llamaenterhear

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1
Sagely Advice / Re: Just Randomness
« Last post by axlerowes on Yesterday at 07:01:14 AM »
how about 7 plots against the throne, but the twist being that they are plots that literally want to destroy the throne for some convuluted fantasy setting reason or another.
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Sagely Advice / Re: Just Randomness
« Last post by Cheka Man on August 20, 2017, 10:15:16 PM »
I could do 7 Thrones soon.
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Site Help / I can't log in on FireFox or anything but IE
« Last post by Cheka Man on August 20, 2017, 08:35:39 PM »
and in IE the ideas box jams up when I try to submit ideas to this site. :(
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News and Announcements / Re: Slow Going...
« Last post by Strolen on August 13, 2017, 08:45:09 PM »
I have many regrets, Aramax. I am bad at those type of things and my time in NJ was pretty darn busy. I never got up to see Murometz either.

Now I am in OK trying to settle in and figure out life for the next few years.
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Cavern of Inane Natter / Re: The Call of Captain thulu v.4
« Last post by Scrasamax on August 13, 2017, 06:41:52 AM »
So one of the weird things thats suddenly gotten popular here where I live is rock painting.

http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/35871660/athens-tn-participating-in-rockin-scavenger-hunt

My wife has gotten into it, and I have painted a few myself.
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Cavern of Inane Natter / Re: The Call of Captain thulu v.4
« Last post by Quinton Segonia on August 11, 2017, 12:26:00 AM »
Good to know, thanks!

Oh how I dream of a Calphalon set some day... I moved back home and make best use of secockpit of my parents don't invest a whole lot in cookware since neither of them cook much. Our pans are probably my biggest issue right now, if not the general lack of more niche equipment. I really need to get a cake decorating stand.
(Or maybe a job.)

Yes,that's really a good idea,hope you good luck.
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Citadel Tavern / Re: [THACO's Hammer] Splatbook updates
« Last post by DMRendclaw on August 08, 2017, 07:42:10 AM »
Splatbook 136 - Here, Kitty Kitty!

We’re busting out the catnip in this episode! Join DMs Brian, Glen, Cory and Fulongamer as they explore various feline persuasions! After answering a few emails, the gents settle down to work. They begin with the overview of the rakasta race in Dragon Magazine, then discuss the Cat’s Grace spell, then wrap things up with an oview of the various breeds of winged cats.

You can find us on Osrgaming.org, d20radio.com, Tumblr, Facebook, iTunes, Planetadnd.com and Twitter (@thacoshammer), as well as our home page at http://www.thacoshammer.info. If you are looking for an RSS feed or a different way of downloading the show directly, the address is: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/94174. If you are looking for our Actual Play (AP) podcasts, you can find them on iTunes (search for WGP's OSR AP Podcasts), or you can go to http://feeds.feedburner.com/osractualplaypodcasts. You can also email the show at thacoshammer@gmail.com, and you can leave a voicemail for the show at 405-806-0555.

Email from DM Halseeker (past history, using software for writing adventures and campaigns)
Email from DM Freddy (incorporating sports and athletics into a 2e campaign)
Email from Chantelle Jones (speeding up combat)

People Skills – Rakasta (Dragon #247)
Magic Fingers – Cat’s Grace
Snipe Hunt – Winged Cat
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Tomes and Illusions / Re: What books do you read?
« Last post by axlerowes on August 06, 2017, 09:32:29 PM »
Review of Empire of Chains by Ryan W. Mueller

Short Answer: It scares me that people enjoyed this book. People think this is good? I wish Strolen had read it (actually I wouldn't wish that on anyone) but I wish somebody would pay Strolen to edit it. He would destroy this rambling piece of word pain.

Long Answer:

Was John Steinbeck fantasy adventure fiction’s greatest fanboy?  His first novel, Cup of Gold, is a straight forward-pirate adventure that is also a retelling of the adventures of Captain Morgan (the English pirate they named the rum after).   Towards the end of his life Steinbeck finally began working on his life’s obsession: the legend of King Arthur. Steinbeck spent the last decades of his life re-writing and retelling Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur.  He never finished the work.  What classifies Steinbeck’s first and last works as fanboy efforts are that they are not original works, but the result of enthusiasm that has been driven to imitation.  Unlike other Steinbeck works, that were inspired by real life events around him, Steinbeck’s first and last works were extensions of the fiction and historical tales that he loved.  I assert that is what separates the fan from the fanboy;  the fan enjoys the media, the fanboy uses the media as a launch pad for his own ideas.  While some (Goethe) might dismiss genre works or fan fiction as coarse emulation, I think Steinbeck is proof that purposely derivative works can still be art.

Ryan W. Mueller’s book Empire of Chains (2017 available through Amazon) is an attempt to recreate the classic high fantasy epic. Mueller describes his book (at www.sffworld.com) as

“an epic fantasy for people who miss classic epic fantasy…I set out with the intention of giving fantasy readers a lot of those comfortable elements. They're the kinds of stories I still have a soft spot for. It's full of action, and I think I did an interesting twist on the dark lord trope.” 

Mueller is obviously an enthusiastic fan of the genre, and we can all understand his desire to appreciate fantasy fiction by contributing to it.  Mueller’s story is boiler plate stuff.  The evil emperor executes the mother of a teenage noble because the mom was plotting to over throw the emperor.  She was guilty, no argument there.  But the daughter of the dead woman grows into adulthood bent on revenge.  Through careful research in her castle’s library, when she isn’t practicing archery or sword play with the castle guards, the young noble woman (Nadia) learns of a spell that can kill the Emperor. He is not the kind of emperor that can be taken out by a rotted piece of horse flesh or a stray arrow to the eye.  The Emperor killing spell is called “White Fire” and to cast the spell she needs to obtain three scrolls. She eventually pulls everyone she meets and knows into this quest.

The interesting hook in Mueller’s story is that evil emperor knows of Nadia’s plan and indeed wants Nadia to carry out.  The emperor can “read the webs of fate” and he can see all (or most) possible futures.  It is the emperor that is indirectly guiding Nadia and her crew.  He pushes them to pursue his assassination and tries his best to protect them while they are doing it.  The Emperor believes that everything he is doing is for the greater good of humanity and he tells himself that this cruel overlord shtick is nothing more than an act and that deep down he is a good guy. It is a wonderfully interesting premise. I only wish Mueller was able to write prose as interesting as his premise and that he'd been able to bring his novel to a satisfactory conclusion.

Mueller takes a number of risks with his writing, which do succeed in making the writing style different than other epic fantasy novels but ultimately undercut his story.  First, most of his story is told through dialog and Mueller has no talent for dialog or any sense of the pacing of speech.  The characters in Empire of Chains talk as if they are in a bad radio play and lampshade all their actions.  For example, when one character is hiding in a closet he over hears the guards outside talking to each other aloud about whether or not they are going to search the closet.  A character falls off a bridge into rushing water and the other characters have to time argue before jumping in after.  The characters are always speaking aloud their entire litany of feelings and their own personal logic.   Consider the following excerpt.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Danica said. “I just don’t care for the thought of spending so long in dark cave. Not that there is anything to do about it. I just have to approach it with the best attitude possible.”     

While the character of Danica most resembles a summer camp song leader in attitudes and platitudes all the characters speak in essentially the same manner.  When given the choice of being subtle or overtly explaining something, Mueller’s characters always go the overt route.  The content of the conversations is also redundant.  In almost every chapter Nadia tells people “that she is going to kill the Emperor.”

In addition to being repetitive and clumsy with dialog, Mueller also doesn’t risk a large vocabulary in his writing.  I understand the desire and the need to cut back on the use of purple prose in fantasy fiction, but Mueller writes at close to a fifth-grade level.  Furthermore, he uses a lot of modern colloquialisms. For example, character’s don’t run away they “take off”.  It might be acceptable if the narrator had a voice that justified this, but there is no strong voice to the prose. Everything is written in a tight third person that switches between the main characters.

Finally, I personally disliked the top down view and show-not-tell use of meta-vocabulary Mueller and his characters employ to describe things.  When discussing a story or a video game, I might use the terms quest, party, hero or monster, but I don’t use them to describe my day-to-day life.  Remember Mueller’s character communicate in very modern English. There is a town that is literally terrorized by something referred to only as ‘a monster’, and when describing a transcontinental cave system the guide says ‘there will be monsters’. Fans of fantasy know that a monster is scarier and more monstrous when it has a name.  The use of generic and repetitive words makes the world feels flat and poorly thought-out.  In one particular paragraph, I noted every sentence had the word hero in it.  Mueller should come up with proper names for his monsters and crack out a thesaurus from time to time.

There are more things that disappointed in this book. The ending was anti-climatic and poorly paced. The two main characters got shallower as the book went on and not deeper.  Halfway through the book, God shows up and the characters start having discussions about how to maintain faith in an absent God in a cruel world.  The role of religion and faith in this world had not been explored and comes out of left field.  There were many pointless descriptions of combat and tangents the lead nowhere. I think Nadia actually ran away from home three times. The book was overlong. It was not a fun book to read. I lower my bar for self-published works, but this one was a chore. I pushed through so I could leave an honest review.

Steinbeck said of the Le Morte de Arthur, that he didn’t care as much for the content of the book as much as he loved the language.  The book was beautifully written in his opinion but it didn’t do the characters in these epic stories justice.  In Steinbeck’s retelling of the Arthurian legend, he puts that right. Mueller’s story suffers from the opposite problem; there is an interesting idea in the Empire of Chains, but the author didn’t care about the art of writing enough to give us prose or characters that pop of the page.  Like Mallory’s Le Morte de Arthur, Empire of Chains gives us lots of battles but not enough character. I hope someday Empire of Chains will get the fanboy treatment and we finally get an exploration of this corrupted, clairvoyant and well-meaning Emperor.  I believe Mueller has a good story to tell, but I think he will need somebody else to do the telling.




 
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Citadel Tavern / JULY 2017 HIGHLIGHTS
« Last post by Kevin Cook on August 05, 2017, 12:21:48 PM »
If you are not interested in new or rare dice that were added to the worlds largest collection of dice this month ... Please ignore this post



What's wrong with this picture? Click on the photo above to see the highlights of dice added in July 2017 



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Citadel Tavern / MoonHunter has a blog
« Last post by MoonHunter on August 04, 2017, 10:32:09 PM »
I do have a new blog. Updated at least three days a week.  It is, of course, about gaming. 

So, if you want to see what I am babbling about, visit here.

https://forum.rpg.net/blog.php?2488-MoonHunter/page9


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