Monday, October 31, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Every once in awhile a great idea comes along. The wheel. The lightbulb. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a re-imagining of Jane Austin's original 1813 novel. Just based on concept alone, this one is a winner. What if Zombies suddenly walked into a classic Regency-era England storyline? Sheer wonderfulness, that's what.

This novel has been so popular that there is a prequel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls), a sequel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After), an upcoming movie, an upcoming video game, a graph novel adaptation and plenty of imitators. Other novels released in this same genre include Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters; and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

I can't wait for The Body Snatchers in the Rye.

SenseandSensibilityandSeaMonstersCover.PNG    Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Cover.jpg

Halloween Dress Code: Zombie Shirt

Is anything zombie-proof?
Probably not...
Are you a parent that gets dragged around your neighborhood by your children on Halloween night but you don't want get dressed up? Well, you might be able to redeem yourself a little by wearing a cool, Halloween-related shirt like this one:

How cool is that? I love spoof gags and this on the fast food restaurant Wendy's logo is brilliant. Some folks might actually look at your shirt and not even notice! The fact that it says, "Aim for the head" over Wendy's head is awesome 

Star Wars Zombies!

I'm not sure if Brian will die from a stroke or wet his pants when he reads this.

Zombies have returned to the Star Wars Universe. Red Harvest (a reference to Blue Harvest?) is the recently released follow-up to the novel that brought horror to the Star Wars Universe, Death Troopers. A powerful Sith Lord has launched a virus. Those that die from the virus rise again as bloodthirsty zombies - wait for it - under the direct control of the Sith Lord!

I think this may be a sign of the end times because it can't get any better than this.


Books for Halloween: Diary of a Zombie Kid

I'm sure you've heard of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Well, what about Diary of a Zombie Kid? There are two books in this series that spoofs the originals.

From the Diary of a Zombie Kid website: Middle school is hard enough as it is, but for Bill Dookes, it's a horrific, festering, rotting, undead nightmare.  Bill's deadbeat dad got arrested trying to burn the house down for the insurance. Since then, Mom has had to make ends meet by volunteering at various medical research companies.  This would be fine, if she hadn't brought home a mysterious zombie virus!

Sounds perfect for fans of the Wimpy Kid series who are looking for a fun laugh on Halloween!

Geek Gear: Mr. T In Your Pocket

Mr. T may be known for his catch phrase, "I pity the fool!" but he has a variety of phrases that range from , "Shut up, fool!" to "Don't gimme no back talk!" and they're all captured on this handy, pocket sized device!

I can think of dozens of uses for this device. Are you DMing and one of your players is mouthing off to you? A quick "Don't make me mad!" and the player will fall in line. How about if your kids are loudly arguing? "Sucka, quit your jibba jabba," and the problem's solved! Sounds like hours of fun to me!

I do find it interesting that even after the A-Team movie, they still use Mr. T as B.A. Baracus for this device. Sometimes, you just can't top the original!

Zombie PSA

Zombies are now a minority group. Great.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Real to Reel: Warning: This Review Will Save Your Life

Real to Reel: Warning: This Review Will Save Your Life:

Jedi Lies - Summary and Conclusion

1LR has closely examined all seven Star Wars films to evidence to Jedi lies and deception. According to the Jedi Code, is it acceptable behavior for a Jedi to lie? Here is what we can conclude:
  • The Jedi think of themselves as noble and honest. 
  • The Jedi think of the Sith as inherently deceptive.
  • When Jedi make a promise, "swear," or give their word they are truly honest (Only one documented case of a Jedi breaking his word - Anakin's broken promise to Rex in the animated SW movie). 
  • Jedi sometimes lie to non-Jedi, but it is usually with good intentions.
  • It appears that when a Jedi lies is not a cause for rebuke by other Jedi - meaning this behavior is accepted informally if not formally.
  • Jedi are mostly truthful to other Jedi. This doesn't stop Obi-Wan and Yoda from lying to Luke as he trains to become a Jedi, however. It's interesting to note that once Luke has "completed his training," they finally tell him the truth.
  • Jedi sometimes deceive other Jedi but this appears to be extremely rare (as evidenced by Obi-Wan's deception of Anakin concerning the arrival of Ahsoka Tano).
  • Before completing his training as a Jedi, Luke was primarily honest but after his training is completed, Luke lies and uses deception.
  • Jedi use the Jedi Mind Trick. By it's very name it denotes deception and trickery. Its victims are often forced to accept untruths as reality. 
  • The Jedi Mantra and the associated tenets make no mention, direct or indirect, about honesty and dishonesty.
  • Young Jedi are taught to be honest but this is primarily focused on honesty to other Jedi. 
So, in conclusion - Is it against the Jedi Code for a Jedi to lie? Well, the answer is, "No." It isn't against the code. So, yes, it's okay for a Jedi to lie, primarily to non-Jedi. And they do. They do lie.

Does this make the Jedi bad people? Perhaps not. But it does tarnish the image of Jedi a little bit in my mind.

To be fair, I believe that the original intent of George Lucas was for the Jedi to be noble, honest, and pure. It is only when you consider the greater backstory of the prequel trilogy that Obi-Wan and Yoda are revealed to be dishonest (in most cases). Some of these apparent deceptions in the original trilogy can most likely be chalked up to sloppy filmmaking and failing to properly account for established continuity.

So what? What does this mean?  Does this make Obi-Wan and Yoda selfish manipulators? Did the institutionalized deceptions of the Jedi contribute to the fall of the Jedi Order? Could Anakin's decent into the dark side have been prevented if only he had been honest with Obi-Wan concerning his feelings toward Padme (Anakin isn't sent on the mission with Padme, they don't go to Tatooine, he doesn't kill the sand people, they don't get secretly married, she doesn't get pregnant, Anakin doesn't feel he needs to save her)?

I'll leave that for you to decide. But I know for myself I wouldn't trust a Jedi.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rolemaster - Gaming Notes #7

When last we had left our heroes they had tracked a stone golem back to the ancient ruins they had previously explored. They expected it to go into the tunnels they had been to before but instead it entered a large two story structure of ruins that was partially sunken into the ground.

The heroes, of course, decided to explore the structure. They stepped inside and thirty one feet in they triggered three traps. The floor fell out from underneath them and they tumbled down into the darkness, hitting ground hard. Lighting a lantern the party discovered that they were in jail cells (the ranger in one, the mentalist in another, and weaponmaster in another).
The mentalist, Mr. Orion Bartholomew, quickly used a spell to escape and free the weaponmaster only to be hit with a shot of acid to the face. A odd creature that can turn invisible attacked the party, quickly decimating us. The ranger had enough and starting climbing out. When he got to the top he used the tip of an arrow to carve away mortar so he could escape. Climbing up out of the tube he was dealt a kick to the head!

While the party lie defeated in their cell below the ranger tried to flee from the menace... only to fall down another trap and land in the same cell as the party. After a brief spat between the ranger and the weaponsmaster, the two teamed up to take down the monstrous threat. The stalked down the hallway and killed the beast who was waiting for them, invisible.

Retrieving their unconscious companion, the heroes beat feet three days back to town to restock and resupply. We got 25 archers and 25 foot soldiers from Lady Misterra, the kind woman who is ruler of the town.
We set off and quickly encountered 13 zombies. The archers were competently killing them when the mentalist decided to charge in with four soldiers at his side. The weaponsmaster and the ranger saved his bacon, as is tradition.

That night, they left a giant pass in peace only to be surrounded by giants in the middle of the night raining down boulders on them. The ranger called for a truce and met the giant leader in peace on the field of battle. The ranger successfully negotiated a treaty and left the giant leader, Leafgrun, as a friend.
What will our heroes encounter next? What awaits them inside the ruins and the tunnels below? Find out next time!

Funny Geek Video - Geeks and Gamer Girls Song (Parody)

Another Katy Perry - California Gurls video spoof... this one features Seth Green, Stan Lee, and Katee Sackhoff... the singing and dancing isn't great but the final product is worth checking out.

Lone Wolf Multiplayer - Free Download - Vaderish, Knight of the Sword Review

The Vaderish, Knight of the Sword character class isn't available in any book. Instead, it is listed online as a free download. You can find it in Signs and Portents #80 on page 20 - you can get it at

The Vaderish, Knight of the Sword character class is written up in an identical format to the other published character classes. Why do we need another knight character class, especially when there are already TWO in the Heroes of Magnamund rulebook? Well, I suppose the answer would be for variety. They've managed to give all three knight classes very different feels.

One odd thing about this write-up is that it doesn't mention the knight's Faersteed - the special mount that is psychically linked the knight and bonded for life. You have to stumble upon the Faersteed in the Magnamund Bestiary to find out about that. This is, unfortunately, an all-to-typical oversight for LWM.

Overall, the Vaderish, Knight of the Sword is a welcome addition to LWM. With a world as rich as Magnamund, I wish that more character classes would be released. I also wish that "epic" level (level 11-20) disciplines would be released for this character class as it has been for all other good-aligned character classes.

1LR Review: 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Star Wars D6 - Gaming Notes #1

With little backstory, the party is thrown together on a ship headed for Alderaan to claim the bounty on an assassin droid sent to kill Senator Ilan Tah. Only problem? We have no idea what this droid looks like. As a cover, we're suppose to pick up some wine. Should be simple enough. I'm playing a Wookie bounty hunter so I've practiced my grunts and growls all week.

We land on Alderaan and they immediately lock up all of our weapons. Seems Alderaan is a peaceful planet. We begin our investigation by setting up appointments with the Senator and the winery (separately, of course). In the meanwhile, we start spitballing ideas on how to identify and stop this assassin droid. We search databases for droids recently entering the system, try to establish underworld contacts, and eventually try to tail the Senator to establish likely ambush points.

It seems that our tailing attracted some attention, however, because we were stopped by the police and detained. All of this fit into my Wookie's plan. I hoped that news of my arrest in connection with the Senator would lure out the elements who had hired the assassin droid. Unfortunately, no such luck.
When it came time to go to the winery, the wine snobs wouldn't sell us their precious wine called "Alderaan Blue Fury". So my wookie had intimidate the shop employees into selling him the wine. Once they saw his credits were good they complied with our *ahem* gentle request. We safely loaded the cargo and waited to meet with the Senator the next day.

Finally, the day arrived and we were greeted by a protocol droid. Something didn't seem right, however, when the droid took a translation device in with us to see the Senator. When we accused the droid of trying to kill the senator, he fled. Some of us pursued and apprehended the droid while the rest defused the device which turned out to be a bomb and guarded the Senator.
We collected our bounty, earned the thanks of the Senator, and headed off to deliver our wine cargo. Unfortunately, before we could leave the system, a large moon appeared around Alderaan. Tie fighters swarmed us and forced us onto what we now realized wasn't a moon at all but a fully operational battle station.
It's ALWAYS great to roleplay in the Star Wars universe... To be continued...

Zombiefest at Comic Store West

Every year at a local comic book store, Comic Store West, zombies roam freely. Is it a zombie apocalypse? No. It's Zombiefest!

This year, look for all sorts of zombie goodness. Folks will be wandering the aisles looking for blood... and there will also be folks dressed up as zombies! On October 29 and 30 there will be "horror" based roleplaying. Check out the Comic Store West website for all of the details:


Geek Gear: DC Hero Aprons

Every geek has a T-shirt with their favorite hero on it, but how cool would it be to wear one of these DC hero aprons the next time you go to grill on the barbecue?

They're a bit pricey at $24.99 but it might just be worth it. They kinda act like a muscle or bikini shirt except they're more full-body. I always like it when there's some innovative, cool geek swag that comes out!
Likewise, if you wear this, you're probably really fat.
Chances are, if you wear this, you're not ripped.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Supreme Court Loves Gamers

Bravo, Supreme Court, Bravo! In a move supporting free speech, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down a California law that banned the sale of video games deemed "violent" to minors. While I applaud their decision this photo makes me wonder if they're bias...

Lone Wolf Multiplayer - Free Download - Cener Druid of Ruel Review

There has been plenty of free downloadable content from Mongoose to support the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG. Cener Druid of Ruel is one such download that was available from Signs and Portents #81, starting on page 20. You can get it at
This addition to LWM is a curious one. This is the only evil character class to be detailed as a player character would. This is curious because, as the rules are written, NPCs do not get a combat "turn" like in most RPGs. So when in combat would a Cener Druid get the chance to use any of these skills? I don't know the answer to that. Even in the published adventure, Radak's Revenge, the Cener Druid presented in the adventure does not have any of the abilities listed in this write-up.

Still, I feel that the authors did a nice join in detailing the Cener Druid. The powers that the druid has are unique and dark. Cener Druids are truly worthy adversaries when they can curse a PC with a disease that leave them bedridden, call roots from the ground to strange him, or create undead servants!

It's neat to see an evil Druid... I know when I first encountered this idea, it seemed very strange to me. How could somebody use nature for evil? Well, the Cener Druid is proof that it's possible!

1LR Review: 15 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

First Impression: Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box

"Anything you can do, I can do better..." That's what Pathfinder has been saying to Wizards of the Coast and Dungeons and Dragons ever since its release. Dubbed by fans as "DnD 3.75" Pathfinder is essentially DnD 3rd edition with minor tweaks that have made it a fan favorite. If you look a the amount of product released for Pathfinder compared to DnD 4th ed., Pathfinder winds 10 to 1.

To respond, WoC released the "Red Box" and Dungeons and Dragons Essentials which was supposed to be DnD 4th ed. for dummies. In my opinion, they failed miserably. The game is still needlessly complicated and finding rules in the essentials books is quite hard.

In a recent GTM, there was a two page sample of content from the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box. This is Pathfinder saying to WoC, once again, "This is how you should have done it!" It looks brilliant! Steps in character creation are clearly numbered. 
1. Choose a race - three options - human, elf, or dwarf. Done. 
2. Choose your class - Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, or Wizard. Done.
3. Roll your six ability scores...
4. Figure our your ability score modifiers..
5. Choose an alignment
6. Name your character.
It's really that simple. It only takes two pages! 

Throw in a starter set of dice, pregen characters, and 80 minis all for under $35 online and you've got yourself a winner. First impression: Bravo, Pathfinder! Well done! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6 - Cabin Fever

I'll admit it. I'm a Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan. I've read them all and I think the books are brilliant. The juxtaposition of the words and the images is brilliantly done. I routinely laugh out loud (for real) when I'm reading a Wimpy Kid book. Greg, the main character, is blissfully unaware of how others view him. To him, he's the center of the universe so when he describes the action in words, often times the images reveal the truth to comedic effect. At other times, the pictures show Greg's fantasies or illustrate Greg's plain statements with hyperbole.

So, it is with great interest that I anticipate Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6: Cabin Fever! It almost doesn't matter what the book is about. As long as it keeps that trademark Wimpy Kid wit, I'm sure it'll be a great read.

My Star Wars D6 Character

That's right. In our upcoming Star Wars D6 campaign I'm playing a Wookie that can't speak common. You got a problem with that? Since we're not playing Jedi I figured I'd play something completely unique to Star Wars. Just don't call me Chewie because that makes me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. (sorry - wrong character).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Impression: Risk Legacy

Risk, is, of course, an all-time board game classic. While the original may wear thin after awhile, they have produced a fair number of variants. Some are awesome such as Lord of the Rings Risk (Trilogy Edition) and some are really horrible such as Star Wars (Prequel Trilogy Edition). So I am a little skeptical when I saw Risk: Legacy announced recently.

From the picture it looks pretty much like your standard Risk board, right? Well, this game is anything but standard.

The trend in board gaming recently has been a customizable experience. I think this is due in large partly to Settlers of Catan - if you randomize the tiles and the numbers the game never plays the same way twice. The Lego board games are fantastic for this very reason. Even old-school games such as Monopoly have released customizable versions. But Risk: Legacy is a little different.

See, this game EVOLVES over time. Every game a PERMANENT change is made to the game itself that will affect all future games played with that set! This can take the form of writing or stickers on the board itself or on the cards. Two types of permanent influences are Bunkers and Ammo Shortages. These add or take away troop values in regions. There are other "Scar Cards" that are sealed away until you've played a certain number of Risk: Legacy games. That's pretty awesome! If you win a game you can change the name of a continent and you, the player, get bonuses there whenever you play in the future. 

The end result is that your copy of Risk: Legacy will be completely different than anyone else's copy right after you finish playing the first game. Now that's cool.

Still, the buy in is nearly $60... that's pretty steep for me... I'm going to have to wait and see on this one. My gut says yes but I want to see the reviews of those that have played it a few times before I set down sixty clams. 

Jedi Lies - The Jedi Code

1LR has spent so much time talking about the Jedi Code and how it applies to honesty but what is the Jedi Code anyway? Well, let's turn to all Star Wars fans best friends, All information referenced here is from

First, there's the Jedi Mantra. This is a chant that all Jedi learn to reinforce the basic tenets of the code:

There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
(There is no chaos, there is harmony.)(*)
There is no death, there is the Force.
—The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)
(*)The fourth line "There is no chaos, there is harmony," is removed in some Jedi texts. At the Funeral of Mara Jade Skywalker, for instance, this line was omitted.
As you can see, there's nothing there about honesty or dishonesty for the Jedi.
Next, there are various miscellaneous tenents of the Jedi Order:

  • The Jedi are the guardians of civilization, yet do not allow civilization to destroy needlessly.
  • A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for aggression or personal gain.
    • A corollary of the Code was "A Jedi does not act for personal power."
  • The lightsaber is the symbol of the members of the Jedi Order.
  • Jedi do not marry (with some exceptions), in order to avoid attachment and—according to Vergere—so as not to create dynasties of those strong in the Force. However, in many periods of the Order's history, such as the era prior to Exar Kun and in Luke Skywalker's reformed Jedi Order, marriage was not forbidden. That being said, celibacy was enforced in many periods of the Order's history.
  • Jedi respect each other, and all other life forms.
  • Jedi must put the needs of the community above the needs of individuals.
  • A Jedi must protect the weak and defenseless from evil.
  • Jedi must always cooperate in battle or crisis.
  • Jedi must not have wants; self-reliance must be shown.
  • Jedi are forbidden from ruling others, although by the end of the Republic there was some debate over whether or not this was part of the actual Code.
  • A Jedi Master may not have more than one Padawan. This particular rule developed after the Old Sith Wars, as most ancient Masters such as Arca Jeth, Thon, Vodo-Siosk Baas and Krynda Draay did not have to abide by it. The Jedi Exile also trained many apprentices at the same time due to their Force-sensitivity and the galaxy's dire need for Jedi. However, one apprentice per master seemed to be the standard around 32 BBY. But due to the lack of Masters in Luke Skywalker's Academy, several Padawans per master was necessary, as seen in Jaden Korr and Rosh Penin training under Kyle Katarn
  • While the Code did not mention a maximum age for taking Padawans, Jedi Master Simikarty wrote influential interpretations of the Code that inserted such limits; over time, his interpretations of the Code became conflated with the Code itself. In Revan's era, apprentices were taken from early childhood. After the end of the New Sith Wars, it became policy to take apprentices from infancy, which proved controversial with those outside the Order. Conversely, Nomi Sunrider started her training as an adult, as did the apprentices of the Jedi Exile and many of the New Jedi Order.
  • A Jedi will not kill an unarmed opponent, such as the way Anakin Skywalker executed Count Dooku.
  • A Jedi will not take revenge, such as Anakin did against the Tusken Raiders
  • A Jedi does not cling to the past, such as Anakin did when he used bad memories like when Padmé was almost assassinated to keep his resolve to defeat Nute Gunray and the Confederacy of Independent Systems
  • The Jedi do not believe in killing their prisoners.

Once again, you can see that there's nothing there about honesty and dishonesty.
The only place I could find mention of honesty was in the teachings that all younglings receive. There are many tenents but one of them deals with Honesty. From Wookieepedia:

Practice Honesty

"Let there be truth between your heart and the Force. All else is transitory."
―Surenit Kil'qiy
Honesty was the first responsibility that aspiring Jedi were taught. Jedi were permitted to stretch the truth if the situation required it of them, however this was to be done as sparingly as possible. An honest Jedi was always truthful with himself, his Master, and the Council.
Even here, it is plain that, while Jedi are told to be honest when dealing with other Jedi they are allowed to lie to non-Jedi. 1LR will summarize the evidence it has collected from all seven movies and from the Jedi Code itself in the next installment into this series as a conclusion is drawn.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sherlock Holmes Movie Review

Is it just me or is Robert Downey Jr. EVERYWHERE these days? From Iron man to Tropic Thunder this guy doesn't quit! I had heard mixed reviews from my friends about Sherlock Holmes but I'm glad I watched it.

I liked the action sequences when Sherlock dissects the situation in his head and meticulously plans out every move before executing the plan in a sudden blitz of movement. The overall plot was a bit dense but I liked the twists that it took - some of them genuinely surprised me (at times there are too many - enough that I was confused).

The interactions between Downey, Law, and McAdams were fabulous. Each one performed wonderfully but I think the one-upsmanship between Downey and McAdams stole the show. Downey's Holmes was a bit too close to Tony Stark's quirky brilliant outsider for my liking.

1LR Review: 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

Legends of the Superheroes

Worst. Superhero. Show. Ever.
I recently got to watch Legend of the Superheroes. What's that, you ask? It's two specials for a Justice-League-esque team featuring Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler (all from the classic Batman TV show)! While these two specials were horrible, I did like the cast of characters they presented. I thought the production crew did a nice job with costumes and casting for the heroes, Captain Marvel, The Flash, Black Canary, Green Lantern, The Huntress, Hawkman, Robin, and The Atom even puts in a guest appearance. (Batman's costume, however, looks worse than it did in the Batman TV show!) For some of these characters, LotS represents their first live-action appearance... for others, it's the only one!

As far as villains go I was less familiar with many of them. Solomon Grundy, Sinistro, The Weather Wizard, Dr. Sivana, Mordru, Giganta, and the Riddler try (sometimes) to destroy the world, or, failing that - get a laugh.

This show doesn't even take itself seriously and it is intended to be funny. It even has a laugh track. It puts the heroes in absolutely ridiculous situations to get a laugh, perhaps by pointing out how ridiculous it is to run around in a costume fighting villains. In the first episode, Batman and Robin negotiate for a used car, Green Lantern buys lemonade from a roadside stand, Captain Marvel visits a shrink (on a couch sitting outside in the middle of nowhere...), and Mordru, the old wizard, uses a jet ski of all things. While none of this is actually funny or even very interesting, it is absurd which seemed to be the intent of the creators.

In the second special, all pretense of continuity or story is thrown out the window as Ed McMahon hosts a roast of the heroes inside the heroes secret base. One villain after another makes an appearance not to fight but to tell jokes. Hawkman's mother shows up at one point, as do the "heroes," Retired Man (formerly the Scarlet Cyclone) and Ghetto Man (who's battle cry is Kareem!). 

 All told, there's little redeeming quality to LotS... it's a humorous footnote in Superhero media history. The only reason to watch it is so you can say to your friends, "So, have you ever seen Legends of Superheroes?"

1LR Review - 3 out of 20 - Total Failure!

First the Kraken, Now the Yeti

That's right. First 1LR reported here that scientists have found evidence of an ancient kraken's lair here. Now scientists think they've found a Yeti lair in Siberia. Check out the news story here. Here's the photograph of the footprints the scientists found:

Here's my prayer: Please, dear God, let scientists find evidence of an actual dragon, mind flayer, or beholder. That would be AWESOME!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catan Historical Cultures

Catan Cultures set... or random lumps of lead?
Wow... you've got to give those folks over at Silver Fox Productions credit for being creative. With Catan being wildly popular across the country, fans might just be willing to pay $29.95 for one robber, four cities, five settlements, and 15 roads (that's a complete set for one player) crafted in pewter and designed to reflect historical Earth cultures.

Sets are available in Bavarian, Chinese, Egyptian, and Viking sets. There are also Seafarer expansions planned.

I've got to say... for me, what I'm seeing is NOT worth $30, especially the roads. These don't looked colored at all - I'm guessing you could paint them but that seems like an awful lot of work when you could just play with the easy to identify, brightly colored gaming pieces that come with the game. I would say these gaming pieces would be for the Catan fan that just has to have EVERYTHING Catan (you probably have a complete herd of sheep Catanimals). 

Lone Wolf Multiplayer #8 - The Darklands Review

The Darklands is the eighth book to be released for the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG.
First, the book presents the geography of the Darklands. Each domain is detailed quite extensively. While the formatting may not be very reader-friendly you can't fault them for being thorough. The "Dangers of the Darklands" section is truly awe-inspiring in its grotesque barbarism. Truly, the Darklands is a hideous, horrible place and that really oozes out of every paragraph. This isn't a land any character should enter lightly because it is brutally deadly, as it should be. I would say you need to be level 15+ to even ATTEMPT to journey into the Darklands!

I especially liked the section on The Touch of Naar and corruption of player characters. The very fact that your character's spirit, mind, and physical form is being twisted by doing the things necessary to adventure in the Darklands is wonderfully evil. This reminds me of the old school Ravenloft setting I loved so much.  

The excellence continues in a detailed walkthrough of the capital city of Helgedad. There's a nice map included and a sector by sector breakdown.

The Darklord section is truly terrifying, however. Darklord after Darklord is detailed with special powers and qualities that are enough to make any Kai Lord shake in his little green booties. There's also a very nice supplemental bestiary for creatures that would appear in the Darklands only. The armies of the Darklords themselves are given a very close inspection. All of this is simply delightful.

My only two quibbles with this book are minor. First, the cover art is recycled from the Lone Wolf D20 Darklands book. In fact, the contents of this book are amazingly similar to that book in many regards. Perhaps this is one of the reasons this book seems so well put together compared to other Lone Wolf Multiplayer books - the D20 Lone Wolf seemed to have a greater production value overall. The second quibble is the lack of interior art. I don't mind this as much as some and I'd rather have no interior art that poorly drawn and poorly printed art like in some of the other Lone Wolf Multiplayer books.

Kudos to Vincent Lazzari and Joe Dever for putting together the best Lone Wolf Mutlplayer book to date.

1LR Review - 19 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

King of Tokyo - Gaming Notes

I played King of Tokyo the other night with Sam, Brian, Dave, Letitia, and my four year old, Ben. We played two games. King of Tokyo is a fun, fast paced, rules-simple game that has very complex strategies to it once you learn the game.

In the first game, which was the first time any of us had ever played, Sam and Letitia grabbed Tokyo and Tokyo Bay right away. Sam made the mistake of attacking everyone outside of Tokyo to which we responded by killing them both. I was killed by Brian but I was saved by my card - Monster's Sidekick - that brought me back to life (but if Brian died, I died as well). Dave died quickly after that and then Ben killed Brian. Since Brian died, I died as well and the four year old won the game. What can I say? He's a gaming prodigy. We didn't play with any kid gloves with him!

The second game started much like the first. Proving she didn't learn her lesson, Letitia took Tokyo again and I took her out with five damage in one round. Then we went a long time without anyone dying. Sam pulled far ahead with 18 points (20 needed to win). In a desperation move, I used a card to heal other monsters, stealing their energy by doing so, and I bought Evacuation Orders which deals five damage to all other monsters. This knocked Sam down to one life left and Ben finished him off on his turn. I then killed Ben (which, actually, we realized later, that he had a card that should have brought him back to life), leaving just Brian and I. We traded vicious blows but ultimately it was Brian's inability to heal in Tokyo that lost him the game. My monster stood victorious over all the others!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jedi Lies: Episode VI

In the final film in the Star Wars Saga, Episode VI, we find some interesting information to help us answer the question, "Is lying against the Jedi code?"
  • Up until this point, Luke has been an honest character, telling no lies or not using deception at all. It is noteworthy then to see how he changes in this film. First, he appears to be very up front with Jabba but he is, in fact, planning to kill Jabba. I mean, what would he have done if Jabba had said, "Okay. You can have Solo." Would Luke then have said, "Oh, and I need the two droids back, one of which has my lightsaber, and the Wookie." Don't think so. Luke put himself in a position where the only avenue of escape was violence so his proposed negotiations were actually a sham.
  • Luke, in a message to Jabba, says, "I am Luke Skywalker, Jedi knight, and friend to Captain Solo." Why is he claiming to be a Jedi knight? When he talks to Yoda later he says, "Then I am a Jedi," as if he, himself, wasn't sure. But Yoda sets him right saying, "Oh! Not yet. One thing remains - Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, and only then, will a Jedi you be." So clearly when Luke claims to be a Jedi knight this claim is false. 
  • Luke's first use of the Jedi Mind Trick is against Bib Fortuna. Luke says, "You will take me to Jabba now," and, "You serve your master well," and, "And you will be rewarded," and, "I must be allowed to speak." The first is a command but the rest of these implanted thoughts are false. Clearly from Fortuna's opening remarks to Luke, Luke knows that Jabba has rejected his offer and doesn't want to see him. So when he forces Fortuna to bring him to Jabba he knows that he is NOT serving his master well and he will NOT be rewarded. 
  • Luke then tries the Jedi Mind Trick on Jabba, saying, "You will bring Captain Solo and the wookie to me." Luckily for Jabba he has the strength of mind to resist this Jedi trickery.
  • After rescuing Han, Luke makes good on the promise he made to Yoda in the previous film. He says, "I have a promise to keep... to an old friend." This once again demonstrates that the Jedi do, in fact, keep a sworn promise.
  • Yoda says to Luke, "That face you make - Look I so old to your young eyes?" To which Luke responds with a lie, "No, of course not." OF COURSE NOT!?! Yoda's 900 years old, extremely wrinkled, barely able to slowly walk around and he's coughing up a lung - of COURSE he looks old! It's a polite lie, but a lie nonetheless.
  • The ghostly Obi-Wan Kenobi says of Anakin, "When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot." While there may be a seed of truth to this one, I would hardly call Ep. I Anakin a "great pilot." Let me see - he had never previously won a podrace, in fact failing to finish any prior races. When he gets into the cockpit of an actual spaceship he survives based on stupid luck. Hardly what I'd call a "great pilot." I would say, more accurately, that he had great POTENTIAL as a pilot.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi also says, "I thought that I could instruct him as well as Yoda. I was wrong." This is a curious statement. Does this mean that Yoda didn't teach Anakin as he did all other younglings? It's a little unclear to me but it's strongly implied in Ep. I that Obi-Wan takes Anakin has his apprentice right away, not at the typical age of 13. If this is the case, than Obi-Wan's statement above is true. If, in fact, Yoda did instruct Anakin with all the other younglings then this statement may be misleading at best.
  • Obi-Wan continues his old manipulations when he says to Luke, "Then the emperor has already won. You were our only hope." But Obi-Wan doesn't know that Yoda has finally told the truth on his deathbed. Obi-Wan is caught in his deception when he says, "Yoda spoke of another." The look on Obi-Wan's face in the moment of pause right after that line is priceless.
  • Luke is getting so used to deceit that he's telling others to lie as well! Luke says to C3PO, "3PO, tell them that if they don't do as you wish you'll become angry and use your magic." Clearly, C3PO has no magical ability and Luke's pulling a fast one on the Ewoks. I'm sure he makes Obi-Wan and Yoda proud every time he practices deception...
  • The final entry into this list comes secondhand. Luke doesn't say it directly, but the imperial officer that brings him to Vader at the end says of Luke, "This is the rebel that surrendered to us. Although he denies it, I believe there may be more of them..." Luke lies to protect his friends. It's understandable but still a lie.
So, our journey is complete, having gone through all seven films. What did we learn from this installment?
- Previously, Luke was completely truthful but it seems that once he considers himself a Jedi he's willing to lie and use deception.
- Luke kept his promises.

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Impression: Dungeons and Dragons: Legend of Drizzt Board Game

Another entry into the Dungeons and Dragons cooperative board game series, the third entry, Legend of Drizzt, is sure to attract some attention based merely on the presence of the ever-popular Drizzt character.


The release of this board game coincides with the release of an original Drizzt story in comic book form. It will be interesting to see how that story and the other Drizzt tales are incorporated into the action in this board game.

I've played the first game in this series, Castle Ravenloft, but not the second, Wrath of Ashardalon. I can't say I was impressed. Gameplay is very random - dungeon expansion is random, monsters are random, traps are random... The core gameplay uses DnD 4th Ed. rules as a basis which gives it a very odd feel. It's almost like old-school 1st Ed. DnD had a incestuous love child with 4th Ed. "Kick down the door and kill the mind flayer! Kick down the door and kill the dragon! Kick down the door and kill the beholder!"

Clearly they're going after Forgotten Realms fans who have perhaps continued reading the novels but have been away from DnD as a roleplaying game for awhile... I think most of those people will be in for a shock when they see how the game plays and how the 4th Ed. rules work. Sure, Legend of Drizzt will sell well but I don't think it will bring many lost gamers back into the fold.

George Lucas's Next Film: Red Tails Trailer

Here's the trailer for Red Tails which is executive produced by George Lucas. It comes out next year.

Lone Wolf Multiplayer #7 - Corruption of Ikaya Review

Corruption of Ikaya is the seventh book released for the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG.

Corruption of Ikaya is a pretty straightforward adventure... A Kai Lord has gone missing - go and find him. I'd say I don't have any actual problems with the adventure other than there is no real "plot development." There are no NPCs that the party has an ongoing relationship with. Really, it's a long string of random encounters until they end. 

I do like the focus of the adventure - traveling into the icy wastelands of Kalte. It's not often you get to adventure in ice and snow. Characters have to worry about avalanches, snow blindness, and hypothermia! I also liked the challenge of stealth at the end. I think that's very hard for characters to do!

The thing that REALLY burns me up with this is that it costs $20.00 and is only 74 digest pages long! You've got to be kidding me! Now, I might be willing to pay that for an outstanding adventure that my players will remember for years to come but CoI is not that.

This thing is riddled with errors, typos, and omissions. The whole mission is to rescue the Kai Lord but when you find him... NOTHING. No stats, no dialogue, no options on what to do with him... nothing. Same with a pirate vessel that attacks the players. It says the pirates fire ballistae but not how many ballistae or the stats for a ballistae. Once the pirates are defeated the adventure doesn't tell you anything else. What's on the ship? What would the captain do with the pirate ship? One of the pirates has the Nightfire Rod... Which does what, exactly? The adventure doesn't even tell us.  The maps to the final lair, a warehouse ambush, or the pirate ship aren't even included!!!

What makes it worse is that THIS ISN'T EVEN AN ORIGINAL ADVENTURE! It was first published in Signs and Portents, the Mongoose PDF magazine. Originally, it was a D20 adventure but was translated over to LWM rules. Somehow, they made the adventure presentation WORSE. They didn't even bother fixing errors from the original adventure such as on page 50 (from the PDF) it says, "they can meet Franklin," but it actually means, "they can meet Stephen Jarn." This is one example of something that is wrong in the original and never corrected. Frankly, this is simply lazy. You already have the whole thing written - take four hours and go through to edit the thing before rushing it out the door!

At the end of the day, even though I like some of the features of the adventure, the sloppiness is inexcusable. This is the worst book produced for the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG to date.

1LR Review - 8 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Machinist Movie Review

I would advise you to see The Machinist if for only one reason: To see a skeletal 120 pound Christian Bale. Holy crow that guy dropped a ton of weight!

Aside from that, it tells an interesting tale. You begin by thinking that this is going to be a Fight Club like story - the guy can't sleep and develops a crazy, killing alter ego. In fact, the film telegraphs this so clearly early on that I was prepared for a snooze fest. But what's brilliant is that the film sets you up to believe one thing and then rips the carpet out from underneath your feet. I don't want to say too much because this is one you don't want to have ruined for you.

Christian Bale and the rest of the cast put in excellent performances in this dark character study. 

1LR Review: 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

First Impression: Ticket to Ride Map Collection Volume 1: Asia

I've got to tell you that I'm SUPER PUMPED for the Ticket to Ride Map Collection Volume 1: Asia! As someone who has every single TtR game and expansion, I've very pleased every time a new one is released.

First of all, it's got two different maps on a double-sided board. Sweet! According to the Days of Wonder website, the first map will feature Team Asia for 4 or 6 players. First, this is awesome because it is the first TtR game to feature the six player option! This is also interesting because this appears to be a map that requires partner play. Notice it is "4 or 6 players," not, "4 to 6 players!" I wonder how the team option will work?

The second map will feature Legendary Asia for 2-5 players who must navigate their ways through the Himalayan passes. This map is one of the winners of the Days of Wonder TtR contest, François Valentyne. It seems that this map is of a more traditional TtR standard rules.

The whole setup will costs $30.00 which isn't bad considering what you're getting. The game comes with nine additional train cars for each of the five colors of trains. I'd say that indicates that for one of the maps you'll play with more than the standard starting number of train cars. The six card holders are also curious... could they be for the overturned cards that you can draw from? Interesting... The Map Pack is an expansion, meaning you will need to have a copy of a TtR game to play this (just for the trains, however).

How cool will it be to use those Alvin and Dexter monster pieces on an Asian map? Think Godzilla attacks Japan...

Ticket to Ride Map Collection Volume 1: Asia
There will be another TtR Map Pack released shortly featuring India. That expansion will feature the other winning map by Ian Vincent.

Scrabble Championship Controvery

The letter "G" went missing the other day at the Worldwide Scrabble Championships. Words were said. Tempers flared. Strip searches were demanded. That's right. Strip searches. For the missing letter "G."
The officials didn't do the strip searches but they did make the competitors turn out their pockets. Wow. That's a real close examination. Couldn't get a one inch wooden square past that thorough investigation!

How does stuff like this happen? You'd figure for the FINAL GAME of the World Scrabble Championships there'd be video cameras and plenty of eyewitnesses. I'm sure the letters were counted and recounted before the game. 

And what's really odd is that the officials simply replaced the missing "G" and continued playing like nothing happened. The letter was noticed missing very late in the game so heaven only knows what impact this had on the game, especially since the champion only won by one point. 

Sheesh. If Scrabble isn't safe what else isn't? Next you'll be telling me they use steroids in baseball and the Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, cheated on his taxes. Ludicrous!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lone Wolf Multiplayer #6 - Book of the Magnakai Review

Book of the Magnakai is the sixth book for the Lone Wolf Multiplayer RPG.

First, I can't let the name escape notice. "Book of the Magnakai" is actually the name of a book in the Lone Wolf world that plays a critical role in the solo adventure books. It's also the name of a Joe Dever novel.

This book is EXACTLY what Lone Wolf Multiplayer needed. From the core rules and Heroes of Magnamund, characters start at level 5 and progress to level 10. For an ongoing campaign this doesn't allow very much play time before your characters are hitting the top of the charts and "know everything." Terror of the Darklords alone will take your characters to level 10! Mongoose once again follows the lead of the solo adventure books and makes it possible for your character to go to level 20 by adding ten new abilities!

I've got to say that I'm very impressed with this book! It doesn't seem to be an afterthought at all - it seems like this book was part of the plan all along. The new powers naturally expand what already existed without sloppy contradictions. The authors even go so far as to address the "11th discipline" issue with the White Knights! Very nice!

The intro to the book is very clearly written and actually serves an important purpose - setting the stage for characters of this level. Essentially, once you've reached level 11 you're an "epic" character. You're no longer going on petty errands or stopping a common band of thieves to go up a level. You've got to have epic adventures! I thought the authors did a very nice job of describing that.

Now, not everything is sunshine and roses. A couple of minor nit-pics:

  • The character sheets are still fuzzy. Come on, people! Figure out how to print without this pixelization! The Kai weapon list on page 70 is the same way. Ugh!
  • As with all LWM books, this one suffers from some misprints and typos. For example, for the Border Ranger's ability High Mark of the Marksman it says to count a "zero" as a "5" or a "6" instead. But a 5 or 6 are worse than a zero! I think it means to count a "1" as a "5" or a "6." D'oh! Stuff like that should be child's play for an editor.
  • The intro gives rules for increased combat skill over time... what about endurance? Most of the new spells use more willpower than before... doesn't this mean that spellcasters will run out of willpower that much quicker? A character's willpower should increase over time as well.
All in all, an excellent supplement despite some minor flaws. 

1LR Review - 18 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Catanimals (Catan Stuffed Animals)

Catanimal Plush Wheat
Recently, Mayfair announced the release of Catanimals (Yes, I know that looks like "Cat Animals" but it's actually (Catan-Animals). It's hardly a fitting name because only one of them is an animal, the sheep. For those not familiar with Settlers of Catan (scoff), there are five primary resources to the core game: Wood, Sheep, Brick, Wheat, and Ore. Each one has been transformed into a stuffed plush toy. Check them out:

First, appearance.

The wood is pretty unique. It looks like wood and I like how the mouth is the crack between the pieces of wood.
The ore looks more like a smiling lump of coal or a grey raincloud. Pass.
The sheep looks really good but who hasn't seen a stuffed sheep before? Not original enough.
The bricks look very orange in the picture, not red. They also look shy for some reason.
The wheat reminds me of a bunch of yellow broccoli for some reason. I expect it to start singing and dancing to inform me about the dangers of poor nutrition. What are those white things on the side? Hands? Ears? Wings?

Catanimal Plush Brick
Now, these may be cute and the extremely die-hard completionist Catan collector may have to have all five. But for Mayfair to offer alternate gaming rules based on the use of Catanimals in-game borders on ludicrous.. Here's how it works: Be the first to have 3 "points" in any one resource and you get to cuddle up to the corresponding Catanimal! You earn one point by building a settlement next to a resource tile and upgrading that settlement to a city adds an additional point. By earning a Catanimal, you get an additional victory point in-game. Using these alternate rules, Mayfair suggests playing to 12 victory points with 3-4 players and 11 victory points with 5-6 players.
Catanimal Plush Ore

The prices on these things range from $4.00 to $8.00 each online... Check out for the lowest price I've seen if you've GOT to have them.

Myself, I would say if you wanted to play with these alternate rules, use a brick, a rock from your back yard, a stick, a ball of wool, and some straw or hay in a baggie. Or, just write the words WOOD, BRICK, WHEAT, SHEEP, and ORE on index cards. There. I just saved you $40.