Archive for December, 2018

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 4

December 31, 2018

19 – If you could choose any one spell to be able to cast once per day in real life, which would you choose?

In my life, I walk a lot. Until recently, I was working downtown and I took the train and walked to work every day and walked back at the end of the day. After that, I walked to the gym and back. I love to walk because it gives me more control than driving and it is good for me. Accordingly, I think I would pick a spell like Longstrider because it increases your movement speed by ten feet per turn. It would make it that much safer to walk to my destination and I could walk that much further on one of my walks. It also lasts a whole hour which is about the length of my longest walk. Similarly, I was also eyeing Misty Step. Walking in a city there are so many times where I am waiting to cross the street for a long time. This can make me antsy when I am short on time or closing in on being late for work. Being able to instantly appear on the other side of the street would be so awesome. Not to mention if I am in a tight spot, I can suddenly be up to 30 feet away. Yesterday (the 30th) I was in a big crowd and to suddenly be out of that crowd would be a blessing.

20 – What is your favorite legendary artifact or item?

Hands down it has to be the Iron Flask. The Iron Flask does not look like much but it is a very powerful item. It has the power to capture any being from another plane when you speak the command word. It basically turns you into a ghostbuster but you can bust way more than ghosts. The list of fun beings that you can capture with the Iron Flask is pretty long. Demons, devils, elementals, djinni, hags, planetar, and so much more can be trapped as long as they do not beat the wisdom save. The other part of the Iron Flask is that it binds any creature you catch in it to your will. If you catch something and speak the command word again, the creature will come out of the flask and it will obey your commands for up to one hour. There are so many uses for this. Horribly outmatched or outnumbered in a fight? You suddenly have a fire elemental who has your back. What if you need to know the plans of an archdevil who has a plan threatening a city? You can capture and command a devil to advise you how to outthink your enemy. There are just so many practical and story options that can be enhanced by a simple Iron Flask.

21 – What is your favorite dungeon type or location?

If I am understanding the question correctly, I would have to pick the Feywild. The Feywild is a crazy place. As the name would suggest, it is where the majority of faeries live and therefore it is infused with way more wild magic. Like the faerie legends of our world, the Feywild is incredibly dangerous. The plant and animal life are deadly, there is poison everywhere, the denizens are often actively trying to trick or kill outsiders, and the very landscape shifts around the players. It is very easy for players to get lost in the Feywild and that is so much fun because it gives the dungeon master so much control. It is an area where you can easily fit in fun side quests or dangerous fights without any collateral damage on the world they have created. In addition, when exiting the Feywild and going back to the material plane, the players can experience time dilation and/or memory loss. So it provides options for time travel and mindwipes. I think my second favorite location would be Sigil. Sigil is the City of Doors, an extraplanar location that is connected to literally everywhere else. As such it is a great big grab bag of every weirdo in any plane of existence. Any creature, race, or faction you can think of can possibly show up in Sigil. Like Feywild, it also provides a somewhat malleable and ever-shifting topography so it is really versatile as well.

22 – Do you usually like to take Ability Score Improvements or feats as you level?

I usually like to improve my ability scores because it helps more with crappier roles and improves overall stats. The last time I had the choice I leveled up constitution which made me heartier against things like poison and gave me a ton of hit points. As the tank, it made more sense than any feat. However, if I had been a more versatile character, it might have made more sense to take a feat. For example, a rogue with Dungeon Delver would have advantage on a lot of opportunities to detect traps and hidden doors which is often a rogue’s prime directive. I have thought if I played a monk that I would absolutely take the Grappler feat as a tribute to my love of professional wrestling. I also like the ability to be able to stop enemies in their tracks with the option to put them in the dirt to give the rest of the party an edge. I guess it all comes down to two things for me. The first consideration is always character. If it does not make sense for a character to take a feat story-wise then I will not take it. The other consideration is if I really want a fun new ability or edge to the character. So far, I have not taken a feat but that may change in the future.

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The Faith of the Raven Pt. 8

December 29, 2018

The adventurers lept into action immediately. Carania ran directly at the two zombie goliaths. They swung their fists but Carania narrowly dodged their attacks. While the zombies were distracted, Galath pointed his holy symbol and there was a brilliant flash. The goliaths turned away in fear from the divine light and started to run but they accidentally ran into each other and fell to the ground in a tangle. Carania descended on them and slashed at them and then pierced both with her sword. Arne finished it by setting them on fire as Carania moved to safety. The zombies did not react as they started to burn to ash. Carania guessed that they did not even feel the flames.

Carania gripped her sword tighter and trudged toward the King of Crows. She stopped short when she saw that the King had a knife up against one of his captives’ throats. She heard Arne and Galath halt as well. She grunted and glared at the man. Close up, she could see how pathetic he looked. He was old and scared and Carania felt all of the adrenaline leave her system and she grew calm as death. The captive, a young girl, was shaking but Carania did her best to offer a reassuring look.

“Leave the girl and deal with me,” Carania said. “Face me fairly.” She gripped her sword tightly, calm but tense like a wound spring. Her years of training had prepared her for these moments and she was not about to back down.

“Three against one is no fair fight,” The King said. His voice sounded a bit like a cawing crow. “Give me but a moment and I’ll summon up some friends.”

“No more moments, Crow,” Carania said. “My Lady of Ravens has requested I deal with you by sending you to meet her. Your time is up. I would not want to disappoint her as you have done.”

“If I go then I won’t be going alone!” The King crowed out and dragged the knife across the girl’s throat with a sick smile on his face. He started to chant something, waving his fingers.

The moment that followed felt like it flowed like molasses. Carania shouted wordlessly in anger and shock. She ran forward and stabbed the King of Crows hard through the stomach. His face seemed to freeze in surprise for an eternity. At the same time, Galath grabbed the girl and laid hands on her, healing the wound with holy light. Carania looked up into the branches above as the symbols of Nerull clattered to the forest floor. The ravens were up there in the trees, dozens of them, and they were glaring down at the necromancer. Carania smiled and calmly dragged the point of her sword across his throat as she mouthed a little prayer to Azrea.

As Carania stepped away, the ravens descended on the body of the King of Crows. She turned away and let them have it. She suspected it was their right as vassals of Azrea. She tried not to think of the sounds the birds made as they tore at the corpse. Arne was busy burning the symbols and tokens of Nerull and instantly the forest seemed to feel brighter. It was as if a fog was lifted and the evil evaporated from the fabric of the place. Carania walked over to Galath and the young girl. The paladin wore concern on her face.

“How is she Galath?” Carania asked. “Will she make it?”

“She will,” Galath said, looking up at Carania with a relieved smile. “She’s lucky a healer was so close by.”

“She’s also lucky the Talons were here,” Arne said.

Carania looked back over her shoulder. “Wait, who are the Talons?”  She asked.

“Just a suggestion for our little group’s name,” Arne said. “In honor of your patron, the Queen of Ravens.”

“I like the sound of it,” Carania said. “I think we’ll add it to our official introduction. I think we’ll be saying it a lot if we continue these fights.”

“I think you’re right,” Arne said.

“I agree,” Galath said. “I think this is exactly what we should be doing.”

Arne walked over and knocked on the cage holding the necromancer’s captives and the lock shattered and the door opened. The people started streaming out of the cage. They thanked the three adventurers profusely. Carania and Arne gave them directions back to town while Galath treated the most grievous wounds. As he did, Carania heard a noise from behind. The young girl was waking up. Carania knelt beside her. The girl was an elf so it was hard to judge her age but the light in her eyes looked very young. She had not yet reached physical maturity. She glanced around and saw no other elves which confused her.

“Are you alright?” She asked. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you from that pain.”

“You tried,” the girl said. “and you saved us.”

“What is your name?” Carania asked. She smiled at the girl, remembering when her former charge had been this young.

“Taryn Moonglow,” the girl said.

“Are you here with someone?” Carania asked.

“No,” Taryn said. “I came here alone. I was on my way back home when I was surprised by these men.” She sat up a little, taking deep breaths as she took it slow.

“Where do you live? I could take you there. We could take you there,” Carania said.

“The Fangleth Forest,” Taryn said. “I live among druids like me among the trees.”

“The Fangleth?” Carania asked. “What brings you out this far?”

“I came here to fetch a rare flower that grows here,” Taryn said. “It is the Southern Star Flower.” She pulled a dark purple, five-petaled flower from her cloak and held it up for Carania could see. “It can be used to heal some of my people from a specific curse.”

“Well, perhaps we can help with that too,” Arne said.

“Really?” The girl asked.

“Of course,” Carania said and took the girl’s hand. “The Talons are here to help.”

Sorry

December 27, 2018

So, as you might expect, this past week was pretty intense. After the emotional blow of losing my friend Joe, I headed back to my mother’s place in West Virginia. I drove through a horrendous thunderstorm to get there. So, after a funeral and a stressful drive, I crashed hard. The next morning I was back at work wrapping Christmas presents both for myself and for other people in the family. That night the rest of the family arrived and suddenly there was controlled chaos. That chaos lasted from the 22nd to the 26th. Even with my anxiety meds, an introvert such as me was often overwhelmed. Still, it was much better than it has been in a long time. I worked my butt off washing dishes, helping people locate things in the house, and making sure Christmas went off without a hitch. I do love Christmas (not as much as Halloween) and I wanted everybody else to love it too. The good news is that it definitely went smoothly and everybody was happy.

As for myself, I tried to keep up my usual Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve, I did my annual viewing of A Nightmare Before Christmas. As years go by, I appreciate that movie more and more. I definitely appreciated the Making Christmas song all the more after having a big hand in making Christmas for my family. Tonight (Wednesday the 26th) I traded presents privately with one of my brothers, my mother, and my stepfather. I like giving gifts face to face so I can get the full gift-giving high and we can both be happy together. I like to give gifts without lists so I can surprise people and I have a pretty good track record. I have had no complaints in the past ten years or so.

I am saying all of this because I am just a wee bit burnt out. So, there will be no Media Update this week. I have two rationalizations for this: 1) The aforementioned post-Holiday exhaustion and 2) it is my birthday in two days and it is a gift to myself. I have not skipped an edition of Media Update for years and I would love to continue the streak but I just will not force myself to do it. I am watching plenty of stuff, though, and I will tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, I will spend some quiet time with close family and relax a bit before Saturday’s post which will be the last one of 2018.

On a related note, thank you to everyone who read even a single post of this blog this past year. It was the biggest year for the blog yet and made posting my crazy ramblings even more fun. I hope to continue the fun next year and keep playing with words. Here’s to 2019 being a brighter year all around!

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 3

December 24, 2018

14 – What was your most epic fail in a game?

It was with my character Bron and it is a story about turning an epic fail into a success. Our party was hatching a plan to infiltrate the thieves guild hideout in Waterdeep. It was apparently their headquarters and training facility. It was decided democratically to split the party and have the rogue, the druid, and the bard actually do the infiltrating. The party did not trust my half-orc barbarian or the dwarf in full plate armor to do a lot of stealth. The cleric and the sorcerer were tasked with babysitting us and causing a distraction. The distraction we decided on was for us to be riding a carriage which would have a mysterious breakdown outside of headquarters. Our dwarf paladin would make a fuss and we would hopefully draw away some guards to allow our team easier passage. Our rogue who was also a tinkerer failed his roll on sabotaging the cart to lose its wheel. We rode around the block while we tried to think of what to do. My barbarian got bored with that and decided to jump out of the carriage and just hit the wheel. It was not the best plan but it fit my character’s lack of patience. The bigger problem with calling this audible was that the carriage was still moving and so he jumped out of the carriage and was promptly run over by said carriage. The good news was that we now had our distraction as my now bloody barbarian lay in the street hollering at the cleric. It was one of those moments where I slapped my forehead and then laughed and shrugged. There were quite a few of those moments with Bron.

15 – What was your most epic moment in a game?

It was kind of a small moment but it happened during our second dungeon crawl. My barbarian was not with the rest of the group because he liked them. He took the original job posting because he was itching to fight again. He wanted to be challenged and show his might and power to the world. He stuck with the party because they kept getting into interesting fights where he could show how tough he was. When we went into our second dungeon, a hideout for a criminal organization, we happened upon a wizard who was up to no good. Confronted by seven adventurers he thought discretion was the better part of valor and he tried to run away. My barbarian was the first to get close to him and he turned around and hit me with a suggestion spell and told me “fight your friends”. I rolled high and shook off the spell and grunted “what friends?” and kept up the pursuit. It drew a cheer from the rest of the party and it was an exhilarating moment even though I have to admit to being excited about fighting the other PCs. I actually won two successful saves against suggestion in that dungeon which was great for somebody with an 8 charisma. It made me feel great to be able to succeed on a roll I was weak at. A little later, the rogue failed the same check but worded as “stop your friends” so he got to use less lethal tactics. My barbarian did not know what less lethal means.

16 – What is your favorite mundane item?

I would have to pick the torch. A lot of backgrounds throw them in for free but you do not always need them. For example, two-thirds of our party have darkvision and can navigate dark dungeons pretty easily. However, our rogue and cleric are helpless in the dark and tossing around a few lit torches can do wonders to level the playing field. Also, my barbarian is mostly good for slashing and smashing things. There are definitely monsters we have come upon that required a different approach. For example, the slimes we fought reacted to slashing damage by splitting into two slimes. For once, my barbarian actually used his head and pulled out a torch and swung at the slimes to do fire damage. It must have been memories of his warlock warchieftain using fire spells in battle. Such bittersweet memories.

17 – What is your favorite magical item?

It may be simple but I am a sucker for the flying broom. Maybe this comes from the fact that I enjoyed Wizard of Oz as a kid and I am such a big fan of Halloween now. Also, Strix of Dice, Camera, Action has a flying broom and it has given her so many tactical advantages. It also worked to similar effect for Vex’ahlia on season one of Critical Role. As with the Wrath of Khan, once you start thinking of the possibilities of three-dimensional battle, you are going to do so much better. Being able to fly avoids traps, helps solve puzzles, and keeps you out of reach of enemies. A wizard can more easily drop a fireball behind a crowd of enemies without harming their associates but also without as much risk. The imagery is difficult to resist as well, a character zooming through the air on a magical broom while the rest of your party has to walk. It just has a cool factor that I find appealing.

18 – If you could learn one cantrip in real life, which would you choose and why?

Honestly, I would probably choose Prestidigitation. While there are plenty of cantrips that are useful in battle situations, I do not find myself in battle often. Where I do find myself is going into the office every day. To go to that office, I must be dressed well and look presentable. One of the key powers of Prestidigitation is to clean one cubic foot of material. This means that I can magically dry clean my clothes while they are still on my body in case of a spill or stain. For a bonus, another power you get with that cantrip is the ability to heat or chill non-living matter. So, I would no longer need a microwave at work. It also gives me the ability to mark an object or surface with a color, small mark, or a symbol. So, it would make explaining what color something was or what something looked like without just using my words. Beyond that, the other cantrip I was considering was Mending. Mending allows you to fix a break or tear in an object up to one foot in length. So if I drop a plate or a light bulb, I can fix it as if I never dropped it. Old family heirlooms would be safe forever from accidental damage. All sorts of uses.

DnD Poetry

December 22, 2018

I have been out of town for a while now, working for a firm in West Virginia. Yesterday, I traveled back home to attend the funeral of a dear friend who we lost unexpectedly. He was part of our regular tabletop gaming group and an inspirational man and friend. I will miss him greatly as will my friends. My mind is a little distracted from mourning and wrapping tons of presents for Christmas (as a favor to my family). Here are some poems I wrote that I saved in my draft folder when I thought that I was going to do DnDCember this year. Instead, I have done D&D posts every month this year or at least that is how it feels. So here you go, horrible poetry. Be good to each other. There will be a post on Christmas and it should be happier.

But before that, I need to tell you about my friend Joe. He was part of the tabletop gaming group I am in which is how we met. He welcomed me into his home, fed me, and called me a friend when I did not have many in Baltimore. He was such a good man. He was rarely serious unless he needed to be. When it was time to goof off, he was there to lighten the mood and laugh louder than anybody else. Even when the joke was on him and, with his self-deprecating humor, he was a common target for gags in a group setting. He never let such things bother him and gave as good as he got if not better. When the chips were down, he was always there to help any way he could along with a smile. When our group went out to the movies, he was the one who bought the tickets. He was the ringleader and the touchstone for the group.

He was a doctor who worked in veterinary sciences and epidemiology. Something, I often forgot about because he almost never brought it up (except when he wanted to win an argument about animals). Of course, he is the same man who completely misgendered a cat he and his wife fostered. He was incredibly smart but never used that to make anyone feel powerless or inferior. To him, it seemed like it was just something he was good at, knowing we all have our strengths. Joe definitely knew his strengths and made the best of them. He used those strengths to create a family and an extended family made up of friends and coworkers. I would find it hard to believe anybody who said they did not like Joe.

What I will always remember are our endless pop culture discussions. We had differing views on music but we never clashed. My stance was that there is good music being made after 1990 and that automatically rejecting whole genres is close-minded. His response was to always just play his favorite songs from the seventies and eighties. He was a man who knew what he liked and I still respect that. He certainly knew his movies too even though he and the rest of our crew always drove me crazy by talking during the movie. I cannot deny his passion for life, love, and art. As a self-proclaimed poet, I loved that and I still love that. He was great to talk to about movies because even though I did not always share his opinion, I always respected that he had one. We certainly agreed on a lot and disagreeing was always more about fun to me than an actual argument. That is the personal thing between us that I will most of all.

I just wanted to let you all know just a fraction about him as we observe his passing.

Now the poetry:

The runes were written round and round
The staff of Elris the Shadow Hound
With a magic specialty in evocation
He protected a young version of our nation
From demon hordes and undead throngs
But not for fame, tales, or songs
And not for gems or any coin
It was not nobility he wished to join
He did it because it made him pissed
To see the land’s people so dismissed
From his fury he drew his power
In Eloria’s darkest hour
When the fight was at last won
He faded into the setting sun
Nobody knows where he went
Or even if he was godsent
All we know is that he was what we needed
So his lesson should indeed be heeded

Oh for an end to all the chanting of spellcasters!
Mumbling, stumbling, wordy Wizards
What if I was trying to be stealthy?
What then? Oh learned one?
Oh Master of Memorization
I am trying to sneak up behind our foe
Then you start speaking your silly spells and
The fight begins prematurely
How’s that for a big word, Oh Learned one?
It means that you started before I was ready
Ready to drive one of my blades
Between the shoulder blades of our enemy
The enemy that is now chewing on your face
While I fume here, trying to make the best of it
And yet you think you’re better than me
Smarter than me, maybe. But not better.
I have picked a thousand locks
Stolen countless treasures
While you sat at a desk and studied
And then you ruin the whole attack plan
Just goes to show that educated does not mean smart
Please don’t turn me into a newt again

There once was a dragon in Norway
Too big to fit through the doorway
While it raged outside
Inside did we hide
Because we lacked significant swordplay

Justice and Revenge
Justice is done in the day
In the night, revenge

Things in the Feywild
Shift and change all of the time
Keep your wits about

 

And, in honor of my friend Joe:

Please loot the bodies
Or else, how will we profit?
Gold is all we need

Media Update 12/20/18

December 20, 2018


Mercy Christmas

Most people who observe Christmas as a holiday want to spend it with people who at least tolerate them. I spend every Christmas with my mother and at least one of my brothers and some combination of other family members. The one year that I had to work in another state while other people were back home celebrating was painful. So, I can understand somebody wanting to be loved on Christmas and jumping at any chance to be together with anybody on Christmas. In this movie, that feeling leads to bad things for our loveable hero. While this was a simple horror movie, it actually had a lot of heart. It is about family dynamics, office politics, and Christmas. It is also about cannibalism. It is obviously cheaply made but I could not help but like the actors involved as they tried their best on a low budget. That low budget did not impede a fairly good story and an interesting concept. The movie has a momentum to it that made it hard not to love by the end of it. The ending is chaotic and fun and totally earned and strangely fitting for Christmas. Remember, Christmas is as much about the family you choose as the family you are born with or marry into. I recommend this movie.


Red Christmas

I was attracted to this movie because it stars Dee Wallace, a veteran of so many horror movies. She was in both The Hills Have Eyes and Critters, both of which I watched for the first time this year. When I found out she was in this new Christmas movie, I felt I had to check it out. Ultimately, I am glad that I did. However, I was about to shut it off at first. By ten minutes in I kind of hated the family together on Christmas who would not stop bickering. Also, it was inexplicably set in Australia even though half the cast was not Australian. I stuck with it and it got better. Once the actual horror elements started, I saw that the family stuck together when the chips were down. Also, there were so many low key good elements to the movie. For one, I loved how they depicted panic with the camera shaking and going out of focus. I also liked Dee Wallace who was the shining star of the film. I also liked the action that kept guessing what was going to happen next. I feel that it is rare when I am too surprised by horror films anymore. The movie felt kind of like The Hills Have Eyes in that a defenseless family is caught off guard and besieged by a superior killer. The cinematography very much reminded me of seventies classics like Hills or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie kept me guessing here and there and was utterly brutal but kind of fun. I definitely recommend it as well.


The Elf

I find the whole tradition of the “Elf on a Shelf” to be really, really creepy. The concept of Santa always watching you is unnerving enough but to have something in your house watching, judging, and reporting is crazy. I always thought it was a natural subject for a horror movie and finally, somebody tackled it. Of course, they had to use a different doll because the official one is trademarked. However, this movie is plagued with problems. The acting is so wooden that I wondered if I was not watching a bad dub of a foreign movie. The plot makes little sense mostly because almost nothing is explained. They drop the viewer into the middle of a weird story without really giving any lore or explanation. The characters come up with some of it but the viewer is not shown how they come to these conclusions. The camera work is very shoddy and uninteresting as well which is sad. The actors’ audio is not properly recorded so the dialogue is muddled. Although considering the acting, that might be doing them a favor. The only thing I found interesting was the brief bits of puppetry or animation done with the doll. Except that the doll’s kills are not shown and instead we see them through jumpy, confusing camera shots from the doll’s point of view. It was a bit of a letdown and it made me hope that somebody else tries this concept again. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Gwen Stefani – Cheer For The Elves

The Dollyrots – Because I’m Santa

Lindsey Stirling ft. Sabrina Carpenter – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Aloe Blacc – Funky Ass Christmas

Fantasia – The Snow Is Falling

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Blood for Christmas”
– I finished Hilda Season 1
– I finished Happy! Season 1
– I watched more Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I started watching Designated Survivor Season 2
– Merry Christmas!
– RIP Joseph Van Tiem

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 2

December 17, 2018

8 – What Is Your Favorite Player Character of Your Own?

He is named Bron. As you might suspect from the first part of this questionnaire, he is a half-orc barbarian. He was born to an orc tribe and has very little experience with other half-orcs. His mother was an orc, part of a marauding tribe that ransacked villages and killed wayfarers. His father was a captive human ranger. You do the math. He was bullied by the other members of his tribe but he proved his strength over and over. He was forced to raid villages like the others in the tribe by their warlock leader. He decided the only way to get respect was to become the leader of the tribe. However, the pureblood orcs saw this as an affront and killed him. At least, they tried to but a mysterious stranger calling herself the Noonday witch saved him and sent him toward Waterdeep for an as yet unexplained reason. There he experienced city life for the first time working as a bouncer, indulging his thirst for battle but only slightly. He jumped at a chance for adventure and he has since proved his might several times over. He started out Chaotic Neutral and grumpy but he has slowly accepted his party over time.

9 – If You Were a D&D character What Race and Class Would You Be?

I think that I would be a Wizard. I have always loved research and I think I would be great at memorizing and learning new spells. I would carry around my spellbook with pride. I am very good at memorization and I am a total geek when it comes to something I am excited about. Granted, I would probably not be an adventurer. I do not have a disposition for adventure in my own life and I definitely do not run towards danger. I have a good head on my shoulders and I want it to stay there. I would probably set up shop somewhere as an enchanter. It would also be a great chance to experiment with magic and try to find new ways of doing things. I think I would want to be a gnome. I have experience with being the smallest in the room and gnomes are generally better at being inventors. As I would not be an adventurer, I would have no need to be big and strong.

10 – If You Could Have A Stat Increase In Real Life, Which Would You Choose and Why?

I would have to say charisma would be my choice. It has always been my weak point as I have detailed on this blog before. If I had a better ability to speak to people and attract attention, I might get farther in life. I am sociable and I can make people laugh and tell a story but I feel like I do not stand out in a crowd and I am fairly forgettable. It would be nice to be just a tad more “famous” among my peers. My first attempt at a tabletop RPG showed me just how far I am from being a dashing bard even though I would love that life. A lot of the other stats can be increased through hard work. Wisdom comes with age, strength comes with exercise, and dexterity with practice. I suppose more constitution would not be a bad thing so I could be a little sturdier and hardier than I am.

11 – If You Could Take Any One Feat In Real Life, What Would It Be?

I think it would have to be the Keen Mind feat. Keen Mind allows for the following: “Your intelligence goes up by one point, you always know which way is north, you always know what time it is, and you remember absolutely everything you have seen or heard from the past month.” (Paraphrasing). Making it hard to get lost and being a human watch are definitely pluses but it is the final feature that attracts me. Having everything I have seen or heard for an entire month in a card catalog (ask your parents kids) in my head which allowed me to bring up details I needed at the moment would be awesome. The feat seems to imply that the memories are manageable which means bad memories should not be intrusive. My runner-up choice would probably be Observant which makes one able to read lips and also makes one massively more perceptive. That would also be incredibly useful.

12 – If you were a god in a D&D universe, what would your domain be?

My domain would be knowledge. Knowledge is something that I have always prized. I soak up trivia and I love learning new things every day. I believe in the power of stories to change lives and help us make sense of our world. More specifically, given the choice, I would love to be a benign god of stories. I could not actually find one of those specifically in the canon lore and I think it is something great to have. The bards and scribes need somebody to call on. I envision myself as sort of a cosmic librarian, recording new stories and maintaining the old ones. Sending the ones in danger of being forgotten back to the world as inspiration. It sounds like something I would enjoy and be good at. I consider myself a good person so I would be on the side of good, favoring the heroes and good people of the land.

13 – Are you listening/watching any Dungeons and Dragons content right now? If So, What?

I have already told you about Critical Role but I guess I could clue you into one of the other two campaigns I am following. It is Dice, Camera, Action which is sponsored by Wizards of the Coast. The Dungeon Master is Chris Perkins who is a writer for Dungeons and Dragons so he is well-equipped to take the characters through official modules and tweak them along the way. Holly Conrad plays Strix who is a tiefling sorcerer who is a self-described trash witch. She is a pile of insecurities due to her rough upbringing in Sigil and being homeless for a long time afterward. Jared Knabenbauer plays Diath Woodrow, a human rogue who has never stolen a single thing. Instead, he has worked hard to be an honest adventurer who tries to lead with confidence. Anna Prosser Robinson plays Evelyn Marthain, a human paladin of Lathander and quite a fountain of positivity even though she can be quite the evangelist. Nathan Sharp plays Paultin Seppa, a human bard with a serious alcohol problem and a malleable code of ethics who always seems to come through in the end. It is a great story in a campaign where bad things always seem to be happening to the party but they are really good at turning chicken shit into chicken salad.

Fairytown

December 15, 2018

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Princess Cuddlebottom sure was a funny name but there was nothing funny about her getting murdered. The incident had happened in Mount Washington and Detective Danielson was glad that no kids had been around to see it. He was a little surprised to see that a fairy had traveled this far from Fairytown. It did go down outside of a school so maybe she had just been trying to get a glimpse of the kids. Most fairies love kids and many missed being around them. Danielson shrugged and pulled out his notepad and began writing down his impressions. He spotted Detective Waters making her way over.

“I’m surprised you would show up this early, Waters,” he said with a smirk.

“Are you kidding?” She said, holding out a cup of coffee. “You know I’m always there when fairies are involved. Though, this is a bit out of our usual jurisdiction.”

“Our beat is Fairytown so when something happens to fairies, we get involved anywhere in the metropolitan area,” he said. He took the cup of coffee and took a sip with a smile. She may not have been a morning person but Waters could remember how he liked his coffee.

“Lucky us,” she said without a hint of sarcasm. Ah to be young again. “Is this where it happened?” She asked as she walked over to the roped off area. Her face grew more serious when she saw the blood. It looked like somebody had spilled sparkly nail polish but anybody who knew the real story could tell what it was. It turned Danielson’s stomach a little bit and obviously it had a greater effect on his partner. “Steady on, Waters. They’re counting on us to solve this one.”

Waters nodded slowly and composed herself. “I’ve never seen their blood before,” she said. “Do they all bleed glitter like that?”

There was the clicking sound of a lighter as Doctor Gabriella Stone walked up, smoking a cigarette. “Not all of them do,” she said. “There’s a whole rainbow of colors and some of them even bleed oily black.”

“Oh joy,” Danielson said. “What luck to have Charm City’s most sociable medical examiner join us on this beautiful autumn morning.”

“I’m the only ME who has studied fairy physiology,” Stone said. “Who else did you think was going to show up? I live right around the corner, I was here before you were.”

“Where’s the body?” Waters asked, looking around the street.

“I already had it moved,” Stone said. “No need to scare the kiddies. My team did all the forensics and we packed everything up and sent it back to the station. Relax.”

“Not a doubt in our minds,” Danielson said. “I just wanted to see the scene of the crime myself before we started knocking on doors and asking questions.”

“Have fun,” Stone said before walking away. She did not ask permission and she did not look back. Danielson could respect that.

“She’s so cheery,” Waters said. She was staring at the splash of blood on the pavement again but this time with a look of determination on her face.

“The Reapers are usually not the happiest souls,” Danielson said as he turned to walk toward his car.

Waters walked quickly to catch up to him. “Isn’t that kind of a rude nickname for the medical examiners?” she asked.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Danielson said. “What Reapers do is a kindness. They pick the fallen up off of the street and they help us figure out their mystery. They help us get justice. And it’s no wonder they’re cheery. They see and touch so much death in their lives.”

“True,” Waters said. “So what are we dealing with here? I mean, who are we dealing with?”

“The victim was positively identified as Princess Anjelica Snugglebottom, a resident of Fairytown. The system should have her address on file but I have a feeling I already know where she lived.”

“The palace,” Waters said. “Why was she all the way over here? Was she an imaginary friend back in the day?”

“I have no clue until we look into it but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Danielson said.

“Why would she be an imaginary friend?” Waters asked. “Isn’t that sort of thing beneath royalty?”

“Fairytown is lousy with princesses,” Danielson said with a shrug. “I’m not sure where she falls in the line of succession but I feel like it has to be way down the line if she was able to travel this far uptown by herself.”

“So a princess could be an imaginary friend?” Waters asked.

“You know that they do not like that term, right?” Danielson asked. “We all know that they’re not imaginary now.”

“Yeah, I know,” Waters said. “It’s just habit. I had one, did you know that?”

“An imaginary friend?” Danielson asked. “I seem to remember that from your file when you came aboard.”

“This was before we found out that they weren’t imaginary, of course,” Waters said. “Her name was Lady Carinas and she watched out for me when I was little. My parents worked a lot.”

“The fairies that posed as imaginary friends did a lot of good back then,” Danielson said. “They got a bad rap after they were revealed. I really feel for them.”

“Me too,” Waters said. “That’s why I requested this detail. So should we start knocking on doors?”

Danielson shook his head. “The uniforms can handle that. I really don’t think we’ll get anything useful out of canvassing the neighborhood. If somebody was going to come forward, they would have done it already. Besides, I don’t think a human could bring a fairy down so easily.”

“Then what do you think happened?” Waters asked. Though, they both knew as they locked eyes.

“It was probably a monster,” Danielson said. “It’s the thing that makes the most sense but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. We have questions to ask.”

“So where are we going?” Waters asked. “Wait, are we going to the palace? I’ve never been.”

“Well, this is your lucky day,” Danielson said. “You get to visit the palace and more than that, you get to meet the queen.”

“I can’t wait!” Waters said.

“Don’t get too excited, Junior,” Danielson said. “I have a feeling that the visit isn’t going to be pleasant.”

Media Update 12/13/18

December 13, 2018


The Princess Switch

Netflix is experiencing a boom of Christmas movies this year based on reactions to last year and I am all in. This movie stars Vanessa Hudgens and … Vanessa Hudgens!? Yes, this is your classic Prince and the Pauper story but set at Christmas. Some have been critical of Hudgens but I feel like she did a great job playing twins. Each character felt distinct and she really made me believe it with her acting. Coupled with the fact that Vanessa Hudgens is a pretty charismatic young woman and this was just destined to be a pretty good movie. The love interests are played by Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar, two guys I have never seen before but I liked both of them. Palladio plays a foreign prince in yet another small fictional European nation a little stuffy but charming. Sagar plays a down to Earth American guy who always had a bit of a crush on his friend. The acting is pretty good, the script is cheesy, and the production budget is mostly non-existent. Still, there is something about the formula for these movies that is nostalgic and pleasant. Besides, there’s a shoutout to last year’s A Christmas Prince in the middle of the movie. I definitely recommend this for a good Christmas movie.


A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Speaking of the sensation that launched a new niche in Netflix, I knew I just had to watch the sequel this year when it was announced. I actually showed my mother the first movie over Thanksgiving and we were able to watch the sequel together. This made it infinitely more enjoyable as we both really got into it. These are the people who will probably own this sub-genre forever. Like the first one, this movie has just the right mix of Christmas and politics to satisfy me. Set one year after the first movie, the wedding is fast approaching but also the tiny country of Aldovia is having financial problems. Once again, Rose McIver (of iZombie fame) is just so likable as the American journalist who got swept up in a romance with a royal. Her performance and plot made me think of how they talked about Princess Diana when she first married Princess Charles like it was a fairytale. The rest of the cast all return (except Amber’s dad) and I think they turn in an even better performance than the original. I think they all realized how popular the first movie was and were excited to do a sequel. I think part of it is the script had more complexity and felt more relatable than the first one but both were really enjoyable to me. I definitely recommend both movies.


The Christmas Chronicles

Hollywood seems to love doing movies where kids meet Santa and they get swept up on an adventure with him. It happened in Ernest Saves Christmas with probably one of the best onscreen Santas. It happens in The Santa Clause where we learn how new Santas are made. It happens again here but I felt like they put a new twist on it while making it feel familiar. The movie stars Kurt Russel who has a pretty unique take on playing Santa Claus. I have seen Saintly Santa (Ernest Saves Christmas), Kind Santa (Miracle on 34th Street), Bad Santa (Bad Santa), Asshole Santa (A Christmas Story), and Sarcastic Santa (The Santa Clause). Kurt Russel actually pulls off Cool Santa. This Santa is just a cool dude who is so likable. He is the kind of Santa who tells it like it is and is just good friends with everybody he meets. The kids who accompany him are great too. Judah Lewis plays the older brother, deep in his teen years and really bucking against the system. Darby Camp plays the younger sister, a little lonely but still full of childlike wonder. The movie mostly depends on the interplay between those three characters and it makes the movie flow better. I also really liked the deep dive into their take on Santa Claus lore and trying to explain how certain things work. They do not get too caught up in it but they definitely intrigued me with their take on things. I recommend this one as well as it is exciting and surprising in places.

 

Music of the Week:
Kurt Russell – Santa Claus Is Back In Town

Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas

Sia – Santa’s Coming For Us

John Legend – Bring Me Love

Eric Clapton – For Love On Christmas Day

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “A Netflix Christmas”
– I watched more Happy! Season One
– I watched more Designated Survivor Season One
– I watched more Hilda Season One
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I watched more Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Season One
– I started watching The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1
– I finished Once Upon a Time Season 7 (and thus the series)
– I went all in on Christmas a little early and the joy continues next week
– Or does it? Muahaha!

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 1

December 10, 2018

1 – How Did You Get Started?

When I was a young lad, I was very close to going goth and at that time I met a woman who was running a Vampire: The Dark Ages group with her friends. She gifted me a rulebook and I devoured it but I could not get anyone to play with me. After college, I started listening to a lot of podcasts and I listened to a string of Dungeons and Dragons podcasts. I listened to LordKat and Penny Arcade mostly and I started to get back into that mindset. At one point, a group of my friends and I were going to start a 3.5 adventure and I was excited but it fell through at the last minute. Years later I got talking to my cousin’s brother in law and, long story short, I was invited to join their tabletop group. I was eager to get started but it took a while for us to get around to playing dungeons dragons after several more homebrewed systems. Finally, we played Dungeons and Dragons and I finally got my start. In the meantime, I listened to a lot more podcasts (Critical Role, Trapped in the Birdcage, Dragons in Places, and Dice, Camera, Action).

2 – What is Your Favorite PC Race?

Off the top of my head, I would have to say Half-Orcs. I find them visually appealing mostly because they look so different from the rest of the races. When your character walks into a new place, they are sure to be noticed. Also, I have kind of enjoyed playing social outcasts and Half-Orcs are often discriminated against. Canonically, Half-Orcs are also caught between human and orc natures. Orcs are inherently evil while humans have more free will. So, Half-Orcs feel the pull of evil from their Orc blood and must fight against it to do good. However, the human blood gives them the freedom to make that choice for themselves. However, society can be hard to Half-Orcs which makes being a good guy harder. Of course, it makes playing a selfless hero easier. It is not uncommon for Half-Orcs to end up neutral somewhere between good and evil. I feel like more than any other race they can run the gamut between being an uncultured savage and a cultured urbanite. Basically, it feels like they are versatile and a rich mine for character backstory and story beats.

3 – What Is Your Favorite PC Class?

So far, I have only played a barbarian although there are plenty I would love to try. Barbarians are driven by the central power of rage. When a barbarian rages, they take half damage from most sources and that is very freeing. My barbarian has laughed off damage that would have killed frailer characters die several times over. Being able to blunder into a situation instead of having to meticulously plan it out is pretty fun. Also, while in a rage, a barbarian’s attacks are stronger and attacks, in general, are more likely to hit. When I created my character, I approached it from kind of a cliche and stereotypical direction. I made a big dumb savage who wanted to fight the world. I had a lot of fun being dumb but sometimes I did want to contribute more to planning and detective work but I was not about to metagame. If I were to create a barbarian in the future, I might make one who is more intelligent and urban. Just a tough guy who can contribute in other ways as well.

4 – What Is Your Favorite Game World?

My favorite canonical game world is the Forgotten Realms. It is the world of podcasts sponsored by Wizards of the Coast like Acquisitions Incorporated, Trapped in the Birdcage, and Dice, Camera, Action. I feel like it is the most versatile game world with the possibility of darker journeys and lighter adventures. There is so much lore to draw from that it would be hard to explore all of its corners in one campaign. I feel like it is a brighter world than darker campaign settings like Ravenloft, Greyhawk, or Dark Sun. As for non-canonical worlds, I really love Matt Mercer’s Exandria because of my love of Critical Role. It is also a rather varied world with darker parts and lighter parts. There is also a slightly different set of deities to choose from and all of the lore is wiped away in place of new lore. I am also in the midst of creating my own game world which is unnamed so far. I have enjoyed creating my own lore based on my own preferences and what I think is interesting.

5 – Which Is Your Favorite Die or Dice?

This is a weird question. I guess I would say the good old Twenty-Sided Die. It is a classic and it helps form almost every point of the story along the way. It also just feels the best in my hand. If the question is about having a specific dice set that I like. I just have a big bag of Chessex dice, nothing special. They feel pretty good in my hand and they roll well. I am not very superstitious when it comes to dice. Sometimes I will switch one off of the table if I roll horribly with it for a while. It is not so much superstition as a way to deal with the frustration and it is kind of tradition among gamers.

6 – Which Is Your Favorite Deity?

Canonically, I really love Tymora. Something about having Lady Luck as a deity is really fun. Real world pantheons do not usually give a domain of luck as most societies did not seem to believe in it. However, in a world where your character’s fate is tied to the roll of the die, it makes a lot of sense to have a goddess of luck. Her motto of “Fortune favors the bold” is a great motto to get adventurers out into the world and in and out of danger. Non-Canonically, I have fallen in love with the idea of a kind Raven Queen. In my world, I have named her Azrea and she is based partly on Death from Deadpool comics. She is warm and accepting which makes being a death goddess less threatening. Still, I like her being spooky as well so it is a balancing act. Death as a friend is a way more appealing story to me.

Day 7 – Favorite Edition

I have only played Fifth Edition but I love it. The rules are straightforward but still leave wiggle room to add house rules to complicate it or simplify it at will. Most interviews I have seen have stated that Fifth Edition is their favorite because it is easier to parse and there are not too many complicated rules. I dabbled with 3.5 rules when I was preparing that first time for Dungeons and Dragons and I can definitely attest that those were more complicated rules. There are not nearly as many charts and not so many tricky rules to argue over.


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