Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Anniversary Fortnight Fiesta

We're just cleaning up the cave here at Dice-Chucker Central after the fortnight-long bacchanalia that marked the first anniversary of me clogging up the internet with my vapid, pixelated fumes.  Thanks to all of you who came by to help celebrate.  Mrs. Dice-Chucker was most impressed with all of your behavior and says that you can all come back anytime.  And, though we appreciated the sentiment, despite the presence of vintage DM screens and my Robert Smith haircut, it was not an 80s theme party so whoever brought the Bartles & James and cocaine, we put them out on the back porch; feel free to claim them at any time.  Thanks again to everyone who dropped by this site over the past year.

An actual photo from the event.  That's me holding the flaming punch bowl.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Death Ray Enthusiasts Rejoice!

If, like me, your enthusiasm for death rays knows no bounds, you will want to familiarize yourself with David H. Szondy's Tales of Future Past site which documents all manner of historic death rays.  Sadly, during WWII death ray research was supplanted in favor of a device with a proven track record in mass destruction--atomic weapons--but not before crackpot scientists the world round tried their hand at the genre; most notably Mr. Nikola Tesla.  And to think there was once a time when I thought Tesla was just a band.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Castles & Crusades: Highlights and Lowlights of an RPG

This post was originally going to be titled "Things about C&C that irritate me" but that seemed like an overly negative post for a game that I don't actually hate, so I added a few of the things that aren't sucky down at the bottom.  Which is to say that if the "Things about C&C that are kinda' cool" seem like an afterthought it's because, well, they were. 

Things about C&C that make me cringe: 

Rogues--What exactly are rogue's tools?  A feathered cap to be worn rakishly askew?  A rolled up sock for augmenting your cod piece?  C'mon guys, you brought back illusionists and Glaive-guisarmes but you couldn't find it in you to resuscitate thieves?
SIEGE engine--Why is SIEGE in all caps?  Is it an acronym for something?  An encrypted message? A cry for help?
Prime Attributes--There's already a mechanism in place for determining how well someone does at attribute-based tasks; it's called an attribute score.    
Peter Bradley--The game is thoroughly saturated with Peter B's graphic stylings.  Indeed, C&C rulebooks are a veritable monoculture of half tone heroes captured in spasm-inducing poses, tight trousers, and cumbersome footwear.  In the Bradleyverse, the sun is a dying orb whose cold rays provide a warmth too meager to sustain mirth of any sort. It is a realm where heroes seek out isolated locales to contemplate their unfortunate wardrobe choices and where experience point bonuses are granted for crafting odes to things unworthy of oding.   
Alea Iacta Est--In their eagerness to portray themselves as a buncha' pretentious douchebags, the Troll Lords uncovered an exception to the maxim that anything that sounds cool in English sounds even cooler in Latin.  Say "the die is cast" and "alea iacta est" out loud.  One sounds like something a badass mo'fo might say on the brink of a showdown, but the other is merely a cumbersome mishmash of consonant-deficient syllables the utterance of which will inspire your enemies and friends alike to slap you down, wrench your underpants up to the nape of your neck, and take your lunch money.
Wisdom--It measures your ability to use good judgment, how acute your senses are, how well you resist confusion, spells, and gaze attacks, and it also "represents a spiritual connection to a deity."  You can also stack the dirty dishes in it after dinner until such time as you feel like cleaning them.
Illusionists--Not really C&C's fault, but what's the advantage of a character class that's like a wizard, but has a more limited spell selection? At least the C&C version does not try to pass illusionist off as a prestige class by insisting that they have an excessively high dexterity score.
Overwrought flavor text--"From the maelstrom of war and conflict great warriors arise blah blah blah..." I can imagine the guy who narrates all the movie trailers recording the audiobooks version of the C&C PHB.
Excessive Polearms--Caught following too closely in the footsteps of AD&D, C&C offers us 15 unpronounceable and indiscernible pole-mounted weapons that completely fail to be of interest to anyone who isn't a medieval weaponry fascist.    

Things about C&C that are kinda' cool:

Character Sheets--They're by Darlene!

Ascending AC--I have to admit, C&C was the first place I heard of such a thing--sort of--and I was not repulsed.
Cheap Books--Of course this loses its significance once you've bought them.  In fact, when considering C&C vs. a game for which you had to shell out 40 bones per tome, you might play the pricey one more often just to get your money's worth. 
k.d. lang--Tell me, is the bard on page 114 of the C&C PHB as well as on the cover of the Monsters & Treasure book not inspired by the sapphic songstress ca. 1995? 
Hags--Have you seen these babes in the Monster & Treasure book?  With the exception of the Night Hag--who sports the quintessential warts and cronish hideousness--they all look sort of like that waitress at Hooters that you and your friends stiffed on the tip that one night back in college. 
The Bald Monk--Mr. Miyagi! 
Gnomes--I thought there was something kinda' cool about gnomes.  Maybe not.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Creepy Reading: The Dionaea House

The Dionaea House is like The House of Leaves in internet form; its creepiness will suck you in, but it gives the added perk that you feel like you're actually discovering something horrible all on your very own.  And maybe you are.   Another bonus: you can read this one right now, without leaving your computer, while you're supposed to be paying attention to that boring-ass conference call you're stuck on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holiday Reading

Imagine Thomas Pynchon, working as a sports writer for the Daedalus Journal of Arts and Sciences, is covering a heavyweight bout between M.C. Escher and Jorge Luis Borges.  After quaffing a few cervezas in honor of Borges--who won by KO in the 6th round, though Escher came back in the 11th and busted a chair over his head to force a decision--Pynchon gets lost on the grounds of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado and is never seen again.  Much later, Jon Krakauer finds Pynchon's sprawling report in the restrooms of a long abandoned subway station.  Krakauer submits it to his editor, Will Shortz, who personally sets the type and runs the presses.  If you're still here then check out  House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.