Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Dark Magic in the Root Cellar"

This sinister little tale I wrote can be found in Dreamless Roads - a fantasy anthology, a collection of wonderfully imaginative short stories by a group of talented writers that I am humbled to be a part of. You can find it at these vendors in different formats:

Amazon - paperback or Kindle
Barnes & Noble - both paperback and Nook editions

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Tsuro

Of the many things I'm thankful for this year, among them is the time and good company spent playing games with people I care about. This Thanksgiving gave Mom (white), Dad (red), Yume (green), and I (blue) more of that when we sat down to play another round of the artful Tsuro: The Game of the Path.
Taking turns, starting with the oldest player, you choose a patterned tile from your hand of three, lay the tile, and then follow its path to the corresponding edge. The goal: be the last player still on the board. The danger: being forced off the board, or helplessly colliding with another player (eliminating you both).
Here's how we sat after two turns…
…then after three.
The pivotal moment: rather than eliminate anyone too soon, I opt to play a more dangerous "long game," resulting in Mom, Dad, and I sharing the same tile.
For my efforts, I'm sent packing to the high side as Dad and Mom veer toward fertile grounds.
That's when Yume decided to strap a time bomb to her chest in the upper-lefthand corner. 
Cleverly, Yume avoided the untimely death, only to be done in by me. (At this point, I knew I had a way to avoid the corner and veer south, but no idea whose hands I'd be placing my fate in.)
Only one of us was getting out of this jam…!
And so it was Dad took this one, with a fair share of luck, a sound strategy, and eyes to follow the circuitous path; I gratefully tipped my cap!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Date With King Arthur

The last time I presented one of these was almost three years ago. This academic essay also came from the anthropology course I took focusing on myths, rituals, and symbolism. I find myself fascinated with the creation of myth and how it informs us still.

As a child visiting Disneyland for the first time, there were many things I had not expected to encounter when I was there. Growing up in a lower-middle class family, going to Disneyland was not even on our collective radar, but thanks to relatives who worked there, the amazing was made true. Not only did the wonderfully riveting rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain leave me wanting more, but the lively and warmly-approachable costumed characters of Disneyland captivated me in ways I had not been prepared for. I remember even being too timid to approach them myself thinking that the whole experience was too great, and that I was not deserving enough to experience it more intimately. Nevertheless, I was allowed to experience my first trip to Disneyland in ways I will never forget, thanks to the family I had working there who arranged for me to be chosen during a live noon show as "the one who would pull the sword from the stone”—namely, King Arthur.

We all know the Arthurian legend of how a mere squire boy of ancient “Briton” came forth to pull the magical sword “Excalibur” from a rock, and, by doing so, become the King of Camelot. What is not well known, however, is whether there is any truth to this story. Historians have dated the legend to sometime during the European Dark Ages (c. 8th-9th century CE), and we know that written records during this time were sparse. The story has been relegated to myth for lack of better knowledge, though this has not negatively affected the story, how it is told, nor moreover, what it means to those who hear or read about it.

As the myth goes, Arthur, the squire boy, lives in a pre-medieval society full of men and women who are either not fit to wear the titles and positions they cling to, or are bereft of the social leverage and political savvy necessary to receive the honor and prestige they deserve. Within this, there exists an idea of divinely inspired destiny, a kind of divine or "unawakened magic," that exists in the world to help us achieve our higher calling. One can often never fully understand their higher calling until that divine magic has been released through a pivotal action taken by the person in question. That person may not know what that pivotal action is, when it may come during their lives, or whether it is even possible. From the myth, we learn that the surprising pivotal action is the drawing of a fabled sword, Excalibur (believed to have been embedded in the rock by a local court magician and sage named Merlin), that, upon being lifted from the stone, will indicate the next king.

The myth tells how Arthur is successful in completing the task, even after stronger and more experienced men have failed to do so, and is promptly named the new king. Merlin becomes Arthur’s advisor, and the king and his loyal subjects (among whom are the Knights of the Round Table) go on to engage in numerous quests and adventures, not the least of which is a search for the Holy Grail (which may, in fact, place the myth during the time of or prior to the First Crusade, 1095-1099 CE.)

In any case, the summary provided above carries with it a set of symbols which, beyond the fact that there are scant details known about the story historically, qualify it as myth. For one, the Arthur myth focuses on the object of the sword, an object of war, which plays more of a passive role as that which is sought after, and in referring to the summary above, functions as the fulcrum upon which Arthur’s destiny balances. As part of a backstory to the sword’s origins, other versions of the myth have spoken about how the sword was first given to Merlin by a mysterious but benevolent sorceress known only as the Lady of the Lake, who, in turn, had played a role in Merlin’s destiny. Be that as it may, other symbols found in the Arthur myth are the stone itself, magic, loyal subjects (including the knights), the round table (about which the knights assemble in equal relationship to each other), and the idea of kingship or rulership, which taken together mean different things for those who participate in the myth, even by those who are just listening or watching it play out.

Extending from a structuralist perspective, one must see that in order to view the above symbols according to their respective “models of” and “models for” reality, one must use a lens that is focused on the frame of structure rather than the details, as Levi-Strauss suggests in his work, “Structural Anthropology” (164). Bearing this in mind, the sword in the stone (two symbols at once) is a model of reality, representing that strength which is stuck within the stony confines of human inflexibility and faithlessness. The stone from which the sword is drawn is, of course, that very physical representation of human nature that is defined by inflexibility and faithlessness. By separating these two (drawing forth the sword), a model for reality is formed utilizing the freed symbol of the sword as a signifier indicating the release of divine magic, whereby one’s destiny is fulfilled. The loyal subjects (knights) are indicative of those who are a direct side-effect of the aforementioned model for reality, serving to inform those who participate in perpetuating the myth that there are like minds out in the world whose own destinies are dependent on the occurrence of the pivotal event. So too does the round table serve as a model for reality, depicting an idea of equality not exhibited in the times before the sword was drawn from the stone.

Invariably, kingship is the most difficult symbol to qualify as its relevance is no longer easily seen in modern day. Kingship, as displayed in the Arthur myth, can be taken to mean self-empowerment, creation of an identity, and eventually passes on the idea that each person who follows the myth’s structural model (and not its details) will veritably become “kings” or “queens” of their own domains. In essence, the kingship symbolism acts as a “misguided” model of reality, seemingly always in place, but disguised beneath the presiding model of inflexibility that can only be removed by the realization of the model for reality—namely, pulling the sword from the stone.

The myth stresses a structural basis, but also has a "performative" feature not felt unless one acts the myth out oneself. Having performed the act of pulling the sword from the stone at Disneyland, I can attest to the fact that the modern myth’s characteristics emphasize style, occasions, and how the performance is produced over other competing aspects (Lecture, 10/7/03). In performing the myth in both planned and impromptu theatrical capacities time and time again, one gets the sense that the Arthur legend expresses a challenge to authority that is already in place. This potentially flawed idea of never-ending renewal of authority is then tempered by the myth’s assertion that only those renewals permitted by “the powers that be” (e.g. God) are those that will come to pass. After all, not just anyone has the ability to take the sword from the stone!

The Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone presents a model of and a model for reality that depicts both the state of (local) world affairs and how that can be remedied, if possible. What makes it possible is if the one, shall we say, “predestined” to fix the situation comes forth and takes action, often not knowing the consequences of said action, and thus setting into motion a series of events that will make things better in the doing. One can imagine how those who are not predestined to take such actions may, despite the pattern, do so, creating such ideas as the “anti-hero,” or even bolder proclamations such as the “Antichrist.” One would hope, however, that those involved in any fashion with the Arthurian legend would recognize one of its most important lessons: every great and noble act of mankind is carried out by those who are meant to initiate it—and that is reassuring!


Lecture. “Myth: Structure and Meaning.” Professor Hancock. UCSB. Fall, 2003.

Levi-Strauss, Claude. “Structural Anthropology.” Anthropology 116 reader. Ed.
Professor Hancock. Santa Barbara: UCSB. 2003. 162-174.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Genki meet Drizzt.

We've been hosting a Japanese college student named Genki Kingetsu these past two weeks. His name translates into something like, "Happy Goldmoon." Forgoing a viewing of the classic Adam Sandler film, I instead recognized how similar the English version of his name was to certain ones found in fantasy literature and gaming. Thus, I decided to introduce our Eastern guest to Western-style tabletop gaming through the vehicle of Drizzt Do'Urden and his adventures.

Genki chose his character first, opting for "Wulfgar" with the low AC/high HP. Yume suitably went with her typical choice: "Catti-Brie," the long-range threat. I rolled the dice and wound up with "Bruenor," the ax-wielding, shield-bearing king of Mithral Hall. Together, we sought the ruins of that fabled dwarven keep, and the early goings would betray the danger therein as we quickly faced off against a troll, an ogre, and a pesky trap that sent out pulses of harmful force energy repelling us away from its location.
Our next couple of turns featured a battle between good fortune and bad. Catti-brie was successful in downing the ogre, it too wounded by the force trap that had sent me flying, but ran into a goblin cutter. Wulfgar came into play and discovered the "Secret Cave," a place where we could avoid some of the dangers of the Underdark, but first we'd have to unseat its then resident, a massive owlbear! Another trap, this one a goblin snare, sprang on us, but despite these developments the giant troll was fortunately held at bay by the cavern's topography. (Granted, the rules don't state that large-sized minis can't squeeze through narrow passages, playing it this way seems to make more sense.)
We took out the mobile threats and moved out of range of the trap-laden entrance but soon ran afoul a goblin archer and hard-carapaced umber hulk. Much to our chagrin, Catti-Brie began to miss targets left and right, thanks to Yume's luckless die rolling, leaving much of the fighting to Wulfgar and I.
Having dealt with the goblin, I raced passed my adopted daughter and her former lover and swept through the broken door of ancient Mithral Hall. We had found it! It, and another feral troll being kept on a long-leash by a drow house guard. Back toward the entrance, Artemis Entreri, the famed assassin (and this adventure's boss villain), had entered the caverns, seeking us out! If we could but seize the crown lying on the throne and defeat the assassin, we would win the day!
Artemis quickly caught up to us and we began to fight him off, but not before the fearsome troll sent me reeling across the map and unconscious on the stone floor. Complicating matters, a third trap, "The Juicer," spawned on Wulfgar's tile, bringing him dangerously close to dropping as well. A single attack from Artemis a moment later, and he finally did.
Fearing that victory was slipping away, and with no more "Healing Surge" tokens, the speedy Wulfgar broke free from the fray to get the crown, but was brought low by the combined threats of the troll and yet another trap, this one firing poison arrows. Catti-brie and I continued the desperate fight against Artemis, but saw our doom in the coming of a drow priestess who spawned at the entrance after drawing an "Encounter card" we could not ignore.
And that's where we failed, unable to get to Wulfgar in time to revive him; a powerful and unforgiving example of how this game can tease you with victory, then steal it away from you in merciless fashion. Hope you enjoyed your introduction, Genki! (Can't wait to play again!)
A close-up on the "Owlbear," from the Blood of Gruumsh expansion.
And the "Umber Hulk," from Sting of Lolth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Challenging Words

Despite my plays of "slake" and "qua" (go ahead, look 'em up!), and getting rid of both the "Z" and "Q" tiles, I (right) still lost to Mom (left) 150-143. Yume held her own with a strong 134, but ran out of plays late. We used the basic free-for-all rules, though we finally played with challenge rules intact (generally forgoing these for Yume's sake). I endured challenges against both "treetop" and "slake", forcing Yume and Mom to lose respective turns. Still, Mom's plays of "odious", "mule", "fix", and "vents" kept her close, the difference being my lone tile (a "V") left at the end of the game. (Truth be told, I had been bluffing with "qua", explaining to the others that it was "quay", though neither of them were brave enough to challenge me on it. Imagine my surprise when we looked it up after to find it was a word! Still lost, though. I find it a refreshing slap in the face when you can play well and still lose. Touché, Scrabble!)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Psychic Ice Queen

And lastly, the fencing, spying, psionic triple threat…

Colonel Doctor IRINA SPALKO, KGB
(circa Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 1957)
Female Human Fast 3/Smart 3/Soldier 4/Field Scientist 3/Mesmerist 4*; CR 17; Medium Humanoid (height 5' 9", weight 130 lb.); Age 36
* See Past

Init +2; Senses (core) Listen +5, Search +10, Spot +5; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +13, Search +21
Languages English, German, Korean (speak only), Russian, Ukrainian

Defense 25, touch 20, flat-footed 21; (+2 Dex, +4 Int, +9 class)
hp 90 (16 HD); Mas 13
Fort +8, Ref +10, Will +13
Action Points 11

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +11/+6 (1d4+1 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee rapier +13/+8 (1d6+3, 18-20) or
Melee by weapon +10/+5 or
Ranged Tokarev pistol +11/+6 (2d6 ballistic, 20, 30 ft., S, 8 box) or
Ranged by weapon +11/+6
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +9; Grp +10
Atk Options Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm
Special Qualities Psionics

Abilities Str 12, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 18 (14), Wis 12, Cha 14
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances the “Crystal Skull Quest,” the Soviet Union, herself, law, evil; Rep +5; San 67
Feats Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Attentive, Combat Expertise, Combat Martial Arts, Combat Reflexes, Educated (earth and life sciences, tactics), Focused, Improved Disarm, Iron Will, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Trustworthy, Weapon Finesse
Skills (core) Autohypnosis +12, Balance +9, Bluff +8, Concentration +11, Craft (chemical) +10, Decipher Script +10, Demolitions +8, Diplomacy +10, Drive +4, Gather Information +10, Intimidate +7, Investigate +14, Knowledge (arcane lore) +10, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) +12, Knowledge (earth and life sciences) +20, Knowledge (history) +9, Knowledge (tactics) +9, Knowledge (technology) +10, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +9, Listen +5, Navigate +7, Psicraft +6, Read/Write English, Read/Write German, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Ukrainian, Research +14, Search +10, Sense Motive +7, Speak English, Speak German, Speak Korean, Speak Russian, Speak Ukrainian, Spot +5, Swim +4
Skills (house) Athletics +5, Control +20 (+2 on Balance, Concentration), Craft (chemical) +10, Deduce +21 (+2 on Investigate), Demolitions +8, Drive +4, Gather Information +10, Knowledge (arcane lore) +10, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) +12, Knowledge (earth and life sciences) +21, Knowledge (history) +10, Knowledge (tactics) +9, Knowledge (technology) +10, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +9, Navigate +7, Perceive +13 (+2 on Sense Motive), Persuade +16 (+2 on Diplomacy), Psicraft +8, Read/Write English, Read/Write German, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Ukrainian, Research +17, Speak English, Speak German, Speak Korean, Speak Russian, Speak Ukrainian
Talents (Fast) Evasion, Uncanny Dodge I
Talents (Smart) Plan, Savant (Knowledge [earth and life sciences])
Talents (Soldier) Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier)
Talents (Field Scientist) Scientific Improvisation, Smart Defense
Talents (Mesmerist) Psionic Powers, Psionic Skills
Power Points 2
Mesmerist Powers Known (3/1): 0 (7/day)—daze (DC 12), detect psionics, missive; 1st—lesser mindlink
Starting Occupation Paranormalist (+1 on Knowledge [earth and life sciences], Research)
Possessions (total weight 8 lb.) mastercraft rapier (3 lb.), Tokarev Model TT33 pistol (2 lb.), formal outfit (gray military uniform w/black gloves & boots; 3 lb.), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +21

NEW FX Item Crystal Skull of Akator
          Around seven thousand years ago, thirteen interdimensional beings with crystalline skeletons became the gods of the Ugha tribe in what is today the Brazilian Amazon. The beings had the Ugha build them a great city called Akator, a city that the later Spanish conquistadors would dub “El Dorado.”
          In 1546, a group of conquistadors led by Francisco de Orellana stole one of the skulls along with other valuables from Akator. On the journey back to their ship, the Skull telepathically compelled Orellana to return it to the city, ultimately resulting in the deaths of Orellana and all his crew. The skull was buried with him in his grave chamber near Nazca, Peru. The theft fell into legend stating that whomever returned the skull to Akator would be granted its power.
          Crystal Skull of Akator: The Skull is, in fact, the crystalline cranium and jaw of a race of alien beings that possessed psychic abilities. Though it does not generate any overt effects on its own, the Skull does retain some of the host organism’s residual psychic aura, and it will attract metals of up to 2 lb. in weight, including those that are not normally magnetic, like gold, when exposed within 10 feet of such objects.
          When a conscious humanoid creature (with Intelligence 6+) gazes into the Skull’s eye sockets, the creature must make a DC 20 Will save each round or become subject to effects that mimic the powers brain lock and forced mindlink. The brain lock effect remains until the creature succeeds on its save, though the forced mindlink effect persists so long as the Skull and the target creature remain on the same plane of existence. The Skull retains a sliver of its consciousness during life, and may make requests of the target of its forced mindlink. Because of this, the Skull jealously guards its secrets from creatures that share mental powers similar to its own (such as psionics), and may refuse to interact with such a creature, rendering the above moot and the Skull little more than an exotic curios.
          The Skull’s aura also interferes with certain biochemical interactions found in vermin and other natural wildlife. Such creatures will not come within 10 feet of the Skull because of this, and may be driven around or away from it instead.
Type: Wondrous item (psionic); Manifester Level: 8th; Purchase DC: n/a (37); Weight: 18 lb.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beating the heat … WITH GAMES!

Tsuro markers at their start positions! (I'm brown, Jeff's blue, Mom's white, and Yume's black.)
Everyone got off to a fancy start (much better than the practice round previous), with Jeff and I positioning for the corner, leaving the ladies to scramble for higher ground.
Unable to cut me off at the pass (or having chose not to), Jeff veered north placing his fate squarely in the hands of mi madre.
Neatly avoiding the fray, Mom left Yume with little choice but to run smack into Jeff, eliminating them both.
Which quite naturally set me up for the win. Gracias!
Next, we took a shot at the "Passage to Dawn" adventure in The Legend of Drizzt, a scenario which had defeated us months ago. Jeff took on the role of stalwart dwarven fighter "Bruenor," Yume once again became the human archer "Catti-Brie," and I gladly gripped the twin scimitars of the titular drow ranger "Drizzt Do'Urden." We took down the massive balor rather handily this time, using teamwork, character abilities, and no shortage of valuable resources to slay the demon and free the captive Wulfgar without expending a single "Healing Surge" token!
Here's a closer look at the final game state. Bruenor and I bore through the demon as Catti-Brie held back and plucked with her arrows. Not even the sudden springing of a poison arrow trap—after the demon was down!—could deter us from breaking the crystal prison and achieving total victory.
And here's a close up of two of the nasties we had to face down en route to victory: the "Drow Blademaster" from the  Sting of Lolth expansion set, and the "Ogre" from Blood of Gruumsh.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Our First 4th

Yume (white) and I (green) started off the July 4th weekend with family at the center, roping Mom (yellow) and Dad (blue) into a round of Tsuro.
I seized the opportunity early, seeing everyone going in different directions from me, and sought to cordon off a private little section of real estate.
Meanwhile, Mom decided she wanted nothing to do with the rest of us and found herself running out of room. Yume and Dad were Thelma and Louise-ing due north.
Mom managed to save her bacon and found a crisscrossing path to the opposite corner. (Fortunately, for me, she chose to go north with them instead of south with me; a choice, at the time, that seemed to make all the difference.)
Inevitably, Yume and Dad followed their destiny off the board, while for Mom and I it became a race to see who could outlast the other.
Before long, the result was in and my strategy had won the day. (Course, had Mom made a different choice a few moves before, I might'n've been so lucky!)
Later, Yume and I gathered with several thousand others to witness Suisun City's annual fireworks show.
Seated on the docks, we were ideally situated to take in her very first Independence Day blast!

I think the way she reacts at the end of the this video says it all:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Nazi "Sleeper" Agent

Forgoing Donovan and Vogel, Indy's true nemesis in The Last Crusade is best portrayed by that of delicious Elsa—she is the last to get her comeuppance, after all.

(circa The Last Crusade, 1938)
Female Human Fast 2/Smart 2/Charismatic 2/Infiltrator 3/Field Antiquarian* 5; CR 14; Medium Humanoid (height 5' 9", weight 126 lb.); Age 25
* See Dark*Matter

Init +6; Senses (core) Listen +3, Search +12, Spot +5; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +12 (see below), Search +18
Languages Austrian, English, French, German, Italian, Latin (read/write only), Russian

Defense (core) 22, touch 22, flat-footed 20; Defense (house) 22, touch 17, flat-footed 20; Defensive Martial Arts (+2 Dex, +10 class)
hp 67 (14 HD); Mas 12
Fort +5, Ref +10, Will +7
Action Points 10

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +6/+1 (1d3 nonlethal, 20) or
Melee by weapon +6/+1 or
Ranged Luger pistol +8/+3 (2d6 ballistic, 20, 30 ft., S, 8 box) or
Ranged by weapon +8/+3
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +6; Grp +6
Atk Options none
Special Qualities none

Abilities Str 11, Dex 14 (13), Con 12, Int 15 (14), Wis 10, Cha 18 (17)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances herself, the “Grail Quest,” the Nazi Party, antiquities, evil; Rep +5; San 49
Feats Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Attentive, Deceptive, Defensive Martial Arts, Educated (Knowledge [history, theology and philosophy]), Improved Initiative, Meticulous, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Studious, Surface Vehicle Operation (powerboats), Trustworthy
Skills (core) Balance +5, Bluff +15 (+2 vs. males), Decipher Script +8, Diplomacy +11 (+2 vs. males), Disable Device +6, Disguise +12 (+2 vs. males), Escape Artist +10, Forgery +8, Gather Information +11 (+2 vs. males), Hide +4, Investigate +8, Knowledge (arcane lore) +5, Knowledge (art) +7, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Listen +3, Move Silently +7, Read/Write Austrian, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Russian, Research +12, Ride +6, Search +12, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +10, Speak Austrian, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Russian, Spot +5 (+4 when making a sweep), Swim +11
Skills (house) Athletics +11, Control +4, Deduce +16 (+2 on Decipher Script, Investigate, Search), Disable Device +7, Disguise +12 (+2 vs. males), Escape Artist +10, Forgery +8, Gather Information +12 (+2 vs. males), Knowledge (arcane lore) +5, Knowledge (art) +7, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (streetwise) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Perceive +12 (+2 on Sense Motive, +4 on Spot when making a sweep), Persuade +18 (+2 on Diplomacy, +2 vs. males), Read/Write Austrian, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Russian, Research +12, Ride +6, Sneak +17, Speak Austrian, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Russian
Talents (Fast) Evasion
Talents (Smart) Savant (Research)
Talents (Charismatic) Charm (males)
Talents (Infiltrator) Improvised Implements, Sweep
Talents (Field Antiquarian) Ancient Knowledge, Contact (low-level)
Starting Occupation Athlete (Swim as a permanent class skill, +1 on Balance, Ride; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (total weight 7 lb.) business outfit (blouse, jacket, & skirt; 3 lb.), Luger P08 9 mm pistol (2 lb.), briefcase (2 lb.), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +14

NEW FX Item Holy Grail
Said to provide eternal life to whomever drinks of it, the Holy Grail is the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, and which caught Jesus’ blood during the crucifixion. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich patron and follower of Christ, took possession of the Grail after Jesus’ body was interred in the tomb. Taken to Great Britain in 37 A.D., the Grail was intermittently held, lost, and rediscovered by various seekers, including knights of King Arthur’s court, until the 9th century after a period of raiding and trading found the grail in Asia Minor.
          In the year 1000, an Aramaic-speaking Semite secret society, eventually establishing itself as the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, used a preexisting Greco-Roman facade to construct the Temple of the Sun in a hidden gorge to house the Grail, where a great seal acted to prevent the artifact from being taken beyond the temple's entrance. They swore to keep it safe from discovery and misuse by any means. The Grail was found in the Canyon of the Crescent Moon by Knights of the First Crusade, three brothers who pledged to protect it. One of the brothers was chosen to stay behind while the other two returned to Europe and left a marker near Ankara about the Grail's location. Sir Richard's shield carried a second marker, but the man died on the journey home and was buried with his shield in a tomb in Venice, Italy. The third brother returned home and, in the 13th century, told his story to a Franciscan friar who recorded vague whereabouts of the holy relic and made a painting to accompany it.
          Holy Grail: By appearances, the Grail is nothing more than a partially weathered burnished clay cup, measuring approximately 9 inches tall with a 4.5-inch diameter across the rim—such as a carpenter might have owned during the 1st century. When fresh water is drank from this vessel, the imbiber is subject to a healing effect that immediately ends any of the following adverse conditions: ability damage, blinded, confused, dazed, dazzled, deafened, diseased, exhausted, fatigued, feebleminded, insanity, nauseated, sickened, stunned, and poisoned. The imbiber is also cured 150 hit points, up to their normal maximum. Anyone drinking from the Grail can only benefit from its rejuvenating powers once each day.
          Prior to the Grail being housed in the Temple of the Sun, anyone who drank from the chalice enjoyed prolonged, if not everlasting, life: they would age at 1/10 the normal rate. However, the magic of the temple’s great seal limit’s the Grail’s life prolonging effect only to those who do not cross the seal, thus turning seeming eternal youth into what would be a centuries’ long penance of imprisonment.
Type: Wondrous item (magic); Caster Level: 15th; Purchase DC: n/a (42); Weight: 1.5 lb.

Monday, June 16, 2014

RioCon, Day 3

Although we had planned to end things on a somewhat grander note (with Dominion and Star Fluxx), instead we wrapped up day three with the elegant stylings of another session of Tsuro.

Opening gambits: Dad (red) and Yume (white) started the action side-by-side, while I (blue) set course for the center of the board. 
Yume survived being sent to the edge and Dad and I came close to meeting in the middle.
Later, we all separated…
…only to come face-to-face with each other again.
I played the capper for Yume, though, laying the four-sided 180º whirl tile as seen at the tip of the red marker. In turn, it sent me packing for higher ground.
Here's how it stood after nine rounds: looks like I'm about to run out of real estate!
Or am I?
Victory! Here's a lesson for all you Tsuro-beginners out there: don't get stuck on the wrong side of that four-sided 180º whirl tile—it's the kiss of death.

Thus ended our "first annual" RioCon. Wherever your location, may your games never end: tis truly the path to the fountain of youth!