Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Known World Gazetteer #2


The Holy Travels of Savage Winterbeard, 
Paladin of Krixmas, Acolyte of Farglin Sound

Chapter 2.1- The Road to Red Timber

The compatriots I have met as I continue my Path toward accepting my Paladin’s Oath make quite an interesting group. For the sake of the Order, I feel it prudent to record the proceedings of my quest and those intrigues of my fellow adventurers. I will start with Pandak, a fellow Paladin. He is perhaps the lone individual in the group who shares the solitary promise of devotion although I have the impression that he does not hold Krixmas in his heart, nor have reverence for my practices. What I can say is that we share the common bond of the protector and have done all that is in our power to protect our travelling companions as we head to answer the call of Red Timber and the mystery that their governor Thaddeus Madison will unfold to us when we arrive. His heart is true and his life, that of a Noble, enriched with great knowledge.
The second dwarf is said to be a descendant of Pandak’s deity Georgee and his mortal love, Fie. This dwarf is feisty and the only thing more fiery than her hair appears to be her disposition. She is a fierce warrior and will be a great asset. Her wisdom belies her stature, though I would never make such a comment to either of their faces as I know the dwarves to be a proud people and worthy of the respect they command.
I find myself the outlier as I have been my entire life as a rarity in my Order: one born of the darkness. In this party as there is not another human among the bunch and I stand out even more among my companions most literally in my height. In addition to the two dwarves we also have two gnomes in the party. The first is a holy kinsman to my Order and a descendant of Charmin. Jarry Charminson hails from the Forestlands and makes his living as a Guild Artisan while he searches for what he believes to be the downfall of his bloodline and sounds suspiciously akin to the Mug Gun upon which my holy Quest finds its foundation. We share the desire for restoration of our peoples and in such he was the first of the party to cross my path and my truest ally.
Perhaps the strangest of the party, but the one who shares the Song in my heart is the bard. BORP. We have become fast friends and I often allow her to ride on my back protected by my shield and stature. In turn, she has woven tales in song of our exploits and given me inspiration in my quest and in the heat of battle. I know not why she has incorporated into our little tribe, but I find her to be a great acquisition.
Finally, rounding out our group is the halfling rogue: Clementine Whiteside. I have trouble keeping track of this one both on the battlefield and off. I suspect that her past has not always been on the right side of the law but can appreciate the set of skills that she brings to our party and have found her to be of great use on more than one occasion when the might of sword or spirit of belief will not provide advantage or entry to certain establishments or circles. She is under Pandak’s protection as best I can tell and share a bond over an identical mysterious trinket they both carry on their person. His friendship is enough for me to trust this one... but only as far as I could throw her. I hope she will prove my suspicions moot.
The call for help has come from the Outpost of Red Timber and we have decided to answer the call. This small city is one of the final bastions of humanity and civilization on the edge of what is now known as 'The Wilds'. Wood Cutter's Guild head, and 'high roller', Thaddeus Madison has offered a substantial amount of money to individuals who can help the Outpost with an unknown issue. We come to both help, learn, and collect though not necessarily in that order of importance depending on which member of our party you ask.
On the outskirts of Red Timber we passed the temple of the Traveller on the public road. I spat to show my allegiance to my God but greeted the Priest who stood at the door of the hall to acknowledge his position and domain in this land. I long to be able to sew the seeds of Krixmas via the noble trees of Farglin Sound, my adopted home. Oh, to have them spread in every land and hear the Song of Krixmas fill the lungs and spill from the lips of every inhabitant of the Known World. But for now, as I inch closer to taking my Oath, I shall continue to respect the efforts of my fellow paladins, acolytes, and priests for their struggle is my own and their faith no less passionate or justified. He appeared stone faced and unmoved.
Unfortunately, as dusk set upon us and we arrived at the gate of Red Timber, we were greeted with the same lack of enthusiasm by the guards stationed above the portcullis. While one guard seemed more than willing to allow us entry and share with us the disease that has been ravaging his kinsman, his senior officer’s attitude and lack of luster for our response to his governor’s call kept us from entering the gates that night. We ask to see Madison himself or to speak to the superior of these men but learn that Kerwin Straight, the City Magistrate is outside the walls for the evening accompanied by Madison’s daughter Belinda but would return in the morning when we would be allowed entry.
Our conversational guard suggested we find haven for the evening in Lowtown which has had fewer cases of the mysterious disease said to be affecting Red Timber. We are told that a man named Pauly Cove is the unofficial elected official of Lowtown whose inhabitants number nearly three-hundred souls. The walled city we learn, used to number over five-hundred but has precipitously dropped as this illness has spread. As we entered the town square our party was confronted with two establishments in which to drink and sup: the upscale and less lively Holkin’s Grudge or the public house owned by Pauly Cove himself which was alive with song and dance. A youngling tells us we can find Cove within and feeling the joy of Krixmas emanating from the later, I was happy to say that it was also echoed by the group that we should patronize this public house.
Immediately upon entry I lost sight of the rogue. While Pandak sat up watch hoisting himself up on a table from which he could survey the entire hall, Charminson and the dwarf Bargret made haste to the bar with the same fervor that BORP and I made toward the minstrels eager to commune with these potential brothers and sisters of Krixmas. The bard and I quickly ingratiated ourselves to the band were asked if we would like to join them onstage which we happily obliged joining them in song and even spelling them while they took break for ale and sustenance.
It wasn’t long after Bargret and Jarry spoke with the bartender and received their drinks that they were confronted by a man short of stature, but not of companions who had no such size restrictions. We found out this man was Harold Lazenby, known as “Big Harold” among the citizens of Lowtown. After nearly escalating into physicality the exchange between members of our party and Lazenby’s associates, was interrupted by the proprietor himself: Pauly Cove, the “Mayor” of Lowtown. We thanked Master Cove for his assistance and he ours offering to put us up for the night free of charge to which I felt compelled to compensate him in some way for all his trouble.
After settling the tab of the party and gathering a share of the monies paid to the band offered to BORP and I the party headed upstairs to the sleeping chamber and I headed to see the Mistress of the house, Heller in order to discuss the prominence of Krixmas and how we could raise his profile among the patrons of the common house. While she reluctantly was opposed to elevating one God above another for fear of offending the other three deities on the hearth, we did commune in the sacred traditions of Krixmas before I departed to my party to take watch over them while they slept.
During the middle of the night before my watch was up I began to smell smoke coming from outside the manor and looked out upon the village square to see it and a number of buildings engulfed in flames! The party was quickly rousted and headed to the entry of the Cove to assess how we could help. In the square, a host of Orcs were scattered among the flames, two of them stalking townspeople familiar from earlier in the evening in the drinking hall. While we sprang to action with the utmost haste, we were unable to stay the Orc’s hands as they cut down their prey without mercy.
Both Pandak and I shared a wellspring of anger in our veins. We failed to protect the innocent and our blood boiled at the thought of our inadequacy. The party fought valiantly with both Jarry and the Rogue wisely pouncing from my shadow and the bard singing inspiration to us while standing in the entry of the Cove. It was only after having joined the fray that I recognized I had been deceived by some member of the common house, feeling the poison in my blood slowing my reactions. I lashed out with a righteous fury or as much as I could muster and thankfully my companions fought with valiance and vigor overcoming my limited effectiveness.
During the battle it was discovered that our foes were not Orcs, but giant Were-Rats wearing Orc skin to cover their true natures. Additionally, as our party struck them down they reverted to their human form revealing a number of the associates of “Big Harold” who threatened our cohort earlier in the evening. Despite our continued expediency, we were unable to stop the last of our foes from escaping but made sure that Lazenby knew of our discovery of his plans and Pandak and I took it upon ourselves to deposit his known associate on the doorstep of Holkin’s Grudge as incentive to others who might want to try their blade against our own.
After all the commotion, we returned to bed only to have trouble find us again, this time in our own bedchamber hall. We were sprang upon by three figures who distributed a mysterious substance that completely engulfed whole areas of the chamber in a magical darkness through which neither I, nor my dwarven fellows could see. Eventually, it was discovered these assassins were wearing special lenses over their eyes which allowed them to move through the mystical darknesses with unencumbered sight.
Once our party was able to acquire a pair of these goggles, the tide of the fight turned. Charminson conjured a thunderboom which sent furniture and assassin alike tumbling. Unfortunately, one of the bunks bowled BORP over as she engaged in song to steel our party’s resolve. As Pandak and I moved to engage the two remaining assassins, the rogue made herself visible and followed my strike with one of her own finishing the second of three. Finally, Pandak intercepted the final enemy as she made to escape through the broken window through which her or one of her fellow assailants entered. With his mighty hammer he struck and pinned her down to the cold, stone floor.
I rushed to her in order to extract information as Pandak had been careful to make it a glancing blow taking her off her feet but incapacitating her. Before I could interrogate her, she took a capsule causing her to convulse and foam at the mouth. In my haste for answers about these attacks upon my compatriots and the town I admit I acted out of accordance with the Order and Lay my Hands upon her in order to bring her back from the brink. The darkness in my blood boiled at this vile creature and I would not let her go to her maker without satisfying my desire to know who had sent them upon us. After telling us she was of the Sisterhood of Sark and with the strength of my confidants, especially my religious kinsman Charminson, staying my hand and cooling my boiling and darkly tainted blood, we headed to confront Heller, Mistress of the house and as we learned from her Sister, a leader in the cult of Sark.
When we arrived, we found Heller had flown and all that remained were three drug-addled female compatriots which I recognized from earlier. It was at this point the master of the house, Pauly Cove arrived demanding to know what was happening. After recounting our encounter in the sleeping quarters and the ensuing actions which I wrought he took matters out of my hand doing what I wanted so badly to do and executed the assassin for her actions then demanding to know if the three female compatriots of Heller were also Sisters of Sark. Not knowing the answer to his questions by having my doubts I fear that my inaction to stay his hand led also to the execution of these three souls as well. While he thanked us for cleaning his house of the Sisterhood, Cove suggested that it would be a good time for our party to move along. We agreed.
After these events I will plan to pray for guidance both in quieting the fire in my Tiefling blood with the Song of Krixmas and how to ensure that the Suggestion that comes from my Lord is true and just moving forward in my Path to taking my Oath, becoming a full Paladin of Krixmas. How I could have been so completely blind in my communion with the Mistress Heller to her treachery spoke to how far I still had to go in my training.
As we emerged from the Common House onto the streets of Lowtown we were soon greeted by Kerwin Straight, the aforementioned Magistrate of Red Timber who invited us to accompany him to Red Timber. While exiting through the village square we passed “Big Harold” and a few of his men standing outside the Grudge. He intimated that he would be seeing us again in the future and I made sure to draw myself up to full height and suggested that would only be factual if we did not indeed see him first. Herein we made haste toward the gates of Red Timber, eager to confront the mystery and suffering within…
Additional events of note and general musings:
~ The rogue ascertained the name of a contact of her ilk within the City of Red Timber named Irwin Applebottom. His moniker stirred in a number of our party the spirit of Song and Krixmas gave us divine guidance to sing a song about the man’s trousers and boots which pleased all in the party aside from the Dwarves.
~ Jarry Charminson made many a contact within Lowtown and informed the group that additional muscle, should we need it, could be had for a price from some of the Long Shanks thugs and there may also be business opportunities if we were to help them in their quest to lighten the load of the Madison clan.
~ Apparently, Jarry also snuck out to engage in games of chance during my time spent with the betrayer and false believer Heller. He informed the party that he hopes that some of the information he gained and connections would come in handy when next we return to Lowtown which he seemed assured of.
~ While the Magistrate Kerwin appears on the straight and narrow, his brother Creed is known to be a man if ill-repute and should not be trusted. Mirroring this sibling dichotomy are the children of Thaddeus Madison. While Belinda is known as a generally decent person aside from her mysterious disappearances at night with the Magistrate, her brother Tully is a mill of rumor in both Red Timber and Lowtown. It is whispered that women that fall into his hands have disappeared, never to be seen again, or found in a grizzly state taken from this life to the next in a frightening fashion. Whether this started before or after the murder of the third Madison sibling at the hands of Harold Lazenby, we know not.
~ There certainly seems to be no love lost between the families of Lazenby, Shanks, and Madison or those loyal to them.
~ Miss Cept, the proprietor of Lazenby’s Holkin’s Grudge establishment has daughters whom are betrothed to corresponding members of Big Harold’s posse. It remains to be seen whether there is a connection between these persons and the Brothers and Sisters of Sark or if any of these to be married men met their maker on the point of our steel during the fiery attack meant to draw us out into the night.
~ The silvered weapons that the were-creatures carried perplexed the party, but I believe that it is possible that Lazenby has been the source of the rash of intercepted shipments to the Madison family and Red Timber perhaps trying to acquire silver and weapons treated with such material in order to prevent the defeat of his were-posse. I discussed this possibility with Jarry and we intend to consider it and in so, the possibility of utilizing the possible business contacts within that organization for information. Time will tell.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Insecurity Blanket Podcast - Episode 19 - LIVE From Baknes Khoji

Tonight in the Mudd Pitt your Ginger Giant and his pal, the most Dangerous 11 year old ALIVE, Jake use the new 5E DMG to construct the planet of Baknes Khoji for my D&D home brew solar system.  It is pure unadulterated creativity from the brain of an 11 year old and your Ginger King who just acts like he's 11.  This might be my favorite Podcast of all time!  Enjoy!
The Insecurity Blanket Podcast - Episode 19 - LIVE From Baknes Khoji

Antagonist Relations Podcast - Episode 9 - Best Laid Plans

This is the long promised brainstorming session between the Zack Attack & the Ginger Giant for 1st Group's battle against 'The Others'.  So if you were ever intrigued to hear how Zack & a Ginger somehow make sweet, sweet DMing Magic then this one is for you!
Antagonist Relations Podcast - Episode 9 - Best Laid Plans

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Known World Gazetteer #1

So as I continue to blog and run a LOT of D&D I decided I could sort of combine the two.  So about two times a month I want to put up a bit of information on the setting in which my Homebrew Campaign, The Known World, takes place.  For those of you who play in my any of the 3 games I run solo, OR in the game I co-run with Master Ked 4.0 feel free to contact me if you have things you'd like to add and if they fit with the theme, the idea, and the fun of the campaigns, the worlds, and the Blog then I'll post them.  I'm thinking that in this Gazetter I'll be posting tales of events that have taken place either in the history of the Known World, perhaps the background of NPC's, teasers for other People, Places, & Items, and maybe even the occassional Monster stat block as I start to delve more and more into that end of DMing now that the 5E DMG is on its way to my grubby Ginger paws.  If you don't play in any of my games, feel free to still contribute!  I'm always open to new ideas and inspiration.  Or just steal liberally because that is what it is here for.  So without further ado, let's talk MAGIC!

There are 7 Arcane Universities on the continent of Raduenz and its outlying Islands.  These are by no means the only institutions of higher and Arcane learning, but they represent the most famous and infamous known publicly.   


- Lord Carter’s Enchanted Institute– Is located in Dunnsmouth, and is even sometimes referred to as Dunnsmouth University by the masses. Lord Louis Carter was a devout follower of Alora and her teachings. He established his Institute with Anton Dunsay. Dunsay soon split and the two schools became rivals, this spurred the creation of the Arcane Accord in Dunnsmouth which forbids Magic Assaults in the city limits. Instead a steady shadow battle is fought between Headmasters, Professors, and even Students. This keeps the Bigby Watch, the ‘Magic Police’, extremely busy. Lord Carter’s Institute specializes in Abjuration, Illusion, & Enchantment, although all schools of magic are represented in the curriculum. The tuition is relatively cheap, and many are allowed to forgo payment for work or servitude. The current Headmistress is Madison Carter, a descendent of the school’s founder. She is known for her skill in dueling as much as her fervent desire to create a spell that will mark her as one of the great practioners of her time. It is rumored that the Madison Family of Red Timber headed by their current patriarch Thaddeus Madison is who continues to keep Lord Carter’s Institute fiscally afloat. This could be in part due to school founder Lord Carter’s shared history with Marcus ‘Mad Dog’ Madison as part of the Rusty Swords adventuring party over 200 years ago.

- Dunsay School For The Arcane Gifted – Is located in Dunnsmouth. Founded by Anton Dunsay another member of the Rusty Swords and former apprentice of Lord Carter. He founded the school after his bitter split from Lord Carter regarding the ‘fair distribution of accumulated wealth’ from their many adventures. The verbal conflict escalated until Decker The Dark, the Rusty Swords apprentice Rogue, was killed in what was deemed an ‘accident’. This event broke up the Rusty Swords adventuring company. With his wealth now established, Dunsay sought to teach only the most talented and advanced students. Whereas Lord Carter’s Institute is open to all with a desire to learn, the Dunsay School is only for those who already have shown their skill and who have a heavy purse. The Dunsay School specializes in Conjuration & Evocation, although like their rivals they have accomplished professors in all schools on staff. In the last 50 years the Dunsay School has been an integral part of the formative years of many practioners such as Dr. Herbert Grubb, Dr. Anton West, Delron the Brown, Barrack ‘Barry’ Charminson, Savin Romero, & Landri Korvin. Lord Evanston Dunsay is the current Headmaster at the Dunsay School. He is a former student of The Esoteric Halls who made his vast fortune adventuring before marrying into the Dunsay family and taking their last name. He is said to be an extremely skilled Artificer, and has a rumored predilection towards collecting ‘Artifacts Of The Ancients’ which has put him at odds with cadres of Drahjar Seekers in the past.

- The Esoteric Halls – Is located in Barbican Shade, the city that surrounds the Bleak Tower. This is the largest of all of the Arcane Universities, but completely at the whim of the Iron Mage. Those who wish to share in the ‘Infinite Knowledge’ of the fickle Iron Mage can look no further than The Esoteric Halls that lay at the foot of his Bleak Tower. Here the apprentices ruthlessly via for the attention of his Acolytes, who in turn backstab and attempt to hinder one another in the hopes of gaining even a moment of the Iron Mage’s time and dread focus. Few prove worthy of this, and even fewer survive. All schools of magic are represented in The Esoteric Halls, but none is more prized than Divination. This is currently taught by Madame Marie Verice, the current Headmistress. She has been her position longer than any of her predecessors and is said to dine with the Iron Mage himself once per month. She is also responsible for the establishing of the attached Trial Of The Song, Bardic College. This has been done independently of the local Church Of Krixmas causing a schism in amongst those who follow song by faith and those who practice songs by trade.

- The White Lotus Academy – Is located in the Great & Celestial Jade Empire to the east, but they maintain Shrines Of Knowledge throughout the coast of Raduenz. These Shrines are operated by Librarians who accumulate and disseminate information, while Shrine Adherents teach to those who show a willingness to learn, the strength to meet the rigorous requirements, and readiness to declare loyalty to the White Lotus Academy. Even with up to 30 of these Shrines operating on the coast of Raduenz little is known of the White Lotus Academy proper as few who go ever return.

- The Wellspring – Is located in the lands of Karlot The Undying, in the capital of Perpetuity. The Wellspring has long been a fertile ground for merchant companies, such as The Collus Shipping Guild, to gather up ambitious and creative practioners of many different forms to drive up their profits. With his dreams of conquest of the mainland on hiatus Karlot oversees The Wellspring personally. Inspiring, testing, and ultimately culling the weak form the ‘herd’. Any Necromancer who wants true knowledge need look no further than The Wellspring.

- Factorus Arcanum – Is located on the border between the Gnome Lands & the Drahjar Republic. A joint effort by two governments who are obsessed with the ‘Artifacts of the Ancients’ the Factorus Arcanum operates as a school, a refinery, a church, and a university. From its steam belching innards has spilled many of the current technological wonders of the Known World. Between the daring intellectual prowess of its Gnome Professors to the zealous intensity of the Drahjar Instructors many a keen mind and fantastic machine and creator has survived rigorous testing and trials to emerge with a Certificate of Creatorship and the allowance to continue their experimentation under the watchful eyes of either the Gnomish governments Department Of Innovation or the Drahjar’s Division For Artifice.

- The Lost Words – Is located on the edge of the Godfall Vale in Dustkeep. Barty Bellwiggins is the Headmaster and the former The Master Of Book of Dustkeep a roll now taken by his most accomplished student, Cala Urshevin. Barty is a graduate of Lord Carter’s Enchanted Institute and adopted most of his ‘Teach All’ policies upon opening The Lost Words, including establishing a small branch of the Bigby Watch, in order to police students and faculty from taking things into their own hands. As the closest University to Alora’s Arcanum there is a great deal of shared information between Mages from the Elven Homelands and the faculty of The Lost Words. There is also a heated rivalry between some of Barty’s more boisterous students and Elven practioners who tend to look down their nose at the school. Even with this constant tension, every year 5 Elven students attend and 2 Elven instructors teach at The Lost Words in order to ensure cooperation and collaboration between the mages of many races and ‘Alora’s Chosen’, the Elves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grumpiest Old Men Vs. Get Low

12/9/14

I really struggled mightily about what I wanted to talk about here.  There is a distinct part of me that wants to talk about how I’m “another day older, another day closer to death” after yesterday’s birthday.  There is a part of me that desires to discuss at length the sort of sting I felt when no one in my Family acknowledged that beyond my Brother.  There is part of me who wants to talk about how cool it was to have so many Friends come out of the woodwork to give their well wishes.  And there is a part of me who wants to talk about how nothing really changed; I’m still me, tomorrow is still tomorrow, and the only thing that passed was another rotation of the Earth.

Instead I’m going to forgo all those things.  I don’t think it really means anything to anyone, and my heart just isn’t in it to pour out my thoughts and emotions today.  Instead I think I’ll just fulfill my self-imposed challenge to Blog once a week with some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- It was a good Birthday, thanks for asking.

- I really need to start painting this week again.

- 1st Group D&D met last Friday night.  It wasn’t one of my best sessions.  I think I misjudged the ‘room’ in a lot of ways.  I came in really tired as last week was a slog, and it ended with a late Friday at work in a mad rush to finish a class before they turned the lights off.  We then rushed home, where I had to finish my prep, and BOOM(!) we got started.  The ‘BOOM’ was more about the fact that everyone was sort of in a ‘hey how good to see you’ euphoric, loud state to start the night.  I was no exception.  It was as if we were all sort of trying to let the weight of the week finally slide off our backs.  It may not have helped that I chose that night to give 1st Group their Christmas gifts either, but that’s on me not them.  By the time we finally sort of got going my head was stuck in neutral.  I tried to give the PC’s some role playing opportunities early on which they took advantage of, but I think they sort of grew bored with them as well.
So we launched out into the Hex Crawl of the Harvest Wood.  The beautiful thing about the Hex Crawl is even I don’t know what to expect as things are done with a Random Encounter chart.  The bad thing about the Hex Crawl is when you forget to run the set encounters you have created.  Sigh.  I was just off kilter all night.  The combats that the PC’s ran into were challenging enough, especially the Pugwampi’s with the Gnolls, but I felt a distinct lack of satisfaction.  There was a plethora of TERRIBLE dice rolls on all sides that made combat drag.  The pinnacle of this failing was the final encounter where I attempted to give the PC’s information and a situation where combat was only one of several potential solutions.  I try to ensure that if there are potential enemies that are not irredeemably evil that the PC’s have the opportunity for true interaction and non-combat solutions.  I don’t want all those encounters to just be a place to spew rhetoric and 80’s action movie clichés before butchering their now enemies.  The thing is you can never account for how the PC’s will feel in that moment, how they’ll react, how they’ll interpret themselves and their alignment, or if they’ll just feel like bloodshed is the ONLY solution.  Most of the time I’m decent at working around that, rolling with it (no pun intended), and moving forward, but Friday night not so much.
The PC’s ran across some bandits who ambushed them on a hidden logging trail.  The PC’s didn’t know the number in the group, but were shaken down for a book with information on a potential cure for a curse and for some healing.  There are two Paladins in Group 1; each had a decidedly different idea on how to sally forth.  THE Karl wanted to throw down.  He was confident in the Group’s ability to deal with the brigands, and seemed to view any compromise as untenable.  James is the other Paladin.  He couldn’t help himself by giving the bandits far more information than they had, piquing their interest, and also wanted a peaceful solution to the potential bloodbath.  In the end, James was allowed to help the bandits.  There was a lot of debate about what to do by the party, and in hindsight I may have acted harshly as the DM because after about 30 minutes of discussion I forced the PC’s hand by becoming far more aggressive.  The thing is the narrative was becoming excessively bogged down by the discussion that was going in a circle, and patience by all parties was waning.  So the combat was avoided, but in the end I was given the golden gift of Gene deciding to make a very questionable morale decision and lying to the bandits about the information they sought.  Upon James relaying to the PC’s the full tale of the desperation of the brigands Gene tried to right his wrong, only to further it.  I thought it left the situation and the session in a good place to call it a night.  Overall, it was just a ‘C-‘ session with poor rolling, a lack of patience, an inability for me to get things going, and not enough flexibility on everyone’s part.  When a session like this happens it really sticks in my craw.  It feels like a HUGE let down.  I really have to pick things up the next time, and build something a bit less nuanced, a bit more straight forward, and something where quick fun is the order of the day.  I think I can do that.

- For those that know, ‘Ditto Forever!’

- Sometimes no one understands you, not even yourself.

- Sunday I sat down and binge watched the 1st Season of True Detective (Infinite *’s out of 5).
Holy poop, what an absolutely amazing 8 hours of television, I was riveted.  I am literally having a hard time figuring out how to explain the show without spoiling anything.  All I can really say is it is a detective show from HBO starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey that is set in the 1990’s and in the present day dealing with case that was never closed.  See that sounds really sort of bland when I read it, and I’m not sure it’ll sell most of you to drop what you are F’Ning doing and go watch this, which is what you should do.  Ok, the thing is there is FAR more going on than what is on the surface.  Rather than go into any further details, I’ll instead say that if you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror, of long form suspense, and of horrific things lurking in our peripherals then you will LOVE this show like I did.  In fact it is one of the rare exceptions in television and film that gets that Lovecraftian horror correct.  It is all about what you don’t know, all about what they don’t show, all about the horror that is implied and the unraveling of the mystery that in turn unravels your sanity that is truly the most terrifying thing.  True Detective does that in spades with an amazing tale told in staccato bursts of brilliance by a cast that is something to behold.  I cannot recommend this enough.  Do yourself a favor and go forth and watch it.

- The DMG comes this week!
- Thank you to Diamond Dave Wheeler for the sweet magnets!  You rule sir.

- CHIKARA Season 14 finale, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, was Saturday night, and despite there not being a Heel Turn Radio Podcast L.E.W.G.I. did indeed assemble to watch the festivities.
It was a smaller group than we had planned for, but it was the perfect people with which to watch the culmination of another amazing Season.  Let me start by saying Chikara is like a comic book, so while it is Wrestling, it has a distinct 4 color comic feel, and is Family Friendly.  They don’t tolerate profanity, sexualized behavior, or any of the more risqué tropes of wrestling.  Instead it is built on a foundation of LONG term storytelling, a strong adherence to its own continuity, and a smart, friendly, and involved live crowd.  If you continue to read this and wonder why so many people ‘Died’ over this season just keep in mind it is only entertainment.  SO, overall the event itself was heavy with resolution, Face victories, and the set up for what comes next.  Things kicked off with The Young Lions Cup finale had Heidi Lovelace pitted against Missile(!) Assault(!) Ant(!) in the classic brawn versus heart encounter.  Both contestants sold like champions, and the finish with the Basement Hurrancanrana that left Missile Assault Ant a motionless heap was a thing of beauty.  Lovelace is the first woman to hold the Young Lion’s Cup and I think will really do a lot to take the Cup to new heights.  We saw Ashley Remington prove he is the most modest, and best, practioner of the German Suplex when he Coronado with an absolutely stunning Dead Lift German from the apron leaving the Ecuadorian folded up like an accordion.  The match was high on comedy spots, brutal suplexes, and really tight in ring story telling.  I was already a fan of both men’s work, but to me this was the sort of match you go back to and point out how you saw them ‘before they were stars’.
On the flip side was the Delirious Vs. Ultra Mantis Black, Loser Leaves Chikara, war.  Delirious came out in crazy body paint with the words “Delirious Never Dies!” on his back, it was REALLY cool looking.  These two have been allies, enemies, frenimies, and etc.  The only way to end their war was for one to leave.  I thought overall the match had a great sense of desperation to it, a flurry of insanity if you will, but was a bit sloppy.  I also thought the ending of the actual match was obvious.  That being said the fact that Delirious used the Eye Of Tyr to sic Hallowicked and Frightmare on Ultra Mantis post-match was brilliant.  Delirious may be gone, this battle is over, but in his wake he effectively destroyed The Spectral Envoy and left Mantis without his most stalwart allies.  I am beyond intrigued to see where the pieces of the destroyed Envoy go from here, and what about Crossbones & Blind Rage?  Does this signal a return to a time when they were always at Mantis’ side or will they join Hallowicked?  Only Season 15 will tell.  The Eddie Kingston Vs. Jimmi Jacobs tilt wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, as it was really pretty short.  There was a flurry of nasty spots and high violence early culminating with two Backfists To The Future from Kingston leaving Jacobs in a heap.  This gave Kingston ‘3 Points’ meaning he can cash in for a re-match with Icarus for the Grand Championship!  It was a decent match if not very short, but what came next is what really sold me on Season 15 lock, stock, and barrel!  Kid Cyclone destroying Kingston post victory with the pipe wrench, the heartfelt and salient explanation of why he did it, and then the decision to remove his mask and move forward under his real name was utterly perfect.  For a long time Chikara has operated in a ‘Black & White’ world of ‘Good & Bad’ with only Kingston sort of being the ‘Grey Area’ of a man who would do horrible things and yet would ultimately seek and find absolution from Chikara.
Kid Cyclone, whose actual name is currently escaping me, gave a wonderfully poignant explanation of this, which leads to his motivation for his current actions and those to come.  He is your new ‘Grey Area’, as many of the fans actively are siding with him and for good reasons.  Kingston, in his overwhelming desire to regain the Grand Championship, sided with the Flood and helped to wipe out the Green Horn Militia, which Kid Cyclone led.  Many fans are STILL upset about Kingston’s hand in this, and although he ‘Turned Face’ and attacked the Flood it really only came when realized that if we was to ‘TAKE’ the Grand Championship with their help then it would mean nothing.  While a lot of L.E.W.G.I. members and other wrestling fans don’t care for Eddie Kingston’s performances in other places like Ring Of Honor, I can honestly say his work in Chikara is nuanced, character driven, and utterly fantastic.  Without his fall from grace, without his inner turmoil and decent into madness, without his betrayal of Chikara and attempt to right his wrongs none of what is coming now would work.  On Kid Cyclone’s way out of the ring I found it VERY interesting that he did not take revenge on Jimi Jacobs, but only instead demanded his cape back, and then freed the traitorous Snow Troll.  He had said in his speech that others would follow him, and he proved it.  This also was a bit of foreshadowing to the fallout of the main event, but I digress.  The Compeonatos de Parejas match between the champion Throwbacks and the unstoppable Devastation Corporation was simply amazing.  The ring work was solid, the story they were telling was impeccable, and the ending glorious.  It has been a long time coming for Chikara’s true ‘Monster Heel’ team to get some gold, but it was worth the wait.  To me this was the match of the night.
The emotion in the ECW Arena when the Throwbacks hit the Avalance 3D was insane, only to have Sydney Backabella snatch it away by interfering was absolutely pitch perfect.  I can only hope that this is the true beginning a series of matches between these two teams as they tore down the house.  We were then treated to the Team Chikara Vs. Team Flood Cibernetico!  The match was solid, although in some ways it lacked the stakes and emotion that I thought it would produce especially when we got Fire Ant versus the now ‘evil’ Soldier Ant.  It wasn’t a bad match, in fact it was a lot of fun, but I think I just wanted a bit more from something that has been brewing for two seasons and has such heavy repercussions on the Chikara Universe.  The main event had the Grand Champion, Icarus, challenging the Flood’s engine of absolute destruction Deucalion in only the 2nd ever Steel Cage match in Chikara’s history.  Let me first point out that Joel was right, that cage looked VERY unsafe and took about 30 minutes to get up.  The match was decent for what it was.  Having never seen Deucalion actually wrestle, as he usually just Choke Breakers everyone, my expectations were guarded.  Icarus is good inside the ring, but not great, and in my opinion works much better inside a team environment.  All that being said they told a hell of a story.
Icarus would not back down, found a limb and attacked it relentlessly.  Deucalion just kept moving forward like an unstoppable machine, never thinking, only acting, and in the end that is what destroyed him.  I liked the idea that Deucalion came looking for a fight, dragging the masks of all the Chikara roster members he had killed this season, and ran into someone who not only wanted the same fight, but had vengeance on their mind.  In some ways it reminded me of the fight in the Dark Knight Returns between Batman & the Mutant Leader.  Hang on, because I’m about to take you down a serious Nerdery Rabbit Hole.  Icarus took all the wild brunt, aggression, and nastiness that Deucalion could throw at him, and just kept goading him into bad situations before slapping on the Chikara Special and making him tap.  Just like Batman invited the Mutant Leader in their 2nd fight in the mud pit to attack with reckless abandon, to do damage, to work himself in an unrelenting frenzy so he could simply take him apart like a surgeon.  To me, that was how this played out in the match.  Icarus stuck and moved, aggressed when the openings where there, never backed down, but more than that goaded Deucalion into situations that ended up costing him.  However, that wasn’t the end, and here is where that ‘Grey Area’ became FAR more pronounced.  Icarus grabbed the deceased Estonian Thunder Frog’s Hammer Of Peace and killed Deucalion.  The Flood Army watched, and their handpicked field general Jimmi Jacobs simply shouted at their leader “You made your bed, now DIE in it!”  He wouldn’t allow the troops to storm the ring and save Deucalion.
There has been a lot of ‘Death’ in Chikara this season, and Deucalion has been the reason.  I think with the exception of the Estonian Thunder Frog destroying Tursas and whoever killed Private Eye, Jr. during the ‘Ashes Of Chikara’, Deucalion was responsible for the entire body count this season so in my opinion Icarus’ slaying of the Titan of Titor was harsh yet understandable.  However if Icarus is supposed to be the bastion of hope, the face of good, the heart of Chikara and he killed Deucalion, what does that say about the direction and ‘soul’ of the company?  Has he stained it?  Or is this just them moving into a new ‘Grey Area’?  Also what about the Flood?  Are they over as a faction?  Is Jimi Jacobs the new leader?  We also got an end of the PPV vignette where we were treated to the rebirth of the Estonian Thunder Frog!  This was equal parts cool, goofy, and sort of adorable.  I am really excited to see what comes next, and Season 15 kicks off in just over a month!

- I still really want Beer Cheese Soup.

- D&D 4th Group is Sunday!  Who’s afraid of some ghosts?

- After immersing ourselves in True Detective, Cassandra and I sat down and digested X-Men: Days Future Past (*** out of 5).  I think I’m not out of line in saying both of us enjoyed the first two X-Men movies, universally reviled the third one, and thought X-Men: First Class was VERY good.
So I had high hopes going into this one, especially considering it is loosely based on one of the most universally loved stories in the comic franchise’s history.  I’m not sure how describe my feelings on the flick.  I wasn’t over or underwhelmed, I think I was simply whelmed.  It was alright flick, tied a lot of things together, was a fun period movie, and gave them cause to mix the characters from both the original Trilogy and the First Class.  However, I wanted more ‘X-Men’, in my X-Men movie.  I also felt like the motivation and how it played out of both Mystique and Magneto was really suspect.  The acting overall was pretty decent, with the crazy version of Quicksilver being exceptionally fun.  I feel like the last two of these movies are fantastic at set-up and build, but fall apart in the climax, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why.  The final scene post credit with Apocalypse rising to power makes me wonder how they will tie that in with the way the actual movie ended.  We know they are getting ready to start the third installment I just can’t tell how interested I am, especially with the tide of comic movies that do have my attention on the horizon.  This one is a decent watch, but I just left wanting something a bit more.

- Cassandra got me some amazing swag for my birthday!

- I really do need to build a map to my Campaign world.

- The Hero Forge website finally went live.  I didn’t contribute to the Kickstarter, for whatever reason I can’t recall.  However I played around with the miniature builder last night for an hour and was blown away.  Granted I don’t want to spend $25.00 on a miniature unless I have NO other options, but the ability to customize the design down to facial expression is amazing.
I loved being able to mix and match armor, weapons, helmets, etc. and come out with something different every time.  It is a fantastic design tool, and I really wish I had the money to make real use of it and get minis of all the PC’s in my groups.  And let’s be honest make some cool as miniature for myself, but currently that is a bit rich for my blood.  That being said, if you dig miniatures you at least owe it to yourself to check out their site and fiddle around with the tool.

- Is it time to make people open their Christmas presents yet?

- Thank you to my brother, Sean, for the phone call on my birthday.  It really meant a lot.

You know, I think that is all you and I can both stand of one another today…

Monday, December 1, 2014

When Time Ran Out Vs. Damnation Alley

12/1/14

I am scratching my head at trying to formulate a complete and encapsulating narrative of late.  I can’t tell if it is the time of year, the wildly larger work load, or just my ever decreasing mental aptitude but I have sort of fallen off with Blogging and Podcasting.  I’m still trying to hit one Blog a week as a benchmark, but failed at that last week while in the throes of ‘Holiday Madness’.  As for Podcasting, I just haven’t had any guests of late and haven’t taken the time to just go down into the cave and record.  I know this Sat. Heel Turn Radio will return because we’ll be prepping for ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ the CHIKARA season finale.  It has been difficult to ‘get the band back together’ when it comes to Heel Turn due to everyone’s conflicting schedules.  The Zack Attack has been crazy busy and I’m not even sure he wants to continue Antagonist Relations, although Z. if you don’t want to I’d certainly like to in your stead.  And the Insecurity Blanket has just lacked time, guests, and effort post Halloween pellet interviews.  One way or another I’m going to get another episode up this week, even if I have to fly solo, and overall want to commit to a once a month babble fest.

See even that last paragraph rambled into itself.  What I’m basically saying is my attention span and focus is sort of shot right now, thus the lack of consistency in these two endeavors.  So even though I have no over-arching ideas today, here is your mostly weekly installment of…

RANDOM CRAP!

- We cut down Christmas Trees on Sunday and I had the treat of being around two of the best behaved and adorable dogs I have ever met.  Both were massive Great Danes, one 2 years of age and his counterpart a mere 10 months.  They rarely barked, I was only jumped on in a greeting once, and both were incredibly affectionate.  Even though it was brutally cold out as we trudged through the pot hole filled and snow covered expanse to pick out this year’s canvas where my lovely better half will paint her Christmas cheer, with lights and ornaments, I was warmed by having these two enormous and regal animals trotting alongside me.  Can I have a dog for Christmas?

- Congrats to Eager Edgar & Titanic Tiffany for their holiday news!

- Before anyone starts giving Cassandra grief, I know the answer is ‘No’, and it isn’t because she is not a dog fan, it is simply because our commute is too long, our schedule far too hectic, and our house isn’t really built for it.  All that being said, days like Sunday make me wish we did have at least one.

- I think I might have found my perfect stand-ins miniature wise for Modrons!

- Thanksgiving has come and went, and while I enjoy the holiday festivities I am MORE than eager to move on to the ‘Main Event’; Christmas!  I have wrapped about 85% of the presents that have arrived, and am just trying to figure out how to handle the rest, as my Christmas shopping has been done for a while now.  This has left me though with the burning desire to give gifts IMMEDIATELY!  It is a compulsion that I struggle with every year starting about November 1st and it lasts until December 27th or so.  Luckily starting this Wednesday I get to start handing out gifts to my Friends.  I’m going to give people the option of taking gifts home with them or opening them early so we can see it.  I am going to let them choose while I guilt them horribly about REALLY wanting to see them open what they are getting.  See that is the rub, I love giving gifts.  I truly enjoy knowing I got someone something they are going to use and that brings them some happiness.  Getting to see that look on their face is really what this time of year means to me.  So steel thyselves my Friends & Family for the Christmasing is now upon thee!

- I am sort of digging Trailer Park Boys.  I don’t know if I should even admit that in public.

- 1st Group D&D is up again this Friday.  After getting to the gates of Red Timber they finally will see just who brought them to this dying outpost.  It is a Sandbox style campaign so I'm very curious to see where the group decides to go.  The other big question will be just how will they deal with the potential political intrigue behind the walls of Red Timber.  They didn't really 'play ball' in Low Town so I'm very curious to see who they align with, who they target, and if they those with a more religious bent will attempt to establish a Temple in an outpost controlled almost exclusively by the Wood Cutter's Guild and the Temples (Banks) of Caelleus.  And let's be honest any time I get to have THE Karl, the lovely & multi-talented Cassandra, The Geneimal, Sassie Cassie, Electric Elyssa, AND Wheeler James at the table together it is going to be fun.  Now I just have to finish my prep work.

- I am currently listening to the Harmontown Podcast as often as I can.
It is an acquired taste, and one I devour with gusto.

- Speaking of Podcasts I was enraptured with the Art Of Wrestling’s almost two hour sit down with CM Punk who finally broke his silence on what caused him to walk away from not just the WWE, but from professional wrestling as a whole.  I can’t, nor will I attempt, to do the conversation any justice here.  Instead let me just point out that a lot of my internal fears about what life as a performer for that company is like were not just confirmed, but the situation is worse in some respects than I ever could have dreamed.  Granted Punk is bitter, oh he says repetitively that he doesn’t want to sound bitter or upset, but he is.  He is, and I think he has a reason to be.  I have come to think of Vince McMahon as your grandpa with Alzheimer’s.  One moment he is magnanimous, kind, parental, caring, and lucid the next he’s bitter, vindictive, aggressive, classless, forgetful, underhanded, and out of touch.  Vince has lost that golden touch he once had, and he knows it.  He sees the glory of his past, and so can you for $9.99 a month on the Network, and can’t figure out a way to grasp the now to make it just as a lauded triumph.  He is on his last legs creatively, and really needs to step away.  For the love of Pete, who I don’t actually know, they are a multi-million dollar corporation now, not a mom and pop operation that can afford the luxuries of employing ‘Yes’ men, and bootlickers.  So reading about how Vince was ‘hurt’ over the comments from Punk doesn’t surprise me.  He thought of Punk as ‘family’ and once he left and now has made public the reasoning I’m sure it stings.  However, Vince put Vince in this situation.  Well let’s be honest, Vince, Steph, Hunter, and the upper management, and apparently physicians, put the ‘E’ in this situation.  Punk has never steered away from speaking his mind or from taking on the system, and he felt wronged here, rightfully so in my opinion, so he came out swinging.  How you can let a guy perform when he is that sick, has MRSA, and is that burned out is disgusting.  How you think you are going to get away with publically bashing him on television and then cutting off his royalty checks is just dumb.  Oh and firing someone on their wedding day, because your feelings are hurt is beyond classless.  If you do this to most folks you might be able to scare them with a ‘you will NEVER work in this business again’ tactic, and the ‘E’ knows how to ‘Be A Star’ doesn’t it, but when you do this to someone who at the best of times was going to speak their mind and not expect a clusterf*#k of mammoth proportions is just dumbfoundingly idiotic.
I think the ‘E’ poked him enough to get his attention with the royalties’ issue, but Hunter slapped him in the face with the letter to fire him on his wedding day.  It should surprise no one that Punk then got a “vicious” lawyer and the two have come to a settlement, one Punk claims to have gone his way.  One of the sadder portions of the tale is that Hunter is unfortunately the guy a lot of us always thought he was an egoist with a ‘shovel’ who buries talent out of jealousy and a strange need to stay relevant.  Add this to the racial issues that Del Rio brought up when he was fired and you have an upper management that comes off as incompetent and possibly racist.  I’m not even going to touch upon the scathing stories he tells of the ‘E’s vaunted medical staff as if they are true even in the slightest then none of those individuals should be employed in any capacity, ever.  A few other things sort of struck me profoundly as well.  First up was Punk’s admission of being an asshole, difficult to work with, and the last 6 months to a year of working of the ‘E’ being the most miserable man alive.  This isn’t much of a shock as Punk is usually the first to point out his short comings, but I thought it highly telling how bad things had gotten for him as well as Cabana reminding him constantly in the interview.  For those that don’t know the wrestler who hosts the Art Of Wrestling Podcast is one Colt Cabana.  The Podcast is fantastic, he’s hilarious, and a thoroughly likable human being.  He also happens to be Punk’s long time best friend.  He pulls no punches during this interview as he reminds Punk that he was getting to ‘go through’ this with him via phone calls, texting, etc.  He seems to hold him somewhat accountable when he starts to get into full blown rant mode, which he states numerous times is not his intention.  In the fallout it seems telling that most of the people backstage who are leaking information or giving nameless quotes who dislike Punk are in the same boat as those that do like him as they all find his claims to be sadly true according to the ‘Dirt Sheets’.  The next thing that really stuck me was Punk’s parting ‘shot’ at Christ Jericho.  I am a long time Jericho fan, but have been keenly aware of in the last four years or so his penchant for vainglorious self-congratulatory behavior and self-hype.  It seems at some point Chris Jericho the person sort of become Chris Jericho the character.  The fact that a month or so ago Jericho went on and on about how Punk hasn’t spoken to him, how they were ‘tight’, and how he should just come on his Podcast and tell his story really seemed sort of odd.  Punk’s statement that he would never be talking to Jericho, who he called fake, about his being fired, was actually sort of sad as he seemed genuinely hurt that he felt he was being used by someone he thought was his Friend.
He said he had distanced himself from many in the business as he felt they were trying to use him for their own gain.  That is a damn sorry indictment upon the business in my opinion, but it shouldn’t surprise me.  Last, but no least was the ‘Dirt Sheets’ saying that by doing this interview on his Podcast Colt has basically been ‘blacklisted’ from the ‘E’.  They had been courting him, believe it or not Hunter being his main supporter, for an announcing job for some time.  If what is being said is true then it is just another example of how a publicly traded company that should be run like a business is still being run like a mom and pop family business complete with blood feuds and shunning.  For me on a personal level I thought it was good to hear, from the source, just why Punk left.  It makes me incredibly sad that a person that I do admire in some ways had his passion and joy for something that had defined him for a long time snatched away on his industries largest stage.  I am sadly not surprised by a lot of his pulling back of the curtain on what it is like to survive in the ‘E’ day to day, and that really bothers me.  I support this company with my money and I’m not sure I still should.  One of the reasons Punk resigned with the ‘E’ a few years back was a publicly stated desire to change the company from within.  He wanted to fix a system that he saw as broken.  He said he been inundated with comments like ‘You can’t change something from your couch!’ after his walk out and subsequent wedding day firing.  The reality is he could and he did.  In order for the ‘E’ to get the message they apparently had to be called out publicly, lose their 2nd largest draw, and be destroyed in the court of popular opinion over it.  In my opinion, by walking away Punk may have done more to change the industry than any GTS to ‘Jern Potato Salad’ ever could have.  No more will we have a Voice Of The Voiceless, and while that sucks, I'm happy to know that while the man lost one muse he is at least finally happy.  So good luck to Punk on all that comes next, I for one will still be cheering.

Good GAWDS is that a lot for me to jabber on about.  Maybe because I'm getting SUPER old....*sigh*...Hell I’ve even forgotten about everything else I was even thinking about talking about.  SO OLD!  Oh well, I suppose that is enough for today.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Zu Warriors Vs. Blind Chance

11/21/14

I have either been crazy busy or crazy tired the last week or so. It is no excuse to not get a blog up, but I figured with the three I posted last week I’d built a bit of blog equity. It isn’t even like there isn’t a lot going on, I’ve had two crazy 5E D&D sessions, I’ve got a handful of interesting things to talk about as far as what we’ve been watching, and Cassandra had her Birthday! So this one will be totally all over the place, in other words steel thyselves for some…

RANDOM CRAP!

- We really do need to go see Big Hero 6.

- Happy belated birthday to reoccurring Podcast guest Kolie, to the Iowa Wizard known at my house as Big Nate, and to my lovely and multi-talented wife, Cassandra.

This year I did things a bit differently and rather than give my wonderful better half a ‘thing’, I am giving her what I hope is a memory. Tomorrow night we are off to see ‘Hello Dolly’ with some of our best Friends. I hope to make it a magical evening for the woman who truly makes my every day something out of a fairy tale.

- Next week we get ALL THE TURKEY(s)!

- 12/6/14 is the CHIKARA Season Finale and I for one cannot wait! Thus far we are getting a full blown Cibernetico with Team CHIKARA Vs. Team Flood, the Campeones De Paraswill be defended as The Throwbacks defend against the overwhelming monsters that are the Devastation Corporation, the finals of CHIKARA’s sister promotion ‘Wrestling Is Fun’ Young Lions Cup has Heidi Lovelace against Missile(!) Assault(!) Ant(!), and we finally get Deucalion in the ring against the Grand Champion Icarus.
Deucalion has destroyed so many members of not only CHIKARA’s roster but of his own Flood invaders as well that it will beyond intriguing to see how the ‘Face’ of CHIKARA can stand up to what is possibly the most dangerous single Rudo in the history of the company. All that and I figure we’ll get Eddie Kingston Vs. Jimmy Jacobs, something with the Spectral Envoy, and as with EVERY CHIKARA season finale we’ll get plenty of closure coupled with some insane new cliffhangers! If you like crazy Superheroes &/or Lucha Libre then pay your $16.00 or so for the iPPV broadcast of CHIKARA’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and enjoy OR join us in the MUDD Pitt, bring a snack to share, get there early for some ‘Heel Turn Radio’, and prepare to have an AMAZING time!


- Listening to the Vikings apologists on KFAN defend their turnstile of a Left Tackle makes me sad that they are that delusional.

- Last Sunday I had the opportunity to Co-DM with Master DM Kedrin 4.0, as we kicked off the 5E reboot of 4th Group. It now longer is the Far East vibe that I had when I ran alone; instead Kedrin has crafted a truly interesting morality play taking place in Purgatory. I can’t reveal much more because the vast majority of players read this blog, what I will say is this will be a challenge for the players in a way that no game I’ve ever run has been. She isn’t attacking them in the conventional ways, and is instead hitting the PC’s with moral quandaries with tangible consequences which is truly inventive and quite brilliant. Starting with a ‘Haunted House’ adventure is also pretty unusual, and has been a blast. 
Take into account that they are there to ‘Take’ an object in a house full of Ghost Children and their ‘Mother’ that may or may not have been an orphanage that was sacked by soldiers of the individual who sent them there in the first place and you have something that comes off as fun, challenging, and evocative. For the most part I think the PC’s have adapted to the different style with a flourish. There are still some ‘growing pains’ as the Players try to figure out who their characters are and how they work. I felt like the Role Playing though was off the charts and the decision making was incredibly inventive. Magic Mike’s Barbarian was especially fantastic. The best part is this is only Kedrin’s first real go at running something she is creating virtually from scratch. She has been a sponge as far as picking things up, and has a real flair for taking ideas and crafting them into not just something workable mechanically, but something that the PC’s may not have seen before. I’m not sure how long I’ll be sitting behind the screen with her before I’m no longer needed as a Co-Pilot, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts, and look forward to creating my own memorable PC and trying to find salvation in Purgatory.

- I really need to spend some ‘quality time’ with WWE 2K15, maybe tomorrow morning.

- I am currently obsessed with Showtime’s first season of Penny Dreadful. I’m two episodes away from finishing, and I’m almost dreading getting to the end as I’m enjoying it that much.
It is as if someone decided to make a decidedly horror version of Alan Moore’s League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I mean the comics not that ‘movie’. It is definitely a slow burn of a show, as if you demand instant bloody gratification you won’t get it each episode, but what you do get is the mystery of each character slowly unraveling like a snake virtually invisible on a colorful tapestry that is prepping to bite you. When it gets bloody it gets downright gory, and it has a Game Of Thrones level of nudity and sex. I am watching it and feeling a deep seeded NEED to run some Ravenloft at some point. The acting has been the perfect complement to the story. Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper, Josh Hartnett, and David Warner have knocked it OUT of the park. However, what has really shocked me and brought me back are the actors in the other main roles who I am unfamiliar with. It has a cast that brings menace, melancholy, and gravitas to the show. Overall though it is FUN! It is a really interesting and fun horror romp, and I still have TWO episodes left in the first season. I can’t recommend this show enough.

- I am VERY close to having ALL my Christmas shopping done.

- Last Sunday Cassandra and I fell down the rabbit hole that is Dougflix and watched two films that both of us had a LOT of interest in, first was Maleficent (** out of 5). 
To say that this movie was a predictable march into disappointment would be to give it too much credit. I am all for the idea that no character is the villain in their own story, however what I don’t like is when it turns out that not only are they not a villain, but that even the violence they perpetrated that cast them in that role was technically defending themselves and what they care about. They took a perfectly wonderful villain in the title character and made her a boring Hero. Yeah you read that right, not only was she not even a villain, but she wasn’t even an anti-hero. The story had so many opportunities to do something interesting to show her justification for doing true Evil, to keep her sympathetic while showing all those horrible flaws that made her such a terrifying bad guy, but instead they went with the most predictable, saccharine sweet and ultimately boring options. In the end the story just came off as uninspired and a discredit to every version of Sleeping Beauty that I’ve ever seen. That is a shame because it was certainly a ‘pretty’ movie visually.
Next up we jumped into The World’s End (*** ½ out of 5). I was bred, born, and built to LOVE this movie, and yet I wasn’t as blown away as I had hoped. I think it might have something to do that watching Simon Pegg trying to be a truly deplorable douche bag is difficult. Watching Nick Frost be a responsible, respectable, voice of reason for ¾ of a film makes my brain go goofy. The premise is certainly fun, if not poignantly dark in some spots, and fits perfectly with Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost’s other two flicks in Hot Fuzz & Shaun Of The Dead. However, it does feel like this movie is the least ‘fun’ of the three. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t bad, it isn’t boring, it is wildly original, and laugh out loud funny in some spots, but it left me with that feeling that I wanted and expected just a little more.

- For those that know, “Ditto, ALL the Ditto…”

- 3rd Group kicked off last night and I’m not even sure how to describe it other than utterly insane. First off it was a hard night to get any words in edge wise as the creativity between the players was overflowing and at times close to overwhelming. As a DM it was like wrangling cats until we finally got to some combat, and then it seemed everyone settled into a groove. THE Karl is playing a Warlock with a tentacle fetish, Cassandra & Spence are Gnome brothers one being a Paladin and the other a fighter both devoted to Caellius the God Of Greed & Dragons, Magic Mike is a Dwarven Sorcerer who just radiates unpredictable chaos, Casual Doug is a child hating Cleric, Kedrin is a dumb as a box of rocks naked Dwarven Barbarian, and Elyssa is a Drow Rogue who likes to Intimidate EVERYTHING! Together they are a ‘Collections Agency’ for the Church Of Caellius, which are essentially Banks. And by ‘Collection Agency’ I mean they are tax collecting leg breakers who don’t skirt the law they bludgeon it into submission and then rob it.
They are on a job to acquire a ‘Package’ which turns out to be the mayor of a town called Rookroost and a ‘toady’ for the ‘Country less Conqueror’ General Pallack. They only worked through about half the adventure as the Random Wilderness Encounter chart I built really caused the 2nd day of travel to be a bloodbath. I was impressed with the way they worked together, worked efficiently, and overcame some pretty nasty odds with a plumb. I am giving my groups a pool of ‘Fate Dice’ that they can spend in a session that either give them nothing, a +1, or a -1 depending on how they roll to add a risk taker element. This went over REALLY well so I’ll be adding it to all my games. I’m also going to bring back Flanking in combat, allow PC’s to use Inspiration to make me roll Disadvantage, and if there is a critical fail against a Spell Effect that has no ATT number then that is going to be treated as if that was a Critical Hit. These house rules are going to go into effect for ALL my games immediately as I feel that they added a lot of fun to the game. As for a feel of what the ‘vibe’ of third group is I give you a look into just who Casual Doug worships. Chester, Casual Doug’s creepy Cleric, worships the Suu~ītomizarī (translated means Sweet Misery). It is the sexless Godling of Misery. In its life it was an unrepentant torturer, murderer, & worshipper of Tharump. Upon ‘Tharump’s Fall’ it basked in the blood of its God and Ascended to Godling status, and when he ‘Re-Ascended’ it was granted Sainthood in his Church. It wallows in the misery and destruction visited upon the most innocent. While its own entity it is also seen as one of the ‘Pain Saints Of Tharump’ in that much larger Church. Most of the time worshippers operate in pseudo-secrecy and seclusion, but occasionally they form Cults, and in the case of more powerful followers, like Doug’s Cleric, they operate out in the open. Thus far I am enjoying 5E with a fervor and glee that has been missing from a lot of my running for a while. All my Players have just jumped into the experience with both feet screaming ‘GERONIMO!’ and that has been amazing. Sunday 2nd Group debuts and I am really excited to see if I can keep that momentum going!

- Sometimes hugs are the most precious thing in the universe.

- I sat down the other day and constructed Christmas letters to my Family. It was really difficult. I feel like I may finally have come to a point where I am totally ok with being detached with them in a very real and permanent way, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about or miss them any less. I felt it is important to make sure that, in writing, they each knew what I think of them, how much I appreciate any and all the time they are able to give me, how proud I am to call them my Family, how much I do actually care, and, contrary to popular belief, I do miss them. I have been very privileged in the last year and a half or so to get my ‘poop in a group’ and surround myself with some truly fantastic people. Some of them were new to me and we’ve just hit it off, others I called Friend but only in this recent time span have I maybe actually really acted like one. The mantra of ‘No Expectations & No Pressure’ has led to the exodus of some folks as they’ve just drifted away without me constantly applying pressure, and it has made a lot of my other relationships more comfortable, easier, and much stronger. By treating everyone like a Friend rather than varying degrees of ‘friend’ my expectations have become far more realistic. It was a rough lesson to learn, but a worthwhile one. When it comes to Family my Father once told me ‘Family isn’t who you think you are stuck with, Family is bigger than that. It is who you choose to stick with’. I don’t think I have always understood that fully, nor have I bought into it as much as now. My Friends have given me a place, and a group that has supplanted my Family as ‘Home’. It doesn’t diminish my actual Family, it just means that I have fallen in with a group of people who don’t just ‘get’ me or tolerate me and aren’t just my Friend because no one else would have us, but who care, want to be around, and make me and my life better. In the end, the real proof is I am truly the happiest I have ever been, and I want my Family to know that, and I want them to know that I wish and want for them to have the same.

- I really want to give World Wide Wrestling & Monsterhearts a go soon.

- My other new television obsession is Lucha Underground on the El Ray Network. This strange little gem is a mash-up of Lucha Libre, telenovela storytelling, and good old fashioned wrestling. There is a wonderful style to this show that reminds me of an 80’s Action Movies that have crossbred with the feel of ECW. I knew this was going to be something different when I saw it was produced by Mark Burnett & Robert Rodriguez, and they haven’t disappointed. The show is always taking place in a rundown warehouse known as The Temple, there is an evil promoter/Mr. McMahon analogue, and there are these gloriously cheesy vignettes that are so amazing that I could watch a show just made up of them.
I know that sounds like me being critical, but it isn’t! They are just some of the reasons I LOVE this show. The in-ring work is solid to outstanding at times. The roster is populated by Lucha standbys like Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Blue Demon as well as a fantastic influx of new stars like Fenix, Pentagon Jr., Draco, and my favorite Mil Muertes! Couple this with some familiar faces like John Morrison, ‘Big Zeke’, and Ricochet under new identities; Johnny Mundo, ‘Big Ryck’, and Prince Puma, and you have something really interesting on your hands. The commentary is decent with former WWE employee Matt Stryker teaming with former AAA & WCW stalwart Vampiro calling the action. From what I’ve read we’ll see even more interesting faces showing up like Brian Cage & B-Boy from PWG and potentially Alberto Del Rio fresh off getting his ‘hush money’ from WWE after his really messy firing. Storytelling wise I can honestly say the greatest compliment I can pay them is they have made Chavo relevant to me as more than his dead Uncle Eddie’s imitator. Instead he is a vindictive man who isn’t just trying to step out of the shadow of all of the famous members of his wrestling royalty family, but one who is going to do ANYTHING to establish himself as THE leader of the Guerrero legacy. Much like CHIKARA this isn’t your normal wrestling, they pay homage and respect to British ‘World Of Sport’ style, American Indy, and ‘Puro’ or Strong Style wrestling. They aren’t trying to copy the WWE in any way, and instead are hell bent on giving us something SO different and new that is becoming its own ‘thing’. If CHIKARA is the four-color Super Hero, time travelling, family friendly, insane Lucha Party then Lucha Underground is its more adult, 80’s Action Movie, dirty, back alley street fightin’ man big brother. If you are even remotely intrigued give it a try, sit back, enjoy, and remember its only wrestling.

- A Beer Cheese Soup or a Cheese Potato Soup would seriously be the greatest thing ever this weekend.

You know, I think that’s all I got…