Monthly Archives: September 2017

Attribute point buy for early edition D&D

I have written before about my preferences for standard array or point buy system rather than rolling the dice for attributes. I prefer this because it starts everyone out on more less a level playing field. The problem with rolling dice, while fun and often challenging, often produces an unbalanced party. There is always someone who rolls an 18 and there is always someone whose highest stat is 13. Back in the day we use to use a 90 point system, which was way to much for a starting characters, later I trimmed that down to 80, but that was still too much.

Today, I have come to the conclusion that 70 is about right, however, there should be some limitations on this, because players being players, they will bugger it up. My solution to this is a D&D 5E like Standard array each player may assign as they please and then apply racial modifiers. The array I have settled on is, 15, 14, 13, 10, 10, and 8.

For players who want a bit more flexibility and want the chance to have an 18, there is the point buy system; All attributes start at 8 and you have 22 points to divide between the 6 attributes as you see fit, no attribute may exceed 18. This would allow for two 18’s, but that would leave only 2 points for the other 4 attributes.

I think either of these systems would produce fairly equitable characters that most players would be okay with playing. I think this would work well for all edition from the original through AD&D 2E. Beyond that, the later editions have their own systems for dealing with this.

Star Trek: Discovery

As many of you know, I am a life long Trekkie, yes, I said Trekkie, not Trekker. I consider Trekker to be pretentious, I don’t care if people don’t take me seriously or not, so my preference is Trekkie. I have seen every episode of every Star Trek series multiple times. Even the much panned Enterprise and Voyager shows were better than 90% of everything that has ever been on TV. I have also seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan more times than i can count. It should come to no surprise that I took time out of my vacation to watch the first two episodes of the new series.

So what did i think, well I liked it, I thought it was very Trek. The opening scene on the desert planet, was very Trek, Burnham’s space walk is very reminiscent of Spock’s in The Motion Picture, the plot, “A Federation ship finds a Klingon sacred burial ground in Federation space.” has a very Trek like moral dilemma to it. Setting aside the new look for the Klingon’s, I like the new added depth, we now get to see their spiritual side, the Torchbearer standing guard on the outside of the ship with a pike was just awesome.

What I did not like was the acting was a bit wooden, which I can live with, after all the first half of season one of The Next Generation was pretty awful. I was also not a big fan of this being an origin story for Burnham, I would have preferred we get straight to it. I was also not a big fan of Burnham being Spock’s foster sister, they could have done the whole “Raised by Vulcans” without ever involving Sarek.

Things I got over and so should you; This is more of a sequel to Star Trek: Enterprise then it is a prequel to The Original Series. So there are no 60’s style turtleneck shirts and the sets have a more modern style to them. The Original Series was its core was cheap 60’s Sci-Fi television, building sets based on those designs would be very silly and very bad. Yes, the Klingon make up is different, but the make up is pretty good and helps set this show apart from those that went before it.

So far, so good, I plan to watch the rest of the season, as with everything in my life, my hopes are high and my standards are low.

D&D 5E Play Analysis Part 2

Last time, I discussed scope, in this post I am going to talk about power level. This is a generalized list of the power levels in D&D 5th Edition.

Tier 1 (levels 1-4): Characters are effectively apprentice adventurers. They are learning the features that define them as members of particular classes, including the major choices that flavor their class features as they advance (such as a wizard’s Arcane Tradition or a fighter’s Martial Archetype). The threats they face are relatively minor, usually posing a danger to local farmsteads or villages.

Tier 2 (levels 5-10): Characters come into their own. Many spellcasters gain access to 3rd-level spells at the start of this tier, crossing a new threshold of magical power with spells such as fireball and lightning bolt. At this tier, many weapon-using classes gain the ability to make multiple attacks in one round. These characters have become important, facing dangers that threaten cities and kingdoms.

Tier 3 (levels 11-16): Characters have reached a level of power that sets them high above the ordinary populace and makes them special even among adventurers. At 11th level, many spellcasters gain access to 6th-level spells, some of which create effects previously impossible for player characters to achieve. Other characters gain features that allow them to make more attacks or do more impressive things with those attacks. These mighty adventurers often confront threats to whole regions and continents.

Tier 4 (levels 17-20): Characters achieve the pinnacle of their class features, becoming heroic (or villainous) archetypes in their own right. The fate of the world or even the fundamental order of the multiverse might hang in the balance during their adventures.

Tier 5 (levels 21+): Characters at this level can and do challenge the gods themselves.

In my game I tend towards the first two tiers. My campaigns tend to last roughly a year, which is about enough time to obtain 8th-10th level. Occasionally we peek up to tier 3, I think the highest anyone has gotten is around 16th level. In our last HackMaster campaign, the Doombringers of Cotedela, everyone was above 12th level. The big problem with this was the PC’s were for all intense and purpose the most powerful people in the realm and were among the most powerful in the world, even demi-gods thought twice about screwing with these guys and anyone who did, brought an army with them.

As a DM, I like the first two tiers, while the later two become too difficult to deal with. As a player, I would dearly love to play a Conan or Elric like character, who are just ridiculously powered for their environments. I am going to do write ups of both Elric and Conan in the near future. Elric is definitely in the epic 5th tier, he is easily a 20th level Wizard, and perhaps an 8th level Fighter, he fought gods and won. Conan fits nicely into the high end of tier 4, at 15th level fighter and 5 level Rogue. If I get really ambitious, I may do Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser as well, I think these two are excellent examples of tier 3 characters.

It is important to note, that even at the bottom of tier 2, the characters are among the elite of the world. Even veterans soldiers will generally be 0-Level Men-at-Arms, Sergeants and Captains will rarely be higher than 3rd level and even a Sergeant Major or General will be perhaps 4th level and the Captain of the Kings Royal Guard, might be 5th level. In a world were 90% of the population has 3 hit points, a 5th level anything will be a power to reckon with.

D&D 5E Play Ananlysis

One of the things I like about 5th Edition D&D is how well the rules scale both in power level and in scope of play. Power level is easy to talk about. All the classes are well balanced, none of them out shine any other particularly and this is true at virtually all levels. Scope on the other hand is is a bit more complex to talk about. When we talk about scope, I am talking about complexity of and depth of play.

Basic: At its most basic level, 5th edition is a fairly simple game, the only allowed rules are those presented in the free downloadable basic PDF. Only 4 classes and 4 races are allowed along with a very narrow field of additional background crunch. Characters are easy to roll up and virtually all of depth is provided by the players.

Intermediary: This type of game uses only the core three hardbound books. There are 9 races and 12 classes available, along with several customization options for each class. Character generation is more difficult and the different niches can be filled in interesting ways by a couple of different classes.

High: This game includes, in addition to the core books, the Players Companion, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Basically everything published by Wizards of the Coast as a D&D supplement is fair game, including Unearthed Arcana articles. The options available to players and DM’s is mind boggling. The first two levels are static and never change, at this level, something new is available every couple of months. The only things not allowed are rules produced by 3rd parties.

Very High: This is where things go nuclear. This type of game can include virtually anything available from the DM’s Guild. All manner of classes and races are available and I doubt any group could or would even want to allow all of it, but it is in the realm of possibility. Niches are almost non existent at this level as virtually any class can fill any niche with just a little customization. DM’s have to be very careful at this level as to not allow anything unbalancing or disruptive to play. Of course at this level, it probably does not matter if something is unbalancing or disruptive, because everyone will have access to things that are unbalancing or disruptive. The problem with this level of play is, it is difficult to move characters from one campaign to another.

My game falls pretty squarely in the Intermediary level, although we do poke into High here and there. I can also see the utility in running a Basic game, in fact I think at least one of my players, Bruce, sticks to the basic form of the game, for all I know, he may not even own a Players Handbook. I think most published adventure modules are designed for the Basic level of play, but the best ones scale to Very High. At the Basic level all the work to make an interesting character is on the player, a fighter is pretty much a fighter when you look at him on paper. It is the other things that define the character; Who he is, is defined by what he did, where he came from, how he got here and why it all matters to him.

Did I say D&D 5E scales well? What I meant is, it scales well upwards. A character made for a campaign at the Basic or Intermediary level can easily play in the other two categories, the reverse is not true, especially at the Very High level. Some of the variant Ranger Classes I have seen are ridiculous in their power, even at the lowest levels and don’t get me started on the various near godlike spell casters that abound. So if anyone wants to play a Werelion Witch Hunter in your game, be very wary, even if he is only 1st level.

Another big ebay score

I got this for $30, I am mostly interested in the box, since I pretty much had everything else. It was surprising though that it was actually in really good condition. Both the rule book and the module still has the glossy sheen on them. Of course the dice are not original, the seller just threw in what he had laying around, which is fine, he was not claiming otherwise. I think whoever owned this, opened it, rolled up a character, lost the dice and then put it on the shelf never to be opened again. The character sheets are still in the box, I am totally going to make Bruce play Zoltar the Dwarf Fighter with an intelligence of 7 and a dexterity of 6, AND there are some giant centipedes in the Tower of the Mad Wizard Zenopus with his name on them.

There and back again

One of the things I have been thinking about for the last couple of months is the complexity of modern roleplaying games. Bruce and I were talking about it not too long ago and he commented, if you need a computer program to make a character, your game is too complex. This of course got us to talking about the “Good Old Days” when it literally took 10 minutes to build a character. Since then I have been thinking about, what is the simplest RPG I could possibly run. I think the answer to that is probably the old Holmes Blue Basic Set published in 1977. Obviously 3rd level would be too big of a limitation, however there are a couple of expansion PDF’s out there that expand the game to 14th level and building on top of that would not be terribly difficult. I rolled this character up a few days ago. I used 4d6, take the best 3 and re-roll the lowest score.

Str: 13 Int: 13 Wis: 8 Dex: 16 Con: 11 Cha: 10
Class-Fighter Race-Human Level-1 Hit Points- 6

Chain Mail and Shield (AC 4)
Battle Axe
Backpack
Iron Ration x5
Lantern
Flask of Oil x2

He probably would make a better thief than fighter, but I figure if you do what is not expected you probably get a better character. We use to play for months with characters that looked just like this. No special abilities, no feats, no skills, we pretty much just made shit up as we went along. Of course the real problem would be talking some of our younger players into such a crude game.

Total Party Kill

Total Party Kill (TPK), the bane of every D&D group. A situation where the characters get into a situation they cannot get out of or they make a bad choice and the entire party dies a horrible screaming death.Tonight that is just what happened in my game. This is only the second TPK to occur in this group in the last 15 years. I know it is a bummer when you loose a character, I have lost more than my fair share over the years and a TPK is magnified by the fact that everyone in game is bummed. There is almost always some passive aggressive “I blame the DM!” stuff going on and I totally understand that, because at the end of the day, I could have let them win, although I always point out, I never present PC’s with unwinnable fights, in fact just the opposite, I generally rig fights in their favor.

In this case they made an error in judgement, they assumed that destroying a Dracolich’s phylactery would destroy the Dracolich, when in fact it does not, doing so just keeps it from coming back later. They also assumed the phylactery would be unprotected, all the signs were there, but they charged in anyway. Between the blasting wards and the Dracolich recovering his breath weapon, the already wounded party was overwhelmed.

Fortunately for my players, we had adopted the Protege system from HackMaster, where the players could have a secondary character who is related to the primary PC in someway. The Mentor PC can transfer up to 25% of their experience points to the Protege PC. They can also provide the Proteges with gold, equipment and even magic items. The purpose of this is so if the players character dies, and they do not have access to Raise Dead, the player does not have to start over from 1st level, they have an established Protege who can step in with ease. They all decided to activate their Protege’s, I suspect it will be interesting later down the road when they come back to seek revenge on the Dracolich for the deaths of their Mentors.

Nibiru is now headed safely away from earth

My plan to save the world from Nibiru was successful. Planet X has officially missed Earth by several million kilometers. Which I suppose on a galactic scale is a near miss. However my deflection of the planet was so successful, all it did was cause a couple extra hurricanes and of course the destruction of that farmers barn. The good news is though, Millie his cow seems to have returned to normal after the near miss with the re-entry of the Cadillac. Of course the county building commission still wants to fine me or unregistered construction in my back yard, but it was all worth it. I think this apocalypse diverting gig could become an interesting hobby.

Variant Magic Items in D&D

After playing D&D for 40 years, the stock Acme magic items have become boring. Even a very useful item like a Ring of Spell Storing is almost “Meh!” now. So I was thinking, how to make a nice variant on the Ring of Spell Storing to make it more interesting and fun magic item.

Skull of the Wizards Assistant: Although this skull appears to be some sort of undead wizard, it is actually a golem like construct. The older the construct, the more personality it will have and the very ancient ones will be eccentric and may even appear to be insane, while the very youngest ones may not even talk. However even the very oldest of these constructs will unleash the spells the owner wishes. These skulls can memorize spells from a spellbook or from a scroll, they can hold the equivalent spell slots of their designated Level. For example a skull that was built to act as a 5th level wizard will be able to hold 4 Cantrips, 4 first level, 3 second level and 2 third level spells. Once the level of the skull is set, it will never change. Each of these spells can only be used once and can only be used at the baseline level (no using a higher level slot). Once each spell is used it must be stored again, including Cantrips. Storing spells in the skulls require a long rest.

First and second level skulls are fairly common and easy to make. 10th level and above are considered artifact level magic items and many of these have become homes to Lich’s and Demon’s, or have become sentient in their own right.

Skull of the Wizards Assistant Level 10

Level 1 Skull of the Wizards Assistant

HackMaster

2001 heralded in not just the 21st century, but also my return to gaming. At this point, I had not played in 5 or 6 years. I was in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and I decided to check out what was happening in gaming, when I saw HackMaster, the cover caused a huge rush of nostalgia, I sat down and started reading it on the spot, I think I was there for 20 or 30 minutes before PezWitch found me on the floor wide eyed with glee. In mid 2002, I discovered a program called OpenRPG which allowed people to play RPG’s over the internet, it used chat to communicate, it had a die roller and it had a shared map. It was then that I put together the longest running game group of my life. In the last couple of years we have tried to get away from HackMaster and start playing other more modern and supported games. We have tried the latest version of GURPS and we have been playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition for the last several months. While I think we will continue to play D&D 5E for awhile, I definitely see us eventually going back to HM, or perhaps AD&D 1E, with some HM rules added in. One of the big reasons I like the game is it does not take itself seriously, the writers really just wanted everyone to have a good time and oddly, this is a rare thing in modern RPG’s.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

The 90’s were not good for me in the realm of gaming. I did do a bit of it, but not much. I played briefly in 1991 at Ft Gordon, when I lived in the barracks, but the game was very short lived, we did not play more than 4 or 5 times. I also ran a campaign in Germany around 1995, which lasted 6 or 7 months. We would have went longer but our unit ended up deploying to some god forsaken eastern European shit hole. This was really the only time I played AD&D 2E. I wish I had some excellent memories of the game, but I really don’t. Half the players in the game were not really into it, the other half I don’t think really cared for my DM’ing style and I think we did not particularly click as a group. I suspect everyone was just looking for something to kill the boredom. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a terrible game, it was just not a very good one either.

GURPS

In the spring of 1984, with $500 in my pocket, I packed my 1968 Dodge pickup with all of my worldly possessions and moved to Bozeman Montana. PezWitch had moved there a month earlier and where PezWitch goes, my heart follows. The first year I was there, I did not game much. In 1985 I was introduced to Steve Jackson Games (SJG) GURPS system. That year they released Man To Man, sort of GURPS Lite of its time, and two adventures Orcslayer and Harkwood. Very late in 1985 was when I was finally able to assemble a game group. The next year SJG released the full version of GURPS along with several supplements. While we still played Dungeons & Dragons, for me, the rest of the 80’s was pretty much dominated by GURPS and we played nearly everything they put out; GURPS Fantasy, Autoduel, Horror, Supers, Swashbucklers, Cyberpunk and yes even Ice Age. When we went to GenCon in 1988, I ran a hilarious GURPS game based on the Myth Adventures books. In Bozeman I was primarily the GM of the group, the group lasted 4 years before breaking up. Real life got in the way, people graduated from college, got jobs, got married. It was a great group that had a good run.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Christmas of 1979 was a banner time for playing D&D, we were out of school for 3 weeks, and there was snow up to our butts. We did what we had to do, we gamed all day and half the night, most every day, and it was glorious. I believe we slayed Tiamat and stole all of her stuff during one of these games. It was this Christmas that my mother gave me what has become one of my prized possessions, a copy of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook. It was at this point that my gaming split into two distinct groups. Bruce continued to run his game, although we paired it down to a small core group of Bruce, Ed, Chad, Darren and myself. Ed for whatever reason, referred to the group as the Vortex. I also joined a game being run by my Stepbrother Jerry. Both of these games were fun as hell and I have great memories of both groups. Bruce’s games were young and innocent, and filled with interpersonal conflicts that could only be generated by the drama queen known as Ed Badura. Jerry’s game was more mature, the plots ran deeper and tended towards the grim. I played in both groups until I moved to Bozeman in 1984.

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set

My first experience with Dungeons & Dragons was the blue box basic set. This boxed set was released in 1977 and was the first mass produced version of the game. It targeted new players and was sold in hobby stores and bookshops. When I was in High School I belonged to the Billings Parmly Library Science Fiction Club. Mostly the club was there to keep teenage nerds from causing trouble in other parts of the library, it was a containment measure of sorts. We did discuss books and movies, and at one point we even made our own home movie, it was mildly amusing for the most part. Our adult supervision, a great lady named Caroline, discovered D&D and thought it would give us something to do, so she bought this Basic Set and brought it to the next meeting. For many of us, this was the beginning a life long hobby. My friend Bruce ran the first game, he put us through the sample dungeon in the back of the rule book, The Tower of the Mad Wizard Zenopus. My character died when he rounded a corner and ran into a giant centipede. I wish I could say I was a good sport and I immediately rolled up a new character and jumped back into the game. However that was not the case, I pouted for a couple of weeks before I started playing again. By that time the rest of the group had made it out of the tower and was making their way through B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, which came with the boxed set. At that point I was hooked and I went out and bought my own set, although the box is long gone, I still have the rule book and a couple of the dice.

Edit:

I have been advised that it was not B2 The Keep on the Borderlands but rather B1 In Search of the Unknown that came with that boxed set and what Bruce ran after the Tower of the Mad Wizard Zenopus.

Converting PDF files to cbz

This is one of those things I am blogging about simply to have ready instructions for the next time I want to do it, so I do not have to go searching google again. What I want to do here is convert comic books that are in PDF format to the more generic cbz format so it can be read by apps like ComicBook Shelf, iComic and some others. The cbz format is simply each page of the comic being saved as a jpeg file, then it is all compressed into one zip file. It is simple enough that the conversion is pretty easy with just a couple of commands, I did not even have to install any extra software. Its so simple I am not even going to explain it, here is the shell script.

#!/bin/sh
mkdir tmp
pdftoppm -jpeg $1 tmp/page
zip $1.cbz tmp/*.jpg
rm tmp/*.jpg
rmdir tmp

Equifax pretty much sucks

Apparently one of the largest credit reporting companies in the world was the victim of a terrible data breach. They are publicly admitting to a couple of hundred thousand people being affected, but it will probably be more like millions when the dust settles. They managed to keep this a secret for the better part of a month, just enough time for their upper echelon of management to dump their stocks. Once the breach became public, Equifax then promptly showed the world exactly what not to do when faced with a problem of this magnitude and turned a security fiasco into a public relations fiasco as well. I have two things to say about this.

First, go freeze your credit reports. This took me about an hour to do both PezWitch and I, it also cost me a little bit of money, but it was not terrible. What this does is it stops the credit reporting companies from reporting your credit to anyone, including lenders. This means you will not be able to get a new credit card or a car loan until you unfreeze the reporting. This also stops criminals from trying to get credit cards in your name. Its does add a layer of complication to doing some things like opening checking accounts or renting an apartment, but it also provides you with an extra layer of protection. Here is the real problem with this breach. Part of the information that was leaked was Social Security Numbers, these number don’t change, so this information will be valid and usable until the day you are reported to be dead. This is not a short term thing, this is a rest of your life problem. So don’t wait, don’t put it off, just go do it now.

The second thing I have to say about this is it proves beyond doubt that most of these companies spend far too little money on securing your data. Seriously, how does one miss a hacker downloading a database, how does someone miss having terabytes, possibly petabytes of data being transferred to an IP address outside their network, worse this was going on from May through July, how do you miss someone guzzling down data for months? The answer to the question is simple, they really don’t give a shit. These companies need to get serious about this because otherwise it is going to get worse.

 

Roleplaying games and me

Normally by this time of year I have made some serious headway in designing the campaign I will be running next year. This year I seemed to be stumped as to what to do. Part of my problem is D&D 5E has not quit lived up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, its not a terrible game, but it is also not a great game and as Bruce said when we were talking about it, “5E leaves me wondering if I missed something”. So one of the things I am thinking about is what game to play.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: As I said, this is a decent game, its pros are that it is a modern game with a unified dice mechanic, it is well supported and will probably be THE D&D for another decade. The cons are its not really our game, I think Bruce and Thor feel uncomfortable with it and I know I do. While there are a lot of options for making interesting characters, the game still manages to come off as rather flat.

HackMaster 4th Edition: We played this game solidly for 12 or 13 years. The pros to this game are we know it inside and out, we have house ruled it just enough to keep it sane. The game at its core is AD&D 1E, but manages to fix about 50 things that were broken with that game. HM also does not take itself too seriously and is just a lot of fun to play. The cons are, it is out of print and we have pretty much played through all of the published modules. Another problem is HM has no game balance whatsoever, Monks and Battle Mages are broken as classes and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Advanced Dungeon & Dragons 1st Edition: This game is like wearing an old shoe for us. It is the game of our youth. It is easy to play, you can literally generate character in under 10 minutes. Even though the system has been out of print for 25 years, the books were so heavily printed that it is easy to find cheap copies on Ebay and on top of that they reprinted them in 2013 and made them available as PDF’s. The downside here, is AD&D is not a modern game at all, it is poorly structured and has many bad rules and modern younger players don’t like it very much.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: It is very unlikely we would seriously consider playing this game, but it is possible. The great thing about GURPS is the depth of characters, even in the limited environment of DF, it is still possible to push your creativity and make new and interesting character types. Steve Jackson games is about to release a boxed set for DF where they rewrote and streamlined the rules, so it is somewhere between GURPS Lite and the full blown game. The down side here is complexity and too many choices, I think players get bogged down when thinking about how to design their characters and even how to grow them over time. The other problem with GURPS is I always got the feels no one truly loves to play the game, that is a game you play because there is not another game that fills the niche you want to play in. It is sort of like using a Leatherman tool, sure its got a screwdriver and pliers built in, but it hurts your fingers to use it.

At this point I am sure my players just want me to shut the fuck up and run what I want to.

South Park

I was asked recently why I don’t like South Park. I gave the short answer at the time, “I don’t find stories about animated poop particularly funny or entertaining.”. This of course is in reference to Mr Handie, and I got the usual response, which is, “But that is only a couple of episodes, what about the other stuff?”, to which I usually respond, “It goes down hill from there.”. That is generally the end of the conversation.

The long version is, the show is basically glorifying a truly evil character who has murdered other characters on the show and sexually molested at least one other. I know Stan and Kyle are suppose to be the main characters but they are really not. The primary character is Eric Cartman, Kyle and Stan are just foils for him. They almost never win over him and even when they do occasionally win, the victory is short lived. Cartman is a complete shit bag, Kyle and Stan should just kill him and bury him in the back yard, because that would be doing humanity a favor and apparently there are no repercussions for murder in South Park. I dislike South Park for the same reason I dislike Game of Thrones, nothing good ever happens, and you cannot relate to any of the characters nor are any of them even particularly likable, even Stan and Kyle are smug little twits.

And this is without even getting into the obvious political bias of the show.

RE: Nibiru

http://www.ktvq.com/story/36293289/fireball-seen-in-the-sky-over-great-falls

So the chunk of Nibiru I busted off has hit earths atmoshere on schedule, although it is a bit further north than I anticipated. I probably didn’t use enough WD40. The upside is, the chunk did not hit anything and it looks better and better that Nibiru’s course has been corrected and should miss our solar system by several million kilometers now.

Hal and Ollie Together Again

One of the best buddy teams in comic books has always been Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Their partnership heralded in the Bronze age of Comic Books with the Hard Travelling Heroes story line of the mid 1970’s.  Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen are two sides of the same coin. Green Lantern is a cosmic cop, interested in keeping the peace and enforcing the law across the universe, he is powerful, he is disciplined and he is a symbol of what it is to be a hero. Green Arrow is a street level vigilante who is interested in serving justice and helping those in need. He is passionate, reckless, and occasionally crosses the line, but he fights from his heart. They come together because they each want to do right, whether it is out in space or down on earth, they each give the other something they need. Hal Jordan is seconded only to Superman in shear power, and his scope extends far beyond earth, Oliver Queen reminds him that there are real people with real problems that cannot be wished away with a magic ring. Oliver Queen is focused on the little guy and problems in the here and now, Hal Jordan provides him with the big picture, shows him its not just him, its not just earth needs help. You just know they spend Sunday afternoon watching Football and eating bad chilli together. Something Superman and Batman would never do.

Since the Flashpoint event, this relationship has effectively been retconed out of the continuity. They have had very few interactions and those they had were all wrong and out of character for both of them. This month with Green Arrow #30, DC has reintroduced this friendship into the DC universe. The story had many nods to their original relationship and is shaping up to be a great story. The alternative cover for the book was even done by Mike Grell, who paid homage to his own work from 40 years ago. I would love to see DC pull Hal from his current gig with the Green Lantern Corps, kick the current Green Lanterns upstairs to the Corps and let him return to doing what he is best at, being the Green Lantern for space sector 2814. I am not saying we should merge the two back together, but I would love to see yearly crossovers.

Summer is over

Once again summers end has come and once again I feel as though I should have went somewhere and done something, but I didn’t. While here in Texas the it will be hot for several weeks yet, the really hot sultry days are now behind us. As the cooler air from up north starts making its way down, we will get warm breezy days and chilly nights. As a kid I loved the dog days of summer because we were out of school and were free to roam unshackled and unsupervised. Like it or not, those were the best days of our lives, we will never have that kind of free time again until we are too old to enjoy it.

Summer of Ed the Undying

In the Browser based game Kingdom of Loathing, they have seasonal paths, which change how the game is played, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big. One of those paths is Ed the Undying. This path is nice because it is easily scripted and you can make a 3-4 day run with no resources. This makes it perfect for karma whoring, karma being the way you acquire permanent skills and such. I spent all summer running all three of my character through Ed runs just so I could accumulate skills and build them up. On my primary character Arrowroot, I made 20 runs over the summer, 18 of which were Ed the Undying, I stopped twice to make normal runs just to break the monotony. It is time to go back to more traditional runs.