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Sunday, October 29

The Senator's Seal - Part 4: The Pawnbroker

“Did you buy something from a fabric merchant named Aljandros?” asked Dril menacingly.

“Don’t know,” said the women, glaring back. “My memory’s foggy. But I have a fine array of items here you might be interested in purchasing if you’re so inclined.”

Ilmarė rolled her eyes. “Stupid hu—“

“I’ll take that dagger,” said Vlad, pointing at a blade ensconced in a gilded sheathe.

“That’s better,” said the woman. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:30 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Thursday, October 26

The Senator's Seal - Part 3: The Stockyards

A city as grand as Coryan required an impressive amount of meat to feed it. As a result, the stockyards were enormous.
They smelled the stockyards long before they saw them. The stench of offal assailed their nostrils.

Vlad sniffed the air. “Reminds me of home,” he said.

“Remind me to never visit Milandir,” said Ilmarė with a scowl. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:45 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, October 22

DVD Review: Mean Girls

The extras on the DVD really make Mean Girls shine, especially an interview with the original author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, Rosalind Wiseman. The extras elevate Mean Girls from teen comedy to smart social commentary. It's worth viewing for anyone who has a teen girl…or is one. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 5:58 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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D&D and Poker: Not So Different

Check out this article: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1538649,00.html

Why the parental aiding and abetting? It's not just that poker in the home keeps kids off the unpredictable streets. Many parents are saying that their kids get real-life lessons from playing poker with one another. Keeping track of the odds and the cards can help sharpen math skills without the kids even knowing it. And perhaps more important for teenage boys, who studies show lag in the development of their emotional intelligence, poker provides personal interaction. The game's central task--reading faces and psyching out opponents--can boost their EQ in ways that many other typical teenage activities do not. "As long as the money doesn't get out of hand, I think it's positive," says Renee. "They're building friendships. And I think it's teaching them some skills too."

Many experts agree with her. In their classic 1944 book, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern built a mathematical model of economic and social organization--creating the foundations of modern game theory--by studying strategy games like poker. Poker is like life, the argument goes, a battlefield where the players constantly try to assess risks and guess one another's next moves. More recently, Anthony Cabot, a leading gaming-law attorney who represents online and casino operators, co-authored a paper for the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review linking poker to other games in history, like jousting, that have motivated young men to increase their combat skills. He wrote that even Islam, which prohibits gambling, has made exceptions for betting on horse races as a way to spur, as it were, youths to become better horsemen and warriors. Some educators leverage the game's current popularity to sneak in their lessons. Emory University math professor Ronald Gould, for example, teaches his freshmen students basic concepts of probability using five-card stud, or for more challenging computations, a seven-card game like Texas Hold 'Em.


Sound like any games we know?

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The Senator's Seal - Part 2: The Fabric Merchant

“Has anyone been by who smells like cattle?” asked Vlad.

“I am not sure,” said Aljandros. The merchant rolled out a variety of furry-looking rugs. "Touch, see? Feel the softness."

Dril sighed. “Fine. I will buy a rug, merchant, and I expect it delivered quickly.”

"Oh yes, yes!" Aljandros said excitedly. "I give you great rug. It keep you warm at night!" He began rifling through a pile of furs and cloth.

"Stop encouraging him," said Ilmarė. "You'll have us all buying rugs by the time he's done." [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:40 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Saturday, October 21

DVD Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Overall, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a serviceable slasher flick. Unfortunately, in a world where the slasher is a Hollywood icon, TCM has nothing new to add and thus ends up recycling and dumbing down the tropes it first established. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:31 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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New Review: The Adventure Begins

Karl Hayden gave Dungeon Crawl Classics: The Adventure Begins a five-star review at RPGNow.com:

Lots and lots of cool starting adventures. I was very happy with this purchase. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:50 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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New Review: Blood & Blades

Chris Gath gave Blood & Blades: The Profiler's Guide to Slashers a three-star review at RPGNow.com:

This book offers a nice coll3ections of slashers for people to use. Many of the ideas here are familiar from popular slasher movies and the pictures are also reminiscing of that style. The book does have the advantage of being basically the only book that covers slashers. The closest I can think of is a PDF that covers serial killers specifically, but that is a write up of specific NPCs and not a how to kit like this is. The two books can really be used well together though. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:46 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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New Review: Blood & Spooks

Chris Gath gave Blood & Spooks: The Ghost Hunter's Guide a three-star review at RPGNow.com:

Blood and Spooks do a nice job of presenting ghost hunters. These are more then just the Ghostbusters, the book offers plenty of new types of characters that would investigate and be involved with ghosts. One strength of the product will be combining it with Blood and Brains for a nice mix of Zombies of Ghosts for the players to have to handle. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:38 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Tuesday, October 17

The Senator's Seal - Part 1: Senatorial Meeting


“I don’t know the name of the farmer,” said Okpara. “But the merchant is named Aljandros. A strange fellow, he’s very fond of rugs.”

Ilmarė started. “No, it can’t be.”

“What?” asked Dril.

“Let’s just say Kham may be a customer of this merchant,” said Ilmarė. [MORE]

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Friday, October 13

The Senator's Seal - Prologue

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to wear that armor in public?” asked Vlad. “Isn’t that the symbol of the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign?”

“This, from the Milandisian who wears painted over Nierite armor?”

Vlad coughed. “Point taken.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 11:31 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Thursday, October 12

Pyramid Article: Best Served Cold

With the preponderance of raise dead and resurrection spells in most d20 System fantasy campaigns, death is a temporary obstacle at best. The implications of a society where death isn't permanent leads to the question: What's the first thing you do after you die?

Kill the one who killed you, of course.

The urge to get revenge on someone or something comes naturally to characters. After all, they entered a violent situation and probably died violently. But the world becomes a much more dangerous place when arch-villains, intelligent monsters, and even common NPCs all decided to get revenge on the player characters. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:22 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Pyramid Article: Mudslide!

Combat on mountains is an all too common occurrence. Add in the preponderance of fire-spells and transmute rock to mud and you have a recipe for disaster. Enter a nature's murky villain, the mudslide, also known as a lahar. Not quite mud, not quite rock, lahars are a deadly combination of water and earth, with the worst traits of both. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 12:19 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, October 9

Chapter 15: The Senator’s Seal

This adventure is soft point 2 in Year 2 of the tournament module, "The Senator’s Seal," written by Michael S. Webster and Team Paradigm, 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:

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.

I knew the short adventure wouldn’t be enough to fill out the evening, so I decided to use The Senator’s Seal. This is a tough adventure for our group…lots of problem solving, not nearly as much combat. It worked nicely as a bookend to Holiday in the Sun though, which was all action, no problem solving.

This adventure is actually all just a set up for another adventure, so I didn’t mind it. Unfortunately, this is another adventure that goes horribly awry…our heroes don’t do so well this time around. It’s my fault too—I played at a higher Average Party Level (APL 6) when the party was actually APL 4. Even then, Jaleon was down to 10 hit points in the last fight before he got away.

The players are about to read what happened when they were helpless and unconscious. Lesson learned: Grand Coryan may look prettier than Freeport, but that doesn’t make it a nicer place.

P.S. Vlad recently learned the Blind Fight feat. See if you can tell. [MORE]

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Friday, October 6

Alien Invasion: The Book They Didn’t Want You to See

The book they didn’t want you to see.

http://www.rpgobjects.com/index.php?page=pro&product_id=268

Yesterday, Chris Davis of RPGObjects received a first class package from David Jarvis containing the final Alien Invasion PDF. It contains bonus material, such as an actual Ground Zero radio broadcast dealing with an alien landing in Russia. Also included in the .zip file are the high resolution government installation maps for you to print out if you like. The PDF clocks in at 138 pages and includes a bunch of actual Majestic 12 documents at the back of the PDF.

David hasn’t been heard from since. He indicated he was still being followed and was suffering attacks by Men in Black. His wife has disappeared and he is hell bent on finding her. I wish him luck.

As Chris was looking through the pdf, he noticed something odd about the layout. It contains graphics that weren’t in the original layout. Normally we wouldn’t think twice about it, but they aren’t in every page. At the back, there is a cryptic poem with two words in bold. We're wondering if there is some kind of coded message in the document. In the interest of learning more about a message David might have left for us, RPGObjects is holding a contest.

The first five people to decipher this apparent hidden message will win a free product of their choosing from either Reality Deviant Publications’ catalogue, or RPGObjects’ catalogue. Email answers to webmaster@rpgobjects.com.

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posted by Michael Tresca at 4:12 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Thursday, October 5

Holiday in the Sun - Conclusion

“I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection before,” said Dril. “The aranea whispered something which might have been addressed to me…or maybe it was just muttering to itself.”

“Whispered what?”

Dril didn’t respond.

“Dril?” asked Ilmarė, losing patience. “What did it say?”

When Dril finally responded, his gaze was unfocused, his features cold. “It said:

“Have you seen the Yellow Sign?”
“Have you seen the Yellow Sign?”
“Have you seen the Yellow Sign?” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:19 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Tuesday, October 3

DVD Review: High Crimes

LESSER CHARGES: Unbelievable plot points (a civilian lawyer defending her military husband?), choppy editing (what does the break-in have to do with anything?), cheesy music that telegraphs When Bad Things Are About to Happen (TM), characters that appear out of nowhere and then disappear until conveniently needed, and really stupid terror tactics by the shadowy bad guys.

Your honor, I find High Crimes guilty of all of the above charges and recommend both Judd and Freeman be given better acting opportunities, Yuri Zelster and Grace Cary Bickley sent to writing school, and director Carl Franklin sentenced to acting in the Alf Christmas Special…again. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:11 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Monday, October 2

Holiday in the Sun - Part 5: Bedlam Hour

“Give us the rat,” said the scruffy-looking leader, “and we’ll let you live.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Ilmarė.

“Look,” said Dril. He lowered Lucius to the ground. “We went through a lot of trouble to get this rat. We’re not giving it up without a fight.”

The man spat. “Stupid Altherians. You think you know everything, don’t you? Well, this here is Scurvytown, and you’re on our turf. That rat’s worth a fortune and we plan to collect.”

Dril drew both of his blades with a SHING! Vlad shrugged and let the rat drop the ground. It squeaked as it hit the cobblestone. Ilmarė put her fists on her hips.

The thugs drew their scimitars. Vlad drew his sword and unbuckled his shield.

“Let’s make this quick,” said Vlad. “The alcohol is starting to wear off.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:03 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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