Monday, October 1, 2012

Elizabeth Vs. Rio Bravo

* = Not so fast Chicken people.  This last Saturday it was most assuredly 'Winner WINNER Bacon Cheeseburger Dinner!'

Go ahead and bask in it. No, go on, it’s ok I’ll let you. Mmm, breath it in! That’s right you are reading the blog of the Drive Way Grilled Pizza War CHAMPION! That’s right I was finally, despite some stiff competition, some cheese hatin’, and babysitting a two year old and a dog get it right and WIN in my own backyard. My BBQ bacon cheeseburger pizza came out tremendously held off all the attempted interlopers and in the end I stood alone atop the contenders. So congrats to me, and to everyone else SUCK IT TREBECK!

Ok, well now that we have that ‘Humble Brag’ out of the way, and let’s be honest it wasn’t that humble, onto more serious business. Ok, before I get into the next two paragraphs or so there are some serious SPOILERS for a few films here. I usually try and keep them to a minimum, but today I’m feeling sort of ‘chatty’ so bear with me, and if you don’t want to have them ‘ruined’ for you just check the score I give and skip the rest. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! I FINALLY sat down and watched Cabin In The Woods (***** out of 5).
Dave had hyped this flick up quite a bit and I was almost predispositioned to being incredibly ‘meh’ about it. I have to admit though David you were right. YOU WERE RIGHT! I loved it. I seriously loved the flick. It basically squeezed almost all of the great things about the last 45 years of horrors movies into a Nerdgasm of fun, while giving me a VERY satisfying Lovecraftian ending. I think the movie works on a lot of levels. It’s funny, the dialog is snappy and entertaining, especially in almost all of the control room scenes. The characters were likable while being slightly flawed, but not venturing into caricatures. The premise was dark, but because of the way it played out, was fun. As for the ending, I’m sorry, but to me it is a perfect representation of who ‘we’ are now. We’re just egocentric enough to tell the world to go F’ it’s self for our own gratification and then bitch about not getting to see it. That I thought was dead on perfect. My only complaint was rather than a massive hand I wanted a massive tentacle. Hell, they basically TOLD us it was the Great Old Ones, and I like the main characters wanted oh so desperately to get one mind shattering glimpse as they consumed the world. So if you want something funny, gory, inventive, but most of all entertaining go out and watch Cabin In The Woods!

While I was at it I also took the time to set down and watch Prometheus (*** ½ out of 5).
Most of my friends, and even my Alien wonk sister, had mixed feelings on this flick. I now know why. There is SO much to love and digest about this movie. It’s stance on the creation of man, our search for meaning, what it means to be human, our struggle to deal with our mortality, our self-inflated importance in the cosmic scheme of things, etc. are all there for you if you choose to plunge into them. This is NOT a ‘haunted house in space’ movie, and while it is the progenitor to the Alien franchise it is also something far more ambitious. And in the ambition it finds its flaws. With the exception of the two main characters, the android David played by the truly outstanding Michael Fassbender, and Doctor Elizabeth Shaw masterfully played by Noomi Rapace, most of the characters were loose shells. Even when we were given moments of true character epiphany, like two excellent moments with Idris Elba as Captain Janek, they don’t fully make sense and they really don’t lead anywhere. To me this felt like a movie that was an hour to short for what they wanted to tell. Everyone outside those two main characters seem more like set pieces or simply pieces to move the narrative forward rather than individuals I should care about. This to me hurt the movie. However it didn’t wound it NEAR as much as the annoying geologist and the beyond mind numbingly stupid biologist who are there simply to be brutally killed in slightly inventive ways which never really lead too much else. It’s frustrating because there are so many interesting and intriguing moments in this film that just go nowhere. The biggest which are the Architects themselves, they create humanity only to destroy it? Really? That’s what you are going to go with Ridley? Epic fail. I wanted to know more; I was just as frustrated and pissed as the character of Dr. Shaw by the end, also with that ending does that assure us of a sequel, and not one having much of anything to do with the ‘Alien’ beastie but more to do with Shaw’s trying to find the Architects? I’m all for existential endings that leave you questioning everything at the end, I however don’t like movies about getting answers that don’t give you shit except more questions. It’s a beautiful movie, it has a great atmosphere, the acting is rock solid to exceptional in some cases and it seems to strive more for being like 2001: A Space Odyssey (Infinite *’s out of 5!) rather than Alien (Infinite *'s out of 5!). However it is deeply flawed and that saddens me, because it wanted and could have been SO much more.

Ok, Spoilers OFF.

It was another week so we were blessed with another Shattered Star miniatures preview!
First up is the Skeletal Champion. Is it strange to say that I love and hate this miniature at the same time? It is a perfect representation of the art brought to ‘life’, which I really love. I also thoroughly enjoy the drab colors which to me look worn and ragged. The pose doesn’t scream ‘ACTION’, but it does have a sense of menace to it which I prefer in a mini like this. So now that I’ve praised it let me get to the ‘Hatin’. That head is terrible. Seriously. Maybe it’s the angle of the photo, I sincerely hope so, but it’s got a squishy skull head that completely detracts from the rest of the mini. This is maddening because I think the overall appearance, especially that kick ass hat, really make me want this mini, but the head and the possible high cost of the mini, even on the secondary market, make this one most likely a PASS for me.
It was a theme week at Paizo as the other mini they gave us a gander at was the Mummy Cleric/Lich. Can you go wrong with Mummies or Liches? I’m certain you could, but not here my friend, NOT HERE! The green and gold ‘pop’ colors are inspiring me to use them next chance I get. They come off regal and yet old and sort of creepy. I wish there was a bit more bandages, as I don’t care much for that drab grey skin being so exposed, however it works. It would have worked better with some strands hanging off of legs or arms though. I like the pose, I’m not sure why, but I really like it. For me the best part is that creepy visage. The gaping open mouth, the large hollow eyes, and the toothless maw work perfectly. If this mini is reasonably priced it will be mine, so as you can tell by my gushing this one is a MUST BUY! Kudos to you Paizo and Wizkids for keeping me hooked.

I might be starting another 4E D&D group with someone who has requested it for her and her boyfriend. If they can scrape together the peeps then I think I’d be down for another once a month group. That being said here are some ideas I’m contemplating, I’d love some feedback. So anyone who reads this drivel and is inclined either e-mail me or simply comment below. Without further ado it’s…


- The campaign would revolve around the Isles Of Carslyle, as serious of islands and archipelagos. This would be in the southern part of my Known World campaign world. I’d want sort of a ‘High Adventure’ theme to permeate it, but use things like the ‘Great Rift’ to keep it separate from the vast majority of my Campaign world.

- The Great Rift is what separates the Isles Of Carslyle from the rest of the continent and even from the Jade Isles. The Rift is over a mile wide and 130 miles long. A perpetual waterfall of ocean. If one was to find a way into the base of the rift there lays an ancient ship from beyond the stars to be explored.

- I want to do a riff on Battle Royale or Hunger Games with the PC’s being ‘chosen’ by their villages to to represent their rulers as a way to re-capture the attention of the Gawds, who have sort of abandoned the region. They would then be taken by boat to a remote island that is a riff on Kong’s Monster Island. Big nasty insects, Lizard folk everywhere, cannibals, talking gorillas, but most importantly DINOSAURS! The idea would be that the ‘Lords Of The Isle’ send their ‘best’ warriors to the Forsaken Island to fight for them, gaining political clout, possibly as a holy sacrifice, control of trading routes, etc. The reality is these ‘Lords’ send young warriors there in an attempt to keep the relative peace. The PC’s would be from the same set of controlled islands under one of the ‘Lords’ and would have NO choice in taking part in the ‘Games’. This would most likely be the first 4 to 8 sessions, as the PC’s would find out that the Gawds have not abandoned this part of the world, they are simply being ‘kept’ at bay by the machinations of a VERY powerful Lich.

- This would bring us to His Most Benevolent Steward Of Humanity Karlot Benidit III, Lich King of the Isles Of Carslyle. Karlot is a Lich, and first of the ‘Lords Of The Isle’ known to friend and foe alike as the 'Undying Lord', of no little renown who controls a set of islands south of the main continent but off the ‘Maw’, a gaping hole into the abyss in the middle of a perpetually stationary hurricane in ocean. A former devotee to Pelor, Karlot stole secrets from worshippers of Vecna and cheated the Raven Queen of his soul. Since he has ‘protected’ mankind in his area from all menaces both real and imagined. It’s been over 2,000 years of unlife for Karlot and he is playing a long game. One geared at him regaining not just his life, but becoming a Gawd.

- The Isle Of Carslyle is named after Alin Carslyle. He is also known as the ‘Shrouded Lord’. A vampire would-be conqueror that Karlot dispatched to gain the trust of most of those who now seek shelter from his benevolent powers. In reality Carslyle was an old comrade of Karlot, an explorer who had founded the first settlement in the Isles named after him. Karlot transformed him into the ‘enemy’ he needed to gain political clout and the will of the people. In order to make it ‘believableKarlot also turned all of Carslyle’s people into the undead as well making his home of Clifftop a virtual necropolis. Carslyle’s wife, the former Elven barbarian Nyla, has a drug trade across the Isles where she traffics in the blood of her and her husband. This is a powerful and addictive substance that allows the user enhanced abilities, but with a high rate of intense addiction and slavish devotion to those from whom the blood came from. The entire island of Clifftop is currently full of the undead all at Carslyle, and to a lesser extent Nyla’s, beck and call. There a morose and betrayed Carslyle sits pinning for a group of worthy adventurers to put him out of his misery, while not realizing his wife’s ambitions have made him quite possibly the most powerful being in the region.

- Karlot’s main political adversaries are headed by ‘The Handsome King’ Gregor VI, another of the ‘Lords’. Gregor is the progeny of his mother, a witch, and a Fomorian King from the Feywild. This has given him his misshapen appearance and disfigured face. While Gregor is horrible to behold physically he is a masterful politician, a kind ruler, and man determined to bring an Industrial Revolution to his area of the world, many call the 17 islands under his sway ‘The Golden Dominion’. Many an outcast Dwarf, Halfling, & Gnome has found work in the Industrial & Elemental Furnaces of Gregor. ‘The Handsome King’ is a firm believer in new and ancient technologies being a gateway to a ‘New Tomorrow’ of peace and prosperity. He is also a talented Elementalist and has used his fascination and expertise in this area of magic to create a society powered by bound Elemental might. While he and Karlot are not openly at war there is intense hostility and a personal dislike between both the self-appointed Lich savior and the disfigured scion of a dying line of royalty.

- Another of Karlot’s enemies would be Pope Gallas the X and his Church Of Consumption. This is another Isle, made up of 9 islands, overrun with undead, this time Ghouls, hence Gallas moniker ‘The Famished Lord’. This society is built on slave trade, mainly for food. They are religious zealots and worship Dorsain The King Of Ghouls, seeing all other Undead as enemies or at best pawns to be used as fodder in their Holy War against the living. In reality Pope Gallus doesn’t have the ability to self-sustain his little ‘empire’ of three islands so his ‘people’ have become Pirates. The Ghouls of the Coast Of Shining Teeth are the scourge of the Isles as those who are raided by them know that at best they can look forward to an unlife of servitude and gnawing hunger and at worst a short life as food.

- The only true adversaries to Gallas’ naval might are the rag tag forces of Captain Cracktusk, called ‘The Defiler Lord’ by his ‘Betters’, and his flotilla of raided vessels. This Tanarukk Orc, orcs of ‘Infernal’ bloodlines, and his followers use many of the ‘uninhabitable islands’ in the Isles as way stations, including The Forsaken Island. I’m going for the vibe the Warhammer Orks have with the cockney accent, a lot of kill first, loot second. Cracktusk is MUCH smarter than he lets on and has plans for all the ‘Hummies’ in the area should he be able to consolidate his power.

- Count Peter Lee oversees the smallest dominion of 2 islands, he is known as the ‘Pious Lord’. He and his contingent of holy warriors, as well as a cadre of Githzeria Monks, call Cushing Abbey their home. From there they export the best trained swordsmen, arms, and armor in the region. They even surpass the industrial might of Gregor’s Elemental Forges. These warriors and monks practice strange rites and rituals known only to them.

- Last of the ‘Lords’ would be Her Divine Grace, Ysviden Stross, a Githyanki female who has known as the ‘Kept Lord’. She is mockingly called this due to the vast majority of her power being trapped on in the Astral Sea, mainly through the unseen machinations of Karlot. Ysviden is utterly ruthless, but a powerful orator capable states person, and incredible leader this has made it easy to be able to sway others to her causes. However it also rumored that due to certain magic items, that she always has on her person, she can gain the trust and loyalty of almost any who she crosses. Stross has an on and off romantic tryst with Count Lee that is widely whispered about as both have spouses.

- Some other things I sort of want to try to work in if I think it will work would be;

o The ‘Kiss of Shasurathu’. This would be a plague of madness and Far Realm taint that would require all the various ‘Lords’ to put aside petty squabbles to deal with.

o Cults to both Demogorgon and Cthulhu running through the Isles. I have the image in my head of the PC’s landing on a tropical island to find the village deserted and to look back to see their ship being sunk by Ettin’s on a high cliff throwing boulders. Out of the ‘abadoned buildings’ pours insane cultists to Demogorgon. The PC’s would find out that this particular Island is at war with itself as the two ‘heads’ of the Church Of Demogorgon have had a religious schism. In reality it’s just the Demon Prince’s way of culling the weak from his herd. As for Cthulhu, I’d love to do an adventure where they find a freshly ‘risen’ city in off the Isles full of strange geometry, treasure, and perhaps a Shoggoth or twelve.

That’s sort of the loose idea I had on Friday through the weekend. Like I said feedback is more than welcome, in fact it’s encouraged.

Well that was a lot more than I thought, so let’s wrap this up with some…


- F’ you Chiefs. F’ you right in your collective A’s. Way to roll over and die. GAH! On a nice side note the Vikings are 3 & 1 so at least Cassandra, Cordell, and Dave are happy.

- HEY! Yeah I’m talking to you; the few, the proud, those that buy miniatures and play amazing games. I’m once again going to say go give your damn money to DCM’s Tidal Wave Kickstarter. Not only is it full of Piratey goodness, and there is the potential for kickass pygmies, but they want to give us the Baba Yaga’s Hut & the friggin’ Kracken! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!? Why are you still here? Go there and give those insane people your money. In all honesty I really like their products, I think they are a small company filling a niche that needs attention, and they seem like a great group of people from my limited contact with them online. Their Kickstarter is sort of struggling right now and it could use a boost. Now I know the amount of people who actually read my crap is at best can be counted on fingers and toes, but you can also spread the word. I’d love to see these guys get even a quarter of the attention and pledges that the Reaper Bones Kickstarter did. So go forth, spread my word as law, and help these fine peeps out.

- I really want some banana bread with Reece’s peanut butter cups in it.
- Perhaps this week I can get the Duergar stuff I had hoped to get done completed. It’s going to take some work and a lot of help from Cassandra, but I think we can make it happen. If so it would really help beef up the awesomeness of this weekend’s D&D.
- Speaking of which I have GOT to get off my ass and get all that done as well. Including putting together some new stuff, since I picked up one of each of the new Terraclips sets, for our intrepid PC’s to deal with. Since they’ve been pretty patient with the last few Role Playing heavy sessions expect a blood bath.
- Did I mention I’m the Drive Way Grilled Pizza War Champion? WELL I AM!

And on that note I think it’s time to call it.

“You made a fool of me, but them broken dreams have got to end.

Hey woman, you got the blues, cos you aint got no one else to use.
There's an open road that leads nowhere, so just make some miles
Between here and there.
There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in,
You took my body and played to win,
Ha ha woman it's a crying shame,
But you aint got nobody else to blame.

E-evil woman, e-evil woman, e-evil woman, evil woman

Rolled in from another town,
Hit some gold too hot to settle down,
But a fool and his money soon go separate ways,
And you found a fool lyin in a daze,
Ha ha woman what you gonna do,
You destroyed all the virtues that the lord gave you,
It's so good that you're feeling pain,
But you better get your face on board the very next train.

E-evil woman, e-evil woman, e-evil woman, evil woman

Evil woman how you done me wrong,
But now you're tryin to wail a different song,
Ha ha funny how you broke me up, you made the wine now you
Drink the cup,
I came runnin every time you cried,
Thought I saw love smilin in your eyes,
Ha ha very nice to know, that you aint got no place left to go.”

* = AND THAT is how you win Food Contests.  This message is brought to you by the Drive Way Pizza War Champion!  My name is Ben, and I approve this F'Ning message...

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