Monday, December 31, 2012

A tabletop RPG of a tabletop RPG would be a pretty interesting game.

Stumbled across this old storyline from PvP a few months back, but never got around to posting about it.

Credit: PvP.
An tabletop roleplaying game where you play as a group of people playing an RPG sounds like it would be awesome. What's interesting is that Scott Kurtz actually lays out a pretty good outline of how the game would work throughout the strips. For example, only female characters have access to charisma and only women can play a female character. You can have your character cheat, provided he has the necessary skills and alignment. It's too bad he never developed the idea into an actual game. I'd play it.

You can read the rest of the strips here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

HeroQuest: The first and only tabletop RPG I've ever played

When I was a kid, I used to sleep over at my brother and his family during the summers. One night, and this was something in like 1994 or there abouts, he showed me this new board game he'd gotten and some of you may have heard of it: HeroQuest.

While the game box says 2-4 players, I went solo, while my brother DMed. To say it didn't go so well would be an understatement. I ran into two skeletons and burned through all four characters - a barbarian, a wizard, a dwarf, and an elf - in short order. It was a one time session, because I didn't find it all that much fun as a result of my disaster first time. About two years later, he gave me the game, but I never played it again. Instead, I would set the board out on my bed and read the manual, setting up the board for each level and playing with the miniatures.

I don't know what became of it, but HeroQuest disappeared and I mostly forgot about it as time passed. The game would come to mind from time to time, but I could never remember the name. Since starting Swords, Dragons, and Nerds, I start thinking about the game more often and not being able to recall its name nagged me to hell. That is, until I saw this post on Tower of the Archmage* and I had one of them "aha!" moments.

With the name now in hand, I took to Google and found the Wikipedia article about HeroQuest and discovered some interesting tidbits. The game was a collaboration between Milton Bradley and Games Workshop. Not only that, but the game is set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It was much lighter than D&D, but probably succeeded in acting as a gateway to D&D and other RPGs.

HeroQuest wasn't the first RPG I played, Dragon Warrior on the Nintendo and some JRPGs on the Super Nintendo came first, but it and they helped foster my interest in RPGs. HeroQuest won't be the only tabletop RPG I ever play. Someday, I want to eventually find a group where I live who have an open spot for a newbie. Hopefully, they'll be into OSRs.

*Where I also snagged the picture. Tip of the hat for that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Picture inspiration: Destroyed abbeys

Both pictures are by 19th century German artist Casper David Friedrich.

The Abbey in the Oakwood.
Ruins of Eldena near Greifswald.
I like both of these paintings because of ideas and possibilities they invoke. In a fantasy setting, these could be the ruins of abbeys or monasteries long abandoned by their monks or nuns. Or, maybe they were once the headquarters for an order of paladins, their halls echoing with the sounds of holy warriors marching in full armor. Finally, maybe they were a retreat of sorts for priests who needed to recharge themselves after strenuous questing or missionary work.

As for their demise, there's a number of possibilities. Perhaps they were destroyed by an enemy force, demonic or otherwise. Maybe the paladins formed the backbone of their kingdom's military and so they were attacked first in order to take them out of the equation. The enemy was successful and the buildings were left to nature to reclaim. Vikings were rather infamous for attacking these places because of the amount of loot they could plunder, so that's an idea.

A good idea is to look to history for some inspiration. The religious wars that took place in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are a great example. The paladins or other religious orders get caught in the middle of a war between two versions of the same religion, much like the wars between protestants and Catholics. In England, at around the same time, Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of all monasteries and abbeys in England, Wales, and Ireland when he established the Church of England.

Regardless, you could certainly use abandoned abbeys and monasteries as either a questing point or a nice little diversion from your campaign's main quest. There's bound to be items left behind in the decaying structures, things that were never looted or scavenged. Maybe the paladin or cleric in your party stumbles upon a holy relic or a new tome of spells or the like. A possible quest point could be to locate and bury the remains of the people who lived there and were killed by whatever disaster befell their home.

I'd imagine if your party were to come across any hostiles, it would probably be bandits or wild animals. They could also be mistaken for grave robbers by a passing patrol of soldiers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

[Updated] Penny Arcade's Vault of Winter

I like it when Penny Arcade veers off the usual gaming related comics. I really like it when they do fantasy-style stories like The Vault of Winter, which follows Acquisitions Inc. - Binwin Bronzebottom, Jim Darkmagic, and Dran - as they're hired to acquire the Enscriptor Malefica (aka naughty list) from the vault of Lord Wyntyr. Basically, it's a Christmas-themed story and so far, it's not bad. The above is the first part and you can read parts 2-5 here, here, here, and here. The mini-series isn't finished yet, but I figured it was worth posting about now.

Edit: Here's parts six and seven. There's also a missing eighth strip that Penny Arcade decided not to publish in light of the tragedy in Connecticut. You can see it here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Because this is a thing that existed and must be spread far and wide: Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. Enjoy.

This "Great Battles of Skyrim" video series is truly epic.

So I was going through the stuff I had starred in Google Reader and came across this post from Nerd Approved about a video called Great Battles of Skyrim Part 1. I guess I had marked to post here later, but plum forgot about it. Big mistake, because the video is awesome as sh*t.

I don't know what kind of mods Tyrannicon used or if black magic was involved, but he deserves a Orson Welles ovation.

There are more videos - apparently, this was just the first episode of the first season - and they're quite conveniently compiled into a playlist for your viewing pleasure.

I am alive, despite the best efforts of others

Lo! For I faced many dangers and hazards. I was on my merry way to the old blog when suddenly, I was accosted by the Warduke! Not having a weapon or the courage/stupidity to tangle with that sucker, I skedaddled out of there and ended up taking refuge in a cave. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack a torch and wouldn't you know, the cave was a nesting ground for grue. Having narrowly escaped, I ran into a quartet of Hobbits, an elf-dwarf couple, a ranger, wizened wizard, and for reasons unexplained, Sean Bean. They were off to some place called Mount Doom and though the name sounded foreboding, I saw the Warduke poking around nearby and took my chances with the Hobbits.

I left after Sean Bean was killed by Orcs (man, that guy dies a lot) and the party split up, and made my way back towards the blog. I was accosted by the Warduke again and as I prepared for death the only noble and proper way possible - by losing all bladder control - I discovered that he wasn't there to cleave me in two. No, he had an extra ticket to The Hobbit and wanted to know if I wanted to see the movie. We went, it wasn't a date, and the dude smacks his mouth when he eats popcorn. Also, he beheaded a dude who was messing around with his cell phone during the movie. Warduke doesn't tolerate that kind of crap.

Actually, I was just completely and utterly burned out and couldn't bring myself to post anything. Same thing happened with my scifi blog. I think a big reason for the burn out was binging on so much fantasy lit over the summer. Fortunately, I'm recharging myself, thanks to Summer Knight, the fourth book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series. Urban fantasy was just the shot in the arm I needed!

I haven't finished it yet, but it is so goddamn good. I've had to restrain myself a bit when reading it, because I don't want to overdo it and burn out again. I highly recommend this series, though. A wizard detective in Chicago? Hell yes.

Picture via Barnes & Noble.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Inheritance by Michael C. Hayes

Michael C. Hayes.
I really like this picture because of the ideas that it brings to mind. Who is the boy? Who did the sword and shield belong to? Maybe he's a prince or the son of a noble (a Duke or Baron) who's father has been killed in a far off battle and the weapons are being bequeathed to him as his inheritance? Another approach is that they were made for him after he was born and he's reached that age where he's to start training to fight for his father or monarch.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finished S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire

And goddamn, Dies the Fire was excellence. I'll write up a non-review later, but it was excellent. With that out of way, it's time to move on to something else. I have three in mind:

Unofficial S.M.Stirling Fan Page.
The Protector's War is the sequel to Dies the Fire. I'm a bit worried about burning myself out on the Emberverse by jumping to the next book so quickly.

Lord of the Rings Wiki.
Partly because the first part of trilogy is coming out in December, but mostly because I want to read more of the classics. I did read a bit of this last year and enjoyed it.

A Wiki of Ice and Fire.
It's been several months since I finished A Game of Thrones and I'd like to be at least halfway through A Storm of Swords before season three of Game of Thrones airs, so I should probably get to reading A Clash of Kings soon.

What to choose, what the choose?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh good lord, it wasn't a bad dream after all - Arnold Schwarzenegger taking up the Conan mantle again

Should be noted that he's 65 years old and while he's not completely flabby, his body isn't exactly 1982 level either. The movie will be called the The Legend of Conan, is a direct sequel to the first movie, so they're effectively de-rebooting the franchise or re-rebooting or restoring it to the last save point. They're also ignoring Conan the Destroyer. From what I can tell, the inspiration for LoC was the very end of Conan the Barbarian, where he's shown sitting on a throne with a crown on his head and so the new movie will carry off from that, showing an aged Conan.

I'm a bit mixed about this. On one hand, Conan the Barbarian was a great movie and if you've read some of the stories, it gets even better. On the other hand, I think it's a bit unfair to Jason Momoa. Insulting, to be honest. I know his Conan movie wasn't as well received as the original, but ditching him and it like this just comes off as a middle finger. I'm also not too thrilled about the idea (or the alcoholism-inducing mental image) of a senior citizen running around in a loin cloth and swinging a sword.

There are just some things a person should never have to see in their life. :P

Picture via The Blog That Time Forgot.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Interesting games: Spears of the Dawn

Since posting links to Kickstarters seems to be a popular thing with blogs, I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon and link to one myself. Spears of the Dawn is a fantasy RPG by Kevin Crawford, the maker of Stars Without Number, that has an interesting theme - medieval Africa. I like Crawford's reason for doing it:
Spears of the Dawn is intended to be an encouragement to other indie game designers. For decades, we've heard the common wisdom- "African games don't sell," people say. "People can't identify with African character art." "Medieval Africa hasn't got the variety and flavor of medieval Europe." "Players aren't comfortable with an African-flavored setting."

I've just laid down a $3,000 bet that the common wisdom is wrong. I've written this game, commissioned the art, and already paid out $1,800 of the budget in art costs. I've brought on the superb artistic talents of people like Nicole Cardiff, Luigi Castellani, Earl Geier, Andrew Krahnke, and Ian MacLean. I've gone to the sources, looked at the histories, checked out the mythology, and I can say with perfect confidence that medieval Africa provides amazing material.
Going by the fact that the Kickstarter has already surpassed its $3,000 goal, I'd say people are interested in an Africa-themed RPG. I just like the fact that there's going to be an RPG out there that isn't based on medieval Europe. Freshens things up a bit.

h/t Blog of Holding.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Speaking of guns

Wargaming blog Paul's Bods has several pictures of medieval artillery and I figured maybe it might be relevant to the last post. The miniatures are pretty nice, actually and includes a pot-de-fer, bombards, and veuglaire. Definitely saving that post for future reference.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A big bang: Artillery in fantasy

You don't really see it much in fantasy, do you? Artillery. Cannons, with the big booms and the big balls turning some poor bastards into a red stain and a column of brave soldiers into a slaughter house. Wow, that was a bit morbid, wasn't it? Well, in any case, it's a bit of an anachronism that you don't, especially since cannons existed during the middle ages. The Turks famously used them to batter the walls of Constantinople, ending the Byzantine and by extension, the Roman Empire. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, Europe started making use of cannons during the late middle ages, with the earliest one being something called a pot-de-fer, which debuted during the Hundred Years' War.

Granted, I'm still a relative n00b when it comes to fantasy fiction, so I'm probably generalizing. I suppose the reason you don't see them around in fiction is because writers are probably afraid of pushing the tech level to that point because where there are cannons, guns are sure to follow. I don't think that has to be. It would be simple just to BS an excuse for firearms not to exist in a fictional world, especially since the early ones were just godawful - literally just metal tubes mounted on wood.

Looks like it's going to be another Conan spree

I swear to Crom, those Ace paperbacks the library has will be the death of me. I made the mistake of taking one of them, Conan of Cimmeria, off the shelf just to take a peek at the table of contents. Just a peek! But, as soon as I gazed upon "The Frost Giant's Daughter", I knew I was lost. Despite its decrepit state, I also grabbed the first Ace Conan book, even though the thing is about five seconds from falling away.

Then I grabbed Kull: Exile of Atlantis because of reasons. Damn, I always fail my saving throws when it comes to Robert E. Howard!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Revolution gets a full season pickup and a thought on last night's episode (spoilers)

First off, WOO HOO! I was deathly afraid that Revolution wouldn't get renewed, but I guess NBC is at least willing to give it a go. Apparently, the show hasn't been doing too well in the ratings when it airs, but its saving grace was the fact that a lot of people are recording it on their DVRs and watching it later. Give whoever invented those things a f*cking medal! Hit the jump for a thought I had on last night's episode, No Quarter, but fair warning:

Topless Robot's 8 Things That Ruin D&D Games

Before anything else, can we all stop and take a moment to appreciate the fact that Bill Amend managed to reference LOTR, D&D, and Warhammer in a nationally syndicated comic strip?

Now, on to business. As soon as I saw this list, I knew I had to post it. The list includes such things as poor gaming location, forcing a session when some or all of the players' just aren't feeling it, and having a craptastic DM. Number eight on the list really caught my attention, though: "Putting Wayyy Too Much Money Into It". It instantly made me think of OSR, and the retro-clones. Oh, OSR and your supporting blogs, you have spellbound me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dragons did exist in Medieval England!

Contrary to recent opinions, dragons did in fact exist in Medieval England and in Asia too. They were driven extinct by way of a deadly epidemic, a disease called Dragonis Killitis and over hunting by overzealous dragon hunters. In Asia, the dragons, of course, were wiped out by the commies in China back during the 60s and 70s. In Japan, they were eaten by Kaiju. Terrible losses all.

The reason why people think dragons never existed is because of a worldwide conspiracy orchestrated by the ever fiendish Illuminati, a secret society led by Kim Kardashian who, as you all should know, controls the world.

Yeah, that's right, I just blew the lid off that mofo! Open your eyes, sheeple!

Oh shit, I hear black helicopters. Gotta go!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I was born, six gun in my hand

The perfect theme song for any adventuring party. Might have to replace "six gun" with a more setting appropriate weapon, like a sword or whatever for fantasy and a blaster for scifi. Post-apoc games need no adjustment.

On dungeons, maps, and orc wangs (NSFW)

Fair warning, this comic has a bit of potty language.

Click to embiggen.
Oh, Hijinks Ensue, how I love you. It would be funny as f*ck if that happened in a game, though. Characters getting lost and winding up in completely different locations than their other party members.

"Dammit, where the hell is that tavern?"
"The directions said take a left at the Tomb of Horrors and a right at Blackmoor Castle, so how the hell did I wind up in the Abyss?"
"Huh, this looks more like a hive of scum and villainy than a tavern. No wait, it's just an Applebee's."

Then of course there's the guy who ends up at a brothel instead, but doesn't complain at all.

I double dare a DM to include an Orc fornication chamber in their next session. >:D

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paladins and morale

Back when I got Warcraft III, one of the first things I did was reading the manual. I'm a big fan of game lore and Warcraft has one of the best, IMO. One of the things that caught my attention was this passage about the Death Knights, a hero unit in WCIII (emphasis's mine):
Death Knights were once virtuous defenders of Humanity. However, once the Paladin ranks were disbanded by the failing Alliance, many of these holy warriors traveled to the quarantined lands to ease the suffering of those left within the plague-ridden colonies. Though the Paladins were immune to disease of any kind, they were persecuted by the general populace who believed that they had been infected by the foul plague. A small band of Paladins, embittered by society's cruelty, traveled north to find the plague's source. These renegade Paladins succumbed to bitter hatred over the course of their grueling quest. When they finally reached Ner'zhul's icy fortress in Northrend they had become dark and brooding. The Lich King offered them untold power in exchange for their services and loyalty. The weary, vengeful warriors accepted his dark pact, and although they retained their humanity, their twisted souls were bound to his evil will for all time. Bestowed with black, vampiric Runeblades and shadowy steeds, Death Knights serve as the Scourge's mightiest generals.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The hits, they're over 9000!

Actually it's ten thousand, but I'm not passing up a chance to post this video.

More posts to come soon and thanks for the all the fish, I mean hits!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New post-apocalyptic TV series Revolutions - First impressions

So, NBC actually had a smart idea and posted the pilot episode for the new J.J. Abrams post-apocalyptic series Revolution online for free. They had another smart idea and made the video embeddable.

Revolution is set fifteen years after a mysterious event kills everything that runs on electricity and in a single moment, the entire world is thrown back several hundred years, tech-wise. As you might expect of something from the post-apocalyptic genre, society collapses and warlords emerge to carve our their own kingdoms with their militias. However, there's a twist here, with the possibility raised that the effects of the aforementioned event could be reversed and not surprisingly, that potential will be craved by less than savory factions.

Hit the jump for the video and my thoughts on it. Fair warning, the episode is over 43 minutes long, so you might want to set aside some time, lol.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How about some Fallout 3 music?

The Ink Spots - I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire. Enjoy.

Speaking of Fallout 3, I'm also planning on expanding Swords, Dragons, and Nerds to include post-apocalyptic fiction. I know the stuff usually falls under science fiction or speculative fiction, but I think it would fit better here than on Rayguns and Space Suits, which I want to keep focused on scifi like space opera, military science fiction, and such.

The OSR is not dead, it's just regenerating

Granted, I'm not a tabletop RPG player and have no connection to the OSR - Old School Renaissance, the community/subculture that popped up in response to dissatisfaction with Wizards of the Coasts' handling of D&D - but I'm a bit bewildered by the numerous proclamations going around about it being dead or dying. The reason behind these proclamations is the fact that at the recent GenCon, WOTC announced that they were going to be publishing their entire catalog of tabletop RPGs as PDFs, including the old D&D stuff. Somehow, having the original games and campaign settings that so many retro-clones are based on or inspired by making a comeback means that the OSR has no meaning or purpose anymore.

To be frank, this is complete, total, and utter bullshit of the highest order. I mean, are gamers supposed to put their copies of Dungeon Crawl Classic, Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, etc. to the torch now? Are Kickstarters for new retro-clones supposed to be abandoned, now that WOTC is putting  their old shit back out there? As I already said, the OSR is a reaction to and against the way WOTC has been handling the Dungeons & Dragons property, presumably ever since they bought out TSR, Inc. in 1997. Now, the OSR needs to transform from a rebellion to a celebration of old school gaming. Think of it like how on Doctor Who, the Doctor regenerates whenever he's gravely injured. You can play Blackmoor and still play DCC, no one's going to chop off your dice throwing hand, bro.

Like I said, I'm not a tabletop gamer and my only connection to OSR is from the blogs I like to read, but it just seems downright retarded to abandon an entire subgenre of gaming and its subculture for no real reason at all.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In which I answer 20 questions about stuff

Questions via Ray from Don't throw a 1.

1. Favourite Wargaming period and why?
Well, I'm not a wargamer, though I do plan on collecting miniatures when I have the money to. But, I don't think I have a preferred era - they all look good to me. I would be interested in doing something somewhat modern, like Franco-Prussian, Russo-Japanese War, WWI, or Korea.

2. Next period, money no object?

3. Favourite 5 films?
A tough one, for sure. I'd have to count the LOTR Trilogy as a single movie, since it told a continuous story. Superman I & II, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There are many more, of course.

4. Favourite 5 TV series?
Doctor Who, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory, Adventure Time, pro wrestling, Castle.

5. Favourite book and author?
Boy, not making it easy, eh, Ray? It's hard to pick between John Scalzi, David Weber, Elizabeth Moon, and Jack Campbell, but I'll have to go with Scalzi. Damn fine scifi writer. Old Man's War by Scalzi is great.

6. Greatest General? Can’t count yourself!!
I'm going to say Dwight Eisenhower because of his position as Supreme Allied Commander. I really respect and admire the fact that he was willing to take the fall if D-Day had failed.
7. Favourite Wargames rules?

8. Favourite Sport and team?
What's a sport? Is it a kind of cheese or something?

9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?
Back to 1998 and knock some sense into my dumb fool head about taking my education seriously and staying in school.

10. Last meal on Death Row?

Amazing Super Powers!
 Hey, it's worth a shot.

11. Fantasy relationship and why?
Morgon Ironwolf. Oh, you didn't mean that kind of fantasy! Honestly can't think of anyone.

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?
Chuck Norris. No, no, probably Michael Cera, because he's the default nerd actor.
13. Favourite Comic Superhero?
Any superheroine who fights crime in a bodice, fishnet, and high heels, but somehow avoids a "wardrobe malfunction". Aside from that, Hawkeye.
14. Favourite Military quote?
"They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can't get away from us now!" - General Chesty Puller.
15. Historical destination to visit?
Battle Abbey, just for its name alone.
16. Biggest Wargaming regret?
17. Favourite Fantasy job?
Not having to work. I'm stealing an answer from TamsinP from Wargaming Girl. Actually, if I were rich, I'd probably open a combination comic book store/game shop.

18. Favourite Song Top 5?
None come to mind.

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?

20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you?
 American politics and political system. Being stuck with two major parties is just plain shitty.

Magic and aging

What if using magic caused a character to age? An interesting question, one inspired by Brendan of Untimately, who wrote a post back in June about it. His idea, was a game mechanic that sees a character aging days as a consequence of using healing magic. Another chap, Talysman, responded with the idea of the aging occurring as a chance, in that when a player rolls die to see how much HP they've recovered, there's a chance the character could age years. Brendan did a later post about it and he explains it better than I can:
Whenever a character is healed magically, there is a percentage chance to age one year equal to the number of HP so healed, minus the character's constitution modifier. For example, if a character with 10 (average) constitution is magically healed 6 HP, there is a 6 percent chance of ageing. If a character had a +1 constitution modifier, the same healing would result in a 5 percent chance of aging.

Holy crap, one year strong!

So, one year ago I decided to create a side blog for my new found (and quite flourishing) fandom in fantasy fiction. At the time, I was seemingly making nothing but fantasy related posts on my other blog and fearing an unintended take over/assimilation, Swords, Dragons, and Nerds was born. Honestly, I didn't think it would last. It was a spur of the moment thing and I had tried running multiple blogs before with little success, so I figured it would last two weeks (if I was lucky) and then I'd just roll it into Giant-Size Nerd-Thing!.

Welp, I was wrong. And while my posting has declined a bit, I still have a love for fantasy that rivals my love for science fiction and everything else. I'm going to try and give my posting rate an uptick and make those posts more substantial than just pictures and comics. I have a lot of ideas rolling around in my head that I want to get out.

Now for some stats:

Posts: 129 (130 counting this one)
Hits: 8,459 (second highest of my four blogs)
Followers: 21 (holy crap!)

Thanks to all of my readers, followers, and everyone who's put me on their blogroll.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Just to be clear, the Pandarans were around before Kung Fu Panda. Interestingly, Pandarans were originally an April Fools joke for Warcraft III that Blizzard staged years ago. Since then, Pandarans have become a running joke with fans and I guess Blizzard decided to finally put them in a game. I don't play WoW, but the video is spectacular.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Speaking of The Hall of the Dead

It was okay, nothing to write home about. I thought the story was far too short at around 26 pages and it was bereft of action. It felt like it was nothing more than a transitional story, something Howard wrote to explain what Conan did after the events of The Tower of the Elephant and to set things up for The God in the Bowl. It also felt rushed. Of the Conan stories I've read so far, The Hall of the Dead is the weakest.

Rating: 3/10.

The Wind, what is its Name?

So, I finished "The Hall of the Dead" the other day, but I've decided not to continue reading the Conan book because, honestly, every time I open it, I'm afraid it'll fall apart in my hands. So, I've opted instead to move on to the next book, Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind. I actually read a bit of this about a year or so ago, then bought my own copy back in January, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Now's as good as any!

Picture via Goodreads.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Currently reading: Conan!

I wasn't too sure about it at first, since my local library's only copy looks like its been smashed about by the Hulk, but I can't resist Conan. The only reason I'm on page 81 already is because I've read the previous stories a few months back. I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the book or just nibble on one or two stories. We'll see.

(via Paperback Fantasies)

Great, now I want to play Gamma World

Click to embiggen.
Hawkman with a laser gun? I'm in. What is Gamma World? Welp, it's sort of like Fallout, but on crack. It's a post-apocalyptic game where you can play as a human, android, mutated plant or animal. Yes, a mutated plant. Fear the hordes of Asparagus Men!

(via Penny Arcade)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

There and back again - Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist

Oh look, another post about Riftwars...
Sick of them yet? This will be the last one about Feist's excellent series for a while - after reading the Apprentice and Master in quick succession, I need a break! That, and none of the libraries in the area have the third book of the Riftwars Saga, A Darkness at Sethanon, which puts a bit of a damper on reading the rest of the series at the moment. Unlike the last nonreview, this one won't be as long. Hit the jump.

Monday, August 6, 2012

All this stuff about the Curiousity Mars rover is nice and all, but a burning question is left unanswered

Where's all the Martian princesses at?

Burroughs said there would be half-naked Martian chicks. D:

But in all seriousness, landing a car-sized robot on another planet when there's like a half-hour delay in transmission between Earth and Mars is an amazing feat. Yes, Curiosity isn't the first robot we've sent to the Red Planet, nor will it be the last, but it never fails to astound. Hopefully, one day men and women will join all the rovers on Mars...and have sloppy makeouts with all the Princesses of Mars.

Picture via The Realm of Ryan.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A boy named Pug

Let's start off with the pros, followed by the cons, then we'll move on to my thoughts.

Pros: Surprisingly good story, considering the tropes involved. Nice pacing. Enjoyable characters and an exciting plot and twits.
Cons: Would've liked more information about Crydee and the Duke. While the characters were enjoyable and fairly deep, some just seemed to blend together or we a tad bland. Would've liked a bit more attention focused on some.

Thoughts: First off, here's the plot (roughly): The novel's plot, while seeming to start out as the standard "orphan destined to become a great hero and oh look, a wizard with a long white beard" type of fantasy story, it quickly morphs into something else. The plot is actually about two worlds. On one side, you have Midkemia, home of Pug and the rest of the heroes. On the other, Kelewan, home to the Tsurani, a warrior race who forged an empire on their world. Through the use of magic rifts (portals, basically), the Tsurani discover Midkemia and decide to conquer it.

Hit the jump for the rest, but beware of spoilers.

The Apprentice has become the Master - Raymond E. Feist's Magician: Master

More accurately, the second half of Magician. When Magician was published in the U.S., it was split into two books: Apprentice and Master, so I figured "what the hell" and decided to read it before moving on to something else. I'm only on the 16th page, so all I know so far is that Master takes place four years after the end of Apprentice. Pug has a beard now. Speaking of Apprentice, I'm going to start writing the "review" now. Expect it soon.

Picture via Saltmanz.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Oh my god dude, what?

Remember kids, just say no to crack.
The real mindfuck? This actually happened. This is from Our Valued Customers, a webcomic based on actual things the creator, Tim Chamberlain sees and hears at the comic book store that he works at. So yeah, some girl actually had her ears surgically altered to look like elf ears. There is but one response to this kind of fuckery: the double facepalm.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Roll a die for him, Happy Gary Gygax Day!

Going by the plethora of posts I've been seeing, today is a geek holiday marking what would have been the 74th birthday of Gary Gygax, creator of D&D and father of roleplaying games in general. While I've never played Dungeons and really, only ever played a pen and paper RPG once in my entire life, I am a fan of RPG video games and because of that, I raise my glass in solemn and heartfelt thanks to him. Without him, there probably would not be a Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Star Ocean, Mass Effect, or Dragon Age series.

Thanks Gary!

Picture via Futurama Wiki. Oh, and hat tip to Eli Arndt, since I stole his idea of using a picture from the episode of Futurama that Gygax was in.

Cirith Ungol

The alt text is worth reading:
My all-time favorite example of syntactic ambiguity comes from Wikipedia: 'Charlotte's Web is a children's novel by American author E. B. White, about a pig named Wilbur who is saved from being slaughtered by an intelligent spider named Charlotte.'
It took me a minute to grasp the meaning, but once I did, it was worth a snicker. The joke is that it sounds like Wilbur had to be saved from Charlotte, rather than Charlotte saving him from being slaughtered. The strip and title themselves are references to Cirith Ungol, the pass that Gollum led Frodo and Sam through on the way to Mordor. The pass led to Torech Ungol, home of that big old spider, Shelob. Basically, Randall Munroe managed to make a reference to both LOTR and Charlotte's Web in one comic. Gotta love xkcd.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yet another book to read: Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist

Dual reading is fun. I didn't intend to add this book to the mix, but I took it off the shelf at ye old librarium and figured "what the hell." Actually, I took it and two other Feist books: Shadow of a Dark Queen because I wasn't sure if it or Magician was the first book of his Riftverse, and Talon of the Silver Hawk because I thought it was an unrelated series. Well, Magician is the first and Silver Hawk is related to the series, so I guess those two are out of consideration at the moment. Here's the summary, then hit the jump for more.
To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry. Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.

And The Hobbit duology might become a trilogy

So much for our wallets, lol. Apparently Peter Jackson and the Studios are mulling it over and if they do it, Jackson will somehow create a third movie using Tolkien's own notes. Cripes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ahoy there! Navies in Warcraft II

Elven Destroyer.
One of my favorite things about Warcraft II - the ships! One of the things that disappointed me about Warcraft III - the lack of ships! It was fun as hell to build up a small squadron of ships and send them out on the prowl for defenseless transports or oils tankers, or taking an enemy squadron by surprise. In the game, ships also had the ability to fire on air units, as well as shore bombardment. I always imagined how fun it would be to wage a battle while destroyers and battleships provide artillery support. Then there were the subs: Gnomish submarine for the Alliance and Giant Turtle for the Horde. Nothing quite like sneaking up on an enemy ship and let the torpedoes rip!
Horde Juggernaut.

Warcraft III did have ships, but they unfortunately, you couldn't use them like in WC2, so it was pretty disappointing, especially since the graphics were 3D.

I wouldn't mind seeing a Warcraft naval wargame or really, a Warcraft wargame period. Hint, hint, Blizzard. HINT HINT.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Currently reading: Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Because I've waited long enough to return to Discworld. Almost a year, in fact. I stopped reading the books because I could never get a hole of Sourcery. You see, my local library has a collection of the books and that's what I was drawing from. Unfortunately, someone kept checking out Sourcery and rather than skip over it, I decided just to wait for it to become available. Then I stopped going to the library for many, many months, because they never seemed to have anything of interest. Even after I started going back, I didn't feel the itch to dive back into Discworld until the other day, when I checked it and Wyrd Sisters out. Now that I've finished A Game of Thrones, it's high time I get to reading some Discworld. It shouldn't take more than two or three days to finish it, then I'll move on to something else before laying into Wyrd Sisters.

Picture via The Annotated Pratchett File.

In a game of thrones, you either finish the book or you die

Literacy can be very dangerous. Seeing as how I'm not dead, we can safely assume that I finished A Game of Thrones. Only a few hours ago, actually. I'm not going to write a review, I both suck at them and it took me well over a year to finish the book. When I first started reading it, I don't even think Game of Thrones was even announced and when it was, I decided to finish AGoT before the first season aired. That didn't happen, as I overdid it and burned myself out on the book. After that, I read the book off and on until recently, when I decided to finally finish the thing.

Anyway, I liked the books, especially where it differed with the TV series. AGoT has much more depth than the show, but I like them both about the same, with the former edging out the latter. As a result of the show, however, I kept picturing the characters in the book as their TV equivalent, but I'm not complaining. I didn't really have a mental image for any of them, save for Tyrion, and what he looked like in my mind was vastly inferior to Peter Dinklage. If I had to give A Game of Thrones a rating, I'd like 9.75/10. The length was a bit wearing and it's not even the longest book. Oh boy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Damn wizards and their wind spells

So, I managed to survive Stormageddon 2012, despite the best efforts of wizards and Phaulkon. Rather not repeat it, though. Those winds were pretty damn intense, apparently clocking up to 90 miles per hour! It's pretty damn impressive and a bit frightening when you see a tree that's been uprooted by wind. Anyway, my parents and I were among the two million who lost power Friday night and it wasn't restored for us until six this morning. That was a rough weekend for everybody because were also in the midst of a heatwave and trust me, you never want to have to deal with 100 degree (up to 105 in some areas) weather during a blackout.

I did do a good deed this weekend, however. We're neighbors with an old couple and Saturday afternoon the lady came over and asked my dad for help: her husband, who's been in declining health, had fallen on the floor and she needed help getting him up. I was dozing at the time, but woke up and as soon as he told me what had happened, I was fully awake, out the door, and hauling ass over there before he had even gotten to his shoes. Her husband was fine, the heat just got to him; poor guy was covered in sweat. My dad told them that if he had to, he would park his minivan in front of their house and use it to power a fan (via an adapter he just bought) to help them beat the heat. Fortunately, her husband's niece came by to check on them everyday and brought them bags of ice.

She thanked us both profusely, but I was just obeying my alignment. :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What the Avengers really do in between missions

I'm digging Hulk as the DM. You'd figure someone like Tony would be the one running the game, but that was a nice twist. I just wonder what their character classes would be:
  • Iron Man: Fighter.
  • Thor: The obvious choice would be fighter, what with his hammer. On the other hand, he has the ability to summon lightning, so maybe a paladin or a stormlord?
  • Wasp: Wizard, as per the picture.
  • Giant-Man: Alchemist? Some kind of spellcaster?
  • Captain America: Paladin, obviously.
  • Hawkeye: Fighter.
  • Black Widow: Rogue.
  • Hulk: Battlerager/Berserker.
Picture via The Warlock's Home Brew.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In a Game of Blogs, you either make 100 posts or you die


It's a terribly serious game. The burn ward is always full. Anywho, this marks the 100th post of Swords, Dragons, and Nerds, so see you suckers later, I'm out.

Okay, not really, but thanks for the patronage and support. I'm actually amazed that this thing has managed to accumulate over 5500 hits. It isn't much, but a lot more than I thought I'd get. At any rate, I do have a question, though: How many of you have me in your blogrolls? I know The Lair of the Breviks and Daddy Grognard both do, and I'm almost certain that there's a third blog, whose name escapes me at the moment. I'm curious because it'll help me gauge how well I'm doing with this blog.

How much is that Balrog in the window?

"'fraid it's not enough, son." The blacksmith pronounced 'son' as 'soon'.

Merle looked down at the small collection of coins in his right hand, frowning at the imbalance between bronze and silver, then looked up at the other man sheepishly. "'s all I have...sir."

The smith, a squat man of balding orange hair grumbled and inspected the coins again, pushing the bronze aside for any silvers he missed. He grunted. "Still not enough, son. Even my cheapest armor and weapons cost more than all that."

The young man bit his lip and fought off a tremble that threatened to run loose through his body. He could feel a tear start to form in the corners of his eyes. "Please...I need weapons and armor, I'll promise to work them off."

"Not hiring and the constabulary frowns on free labor."

"I'll send money back from jobs and whatever loot I can muster."


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