Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie Trailer ~ Forsaken

I love westerns! And with Keifer and Donald and Demi Moore! Heck yeah! And two observations...

1) I say this guy, that guy, looks good in the old west. I've come to the conclusion that everyone would look good in the old west. The clothing was awesome.

2) Demi Moore is just beautiful in this trailer.

Magic in the Pulps

Doctor Faustus and Mephistopheles

Hey, all. Jason here again with another article expounding on some of the design decisions and options available in Amazing Adventures. One of the most common questions I receive from people is, "Why is there a spell-slinging Arcanist in Amazing Adventures? What's the pulp rationale for that type of character?" This is a strong and valid question with a somewhat involved answer. The first, most simple answer is that not all pulp is in the vein of Doc Savage. It's not all two-fisted adventure. There are many genres and sub-genres that fall within the overarching umbrella of "pulp." It incorporates fantasy, westerns, horror stories, science fiction, the works.

Yes, it also incorporates comic books, which were printed on the same cheap pulp paper as the pulp magazines were, back in the day. Many heroes of the golden age of comics, such as Batman, are very much pulp heroes. By the 1960s heroes such as DC's Zatanna and Marvel's Doctor Strange were mainstays in comics, and both are spell-slinging arcanists.

The fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard was rife with books of magical power and the men who plied those arcane spells. Lovecraft's Whateley clan, for example, are certainly arcanists of some power, as is the eponymous Witch of his "Dreams in the Witch House." In the current Second Printing the optional concept of tying Sanity to spell casting was introduced to better mimic this, an idea that was even further expanded in the Companion, which allows for swords-and-sorcery necromancers in the style of Howard, Carter, Clark Ashton Smith and their contemporaries and later adherents.

The classic pulp villain Fu Manchu could be argued to be an arcanist, as he certainly trafficked with supernatural elements.

Naturally, the genre of fantasy known by some as "Modern Pulp" is rife with examples of spellcasting heroes. Harry Dresden is probably the most famous of these, but the Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Romances of Kelley Armstrong are also full of witches and sorcerers.

In the end, the addition of magic in Amazing Adventures accomplished several things:

  1. 1. It allows for easily creating villainous spellcasters in the Lovecraftian and Supernatural Detective role.  
  2. It allows for the "toolkit" mentality that AA is designed to fill--not only by allowing magically inclined characters, but the spell effects themselves become a vital and really easy solution to the Gadgeteer system and to the super powers rules outlined in the Companion. 
  3. Quite simply, it's fun. And in the end, none of this is about, "is this realistic to the pulps?" It's about, "What would be fun to play?"
As always, if you don't think a spell caster fits into your game, don't allow them. Remember, AA is designed to provide you the tools to run whatever kind of game you want to run, and magic isn't for everyone's game.

As always, if you've got any questions or thoughts I'm glad to hear them in the comments below, over at the Troll Lord forums or on our Facebook page! Until next on!

Friday, January 22, 2016

From the Winter Dark

Movie Trailer ~ The Wave

10 Minutes is a life time....but not a very long one...

Word of the Day -- Tincture

A tincture is typically an alcoholic extract of plant or animal material or solution of such or of a low

Herbal tinctures are not always made using ethanol as the solvent, though this is most commonly the case. Other solvents include vinegar, glycerol, diethyl ether and propylene glycol, not all of which can be used for internal consumption. Ethanol has the advantage of being an excellent solvent for both acidic and basic (alkaline) constituents.
volatility substance (such as iodine and mercurochrome). To qualify as an alcoholic tincture, the extract should have an ethanol percentage of at least 25–60% (50–120 US proof).  Sometimes an alcohol concentration as high as 90% (180 US proof) is used in such a tincture. In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are made with various ethanol concentrations, 25% being the most common.

Glycerine can also be used, but when used in tincturing fashion is generally a poorer solvent. Vinegar, being acidic, is a better solvent for obtaining alkaloids but a poorer solvent for acidic components. For individuals who choose not to ingest alcohol, non-alcoholic e,g., (glycerite) extracts offer an alternative for preparations meant to be taken internally.

Some solutions of volatile or nonvolatile substances are traditionally called spirits, regardless of whether obtained by distillation or not and whether or not they even contain alcohol. In chemistry, a tincture is a solution that has alcohol as its solvent.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Daily Cosplay

This Guy . . . . Cleisthenes

After some civil strife with the Tyrants of Athens, the Spartans and many of his own fellow Athenians, Cleisthenes rose to a position of power and influence. He did so with the citizens of Athens at his back.

Once in a position of power he began the overhaul of the Athenian constitution. This had been going on for some time, the tyrant Pisasstratus having done a good bit himself. But Cleisthenes took those reforms even further, breaking the hold of the clans on the governance of the city, extending the franchise, and making it a true representative democracy (well, for male Athenians). Public servants were chose by a lottery system.

So thank this old bird for your Democracy. Well if you live in such a country...otherwise, thank him for mine!

Imaginarium ~ A Wizard's Country

Where the wizard built his tower as high in the mountains and far from the haunts of man...

Knights of Haven

This order was founded in latter days of the Winter Dark Wars. As the worship of Demeter spread throughout the lands, pilgrims began to flock to the town of Haven. The distant locale of the town upon the slopes of Mount Tur across the Inner Sea made the journey arduous. Pilgrims had to cross the pirate infested seas or travel overland through Zeitz and Trondheim. So many pilgrims were lost on the road that a knight, Francis the Blessed, founded a clerical military order of hospitalers to protect them.

The Knights of Haven attracted many young converts of Demeter and soon became a stalwart pillar in the religion of that god. Through the patronage of the Church of Avignon and the Kingdom of Augsberg, the Knights were able to found a host of castles along the roads of pilgrimage.

Today the knights are a large, if scattered, order. Many of their castles are occupied by only three to four knights, and a dozen sergeants or attendants. Many of the knights travel singularly, protecting those in need. The order relies upon the individual’s own ethics and honor to maintain its strict and disciplined code. Their largest castles, most notably the Hafunich, are in the March of Zeitz. The present guild master is Eurich von Mager-Falkenheim of Aachen.

~ The Players Guide to Aihrde


I like the concept of the werebear with only the most vague of human features, and not one that can change back and forth. That combined with a madness bordering on the rabid.

Philip Marlowe, Private Eye

Philip Marlowe, Private Eye

After Sam Spade (arguably before Sam Spade in reputation if not chronologically) the true archetype of the hardboiled, fedora-wearing gumshoe was Philip Marlowe, Private Eye. Certainly one of the major tropes of the genre--the first-person narrated adventure where every woman is a femme fatale--was popularized by Raymond Chandler in his Marlowe stories.

In the early 1980s, HBO ran a series entitled Philip Marlowe, Private Eye. Though it only consisted of two seasons and eleven episodes total, it won awards for Powers Boothe as the eponymous P.I. and it became the very first dramatic scripted series on a cable network. In many ways, without Marlowe, today we wouldn't have The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, True Blood or Game of Thrones.

The entire series is tough to come by on DVD and goes for a premium if you can, though the second season (mislabeled as Season One) can be had for about 30 bucks. The entire series, however, is viewable for free, on YouTube!

Here's a collection of six various episodes. You'll need to search for the others. Between the episode guide on Wikipedia and YouTube you should be able to get them all. Enjoy, while it's still there.

Armor Up

Movie Trailer ~ Triple 9

Why is it, I can look at a trailer, and think "oh maybe" but then I see Woody Harrelson and I think "I"m in". No reservations. No thought. No thinking oh it might be this or that. Its just Woody Harrelson. He delivers.

Its also got Norman Reedus and Kate Winslet and a bunch of other folks!

Word of the Day -- Moresque

Moresque is an obsolete alternative term to "Moorish" in English, and in the arts has some specific
meanings. By itself the word is used of forms found in ornament and decoration in the applied arts in Europe. Often it is a synonym for arabesque or interlace patterns in the Mannerist and Northern Mannerist styles of the 16th century, derived from Islamic ornament. It was defined in 1611 by Randle Cotgrave's A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues as: "a rude or anticke painting, or carving, wherin the feet and tayles of beasts, &c, are intermingled with, or made to resemble, a kind of wild leaves, &c."  The word is also used for such a figure, starting off as a human or animal, but terminating as part of a decorative scheme of foliage or geometric strapwork.

In fact the origin of figures like those described by Cotgrave comes not from the Islamic world, but from the Renaissance version, influenced by the Ancient Roman grotesque decorative style, of medieval ornament, especially that found in illuminated manuscripts. Here men and beasts whose forms disappear into geometric or foliage decoration go back almost a thousand years to the interlace of Insular art seen in the Book of Kells and other manuscripts. These themselves derive from the Animal style of barbarian Europe. However the term "moresque" is not used of these medieval versions.

Songs from the Drowned Lands ~ Kernaghan

Recently I took a trip to New York (the city) and needed something to read that I could easily carry on the plane. I don't really buy pa...