Sunday, July 31, 2016

Magic Item of the Week: Manbreaker

  A few centuries back the evil mage Lohr ruled a vast region beyond the borders of civilization. He forged alliances with a cunning combination of diplomacy, terror, magic, and bribery. One of his coups was winning the aid of a powerful tribe of hill giants. Lohr gave a gift to their chieftain, the mighty war club Manbreaker.The chieftain led his tribe to many victories over his foes, and Lohr's, with this club. It has since become an item of great value to hill giants and it is still used by a chieftain to this day.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Stranger Things - Episode 1 review

  Yes, yes - everyone else is talking about it. But never let it be said I never indulge in me-tooism.
  Last night I watched the first episode with my four oldest sons. Now, for slug reviews followed by a real review.

General Notes:
Acting: Surprisingly good. The kids were above average for child actors, Winona Ryder reminds us that she is an old pro and turns in a decent performance. David Harbour as Hopper was surprisingly good in the role, and I was expecting that role to be good, anyway. Other nice standouts were Matthew Modine (not a shock, but impressive given his short time in the pilot) and Charlie Heaton.
Cinematography: Impressive. Tim Ives has only been nominated for one cinematography award - he will get more nominations. The camera work was crisp, smooth, and not intrusive. His use of angles, lighting, and movement were great - he has obviously studied Allan Daviau and is a fan of Kurosawa. Want to see how you can use the camera to indicate awareness vs. distraction? Re-watch the scene when a certain young character first enters a diner until they are noticed. Great, subtle, effective use of the camera.
Editing: Like cinematography, the editing is well done. It took us about 15 minutes to catch the subtle color bleaching used in outdoor scenes to make things look... off. The editor keeps the scenes moving and does that hardest of things - the quick cut that doesn't break the flow.
Directing: From the cold open to the last shot the directing was very good. It is hard to keep plot, pace, and interest all moving along in a pilot when there is so much information to share. Speaking of which, the cold open was great and a good example of how to set them up. It reminded me of the better cold opens from the Venture Brothers (yes, that is a compliment).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Play Report: Fortress of the Death Knight Lord, End

  You can find part I here.

  The background and characters are the same.

Late Play:  The party immediately crossed the mile-long bridge, grabbed the prisoners (using a magical mirror to see if they were illusions, etc.), and headed west to their camp. At camp they grabbed the other prisoners (who had fled hours earlier), their steeds and supplies, and sung north and east to bypass the fortress, then grabbed a few hours of sleep to avoid forced march penalties. Awakening at Noon, they set out for the rendezvous with the Green Parrot, all while debating taking the sea rather than land.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Lord of All Death Knights, Airik, Count of Westergoth, Part II

  This is the tale bards tell around the fire of the first, and mightiest, of all Death Knights.

Play Report: The Fortress of the Death Knight Lord, part I

AD&D 2e with Skills and Powers plus house rules. We use spell points from Spells and Magic, specialized weapon styles of my own creation. No crusaders or 2e S&P monks, but plenty of magic types. I also use my inverted skills chart, found here.

The Adventurers:
Marigold- 6th level Human cleric. Played by the Wife.
        Kugel the Stern- 3rd/3rd fighter cleric Dwarf, henchman to Marigold
Tellon- 6th level Human fighter. Specialized in the falchion. Son #4
        Claron- 3rd level Human fighter, specialized in the spear. Henchman to Tellon.
Neun Hammerfist- 5th/5th fighter/thief Half-elf. Son #3
Drake- 5th/5th Half-elf fighter/mage. Son #2
"Steve"- 5th/4th thief/illusionist Gnome who always uses a different name. Son #1

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Magic Item of the Week: Alarc's Sword

  Found in the catacombs beneath the Castle of Nightmares by the half-orc warrior-priest Alarc, this sword is of unknown origin. Bards have no record of t prior to his discovery and divinations reveal only that it is very, very old.
  After Alarc's death the sword was stolen by persons unknown and has been sighted from time to time in the years since.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Work In Progress: The Summoner

  As my players know, I like having NPCs with non-standard abilities. The idea of NPCs being different than PCs was born of lo, those many Dragon Magazine "New NPC Class" articles. My many years of thinking about NPCs, PCs, levels, and such was summarized in a series of posts that ended with this one explaining why 'good guy' NPCs are largely non-standard. My evil NPC clerics are also very different, as I mention here; in brief, they have fewer spells but access to special powers, like disease touch, or regeneration, or invisibility. I had a few weird PC classes, too, and allowed some from Dragon, like the Archer.