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Friday, May 24, 2024

Tony Grove - Memorial


On the afternoon of May 16th, 2024, it was announced that LCS owner, and pillar of the community, Tony Grove had passed away.

Those that knew him were blessed by his loving and giving spirit. The events he ran at Tony's Kingdom of Comics always carried an aspect of charity to them. He would help fundraise for local charities, but would always ask for food donations to the local food bank. His passing will leave a hole in our hearts that may never fully heal.

Before his passing, Tony was working towards retirement and selling his shop. At the Free Comic Book Day even on May 4th, 2024, Tony introduced me to the potential new owner so that Tony's contributions to my non-profit (Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer) would be continued through the new ownership.

On Thursday, May 23rd, it was announced that the store was closing. There's no word as to if it will be reopened at the time of writing.

Tony will be missed by everyone that knew him, and would community will feel the loss of the store.

RIP Tony Grove

Sunday, March 24, 2024

MtG Decklist - One Deck to Rule Them All


A few years ago, I was watching a video on The Commander's Quarters YouTube channel, and I remember loving the concept so much, that I had to grab the decklist in hopes of constructing and playing it. Unfortunately, my playgroup didn't really get into Commander until recently, so I never got around to building it.

I wish I could remember what exact video I watched about this deck, but I do know that it was posted years before WotC even announced that they were going to be making a LotR set for MtG. I would love to be able to find the video and rewatch it to see if my feeling on wanting to play it have changed.

If any of you happen to find the video, please post a link to it in the comments section.

Friday, March 15, 2024

YouTube Recommendation - Ginny Di


As my loyal readers know, I have been a TTRPG player since I was 10 years old. At the time of this writing, that means I have been playing TTRPG's for 39 years.

I have been on both sides of the fence; as a player and as a dungeon master / storyteller / game master. For several years, I was full of inspiration about enjoyed running games. Since the original release of Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf, I have been primarily playing storyteller games of the original World of Darkness. A few years ago, I started to lose my inspiration for fantasy RPG's and I really wanted to run a Dungeons & Dragons game.

I have the desire to be a DM for D&D, but the spirit is weak. So, with all this YouTube viewing that I have been doing recently, I have been trying to find something to get me back to where I once was.

From all the channels I have watched with D&D content, I feel that Ginny Di has been the most inspirational to me. I love her enthusiasm and her ability to entertain. There have been a number of her videos that have made me want to get back into that saddle and get a game up and running.

If you need some enjoyable D&D content with a fair amount of humor, look no further than Ginny Di.

MtG Decklist: Angels


When I was originally playing Magic the Gathering, one of my favorite cards was Serra Angel. Over the years, angels have expanded quite a bit and there are so many options available.

As you can guess, lifegain is just one of the major components of this particular deck. As of writing this, I had a recent game session where I played against another angel deck, and this is a screenshot of my lifetracker when the game ended.

In this specific game, I had the following card combination on my battlefield:

Brisela had several +1/+1 counters on it due to a level 3 Cleric Class that was also on my battlefield since early in the game. When Brisela was transformed, I exiled The Book of Exalted Dead to add the enlightened counter on it. Then I cast Aegis Angel and chose Brisela to be indestructible.

At the last few turns of the game, Brisela was doing 43 points of damage per attack. This has been the most monstrous combination I think I have ever played.

As with most of my constructed decks, it would not have been possible without the help of my ex-wife. While I pull a bunch of cards that I feel work with the concept for the deck, she helps to pair everything down into a manageable 60 card deck.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn

Going through some of my favorite Basic-era books and games and I should really spend some time with another favorite, but one that became a later favorite.

AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn was one of the first accessories for the BECMI flavor of the D&D game. This book also has the distinction of being one of the first Print on Demand books that Wizards of the Coast would release for the old TSR catalog.

The book also has special interest to me since it features the stats for one of my favorite characters Skylla.

The book is 32 pages with color covers and black & white interiors.  The print version is perfect bound; so no staples.   The scan is sharp and clean and PoD version is easy to read.

The book features the titular inn, but really the main feature of this book is the collection of NPCs.  Designed to be a bit like the original AD&D Rogues Gallery.  This product though is a little more robust.  The Shady Dragon Inn write-ups include some background on who these characters are, more than just a collection of stats.  Maybe indicative of shift between the AD&D and D&D lines.

The characters are split by class.   In each case, we get a dozen or so individual characters of Fighters, Thieves, Clerics, Magic-users, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings. with art by Jim Holloway and Larry Day.  While the art helps, each write-up includes a brief description.  This all covers roughly two-dozen pages.

There is another section of "Special" characters.  These are the ones with TM next to their names. Such notables as Strongheart, Warduke, Kelek and of course Skylla.

There is a bit at the end about the Shady Dragon Inn itself along with some pre-gen adventuring parties based on level.  A great aid for DMs that need some NPCs.

The Print on Demand version includes the maps to the Inn as part of the print.  The main PDF does not have them, but they can be downloaded as a separate file.   There are PDFs and image files to print out to use with minis.  So with some minor tweaks, you can use this with any version of D&D you like.  The characters inside can be converted to 5e easily enough.

Ignore the saving throws, and recalculate the base to hit as 20 - THAC0.  I find that 22 or 23 -THAC0 actually works out a little bit better for 5e.

The maps are set to 1" = 5', so D&D 3, 4 & 5 standard.

The Print on Demand versions do not come out to 1" exactly, but when you buy the pdf you get the maps as files to print on your own.

While this book lacks the numbers of NPCs the Rogues Gallery does, it is superior in every other aspect.  Starting in an Inn might be a D&D cliché, but a product like this makes you want to embrace the cliché anyway.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Fan Expo Portland 2024 - My Experiences

January 12-14, 2024
Oregon Convention Center
Portland, Oregon

I was looking forward to my first event of 2024. I've been to Wizard World events in the past, but this would be my first Fan Expo.

The unfortunate part about when this was scheduled is that there were serious weather issues that would rain down snow, sleet and freezing rain on the PNW. We don't often see weather like this, but when we do, it has taken a terrible toll on this area. As I am writing this, there are still areas of Portland that have at least some ice or snow on the ground.

Fortunately, when I travelled to the event on Friday, there wasn't any reason to worry. However, the weather predictions were for later in the day. I decided to take my chances getting up there, and had ideas of what I could do should I get stuck in Portland due to the weather. As luck would have it, I got in and out with ease on Friday.

When I first arrived at the convention center, I was quite surprised that the cost for the underground parking was $20 for the day. At past events, it has been between $12 - $16 for the day. I'm not exactly sure why they decided $20 was reasonable, but unfortunately I prefer the on-site parking due to my physical limitations. It was fortunate that there was plenty of parking available when I arrived and I found a great spot.

To get from the elevator to the area where I had to go to get my badge, we were directed to go up 2 sets of stairs and then down 1 set. Getting the badge was quick, but then we were directed half-way back to where we began to enter the show floor.

When I first entered the show floor, I was surprised with the size. It seems as though this was maybe 1/3 the size of Rose City Comic Con, and it appeared that most everything was contained in the single room. Main stage was in the corner near the end of the celebrity signing areas. 

Another thing I immediately noticed that surprised me was that there were no signs indicating the times celebrities would be available for signing. At other events that I have attending, there was always a schedule for each celebrity guest so that participants could schedule their time to make sure they could get the signatures they wanted.

I later found-out that Fan Expo doesn't schedule signings, but they are basically made available at their signing areas when they are not in other activities like panels or photo-ops. I can understand the reason behind this, but I also don't like this approach as I like to be able to plan my day to include both panels and signings. Fortunately, I was not limited to waiting for any signings due to the fact that I didn't have the budget to afford any autographs, but my friend pre-purchased 2 autographs with Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. More on this later.

As I took my initial walk-through of the event, I noticed that the majority of exhibitors and artists seemed to have a common theme to their items; anime. While I am no opposed to anime, I am not a fan. As I have mentioned when I attended Rose City Comic Con in 2023, the list of items that I am actively searching for at these events are limited to the action figure lines that I collect as well as cheap trade paperbacks. These were in very short supply. I did see a couple of vendors who had RPG products, but everything was either at retail price or I already owned.

Fortunately, there were a number of comic-based guests.
Unfortunately, due to the weather, some of these guests had to cancel their appearance. Keith Tucker actually left the event early on Saturday due to the weather.

While the bad weather was a factor for several people, I don't feel that the event coordinators could do anything short of what they did. I watched their Facebook page and posts for the slew of comments; both negative and positive. Whenever someone would ask about the possibility of refunds or rescheduling, Fan Expo responded with the fact that requests for refunds would need to go through their customer service team. For refunds on purchased autographs and photo-ops, they directed people to contact the Epic team.

I saw a lot of comments from people screaming for the event to be postponed. I can understand the reason why the event couldn't be postponed at such a late date. There are so many pieces that would likely not be able to come together to be able to make a postponed event the same as what was provided. Booking of celebrities would be the worst to change IMHO.

Even though there wasn't a lot of exhibitors or artists that drew my attention, I did make sure to visit with Randy Emberlin to pick-up a couple of prints as well as a sketch cover that he was donating to my non-profit; Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer.

Something I thought was very odd is that there were people tasked to scan peoples badges as they were entering and leaving the event. I'm not sure why that is, butt fortunately my press pass was exempt from this. If anyone could suggest reasons why the event would want to do this, I would love to hear them.

When Saturday started, the weather took a turn for the worse and I decided that I was not going to risk myself to attend. My roommate had already purchased autographs and wasn't wanting to let them go to waste. He's a major Transformers fan, so being able to meeting both Peter Cullen and Frank Welker was a once in a lifetime opportunity that he couldn't miss. Fortunately he was able to make it up there and back safely.

This is where I will go back to my previous comments about the event not having scheduled times for celebrity signings. My friend was able to get there early enough and get into Peter Cullen's line. He had over an hour to wait until Peter finally arrived due to the VIP event from earlier. Because he had a good spot in line, he was able to get the autograph from Cullen quickly and the got into Welker's line. It took him another couple of hours to get his autograph, and we are thankful that he was able to get both.

With all the weather issues aside, I don't feel like this was geared towards my personal interests. As I stated earlier, I don't really go in for anime. Something that I enjoyed at last years RCCC was the fact that there were tables and chairs in a few areas where I could sit, write and people-watch. Understandably, since the food vendors were outside of the main event floor, these weren't necessary. Unless there are some special guests that I absolutely have to meet at next years event, I'm not sure that I will attend.

I do want to thank the coordinators for Fan Expo Portland for providing me the opportunity to come to this event. I wish it had been better and wish there wasn't so much controversy over the weather. For me, I feel that as long as you are honoring refunds for people who couldn't make it due to the weather, I think you did the right thing.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

YouTube Recommendation - The Why Files


As mentioned previously, I started consuming A LOT of YouTube during the pandemic and I came across a multitude of different channels that have peaked my various interests.

Something that I don't think I've mentioned in my past blogs is that I love stories about aliens, cryptids and conspiracy theories. I must admit that I even enjoyed the 1997 movie Conspiracy Theory staring Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart.

So when I first found The Why Files channel, I was instantly hooked. It helps that he not only talks about interesting topics, but includes a fair amount of humor with the help of his sidekick; Hecklefish.

So if these type of topics interest you, I highly recommend you give this channel a try. Within a few weeks of originally finding the channel, I had watched every videos that had been posted. I am now forces to waiting until new content is posted on Thursdays. Worth the wait.

Tony Grove - Memorial

  On the afternoon of May 16th, 2024, it was announced that LCS owner, and pillar of the community, Tony Grove had passed away. Those that k...