Friday, October 2, 2015

Devil's Rock - a movie rant

The Devil's Rock, a 2011 horror film was recommended to me by the Netflix AI.

(Fair use image for review-Movie Cover)

So, while I appreciated the story, and enjoyed the twist... I still found the film lacking. For want of a couple of pieces of wood, the movie was lost. Let me explain... and I'll try to avoid too many spoilers.

    The film is a WW2 period horror, set just before D-Day in the Channel Islands. It ties into the Historic Witch Trials, and thus a supposed strong Occult base that the Germans are attempting to modify/weaponize. This is stumbled into by a small commando team setting up a distraction away from the true D-Day launch. 

  So far, so good... the expected chaos insures, quickly reducing the cast down to three players. The story had obligatory mayhem (enemy of my enemy, but also my enemy,whom I can't trust, but need to help me.) And a few cool nerd references, (like named 'demons' from the Cthulhu Mythos,) and believable and consistent occult rules/rituals. 

   And the sets were 'almost' great. They used some of the existing locations of old German fortifications. Which they dressed with realistic looking furniture, and period appropriate lights, radios, and posters. However, they either missed, or couldn't put in a simple set of handrails. Even just 2 six foot 2X4's to set into the existing wall hooks would have made the sets believable. This lack destroyed the suspension of disbelief, even before introducing the supernatural evil character. 

  The story does work, and the end twist feels cool, and lends the ending a feel of disturbed 'was anyone actually good?' feeling. That ending works well for the story, but to accomplish it the Allied Soldier would need precognition and to reach from one side of the room to the other without moving his feet. But, I think, if I had not already been annoyed at the set, I would not have noticed the displaced reality of where the chain was locked.

  So, in short, I thought is a good attempt at a smart horror film... 
Till next time-

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Calypso Farm Spin In

Well, actually it was an open house. But my wife and I were invited as part of the 'Fiber Arts' section.

First,  Calypso Farm is a non-profit, educational farm based in Ester, Alaska. They showcase and teach classic skills based on eco-friendly farming.

This last spring, we atteneded their 'Sheep Shearing and Wool Day.' I had not seen a sheep shearing, and we have several fleeces that need to be cleaned (so we were hoping to learn a trick or two to make that easier as well.) And of course, we bought spindles and spun.

This led to us being invited to the open house (mid-summer) to be part of the Fiber Arts demo. And so, for a few hours today, my wife and I showed off both drop and supported spindles. I even brought out my kick spindle (shown above) just to have something different.

 The other invited guests showed off a couple of different styles of wheels, and one guest had a backstrap loom. There was a bin of odds and ends of wool, a couple of flick carders, and some 'stick style' mini drop spindles for people to try. All in all, a nice overall demo.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Game Developments - The 'Woof' Moment (Part 2)

So to recap,the party has figured out the arena, and in doing so have unintentionally acquired an NPC. This little dog named 'woof' eventally became a respected member of the party, with even the gruff Dwarf calling her "the world's smallest war dog."
    This new group dynamic 'testing' seems to have gone well, thus the game was building into a campaign. So I needed to continue my 'Worldbuilding.'
    My style of Worldbuilding is a series of outward spiraling idea builds. I usually start with a few basic sites (taverns, guild houses, maybe a blacksmith, and a few quick adventure hooks) and  then let the play inspire touches of unique interactions. Those interactions inspire my behind the scenes expansion of the community, while my larger world grows as it occurs.
     I try to keep building  the outlying world ahead of the party, but take into account the things they have done, and the things they leave to others. In this way the realm is constantly evolving, as a living world. Other parts of the world are built as inspiration  strikes, as tangents to the spiral build... so circles and tangents.
      In this case,  I started adding arenas to nearby sites, and thinking about how those sites would be influenced. 'Advancement' via skills or ability enhancement could wildly shake up a more traditional fantasy racial society, so I began building a whole  pocket society of Tribal Champion style of Law. It was loosely  based on a cross between  classic chivalry, and the Battle Tech 'Clan' laws.
     I also worked out several 'types' of arenas. The first obviously  gave bonus from the loser to the winner. Others gave bonuses based on skills used, and some only gave punishments  for losses. And all were magically linked, allowing for easy scrying... as a magical sports and government channel.
      And the campaign  turned into a sports-movie  underdog story, with the party eventually challenging through the arena legal system for rulership of this pocket realm. This also led to a 'Test of Faith' for the party cleric  as the arena changes  disrupted the 'purity  of  nature' and made  the arena  'champions' into 'abominations. And 'abominations against nature' (which she now had become) are against her god's teachings. And even with the eventual BBG (Big Bad Guy) who had built the arena system as a slight XP leach conduit to power his attempt to ascend to godhood...

The original idea had been loosely based on a 'Hollow Earth' style pocket realm (think Land of the Lost,) with the eventual  goal for the party to try to close the link between the realms. After exploring and looting a bit would they would find out that to close the pocket realm (and avert major home realm disaster) they would have to gather and replace all the 'treasures' looted from the pocket realm before they could fix the break between the realms.
        All of these changes came about from the question, "You aren't going to kill my dog, are you?" -- Now known in my family and local gaming community as 'The Woof Moment.'

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Unvented Hungarian Loom (Part 1)

Well credit where it is due.
       First, the term "unvented" is from Elizabeth   Zimmermann who originally used it to describe 'coming up with a way to do something that is new to you, but you are sure has been done before.' It has also been used to descibe 'recovering lost technology or techniques,' which is how I'm using it now.
       Second, the book "Weaving is for Anyone" that I purchased at a thrift store. This book had an illustration  and listing for a Hungarian  Loom. It was descibed as portable, and able to make long bands. And "...The loom is a simple one, just a board with a bar at the end making a T shape, and nails on three sides. The directions for it's use are easy to follow, but lengthy, and space does not permit including them."

       This intrigued me, and the design looked easy to build, so...

...I began building. I took a short length of Alaskan Birch, and re-attached the cut end at the ninety degree angle to make the T shape. This is then re-inforced  with four small angle brackets. 
   But, somewhere  along the way, I misplaced  the  book. So, working  from a mis-remembered version of the illustration, I came up with this variant.

    The hooks hold up to three heddle bars, warp streached from the pin ends into the holes through the tee, and then tie back across the warp bar. The weaving can be advanced to the pins as they are bent back to hold the  new working warp area.  But this is nothing like the original illustration.
    So, now I have another 'new' loom, but not one in the Hungarian  design. Nor am I sure even how that design is supposed to work.
     A friend and I puzzled over the idea of the design, and came up with a few variations. However, they are variations on warp tension and advanacment, not the actual  weaving  technique. 
      So, as this project continues I will be building and weaving on at least a couple more 'unvented' looms. But for now, I have a test weaving to do on this one...

    So, a day later, and after testing.... a couple of notes. First, there is no need for the multiple small holes in the tee... a single large or two large holes would be fine.  Second,  weaving needles, not heddles, works just fine. Third, the hooks hold a bar to keep the working area above the backboard. 
     The weaving is weft faced, and does move (advance) as expected. So, this is kind of an anti-inkle loom. Overall, not as expected, but a successful  experiment.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Introducing 'Whit Worth' a recycled material loom.

I was inspired by an article (okay two articles, really) in Handwoven  Magazine   [March/April 2015] about Sakiori Weaving. What inspired me wasn't the suggested projects (although the silk scarf does look fun) but rather the historical background.

The thing that really stuck in my imagination, was the size of the average household loom. The idea that an eight to twelve inch wide warp, and weaving small pieces that are patchworked together made me question myself. Specifically, "Why not try it?"

Now, I should add in that recycling is fairly big up here, so much so that our local 'transfer sites' ( landfill drop off points) have a reusable item station - a platform for people to trade / recycle / reuse items with life left to them.  There are always T-Shirts there, so I figured that it could be a starting project for either my Tapestry pin loom, or my Cheater's Loom (the Salish's name... yep, we name lots of our stuff.)

But I didn't just find T-Shirts. I found some dowels from a shelf decoration, and a child's wooden puzzle, and even some cup hooks. In my mind, it was an unassembled Tapestry Style Lap Loom, just waiting to be discovered. I immediately thought "Well, I'm using recycled  materials, why not a recycled loom as well?"

So after a bit of trimming on the cup hooks, curing out the puzzle backing, and assembly/sanding... it was ready to try.

It worked, but it also felt a bit too lightweight. It flexed a bit much, especially when advancing the warp. After a couple of pieces  I was beginning to worry that I might break the loom while using it.

I decided that I should either reinforced the frame somehow, or find a way to make advancing the warp easier. I also wanted to stay with using all recycled materials.

A couple days later I found a discarded small piece of PVC piping. It was long enough to trim two pieces, one for each end of the loom. Then, by cutting open the side of each piece, I was able to pry it open and slide it on to the wood frame in such a way as it pinches the frame with the cut end. This make either end of the frame have a rounded smooth edge that advances the warp easily, and divides the pressure across the frame more evenly.

So now the loom works beautifully, and makes small strips that can be assembled into larger items. So, as I mentioned, lots of our items areally named... (sometimes puns, or obscure refrences) and this loom is no exception. Thus, it is named 'Whit Worth' as in a whit- the smallest part, and thus it is Worth every penny I didn't spend (recycled) to get this loom that makes the smallest parts of projects.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Building Looms, Beating an old Path.

      A few years  ago  my wonderful  wife  bought me anow Ashford rigid heddle  loom  for Christmas. At the time, I  made one scarf, and wasn'the very happy  with  the  resuly. I followed  the suggested length and width, and felt like the resulting scarf was just a bit small. (And that was before it got accidentally  run through the laundry  and felted.)
     I decided to give it another go, and decided that I should 'fix' some of  the bits I could. Like doubling the width to near the max for that 12" loom. And trying  a pattern, rather than just seeing how a verrigated  yarn would pool. And as to  length... well Tom Baker was my first Doctor, so I put as much yarn into the warp as this loom could hold.
    As the loom is portable  I took it all over town, to coffee shops, the library, and  anywhere else that I  planned to waitvarround. The result was a lovely 11' 2" houndstooth  scarf, and a nickname for the loom of "Traveller." It also resulted  in  my realization that I really enjoyed weaving.
      So,  I decided to try a different style of weaving... and bought a secondhand tapestry loom.  I found that it is a bit easier to warp, as it is a much simpler loom-basically a 4 (or 6) foot pin style loom. But it was also a bit fiddly keeping the tension uniform and I did not like the rug  yarn that came with it. So, it had just sat idle since I abandoned and removed the first attempted rug.
      I went back to Traveller for a few more projects, then it occurred to me that while most commercial looms are out of my price range, I do have some woodworking  skills.  And several widely different looms are relatively  simple in design... so why not try building a few? After all, I build and use and sell spindles, so this is a logical progression, right?
   The jump start to this was finding a crib that was on it's way to the landfill, that had massive rounded to rails in the short sides. It took me only a moment's flash of inspiration to remember the look of a Salish style  loom... and an evening's  work while watching a DVD (I am so far behind in Game of Thrones) to disassemble  and rebuild the crib into a loom. It is roughly a cross between a Navajo and a Salish loom,  and built for indoor use, so a bit smaller and with legs that will soon have feet. With an old ash broom handle  for the crossbar.

By putting the rounded ends outward top and bottom, the warp can be rolled around the loom giving a working area of almost 8 feet long. With the working width of almost 4 feet, this should be plenty of warp to make either rugs, small blankets, or even core fabric for garments.
      And again, it was fun to build. So it has started me on a path of building some looms. I expect most will be of the more 'primative' designs, as my engineering skills are more geared to design than manufacture.  I'm not sure where this will lead, or how many I will build, but 'twill be an adventure.
      Since this one is built from a crib, and to 'crib' something  is to cheat by copying my wife  came up with this one's name. It is now known  in our household  as the 'Cheater's  Loom.'

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Building My Character Sheet... IRL.


   I have started a journey, questing for a better me. Thanks to the blogs at Nerd Fitness and the support tools of Spark People I have re-started my quest for fitness. This started with the Walk to Mordor, which I blogged about earlier.
   Following their advice, I am combining my Nerdiness (and the addictive traits therein) into the journey... Nay, into a Quest! A quest for improving myself, thus to use the Nerd Fitness term, to 'Level Up My Life.' But, other than throwing around memes and terms, what does that actually mean?
   Having read through a lot of the Nerd Fitness blogs, I like the interactive terms/ideas they use. But, I also like the tools and individual group supports on Sparkpeople. So I've decided to build my own variation, using both. Being an old School DM, this fits into my particular nerdiness quite well. So how to start?
    So, if I am the main character... the Hero of my own story, instead of thinking like a DM and quest building, I need to step back and build my Character Sheet. I already have an over-aching quest in my Walk, so what is this character of me to be thrust into adventure? Nerd Fiteness did a nice blog on What is your Profession (or Character Class depending on your Role Playing System,) and talk a small bit about racial traits to class skills as well... so my character sheet will be based primarily on that blog. Why re-invent the wheel? So let's begin...

     I think of myself as a Dwarf. At 5'10" and 315lbs at my heaviest the body shape is close. I have always been barrel chested, and can fairly easily build muscle mass. And thus Warrior seems the obvious choice, the big battle hardened tank, right?
      Not exactly. While I do like the Imposing look I had when in High School I played Football, and was into weightlifting... but it wasn't when I felt my best. That would be reserved for the combined time of Wrestling, Weights, and Martial Arts... keeping myself to a very stout 168lbs. This was essentially 'cross-training' back in the 80's, before the phrase became popular in the 90's. The character class (profession) that fits the best, I think, is Ranger with it's adaptability and endurance combined with practical strength training.
     So, I have a Race, and a Class... what else? Well, how do you build (or fill in) a character sheet? There are basic stats, relevant skills, useful items, back-story ideas (motivations) and lay out the sheet for future goals. The sheet then becomes a reference guide to help you toward those goals.
    What let's look at this in reverse- what are my goals, and then which stats or skills do I need to build my sheet around? Well, I want to loose weight. I want to not be winded as easily. I want to build up my strength. And I want to get better at my swordplay skills. My stats and skills should reflect those goals, the difficulty lies in finding a way to define them.
    Weight is the most obvious- my current weight measurement. I have taken to weekly weigh-ins and the Sparkpeople tools to track my progress. So that one is okay for now. I might add in body measurements later (waistline, stomach, upper lower arms and legs, etc) for a more accurate picture.
    My old weightlifting in high school gives me the background to fill in the Strength stat- find my weightlifting reps limits, and slowly increase them... the old school lifter's pyramid. This gives a tangible set of stats for record keeping.
    Endurance? I started my quest in January with the 'Walk to Mordor' and have been tracking my distances. My daily distances vary pretty wildly due to everything from RL obligations to health or the weather. I made it first my goal to just go out some every day. So far consistency has payed off... by not missing a day in over a month, it is becoming habit forming (or Hobbit forming as a friend quipped.) and even though my days length of walk varies widely, the weekly totals have been on the steady increase. I think that daily average distance over a weeks time would be one good stat for this one, but I also need to add in Cardio time till winded, as that is one of the primary goals.
    Lastly, the hardest one to define- Swordplay. This skill is tied into my personal Nerd-isms. I have been tied to epic fantasy since early childhood- I literally learned to read on 'the Hobbit,' and have been involved in fantasy role-playing since the late 70's. In more recent time, I have taken up LARPing, and have thus enjoyed fun 'mock' swordplay.
     However, as my weight increased, and my activity levels decreased, I moved more to Archery, and hiding behind my chainmail. That Armor is now part of my endurance training as I wear it for my late night walks with weather permitting (my cutoff is no chainmail in the rain, or below -20F.) My chainmail is over-sized, and much heavier than need be, 1/2 sleeve, covers to the thigh, and weighs in at 90lbs.
     Also, I say swordplay, but I mean a variety of weapons. Maybe I should divide the stats up and list time practiced? Single short; single long; florentine (matched shorts or long dual wielding); sword and board; axe; axe and shield, polearm; and maybe even flail? what about special skills, like missile block (weapon or shield?)
   In short, my Quest (plan) needs work, but I am working on it in true gamer style- by hitting side quests while marching toward Mt Doom.... and filling in the skills as I level into how they should work- then stretching them into working for me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Walk to Mordor... my work to a Ren Fit new year.

Since 2001, Christmas Season in our home has included the then current Lord of the Rings  movies. This year with the final Hobbit movie at the theater, we were able to watch all six films in order over the Christmas-New Years season. And this new year, I restarted my fitness tracking with the Sparkpeople Website, after all when I used it consistently before I had lost weight.

However, I got bored of the site, and it fell by the wayside. This time, I'm trying to tie my nerd obsessions into the plan to keep my interest. My wife heard this idea and serendipitously found an exercise mention of Walking with Frodo, that led to chasing links and finding the Nerd Fitness Website.

Thanks to the wonderful blog post by Steve (of said Nerd Fitness) Into Mordor , I have begun the walk this year. I'm off to a slow start (the Hobbits in the books did 18 miles the first day, and I did just short of 1,) but I am hoping to make it a consistent increase in my exercise and endurance.

Unlike the Nerd Fitness blog suggests, I'll be using heavier shoes. And due to my particular nerdiness, I plan to wear at least partial garb (Renaissance /Medieval Clothes to the norms reading.) So for now, in the cold weather the heavy wool cloak just feels right.

I am a member of the local Amtgard,  which is a Medieval/Ren/Fantasy Battle Sport & Live Action Role Play (LARP) group. But due to conflicting schedules I haven't been able to regularly attend for years. Even when I have been able to go, I primarily play a Archery based support type fighter... not the quick 'Stick Jock' swordsman.

I also should mention the chainmail I built a few years ago. My chainmail is overly thick guage, made from reclaimed materials (mainly old furniture springs) which translates to a 90lb 3/4 Hauberk that drops to almost my knees. So when I can make it to Battlegames I'll wear the armor, and on the walks I'll add at least the 1 lb gloves. Recently I've taken to grocery shopping with bags under the cloak, but if just walking for the walks sake, I'll wear the armor then too.

So I will be incorporating Swordplay Exercises, and Weight Training, combined with the endurance and eventual speed training that should add into the fitness that will result in more effectiveness on the Larp Fields as well.  My wife also gave me a Sword Exercises both for swordplay and fitness DVD, so I'll be using the gloves to add weight to my sword movements- thus speeding up my LARPin (much lighter) swords. So as the hobbits had to learn swordplay along the route (beautifully displayed in the 2001 'Fellowship' Movie's extended version) my quest will include similar lessons.

I am planning that as I make different landmarks, I can blog about my quest in relation to the story. So, as another goal- I think I will re-read then as well. This should make for an interesting quest. As for now (8 miles in at posting), I've just had the last sights of Hobbiton from first slopes of the Green Hill Country. 

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet."
JRR Tolkien-The Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Game Developments - The 'Woof' Moment (Part 1)

I'm an old school table-top gamer, and most times the DM. I think that in gaming, world-building  is an art. But there are moments that change worlds. The Butterfly Effect can and does play havoc on all realms, real or otherwise. Let me tell you about one of these moments that has become infamous to my local gaming groups.

This particular event happened early with a new group. I was the DM, and the group consisted of three couples plus one. Myself, my wife, her boss, a rival fiber shop owner, her husband, and another couple. We only knew the last couple by a few brief meetings.

Now my style of world-building is based upon small to large, start with building a taste adventure. Then let the world grow around the players back stories, decisions, and off-handed comments. Expand the world as the game grows, throw out as many adventure hooks as I can and the world grows based on what the party does and does not try.

So, in this quick adventure, there was a trap room. It was an arena, based on the current MMA tv shows, the room had bench seating around a raised octagonal platform. The trap was that if two creatures entered, only one could get back off - two enter, one leaves. A pretty standard low level cheat trap- knock one player to death's door, drag them off and heal-or loose a low level character thus establishing that I will kill players to a new group. Either way as a DM I win, I either have a group that thinks and puzzles as well as hack and slash, or I've established that there is a real threat to the characters in the game.

However, the party didn't find the room early, but after leveling and spending some cash at town. And the kicker was that the Monk (Linnaya - played by my wife) had nothing to buy. So while everyone else was re-equiping, she decided to 'spend more than a war-dog to buy an ankle biter pampered pet.'

She then immediately fed the dog elegant meals (she said she had no use for the money) and then named the dog based on what it said... thus 'Woof,' became her pet. And followed her to the dungeon, and the trap room.

Now, in trap room the party is searching the abandoned arena stands, and the Rogue heads onto the arena floor. Linnaya called for Woof as she had found some meat jerky and was going to 'treat' it to the pup, this caused the dog to walk into the arena with the level 2 Rogue. It should be noted that the Rogue is being played by the wife of the couple we had only met in  passing.

The Arena lights up, with obvious magical fields of energy surrounding the arena.  Panic ensues, and the party figures out quickly that the Rogue can't get off the platform. Thinking she might trick the arena, she grabs the dog, and tries to take it off the platform at once. The magic shocked both of them for a whole 1 point of damage, and bounced them back. The dog did not like this, and bit the Rogue for another 2 points of damage.

So now the Rogue starts asking the other players for ideas. The Dwarven Fighter kept in character with the advice "Obviously, you kill it. Then you've won." This spurred my wife back into character with the startled whine " You're not going to kill my dog are you?"

So now my wife kept to character, and the Rogue player who didn't know if she was 'in character' or actually going to be pissed if the NPC dog died, and carry that through for retribution, or worse in RL interactions.

Then someone suggested (I think it was the party Bard) "You know, you don't have to win."

So, after looking across the table to my wife (and my wife staying in character) and across to me (while I was having a hard time but managed to keep a straight-neutral face) the Rogue player finally decided that maybe discretion was the best option, dropped to the ground and yelled "I yield!"

This was too priceless a moment for me to let go, so I improvised a totally different ending, with magical fanfare and a blast of mystic energy swirling through both the Rogue and the dog, and set them both off the arena surface. Then taking the Rogue's sheet, I subtracted 3 permanent HP, a few skills, and 2 INT points- which I transferred to the NPC sheet of the dog. She was now a first level Rogue, and the Rogue lost the equivalent of a level without the benefit of loosing XP (leveling  at the XP requirement for 3rd to get back to 2nd, with the increase continuing for the rest of the character's life.)

But this had some unexpected world repercussions...               (Part 2 soon)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Game Developments - Rummy in reverse.

First post of the Year- Maybe I'll even be able to keep up this New Year.

I've enjoyed games all my life. to quote Shakespeare "The play's the thing." But most games wear out. There are only so many times that you can answer the same trivia questions. Most tactical games are decided by early moves (Australia in Risk is like the center square in Tic Tac Toe,) and even the strategy involved in traditional card games can get old.

Let's take Rummy for instance. I first played Rummy with my father as the follow up to Go Fish. I learned  Rummy wiki-rummy  as the variant where "rummy" was the word used to indicate that an opponent has made a mistake and discarded a playable card- and thus allowing the speaker to take the card from the discard and play it themselves.

It was a great kids game. But, I left it behind (or so I thought) as a late teen. There were bigger and better, more complex card games out there... but because it was a classic, and my wife and I both enjoyed it, it became our go-to travel game.

But alas, again it started to loose it's luster. We tried speed games, long term huge point games, and a few other variants. The first one that stuck and became our first go-to game, was the 100 point two player speed variant.

The basic scoring (numbers 5 pts, face cards 10 pts, Aces 15 pts - or 5 pts if used as 1's) and in this version the players scores count against one another. First player to a positive 100 score wins. This negated a scorecard (at the end of the round, I had 45 you had 70, so your up +25. Only one players score is all that carries forward) making for an easier travel game.

This worked for quite a while, and the scores quickly swing back and forth for a lively game, or slam closed in a runaway (yes it is possible to win in a single hand,) but again, it slowly faded. Then, my wonderful wife had a brainstorm- what if you flipped the game to change the tactics. So after some tinkering back and forth on rules for forcing your opponent to play or challenge (uno style) we came to our current rules for 'Reverse Rummy.'

2 Players
Object- to force your opponent to play to 100 positive score.
Both players starting hand is 10 cards.
Basic Rummy Play and scoring.
   Special Rules-
           Rummy- If a Card being discarded can play,  you may 'Rummy' forcing the discarding player to play the card for points and discard again.
           Forced Play- If a card in the discard becomes playable, you may direct the next player to take and play it instead of drawing. This only works if you force the move before the other player draws.
           Bluffing- As the other player cannot see you hand, bluffing is a part of the game design. However, it can get carried too far, so we added a challenge rule. Choosing to challenge forces the opponent to reveal their hand, and playable cards go into play and draws a single face down card that counts against the player at the end of the hand. However, there must be a risk for the challenger, so if no playable cards are revealed, then the challenger draws three cards face down that count against the challenger at the end of the hand. This also adds a bit of mystery as those cards could break expected runs, or groups especially during a long hand.
           Caught- At the end of the hand (once a player has gone out) the other player reveals their hand, any playable cards caught in hand count as twice their normal value against that player. This does not include cards that the player had no ability to play (last hand draw to pick up the pile.) but does include cards from the discard that make cards in hand work. This means if you are caught then you must pull the cards from the discard, but do not get the other cards to count against your score.