We were both very excited about it and she had spent the entire day working in the cramped vendor’s room on her feet with the hopeful expectation of the both of us getting to play this game together.

We get food, we eat, we change and then head down to the room that the game is being held at to find the doors locked. We knock, we hear people inside, but no one is coming to open it.  We knock louder and then an ST from a different game comes to us and says we can’t go in.  When asked why, he says that the doors locked at a particular time and after than no one else was allowed to enter.

Now, I should preface this with that the locking of the doors was not mentioned anywhere in the programming guide (because if it had, we would have been there at that time). It was something that, apparently, they had just decided upon.

So there we were, in full costume (which by the way, the shield-maiden glued sea shells to her face, so you know that our costuming was extensive) being told that we were out of luck.  We voiced our concern that this wasn’t right, but he said that there’s nothing he could do.

Needless to say we were very put off by this.  Not ones to sit idly by, we voiced our concerns to the Event Staff.   We were blown off with the words (paraphrasing), “Not my problem”.

That is an example of how NOT to do a convention.  Midwinter Gaming Convention was on the complete other side of the spectrum.  They have grown, steadily, each year and by being inclusive of all aspects of gaming, I believe, will see that trend continue.

So, to the staff of the Midwinter Gaming Convention, I salute you.  Well done and I look forward to many happy returns.

The shield-maiden and I in costume, ready for Changeling: the Lost
Awesome venue, awesome game, awesome job Midwinter Gaming Convention!



VikingDad – Minecraft Blues #74 – Tools, Lava and Death

The shield-maiden often laughs aloud when our ten-year old daughter and I play Minecraft together on the Xbox 360.  Here is one of the situations that caused one such outburst:

She and I were deep underground, digging around some lava pools (aka Layer 11, where all the goodies are) and her avatar inadvertently fell into one of the lava pools and burned to death before we could get any water on her, though it was not her in-game death that was outburst worthy… it’s what came after.

Now, I should set the scene before I go into much more detail.  We had found a naturally formed cave, had limited tools (as we were burning through them collecting all the goodies) and were a good distance away from our home (which she built, looks awesome but seems to draw mobs like there’s no tomorrow)… a home that is FULL of useful things like wood and tools, by the way.  This will be important later, so remember this.  In any case, we had no crafting table, no wood, no chests, and our inventory bars were pretty full with all sorts of natural resources like Iron ore, gold ore, diamonds, etc.  While we had all that great stuff, we could do nothing with it.  Now, back to the scene:

So we were mining in this cavern, me on one side and her on the other with the cavern floor interspersed with lava pools.  We are playing split screen, so I could, if I had wanted, see what she’s doing and vice versa.  At that time, I was pretty focused on not dropping a ton of gravel on my head and not really paying attention to her side of the screen until I hear her go, “Ouch… oh FUDGE! Help help help…”

I look to her side of the screen just in time to see an immolated Tuxedo Steve (her chosen skin) hop out of the lava pool and continue to jump up and down in the same spot, repeatedly (something I do NOT recommend for someone who is actually on fire).   Inevitably, Tuxedo Steve succumbs to the flames and perishes, the avatar vomiting a plethora of natural resources and stone that had about as much mass as the Sun.

“Get my stuff, get my stuff…” She frantically yelled, even though we were sitting next to one another.

“OK OK…”  I chuckled as I started doing the dance of emptying out the less useful items out of my inventory (and into the lava pool) to make room for the important ones (to her) while NOT falling into the lava pool and suffering a similar fate.  I was successful in both.

A minute or so later a freshly re-spawned Tuxedo Steve is down in the mines as I finished my dumping and gathering.  I toss her the stuff and then ask if she brought anything down with her.

There was a pause.  Remember that thing I told you to remember from earlier?  Yeah, it’s important now.

“Did you bring anything with you?” I asked, hopeful for some wood at least, to build a crafting table and a chest to avoid this setback in the future.

“I brought a shovel…”

“A shovel… A… Ah… A singular shovel.”


“You went all the way back to our house… where all our tools and resources are, and all you brought back with you was a single shovel?”



So, remember kids, when you are mining with a partner and one of you dies, use that opportunity to bring supplies back down into the mine with you.  It will save time and mean you can get more resources so you don’t have to make a separate trip back.