Parenthood Blog: Nihil Legacy – Part 2

The next time I played the Nihil’s life (and apartment) was still a mess. But Krista woke up in a better mood. She felt less ill than she had at the start of her pregnancy and I caught er autonomously dancing to the stereo while Tre was out busking.

She was eating breakfast when she started to feel like she needed a nap, unfortunately there was a lot of shouting going on in the street outside and it seemed to be some kind of protest. Krista went out to speak to them: to explain that she was pregnant and tired, and to ask how long they would be there for because she needed to get some sleep. The protesters were nice enough, they tried to explain what they were campaigning for, but Krista didn’t really understand and just wanted to finish her breakfast and have a nap.

Tre had been busking all day, people were friendly and interested in his music, but for some reason they didn’t tip much. That is until Nancy Landgraab turned up dressed as a tourist and tipped him about five times in a row! He made over $100! Thanks Nancy!

(I have a technique now to hijack the busking stations. I have Tre talk to the Sim who is using it, then click the ground a distance away from them to use the ‘chat here’ interaction. This makes the original busker leave the station and I cancel the interaction and have Tre run back and use it himself. Clara Bjergsen’s expression after Tre did it to her was amusing. Tee hee hee!)

The next day Krista woke up feeling desperate for the bathroom, apparently the baby was using her bladder as a football. They grabbed leftovers for breakfast and sat down to figure out how they’d pay their bills. No one would hire a heavily pregnant girl with no skills or experience, would they? Anyway, Krista was too tired all the time to work too hard. Tre thought his guitar skills were improving an he was even starting to sing a bit, he was sure his big break would come soon!

‘That’s great!’ Krista enthused.

…and then the lights went out.

They hadn’t been in the apartment long enough to have received any bills. So it wasn’t like they’d missed an electricity payment and had their service cut off. So… Krista rang the landlord. It turned out there was a problem with the fuse box and he sorted it out. He was friendly enough and even hung round to watch a bit of telly with Krista. Until she got sick again and he left quickly. She thought it was morning sickness at first but it turned out she had some kind of bug.

Krista and Tre really were in a sorry state! I’m genuinely worried about how they will pay their bills and if they’ll get kicked out of their apartment. They might end up living in a tent! Not good when you have a baby on the way. And I don’t think the apartment is a healthy environment with all the damp and problems. Krista seems ill all the time. I hope I can help them turn things around!

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Parenthood Blog: Nihil Legacy

The recent additions to The Sims 4 have been making me want to try a legacy style game again. I normally play with ageing off in a rotation, and I’m not very good at sticking to one family for long, but we’ll see how it goes.

So I had to make my founders. I didn’t want to start off easy with some quaint suburban house and a loving couple with perfect parenting skills. So I came up with Krista and Tre, a young couple barely out of their teens who are madly in love with one another! They are completely alone in the world, with no support from their families. They had a bad start in life and didn’t do well in school so they have no skills, and no plan for the future. They are both ‘childish’ because I wanted them to be kind of emotionally immature. For their clothing style I went for a teen-like casual look, sort of somewhere between ‘skater’ and ‘grunge’. Krista is lazy and Tre is a slob and I wanted their clothing to reflect their carefree approach to life.

I decorated their apartment like a messy teen’s bedroom. Imagining they brought all their bedroom furniture from their old house because they couldn’t afford anything new. I figured they would have picked some stuff up at the flea market too, like the portable shower from Outdoor Retreat as their apartment only had a toilet and sink.

The apartment is badly maintained, with cracked walls, damp and leaky plumbing. But they don’t care because they’re just so excited to get their own place! They have a naivety about what adult life entails and have a happy-go-lucky attitude. Krista tries to make the apartment look nicer by decorating it with flowers, posters and twinkly fairy lights.

Krista and Tre are soulmates and they can’t keep their hands off each other! They’re constantly flirting and touching, and they are taking advantage of having their own place by woohooing all the time!

So it wasn’t surprising that this carefree romantic pair had a little… surprise of their own! Krista had been feeling a little bloated and sick, so she took a pregnancy test and it was positive! She made breakfast, thinking that she’d need to improve her cooking skill if she was going to be a mummy, and took it out onto the balcony to wait for Tre to wake up and join her. This apartment is my favourite and I always choose it because of the balcony! When she revealed the big news to Tre he was super excited! He promised he would find a way to make money and would go out into the city that very day to look for work. Krista felt ill after eating the eggs and Tre went to give her a hug. Then… they ended up in bed again. XD

After a quick nap Tre woke up feeling ready to do the ‘man-thing’ and provide for his family. He went out into the city to try and figure out how to find an income. There was a guy busking… and a Sim covered in gold acting like a statue… tourists seemed to be tipping them quite a lot of money. Hey, maybe he could do that! He had his old guitar, sure it needed tuning and he had only ever played ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ on it but maybe he just hadn’t discovered his inner rock star yet?

Krista woke up and followed Tre out into the city wilderness. She met another pregnant lady who was really friendly. Krista asked her when her baby was due and announced (a little too excitedly) that she was pregnant too! Maybe the lady could tell she needed advice because she gave her lots of tips and said they should meet up at the coffee shop one day. After a quick emergency trip to the public restroom (she was never doing THAT again!) Krista noticed that there was lots of boxes of junk left abandoned all over the streets, maybe left behind from a festival or something? Well… beggars couldn’t be choosers! She rummaged around and picked up anything that was salvageable: a snow globe, a mixology guide and some bubble mix (well… she does have the childish trait after all!). She also grabbed some cool looking posters to disguise the cracks on the apartment walls.

When they got back home Krista asked Tre if he’d had made any money. He said no, but he had lots of ideas. He didn’t seem concerned but Krista was starting to feel a little nervous. In fact, she constantly feels tired and uncomfortable already because of the pregnancy and she’s getting a bit worried about the situation. I feel so bad for her! XD

And even though she has the ‘lazy’ trait, she was first up the next day and autonomously scrubbed the toilet. She got really tired doing it though, and had to go and have another nap. Poor thing! And she even got back up and was eating breakfast while Tre was still snoozing in bed. She looked so annoyed with him! I think she’s suffering a bit with the pregnancy and is worrying about money, and I feel so protective over her now. And Tre is just so laid-back and unconcerned about everything, I feel bad for him too because he is oblivious to all the problems and doesn’t realise how frustrated Krista is feeling right now. He just thinks everything will turn out ok. I’m looking forward to playing with these two some more!

And if you want to play along, Krista and Tre are available on the gallery along with their apartment. Search for the #Nihil hashtag. (‘Nihil’ means ‘nothing’ btw… because people might look at this young couple who are just so hopeless and call them ‘losers’, and people like this who are struggling are often overlooked or invisible to society. But I want them to really try hard in their own little way and maybe the next generations might be ‘something’. There’s a Shakespeare quote I like which goes ‘Nothing will come of nothing’ and I’m hoping the Nihil’s will prove that saying wrong.)

The Dixon-Phillips Family: Arranged Date

Astor Dixon was pleased with her current situation. Her husband was making steady progress in his political career and impressing all the right people. Her interfering mother-in-law was distracted by various societies and charity organisations that she had taken upon herself to crusade with. And her eldest daughter Anastasia was doing very well in school, her piano skills were becoming particularly impressive with all the extra tuition she had invested in!

However, her youngest daughter, Claudia, was still disinterested in her studies and seemed more interested in joking around with her new friend than achieving the grades that were required to stay on at her private school. Astor had recently had to deal with a stern phone call from the headmaster about Claudia’s commitment to her education, and Astor had been forced to drop subtle hints about her interest in funding a school trip to France. At this rate the family would have to pay for a whole new wing just to ensure Claudia’s place at the school was assured!

The next morning, a family meeting was called. In tense whispers Astor discussed Claudia’s future with her husband and mother-in-law. ‘We all know Anastasia will be fine. We know all the leading universities are scrambling to offer her places, and she will have a choice of excellent careers. She will be able to support both herself and the family interests. However, I am concerned for Claudia’s future. She is already draining our finances with her propensity for trouble! And her behaviour reflects badly on the family image. If Antony is to be successful in his political career, we cannot have a bad apple causing scandals! There is only so much our media friends can smooth over.’

Anastasia walked in at this point, uncomfortable with the situation. She stood quietly in the corner waiting for the usual family drama to be over.

Astor glanced at the stairs to see if her younger daughter was also descending. Satisfied she was not within earshot, she leaned forward and hissed, ‘We need to ensure Claudia’s future. If she cannot make the right choices, we must make sure she associates with people who will keep her on the right path. I do not like this boy she has befriended, the son of an ageing rock star no less! He is sure to cause trouble!’

Her mother-in-law stirred her cup of tea slowly, one perfectly arched eyebrow raised. ‘Son of an ageing rock star? Seems a perfect match for the daughter of an ex actress,’ she shot a sharp look at Astor.

Antony scrambled to clear the tension, dropping his teaspoon which the butler swiftly caught and returned to his saucer. ‘Now, now, mother. You know that Astor is right, we cannot have Claudia destroy all that you have worked for.’

Felicity added another lump of sugar to her tea and continued stirring.

‘Indeed,’ Astor continued, basking in the moment her husband had taken her side for once against his mother. ‘Two things Claudia does have going for her are her charming conversation and her beauty. Now, if we can just find her a good husband who can keep her in check, then she will be quite comfortable.’

‘Well, it worked for you dear,’ Felicity interjected with a triumphant smile.

Just then, Claudia stomped down the stairs, aware that most family meetings were orchestrated around her behaviour. The mood in the room was already bitter, so she knew her mother and grandmother already had their claws out!

‘Claudia,’ her mother said sharply, ‘I have arranged for you to have a meal at an exclusive restaurant in San Myshuno! The rich and famous have been clamouring for a place on the waiting list, but your wonderful father has used his contacts to skip the queue!’

‘Just me?’ Claudia asked in confusion.

‘Yes, well you see, it is a new establishment, and the owner wants to promote a certain image. He wanted a young couple of the right sort to have a date there, to promote it as a suitable place that can be hired out for proms and sweet sixteen parties, and that sort of thing.’

Claudia sank into the chair, she had a sinking feeling about this, ‘A couple, mother?’

‘Well, I know you don’t have a boyfriend yet..’

‘You don’t do you?’ Antony interrupted sharply and Claudia shook her head in mortification.

Astor continued, ‘…so I took the liberty of finding a suitable date for you! A lovely young man, Malcolm Landgraab! He’s from a very good family, his mother is the famous businesswoman, and his father is a celebrated doctor!’

From behind her hand, Claudia mumbled, ‘When?’

‘This evening. So you’ll have the chance to wear that sparkly vintage dress your grandmother bought you!’

‘This evening!? But I have to go to the art gallery with Felix! It’s for an essay and you are always telling me I need to work harder at school. How am I meant to improve my grades if you don’t let me do my assignments!?’

Antony made a noise a bit like a flatulent elephant, ‘Prrrph! It’s only art, Claude, just write about colours and light and drop a few mentions of Picasso and you’ll get an A!’

‘There’s more to it than that, Dad,’ Anastasia interjected on behalf of her sister.

Knowing that there was no use arguing about it, Claudia agreed and disappeared upstairs to get ready. She had learned that there was little point resisting her family’s demands, instead she had found a way of drawing her own amusement out of these things by subtly undermining all their efforts. If they wouldn’t let her make her own plans, then she would at least enjoy disrupting theirs!

Her sister, however, was uncharacteristically annoyed.

‘Mother!’ she hissed as soon as Claudia was out of earshot, ‘You’ve gone too far! It’s one thing planning out our careers and our social lives, but you cannot tell Claudia who she can and cannot have a relationship with!’

‘Oh, calm down,’ Astor smiled reassuringly, ‘I’m not asking her to marry the boy. You know Claudia is not the best at judging a person’s character. I’m simply putting suitable choices in front of her, and she can decide for herself which one she likes!’

Felix arrived as Claudia was getting ready, and Felicity manoeuvred to intercept him before any of the others could send him packing!

‘Hello dear,’ she said with a twinkle in her eye, ‘I’m afraid your friend had landed herself in trouble again.’

‘I promise I had nothing to do with it,’ Felix laughed, ‘and if I did then it was all Claudia’s fault!’

‘Oh, I can believe that!’ Felicity smiled affectionately. ‘Look, I’m afraid you will have to postpone your trip to the gallery. My daughter-in-law has had one of her ridiculous ideas again and Claudia is the unwilling victim.’

‘Uh oh, should I attempt a daring rescue?’ Felix suggested helpfully.

Felicity gave him a mischievous wink in reply.

Claudia appeared then, looking stunning in her vintage dress. She told Felix the whole story (with a few dramatic embellishments).

Felix played along, gasping and feigning utter shock like he was in the audience of a salacious chat show. He was amused to hear about Felicity’s catty remarks towards her daughter-in-law.

‘And the worst thing is…’ Claudia continued, ‘…he’s bound to be an awful bore! I can’t imagine what we’ll have to talk about.’

Did you say Malcolm Landgraab?’ Felix grinned, ‘You could ask him about his girlfriend!’

‘What!?’ Claudia laughed.

‘Yeah,’ Felix continued, ‘He’s dating a friend of my sister.’

‘My mother should have done her research better!’ Claudia joked, ‘How am I meant to seduce him now!?’

Felix winced at the thought, ‘Do you need me to come and rescue you?’

‘I think I’ll be ok. But I’ll text you if he starts to talk about chess club and things get scary!’

So this was how Claudia found herself at The Black Rock restaurant in San Myshuno with Malcolm Landgraab. She wasn’t too keen on making small talk so she jumped onto the karaoke while they waited for their table. She had to be better than Geoffrey right? (Why had Malcolm brought his dad with him anyway?)

As Claudia was being shown to her table by the hostess she suddenly found herself surrounded by a group of business people. They seemed keen to talk about politics to her, asking questions about her father’s charity that she had no clue how to answer! Geoffrey skillfully extracted her from the crowd and she hurried over to her table thankfully, thinking maybe it wasn’t a bad idea to have him there as a chaperone after all!

Claudia gazed down at the clusters of light that called to her from the streets of San Myshuno. She wished she was down there right then, exploring the Arts Quarter with Felix.

Malcolm wandered over, he seemed distracted and kept anxiously tapping away at his phone.

‘Is that your girlfriend, Kyra?’ Claudia asked, watching his reaction in amusement.

He jerked his head up and looked a bit sheepish, ‘Umm, yeah. Sorry. Uh…’

He sat down putting his phone away with a guilty expression and Claudia felt a little bad for him.

‘It’s ok,’ she smirked, ‘I was forced here against my will too.’

His tense shoulders seemed to relax a little then. ‘It’s my mother,’ he confessed, ‘She doesn’t like my girlfriend, she thinks she’s not… good enough for me.’

‘You mean rich enough?’ Claudia corrected.

‘I guess,’ Malcolm looked sheepish again. ‘Kyra’s really sweet. And funny. She makes me happy but my mother doesn’t understand that. Father does, but he can’t stand up to her.’

After that, the ‘date’ went a little easier. Claudia and Malcolm had found their common ground and spent the evening complaining about their parents and swapping embarrassing stories. Claudia was never going to marry a man like Malcolm! But it was good to know she could find people she could relate to in the circles she would be forced to move in as she got older.

TS4 Blog: Sanguine in the City

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I finally decided to grab the bull by the horns (or should that be bite the bull by the neck?) and give the old bat-brains a whirl. I guess TS2 Nightlife and TS3 Late Night have pre-programmed my brain to think that a city is a good place for vampires to hang out. I mean, it makes sense right? You get to hang out late at night in clubs and bars and there are so many people it’s practically an all you can eat!

So I created Amadeus Rose. He’s a newly created vampire so he’s still learning the ropes. As a human he was a bit of a geek to be honest: kind of skinny and more interested in shutting himself into his bedroom and listening to old rock music (you know… if there was a rock music radio station in TS4). I guess he felt like he never really fit in at school because he’d arrived in San Myshuno as a kid, a refugee from Transimvania, and he’d never fully lost the accent.

He’d lived with his aunt in her tiny (but well maintained) apartment throughout his teenage years. She often looked at him with a wistful expression, sighing and hoping he was a ‘late bloomer’ (whatever that means). She had been a nurse, and often worked the night shift for extra money, and slept nearly all day. She’d never had much time to spend with him and he’d learned to take care of himself: he knew his way around that kitchen better than she did!

Then one day she didn’t come home from work. They told him it was a violent patient who had attacked her. A mentally unstable guy with some kind of paranoid hallucinations. He got away. And they couldn’t find his aunt’s body. She’d last been seen stumbling from the hospital in the direction of the suspension bridge…

Amadeus became even more withdrawn and afraid of the outside world. He spent all his time in the apartment and absorbed himself in music. The small inheritance his aunt had left him had been just enough to buy a few instruments and keep on top of the rent. He told the social workers he was fine. He was technically an adult now so they left him alone.

He played more music.

He lost interest in food.

The money started to run out…

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It was at this point that his life changed.

First came the hunger again. But this was a different kind of hunger. A burning, aching hunger that seemed to come from his heart instead of his stomach. A hunger that normal food couldn’t satisfy.

Then he became stronger. At first he thought it was because he was becoming a man. His shoulders seemed wider, his muscles more pronounced.

Finally he got sick. If he went out in the day he felt like his skin was on fire! He looked in the mirror and his face was gaunt, his eyes dark and sunken. He was starving but he couldn’t keep anything down.

In a panic he searched through his aunt’s things for her notebook: it would surely have a number for her doctor in her list of contacts. His fingers brushed the pressed leather spine, but when he pulled the book free from the suitcase it was not her notebook but her journal.

Was it wrong to read it? He felt like it was but he couldn’t help but turn the thick yellowing pages. This was no ordinary diary. The first line addressed him directly:

Dearest Amadeus, if you are reading this then I am gone. There are many things I must tell you…

And then he discovered what he was.

The fangs were tricky. They would extend at any moment and he had little control over them. The mere thought of anything remotely exciting would have them shooting into his bottom lip or his tongue and he tasted his own blood more than anything else in those early days.

There are others like us. There are those that can help. But you MUST learn the basics first. You cannot meet them if you are unprepared.

Disguising what he had become was easy. Sure, he looked a little pale, but if he disguised his eyes with a pair of dark glasses he blended in with any other resident of the city who was suffering from one too many late nights.

The hardest part was the hunger. At first he was tortured by the thought of hurting anyone and bore the pain in his chest for a long time. But the journal warned him of the danger of leaving it too long:

You are young and can fight the hunger for a while. But it will get stronger and harder to bear. Eventually it will take over and you will lose control. You CANNOT let that happen.

Better to take a sip here, and a sip there. Gently so that people don’t even notice. No more harm than a love bite. Little and often. That was the way. Still Amadeus felt guilty. But he buried his emotions into his music, playing them over and over to free himself.

Over time he learned to control the symptoms. He could make himself look human again, lean, a little bit weedy, like he wouldn’t hurt a fly. But he needed to attract his food and he found that shifting into his stronger, darker form made him more confident. It was easier to seduce people that way. He had a string of girlfriends, they didn’t seem to mind their rock star boyfriend dating other women, and it was practical to have a number of food sources so as not to take too much from any one girl.

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Many men would have loved to trade places with him, but Amadeus wasn’t happy. This wasn’t the way he wanted to live his life, an unwilling slave of the hunger. He dreamed of a normal human life, finding his soulmate, and maybe even having kids (as if he could even dream of having kids and risk passing on his curse!). The constant feeling of gnawing guilty was almost as painful as the hunger and he would go for days without feeding, swapping one pain for another, until it became too dangerous and he would call one of the girls to try to quench his unquenchable thirst.

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One day he saw HER. Just a glimpse, a flash of red in the corner of his eye. He paused, the violin string suspended in mid-note, and moved closer to the thin sliver of light between the curtain and the wall. There she was again. Her hair blazing in the mid-day sun. He followed her, his black eye almost blinded by the glare, as she walked through the street below him and vanished from his gaze.

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It felt like an eternity for the sun to set that evening. For the first time in his life Amadeus was eager to get down to street level. So eager that he descended too early and his skin crackled in the last few remnants of sunset. He looked around for the girl, but she could not be found. Who was she? And where could she be?

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The Thompson Family: Snap Happy

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Gemma was so excited! It was the weekend and she was going to visit a park she’d never been to before! It had a SPACESHIP!!! She ran to find her big brother.

‘Karl! Karl! Are you coming to the park with me!?’

‘Of course!’ cried Karl dramatically, ‘I wouldn’t miss the chance to go… TO SPAAAAAAAAACE!’

Gemma made and excited squeal noise and hopped up and down, ‘TO SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!’

‘But first,’ Karl whispered conspiratorially, ‘I need to go and catch Dave and convince him to return to his home planet of Goobleflumblegorb.’

He actually just needed to go and have a shower, and he was going to meet Gemma at the park later. But Gemma grinned and nodded eagerly, and he went off to pretend to catch the monster under the bed.

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William had to go to the office that afternoon, but wanted to send some time with his daughter first. So he took Gemma to the park and agreed that Karl could come and take over alien impersonation activities when he was ready. Another boy was there with his little sister and William got chatting to him. He seemed nice and William thought he seemed like a good friend for Karl.

The two girls started playing naturally with each other. William felt pleased that there were other nice kids around for his children to play with. It was always difficult when children had to move house and start a new school.

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Karl arrived and his dad introduced him, ‘Hey Karl, this is Felix, he’s interested in photography too.’

‘You’re interested in photography?’ Felix asked him as he sat down.

Karl laughed nervously, a little embarrassed about his Dad’s pushy parenting. ‘Umm.. yeah. Well, I want to be an architect, so I sometimes photograph buildings and sculptures and things. It’s just a hobby.’

‘Hey, that’s really cool,’ enthused Felix, ‘I don’t have any kind of specialised subject, I just see things that I think are beautiful and want to capture them on film forever.’

‘You use film?’ Karl asked surprised.

Felix laughed self-consciously, ‘Well, not usually. I normally just use my digital. But I think old cameras are kind of cool, I have a couple that I found in antique shops and the flea market in San Myshuno, and I tinker around with them a bit. There’s something more… real about capturing an image on film than on a microchip, you know?’

‘Yeah, I get it,’ nodded Karl, ‘I like old buildings. It feels like people used to invest real money in old buildings in the past: sculptures, and carvings, and decoration. Now it feels like most modern buildings are done as cheaply as possible. Everything is laminated or veneered.’

Felix looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. ‘I have to admit I like the clean lines of modern buildings. The simplicity of them.’

‘I do too,’ insisted Karl, ‘my own style is quite clean and modern, but with the care and attention to detail of the past. Look…’

Karl thumbed through his photos on his phone and showed Felix some of his projects.

‘Hey, those are amazing!’ Felix enthused. ‘I’d love to live in one of those apartments! You know, there are some cool sculptures around Windenburg, maybe we could grab something to eat and I can show you around. Got your camera?’

‘I do!’ Karl called to his sister, ‘We’re going to go exploring!’

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They arrived at the restaurant but Felix had a phone-call and had to dash off, he apologised and said they should meet up again soon. Karl spent some time taking photos of the sculptures around the area, Felix was right, there was so much to photograph! There were boats too, Karl loved all things nautical and got some great pics of the sea at sunset. Gemma was happy exploring and throwing coins into the fountains.

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[I had waaaaaaaaay too much fun taking photos around Windenburg!]

It started to get late and Karl took Gemma for something to eat. These two are so sweet together! Karl joined Gemma in colouring in place mats and they designed fairy castles together while they waited for dinner. Afterwards, Karl couldn’t resist taking a few more shots of Windenburg at night before they headed home to bed.

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The Thompson Family: SHENANIGANS!!!

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William got up early. He had been up late, talking with his wife about her day at work. He was concerned by what she had told him and had been unable to sleep. He rolled out of bed, and tucked the covers around his wife’s gently snoring body to keep her warm. Slipping out of the room stealthily, he planned what he would make her for breakfast.

Willow usually cooked, so William had a bit of trouble finding everything he needed. He knocked over some pans and had to grab them to stop them clattering on the floor. ‘Shhhhhh,’ he whispered to the mottled cast iron skillet. It took him three tries to light the old stove, and had to keep an eye on the small blue flame to make sure it wasn’t going out.

Things were not going well. The eggs got stuck in the pan, and William could smell burning. OH NO!!! HE WAS ON FIRE!!! Panicking he grabbed the extinguisher (thank goodness he’d insisted on getting one!) and managed to put the fire out before the heat got through his clothes to his skin. Willow heard the noise and rushed to the kitchen to find her husband hopping around with water and burned egg flying everywhere!

[Me while playing: ‘No, no, no, no, no! Oh no! Put the fire out! Please don’t kill my Sim or I’ll be crying for a week!’]

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‘Oh no, William, are you ok!?’ Willow approached her husband gently.

‘I’m fine… just a little singed,’ William replied in relief, ‘I was trying to make you breakfast in bed, but I think the kitchen hates me.’

Willow laughed, ‘Oh you silly thing! Go and get in the shower and I’ll clean this mess up. But first… let me take a selfie.’

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William got cleaned up and ate the breakfast that… ummm… Willow made. The things his wife had told him had worried him: it was concerning that in such a small suburb that someone high up in the police force could be so corrupt! He knew he needed to investigate this.

He grabbed his notepad and made his way to the police station. He was concerned that he might get his wife into trouble, it wouldn’t look good if a police officer’s journalist husband was poking around at her workplace! So he was careful not to let on that Willow was his wife.

At first he tried to speak to the receptionist, but she was tough, and didn’t want to reveal anything about the case. He tried to ask her for her personal thoughts on corruption in the police force but this seemed to make her angry.

‘All I can confirm is that we arrested an elder female yesterday on charges of fraud, corruption, and attempting to bribe a police officer.’

William scribbled this down and took a seat in the waiting area. He wanted to observe the place for a while, but everything seemed normal.

[I sent William to the police station using Zerbu’s Travel to Special Lots mod]

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His colleague Gunther invited him to a book group in Windenburg and William thought it was a good opportunity to discuss the case with him. The coffee shop was full of intellectual Sims and William felt at home there. He chatted with some of the others about what they thought about the way the area was being run, and although nobody had any specific information, they all seemed distrustful of those in power.

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William was gazing thoughtfully out of the window, sipping a grande-single-shot-mocha-frappucchino-with-whipped-cream-no-sprinkles when he noticed a shifty looking character walking through the village square. He wasn’t sure what made him follow the man, maybe it was his journalistic instinct, but he watched him as he walked into a closed off area by the viaduct… and vanished!

[Eagle-eyed readers might recognise this shifty character from my Banditos family blogs]

William cautiously ventured into the area. Perhaps the man had gone through the chained gates? He shook them gently but they were locked. He glanced nervously down at the water below, but there was no sign of the man. Perhaps he had gone down the sewer system? It was a mystery, but before he left, William inspected the trash can for clues. Nothing.

But William could smell something rotten in the state of Windenburg, and it wasn’t just the trash.

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TS4 Blog: The Nakamura Family – The Black Rock Restaurant

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The Nakamura family had just moved to back San Myshuno after many years living in Japan. Natasha had been offered editor-in-chief position for Vague magazine, and had transitioned from the Tokyo office to the flagship in San Myshuno. Hiroshi was always looking for new opportunities and left his existing successful restaurant in the hands of his highly skilled team, deciding to move with his wife and start up a second innovative restaurant in a new city. Nora hadn’t had much say in the matter, but found herself caught up in the move. However, she was excited! She’d been to San Myshuno many times before, as it was her mother’s birthplace, and she felt as at home there, as much as she did in Japan.

They were not short of money, and soon found a spacious modern apartment overlooking the Uptown area. It was pricey, and required a huge deposit, but Natasha insisted on living in only the most desirable area.

‘As soon as your father get’s his business up and running we will have no money troubles at all.’ Natasha sang, carefully reapplying her red PLASMAH! lipstick.

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Hiroshi soon acquired the perfect property for his new venture. A local celebrity haunt had recently fallen into bankruptcy after a scathing review in Vague magazine, and many complaints from the neighbours about ‘noise pollution’ and ‘questionable behaviour’ of the guests. When the property went to auction, only the Nakamura family could afford to pay the asking price.

Hiroshi was a ball of creative energy when he was excited about a project and he invested heavily in getting his new restaurant built quickly. Bringing over some of his designs and his trusted project manager from Japan. The restaurant was ready to open to the public within a matter of weeks! He named it Black Rock because the grounds were decorated with volcanic rocks from the surrounding mountains.

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If only he could have brought some of his staff over from Japan too. But he needed his best staff back at the old place to keep it running smoothly while he was gone. He’d built that business up from nothing, and he could do it again! He spoke to the recruitment agency, but the sims they suggested were a rag-tag bunch. Hiroshi chose the best from the bunch carefully. They had little experience, but he had always invested heavily in training and would have them up to scratch in no time (but he took the puffer-fish off the menu for the time being, just to be safe).

Hiroshi wisely decided to do a test run before the big opening night! Vague magazine were covering the event [naturally] and he didn’t want anything to go wrong. So he called in his new staff and gave them a pep-talk.

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His wife talked to her contacts and pulled a few strings, and they found two couples that would be willing to have the special privilege of being the Exclusive First Customers [aka ‘guinea pigs’]. This included two members of the aristocratic Goth family, and two trendy celebrities from Golden Plumbob Studios.

Hiroshi was quick to welcome the stylish Lady Goth who had flawlessly observed the dress code of black, white or red. Such a beautiful woman reflected well on his business and he was keen to impress her.

[Basically, I was fangirling a lot at Bella and instructed him to fawn over her. I was just excited that they happened to be the first customers, and that her dress matched the decor. XD]

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His new staff were a little bit hopeless, so Hiroshi had to go and schmooze the guests a little: offering them free dessert and drinks. And even though his staff were hopeless, he could see they were doing their best and he offered them lots of encouragement to keep them motivated. At the end of the evening his guests were contented. Hiroshi congratulated his team on a job [sort of] well done, and gave them all a small wage increase. From past experience he knew that a successful business was built with happy employees, and was happy to invest in more training if that was what it took!

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Feeling fairly pleased with how his test run had gone, Hiroshi retired to his office overlooking the city and contemplated what his next move would be.

[I shamelessly stole this idea from Weealbet.]

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*salesman voice* And hey! If you like the look of the Black Rock Restaurant and you want to add it to your game, you can find it on the gallery!

blkrk

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The Thompson Family: Book ’em Willow!

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Willow was nervous but trying not to show it. It had been years since she’d had to go on patrol and she knew she had to give the impression that she was calm and in control. But she was in unfamiliar territory, armed only with a brief description of a dangerous perpetrator. Technically, she was just supposed to be patrolling the streets, but the department had been briefed that morning and told to be on the look out for an elder female wearing a skirt. It wasn’t much to go on, but Willow was determined to find the culprit and apprehend them. She had to prove herself all over again at her new station.

At first the streets were quiet. Too quiet. But then Willow spotted something that seemed unusual. A woman jogging in the morning wouldn’t seem strange to most people, but Willow’s instincts kicked in: why was an obviously wealthy woman jogging in such a poor neighbourhood? The woman stopped briefly next to chat to another suspicious character and jogged on casually.

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Willow stopped to speak to the second woman, she was one of those fabulously dressed extras that had been roaming the city since the recent movie studio merger. The woman was defensive from the start, demanding to know why she was being harassed by a police officer. Willow explained that she was chatting to lots of people to see if anyone had any issues they wanted to raise, since she was a community police officer. But the woman was intent on making a scene, probably in the hopes of attracting press attention and getting some more film work.

A small crowd started to gather, and Willow was aware of a few women matching the description of the culprit on the APB. Unfortunately she was unable to calm the woman down, and had to arrest her, meaning she had no time to speak to any of the other suspects.

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Back at the station, the other officers were impressed that Willow had got into a fight and arrested a perp. Apparently things like that were big news in the suburbs, while back in her old post at the city these things were an everyday occurrence. The naivety of her colleagues made Willow all the more determined to solve the case, she picked up the case files and started going over the details. There wasn’t much to go on but she trusted her intuition and knew something would reveal itself in time.

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Things were definitely different in the suburbs! Willow was shocked to see a woman march straight into the cell area to speak to the criminals. When she questioned it, she was told the woman was the chief of police and that she shouldn’t be challenged. This seemed wrong to Willow, who was used to following strict procedures.

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Willow knew she’d stepped on a few toes and she was kicked back out onto the streets to patrol an area of Windenburg. Apparently, the country village had a thriving party scene and things could get a little out of hand. Willow was to patrol the village centre and keep an eye on the revellers. She didn’t mind the assignment, it was nice to explore the different areas of her new precinct.

Plus, she had some new leads to look into. Her careful review of the case files had revealed a few details that had previously been overlooked. Which meant she could rule out some of the suspects who didn’t fit the complete description.

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Willow also knew from the case files that the perp had been reportedly seen hanging around a club in Windenburg, and she was keen to investigate this for herself. It was early in the evening and she was able to speak with the bar manager who confirmed her suspicions, the suspect was known to hang out there and the manager didn’t want that kind of riff raff hanging out in her club!

‘And here she is now,’ the manager flicked her eyes to the door and turned away casually.

Willow couldn’t believe it, the suspect was the chief of police! (Genuinely… this is the story the game played out! The suspect really was a senior police officer!)

‘Ma’am,’ Willow approached her humbly, ‘I was hoping you could assist me with my enquiries.’

‘Of course, dear,’ replied the suspect with a smug gleam in her eye, ‘I’m always happy to help junior detectives who are struggling with a case.’

Willow was feeling pretty smug herself, ‘Well ma’am. You see, I am confident I have cornered the suspect. I have a concrete description. I have a reliable witness. And what is more… I have evidence that the suspect communicated with known felons. Will you come quietly? Because I’ve already had one fight today and a few more scratches won’t dissuade me from taking you down.’

The suspect was shocked and knew that she had no choice but to allow Willow to arrest her.

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Back at the station, Willow was feeling pretty pleased with herself for catching the unlikely suspect. She lead her to a cell far away from her co-conspirators and went to speak to her department head. Unfortunately, her boss seemed a bit rumbled about the whole thing. Maybe he was scared of losing his job for arresting a senior officer. Willow patiently explained all the circumstances of the arrest to him, but he demanded more evidence.

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morty

Well… if it was more evidence he wanted, then it was more evidence he’d get! And Willow would get it by following procedure and doing her job diligently. It was time to officially book her suspect in. The perp looked smug again, she obviously thought she was going to get away with it. Maybe she had friends in high places who were eager to say that Willow was a rookie who had ineptly collared the wrong person. But Willow knew she had the right person, and she just had to prove it.

While frisking the suspect, Willow found a small antique doll which most officers would probably overlook. However, Willow remembered from the case notes that an antique doll’s house had been at the crime scene and she was sure that the owner would soon notice if one of their prized one-of-a-kind dolls was missing. Willow confirmed this was the case and triumphantly deposited all the evidence on her boss’ desk.

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Willow should have felt great! She had gone above and beyond what duty had asked of her, she’d taken the initiative to review the case files and draw attention to details, and she’d single-handedly identified and arrested the ringleader. So why did she have an awful feeling that there was more to this case than it seemed?

The Thompson Family – Words, Words, Words!

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William was certainly not going to work for the local publishing house. He’d had enough of being told what to write and he wanted to pursue his own interests. He wanted to write the stories that he felt were important. No more fluff articles on the latest faux celebrity feud. He wanted to cover the stories that affected real people.

He had been looking for a premises for a while, somewhere where he could set up his own newspaper or magazine. Even before they moved to the new house, he had been looking at offices around Newcrest but hadn’t been able to find anywhere suitable. He didn’t have a lot of money to spare: it was nice not having to pay rent anymore after inheriting his aunt’s old property, but they still had to pay bills and school fees, and Willow’s job as a patrol officer didn’t bring in much money. He had to make sure that the income he made from his newspaper covered at least the basic costs. Or he would fail and be consigned to a life of writing drudgery at the corporate publishing house.

The children left for school. William was itching to get out and continue his hunt for an office, perhaps he would have to extend his search to the neighbouring areas, he could try looking in Willow Creek. There was a severe lack of building space in the suburbs and he decided the first thing he wanted to cover as a freelance journalist was the housing crisis! But that morning he had to wait until the gardener arrived, he hadn’t met them yet.

Willow was clearing away the breakfast things, ‘We need to get the rest of these things put away soon. I didn’t realise how much stuff we had in that tiny little apartment! I might just dump it all in the basement for now.’

‘We might have to rent them out soon,’ William protested, ‘I haven’t found an office yet and I’m worried we might have to spend more than we first anticipated. We could use the extra money.’

‘Oh, I forgot to tell you,’ Willow gasped suddenly, ‘That nice artist lady… what was her name…?’

‘Amalie Swan,’ William supplied.

‘That’s it! That nice artist lady, Amalie, mentioned that her nephew has been writing at a little book store down near the canal…’

‘Simspeare and Co?’ William interjected again, ‘Yes, I’ve been meaning to visit.’

Willow continued talking as she fluttered around the kitchen wiping the sides down, ‘…well she mentioned that they have an attic space that isn’t being used for anything at the moment and I thought you could take a look.’

‘Brilliant,’ William cried cheerfully, ‘I’ll go and look at it today.’

Willow got changed for work and fortunately the gardener arrived soon after, so William didn’t have to wait for long.

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William walked to Simspeare and Co, it was an easy walking distance from the house, which he took as a good sign. It was a lovely little bookshop, every surface crammed with a huge variety of books, most of them collectables. There was a small section for magazines and comics too, so he knew he would be able to sell his publication there. The clerk told him they had a small but enthusiastic local customer base, but that they also supplied items across the county via the internet. They happily allowed him to access the attic space, and although the room was tiny, William instantly knew he had found the right place! The best part was that they were going to let him use the space for free! On the condition that he supplied them with his newspaper for no charge. Which suited him very well indeed!

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A few days later, William had sourced the furniture for his office from an old library that was under refurbishment. The typewriters had been lurking in various places around the bookstore. And he had secured a vintage printing machine from an antique store. It took some work and a lot of oil to get it working again, and it had a tendency to leave big blobs of ink on the pages, but it kind of gave the paper a hipster vintage look. William was pleased with the results.

He also employed a few writers. The first was a gloomy, and slightly hopeless, assistant that he found lurking around the European History section. Gunther Munch was a bit clumsy and had a tendency to drift away into his own thoughts, but he was passionate and knowledgeable about current affairs and William thought he had potential. The second was a cheerful and organised lady who worked in the bookstore cafe. Her name was Harriette Baker and over one of her husband’s homemade cakes she had confessed her dreams of becoming a famous romance writer. When William had asked if she wanted to help him on the paper she had jumped at the chance! They settled in to their new home quickly and the only thing left to do was figure out what they wanted to write about first!

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The Thompson Family – Write From the Start

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William Thompson was tired. Tired of renting a small, over-priced apartment in the city. Tired of working for a glossy magazine that pretended to care, when all that really mattered was profits. So when his favourite aunt sadly passed away, leaving him her big old house in her will, he eagerly moved his family from the fast-paced city centre to the bohemian outskirts of Newcrest.

His aunt Eleanor had converted the basement into two small apartments, which she had rented out to lodgers to supplement her income. William toyed with the idea of doing the same, he knew there was a housing crisis and it seemed like the right thing to do. The extra money had allowed his aunt to maintain the house, and he found it in perfect condition. Almost too perfect. Museum-like. Towards the end of her life, Eleanor had become so frail that she felt that she needed the support of a care home. She had moved out, and so had her lodgers, and the house was left in the care of the gardener and daily housekeeping service. So it had the slightly too tidy atmosphere of a show home.

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Moving in day was cluttered but fun. William’s wife, Willow, was as keen to move out of the cramped apartment and into the spacious house as he was. And the children, enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies of the old house.

Some curious neighbours arrived to welcome them to the area. One lady also worked for a publishing company, but she reminded William too much of his old colleagues. He courteously introduced her to his wife and slipped away to chat with an charming artist called Amalie, who talked vividly of old French novels, and had flecks of paint on the inside of her wrist. William encouraged her to investigate his aunt’s bookcase and Amalie eagerly borrowed a well-thumbed novel by Hugo. She had been forced to abandon her books, she told him sadly. William didn’t ask why.

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The first night in the old-new house was troubled. Gemma was woken by strange noises and rushed to her brother’s room screaming about a monster under the bed! Not content with waking Karl, she ran to her parent’s room to tell them about the strange creature too!

‘It’s alright,’ Karl called from the hallway, ‘I’ll handle this one.’

William and Willow snuggled thankfully down into their feather pillows. It was just the excitement of the move, and sleeping in a strange new room, they assured each other in the dark.

But Karl knew that telling Gemma it was all in her imagination wasn’t going to work. Big brothers were much more capable of dealing with bed monsters than grown-ups were. Armed with a bottle of water used for spraying house plants, he tiptoed into Gemma’s room.

‘Is it still here?’ he whispered to his younger sister, who was now giggling at her brother’s antics.

She nodded, her wide eyes darting to the space beneath the bed.

Karl nodded thoughtfully for a moment. Then he whispered, ‘Does it have a name?’

‘I don’t know,’ Gemma whispered back, ‘I haven’t asked it yet.’

‘Then we should give it one,’ Karl said decisively, ‘what does it look like?’

‘It’s sort of smokey…’ Gemma replied thoughtfully, ‘… and it has tentacles.’

‘Then I shall call it Dave.’

Gemma giggled, ‘Dave?! Dave is a silly name for a monster!’

‘Exactly!’ Karl said triumphantly, ‘And how can a monster with a silly name like Dave possibly be scary? Now hop back into bed.’

After a moment’s hesitation and a concerned glance, Gemma vaulted into her bed before Dave could tickle her ankles with his tentacles.

‘Now listen up, Dave!’ Karl puffed himself up and raised his voice to the shadows, ‘I have a bottle of monster repellent here and I’m not afraid to use it! I know you are a night-time animal, and you just want someone to play with. But my sister is a day-time monster, and she has school tomorrow so please stop waking her up.’

And he sprayed the floorboards for good measure. ‘I think he’s gone,’ he whispered to his little sister.

‘He’s gone,’ Gemma confirmed, yawning into her pillow. She was already fast asleep again before Karl had slipped out of the room.

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Stevenson Manor is on the Gallery if you would like it.

I think I forgot to upload the family because I’m so super-smart and good at remembering things, but I’ll try and do that soon. XD