Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Religion of Orcs"

            In the past, I have talked about Orcs in the context of Dungeons and Dragons and how underwhelming they are as a culture.  I understand why that is, their place in fantasy mythology is that of the barbaric horde which seeks to pillage, rape, destroy, and dominate.  They are all things ugly, dumb, uncultured, and held together only by strength and are always the minions of some greater and more mindful evil, your Dark Lord Sauron or Duke Igthorn and the like.
            I find this boring, and between the presence of Gnolls, Goblinoids, and numerous other evil humanoids I feel that an opportunity was lost to give some dimension to Orcs in more recent editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  It is not like it can’t be done, “Warcraft” has done a lot to flesh out their orc culture and “Warhammer 40k” has at the very least made them alien/other enough that their silly-violence makes them distinct within the setting.
 
What is the value of a bad guy who is just a bad guy?
My Change to Orcs: Maltheism
            Orcs are too often portrayed as accepting their role in the world as being the followers of Gruumsh, the orc god who got his eye poked out by the god of the elves starting the whole enmity between the two groups.  This compounds an issue I have with Dungeons and Dragons views on religion in that everyone seems to acknowledge the existence of all the gods and races other than humans have gods tied to them in particular.
            Here is my first change, Orcs are Monotheistic.  They believe in only one god, all other gods are either fictions made up to deceive people, or are powerful outsiders capable of great things that gain power via being worshiped and give out power to certain followers to prove their benevolence.  But, none of these pretenders are the one true god.  Orcs know that there is only one god and they hate that guy.
            They see God as a cruel being.  Pitting people and races against one another, creating monsters and storms to break those who would otherwise live peacefully, and touching many with madness and disease to keep them low and in pain.  God is evil, and the Orcs want to kill God.

I think "Wondermark" is the most underrated webcomic out there.
            Orcs fight and build strength, keeping their minds clear with the purpose of destruction so that when they are faced with god in the afterlife they can attack and hopefully defeat him.  Not all Orcs are warriors, and they too contribute to the effort, an entire army of souls exist waging war on God in hopes of finally ending that bastard’s hold over everyone, to create a world free of calamity and mistrust, and to build an afterlife worth going to.
            Orcs dislike temples and places of worship, seeing them at best as comfortable delusions to keep the masses from seeing the bitter reality, and at worst they see them as tools for God to sow sorrow, mistrust, and false hope.  God pretends to be different deities to send followers to war against people who are deluded by a different pretend god.  Be it Bane or Pelor all “gods” are just God, and he is making everyone hate each other.
            Cults and Temples that use religion to harm people outright, via human sacrifice or oppressive social structures and stigmas are the worst villains in the eyes of the Orcs and are to be destroyed.
 
"Yep, gonna have to take care of this infestation before it starts to spread." -Thori, Orc Warrior
Spiritual Strength
            Orcs believe in the value and power of nature and Druidic tradition permeates their day to day life.  Stone circles which they call Ley Wells draw on and concentrate the power of nature to grant them bountiful harvests and gentle storms, protecting them from a wrathful god.
            Orc clerics do exist, but they are seen as stealing power from God, taking from the malign deity the power to do harm and turning it to good ends.  Eyes of Gruumsh are not God’s chosen in orc culture, but instead are the orcs who saw a vision of God and were able to curse him before the vision passed.
            There are always those who do not follow the path, many orcs find religion outside of their home culture, and some Orc tribes see a pantheon of gods as a likely state of cosmic affairs.  There are also those who are considered the worst of heretics, “True Believers” those orcs who not only believe in God’s evil, but wish to spread it by being a tool of the dark one’s malign whims.
 
"This shit is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with." -Thori, Orc Warrior
Virtues
            Orc culture favors certain key virtues.
            Honor, that is being direct and honest with one’s actions; generally speaking, lies and deception are seen as wastes of effort, being forthright with what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it saves them time.
            Valor, which they see as akin to improving one’s self, this also applies for setting goals and having the drive to attain them; this is not limited to combat, a person who takes risk in one’s job, romances, or exploration is seen as noble.
            Glory is when Valor pays off via talent and ability.  While it is noble to take risks, it is Glorious for those risks to find reward.  Orc paladins are often called “Glory Seekers” for their desire to attain a particular goal.
            Dominance is the final virtue, this is the ability to not only be good at what you do but to challenge others to be better.  Competition between individuals who seek to be the best and fending off challenges to one’s title is seen as a natural part of orc culture.  You cannot win one battle and rest on your laurels till passing in your sleep, you must continue to seek out battles to Dominate your profession.  Not enough to write one book or paint one mural, you must invite comparisons between your works and the works of others and continue to produce work in attempts to produce better and better products.
 
"For the Glory of the Mortal races I shall defeat the cultist chef Guy Fieri."
"Guy Fieri isn't a cultist, he is just a chef."
"Bullshit.  No one would wear their hair like that unless it was the will of their mad god."
            Too often Orc culture becomes consumed with combat.  It is hard to look at the world and see it as being controlled by a giant evil entity that seeks to make you suffer and be driven to do anything other than want to fight back.  There are orc communities that do escape such cycles of violence, those that wish to battle God with works of art that venerate the mortal will to survive and overcome, those that wish to heal the sick and infirm, or those who wish to build structures that can stand against the raging winds and crashing storms of God.
            Orcs are not just barbarians.

(I wrote all this as a sort of break from all the political stuff I have been consuming too much of.  If you would like to read some of my thoughts on current events, here are links to things on Net Neutrality, Immigration, and the events in Charlottesville.)
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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Diversity in my Life and My Thoughts on Charlottesville

The Speed of News
            News is happening so fast that I can’t even comment on all of it.  Charlottesville seems more of the moment, so I am going to talk about it in a shallow way to get my feelings out before it is all washed out by the next horrible thing.
            I do feel it necessary to point out, atomic war is something that might have broken outlast week and it is somehow not the top news story illustrating how awful President Trump is.  Also, an issue that promises to hang around for a while.  Keep that in the back of your mind while I reflect on my world view.

Some Context
            Growing up in the 90’s I was exposed to numerous TV shows and movies that wanted me, and I am assuming children in general, to know that the world was in trouble and everyone had to work together to save it.
            Shows like X-Men are perhaps the most iconic and ongoing properties in that vein, the comic having been around since the 60’s and even now being a massive movie franchise about bigotry and alienation when it isn’t about firing as many lasers as possible at a purple cyborg to… You know, maybe we can all acknowledge that “X-Men Apocalypse” did not understand the franchise’s core appeal and move on.
            My point is, diversity in the casts of those shows was not something that was advertised or commented upon, but was something that was there.  Even as a kid I recall having the thought, “Oh, I see, they want to show how everyone is included”.  Sure, it was often clumsy and rarely subtle (for instance the kid in the wheelchair for the Burger King Kid’s Club, was named “Wheels”.  Yeesh), but I didn’t mind.
            When I watched the shows or movies, or looked at the asinine advertising for subpar burgers, I was there to see an adventure.  If not every member of the cast was a cis-gendered-white-male I just accepted that as how the world was.  Because not everyone is a cis-gendered-white-male.

They even included Kid Vid who was really into 80’s new wave pop music… Or was possibly a time traveler from 2080, they were not really clear on the concept.  Apparently his real name is Ryan Mcfarland according to wikipedia.
            When I watched Dr Bashir save Deep Space Nine with medical knowledge, Kwame lead the Planeteers with a level head, or Roland rewire the proton packs to catch more powerful ghosts I didn’t think to myself how unrealistic it was or how the show had to include them for “diversity”.  I accepted that these characters were doing what they were doing and their race was at best a physical description rather than any defining characteristic.
            I know that I had and have biases and prejudices that I am not even aware of, things so subtle that I would not even understand what was being pointed out if someone explained them to me.  I know that I had a resentment toward my schools for putting a huge focus on certain cultures over others (you can read my review/reflections on “Pocahontas” for more of my feelings on that), but I do know that the area I grew up in was not diverse and if not for some focus being put on other cultures and people I don’t think I would have gotten any exposure.
            The best I can do in my day to day life is try to treat everyone as an individual.  Every person has their own little story to tell and is at their own place in this world because of decisions made not only by them but by countless other people.  We will never meet all of those people who caused the dominos to fall, we just know that we are getting knocked over.

Nazis
            With all of this in mind, I have to ask what shows were these guys watching when they were growing up?



            What made them this?  What made them see “Indiana Jones” and think that the guys getting punched were the ones in the right?  What part of Picard’s Drumhead speech made them think that diminishing someone was alright?  What part of “Heart” made them think that having fewer and whiter people was a winning strategy?
            I really do not get it.  What made them think that the “Red Pill” Morpheus (a black man) gives to Neo (a white man) to explain how everyone is being marginalized by a system (whose avatars are all white men) was a symbol of men waking up to the oppression of… Feminism?  Guys, I think you missed the whole point of that movie.  Like all of it.
            Who lied to these weak racist fools so often about the Civil War that they now think it wasn’t about Slavery?  Who lied to them about World War II to make them think the Holocaust didn’t happen (though they seem to think it should have)?  What happened to these guys to make them blame minorities for how disappointed they are in their own lives?

Didn't they see "Fight Club"?
The Credit Card companies are responsible.
             Why do so many of them think President Trump is the answer?  Just because he is racist and hired racist Stephen Bannon to be a chief policy advisor?  Even if President Trump is on their side they still have to look at how comically inept the President is and realize their star player is laughably bad at every task.
            Why is it so many people think every time white nationalists do something horrible at an event celebrating racism it is somehow a false flag operation?  Are they really that stupid, deluded, or just trying to cover it up?  I do not get any of this.
            A few months ago, I decided to coin the phrase, “Not-Zees” as a descriptor of the Alt-Right and White National supporters of Trump who were pedantic enough to point out they were not literal Nazis, which they defined entirely as a political party started in Germany following the first World War.
            I guess I can throw that cute nickname out the window.  Kind of hard for anyone to claim Nazi is such a narrow term when there are guys yelling “Heil, Trump!” and carrying Swastika branded merchandise.  Images of the KKK battle flag sitting next to the Nazi flag also erases any illusions people had of the two being distinct, and curb stomps all future moronic arguments of, “Heritage, not hate” as transparent lies, as if they somehow weren’t before.



My Thoughts
            Like I said, I don’t get any of this.
            I see the world as a big and diverse place full of people who are awful, but I see them as awful on an individual basis and I judge them on their Words and Deeds, as I have explained before.  So here we are, the President shows more deference to a Russian Dictator and Nazi mobs than he does to Senators in his own party.
            What is more, that is not just me exaggerating, I have a quote from white nationalist rag The Daily Stormer who took President Trump’s awful response to the issue and rightly interpreted it as a winking endorsement.

            “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together.  Nothing specific against us.
            “He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!
            “So he implied the antifa are haters.
            “There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.
            “He said he loves us all.
            “Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.
            “No condemnation at all.
            “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.
            “Really, really good.
            “God bless him.”
            -Taken from Here


Sleep tight America.  It has been less than 9 months.
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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Friday, August 4, 2017

"The New Colossus", Poetry and Americana

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


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This poem was written to raise money for the erection of the Statue of Liberty.  It predates the statue being placed on Liberty Island.

Maybe I am atypical, but I was told throughout my primary education that this simple poem, along with many other small speeches (Gettysburg Address), oaths (Pledge of Allegiance), and statements of purpose (Preamble to the Constitution) represent important aspects of Americana and our own internalized mythology (those exact words were not used, I was in elementary school).

I don't know what the general public feels about such things.  I do know that I dislike the casual dismissal of this bit of writing.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To Senator Rubio (Net Neutrality)

            At the beginning of the year I wrote to one of my state’s senators, Marco Rubio.  The letter dealt with the awful treatment of refugees and immigrants into the United States.  Senator Rubio’s office replied to that letter shortly thereafter, with a reply I found lacking.
            A couple weeks ago, I wrote another letter to Senator Rubio concerning Net Neutrality.  I thought to write another on the topic of Healthcare, and another still on the topic of the Russia, but decided on Net Neutrality as the first to prioritize.
            As I explain in the letter, and this was a physical letter, not an email, it will take up some space on a desk before being read by an underappreciated staffer, and then responded to by an underappreciated staffer.  As I explained in the letter, Net Neutrality is important to keeping the internet the free and open space that is it, and by not enforcing its status as a natural monopoly a dangerous status quo would emerge.
            I made comparisons to the Enron crisis which emerged as a result of a natural monopoly like power supply being turned into a “free market” boondoggle, and how little faith I have in the current head of the FCC.
            Feel free to utilize my letter as a template and send it to the elected official of your choice on the issue.  I am sure there are many state regulations that could be utilized to prevent Net Neutrality from rolling up completely in many areas and many federal officials that could slow the dissolution of current protections.  The Letter is presented below.
            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.
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(Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
Masters of International Affairs
(Address)
(Contact Information)

July 13, 2017

Senator Marco Antonio Rubio
Junior United States Senator of Florida
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

To Senator Rubio,

Senator, I am filled with a growing concern for the state of net neutrality in the United States.

It is my sincere belief that greater protections for the internet as a utility is necessary for small businesses to thrive within it, and to maintain the free movement of information and commerce thru it.

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Varadaraj Pai strikes me as an untrustworthy guardian of net neutrality.  If he dissolves the current protections it will hand a tremendous amount of power to large firms in the telecommunications industry.  Far more power than any government or citizen should be comfortable with them having.

The internet, much like water and electricity, should be viewed as a natural monopoly and regulated as such.  Limited competition and price regulation insure a stable and uniform experience for users and preventing internet providers from extorting web based companies for access to their customers.

Control of communications, ranging from what news people can read, to what shows they can watch, and even to what stores they can shop from is a tremendous power.  It would be dangerous to trust this power entirely to the open market without oversight.  The only comparison I could make is to the Enron fiasco, during which the trade of energy was chaotic and resulted in costs exploding and service being erratic.

While I know, that on a philosophical level, choice is lauded by the Republican party and regulation is seen as a burden.  I feel that the choices that would be offered without proper regulation would be no choice for many people.

Regulation in this instance should be seen less as a burden and more analogous to brakes and seatbelts.  Attributes that are needed to ensure greater control and safety.  Regulations should be clear, uniform, and efficient, but not abolished.

One only need look at how Comcast has provided such limited and pricey options for their cable, phone, and internet service to envision how abusive an untethered industry would become.

Ultimately, I would prefer the internet to become as ubiquitous in this nation as phones and TV.  For it to continue to grow into the completely accessible source of information that people can depend upon.  The government should work to make sure the internet is provided to all citizenry in a uniform manner, as an open marketplace of ideas and products, not to be manipulated by those industries who provide access to it.

Thank you for your time,

(Name)
Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
Masters of International Affairs



Monday, July 31, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Writing is a Skill"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 31- The Challenge
            Why do I bother with these 30-day challenges?  A few years back I set out to write 1,000,000 words to follow the adage, “The first million words are practice”.  I hoped to improve my writing thru practice.  More importantly it could not just be practice that only I would read or would only appeal to my own whims, you do not improve by writing something down and letting it mold in the basement, unless you are Emily Dickinson.
            To improve as a writer (or for anyone to improve as a writer) it is important to be able to respond to prompts, produce lots of content in a short period of time, and be willing to put one’s work out into the world for people to scowl at.  I managed to write more than 34,000 words in July, that is not bad for a hobbyist.
            I also set a goal to have a blog entry for every calendar day, 30-day blog challenges provide me with an excuse to sew up a month that previously had a lot of days with no entries (October is now the one with the most holes) so that I can bang out material and have a blog entry to post for everyday of the year allowing me to psychically stroke myself with a repost each time Facebook says, “Here are your memories”.
            Filling in the calendar is a pointless goal, but one that encouraged me to keep blogging and keep driving toward my goal of a million words.

We didn't start the fire.

30 days of Dungeons and Dragons
            Why “Dungeons and Dragons”?  Because it is a hobby I have been doing for more than 15 years, I was already writing about it every week or so, and there actually aren’t too many writing prompts in the 30-day challenge format.  I was kind of shocked by that.  Once you get past the big ones of “Movies” and “Video Games” things get real niche.
            I had to heavily workshop my Disney Challenge which had too many asinine prompts, and even this blog challenge had a lot of “What?”  Who gives a shit about “Favorite Energy Type”?  And what value is there in discussing my “Favorite Non-Magic Item”?  Those are just meaningless.
            “I like Fire!”
            “I like Chairs!”
            “How about we do the best of both worlds?”
            “What an intriguing idea.  What do we do?”
            “We just have to light some chairs on fire!”
            “YEAH!”
This is the original list of blog prompts that contains a lot of what I would consider junk.
Nothing to be ashamed of, it is hard to come up with topics, especially 30 of them.
Below is the list of titles as they ultimately became.
My altered list is what I would recommend using if you plan to write your own blog series.

Some Context, Days 1-4

Favorite Character Stuff, Days 5-11
My Favorite Group of Characters” (“Favorite Character You Haven’t Played”)
Some Ideas for Player Characters” (“A Character You Want to Play in the Future”)

Favorite Monsters, Days 12-21
My Favorite Animals” (“Favorite Animals/Vermin”)
My Favorite Fiends” (“Favorite Evil Outsiders”)
Celestials” (“Favorite Good Outsider”)
Best Evil Fantasy Races” (“Favorite Humanoids/Giants”)
Dragons” (“Favorite Dragon”)
Creatures of Nature” (“Favorite Fey/Elementals/Plants”)
Legions of the Undead” (“Favorite Undead”)
My Favorite Monster” (also has "Favorite Dice" as bonus sub entry)

Best Miscellaneous, Days 22-26
Locations and Dungeons” (Favorite)
Puzzles and Traps” (Favorite)
Cursed Items” (Favorite)
Magic Items and Technology” (“Favorite Magic Item”)
Some Talk of Spells” (“Favorite Spell”)

Best Experiences, Days 27-30
Best 3e Adventure” (“Favorite Adventure”)
Random Poetry Interlude” (was supposed to be “Best Experience as a Player”)
Best Game Running Experience” (was supposed to be “Best Experience as a GM”)



Coming in the Future
            While I did manage to write out a number of topics on DnD and close out many of my thoughts this stuff, there is always more to talk about with this hobby.  Like I said, I was writing an almost weekly blog about Dungeons and Dragons before this 30-day thing, and will probably continue with that.  Along with writing about other topics, I actually have some other stuff in mind related to several horrible things happening in the world right now.
            If you liked my stuff, please follow me on social media so that you can occasionally step in and read my ramblings.  I hope this was entertaining and gives some insight into why I write.  Please try to further your own writing by putting yourself out there more.  People will be harsh (there is lots of poor writing on the internet and people like to put it down), but hopefully some of that harshness comes from a place that is constructive and hopeful, a place that wants to critique in hopes of improving people’s work and not just scaring off newbies.
            Go on and have fun.

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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Best Game Running Experience"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 30- Best Game Running Instance
            I talked about a group of players that managed to go the distance on an especially long campaign with me and there was ultimately a long and cohesive story that got weaved thru the game.  This allowed me to build up to 2 “Season Finale” episodes and 1 “Series Finale”.
            The season finales revolved around a cloaked figure that had gathered together forces of giant spiders, jackal men, yugoloths, gnolls, and mummies into a semi-workable (though multi-level challenging, and that is the important part) battle force.
            The first season finale involved the players rushing in with a cadre of mercenaries and managing to take down a gaggle of monsters.  The hooded figure managed to escape and killed the party’s monk on the way out (the monk got better).  The cloaked figure getting away with a mysterious item which it had just unearthed from a broken fountain.  This all took place in an abandoned castle in the middle of a haunted wood.  Because spooky.

I evoked some Hastur the Unspeakable imagery.
            The second season finale was the final defeat of the cloaked figure, the revelation of the item he had taken (along with several identical items the players had found), and it all took place in a gladiatorial arena and involved the players teaming up with a small Justice League of other heroes from around the continent who had shown up to compete in a massive fighting tournament “Street Fighter” style.  The monk by this point had gained the ability to channel positive energy and the cloaked figure was pulverized into undead mash rather quickly.

The Series Finale
            The Series Finale is the one I especially liked.  Because that dealt with what the cloaked figure had been scared of and was gathering power to try and oppose.  An alien invasion.  This had been set up, with strange lights in the sky being reported (scouts), damage to various fields and forests (crop circles), and visions by PC allied spellcasters.  It was a big looming threat that the PC’s had time to prepare for, and they drew upon the considerable resources they had tapped during their adventures.
            During the length of the campaign the PC’s had found several things that they thought might be able to help solve an alien invasion.  Giant Pilotable Monsters.

BWAAAAAAH!
            First thing for battling aliens was a dead god of undersea monsters (C’Thulhu in all but name) whose brain they pulled out and replaced with a control room (they were friends with a mad scientist).  Finding the giant monster concluded a different quest chain that involved an archeological Easter egg hunt (I actually talked about it briefly in a different blog).  Acquiring this monster was a mid-season finale.
            Second, was the giant Clock Tower built by the campaign’s warforged to be a super computer, one able to figure out the meaning of life (a reference to Deep Thought from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) and was then modified with a stolen alien power core (called “Star Hearts”) to transform into a giant robot to serve as the new god of Warforged and gifting them all with souls.  This too had been set up, as the warforged leadership had asked the players to retrieve or protect some key components and texts they needed to write the robot’s “software”.
            Third, and lastly, a group of wizards led by the party’s Druid managed to fall into a pocket dimension that was the extradimensional prison turned tomb of Oberon, lord of all fey.  After centuries cut off from the natural world Oberon was now nothing more than a nature spirit, but he was still a conduit for the natural mana that flowed thru the world.  The group rescued his soul from the extradimensional prison.  So freed, Oberon became an Awesome Sized Elemental switching between Fire/Water/Earth/Air (I would have had giant Animal/Plant forms too but ran out of time before the game).  This was actually a call back to the PC’s first adventure, being trapped in a game left over from Oberon’s abandoned summer palace (this was also the Player’s first ever adventure which I used to introduce them to the game).

I can't draw, so enjoy this art from a variety of sources that kind of work for what I am talking about.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3
            I wanted to tie in as many previous adventures together as I could so that the adventure could serve as a culmination rather than just a stopping point. Ultimately the event came, a dozen tripods landed with energy beams and the players each piloted one of the monsters.  The Ranger took the Dead God (Chaotic Neutral), the Druid merged with the Giant Elemental God (True Neutral), and the Monk channeled and controlled positive energy to pilot the Giant Robot God (Lawful Neutral).  It was a Kaiju versus Tripods Final battle for the fate of the planet.
            What was more, once the players won, it was revealed that all over the world the gods and higher being of the world had been pulling out weapons and kaiju to fight the invasion.  A two-headed star dragon helped the Monk’s giant Robot fly into orbit and take out the fleet of ground troops that was poised to begin landing.  The fact that the gods played out so many of their resources became a plot point in the sequel campaign.
            Also in the sequel campaign, the players new characters found an area in which the tripod landing was successful and had to help a resistance movement wake up the defeated kaiju that had previously failed to stop the invasion doing their best to hit the unshielded and resting aliens.



            My Games get pretty fucking weird sometimes.  But I feel that the weirdness is earned and enjoyed.

Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to talk about this 30-day blog challenge of which this is the last actual entry. I will show you the original prompts and list all of the entries so that if you want to do your own, you’ll be able to.
            I am definitely gonna need some time off writing DnD after this.

______________________________

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Random Poetry Interlude"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 29- Best Player Experience
            Gotta be honest, I could not think of one.  I am not much of a player and I prefer being the guy running the game.  I am more about Puzzles, Monsters, and NPC’s then I am about PC’s.

Filler: A Poem
            I occasionally take poems off the Poetry Foundation and rewrite them.  I am a multi-dimensional nerd in that regard.  So here is a link to the original poem, “Evening Hawk” while below is my re-do of that poem.
            And yes, I am reworking the poetry of the United States’ first Poet Laureate.  Because I have an ego?  I guess?  Or maybe it is just that it popped up while I was researching poems about the end of the world.

Rising Owl
From plane of light to pane of glass,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow,
Wings dipping thru geometries

Riding the last tumultuous avalanche of light
The light above pines and the guttural gorge
The gorge filled with orchids that the sun built

The Owl comes.

Its wings scythe down another day,
The motion that of the honed steel-edge,
Hear the crash less fall of stalks of Time.
Heavy with the gold of our error
Each stalk head falls.

Look!
Look!
It is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error,
Under whose eye, unforgiving,
The world, unforgiven,
Swings into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still,
The last bat cruises now
In sharp hieroglyphics.

The star is glimmering and green,
Its wisdom is ancient and immense.
Over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might,
We think,
Hear the earth grind on its axis,
Or history,
Drip in darkness like broken flesh.


Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to talk about my best experience running a game.
            Tomorrow’s entry will actually be about Dungeons and Dragons rather than another random poetry interlude.  It will also be the last “real” entry in the 30-day challenge, day 31 is just a rundown of the whole thing.

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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Craziest Game Session"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).
 
Florida Gulf Coast University

Day 28- Craziest thing to Happen Out of Game
            For my undergraduate degree in Political Science I attended the then new and tiny (10,000 students), Florida Gulf Coast University.
            One night back in 2005 there was a power outage.  I, being a tabletop gamer was able to just walk over to my group’s dorm room knock and we set up a game to keep us busy.
            We were rolling dice and chatting about how we could hear a ton of noise outside.  Lots of voices of the people deciding to go night swimming in the artificial lake to pass the time (at the time that fake lake looked like the world’s widest puddle, these days it looks a great deal more inviting).
            My group and I, being somewhat stuck up nerds were hmm-ing and hah-ing at the idea that people were getting so loud about a power outage, and kind of laughing at their expense because it was October, and even in Florida it would be too cold to swim.
            That is when we heard people yelling and we decided to gaze out the window to the “beach”.  A group of people had lit one of the tiki themed picnic tables on fire and it was going up completely.  Campus police pulled up, dozens of students scattered, and the power was back on shortly after (I think it was off for a total of about 90 minutes).  For the next few weeks there were charred remains of a moronic activity gone awry sitting down by the water.
            This did not have anything to do with me, but it is the craziest activity to happen proximate to a game that I was playing in.
 
Maybe it is wrong to point to these grass topped things and call them tiki themed picnic tables.
I don't know what to call them.  I also don't know when this pic was taken.
Coming Tomorrow

            Tomorrow I am going to talk about my best experience playing. 

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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "The Best 3e Adventure"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 27- Favorite Adventure
            This is going to be a short entry.
            I had a subscription to Dungeon magazine and enjoyed reading it and breaking up the individual encounters and maps, but I rarely if ever ran an entire mission as presented.  The adventures tended to be meat grinders.
            Published adventures always seem to be much harder than advertised, I guess when you write rules for a living you worry about not providing a meaty enough challenge, and then you decide to get super clever.  The problem with that, is that guys like me who only run a game once a week are less able to deal with “clever”.  Hence why I need to pull these things apart into more digestible chunks.
 
I wonder if this thing qualifies as iconic?
Do you recognize it without reading the next paragraph that tells you what it is?
            My favorite adventure in theory is “The Shackled City”.  This full 20 level campaign gives you a really interesting giant city around which all the action turns and a whole cadre of supervillains working toward an interesting goal.
            “The Shackled City” did so well that (I get the impression) it is regarded as the best thing Dungeon magazine produced for 3rd edition, and it gave so many credibility points to the magazines publishers (Paizo) that they had the clout to release “The Age of Worms,” the other best adventure ever for 3rd edition (though far less lauded).
            Those adventures doing so well (and Wizards of the Coast leaving Paizo holding the bag in regards to 3rd edition ending and Dragon and Dungeon magazine being canceled) left Paizo in a position to create Pathfinder.  The Pathfinder books were a continuation of the 3rd edition rules that were so well produced art and supplement wise, that they threw 4th edition on the ash heap of history.  Pathfinder is still going, while 4e was replaced by 5e two years ago.



            That is right, “The Shackled City” was so good, it could be given some credit for 4th edition being a failure.

Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to talk about The Craziest thing to happen outside of the Game.

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            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "Some Talk of Spells"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 26- Favorite Spells
            There are certain spells that are demonstrably better than others.  There are also those that are more iconic due to internet meme-ing.  Unless I want to just pick the one everyone already knows… Magic Missile I guess I will just have to list a few of these.
            I am feeling pretty lazy though… No, I’ll do something.  I guess.


Boring but Practical
            There is a divide in the game between combat (which is a BIG part of the game) and non-combat (smaller than it should be).  An obstacle as simple as a heavy locked door can in many cases totally kill all progress because the players do not have access to the means to open it, that is where the spell “Knock” comes in.

"Dude, other people need to use the bathroom."
            “Knock” opens doors, and can open bigger and bigger doors if you are higher level (for some reason 3rd edition saw the need to scale even this spell with level).  If there is an unfortunate side effect to the players having access to this spell is that if the DM was hoping to create a key-hunting dungeon the players can completely bypass all that with one low level spell.


Flashy but Impractical
            Here is a combat spell that was so complicated in the original 3rd edition rules (not 3.5) that a single casting of it was an entire combat encounter, “Evard’s Black Tentacles”.

Okay, what are those emerging from?

            This spell, which was level 4 (hardly a game breaking level), could summon an entire cadre of attacking tentacles that would damage and stop cold anyone in the area of it being summoned.  It required a comical amount of tracking where the tentacles were, what they were attacking, and how much damage they were doing.  It required prep time to cast and compared to the rational amount of time other spells of a level could demand was impractical.


Flashy but Practical
            Generally speaking, this covers all of the classic elemental attack spells.  Ice Storm, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or Flame Strike.  This also hits on all of the intentionally flashy spells like Color Spray or Prismatic Spray.

This is from the Deviant Art account of Clint Cearley, who does work on Magic the Gathering.
His stuff is lovely.

            The fun aspect of this has to do with it all being in your head.  Players have to describe how these things resolve and it gives some impact to role playing to say that your lightning bolt takes shape as a cursive spelling of your character’s name, or is a particular color.  These are spells that will be used a million times and they should be seen as something that can be used to make the game more magical in a fun way, otherwise they are just a boring exchange of numbers.


Boring but Impractical
            This has more to do with 3rd edition (because 3rd edition is what I have the most experience with and know what is most baffling).  3rd edition was the one most dependent on magic items.  Ability scores increased with magic items, attack bonuses increased with magic items, armor class increased with magic items, and saves were all augmented by magical items.  Each player would have several items that would make their statistics higher in ways that were necessary for the game to function.  Without magic augmentation, a player would be turned into bloody mist.
            Each item (especially those affect basic statistics) would create ripples thru the rest of the character sheet.  One number gets altered and suddenly dozens of other numbers would be twisted.  This is why “Anti-Magic Field” was such a pain in the ass.

"As the song goes, 'Can't touch this'."
"You are such a nerd."
            Creating an area in which the innumerable items that a player had incorporated without annotation into their work meant a half hour of chasing numbers to make everything make sense for a combat encounter that would last maybe 20 minutes.  Imagine if you walked into work with an expense report and as you passed thru the door to the office every “7” got turned into a “3” and you had to go thru the whole report adjusting the math by hand, it is retarding to progress in the story.
            “Anti-Magic Field” is boring because it is taking magic, a key part of the game, out of the game.  It is like taking the molten core out of a volcano cake.


Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to talk about my favorite adventure.

______________________________

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.