Friday, November 21, 2014

Zu Warriors Vs. Blind Chance


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…


- 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~Ä«tomizarÄ« (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…

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