Nov 112011
 

This week I brave the mind twisting horrors of Xoriat, the evil machinations of the Space Witch, the boring schemes of demons, and the sinister plans of an evil book club.

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The Orb of Xoriat (Eberron: War-Torn, #2)The Orb of Xoriat by Edward Bolme

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fantastic book! It fast paced without feeling rushed and the author did a great job with the fight scenes, vivid descriptions without being unnecessarily gory. I liked the main character, he was a little flat at first but the author developed him well. The book does a good job of explaining only as much as the reader would need without getting bogged down in setting details, but there is alot here for an Eberron fan to make this feel like it couldn’t have taken place in another setting. It was a fun action/adventure and I would gladly recommend it.
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This was the second of the Eberron novels that I read,  and it follows up on a short story from Tales of the Last War (The first Eberron novel I read.) It follows Teron, a monk trained for war and little else, trying to prevent the disaster to come if the title relic were to fall into wrong hands while also trying to find his place in a post Last War world. I think it was one of the better book I’ve read this year and I recommend picking it up if you get the chance.

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Hunt the Space-Witch!: Seven Adventures in Time and SpaceHunt the Space-Witch!: Seven Adventures in Time and Space by Robert Silverberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was a little different from what I usually read. I’m not used to the magazine pulp style of Sci-fi stories in the book (as a child of the nineties I’m used to a full length novel). They were interesting tales of adventure and I’d definitively read more from the author if I could find a collection of his stories that were a little more interlinked than the seven in the book.
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It was interesting. I liked the stories that were a little more developed (such as the story that gives this collection it’s name) over the stories that didn’t get a lot of development (like the very first one in the book). I gave it 2 stars because I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t really like large parts of it.

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Here Be Demons (Demons, #1)Here Be Demons by Esther M. Friesner

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I may be being more harsh on this book than I should be, but I didn’t like this one at all. The point of view shifted without warning, the descriptions got really obtuse in places, I wasn’t able to figure out if the plot was trying to be funny or serious or ironically serious or if it just didn’t care. I would not recommend this one.

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This book was slow, none of the characters were likable, and I’m not ashamed to say that I didn’t finish it. I know that it’s sort of a sin to review a book you didn’t complete, but nothing in the first hundred pages led me to believe that the last hundred or so were going to be any better. I’m glad that I only spent $1 on this at half priced books.

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The Library of ShadowsThe Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had an interesting premise, and it was executed well enough, but it didn’t really grab me. It’s a decent enough urban fantasy, with secret societies and magic book reading powers and it has an interesting gimmick that I’ll most likely use in a future game, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to say that it was more than just ok. The characters were well written but the pacing felt slow in more than a few places and the book was a touch on the verbose side. I could go into more detail, but I don’t want to spoil it other to say that, due to the premise of the novel, the resolution was sort of corny in my opinion.
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Spoiler alert: The book is about people who read so awesomely they get super powers from it. Not cool super powers, like in Inkheart, but lame super powers, like “really making someone enjoy hearing you read a book” super powers. For what it was (the classic dismissal) it was alright. I didn’t hate it and the characters were written well, but the premise did not light my fire.

Oct 222011
 

Here continues the adventures of the “Antiquarians” in the employ of Uncle Zevis’ Curios and Antiques

When we last left our intrepid adventurers they had just disccovered a strange artifact within the tomb of the Lady of Plagues and had taken it back to Uncle Zevis for identification. After a bit of research he determined that it was Clat’Mmegoghu, a powerful talisman from the age of demons. Known as the “lord of the least” the talisman would allow anyone strong willed enough to command legions of vermin. It was a part of a set of twelve demonically powered talismans long thought to be legend. Uncle Zevis, seemingly driven by the promise of riches, sends his employees to the Library of Korranberg, where he’s called in an old favor to have them copy a rare divination spell from the personal spellbook of a mad, pre-war wizard.

Being the “thrifty” gnome that he is, Uncle Zevis hired the party out as guards on a caravan traveling to Korranberg. Wouldn’t you know it, a group bandits attacks the very same caravan. The party managed to drive off the bandits wile only loosing two of the wagons.

Making it to korranberg, they quickly discover that the specific book they’re looking for is missing, and has been for some time. Investigating the disappearance the group seems to have uncovered a strange conspiracy within the gnomish underclass. Tracking the clues to the a shuttered tavern, they confront a cell of deranged gnomes, recovering the spellbook just as the city guard surrounded the tavern. After a few hours of questioning the spellbook was returned to the library and the party was able to secure a copy of the spell as payment for uncovering the dastardly conspiracy.

Proud of their success (and finding that the caravan didn’t want the party on the return trip), Uncle Zevis sprang for third class tickets on the Lightning rail for their return trip. That’s when things got interesting.

 

May 032011
 

A couple of weeks back I started running an open Pathfinder game up at the FLGS in my area. (Shout-out: Pulp Fiction) I decided on Eberron because I really like the setting and the way that it can be used to run almost anything on the “Pulp-Noir” spectrum. It has a place for gritty back alley dealings between shady agents of the crown trying to get an informant to talk while at the same time supporting ship raiding sky pirates made of wood, metal & stone and nomadic halflings protecting their lands from the monsters that creep out of the mists and doing it from the back of a razor-clawed dinosaur.

I tend toward enjoying the Pulp end of the spectrum when both playing and running games, so it should come as no surprise that I decided to take the “Exclamation Point!” end of the pulp spectrum. I started everyone off at second level as far as char-gen goes (mostly because I have the fragility of first level and it would let the players begin the game multi-classed if they so desired), and I’m experimenting with a couple of house rules to add to the  over the top “Action!” vibe I’m going for.

Oh ya, and I started the first session in medias res on top of a speeding lightning rail engine as bandits try to commandeer the train for their own greed-fueled desires.

"The Train!" Train top battle Fight!

(Above is the cleen shot of the lightning rail map and then an overhead view of the fight  in progress and an attempt at a more dynamic shot.)

The PCs all work for Uncle Zader’s Antiquities and Curios, one of many antique and junk stores in the market districts of Sharn. They were escorting a package back to the city when the lightning rail was boarded and their charge was grabbed in the chaos. Naturally they responded the way any upstanding citizen would, by following them to the roof of the train and demanding their stuff back.

A few clever maneuvers got most of the party to the front of the engine to confront the ringleader of the brigands.  A few rounds of exciting combat later (One of the house rules in effect is “The better you describe it, the more I’m likely to let you get away with”) and their possessions were back in hand.

News travels quickly, and in Sharn a good scoop can make or break a journalists reputation, so it was no surprise that while the party were busy receiving praise and minor monetary compensation word reached a reporter with the Sharn Inquisitive about their heroic deeds. After a brief and modest statement to the press they bring the package to Uncle Zader, a small, old gnome who knows his antiques and curiosities. He reveals that the package contains vital clues to a possible treasure trove from the War of the Mark and that they next day they would be descending into the Depths of Sharn to find the Tomb of the Lady of Plagues, but first, they would have to find the most likely entrance.

Player Shot Back Alley Brawl Player Shot
(Above are Kat, an image of the back alley brawl, and Kevin & Matt)

While searching the slums for clues to the entrance to the particular piece of Under-Sharn they were trying to find they were confronted by a couple of Dask thugs demanding money. A brief fight later they discover that the tavern they’re behind happens to be the entrance they seek. Bribing the barkeep with more money than he would have demanded if consulted about the matter got them into the basement and then into the Depths of Sharn.

The Under-Sharn The ruined mansion
(The graph paper layout of the depths and the ruined manor in which the tomb rested)

Only the natural hazards of the only-slightly collapsing chamber and a few unfortunate goblins stood between the characters and their ultimate goal. Things didn’t go too well once inside the ruined manor, for the adventurers had failed to bring many things that could affect the centipede swarm that erupted from the sarcophagus, but no form of insect could trouble these daring do-ers for very long! Within the great stone box they discovered a strange talisman around the lady’s neck. The session ended with them deciding to take it to Uncle for identification.

Mar 232011
 

Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control I’ll be unable to GM tomorrow, and since a game doesn’t happen without the GM we won’t be able to play tomorrow. I’ll try to schg for the future.

Also, for the open seats I’m gonna need an email from people (there’s a link on the right side of the page) if you want to play.