DriveThruRPG

Banner: Explore the World of Darkness @ DriveThruRPG.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Onward I go

As I'm working on the specifics for each of the campaign settings, I realize that I really wished I hadn't sold all my old D&D books (save the AD&D hardbacks that I still have). I'm fairly certain that I had each of the adventures I want to run for each setting... minus Dark Sun, because I never really got into it. I had most of the 3.5 conversions, where they were published... like Expedition to Ravenloft or Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk. I'm working on reacquiring some of these books as I have a need to have the physical copy in my hands even though I have digital copies.



As for the Dragons of Autumn and Dragons of Winter 3.5 books, I was fortunate enough to find someone who was selling them off at a very reasonable price. (Not nearly what I found the Dragons of Spring book for, but also nowhere near what others are asking for them on Amazon and eBay.)



Something I think I'm going to start doing is actually using the digital copies that I have to keep notes on. This is easy to do, and I don't mark-up... thus devaluing... my physical copies. Never done this before, but I need to roll with the technological advances at my fingertips.



So far, I have plans for the following campaign settings:


  • Forgotten Realms

  • Dragonlance

  • Greyhawk

  • Ravenloft


I'm very on-the-fence about Eberron. From what I remember of the setting, it's good but I don't know that there were any "epic" adventures for it.



Dark Sun is basically out. As I mentioned above, I never really played it so I am very unfamiliar with the setting. Same can be said for Spelljammers. I don't even think they made a 3.5 version of SJ, so that works to my advantage.



Though I'm familiar with the Oriental Adventures setting for D&D 3.0, I don't think I'm going to offer it as an option because another DM is working on an oriental themed game as a continuation of the campaign he's been running for several years now.



I posted a poll on a Facebook group for local gamers that I help support, and it seems like the majority prefer Forgotten Realms. Even though my purchasing has been focused on Dragonlance, I think I should turn my attention to FR now and see what I can put together.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Batman vs. Predator

Title:
Batman vs. Predator







ISBN:
156389092


Price:
$5.95


Publisher/Year:
DC,
1993


Artist: Andy Kubert


Writer:
Dave Gibbons


Collects:
Batman vs. Predator #1-3





Rating:
3/5





Predator,
the big-screen alien hunter licensed to Dark Horse, made a leap into the DC
Universe and Batman's Gotham City in this highly successful crossover tale.
Appropriately grim and gritty in its art, Batman vs. Predator is a monumental
showdown between champions.





But
the Predator doesn't make a beeline for the Batman, of course. Seeking the most
powerful prey, it first targets the city's celebrated prizefighters before
setting its sights on crimelords and politicos (and one hapless junkyard dog).
Soon, however, it realizes where the real power in Gotham lies -- the Batman.





The
Batman usually makes crimefighting look easy, but he's more than met his
physical match here. Severely injured in the first round, Batman is helpless as
the Predator cuts a vicious swath through Gotham's powerful elite. The alien
beast eventually focuses its attention on one of the city's best take-charge
kind of guys, Commissioner Gordon -- and that threat signals Batman's return to
the ring.





The
tale laid out by Dave Gibbons, illustrated in vivid darkness by Adam and Andy
Kubert, is a masterpiece of the genre, one of the best company crossover books
I've read. More than a decade after its initial release, Batman vs. Predator is
still at the top of its game. Prepare yourself for a fight to remember.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3 Online Comic Book Retailers

With the recent release of The Walking Dead #115, I wanted to get some of the blank covers for use in the Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer (#CBC4C) project.





Fortunately, my LCS was able to secure 4 copies for me... but with the news that #115 was selling out everywhere, I thought I should get as many as I can for the project. So, I turned to the internet to help me and I used 3 different online retailers that I've used in the past.



Within 30 minutes of making the decision to procure more blank covers, I had placed orders with Things From Another World, Midtown Comics and MyComicShop (aka Lone Star Comics). I thought this would be an ideal time to critique each service. All orders were placed on Friday, October 11th.







I've only ever had 1 issue with TFAW, and that was all because I misunderstood their policy about multiple covers.


  • The order I placed for #CBC4C was for 5 copies of The Walking Dead #115 (bagged and boarded). 

  • I received confirmation on October 14th that the package was shipped. 

  • I wasn't able to use the track # provided to find out where this package was.

  • Received October 17th. (To be fair, TFAW is less than an hour away from me... but I did not drive to pick-up the order.)





  • I placed an order for 3 copies of The Walking Dead #115 for #CBC4C. 

  • I tried for 5 copies, but either they didn't have the inventory or there was a set limit on how many I could purchase. 

  • There was no additional charge for bagging and boarding. 

  • I received confirmation on October 14th that the package was shipped. 

  • The tracking for this package said that it was projected for delivery on October 21st.

  • Received October 19th.






As regular readers of my blog already know, I have an affiliate account with MyComicShop so that I can earn credit on orders placed using my affiliate link.


  • I was able to order 1 The Walking Dead #115 and 2 copies of Wonder Woman #19 (bagged and boarded). 

  • The up-side is that I was able to use the remaining credit that I had accumulated.

  • I received confirmation on October 17th that the package was shipped.

  • On October 21st, tracking indicated that packed would be delivered on October 23rd. 

  • Received October 22nd.










Sunday, October 20, 2013

X-Treme X-Men Vol. 2: Invasion


Title: X-Treme X-Men Vol. 2: Invasion



ISBN: 0785110186

Price: $19.99

Publisher/Year: Marvel, 2002

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Writer: Chris Claremont

Collects: X-Treme X-Men #10-18




Rating: 2.5/5





While the
first volume of X-Treme X-Men had its qualities it felt a lot like Chris
Claremont wasn’t entirely sure where to go with what he’d written, like he’d
put himself into a corner. The idea of the diaries was good in theory but the
villain Vargas was just too ill defined to be taken as a true threat and the
plot kept veering off in directions it didn’t need to go in. Thankfully
Claremont’s decision after tying up things in Australia was to put that plot on
the backburner and limited himself to the much more direct plot of an alien
invasion. Which drastically improved the quality of this arc.





Having
linked up with the team after dealing with the events in Australia, Gambit
approaches Storm apparently knowing something about a jewel in her possession
as they lay low. Well no sooner can you say the words “MacGuffin” than it’s
revealed the jewel is key to an invasion and as is Gambit. As both are taken by
the invasion’s advanced guard, the X-men pursue the kidnapper to Madripoor,
arriving just in time to be trapped inside as it’s cut off from the world by a
force-field. With legions of technologically advanced troops storming the
island nation, the X-Treme team find themselves as Earth’s only line of defense
against an unknown foe. Seven mutants against an armada capable of enslaving
entire dimensions.





As with
before, Salvador Larroca’s art remains consistently excellent from beginning to
end. While there are definitely some problems when it comes to one action
flowing into another, they’re still beautifully drawn and inked. Even for
characters which have been around for decades this is the best they’ve looked
in a long time. The only time it ever has any problems is with the character of
Lifeguard (yes they do make fun of the name) with a changing appearance, but that
could easily be put down to her powers.





The story
itself has much more of the focus, pacing and concentration upon the action
which Volume 1 lacked. While there are breather moments in combat and quiet
bits, these are installed at key points within the plot and you never feel
they’re out of place or getting in the way of things. Many actually offer some
surprising moments of characterization such as one newly activated mutant
beginning to regret his choices and asking if the X-Men’s lives are “always
like this?” It adds moments of humanity which tend to be missing in a lot of
stories or are mishandled by certain authors (Millar, Bendis, looking at you)
even if it can come across as slightly hammy at times.





Unfortunately
at the same time it could be argued that it sometimes moves too fast. There is
a very abrupt beginning in which we have information both delivered via
flashback and as events move, which doesn’t seem to gel very well. While it
goes a considerable way to get the story moving quickly the start can be
jarring at first and is unlike something you’d expect in a modern comic.





For the
majority of the book the action with the X-Men trying to stem the tide really
works well. You get a sense of the sheer power and scale of the invasion very
early on. While only running battles are seen rather than full blown
engagements, the local military is thoroughly beaten down every time and the
victories the X-Men make never seem to do enough impact. Well, at least up to
the point where Rogue cuts loose, but explaining that bit would ruin one of the
story’s major highlights and shows just why the X-Men are quite capable of
taking on alien invasions without serving as backup to the Avengers.





The 80s
style writing continues here, giving it the same sort of clunky charm the last
book had but it feels far more appropriate and as if the style is being used
well. Some noticeable flaws remain such as many newly introduced characters
being ill defined, especially in light of how strongly the main team-members
are written in this. While the recently introduced Lifeguard and Slipstream
actually come off well, many of the similar villains seem extremely generic or
we are given little more than a name. This is especially unfortunate because
the main villain, Khan, has an interesting idea behind him and feels like he could
have been truly fleshed out into an interesting reoccurring villain or at least
someone who could be remembered for a few years. When much what little of his
motivations the comic delves into are revealed, he comes across like some
lesser version of Warhammer 40,000’s Emperor, leading his forces on a continual
crusade for unity. It’s just a shame a lot of this is put to one side to emphasize
upon a possible relationship with Storm.





The final
thing to truly note is that the arc actually ends on something of a positive
note. While it’s made clear that their victory is a costly one, and affected
some of those involved more than others, it doesn’t try to crush any feelings
of positivity to make what happened feel as grim and pyrrhic as possible. The
comic still makes it clear there’s been a victory and their adventures will
continue rather than endlessly beating the heroes into the ground and trying to
make the universe darker and darker at every turn.





This isn’t
an arc I’d recommend to everyone but if you’ve got some basic familiarity with
the franchise and are willing to ignore a few unexplained details this is an
okay read. While definitely not something to seek out at all costs it’s
definitely worth picking up at least once, reading over a few hours and then
(probably) forgetting about it. If you’ve disliked how the X-Men have been
portrayed as villains constantly of late and how Marvel seems to be trying to
force every single last outcome to an event to be as bleak as humanly
imaginable this one might be worth looking up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Walking Dead 100 Project



Title: The Walking Dead 100 Project



ISBN: 9781607067993

Price: $12.99

Publisher/Year: Image, 2013

Artist: Charlie Adlard, Rafael Albuquerque, Kristin Allen, Gabriel Ba, Art Baltazar, Ben Bates, John Beatty, Jon Bogdanove, Dan Brereton, Steve Bryant, Talent Caldwell, Daniel Campos, Richard Case, Anthony Castrillo, Victor Castro, Ron Chan, Matthew Clark, Ryan Cody, Nelson DeCastro, Mark Dos Santos, Kevin Eastman, Cat Farris, Walt Flanagan, Tony Fleecs, Autumn Fredrickson, Jenny Frison, Agnes Garbowska, Chris Giarrusso, Ian Glaubinger, Ben Glendenning, Sina Grace, Rob Guillory, Fred Hembeck, Christopher Herndon, Edwin Huang, Chris Ivy, Casey Jones, Ken Jones, Derek Fridolfs, Joe Jusko, Tim Kelly, Sam Keith, Tom Kelly, Dale Keown, Karl Kesel, Leonard Kirk, Scott Kolins, Rich Koslowski, Peter Krause, Andy Kuhn, Steve Kurth, Ken Lashley, Jeff Lemire, Steve Lieber, Menton Matthews III, John McCrea, Ted McKeever, Mark McKenna, Mike McKone, Shawn McManus, Rodolfo Migliari, Albert Morales, Chris Moreno, Marat Mychaels, Todd Nauck, Mike Norton, Ryan Ottley, Tony Parker, Don Perlin, Khoi Pham, Sean Phillips, Whilce Portacio, Gordon Purcell, Tom Raney, Jason Reeves, Paolo Rivera, Darick Robertson, Jimmie Robinson, Gabriel Rodriguez, Tone Rodriguez, Scott Rosema, Riley Rossmo, Hainanu Saulque, Alex Saviuk, Stuart Sayger, Tim Seeley, Sajad Shah, Skinner, Andy Smith, Mark Sparacio, Fiona Staples, Arthur Suydam, Ben Templesmith, Ty Templeton, Mark Texeira, Mark Torres, Jim Valentino, Michael Walsh, Jonathan Wayshak, Doug Wheatley, Shannon Wheeler, Charles P. Wilson III, Marc Wolfe, Jim Zubkavich, Chrissie Zullo



Rating: 5/5



This is the project that inspired me to begin the Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer (#CBC4C) project, so when this trade was released I had to have it.



This is a collection of all the covers from The Walking Dead 100 Project for the Hero Initiative. They were able ro raise over $111k for the Hero Initiative. My hope is that I can raise some decent money for cancer research.



These covers are wonderful to look at. If you couldn't afford to purchase the originals, you can have this trade in your collection. My plan is to collect the artists signatures in my personal copy.



For more information about Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer, please like us on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The planning begins

When the concept for the new campaign hit me, I was very excited about the prospect of being able to DM a large-scale game again. I don't want to give away the surprise I have in store for the players, but I will divulge the process I've gone through to come-up with the finished product.



I'll be the first to admit that more often than not, I tend to improvise on much of my campaigns. I'll start with a great concept and get much of my good ideas out within the first few sessions... and then I'm left with an open story but I've lost connection with how I would like to see the players get from point A to point B.



To alleviate that problem, my concept isn't about the actual A to B, but rather an overarching issue that the players will need to solve and the middle will be filled with some of the great and epic adventures that D&D has produced over the years.



My first thought was to use the Dragonlance settings series of "Dragons of" modules. Margaret Weis retooled these modules for 3.5, so it wouldn't be hard to convert them to Pathfinder. I loved these modules when I was younger, and I felt that they would be good for the "filler" for my campaign.



Dragons of Autumn, Dragons of Winter & Dragons of Spring are the names of the specific books that compiled the entire "Dragons of" module series for D&D 3.5. I didn't have any of these books in my collection, and unfortunately I didn't even have digital copies either. Fortunately, a friend was able to find a copy of Autumn for me, and I found a very reasonably priced copy of Spring. I have my eyes open for a copy of Winter now.



Only a few days later, I started to think of other epic adventures and modules D&D has had to offer over the years, and it made me think that perhaps I should broaden my idea outside of a single campaign setting and let my players choose where they will adventure. We've got Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Ravenloft, Dark Sun and so many other settings available. I'm a personal long-time fan of Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms... but I also love the Temple of Elemental Evil modules based in Greyhawk.



At this point, I've decided to come-up with a few options for my players with regards to setting. Since I'm going to be taking my time with my research and development for this campaign, I'm really looking forward to the end result of it and the beginning of a new gaming experience.






















Sunday, October 13, 2013

Powers Volume 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?

Title:
Powers Volume 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?







ISBN:
1582401837


Price:
$21.95


Publisher/Year:
Image, 2001


Artist: Michael Avon Oeming


Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis


Collects:
Powers #1-6





Rating:
3.5/5





How
do the police operate in a world where superheroes exist? It’s a question
that’s been answered by various comics and graphic novels over the years, from
Gotham City (do the best they can and hope Batman doesn’t turn up to spoil
things) to Alan Moore’s Neopolis (construct your police force out of costumed
heroes too). In Powers, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming come up
with their own variation on the theme: set up a special division to investigate
the superhero side of things.





Christian
Walker is one of the cops in this Powers division who, in classic cop story
style, has just been assigned a new and fairly raw rookie partner called Deena
Pilgrim. As we watch them get to know each other, we the readers can get to
know them too, which is a handy if hackneyed mechanic. Walker’s help has
arrived just in time though, because someone has murdered Retro Girl, one of
world’s most respected superheroes, and it’s down to Walker and Pilgrim to
track down the killer.





As
they work their way through their list of potential subjects, secrets are
uncovered and the world of the superhero starts to appear less polished and
more murky, as alliances between heroes appear increasingly shaky, and the
difference between the heroes’ external images and what they’re actually like
behind their masks starts to diverge. But then the police in this story have a
few secrets of their own too, making it a complex, character-driven drama,
that’ll appeal to those who like the more sophisticated end of the TV cop show,
while maintaining an interest in super-heroics.





Bendis’
dialogue is snappy and tense, giving the characters an economy of conversation
that feels authentic. He also lets the dialogue take a back seat in the action
and let Oeming’s visuals do the story telling, in places where action or
expression can do more for a scene than words alone. Oeming’s style is deeply characterized,
with the pared-down simplicity of an animation, but swathed in depth and
shadow. It serves to enrich the dialogue and maintain the narrative flow
without taking over. It also has more panels per page than you might normally
be familiar with, giving the feeling of speed and pacing.





Bringing
superheroes into police drama actually works quite neatly, since the raison
d’ĂȘtre of both parties is to serve and protect. They do it in different ways
though, which is a contrast brought sharply into focus in this book. You
probably don’t want to visit it if you find superheroes a turn-off but, if
you’re comfortable with your inner superhero fan and like a cop drama too, it’s
well worth a try.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First series of #CBC4C auctions!



We have our first series of auctions to help raise money for the American Cancer Society, and we need your help. Check out the auctions here:








Stay updated on everything for Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer (#CBC4C) on our Facebook page:







A big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped to make this possible!






Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Working on a new campaign

Recently, I had an epiphany. I haven't actually run a large-scale game in quite some time. Over the past few years, I've run a couple of Hunter: The Reckoning games and I'm currently running a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, but nothing with more than a small handful of players.



I remember a time when I was running games with 5-8 players. I kind of miss that. More to the point, I haven't run any really epic games in many years.



That's got to change!



Last year, I was finally introduced to Pathfinder. I've found that I like it, and I'm going to use it for the system of my next campaign... but with a twist. I'm going to work on adapting a few classic and epic modules from AD&D, 2nd edition and 3.5 to be run with Pathfinder.



In order to accomplish this, I'm going to have to do quite a bit of research and acquisition of books. I sold all of my D&D 3.5 books several years ago and I only have a couple of Pathfinder books. Fortunately, most of what I need I have available in digital format... so I'm not starting from ground zero.



For this and the fact that I'm still working to complete my schooling, I'm going to take (at least) the next year to create this campaign. I plan to give my players a lot of options at the beginning of the game from character creation to actual campaign setting. Not sure what I'm going to title the campaign either, but I'm going to blog about the progress of my research and acquisition under the label of "The Pathfinder Progression".






Sunday, October 6, 2013

Star Wars: Dark Empire II


Title:
Star Wars: Dark Empire II






ISBN:
9781593075262


Price:
$19.95


Publisher/Year:
Dark
Horse
, 2006


Artist: Cam Kennedy


Writer:
Tom Veitch


Collects:
Star Wars: Dark Empire II #1-6, Star Wars: Empire’s End #1-2





Rating:
1/5





I
loved the Star Wars movies, for all their faults (particularly in episodes
1-3). Still, I have studiously avoided the various novel and graphic excursions
into the post-film era, so I've remained ignorant of the changes that have been
wrought in the lives of Luke, Leia, Han and all the rest.







Dark
Empire II obviously follows hard on the heels of Dark Empire I, but for some
reason Dark Horse sent me only the second book in the series. So much is
confusing for a neophyte like myself that the book is fairly incomprehensible
-- but let's assume that most of the people reading this book had previously
devoured every iota of text printed in the Star Wars line.





OK,
so Emperor Palpatine is back from the dead, his spirit inhabiting a youthful
clone of his dead body -- for a second time, apparently, since Luke seems to
have killed the emperor already in the previous book. Let's accept that the
emperor has the power to imbue countless people and creatures with his
"dark force," giving them Jedi-like abilities without lessening his
own strength at all. And let's pick up the flow as Luke seeks out the few
surviving and potential Jedi’s in an attempt to restore the Old Republic. Oh,
and Boba Fett, the bounty hunter killed badly in Return of the Jedi, has been
resurrected, too, and he's still chasing Han Solo for the late Jabba's reward.





Accepting
the storyline as is, I still had a few problems with this book. First, the art
is terrible. Luke, Han and Leia never look like Luke, Han and Leia. Implied
motion is static. Postures are awkward. And the color palette seems to have
been limited to the extent that numerous pages are almost monochromatic; with
the exception of a few details, everything is greenish on one page, orangeish
on another, and so on.





Second,
the dialogue sounds clumsy and forced. George Lucas could write better dialogue
than this, and if you saw Attack of the Clones, you know that's saying
something.





And,
third, the action zips by so quickly that you might start wondering why they
even bothered. There's not much drama or suspense when a conflict takes only a
page or two to resolve.





In
scouting around, I've seen much better Star Wars comics on the shelves. While
Dark Empire II might make more sense after reading Dark Empire I, I'd still
call this one a book worth skipping.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer - UPDATE





To date, we have 25 different artists who have donated or are donating their work to this project. I'm so happy with the response we've received so far, but we could really use your help.



So far, I've primarily been funding this project out of my own wallet. We're going to need your support to keep this running. I have setup a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money to help pay for shipping to artists and acquiring new inventory so we can have a steady stream available for auction. Presently, I only have a handful of books available for artists to work on. The positive side is that we have partnered with my LCS, Tony's Kingdom of Comics, and he has been giving me blank covers at a discount to help support the cause. Without Tony's help, I know this project wouldn't be as successful as it is turning out to be.



October 12th will be the start of the first series of auctions for #CBC4C. I have 5 covers to offer-up right now, and look forward to receiving more finished covers over the next few weeks and months. The auctions will run in the middle of the month. I will post updates primarily on the #CBC4C Facebook page, but will send-out tweets throughout the duration of each auction as well. My Twitter handle is @ZanziberPoV.



Please Like us on Facebook as this is the best way to communicate. Spread the word. Share and tweet this post. We're looking to help end the threat of cancer, but we can't do it without your help.



If you would like to learn more about the #CBC4C project or have any questions, please check-out the dedicated #CBC4C page I have on my blog: http://www.zanziber.com/p/comic-book-covers-4-cancer.html or you can email me at zanziber AT gmail DOT com.






Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Series







Last month, the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series turned 30-years old. That means I was 8-years old when I started watching it... and it left an impact. This cartoon helped inspire me to take-up roleplaying. At the time, D&D had a label of "Ages 10+" on it, so I had some time to wait before I could actually play it. (Yes, I thought this was mandatory.)



After reading so many of the articles that were posted when the cartoon hit 30, I was thinking about a special book that came with the DVD boxed set. I'm talking about the Animated Series Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition.






I remember wanting my character to have items like the Energy Bow and the Cloak of Invisibility. This book has all the characters stated-out including their magic items. There are even stats for Uni, Venger and Shadow Demon. This sole book made purchasing the DVD set worth while.



This is also when I began to adore the mother of the chromatic dragons - Tiamat.







This cartoon series also inspired me to run a D&D game where the players were actually their characters in the D&D world... including all their knowledge of the game system. It worked well for as long as it ran. I think, some day, I'd like to revisit that idea and run a longer campaign. Something to consider for the future.

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 ...