Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pools of Darkness [BOOKS]

Pools of Darkness is a semi-sequel to Pool of Radiance, set a decade after the events in that novel.  The three main characters are back: Ren, the ranger-thief, is still adventuring on his own, while Tarl and Shal have gotten married and have settled down in Phlan.  The plot of the book concerns a far-fetched plan (if such things are possible in fantasy novels) by the evil god Bane to kidnap several cities from the Moonsea and drain the souls of the inhabitants.  Well, Phlan doesn't plan to go down without a fight, and withstands a lengthy siege by an army led by a Red Wizard of Thay named Marcus and a pit fiend.  Some new heroes are also introduced, including a couple of unmemorable druids, a wizard, and a kinda cool undead paladin named Miltiades.  For me, it was overall rather mediocre--but I don't have any recollection of playing the computer game it was based on, so there's also no nostalgia factor like there was for Radiance.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Castle Ravenloft: Bonus Adventure: "Zombie Guards of Castle Ravenloft"

There are two official WOTC supplementary adventures for Castle Ravenloft (online here).  The Wife and I tackled the first one tonight, "Zombie Guards of Castle Ravenloft" and found it a cakewalk.  Basically, it's the standard "turn over tiles until the exit appears" scenario with the minor wrinkle that additional zombies will appear.  After surviving the rigors of all the regular scenarios, this wasn't a problem at all, and we didn't even have to use any healing surges.  Basically, we just had everybody split up and turn over tiles as quickly as possible and then vamoosed when the Secret Stairway tile appeared.  For those who haven't finished the adventures in the book, I'd suggest doing this one early.

Monday, September 17, 2012

RealmsToowoomba Recap # 7 [RPG]

Session # 7 Recap

[10 Tarsakh 1372]

 During his watch in the early hours of morning, Nakor hears a suspicious sound. When he goes to investigate, he sees a small figure climbing a tree outside of the group's camp. Nakor rouses the others and together they move to confront the potentially hostile intruder. However, conversation with what turns out to be a female gnome reveals no danger. Instead, the gnome claims to have followed a set of tracks to where the party was camping. She says that the caravan she was guarding was mysteriously attacked while she was away hunting, and on her return a dying merchant could utter only the word "Grim" before passing away. To everyone's surprise, the dwarf Fargrim bristles at the word: he knows that Grim is the masked leader of a murderous gang of bandits and outlaws. The group invites their gnomish visitor to join them on the trip to Mirabar with a promise to Fargrim to keep a close eye out for any signs of Grim.

After a few hours of rest, the group gets ready to continue travelling off-road and cross-country towards Mirabar. Before they leave, Mellia, Markus, and Cain decide to see if they can discern anything else about the source of magickal emanations inside the steel box chained to Cain's wrist. They are able to learn that it involves an aura of abjuration magic, but nothing more. The rest of the day's travel passes uneventfully, but the group covers little ground as it moves cautiously to avoid being spotted by Luskan patrols.

 [11 Tarsakh 1372]

With rations running low, the group decides to split up and hunt for fresh game while they walk. Busy pursuing a fleeing deer, Nakor and Fargrim don't realize they're heading straight towards a Luskanite campsite until it's too late! The two soldiers tending the campfire leap up and begin to advance, but their steps turn tentative when they see Fargrim's frightening expression and masterwork longsword. Nakor pretends to call back to unseen allies, and it's all too much for the two Luskanites as they flee for reinforcements. Fargrim and Nakor are able to make it back to the others safely, but it's clear the Luskanites haven't given up chasing the group for being supposed murderers.

[12 Tarsakh 1372]

 The group again travels east cautiously towards Mirabar. A long debate ensues as to whether they should try to open the three mysterious steel boxes, but no conclusion is reached.

 [13 Tarsakh 1372]

 In the middle of the afternoon, the group reaches the banks of the Black Raven River, flowing from the Spine of the World south to join the River Mirar. Large chunks of ice slowly float down its course, and for a brief moment the group considers the idea of jumping from block to block to cross. The idea is discarded, however, in favour of sending the gnome south to where a bridge crosses the Black Raven. It is dark when she arrives, but a guard of four Luskan soldiers can easily be seen lit by torchlight on the western side of the bridge staring down two dwarves on the eastern side. The gnome manages to slink off without being seen and apprises the group of the situation. They decide on a plan where the gnome, who is not being sought by the soldiers, will create a distraction to draw them south while the rest of the group approaches the bridge from the north and sprints across.

The first part of the plan comes off well: the gnome summons mysterious floating lights and magically creates the sound of several people talking, and then rides towards the soldiers quickly on horseback shouting that a group is trying to cross the river to the south. Two of the Luskan soldiers rush off to investigate, leaving just two behind. The rest of the group approaches from the north, but there the plan breaks down: instead of sprinting across, the group gets drawn into a fight against the determined soldiers. Cain takes a vicious blow to the head but somehow continues standing. After several seconds of furious combat, the members of the group manage to extricate themselves from the fighting and make it across the halfway point of the bridge, where the dwarves, responding to Fargrim's hail, stand firm against the three surviving Luskanites.

The leader of the Luskanite patrol is relucant to start a war by attacking the dwarves from Mirabar, but he threatens to hunt the party down to the very ends of Faerun if they don't turn themselves over for justice and a trial in Luskan. He accuses them of having murdered and decapitated the Third High Captain. He points to the fact that Cain, Nakor, and Fargrim still wear the tabards of the Third High Captain's house as proof that they infiltrated his home as servants in order to murder him in his bed. The trio hotly deny the accusation. As proof of their innocence, Nakor offers to let the Luskanites search the boxes they are carrying. With some mighty blows from their weapons, the Luskanites snap off the lock on the box that Nakor is carrying, and out tumbles the decomposing head of the Third High Captain!

The Luskanites hurl themselves at the group, heedless of the consequences. A difficult fight ensues in the middle of the bridge. With the aid of the two stout dwarves from Mirabar, the group manages to hold the line, however. Fargrim dishes out pain with his sword, while Marcus manages to skilfully disarm and demoralize two of the Luskanites. Cain stays to the back but effectively heals his allies, while the gnome and Nakor fire arrows (largely ineffectively) from a distance. Out of spells, Mellia resorts to clever tricks to try to distract the Luskanites and aid her companions. Before long, the Luskanites are defeated, albeit with one having managed to escape.

 The group emerges victorious, but the plot has thickened: why have they been framed for the murder of the Third High Captain, and what's in the other two steel boxes? Will they manage to track down the cruel bandit Grim? And what of the nightmares three of the group have been cursed with—-what do they mean, and will they recur?

Director's Commentary (June 25, 2013)

There's repeated mention of a gnome in this session, but a name is never given.  Why?  Well, in something I've never seen before, that gnome was a new PC whose player couldn't decide on a name for three sessions! The player eventually settled on Ellywick after I pointed out a list of sample names in the PHB because it was getting downright weird to keep referring to "the gnome" when all the other players had such detailed backgrounds for their PCs.  Ellywick actually appears off and on for a long time in the campaign, but because of spotty attendance and little investment in the character, the player was never able to make Ellywick more than a fringe addition to the group.

The second altercation on the bridge is memorable to me because the PCs were effectively in the clear: the Luskanites were quite suspicious, but felt they didn't have enough to go on to risk a war with Mirabar over it.  Nakor's volunteering to open the boxes, however, proved disastrous!  It's funny to remember how low level the PCs are for this, as I haven't seen Mellia run out of spells in a long, long time!  Markus, the replacement character for the player who ran Rolen until he got bored with him, was crafted very specifically to be awesome at disarming and it showed in this session.

At the point in the campaign where I'm writing this (around Session # 44), the PCs have not conclusively solved the mystery of why they were framed and have never returned to Luskan.  As a bonus XP exercise, I did solicit the players to provide their best reasoned answers and received some very good explanations (the accuracy of which, of course, I neither confirmed nor denied).

Next Recap

RealmsToowoomba Recap # 6 [RPG]

Recap # 6

[6 Tarsakh 1372]

In the Northern city of Luskan, travellers from afar quickly become acquainted while staying in the city's only proper inn, The Seven Sails. Built to look like a ship, the massive building has rooms for dozens of travellers and provides elegance and comfort while simultaneously allowing Luskan's authorities to keep an eye on suspicious newcomers. Two such newcomers, a wizard from Shadowdale named Mellia Nightflower and an adventurer from Sembia named Markus Kassul III, are approached by a greasy haired man in dirty clothing. He offers the pair a substantial payment in gold if they agree to protect and "escort" couriers from Luskan to Mirabar the next day. Accompanied by a huge, burly figure in a cloak and hood, the potential employer seems suspicious even though both newcomers could use the gold. Mellia says she needs a night to think about it.

[7 Tarsakh 1732]

Come morning, Mellia has made up her mind; she and Markus accept a purse full of gold coins from the greasy haired man and split them up. Mellia notices that every single one of the coins has been minted in Mirabar, a somewhat unusual find. The pair makes their way to the city gates.

Meanwhile, Fargrim, Cain, and Nakor suffer terrible nightmares of undead armies, the enslavement of humanity, and the burning of their homelands. The words of the priest of Myrkul as he died echo in their minds "I curse you with the knowledge of where your doom shall originate, and the knowledge that you will be too weak to stop it!" As their fevered dreams finally begin to dissipate, they are filled with a dread certainty that everything will begin somewhere directly to the east.

Along with Rolen, they awake in the hold of The Woeful Tide, chained to a beam. They witness First Mate Gristle bragging about his role in "putting down the mutiny" to an impassive woman wearing a fur-lined ice-blue dress. She heals the imprisoned adventurers to improve their value as slaves in exchange for some of the magic items they carried. After she leaves, Gristle has his men lead the adventurers to the main deck and then down the gangplank where the ship is docked in Luskan. There, they undergo scrutiny from potential buyers. Rolen is snapped up by a wealthy looking man who claims he needs a guide to Calimshan, and that he'll set the monk free after the job is finished.

Potential purchasers for the others are put off by Gristle's misguided talk about how tough and stubborn they were in the mutiny, but eventually they are purchased by a greasy-haired man and a veritable giant in a cloak and hood. The three adventurers are pushed into the back of a wagon and covered with a tarp. Soon, they find themselves in the interior of what looks like a little-used warehouse. The greasy-haired fellow offers them a proposition: deliver parcels for him to Mirabar and receive their freedom, or be returned to Gristle. The three agree and each receives a suit of leather armor and tabard, a short sword, some rations, and small steel box with is attached by chain to their wrists. The greasy-haired man says a withering curse will take effect if they try to open the boxes, but Nakor thinks he's probably lying.

The trio are taken again by wagon to the city gates, where they meet their two "escorts": Mellia and Markus. Soon after the group passes out of the city gates, a hue-and-cry goes out: "The Third High Captain has been murdered!" Guards and merchants tussle as the former tries to close the gates and the latter try to hurry their caravans in, but the group continues. As they walk the road to Mirabar, they talk about the strange circumstances under which they were hired. It also becomes clear that only Fargrim knows the area well.

After four or five hours of walking, the group hears the approach of a rider cresting a bluff behind them. He's clearly a Luskanite soldier, and when he spots the group he shouts behind him, "I've found the murderers!" Nakor fires an arrow at the group but misses, and the scout and four other mounted soldiers charge the group, longswords drawn. Mellia instantly renders two of them helpless via a well-cast Sleep spell, but the others continue on. The fight is a brutal and bloody melee, which the adventurers barely survive thanks to a stock of healing potions carried by Markus. One of the soldiers escapes, promising to return with reinforcements, so the group decides to leave the road for the time being.

Heading north into a lightly-forested area, the group makes camp in a thick clump of trees that they hope will shield them from sight. All are badly hurt, and only time and Cain's healing spells will enable them to recover.

[8 Tarsakh 1372]

The group continues to rest and heal.

[9 Tarsakh 1372]

The group continues to rest and heal.

[10 Tarsakh 1372]

In the early hours of morning, before dawn has arisen, Nakor notices something during his watch.
Director's Commentary: June 3, 2013

Now we're cooking with gas!  The introduction of Mellia in the campaign reflects The Wife's return from a lengthy visit to Canada.  With Boomer sleeping in a room adjoining the dining room, we had to move from playing on a table to playing on some pushed-together coffee tables in the living room.  More work to set up (as now I couldn't just leave everything there between sessions, as tiny hands can cause big trouble) but it seems to have worked out okay.  And Boomer, bless him, has only once woken up in the night during a session (we're now on # 40).

Mellia is a very memorable character, and the other players may be surprised to hear that she's very much a departure from The Wife's other characters.  Mellia is quite focused on her goal (more on that in a future session), takes things seriously, and brooks no horseplay.  She's most famous for the glare she's often turned on Cain and Markus when they fail to follow the group's plan.  As a wizard, she's proven quite useful to a party that is otherwise short on arcane magic.  And with an 18 in Constitution, she's proven surprisingly durable in a fight.

Markus is a fun character who served as a replacement PC for the player who ran Rolen.  Markus stayed in the campaign for quite some time, left for several sessions as the player tried his hand at yet a third PC, but has quite recently returned.  He's portrayed as a somewhat naive, swashbuckling type, and his skill in disarming foes with his rapier is legendary.  The downside is that, as his attacks don't do much damage, he's not nearly as useful in fights against monsters that wield natural weapons.

The plot of the session--with the captured PCs sold as slaves and sent on a mysterious quest with the two new PCs as their "escorts"--was something I came up with because I wanted to find a way to get the whole group together quickly, and give them some relative freedom to adventure.  If it hadn't been for the new PCs, I might have gone with the more traditional "escape captivity" sort of plot; but being framed for murder seemed like an equally burdensome alternative.  It also served as a bit of a nudge to get them headed in the right direction for where I finally decided was going to be one of the  main sites of adventure in the campaign: Startop Mountain.  More on that in a future post.

Next Recap

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell [GAMES]

Jhaeman:  The Wife (aka Canuck Mom) and I just finished Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell --

The Wife: And why are we back so quickly? That is one of the downsides of this game - it was really, really short. I mean, even Dream Day Wedding was longer than this game. Length of the game aside, I have really mixed feelings about this one.

Jhaeman:  Incredibly short--took us just over an hour to finish.  With a weird, anti-climactic ending too. As for the puzzles, there was the usual mix of seek-and-find stuff, though they were better integrated into the plot than in most games.  I did appreciate the tricky questions that required you to really pay attention in previous scenes, even if they were hard.  The one we had the most difficulty with was that weird camera assembly puzzle.

The Wife: True. It wasn't a bad puzzle to have to figure out how all of the pieces attached, but having to start over every time you made a wrong move was tedious - especially because you had to double click each piece - once to pick it up, once to place it. Got boring quick. And it was a finicky puzzle.

Jhaeman: So definitely not worth the $ 20 or so we paid for it.  Might've worked as a free teaser to induce purchase of the real game, but as a standalone it was too much cash for too little play time.

The Wife: Agreed. I will say that I thought the graphics were good - especially the opening and closing credits. No audio in this one - just click to read. Oh - and I almost forgot to mention how unlikeable the lead character was. "We" played a journalist John Bert who decides to drum up business for his newspaper by forging letters from Jack the Ripper. He becomes a prime suspect for the police - mainly because he. is. a. total. douchebag. Seriously - I kept hoping that Jack would rip him a new one. Heh. Get it?

Jhaeman:  So I think it's fair to say, thumbs down.

The Wife: Whooh yeah - thumbs WAY down.

Edited to Add: The zoom lense application NEVER came into play. We're about to kick off another game from the same company (HdO Adventures) that claims to have almost double the locations that this one does and brags about the "zoom". WE'LL be the judge of that.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nightshift Code [GAMES]

Jhaeman:  Just finished Nightshift Code, a seek-and-find game that had some inventive features.  As usual, The Wife (a.k.a. Canuck Mom) and I will chat a bit about it.

The Wife: Having played a number of these games, I would rank this one pretty highly. The storyline involves archaeologist types hunting down a missing father and a secret treasure with a scandalous past.    
The graphics are comic book panels, which I though was a nice effect. You're the comic book expert though. Thoughts on the graphics?

Jhaeman:  Crazy woman, trying to burn down my house by leaving the oven on.  They're good pretzels, but I don't want to die because of them.  Anyway, back to the game.  I liked the artwork, but could not follow the various plot twists and timeline jumps.  I did appreciate that there were a few different types of puzzles, including some with a flashlight, and some reasonable-difficulty mini-games.

The Wife: For the fiftieth time, the act of leaving the oven on does not create a fire hazard. Some people cook turkeys all night without creating risk to the house. I was in more danger from the water that you spilled on the floor. But I digress. 

I enjoyed the mini-games too -especially the logic/translation puzzles. I thought the plot was acceptable - and these games are usually pretty stilted when it comes to dialogue and characters. To be fair to the game, we did start this game months ago and only just came back and finished it - so the fact that we can't follow the whole plot isn't really their fault. 

Jhaeman:  Very true.  So overall, I think we're agreed this was a solid entry in the genre.  But I still want the oven turned off.

The Wife: Fine, you turn it off - and wipe up my d*mn floor on your way by. :-) But yes, a solid entry - and worth mentioning that this was the same team that brought us the Valerie Porter game that we enjoyed so much. I probably still rank that one higher though.

Jhaeman:  Because you're the guest, I'll let you have the last word.  Oh, and hey baby, there's a sequel.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Zooper Heroes Adventures Episode # 1

A fun comic strip from the back of Australian popsicles called "Zooper Doopers".  Here, Zooperboy freezes the evil Scrogs from the planet Infernia and then rewards himself with a Zooper Dooper.

I love stuff like this.

Boomer is Batman

Conclusive proof that my son is Batman.

Six months in Australia and the little guy is thriving.  He's the cutest bundle of trouble ever, running around like a maniac most of the day.  He loves toy trucks (especially trying to fit ridiculously large objects in their flatbeds), the Wiggles, and grabbing things he's not supposed to (remote controls, I-Phones, Daddy's books) and running off with them, giggling the whole time.  It's hard to leave for work everyday, but a joy to come home and see him.  Life Down Under: so far, so good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

NFL 2012 Division Champion Predictions

It's that time of year again!  Here are my picks for division champions in 2012.  Last year, you must recall, I was correct on 5 out of the 8 divisions and thus proved my conclusive superiority over Football Outsiders, Lindy's, and NebraskaSteve:


Lindy's: 4/8 (50%) (pretty good results, especially for being the only one to pick Baltimore in the AFC North)
Football Outsiders: 4/8 (50%) (also good, with bonus points for being the only one to foresee SF's rise in the NFC West)
Steve: 3/8 (37.5%) (still better than random chance, though worst of the four pickers here; tempted to subtract points for picking Indianapolis and St. Louis, teams that went a combined 4-28 on the year ;)
Me: 5/8 (62.5%) (a big pat on my own back for Denver)

Thus, I am left with only one conclusion: Where my job at, Lindy's and Pro Football Outsiders?!?!"

Here's what I have in line for 2012, having watched far fewer preseason games and lacking time to include the predictions of professionals:

AFC EAST:  Patriots  I think the Jets and Bills will be better, but I don't see the Pats imploding yet.
AFC WEST:  Chargers  This is a tough one.  Most pundits will pick the Broncos with Manning, and I can't blame them.
AFC NORTH:  Bengals  Going out a limb here, but I liked what I saw last season.
AFC SOUTH:  Texans  Though I really liked what I saw of Jake Locker and the Titans in preseason.

NFC EAST:  Cowboys  Okay, okay, this year they put it together!
NFC WEST:  49ers  Though I think the Seahawks will contend.
NFC NORTH:  Packers  Extraordinarily awesome.
NFC SOUTH:  Panthers  If the defense steps up, I think the offense is there.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: The Draft

Another NFL season is about to start, and that means I have another stab at fantasy football glory.  Last season I had a near-miraculous 12-1 regular season record but lost in the first round of the playoffs to end up # 3 in the league overall.  Still, each of the previous three years has seen steady improvement, so this year could be my chance to win it all! (or not!).  I'm smack in the middle of a busy teaching semester, so I won't be able to update as regularly as I would like, but here's who I drafted along with a brief piece of commentary on each player.

Round 1:  Cam Newton:  I got the first pick in the overall draft, which is actually a tricky position to be in because it means if I screw up most of the best players will be gone before I draft again at spot # 20.  I was torn here between Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton; Rodgers was predicted to do better, but I like a QB who can rack up some points through rushing yards as well, and even if Newton regresses a little I'm still stoked to have him on my team.

Round 2:  Matt Forte:  Really happen he was still around, as he amasses excellent yards both rushing and receiving.

Round 3:  A.J. Green:  Maybe a little bit of a reach here, but I wanted a WR with some upside.  In retrospect, there were some safer picks.

Round 4:  Aaron Hernandez:  Gronkowski went off the board in Round 2 along with Jimmy Graham, so I decided to go with Hernandez as my feature TE and hope that the Pats continue their two-TE pass offense.

Round 5:  Demaryius Thomas:  I'm also unsure about this in retrospect, as there were some solid, established WRs still on the board.  The theory at the time was that Thomas could explode big with Payton Manning throwing to him, but we'll have to wait and see.

Round 6:  Beanie Wells:  At this point, I just wanted any RB who was going to get the bulk of a team's carries.  Arizona actually had a decent running attack at times last year, but this is a position I'll upgrade if I can.

Round 7:  Doug Martin:  I know absolutely nothing about this guy, other than the little blurb that told me he's a rookie who is slated to start for the Bucs.  A shot in the dark, but who knows?

Round 8:  Jay Cutler:  I was really surprised to see him available this low, so I snapped him up.  That's a damn good back-up QB if you ask me.

Round 9: Robert Griffin III:  Grabbed him just in case he comes out smoking like Cam Newton did last year.  I feel like I'm set at QB and even have some good trade stock.

Round 10:  Jets D/ST:  My traditional Defense/Special Teams pick.  The Jets are fun to watch and I'm hoping for some big plays to go my way in close games.

Round 11:  Sebastian Janikowski:  My traditional kicker, and I ignore pundits who say never draft kickers.  I've already received a 2-1 trade offer for this guy! (not sure if I'll accept yet or not . . .)

Round 12:  Josh Gordon:  My required Browns pick.  He's looked really good in preseason and I think will be Weeden's favorite target.  Probably one of my surprise starters. (hey, I snapped up an unknown Peyton Hillis a couple of years ago with great success!)

Round 13:  Jonathan Dwyer:  I saw this Steelers back-up RB play in the preseason and he was a bowling ball; with all of their troubles at the position, he might get some playing time and I think he'll be successful if he does.

Round 14:  Browns D/ST:  This isn't what I would call a great defense, but they're generally solid and most teams are content to just sit on whatever lead they get, given the Browns' terrible offense.

Round 15:  Jermaine Gresham TE:  A really good-up back-up TE for this late in the draft.

Round 16:  Jay Feely:  A back-up kicker; he's a fun player because the Cardinals let him run fakes once in a while.

So overall, I'm pretty happy with that spread, as I have a good mix of dependable players and a few with explosive potential.  The draft itself wasn't as fun as I think I was the only live player participating after the first couple of rounds, but that's okay.

RealmsToowoomba Recap # 5 [RPG]

Aboard The Woeful Tide, the four adventurers rescued from the mysterious island decide to put their mutiny plan into effect. They wait patiently for most of the slave-ship crew to fall into a deep slumber and then pass Grindlestone Threebeards the keys to his manacles.

Nakor tries one last time to persuade the elves to join in the revolt, but they remain bitter and disdainful. The Sembian rogue has more luck, however, persuading a captured Uthgardt Sky Pony tribesman named Krok. However, Nakor's unlocking of Krok's manacles is noticed by an alert crewman who calls out loudly for aid. Before the group is completely ready, the mutiny has begun! 

The battle is a bloody back-and-forth affair. Nakor fights with his short sword before suffering some serious wounds and deciding to attack at a distance with his bow. Fargrim charges into battle and has initial success, but a grievous slash from a slaver's cutlass lays him low early in the fight. Rolen holds his own with the use of his martial arts ability, but gets worn down. Cain uses a combination of divine spellcasting and mace-swinging to occupy some of the attackers.

The number of dead and unconscious slavers multiplies. The sheer number of attackers is too much however, especially with each of the adventurers fighting alone in an isolated melee. Even with the brave assistance of the dwarves, Krok, and some other freed slaves, a woeful tide has turned against the adventurers!
Within minutes, Rolen and Nakor are unconscious and bleeding, while the barbarian Fargrim hovers at death's door. Cain darts in to cast healing magicks to bring Fargrim into consciousness briefly, but the dwarf has time only to stand up and stab a slaver in the back with his dagger before collapsing again. For a moment, the battle stands on a knife's edge, as Cain squares off against the two remaining slavers--if he can defeat them, the day could yet be won! 

But neither Tymora nor Kossuth aids the desperate cleric in his time of need, and he, too, is defeated.

The uprising that was planned well initially has failed in its execution, and a partial massacre of the slaves has been the result. Yet what is the fate of the four adventurers? Unconscious, bleeding, on board a slave ship headed to Luskan, their fate looks grim indeed.
Director's Commentary (May 23, 2013)

Our first all-combat session!  Four PCs and some NPC allies up against 15 slavers in a brawl for it all.  The PCs failure in this battle exemplifies the fate of many adventuring groups: they each act as if they're solo adventurers, and thus get spread out and surrounded and are unable to help each other.  If the PCs stood back to back so they couldn't be flanked and could focus their attacks on particular enemies, I think this fight would have turned out differently.  As it was, they still came quite close to winning, as a couple of better rolls at the end might have won the day for Cain.

An early lesson in audacity and failure for the PCs, and they would actually be rather cautious afterward.  An additional downside, as we'll see next session, is that they end up enslaved and having lost all of the gear they'd accumulated to this point.

Next Recap

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thirty Days of Graphic Novels, Day 20: "Space Clusters"

So obviously, real life has gotten in the way of the planned one graphic novel/per day post!  I'll still play out the string though.

Space Clusters is a very weird, some might say psychedelic, science fiction graphic novel with very fitting cosmic artwork by Alex Nino.  The plot, which is pretty thin, concerns a murderer on the run and the law enforcement official who is chasing him; the chase, due to light-speed travel, crosses hundreds of years in galactic time even though the individuals involved age only a few decades.  Then the book gets weird, as both hunter and prey fall into a black hole, end up as diffuse cosmic entities in another universe, and still clash!  In other words, it's not one of those books with relatable characters and situations, but for fans of the Silver Surfer, Jim Starlin, etc., it's nicely-drawn foray into metaphysical ideas of space and consciousness.  I do think the story fits the format well, as a self-contained story like this fits into graphic novel format well, and Nino takes good advantage of the over-size page width available.