A Holiday Shopping Guide Pt 2

We took care of Part One, and now it’s time for Part Two!!  Not much time left to shop for Christmas, and if you’re ordering online, you’d best do it fast or you’re going to end up paying as much for shipping as the gift itself to get it on time!

Here’ a look at a few more things that will make that Geek on your holiday shopping list squee with joy.

Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters is truly a work of mastery. Pulled together by the wonderful fellows over at Gnome Stew, this 310 page book is one amazing book that will serve your tabletop gaming needs for years to come.  Each adventure plot is completely system neutral, meaning you can plug the themes and ideas in to just about anything.  Not only is this a great thing to read cover-to-cover, it’s great to have displayed proudly on the gaming shelf.  Purchase for $25 on Engine Publishing.

This little lovely is a white Xbox 360 Christmas ornament.  With Hallmark making a killing on Christmas ornaments, why not support a smaller seller and get something a little more personal for your resident video gamer.  After all, I know I’d be a proud Gamer to have this adorn my tree. Check out the Etsy Shop here.

“Keep Calm” is probably the classiest internet meme I’ve ever seen, and this little lovely will set you back between $11 and $17 (minus the frame) on Queen Spoof’s Etsy.  With loads of options to choose from, I think this is my favorite.  I’d like it in Brick or Clay to put in my entryway, thanks. ;)

This ice cube gives your drinks an extra nerdy flair!  Just be careful not to set up a full Tetris line, or you’ll lose all the ice!  A perfect stocking stuffer at only $7, you can find the Iceblox ice cube tray over at Think Geek.

The Mandalorians are pretty much the baddest of the bade dudes in the universe.  Yeah, they’re bad enough dudes to rescue the President.  But will they?  That’s another question entirely.  For the Wo-mando on your Christmas list, it doesn’t get much better than this adorable pj set from Her Universe.  In fact, just about anything from Her Universe would make a wonderful gift.  It’s like a treasure chest in an internet full of “unisex” and “manwear”.  But this pretty much takes the cake.  Purchase at Her Universe for $35.

Beer and Pretzels for the Uninitiated

“Beer and Pretzels” is the term often given to games that are fairly silly and easy to grasp.  They’re usually a great way to introduce people to gaming because they’re really fun and not very intimidating.  I mean honestly, for someone who doesn’t really have the desire to learn how to roleplay, a Dungeons and Dragons rulebook is an extremely frightening thing with all the numbers and terms and dice and math.

So for my first ever experiment in the GM project, I’ll be working with a group of unsuspecting (okay, maybe slightly suspecting) women who haven’t roleplayed before.  Luckily, I’ll have one in the group who has roleplayed and enjoys it, which I’m hoping eases the rest of the group into things nice and gently.

And what game am I choosing to introduce these attendees of my bachelorette party to the world of roleplaying?

Kobolds Ate My Baby is a small, hilarious roleplaying game designed by an independent publisher/designer called 9th Level Games based in Pennsylvania.  The game runs on what they call the BEER Engine (after the stats used to make up your character – Brawn, Ego, Extraneous, and Reflexes) and provides a lot of fast-paced absolutely hilarious pandemonium.  Players take on the role of a fuzzy creature (a Kobold) with a mouth full of teeth and a body that is almost 90% stomach.  The point of the game is really to collect as much food (and babies are the most delicious of all Kobold delicacies) and return it to the great King Torg (all hail King Torg).

So I hope to bring a few new girls into the world of gaming through this fun little game.  I’ve got my map and my plans all ready to go.  Now I just need to finish brushing up on all the rules and prepare to introduce these girls to gaming.

Wish me luck~

Show Your Support

When Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver came out many months ago now, the English ROMs (a copy of a game playable on a computer with the aid of an emulator) were everywhere about a week before you could buy a physical copy of the game in the United States.  Someone I knew was playing on said ROMs.  My best girlfriend and I were determined not to give in to the temptation of playing the highly anticipated game before we could have our physical copies.

This sort of story isn’t odd today.  Games, anime, software, music… it’s all available for download for free in tons of corners of the internet.  And thousands and thousands of people download it for free every day.  And when that content is downloaded for free, the industry suffers.

People say it doesn’t make that much of a difference — that the downloads are a drop in the bucket for these giant celebrities and whatnot.  Well, this might be a decent argument for huge musical artists or even American movie stars, but that argument doesn’t hold any water when it comes to anime and gaming — especially anime and tabletop RPGs.  The people who work in these industries don’t make much money.  In fact, most animators in Japan make barely enough to get by.  Writers for tabletop RPGs are often freelancers, and even those that aren’t don’t make a ton of money.  These people are working very hard every day to make these things gamers and otaku consume.

When one person doesn’t pay for that product, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.  But when tons and tons of people stop paying for the products, the industry starts to fall apart.  The anime industry in America today is much smaller and crippled compared to where it was ten years ago at the start of the new millennium.  Many licencing companies in America have shut down.  Manga licencing companies are also shutting down at an alarming rate, and those that remain are cutting down on their titles to help stem off losses.

Now, I know I’m talking a lot about anime, but that’s because the results of pirating are so readily seen in that industry.  But if this trend continues in the gaming industry as well, similar results will start showing.  The cracks will become ravines, and the industry will crumble.

If the industry crumbles, there won’t be new games or anime for you to consume.  Period.

I hear lots of excuses for why people don’t pay for their anime or games.  I took care of the “it doesn’t really hurt anyone” above.  But I also hear “it’s too expensive” a lot as well.

If that’s the case, then you need to choose where you’re supporting wisely.  If you can’t afford every new game that comes out in a month, choose the one that’s most important to you and buy that.

In fact, here’s a list of ways to afford your gaming or anime habits legally:

  • Purchase a Gamefly account.  For about $20 a month, you can play as many games as you want.  They mail the games out to you much like Netflix does with movies.  You can play as many games for $20 as you can play during the month.  If you find a game you really like, you can buy it through Gamefly.
  • Speaking of, Purchase a Netflix account.  Netflix has a SURPRISING amount of anime, and with the Instant Stream features, you can watch some on your computer or TV (if you have an Xbox or other way to stream Netflix to your TV) just as fast as if you were illegally streaming online.
  • Buy used games.  Used games often come at a fraction of the cost, and are just as good.  If you can wait a little bit for the new title, or you’re looking for a game that’s a bit older, Used or Pre-owned is a great way to go.
  • Borrow from friends.  If you have gamer friends or friends who watch anime, share the wealth.  You can talk it over and if there are a couple games coming out you really want, each of you can buy one of them.  After all, it’s hard to play two games at once.  If you want to watch a new series of anime, talk to your friends first and see what they can lend you before you head to the internet to stream or torrent.
  • Look for discounts online.  There are lots of online retailers (Like eBay, Amazon, and RightStuff!) that sell anime for very reasonable prices.
  • Purchase legal PDFs.  If you can’t shell out for a physical hardcover copy of a tabletop RPG book, you can find legal PDFs for purchase on websites like Drive-Through Gaming.
  • Watch anime through Legal streams, such as on CrunchyRoll and Funimation.

But, you may be asking, is it ever okay to download something for free?  In my opinion, sometimes it is okay.  For instance.  I own a Nintendo64 and a copy of Ocarina of Time.  However, I can’t take those things with me everywhere I go.  So I also have an N64 emulator and Ocarina of Time on my computer.  (It’s fun to be able to play while I’m waiting for class to start or something.)  Also, if you own a hardcover copy of a gaming book, I also don’t see anything wrong with also having PDF copies, so long as you own the physical media.  Same goes for anime — if you have legally purchased the DVDs, it’s okay to have the files on your computer in addition to on the DVDs at home.

Fansubbing is also alright, to an extent.  When an anime is released in Japan and hasn’t been licensed in the United States yet, fansubbing can help to create an active fanbase in America, which shows American licensing companies that the anime is popular enough to do well in the states.  The ultimate goal of fabsubs should be to get the anime licensed in America, not to cripple the money those companies are trying to make to recoop the fees they incurred through the licensing process.

The important thing for fansubbing is to take down the streams when the anime has been licensed in America.

So you’ll notice me trying to aid in the cause to support the industries that I someday hope to be working in on the blog.  Whenever I review something, I’ll be linking to places where the item can be purchased or watched (in the case of Netflix).  If the game can be rented, I’ll provide a link to Gamefly.  I will not ever provide links to torrents or illegal streams.  If there are ever links to fansubs, they will only be for unlicensed anime.

I hope that you all will raise your Nerd flag proudly and support the industries whose products you consume.  Someone worked hard to create that game you’re playing, that anime you’re watching, that book you’re reading.  It’s only right that they be compensated for the work they’ve done.

More Love for Your Audio Receptors

Welcome to the second part of podcasts I listen to!  Previously, I brought you a large chunk of the podcasts I have found to be a cut above the rest when dealing with the geek and nerd realms that Hot Pink Joysticks excels in dabbling in.  And considering I’ve been doing my research for months, wading through hours upon hours of podcasts, looking for the ones to really bring out their A games, I’ve come up with far more podcasts than would fit in one, reasonable sized post.  So instead of assailing your poor eyeballs with a one, long, massive post, I’ve split it up into two more manageable posts.

Anime Addicts Anonymous (Website)

Hosts “Chiaki” and “Mistugi”, joined by a rotating mix of “Kimiko,” “Hatake,” and “Roukou,” bring a fairly regular dose of tolerable anime goodness.  In fact, after my initial discovery of the Anime World Order podcast (detailed in the previous post), I’ve found that I often prefer the views of these anonymous hosts.  Continually discussing current anime while also reviewing years of backlogged “retro” anime, they also bring news tidbits that are always relevant and interesting!  (And the female voices don’t sound like bad loli impersonations.)  The reviews are sound, and while the cast is usually fairly adult in nature (there tends to be some graphic discussion), it’s a refreshing breath of air from neko girls screaming “KAWAII DESU” over and over in my ears.

ANNCast (Website)

ANNCast is the podcast put on by some of the staff at the Anime News Network.  ANNCast updates more frequently than the other two anime podcasts I listen to, and their content is top of the line.  Zac and Justin spend a few minutes off track every episode, but it brings a certain amount of charm to the cast.  These two have a deep amount of knowledge and understanding about the anime world and don’t pull any punches when it comes to honest opinions and the truthful news.  While this cast is a little more news-oriented than other casts, it’s definitely worth it.  Insightful reviews and top-notch reporting await you from the fellows over at ANNCast.

Deck Construct (Website)

What?!  A Magic: The Gathering podcast!  YES!  Deck Construct is a nice look at different trends within the game of Magic: The Gathering including typical deck set-ups as well as interesting ways to pull things off.  Alex hosts the show with a sense of ease and focus, covering current events in the M:TG world and many other topics revolving around the five-colored mana-pool.

Icosahedrophilia (Website)

Icosahedrophilia (say that five times fast) is a real-play podcast.  What this means essentially is that the hosts are all actually playing a game.  In Icosahedrophila’s case, it’s Dungeons and Dragons, 4th Edition.  The group meets on an almost weekly basis, and the casts come up very regularly.  It’s nice to “see” some real play, and listening to their adventures can really provide a springboard for your own games and characters.

Meanwhile… (Website)

Meanwhile is a SUPERGAMINGPODCAST.  Literally.  Meanwhile deals with all things roleplaying as superheroes.  MostlyJoe comes to you on a not-so-regular basis now, and when he does, he almost always brings a huge guest with him.  How he manages to get these guys on his cast is still a mystery to me, but I’m glad he does.  With talks of every system under the sun about super heroes, this cast is well worth the listen.

Minis Mayhem (Website)

I love Star Wars Miniatures.  And GM Brev and GM Teny also love Miniatures.  Even though the franchise has pittered away, this podcast is still running strong on the D20 Radio network.  Each week, they come to you with new ideas for squads and a host of other things.  I know they’ve cleared up some of my rules questions, and I’m sure they can help with any you have.  A very approachable podcast, GMs Brev and Teny don’t fall prey to using a million abbreviations and incomprehensible in-speak when discussing this exciting game — which is a welcome relief for anyone who doesn’t know every square inch of the rulebook.

The Minus World (Website)

While this cast hasn’t updated in some time, I haven’t given up hope yet.  Host Jake talks about video games and all such things.  I don’t listen to many video game podcasts, but I can tolerate this one.  ^_^  It’s similar to the problems I had looking for a good anime podcast, except in this case, I wasn’t finding neko personalities, I was finding intolerable fanboys.  Thankfully, The Minus World avoids the fanboy trap and instead provides quality podcasts on a broad topic.  This cast also belongs to the D20 Radio family.

The Power Source (Website)

This is a Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition podcast dealing with a lot of crunch and good times.  Jared and Ted explore things like Dungeons and Dragons related news as well as things being released on D&D Insider.  It’s a very good podcast with a number of entertaining segments, including Flurry of Blows, which is sort of an interactive segment that really makes Jared and Ted very accessible as hosts.  Fantastic quality values are in every episode, which is to be expected of a cast that boasts the D20 Radio family name.

Radio Free Hommlet (Website)

Coming to you on beam of radiant light — it’s Radio Free Hommlet!!  There are FOUR hosts for this podcast, and they are as follows: DM David, DM Kate, DM Tim, and DM Jackson.  This cast is very, VERY crunchy in nature, meaning that it focuses a lot on rules, ways to work with rules and powers, and the other number-related aspects of the game.  That game is specifically Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.  They cover some news, but their main feature is The Map Room, a segment that they dedicate to a single, specific Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition topic and delve into very deeply.  It’s that deep discussion that really draws me in.  I hate to listen to something that ends up being so broad it becomes unusable.  Radio Free Hommlet is great at getting elbow-deep in whatever they’re talking about, and they make no bones about it!  (These folks are also part of the D20 Radio Network.)

Roll for Initiative (Website)

Does anyone out there still play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons?  DMs Vincent, Jayson, and Nick from the D20 Radio family do!  This podcast is an absolute necessity for anyone who still plays first edition Dungeons and Dragons.  With talk on rules and creatures every week, the boys bring you vital information on this very retro game.  However, I listen to the cast very regularly, despite having never played a game of AD&D in my life.  They talk about things that are extremely useful to players of any Dungeons and Dragons game — including topics on playing interesting characters and one of my favorite segments — Table Manners.

~~~~~

So that’s about all the podcasts I listen to regularly!  I hope you’ve found something somewhere in there that tickles your fancy.  Go out there and listen to some podcasts!  You’ll be glad you did!

Companion Cubes and Spock and Zelda – Oh My!

WELCOME!  Today is a brand new day and it happens to be a Fangirl Friday!  Now, usually, I’ll try to choose one fandom to squee over on these days, but today… I was poking around Etsy and decided to search for cell phone charms.

I did a post on cell phone charms a while back, but it was more… almost informational.  Since that post, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the cute little buggers.  You can personalize almost anything with these charms — not just cell phones.  Handheld gaming systems (like the DS and PSP) have a place to hook them, you can attach them to zippers on bags or clothes, you can clip them on purse straps or keyrings.  I’m even using a bunch of them on my bouquets for the wedding!

So today, I bring you fourteen cell phone charms in thirteen images from twelve sellers on Etsy.  In fact, we’ll sort of view these as the twelve kingdoms of fandom, because I believe there are twelve fandoms represented here as well!


Cyathula’s Shop

Here we see Calcifer from the Miyazaki film – Howl’s Moving Castle.  I LOVE the detailing in this, and it captures Calcifer’s personality perfectly.  Look at the etching in the wood and the little bits of lighter orange along his “feet” and “hands”.  He is absolutely precious, and Cyathula did a fantastic job on him!


Until It Ends Studios

This little mushroom is similar to the Poison mushrooms in the Mario games.  Until It Ends studios did a crazy-good job on this little mushroom.  The spots are perfectly round and the paints settle perfectly on the mushroom’s head.  And the best part?  The shop offers these charms in EVERY COLOR OF THE RAINBOW!  The obvious of red and green are available, as well as blues, yellows, and even orange!  I think I’m in love.


Ikitzo’s Shop

Now, I could have put up ten or fifteen images of cell phone charms from Ikitzo.  However, I didn’t want to fill up the entire post with her amazing creations, so I whittled them down to these two.  (Which is cheating just a little, considering one of the images features two charms.)  On the top, we have Spock from the science fiction series Star Trek in all his Vulcan, blushing glory.  And on the bottom are my two favorite video game elves, Zelda and Link from the Legend of Zelda game series.  Just look at the detail on these!  Spoc has some serious eyebrows AND the proper insignia on his blue shirt.  Zelda is wearing earrings and a lovely gold headpiece while Link holds a tiny polymer sword and an adorable shield!  Check this shop out for more, including Avatar: The Last Airbender!


Akaii Designs

Portal was a video game to change the gaming experience.  It was a huge success and has garnered almost a cult-like following.  I still remember at my small, college Convention, we had signs of cake with arrows pointing nowhere, informing us that the cake was a lie.  However, this adorable Weighted Companion Cube charm is far from being a lie and can be purchased from Akaii’s shop!  Just make sure you don’t incinerate it.  It is your friend, after all…


Angry Owl

When you’re already the very best, why not show it off?  The Angry Owl shop has this perfect set of Pokemon Badges from the Kanto age of Pokemon.  (Also known to many as the Only age of Pokemon, or the Golden Age, but they’re just crabby old farts.)  The detail on these charms is really impressive for the Kanto badges, and I especially love the Soul Badge (the little pink heart).  Head on over to the shop and show off your mad training skills!


Mooglet P. Bear’s Fantasmogoric Shop O’ Wonders

Who remembers Animal Crossing?  Perhaps one of the best games from the Gamecube era (at least in my opinion), I spent hours playing my copy of Animal Crossing.  And this little charm is absolutely precious.  Fashioned after one of the fossils from the Animal Crossing game, it has already been cleaned off of the dirt from the dig.  The professional, perfect spiral and tiny star and dot are made from a glow-in-the-dark material.  The details are just stunning.  Notice the tiny speckles in the blue-purple background, and that TINY little bell added for a bit of extra oomph.  You’d best snap this one up before I do!


Angie’s Store

I squee over Harry Potter all the time.  In fact, there are really only a few things out there that I love as much as Harry Potter — Ben being one of them.  (Hello Kitty being another…)  Because of that, I was super excited to find this perfect little charm of a wizard’s hat with a “WWHD” plaque.  WWHD is a reminder to ask yourself “What Would Harry Do?”  The detailing and craftsmanship on this charm is absolutely wonderful, and when clipped to your DS or cell phone, you’ll always have that magical reminder of the world of Harry Potter.


Sonaxiom’s Shop

This adorable little kitten is a sort of obscure figure from the insanely popular and insanely adorable anime, Lucky Star.  This little charm has the most precious face I’ve ever seen, and the tail curves around so perfectly.  What is perhaps most impressive is that the ears and face are all so nice and even.  I’d be afraid to have this in my collection because I might huggle it to death!


Supernova Designs

I KNEW there was a good use for those tiny dice I’ve been collecting!  I actually have this set of blue dice floating around my giant dice bag, and I would have never thought to turn one into a precious cell phone charm.  This charm is absolutely amazing for any gamer, male or female.  Blue is such a gender neutral color now that this would make a perfect gift for any Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars Saga, or World of Darkness player!  Clip it to your phone!  Or better yet, to your dice bag!!


Yeller Crakka’s Charm Kiosk

Yeller Crakka has SO many adorable charms including Triforce charms and potion bottles and fairies and Mario stars and Pacman… But when I saw this Metroid charm, I fell in love.  And if you’re a little nervous about having this pint-sized protector outside and close to your hands, it is also offered contained in a perfect little bottle!  No missing fingers there!


Panduhmonium

Panduhmonium’s shop is full of adorable things.  But this little charm is absolutely squee-worthy.  It’s simply called an “angel wing” on the shop, but when I saw it, I was reminded of the little wings that one of the female characters from Kanon wears on her backpack.  It’s cute and not so nerdy that you’d be instantly found out (unless the person telling on you has also watched Kanon)!


Pomegranate PANIC!

Last but not least, this itty bitty charm from Pomegranate Panic.  The detail on this tiny charm is absolutely astounding, from the analog stick to the directional pad to the perfectly colored spread of A-B-X-Y buttons!  The detail work is so unbelievable because of how small this charm really is.  Plus, it’s an Xbox controller.  How cool is that?!

Well, here’s hoping you found a new seller to Heart on Etsy, or perhaps even a new charm to snap up before I get some more paychecks to get them before you!  So this ends the first of the new Fangirl Fridays, and I promise, next time, I’ll focus in on ONE fandom!

For Your Earstalk Love

This week, I’m bringing you a post I’ve said I was going to do for a little over a month now. >.>  I know it’s been a long dry spell here on Hot Pink Joysticks, but that’s hopefully going to start changing.  Now that I can finally taste the sweet relief of summer break, I’ve got time enough to get this lovely post up.

Today, I’ll be talking to you about podcasts.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, podcasts are to your iPod what radio shows are to your radio.  Podcasts are shows that range anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours in length and can be on absolutely any topic.  There are lots of Podcasts out there about different interests and hobbies, and of course, here at Hot Pink Joysticks, we only care about those interests and hobbies that tickle the nerdy underbelly of society.

After a number of months, I’ve finally come down to a list of podcasts that I listen to very frequently and thoroughly enjoy.  Be forewarned, however, if you stray from this list that I have provided you, you will be in the same boat I was for months.  For every well-produced, focused, and insightful podcast out there, there are at least ten podcasts that contain terrible production values, annoying hosts, bad information, and rancid stereotypes.  But when you find the few that are worth waiting for new episodes with bated breath, you’ll know that the weeks of wading through iTunes, knee-deep in wannabe “Yahtzee” Crowshaw, prepubescent voices was worth it.  (My fiancee was kind enough just now to inform me that he likes “Yahtzee” Crowshaw.  If you are in that ridiculous mindset, please fill that name slot in with another name, though I will keep my opinion that Mr. “Yahtzee” is a one-trick, blue-smoke pony.)

And now, without further ado, here’s the list of podcasts I’ve been listening to in alphabetical order.  (Because that’s how iTunes likes it. >.>)

Across the Nerdaverse (Website)

Across the Nerdaverse is an amusing podcast done by hosts Jessie and Mark.  These two individuals bring an interesting perspective to the i-waves on a fairly irregular basis.  I happened across this podcast completely by chance in my mass subscribing phase on iTunes, and boy, I’m glad I did.  They’re description on iTunes begins with “Nerd talk that hit’s you like a zerg-rush.”  That was more than enough to get me through the first episode.  I was nervous about this cast at first because of how unfocused it was.  They pair talk about everything and anything nerdy, from science-fiction to movies, from video games to technological advances.  The interesting hook that Jessie and Mark present, which in turn keeps this cast from becoming too broad, is the addition of a rotating third host.  This host changes every episode, and Jessie and Mark let us get to know someone else out there with nerdy interests.  Those interests are what usually help to shape any one particular show.  For a fluffy, ever-changing podcast, give Across the Nerdaverse a listen!

Anime World Order (Website)

This podcast is literally the first anime podcast I have so far found that I can stomach.  Every time I found a podcast that had decent content revolving around anime, I would listen for an average of three minutes before an annoying voice like this would suddenly assail my poor ears.  (Sorry, Boxxy fans.  I can’t stand her videos or her voice.)  Usually, this voice would be accompanied by a terrible attempt at a moe or neko personality type.  I had almost given up on finding a podcast about anime that would actually be enjoyable to listen to.  But after wiping a little blood from my ears, I gave the Anime World Order a try.  Thank heavens I did!  Their website describes the podcast as follows: “The Anime World Order podcast began in 2005 and is run by three holier-than-thou know-it-alls that are…anything but. … Each week…er…month…ish, we review Japanese cartoons and/or comics. None of us knows how to shut up.”  Hosts Daryl, Gerald, and Clarissa also write for the OtakuUSA magazine (both print and web editions) and the podcast itself was given a Parsec award for Best Anime Podcast.  Please, please, don’t go listening to the squealing fangirl podcasts.  Stop over to the AWO site and give them some love.  (Keep in mind that this cast puts out shows in parts, usually labeled with letters.  It takes a little getting used to.)

City of Doors (Website)

The City of Doors podcast is a newer addition to the D20 Radio Network (which includes a few other casts I listen to below).  It’s important to know that all of the casts on the D20 Radio Network (found here) are all wonderful podcasts.  City of Doors is no exception to that rule.  While technically a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons podcast, the City of Doors is a great podcast for any Dungeon Master, Game Master, or Story Teller running a roleplaying game for a group of players.  They provide amazingly insightful information and fresh ideas that can be adopted for any game, any play group, and any play style.  While the cast updates much less frequently than I’d like, about once a month, ReaperBryan and The Hoff come to you with a solid cast that was well worth the wait.  Come join your fellow Travelers in The City of Doors!

Fantastic Forum

Finding a website for this podcast was more difficult than I would have liked.  However, this does not lessen the quality of the cast itself.  I don’t read a whole lot for comic books (in fact, precious little), but I understand that it is one of the Geek’s most well-loved weapon in the Nerd Arsenal.  Because of that, I sought out a good cast on comic books.  While the Fantastic Forum isn’t really a newscast and thus has very little in the way of comic book news, they do a fantastic job discussing different aspects of comic books (including why there seem to be so few female role models in this also male-dominated geek-genre).  This cast can be downloaded through iTunes.

Game-On! (Website)

This is honestly perhaps my favorite podcast.   Ever.  I think it probably has a lot to do with Brian’s voice.  I can’t help it.  I could listen to him read the phone book.  >.>  This cast is about board games and is hosted by Brian and Kat.  Brian and Kat talk about different aspects of board gaming, as well as a lot of games that most people don’t think of when they think about board games.  (You’ll learn quickly not to talk about Monopoly or such petty games in Brian’s presence. XP)  It may seem like an odd topic for a podcast, but a good nerd knows that there’s more to board games than Yahtzee and Sorry!  If you’ve ever wanted to play more “adult” board games like Apples to Apples (to throw out a commonly known name), give these two a listen!  This podcast is also part of the D20 Radio Network.

Order 66 Podcast (Website)

The cast to end all casts.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m really not.  From episode 1, the Order 66 Podcast excels in production values.  Now over 100 episodes in, the quality has only gotten better.  GM Chris and GM Dave bring you an (almost) weekly dose of crunchy goodness about the popular roleplaying game, Star Wars Saga Edition.  Every episode brings you a number of discussion on crunchy rules topics, specific instances and questions, interviews with developers, more creamy discussions on actual roleplaying, and much much more.  The Order 66 Podcast is the only podcast devoted entirely to SWSE, but make sure you don’t let them know you’re listening (podcast joke, listen to understand)!  GMs Chris and Dave also started the D20 Radio Network, and thus, the Order 66 Podcast is a part of said network.

Pottercast (Website)

Everyone needs more Harry Potter in their lives.   I don’t care who you are or what you think, this podcast is necessary.  On your iPod.  Right now.  Melissa, John, and Frak bring you a slightly sporadic dose of Harry Potter news and views, and ever cast is worth a listen.  While the older podcasts include news that isn’t really relevant anymore, the in-depth discussions are completely worth a listen.  Lately, the cast has been moving toward a dual-production in audio and visual, and while I prefer the audio podcasts, Pottercast makes the videocast work fairly well.  This podcast is also affiliated with the biggest fan-produced Harry Potter website in the world — The Leaky Cauldron.

A Way With Words (Website)

This podcast is devoted to delving into the amazingly complex and exciting world of the English language.  A public radio program in truth, this podcast is hosted by two smooth-talking, amusing characters who know far more about English idioms and sayings than any two humans have a right to.  Hosts Martha and Grant never fail to amuse.

WTPT – Pokemon Radio (Website)

There are very few Pokemon podcasts on the airwaves, and among those few, WTPT – Pokemon Radio stands a mile above the rest.  While there haven’t been any updates recently, members of their forums (myself included) have been assured that things are not ending completely.  There’s some worry about this podcast’s future, but the backlog of episodes are all absolutely wonderful and are more than worth your time to listen through if you have any interest in Pokemon — especially the video games!

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Dice Bags Galore!

A few months ago, I did a blog post all about different types of dice. As I was sitting in bed tonight, realizing I wasn’t going to be sleeping any time soon, I decided to do a more substantial blog post than the three or so lines I put up about my purchase of A Game of Thrones.  There was a discussion going on in one of the forums I frequent about interesting ways to store dice, and I got to thinking.

I need to do a post about dice bags.

So, here we go!

Chainmail

This first bag is made of chainmail.  Chainmail dice bags are really popular in roleplaying circles for the “cool” factor they bring along.  This one is particularly interesting because of the little chainmail bits on the ends of the drawstring.  It’s also a little looser than other chainmail bags I’ve seen.

Scalemail

This is scalemail.  It’s literally a chainmail dice bag with neat little plates put into the chainmail working to create a look of dragonscales.  I absolutely love it.

Leather

Also fairly common, a leather dice bag.  These little leather pouches are usually used for things that are not dice, but being a gamer, we’ll use just about anything in our nerdy pursuits, yes?

Knitted Cthullu

This little beauty is a knitted dice bag with a Cthullu pattern worked in.  All glory to the squid-overlord.

Embroidered Lion

This dice bag is apparently leather or some sort of psuedo-leather that has a neat, embroidered lion.  It’s also red.  Want to be a Gryffindor?  I don’t. XP

D20

This is a GIANT, home-made D20 dicebag.

Embroidered Dragon

This dice bag is sporting an impressive contrasting two-tone coloration as well as suede drawstrings and an embroidered dragon.  This honestly would be a fantastic dice bag for Dungeons and Dragons especially.

Chainmail and Crown Royal

This image shows two equally epic and equally standard dice bags.  The Crown Royal bag is the favored dice bag of many a roleplayer (my fiancee, author of “Paging Through the Core Rulebook” included), and the large, standard weave chainmail bag is also a very popular (and sturdy) choice.

Geek

This bag comes to us from Etsy and has a very simple, but proud look to it.  Any time you can add something even more geeky (like a very obvious proclamation of your geekitude) to something already inherently nerdy (like a dice bag), you are exponentially increasing the awesomeness of this item.

Cowthullu

Cowthullu.  Need I say more?

Eréndira Sivron – All Grown Up

In the not so distant past, I featured one of my current Star Wars Saga Edition characters, Eréndira Sivron.  For those interested in seeing her at the very beginning of her roleplay journey can check her out here.

Recently in our journey, we somehow managed to jump through a major time rift, and our characters found themselves a full year and a half into the future (and eleven levels stronger).  The reasons this happened are not yet known to us as players or our characters.  It was very disorienting for them all at first.  Our characters are now all at level 15.  Yes, you heard that right.  Level 15.  This is the highest level character I’ve ever played (excluding a single Dungeons and Dragons one-shot).

I have to say that I’m absolutely in love with it.

Seeing how Eréndira has progressed both on her character sheet and as a character has been really interesting.  Even though it’s only been a few weeks since she was a mere level four bit of tissue paper facing down blaster bolts that sent her to a very real look at death in almost every encounter we faced, she has had a full year of development in game.

So I thought we’d take another look at her now that she’s a very impressive force on the battlefield.

First a look at her important statistics.  Eréndira is now a level 5 Jedi, level 3 Noble, level 4 Jedi Knight, and level 3 Jedi Master.

Strength – 6   (-2)

Dexterity – 8   (-1)

Constitution – 8   (-1)

Intelligence – 13   (+1)

Wisdom – 20   (+5)

Charisma – 20   (+5)

The first four of these Stats are exactly the same.  Eréndira’s history makes it almost impossible for me to have increased her Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity as she grew.  She is a very physically weak character, and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for her to try and gain more physical prowess.  However, on the Jedi path, her desire for more Wisdom and to be better able to work with people (Charisma) makes complete sense.  Each time she was allowed a stat bump, I put it into those two stats.

Here’s a rundown of her other statistics.  Though it’s important to know that her defenses (Fortitude specifically) will be further explained when we reach her new talents/feats.

Fortitude Defense – 34

Reflex Defense – 28

Will Defense – 34

And the last of the “crunchy” numbers.

Hit Points — 115

Damange Threshold — 34

Speed — 6

Initiative — +6

Perception — +17

Base Attack Bonus — +14

Force Points — 14

Destiny Points — 1

Eréndira, after multiclassing into Noble, picked up a few new skills as well.  While she can use a number of skills untrained, the following is a list of her trained skills (and how good she is at those skills).

Deception   (+17)

Knowledge – Social Sciences   (+13)

Knowledge – Galactic Lore   (+13)

Perception   (+17)

Persuasion   (+17)

Use the Force   (+27)

The mots impressive of those skills is obviously Use the Force.  This breaks down as the following.  Her Use the Force checks are made by a roll of a single D20, just like every other skill check.  She then gets to add half her total character level (7) plus her ability modifier (Wisdom, 5) plus her bonus for being trained in the skill (5) plus her bonus for taking the skill focus feat (5) plus a miscellaneous modifier for having completed her Destiny (5).  This all adds up to a +27 to her Use the Force checks.

Now is as good as time as any to explain that miscellaneous bonus.  Eréndira took a Destiny at the beginning of this campaign.  She took the Education destiny, her destiny being to teach the ways of the Force to others by becoming a Jedi Master (and perhaps someday founding her own Force Tradition).  I spoke with Ben (my GM in this campaign) about what would have occurred in this year that has passed.  I asked if it would have been possible for her to have trained a Padawan in this time.  He agreed that it made perfect sense and that I would have, in the meantime, completed my Destiny.

Next, let’s look at her Feats.

Force Sensitivity

Weapons Proficiency – Lightsabers

Weapons Focus – Lighsabers

Weapons Proficiency – Simple Weapons

Skill Training – Persuasion

Skill Training – Deception

Force Training x6

Skill Focus – Use the Force

Improved Defenses

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory for those familiar with the system.  She took a bajillion instances of Force Training, because her build’s basic idea is the Force Wizard.  Improved Defenses gave her a flat +1 bonus to all of her Defenses (detailed above) that worked to negate her -1 in Dexterity and Constitution.  Weapons Focus – Lightsabers give her a bonus when fighting with her saber.

Next, the more exciting customizations.  The talents.

Telekinetic Savant

Influence Savant

Telekinetic Prodigy

Noble Fencing Style

Deflect

Apprentice Boon

Direct

Many Shades of the Force

Body Control

Telekinetic Savant and Influence Savant let Eréndira bring a single Force Power back to her Force Power Suite (basically the pool of powers she has available to her) without needing to burn a Force Point to do it.  Telekinetic Prodigy says that every time Eréndira takes the Move Object Force Power, she can take another Force Power with the [Telekinetic] descriptor for free.  Noble Fencing Style lets her substitute her Charisma modifier for her Strength modifier when attacking with a melee weapon.  This means that instead of taking a penalty when fighting with her lightsaber, Eréndira can actually be fairly competent, especially when cutting down those pesky Blaster shooters.  Deflect is a talent that lets Eréndira attempt to use her Lightsaber to literally deflect ranged attacks.  Apprentice Boon lets Eréndira spend a Force Point to help modify an ally making a Use the Force check who’s modifier for that check is lower than her own.  This is great for roleplaying with her padawan.  Direct works in a similar way.  Direct lets Eréndira return a Force Power to the suite of an ally who has already spent the power.  Mandy Shades of the Force is a fantastic little power that states that I may choose a Force Power, and that Force Power no longer has the [Dark Side] or [Light Side] descriptor for my character.  Thus, I was able to give Eréndira Force Lightning as a power without worrying about her taking Dark Side Points for it’s use (which is GREAT for her character’s struggle with the Dark Side).  And Body Control let me substitute a different score (I’m thinking Wisdom) for my Constitution score in the context of my Fortitude Defense.

Well that was a wall of text, wasn’t it? O.o

Eréndira now also has some Special Combat Actions.  Being a Jedi Knight, she gained access to a few Force Techniques.  these are pretty awesome little things that let her use her command over the Force in a more finessed manner.  She took Extended Force Grip (which literally extends the base range of the Force Power from 12 to 18 for her) and Dominate Mind (which states that if Eréndira beats the Will Defense of an enemy by 10 or more on her Use the Force check when using Mind Trick, she gets to choose what that character does with its next Standard Action).

Upon obtaining the ranks of Jedi Master, Eréndira learned the ways of Serenity.  Serenity says that Eréndira may enter an altered sort of Force Trance.  She remains aware of her surroundings, but is still completely helpless.  It is a swift action to exit the trance, but she must remain within it for at least a round.  After exiting the trance, her next D20 roll is considered to be a 20.  This has a lot of really great applications.  A critical hit or a natural 20 on a Use the Force check (which brings her entire Force Suite back).

For her second and third levels of Jedi Master, Eréndira starts to gain access to Force Secrets.  Force Secrets make using the Force about as powerful and dangerous as it can possibly get.  Eréndira chose to take Distant Power and Quicken Power.  Distant Power multiplies the distance she can use a Force Power at by ten times (if she spends a Force point) or up to the same Star System (if she spends a Destiny point).  Quicken Power lets her use a Force Power that takes a standard action to activate in a swift action instead (if she spends a Force point).

Eréndira now also has the ability to wield a lightsaber.  And she does so rather well.  Because she’s at such a high level, she has created her own saber, detailed here.

Ren (Dual Phase Lightsaber)

The name means “water lily”

Attack Bonus +20

Damage 2D8+6/9 (depending on which crystal is activated)

Contains a Krayt Dragon Pearl (gives a +3 Force bonus to Damage rolls, creates a cyan-hued blade) and a Solari Crystal (gives a +2 Force bonus to Deflect attempts, creates a fuchsia blade).

Is modified with a Fiber Cord (connects to a small gauntlet on Eréndira’s wrist, makes it much more difficult to disarm her), Electrum Detail (a golden working on the hilt that gives no mechanical bonus, but does denote her status as a Jedi Master), and a Pressure Grip (is only activated by the pressure of her grip and will deactivate the moment she releases the hilt).

And, last but not least, her ridiculous Force Power Suite

Mind Trick x3

Move Object x6

Force Grip x4

Ionize

foce Slam

Force Shield

Force Lightning x3

Shatterpoint

Intercept x2

Kinetic Combat

Force Blast

Repulse x2

Surge x3

Shien Deflection x2

Pushing Slash x2

Assured Strike x2

Deflecting Slash x2

Inertia

Inspire

Yeah, that’s 42 Force Powers.  SERIOUSLY.

It’s amazing to see what a character looks like when they’ve progressed so far.  <3  I hope you enjoyed the second look at Eréndira Sivron.

All Glory to my Squid-like Overlord!

I had to laugh.  I’m tempted to add this to the wedding dance playlist.  Is that in poor test? :P

Anyway, this is a pretty hilarious parody of “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s.  Any time someone takes HP Lovecraft and turns it into something this hilarious creates a very thick coating of awesomesauce.

Eréndira Sivron

Eréndra Sivron is a character I’m playing in a current Star Wars Saga Edition game, GMed by my ever-talented fiance, Ben.  She is currently sitting at level 3, with two levels in Jedi and one level in Nobel.  I felt that since I’d done one post on a previous character, I’d love to do another.  Those interested in other characters I’ve played can see Vyrashanni, Daughter of Stars.

First, we’ll look at Eréndira’s stats.

Strength: 6   (-2)

Dexterity: 8   (-1)

Constitution: 8   (-1)

Intelligence: 12   (+1)

Wisdom: 17   (+3)

Charisma: 16   (+3)

Those that have seen Vyrashanni’s stats will notice that these are a LOT lower on average.  That’s because during the campaign where I played Vyrashanni, Ben allowed us to roll our stats.  Meaning, I got to roll 4D6 and drop the lowest number, and then assign the six results to her stats as I saw fit.  This time, he had us use the Point-Buy system, during which the numbers you use in your stats cost a specific amount of “points”.  At level 2, when we started, we had 25 points.  Because I wanted a really high Wisdom and Charisma score, I had to take serious deficiencies to all the other stats.

These deficiencies in her stats also translate to her defenses.

Fortitude Defense: 13

Reflex Defense: 13

Will Defense: 18

Eréndira is slightly deficient in hit points because of her penalty to her Con stat.  She’s sitting at 39, and for a level 3 character, that’s not so hot.  She has an average speed of 6 (typical for a medium-sized creature) and a base attack of +1.  She had 6 Force Points, a single Destiny point, no modifier to her Initiative, and a +9 to her Perception.

Eréndira is a female Mirialan.  Now, Mirialans aren’t statted out in the actual Saga Edition books.  But according to Wookiepedia, they’re “near human” which means they would stat out just like a human character.  She’s 20 years old and stands at a rather small 5’4″, weighing 120 lbs.  Since Mirialans aren’t very well known (unless you’ve watched the Clone Wars cartoon currently airing on Cartoon Network), this is what Wookiepedia has to say about them.

The Mirialan people were religious and practiced a primitive understanding of the Force. They believed each individual’s actions contributed to their destiny. A Mirialan would place a unique, often geometrically repeated tattoo on their face and hands to signify that they had completed a certain test or task, or achieved sufficient adeptness at a certain skill. The number of tattoos would thus often act as a good indicator of how mature and/or skilled a Mirialan was.

Some well known Mirialans withing the Star Wars Universe include Barriss Offee and Luminara Unduli.

Eréndira is not a terribly skillful individual.  Being a Jedi, she doesn’t get very many skill options, period.  And with a mere +1 to her Intelligence score, she didn’t get to train in very many of them.  However, she does have a few skills, and the ones she has are good for her.

Knowledge Galactic Lore  +7

Knowledge Social Sciences  +7

Perception  +9

Use the Force  +14 (thanks to Skill Focus)

Eréndira’s Feats are very focused.  This character was built to use the Force, and her feats (and talents) reflect that. She has the following Feats: Force Sensitivity, Weapons Proficiency Lightsabers, Weapons Proficiency Pistols, Weapons Proficiency Simple Weapons, Force Training x3, Skill Focus – Use the Force

Her talents number only two right now, but both allow her an extra use of one of her Force Powers.  She currently has Telekinetic Savant and Influence Savant.

Eréndira speaks three languages fluently.  She speaks Basic and Mirialan, the two languages that would come most naturally to her.  She also speaks Shri’wook, and interesting choice for her, and one I plan on working into her backstory.

The most impressive part of Eréndira is her ability to wield the Force.  She has no weapons, no blaster, no lightsaber.  Her only weapon is the force.  Because of that, at level three, she has twelve Force powers.  They are as follows:

  1. Mind Trick
  2. Move Object
  3. Move Object
  4. Mind Shard
  5. Mind Shard
  6. Rebuke
  7. Ionize
  8. Force Slam
  9. Force Shield
  10. Enlighten
  11. Ballistakinesis
  12. Detonate

Through her heavy focus on the use of the Force, Eréndira is similar to Vyrashanni. However, they are two completely separate and distinct characters. Eréndira is not as primitive as Vyrashanni, for starters. And their backstories are completely different.  And now you can enjoy some concept art!

Concept Art

Please note that this image belongs to Daesha on Deviantart. I am NOT taking credit for the image at all. The image itself is just very indicative of how I imagined Eréndira to appear and carry herself. Eréndira does NOT have the tattoo on her forehead. ^.^;

–     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –

Eréndira was born to a very loving mother and father on the city planet of Coruscant.  From a very young age, she was a very frail child.  But she had always had a very strong grasp on the force.  Because of this, Eréndira was given up to a Jedi Academy at the tender age of 4.  Because of this, Eréndira has very little memory of her mother or father or even her home on Coruscant.  She stayed for her youngling training on Coruscant and then was taken on by the great Jedi Master, Cham Sivron.  Master Sivron was a beautiful female Twilek Jedi who trained her from the age of 10 until she was 18.

At the age of 18, Eréndira was hit with a terrible tragedy.  She and her Master had been sent on what was supposed to be a routine mission on a small ship.  However, their ship was hit by a barrage of Mandalorian war ships.  Without even a moment to think, they were being fired on.  Her Master hid her away in the cargo hold, making her promise that she would not come out.  The news had to be passed on to the Council, and she was the only one who could do it.  And so, Eréndira could do nothing but helplessly watch as her Master was cut down by Mandalorian forces.

She knew that she was supposed to stay hidden and quiet.  But the entire ship’s crew had been massacred along with her Master.  She acted out of anger.  An intense wave of the Force spilled forth from her, destroying a large portion of the Mandalorians aboard her ship and seriously crippling her as well.  Eréndira blacked out on the ship and floated through space for weeks before finally landing, bereaved and broken, on a tiny planet that quickly became nothing more than a resource dump for the Empire.  She and the peoples she had lived beside became refugees and were sent to the desolate planet of Geonosis.