Archives for July 2008

Writing Again

nitewanderer, you've inspired me to do some more writing. Before I rediscovered D&D, I wrote 2 (unpublished) novels, one of which I had professionally edited by Kathy Ptacek, who really liked it. I'm finding myself a little too stressed at the on-again, off-again nature of our gaming lately (lately due to stuff outside any control but God's), and think I need another creative outlet. I'm looking into play-by-post, which intimidates me A LOT. I'm also dusting off currently-titled Dreams of the Dead. I don't think that's a great title, but it will stand for now. I've written at least 3 version of it that I can find, each with a different protagonist. Micah Saracen appeals to me most, so we'll go with him for now. The location was also sparked by an suggestion by Kathy about setting a series of novels in "a college town where weird stuff happens," sort of like Charles L. Grant's Black Oak series. (Sadly out of print. Oh, how I hate that there won't be any more of those!)

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The brief description, from the prologue: Why would someone challenge the data in a published article in a completely fabricated field of study? Anyway, it's all about ley lines and cemeteries set in Oakleigh University.

We'll see how it goes.

Shadow Unit

I read about Shadow Unit with interest–hey, Emma Bull (

 ), gotta be great. But by the time the episodes came out, I was so swamped with work that I didn't have time to read them. (Yeah, heaven forbid I should read the web at home…) Part of me thought, sounds rather X-Files though, yawn.

Now, I was a HUGE X-Files fan, well, up until the last coupla seasons. And I'm a fan of the B.P.R.D. comics. I like the idea of an official agency of varying degrees of perceived legitimacy. But, been there, done that.

OK, wrong. Shadow Unit is fascinating, and I'm not quite through the first episode, “Breathe.” The concept of the anomaly, with talk of gammas and betas. I crave to know more! The device of the newbie on the team helps bring the reader along without it feeling like Basil Exposition. I'm still having difficulty telling some of the characters apart, but hey, reading at work, cut me some slack.

Really good stuff. How could I have thought otherwise? I mean, it's Emma Bull.


Oh, the deliciousness that is Warren Ellis' website design: The green is soothing and lulls you into a false sense of complacent security. Then when you mouse over anything, the underlayer of burnt orange snaps at you like…oh, rather like Nala. That cutout look makes me feel burning jealousy. Mmmmmmm.

Skill challenges in action

We had an excellent session Saturday playing in the Mosaic campaign. Our goal: to gain information from Hakima Bahor, a boss rakshasa, who apparently has Derral Feodar in custody. Feodar is the guy whose journals were of interest to our now-missing masters, and about whom the other rakshasa, Hakima Avishandu, told us. The whole reason we came to gods-forsaken Oubliette. (Well, forsaken by any gods our PCs care about.)

Quin, my iron witch giant, cast what I always considered a useless spell: discern preference (from Arcana Evolved).  Hey, not so useless after all! Using it we determined that Bahor is fond of his hookah, and enjoys exotic things to smoke in it. After sending off a diplomatically worded request for an audience with him, we went to the Artisans District and obtained a small brick worth 500 gp of something called Black Heart. We got our first taste of how skill challenges work in negotiating for more of the substance than the dealer was at first inclined to give us.

We were granted an audience the next day. Having already reconnoitered the area where his obstentatiously-unguarded mansion was, we arrived precisely on time as requested. The rakshasa Bahor was slimy-creepiness personified. He led two gorgeous nearly-naked women on ribbons and they knelt before him. One was a drow priestess, the other a sun elf priestess. Wearing each other's raiment. Yikes.

Rashmali took point, with Mordecai assisting. Quin was too busy mentally pummeling his lawful good intelligent longspear Cry of Heaven into submission, and Bellos was too awed. Scott later told us that to win the challenge, we needed to have 10 successes before 5 failures. We ended up with only 1 failure (when Mordecai rolled a 1). He ran it just like a combat, with rolling initiative and each of us taking turns saying what we would do. Mostly Mordecai echoed what Rashmali said. The rakshasa liked the gift, which gave us a +4 to all rolls. We got out of there with our lives and virtues intact, with a promise to be allowed to speak with Feodar–IF we come back with news that we have “taken care of” Avishandu, Bahor's rival. Bahor said it more subtly, of course.

Now we get to visit Avishandu's brothel headquarters, the Succulent Pear. Mordecai's quite looking forward to that.

More Horrible

 I've now re-watched Act II of Dr. Horrible. The first few seconds are priceless: Dr. Horrible blinking at the camera, too stunned at what has just happened to even articulate. The pained expression is completely convincing.

“On the Rise” is a good song. I like Capt. Hammer's reactions: brushing off his shoulder where the man at the homeless shelter touched him, cringing from the proximity of ducks (or swans, whatever those are) as he and Penny sit on the park bench. The duet works nicely. Love the harmony.

“Captain Hammer threw a car at my head.”

Love the Bad Horse posse (for what else would you call them?)

“Is that your catchphrase?”

“Thoroughbred of sin” is a great title.

“Goodness, look at my wrist.”

“These are not the hammer.” That crooked grin. Nasty.

“Brand New Day” is a great song, love the quick patter at the beginning. “…when I give you the keys to a shiny new Australia…”

Can't wait for Act III.