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Monday, December 31

DVD Review: Apocalypto

Did I mention that this entire movie is subtitled? The movie's so enthralling that you stop noticing it a few seconds in. Apocalypto's that good. Sure, it's a blood-drenched action thriller in another language. But what did you expect from Mel Gibson? [MORE]

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Book Review: Cold Print

Campbell's style of Lovecraft is breathtaking. He improves on Lovecraft's purple prose, with characters that react a bit more modern (understandable, given that Campbell's more recent) and yet retains the alien and strange nature of encounters with the Mythos. Almost unilaterally, his protagonists have difficulty thinking clearly; they are lonely outcasts who all suffer from headaches, migraines, bizarre hallucinations, and strained relationships. The monsters, when they appear, are more forces of nature than entities. When there are two or more protagonists together, one of them inevitably succumbs to the dark lure of the unknown. [MORE]

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Terror in Freeport - Part 8a: The Serpent’s Nest

There was a bang. Ilmarė could hear a muffled, familiar voice on the other side of the door. She opened it.

Out spilled Beldin and Vlad. They blinked up at Ilmarė.

“Ilmarė!” said Vlad with a smile. His armor was rent in several places. It looked as if the Milandisian had been dumped into a meat grinder.

Bijoux and Sebastian dragged out the mangled form of Calactyte. Kham sauntered out behind them.

“What happened to you?”

“Remember the crushing machine that Ambrose designed for the Brother of the Yellow Sign?” asked Beldin.

Ilmarė nodded.

Beldin dusted himself off. “Now we know how it works.” [MORE]

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Sunday, December 30

Welcome to the Show: Part 2d – Sebastian’s Story

"That bag. That's my brother's bag. I will pay you for it.”

The leader sneered. "What do you have that I can not take from you?”

"I have money. I will pay." Sebastian started speaking quickly and his Arabic broke down. He switched to English. "I am an American. My death would bring unwanted attention...”

The leader cuffed him across the face. When Sebastian went down, he could feel the man's spit in his hair. "You're right. We will not kill you."

He ordered one of his men over and they rifled through his pockets, found his wallet, and took it. Sebastian was on his knees. He couldn't see anything but sand. A moment later Michael's bag landed next to him. [MORE]

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Saturday, December 29

Terror in Freeport - Part 7b: Rocks and a Hard Place

As if on cue, the floor began to tip and the hinged wall hung partially open. Beyond the hinged wall were two grinding cylinders, mechanically pounding up and down.

“Everyone!” shouted Beldin. “Grab hold of something!” He lifted his axe high overhead and then slammed it into the floor. The floor of the crushing machine was no match for Elabac’s superior craftsmanship. The blade bit deeply and held.

Vlad did the same with Grungronazharr, which pierced the metal like butter. Kham speared the ground with Fleshripper. Cal and Bijoux dug in with their claws.

Rock heaps started to slide downward into the crushers. They were pounded into dust.

“I see something!” shouted Sebastian. He could make out a small opening where a man’s silhouette stood in front of a lever. He pointed his palms forward. “Fuco aspergo!”

The coruscating cone of light struck the opening. The figure slumped forward, but the machinery continued to grind away.

The floor tipped to a 45-degree angle. Rocks slammed into Sebastian. He plunged into the void towards the crushers…and then stopped as his forked tail wrapped around Kham’s leg.

“So that’s why you always wear those robes!” shouted Kham. “You have a forked tail!”

“Now is really not the time!” Sebastian shouted back. [MORE]

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Friday, December 28

Welcome to the Show: Part 2c – Sebastian’s Story

Napata lay some two hundred miles to the north across the Bayuda Desert from Khartoum. It was an all-day drive in the heat and dust, following tracks in the sand through open desert and brush, black boulders and termite mounds.

It was hellishly hot. Sebastian hired a Toyota Hilux pick-up, known to the locals as boksi. It cost a little more than lorries or buses and was not a great deal more comfortable. Nobody wanted to go to Napata.

The car swerved to avoid something in the road. Sebastian leaned out of the pick-up to get a better look.

It was a corpse.

It was clear they were driving through the site of some sort of battle. From the looks of it, the man had been killed by a single gunshot to the head.

The driver kept driving, oblivious or uncaring about the state of a dead man on the road. The conflict in Darfur had brought out the best and worst survival instincts in the Sudanese.

About seventy-five yards from the road was the bloated body of a camel. A short distance away from the camel was a scattered pile of dark blue, tattered rags. The camel was saddled with a very ornately worked leather riding saddle, with faded tassels and silver trim.

"Shame," said the driver in Arabic. "Perfectly good camel.” [MORE]

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Thursday, December 27

Terror in Freeport - Part 7a: Rocks and a Hard Place

“These are rocks,” said Beldin. They were piled up around the edges of the room, though a few boulders were lying loose on the floor.

Bijoux sniffed the air. “The air smells strange.”

“Chalk dust,” said Cal, sniffing beside her.

Beldin spun on his heel. “That’s the same dust from these rocks!”

Then the door slammed shut behind them.

Sebastian whirled. “Egil, if this is a trap so help me…” but Egil was nowhere to be found.

The room began to shake. The roar of machinery boomed all around them.

“What the hell is that?” asked Kham.

“I think I know what device Ambrose was building for the Brotherhood,” said Beldin. “The records said Verlaine diversified his holdings…”

“Into masonry,” said Sebastian. “Which is what we’re about to become if we don’t get out of here fast. Everyone spread out! Find an exit!” [MORE]

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Wednesday, December 26

Welcome to the Show: Part 2b – Sebastian’s Story

Sebastian chuckled in spite of the seriousness of his mission. "I'm looking for this man." He showed her a picture. "Or any information you might have on the city he was investigating, Napata.”

"No, I don't remember your friend, but I may have something about Napata..." She led Sebastian back into her office, which were actually rows upon rows of file cabinets. If there was a place that Mona sat, Sebastian couldn't see it. "Your brother, I'm guessing?”

Sebastian tried to conceal his surprise. "How did you know?”

Mona flashed a sly smile. "There is a resemblance." Her fingers expertly flipped through file after file of newspaper clippings. "The reason I remember this article at all is that it was written by my dearly departed friend, Rashid Gulsham...ah, here it is!”

Mona pulled the article and scanned it. "This was published on April 8, 1968. Four members of a visiting archaeological team were found dead, with one survivor. They were exploring Tell El-Napata." She tutted. "Another man died about three kilometers east of Karima. He got lost, apparently. A shame.”

"May I have a copy of that article?”

"Certainly," said Mona. Sebastian reached into his pockets but she waved him off. "Please, take it with my blessing. I hope you find your brother. No one ever found my poor Rashid.”

Sebastian hesitated at the door. "What happened to him?”

"He was...killed." The corner of her lips pulled tightly as she carefully avoided implying that the same fate might have happened to Sebastian's brother. "During a rebel uprising while covering a story in southern Sudan.” [MORE]

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Monday, December 24

Terror in Freeport - Part 6b: The Shakedown

They were in a damp, dripping tunnel with a narrow walkway on either side and a river of effluvia oozing down the middle. The walkways were enough for single file.

Cal cocked his head. “We are not alone,” he said.

Bijoux pointed at claws marks on the walkways. “The ssanu are down here.”

At the edge of the Merchant District, an iron grating blocked the passage. It was cemented in place.

“Stand back,” said Cal, flexing his claws. “I’ll open it.”

“No need.” Bijoux walked over to the bars and with a firm yank, removed them.

“You’re stronger than I thought,” said Cal.

Bijoux dusted her hands. She didn’t bother to point out that the bars had been sawed through in the middle and then replaced. [MORE]

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Sunday, December 23

Welcome to the Show: Part 2a – Sebastian’s Story

"Mr. Creed?" asked a deep, pleasant baritone.

"Yeah?”

"Mr. Creed, you don't know me...”

"Do you have any idea what time it is?”

The voice hesitated. "What time is it there?”

"Midnight.”

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's only ten o'clock here in Culver City. The only reason I'm calling you at this hour is because it's about your brother.”

Sebastian sat bolt upright in his bed. "You've heard from him? He's alive?”

The voice was uninterrupted. "When was the last time you saw Michael Creed?”

Sebastian rubbed his eyes with one fist, trying to clear the sleep. "He was leaving to do humanitarian work in Darfur.”

"Is that what he told you?” [MORE]

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Saturday, December 22

Terror in Freeport - Part 6a: The Shakedown

Six guardsmen led by a captain were approaching.

“This day just keeps getting better and better,” said Sebastian. “What seems to be the problem?”

“Your presence is requested at the Courts by Chief Councilor Verlaine in connection with your unlawful entry into a restricted area!”

“He’s right,” Kham said nonchalantly. “We did do that.” His hands inched towards the folds of his jacket.

“You are also charged with impersonating an officer,” said the guard captain. One hand was on the hilt of his sword. “Now will you come peacefully or do we have to use force?”

Kham’s pistols were out in an instant, pointed at the guard captain’s chest. BLAM! BLAM!

The captain fell backwards in a red and black spray of blood and smoke. His hand reached for his sword, but Kham had two more pistols out in the blink of an eye.

BLAM! BLAM!

Everyone froze in shock. Then Cal, Beldin, and Vlad drew their weapons, just in time to face off against the angry guardsmen. Bijoux leaped back and swung her sling overhead.

“What did you do that for?” shouted Sebastian. He pointed his palms towards the guards. “You just shot a Captain of the Guard!”

“Relax,” said Kham. “They’re just more of Verlaine’s thugs.” He returned the two pistols to their holsters and drew two more. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” [MORE]

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Friday, December 21

Part 1e – Kurt and Jim’s Story

"I belong to an organization dedicated to dealing with these…anomalies you experienced."

"Anomalies?" asked Baxter. "There were dozens of witnesses!"

"According to the papers that was a terrorist attack by the Irish Nationalist Republic," said Coffey calmly. He fished a newspaper clipping out of the folder he was holding his hands and placed it on Baxter's chest. "You can read it when we're finished here."

"A cover up," said Grange.

"I didn't say that," replied Coffey. "If you wish to learn more, I will be happy to recruit both of you into a new organization, an organization of the highest level of secrecy. It’s a clandestine taskforce that deals with the elimination and obscuration of preternatural phenomena that pose a threat to our citizens and their country."

"And if we decline?" asked Baxter.

"Then we'll up your dosage, you will fall asleep, and in another day you will wake up with no knowledge of this event except perhaps a hazy dream of some fellow that doesn't exist."

"Why don't I believe we'd wake up?" asked Baxter.

Coffey said nothing. [MORE]

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Thursday, December 20

Terror in Freeport - Part 5: Office of Public Records

“Captain Baldric mentioned that you might have access to records about a certain Councilor.”

“Which one?”

Sebastian lowered his voice. “Verlaine.”

“Aye. I’ve got records on th’ lad.”

“So then can we see them?”

“No.”

Sebastian slid two imperials towards Reed. “How about now?”

“Ye`ve got t' be kiddin' me,” Reed didn’t even look at them. “That`s nay enough t' pay fer a drink.”

Kham plunked down two pieces of metal next to the coins.

Reed squinted. “What’s that supposed to be?”

They were bullets. Reed’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Who do ye think ye be—Verlaine’s thugs?”

BLAM!

“Ye shot me!” Reed fell to the ground, clutching his thigh. “Ye shot me in th’ leg!” [MORE]

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Wednesday, December 19

Welcome to the Show - Part 1d – Kurt and Jim’s Story

Grange handed Young his pistol. He was bleeding from wounds in his right arm and neck, saved only by his bulletproof vest. Young brandished a Desert Eagle in each hand. "Lay down as much cover fire are you can!"

Grange half-dragged Young out the door on the passenger's side. Young blazed away with the pistols as they attempted to leave the cover of the car.

The commando opened fire. Young's body spasmed as a half-dozen gunshots found their target. Grange dropped Young's body and maneuvered to the front of the car for cover.

Baxter was still there. "Back so soon?" He blind-fired several shots over the edge of the car.

"We're pinned down," snarled Grange. He quickly cocked the sub-machinegun. "We've got to get to that Embassy."

Gunfire echoed all around them. The Marine guards, spooked by the ricocheting shots so near the embassy grounds, also opened fire.

"SAS!" shouted one of the commandos. "Hold your fire!"

"Oh now they want us to hold our fire," muttered Baxter. [MORE]

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Tuesday, December 18

Terror in Freeport - Part 4: The Temple of the Unspeakable One

Calactyte lifted his axe overhead. His earflaps fanned outwards; muscles bulged. With a bellow of rage, Cal charged towards the four ssanu.

“What’s wrong with Cal?” asked Sebastian.

“The big lizard don’t like snakes,” said Kham. “Go figure.”

Kham’s usual smirk suddenly faded. With slow precision, he grabbed Fleshripper and lifted it overhead, mimicking Cal’s actions. Then he charged after the cult leader.

“Not Kham too!” shouted Sebastian. “What’s gotten into everybody?” [MORE]

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Monday, December 17

Welcome to the Show: Part 1c – Kurt and Jim’s Story

“Do you believe us now?” asked Grange.

Baxter handed the diplomatic passports and federal law enforcement identification back to Yolanda. “We were told that you were a group of Irish Nationalist Republic terrorists recruited from America.” He rolled his eyes. “Great, another Whitehall wank-fest.”

“Who cut your orders?” asked Yolanda.

“I don’t bloody know,” muttered Baxter. “Why?”

“Does the name PISCES ring a bell?” asked Grange.

“Again with the bell metaphor,” said Young over his shoulder.

Baxter blinked. “Maybe. I’m surprised you know it.”

“What about the Army of the Third Eye?"

"Third Eye?" Baxter looked out at one of the endless farms that dotted Cornwall's roads. "Nutty blokes, they go around trepanning people, something about exposing bugs in the brain to sunlight or something."

"Sounds pretty crazy," said Young with a straight face.

"If the Army is so harmless, why is PISCES targeting them?"

"Targeting them?" asked Baxter. "Whatcha mean?"

Grange turned around from the passenger's seat to face Baxter. "We believe that the members of the Army who were captured are either dead or have been moved to another facility with some anonymous mental deficient left in their place."

"And we believe that a Mr. Cotton is being controlled by one of these brain spiders," added Yolanda.

"What you trying to get at, exactly?" Baxter's tone was icy.

"What I'm trying to get at, Agent Baxter, is that your agency has been infiltrated by a foreign intelligence," said Grange.

"Are you—"

"No, we are not pissing you," said Yolanda.

"Well," said Baxter. "Seems you've got it all figured out, eh? What's next?"

"We're going back to the U. S. Embassy." Grange rummaged through the glove box. "But we might have to make a stop along the way."

"For what?"

Grange handed Baxter back his SIG Sauer. "Because two land rovers are following us." [MORE]

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Sunday, December 16

Terror in Freeport - Part 3: Stonewalling

Inside the former temple, not much had visibly changed. Bijoux was sniffing the ground while Kham kicked up dust.

“How did you two get here so fast?” asked Sebastian.

“Secret entrance around the back,” said Kham.

“I flew in through a hole in the roof,” said Bijoux. “Look here. There are faint footprints and marks on the floor.”

There were pinpoint holes in the dust where toes should be, indicating keenly sharp claws and big, sweeping grooves that could only be made by a tail.

Kham looked down. “And they’re clearly not human.”

“Now what?” asked Vlad.

“Now we go to my favorite place,” said Kham.

“And that is?” asked Sebastian.

Kham walked down the steps out of sight. “The wine cellar.” [MORE]

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Friday, December 14

Welcome to the Show: Part 1b – Kurt and Jim’s Story

Agent Jim Baxter waited patiently inside a land rover outside of the Cullen residence.

“I dunno, mate,” said his companion, Agent Hugh. “This seems like a bunch o’ baby sittin’ tah me.”

“That’s exactly what it is,” said Baxter. “What of it?”

“What’s so special ‘bout this Wade Cullen, anyway?” Hugh held one earphone to his ear. “He’s a wheelchair-bound invalid. He’s not exactly going to run away.”

“It’s orders from The Gods,” smirked Baxter. That was the term they used for MI-5 men with lofty positions in British Intelligence. “And the orders are to catch whatever comes after our important friend here.”

“And just wot’s gonna come after ‘im?”

“Irish Nationalist Republic.” Baxter caught Hugh’s expression. He shrugged. “Ours is not to question why and all that.”

Hugh snorted in disgust. Before he could begin another sarcastic comment, he put up one finger to silence Baxter, even though Baxter wasn’t talking. “The mics are picking up something. They’re whispering in there.”

“People whisper sometimes, ya know.”

“I know that,” muttered Hugh. “But three good-looking Americans walk into this guy’s house? Something’s up.”

Baxter tapped the mic on his headset. “This is Agent Baxter. Rat is in trap. Repeat, rat is in trap.” He listened for a second.

Two men and a woman exited the Cullen residence.

“Well?” Hugh asked impatiently.

“HQ says follow them.”

The three people got into their car.

“Follow ‘em?” Hugh was angry enough to toss his cigarette out the window. “Are you pissing me?” [MORE]

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Thursday, December 13

Terror in Freeport - Part 2: A Shout in the Street

Kham leisurely inserted himself into the crowd. “Hey now, let’s everyone calm down a second.”

The kid ran behind Beldin and cowered.

“Calm down?” asked one of the orcs. He laughed, long and loud. “This be none o’ yer business. If ye know what’s good fer ye, ye’ll stay ou’ o’ ‘t.”

Kham sighed. “You really don’t want to do this.” Vlad and Cal stepped up behind him, weapons drawn.

The messenger took off down the street at a full clip in the opposite direction.

One of the orcs swung at Kham’s head with his axe, but Fleshripper was out in a flash to block the attack.

“This is ridiculous,” said Sebastian. “Fuco aspergo!”

The two orcs to either side of the leader went down hard as Sebastian’s color magic washed over them. Then Kham lunged, and Fleshripper pierced the leader’s shoulder. The orc fell to the ground.

”This is too easy.” Kham pulled back from the melee to look around. “Something’s wrong.” [MORE]

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Wednesday, December 12

Terror in Freeport - Part 1c: The Marquis Moon

“You’re sure you didn’t see anyone go into Devlin’s room?” asked Kham. He was waffling between shooting the man in the face and bribing him with more gold.

Before Ficca could provide another lame excuse, a dwarf staggered over to them. “Hey, Beldin! Congratsh! I heard you were jusht made Elabac’s apprentish!” The dwarf threw one arm around Beldin, who looked less than pleased at the attention.

“Uh, thanks. Do I know you?”

“Oh shure, everybody knowsh you!” said the dwarf, completely misunderstanding Beldin. “I couldn’t help hearin’ you ashkin’ after goingsh-on upstairsh. Could be I know a thing or two.”

Kham was about to say something, but Sebastian interrupted. “I know how to handle dwarves,” he said with a smirk. “Ficca, please refill mister…”

“Rottenjonesh,” said the dwarf. “You can call me Rottenjonesh.”

“Mister Rottenjones’ mug.”

Ficca shrugged and refilled Rottenjones’ mug with something from a pitcher.

“I wash headin’ up to me room one night, maybe a couple o’ weeksh ago, when I bumpsh into a couple of shtrange-lookin’ fellersh leaving that room.”

“Did they say anything?” asked Kham.

“They told me to shod off, is what they shaid. They shaid they wash on official Council business.” Rottenjones rolled his eyes.

Sebastian ordered another mug for the dwarf.

After a long, slow slurp, Rottenjones continued. “I remember shomethin’ elshe now. Took me back to my boyhood, it did. They shmelled like the tunnelsh of Sholanos Mor.”

“Let me guess.” Kham jabbed a thumb in Cal’s direction. “They smelled like him?”

Rottenjones nodded vigorously.

“Hey!” said Cal. [MORE]

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Tuesday, December 11

The Beginning of the End - Chapter 0: Welcome to the Show

This scenario uses Delta Green and Delta Green: Countdown by Pagan Publishing as sources. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!Our cast of characters includes:

After the birth of my son, I took a three-month hiatus from role-playing. During that time, the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons was announced at Gen Con, which made me glad that we decided to go in another direction and this time play a modern conspiracy game. The game is a hybrid uniquely tailored to our tastes: we use d20 Modern rules and the campaign setting is as an unholy combination of the Black Ops GURPS supplement and the Delta Green setting.

This setting follows what seems to be the general consensus on the Internet: the cell style structure of the Delta Green conspiracy would never last in our post 9/11 age. Instead, Delta Green infiltrated Majestic-12, co-opting its resources and broadening its scope to include all “preternatural phenomena.” Enter our heroes.

What’s refreshing about these characters is that they all eminently flawed. Hank was committed to a mental institution, while Jake is divorced from his wife and estranged from his son. Kurt and Jim both lost their partners, and Joe struggles with the flashy glamour of his pimped up paranormal detective agency. I will of course exploit these flaws to their fullest. There are scenario seeds in all these backgrounds that will be much more relevant to the campaign in the future.

In addition to the background fiction, I compressed the training outlined in Black Ops into torturing the PCs with Project Outlook and a danger room style free-for-all that helped warm the players up to getting back into a d20 game after three months. I’ve got a good feeling about this story hour. I hope you’ll join us for the ride!

Relevant Media

[MORE]

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Terror in Freeport - Part 1b: The Marquis Moon

“Seems like the snakes like things neat,” said Kham, looking around the room.

The quarters were small; a single room perhaps twenty feet by twenty feet.

“I get the impression he drew a map of it when he moved in to use every inch efficiently,” said Sebastian.

The walls were invisible, hidden behind bookcases heaped with scrolls and shelves arranged with half-melted ritual candles, leaden icons and a large collection of brightly polished rocks. Staves, canes, and other ornamental trifles filled every alcove and fit snugly against the masonry.

Bijoux sniffed the air. “Incense,” she said. She pointed one claw at the stove in the center of the room.

There was little furniture. No bed, for one thing; the floor near the stove was strewn with thick, tasseled pillows. There was no desk either, although there was a portable writing stand pushed against one of the bookcases. Milos’ clothes were folded neatly and stacked against one wall.

“Spread out,” said Beldin. “Look for anything unusual.”

It didn’t take long. Sebastian held up a book. “I found this behind the shelves.”

The book was titled, “An Accounte of Metalls Base and Pure.” Sebastian handed it to Beldin.

“I’ve read this book before,” said the dwarf. “But it didn’t have this on the back.” He displayed the back cover.

Sketched onto the back page of the book was a full-page drawing of a lighthouse, covered with arcane mathematical formulas; arrows pointed to a number of blocks on the structure. In the margins was a recurring doodle: the letter “V” superimposed on a circle.

“Some of the books have been replaced,” said Bijoux. She ran one claw along the spine of “A Monthe Among the Horse-Rats.” “Some are covered in dust, others are not.”

“I think we need to have another chat with my friend Ficca,” said Kham. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:28 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Friday, December 7

Terror in Freeport - Part 1a: The Marquis Moon

The Marquis Moon was two stories of haphazard brickwork in the Old City. Inside, the mood was subdued.

“You sure this is the place?” asked Vlad.

Kham nodded. “There are better places to eat and sleep in the city, and everybody knows it. But Milos went by the name of Devlin, and I traced the room he rented to here.”

Two drunken dwarves conferred quietly in one corner.

“Oh, hi Kham,” said a scowling fellow behind the desk. “Haven’t seen you here in awhile.” He never bothered to make eye contact, instead preferring to pick at his fingernails with a knife. He seemed to get a leisurely kick out of it.

“Hi Ficca. We need to see Devlin’s room.”

“That’s nice,” said Ficca.

Kham sighed and plunked some coins on the table. Keys flew back at him so fast that he barely snatched them out of the air.

“Great security,” said Vlad as they climbed the steps to Milos’ former room. “No wonder they had snakes living here.” [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 5:08 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Game Review: Halo 3

There's been so many reviews about Halo 3 that there's little new I can contribute here. The campaign is serviceable, but takes itself a little too seriously. Viewing the web site for Halo 3 is unintentionally hilarious, treating the game like a World War II memorial, as if it has that much emotional gravitas. It doesn't; the hinted-at relationship between Master Chief (Steven Downes) and Cortana (Jen Taylor) gets a little silly at times, the stalwart allies die heroically, bad guys become allies and then betray you later, and aliens natter on about setting off the Halo rings and destroying the universe. The talking plant known as the Gravemind (Dee Bradley Baker) doesn't make an appearance, but his voice is ever present. In fact, the game uses the awful method of flashbacks, both from Cortana and Gravemind, to interrupt game play and force the plot down your throat. It gets old fast. The game reaches a rollicking conclusion with a crazy Warthog chase across collapsing platforms that recaptures some of the fun of Halo 2. The ending is predictable but well earned. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 4:36 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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DVD Review: Ghost Rider

Overall, Ghost Rider was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. If you can get on board with the idea of a demonic biker of vengeance working as a bounty hunter for the devil, you won't be disappointed. [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 4:05 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Saturday, December 1

Chapter 21: Terror in Freeport - Introduction

This is the second in the Freeport series of modules, "Terror 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:

· 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.ninjarobotstudios.com)
· Ilmarė Galen (elf bard/fighter) played by Amber Tresca
· Sebastian Arnyal (dark-kin sorcerer) played by George Webster
· Vlad Martell (human fighter) played by Matt Hammer

Ah, Freeport. Freeport’s an adventurer city, ill defined (except that, ya know, it has pirates and cultists) but accepting of everyone, including Calactyte the big ss’ressen lizard and Bijoux the weird flying cat girl. So it’s only natural that those two should make it their home.

More importantly, it’s Kham’s home turf. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstances.

The highlight of this adventure was the death trap. I put the pressure on by using an hourglass, pounding music, and screaming, “NEW ROUND! WHAT DO YOU DO?” Fortunately…well, you’ll see for yourself.

I like this adventure less than the first in the Freeport trilogy, mostly because it has a bit more railroading and gullibility on the part of the PCs. There’s nothing quite like having a plot device lead to a certain death trap, and somewhere in between you track an impostor through a sewer to a temple that just happens to be under the main bad guy’s house. Okay, sure, whatever.

Mostly, this adventure is just a set up for the third adventure in the series. Given how it ends, you really can’t just have the PCs leave town without questioning their sanity. Not that any of them are necessarily sane… [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 10:43 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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