Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: The Draft

I'm stoked for another season of football, both real and fantasy. In real life, my Browns look like they'll improve on last year's 5-11 record, but more on that in a future post. Tonight was the big fantasy football draft. In 2009, I went 4-9 in the regular season but won both playoff games in the consolation bracket to finish # 7 out of 10 teams. In 2010, it was almost the reverse: I went 8-5 in the regular season, but dropped both playoff games to finish # 4 in the league. I'm looking forward to this season more than any other, because, with The Wife's encouragement, I organized the league and so I know six of the nine people running the other teams. This means a lot more of the best stuff about fantasy football: more trades, more trash talk, and more of the Royal Karameikan League's official motto: "Mock the Losers!" Even this year's draft itself was more fun, as there was a lot of chatter and discussion of picks. As in the past, I avoided reading up a lot on fantasy football strategy and instead relied on a combination of ESPN's projections and a lot of "that player looked great in preseason!". It's always satisfying to draft a player no one else knows about and have him turn out big: last year, I drafted little-known RB Peyton Hillis solely because I wanted a Brown on my team and he was knocking guys down in preseason games. Anyway, below are my picks for 2011 (in order) along with some commentary.

#6: Arian Foster, RB Texans Most teams in the league today operate on "running back by committee", so it was important to draft one early that sees the bulk of a team's playing time. Foster not only runs great, he catches a lot of passes out of the back field. I'm a touch nervous with that minor hamstring injury though . . .

# 15: Philip Rivers, QB Chargers I was hoping to snag Tom Brady again, but he went in the first round along with Aaron Rodgers and Mike Vick. Rivers isn't a QB I personally like, but he puts up a lot of yards and touchdowns, so I can't complain too much.

# 26: DeSean Jackson, WR Eagles This was my toughest early pick. I wanted a marquee wideout and Andre Johnson, Roddy White, and Larry Fitzgerald were all gone. The Football Outsiders 2011 Almanac predicts that Jackson will have a down year due to regression to the mean and his number of drops. My alternative was Calvin Johnson, but I'm not 100% sold on Stafford . . . so, Jackson it is.

# 35: Felix Jones, RB Cowboys It looks like the Cowboys have settled on him as their feature back, and I think they're going to have a revitalized team this year.

# 46: Chad Ochocinco, WR Patriots A little bit of a risk here, but Ocho seems to be dedicating himself to seriously getting back to being a #1 receiver and I know Tom Terrific will put the ball where he can get it.

# 55: Sebastian Janikowski, K Raiders According to The Wife, you should never draft a kicker before the final round. Hogwash! Janikowski has one of the strongest legs in the game, so I'm counting on some extra points from long field goals.

# 66: Jets D/ST I would have gone with the Steelers, as I think they're overall more consistent and don't get burned by blitzing too much like the Jets sometimes do. But they were already off the board, so Jets it is.

# 75: Benjamin Watson, TE Browns Not my first choice as starting TE, but I think he'll be Colt McCoy's favorite target this year and I needed a Brown on the team . . .

# 86: Tim Hightower, RB Redskins Won the starting job for the Redskins, and with their uncertain passing game I think he'll get a lot of carries, which not every bench fantasy back can say.

# 95: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Bills I think Fitzpatrick is poised for a big year, at least in terms of yardage.

# 106: Brandon Jacobs, RB Giants Jacobs will split time with Ahmad Bradshaw, but will still get close to half the carries. At this point in the draft, I just want to make sure I have back-up RBs who will play.

# 115: Lee Evans, WR Ravens I think Evans could be a Round 12 steal. He'll be the Ravens main deep threat, and I'm not too worried about his foot injury.

# 126: John Phillips, TE Cowboys I needed another tight end and he's looked great in some of the games I've seen him in even though he may not get a lot of playing time.

# 135: Chargers D/ST I read somewhere that the Chargers Defense was #1 in fewest yards allowed, and their special teams *have* to improve over last year's debacle.

# 146: Neil Rackers, K Chargers Took him purely because ESPN had him ranked as the highest kicker left on the board.

# 155: Darren Sproles, RB Saints More of a spot back I can stick in the RB/WR slot if necessary from time to time, confident he'll get me 3 to 5 points.

With these players, I feel set at every position except TE and maybe WR and I'll have to see what can be done through waivers and trades.

Comments welcome!

Hell Frozen Over: Chapter Two (Part One) [Buffy]

Tara stopped walking and looked around. She knew the forests around Sunnydale pretty well, but she didn’t recognize any of the trees around her. She put her hands on her hips and with a teasing smile said “Are you sure this is the right way?”
Willow stopped as well and walked back to where Tara was standing. It was an early fall evening, cool enough it seemed like they could walk forever, but not yet cold enough that either needed jackets. The last rays of the setting sun filtered down through the treetops. They were utterly alone.
“No,” Willow said. “I’m not.” She lifted her hands, palms up, and said “I don’t know what happened. I thought this was the way.” She placed her hands in the back pockets of her jeans and looked around for a familiar landmark. They were supposed to meet the others for a picnic, but where were they?
Tara’s eyes sparkled. “I think you planned this,” she said playfully. “Wanted to get me all to yourself so you could seduce and then ravish me. You vicious monster, you.”
“But all for the sake of love, m’lady,” Willow said, playing along.
Willow walked a few more steps and then shrugged. “I guess if we’re lost we’ll just have to make the best of it.”
Tara grinned and walked up behind her, placing her arms around Willow’s waist. Tara kissed her softly on the back of the neck.
Willow turned around and intercepted the next kiss. Tara’s lips were gentle but firm. Every time was like the first time, and Willow couldn’t believe how lucky she was to have found someone like her.
Tara pulled away slightly and looked around. “What if the others find us?” she said softly.
“I don’ t care,” Willow said with a grin.

“I love you,” Willow whispered in Tara’s ear as they lowered themselves to the ground.
--Ms. Rosenberg?

Willow started and looked around. Her classmates were staring at her—most with sympathetic faces, but some with mocking grins. In front of her, Professor Markin stood with her instructor’s copy of Jude the Obscure and an expectant look on her face.

“Now that you’re with us again, Ms. Rosenberg, would you care to discuss how Hardy--”

The bell rang and the other students began to hurriedly gather up their books—some of them had classes all the way across campus, while others just couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck in a classroom any longer than necessary. Willow distractedly gathered her belongings as well and headed for the door.

“Ms. Rosenberg? Do you have a moment? I would like to speak with you about . . . some things.”

Willow turned and looked back. Professor Markin was sitting in one of the student’s chairs in the front row. Because college instructors might teach in three of four different classrooms every day, they often had desks only in their own offices. Willow walked over and sat down across from her.

“Ms. Rosenberg—Willow—how are you feeling today?” She said it hesitantly, unsure of where the boundaries should be.

“Fine,” Willow replied.

“Good, good. Listen, I know things have been tough since your . . . friend passed away, and I know the grief counselors always talk about how important it is to try to keep up a normal routine, but . . . Well, the simple truth, Willow, is that the quality of your coursework has declined significantly, as has your grade for participation.”

Willow sat there, giving the appearance that she was listening carefully, but Professor Markin knew she was off in her own world again. Still, the instructor had had something on her mind for several days now and decided it was the time to say it.

“Willow? What I’m trying to say is that you’re not cutting it—and it just wouldn’t be fair to the other students if I gave you special treatment. Still . . . I just think it might be a good idea to consider your other options—just temporarily. It’s still early in the summer term. If you like, I can probably talk Administration into letting you drop the class without any permanent mark on your transcripts, and maybe you can sign up again for Fall Term—when things are . . . better.”

“Uh huh,” was all Willow said in reply.

Professor Markin tried one last time. “Willow, are you sure you’re okay? You know there’s plenty of people here for you to talk to if you need it.”

“I’m fine,” Willow said before picking up her books and leaving the room.

Willow left Sedgwick Hall—where most literature classes were held—and stepped outside. Down a small set of stone steps was a large open area called, imaginatively enough, The Square. It was one of the few green areas still left on campus, and the students had fought to keep it free from development. It was just after lunchtime and still rather busy. As she walked down the steps, Willow hardly noticed the students playing frisbee or talking, or trying to catch up on a week’s worth of reading in the five minutes before class started.

She cut across The Square and headed for her dorm. She didn’t say “hi” to anyone, and no one said “hi” to her. Although Tara’s murder was no longer the hot topic on a bustling campus like Sunnydale College, even those students the couple had been friendly with were unsure of how they should handle themselves around Willow. Should they act sad? Cheerful? Sympathetic? As if nothing had happened? Afraid of appearing awkward, most chose the easy way out and simply avoided her altogether.

Willow entered the residence hall and walked in the direction of her room. She stopped at the room next to her own—Tara’s. The door was closed, and there was no sign that anyone lived there. In fact, Tara’s room had been cleaned out and her things put in storage just a few days after she died. They had asked Willow if she wanted to help—but she didn’t.

And now it’s like she never existed. Because she doesn’t exist. Because she’s dead. When I’m seventy years old, Tara will still be dead. And she’ll never be seventy. Because she’s dead.
Willow continued on and opened the door to her own room. It still looked much the same as it always had—books on magic on the shelves, posters on the wall, mementos on the desk. But it was different as well. In one corner of the room sat a pile of the things Willow had received from friends and relatives after Tara’s death— cards, flowers, books on dealing with grief. All sat unopened and untouched. On the floor next to her bed was a large cardboard box—inside were things of Tara’s, both things Willow had saved and things that Tara’s relative had thought Willow might want. Candles, books, love letters, a rock shaped very roughly like a heart, a blue furry lobster.

Willow closed the door and sat on the edge of the bed. Her eyes were open but she didn’t really see anything.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Clone Wars Campaign: Naught, Droid Liberationist

Naught was an interesting PC created near the end of the campaign by the player who normally ran A'tel. Naught was a sentient droid who had rebelled against his owners and decided to fight for droid liberation while doing some bounty hunting on the side. The character had a brash, take-no-prisoners attitude and was found of calling humans and other organic beings "meat sacks." The group encountered Naught on Haruun Kal, and he joined them on a mission into the foreboding jungles of the planet. The character only appeared in one session, but received a cool (if dark) epilogue:

The Droid Naught is successful in taking his revenge on the procurement agent who had sinned against his fellow synthetic life forms. However, he is soon captured himself – and he suffers a terrible fate. He is reprogrammed by a bitter clone trooper and reset to his factory defaults – placed in servitude again as an entertainment droid, designated G8M1. However, deep inside a flicker of the synthetic being known as “Naught” continues to rage and clings to the chance of eventual escape.

2BR∅2B ("Naught")
Droid: Soldier 3, Scout 3, Bounty Hunter 8

Str: 16 (+3), Dex: 18 (+4), Con: N/A, Int: 16 (+3), Wis: 11 (+0), Cha: 9 (-1)

Hit Points: 106 (Damage Threshold: 31)

Speed: 6

Defenses (add 10 if not using house rules): Fortitude +21, Reflex +24/25, Will +14

Base Attack +13

Languages: Basic, Binary

Feats: AP: Light, AP: Medium, WP: Simple, WP: Pistol, WP: Rifle, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Martial Arts, Mechanical Martial Arts, Distracting Droid, Aiming Accuracy, Pinpoint Accuracy

Talents: Weapon Specialist (Rifle), Devastating Attack (Rifle), Uncanny Dodge I & II, Acute Senses, Improved Initiative, Familiar Foe 4, Hunter's Mark, Hunter's Target

Skills: Acrobatics +11, Climb +10, Deception +6, Endurance +7, Gather Info +6, Initiative +16, Jump +10, Knowledge: Tactics + 15, Mechanics + 17, Perception +14, Persuasion +6, Pilot +11, Ride +11, Stealth +11, Survival +12, Swim +10, Treat Injury +7, Use Computer +15

Droid Components: Heuristic Processor, Vocabulator, Hands, Walking Locomotion, Secondary Battery, Compartments (2 hidden), Locked Access, Comp Link, Diagnostic Package, Improved Sensor Package, Darkvision, Comlink (Internal), Translator, Internal Defences, Audio Enhancers, Credit Reader, Jump Servos, Climbing Claws, Internal Grapple Gun, Magnetic Feet, Spring Loaded Mechanism, Multi-Spectrum Search Light, ID Dodge, Interference Generator, Communications Jammer, Micro Shield Generator, Audio-Radial Stunner

Equipment: Knife, Spear, Blaster Pistol (hold out), Blaster Carbine, Slug Thrower Rifle, Mesh Tape, Security Kit, Tool Kit, Binder Cuffs, Blaster Pistol (heavy)

Background Intro:

"The club's music blared over the house's speaker system. I hunched over the bar fingering my blaster, the song that played over the speaker was one of mine. It comes from when I was a tool of the Maker serving my 'Masters' making them fists full of creds while I slaved away for the juice they gave me from a charging station. The song is the name I chose for myself when I decided to 'liberate' myself from the servitude of my masters. I used to be called EKO in a Droi-Band (or Synthetic Life Form Band depending on how much of a snob you are.) The band was called IMGR8 and the sond was 2BR02B (pronounced 2 bee or naught 2 bee,) when I turned on my 'masters' and taught them that I was just as sentient as their meat sack asses. I changed my hard wiring with the help of a few of the credits they earned on my tin back and a well-meaning splicer who was a fan of my band. My new designation was a nice clean one, simple Service Droid with nice legitimate software DRM in place and a clean service record slate for my Serial Key. The designation 2BR02B but I just go by Naught (or Naught-e if you're a really close friend.)"

Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hell Frozen Over: Chapter One (Part 2) [Buffy]

Rupert Giles hunched over a table in the library, peering closely at a chessboard. Although it was the middle of the school day, the library was quiet. It was distressing to think about how few Sunnydale students ever actually used the library, but at the same time, Giles was relieved that it allowed him time for more important things, such as helping Buffy slay vampires. And for playing chess, for example.
Giles reached out for the White bishop, but pulled his hand back at the last moment. He grinned. “I’ve got you now,” he said, and instead moved the White rook to the seventh rank. Then he stood straight up, walked around the table, and sat down at the opposite end of the table. “Oh, I don’t think it’s over yet,” he said.
“What’s not over?” Buffy asked, suddenly entering the room.
Giles jumped slightly, knocking over the Black chess piece he was just about to move. “Buffy. I didn’t notice you come in.” He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes before replacing them. “What were you saying?”
“I thought you said something,” she said, “about not being over?”
“Did I? Well. You’re here early, Buffy. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Just came by to chat. What are you doing?”
“Playing um, chess,” he replied, discomfited.
Buffy looked around. The library was empty except for herself and Giles.
“By yourself?” “
Well, yes. I find that a good game of chess helps me relax after time spent cataloguing and researching. It’s intellectually stimulating. When I move White, I play as Kasparov—but when I switch to Black, I play as Fischer.”
“Who?” said Buffy, with a confused look on her face.
“Well you see . . .” Giles went on, but Buffy completely tuned him out. Much like she did with her teacher in History class. Or in Algebra, for that matter. Moments passed, and when she looked up again, she realized that Giles was again completely engrossed in the chess set.
This was her opportunity, and she seized the chance.
“Anyway, I’m going to go ahead and take the weekend off.”
“Right,” he said distractedly, as Kasparov narrowly eluded Fischer’s brilliant pinning maneuver.
Buffy backed away slowly, knowing that if she could just make it out the door she would be home free. She tiptoed quietly and had just placed a hand on the latch when Giles turned and looked in her direction and thought to himself for a moment.
“Yes,” she turned around with an innocent look on her face.
“What was that you said? Did you say something about leaving for the weekend?” His eyes narrowed ever so slightly in her direction.
Buffy slowly walked forward, like a puppy that had been yelled at for chewing one too many socks. She explained to him about Arctic Ridge, about how it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, about how the Scooby Gang might be split up after graduation, and even how it was as if Fate were calling since school was canceled on Monday and part of Friday. In short, everything that worked on her mom.
Of course, none of it worked on Giles. He went on and on about how important it was for the Slayer to be ever alert, about how dangerous the Hellmouth was, and that even though things had been quiet for the last few weeks, in Sunnydale it was always just the calm before the storm.
Time for Plan B.
“Angel,” she said.
“Angel? What about him?”
“Well, he can be the substitute Slayer for a weekend. He knows everything there is to know about vamps and has informants all over town. He’ll hold down the fort, a quiet weekend will pass, and before you know it, I’ll be right back slaying demons left and right.”
“Buffy, I know this trip is important to you,” Giles said in his mentor voice. “However, being a Slayer is a grave responsibility.”
Buffy gave a wry smile.
“No pun intended,” Giles continued. “Although Angel has certainly been very helpful to us, he is not the Slayer. He has neither your training nor your knowledge.”
“I think Kendra mentioned something about periodic rests being recommended in the Slayer’s Handbook,” Buffy said. A white lie, admittedly. But a very small one.
Giles’ face lit up with a thoughtful look and he rubbed the back of his neck. “Yes, I suppose that is true. However—“
“Great,” Buffy interrupted. “Then it’s settled. I’ll talk to Angel and make sure you have a number to contact me if anything happens.” She turned and jogged towards the door.
Giles was about to call her back again, but he remembered the look on her face when she thought she had persuaded him. He simply couldn’t bear to have to disappoint her again. As she kept reminding him, she was just a teenager. And she was right—how many more opportunities would she have to enjoy being with her friends? Historically, the average lifespan of Slayers was rather short and—
Giles shook his head and decided not to follow that line of thought.
Within moments, Fischer was back on the advance.
Buffy rejoined Willow and Xander at lunch. Around them, freshmen and sophomores grumbled about cafeteria food or sack lunches. Almost all of the upperclassmen left campus for lunch, driving off in sporty red convertibles or beat-up pick-up trucks.
Xander chewed on a candy bar between swipes at a can of soda. “I did it,” he said. “I almost became a martyr for the cause, but I convinced Cordelia that we should all go together.”
“Awesome,” said Buffy, impressed. “So did you have to make googly-eyes at her or swear undying affection?”
“Not funny,” said Xander, even though everyone knew it was. “No, I simply explained to her the risks involved in a single, attractive girl driving hundreds of miles up remote icy mountain roads in the middle of probable blizzards. I think I might have even mentioned Stephen King’s Misery. Persuasion through fear,” he continued. “I think it’s the only reason girls ever go out with me.”
Willow patted his arm. “You just need to meet different girls. Girls who are kind, thoughtful, intelligent.” Like me, for example.
“In Sunnydale?” he retorted. “Right.”
Willow looked hurt, so Buffy decided to change the subject and told them of her success with Giles.
“Then we’re good to go,” said Xander. “Arctic Ridge Ski Resort, here we come.”
“You’re not going anywhere Harris!” said a voice from behind the group. The voice was like the jagged whine from a low-pitched buzz saw—but without the charm. They turned to see Principal Snyder standing there, arms crossed, head bald, and mouth curled into a smirk.
Xander silently wished groups of wild hyena-people could eat principals more often. Normally, he would have been intimidated by Principal Snyder’s presence. But this was the weekend they were talking about here, and it was clearly out of Snyder’s jurisdiction.
“Actually, sir, we were just discussing our plans for this weekend. You know, the small portion of each week when school’s not in operation?”
“Don’t get smart Harris,” Snyder said flatly. “Learning to work well with others is the key to a successful education. Plus it keeps troublemakers like you under wraps. That’s why I’ve volunteered you as a stagehand for the school play. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m.”
From the corner of his eye, Snyder saw a freshman trying to mock him. “Be there Harris, or be expelled,” he said, turning to go after the disobedient student.
“Man, freshmen don’t know anything,” Buffy said, as they all breathed a sigh of relief that Snyder was gone. “That kid is totally dead.”
“I’m sorry, Xander,” Willow said in a comforting voice. “The Bronze just won’t be the same tonight without you.”
“So you’ll skip it and come help me out at the play instead?”
“Can’t. Oz is going to be there.”
“And I’m supposed to meet Angel,” Buffy added.
“Great,” Xander sighed, clearly disappointed. But then he shrugged and added “That’s okay—I hate disco anyway.”

That's Cold. Funny, But Cold.

From Lindy's Sports Pro Football 2011 Preview:

"[Tennessee Titans] Owner Bud Adams turned to Hall-of-Fame guard and offensive line coach Mike Munchak to take over as coach. Then the team shocked some by using the eighth overall selection in the draft on Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Adams, 88, has said many times he wants to win a Super Bowl before he dies. These moves may require Adams to invest in a time machine for that to happen."

Clone Wars Campaign: The Altered

The Altered are a race of genetically-engineered Arkanians, confined thousands of years ago to a remote colony deep within the Arkanian Nebula. Bio-modified to be brilliant and able to function without sleep, the colony quickly developed technology far in advance of anything else in the galaxy. Over time, The Altered developed a rigid society divided into various clans, called Steadfasts. The number of Steadfasts dwindled as The Altered dwindled due to low birth rates, as well as the lure of transhumanism represented by The Accelerated.

The PCs took the treacherous journey to the planet of The Altered in an attempt to rescue Tarn Tamarand from The Accelerated. While there, they successful engaged in manipulation and intrigue to overthrow the Speaker of The Altered and learn the secrets of their relationship to The Accelerated. Each Prime (leader) and Second (lieutenant) of the five remaining Steadfasts are detailed below, with notes on their main desires and fears that could be used as levers by the PCs. In the "Marks" category is how each is initially disposed towards the PCs, with zero being "neutral", and I kept track of how the PCs actions changed each ranking.

Prime: Leisha Camdeni
Marks: Negative Four
Fears: Domination by Accelerated; Loss of More Residents (from over 60 Steadfasts to Five)
Interests: Triv, Stability, a Second
Will Defense: + 30, Hit Points: 40
Secret: Kronos is returned and will soon be be awakened
Second: (unofficially) Triv Camdeni
Wants: A Family, Leisha’s Success, To Prove Himself
Marks: Negative Four
Stealth: +15, Will Defense: + 15, Hit Points: + 25
Prime: Praxeus Domanidrus
Marks: Negative Three
Fears: Boredom, Rejection
Interests: New Technology, Acceleration?, Designs/Maintains Systems
Will Defense: +20, Use Computer/Knowledge Technology +35, Hit Points: 30
Secret: Has been in contact with Accelerated about entire steadfast ascending
Second: Iagos Aurellius
Marks: Negative Two
Wants: Praxeus to Accelerate so he will head the Steadfast
Fears: Status Quo
Secret: Sleeps with Sangla’ and shares info
Will Defense: +25, Hit Points: 60
Prime: Eron 14
A Thin, Weak-Looking Fellow With a Vapid Look On His Face and Visible Neural Implant Sites
Marks: Negative Three
Fears: Real Life, Responsibility & Decision Making (supports Leisha reflexively)
Interests: The Dream, and New Phenomenon for the Dream
Will Defense: + 15, A Likely Flake (forgetful), Hit Points: 30
Secret: Was hooked on addiction by Sangla’
Second: Eron 15
Marks: Negative Two
Wants: Escape (needs Leisha’s and Eron 14’s Permission)
Fears: Continued Seclusion
Will Defense: + 20, Hit Points: 55
Secret: Plans to sneak aboard the incoming vessel
Prime: Sangla’
A Sixtyish Woman Who Gives Kittenish Looks
Marks: Negative Two
Wants: Pleasure
Fears: Boredom, Rejection
Will Defense: + 25, Hit Points 45
Secret: Sleeps with Iagos Aurellius for info, hooked Eron 14 on dream
Second: Sangla’ Annex
A Strapping Young Man Whose Muscles Are Clearly Visible Through His BodySheathe
Marks: Negative Two
Wants: To Please Mistress
Fears: Displeasing Mistress
Will Defense: + 20, Hit Points: 125
Secret: Sometimes does away with those who reject his Mistress, Including Mazrim’s Son
Prime: Mazrim
A Man With Steel-Gray Hair, cut short, in his early fifties with a Piercing Stare
Marks: Negative One
Wants: To Be Speaker
Fears: Exposure, Shame
Will Defense: + 35, Hit Points: 175
Secret: Actually Sleeps

Second: None (Son, Before Naming Day, Sent to Excess)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where Are They Now? [RPG]

I've posted a lot of RPG characters on this blog over the past few years shortly after character creation. But for the most part, I've failed to mention what happened to them in the actual game. So here goes the Jhaeman's Detritus version of VH-1's Where Are They Now?

Abu Joral, Desert Mystic helped defeat a cult operating in the sewers of Waterdeep during a three-session Fourth Edition D&D game, but has not yet discovered the Worldbreaker.

Alexious, the Self-Decapitating Bard isn't really in need of a status update. Dude accidentally decapitated himself during a bar fight. The end.

Alhambara, Arch-Vizier of Mulhoric appeared in three sessions of a Pathfinder game and was quite fun to role-play: domineering, senile, and powerful. He went through a satisfactory character arc, regaining his stolen memories at the end of the game.

Antoine Marenne, the Ringmaster helped put the kibosh on a super-villain named The Phoenix during a short Heroes Unlimited game.

Charlotte Queen, Private Investigator and Nathan Castle, True Crime Writer, back-up characters designed for a modern-day Call of Cthulhu adventure, have never yet managed to appear in a gaming session.

Gabriel Knight, Private Investigator is still trapped in cliffhanger-limbo at the bottom of a rapidly-filling grain silo.

John Wilbert Dill, Spiritualist still probably never appeared in an actual session.

Major Leaf, Canadian Super Icon appeared in a few sessions of a Heroes Unlimited game. Upright and bombastic, he was very much a caricature of what would happen if Superman and Captain America were thrown into a blender. He helped uncover the sinister plot of the evil SerpaCore, but unfortunately the planned big showdown against the mini-campaign's major super-villain never took place.

Neville Robideaux, Noble Impersonator appeared in My Worst Gaming Experience Ever and never did finish delivering an unnamed item necessary to deter an unnamed evil to "the Elves."

Nphreg & Stantusta are presumably still wandering around the Forgotten Realms somewhere, with the latter's one-handededness impeding his ability to use a spetum.

Roddy McCallister, Itinerate Gravedigger was exceedingly creepy and extremely good at cracking skulls in a never-completed modern-era Call of Cthulhu adventure, and his personality was so memorable that I brought him back as an NPC in a Depression-era game, wherein he was infected by mind-altering worms and succeeded in killing a PC by cracking the poor fellow over the head with his shovel.

Secret Ninja Druid died before reaching level two, and it was probably a good thing.

Stiegg Salander, Finnish Secret Agent appeared in one session of a D20 modern game that started off with all the characters "burned" (their secret identities blown). Stiegg was approached to become a member of a secret, Freemason-like benevolent organization and, after some resistance, agreed to it. In his first mission, he proved somewhat useless in the assassination of a powerful drug dealer.

Tallossin Trailmarker and Sarabian Drowslayer unfortunately appeared in just one session of a Labyrinth Lord campaign, but they were a blast to play and both lived to fight another day, successfully killing some kobolds and giant rats.

Temeris Reginald Cottingswald III, Naive Explorer has quickly become one of my all-time favorite characters. He's appeared in fourteen sessions of adventures as part of the Royal Karameikan Fist Adventuring Company, and continues to get into all sorts of trouble with his high-spirited, naive ways. As of the most recent session, he's been turned to stone by a basilisk!

The Contessa appeared in just one session of a Doctor Who game, but stylishly prevented some sort of music-related disaster from destroying London.

Urtavius Belerophon was last seen in the foreboding mists of Ravenloft with a menagerie of summoned undead. He's a level four character, and I need a level four character now that Temeris is turned to stone . . . could this be fate?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jhaeman's Library # 5

As the cover to this issue (# 5) indicates, # 4 didn't arrive on time to Legends and so #4 and #5 appeared as a double-issue. Wintrhop Worthington III vs. Mystery House--who will win the coveted spot as official mascot of Jhaeman's Library? (Travel back in time eight years and cast your votes now!) This somewhat sparse issue featured a review of Bats, Cats & Cadillacs and the second half of my Criminal Defence comic script--something I'll post one of these days if I can figure out a reasonable method of getting it from the printed page to this blog.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hell Frozen Over: Chapter One (Part 1) [Buffy]

“No, absolutely not,” said Joyce Summers, hoping she said it with conviction. She poured herself another cup of coffee and waited for the inevitable to begin.
“But Mom,” Buffy continued, “this is our junior year of high school. Next year we’ll be seniors and then who knows what’s going to happen to us after graduation—Willow could go to M.I.T., Xander could go to . . . well, whatever school would take him. The point is that this may be the last chance we’ll have to really be together and bond, away from high school and this one-coffee-bar town. Don’t you remember what it was like when you were a teenager?”
“But that’s what I’m saying,” said Joyce, hoping her weakening resolve wasn’t showing. “Buffy, you’re not even seventeen. A trip halfway across the country, to a strange place, for a whole weekend. This isn’t like you’re going to a sleepover down the street.”
“C’mon Mom, I’m a big girl, remember? Willow and Xander will both be with me, so what could go wrong? And besides, Willow checked this place out on the Internet—she said it’s listed as like one of the safest ski resorts in the country.”
A small lie—Willow had checked out the ski resort on the Internet, but reported only that she had trouble finding much on it besides the gorgeous pictures on the resort’s own site. She kept talking, knowing that if she could keep it up just a little longer, her mother would cave.
“And really, how often do you win a free weekend of skiing, all expenses included?” Buffy had been surprised at her luck when her name came up at the Sunnydale High drawing. But it’s about damn time something good happened to me, she thought. Even better, Willow had won a ticket as well. The other two tickets were won by students they didn’t know very well, but that could be fixed.
“You’ve never even been skiing. I don’t think you’ve ever seen snow except on television. You might hate it,” said Joyce, with an abundance of parental concern. “Is there even going to be any snow this time of year?”
“It’s the mountains. It always snows, or they fake it, or something. I’m not really sure. But I’m sure it’ll be fun—kinda like ice skating, except different. And hey, if it’s boring, I’ll just sit in the warm lodge and ogle all the guys while sipping on hot cocoa.” They both smiled at this.
Joyce’s eyes sparkled—she had missed the obvious. “Well anyway honey, I know you really want to go, but of course I can’t let you miss two days of school. It’s simply impossible.”
“Got that covered,” Buffy replied, with a hint of triumph in her voice. She had found out about the resort yesterday, and had been strategizing since. Sixteen-plus years of practice was starting to pay off. “Friday is teacher in-service—only half a day of school. Monday is fall break, no school. We’ll leave at noon on Friday, spend Saturday and Sunday on the slopes, and Monday we’ll be back in plenty of time for school on Tuesday.”
Joyce chuckled to herself, realizing once again that her daughter had it all figured out. If only Buffy would join the debating club or something and put her skills to good use . . . Joyce still felt uneasy about letting her go. Spending a summer with her father was one thing—at least Joyce knew that she was being looked after. But a weekend without supervision, not even in the same state? I guess I’m just going to have to get used it, she thought to herself. Year after next she’ll leave for college, and then who knows what.
“Great I’ll—“
“But I want to know who you’re going with, how you’re going to get there, and I want you to call me every night.”
No matter how old she got, Buffy would always be her little girl.
“What’s the sitch?” asked Xander, as Buffy walked towards him and Willow. They were sitting on the bench out in front of Sunnydale High, where they always met before school. Around them, students milled about, dreading the first morning bell. The excitement of the first few weeks of a new school year had already worn off, and all that was left to look forward to were months of endless exams, quizzes, and assignments until winter vacation finally came.
“Mission accomplished,” replied Buffy.
“Did you have to pull out the stake and holy water?” teased Willow.
“Nope, just a lot of persuasion and maybe a little bit of guilt.”
“Guilt is good. Usually works with my parents too,” said Willow.
“Not for me,” Xander put in. “Then again, my folks disavow any responsibility for my existence.” His
thrift-store clothes and lopsided smile marked him out to other students as the prototypical slacker.
Willow and Buffy giggled.
Buffy looked at Xander. “And speaking of your continued existence, were you able to get your ticket?”
Although Willow and Buffy had won theirs in the contest, Xander would be left in Sunnydale unless he could convince one of the other two winners to sell or trade him their ticket.
Xander’s face showed an affected expression of wounded pride. “Well, of course. You’re talking to the Xan-Man, the knight of negotiation, the baron of bargaining, the prince of um . . .”
“Parley?” Willow said helpfully.
“Sure. Anyway, yes, of course I got the ticket. Josh Bailey will be spending yet another boring and/or life- threatening weekend in the Dead Zone, while I’ll be at beautiful Arctic Ridge, zooming down the slopes.” He fished the ticket out of his jeans pocket and read from the back of it. “Two full days and nights of skiing, free lift tickets, equipment rentals, and room reservations. Plus all the hot ski-bunnies a guy could ever ask for.”
“You never did tell me what you had to give him for it,” said Willow.
“Well, you see, there may have been a reason for that,” replied Xander. “I kind of had to promise him you would tutor him in trig for the rest of the semester.”
She leaned over and playfully punched him in the arm.
“Ow, what was that for?” said Xander, rubbing an imaginary bruise on his shoulder.
She punched him in the arm again harder and smiled. “And that one’s for asking.” She looked over at
Buffy and winked. “Everyone’s been saying I should be more assertive. I thought I’d start with Xander.”
Buffy smiled and looked at her watch. Another few minutes and classes would start.
“Great, then it’s all set,” she said. “This is going to be the best weekend ever. We’re just like the Three Musketeers, the Three Amigos, the
uh, the Marx Brothers.”
“Right,” said Willow, following up. “I’ll be Groucho, and Buffy can be Harpo.”
“Who does that leave me?” said Xander. “You get to be Karl,” said Willow, deadpan. Unfortunately, the crack flew right over both Buffy’s and
Xander’s heads.
Just then, Willow remembered the conversation she had had with her father the night before. Although the plan was that they would borrow her dad’s car for the trip, he refused because he thought it wasn’t the kind of car to handle mountain roads. This left them without transportation, and possibly stranded in Sunnydale. Just as she was explaining this to her friends, their conversation was interrupted by a familiar, if not grating, voice nearby.
Queen Cordelia was holding court nearby, gesticulating wildly while holding a small piece of paper in her hand. “And so then I said ‘My God, that shirt is like so Leave It To Beaver. And even the Partridge boys would have rejected those pants as out-of-date. Can you get more disgusting?’ And then I think I actually saw him start to tear up. So anyway, I told him that if he gave me his ticket, I wouldn’t tell everyone how he was such a big loser.”
“But Cordelia, you are telling everyone,” said one of her friends.
“Excuse me, interrupt much?” Cordelia snapped. “Anyone can tell just by looking at him that he’s an inhabitant of Dweebville. So now all we have to do is find out which other three losers have tickets, get them, and I’ll pick which of you get to go on a fabulous ski vacation with me. Plus, my father said I could borrow his new SUV for the trip.”
Her friends’ faces lit up, and they began to gossip and look around to see who had the other tickets.
“Well,” said Buffy, looking at Willow and Xander. “Willow, if your dad won’t let us borrow his car, we’ll going to have to find alternative means of transport.”
“I agree completely,” said Willow.
They both looked at Xander. He looked at them, not comprehending, before he realized what they wanted. “You want me to try and talk the Ice Queen herself into letting us ride along with her?”
“Well, you are the—what was that Willow said? ‘The Prince of Parley’? Anyway, Cordelia despises me and mocks Willow. I’m sure that if the ‘Xan-Man’ can’t do it, then nobody can,” Buffy finished.
Xander shook his head slowly. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m not exactly number one on her ‘I-want- to-spend-a-weekend-with’ list either.” Xander hoped he was being sufficiently convincing—if either Willow or Buffy found out that he and Cordelia had kissed, he would never live it down.
“Xander, as much as Cordelia may dislike you, she despises us even more. You’re our only chance.”
“Okay, I’ll do it. One for all and all for one and all that . . . But I won’t like it.”
“Courage under fire, that’s our Xander,” said Willow, smiling.
“I’ll need some courage myself,” said Buffy. “I still have one last obstacle in my path, one last encounter to deal with before I can leave for Arctic Ridge in good conscience.”
“Evil blood-sucking vampires?” said Willow. “
“Undead, brain-eating zombies?” said Xander.
“Witches?” said Willow.
“Nope, Xander’s handling Cordelia,” joked Buffy. “No, my battle will be far worse. There is only one creature that can stand between me and a weekend of freedom from the Hellmouth. And its name is . . .” Buffy paused for effect.