Godhood & You!

Is life getting you down? Are you not getting ahead at work? Did your girlfriend break up with you? Do you spend your days playing World of Warcraft and eating potato chips on your couch?  Now is the time to turn your life by becoming a god!

Did you know nowadays anybody can become a god? It’s not nearly as difficult as the Old Gods say. If you can change people’s minds, convince them that you’re worthy of worship, then you can be a god! It’s just that simple.

Humans naturally create the necessary magical energies required to allow a person to manipulate the very core of reality. Whenever something weird happens, it’s because a human thought it up. Your friendly, neighborhood vampire wouldn’t exist, if a human hadn’t imagined the bloodsucking, nocturnal monster in the first place. The same is true for gods. They exist because humans supply them with the worship necessary to continue their deathless existence. Despite what your priest, rabbi, or local cult leader will tell you, human belief not the gods reshape reality!

According to a market analyst working at Bell Labs, the human body produces a minimum of 10 Magic Points (MP) per day! That may not seem like a lot of magic. But when you consider that there are 7 billion people on Earth, each with his or her own beliefs and desires, our planet is overloaded with magic. (It’s only a matter of time before it is destroyed at the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012!)

So how can you harness this power? First, you need to get off the couch and Level Up! A Level 1 Player Character produces 14 MP/day, allowing him or her access to abilities beyond the comprehension of normal humans. Once you’ve got your first PC Class Level, you should use your newfound awesomness to adventure and shit. While adventuring, you’ll end up meeting like-minded people, who are also seeking Ultimate Power. You’ll also end up with a few followers of your own. (Pro Tip: If you help them out and train them, they produce more MP. A Level 1 NPC produces 12 MP/day.) Once you get enough followers, you can buy new abilities, items, and even godhood itself!

How many followers do you need before you can purchase that awesome Feat you’ve been long for? According to the great minds at Bell Labs, a PC needs 10,000 MP or about 1,000 followers to get 1 God Point (GP). God Points can be used to purchase Stat increases, rerolls, and Action Points per day. They can also be permanently spent, lowering your overall MP pool, for persistent benefits. These persistent benefits include more spell slots, increased Hit Die, a Feat, and even a Node to store your GP pool. The PC with the most GP wins.

Upon achieving godhood, a PC can reshape the universe in the way he or she sees fit when the apocalypse starts in the year 2012!

Editor’s Note: The above is a rough set of rules for determining the amount of magical energy gods and PCs have for my homebrew setting Saecularum. The math is all Yutaka’s. The in-universe flavor text is mine.

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A Clockwork Thabbashite

Good news everybody!

A deck I co-designed with Yutaka won at the local The Spoils TCG Spring Constructed Championship. Bare in mind, since the The Spoils TCG scene is so small here, it basically amounts to Yutaka and me going head to head against our own Bizarro counterparts. So the match up basically amounts to two experienced tournament level players with large collections against two casual players with limited collections.  I nearly won, but made a few tactical missteps like enabling my competitor’s only tactic! But this post isn’t about me; it’s about the deck A Clockwork Thabbashite.

AzureLoudNoise Labs

Building the Deck of THE FUTURE!

A Clockwork Thabbashite began with me essentially ending my work on Thabbashite Hustle. I eventually got the Witty Worm and Inadequate Wand cards I needed to provide more bounce to the deck. My original strategy was to use Mesmerizing Enchantress to lock up combat, while I drew tactics for debuffing and minor discarding. During our sessions playing the game, it dawned on Yutaka that Arcanist cards perfectly complement Gearsmith cards.

Around last weekend, he came over to basically co-opt the revised Arcanist portion of Thabbashite Hustle, replacing my Rogue cards with the best Gearsmith cards in his collection. Since I was deck-less at the time, I designed a Banker/Warlord deck called Apocalypse Mau. Some of the Gearsmith cards he added included bread-and-butter cards like All-Nighter, Toolbox Elf, and Luteoderm Prototype. He also added the all-important Arcanist tactic Voidal Replication without which he wouldn’t get proper cycling from his discard pile. I actually need to get a few copies of this card for my own mono-Arcanist deck.

During the course of play-testing, we discovered two things. The first thing is that Rewarding Salvage does not allow you pull any two cards from your discard pile. The second thing is that Redonkulous is an awesome Arcanist tactic! It penalizes your opponent for having a hand, and then penalizes your opponent for having characters on the board. If you opponent’s hand is big, play it from Flip Up to shave those cards from his hand. When he meets the minimum, remove one of his core characters from the game. He loses either way. Needless to say, it got our competition a bit worried about that “Purple Haze variant over there.”

Instant Win Just Add Voidal Replication

He had every right to be worried because A Clockwork Thabbashite played by Yutakabareru won the tournament!



It keeps going, and going, and going...







Resources & Faction

He's in for a wild ride!

After the tournament, it was revealed to us that items attached to characters follow the characters to whatever destination they go to on the board. So, if a Toolbox Elf with Luteoderm Prototype is returned to one’s hand by way of Inadequate Wand, the Luteoderm Prototype allows the player to pull any card from his deck into his hand as it is no longer “in play.” This when stacked with the Inadequate Wand’s ability to search for tactics allows you to pull two cards- a tactic and a non-tactic from your deck. The moral of this story: in the next version of A Clockwork Thabbashite expect to see Inadequate Wand back on the deck list!

Remember kids-  don’t leave home without a Luteoderm Prototype and an Inadequate Wand!

Editor’s Note: This is post is available at my Gloamspike’s Casino blog on Team Covenant.

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The Eight-Years Class

I was going to post a bit of my cyberpunk story, but I haven’t written it yet. I did, however, expand on my snippet from my previous post! It’s a bit more of a beginning of what I hope will be a short story to novella length adaptation of Johnny Grey, now officially called The Species.


The Eight-Years Class

The principal’s hands were shaking. His blue skin darkened to purple. He was incapable of sweating. When he was born, his gene-providers wanted to decrease the scent their offspring let off. It was decided that their son would not sweat, since bowel movements were a Government-mandated function. Instead of sweating, the principal sneezed. One shaking hand clutched his handkerchief, as another extended it toward the lady from the Council.

The Council lady squeezed a bottle of disinfectant, rubbing it into her clean white hands. Her long limbs moved gracefully under her rainbow colored dress. She grasped the principal’s hand. There were slight vibrations up her arm as the principal attempted to shake her hand. When she removed his hand from her grasp, she disinfected herself again.

Her large multicolored eyes impassively scanned the corridor. It was like every other provincial school. The same brown lockers lined the same yellow, linoleum floors. The same announcements played over the over school’s intercom, announcing the beginning and the end of classes. The same Indoctrination Materials were used by instructors with the same education, who were taught in the same Council-accredited colleges. She didn’t really see the corridor.

There was something different about this school though. Something that made this school stand out from all the rest. It wasn’t the teachers. She had audited each of their personal profiles on her tablet. There were blemishes on some of their profiles, but nothing that standard surveillance wouldn’t fix. It wasn’t the teaching materials. She had made sure that this school had the most up-to-date lesson plans sent directly from Capitol City. It wasn’t the architecture of the school. That had been approved by the Government years ago!

“I’m sure you are aware of why the Council sent me to your school, Mr.-” she looked down upon the anxious little man. He straightened his tie as she checked for his name on her tablet.

The principal gasp before launching into an explanation or an apology, the lady from the Council wasn’t too sure which one. “You-were-sent-here-to-investigate-the-statistical anomalies-in-our-Eight-Years-class,” he said exhaling.

“Mr. Mason!” the lady from the Council looked up from her tablet. “Yes that is correct, Mr. Mason.”

“I assure you, Agent Penfield,” Mr. Mason continued to speak as she made her way down the corridor to the Eight-Years class, “Provincial School #1128 offers the best learning environment in all of the Nation.” The lady from Council was still deciding if he was apologizing or not. “It’s exactly the same as the all the schools.”

The principal sneezed more the closer they got to the classroom. Council Agent Penfield disregarded his nervous tick, but found it worrisome that Mr. Mason was a defective leet. It probably explained why he had chosen to become the principal of a provincial school instead of seeking a better profession as a lawyer or a Congressman. One had to wonder what the conversation between gene-providers and genetic counselor was like the day he was conceived.

As they walked down the hallway, she considered activating her Collar master control on her own Collar, which her programmers had set for students and faculty of the school. It would teach him not to sneeze when he is nervous. She also held the authority to do it. Her long fingers slid over the silver disc around her neck. It was a natural movement for her that the little defective man didn’t notice. Her finger briefly hovered over the blue button for the master control.

“Ahhh,” the principal exclaimed. “Choo! Here we are room number #303.” He blew his nose. “The Eight-Years’ room.”

In the class room, she saw a sea of blue heads. The teacher was a blue. Her students were blue. They all had standard issue Collars and wore the school uniform. They were listening to a story about a Baptist witch that ate two good little blue children that had trusted her lies. All the members of the class seemed generally frightened of the prospect.

They all seemed to react in unison to the tale, except for three students, who sat randomly along the edges of the blue crowd. There was a red girl in a different school uniform- a recent transfer student, who was constantly touching her Collar. Agent Penfield could hear the girl squeak, indicating that like her programmers this girl was a gearhead. In the back of the class was a bored blue boy, who unlike his peers was wistfully looking outside instead of listening to the dangers of witchcraft. Finally, there was a grey boy, who raised his hand after the story was over. Penfield had never seen a grey before. It was never a color chosen by gene-providers.

“Tell me Mr. Mason,” she began, “why have you not instructed your teacher to punish those three outliers yet?”

The principal sneezed. “We’ve been having discipline problems with them since they were enrolled,” he told her, blowing into his handkerchief.  “No other school will take them, so we’re saddled with an immigrant gearhead, a stupid par, and whatever that is!”

“Who is the immigrant?” she asked Mr. Mason. She could check her tablet, but she enjoyed hearing about the students from the school’s faculty instead. “I didn’t know Blue Nation was accepting emigrants from the Kingdom of Red.”

“The Senate recently passed a bill allowing a limited quota of red nationals,” Mr. Mason finally stopped sneezing as he explained that “the majority party felt that it would look better if we permitted those seeking freedom from red oppression to live as non-citizens in our country.” The Council maintained an interest in Blue Nation politics, but Agent Penfield always lost interest in discussions over which party would win which election or what new laws had been passed.

“That girl moved here three weeks ago from a border town,” Mr. Mason continued. “Her gene-providers repair drones for the war effort.”

“Is it safe to assume that they are licensed by the World Power?” Agent Penfield asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Mason smiled. “All of their paperwork is in order.”

“My records tell me she has been sent to your office for attempting to tamper with your school’s cleaning drones.”

“Unfortunately,” Mr. Mason sighed remembering how the girl had gotten a cleaning drone to sing nonsensical songs that disturbed all of his classes. “The blue boy in the back is a par,” he offered Agent Penfield, attempting to change the topic. “He’s the son of our province’s Senator.”

“Yes,” she brought up the boy’s profile on her tablet. This school had two defective leets and she was currently speaking to one of them. “They say he has a tendency to dream in the day time.”

“I’ve been told his father that it won’t happen again!” Mr. Mason exclaimed, bowing in apology to both the Council and the Senate. “‘No offspring of mine will have dreams,’ the Senator told me during Community Day.”

“You don’t have to go any further,” Agent Penfield stopped him before he could launch into an anecdote about his brief brush with Capitol City politics.

“Tell me about the grey one,” she pointed to the boy, who was still raising his hand. The teacher had already moved on to another story, but his hand remained raised. He was merely ignored. Agent Penfield wondered how discipline had gotten so lax at this school.

“He’s a John Grey,” the principal explained. It was a name given to unknown persons. The term was rarely used, however, since the Collars tracked the world’s population. Agent Penfield remembered that the Council’s genetic design complimented the global tracking system, allowing geneticists to continue experimentation once new sub-types had moved into production and into the hands of genetic counselors, who sold these designs to the masses. An individual’s progress was watched since birth by the female gene-provider.

The classification “John Grey” should have been removed from the cultural lexicon.

The boy was continued to raise his hand expecting some kind of attention. Agent Penfield could not stand his defiance anymore. He may not know it, but he was disrupting Mr. Mason’s instructor. She swiftly activated her master control. They boy clutched his bald, grey skull.

“Thank you, Mr. Mason,” she said smiling. “Keep me informed of your statistical anomalies.”

The principal sneezed out a “yes ma’am” as the tall, white Council agent marched down the corridor, showing herself to the exit. The inspection of the Eight-Years took less time then he imagined.

The Council was nothing if not efficient.

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“Lord Snow”

A Game of Thrones hints of two great cataclysms coming to the Seven Kingdoms- winter and war. In the novel, George R.R. Martin builds suspense toward these two great events, showing each of the Noble Houses’ jockeying for the possibility to take the Iron Throne, preparing for the oncoming war. While the Night’s Watch, the protectors of Westeros are faced with the threat of winter and the monsters it brings to the land. “Lord Snow,” the third episode of Game of Thrones, brings these major threats to the world to the foreground, showing how each of the characters is preparing for their own private wars and how woefully unprepared the world is for winter.

The War for the Iron Throne

The Iron Throne is forged from hundreds of swords. It is sharp, uncomfortable, and the most coveted seat in the Seven Kingdoms. It is the ultimate symbol of power in Westeros. For Robert and Jaime it is a symbol of shared corruption, caused by disregarding one’s oaths to their late king. For Cersei and Joffrey, it is a symbol of control over the truth and citizenry of the Seven Kingdoms. For Petyr and Varys, it is merely a symbol, since they are the true power behind the throne. For Danerys, it is a goal and a reason to embrace her position as khaleesi. For all of the Seven Kingdoms, it is a reason to go to war.

The rebellion against Mad King Aerys began when he publically executed the families of his dissenting lords. He set the dissenters alight, while his Kingsguard, including Jaime Lannister were forced to watch in horror. When Ned and Robert call Jaime “kingslayer,” it is because he stabbed the king in the back.  What Jaime calls “justice” for the murder of the dissenting families, everybody else calls “revenge” or “cowardice.” As Ned enters the throne room to begin his position as the King’s Hand, he is confronted with Jaime, who is “guarding” the Iron Throne. Ned asks him about the execution, challenging him for not taking action. Yet, when action is taken in Jaime’s mind, by killing the king, Ned remarks that he “served when serving was safe.” If there is a price for the Iron Throne, it is the betrayal of one’s morals. Robert and Jaime swore oaths to serve the king, yet both betray this oath when their families are threatened, in turn, become corrupted by it. Robert asks Jaime what the mad king’s last words were before he died. They were “burn them all.” The price of power in Game of Thrones is corruption that spreads even to the most honorable men.

Joffrey is being groomed for leadership by Robert’s wife Cersei,  but mother and son each have differing opinions on the nature of power. As she nurses her son’s wound, she begins to spin a tale of how Joffrey killed the direwolf that attacked him, protecting his betrothed Sansa. Joffrey complains that this isn’t true. He admits to allowing a girl to disarm him and his child-like behavior, crying whilst his hand bled. Cersei remarks that when he is king “the truth will be what you make it.” The appearance of power is exceptionally important to her. While Joffrey doesn’t have to love his betrothed, he does have to have heirs to continue his families’ control over the Iron Throne. If Joffrey wants to “fuck painted whores” he is allowed to do so, but Sansa will still be his queen. Joffrey, unlike his mother, equates power with control. He posits that the Northerners, specifically the Starks, should supply troops to a “royal army.” If they refuse, he’ll install a new Warden of the North, one loyal to him and him alone.  Unfortunately, the North is difficult to hold, it is too wild and requires delegation by those born in the area, Cersei warns her son that “winter will come” and kill off his troops. For mother and son, power is controlling one’s image and one’s men. It is power both will gain once they have the Iron Throne

Power doesn’t just rest in the hands of the man who sits on the Iron Throne; however, it is also delegated (and hidden) in the Small Council led by the spymaster Varys and the treasurer Petyr “Littlefinger” Bealish.  The members of the Small Council are as Petyr notes they are  “the lords of small matters.” They actually run the kingdom, while Robert drinks wine, screws, hunts, and reminisces about the war, like Cersei they understand that the king can be a mere figurehead, disguising the real power behind the throne. When Catelyn arrives with the assassin’s dagger, Petyr provides her with a safehouse in one his brothels, while he contacts Ned and aides her in her investigation. He is able to arrange this meeting with the help of the spymaster, who knew that she was arriving, despite her attempts to keep a low profile. The treasurer reveals to both Catelyn and Ned that he owned the assassin’s dagger, but lost it in a bet to Tyrion Lannister, implicating the Imp and the Lannisters at the same time. The Stark’s investigation allows Petyr and Varys to gain political leverage over both the Starks and the Lannisters. As he notes that Starks have “quick tempers” and “slow minds,” he sees no reason in not taking advantage of both Ned and Catelyn’s shared paranoia about the various threats to the Iron Throne. Petyr and Varys both know the true power over the Seven Kingdoms lies in the Small Council.

Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is learning how Dothraki rule. She has already embraced their culture, dressing like a tribesman and learning to speak their language. She is also beginning to act like khaleesi, a Dothraki warrior-queen. As Jorah Mormont explains, the Dothraki don’t covet gold or property, so the notion of sitting on an Iron Throne would bore a khal to death. When they “seek tribute” from the city-states of Essos, they give the rulers a simple ultimatum- give us your slaves or die fighting us. When Dany stops the horde, searching for a wayward slave, she is confronted by the Westerosi notions of power held by her brother Viserys. He considers her to be nothing more than a bargaining chip and a “savage’s slut.” In his mind, Dany is a means to an ends, allowing him to reclaim the Iron Throne. Dothraki ways, however, win out. Dany’s guardsman forces her brother to walk with the slaves instead of riding with the tribe, relegating him to a position below that of even a commoner in his own lands. While Dany does wish to return to home to the Seven Kingdoms, she does not hold to the notions of power held by her brother, the Lannisters, the Starks, or the Small Council. If she returns to Westeros, it will be on her terms, not anybody else’s.

A war is brewing in the Seven Kingdoms and a contender to the Iron Throne can be found across the Narrow Sea. Each faction is seeking the power represented by the throne. Jaime and Robert understand the corrupting nature of power, causing one to be lax or disloyal to one’s rulers. They have already prepared for war, because war is all they really understand. Cersei and Joffrey are willing to kill their enemies,so they can seize the throne for the control it will bring them. They’re preparing for war too. Ned and Catelyn are searching for their enemies aided by Petyr and Varys, who believe that they are the true power in the realm. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is learning the Dothraki notions of power, gaining more influence over her tribe. Each side is preparing for a war that seems inevitable, seeking power for their own reasons, yet never really acknowledging that winter is coming.

The End of the Long Summer

The Long Summer is ending. The once idyllic Westeros will again become a dark, cold place. While the Houses of the Seven Kingdoms are preparing for war, they neglect an even greater threat to their homelands- the White Walkers. Arya and Bran are summer children naïve to the threats that surround them. They are used to long, warm days and bountiful harvests. They don’t know how to prepare for winter, much like how the Seven Kingdom’s don’t truly understand the threats beyond the Wall. While on the Wall, Tyrion skepticism of monsters is confronted by repeated pleas by the Night’s Watch’s leadership to send word to King’s Landing for more men and supplies. The commander, the first ranger, and the maester all take reports of White Walkers rising beyond the Wall seriously. When summer ends, the true threats to the Seven Kingdoms will reveal themselves, but will the Noble Houses be prepared?

Arya and Bran are both born during a summer that has lasted nine years. Bran’s summer involved climbing the towers of Winterfell, training to be a warrior, and playing with his siblings, while Arya’s summer involved learning how to be a lady and a wife to a noble lord. Winter has come early for both of these children. On the way to King’s Landing, Arya learns about the treachery of the Lannisters, who kill her friend for being a commoner. She blames herself for Micah’s (the butcher’s boy’s) death, despite wanting to kill Joffrey for his lies. When she is confronted by her father for her unladylike behavior at the dinner table, he explains to her that she is a “summer child,” but when winter comes she must be prepared to protect not only herself, but her family. In order to prepare her for winter, Ned arranges for Arya to learn how to use her stiletto Needle. Bran’s summer ends when he fell off the tower. Finally awake, he asks the old woman watching him to tell him a scary story. She tells him that he doesn’t understand fear. “Fear is for the winter, fear is for the Long Night” when the White Walkers ravage the countryside riding dead horses. It is this fear that inspires Ned to teach Arya swordsmanship. It is also this fear that keeps the men of the Night’s Watch awake at night.

Tyrion, however, is not afraid of monsters. He hasn’t seen the White Walkers kill Night’s Watch scouts in “Winter is Coming.” He doesn’t believe in White Walkers, giants, and other supernatural threats. The real threats to the kingdom are internal. They come from within King’s Landing itself, as each of Houses’ prepares for another civil war. To the leadership of the Night’s Watch, Tyrion is like Bran and Arya a “summer child” unprepared for when the monsters finally creep out during the Long Night. Ned remarks to Arya that is it dangerous to fight an internal war, when there are greater external threats. This advice is echoed to Tyrion by Benjen Stark, who tells him that half of the men in the Night’s Watch will die beyond the Wall from barbarians, cold, or starvation. He believes the reports about the White Walkers. Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) and Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughn) also believe that the reports are credible, having heard them not only from one of their own, but also from captive barbarians, who are fleeing to the South in advance of the undead. They ask the Imp to petition his sister for more support, men and supplies. If the Wall is unprotected, it won’t matter who sits on the Iron Throne.

War and winter are coming to the Seven Kingdoms. The White Walkers are rising, but so is a new war for the Iron Throne. As Ned watches his daughter learn sword fighting, he hears the clanging of steel and men dying. The fight for the Iron Throne continues tonight with “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things” on HBO.

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Vote on What I Write!

When I’m not watching tv, playing D&D or CCGs, or being a lazy bum, I’m generally attempting to write something. These attempts haven’t amounted to much since college, though I did unofficially participate in NaNoWrimo last year. To be quite honest, I’ve never actually completed a story! I’ve completed scenes and plot arcs, but never actually finished a story from beginning to end. In order to resolve this problem, I’ve come up with an idea. I’m going to post a snippet of one of two stories I’m working on and allow Literary Napkin’s readership to vote on which story I finish!

The first is essentially a cyberpunk Oriental Express mystery in an alternate universe where Communists rule space. It draws heavily from The Brienne Chronicles, my Eberron fanfic, which begins with classified government documents being leaked by a Wikileaks-esque group known as The People’s Library. I don’t really have a title for it, but it will involve Gibsonian cyberspace (mostly because I recently watched Tron: Legacy) and my female detective character “Elle.” So, it’s hackers and detectives during the Cold War IN SPACE!

My second is actually inspired by a dystopian scifi “satire” I wrote in high school. It also takes place in a retro-future, except in this setting there has been a gene-pocalypse, creating a world where everybody lacks hair, has strange skin colors (like blue, red, and green), and may or may not have less than five fingers. Free thought is heavily regulated by mind control collars, scientific development has grown stagnant, and the world is ruled by The Council on Genetic Development, a conglomerate of genetic engineering companies.  The original story is called “Johnny Grey,” but I’m thinking of renaming it “The Species.”

So, without further adieu, here is a snippet from “The Species.”


The Species

The Council Lady Inspects the School

The Principal’s hands were shaking. His blue skin darkened to purple. He was incapable of sweating. When he was born, his gene-providers wanted to decrease the scent their offspring let off. It was decided that, since bowel movements were a Government-mandated function, their son would not sweat. Instead of sweating, the Principal sneezed. One shaking hand clutched his handkerchief, as another extended it toward the lady from the Council.

The Council lady squeezed a bottle of disinfectant, rubbing it into her clean white hands. Her long limbs moved gracefully under her rainbow colored dress. She grasped the Principal’s hand. There were slight vibrations up her arm as the Principal attempted to shake her hand. When she removed his hand from her grasp, she disinfected herself again.

Her large multicolored eyes impassively scanned the corridor. It was like every other provincial school. The same brown lockers lined the same yellow, linoleum floors. The same announcements played over the over school’s intercom, announcing the beginning and end of classes. The same Indoctrination Materials were used by instructors with the same education, who were taught in the same Council-accredited colleges. She didn’t really see the corridor.

There was something different about this school though. Something that made this school stand out from all the rest. It wasn’t the teachers. She had audited each of their personal profiles on her tablet. There were blemishes on some of their profiles, but nothing that standard surveillance wouldn’t fix. It wasn’t the teaching materials. She had made sure that this school had the most up-to-date lesson plans sent directly from Capitol City. It wasn’t the architecture of the school. That had been approved by the Government years ago!

It was the students.

The Council had sent her here to inspect the student body of Provincial Elementary School #1128.

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“The Kingsroad”

It's finally finished!

A Song of Ice and Fire is everywhere! When I was live tweeting my first viewing of “The Kingsroad,” I got responses not only from my followers, but character accounts for Tyrion Lannister and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. George R.R Martin completed A Dance with Dragons this week, which means I’m now bound by duty to re-read the series. I’ll probably end up buying Dragons in hardcover, because I’m not going to wait for it come out in softcover. This means @nello_puddin gets her wish of me eventually writing a post comparing Game of Thrones to its literary counterpart A Game of Thrones. Penny Arcade even did a strip about spoiling the tv series for people who haven’t read the books. There’s even a Tumblr blog called My Mom Watches Game of Thrones. It’s like Shit My Dad Says, but about Game of Thrones. It’s like the summer I discovered the book series all over again- except on Twitter and all over the Internet.

Since I got a response for my “Winter is Coming” review, I’m continuing my recaps of the series with “The Kingsroad,” which aired last week. So, if you’re interested in finding out what you missed, Literary Napkin is the place to look (aside from Wikipedia) for a fan’s perspective on the series.


George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a story about perspective. In each chapter, in his books, we follow only one character has she or he views the events around him. A Game of Thrones follows Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and the better part of the Stark family, including Catelyn, Arya, Sansa, Eddard, and Bran. “Winter is Coming” excellently introduces each other their characters and their place in the world. However, we really don’t get to see the immensity of that world, or truly understand the differences between these characters. In “The Kingsroad,” we follow the characters on three journeys- the Starks on their way to King’s Landing, Dany on her way to Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki home city, and finally, Jon and Tyrion, the outsiders, to the Wall. While on these journeys the differences between the cultures and families in A Song of Ice and Fire become more pronounced and the warnings of war begin to make a bit of sense.

Westeros to Essos

Dany has already been a far longer road then any of the characters before Game of Thrones even begins. Viserys and she are exiles from their own kingdom, living across the Narrow Sea, hoping one day to reclaim the country that is their birthright. When the episode begins, we find that her road back home will take her deeper into the East. Since her marriage to Khal Drogo life has not been easy. Compared to her pampered life in Pentos and the life promised to her by her family, life in a Dothraki tribe is a difficult one.

The exiled princess is dealing with the culture shock of life and love in a Dothraki tribe. Even the simplest things that normally one would take for granted, like getting around and eating, are particularly difficult for her. Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), an exiled knight, offers her the only food tribesmen ever eat on the road- horse jerky. When they finally set up camp, the khaleesi has to be helped off her horse by Mormont and her handmaidens. At night, Drogo simply enters their tent to have sex with her with little to no communication, because of the language barrier that still separates them. The only thing keeping her going is the three dragon’s eggs she receives from Illyrio in the first episode.[1]

The differences don’t merely extend to basic drives, like eating, moving, and screwing. They’re engrained in cultural beliefs. When discussing the origins of dragons with her handmaidens, her Pentosian servant tells her that they came from the moon, which is a big dragon’s egg. Her Dothraki servants note that moon isn’t an egg, but a goddess. With this scene, the differences between East and West are reinforced.

Dany, however, is able to reconcile these two cultures by joining them in the bedroom. Until her coaching session with her Pentosian servant, Drogo has been having sex with Dany in the traditional Dothraki manner. However, her handmaiden notes, if Drogo wanted to have sex with slave, he wouldn’t have married Dany. Only by proving her dominance in the bedroom by having sex in a Western manner is Dany able to reclaim her dignity and gain Drogo’s respect.

Oh, and did I mention the dragon’s eggs?

Winterfell to King’s Landing

Back when Ned and Robert were leading the fight against Dany’s House, he went South returning to Winterfell a changed man.  Now Robert has asked him again to follow him South in order to preserve the kingdom they built. Unfortunately after Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) fall, it means breaking up the once tight-knit Stark family. It also means traveling with the Lannisters, who have shown they can be ruthless protecting their kin. While Ned, Arya, Sansa, and the better part of the House’s servants ride for King’s Landing, Catelyn, Robb, Rickon, and Bran remain in Winterfell. During this trip, the divisions between Starks and Lannisters become even more evident, forcing Catelyn and Ned to make difficult decisions for their family.

Ned is no stranger to tough decisions, but his decision to become the King’s Hand will change the lives of those left in Winterfell. With Ned gone, Robb (Richard Madden), his eldest son, is now man of the house, forced to make the decisions Ned made when he was young. Catelyn has not left Bran’s bed side, since he his fall, despite the maester’s assurance that he will survive. She is a woman losing the world around her. She fears not for her husband, telling him despite his fealty to Robert that he does have a choice and that men always say they don’t have a choice “when honor calls.” Michelle Fairley expertly plays Catelyn Stark as a devoted wife and mother, seeking to find meaning in the chaotic world. When she discovers Cersei’s hair in the tower after the attempted assassination against Bran, Catelyn’s position as matriarch is solidified in her own decision to follow Ned to King’s Landing, warning him of the Lannister threat.

The decision to move King’s Landing also directly affects those traveling with him. Sansa dreams of nothing more than to be a princess. She has been betrothed to the Robert’s son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). In order to bring Ned even closer to the fold, Robert decides in “Winter is Coming” to join their two families. Little does he know his son is a petulant, sadistic child. When Sansa and Joffrey discover Arya and a commoner practicing sword fighting with sticks, the prince attempts to “punish” the butcher’s boy by goading him into a duel with live steel! Arya defends her new friend with the help of her direwolf Nymeria. This incident, however, draws the ire of Cersei Lannister; forcing Ned to make chose his loyalties. Since Nymeria escapes into the woods, Robert’s wife will not allow the threat of another direwolf attack against her family. The king orders Lady, Sansa’s wolf, to be killed. It is in this scene that we see Sean Bean at his best! When Bean’s characters are forced to follow orders they don’t want to do, they reveal their inner emotional turmoil. On one side is Ned’s King. On the other side are his daughters. Ned follows his king’s orders, executing the wolf himself, since it is “of the North,” showing his loyalties to king, family, and tradition at the same time.

The Starks, however, are not as separated as they might seem. They’re joined by their connection with the direwolves, the sigil of their House. When Bran  is attacked, his direwolf brutally kills the assassin. When Arya protects her friend, Nymeria protects her from Joffrey’s blade. As Lady is executed, the sleeping Bran awakes, revealing his personal connection with wolf pack. Though they are separated by hundreds of miles, the decisions the Starks make in Winterfell and on the way to King’s Lady reverberate over time and distance.

The Bastard and The Imp

Tyrion Lannister is one of my favorite characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. He epitomizes the social mobility outsiders have in the world. Despite being socially shunned, there are still options for bastards and dwarves in Westeros. Despite being given on the most minimal respect, Tyrion and Jon prove themselves to be loyal not only to their respective Houses, but to a society that dismisses their presence.

On their way to the Wall, home of Westeros’ dregs, Jon and Tyrion discuss the options they have in life. The discussion begins with Jon asking Tyrion why he reads so much. Tyrion replies that while his brother Jaime has martial prowess, he has his mind. “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone,” he says, inspiring future librarians and lit majors. Since Tyrion can’t serve on the battlefield or prove his family’s honor in a tournament, he must read and learn of history and nobility, so that way he can serve as an adviser to his family. If he were born a peasant, he would have died years ago, but he is a Lannister, a member of Westeros’ nobility. As Tyrion devotes his life to learning in order to serve the Lannisters, Jon serves not only House Stark, but all of the Seven Kingdoms by taking the Black.

Jon is the son of Eddard Stark. He has lived in Winterfell his entire life. He grew up with the rest of the Stark children. In his mind, he is a Stark despite never baring the name. On their way to the Wall, Ned tells his bastard son that he still has his father’s blood. When Jon is about to leave, he even shows his love to his siblings. For Arya, who shares the outsider’s experience as a tomboy, he gives her a stiletto, which she calls “Needle.” This gift will set his little sister on the swordsman’s path, since marrying into a good family is only a secondary priority for the youngest Stark daughter. As he is preparing his horse, Robb, the eldest Stark son, embraces him, well aware that a stint at the Wall is one of the most dangerous positions in Westeros. He also visits his little brother Bran, telling him that one day, when he is well, they’ll walk the Wall together. Jon loves his family, despite the chilly reception he receives from his mother. This relationship can also be seen in Tyrion’s actions toward his siblings and their children. At the breakfast table, he jokes with his nieces about his possible adventures at the Wall. When his loyalties are questioned, he replies that he puts his family first. Both Tyrion and Jon offer their love to families, who sometimes don’t always return it.

In “The Kingsroad,” the divisions between East and West, Lannister and Stark, and outsider and mainstream are made clearer, providing the viewer with repeated warnings that these divisions are the beginnings of a new war. While they break for lunch on the road, Robert broods that “war is coming.” This statement is followed by Dany, an outsider in Dothraki culture, staring at her dragon’s eggs. Sansa and Joffrey’s betrothal reveal the divisions between Lannister and Stark. While the Stark’s humanely exact justice with their own hand, Joffrey has his bodyguard Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) kill the butcher’s boy for instigating the fight that ensues over the commoner’s honor. Even on the way to the Wall there are divisions, Benjen picks up rapists, who have chosen to take the Black over castration, causing Jon to look upon them distastefully. It is only a matter of time before these divisions lead to more violence.

Upon the Wall, Tyrion and Jon’s adventures continue in “Lord Snow” airing tonight on HBO.

[1] FORESHADOWING! That is all.

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Thabbashite Hustle

The Hustler in Thabbashite Hustle

Well since my last post detailing my initial thoughts on The Spoils TCG, I have since entered the brave new world of competitive customizable card games.  I’ve begun work on my first deck and participated in a limited draft tournament at the local game shop. I still consider myself a causal player, mostly due to my lack of resources. I have, however, learned a lot more about the game.

Ever since I played Star Wars CCG, I’ve loved deck design. It’s like character building in Dungeons and Dragons, but with more intricate working parts. After playing a few games with Yutaka with his starter kit decks, which are wonderful to learn the game with but poorly constructed for real play, I have build a deck using the few cards I have at my disposal. I’m on a budget, so the cards are used are those I hacked from the starter kit, the Arcanist and Rogue pre-constructed decks, and the cards I got from the tournament.

Recur Text is an Arcanist's Best Friend!

The original version of “Thabbashite Hustle” was built in about ninety minutes, using primarily starter and Seed One cards. The cards from this version have since been excised from the deck, though some appear in my side board. A side board is a set of spare cards you use to enhance your deck if another deck has more cards, or you have specialized defenses against specialized decks. Yutaka recommended I keep one for when I play against other constructed decks. The cards listed below are only those in the 75 card version of my deck.










Resources and Faction

I designed this deck when I noticed I had multiple copies of Roulette Wheel of DOOM!. From playing the starter decks, I liked the Rogue cards. Then I remembered other cards with the same mechanics as Roulette Wheel, specifically Lucky Bastard, which I saw in Yutaka’s collection. Since I had bought pre-constructed Rogue and Arcanist decks, I had the faction Moist Cave of the Darkpump, which allows you to see the top card on your deck. This would allow me to look at the top card of my deck early in the game, allowing me to set up for when I can use Rigged Tables to spy on my opponent’s deck. Lucky Bastard is an excellent combat card when you know both cards in the deck. When Yutaka played with my deck last weekend, he used the removal from play mechanic to remove one of the key cards in the Warlord deck he loaned me.

It’s not perfect. But a thumbnail version of this deck was created from the booster packs we were using in the draft tournament. With this version, I was able to not get in last place! This was mostly because my opponent was tired and I was able to fend off his attacks with a Mesmerizing Enchantress with a Rusty Pickaxe. The Mesmerizing Enchantress is one of my favorite defenders, since she gives you amnesty for a turn to build up your forces and set up your cards.

Micromajigs- The Bane of My Existance!

Since I originally built this deck to play against Yutaka’s Micromajig deck, I included Domain of Depravity and Harbinger of Anguish to remove pesky 1 Life Characters. Not only are these cards effective against Micromajig tokens (1 Life/1 Strength/3 Speed), but they can also be used to quickly sacrifice Ensorcelled Familiar, activating its Recur text, thus allowing you to pull a Tactic from your Discard pile. In my side board, I have Maxwell Cockswagger (yes, that is the character’s name!), who is a Micromajig killing machine!  Lugubrious Finger Trap is for those even peskier 3p1c D00dm4k3rs.

I plan on improving on the Arcanist portion of the deck, specifically using Arcanist’s ability to manipulate Tactics. If I had the resources, I’d use the Arcane Research engine described on Team Covenant. I do, however, plan on adding more Witty Worm and Wanton Wizard to this deck. I also might add more Obscene Astrologer and Otter Floss. Woadenworm Gloamspike is included in order to give my non-Flip-Up Rogue Tactics Flip-Up, allowing for better resource management and a more user-friendly Tactics suite. Once I’ve built a mono-Arcanist deck, I’ll probably be able to dial in on the exact requirements for the Thabbashites of “Thabbashite Hustle.”

This Sunday is another tournament. I think it’s one where we use the Competition Decks and a few booster packs to construct a deck. I’ll probably get more cards and test my skill against other players a bit more, so I’ll no doubt get more deck ideas. I also might be able to better describe the social aspects of CCGs a bit better, since this post is only really about my deck.

Until then remember- at Gloamspike’s Casino the house always wins and drives you insane!


Filed under Card Games, The Spoils TCG

“Winter is Coming”

It was only two bucks!

I have loudly proclaimed my dislike for book series. It might be because I followed the Dune and Ender books to the point of pointlessness. It might be because I’m a cheapskate and don’t want to tied myself down to one single narrative. It might be because I dislike slavishly following an author for years, waiting for their next book to be published. There is, however, one exception to this generally consistent philosophy on speculative fiction reading- George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series!

When I was in college, members of the University’s Gaming Group were talking about the series at the local diner. I didn’t really understand the references. I didn’t know the importance of the dire wolves or Tyrion Lannister. I simply listened as I drank my coffee, allowing it to pass into memory as yet another thing that made me uncool amongst my fellow gamers. It wasn’t like I was going to read the books anyway.

Well my love of cheap books got the best of me. At the local music/bookstore, which I frequented every week, I found a $2 softcover copy of A Game of Thrones. Since it was the summer, I really didn’t have much to read. My course load was relatively light, and I think I had just gotten off my big cyberpunk kick. I was looking for something new to read. The cover advertized that it going to be a new HBO tv series. This piqued my since I like reading books that will be or have been adapted into other media. If HBO was making a series based on these books, they must be cool! I devoured the first three books that summer![1]

Time passed, Hollywood rumors became stale, and memory became legend…


That is until Game of Thrones debuted on HBO last weekend! Since its premier, it has earned critical acclaim and high enough ratings to warrant a second season. Judging from the synopsis of the episodes on Wikipedia, I would speculate that since Game of Thrones is a close adaptation of A Game of Thrones, the second season will follow A Storm of Swords. Hopefully, they’ll title it more like the Twilight movies. Maybe something like Song of Ice and Fire: Storm of Swords… Or they could continue calling the series Game of Thrones.

I finally got to watch the first episode “Winter is Coming” this week, nearly exploding my follower’s feeds with the #GameofThrones hashtag. Unlike my Twitter recap, I’ll attempt to show some restraint in this review. As @nello_puddin noted, the fanboyism was a bit gratuitous on my part. However, I can’t help but to wonder if this is how Harry Potter, Twilight, or Lord of the Rings fans felt when they saw adaptations of their favorite books on the big screen.

As a fan, I can say, Game of Thrones is an extremely close adaptation of the book, pretty much down to the letter. While not every character is touched upon, the characters that matter are given their time to shine. A Song of Ice and Fire has an immense cast, not including the thousands of minor characters. It provides an excellent overview of the narrative for viewers who haven’t read the books, while hinting at deeper information that might inspire the viewer to read the series. “Winter is Coming” lays the groundwork for the series’ major themes, exploring the world through eyes of A Song of Ice and Fire’s major characters.

The war veterans Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon provide the viewer with hints of the show’s backstory. In A Game of Thrones, the reader learns the most of the war from Robert and Ned.  The noble, stoic patriarch Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) is appointed the King’s Hand by his brother-in-arms, King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). Sean Bean’s portrayal of Ned as a traditional family man, who is pushed into a world of courtly intrigue is straight from the book. When he executes the deserter from the Night’s Watch he tells his son Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), “Our way is the Old Way,” reinforcing the Stark’s connection with Westros’ history. The hedonistic, jolly King Robert is too busy enjoying the perks of being king to actually notice the web of betrayal around him.“Winter is Coming” offers its first hints of their shared history, when we see Robert grieving over the death of Ned’s sister, his lost love. While Robert and Ned look to the past, other characters are preparing for the future.

“Winter is Coming” lays the groundwork for the future alliances that will shape Westros by introducing the notion of arranged marriage and courtly womanhood told through the eyes of the series’ female characters. The director Tim Van Patten explicity draws parallels between Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), inter-cutting the Dany’s betrothal to Khal Drogo (Jason Mamoa) with the arrangement of Sansa’s marriage to Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson). While Sansa is still very much a young girl, a fact pointed out by Cersei Lannister (Lena Heady), who dreams being a proper princess, Dany knows that her marriage to Drogo is a means to an ends for her power-hungry brother, Viserys (Harry Lloyd). With Drogo’s tribe, the Targaryens hope to reclaim their kingdom from the Baratheons. The alliance between Stark and Baratheon will split the Stark family, while Dany’s marriage to Drogo will alter the geo-political situation of an entire continent.

In every world, there are outsiders, who find themselves separated from society because of their interests, their physical flaws, or their heritage. In “Winter is Coming,” we meet two of A Song of Ice and Fire’s major outsiders. The tomboy Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) not-so-subtly challenges the notions of courtly womanhood in Westros by being an expert marksman and hiding amongst the commoners. Arya’s story will provide a foil for Sansa and Dany, who are pushed into arranged marriages by their respective families. As the youngest girl in House Stark, she isn’t bound by any marriages or courtly etiquette. Her brother, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), is deliberately ostracized by their mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who is put-off by his bastardhood. The burden of being a bastard weighs so heavily on Jon that he asks his uncle Benjen to recruit him for the Night’s Watch, a position that would prevent him from having a family of his own and most likely lead to certain death. In a classic scene, ripped straight out of George R.R. Martin’s novel, he meets Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister, played with Shakespearean gravitas by Pete Dinklage, who challenges Jon’s notions of social position by revealing that he is just as much a “bastard in his father’s eyes” because of his height, despite being a true blooded Lannister. By existing on the fringes of society, Tyrion, Jon, and Arya allow the viewer to see parts of Westros that they wouldn’t see if the story remained inside the towers of Winterfell and King’s Landing.

As a television viewer, Game of Thrones is beautifully shot. The digital matte paintings that introduce the books’ major locations are expertly crafted. Winterfell, King’s Landing, Pentos, and the Wall are real places! Winterfell’s towers jut out of the green hills of the North, while King’s Landing red castle overlooks the bay. The few physical locations we see are well chosen, contrasting the chilly North with the warmer, Mediterranean South. The costume design is excellent. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane’s dog-shaped helmet stands out as some of the best fantasy armor working I’ve seen since Lord of the Rings. It’s clear the producers have gone out of their way to make Westros come to life. “Winter is Coming” is simply a gorgeous premiere episode.

Tonight Game of Thrones second episode “Kingsroad” airs on HBO. While I don’t have a television, I will be reviewing each episode of this series this summer. If you aren’t watching Game of Thrones, the premiere was awesome. I already convinced my friend Yutaka to watch the series just by showing him the show’s awesome opening credit sequence. If you are watching the series, go to your local bookstore and pick up the book too. Personally, I need to re-read the book series, since A Dance with Dragons is supposed to come out this year. I highly recommend Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire for summer viewing and reading.

[1] I haven’t read A Feast for Crows, because I was naively holding out for A Dance with Dragons to be published.


Filed under Books, Media, TV

Elle’s Trivia

  • While in the Alpha Centauri game, Elle is directly influenced by Veronica Mars. In Eberron Prime, Elle is actually inspired by another great detective, ICPO Inspector Zenigata from Lupin III.
  • All the Brienne sisters are named after characters in songs I have on my IPod. Elle is named after the Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby,” while Luisa is named after the Crooked Fingers’ song, “Luisa’s Bones,” which is featured in the second season episode of the spy comedy Chuck, “Chuck vs. The Dream Job.” Charlotte is one of the Rake’s dead children in the “The Rake’s Song” by the Decemberists from their album The Hazards of Love.
  • Elle’s half-orc partner Bruce ir’Caivyrne is inspired by none other than Bruce Campbell!

Wrong Elle!

  • It is completely coincidental that Kristen Bell plays a super-powered femme fatale named Elle on Heroes. I am a big Kristen Bell fan, continuing to watch that series specifically because she is on it.
  • Charlotte’s changeling partner “Molly” is inspired by the “gun moll” archetype. The two girls are the Bonnie and… Bonnie of the City of Towers.
  • Symbolism: Each of the Brienne sisters can represent the Three Progenitor Dragons. Elle’s dragonmarked House bloodline means she is closer to the Draconic Prophecy, therefore aligning her with Siberys, the Dragon Above. Luisa, who lacks a dragonmark, has a down-to-earth demeanor, which aligns her with Eberron, the Dragon Between. Finally, Charlotte, the youngest and a thief for House Tarkanan bears an aberrant dragonmark, enhancing her acrobatic abilities, allowing her to sneak into the mansions of Sharn’s rich and famous, naturally represents Khyber, the Dragon Below.
  • Elle’s surname is a play on both the last name O’Brian from the Alpha Centauri game and a reference to the hardy, female knight Brienne of Tarth in GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.
  • The Brienne Sisters’ Genealogy: In keeping with the Brienne’s lower-class background, Elle and her sisters are descendants of the Valenar elves. They may or may not have a relative, who is a member of Medani Prophets, House Medani’s Draconic Prophecy researchers. The Brienne family’s own relationship with the House is tenuous for reasons explained above.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

  • The Guitar Heroines are naturally a reference to the game Guitar Hero. They are also inspired by the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. If you don’t know Sex Bob-Omb is a Super Mario Brothers reference, your geek license is officially revoked today.
  • Charlotte Mishann Brienne is House Tarkanan’s reining Wizards & Wayfinder’s CCG champion. She plays against other gangsters in Sharn.
  • Elle in Barovia: I played Elle once as a PC in yutakabareru’s Ravenloft game. She chases and partners up with a necromancer pimp, who gets zombies to fight for his pleasure. Ironically, Strahd II would become a major historical NPC in Complete Eberron after causing the Ravenloft zombie virus to infect the Aereni elves. His current status is unknown.

Elle’s Character Sheets

Whenever I begin a new game, Elle is one of the first NPCs I ever stat out. Since her character concept is so close to my own style of play, which often involves lots of investigation followed by the inevitable Sneak Attack. Thus, she is always among the first batch of characters I use to test out a system or new concept. Below are two different builds for Eleanor Keyleth Brienne [d’ Medani]. It should be noted that while Elle is a dragonmarked character, she is always a lesser scion of her House. This is mostly due to her lower social class and the fact her sister Charlotte bares an aberrant dragonmark. In Complete Eberron, she renounces House affiliation and cannot take the “Favored in House” feat because of her allegiance to the Brelish Crown. These builds are taken from Eberron Prime, in which she is now semi-retired on Ein’s airship and Complete Eberron, where she is a spy for the Dark Lanterns. Her second iteration in Gestalt Eberron is not featured because I’m lazy and that Elle is just an improved, gestalt version of Elle, the Master Inquisitive.

Elle, the Master Inquisitive
Eberron Prime
Current Status: Semi-Retired aboard Ein’s Airship
CR 9

Female Half-Elf Rogue 8/ Master Inquisitive 1
True Neutral

Strength 8 (-1)
Dexterity 17 (+3)
Constitution 13[(+1)]/ (17) [(+4)]
Intelligence 14 (+2)
Wisdom 12 (+1)
Charisma 10 (+0)

Total Hit Points: 50

Speed: 30 feet
Armor Class: 20 = 10 +4 [studded] +3 [dexterity] +2 [shield] +1 [Amulet, natural armor]
Touch AC: 13
Flat-footed: 20 [improved uncanny dodge (no flanks)]

Initiative modifier: +7 (+4 [improved initiative])
Fortitude save: +8 (+1 [cloak of resistance])
Reflex save: +12 (+1 [cloak of resistance])
Will save: +4/+6 (+1 [cloak of resistance])
Attack (handheld): +6
Attack (unarmed): +6
Weapon Finesse: +10/+5
Attack (missile) +10/+5
Grapple check: +6

Region of Origin: Breland
Dragonmarked House: Medani [Mark of Detection]
Languages: Common Elven Gnome Orc Qabalrin

+1 Dagger [1d4 +1, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 10 ft., 1 lb., light, piercing]

+1 Throwing Manacles x20 [1d2 +1 nonlethal, crit x2, range inc. 20 ft, bludgeoning; Note: ranged touch attack, target is grappled (no threatened sqs., no Dex to AC; can take move actions) , Escape Artist DC 30, STR check DC 26, hardness 10, hp 10)]

+1 Sap [1d6 nonlethal, crit x2., 2 lb., light, bludgeoning]

+1 Rapier [1d6, crit 18-20/x2, 2 lb., one-handed, piercing]

+1 Hand Crossbow [1d4 +1, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 30 ft, 2 lb., exotic, piercing]

+1 Studded armor [light; +4 AC; max dex +5; check penalty 0; 20 lb.]+1

Buckler [shield, +2 AC; check penalty 0; 5 lb.]


Investigate Find/Analyze clues w/ Search; find clue (DC 10, +5 (disturbed), +10 (greatly disturbed)), analyze clue (DC 15, +2/day after event, +2 moderate, +5 major))
Least Dragonmark Mark of Detection (detect magic, 2/day)
Weapon Finesse
Improved Initiative
Exotic Weapon Prof.* Weapon: Throwing Manacles (Note: Character feat.)


Bluff +5
Decipher Script +7
Diplomacy+ 17 (+2 [half-elf] +2 [bluff] +2 [sense motive])
Disable Device +15 (+2 [thieves tools])
Gather Information +16 (+2[half-elf] +2 [know local])
Knowledge (local) +7
Listen Wis +8 (+1 [half-elf])
Move Silently +8 (+5 [boots of elvenkind])
Open Lock +16 (+2 [theives tools])
Search +15/+20/+24 +1 [half-elf] ((+5 [googles of minute seeing]) (+4 [Investigate]))
Sense Motive +13
Spot +13 (+1 [half-elf] +2 [dragonmark])
Use Rope +14


1) Cure Light Wounds potion x8
2) MW Thieves Tools
3) MW Manacles x10 (DC 35 Escape Artist, DC 28 STR, hardness 10, hp 10)
4) Amulet of Health (+4) & Natural Armor (+1)
5) Note from PCs (d’Mir Gang’s sigil)
6) Goggles of Minute Seeing
7) Inquisitive’s Kit
8 ) Elixir of Truth (x2)
9) Boots of Elvenkind
10) Cloak of Resistance +1
11) Circle of Sound (message ring, Elle’s Party)
12) Misc. adventuring gear (rope, bedroll, rations, cigarettes, etc.)

Elle, the Spymaster
Complete Eberron
Current Status: A Mission in Newthrone, Q’Barra
CR 5

Female Half-ElfRogue 5
True Neutral

Strength 8 (-1)
Dexterity 16 (+3)
Constitution 13 (+1)
Intelligence 14 (+2)
Wisdom 12 (+1)
Charisma 10 (+0)

Total Hit Points: 26

Speed: 30 feet
Armor Class: 17 = 10 +3 [studded] +3 [dexterity] +1 [natural armor]
Touch AC: 13
Flat-footed: 17 [uncanny dodge]

Initiative modifier:+3
Fortitude save: +2
Reflex save: +7
Will save: +2
Attack (handheld): +2
Attack (unarmed): +2
Weapon Finesse: +7
Attack (missile): +7
Grapple check: +2

Region of Origin: Breland
Dragonmarked House: Medani [Mark of Detection]
Languages: Common Elven Goblin Orc

MW Dagger [1d4-1, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 10 ft., 1 lb., light, piercing]
MW Rapier [1d6-1, crit 18-20/x2, 2 lb., one-handed, piercing]
MW Hand Crossbow [1d4, 19-20/x2, range incr 30 ft., 2 lb., piercing]
MW Studded armor [light; +3 AC; max dex +5; check penalty 0; 20 lb.]


Least Dragonmark: Mark of Detection (detect magic, 2/day)
Weapon Finesse


Bluff +8

Diplomacy +12 (+2 [half-elf] +2 [bluff] +2 [sense motive])

Disable Device +12 (+2 [thieves tools])

Disguise +10 (+2 [disguise kit])

Forgery +8 (+2 [forgery kit])

Gather Info. +7 (+2 [half-elf])

Listen Wis +7 (+1 [half-elf])

Open Lock +11 (+2 [thieves tools])

Search +11/+16 (+1 [half-elf] (+5 [goggles of minute seeing]))

Sense Motive +9

Sleight of Hand +11 (+2 [bluff])

Spot +12 (+1 [half-elf] +2 [dragonmark])


1) Dark Lantern Communicator/Scrying Watch
2) Googles of Minute Seeing
3) Amulet of Natural Armor +1
4) MW Thieves Tools
5) Forgery Kit
6) Disguise Kit
7) Escape Panic Button
8 ) Cure Light Wounds potion (x3)
9) Elixer of Truth (x3)

The character sheets were created using the Eberron Character Generator.

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Filed under Dramatis Personae, Dungeons & Dragons, Literary (Napkin) Classics, Series, Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Anti-Magic Field

I haven’t played a customizable card game since elementary school. In those days, I was on a major Star Wars kick, so my aunt bought me the starter kit for the Star Wars CCG by Decipher. It was never as popular as Magic: The Gathering at the local gaming shop. The rules were extremely complex. They were so complex I read obsessively read the glossary[1] on family outings. Unfortunately, I found nobody who shared my love of the game. My interest in CCGs faded. I stopped collecting Star Wars CCG cards. It wasn’t until last weekend, when my friend Yutaka introduced me to The Spoils TCG, that I played another CCG.

This is not to say that I haven’t tried to get back into playing CCGs! When we were living together, Saiaix attempted to convince to Yutaka and I to play the Legend of Five Rings CCG. I bought a Scorpion starter deck after reading the rules in one of the many spare decks my friend bought for the group. On the whole, I liked the narrative structure and emphasis on character and location, which reminded of the Star Wars CCG. I also liked that there was a multiplayer option, allowing Yutaka, Saiaix, and myself to play simultaneously. We never got to play before moving out of our rental house. Now my Scorpion deck remains unused like my other CCG cards.

I even attempted to rediscover Decipher’s Star Wars CCG online as a reaction to Saiaix’s renewed interest in Magic, which remains popular at the local gaming shop. There is a small online community of Star Wars CCG players, who, after Lucasfilm discontinued the line, started creating virtual cards. They updated and revised the rules, working out a few of the kinks in Decipher’s rules set. They even made a program that allows you to play against other players over the net, using the full library of available cards!  I read through rules, but never got to play online. My Bounty Hunter deck remains untested.

In a story reminiscent to how I began playing Minecraft, Yutaka called me Sunday night, telling me he wanted to show me a new game. Since I don’t do much anything on weekends, I invited him over. When he arrived, he showed me his massive collection of The Spoils TCG cards. He found out about the game when he was googling “a series of tubes.” After reading through the rules, Yutaka mentioned that the two features of the game he liked the most were how it handled stack order,[2] which allowed for any player to respond at any time with nearly any card, and the fact it lacked clearly defined turn phases.[3] The game is, therefore exceedingly open-ended and easier to learn than most CCGs. Since I’m a bit of a tight wad, he also mentioned that it is much, much cheaper than Magic.[4] On the whole, the rules are reminiscent to Magic, but far more streamlined.

The world of The Spoils is not meant for children!  One thing that puts me off playing CCGs is the prospect of playing against elementary school children when I’m a college graduate in my mid-20’s. (It’s kind of embarrassing.) Luridia is well… lurid. It’s a corrupt, violent place where bureaucats eat babies, military commanders abuse their soldiers, and wizards summon Lovecraftian horrors. There are also l337-speaking, mecha-building 3lfs. It’s a world that you would get if you locked Keith Baker, Tim Burton, and Frank Miller in a room with lots of LSD for a night. The result is a hilariously dark world that no self-respecting parent would allow his or her child to play in.

Between the ease of play, the well priced cards, and hilarious game setting, I may have found a CCG I can play with my Gaming Group. Hopefully between the three of us, we’ll come up with interesting decks and strategies to actually warrant continued coverage of this game. I’m currently considering what kind of deck I want to build. So, dear readers, expect Literary Napkin to include CCGs to its gaming repertoire.

Best of all, it’s not Magic!

[1] This may explain my interest in D&D rules.

[2] The priority each played card has in the game. Stack order is essentially a list for how actions are played out.

[3] Turn phases are common in all the CCGs I’ve mentioned so far, except for The Spoils TCG.

[4] A Magic booster box costs $100 USD. A The Spoils booster box costs about $30-50 USD.

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Filed under Card Games, The Spoils TCG