Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA. It's important!

Obviously if you're on the internet, you've heard about these things a lot. I'm not planning on doing anything particularly flashy here, I'm just gonna give my opinion.

The problem with these pieces of legislation is that they're vaguely worded and draconian, allowing for arbitrary enforcement based on how much political pull can be applied. They would make running a website rather like playing Russian Roulette, especially for smaller operations that don't have the money or manpower to chase down every link that might contain infringing material.

The enforcement of this act also abrogates due process, and tramples on a site host's constitutional 1st. Amendment rights.

The classic definition of censorship is making it illegal to say something. Making it prohibitively expensive, or making your message impossible to reach, is just as insidious a form of censorship, and it allows those in authority the cover of technically not making the message itself illegal. SOPA and PIPA are built to allow just that sort of abuse.

I exhort my fellow Americans to contact their Senators and Congresspeople. If you go to Wikipedia today and type in your zip code, you'll get contact info for your representatives. I got my reps' phone numbers and called them all, and left messages assuring them that if they vote YES on these bills, they will NOT be receiving my vote in the next electoral cycle.

And finally, while I hope that public outcry will force the sponsors of these bills to back down, bear in mind that this will at best be a temporary victory. The film and music industry have deep pockets, and until the current old guard in positions of power in those industries have been replaced by generations who've grown up with the web and understand its potential, SOPA & PIPA will reappear in some new form. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and VOTE.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Siege of Bridgefair

So yesterday I had the opportunity to join my old gaming cronies Paul and Delta in an awesome game of Delta's magnum opus, Book of War.

Whenever there's a city in one of Paul's campaigns, sooner or later somebody's gonna want to come and wreck it, as evidenced in 2010's disastrous defense of Restenford. This time around it was an undead army, aiming for the walled city of Bridgefair. Our forces were Paul's excellent selection of eeny meeny 10mm minis from Pendraken Miniatures.

About five members of Paul's gaming group at his job were playing the defenders, so I threw in with Delta and Paul on the side of the attackers. I also served as the session photographer.

I was given a unit of skeleton archers, a unit of skeleton fighters, a unit of zombies, and a siege tower, and formed kind of a detachment from the main force. My big role in the fight was tying up the Bridgefairies' heavy cav, and keeping them off our main force and our necromancer. I managed to get my siege tower up to the wall too, which was cool.

In the end, the dead guys lost big time, being ground down from a massive wave of animated bodies to just one disgruntled necromancer, who vanished in a puff of formaldehyde vowing revenge. A greatly reduced force on the side of the living lived to fight another day.


As usual, Delta's rules play like a charm, and we got in 15 turns in about 3.5 - 4 hours. I'll leave it up to Delta and Paul to give a better play by play, because I was really too busy taking photos to commit the events to memory.

Paul has posted his in depth account of the fracas here.

Delta's report is here. Read them! Experience them!

Thanks for running a great battle, guys!

Friday, January 13, 2012


This is what I think.

And neither do you, when it comes to what I think about it, probably.

On a related side note, though, you could market the ka-rap out of "D&D V". Just that assembly of letters could yield countless awesome visual statements. Like have a gigantic V with a dragon wedged in it or something. It's like a big box full of birthday presents for any graphic designer upon who's desk it may land...

So it at least has that going for it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lords of Light!

I just thought I'd take a moment to mention that Thundarr the Barbarian rocks on toast. And not just any toast, but artisan* baked multigrain toast simultaneously sliced & toasted by Thundarr's mighty Sun Sword.

My brother gave me a bunch of Hanna Barbara classics DVD's for Christmas, and Thundarr is the gem of the group. I thought it was awesome when I was eight, but it continues to be awesome when I'm about to turn forty, which is quite a feat for a cartoon show.

It's got some pretty sophisticated concepts for a kid's cartoon show of its vintage, and Robert Ridgely's always kinda pissed off delivery for Thundarr is a gift that keeps on giving (plus he's got some awesome lines).

All the Jack Kirby designs for the various mutants, monsters, wizards, and war machines make for a very distinctive look. (Although Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla were all designed by Alex Toth.)

This obviously isn't really big news for any old school gamer types who came up in the 80's, but I am enjoying the heck out of it, and it makes me want to do something Gamma World-esque very badly. The series is pretty much just an animated version of the Platonic ideal of a GW campaign.

So check it out.

* On the subject of "artisan" foodstuffs, I'm not sure I buy this particular bit of marketing nomenclature. Are we to presume that artisan bread was forged by a breadsmith? I dunno.

New Race/Class: Primusaurs

These civilized saurians hail from the vast, verdant valley of Gwangitopia, where they are ruled by the fearsome yet benevolent Megasaurus Rex from his mighty fortress atop the volcano known as Mount Krong.

Primusaur society is in many ways quite similar to that of ancient human cultures, and thus there are among them more adventurous souls who strike out to make their fortune as mercenaries and dungeon delvers, rather than spend their life on a capybara ranch or giant termite plantation.

REQUIREMENT: Con 9, Str 12
Hit Dice: d12

Primusaurs can range between five to seven feet tall, and weigh between 250 to 500 pounds. They resemble small tyrannosaurs, but walk in an upright posture with their tails dragging behind them. Their forelimbs are small and weak, while their legs are large and powerfully muscled. They possess thumbs on all four limbs, using their arms for delicate tasks and their legs for lifting heavy weights, as long as they don't have to walk anywhere with their load.

They are capable of delivering a bite for 1d6 damage, or a kick with a hind leg for 1d8. This latter attack can only be made every other round, as they need to recover their balance in the intervening round. Primusaurs can wield one handed weapons, or use a spear one handed with a -1 to hit, but cannot use two handed swords, pole arms, or any kind of bow except crossbows, which due to being aimed one handed also suffer a -1 to hit.

Their skin is leathery, and ranges in color from yellow green to dark brown. It provides a natural Armor Class of 7. Primusaurs can wear any armor, and can use shields.

These creatures are possessed of an amazing ability to regrow lost extremities, even a severed head may be regrown thanks to a secondary brain situated above their hips that retains their memories.

It takes a Primusaur 30 days minus their Level to regrow limbs and tail, and 50 days to regrow a lost head. This ability is independent of their Hit Points, but can be accelerated by 10 days with a Cure Serious Wounds spell.

A Primusaur with a severed head is blind, deaf, cannot communicate, and cannot eat until their new head starts budding about ten days later. While this fast goes on, they cannot heal naturally, and they will be mindlessly ravenous when their new head grows back for 1d4 days. Most Primusaur adventurers set up a special code of taps and touches so they can recognize and be assisted by allies should they be rendered headless.

Veteran Primusaur warriors often have one or two of their own heads on display in their trophy alcove. Tarkasaur the Implacable, a near legendary figure among his people, was said to possess seven of these grisly trophies, kept in a place of honor among the heads of a multitude of other foes.

Primusaurs are exothermic, and if they are exposed to cold conditions (below 50ยบ Farenheit), they move as if they are under one higher level of encumbrance. If they are at maximum encumbrance, they go torpid and are unable to move.

Their eyes change color to reflect their mood, with red indicating anger, yellow fear, green a neutral mood, and blue indicating satisfaction or serenity. They cannot control this color change, and thus suffer +2 to reaction checks if they are attempting to lie or deceive. They possess infravision out to 60'.

Males possess a small, blunt horn on the tip of their nose, and females tend to be smaller and lighter in build. Primusaurs lay eggs to reproduce, and these eggs can be kept dormant in cold storage for up to 20 years. Their diet is omnivorous, but they favor meat and insects.

Primusaur culture is at once barbarous and refined. They adorn themselves in richly colored cloaks and harnesses and torques of gold and copper, and collect the severed heads and skulls of their foes as trophies. (They consider it a point of honor to retrieve their own lost heads or limbs, which they keep to be placed their funeral pyre upon their death.)

They are capable of terrible outbursts of extreme violence, but are known to wax lyrical at scenes of natural beauty, and are earnest patrons of music, song, and poetry. They duel to the point of dismemberment over matters of honor, but are gentle, loyal, and caring to those they consider their friends.

Primusaurs are mortal enemies of the troglodytes, and consider it their duty to slay them. They are ambivalent toward lizard folk, and can get along if the marsh dwelling reptile men are highly enough evolved to make treaties and honor bargains. Savage lizard folk are generally avoided if possible, or slain if not.

Primusaurs possess parrot like vocal chords that allow them to speak Common with a thick accent. Their own language sounds like a collection of grunts, rumbles, and roars, and a lot of the phonemes are subsonic. They can speak the language of troglodytes and lizard folk, and those with intelligence over 14 may speak Draconic.

Upon reaching 9th. level, a Primusaur may seek a grant from their ruler to establish a fortress, preferably in a lush jungle valley or atop an active volcano, which he will rule as a Dinolord. This community will attract other Primusaur warriors and their clans to come live under its skull festooned banner. Primusaurs favor large caves and ancient lava tunnels for their lairs, with creche rooms for their eggs in the deepest, warmest parts of the complex.

Primusaurs use the dwarf tables for combat, level advancement, and saving throws.

This class is hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.