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Saturday, April 29

Death in Freeport - Part 5: The Temple

A few minutes later, a slight man with pince-nez huffed up to Kham. “I’m afraid you cannot thee Brother Egil,” he said with a strong lisp. “He’th buthy. I’m Miloth. If you have quethtionth for him, you can talk to me.”

Kham looked back at Ilmarė as if to ask, “Is this guy for real?” Then he turned back to Milos. “Okay, Miloth—“

“Miloth,” said Milos.

“That’s what I said,” said Kham. “Miloth.”

“No, MiloTH,” said Milos.

“Look, whatever your name is. We had some questions for Egil regarding Lucius. You remember Lucius, right?” [MORE]

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Wednesday, April 26

Death in Freeport - Part 4d: The Bloody Vengeance

Ilmarė ducked as an arrow shivered in the Rusty Hook’s door, where her head had been. She dashed off down the docks, clearing a shipping crate with one leap.

Vlad, in full plate armor, struggled to do the same. Ilmarė turned as he scrabbled over the crate like a crab.

“Stupid human,” she yanked Vlad over the top of the crate. He fell on the other side as arrows thudded around them. “When are you going to learn to stop wearing such heavy armor?”

An arrow KA-TANGED off of his armor.

“When people stop shooting things at me,” said Vlad. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:14 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, April 24

Death in Freeport - Part 4c: The Bloody Vengeance

There was a soft click. “Piece of cake,” Kham though to himself.

Then his left arm went numb. Something had pinched the top of his hand while he was fiddling with the lock.

Poison! Kham knew he had to work fast. He put the dagger back in his overcoat and slowly lifted the lid. It was heavy, heavy enough that he had to strain to keep it from slamming open and dumping everything on top of it to the floor.

There was a low, rolling sound. An Altherian compass, undoubtedly taken off the body of an Altherian captain, wobbled its way across the lid… [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:24 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, April 23

Movie Review: Silent Hill

The end is somewhat predictable and contrived, leaving it open to a sequel. And really, Silent Hill isn't that bad of a horror movie. It resorts to the slow terror of awfulness; not the oogity-boogity shrieking attacks common to what passes for horror these days. In that respect Silent Hill is an achievement: a horror film that is content to horrify. It's Hellraiser for the gamer set, and that's not such a bad thing.

Now if they could only find something for Sean Bean to do… [MORE]

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Saturday, April 22

Death in Freeport - Part 4b: The Bloody Vengeance

So what’s the plan?”

“Plan?” said Kham, patting himself down until he found the potion he was looking for. “You must be new. I don’t do plans.”

“Okay,” said Dril. “Well, I can’t see you any more.”

Kham faded from site as a result of his invisibility potion.

“And here I thought our first date was going so well,” said Kham. “Keep the guards busy.” [MORE]

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Wednesday, April 19

Death in Freeport - Part 4a: The Bloody Vengeance

Ilmarė tensed up. “They’re looking for Kham.”

The orcs slurped their meals, practically taking bites out of the wooden bowls as they did so.

“Well?” shouted Scarbelly. “Ye get me all excited about some treasure an' now th' guy doesn’t show up?”

“If they get back to the ship while Kham is on it…” said Vlad.

Ilmarė closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I really didn’t want to have to do this.”

Vlad looked at her in bewilderment. “Do what?”

With a shout, Ilmarė hopped up onto their table. Throwing her arms wide, she began to sing:

“Oooooooh, WHO LIVES IN A GROTTO DOWN UNDER THE SEA?” [MORE]

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Tuesday, April 18

Goth Youths Prone to Suicide Attempts and Self-Mutilation

You've got to love when academia and journalism collide to create...utter nonsense:
GLASGOW, Scotland, April 14 - The rate of suicide attempts and self-mutilation-is high among those in the Goth youth subculture, researchers here reported.

More than half of 19-year-olds who self-identified as Goth reported self-harming behavior, and nearly half reported a suicide attempt, said Robert Young, a research associate at the University of Glasgow.

But whether participation in Goth culture leads to self-destructive behavior or whether adolescents with those tendencies gravitate to Goth is not clear, Young and colleagues said online today in BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Goth is a subgenre of punk culture characterized by "a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music," the investigators said. There is a Goth subculture in the U.S., reportedly inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragon. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:11 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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How To Build a Game In A Week From Scratch With No Budget

It's like MUD development...in a week! Thanks to Doug for pointing this one out.

An RPG in a week, starting from scratch? How hard could it be?

I did it because of a dare.

There are many great resources available to small, budget-conscious independent game developers today. On a public forum, in a counter-rant, I expressed this fact by bragging that if you gave me a week, a fresh install of Windows, and a good Internet connection, I could build a halfway decent game with no budget whatsoever. No, it wouldn't be able to compete with Halo 2 or anything (if I could create that kind of game in a week, I'd quit my day job), but it would be reasonably amusing and playable.

Tom Bampton, who runs the monthly Game-In-A-Day 'competition' (www.gameinaday.com ), said "You're on!" He then added an extra contingency – I had to do it without the benefit of one of the (free) game engines out there. I could only use a basic library / API.

At first, I dismissed the idea. I didn't have time to take a week off of work and my current game development project to do something like this. But then I thought: What is a week? Unless you work for EA, a work-week is 40 hours. How about taking 40 hours to create a game? I was intrigued – but I didn't want to just create a space-invaders clone. How about a role-playing game – one of the most complicated genres to create games for? Would it be possible?

I didn't know. I knew it would be extremely difficult. But I accepted the challenge.

On top of that, I documented what I was doing as I worked, which I expected would be a little like going through an entire development cycle on fast-forward. I thought it might be interesting to game developers – or at least an entertaining record of how I fell on my face if I failed. The end result was a long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness record of my hourly activities. I've tried to edit it down to something a little less yawn-inducing here. [MORE]

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Sunday, April 16

Death in Freeport - Part 3: House of Lucius

Brother Egil looked at the note curiously. “Well, it does mention sleeping. Poor Lucius, he must have been exhausted. And he did have a fondness for turnips. But this last part, about visiting Captain Scarbelly—“

“Scarbelly?” asked Kham. He clumped back up the steps of the basement. “He’s bad news.”

Egil nodded. “He’s the captain of the Bloody Vengeance. It’s crewed by orcs.”

“I have heard of this orc,” said Ilmarė. “He claims to have killed 29 men in hand-to-hand combat.”

Vlad slapped one hand on the hilt of his longsword. “Let’s make sure he doesn’t hit 30.” [MORE]

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Tuesday, April 11

Death in Freeport - Part 2: An Offer of Employment

“Why can’t your…priests find him?” said Ilmarė, sneering at the word “priests.”

“It’s complicated,” said Egil. “After Brother Oriku’s betrayal, I suspect the Temple has been infiltrated by spies. I’m not sure whom I can trust there. But I know Lucius, and I know he would not just abandon his duties.”

“It’s either booze, a woman, or he’s dead,” said Kham. “One of the three, I’m betting.”

“It’s not like Lucius,” said Egil. “We all take vows of abstinence and poverty upon joining the Temple.”

“And that’s why I’m not a priest of Althares,” said Kham. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:54 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Friday, April 7

Pyramid Article: The Many Faces of Evil

Paladins have a multitude of divine powers, from turning the living dead to healing the wounded, from calling upon the divine grace of the gods to summoning a holy mount. And yet the least of the paladin's abilities, the ability to detect evil, is often overlooked.

With the power to know a person's soul comes great responsibility. What does a paladin do when he detects evil in someone who has yet to exhibit any evil actions? Does he draw a sword and kill the man, thereby committing murderer in the eyes of the law? For that matter, what's considered evil, exactly? This article explores the consequences peering into another person's soul.

Detect evil, at a glance, is a visual response. Like a smudge of dirt, it appears on people and things that bear its taint. But what is evil? Your paladin might specialize in a particular form of evil detection, depending on his deity's background. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:27 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Death in Freeport - Introduction

This is the first in the Freeport series of modules, "Death in Freeport," written by Chris Pramas and (loosely) set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

· Kham Val’Abebi(val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)
· Vlad Martell (human ftr3) played by Matt Hammer
· Ilmarė Galen (elf brd5) played by Amber Tresca
· Naruis Drilian (human rog1/rgr2) played by Mike Best

Michael Tresca (that’s me) was Dungeon Master for this session.

I wasn’t sure how this would go, given that it’s not our usual tournament type adventure. The good news is that it went just fine.

This was one of those instances where the party really clicked. At one point, the party’s synergy comes together in such a way that you could feel everything lock into place. Which is pretty amazing, given that Mike had just joined us. Thanks to combined efforts of the rogue types, they managed to pull off an incredible heist. All that, and they unearthed a cult too!

This adventure was upgraded to make it suitable for their level (normally, this adventure is for 1st level PCs). I replaced the relatively weak serpent people from the Freeport adventure with Ssanu from the Ssethregore supplement. I discovered three of them in one adventure is plenty!

This is the first true city adventure without a linear plot that our group played. As a result, in most cases the party needed a little prodding to move in the right direction. Also, there are quite a few red herrings (everyone was positive the staff had something to do with Lucius), and since we play in four-hour blocks it was critical that the adventure keep moving. The good news is that it did.

There was intrigue, role-playing, plenty of grandstanding, lots of amazing rolls and best of all, stuff for Vlad to chop up at the end! [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:02 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, April 3

Assault Upon the Gate of Tears - Conclusion

“Xerxes has informed me that I have you to thank for my continued health,” said Gemellus in a voice brimming with barely controlled anger. “For that I thank you.”

“We did what we had to,” said Quintus. “For the greater good.”

“My former mentor has also informed me of the plot of Lucious Orata and his subsequent imprisonment,” said Gemellus. “Xerxes is no longer safe upon the Isle until the traitors can no be ferreted out. I will allow you to leave with him.”

“I don’t think you could keep him here if he wished to leave,” said Ilmarė with a sneer.

“Know this: should you ever step foot upon my homeland again, or cross paths with my people, our parting shall not be as cordial,” said Gemellus.

Quintus met his gaze without wavering. “I’m counting on it,” he said.

Peering into an ornate amulet around his neck, Gemellus said, “ah, there’s your ship right now.” He turned to Xerxes with a slight smile. “I will miss you, my old friend. Thank you for all your years of…instruction.”

“YOU’RE! WELCOME!” shouted Kham at the top of his lungs. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:18 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, April 2

DVD Review: Twisted

So we have a gorgeous female cop who sleeps around, yet there are very few bedroom scenes. We have a serial killer plot that is connected by red herrings (Who is that lady across the street? Why does Jessica fiddle with a cigarette but never light it?). On one hand, the cops are strictly by the book; they make a big deal out of the fact that Jessica kicks a serial killer in the face. On the other hand, nobody pulls Jessica off the case when she's a prime suspect, nor watch her home when the serial killer is obviously following her around.

Neither sleazy or highbrow, gritty or moralistic, Twisted is so boring, it gets bored with itself. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:19 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Movie Review: V for Vendetta

On a visceral level, this film could just have been about the title: revenge. But it's so much more than that. The touch of the Wachowski brothers is everywhere, from the dialogue to the camera shots, beautifully panning, teasing, titillating and mocking with every shot, every sound, and every line. V is an English-major's protagonist, spouting alliterations and quoting Shakespeare. Dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask and voiced with honeyed tones by Weaving, he's instantly likable and frightening, a madcap spirit who heralds the clarion call of change. See, now they've got me doing it! [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:48 PM | 1 comments links to this post


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DVD Review: Saw II

In the end, this sequel can't possibly duplicate the taut thrills of Saw because it's actually two films awkwardly mashed together. And it has Wahlberg. Given the conclusion, perhaps we have finally seen the end of my arch nemesis.

But I doubt it. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:00 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Game & Book Blowout Sale!

Check out all the games and books listed on my Half.com store for sale! [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:42 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Saturday, April 1

New Review: Blood & Brains

Blood & Brains: The Zombie Hunter's Guide recently received a four-star review at RPGNow from Chris Gath:

Blood and Brains is the book for Zombie adventures. It has great monsters and tools for the DM to create their own adventure and campaign or to use one like Weekend Warriors a PDF adventure by 12 to Midnight. Blood and Brains does a through job of covering the topic and providing a fun and interesting way to do it all. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:49 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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New Review: Frost & Fur

Frost & Fur: The Explorer's Guide to the Frozen Lands recently received a four-star review at RPGNow from Richard Hamp:

A nice product overall. I am running a campaign where the party is going to be in some colder lands for quite a while and I think that this book will be very valuable for that. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:43 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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