The following article originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in December 2005.

Yuletide Moosings on Presents

Paula Dempsey, alias Mystic Moo, has felt your presents.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. So let’s talk presents. I can read your mind, don’t forget, so don’t even think about that 4th edition of Bunnies and Burrows in a limited print run of only 5000 copies with an authentic fur cover and floppy ears, because that is so SAD and also lapinist and contrary to my mystical respect for nature (especially bunnies) so just DON’T DO IT!

Every year my postbag overflows with letters from you, my little seekers of wisdom. And what are these letters? Well not bloomin’ Christmas cards for a start. You lot only write when you want something and number one in the Moo mail this week is “What do I get my gran / girlfriend / bloke from my gaming group / nice girl from the Post Office who smiled at me when I bought a stamp last week? ”What’s the Moo to do? Well, I just consulted my spirit guide.

Some of you may be surprised that not all spirit guides are Native Americans or girly Victorian consumptives. And thank the Goddess for that. My mate Buttercup (two stalls down, the one with the windowbox) had one of those sickly ethereal types and we were hosing the ectoplasm off her salt lick for weeks. I am currently channelling the spirit of a sixties wallpaper designer turned pan-dimensional guru who wishes to be known only as Zed. His teachings contain important messages for the future of mankind which I eventually intend to publish in book form, but until they up the advance I’m not inclined to put hoof to typewriter. All the publisher’s fault if you don’t get to read Z’s prophecies in time to prepare yourself for what is to come. In the meantime, as someone’s had the decency to drop a couple of mince pies and a half bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream into my hay net, here’s Zed’s advice on stylish present options for your loved ones this Christmas.

Right, settle down, chew a bit of cud, concentrate… Zed tells me that people fall into distinct personality types, which he says makes things a bit easier. These are karmic and based on their last past life. Some of us are old souls who fall into a mythic type. These are elves, magicians and owls. More common are those who were kicked out of the afterlife PDQ and bounced back to the earthly realm to burn off their karma before they did any serious damage. These are goths, combat wombats and grans. You can tell what type your friend / significant other / bloke who gave you a Polo mint on the bus last week is by reading their aura. If your psychic ability is too weedy to cope with that small task, try Buttercup’s Bovine Aura Wheel, yours for only £30 plus postage from the usual address. Mooooooooooo…woah, lost it there for a bit. Wow. OK, here are Zed’s tips for successful present buying and my own tips for buying games by personality type.

Elves

Elves are characterised by their green aura, willowy appearance, long straight hair and long straight noses. There’s one other characteristic too, but we don’t talk about that on the cosmic telephone if we’re all going to get along. Elves are difficult to buy for as they get bored easily, so forget the battery-powered dancing snowman or novelty chocolate Santa. Instead, go for something with longevity. Oh, and shiny. Elves like shiny. In short, diamonds are an elf’s best friend. Jewellery fits the bill, obviously, but elves also appreciate glittery makeup and elf gamers would love a set of crystal dice. Just don’t buy earrings. Darn, I said it… Mystic Moo effortlessly plummets down the karmic ladder…

Ideal game: SkyRealms of Jorune, as it’s suitably arcane and you need to be around for a few centuries to sort the rules out.

Magicians

Their aura is purple and they have been there, done that and bought the demon a tee-shirt. You may sense a certain ennui from these souls that have been around for so long. Zed suggests that they will benefit from new experiences, so consider one of those vouchers for a novelty day out – ballooning, rally driving or visiting cows to take them sherry, for example.

Ideal game: Anything but Ars Magica. It’s hardly escapist for this mob.

Owls

The oldest souls of all, their aura is brown, the colour of nature and of the earth. They are small, rotund people with poor eyesight who frequently sport round spectacles. Owls appreciate books and value knowledge in all forms. As well as books, try anything which appeals to their love of nature. Gardening implements would go down well, as would binoculars, outdoor wear such as hiking boots and, most appreciated of all but terribly difficult to find, a nicely presented hamper of dead mice.

Ideal game: Big Eyes, Small Mouth. Owls like playing the baddies.

Goths

Plan to come back as Magicians, but they should be so lucky. Messy dabbling in the occult will do them no good whatsoever and the best they can hope for is speedy reincarnation as a bat. Buy these people big bunches of sunflowers, joke books, whoopee cushions, amusing horse-shaped cigarette dispensers. They’ll hate them, but it might lighten those auras from black to at least mucky grey for about two minutes. They’d probably have preferred the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe or Bauhaus’ Greatest Hits, but they already sold their grandmothers and bought those last week.

Ideal game: Star Children – Velvet Generation. They can live out those Bowie fantasies, preferably as far away from my field as possible.

Grans

Grans are wonderful people with a gentle lavender aura who appreciate the smallest gift if given with good intent. The more malicious and / or penny-pinching amongst you (or maybe girl gamers alert to the latest trends) could consider knitting a gran a jumper for Christmas. In my experience, shortbread, choccies, house plants or a mega crossword puzzle book go down well. More life-and-soul- of-the-party grans would appreciate a bottle of gin. Don’t forget that gran is a personality type. That gorgeous goth guy on the number 63 bus could be a gran deep down inside. Girlfriend, knit him a Dr Who style scarf and see what happens.

Ideal game: Buttercup recommends Secret Lives of the Gingerbread Men. Suggest you have plenty of Yorkshire Tea to hand whilst playing.

Combat Wombats

Oh Goddess, here we go. Combat Wombats are hugely over-represented amongst gamers. Historical re-enactors are almost exclusively CWs and all CWs share a distinctive khaki aura. Don’t believe for one second that they are reincarnated warriors. No enlightened soul would go through that again. They are more likely to have been put upon in a previous life – maybe servants in Victorian houses (cleaning up after consumptive future spirit guides, I daresay), refuse collectors or just plain timid. Indulge them with sets of miniatures or books on military history. Alternatively, give a teddy in combats from one of those make your own bear places. Come bed time, CW and his new furry friend will be snuggled up under the duvet dreaming of victories to come. By the way, not all Combat Wombats are men. Women CWs are in the minority, but unlikely to appreciate good perfume or jewellery. So save your money.

Ideal game: Anything spikey. Buttercup is a bit of a CW on the side and recommends Game of Thrones because if they if get bored playing it they can always beat the living daylights out of each other with the 500 page rulebook.

Zed has ceased communication for today, so, from one byre to another, enjoy your shopping and have a very merry Christmas, Yule, or whatever you celebrate.

Moo for now.

This article originally appeared on DyingEarth.com in November 2005.

Paula Dempsey, alias Mystic Moo, predicts your gaming future.

Whether Shoggoth, Cugel or Orc, we roleplayers are born under different stars to normal folk – discover you RPG star sign and learn your fate.

Although the sun shines outside, I confidently predict the return of Autumn. And how will the first horoscope of Summer affect your sign?

Orcs 21 March – 20 April
July marks a major transition point for Orcs. Having Mars as your ruling planet means your primary motivation is to hit things, hit them hard and make sure they don’t get up again. As the Sun moves into your fifth house you feel the need to take your urges outside, as it were, and hit things out of doors. A good month to take up pastimes such as cricket and baseball. Take care if driving, though.

Gurps 21 April – 21 May
Saturn moves into your eighth house on 19th July. As this is the part of your horoscope concerned with matters of money, sex and death I suggest you consider the following: Under no circumstances should you take your favourite D&D character adventuring on that day. Should you ignore this advice, I can personally guarantee that you will get at best a bloody nose and at worst your new character will have the stats of a one-legged weasel following Grumpo the Dwarf’s grisly demise at the claws of a big red dragon. Adding insult to injury, the rest of your gaming group will contrive to be in the little hobbit’s room when the delivery guy calls, leaving you to foot the bill for ten mega-sized pizzas. Best not to game that night. Or have sex…

Shoggoth 22 May – 21 June
As predicted in January, Shoggoths are having a rather subdued year. Your ruling planet, which is so damn freaky we astrologers haven’t actually named it yet, is lurking somewhere at the edge of the Milky Way and, quite frankly, it can stay there. Take time for introspection this month. Look at your life and how you can make it more fulfilling. Shoggoths can be their own worst enemies at times, especially those times when they menace other life forms and threaten the destruction of life as we know it. This doesn’t make you sympathetic characters. Think about how you could turn your life around; maybe take up voluntary work, get a puppy, that kind of thing.

Frodo 22 June – 22 July
Spring in the air! And Frodos do springing best. Comes of being only three feet high. Your excitable nature comes to the fore this month – you have big ideas for such a little dude. Mars in your second house has given you the impetus to get going, but Frodos tire easily and you could easily overdo it. Take particular care on the 14th, especially if using escalators. If not, you could end up with minor abrasions and having your feet shaved to get them out of the mechanism.

Werewolf 23 July – 22 August
Werewolves will be looking forward to the full moon on the 25th – which, as always, signifies a change for you. This month you are particularly concerned with career matters. It’s increasingly difficult getting to the office on time after a heavy night, and colleagues are starting to ask questions about the rabbit fur between your teeth. Buy floss and mouth wash or think about changing to night work in an isolated place out of doors. Werewolves have a unique selling point that security companies just love – once a month the German Shepherd gets a night off.

Cugel 23 August – 23 September
Venus enters your second house on 3rd July. This is the area of your sign concerned with material possessions and self-esteem. The two weeks it stays there is a great time to abandon your regular game of Traveller and go shopping instead. Visits to your local game store could yield some excellent bargains. If you really can’t bear to give up your regular gaming night, I suggest you play Dying Earth. Four hours where YOU are the hero – how can you resist?

Ninja 24 September – 23 October
Always sneaky, this month you become downright vicious. Dice are surreptitiously re-rolled and things go on behind that DM’s screen that would not be talked of in polite society. Towards the end of the month your gaming group will feel the need to retaliate, especially if you owe them for all that beer you drank. Use your heightened senses to look for traps such as cling-film on the loo seat or buckets of unpleasant substances balanced on doors. Or just say sorry and blame the stars.

Dork 24 October – 22 November
The moon has moved into your fourth house, which is where your karma lives. Dorks, bless them, are born with a great deal of bad karma and are destined to spend much of this earthly incarnation paying it back. This is why you have Duran Duran on your iPod instead of the White Stripes, work in cubicle hell and can never get a date on a Friday night. I would sympathise except that in your next life you’ll probably be wildly successful while I’ll come back as a cosmically aware one-legged weasel.

Vampire 23 November – 21 December
Poor you. As Summer beckons you want to go into a kind of reverse hibernation. It’s no surprise that you have travel on your mind this month. A long holiday in the Antarctic could be just what the witchdoctor ordered. On the upside, a long-term astrological trend for you between late March and early September lends a heightened sense of personal safety. Visualise your guardian angel, enveloped in silver light, reaching out to hold you in his protective aura. Of course, it could just be that long black cloaks show up better on light nights.

Ranger – 22 December – 20 January
You really are the dancing daffodil of the zodiac this month. Springtime sights and smells fill your senses and give you a new sense of well being. Your gaming patterns may become variable as you head out and about, eschewing five hours of D&D in favour of camping in the Cairngorms. Perhaps you could take your gaming group with you, they could probably do with an airing. Two things – remember to wrap up warmly and also playing knock down ginger on Vampires at 6:30am is VERY WRONG!!!

Traveller – 20 January – 19 February
Unusually for Travellers, you feel a strange urge to settle down this month. You’ve temporarily parked your Series 20 Starcruiser and are more mindful of roots than routes. You might move house or at least do some home improvements. Turning your attention to matters domestic buys brownie points with partners. Think ahead – a little wallpapering now could lead to a long and happy GenCon later.

Burrows 20 February – 20 March
Burrows like the summer. It’s warm enough to get out and do a spot of frolicking and it’s the mating season. For Burrows born in July now is the time to party like its 2099. However, Burrows have both gregarious and anxious tendencies, so it’s not all happy, happy, joy, joy. Those with July birthdays will probably be feeling a sense of impending doom. Especially, for some reason, those born in the 1960s. This is perfectly normal for your sign, and should pass once the cake arrives. If not, it won’t last past the sixth glass of chardonnay.

The following article appeared on DyingEarth.com in December 2004.

Paula Dempsey, alias Mystic Moo, predicts your gaming future.

Whether Shoggoth, Cugel or Orc, we roleplayers are born under different stars to normal folk – discover you RPG star sign and learn your fate.

Orcs 21 March – 20 April
Your pathetic attempt to convince the rest of your gaming group that you are the hard man of the zodiac falls flat this month as Mars, your ruling planet, enters the constellation of Throw Rug Major. Guess it will take more than rolling a critical on the dragon killing table and nabbing that last bit of pizza when no-one’s looking. Lucky gem dice color for this month: hot pink.

Gurps 21 April – 21 May
Your essentially mutable nature is especially active this month, and you may feel the need to experiment with different identities. This could involve dabbling with Vampire: The Masquerade but if you carry out the appropriate occult rituals (or just roll 3D6) you might be OK. Either way, avoid muskrats. Lucky gem dice color for this month: anything but black.

Shoggoth 22 May – 21 June
Don’t you think it’s about time you stopped being squamous and issuing vague and eldritch threats? Everyone’s well bored with you and you’re not going to get a date that way – let’s be honest, slime smells. Jupiter, bringer of jollity, enters your sign this month and gives you permission to lighten up. The stars are right for bowling or maybe inviting your friends round for tea and scones. Lucky gem dice color for this month: slime green, but sparkly slime green.

Frodo 22 June – 22 July
Having the Moon as your ruling planet can cause periods of vagueness and you spend much of this month searching for something. If you don’t know what it is, don’t ask me. What do you think I am, bleedin’ psychic? Wear furry slippers for extra luck on the 25th. Lucky gem dice color for this month: gold.

Werewolf 23 July – 22 August
You should be reassured that while the Moon does not appear in your horoscope this month, Mercury, the planet of intelligence and communication, does. This encourages you to be more outgoing. Why don’t you use your toothbrush, dog-breath, then call in to your local games store and buy something. That is, if you aren’t still barred for biting that tasty new assistant on your last visit. Lucky gem dice color for this month: tawny.

Cugel 23 August – 23 September [Dates edited to ensure that the Editor is a Cugel]
Well, aren’t you just the charmer of the zodiac? You’re a silver-tongued rogue at the best of times, but with Venus in your house of partnerships you’re unstoppable. Take care, though, or your flirtatious nature could lead to a nasty run in with a jealous rival on the 4th. Probably best to avoid sexually frustrated doxies, but consider giving your mobile number to any lonely astrologers. Lucky gem dice color for this month: what else but red, tiger?

Ninja 24 September – 23 October What are you doing here? That’s the trouble with you Ninjas, always hiding your light under a bushel. With Jupiter entering your sign this month, you need to be big bold and brash. So drop the little black number and go for stilettos and lamé. Beware of rival clans on the 12th, a sharpened kitten heel can do a lot of damage to your new hairdo. Lucky gem dice colour for this month: be proud, be loud, be bold, go gold!

Vampire 24 October – 22 November
Halloween falls into your sign and you love all that spooky stuff, don’t you? Unfortunately Uranus, the planet of surprise and change, enters your sign this month and wreaks havoc. You feel the need to wear a Burberry check shell suit and skip your regular goth club night in favour of taking your nan to bingo. Lucky gem dice color for this month: black, to remind you what you’re missing.

Dork 23 November – 21 December
Born in the depths of winter and with Saturn, the planet of discipline and restraint, in your house of public life it’s no wonder you don’t get out much. In fact, it’s just as well as everyone hates you. So indulge yourself this month. Buy a packet of Rich Tea from the Co-op on your way home from the laundrette on the 16th. Lucky gem dice color for this month: pale blue, then at least you’ll have one thing that looks cool.

Ranger – 22 December – 20 January
Yours is the sign of spiritual growth and deep intellect. Many rangers express themselves by wandering in wild countryside and indulging in rural pursuits such as hunting and not washing. This month is a good time to do that, but ensure that disruption caused by the Sun, that mischievous planet of vitality and personality, doesn’t cause you to go completely over the top. Consider eschewing blood sports in favor of more sedate activities. Maybe you could take an evening class in vegetarian cookery? And put that elf down… I said, put that ****in’ elf down… Lucky gem dice color for this month: green. You could use the camouflage.

Traveller – 20 January – 19 February
Neptune brings the gift of intuition and fantasy into your sign this month. Time to visualize what you want and use the power of positive thinking to make it yours. Your imagination is so keen on the 17th that you are able to design a whole new set of deck plans for a Starcruiser Series 20 without breaking into a sweat. And your intuition is strong enough for you to know exactly when to accidentally on purpose drop your dice on the floor and have another go. Lucky gem dice color for this month: cosmic purple.

Cthulhu 20 February – 20 March
You think the stars are right? Oh no, this is bad. This is very bad. OK, don’t go out, don’t even attempt to surface from the deep and please, please don’t listen to any rituals, even if they are elegantly worded by erudite chaos wizards. Most importantly, stay away from me and my hamster. I mean it… Lucky gem dice color for this month: that yellow one in the corner has an elder sign on it. Suggest you pick it up.