Archive for December, 2017

When It All Ended Pt. 2

December 30, 2017

Morgan Moonglow put a hand on Hamm’s shoulder as he fell to his knees and breathed hard, he seemed to be coming down from some sort of panic. She shouted. “Galath!” When the dwarf ran over she spoke again. “Check him out, please.”

“I’d be happy to,” Galath said. “He looks physically alright but mentally… well, we’ll see won’t we?” He pressed his hand to Hamm’s other shoulder and it glowed for a moment and the color returned a bit to Hamm’s cheeks.

“Can you tell us what’s wrong?” Morgan asked. Hamm looked at her helplessly for a moment and then at the five others clustered around. Morgan gave them a look that clearly said to back off.

“I am happy to scout ahead a bit,” William said. He was a big knight in thick, steel armor and Hamm tilted away when he spoke. He ruffled Garth Whispernight’s hair, obviously part of a good-natured rivalry between the halfling and the human. “I’ll take Garth with me. Won’t I, Garth?”

“I guess I could stretch my legs,” Garth said. The way he talked, it sounded like he did not really care much.

Henry whistled for Hengroen and climbed aboard the horse. He rode slowly to allow Garth to keep up. The halfling eyed the horse with some nervousness. That left Galath, Percival Stardane, and Cassandra Oakspring nearby. Galath went back to tend the fire and the cooking he had been doing. Cassandra sat daintily on a log and opened a book. Morgan could see Percy’s eyes give that book an envious look but he stuck by Morgan’s side with a half-smile. She smiled back and turned to the dwarf in front of her who seemed to be coming back to reality.

“Now then,” Morgan said. “Can you tell us what you’re running from? I promise that we can protect you.”

“And we will also believe you,” Percy said. “We have already seen some crazy shit.” He smiled warmly at the man and Hamm couldn’t help but smile back.

“Well, I only saw it for a moment but I swore it saw me and it killed Moira and who knows how many others,” Hamm said. He realized he was still holding the satchel of firewood over his shoulder and he put it down.

“Yes, but what was it?” Morgan asked. The question was kind but firm. She had softened some working alongside her team but that ranger training was ingrained and kept her on task.

“A dragon!” Hamm blurted out. “A green dragon.”

“A dragon!?” Percival said loudly. There was something between fear and excitement in his eyes. Cassandra’s eyes went wide over on the log and her back went absolutely straight. “There hasn’t been a dragon sighting in Eloria for the past two years or so. A green dragon is even rarer. Hmm.” Cassandra was staring into space, seemingly doing the related calculations already.

“It had to be a dragon,” Hamm said. “It couldn’t be anything else.”

“As I said, we believe you, friend,” Percival said. “Besides that, there is no mistaking a dragon for anything else. The green ones are especially vibrant and easily recognized at a distance even by the yokelest of yokels.” Morgan reached over and physically covered his mouth before he could say any more.

“Where is the dragon?” Morgan asked with urgency. She had just let two of her people scout ahead and she was now doubting that decision just a little bit. She knew that William and Garth could take care of themselves but a dragon was a dragon.

“It’s in the capital,” Hamm managed. He was very tired even with Galath’s healing and it almost physically hurt to think back to what he saw.

“The capital?” Morgan asked, her eyes going wide a bit. “That’s about five miles from here.”

“Is it?” Hamm asked, blinking at that realization. He felt a bit safer with that knowledge but also completely out of place.

“And you were there earlier today?” Morgan asked. “That’s quite some run, um, sorry what was your name?”

“Hamm Stoutfire, at your service,” He said. “I owned a shop in the merchant’s district. Well, I guess I still own it if it was not destroyed.”

“I hope it’s still intact,” Morgan said. “Cassandra, please summon the boys back here. We need to gear up and ride on. We might be the only adventurers in the area capable of taking care of this.” Cassandra pressed a finger to her ear. It was an unnecessary gesture that usually signified that she was using a sending spell.

“You’re going to fight it!?” Hamm shouted, his eyes tinged with panic again.

“We’re going to try,” Morgan said.

“Really, it’s lucky we were in the area,” Percy said, pushing Morgan’s hand from his mouth. “We were dealing with a bit of business with some hags and a prophecy and funny enough we ended up fighting a newly minted vampire lord that some other country had dumped here. So we were just riding away from all of that when we met you. See? Lucky.”

“I could do with less of that kind of luck,” Galath said. “You’re never lucky to meet a dragon.”

Morgan covered Percy’s mouth again and gave him a pointed look. “Mr. Stoutfire does not need to know all of our business,” she said. She turned her gaze back toward Hamm. “You have been very kind to give us this information. We will be riding on to the capital. Do you have somewhere safe to go in the meantime?”

“I think I still have a cousin in Stoneswallow near here,” Hamm said. “Besides, it might be better to be underground right now.”

“Probably a good call,” Galath said. “And yet.”

Morgan shot him a look and he smiled and shrugged. He was already carrying over a bit of sausage and bread which he handed to Hamm along with what seemed to be a full waterskin. Hamm bit into the food without a second glance but did manage to mumble something thankful with his mouthful. With an uneasy glance back the way he came, he hurried down the road on wobbly legs. He had no more desire to be with people who were comfortable fighting dragons than he was to be actually near the dragon.

“Farewell, new friend!” Percy shouted after him, once again extricating himself from Morgan’s grip. “Safe travels!”

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Media Update 12/28/17

December 28, 2017


Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Another controversial blockbuster genre movie but this time I fall on the positive side of things. I remember watching what is now called Episode IV as a little kid (on VHS, of course) and I was instantly enamored. I had a truckload of toys which I could have sold to buy a car if my family had kept them. For a while, Empire Strikes Back was my favorite of the franchise until it was replaced by The Force Awakens last year. Episode VII was a mix of nostalgia and really fun new stuff. This movie felt like it expanded on the new stuff while giving us a fun yet darker movie. This new movie leaned more on the Disney-created characters rather than the old guard which is good. We have spent so much time with those characters that it is time for them to pass the torch. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac continue to provide interesting characters. We got new characters from Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. Both of them are awesome and I am looking forward to more from Tran. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher provide the nostalgia but also show us how their characters have grown over the years. Adam Driver and Andy Serkis are the main villains but we also got brief appearances from Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie again. I feel like this was a great step forward for the franchise to help differentiate it from the original trilogy while still being a great movie. I definitely recommend it.


Bright

It was late on December 22 and I decided to watch this movie because the trailer intrigued me. Also, calls of it being “The Worst Movie of the Year” intrigued me because this year also produced Boss Baby and The Emoji Movie. The movie is directed by David Ayers and it was written by Max Landis, both have a weird track record. For the record, I did not know that Landis was accused of sexual assault before I watched the movie. This is a movie that is basically set in a world where Dungeons and Dragons was real and then time progressed to 2017. So, it is the story of a human cop saddled with an affirmative hire Orc cop. I’m sure there’s some message about race here but it is kind of lost in the story and probably should not be delivered by Max Landis. I actually liked the movie. It felt like one part D&D, one part Training Day, and one part Warriors. Will Smith was great as he was less his usual cocky self and more curmudgeonly and more of a reluctant hero. Joel Edgerton was great as the dumb but loyal orc cop. The movie was a little long and dragged here and there but there was some excellent world-building and I am a sucker for fantasy settings. I recommend it but it may not be up everyone’s alley.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I am a huge fan of Luc Besson. He is a great director and goes into great detail creating his worlds whether they are more mundane or fantastic. My two favorites of his are Fifth Element and Leon: The Professional. He has a way of bringing interesting characters to life in fun and/or interesting situations. When I saw trailers for this movie, I figured it looked more like The Fifth Element and, in some ways, I was right. Dane DeHaan plays the titular Major Valerian, a secret military agent. His partner, Laureline, is played by Cara Delevigne. The two of them use high tech gadgetry and combat expertise to save the day. At first, they seemed a little bland to me but when I got into the rhythm of their straight-faced performance I saw their personalities come out. The story, apparently based on a comic book, is a little frantic and hard to follow at first. Once it settles in, the movie is way better and is driven by the characters trying to find their way through craziness. The world-building is off the charts with hundreds of aliens created and dozens of cultures shown. The other characters we meet are interesting and whole. The only real problem I had with the movie was that it was a bit too long and Besson could have probably cut out around 10 – 20 minutes. Still, I recommend this one if for no other reason than the awesome special effects and action sequences.

Music of the Week:
Getter – Rip N Dip

Selena Gomez, Marshmello – Wolves

Sia – Cheap Thrills

AWOLNATION – Sail

Cold Crush Brothers – The Weekend

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Teamwork in Genre Films”
– I started watching Little Witch Academia Season 2
– I continued watching Longmire Season 3
– I watched more of Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched more of Blue Exorcist Season 1
– I finished The Crown Season 2

The King’s Arsenal

December 25, 2017

Garth Whispernight – Halfling Rogue

Born to nobility in a far-off country, he grew bored and disappeared and reappeared when he tried to pick the pocket of Morgan Moonglow. Instead of turning him in, Morgan recruited Garth on a quest to save the world. After the quest was over, he stuck with the party of adventurers who would eventually become the Arsenal. Learning that he could indeed be an honorable man, he slowly shed his criminal tendencies but never let the skills fade. He delivered the finishing blow to the Green Dragon, plunging a dagger into the back of its skull. When he joined the Arsenal, the King pardoned him for any crimes he may have committed in Eloria. He spends most of his time in a tavern in Whitecrest instead of his office. His home has many sentimental trophies of his past including a fake officer’s badge, forged identities, and various previously stolen items.

Cassandra Oakspring – Half-Elf Sorcerer

She was a very bright, resourceful young girl who showed some untapped magical ability. A local patron paid to send her to one of the magical academies in Coppin. Once there, she flourished and excelled in her studies. The once meek girl started to grow a spine. Morgan Moonglow showed up at the Academy, looking for somebody to release a curse. Cassandra was the one who unlocked the puzzle. She was given an expedited graduation from the Academy so that she could accompany Morgan and her team to help protect the world. An eternal student, she seeks knowledge from all corners of the world. She was delighted to retire near the old academy and is a constant visitor and consultant at most of the academies. When she is not fighting crime or studying, she socializes with whoever will have tea. She loves a good story and is eager to meet new people.

Morgan Moonglow – Elf Ranger/Druid

She was found as a baby on the edge of the Fangleth Forest and grew up never knowing her parents. As soon as she could walk, she started to carry a bow and arrow around and she showed promise. When she was old enough, she was recruited into a ranger school for the military. She served for some time before she was warned of a premonition of the return of an ancient evil. She moved to assemble a team to battle the cult who wished to remake the world in their image. Once the threat was defeated, she kept the team together to combat other threats to Eloria and even surrounding kingdoms. She asked the others to help her take on the dragon at the palace and every single one agreed to risk themselves for Eloria. She was assigned to her home district of Channon where she is reconnecting with her long-lost mother who is a druid. She also often plays host to Percival Stardane since the two of them have a growing romance together.

Sir William Havelock – Human Fighter

Chased out of his homeland by a feud with a rival family, Havelock sought a new start in Eloria. He met Morgan Moonglow under the assumed name of Calo Northwind and joined them as fighter and defender of their cause. As time went on, the group of adventurers was able to go back to Havelock’s homeland and help him sort things out so that he once again felt comfortable using his real name. With his plate armor and faithful steed Hengroen, he is always ready to charge into battle for a good cause. Both of his names were spread far and wide because he never shied away from announcing his presence in and out of battle. While Moonflow was arguably the leader and founder of their team, Havelock was often the noble face of the operation while Stardane was its voice. Havelock never sought his fame, he simply threw out his name as a calling card in case their group was needed again down the road. He is content to teach at the Battle Arts Academy but he also enjoys knocking a few criminals senseless when he can.

Galath Wyndham – Dwarf Cleric

While traveling through the woods, Morgan Moonflow and her crew found what they thought was a statue at first. To their horror, they figured out that the statue was actually a petrified man. A quick Greater Restoration spell from a local priestess woke him up. It was then revealed that he had been petrified a long time ago, during the first Great War of Eloria. He chose to travel along with the Moonflow crew so that they could help him adjust to his new place in time and he could rejoin the world. Along the way, his cleric powers were very useful in keeping the party alive. A quiet man, Galath often imparts wisdom at just the right time and he came to feel somewhat like the party’s older uncle. Having had two adventuring careers in two different centuries, he was glad to finally become semi-retired with the rest of the party. He spends a lot of time enjoying the fresh air of his district and reading books on loan from the Grand Libary in Etting.

Percival Stardane – Human Bard

If there was ever a know-it-all, Percival Stardane would definitely be a candidate. Stardane studied whole libraries full of lore in an effort to figure out what was important and unimportant in the world. If you do not know something, Stardane will be happy to teach you all about it at length. If he does not know something… Well, he will tell you that’s not very likely. Percival was left to his own devices in the libraries of Etting because his parents often had nothing to do with him. He was an only child and he barely had any interest in socializing with others when there were volumes of knowledge to absorb. All of that alone time with the great writers of the continent (and beyond) left Percival with some social peculiarities. While his father was a talented musician, Percival was an excellent storyteller but came off as too excited to tell his story. His brusk manner tended to irk and confuse people and he cannot sing a single note like his father. He seemed doomed to waste away as a librarian when Morgan Moonglow found him and he joined up to add his expertise to the team. He has since become much more well-adjusted and often chooses to live with Morgan rather than stay at his appointment in Etting.

When It All Ended

December 23, 2017

Hamm Stoutfire walked along the avenue with an armload of firewood in the satchel on his back. The Capital was freezing but, because of the war, the shipments of firewood were slowing down. Hamm had thought about closing his shop and joining the crews searching for fresh lumber. He would be saving lives as the temperatures dropped and there was probably some good coin in it. Also, it never hurt to get a little credit for civil service. His shop was sometimes frequented by less than favorable citizens and tourists as Hamm had never been picky when it came to less savory individuals. ‘Coin is coin and coin is good’ was Hamm’s personal motto. The Guard rarely came around to hassle him so he figured he must not be doing anything too wrong.

He could see his breath puff out before him as he walked down the street. He playfully pretended he was blowing out smoke like had done so many times as a no good kid. He wondered if he would get any customers today. Between the cold and the war along the border, people might just continue to huddle in their homes. Most of the day, only members of The Guard seemed to walk the streets. It made the city’s criminals cautious as there was no crowd to slip into and no pockets to pick. Picking a Guard officer’s pocket was often too risky even for a city whose belt was starting to tighten due to the war effort. If something did not get better, people would start dropping like flies.

Of course, the news from the war front was terrifying. The latest news was that the Sherans had joined their army with the forces of the ancient demon Vistra. Vistra was a name that most Elorians did not speak and barely dared to think. Now the demon seemed to have returned and things looked grim for the Elorian military. Hamm shuddered at the thought of the demons winning the war. He had made his peace with the possibility of the Sherans winning and taking the place over. He imagined that things would not be much different. There was no telling what the demons were capable of. He might end up getting skinned alive or they might all burn for eternity. Not to mention that one of the armies had apparently raised the dead en masse. It kind of felt like the end.

“Hey Stubby!” A voice called out. Hamm turned to look at an open doorway, a woman silhouetted by the candlelight behind her. He frowned. He had never liked how some people made fun of his Dwarven height. It was generally something not done in polite society but, of course, Hamm had never been a

“Moira,” Hamm said gruffly. “Kindly fuck off.” There was a long beat of silence. “And happy solstice.”

Moira laughed, putting her cigar out with the tips of her finger so she did not waste any while she was talking. The warmth of it still filled her lungs along with some illegal magical residuum. Hamm noted the telltale red, wispy smoke. “Give me one of those logs, Hammy.”

“I’m sure you don’t need it,” Hamm said. “You’ve got plenty of wood to keep you warm, don’t you?”

“Very funny,” Moira said. She spat on the cobblestones between them. “I haven’t gotten many customers these last two weeks and besides you know I specialize in female customers.”

“I am not sure I can spare anything, Moira,” Hamm said. “I didn’t get anything out of the last shipment and I’m freezing my ass off in the back of my shop.”

“Well, you know what you can do with those logs then?” Moira asked with a smirk.

Hamm couldn’t help but mirror that smirk though it was mostly hidden by his bushy beard. “What?”

There was huge cracking noise from somewhere in the air. By the time that Hamm realized that it had actually come from the palace, large stones fell and slammed into the homes he was standing next to. In the devastation that followed, Moira was nowhere to be seen. Hamm rushed forward, not wanting the last exchange between them to be disgruntled sniping. Dimly in the back of his mind, he realized that the stones he was scrabbling over were actual pieces of the palace. That thing was the sturdiest building in Eloria. He tried to shove aside wooden beams and smaller rocks as he moved.

When he shoved aside what appeared to be Moira’s wooden door head, he saw the horrible thing that was left of Moira’s body. He staggered back into the street without remembering taking a single step. He retched and unleashed his meager breakfast onto the cobblestones. She had been alive just moments ago. He felt dizzy, weak. Somebody bumped into him as they ran by. The empty street was now full of people running away from something. Hamm shook his head to try to shake away the dizzy feeling.

A flash of green caught his eye and he looked up as the crowd barely moved around him. He ignored the impact of elbows and shoulders as he tried to keep his stance, clutching his load of firewood as if it mattered anymore. He tried to look for the green thing he thought he saw and then there it was. It was a dragon. A huge green one and it had demolished part of the castle. It was not a Sheran, a demon, or a zombie and yet here it was the end at last. The dragon looked around as it crawled over the palace roof and for a moment Hamm thought it looked into his eyes and fear overtook him. He ran in a blind panic for the rest of the day.

When he came to it was because of a firm hand on his shoulder. He looked up at an elf woman with long blonde, almost green hair.

“My name is Morgan,” The elf said. “What are you running from and how can we help?”

Media Update 12/21/17

December 21, 2017


The Christmas Prince

The movie that caused a flurry of tweets after Netflix announced that several people were watching this movie daily. I had already wanted to check this movie out but that weird public shaming convinced me for sure. I wanted to see it anyway because it stars Rose McIver, the star of iZombie. This will apparently start a new tradition of me watching random Christmas movies starring genre television stars. (See last year’s Dear Santa viewing). Anyway, the movie follows a reporter who goes undercover to investigate the royal family of the fictional country of Aldovia. It’s basically England without all of the baggage. The movie is cheesy but also very sweet and it has a coherent and good story for the holidays. Since I have been watching Season 2 of The Crown this week, this movie definitely resonated with me. McIver is great as the young, hungry reporter who figures out there is more to the story and her story than she thought. The child actress, Honor Kneafsey, did a great job at playing a much more complex character than most of the cast. Ben Lamb, who played the titular prince, also did a good job of being an interesting person and not the usual cookie cutter prince we see in these movies. I am so glad that Netflix produced this instead of it ending up on Lifetime or Hallmark where it would have been both inane and forgotten. While it is not a perfect movie, I found myself laughing and smiling and even shouting at the screen (in a good way) all through the movie. I definitely recommend it for those looking for a holiday movie that is light on an actual holiday.


Psych: The Movie

This movie is a Christmas gift from the old gang to all the Psych fans. While the Christmas season does not really affect the plot at all, the movie soundtrack does include several Christmas songs. Really, this movie is the long-awaited closure that was not needed but I definitely welcomed. The end of the series was kind of playfully open-ended but you could kind of guess what happened next. However, when I heard about this movie I was all in. The character of Shawn Spencer was a guy who I loved from the beginning but at one point, I believe that the writers let him stagnate a bit and not grow up. This movie works to fix that a little bit. But more than that, it was absolutely a love letter to the loyal fans that have stuck with this show for so long. There were cameos from some of the greatest guest stars and the whole cast from the series returned. On top of that, one of the cameos was from WWE superstars John Cena and there was a bigger part for Charlotte Flair (Wooo!). They brought back a lot of the old running jokes but they definitely played with them, as the characters have always been pretty self-aware about those bits of comedy. This was a fun romp through the new setting of San Francisco and we got to see some growth from the beloved characters. I am happy to hear that creator Steve Franks has four other stand-alone movies planned as this movie felt kind of like a new beginning of sorts. I recommend it to fans of the original series and if you have not watched Psych go track it down.


A Christmas Together/Rocky Mountain Holiday

These are the two holiday specials that John Denver did with The Muppets at a time when I was not born/a baby and when the original cast was still alive. I am not knocking the new cast at all but it was the original cast that first captured my attention. John Denver also has a special place in my heart because of his relationship with the Baltimore Orioles when I was a little kid. I knew there was at least one John Denver album done with the muppets but I had never known there were actually two television specials. A Christmas Together is a show about John and the Muppets trying to put together a Christmas special and, like an episode of the Muppets, it has both backstage and performance pieces. The performance visuals can be a bit trippy which matches Denver’s warbling vocals. The special ends with the story of Jesus’ birth with puppetry cute enough for me not to complain.  The second special has a lot more lively music and there is more Muppets-style humor.  It also has way more Muppets puppetry (muppetry?).  I prefer the second one since I like upbeat music more but both are pleasant and nostalgic.  Of course, only the first is actually a Christmas special which I did not realize until I cued the second special. I guess it’s just a summer holiday special.  I recommend them both.

Music of the Week:
Dru Hill – This Christmas

Joyce Chu – Merry Cold Christmas

Billy Idol – Yellin’ At the Xmas Tree

Ariana Grande – Wit It This Christmas

Amon Amarth – Viking Christmas

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Fun Christmas”
– I started watching Longmire Season 3
– I started watching The Crown Season 2
– I kept watching Blue Exorcist
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched a lot of GTLive and Game Grumps
– Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope that you find some peace this week

More Common Knowledge (Elorian Campaign)

December 18, 2017

The Guard

The law keepers of the Kingdom of Eloria are comprised of able-bodied men and women who act as both patrollers and first responders for any crime and unrest. In a pinch, they also act as medical first responders. They are primarily stationed in the cities and towns but there are various rangers who are stationed in guard houses in the wilderness. These wilderness officers tend to be a bit more rugged as they spend a lot of time out on their own. These officers carry badges that are readily visible, clipped somewhere onto their armor. The badges are recognizable and known to all citizens of Eloria. Most municipal localities have a station or two depending on their size which includes some sort of jail for prisoners. What is most interesting about The Guard is that they are trained as both a police force and a military force. In times of war, most of the guard ship out to the front lines to fight in the war. The guard, along with the military members who patrol the Elorian border, makes sure that in times of war the fighting force is seasoned and experienced.

The Royal Arsenal

They are a legendary team of former adventurers, most of them Elorian, who have become agents of the military. The Arsenal is used as a forward fighting squad in military conflicts as they are experienced with tough battles. When there are no military conflicts, they are installed in various municipalities as heads of law enforcement, beholden both to the King and the local nobility. Their assignment to the military was done as a reward for killing an ancient white dragon named Kanaaq. They saved the royal family and the royal city from destruction and the King could not think of a greater reward than employing them. Thankfully, they all graciously accepted after a short period of reflection. Each member is renowned for their incredible fighting prowess and their legendary accomplishments. Each member of the Arsenal approaches their duties differently but all of them are dedicated to the greater good. Of course, they are all semi-retired which kind of took the edge off their former strength but none of them should be underestimated. They are often consulted by adventuring parties, as they have a lot of good stories and great experience to draw on. Also, it does not hurt to have a government official who has a sympathetic ear for adventurers.

The Demon Vistra

Vistra is the demon lord who tried to invade the kingdom of Eloria and also, at one point, the Kingdom of Shera. He has twice found some sort of exploit that allowed him to travel to the Material Plane from his keep somewhere in the Abyss. Both times he was able to bring an army with him full of both weaker and powerful demons. On both of these known occasions, he supplemented his army by forming an alliance with enemies of the Kingdom of Eloria. On the first occasion, his emissaries were able to help form an alliance with Orcs from the Kingdom of Khull and the two armies were barely routed during the origin of what is now known as Eloria. The second time, his armies raised the dead to create an undead army during the war between Eloria and Shera. There are rumors that a part of that plan was an alliance with the dragon Khandaaq, an agreement that Khandaaq could turn the royal capital into its icy lair but those rumors have not and can not be confirmed. There are also whispers of Vistra’s private war against an unnamed Devil in the Nine Hells which is also unconfirmed. Finally, there are rumors that not all of Vistra’s army went home and that there may be remnants stored somewhere in Eloria. There are three generals under Vistra and they are named Balor, Abraxas, and Halfrek.

The Republic of Shera

Once known as the Kingdom of Shera, this place is mostly farmland, forest, and swamps. That is not to say that it is not civilized, it just lacks the diversity of biomes that Eloria has. Sherans are not completely unlike Elorians. The main difference has been formed by their more recent history. Years ago, the King of Shera decided to forgo all previous treaties and attacked the Kingdom of Eloria in a bid to gain all of the shipping resources of Eloria.  As has been stated, that war was interrupted by Vistra’s forces and those forces killed the entire royal family of Shera. Liam III, the King of Eloria, decided not to annex Shera in the absence of their royal family. The grateful Sherans formed a Republic and they are now ruled by a council made up of the Mayors of their cities and various intellectuals. The new government reestablished treaties with all of its neighbors and work toward a brighter, more peaceful future.

The Kingdom of Khull

The Kingdom of Khull is a large country full of desert and scrubland near the middle of the Emerald Continent of Taldonta. Since Orcs are almost certain to maintain a constant violent relationship with the other races on the continent, many decided to seize land inhospitable to less rugged races where they formed their own Kingdom. This Kingdom is undoubtedly ruled by one person, the King, and everybody else is more or less on equal footing. With Orcs, the strongest often rules and makes the rules so aside from the King, the most brutal often keep the others in line. Their thoughts are constantly bent on war with their neighbors but it has been a long time since an actual war has taken place. Their southern neighbor is Shera which has built a tall wall all along the border to provide some relief from these vicious creatures. After its founding, the Kingdom of Khull opened its borders to any Goblins and Kobolds who wanted a new home. The newborn alliance worries the rest of Taldonta.

Coulrophobia

December 16, 2017

Good morning!  I have a bunch of stuff partly written but I have been feeling kind of run down and sick this week.  Also, the Christmas-esque holidays always kind of rattle my brain a little.  I am hoping to spend a little time over the weekend getting things together so I can enjoy Xmas without worrying about posting but still meeting my deadlines here.  In the meantime, few things could make me miss a deadline so I present to you another video project that I have been working on to continue to learn video editing.  It sprang from a discussion at my weekly Craft Night and a friend’s mother’s collection of clown paintings.  This is just a small sampling of why we are afraid of clowns.  Don’t look behind you…

 

Media Update 12/14/17

December 14, 2017


Atomic Blonde

I love a good comic book movie and I have been all about Charlize Theron’s career as a badass so it was a no-brainer that I would eventually see this. Then I found out that this movie is actually a project that Theron championed for years. The first (and only) trailer I saw for the movie was exciting and funny. When I actually started watching the movie, I realized that I was in for something quite different from what I expected. This is not a bad thing. The rest of the films on this week’s edition have a lot of action and explosions and whatnot. This movie is an actual slow burn film noir/spy film with a lot of twists and turns. Theron is great as the cold as ice main character who does get a chance to tell a few straight-faced jokes along the way. James McAvoy plays a much different agent, playing his part loud and wearing his heart on his sleeve. The whole thing is set against the backdrop of the Cold War in the days surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall. While there is plenty of intrigue, the movie does not skimp on great fight choreography. This is what I saw in the trailer but it led me to believe that this was all the movie was. The movie had a lot more depth than advertised and a lot more attitude. I definitely recommend it.


The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I love Samuel L. Jackson, the louder and more belligerent the better he is. Ryan Reynolds is in the middle of a period where he is picking great projects to work on that show off his comic skills. Samuel L. Jackson plays the titular hitman and Reynolds plays the titular bodyguard. Reynolds often plays the straight man to Jackson’s laugh out loud humor. Of course, Reynolds does get his own jabs of comedy in as the put-upon bodyguard who has to handle the worst client he probably could have ever gotten. The movie is a comedy/action road trip story that mostly allows Jackson and Reynold’s characters to talk as they travel in between awesome, elaborate action set pieces. I was impressed with how well the dialogue is written for what appeared to be just another dumb blockbuster. Not surprising is how well all of the gun fights and martial arts scenes are choreographed. There are bullets, fisticuffs, car crashes, and plenty of explosions to go around but it only adds to the story as the action sequences often do not stop the two characters from arguing. Elodie Yung does a great job as the Interpol agent who sets a lot of the movie in motion. Throw in some cameos from Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek and you have a great small cast for a big movie. I definitely recommend this one as well.


Salt (Director’s Cut)

This movie is similar to Atomic Blonde in that both are about foreign intelligence service spies trying to navigate loyalties. However, this movie is more filled with literally explosive action scenes. Where Atomic Blonde is more subtle, this movie is a bit more blatant in almost every category. That does not mean that the spy intrigue is not present. There are plenty of spy moments where we are left with a mystery to try and figure out before the end. While the two movies are similar, this movie seemed like a more personal story but a less polished movie. Angelina Jolie is the star of this one and much of the movie follows her as she tries to figure things out and the viewer tries to figure her out. We also follow both Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor who play off each other great. What I find most interesting about this movie is that it was originally written with a male lead in mind and it was changed to fit Angelina Jolie instead. I recommend this one as well.

Music of the Week:

Wavves – Million Enemies

Brujeria – La Ley De Plomo

The Devil’s Daughters – Pass That Bottle

Childish Gambino – Sweatpants

Kesha – Woman

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Foreign Intelligence Intrigue”
– I started The Crown Season 2
– I am watching Longmire Season 2
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha
– I watched more Blindspot Season 1
– As with most weeks, I watched GTLive, Critical Role, Game Grumps, LordMinion777 and KittyKat Gaming.
– I really need to get my act together for Christmas. Always waiting until late.

Races (Elorian Campaign)

December 11, 2017

As D&Dcember continues, I thought I would continue to work on my campaign and do a little thinking of the possible player character races. I used the Player’s Handbook as a guide but I am toying with offering more options as I flesh out the greater world a little bit. There are definitely other races in the world but it might be a little too complicated to offer them as player options especially since some of them are rare or inconvenient. Anyway, I have decided to spend much of my time this month that is not taken up by work or the upcoming holidays working on this and connected projects.

Elves

Elves are quite possibly the first creatures to walk the earth. Their blood and bodies are closely attuned to the magic of the World as the first elves were carefully crafted from a deep primordial magic. Elves have been around so long that they cannot even remember everything their race has done. Ancient structures were abandoned in times of war only to be forgotten in new lands. Their language has also evolved beyond what it has been in the past mostly because they have to deal with the younger races and these new experiences inform and enrich their lives. Older elves are more likely to be more somber as there is not much that surprises them anymore and their young adventures are well behind them. Of course, this means that younger elves (and young is a relative term here) are often more eager to join the world and explore the world the older generations have given them. Elves end up being a bit judgy about the activities of the younger races, forgetting that the younger races often do not have the equivalent benefit of experience.

Humans

The youngest race created on purpose, humans have the ingenuity of gnomes combined with the size of elves and some of the hardiness of dwarves. Humans were made without the magic that elves are born having deep in the core of their being. Earlier humans sought that magic, which led to pacts with all sorts of things to even the playing field with every creature out to dominate the continent. These warlocks were the first human magic users and a lot of them were not trusted. Others decided to go another route and worked on their physical prowess and weapon skills. The first wizards emerged sometime later as humans were able to obtain knowledge from the older races and joined in innovating new magicks. Twenty years ago, the wild magic finally found humanity and their first sorcerers emerged. Humans are the most prevalent species on the continent (with Orcs coming in second) and are just about everywhere. Humans have way more variety in their appearance than the other races.

Half-Elves

When human and elf relations started to pick up, a lot of humans were fascinated with their fey-touched cousins. It was only a matter of time before physical and romantic relationships sparked up. It turns out that the two were more compatible than they had both previously thought. The first Half-Elf children were a surprise to everyone (except maybe the Gods who had created both races). This first generation was caught in a sort of limbo. Neither elf nor human, their respective parents did not know what to do with these new children at first. Sure, they were part of loving families but it was difficult at first, especially since, at that time, humans had not yet discovered their capacity for magic. Now that humans have figured out magic, the two races have warmed to the benefits of these progenies. The existence of this hybrid race has drawn the worlds of elves and man closer together and it has brought many elves away from their lofty enclaves to live among the other races.

Dwarves

Dwarves are an ancient race born deep under the land. Born near the roots of the earth, they were the first to harness the ore that they found there. As they extracted that ore, they were left an abundance of rock. Many dwarves not involved in the actual mining became master stone crafters and this, in turn, led to the discovery of dwarven runes. Dwarves became the first to discover techniques to imbue the magic of the world into physical objects. They remain the foremost experts at enchanting but their enchanters are always eager to get their hands on other races’ work to stay ahead of the curve. In a similar way, dwarves can be great students of architecture and often go on walkabouts from their underground civilizations to check out how the rest of the world is building things. Some dwarves also tire of the heat of the forges and the threats from things in the mines and journey away to live out in the open.

Halflings (Hin)

It is theorized both that “Halflings” were a first attempt at creating humans or a second attempt at creating gnomes. Neither theory has been proven but, of course, neither could be proven conclusively. For the most part, the Hin (as they are rightfully called) are a happy folk who are content to farm the land and create rural communities. However, every race has those struck by wanderlust and the Hin are no different. Their small, yet hardy stature allows easy access to all sorts of mischief. Many traditions of the roguish variety came from those first members of the Hin who left home and found that sticky fingers could be a benefit. In fact, the special language Thieves Cant evolved at first from an obscure Hin “tapping language” on the walls of their tunnel-like houses. Although they are small in stature, many have achieved more than the humans twice their size and nothing is really out of their reach when they put their minds to a problem.

Gnomes

Gnomes are very rare to see in the surface world these days. Gnome flesh must be tasty to orcs and other nasty critters because the tiniest race was facing extinction at some point. Of course, as far as most on the continent know, gnomes may still be endangered and some may not have realized that the gnomes are not extinct. Gnome culture and knowledge adapted to the world. Gnomes became more secretive and protective. They went back underground like the dwarves and only a few gnomes live in towns and cities on the continent. Those who do are usually very security-minded. In fact, gnomes are largely responsible for the advances in locks on the continent and have come up with some particularly nasty mechanisms. Gnome burrows are often situated in secret locations near Dwarf settlements and they are often meticulously clean and efficient towns. They often have a deal with Dwarven mining operations to help fix their equipment and innovate new ways to obtain ore.

Tieflings

Tieflings were once humans but at some point in their lineage, demonic energy twisted their family line and children were then born with red skin, tails, and horns among other demonic traits. Their infernal blood gives them abilities different from normal humans. Tieflings are rare in Eloria, mostly because there were not a multitude of families affected. Many Tieflings are from families who made pacts with Visna’s forces or Visna himself during his first attempted invasion. Other Tieflings in the area come from other lands or even other planes. Tieflings are not well liked by many in Eloria since there are still bad memories connected to demons and it is hard to separate their lineage from who they might be now. Tieflings are both good and bad, the bad ones pretty much lack the backing of Visna so they have to be more subtle.

Half-Orcs

The progeny of both humans and orcs, the half-orcs are not accepted by either race. These mutts are often spotted on the edges of society either in slums or in the wilds. There are exceptions, of course, but most of them are proud outcasts. Many of them chose to renounce their human heritage and work hand in hand with orcs. Others work harder to endear themselves to humans and other races in an effort to make their lot in life a little easier. They are tough and strong and harder to put down than a human. They are easy to spot by their grayish-green skin, tusk-like incisors, and abnormally tall height. Scars are not uncommon in some communities of half-orcs as they often lack proper medical care either physical or magical.

Dragonborn

The Dragonborn are incredibly rare on the entire continent. They are a humanoid race which has a lot of traits in common with dragons. They are scaled beings that walk on two legs. Most of them are bigger than your average human and some are even born with tails. Their scales come in every color that dragons come in. Chromatic Dragonborn are treated with almost as much disgust and fear as the chromatic dragons they resemble. However, they do not have the innate reality warping abilities that dragons do. Metallic Dragonborns are more tolerated although misguided prejudice does exist. In reality, no color of the spectrum is more likely to be evil than any other. Chromatic Dragonborn are often nurtured to be evil and are more likely to identify with the old stories of chromatic dragons.

Redcross Pt. 12

December 9, 2017

Redcross

“What do you mean by that, Sheriff?” Reverend Roy Simmons asked. “I am just a simple small town reverend at a Methodist church.”

“Bullshit, Reverend,” Sarah said. “Twice now you’ve come to the rescue with that rifle of yours. I didn’t think they taught that at any seminary school.”

“Maybe I wasn’t always a reverend, Sheriff,” Simmons said. He folded his arms across his chest and for a moment, Sarah thought she might have gotten things wrong. But only for a moment.

“Which circles us back to me asking what you are,” Sarah said. The two of them locked eyes and Sarah started to stare him down. She had trained this particular skill by being hardheaded with her father. He was a hard man when he had to be and he had not let Sarah get away with a whole lot unless she fought for it. Nowadays, she mostly used the look on rowdy kids in town but it was also well-suited for grown adults who had something to be guilty about. After only a moment, Simmons sighed and took a step back into the church.

“Come on in,” Simmons said. “Do you want some coffee?” He started walking off toward the kitchen even before she could answer.

Sarah walked through the door and nodded. “Please and thank you, Reverend.”

Sarah walked into the church. She had had some difficulty attending the church for a while after her father died. In the aftermath, Sarah had been named the new sheriff by most of the important people in town. It was not pity that guided the town to elect her. She had been close to her father and knew what went into the job. The job had consumed her that first week and then several of the weeks that followed. Once she resurfaced, getting back into the routine of going to church was not an easy task. It was important to the town for the sheriff to be there, though, no matter what her feelings might be. Now she went every Sunday but her recent suspicions about Reverend Simmons threw all of that on its ear.

Simmons came back with the coffee and they sat down in the little sitting area just off from the sanctuary. Simmons waited for Sarah to sit first which annoyed her a little in the moment but she went ahead and sat instead of arguing over pettier things. When organized, unkillable mountain lions were doing battle with wolves in the streets of Essex, it was not the time to quibble over niceties. Sarah sipped her coffee, eyes locked on the Reverend. They were both silent for a few moments as Sarah waited for the Reverend to start talking and the Reverend seemed quite comfortable in silence.

“So Reverend,” Sara said. “Do you want to answer the question or do you want to continue evading it in favor of coffee and a pleasant chat?”

“I have never evaded a question before, Sarah,” Reverend Simmons said before sipping his coffee.

Sarah’s eyes narrowed slightly. “That’s too close to a lie, Reverend. I saw you make shots a normal man wouldn’t hit in a million years last night. You also carried yourself well with that rifle out near the mine. You can trust me, Reverend, I just want to trust you again myself.”

Simmons took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. “I served in the army for a time. They trained me and apparently, I displayed natural talents with firearms. Eventually, my way of thinking did not align with that of the Army and I requested my leave. Once that was granted, I was lost and found myself with the Salvation Army at Lochiel where I discovered a penchant for preaching so I chose to do that instead of fighting. The church here in Essex was empty so I eventually came to lend my voice.”

“I hadn’t heard the Army part of that story before,” Sarah said. “I had heard the rest. What do you mean when you say you didn’t get along in the Army?”

“I’m not a violent man,” Simmons said with a shrug.

“I would be liable to believe that if I hadn’t seen you with that rifle, Reverend,” Sarah said. Something was not adding up with his story. If he had forgone violence, why keep the rifle? he knew for a fact that Simmons didn’t hunt which also put what he was doing out near the mine in question as well. Even if what he said had been a hundred percent true, something just did not feel right.

“I am not a violent man,” Simmons said again. “or at least I don’t want to be. I wasn’t into fighting Indians or Mexicans. I felt like there was a greater purpose out there.”

Sarah smiled a bit at that. “I can commend you for not going after the natives or the Mexicans.” She thought of Senora Chilton, the woman who had warmed over Death himself. “So, was your greater calling the church or something else?”

“I’m not sure how much I want to reveal, Sheriff,” Simmons said. “No offense.”

“Reverend Roy Simmons,” Sarah said in her most authoritative voice. It was stern, it was hard and it could command a room when she pulled that voice out. “After last night and what we saw at the mine, this town is in trouble. People are talking all sorts of lunacy out there. If you know anything that could help us then it is time to spill everything.”

Roy Simmons watched her for a moment and then set his cup aside and then watched her again. “I found something else in Lochiel besides my faith.  I found a greater calling, one I never thought I would have to answer again.  I am part of a secret organization that has existed for centuries. It is called the Order of the Red Cross.”

Sarah’s eyes popped open at that name.


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