Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel Review: Superman Sinks Again

I just got home from the midnight release of Man of Steel (don't even get me started on the Wal-Mart exclusive early showing) and I feel the need to vent.  So, fair warning, there be spoilers ahead.  Seriously, no bullshit, heavy spoilers.  Read on at your on risk.

I remember a time when Clark Kent was the boyscout of the comics universe.  Captain America maybe stood more for the American way, but he was a soldier, willing to do whatever was necessary, whereas the last son of Krypton always did what was right.  I feel that was lost on Man of Steel.

Nevermind that sending Zod's followers to the Phantom Zone was essentially a death sentence for them, I want to focus briefly on Zod's ending.  I never thought that I would see the day where Superman snapped someone's neck.  Sure, he did it to save a few people, but seriously, the edgier, grittier Batman I loved.  A gritter Superman, a Kal-El who kills?  That belongs in an Elseworlds tale, not on the silver screen. 

Say what you will about Superman Returns, at least it was still a Superman I could recognise.  Yes, Lex's plan was fucking terrible, and yes, the Christ metaphors were heavy, and yes, I know that Superman never used his powers offensively, but still.  Brandon Routh did an excellent job as the titular icon and, given that Returns was a sequel to Donner's Superman and Superman II films, I'd say it did exactly what it was intended to do.  Routh's portrayal of the late Christopher Reeves' Superman/Clark Kent was spot on, so much so that it was eerie to watch, but in a good way.  It was a really good character piece (and not much else) for one of America's most beloved and popular icons.  MoS just... ugh.

Don't get me wrong; Henry Cavil's acting chops were on fine display.  I think he did incredibly well with the script he was given.  Crowe did a fantastic job as Jor-El, but I never envisioned him as a bad ass.  Suddenly, Crowe's casting makes sense on even more levels.  Hel, nobody let me down in the acting department.  I especially enjoyed all the bit parts played by familiar faces; Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta; Battlestar Galactica), Tahmoh Penikett ('Helo' Agathon and Paul Ballard: Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse, respectively)  and Harry Lennix (Boyd Langton; Dollhouse).  I thought it was really cool.

That's about all that I liked about the film.  The effects were dazzling and dizzying.  I thank my lucky stars that I never jumped in with the 3D crowd.  I can only imagine how much more my head would have hurt watching this film in that particular format. I did like the combat between Faora-Ul and the humans; she moved like a video game character and it was really bad ass.  Sadly, that was the only time combat was entertaining in the film.  The other fights?  Meh, at best.  Now, the gravity effects of the terraforming machine were pretty cool, but why did the thing need fucking tentacles? 

The movie was rife with problems for me.  Jor-El storing the data of all of Krypton in Kal's cells sounds like a great idea, if the general audience doesn't realise that the cells in the body die at a rate of something like 60 billion a day.  I don't care how much information Jor could story in his bouncing baby boy (and can I say that the first shot of baby penis was more than enough; the second was strictly uncalled for), all that info would be gone by the time the kid was six weeks old.  And that's a generous estimate. 

The character assassination of both Jonathan Kent and Clark was just disgusting.  The elder Kent suggesting that his son should have let a bus full of children die just to protect his identity.  Sickening.  Clark wilfully taking a life?  I swear, it was like watching Injustice's Superman come to life. 

And the Christian metaphors just kept coming.  Returns was bad about this, but this one was fucking awful.  Not only did it lay the Christ imagery on thick, but it also took up the war between science and faith.  Several times faith was mentioned (take it on faith, take a leap of faith, etc).  Clark visits a church for guidance as to what to do when his 'fellow' Kryptonians threaten Earth.  There's even a line between Kal and Faora where she tells him that evolution will always win.  This movie isn't bad enough, it feels the need to demonise Darwin.

Overall, I would say that the film is worth watching, but just barely.  I give it a 48/100.  Wait until this thing comes out on a streaming service of your choice, folks; don't waste your money in theaters.  Trust me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 4; Are You Happy Now?

The music of love reached my character as well and I was forced to roll a new Will save.  Having failed it miserably, I was as amorous as Paddy's character and also ran back to find that "lovely female" Goliath.

We met somewhere in the middle (there's a song there somewhere...) and began immediately "displaying" our "affection".  I think half the fun of this for Tokyo was seeing how far we would take this, the bastard.

Well, third base will only appease a rock man for so long, so, having previously established that my character's preference for "love tunnels" tended more to the rear, he broke the kiss and turned Paddy around.

Finally, Tokyo allowed an intelligent thought to materialise within our characters.  In Paddy's mind, if I were a woman, why would I want to be behind him?  As a lady friend of mine can tell you, women generally don't want to be the big spoon.

Still, our sadistic (and possibly closeted) DM made us continue under the ruse that we had no clue that the other was a male.  So, Paddy rolled a grapple check and, due to my diminished Strength score (thanks, Rock-Ade), I lost and found (heh) myself face to face with the "gorgeous female" once more.  It was then that Paddy's hand found something it wasn't expecting when reaching down to my nethers.

 The spell broken, we rushed back into the room of sorcery, characters swearing to never speak of the incident again.  The door had appeared and we stuffed our bags full of the food present and got out of that creepy-ass room.

Munching on leftover Gnome and drinking fine wine, we exited the room via the crawlspace and found ourselves in a new room, this one lined with bookshelves overfull with scrolls, the overflow piled on the floor.  In the centre of the room was a statue.  Tokyo moved to recite the inscription upon it but I stopped him.

"Is it written in Dwarven?" 

The look on Tokyo's face was priceless.

"No."

"Then we can't read it."  Gleefully, Paddy and I then set about the room.  I read one and took quite a bit of damage.

"This one prepared explosive runes today," I muttered under my breath, to which Paddy replied sardonically,

"No metagame references to OotS.  Also?  Socerery."

As if to prove his point, Paddy read a scroll, which also blew up in his face.  Bad times.  Deciding not to further explore the scrolls, I had the idea that, if I 'read' the inscription on the statue in the mirror, then I would be far enough away from the effects.  I was wrong.

The act of trying to read the words is enough to trigger the trap.  The floor slid out from under us and towards the other end of the room.  We slide uncontrollably that way, followed closely by all the scrolls and the bookshelves that held them.  Paddy passed his reflex save to avoid damage; I did not. 

I slammed into the end of the ramp beneath us, followed closely by the heavy oak bookshelves.  Then by Paddy.  I was down to one HP and Paddy wasn't doing much better.  Also of note; we could feel that the scrolls had unfurled.  So, eyes closed, we blindly groped our way into a hallway far from the opened pages of explosiony death, and we slept.  For days.  Only interrupting ourselves to eat and shit, using the parchment as wipe. 

Well fed and rested, we finally move into the next room.  There is a pulsing red orb in the centre.  There are also two guillotines on either side and a doorway past the orbs.  As we step closer to the orb, the ruby pins in our wrists (one in my case, both in Paddy's) begin to vibrate.  The closer you step, the more it vibrated.  So, I decide to walk up and touch it.  Apparently, this was a fatal mistake, as when I touched it, the orb exploded and I died from the shards shredding me to pieces. 

Paddy and I had a long discussion with Tokyo over how the entire dungeon was bullshit at this point (interesting side note; as I finish typing this, I am listing to three of my other friends [CK, Melonie, and recurring character Jimbo Baggins] suffer through this exact dungeon.  They are telling Tokyo the same thing; this dungeon run sucks)  and essential insta-death should have more warning than "the thing in your wrist(s) vibrates. 

Angry and fed up, I sat there and morally encouraged Paddy to finish.  After my death, he picked up the magic mirror (of the "only one shall live" fame) and screamed.

"ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?!"  He picked up my corpse, cause we're bros like that, and moved past the shards and out the hallway.  After some minor twists and turns, Paddy found himself facing a ladder.  He climbed out to sweet, sweet freedom.

Finally emerging from the ground like a vampire given new life, he scans the area.  It's the plantation we found ourself at before we were DM fiated into the dungeon in the first place.  Paddy sees a nearby tree and grabs the largest branch he can and breaks it off to form a club befitting our Goliath heritage.

He stalked into the place, headed towards the largest building.  Two armed guards stood blocking the doorway.  They said something to Paddy in common, but even if he had understood it, I don't think it would have mattered.  It was ragey fun times.

Paddy took the first one below half health in one blow.  His partner fled in terror, presumably to alert more guards, while his injured companion threw down his sword and begged for mercy.  Paddy picked up the weapon and promptly slew his pleading foe, lopping the head off to insure that no extra damage came to the armour.  He then picked up the corpse and headed off behind the nearby farm. 

As the rain began to fall, Paddy looked into the sky and screamed in frustration, mourning his fallen brother and our wasted five hours of lifetime.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 3; There Be Sorcery Afoot!

Awakening, our characters found themselves completely devoid of arms and armour and nude except a tiny loincloth that did little to cover our previously defined largeness.  There was also a third character in the room; a gnome who still slept.  Before we could react to this new person, the walls began closing in.

Tokyo Joe gave us a quick rundown of the room.  Now Paddy, upon character creation, had taken ranks in Spellcraft.  Why?  Who knows, but he used this opportunity to make a check before Tokyo could finish his description.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"

"No," Tokyo responded with a bewildered look, " but you do see three holes in one of the walls that isn't moving to crush you to death."  We ran to them.  Paddy put his hand tentatively into one of the gaping maws to find a lever.  He turned it to no effect.  I did the same to identical result.  Sensing that our new 'ally' wouldn't wake up in time to insert his hand and pull the lever in the third hole, Paddy drew the short straw of the roll-off and his character put his other hand in and we pulled simultaneously.  After a bit of pain our arms came back with ruby studs through the wrists and a door opened.

Grabbing our tiny 'friend' with my bedazzled arm, I slung him over my shoulder and followed Paddy out of the room.  We entered a hallway that went on for a while before entering another room. 

We spotted a mirror in the centre of the room but before we could look at it our tiny friend woke up.  We dealt with the usual "who are you" type of questions (all in Dwarven) for awhile.  Then we looked in the mirror.  A lot.

The mirror told those who looked into it and failed a will save that "There will be only one".  Paddy, the first one to look into it, made another Spellcraft check, failing miserably.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"

"No."

Paddy turned to me before shaking his head.

"No sorcery."

While I passed the save after looking into the mirror, the gnome did not and our newfound compatriot quietly flipped shit in the corner.  I took the mirror back and tried to find an exit.  I looked into it and spun around, trying to detect any doors that were only visible when viewed in the mirror itself.  No dice.  Finally, I had an idea.

"The gnome needs a jewel."  With this profound statement, I ripped my tiny banana-hammock off and, catching my drift, Paddy did the same.  The look of horror on Tokyo's face was priceless.  When I stepped towards him the little bastard fled in terror down the hallway and back into the other room.  Perfect!

Paddy and I arrived in the room, completely naked with loincloths in hand, our hugeness dangling as we walked.  You could almost see the gnome's mesmerized look of fear as he watched them swing...  Anyhoo, we grabbed him and he whimpered pitifully.

Paddy took him to the wall with the holes in it and wrapped his speedo around the lever inside while I did the same.  Eventually coming to the conclusion that we didn't want to rape him, gnomeo did what we told him to and pulled the third lever.  Nothing happened.  We tried this a few times in different arrangements but the results were the same.

After giving up, we turned back down the hallway to the room with the mirror.  Along the way, the gnome decided it was time to talk.

"Can... can you please put your clothes back on?"

"... no."

The matter settled, I picked back up the mirror and looked into it.  This time, I failed the will save.

"There will be only one."

Deciding that if there was only going to be one of us make it out, it would be either Paddy or myself.  So, I grabbed the terrorized gnome by the leg and began bashing his head against the wall.  Tokyo did not respond well.  Paddy and I laughed.  (Usually we are not this abusive of our DM's, but Paddy and I, like the majority of our group, despise railroading; better to break him of the habit early.)

As his lifeblood pumped out of his skull and with Tokyo Joe and Paddy staring at me, I used the blood to coat the walls in an effort to reveal any cracks where a hidden door might be.  Despite my ingenious idea, we found ourselves with no way forward.  I smashed the mirror against the wall in frustration, only the mirror didn't break.  It wasn't even scratched.  Inspired by two different circumstances, Paddy and I came to three brilliant ideas.

Paddy, noticing that the gnome didn't have nearly enough blood to coat the walls with, and picking up on our rumbling tummies, decided to used the table upon which the mirror had been found and start a fire.  The smoke would reveal our door while also adding a nice smokey flavour to our gnome-shapped meal.

My idea was to use the mirror as a pick to break through the walls.  Once Paddy voiced his idea, I waited to implement mine until we found the door.

We had to take some time to explain to Tokyo that one can indeed make fire from two sticks (apparently this isn't common knowledge in California...) and, one successful Survival check later, the sweet smell of roasting gnomeflesh filled the room.

While Paddy cooked, I took the time to try and detect a hollow spot in the walls of the room.  Once I found what I was looking for, I sat back and hoped the smoke that was beginning to fill the place would confirm my suspicions.  Alas, it did not.

Feasting upon our fallen comrade did wonders for our spirit.  We put out the fire and toiled away, using the mirror as a weapon against the stone door.  We raced against the clock and our own fatigue and though we made some progress, it wasn't nearly enough.  Just as we were about to suffocate, the door opened.  Greg had us roll another Survival check to determine that we had been conscious roughly a day.  There will be only one, indeed.

Moving forward led us into another room, this one with a bowl of wine, slabs of bread and bedrolls.  Upon entering the room spoke.

"Eat, drink, sleep."  This was followed by the sound of Paddy's dice.

"Do I detect any sorcery?"

"No."  Paddy turned to me once more.

"No sorcery"

That nugget tucked away, sleep sounded good to me and drink likewise to Paddy, so we performed our respective tasks.  Paddy, failing a Fort save, found himself drunk on one glass while I, whenever I awoke, found that I felt no more rested than I had before laying down.

Eventually we tried the bread, which was delicious but only increased our hunger, which we abated by eating more smoked gnome.  Combined with the wine, it was quite the feast.  Coming to the conclusion that the only way forward was to capitulate to Tokyo's demands, we performed all three tasks and, upon awaking, found the way forward visible.

Gathering our things, which included the talking mirror from room two and the talking table from room three,  we picked up the bedrolls and stuffed the remaining bread and gnome into one and marched forward.

In the room was a curtain of fire on the far side and four spigots with pictures over them on the near wall.  The room spoke.

"I have lost my love but don't know where to find him.  His friend says he is in the other room.  Where is he?"

Before Paddy could reach for his dice, Tokyo stopped him.

"Sorcery."

Paddy then turned to me, a big smile on his face.

"Sorcery."

The matter settled definitively, we turned to the spigots.  The plaques above them were, in order, water, sand, paper, and rock.  Being a Goliath, I of course grabbed the rock one and drank.  Boom, -5 points of strength, no save.  Greatly weakened, I turned to Paddy.

"Your turn."

He moved to the next one, paper.  He drank from it and then walked through the flames.

"Try the next one."

I was so happy that my character was intelligent enough to realise that Paddy referred to the one that he had taken (the one next to mine) and not the one beyond that.  Having done so, I followed down the hallway after him.

We came to another room, this one filled with a feast.  A proper feast mind you, not that we minded dining daily upon gnome.  Before we could begin eating, I was instructed that I found a beautiful Goliath woman in the room.  Paddy was informed that he witnessed a beautiful Goliath woman enter the room.  Bad times.

"Forgive me, madam," I began, "but I seem to have lost my brother.  I just followed him in."

"Funny," the Goliath woman with Paddy's voice responded, "my brother was supposed to be right behind me."

At this point, we try to explain to Tokyo that we had obviously discovered that magic was afoot.  Even Paddy's muttered 'sorcery' apparently wasn't enough to clue our characters in to the reality of the situation. 

Before we could revolt, music began to play.  Will saves were rolled and my character, having failed, fled in abject terror all the way back to the room we awoke in.

Paddy, after stuffing his face, tried to track down the source of the music.  He had it cornered once, only for it to climb the wall and sound back behind him again.  Before frustration could set in, a second Will save was rolled, which Paddy failed.  He found himself just as amorous as I was scared and he ran down the halls in search of the 'attractive female' Goliath who had moments ago ran screaming out of the room.  He had some urges to take care of.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 2; the Fuckoning

So, picking up where we left off months ago....

By this time the dwarves around me were incredibly nervous and thanked their maker when I chose to turn around rather than attempt to forcibly free my brother.  Their stubby little legs strained to keep up with my long strides as I found the man in charge, a human in gaudy pirate regalia.

I stood idly while he concluded his business.  When he turned to me, I motioned for pen and paper.  Once supplied with a quill and ink as well as paper, I began communicating with my saviours in the only way I knew how; stick figures.

I drew myself, large hammer and all, and pointed to myself.  He nodded.  I drew another image of myself, but this time with a huge sword in place of my hammer. Then I drew a cage around the second image. I pointed belowdecks.  He nodded.  I drew another set of images identical to first but this time I left the cage off of Paddy.  The captain nodded reservedly.  I then drew a third set of figures, but this time I drew a cage between us.  I pointed to myself, then belowdecks, then I mimed carrying a cage.  He nodded once more and, grabbing some guards in the event things went south, we headed back to Paddy.

Once there, I informed Paddy of what sort of work would be involved in his release.  Trusting in his older brother's wisdom, he did not question why we were helping the people who had almost killed him.  I showed him to my our room.  I only had room for one cot, so we had to take turns sleeping.  Still, it beat a cage covered in one's own excrement. 

Before he could rest, however, we were escorted back to the beach to continue working.  After a days hard labour, we took a quick dip to wash away the sweat (and the shit, in Paddy's case) before going back to the room.  Once we had eaten, we slept and prepared ourselves for another day of work.

Paddy and I, not limited by the slow speed of the dwarves, moved the cages as fast as they came to us.  About midway through the day, cages bearing familiar faces came into view.  Our village had been capture.  They looked to us, hope welling in their eyes that we would somehow free them from their fate.  I locked eyes with the village elder.

"Tiny metal men are real funny now, aren't they?"

Once the out of game laughter had ceased, Tokyo Joe said that the villagers wept openly and spat at us as we mocked them while carrying them into the hold.  I was especially rough with the elders' cage, jostling it as much as I could, laughing all the while.  I had officially taken my first step towards evil and I loved every last second of it.

With all the cages loaded, we eventually set out to sea.  It took two weeks for Paddy to learn the Dwarven tongue.  I didn't pick it up nearly as quickly but I had a good head for their alphabet that Paddy lacked.  Having learned the tongue of the natives, I did what any sane pirate who had turned on their people would do; I asked for a concubine.  Paddy had to translate my demands, of course, but still.

We brought our request before the captain who grinned knowingly.  He led us back down to the now cramped hold.

"Pick one out," he said to Paddy, who relayed it to me.  I pointed to a woman who I envisioned having turned down my character's advances at some point in his fictional past.  The captain, seeing her relative beauty, shook his head and pointed to a more comely Goliath girl.  I nodded.  She would do.

So, after rolling for penis length (we were quite large, apparently; I didn't know that I was capable of jealousy towards one of my characters' fictional junk before that day), we eventually made it to our destination, wherever that was.  A huge bazaar meeting place full strange creatures was where we were taking those deserving captured souls below.  After unloading quite a large number of cages, we were instructed to grab one last load.  On our way belowdecks, a cage of our own dropped down atop Paddy and I.

Thinking that perhaps some unfortunate mishap had occurred, Paddy tried to communicate with the pirate leader.  Sadly, this was not an accident.

We were informed that we would fetch a handsome price at the auction.  As Paddy and I pleaded our case with the pirate captain (and Tokyo Joe) that we were relatively cheap labour that was far more efficient than the Dwarves they had on hand, I quickly got the sinking feeling that we were being railroaded.  And I was right.  Once logic and wisdom failed to sway the rookie's mind, we hopped aboard the Fuck You express and were delivered to the next pre-rendered plot point, the auction.

Once there, we endured the taunts of our former Goliath folk.  Paddy and I ignored them and instead focused on trying to prove our worth to anyone who came by.  Paddy spoke to them in fairly fluent Dwarven but this disgusted most people (apparently, the 'help' talking to them pre-sale was quite... unseemly).  However, we finally found someone who was intrigued by talking brutes.

I did what I could to impress our potential purchaser by flexing my muscles.  Paddy wove a tale of woe before pointing out our selling points.  Beside our obvious strength, Paddy indicated my armour and my weapon (something that the dwarves had, after a failed sleeping dart that would have knocked out a mammoth, never possessed the courage to attempt to disarm me in the cage).  He told them that he had made my armour and I the weapon.  We would make good smiths, given the proper tools.

Evidently we drove the price up quite a bit, netting 10,000gp each.  Once the transaction was complete, we were loaded onto a wagon and hauled off.  Our people, what few remained, mocked us even more furiously.  I had the perfect answer to wipe off the smug satisfaction from their faces, though.  I had paid attention to the prices that our people had been sold for.

"Even as a slave, we're still worth more than the rest of the tribe combined."  Ah, their misery was delicious and we had the last laugh over those useless gits.

We travelled for a few days, never once being let out of the cage.  Eventually, we reached our destination; a large plantation.  A hooded figure came out to greet us.  Before we could do anything, we had to make a will save, a save that my 19 on the die failed.  Ugh.  DM fiat... go.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Brothers Stone: Part 1

It's time for a long overdue update.  I will not be posting the Halloween Horror as I had mentioned two months back (my memory is not what it once was) and will instead regale you all with a much more recent tale.

A friend, new to our gaming group and relatively new to RPGs altogether, owing up to an unfortunate derth of DMs this past weekend, decided he would run a 3.5 one-shot adventure for whomever showed up.  That ended up being myself and Paddy McRuleslawyer.  So, new friend, we'll call him Tokyo Joe, had his DM d├ębut to a small but extremely experienced group.

Paddy and I began by crafting brother Goliath Barbarians, myself wielding their signature Greathammer while Paddy chose Tokyo's favourite weapon; the Fullblade.  Both were large, of course.  After re-familiarising ourselves with 3.5's skillsets (gods, I do so love Pathfinder), Paddy and I chose complementary skills and began the adventure.

Tokyo informed us that we called a lonely mountain on a lonely, secluded island, home.  Our abode was also populated by various primordial creatures and the forests were described as something straight out of Jurassic Park.

Despite our impressive starting stats combined with the complete isolation from other races, Paddy and I were apparently the bottom of the food chain in our tribe.  When pressed for why, Tokyo told us he had rolled for it.  Ah, dice fiat beating out logic; a mistake I was once very guilty of (one day I'll tell that story, but not today).

So, in an effort to determine which of us was the less shitty one, our Brothers Stone were sent out into the forest to see who could bring back the biggest haul.  Despite my urgings, rookie DM chose to have us make Knowledge: Nature checks instead of  Survival checks.  Neither Paddy nor myself had chosen said skill, leading us to return home empty handed.  I quickly surmised that our characters were the worst hunters in our tribe because the laws of hunting applied differently in Tokyo's world than in any other I had ever played in.  *sigh*

The next day, we set out again in search of our trophies.  Another failed Nature check led to Perception Listen or Spot checks (our choice).  We both chose Listen and Paddy's roll revealed to him noises from down by the beach.  This being a competition, I decided to let him go his merry way and continue along our previous path all by my lonesome.  I realise that splitting the party was sort of a dick move to use against a fledgling DM but Tokyo Joe had me good and angry at this point.

We followed Paddy's perspective for awhile, leading him to the beach where our characters were revealed to have no knowledge of technology, despite having crafted our own weapons and armour out of steel.  Paddy saw a "big tree" floating on the water with several "little trees" running back and forth between it and the beach.

Switch back to my POV and, after several hours of failed Geography checks, I decided 'Fuck it' and headed back home.  Along the way I encountered six "tiny men made of metal".  After I finished explaining to the rookie that my character was indeed familiar with metal armour and that I did not in fact believe the little buggers were skinned in metal, I tried to talk to them.  It was then that we realised that, because our characters had grown up on Survivor Island, we only spoke Gol-Kah, the tongue of the Goliaths.  Reaching somewhat of a language barrier, the "tiny metal men" attacked me with a crossbow, another 'stunning' innovation of science that my weapons crafting character was unfamiliar with.

My character did something smart for once and linked the lack of fauna to the guys in armour.  Seeing that I was outnumbered 6 to 1, I used my superior speed to high-tail it back to our village to let them know what was up.

Switching to Paddy's character, he studied the goings-on of the invaders for quite some time before surprising a roving band of "tiny metal men" with his fullblade.  One confirmed crit later and the little bugger had a 41 point damage crease in his shiny metal "skin".  Sadly, that was not enough to topple the tiny bastard and, even though he scored 3rd on the initiative track, Paddy did not get to use his first round attack.  He was too busy dying.

Switch back to me.  I reach the village, hours later and having avoided several pit traps that our minuscule adversaries had dug into our mountain, winded and breathless. I head straight to the elders and inform them "tiny metal men" had attacked the island.  They laughed.  I try to explain that, as my stats verify, I'm a capable hunter.  They all laugh again.  It is at this point that I resign myself to switching my alignment from Chaotic Good to Spiteful Evil and head back to the place where I found my previous attackers in an attempt to sell my own people in slavery.

I make it back to where my brother had veered from our path hours earlier (at last, a Survival check!) and follow his trail down to the beach.  There, I was greeted by the same sight he was, only at night and far more in detail.  There were "tiny metal men" everywhere.  There were also several of the island's other inhabitants held in wooden cages.  I smiled.

So, I climbed a tree and hid myself in its branches, observing the goings on down below and waited for one to separate himself from the rest of the group.  I climbed down and politely allowed the little guy to shit in peace before confronting him.  I approached, arms up in the air non-threateningly, and tried to talk with him.  Our language barrier had not diminished since my prior encounter with these invaders. 

Still, this little fellow led me down onto the beach.  There, he ran off and brought up what I could only assume to be the leader of their invasion force.  After trying again to speak with the little fellow, I came to the realisation that there was sand on a beach.  I had the worlds biggest etch-a-sketch at my feet.

I began by drawing a rudimentary stick figure with a huge hammer on his back.  I pointed to it and then pointed to myself.  I repeated this process until the dwarf touched his right finger to his nose.  Taking this to be his people's non-verbal gesture of understanding, I continued.  I drew some trees.  I pointed to them, pointed to the drawing.  The hairy midget touched his nose once more.  I then drew a mountain.  I pointed to the mountain in the distance and back to my drawing.  Another nose touch.  I then drew a village with other stick figures in it.  I pointed to myself, then to the people.  A nose touch.  I pointed to the drawing, then to the mountain.  The dwarf smiled and touched his nose.  Then, I drew a cage around the village.

With a smile as large as he was small, the dwarf touched his nose at my Benedict drawing.  I then drew a representation of the dwarf beside the one of myself.  I pointed to it and then pointed to the bearded gentleman before me.  He touched his nose.  I proceeded to draw an arrow to the village drawing and followed that by drawing myself and the dwarf again, but this time we were attacking the villagers.  He shook his head and did not touch his nose.  My heart fell.

I was distraught as to what to do.  The spite-portion of my black heart was crushed that I would not join our attackers in decimating the assholes who kept me down and mocked my (now obviously) correct assessment of the situation.  Then, I settled for escape.  I locked eyes with my partner in discourse and pointed to myself, then to the boat "big floating tree".  The dwarf touched his nose, then pointed to myself, a cage and a boat.

Realising that the undergrown boar wanted to capture me, I shook my head vigorously.  I then repeated my previous gesture of pointing to myself then the ship "big tree" and nodding.  The dwarf touched his nose again before repeating his previous gestures; me, cage, tree.  I emphatically shook my head.  Eventually, the idea that I may be a bit of a difficult capture, especially considering I was willing to join them, sunk into his thick skull and he went off in search of whomever his boss was.

After an eternity of uneasy glances between myself and the Lollipop Guild, my translator returned and led me to a "small floating tree" headed towards the larger one.  Once aboard, I was taken to an area of the ship which had obviously been very hastily renovated for a gentleman of my stature.  He left me and I slept.

Upon awakening, I strapped my hammer to my back once more and joined the crew on the beach.  After hours of lifting cages to and fro, I finally joined a gang that was taking the captured creatures belowdeck.  As I entered the hold, I was confronted with the site of my brother, Paddy's character, in a cage, devoid of equipment and clothing.  Our exchange went something like this.

"What the hell?" I asked, curiously.

"You what the hell!"

"What are you doing down here?"  I indicated the hold with all of the non-sentient creatures around us.

"They," Paddy said, indicating the dwarves now shifting nervously around me, "attacked me and knocked me out.  I haven't eaten for a day and I've been sleeping in my own shit!"

"Huh.  They gave me a room."  I savoured his icy glare before sighing.  "I'll see what I can do."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Intermission

The first Thorsday of December has come and gone and I still don't have a hilarious post up.  Sadly, that will not change today. 

I was about halfway through a new retelling of past hijinks when Paizo's sixth annual RPG Superstar competition rolled around.  Myself and a number of my group have discussed making an entry in the past but one of them challenged me to actually enter this year and so I have been busy working on that.  I would love to describe what my entry is but this year there have been a few changes; all entries must be anonymous.  If I even hint in a public forum what my item is, I am immediately disqualified.  As I have a (perhaps inflated) high opinion of myself and my talents, I think I have a decent shot of getting past the first round.  That being the case, I have no desire to get DQ'd in search of a few extra votes.

So, barring any further shenanigans, I will be returning to my regular pace next week with the first instalment of the Halloween Horror!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Ends! The Undermountains of Madness: Part VI

Following the 'dwarves' information, we unwittingly walked towards our doom.  The path came to a T-junction with both paths going 10' before becoming a room.  We chose left, naturally, and took two steps into the room before Jimbo called for initiative.

Our characters all failed our knowledge checks (a running theme that game), but from Jimbo's scripted description we players knew that we faced a Deepspawn, a foul beast that can birth copies of any race that it has devoured.  That explained the off-dwarves and the poor drow.  It also explained the psuedo-Grimlocks that stood in the room with it.

Combat was fast and fierce, but within four rounds we had another issue.  The room back to the right was spawning new horrors; more undead.  The hallways being only 5' wide (all the better to be defended by dwarves, my dear!), I rushed to the other end and stood stalwart in the doorway.

Brainburn, Paddy, and Gobbler faced the aberration and its children while I fought a cadre of modified skeletons.  Once my turn attempts had run out, I fought with mace and shield.  It took me several rounds but my Cleric eventually cleared out the entire room on his own (a feat usually reserved for Paddy's characters) and returned to my comrades in arms.

I returned to find the Deepspawn and her brood dead.  I also found Paddy's Soulknife locked in mortal combat with Gobbler's Ghoul.  Brainburn did what little he could to aid his brother from another undead mother.

During the fight, Gobbler had rolled poorly and had taken a chunk out of Paddy whilst the mindblade wielder held the mamma in a multi-headlock.  He had taken it poorly.  Once their mutual foe had been vanquished, Paddy turned on the Ghoul.  As Paddy had been Brainburn's initial captor (plus the fact that, in-game, Paddy had been a dick to the flameskull, much moreso than the rest of us), the flaming head had chosen Gobbler's side.

I arrived just in time to see Paddy get the killing blow on Gobbler.  Sighing in frustration, I teleported the three survivors back to the Kingdom for some healing before we broke for the evening.  Having received enough XP to take us to 4, my cleric was ready and rearing to go when the next game session came around a week later. Gobbler was prepared with character number five in hand although Paddy's Soulknife was nowhere in sight.  He had lost the character sheet. 

"Fuck it," he said.  "Creating a new character from scratch is easier."  I found myself running the last starting character alive as Paddy rolled up an Elven Wizard to join Brainburn and I, along with Gobbler's Nixie.  Also, in a rare treat, my brother had joined us for that campaign.

Now, my brother (three years my younger) had gamed with us in the past.  I am quite certain that, at some point, I will cover the games where he was DMing.  He had been a good player but at that junction in life, he had decided that women were more interesting than his brother and friends.  He is thusly dubbed DB Skirtchaser for this blog's purposes.  I'll leave the 'DB' to my readers' fecund imagination.

Adding his Dwarven Barbarian to our greatly bolstered ranks, Skirtchaser joined us as meatshield.  Using my ring of brokeness, I took us instantly back to the room of doom and looted the corpse of Paddy's last character (which he rattled most of the items and money off of by memory) and the re-corpse of the Ghoul.  We also took what few goodies our enemies had possessed. 

Taking the goods to the Kingdom's treasurer to unload our riches (quite a bit, considering how much Paddy carrier on him), we split the enemies' loot evenly but only Brainburn and I got to reap the rewards of party death (that group charter was a brilliant idea).  Brainburn, being nothing more than a flying head, had little to spend his money on that would actually be beneficial, which saddened Jimbo greatly.  Gobbler threw out the idea that we could carve out a hole in his skull and screw in a metamagic rod or two.

Once the laughing had subsided, our flying friendly flame specialist was sprouting a rod of lesser maximize from his forehead.  He had spent extra money to have it designed to appear like a natural boney horn.  The human unicorn, or the flaming humicorn as he was quickly dubbed, was quite proud of his newest extremity.  Having very little to spend my money on, I decided to keep it for 'later'.  Little did I know that later would never come.

We continued our dungeon trudge, fighting random encounters the further we went into the complex that momma Deepspawn had her children carving out.  The only real thing of note that happened that day was the ridiculous amount of time DB Skirtchaser spent texting his girlfriend.  When we broke for food, he left.  Honestly, I think I spent more time describing him here than he spent at the gaming table that day.  Sheesh, some people have their priorities all wrong (says the guy with a date this weekend!).

Returning from food netted us one final encounter against some Grell.  What they were doing in my Kingdom, I have no idea.  We were determined to find out, though.

Initiative was rolled and Paddy, saddened that his own grapple monster was no more, opted instead to blast the beaked bastards with a fireball.  The now-crispy critters went next, grappling Paddy (who was at that precise moment quite displeased with his decision to not remake his Soulknife), Gobbler and myself.  Brainburn, despite his huge penalties, managed to evade the fourth Grell grapple.

I cast Body Blades, a spell I had prepared for just such an eventuality, and was promptly free.  Gobbler attacked as best he could but his Nixie, like the majority of his characters that campaign, failed to be useful.  Going last, the flaming humicorn used his eye-beams of fiery pain to kill the creature holding fast to his spellcasting brethren.  Paddy thanked him before casting a round of magic missiles into the Grell nearest Brainburn once initiative rolled over.  Then the Grells went.  Then Gobbler's Nixie died.

To say that Gobbler was angry would be an understatement as large as the man himself.  I recall dice being lobbed while the rest of us died of laughter.  Once he was calm, he began working on his sixth character for the campaign in about as many sessions while the rest of us avenged his Nixie's death.  We mopped them up quickly, thanks in great part to a second helping of fireball, this time from a more frequent source than Paddy.  Grells dispatched, we travelled to the third level in Undermountain, claiming all we saw in the name of Kingdom.

A few random encounters later, we came to a great pit, easily thousands of feet deep. We returned back home for some further loot selling and the feeding of the Western Watch.  There, Jimbo informed me of the sad story of Dwarf claiming his direct ancestors had once ruled Undermountain.  Sensing a challenge to my claim, we immediately went out to check the validity of these claims (and silence them, if necessary).

We needn't have worried.  His name was Gyud, a fighter of little prominence.  His haggard appearance calmed my anxiety.  He had been haunted by dreams of late about a plain crown with a bloodred gem attached, laying at the bottom of a great chasm.  He wasn't interested in ruling anything but rather felt a familial obligation to not let the thing fall into the clutches of evil.

The threat to the throne thwarted, we took off in search of my new crown.  Gyud was good enough to inform us that it was at the bottom of Belkram's Fall.  His description matched that of the giant chasm we had encountered on our last excursion into level 3.  I returned us there post-haste and we looked down.  I scouted out below but it was designed in such a way that I could not pick out any location well enough to safely teleport us there.

Returning briefly to the Kingdom for some epic climbing gear and back again to the Fall, we were met with sounds from above us.  Gobbler had his sixth character ready.

A halfling Ninja came hurtling at us from the darkness above.  Before we could recover our wits, initiative was rolled and we found ourselves facing Gobbler's pursuers.  The poor bastards were not even memorable enough for me to recall their race! 

Introductions were made off-camera and we began our final descent.  Another bout of unremarkable travel had us eventually reaching Skullport.  We were not as ill-received as I expected.  Paddy wanted to take over the joint but cooler heads prevailed.  After all, as the flaming humicorn informed us, all the flaming skulls without additional appendages functioned as a hivemind.  Jimbo politely informed us that the entire Kingdom trebled could not make a scratch against the forces of Skullport.  Humbled, we gathered what information we needed from the dealers of such things and exited the town.

We travelled further upon our road and faced some more Grell, adults this time, but that was where the campaign ended.  Looking back, I don't know whether to celebrate or cry that things never progressed further.  Hel, I don't even remember why we didn't continue.  I think that things had gotten to out of hand, what with Gobbler's revolving door of characters becoming increasingly more fantastical than the last and all.  Still, I have fond memories of this module and one day hope to take part in that adventure again.  Maybe with Pathfinder rules.  And maybe with a cartographer in tow!