Sunday, December 1, 2013

I think I just found the perfect Christmas gift for RPGers

d20 ice mold from ThinkGeek!

I'm not even going to pretend that most of you folks don't know about this already, but it's so freaking cool, isn't it? Just imagine playing an OSR game, Traveler, whatever, with one of these bad boys in your glass.

Like a classy gent. They're only $11.99 too, which is surprisingly cheap.

h/t Laughing Squid.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Awesome news about the Warcraft movie and games

According to Kotaku, director Duncan Jones revealed at BlizzCon that the Warcraft movie won't be an adaption of World of Warcraft. Instead, the movie will be set during early wars between humans and Orcs, so closer to Warcraft and Warcraft II, I'm assuming. One big difference between the movie and the games is that the Horde will be led by Durotan, the father of Thrall. Durotan didn't take part in the two wars, as he and his clan were exiled shortly after arriving in Azeroth. It's a bit odd that they're not using Blackhand or Ogrimm Doomhammer, the warchiefs during the First and Second Wars, respectively..

Not a big deal, I'm just glad that they're starting from the beginning. I was worried that the Warcraft movie was going to be based on WoW. I'm actually intrigued by the idea that the movie will show both Durotan's and Anduin Lothar's (the leader of Azeroth's armies during the First War and leader of Alliance forces during the Second) point of view, so that the Horde isn't depicted as the stereotypical evil monsters. That fits with the franchise - in Warcraft 3, the Horde was revealed to have been tainted by demonic blood and had once been an honorable, shamanistic warrior society.

Speaking of games of my youth, Blizzard announced that they're going to release new versions of Warcraft, Warcraft II, and Warcraft II's expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal that will work on modern PCs. I'm assuming that they're talking about computers that run Windows 7 and 8, because Warcraft II runs on Vista pretty well. I'm hoping that this will maybe lead to Blizzard making another Warcraft RTS. One can dream.

h/t The Wertzone.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pedal powered battery charger and an IKEA refugee shelter (because of course IKEA makes refugee shelters) for your post-apocalyptic RPGs/world building needs

First up, Boing Boing posted a video detailing how to rig a bicycle to recharge batteries. Becky Stern, the woman behind the video explains that in the black out caused by Hurricane Sandy, she was able to use this method to stay online thanks to her friend Hackett setting this rig up. Check it out below.

Interesting. I can see this being useful as part of a quest in a post-apocalyptic RPG like Mutant Future or Gamma World.

Quest ideas:
  • Maybe a party has to construct one or several to help out a settlement
  • They find a piece of pre-apocalypse technology, but need to charge up its battery in order to activate it.
  • If the party has a base, they have to build some of these to power objects.
In terms of fiction/world building, a bicycle-turned-generator could be a fairly common sight in post-apoc settlements since bikes would likely be in abundance.

Second, Web Urbanist has this interesting shelter that the IKEA Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees teamed up to create for use in refugee camps. The shelters normally employed in the camps are only meant for temporary habitation.

Like the bike generator, these have uses in both gaming and world building:
  • Possibly a common sight in settlements or at the players base.
  • A quest aimed at acquiring a load of these shelters to bring to an existing settlement or to help establish a new one.
  • The main character(s) come across a warehouse or derelict truck with some of these inside and decide to appropriate them for their own use.
Are you a DM running a post-apoc RPG or a writer of post-apoc fiction? Do these look like something you'd use?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Barnes & Noble might be overdoing it on the A Song of Ice and Fire front

Went to a B&N today for the first time in six months and headed straight for the scifi/fantasy section. On one hand, I saw some books that I plan on getting next month or in January, but on the other hand, I saw something that actually ticked me off a little: four shelves dedicated to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Four shelves, all carrying varied types of hardcovers, paperbacks, and box sets, with only five books not part of that series. What ticked me off about it is the realization that in order to make room for the Martin bounty, they had to remove a lot of other writers' books, meaning that those people are going to get less money, especially if other B&N's did the same thing. Now, this might not be a problem for the more established writers, but what about the new ones? The folks who are just starting out and need every dollar they can get from book sales? I don't know, maybe I'm overreacting, but it just seems like Barnes & Noble is taking a giant piss on a lot of people.

As for the books that caught my attention:

The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearny.
The Eyes of God by John Marco.
The Darwin Elevator by James M. Hough.
Hooded Man: An Omnibus of Post-Apocalyptic Novels by Paul Kane.
Stark's War by John G. Hemry.

I'm forgetting a few. I know it's more than a little hypocritical to talk about buying books at a store that I ranted about in the same post, but there's nothing to be done about B&N's poor decision making.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

There's screwed, then there's screwed like a prom date in the back of a Volvo. This picture is of the latter sort

This is why the Devil is never allowed to DM.
(via Doktor Archeville)
I feel like if the DM puts something like this into a game, you're morally justified and obligated to introduce your foot to their nads.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's been a LOTR kind of day

(via Mad Cartoon Network Wiki)
Went to yard sales today and came back with a bit of Tolkien loot. One - which was held inside a stable because why not - yielded Ballantine paperbacks of The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy. I did googling when I got home and apparently they're the editions that Ballantine came out with in response to the famous Ace Books editions from the 60s. Surprisingly good condition all around for their age; although The Hobbit has what looks like some coffee stains on the cover, but nothing major. The covers were painted by an artist named Barbara Remington who, according to this website, only read the books after she had done the covers. Apparently she didn't have time to read them before hand because of a deadline, so he asked friends who had read the books to give her an overview of the series. Talk about winging it! She succeeded too.

Then at a church yard sale, someone was selling a Gandalf action figure from the LOTR movies for a dollar! That sucker will be sitting on top of my stereo.
(via Fantastic Reviews Blog)
One thing that I find interesting/amusing about the Ballantines is the statement from J. R. R. Tolkien himself on the back cover of all three books:
(via Tolkien Collector's Guide)
You can practically feel how ticked off he was about Ace releasing those paperbacks without his consent. Pretty understandable, but fortunately, he did end up getting quite a bit of loot from those sales and it really helped the fantasy genre as a whole by widening the readership.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I bet the government shutdown wouldn't have happened if the Lannisters were in charge

I mean, they are the richest of the great houses, so clearly, they're doing something right. Stannis wouldn't have let it happen either, but he would probably start putting people to death until the solution was solved. With the Starks, it probably wouldn't have happened to begin with because they would be more austere.

Apologies to anyone sick and tired of hearing about the shutdown or who have a distaste for politics. The comparison popped in my head and I couldn't help myself.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Penny Arcade doesn't like Brandon Sanderson?

This was today's comic, thought it might be of interest:

(via Penny Arcade)
Thoughts? I know Sanderson is a polarizing figure with some people loving his work and others thinking he's a hack, but how accurate do you think this comic is? Now, I've never read one of his books - I have a used copy of Mistborn that's sitting in my reading queue, but I haven't gotten to it yet - so I can't voice an opinion. I do think his magic systems are interesting, though, so that's something.

Edit: On the other hand, someone on their forums pointed out that this might be more of a criticism of Sanderson's more rabid, die hard fans than Sanderson himself. Then again, Tycho is pretty explicit about not liking Sanderson in the first panel, so who knows.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Image inspiration: Tom Hiddleston looks awesome in armor

Found these on Tumblr.
I did some googling and found that these are from The Hollow Crown, four-part TV adaptions of Shakespeare's  Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V. Tom Hiddleston played Henry V. I really dig the armor and cloak in those pictures.

In a fantasy or gaming world, I could see him being a noble. Maybe not a king or prince (well, not one high on the succession list), but definitely a noble - maybe a baron or earl. I could also see him being the leader of a band of mercenaries or a rebel army.

Pictures via paraph, h/t briecheek.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sif and Jane Foster get their own posters for Thor: The Dark World and they're pretty dang spiffy

Saw both of them on GeekTyrant today.

I like this one in particular. Sif's armor is decently realistic. Sure, her arms and legs are unarmored, but keep in mind that Sif is an Asgardian, so she's far more durable than the average human and heals faster too.

Also? Jaime Alexander is on my list of actresses who should play Wonder Woman.

I dig this one too because it has a fantasy feel to it. Love the shoulder armor (spauldrons? Pauldrons?) and vambraces.

In the post-apocalypse, everybody has nice clothes and perfect hair

Postapocalyptic chic.
(via Fanpop)
So I'm watching reruns of Revolution on Syfy and I'm reminded of one of the problems I had with the show. You might remember that I posted about Revolution back when it premiered last year, but for those who don't, Revolution is a post-apocalyptic series by Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural) and produced by J. J. Abrams. The premise is that some sort of event causes electricity to stop working. Now, it's an interesting show for sure, but the things that sort of turned me off are the characters' clothes and hair. The former look like they came straight off the rack at a department store and the latter is so blatantly the work of stylists, it actually takes you out of the show's world.
Maybe the show is sponsored by L'Oreal.
(via Revolution Wiki)

Now, I can see people looting retail stores and hoarding clothing and footwear, because the machinery used to mass produce that stuff no longer works, but I just find it hard to suspend my belief enough that decades after the power went bye bye, that people are still walking around a post-apocalyptic environ in clothes that look clean and brand new. As for hairstyles on this show, it's just impossible for me to suspend my belief that shampoo and conditioner still exists in abundance.

To be fair, the show is pretty damn good and worth watching, provided you can get past those two things.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Power of the mind: imaging in the Imager series (spoilers)

Like I mentioned in my post about Imager, one of the really interesting aspects of the book was the imaging ability of the titular imagers. As I explained, imaging is the ability to create or even move objects from one place to another (I suppose teleporting would be the right word) by imagining it with their minds. An early example of the latter is shown in an scene where Rhenn, the main character, moves a raisin from his bowl to his spoon, which allows him to finally come up with a solution to a problem that his teacher had him working on for several days. An example of the former is when he images a comb as a personal test to see whether or not he had any significant imager power.

There is a counter-balance to imaging, much like magic in other books. Imaging can be taxing, depending on the object being imaged. Simple objects are inconsequential, but the bigger, more complex an object is, the more exhausting it can be and it can also lead to headaches. The composition of an object also plays a factor. There's another point in Imager where Rhenn is tasked with imaging aluminum rods and after four hours, he's left worn out and with a headache. Another constraint is that there has to be enough material nearby to in order to create an object. Rhenn images a bookend during another point in the book, one made out of stone and glass, and he remarks to himself that there should be enough stone and sand in a nearby courtyard to do it.

Make no mistake, though, imaging isn't just creating or moving objects; it can be a deadly weapon. Rhenn is trained throughout the book in how to disable or kill using his powers, mostly by imaging air or chemicals into a person's heart or brain. He's also trained in more non-lethal approaches, such as imaging oil on the ground to slip someone up or tar to slow them down. He also learns how to create invisible shields to protect himself, which come in very handy. The most basic type of shield is an anti-imager one that doubles as an alarm to alert him if another imager tries to hit him with something. Aside from that, Rhenn learns to create and shape shields to protect himself from bullets, knives, and anything else short of an artillery shell.

Imaging is actually a very fascinating power, but I'm not entirely certain if it qualifies as a magic system. Then again, given some of the rather far-out systems I've read about (I'm looking at you, Brandon Sanderson), it could very well be magic. The question is, could it be used in a RPG?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I just realized that I read a lot more fantasy than science fiction

I don't have a solid ratio, but it feels like I read maybe two fantasy books for every one scifi book. The former might be a bit higher, though. On one hand, I'm happy because fantasy fiction is awesome as shit. On the other hand, however, it kind of sucks because I love science fiction just as much as fantasy. Of course, my love of scifi might be more grounded in TV, movies, and video games. It's funny because like I've mentioned before, I was not a fantasy reader until two years ago when I finally read a Discworld novel that I had owned for years. After that, a flood gate was opened and I read as much as my brain box could take.

Still can't read The Hobbit or LOTR, though.

Finished Imager

Not much to say that I haven't already said, so I'll just jump to the rating: 8.9/10.

Friday, September 13, 2013

L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Imager

via L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Wiki.
I've been reading this for the past two weeks and really enjoying it. The premise is that a young journeyman artist named Rhennythyl discovers that he's a imager and goes to Imageisle to learn how to control and use his new found powers. An imager is sort of like a magic user, I suppose. It's actually kind of hard to categorize imagers. Their powers allow them to create or teleport objects with their brain boxes, though the object they're trying to "image" taxes them, depending on what it is. A small, simple thing is a non-issue, but the larger, more complex a thing is, will leave this exhausted to varying degrees and/or with a headache, especially if the object is made out of certain materials. Not all imagers are powerful. Some are only able to due minor "imaging", while others are much more powerful.

An interesting aspect of the story is that imagers all live separate from society at what are called Collegiums. This is because regardless of whether an imager is untrained or trained, they're dangerous to everyone, including themselves. Primarily, this is because they can unwittingly use their powers while asleep. The other reason is because imagers don't exactly have the confidence and adoration of the public. They're not hated like mutants from Marvel Comics, but people tend to give them a wide berth and walk on eggshells when one is around.

Story-wise, Imager is a good book, but a slow in the beginning. Modesitt spends the first part of the book (I forget how many pages) focusing on Rhenn's years as a journeyman learning to become a portraiturist. That's one of the interesting things about this book. Artists are divided into several specialty fields and they're only allowed to sell paintings in whatever their field is. So, a portraiturist, for example, can only paint portraits for a living. They can paint other things as a hobby, but they can never sell those paintings, less they suffer the consequences. To be honest, this part of the book, while interesting, drags on longer than it probably should. However, once the ball gets rolling, it rolls! I also like the focus on Rhenn's training as an imager, especially the discussions he has with his teacher, which tend to be philosophical and cover subjects such as jurisprudence, government, taxation, etc.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm close, so I feel like I can give a recommendation on whether to read Imager or not: It depends. Like I said, the book starts out slow, but it picks up after a while. There's action, but its spread out throughout the book, so if you're one of those folks who like a lot of action in their fantasy reading, this might not tickle your fancy. If you don't much care for the amount of action or the lack thereof, then it might be worth checking out.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Well, that was a bust...

I don't go to big bookstores often because there isn't one in my town and the nearest is eight miles away. Not a great distance, mind you, but I don't like wasting other people's gas to get there (me driving? Madness!), so when I do go to one, I do it with the intent of buying as many books as I can afford.

Except when I don't. I rolled a natural one the other day. I voyaged to a Books-A-Million with the intention to buy some science fiction, or failing that, fantasy. Currently, there's an imbalance between the two, with the latter having the superior numbers, so I was looking to fix that and sate my scifi cravings. Unfortunately, they didn't have any scifi that piqued my interest, so I moved on to fantasy and found much the same. I don't know if its just the two stores I've been to, but Books-A-Million flops when it comes to having a decent selection of scifi/fantasy. They'll have several books by an author that I might want to read, but never the first book in the series. Truthfully, I've found that Barnes & Noble tends to have a better selection of scifi/fantasy, while Books-A-Million has a better selection of graphic novels.

Then there's the physical quality of the books themselves. Look, I can tolerate a new book having some dings to it, because hey, that's the perils of shipping and handling, but I am sure as f#ck not going to buy a brand new book that has a piece of the spine missing or a bent up cover. Here's an example of what I'm talking about: I've been reading L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Imager and was going to buy my own copy (I'm reading the library's) along with the second book in the series. Then, I looked at the spine - specifically, the corner where the cover and spine meet - and it looked like someone had taken their nail and scrapped off a piece. There was other damage to the book too. Unfortunately, BAM doesn't keep any extra copies in their backroom, so my only recourse would have been to have them order a copy for me and I really didn't feel like going through with that. I mean, if this had been a thrift store or a yard sale, I would have bought the book without giving it a second thought, because then it would have been a used book, but I'm not going to pay for a brand new book that looks like it's been mishandled.

There were a couple other books I considered, but by that point, I was feeling a bit deflated, so I bought a book for my mom instead (she's recovering in a nursing home/rehab center from something called a T.I.A.), so it wasn't a total loss.

There's a small indie bookstore downtown that I've ordered books from before, so that might be my future mode of procurement, since I can't rely on a chain store.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Two years!

Yup, two years ago today I created this blog because I had spontaneously gotten into reading fantasy and was absolutely devouring the stuff. Since then, my pace has slowed a bit, but I'm still reading several fantasy books a year. My posting rate on here has collapsed, however, which I'm working to rectify.

Here's to another year!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Randyll Tarly was a dick, wasn't he? (spoilers)

Alternate title: Let's have some truly random A Song of Ice and Fire thoughts.
Credit: Sardag.
Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire.

So, I recently picked up A Clash of Kings, figuring that after like two or three years, it would be a pretty good time to start progressing through the series. At the same time, I started reading stuff and things on the ASoIaF wiki, including the page about Randyll Tarly, the father of Samwell of the Night's Watch. Well, that reminded me of a thought I had had while reading A Game of Thrones and Tarly's treatment of his son. For those who haven't read the books or might not otherwise remember, Randyll Tarly despised his son because he basically wasn't Ron fucking Swanson and when his wife gave birth to a son who was more to his liking, he forced Samwell to take the black and join the Night's Watch. If he hadn't, Randyll would have arranged an unfortunate "accident" for his eldest son.
via Game of Thrones wiki.

I don't think he'll be winning Father of the Year anytime soon. Back then, I thought it was odd that Randyll had forced his son to take the black, as opposed to sending him to Oldtown to become a Maester*. One of Sam's rather "displeasing" (to his father) was his love of books, which to me, marks him out as a good candidate and it would have served the same purpose as sending him North to the Watch - Sam would have had to forfeit any claim he would have had to his father's lands or any inheritance whatsoever. Then it hit me: That's exactly why he sent Sam to The Wall. If he had sent him to the Maesters, then Sam might have grown up happy and Randyll Tarly so despised Sam that he didn't want his son to be happy.

If that doesn't make him a dick, I don't what will.

*I know he does eventually go to Oldtown to become a Maester.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Andre Norton's Quag Keep

Stolen shamelessly from Blog of Holding,
because I am lazy.
Found a copy at a thrift store over the weekend. I only recognized it because there's a blog named after it that I read sometimes. The book cost all of a buck, so I figured what the hell and bought it. It wasn't until I did some Googling that I found out that Quag Keep is the first D&D novel and is set in the world of Greyhawk. Double neat-o.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Realm of Darthon

I thought you guys might enjoy this. The other day, I was watching a marathon of Regular Show on Cartoon Network last Saturday and this episode came on called "But I Have a Receipt". In the episode, Mordecai and Rigby DM a tabletop RPG for game night, called The Realm of Darthon.
This reminds me of the box art to HeroQuest.
Regular Show wiki.
The episode is a homage to D&D and other tabletop RPGs and pokes fun at all of the stereotypes. For example, at one point during the game, the DM's guide says for one of the characters to roll a d50, but the game only came with a d48 and apparently, two marbles. During the same scene, Rigby is shown using one of those mechanical calculators, the ones with the spool of paper, in order to figure out whether or not one of the characters scored a hit. Eventually, Mordecai and Rigby realize that the game sucks and try to return it for a refund, but the store owner refuses because the game has already been opened. He also claims that they weren't using their imaginations when playing the game.

This is probably a bit more accurate than it should be, isn't it?
Regular Show wiki.
Well, what happens next is pretty typical of the show. Mordecai and Rigby decide to sabotage Darthon's sales by pointing out to potential customers how much the game sucks. One of my favorite parts is when they point out that all of the character classes and miniatures have the same head and face, but with different bodies. The store owner responds by raising the discount on the game until he's giving copies away for free with a purchase of gum. He then loses his shit and teleports (somehow. Just go with it) Mordecai and Rigby into the game, dressed as their characters, in order to prove that the game does not suck. Then, I guess he decides to murder them.

The two manage to turn the tables on him and defeat with a sword to the chest, which after they return to the real world, is revealed to be a ruler to the chest. Honestly, the attempted murder isn't even that shocking, given that they've been both directly and indirectly responsible for multiple deaths on the show. Anyway, the game store owner finally gives them their refund - seven dollars - and then drives himself home, with the ruler still sticking out of his chest.

I bet this would count as a critical hit. And attempted murder.
Regular Show wiki.
Pretty funny episode.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thoughts on The Eye of the World so far (minor spoilers)

Via Wikipedia.
Yes, I'm still reading it. In my defense, an 800+ page book isn't something that can be blown through easily, nor in the case of this one, should it. I'm nearing the 600 page mark and it's blown me away much like A Game of Thrones did. Having said that, the book didn't really pick up for me until Shadar Logoth and when group is scattered. That's not to say that the book before that was bad, but having eight protagonists traveling together gets a bit stale after a while. After Shadar Logoth, however, EotW picks up and becomes a real page turner. Can't wait to finish it.

Having said that, who the heck goes into a tomb with a dude named Mordeth? That's like going anywhere with Hannibal Lector.

So according to Google Reader, this blog has 42 subscribers and according to Feedburner, it has 51. Either way, holy cow!

I guess I should probably post more often then!

Monday, June 24, 2013

And this is your idiot of the month and maybe the entire year

On her discovery of GAME OF THRONES creator George R.R. Martin's books...
Here's the thing about the Our Valued Customers webcomic: it's all true. The strips are based off of actual, honest-to-god things that Tim Chamberlain, the creator of the comic, has overheard or seen at the comic book store that he works at. Someone actually said this!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pro-tip for adventurers

If you're camping in a lifeless husk of a once great city and you run into a stranger who asks you to help him haul treasure to his horses, don't.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's a nice day for a Red Wedding

A modified version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" song popped in my head tonight and after mentioning it on Tumblr, one of my followers pointed me to this video featuring that very thing. Check it out:

Personally, I think the people behind Game of Thrones should have paid Idol to record a Red Wedding version of his song and played it during that part of the episode and the credits. Just rub the salt into the wound there.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Finished: The Protector's War by S. M. Stirling

I decided to undertake a massive summer reading project, since I tend to read quite a lot during the summer months and I have loads of books that I've been wanting to read or finish. Top of the pile was The Protector's War, which I bought about a week ago from a used book store.

Emberverse Wiki.
The book is the second in Stirling's Emberverse series, which follows several groups of survivors after an unknown event (called the Change) robs the world of electricity, gunpowder, and explosives. Suddenly thrust back into the middle ages, the Bearkillers, Clan Mackenzie, and several other factions are forced to fight for survival in western Oregon and against the machinations of the Portland Protection Association, who desire to control the Willamette Valley as they can. Hit the jump for more, but beware of spoilers.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prepare yourselves, summer is coming.

I have no idea how the people of Westeros handled nine years of it. It hits 80 or 90 and I'm melting like those Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blood has been Promised

Via Facebook.
And it is excellent. Highly recommended. Also, hello, hi, I'm not dead. Over the hill though now, being 30 and all. Still reading Eye of the World too, but making decent progress, though.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Anyone remember the Conan the Adventurer cartoon?

Here's the intro to it.

I'm amazed that they managed to make a kid-friendly cartoon about Conan. The intro explains the premise of the show: Conan's family is turned to "living stone" by Wrath-Amon, a wizard lizardman who wanted this stuff called Star Metal that Conan's father had created from the metal of a meteorite. The metal would allow Wrath-Amon to open a portal and release his god, Set. The metal also had the ability to undo the human disguise of Wrath-Amon and his minions and reveal their serpenty selves, as well as banish them to the same dimension as Set with a simple touch. It was a clever way of side-stepping the violence of the Conanverse. Anyway, Conan's dad had forged the Star Metal into weapons, including a sword for Conan that the latter naturally used to fight Wrath-Amon in order to save his family.

There were several other characters on the show and each was armed with weapons that were also made out of Star Metal. Oh, and Conan had a shield that he could use to summon a smartass Phoenix.

The toys that went with this show sucked, though. Basically oversized chunks of plastic with no articulation except in the shoulders and the hips. Bleck.

Monday, March 11, 2013

George R. R. Martin's Appendix N (of sorts)

The other day on his blog, the much esteemed writer of A Song of Ice and Fire posted his recommendations for fantasy reading. Check it out:
For some readers I like to draw attention to the classics of our genre. It never ceases to amaze me to discover that some of my own fans have never heard of all the great fantasists who came before me, without whom A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE could never have been written... without whom, in truth, there might not be a fantasy genre at all. If you have enjoyed my own fantasy novels, you owe it to yourself to read J.R.R. Tolkien (LORD OF THE RINGS), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Cimmerian, Kull of Atlantis, Solomon Kane), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry), Jack Vance (THE DYING EARTH, Lyonesse, Cugel the Clever, and so much more), Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser), Richard Adams (WATERSHIP DOWN, SHARDIK, MAIA), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea, the original trilogy), Mervyn Peake (GORMENGHAST), T.H. White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alan Garner, H.P. Lovecraft (more horror than fantasy, admittedly), Clark Ashton Smith, and... well, the list is long. But those writers should keep you busy for quite a while. You won't like all of them, perhaps... some wrote quite a long time ago, and neither their prose nor their attitudes are tailored for modern attention spans and sensibilities... but they were all important, and each, in his or her own way, was a great storyteller who helped make fantasy what it is today.

Maybe you've read all the fantasy classics, however. I have lots of readers for whom that is true as well. Those I like to point at some of my contemporaries. As great as Tolkien, Leiber, Vance, REH, and those others were, THIS is the golden age of epic fantasy. There have never been as many terrific writers working in the genre as there are right now. Actually, there has never been so much epic fantasy published than right now, which means a lot of mediocre and downright terrible books as well, since Sturgeon's Law still applies. But I prefer to talk about the good stuff, and there's a lot of that. Just for starts, check out Daniel Abraham (THE LONG PRICE QUARTET, THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, Scott Lynch (the Locke Lamora series), Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie (especially BEST SERVED COLD and THE HEROES)... they will keep you turning pages for a good long while, I promise...
He goes on to make several other recommendations, including Maurice Druon's Accursed Kings series, which are being rereleased in hardcover in the UK with a nice little tagline on the cover by Martin himself. On the whole, it's a pretty nice list and I like the mix of classics and modern day works. I did notice that he left out Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time series. Hmm. I'm sure fans of Howard, Leiber, Moore, Vance and others will be pleased as punch to know that Martin reads those works too.

So what do you think? Are these recommendations good?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Freaking Trollocs!

I started reading Eye of the World a couple of months ago, but because I was still a bit burnt out on fantasy, I stopped reading it for a bit. Then I started up again and I'm past the 100 page mark. Here's my reaction so far: Holy shit. Trollocs! Aes Sedai! Warder! False Dragon! Bela!

Man, I really regret owning this book for so long and not reading it sooner! 710 pages to go.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The wear and tear of campaigning

Hard traveling men.
Credit: Wikipedia.
Inspired by this post I read last night from Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern: Does Anyone Use Real Life Illnesses / Viruses in Their Campaign?. Oh, the things one thinks of when they're sick.
As I sit here, waiting for my next "call to nature", it occurs to me that the only times I've seen illness / viruses / flus and the like in an RPG campaign, it been as part of a plot hook.

I don't ever recall an adventuring party getting sidelined by dysentery, a flu, the norovirus (love ya dude, but you are more than welcome to take your leave now) or any such run of the mill illness.
It got the gerbil running in its wheel and I started to think about the other riggers a hard traveling, hard fighting party of adventures might face. Footwear, for example, would probably have to be replaced at least once or twice a year, depending on what kind of paces they're put through. Clothes would likely fair worse, especially given frequent combat. Then there's personal hygiene. Questing would work up a mighty sweat and unless a party bathes regularly, villagers (and monsters!) would undoubtedly smell them coming from a mile away!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What the super ladies of DC Comics do when they're not fighting crime

Credit: Kyle Latino.
I found this on Rended Press while perusing Gothridge Manor's blogroll. This piece of awesomeness was drawn by Kyle Latino and it is just great. I really like the retro touches - the old style Mountain Dew cans, the Pizza Hut box (mwschmeer of Rended Press pointed that one out in his blog post) and Wonder Woman's DM screen. Class wise, I think Batgirl would probably be a rogue class. Alternatively, maybe a paladin. Black Canary a bard, Zatanna would obviously be a wizard, and Hawkgirl a fighter.

This is awesome.

There's a new webcomic called Table Titans and it's about D&D

Valerie Bronzebottom is a delight.
Credit: Table Titans.
Table Titans is a comic created by Scott Kurtz, who writes and draws another webcomic called PvP, and Wizards of the Coast. It's based on a storyline he did for PvP that I posted about last year where a trio of D&D players play through a almost mythical module for fame and to be unbanned from their FLGS. The storyline proved to be so popular, WoTC asked Kurtz if he'd do a new series revolving around the characters.
Credit: PvP*.
I can't really pass judgement on the comic yet, since it just started and aside from the original storyline, there are only two new strips. However, the original strips were pretty good, so I sort of recommend it. What's interesting about Table Titans, though, is the "Tales from the Table" feature. People can submit their favorite D&D stories (no idea if you can submit tales from other tabletop games) and they'll be posted on the site. I've read the ones they have now and honestly, most aren't all that great. Some are amusing, but the rest just aren't. There's another feature called Bestiary, which talks about different D&D monsters.

So, what do you think? Is Table Titans worth reading or an epic fail?

*I'll linkback to the strip as soon as Kurtz fixes his website.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Race to Monk Mountain

Or, A Mountain of Monks.
Mount Athos.
Credit: Wikipedia.
I can't remember how, exactly, I came across this, but I found this article on Wikipedia a few weeks ago about a place in Greece called Mount Athos, also known as the Holy Mountain. It's on a peninsula and its main distinguishing feature is that it is full of monasteries, about twenty in all. The first ones seem to have been built during the reign of Basil I, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Over time, more and more were built, that eventually, the mountain and the peninsula itself were more or less given over to the monks and it holds a unique political status in Greece.
Xenophontos Monastery.
Credit: Wikipedia.

Any hoot, the idea of a mountain full of monks was more than a little interesting and the potential for worldbuilding, RPGs, and wargaming were apparent. Having such an area in a fictional world would add a nice dash of flavor. For RPGs, such a place could be used as a point of origin for clerics and monks. Maybe earning admittance to one of the many monasteries is a goal that a cleric or monk character strives for. Maybe they sent out by their order with the mission of acquiring outside knowledge and bringing it back. For wargaming, it could be an area and a goal for either side: One player has the objective to raiding or capturing the mountain, while the other player has to defend it.
Zograf Monastery.
Credit: Wikipedia.

One interesting bit that would certainly make things interesting for worldbuilding and RPGers would be the fact that women are forbidden from setting foot on the mountain, unless they have prior written consent from the monks. That would certainly be a challenge for female characters.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

So I'm reading this book called The Eye of the World, but you've probably never heard of it

It's the first book in a fairly obscure fantasy series called The Wheel of Time by a guy named Robert Jordan.

Via Wikipedia.
Personally, I believe "Robert Jordan" is really a pen name for another writer. I haven't quite narrowed it down yet, but I think it's either Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Joe Abercrombie. In any case, it's a fairly enjoyable book and provided that you can find a book store or online retailer that sells it, I recommend it.

In all seriousness, I bought this book back in like 2004 or 2005 by accident. I had gone to the book store to buy Discworld, but had a brain fart and couldn't remember the name of the series. Wheel of Time sounded about right and I didn't realize my mistake until later. I never returned it because back then, I had anxiety about doing that sort of thing. I've made several attempts on and off to read the book, but I've never been able to get past the first few pages. Fortunately, that seems to have changed and hopefully, I'll be able to finish the entire book.

Am I going to read the rest of the series if I finish Eye of the World? It depends on whether or not I enjoy the first book.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Megadungeons? Pfft, megadungeons are so passe.

I keep reading post after post on some of the OSR blogs I'm subscribed to about megadungeons and all I have to say is YAAAAAAAWN! Sure, sure, megadungeons are fine...if you're an old lady and don't have the testicular fortitude to handle a truly manly dungeon: the microdungeon!

Sssh, don't worry, not everyone can handle such a piece of awesomeness as a microdungeon. Just go home and play with your Yu-Gi-Oh cards and hope Santa brings you a bigger pair of balls for Christmas.

So what's a microdungeon, you ask, your voice quivering slightly as you try to man up? A microdungeon is a dungeon that is roughly the size of a shotgun shack.

Floor plan of a shotgun shack.
Credit: Wikipedia.
A "shotgun house" is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with rooms arranged one behind the other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War (1861–65), through the 1920s. Alternate names include "shotgun shack", "shotgun hut" and "shotgun cottage". A railroad apartment is somewhat similar, but has a side hallway from which rooms are entered (by analogy to compartments in passenger rail cars).
I'll give you a moment to go and change your diapers, because you've undoubtedly wet yourself from the sheer brilliance of the microdungeon. Another feature is that each room contains two thousand chests filled with gold coins* and only one rat. Additionally, the dungeon is populated by old people from a retirement home and will incessantly try to talk to you for hours on end about what things were like back in their day and how Warren G. Harding was a great president.

I'll understand if you can't bring yourself to play a mind blowing, ultra-masculine dungeon. Go and content yourself with your wee little pansy megadungeon.

*Unfortunately, all the coins are the gold plated commemorative ones you see advertized on TV all the time and are each only worth a fraction of the value of a copper coin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Always love a woman in armor

Credit: Jaemoon Youn.
This is one of my favorite pictures at the moment. She just looks so cool and realistic. I found it on Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor, which was recently revived after a period of inactivity.

I would put her as either a foot soldier in an army, possibly even an officer. If I were to spin a tale, she would be a great warrior who is selected to undertake a mission of vital importance, maybe to save her army from destruction. Or, she's a princess or some other highborn who ran away to escape an arranged marriage (or an unhappy one) and joins the army of a rival kingdom and finds herself having to try and prevent a war between the two.

I really need to write more.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Polls are closed and unlike certain countries, there was no rigging! (Mostly. It's still under investigation)

And your wiener - I mean winner - is The Knight at the Crossroads! I was leaning towards this one myself, so it works out. As for the other pictures, I'm going to use them too as future headers.

Thanks for voting!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

But I get sea sick just looking at a boat

My pirate name is:
Dirty Jack Rackham

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network
Aaaaar S T U V W X Y Z!

h/t Gothridge Manor and Really Bad Eggs.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Time for a change

The banner at the top of the old blog is getting a bit musty, so it's high time I replace it. Instead of just picking a new one myself, I'm going to let you pick which of the following will grace the top of my blog.

The Knight at the Crossroads by Viktor Vasnetsov.
Bogatyrs by Viktor Vasnetsov.
Guests from Overseas by Nicholas Roerich.
Funeral of an old Russian nobleman by Henryk Siemiradzki.
Vote in the poll in the sidebar and the winner goes up Monday. Let the best picture win!


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