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Monday, April 30

Dun Update

Beckem, perched in his surveillance van, chuckled over the comm. link to Threaver. “You called it. I owe you twenty bucks.”

“Barry said he sent it to a reporter,” said Threaver. “And no reporter I know could sit still without oozing out of the rock he’s been festering under to break a story. But the credit goes to you: bug in the plaque? Sheer genius.”

“Why thank you. Now before you ask me out on a date, what do you want me to do with this Oliver guy?”

“Stay on him. If he’s got a lead, then he may be our best bet of tracking down Naotalba.”

“Whatever crap he was spouting about Mormons must have made sense to him,” said Beckem. “He tore off out of here like a bat out of hell.”

“Man, remember when that song came out? Back when media was simple?”

“And didn’t force you to kill your girlfriend? What about the kid?”

Brandon stared down at the plaque with a sigh. To Brandon it was just a strange little globe that hung in a gyroscope of sorts, bouncing and moving whenever it was jostled. In reality, it was the surveillance device Beckem used to keep tabs on him. It looked like Brandon was looking right at the screen.

“Howe?” The video from the feed in the plaque was covered as Brandon picked up the plaque and put it in a box. It was the last thing he packed.

A slow smile crept over his lips as he thought of someone. It must have been someone special. Beckem was struck by a pang of jealousy.

“Ah, to be young and in love,” Beckem said to himself.

“Still watching the video tape huh?” crackled Threaver’s voice, snapping him out of it.

“Nah.” Brandon closed the box. The sound of packing tape came next. Beckem shut down the camera. “With the reality show coming up, those two kids are going to have far more privacy than anyone can handle. What say we give them some alone time?”

“Agreed,” said Threaver. “We could all use a little less media.”


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Sunday, April 29

Dun Update

I've resumed writing as I close in on the home stretch of my novel. It's time to wrap up some loose ends. Barry let Agent Threaver know about his conspiracy theory as well as "a reporter friend in Washington." We get to meet that friend here.

And we also get to find out what exactly happened to Brandon and Amanda. I keep trying to let them lead a happy life but unfortunately circumstances just won't let me...

There was a knock at the door. Brandon ignored it.

“I know, ‘Manda, I won’t forget. I’m just about packed up.”

“Did you remember Bob’s medication?”

Bob had a digestive problem that required him to take an oral steroid. Fortunately, Bob developed the condition while he was with the nice people who boarded him. It was just a matter of giving the stubborn cat his medication every other day.

Emphasis on stubborn.

“Yeah. Not that he’ll take it.”

“You may have to force it down his throat,” said Amanda.

There was more banging on the door, a little angrier this time.

“Is there someone knocking at your door?”

“Yeah, I’m…” Brandon held the phone away from him and peered through the peephole. “Oh Jesus, it’s the press again.”

“Again? Aren’t they done with you?”

“Are they done with you?”

“Probably never.” Sighed Amanda.

“GO AWAY!” Brandon shouted at the door.

“Ow,” Amanda muttered from far away – she had yanked the phone away from her ear. “That was in my ear.”

“Sorry.”

“Mr. Howe? I’d like to speak with you if you have a moment.”

“God damn it,” muttered Brandon. “Look, I have to go. It’s probably some legal form or something I have to fill out that signs the rest of my life over to them or something…”

“Fine, fine. Call me when you get on the road please.”

“Will do baby. Love you.”

“Love you too. Kiss Bob for me, he’s going to need those drugs once you put him in the car.”

“The way today is going, I may take some myself.” He hung up and promptly opened the door.



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Appendix Z: Weaknesses of the Flesh

My latest D20 Pyramid article goes to great pains to give you some great pains.

Your character just suffered a terrible blow; he has suffered an Ability Drain, a permanent loss of 1 or more ability score points. This can range from sapping the character's Intelligence to withering his Strength. The end result is the same: that character will never be as powerful as he once was. After all, Hit Points can be healed, even Ability Damage eventually returns. But Ability Drain is permanent. Right?

Wrong. A 4th-level paladin and cleric spell, restoration, restores all points permanently drained from a single ability score. If you use the NPC spell casting rules, a 7th-level cleric casting the spell costs 290 gold pieces (spell level (4) × caster level (7) = 280) + (10% of material component cost (100/10) = 10) = 290 gold pieces.

For just under 300 gold pieces, the loss of 18 points of Strength can be easily restored. With all that healing at a character's fingertips, fear of life and limb are significantly reduced. What's a GM to do?

One way to make the ruinous effects of combat more painful for characters is to make Ability Drain only healable through a regenerate spell. On the other hand, players might become frustrated with the inability to remove the penalties, and understandably so; the loss of 2 points in an ability can affect skills, combat, and saving throws. Consider the loss of two Dexterity points. Nine skills suffer a -1 penalty (Balance, Escape Artist, . . . [MORE]

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Thursday, April 26

Adventus Regis - Part 14: To the Arena

As they rode along the western road out of the hills, there was a scream of terror. It came from above, out of the inky night sky.

Ilmarė pointed upwards. “There!”

Emric flew through the air, flailing frantically. He cried out for help.

But then it became clear that he was not moving of his own accord. He was being carried. [MORE]

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Saturday, April 21

Adventus Regis - Part 13b: The Screams Become Silence

Ilmarė arrived at Ravulus first. The villa was ransacked.

She climbed two steps at a time to the second floor, to their rooms. The Elorii caught a glimpse of someone hacking down a door.

BLAM!

Ilmarė knew the telltale sound. It was the sound of one of Kham’s pistols firing. [MORE]

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Thursday, April 19

Paizo Publishing to Cease Publication of DRAGON and DUNGEON

Paizo Publishing and Wizards of the Coast today announced the conclusion of Paizo’s license to produce DRAGON and DUNGEON magazines effective September 2007. Publication of DRAGON and DUNGEON will cease with issues number 359 and 150, respectively. [MORE]

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RIP Tom Moldavy

We just finished playing an updated version of Castle Amber, by Tom Moldavy. Little did we know that Tom just passed away recently.

Tom Moldvay, 58 passed peacefully into his next adventure on March 8th 2007 . Tom was a game designer and author most notable for his work on early materials for the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). As an employee of TSR, Inc., he authored or co-authored many landmark D&D adventure modules. During the early 80’s when home computers were not prevalent, Tom was creating thought provoking games that stirred the imagination and were played by thousands of enthusiasts across the country. The Classic Rulebooks and Player’s Handbooks written by Tom had been in print for several years and played so intensely that many gamers had them practically memorized. Odds were that if you’d played a published adventure, most likely you were a fan of Tom Moldvay. Most of those early modules achieved classic status, some of them being collected and reprinted again and again in the years that followed.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Tom graduated from Mayfield High School and went on to receive his Masters degree in Anthropology from Kent State University.

Preceded in death by parents Thomas and Selma Moldvay and sister Jody Brown.

Tom is survived by his sister, Rebecca (David) Welner of Akron, nieces and nephews, Lauren Welner, Dave Welner, and Kurt Brown Jr.

Toms wishes were to be cremated without a formal service.

Rest in Peace, Tom. Your adventure gave us hours of enjoyment.

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Tuesday, April 17

Adventus Regis - Part 13a: The Screams Become Silence

“Will he survive?” asked the woman of the house.

Cal was a blackened shell of himself. His scales were scarred and flaking. The great chest rose and fell in slow, shuddering gasps.

“He’ll live,” said Bijoux. “Onara heals her children.”

“He does this all the time,” said Ilmarė. [MORE]

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Monday, April 16

Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic

This comic is rfie with in-jokes about D&D and more than its share of nudity. But mostly in-jokes.

This comic does it right. It's got the look and feel of a Disney comic, the sensibilities of a bunch of guys gaming around a table, plenty of humor mixed with enough drama to keep people interested...and drow chicks. To keep the men interested.

It's hilarious! http://yafgc.shipsinker.com

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Sunday, April 15

DVD Review: The Prestige

The twists and turns in the film aren't too hard to follow; astute viewers will pick up on the secrets behind both magicians' acts. What's really terrifying is the little sins that magicians commit in performing their illusions. What happens to all cute those bunnies and pigeons that disappear? You don't want to know. [MORE]

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Saturday, April 14

Adventus Regis - Part 12: Give Us Your Children!

The big lizard turned, but it was too late. The man threw himself onto the cart. In seconds, it would explode.

There were pleas from the people inside. The cries of children.

Cal bellowed an ear-splitting roar, louder than the screams and the crackling of the flames. His earflaps stood straight up.

“Not him too!” said Sebastian. “If we lose Cal…”

“Cal has not gone crazy,” said Bijoux. She watched with careful interest. “He’s just angry.”

Cal seemed to puff up another full foot. His claws extended as he pounded towards the smoldering wagon. With a mighty heave, the Ss’ressen grabbed the front of the wagon and lifted it over his head. He spun, his dilated eyes scanning the terrain for a place where it would be safe to throw it.

“No,” said Beldin through gritted teeth. “He’ll never get away in time!”

“I don’t think he plans to get away,” said Ilmarė. [MORE]

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Wednesday, April 11

DVD Review: Superman Returns

Superman Returns has its moments, and if you squint your eyes it almost feels like the magic from the first movie has been captured. But then it's gone and the movie drags, and drags, and drags. Superman has been co-opted to be a Christ-like father-son parable and on the way Bryan Singer forgot what made the first Superman movie so great: it was FUN! [MORE]

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Tuesday, April 10

Adventus Regis - Part 11: He is Here!

They were almost clear of the street when a screaming man rushed out in front of them.

Cal advanced, but Ilmarė put out one hand to stop him.

The man was naked and covered in cuts and gashes. Blood ran off of him and a layer of broken glass clung to his flesh.

Bijoux stepped forward. “Are you…” she spotted a bed of broken bottles, carefully prepared, covered in blood. Beside the pile was the man’s carefully folded toga and discarded sandals. “Hurt?”

The man ran away, screaming, “He is here! He is here!”

Bijoux crouched to pursue.

Ilmarė grabbed her wrist. “Let him go.”

“But he will die,” Bijoux said, her slitted pupils focused on the man’s retreating back as he zigzagged through the street.

“He’s dead already,” said Ilmarė. “We need to focus on the living.” [MORE]

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DVD Review: RV

In short, the Monroe struggles are the new struggles of the middle class. Sure, Clark Griswold didn't have these problems, but then the National Lampoon movies were made decades ago. RV brings it all up to date with one difference: unlike Cousin Eddie and his brood, the country folk are actually the wiser and more decent family. We could learn a lot from their home values, preaches Brother Sonnenfeld. Maybe he's right. [MORE]

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Friday, April 6

Adventus Regis - Part 10: We Have Seen Him!

Fleshripper’s whisper was a pounding, insistent command in his head.

“The war between the masked men and the naked shall be perpetual and bloody!” it said. “Kill them all!”

Kham cut them down like wheat before a sickle.

“Yhtill.”

A former guard stumbled backwards, his small gladius useless against Fleshripper’s superior reach.

“Yhtill!”

A barmaid fell, gurgling from her slit throat.

“YHTILL!” [MORE]

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Monday, April 2

Adventus Regis - Part 9: Hope is Lost!

The Val was shuddering with rage. His lenses were off, such that they could see the whites that served as his pupils.

A well-dressed man stood on the edge of a nearby rooftop. “All hope is lost!” he screamed. Then he leaped to his death, crashing through a cart full of grapes.

The spectacle caused Kham to shriek at the top of his lungs. Then he turned and ran further into Vestalanium.

“We’d better catch him,” said Beldin, “before he kills again.”

“Where is he headed?” asked Bijoux.

Sebastian's features were a grim mask of determination. “Ravulus. We’ve got to get to the villa before he does.” [MORE]

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Sunday, April 1

Dun Update

This is actually a scene I went back and inserted prior to the guy jumping out the window. It's no fun if we don't get to show the insanity up close and personal!
Kurt craned his neck to look at the screens. A black-and-white movie flickered. “What the…hell…” he trailed off, intently focused as the screen turned yellow.

Someone screamed in the distance. It was far away, and it wasn’t quite a scream; more like hysterical laughter.

“I heard this story once,” said Kurt, never taking his eyes from the screen. “About a hotshot lawyer who was trying to show off how cool he was to the pretty interns. He was proving that you couldn’t jump out windows because the glass was shatterproof.”

“Uh huh,” said Julie.

The whirring of a pencil sharpener cut through Kurt’s thoughts. Julie was sharpening pencils. Kurt thought about smashing her head to a bloody pulp, but he had more important things to do.

“What are you doing?”

“My eyes are itchy.”

“Oh. Anyway. I heard this story once. So this guy, he runs up to the window and jumps, but he bounces off. The interns squeal. And the guy says that’s nothing. And he takes a step back and does it again. Boom. He bounces off the window. The girls are like, stop doing that or you’re going to hurt yourself, we’re twenty stories up. And he’s like nah, it’s safe, see? And he runs towards the window and guess what happened?”

“Will you shut up?” shouted Julie, trying to be heard over the din of screams, shouts, and howls of agony. Two sharpened pencils were in her fists. “I’m trying to concentrate here!”

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RPG Review: Tatters of the King

TOK is an excellent series of adventures, marred occasionally by the usual Cthulhu foils: assuming investigators will be naive or helpless (these days, most investigators carry guns and in my D&D game, they carry really heavy firepower in the form of spells), spending way too much time on overland travel, and an overemphasis on how PCs can avoid going insane by closing their eyes…a decidedly unheroic thing to do that shouldn't work anyway.

But when TOK hits its mark, it really makes for memorable sessions. The moral quandaries that the PCs regularly faced made for exciting play, and the fever pitch of the Dark Young showdown is magnificent…unfortunately it has very little to do with the main plot (it's essentially internecine squabbling with a completely unrelated cult).

There are plenty of notes and props, all of them useful. Especially intriguing are the nightmares that the PCs experience and the means of conveying the King in Yellow's telepathy (it involves cue cards). All of this made for evocative scenes that kept my PCs guessing.

Best of all, TOK plays for keeps. While the sacrifice of two PCs was a serious blow, it FELT like the conclusion to a series. And given the grand tour of Hastur and his ilk, we all appreciated the ending. [MORE]

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