Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Inspirational Image: Demon Queen

Part of me looks at a picture like this and thinks "this is an ancient demon who is, quite frankly, bored with the whole "Queen of Darkness" shtick. Not that she's looking to be an angel or anything, but something different..."

The other part of my brain thinks, "No, she's perfectly content being a demon, powerful, beautiful, and terrifying. The whole redemptive story arc is for losers!"


By Chris Cold

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Tale of Two New Treks

A Tale of Two Treks
Star Trek Discovery’s first real trailer premiered Wednesday, and I watched it, repeatedly, with cautious optimism. There’s a lot going on, some things I don’t like, some things that I do. Keep in mind, this is based on the trailer alone, and I reserve the right to change my mind.



Initial Likes:
Diverse Cast: Just gonna get this out of the way, but the two lead characters are female? And neither of them is white? Plus the rest of the cast appears to be just as diverse? Excellent.
The Feel: While definitely taking ques from the JJ-Verse, this still, mostly, feels like Star Trek. Starfleet, Vulcans, Klingons, etc.
10 Years before Kirk: There’s a lot of potentially interesting storytelling to be done in this era. On the other hand, it also puts it about 15 years (give or take) after the split in the timelines between the Alpha universe and the JJ-Verse.
Klingons: Excellent. Classic villains of the era. And they aren’t the swarthy TOS Klingons either!
Uniforms: As much as I like the PJs in Space look, these look good.

Initial Dislikes:
My people were biologically determined for one purpose alone, to sense the coming of death. I sense I coming now.” There had better be a *really* good backstory for this…
The Ships: Granted, we haven’t gotten a good look at them yet, but my initial feel is unimpressed. Like many, I did not care for the teaser of the Discovery that was shown a while back, and was glad when the studio said that it wasn’t the final version, just a teaser…
Another Half Vulcan? Really? We’ve already had this story with Spock. Twice now.
Uniforms: I am a little sad that the Enterprise’s chevron seems to have been adopted fleet wide at this point.
Klingons: Crap, they’re the JJ-Verse Klingons. Please be more interesting than what we’ve seen, and please don’t dump on everything shown in TNG/DS9/Voy…
Lens Flairs

Hopes:
Classic Aliens: Let’s see some Andorians and Telerites! We got them in Enterprise, let’s see them here!
Stay Away from TOS: It’s a big universe. I don’t need to see young Spock, young Kirk, etc. Wait, Sarek and Harry Mudd are in it? Oh… well… Don’t screw it up?
Universe: Wait, which universe is this set in?

On the flip side of things, there’s Seth MacFarlane’s new show The Orville, which visually feels much closer to classic Trek than Discovery does, but... fails on so many other levels. And it isn’t because there can’t be humor in Star Trek. In fact some of the best moments in Trek are because of the humor! Hell, Galaxy Quest did an amazing job spoofing Star Trek, while at the same time managing to make one of the best Trek films ever made.



Yet this? In the trailer we get bathroom humor, sexist gender stereotyped humor that feels like it’s from the 80’s or 90’s… It just doesn’t come across as funny. Okay, the bit with the blob was cute, but is there going to be enough here to sustain a TV show? To make it a show worth watching? I have my doubts.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Inspirational Image: Sapphire Knight

When I first saw it I thought it might have been another set of 3D printed armor, but this is actually crafted from leather!

By Azmal

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In-Con-ing!!

Convention season is upon us!

For those in the greater Baltimore/DC metro area, next weekend (5/20) is Charm City Game Day. There are a whole host of RPGs to choose from, no matter what your preferences are. From D&D (4th & 5th) to Ghostbusters and Gamma World, Lady Blackbird, and Shadowrun, there's something to enjoy. There are still seats available, so get going and sign up for me, since I can't go...

The weekend after is Balticon! And for once, they've got their schedule online early, with an app!! Crazy... I'm not sure what I'll be going to yet, but I'll be there!

And if you've never been to a Con, I'd like to direct you to Speculative Chic: Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop. It's a great read about how to prep for a con, how to survive a con with nearly your full health, and how to recover after the adventure.

Recover from a con? I know, sounds crazy, why would you need to recover from a weekend of fun? Well, because it's stressful, even when it's fun.
So go read and then get ready for some fun!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Stonehell: Blindly Wandering

Session 34(b) was played on 4/28

Eiric, wizard 3 (Kat)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 2 (Henchman)
- torch bearers (A A Ron, JJ Swats)
- men at arms (C, D)
- Namish (dog)
Matthias, Dwarf 4 (Julia)
- men at arms (M&M, Nnnn)
- Herrick (dog)
Daryll (NPC Cleric 1, Prisoner)

Stayed in town
Bisimwa, Human Fighter 1 (Jordan)
Sarin the Ugly, Human Fighter 1 (Josh)
Menchi, Human Cleric 1 (Laural)
Kili, Dwarf Cleric (Matt)
Leroy, human fighter 3 (Mike)
Unnamed, Elf 1 (Nicole)
Karlaih, Human Thief 5 (Mollie)
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Yaqen, elf 1 (Shaun)

After nearly a week of rest and recovery the party is ready to head back into Stonehell! Matthias hires two men at arms (M&M and Nnnnn) and buys a wardog Herrick.

Returning to the baboon’s room, they double check it for anything they missed the first time, but find nothing… not even the bodies. Further along the hall they avoid the broken spear trap, though it looks like the kobolds haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet. The next door open into a room covered in patches of grey mold. Being careful not to disturb the mold, the party moves to the door at the far end of the room. Matthias opens the door, and there’s a bright flash of light! With a critical fumble on his saving throw, he’s blind! Beyond the mold room is an old kitchen, and then a wash room. The only thing of value found is an old corpse of a priest.

Back into the hall, they pause at the old pharmacy, then check out the short hallway that has “Secret Room” written in chalk at the end of it. Matthias, still blind, decides to go at the wall with his pickaxe when yet again no door is found. This draws the attention of a hobgoblin scouting party that just watches from the shadows. After a solid 10 minutes the party stops Matthias, and they move on, yet again failing to find the secret room.

Moving on, they pass through some previously explored rooms, fill in some hallway on the maps they’d missed before, find a pile of shoes and boots, all in perfect condition, but only the left of the pair. They head back to fill in more of the map, and catch sight of the hobgoblins lurking behind them. No one seems to want to fight or talk.

Passing by an old store room, the party heads into the Reptile House and turn north. Thre first chamber is hexagonal with a 4 headed snake statue on it. The pedestal the statue rests on has 2 holes on it about an inch in diameter. Carefully avoiding the statute, the party continues along the hall, finding a pair of old bed chambers. The second chamber had the bloated body of a hobgoblin on the bed being eaten by a pair of giant flies.

Matthias charges in blindly swinging with his battle axe, cleaving one in half. The other lands on his back and bites him, but it is smashed moments later. Searching the hobgoblin they find a pair of gems. Deciding they’ve had enough, the party heads back to the stairs and up to the Antechamber, passing some Ghost Beggars and then a troop of kobolds on their way out.

Back in town, Eiric pays 400gp and turns over the holy symbol from the dead priest to cure Matthias’ blindness.

Gains: 3gp, 2 gems (25 & 50gp value)
Kills: 2 giant flies
Losses: 400gp for healing

Per the book, the blindness was only supposed to last 2d6 rounds, but a critical fumble, followed by 2 more failed saving throws, and I decided the spell had been boosted by the Nixthisis.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Stonehell: Monkey Business

Session 34(a) was played on 4/28

Eiric, wizard 3 (Kat)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 2 (Henchman)
- torch bearers (A A Ron, JJ Swats)
- men at arms (A, B, C, D)
- Namish (dog)
Matthias, Dwarf 4 (Julia)
Daryll (NPC Cleric 1, Prisoner)

Stayed in town
Bisimwa, Human Fighter 1 (Jordan)
Sarin the Ugly, Human Fighter 1 (Josh)
Menchi, Human Cleric 1 (Laural)
Kili, Dwarf Cleric (Matt)
Leroy, human fighter 3 (Mike)
Unnamed, Elf 1 (Nicole)
Karlaih, Human Thief 5 (Mollie)
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Yaqen, elf 1 (Shaun)

Eiric gathered up everyone she could, and headed off into Stonehell. The stated goal is to get to the elevator, down to level 4 and get some of the good quartz for Rocky… The Antechamber was quiet, and they made their way down the stairs to the Asylum without incident. They passed the skeleton whose mother never loved it, and headed north to check the room marked “bones”. A opens the door, and quickly “Nope’s!” out of the way. Within was a ritualistically arranged assortment of bones. Circles within circles of bones of all shapes and sizes from a variety of different creatures.

“Wilhelm wrote about this, and said he’d destroyed the arrangement…” Matthias said with a frown. “Like this!” and taking his 10’ pole, he sends the bones clattering around the room.

That taken care of, they continue up the hall. The next door they come to has low animal noises coming from within. When they knock, the noises become much louder and more simian. The door is yanked open from within, and 5 large baboons come leaping out into the hall! The initial attack hurt several members of the party and dropped A completely! Luckily for the party they outnumbered the apes, and were better armed and armored, and the beasts were quickly eliminated.

A survived, but his knee was shattered. While he was bandaged up, the baboon’s room was checked, as was the room beyond. Aside from a few coppers, there was nothing of value. A short discussion on what to do with A left him begging not to be left alone. With a sigh, the party bundled him up as best they could, and hauled him back up the stairs and heading to town.

Back in the Antechamber, near the Contested Corridors, a revengeful band of orcs set upon the burdened party. It doesn’t go well for them, and the few survivors run. As they catch their breath, they notice that B is down on the ground next to A with a shattered arm. They get him up on his feet, and together everyone leaves the dungeon back to town.

A and B are let go from their contracts, and given a small AD&D payout.

Gains: 35cp
Kills: 6 Orcs, 5 Higher Baboons
Losses: A & B retire from adventuring