May 28, 2010

Lazy Friday Fantasy Metal Post: Sirenia - The Other Side


May 27, 2010

Mayhem Unleashed

Chaos isn't the only one enjoying the new foam weaponry in our house. She was quite benevolent and bestowed a sword and shield to Mayhem. Little Mayhem took to her blade with great fervor, as you can witness below. Actually, she liked the weapons immediately, while it took Chaos a bit to warm up to them.

Behold the fury of Mayhem....

[6/15/10 EDIT: Updated with a better quality video]

May 26, 2010

Chaos Turns 6

May has been a very busy month and I have tons to post about.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to do so.

My eldest daughter, Chaos, turning 6 was the biggest event.  Six is the big leagues.  Six means she is knee-deep in kid-dom. 

She received tons of loot, but here are the gifts ol’ Dad added to the present pile:

- Black Knight Foam Sword and Shield kit.  I couldn’t pass this up when I saw it at Toys R Us.  It came with two swords and two shields.  Chaos wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but by the end of cake time, she was slaying balloon “dragons.”  I knew I had done well when a few days later she and Mayhem were playing with the swords and Chaos turned to me and said, “You know, I really like this, Daddy.”  It was funny. It was almost as if she was surprised she was admitting it.  Mayhem likes her weaponry as well and the two spend more time slaying imaginary creatures than bashing each other.  I think I’ll pick up one or two of those bopper punching bags for them to slay when I get a chance. 

Also, I think I will get this axe so I can walk around the house saying, "By This Axe I Rule!"

- Mouse Guard Volume 1.  A friend of mine recommended this.  We’ve read a few chapters at bed time and she seems to like it, but has more trouble following the plot than I thought. The lack of words hinders her understanding at points, but she seems interested in it and I think she’ll grow into it a bit more in the upcoming year.

mouse guard

The A-Maze-ing Labyrinth board game.  I saw this board game at Toys R Us and picked it up even though I hadn’t heard of it.  I’m always on the lookout for games that are different from the various Candyland-clones out there (i.e., the mindless games).  We’ve played once and Chaos seems to like it.  Players shift the maze layout on their turns in order to move their pawn to specific treasures.  Despite the cartoony look, it isn’t just a kids’ game.  I could easily see playing it with adults.


- Pokemon booster packs.  I’m not a big Pokemon fan but Chaos and the boy down the street are.  She loves animals, so a game with cute little critters is right up her alley.  She and the boy have their own house rules, which seem like some sort of version of War.  The gamer in me has the urge to teach her the “right way” to play, but that same gamer is rather proud she has her own rules and is completely happy playing that way.

Stargazer's Tip for a Cheap Dry Erase Battlemat

Sunglar posted a nice way to get a cheap dry erase battlemat from Costco: Cheap battlemats! The board is pre-gridded, so no need to score it.  I remember seeing this white board at Costco years ago and had the same thought.  Great minds think a like.

(This article might be well-known in the blogosphere, but I wasn't sure, so I figured I'd share.)

May 21, 2010

Lazy Friday Fantasy Metal Post: Dio - Man on the Silver Mountain

I've decided to start my own Lazy Friday Post thing and since I have an appreciation for fantasy-themed metal, I'm going to post those kind of videos.

I picked "Man on the Silver Mountain" as my nod at Dio's passing (RIP).  When I heard the song in 7th grade, I thought it was so badass that I plotted a D&D campaign around said Man.  Never did run it, but I do still have the notes.  Embarrassingly, the adventure was a quest for a sword called Glockenspiel (although I might have spelled it differently).  I'm guessing that I had heard the word at some point, but forgotten what it meant.

Anyhow, enjoy. \m/

May 13, 2010

Frazetta Pass On to Valhalla

It's old news by now, but Frank Frazetta passed away on May 10. Still, I would feel a bit remiss if I didn't mention it here as he is my favorite fantasy artist of all time and certainly one of my top 10 artists period.

What sets Frazetta's works apart is how dynamic they are.  He had a knack for emulating movement that few (if any) can match.  Boris Vallejo, for instance, has fantastic skill, but his pictures seem more like window displays than snapshots of action.  In my favorite Frazetta piece, "Snow Giants," you can practically hear the giant gurgling his blood, his throat having been slit by the Cimmerian's sword.  I had a poster of this picture on my wall during my teenage years.  Honestly, I wish I still had it.

Frazetta certainly captured the raw, blood pumping adventure of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories.  I have to admit, it's always irked me a bit that Conan is almost always near-naked in these paintings, despite the fact that he is usually well-armored in the corresponding tales.  Still, hell, if it weren't for Frazetta, Conan might still be depicted like this:

I'll take "half-naked" over "huge, nerdy-looking guy" any day.

Here is another of my favorites.  I love how Frazetta captured Conan's "volcanic" eyes.

I also have to say, nobody drew voluptuous women like Frazetta.  These aren't waif-like damsels, these are women that would make any man's blood race and heart pound.

 Hell, he could even make Tolkien sexy.

RIP Frazetta. You'll be missed.

May 7, 2010

Two Last Tidbits about Clash of the Titans

I know, I know.  Clash of the Titans has been out for over a month now.  I’ve talked about it twice already (here and here).  Two final things here, folks, and I’ll shut up about it.

clash of the titans caover Item 1: I saved this review back when I was planning on writing my own: Clash of the Titans Crashes and Burns.  Why did I save it?  Because it’s laughable regardless of whether you liked the remake or not.  Why is it laughable?  Because homeboy thinks that the new Clash of the Titans is based on a book: “Based on the 1981 Alan Foster novel of the same name, Clash of the Titans….”  What book would that be?  Uhm… the novelization of the first Clash of the Titans: link.

Here is another choice quote:
"Some novels' shortcomings can be overcome by brilliant screenwriters and an all-star cast. Titans has neither. Instead of avoiding the vices present in the novel, Titans manages to condense them into a 90 minute movie."

Yep, too bad those screenwriters couldn't overcome the shortcomings of a novel based on a screenplay written by other screenwriters.

Sadly, this review comes from The Chronicle Online which is the “Official Website of the Weekly Student Newspaper of the College of Saint Rose.”  

Note to self: My daughters will not attend the College of Saint Rose.

Item 2: I want a pair of these: link  Is that wrong?kraken boxers

May 6, 2010

Peter Cushing - One of Us

Thanks to Rob for this one.   Be sure to stick around for the blatant sexism at about 1:20.

British Pathe - PETER CUSHING
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

May 5, 2010

Fantasy Forest Books and Their Great D&D Art

I took snapshots of some of the interior art from the Fantasy Forest books.  The picture quality isn't the best, but I tried.

Mario Macari, Jr.'s art from The Ring, the Sword, and the Unicorn

Michael Fishlel's art from Ruins of Rangar

Pamela Summertree's art from Dungeon of Darkness

Mario Macari, Jr.'s art from Star Rangers and the Spy 
(Star Frontiers!)

Fantasy Forest Books – Welcoming Kids to the Dungeon One Choice at a Time

In my box of adventure, I found four Fantasy Forest books:

#1 The Ring, the Sword, and the Unicorn by Jim “Gamma World” Ward

#2 Ruins of Rangar by Michael Carr

#5 Dungeon of Darkness by John Kendall

#6 Star Rangers and the Spy and the Spy by Jean Blashfield and Beverly Charette

So far, my wife and I have read #1 and #2 to Chaos, with #1 being her clear favorite. It’s pretty hard to beat a unicorn for little girl appeal. Although Ruins of Rangar has a pegasus on the cover, it more or less has a cameo appearance and Chaos wasn't too impressed.  I’m guessing the cover of Dungeons of Darkness is a bit too creepy for her and Star Rangers might be too sci-fi (she has never shown much interest in spaceships and such).

There has been much hullabaloo about WotC's new D&D for kids venture, Monster Slayers.  They have a free adventure, Heroes of Hesoid,  here: link and a Monster Slayers story book here: link.   Troll Lord Games is onto this as well with their Harvesters RPG (as well as the eternally delayed Castles & Crusades Basic).

I think this is great. Like the cigarette industry, we need to hook 'em while they're young!  Seriously, though, it is great to see people realizing there is a market for kid-friendly RPGs.  When I started this blog, I thought I was in a minority, but I've realized there are tons of gaming parents out there.  A lot of them, myself included, want a way to share our hobby with our kids.

I think WotC, and any other gaming company, would do well to revisit Choose Your Own Adventure-style books.  They really are a great gateway to the fun of role playing.  My daughter can't get enough of them.  What is really cool is that these books use the monsters and the artistic styles from the game.  The dragon art in The Ring, the Sword... is done in the same style as the 1st edition Monster Manual and stirges attack the the heroes in the Ruins of Rangar.  (I'll put up some pictures of the art in a bit.)

I keep thinking of this quote:
Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed. - G. K. Chesterton

My daughter is kind of a scaredy cat, much like I was at that age (hell, I would literally run out of the room when David Banner hulked out on the old "Incredible Hulk" TV show).  But these books have the kid as the hero (or at least as a brave side-kick).  In The Ring..., the kid is riding a unicorn and battling orcs and dragons.  In Ruins..., the kid is wielding a dagger and kicking skeletons to bits (notice how the hero is smart enough to not even attempt a piercing weapon. ha!).  This sort of crystallizes an un-hearlded benefit of gaming for kids.  Sure, there are monsters in it.  But the players' goal is to slay those monsters, overcome traps, and save the day.  More importantly, they have the means and powers to do so.

To this day, my wife is amazed that I, as a kid, didn't have nightmares about all those pictures in the Monster Manual.  Like I said, I was a chicken-shit.  So why didn't I?  Because the monsters were there to be slain.  That goblin only had 1 hit die and I knew my 3rd level fighter could bash its brains in with his morningstar.

These Fantasy Forest books are great way to show kids the fun of gaming.  The kid gets to be the hero and, really, who doesn't want that?

May 4, 2010

Frog God Games Awakens

Bill "Tsathogga" Webb just announced on the Necromancer Games forums that Frog God Games is live.  You can't buy Slumbering Tsar yet, but they have a place-holder page up.

Ha, and I love this from the About Us page:

"We won't fill your players coffers with millions of gold and powerful magic items either, at least not without great efforts. Our encounters won't be "balanced" to make sure no one dies, and a 3rd level monster may or may not have 50.2 gp (like its supposed to in certain rule books). Death will be frequent, but fair, and players who fail to use their heads will surely lose them."

A Box Full of Adventure

Time Cave I stopped by my parents’ house last Saturday to say hi and borrow a power-washer.  My dad put me to work and had me climb up into the garage attic to bring down a bike carrier.  While I was up there I found a box full of my old Choose Your Own Adventure books, both official ones, as well as a bunch of clones, including a goodly amount of TSR’s Endless Quest books.  The fact that this box survived my father’s great purging of “junk” a few years back is a miracle (I had to dig my Battle Masters game out of the trash during said purge).  I can only guess that he didn’t make it up into the attic, so this box were spared.

These books brought back a ton of memories.  I knew I had been a huge fan of these books, but I didn’t realize to what I extent. I think Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books are still being published, but are they popular?  Anyone with kids know? I seem to recall them being very big when I was a kid.

The box had a total of 22 books. Here is the break down:

- 6 Choose Your Own Adventure books
- 5 Endless Quest books
- heartquest 1 Heartquest book (a version of the Endless Quest books, but for girls: “In a HEARTQUEST book, you, the reader, are challenged to PICK A PATH TO ROMANCE AND ADVENTURE.”  What can I say? If it had a D&D-like cover, I would buy it and read it).
- 4 Fantasy Forest books (more on these below)
- 2 Explorer books
- 1 Zork book
- 1 The Choice is Yours book
- 1 The Secret Files of Dakota King book
- 1 Dragontales book (this, not the kiddie cartoon).

I knew I read a lot of these growing up, but I thought I had checked most out from the school library.  Speaking of that, I remember having some sort of library project in 6th grade and having to use certain books from a librarian-provided list.  A CYOA book was on that list (I think it was this one: link), so naturally I choose it.  Oh no, the librarian made it clear that book wasn’t appropriate and shouldn’t have been on the list because it wasn’t a proper book.  She actually had a derogatory term for it, but damned if I can remember it.  Yeah, gasp, heaven forbid someone produce books that encourage kids to read.

Sort of ironically, it was through the Endless Quest books, not D&D manuals, that I first learned of the Satanic criticism of D&D.  I showed Dragon of Doom to one of my neighbors, a young boy from the South (I was living in Wisconsin at the time) and he said, “Oooh… that is a devil book.”  I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.  Clearly, that was a black dragon on the cover, not a devil. 

On a side note, that kid had quite a handle.  His first name was “Ikey” and his last name, which I won’t post to protect is anonymity, was the most Greek last name I have ever heard.  I also recall telling him we would have flying cars in the future and his response, was no, Jesus is coming back in the future.  I have nothing against that belief (heck, I’m Catholic), but that just struck me as, well, a rather heavy thing to come out of a 6-year-old’s mouth (I was 8).

Anyhow, more than any of the other books, I’m thrilled to have found the Fantasy Forest books, which are Endless Quest books for younger readers.  My wife and I have read two to Chaos so far and she loves them.  I’ll detail them more later this week, but for now I'll just say I think Wizards of the Coast would do well to revisit this style of books.

May 3, 2010

May is Zombie Awareness Month

May is Zombie Awareness Month. 

From the Zombie Research Institute:

"... because Spring naturally brings with it a sense of renewal and hopefulness, May is the perfect month to emphasize continued vigilance in the face of the coming Zombie Pandemic."
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