Saturday, October 22, 2011


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.
CHAPTER 1- Lorafaine 
CHAPTER 2- Aramil
CHAPTER 3 - Ryjac
CHAPTER 4- Lucius
CHAPTER 5- Nadarr
CHAPTER 6- Lora Faine II

             Three dwarf guards stood on either side of the Undergate and each pulled a black lever in the wall. Aramil listened as ancient gears and levers, in the stone walls, kicked into motion and took pressure off the sides of the door. The door hummed softly as he watched Ryjac approach the door, pull off her right glove and placed her palm on one of the ornate symbols on the door. The drow whispered something in the thick dwarven dialect of the Shale Mountains, each syllable falling like a hammer, as the door glowed with a soft white sheen. She pulled her hand back, the massive door slid down into the ground, and they got their first look at the Underwold.

            A gust was sucked toward them as the door sank into the floor and Aramil breathed in the Underwold’s air for the first time. It was the smell of the forest floor in autumn; moist, earthy and something else, something telling. It was like the stench of rot found in old logs or the foul breath of dying man. It was the stench of rotting, molding, expiring death. He could not help but shiver as it washed over him in a soft wheeze before being sucked back into the tunnel ahead, which stood before them like a great gaping mouth. Ryjac had said it would swallow them up and Aramil was sure she was right. He took a step forward.

            Ryjac stopped him with a hand, and half-turned to meet him, “Would you grab a torch from my bag?”

            Aramil nodded, pulling a torch from the back slung across her back and, was about to ask her if she had some flint and steel but instead, lit the torch in a brazier that sat beside the door. He handed Ryjac the lit torch and she stepped out in the darkness ahead. Aramil took another step forward but noticed something else unsettling. Ryjac barely got a few meters away and the light of her torch was all but obscured. He quickly walked into the tunnel, followed by the other members of the party, with Nadarr taking up the rear. 

            The sound of footsteps pounded on Aramil’s ears. He made a mental note to learn the sounds of their footsteps so that he could learn to ignore them with greater ease. A few hours and he would be able to use his ears to guard them from danger. He paused again and the footsteps stopped as with a soft rumble the door behind them slid down and, with the sound of stone being pressed against stone, the door closed and the circle of light from behind them went out. The footsteps resumed and so did he.

He heard Lucius behind him, saying some words under his breath, before a dull light came over his shoulders. He looked over his shoulder and saw the tiefling holding a ball of yellow-orange flame in his left hand. He had heard tieflings were masters of the infernal and seen a tiefling fire-breather in the city of Beniro. His mother told him that tieflings were a race of born of fire and brimstone. The fire-breather bathed himself in flames of all colors before the audience and no harm came to him or his clothes. His mother explained that the fire-breather could control the color of flames but most tieflings change the color of flame without trying. A tiefling showed his heart in such flames. He smirked with satisfaction as he looked around, knowing that he was right about Lucius being a coward, making him all the more confident.

“Look.” Aramil heard Ryjac whisper the command and followed her hand where it was pointing. Ahead of them was a little patch of blue glowing. After a moment, the glow disappeared and Ryjac explained, “There is a Cleansing Rune on this corridor. That glow was the bioluminescence of a moon-fungus. They’re quite common in the tunnels. You think it would be nice to have them but if you don’t keep them in check they’ll take over an entire tunnel. The light of the fungus attracts all sorts of nasty creatures.”

“What sort of thing lives down here?” Lora Faine asked.

“Bats, rats, drakes, snakes,” Lucius chuckled playfully, “Nasty things.”

“And spiders.” Ryjac mumbled.

“Ech, I sure hope not.” Lucius grumbled.

            “What’s wrong? Don’t like spiders?” Aramil asked with a smirk.

            “No, I am not particularly fond of spiders,” Lucius replied, defensively, “But I am not scared of them.”

            “I would be scared of the spiders down here.” Ryjac said.

            Nadarr guffawed and said, “Not me. I cannot wait to meet one of these cave monsters face to face and sword to spi-.”

            “Shh!” Suddenly, Ryjac stopped, and everyone fell silent. Aramil pulled his bow from his back and notched an arrow, straining to find the threat or obstacle that Ryjac was looking for but he could see she was just staring off into the darkness ahead.

            “What is it?” Lora Faine asked, slowly coming forward to stand next to Aramil.
            Ryjac didn’t move as she whispered, “I could see swear I heard something ahead of us and saw something move up the wall.” Her head moved side to side as she dropped her torch to the ground and pulled a sword from each of her hips. Aramil could hear what Ryjac saw and quickly aimed his bow to the ceiling.

            Everyone seemed to watch his motion because Lora Faine pulled her own sword from its hilt, the sound of Nadarr unsheathing his own sword and shield behind him rang through the strained silence, and the light off of Lucius’s hand was replaced by a might brighter humming blue light. Something skittered ahead of them and large shadows skittered across the walls and ceiling. He shot an arrow at one of them and a shivering his came in reply to the true strike of his arrowhead into something crisp.

            Lucius hissed through his teeth, “What is it? Spiders?” Aramil shook his head and notched another arrow.

            “More legs than that.” He shot another arrow as the shadows made heirs way overhead and dropped down, on either side of them, from the ceilings. Yet, the shadows made on beast, of many parts. One of its heads rose up in front of Nadarr as the other did so in front of Ryjac. Aramil backed toward the wall to the left and notched another arrow, “Centipede.”

            As his third arrow stuck the two-headed red behemoth in the middle, the beast let out a clacking hiss and Ryjac and Nadarr blocked the first blows from their dripping maws. Aramil dodged and weaved between the heroes, hitting the creature with arrow, after arrow but they seemed to have little effect. Ryjac and Nadarr seemed to be having little luck either, to busy dodging the beast’s quick head bites to take a good swing at it, Lucius was on his knees search for something in his bag and Lora Faine just stood there.

            “Wait!” She lowered her own sword as she walked up behind Ryjax and spoke directly to the beast, “We meant you know harm!”

            It hissed and Ryjac barely dodged another bone-crushing snap from its claws. The beast reared back and came at Lora Faine. The centipede’s head rocked to the side and away from the elf.  It would have been the end for her but Aramil had struck it in the side of the head with his seventh arrow. Aramil grabbed her arm and pulled her toward the wall, “You’re going to get yourself killed.” She looked at him and her eyes went from fear to a hardened stare. She apologized with a nod and ran at the other wall. The beast let out a shriek as he watched Lora Faine sink her sword into its shell. He notched another arrow, keeping his eye on the heads, and moving toward Lucius as the tiefling mumbled,
            “In a moment, I am almost ready, just keep it occupied.”

            “What the bloody hell are you doing?” Aramil hissed under his breath.

            “My swords stuck!” Lora Faine leapt back as the beast swung its head at her, the other occupied with Nadarr, and the beast dribbled its blood from its mouth. Aramil spotted a blade stuck in the space under his head.

            “Ryjac!” He shouted as he looked over and saw the drow was lying in a heap over by the wall. The centipede swung its head at him and he knocked it back with another arrow. Lora Faine backed up toward him.

            “I need just one more moment!” Lucius mumbled as Aramil stood in front of him with Lora Faine, the beast clicking it jaws as it reared for another strike. Aramil dodged its deadly bite and rolled over by the wall. Lora Faine had done the same, though not quite as gracefully, stumbling into the wall.

            “Lucius!” Lora Faine shouted at the tiefling as the beast reared up, clicking and hissing. Aramil moved to notch another arrow, but was finding his quiver difficult to reach, and knew if he did not act quickly they would be two men down. Nadarr was roaring at the other head, but Aramil could not tell if the roar was of pain or fury.

            “I’ve got it!” Lucius suddenly stood, swinging a flaming blue sword from his hilt and cyclone of white flames engulfed the head of the creature. It struggled but after a moment it fell to the ground with a crunch. “Take that you ugly bastard!” Lucius laughed as he swung his sword overhead and down into the beasts head.

            As the first head died, the other let out a howl, only to be silence as Nadarr tackled it to the ground. Aramil looked over at Lora Faine, “Ryjac,” He began running toward Nadarr, “See if she needs help!”

            Lucius was already running toward Nadarr but leapt back, nearly knocking Aramil over, as Nadarr was thrown back into a wall as the beast rose up off the ground. Aramil searched for an arrow, backing up, as Lucius stood there, holding his sword, and staring at the great ugly beast. It swung down and knocked Lucius into the other wall and dragged its body after the half-elf instead. Aramil tripped over Lucius’s bag and fell back on his ass, “Damnit!” The beast swung down at his face but the sound of knife cutting through flesh rang through the air and green blood splattered his face. The head fell into his lap and he quickly recoiled from it, standing up, to see Nadarr holding its body down, Lucius holding his sword to defend himself from the floor and Ryjac sword slumping to the floor as she turned around to look down at him.

            “Are you alright?” Nadarr asked as he pulled himself up. Aramil nodded, looking around, and seeing Lora Faine pulling at her sword until it came free from the dead centipede. They all were worse for wear. Aramil was covered in toxic blood, Nadarr’s left arm bracer had been pulled off, Lora Faine limped toward him and Lucius just sat there in shock. Ryjac’s had a thick gash across her left arm. Aramil was just about to pull himself up and see if he could help Ryjac attend to that wound when Lucius interrupted him.

            “Is it dead?”

            Aramil glared at the tiefling, “You little-.” A loud laugh cut him off. Nadarr was cracking up, slowly but surely, his low rumbling laugh building. It started with him but it soon infected them all. Lora Faine giggled, Lucius chuckled, Ryjac chortled and Nadarr guffawed. Aramil didn’t know whether it was out of the fact they were still nervous or whether they were happy to be alive. But as he lay there, covered in centipede blood, and the other’s laughed in the near darkness, he couldn’t help but smirk.

Word of the Day. 10/22/11

inception [in-sep-shuhn]
1. beginning, start, commencement.
2. British. the act of graduating or earning a degree.
3. [in science fiction] the act of installing an idea into someone's mind by entering his or her dreams.

EX.  Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION was a film that furthered the idea of inception that was explored in other films like Dreamscape but produced it in Matrix quality. The idea of invading someone's dreams and traveling through various levels of the subconscious is not nearly as unattainable as you would think.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Word of the Day. 10/21/11

monkey wrench [munhg-kee-rench]
1. a wrench with an adjustable jaw permitting it to grasp nuts or the like of different sizes.
2. something that interferes with functioning.
3. an obstacle

EX. In J. K. Rowling's best-selling Harry Potter series they introduced a time travel device in the the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Despite the fact that this object has the quality to allow its user to go back as far as they can turn back the device, one hour per turn, they gave it to Hermione Granger so she could take multiple classes at once. They very vaguely imply some sort of danger the device can cause but, according to the evidence presented in the book, it is practically fool proof. Therefore, we can only assume that J. K. Rowling allowed it to fade into the background as to not become a monkey wrench in the gears and cogs that move the well-timed machine that is the Harry Potter Universe and timeline.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Hark, a Vagraint is a wonderful webcomic by Kate Beaton. She covers a range of subjects from history to literature and, as seen above, occasionally draws a dandy strip satirizing our favorite super heroes. I have been reading her strips for a couple of years and they are an absolute treat. They range from silly comics about the "Sexy Tudors" to the tragic but amusing life of a chimney sweep. Her comics are usually done in black and white, a style I prefer, but occasionally she does colored comics like the one above. Check out her website and if your really dig here, consider picking up one of her wonderful books.

P.S. She is so cool she even got an homage on Adventure Time dedicated to her Shetland Pony character in the episode "The Eyes".

Word of the Day. 10/20/11

A map of Skyrim, the setting of Elder Scrolls V. Coming 11/11/11.

cartography [kahr-tog-ruh-fee]
1. the production of maps, including construction of projections, design, compilation, drafting, and reproduction.

cartographer [kahr-tog-ruh-fer]
1.a person engaged in the production of maps.

EX. Something about fantasy games inspires beautiful cartography. I hope to be a good cartographer, some day.

A map I made of BENIRO, the setting for my current D & D 4e Game and of my Fantasy Friday: Action Society articles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



Fu fu fu...

Warning: Certain aspects Japanese folk culture can seem strange or even offensive to Western audiences. This is gonna be a strange article.

Before we begin, here are some useful definitions:

yokai [yoh-kai]
1. a Japanese spirit, demon, or monster.
tanuki [tah-noo-kee]
1. a Japanese raccoon dog.
2. a highly mischievous, jolly but somewhat gullible and absentminded creature of Japanese myth, that usually takes the form of a raccoon dog but is master of disguise and shape-shifting.

Many Americans, at least those who owned Super Mario Bros. 3, have heard of the word tanuki and probably even used it. Mario in his "tanuki suit" is the most iconic image from the game. Yet, the costume's meaning is probably confusing to most Americans. To use Mario's tanuki suit you have to find a leaf, pick it up, and poof, you can hover with the use of the ring-tail. Some people call this the raccoon suit without knowing/considering two things; tanukis, though called raccoon dogs, are neither raccoons nor dogs and they can't fly. So why tanuki?
Look at these chubby, adorable bastards!

Somehow less adorable in Pom-Poko...
It is because tanuki are one of the most beloved creatures, or yokai, of Japanese mythology. They are Japan's match to the English Leprechaun. Tanuki are chubby, mischievous and jolly creatures who use their shape-shifting powers to trick humans. Luckily, they're more often mischievous than mean-spirited. There is one feature about tanuki that is far less palatable to the West. That would be the tanuki's kintama.

Holy s***! Look at those bullocks!

The kintama is actually are WTF subject of the week. The kintama are the tanuki's bullocks (or for those of your at home who don't know British expletives, kintama are their testicles). They are quite prominent on the real-life animal but on the mythical creature they take an even more bizarre size and use. Firstly, they represent good fortune, as kintama literally translates to "golden spheres," implying their worth. They're not only a symbol of good fortune but are practical.In fact, they are said to have literally fifty uses for the kintama. You can see some of these uses in traditional Japanese art.
Not only are they the tanuki's preferred weapon of choice but they can also be used for catching birds and fish.
Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking right now, "those kooky Japanese! With all their perversions and such!" Yet, you're not really being fair. This is not intended to be sexual. If anything, it is parody and humor. Furthermore, at the very least, it is very original and interesting. You may also believe tanuki are just for adults. You're dead wrong. Just to remind you that they're for kids and no different than say, unicorns, to our children....
Studio Ghibli, the same company that brought us My Friendly Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Spirited Away made a film in 1994 dedicated to the little creatures. It makes a lot of sense. Studio Ghibli's films commonly have a pro-nature message and the film is about a clan of tanuki trying to survive as human civilization is encroaching on their territory. The tanuki stand on the line between the human realm, due to their personalities and the animal realm, they are animals, and thus can serve the nature message as well as serving as an analogue for rural Japanese society. If you can get past the kintama, and believe me they use a lot of it in this movie, Pom Poko is a solid animated film.
Before we finish, let's look at the 8 Special Traits that tanuki believe bring good fortune. Interestingly enough, tanuki commonly carry items with the Japanese kanji (Japanese symbol) for the number 8 painted on the side.
8 Special Traits for Good Fortune
1. A hat to be ready to protect against trouble or bad weather.
2. Big eyes to perceive danger and help make good decisions.
3. A sake bottle that represents virtue and generosity.
4. A big tail that represents steadiness until success is achieved.
5. Big bullocks to symbolize financial luck.
6. A promissory note that represents trust or confidence.
7. A big belly that symbolizes bold and calm decisiveness.
8. A friendly smile.

And with that, I bid you sayonara.

Word of the Day! 10/19/11

Cave Johnson
combustible [kuhm-buhs-tuh-buhl]
1. capable of catching fire and burning; inflammable; flammable
2. easily excited
3. a combustible substance.

EX."When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade - make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons, what am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager. Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons. Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons. I'm going to to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Yama Hachiyama
I love Dungeons and Dragons. I have been playing, more or less, once a week for over two years and I don't ever plan to stop playing. Most of the times I've played Dungeons and Dragons, I have been the Dungeon Master. For those who don't know, a Dungeon Master is the guy who is in charge of telling the story, determining what monsters and characters the other players come across and, in essence, is the god of the world the players explore. As an author, it gives me a chance to flex my creative muscles.

So, it is not that often, especially lately, that I have been able to play instead of DM. On Sunday, my friend Zach started a new Advance Dungeons and Dragons campaign with us set in an Asiatic setting, much like Edo Japan (think Inuyasha). I was skeptical, at first, because I thought that myself and the other two player characters would have to be human. Instead, I discovered a race called Hengeyokai.

Hengeyokai are animal spirits or demons that can switch between an animal form, a bipedal monstrous form and a human form. A Hengeyokai can be any kind of animal and I couldn't help myself but be drawn to the Japanese Raccoon Dog or Tanuki. I could go into a whole entire blog about tanuki because of just how weird and interesting Japanese folklore on the subject is. They are so interesting that Studio Ghibli made a film about them called Pom Poko.

I decided to be a Tanuki Hengeyokai bushi ("warrior") and went about making my character. One of the funnest parts of playing Dungeons and Dragons is making characters. My friends and I must have took about two or three hours coming up with the basics of who our characters are and were. I eventually came to mold my character piece by piece.

First, I started with an image in my head of a giant warrior that would tower over others and was basically a man-mountain. At first, he was only 6' tall but, by the end, he ended up 6'6'', in his human form, and weighs over 300 lbs. I made him a soft spoken, kind and gentle giant that walks softly and carries a big, big stick (Tetsubo- a type of Japanese mace). Then came the name, Yama Hachiyama. 
Being a simple creature, he named himself  Hachiyama (Eight Mountains) and his family name was simply Yama (Mountain). He came from the mountains and is as big a mountain. The name just fit. A simple but memorable name is one of the most important parts of creating a character, especially in a fantasy setting.

His companions are a Hare Hengeyokai Wujen (wizard) and a human Kensei (swordsman).By the end of our first session, Hachiyama had the biggest kill count, the human swordsman won two duels and the wizard leveled up to level 4. It was probably the most successful first session in my life!

I really enjoyed playing Yama Hachiyama and hopefully I can play him again soon.

Word of the Day! 10/18/11

Word of the Day

schadenfreude [shahd-in-froi-duh]
1. happiness at the expense of others; satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.
EX. The nanny could do nothing as the tigers supped on the sweet treats. The nanny and her charge were frozen in distaste and fear by the gluttonous lions. As the larger beast purred from an onslaught of schadenfreude, the little girl considered the best way to get revenge on the fat cats.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daily Round-Up! 10/17/11

Twilight Sparkle is a very sick pony.


This is my most anticipated film of the Holiday season. Jason Segel really loves the Muppets and I think he was a great choice for the main human character.

This blog is hilarious in all manners of the macabre and miscellaneous. 

Another awesome DC animated film? Pinch me I'm nerding.

Oh god, do they still do this? I wonder if they still do this? Does anyone watch tv anymore?




Castlevania is one of the biggest 2-D video game franchises of all time. A combination of extremely engaging game play mixed with exotic enemies against a layered background, role-playing elements and some of the most intricate level designs. Yet, the factor that caught my attention and keeps me coming back is that the series has some of the best soundtracks that are right up there with the Final Fantasy and Zelda soundtracks in terms of variety and sound depth. The music became such a major factor that several of the games, including my favorite game Symphony of the Night, are titled like classical concerts. Vampires, werewolves, and mother f***ing medusa heads!

Word of the Day! 10/17/11

Word of the Day

undeterred [uhn-dih-turd]
1. not discouraged or dissuaded.

EX. It is nice to see that after centuries of various Links, and other "Heroes of Hyrule", that Link is undeterred as long as a chance of getting boob is at hand.

WEEKLY ROUND-UP 10/9-10/15 2011

 My Brain is Full of F*** Week
Note: I'm sorry if I got my brain f*** on anyone this week.

Sometimes I just feel like punching a hole into the very fabric of time and space; a punching so incredible it shatters and splinters reality so that it rolls back upon itself like an origami swan and produces something all the more terrible and ridiculous.

I really can't stress enough how much this movie has been running around my head since I watched it during my "Summer of 101 Movies." It is the perfect horror movie and, with a remake just coming out, everyone is talking about this classic film. Watch the 1982 film NOW!

Amy Pond is probably the most popular of the newer Dr. Who companions for several reasons. I like her because she doesn't feel like some random stray the Doctor has picked up along the way. Amy is with him for a reason and is not just a hanger on.

This one just has so many words that pretty much are fancier or more British synonyms for "idiot" and was just too much fun. Then again when I work with such an insane picture it is a lot easier to find inspiration.

This one gets a little deep but, I hope, it will strike up some conversation. I find my philosophy in a lot of weird places and I really can't think of any work quite as provocative on the subject of "God" as Alan Moore's The Watchmen.

Not much to say about this one except that I am excited about making my October's Doctor Who themed.

I really feel no need to apologize for putting these decadent little deviant dips into my dungeons and dragons delves in the top spot every week, do I? They get the most views, they're the most consistent and I feel more confident about writing fantasy every time I do one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011




There is something special about Halloween. It could be the soursweet smell of candy corn or the ring of your doorbell with an inevitable, "Trick or Treat!" I believe it is the spirit of embracing the horrific with a laugh. Children, young and old, dress up as the ghastliest of ghouls from poltergeists to politicians or as their favorite characters from Disney Princesses to Doctor Who.

Doctor Who's greatest strength is that, because its a show about an alien and his human companions traveling through time and space, there is no limit to the kind of story that can be told. The best Doctor Who stories involve the strange and terrible monsters that combine the best elements of horror. British parents tell their children how they used to hide behind the couch when the Daleks came on TV but  they lack the same punch. Sure, Daleks are a great match for the Doctor, but it is hard to be scared of them. They're basically a mix between Marvin the Martian, R2 D2 and wasps (What? If wasps could they would "exterminate" every living thing on Earth). The scariest Doctor Who villains are the ones who hold the mystery.

So, to celebrate Halloween I will talk about the scariest monsters of the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors. Starting this week, we have:

Appearances: Series 3(2007): Blink TRAILER
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone TRAILER

Powers: They are immortal. They can't be destroyed. They are fast, strong and wickedly cunning. They communicate telepathically with each other. They suck energy out of their surroundings. They can turn things on an off at will. They can throw you back in time and life off of your potential time you would've used in the present. Anything that "captures" an angels reflection, can become an angel.
Weaknesses:They can't move while they're being looked at and if they look at each other they become frozen forever. They need energy to move.
Motive: Eat up the energy of the Universe.

Catchphrase: They don't talk. Well, except for "Angel Bob".

Word of the Day! 10/16/11

Word of the Day

variegate [vair-ee-i-geyt]
1. to make something varied in appearance, as by adding different colors.
2. to give variety to; to diversify.

spectrum [spek-truhm]
1.  Physics. an array of entities, as light waves or particles, ordered in accordance with the magnitudes of a common physical property, as length wave or mass; often the band of colors produced when sunlight is passed through a prism, comprising red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
2. a broad range of varied idea or objects, the individual features of which tend to overlap so as to form a continuous sequence or series.

EX. Geoff Johns created and developed the idea of using the emotional spectrum correlation with Green Lantern canon to variegate the cast of heroes and villains that the Green Lantern Corps dealt with into six new colors and emotions that stretched across both the emotional and light spectrum. 

I will probably detail all seven of the corps in various articles over the next year because I am a huge Green Lantern fan and love Geoff John's creations (Blackest Night is probably my favorite DC comics event).