Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Messengers


Waiting in the dark,
wings spread in quiet welcome.
What word do they bring?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Company of Fools: Black Idol Blues

A few months ago, I started running a D&D 5th Edition game set in a homebrewed world called Garus. Garus is not your typical D&D setting; instead of being a stereotypical medieval setting, it is set in an earlier age. Think Conan the Barbarian meets Clash of the Titans.
Into this world, chance and fortune drew a group of companions together: Joeber, Kori, Lamalia, Paan-Zi and Woodbridge.  In their first adventure, they found themselves hired by a wealthy man to retrieve his runaway daughter and her elf lover.  After several adventures, the group succeeded. When last we left them, they had just been paid off and dismissed.  The following adventure picks up right where the last ended.
Enjoy!

The Company of Fools:
Black Idol Blues

24th of Truce, Year 1002 CI
Having successfully accomplished their mission, after a fashion, to return Farrah Armus to her father’s house, and getting paid, the companions debate what to do next.  After some discussion, the group decides to seek out a moneychanger the next day, to convert the jewels into coin.  In the meantime, they separate and agree to meet the next day at Strego’s for breakfast.
Unnoticed by the group, Farrah and Sigh have slipped away, vanishing into Ator Aru.
Woodbridge seeks out a temple of Arcus and finds one in the nearby Maptys District. Paan-Zi, at loose ends, decides to accompany the cleric.  As cleric and sorcerer make their way along the streets of the district, they realize that most of the buildings around them seem derelict and abandoned.  There are people on the street, but most don’t seem very upstanding. Most seem homeless.  Eventually, the two find the temple and meet its leader, Father Nacre. A brief discussion with Father Nacre leads to Woodbridge and Paan-Zi staying the night.
Joeber and Kori have returned to the Fisherman’s Village.  Making their way to Fatbelly’s ship, they reunite with Ella and pass a pleasant, ableit uneventful, evening on the ship. Kori announces his decision to Joeber to return to the Greenwild, as civilization is just too alien for him.  He’ll make his goodbyes at the breakfast tomorrow.
Lamalia, meanwhile, has gone to the hostel with Dae. While Dae settles in for the night, Lamalia retrieves the wand carved for her on The Promise.  Settling herself, she begins the ritual to enchant the wand with the magic missile spell.  Unfortunately, her weariness and Dae’s snoring prove unconducive to her efforts; her first attempt at enchantment fails.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#OrlandoUnited

It's been a rough week, gentle readers.  This past Sunday, as I'm sure you've all heard by now, there was a mass shooting in the city of Orlando. Over fifty people were killed by a madman.
There's been a lot of talk about this over the last few days.  Some people are saying this is the reason firearms should be banned in the U.S.A.  Others are saying that the shooter was mad/sexually confused/a terrorist.  And some individuals (I refuse to refer to them as people) have exulted in the deaths; they've made jokes and posted hate-videos on YouTube.
Recently, death has been a big part of my life.  One of my best friends passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Ever since then, it's felt like I've been haunted by the spectre of death. Every time I turn on a television or go to a news site online, I was bombarded by images and stories of death.
Then Orlando happens and death looms large. It fills the metaphysical horizon and all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and wait for it to go away.
But death doesn't go away.
It's there.
Trying to ignore it doesn't work.
You can't tune it out.
You have to face it.
I feel so sorry for the victims of the Orlando shooting, the ones who died and the ones struggling to recover, the families and friends having to deal with this in the media spotlight, the first responders who arrived on the scene.  I cannot begin to imagine how awful this must be for them.  Most of us grieve in private; these people are grieving while on the world's stage.  And the world, gentle readers, is not always kind.
But, sometimes, the world surprises you.
Since the shooting, there's been a huge outpouring of support and sympathy for the victims and their city.  The voices of the kind have overwhelmed the voices of the hateful.
I take solace in that, and, hopefully, the people of Orlando do as well.
What next?
Be strong.
Be kind.
Be you.

Friday, June 10, 2016

DC Comics Rebirth

This month, DC Comics has launched an event called 'Rebirth.'  This is, in many ways, an attempt by the company to address the dissatisfaction among core fans with the 'New 52' reboot.  Since the New 52 debuted in 2011, DC Comics has seen their sales plummet.  Older comic fans abandoned the company in droves as beloved characters were reinvented.  DC had hoped that its reboot would draw new, younger fans, but that didn't happen.
Now, after five years, the company has decided to backpedal and do a 'soft reboot' with the 'Rebirth' event.  This is their attempt, years too late in my humble opinion, to smooth the feathers of alienated fans and, hopefully, woo some of them back to the books and characters they loved.
I am a DC fan.  I grew up watching Superfriends on Saturday morning and repeats of the 1966 Batman television show.  The first comic series I made a concerted effort to buy was Wolfman and Perez's New Teen Titans.
So it says something, I think, that these days I'm only buying one comic regularly from DC.  That comic is Kurt Busiek's Astro City, which isn't even part of the DCU continuity. It's published through their Vertigo imprint, but has nothing to do with the DCU cannon.
I've heard some good things about Rebirth so far.  The event has given a lot of people hope that DC is going to return to its roots, invest in the history of its characters.
I, however, am staying as far away from Rebirth as I can.  I've been burned once too often by DC to trust that the company and its leadership know what the fans want.  DC, I think, has already dropped the ball by announcing a two-year-long story arc that will touch on all the Rebirth titles. They have also apparently decided to integrate the Watchmen Universe into the greater DC Multiverse, and replaced the New 52 Superman with the Pre-Flashpoint Superman.  The last would be akin to replacing the first Darren from Bewitched with the second, only everyone knows he's different.
It just makes me shake my head, and compare DC to a bad ex. You know the one I'm talking about. We've all got 'em. That person who seems so cool and fun but then you break up with them for some reason, but they keep trying to get you to come back. They swear they've changed, that they'll change for you, but it's all a lie.  They haven't changed and, you realize, that they probably never will.
So what do you do? Do you keep going back to the ex? Do you forgive their lies and misdirections? Do you open your arms and heart to them, again and again, only to be emotionally and mentally gutted?
No. You kick the ex to the curb, wish them well, and try to remember the good times. You find someone new or just take a breather from dating altogether.
That's pretty much me and DC these days.  DC is the crazy ex you have fond memories of but that I would see again if you paid me money.
And that makes me sad, because even though I think the company and its leadership have made some horrendous missteps in recent years (Batman v Superman, anyone?), I still want to get back together with them.
But I don't.  I don't take their calls and delete their emails and texts unread.  Because they're not the person they were and I don't like who they've become.  And, honestly, I just don't want to get my heart ripped out again.


Monday, May 30, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

I grew up reading the X-Men comics, so when Fox announced they were doing a movie, I was excited.  Sadly, the franchise that the X-films have become no longer elicit excitement; instead, they made me wince.  Sometimes, I even cringed.
The latest movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, just makes me sigh.
The movie is dull and ponderous. There is no real sense of excitement or anticipation. It never really feels like the cast engages with their characters, or their audience.
As for Apocalypse?  He’s a stock villain with an end-the-world plan and a plethora of super-powers that just make him feel like a cliche.
On a scale of one to five, I would give X-Men: Apocalypse a three.  It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not that good either.  Honestly, I felt like I was watching a better quality Syfy Channel movie than a cinematic release.