Thursday, January 23, 2014

A death in the family.

Life is sometimes fraught with cruel twists of fate. That's not a complaint; we're all equipped to deal with whatever life delivers us. But this one hurts.

Just as Batman once lost Robin, so too have we lost a little bird dear to us. In both cases, it was too soon. Our one-of-a-kind lovebird has returned to the Great Birdhouse In The Sky. And so, we are left only to reflect.

Greentea, October (November, in our care) 2013 - January 2014, "Would have made a bird lover out of anybody!"
Sayonara tomodachi! (Bye buddy!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sneak Peek at "The Alchemist's Run"

Stop what you're doing right now! Go here and check out this nifty piece of fiction! Then join our forums, comment, like, share, rinse and repeat. We're sure it'll leave you feeling dirty with anticipation.

More to come!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I don't mind being dealt a card again at the holidays.

Yume flexed her engineering muscles by correctly fitting together Charles and Ray Eames specially designed House of Cards. I offered a few suggestions, but she did all the painstaking work. Took her 3-4 hours over 3 days.
When Trevor arrived for a visit recently, he, Dad, and I threw down as lords of Waterdeep, using both the Undermountain and Skullport add-ons from the expansion. Corruption and the advanced quests and locations offered in this long version of the game really changes how you play. Replay value is immense, and the full game offers a lot to consider and puzzle over. We took a break part way through this playthru, and it was hard for me to tear myself away from the board, thinking about my next move. Dad (Durnan the Wanderer) scored 148, Trevor (as Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun) finished with 154, and I (Sammereza Sulphontis) narrowly won with 157 victory points. 
Next, Trev, Yume, and I manufactured a team win playing the "Escape from Neverneath" scenario in The Legend of Drizzt. The penultimate moment came when we were attacked by twin trolls, one of which dropped Jarlaxle (played by Trevor), and nearly killed Athrogate (played by me). We were lucky to find the exit tile when we did, and even luckier that we drew a stalagmite (i.e. no monster) card during the final stretch.
All of us then enjoyed a playthru of Betrayal at House on the Hill. I played "Madame Zostra," Dad was "Professor Longfellow," Yume started as "Missy Dubourde" and Trevor as "Darren 'Flash' Williams," but they switched when the haunt was revealed. 
Ultimately, the horrific rigors of the house made Missy become a werewolf, soon to be followed by Darren (who was attacked first) and the Prof. Earlier, the Prof and I had discovered a revolver, but soon I was the only one left to desperately search for silver bullets. Sadly, just as I found them, Missy and her brood arrived and slew me. The haunts of the house had won this time.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The French Raider in White

Watched Raiders of the Lost Ark again recently (an all-time favorite of mine), and since I've already done The Man With The Hat, I felt compelled to stat (using the d20 Modern ruleset) his arch-nemeses from each of the films. Here goes!

(circa Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1936)
Male Human Fast 1/Smart 2/Charismatic 3/Field Antiquarian* 7; CR 13
Medium Humanoid (height 5' 10", weight 160 lb.); Age 39
* See Dark*Matter

Init +0; Senses (core) Listen +3, Search +10, Spot +3; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +5, Search +14
Languages Ancient Hebrew, Arabic, Dutch (speak only), English, French, German, Latin (read/write only), Quechua (speak only), Spanish, Swedish (speak only)
* See Dark*Matter

Defense (core) 16, touch 16, flat-footed 16; Defense (house) 16, touch 11, flat-footed 16; (+0 Dex, +6 class)
hp 46 (13 HD); Mas 10
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +9
Action Points 9

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +5 (1d3 nonlethal, 20) or
Melee by weapon +5 or
Ranged .32 revolver +5 (2d4 ballistic, 20, 15 ft., S, 6 cyl.)
Ranged by weapon +5
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +5; Grp +5
Atk Options Point Blank Shot
Special Qualities none

Abilities Str 10, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 16 (14), Wis 12, Cha 16 (15)
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances himself, antiquities, evil; Rep +7; San 59
Feats Confident, Deceptive, Educated (arcane lore, art), Meticulous, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, Quick Reload, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Studious, Windfall
Skills (core) Bluff +13 (+3 when lying), Decipher Script +15, Diplomacy +20 (+3 when lying), Disguise +5, Forgery +8, Gamble +5 (+3 when cheating), Gather Information +11, Hide +3, Intimidate +8, Investigate +5, Knowledge (arcane lore) +15, Knowledge (art) +10, Knowledge (history) +11, Knowledge (streetwise) +7, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Listen +3, Move Silently +3, Profession (antiquities dealer) +6, Read/Write Ancient Hebrew, Read/Write Arabic, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Spanish, Research +11, Search +10, Speak Ancient Hebrew, Speak Arabic, Speak Dutch, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Quechua, Speak Spanish, Speak Swedish, Spot +3
Skills (house) Decipher Script +16, Deduce +12 (+2 on Search), Disguise +5, Forgery +9, Gamble +6 (+3 when cheating), Gather Information +12, Knowledge (arcane lore) +16, Knowledge (art) +10, Knowledge (history) +12, Knowledge (streetwise) +8, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +10, Perceive +5, Persuade +19 (+2 on Bluff, Intimidate, +3 when lying), Profession (antiquities dealer) +7, Read/Write Ancient Hebrew, Read/Write Arabic, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write German, Read/Write Latin, Read/Write Spanish, Research +11, Sneak +7, Speak Ancient Hebrew, Speak Arabic, Speak Dutch, Speak English, Speak French, Speak German, Speak Quechua, Speak Spanish, Speak Swedish
Talents (Fast) Evasion
Talents (Smart) Linguist
Talents (Charismatic) Coordinate, Fast-Talk
Talents (Field Antiquarian) Ancient Knowledge, Contact (low-level, mid-level)
Starting Occupation (core) Aristocrat (+1 on Diplomacy)
Starting Occupation (house) Aristocrat (+1 on Persuade)
Wealth Bonus +18
Possessions (total weight 10.5 lb.) cream-color panama hat, formal outfit (cream-color linen suit; 3 lb.), formal outfit (Jewish priest’s attire w/miter; 3.5 lb.), suitcase (as briefcase; 2 lb.), pocket revolver (.32 caliber; 2 lb.), pocket journal, various personal items

NEW FX Item Ark of the Covenant
After the Ten Commandments were smashed by Moses, the pieces were collected in the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-gilded wooden chest constructed under instruction from God and carried before the Hebrews on their march towards the Promised Land.
          When the Hebrews settled in Canaan, they placed the Ark in the Temple of Solomon, until it mysteriously disappeared. However, it seems that in about 980 BC the Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak raided the Temple and took the Ark with him to the city of Tanis, where he placed it inside the Well of the Souls to hide it from the eyes of his sun god Amun-Ra.
          Adolf Hitler became interested in acquiring the Ark in order to achieve world domination. In 1936, when US agents Colonel Musgrove and Major Eaton discovered this, they sent Indiana Jones on a mission to find the Ark before the Nazis.
          Ark of the Covenant: Legends of the Ark's powers vary from Rabbinical account to Biblical account to historical account and back again. One such legend claims that if an army (consisting of 50+ soldiers) carries the Ark before it upon entering into battle, all allied combatants possessing the Ark shall receive a +4 sacred bonus on all attack rolls, checks, and saves while directly engaging an enemy force. Under most other circumstances, the Ark is simply an ornate vessel for what it carries. If disturbed or used in a way unworthy of God's will, however, the Ark has defensive capabilities that are either well recorded or purported.
          Without first addressing the Ark through proper Hebrew ritual, he or she who physically touches the Ark must succeed on a DC 20 Fortitude save or die instantly, and even on a successful save the target is rendered blind, deaf, and dumb (unable to speak) for 1d6 hours afterward. (Moving the Ark by use of poles allows movers to carry the Ark without touching it directly.)
          If the Ark is uncovered anywhere outside of the Promised Land, a divine maelstrom will ensue 1d6+1 rounds afterward, covering an area 333 feet in radius centered on the Ark, and lasting 1 minute. While the maelstrom lasts (10 rounds), all those within this area suffer 1 point of damage per round, 1d6 damage per round if they possess an allegiance to evil, or 2d6 damage per round if the target is an outsider type other than angels or other goodly-aligned heavenly guardians. All damage caused by the Ark ignores damage reduction or resistances of any kind, and all damage sustained until the maelstrom ends is cumulative when calculating massive damage. Creatures reduced to 0 hit points or that fail their saving throws against massive damage caused by this maelstrom are instantly disintegrated and consumed by divine fire.
          While the Ark undoubtedly possesses other destructive or more benign traits, no known details of these exist.
Type: Wondrous item (magic); Caster Level: 15th; Purchase DC: n/a (44); Weight: 183 lb.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"The Legend of Drizzt" Playthru: "Starless Night—Passage to Dawn" Duology (Part 2)

We tried our hand at the "Passage to Dawn" adventure scenario earlier this week. Boy, did we have a rough start! We drew a bunch of unforgiving traps and encounter cards, the damage from which we never fully recovered. Also, if Catti-Brie takes point, always make good use of her "Quick Step" feature: you never want her to be the one spending healing surges!
Needless to say, we failed the adventure. We got close. We found Wulfgar and confronted the demon lord Errtu (and even put 6 damage on him), but both I (Drizzt) and Dad (Bruenor) fell before we could satisfy the win conditions. Still it was tons of fun trying to strategize our way to victory.
See what happened last time!

New Years Scrabble

Standard cutthroat rules with special tiles and using Yume's English/Japanese dictionary as the final judge, I manufactured a come-from-behind win with 140 points (averaging more than 15.5 points per round). It was the most exciting match we've played as a family yet. Dad came in 2nd with 122 points, though he led most of the game with early plays of 26 and 50 points in consecutive rounds. Yume came in 3rd with 94, and Mom (who blamed her tiles) brought up the rear with 85.