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: