Tag: Magic

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

After a week of unbridled anticipation, today was finally Dungeons and Dragons day.

Since the beginning of the semester, we were promised a three-hour class period of just playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Finally the day has arrived, and it was glorious.

Though it did begin with a bit of a time crunch.

I gathered with my friend Mimi in the Honors Center before class, as she is far more of an expert than I. Was looking to get her opinion on which pre-made character I should play for our campaign.

Instead we wound up making a brand new character in the hour. An experience I’m fairly new at, which combined wonderfully with computer troubles.

But we persevered, and on the other end came up with my amazing boy: Thokk.

Thokk is a half-orc war cleric. He wears scale armor, carries a warhammer and a light crossbow, is generally uncharismatic and speaks four languages: Common, Orc and… Two I totally decided on.

He is chaotic good with an acolyte background and serves as a member of the Eye of Justice, a religious sect following a deity named Torm who were considered heretics.

So he’s adventuring to stop evil as his divine righteousness demands, but he ain’t above causing some havoc to get the job done.

Also he’s a very good boy and I love him. Might even drop him into my novel.

However, today he was played by the denizen of death and mayhem:

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Fear the cloth.

Yeah, I used Mimikyu as my character’s stand-in miniature.

He stood alongside the other six members of my party quite well:

There was Teflonto, a wood elf ranger; Celia, a wood elf monk; Jeff, a half-orc fighter; Phil, a gnome bard; Rein, a half-elf cleric; and Silver, a human paladin.

Our Dungeon Master was the Professor, wielding an unending spring of knowledge, a set of golden dice and a lot of monsters.

Thus the adventure began.

We started in a tavern, where Jeff nearly got beheaded trying to steal from the bartender and Phil spat Mario-style fireballs from a potent whiskey.

The quest kicked off when a sheep arrived. But he was not a sheep, he was a wizard transformed by a dastardly ex-assistant with a grudge.

Mr. Evil Wizard’s mercenaries arrived in search of the former mentor-turned-livestock, and our first battle began.

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An eight-foot bear in a robe mauled Jeff as the animal-loving Teflonto was horrified by Thokk nailing a wolf to a barrel using a crossbow bolt.

That is, until he learned the animals were humanoids turned beast.

After a handy beating, the mercenary leader gave in and conferred his great sword to Silver. He escaped with a lie that the remaining wolf was his unfortunate wife.

A night’s rest later, the party made their way to the hollowed-tree tower where Mr. Evil Wizard hid.

Celia was able to use a mass sneaking fog to get the party past a gang of dice game-playing wolves, then get inside by climbing the bark and hanging a rope out.

Suspicious at the sudden fog filling his tower, Mr. Evil Wizard used his transmogrifying wand to turn his bed into a bed dragon that absolutely exists.

While hiding in the fog, Phil cast blindness on the wizard before running out, climbing the dragon, stealing the wand, climbing down and THEN escaping out the rope-strung window.

You should have seen the DM’s face when he kept failing rolls to prevent all of that.

After getting back to the ground, Silver attempted to use the wand to turn our sheep companion back into a man. Yet, even Thokk’s guidance spell could not help his luck as the poor NPC turned into a Cronenberg monster before exploding.

That drew the attention of Mr. Evil Wizard, who approached riding his bed dragon with an army of wolves and a bear.

The final battle for our lives began:

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We were fucked.

But… We were fucked with 10 minutes left. Because three hours goes by fast when you have to account for seven players.

Rein and Thokk conjured magic, ethereal weapons to strike Mr. Evil Wizard as the rest of the party threw darts and shot crossbows.

Teflonto was mauled by a pack of wolves. Silver attempted to persuade the wolves to play a dice game with him, but to no avail. The wolves kept at it and Silver just watched.

Luckily, the almighty power of Deus Ex Machina was applied by the DM — who wanted the bell to end our one-shot campaign.

The wolves and bear turned against their master with the promise of being turned back to humanoid form. As Celia, Phil (now changed into a sheep) and Rein suffered splinters from the dragon’s breath, Teflonto stood up and shot an arrow into Mr. Evil Wizard’s face.

Once he and his dragon fell, we gained access to a convenient number of transmogrifying spells. Everyone was turned back to normal.

The end.

It may have been “cheap” that we were helped out of a bottomless hole by the DM because of time constraints, but it was justified by the journey.

All of our luck from the initial tavern fight and stealth mission came crashing down in the most spectacular of ways, and we undoubtedly would have all died without the handicap.

So in my personal headcanon, I like to imagine our party fell in the search for treasure and conquering evil.

However… In reality, none of our party fell.

Which means that Thokk lives to one day return, perhaps enlightened by his experience fighting the tyrannical Mr. Evil Wizard man.

All-and-all, I would say it was a very successful class.

Definitely worth a semester’s worth of anticipation, and definitely more than encouraging for me to go back and play more D&D in the future.

The fatal flaw in Crimes of Grindelwald

The fatal flaw in Crimes of Grindelwald

With Screen Actors Guild and Visual Effects Society voting for academy awards approaching, my family has been spending the last few days watching a lot of movie screeners we’ve been accruing. Hence my (not so) little review of Aquaman last night and my intent to do some more 2018 movie discussions this weekend.

Today we watched two movies with interesting points I wanted to talk about, but Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald wound up being a much more impassioned subject than I expected. So I think I’ll save Green Book for later.

Gotta split up my writing a little bit, get some mileage for my daily writings.

I’ll be focusing more on one specific point that I feel did this film and the themes it creates a huge disservice, so the post as a whole won’t be as much of a general ‘go see or don’t see’ review. Those elements will be there, but I’ll be a bit more open with spoilers and such.

So if that concerns you, you’ve been warned.

There’s no reason to hide the fact that I’ve always been a big Harry Potter fan. Grew up reading all the books with my Mom, and we’ve seen the movies together too.

I’m not exactly that super-fan who remembers each detail about the series, as that’s a kind of person I’ve met and felt pretty inadequate next to. But I am a huge fan all the same, and I’ve been excited to see Crimes of Grindelwald.

A lot of that excitement actually stems from the fact that I quite enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie in its own right.

It had a very fun energy to examining wizards in America, rather than Britain, in the 1920’s. But that along wouldn’t have carried the movie quite as well without Eddie Redmayne taking the helm as Newt Scamander.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s always something charming about the copacetic magic of Daniel Radcliffe and his friends evolving from innocent school kids to warriors in a world-changing duel against wizard Hitler.

But after eight movies following those kids, it was pretty refreshing to watch someone new, and Redmayne was definitely something new and refreshing.

I actually don’t think I fully understood what was so nice about his character until I watched this video by the Pop Culture Detective about the actor’s more nontraditional take on a usually hyper-masculine hero archetype and how it goes to enrich the movie’s themes.

I’d highly recommend watching that, because it puts some nice perspective into what made Newt’s hijinx-filled journey through New York so fun.

Crimes of Grindelwald takes things in a vastly different direction than the original Fantastic Beasts. From the first few moments Newt is present, it’s revealed that the fun adventure in Fantastic Beasts was all in service of a young Albus Dumbledore (played fairly well by Jude Law) trying to get the protagonist involved in a fight against Johnny Depp’s older wizard Hitler, Grindelwald.

The second movie takes on a far darker tone and digs way deeper into the lore of the universe (much like the later Harry Potter stories), and this tonal shift colors the first with an interesting bit of hindsight.

Depp’s character perfectly highlights the weird and uncomfortable air this change creates. He’s sometimes doing a goofy Jack Sparrow-esque routine of glancing into windows wide-eyed, but those moments happen concurrently with scenes where he and his people are slaughtering families.

I wasn’t sure I liked the dichotomy being played out until later scenes came up that showed how his almost goofier, more relatable side makes him an enticing figure in the wizarding world, the kind of leader people will follow no matter how monstrous his means to an end are.

It plays well into the rise of fascism undercurrent to the movie (which conveniently takes place before World War II and uses the impending war as a plot device), and in the end I loved the way every character’s story weaved in.

… Except for one of them, which became such a problem for me that I’d almost say it ruined a significant chunk of the movie.

Ezra Miller’s Credence was a huge part of the first movie, as it was revealed the boy who essentially housed a demonic creature was being conditioned by Grindelwald to help destroy the government. As the Pop Culture Detective lays out in his video, part of the tragedy that made Fantastic Beasts so compelling comes when Newt cannot save Credence before he’s torn apart by magic attacks.

It was a really powerful scene…

Until you get to this movie and find out he’s somehow still alive?

Unless I missed something, there’s no explanation as to how or why Credence survived. Just that fact that Newt won’t help the government try to kill him again.

As a result of this early reveal, most of the plot lines for main characters are extremely reiterative of the first movie. They’re searching for Credence before he can be used by Grindelwald for evil.

It made me feel like the first movie mattered far less, and Miller’s portrayal of a far more darkly-influenced Credence was a less compelling compelling subject to save than the scared child of Fantastic Beasts.

My problem wasn’t that his character has developed, it’s that his character should have been dead.

Without that, it felt like so much of the world and it’s characters took too many steps back from their developments.

That was enough of a problem for me that no matter how much I enjoyed the slowly-converging plot threads, the lovely European backdrops and the beasts that made the first movie so fantastic, the overall package felt much more empty.

… Oh, and for some reason all of the advertising focuses a lot on the Deathly Hallows imagery, but I don’t believe any of that showed up in the movie. Just saying.

That’s just my opinion on what really hurt an otherwise great movie, though. But if you have a different take on the issue, feel free to let me know!

I’m always up to opening a den of discussion.