Posts Tagged ‘30 Days Challenge’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 8

May 18, 2019

29 – Favorite NXT Entrance


Velveteen Dream

I have to choose Velveteen Dream here mostly because his entrance is pretty much different every time he enters anywhere. When he first showed up on the NXT scene, he was just a scrappy young guy who seemed to really like Prince but it was clear that his personality was ten times bigger than he was. Over time, his power seemed to accumulate and grow. He seemed to gain power over any arena’s lighting and sound by sheer force of charisma. He has used this to accentuate his appearances in ingenious ways. He has also used it to the detriment of his opponents. He was able to turn off a spotlight on Matt Riddle and move it to himself during a promo. During a series of taped promos for a five-way match, he countered Aleister Black’s fading the screen to black by snapping his fingers and making it bright purple instead. He is constantly thinking of controversial costumes to wear to the ring in order to draw deserved attention. He has dressed as performers from the past and has also worn clothes specifically to mock his opponents. He currently often has big muscled men carry him out on a couch to the stage, a couch which is also draped with beautiful women. You can watch his big, patriotic entrance from TakeOver: New York above for probably his biggest and best entrance yet.


Aleister Black

Kind of a cheat seeing as how Aleister Black is now on the main roster but I could not resist. The Halloween fan in me loves Black because of his inscrutable occult atmosphere and the martial arts and anime fan in me loves the way he moves. Black’s entrance is similar to the Undertaker’s entrance without going over the top with it. When I first saw the epic vampire sit up move, I lost my mind for a bit. It is easy to see how the trick is done but it still looks really badass. He also often has dozens of lit candles surrounding the stage for big matches which gives a really cool ambiance. Throw in some dry ice and you have a spooky entrance that also rocks because of his epic theme music. Also, at some point when they show his name up on the big screen, it is at first written in a font that reminds me of Enochian before it morphs into English. As the metal music pounds through the arena, he keeps his cool and stares with intensity at his opponent and readies himself for absolute carnage.

30 – Favorite NXT Entrance Music


Keith Lee – “Limitless”

I am a big fan of wrestlers who perform their own ring themes whether they are good or bad. Keith Lee made a name for himself by being nerdy, big, and quick. The rapping here is great along with the chorus of singers exhorting us to “Bask In His Glory”. It immediately tells you what Keith Lee is about. He thinks highly of himself but he definitely deserves to. He also shows how fun he is through wordplay and vocabulary. I have this song on rotation as one of my alarms to wake up to because it is just so fun. It is also a lot of fun to sing along to and the production value makes me have hope for how much they are going to invest in this obvious superstar.  He has been away for some time but I cannot wait to hear this theme ring out on NXT television again.


The Undisputed Era – “Undisputed”

When Adam Cole burst on the scene and recruited Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly to form the Undisputed Era, they needed a kickass theme to show they meant business. It starts with their initial mission statement which was their desire to “Shock the System” and take the place over. The slow grind of the guitar really sells the swaggering arrogance of the team and their usual smug and slow entrance. They take their time coming to the ring and this song is great for that without being boring. The guitars also allow Kyle O’Reilly to air guitar using his title belt (when he has one). A lot of people were not sold on the weird vocals throughout the song but the team really sold them by adding gestures in their entrance to accentuate them and give the song and themselves more character. Adam Cole’s smug smile as he points to himself on the “Boom” just immediately says so much about his character. They are fun assholes and this song definitely helps show that.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

March 11, 2019

WILPW

17 – Favorite Debut/Return


Chris Jericho

One of the craziest debuts in the history of the WWE and it is unlikely that it will ever be topped. It was 1999 and everywhere you looked, you could see a clock counting down to the year 2000. Many believed that we were under the threat of a Y2K bug in electronics and there was an anticipation in the air about what was going to happen. One man happened to look at one of those clocks as he was getting ready to debut in the then WWF. He proposed that they start a countdown clock for months before his debut. They would occasionally cut to it during broadcasts with everyone wondering what it was. The time left on the clock did not line up with New Year’s Eve. On an episode of Raw, the Rock hit the ring and he was talking to the fans when all of a sudden the clock showed up again and it hit zero right in the middle of a Rock promo. The lights went out, fireworks went off, and then Chris Jericho appeared to the sounds of rock music. The crowd went ballistic as some were fans of his zany antics in World Championship Wrestling, some knew him from Extreme Championship Wrestling, and some were just caught up in the moment. Right away he traded words with the Rock and his career was off to a new start. It turned out to be a bumpy start but he eventually became even more of a legend from his runs in the WWE.


Paige

I had just started watching NXT when Paige first showed up. It was a dark time for women’s wrestling on Monday Night Raw. The place was rife with “Divas” who were better at posing than talking or wrestling. Paige dubbed herself the Anti-Diva, a wrestler who had a pale goth appearance and tons of actual athletic talent. She had just recently won the NXT Women’s Championship when she had a surprise debut on Monday Night Raw and she beat champion AJ Lee in what had to be the best women’s match on Monday Night Raw in a long time. Her star burned bright but unfortunately, she did not last as long as other performers and she is now retired by injury. She will definitely always be fondly remembered.

18 – Favorite Commentator


Mauro Ranallo

I was not so sure about Mauro Ranallo when he first showed up as an announcer. He was a commentator for other sports first and sometimes that just does not work out. Professional wrestling is a unique beast and sometimes the skills do not translate from actual sports. Mauro’s references sounded a little forced at first. He makes a lot of geeky references and a lot of references to other sports. I usually get the geeky references but I do not always get the sports references. However, he eventually won me over. His enthusiasm is impossible to ignore and it has obviously caught on with the WWE Universe. Part of what really got me on Team Ranallo was his admission that he is bipolar and his advocacy for mental health initiatives. He moved from the main roster back to NXT and he became part of the fabric of the place. Fans chant his now famous “Mamma Mia!” catchphrase when amazing things happen during matches. His enthusiasm helps build rivalries and sells the story. Villains become more villainous, heroes become more valiant, and every move pops just a little bit more as he adds his two cents in. I know that he still has other gigs and that his mental health is important to him but I hope that he finds a healthy balance so he can stick with the WWE family for a good long while.


Renee Young

She started as a backstage interviewer and stuck with the company long enough for them to really realize her potential. She filled in at the commentator table a few times and it was clear that she was more than ready for the big time. When she finally got her chance, she had been known to fans of the WWE for years. I had been hoping for a female commentator for a long while. First, because they kept bringing back the same tired male commentators who were only getting worse (Lawler, JBL, Booker T). Second, they were finally pushing women in professional wrestling and it only made sense for a female to lend her voice to this new movement. Third, if women were going to be given a more equal spot on the card, they should get a more equal spot at the commentator table as well. Renee is outspoken and knowledgeable about pro-wrestling and adds a badly needed different perspective on the product. I am glad to have the fresh blood behind the table.

19 – Favorite Underrated Wrestler


Cesaro

I first became aware of Cesaro when he was known by his real name of Claudio Castagnoli in Ring of Honor. He was part of the Kings of Wrestling with Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) and Sara Del Ray. All three of them now work for the WWE which was a brilliant decision. Pound for pound, Cesaro just might be the strongest guy on the roster. He can accomplish amazing feats of lifting and athletics with seemingly no effort. When he needs to, he can be a high-flyer, a brawler, and a technician. He has been a part of a lot of amazing moments in NXT and WWE history. Yet, he has never really gotten the fair shake that has always been due to him. He should have gotten a major title match a long time ago. When I watch him, I see a workhorse who always does what is demanded of him. He has proved himself in feuds with Sheamus and Sami Zayn. He has done well in tag teams with Jack Swagger, Tyson Kidd, and Sheamus. He has suffered from weak feuds that were not his fault. I really believe that he could be a great heavyweight champion if given the chance. Right now he is doing great in his tag team with Sheamus but I feel like his singles career is now a fading memory. He just needs one good feud to ignite the run of a lifetime.


The IIconics

Like most people, I first became aware of Billie Kay and Peyton Royce when they first showed up on NXT. They appeared as The Iconic Duo which was immediately interesting. There had been female groups before but there had always been a clear pecking order and most of the teams eventually fell apart. Billie and Peyton are true friends and each other’s biggest cheerleaders. They work together to gain opportunities for whichever of them has the best chance at the moment. They are actually real life friends who went to high school together in Australia and it shows. They have so much chemistry together and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s performances. They are really funny and a lot of the time they come off like a sketch comedy team instead of wrestlers sometimes. However, when they get in the ring they can definitely get the job done either together or separately. There is plenty of time for one or both of them to get a run with a women’s championship but I feel like soon they might get a good feud for the women’s tag titles. I really hope that people see their shine through all of the chaos and give them a real shot.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

February 18, 2019

WILPW

14 – Favorite Promo


Cactus Jack is Going Away for a While – Mick Foley

Mick Foley will always be one of my favorites. He has proven himself to be a very thoughtful and intellectual performer, one of the best thinkers in the business. His autobiographies show a wealth of knowledge and an aptitude for ring psychology. In 1998, Foley was in the midst of The Three Faces of Foley. He was cycling between three personas Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. He had just had a run as Cactus Jack, battling for, winning, and losing the tag titles with Terry Funk. This promo was about how he felt betrayed by the fans. Cactus Jack was Foley’s most resilient persona, capable of taking the most physical abuse. However, the point of the promo was that the fans had turned their back on Cactus by ignoring the effort he and Funk had put in, in favor of flashier stars like Steve Austin and Degeneration X. It was part of Foley’s turn toward darkness and his eventual alliance with Vince McMahon. Foley delivered his promos with the gravitas he had learned from studying greats like Jake the Snake, Robert Fuller, and so many others. Foley had a natural ability to embody the character he was playing, practically believing that it was real. This is the style of acting taught at the college I went to, first popularized by Sanford Meisner. “To live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.” The promo was delivered with appropriate gravitas and mentioned a lot of the roster which opened up a lot of possibilities going forward. It also blurred that line between reality and fantasy as Mick dropped a lot of his real life once again into one of his promos. It was sad and furious at the same time and it showed that the character meant business while others were just playing around. It hit hard and told a great story.


No More Divas – AJ Lee

Recently, Women’s wrestling in the WWE has been getting better and better thanks to an influx of new talent and a general change in philosophy. Stars like Moolah and other women put the brakes on talent in the division in exchange for flash and comedy. That was carried into the 2000s where the women’s division became the “Diva” division, further shifting away from athleticism and skill. Meanwhile, in Japan and in the independents, women were wrestling the same style as the guys and people loved it. Something had to be done. AJ Lee was a breath of fresh air. She had grown up as a huge fan of the business and she knew in her heart that she could do everything the guys did. When she finally got her chance, she was not that great but she worked at it and she got better and better until she was awesome. While others were fine with stagnation and mediocrity, AJ called for equality. The current WWE women’s division is called the “Women’s Revolution” then this promo was the equivalent of the Boston Massacre. This was the first event on the main roster that made people sit up and realize that they deserved better. It made people realize that women’s division matches did not have to be bathroom breaks where plastic little princesses pulled each other’s hair and slapped each other’s faces. The reaction to this promo would eventually be a call to arms for the NXT superstars who would revitalize the division and raise the bar.

15 – Favorite Feud/Rivalry


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart

A lot of WWE fans of my generation fall into one of two camps: Bret Hart fans and Shawn Michaels fans. I was part of the latter group as I liked the younger, flashier star who was small like I was and he was funny too. When Stone Cold Steve Austin came onto the scene, everybody sat up and took notice. He was a cold-blooded sociopath who spoke his mind and stood up to everybody and anything in his way. He was billed as a good guy but he was plowing through people I had no passion for. At the same time, Bret was whining about being screwed by Austin at the 1997 Royal Rumble. Austin had been eliminated from the match but the referees had not seen it so Austin took advantage and won the match. Bret had a point, he had been screwed but instead of doing something about it, he just whined and threatened to walk out. This eventually set up the perfect feud between the two. On one side was Stone Cold Steve Austin who was a sociopath but he was proactive and always did exactly what he promised. He was vicious but America was ready to get behind that aggression. On the other side was Bret “The Hitman” Hart, who was good but had failed to back up his boasting for too long at the time. He was finally ready to actually do something about his complaints and vent his frustration in a big Wrestlemania match against Austin. The two were set for a submission match which was Bret’s specialty but Austin had that never-say-die spirit. In the end, Austin did not give up and passed out from pain and blood loss, allowing for Bret Hart to become a villain and Austin to become a hero of the people.


Becky vs. Charlotte

As I mentioned above, the women’s division has been great lately, delivering more good content than bad. As I type this, Becky Lynch has become one of the hottest and brightest stars in the WWE. She has even eclipsed many in the men’s division which has led to her labeling herself “The Man”. Leading up to Summerslam 2018, she had decided that enough was enough. She was through being nice and letting people pass her by. She had been the first Smackdown Women’s champion and she vowed to win it back by any means necessary. This led to a confrontation with her former best friend Charlotte Flair. Charlotte is a second generation pro-wrestler and therefore is wrestling royalty. She had previously lorded this over the division, letting her success and fame darken her soul as she held onto her belt. She seemingly left that all behind and turned over a new leaf but everybody knew that it was still inside of her. Becky had enough of the facade and obliterated her so-called best friend, choosing the championship over friendship. Becky stood victorious, finally beating her friend and earning her place in the sun. Then Becky was briefly injured, putting her career on hold for a little bit. In the meantime, Ronda Rousey had a match with Charlotte and finally beat the facade away, revealing the old Charlotte once again. Now, Becky and Charlotte are set to face each other once again, both of them have embraced their dark side in order to be at the top of their game. The crowd is behind Becky but Charlotte has a great big match record. It will be really fun to see what happens next.

16 – Favorite Manager


Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman has been in the professional wrestling bit for a long time. He first snuck into the nightclub business in New York City, becoming a publicity photographer. He then got into the wrestling business by once again leveraging his photography skills. But more than that, he always had the gift of gab. He has apparently always had great skill in running his mouth both inside and outside of the business. In World Championship Wrestling he turned himself into an obnoxious “Hollywood agent”-type manager who formed The Dangerous Alliance. He then helped created Extreme Championship Wrestling and became basically a cult leader of this underground company, a sort of CBGB for pro-wrestling. In these latter days, he has often acted as a mouthpiece or stand-in for his clients in the WWE. Instead of calling himself a “manager” he calls himself an “advocate”. He finds loopholes and argues for clients like CM Punk, Cesaro, The Shield, and Brock Lesnar. He gives spellbinding promos which are especially good to have when other people in a feud are not as good at talking. Brock Lesnar has especially benefitted as he has never been the greatest on the microphone. Also, Heyman has some of the best skills at getting fans to want to punch his face while still cheering his appearances.


Vickie Guerrero

Vickie was the wife of Eddie Guerrero, a guy that delighted fans for decades. When Eddie died at a fairly young age, Vickie showed up once again on television and she gained a bit of a following. It is a testament to her skills as an actress that she was able to get fans to hate her. If somebody had told me that fans would boo the widow of one of professional wrestling’s greatest, I would have questioned it. She made herself into a vain and shrill character who basically did everything wrong. She threw tantrums, she ogled younger men, she interrupted everyone’s good time, she disrespected the legacy of her own husband and cheated liberally. When the spotlight was not on her, she used sheer personality to put it back on her. The only mistake they made with her was that they had good guys start bullying her based on her appearance instead of her personality but there was a lot of that going on during that time period. Even today, fans recognize her catchphrase of “Excuse Me!” and it still puts a shiver in my spine. I am so glad that she could help to carry on the Guerrero legacy.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 6

January 12, 2019

27 – What lore in Dungeons and Dragons are you most fascinated by lately?

Lately, I feel like I am most fascinated by the lore in Sigil since it is so mysterious to me. I feel like not a lot of people focus on Sigil since it is potentially incredibly dangerous and very abstract. Sigil basically feels like Wackyland felt in Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies. It has a loose structure and a caste system but almost anything can happen there. It exists outside of the material plane, the inner planes, and the outer planes. It is its own thing and sort of a nexus of reality. Known as the city of doors, any door in the city can double as a portal to anywhere else. These portals need to be activated by a key but that key does not even have to be a physical object, it can be a word, a feeling, a spell, etc. Denizens of most any realm can randomly show up at any time either on purpose or completely by accident. I am still figuring out the society there as I have heard different podcasts approach it a little differently. It is at once wondrous and brutal as the diversity and exotic parts are beautiful but anything can kill you. There are also swarms of rats with psychic powers. At one point I was absolutely fascinated by the Lady of Pain. She is a masked god-like entity that protects and controls Sigil mostly through extreme violence and fear. Anybody who says her name or tries to worship her is horribly and painfully slaughtered by her. The idea of a goddess who kills any of her own worshippers is fascinating to me. She also never talks so people just had to figure all of this out through her violent actions and just hope that they did not somehow piss her off.

28 – What was the first time that you heard Dungeons and Dragons was ‘evil’?

Long before I actually played Dungeons and Dragons, I listened to a lot of comedy clips and watched a lot of comedy videos on the Ancient Internet. I was hanging out with a lot of older friends (as I do now) and they clued me into Dr. Demento, a radio personality who curated a large collection of weird comedy audio clips, most of which were songs. He was the guy who first discovered Weird Al Yankovic and helped him break into the business by sharing his early music. He also aired comedy sketches and one of them I stumbled upon was by a group called the Dead Alewives. Unbeknownst to me, I would later become a big fan of one of their members Dan Harmon who went on to create Community and co-create Rick and Morty. Anyway, they did a Dungeons and Dragons skit that parodied the idea that Dungeons and Dragons was somehow a dangerous activity for kids. The kids in the skit were just big dorks eating snacks and drinking Mountain Dew and making fun of each other. The point was that the game was far from the satanic recruitment device that people thought it was. This confused me. How could any game played with pen and paper be dangerous? It was theater of the mind and when the game ended, all of it faded away and people went back to being regular people. The idea that Dungeons and Dragons was dangerous was laughable to me and it continues to be laughable.

29 – First movie that comes to mind that you associate with Dungeons and Dragons?

Believe it or not, the first movie that comes to mind is something like Fast and Furious 7 or the Fate of the Furious. While the movies do not fit the setting of any Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have ever seen, the tone definitely fits. A lot of Dungeons and Dragons is over the top with people doing ridiculous things all of the time. Dominic Toretto and his gang are like any good Dungeons and Dragons party. Each member has different backstories, different specialties, and personalities. As members of the party die or change alignment, they are replaced by new characters. For a group of people who were at one point thrown together, they have a lot of intertwining backstories. The tasks that the party has to complete get harder and harder each movie as their skills and equipment also improve. It really feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the players are constantly rolling high and the Dungeon Master is rolling poorly. Still, they keep coming up with new amazing spectacles peppered with witty dialogue. On top of all of that, Vin Diesel is a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan and still plays now and then.

30 – What’s the single most important thing you have learned while playing Dungeons and Dragons?

I would say confidence. When I started playing tabletop roleplaying games, I was very skittish about it and shy. I stammered and froze up while I tried to translate my great ideas into actions and words that came from my character. More than that, the fear made it so my brain would often just not work and I would try to get enough out to make the Game Master move onto the next person. Still, somehow I found enjoyment from it. As I continued to play, I became more comfortable with myself and confident that my ideas were not horrible and that the people around me did not hate me. In fact, they are now my closest friends. I started to get more aggresive at the table and more likely to share my ideas and speak up. I also was comfortable enough to really “drop in” to my character. Instead of relaying what I thought my character might do or say, I was able to channel my character more directly. Recently, when I started to take new anxiety medication, I made even more progress. I feel more at ease throwing things out there and seeing where they lead. I am also braver about making the hard choices and shooting from the hip when I need to. Afterall, it is just a game and overthinking things leads to unhappiness for everyone at the table. I look forward to gaining even more confidence as I have now really adjusted to my medication and I feel more at peace with my surroundings.

DnD 30 Day Challenge Pt. 5

January 7, 2019

23 – Which is your favorite monster?

While it is not really in Dungeons and Dragons main purview, I really like vampires. Perhaps it is the goth kid and lover of Halloween that still lives inside of me. Vampires are so iconic and versatile but somewhat hard to fit into any old adventure. Still, I also really like that they are sentient monsters so their motivations can be explored and there is room for plenty of backstories. Most vampires are considered lawful evil by nature but that can easily be tweaked and homebrewed for more interesting storylines. I think of shows like Angel and Supernatural where a hero becomes a vampire and is able to stay good. Also, materials from other games like Vampire: The Dark Ages can be used to give more flavor to the character. Similarly, I really love the Hag. Having an old witch that trades favors or curses people like Ursula is a great toy to play with. They are also shapechanging characters with illusionary powers which brings up a lot of options. For example, having a coven of three hags like the beginning of Macbeth. They are too powerful for the party to take head on so they might have to do some errands for them at first or find a way to trick them. Basically, I have a soft spot in my heart for the creepier enemies in Dungeons and Dragons.

24 – What is a character outside of your comfort zone that you might play in the future?

I would really like to play a bard in the future. I know that I am an introverted person but, with the aid of my anxiety medicine, I feel like I am stronger than I used to be. I actually have a basis for a bard character that I may want to play in the future should it fit into what we are doing. A while back we did a one-shot set in a science fiction setting (which was not Dungeons and Dragons-based at all) but I played an android who was constantly handing out business cards and trying to drum up business while already on the job. If I were to play a bard it would be somebody like that. I think it would be fun to play somebody who is way into themselves and focused on their own branding. Maybe they will grow toward wanting actual respect instead of successful branding. Maybe instead they learn that fame is not what it is cracked up to be. Maybe they also learn the importance of teamwork and true friendship. There are many possibilities. If I were to be a bard, I would probably end up being from the College of Swords. If I was going to be an entertainer, it would make more sense to be a swashbuckler who entertains with feats of daring and action. I could also draw on stories from my brother’s experience as a fight choreographer in the character background. The thing I am stuck on is whether the character would be constantly rushing into battle or would actually be a bit of a cautious coward.

25 – What character have you been saving up to play in the future?

I always have a bunch of ideas in my head for what I could do in the future but the first one that comes to mind is the studious nerd wizard. Even though I have always been a good student, I have never been the A student who obsesses about studying and forgoes most other things. I have this idea in my head of a bespectacled young man who has studied magic hard and has been sent into the world to actually put it to practical use. Having lived in a theoretical world for so long, the real world would be jarring and it would be hard to find his nerve. I like the idea of a character knowing a lot of useful knowledge but never having had to use it and so there is a disconnect. Similarly, the character could be quite old. The character has spent a long time dicking around like Flynn Carsen in the Librarian. Having finally left academia, he is completely out of his element but still be supremely confident. I do not have much experience at that level of academia but I could draw on stories from my youngest brothers in his Ph.D. studies and also stories from other academics I have known. I also have not played any magic users yet in Dungeons and Dragons and I want to play with the complexity and versatility of a wizard. After the simplicity of playing a barbarian, I kind of want to play something where I have to worry about a lot of things at once. I guess that sounds kind of weird now that I have written it out.

26 – What was the first dragon your character slew?

After a long time idling in a small town, our cleric and druid revealed that they were being troubled by nightmare visions almost every night. Apparently, they had kept this a secret for quite a long time because it had not been so bad at first. However, the dreams had gotten worse and the dreams were threatening our party members’ sanity. The visions seemed to lead to a forest in the middle of nowhere that nobody had any experience with. When we arrived, we were confronted with an abandoned village and a sign that warned to stay away. This was when a lot of the party found out that my half-orc character did not know how to read. Of course, we were not going to heed some silly sign and we ventured into the creepy abandoned town. We fought a lot of plant-based creatures and my half-orc even got taunted by a tree and then, unfortunately, I rolled a one on trying to chop it down. It turns out that dragons in 5e have the innate ability to warp reality around them. Unbeknownst to us, a green dragon had taken residence in the town and slowly warped it into a poisoned wasteland. On reconnaissance, our druid successfully lured the dragon out of its lair which gave us a fighting chance. My character could not reach the flying dragon so I just hucked javelins at it the best I could, daring it to fight me. Instead, it nearly killed half of our party with its breath weapon and it was only a crossbow bolt from the rogue that brought it down. Of course, he brought it down on top of my barbarian’s head but I was still raging so it was fine. My character was so angry that he did not get the killing blow that he proceeded to slash at the dragon’s corpse over and over. Unfortunately, the dragon scale could have been used for our druid’s armor so… oops.

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.

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 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.

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.

Why I Like Pro-Wrestling: WWE 30 Days Challenge Pt. 1

July 30, 2018

WILPW

 

1 – Favorite Current Wrestler

Overall, my favorite wrestler in the WWE right now is Seth Rollins. He continues to step it up every single time he is out there. He was great in the indies as Tyler Black but he has subsequently adapted his in-ring and promo style to the WWE style. Not only that but he is able to adapt to any opponent he gets thrown against. His recent iron man match against Dolph Ziggler (another great talent) was amazing to watch. His recent series against Finn Balor was just as entertaining. His moveset has evolved and expanded over time. His superplex into falcon arrow signature, in particular, is absolutely mind-blowing every time. I think that denying him the Curb Stomp finisher was actually a good thing as it allowed him to add several other finishers to his arsenal. I also don’t buy the “Seth Rollins is Dangerous” rumor that Brett Hart started a while ago. He is a good worker and, if anything, he needs to be a little kinder to his own body which I think he has recently done better at. His versatility as both face and heel makes me excited to see what becomes of him next.

Runner-up: The Miz who has some of the best promos in the company and he is consistently hilarious and great in the ring. He is probably one of the best homegrown WWE performers of all-time. I cannot wait to see him face Daniel Bryan again at last. Honestly, it was hard to choose between him and Seth.

 

2 – Favorite Current Female Wrestler

My favorite woman on the main roster right now is Asuka. I love the Japanese style when it comes to women’s wrestling especially since it has been cited by many great current female wrestlers as an early influence. The introduction of Asuka stepped up NXT and her main roster introduction was appropriately grand. She performs in the strong style and everything looks like it may have killed her opponent but reportedly it does not feel too bad at all. She comes off as a badass but I love everything about her aesthetic. She grins as she kicks her opponent’s ass and it was established early on that when she smiles she is to be feared. She is also notoriously hard to pin down. She wears a spooky mask to the ring but also wears bright colors and dances during her entrance. I love the contradictions. Her in-ring style is also both brutal and wild so she looks like a tornado going to town. She is just the right combination of striker, technician, and flier to have a good match with anybody. Some may criticize it, but I actually really like her broken English promos. The words come out more slowly which makes her sound more menacing and her words are more memorable. Afterall, nobody is ready for Asuka!

Runner-up: I absolutely love Bayley. She is a solid in-ring competitor who only gets better with time. More than that, she makes me smile. I cannot help but smile as she makes her entrance and gets excited about every little thing. Especially knowing that she is living her dream.

 

3 – Favorite Wrestler from the Past

When I was a kid, I would have said Shawn Michaels but now I will pick Mick Foley every time. I remember when my best friend excitedly told me about Mankind when he first appeared in the WWF. “There is this new dude named Mankind who is insane and he rips his own hair out and he can’t feel pain!” When I saw him for myself, I was definitely interested. He was different from a lot of the rest of the roster and, like the Undertaker, he had a psychological element as well. When the character of Mankind merged more with the real-life story of Mick, he added both reality and comedy to the formula. He resurrected both his original character Cactus Jack and also brought to life a version of his childhood character Dude Love. The Three Faces of Foley were an absolute joy to watch and just about every segment was improved by Foley’s presence. His promo abilities are legendary as he used a brilliant mind for ring psychology and great charisma to create some awesome moments. He also sacrificed his body in some of the most memorable moments in the WWF years. As his body started to break down, he started to use those promo skills in other ways. He became an on-screen authority figure where he shifted to a more comedic character and he was great at that too. To this day, when he visits I get a big smile on my face.

Runner-up: CM Punk will always hold a special place in my heart especially now that I understand more fully his departure and where he was back then and where he is now. He just had so much charisma and fire. I cannot decide whether I liked him better as a smirky heel or a die-hard, smirky babyface.

 

4 – Favorite Female Wrestler from the Past

I was a huge fan of AJ Lee. She was such a fast learner and she never bought into the “Diva” stuff around her. She evolved over time and was able to easily fit into whatever role she was given. I loved the work she did with Daniel Bryan, as their segments taught both of them how to do better promo and character work. Their breakup was the start of the start of her “unstable” gimmick where she slowly lost her mind over time. Eventually, she moved from being “just a valet” to getting to wrestle again on the main roster. She proved that she was willing to work hard to learn more moves and better in-ring psychology. She made her major wrestling re-debut when she started to trash Total Divas which I loved her for because I hate Total Divas. They could have played her as a cowardly heel but she backed up her words and repeatedly wrecked her opponents. When she developed the Black Widow submission finisher, she instantly cemented her spot as my favorite female character at the time. Her crazy gimmick (a reflection of her real-life bi-polar disorder) always kept me guessing as to where she was going next. She had a short career in the WWE but, in her own words, she accomplished all of her goals.

Runner-up: Kharma was an interesting character for the few months she was part of the WWE. She debuted at a time when I had been watching a lot of TNA Wrestling so I was familiar with the performer. She was the proto-Nia Jax but with a crazy gimmick similar to AJ Lee. She did not say much of anything but she laughed as she pancaked every woman on the roster. Best of all, she got to beat the crap out of the Bellas. I am loving seeing her on GLOW on Netflix now.


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