Saturday, September 17, 2011

Word of the Day. 9/17/2011

Word of the Day

goblin [gob-lin]
1. An evil and/or grotesque mythical creature described as mischievous or malicious toward humans.


I think all Dungeons and Dragons players have a favorite monster or type of monsters. For many, they love the classic powerhouse of a dragon, the scheming immortal undead lich or other D & D classics, like the displacer beast. These monsters are alot of fun to use but they lack a certain something.My favorite monsters don't usually have lots of powers or wealth. They have faults, quirks and most importantly, personalities.My favorite monsters in Dungeons and Dragons are goblins.

Goblins, as we dungeons and dragons players know them, was really given its shape by the expert hand of Tolkein in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. A Lich King, a turncoat wizard, Nazghul, orcs and a mostly naked crack addict (Gollum) are the biggest threats to the fellowship. In the Hobbit, the biggest threat is an army of goblins led by a goblin prince.

The idea of a scheming green humanoid got my attention. If orcs are the match for men than goblins were the match for dwarves. Goblins don't win through brute strength. Goblins when through scheming, deception and numbers. They make excellent minions, to quote the old idiom, "Throw goblins at a problem until it goes away. At the very least you'll have less goblins." I love goblins because they make great adversaries for low level (heroic level) heroes and in D & D most games are played at this low level. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of using goblins as a dungeon master is to take advantage of their versatility and variety. 

In Dungeons and Dragons there are 3 main varieties of goblins that a hero has to contend with. They each share common characteristics; large and pointed ears, a prominent jaw filled with pointy teeth and a small nose.The 3 varieties are:

 The smallest variety of goblins and the most numerous. They tend to have yellow-green skin, dark hair and beady eyes. Goblins are known for their wickedness, ill-tempers and cowardice. 

 The clever and militaristic race of hobgoblins are about human size, with reddish skin, dark hair and often facial hair. These warriors are disciplined and intelligent and can organize goblin and bugbear tribes into a formidable force.


These large, brutish and burly goblins are known for a surprising skill in stealth and though, not at intelligent as their smaller cousins, they can usually get ahead by bullying others or stealing what they want.

"Psst? Did he say we're people too?"
Yet, I see goblins different than most Dungeon Masters and most fantasy authors. In Beniro, the main setting I DM and write fantasy in looks at goblins with a different view. On one hand, traditionalists still view them as brutish monsters. Yet, some goblins strive for more, some goblins just want to be like everyone because goblins are people too.

For some this concept is completely silly. Yet, in Beniro, goblins, hobgoblins and even bugbears immigrate more and more often to the capital city. Yet, why would they leave their traditional homes for an urban life?

I suppose the first goblins to move to the cities were mercenaries and soldiers. Hobgoblins are the most civil of the three races and, therefore, as long as they could mind their Ps and Qs make excellent mercenaries. The next in line? Priests. In the Great Spine, the largest mountain range in the Wold (yes that's the name of the planet), a religious movement is spreading through the peoples
The Cult of Bung is a religion of peace and love. It was started by a goblin monk named Bung who is said to sit on the tallest mountain, praying for goblins and all monsters. His main message is that goblins and other intelligent creatures need not be monstrous. "Goblins are People Too." He would say. The idea spread through goblin and bugbear tribes and has caused a great pilgrimage of goblinoids to the human capital of Beniro. Initially, the people were weary but, despite their still being xenophobic tensions, they have become part of every day life. Each type has found a special function in the city.

The goblins make up the poorest slums of Beniro and are commonly found cleaning sewers, sweeping floors and doing dirty jobs nobody wants to do. Furthermore, they have found a special talent for salesmanship. One tribe of goblins, the Hands, are renown for their salesmanship. In our current campaign, they have met Scrib Hand, who tried to sell them such things as frozen yogurt and magic armor.
I love playing goblins as the nastier match up to halflings.

Next up, we got hobgoblins. As I mentioned before, they're renowned for their military prowess and are commonly found in mercenary guilds. Yet, the most important hobgoblin that the characters in my campaign know is their butler, Friday. Friday is the perfect butler, professional, clever and loyal to a point. Hobgoblins are great to play for their nasty but fair dealings.
Finally we got bugbears. To be fair, I have really had to stretch how people look at bugbears. Sure, most of them are still dumb as a brick, but I have also taken advantage of their talents. Being the best bullies, assassins and thieves what business would do bugbears better than professional crime? The most important bugbear the heroes have met in Beniro, is Michael Accordion AKA the Bugfather. He is the head of the mafia and founder of the Western Mercenaries guild. There is also a bugbear on the Guard, so they're not all criminals.

Yet, that's what I love about goblins. I love redefining them for my more Renaissance period kingdom of Beniro. Goblins are great for analogies and because their variety work for everything from indentured servants to illegal immigrants. I love goblins.

Don't give me that look. We'll talk about you tomorrow. Wink.



"Let's Play" has become a sub-genre of review/critic shows that specifically involve a host(s) playing a videogame until completion. Some Let's Play videos involve a critique of the game and other's just focus on completion. Two shows I have been watching that involve this type of video come from extremely different styles of hosts with different shows. Today, I'm going to talk about the two hosts and their shows as a discussion of these radically different strategies to this sub-genre. 

First up we have The Angry Video Game Nerd, hosted by James D. Rolfe AKA The Nerd and originally the Angry Nintendo Nerd (crazy right?). His career at the nerd didn't really take off until 2004, when he started doing reviews for Originally he focus on Nintendo titles but to prevent copyright issues and to diversify the Nintendo Nerd became the Video Game Nerd. Yet, why is he so angry?

The Nerd's show focuses on classic games from 80's and 90's era of video games. Unfortunately, even though there is plenty of shovelware today, the quality of even the top selling titles of those decades could be dreadful. For one, there seem to be a lot more movie/comic book/television show adaptations, and though a few titles have been great (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game), the majority are complete garbage. Furthermore, the games have begun to show their age, use faulty equipment (power glove) and, though there are guides/cheat sheets today, it is easy to see how frustrating titles could be from the era. 

Kill it with FIRE!

Thus, is the Nerd's duty to review these older, and usually crappier titles, and in doing his videos use sink into two modes. Sketches which usually sink into vulgarity and ranting. Yet, his sketches are funny and he uses colorful language like Mozart used music. It's easy to see why the nerd is so furious when he has to review so many terrible games. He even reviews the worst Mario game of all time, which I still own, Mario's Time Machine.

Thus with a trusty Rolling Rock beer in one hand, a power glove on the other and a Nintendo controller in both, it is the Nerd's job to revisit and verbally destroy the games that ruined long periods of innocent children's childhoods. For that I salute him!

On the other hand, nerd rage is not the only way to pursue video game reviews and bashing bad titles isn't the only way. Even The Nerd reviews games that are just harder. There is something more complex about older titles and their simple graphics make it somewhat hypnotic to watch. This is the idea behind the Japanese show GameCenter CX (ゲームセンターCX Gēmu Sentā Shī Ekkusu).

Arino uses cooling/heating pads to aid his concentration.
GameCenter CX (ゲームセンターCX Gēmu Sentā Shī Ekkusu) is better known as Retro Game Master by the American audience (its what I call it). The show was picked up in June by  and every Thursday they have posted a new translated video on their site, complete with subtitles and an English narrator. The host of the show is Shinya Arino, half of the Japanese comedy duo, Yoiko, AKA The Kacho (section chief). Yet, why is he the Kacho?

Retro Game Master has been running for 12 seasons since it's premiere in 2003. The show originally was about Arino interviewing and touring video game companies. A portion of the show was also dedicated to a challenge, with Arino playing a difficult retro game, and trying to defeat it. By the second season, the show shifted to focus on these video game challenges. Usually, Arino as the Kacho has to beat a difficult retro game in 24 hours (sometimes longer) and we get to join him for the ride.

While the Nerd searches for retribution, the Kacho is on a quest for completion. The show usually includes a short history of the classic game the Kacho is about to enjoy, commentary on the game's bosses, techniques and harder elements, but mostly is about Arino playing to win. There are also portions where the Staff (usually Assistant Directors) will offer advice or help in a title. The games are usually some of the hardest and his resolve keeps him going. He laughs off his deaths and in a 45 minute periods build a rapport with his audience. You feel his anguish and relish his victories.

 He isn't the best gamer and seems to know little about the games they are about to play. The sets are simple, a desk in an office, next to a window (usually used to show the change of time) and there are not a lot silly sketches. The show is all about the Kacho, his quirkyness, his laughs, his cries of anguish and his failures.Sometimes he realizes he has been using the wrong strategy after hours of play and sometimes uses cheap methods to overcome but that doesn't matter. You want to see the Kacho overcome!

Honestly, the Nerd and Arino couldn't be more different in their style, experience and over all philosophy when it comes to videogames. For a more casual video, running around 10 to 30 minutes, the Nerd is great. But if you're looking for an experience for about 45 minutes, Arino is your man for the job. Either way they have one thing in common! Despite the Nerd's rage and the Kacho's quirks, they both love video games!

For a great side by side analysis, check out their episodes on Ninja Gaiden below.


Fantasy Friday

I play Dungeons and Dragons every Friday. That is to say I run a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign every Friday set in the country of Beniro. As such I've decided to chronicle the hero's adventures from the perspective of different characters my friends play. Each week and each short chapter I will rotate the perspective so you can get a feel for all the characters. I will try my best to capture my friend's characters and the adventures they go on. I might change some elements but know I do it for the story.

A lot of the art I will be using is not credited, so if you know the artist, tell me and I'll label it appropriately.
Rise of the White Spider

Aramil, Half-Elf ranger and Stryder of the Red Oak Wood.
            The smell of the dwarf sitting next to him stung his eye socket, he wanted to lurch, but instead Aramil focused on other details of the inn. First, he closed his right eye, his only eye, and the other hidden under a tan bandage that he had wrapped around his head and tied at the back in a tight knot. The mouth came first as the stale taste of piss-poor ale and the bitter air of the Mud Rag lounged on the grooves of his tongue and teeth.  That smell, rancid and overpowering, the ancient dwarf had to have a terrible fungus, it covering up the scent of saw dust and vomit that rose from the floor. His hands rested on the counter, fingers tasting the cracks of the ancient wood, appreciating their age and flavor. His feet felt the dull rhythm of dwarf voices vibrate the souls of his feet through thin soles. It was warm and the sound of their gutter-talk and dealings weighed hotly in the air. He practiced shifting from one conversation to the other, his elven ears and human curiosity could be such a bothersome trait. He opened his right eye, green as rust, and the bright light slapped his eye ball as it caught the glare of a nearby lantern. He ignored the pain and took in everything. His senses needed to be at an all-time peak.

            He ducked and a chair smashed into the bartender across the countertop. Aramil slid to the floor, crouching, and pulled his bow from his back. A fat dwarf hit the floor with a soft grunt, face forward as Aramil tripped him with a careful swing of his bow. Tumbling over the dwarf, body in constant motion to the door, like a leaf falling between tree branches yet with more determination.

            His feet fell carefully as the gentle hooves of a moon stag on moss, all the while keeping his body low, swinging his bow around only to knock those in his way aside. Holding his breath, only exhaling when he made it under a table, and Aramil carefully calculated his position in reference to the door, his exit. He heard all four legs of the table scuff the stone floor and only barely made it out from underneath before it crashed to floor under the weight of two patrons locked in a violent embrace. 

            His hood fell down the back of his shoulders as he skirted his way around a hobgoblin in the arm lock of a red-faced half-dwarf.  He heard a metal breast plate fall to the floor with a klang and leapt up onto a table to dodge the half-dwarf’s grasp. He spun around and smacked him across the nose with the bow with a sickening THKT, as the half-dwarf fell back in a daze, only to regain his footing and lose sight of Aramil’s  banded mail as he rolled off the table and through the footfalls of the next brawl. 

            He rolled between two dwarfs, stepped on their ankles, and grabbed their beards in each hand. With a violent tug, their heads collided with a THD, and he left them in a heap as he made his way toward the door. Sweat dripped down his scalp to his unshaven chin as he saw his goal, the only obstacle a half-orc swinging a battle axe. He leapt, rolled, and as heard the grunt of a dwarven miner, ducked. Fat red drips of blood spattered onto his head, as he looked up, to see the half-orc standing there, axe embedded in his green chest. Aramil stood up, looked him in the eyes, and kicked the orc out of the doorway onto the stone street. 

He stepped over the body, only stopping to pull the attractive Dwarven axe from the fallen thug, before pulling his hood up and making his way down the street. He was ready.

Ready to repay his father’s debts and to make the bastard pay those owned to him. The man had abandoned him and his mother in the city of Beniro. He didn’t even remember his face, but his mother told him that Arin had given him his good looks. A good man couldn’t live on looks alone in Beniro. Perhaps, that is why his father left. His mother had told him the story a thousand times. 

Arin was much like Aramil. He was a ranger from the Red Oak Wood. Arin’s father, Arithir was a ranger, as we his father, and so on for as long as the Greenarrow Tribe had written the name of their people in the stars. Arin was a talented bowman but had left the red oaks of his family’s lands, against his father’s wishes, to become a vigilante. A Stryder, his mother told him time and time again.

A Stryder’s duty is to not only range his own land but to deal out just acts as far as he could go. His needs were that of the land and his riches were those in the stars above. His mother had told him that a Stryder could never settle down. That is why he left his only child and human mother to fend for their own without much word. That is what she believed.

Aramil believed it was far more selfish than that. His father was like many elf men who fathered half-elf children. Generally, half-elves had it luckier than any other half-humans, usually supported by both parents and sought out as the most charming company. Yet, some elf men could not bear a simple burden. A wood-elf like Arin could live well up to 300 years if he was lucky enough. He was already over 100 years old when he met Aramil’s mother and he would never age much more than he already had. Despite his age, he lacked wisdom or responsibility, and abandoned his wife and son for fear of watching them grow, shrivel and die before his time. That is what Aramil believed.

The day Arin had left Beniro, he had gotten a letter, just as Aramil had just gotten a few days before. In fact, the letter was from the same sender, King Duhkin Startooth of Doktham. It requested him to repay his debts for some service the King had granted him in his youth and so, a word or promise of return, he left his wife and infant son in their modest home. Arin had ridden out of the capital, Beniro, and to the North. To the North he went and to the North he had remained, without word, for almost 30 years.

Twenty-six years of waiting for a man who never returned, who left no inheritance, but left a hole unfilled. Yet, they were not fully abandoned. When word reached Arathir, the elf lord father of Arin, that his son had father his first grandson with a human lass he did not choose to ignore or spite them. He believed his son dead and wished his family no ill will. He sent gold and a letter. He told Aramil’s mother, Mawsha, that he would pay their rent and keep them well-fed with his coin until the boy was old enough to go to the Wood. Old enough came sooner than Mawsha had expected.

His grandfather came for Aramil when he was only a boy of fourteen, stubborn and angry, as he was taken from his life in the city. 

He was given no special treatment. His grandfather and uncles taught him the ways of the wood and their lessons were not easy. Their lessons were intended for an elven youth; a youth who would have spent a few dozen years playing, gambling and exploring his people’s protected lands. Aramil had only ever seen the wood once when his uncle visited the city when he was eight and insisted that he accompany him to the edge of the wood. He was a half-elf yet, in experience, all human. The lessons came at a cost for him. 

Twelve years of skirmishes with gnolls and hunting down monstrous owl bears had taught him the ways of the wood. Twelve years of watching the Seasons change, the elves not seeming to age a day, all the while he grew faster and stronger. Twelve years is all it took for him to catch up and become a full ranger. A ranger with one eye and a bow that had been passed down for generations and had more stories than could be told in a human life. He had lost his eye and perhaps that was the most important lesson of all. 

Then, a few weeks before, a letter made its way to the Red Oak. It told of debts owed by his father and of a king looking for a heroic fellow to repay those debts in exchange for wealth and honor. He cared not for those things. He had become a Stryder and his one eye saw many means to his ends.

He would find his father and make him pay.
A rough map of Beniro. Several mentioned landmarks are highlighted.

Word of the Day. 9/16/11

Word of the Day

meme [meem]
1.a cultural belief, idea or style that spreads from person to person and gains strength through repetition. 

(Most commonly uses in reference to memes spread over the internet, "Internet Memes")

ex. "U Jelly?"

There was a time before the internet. I know that is a crazy thought. The internet has brought the nerd culture so much, but perhaps nothing has become more important to us than memes. I love memes, for better or worse, because they bring us closer together. We share a common culture, globally over the many tubes that make up our interwebs and I find that to be pretty damn exciting. 

Below are some other great memes!

Memes aplenty. Keanu-meme is an obsession of mine for a WTF Wed. in the future.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today, was another awesome day. First, I revised my WTF Wednesday to fit my new plans. Here is a little clue as to some of the awesome changes.


Alright, now onto what entertainment I have enjoyed today and how I wish to share it with you. First up we got a Harry Potter Sorting House Quiz. It has a hundred and twenty six questions and is pretty dang accurate.

Its actually more of a personality test and is modeled after psychological personal tests that professionals use. Nifty


Looks like the fellas on Red Team and Blue Team are excited about Skyrim. 11/11/11

Check out this awesome weapon mod for Unreal Tournament involving the infamous Nyan Cat. Reek havoc and nyan your way to victory. 

Kotaku has been kind enough to post up a translated video from Retro Game Master every week. Watch as the Kacho takes on the forces of Death Adder in one of my favorite beat-em ups.

Steampoké b****es.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Word of the Day. 9/15/11

Word of the Day

deus ex machina [deh-uhs-ecks-mak-uh-nah]
1. In ancient Greek and Roman drama, a god introduced into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot.

2. Any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of the plot.

Ex. "Clash of the Titans is a a literal analysis of deus ex machina."

Today, we need to criticize one of the most important fantasy authors of all-time, if not the father of what we think of as Western Fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkein. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy are timeless and only made more beloved by their film adaptations (which were masterful and impressive, proving a genre film can be good fun). We all have a favorite character in the Lord of the Rings. I can't really choose between Smeagol/Gollum, Samwise, Gimli and wait, of course, Gandalf is the best. Silly me.

This gives me chills every frickin' time!
Furthermore, he set the standard for fantasy world building, creating several languages, both spoken and written, a whole geography and history literally thousands of years long for his world. Yet, Tolkein has a fatal flaw. He doesn't seem to know how to write his characters out of a corner and has to save them from Deus ex Machina. Some more obvious than others.

Back in White, Baby!

The worse Deus ex Machina he uses several times is the Eagles.

To the left, they save our heroes in the Hobbit.

 To the right, in Lord of the Rings.

I really don't want to spoil this one but, to those who know, the eagles save the day about 5 times between all 4 of the books.