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Archive for January, 2013

comics

It all happened so fast, I can hardly make sense of it. I clearly remember leaving an assessment session at a school and stopping for a brief workout at the gym. At this point things are kind of a blur of images, feelings, and sensations. Next thing I know I am back at my office staring with utter disbelief at what is strewn across my desk, the fog of war clears slightly and the realization hits me like a cock punch: I just bought fucking comic books…again. Then in an almost dissociative like fugue I watched myself create a back issue want list, place an order from Mile High Comics, purchase the Overstreet price guide, buy tickets to FanExpo Comicon, and set up and online subscription service. I am awash in a maelstrom of emotions, vacillating from utter shame and disgust to arousal..er I mean excitement. That line from the Godfather III keeps echoing through my head: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”

I guess it’s not really a surprise, once a junky always a junky. I had been getting a little taste digitally over the last year or so and foolishly thought digital comics was the answer. It seemed ideal, low cost 😉 no fuss no muss. In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before I wrapped my big fat lips around the comic book crack pipe again. I think the tipping point was when I started listening to comic book podcasts. Now once again I find myself accumulating and storing things that will never even be worth the paper they are printed on, it just seems so stupid except for the fact that reading actual comic books is so fucking awesome I can’t even tell you. I just want to rub and smother myself in them like some creepy Scrooge McDuck scene, that’s how fucking awesome they are.

How long will this last? Who knows, as an addict you generally want your relapses to be briefer in duration and longer between episodes. I went with an online subscription service from All New Comics to try and mitigate the hurt, as they offer 20% off the U.S. cover price and reasonable shipping rates. If I was in the States I would have gone with DCBS and their redonk 30-40% off cover price deal. I also have purged some of my collection, mostly stuff I don’t want to hold onto anymore. The problem I am running into is what to do with them as they are not worth anything and I don’t really want to throw them out (that would make me physically ill).

This relapse has also got me thinking about gaming. My Dark Sun game is hopefully wrapping up soon and I was thinking of taking a break from the fantasy genre and running some limited stuff with superheroes. The question is which system, I have several editions of Hero, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd & 3rd editions, and the Marvel Heroic rpg (notice a trend here, I assure you my wife does as well). I also think I might post occasionally about comics and what I am reading or finding interesting, so bear with me.

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This post is for all the 4th edition players out there, or at least those of you willing to admit your still playing 4th edition which has become the gaming equivalent of smoking while pregnant..not technically against the law but overwhelmingly met with shock, revulsion, and swift condemnation by others. I wanted to let people know that there is still awesome content being produced, not by Wizard’s of the Coast mind you (god forbid), but by others Midgard-Bestiary-4e-COVER_SMALLwith a real passion for the system and who share the belief that it was thrown in the wood chipper a little to soon. I am not just talking about great fan generated content like Frothsoff 4e, but company generated stuff as well.

The Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition (Open Design) by Richard Green and Brian Liberage is one of these new products that really scratched an itch for me. I have written before that one of my major gripes with 4th edition is that they didn’t get the monster math sorted out until later in cycle, causing the majority of the monsters designed for the system to be full of suckage and virtually unusable. When I flip through the Monster Manual 1 and 2 I actually feel embarrassed for the monsters, like I am embarrassed for them. It would literally be a crime to have them square off with the veritable plethora of twinked up pc’s I am frequently assailed by. Listen I know what your gonna say “the players don’t always have to be physically threatened, you can have alternative combat goals…blabity blah blah blah” Sometimes you just wanna smash the pc’s in the mouth and let them know you mean business.  

The Bestiary does not suffer at all from this monster impotence as it utilizes the updated damage progression. The monster ecologies and fluff are based, not unsurprisingly, on the Midgard setting, another Open Design project and originally Wolfgang Baur’s homebrew world. I enjoy reading fluff, you might even say that I am a bit of a fluffer (kidding), and the Midgard Bestiary really delivers in this regard. Don’t let this push you away from the product though, as the monster mechanics are not tied to the setting and are easily re-skinned. For example, I have used dudes exclusively from this book to stock the latest location in my Dark Sun game full of Tareks. In the end it is really the mechanics that matter most and the book offers some interesting and cool variations for a little freshness. I particularly liked the several different Hags and Babba Yaga’s Horseman.

I managed to snag this bad boy through a Kickstarter project. I got a full color soft cover print edition and a pdf (if you’re reading Wizards take some notes) for 25$, well worth it my opinion. Overall, I really like this product and find it refreshing to grab a monster book that isn’t the “Monster Vault” for a change when I am looking to make my players crap their pants

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Cannon Fodder

I’ve had Tareks on my mind of late. No, it’s not what your thinking, nothing sexual or erotic I can assure you. I just happen to have one in my Dark Sun game and, well, I think it is time for him to sort of step into the spot light a bit. I wouldn’t necessarily say he has been a bump on the log but if you just happened to be sitting on a log and felt something uncomfortable it’s probably not your hemorrhoids. When we did a bit of Q&A as he introduced his latest character (his 2 previous ones have been KIA) he stated that he was an orphan who had been picked up by the Muto Tieflings as a child and had lived outside their cave for most of his life, never traveling outside the area and having no ties to anything.  I kind of chuckled at this and then ribbed him mercilessly at work about the non-background he created. Even when one of the other players tried to collaboratively build him into the fiction and emergent story of the game he steadfastly clung to his history.

This player tends to stick to the rear in social interactions and collaborative story telling scenes (in fairness he does have a bit of social anxiety and often worries he will make a mistake or do/say something foolish) but that is all about to change because I am going to drop him squarely into the centre of a shit storm. In the “business” we call that exposure with response prevention (although in fairness it is going to be and feel more like flooding).  I am going to start the next session with the party in a large pit surrounded by the Dark Sun equivalent of wolves and a mob of Tareks looking down, cheering, hurling feces, cursing, and betting. Then with some Q&A we’ll try and sort out how this all came to be.

*Warning* if you are some kind of Dark Sun cannon purist then this next part might make you feel like I dropped trou and bricked in your mouth. I am going to model the Tareks on Klingons from Star Trek The Next Generation. They are going to be a nomadic collection of clan/houses lead by an overall war leader. Perhaps in the green time they had a larger nation/empire but where almost extinguished during the racial cleansing of the brown times. One of their motivations might be to create another great Tarek empire. I have been researching some Klignon terminology so I can mix that into conversations.

With regards to my player (and the group) it should be interesting to see what they create. In my mind I have a couple of possible elements of fiction I can add such as the Warf story line from STNG where he is considered an outcast because his family was falsely branded traitors or if they survive the pit they might prove themselves worthy to be hunted ala  “The Most Dangerous Game”. Well whatever it turns out to be it should be interesting; I just hope it is not too traumatic for the Tarek PC 😉

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