Tuesday, 30 November 2010

D&D Stupidity: Week Three, in which the party are maimed horrifically and we witness the remarkable return of Bob

Y'know, there's a reason D&D players are funny about their dice. Three out of our four players (and the DM) have their own set, me included, except that now Garry (Carric) and Cameron (Larrsinan) are seriously considering changing theirs after the horrific amount of bad rolling last night. The god of dice rolls was apparently very unhappy with us.

So uh... expect lots of instances of the party failing horribly. Thankfully we have a nice DM, who I may or may not have bribed with the promise of discount beer in order to get a reroll at one point. We were also down a paladin and our wizard was in the hands of someone else due to there being a stupid amount of snow for this early in the year and their players being unable to get to my flat. But anyway, let's get cracking, shall we?

Last week we left off with the party regrouping oustside the waterfall entrance to the kobolds' cave lair. Everyone was rather excited about this, since once they cleared this out, there would be no more bloody kobolds to fight. Lucifer, we have to assume for the sake of the blog, was so excited that he passed out or something. After listening to the gang inside the cave talking about whatever kobolds talk about in their spare time, Larrsinan (henceforth referred to as Larrs for brevity) and Carric sat and had a brief argument as to what sort of approach they should take, eventually deciding that a full frontal assault would be quicker and easier. And so, yelling like idiots, onward they charged, with the two magic users following at a safe distance. The kobolds were indeed rather surprised.

Pausing to briefly analyse the enemy, there were rather mixed reactions. Carric had a nervous breakdown, Illyria was pretty much indifferent and Larrs seemed rather happy about the situation. Damakos just sort of stood there staring at the ceiling, until Carric snapped, rushed forward and sort of... flailed... at two of the kobolds, somehow managing to kill one in the process. And then everything started going straight to hell.

Illyria got off to a bad start by being stabbed in the leg, while Carric, Swiftpaw and Damakos also obtained stab wounds. In retaliation, Damakos roasted three of them. Carric, apparently startled by the sudden bright light and heat, was then stabbed twice more. Illyria, highly unimpressed, exloded her attacker with Dire Radiance, because concentrated and very painful starlight is the best punishment, while Larrs got in a good solid thwack on one of the tougher ones that was menacing Damakos.

Carric then made a brief recovery, killing two of the things in rapid succession and beating another round the head. Distracted by the kung fu, Illyria was stabbed in the leg again while two more kobolds sailed past Swiftpaw as they tried to attack her. Damakos threw another one of his by now trademark fireballs, hitting one of the tougher kobolds, dodging a spear, and getting another one in the ribs anyway. Carric was then stabbed repeatedly, catapulting him straight back into the gibbering mess he was at the start of the battle, while Illyria fried one of the kobolds attacking him. Larrs then just succeeded in landing a blow on another one, and Carric frantically healed himself before launching himself at one of them, missing, then punching straight through another's chest, missing another one, and then smacking the first one that he missed on the follow-through.

Illyria was attacked again, being grazed by another spear which made her rather... unhappy. And so the unlucky kobold found her sucking out part of his life force and healing herself a little in the process. In the background, Larrs failed to hit anything.

Just when it was starting to look like the end of the battle was nigh, a horn sounded at the back of the cavern, exciting the remaining kobolds. A few more of them trickled out of various places in the cave, as well as an old, battle-scarred goblin armed with a big battle axe that had seen a lot of use. He was not a friendly looking guy, probably due to the ram skull and wolfskin adornments. Carric freaked out upon seeing him, although this did lead to him mangling a kobold.

Then it got worse.

Damakos and Illyria got some solid hits in against a few of the mooks, although Illyria's target managed to get her with his spear before he was seared to death. Thinking that she was being injured entirely too much, Illyria proceeded to move herself, going invisible in the process. A kobold spellcaster who had snuck out of the back of the cave attempted to throw some acid at Larrs, but thankfully failed. Larrs, apparently hyped up on adrenalin or something, made the stupid mistake of trying to taunt the goblin. This ended up amounting to him pulling silly faces at it and the goblin looking severely unimpressed. Then, in a smarter move, he moved Carric around so that they could coordinate attacks against the thing. This did, unfortunately, end up failing.

Then, in the midst of his nervous gibberings, Carric pulled off a bit of kung fu that was so epic that he beat the shit out of two kobolds without touching them. And then he got hit with the goblin's battle axe. In order to try and help even the odds, Damakos tried a Ray of Enfeeblement on the goblin warrior, failing, but hitting one of the kobolds hard with a scorching burst. Illyria, now frustrated and rather sore, levelled her Flames of Phlegethos spell at the goblin, taking a massive chunk out of him and setting him on enchanted fire. Then another ball of acid flew past Larrs' head while Swiftpaw sunk her teeth into the goblin's achilles' tendon. In response, it smacked her and her master around with its axe, while its kobold flunkies severely stabbed Larrs twice.

Larrs managed to land a solid blow on the goblin and get the party some hit points in the process. Carric then rolled up his sleevs and prepared to kick some ass. And then didn't.

Illyria was attacked again, but avoided any serious injury. Carric, on the other hand, took a heavy blow and Damakos levelled another scorching burst, followed up with Illyria killing the unfortunate target with a magic missile.

The kobold mage aimed for Larrs again and missed, presumably because it was not very bright and was just sort of standing there drooling and waving its staff around in case it actually hit anything. Larrs ignored it and made to attack the goblin again. He failed. So did Carric.

And then, to the sound of a cheering studio audience (sound effects provided by flatmate Claire), Bob reappeared to save the day. Bob may have been slightly drunk at the time and hoping that the cave was another pub, but since the party was dying horribly, they didn't really care.

Damakos, in celebration, hit the kobold mage with a fireball to the gut, while Illyria blasted the goblin and the pulled her invisibilty trick. And then the moronic scaled mage actually managed to hit Larrs with his next ball of acid, although this didn't stop him from hitting the goblin.

Bob then set a dude on fire in epic fashion. Isn't Bob awesome?

Carric failed to land another blow and his fox took a severe wallop to the face and fell unconcscious while Damakos launched a magic missile at the goblin and Illyria failed to connect with her eldritch blast. Larrs then took another glob of acid to the face and subsequently missed everything. So did Carric, who was then rendered unconscious.

Damakos landed another magic missile, Illyria missed again, and the Larrs was hit with even more acid and joined Carric on the floor of the cave. Things did not look good.

And then Bob swept in in magnificent fashion and cleaved the kobold mage in twain with a holy strike while Larrs and Carric struggled and failed to get back to their feet and failed to manage it. The fox, however, got back on her feet. The goblin, now unconcerned with the prone figures, moved to attack Bob, landing a blow on him. It was then killed with a magic missile to the back of the head, courtesy of Damakos.

While Larrs and Carric gingerly picked themselves up, Illyria took the liberty of going over the body of the goblin, finding a small silver key and a message scroll. The message was not good news for the party, as it informed them that someone was apparently rather close to opening up that rift hidden in the old keep in the hills.

However, the mood was improved somewhat by the big chest full of gold and a suit of magic chainmail that was opened by the key.

Three guesses who wasn't allowed to get her hands on any of it.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Wondering...

There's something funny about people today. Well, okay, there's a lot of things that are a bit off about people today, but I'm not going into all of them because I'm not spending the rest of my life writing this post. What I am going into is the fact that honesty and kindness seem to have become almost alien concepts. I'm not saying that everyone is dishonest or unkind, it's just that when presented with an honest or kind act, a lot of people seem disproportionately surprised by it.

I've been seeing this a lot lately. For instance, during my adventures at Auchinawa, we went to get a Chinese for dinner. The woman at the counter mistook the £5 note I handed her for a £10, and gave me the change appropriate to that. As someone raised by people in law enforcement, I'm honest pretty much by reflex, so I automatically handed the £5 she'd given me back. In response, she blinked at me, then started thanking me profusely and added a free bag of prawn crackers to my order, despite me not having spent enough to get them. This rather confused me. Was it really such a big deal that I had handed back the money? It wasn't the first time something like that has happened to me, due to the 'honesty by reflex' thing. The staff in the students' union at the university were very surprised when I settled up after not having enough money on me initially to buy my lunch, but making sure to borrow enough to make up the right amount. As I was walking away after paying the full price, I heard one of the staff commenting that she had been sure I was just going to walk out without bothering.

I also got thanked profusely when I ran out of work and chased a customer down the street to give her back the £5 she had dropped on the floor. She was another one that was genuinely surprised that I would bother doing that for her, to the point where she actually asked me why I did. I actually didn't know what to say other than 'it's your money' since surely that should have been an obvious reason, right...?

Random acts of kindness are another thing that people seem genuinely surprised at. It seems that the automatic response these days are to assume that the person showing the kindness is actually mocking you. While, regretably, this is sometimes the case, it seems equally as mean to make the assumption, although I have been guilty of it myself in the past. To put my example of an occurence like this into context, I went to a private school filled with kids who had a lot of money and, in the case of a fair few in my year, and indeed in other years, were not hugely tolerant of anyone who did not fit the chosen view of 'normal'. However, during one of the prize givings, there was a brief ray of hope that maybe they were not all completely discriminatory idiots. One of the merit prizes went to a boy in my year who had learning disabilities and needed a hearing aid, and the second he walked onstage, the whole place went from polite applause to full-on celebrity style uproar. This wasn't planned, no one said anything to anyone else, it just happened. His mother was in tears; she honestly couldn't believe that people would do something like that for her son.

I'm going to fully admit to being somewhat jaded about society in general these days. Anyone who knows me even a little can attest to the fact that I can be a suspicious judgemental bitch when the mood takes me, but is it really so bad that we feel that we can never expect these things? The woman in the Chinese was genuinely surprised and extremely grateful that I gave her back the extra change, when I would consider that an automatic response. Is that naive of me? I don't find it all that hard to give back something that isn't mine. As far as I'm concerned, holding it in my hand doesn't make it mine, and so giving it back isn't a problem, because I technically never had it. Maybe other people feel differently, I don't know.

Basically, I guess I'm a little disappointed that we've apparently gotten to a point where nothing can be taken at face value anymore. Sure, I know there are a lot of dishonest people in the world, and just as many unkind ones, but that doesn't mean we have to be utterly shocked when someone does something selfless or just plain nice.

Besides, it was only a £5 note, not the moon.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

D&D Stupidity: Week Two, in which Carric learns kung fu, the party exemplify incompetence and some new challengers appear!

Current caffeine levels [///////////////               ]. Probable post coherance, minimal.

I hate Tuesday mornings. Anyway, here is the second installment of our epic D&D misadventures. Just in case you weren't paying attention last time, here's a quick run down of our characters, introducing our two newcomers.

Larrsinan: The party leader, a tiefling warlord favouring axes and with an apparent predisposition for having the shit kicked out of him.
Carric: A half-elf ranger who's been reading books on martial arts since last time, and so now has some crazy kung fu skills going on. His fox companion, however, does not.
Illyria: Antisocial half-elf warlock with hugely destructive powers, and rather alcoholic tendencies.
Damakos: A tiefling wizard who's just as much of an antisocial git as Illyria, although without the alcoholism.
Lucifer: A human paladin who is unfailingly polite and under the unfortunate impression that Illyria is in any way ladylike. Also very handy with his broadsword, much to the relief of our party.

We left our heroes at the Dragon Graveyard where they had just killed off a group of bandits and rescued the friend of the sage. Said friend, who will now be known as Rescuee, was very grateful, but when the party was confronted by a gang of kobolds on the way back to Winterhaven, he wasn't exactly what you might call useful.

This group of kobolds had a shaman in their midst, and were much better armed than the last lot. They also got the drop on everyone since the party had apparently decided that being somewhat competant in the last battle meant that they could stop paying attention. Thus we started off with Larrsinan taking a ball of acid to the gut while everyone else just sort of stared. After much flailing and being useless, Carric finally managed to get some hits in against one of them and Illyria blew another one to pieces. And then they went straight back to being utterly useless, as Swiftpaw took a heavy blow and went down, and Carric, instead of raising her, opted to charge through the kobolds with his shiny new Steel Avalanche attack, possibly as some form of vengeance. This, while doing some damage, ultimately was not very helpful, as Carric was then downed almost immediately after, while Larrsinan limped about with exactly one hit point left, managing an Inspiring Word to at least get Carric conscious, if not upright.

In the midst of our failtastic flailing, the first of our shiny new party members appeared on the horizon. Being a paladin, and noticing that the party were not exactly doing well, he immediately charged in and landed a hefty Holy Strike on the back of the nearest kobold's head. It didn't kill it, but it was better than almost anything the rest of them had managed. Illyria attempted to level a blow at the shaman and missed it completely, although thankfully it missed her too, although the ball of acid winging past her face at high speed was rather alarming,

It was then that our second new addition arrived. Damakos stumbled out of a bush and took a chunk out of the shaman with a Magic Missile, thus earning Illyria's ire for being a better shot than she was, although she still held herself as one point up because she had actually killed something. Then she got distracted by one kobold stabbing Lucifer in the leg, which led to her getting a stab wound of her own; her first wound in the campaign so far. Rescuee was then briefly useful as he smacked one of the kobolds in the face. Larrsinan, still limping and still useless, proceeded to run away to a safe distance and order Lucifer to attack another of them. Illyria, severely pissed off, attempted to ruin her attacker with Dire Radiance and Vampiric Embrace. She spectacularly failed at both and Damakos took a ball of acid to the stomach a moment later. His response was to summon a Flaming Sphere (christened Fred) which thoroughly toasted the offending shaman. In the background, Carric finally got up and kung fued one of the few remaining to death.

One of the hardier kobolds took another chunk out of Lucifer while another tried and failed to hit Rescuee. Lucifer, in one of his worse moments, decided to try and intimidate one of the kobolds, which basically entailed him standing over it and going 'ooga booga' while it blinked at him stupidly. Illyria, rather pissed off at this point, then exploded it all over Lucifer's nice shiny white plate mail. Meanwhile, Fred the Flaming Sphere proceeded to miss his next target and the last kobold spearman went for Rescuee, except didn't actually connect in any way, instead sailing past and landing in a heap. Lucifer, since he's a nice guy and all, challenged the thing, and then utterly failed to actually hurt him. Illyria then attempted to kill the last of the kobolds, only to find that everyone was in her way, so she simply healed herself and grumbled about the lack of violence.

Fred, in fine flaming fashion, then lightly roasted the kobold. And Damakos. And Carric. And Lucifer. Thus everyone in the party learned to dislike Fred, except Illyria, who found all of this hilarious. Finally, after much yelling at Damakos to get his damn fireball under control, the kobold was intimidated into submission and tied upside down to his own spear. The party tried to interrogate him, but he was a gibbering idiot, so they all just kicked him on their way past, especially Larrsinan, who hadn't actually hit anything for the entire duration of the battle.

While looting the bodies, Lucifer introduced himself, in typical very polite paladin fashion. Illyira decided that they could keep him, while Larrsinan and Carric sniggered at the fact Lucifer called her a 'lady'. In the background, Damakos helped himself to an amulet that one of the kobolds was carrying, namely one bearing the sign of the Underworld god Orcus.

Finally, the party returned to Winterhaven, beaten and bruised and very, very annoyed at all things kobold-shaped. However, they also noticed that the field around the town were awfully empty looking, and the guards standing on the gate suddenly looked terribly attentive. However, nothing was actually wrong per say, everyone was just a bit on edge. The party members looked at each other, shrugged, and went to give the sage a beating for sending them into kobold territory. Well, most of them did. Lucifer excused himself and went to the pub instead.

On reaching the tower and presenting the sage with both Rescuee and the Orcus amulet, he stopped them before they gave him the kicking he totally deserved and told them a story:
Hundreds of years ago, a group of powerful sorcerors opened a rift to the Shadowfell. This rift was eventually sealed in the time of the Empire and a keep was built over it. However, the knight, Sir Keegan, who was tasked with defending the keep, descended into madness, killing his wife, his children and his lieutenants, before going on to slaughter his men until he was subdued. The keep was subsequently abandoned, and has since fallen into disrepair. The few who knew of the existence of the rift assumed that the remote location in the hills would remain secret, and even if the seal was found, it would take an extremely powerful sorceror to open it.
The sage explained that the rift opened onto a section of the Shadowfell that was sacred to Orcus, and that the cult the party had been sent to investigate may be attempting to open it up again, using the kobolds to defend and distract from their efforts. He also told them that the kobolds are camped out in a cave to the south east.

With this in mind, the party moved on to the inn to rest up and, in Illyria's case, get something to drink. The others filled in Lucifer and Damakos on their mission, before being distracted by the town leader, Lord Padraig, entering the inn for a drink.

Everyone, minus Illyria who was propping up the bar, sidled up to him to inform him that the cult may have moved into the old keep and that they may have something to do with the numerous kobold attacks. Padraig admitted that the kobold attacks have been becoming more of a problem, and also acknowledged that his town militia have been less than effective since they cannot operated outside of the town limits. Given their new grudge against all things kobold, Carric volunteered the party to clear out the kobold lair, and Padraig hired them as mercenaries.

The next morning, the party (with a hungover Illyria, of course), stopped off at the blacksmith's to offload some of the loot they picked up, as well as dropping by the sage's tower to sell off the dragon scale shields they had picked up from the kobolds and to get directions to the lair. They also invested in some ranged weapons at Lucifer's suggestion. Except for Illyria, who is a ranged weapon. They picked up some lanterns too, because, you know, cave.

Then they headed off to kill themselves some kobolds.

After a nice long kobold-free walk, the party came across a pleasantly rugged area with a waterfall. And a ton of of little dragony bastards. There was also a big glowing magic circle, and after much muttering and scratching of heads, Illyria and Lucifer finally figured out that it made any attacks made inside the circle a fair bit stronger. Unfortunately, one of the aformentioned little dragony bastards was standing right in the middle of it.

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valour, Carric and Larrsinan took the stealthy approach and moved along to get a proper look at the enemy. Illyria pulled her own ninja act and moved along the side of the cave, and Lucifer, who is actually incapable of stealth, just sort of wandered along after her. Damakos was apparently asleep in a bush or something at this point.

Then in a stunning display of rangerly sneaking, Carric blew everyone's cover, not that it made much difference because we're talking about kobolds here; they ain't bright. Larrsinan, eager for violence after his spectacular failure to take part in any other than the receiving kind last time, rushed the kobold in the circle and bludgeoned it, followed swiftly by Carric who flanked it along with Swiftpaw and proceeded to beat the tar out of it. Over on the left flank, Lucifer challenged a lone kobold, while Illyria moved into the surrounding woods and laid a curse on an unsuspecting enemy.

Back at the magic circle, Larrsinan killed off the kobold and moved himself firmly into the circle, while Lucifer continued beating his little friend over in the corner of the area. Carric distracted another one with Swiftpaw killed it. Illyira, from her position in the trees, heavily singed a rather confused kobold who had no idea where this was coming from or why it was happening to him, and then his day was made even worse as Damakos finally woke up and re-summoned Fred the Flaming Sphere, who proceeded to menace the poor kobold and his friends.

Larrsinan was then hit with a glue bomb, which unfortunately stuck him in place, yet left him still able to attack. Inside the magic circle, which gave extra power to those attacks. A tragedy. Then, Carric removed the needs for this effect by killing three kobolds thoroughly to death with one hit. Three more tired to stab him, but only one was successful, and the rest were roasted by Fred. Lucifer finally dealt with his mate on the left and Larrsinan chucked a rock at one of the few remaining around the circle. It hit the thing between the eyes and dropped it. Finally, Carric mopped up the couple remaining with another mighty kung fu display and then the ritual looting of the bodies commenced.

Illyria was still not allowed to hold any of the money.

And that was the end of the week's adventures. Next week: Kobold Extermination Funtime!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Auchinawa 2010, in which Mint braves her first ever anime convention, attempts cosplaying, and relearns that cats do not like this sharing nonsense.

I'm going to start off this post with an apology. I am very sorry if any parts of this post do not make sense. It is quite possible that large chunks of it will not, as I have just got back from Edinburgh after attending Auchinawa 2010 (as you may have guessed from the title of the post) and I am a little bit on the bone tired side and I haven't had enough coffee. Nowhere near enough.

Anyway, yeah, the last three days have been spent in a whirl of train rides, fast food, cosplays and cat hair. The cat hair actually has nothing to do with the con; me and the boyfriend were staying at a friend's place since she lived about ten minutes by train away from the hotel where the con was being held, and she has cats. And they shed. Everywhere. They also immediately claimed ownership of our stuff, and commandeered us for cuddles whenever they damn well pleased. We had to chase them out of our room each night before we could actually get into bed, and even then I spent the first night with a cat on my ankles. Yeah, typical cats. Everything is theirs, nothing is yours. They also stole a pair of boyfriend's socks this morning, although so did I since that was the one thing I forgot to pack.

The first day was fairly easygoing. We got to Haymarket at around one, me lugging around my beuatifully carved wooden staff for my Garnet cosplay. This was promptly removed from me when I got to the Ops room at the hotel, as all props had to be checked and although they complemented me on how nice the staff was, they told me they really couldn't let me keep it. Since I had to admit that I could easily bludgeon someone to death with it and also because hell, I didn't want to carry it around all weeked, I relinquished it quite happily. They did say they'd let me borrow it for picture, and they kept their word on that one, so I couldn't complain.

Moving on, my first purchase of the weekend was a great little pair of blue wings from Yaya Han, who is an epic cosplayer and made me insanely jealous since she's awesome at both costumes and props. She wasn't the only one either; the cosplay standard was amazing, highlights being an Ezio with working retractable wrist blades made from drawer slides, an Amatarasu (in human form) from Okami who rightly won the masqurade, several awesome Links, an Arkham Asylum Harley Quinn, Victor von Doom and so many more that my mind is actively rejecting the awesome. The point is that there was a ton of epic going on in the cosplay category.

And, because dammit I wanted to say that I'd done it at least once, I cosplayed on the second day of the con, as Garnet as I mentioned before. Since I hate wigs and also have no idea where to get good quality ones, my Friday night was spent sitting in my friend's bathroom as she dyed my hair and I sat gibbering because I'm a wuss and I've never dyed my hair before. Thankfully, it worked, and I did not look like some hideous mutant. That said, I still had to brave the train in a bright orange jumpsuit with big buckles on the legs, so my hair looking okay wasn't really the biggest issue on that front. But when I got to the con, I stopped feeling so weird, although there was that awkward moment when I thrashed a FFXIII Lightning at BlazBlue, complemented her on her costume and got an awkward 'yours is awesome too, but... who are you?'

This was the first of two occurences of that question, but there were many more of 'Oh my god you're Garnet' which was nice. My neighbour was nice enough to handmake my costume from scratch since I can't sew to save myself, and all her hard work paid off. It really paid off. It's a pretty awesome feeling when you have a Sephiroth (who was actually the proper height, and had a really great costume) running over because IX is his favourite game and can he please get a picture right now because that Garnet costume is awesome. I tried to play it cool and posed for him and everything. And then got all shy and mumbled something about getting a picture of him because I like VII. He was very nice about it, but I really will have to get over my public bumbling for the next con.

Now, as far as actual con events go, there was a fair few interesting things going on. I dropped into a blogging panel on the first day, which may have been helpful, but probably not really, given that it's me and I'm set in my ways. Then we hit the Opening Ceremony and watched a fun introductory video in the style of the Battle Royale information film. The next day we went to the Bad Anime panel, which was made of pure win. Pure so-bad-it's-awesome win. For the record, Garzey's Wing is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen. It is also one of the most awful, and it was made by the same guy who did Gundam. Yeah.

There was also an Adult Event tonight, which we planned to be the last thing we did before heading home. They hyped it and hyped it all weekend, and then we got there, expecting to be shocked and appalled by hentai of all genres. What we got was less than satisfactory. It was a bunch of drunken idiots playing vaguely porn themed versions of cheesy old game shows and no actual porn. To put it in the correct terms; it was all build up, and no climax.

In between all of this, we spent a huge amount of time in the games room, where I learned how to kick ass at BlazBlue (with one of the characters anyway), learned that I do not kick ass at DDR and got to watch Vincent Valentine playing Sing Star. He was actually pretty good, and he complemented me on my wings, which made me happy. There were also instances of food, and a large amount of time in the dealers' room, where I spent pretty much all of my money on such things as a Kingdom Hearts wall scroll, the Persona 3 artbook I have wanted for like a year (I did indeed squee very loudly when I came across that), a thermos mug for my coffee (an essential) and a set of very cute earmuffs. I have about £10 left in my savings account, but damn I am happy.

There was, however, a severe lack of coffee. Like, I only had two cups of coffee all weekend. I don't know how I'm still alive you guys, I have more blood than caffeine in my system right now (I subsist on coffee and bagels. And Xbox games. That is my life). But that aside, I had a lot of fun. And didn't get too scarred, although there was that one Misty cosplayer who was a middle-aged man...

Actually, let's just stop there, shall we?
Mint, signing out and dropping off

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

D&D Stupidity: Week One, in which our heroes meet, kill some kobolds and nearly get eaten by some drakes.

I feel I should start this post by telling you that I am a gigantic nerd. Of course, you probably already guessed this due to the fact that the title of the post begins with D&D, but I just thought I'd reassure you that you were correct in the assumption. I'm the vice president of the Stirling Uni Sci Fi Society you see, so it's basically my job to be a gigantic nerd.

Anyway, a few of us got started on a D&D campaign last night, and so many silly awesome things happened that I decided that a weekly feature of my blog should be the strange misadventures of our little band of weirdoes. I will try to keep it entertaining, but I won't judge you if you decide you want to just hit the back button now (you heartless, heartless person you). Now, for those of you still reading, I shall begin with some introductions to our characters.

We started out a with a trio; an axe-crazy tiefling warlord by the name of Larrsinan, a goody two-shoes half-elf ranger by the name of Carric (and his imaginatively named fox companion Swiftpaw) and an antisocial, heavy drinking half-elf warlock by the name of Illyria (that would be my character).

Things started off in a pretty standard way. The three were sent off to investigate a supposed death cult by an apparently rather absentminded cleric. On the way, they were attacked by a band of eight kobolds (little lizard/dragon men for those not well-versed in D&D monsterology). Being big manly men, Larrsinan and Carric went charging into the fray and Larrsinan proceeded to get the shit repeatedly kicked out of him. Carric was marginally more successful, if only because the kobolds surrounding him proved to be utterly incompetant with the spears they were wielding. There was, however, the awkward moment when he tried to do a dual attack with Swiftpaw, only for the fox to miss horribly and presumably land on Carric's head.

Illyria, on the other hand, being the lazy bitch she was created to be, proceeded to simply stand back and be the long-range heavy artillery. After cursing three or four kobolds and blasting two of them to smithereens, she moved exactly one step forward (this was literally the only movement she made the entire time) and ended the battle by using her handy Vampiric Embrace move, which killed the final kobold and landed her with more hit-points than she started with, thus giving her a nice buzz for the rest of the afternoon.

After looting the bodies (and the smouldering patches of grass where a couple of bodies used to be) and picking up more useless weaponry than anyone outside of an RPG could carry, as well as a couple of handy dragon scales and some money that Illyria was not allowed to keep hold of, our heroes moved on reached the village of Winterhaven, where they observed a couple of houses outside the walls that weren't so much houses as they were charred piles of bricks. The guards at the village gates were not terribly helpful when asked about that, although they did give the three directions to the local blacksmith and also to the inn.

After offloading the weapons onto the dwarf blacksmith, and being told to try showing the dragon scale to the local sage, the three headed for the inn, where they proceeded to book rooms. Well, Larrsinan and Carric proceeded to book rooms. Illyria proceeded to get blind drunk. Larrsinan and Illyria also attempted to flirt with every waitress in the place, but both were unsuccessful.

After talking with a strange old man about the kobold infestation so near to the village, the two sober ones in the party (the fox was also drunk by this point; her and Illyria spent most of the night sitting in a corner making attempts at singing. Both failed. Horribly) met the local sage, who agreed to give them some information, or at least directions to find information, about the death cult if they did him a favour first. Apparently a friend of his had gone off to investigate an alleged dragon graveyard and hadn't returned, and the sage wanted either proof that he had perished or fallen into trouble there or on the way, or that he'd simply visited it and then kept going. Agreeing to meet the sage at his tower the next morning to get directions and some more information before setting out, the party dragged Illyria upstairs and got some sleep.

It was also during our night out at the pub that the band met the dragon-born paladin, Bob. Bob was a simple soul who agreed to got along with them on their quest. Except that Bob thought they were going on a pub crawl. Bob was sorely disappointed.

The next morning, after dousing Illyria in the water-trough outside, the party picked up a map and a hangover cure (that didn't really work) from the sage before setting off. The journey there was uneventful, although the minute they reached the dragon graveyard they were confronted with a couple of guardian drakes and a mob of bandits led by a gnome. The sage's friend was there too, all tied up, but the party was more concerned with the fact that there were two lesser dragons present that seemed rather keen to eat them.

Conscious of the fact that he had nearly died several times in the last battle, Larrsinan proceeded to proclaim Bob the primary meat-shield of the party. He attempted to soften this by granting the party some extra hit points, which really didn't do that much to make Bob feel any better. Illyria returned to her now standard tactic of stand back, curse and make dudes explode. Of course, this was after she tried her nifty Dire Radiance attack, which worked once. The failure of her second attempt was presumably due to her hangover, since the whole 'painfully bright light' thing probably hurt like hell to cast in that state and she forgot to close her eyes the second time.

Anyway, the battle went ahead fairly standardly. Bob spent most of time soaking up damage, although there was the exciting moment when he set three men on fire and subsequently killed them all. Carric, however, did a stupid thing and taunted the bandits' slinger to try and hit Swiftpaw who was hiding in a huge tangle of roots at the time. Despite the fact that the slinger couldn't actually see her, he still managed to hit her full in the face and almost kill her. Carric felt a little bit silly after that one.

Eventually, after much effort on the part of our heroes (the frigging gnome could go invisible), Illyria ended the fight with Vampiric Embrace again, thus coming through another battle unscathed and on a huge buzz from the two huge doses of extra health she'd gained (now there was a working hangover cure). Bodies were looted and the hostage was rescued, Bob glared at everyone for a while and more money was kept far away from Illyria. All in all, quite a successful trip.

And that is where this installment ends. We are as yet uncertain if Bob will remain with the group, as Bob was very upset at the lack of ale on the outing. As such, he may bugger off on the return to Winterhaven, although I'm sure he will get replaced.

So, that's all for this post folks.
*Mint uses Teleport*

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Rocky Horror Show: A Night Out in Snapshots of Silly

It was my boyfriend's 19th today, and his parents bought tickets for him and a bunch of us other hangers on to go see The Rocky Horror Show. So that was pretty cool.

Okay, it was actually frigging epic. And so was the rest of the day, and since my last post was full of teh srs, I figured I'd share something a little lighter.

The epic began when my friend Alex broke into our house. Well, I say she broke in. What actually happened was that when my flatmate Claire's new boyfriend skulked out of our flat this morning, he didn't manage to close our stubborn front door properly, and so we ended up with much rattling, banging and then Alex appearing in the living room with a suitcase. We were a little surprised.

The next major occurence was at the Stirling train station as we met up with our other friends to travel to Glasgow. As well as being the boyfriend's birthday, it was also my friend Lamia's, and she was coming to the show with us. Since she was waiting at the train station, me and Claire rushed over to give her hugs. Claire succeeded, I did not. What I did was slip on the wet tiles and end up doing a graceful full-body slide to the floor, to the hilarity of every random bystander who had the fortune of being there at the time. I then proceeded to get up and loudly proclaim that I was the champion of the world, and of grand entrances. I'm pretty sure I bruised my hip as well. Not my finest moment, especially considering the short shorts, tights and stripy socks making me look like some kind of schizophrenic goth playboy bunny (yeah, I know, weird image, but it's Rocky Horror, come on).

My outstanding feats of grace and elegance aside, the rest of the trip to the theatre was largely uneventful. That is, of course, until we got there and were met with a huge crowd of the usual crazily dressed up people you get at The Rocky Horror Show. It's par for the course really, unless you are my boyfriend, who hadn't even seen the Picture Show and had no idea what he was in for. Still, he seemed less than traumatised; I guess that's what comes of being a thespian and having already cross-dressed and been a sexual deviant on stage (although not at the same time). But nevermind that.

The show itself was awesome, even if no one is ever going to replace Tim Curry as the Frank. N. Furter in my eyes. The guy they had did a pretty damn good job though, as did the rest of the cast. I didn't know any of the shout-outs, and no, I did not do the Time Warp because I am lame and shy in crowds, but it was all still great fun. There was, however, a worrying moment at the end of the halftime interval where the lights went out as I was trying to finish my melting ice cream. Eating melting ice cream with a tiny plastic spoon/spatula thing in the dark is not easy, and there's that terrifying moment when you feel something cold and wet hit your shorts and have to hope that it was just condensation off the tub and you don't actually have an embarrasing white stain near your crotch area that will be very hard to explain. Thankfully, it was just condensation. It was the theatre equivalent of the 'popcorn down the top' situation that can arise at the cinema when you take too big a handful of popcorn and it bounces off your face when you try to eat it and ends up lodged in your bra.

Umm... I really hope I'm not the only person that's happened to... Erm... Yeah, moving on...

Anyway, after we successfully navigated our way out of the huge crowd of scarily drunk middle-aged women dressed very innapropriately for their age, we hit a noodle bar for food. And there commenced the ritual taking of Very Silly Pictures. The VSP part of a night out is one of the most important parts. When you are drunk, it tells you the dumb things you did, when you are sober, it tells you how crazy you actually are.

For me, it informed me that I apparently have a hell of a rape-face sometimes, and it reinforced the whole 'schizophrenic goth playboy bunny thing'. Yeah, not so proud of that part...

In any case, we made it home in one piece, and commenced with the evening ritual of tea-making. We were, however, confronted with the two boyfriend figures of the house realising the need for a hierarchy. Mine was here first, but we are now presented with Claire's. The actual confrontation bolied down to this:

Boyfriend #1: We must assert dominance here. Only I may mate with the females!
Boyfriend #2: *cowers*

The funny part here is that Claire's boyfriend is actually 7 years older than mine (and Claire, come to that). I did throw in a comment about male lions humping each other to assert dominance, but they ultimately went with the stag beetle approach and grappled for a while. This, I feel, was not quite as much fun to watch, but then again, our boyfriends already flirt with each other so much that I suppose they don't need any more encouragement.

Did I mention that our household is rather weird? No? Well it is. I'm not sure how my other flatemate copes really.

Welp, I think that's the outing rather neatly summerised. I hope you enjoyed the tale.

Mint, out.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

An Introduction and Some Issues

Possibly due to extreme caffeine overdose and a moment of madness, I decided that it would be a good idea to start a blog. Whether this actually is a good idea remains to be seen. In any case, I feel it will be a good exercise in making myself think about things beyond when my university deadlines are, when the next time I will get access to my games consoles is and when my next chance to get my coffee fix is.

So, for my first blog post, I have decided to dive right into the heavy stuff. There are a couple of  issues that, even in a world full of issues, I would fix in a heartbeat if I had the ability. These aren't even things that would involve changing human nature, just things that could be implemented by governments that I feel would make things... not necessarily better, but it would be an improvement to a certain extent.

First off, an issue I feel very strongly about: mandatory sex education in schools. I feel this should not be up for debate; it should be a given thing. Sex education in most schools today is absolutely woeful. My own was better than most it has to be said, although it mostly consisted of a few technical aspects from the biology teachers, and basic contraception information and lots of scary pictures of STIs from the school nurse.

I remember one of my infrequent visits to Yahoo! Answers where I came across a question from a distraught seventeen year-old girl. Panicking over the fact that her boyfriend was pressuring her to go on the pill, she was asking for help because she had no idea what the pill really was, how it worked or where she could go to find out about it. To me, this is unacceptable. At the very least, if schools can't get staffmembers willing to educate their students themselves, they should have contact details for family planning clinics or tell them that their local GP will be more than willing to give them information should they ask for it.

But honestly, giving basic sex education should not be the big deal some people make it out to be. A brief run through of basic forms of contraception, the dangers of STIs and the risk of pregancy. None of these things take much time to explain, and all are valuable information. I mean, people complain about teenage pregnancy all the time; surely this would help to stem that problem a little bit, eh? Also, teaching abstinence is all well and good, but it's quite clear that teaching abstinence on its own isn't helping. It's not a bad idea, but when it clearly fails to deter some teenagers, then presenting information on options for safe sex seems to be a sensible solution. Hormones do not always make for good judgement, but we are still entitled to make our own decisions; give us a way to do that without risking our health or our education by ending up with an STI or an unwanted pregnancy.

My second point is tied into the first. Abstinence is taught as a contraceptive measure (and often as the only contraceptive measure) generally as a result of the Catholic view that contraception is against God's will. It is my opinion that religion should be kept well away from the education system. Far, far away.

Now, I am not saying that we should get rid of religion. While I'm not religious myself, I have no issue with other people believing in it. It is a choice that they have made and I can respect that, just as I would expect them to respect that I have made a choice not to follow it myself. However, I feel that in many cases religion is far too closely tied to schools, particularly in parts of America.

School is meant to teach us skills that will benefit us in later life, and it also teaches us the social skills that we need every day. However, I feel that religion is not needed, and should not be present in this environment. As I said before, religion is a choice that children should be allowed to make on their own, and school should not be part of trying to influence that decision. Parents, yes, because they are the ones raising their child and they, while they must give their child their own personal freedoms, are still the ones that influence their everyday lives. It is only natural that parents may impart religious ideals to their child, and it is the child's decision whether they believe in it or not.

A big sticking point seems to be where we get our morals from. Morality is not intrinsically linked with religion, and I get very, very annoyed when people claim otherwise. I was not raised in a religious household, yet I would not consider myself a bad person. Likewise, I doubt anyone could claim that anyone raised Christian, Muslim or any other religion is necessarily a good person. In any case, I've always believed that morals are simply a code of ethics; a sense of right and wrong that doesn't need to be grounded in religion in order for you to live your life by it. This is taught to you by your parents, and though it may be influenced by your school life, it shouldn't be pushed on to you in a religious sense by your school.

That's not to say I don't think we should have religious education. I actually think that's very important. In fact, I'm pretty sure educating children and teenagers on other religions and cultures is the only way we're ever going to acheive any level of tolerance. I just don't think we should be taught to believe in a certain religion.

So yeah, those are things that, if I was given the power to do it, I would change about the way they are handled. I just feel these things are too important to let them carry on the way they are. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm missing glaring flaws in my view that, if they were ever implemented, would bring society crashing down around us. I don't know. I just wanted to share my thoughts on these matters.

So...Mint, exit stage left...