Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Martyrs Vs. Ink

* = When you think about it Willy Wonky is a psychotic, power hungry asshole who lives to torture children.  I wonder if he ever thought about running for public office...

Every day above ground is a good day. I’m not sure where I even heard that, and most of the time I just sort of shrug my shoulders when I hear it. It’s not that it isn’t true, it’s just that its clichéd and for the most part my brain is running so hard and fast all the time that I don’t always fully digest these things. The last five days or so I think I get it. When you can feel the warmth of the sun on your face, the wind at your back, the faintest smell of spring in the air, and that strange promise of tomorrow before you it is indeed good to be among the living.

Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t bitch and complain, there are things that irritate me. You see lately our luck has been a tad sour. There was last year’s Holiday Poo Tornado, Dave’s divorce, the street up grade being imposed on us, work being work, my sister and I having a falling out, Dave’s break-up, Furnace Gate ’13, etc. Yesterday encapsulated a lot of those into a shitty little bow; one of the buyers of the Ebay auction wanted a partial refund, our dinner order was as wrong as wrong can get, a Friend had to deal with a suicide threat, 1800 Flowers had ‘forgot’ to reimburse as I was promised so I had to call and be a dick again, and I had a fantastic seizure.

All of that took a steaming deuce on the fun that was ‘Make Podcast’ with David. It makes me wonder just what I’ve done to earn karmic rage. I look around and see awful folks continue to have opportunities and good things handed to them while I scrape by. I try to do the right thing, I really do. I try to treat folks the way I want to be treated. I even try to curb my inherent negativity in an attempt to make the world a better place, AND YET it never seems to matter. I don’t matter.

I really don’t. In the overall scheme of things I am just another ‘brick in the wall’. I want to have an inflated sense of self-importance and say how I do, but in the tipping of the cosmic scale I am inconsequential. Now I’m not saying that on a smaller stage that I can’t make a difference. If I was suddenly gone I know that some folks would miss me; My Grandma, Cassandra, Dave, Mick, Joe, the upwards of 30 people who listen to the Podcast, etc. That being said I think that my absence would be filled by something else.

By association then it feels like all the things I try to do that are good just don’t amount to much. I said this a while back in a blog as a message to Dave’s ‘Pagan Stalker Gal’; ‘…the world doesn’t care about you…’ The fact is that is true, but the world also doesn’t care about me. I want it to, there is a part of me that wants the world to know I matter, that I care, that I want to leave it better than I found it. The part of me that thinks I’m owed, or that I ‘deserve’, or that I’m entitled. The fact is I’m not. No one and nothing really owes me or any of us anything.

However I do owe it to me and mine to not give up. To not let the real and imagined slights of the world embitter me to those spring breezes, soft kisses from my lovely wife, guffawing laughs of my best Friends, to paint under my fingernails, the taste of a burger hot off the grill, etc. The beauty of living above ground is the little things. And sometimes THAT is enough for me. I think it has to be.

Enough of that believe it or not I actually have been reading more consistently again. In fact in the last 4 days I’ve finished two books. First up was the fantastic Tim Pratt’s new Pathfinder Tales novel ‘Liar’s Blade’ (**** ½ out of 5).
The book revolves around the unlikely duo of the unscrupulous thief Rodrick and his sarcastic and deadly sentient sword Hyrm. Rodrick is a smart and mostly amoral con man squeezing out a life in the dangerous River Kingdoms by masquerading as a mercenary all the while relying on the power of his ally Hyrm. From there they are propositioned for a job by a very mysterious and unhinged magic user. She claims that she represents a holy man who will pay them their weight in gold for their assistance on a ‘holy pilgrimage’. It wouldn’t be a good fantasy novel if everything was as it seems, so of course there are all sorts of twists, lies, and changes in agenda. For the life of me this morning I can’t remember the female ‘wizard’s name, but to me she was one of the most interesting characters. Her shifting and unclear morality, her off putting appearance, her horrible secret, and in the end her decision make her one of the most well thought out and consistent characters I’ve read in a while. I found her remarkably similar to Zack’s last D&D character Sid. The priest Obed is perfectly unlikable; pious, condescending, and knee deep in conspiracies of his own making. Along the road Rodrick and Hyrm have to balance their love of gold with their companions’ bizarre motivations, blood lust, and unknown end game. Throw in a half-elf ranger who is not what he seems, some VERY inventive ways to end fights, a con of wonderful proportions, and a double cross you see coming but that still has some bite and you get another success from Tim Pratt. Mr. Pratt said that this is his love letter to Fritz Leiber and it shows. Rodrick and Hyrm are all the fun of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser while being something completely their own. So if you enjoy a good, fun, nasty fantasy romp then take the time to give ‘Liar’s Blade’ a read you won’t be disappointed.

This morning I finished Tanya Huff’s ‘Scholars Of Decay' (**** out of 5).
I played in a Ravenloft campaign for like five years. It is a VERY unpleasant setting full of dread, disappointment, and misery. The novels based on the campaign setting have been reasonably hit or miss, this one was no different. There are parts that I WILL be stealing for either of my group’s inevitable trip into the Domain Of Dread known as Richemulot, and yet there was a portion that left me cold. The premise is simple a scholar/wizard named Aurek Nuiken and his estranged younger brother Dimitri flee their homeland of Borca into Richemulot which is ‘ruled’ by the Renier family, and mainly the matriarch Jacqueline. Aurek’s is looking to somehow free his wife’s trapped soul from a statue and Dimitri has been forced to go with him to avoid the deadly attentions of Borca’s ruler, Ivana Dilisnya also known as ‘The Black Widow’. The Reniers are not what they seem, much like most of Ravenloft, they are monsters barely hiding their horrid existence beneath a veneer of humanity, in this case a large family of Wererats. Richemulot is a run down and decrepit dark fantasy amalgamation of Venice and France. It is the perfect breeding ground for disease, intrigue, and a ravenous horde of hyper intelligent rats and their masters. Aurek is an obsessed man who has sacrificed what little relationship he has with his sibling in quest to save his wife. On the flip side Jacqeuline is the Domain Lord (main bad guy) of Richemulot who is constantly playing a game of control over her entire family, or pack if you prefer, but more importantly with her power hungry twin sister Louise. At the heart of the book there is the sense of family and how far would you go to keep it ‘safe’. From there plot upon plot, and relationship upon relationship form in a horrible scaffolding of a coup attempt. The plot itself is simple and yet elegant in the way that Louise puts those merciless wheels to spinning. This is Ravenloft and there are NO happy endings, and in the end that may have been what I didn’t like most about the book. There were so many interesting characters, who were ALL deftly handled, so many tangential plots, which all came to fruition or at least conclusion, and Aurek and Dimitri were excellent conflicted protagonists that I wanted something more than I received at the end. Don’t get me wrong the ending isn’t bad, FAR from it. It just wasn’t what I wanted. And that is the beauty of Tanya Huff’s work here, she sucked me in. She made me care about even the feelings of a monster like Jacqueline enough to be disappointed when things turned out the way they did. This is what a Ravenloft tale should be; disturbing, dark, ironic, and bitter sweet. If you’re looking for that then you could do FAR worse than devouring this little gem.

It was another week and thus we were given another ‘We Be Goblins’ preview!
First up is a Goblin in a wedding dress. I know! I’m not sure what I think of this as an idea, but DAMN if I don’t love it in execution. The ugly toothy grin, that ramshackle bow and that strange wig on the head are all just fantastic. There is a definite vibe of the movie ‘Gremlins’ going on in this set and I adore that. This is going to be a ‘set’ where I won’t need vast numbers of miniatures but I’m going to have to have all these strange NPCs. If you can’t tell by my gushing this is a MUST HAVE for me.
Second up is the mighty Mogmurch! That literal ‘skull cap’ is outstanding! The sculpt and the paint look perfect, it gives the actual smile on Mogmurch’s face a lot more character and menace. Also, in case you missed it, he’s a Goblin holding a bomb. This is the fantasy equivalent of a Road Runner cartoon. IF that cartoon involved small green humanoids who like to eat other humanoids. That’s really what these two miniatures do an incredible job of; they make these Goblins humorous but don’t take the edge off their frightening nature. They are little mockeries of humanity and we are their food. It is amazing example of what fantastic concept, art, world building, and then miniature making can accomplish. This is another MUST HAVE.

Speaking of ‘Must Have’s’, Dungeon Crawler Miniature (SHILL!) has put up another teaser for its upcoming Kickstarter in March.
It’s a Firbolg Giant Skeleton! So not only has Paizo given us some great Hill Giant miniatures in the Shattered Star set to go with the earlier DDM minis, but now we are FINALLY getting a proper Giant Skeleton! This also looks like it would fit perfectly as a Frost Giant Skeleton as well, possibly even better. I think the concept looks simple and straightforward, but elaborate in the detail work. It would perfectly as a ‘Siege Weapon’ in a Necromancer’s army as well. I’m intrigued to see how this one looks from paper to sculpt. I say that because the Kraken, which is the kick off sculpt of the Kickstarter is just outstanding. SO outstanding that I think you need to see it again with its scale put in perspective. That thing is ENORMOUS!
Those are previous DCM miniatures and they are 25-28mm or Heroic Scale, look at how TINY they are. The Kraken’s maw could easily swallow an adult sized character whole. Hell, it’s even cooler that you can’t even see just how gigantic this beast is. If you go to the linked thread and read through I think you can get a very good feel on how DCM translates their concept art to sculpt and if the Kraken is to be the benchmark than I again am beyond eager to see the detail in the Firbolg Giant take shape. On a side note regarding the Kickstarter I think their new model is outstanding. If the Kickstarter hits certain levels we get the ‘Natural’, i.e. unpainted version, of the mini. If we hit the next milestone we get the Pre-painted version! I’m already setting aside some cash to contribute my previous pledge amount. Between what Paizo & Wizkids are doing with Pathfinder, Wizkids plans to revive Mage Knight, the latest Dungeon Command pack, DCM’s Kickstarter, and March finally giving me my Bones it is an incredible time to love miniatures!

After that love fest let’s finish this bad boy off with some…


- It is a damn shame that Cartoon Network would rather feed us copious amounts of crap than continue shows like Young Justice or Green Lantern. Young Justice is just flat out incredible, possibly one of the best animated shows ever.
- You know what I want? Beer Cheese Soup, that’s what.
- I thought about doing some WWE ’13 ‘Fake Sport’s News’, but I just don’t have the focus or energy. Let me just say that with David & Mike on ECW and Diamond Dave Wheeler (Aka Rictor) and myself on the Indy Show I have a crap ton of cool stuff happening. Since I get this game to stop freezing I have become re-addicted to it.
- There is a ton of D&D prep I need to get done this week.
- All my Heroclix are up for sale. I’d prefer to sell them off to people that I know and folks that will actually enjoy them, but at this point I am eager to just have them gone. Just so you know my Zombie Hulk & Galactus are already spoken for. SO if you are interested drop me a line.

Crap, I thought I had something more to say…

“Is that how you are normally?
A total dick that doesn't have the sense to see?
You're trying so hard to sound smart but no one really cares
Do you act this way in public? How do you deal with the stares?

That's how you have the balls to say
Everything you do
In the real world we wouldn't get away with it
So shut the fuck up we're all tired of your shit

You hide behind your screen and say whatever comes to mind
How can you be so dumb, you're like the blind leading the blind
I know they're just words,but some things shouldn't go so far
Is this how you want people to think that you really are?”

* = Mark Briscoe and his awesome beard want to touch your boobies...

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