Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Buffy the Vampire Slayer # 13
Friday, September 24, 2010
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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.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
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 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.
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).
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”
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)
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)
Wrestling: Pin on 18-20, + 1 roll w/ punch, +2 P.S., +1 P.E., +4d6 (14) S.D.C.
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
Medical Doctor: 95% to diagnose, 85% to treat
Read Sensory Equipment: 65%
Weapon Systems (+1 strike): 75%
Motor boat: 90%
Jet Aircraft: 74%
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.
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%
Radio: Basic: 50%
Computer Operation: 45%
Business & Finance: 40%
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
Radiation: Tiniest level reduces all physical attributes by half.
Carrying Capacity: 440 pounds
Lifting Capacity: 880 pounds
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
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
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):