With Babels going as Salamence and my Lucas costume being a bit well-worn, I’ve decided its time for a new Pokémon trainer costume. Since Salamence originated in Ruby and Sapphire, I’m going to go as Brendan, the male trainer from the games.In the past, I’ve created a bunch of cosplays with lots of help from my wife. She’s still helping this time, but I’m intent on sewing some of the costume together. With a cosplay selected, it’s time to start planning.

Step one is to gather lots of reference pictures. Fortunately, Pokémon has a large and vibrant fanbase that is incredibly resourceful. At Bulbapedia, the goto wiki for Pokémon, there is a well-research article on Brendan including artwork and sprites from the original games and the remakes. Since I’m using the character from the remakes, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, there is a 3D model available that has been extracted from the games.

With references acquired, its time to break down the costume into essentials, nice-to-haves and extraneous pieces. For Brendan, I picked the hat and shirt as essentials. As far as Pokémon trainers go, they are the distinctive parts of his outfit. The shorts, pokéball and mega bracelet are nice-to-haves. Given that I’m likely to be toting around a baby Salamence, the backpack is extraneous. I’m also placing the shoes in the extraneous category, any pair of sneakers will suffice. Also, a few non-featured additions, a set of Hoenn League badges will be a nice touch and considered an essential. An updated Hoenn pokédex will make the nice-to-haves list.

After assigning each of the pieces of the costume a category, it’s time to decide how to make or acquire each of the pieces. Given the uniquness of the hat and shirt, I’ll be sewing these myself. I’ll illustrate a Salamencite Mega Stone as a watch face for my Apple Watch and if there’s enough time, I’ll build the Pokédex myself. The shorts are generic enough to be purchased. I’ll pick up a new watch band that’s closer in color to the Mega Bracelet. Finally, I’ll buy the Hoenn League badges like I did for Lucas.

With a plan mostly in place, its time to get started!

(Cross-posted at Abels Innovations.)

For a while, I’ve been struggling with continuing to work through the drawing exercises as part of Learning to Draw. The last exercise I tried was drawing a chair to learn about negative spaces. Despite my progress, I was ambitious and crashed and burned in my first attempt. Since that incident, I’ve struggled to get myself motivated to continue improving.

This is bad. I have a pair of costume ideas I’d like to start on for DragonCon. Both are going to involve months long build times and need significant visual preparation. And my drawing skills are just not there yet. My fiancée has pushed me off the starting line this weekend. Over the past year or so, I’ve been collecting various Udemy courses during their big sales. During the Thanksgiving Day sale, I grabbed Learning 3D Modelling – The Complete Blender Creator Course. Sunday, we started the course and came away excited.

2016-01-18 - Blender1

Much like Learning to Draw, I have little prior experience. I’ve tried using Blender before but never got anywhere. The first section of the course focused on installing, configuring and understanding the basics of the software. It helped a lot to spend that time getting familiar with the interface.

2016-01-18 - Blender2

After dinner, we started working through Section 2. We didn’t finish the section but we made it past the mid-section quiz and completed our first major model, an airplane. We scanned an image search for wooden toy plane and located this one from Etsy.

2016-01-18 - Wooden Toy Airplane

Here’s my finished model in Blender. I’m pretty happy about it. It took a couple hours for me to build but I think it looks great. I’m meticulous in creating things and I hope it shows. This course will likely take me longer than I hoped.

2016-01-18 - Blender3

With the model completed, I transferred it over to my old laptop and ran it through Netfabb and Cura. And then I printed it on our LulzBot Mini! My first print of a model I created.

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane2

Now to start work on my Invincible Iron Man armor!

I’m not the easiest person to buy a gift for. I have a few wishlists scattered across the internet.1 But this Christmas, I knew exactly what I wanted, the Bioware Mass Effect LootCrate. I’m generally not one for random things to put around my office. But how could I pass up a box filled with things from a universe I absolutely adore? Unfortunately, we missed our opportunity to get the box. But my fantastic fiancée put one together for me anyway. First up the box she gave it to me in! Stellar job.

2016-01-13 - N7 Box

Next up, the cloth articles. First a hand towel. Then a t-shirt. Finally a patch. Towel is already in use after a wash. The t-shirt is a bit too small at the moment, but it gives me a reason to keep working out. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with the patch.

2016-01-13 - N7 Clothes

The Art of Mass Effect book! I like to pick up art books here and there and this one definitely deserves a place in my collection. I plan to use it as drawing practice and reference material for my future Mass Effect cosplay.

2016-01-13 - Mass Effect Art Book

An N7 glass that will be primarily used to contain orange juice. Also an N7 card box she printed on our LulzBot Mini and painted. Inside a set of Mass Effect sketch cards from Etsy. Still need to figure out how I want to display the cards but for now the box is awesome. Finally, an iPhone 6s case. It took me a few weeks to get used to but it does it’s job and looks great.

2016-01-13 - N7 Cards

This haul was better than the box of stuff LootCrate delivered. I’m glad I missed out on that one and got this carefully curated selection of Mass Effect items from my fiancée. She did a kick ass job.


  1. Amazon books, Amazon stuff, CoolStuffInc games, Steam games. 

At the conclusion of last session, the GM awarded us all a skill point. It took a while to decide but eventually I settled on picking up Empathy at +1. I wasn’t super confident in this choice, but as a Jedi, it seemed appropriate. Being able to sense things about people should be useful. This was not the case, but that’s for later.

This session, we conclude the first story arc of the Star War campaign. The session opens with the remaining crew assembled in a small base in a canyon.1 Tarth Onasi, our rebel contact, has led us here after we freed him from the Imperial compound. We have a few challenges ahead of us:

  1. The U.S.S. Minnow needs a new coolant regulator to be space-worthy.2
  2. Our cargo, a couple dozen crates of proton torpedoes, are in Imperial hands
  3. There’s a blockade of the planet with three star destroyers

We don’t have much in the way of resources. There’s four of us, Phae, Cal, Cole and Liv.3 Plus two NPCs, Ulaa and Tarth. There’s the Minnow but it’s out for the count. We stole a lambda-class shuttle last time and we still have access to a swoop. Phae has some money and Tarth has some contacts. Cole has a gun and I have a lightsaber. We know there’s a custom XR-75 in the local Imperial hanger courtesy of our fallen companion. Cal believes that we can scrap it and grab the regulator. It’s not a perfect match but it’ll get us out of dodge. Fortunately, our stock of proton torpedoes is also likely at that location. The blockade will be troublesome but if we can’t even get our ship working, we won’t have to worry about the blockade. So we ignore that part and focus on the hanger.

Tarth can get someone to pick up the “abandoned” shuttle and get it into the hanger. There’s only four of us, and three of us are human. So we should be able to get in without issue. Once inside, we’ll locate the torpedoes and the XR-75. There’s likely another lambda in the hanger, so if we could steal it’s IFF codes, that be a nice bonus to try and break through the imperial blockade. Off we go.

Once inside the compound, we leave Cal behind on the shuttle to run some interference. We manage to locate the XR-75. Phae confirms the regulator will prove a decent, but temporary, replacement for the Minnow. Then she and Cole clear out the security systems Aquila left behind. Moving on from the impound lot, we locate the torpedoes. Unfortunately, our attempts to persuade the guard to let us through fail.

Phae acts quickly and squeeze off a shot into the glass, but it’s harmlessly absorbed and the alarms in the base go off. Cole breaks through the lock and Phae steps in and kills the guard. There’s a bunch of crates we load onto a repulsor lift and then we have a bit of a debate.

The compound has two walls that intersect in the middle of compound dividing it into quarters. At this point, we’re directly across from Cal and our shuttle. We’ve made plans for one of us to take the XR-75 and fly it out. But we could really use the IFF codes from the other shuttle. We can’t afford to run all the way around, so we’re going to blow open one of the walls. But we could set the charges in the middle and open up all four rooms at once. This could lead to bad things as we’re not certain how many imperials are in the unexplored room. Eventually, we settle on just blowing the wall to the impound lot and then gauging what we need to do next.

Phae sets the charge and we back away. But there’s not a lot of room to maneuver so the explosion messes with us a bit. Cole exchanges some gunfire with the two Imperials stationed in the impound lot while Phae sets up the next bomb. Originally, I was hoping to avoid breaking out the lightsaber again but we were in a bit of a crunch. So, Liv cut through another imperial. A few more show up and Liv cuts them down again. Phae opens up the wall again.

In the other room, Cal is powering up the shuttle for escape. He’s been helpful (and harmful) throughout our time in the compound. Shut of some cameras, locked some doors but also triggered some alarms. Cole pushes the repulsor lift filled with proton torpedoes towards the waiting Cal. But he gets absolutely rocked. A series of blasters fire upon him as he’s running and the blasts send him into a wall with a concussion. Cal manages to fire a few shots from the shuttle and opens the ramp for Cole who pushes the cargo on board and they head out to escape.

Just to make matters worse, two storm troopers arrive in the impound lot. These aren’t the movie storm troopers that can’t hit anything. These are guys that will make your day really, really bad. Liv has her glow stick of doom visible though and this is bad. Liv and Phae get onto the XR-75 and Phae pushes through to the cockpit to get it going. Liv deflects one of the shots from the trooper rifles, but the second one catches her pretty badly. In response, she force pushes one of them into the other and the ramp closes and the ship takes off.

We arrive at our makeshift base and strip the XR-75 for parts. Liv makes it very clear that they need to get off planet now. Two storm troopers have identified her lightsaber and that means the hunters will be coming soon. It takes a little to formulate a plan, but we decided to take the Minnow manned by Cal and Phae, the shuttle manned by Liv and Cole, and a pair of Z-95s manned by Ulaa and Tarth. The GM explains that the Z-95s are without astromechs, so they’ll be slaved to the Minnow for hyperspace jump. We capture the Z-95s without much issue, destroy a few towers and the other Z-95s to prevent pursuit.

Once off-planet, we find a group of six fighters, two bombers and two interceptors. We need to destroy the bombers to make sure we have enough time to jump. This is incredibly stressful. We engage the group hoping to take out the bombers quickly, but the long range makes it easy for them to avoid. Have the fighters and the two interceptors go for the Minnow, while the rest of the fighters head for the shuttle. The bombers both gain locks on the larger craft. Ulaa in her amazingly skilled piloting for a teenager manages to destroy the bomber locked on the Minnow. With my newly minted Pilot skill, I shake the lock from the other bomber.

Cal, a tactical genius, sends Tarth after the other bomber while the Minnow and the shuttle attack the fighters and interceptors. We manage to take a few out but the remaining bomber regains a lock on the shuttle that I’m unable to shake. Ulaa misses the bomber but Tarth saves the days. A few rounds have passed and we can see a second squadron coming in fast with more bombers. And so we bang on the consoles and prep for the jump. The fighters get in a few parting shots but the Minnow and the slaved Z-95s make the jump. Which leaves the shuttle with the interceptors and the second squadron coming in.

At this point the shuttle’s taken some hits though all of them have been absorbed by the shields. Cole manages to drop one of the remaining fighters. But then first interceptor strikes taking out the shuttle’s highest shield stress. That sucks but it’s not killer. And then the second interceptor fires hitting pretty hard also, but the shields absorb half the blow and the hull takes the rest. Fortunately, we’re locked in at this point and Liv hits the button and we jump out of there.

It’s a short jump. We check everything and then take a second longer jump. Tarth let’s everything settle down and explains that he’s got a new mission for us if we’re willing to accept. He needs us to get to the Mon Calamari homeworld and help them join the Rebellion. End scene.

Another good session and a nice wrap for the first story arc. I’m surprised at how well the GM juggles the NPCs. Especially having them interact with the group a lot. I know I tend to struggle when I have more than one NPC in the scene engaged with the PCs. I think his ability to give the NPCs distinct voices helps a lot. I just always feel foolish when I try different voices. But maybe I’ll give it a try in my next campaign.


  1. If you skipped the last recap, the bounty hunter died after some poor decisions and worse rolling. 
  2. Sorry Jen, I just can’t call it the CC Aqualove
  3. Cal A. Mon, the Mon Calamari. 

In about a month, I’ll be traveling to Atlanta for Dragon*Con and I’m super excited. Earlier this year, I attended my first con, MegaCon in Orlando, Florida. I had such a great experience between the panels, the exhibitor’s hall and the special guests, I couldn’t imagine a better time. Well I could, I could be going with a bunch of my closest and geekiest and nerdiest friends. Previously, I had made half-hearted plans to attend PAX or PAX East with a few friends. But one of them moved to Atlanta just before summer and it all clicked. We’d go to Dragon*Con!

It didn’t take long to convince my friends to join me. The stories and pictures I had from MegaCon were more than enough to prove that it was a worthwhile venture. But there was something else that I felt could make the experience even better, a group cosplay. For the unfamiliar, at these fan cons, people dress up in costumes from their favorite games, books, movies and genres. Some go as individuals, others as couples and some as groups. The detail and effort people put into their costumes is amazing. But the group cosplays are the best. The effort and detail of the individual cosplays and then you mix in the coordination for five or more people!

So, with about ten of my close friends, we’re traveling to Dragon*Con as characters from Red Dragon Inn. The coordination and selection was difficult. With a diverse group of friends, finding something that appealed to everyone proved harder than expected. We’ve got D&D players, video game lovers, Whovians, Trekkies and others. We were voting and a couple of us suggested “generic band of adventurers” and then the light came on, Red Dragon Inn! They’re generic enough where we’ll be a merry band of adventurers to most people in small groups or alone. But when we’re together, and the right people are around, it’ll be easy to pick us out as RDI.

I’ve got most of the materials for my costume at this point, I just need to start putting it all together. A subset of my local friends went out to Goodwill, JoAnn’s Fabrics and Play It Again Sports to gather our materials. I’ve decided to be Remy from the upcoming expansion. I have pants, a shirt, a jacket, a sword and material for a cape. I’m unsure about how to stud the jacket and at this point I won’t be wearing blue paint or a wig, though elf ears are a likely addition. So next weekend I’ll be working on making a bunch of progress in putting it together. Then I’ll have about three weeks to put on the finishing touches. I’m excited and I’ll write a follow-up post after next weekend.