Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Browns Improve to 0-3

A year and a week ago, I posted this about the 2009 Browns 0-3 beginning. And now in 2010, the Browns once again start 0-3, and as I explained here, they have a damned tough schedule the rest of the year. I'm not saying they'll go winless--I'm sure they'll steal a game somewhere along the line, but realistically I can't even see them making it to 8-8. They haven't looked bad in any of the three games so far this year: in fact, they've led (at some point) in the second half of each game. Quarterback-wise, Delhomme & Wallace can at least throw the ball down the field, unlike last season when Quinn & Anderson couldn't complete anything besides a screen or flare. Still, the rumbling has already begun that Coach Mangini better shape up or he'll be shipping out . . .

Fantasy Football 2010 Week Three

A nice bounce back from last week's meltdown, as this time I won 96-65. I had four players reach double-digits: Tom Brady (22), Ahmad Bradshaw (15) , Jermichael Finley (11), and a player most people had never heard of: Peyton Hillis (23). Hillis was a Denver Broncos fullback traded to the Browns in the deal that sent Brady Quinn to the rocky mountain state. Hillis is a big, strong runner, and was on my bench because he looked great during preseason and I had to have a Brown on the team. When Chargers RB Ryan Mathews got injured in Week Two, I tried to trade for Matt Forte but was rebuffed so with no other options I started Hillis--and man, he really came through!

WR Terrell Owens has been a big disappointment so far, and I don't think he has a single touchdown yet.

My opponent had a nice performance from Chris Johnson (24) and Jamaal Charles (14), but everyone else was kept to single digits.

The win puts me at 2-1 and tied for first in my division. I'm still in second-place in the household, however, as The Wife once again won big (107-86) and is still undefeated.


QB Tom Brady: 22
RB Ahmad Bradshaw: 15
RB Peyton Hillis: 23
RB/WR Donald Driver: 6
WR Wes Welker: 4
WR Terrell Owens: 4
TE Jermichael Finley: 11
D/ST Jets: 5
K Ryan Longwell: 6


QB Brett Favre: 8
RB Chris Johnson: 24
RB Ronnie Brown: 5
RB/WR Jamaal Charles: 14
WR Larry Fitzgerald: 8
WR Marques Colston: 2
TE Owen Daniels: 2
D/ST Dolphins -2
K David Akers: 4

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Buffy Comic Project: "Love Sick Blues"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 13

Dark Horse (Volume 1, 1998-2003)

Creators: Andi Watson (writer), Cliff Richards (penciller), Joe Pimentel (inker)

Setting: Season Three

T.V. Character Appearances: Buffy, Oz, Xander, Cordelia, Willow, Giles, Angel

Major Original Characters: Selke (vampire), Dr. Flitter (Selke's aide), Rouleau (demon gangster), Lyle (nerdy student)

Summary: The big Quiz Bowl is coming up, and Willow and her nerdy partner Lyle are ready to take it by storm. Unfortunately, a certain Selke just happens to pick Lyle for her next snack and now the Sunnydale High Quiz Bowl Team is minus one nerd. Cordelia decides this is her chance to finally shed her brainless bimbo image, and steals one of Giles' mystical amulets designed to increase memorization. It works like a charm (see what I did there?), but then information-overload sets in and Cordy goes berserk-y. Fortunately, Willow manages to salvage the competition and brings home the trophy for Sunnydale. Meanwhile, Selke kills the demon gangster Rouleau in order to get some new henchmen, and then she gets her groove on at the Bronze. I would say she's a little old to be hanging out at a high school club, but then I don't imagine there's a lot of options in Sunnydale.

Review: The Quiz Bowl stuff was goofy fun, though I can't quite see Cordelia suddenly deciding she needs to prove herself in something she should think is incredibly geeky. The Selke subplot continues to very slowly inch forward. I think it's laudable to try to combine a story resolved in each issue (for the casual news-stand fans) with an over-arching story to keep readers coming back (for the diehard Buffy/comic shop fans), but I'm not convinced it's really working.


* The inside front cover includes "Apologies to MARVIN MARIANO, who drew backgrounds in issue twelve, but was not properly credited."

* Next ish promises Spike & Drusilla! One time I dressed up as classic Spike for Halloween and ended up vomiting in a churchyard. Good times.

Next Issue

Friday, September 24, 2010

Clone Wars Campaign: Emily Prentiss, Corporate Troubleshooter

Emily Prentiss was The Wife's alternate character during the big Corporate Sector story arc. Prentiss, an Assistant Auditor General for the Corporate Sector Authority, fit in perfectly during the arc and was quite useful to the party with her extensive knowledge of rules, regulations, and the all around bureaucratic nature of that sector of the galaxy. For example, Prentiss arranged permission for the party's Jedi to keep his lightsaber as a "religious artifact" and for Daal's father to gain refugee status.

I always appreciate it when players come up with back-up characters with different personalities and roles than their primary characters, and Prentiss was certainly different than Arresta.

Ms. Emily Prentiss
Noble 7/Corporate Agent 10
Age: 30, Gender: F, Height: 5'10, Weight: 125, Species: Human

Strength: 8 (-1)
Dexterity: 12 (+1)
Constitution: 12 (+1)
Intelligence: 19 (+4)
Wisdom: 16 (+3)
Charisma: 17 (+3)

Hit Points: 107

Speed: 6

Base Attack: +12

Damage Threshold: 28

Fortitude Defense: 18 (or 28 w/ fixed +10)
Reflex Defense: 20 (or 30 w/fixed +10)
Will Defense: 24 (or 34 w/fixed +10)

Force Points: 13

Languages: Basic, Huttese, Bothan, Rodese, Bocci, High Galactic

Talents: Wealth, Connections, Educated, Spontaneous Skill, Distant Command, Born Leader, Impose Hesitation, Wrong Decision, Impose Confusion

Feats: Linguist, WP: Pistols, WP: Simple, Point Blank Shot, Deadeye, Precise Shot, Skill Focus (x4, Deception, Knowledge: Bureaucracy, Perception, Use Computer), Vehicular Combat, Melee Defense, Coordinated Attack

Class Feature: Executive Leadership (x5 per encounter) (gives ally +2 to speed, or attacks, or defenses)

Skills: Acrobatics +9, Climb +7, Deception +21, Endurance +9, Gather Information +16, Initiative +14, Jump +7, Knowledge: Technology +17, Knowledge: Bureaucracy + 22, Mechanics +12, Perception +21, Persuasion +16, Pilot +13, Ride +9, Stealth +9, Survival +11, Swim +7, Treat Injury +16, Use Computer +22

CSA Sonic Blaster +13 to hit, damage 2d6+7, DC 20 Fort or -1 on track

Equipment: 19645 credits, 2 medpacs, modified snap baton, bracer computer w/ visual comlink, SR 20 energy shield, code cylinder, credit chip, aqua breather, CSA sonic blaster, ration pack, all temperature cloak, blaster pistol, flight suit

Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page

Persuasion [Worth Press]

I have to admit, Jane Austen's Persuasion was just . . . pretty boring. The book mainly consists of the main character, Anne Elliot, hanging about until finally realizing that the man she really wants is a sailor whose love she turned away several years ago. Anne herself is not particularly interesting, nor are there the really fun, memorable characters like the father in Emma. The only dramatic incident in the book is one of Anne's acquaintances taking a tumble and bumping her head, but she's not really hurt and the whole incident is designed to help dispose of one of Anne's potential suitors. In six months I'll have completely forgotten what this book is about, but I will say it offers an interesting historical look at what daily life might be like in the lower-echelons of the the English gentry. It also demonstrates the high regard that Englishmen held for the navy as one of the few avenues for citizens of mundane birth to advance themselves into positions of power, wealth, and prestige.

For essays, John Wiltshire's "Modern Interpretations" discusses how, although the slow-moving and even mournful Persuasion was Austen's final published novel, she was working on a "high-spirited satire" at the time of her death. Wiltshire also talks about a couple of recent filmed versions of the book. Maggie Lane's "Regency Life" has an interesting discussion on the role of the navy during the period in which Austen was writing, as well as the use of seaside resorts as places visited for both recreation and their supposed medicinal effects. Caroline Sanderson's "Geographical Settings" focusses primarily on Bath and Lyme Regis, while Josephine Ross' "A Modern Perspective" offers an interesting portrait of Jane Austen's own failed romantic pursuits and how that may have influenced her writing.

Next: Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Particularly Interesting Detritus

In May, the service that hosts this blog began automatically tracking various statistics. There's some surprising stuff. For example, here are my five most-read posts (at least over the past several months):

Torchwood-related posts capture four out of the next five most popular.

Lessons I should take from this: (1) I should talk The Wife into writing more posts for me; (2) I should finally get around to finishing the Torchwood online game; and (3) I should write more reviews of Cthulhu stuff.

In terms of "Pageviews by Countries", the U.S. gives me twice as much traffic as Canada, but surprises like South Korea, Luxembourg, and Romania make the top ten. Hey, if I had any Luxembourg-specific material I would happily pander.

Finally, the most popular search keywords leading to the site are a couple variations on the name of the blog, and the phrases "Avengers Unplugged" and "Torchwood Cast". The phrase "barbi twins comics" also breaks into the top ten. You are a strange thing, Internet.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fantasy Football (2010) Week Two

Wow, I got *creamed* in Week Two, losing by 80 points! My team came up with a mediocre 66 points, partially due to Ryan Mathews getting injured in the first quarter and Tom Brady getting stymied by the Jets defense in the second half of the game. My opponent, on the other hand, had the highest scoring game of anyone in the league so far this season (146), as Lions RB Jahvid Best turned in a whopping 40 points single-handedly, with Frank Gore and the Steelers D/ST getting 28 each. Considering his QB only got 2 points, that's an amazing total. Even if my team had doubled their point total, I still would have l0st, so at least I didn't end up wasting a lot of points.

I'm sticking with Ryan Mathews even though he's a bit banged up, mainly because I can't find anyone else who is clearly better. With Tom Brady and Wes Welker playing the Bills, I think things will be better next week, but then my opponent also has Chris Johnson so who knows.

And The Wife once again won big (86-65) and obtained bragging rights within the household. "The NFL is a marathon, not a sprint!" I reply, and hope things turn around because we now have a bet riding on which team scores the most total points over the course of the season: whoever loses has to write a blog post saying whatever the winner wants. Her starting RB, Reggie Bush, is out for the next several weeks, so it could be my lucky break.

QB Tom Brady: 11 Points
RB Ryan Mathews: 2 Points
RB Ahmad Bradshaw: 8 Points
RB/WR Donald Driver: 9 Points
WR Wes Welker: 9 Points
WR Terrell Owens: 5 Points
TE Jermichael Finley: 10 Points
D/ST Jets: 8 Points
K Ryan Longwell: 4 Points

QB Joe Flacco: 2 Points
RB Frank Gore: 28 Points
RB Jahvid Best: 40 Points
RB/WR Mike Wallace: 2 Points
WR Randy Moss: 9 Points
WR Calvin Johnson: 13 Points
TE Antonio Gates: 17 Points
D/ST Steelers: 28 Points
K Matt Prater: 7 Points

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clone Wars Campaign: Purity First

Purity First was a xenophobic paramilitary organization I created to give the PCs some non-Separatist, non-Sun Runner opponents. Inspired by the Ku Klux Klan and Robert Jordan's Whitecloaks, Purity First is a human-only organization that is virulently opposed to "aliens." In the campaign, the PCs first encountered Purity First when it was a loose rabble of simple-minded zealots. However, the group secretly received financing and an influx of well-trained adherents due to the machinations of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and became a force to be reckoned with. After years of civil war, the small planet Mongui was ripe for the taking and occupied by Purity First to serve as the group's galactic headquarters. The organization conscripted a large percentage of the population to serve as its footsoldiers, while organizing its elite forces into battle-hardened phalanxes. After a bloody rebellion led by the PCs (in which three PCs were killed), Purity First was driven off Mongui and its leader, the Grand Inquisitor, was revealed to have secretly been a droid (the idea being that Palpatine wanted a pawn he could easily control). Below are the stats for some members of the group (defences are calculated using our House Rules, otherwise simply add 10 to each).
Purity First Conscript

Human, Soldier 4, Size Medium
Hit Points: 50 (Threshold: 18)
Initiative +9, Spd. 6
Str. +2, Dex. +2, Con. +1, Wis. +1
Force Points: 2 (1d6)
Defences: Reflex +11 (+9 flat-footed), Fortitude +8, Will Defense +4
Feats/Talents: Whirlwind Attack, Weapon Focus: Truth Stave, Weapon Specialization: Truth Stave, Stunning Strike, Rapport
Attacks: Truth Stave, +7 to hit, damage 2d6+7 (DC 25 Fortitude defence or blinded)
Skills: Perception +8, Mechanics +7, Endurance +8
Equipment: Truth Stave, Refractive Battle Armor (ignores first hit from energy weapon), Electrobinoculars, Comlink, 2d20 Credits
Phalanx Soldiers ("Seekers")

Human, Soldier 7/Elite Trooper 3/Medium Sized
Hit Points: 120 (Threshold: 25)
Initiative: +9, Speed 4
Str. +2, Con. +3, Dex. +4, Wis. +1, Int. +0, Cha. -1
Force Points: 11 (2d6)
Defences: Reflex (Front Rank) +21 or Reflex (Second Rank) +26*, Fortitude +15, Will +11
* Seekers in the Front Rank often hold riot shields and fight defensively for an additional +5 bonus to Reflex Defence, and if so Seekers in the Second Rank receive Improved Cover for a +10 bonus
Feats/Talents: Point Blank Shot, Farshot, Deadeye, Careful Shot, Rapport, Devastating/Greater Devastating Attack, Delay Damage, Armored Defence, Watch Your Back, Phalanx, Weapon Focus/Greater Weapon Focus, Toughness, Advantageous Cover, Armor Proficiency (Light, Medium), Weapon Proficiency (Pistols, Rifles, Simple)
Attacks: Heavy Blaster Rifle w/ Aim & Double Rapport +26 to hit, damage 4d10+6; Riot Shield +13, d. 1d6+8
Skills: Knowledge (Tactics) +10, Perception +13
Equipment: Heavy Blaster Rifle, Riot Shields, Masterwork Ceremonial Armor

Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fantasy Football 2010 Week 1

A big 91 to 68 win to start off Week 1, and I feel confident I have a strong team. Tom Brady and Wes Welker delivered big, as did the Jets defense. Terrell Owens and Jermichael Finley underperformed, but I had a big margin for error so everything worked out okay. The only opposing player of note was Miles Austin's 20 points.

The Wife's team also won big--is there an intra-family playoff game in the near future?


QB Tom Brady 22 points
RB Ryan Mathews 5 points
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 12 points
RB/WR Donald Driver 9 points
WR Wes Welker 18 points
WR Terrell Owens 5 points
TE Jermichael Finley 4 points
D/ST Jets 12 points
Ryan Longwell 4 points

KY COOKS BROWNS (68 points)

QB Matt Schaub 6 points
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 10 points
RB Tim Hightower 11 points
RB/WR Jonathan Stewart 1 point
WR Miles Austin 20 points
WR Steve Smith 4 points
TE Jason Witten 2 points
D/ST Cowboys 5 points
K Rob Bironas 9 points

Alahambara, Arch-Vizier of Mulhoric

Alahambara was a character I had a lot of fun playing in a recent 3-session game using the Pathfinder (D&D 3.5) rules. The idea behind Alahambara is that he was a powerful, smart, and cunning wizard who had manipulated events so as to reach a high-level political post. In my character background, this fantasy Machiavelli, however, was the victim of a terrible form of assassination: mind theft! With much of his memory and cognitive ability gone, Alahambara began wandering, looking for something he knows is missing but can't really understand. Personality-wise, I role-played this damaged Alahambara as a prideful and arrogant Alzheimer's patient, prone to hiding defects in his memory with gruff and bluster.

The adventure even had a happy ending. After raiding the tomb of Gung the Magnificent on behalf of the Ice Count Valgos, Alahambara received a boon from an extra-planar demon and managed to get his memories and normal personality restored. The game ended there, but it was a nice little character arc.

Alahambara, Arch-Vizier of Mulhoric

Human Lawful Evil Wizard (Level 6)

Hit Points: 43

Strength: 8 (-1)
Dexterity: 10 (-)
Constitution: 12 (+1)
Intelligence: 20 (+5)
Wisdom: 15 (+2)
Charisma: 18 (+4)

Armor Class: 15 (+3 Bracers, +2 Ring)
Fortitude Defense: +3
Reflex Defense: +2
Will Defense: +7

Languages: Common, Draconic, Elvish, Infernal, Abyssal, Undercommon

Melee: Attack +3 (Staff, d. 1d6-1)
Ranged: Attack +3
CMB: 2
CMD: 12

Speed: 30'

Initiative: +0

Proficiencies: Club, Dagger, Crossbows, Staff (no armor or shields)

Skills: Acrobatics +0, Appraise +9, Bluff +5, Climb -1, Craft (Alchemy) +11, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +8, Disguise +4, Escape Artist +0, Fly +5, Heal +2, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (Arcana) +11, Knowledge (Planes) +10, Knowledge (Nobility) +10, Knowledge (Geography) + 10, Knowledge (History) +10, Linguistics +10, Perception +2, Perform +4, Ride +2, Sense Motive +4, Spellcraft +15, Stealth +0, Survival +2, Swim -1, Use Magic Device +12

Feats/Features: Arcane Bond (Staff), Arcane School (Universalist), Hand of the Apprentice, Scribe Scroll, Eschew Materials, Magical Aptitude, Spell Penetration, Craft Wondrous Items & Rings, Weapon Focus (Quarterstaff), Diplomatic Credentials, Arcane Strike, Toughness

Level 0 Spells (Memorize 4, Know all)
Level 1 Spells (Memorize 5, Know: Mage Armor, Shield, Animate Rope, Mount, True Strike, Detect Secret Doors, Cause Fear, Expeditious Retreat, Identify, Endure Elementals)
Level 2 Spells (Memorize 4, Know: Invisibility, Spectral Hand, Whispering Wind, Ghoul Touch)
Level 3 Spells (Memorize 3, Know: Fly, Fireball, Major Image, Dispel Magic)

Equipment: 40 PP, 269 GP, 34 SP, 10 CP, Wand of Command Undead, Wand of Magic Missiles, Quarterstaff, Spellbook, Ring of Protection +2, Bracers of Armor +3, Gloves of Arrow Snaring, Deck of Illusions, Rope of Climbing, Elixir of Swimming (x2), Elixir of Hiding (x2), Handy Haversack, Bedroll, Ink, Paper, Rations (x10), Waterskin, Masterwork "Thieves'" Tools, Noble's Outfit & Ring, Stone of Continual Light, Headband of Intellect

Monday, September 13, 2010

Masters of the Pit (Planet Stories # 11)

Michael Moorcock's Masters of the Pit is the third and final book featuring modern-day American Michael Kane traveling to ancient Mars. It's very much in line with the first two books in the series, and by this point the cardboard nature of the characters and repetitive action scenes start to become quite noticeable. The plot is somewhat original, as a plague has affected a distant city in a strange way: its inhabitants decide to dehumanize themselves by acting as mechanically and unemotionless as possible. Kane, along with his reliable blue giant friend Hool Haji, sets off to find a cure by rummaging the abandoned technology of an ancient culture. It's all a competent but not particularly memorable mix of sword-and-sorcery fantasy with a little sci-fi. Keep a close eye fun in Chapter One, as Moorcock uses thinly-disguised character and location names to attack Analog magazine and some of the big names in the field.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

X-Factor: Prisoner of Love [COMICS]

X-Factor: Prisoner of Love is somewhat deceptively titled. Although the other members of X-Factor do appear briefly in a couple pages of this one-shot, it's really a solo story about the Beast. Everyone's favorite blue furry acrobat ends up being enthralled by a seductive, beautiful woman who may be more than she seems. Or she could be alien. Retroactive Spoiler Alert! The story is an interesting take on Hank McCoy, as he's normally portrayed as brilliant, but happy-go-lucky. Here, he has a little more Ben Grimm-style angst about his inability to blend into normal society. Like a lot of these 80s-era "prestige format" comics, it's worth reading but I'm glad I didn't pay the original $ 4.95 cover price for it.

Le Mystérieux Destin de Timothy Hunter: Initiation [Book Review]

Carla Jablonski's Le Mystérieux Destin de Timothy Hunter: Initiation is the first book in a six-volume series about DC Comics character Timothy Hunter. With the help of other well-known characters like John Constantine, the Phantom Stranger, and Zatanna, Hunter learns his potential to be the world's greatest magician. Most of the book concerns him being taken to various places (the age of Merlin, the end of the universe, the Faerie Kingdom, etc.) in order for Hunter to see what the magickal world consists of. At the end, he has to choose whether to accept his role and learn wizardry, or return to a mundane, much far safer life (anyone who's ever read genre novels will have a pretty good idea of which course he'll follow).

The books are an adaptation of a story (comics?) by Neil Gaiman and John Bolton. On the whole, I'd say they were okay. John Constantine and Zatanna have interesting personalities, and Timothy Hunter is not intolerable. The constant jumping from place to place kept, in my mind, a coherent plot from developing and was more in the nature of a travelogue. Still, it's fun to seeing DC Comics characters in novel form so I'd probably pick up book two someday . . .

Major Leaf

Tomorrow our gaming group starts on a short adventure using the Heroes Unlimited rules. I love the ability to create a character by rolling randomly on a series of tables (like my previous super hero, the Ringmaster). Since the random rolls for my new character told me he was an experiment by Canadian military officials, I decided to have a little fun creating a version of Captain America. Thus, Major Leaf is born.

Major Leaf (Ned Nordstrom)

“He Takes Care”


I.Q. 12

M.E. 11

M.A. 7

P.S. 22 (Base 13 +2 bodybuilding, +2 wrestling, +1 athletics, +2 boxing, +2 gymnastics)

P.P. 10 (Base 9 +1 gymnastics)

P.E. 20 (Base 14 +2 Flight, +1 wrestling, +1 running, +2 gymnastics)

P.B. 8

Spd. 8

Hit Points: 24 (+20 P.E., +4 random)

Initiative (+2 sonic flight

Melee Actions: 6 (+2 as experiment, + 2 hand-to-hand basic, + 1 boxing, +1 sonic flight)

S.D.C.: 154 (+40 as experiment, +10 bodybuilding, +14 wrestling, +4 running, +7 athletics, +13 boxing, +6 gymnastics, +60 sonic flight)

Speed: 18 (Base 8, +9 Running, +1 athletics)

Roll with Punch/Fall: +7 (+2 hand-to-hand basic, +1 wrestling, +1 athletics, +1 boxing, +2 gymnastics)

Parry/Dodge: +3 (+1 athletics, +2 boxing)

Damage: +7 (P.S.)

Save vs. Coma/Death: +10% (P.E.)

Save vs. Magic/Poison: +3 (P.E.)

Skill Programs (x4, +30% included)

Physical/Athletic Program

Wrestling: Pin on 18-20, + 1 roll w/ punch, +2 P.S., +1 P.E., +4d6 (14) S.D.C.

Prowl: 65%

Running: + 1 P.E., +4d4 (9) Spd., +1d6 (4) S.D.C.

Hand to Hand Basic: +2 melee actions per round, +2 roll with punch

Medical Doctor Program

Biology: 65%

Chemistry: 65%

Pathology: 75%

Medical Doctor: 95% to diagnose, 85% to treat

Pilot: Advanced

Navigation: 85%

Read Sensory Equipment: 65%

Weapon Systems (+1 strike): 75%

Airplane: 84%

Motor boat: 90%

Jet Aircraft: 74%

Submersibles: 74%

Physical/Athletic Program

Athletics: +1 parry/dodge, +1 roll w/punch, +1 P.S., +1d6 (1) spd., +2d4 (7) S.D.C

Boxing: natural 20 knockout, +1 melee action per round, +2 parry/dodge,

+ 2 P.S., +1 roll w/ punch, +3d6 (13) S.D.C.

Gymnastics: 55% Climb, +5% Prowl (included above), +2 roll w/ punches,

+2 P.S., + 1 P.P., + 2 P.E., +2d6 (6) S.D.C.

Swimming: 85%

Secondary Skills (x10)

  • Pilot Automobile (62%)
  • Mathematics: Basic (50%)
  • Speak Native Language (80%)
  • Read & Write Native Language (98%)

Body Building (+2 P.S., + 10 S.D.C)

Basic Electronics 35%

Recognize Weapon Quality: 30%

Wilderness Survival: 35%

Sing: 40%

Radio: Basic: 50%

Streetwise: 24%

Computer Operation: 45%

Law: 30%

Business & Finance: 40%

Super Powers

Sonic Flight: 700 mph flight, one extra melee attack per round, 3d4x10 (60) S.D.C., +1d4 (2) P.E., +2 initiative, +1 Strike (flying only), +2 Parry (flying only), +6 Dodge (flying only), Sonic Punch, Sonic Ram, Enhanced Vision, Resistant toCold, Hold Breath Longer

Mental Stun: Makes opponents feel dizzy

Control Elemental Fire: Fire Blast, Spontaneous Combustion, Fuel Flame, Flame Wall, Extinguish Fire, Create Smoke, Invulnerable to Fire/Smoke, Temperature Sense

Special Vulnerability

Radiation: Tiniest level reduces all physical attributes by half.


Carrying Capacity: 440 pounds

Lifting Capacity: 880 pounds


Punch: 1d4+7

Backhand: 1d6+7

Power Punch: 2d6+7 (counts as two melee strikes)


In the late 1960s, high-level Canadian officials were stunned by and envious of the appearance of the first American super-soldiers, including Major Flag. Through diplomatic channels, Canada appealed to their NATO partner to share the technology used to create such a weapon, but the U.S. military/industrial complex refused on the grounds of “domestic national security interests.” Miffed, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service brainstormed various plans to catch up to their ally to the south. The only one that ever bore fruit was Operation: Desecrate the Flag.

Operation: Desecrate the Flag was a shot in the dark, launched on the unproven theory that Major Flag’s super-powered genetic material could be passed down to his descendants. Canadian officials evaluated various options before settling on a bilingual Montreal prostitute named Yvonne Nordstrom. While Major Flag was on R&R in Key West, Florida, Nordstrom successfully lured Flag into a romantic liaison. Two weeks later, Major Flag was back on duty and had completely forgotten Nordstrom. But Nordstrom had a secret: she was pregnant!

Over the following months, Nordstrom was carefully monitored by CSIS officials. They were disappointed when young Ned Nordstrom appeared to be a perfectly normal baby, with no evidence of super-powers whatsoever. Without Yvonne Nordstrom’s knowledge, they began to subject young Ned to various radiation experiments while the toddler was at “day care.” When the boy turned five, CSIS arranged for his entry in a unique private school that was secretly a training camp for future government agents. Young Ned was inculcated in love of Canada and bilingualism, and rigorously trained in a variety of physical disciplines and vehicle operation. When he had finished the program in his late teens and still no powers were apparent, the Canadian government decided the best way to recoup their investment was by putting the boy through medical school in order to take advantage of his obvious intelligence. If they couldn’t have a super hero, they would have a new researcher to conduct another generation of experiments in creating a Canadian super-soldier.

Ned finished his medical training and began his experiments. He had little success, until he began conducting fieldwork in a remote village in Nunavut. A mining operation had dug deep into the earth’s crust in the area, and the mine trailings included the faint trace of some strange radiation, possibly extraterrestrial in origin. Ned convinced the village elders to allow him to take blood samples from three boys who had exhibited strange behavior: one who spontaneously combusted every night, one who could levitate three feet off the ground, and one who could make others nauseous and dizzy.

When he returned to his lab in Ottawa, Ned realized the goldmine in his hands. He could report his findings to his superiors and be responsible for the discovery of three potential super heros from Canada’s frozen north. Or, he could inject himself with the blood samples, stabilize the effects, and become an icon! Nordstrom’s experiment was successful as the blood samples bonded with the super-soldier genetic material that was his birthright, and he manifested fire, flight, and mental stun abilities to complement his years of physical training. Nordstrom never spoke to the government about how he really obtained his powers, and instead blamed a random strike of lightning.

After an intensive vetting by CSIS’ public relations department and various focus groups, Ned Nordstrom was given a red and white uniform, and proudly introduced to the Canadian public as Major Leaf. He was an instant sensation, making the covers of magazines, appearing on talk shows, and cutting the ribbon at new construction projects. Over the months that followed, however, the public began to talk less and less about Major Leaf: the problem was that Canada simply didn’t have enough super-villains or domestic terrorism to warrant the full-time attention of a super hero! The government decided to temporarily lend Major Leaf to a NATO task force while it evaluated the situation, and there Leaf met and befriended a genius-level weapons designer named P.J. Petz.

Soon after, word reached Ottawa that a reclusive billionaire Mark Artoff was planning to launch his own, private team of superheroes. Knowing the publicity would be great for Canada, CSIS arranged for Major Leaf to become a founding member of the team. With P.J. Petz serving as the brains, Aphrodite’s Handmaiden serving as the beauty, himself serving as the brawn, only a fourth piece of the puzzle was missing to create a true force for justice in the world.


Ned Nordstrom and Major Leaf have very different personalities. Nordstrom is somewhat arrogant, often aggravated by little problems in his life. Although perfectly nice to those he views as equals (such as fellow superheroes), he can be quite sarcastic and dismissive to government flunkies, servants, and others he considers beneath him. Major Leaf, on the other hand, has been focus-grouped to perfection: he has a bright, winning smile; projects confidence and strength, but in a reassuring and warm way; and is friendly to pets and small children. Only the fellow members of his team and a handful of high-level Canadian officials know that Ned Nordstrom and Major Leaf are the same man.


“Major Leaf” costume

$ 10,000 life savings

$ 1100 ready cash

Four-year old Chevy Malibu

Friday, September 10, 2010

Twenty Things That Can Happen During Hyperspace (Saga Edition)

One of the unfortunate things about hyperspace travel in Star Wars role-playing games is that it’s kinda boring: not a lot can happen, because the ship is travelling through an extra-dimensional wormhole. There’s no opportunity for random encounters because literally nothing external to the ship can affect it besides a massive gravity well in realspace. Near the end of my Clone Wars campaign, I decided to try to think up some ways to spice up hyperspace travel and thus was born the "Twenty Things That Can Happen in Hyperspace" table. I only had occasion to roll on it a couple of times, and the PCs had a lot of fun dealing with # 10. I tried to inflict # 5 on them, but their Fortitude Defenses were too high . . .

Twenty Things That Can Happen in Hyperspace
(roll a d20+d6 once during the trip)

2. Some of the food supply has been contaminated. Have each PC roll a DC 20 Fortitude check; success indicates they go down one step on the Condition Track while failure indicates they go down two steps on the Condition Track. The effects are Persistent conditions for 1d3 days.

3. One of the PCs notices a loose floor panel. Underneath, he or she finds something hidden there by a previous passenger or shipbuilder (roll a d6): 1) a 1000xd4 credit chip; 2) a body frozen in Carbonite; 3) a datapad journal containing clues to a hidden treasure; 4) highly-illegal contraband (Spice, disruptors, etc.); 5) a stowaway who has been surviving for weeks or months off of stolen food; 6) a bomb set to explode when the ship drops out of hyperspace or comes within range of a particular planet or ship.

4. The ship develops a radiation leak in the engine room; unless properly suited-up, anyone trying to fix the problem (which takes 1d6 rounds and a DC 20 Mechanics check) suffers Moderate radiation as per the back of the Core rulebook. If the radiation leak is not fixed, the ship drops out of hyperspace at a random location in 1d3 days.

5. One of the PCs (Patient Zero) is a carrier for a rare communicable disease. Although Patient Zero remains unaffected, any PC he or she comes into contact with must roll a DC 25 Fortitude check or go down one step on the condition track each day until falling into a coma. A DC 25 Treat Injury check (which can only be tried once per day) will move the patient a step up the condition track. Only an expensive medicine (1000xd10 credits) will completely cure the disease.

6. The ship suffers a glitch: roll percentile dice on the “Unreliable Results” table (Scum & Villainy p. 55) until a number between 01 and 50 is reached. The glitch takes a full-round action and a DC 15 Mechanics check to repair.

7. The ship suffers a failure: roll percentile dice on the “Unreliable Results” table (Scum & Villainy p. 55) until a number between 51 and 80 is reached. The failure takes a DC 20 Mechanics check and 1 minute to repair.

8. The ship suffers a disabling result: roll percentile dice on the “Unreliable Results” table (Scum & Villainy p. 55) until a number between 81 and 100 is reached. The disabled system takes a DC 25 Mechanics check and 1 hour to repair.

9. From a viewport, ghostly images of strange ships can be seen. Static will appear on the communications system, but faint voices can be discerned carrying cryptic messages about the future.

10. A computer glitch affects all doors with electric locks, jamming them closed, partially open, or slamming them shut at inopportune times. The glitch is deep in the bowels of the computer system, and requires a DC 30 Computer Use check to fix.

11. Alarms blare and investigation in the cockpit shows that, according to the Navicomputer, the ship will crash into a massive object once it reaches its hyperspace destination. The “massive object” is a glitch in the computer system and no actual harm will come to the ship unless the PCs try to have the ship drop out of hyperspace early.

12. Inorganic objects on board the ship begin to crumble into pieces; investigation and successful Knowledge: Physical Sciences will allow PCs to determine that the ship is infected with a carbon-based organism that feeds off of metal and other hard substances. A chemical spray can be developed, but it is highly volatile.

13. A routine systems check shows a small power drain coming from the ship’s outer hull. Once the ship drops out of hyperspace and an EVA search is possible, the PCs realize that a tracking device has been affixed to the ship and is transmitting their present location to person or persons unknown.

14. Pirates have used tractor beams to drag a massive asteroid onto a hyperspace lane, causing ships to suddenly drop out of hyperspace. The pirates may still be present (if the GM can flip to Threats of the Galaxy or has them written up) or there may only be the burned-out husk of a destroyed vessel present.

15. The ship’s intruder alert system (a factory-installed prototype, unknown to the PCs) malfunctions and targets the PCs with a variety of counter-measures, including turning off life support, high-G maneuvers, fire-suppression systems, etc.

16. The ship’s navi-computer indicates that the vessel has reached its destination, but the ship does not drop out of hyperspace and just keeps going and going until a DC 30 Computer Use check fixes the problem.

17. The ship has fallen into a strange hyperspace anomaly. Sometimes ghostly figures will be seen walking around on the PCs ship, and sometimes the PCs will find themselves walking around an unfamiliar ship. Only communication between the two ships will allow for normality to be restored to each.

18. When the ship drops out of hyperspace, an anomaly has altered the normal flow of time. It is 1d12 months later in the normal world than the PCs expected.

19. One or more air leaks have sprung up, and the ship is venting atmosphere. Unless the PCs find the leaks with DC 30 Search checks and plug them up, they will begin to suffocate in 3d20 hours.
20. A problem has developed with the ship’s water supply (either microbes have made it undrinkable for a computer glitch has vented it into space). After three days without water, a DC 20 Endurance check (increasing by 2 each additional day) must be made or the PC goes down a step on the condition track (Persistent)

21-26: Nothing Unusual Takes Place

What I Read (2007)

The last one of these for a while, unless I stumble upon another book log.

Jan. 2007 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling "Good book."

Jan. 23, 2007 Clark's Law by Jim Mortimore "Great Babylon 5 book about an execution on the station and the drama and moral tumult it causes."

Feb. 11, 2007 Treason Against God by Leonard W. Levy "History of blasphemy up to 1700."

Feb. 18, 2007 Blasphemy and the Law in Ireland by Neville Cox "As per title."

Feb. 28, 2007 Word Crimes: Blasphemy, Culture, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century England by Joss Marsh "Rambling and literary."

Apr. 4, 2007 Finding Lost by Nikki Stafford "A pretty interesting guide to the first 2 seasons of the show."

Apr. 7, 2007 Signs of Life by Frank Thompson "The first Lost novel I've read. It focuses on Jeff Hadley, an artist & teacher. I was pretty pleased with it."

Apr. 2007 The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies "Interesting books focused on art, scholarship, and opera."

Apr. 20, 2007 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling "Quite a fun read and the time travel plot was more sensible than in the movie."

Apr. 21, 2007 The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers "A really good Star Wars novel featuring soul-sucking, droid-powering aliens."

Apr. 24, 2007 Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers: Writers on Comics edited by Sean Howe "Average essays."

Apr. 26, 2007 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling "Harry and the Tri-Wizard tournament. Solid, but not as charming as others."

May 2007 These Our Actors by Ashley McConnell & Dori Koogler "A really good Spike & Willow story."

May 11, 2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling "A good book as Harry is forced to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts."

May 16, 2007 Serenity by Keith R.A. DeCandido "Novelization of the movie, adds some background."

May 18, 2007 Cloak of Deception by James Luceno "Star Wars novel set before Phantom Menace. Good insight into politics, but a bit slow."

May 22, 2007 Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen by Bob Greene "Basic story of W.W. II train depot."

May 28, 2007 A Brief History of Blasphemy: Liberalism, Censorship, and the Satanic Verses by Richard Webster "The first two chapters are very thought-provoking."

May 29, 2007 Beasts by John Crowley "A really engaging, deep book about a man-lion in a broken up USA."

June 2007 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling "# 6, looking forward to # 7!"

June 14, 2007 The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster "Obi-Wan, Anakin, Luminara, and Bariss Offee travel to Ansion to settle an internal dispute that might lead to secession. A bit draggy in the middle, but good political intrigue."

July 2, 2007 Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West by Alain Cabantous "Mostly focussed on French blasphemy from a cultural perspective."

July 8, 2007 The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton "A great Star Wars novel, full of humor and action."

July 8, 2007 The Philosophy of Humanism by Corliss Lamont "Fairly boring."

July 9, 2007 History, Philosophy, and Structure of the American Constitution by various authors "As per title, some conservative bias."

July 11, 2007 Star Wars Revised Core Rulebook (D20, second edition) "Needlessly rule-based."

July 26, 2007 Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress "An amazing thought-provoking novel about genetically-modified Sleepless. Social and political. Great."

July 31, 2007 Lost: Secret Identity by Cathy Hapka "A fairly boring Lost novel about a poor kid who pretends to be rich to impress his girlfriend."

Aug. 2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling "Action-packed final book."

Aug. 9, 2007 Star Wars: Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn "Story of a massive Jedi-led exploration project. Great portrayal of Master Ch'boath & Sidious."

Aug. 15, 2007 Flights of Love by Bernhard Schlink "A collection of really well-written short stories about different types of love. Recommended."

Aug. 15, 2007 Blasphemy and the Battle for Faith by F. Lagard Smith "Odd book on blasphemy from a conservative Christian perspective, with some interesting legal elements."

Aug. 16, 2007 Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry "The story of Prince Xizor's rivalry with Vader and entangled Skywalker. Starts weak but exciting ending."

Aug. 19, 2007 Blasphemy by David Lawton "Odd & unfocussed discussion of blasphemy in culture and literature."

Aug. 20, 2007 Rogue Planet by Greg Bear "Slow-moving Star Wars novel."

Aug. 21, 2007 The Touch of Your Shadow, The Whisper of Your Name by Neal Barrett, Jr. "Fifth B5 novel about an anger-inducing entity. Bog standard Star Trek-style. Disappointing.

Sep. 3, 2007 Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves "An excellent Star Wars novel featuring scoundrel Lorn Pavan and his sarcastic droid I-Five."

Sep. 4, 2007 The Firm by John Grisham "Fairly interesting thriller."

Sep. 12, 2007 Blackout by Keith DeCandido "A really strong Buffy novel set in 1977 New York and dealing with Spike and Nikki Wood."

Sep. 24, 2007 Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace edited by Kevin J. Anderson "A pretty good collection of short stories, tied together well."

Sep. 24, 2007 The Invention of Tradition edited by Eric Howbsbaum and Terence Ranger "Deathly boring."

Sep. 27, 2007 Endangered Species by Cathy Hopka "Lost book about a herpetologist used by environmental terrorists. Predictable and boring."

Oct. 1, 2007 Republic Commando: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss "Really interesting look at the mindset of Clone Troopers compared to Jedi. Bit of a sketched plot."

Oct. 10, 2007 Those Who Walk in Darkness by John Ridley "A really interesting look at super heroes and law enforcement in a 'Civil War' world."

Oct. 18, 2007 Republic Commando: Triple Zero by Karen Traviss "Inferior sequel, heavy on torture and executions."

Oct. 21, 2007 Tales of the Slayer, Volume 1 "A strong collection of mostly-grim Slayer stories. I especially liked the French Revolution one."

Oct. 31, 2007 Star Wars: The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter "Story of rescue of Boba Fett and destruction of the bounty hunters' guild. Okay."

Nov. 4, 2007 Wicked by Gregory Maguire "A really interesting revisionist history of the wicked witch of the West."

Nov. 6, 2007 The Ultimate Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gift "Interesting picture-book style novelization, with some trivia."

Nov. 13, 2007 Around the World with Auntie Mame "Enjoyable and funny collection."

Nov. 20, 2007 Republic Commando: True Colors by Karen Traviss "Third book, focussing on hunt for Kaminoan scientist to extend clones' life span."

Nov. 22, 2007 The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett "Story of a young girl learning she is a witch. Not as good as others."

Nov. 23, 2007 The Christmas Thief by Mary & Carol Higgins Clark "Crappy mystery about theft of Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree."

Nov. 25, 2007 Slave Ship by K.W. Jeter "2nd in Bounty Hunter Wars. Okay but w/ annoying amounts of thought-exposition during conversations."

Nov. 26, 2007 The Challenge of Pluralism: Church and State in Five Democracies by Monsma & Soper "Focuses on funding and education."

Nov. 27, 2007 All Men are Mortal by Simone De Beauvoir "Interesting & thought-provoking book about an immortal man, but a rushed ending."

Nov. 29, 2007 Ruins of Dantooine by Veronica Whitney-Robinson "Tie-in to online game. Interesting character and unique plot."

Dec. 1, 2007 Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress "Sequel to Beggars in Spain, thought-provoking but some gaps in necessary information."

Dec. 3, 2007 Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem "A spy in a Building tries to figure out his Mission, but is foiled at every turn. Interesting life metaphor."

Dec. 15, 2007 Mistletoe & Murder by Carola Dunn "A solid mystery featuring 1920s characters."

Dec. 14, 2007 Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover "Star Wars novel about Mace Windu trying to bring his Padawan back from the jungle. Quite dark!"

Dec. 16, 2007 Teasing Secrets from the Dead by Emily Craig "Stories from a forensic bone specialist, but not especially well-written or interesting."

Dec. 17, 2007 The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett "The Guards travel on a diplomatic mission."

Dec. 17, 2007 The Frost-Haired Vixen by John Zakour "Futuristic comedy with a sci-fi Christmas theme. Some humor."

Dec. 22, 2007 Going Postal by Terry Pratchett "Con-man forced to take over the post office. Enjoyable."

Dec. 20, 2007 The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks "Case studies of neurological disorders with interesting revelations about memory--it's all there!"

Dec. 23, 2007 Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris "Fourth in the series, as witches force Eric to lose his memory. A good entry."

Dec. 28, 20076 Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter "Last of the Bounty Hunters books, I'm glad it's over!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Minions [Cthulhu]

Minions is a 64-page, black and white soft-cover book in the Chaosium Cthulhu House series (meaning that it was "produced out-of-house by independent artists and authors"). Published in 1997, Minions is subtitled "Fifteen Brief Encounters" and is intended to provide brief standalone adventures or campaign plug-ins for a 1920s Call of Cthulhu game. Each of the mini-adventures comes with a map, newspaper clipping, or other type of player handout. Here are the fifteen scenarios (SPOILERS):

Serendipity involves one of the PCs getting hired as a lab assistant for a scientific research outfit, only to discover that a magickal Gate has been created. The scenario doesn't explain where the Gate leads or what (if anything) comes out of it, leaving it to the Keeper's imagination. To my mind, this scenario has several problems: (1) it really only works for a single PC; (2) the PC has to have a scientific background and be interested in full-time employment; (3) it's hard to drop in as a routine matter during a campaign; and (4) there's nothing interesting except for the discovery of the Gate (the consequences of which are not fleshed out) and thus the scenario doesn't save the Keeper any time or effort.

Six Foot Plot has an interesting hook: journal pages found in the possession of a PC's recently-deceased cousin tell of an experiment in immortality involving the cousin's lab partner being buried alive. With the cousin dead, the PCs are meant to start frantically searching for where the lab partner is buried in order to save his life as the hours tick down. As I said, an interesting idea, but the problem is there's no reason for the PCs to be in a hurry--they'll assume that if the experimental process has failed, the lab partner will have suffocated within minutes; and that if it worked, then there's no particular danger. Still, it's a creative idea that could work with a little tinkering and added motivation.

Terrible Head is a slight one-page encounter that starts with the hook of a patient desiring to visit a "qualified psychoanalyst" in the party. It basically involves the discovery of infant Nightgaunts. I really can't see getting a session's worth of gaming out of it, but could be a brief subplot for an alienist character.

The Last of Joy starts with one of the investigators receiving a letter from an old school friend, who requests the investigator to come visit at his seaside cottage. It turns out that the friend's "sick" wife is actually turning into a Deep One-like monster, and the PCs have to decide whether to try to save her or let her disappear into the waves. This scenario has a simple but effective hook and a good moral decision for the PCs to make. Presumably the Keeper should be ready with some background for how the wife became infected.

Lost Property requires a lot of rail-roading by the Keeper: he has to ensure one of the PCs finds a mysterious mystical amulet well in advance of running this scenario; that the PC decides to keep the amulet hidden in his or her own home; that the PC is dumb enough to invite a hurt ghoul into his or her house after an "auto accident"; and that the PC will either go to sleep or leave (with the ghoul still in the house!) so that the ghoul can be discovered looking for the amulet.

Circle of Friends has an odd hook: a pharmacist comes to the PCs with a bottle of wine, which, he has just discovered, contains a strange, well-preserved tiny octopus-like creature. I guess the PCs are supposed to be intrigued enough to investigate where this bottle came from, because the scenario (one of the longer ones in the book at five pages) leads to a coven of aristocratic would-be cultists and the possible summoning of a demon from beyond. As I said, I'm not sure about the hook but the story itself is passable, if a bit pedestrian.

Ghostnet starts with the PCs coming across a passage in a book published a few years previously that mentions a meteor is on its way to destroy the Earth. The PCs are supposed to track down the book's writer to investigate. Later, while on a small plane with the writer's daughter, the meteor coincidentally appears--but fortunately, it's much smaller than thought and doesn't create any sort of catastrophe other than carrying with it a Parasite of Daoloth.

Painted in a Corner also starts with the PCs coming across a passage in a book. Again (I'm not sure why), the PCs are supposed to want to track down the author of the book. As they arrive at his house, however, they discover that malign trees are blocking their way. If they make it inside the house, it turns out the author has been trapped in the house for weeks. The plot then gets a bit weird (involving the book's writer creating strange paintings somehow responsible for the evil outside), and the house will be besieged by the monsters. This scenario is a little more open-ended then some of the others and has the potential to make for some really tense drama as the PCs feel more and more like they're trapped in a no-win, no-escape situation.

Where Satan Fell puts the PCs on the trail of whatever was responsible for slaughtering an entire herd of cattle. No answers are provided, as the mini-encounter is concerned with the PCs falling into a hole full of maggoty dead rabbit carcasses. Very gross, I grant you that, but what the heck is the Keeper supposed to do after that?

Mouthbreathers is a decent scenario that sees the PCs traveling to an isolated English village to discover a pack of Deep Ones nearby. The Deep Ones aren't attacking people and are quite sick from being away from fresh water for several weeks, so the PCs are faced with an interesting question of what to do with them.

Horror Man is the first of five linked encounters. It has the PCs investigating a strange assault on a local bank clerk. The crime scene and victim interview could provide some interesting moments, but then the scenario summarily ends with no information on who the attacker really was--the PCs will discover that the victim can't lead them to the attacker, and that "there is no other line of inquiry worthy of the investigators' perseverance."

Stone Shifter takes place about a week later. Here, a quarry worker has been decapitated by a gravel crusher in what could only be murder. The PCs travel to the quarry to interview the victim's co-workers, and if they later decide to stake out the place will see the creature (a "Horror Man", zombie-like thing) responsible for the attack. The Horror Man does some interesting and creepy things, and if "killed" will vanish into thin air.

Crab Canon takes place later, after "any reasonable duration of recess." The PCs are intrigued by the announcement of an impending concert and decide to attend the performance. The music begins to drive people insane, a fire breaks out, and the performers are revealed to be Horror Men like the creature encountered in the previous scenario. PCs who investigate a trap door under the stage discover an outlandish contraption responsible for the strange music and the fact that Serpent People have been experimenting on cloning humans and have set-up a secret laboratory for the purpose. My description may make it sound cheesy, but it's really quite good. The scenario has some great atmosphere and mood to it, is creative, and has just the right touch of weird-horror elements. A great distillation of some of Lovecraft's more SF type of stories.

Lazy Eye takes place about a week after the destruction of the concert hall in the previous scenario. It's a much more basic encounter, involving four Horror Men having holed themselves up in the basement of a nearby house.

Watering Hole is the conclusion to the linked encounters. Following up on a tip about Horror Men sightings, the PCs are led back to the rubble of the burned-down concert hall. They discover that the Serpent People laboratory was not completely destroyed by the fire, and is still active. The last monstrous creation is set free and attacks the PCs, but they have a chance to stop the Serpent People's plans for good.

Taken as a whole, I wouldn't recommend Minions. Most of the encounters provided suffer from dubious adventure hooks and won't save the Keeper much prep time because he or she would have to fill in a lot of detail to make them playable. A handful of the encounters do include some clever and interesting ideas, and the Horror Man linked encounters could provide a few sessions of fun. The bottom line: I wouldn't pay a lot for Minions, but it's not worthless if it could be found cheap.