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Top 10: D&D Characters I’ve Played

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When I make a character for Dungeons & Dragons they need to have the perfect name. If I’m not happy with the name, I won’t play the character. As such over the 30 plus years that I’ve played the game, my hall of champions has a relatively small number of characters. These are my top ten favorite D&D characters.

Killian: When I was first introduced to D&D by my friend Matt M. he had a character named Killer Kroc. At the time I wasn’t fully aware of the Batman villain, but I liked the alliteration. Years later I had adapted the name into Killian Krocerian. He was a fighter/rogue type and his escapades were the stuff of great hyperbole and much exaggeration. He was my first hero and still holds a place of honor in my imagination to this day.

Farak: The next great warrior in my list is a dwarven buzz saw. Farak The Axe was a twin axe warrior that could wade through a stable of zombies in the time it took a paladin to kill one. True story. His greatest tale involves falling 40 feet through a wooden staircase while avoiding a wyvern. He eventually would climb those same stairs again to take on the beast bare-handed, and save his friend Veirden.

Veirden: Which brings me to my next hero. At the time I was in a small gaming group and I was playing both Farak and Veirden, the mad Halfling. Veirden was a rogue who had been rescued from a POW camp by Farak. The two were inseparable. I played this rogue with a complete disregard for his own safety, often drawing twin daggers and charging head first into battle alongside Farak.

Friar Chuck: Tired of all my warriors and rogues I decided I would try my hand with a cleric. Friar Chuck was part of a team, his sister Aliana was a bard, but the two of them would never see a table top together. They were merely an idea. Still, as time went on and I found myself in need of an NPC cleric, Friar Chuck resurfaced.  While running a Steampunk D&D game set loosely in Philadelphia my players ran across a street-corner preacher handing out pamphlets for Pelor. “Have you felt the Strength of Pelor? Have you seen the Light of Pelor?” all in a bored monotone voice. The party’s rogue latched onto Chucks boredom and convinced him to abandon his post and take up a life of adventure.

 

Zephyr: Zeph was a half-orc monk, all speed and strength. He specialized in in crossing the battlefield, avoiding the meat-shields, and focusing on the casters in the back ranks. When he snatched an orb of storm control from a vile wizard and smashed it, Zephyr earned the title Stormbreaker.  I was never sure what monastery he came from, but he was a favorite at the table. The greatest terrain plans laid by our DM were of little to no hindrance to Brother Zephyr.

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Gar: Ebberon was an awesome campaign setting. I especially loved the Warforged race; living constructs with no names except those given to them by their comrades. Gar was found by a dwarf in an old bear cave, and given his barbarian nature the dwarf named him after the dwarf word for bear. He was a great tank, eventually multi-classing with fighter. Unfortunately he met his inside the belly of a dire shark. His quest for warforged mods (centaur legs, wings) was not meant to be.

Ahrazul: Possibly my favorite character from 4th edition was this Dragonborn Paladin of Bahamut. Ahrazul was always the center of attention in combat, lest the enemies suffer his divine smite for ignoring him. The problem was he was also very hard to hit, even harder to kill. Not so much a problem for me, but it sure was annoying for the DM. My love of creating new characters won out and I convinced the DM to orchestrate a glorious end to Ahrazul .

Rusty: With 5th edition I wanted to go back to my roots, so I settled on the idea of a dwarf. Russik “Rusty” Ironheart was the grandson of Farak the Axe. Unlike grandpa, Rusty liked ranged weapons. Wielding a heavy crossbow and a hand crossbow sidearm I pictured him as sort of a door-breaker dwarf swat officer. Spells, Weapons, and Tactics. All fighter, and delving into the Eldritch Knight sub-class it still is my favorite fighter sub-class from 5th edition.

Mad Dog: The Adventurer’s League had finally caught my attention. I was stuck with this idea in my head of a fighter wielding a staff or polearm much like Darth Maul. To get the wicked feel of it I would multi-class him into warlock.  With his devil sight, darkness, and polearm mastery he’s proven quite effective as a melee striker. A former pirate who sold his soul to save his own butt seems to be my go-to background for warlocks.

Qui’noa: Finally we have Qui’noa. A tortle monk, assisted by the spirits of his ancestors. This barbarian-monk is his own traveling bar brawl. It’s not an uncommon combo with the release of the Tortle race, but at least I haven’t named him after a renaissance artist. The ancestral ghosts make him a sticky tank, and his shell makes him a hard choice for the enemies to target.

Top 10 Female Magic: The Gathering Players

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So, I was asked to come up with a list of Top 10 Female Magic: the Gathering players. It seems that some people are still living with the (stupid) idea that women can’t play M:tG for whatever reasons they can come up with. While it has admittedly been a long time since a woman won a major tournament (Eda Bilsel of Turkey in 2003 became M:tG’s first National Champion), there are quite a few that place within the top 8 of Grand Prix’s, and the Star City Open series. Go to any Pro Tour Qualifier (PPTQ), Grand Prix, or other tournament around the world and you will find women and girls of all ages competing.

The current youngest player at Grand Prix to ever qualify for day 2 is 12-years-old and held by a boy; however, this is being threatened by 6-year-old Dana Fisher who, at her last GP, missed qualifying by 1 win. A 6-year-old girl is out playing most of the men 2 or 3 times her age, and is getting better each time she competes. If she can keep up the trend, then in just a few years she will be making top 8’s and pushing for the big win.  So, in no particular order here, is my list of 10 Female M:tG players to watch for or just to watch as some are also streamers.

1. Dana Fisher

2. Emma Handy

3. Gaby Spartz

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4. Jennifer Long

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5. Melissa DeTora

6. Magic The Amateuring

teitch.tv/magictheamateuring (Also have a Podcast)

7. Feline Longmore

8. Athena Huey

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9. Jackie Lee*

10. Tifa Robles**

I have been playing Magic: The Gathering since 1994 and can say I have lost more than my fair share of matches to women who played better than me. I expect it to happen again in the future as I keep going to tournaments. I look forward to it as Magic: The Gathering is something that everyone can and should enjoy to play.

*Melissa DeTora and Jackie Lee both now work for Wizards of the Coast. Jackie helped design some of the current sets, and Melissa is part of a new playtest team.

**Tifa Robles founded the Lady Planeswalkers to help get more women interested in playing Magic: The Gathering http://ladyplaneswalkers.weebly.com/

 

Top Ten Favorite Board Games

Board Games have always been a huge part of my life. Snowed in winters left little option for my family other than games to keep everyone entertained when I was growing up. Big family gatherings also always resulted in marathon gaming and even some rage quitting. Here, in no real order, are some of my favorite Board Games for all ages.

10. Clue

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Clue has always been a go to game for me. It all starts with a murder. Every player picks a character to play. Every character is a suspect. Cards are sorted by room, weapon and character. One of each is put in an envelope to indicate who done it, where and with what. Players roll the dice to move from room to room. Once in a room players may hazard a guess to be proven or disproven by the other players cards until someone has a final guess. They must then move toward the center, say their guess and check to see if they are correct. The game has gotten a bit of a revamp, including a new character and is still wonderfully fun. There is also a hysterical movie based on the game.  

9. Eldritch Horror

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Evil is stirring. The Ancient Ones are rising. Only you and your cohorts can close the gates to stop them. Careful though, failure can lead to madness or worse. Eldritch Horror is a great cooperative game to play with friends or family.

8. Cranium

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Cranium was a favorite of my friends and I in college. It has something for everyone with different categories in which to shine. Complete the task before the time runs out and you will have game night glory. Fail, and well, everyone looks like a fool when they play so just have fun.

7. Sorry

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I played a lot of SORRY! growing up. It is a fantastic game that is fairly simple to play. Everyone picks a color for their tokens. Players then use the plastic dome to pop dice. You move that number of squares. Depending on what you land on determine if further action will be taken. Be careful though as other players can bump you back to start while gleefully exclaiming; “SORRY!” This game may end up on lists of games that certain friends cannot play together.

6. Life

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I wish that real life was as easy to navigate as this game. LIFE  is a game meant to represent, well, life. Players get to choose whether to start with a career or go to college and then move their cars throughout the board from there.

5. Operation

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The buzzing sound from Operation still sends me into a rage to this day. In this game you are the doctor. You must remove the things that are ailing Cavity Sam with tiny tweezers. One wrong move and you get the buzzer and it will be someone else’s turn. The player who has removed the most ailments wins.

4. Tokaido

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Who doesn’t love to go on a road trip? In Tokaido you are playing to see just who travels best. Who gets the most points for food, sightseeing, shopping and charity. Each playable character has different perks to help you have the best vacation ever! The art on this game is also beautiful as an added bonus.

3. Pictopia

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I just bought this as a gift for my Goddaughter and the whole family loved playing it. Everyone chooses a color and then rolls dice to progress throughout the board. Squares let the rest of the players know what kind of question they will have. Some are cooperative. Some are solo. The questions have a mixture of classic and newer Disney characters. The Disney version of Pictopia s bound to be a crowd pleaser.

2. Candyland

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I don’t care how old you are, Candyland is awesome. It is a simple game based more on colors and picking cards for player advancement. It is bright and fun. Oh and yes, you can fall on squares that send you back on the board so don’t let the happy looking landscape fool you.

1. 13 Dead End Drive

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13 Dead End Drive is full of traps. Plays have to bluff their way out of the mansion in time to win. The board is a 3D house that the plays can use to their advantage. It is a great game with a new sequel game 1313 Dead End Drive!  

I hope you have found some fun new games to play, or remembered a favorite from your childhood. Either way go play a board game and always keep sparkling!

 

Top 10 Favorite Table Games

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I love RPGs, gathering around a table and getting lost in fantasy with my friends. Sometimes though I just want a beer and pretzels type of game. Deal out the cards, lay out the tiles, and have fun. In no particular order (because I’m lazy) here are my favorite tabletop games:

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Munchkin – This card game is a simplified dungeon crawl with a stack of doors, and a stack of loot. Each person starts out as a 1st level human with no class, and that’s just the first joke of the game. The weapons are all tongue in cheek, the artwork comical, and the gameplay is fast and funny. The basic game is fantasy based, but there are any number of official sets for whatever your fandom might be. The best news is they can all work together making for some strange combinations.

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Betrayal at House on the Hill – Betrayal was the first random map game I ever really got into. You and your friends play a group of (fools) entering a haunted house. The map is laid out randomly from the foyer as you explore and find omens that will eventually reveal that one of you is a traitor. Or not. The main game has 50 possible reveals, and they’ve recently released an expansion for it, Widow’s Walk.

Abduction – Now this random map game is a simple deck of cards with cardboard cutout minis. You have been abducted by aliens and have to be the first one to escape. The layout of the ship can be chaotic, and with certain cards played, it can actually change at the last second snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. I call dibs on the cow mini.

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Zombies!!! – I thought zombies were cool before they were cool, so when I saw this board game where you and your friends all played survivors trying to escape a town overrun with zombies. I was in. Starting with the center of town you deal out random tiles trying to find the helicopter pad and escape, or be the first to rack up a zombie kill count of 25. The game comes with 100 rubber zombies, so I also found it useful for the survival horror RPG I was running. There are several add-ons to date (8 I think) that make the map more complex adding a shopping mall, a military base, a college campus, a prison etc.

Zombies!!! 4 – The 3rd expansion for this game can really be called a stand-alone. Whereas the first game takes place in a city , this setting is a haunted forest accessible by a bridge out of the main city. The point here is to collect the pages of the Necronomicon and perform the ritual. This version also comes with 100 rubber zombie dogs to “hound” you throughout the forest.

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Red Dragon Inn – Dungeon crawls are fun, but what happens after the quest when the party is loaded down with gold? They drink and gamble it away. This game, with its four stand-alones and several individual add-ons has you choosing a character and using their personal deck to out drink their fellows, or win all their gold. If you pass out or go broke, you’re out of the game. Each character has their own strength and weaknesses. If you choose to imbibe some adult beverages of your own, drink responsibly.

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Epic PvP: Fantasy – This is a one on one deck battling game. Your race is chosen at random, as is your class making for some interesting combos. They’ve also come out with a companion game Epic PVP: Magic that can be combined with the original or played separately. My only wish is that it was designed for more than 2 players.

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Cards Against Humanity – How bad are your friends? How badly do you want to know? Play this game once and you’ll find out. The only drawback I found was after multiple games you start to get shocked less by the combos. Buying more cards, or finding new players is a must to extend the replay ability of this one.

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Chrononauts – Time travel is cool. A series or cards are laid out depicting the timeline of our natural history with alternate versions of key events on the reverse of the cards. Each player is given a secret goal that must achieve in order to win the game. By traveling up and down the timeline and playing cards to switch events they can create the future they know in order to win the game.

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Flux – You win by playing cards to empty your hand, but every card you play changes the rules. I’ve seen versions for just about every fandom (Chtulu, Monty Python, Batman as examples). It’s a funny game that’s easy to pick up and play.

10 Things That Happened at Too Many Games 2017

Vanri and Crymson went to TooManyGames 2017! Here are some of what they experienced:

10) Vanri went to her first convention! She loved it, we got her a shirt.

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9) So many amazing cosplays!

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8) After forever, we finally ACTUALLY interviewed +2 Comedy… those nerds!

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7) ALL THE GAMES! So many amazing indie games to see and love.

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6) I played a game I’ve been waiting a year to play and didn’t suck.

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5) Got my hands on a board game I’ve been waiting a year for! For FREE!

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4) Cosplay Pro Wrestling!

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3) The most amazing Pyramid Head Cosplay, I’ve ever seen.

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2) Keith Apicary made me nearly pee myself.

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1) MrCreepyPasta was amazing to interview and we want to talk to him for hours.

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Top 10 Things that happened to me at Zenkaikon 2017

Crymson went to Zenkaikon 2017! Here are some of the things she experienced:

 

 

10) Some utterly amazing cosplays where everywhere!

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9) I was sandwiched between two doctors in my T.A.R.D.I.S dress

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I found Wednesday Adams

8) So many people told me they love my hair!

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Waiting for Cosplay Masquerade

7) I made new friends!

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Our friends at CommonGeek.tv

7) I want hours to talk to Keith DeCandido

5) The Slants concert was AMAZING

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The Slants

4) I got a ‘NOTICE ME SENPAI!’ from a stranger

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Senpai Loves You

3) MY FIRST BURLESQUE SHOW! Not only did I see my first show

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Pre Show (Photography was not allowed)

2) I got to spend some time with Uncle Yo! Much more than an interview, I was able to see him several times, chat with him and give him a few hugs. He made me laugh, he made me cry.

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Crazy Uncle Yo

1) Ellen McClain and John Patrick Lowery Believe in me! Meeting them was definitely the highlight of the convention for me. They are two incredible people that I’d love to sit with for hours and listen to their stories. I cannot say enough positive things and hope to speak with them again.

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John Patrick Lowery & Ellen McClain are too precious for this world

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Noodle King

 

 

 

(Honorable Mention: ALL THE FOOD!)
If you live in the Lancaster Area, please eat at The Rabbit and The Dragonfly & Noodle King

Best Bows and Crossbows in Video Games

Over the years a large cross-section of video games have included the trusty bow and arrow as the weapon of choice and the trend appears to be on the rise. The bow is a weapon historians have found in settlements dating back to around 9000 BC. Pop culture loves the bow and arrow and a good slice of the movie industry has taken up the gauntlet with heroes like Hawkeye and Katniss Everdeen wielding them.

Targetcrazy.com has compiled a comprehensive top 50 of the best bows (and crossbows) ever in video games and with their permission we’ve reproduced the top picks here. 

Best Retro Game Bow – Kid Icarus – The Sacred Bow

The favorite bow from older games is the enhanced Sacred Bow wielded by Pit in Kid Icarus. While he starts out wielding a short-range bow, the Sacred Bow lets him fire arrows much faster and farther. Pit has an unlimited supply of arrows and can use fire arrows to deal more damage. By the time Pit returned in Kid Icarus: Uprising, the bow was only one of many weapons he used, but in the original two games, it was his primary weapon of choice.

The Best Crossbow – BioShock

Do crossbows count? They are bows, after all!  Not only is the crossbow in BioShock one of the favorite video game crossbows, but it’s also considered by many players to be the best weapon in BioShock. It deals excellent damage with multiple types of ammunition, it is powerful at both short-range and long-range, and a headshot from the crossbow will kill a Splicer in one hit on any difficulty setting. If that’s not enough, its bolts can often be recovered intact (and you can upgrade it to make this more likely), which means it’s an incredibly powerful weapon with a ready supply of ammo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Magical – Bayonetta 2 – Kafka

While some game weapons are magical, some are just plain weird. Bayonetta is here to prove bows can be very strange. The Kafka, a new bow added in Bayonetta 2 (and named in honor of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) has a dragonfly-like appearance and shoots poison arrows. According to its in-game description the bow comes from a man who morphed into an insect and lives on inside the weapon to fire arrows made of venomous bugs. Indeed, if you perform one of the the Umbran Climax while wielding this bow it fires massive, demonic dragonflies at the enemy. A bow that shoots demonic dragonflies instead of arrows? It doesn’t get much stranger than that!

 

SciFi! – Crysis 3 – Predator Bow

You can’t beat an auto-loading compound bow! The Predator Bow from Crysis 3 is a fan-favorite with three draw weights you can switch between and four different types of arrows to fire: carbon-impact, electro/shock, airburst fragmentation, and super-thermite. In single player it has its own weapon slot and it is also the only weapon you can fire while cloaked without using energy. In short, the Predator Bow is one of the best bows in video games–science fiction or otherwise.

Better Than Real? Best VR – QuiVR

QuiVr is a multiplayer wave shooter designed specifically to be a fun, accurate archery game. Your trusty bow will let you take down wave after wave of enemies with physics designed to feel like actual archery. QuiVr isn’t the fullest gameplay experience out there yet but if you want to feel like you’re wielding a bow and take down enemies at the same time, this is the VR bow we like the most.

The Top 5 Best Overall Bows in Video Games

Some of these bows are in games where archery is a main focus while others just happen to have a good archery component but either way, these are the top 5 bows in video games and some of the games you most want to seek out if you’re looking for a fun archery experience.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – Azkâr  – Azkâr is a special bow originally made for Celebrimbor, but Talion can use it in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor when he enters the Wraith world while in Ranged mode. This bow can be upgraded with Runes to gain special bonuses, and Shadow of Mordor is another game where archery is generally enjoyed by fans. You may not use it often, but between its gameplay and its connections to Lord of the Rings lore we feel Azkâr deserves recognition.

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic – Bow of the Dragonhorn – The Bow of the Dragonhorn available in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is one of the most powerful bows in the game (especially against undead enemies) but that’s not why it has such a high spot on this list. Instead, we picked it out because many players consider Dark Messiah to have some of the most realistic and satisfying archery in video games with realistic aiming and physics.

Mount & Blade: Warband – Khergit Bow – Okay, the best bow is pretty divisive among fans but whether you favorite the Khergit Bow or one of the others, Mount & Blade: Warband is a must for satisfying archery combat. Just the fact that so many different bows can be considered the best depending on your style and preferences points to how strong its archery is. Not only that, but it has fairly realistic physics and aiming. In general, using a bow in Mount & Blade: Warband finds a nice balance point between realism and fun.

Tomb Raider – Compound Bow – As of the Tomb Raider reboot, the bow has become Lara’s standard weapon. There are many different types of bows you can use as well as various special arrows but as long as you don’t mind its slower rate of fire the Compound Bow is one of the best. It deals heavy damage and is a great choice for stealth. Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider don’t have the most realistic archery combat but they do make it fun so give their bows a try.

Age of Chivalry – Longbow Age of Chivalry is a free total conversion mod for Half-Life 2 focused on medieval combat between two fictional orders. (The team eventually made a full game called Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.) Archers in Age of Chivalry can fight with a longbow, a crossbow, or a javelin, and the longbow’s fast pace and long range makes it our pick. Not only is archery a strong focus, but it’s also fairly realistic–Age of Chivalry is another go-to game for players interested in bows that try to feel realistic.

20 of the Best Video Game Bows Ever