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Thursday, August 31

Holiday in the Sun - Introduction

This is a free adventure that takes place in Freeport, written by Chris Pramas and (loosely) set in the Arcanis setting. You can download the adventure at: http://64.17.155.164/gr_files/focus05a.pdf. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

· Vlad Martell (human ftr4) played by Matt Hammer
· Ilmarė Galen (elf brd4/ftr1) played by Amber Tresca
· Naruis Drilian (human rog1/rgr2) played by Mike Best

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

This short adventure focuses on a pirate captain, so it wasn’t much of a leap to flesh out Baldric’s personality a bit more and give him something else to do besides chew scenery and make people sing sea chanties. I also made some tweaks to tie it into the overall plot of the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign. Even though it’s a short adventure, everyone had their chance to do their part—Dril especially, being that he’s the “urban guy.”

I got to use quite a few props, as you’ll see in the pictures. I also increased the hit dice of the main bad guy at the end considerably, but the poor monster (who doesn’t even have a name!) still had a rough time of it. And oh yeah, the reason the dire rat is so huge is…well, because I don’t have a mini that matches the size of your usual dire rat, so I beefed it up considerably. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 7:18 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Getting His Game On: Tom Salta

More updates on Tom's progress:

Tom Salta deserves an award just for putting up with these obligatory questions about his wardrobe and acceptance speech. The composer was recently nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for writing the 35-minute score of Ubisoft's 2006 video game, "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter." [MORE]

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


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Tuesday, August 29

Movie Review: The Descent

Lord John Whorfin once said that character is "who you are in the dark." We get the answer in Descent. Despite the attractive actresses playing the roles, this movie is literally a descent into the dark recesses of the soul. What they find there ain't pretty. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:30 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, August 28

DVD Review: Secretary

Although it's certainly not for everybody, Secretary puts an entertaining twist on the usual boy meets girl format. It's more girl meets boy, boy spanks girl, and they live happily ever after. [MORE]

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Sunday, August 27

Death in Freeport - Conclusion

“I’m going to keep an eye on Lucius. I don’t trust him.”

Ilmarė nodded. “And I will monitor the priests of Althares,” she said grimly. “It would be like the ssanu to use your false gods as a front for their cult.”

“You two do that,” said Kham. “I uh, have to leave town for awhile.”

Ilmarė rolled her eyes. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with the bounty on your head, would it?”

“Which one?” asked Kham. “I’m starting to lose track." [MORE]

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Wednesday, August 23

Death in Freeport - Part 12: Initiation Chamber

Kham straightened and smoothed his jacket. Running from a cultist was understandable, but running from a lisping idiot like Milos was unforgivable. He would be sure to let the ladies have a chat with Milos, Altherian-style.

Then he remembered his bladder. The fear had nearly caused him to wet his pants.

“So Lucius violated an inner sanctum of Althares,” said Kham with a smirk. He unbuttoned his pants. “Well, Milos, let’s see what your ‘Unthpeakable One’ thinks of this!” [MORE]

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Saturday, August 19

Death in Freeport - Part 11: Temple of the Unspeakable Oath

“You mutht learn rethopect!” shouted Milos.

“How can anyone possibly respect you when you talk like that?” Kham shouted back, pistols cocked. [MORE]

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Friday, August 18

Shout Out to the J-Man!

I recently had the honor of working with an HR intern whom nobody could accurately name. His name started with a J, but it was alternately Justin, James, Jeff...who the hell knows.

This is how he got named J-Man by yours truly.

Today is the last time I will see J-Man (his internship ends on Monday), but he made a special request before he left: say hi to him on my blog before he goes.

So this one's for you, J-Man. Good luck in your next adventure!

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Tuesday, August 15

Alien Invasion, Coming soon!

Is alien life visiting our planet?

Do they abduct the people of this world and perform experiments on them?

Has the government known about them and hidden the truth?

Is it all just a big conspiracy?

What is the truth, and what does it mean for the people of Earth?

Written by Michael Tresca, this book explores all of the above questions and more, exposing the truth about aliens and the governments role in keeping the truth of their existence from the public eye. Alien Invasion takes a look at real government projects such as Majestic 12, Project Blue Book, Excalibur, Looking Glass and Moondust. Alien invasion examines military installations, cults and fringe elements, such as the Raelian Movement and Ground Zero Radio.

Alien invasion gives you everything you need to run a campaign involving aliens, providing guidelines on how to handle alien investigations, abductions, the effects of crop circles on the human mind and body. We provide new backgrounds and advanced classes, cults, feats, alien technology, templates new aliens and much much more!

Click here for a preview of the artwork in Alien invasion!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:23 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, August 14

Pyramid Magazine: Magical Telegraphy

Check out my latest article, "Magical Telegraphy" in the latest issue of Pyramid:

Magical telegraphy can mobilize communities in a way no lord possibly could. When criminals (or adventurers) commit a crime, the next town over will know about it before the criminal even arrives. Any major event can be instantly communicated across villages, kingdoms, continents, and even worlds. Two adventurers with a chance meeting on another plane of existence could keep in constant contact on their respective worlds thanks to sending, or at least through wizards casting the spell on their behalf. [MORE]

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Gen Con: The Day After

Well, Sunday actually turned out to be a pretty good day. Waking up at 6:30 a.m. sucked, but it did keep us busy. We had a great gaming group and an even better DM. Unfortunately, the adventure was a murder mystery; given that these adventures are timed slots, mysteries can drag on and on and on. Fortunately, the DM knew this and ushered us along nicely. That, and Blast memorizes charm person and hypnotism for just such an occassion.

Anyway, we faced down a bunch of ghouls with a fireball and then tracked the bad guy to his lair...only to have the bad guy come up behind us while in said lair. He successfully cast "hold person" on Blast (how embarassing!) only to be rescued by one of our clerics who cast protection from evil on him, giving Blast another saving throw.

Things went downhill for the bad guys from there. One fireball and two lightning bolts later and the adventure was over. Overall, Matt/Perin leveled to 4th, Eric/Darius leveled to 3rd, and Blast got a shiny new 1st level spell called Kelgore's Firebolt that inflcts 1d6 fire damage/level (max 5d6). This makes Blast's first level spells much more powerful than a mere magic missile, especially when he has two pearls of power to back him up.

We hit the dealer's room one last time. I bought a whole pile of miniatures, including MageKnight, miniatures from Goodman Games, and the starter kit for HorrorClix. I just couldn't help myself!

Flying back was terrible, as expected. Going out of New York is bad enough, going into New York is downright insane. Everybody gets searched, even boarding the plane. You've got to love Airtran, who handed out what was meant to be a snarky/cute bag of pretzels on every flight. Here's the text from their pretzels (parenthetical commentary mine):

HOW TO EAT GOURMENT PRETZELS ON A LOW-FARE AIRLINE
1. Think about our wonderful low fare at airtran.com as you open packet (LOW FARES?! It was over $200 for a connecting flight!).
2. Place a pretzel in mouth. With each crunch, be reminded of our low fares (yeah, it reminded me of how much Airtran sucks).
3. As you swallow, remember again just how low the fares are (oh, I swallowed something all right, but it's not pretzels...).
4. Repeat until pretzel packet (or wallet) is empty.
5. Keep empty packet to remind yourself to book at airtran.com for our lowest fares and no booking fees (or to remind yourself never to take airtran again).


I was also handed a 1 million dollar bill on the street. It's a trap of course (failed my Spot roll, d'oh!). On the back is this:

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: Will you go to heaven? Here's a quick test: Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God's name in vain? (insert text as "proof" from the bible that it's bad to do all those things) Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgement Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in hell.


Then, and I love this part, there's an explanation of what to do...with a translation. The parenthetical note is NOT mine:

Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life.


So now we have to define what the word repent is? What's the world coming to?!

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Death in Freeport - Part 10: Cave of the Degenerates

Two figures in robes lurked behind the far pillars, loaded crossbows at the ready. Behind the pillar stood a small man wearing red and black robes with a full hood. A skull-shaped mask covered his face.

“You are the firth outthiders to ever reach the Temple of the Unthpeakable One,” said the unmistakable voice. “Your achievement detherveth congratulationth. It ith altho your doom!”

“Is that who I think it is?” asked Vlad.

“Althares help us,” said Kham. “It’s Milos.” [MORE]

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Sunday, August 13

Saturday

Saturday went well but was underwhelming. Where Friday was a knock-down, drag-out battle to the death where we all barely survived, Saturday's RPGA event was stupidly easy. The rogue spent hours disarming traps, some of which were clearly identified by graffiti of kobold heads being sliced off. And oh yeah, the headless kobolds laying in the hall.

We then broke a bunch of weapons to get a ritual that nobody can use. After rescuing two people, one of which who didn't really want to be rescued, we came across a troll. And then, frustrated at not having killed anything, beat the crap out of it. I almost felt bad for the troll.

Then we went back to the hotel, drank a lot of beer, and played three-dragon ante all night while watching the Venture Brothers. Good times, good times.

We've got an 8 a.m. game today. This is our last chance to kick some serious Living Greyhawk ass. I'm wearing my special shirt that reads: MY ELF STINKS...STINKS LIKE AWESOME. That's Blast's motto.

We'll see if we live up to it.

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Friday, August 11

And that's a wrap

Several beers in, fairly overheated, and ruuning out of air...I have to say that since I'm ana vid Freeeport dm, Green ronin's accolades are well-deserved. I picked up their Freeport books (all of them, including their most recent that concludes the succession of the sea lord).

good bye and good night!

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Fan's choice for best publisher

And here it is, the big popularity contest! Who will win? Peter Adkinson will tell us...

Incldues customer support, web site, etc. Over 40 were nominated.

Silver: wizards of the coast! As peter put it...how ironic!
Gold: green ronin publishing

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:46 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Innovation Award

Presented by Teflon Billy, this ois a judge's award presented by the board who came across something amazing and wanted to recognize:

Silver: atomic sock monkey press for truth and justice
Gold: impossible dream for dread, which uses Jenga tiles as a rules mechanic

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:42 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Grognard Award

For companies thqat represent older gaming traditions. If only they could figure out who won...

Silver: goodman games. Go Joe!
Gold: necromancer games! Go Bill and Clark!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:39 PM | 1 comments links to this post


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Best Product

Artesia
Fudge 10th anniversary
Game of thrones
Mastermind's manual
Mutants + masdterminds 2nd ed
Pulp hero
Shackled city adv path
Shadowrun 4th ed
Spycraft 2.0
Wilderlands
Hm: etherscope
Hm: dread

silver: mutants and masterminds 2nd edition
Gold: shadowrun 4th edition...they are really, really excited too :)

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:35 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best d20 Product

Etherscope...I contributed to the Great metropolis supplement, hope it wins!
Game of thrones
Mutants + masterminds
Shackled city
Spycraft 2.0
Hm: thieves world playes manual

Silver: game of thrones by guardians of order
Gold: mutants and masteminds by green ronin publishing

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:28 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best Game

Artesia
Dread
A game of thrones
Mutants + Masterminds
Spycraft 2.0
Hm: pendragon 5e

Silver: game of thrones by guardians of order!
Gold: green ronin for mutants + masterminds second edition

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:24 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best Electronic Book

Baba Yaga
Lorebook of the broken isles
Bits of the wilderness: into the open
Stuff!
Truth + justice
Hm: the last dominion

Silver: truth and justice by atomic sock monkey games
Gold: baba yaga the first setting in rassiya by dog soul publishing...too funny, I wrote an adventure about baba yaga from monkey god years ago!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:20 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best free product

Age of worms overload
Gates of hell
Mage the Awakening
Return to the Tomb of Five Corners
Six guns: the james yonuger gang

Silver: Mage the Awakening demo by white wolf
Gold: age of worms overload by paizo publishing

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:15 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best aid or accessory

13th hour
Flip-mat
Galadon mounted on rose
Iron heroes battlebox
Kya and lavarath
Hm: counter collection digital 2.0

Silver: 13th hour by midnight syndicate...I love their d+d music
Gold: flip-mat from steel sqwire...I just bought a bunch of their stuff today, go SS!

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Best campaign

Artesia
Dark legacies
Freedom city
Shackled city
Wilderlands
Hm: cyradon

Silver: freedom city by green ronin publishing
Gold: shackled city by paizo publishing

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Best supplement

Dragon compnedium
Everyday heroes
Houses of hermes
Realms of sorcery
MCs spell treasury
Hm: thieve's world players manual

Silver: Monte Cook's arcana evolved: spell treasury
Gold: dragon compendium voulme I! Yeah! I used the death master from this book!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:04 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Best Adversary/monster Product

Noms:
Iron Heroes bestiary
Lockdown
Masterminds and madmen
Tome of horrors 3
VII
HM: template troves vol 3

Silver: iron heroes bestiary by malhavoc press
Gold: tome of horrors 3! Go nerco games, they got my vote!!!

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Best Adventure

Noms: etherscope the lemurian candidate
DCC #12.5: iron Crypt of the heretics
Pleasure prison of the bthvuian demon whore
Shackled city
DCC#20: shadows in Freeport
Hm: dark harbor

Silver: that's right...the b'thuvian pleasure whore by expeditious retreat press! From "fear of girls" video
Gold: shackled city adventure path by paizo publishing

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Best rules

Noms:
Aces and eights: showdown
Dread
Mutants and masterminds 2nd ed
Shadowrun 4th ed
Spycraft 2.0
Hm: M+M mastermind manual

Silver: green ronin pub M+M 2nd ed
Gold: fan pro for shadowrun 4th ed (the punk haired folks in suits, go them!)

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Best writing

Noms:
Artesia
Baba Yaga
Mage: the awakening
Pulp Hero
VII
Hm: everyday heroes

Silver: hero games pulp hero
Gold: white wolf publishing Mage: the awakening

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:47 PM | 1 comments links to this post


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Best Production Values

Intro by keith baker after being introduced by rich (heheheh).
Noms:
Artesia
A game of thrones
Legend of the 5 rings
Serenity rpg
Shackled city adv path
Hm: exalted 2nd ed

Silver: guardians of order a game of thrones.
Gold: margaret weiss productions Serenity rpg

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Best cartography

Noms:
0ones blueprints the great city
Dragonlance tasslehoffs map pouch
Masterwork maps chasbin keep
The shackled city adv path
Wilderlands
Hm: knghts of the grail

Silver: paizo for shackled city
Gold: sovereign press for tasslheoff"s map puch: the war of the lance

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Best interior art

Noms:
Artesia
Dark legacies campaign guide
Legend of the 5 rings 3rd edition
Low life: the rise of the lowly
Mastermind' manual
Hm: exalted comics

Silver: green ronin mastermind's manual again
Gold: alderac entertainment group for legend of the five rings 3rd edition

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Best Cover Art

Rich burlew od orderofthestick.com fame introduces...

Noms:
Mastermind's manual
.Monte cook's arcana evolved: spell treasury
Pendragon 5th ed
Rifts ultimate edition
VII
Hm: world of aldea

Silver: green ronin for Mastermind's Manual.
Gold: malhavoc press for MC's spell treasury

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:33 PM | 1 comments links to this post


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Best Fan Site

Noms include diamondthrone.com, farlandworld.com, modus-operandi.co.uk, planewalker.com, yog-sothoth.com, and hm criticalmisss.com.

Silver: farlandworld.com
Gold: yog-sothoth.com!

I voted for them, yeah!

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:29 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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PK Speaks

He observes how companies are creating joy (and greed) in vast quantities. The crowd didn't react.

Also, a word about the increase in quality. With that in mind, finally the awards. And pants.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:26 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Piratecat Speaks

Oh yeah, cellphones to mute. Now for the intros:
Judges who went through over 180 products, including Cthlhu's Librarian, Chris Gath (missed th name), Joe Kushner, Teflon Billy, and Diaglo. And Psion. Denise Robinson, and Russ Morrisey (not present). Zapf is volunteer coordinator, Stewat Parker is Pr and Chris Johanssen who created a voting booth.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:23 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Kids in the audience...

We've just been told that certain words actually mean other things in respect for the kids. No F-bombs, apparently. Uh, okay...

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:19 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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And here we go...

The volume is terrible. Denise Robinson is talking. She's talking about hard times in the past year and how we're all happy to be here to celebrate. Door prizes. Wait! I never got a ticket for a door prize. Demands for a "little dance" for the door prize winners were denied. Okay, a finger waggle, but that's not the same thing...

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Dumbass!

The BRT guys are playing a game called dumbass. What's most fun is that whenever anyone asks, they respond "dumbass!"

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:08 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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And crowded

We"ve now run out of seats too. Next step, we run out of air.

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The bar...

Has a line. And it's hot.

Did I mention it's hot?

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Order of events

It looks like it's Best Fan Site a
Award up first. Matt just confused somebody in a mask with a gimp (S+.) vs. A wrestling mask. I live near the WWE, I may get beat up if we confuse them.

We're sitting down with Blacksburg Tactical Research and Great White Games. Cool guys!

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The Ennies

Well, it's a small room. And hot. Looks more organized than the year before, with just one projection screen. Matt's got beer in hand people-watching. We've already seen folks in suits and punk haircuts, so they must be somebody important.

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And here we go...

The second adventure was super tough. It was a special (dobule exp/gold), and the dm was kind. Blast cast all his spells, perin went down (and came up) countless times, and Darius saved us alll. No thanks to a cowardly barbarian. We survived, lost a lot of money in the dealer's hall, and now we've got seats at the ennies. Gearing up the blog for the report!

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Day one

After navigating the airport and recognizing that we're actually not staying at the same hotel as before, we arrived at the Garden Hilton. It is sweeeet! Big rooms, friendly staff, and now there are signs everywhere indicating that Indy is glad we' back. Looks like all those threats about moving the con worked, even the restaurants are happy we're here!

We managed to muster a game and ended up facing down the slavelords again. Perin/Matt nearly died fighting a Chuul, Blast fried a wizard in a crow's nest with a lightning bolt ("how do you light a torch? Just add fire!"), and Darius/Eric got made fun of a lot for being the token human. Fortunately we survived, though the chuul was far tougher than the final boss.

We ate and drank at Houlihan's and then watched forced Matt tio watch the Venture Brothers until he fell asleep.

Today's second stop (after breakfast) is the dealer's room! Go team Venture!

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Thursday, August 10

Atlanta

Well, we made it to Atlanta. I was going to take my luggage onto the plane, but the damn terrorist alert messed everything up. Rather than throw out my shampoo and toothpaste, I ran back to check my luggage.

With 10 minutes before my flight left, I politely asked the two blonde, coiffed moms in front of me if I could skip ahead after hearing their flight was leaving at 10 am. The response: a frown and, after a moment, a disgusted wave letting me cut...

Or not. The next person was called and they went ahead of me anyway, completely ignoring me.

Fortunately, this same incident happened to everyone on the plane, delaying it by an hour or so.

I have faced down the blonde minions evil...my first trial. I will not be defeated, forces of no-fun-ness! I will get to Gen Con!

But my luggage might not...

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On the Plane

"Thank God, we are on the plane," said Mr. Hammer.

That sums it up. MH ended landing in CT at 1 am at Bradley airport, then drove a rented SUV to White Plains. He finally got to the airporty (where his car was) at 3:30 am, and arrived home at 4 am.

Then he woke up two hours later to drive us to LaGuardia, whereupon we discovered that the terror alert had been raised, thereby snarling the airport so badly that we had a 2 hour security line. Oh yeah, also...

You can't carry on toothpaste.
Or mouthwash.
Or deodorant.

Apparently the terrorists threatening decided to use liquid bombs on a flight from Heathrow. So there you have it. The dark forces conspire against us, but we will prevail!

Now here's hoping we actually mnake the connecting flight out of Atlanta. Stay tuned true believers!

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Wednesday, August 9

ENnies - Here We Go Again...

I'm going to continue the experiment in insanity from last year and report from the ENnies, live, on my blog: http://michael.tresca.net. Hopefully, the RSS feed is working correctly now.

Also throughout the trip I'll be blabbering on about our travails as we struggle to make it to Gen Con in one piece. Considering my brother-in-law is in Michigan and my other buddy is currently in Minneapolis, how all three of us end up in the same place will be an interesting feat of logistics.

Here goes nuttin'...

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Death in Freeport - Part 9: Treasury

He ducked and rolled, coming up next to a chest. There were four skeletal corpses, all armed with swords and shields. They turned to advance on the others.

Kham whipped his dagger out…

…and immediately set to using the lockpicks hidden in the pommel to pick the lock of one of the chests.

“Kham, what are you doing?” asked Ilmarė as she ducked a clumsy swing. “Shoot them!”

“You guys can handle those things,” said Kham. There was a gratifying click as he twisted the dagger in the lock. “I’ll take care of the chests.”

“We’ve been broke for awhile,” said Vlad. He blocked a sword blow with his shield. “He spent it all on potions. And alcohol.”

“Remind me to hurt him later,” said Ilmarė. [MORE]

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Sunday, August 6

Death in Freeport - Part 8b: Intersection

Ilmarė examined the corpses. “These ssanu are young. But they have no business being here, this deep in human lands. I fear the worst.”

Kham rubbed his cheek. “It can get worse?” [MORE]

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Friday, August 4

The Passion of the Crust

Check out Aaron Weiss' latest film on YouTube, The Passion of the Crust. It's Reefer Madness for bread. A cautionary tale.

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Wednesday, August 2

Death in Freeport - Part 8a: Intersection

“Well,” said Ilmarė, staring down at Vlad flat on his back in a pit. “There goes our element of surprise.”
[MORE]

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Tuesday, August 1

Tom Salta Nominated for MTV's Video Music Awards

Tom Salta's score for Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter was nominated for Best Video Game Score in the MTV Video Music Awards.

This year there will be two new categories for the online gaming community to vote on, through Gametrailers.com and Xfire: Best Video Game Soundtrack and Best Video Game Score. Winners will be announced live on vma.mtv.com on August 31 during the MTV Overdrive broadcast.

Here’s your chance to make video game history! GameTrailers.com and MTV are proud to announce two new MTV Video Music Awards to be presented on MTV’s Overdrive during the world famous VMAs—“Best Video Game Soundtrack” and “Best Video Game Score.” GameTrailers has selected five nominees for each category, and you decide who wins by casting your vote now! So what are you waiting for? This is your chance to participate in the first ever video game related VMAs!

Vote Tom Salta's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter for Best Video game Score here.

Then, catch all the star-packed VMA action direct from New York on August 31. MTV News' preshow kicks things off at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the big show at 8 p.m.

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