Orb and Arrow: Duty – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

The lords of southern Dereff have asked Brillar and Elden to establish a House of the Four Powers near Obreth. They have accepted the challenge and travel north to recruit from both Great Houses. Those who agree will have to say their farewells to friends and relatives, cross the Wild with their families and take up new duties in the south.
But deep in the earth, evil is stirring. The Mother has been roused, the maker of the Savic, enraged by the death of her daughters at the hands of the mages and their supporters. She has summoned a quartet of daughters, vowing vengeance. Brillar must die and her friends with her; then the House of Life must be destroyed and the town of Laurenfell laid waste.
For the first time in a thousand years, the north will be at war!

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

Brillar and Elden, master and apprentice are returning from Obreth in the south. It’s been decided that they will start a House of the Four Powers, a magic school, to help those in need there. To do this, the pair will need to return to their homes in the north and enlist the help of the Great Houses. The story follows the two of them as they make their way past old friends, solidify new alliances, and face ancient threats from the Savic.

This time the story starts off with Elden and Brillar in a new type of relationship. Husband and wife rather than master and apprentice. Their journeys have taken them far from home and they have come to realize where they truly belong. In the south, helping as many people as they can. Brillar wants to recruit Sisters and Elden wants to recruit Brothers from the Great Houses. This could prove difficult since Brillar has killed, which goes against the oath of the Great Houses and Elden has been gone from his home for a great deal of time.

Much of the book deals with the diplomacy of the situation which is quite interesting. As the pair are making their moves, the darkness is growing. Brillar is still recovering mentally from the events of the last book. Her trauma is real and it is impressive to see mental trauma actually dealt with in a fantasy setting. This book manages that extremely well. The enemies that Brillar and Elden face are threatening and intelligent and that makes the story seem much more real.

Like the other books in the series, there are a frustrating amount of grammar errors, however, the content of the story is enough to make this a worthy read for anyone who like fantasy. If you love books where heroes full of light and goodness fight against darkness and the forces of evil, this series is for you. The final book in Orb and Arrow is interesting, impactful and utterly satisfying.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 4

Classic Dungeons & Dragons back in print! - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Well hello you little dungeon monsters you. It’s Slick Dungeon back again with a little campaign diary for the ultimate RPG vampire Strahd Van Zarovich.

Before I go to far, fair warning that this has spoilers for The Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first three campaign diaries here, here and here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

Preparation

First, of course, I read the part of the book that deals with the village of Barovia since that’s where the characters are. There are a good number of NPC’s there to manage but it’s not a huge village so it’s more or less manageable. I took notes about each one since I wasn’t 100% sure what the characters would choose to do.

I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a great section on beefing up the village of Barovia since there aren’t a ton of obvious missions to do there. I also re-watched the video below.

This is just one of a great series of Strahd DM videos

The Fourth Session

At the start of this session, Ismark who is now the Burgomaster of Barovia because his father recently died, has two goals. First, he wants to bury his father. Second, he wants to get his sister Ireena to the town of Vallaki so that she might be safe from Strahd’s clutches. The players basically have one goal. They want to get the heck out of Dodge which is proving very difficult right now. They do keep having dreams that feature Madame Eva, a powerful Vistani psychic. They even find a Tarokka card once they wake up. Ismark has told the players he knows where a Vistani camp is and that he will accompany the players to it, if the players help him to bury his father and get Ireena to Vallaki in exchange. Everyone readily agreed.

My players also seem to have some idea that vampires must be invited to enter a building. To my players what this means is that, they want to become experts in Barovian real estate law, and say that Strahd is not rightfully invited to his own castle. I think that’s their plan anyway? It can be hard to tell with players sometimes.

As the players were waiting around to have the funeral start, they explored town a bit. There they ran into a woman with a cart who is selling meat pies. Now, my players are musical theater fans and so the instant they heard the words meat pies, their suspicions were up. If you have read the Strahd module you will know why. And of course, they are right. But so far, the woman has only presented herself as a sweet old lady. A lot of people around town seem to be really into the pies though. My players bought some but then gave them away. Then they bought some more but never ate them. Honestly, I don’t think that the characters actually have to eat these things for the part that comes later in the book to still be horrifying.

Once the party had wandered around, it was time for the funeral. It was a somber affair with a good portion of town showing up. Ismark was of course sad and Ireena was nearly inconsolable. Ismark didn’t even want Ireena to go to the funeral, figuring it was not safe.

Ireena

If you read far enough into Curse of Strahd, you will get to a character called Rahadin and to me this is one of the most interesting and awesome NPC’s in the book. The guy simply radiates evil. He has killed so many people that if you get within ten feet of the guy, you can hear the screams of all the men and women he has killed in his lifetime. When I first read the module, I felt he was sorely underused. Thankfully the reddit thread I have linked to above gave him a great cameo and I used that.

So, the players meet the Priest, father Donavich. He has a bandage on his hand but is a kindly man. He brings everyone out to the graveyard, not going through the church, but rather around the back, and has a quiet service for Ismark and Ireena’s father.

After the service the players notice a man standing in the shadows. He comes over to the party and they hear the screaming of tons of voices that sounds like it comes directly from him. (Note: I did not use this trait in a combat sense for this encounter because the players were never threatening toward him and vice versa). This of course was Rahadin and he delivered a letter to Ireena and faded away. It was a fairly sympathetic letter from Strahd himself. Hopefully by now my players are realizing that Strahd is fond of correspondence and can basically drop a letter to anyone anytime anywhere.

Miles, the human Acolyte sorcerer player asked Rahadin if he was okay and if he could hear anything odd. Rahadin said no and wished everyone a good day and disappeared into the mists.

That left the players pretty well freaked out. Ismark and Ireena are none too happy either. They said their good nights and got some rest. But before they left, Ismark asked Miles to look into the fact that people have been disappearing in town lately. He’s pretty sure it’s not Strahd’s doing but he hasn’t had time to figure out what’s up. Miles agrees and Ismark tells them that they have a couple of days to get it sorted out since they need to pack at any rate. Also, Miles asked Father Donavich to look around for books related to Barovian real estate law. He said he’d give it a shot.

Father Donavich

Wandering around town the next day, the players made it to Mad Mary’s house. To tell you this next part, I need to tell you a little history of Mad Mary. Also, this part is more or less from that reddit thread, with a little from the book. Mad Mary has a daughter named Getruda who she never told anyone about. Gertruda has been locked up in Mary’s house for ages. Well, Gertruda is a fifteen year old girl who wants to see the world. The week before the players arrived, she escaped her house. She has disappeared but it’s totally unrelated to the missing people in town.

Gertruda is the owner of the dog that has been palling around with the players. So as they walked by the house, Lancelot, the dog, runs into the house and sits in Mary’s lap. Mary has been essentially driven insane so she doesn’t make a ton of sense when she speaks to the characters. (That was fun but also a little difficult to role play) The characters do get out of Mary that she has a daughter who is missing but she’s confused on when it might have happened. She also saw someone dragging a body through the streets. She’s sure that the body wasn’t Gertruda and that it was not the same night that she left. The fact that the two events were not the same event wasn’t conveyed very well but then again, Mary is not in her right mind.

The characters explore a little more around town and find a house that seems to have been broken into and has a bloody candlestick holder on the ground. Eventually they made it up to the church. It turns out that Father Donavich had a son who went off to fight Strahd. It did not go as planned and the son who was in his twenties or so, was turned into a vampire spawn. With a little intimidation and some persuasion, Lady Elarian and Miles got the priest to admit the fact that he has been knocking people out and then feeding them to his son to sate his blood thirst.

The players were smart enough to not want to tangle with a vampire spawn on their own so they convinced Donavich to do the right and noble thing and kill the thing in the basement. They helped him sharpen some wood into stakes and waited until the deed was done.

With that accomplished they went back to Ismark and told him what had happened. They also ran across the meat pie woman once more but still did not eat any pies. Shame.

Ismark let them know he and Ireena were ready to go and they are provisioned up and going to set out at dawn.

That’s where our session ended and I’m really looking forward to the next session or two because very likely we will be doing the Tarokka reading for the players which should be quite fun.

What I would do different

For this session, there is not a huge amount of stuff I would change. I did have a couple points though.

  1. It was really difficult to get my players to understand that Gertruda is missing but no one knows who she is because she has never been revealed to the world. The only real clue to her is the dog and it’s not even guaranteed that the players will come across her in the game but now they think that they have to find and rescue this girl. We’ll see what happens with that because they also think it’s possible this happened years ago, since Mary has not been in her right mind in a long time. They got that impression from an offhand remark Ismark made about Mary being “mad Mary” for a long time. I think I would have someone else provide the clues about missing people if I went with this scenario again.
  2. You can never fully predict players so I seriously did not expect them to want to become experts on ancient Barovian real estate law. But they do want to be which makes sense in a roundabout way. They also have a deed for a house and windmill so technically there has to be some law surrounding property in these lands. This is not something I would change since I didn’t predict this whole thing, but I think I am going to do all I can as a Dungeon Master to have these characters running around all over Barovia looking for the one guy who knows real estate law. I haven’t exactly figured out how to do it but for now, they were just told to check in the town of Vallaki. In the town of Vallaki I will have someone tell them to go somewhere else and so on until I finally give in and let them meet some random NPC who just loves real estate law. That should be entertaining.

I’ll be back next time to tell you if the characters make it to Madam Eva and what she tells them if she does a reading for them after we have our next session.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Empire Strikes Back Turns 40 today!

And I Explain Why I can’t Review Star Wars Films

Hi out there internet people. This blog post is going to be a little different than most of mine. This is not a review but rather a few thoughts I want to share on my favorite franchise and favorite film of all time. I have a duty as a Star Wars fan to notify anyone reading this that there are HUGE spoilers in this essay for several Star Wars films. I know, it’s a forty year old film and perhaps the timeline on that warning has expired but for anyone who hasn’t seen these films, missing out on the twists in this movie is an experience I do not want to burden anyone with.

The Empire Strikes Back has turned 40 today. It’s probably the most highly regarded Star Wars film of all time and it’s absolutely my favorite film. If you were a kid back when this premiered and got to see it in the theaters like I did, before there was Return of the Jedi, or any of the prequels, sequels and spinoffs, this movie likely takes up real estate in your imagination.

After I saw the film, my friends and I were absolutely blown away. Darth Vader is Luke’s father?! Wait, is Lando a good guy or a bad guy? I mean he seemed friends with Han but then let the stormtroopers take him and then tried to help but still, what if he is in league with the Empire? Did you see those bounty hunters? Man, I want to see a whole movie about those guys! And the one with the jet pack who captured Han Solo, what’s his story? Will Luke be able to save Han? Is Luke in love with Leia? Leia is definitely in love with Han and vice versa though! And of course, my favorite question of all time when it comes to Star Wars, who is Yoda? Where did he come from and what is his story?

I used to want answers to all of those things so badly it drove me wild. I spent hours playing with my friends, pretending to be these characters. As I grew older, I would have hotly contested debates about the franchise and most often about this movie. We all loved this one the most, even after Return of the Jedi answered a lot of the questions we had. The fact remained though, that we never got all the answers. We still wanted to know more about Darth Vader’s origins and where Leia had been before she met Luke and company. We were given novels, comics, and other speculation as to those answers for years. And again, when the prequel films came out, we got some answers but not all.

The truth is, I don’t want all the answers provided in Star Wars. I know that now we have a fierce drive and desire to see every plot hole filled, all characters have an arc, and a satisfying conclusion to a saga once it is time to be wrapped up. This is why I can totally understand how much people love the MCU. That franchise is exceptionally good at tying up almost everything in a neat package with a neat little bow on top. Of course there are some things in those movies that are still open ended but many times these things are explained away in an interview or with a tweet or a timeline flow chart. Once the answer is officially given, it’s cannon and we don’t have to wonder so much anymore.

Yet in Star Wars, what is left unanswered fuels the imagination of tons of creators. Not only are there gaps in plots, there are gaping holes. Those holes can be filled with more stories but those tend to bring up even more questions. I love that. It makes the universe of Star Wars feel so much more alive. Here on earth, in our current time, our lives have plot holes. We don’t have a character arc. Sure we can learn and grow as people but for the most part we are, “just a simple man (or woman or person or pick your pronoun), trying to make my way in the universe.” That means that we don’t get all of our questions answered. And you know what? That, to me, is what makes Star Wars seem real and full. It’s a fully realized universe because it is so lived in that you can’t find all of the answers.

When Rise of Skywalker came out, I was in line to see it on opening day. Most of my friends were too. I know, that there is a lot of criticism of this film and I completely understand that. We don’t know a lot of the answers to the questions this movie brings up. And while I am hesitant to give any spoilers of this movie because it is more recent, I do see how at least one major plot point doesn’t make a ton of sense. You know what though? I don’t care. I still loved it. Why? Because it left me with questions that I want answers to, just like The Empire Strikes Back did.

Now, that’s not to say that I think all Star Wars films are perfect. Far from it. From the early movies which hardly featured a single female character (Leia excepted of course) and virtually no people of color, to the still currently lacking LGBTQ representation, there are quite valid criticisms of these movies. What I don’t think they should be criticized for is for leaving your imagination open to wonder what more there is to the story.

There are character arcs in the sequel films that were changed mid stream. There are characters who unjustly got far less screen time than they deserved. And there are huge unexplained plot holes. I understand how someone can find all of that frustrating. But, with Empire at least, those things fueled my imagination and the imagination of countless people world wide. I suspect Rise of Skywalker will actually do the same.

While that one is not my favorite Star Wars film, it has a place in my heart, just as anything Star Wars does. That’s why I can’t bring myself to ever review a Star Wars movie. I know that I genuinely cannot be objective about it. I’ve loved it for too long and that’s never going to stop. I personally think we could use more films like Empire, that force our imaginations to ask questions. Be honest with yourself for a minute, is it really that bad to come out of a film wondering about something that happened in it? Is it so awful to wish that there was more of an answer? I don’t think so. And the reason I don’t think that is because those questions propel the story forward like the Falcon entering hyperspace.

Don’t you want more out of film? Don’t you want to be asking questions because of a movie you saw? With Empire Strikes Back, my deep love of film was truly born. And not because of the fact that every twist, turn and event was spoon fed to me with nothing left to know. No, it’s precisely because it made me ask questions that this is and always will be my favorite film.

I can’t wait to see what the next forty years of questions brings me from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

May the force be with you.

Always,

Slick Dungeon

Orb and Arrow: Honor – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

A thousand years have passed since the Great War that banished magic users from southern Dereff. Not knowing about the ban, Brillar has chosen to travel to southern cities as apprentice to Master Elden, Mage of the Four Powers. Her unique skills are needed in the southern towns; his would be feared.Their plans for a peaceful journey are shattered when they reach Obreth where a terrible pestilence rages and is devastating the city. They quickly learn that all their Powers are needed to combat the plague and find the man who set it in motion. But struggling with the pestilence has left them vulnerable and now – Brillar is missing!

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

Brillar has been apprenticed to her master Elden, Mage of the Four Powers, for about half a year. The two decide to make their way across the Wilds and down south to explore regions they have never seen. Dark powers including undead warriors, evil potion makers and Dark mages known as the Savic all threaten the pair. They make it to a town threatened by illness and just when things seem like they might turn out okay, Brillar goes missing.

In this second volume of Orb and Arrowthe stakes are higher, the emotions run deeper and the intensity is heightened. While this volume doesn’t have as many action scenes as the first book, it was a more gripping read. Brillar and Elden make some powerful friends and some powerful enemies. On top of that, Brillar has taken lives in the past out of necessity and is now unable to take the Oath of the healers. When Elden and Brillar make it to a southern town all her healing skills will be needed. Yet there is an unseen threat that could be the end for both Brillar and Elden.

It was fascinating to read how Elden and Brillar react when they are separated. There were parts of the book that I found incredibly dark. That’s not a criticism of the book, it made me want to keep reading, but it was very intense. A few more scenes of action would have been welcome in this volume but the narrative doesn’t suffer much from the lack of it. What could have been improved in my mind was a bit more detail on how Elden reacts to Brillar’s disappearance. That was a subject that left me wanting to know more.

If you enjoy fantasy fiction books like The Lord of the Rings, you will most likely enjoy the Orb and Arrow series. The end leaves the reader curious to know more and I look forward to reading the next volume.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Girl on the Third Floor – #MovieReview

Hey all, it’s Slick Dungeon here and I wanted to give you my take on the dramatic drywall antics of the film Girl on the Third Floor. Be forewarned, before you read on, there will be spoilers right in the very foundation of this review. If you really want to watch the movie before you read the review, go for it and then come back. If you don’t mind spoilers, read on. You do you.

The film stars CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks), Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks and Tonya Kay.

I’ll give you a quick run down of the plot but then I had a few questions about this movie.

Don, a class A jerk, who has defrauded a bunch of clients of their retirement money has moved into an old house. As is typical with horror films, the purchase of an old house is a poor investment and to make matters worse, the dude is trying to fix up the place on his own. He needs to fix it up before his pregnant wife moves in. About the first thirty minutes of the film is watching CM Punk listen to angry metal and totally mess up drywall. There are also lots of shots of him walking slowly as if he thinks someone is in the house and wondering where his dog got off to. Plus he picks up a lot of marbles that roll around out of nowhere and he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal.

Guess what? Don is still a jerk when he meets an attractive woman named, Sarah, and then instantly sleeps with her despite the fact that he has a pregnant wife. We also get to see him talk to his neighbor across the street and go to a bowling alley. I had major questions about the bowling alley but we’ll get to those in a bit.

Don, despite being a jerk who likes angry metal, yelling at his dog, and cheating on his wife, also has a friend named Milo. His friend, who is innocent in all this, finds out that Don is still a class A jerk and had an affair. After a fun day of doing more drywall and then going to a bar, Milo goes back to work on the house only to end up talking with Sarah for a moment and then getting his head crushed in with a sledge hammer. To finish up the job, the also innocent dog is killed, cut up and stuffed into the dryer for Don to find. So for those keeping track, Don has ruined peoples lives, cheated on his wife, gotten his buddy and his dog killed and also been rude to the pretty odd bowling alley owner all because he wouldn’t just admit he sucks at drywall and hire some contractors with that money he defrauded people of. If you are getting the impression I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Don, you would be right. That guy sucked.

Turns out that the woman who Don had an affair with is a ghost. Yeah, you probably saw that coming. Or, if you were watching the film you would. The house they are renovating used to be a house of ill repute, if you know what I mean. And bad stuff happened there and then it seems bodies were buried and hidden and those spirits don’t exactly like it when renovations to the house are made. The rest of the movie is basically seeing if Don will survive, it his pregnant wife will end up dead and if anyone will figure out where the heck all those marbles are coming from. I won’t spoil the end but yes all those questions get answered.

The performances were interesting and the pacing of the film was overall good if a little too slow at times but I still wondered a few things about this movie.

  1. Don shows up and starts poking around in the house. This disgusting black goo starts coming out of the wall. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t instantly make you think the house is haunted but I would think that maybe you would want to find out if that stuff is some kind of leak or dangerous chemical or something but Don is just like yeah okay. Why didn’t he watch more home improvement videos before starting?
  2. Similarly, this white goo comes through the electrical outlets at which point, I would think you would freak out. Not thinking that the house is haunted still but definitely, like, man I need an electrician here because, like, I don’t want my new baby to get electrocuted because I am pretty sure there is something wrong with the wiring. Why would you ignore that?
  3. Next Don talks to his neighbor who seems to give cryptic hints about life choices and the house he just bought. Why wouldn’t you want to know more here?!
  4. Then the dude goes to this bowling alley. There is no one there and there are only three lanes. The owner makes Don some food and asks him if he is visiting or new in town. Don tells him about the house he bought. At which point the owner asks Don if he is gay and tells him that the house has a history of being, “bad for straight men.” Dude. Someone tells you that about the house you just bought and your impulse is not to say, what do you mean by that tell me more?!?!? Really, I would be like that is one of the weirdest things anyone said to me but all Don does is say, “You’ve got a real nice way of welcoming people to town” angrily at the dude. I get missing the dry wall, the white electrical goo and rolling marbles not tipping you off about your haunted murder house but if a bowling alley owner tells you the place is bad for straight men and you don’t follow up, that is entirely on you.
  5. What did Milo ever do? This house seems to kill men who are bad to women because it has a bad history, but that Milo guy was just there doing some home chores. While the house doesn’t seem to like it, I’m not sure that the rules as this movie has set things out should have had Milo die. He didn’t cheat on anyone or anything. All he did was say that Sarah probably shouldn’t be there and he gets a hammer to his head for that? Come on murder house, stick to your own rules!
  6. When Milo comes in the first place he is baffled by the fact that Don hardly has any tools. Why didn’t Don look this stuff up? I’m gonna renovate a whole house. You know what I’m not gonna do? Read about how to do that!
  7. Okay so again spoiler here but Sarah is a ghost who died in like the twenties maybe but she seems to be up on modern lingo and able to use a cell phone. Do ghosts still get to learn stuff after they are dead? Also she can totally touch stuff all the time and Don even sleeps with her but she is dead, so uh, how does she even feel warm to him?
  8. Later the bowling alley is packed and there are a ton of people there. Does no one else there know that Don bought a murder house? If they do, then it’s pretty messed up that they didn’t warn him. Then again, Don is a class A jerk so I guess it’s all good.
  9. In the end one of the characters lives but then does more renovation on the house. The thing is that there are still at least two bodies in the place. This character knows about the house and why it is haunted yet they don’t check everywhere for other bodies. What the heck man? If you find one, you check the whole house, that’s the rule.
  10. A major plot point in this is this hidden third floor that Don finds when the roof of his bedroom basically collapses. His reaction to that? Just seal it back up. Okay, I get that you don’t get creeped out by a ton of marbles rolling around unexplained. I get that when you hear a laughing voice at all hours, you think it’s in your own mind, I get how you ignore that weird white goo coming out of electrical sockets, and I guess I get why you didn’t ask more at the bowling alley (although I totally would have) but how in the world do you look at a surprise third floor and not at least call someone about it?!?!?!
  11. I’m pretty sure that a neon sign flashing that said this was a bordello where people got murdered so you should probably stay away Don, would not have been enough for this guy to forget about the amateur dry walling. But when you find your dog murdered in the dryer for any reason, it is time to leave. What kind of an idiot stays in a house like this?!
  12. I guess a class A jerk is your answer.

I hope you enjoyed this review and remember that if you are about to take a sledge hammer to a wall because there is weird black goo coming out of it, you are probably better off going to the bowling alley and finding out why it isn’t a good house for straight guys. Or you know, watching some home improvement videos first at least.

Handily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 5

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf. Today we are going to continue by talking about role playing Elves with children.

Elves are mystical and ethereal creatures in Dungeons & Dragons. They tend to be thin and just slightly under average human height. They are very long lived and can be well over 700 years old.

For a kid, those are a lot of fun traits to portray. Who doesn’t want to feel like they can live forever, be beautiful and graceful, and know more than most of the people around you? Still, this can be challenging to role play. But remember that kids are the ones driving their characters so if they want to role play the Elf they play as being younger and not knowing as much, there’s no problem with that. And if they start acting like their Elf knows everything, but you know in fact that what they are saying is silly, don’t spoil it for the kid. Let them believe their character has vast and deep knowledge if that’s how they want to play it. Don’t let your own worldview cloud what they think is deep insight. Elves also tend to be diplomatic. For most kids, that’s not an easy thing to role play but it can be done. As long as they understand that their character would be the one that is trying to smooth a situation over, they’ll be able to give it a shot.

Most elves come from woodlands and tend to be more in tune to nature than shorter lived races such as humans. The most common reason that elves take up adventuring in the first place is more or less out of boredom. They have long lives and want to see the world, so after a few centuries of hanging out with your family, you’d probably want to get out for a bit too. That doesn’t have to be why your kid’s character plays one but it’s pretty easy reason to give if they need one.

Another cool thing about elves is that they get to choose when they are adults. No one declares it for them. A lot of kids can get behind that for sure. In the basic rules they give child names and adult names for elves. This can be confusing, so make sure you know if your kid is playing an Elf who is a child or an adult.

Elf Traits

There are a few things you get for being an Elf.

Ability Score Increase

Elves get a Dexterity increase of 2. Again, if you don’t want to have to do complex math with your kids, just let them know that Elves are fast and flexible. Dexterity is one of the six abilities their character will be good at.

Age

As stated above, the ages can range hugely with elves. Typically a 100 year old elf is going to be a young adult and one who is in their 700s is getting on in age.

Alignment

Elves tend to be a little chaotic in their alignment but tend to be more on the good side. The definite exception to that is the Drow, which we will talk about when it gets to subraces below.

Size

For this I would just think slightly shorter, somewhat skinnier human. Mechanically speaking, their size is medium which can be important in game play.

Speed

The speed for elves is 30 feet which makes them pretty much the same speed as humans.

Darkvision

One of the cool things about being an elf is that you can see in dark and dim lighting. If it’s dim light to everyone else, it’s bright light to you. If it’s dark to everyone else, it’s dim to you. That effect extends out 60 feet. But when you are in darkness, you can only see shades of gray and not colors.

Keen Senses

In the rules it says that Elves have proficiency in the perception skill. The main thing to remember if you are the Dungeon Master is that elves are far more likely to notice a threat before others do.

Fey Ancestry

If you are new to D&D and you read, “You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.” the second half probably seems fine but the first half of that sentence may be confusing. There are some magical ways that a creature can be “charmed” which is a condition that affects the character. Basically elves are hard to sweet talk into doing anything they don’t want to do, even when someone tries to do it magically. That’s one of the advantages of being an elf,

Trance

This is honestly my favorite thing about elves in D&D. They don’t have to sleep! They basically meditate for four hours a day and they are fully rested. Between this trait and their high perception, elves make the best creatures to take watch in almost any situation. They are much more likely to detect a threat and rouse the party. That can be a ton of fun to role play.

Languages

Elves speak common and elvish. The elvish language is beautiful and melodic. This is perfect for bards to weave into song, that is, if they can get a grasp on the complex language. While it can be nice for other characters to be able to speak elvish as well, I don’t think it is as vital as having at least one character be able to read Dwarvish characters.

Subraces

There are three basic subraces for elves and I definitely have one that I prefer when it comes to kids.

Drow

There is one subrace of elves that I personally don’t recommend much for kids to play. That’s the Drow. The reason? Almost all Drow are supposed to be evil. The most famous Drow of all is Drizzt Do’Urden, ranger of the North. He has had tons of books written about him and gained the trust of most of the people who have fought by his side. But guess what? It’s really complex to play a dark elf how is just trying to break through and be good. Some kids, of course can run with this and make it work but in my experience I wouldn’t recommend this for a kid under 12 or so. If your kid just really wants to play a Drow, there is no reason you can’t have Drow be good aligned in your campaign. And again, this is just me but I think most kids want to be the hero of their story rather than the villain, which is just much easier if you don’t come from an evil group to begin with.

High Elf

These elves are a bit more knowledgeable than others and therefore they get to increase their intelligence score by 1. They are good at using the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow. In addition they get to learn a spell from the wizard cantrip list which is always fun. It can be a little complicated when you get into spellcasting so that can be a barrier for kids when there is too much to figure out. These elves also get to speak an additional language. When I picture this type of elf in my mind, the character that comes to me is always Elrond from Lord of the Rings. That’s just my take on this subclass though, it doesn’t have to be yours.

Wood Elf

Wood elves are my favorite for kids. These creatures get to increase their Wisdom score by one, they get to have proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow, they get to add 5 feet or movement to their movement speed, and can attempt to hide even when they are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena. Which makes them exceedingly useful in any campaign that might take place with some woods or some bad weather. I love to see it when kids try to sneak up on their enemies and are successful. Plus this subrace is more in tune with nature and plenty of kids can relate to that. I just think this kind of elf is a whole lot of fun and the role play potential is huge.

Slick Dungeon’s tips on Elf characters

As always, everything I put up above is totally subject to change based on how you want to run your campaign. Elves can be a little difficult to role play since they are supposed to be aloof. Some kids interpret that as silence. I can see why too. If you watch Lord of the Rings, Legolas does a lot of standing around staring and looking graceful. He spends a lot less time chit chatting than the other characters. While that works awesome in a movie, that’s hard to pull off with kids. If you kid wants to play a talkative wood elf, there is no reason she can’t do that. If your kid wants his elf to be clumsy and a bit silly, that works too and could be really fun. I think getting some of the mechanical stuff in this class is really useful. Like I said, they make great lookouts and they are very good at stealth a lot of the time. Plus elves are generally deadly when it comes to combat. I would just make sure that your kid really wants to play one and understands, not necessarily what elves are supposed to be like according to the rules, but how they want to play an elf. Make sure it’s something you can get on board with and that won’t just turn into the role player staying silent to seem aloof.

As far as playing Elf NPC’s, that can be a little easier. You just need to make sure you understand the culture of the elves in your campaign. Are they a secluded society or do they tend to blend in with everyone? Would it be uncommon for someone to encounter elves in your campaign? If so, why? The typical trope is to play elves with English or Welsh accents but you don’t have to do that. You can have an elf who sounds like he is from New Jersey or Boston or whatever if you want to. They don’t have to have any kind of accent either, but since elves do tend to be ethereal creatures, there is usually something to make them stand out. Other than the pointy ears of course. Just decide what that is for your game and lean into it, I’m sure you and your kids will have a blast.

Thanks for reading the post. I hope you got a couple of good tips out of this and I would love to hear how your games with kids go. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time I will be writing about role playing a Halfling.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 3

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Hi all you dungeon creatures, Slick Dungeon your friendly Dungeon Master back with more campaign diaries for the Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first two campaign diaries here and here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

And once again, warning that there are spoilers below so if you are playing Curse of Strahdwait until you finish to read this post. That goes for my players too!

Preparation

After being stranded in the lands of Barovia and defeating the “Death House”, my players were ready to see more of the area. They basically had two choices, try and go through the deadly mists (that they didn’t know yet were deadly) or head toward the village of Barovia. Guess which they ended up choosing?

I knew they would have to walk down the road so I was ready to roll on some random encounter tables and I had stat blocks handy for what they might run into. I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a great section on beefing up the village of Barovia since there aren’t a ton of obvious missions to do there. I also made a lot of notes on NPC’s because, there are quite a few in this book.

Finally I took a look at this video to prepare.

With that all set up, we were ready to play.

The Third Session

Right off the bat, I told the players that they were on a road and on one side was a mist and in the opposite direction there was a sign pointing toward the Village of Barovia. They were pretty freaked out by Strahd from the last session so they wanted to try to get out of there as quick as they could. Unfortunately for Lady Ellarian Brysalor and Miles Adelard just entering the mist gives you one level of exhaustion. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they were going nowhere that way. They headed towards the village, along with the dog they found in the Death House.

I rolled on the random encounter table and it came up with four wolves. I was pretty sure that they would totally kill the party if any roles went really bad so the wolves followed and kept getting closer. In addition to that there was a raven that seemed to be leading the part along, although I don’t think my players actually made the connection there. That’s fine though because the raven is actually a Wereraven and will come into play later in the game.

It took them about two in game nights to get there and the wolves did end up attacking. Miles rolled really low again so none of his spells worked (he’s a sorcerer at level 3 at this point). Luckily before the wolves totally overwhelmed them, a swarm of ravens attacked the wolves and the characters made it out of there.

A hungry wolf looking for supper

When the pair (or trio if you count the dog and yeah, my players totally count the dog) got to the gates of Barovia they were a bit weary. They knocked on the first door they saw and found a Barovian family with a sick father. Miles leaped into action to cure the father but rather than be appreciative, the people just seemed kind of hollow. This is because they don’t have souls as is written for many Barovians in the campaign book. The players thought it was a little weird that they weren’t more appreciative but didn’t think too much of it.

Gates of Barovia

They made their way over to the Blood of the Vine tavern where they met a few Vistani. Considering the experiences they have had with Vistani so far, my players are not very trusting of those people and I can’t say I blame them, what with them getting tricked into going to Barovia and all. They also met Ismark Kolyanovich, a pretty major NPC in the book. He asked the party to help him protect his sister from the vampire Strahd and so far they have an uneasy trust of him.

They explored the town a bit and made it to Bildrath’s mercantile where they met Bildrath who gave them a quest in exchange for a discount at his store. They ended up finding and fighting an Ankheg, and successfully brought the goods back. Even so, Bildrath is a real cheapskate in this book so he still tried to take advantage of the characters.

Later that day, Ismark wanted to show the players just how dangerous it was to take on Strahd. He told them he would help them find a Vistani encampment in exchange for helping him to escort his sister Ireena to the town of Vallaki where he thinks she will be safe from Strahd. Then he showed them that there was an army of ghosts that walk toward Castle Ravenloft at midnight every night. This is all that’s left of the previous adventurers that tried to take on the vampire. I think Ismark showing them that before he allowed them to agree to their mutual deal gained him a lot of trust from the party.

Ismark

At that point the players decided it was time for a good long rest but they did spend a few minutes talking to the bartender at the Tavern and to the Vistani there. The bartender is soulless and so that gave the characters a good chance to ask about what was wrong with the guy. They learned that not everyone here has a soul and in fact, there are a lot of people that don’t. The Vistani told them a little bit about what they knew about Strahd but not much. The characters also wanted to know how they could get their hands on Stanimir for bringing them here in the first place. They’re not too happy with that guy.

The next day, Ismark plans to go with Ireena to bury his father’s body. We ended our third session here so I will be back more with what happened next in later posts.

What I would do different

I think most of this session went well but there are a couple of things I would change if I ran this again.

  1. I think I would roll ahead on the encounter table prior to the session to make sure that whatever the players encounter wasn’t going to wipe out the party at the earliest levels. (I do usually do this but wanted to give it a shot the other way this time)
  2. Honestly, I am kind of tired of playing merchants who can’t stand their customers so I think I would make Bildrath less miserly the next time I played this. I know it’s kind of a common trope to have merchants that are overpriced and just don’t like that characters and while that fits well with this story, it gets old just telling players that everything is way out of their price range.
  3. I think the thing that worked best was Ismark earning the trust of the characters but I will be honest, I didn’t feel like I role played him that well. I should have read up on him a little more before the start of the session.

I’ll be back next time to tell you how it goes with the burial of the Buromaster in our next session.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Orb and Arrow – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

Brillar was expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a healer but she had other plans. Now a highly skilled archer, she has been forced to kill to release a bound mage. It may have been self-defense, but that is no excuse for a healer. Releasing such a skilled War mage from bondage could get you killed…or apprenticed. When she chooses the latter, Brillar finds herself on a desperate journey to stop the rising tide of Darkness. Her decision to apprentice herself to Elden, the man she rescued, sets her further from the healer’s calling. Still, her healing spells serve them both well as they face the dangers of a world often torn between the Light and Darkness.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Brillar is a healer but is also skilled with a bow. She sets out to learn more about the world and gets more than she bargained for when she happens upon a mage trapped in a cruel lock. Brillar must decide if she should take a chance on the mage and ease his suffering or leave him to die. Brillar chooses to free Elden to find that he is a powerful mage and a worthy teacher. She apprentices herself to Elden and they spend the next year traveling, learning, teaching and fighting evil together.

This was a sprawling adventure that covered a lot of ground. The dimlock that Brillar has to free Elden from exudes evil and everything about it in the book is fascinating. It would have been nice to see a little bit more about the background of it and where it got its power but I suspect that may come up in future volumes. The relationship between Brillar and Elden was entertaining and it was enjoyable to see how their relationship developed.

There was a portion of the book that was a little bit slow, when Brillar and Elden go out into the wilds. But even then, by the end the story and the action picked up enough pace to make that section work. The only other negative in the book is that there are quite a few typos but the story was compelling enough that it was forgivable.

In some ways this book is reminiscent of The Witcher series although, the protagonists are quite different from the ones in that series. Elden and Brillar are basically good at their core unlike some of the protagonists in The Witcher. What the two series have in common is this sort of open world feel where the characters wander around and do what good they can when they can. If you like fantasy adventure series, this one is a good addition to your bookshelf and I look forward to reading the future volumes.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

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The Fog (1980) – #MovieReview

“Eleven fifty-five. Almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before twelve. Just to keep us warm.” That’s how John Carpenter chose to start his masterful follow up to Halloween and prove that he is one of the all time horror greats. He showed us he could take a shoestring budget, a simple ghost story, a menacing tone and a crap ton of dry ice and fuel nightmares for decades.

What’s going on everyone? Slick Dungeon here and I just re-watched this classic from 1980 and wanted to give my thoughts on it and a little bit about horror in general. It has been a long time since I saw this movie so although, I certainly remember thinking it was a decent film, I had forgotten how good it actually is. Needless to say, I will be giving some mild spoilers here so be forewarned.

The beginning of the film is a story around a campfire. At this point in cinema history, that’s probably over done and most of the time would not work. But here, in this film, the whole movie is what amounts to a campfire story so it makes a lot of sense. Also, by framing it this way at the beginning, Carpenter is able to set up the atmosphere, give us most of the information that we need to understand the story, and introduce us to the town the story is set in. He takes the time do one very important thing that I think a lot of modern horror films lack. He sets the tone. If you think about one of the best horror films to come out in recent decades, Get Out, does the exact same thing. I know that gore splatter and body horror films are popular but they never scare me as much as a film willing to be patient enough to make the scares matter.

We’re told the legend of the founding of Antonio Bay, involving a tragic shipwreck and it’s obvious from the start that even if every word of this legend is not going to turn out to be true, it will still be deadly. Even more so because the teller of the tale is able to time the tale so that it is finished at the very second that it is 100 years to the date that the shipwreck happened. We know there are ghosts coming for someone from the depths of the bay, through the fog.

Around the same time, a priest in town discovers an old journal belonging to his grandfather, full of murder and secrets buried for a century.

It turns out that the campfire story was only partly true. The shipwreck was deliberate and six men met their deaths because of it. Now, one hundred years after, these six men are coming back through the fog to take revenge on six victims.

Simultaneously, a ship out to sea is enveloped with fog, and a radio station operator starts seeing the impossible. The fog moves against the wind.

The rest of the movie is basically what amounts to guessing who will get killed and who will survive. And to be honest, the effects don’t all hold up that well. But it still works for a few reasons. First, Carpenter waits long enough to truly show us the monsters that they don’t have to look that good. Second, the performances by everyone in this are outstanding. To top that off, the film stars high quality actors including the ever entertaining Hal Holbrook, scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and of course, the most famous Hitchcock blond of them all, Janet Leigh. Finally, Carpenter makes the stakes high immediately by murdering everyone on the ship at sea.

It’s a fascinating psychological portrait and while there are things that jump out at you and startle you, it never has to rely on that to be frightening. I wish more films could learn these lessons. Jump cuts are fun and entertaining but they simply don’t make for the greatest tone, and personally, I usually notice the edit and think, “yeah okay that was a jump cut, let’s move on.”

I can see how a lot of horror fans may have missed this film as it was never as popular as Halloween and it’s sequels and while it doesn’t quite grip you as well as The Thing, it is still masterful cinema. If you love a good ghost tale and have about ninety minutes, you should definitely check this movie out. And if, like me you haven’t seen it in years, it’s a great and fun look back on when horror took it’s time to creep up behind you before striking out.

Foggily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Emperor’s Railroad (The Dreaming Cities Book 1) – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

SYNOPSIS

Global war devastated the environment, a zombie-like plague wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. But that was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place.

Conflict between city states is constant, superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out.

Until now…

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Young Abney doesn’t have a lot in this world. He has his mother, his wits, and a whole lot of undead creatures threatening their existence. Over a thousand years ago the world was thrown into war between angels, a zombie plague broke out, and civilization was thrown into a standstill. In the kingdom of Virginia, Abney and his mother decide they need to go to the town of Charleston, Virginia, along the Emperor’s railroad. When they get into a spot of trouble, a Knight of the Dreaming City of Atlantis arrives and saves the day. Quinn, the heavily armed knight, brandishing sword, falchion and gun befriends the pair and is hired to escort them to Charleston. Even when the road seems clear, what they find is mostly trouble. Will they survive the next moment, let alone the next day?

When I first picked this up, I was expecting a traditional fantasy with maybe some modern technology added in (I admit I judged this one on the cover), but what I got was a lot more interesting than that. The blend of angels, who are not infallible, zombies, and a lethal dragon made for a fairly gripping read. And that’s to say nothing of the plain old human threats that faced the trio of Abney, Quinn and Abney’s mother. It was not what I had expected but that didn’t make it a bad read at all. I’m not sure how much I liked the story being told from the point of view of Abney and it did make me wonder how this series will progress. Will we get different tales of Quinn from other people’s perspective or will it be something entirely different? It was also a little jarring to read about these things happening in America, albeit far in the future but occasionally, the mention of some landmark would take me out of the story for a bit.

If you like books full of wandering adventure, fantasy, or dystopian post apocalyptic books you’ll probably enjoy this. It was sort of a mash up of Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead and True Grit. While it’s easy to like all of those things separately, not everyone will love them all being thrown together. I am definitely interested in where the series will ultimately go with this.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 4

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Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules, went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you and walked you through the first section of the simple rules. Today I am going to talk about the first step in creating a character for the game which is choosing a race. I will also talk about role playing a Dwarf.

There are a ton of choices when it comes to choosing a race for a Dungeons & Dragons character. It can be overwhelming for a kid, especially if you aren’t familiar with what each one is. The most common race in D&D is by far the human race. This is easily relatable to any human because, well, we are all human. But, for kids this may be dull. In each of my posts for a while, I will be delving into the separate races listed in the basic rules and talking about any unique challenges or benefits when it comes to role playing with kids. There’s really no limit on what kind of creature a player can be in the game, but the ones most commonly played do have a set of rules around them. Like anything in the game, you can change and adapt them to suit your campaign.

One thing I would recommend as a Dungeon Master when playing with kids, is to make sure to let there be all kinds of races show up in your world. The kid doesn’t have to play a fantasy race, like a gnome, to enjoy the fact that they are there. Just like in the real world, in fantasy settings, the larger the city, the more kinds of people you are bound to find there. So, even if none of your players are non-humans, be sure to include some characters that are. There can of course be sections or areas that are dedicated to say, only dwarves, but make sure that lots of creatures get encountered by the kids. It can be fun to play into what is expected with these characters but it can also be really fun to play against type. A half-orc that cries whenever it gets a paper cut? That is great and can make for a ton of fun role playing opportunities. Just keep in mind that whatever, “race” the character belongs to is not the only definition of that character.

No group in this game should be a complete monolith, even though certain races tend to have certain traits as described by the rules. The same thing goes when considering gender. A boy does not have to role play a male character and a girl does not have to role play a female character. And although, this comes up less when it goes to role playing with kids, this goes for sexual orientation as well. Just be mindful of how you want to play but just as in real life, there is no one right way to be someone.

Before we get into role playing a Dwarf, we need to talk a little bit about the mechanics of Racial Traits. The rules as set out, give each race some things that are common to members of that race. This doesn’t mean you have to use it, it’s just shorthand for role playing.

Briefly I will talk about Ability Score increases, Age, Alignment, Size, Speed, Languages and Subraces.

Ability Score Increase

When making a character, everyone has ability scores. These were listed in the simple rules and in the last post I wrote for this series. It’s one of six things that a character can be good at. These include Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Just know that depending on what Race your kid decides to play, they may be better or worse at some of these things. As I go through each Race, I will tell you what is usually the increase that the character gets just for being that race. If you don’t want to have to do a lot of math in your character sheet, you can just let the kid know that their character is good at x because y race is usually good at that. Then make sure to mark off on the character sheet what thing the kid’s character is good at. (P.S. let me know if I should do a post with a walk through of a character sheet as I know those can be confusing)

Age

In the simple rules, they tell you at what age each race is considered to be an adult. It’s very likely your kid will want to play an adult, but it’s also fine for their character to be a kid if that’s what they want. Just use common sense though. If an Elf is supposed to mature at 100 years old but your kid plays one who is fifty, they are not going to be as strong or as experienced as an older Elf. Same goes for any race, relative to their maturity. If your kids want to play an older person, depending on how old they are, they may be less strong than they would have when they were younger. Generally age is not too much of an issue when playing with kids, as long as no one is trying to play an infant or someone who is extremely elderly. I would give broad leeway to letting kids choose the age of their characters.

Alignment

If you spend about five seconds researching Dungeons & Dragons you will see that there is a huge argument about alignment in the role playing community. Some people love it, some people hate it. It’s one of the aspects of the game that can be totally irrelevant at times and at times can make for great role playing opportunities.

Each race is supposed to have a tendency towards a certain alignment. If you want to keep that, feel free. If you want to just ignore alignment, sure but I will give one word of caution when it comes to kids. I would not recommend letting kids play into any evil alignments. It gets too morally gray and messy. For adults, this can be hugely entertaining. And while kids are not necessarily thinking about the world in strict terms of good and evil, it can be difficult for them to navigate in a role playing setting.

I am sure that there are plenty of kids who would be fine with playing a chaotic evil character and have a blast doing it and have no problems outside of the game with it. But I recommend against it for two reasons. One, the point of the game is to get to be the hero of the story and that’s what most kids want in the first place. That’s pretty difficult when you are committing acts of evil in the game. Two, it can cause huge problems with the other players. If you have two kids who are being, “the good guys” and one who is, “the bad guy,” you are just inviting arguments. To me it makes more sense to simply, not consider alignment at all, and kind of operate on the assumption that your kids want to be heroes. As they get to be older, say 12 and above, then it makes more sense to bring alignment into the picture.

If you have read this and still have no idea what alignment is or why it is there, don’t worry. It’s not the most essential part of the game and it’s just there to kind of inform how a particular character might act in a given situation. That will change with every individual player anyway, so don’t stress too much about this part.

Size

People come in all shapes and sizes. This is also true for fantasy creatures. Most of the races in Dungeons & Dragons are between 4-8 feet tall. There are a couple of smaller races that tend to be 2-4 feet tall. The main thing to know is if your character would be small, medium or large. This is strictly a height measurement for the game. You could have a large halfling, but that would be extremely rare and, honestly, I’m not sure how I would role play that. I guess like Buddy the Elf from Elf? Anyway, there are some rules that matter when it comes to size. It’s much harder for a halfling to wield heavy weapons and it’s a lot harder for a Half-Orc to hide. This doesn’t mean those things can’t be done, just that they are more difficult. For this part of character building, I would tend to stick to the book descriptions on size more for the rules that go along with it than anything. If you explain to a kid that halflings are small, but that they can easily hide from an ogre, they are going to understand that pretty quick.

Speed

This I would more or less strictly follow if you are planning on using miniatures in your game. If you are doing only theater of the mind, it’s a little less vital but you still need to know if the character can move a lot or a little each turn. Even if your kid can’t count past ten, you can have them know if their character is faster or slower than other characters.

Languages

This one can be a little tricky with kids. Each race has a particular set of languages that they can speak and write. These can be added to and changed around with the personalities and background section of the rules. Most of these are pretty obvious, a Dwarf speaks Dwarvish and an Elf speaks Elvish and a Halfling speaks Halfling. The player characters will also be able to speak common which is just the default language everyone talks. If you know Star Wars and that people speak different languages but almost everyone speaks basic, you can think of it like that. Common is essentially the basic way everyone communicates. However, if you plan on having a campaign that is just chalk full of Giants and you know that Giants don’t necessarily speak common, you need to do one of two things. You can either, just assume everyone in your campaign speaks basic so that you can role play with your kids or you can make absolutely certain that one or more player characters speaks Giant. With very young kids I would go with the first option, and with kids from say 7-12 I would go with the second option. Older kids can get into the fact that they may not necessarily understand everything that is said by a non-player character but younger kids might just get frustrated by that fact. It’s up to you how you handle this but think about whether even having different languages matters in your campaign.

Subraces

Some races have subraces. In other words you could have a dwarf that is a hill dwarf or a mountain dwarf or something like that. Mostly this is just a bit of flavoring for role playing but it can be something to consider when building a character.

Role playing a Dwarf

Dwarves are bold and hardy. They tend to be tough warriors and skilled with their hands. They can live up to 400 years, so they take the long view when it comes to human friends that may only last a quarter or that time at best.

Dwarves can be stubborn and set in their ways, not just because that is who they are, but because they have been around a while and have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. They also tend to remember it if you wrong them. Likewise they remember if you aid them. It usually is a good idea to be good to a dwarf.

Most dwarves are part of a clan and while they welcome outsiders who are friendly to them, there are things that dwarves never share. For example, dwarves who are good at crafting weapons may never share those secrets for fear that in the next century, humans might go to war with dwarves. Male dwarves tend to have beards and be as prideful of them as the hippest of hipsters. To cut the hair of a dwarf beard is not highly recommended.

Dwarves tend to be loyal to their friends but you really have to earn that loyalty. They are slow to trust, especially from a human point of view but they can make excellent allies.

Dwarves tend to become adventurers for a myriad of reasons, from just wanting to see more of the world, to finding a specific item for their clan.

I think the most typical trope you see about dwarves in fantasy role play is that they have a Scottish brogue. I for one, can not come even passably close to this accent. So when I role play a dwarf, I just tell people that they speak in a Scottish accent.

There are pretty handy suggestions for names in the simple rules for dwarves, just make sure you and your kids agree on how to pronounce it.

Dwarf Traits

There are a few things you get for being a dwarf.

Ability Score Improvement

First your constitution score increases by 2. Or, if you don’t want to do the math, this is one of the things that dwarves are good at. That means it’s hard for them to get sick or poisoned, which can be greatly helpful in the game.

Age

Dwarves are mature at around 50 years old and live to be between 350-400 years old.

Alignment

Dwarves tend to be lawful but again see above for my thoughts on alignment. They also tend to have a sense of fair play so they are mostly good.

Size

Dwarves are between 4 and 5 feet tall. This means they are medium sized for rules purposes.

Speed

Dwarves walk at 25 feet. That means for each turn that is how far they go. This is on the lower side of average so dwarves tend to be a little slower than some of the other races in the game.

Darkvision

One of the cool things about being a dwarf is that you can see in dark and dim lighting. If it’s dim light to everyone else, it’s bright light to you. If it’s dark to everyone else, it’s dim to you. That effect extends out 60 feet. But when you are in darkness, you can only see shades of gray and not colors.

Dwarven Resilience

Another great thing about being a dwarf is that you have advantage on saving throws against poison. And, you have resistance against poison damage. We’ll get more into what those things mean in later posts but just know that dwarves are pretty hard to poison.

Dwarven Combat Training

Dwarves are good at using battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers and warhammers. In other words, they are pretty deadly in a fight!

Tool Proficiency

Dwarves can use smith tools, brewer’s supplies or mason’s tools. These are all tool sets that can come into play during a game but don’t necessarily. It’s up to you if you really want to get into these too much with kids.

Stonecunning

Dwarves know about the history of stonework. There are some mechanical rules behind this but my rule is just that if a dwarf is looking at anything carved of stone, there’s a really good chance they know all about it.

Languages

Dwarves speak common and Dwarvish. If you do go with using languages one thing to note is that a lot of the other languages in the game tend to use Dwarvish characters so it is usually good to have someone who can read those symbols.

Subrace

There are technically three subraces in the simple rules if you include Duergar. These are basically evil dwarves who live underground so might not be the best choice to role play with kids. It can work though if you make one of them a misfit who wants to go to the surface and do some good in the world.

Hill Dwarf

As you might expect, these dwarves come from the hills. These dwarves get to increase their wisdom by 1 and their hit point maximum increases by 1, as well as increases by 1 with every new level. To boil that down, these dwarves are wise and hardy.

Mountain Dwarf

These guys are a little stronger than the other types of dwarves so they get to increase their strength score by 2. In addition, they have proficiency with light and medium armor, meaning they can use a lot of different defensive options to increase their armor class (how hard it is for an enemy to hit you).

Slick Dungeon’s tips on Dwarf characters

Now that you have read all that, feel free to throw as much of it as you want out the window. You can play a dwarf who has never done a days hard labor in his life if you want. You can be a dwarf who really loves climbing trees. If you are the Dungeon Master, I would recommend that you tend to have the dwarves be in several settings and have them all behave differently as people but maybe keep one thing in common with all of them. For my games, I tend to keep it that dwarves take huge offense to anyone insulting their clan or to anyone with the audacity to trim their beards. Other than that, I try to play them as individuals, but it’s up to you how you want it to be. If your kid is role playing a dwarf, I would have them look up dwarves in the rules, decide what they like about them, and keep that. Toss out the rest and fill it in with personality for the character.

Thanks for reading the post. I hope you got a couple of good tips out of this and I would love to hear how your games with kids go. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Next time I will be writing about role playing an Elf.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Sawyer Shepherd Chronicles: Rights of Passage – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

SYNOPSIS

An ancient evil, a teenager on the run from a tragic past, and a collision course with destiny, fate, or maybe something else entirely.

Sage City Colorado is a beautiful but struggling town. It’s mining history has dried up, leaving it only with a dark local legend that may just be more history than myth. But an East Coast developer named Lucius Furr and his team, including Lennox Dupree and Elena Cordova, might just bring salvation- or awaken a long dormant evil.

Sawyer Shepherd, an eighteen year old orphan on a road trip of self discovery- and running from a tragic past- finds himself caught up not only in Furr’s plans for the small town, but also an ancient and epic battle between good and evil. Guided by locals Eli Romer and Mandy Jane, Sawyer will seek to overcome the demons of his past while also trying to survive a real life demon that seems to seek only to consume. Or is it also trying to open the door for an even greater and more powerful evil?

REVIEW

2/5 Stars

Sawyer Shepherd has a tragic past and is taking some time to see life on a road trip. He finds himself in Sage City, Colorado, a small town with a bit of mountain charm and a bit of dangerous wilderness surrounding it. While there he runs into Eli Romer, known as the town drunk, Mandy Jane, a beautiful and intriguing local, and a group of developers looking to invest in the town. Soon after he arrives, Sawyer finds himself face to face with a snow storm, an ancient evil, and the tragedies of his own past. Will they survive or will this be the end of Sawyer and his companions?

While the concept of the book was intriguing, a town trapped in a white out with something hunting the people in it, the execution left a bit to be desired. The main characters fall into most of the typical horror tropes. The main focus, Sawyer, has a tragic back story, while still being the cool action hero type, and finds out there may be more going on to this story than he is being told. This could have worked better in my opinion but I do see it having the potential for a series. And while the monsters were well described, they were also somewhat repetitive in their actions which eventually makes the story feel less frightening than it could have been.

There were quite a few spelling and grammar errors in the book. While that’s somewhat to be expected in an advanced review copy, these were excessive in this book. That did make this a somewhat difficult reading experience.

Undoubtedly, there will be people who enjoy this book but it did not ever quite work for me. The concept is similar to things like the television shows Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The best moments of the book were when the group felt trapped with no way out, especially during the snow storm, similar to The Shining but with a different kind of monster coming after them. It felt like something we have seen before in horror books but didn’t add much of a new take to it. There were twists and turns, and there is an ever present amount of gore involved yet the fear one would hope for in a horror book never quite came through for me.

If the series continues it would be nice to see a little less of the expected tropes and a few more surprises for those of us who like a good horror book.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

100 Monsters for 100 Followers!

Slick Dungeon here and I just reached 100 followers on WordPress so I just wanted to say thanks! And give you 100 of my favorite monsters (or near monsters) of all time. I am going to count them down in no particular order whatsoever. Thanks to all one hundred of you monsters for following me!

1oo.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Silly, yet scary. They gave me nightmares as a kid.

99.

The Babadook, creepy and a great way to keep kids in their beds

98.

Half Drow, Half spider, all terrifying

97.

I wants me gold! The Leprechaun is always good for a little scare laugh

96.

Creepy cakes. Gross but I’ll eat ’em!

95.

What’s with creepy clowns anyway? Captain Spaulding’s definitely one of the more terrifying ones.

94.

Occultists. Can’t live with ’em… yeah can’t live with ’em.

93.

Boring race car movies pretending to be amazing that are just an argument for living a mediocre corporate existence. I have nightmares about these all the time.

92.

The kindest, classiest monster ever, Sweetums

91.

They might be a bit over used but Goblins are an essential monster to me.

90.

Every Michael Bay film. It’s horrifying in it’s terribleness

89.

Killer tomatoes. The deadliest fruit of all time.

88.

That thing from Starship Troopers. I don’t know what it is, but it looks hungry.

87.

Not so much the monster from Tusk as the fact that it was made at all,

86.

Evil Santa

85.

Strahd Van Zarovich, the coolest vampire since Dracula

84.

Evil robots in a mall that don’t do any chopping but definitely kill people.

83.

Mike Wazowski!

82.

Real Estate monsters. Don’t buy houses where walls bleed and stuff okay?

81.

Spoiler: There is a monster at the end of this book.

80.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow man. He’s big but imagine the s’mores potential!

79.

The monster of bad spelling and mispunctuation.

78.

Tremor worms. You might not see them but you’ll feel them.

77.

Whatever this space gorilla thing is supposed to be

76.

John Travolta’s monstrously bad performance in Battlefield Earth

75.

Daylight festivals

74.

That good ol’ Toxic Avenger

73.

The dreaded, deadly, dangerous Dracolich

72.

This guy!

71.

Jason. There are 12 movies about him. How about 13th huh?!?!?!

70.

Sad clown = scary clown

69.

Honestly, nothing is scarier than rich people.

68.

Great scarer Sulley

67.

Treehouses

66.

It’s the Demogorgon!!!

65.

Ghostface is a Scream

64.

Not sure exactly what this is but it’s a monster!

63.

Pardon me but I do believe I hear mother calling…

62.

Tom Savini is not a monster but he sure knows how to make them

61.

Someone needs to moisturize…

60.

Baby it’s cold outside. Also I am gonna kill you.

59.

Is this guy the next Jason? We need that 13th movie still!

58.

Vampires who can do kicks to the face? I’m in.

57.

More clowns

56.

Bards. Horrifying. Yet useful?

55.

Dragons. Often better when paired with Dungeons &

54.

Is it Halloween yet?!

53.

It’s about time Freddy joined the party.

52.

I think I need a midnight snack. Want to feed me?

51.

No, you’re a Pinhead.

50.

Stuff… thangs…

49.

Every day feels like the same day now.

48.

Spiders

47.

I’m thinking it’s time for a shave.

46.

I. Am. Your. Number. One. Fan.

45.

Not monsters. Well not usually. Sometimes it happens but it’s usually fixed.

44.

Can we get this a better name than xenomorph?

43.

Peer pressure is the worst.

42.

Feed me Seymour!

41.

This man has fueled nightmares for decades

40.

Sharks inside of tornados.

39.

One of us! One of us!

38.

Fire bad

37.

Whoever came up with this cake is a monster for sure.

36.

The Death House

35.

Pre-hocky fan Jason

34.

This is not a nice neighborhood

33.

The bandages are a smidge tight

32.

The Creep himself

31.

Well, Sweeney was a good barber…

30.

Don’t let anyone steer you wrong. Dracula the book will always be more terrifying than Dracula the movie.

29.

The king himself

28.

Behold the Beholder!

27.

Godzilla the king of the lizards

26.

Terror dogs. Luis Tully, “Your Honor, ladies and gentleman of the audience, I don’t think it’s fair to call my clients frauds. Sure, the blackout was a big problem for everybody. I was trapped in an elevator for two hours and I had to make the whole time. But I don’t blame them. Because one time, I turned into a dog and they helped me. Thank you”

25.

These guys.

24.

Gmork wants there to be the nothing and honestly, that’s terrifying.

23.

The Hydra. Many heads, even more death.

22.

I’ll always have a soft spot for Ludo

21.

Even though I like book Dracula more, movie Dracula is still a great monster

20.

It’s never good when dwarves delve too deep

19.

Anyone want to go swimming in the Black Lagoon?

18.

These guys are why I keep a sharpie on me at all times.

17.

Honestly, these guys still creep me out.

16.

I think this guy must be in high school because he keeps talking about his locker.

15.

Sharks not in a tornado

14.

Bring a mirror before you try to talk to Medusa

13.

This guy is relentless

12.

We are Borg

11.

Don’t blink.

10.

The most vile gangster in the galaxy

09.

The Swamp Thing.

08.

Beware of the blob, the blob, the blob

07.

Bad weather can be really bad. Even just the mist.

06.

The doctor is not in, but Mr. Hyde sure is

05.

Anyone other than me have a soft spot for Cat People?!

04.

Want to arm wrestle?

03.

This guy still haunts my dreams sometimes

02.

Yeah this guy is perfectly normal…

01.

Okay I did actually save my favorite monster for last. I was really broken up when some jerk dropped a huge gate on him. Still haven’t really gotten over that one.

Thanks for following my blog all you little monsters!

Gratefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

An Interview with G.E. Hathaway Author of Burn

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and guess who crawled into my dungeon! G.E. Hathaway, the author of the spectacular book Burn about a post apocalyptic Tucson, Arizona, that you should all go and read, right after you finish reading this post. She was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about the book, about Tucson and about her writing process. Welcome to my dungeon, G.E., and thank you for joining me! Without further ado let’s get into the interview. 

Slick: Let me start with the obvious question. How does it feel to have a book out that is post apocalyptic while we are in an actual worldwide pandemic currently?

G.E. Hathaway: I have to admit, it’s a bit strange to drive around an empty downtown Tucson- like I’m a character straight out of the book!

I’ve been doing a lot of observing. There’s the world I imagined dealing with a large-scale emergency in Burn, and then there’s our actual reality dealing with COVID-19. I think the fears associated with living in a desert city are quite consistent with the reality. Water and shelter are essential against the heat, and we started hitting three-digit temperatures this week. If the power grid gets overwhelmed, outages occur. Something I’ve been greatly encouraged by, however, is the way people have come together to support each other during this difficult time. Even when things seem the most divisive and hostile, there’s always the helpers.

Slick: Your book is set in Tucson and it’s clear from reading it that you have a love of the area. What about the area inspires you and how did you decide to set your story there? Was there any consideration of setting it somewhere else?

G.E. Hathaway: I was greatly influenced by my time living near downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona campus. It’s a very old neighborhood, first of all, with a unique charm that you don’t find in many other places. With the development of the downtown area, you have an interesting combination of worlds; modern industrial and traditional Sonoran styles. As a result, the culture is delightfully mixed, and there’s great support for artistic expression. I wanted to present the city in a way that is recognizable to the locals today, and not just as another cowboy western. Tucson has evolved, but at the same time, I knew I needed to introduce it to new readers in a way that may be accessible to them, hence the idea of the “new wild west.”

Slick: What is your writing process like? Do you dedicate time to it every day or do you wait for inspiration to hit?

G.E. Hathaway: I write full time in a different industry and I’m a parent, so my creative writing goals are structured for maximum efficiency, which sounds so dry and uncreative! Basically, I keep a journal of writing concepts, and once I think a concept has enough legs to keep my own attention let alone someone else’s, I flesh out the beats. I sit on it for a while, making edits as needed, and if it continues to hold my interest, I outline the chapters. It takes a couple months before I’ll even sit down for the first draft, and by then I’m dedicated to a full writing schedule. I try not to go too long without writing during this time, because I don’t want to lose momentum.

After I complete the first draft, usually over a couple months because I write straight through without editing, I put it down for another month. Then I revisit it, edit it as best I can, then submit it to beta readers. I want to catch huge plot holes and narrative issues early before I send it to a professional editor.

Slick: Do you remember when you first got the idea for Burn? What was that like and why did you feel the need to tell this story in particular?

G.E. Hathatway: I was driving across town near the end of a very dry, hot summer, when the first monsoon storm hit. The monsoons here are gorgeous. The clouds roll in like a wild animal. Similar to how someone in the Pacific Northwest may come out to enjoy a sunny day, everyone in Tucson will go out to watch the rain. As I watched the first storm roll in, I realized wanted to capture that transition and heighten the stakes of what that relief means for the locals. I imagined the opening scene of the book that day. While the rest of us humans are enjoying the rain, there’s an actual battle going on between the weather, and I wanted to personify that. Although in those early days of brainstorming, the fight between the gods happened in the open desert instead of a convenience store!

Talisa

Slick: In Burn there is a technology called the Grid, which seems to be a renewable power source that doesn’t rely on any traditional power supplies. How did you come up with the idea? Do you think this sort of technology would be something that could exist in reality in the future and, if so, do you think it would be a good idea to use it?

G.E. Hathaway: It’s funny, after I started distributing an earlier draft of Burn to readers, I started getting articles from them they’d found on experimental technology that supposedly generates electricity from ‘thin air,’ either through microbiomes or water vapor. The future is here! I think one of the biggest things to think about is how to set up boundaries to the technology and keep it contained. Similar to dropping a boom box in a bathtub, how can you use the energy without having residual effects somewhere else? I’d also be curious about its finite conditions. If there’s no catastrophic fallout, I think it would be cool to see.

Slick: I loved the interplay of nature and technology in the book. Do you feel that the two can coexist well together or do you have more of an affinity for one or the other?

G.E. Hathaway: That’s exactly what I hope to explore in follow-up books! I think the big question I’m trying to address is: how can the two coexist in a way that isn’t detrimental to the other? I think having this story take place in the desert is perfect, because the environment is so fragile to begin with. On the one hand, our existence as a species is dependent on the health of the environment, but on the other hand, we need technology to survive the brutal heat. As a Tucsonan, I’m in a place that needs both.

Noah

Slick: To me, this book feels kind of like a cross between The Stand by Stephen King and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Were you influenced by those authors at all? If not, who are your main influences when it comes to writing?

G.E. Hathaway: American Gods definitely served as an influence because I wanted to explore the deities in this book by how they evolved and are defined by the existing society. I love Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Their world building is magical. Other authors I love include V.E. Schwab and Jason “David Wong” Pargin.

Slick: What are you reading right now? Any great books you can recommend to people who like Burn?

G.E Hathaway: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is amazing. I keep going back to that one. A time traveler who lives in the ideal futuristic scifi world we originally envisioned from the 50s accidentally changes the past, and creates the present we currently know and recognize. The science fiction in this book is so interesting, with the time travel machine powered by the Earth’s axis. I also highly recommend Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by Jason “David Wong” Pargin, which looks at a dystopian future where our own social media engagement enforces a surveillance state. It’s also supremely funny and smart.

Liam

Slick: Three of the main protagonists, Liam, Ellie and Noah, all find themselves face to face with Gods and Goddesses. Was it difficult to personify these Gods and Goddesses while still making the interactions believable for the human characters?

G.E. Hathaway: I had fun with this one. Each character is driven by their environmental purpose. The Sun God is ruthless and unforgiving, much like the sun in Tucson. Alternatively, Winter is indifferent to humans, more peaceful. Winter doesn’t have the damaging effects in Tucson like it does in other parts of the world, but it does provide relief from the summer. The Rain Goddess gives life to the region, so I saw her as a motherly figure, and therefore more empathetic to humans. Those characteristics fed their interactions with the main characters. Hopefully trying not to give away too much, the stranger the humans meet in the desert was both the most fun and saddest character to write, because it aligned with how humans interact with the area wildlife as both a threat and a treasure.

Slick: Will there be more books involving these characters and, if so, what are the plans for the next book?  

G.E. Hathaway: Yes! I have book 2 outlined, with ideas for book 3 in development. I just hope my pandemic anxiety calms down enough for me to stick to a writing schedule! Book 2 is going to answer a question that Book 1 leaves hanging. I’m excited about this one, because it will introduce more gods as well as give the readers a glimpse of a modern and active Grid city.

Slick: In the book we find out what happened in Tucson when the Grid goes down but we don’t see what happens outside of Arizona. Will we get a glimpse of that in future books?

G.E. Hathaway: Yup! Our heroes will go outside of their comfort zones and visit the capital Grid city, which is located outside Arizona. Readers will also get to see what politics looks like since we’re in a future where a powerful corporation, Utopian Industries, has merged with the government system.

Ellie

Slick: The book is cinematic in scope and I could see this working as a graphic novel, movie or television series. Have you put any thought to trying to adapt it into any other kind of media?

G.E. Hathaway: I would love that! My hope is that the book picks up some steam in the indie world and attracts the attention of those who could make that happen. I actually have another manuscript with an agent at this time, so maybe if that one takes off, I can bring attention to Burn.

Slick: How can readers buy the book and how can they get in contact with you?

G. E. Hathaway: Burn (Desert Deities, Book 1) is available now on Kindle devices at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086FZ9K4C. I hope to get it formatted for paperback soon.

My website is https://gehathawayauthor.wordpress.com/

Email: g.e.hathawayauthor@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/g.e.hathawayauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gehathaway

Thanks so much for stopping by my dungeon! Now if you could just show me the way out? Oh, um I think she left. Anyway go read the book!

Inquisitively yours,

Slick Dungeon

Note: all art in this post was created by Sofia Bjerned and are property of G.E. Hathaway and can be used for personal/non-commercial use. They cannot be modified/edited for commercial purposes.

Burn – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

SYNOPSIS

Welcome to the New Wild West.

After a devastating power outage wipes out most of Tucson, survivors Liam, Noah, and Ellie have more than the hot summers to worry about. In the absence of modern technology, ancient spirits awaken and the Sun God and Rain Goddess resume their timeless war over the elements. Friendships are tested and lines between good and evil are blurred as the humans are thrust into a strange and dangerous journey that reveals the mysterious forces ruling the desert. When the Rain Goddess is injured and the temperatures rise, Liam, Noah, and Ellie must find a way to restore power to the city before they all burn.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

It’s been a couple of years since the Grid, a modern technology powering the world fell. While survivors are trying to do the best they can in Tucson, Arizona, three people have their lives and beliefs changed forever. Liam, Noah and Ellie meet a strange woman named, Talisa, who seems to have powers beyond human understanding. She’s on the run from a man that seems to be even more powerful than she is. While Liam and Ellie work to protect her, Noah works to restore power to the Grid. The future looks uncertain for everyone unless they can succeed.

Captivating from the very beginning, this book kept me guessing the entire time. The threats are vivid and well developed. The journey the main characters take is difficult and engaging. The theme of how technology and nature interplay with each other was a constant and welcome presence in the story. While I have never been to Tucson, the descriptions made me feel like I was there and you can feel the author’s love of the city and surrounding areas in the writing.

If you’ve read The Stand by Stephen King and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and enjoyed those, this book is for you. I felt like this took some of the best elements of those books and put them together in an extremely effective manner. The characters are believable even when unbelievable things happen to them and around them. The odds are overwhelming against the characters in the book yet they keep fighting in their own way.

This was a welcome fresh take on a post apocalypse book and I couldn’t put it down until I had read it through. It’s cinematic in scope and I am hoping that this will be the first in a long series of books as I kept wanting to know what would happen next. I highly recommend it.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Blood Quantum – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Shudder dropped a surprise zombie movie on everyone for halfway to Halloween and it was freakin’ fantastic.

I am a huge fan of zombie films. I know some people think they are played out and the whole genre is getting a little boring. While I may not agree, I can understand the sentiment with that fact that we have had umpteen seasons of The Walking Dead, several spin offs, other zombie shows popping up on Netflix and other streaming services. But, like zombies themselves, the takes on them are endless.

I will admit that I have never been a huge fan of the whole, “fast zombie” thing, maybe with the exception of 28 Days Later so I wasn’t sure I was going to like Blood Quantum.

I could not have been more wrong about that. Like the best zombie stories, this one is frightening, it has genuinely surprising moments, the action is intense and it reflects on modern day issues. The most fascinating part of the movie isn’t even the zombies themselves but the characters who are the focus of the story.

I’m not willing to give much away on this so I am just going to give you the blurb from IMDB and post a trailer for it.

Here’s the blurb:

The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.

And here’s the trailer:

If you are a horror fan, or a zombie fan, I am going to summarize it simply for you. You have to watch this!

The performances are spectacular and the whole thing is finally a fresh take. It’s not just the best zombie movie I have seen in a long time, it’s the best horror movie I have seen in a long time. Watch it if you haven’t!

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Christmas Evil – #MovieReview

Hi everyone out there, it’s me Slick Dungeon. Today is the 75th of whatever, so I decided it would be the perfect time to watch a horror film about Christmas. Yep, you’ve seen Halloween, you’ve marveled at Friday the 13th but you know what? There are a whole lot more holidays out there so, why not Christmas? It’s as bad as it sounds so buckle up because I have an exclusive Slick Dungeon treat for you here.

First let me say, that there will be spoilers for Christmas Evil, or as it was originally titled, You Better Watch Out, or also as it was once titled, Terror in Toyland as well as for… Santa Claus. No not the movie, the person. Also, at the end of this I am going to tell you how you can watch this movie for free. That’s right, a no cost blood letting of a movie set during Christmas time. Just think of me as your local dungeon Santa Claus.

I saw the title of this movie and I knew I had to review it. I watched it and it’s not as easy to summarize as you would think. Believe it or not, it is somewhat difficult to give a fresh take on a movie where a guy watches his father, dressed up as Santa Claus, rub his mother’s stocking, gets a bizarre Oedipal complex because of it, becomes obsessed with Santa, creepily peeps into windows to watch children, steals from his place of employment to donate to a children’s hospital, commits some homicide, goes to an office party, sneaks into homes to give presents, commits some more homicide, drives around town in a van painted like a sleigh, runs into some neighborhood children and then gets in a switch blade knife fight with their parents, finally goes over to his brother’s house and is almost choked to death by him and then drives off of an overpass. Okay, actually, maybe a fresh take on this is not needed but… I have discovered something here in my dungeon and you are not going to believe it. I found Harry Stadling’s diary. Who’s Harry Stadling? Why, the homicidal Santa Claus of course!

Without further ado, here are his entries.

———————————

Christmas Eve 1947

Dear Diary,

Oh boy am I excited! I just saw Santa Claus putting out presents. My brother Phil saw him too but he’s convinced that it wasn’t Santa. He thinks it was Dad. Phil is going to be so messed up when we grow up, I just know it.

Later the same night

Oh man, oh man, I just saw Santa gettin’ frisky with mom. It was weird and I am sure Dad is going to be so upset. I’m not going to let it bother me though, I’m sure thirty years from now I’m not going to become obsessed with Christmas, make my own Santa suit and commit triple homicide or anything.

Also, I must have been good this year because I got a lot of toys and I write surprisingly well for a four year old. Too bad I smashed a snow globe and cut my hand with the pieces just to see my own blood.

Anyway, I gotta get to bed now. I’ll write more here soon.

Love,

Harry

Thanksgiving Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

I know it’s been a while since I wrote, sorry about that. Next year I am making writing in my diary my New Years resolution. I’m sure I will live past Christmas, why wouldn’t I?

I’ve been watching some neighborhood children with binoculars that I got last Christmas. My brother Phil is a real jerk cause of that thing he said about Santa when he was six but these binoculars are nice. Most of the kids in the neighborhood are great but there’s this one who looks at dirty magazines. Not sure if I will strangle him but I am definitely going to get a closer look at the bushes by his house later.

I work in a more depressing than can be expressed toy factory now. I have insanely decorated my house with all kinds of Christmas stuff but hey it makes me happy. It was a rough day at work yesterday. See, I used to work “on the line” at the factory making toys. But they promoted me to be a manager so now I just mostly get aggravated at ad campaigns for false charity that the factory puts out and tell people how much the toys they are making suck. Strangely, I still plan to give out several of these toys to good boys and girls.

Anyway, work was a real downer again. See there was this one guy, Frank, who still works the line and I mentioned to him how I missed it. For unknown reasons he then straight up grabbed my sandwich out of my hands and ate it right in front of me. He’s a nice guy though. Well, I thought so anyway. See he wanted to get out of town early with his wife. He asked me to cover his shift so I did. Then I went to the bar to get a drink. Guess who was there? Diary you are never going to believe this! It was Frank and he called me a schmuck! I wish I could put him on the naughty list! He wasn’t leaving tonight, he was leaving in the morning. What a jerk!

I got so mad I decapitated one of my dolls. With my bare hands! While humming Christmas tunes!

After that I wanted to unwind so I peeped into my brother’s window and saw him making out with his wife. The way you know it was my brother’s house is that there is a random sign in the middle of the lawn that says Stadling for no apparent reason. I stood next to it for a while and gawked awkwardly. I was pretty tired so I left without saying hi or anything.

Love,

Harry

Thanksgiving 1980

Dear Diary,

My brother Phil, who has two sweet kids, wanted me to come over for dinner but I flaked on him. Why? Well, see I watched the Thanksgiving Day parade at Macy’s and I saw Santa in the parade. I decided to ditch dinner and make a home made Santa suit of my very own instead. Yeah, I know that there are still more than twenty days until Christmas and that I put the suit together in a single afternoon but it’s important to be really prepared. Phil will get over it I’m sure. Anyway my flaking on him can’t possibly be as bad as him at six years old saying Santa was not real. That’s just evil.

The fur in the suit was real soft so I hugged it and smelled it like a maniac. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with me.

Later that night

Thought the old van could use a spruce up so I painted Santa’s sleigh on it. I made good use of my time though by also reciting my nutso Christmas list while I did it. I think it looks really nifty and no way it will stand out to say, people who see me murder someone later when I do it in front of a crowded church. The cops will never catch Santa Claus! Err… I mean, paint job looks great!

Love,

Harry

The next day

I came across some kids from the neighborhood today. They told me about what they had been wishing for. One of them wished for a lifetime subscription to Penthouse magazine. It’s that same little punk from before. I’m really going to telegraph in this diary that I might kill him but never do it in this movie. I have a better idea.

Later that night

Hid by the bushes at that kid’s house. I rubbed dirt on my face then kissed the side of his house because… well I don’t know why I did that. I don’t think the audience will know why I did that either. Then I nearly grabbed him but he got in the car with his mom who never saw me even though I am a grown man who hides in bushes and am really obvious in every shot where the kid shows up. And by almost grabbed him I mean my closed fist was about a foot away from him the whole time even though I could have grabbed him. Also the kid’s mom totally slapped him and it seems like that might be a regular thing but I guess that’s fine because any kid who points out a man hiding in the bushes deserves a good slap from his mother?

With that done, I went back and made some toys in a make shift toy shop that I have in my house because, well, it’s there.

Love,

Harry

Christmas Eve Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

Went to the office Christmas party. Guess what? Everyone here is a jerk! They made this ad campaign about donating toys to a kids hospital but they didn’t even know how many kids were in the hospital or how many toys were actually needed. Oh and in a bonus jerk move, they expect the workers to donate some of their own money to contribute to this so called charity drive they are having. It makes me want to murder someone!

Then again I might have freaked some people out by talking about how I know the tune now. Some of them don’t know the tune and some know it but use it for ill gotten success. They need to get with my tune!

Had to bail on the party, I’m not much of an office guy.

Later that night

Went back to the factory and stole a few bags of toys. I know I said they sucked and weren’t good enough for kids but I’m going to take them right over tomorrow to that kids hospital and giving these sucky toys right to them, dressed as Santa!

Love,

Harry

Christmas Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

I glued a beard on my face. I am now Santa Claus. First on the agenda, laugh like a maniac in the mirror. Next I invaded some houses and tossed some packages under the tree for them, even though they already had a bunch of presents. For unknown reasons I brought the big kitchen knife with me and cut into some packages while leaving others. No one will notice my painted van, I am sure.

Also I left a huge bag of dirt for that one kid, so there. I did leave it outside his house though, so it’s not under the tree and I’m not sure the kid will understand it was from Santa. Still, sweet justice!

Went over to that hospital and gave those toys. They totally accepted them even though there was no arrangement and the staff had no clue who I was. Well, I mean they knew I am Santa Claus obviously but they still were a little suspicious. Maybe they’ll remember me by my van next time. It’s the one with a sleigh painted on both sides.

After that I drove over to the church. I waited for everyone to start coming out while I waited at the bottom of the steps. These three people were real jerks to me. So I stabbed one of them in the eye with a toy soldier. Note to self, that’s maybe too sharp for the kids. Then I murdered two other people with an ax because they were also jerks. Good thing no one looked at my license plates or followed me at all. Also good that no one called an ambulance or even attempted to give first aid to those people I killed. I feel great though!

My next stop was leering in at a different Christmas party. They saw that I’m Santa and made me come in and dance. I gave some gifts away and then intimidated the children as much as I could. It was great!

I heard while I was at the party the cops couldn’t find me because I was dressed as Santa. Thank goodness they didn’t think to ask about the hugely obvious van I drive around or anything.

My next stop was Frank’s house. I first tried to suffocate him with my sack of presents but then I decided to just slit his throat with a Christmas decoration. Man those stars on top of trees are sharp! Also, his wife is a real sound sleeper cause she didn’t even wake up until Frank was bleeding out on top of her. I did leave some gifts for the kiddies though, cause they were good all year. I’m pretty tired but Santa’s work is never done.

Love,

Harry (I mean Santa Claus)

Christmas Day 1980

Dear Diary,

Been driving around for a while now. Decided to go back to the factory. I turned on all the assembly lines and just let all the toys fall and break. What’s that? Are they some of the same toys that I delivered to the kids hospital? Yes, why do you ask? I hate those toys but those kids deserved some really bad toys because… they were good?

Once that was done I started to drive over to my brother’s place but the thing is… Christmas lights. I saw them and got my van stuck in a snow drift. Then these kids showed up and they were like, yay, Santa! They came around and started to hug me and I gave them gifts. But then this one guy who was at the church saw me and he pulled out a switchblade. I was pretty worried there but his daughter easily disarmed him and gave me the knife. There was a bit of a scuffle but I got away okay in the end. In my van. That no one has identified to the police in any way whatsoever yet.

Finally got over to my brothers house to celebrate Christmas with him, and the fact that I had snuck into his house to give his kids inferior presents. Oh, and that I had murdered four people. But you know what? Phil, my brother, he tried to choke me to death! We got in this big argument about how I am homicidal and how he told me Santa wasn’t real when he was six. Some people just can’t take a little Christmas cheer I guess. His kids stuck up for me though and were sent upstairs. For a minute I was really out of it. I seemed like I was dead and everything so my brother did the logical thing and dragged my body to my van and put me in it. Jokes on him though because I woke up and slowly punched him right in the face.

Then this angry mob carrying make shift torches showed up. It was crazy! They were marching down the street, switch blade guy right in the front. I knew just what to do. I jumped in my sleigh and drove off the overpass. That’ll teach them.

My van may or may not have flown up into the air but you know I ended the movie with, “A merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

Maybe I’ll land on Tim Allen’s rooftop and I can get a new job.

Love,

Harry (Santa Claus)

———————————–

Wow, so there you have it folks, straight from Harry’s mouth! What a weird story. And it only took ninety or so minutes to watch. I know you are dying to see this so I did promise to tell you how to do it for free.

It’s easy. Sign up for Shudder for a free thirty day trial with the code SHUTIN. You can get the channel on Amazon prime video here. If you don’t have Amazon prime you can sign up for that for a free trial too and then look for the channel Shudder. Put in the code above and you are all set to watch some amazing Christmas mayhem. Enjoy! Tell ’em Harry sent you.

Merrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Roland’s Vow – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

SYNOPSIS

The Warlock of the Marshes is a man marked and cursed by a past of horrible deeds. Will Roland hear his plea? Can Roland trust the daughter of such a man, or will his own desires betray his reason?

Roland and Eldryn take to the seas of Stratvs, alongside their new Slandik friends, and discover an exotic city that exists in the shadow of harsh laws and savage practices. Lavon is home to every type of trade and pleasure. However, such riches place its very soul in peril.
In the distant land of Lawrec, Roland will face trials that will test not only his physical strength, but his own code of honor as well. Roland’s constitution continues to be forged as he struggles against the evils of the world and his own pride. But will his efforts be enough to save a land besieged by raiding armies and a people starved of hope?

Join Roland as he takes Swift Blood in hand to battle pirates, fallen champions, and worse. Roland’s quest to earn his father’s approval continues in Roland’s Vow, Book II of the Heirs of Vanity series.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Roland and Eldryn set out on their journey as young men but now have experience on their side. They continue the hunt for an evil mage that escaped his punishment in Roland’s Path. Along the way they make new allies, learn new tactics and realize that the world is a much larger place than they could have imagined. The world is at risk from the evil Daeriv and Roland knows he must act to stop it from overwhelming the innocent. Along the way he learns more of his heritage and meets beings of incredible power. The companions must decide whom they can trust and watch out for one another before it is too late.

The action Roland’s Vow is excellent and does not let up. The battles are epic in scope and extremely enjoyable to read. The danger keeps looming larger and it was fun to see how it all played out. Roland and Eldryn are not such young men as they were and they are beginning to get some recognition for their deeds. There are new allies that shine in this book and it will be interesting to see how these relationships grow and change throughout the course of the series. Also refreshing was how the motivations of Roland and Eldryn moved from trying to prove themselves to their parents towards doing good for the sake of helping those who cannot help themselves.

The weakest part of the story was the romantic entanglements that both Roland and Eldryn are swept up into. Between that and the somewhat frequent spelling errors, this book doesn’t quite live up to its full potential. The villains motives also remain somewhat vague, although this will surely add to the plot in future installments. Those issues did not stop the story from being an enjoyable read however.

Anyone who loves Dungeons & Dragons and enjoys epic quests, large battles, fast action, and the forming of a fighting party to take on evil will find this book a thrill most of the time. If you love books like The Sword of Shanara then the Heirs of Vanity series is a worthy companion to place next to it on your shelf.

Epically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 2

D&D Campaign Adventures for Tales of the Yawning Portal - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon your friendly Dungeon Master back with more campaign diaries for the Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first campaign diary here if you want to.

I am going to tell you how I prepared for the session, what happened in the session, and what I would change if I ran this again.

And once again, warning that there are spoilers below so if you are playing Curse of Strahd, wait until you finish to read this post. That goes for my player too!

Preparation

My players were left stranded in Barovia on the road leading to the village and the first building they came to was a house. Outside were two children who beckoned them to come in and save their little brother from a monster in the basement. The players readily agreed but did not know they were entering the so called, “Death House.”

The Death House is a module for 1-3 level players that you can find in the appendix to Curse of Strahd. You can also get this as a free module to play as a stand alone one shot adventure here. This is a great module to do if you want a bit of a grinder haunted house for low level characters. I think it would probably be fun to run around Halloween and I would say it takes about four hours total to run so it’s not a huge session commitment.

I prepared for this part by reading the Death House section in Strahd, then I took a look at this reddit thread and used some, but not all of the changes in there.

I am kind of an over preparer so I made notes between the book and the thread and wrote an outline that I then printed out. If you do that when you run a campaign, remember not to rely solely on your notes. It’s still fine to improvise right in the middle of what you are doing and there is no predicting what your players will do. I often find myself happy to have the crutch of the notes but then only kind of glancing at them during the session.

With that all set up, we were ready to play.

The second session

Lady Ellarian and Miles Adelard have entered and explored the first floor of Durst Manor. They found a few curious items such as a book that told Miles’ life story in exact detail up to the moment he was in, with the last page saying a creature attacked and then a blood splatter at the bottom of the page. When Miles went to look behind him, there was no creature. Lady Ellarian looked into a mirror and found herself reflected back but ten years older. There was a room where some stuffed wolves moved but… only when they were not looking.

They made their way up to the second floor at which point they made their first mistake. They rushed past a suit of armor only to discover that it was animated. The suit kept trying to push them off of the balcony but they eventually defeated it. Miles did have to make some death saving throws first though. He passed them and his character is still alive.

The battle was pretty vicious but the characters got to level up as a result. They explored all the rooms and realized that the only way to go was up.

In one room they found a note written by Strahd Van Zarovich and they freaked out. It was pretty awesome because they were convinced Strahd was there and were panicked about what to do. That’s perfect in a horror setting because you always want the players to feel unbalanced and like anything could happen.

Eventually they encountered a few ghosts, ghasts and spirits and started to piece together what happened years ago at Durst manor. They story is that the father of the house had an affair with the nursemaid. The mother who was already going a little off the deep end lost it. They had been conducting rituals with a cult in tribute to Strahd in hopes of gaining his favor. One night, the mother, locked her two oldest children in their bedroom so that she, her husband and the cult could complete this ritual. But before that happened, the wife killed the nursemaid, the husband hung himself and then the wife sacrificed the baby. The ritual worked, but it didn’t call Strahd, it called a Shambling Mound instead. That creature devoured everyone who was left in the basement dungeons, including the wife. Strahd thought this whole family was pathetic and was pretty much glad to be rid of them for annoying him with their stupid rituals in the first place. Poor Rose and Thorn starve to death in their room, thinking that there is a monster in the basement, because that’s what their mother told them. In addition, they are pretty sure someone took their baby brother Walter down there. That’s why Rose and Thorn ask anyone passing by to help out.

After a few encounters with these ghosts who are in the house (all of them non-combative) and finding some keys, the party was able to unlock some secret doors that would allow them to go down into the basement dungeons. They also picked up a dog that is still following them around.

That’s where things started to get serious. They started by entering the crypts of the house. Somehow, even though I gave pretty much every clue possible they couldn’t figure out that the crypt labeled Walter Durst was for the baby. I don’t think that was my failure in this case, I just think that they missed it.

They found some treasure which was exciting for them but then promptly fell into a spiked pit trap which was also exciting but in more of an oh no we are going to die here kind of way.

While exploring the Larder they were viciously attacked by a Grick. This one knocked out Miles with ease and although he technically died in the encounter, he was brought back although he is not sure how. I do but I’m not going to spoil the surprise here because it should come into play in a later session.

The Grick was a lot tougher creature than I remembered though and it had a pretty easy time going after the adventurers.

In their next encounter they had a little more warning because Lancelot (the dog that they found) started whimpering when a hand rose out of the ground. The fought courageously against four ghouls and stood their ground.

After that they moved onto a room with a statue in it and the statue was holding an orb. Miles touched it and boom, now Strahd knows the adventurers are in town. Of course the players and PC’s don’t know that but I do.

As they delved further into the basement they realized that there were ghostly specters performing rituals over and over again. The characters were either going to have to stop the ritual or stop whatever the ritual called forth. Or I guess they could have sacrificed the dog and completed the ritual but, who wants to kill an innocent dog? So the Shambling Mound was summoned and there was a loooong battle. Miles hit it with some magic and Lady Ellarian stuck it with her longsword more times than I could count but in the end they were triumphant.

Then chaos broke loose. The house began tumbling down around them. We ran a skill challenge for them to escape before sudden death. They had to succeed on four skill checks before getting three failures. Using dexterity, stealth, acrobatics and deception, they were able to avoid various obstacles and survive.

What did they find once they got outside of the house? A gift basket from Strahd himself with four potions of healing and a thank you note for dealing the the “Death House” for him.

To say the players feel off balance would be an understatement I think. They are essentially stranded on a road that leads one way and have to basically walk into the town where they know things can’t be good.

What I would do different

Here’s what I would do different next time I run this part.

  1. I would use Lancelot more as an early warning for characters to realize combat is coming.
  2. I would give even more clues about the whole situation of what lead up to the death of the Dursts.
  3. I would probably ratchet the Grick down a bit depending on how experienced the players I am playing with are. That thing hits really hard once it has hold of you.
  4. I would find more opportunities to have Rose and Thorn show up. (By the way if you use Rose and Thorn, showing their picture just kind of makes it so the characters won’t trust them. They can actually be helpful to the characters so I hid their picture from my players.)

I’ll be back next time to tell you what happens on the road to the Village of Barovia.

f you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 3

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules and went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you. Today I am going to talk about the step by step process of creating a character. This is the first chapter of the simple rules and is a good outline of what we need to do in order to have a character. We won’t be able to go into everything in this post alone so keep an eye out for each section as we go along.

CHAPTER 1: STEP-BY-STEP CHARACTERS

Here’s the list of things you need to do to create a character according to the simple rules.

  1. Choose a Race
  2. Choose a Class
  3. Determine Ability Scores
  4. Describe Your Character
  5. Choose Equipment
  6. Come Together

Additionally this chapter talks about what happens beyond 1st level.

If you ask me, some of that list seems obvious and some of it seems pretty difficult. The first time I read Dungeons & Dragons rules, I was scratching my head for a while and had to read through everything, go back and figure it out again. I mean, equipment sounds easy right? I get that characters need stuff. But what’s an ability score and how do I figure it out? Why am I describing my character after choosing a class and race? Aren’t those things descriptions of my character? And then of course, what are the levels, what do I do with that? This can all be overwhelming and confusing. I am hoping to make this a little less painful and also, let you know the parts that are a little more flexible with kids.

As usual, the secret to all this, is right in the text at the beginning of the chapter. Here’s the beginning of the first chapter of the Simple Rules. “Your first step in the Dungeons & Dragons game is to imagine and create a character of your own. Your character is a combination of game statistics, roleplaying hooks, and your imagination.”

Don’t let the word statistics scare you off there. The point is, you (or your kids) need to just imagine what type of character you want to play. You could simply have them describe their character to you and go on and play, without even figuring out the game statistics. You’d just have to make judgement calls on whether or not it is reasonable that their character accomplished something.

Still, most of us want rules and structure around this game. So let me go into brief detail about each of these sections. I’ll also give you my advice on whether or not to focus on each section the first time you play with kids.

The main thing to remember here is that this game is about storytelling so make sure it’s a story your kid wants to help tell. The best way to do that? Make sure they get to make a character they really want to play.

Let’s dive into the steps.

CHOOSE A RACE

This one seems obvious to me, but then again I have played D&D for a long time. Your kid needs to decide what kind of a character they are going to play. As it says in the chapter, “Every character belongs to a race, one of the many intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world.”

You might be thinking, great but what does that mean exactly and what are the choices? Okay so for this game you get several options as far as race goes. Now, I am operating under the assumption that you are playing in a fantasy type setting. However, if your kids are more into superheroes or whatever, you can adapt these races to fit your narrative. For example, Elves are graceful, wise creatures and Dwarves are bold and hardy. So just think of characters from the world that you are imagining and fit those to that description.

The races that you have as options in the simple rules are as follows: Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, Human, Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling.

Some of those probably seem obvious and you’ve likely seen some portrayal of them in popular media. Others might just seem like someone typed a jumble of letters in a keyboard and hoped for the best. I’ll give a super brief description of each one here but in later posts we’ll take a deep dive into each one.

Dwarf– This is pretty much what you would guess. Strong, hardy folk who love to mine, drink ale and fight. They are tough and they are difficult to poison. They can be a really fun race to play in the game and most kids can wrap their heads around this one.

Elf- Again, this one seems pretty straightforward. If you have seen Lord of the Rings, you have a pretty good idea of what an Elf is like. They are kind of mystical, very graceful, often wise but they can also be lethal when called to action.

Halfling- There are not a ton of Halfling examples to point to outside of The Hobbit, so if you are thinking of Bilbo or Frodo Baggins, that’s exactly what Halflings are all about. They are small, live for a long time, and most of them are not big on traveling everywhere all the time. That said, there are always a few that want to go on an adventure and Halflings can be really fun to play.

Human- I don’t think there is much to explain here. Humans do have the advantage in this game of sort of being a jack of all trades and can learn stuff easier than some of the other races listed, so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing a human. They do have the disadvantage of not getting racial bonuses in the game mechanics at the start, but like all real humans, they can improve over time.

Dragonborn- A what now? Yeah, Dragonborn you may not be familiar with. These are basically dragons walking on two feet. They don’t have all the characteristics of dragons but they are scaley, they look like they are tough (because they are) and they can in fact use a breath weapon that does a type of damage that an actual dragon from the game would do (just on a smaller scale).

Gnome- These folks are small and energetic. They’re even smaller than Halflings and are endlessly curious. They love to live life and are enthusiastic about just about everything and that can make them excellent adventurers.

Half-Elf- This is a combination of an Elf and a human. They walk between two worlds but are never entirely accepted in either. This can be a little hard to role play as a kid, but if they want to be a little bit elf, and a little bit human, this is a great race to choose. The fact that these characters don’t quite belong anywhere makes them very good at being diplomatic and understanding the needs of others.

Half-Orc- Unlike Half-Elves, the Half-Orc stands out in a crowd no matter where they go. They look like Orcs and many people mistrust them. This could be due in part to the fact that a lot Half-Orcs are very strong and quick to anger. This is a great race to play if your kid wants to be a fighter.

Tiefling- Again, this might be one you have never heard of. These creatures look like demons but in humanoid form. They have a very tough time fitting in to society because everyone assumes the worst at first glance. The fact is though, that there are plenty of good Tieflings who just want to have an adventure.

Like with everything in D&D, you don’t have to play to the classic type on these. If you want to play an Elf who is clumsy, go for it. A dwarf who can’t stand being in a mine? Sure thing, no one is stopping you. Let your kids have fun with the race they choose.

CHOOSE A CLASS

To make this part easy, just think of this as the job that the character does. Like with races, I will do a post with a deep dive into each of these.

Here are the options you have for class: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlocks, and Wizard.

I’ll again give you a super brief description of these.

Barbarian- Barbarians are excellent fighters, they tend to like being outdoors, they love to be in the thick of battle and are quick to anger.

Bard- Bards are entertainers to the core, be it through music, poetry or some other means. Bards are excellent at supporting other characters with their magic and can make the whole party better at anything they are trying to do.

Cleric- Clerics get their strength through the gods. They can wield powerful healing magic or deal devastating damage and they are imbued with divine magic.

Druid- Always in tune with nature, Druids never try to claim control over it. These characters use natural forces and natural magic to accomplish their goals. One of the neatest things about this class for kids is that some of them can change into animal forms which makes for an endless amount of role play opportunity.

Fighter- Yes, this is what it sounds like. Fighters are good at fighting. There are a ton of different options for how you fight, but all fighter are, well… good in a fight.

Monk- The strength of a Monk flows from within. Unlike fighters, most Monks don’t use weapons but they can pull magic out of themselves. If you have seen any of the best of the Bruce Lee movies, you have a great idea of what a Monk is and can do.

Paladin- Paladins are bound by oaths to stand against the forces of evil. They are the closest to knights of the round table that this game gets. They try to do the honorable thing, whatever way they interpret that. They are capable of great fighting and strong magic and are a highly playable class.

Ranger- Rangers roam the wilderness on the hunt for monsters that threaten the lands. They tend to be loners and isolated but never forget the people they fight for. They are very good at surviving in the wild and are great at hunting and tracking.

Rogue- Rogues are stealthy and skillful. They are good problem solvers and pick things up quickly. While not every rogue is a thief, a great many thieves are in fact rogues. They are excellent for sneaking into a lair and dealing massive damage through their sneak attacks.

Sorcerer- Sorcerers are gifted with magic through a number of methods but unlike wizards, it’s not from book learning. You can’t learn to be a sorcerer, you either are one or you are not. They are fantastic at magic spells and can do a great many things, however, the magic can sometimes go a little astray and cause damage to themselves and others. This is a very fun class to play because of the unpredictability of their magic.

Warlock- Warlocks make pacts with supernatural beings to gain knowledge of magic. They are beholden to these beings and the role play potential with this class is enormous from that fact alone.

Wizard- The most traditional of magic users, this class learns from books and a natural talent for magic how to cast spells. Think Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter and you have a great idea of a wizard.

DETERMINE ABILITY SCORES

To me this is the hardest part of making a character and when it comes to playing with kids, the least important. For now, my advice is this. Understand what the ability scores are, and have your kids just choose one of them that their character is good at.

So what are the abilities that there are? Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. I’ll give you the two second take on each one and like I said, just have your kid choose one that their character is good at.

Strength- Just what it sounds like, how strong you are.

Dexterity- How nimble you are. Can you dodge a sword blow? Can you you dodge under a falling rock before it hits you? Then you have good dexterity.

Constitution- This is how hardy you are. Can you eat anything and never get sick? Is it tough to poison you? Then you have good constitution.

Intelligence- This is basically your book smarts. You want high intelligence if you are a wizard but anyone can be intelligent if they put enough effort into it.

Wisdom- This is your life experience. You might not be educated in the traditional sense, but you can tell when someone is trying to fool you.

Charisma- This is essentially how charming you are. An important note on this one, is that charming doesn’t always mean kind. In Harry Potter, Voldemort is charismatic because he has many followers that do what he says. If you want to be able to influence people, for good or bad, Charisma is important.

DESCRIBE YOUR CHARACTER

This is taking the character you have so far and giving her personality and a back story. I’ll go into the options on this more in a later post but the possibilities here are as endless as storytelling itself. This is the spot where imagination really helps. That being said, there are some short cuts you can use in the simple rules to drive your imagination.

CHOOSE EQUIPMENT

Each character is going to need stuff. A swordsman needs a sword, a wizard needs a spell book and materials to make spells with. Some of the equipment is automatically given based on a characters class and background but there are options to buy the equipment using the gold in the game. I’m obviously not going to go into every item that can be purchased but the simple rules have a handy section for that. I would just say, try to make the equipment purchases be something that makes sense for the character and the type of adventure you are trying to have.

COME TOGETHER

This is just having the players form up as a team. This is usually done through role play with the Dungeon Master at the beginning of a campaign. There are an infinite number of ways this can happen so be creative here.

GET YOUR KIDS EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING

This is not an official step in the rules but I highly recommend it before playing.

In my next posts I am going to start going through each race in more detail. But before I end this post, I wanted to point you to some resources to help your kids start to think about what kind of character they want to play. Lucky for us, Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Dungeons & Dragons has a bunch of resources for this.

I’m not pushing you to buy these but if you do decide to and order through my site, it will help out the site a ton. If you are considering buying these books, consider purchasing through this post, it will not cost you anything extra at all.

I will eventually do a review of each one of these books but suffice it to say that both of these are great at getting kids excited about playing D&D.

Warriors and Weapons is a primer on characters you can play and the kind of equipment they can use. It has great pictures, easy to digest information and is a really fun read, even if you are an adult.

Wizards & Spells is dedicated to the magic users and beings in the game. It’s a great little primer on magical characters and creatures and will give kids a good idea of what can be done in the game with magic.

I actually think the whole series of these books are great but the two above are the best for learning about characters and what they can do. Even if your kids can’t read, the illustrations convey a ton of information so I highly recommend them.

Next time I am going to take a deep dive and delve into the world of Dwarves. Until next time, I hope you all stay safe and have fun. Roll high!

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th (2009) – #MovieReview

File This under Did We Have To?

Just when you thought my reviews of Friday the 13th movies were over, I’m back with another one. Slick Dungeon here, wondering why I just watched this. Maybe my review will answer my own question?

Okay so, I know I missed some of the originals but there are some films that can’t even be found in my own dungeon so I was left to watch this one. Just go with it and pretend those other films didn’t really happen. Kind of like this movie does.

I’m going to give you a summary of the… plot? And then I have a few thoughts about this thing. There are spoilers for this that will flow as free as the blood from a machete wound so you have been warned. If you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want spoilers, watch it now and come back.

The movie starts with the decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees to dispel us of the notion that she could be the killer or that this is at all a straight remake of the first one. Then we get a group of teenage campers who are out in Crystal Lake, looking for weed, having sex and the whole bit. Of course they camp right near Jason, tell a story about Jason, then get killed by Jason. Finally, the credits roll like twenty minutes in to the movie. It’s a few months later and Clay (played by Jared Padalecki) is out looking for his sister who we know is one of the campers from earlier. We also know that she looks exactly like Jason’s mother. We don’t see her die on camera so there’s no guarantee she’s dead.

A different group of people are going up to Crystal Lake to spend the weekend and run into Clay. This one dude Trent is a total jerkwad and from the first second he is on screen we are all waiting to see Jason finish that dude off. Anyway, the story goes like you would expect, Jason stalks the people, kills them in horrific ways and in the end he is stopped at last. It’s a story we have seen on screen at least eleven times before and there isn’t really much new here, other than the fact that after eleven films, this doesn’t work so well when you try to start over.

Still, I had a few thoughts about this movie.

  1. I wondered why I didn’t like this but then I figured it out. I hate virtually everything Michael Bay does. This was only produced by him but I still see his fingerprints all over it. There is modern (for 2009) music in it and it just feels wrong. Everyone is sweaty in practically every shot. The camera doesn’t hold still long enough to actually build tension. The characters are one dimensional for the most part, with the notable exception of Clay, his sister and the character of Jenna (played by Danielle Panabaker). It feels like a big Hollywood set even in the parts that are clearly just people walking in the woods due to the way it’s shot. In the end this is like trying to do horror with a glossy color poster with attractive people from 2009 instead of an old black and white Victorian portrait that actually looks creepy. Putting a modern spin on the film making style does not help this.
  2. It seems like they wanted to feed into every stereotype from these movies to give the audience what they wanted. The thing is, that what the audience actually wants is to be surprised and scared by these movies. So if you see people doing drugs or having sex or whatever, and then they get killed, it’s not scary and it’s no longer a surprise. Also, I never related to these characters much (not that I do in the other ones either really) so when they die, it’s not real impactful.
  3. There was a disturbing lack of car trouble in this movie. How can this be a Friday the 13th movie if the only reason that a car doesn’t start is that there are no keys? Did someone open that Crystal Lake auto repair shop? Cause that was my idea!
  4. Also, the guy who tells the campfire story of Jason does a terrible job. It’s not suspenseful and there is no one to jump out at the end. Come on man, learn to tell a story, otherwise this is just lazy.
  5. This stars Jared Padalecki and there is no Jensen Ackles in the movie. Come on Sam Winchester, you can’t win this without your bro.
  6. I didn’t find the kills in this one particularly inventive. I know after all those movies that came before it’s hard to come up with something new but try a little harder guys. I saw a circular saw and you know how many people got killed with one? Absolutely none.
  7. Jason doesn’t kill Whitney (the missing sister) because she looks like his mother. But he basically keeps her prisoner in his house. Sorry but this makes no sense. Why would Jason take his own mother prisoner. Also, Whitney finds out right in the beginning that she looks like his mother but doesn’t really pull the whole impersonating his mother until the end of the film. What? Why not? I mean she could have done that in the first fifteen minutes and then the movie is over.
  8. Trent is a jerk. They make Trent such an obvious jerk in this movie that you can tell the film makers were like, here’s the guy you can cheer for when he gets killed. Look how jerky his jerkiness is. Let’s make him more of a jerk. Wait he’s not jerky enough so let’s have him cheat on his girlfriend so the audience understands how jerky he is! So yes, there are not one but two attractive women who just want to be all over Trent even though… he is a jerk. Okay…
  9. I did not see an old man warns those kids away from that place scene. This movie fails. The closest we get is an old woman telling Clay that “he just wants to be left alone” with no other explanation. I need an old guy warns people away scene. If you make a sequel to this movie, hire me for that scene, I am available. Also, I work cheap.
  10. While Derek Mears does a great job playing Jason, he’s on camera too much. These movies are always better when you are not sure when he’s going to pop up or from where. As soon as we see Jason, it gets a little less scary and in this one we see him almost right from the beginning. The early ones hid Jason a lot more and that worked to their advantage.
  11. The jump scare at the end of this was so predictable. Again, if we have seen it a bunch of times, even though you are doing a reboot, we are going to see it coming. How about just try something new? Oh wait, you can’t. That’s why you did a reboot. Okay fine.
  12. For a reboot though, this is actually not that bad. I have definitely seen worse reboots. It just never felt… necessary to me though.
  13. This film make the 12th movie about the Voorhees in the series. Can we please, please get one more? Let’s get everyone who survived these to team up and hunt down Jason. And let’s make sure that I am there warning those kids away from that place!

I hope you have enjoyed my reviews of this series. It was fun to take a look at these movies again. Until next time, I’ll be hanging out at a local hardware store near a lake and telling people not to go to that place.

Superstitiously yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS Want to see Sam Winchester without his brother and Killer Frost without the Flash face off against the Voorhees family? Check it out below.

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Roland’s Path – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

SYNOPSIS

When two servants of evil escape during young Roland’s watch, he is driven by his own shame and vanity to take up his axes and track them down himself. Raised on the rural edges of Gallhallad, can he survive the dangers and complexity of the road ahead?With the help of his lifelong friend Eldryn, the Cavalier hopeful, and an uneasy bargain with a dagger wielding cutpurse, Roland pursues a wizard of unknown powers and a woman of uncommon beauty and skill.Will Roland’s vanity not only doom him, but a kingdom he hoped to one day serve as well?In Roland’s world of Stratvs, vanity has a high price. A price paid with the blood of the innocent and the guilty. Around him, swords once pledged to justice rust on the altars of the self-righteous.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Roland and Eldryn are young men who have large shoes to fill. Roland is trying to live up to his father’s expectations and has his first test before him when two prisoners escape under his watch. This leads to an epic adventure across the lands where danger is around every corner, friends are few and knowledge and training make the difference between life and death. Roland and Eldryn make an alliance with a cutpurse to help them track down and return the escaped prisoners. They will be tested, challenged and hunted. Will they be able to survive, return the prisoners and fight with enough honor to make their ancestors proud?

Rolands Path reminded me of an extended Dungeons and Dragons session. That is not an insult in any way. I love those types of adventures and any time I can go on an epic quest with a well written character, I am on board. The best moments of this book were full of action and heroic sword battles. The action is constant and very well detailed. The danger is palpable and it never feels guaranteed that any of the main characters are going to survive the next minute, let alone to the end of the book. At its best this story feels like something that could sit next to R.A. Salvatore’s famous Homeland book, although with a less flawed protagonist than that series has.

While the heroes are well fleshed out and there was a good sense of where they came from and what they wanted, the villains were another story. Their motivations were unclear and some of the tactics they were using did not always make sense. Some of this is probably due to the fact that this is the first in a series of books and hopefully these characters will be more well developed in the future books.

This was close to a four star book, except for the vague definition of the villains and the fact that there are a lot of distracting spelling mistakes. The ride is fun and the action is good. If you are a fan of fantasy books, this is a good one to pick up. The follow up is sure to be an exciting ride and something to look forward to.

Epically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 1

DriveThruRPG.com

Hey everyone out there, it’s your friendly Dungeon Master Slick here. I’ve had a lot of time to hang out with some friends lately and we decided to play a little game you may have heard of called Dungeons & Dragons. We wanted to go with Curse of Strahd since none of us had played it before. I got to be the Dungeon Master and I have two players playing. Before you ask, yes we did this while practicing social distancing. I stayed in my dungeon and they stayed in theirs and we played online. If you click the link above for Strahd, do be advised that it is for Fantasy Grounds that is an online platform you can use to play Dungeons & Dragons, not just a PDF you can download. I will also provide a link at the end of the post where you could get a physical copy of the book if you want.

A couple notes before I get into the game session here. First, if you have been reading my Kids Kill Monsters series about playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids, this post is not about that. I will get back to doing those posts soon but I really do not recommend Strahd for kids or dungeon masters new to the game because it gets a little complicated, there are dark horror elements to it, and there are so many ways this can end up going wrong. That said, if you have a kid who loves horror (I have since I was like eight years old) and you feel they are mature and sophisticated enough to take on some pretty dark stuff, have at it. Also, there will be spoilers for the module of Curse of Strahd so if you are a player who is either about to play or is currently playing this campaign, you should probably not read this. That goes double for my players! Don’t read this guys.

I’ll wait for players to exit the room and we have all Dungeon Masters or would be Dungeon Masters here.

Okay the coast is clear, DM’s read on.

In these diaries, it’s my intention to tell you what I did to prepare, how the session played out, and what I would try to change or improve the next time. I hope you’ll find the story a little bit entertaining but mostly I hope I can give some advice to anyone interested in running this campaign for themselves. I’m going to be writing these campaign diaries with the assumption that you know at least a little bit about how the game is played but if anything in here seems confusing, feel free to ask about it in the comments. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Preparation

I’m going to give you the most obvious advice ever but, if you want to run a campaign well, one thing you have to do is… read the module. Yeah, I know, you probably know this already. In order to prepare I did just that. I read the book. After reading the book, I still had a ton of questions on how I wanted to run certain things, and how certain things worked.

If you have read this module you will know that there is this sort of Tarot card style reading using what they call a Tarokka deck. You can use regular playing cards to do this reading, as long as you have all 54 cards in the deck (jokers included). The module tells you to do this reading once on your own and once with players. I highly recommend practicing this a few times. I think I have it down, but that hasn’t been put to the test yet because my players have not gotten to the point where they would have their reading done.

Once I read the module and I felt like I had a somewhat decent handle on how it’s supposed to run, I started scouring the internet for resources. I love the Gothic horror aspect of the campaign, although I do cringe at some of the parts of the module that seem like they might lead into uncomfortable territory for players. I did find a really handy resource though and if you want to run this campaign, I think you should definitely check out this channel, and the resources on it. Lunch Break Heroes has thoroughly turned up the narration and the horror on this campaign to eleven. I linked to the whole play list of his videos for the campaign below so you might want to start with the earliest videos about adventure hooks and running the “Death House” module first.

If you would rather read through his awesome guide, you can get it here on his Curse of Strahd Reloaded reddit thread.

I took the parts that I liked from the module and from the book and added a little of my own flavor to how I thought things should go. Once I was prepped, we met to make characters.

Characters

One player decided to be Lady Ellarian Brysalor, a wood elf noble fighter with a tragic past and the huge burden of having inherited a large estate after her whole family was wiped out in a zombie attack. (My players decided to make it a zombie attack because I have zombie anxiety dreams and they thought it would be funny… so yeah there’s that.)

Also just a side note, I am not sure where the pictures I am posting below come from so if anyone knows, let me know and I will credit the source. Or if you own the image and want it removed just let me know and I will take it down.

The other player created the character of Miles Adelard a human Acolyte Sorcerer also with a tragic back story. When Miles was young, his family was killed by a cult of some kind. Later in life he was adopted by a kind hearted family. They taught him the ways of Lathander and he became a devote religious student. Sadly, his family was also attacked and killed by what may be the same cult as before.

I don’t know why my players both wanted to have their entire families dead at the beginning of this but Strahd is definitely dark enough to encompass this sort of thing.

We decided to start everyone at level one. I’m not going to put all their stats and stuff here but if you really want me to, just let me know in the comments. Since we were going to begin with level one, I had to make a couple of decisions. First, what adventure hook did I want to play and, should I run the so called, “Death House” module that is in the appendix of the book.

I decided to go with the “Mysterious Visitors” adventure hooks with a couple of the changes from the reddit thread I posted above. In this hook, basically, the characters start in Daggerford, are asked to deal with some bandits who turn out to be Vistani from Barovia (the realm that Strahd rules over) who then ask the characters to come and help them. I added in the little plot idea that Madam Eva, an important NPC that shows up later in the game has sent them some dreams that have haunted them for the past few nights.

I also decided to run the Death House module which was a little trickier because we weren’t starting in Barovia. The reason I didn’t want to start in Barovia was twofold. First, my players are quite familiar with The Sword Coast and were pretty good with starting there. Secondly, I like the idea of feeling like you pass from one realm to another, with no way out. Again taking a cue from the reddit thread above, I placed the house, rebranded Durst Manor just outside of the village of Barovia.

After all that was set, we were ready to play.

The first session

At the beginning I leaned hard into the roleplay. I wanted to set the tone and the mood early on, so I didn’t just read the boxed text that says the characters are having dinner with Lady Morwen. She’s a noble character so I thought it made sense that she would know Lady Ellarian Brysalor. Miles was accompanying her because they had in the past befriended one another when Miles was curing one of Ellarian’s townsfolk and asked for no repayment or reward. From then on, the two of them had become fast friends and often traveled together. Ellarian had some business to take care of in Daggerford and got the invite to dinner with Lady Morwen.

While at dinner, Lady Morwen made it known that there had been some trouble outside the gates of town and her guards seemed like they had potentially been the subjects of a charm spell. Naturally the players offered up their assistance immediately.

When Miles and Ellarian approached the Vistani wagons, they wanted to go in stealthily but Miles failed his stealth check badly so he fell on his face and the Vistani were well aware that the characters were traipsing around the camp.

In the book, Stanimir is supposed to be the leader of the Vistani here and tells a little story about Strahd and how he is more or less cursed and a tyrant. Then he is supposed to ask the players to come and free Strahd. I felt like that was a little too straight forward so I played Stanimir as if he was a little sketchy bur really friendly and warm. I think the book expects for the players to suddenly think these people are totally harmless even though Lady Morwen is suspicious of them. If I did this over, I think I would have just made Lady Morwen ask the characters to conduct some business on her behalf instead of cast the Vistani in a poor light right from the get-go. I did even have one player say during the story that it felt like an adventure hook. He was right of course and he’s an experienced player so I am not surprised by it, but I didn’t want it to feel quite so railroaded. I also took the advice from that reddit thread above to say that the characters could share stories with the Vistani before Stanimir did his. Miles told an excellent impromptu legend about a dragon that swooped in to save some heroes during a mighty battle. It was a really great role playing experience and was my favorite part of the session. Then Stanimir started talking about the same woman that the characters had seen in their dreams, Madam Eva. I won’t say it convinced the players to go, but it didn’t hurt.

In the module Lady Morwen basically wants the characters to leave by dawn but the characters are supposed to go with them. I felt like this part did not work at all because also in the module the Vistani in this camp agree immediately to leave at dawn anyway. So mission accomplished. Like I said above, if I ran this again I would change a bit of what Lady Morwen is asking here. Lesson learned for next time.

After a bit of back and forth, the players went back and reported to Lady Morwen what they had seen. The players were still really suspicious of Stanimir. In order to get them to sympathize a little more with the Vistani I revealed that Lady Morwen’s servant had been caught trying to steal the Vistani’s wine, so they roughed him up for that. I even had Lady Morwen go apologize to Stanimir to get them to agree to go in the wagons toward Barovia.

In the module as written, the characters travel a while with the Vistani and then the forest suddenly becomes unrecognizable as the fog creeps in around everyone. The players don’t know it but this is a plane shift. Of course, when I described it to them, the players lost it on Stanimir and got pretty mad at him. Stanimir talked them down a bit as if it was no big deal but told them that it would be a bad idea to go into the fog on their own.

In order for the Death House module to work, it made the most sense to me to have Stanimir leave the characters when they were just outside Barovia. He stops the wagons, confesses that Madam Eva has banished Stanimir and his group and that his punishment is to bring people to these lands until someone frees Barovia of Strahd. He then splits out of town in a hurry.

The rain starts to pour and it gets late. As the characters are stumbling around in the dark, they see a lantern. They make their way over to it and see a girl with her little brother. The girl tells the characters that there is a monster in their house and they are worried about their little brother. I honestly thought I would get to role play this part a little more. Rose and Thorn are the siblings here and I did find them pretty interesting in the book. But the players were just like, yep, let’s go save that kid, find the basement! Hehehe… trap sprung.

I will say that one of the really smart bits of advice in the reddit thread is to not call this part Death House. I’ve just been referring to it as Durst Manor. I think the players are aware that they are in a haunted house but they have no idea what they are really in for.

They spent the rest of the session trying to figure out how to get to the basement. In the dining room there was a magnificent feast laid out and Miles took a huge bite out of a pheasant. I had him make a DC 15 wisdom save. He rolled a 7. After a minute the food turned rotted and to what it really was and Miles is currently poisoned.

It wasn’t all bad for poor Miles though, as he did find a very serviceable crossbow in one of the cabinets. The players then figured out that there was no access to the basement from the first floor, that the front door was locked, and that the only way to go on is up.

That’s where we will be headed next time.

What I would do different

Here’s what I would do different next time I run this part.

  1. Reduce the role of Lady Morwen and her demands or start the characters right in Barovia.
  2. . Play up the dreams that Madam Eva sends more (this is straight from the reddit thread not from the Curse of Strahd module so don’t look for it there)
  3. Find a way to get a little more star time for Rose and Thorn.
  4. Make the Vistani a little less suspicious but definitely keep the storytelling around the fire.

I’m sure there are lots of other mistakes I made but I would say overall it was a really fun session. I’ll be back to tell you all how the next session goes once we have had it.

If you want to get a physical copy of Curse of Strahd for yourself, check it out below.

Cursedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th – #MovieReview

Happy Friday out there to all of you! Is it Friday? I mean, maybe? Anyway, I spent six hours and forty minutes watching a mega documentary about the Friday the 13th series and I am here to give you my take on it.

Let me start by saying that I am a horror fan and one of the series I have fond memories of is this series, so I am somewhat predisposed to enjoy this documentary. That being said, I think that anyone who has an interest in film making at all, would get a lot of value out of this film too.

Perhaps it’s a little twisted but I loved as a kid, to watch something that just scared me so bad that I couldn’t sleep and Jason was one of those movie monsters that often haunted my dreams. I think there is a deep human need in all of us to allow ourselves to be frightened. I think we need these movie monsters and we need to see our fears on screen and then see them defeated. And I think we still have a deep need to think that at any time, that fear we thought was gone, could come back. It’s cathartic to watch these movies if you ask me, and I don’t apologize for being a fan of horror. But still I recognize that not everyone would want to watch these or to watch a documentary about them. But if you are interested in horror, I am not sure I have seen a more extensive and well done documentary than this one.

The series goes into the extensive history of all the films, including the originals, Freddy VS Jason and the Friday the 13th (2009) reboot. But it also includes some talk about the comic books, novels, toys and even goes into the often forgotten Friday the 13th television series. And as if that wasn’t enough, it is hosted by none other than the original Tommy Jarvis himself, Corey Feldman. It’s got interviews with nearly everyone you would want to hear from that had something to do with the movies. It is quite the time commitment though, so you’ll probably want to break it up by chapters unless you happen to have nearly seven hours to sit there at once. Okay, yeah so one sitting might be fine in this day and age…

I really found this documentary fascinating and informative. Everything from how the shoestring budget original film came together, to how Freddy and Jason finally got pitted against one another. It pulled back the curtain on a lot of the effects, and a ton of the choices that went into making each movie. It also showed how the struggle with the MPAA was a running theme through everything they did. It’s got Kane Hodder giving his take on the films he was in and how he (in my opinion) totally got ripped off when it came time for Freddy VS Jason. It delves into the controversies surrounding some of the films and it surprised me just how aware the film makers were of the parts that fans did not react well to. Whether you love or hate these movies, it’s apparent everyone was trying to make the best films they could, and it’s a gripping look at how it was done.

I don’t want to spoil too much in this so I just want to give you my favorite moment from the whole thing. Ted White who played Jason in one of the films was doing a stunt where he was near the final fight of the movie. The actress was supposed to bring Jason’s iconic machete down onto a pick-axe he is holding. The head of the pick-axe was supposed to meet the blade of the machete. That’s the shot you see in the film. But, when they did the stunt the first time, the actress was a little too fast and Ted White hadn’t yet rotated the pick axe up. As a result the machete cut his finger and he needed to go to the hospital for stitches. Well, being that this was a movie and near the end of Jason’s final battle, Ted had a prop machete sticking out of his shoulder with all this fake blood on him. He goes to the emergency room and walks up the nurse there and everyone is freaking out over it. As soon as he gets to the nurse he calmly says, “Do you have anything for headaches?”. To me, that moment just summarizes the horror, the humor and the the perfect reaction to the best of Friday the 13th. And honestly, that’s just one in a ton of great stories in this documentary.

I know it’s a long time commitment but I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you haven’t yet gotten Shudder you can sign up for it on Amazon Prime for a free trial. To me Shudder is worth it for their Friday the 13th collection alone, but they have a bunch of other good stuff on there too. I believe that you can still get a free trial of it for 30 days if you use the code SHUTIN too, so you don’t have much to lose other than time. (Not trying to give the hard sell here, just saying that I really like Shudder)

I’ve watched the entire Friday the 13th collection on Shudder and while they don’t have every movie in the series, they definitely have the best one (the first four). But out of all the movies in that collection, I enjoyed this one the most. I hope you’ll take some time and check it out.

Documentingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini – #MovieReview

How’s everyone out there doing? Still shut in like the rest of us? Need a movie to watch? Well, there is a documentary I can recommend to anyone who is a bit of a horror fan. Usually I do a review in which I tell you the plot of a movie, then give my irreverent thoughts and questions about said movie. In this case, it’s a documentary and much harder to do that. What I can tell you is that you should watch Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini.

If you have watched a movie in the last 40 years or so where there was a violent death involving blood and you for even one second thought it looked realistic, you can thank Tom Savini. His story is fascinating from when he was a young kid obsessed with monster movies to his adult days fighting in Vietnam and on through his legendary film career. He’s an actor, stuntman, director and special effects artist all rolled into one. If you happen to watch Locke & Key on Netflix, you will see a cameo by him and I recommend you watch the documentary first in case you don’t know who he is. If you have watched Friday the 13th recently you probably have seen his name in those credits too.

His filmography is long and impressive and his approach to his special effects is refreshingly straight forward. Sometimes when I watch modern horror films and it’s nothing but CGI, I find the scares much less frightening and the film much less enjoyable. I used to wonder why that was but now that I have seen this documentary I know it’s because of Tom Savini. He went through the Vietnam war and saw some gruesome stuff so he knew what looks real and what did not. It also helps that unlike some CGI, his effects are three dimensional and can be touched. One really simple example is in Friday the 13th. In one scene, an ax is about to buried into someone’s head. Right before the ax connects with the face, it hits a light overhead and the camera lingers on the light swinging for just a moment. This makes the hit with ax feel much more real. Why? It feels like it has actual weight to the thing.

Tom was full of ideas like that (and still is really) but I found this film fascinating and you should go watch it.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS Want to see Tom do his thing? Click below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – #MovieReview

Slick Dungeon back to review another film in the Friday the 13th series. Strap in, to your life boats, put on your life jacket and brace for stormy seas because there be spoilers ahead for all the Jason movies up to this point. You have been warned.

Well, we need a new idea for the ever popular Jason movies. We’ve seen Mrs. Voorhees kill camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. We’ve seen Jason kill camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. We’ve seen Jason kill people at houses near Camp Crystal Lake. We’ve seen Jason kill other people at a different house near camp Crystal Lake. We’ve seen someone who is not Jason kill people at a halfway house near Camp Crystal Lake. We’ve seen Jason go back to he neighborhood of Crystal Lake after being resurrected from the dead. And we have seen Jason go toe to toe with a psychic at a house near Camp Crystal Lake. You know what we should do? Send Jason to Manhattan! He’s never been in a city before so let’s do that! Great. Only, you know location costs are high when filming in New York City right? You have to stop traffic and all that stuff. Okay, here’s the plan. We call it Jason Takes Manhattan but we have it mostly take place… on a boat! Err… on a boat? Yeah on a boat, it’s gonna be great. Didn’t Jason drown and wouldn’t be be afraid of being out on the water? Yeah, but boat. But how do we get him to New York City? Isn’t Camp Crystal Lake, you know, a lake? Meaning it doesn’t connect to the ocean? It’s Jason on a boat! No one will notice. I think they will. We’ll have Jason knock someone’s head off with a single punch though. Oh, okay if Jason is going to do that, we’re all in, no need to explain plot holes at all here.

Oddly, there are some things that are done really well in this movie despite the whole Jason on a boat thing. There are decently developed characters and there is even some character change by the end. This starts off a little weird with some shots of grungy city life in New York but with a radio station talking about kids from a high school in Crystal Lake coming to visit. Then we shift over to a boat on Camp Crystal Lake where a couple of teenagers are hanging out uh… doing what teenagers do. The boy tells the girl the legend of Jason. It’s not the whole old crazy man warns kids away scene that I love, but it is the let’s tell a spooky story and then have that story come to life scene. Moments later these teenagers are dead after Jason has been resurrected with the unlikely combination of an anchor hitting a power line under water just right, sparking electricity that flows directly to where Jason has been chained.

Next we see high school students loading onto a cruise ship that, again is going to the ocean, from wherever Camp Crystal Lake is, (I think somewhere in upstate New York that does not have a lake that connects to an ocean). The next third of the film is the same thing as all the other movies. Jason stalks and kills people, only this time, this time, it’s… yes… on a boat. The boat goes through some major damage caused not only by Jason but also by those trying to stop him. Finally, the boat sinks and a few people make it out on a row boat and do in fact make it to New York City. Guess who tagged along? You got it, Jason climbs out of the water soon after they dock. There’s a bit of a run around through the city, on the subway and in the sewers until Jason is finally killed by… toxic waste. Yep, all it takes to get Jason to go away for good is some good ol’ New York City toxic waste.

I had a few questions and comments here.

  1. We didn’t get the old man warns people away from Crystal Lake scene but you know what we did get? That’s right, we got the ship’s crewman telling everyone this voyage is doomed scene! I love it. Also, if anyone out there needs me to stand on a ship and warn people that their voyage is doomed, give me a call.
  2. In the beginning when we get the narration of why Jason kills people, they say he haunts the lake, killing teens to get revenge. You know what that does not explain at all? All the adults who are not teens that he kills. Sorry, I want my ghost stories to be consistent.
  3. Again, I don’t think that’s how electricity works but apparently if you want Jason to live, pump him full of electricity. But also, if you want to slow Jason down, you can, hit him with electricity. So uh.. yeah, there’s that.
  4. There was no car trouble whatsoever in this. You know why? It was on a boat! People finally figured out that their cars wouldn’t save them from Jason so they thought to give the boat a try.
  5. Speaking of boats, the harbor where people load on at Crystal Lake is way larger than one would expect considering this is always talked about as a small town.
  6. That boat that those teenagers from the beginning were on floats into the harbor and it’s covered in blood but no one seems to notice or care at all. Come on people, when a ghost ship rolls into town there is trouble on the way. Have none of you read Dracula?
  7. Most things won’t kill Jason but a few stop them. At one point in this movie, Rennie, one of the few who will survive, is given a fountain pen that supposedly belonged to Stephen King. Later in the movie, Rennie stabs Jason in the eye with it and he totally slows down. Stephen, can we get some more of those pens?!
  8. In this Jason also picks up a brand new hockey mask but in some shots his mask still has the ax mark from like the third film. Did no one think to make sure the mask damage was consistent here?
  9. Jason lumbers all around New York City, in Times Square, on the subway, in a diner, on the sewers and when people first see him, they have no reaction to him at all. Checks notes: yep, this checks out perfectly.
  10. Years before this the Muppets took Manhattan. In that movie, I learned that to take Manhattan, you had to make friends with rats at a diner, bring all your pals along, have a fight with them and send them away then be sad for a while, then have a memory of all of you as adorable babies before successfully putting on a Broadway show. Guess who didn’t do any of that? That’s right, Jason. So let me be clear here: Jason never took Manhattan at all!!
  11. Jason is killed by toxic waste in the New York Sewers. Uh, seriously? Why would that be a weakness of Jason’s?
  12. Also, why is there so much toxic waste around here?
  13. Well, it’s been a fun eight movies but Jason is finally at rest where he belongs. In the sewers of New York City, swimming around in toxic waste. We can all rest easy now, there won’t be any more Jason movies or deaths. What? What is that you just said? Jason Goes to Hell? Okay yeah that seems about right but isn’t that pretty much where we would expect to find him? Oh, Jason X? I mean what, Jason X marks the spot? This is getting silly. Freddy Vs. Jason? Yeah, okay I guess that could be fun. A reboot?! A reboot?! Can you actually do that? Friday the 13th? And we are just going to pretend the rest never happened? Oh man, there are a lot of these. Can anything kill Jason? I mean besides toxic sludge in New York City, or the pen of America’s favorite horror author of course.

Will I be reviewing all of those other Jason movies? Eh.. maybe? Depends on if I can get them on a subscription service I already have or not. I am sure eventually I will get to all of them but for now I am only doing the ones on Shudder.

I am going to watch and review the two documentaries about the series on there and I will report back on those for sure. I hope you have gotten a kick out of some of these reviews and let me know in the comments or @DungeonSlick on twitter if there is another movie series you would like me to obsessively watch and then rip apart in reviews full of nonsense and questions.

Stay safe out there and remember. Take a buddy with you when you go camping!

Slashingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Want to watch Jason get turned back into an eight year old boy by New York City’s finest toxic waste? Check it out below by clicking on the image.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

A Wind Blown Torment – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

A sweeping epic with an impending threat. The tension builds and the world feels fully realized but could use a little more action.

SYNOPSIS

Ka Lem can take the form of any animal he knows. He chooses the form of a bear for first his soul form, and plans on taking the form of an elk afterward.

But the elk have disappeared, from the land and from his soul. No one can find them.

Unease fills everyone – the Wind People, the Stone People, and the Sea People.

And fires race across the eastern planes, despite the winter rains.

“A Wind Blown Torment” – the first book of a new dark epic fantasy trilogy – presents unique magic, fascinating characters, and a heart-stirring conflict.

Be sure to be on the outlook for the next books, “A Stone Strewn Clash” and “A Sea Washed Victory.”

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

There are three types of people in the world, the Wind people, the Stone people and the Sea people. They all have varying forms of magic. Wind people can change into animals, Sea people can take a water form and Stone people can make their skin as hard as rock. Ka Lem, one of the Wind people, has discovered a terrifying threat. He can no longer take the form of an Elk. Neither can any of the other Wind people. Ka Lem has to travel and consult with the Stone and Sea people to let them know of the threat he believes is out there. Something is killing entire species of animals for their own benefit. What does this mean? And can the threat be stopped before it is too late?

The tension in this book builds slowly, but ever presently. It does give a good sense that something bad is about to happen but there’s not a lot of revelation about what that might be. While I was able to keep track of the heroes of the book, it didn’t give me the best sense of what the villains were and what they might be trying to accomplish. That said, it kept my interest enough that I will definitely be reading the sequels to find out.

I loved the idea of nature under attack being what the threat is in this book. I also appreciated how gender is treated in this book. It’s very fluid and the whole idea of gender is restricting to the Stone people. I found that refreshing, especially in a fantasy setting. To me that’s one of the most fascinating parts of the book.

I did feel like the final conflict was a bit short lived and it left me wishing there were a little more to it, but then again, this is the first in a trilogy, so my guess is there will be more action in the next books.

If you love fantasy, and books where people come together to try and save the world, this one is definitely worth a read.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – #MovieReview

The Psychic Vs. The Revenant

It’s Friday the 13th Round Seven. In this corner we have an undead killing machine, who has survived drowning, burning, chopping, lightning, a crazy mother, and the dancing stylings of Crispin Glover. In the opposite corner we have a woman with a tragic past, a clingy mother, a jerky doctor and telekinesis. Wait what?

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and I have made it through seven of the deadliest slasher films around. Camp Crystal Lake just gets no rest. Jason Voorhees is still out there, this time stronger than ever. But for once, he has a nemesis who has a chance. Heads up, in case you couldn’t have guessed it already but I am going to give out spoilers like they are Halloween candy about Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. You have been fairly warned. Those of you brave enough to have survived the hockey mask wearing, sharp implement bearing, Jason, feel free to trudge on ahead through this review as if you were running through a forest in the dark of night.

This film starts off with yet another clip show of Jason’s greatest kills, and tries to do a decent job of summarizing what you need to know before watching this. I feel like after six previous films, it’s probably okay to just launch into the action but whatever.

Next we see Tina, a little girl who has run out of her house because her mother and father are in an argument. The argument, I should add, sounds physical, at least on the part of the father. Tina goes out on a little boat into Crystal Lake where we last saw Jason chained to a rock. The father comes out to try to get Tina to go back inside but Tina is yelling about the fact that her father hit her mother, and it seems like this wasn’t the first time either. Seconds later, the pier or dock or whatever the guy was standing on collapses and it looks like there is a good chance that happened just because in that moment, Tina wanted it to.

Fast forward a few years and Tina is getting treatment from a doctor for her mental issues. Her mother is encouraging this so that Tina can get over the guilt she feels about her dad. It’s quickly confirmed that Tina totally has psychic powers including telekinesis. A lot of people don’t like this movie because they feel like it’s silly that Tina has these powers. Oh, really? You think it’s silly that she can move stuff with her mind but you can buy into the whole Jason story? I mean, in the first one it’s his mother, okay fine. In the second one, it’s him and for the most of the rest it is him. But this guy dies over and over and he comes back relentlessly, including in one instance being resurrected by a graveyard fence stuck in his chest being struck by lightning. But you are going to say psychic powers are silly? Okay, they are kind of silly, but I didn’t really have a problem with them in this. It equalizes the playing field for Tina and that works for me. Also, they somehow seem to free Jason from the lake in the first place so without Tina, you don’t get the scares of Jason running around in the first place.

Most of the rest of the movie goes on as you would predict. A group of friends is going up the the lake to throw a surprise party for one of them. The birthday boy is stuck on the road because of car trouble and moments later he and the woman with him are straight up murdered by Jason. From there on out, it’s a killing spree with a couple of little twists. In this one, the doctor is really just interested in getting Tina to show off her powers so that’s why he brought her here in the first place. That makes all the deaths in this, except for Tina’s dad, kinda his fault. Don’t worry though, Jason takes care of him too. Tina does meet a guy she thinks is cute and they flirt and of course they end up being the ones to survive. It’s pretty standard Jason fare and overall, this is definitely not the worst of the sequels in my opinion.

I did have a few thoughts though.

  1. Tina kills her abusive father and then spends her whole life regretting it. Never does anyone mention that this dude shouldn’t have hit her mother or that her reaction might be understandable. I’m not saying Tina should have killed anyone, and it certainly was an accident, but maybe she should be allowed to lower the guilt factor a bit here.
  2. At the end of the movie, the thing that finally brings Jason down? Tina’s dad coming up from the bottom of the lake to put chains around his neck. I think this was an almost nod to the first film but it just made me go, wait, what?
  3. Then, after everything is over, Tina tell Nick that it was him who killed Jason. Come on Tina, take a little credit for resurrecting your dad. That was all you.
  4. Car trouble again in Crystal Lake. Slick Dungeon’s repair shop idea is back on baby!
  5. I really wanted someone in the film to warn someone about the legend of Jason in this but that scene never happened. I need my dude warns people away from Crystal Lake scene. Come on, what have sequels come to here?! Also, once again, if any horror directors need a guy who lives in a dungeon to warn people away from that haunted old place in the woods, I am your guy.
  6. This has bothered me for a few of these movies but, how long exactly is Friday the 13th? I mean, this starts in daylight, there is a night that passes, more daylight happens, then Jason goes on his killing spree until the dawn. So, does everyone always drive up on Thursday the 12th? Or is it the moment that Jason wakes up when the 13th begins? All I know for sure is that on Saturday the 14th everyone is going to be talking about how they are never going camping again, thank you very much.
  7. Forget Jason surviving, how has that hockey mask stayed in such good condition for so long?
  8. Every time Jason’s mask has come off, what is underneath it is more grotesque than before but at this point, it’s just getting weird. They leave his mask off for a good portion of the last few minutes and I was just thinking, how long did that makeup take?
  9. I know Jason is a silent killer most of the time but seriously, how does no one ever see him first? I don’t mean just right before he kills you but like, walking around with the bodies he is about to hide in strategic places for the maximum scare. He had to have made some noise when he put that head on a bed. Are people just not paying attention or are all the campers hearing impaired in some way?
  10. How is this place still open in any way? I mean I know that in this one, it’s people’s houses by the lake, not the camp itself but this lake has such a huge body count that I think it would be unethical to allow anyone near it ever.
  11. Also, I am not sure exactly what the motivation is for Jason to kill people any more. I got it in the first four or five films but in this one, it seems to be… because reasons. Is it asking too much to at least have one of these people be a camp counselor or something?
  12. Why does Tina seem to know about Jason when no one, other than the narrator at the beginning (who was not an old man warning people away from that haunted place), ever even mentions him? I mean, the media was probably all over the story so it would be local knowledge but Tina just looks in the lake at one point, see Jason come out and seems to know who he is. She confirms it later when she looks at news articles but how did she know already? Is that part of her psychic stuff? I couldn’t tell.
  13. For my money, although he is harder to kill now, I actually liked these movies better when Jason was closer to human. Can we go back to the legend of “Camp Blood” now please? No but really can we?

What do you like more, the killable, camp blood Jason or the revenant unkillable Jason? Let me know in the comments.

Next time, Jason is going to “Take Manhattan”. Dude, that’s a Muppet thing! And for my money, I don’t think Miss Piggy is going to let Jason come between her and her Kermy so you might as well give up now, Jason.

Psychically yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS Want to see the unstoppable Jason in all his glory fighting the uh, pretty tough Tina? Check it out by clicking the image below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives – #MovieReview

Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives

It only took six films but the kids have finally arrived at camp! Slick Dungeon here to give my hot take on a way old film yet again. This time I am reviewing the sixth film in the Friday the 13th franchise.

This is the third film that centers on the character of Tommy Jarvis in his quest to end Jason. Also, this is the third actor to portray Tommy Jarvis. And this whole film probably could have been titled: Friday the 13th Part VI: Tommy makes an oopsie.

There will be spoilers in this review so go on, watch that old slasher goodness then come back here to enjoy my irreverent and irrefutable take on the movie.

Did you watch? Do you think I care? Hope you like the review though. I am gonna do a quick plot summary then I have a few questions about this movie.

Tommy, who is out of the mental institution, although it’s not real clear if he is supposed to be, is still haunted by images of Jason. What happened to Tommy being the villain in this one? I thought in the last one it was implied that Tommy would be the new Jason? We’re going to just pretend the fifth film did not happen. Well, except for mentioning that Tommy was in a mental institution and all that. Why are we forgetting it? The fans hated, hated, hated the idea of the killer not being Jason anymore. Count me in that number.

So what does Tommy get to do in this instead? Like a complete idiot he goes to dig Jason up to make sure he is dead and then pour gasoline on him and light it up to, you know, make sure that the guy who has been dead for more than five years stays dead. Through a completely farcical set of circumstances, Tommy impales Jason with part of the fence of the graveyard, which then acts as a lightning rod that raises Jason from the dead. Good job Tommy. Now do you see why no one likes you after part IV?

The film plays out the rest of the night with Jason going back to Crystal Lake, (now rebranded Forest Green as if that would help at all) kills tons of people, and is of course stopped in the end, to no doubt return again in a sequel. It’s fairly predictable although now Jason is really an undead creature capable of super human strength and endurance. If he was hard to survive before, it’s next to impossible now.

This film is a needed improvement from the one before, ridiculousness and all, but is by no means the best of the series. It’s worth a watch but it starts to feel silly in this one.

Here are some thoughts and questions I had.

  1. I don’t think lightning works like that. I mean, he wasn’t even hooked up to huge machines before the lightning struck. Jason is no Frankenstein’s monster. I’m not sure I can suspend my disbelief in this film anymore. Oh wait, there he goes ripping a guys heart out of his chest. I guess I’m all in again?
  2. Tommy goes and warns the sheriff that Jason is back. The sheriff doesn’t believe him at all. Also, out of six films, this is the sixth top officer in town, so if you are looking for job stability in Crystal Lake, don’t go into law enforcement. While this is not the old guy warns those teenage kids away scene, it was close and I will take what I can get. For my money, that scene is an absolute necessity in most good horror films. If you are thinking of making a horror film and need a guy to stand outside a store and look at people like they are crazy when they say they are going to “camp blood”, I’m your guy.
  3. Jason now seems super unkillable but Tommy opens like the first three pages of a book on the occult and seems to know that he has to put Jason back to rest where he drowned to stop him. That occult book was super specific. Is Jason coming back from the dead like the number one problem occult books deal with or what?
  4. It’s taken quite a few films but guess what? Kids arrived at camp. I don’t know how it has been that in most of these movies there are no kids at an actual summer camp but they finally made it. Was that the longest bus ride ever or what?
  5. Later in the movie, the kids are checked on multiple times when it seems things are going wrong. They tell the kids everything is okay. Then they tell the kids to hide under the bed. The sheriff goes out to look for Jason. You know what not one single adult here thinks to do? Yeah, that’s right. No one thinks to evacuate the kids immediately! Seriously, there is a deranged killer and bodies are piling up. Whether you believe Jason is a legend or not, isn’t the wise thing to do, to evacuate the kids?!?!? Although, Jason never does kill a kid so I guess, good on you Jason?
  6. This one never had car trouble. Well, one guy has trouble starting an RV because he doesn’t know how but no actual car trouble. Did someone steal my idea of opening an auto repair shop in Crystal Lake? I mean, Forest Green.
  7. The deputy was easily fooled into letting Tommy out of his cell after he had been locked up for suspicion of murder. I think I am starting to see why the cops show up so late to these mass killings. They are terrible at their jobs.
  8. This group of coworkers going on a company retreat of some kind are having a paint ball war when Jason comes and kills them all. Note to self: add one more reason never to go on a company retreat and have a paint ball war.
  9. The people who actually own and run the camp are killed early on by Jason. The woman is smart enough to think they have to leave right away when she sees a guy in a mask. So let me get this straight. The hockey mask freaks you out and you want to leave but the fact that he is holding this huge iron rod with a sharp point is not even worth a mention?!
  10. Even though the people who own the camp have been missing for several hours and the sheriff has a strong suspicion that Tommy could have killed them, the cops keep telling the camp counselors that everything is going to be fine. What?! I mean come on, at least send an officer up there to have a look.
  11. The second the cops do get up to the camp, they all split up to look for Jason. By this time, they know it’s a good possibility he is out there. Why are you splitting up?! Take a buddy with you people! Never split the party. It’s a bad idea.
  12. To lure Jason to his final resting place, Tommy gets in a boat, ties a huge chain around a rock, then calls Jason over to try to stop him from killing someone. As soon as Jason gets over there, Tommy lights the area around the boat on fire with gasoline. I mean it looks cool and all but could someone please explain to me, how in the blue blazes lighting the water on fire is supposed to help?!
  13. We all know Jason is going to come back and this movie has no real twists in it at the end. Am I asking too much from the Friday the 13th movies to want a better last gasp out of them? I mean the first movie has Jason come out of the water, which was a good albeit silly scare. Usually the end is something like that where you are supposed to remain scared. This one? Jason opens his eyes underwater. Whoop-de-doo. Oh no, Jason is going to come back again? Am I supposed to be scared of that? Come on, give us a better stinger here people!

The next one I will be reviewing is called Friday the 13th Part VI: The New Blood. Yeah, I mean who wants the old blood anyway? Just hurry and stock up before it’s all gone in the pandemic.

Frighteningly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: If you want to see Jason come back from the dead to terrorize a camp but kill zero children, check it out below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning – #MovieReview

Friday the 13th Part V is the Halloween Part III of This Series

I hope everyone is staying safe out there. I know a lot of us are trying to keep ourselves entertained. In my little dungeon of films I have been going through the Friday the 13th series and I just watched the fifth one. This was actually the first one I remember watching as a kid and so far out of the series this one to me, is the worst of them. I will go into why I don’t like it but I want to give a warning for spoilers at the top here. I am going to spoil a huge, major, revelation in this review so if you have not seen this and want to, don’t read the whole post. Watch it first and then come back because I am going to spoil it. I will warn you one more time before I give the big spoiler away but just trust me, it’s a big one.

To understand this film you have to know a few things from Part IV. Jason Voorhees, a pretty much unstoppable killing machine went on a spree a few years ago killing tons of people up near Camp Crystal Lake. One of the few people to escape was Tommy Jarvis, played by Corey Feldman in the last one. Tommy actually killed Jason and when he did it, he did it with more enthusiasm than you might find natural in a kid. Although, considering what he had seen that night, it probably wasn’t that much of an overreaction.

We see Tommy, watching a couple people dig up Jason from his grave. That’s not such a smart idea since those two people are dead seconds later. But then Tommy wakes up and it’s years later and he was either having a dream or a flashback memory and it’s not clear if what Tommy saw was real or not. From here on out in the movie Tommy is much older and is played by John Shepherd.

Also, I should note that if you are going to dig up a grave, bring these guys with you, every single time. Every. Single. Time.

Tommy, who is understandably suffering from a pretty heavy case of PTSD, is taken to a halfway house for people with mental illness. For some reason it’s up in a remote area that must be somewhat near Camp Crystal Lake. I assume that’s because Tommy would have been put into the system there and is in the same county from the last movie and that just happens to be where the halfway house is located. At any rate, the locals are aware of Jason and that whole history.

We soon get our first real death right after Tommy gets there and settles in. Is it Jason back for some killing? Nope. And for my money, in the whole series, this is the most messed up kill of all of the series. Not that anyone in these movies deserved to get killed, but in this one, a kid with mental issues that is not very popular is chopped to death with an ax by another resident of the halfway house. This dude is killed for no reason and for nothing that had to do with anything in the first four movies. It is a sudden and surprising death and just sucks for everyone there.

Most of the rest of the film goes how you would expect. A killer is hunting down and killing off people from this halfway house and others in the area one by one. Tommy keeps seeing visions of Jason but he never seems entirely sure if it is Jason or some kind of hallucination. They go throughout the night and most of them die. Finally there is a final confrontation and the killer is stopped. But then…

HUGE SPOILER AHEAD

SERIOUSLY I MEAN IT

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WATCH FIRST

The killer turns out not to be Jason at all. Let me say that again. The killer isn’t even Jason! It’s not even his mother back from the dead. Nope. The killer is just some guy who happened to be the father of the kid who got killed in the beginning. Completely random. See this guy never told anyone this kid was his. But he worked as an ambulance worker and when he came to do his job, found out his kid was the one who got killed. He decided to go on a killing spree to get revenge on everyone at the halfway house.

What?! That’s how I felt when I saw this as a kid and how I feel now. This is like the Halloween III of the series. What do I mean by that? Well, for those who do not know, Halloween III has nothing to do with Michael Myers or the rest of the films. Now, you could argue that Tommy has a connection to it, but let me just restate this. Jason is not the killer in this at all. It feels almost completely pointless.

The only thing that may make this worth it is the fact that at the end, Tommy picks up the hockey mask and grabs a knife, so there’s a good chance we have Tommy the killer now instead of Jason. But that remains to be seen.

While the other films may not have been super creative and they kind of repeat themselves, this one does that, while also not being true to the original at all.

I have thirteen things to point out about this movie.

  1. The plot of this doesn’t work at all. If the guy wants to get revenge on the camp, why not just kill the guy who killed his kid in the first place? I get that he is using Jason’s m/o to cover up his crimes. But if you know anything about Jason you would know that there are instances where he kills a couple people and just leaves. He doesn’t have to go killing everyone. This guy is some kind of idiot to keep going.
  2. Alright, five out of five movies have now had car trouble. As far as I am concerned a Friday the 13th film cannot happen without car trouble. Anyone want to invest in an auto repair shop with me near Camp Crystal Lake?!
  3. Since the killer wasn’t actually Jason we didn’t even get an old guy warns kids away from that place scene. More like a mayor talking about it like it was a legend scene. Come on man, give me the old man warns everyone away scene. I need that scene in order to find this scary at all.
  4. Shouldn’t Tommy have realized it wasn’t Jason when he noticed there wasn’t a huge dent in the hockey mask where an ax had gone through before?
  5. Motorcycle decapitation but we don’t even see it on screen? Just the head rolling? Can I get my VHS rental fee back?
  6. At least Tommy seems like a good fighter and could be prepared for Jason but then when he shoes up (even though it isn’t Jason) why does he stand and stare for so long? I mean go into action man. Or at least run and tell other people to run.
  7. This new guy who isn’t Jason is able to survive some pretty heavy hits. When it’s revealed that it isn’t Jason I find it even less believable that this dude survives getting hit in the stomach with a moving forklift and then gets up and walks around as if he is fine.
  8. I know he died in the last movie but could we get more Crispin Glover dancing in this? That’s all I want in these movies now.
  9. Tommy really doesn’t talk much but I wish he would have given some kind of recap of what happened to him and how he felt about it. That would have improved this film a lot.
  10. Does this even count as a Friday the 13th movie if Jason is not the killer? I mean really? I feel like it shouldn’t.
  11. Oh man there goes Tommy holding a knife. He’s gonna be the killer in the next one isn’t he? Also, if you are trying to help someone get over PTSD maybe it’s not a great idea to have that person get treated right in the area where the traumatic event happened? I mean that’s just my take but I am no mental health professional so who knows.
  12. Can we get Jason back please? For all his faults he is a much better villain than Tommy.
  13. Even if we don’t get Jason back in the next one, can we please get that scene where we warn people away from Camp Crystal Lake? Also, if anyone needs someone to be in a movie and warn people away from a place, I am doing nothing else right now, I volunteer.

Just like Jason will never quite remain dead, I will be back with another review but I feel like we are getting into the dregs of this series. Still, I kind of feel like the other ones won’t annoy me quite as badly as this one does.

Spoilingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Want to see not Jason do some murdering? Click below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter – #MovieReview

Slick Dungeon here to review the very last of the Friday the 13th franchise. Yes, it’s the last one. Definitely no more after this one because it says it right there in the title. This is the final chapter. The only possible way they could make more of these is if they had A New Beginning. Wait, what? There is? It seems for some reason people who made these movies liked money and decided to keep making these even after they promised this one would be the last one. I guess you have more of my reviews to look forward to then don’t you?

Fair warning to readers I am going to spoil this all over the place in the same way that Jason splatters blood everywhere (metaphorically though, I don’t condone actual violence) so if you don’t want to know about a plucky Corey Feldman, the exotic and amazing dance moves of Crispen Glover or where the wine corkscrew actually is, watch the movie first.

Did you watch it? Actually, never mind I don’t care if you watched it, I only care if you enjoy my review. I did warn you though.

This one starts off with what you might consider a three minute best of Jason killing people recap, just so that everyone can quickly get up to speed on how many dead people they didn’t see if they haven’t watched the first three films. This time they do use the campfire story to frame it, but they just use the one from part 2 instead of, you know making it new and original at all.

We finally, finally, see some cops come in to actually clean up the bodies of the dead from the last movie. You know what we don’t see? Anyone even bothering to check for a pulse on anyone. Guess who isn’t gonna be dead? Can you guess? Can you? No, but really can you?

Jason is loaded into an ambulance taken to a hospital and sent to the morgue there where they do stuff like, talk about how hot the dead women are and, put a sandwich on Jason’s feet and then make out with each other. I think I am starting to see why Jason may not like people so much.

As you would expect, Jason gets up after having suffered more wounds than I can count, including an ax to the face. I think it’s safe to say he is essentially immortal at this point in the series.

I’m a little torn between part 2 and this one as being the best of the sequels. On the one hand I think part 2 was more true to the origins and intentions of the first film. On the other hand, this is a much more craftily developed film. It takes enough time for us to get to know a few characters and even gives one of them a good reason to be up in the woods looking for Jason. As if that weren’t enough, we get to see an ever plucky Corey Feldman, not only obsessed with making cool masks but also getting to be the one to end Jason at the finish of the film. If there is one thing that might make this one my favorite of all of the films in the series it is this. Crispn Glover dancing like a maniac. And this was before he was buffing out blind spots for Biff Tanner.

Even if you don’t like this series, part IV belongs in cinematic history for that clip right there.

This film also does a few things more intelligently than the other films. For one, when Jason decides to go on his killing spree, he really does pick them off one by one until the last person in the house starts finding the bodies. And at that point he has strung up the dead bodies so that exiting is much more difficult. I’m starting to think I see where Neegan from The Walking Dead got his ideas. They have a guy who has a sister who was killed by Jason and he is out for revenge. The dude is smart enough to realize that Jason isn’t dead when his body is reported missing and two people from the morgue have disappeared.

However, this film is far from perfect and I still had a few thoughts.

  1. I miss the scene where someone warns those kids away from the place. The just showed the people from the earlier films do that. I need my old man warning me away from stuff scene! Also, any casting agents needing a townie to warn people away in their film, hit me up, I am available.
  2. There is one part where a hitch hiker is killed after standing by Pamela Voorhess’ grave. First off, why is the gravestone that close to the road? It didn’t seem to be a cemetery or anything plus she died at the camp in the lake so if you want to bury her where she died, that wouldn’t be it. Second, why would you stand there to put your thumb out? I mean respect the dead a little. Although she was a psychotic killing machine so maybe she doesn’t deserve so much respect.
  3. Oh look, the kid is getting out of a car to fix it because there is car trouble. That makes four out of four films where cars have some kind of mechanical issue. Learn to maintain your vehicles because you never know when you will need to flee from a psychotic, nearly immortal, knife wielding killer! Also, you should have a full tank in case of any emergency. Note to self: after getting role as townie warning people away, get on that whole opening an auto repair shop near Crystal Lake.
  4. Hey Crispin Glover is looking for the wine corkscrew. I bet that’s gonna end up in his skull. Oh look, he’s still hollering about it. Any second now… Hey, Crispin Glover, bad news, you have a sharp object sticking out of your head. Hey, Crispin Glover, good news, you found the wine corkscrew.
  5. Why does the guy who is plotting revenge on Jason camp so far away from Camp Crystal Lake? I mean does he not know that a bunch of dead people showed up at the cabins, not just out in the woods despite the fact that he has a whole bunch of news articles to refer to?
  6. Woah, the car that didn’t start earlier never actually became an issue at a critical moment in this movie.
  7. I get that Corey Feldman is shaving his head to fool Jason but this doesn’t make much sense to me. Is he supposed to be Jason when he is younger? Why would that stop Jason? It made more sense to me in part 2 where they figure out to impersonate his mother to throw him off but this part just doesn’t work for me.
  8. Okay so Corey Feldman’s older sister in this has realized they are in danger, gone to the house next door to see what is going on, knows Jason is there and has killed people. Then the guy who is out for revenge finds Jason and she sees it. As the guy is literally yelling that Jason is killing him and that she should run, she freaking stares and screams. Why would you not run?! This makes zero sense to me. Just run.
  9. Okay Jason looks pretty dead now and that hockey mask is destroyed. Can this be the end of the series?
  10. Oh, well if Corey Feldman who actually killed Jason is looking into the camera like that at the end, it’s definitely not over. Why call this the final chapter? You know you are gonna make more.
  11. I know his character is dead and all but could we get more of Crispin Glover dancing?
  12. Think anyone will actually make sure Jason is dead this time? Yeah me neither.
  13. Can’t they just shut down the whole Crystal Lake area at this point? Also, no one mentioned it but did this actually take place on Friday the 13th? I feel like we should see a calendar or something so we know for sure.

All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable of the series and is worth watching whether or not you have seen the rest.

Dancingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Want to see Crispin Glover dancing for yourself? Click below!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part 3 – #MovieReview

Jason Found a Hockey Mask

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! Wait, what’s that you say? It’s not Friday the 13th? This month doesn’t even have a Friday the 13th? Well, who can tell anymore. I’ve been in my dungeon so long I have no idea what the day is anymore let alone the date, so I’m just going to go with it’s Friday the 13th okay?

The movie series Friday the 13th is an absolute juggernaut of horror. Jason has been picking off camp counselors since 1980 and it might surprise you to know that he doesn’t even get his iconic hockey mask until the third film. It didn’t surprise me because I have seen all these movies before but that fact surprises a lot of people who are not horror fans.

Fair warning before I go into the review. There will be spoilers so if you haven’t watched this yet, go do it and then come back for the review. Spoiler: Jason kills people. Did you really watch it? Ah, who cares, just read my review. I put a lot of effort into these because… I have nothing else to do…

Anyway, the third film finds another group of people dumb enough to go up near Camp Crystal Lake to spend some time running away from a deranged killer. The film opens a lot like part two did, with a bit of a recap from the previous film. I guess in case anyone forgot what happened the last time. And so that you know that Jason is the killer in this one. In case you weren’t sure. Next he goes on to kill a couple of people who must live sort of near Jason but it’s not really explained who they are or why Jason offs them.

In fact, most of the killing Jason does in this one seems to be more for sport than to follow any plot development from the last two films. This time, the people going up there seem to just be spending a weekend or something up near the camp. They don’t even say they are camp counselors. Still, Jason offs them anyway cause I guess he want to? He then seems to live there or near there until these new people show up to camp for the weekend.

There is actually a little bit of character development in this film. We get the character of Chris Higgins who is a woman who survived an encounter with Jason a couple of years ago. She wasn’t in the previous films or anything, just a random encounter with Jason. Turns out that the actress who survives at the end of the second film didn’t want to come back for the third film so we get what kind of feels like a tacked on extra attack scene. But still, Chris surviving the attack and then coming back and having a second round with Jason is kind of the point. Well, the horror, gore and jumping out of nowhere to try to scare us is the point but you know what I mean.

The plot runs mostly as you would expect. People camp, they walk off without a buddy (take a buddy with you!) then they get killed by Jason. Later other people find those bodies, turn around and get killed by Jason. Then later other people find those bodies, run away from Jason, almost get killed by Jason, don’t get killed by Jason, kill Jason, Jason doesn’t seem to stay dead, he kills some more people, then they kill Jason again and maybe he’s dead?

I had a few thoughts while watching this.

  1. Why is Jason killing these people? They’re not camp counselors. They don’t even say they are. I know this is silly but I want Jason to have a reason to kill these people, since at least in the first two there was one.
  2. Who in their right mind decides to go anywhere near this place anymore? There have been at least five nights of tragic death and terror at this lake. I would think that’s bad enough press that you wouldn’t go camping there any more.
  3. The character who starts off with the hockey mask is a huge jerk. They make this big deal over and over about “what happened to Chris up there” in the years past. Yet this dude fakes his own death to get a laugh and scares everyone as if he was a killer as a prank. Considering the history of this place that is beyond bad taste. Jason, why are you trying to be like this guy?!
  4. That dude is not the only jerky guy in this. As a laugh, Chris’ sort of boyfriend jumps out of nowhere, grabs her by the throat then starts kissing her. Then he has the nerve to ask her what is wrong. Really dude? Really? Wow, out of touch much?
  5. Oh good Jason got rid of the jerks.
  6. There are these motorcycle gang characters in this. All of them end up killed by Jason of course but man oh man, it’s hilarious to see what eighties movies thought tough guys looked like.
  7. The cops in this area are so, so bad. They don’t warn people away, they don’t seem to notice that there is a killer up by this lake, and in three films, we have had three different local cops up there but only after everything happens.
  8. This still has the dude warns everyone away scene but this time, the guy is holding an eyeball. Okay, if I am ever warned away from a place by a guy holding an eyeball, I am not going to dismiss that. In that situation you need to report this to the police and hope they can find out who used to own that eyeball. But nope, these character just keep driving cause, weekend plans. And also the cops suck anyway so why bother?
  9. Note to self: get a job as a guy who warns people away in horror films. Bring eyeball.
  10. I gotta say that Jason really improved his look in this one. The hockey mask is working for him. He should go with that for sure. It’s been a while since I saw the other ones so now I am wondering if he wears the same mask in all the others or does he like need to pick up fresh ones?
  11. Jason took an ax to the face but he’s still walking? Really? Okay, I guess it’s time to totally suspend disbelief now. I can do that. But if there isn’t an ax whole in that hockey mask in the next movie, Jason definitely got a new one.
  12. In three out of three films there is car trouble at a crucial moment. This time it’s because the motorcycle gang stole gas out of the van instead of just battery trouble. Still, these people are terrible at car maintenance. And like, checking if you have gas before driving away.
  13. Note to self: Open auto repair shop near Crystal Lake.

I think I am gonna stop there with 13. See what I did there? Can you blame me? It’s Friday after all. Isn’t it?

Anyway, the next one is called Friday the 14th Part IV: The Final Chapter. That means it’s the last one right? Right?!

Datedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Want to see Jason pick up his iconic mask? Click below and enjoy!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Edge of Darkness – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click HERE.

Cyberpunk fans and fans of far future fiction will enjoy reading this book.

SYNOPSIS

In 2065, corporate sponsored governments jockey for supremacy in the biotechnical arena. Bullets and missiles take a back seat to cyber-enhanced soldiers and pulse weapons. In this extreme environment, only the most hardened body and mind can survive.

Calder McKenna was a failed experiment in the military’s push for power. Now a special agent for the metro task force, he lives day by day trying to forget the ones that were lost… the ones that he could have saved.

When technology and humanity collide, Calder is forced to make desperate decisions, but how do you destroy the monster without becoming one yourself?

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Calder Mckenna is an ex-soldier working as a cop who is still haunted by the actions of his past. His life gets a whole lot more complicated when a mysterious package shows up at his door. While what is in the package might unlock hidden potential inside him, it might also make him into a monster. This story is about his struggle to maintain his humanity while still protecting his partner and those around him.

The book starts off strong and is full of action. The integration of technology and humanity is a consistent theme throughout the book. Calder also starts out as a rather interesting character to me. I found myself wanting to know more about him and why he was the way he was. For most of the book I was excited about it and enjoyed the story. There was at least one relationship that I found a little less believable than others but I won’t go into detail about it to avoid spoilers but otherwise I was intrigued.

I was reminded of things like Altered Carbon or Phillip K. Dick novels as I was reading this. While this is not quite as realized as those worlds, this was still an entertaining read. I liked how these mega corporations are controlling everything from behind the scenes but I never got a great sense of what exactly they were doing or why. It was clear that they were not above board and needed to be stopped, but I feel like that is part of the book that could have been strengthened.

The action is fast and continuously interesting and I found myself rooting for Calder to succeed. There is a lot of action and for this kind of story, I find that a great plus. I enjoy a little bit of philosophy about the way things are but then I am ready to get back to the fight. Edge of Darkness provides a constant stream of intense action with real, high stakes.

For me this just narrowly missed being a four star book, mostly because I felt like some of the scenery and background could have been delved into a little more, and like I said one relationship never quite worked for me.

If you like far future fiction, this is a good one to go with and I will be checking out the sequels.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th Part 2 – #MovieReview

Use the Buddy System People!

Do you need a reason not to go outside and get into a crowd? Here’s one. There could be a deranged killer at that camp you were going to so you’re probably better of staying at home anyway. That’s the lesson of Friday the 13th Part 2. If you ask my opinion, they should have called this Saturday the 14th but no one asked my opinion so too bad I guess.

Fair warning that I am going to spoil some of this movie so if you haven’t watched it yet, get Shudder (you can actually get it free for 30 days right now with the code SHUTIN) and watch up before you read on!

Okay now that you are back I am going to give you a very brief summary of the plot and then I am giving you Slick Dungeon’s camping tips for when we can finally all go camping again.

The film starts off with Alice from the first movie dreaming about her horrible experience. But it might as well have started off with a narrator saying, “Previously on Friday the 13th!” because it’s just a mish-mash of scenes from the first movie. I guess the film makers just couldn’t trust that people hadn’t seen the first one and thought it would be very important to kill a few minutes showing that so that we all could know what happened before. Because see we were so invested in these intriguing characters from the last film that of course we need that update. Can you tell this part annoyed me?

Anyway, pretty soon Alice is dead because the killer shoves a pointy object through her skull, but not before leaving a decapitated head in her fridge. Alice sees the head, realizes it is the head she decapitated in the last film and then bye bye Alice.

We fast forward five years or so and a new group of teens is coming up to the lake to be camp counselors. This time they aren’t counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, just a camp right near that camp, but on the same lake. It’s not the same okay?! If you thought this movie was practically identical to the first one, then why would the camp where all the killing happens be a whole short hike away?!?! Totally new material here I promise.

There is a part where the dude leading the camp tells a scary ghost story about Jason and his mother. If I was making the movie I would have just used that instead of the beginning part that felt tacked on and pointless here. Anyway, the same kind of thing from the first movie happens where a killer, who we mostly know is about to kill because the camera turns to a first person point of view shot, finds and picks off camp counselors one night right before the camp is supposed to open.

I’m not really going to go in how each character dies because that’s the only possible reason to watch these. I will say that the whole decapitated head thing is kind of creepy but they hit a lot of standard horror tropes in this movie. There is the guy warns kids away scene. The guy who warned kids away gets killed scene. The cops come to check stuff out and almost catch the killer but get killed scene. There is the car won’t start early in the movie to set up the fact that it won’t start later at a crucial moment in the movie scene. And like I said in my last post, there is the no one believes the victim scene, which I hate.

I will give away one death here. There is a dude in a wheel chair in this who is clearly the strongest guy there. He crushes everyone at camp at arm wrestling but he dies in a very disappointing way to me. He doesn’t even really get to fight Jason, he just takes a machete to the face. I wanted him to at least arm wrestle the guy. Why not do that since the movie spends so long having the character arm wrestle? Wasted opportunity there.

The night goes on, Jason does more killing, the one character who sort of believes the whole story about Jason is the one to survive but no one is going to believe her. I had some questions though. If it has been five years since that first bloody night, those cops did a terrible job of crime scene clean up if Jason can get that head. Why do these cops suck so much? Also, why is Jason a ghost story here? I would think he would be more of a news story if anything and people should just be like, man these cops suck, let’s investigate why the cops suck so much at their jobs before we open another camp up there where the cops couldn’t protect anyone.

On the whole this movie is still entertaining as a horror exercise and while I suspect it’s the best of the sequels, it’s nowhere near as good as the first one. Why? It’s much less original since it’s just the same story only with the killer being Jason instead of his mother.

On to my tips for camping.

Slick Dungeon’s rules for camping

  1. When you are out camping in the woods, please for the love of God, do not wear teeny tiny shorts from the 1980’s. Do you know how much poison oak and how many tick bites you are going to have to deal with? If someone on the set of these movies didn’t end up with lyme disease I would be shocked.
  2. When you and your buddy go off to look at the creepy camp nearby, tell someone where the heck you are going. I mean, I know it’s forbidden and all but at least tell the other counselors who wouldn’t care so that when you do get killed they don’t have to take forever out in the hot sun searching for your remains on the Saturday after okay?
  3. This one I cannot stress enough. If you go skinny dipping in the middle of the night, take a buddy with you. Yes, you might be embarrassed about being naked in front of someone else but you will be less murdered.
  4. Also, when you ignore my advice and go skinny dipping anyway and one of the jerky guys in camp steals your clothes and you get all mad and demand your shirt back, maybe you should realize that barely counted as a shirt and we didn’t have much left to the imagination in the first place.
  5. Also, when you announce to everyone before you go skinny dipping that you are going for a walk, tell them where you are walking to. AND TAKE A BUDDY.
  6. I mean your buddy is probably going to get killed too once he gets caught in a bear trap but you can leave him there as bait so that you can get away.
  7. But seriously if you go camping at all, like ever, bring a buddy.
  8. If you are the person in charge of one of these places, don’t leave the camp okay? I mean you have been prepping this place for months without all these teenagers and the minute they get here you go into town and leave the camp open for everyone to do whatever they want there and next thing you know you have dead bodies all over your camp. That’s going to drop your summer camp rates from like $1000 per week not including food to $500 per week including food. I mean, you aren’t going to close for good because goodness knows you can’t find a camp cheaper than that and parents are gonna risk it because every other camp is full or more expensive this summer but still. Think about your return on investment! Oh and not getting killed when you finally do come back to the camp.
  9. I saw almost no one drinking water in their hikes, swims, campfires, running for no reason or other physical activity. It gets hot out there and you are at a higher elevation so hydrate or die-drate people! I mean it, if you go camping, bring a freaking water bottle. It’s no fun having to go home early in an ambulance getting pumped full of fluids when you could be up there with your friends trying to survive a deranged murderer instead.
  10. Finally, if you are the townspeople who know that this camp is nicknamed camp blood because it is drenched in the blood of teenage camp counselors, do everyone a favor and make sure to warn people better. Maybe have a sign out there that says murderer danger high/medium/low today so campers can plan well.

Happy Campingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS want to watch this rehashed sequel click below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th – #MovieReview

When Kevin Bacon Can’t Make it Through His Fourth Film We Are All In Trouble

It’s half way to Halloween and I’m not sure if the idea of taking candy from strangers, or getting breathed on by a stranger is more dangerous. What I do know is that on Shudder right now, all the Friday the 13th movies are available. I thought now might be as good a time as any to see if they are worth a re-watch.

I remember liking this series a lot as a kid. I used to go over to my friends houses and have sleep overs where we would watch whatever the latest one was and then shiver under the blankets for the rest of the night. Now that I am a grown Slick Dungeon, I thought it would be fun to see if it has the same sense of fun that it used to. I am guessing not, or not entirely but there are a lot of these so I just started with the first one.

This is a film that has been made, re-made, rebooted, sequel-ed, re-imagined, and outright stolen from and copycatted more times than maybe anything else in horror. When you think about how often this has been done and re-done, you start to think that maybe there is a good reason for that. I’m here to argue that there is.

While I suspect this one is the best of the series, that doesn’t mean it’s the best ever movie, I just think it did what it set out to do. For those of you who have never sat through a Friday the 13th film, and know nothing about the horror genre and have somehow been divorced from pop culture since 1980, fair warning: spoilers follow.

This starts out in Camp Crystal Lake, an idyllic yet remote campground in 1958. A couple of camp counselors go off to ahem.. get to know each other better. While they are in the middle of that, the camera shifts to a first person point of view shot and seconds later one of the camp counselors is drenched in blood, knife sticking out of him, without us knowing why this is happening. The next shot is basically the whole point of the film and eventually the series. The female counselor screams into the camera and it freezes on her frame. I know that everyone says the hockey mask is the icon of this film series, but in this movie at least, I say it’s that shot. The whole point of the film is to have the audience screaming and reacting just like her. I also think the film makers played it smart by not giving us a clue in the beginning as to why there is a killer. The use of the first person camera angle is smart because it’s a really easy way to hide the monster. This is not the first movie to use those ideas but it did put those elements together well in this case.

We next get the warning scene that you see in nearly one hundred percent of horror films. A new camp counselor is just outside of Crystal Lake Campground basically at the town where it’s the point of no return. If you go up to Crystal Lake, you are likely not coming back. In the little diner there, the counselor asks for directions and the old, “crazy guy” in town tells everyone they should stay away from that place. Note to self: when I retire, make sure to find jobs in horror films being the old crazy guy who warns everyone they should stay away from that place.

The reaction of the townsfolk to the warning is what you would expect. This dude is kinda nuts. But on the other hand, bad stuff has happened at this camp over the years so maybe you should stay away. No one ever seems to ask for more information in these cases which would save a lot of lives. Note to self: if you are ever warned away from someplace, just collect my stuff and leave.

We spend virtually no time getting to know any characters and there is absolutely zero character growth or change in this film so it doesn’t matter too much to us who gets picked off and killed or why. But there are enough moments of surprise and shock to keep you interested to find out what happens. The night progresses and everyone is essentially picked off one by one, with the exception of Alice who finds out who the killer is, why the killer does what they do, survives the surprise end and will be the only one who really knows what actually happened that night.

There were a few things that I wondered throughout this though.

  1. In the beginning, the killer is smart and just picks off the counselors one by one and hides the bodies in ways that you might not find them. Why does that change two thirds into the film?
  2. This film is the first in the series so it’s nice to see that they can be stopped with normal human methods, not like supernatural powers or whatever.
  3. I swear if all small towns were like the ones in horror movies, no local police should ever be allowed to be police because they never do their jobs.
  4. How has this killer roamed free since 1958 up to 1980? I mean the police never even say like, that person was never caught or anything here so what are the cops doing?
  5. Don’t hitch hike but if you do, when the guy says you should quit and leave, quit and leave.
  6. Fair warning I am going to give the killer away in the next bullet so if you don’t want to know don’t read further.
  7. I mean it, I am going to say who it is.
  8. Seriously, you have been warned.
  9. Mrs. Voorhees comes out of nowhere to go after Alice but she goes on this long speech about how her kid died in the lake and that she is killing everyone because of that. Why does she only share with Alice? Or better question, why wouldn’t she just keep her mouth shut and off Alice the way she did everyone else, as a surprise that they probably couldn’t get away from?
  10. Also, if you are in a Scream movie you better know that it was Pamela Voorhees not Jason Voorhees killing everyone. Jason only gets to be a voice in the distance and in her head and then some kind of zombie-ish thing to scare Alice at the end.
  11. Kevin Bacon is in this? Checks notes. Yes, that’s Kevin Bacon.
  12. Isn’t Kevin Bacon the great hero who got the sticks out of everyone’s butts according to Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2?
  13. Isn’t Kevin Bacon the guy who warned us about Six Degrees of Separation way before a pandemic happened?
  14. Okay to be fair that was Will Smith, but about Kevin Bacon.
  15. Isn’t Kevin Bacon the guy who was in Flatliners, Tremors, Footloose and Apollo 13?
  16. Kevin Bacon can survive anything right? Including, giant worms, dancing, being adrift in space and being talked about by Will Smith.
  17. Come on Kevin Bacon, make it through this movie.
  18. Is that Kevin Bacon with an arrow through his throat?
  19. Oh man, Kevin Bacon, say it ain’t so!
  20. Yeah Kevin Bacon died in this.
  21. I am calling it now, after this one, this series is dead because they killed Kevin Bacon!
  22. Don’t mess with the Kevin Bacon okay?
  23. Sorry did I just go off on a Kevin Bacon tangent?
  24. Can you blame me though?
  25. Anyway this ends up with the obligatory no one believes the survivor scene. If there was one type of scene I would get rid of in all Hollywood films, it’s this one. Why wouldn’t people believe Alice? She is the only one to survive a huge massacre so like, maybe she knows what she is talking about?

For this one, I definitely think this is worth a re-watch. I will let you know what I think of the others as I continue with the series. I know they can’t be as good because it won’t have Kevin Bacon. But then again maybe they will be better because they can’t kill Kevin Bacon?

Frighteningly Yours,

Slick Dungeon





This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

I’m Geeking Out Over the Comic and RPG Goodness Available Today

DriveThruRPG.com

Hi everyone, Slick Dungeon here and I just saw a bunch of awesome comic and RPG stuff that you can get your hands on for relatively cheap and wanted to share these with you. I’ve listed the deals below in no particular order.

Bloodshot: Definitive Edition

Hardcore comic book fans will be well aware of this but if you don’t know, the Valiant comics universe is one of the most underrated comics universes out there. They have a huge wealth of characters and stories to choose from. One of the most beloved is Bloodshot. Today you can get the Definitive edition, which is the first 14 issues for just $12.49. It’s a great deal and if you haven’t read this, I am envious because you’re in for a great ride. It’s intended for readers 12 and up. No matter whether you think Vin Diesel is the right guy to play him, the Bloodshot comic is well worth a read.

Valiant Universe RPG: Transcendent’s Edge

Once you have read up on the Valiant Universe you might do like I do a lot of times, find yourself itching to play a game set in that universe. Well, good news! If you have $9.99 (discounted today but I’m not sure for how much longer) you can get in on the action. This book is a campaign setting for the Valiant Universe RPG. The summary of it below has me itching to play this. This is a campaign book so it won’t give you the full set of rules BUT it does give some expanded rules and characters to play around with. If you want the rules, though I have good news. It won’t cost you a penny: Valiant Universe RPG Rules

From DriveThruComics – Hidden beneath Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is a massive, secret Project Rising Spirit facility. Powered by unknown energies, it can morph and transform itself at will to keep horrific villians, creatures, and alien entities trapped within, while allowing endless experimentation. But rumors of the facility’s existence and its most prized possession have leaked, and the Valiant Universe’s most powerful organizations—the Harbinger Foundation, the Sect, the Abettors, and many more—are taking an interest. And the world may never be the same…

Dark Astral: Chapbook for Zweihander RPG

If you play Dungeons & Dragons you may be familiar with Zweihander’s Grim & Perilous adventures. It’s still a fantasy setting but it encourages more… morally ambiguous actions than D&D tends too. It’s a really fun setting and I enjoy it as a more sophisticated game when playing with adults. This chapbook is only $9.99 (again discounted today but I am not sure for how long) and is perfect for fans of things like Dune. This is another one I am itching to play and since my buddies and I have extra time on our hands, I’ll be doing it soon. Check out their blurb below. If you need the core rule book this will run you a little more but it’s hours and hours of fun. Check it out here if you need it: Grim & Perilous Core Rule Book

From DrivethruRPG – DARK ASTRAL casts the familiar trappings of ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG through the lens of Biblically-inspired science fantasy. Steeped in superstition and living in the wake of an apocalypse, Characters struggle against the dangers of unknown Eden. Humanity ekes out existence within the crashed flotilla-megalopolis of Outremer. Inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealized take on Dune, mixed with a healthy influence of Xenogears and gritty science fantasy, this chapbook expands your ZWEIHÄNDER game into a whole new world of grim terror. Inside, you’ll find six unique Professions, a host of technological trappings and all-new weapons, gear and mods.

Elder Scrolls Call to Arms

I think I may have saved the best for last here. If you love Skyrim or Oblivion or any of the other Elder Scrolls video games, why not expand that into tabletop war gaming with your friends? Right now for $5 you can get The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Quests. That’s less than a latte would cost you, and you probably can’t go get a latte at the moment anyway so why not use the money for hours of fun? But, even if you don’t want to spend the money on the quests, you can still get right into this RPG for pretty much no money. You can still get the following parts of the game for absolutely nothing: Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Core Rulebook, The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Escape from Helgen, and Elder Scrolls Call to Arms Dice Set Print N Play. The core rulebook has all the rules you need to play, Escape from Helgen is a good beginners guide and gives you some scenarios to get familiar with how to play the tabletop game and the dice set is cool if you just have regular dice to mess around with but want to fancy them up a bit.

In case you want to know more here’s the blurb from DrivethruRPG – The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is a tabletop wargame set against the epic, sprawling backdrop of Tamriel. From the teeming cities of Cyrodiil to the towering mountains of Skyrim, across the ash-plains of Morrowind, and through the steaming swamps of Black Marsh, you must lead your Party of bold warriors on the path to glory. In this game, you must select a mighty champion to lead your Party, surrounding them with heroes and staunch followers. Players can take on quests, unearth magical artifacts, and fight roaming monsters as they do battle against their opponent, using a combination of strength, stealth and magic to win the day. Call to Arms is a simple game to learn, but a challenge to master; your Party can be assembled in an almost endless variety of ways, each unlocking new tactics and abilities with which to test your skill as a commander and challenge your enemies.

Honestly, I don’t usually find this much awesome stuff at once for cheap so I just had to share it with all of you. I hope you found this post helpful and found something to pass the time!

Excitedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Need some dice? You can get them here: Dice Envy

DriveThruRPG.com

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Tusk – #MovieReview

I Am The Walrus? I Guess?

Slick Dungeon here, back to review the second movie on Buzzfeed’s most disturbing movies to watch list – Tusk. You know how there are movies that bring us together and make us think that the world is a better place because artists have a creative outlet and audiences can connect on a human level and the world seems a little better because of it? This is the exact opposite of that. This is the kind of movie that makes you think maybe the whole idea of letting anyone who has the resources put something on film and share it with the world is perhaps a very bad idea.

I write this review as someone who has enjoyed Kevin Smith movies in the past. And this sort of had potential until it dove into the complete weirdness of it. I’ll try to sum this up below.

An arrogant podcaster named Wallace goes to Canada to interview a kid who went viral on an embarrassing video that also caused him to lose a limb. The podcaster apparently used to be a nice guy according to a few flashbacks, prior to the podcast but now is a total jerkwad. So he goes to interview this kid but it turns out that the kid killed himself and Wallace (who will become, yes, a walrus) needs to find a new person to interview. He finds a hand written ad in a bar bathroom and it sounds interesting so he grabs a big gulp and drives two hours to a dude’s house, without telling anyone where he is going or why. Good call? Actually, no it isn’t.

The dude is a psycho obsessed with walruses and tends to make people into a human version of a walrus. Yeah, I am not kidding, that’s the hook here. There’s a good amount of body horror here but it looks so stupid and fake that it’s just weird and it never worked for me at all. While this is all going on, we get to see how Wallace has changed into a jerky person, that his best friend is sleeping with his girlfriend and a seriously bizarre performance from Johnny Depp.

Here are the few bright spots in this film.

  1. Haley Joel Osment acting again
  2. A slight bit of humor in a convenience store (that ultimately leads into a terrible spin-off called Yoga Hosers)
  3. Michael Parks has a great turn as a villain although what he is doing is completely idiotic and nowhere near as frightening as he was in Red State. If you want to watch a decent Kevin Smith horror film, that one is excellent.
  4. The beyond weird performance given by Johnny Depp. I still can’t decide how I feel about it exactly but it was a decidedly unique performance.

And… yeah that’s about it. But I guess if you always wanted to see what a human body stitched together to look like the form of a walrus is, this is really your only choice. I wouldn’t call this film especially disturbing although it tended to be gross with a lot of body horror. But the disturbing thing to me is really how they wasted the potential here. This is pretty much the plot of Misery although the protagonist is not a famous author and the antagonist is obsessed with walruses instead of literature. It could have been so, so, so much better. I feel like Michael Parks is wasted in the ridiculousness of the whole film. He plays it nice and creepy and is able to keep the audience on edge and then he starts talking about walruses reproductive organs and it’s just like, whyyyyyyyyy?!

About a third of this movie is worth watching and the rest is just garbage. I know a lot of people love this movie but I just don’t see it. It’s not bad enough to be good and it’s not even close to good enough to be good. It’s just stupid. Sorry Kevin.

I am not sure what I’ll be reviewing next but man it’s got to be better than this pile of drivel.

Seafaringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Cold Hell – #MovieReview

A First Rate Thriller That Never Lets Up

Slick Dungeon here, streaming to you live from inside of a dull, dusty, dungeon. I know that everyone is saying that The Invisible Man is a fantastic and frightening thriller. I am sure I will get around to seeing it at some point but I watched a truly gripping thriller on Shudder last night and no one had to become invisible in that movie for it to be terrifying.

Cold Hell is a movie about a serial killer in Vienna, Austria. He is targeting Muslim women who have become prostitutes. I’m not going to give away much more of the plot here because I seriously think everyone should just watch this, it’s that good. There is some blood and the violence is brutal and vicious and realistic. But, it’s not overly gore drenched because it simply doesn’t need to be.

If you watch this, here are some things you can look forward to.

  1. A protagonist who is a total bad ass and not someone who just seems like a victim.
  2. The most intense killer in the back seat car chase I have ever seen in my life.
  3. Police who do their jobs and are not stupid, heartless or foolish in the film.
  4. Great acting.
  5. A lot of subtitles to read, but it’s worth it.
  6. An extremely believable reason as to why the serial killer has gone free so long.
  7. Non-stop intensity. That’s not to say that all scenes are action scenes, far from it, but in every frame of this film you feel the weight of it.
  8. A satisfying conclusion to the action. I won’t say if it ends well or not for the heroine but the end was perfect.
  9. A film of reasonable length that still wallops a mean punch. This is only about 90 minutes long so you probably have time to see it.
  10. A reason to keep streaming movies while you are bored at home.

Cold Hell caught me off guard because a lot of what is on Shudder is kind of silly or the third rate trash bin flicks I usually tend to watch. I love those and I am definitely going to keep reviewing them but this one is for anyone who just likes a good thriller. This is riveting and I loved every second of it. Do me a favor and give it a try. If you can stand a little blood, this is totally worth the time.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS: Need shudder? You can get it at the link below:

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This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Satanic Panic – #MovieReview

The First Day at Work Suuuucks

There’s a good chance that if you are reading this you are stuck inside. Maybe you have exhausted all of your Netflix options and need something new to watch. Well if you like horror comedy, Satanic Panic should be right up your alley. It will inject a little laughter and a good amount of blood splatter into your otherwise dull day.

Spoilers follow so be forewarned.

Sam has just been hired to be a pizza delivery girl and is having a rough time on her first day. She’s delayed by people asking weird and ridiculous things of her, like helping move a huge box, and uhh… peeing on someone’s face. The first one she does, the second she wisely refuses to do. Her night gets worse from there.

She gets the chance to go deliver to a wealthy neighborhood and is hoping for some major tips when she gets to the huge house. The dude inside stiffs her and she gets back on her Vespa to go and return to work. Unfortunately she has run out of gas so she can’t start the thing. She tries to go back and ask jerky rich dude for a tip so she can just get home and it seems like she has interrupted some kind of self help meeting. Turns out it was a satanic coven trying to enact a ritual to bring forth a demon and creating chaos in the world. So you know, pretty similar to a self help meeting.

Sam spends the rest of the time running around trying not to, you know, get murdered and stuff. The usual thing happens where she doesn’t believe stuff, then sees people die and starts to believe it and then makes a friend and then they are in this together but the odds are stacked against them and, yeah more people get killed and so on.

I had a few thoughts about this movie.

  • Sam goes into the house she delivers pizza to beg for a tip. But see, she’s already out of gas. Why didn’t she just head towards the gas station, since she would have to walk anyway, and ask people for change along the way? It’s pretty clear that these rich people are non-tipping jerkwads so, maybe don’t expect help from that department.
  • There’s a serious amount of body horror in this but I found it utterly hilarious how the head of the coven, Danica, played by Rebecca Romijn, orders her subordinates around with baking instructions for satanic needs.
  • The premise of this movie seems to be that rich jerky people who are in power stay in power because they are willing to sacrifice their children and harness satanic powers. Checks notes: yep that makes a lot of sense.
  • This coven seems to need Sam because she is a virgin but they all assume that she is, before she confirms it later in the movie. Why wouldn’t she lie to them once it was apparent everyone wants her for a hell ritual?
  • I think Sam goes without actually killing a single person in this movie, even when it would be called for in self defense (there’s one where she was willing to but couldn’t because, er, magic so she’s not unwilling to defend herself). Where can I get some of that plot armor?
  • This movie is surprisingly well acted for such a silly premise. Can we get more like this please?
  • Demon spawn fuzzy bunnies. I am not going to give this away, but yes, demon spawn fuzzy bunnies exist in this movie.
  • Also, if a pizza delivery girl is trying to sell you a rabbit, say no.
  • I love how they keep insulting Sam’s wardrobe in this because she has, “A Wal-Mart bra”. That sounds so much like something a rich jerk would say, it’s kind of awesome.
  • Also, apparently if you are in a rich neighborhood and a babysitter offers you a Coke, say no.
  • If there is anything I have learned from recent horror movies, it’s this: stay out of wealthy, suburban communities. Those people are twisted.
  • Why is it that in every horror movie when someone runs out of gas at the beginning but then has the opportunity to start the vehicle in the end, it always ends up starting that second time? Like, if my car ran out of gas and I waited long enough, as long as someone tried to kill me, is that an automatic fill up? Or is that maybe just some special rewards program at a particular gas station?

Honestly, I kind of enjoyed this movie. It’s no Titanic but it’ll keep you relatively entertained for about ninety minutes and in the world we live in right now, that’s about all I am asking for.

Hope you enjoyed that review. I’ll be back with more later this week.

Tippingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a comission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Want to see for yourself? Click below!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 2

It’s your friendly DM Slick Dungeon, back again with a few tips for preparing to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kids, why playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules.

Haven’t read the rules yet? No problem, we are going to start at the beginning of the rules and talk about the Introduction which includes Worlds of Adventure, a little bit about How to Play and Adventures. I’m going to pull out the key ingredients from those sections that will make gaming with kids fun and easy.

Introduction

The first sentence of the rules says, “The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery.” Notice how they say it’s about storytelling? That’s the emphasis here. A lot of kids will absolutely love sword and sorcery worlds. But not all kids. We’ll get more into this later but if your kids love robots and can’t stand knights of the round table stuff, this game can still be for them. My recommendation here is that whatever your kid is most into, that’s what you want to set your world in. It’s fine if rather than barbarians running around, you have a bunch of ponies making friends with each other. (They do have a different game for that if you want but we’re not talking about that one here) The point is to have fun and tell a story. What stories do your kids love? Those are the stories they will be into. It can be a show they watch, a book they read, or something completely original that you make up based on thoughts in your own head.

The next part of the intro goes into a long description of the surroundings followed by comments made by players about what they want their characters to do. For teens and adults it’s a great description and works well to demonstrate how DM’s and players can go about playing. For kids, it’s way too much description.

Unless you have kids who are really into fine details, describing the location should be relatively brief. You want to point out any important points, especially things where their characters might do something. The clue in this is the player comments. One player wants to look at the gargoyles. The other one is trying to check out the drawbridge. As a dungeon master you probably already know the gargoyles could be more than statues waiting to attack, or whether or not the drawbridge is a trap. If you run D&D with kids and you want to describe a castle that has gargoyles and a bridge that their characters should check out, I would do it like this. “You come up on a big castle. It has a rickety old drawbridge and some creepy looking statues that look like gargoyles. What do you want to do?” That’s going to keep from overloading them with unnecessary detail while also highlighting the things they might have their characters do. And for kids, sometimes they will need more of an A or B option than the open ended what do you do? In this case you might even suggest that some things they could do are, get a closer look at the statues or the bridge. When you start out, I would go with minimalist descriptions. but if your kids get into it, you can definitely make it more as time goes by. Just test it out a bit and see what works for them.

The next part of the intro has the player characters making checks with the dice. Do give your kids the chance to role the dice often. They will likely enjoy the feel and action of rolling, but don’t make it the main focus of the game. The point is the story, so if it’s something that their character can even reasonably do, just let it work. We’ll get more into when and when not to roll dice later in this series of blog posts but my rule of thumb is, if the kid is getting kind of fidgety and could use the distraction of a dice roll, call for one. If not, keep the story going as much as possible, as long as they are contributing.

The next part of the intro talks about the difference between a player and a Dungeon Master. Other than the cool title, the main thing to know is that the DM is the describer of the situation and the decider of the rules. And that’s pretty much it. The players get to be the heroes, you get to provide the world in which they are heroes.

They go on to describe a campaign. I think the easiest comparison is in a television series. An episode of a television series would be a session of game play. That is, it’s a short bit of the story. The campaign is the entire season. And just like some shows can have more than one season, some campaigns can go on longer than others. For now. you don’t need to have a full campaign figured out. What you’ll need most in the coming weeks is a good amount of material for a session. But not yet. For right now, you just need to know the difference between the campaign and the session. So again, one session is an episode and a campaign is a season.

The next thing I want to highlight in this section is vitally important to having a good understanding of the game. “There’s no winning and losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game– at least not the way those terms are usually understood.” Okay so a few things here. Kids can get really black and white and will want to know if they, “won” almost every session. If they had fun, they won. If you had fun, and they had fun, everyone won. Yes, they can win a combat or defeat the big boss of the campaign and they might think of that as winning. If they do, that’s fine. But it’s not like Monopoly. This is cooperative storytelling, not a winner takes all game. If they lose a combat, they can also take that poorly. In that instance you will want to remind the kids that there is no real, “winning” or “losing”. You can even point them to the rule book and show them that is exactly what is printed on the page. This is one of my absolute favorite things about this game. It’s not about beating someone else, it’s about imagining yourself doing incredible things, along with a bunch of other people also imagining themselves do incredible things.

One note I have here about the section on winning and losing. It says that some characters might come to a grisly end and that maybe the rest of the adventurers can revive that character or the player can change to a new one. With kids? Don’t do that. Don’t kill their characters. If they want to change characters, that is totally fine, just figure out a way to incorporate the new character but if you take nothing else from this post, just never, ever, kill a kid’s character. It’s devastating to them. Just don’t tell them that you will never kill their character.

Worlds of Adventure

This section is cool to read but there is really only one key ingredient you need to pull out of it when playing with kids. “The worlds of the Dungeons & Dragons game exist within a vast cosmos called the multiverse… Within this multiverse are an endless variety of worlds.” Did you catch that? You can literally set your D&D world anywhere. Want it to be a fictional place where there is a weakling prince who rides a big cat and transforms himself into a powerful warrior by saying some magic words? You got it. Want your world to take place where there are glittery vampires who are obsessed with one average high school student because of the way she smells? No problem. (I might not recommend that one for kids but whatever floats your boat) Want to set your world where it’s the future and there is a robotic boy hero that flies around a modern city, helping citizens? There is plenty of room for you to do that. Now, you might need to change some of the “monsters” that are available in the simple rules, but you are completely allowed to do that. This really is why I think D&D is an awesome game for kids. There’s not a lot of limitation imposed on it.

Now if you are overwhelmed and you feel like, there is no way you can make all these adjustments and come up with your own world, don’t worry. Also, if you are thinking, but I love the classic D&D stuff, I want my kid to fight a dragon and go in a dungeon, also don’t worry. There are modules put out by Wizards of the Coast that you can use that make it pretty easy to have a story to tell with your kids. You might still need to make some adjustments but you don’t have to start from scratch.

The next part of this section just tells you how to use the rule book so I am not going to go over that. We’ll go through section by section until we have made it through all of them.

How to Play

This section has a lot of good information in it and sums things up nicely. However, it can be a little daunting for someone who has never played before, kids included. I’m going to pull out what I think is important here.

The first part that is really useful is the description of the pattern that is used in game play.

They list it like this.

  1. The DM describes the environment
  2. The players describe what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions

They don’t add lather, rinse, repeat but they might as well have. That’s actually a really good summary of how games should go. Tell the kids where they are. Let them tell you what they want to do. Decide if they can do it. If it’s a maybe, have them roll dice. Decide if the dice rolled high enough for it to happen or not. Narrate what happens. Do it over again.

I don’t have a lot to add here because they pretty much nailed it on the first try, whether you play with kids, adults or someone in between.

They next go over the dice. I did that before so I am just going to say, if you need some dice, check out Dice Envy. They make really good dice.

Next they talk about rolling dice and adding modifiers. This may or may not work for your kid. I’ll get into how I do it later on, but if your kid can’t do addition and subtraction, can’t count past 10 or are very math averse, adding up bonuses, modifiers and penalties can be a real chore and feel like homework. This is a section you may want to minimize as much as possible, and you can still make the game work without a lot of that stuff. As you kid learns more math and understands more of the game, you can add this stuff in.

Here is their description in brief.

  1. Roll the die and add a modifier
  2. Apply circumstantial bonuses and penalties
  3. Compare the results to a target number

In terms of younger kids, you are going to roll the dice, not worry about modifiers, apply bonuses and penalties but as a DM you should be doing that, and compare the results to a target number. That target number is generally going to be what tells you if the player fails or succeeds.

The whole point is to figure out if the player does the thing they are trying to do. So, I feel like the third step here is what is really important, and why we can get away with fewer modifiers.

They then get into Difficulty Class and Armor Class but we’ll talk about those further along the rules. It’s just a way to figure out how tough something to do is.

Advantage and Disadvantage are the next topics. I think this system is great, and really good for kids. Basically, there are some situations where you will have the players roll twice instead of once. If they have advantage, they get to pick the higher number. If they have disadvantage, they have to choose the lower number. It’s also a great way to reinforce counting. This calls for doing it with a D20 but if your kid can only count to 10, I have a really easy solution. Use a D10 instead. They still have the 50/50 shot of succeeding most of the time, although I know, the D20 changes the probability mathematically (depending on the situation), but we’re talking about younger kids here. They just need to know if what they tried to do worked or failed.

The rest of this section leaves you with two rules that you really should know, even if they don’t make total sense right now. Firstly, specific rules beat general rules. I can give you an example here. Generally, players cannot fly. Specifically, if a player has a magic spell that says they can fly, that character can fly, even though others can’t.

The last rule in this section is Round Down. This is pretty straight forward but it comes up more often than you might think. If at any time, you are dividing a number and you come up with a fraction, round down, even if the fraction is greater than one half. It takes some getting used to but if you see a fraction, just round down.

Adventures

This section starts off by talking more about the whole idea of heroes adventuring in a shared story, like those in a television series as mentioned above. They talk about longer and shorter adventures. One rule I have for kids is this, the adventures are short, the heroes are long. That is you can use the same characters as many times as the kids want but keep your session short. Less is more.

Then they talk about the three pillars of adventure.

  1. Exploration
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Combat

Exploration can be really fun for kids but it can get tedious because it sometimes takes a lot of time and description. Like I said above, keep the descriptions brief and expand as needed.

Social Interaction can be really fun. It’s where you get to act as the characters that the kids are talking to. If you are able to ham it up, and be goofy, your kids will loooove this. If you don’t feel like you can do this and it’s embarrassing , that’s okay, every Dungeon Master has felt that way at one time, Matt Mercer included. It’s not strictly necessary for you to ham it up and be silly, but try it and you might find yourself getting really into it.

Combat can be tricky. You need to know what your kid is comfortable with. Some kids are just going to want smash, slash and destroy stuff. If you and your kid are okay with that, no problem go for it. If you need to tone it down, that’s something you will have to work on. There are tricks for this and I’ll get into it when we get to the combat section of the rules. But for now, just know that if you are pretty sure that your kid (or anyone who might be listening in on your session while you are playing) would be horrified to hear that he just chopped off a creature’s head and threw it’s agonized body down a well, don’t describe that. You can always make it more later as they get older.

Combat also has the most rules around it (maybe with the exception of magic) so it’s something you probably are going to need to simplify both for kids and to make yourself a little more sane.

The next section talks about Magic. This is a subject that’s a little too broad to get into here but suffice to say, there are special rules for magic and as the Dungeon Master, what you are going to need to know is what the spell should do. Most of the time the name of the spell gives a clue but not always, so we’ll go over in more depth later. And yes, your magic might actually be, the arc reactor blast that comes out of a super suited chest plate instead of what is written in the rules, but you can still use the same idea of the spells.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and found something or other of value out of it. I’m really excited about the next post I am going to be doing because we are going to make some characters and this is finally, finally, a step where the kids can participate!

Introductorily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Midsommar – #MovieReview

Don’t Drink the Mushroom Tea

I don’t know about you but I have had some extra time on my hands to watch movies. I read a Buzzfeed article that had 25 of the most disturbing movies you could watch and thought, yeah that’s a great way to stay entertained so here is my review of film number 1.

Midsommar is one that I meant to get around to but didn’t watch until today. I kept hearing really good things about it and wanted to check it out. It’s pretty much every bit as creepy as I heard. Spoilers are below, you have been warned

The movie starts off very dark. I mean that literally and figuratively. The first scenes show a darkened house with lights out in the dead of night. The tone doesn’t really lighten up either. The story revolves around Dani who starts off anxious and worried about her sister who has bipolar disorder. Dani calls her frat bro boyfriend worried and he dismisses her fears in a way that I frankly thought was disgusting. When people are anxious and worried, they should be listened to, not dismissed, especially when there’s evidence that shows the thing they are worried about might have happened. Turns out, Dani was right to worry and her jerk boyfriend Christian wasn’t helping things either. Dani’s sister killed herself and her parents in that dark house I was talking about.

That’s just as devastating a tragedy as I can think of and I don’t think Christian is helpful in the situation either. He’s not a total jerk but he really doesn’t want to be in the relationship with Dani and basically hangs around because it seems like an even more jerk move to break up with her.

Anyway, while Dani is starting to get over her grief, she goes to a party with Christian and he drops this bomb on her when he tells his friends he is planning on going to Sweden with them. Dani is upset, jealous and a bit angry. But she is also very apologetic to Christian about feeling that way. Dani decides not to break up with the guy but to go to Sweden with everyone. Bad call Dani.

The lighting of the film changes dramatically from there. It’s pretty much bright day from there on out. This is not the most gore-filled movie you’ll ever see and there’s not a bunch of quick jump cuts to scare you but the tone of this movie will stay with you if you watch it.

You get the sense right away when Dani is offered some drugs in the form of mushroom tea and she is uncomfortable with it, what with, you know, grieving and all that there is something wrong here. For a while it seems like maybe only the bad things are in Dani’s head but the rituals that are going on in this quiet Swedish town take a dark turn quickly. For the first half of the movie it’s a slow churning build up to what might happen and it just grips you right to the end.

The action really starts going when during a part of this festival two people literally jump to their deaths intentionally as part of it. All of the Americans and Londoners watching recoil in abject horror at what happens. From there, the non-Swedish characters are killed off in different ways one by one. I am not going to give any of that away, but it was devastating to watch. By the end you will find yourself both sympathizing and horrified with Dani and her actions. It’s a wild ride, done in super bright daylight and yet it still never loses the edge of horror that you want in a scary movie.

If you like horror and can stand a little gore, this one is well worth checking out.

Brightly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Horror Fans: Get a 500+ Page RPG Book for Free today 3/20!

Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to let you guys know about a really good deal on DriveThruRPG.com. Just a note though, this one is not for kids so if you have been reading my posts about playing role playing games with kids, this one is not for them. It’s too good of a deal for me not to tell you about though.

Wraith is a horror RPG where you start off as a ghost or undead who cannot rest. There is no heaven or hell for these creatures, just the Underworld where you start, the Oblivion below and Transcendence above. It sounds like a really cool game and perfect for anyone looking for something a little darker to play. While I haven’t played this edition personally, the publisher Onyx Path Publishing is responsible for the excellent and always evolving Vampire: The Masquerade which I have played and always have a good time with. You can get the 571 page PDF for nothing right now. It’s normally $29.99 and looks like it is full of rich, moody art that is absolutely perfect for any horror fan out there.

Wraith is free today 3/20 only. If you haven’t grabbed a copy and you need something to do once you have screened everything you can on Shudder, pick this up, find a few friends to video chat with and whip up some ghostly, ghouls and otherwise undead and unleash the adventure in the Underworld. I know what I’ll be doing tonight.

Eerily yours,

Slick Dungeon

P.S. Need a full set of awesome gaming dice? Check out Skull Splitter!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a comission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

To Be Taught If Fortunate – #BookReview

Hello out there in cyberspace. Slick Dungeon here and I just read a book about outer space that I want to share with you. I enjoyed this one a lot and I will be doing a little review. There will be some spoilers but I will not give away the whole plot here. You’ve been warned if you want everything in the book to be a surprise.

To Be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers is a hard science fiction novella that had me interested cover to cover. It follows the adventures of four astronauts in the far future who have been sent from Earth to explore a few planets and their ecosystems in the interests of science and humanity. Ariadne, Chikondi, Elena and Jack have all been tasked to take scientific recordings, samples, etc. and sent back to Earth for study.

The book is full of beautiful descriptions of new species, the harsh realities of space exploration and the breakdown of difficult scientific ideas into understandable concepts. The characters are very well developed for such a short book. I was pretty gripped throughout, whether it was the personal struggles of the space explorers or the underlying question of the book; should we seek knowledge just for the sake of curiosity?

Those of you out there who are space nerds will probably know that the title is taken from a small snippet of a quote on the golden record on the Voyager space craft. This book takes the idea that we ought to be curious, that we need to find more out about the universe around us seriously. That can be said for a lot of science fiction and especially hard science fiction books. Where I think this one is different is that it also asks if our curiosity does harm. Are we hurting foreign species we might encounter in space? Are we able to minimize that? And if we can minimize it, is that really enough? Should humanity care about space exploration if there are problems on the ground right here on Earth?

What I love about this book is that it does not provide hard and fast answers to those questions. We follow along as the astronauts go to different environments, with different challenges both for the astronauts and the species (or lack of species) on each planet they touch down on. It isn’t a silly novel where there are a ton of bipedal humanoid species. No, the species they encounter might be microscopic or look somewhat like rats but have truly nothing in common with the earthbound creatures we think of. And it’s very well described.

Maybe the one thing I would change about the book is the ending. I feel like it could have been more conclusive. On the other hand, that may have been the whole point. The book doesn’t give us answers to a lot of important questions, but it dares to ask them. So maybe the end is made that way too. So that we have to form our own opinions and ideas of not only what the right thing to do is when it comes to science, but also how our heroes end up in the long run.

If you’re looking for an entertaining, deep, yet short read, and you have any interest in space exploration at all, I highly recommend To Be Taught If Fortunate.

If you’ve read this, let me know what you thought about it in the comments.

Space-ily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Leprechaun 3 – #MovieReview

Stay Out of Nevada

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I know, we were all hoping to go out to pubs, restaurants and parades but this year, it’s not a great plan. You know what else wasn’t well planned? Leprechaun 3.

Since you are likely stuck at home anyway, why not take advantage and watch some silly horror movies? A Leprechaun marathon might be the way to go. I’ve reviewed a couple of the others of these and I will keep going through the franchise but today, I am going to tell you about the third film in the series.

Okay, so follow me here because this plot is uh… weird. So remember the first two Leprechaun movies? Yeah, forget those because this one is all different. This champion of a film has a whopping 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, that’s what a work of cinematic genius this is. It’s nearly impossible to be that low rated and be a movie that was actually made, so that’s one thing they can brag about. To be fair I think it was only released on video but it still earns that 0% rating for sure.

This time our story revolves around Scott and Tammy. Tammy is an assistant magician in Las Vegas who works for Fazio, the least impressive magician ever. Scott is some young dude who sees Tammy’s car broken down on the street and fixes it. For this reason they will go through a bunch of trauma and fall in love by the end of the movie.

Oh hey, spoilers by the way.

Anyway, for no reason that I can figure out, this guy shows up in a pawn shop with the Leprechaun from the previous two films. Only this time, the Leprechaun is stone and has a medallion around his neck. The guy who pawns the statue says it is a good luck charm and not to touch the medallion. Pawn shop owner then immediately touches the medallion. Good job horror film fodder!

The Leprechaun awakens and wreaks some havoc but we learn that he can be stopped by the medallion and that if you get the Leprechaun’s gold you get one wish for every one of his hundred shillings. Also, that the Leprechaun’s weakness is his gold. I mean, in the first movie it was a four leaf clover and in the second movie it was iron, but we are forgetting those okay? Those never happened.

Meanwhile Scott gives Tammy a ride to Vegas where she works at a casino called The Lucky Shamrock. See what the film makers did there? Yep, they snuck in a reference to something related to the Leprechaun. Checks notes: yep, very clever of them. Very clever.

Anyway apparently Scott is not old enough to gamble and Tammy tells him not to gamble and then he says he really wants to see the casino and then she is like okay, just don’t gamble. He goes and immediately gambles. And loses everything he had. Way to go horror movie hero!

Scott then needs to go pawn his watch to stay in the game. The game by the way was rigged by the casino worker there so Scott had no chance either way. Scott finds the very murdered body of the pawn shop owner, calls the cop and flees the scene but not before he picks up… you guessed it, a gold shilling. He wishes that he was winning at the casino and boom, there he goes off an running.

The movie ensues with the Leprechaun hunting down and getting all murdery on a bunch of people in various ways, some of whom totally deserve it, including the casino owner, Fazio and the casino worker rigging the game.

I won’t give away how the Leprechaun does the deed on those people but, I had a few thoughts about this movie.

  • Why do they keep changing this guy’s powers and weaknesses. Okay, okay I know some people will tell me, the actual Leprechaun in this movie is different from the Leprechaun in some of the other Leprechaun movies, despite the fact that he is played by the same actor. Nope, that doesn’t fly because in the last movie the Leprechaun was allergic to wrought iron but that isn’t even thought of in this one, so nope. Also, why are we wasting time arguing about a fictional Leprechaun in a bad horror comedy franchise again?
  • Even if the powers and weaknesses had been consistent between movies, they sure are not in this movie. The most awesomely weird part of this film can be summarized in one ridiculous word. Were-leprechaun! Yep, that’s right, Scott is literally bitten by the Leprechaun and starts to turn into one himself. On the one hand this is bad because, you know, he has to be a Leprechaun now, but on the other hand it is good because Scott can very conveniently find the pot of gold that can destroy the leprechaun but on the third hand (?) it’s bad because now Scott, really, really wants that gold. But the Leprechaun literally bites like three other people in this movie and even more in previous movies so why is Scott the only one who starts to turn into a Leprechaun? This movie about a fictional creature who randomly murders people for stealing his gold is totally unbelievable now…
  • This has happened both in the first and third movies of this series but, is it realistic that the lead couple will meet for the first time, spend a horrible night running away from a killer Leprechaun and fall in love by the end of the movie? I mean, I get that shared traumatic experiences bring people together but… from a killer Leprechaun? Also, how are these people not institutionalized for telling their meet cute story to anyone, ever?
  • Note to self, if stuck in Leprechaun movie, make sure to be one half of the lead couple as so far they have a 100% not getting dead rate in this franchise.
  • There are a couple of thug characters in this movie who do some silly dialogue with each other that I think is supposed to be comic relief. Uh, did the film makers think we needed a break from the serious drama that they had unfolding before us? Because if so, they were mistaken.
  • The Leprechaun uses some hypnotic powers on people and why doesn’t he do that all the time? I mean really, every time he does that he kills the person. So, Leprechaun my dude, just keep doing that.
  • This is the third film in the franchise but I still haven’t figure out, is the Leprechaun required to speak in limericks or does he just really like to? I mean he does say things that aren’t limericks but a lot of times he does. Is that a compulsion or something? Also, why has no one challenged this guy to a rhyme off?
  • Speaking of things that make no sense, why was this located in Las Vegas? I mean I get that there are people there gambling and there would be gold involved but a Leprechaun still just doesn’t make a lot of sense there.
  • Also, what’s the deal with the guy who brought the Leprechaun to the pawn shop? How did he get the Leprechaun and why? And then who thinks, I have a cemented deadly Leprechaun frozen by a medallion, you know what I am going to pawn it? That’s pretty far down the list of good ideas here.
  • But still the Leprechaun is a little murder machine and it’s kind of entertaining to watch so, I’ll go with it.

These movies are getting a little exhausting so I might take a break and review something else in between but I promise in the long run to review every single one of these suckers. I think I may have to forget about the previous ones each time I watch a new one though, if the trend continues.

Still, if you need some humor and you are a horror fan, you might as well watch these movies, it’s something to do while you are stuck inside anyway.

Luckily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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P.S. Want to stream this immediately? Click below.

6 Role Playing Games for Kids You Can Get Right Now for Under 10 Bucks

Hi everyone. Right now there a lot of families stuck at home looking for something to do. You can play Monopoly for the millionth time, you can watch television, you can read but it’s all getting rather routine. So what’s something you can do instead? It’s an excellent time to try some kid appropriate Role Playing Games. I have listed below several that I think are great fun and great for kids.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a comission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Hero Kids Fantasy RPG

This is a fantasy based RPG that only uses two 6 sided dice. It has simple mechanics and has heroes for both boys and girls to play. It only takes about 30-60 minutes to play so kids are not too likely to get bored. The ages are for 4-10 year olds so if you have young kids, this is a great way to get them introduced to fantasy role playing. And this includes a pre-written adventure called Basement O Rats (I love that title) to get you started right away.

All you need is the PDF version and a set of six sided dice to play. For the PDF it’s $5.99 but if you want to get the whole thing, PDF, Soft cover and Black and White book it’s discounted right now at $11.99. It’s a great investment if you have young kids.

Amazing Tales, Complete Kid’s RPG

The neat thing about this game is that if you purchase it, it comes with four sample settings to place your games in. This doesn’t come with a complete pre-written adventure though, so although it has a lot of great stuff in it, you will have to make up a story for it to work. It’s easy to learn, but requires a little bit of pre-planning before you jump right into it with your kids, so read through first. They give you story seeds to get the idea going and you can just take it from there. It’s pretty imaginative so young kids tend to like this one a lot.

Again for this all you need is one 6 sided die and the PDF. However, they do recommend using a set with one 6 sided die, one 8 sided die, one 10 sided die and one 12 sided die for the best play. You can get the PDF for $5.95. The full set is a bit more expensive at $26.45 so I would recommend getting the PDF first and see how your kids like it before you go all out on the full set.

Maze Rats

I almost want to say this one is more for parents than kids, but kids will like this too. It’s a little more complicated than the above options though, so I would say in the 9 or older range. It’s basically a condensed version of an older set of D&D rules but very easy to read through and follow along, with a bunch of great tables to roll on for characters, magic etc. This is just the rule set though, so it does not contain an adventure to play. You will need to use the rules here to make one up or buy one of the adventures for it.

This only comes in PDF from and is priced at $2.99, so buying and adventure to go with it is not too much of a blow to the wallet.

The Alchemist’s Repose

I couldn’t leave you hanging on Maze Rats when there is a really good, easy to use one page dungeon you can get to go along with it. Plus it has fungal elves, programmable robotic guardians and alchemy gone awry. Kids love that kind of stuff. (And so do I). It’s really accessible and quick to figure out, although there are lots of problems to solve and you don’t necessarily have to just do endless combat. Although that’s fun too!

This one only runs you $1.50 so definitely worth the price of admission.

Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures

The great part of this one is that you basically roll on tables to create the characters and to make up the scenario of the adventure, so there is virtually no prep work. Although, like with any game system, I definitely recommend reading it before playing with your kids. There’s a ton of supplemental stuff you can get for this game if it turns out you love it but you just need the basics and a set of gaming dice to get going on this one. Again, this is probably for kids who are at least 9 or so since there is a bit of reading required here. It’s good for older kids and adults too though, so it will last you a good long time.

This one is on the pricier side of this list but totally worth it at $7.99 This one is a zip file rather than just one PDF though, so make sure you have a way to open it before spending the money.

Deadball: Baseball with Dice

My Grandfather used to call any time with no sports on, “the void”. He was a huge baseball fan. Deadball is going to be great for any kids who love baseball and are totally bummed out by the fact that there is no spring training going on right now. Obviously, you need to know a few things about baseball for this to be any fun. If you understand basic stats like batting average and ERA. If you are a baseball fan, that’s no problem but even if you are not, you can still play this game by reading through the rules. And the rules allow you to be any team in history, made up of any players you want. Or you can roll for your own team to make this work. It does require a set of RPG dice and it has basic and more advanced rules, depending on how you want to play.

The suggested price for this is $10.00 but it is a pay what you want so you can get it for less or more. Personally, I think it’s worth the $10 but only if you are a baseball fan.

If you want to get any of these, just click on the images above. or if you want to search for your own, click on the banner below.

If you try any of these games out, I’d love to know how they went. Have any other favorites I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Gamely yours,

Slick Dungeon

Superheroes - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

A Pizza to Die For – #BookReview

Take the Pizza Leave the Mystery

Have you been stuck inside for days with nothing to do but read or watch movies? Me too. Although, I live alone in a dungeon so it makes sense. Slick Dungeon here with a cozy mystery book review for you in your time of boredom.

A Pizza to Die For by Chris Cavendar is one in a series of cozy mysteries that take place in or around a pizza shop in Timber Ridge, North Carolina. It’s about a pair of sisters, Eleanor and Maddy who run the place called, A Slice of Delight. I’m going to give you a little plot summary but then I had some issues with the whole thing so I am going to rant about that for a while.

If you just want a nice, tidy, mystery, there are definitely worse you could read out there. If you want a nice, tidy, mystery that constantly makes you wish you were eating pizza because they say the word every other sentence, this is absolutely the book for you. I think I gained weight just by reading it to be honest.

The story goes like this. A new pizza place is about to open. The restaurant is called Italia’s and not only will it have a fancy, dancy, high-falutin, wood fire oven, there’s a chef there that will toss the pizza dough in the air right in front your very own face. Maddy and Eleanor are none too pleased with this and so she and her crew go to see the dude opening it up. His name is Judson Sizemore and they basically threaten him to, you know, not open the place, but after he was a jerk to them, so apparently that’s all okay behavior.

I bet you see this coming. Judson ends up dead. Eleanor and Maddy are suspects of course, so they attempt to clear their names by solving the mystery. In case you actually want to read this, I am not going to give away who does it but there are spoilers that follow so you have been warned.

Here are some thoughts I had along the way.

  • At one point this book has the required “get off my lawn” scene where they go to try to talk to one of the suspects and he pulls out a shotgun and says he will shoot Maddy and Eleanor if they don’t leave. So many mysteries have this but this one to me was exceedingly ridiculous. The guy threatens to shoot them for, you know, walking up to his door, but then how is he talked down? Eleanor tells him she also has a house that is a bungalow house, like the one he owns. Oh. Okay. Yeah I was willing to blow your face off two seconds ago but IF you happen to own a home LIKE mine, then that’s all good, no problem, let’s be best friends. Give me a break (so I can grab a slice of pizza).
  • I know this book was written a while ago and takes place far away from Chicago but these people in this town seem to feel like you have to have some kind of magical ability to make Chicago style pizza. They go on about this for pages. Pages I tell you. And you know what? Now I need me some deep dish!
  • So Eleanor and Maddy think what they have to do is figure out who did the killing at Italia’s the night Judson dies. Guess who they never talk to even once? Yeah, everyone that was working there. Nope, none of them could possibly be suspects despite the fact that Judson in his few scenes where he is alive seems like a total jerk. Great detective work.
  • Speaking of detective work. This town has a Chief of Police who warns Eleanor away from doing her own little investigation and other than that pretty much shows up on occasion to order pizza or do some dishes in the back with Eleanor. The Chief, Kevin, has history with Eleanor because they went to the same high school. But he does no real investigating of this whole situation other than to basically ask Eleanor where she was on the night of the murder. I swear I have never read a cozy mystery where the police department ever does a good job. How are the tax payers okay with paying you Kevin? Huh? Come on, man, the Timber Ridge residents deserve better from you!
  • Also, I have made this statement in other reviews about mysteries but how is a pair of civilians going around and bullying people into confessing to them, not to the police in any way, going to help in court? I am pretty sure a lawyer who is worth a dime is going to get that case tossed in seconds flat.
  • Speaking of crappy lawyers. There is a lawyer in this who is dating Maddy, named Bob Lemon. Well, Bob Lemon does the smart thing exactly once. He tells Maddy that she should not go investigating other people for a murder she might be a suspect for. She jumps all over him for it and pretty much puts him in the doghouse for it for a good chunk of the book. And he apologizes for it! I mean, the dude is a lawyer and the first rule of good lawyering is to get your dumb client who is going around looking very suspicious to you know, shut up. If I was Bob Lemon I would not have apologized. I would have demanded my hourly rate of $100 an hour for that one bit of advice and left Maddy to make her own dang mess.
  • The suspects in this book never looked like they had that much guilt or motive or even opportunity to do this crime but why would they confess anything to Eleanor and Maddy? They do have a friend that seems to intimidate people because he must be into some criminal stuff but that doesn’t seem like enough for someone who committed murder to just be like, oh yeah, I am gonna confess every dark secret of mine to you.
  • Also, as I said I won’t give away who did it but like in every one of these stories, why would the killer actually confess in the last part of the book? They had every opportunity to you know, shut up and just kill the people confronting them. All I can think is that person must also be dating and ignoring a lawyer who gave good advice and then apologized for it.
  • This book even has the prerequisite relationship with a criminal and the protaganist (in this case a pizza maker) that makes no sense at all. I mean, this may have come about in previous books but how many small shop pizza owners are like, yeah let me hang out with a mobster? I could almost buy it if the protagonist were crooked or, like in law enforcement but just a pizza shop owner? Really?
  • Speaking of crimes. In several sections of the book they mention that the local health inspector is away on a honeymoon. Well, it’s a good thing because the kitchen in A Slice of Delight seems to be like Grand Central Station. (Well Grand Central Station a few weeks ago). Everyone shows up there to ask Eleanor stuff, tell Eleanor stuff, and do this dishes with Eleanor. I mean, are there no rules about this sort of thing? She doesn’t even tell anyone to put on a hair net or gloves or anything. It made me want pizza less and that is nearly impossible.
  • There is one thing that I can say for this series though. Their pun game is strong. This one is A Pizza to Die for but they have a bunch of other books with titles like, A Slice of Murder and Rest in Pizza. I wholeheartedly approve. I am gonna murder that slice of pizza to die for and go rest in the remains of it now.

Man that book and review made me really want pizza. Think anyone will deliver to a monster filled dungeon out in the middle of nowhere in thirty minutes or less?

Hungrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

P.S. Hungry for more murder pizza? Check out this series here!

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 1

Hello again, it’s me your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon. Today I want to talk to you about how to prepare yourself to DM with kids. Don’t know what a Dungeon Master is? No idea how to play this with kids? Not to worry, I have some tips and advice for you.

A couple things before we get started. These posts will be for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. If you are new to the game that might not mean much to you but it’s important to know that there are different editions and that they have different rule sets. Fifth edition is especially flexible for kids because you can be a total beginner and pick it up pretty quickly. Most of the emphasis is on the narrative rather than number crunching so it’s better for kids in my opinion. Also, it’s the current edition that is out everywhere and is super popular with the masses right now.

First. let me start by saying that if you already know how to play Dungeons & Dragons and have been DMing for years, bear with me, this is going to look pretty familiar. However, I may have some tips for doing this with kids that you haven’t considered so it might be worth a read anyway. I am going to give you a few steps on how to prepare yourself. This will take some effort on your part but you can do it.

Know what Dungeons & Dragons is and is not

Dungeons & Dragons, aka DnD is a tabletop role playing game. It’s a shared narrative story where one person, the Dungeon Master, narrates the circumstances and referees how the game plays out based on a set of rules. It’s not a video game. It’s not story time (it’s a shared story where everyone participates). It’s not something every kid is going to want to do either. My first and most important bit of advice is this, never make a kid play Dungeons & Dragons if they don’t want to.

There are some adults out there who love role playing, or just want their kids to get in on this fad that all their other friends are playing. While I think most kids will love this game, given the opportunity to play it, if they are forced to when they don’t want to, they are going to walk away in frustration and no one is happy. And this is important, this includes in the middle of a session.

Nothing will frustrate a kid more than when they get bored with something and an adult forces them to carry on anyway. By that point you have lost them. And then you, as the adult are also frustrated and want to give the whole thing up, thinking that this kid is never going to be into this. That might be true. But you might just need to wait a few years after you blow it to try again. My advice? Less is more with kids. Leave them wanting a little more if you can, but don’t get upset if they decide they are done for now. Don’t take it personally and just give it some time.

Most of us who play Role Playing games understand what is called, “The Social Contract.” This is basically an agreement that everyone who is at the table to play is there because they want to be there. And that they will participate and, you know, not be jerks while playing. This is pretty easy for teens and adults to understand and if someone violates the social contract, everyone at the table knows it. With kids, especially young kids, this is different. I’ll go over how to set a social contract with kids in a later post but for now, remember this, if it doesn’t go great the first time, or the kid gets bored and leaves, you still have a good shot at bringing them back for more. If you force a kid to stay when they are over it, you are done and good luck getting that kid to come back again.

Know who does what at the table

Experienced Dungeon Masters, you know how this goes. For all you noobs out there, the people at the table are pretty straight forward. The Dungeon Master leads the game, knows the basic outline of the story and makes judgement calls based on what the characters are doing. The DM also controls the Non-player Characters (NPCs). Basically anyone the players meet that are not each other.

The rest of the people at the table are Player Characters. They get to invent and pretend to be the heroes of the story. Most kids are going to enjoy this role waaaay more than being a Dungeon Master. That’s not to say that there are not great kid DM’s out there, it’s just that most kids want to be in the action, doing the thing, rather than be the one looking up rules.

If a kid really wants to be the Dungeon Master, you might consider doing a short session with them where you basically DM together. Let them roll the dice, let them make some decisions but you are the one driving the story. If they love doing that and want to take over more from there, just help them along the way, depending on the age of the kid. The older the kid, the more likely they can handle actually being the Dungeon Master. Personally, I would say for the most part until kids are around 12, let them be the players.

Know the dice

Okay, really experienced game players are going to think this one is silly but we all had to learn this at some point. I am going to go over the dice, pictures and all just so you know what they are. You may or may not use all these dice depending on two things. 1. The age of the kid and how high they can count. and 2. What their characters are. You as the DM will probably use most of the dice at some point but there’s a couple that really are more important than others. I am going to show you the dice, lowest to highest. Basically, in the rules you will read that a situation calls for something like 2D6 + 2. What that means is that they want you to take two six sided dice, (you know like in Monopoly) and roll them. Then take the total and add 2 to it. But, kids don’t necessarily know which die is which. So here it is in pictures. Also, just a tip so pro-gamers don’t jump down your throat, the singular of dice is die. So if you are rolling 1D4, you are rolling a die, not a dice. People will call you out if you say it wrong, so teach your kids early.

D4

Top Read D4
Bottom Read D4

The above are D4’s. They are four sided dice shaped like pyramids. The tricky part about these is you can have either top read or bottom read D4’s. I gave you an example of each. Do you need to know which is which? Not really. Here’s what you need to know, can you read the number as it would be printed on a page? If so, that’s your result. This die is usually used to determine damage for the smallest weapons in the game.

D6

The D6 hardly needs an introduction. You’ve used this kind of die before in almost any normal board game that uses dice. This one is used for determining damage done by spells and weapons.

D8

The D8 can be read by seeing what number lies flat on the top. Kids will mistake this sometimes for the D4 or the D10. This die is used for determining damage, depending on the kind of weapon or spell involved.

D10

Again you read this die by seeing what number lands flat on the top. Depending on how good your kid is at counting, this might be your big die to use most often. Experienced gamers will use the D20 as the most commonly rolled die BUT if you kid can’t count that high, stop here. I’ll show you how to adjust your game to use nothing higher than a D10 in a future post. In most games this will determine damage done from specific weapons. But if your kid still needs to learn to do some counting, this is also going to operate along the lines of what the D20 die does.

D12

The D12 is mostly used for battle damage. Any barbarian in the game will LOVE this die because they use it all the time. Like the others you read it by seeing which number lands flat face up.

D20

The D20 is any table top role players favorite and most hated die. Why? Everything good or bad in the game comes down to how well this sucker rolls. Again you know what the result is by seeing the number that is flat on the top. This determines everything from who goes first in combat, if you can succeed dodging a falling rock, to dealing damage to a sworn foe. It can sometimes be used in mundane situations too, like finding out how many potions a merchant has on stock to buy. It’s the essential die in the game and it does help if your kid can count to 20. If not, we can still use the D10 for that but it’s going to take some adjustment.

Percentile Dice

Percentile dice are sometimes called for in the rules. You don’t have to have ones like the ones pictured above. In the ones above there is one, the one that has two digit figures on it that you use for the tens spot and one that only has single digits that you use for the ones spot. You can use two D10s instead as long as you know which one is going to be for the tens spot and which one for the ones spot, and don’t change them. Most often, I see these rolled on a table in preparation for the game rather than during a game but some instances can come up where you need them. To roll a 100 on these, all the numbers need to show up as 0. So if you have the kind like pictured above, it would read 00, 0 and if you use two D10s it will show 0, 0.

Know the rules

I’ve told you my first rule, don’t force a kid to play when they don’t want to. I’ve told you who is who at the table. I’ve shown you what the dice are. Now it’s time for you to do some work. You are going to have to learn some rules. But wait, those books are big! And expensive! I don’t know if I want to invest in all that before I play with my kids. To that I say, you are right, and no problem, you don’t have to buy the books. There are free online resources you can use. I am going to link them for you right here in this post. We’ll be starting with the simple rules, rather than the three core books. If you want the three core books, Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Player Handbook and The Monster Manual, more power to you. I love those books but if you are starting play with kids, simpler is better.

I expect that after you see the simplified rules you are still going to say, but Slick, that is a lot of reading! Well, yes it is. You are not wrong about that. My plan for this blog is to go through the simple rules with you to help pull out the key elements to allow you to play Dungeons & Dragons with kids. Not everything in these rules is necessary for kids (or even adults) and they can be adjusted. The rules are more of a framework or guideline for how to play rather than everything being set in stone.

When you go to the link to look at the simple rules, if you look around you will see some information about how the game is structured, how you create a character and how to run an adventure. Read as much of that as you can, even if it doesn’t make sense right now or if you think you can’t get a younger kid to understand it. For right now, we are in the prepping stages so the best thing you can do is to inform yourself but don’t tell a kid you are going to start playing tomorrow unless you are really ready to do that. Give yourself some time to absorb the information. Also, not to self promote too hard here but come back to my blog and like I said we will go through the basic rules. I’ll give tips on character creation for kids, how to adapt things so they are more simplified and even point you to some cool stuff that might make your kids more interested in playing.

Come on, Slick enough talk, give us the rules already!

Here you go! Simple Rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Read those and come back to my next post where we will talk about some good guidelines about setting up a D&D world for kids.

Critically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

P.S. Just gotta have the core books? You can get them here.

Dungeon Master’s Guide

Player’s Handbook

Monster Manual

Blood Hunters Rise of the Hybrids – #MovieReview

The action Goes Boom!

Slick Dungeon here, coming at you hard and fast with a martial arts action film review. DarkCoast pictures reached out to me with a screener copy of Blood Hunters Rise of the Hybrids in exchange for an honest opinion about the film. I’ll give you a bit of the plot summary and then tell you about the good, the bad and the kicks in the face.

Blood Hunters Rise of the Hybrids is a low budget, independent martial arts film by Vincent Soberano who also stars in the movie as the character Bolo. The movie also stars Sarah Chang as Gabriela and Mayling Ng as Maya.

I think at this point in the world, a lot of us are trying to make the most out of video streaming because no one wants to go out into a crowd anymore and some people are not allowed to. So what do you do to keep busy? Watch movies. Lots of movies and shows. You’ve watched The Witcher, you caught up on The Boys, and you have watched The Baby Yoda show on loop for the last ten days and it’s time to look for something else. Maybe something you haven’t seen before.

Well, like it or hate it, I can tell you, you haven’t seen Blood Hunters Rise of the Hybrids before. Personally, I am in favor of any film these days that can claim to be independent. If there’s a good story and plenty of entertainment to be had, so much the better. This movie gets some of that right but not all of it.

The story goes like this. There’s a race of alien creatures called the Aswang. They are sort of a cross between vampires and werewolves but they pretty much look human. They are extremely fast and very strong. The really cool thing about them is that they are based on Filipino folklore that Soberano grew up with. I love the idea of monsters that don’t get enough exposure getting some air time.

Anyway, these Aswang are trying to dominate the human race. There was a human trying to stop them named Naga. When he gets the chance to stop the queen of the Aswang, Maya, he instead injects himself with her blood and becomes one of these creatures. Meanwhile there is a group of humans who are basically mercenaries trying to stop Naga and Maya. These people also inject themselves with the Aswang blood to give themselves strength and power but they are on the side of humanity. Confused yet? I was a bit too. I think one thing the movie suffers from is not giving enough time for the origins of the Aswang to play out, instead opting for exposition on their background.

The film also cuts back and forth between what seems to have happened before and the action going on now. It’s not always clear who is doing what or why.

There’s really cool artwork that the film uses to transition scenes with. Sort of like Sin City did. While I love the artwork, which if I understand correctly, Soberano also made, the transitions can get a bit distracting here. It wasn’t completely off putting and it certainly doesn’t ruin the film but it does seem like it happens just a little too often.

The story centers on Gabriela who has a husband and child that were seemingly murdered by Naga. She’s out on a quest for vengeance and she kicks serious butt.

She goes after the creatures as hard as she can. We even learn that her family was basically the first victims of these attacks. Other than that, her motivations are not always real clear.

The film does the wise thing by not overdoing the blood and gore factor. We mostly see dead bodies covered in blood after the fact, but there’s no silly decapitations or anything like that. I feel like that makes the violence the creatures do more impactful.

I would go on with summarizing the story but it’s a little disjointed. The main thing to know is that there are bad, strong monsters that want to kill humans. And there is a group of humans that want to kill the monsters. That’s enough for me though. You know why?

The freaking action scenes are phenomenal.

This movie reminded me of some of the Kung Fu movies I grew up watching on late night television or early morning Sundays. The point is the fighting above all else. That being said, there are still some things I found a little silly.

  • At one point Gabriela fires a slingshot into a stack of boxes near a car. The whole thing blows up. I’m all for unnecessary explosions but, uh one sling shot? Really? And later she uses the same thing to sling shot a dart at someone so, uh did the whole thing actually blow up with one single dart? I mean cool explosion though…
  • There’s one character who basically has fake fangs in his mouth. It made it pretty hard to understand his dialogue and even after watching more than once, I am still not sure what that guy was saying. Still, his martial arts game is strong so all good.
  • These creatures can’t be killed by anything other than a special type of blade. The “Slayers” as they are called, the mercenary group that want to stop the Aswang, sneak up on the enemy base and eliminate a bunch of the guards around them, using guns. Why wouldn’t these creatures post guards that were Aswang instead?! Also, after they are in the building, and about to go after Maya and Naga and the big bads, one of the Slayers says, “blades out, this is the Aswang lair.” Maybe you should have mentioned that outside bro? I mean cause, you are already inside so, good thing there was no one in that hallway I guess?

All that aside, the best part of this movie happens from when the dude says to get the blades out.

The sword battles and one on one match ups are phenomenal. Personally, I am kind of sick of martial arts action that relies on wires and shaky camera editing to make things look cool, rather than just letting the camera stay back and allowing us to see human skill. This movie absolutely does not make that mistake. The fighting is great, the action is framed well for the most part and there are cool moves from both good and bad guys. There’s a little touch of special effects given to the Aswang to make them seem other than human but it in no way takes away from the fight scenes. And from my point of view, since most of the movie is an extended fight scene, that makes this movie worth a watch.

The match up between Gabriela and Maya was particularly enjoyable to me. You can tell how carefully these fight scenes were choreographed and that the actors are skilled martial artists in their own right.

The end gets a little messy again with a surprise betrayal and some characters that we weren’t all that attached to losing fights and it becomes a bit confusing. The very end leaves us on a cliff hanger setting up for a sequel. For my part I hope that Soberano and crew do more films together. I just hope that next time he keeps the action fast but slows down on the set up. I would like to see less exposition and more character growth. But the same amount of kicks in the face. Actually, more kicks in the face. I can always use more kicks in the face. Wait, that sounded wrong. Anyway, yeah Soberano is talented and should make more independent films and I hope he will. I’ll be there for the action, just maybe not entirely for the story.

Blood Hunters Rise of the Hybrids will be streaming on March 17th (Amazon, Vimeo on Demand, FlixFling, Vudu, FANDANGO)

Face Kickingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Slick Dungeon’s Outbreak PSA

Hello out there all you wonderful people, this is Slick Dungeon. Normally on my blog I post about movies, books and role playing games. Today I just want to take a minute to do my part to stop the spread of an epidemic.

All the major health organizations recommend two things to keep us healthy. One is wash your hands and two is not touching your face. I don’t have much to help with the second one but for the first let me do you all a service. We’re supposed to wash for at least 20 seconds which is the lyrics to Happy Birthday twice. Well, if I keep singing that I am going to be approximately four thousand years old in the next half hour. Instead, let’s get this song stuck in your head again. Wash your hands while you sing it and you will be so lost in belting it out, you won’t realize you have spent well over 20 seconds doing it.

Personally I am partial to the Metal version but any version will do.

Lyrics:

When a humble bard
Graced a ride along
With Geralt of Rivia
Along came this song

From when the White Wolf fought
A silver-tongued devil
His army of elves
At his hooves did they revel

They came after me
With masterful deceit
Broke down my lute
And they kicked in my teeth
While the devil’s horns
Minced our tender meat
And so cried the Witcher
He can’t be bleat

Toss a coin to your Witcher
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’
Toss a coin to Your Witcher
O’ Valley of Plenty

At the edge of the world
Fight the mighty horde
That bashes and breaks you
And brings you the morn’

He thrust every elf
Far back on the shelf
High up on the mountain
From whence it came

He wiped out your pest
Got kicked in his chest
He’s a friend of humanity
So give him the rest

That’s my epic tale
A champion prevailed
Defeated the villain
Now pour him some ale

Toss a coin to your Witcher
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’
Toss a coin to your Witcher
And friend of humanity

Toss a coin to your Witcher
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’
And friend of humanity

Toss a coin to your Witcher
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’ Valley of Plenty
O’
Toss a coin to your Witcher
A friend of humanity

There, now it’s stuck in your head again. Go wash your hands!

(Also someone please remind me not to rewatch Contagion)

Sanitarily yours,

Slick Dungeon