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Preview: Tower of the Archmage

Tower of the Archmage





Updated: 2018-04-19T06:00:19.656-04:00

 



Ettin WiP

2018-04-19T06:00:19.654-04:00

I’m doing far more painting for a D&D game that I’m playing in than I ever did for a game I DMed… And when she asks me “Do you have an ettin?” And my answer is “Not painted, but let me see what I can do…” this is where we end up.I started with the usual hot soapy water scrub down, followed by assembly. I glued him to a 2” base, and added a rough gravel to cover what the integrated base didn’t. I then base coated him with Green Liner, my first time using it. The base got covered with brown liner, since I was using that for another figure.Side note: Brown, Blue, and Grey Liners are my go to, as you’ve probably noticed. All 3 do a really good job with coverage and strength. So far I’ve found the Sepia and Green Liners to not hold up as well to handling.After base coating him, I went to work on the face. Linen White for the eyes, and Dragon Red for the beard and hair.I then mixed some brown liner with Ruddy Flesh and blocked in the fur and the wood of the clubs.The chains, belt buckle (dwarven shield?) and knee armor I painted with Pure Black. The stones in the left club were blocked in with Mountain Stone, as were the 2 fish hanging from his belt. The spikes on the right club were painted with Bone. A bit of the Brown Liner/Ruddy Flesh was still in the well, so the bone color was a little darker than it is straight out of the bottle. I used the same color for the skulls on his belt, and the hands on his neck.I then went over his skin with Wilderness Green. And here’s where I hit a wall. There’s something in my brain that says “skin shouldn’t be green!!” It’s weird… I’ve painted green skin before, but it’s usually something small like a goblin. Now I’m stuck with a relatively massive canvas.So I looked for help, and found this blog post over at Sproket's Small World. While I have exactly none of the specific colors he used, it does a great job showing how and why he used the colors he did, and it helped my brain get over this weird roadblock.Okay, that definitely feels better![...]



Countdown to Infinity War: Spider-Man Homecoming

2018-04-18T06:00:22.732-04:00

I liked Toby McGuire as Spider-Man. I thought he did a good job, and at a time when superhero movies weren't anything to write home about. Actually it wasn't even that the superhero movies were bad, it's that there weren't any. In 2002 the other superhero movie that came out was Blade 2. The excellent X-Men movie was 2 years before... and aside from that, the abomination that was Batman and Robin was back in '97. Looking forward, there's the Aflac Daredevil... clearly not the golden age of superhero movies.

And then a decade later Andrew Garfield slipped on the PJs. And that was... well, repetitive, and not as good.

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And when it was announced that Sony and Disney had made a deal for a new Spider-Man? And that we'd be shown Uncle Ben, and "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" yet again... I winced. I felt my faith in the MCU being tested again. We got an initial tease with Civil War... and... it was good! A wise-cracking kid trying to do the right thing, not actually wanting to hurt anyone. And yet... for the first time... I didn't see Homecoming in the theater. I didn't need to see Peter get bitten by the spider, I didn't need his origin story AGAIN.

Things we never need to see redone in a movie ever again:
Bruce Wayne watching her parents get shot
Baby superman landing in Kansas
Uncle Ben getting shot/Peter getting bitten by a spider

sigh

The shame will stay with me forever.

Because Homecoming was a blast. Once again Marvel took something that could have been awful and turned it into something great. Peter Parker is an honest to god KID, in high school, and it isn't a damned origin story!

What we got is a young Peter, being mentored (remotely) by Tony Stark, testing limits, wanting to do good, to join the Avengers, while Tony wants this 15 year old kid to just... be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man. And like any teen, Peter pushing things too far, and gets caught up in something bigger than he's really ready to handle.

He makes mistakes. He goofs up. He talks too much. He's a little insecure. He has fun with his abilities. Basically, he's everything a young Peter Parker should be.

And let's talk about Vulture. If ever there was a relatable everyman villain for Spider-Man to confront, this is the guy. A different take from the comic books, but one that fits in really well with the MCU. He's utterly believable, and you even want to root for him. Plus, there's the whole Michael Keaton is also Batman and Birdman.

Post Credit Scenes: Cap's PSAs are WONDERFUL!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!! Aunt May (Yowza!!) catching Peter in his suit? "What the f-" was great...

Next Up: Thor Ragnarok!



Deladrin, Female Ranger

2018-04-16T06:00:14.872-04:00

Lately I've been thinking I want to wrap up the Bones 1 core set. This assassin, which looked more ranger-ish to me, was near the top of the pile, and ready to go, so out she came. I glued her to a base, and then onto one of my cork holders. She was already brown lined, so I started with Muddy Olive for the cloak, and Warrior Flesh for the face. Worked a bit on the eyes with Viper Green, and then decided that the scarf was going to be in the color of autumnal leaves, so she'd be a little more interesting than just muted browns and greens. Same colors as before, just bringing them up in intensity.Added in some Dragon Bronze and Shadowed Steel, and made her hair dirty blonde.Coffee grounds added to the base for texture.Painted up the base with a blend of Mountain Stone, and a muddy mix of browns.With some yellow and brighter reds to try to look like fallen leaves.I've since cleaned up the edge of the base, but that's it. She's done!Total Minis Painted in 2018: 26[...]






Into the Orc Caves

2018-04-11T06:00:15.749-04:00

From: Fulhoff of Clan BalderkTo: Helja and Adrik of Clan BalderkMother & Father,The elven woods were dark and unsettling, but we were nowhere near the edge as night fell, and so the elves "invited" us to make camp. It was disappointing not to be able to visit their town, as I've read remarkable things about their architecture, but twas not to be. We were visited by their... queen? Regent? Ethereal and breathy, she thanked us for our help, promised us that the diplomat she sends to Nightstone will be more culturally sensitive than our guides, and even gave us a gift, if you can believe that. A pair of boots, magical even. Tiny though, and only our little halfling Lidda could get her feet into them.Once at the edge of the woods we came upon an abandoned cart, and someone hiding in a nearby bush. I pointed Thorin at him, and he flushed the merchant out. The terrified man begged us to save his friend who'd been captured by the local orcs. While we discussed it, he kept trying to offer us gold... even the rings off his fingers. He showed us the cave entrance that he'd seen, and we spotted an ettin talking to itself, wandering around the entrance. We devised a plan to take it out as quickly and silently as we could, especially as there was also a goblin within the cave holding onto a thin rope... clearly an alarm...With Lidda and Bran perched above the cave entrance, I created the smell of cooking bacon just outside the cave, and it worked... the ettin came out! Needing to draw him out, I walked forward, holding out some jerky. Quietly, I tried to magically Charm him, but 2 heads and brains... it didn't work, and the beast lumbered toward me as my magic failed me again... Great Digger, I need to do better!The world blacked out as the giant first kicked me, then pounded me with his flail. When I came to, combat had been joined, and orcs were massing within the cave to charge out. The ettin fell, just as the orcs emerged. Lidda danced away from their blades while Thorin, Bran, Dawnclaw, and I engaged the orcs. Journey's magic was incredibly effective from range, while she yelled at me "you're a wizard!" In spite of this, I found that applying my hammer to the back of an orc's head is a simple and remarkably effective tactic.While watching for another wave of orcs, we grabbed the bodies and dragged them away from the cave entrance, then took a rest. No other orcs came out to investigate, and so we formed back up, and went in. Deeper into the orc lair...Let me take a moment here. Orc caves are something of a mockery of the halls of our homes. Clearly effort has been made to form, shape, and expand the natural caves, but there is no craftsmanship, only blunt crude effort. Honestly, it's sad to see, and makes me miss the halls of my childhood. I've included a rough sketch of their lair.Deeper into the lair we came to a most disturbing chamber. A shaman was tending to a pair of sick orcs. Pustules on their bodies swollen and full of puss and gas were growing and popping at an unnatural rate. Dawnclaw warned of poison. We discussed trying to speak with them, but the sick orc's stumbled toward us and we attacked. My magic was much more effective here, as I cast a pair of witch bolts. The first at one of the sick orcs... who exploded in a rain of infected flesh, blood, and puss. I shifted position, and empowered another witch bolt, this time at the shaman whose arm was raised to cast a spell. He never finished casting, as my spell dropped him to the floor of the cave twitching. Unfortunately I was caught as the other infected orc popped, and spent several minutes retching out blood. Backing out of the caves, we again rested, and returned.In spite of the noise we'd been making, the orcs remained generally disinterested in the goings on of their cave. Speaks volumes of the life they lead when the sounds of combat don't draw the attention of everyone in the area.Exploring the sick cave, I discovered a poorly build secret door, [...]



Converting Ingrid

2018-04-10T06:00:09.670-04:00

So the new player in the D&D game I okay in is playing a halfling rogue. Awesome, easy!

With a bow...

And a rapier...

Hmm... that's a little less easy.

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This is Ingrid. I've already painted one of her from the Learn to Paint Kit, and I had a spare from the Bones Kickstarter. One of them... 1, 2, or 3... Probably 1...

Well, whichever it was, she's gonna take some work...

Let's start by cutting off her hands.

And we'll steal this guys bow hand...
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And, uh.... I guess use a pin for the rapier scabbard?

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And she's gonna need a base. Happy Seppuku to the rescue! Mix up some green stuff... Blob for a hand, add the basket hill, arm guard for the bow arm...

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Hua... Okay, not too shabby!

If I had to do it over again, I'd rotate out her right arm, and have it holding an arrow, rather than steadying the scabbard. Also, I'd try to line up the scabbard with the hilt better.



Sunday Inspirational Image: Noir City

2018-04-08T06:00:11.591-04:00

3 in a row from the same artist... I'm just really liking his style right now.

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By eddie-mendoza



Countdown to Infinity War: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

2018-04-06T06:00:38.209-04:00

I haven’t watched this installment of GotG nearly as often as I’ve seen the original… In fact I think this was only my 3rd viewing of it. My thoughts haven’t significantly changed much from my first review. The Guardians have clearly been working pretty well together, taking on a variety of jobs, but the togetherness is starting to rub everyone the wrong way. 


One thing I didn’t really touch on in my last review was the Ravagers. These freedom loving pirates get a lot more fleshed out here, and we get to see how they’re loosely organized under a code… a code that Yondo broke, and the consequences he’s faced because of it. And when Yondo lets his guilt over that, and his love for Peter get in the way of his crew and their making a profit... well, he pays an even bigger price. Kraglin, who loves his captain, and wants nothing more than to support him, finds himself pushed too far, and that is enough for the rest of the crew to mutiny. Sadly for Kraglin this ends up causing the death of his friends, as the mutinying crew quickly purges itself of those most loyal to Yondu.

This viewing I found myself really focusing on the action around the main crew. The Ravagers especially, but the Sovereign also. It's amusing to think that a species so hyper engineered ends up acting like a bunch of high school assholes.

Post Credit Scenes - There's a bunch. First, you have Kraglin practicing with the arrow, and accidentally hitting Drax. Then you get the Ravager tribes coming together. I'd love to see a spinoff series or movie about that... teenage Groot in his moody angst-ridden stage, and then Ayesha of the Sovereign having created Adam... Hints at Vol 3? Finally, the Watchers abandoning Stan Lee.

Next Up: Spider-Man: Homecoming



First Contact Day

2018-04-05T08:45:13.586-04:00

Wishing everyone peace and long life.


Here's to the future!



Orcs in the Elf Woods

2018-04-04T06:00:11.609-04:00

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

I cannot even begin to express my exasperation at the impatience of your nephew. While I was carefully pouring over old tomes in dusty libraries and private collections looking for information on the old kingdom of the giants, Thorin decided to take Lady Awful to Nightstone… The humans went with him. When I discovered that he went off on his own, I went and found Journey and we followed them, taking with us a small Halfling named Lidda.

We arrived at Nightstone without incident, but found that we had just missed as assault upon the village by a troop of orcs. Thorin and co, with the help of a dragon, won the day. Great Digger forgive me, but I think I need to pay more attention to Thorin and his impulsive ways.

Once we were all back together, we all shared what we knew, and decided the next stop should be Goldstone… which meant either turning around and going back through Waterdeep, or cutting through the elven woods. As the town was depressingly understaffed, the fine innkeep was considering allying with the Black Network to help them keep the town safe. We talked him out of that terrible idea with the promise to go see about getting the elves to help out. Taking some of the orc heads, we set off.

I will not bore you with the details, but it seems the elves were willing to speak with us thanks to my limited knowledge of the traditional elven word for friend. They were insufferably haughty but agreed to both speak with the villagers and to allow us passage. They also claimed that no orc encampments were within the woods. I have my doubts…Especially as we were set upon by over a dozen of the brutes while passing through the woods.

The battle was fierce. I found myself defending the left flank while Thorin and Rin took the center, and Bran the right. The elves remained hidden, occasionally sending a volley of arrows into the orc line. Journey and Lidda kept to the rear, sending flame and arrows into the orcs to best support those of us in battle as the fight shifted.

I took on one brute early in the fight who was more ferocious than I’d expected. His weapon came in under my guard as I hit him with a frost bolt. His attack slammed me in the gut, and he followed up with a swing at my neck as I bent over in pain. Only my bedroll saved my head. My hammer dispatched him, but 2 more were close behind. One was a shaman who summoned a demon blade to attack Thorin. I cursed at the orc to draw his attention away, and it worked, he came for me!

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Lidda, her bow twanging, felled the grunt, while Journey blasted the shaman with a bolt of flame. I overcharged the Witchbolt, something I’ve not tried before, and slammed my hammer into the shaman, sending him flying back wreathed in the blinding energy. When I looked around the last of the orcs was being felled.

The elves, remaining mostly in the trees, were… restrained in their thanks for our assistance in slaying the roving bands of orcs in their woods. We took a few minutes to rest after the battle, and the elves shared some of their “food” with is. Thorin and I stuck with our trail rations, though Journey seemed to enjoy their food, as much as she denied it.



Countdown to Infinity War: Doctor Strange

2018-04-02T06:00:32.969-04:00

This is the story of how Tony Stark, sorry, Doctor Stephen Strange, mechanical medical genius became Iron Man The Sorcerer Supreme.

It’s just so easy to get the two of them confused. Both are insanely intelligent, egotistical, self-centered assholes who think everyone is beneath them. Both are victims of their own arrogance. Neither ever actually reaches “humble” in spite of their setbacks.

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Visually, this movie is a treat. From the cosmic colors to the kaleidoscoping landscapes to the rich textures of the fabrics used. There’s a lot to see, and every time I’ve watched it, I’ve appreciated the visuals more and more.

The storyline is… Okay. It didn’t really do anything new or exciting, and felt very much like what we’ve seen before. I wish it had pushed things further.

Kaecilius, the antagonist has a fairly clear motivation, if twisted. I kinda feel like this would have been a far more interesting conflict if the focus would have been better placed on the relationship between Kaecilius and Mordo, especially since Strange mostly was… just kind of there. Strange didn’t even want to be involved in the conflict, in protecting the world… He just wanted to heal his hands.

In that way, it kind of reminded me of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton was clearly the bumbling sidekick of the movie, but as the camera was on him, it almost seems like he’s the hero. It’s the same with Strange… he’s just there, in the way, along for the ride, defending himself as needed, while Mordo fights to actually stop Kaecilius.

I did really enjoy a lot of the dialogue in the movie. When The Ancient One banishes Strange to the top of Everest, and Mordo says “Oh, no, not again.” Lines like that can tell you an awful lot about a character.

The back and forth between Kaecilius and Strange makes the movie, regardless of any other flaws.

allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ewFg5wUvkGI" width="560">

End Credit Scene: Thor and Strange have a beer! Mordo decides there's too many sorcerers in the world... for... some reason... Not sure I follow that logic.

Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2






March 18 in Review

2018-03-31T06:00:13.290-04:00

Gaming

The exploration into Stonehell continues. Their fight with Ka-Nefar for control of the upper levels of the dungeon has

My 5e game is going really well. My religious dwarven wizard, when he rolls well, kicks some serious ass, especially when the barbarian is distracting whatever it is he's going after.
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Haven't gotten in any Frostgrave in a while, and it's becoming an itch that I really want to scratch.

Minis

Painted up 2 dwarves; my converted Ivar, and Dain for my fellow dwarf player. Also painted up the Foo Dog figure as a golden statue with jade eyes, and the Donkey, both from Bones 3. The Deladrin, Autumnal Ranger that I started back in February has reached the point of "I'm done" even though there's more I could do. I also have been working on the Bones Stone Giant for my Wednesday FLGS D&D game. Still need to finish taking pictures and writing up blog posts for most of them...
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Books
Ninja CPA Review...

Movies
Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers Age of Ultron
Ant-Man
Captain America Civil War
The Punisher season 1
Jessica Jones (first couple of episodes)



Donkey and Foo Dog

2018-03-30T06:00:11.426-04:00

Sometimes you just need a random mini…The Foo Dog I pulled out for Chinese New Year. Rather than try to paint it up like some sort of actual living thing, I figured why not just paint it up like a golden statue? So I did. I think he’ll work well for a random terrain element or objective marker in Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago.Base coated with Brown liner, I then painted him with a dark old gold, followed by New Gold for the broad highlights. The metallic red was painted first with Retro Red, which looked too orange, so I mixed in some Heraldic Red to strengthen the redness. The eyes I painted with Jade green, blended with Brown Liner to Linen White to try to give it a hint of gem-ness.It was based on a 2” base, and I used a mix of gravel and sand to texture the base. This was painted with a variety of browns and greens, with dots of flock and turf. I added a few dots of orange to look like little flowers.The Donkey was painted with Desert Sand and Stone Grey over Brown Liner. As usual, Linen White and Brown liner were used to shade. Oh, and for reference pictures, I used Donkey from Shrek rather than a real one… *shrug* The packages on the donkey’s pack were painted a variety of colors, mostly based on whatever paints I had on my work tray at the time. Just about everything got a wash of Sepia.He’s based on a 30mm base with the same mix of sand and gravel as the Foo Dog. I painted the base a little differently, using redstone as the base. Otherwise, pretty much the same.Total Minis Painted in 2018: 25[...]



Blade Runner 2049

2018-03-29T06:00:16.796-04:00

First, thank gods it wasn’t a reboot.

It was an interesting sequel, and I liked seeing how they advanced the world. In tone, it was less Noir, and more… dystopian sci-fi. The impression that the world has changed a lot in the 30-ish years since the original, beyond just the changes due to a EMP that did a fairly through wipe of data around the world, and the various dirty bombs… and a world where the entire ecosystem has collapsed and a simple wooden toy is worth a fortune. Actually, those last 2 aren’t really any different from the first movie, but most explicit. Climate change, nuclear war, and who know what genetic-bio-warfare have all but destroyed the planet for human habitation. The colonization of other planets, and the mass exodus isn’t just for commercial gain, but, it seems, a necessity.

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And I think it’s the mass exodus that I noticed most strongly. In the original movie it was crowded in the streets. Busy and alive with everyone pressed in together, even as there were massive buildings empty, or nearly so. In 2049, there wasn’t the same feeling, even in the busy apartment building.

As far as the story goes, I like that they made the Replicants easy to spot. I kind of thought that was a dumb thing to do on the part of the Tyrell Corp. Why make a slave class that can blend in to the non-slave population? This time, the hunt is for one who can breed. Apparently making genetically viable Replicants is hard, but the now defunct Tyrell Corp managed it? Also seems like a stupid thing to do to make a slave class self-replicating, especially when they’re stronger than baseline humans.

A worthy sequel, but I think not one that will join the original as a classic of Sci-Fi Cinema.



5e: Hammerheart's Tomb

2018-03-28T06:00:23.097-04:00

From: Fulhoff of Clan BalderkTo: Helja and Adrik of Clan BalderkMother & Father,After looting the goblins of their meager wealth, we carefully entered the tomb of Hammerheart. Bloody smears directed our attention to a pile of corpses... the stripped bodies of the Neverwinter guards. Unartfully butchered, they were missing various bits. The rest of the entrance chamber was decorated with ancient tapestries moldy and decaying. Whoever buried him was not a dwarf. Such impermanent furnishings are unworthy of even a minor legendary figure.The only door was trapped, and in spite of my guidance in the workings of the trap, Bran was not only unable to disable it, he set it off. Darts shot out, but thankfully whatever poison was applied to them had degraded over the years. Only Bran looked a little green after. While humans have much going for them, they do lack a certain toughness.The next chamber was full of boxes and crates, most of them open. Only one remained locked and unmolested. Atop it was an old leather bound book, long abused. I carefully flipped it open using the tip of my dagger and peeked at the words within. Neat blocky runes revealed it to be not only a diary, but the diary of Hammerheart himself. Telling of his deeds, and his undwarvenlike disdain for gold... he gave it all away? Keeping only that which would help him with his questing.While I read, Journey examined the chest. The next thing I knew Bran and Journey were squawking out different children's tunes. Thankfully as they arrived at the end of the first verse the chest popped open, reveiling the arms and armor of Hammerheart. Not knowing their quality or value we let them be. Disappointingly it seems that Hammerheart used a broadsword... At least it wasn't an ax. Thorin would never have let that go. Listening at the next door...Note to self/party: Search for traps, listen at doors, then check for treasure. We were stupid and lucky this time.Listening at the next door... we heard a deep voice say something in giant, and then in common "what are you?" Bran unlocked the door quietly while the questioning beyond continued, and then Rin peeked in. A cyclops stood in the far corner, yelling down at something hidden behind a stone tomb. When he whispered that a giant-kin was squatting in the tomb of a dwarven hero... I'm the one who went into a rage. I shoved past him, and my hands crackled with energy. Rin, surrounded by the ghosts of his ancestors... or maybe those he's killed? Shoved past me, leaping over the tomb, and swung at the giant. As I recovered from the shove, I used the same magic on the cyclops as I had on the goblin. Blue-white energy arced from my hammer into the giant's chest, and his flesh blackened as you could begin to see his skeleton flashing though his skin. Bran and Journey followed into the room, each launching their own attacks at the creature. Bolts of magical energy fired from Journey, while Bran flanked the beast.With a grunt of anguished pain at my ongoing attack, the giant stooped down and hurled a boulder at me. Thankfully the ghosts, and the beast's poor vision kept it from solidly hitting, and I was only staggered. Momentarily dazed my magic faltered, but I called the words drawing on the power of the weave, and again the energy crackled from my hammer. Rin and Bran continued to slice into the giant's legs, and Journey fired bolt after bolt of fire, but it was my assault that kept distracting it. With an anguished wail, the desecrator threw his massive club at me. I used my magic to swat it aside, and at that moment Journey fired one final bolt into the beast's blackened chest.Bound up behind the tomb, we discovered the Halfli[...]



Countdown to Infinity War: Captain America Civil War

2018-03-27T06:00:27.429-04:00

At the end of Ant-Man, we got to see Cap and Falcon with Bucky trapped in a giant industrial vice... that scene doesn't show up until about an hour into this 2 and a half hour long movie.Heroes fighting each other is as common in comic books as variant covers, and it's happened multiple times in the movies already. In the first Avengers movie when Cap, Thor, and Iron Man went at it over who got to deal with Loki? In Ant-Man, when he robbed the Avengers compound and had to fight Falcon? Here we have the Avengers dealing with the fallout of having vaporized an entire city. The UN have voted to... institutionalize the Avengers. Tony feels guilty, and wants to shift any future blame. Cap... can't do it. And let's take a second to look at that... the maverick playboy billionare is all about joining the system, while the soldier isn't. It's an odd reversal when you think about it, and while it works for the story, and based on the events of all the previous films... but it's still... odd. Complicating everything is Bucky, who's back as the Winter Soldier, and has killed the King of Wakanda. Cap of course wants to save him, while Tony, Black Panther, and the world at large want to see him either locked up or 6' under. On top of that, you've got Wanda feeling guilty for the people she's killed, Vision trying to figure out what exactly he is, what he's meant to be, and his developing feelings for Wanda, Black Widow is... well, honestly she's as inscrutable as usual, and playing both sides.Bring in some side trips to loop in Spider-Man (and Aunt May), Ant-Man, and Agent 13 (Falcon and Bucky in the car looking on was my favorite part of the movie).The big set piece conflict at the airport was really nicely done. Both because it was a well put together fight, but also because you could tell that no one really wanted to be fighting each other. Everyone was pulling their punches, at least a little. It wasn't a fight to put the other guy down for good. On top of that, there was never a point watching that fight that I didn't know who was who or what was going on. Too often movies make combat as noisy and chaotic as it really is, or even worse, just a visual and auditory cacophony (i.e. Transformers).Overall this installment of The Avengers Captain America is beyond solid. It takes the characters seriously while allowing the humor and silliness of everything to keep it from being an unentertaining allegory of American intervention and it's consequences.Oh, and the post credit scenes? More Spider-Man and Aunt May!Next Up: Doctor Strange[...]



Countdown to Infinity War: Ant-Man

2018-03-26T06:00:38.891-04:00

So way back when I started this countdown, I talked about how different movies brought other genres into the traditional comic book action grouping?

This is the heist movie.

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Let’s just ignore the training montage this time, shall we? I get that they need to learn their powers, but I really do prefer when we get to meet the heroes after they’ve at least started learning about their powers. I get that it’s a way to show the audience what they can do, but… Is it really necessary at this point?

I love… LOVE how Hank Pym hates the Stark family. And how Scott’s first thought at the dangers of what the Yellow-Jacket could do was to call in the Avengers. This is a film that knows it’s part of the greater MCU, but in some ways is a little closer to the street level heroics of Dare Devil or Jessica Jones than the literally out of this world adventures of Doctor Strange, Thor, or the Guardians of the Galaxy. And it’s perfectly okay with that, and embraces it totally, as seen by the big fight between Ant-Man and Yellow-Jacket on the train board.

And I want Luis to narrate everything from now on.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Ant-Man and Wasp. I get why, story-wise, it made sense to keep Hope out of the suit, but it did feel wrong.

Oh, and the post credit scene? Falcon and Cap have Bucky captured… So glad Civil war is next!



Sunday Inspirational Image: City of Monsters

2018-03-25T06:00:05.213-04:00

Just because they're monsters, doesn't mean you can't be neighborly!

(image) By Nieris



Blade Runner

2018-03-22T06:00:26.268-04:00

It's odd that I'm only just now getting around to watching Blade Runner, as it's such a classic sci-fi movie, yet here I am, having just finished it, and feeling the need to get some thoughts down about it. At some point I should probably also read the novel it's based on...

Spoilers below on the off chance that like me you haven't gotten around to this classic yet.


First thoughts? The design from sets to costume to lighting and makeup are all absolutely phenomenal! And had they set the movie in 2119 as opposed to 2019, I'd have found it far more believable. In fact, in my head, I just made that headcanon. The effort to make everything seem so advanced from 1982, yet at the same time dingy, run down, used up. Everything in the movie looks a little worn, weary, and a little sad. Faded glory... very noir, but an interesting blend of 40's noir plus 80's all pushed forward into a dystopian future.

I loved the costumes that you see for mere moments in the crowded street scenes. There's a lot of personality in every character, and the heavy Chinese and Japanese influences from the hats and umbrellas (due to the ever present rain) to the various street vendors helps add a layer of cultural blending that reminded me of the heavy mix of American and Chinese cultures in Firefly, though of course the influence ran in the other direction. I also really enjoyed... appreciated all the advertisements.

The next time I get around to running an adventure or even campaign that's city based, I'm going to rewatch this just for the visual inspiration.

The golden pyramid of the Tyrell Corp, and it's temple-like interior made the encounter between the replicant Roy and Tyrell himself a not so subtle allegory of the creation destroying the creator... killing your gods.

The genetic tech of Blade Runner is fascinating, and it hints at a word that has environmentally collapsed. None of the animals shown are "real" but are all genetically modified/created constructs... just like the Replicants. Genetic toys... be they toy soldiers, laborers, or sex toys... identical to humans, but with 4 year life spans they are ultimately disposable. It's interesting that the euphemism used to describe killing them it to "retire" them.

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After sleeping on it, the other thing it reminds me of is Cowboy Bebop, which is interesting, as the Blade Runner Blackout 2044 animated short was done by the director of Cowboy Bebop, so clearly not a random connection...

And in answer to the question "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" they apparently dream of unicorns.



5e: Off To Hammer Rock

2018-03-21T06:00:27.950-04:00

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

I wish that my path was clearer.

My associates seem taken with joining an organization, and are off completing a task they’ve been assigned as a trial, while I’ve remained in Waterdeep to seek answers. It is an amazing city… it hums with a vibrancy that is beyond even that of the ringing in the great forges… though is far less productive. I’ve spent hours walking the streets, stopping in shrines, temples, and bars as I come to them.

This business with giants… it will not end well. It rarely does in the stories. Even when defeated, the damage is always terrible. When Moradin smote the giant-devils of the duergar the scars left upon Ferun in the battle still can be seen… What scars will this new conflict leave?

When I was young I would see signs everywhere… now? The Great Digger is silent… or maybe she is just waiting?



To follow up on the last letter, while no signs have made themselves apparent, my indecision is most definitely impacting my work. I have decided to continue on with Thorin. While I would claim that it’s to keep an eye on him, it is apparent that I am the one in need of it.

We’re heading north to visit with some noble who knows of a dwarven tomb, and seems intent on robbing it. While I’ve not been able to dissuade my friends from helping, as there is apparently some artifact that may assist with the giant situation, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to smooth over any issues with the dead. Two days into the journey as came across 2 stone giants tearing a traveler’s shrine apart. We stayed out of sight.

Meeting with the noble woman, who is not as old as I expected, she told of hiring a cartographer to find the tomb, and then when he got lost, sending some Neverwinter guards after him. They haven’t been heard from either. So off we went. The woods were strange… the Fae-Wild was close. And we found one of the guards, though we didn’t find him first. He was being held down by vines, and mocked and kicked by bugbears.

And I… was useless. My tongue tripped on the spells, and my hammer connected with nothing. Thorin acquitted himself well, of course, as did the rest of the party, taking out both the bugbears and the blighted vines. The guard, amazingly still alive, told of a glade, and a stone hammer, and his comrades, who he ran from when they were attacked. After resting up, he continued his running, and left us.

We pressed on. The birds cawed oddly as we came to the clearing he described. The stone hammer, clearly a work of Moradin, was untouched by mortal tools, formed from the living rock. It was an honor to touch it. Beyond we came to a small cliff face. Thorin noted some odd stones, and the barbarian worked the magic of the lock, using the bird calls we’d heard to figure it out, opening a door into the cliff. I was honestly not paying much attention, but I did see the goblins scamper down the cliff side! They focused their fire on the tiefling witch and the barbarian, though not entirely successfully.

After having a chance to center myself at the hammer, my spells flew much more easily, and I killed the goblin chief with an ease that surprised me. One goblin ran away, and the others were slain. They had little treasure on them… I wonder if they have a lair nearby. Perhaps we can explore the area after checking the tomb.



Dain DeepAxe

2018-03-20T06:00:18.499-04:00

When my fellow Dwarf player in my 5e game saw Fulhoff, he was super impressed, which was nice. And I offered to slap some paint in the mini he'd picked, Dain Deepaxe. Now, like Ivar, this is a quick and dirty tabletop standard paint job. After washing trimming the base, and using my Happy Seppuku base stamp (I really do love this thing) I base coated with Brown Liner.And started with the eyes. They're the same green as Fulhoff's. Green, for greed...Warrior flesh for the skin, and Auburn shadow for the beard and horns.Muddy Olive for the pack.Oceanic Blue for the cloth, Armor for the chainmail, helmet, shield, and axe.He really looks like a prepaint here... terrible... The Sepia Wash doesn't help the look either.Combination of browns for the various leather things, including Rich Leather, Ruddy Flesh, Tanned Leather, Dragon Red, and even a bit of Heraldic Red for the extreme highlights.The horns went from brown up through Desert Stone, to Bone, to Linen White. I'm pleased with the effect, even though it took a lot of layers.The Gold was originally done with New Gold, but it looked wrong, so I went back over it with Dragon Copper, and then gave bits of it a glaze of Armor Wash.The shield was done with a blend of Armor and Armor Wash for the back. I wanted it to look a very dark metallic. The Copper and Gold pattern was carefully picked out with combination of dry brushing and very careful edging.And here are the cousins together!Total Minis Painted This Year: 23[...]



Countdown to Infinity War: Avengers Age of Ultron

2018-03-19T06:00:21.889-04:00

As much as getting the Avengers together to showcase really big fun fight scenes is, and it is, what really works is the time spent between those explosions. And much like GotG v.2, the fault lines in their friendships are exposed, and then widened by the Scarlet Witch.

While you don’t have Loki kicking around giving sly smiles, you instead get James Spader hamming it up as Ultron, the evil robot created by Tony and Bruce as they tapped into Loki’s scepter. I really enjoyed him and Paul Bettany going back and forth.

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But while Ultron was the bad guy in the movie, the conflict really stems from Tony Stark’s willingness to push buttons and just act without checking in with the rest of the team, while Steve has a moral streak a mile wide, and as the team leader expects to be checked in with before anyone does anything crazy… like let a homicidal AI loose on the world. Or abduct the homicidal AI’s next generation creation, and upload your personal AI assistant into it… Little things like that.

Fun twists and turns!
Natasha (aka Black Widow) has her turn with Bruce in this movie. It’s interesting how she, the consummate spy, morphs the most depending on who she’s with in any given movie, and while Banner might not trust himself with her, I’m not sure that of the two he’s trusting the right person. And I have to admit, I kind of hate that fact. It’s right for the character, but…

Hawkeye, though, he gets to pull the biggest shocker. He’s married… with kids! And brings the team to his farmhouse after they fumble in dealing with Ultron. Seeing the team deal with this surprise was a whole lot of fun. Thor pushing the broken Legos under the chair, Cap chopping wood (cause he needs to be useful), Tony fixing the tractor, and then Fury showing up to rally the troops.

And while Fury is the dad/coach figure of the movie, Hawkeye gets to be the older brother for the new members of the team… and point out the insanity of it all "The city is flying ... we're fighting an army of robots ... and I have a bow and arrow," he says. "None of this makes sense."

And for the end credit scene? Thanos, who we’ll be seeing more of soon…

Next Up: Ant-Man






DCC: Chaos Rising

2018-03-16T06:00:33.274-04:00

I'm pretty sure I got this as one of my kickstarter rewards for the DCC 4th Printing... but however this fell tome came to me, it's contains horrors in abundance. Even more than Goodman Games usually packs into one of their releases. In this case, they pulled it off by cramming 5 different adventures into 56 pages. Now, these aren't new adventures, so you've probably seen one or two before, but unless you're a compulsive collector of DCC material, you probably haven't seen them all!

Here's what's included, with a brief description of each.

Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box - Level 1
This adventure is much more of a resource management adventure than you usually get with DCC where much of the adventure is simply getting down to the bottom of a pit and back out again. And the resource? Your blood! What? Did you expect it to be something else? It's literally in the title of the adventure. Come on now.

The Imperishable Sorceress - Level 1
This is an adventure that you can either build up toward, or just drop into a campaign. Crazy old dead sorceress wants to live again in her construct body, but needs the PCs to make it happen. Will she fool them, or will they take her body and treasure?

Glipkerio’s Gambit - Level 2
An adventure in reverse, though the PCs probably aren't going to figure that out right away. It's an inventive way to pull time travel into the game, and also the battle tracker makes actually running it possible.

The Tower Out of Time - Level 2
Arrival of the dino-wizard from the past! Interesting traps and tricks, along with some potentially difficult battles. Love the Behind the Scenes notes in this one. With that was a standard inclusion.

The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust - Level 3
Here's something you don't often see: heist adventures for D&D/DCC! Add in some fun extradimensional spider things and dangerous magic items, and this is a real winner of an adventure.

The Undulating Corruption - Level 5
Magic is wild, dangerous, and will eventually mess you up real good. But what if there was a way to fix it... what if that way was a A GIANT WORM that's going to eat a city?

The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad - Level 5
You know what DCC does really well? It sets up a trap that unwarry PCs will gleefully jump right into. And this little 3 room dungeon is just that sort of trap.

What's Missing?
I wish there was a little discussion about why these 5 adventures in particular were chosen, and where they were all originally published. Aside from that, this is absolutely worth the price for all of the wonderful monsters, tricks, traps, and treasures that may... or may not be safe to claim.