Talien's Tower
Subscribe to Talien's Tower on Facebook, Twitter, email or via the Site Feed

Monday, October 29

Hand of the Master - Part 1b: Wild Geese and Red Herrings

“Long time, no see Jarel. Still smuggling jewels in from Encali?”

Jarel chuckled. “Smuggle is such a strong term. I crafted the jewels; they are mine to give as I please. However, my former brethren in Encali do not appreciate my new friendship with Solanos Mor.”

Beldin seemed unconvinced. “Why are you helping our enclave?”

“Like most in Encali, I once reviled Illiir as the one who cursed the dwarves. However, when I was turned out of Encali for being useless to them, the dwarves of Solanos Mor took me in. They helped me where no others would. I had a revelation.”

Kham rolled his eyes. “If only Quintus were hear to soak this up.” [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 10:49 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Sunday, October 28

Video Review: Baby Einstein - Press & Play Pals - Dragon

This dragon was a disappointment and worse, threatens to drive me utterly mad. MAD I TELL YOU! Insane enough that at one point I confuse Italian with Spanish in the review, sorry about that! [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 5:51 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Video Review: Baby Einstein Discovering Water Rocker Seat

My wife already reviewed this item much more succinctly, but since I love to hear the sound of my own voice, I thought I'd give this video review a shot. Short version: not so great to put together, the accessories pull off too easily, but the MP3 functionality can't be beat! [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 5:49 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Saturday, October 27

Hand of the Master - Part 1a: Wild Geese and Red Herrings

“Jarel’s been assisting Elabac,” said Kham. “He’s been giving some of his enchanted jewels to be set in Elabac’s weapons.”

“Thanks to Jarel’s gems, Elabac’s blades seem to have improved even further,” said Sebastian.

“Wow,” said Vlad.

“Try to pick your jaw up off the ground,” snapped Kham. “Sheesh, you don’t even get that excited about women.” [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 9:37 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Monday, October 22

DVD Review: Vacancy

Vacancy is a particularly disturbing breed of horror. I've been at hotels where someone banged on the door in the middle of the night. I've been at hotels where the people in the next room sound like they're doing something illegal. I've been at hotels where the front desk is behind Plexiglas with cameras everywhere. Vacancy's premise blends the perfect cocktail of emotional and physical isolation with the fact that some hotels are just plain nasty. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 8:43 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

DVD Review: Disturbia

There's a moment in the film where Robert calmly explains how he likes his privacy and why it's so important to him. And that's the moment where the generation gap is drawn in Disturbia: Robert, the silver-haired Boomer, disturbs the younger generation with his need for privacy. Kale, the Generation Y millennial, doesn't comprehend the notion at all. Disturbia is as much a thriller as it is a commentary on a culture clash between two different generations, forced to figure out how to coexist in modern suburbia. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 8:42 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Chapter 20: Hand of the Master - Introduction

This adventure is soft point 5 in Year 2 of the tournament module, "Hand of the Master," written by Jeffrey Witthauer and Jeffrey Meehan, 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:

· Dungeon Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
· Beldin Soulforge (dwarf fighter) played by Joe Lalumia
· Bijoux (fihali druid) played by Melissa Tresca
· Calactyte (ss’ressen barbarian) played by Joe Tresca (http://www.creepyportfolio.com)
· Kham Val’Abebi(val rogue/psychic warrior) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.dreamscupltor.com)
· Sebastian Arnyal (dark-kin sorcerer) played by George Webster
· Vlad Martell (human fighter) played by Matt Hammer

This adventure was an important but short chapter in the evolution of Beldin and Kham. For Beldin, it put him firmly on the adventuring map. I hinted at Beldin’s competition with another dwarf for apprenticeship to Elabac; in this adventure, that competition comes to a head. And of course, Fleshripper is a character in its own right, so it’s only appropriate that the wicked blade evolves right along with Kham.

Poor Kham. The one character that wants to jump around and fight, and he (as Jeremy puts it) carries a ten-pound brick around. Well, it’s not a brick anymore. By the end of the adventure, Fleshripper takes center stage. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 7:45 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Friday, October 19

RPG Media Sighting: The Sarah Silverman Program

Brian and Steve prepare for “D.D.” as it is marked on the calendar. Brian thought D.D. stood for Dungeons & Dragons and already invited some friends over to play. “That doesn’t say D&D idiot, it says D.D., it means day date. You and I were going to take a picnic and go see the Rush concert at the Valley Gardens Amphitheater, remember!?” Eric, Blonde Craig and Generator show up to play as Steve clues in Brian, but it’s too late. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 8:10 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Wednesday, October 17

As Gray and Cold As Stone - Epilogue

Ilmarė patted Roderick on the shoulder. “Good man. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to change out of these clothes.” She exited.

Roderick watched her leave. “You’re a lucky man,” he said to Quintus. “Ilmarė is beautiful, almost as pretty as Elandre. And she’s very wise. I hope one day to have Elandre love me like Ilmarė loves you.”

Quintus blinked. “Legionnaires cannot marry,” he said slowly. “We are married to our legion.”

Roderick gave him a pitying look. “At least you have a choice. You can always quit your legion. I’m going to have to work hard to court Elandre.” He hustled Quintus out of his room. “Anyway, thanks for your advice.”

Once he was in the hallway, Quintus took a long hard look at the statue of Illiir. It was a golden statuette, perhaps six inches tall, depicting Illiir with one hand outstretched in benediction, while the other held the orb of the sun overhead.

He tapped it once. The light went on. The legionnaire of the Triumphant Rays of the Invisible Sun was silhouetted by the statue’s glow.

“At least I have a choice,” he whispered to himself.

Quintus tapped it again. The light went out. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 7:38 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Sunday, October 14

Sails & Sorcery

Joe Martin's short story in the fantasy anthology "Sails & Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy" will be available mid-October. It's available for order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

The book in its entirety is 453 pages. My story is called "Tisarian's Treasure" and the actual byline credit is J.M. Martin. It runs around 25 pages in the book. Two illustrations by renowned fantasy artist Julie Dillon accompany the story. Here's the publisher's web page: http://fantasistent.com/books/anthologies/SAILS.php

You can click the "Table of Contents" link for a full roster of stories and authors.

S&S retails for $23 US.

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 12:14 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Friday, October 12

As Gray and Cold As Stone - Part 10: Conclusion

Elandre received them in her father’s study. She listened carefully to their report, struggling to keep a tight rein on her emotions.

“Thank you again for all your efforts; if I had some inkling of this plot against my father’s life, I believe that you could have saved him as well. I only wish my last words to him had not been so…harsh…” She trailed off, looking at the floor.

“We’ve all taken loved ones for granted sometimes,” said Ilmarė. She shot Quintus a glare. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 11:26 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Thursday, October 11

Vin Diesel on D&D

Just in case you didn't know...Vin Diesel really loves D&D too.

Q: Is it true you're really into Dungeons and Dragons?

VIN: No. I never play D&D. For some reason, they thought that I played D&D for 20 years. They thought that I spent years playing Barbarians, Witchunters, The Arcanum. They thought I played D&D back in the '70s when it's just the basic D&D set. They thought I continued to play D&D when it became Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. They thought I played D&D when there were only three books - the "Player's Handbook," the "Monster's Manual" and the "Dungeon Master's Guide." They thought I played D&D as it continued onto the Unearthed Arcanum, Oriental Adventures, Sea Adventures, Wilderness Adventures. THEY thought I played D&D at the time when "Deities and Demigods" was the brand new book. THEY thought I played D&D when I used to get up to a place called The Complete Strategist in New York.

[Mouths: "I'm into D&D a lot."] [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 2:41 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Stephen Colbert and D&D


View More Colbert Videos

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 2:36 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

As Gray and Cold as Stone - Part 9: Pursuit and Vengeance

“You do realize the odds of us catching the killer at this point are slim,” said Ilmarė.

“Illiir’s vengeance will not be stopped,” said Quintus. “He will give us a sign.”

“Yeah, right,” said Kham. “Now Althares gives signs BEFORE people have their throats cut.”

Suddenly, a burst of light, as bright as Illiir’s own, shone out from behind a nearby hillside.

“There!” shouted Quintus.

The light was quickly doused.

Kham laughed out loud. “The idiot must have accidentally tapped the statue. When you touch it, it lights up.”

“Is there any statue of Illiir that DOESN’T light up?” asked Ilmarė. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 2:35 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Tuesday, October 9

DVD Review: Pathfinder

300 did all of this, from the digitally inserted blood to the culture clash, heroic speeches to demonized villains, only better. By the time stock footage of an avalanche appeared on screen, my hopes for Pathfinder were dashed along with the Vikings on the rocks. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 7:44 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

DVD Review: Shooter

Shooter is very entertaining. There's enough skin, violence, humor and conspiracy theory to keep an audience entertained. The ending may be complete wish fulfillment, but it's extremely satisfying. Those Californians will have plenty of reasons to want to be snipers by the end of this film. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 7:43 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

DVD Review: Borat - Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Borat is rude, crude, and hilarious. But the amount of navel-gazing it created on behalf of the nation due to its supposedly candid look at America is unwarranted. In the tradition of our reality TV culture, Borat is as authentic as...well, reality TV shows. [MORE]

Labels:

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


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Saturday, October 6

DVD Review: Zodiac

Zodiac isn't about wrapping up the film with an easy villain. It's about the price of living in a media-saturated culture where, for three years, the scariest reality show took place not on our televisions but in handful of towns in northern California. [MORE]

Labels:

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


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

DVD Review: Hot Fuzz

Although the interaction between Angel and Butterman are entertaining, Hot Fuzz's pacing is uneven, which is a shame. Pegg and Wright's enthusiasm for the genre is infectious, but in this case they'd be better off renting cop movies than making one. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 9:39 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Friday, October 5

DVD Review: Superman: Doomsday

There's a reckoning, of course: two Supermen battling it out, comparable to the Doomsday fight only with more blood and clever asides. And like the end of the movie, punch for punch, the old Superman (Animated Series) beats the new Superman (Doomsday), hands down. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 8:01 AM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.

Tuesday, October 2

As Gray and Cold As Stone - Part 8b: A Restless Night

“Kham?”

“Oh, hi.” Kham held Fleshripper pointed towards the ground. “Did you two just come out of the same bedroom?”

Quintus didn’t bother to answer. He kicked the door open with his bare foot.

Acastus’ study was dark, but light from the hallway revealed a ransacked mess. Books and papers were strewn everywhere, and bloodstains dotted the floor in several places. The curtains in the window swayed gently in the still night air, but there was otherwise no movement or sign of life.

“Show yourself, intruder!” bellowed Quintus.

Suddenly, a hideous figure leaped out from behind the desk, snarling from its sharp-toothed mouth. It wore a bloodstained toga. A bloody wound still gaped open at its throat. By far its most horrible feature was its face; it leered, pallid skin stretched tightly over the skull, its eyes as gray and cold as stone.

“It’s Acastus!” shouted Kham. [MORE]

Labels:

posted by Michael Tresca at 8:31 PM | 0 comments links to this post


Want more? Please consider contributing to my Patreon; Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar.