August 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my August 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. There may also be books added if I see one that peaks my interest in ReedsyDiscovery. I do my best to get through, but there’s only so much time. This month I plan to continue some fantasy series, check out a non-fiction book that I have wanted to read for quite some time, and review a book from a blogger that I follow and have had on my back burner for far too long.

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I predicted last month that I might not get through this one in July and I was right. I am intending to read this one this month but it is long and I need to get it from the library again so we’ll see if I have enough time for it. I have read a few chapters and am pretty into it so far.

This is the first in the Broken Earth series and won the Hugo award. It’s the story of how the world ends, for the final time. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series but I haven’t ever had the chance to pick it up until now. I’m looking forward to it. The author says she likes to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and I really want to see how that is handled because that can either be done extremely well or extremely poorly in fiction. From all the accolades that the series has gotten, I am betting this is done extremely well.

2. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

After my raving review of how good The Eye of the World is, how could I not put this on my list? It’s the sequel and I don’t know much about it other than the fact that I can’t wait to get back to the world that Jordan built. I’m curious to know if this series suffers from the sophomore slump or not but even if this one isn’t the greatest volume I will absolutely keep reading the series.

3. Misericorde by Cynthia A. Morgan

I am reviewing this one for Reedsy Discovery and the review will be out on 8/11/2020. What got me interested in reading it is the first line of the description, “It’s the year 2446, and the first three Horsemen of Revelation’s Apocalypse have ridden.”

Talk about setting the stakes high at the beginning! I’m interested to see where it goes and how this is all handled and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you.

4. Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne

This is a dystopian science fiction novel that I have been meaning to read and review forever. You can actually read a good chunk of this yourself if you check out Kent Wayne’s blog. I’m excited to read this and I know there are more volumes once I finish the first so it should be a fun ride. If you want to read some of this for yourself go here. And while you are there check out Wayne’s other books and his podcast. He has a bunch of great stuff on his blog and I think you will like it as much as I do.

5. A Song for the Void: A Historical Horror Novel by Andrew Piazza

I am a sucker for both horror and history so this is a great combination for me. It’s my horror book for the month and I will be reading it for Reedsy Discovery. The review for it will be out on 8/22/2020. Anything that promises surreal horror fantasy along with a dose of history is right up my alley so I can’t wait to dive into this one.

6. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hadju

I actually don’t read a lot of non-fiction books. I usually prefer fiction because I tend to want to escape reality. This book is a bit old and has been sitting on my shelves for about eleven years. It’s surprising what you find in the middle of a pandemic. Anyway, I think that the history of comic books is seriously fascinating and I’m hoping this book will add to my knowledge on the subject. Since this is the last one on my list, it is possible it will get pushed until September but we’ll see.

Well, there you have it, that’s my list for the month. I will do my best to get through as much as I can. If the blog goes radio silent for a few days toward the end of August, it’s a signal that I am furiously reading as fast as I can trying to just get one last book in before the month changes.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly 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!

Lies, Inc. – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my July to be read list. I know it’s August but I was close. And boy have I got a weird one for you today.

SUMMARY

When catastrophic overpopulation threatens Earth, one company offers to teleport citizens to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious émigrés. But there is one problem: the teleportation machine only works in one direction. When Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that some of the footage of happy settlers may have been faked, he sets out on an eighteen-year journey to see if anyone wants to come back.

REVIEW

2/5 STARS

It is the far future and Earth has become overcrowded. To make matters worse, the planets in the solar system that might have been habitable could not for one reason or another be colonized. But one company has a solution. A satellite found a planet that did have a habitable environment. For years now, people have been stepping through a teleportation gate that will take them to this planet. It seems like a perfect solution and a perfect paradise with plenty of room. At least, that’s what the videos that come back seem to indicate. Not everyone in the world is convinced. One man, Rachmael ben Applebaum is convinced that the videos from this planet are fake. He happens to own a ship and wants to go to the planet and see if anyone there is dissatisfied and if possible bring them home. The problem? It’s an eighteen-year trip to get there.

While this sounds like a great setup and could have made for a classic Phillip K. Dick novel full of interesting ideas about the future and the meaning of life and governmental control. Instead, we got a novel full of bizarre images with a plot that just barely holds together and never quite works.

The opening lines are brilliant. “The Sub-Info computers owned by Lies, Incorporated had been caught in an unnatural act by a service mechanic. Sub-Info computer Five had transmitted information which was not a lie.”

This is the type of opening that makes the reader think we are in for an incredible ride. However, by the next page, our main character is hallucinating about rats because of this. It just gets stranger from there. There is a plot that can be followed relating to the planet and the companies that are competing for dominance on it but at least a good third of the book is a bizarre collection of hallucinations including a book that tells the present and the future and strange alien creatures that eat their own eye-stalks for food.

This was a missed opportunity for what could have been a brilliant deconstruction of government, authoritarianism, capitalism, and espionage. Those elements are there but they are not explored nearly as much as the odd hallucinatory monsters that our main character is infected with, creating a dizzying narrative that simply does not make enough sense.

If you like Phillip K. Dick’s books and want to read all of his work, of course, this should be on your reading list. But, if you are a casual science fiction fan and want an introduction to Dick’s incredible work, go with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Also known as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) It’s a much more engaging read.

Hallucinatingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide – #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

“Elves, dwarves, humans… Jödmun; you mortal races are all the same, little more than ants crawling on a round table, oblivious to those sitting around it.”

It has been centuries since the Mountain Birth, a magical calamity that turned the Jödmun from men into… something else.

Part curse, part blessing, the Jödmun need neither food nor shelter, living as veritable stone men. One among them, Ürbon the Wanderer, will emerge from his people’s centuries-long isolation.

A chance encounter with an unusually violent elvish people leaves Ürbon without a ship, without his men, and without direction, changing the course of his life forever.

In a journey across the vast world of Faladon; from the sandy Savarrah desert to the lush Forgotten Isles, the Human Kingdom of Ravenburg to the bustling port-city of Venova, Ürbon will gather to him unlikely friends and dangerous enemies, each seeking a weakness in his stony flesh. This is his tale.

A new fantasy adventure unfolds with it’s first installment – Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide. Faladon is the first Epic Fantasy Universe created by more than 40 co-authors – pushing the limits of collaborative writing and the fantasy genre.

REVIEW

4/5 STARS

Urbon is a stone giant who is on a quest to find his friends and an ancient artifact. As his ship is sailing, it is attacked by elves. This kicks off a series of events that finds him making new friends, exploring unknown places, and making vicious enemies.

Journeys Through Faladon: The Titan Divide is filled with a metric ton of action. It’s non-stop throughout the entire book. There are bloody battles, magical and insane gods who can cast magic spells and hordes of vampires that challenge Urbon and his little party. The battle scenes are fun and exciting and a great joy to read.

This book was created by more than forty co-authors. With that you would think that too many chefs are in the kitchen and sometimes the bouncing back and forth between characters is a little dizzying but overall it works. At times it would have been nice if the action slowed down a little bit so that we could get more character development. Urbon and his lizard man side kick are great fun to read about and it would have been nice to have a little bit more in there about them. The world seems full and lived in and there is some world building done but it would have been nice to have it a little more fleshed out so the reader knew about the world.

While the plot might not be the most complex plot and the characters are mostly engaged in battles the whole time, this is still a great read. This is like a summer blockbuster movie, you come for the action and it’s highly enjoyable, even if it’s not the most intricate movie you have seen.

With so many co-authors one would think it would be easy to lose the plot but the authors keep it together and move the story along at a breakneck pace and it comes to an overall satisfying conclusion which will make the reader look forward to the next volume.

If you are a fan of fantasy adventure full of action and humor, such as the Discworld series this book should be a welcome addition to your shelf.

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 Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I knocked out another book from my July TBR list and I want to give you my thoughts on it. Okay, actually it was from my June TBR and carried over because I am a slow reader but I finished it and I am now going to review it.

SUMMARY

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs―a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts― five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

The Eye of the World is the first in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It’s a fourteen volume sweeping fantasy epic that was decades in the making. It is also poised to become a huge, big budget production on Amazon Prime Video. After finally reading this first volume, I can see why.

If you know me in personal life, you know that I am a huge Tolkien fan. I love his stories and the massive world building he was capable of.

Like a warm and comforting bath, The Eye of the World starts out much the same that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings does. There is a small town, with regular, common folk, who just go about their lives and would be happy if the troubles of the outside world never came to them. Like in Tolkien’s story, trouble comes knocking. Trollocs (think sort of beast men although I had trouble not thinking of them as Trolls tbh) come to the small town of Two Rivers, right at the time of an annual festival.

These Trollocs attack Rand al’Thor, who goes by Rand and several of his friends get involved either by defending themselves or helping Rand in some way. It seems that there was more to this attack than any of them thought.

A small party of people band together, including Rand’s good friends Mat and Perrin and the girl he has always loved, Egwene. They are not entirely defenseless, as there is a Gleeman (think a bard), a warder (think a ranger from LOTR) and an Aes Sedai (think a female Gandalf) who help the people from Two Rivers along the way.

I don’t want to give too much more away because I don’t want to give spoilers but this is definitely a “hero’s journey” tale. That being said, there are still plenty of twists and turns that you will not see coming.

The world that Jordan builds is impressive. It’s enormous and full of memorable characters. I haven’t read more than the first volume but I get the impression that small details given in this book are going to matter greatly in the future tales.

Reading this book, I was fully engaged the whole time. I know that there were sections where the reader was given a little too much exposition in the form of an info dump but I didn’t care. I found the information involved so fascinating that I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. In some ways, I don’t want to see the show because I doubt anything put down in reality will quite match what I have in my imagination.

If you are a lover of fantasy, this book is for you. Especially if you love epic quests, valiant heroes and villains that are completely villainous. This book is by far the best fantasy book I have read this year and I have read a lot of great fantasy. I suspect this might be the best book I read all year, although I do plan to read the sequels so that remains to be determined.

For more years than I can remember, any time I would pick up a fantasy book, someone at the book store would ask me if I had read The Wheel of Time series. I was never sure if that was because there was just a rabid fan base for Jordan or if the story was really worthwhile. Well, let me tell you, I will always love Tolkien but I think Jordan may have a shot at being equal in my heart. I do not say that lightly at all. I’ve never read any other fantasy book and thought that it was as good as Lord of the Rings. Sure, many are similar but as good as? I’m not sure yet since I have not read all the volumes but if any series is ever going to be that good, it is hands down The Wheel of Time series. So, if you are like me and you have spent too many years not getting around to reading these books, stop what you are doing, get your hands on a copy and get reading. I promise you this is worth the time.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

P.S. Have you read The Eye of the World? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below, just don’t spoil anything in the next volumes. 🙂

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 Invasion of Aeronbed – #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

Eirwen and Fridis, the first of the seven-volume Ravenstones series, began the tale of an unlikely friendship between an unassuming polar bear and an intrepid eider duck. Their travels took the pair to Vigmar, a mountainous Empire at war with its neighbor, the Kingdom of Aeronbed. Fate has placed the inexperienced bear in command of Vigmar’s quarrelsome forces, and he is immediately beset by the demands of leadership. Fridis, meanwhile, overcoming misfortune, seeks to unravel the many mysteries of the Empire’s capital, Blakfel, and confront its scheming rulers.

Volume 2, The Invasion of Aeronbed, continues the story. Eirwen has decided that Vigmar must invade its neighbor to bring an end to the long-standing conflict. The decision on his own role in this invasion will lead to unintended consequences. Fridis, meanwhile, ill-equipped for such violent confrontations, must stay behind to fend for herself. Although she discovers a satisfying role in Blakfel, danger lurks for her in the capital’s byways and castle towers as much as on any battlefield.

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

The first of the Revenstones books had the reader meet Eirwen, a polar bear, and Fridis, an eider duck, who were destined to become good friends and intrepid adventurers. The second volume picks up where the first book left off, with Eirwen in charge of the forces of Vigmar, while Fridis is becoming ever more popular in the city of Blakfel. The pressures of war, the politics of a kingdom, and the danger lurking around every corner don’t let up in The Invasion of Aeronbed.

The book is a well thought out sequel that, if anything, improves upon the original. The stakes are higher, the danger more personal, and the reader is easily engrossed in the tale. While Eirwen is out dealing with the ramifications of war, Fridis is left alone to deal with the forces of palace intrigue that wish to do her harm. The mysteries go deeper, while the action intensifies. The likable polar bear and duck are separated but their stories remain intertwined and it was satisfying reading both accounts.

One thing that might improve the book a little is more back story on some of the characters we meet in Vigmar and what their purposes are. However, the cast is large enough that there might not be enough time to delve into that with too much depth.

The book manages to expand upon both the war that rages between Vigmar and Aeronbed while keeping perspective on the personal stakes for the characters we met in the first volume. It’s been an interesting ride so far and I am looking forward to seeing where the author will take us next. If the title of the next volume is any indication, it looks like we may get a fresh perspective which will be interesting to see.

If you love fantasy books full of huge battles, nefarious political maneuvering, and long-lasting friendship, you are going to love this volume. This is only the second in a seven-volume set, so there is plenty of story to come and I look forward to reading more.

Fantastically 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!

Eirwen and Fridis – #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

On an isolated ice floe, a young polar bear wakes up from a long sleep, only to discover he is utterly alone. Seemingly overnight, all his friends have vanished. What to do? Thus begins the bear’s self-examination and life-altering quest. His ensuing search will take him to a strange and unpredictable world, where he must confront danger and embrace adventure at every turn.

The first volume of the seven-part Ravenstones series introduces the reader to Eirwen, a lonely polar bear, and Fridis, a spirited duck, as they face mystery and intrigue, testing their mettle and ambition. The Ravenstones deals with good and evil, friendship and loyalty, overcoming doubt and obstacles, reinventing oneself – and in so doing discovering one’s true life purpose. Here the well-meaning and the wicked play out their roles in the midst of prophecy and wizardry, politics and spectacle, peace and war, and betrayal and sacrifice.

REVIEW

4/5 Stars

Like the polar bear that this story is about, it starts a little slow and hesitant. Eirwen has awoken to find that his friends are missing. He is a bear who is a little slow to take action and takes some time thinking through things before making a decision. Once he has decided to take action, he is determined to see it through to the conclusion. Eirwen decides to go look for his friends. Along the way, he meets a raven and a duck. The trio team up together to find the bear’s friends. It’s not long after that when Eirwen, the polar bear, and Fridis, the duck, find themselves in a kingdom at war.

The two friends must make their way in this new world while never forgetting the original goal of Eirwen’s quest. That’s no easy feat as there are animals everywhere with their own agendas, positions of power, and determinations to gain power.

The book really gets going once Eirwen and Fridis make it into the land of Vigmar and soon find themselves involved in the complicated politics of a land at war. Fridis is energetic and feisty while Eirwen finds himself becoming more confident and decisive as time goes on.

The adventure is quite enjoyable and the reader is pulled along in the fantasy. There is a bit of head-hopping where we go from one character’s point of view to another abruptly but otherwise, it’s an intriguing read.

This book is about talking animals so it’s easy to think of it as having comparisons to Watership Down or The Wind in the Willows. While those comparisons make sense, the political intrigue and epic battles are better compared to the likes of Lord of the Rings or similar epic fantasy books. If you love fantasy books with magical happenings, political maneuvering, and high stakes, you are going to love Eirwen and Fridis.

Tomorrow I will be back with the review of the second volume in the series so be sure to check back for that.

Fantastically 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!

Cursed: Cursed (Episode 2) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the second episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

While most of us are waiting for The Umbrella Academy season 2, Netflix has been kind enough to drop a few excellent shows while we wait. In my opinion Cursed is one of the better ones. There won’t be many spoilers for episode 2 in this review, but I might reference things from episode 1 so if you haven’t, feel free to go watch that before you read this.

While the first episode did an adequate job of introducing characters and the idea that we are seeing the story of the Lady of the Lake, the second episode takes it up a notch and starts getting into the story.

Through a series of flashbacks we get to know the back story of Nimue and how and why she might be the one who is cursed. We also see Merlin’s continuing struggles to please his king. Additionally, the villain of the series is becoming more ruthless and dangerous toward Nimue and people like her.

A lot of the episode shows Nimue’s interactions with the sword she acquired in the first episode, as well as her developing relationship with Arthur. It’s still not clear to me by this second episode that the Arthur hanging out with Nimue is the Arthur, but he certainly could be.

The visuals continue to be stunning and the actors are all doing a fantastic job so far. They are able to walk the balance between being in a magical world but giving it enough realism that it doesn’t get ridiculous.

I think the main question being asked in this episode is who or what exactly is cursed. I’m not going to give you my opinion on that since I don’t want to give spoilers but let’s just say it’s a multiple choice answer.

I feel like this episode really got the story going and I’m looking forward to the next one. There are some mysterious characters we might get to know more about and there’s certainly going to be no lack of fantasy elements.

Have you watched Cursed yet? What do you think of it so far if you have? Let me know in the comments below.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Get Slick Dungeon’s 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon here.

I’ve been posting about gaming with kids on here for a while now. I came up with 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids and I want you to have it. If this is something you are interested in, all you need to do is add your email address below and sign up for my biweekly email newsletter. In my newsletter I will send you a tip about Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs, especially as it relates to kids. I hope you enjoy the free PDF and it’s yours to keep whether you continue to subscribe to my newsletter or not. I’m a little new to the whole email newsletter thing so it may take a full day before you receive your PDF.

I will have more stuff like this for you in the near future so if you like this or want to see something specific, drop me a line and let me know.

Gratefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 12

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, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome, role playing a half-elf and role playing a half-orc. Today we are going to talk about role playing a Tiefling.

Tieflings are one of the most interesting playable races in the game. For those who don’t know, it’s pronounced like tea-fling. They are also increasingly popular to play because they come with backgrounds that just beg for role playing opportunities. Unlike a half-orc or half-elf, it’s virtually impossible for them to hide their appearance. And a tiefling has in their bloodline somewhere, an ancestor who committed a great sin and aligned themselves with evil. For that reason, it might be assumed that tieflings are by default evil. What makes them interesting is that they do not have to be evil. Being evil is as much a choice for a tiefling as for any other creature in the game.

Tieflings essentially look like demons or devils walking around in human form. In fact, that’s just what they look like, and their personalities can vary across the entire spectrum of personalities. Their eyes are solid color, with no pupils, they have horns on their heads, and they all have tails. The differences in these physical aspects can be whatever you want them to be, so for example, the tail can be four to five feet in length, the horns can be curved or straight and the eyes can be black, red, white, silver or gold.

All the possibilities there make for one of the most interesting looking creatures in the game. That also means that these creatures live in a world that is automatically suspicious of them. Everywhere they go, it’s hard for tieflings to make friends. But when they do make a friend, and that friend earns their trust, the tiefling is loyal for good. This can make a great entry for kids who want to play tieflings.

A lot of kids can relate to someone assuming they are up to no good. For the vast number of times they have been yelled at for trying to take a cookie from the cookie jar, there has been at least one time when they were innocent of trying to commit that crime. A kid can relate to an adult just thinking by a look on their face, that they have done something wrong. While it’s probably the case that most of the time the kid has done something wrong, there are probably instances where adults jumped to conclusions. That’s what people do when they meet tieflings, they jump to conclusions. This creature looks evil, therefore it is evil. While a spider might look scary to some people, it serves the vital function of population control of insects. The spider itself is not necessarily bad and neither is the tiefling.

Knowing that everyone is going to assume the worst of you, makes it hard to trust anyone else. If a tiefling who is just trying to fit in happens upon a group of adventurers who don’t assume the worst, take the tiefling into their good graces, and ally with that tiefling, that adventuring party has gained a powerful and loyal ally.

While you could certainly play a tiefling as evil, I don’t recommend that for kids. But there is a difference between playing someone who is evil and someone who looks evil. I see no problem with a kid playing a tiefling if they want to. And if you as a Dungeon Master are uncomfortable with the whole fiendish heritage involved in tieflings, you can take that out if it won’t work for your kid. If you do leave it in, I would say the tiefling should be misunderstood by society rather than actually evil in society, but of course, that is just my advice. You can play this game any way you want to and it’s not wrong.

One of my favorite things with tieflings actually has to do with their names. Tieflings can have three types of names. 1. If they happen to grow up in human, elf, dwarf, or whatever other culture, they could reasonably be expected to have a name from that culture. 2. They can have a name that reflects their infernal heritage, where their name is a word in the infernal language. 3. They can have what is called a “virtue” name. This is a name that signifies a virtue or other concept and the tiefling attempts to embody that concept.

To me, that third choice is simply amazing. A tiefling tending towards good might choose something like Hope, Perseverance or Glory. I love the idea of picking your name and then trying to be the living representation of that name. I feel like with kids this could go a million ways. I can see a kid choosing a name like Rich or Money. I could also see kids picking things like Beauty or Magician. The name alone might give you as the Dungeon Master a direction for the campaign. And believe me, any hints like that are hugely helpful to running a campaign.

I’ll give you a few more thoughts I have about kids and tieflings below but first let’s get into the tiefling traits.

Tiefling Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Tiefling.

Ability Score Increase

Tieflings are smart creatures who like to learn about the world. For that reason your Intelligence score increases by 1. Tieflings are absolutely memorable to anyone that meets one. For that reason your Charisma score is increased by 2.

Age

Tieflings mature at the same rate humans do but live a little longer. “A little longer” is not defined in the rules so how much longer is sort of up to you.

Alignment

A lot of tieflings do end up as evil, but that does not mean your kid has to align that way with her character. You can absolutely have a lawful good tiefling character if you want to. The rules do say that they tend more towards chaotic and that makes sense to me because a tiefling is probably going to know that just because there is a law, does not mean that it is a just law. My advice here is to still trend toward the good side of alignment with your kids though, even though their character has a fiendish look.

Size

Tieflings are pretty much the same size as humans. For the game rule purposes you are considered medium.

Speed

Your speed in the game is 30 feet.

Darkvision

I’ve been over darkvision a few times since almost every playable race other than humans has it, but in case you need it, I am just going to put here exactly what the basic rules say. “Thanks to your infernal heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.”

Hellish Resistance

As an adult I think this description is awesome. But, you may not want your kids running around talking about their “Hellish Resistance” to their friends, teachers and neighbors. If that’s the case, just call this what it is, Fire Resistance. It just means that it’s really hard to burn a tiefling. You’d be surprised by how many monsters can burn characters so this is actually a pretty awesome trait to have.

Infernal Legacy

This trait has to do with some innate spells that tieflings can cast because of their ancestry. It’s okay if at this point you don’t know what these things mean but I will still lay them out here.

Right from the beginning you can cast the cantrip Thaumaturgy. I won’t go over this spell here because in future posts we’ll go through all the magic but at essence this spell lets you speak loudly, make the earth shake a little, make lights brighten or dim and a few other things that are pretty much harmless magic tricks. If you have watched The Fellowship of The Ring and remember the moment where Gandalf is talking with Bilbo about the ring and he makes himself look big, his voice boom, his staff light up, that is pretty much thaumaturgy right there.

When you get to third level you are able to cast Hellish Rebuke. If you don’t want your kids running around saying that they Hellishly rebuke you, just call the spell Rebuke. This spell essentially does fire damage to your enemies.

Finally, when you get to fifth level, you get the spell Darkness. This probably seems obvious, but it basically means you get to make things dark when you want to. There are definitely limits to this so go by the spell but that’s what it boils down to.

Thaumaturgy is one the character can cast whenever they want but Rebuke and Darkness are basically once a day spells. They are all really handy to have and a great little spell list, even if you don’t want to be a class that has spellcasting abilities.

Languages

You are fluent in Common and Infernal. Infernal is a language that may or may not come up, depending on what you as the Dungeon Master put in your campaign. It’s always nice for a kid to have something their character can do in an unexpected moment though, so if you have a tiefling player, consider putting at least one treasure chest that has something written in infernal on it that only that player can read.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Tieflings

Playing a tiefling can be a ton of fun. Kids can relate to this playable race if they have ever had the situation where it was assumed they were up to no good. Kids are all about fairness so playing a tiefling can actually come naturally to them. Tieflings have a good idea of not only what is fair but also if they are being treated fairly. The one thing that can be a little bit of a trip up, depending on your household, is that the bloodline of tieflings is essentially from demons. For some families that is going to be a non-starter and in that case, just don’t let there be tieflings in your campaigns. If that is not an issue and your kids can wrap their heads around it, tieflings are a lot of fun to play. They get magical abilities that most other playable races don’t. They can walk through fire with barely an injury. And they can be loyal to a fault.

A great way to introduce a tiefling character to a party is to have that tiefling be in trouble through no fault of their own. A group of citizens might be surrounding them and calling them names when the party arrives to swoop in and defend the innocent. Of course, that is just one suggestion and there are any number of ways to play this game so do what works for you and your family.

I hope you got something out of this post and have some ideas for your table if your kid wants to play a tiefling.

My next Kids Kill Monsters post is going to be about classes. We’re going to go through each one in the basic rules, one at a time. This is usually the spot where some math gets involved and things can get tricky but I’ll do my best to walk you through it.

But before that, I have an announcement. I have written Slick Dungeon’s 10 Golden Rules of Dungeon Mastering for Kids. It’s a free PDF with some of my best advice on playing Dungeons & Dragons with kids and I want you to have it. All you will have to do to get a copy is to sign up for my mailing list newsletter. If you sign up for the newsletter you will get the free PDF and I will send tips to your email about Role Playing Games every other Friday. Watch for your chance to sign up in my next post, set to go live on 7/21/2020. I hope you’ll consider signing up for it and please feel free to share it with anyone that you think might enjoy some gaming tips from your old pal, Slick.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Cursed: Nimue (Episode 1) – #TVReview

What’s going on out there internet people? It’s Slick Dungeon, back with a review for you all. I don’t usually do television series reviews, mainly because if I did, I would spend all my time doing that, and I can’t always commit to watching ten or more hours of content, then writing about it. But I am making an exception for Cursed on Netflix. I’ll review each episode, one at a time in the coming days and weeks.

I will be giving some mild spoilers for each episode but I will try to keep them light enough that they won’t get in your way of enjoying the episodes.

Cursed is a series that explores the Arthurian legend from a new perspective, that of the Lady of the Lake. The legend of King Arthur is one that has stood the test of time as it gets told over and over again, reshaped and reformed, always ending as a story that at its heart is about the hope of a good person to lead the world through hope. One of the pieces of that story is that there is a Lady of the Lake who gives, King Arthur, Excalibur, the sword that will help to shape his destiny. I’ve always wondered about the background of the Lady of the Lake, how she got there and why. This series is basically telling that story.

Some critics have compared the series to Game of Thrones or The Witcher. While I understand why they make this comparison, I don’t think it’s fair to this series to judge it by those. It seems that any time a critic watches a fantasy series, they are from now on, going to assume that the series is just trying to repeat the success of Game of Thrones. Certainly, I imagine, there will be plenty of palace intrigue, unlikely heroes, magic, and war in Cursed.

However, this is a different story. It’s clear from the start that unlike Westeros, this land is full of magic. The story will mostly center on one or two characters, rather than a huge ensemble, although there are certainly plenty of supporting characters. And while I think it’s possible this may have more similarities to The Witcher, this show is not that either. The legend of King Arthur is one of the earliest fantasy stories involving knights and kingdoms, queens, and lovers, and if anything, Game of Thrones would not have existed without that story preceding it. The Witcher is about a person who doesn’t quite belong in society but is still needed because of the actions he can perform. Cursed, at its core, is about an object. A sword that has as important of a destiny as all of the rest of the characters. What we get to see in the show is how the people around it are affected.

In the first episode, we meet Nimue. She is a young woman with magical abilities. It’s clear from the beginning that Nimue could easily lose control of these abilities and do real harm to people with them. This is in a backdrop where Red Paladins are hunting down and killing those with magical abilities. They are cruel and ruthless and seemingly unstoppable.

Nimue is expertly performed by Katherine Langford who is captivating from the first moment she is onscreen. Also appearing in this first episode is Gustaf Skarsrgard who plays the most famous magician of all time, Merlin. The two clearly have an intertwined destiny but I am sure that will play out more in future episodes.

In this first episode, we see the setup for the series overall and while I don’t want to spoil the episode, it’s easy to see how this will play out as a series. In this episode, it’s more about getting to know the characters and getting them into place so the story can start. Some good signs I see here are that the title character of the episode is highly engaging, the villains seem to be absolutely brutal and challenging, and Merlin remains, mostly, a mystery. When you are setting up the Arthurian legend, those things are vital.

The visuals of the series are gorgeous and there are moments where we are reminded of the source material, which is Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s book of the same name.

If the first episode is any indication, this will be an excellent series that should be judged on its own merits. not those of fantasy shows that have come before. At the very least, this is something any fantasy fan should watch, at least until the one I am most excited for hits, The Wheel of Time series.

Have you checked out Cursed yet? If so what did you think? Keep it spoiler-free but let me know in the comments!

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Old Guard – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here with a spoiler free review of the number one film on Netflix as of today 7/16. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it because I am not giving anything away but I’ll let you know if this movie is worth your time.

The movie stars Charlize Theron as the leader of a small band of mercenaries who are extremely proficient killers and intelligent warriors.

It’s best if you go into the film not knowing much more than that. For that reason I am going to only tell you a few things about why you should watch this. There is good reason for this movie to be trending number one right now. It’s an intelligent film, the action makes sense in every battle scene and the actors all put in top notch performances.

While there are certainly elements that might be considered silly by some, if you can get past basically one thing, this is an incredible ride. There will undoubtedly be sequels to this and I am all in for them. The fight sequences are near perfect. Unlike a lot of action films, I never once found myself wondering why a team would go in that way or why they would make the choices they do. Theron, as always, puts in an outstanding turn as the lead character. But to me the actor to watch in this is Kiki Lane who plays a character named Nile. She proves as soon as she is on screen that she belongs with the more well known performers.

There’s no way this will get any Oscar nods because at essence it’s a genre film, but it should.

I don’t usually say this, but I don’t even recommend you read the Netflix description of the film. Just click watch. As long as you can handle some bloody action scenes, this movie is absolutely worth your time. If you don’t know much going in, the whole movie will surprise you. If you do read the description, I think it still will.

The only weak part I see in the film is toward the latter half and it more has to do with what the antagonist is doing, which in my opinion is something we’ve seen too often. But even with that, the film plays out to a satisfying conclusion and it absolutely left me wanting more.

Luckily for me there is a graphic novel that is the source material so I intend to seek that out to get more. It’s by comics legend Greg Rucka and the fact that the source and the screenplay are both written by him I am sure is why this film is so intelligent.

So what are you doing still reading this? Go watch the movie! Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 11

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, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome and role playing a half-elf. Today we are going to talk about role playing a Half-Orc.

One thing to know before I get too far into this is that there is a bit of a debate raging among the role play community over whether or not Half-Orcs and Orcs should be in the game in the way they are written. There is an argument to be made that these particular playable races, among others, can be read as racist stereotypes. I happen to think that there is an argument to be made there but that what is needed is some adjustment to the wording and nuance of the creatures in the game. Wizards of the Coast, the manufacturers of Dungeons & Dragons, say they are working to correct these problematic stereotypes. I think this is a step in the right direction but we’ll have to wait to see what the real result is. I believe that the more people that feel welcome playing this game the better, which is why I write these posts about how to play this game with kids. All that being said, take my suggestions and information below with a grain of salt for two reasons. 1. I will be using the descriptions and mechanics as currently written in the basic rules. 2. It’s very likely that with the corrections WoTC are making, some of this below is subject to change. Once there is an updated version, I will likely do another post to update my recommendations.

I will say that as an adult, I have found playing a Half-Orc to be extremely enjoyable and I usually go with that or a halfling when I play with adults. I do tend to play a little against type though, and usually my character is more misunderstood than aggressive. I’ll get more into this later, but that’s also my general recommendation for how a kid can play a Half-Orc.

Since its early beginnings, orcs have been one of the more villainous creatures in the game, often used as a horde of creatures opposing the forces of good. But sometimes, in the midst of all the fighting, there is a pause or a truce. There is opportunity for humans and orcs to cooperate. This gives rise to half-orcs where a creature has both human and orc blood running through their veins. These creatures usually look more orc than human but are equally of both playable races. Half-orcs can live either with orc tribes or in human cities. They are potentially the most common of the uncommon races (with half-elves possibly edging them out depending on the campaign setting). They’re pretty hefty and weigh between 180 and 250 pounds and can be anywhere from 5 to 7 feet tall.

In the basic rules they state that half-orcs tend to have scars. I feel like this is totally optional depending on how you want to play the character. They also mention that these scars can come from them being “a former slave or a disgraced exile”. Out of those two, if you are playing with kids, I absolutely recommend going with disgraced exile. As adults we can be a lot more nuanced in our definition of being a former slave but for kids, just omit that, it’s way too difficult to wrap everyone’s head around. I think a kid can easily understand being someone who made a mistake or didn’t get along with others and was told to leave. But lets not go around having our kids thinking of themselves as slaves, even in fantasy role play. I can’t imagine that is great for child development. It’s descriptions like that, which cause this whole playable race to be problematic in the first place so I am hesitant to recommend the whole slave background to anyone. That, of course, is just my opinion but there you have it.

Orcs are aggressive, warlike creatures who worship the disgraced one-eyed god Gruumsh. Gruumsh is angry and full of rage. This god is powerful enough that the orcs and even some half-orcs feel his calling to war. In essence, this makes half-orcs feel things more strongly than other playable races. They certainly feel rage, especially when fighting, but they also feel sadness quite deeply and likewise can soar to heights on the more positive emotions of joy and laughter. A half-orc truly can feel life to its fullest. This can make it difficult for some half-orcs to control their emotions in public. As a kid, this is quite relatable. Kids feel emotions incredibly deeply. And while a tantrum might come and go in an instant for a very young kid, the emotion is utterly overwhelming. Even for a ten year old kid, when they feel an emotion, it is felt deeply and strongly. Almost any kid can relate to feeling like they could lose control, or feel something that feels bigger than they are. Kids don’t get to control the world around them because adults make the rules. Half-orcs similarly did not create the rules of society or the prejudices in it, but they must react to it. This can lead to a loss of control. The awesome part of playing a half-orc is that when they do feel that emotion, they can channel it into something useful like battle prowess and resilience.

If you are trying to explain a half-orc to a kid, a great example is The Incredible Hulk. There is a guy who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, who feels major emotions and tries to control it but even when he does lose control, he doesn’t hurt the innocent. He cares about people and usually risks his neck to save people. And he also happens to be majorly strong. He’s not the only example of a good half-orc but I think he’s the one I most model my characters after. If you read the comics, it happens over and over that the Hulk is actually trying to help someone but when people who don’t like the Hulk, or are prejudiced against him, encounter him his actions are quickly misinterpreted and then Hulk has no choice but to defend himself and his friends. This act of defense is then taken as aggression towards those already prejudiced against the Hulk. The cycle never really ends. I think it can be pretty interesting for kids to play half-orcs who are really, truly very good at heart but who are assumed by others to be up to no good. The one thing I would say to make an exception to that is with the other party members. They should all know that the half-orc who may look big, strong and intimidating, is really kind, caring and loyal to her friends.

If you do go with the whole, “disgraced exile” backstory for a half-orc character, a weirdly appropriate model is Jar-jar Binks from Star Wars. Jar-jar was just kind of clumsy and not trying to hurt anyone but it was enough to get him banished. I think this works great for kids, no matter what you think of the character of Jar-jar. A half-orc could easily end up in a situation where she is misunderstood and due to her larger and more powerful frame ends up breaking something, on accident, that was precious to the community. Now she has a reason to go on an adventure. She needs to prove she is worthy of her own community. How does one do that? By becoming a heroic adventurer who, through the power of friendship, is able to save the world. That’s exactly what happened to Jar-jar. Well, before he went and messed everything up in Episode II and III but we’ll forget that for the moment.

There are a variety of half-orc names offered in the basic rules and I think those tend to be pretty fitting so I’m not really going to go into any extra recommendations of names for this particular playable race.

Let’s take a look at what the half-orc traits are as currently written

Half-Orc Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Half-Orc.

Ability Score Increase

Half-orcs are very strong and they also have a strong stomach. For this reason they get to add 2 to their strength score and 1 to their constitution.

Age

Half-orcs mature by age 14 and live to be around 75 but usually not more than that.

Alignment

Here’s another spot where the half-orc description needs some improvement. It says, “Half-orcs inherit a tendency toward chaos from their orc parents and are not strongly inclined toward good. Half-orcs raised among orcs and willing to live out their lives among them are usually evil.” Why though? Why do orcs or half-orcs have to trend toward evil? Half-orcs are as individual as anyone else so there can still be plenty of good half-orcs, or even orcs. I understand that their god is out of favor and is full of rage, but for that reason, I actually think it’s more interesting if they buck the system and trend toward good. Humans are not inherently evil because they are humans but they have definitely waged as much war as orcs ever have, so I really don’t like this description. But, if you want to use your alignment that way, feel free. I still do not recommend having a kid play an evil character though. If nothing else, it is guaranteed that this will cause problems at the table because at some point, the kid who is playing the evil character is going to want to do something bad to someone in their own party. This just causes a mess. Kids can have a much harder time not taking in game actions personally. If Johnny is robbed by Jenny’s evil character, Johnny is going to think that Jenny in real life doesn’t like him. And then it will be up to you as Dungeon Master to sort the whole thing out. Just avoid the headache and make sure the half-orc in the party is good. Again this is just my opinion though.

Size

I’ve stated the height and weight average above but for game purposes you are considered medium size if you play a half-orc.

Speed

Half-orcs move at a speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision

The description in the rules sums this up nicely. “Thanks to your orc blood, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.”

Menacing

Even if your kid is playing a nice half-orc, they can still, when they want to, look frightening. For this reason, you gain proficiency in the intimidation skill. Even if this doesn’t make a ton of sense now, just know that half-orcs can intimidate people easier than some of the other playable races. You’d be surprised how often kids make use of this skill and it certainly can be handy for getting information or trying to get into someplace the characters are not allowed to be otherwise.

Relentless Endurance

This is my favorite feature of half-orcs. When you are reduced to 0 hit points, meaning you would normally be dead at that point, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. Just so you know, a player character can still do everything they normally would with full health, if they have even a single hit point left. That basically means that when half-orcs are potentially killed, they are able to get up and give it one more try before it’s all over for them. They do have to take a long rest to use this again though, so you can basically think of this as a once a day feature.

Savage Attacks

This one takes a little bit of explaining so hang in there with me for a minute. Here’s how this feature is described in the basic rules, “When you score a critical hit with 
a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.”

To score a critical hit means that when you make an attack roll, you rolled a 20. (There are some limited exceptions where rolling between 18-20 counts as a critical hit) Once you roll that 20, you then get to roll your damage dice. This is not a D20 but will depend on what class you play and what weapon you are using. For rolling that 20 you get to roll your damage dice twice. So if your damage dice is a D12, you get to roll it twice and add that up to your critical hit damage. But with this feature you actually get to roll that damage dice three times. An example would be a half-orc barbarian scores a critical hit by rolling a 20. Then they get to roll a D12 for their regular damage. Then they get to roll it again for their critical hit damage. Then they get to roll it a third time for the savage attack feature. You add those three numbers together, then add any modifiers that add to the damage and you end up with a major amount of damage.

If that’s still unclear, don’t worry. Just know that half-orcs get to do more damage when they roll a 20 in combat than other playable races get to.

Languages

As a half-orc you get to speak Common and Orc. Orc uses dwarvish characters but doesn’t really sound at all like any of the other languages in the game. It’s a pretty harsh and gruff language with a lot of hard consonants.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Half-Orcs

As I said above, I like the half-orc characters to be misunderstood rather than actually aggressive. Of course, there are tons of ways to play these characters and it’s absolutely up to you how you and your kids should play this. But I think that trending toward evil alignment is going to make it more difficult to manage the table. And that’s true no matter the playable race that is evil. In my mind a good connection point for kids with half-orcs is that strong emotion they feel. It can be really good for a kid to role play getting emotions under control in a positive way. And, that does not always have to mean just in combat. A half-orc might feel frustration at the fact that a wall is difficult to climb. That frustration turns to anger, but the half-orc focuses his anger on the task at hand. Before you know it, he is able to pound footholds into the wall with his axe and he and his friends can climb up. He felt the frustration, he channeled it and he solved the problem. This helps to show kids that their emotions are not invalid but that they should be used in a constructive manner when possible.

The background of half-orcs as written can be a little troubling and tricky, so before letting your kid play one, make sure you have thoroughly read the description and have talked to them about how they want to play the character. I have not read the book yet, but supposedly The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount has more nuanced descriptions of orcs and other less common playable races. That may be worth a look if you want your kid to play a more nuanced character that is less of a stereotype, but again I have not read it so I can’t say for sure.

Half-orcs can really be a ton of fun to play because they are big, strong and if you play them right, perfectly suited to go adventuring. A lot of kids can relate to imagining themselves big and strong. They’re told that’s how they are supposed to grow up all the time. It’s the whole reason they are forced to eat vegetables, so they might as well get used to being big and strong now. Even if that’s just in their own imagination.

I think that an excellent example here really is The Incredible Hulk. And if your kid wants to be more professor Hulk than rage Hulk, there’s no problem there either. I think a highly intelligent half-orc who wants to learn to solve problems in ways that don’t involve weapons at all, is totally appropriate for kids. It’s whatever you want to make out of it, so tweak it with your kid as needed and have at it.

Next time I will get into the last of the uncommon races in the basic rules, the Tiefling.

After that, before I get into classes, I am going to have something a little special for everyone who reads this blog and likes these posts, so be on the look out for a bit of an announcement.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Sucker Punch – #MovieReview

Hello out there all you internet people. Slick Dungeon here, back with a movie review for ya. This time I am reviewing the Zack Snyder directed glossy action photo come to life known as Sucker Punch.

Heads up that there will be spoilers in this review so if you want to watch it before reading the review, you have been forewarned.

The movie stars Emily Browning as Babydoll, a young woman who is locked up in a mental institution and copes by envisioning it as a brothel. It’s actually both more complicated and more simple than that. There are basically three layers to the film and I will talk a little bit about all of them.

One of the things you can say without question is that the film looks great. It’s highly stylized and there are tons of interesting shots and camera movements happening, along with some pretty impressive CGI.

But that’s about all there is. It’s full of amazing style and pretty close to zero substance.

At the beginning of the movie, we are treated to a wordless opening where through action and lots of slow motion shots, we find out that Babydoll has an abusive stepfather. We also see an incident in which the stepfather tries to abuse Babydoll’s sister, and through Babydoll’s actions, her sister accidentally ends up dead. The stepfather is apparently able to frame it that Babydoll is insane and should be locked up in a mental institution and be lobotomized. Blue, one of the orderlies in the institution, played by Oscar Isaac, knows that Babydoll is not at fault but accepts payment from the stepfather to allow the lobotomy to happen. The day finally comes where the procedure is going to happen and right before we see the spike go into Babydoll’s eye, the movie shifts focus into a sort of dream realm where Babydoll is in a brothel. And then within this dream realm, when Babydoll dances, she enters a third realm in which she is a skilled warrior with a ragtag team of women with her. These women are in the brothel and exist in the mental institution as well. For the purposes of this review I am going to call these realms, the warrior realm, the brothel realm, and reality.

In reality, Babydoll has spotted a few things that might help her to escape the mental institution. When she goes into the brothel realm, these items exist as well. In the warrior realm, Babydoll is told what she needs to get in order to be free. She has to get a map, fire, a key, a knife and solve a mystery. In the warrior realm, she learns to be a fighter and how to get these items. Then she shifts back into the brothel realm and one of the women on her team has gotten the item. I don’t want to give everything away so I won’t go too much into how that’s all accomplished.

Most of the movie plays out in what you might call a, “collect the coupons” style. They have to get a thing, they get a thing, then that leads to another thing. Only after they have all the things, can the story continue. In this case, obviously, the point is for Babydoll to get all the stuff and escape the mental institution in real life. It seems like she’s able to accomplish it all in the brothel realm, with some sacrifice occurring, but it’s less clear whether or not she can do this in reality.

I’m not going to let you know if she escapes or what happens in the end, you’ll have to watch for yourself to find out. But I did have a few questions and comments about the movie.

  1. I’m really tired of the trope of evil mental institutions. So many movies and television shows do this. If a mental institution of the type depicted in these movies existed in reality, they would be shut down in a heartbeat. I’m not saying abuses don’t occur in existing institutions, that obviously happens, but the vast majority of people who work in this field, are legitimately trying to help people overcome their illness. Now, I know this is a really stylized movie and you can say that this is just fictional and makes for a good story. I understand that argument but I find it hard to believe that any current institution would do a lobotomy. It’s not a procedure, if you can even call it that, that makes any sense. And the institution looks grimy and run down and it’s just obvious there are abuses everywhere. This type of institution occurred in the early days of mental health but we are long past all that. This is just a pet peeve of mine but why do so many filmmakers take the lazy way out and use a mental institution to portray menace? It’s old, it’s boring, and it’s inaccurate if you put it in the modern era.
  2. Leaving all that aside, the things that Babydoll has to get in order to escape the institution make no sense from a logical point of view. She has to get a map. The map is a blueprint of the institution that Blue keeps in his office. Why in the world, would that map be framed in his office? If it’s a plan in case of fire escape, that would be posted everywhere for anyone in the institution to see. If it’s a blueprint of the actual building, there is no logic to keeping that in your office. It would be an obvious way for someone to figure out an escape.
  3. The key doesn’t make any sense either. Blue wears a master key to all doors around his neck. While this might make sense in the Brothel realm, it makes no sense in the institution. Weirdly, the key is not on Blue in the Brothel realm, but is on his neck in reality. If you work in a mental institution, especially one that might have residents who could reasonably attack you, jewelry would not be allowed for the staff for obvious reasons. So why in the hell would you wear a freaking master key around your neck where anyone could grab it? That makes no sense.
  4. The fire also makes no sense. In reality an orderly has a Zippo lighter that he fiddles with. Babydoll wants it to start a fire with so that the doors would be unlocked. No way this item is allowed in a mental institution, again for extremely obvious reasons. If a staff member is a smoker, it would be expected that they go outside to do that and have their lighters, cigars, cigarettes or whatever out there. Now you might think that the orderly could still have sneaked it in, and you would have a point. But then it makes no sense that he is playing with it. Why would you allow a lighter in this place?
  5. The one item that does make sense is the knife. They get that from the kitchen staff and clearly you need knives to cook. What doesn’t make sense is that the chef wears a knife belt around himself. It’s not like having the knife holstered at your back is logical for a chef. Why didn’t the chef us a knife block or something similar?
  6. Despite all that, if you can get past these things, and enjoy the movie, it’s not a bad time. I’ve certainly seen worse movies but I do wish Zack Snyder had done like, twenty minutes of googling on mental institutions and thought about the logic of some of these things.
  7. When Babydoll starts dancing in the Brothel realm, all the men seem to get hypnotized, and can’t look away from here. What kind of incredible dance moves does she have? No idea because they always cut away to the Warrior realm when she starts dancing. From what I can tell, her dance mostly involves her slowly moving her shoulders and walking slightly forward. Couldn’t they have shown the dance once? I mean come on.
  8. I think the most enjoyable part of this was the whole Warrior realm where there is lots of action and cool effects. Babydoll and her team seem to exist in a kind of steampunk world where there are zombie soldiers, giant robots, orcs, dragons, bombs, and samurai. I want to see that movie. Could we just have that movie start to end? We could forget all the other stuff and maybe get some actual character development and then this wouldn’t just look good but might also be good. Can we get that please?
  9. Like a lot of other movies that choose style over substance, (I am thinking of Suicide Squad in particular) the soundtrack is phenomenal. There is really good music here and it pairs well with the visuals. It makes me feel frustrated that it wasn’t a better movie because of that.
  10. I understand a lot of what the movie was trying to convey. The men in the movie were all horrible people, with one single exception. The women are abused in reality and in the Brothel realm but get to be amazing fighters in the warrior realm. I respect the intent, but it comes off as pretty much cartoonish. Look, there is a man, he is evil with a capital E. There is nothing more there. The women are good with a capital G. I’m not saying this type of characterization never works, but this film didn’t spend enough time building it up so it doesn’t work. Snyder should have spent his time thinking less about how things look and more about what the characters are about for this movie to make sense.

Now, it might sound like I just utterly hated this movie. I didn’t. I really think the visuals are interesting. None of the actors put in poor performances. The soundtrack is amazing. But, it never comes together. There’s just not enough story here. All style, no substance. If you are looking for a movie that you don’t need to think too much about, that has plenty of interesting action, and is for the most part predictable, it’s a decent time.

Stylishly 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 10

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, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born and role playing a gnome. Today we are going to talk about playing characters caught between two worlds, Half-Elves.

Half-Elfs are what they sound like. They are half human and half elf. While they carry some of the traits of elves, they also carry some of the traits of humans. In Dungeons & Dragons they don’t quite fit in with human society and they don’t quite fit in with elves either. Oddly, half-elves who grow up in human communities tend to have elvish names while half-elves growing up in elvish society tend to take human names. This isn’t set in stone or anything, and a kid could play a half-elf with either a human or elvish name, depending on what they want.

One of the interesting things about this playable race is that they tend to take on only the better parts of both humans and elves. They are graceful and in tune with nature, like elves, while still being curious and inventive like humans.

A lot of fantasy stories have been written about creatures like half-elves, where there tends to be an internal struggle in the character, trying to understand just how they fit into the world. As far as kids go, there are a couple of ways to look at this. For some kids this will be too much to take in and be able to role play well. Kids don’t have to be great role players to have fun though, so if they want to be a half-elf, my advice is to let them be a half-elf. On the other hand, this type of situation is very relatable to a lot of children. There are kids who have split families and need to understand what their role is on one side and what it is on the other. Divorced parents see this all the time. Rules are different in different households and a different side of a kid’s personality may come out depending on where they are at. The same goes for kids who might be biracial or mixed race who just want to understand both sides of their own heritage. This can hold true for all kinds of situations for kids. They know that they act one way at school and another at home. For some kids role playing something like a half-elf where you get to be on the good side of both halves of yourself can be extremely rewarding. The kid who shows up to obey mom’s rules in one house and knows his other mom is a little more relaxed on the rules at her house still sees himself as a good person in both places. He knows he might have to be diplomatic in certain situations and usually has a pretty good idea what the consequences of acting one way or another will be, no matter which house he finds himself in at the time.

Half-elves are all about being diplomatic. They can walk between multiple viewpoints because that is how they are made. In the game rules it says that half-elves are great diplomats, with the exception of between humans and elves. The reason, so the rules state, is that elves and humans always assume the half-elf favors the other side. I’ll be honest here, this has always kind of bothered me. I don’t see why either humans or elves couldn’t trust a half-elf to be diplomatic. If anything, they should be able to understand both points of view better than either race alone. Whether or not they are good at being diplomatic should really be based on what the character does, rather than who they are. That’s just my opinion though.

The rules say that this playable race is fairly uncommon but they’re not so uncommon that they would be a complete novelty to anyone really. To humans they look elvish while elves think they look human. They usually have the pointy ears of elves but are also able to grow facial hair, unlike elves.

They tend to be around five to six feet tall and weigh between 100 and 180 pounds. In other words, they tend to be average weight and height for a thin human or a somewhat stocky elf.

The rules also mention that half-elves can tend to be wanderers rather than diplomats. They try to find other half-elves to associate with but if that is too difficult they might live off the land as hunter gatherers. Or even blend into a city as a human and maybe even become a thief or swindler. That last one is not my favorite for kids to play unless they are playing the rogue class, which we’ll get into when we go over classes.

Playing a diplomat or a wanderer can be challenging for some kids but if it sparks their imagination, let them have at it. For some kids it’s a great entry point into the game and you’d be surprised at just how creative kids can be at trying to stop a fight before it happens in the game. I will say that if a kid is going to play the wanderer type, you might want them to have in mind that through the course of the game, that wanderer will come to have and depend on friends. The game is collaborative so if you have a half-elf who just wants to be alone in the woods all the time, that can make it difficult for anything to happen to that character. Having that character going from fiercely independent to accepting of a group of friends is really satisfying though and can be seen in tons of popular media.

Some people, and this is mostly adults, just want to play half-elves for some of the game mechanic benefits you get for that. I have no problem with people doing that if that’s what they want. But I will say that I don’t think that’s the best reason for a kid to play this playable race though. If they are intrigued by the idea of being a half-elf and really think it’s interesting, by all means they should play one. But if they love the idea of being a gnome or halfling or whatever but say they want to be a half-elf simply because they get some interesting bonuses down the line, I would discourage that. They can always make a new character later if they end up unhappy but I have just found that it’s better to go with what sparks the imagination than what might add up to a better dice roll.

And with that bit of advice, let’s get into the traits.

Half-Elf Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a Half-Elf.

Ability Score Increase

As I said above, half-elves can be very diplomatic. For that reason you get to add 2 to your charisma score. Half-elves are also partly human, which means they get some fierce independence. For that reason you get to choose two other ability scores and increase those by 1. Which scores a kid might want to boost here will depend on a lot of factors, one of the major ones being what class they play. I don’t have a general recommendation of what to increase here because it really does matter if you are going to be a wizard, or a fighter or a cleric or.. well you get the point. If your kid already knows what class she is going to play, I would recommend she boost the most important ability for that class. For example if you are playing a half-elf wizard, your spell casting is going to rely on intelligence and that’s what you should increase. If you don’t know the class yet, don’t worry about what to boost at this point.

Age

Half-elves grow at the pace that humans do, so they are more or less adults by age 20. The real difference is that they live much longer than most humans and can easily become older than 180 in their lifetime.

Alignment

Honestly, the entry here in the basic rules is contradictory. They talk about how half-elves can make great diplomats yet they say this – “Half-elves share the chaotic bent of their elven heritage. They value both personal freedom and creative expression, demonstrating neither love of leaders nor desire for followers. They chafe at rules, resent others’ demands, and sometimes prove unreliable, or at least unpredictable.” I don’t see how chafing at rules and resenting demands (unless they are unjust) and being unreliable or unpredictable gets you anywhere in diplomatic circles. It’s contradictions like this one that make a lot of Dungeon Masters not want to use alignment at all. Everyone is nuanced in the real world and you might make the right choice in one situation but not in another. So while the rules say that Half-elves trend toward chaotic, make sure that makes sense with the character your kid is playing if you use alignment at all.

Size

As I said above half-elves basically are between the size of humans and elves. For game play purposes your size is medium.

Speed

Half-elves are somewhat fleet of foot but by no means the fastest creature in the game. They get a walking speed of 30 feet.

Darkvision

This is the same as what elves and a lot of other playable races get but it’s still really handy. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Fey Ancestry

This is also something elves get. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep. There are quite a few times that monsters or other enemies might try to charm the characters so having defense against that is pretty good. Defending against magic that puts you to sleep is also helpful, especially if the rest of the party succumbs to one of those spells.

Skill Versatility

You gain proficiency in two skills of your choice. It’s okay if you don’t quite know what this means yet but there are several skills that a player character can have. Most of them are pretty self explanatory, such as stealth or acrobatics. Your kid just gets to choose two of those skills they get to be especially good at. This comes from the human side of the half-elf characters.

Languages

Half-elves are pretty smart so they get to speak common, elvish and one extra language. If you have a half-elf in your party and you know for example that the campaign is all about giants, you might have the half-elf know how to speak giant. It makes for much smoother communication.

There are not any subraces for half-elves in the basic rules. I think this is because you get a hefty amount of bonuses and flexibility in the game mechanics with being a half-elf. For this reason I am not going over any subraces for this entry.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Half-Elves

As a player, I find this one to be tricky to pull off. Lucky for me, I mostly choose to be the Dungeon Master anyway. But kids can really get into this type of character. It will, as always, depend on the kid. If they love the idea of being caught between two worlds, learning to make friends after being an independent loner, or are really into the idea of smoothing over a situation before it gets out of hand, half-elves are for them. They get to be graceful and in tune with nature when they want to be but can also have the impulsiveness and energetic spirit of being human whenever they want. It’s a nuanced type of character and can mean you and your kid really need to nail down what the character is all about before getting all the way into it.

My biggest recommendation on this one is to ask why the kid wants to play a half-elf. If they just think half-elves are cool, that is an awesome reason to be a half-elf. If they say that they are looking forward to the mechanical bonus you get down the line, that may not be the best of reasons to take on this playable race. I like to let kids play whatever playable race they want but I usually want to know their motivation on it because that helps me to be a better Dungeon Master for them. I will say, I do find the mechanical bonus issue to appear more in older kids, usually because they are more familiar with the rules and are quicker with the bit of math that goes along with it. And if they are really insistent that they want to play a half-elf because of those bonuses and no other playable race will do, that’s okay too. You just have to realize the role playing moments might be a bit tougher to come by in that case.

Half-elves can be super interesting and they’re actually one of my favorite type of character to watch adults play. If you watch Critical Role, you know about Vax and Vex and how nuanced they can get. For kids, it can be a challenge, but depending on their situation it may be the absolute best fit.

I hope you enjoyed this post and got something useful out of it. Next time I am going to be back to talk about my favorite playable race to be when I am a player, the Half-Orc. They’re almost the complete opposite of Half-elves which can make for some fun stuff. They do have their issues too so I hope you’ll be back to read what I have to say on it.

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!

Winchester – #MovieReview

Hey all you spooky spirits out there, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another movie review for you all. This time I am reviewing Winchester, the movie about Sarah Winchester, her extremely bizarre house, the 1906 earthquake, and the deadly weapon she and her family profited from financially, the Winchester repeating rifle.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers below so if you want to watch this before reading the review, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay, back now? Good.

The actual history of the Winchester house is incredibly interesting and if you ever happen to be in San Jose, California, it’s a must tour attraction. I promise you there are absolutely no other houses like it on the entire planet. If you are lucky enough to take the tour, you will learn that Sarah Winchester was subject to several tragedies in her life. Her husband died and so did her only child. She did have a niece named Marion and Marion had a son named Henry. The movie proclaims that the house is still one of the most haunted mansions in North America. I’ll leave that up to debate as I tend to be pretty far on the skeptical scale when it comes to things like that. I’m not saying there aren’t supernatural things, or that people haven’t seen them, I’m just saying I would need to see a lot more solid evidence myself, first hand to be all in on it.

That being said, if anyone did have a reason to be haunted it was Sarah Winchester. The guns that her husband made and profited from killed hundreds of thousands of people in her life time and played a huge part in the civil war. The Winchester rifles were the gun of choice for the Union Army, and they were also used to slaughter and intimidate Indigenous People. That’s not including simple random gun violence where innocent people might have been killed by the lethal Winchester.

Sarah felt a huge amount of guilt over the fact that her family profited from this and long held the belief that she was cursed. She also very much believed in Mediums who could channel spirits and communicate with the dead. This was actually a fairly popular belief in the early 1900’s in California. Sarah was absolutely convinced that she was cursed and that the ghosts of those who were killed by Winchesters were haunting her.

While all that is interesting, and is touched on in the film, here’s the part that I think is the most intriguing. She thought that the best way to get rid of these ghosts was to constantly add to her house, adding, removing and remodeling at all hours of the day, seven days a week. She supposedly had these fits where she would sketch out rooms that she thought the ghosts were telling her to make. Being no dummy, she didn’t want the ghosts to just roam freely so she came up with utterly bizarre rooms as well. She thought this could trap or confuse the ghosts. Some of them you see in the movie but definitely not all of them. The film features the famous “stairs that go nowhere”. This is a staircase that literally leads to the ceiling with no way out. They also feature the swinging chandelier that is alleged to move when no one is in the room and there is no wind or anything that would cause it to move. They don’t include my favorite room (or at least I don’t think it was in the movie) which is just a room that has a floor made of trap doors. According to the tour, these rooms were meant to confuse the spirits but the movie has a little different take on it, saying that Sarah would build a room that she saw in a vision and then remove it once the spirit is freed. I don’t know if that’s true or not but it sort of makes sense.

Now that I have given you a mini-lesson on the history of the house, let me tell you about the movie. At the start of the movie we meet Dr. Eric Price. He’s recovering from a traumatic event involving himself, his wife, and a Winchester rifle. I won’t go into more detail on that in case you still haven’t watched the movie.

The good doctor has been medicating his pains with alcohol, women and opiates. He gets a knock on his door and is promptly hired by the Winchester Repeating Rifle company. See, there is a bit of a power struggle between Sarah and the other shareholders of her company. She owns 51% of the company so what she says goes. She wants the company to start making things like roller skates instead of guns. The board of directors realize that Sarah is exhibiting, eccentric, to say the least, behavior. They want Sarah evaluated by a psychiatrist who can evaluate her mental state. If she is declared mentally unwell, she no longer has her stake in the company.

Most of the plot goes in a direction you might expect. The film comes down very solidly on there actually being ghosts haunting the place. The doctor starts seeing odd things while he is there to do his evaluation and tries to just ignore it as a side effect of withdrawal. Sarah proves herself to be every bit as odd as was expected, but so many strange things happen, it’s hard for the doctor to doubt her.

While there, Marion experiences some pretty harrowing events involving Henry. He falls out of a window and at one point even attacks Sarah with a rifle. The movie plays it that Henry was possessed.

Now I am going to spoil one big detail so if you really want to watch this first, do so and come back here.

Okay back?

The center piece of the movie is when a ghost seems to invade the house, in a room full of Winchester guns. This haunting is so bad that the whole house shakes, people die, and plenty of damage is done. The movie pretty much tells us that this supernatural event is what tore up the house.

But here’s the thing. This movie takes place in 1906. That’s the year of the famous San Francisco earthquake that led to a ton of destruction and devastation. People died, buildings collapsed, fires raged for weeks after. It would have been a cataclysmic nightmare for anyone affected by it. And one thing we know for absolute certain? They epicenter was not The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose California. It was clearly centered just west of San Francisco, which is nearly an hour long drive from San Jose.

I think this is why critics actually hated this movie. While Helen Mirran’s performance is a little odd and even at times comical, she was playing an extremely eccentric woman. The doctor with his backstory is pretty far fetched but I can understand why they threw that in the movie. It made for good dramatic effect. But to imply that this haunting caused the 1906 earthquake? That’s pretty far off base both metaphorically and geographically.

Now, it is an absolute fact that the house did sustain damage during that quake. There is no question about that, and I do believe some workers there even died. This was back before buildings were required to be retrofitted to withstand earthquakes so a house even sort of near the epicenter certainly could have sustained a good amount of damage and a large house like the Winchester one, with all its construction happening was virtually guaranteed to take damage.

The story unfolds in it’s natural conclusion, which I won’t spoil here, other than to say it’s extremely predictable. But here’s the thing. I still think you should watch it. I think this is probably the only film I will ever say this for but don’t watch it for the story, or the time period, or the acting. Why should you watch it? For the architecture. I don’t know how much of this was allowed to be filmed on site and how much they reconstructed but watching the movie is nearly as dizzying as going through the house itself. There are nearly 100 rooms, all of them unique and strange. We only see a fraction of that, but it’s enough to give you a sense of how odd it is.

After you watch the movie, whenever it’s open again, go and take a tour of Winchester Mystery House. It’s absolutely fascinating and one of the oddest tours you can find yourself on.

Mysteriously 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 9

Gnome
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, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human and role playing a dragon born. Today we are going to talk about playing the smallest and most full of life character race, gnomes.

If you think about gnomes outside of Dungeons & Dragons, a few things probably come to mind. You might be thinking of the annoying little gnomes that Ron, Harry and Hermione enjoyed tossing out of the Weasley’s garden. You might be thinking of the vicious gnomes that show up in Grimm’s Fairy Tales or you might be thinking of the little cutesy lawn gnomes that keep watch over your grandmother’s house. When it comes to D&D, that’s all sort of accurate with the game, except that the gnomes don’t tend to be mean spirited or especially annoying and they can be cunning warriors, excellent wizards or even mighty paladins. On second thought, D&D gnomes are really unlike any of the ones you are probably familiar with. The good news is, I’m here to tell you about playing a gnome and why this can be a great character race for a kid to play into, especially if they love to make jokes or puns.

Gnomes live for centuries. Anywhere between three and five hundred years is average for them. Unlike elves, who tend to take the time to slowly savor the world, gnomes feel like they need to make maximum use out of their time and live life to the absolute fullest extent they can. For this reason, they tend to make great adventurers. They really want to get out int the world and see everything there is to see. If there is a quest to kill a dragon, a gnome will want to go, not for treasure, not for violence, but because they have never actually seen one and who wouldn’t want to do that?

Gnomes also tend to be pretty upbeat and cheerful which can be a whole lot of fun to play both as a character and as a nonplayer character if you have one in your game. I always like to have a gnome I can play at some point in my game and I’ll tell you why in a little bit.

Gnomes have a refreshing take on life because they love to joke around but they are also able to get down to business when the stakes are high. They take well to tasks they set out to do. While some set out to become wealthy, and they have a love of gems, their true passion really is just the experience of life. They do live underground but they are likely to be found outside more often than dwarves tend to be. Gnomes can be found as any of the character classes in the rules but they do make especially good bards, wizards and paladins. They even do pretty well as rogues considering their small stature and the ability they have to sneak around when needed.

Gnomes love to joke, play pranks, and make puns. I am a dad and being a dad means that you are legally required to make a certain number of dad jokes, silly pranks and bad puns per year. I get the majority of mine in when I put a gnome NPC in the game. Why? Well, then it’s not dad telling the joke right? It’s the gnome! Okay, so my kid still rolls his eyes at the jokes but I enjoy it anyway. A gnome is a great comedic vehicle when you need oneand that’s how I use it but of course you don’t need to do that if you don’t want to.

Before we get into all the ability bonuses and stuff you get for being a gnome, I want to take a minute and talk about gnome names. In the basic rules they tell you that gnomes love to have a ton of names. They have so many names it’s hard for humans to keep track of what they should be called. But the gnomes always pick the names that they think are the most fun to say. Now usually I would say just name characters whatever you want, and that’s still true in this case but I am also going to give you another great source of gnome name inspiration. The master of all time at fun sounding names is one, Dr. Seuss. When looking for gnome names, his books are a gold mine. Barholomew Cubbins? Cindy Lou Who? Benjamin B. Bicklebaum? Oh those are such gnome names. And those are ones you have probably heard of. Look for some of the more obscure ones if you need to and I promise you are going to find a name that is fun to say.

Gnome Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a gnome

Ability Score Increase

Gnomes take quickly to the things they learn and they have a long lifespan of experience to draw from. For that reason they get to add 2 to their Intelligence score

Age

As I said above gnomes live 300-500 years or so but they age at the same pace as humans and are considered adults around age 40.

Alignment

If you use alignment in your game, gnomes tend toward the good side. This is pretty good news for the rest of the world because they can be a bit mischievous and like to play tricks on others.

Size

Gnomes are the smallest of the playable races in the basic rules. They stand only 3-4 feet tall and are very light usually coming in around 40 pounds. For game purposes your size is small.

Speed

Gnomes aren’t exceedingly fast but they are not exceptionally slow either. Their speed is 25 feet.

Darkvision

Since gnomes live underground they are pretty used to seeing in the dark. For this reason they get darkvision which means you can see out to 60 feet as if it were bright light while in dim light and in darkness you see out to 60 feet as if it were dim light.

Gnome Cunning

Gnomes can be smart, wise and charming so they get to have advantage on saving throws with these traits when a magic spell using one of them calls for it. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what that means yet, just know that gnomes are resistant to a lot of types of magic but certainly not all types.

Languages

Gnomes are fluent in common and gnomish. Gnomish is fairly complex due to the fact that gnomes live so long and learn so much but it still uses dwarvish script when written. Other creatures are able to learn gnomish but gnomes don’t necessarily share the language easily with anyone unless they are very close to them.

Subraces

I just discovered something odd when doing my research for this post. I look at the rules that are posted on D&D Beyond for the basic rules. In there they mention two subraces, the rock gnomes and the forest gnomes. However, they only explain the rock gnomes in there. So, in case you want to play one, I have done the research and I can share with you what the forest gnomes are like as well.

Forest Gnomes

Forest gnomes are quick and stealthy. They have a knack for illusion as well. They are also in tune with the forestand the animals that live in it.

Ability Score Increase

You get to increase your dexterity score by 1.

Natural Illusionist

You know the minor illusion cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it. Basically what this means is that your gnome can cast a spell where you can cast asmall but pretty convincing illusion. This is a surprisingly useful spell and I have had a lot of interesting role play moments because of the spell so it can be quite fun to have.

Speak With Small Beasts

Forest gnomes love animals and animals love them right back. For that reason, forest gnomes can speak with any animal that is size small or smaller. They have to do it through sounds and gestures but communication is quite possible among gnomes and animals.

Rock Gnomes

Rock gnomes are the most common type of gnome in D&D. They are hardy and inventive.

Ability Score Increase

Because they are hardy, rock gnomes get to increase their constitution score by 1. This just means it’s harder for them to get sick or poisoned.

Artificer’s Lore

This one is a little wonky but it’s cool. here’s what the rules say exactly: Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to magic items, alchemical objects, or technological devices, you can add twice your proficiency bonus, instead of any proficiency bonus you normally apply. Now, I know that sounds confusing but here is the takeaway, when a gnome is looking at magical, alchemical, or technological stuff, they know more about it than others would. The reason is pretty obvious, gnomes live a long time and love to learn, so they know stuff.

Tinker

This one is pretty cool too. Basically a gnome can spend 10 gold and one hour and make a clockwork device. That’s as long as they have artisan’s tinker tools. Most gnomes do so that shouldn’t really be an issue. The device will stop working after 24 hours unless it is repaired. The gnome can also choose to take it apart and recover the parts of it. they are allowed to have up to 3 of these at a time.

If you are thinking that a gnome could make anything with this, that is not quite true. There are only three types of devices that can be made in this way.

Clockwork toy: This is basically a wind up toy that can be in the shape of a bunch of different stuff. The rules set limits but I don’t think you need to restrict it too much unless your kid wants it to be a tank with full fire power or something like that. If you are wondering what use these could possibly be you have clearly not played D&D before. These toys make great gifts to little kids the characters meet, they can be an excellent way to distract an unobservant guard, and maybe most importantly, they can be used to check if the floor has any traps set into it.

Fire Starter: This device produces a miniature flame. It’s good for lighting candles, torches or campfires. Personally, I think this one is less fun than the clockwork toy but it can come in handy when there are no other light orfire sources available.

Music Box: This is just your basic music box. It plays one song when open. It can also be used in some creative ways and as a distraction if done well, but the clockwork toy is still my favorite of the three.

Deep Gnomes

There is technically another type of gnome called the deep gnome or svirfneblin. They live in the underdark, in the same place dark elves live. They tend to still be good, but they have a lot less humor to them. I don’t strongly recommend this subrace for kids but if they really really want to play it, just remind the kid that these gnomes are still kind and good and want to help.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Gnomes

Gnomes can be a huge amount of fun for a kid to play. They get to be kind, caring, inquisitive and have a sense of humor. If you have a kid who likes to tell jokes, play pranks, or say puns, the gnome option is perfect. Even if your kid doesn’t want to tell jokes and all that, but wishes to play a character that loves life, this is an excellent choice. Most kids love life and they are natural learners so they identify well with gnomes.

Of course they can be played any way you and your kid wants them to be played. Maybe they do want to play the only bored gnome in existence. Or one that has zero sense of humor. That’s totally fine, each character is always an individual, just make sure you understand what direction your kid wants to take it when they start out.

As a Dungeon Master, I think gnomes are really fun to play. They can take the most mundane item and give a three hour lecture on it, all while keeping the crowd entertained. This can be a little challenging to role play, so one thing you may want to do is look up some jokes ahead of time. Got one you have been waiting to tell your kid? Drop it on them in the guise of a gnome character and see what kind of a reaction you get. You might be surprised to see that a joke that normally gets a groan will get a laugh in the game. Try to have fun with it. I also think gnomes make pretty good merchant characters. They can go on and on about an item they are going to sell to the party and gnomes tend to be nice so you don’t have the problem of a store keeper who really doesn’t want to be there.

As always, it’s up to you how you do it, this is just the way I like to run gnomes.

I hope you found this post useful and picked up one or two tips for playing in your own game.

Next time we will get into how to play a Half-Elf.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

skull-splitter metal dice

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Petr – #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

After years of living in his grandfather’s shadow Petr Drexel, a member of the space-faring nomadic Star Folk, is on a quest to prove his worth to himself and his family. On his first job, Petr’s shuttle is shot out of the sky in the middle of a Martian civil war. Ship repairs put Petr in debt to Alfred Zwinger, who offers Petr a deal he can’t refuse: pay off the debt by completing jobs for a powerful Martian noble named Rickard d’Helion.

During his first job for d’Helion Petr’s shuttle is stolen by Henrietta, a Star Folk Navigator on the run. Petr retrieves his shuttle only to discover the work he was hired for isn’t as simple as it seems. Deliver mining equipment – and fight off an army to protect the site; capture a rogue Star Folk mech pilot – only to discover it’s Henrietta’s brother, and that Henrietta isn’t who she appears to be. Petr and his motley crew quickly become entangled in solar system spanning intrigue, and now Petr’s problem is no longer just paying off his debt, but whether he will survive at all.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

Petr Drexel needs to prove himself worthy of his tribe and his family name. He is a space pilot and on his very first job, his shuttle is shot out of the sky, making it a whole lot more difficult for him to earn a living, let alone a name for himself. Repairing his ship puts him in debt to a wealthy merchant named Alred Zwinger. Petr finds three mercenaries and a navigator who may be hiding secrets to accompany him. Together the team travels throughout the galaxy, performing jobs big and small, from recovering lost goods to stopping highly skilled thieves. As the jobs play out, it becomes more obvious that there is something going on behind the scenes and Petr is determined to find out what that is.

The book is action packed and a fun ride. It’s the story of nomadic viking tribes in space which makes for some entertaining situations. Petr is a charismatic leader and his band of mercenaries provide for not only enjoyable action but humorous scenes as well. The problems in the book stack up for Petr as not only is he indebted to a ruthless loan shark, his shuttle is stole right from under his nose.

At times the politics of the space galaxy could get confusing in the story and it wasn’t always clear what those politics meant for Petr. However, the rest of the book makes up for it with plenty of space fights, power armor, and intrigue. The story of how the mercenaries come to respect and trust Petr is interesting and plays out naturally. There is even a romantic entanglement to deal with. The combination provides for a story that is well worth reading.

If you enjoy military space fiction or books that deal with explorers and mercenaries traversing new territory while trying to survive, then Petr is for you.

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!

The Institute – #BookReview

Hello out there all you horror fans, it’s me Slick Dungeon, back with a review of a book from the master of horror, Stephen King. This time I am reviewing The Institute, a novel about kids with psychic abilities and what happens to them after they are kidnapped and taken to the eponymous Institute.

SYNOPSIS

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

To say that the book is gripping would be an understatement. King hooks the reader in with threads of people who seem to have nothing to do with each other but in as the reader we know there must be a reason we are introduced to these characters. By the end the reader is fully invested and the action never slows or disappoints.

Luke Ellis is a child genius. He’s able to ace the SAT with hardly breaking a sweat, he is able to get accepted into two Ivy League schools, and sometimes, just occasionally, he can knock and empty pizza platter off of a table with his mind. He’s twelve years old. To him, the least interesting thing about him is his mild telekinetic ability.

Meanwhile we meet Tim Jamieson who makes a sudden and possibly irrational decision to get off of a flight to New York and go wandering for a while. He ends up in DuPray, South Carolina, where he becomes what is known as a night knocker. This is sort of like a police officer, but it’s more like a security guard who walks around town, making sure nothing terrible is happening to disturb the peace of the quiet town. Little does he know it, but eventually, Tim and Luke’s fate will collide.

Luke wakes one day to find himself in a room that is almost his, but not quite. It turns out he has been kidnapped and he is in what is known as the Front Half of “The Institute”. Here kids are kept and fed and experimented on. The people who took Luke don’t care that he is a genius, they only care about his psychic abilities. That’s an unfortunate mistake for them because if anyone can get out of the place and expose what is going on, it’s Luke with his genius level intellect. Only, he will need to do it before he is taken to Back Half. The kids who go there, never are seen again.

Of course, since this is a King book, there are moments that are truly and genuinely terrifying and might just give you nightmares. The book reminds me very much of Firestarter or even Carrie when it comes to kids and psychic abilities but it has it’s own flavor to it. In my opinion it’s one of the better recent Stephen King books and doesn’t suffer from a poor ending the way some of his work can. It left me wanting more and hoping that there might be a sequel. Psychic abilities is a subject that King likes to delve into a lot, from Danny Torrence in The Shining to The Institute and I feel like they all intersect in one way or another. I kept imagining what would happen if little Danny had been taken to the Institute instead of to the Overlook hotel or if the kids in the Institute had gone to that haunted hotel. Whatever the case, if King writes about these psychic abilities, I am all in because it always delivers a great story.

If you like Stephen King at all, pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.

Institutionally 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!

Bulbbul – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another review of a film, this time, a horror/supernatural film from India called Bulbbul. This is on Netflix right now and although the plot can be somewhat predictable here, if you don’t watch any other movie on Netflix, you should check this one out. There will be very mild spoilers here but I definitely won’t give much away as far as plot, but then again, it won’t really have any twists or turns that knock you out of your seat anyway.

The plot centers around the titular character Bulbbul. At the beginning of the film she is a child bride in the 1880s during the Bengal presidency. Bulbbul is so young in fact, when she is wed, that she mistakes her brother-in-law who is around her age, for her husband, who is significantly older. Her husband, Indranil, also has a twin brother named Mahendra. Both characters are played by Rahul Bose, while Bulbbul is played by Tripti Dimri. Bulbbul, lost in her new surroundings finds some solace in her companion Satya, Indranil’s youngest brother. Satya is played by Avinash Tiwary. Satya tells Bulbbul stories about a witch who haunts the woods they live in. Bulbbul and Satya become virtually inseperable, which causes conflict with Indranil. I’m not going to go much more into the plot other than to say, you can see that it is a story of a romance that is not allowed to be, against the backdrop of supernatural events and the abuses of men who think they can get away with harming women and children.

If that plot is sounding tried and true and like it might not be worth watching, I would say you may have a point. However, the cinematography in this film is breathtakingly beautiful. Honestly, I don’t know if I have seen a better use of color palette in a film. From the very beginning credits, it’s clear how gorgeous this movie is going to be. When supernatural events occur, the screen is awash in deep reds, and even when it’s more of a normal situation, the beauty of the scenery is something to behold. The only time the camera seems to see things in actual real colors and tones is in the scenes between Satya and Bulbbul. It provides an anchor to an otherwise fairy tale or dreamlike quality that the movie has. The acting is engaging and there are no poor performances anywhere to be found. Tripti herself is especially fascinating to watch.

There are moments in the film that remind me slightly of the book Dracula and I think that’s intentional by the filmmakers but it works. The frequent use of flash backs and flash forwards is a little disorienting at times and I’m not sure how much the film benefits from that decision but at all points during the film, there is so much for the eyes to take in, it’s nearly impossible to look away. We can all feel for the plight of Bulbbul and empathize with what happens next but the real triumph of the film is its ability to mix its social commentary with the utter beauty of the film itself. You will sometimes hear film makers remind audiences that movies are a visual medium. This movie proves how true that is.

If you are not sure about this one, just sit down and watch it for a few minutes. If you are not utterly stunned by the masterful cinematography, deep performances, or beautiful music, nothing on film will truly impress you. Bulbbul is technically in the supernatural/horror genre but I think it’s more on the line of a fairy tale, just one of the darker ones. There isn’t much need of blood or gore here, and there is at leas one scene with almost none of that that disturbed me immensely and it’s a scene that I will still think about a long time from now. And as horrific as it was, it still made use of that masterful cinematography I was talking about. If you sit through the movie, I guarantee it will stay with you too.

Visually yours,

Slick Dungeon

July 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my July 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. For that reason, you’ll see two books that were on my June TBR showing up on my July TBR. I do my best to get through, but there’s only so much time. This month I plan to go through everything from horrific government experiments to science fiction classics to animal adventures. Check out my list and let me know what you think.

  1. The Institute by Stephen King

I’m a little more than half way through this one and I am loving it so far. Expect a review up on my site soon. This is about a secret “Institute” where kids with psychic abilities are basically being used as lab rats and weapons. As you might imagine with Stephen King there is plenty of horror included, as well as plenty of heart.

2. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This my next read after The Institute. It’s the first in the Wheel of Time series and I am really looking forward to reading it, especially with the Amazon show on the horizon. It’s the first in a series of epic fantasy books that I am ready to take my first real dive into.

3. Eirwen and Fridis by C.S. Watts

This is book one in a fantasy series starting animals, akin to Watership Down or Wind in the Willows. I have begun this book and so far it has started to grow on me, so I am really curious to see where it goes. I will also be reviewing this for the website Reedsy so you can expect a review, but not until this one goes public on that site. It should still happen in July though.

4. The Invasion of Aeronbed by C.S. Watts

This is the sequel to Eirwen and Fridis and is the second part in a seven book series called The Ravenstones. I can’t really pre-judge this one since I haven’t finished the first book but the review for it will appear about a week after I review Eirwen and Fridis both here and on Reedsy.

5. Lies, Inc. by Phillip K. Dick

Phillip K. Dick is my favorite science fiction writer that a lot of people have never heard of but most of us have seen a story by. If you loved the film Bladerunner or Total Recall, you can thank Phillip K. Dick. Total Recall is based on a short story called We Can Remember It for You Wholesale while Bladerunner is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Okay, so maybe Dick is not the best at good titles for his stories, but they are always odd and interesting and tend to influence a ton of science fiction storytelling both in literature and film. Lies Inc. is about an overpopulated Earth where people get teleported to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious emigres. It’s supposed to be an examination of totalitarianism, reality and hallucination. To me it sounds highly relevant to our time period and I am very curious to find out.

6. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Honestly, I am not sure if I will make it to this one in the month of July but I am going to try. If I don’t make it, this will be at the top of the August TBR list for me.

This is the first in the Broken Earth series and won the Hugo award. It’s the story of how the world ends, for the final time. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series but I haven’t ever had the chance to pick it up until now. I’m looking forward to it. The author says she likes to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and I really want to see how that is handled because that can either be done extremely well or extremely poorly in fiction. From all the accolades that the series has gotten, I am betting this is done extremely well.

Well, there you have it, that’s my list for the month. I am unfortunately one of those people who absolutely loves long books, long series, and is also a slow reader. It makes for a hard life but a lot of time spent enjoying good books.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly 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 Garden and Other Stories – #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

With The Garden and other stories, his first exciting collection, author Aaron Ramos skilfully weaves tales of powerful human emotion, modern scientific concepts, and ancient myths and legends within eight beautifully diverse stories.

In Elevated, a young man living in a dystopian future struggles with personal development and romance. In Zero, an elderly woman is confronted with a robotic visitation in small town America. By the Light of the Fire is one woman’s journey to peace with her father in the mountains of ancient Norway. Knocking on Heaven’s door sees a man come face to face with both the Devil and God in an effort to question what it means to be human. In the title story, a father and daughter try to make sense of prejudice, love and what it means to be truly happy in a post apocalyptic universe.

Ramos’ detailed and sensitive imagining of both future and past is an invitation to readers to consider who they are against the vast backdrop of multiple universes.

REVIEW

3/5 Stars

The Garden and Other Stories is eight different short stories, varying in both length and subject matter. Most of the stories have some element of love, be it romantic, parental or even societal. While some stories might be stronger than others in terms of tale weaving, there is certainly something here to satisfy any reader who enjoys science fiction or fantasy stories.

At times the stories focusing on myth and fantasy felt a little more contrived in my opinion, but the stories dealing with technology were fascinating. Other readers might find the opposite is true, as it all depends upon one’s taste. Again in my opinion, the strongest stories of the bunch were Zero and Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Both dealt with futuristic technology and what that means to humankind. Zero is a more serious tale about artificial intelligence while Knocking on Heaven’s Door takes on the very idea of creation in a humorous and thoroughly entertaining light. The centerpiece of the book, The Garden is able to blend technological advances with the love a father has for his daughter. An unconditional love that is refreshing to see in a short story.

A nice through line in the stories was how most of them did have to do with love in some way. Even in the stories that were not the strongest, Ramos is able to pull the reader in emotionally. We can all relate to longing or yearning, or familial love and this is what makes this collection stand out. Even inside of fantastical settings full of monsters, myths and technological wonders, the protagonists are decidedly human. The one drawback to this book is that it would have been nice to have more stories in the collection. For that reason, I am looking forward to more from this author.

This is an impressive debut collection from a new author. If you enjoy short story collections such as Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman or the short story collections of Isaac Asimov, then at least one of these stories is sure to entertain.

Fantastically 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 Lovebirds – #MovieReview

Hello internet people, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another film review for you all. I’d been watching a lot of horror, which I love to watch by the way, but I was ready for a bit of a break and wanted to watch something with some humor in it. I went for The Lovebirds which is pretty much just the same plot as Date Night only instead of starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell it stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.

The movie centers around a couple who were in love once but feel like they have lost the magic. Jibran and Leilani used fell in love quickly but now they argue about everything including whether or not they would win The Amazing Race. They are due at a friend’s dinner party and even though they have an argument they decide to go. On the way they break up and Jibran, distractedly driving, plows into a man on a bicycle. The man is more or less okay and the couple are about to get on with their lives when a man gets into their car, tells them that he is a cop and pursues the man on the bicycle. At first this just seems like a bit of excitement until the man just kills the guy on the bicycle and then runs over him repeatedly. The rest of the movie is the couple ending up in fish out of water situations where they are mistaken for criminals, cultists or worse.

The plot pretty much plays out as you would expect and I won’t really go much into it here. It’s a comedy of errors with each situation leading to the next and becoming more and more ridiculous and hilarious. Along the way, the couple also, as you would expect, start to realize they still have feelings for one another. The romance isn’t anything you haven’t seen either.

Still, despite the fact that this is a movie with an old familiar plot and subplot, it manages to deliver well on the comedy and the performances are hugely entertaining. Nanjiani and Rae are very well paired, with his dry wit matching excellently with her exuberant personality.

Not every bit of comedy hits but when it does, it scores some big laughs. My two favorite scenes were when the couple are interrogated by the bad guys and are given the choice between bacon grease to the face and something behind a door. I won’t give away what it results in but it’s worth watching. The second is when the couple inevitably get taken in by the police. I can’t give any of that away but it had me laughing pretty hard.

The plot feels almost unnecessary at times because it’s extremely predictable and there are moments when I was wishing this was just a comedy riff off between the two stars. But the physical comedy is fun and there are enough jokes that if you are in the mood for a bit of romantic comedy, this is like comfort food. It’s good and it’s always there and you know what you are getting before you take the first bite. Predictability aside, it’s got some smart humor in it and it never gets so crazy that it’s completely goofy. It’s a fun ninety minutes when you need a little break from reality.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Boy – #MovieReview

Hello all you internet boys and girls out there. Slick Dungeon here back to review another creepy movie for you all. There will be some mild spoilers but I won’t give away the whole thing.

The Boy stars Lauren Cohen, of The Walking Dead and Supernatural fame, as Greta. Greta has had trouble at home in America with an abusive boyfriend and she has taken a job in England to be a nanny for an elderly couple’s child. When she arrives, it turns out that the “boy” is just a life size and very creepy looking porcelain doll. The couple give Greta strict instructions on how to treat the boy, what his routine is, and everything she needs to do to take care of Brahms. They refer to the doll as a living being and treat it essentially as you would an actual child.

Greta does make a friend while she is there. Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans, is the local grocer and delivers food up to the huge house in the countryside where Greta is staying. He also treats Brahms like an actual boy whenever the elderly couple are there but it’s clear he is just playing along.

A lot of this movie does unfold in the way you are probably picturing. That is, pretty much like Child’s Play or any of the subsequent Chucky series, but without the humor. Odd things start happening when it’s clear no one else is in the house. Greta’s shoes go missing and are returned. Strange sounds happen. And most importantly, the creepy as can be doll, moves when there is no possible way for it to have gone anywhere.

At first I was getting impatient with this, feeling like I knew exactly where it was going. I was mostly thinking how Lauren Cohen knows those guys from Supernatural and they would make quick work of a cursed doll, and this could be a forty-five minute television episode instead of a full length film. But then, Greta starts playing it smart, if a little oddly. I’m not going to let you in on what happens from there in case you have not seen it, but it’s worth an entire watch through.

While this film got bashed by certain critics, and I can see why some of them did not like it, I don’t think it deserved the drubbing it got. It’s moody and strange and there are definitely some jump scares that seem a bit silly, but overall, I am pretty sure you are not going to expect what happens in the end.

If you like the creepy doll form of horror, this one is right up there with the good ones in my book.

Creepily 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!

1922 – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to review the Stephen King short story adaptation of 1922 playing on Netflix. There will be some spoilers but I will try to keep them mild here.

As far as Stephen King adaptations go, mileage tends to vary. Consider 1922 to be one that lands on the good side of these things. While the film can’t be quite as disturbing as the novella written by the master of horror, it does an excellent job of getting close.

The story revolves around a man named Willfred “Wilf” James and is played by Thomas Jane. Wilf is a gruff and quiet rancher whose wife has inherited a plot of land after the death of her father. Wilf wants to expand his farm with the land but Ariette (Molly Parker) wants to sell the land and move to Omaha instead. The pair have a fourteen year old son named Henry who is in love with his girlfriend Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard).

Wilf and Ariette are long past loving each other and it’s clear that this argument is not going to work itself out. Wilf decides that the only way for him to get the land that he hopes to pass on to his son is to murder his wife. He even enlists Henry’s help to do it.

The fact that Wilf murders his wife should not be a spoiler for this because it’s what happens next that is surprising. The act that Wilf and Henry commit come to haunt them both in different ways. The film takes us through the rest of the year of 1922 seeing what happens to Wilf and Henry throughout.

Thomas Jane gives a masterclass example of conveying horror in a quiet but ever present manner. When you get down to it, it’s a simple story but the unfolding of events in the film leaves the viewer disturbed and on edge for the entire film. Certain sequences recall other King stories and adaptations, what with the prominence of endless fields of corn growing everywhere.

At no point to we ever really like Wilf but that won’t stop the viewer from being disturbed by what happens to him. The frequent use of rats in the film come at the most unexpected times and the imagery it puts in the viewer’s head will stick with them long after they have seen the film. And of course, the whole time, the viewer is thinking that Wilf really should have moved to Omaha.

Unlike a good portion of Stephen King stories, the end of this one does not disappoint. The horror is raw and gripping all the way through.

If you are a horror fan or a Stephen King fan (I know those groups mostly overlap) this is a great way to spend a little less than two hours. I just wouldn’t recommend having any snacks handy while you do unless you have a strong stomach.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Ten Speed Press Announces a Cookbook, a Journal & a New Book for Young Adventurers

Hi there adventurers, it’s Slick Dungeon! Over the weekend Wizards of the Coast had their D&D Live 2020 event where they introduced the newest Dungeons & Dragons books, merchandise and overall nerdy glory. While the big reveal was the new campaign book coming out called Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frost Maiden a couple of other things were announced that I am actually more excited for.

In an earlier post I wrote about the cookbook coming out called Heroes’ Feast. I think this will be really fun and the recipes look like they will make a great activity to do with kids.

You can already pre-order this one but sadly it does not come out until October.

The next any age appropriate item was The Book of Holding. This is a journal with some pretty cool art on it that can be used for taking notes about your campaign or just writing your thoughts down.

This one is also available for pre-order but you only have to wait until August 4th for it to arrive. I’m not a huge fan of special journals or anything but if you love D&D this might be nice to put on the shelf.

The thing I am most excited about is the next book in the series for young adventurers called Beasts & Behomoths. This is the fifth book in a series meant to get younger readers interested in Dungeons & Dragons. This one is essentially a monster manual for kids. It should expand on the more unusual creatures found in the game and is a great addition if you already have any of the other books in the series, even if you have the other book about monsters Monsters & Creatures.

What I love about this whole series of books is that the focus is not so much on the stat blocks or mechanics of the game but rather the storytelling aspects of it. This is great for both younger players and people just learning to play. All the numbers in the regular rules can kind of get in the way, so having something like this is a lovely introduction to understand just how fun this game can be. Plus most of these run for between $9-$11 depending on the format you get them in. That’s a huge bargain compared to purchasing the core rule books that can run up to $50 a piece. If you play D&D with kids, I say, don’t worry about buying all those heavy books but you should totally get some of the ones in this series. That’s just my opinion of course but hey, even if you grab these and then get more into the other books, these are a neat little collection to have. To get the new book, you can pre-order it but you can’t get your hot little hands on it until October 20th. I’ll be waiting for my copy on the day, I promise you that.

I hope you are looking forward to this stuff as much as I am. Also, if you follow my blog for movies and books but not D&D stuff, not to worry, my next post will be Dungeons & Dragons free.

Excitedly 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 8

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, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling and role playing a human. Today we are going to talk about the “uncommon races” and playing a Dragonborn character.

The next few playable races we will talk about in these upcoming posts will be considered, “uncommon”. What do the game designers mean by that? Well, a few things. First, there are some Dungeon Masters who don’t include certain playable races in their campaign at all. If you are desperate to play a dragonborn character and the DM won’t let you, you’re going to want to find someone else to play with. Since this series of posts is assuming you are playing this game with your kids, I leave it to your discretion if you want any or all of these playable races to be in the game. My opinion is that, if it’s in the rule book, it should be allowed, but that’s just me. Another thing set out in the rules as currently written is that some of these uncommon races are less prevalent in the game world than others. While sometimes this can set up for interesting challenges and game play, it can also be an excuse for some DM’s to create extremely xenophobic non-player characters. As adults, depending on how it’s done, I think we can handle this okay. But for kids, my advice is that even if they play an uncommon race, only the villains should really act negatively toward the characters. It’s disheartening for kids who have their really awesome dragonborn character ready to go into a store and gear up for an epic adventure, only to have the store clerk run away from them. My advice for this sort of situation when dealing with kids would be to have the store clerk instead comment on how brave they think the kids’ character is and maybe ask if all dragonborn are like them. Stay positive with kids as much as possible, unless we are talking about the villain and their minions. Of course, this is just my advice and you can choose to play how you want, but that’s how I run it at my table.

The uncommon races in the simple rules are Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling. We’ll go through playing each one in this post and upcoming posts. We’ll start with dragonborn.

If you are not familiar with the game you might be wondering what a dragonborn is. Is that like something born from a dragon? Yep. They as a group were born or created by dragons long ago. But what it basically amounts to is a walking, talking, humanoid dragon who combines the best of humans and dragons. In other words, they are a whole lot of awesome put together.

These dragons don’t have wings or tails but they are scaly like dragons and come in any shade a dragon does. Like dwarves, these creatures are all about their clan. Everything they do is for their clan. Most of these creatures have a nearly obsessive drive to better themselves in everything they do. And they respect it when they see that in others. This makes dragonborn nearly ideal for adventuring because as impressive as they might be with casting a spell, they will themselves be impressed by a warrior who is able to wield a longsword with incredible skill. While dragonborn want to be good at everything they do, they usually pick one thing (typically their class) that they want to excel at above all others. This also provides players with a great narrative for why they go on adventures. It’s not to kill or seek out treasure, but to learn something. Most kids understand this pretty well. They are learning constantly so it’s pretty close territory for them to role play. The other reason they might adventure is to prove their worth to their clan. Kids can relate to this too. You want to do your best for your family and have them be proud of you. Dragonborn are great for role playing this type of situation for kids.

Dragonborn are capable of a lot but also know that they have limits. They actually are not afraid to ask for help. This is great for an adventuring party because the absolute best adventuring parties do one thing well above all else – they help each other. This makes role playing a dragonborn a natural for kids because the only excuse they need to join with others is that they need help or want to help.

There are a bunch of dragonborn names listed in the rules. My only suggestion for these names is that you and your kids agree on the correct pronunciation, especially when it comes to clan names.

Dragonborn Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a dragonborn

Ability Score Increase

Dragonborn are naturally strong and charismatic. They do come from dragons after all, so it’s no surprise. They get to increase their strength ability score by 2 and their charisma ability score by 1.

Age

While dragonborn grow fast, reaching adulthood by age 15, they only tend to live to be about 80. They are not like dragons who can linger for centuries.

Alignment

If you are using alignment in your game, Dragonborn can basically be good or evil. While some can tend to less extremes, it’s just usually not the case due to their dragon heritage. Dragons also tend to be either all in on the good or all in on the evil. My advice here for playing with kids, is if they play a dragonborn, go with lawful good. Their natural tendency to want to help and prove themselves to their clan leans that way anyway and dragonborn can make awesome heroes.

Size

Dragonborn are usually over six feet tall and weigh around 250 pounds. Somehow they are still considered medium creatures but I guess if a Shaq sized human is considered medium in the game rules, the dragonborn can be too.

Speed

The dragonborn walking speed is 30 feet.

Draconic Ancestry

Here’s the most awesome part about being part dragon, there are some draconic elements you get for playing dragonborn. In the rules there is a table that tells you what color dragonborn gets which damage type and breath weapon. For example a gold dragonborn gets to deal fire damage with its breath weapon.

Breath Weapon

Dragons breath fire, acid, ice, lighting etc. And your dragonborn can do that as well. There are a few mechanics to this that I am not going to get into in this post but the breath weapon acts more or less like a spell doing that type of damage would. The only drawback is that you only get to use your breath weapon once before you take a rest. Well, that and the fact that if your allies are in the way when you release your breath weapon they will also take damage.

Damage Resistance

It makes sense to me that if you are a dragon that deals cold damage, you are pretty resistant to cold damage. The same goes for dragonborn. Whatever type of breath weapon they have, they resist that damage.

Languages

Dragonborn get to speak Draconic and common. Draconic can come in pretty handy because it’s one of the oldest languages and is common in spell casting. This makes dragonborn wizards a pretty natural fit for the game.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Dragonborn

Here is what the simple rules say about dragonborn in their sidebar on uncommon races:

It’s easy to assume that a dragonborn is a monster, especially if his or her scales betray a chromatic heritage. Unless the dragonborn starts breathing fire and causing destruction, though, people are likely to respond with caution rather than outright fear.

While I can see why the game designers would say that these creatures can be mistaken for monsters, when it comes to playing with kids, I wouldn’t lean into that too much with one exception. Don’t have the non-player characters think they are monsters unless the NPC is a villain. But one great way to introduce a dragonborn character breaks my rule here. You can have the adventuring party go to investigate some disturbance where the villagers in the area think a monster is causing destruction. But then when the characters get there, they see a dragonborn who is stopping a monster from doing something terrible. The players might assume for a moment that the dragonborn is bad but they quickly prove themselves by not only defeating the monster but then asking the rest of the adventuring party if they need any help. Kids can relate to trying to do something good when an adult assumes they are up to no good. A dragonborn may have learned this lesson far too often as well, and knows that the quickest way to make friends is to do a favor for someone. That makes for a great start to an adventuring party.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to my suggestions, you can play the game any way you want, I have just found that method of introducing dragonborn to be really fun in the past.

Next time we will get into playing a Gnome (one of my favorites for kids to play).

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!

Slick’s Guide to the Upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Releases

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

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just sat through the product reveal panels for Dungeons & Dragons Live 2020 and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. Several products were announced, some you are probably aware of if you are into Dungeons & Dragons. I will go through each one that was talked about today, and because I like role playing games with my kids, I’ll also let you know which ones I think will better for kids than others. I listed them below in the order they were announced, so that’s the order I will talk about them.

  1. Baldur’s Gate III – Video Game

What is it?

This is the third game in the Baldur’s Gate series (not counting spin offs) and it looks like it is going to be ground breaking for role playing video games. They were able to incorporate the inspiration system from the fifth edition rules, as well as provide reaction opportunities. There was about an hour of demo game play shown today. The game looks like it will be gorgeous and I am definitely excited to play it.

Is it for kids?

Now, to start with, let me say that for the purposes of this post I am defining kids as anyone under 12 years old. While some kids can handle a lot of more mature content, parents will want to know that this game looks like it will be quite bloody and violent. Considering that the previous games in the series were rated T for teen, this will probably be good for teens. I would recommend doing your research on the game as a parent before purchasing, in case it hits any elements you are not comfortable with your children playing. I would be surprised if it got even close to anything like God of War or some of the more mature games out there, but I could see there being some innuendo in addition to the violence. So, again, do your research on this one prior to purchase.

2. Icewind Dale: Rime of the FrostmaidenAdventure Book

What is it?

This is a campaign adventure set in the Icewind Dale area of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. It was described as a horror adventure that takes place out in the frozen cold of the Sword Coast where adventurers can expect to fight, yeti’s, the eponymous Frostmaiden of Icewind Dale, and the weather itself. It will be an adventure for levels 1-12.

Is it for kids?

If you go by the standard age range of Dungeons & Dragons ages 12 and up. It’s also a horror campaign so definitely expect some dark elements to come into play. However, Icewind Dale does tend to be a setting that is pretty cool for younger kids to play in. It was also mentioned that there are several adventures in here that might be useful as a sort of mini-campaign. My guess is that some of those will be better for younger kids than others. I would read before purchasing if you are getting this for kids.

3. At the Spine of the World

What is it?

This is a comic book adventure that spins off of the adventure book above. It will introduce new characters in the setting that will have a series of adventures for readers to follow.

Is it for kids?

Considering that the publisher, IDW, publishes everything from My Little Pony to 30 Days of Night, it’s hard to say what the age range is going to be here. My hope is that it is for readers around 9-12 but I wouldn’t count on that.

4. Stranger Things & Dungeons & Dragons

What is it?

Like the title says, this is a crossover between the show Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons. As a huge fan of Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons, I could not be more excited for this. The cover alone is enough to get me on board in about a tenth of a second.

Is it for kids?

Have you let your kids watch Stranger Things? If you have not, then definitely watch the show before you buy the comic book. If you are okay with letting your kids watch the show, I don’t think that there will be any problem with the comics. Do be aware that Stranger Things is full of dark horror moments and those can sometimes scare children. If you kids can handle that and you have seen the show, this seems like a great way to get them to continue to read.

5. Heroes’ Feast

What is it?

This is a cookbook inspired by the magical words of Dungeons & Dragons. It has more than 80 recipes and is categorized by the cultures found in D&D, Human, Elves etc. In case you don’t know, Heroes’ Feast is actually a spell in the game, where an adventuring party can partake in a feast prior to battle and it gives them some bonuses to make the battle a little easier. I think it’s actually a perfect name for a D&D cookbook.

Is it for kids?

This might actually be the thing that was announced today that I am most excited for. While obviously, a cookbook may or may not interest kids, and there are definitely recipes that are not going to be kid friendly (like the cocktail recipes) I think this is a long overdue book. When I want to play D&D with kids we usually have snacks during our session. I’ve often wished that I could have something that is a little more reflective of the environment they imagine themselves in. I can’t think of anything more fun than cooking something together with your kids, then going and enjoying your elven bread as your elf character takes a moment to meditate and refresh herself. And with all this time most of us have had to up our skills in the kitchen, I can’t wait for this one. I can’t see any reason this would not be suitable for kids to read, but obviously supervision will be required when it comes to making the recipes.

There were also several minifigures revealed today, but I’m not really going to get into those in this post. They look really cool but buying minis is up to parents and how they feel about that. Some people love them, but the game is absolutely playable without them.

Overall, I was a little disappointed that there was not more announced for younger kids, as it’s always nice to introduce a new generation to the game. While I love stuff like Critical Role, it can be pretty hard to find D&D stuff that is good for kids to play. It’s not that it can’t be done, it just takes more effort, and I was hoping to get a few things that would help with that this year.

If anything else gets announced over the weekend, I will post about that here as well.

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!

Diversity & Dungeons & Dragons

Hi Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Yesterday Dungeons & Dragons released a statement regarding some of the issues relating to diversity in the game. I wanted to just share it with you below. I feel like it’s a good direction that the game designers are going in, but of course more work can always be done. I personally, would also like to see more inclusive characters representing the LGBTQ community in the game as well but again, it’s a process and it’s a good start. Anyway, you can read the statement yourself below.

Statement:

Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is strength, for only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the many challenges a D&D story presents. In that spirit, making D&D as welcoming and inclusive as possible has moved to the forefront of our priorities over the last six years. We’d like to share with you what we’ve been doing, and what we plan to do in the future to address legacy D&D content that does not reflect who we are today. We recognize that doing this isn’t about getting to a place where we can rest on our laurels but continuing to head in the right direction. We feel that being transparent about it is the best way to let our community help us to continue to calibrate our efforts.

One of the explicit design goals of 5th edition D&D is to depict humanity in all its beautiful diversity by depicting characters who represent an array of ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and beliefs. We want everyone to feel at home around the game table and to see positive reflections of themselves within our products. “Human” in D&D means everyone, not just fantasy versions of northern Europeans, and the D&D community is now more diverse than it’s ever been.

Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the peoples in the game—orcs and drow being two of the prime examples—have been characterized as monstrous and evil, using descriptions that are painfully reminiscent of how real-world ethnic groups have been and continue to be denigrated. That’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in. Despite our conscious efforts to the contrary, we have allowed some of those old descriptions to reappear in the game. We recognize that to live our values, we have to do an even better job in handling these issues. If we make mistakes, our priority is to make things right.

Here’s what we’re doing to improve:

  • We present orcs and drow in a new light in two of our most recent books, Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. In those books, orcs and drow are just as morally and culturally complex as other peoples. We will continue that approach in future books, portraying all the peoples of D&D in relatable ways and making it clear that they are as free as humans to decide who they are and what they do.
     
  • When every D&D book is reprinted, we have an opportunity to correct errors that we or the broader D&D community discovered in that book. Each year, we use those opportunities to fix a variety of things, including errors in judgment. In recent reprintings of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd, for example, we changed text that was racially insensitive. Those reprints have already been printed and will be available in the months ahead. We will continue this process, reviewing each book as it comes up for a reprint and fixing such errors where they are present.
     
  • Later this year, we will release a product (not yet announced) that offers a way for a player to customize their character’s origin, including the option to change the ability score increases that come from being an elf, a dwarf, or one of D&D’s many other playable folk. This option emphasizes that each person in the game is an individual with capabilities all their own.
     
  • Curse of Strahd included a people known as the Vistani and featured the Vistani heroine Ezmerelda. Regrettably, their depiction echoes some stereotypes associated with the Romani people in the real world. To rectify that, we’ve not only made changes to Curse of Strahd, but in two upcoming books, we will also show—working with a Romani consultant—the Vistani in a way that doesn’t rely on reductive tropes.
     
  • We’ve received valuable insights from sensitivity readers on two of our recent books. We are incorporating sensitivity readers into our creative process, and we will continue to reach out to experts in various fields to help us identify our blind spots.
     
  • We’re proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists. We’ve brought in contributors who reflect the beautiful diversity of the D&D community to work on books coming out in 2021. We’re going to invest even more in this approach and add a broad range of new voices to join the chorus of D&D storytelling.

And we will continue to listen to you all. We created 5th edition in conversation with the D&D community. It’s a conversation that continues to this day. That’s at the heart of our work—listening to the community, learning what brings you joy, and doing everything we can to provide it in every one of our books.

This part of our work will never end. We know that every day someone finds the courage to voice their truth, and we’re here to listen. We are eternally grateful for the ongoing dialog with the D&D community, and we look forward to continuing to improve D&D for generations to come.

End Statement

I hope they mean all of that and will stick to it. From what I have seen in the past, I believe they will but time will determine if that’s true.

By the way, if you usually come to my blog for movie and book reviews, the next few days will be more focused on Dungeons & Dragons because D&D Live 2020 will be going on for the next few days. I’m planning to see what cool stuff is coming up, especially in regards to gaming with kids and I’ll give you my take on it once there are some announcements.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 7

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, role playing an elf and role playing a halfling. Today we are going to talk about the easiest and hardest lesson all of us have to learn, how to be a human.

You would think that role playing a human would come naturally and easily to everyone. After all, we are all human (I assume) so it should come naturally. On the other hand, if you play a human that means you have the entirety of human experience to draw from. That’s a pretty large pool of experience. This can be hard to manage if you are an adult. I have good news for you though, it comes pretty naturally to kids. Kids understand what humans are because, well, they are also human (most of the time anyway). Some kids are just not into being an elf, dwarf, dragonborn, etc. There’s no problem with that because those children can play humans. The challenge for them might come into how humans relate to the other creatures in the game. It’s pretty easy for a human to forget how old and elf is, or for them not to understand that the reason a dwarf is angry at them has to do with something their great grandfather might have done.

Even in the game rules as set out, humans are everywhere. While there might be a few places you find few or none, most places in the game settings tend to have humans. If you want to experiment with that and have it be that humans are their own little civilization far apart from the rest of the creatures in the game, you are welcome to do that. The opposite is true, you can have humans just be everywhere all the time. That’s the way it usually is in my game. While orcs or elves or whatever might have a general attitude towards humans, each individuals’ opinion of them will vary. Not all orcs and humans have to hate each other, even though that’s the typical way it plays out. In fact it usually is the case that some humans and orcs get along because otherwise there would be no half-orcs. How you want to play that is up to you.

In the rules humans are not as specialized as the other playable races we will talk about. There’s not one skill that you can say, all humans are really good at that thing. So instead, they get to have all of their stats increase by one instead. There is a way you can change that with a variant rule where humans would instead be better at two abilities, one skill, and take what is called a feat. Feats are some kind of awesome thing that you can get to do in certain situations. Some dungeon masters absolutely hate these and will ban them from their game. Personally, I think they are pretty nifty, depending on what they are, and I love letting my players use them, but that’s just me. Just know that if you decide you want to let your kids take a feat, you should read what it is and see if it will completely interfere with what you think should happen in the game. Make sure you let your kid know why you are or are not letting them take that feat. For the purposes of the rest of this post, I am going to assume that you are not doing the variant rule but if you need to know more about that variant rule, check the text box in the basic rules, look at the feats, and then treat the human in the same way we did all the other playable races we have talked about.

Before I get into all the score increases etc., let me just give a word on names and locations that are listed in the rules. There is a whole section of names, and made up locations in the entry on humans in the basic rules. If you want to use those, absolutely knock yourself out. Personally, as a dungeon master, I have a really hard time keeping track of what human might be a Tethyrian vs a Reshemi vs an Illuskan etc. They give a bit of description and location as well as name suggestions for each human area in the game. Here’s what I do with that when I am playing with kids. I ignore that section. I mean, I do sometimes take the names out of those sections if I need to name a character or something but I don’t memorize all the rest of it. I figure that humans are everywhere and I can name my human any name from any human I want to. While playing with adults it might feel silly to name a character Jeff, just Jeff, kids will not mind this sort of thing at all. It’s all to your taste as a dungeon master. One thing I will recommend when it comes to names, and this goes for any non-playable character you have, don’t make the name one that is too difficult for your kids to pronounce. What those names are will vary kid by kid but it can be frustrating when they are trying to talk to someone and can’t say the name. If you do go with a name that is tough to say, maybe consider a nickname they can be addressed by as well.

One more note, some people will say that wanting to play a human fighter is boring and the most basic thing you can do in the game. Here’s why that is wrong. First, wanting to play a human fighter doesn’t mean you are boring, it means that… you want to play a human fighter. You know what’s wrong with playing a human fighter? Nothing if that’s what you want to play. Some of the mechanics are easier than other race/class combinations in the game but there’s still plenty of cool stuff to do with a fighter. Don’t discourage a kid from playing that if that’s what she wants to be in the game.

Now onto the traits

Human Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a human.

Ability Score Increase

Your ability scores increase by 1. That’s all six scores. Most other races only get one or two things to increase here.

Age

Do I really have to explain how humans age? I mean, think of humans. They are somewhere in that age range. Playing a 100 year old human is going to look a lot different than playing a 15 year old human.

Alignment

Humans come in all variations of good to terrible people. As usual, my recommendation here is to let kids play the hero. If they are really wanting to play an evil character, I would recommend telling them no in this instance. Most kids want to be the hero and having an evil character makes that very difficult for the rest of the people playing.

Size

Again, do I need to explain human size here? People come in shapes from Danny Devito to Shaquille O’neal. There is no right or wrong shape to play so let the kids have their characters look the way they want them to. For fame rule purposes, whether you are very small or very tall, your size is always considered medium.

Speed

While you might make the argument that humans can be faster or slower than this, the movement speed for humans is 30 feet.

Languages

Humans are able to speak Common and any one other language. Humans do tend to know a little bit of everything so if you want to have a human character speak more, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. Also, as I have said before in earlier posts, if you have a campaign that is going to be dominated by one language, Giant, for example, make sure that your kids characters speak that. If you have a human character, that’s usually a good character to have speak any language needed.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Being Human

Kids are generally pretty good at being humans. They understand human emotions and attitudes because they have felt them. What can be tougher, really, is how kids who play humans relate to kids who play other playable races. Try to have kids remember that humans don’t live that long compared to other playable races. The other thing that humans have going for them is that their institutions outlive them. They might not know all of the history of something that has happened in the game world, but humans make written records, long lasting structures and organizations that exist for centuries. For that reason, humans can find answers to things they were not around for. Have kids who play humans lean into this if possible. When an elf comments how a human is gone in the blink of an eye, they might reply that the organization they are working for will be there long after the elf is gone.

As always, it should be played more or less how the kids want to and how it works best for you. You can feel free to use all the tips I gave here or ignore them all, just do what works best for your kids.

Next time we will start getting into what are called, “uncommon races” starting with Dragonborn.

Until then, please, practice being a good human.

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!

Eli – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here back with another movie review for ya.

Eli is a Netflix original horror film that packs a heck of a punch. I’m not easily scared and I have a pretty good stomach for gore so it surprised me just how much this one disturbed me in the end. There will be some spoilers here but I am not going to give away the ending here, for that you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Eli, played by Charlie Shotwell has a rare disease that has compromised his immune system. It’s so bad that he needs to live in a plastic bubble and wear a bio suit to just walk outside. His parents, Rose (played by Kelly Reilly) and Paul (played by Max Martini) have decided to take him to get some major but experimental treatment. To cure him, they take Eli to an old house that has been modernized with a filtration system to keep contaminants out. The doctor there, Dr. Horn (played by Lili Taylor) has radical but painful treatments ready for Eli. In a bit of a good news/bad news situation, the doctor may be able to cure Eli, but at the same time, the house may be haunted. Eli is stuck between death on the outside and who knows what on the inside.

As Eli sees evidence of what’s happening and starts discovering the secrets of where he is at, his parents do their best to keep hope alive for him and themselves. Eli starts seeing things but when he tells the doctor and his parents, they tell him he is just hallucinating, probably as a side effect of the medication. Eli’s only contact on the outside and potential hope of solving the mystery he is in, is Haley (played by Sadie Sink). She has been there before and knows something about what happened to patients before Eli.

There are only a few things that really freak me out in horror films. One of them is seeing kids in pain, and the other is medical procedures. So, this movie had the perfect combination to freak me the heck out. That said, I will say, I really thought I knew where this film was going and if I only thought it was average before the end, the ending elevated it for me.

The movie is not overly gory compared to a lot of horror films but I know this is one I am going to keep thinking about long from now. It’s a pretty masterful horror film overall. If you like horror and things that go bump in the night, this is a great way to spend about an hour and a half.

Hauntingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Elantris – #BookReview

Hello all you dungeon dwellers out there, it’s me, Slick Dungeon back with a review of an absolutely amazing fantasy book by the always absolutely amazing Brandon Sanderson.

Elantris is the first book Sanderson ever had published and it’s easy to see why he has become such a popular author. I am going to give my review below. There will be some spoilers so if you have not read the book, seriously, you should, go and read it and then come back for the review. I will try to keep the spoilers minimal though, so if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you too much, I promise not to give everything away.

SYNOPSIS

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

Elantris focuses on three main characters, Raoden, the prince of Arelon, Sarene, his intended wife from Teod and Hrathen a priest from Fjordell. The stories interweave with one another and we jump back and forth to all three characters points of view. Raoden awakens on the day of Sarene and Hrathen’s arrival to Arelon to find out that his body has changed. He has no heartbeat, his skin has turned gray and mottled with spots, and his hair has fallen out. This means only one thing, Raoden is no longer considered to be among the living and he is exiled to the fallen city of Elantris. Meanwhile, Hrathen is putting in place actions that will move a kingdom to worship his god. Sarene discovers that although her intended husband is dead (she does not know he has actually just been banished) her marriage contract is valid and she cannot marry again, or go home to Teod. She only has one thing to do, serve as best she can, the people of Arelon. She decides that the best way to do this, is to counter Hrathen at every move.

While I found all three of these characters utterly fascinating, I was blown away by Raoden’s portion of the story. In Elantris he discovers that people have given up hope, many of them have been driven mad by starvation or desperation, and in order to survive he is going to have to bring hope to a despondent city. Unlike a lot of cities in other fantasy books, Elantris really does have major problems to deal with. You see, once someone is turned into an Elantrian, they feel every cut, nick, scratch, bruise, stubbed toe, or any other kind of injury forever. The pain never subsides, so madness makes sense for a lot of the inhabitants of the city. Raoden immediately realizes that what he has to do, is cling to hope. He meets Galladon, a committed pessimist who knows more about Elantris than he should. Together they set out to change the world.

Mixed in with all of these characters are intricate politics on an epic and kingdom making and breaking scale. It’s a huge ensemble cast of characters but not a single one of them is wasted. A lot of fantasy novels have the habit of exceeding the word count needed for the story relentlessly but this one makes every sentence feel absolutely necessary.

As well as politics, romance, and hope, the book also has interesting takes on magic. Most people in the book have these floating orbs called Seons. They are a magical kind of servant that can transmit messages anywhere instantly, keep track of their masters, and even influence events in the background without anyone realizing it. It was a great answer to the problem some fantasy novels have of how to communicate between long distances in a short amount of time.

I will admit that there were times in reading the book that I was certain I knew where it was leading. Occasionally it did, but even then, the next event in the book totally changed what I thought previously.

To say that this book was a masterful debut would quite honestly be an understatement. It’s rare to find new things in fantasy and it’s utterly refreshing when it happens. Reading books like this one is the reason I love fantasy books. They can still surprise me.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who has read the Mistborn series or any of his other works, but Sanderson knows how to tell a story and tell it well. I hadn’t gotten around to Elantris for far too long but I am so glad I picked it up. If you have not read this and you love fantasy books, put this on your reading list immediately.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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The Babysitter (2017) – #MovieReview

The Babysitter

What’s going on you young hooligans out there? It’s me, Slick Dungeon, back again to tell you about a wacky horror comedy that’s now showing at your local Netflix. I’m not sure this is the kind of movie that needs this type of disclaimer but there will be spoilers for The Babysitter in this review.

I’m a sucker for comedy horror films, especially the ones of the several characters die implausibly horrible yet also hilariously funny deaths in completely unlikely circumstances due to the actions of a child variety. It’s a very specific genre, but I like it okay?

This is also in the category of a ton of critics hate it but somehow people keep watching it anyway. Let me tell you, I’m on the side of the people watching it anyway. No, it’s not high quality cinema, there is no meaningful revelation you will make because of watching it, but it’s fun okay? It’s still okay to have fun sometimes. For real.

The Babysitter stars Samara Weaving as Bee, the eponymous babysitter, and Judah Lewis as Cole, the babysittee. Cole is twelve years old and still has a babysitter. It’s pretty embarrassing because he is already picked on. However, Bee is cool, pretty and gets along well with Cole. Even his bullies think Bee is cool.

One night when Bee is babysitting Cole, he stays up past his bed time to see what she really gets up to after dark. Turns out it’s a whole lot of murdering and satanic ritual stuff. Needless to say, Cole is freaked out and has to get out of the situation without, you know, ending up dead. One by one Cole goes up against the cultists and one by one ends up obliterating them, usually through accidental means. I don’t want to give up the whole ballgame here by telling you how those deaths go, but some of them are downright hilarious. None of them are really believable, but reality isn’t what this movie is about.

This movie is basically Home Alone if Kevin McCallister was up against murderers instead of robbers and Kevin had unleashed full kill mode instead of less deadly methods. Oh, and also if Kevin did all of that nearly completely by accident. Cole and Kevin do both use fireworks though, so there’s that.

Like I said I don’t want to spoil how the deaths happen so I am just going to share with you my favorite part of the whole movie. If you can get behind this part, then you should watch it. If you think this part is stupid, well, there are a bunch of other things to stream. One of the cultists is a high school quarterback named Max, played by Robbie Amell. He has Cole right where he wants him, he’s about to just end Cole forever when he hears the sound of an egg being thrown at Cole’s house. This is one of the kids who bullies Cole egging his house yet again. Max lets Cole go, drags him over and insists that Cole go and confront his bully. He even gives him a pep talk before he goes over there. It’s hilarious how fast Max goes from deadly killer to older friend who is just looking out for his neighbor and back again. Cole does confront the bully and Max is right back to trying to kill Cole. Less than five minutes later Max is dead. I loved how Max was totally cool with killing a kid but thought that egging was just over the top. To me the scene was really funny.

While this is not the funniest, or scariest horror comedy I have ever seen by a long shot, it’s got enough in it that if you are a fan of those types of movies, it’s worth a try. I mean really, you’re probably reaching the end of your Netflix queue anyway so have a little bit of a bloody laugh.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Curse of Strahd – Campaign Diary Session 5

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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 too far, fair warning that this has spoilers for The Curse of Strahd.

You can read the first four campaign diaries here, 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 Tser Pool Encampment and the Vistani that live there, including Madam Eva. This section also has a key element of the campaign, which is the Tarokka reading, basically a fortune telling section, that determines where key items, allies and enemies will be during the campaign. I rehearsed this several times. I was hoping to have it memorized enough that I could do the reading without having to refer to the book but, there are 54 cards, a whole lot of text and a ton of variations on how this reading could turn out. I did end up improvising but I at least had the layout memorized and was able to still make it feel pretty special to the players (I think).

I also took a look at the reddit thread here. There is a section on the Tarokka reading and while I did end up using all the cards, there were still some useful tips in there, especially if you have played this before. I also prepared some random encounters as the session involved a bit of travel. I tend to like to have my random encounters pre-rolled so that there is less flipping of pages on my part when combat breaks out. That doesn’t mean you have to do it that way, but if you want to be a little more organized in your prep, I recommend always rolling for encounters and random treasure ahead of time.

The Fifth Session

At the start of the session, Ismark was ready to take Ireena to the town of Vallaki, where he believes the Burgomaster can shelter her. Of course, he has never met the Burgomaster himself and is pretty protective of his sister, so complications will undoubtedly arise. On the way, the party encountered three Scarecrows. They were able to handle them quite easily, although they did set a small forest fire. They put it out though. Miles Adelard is still getting his magic under control but he was able to display its power pretty well this session. Lady Elarian is growing as a fighter and although her go to move is to just attack it with a long sword, she is learning to use some of the fighter mechanics to benefit her attacks.

After the Scarecrows were dealt with, they arrived at the Tser Pool encampment. The Vistani all greeted them warmly, as if welcoming long lost family. They invited the PC’s to tell a story at the campfire. Miles told what basically amounted to the story of Orpheus, especially as told through the musical Hades Town. I thought that was great as my players are very well versed in musical theater and there are references in one way or another to Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, and Little Shop of Horrors dotted into my campaign. Some references come from the book itself, so that’s going to be pretty fun as they discover these things.

Tser Pool Encampment

Lady Elarian was much more tight lipped and Ismark and Ireena were more or less standoffish to the Vistani. At the end of the night, Madam Eva called the players into her tent.

Lady Elarian and Miles had woken up in a previous session to find the Sheperd and Anarchist cards in their possession after a dream was sent to them by Madam Eva. She first asked for them back and told them that she sent the cards because she felt they could help to free Barovia from Strahd. The players are pretty much just wanting to go home and Miles is pretty sure he can just have a rational conversation with Strahd to get out of there. Who knows, he might be right?

After a little bit of small talk and demands to know why they were there, Madam Eva did the Tarokka reading for them. I am going to spoil some locations of items here so if you happen to be a player, maybe don’t read this okay? Okay good.

Madam Eva
  1. The Tome of Strahd – This will be in the Wizard of Wines Winery. This is pretty good because 1., in Vallaki the Martikovs have visiting the winery as a ready made quest. And 2. because in the next session I have some Blight encounters ready for the players which should nicely foreshadow their enemies.
  2. The Holy Symbol of Ravenkind – This will be found in Castle Ravenloft in one of the crypts under the “Mad dog”. While this is likely to be the hardest item of the bunch for the group to find, I’m pretty thrilled with how they were left wondering who or what the mad dog is. They have a dog with them and think maybe there is some connection there (there isn’t) but otherwise they have no clue.
  3. The Sunword – This will be in Rictavio’s wagon. This is in the town of Vallaki so it’s likely to be the first item they get. Rictavio is a false identity for another character in the story, so my only concern here is when and how to reveal Rictavio’s true agenda to the players, especially once they inevitably go routing through his stuff.
  4. The ally – The good news for the players is they already have her. Their ally is Ireena. Part of me is really excited about that because they feel like they accomplished something without even trying to do anything other than help people. But the other part of me is a little disappointed because that may mean one less NPC to get to meet down the road.
  5. Strahd – They will be meeting him at the tomb of his mother. The card was the raven and the reading mentioned that so now, they think almost anything raven related could lead them to him. That’s kind of fun because there is one heck of a lot of raven imagery in this campaign.

After the reading, they said their good nights and that’s where we ended the session. Next up should be the road to Vallaki and possibly getting into town and little bit of exploring. I’m looking forward to it because I feel like the campaign can really get going from here on out.

What I would do different

For this session, there are a few things I would change. It went relatively well though, so it’s not an overly extensive list.

  1. It was hard to memorize the whole Tarokka deck. If I had it to do over again, I would have practiced a lot more, to the point where I knew what each card represented and where the treasures were hidden without having to look. That’s a lot of memorization though so I’m not sure how practical it is. I also briefly considered stacking the deck but a. I don’t think I could pull off the slight of hand and b. this is the first time I am running this campaign so really anywhere they get off to will be interesting to me.
  2. This is not so much for this session but for previous ones. Madam Eva is a pretty major deal, so I think I would talk her up more in the town of Barovia next time and make it seem like it’s really hard to get to talk to her and that only a privileged few get to. I’d want to make her almost mythical before they meet her.
  3. Now, I didn’t know that they would intersect with Rictavio, but in reality he is a legendary vampire hunter in disguise. While Ismark definitely knows a dude named Rictavio rolled into town a few months ago, I feel like I want to talk up the vampire hunter side of his personality a lot more. As written in the module, in this section the Vistani talk about the Mad Mage of Mount Baratok. This is a really cool NPC and I hope my characters meet him, but they already knew a little bit about him. If I had this to do over again, I would instead have the Vistani and the Tser Pool encampment talk about Van Richten (the vampire hunter) instead. There will be more chances for him to be spoken of, but I feel like his reputation could easily have been bolstered, had I known for sure the players would likely encounter Rictavio. I think if I ever did a stacked card reading with him as an ally, I would absolutely do that. For this time, I don’t regret doing the story of the Mad Mage, but I also wish I had the vampire hunter in there.

I’ll be back next time to tell you if the characters make it to Vallaki and if anything interesting happens along the way.

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 Vast of Night – #MovieReview

It’s Like a Long Twilight Zone Episode and I’m NOt Complaining

Hey people out there catching my signal, it’s Slick Dungeon. I’m back again with a movie review for ya. This time I watched the sci-fi, quiet horror film that is getting all the buzz lately, The Vast of Night.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Cayuga, New Mexico and is about Everett and Fay, two characters caught up in things they can’t explain in the 1950’s. Fay is played by Sierra McCormick and Everett is played by Jake Horowitz. Both performances are fast paced, tense and low key brilliant.

Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers in this review but I won’t give too much away.

The film starts off with us looking at a television screen and getting an opening that essentially mimics The Twilight Zone. That sets the tone immediately as we transition into the town of Cayuga, where everyone is abuzz with getting ready for the high school basketball game. We met Everett immediately and it’s clear that he is the smartest guy in the room considering that everyone at the school wants his attention on a number of random things, including fixing scoreboards, setting up recording systems and repairing cables that have been chewed through.

One of the people wanting Everett’s attention is Fay. She has just bought a new fashioned tape recorder and wants Everett to show her how to use it. The dialogue in these scenes if fast paced and cigarette filled and it takes a moment to get your bearings as the viewer. We find out quickly that Fay would be a good match for Everett because she is able to talk about science in a way that impresses him. In fact, for me the scene that really got me into the film is when Fay starts describing these far in the future science articles that perfectly describe smart driving cars and cell phones. After that I was all in on this film.

Fay

Everett is not going to the basketball game because he hosts a radio show and needs to be at work. Fay works the telephone switchboard and is also unable to attend the game. They are about the only ones in town that won’t be there.

Every once in a while the movie reminds us how this begins by pulling back and showing us, or someone or something, watching the events unfold on a screen.

Things really get going once Fay starts to pick up an odd noise on the phone lines. She thinks it’s odd and has Everett listen to it. After that he plays the sound on the station and asks if anyone can identify it. Things get really interesting once a caller says he can.

I don’t want to give the story away from here but let’s just say Everett and Fay spend the rest of the night trying to understand what is going on. Whether or not they do, you’ll have to watch the film to know.

The film does miss on one point, it does not really address some of the injustices that were prevalent during that time period. While this film is not about that, I think that any film taking place in that time period produced now has a bit of a duty to at least address how bad it was for anyone who was not a straight, white, man at the time. There is a little bit but it barely brushes by the audience. But I digress.

The only other thing that really bothered me about this film is one that I have seen in multiple films, books and even in songs. The town is in New Mexico but the radio station is called WOTW. Not to put too much geography on you here but that’s west of the Mississippi. Any station west of the Mississippi is supposed to start with a K. I know how easy it is to make this mistake if you are from the east of the Mississippi. As someone who lives on the west of that river, it is always 100% confusing to see a station in New Mexico start with the letter W. So please, if you are east of the Mississippi and you make a movie on the west coast, start your stations with a K and if you are west of the Mississippi and you set your movie on the east coast, start your stations with a W. There are some people like myself who would really appreciate the effort.

The performances are outstanding and I felt like it was a really gripping, if a bit long episode of The Twilight Zone. Lucky for me, I love that show, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this. The tension is quiet and builds very well. Enough happens to keep the viewer engaged while still allowing for a low budget film.

Right now the place to find this is on Amazon. It’s a worthy 90 minutes to spend if you want to watch a bit of eerie mysteriousness. For my money it’s definitely worth a watch.

Mysteriously Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 6

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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 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 and role playing an elf. That makes today, Halfling day!

I’ll be honest here, unlike elves and dwarves and humans, there are just not a lot of examples of halflings to base your characters on. If you have read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, those are essentially your guides beyond what is available in Dungeons & Dragons. And there is a lot in common with both the Halflings in D&D and those that Tolkien created. I’ll go through what that typically means in a role playing sense but in my mind, I tend to just think of them as shorter, longer lived humans, who mostly prefer staying at home. So essentially, me when you get right down to it. These characters are pretty good for kids to role play because most kids can relate to a reluctant hero and being dismissed or ignored because they are too small to take much notice of.

One difference you do see between D&D halflings and Tolkien hobbits is that halflings in D&D can be nomadic. They still want to be at home for the most part, it’s just that home can move with them. Also, the D&D halflings are actually, shorter on average than hobbits are. They tend to be about 3 feet tall and weigh 40-50 pounds.

You might also be wondering why in D&D they are called halflings but in Lord of the Rings they are called hobbits. Let’s just say that it was a long drawn out legal issue and therefore in D&D we play as halflings but it’s totally okay if in your mind you pretty much think of them as hobbits.

Halflings tend to be cheerful and friendly. They are loyal to their friends, kind and sharing. They also tend to blend into just about any society or culture. In addition, they are good at stealth and hiding because, well, they are small and everyone underestimates them.

One of the tougher to solve riddles to me if you play a halfling is why they want to leave their homes. Sometimes it is because they are different from other halflings and don’t really belong. Others it is because they have an adventurous heart. To me the most interesting reason, though, would be that they want to protect their homes from something that threatens it. This is why Bilbo and Frodo leave their shire and it’s still a gripping narrative to latch onto even if you are a kid. It’s easy to understand how you would want to do that and how difficult it might be to set out in the first place.

If you are playing with a kid, I usually would recommend playing to the most obvious of halfling characteristics. They are curious, and love their homes, they love their family and friends, and sometimes, they want a little adventure, even if they may not be aware of it in the first place. That being said, there is no restriction against playing against type. You could play a halfling who just can’t wait to leave home, is hardly ever hungry and simply doesn’t like most people. It’s all in how you want to play it and I think halfing is one of the playable races that tends to be pretty flexible. The only problem is that like I said above, there are not tons of examples to point to. So if your kid wishes to be a halfling that is a little different, I would say have them think of a human character they like and then just give them the halfling traits.

Speaking of which, here they are.

Halfling Traits

There are a few things you get for playing a halfling

Ability Score Increase

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

Age

A halfling is an adult at 20 but can live to be around 200 years old. So there is a lot of life in these characters and depending on what age you play, they may have a very different outlook than a human.

Alignment

Halflings tend to be lawful good. That means they are going to follow rules and laws the majority of the time. But don’t feel like you or your kids have to stick to that. Sometimes, breaking a law, is a good act and that doesn’t make the halfling bad if it happens.

Size

Like I said above halflings are about 3 feet tall and don’t weigh a lot. They are pretty much human child size and can easily be mistaken for just that, especially on first glance. Mechanically speaking, in the game, your size is small.

Speed

Shorter legs means it’s a little harder to keep up with humans and elves. These creatures walk at a speed of 25 feet. Basically they can keep up with a party of humans and elves, but they are going to be at the back of the line.

Lucky

This is one reason any kid might choose to play a halfling. They are lucky. Who needs to be able to wield a heavy sword when you can just be lucky enough to be bending over at the right time when someone attacks you? And then lucky enough that your frying pan accidentally knocks them out. In most situations in the game, when a halfling rolls a 1, they get to reroll the die. They have to take the new number but it at least gives them a chance at something better than total failure.

Brave

They might be small but never let it be said that a halfling lacked in courage. They tend to be brave in circumstances that would leave most other people cowering. Because of this, when they have to roll to see if they are frightened, they get advantage. Don’t worry if you don’t know quite what that means yet. Basically, when something happens that could impose the “frightened” condition on a halfling, they get to roll the dice two times and take the higher number.

Halfling Nimbleness

If you are a halfling and you are up against any creature that is bigger than small, you get to move right through their space if you want to. Considering the fact that almost all monsters are at least medium size, this can be used to huge effect (pun intended) on the battlefield.

Languages

Halflings speak common and well… halfling. Halflings tend not to teach anyone other than a halfling the halfling language so that second language is only useful in pretty specific circumstances. Also, it’s generally not a language most other players take as one of their optional languages. Just be aware that there is a halfling language and halflings speak it.

Subraces

There are only two subraces for halflings in the basic rules which is kind of nice because that makes it easy to choose.

Lightfoot Halfling

This subrace of halflings is a little more spread out and just a bit more adventurous so you tend to encounter them more often. Because they are affable and friendly, and not an uncommon sight to most other creatures, they get to increase their charisma by 1. This comes in really handy when you are trying to sweet talk a dragon out of it’s treasure or trying to get the best deal from a merchant on a hunk of cheese.

In addition, these halflings are really stealthy. If there is a creature that is bigger than the halfing, they can hide behind it. And depending how intelligent it is, the halfling might even be able to hide behind the creature they are fighting. There has been more than one halfling who was able to fell an ogre because the ogre didn’t realize there was a halfling riding on its back.

Stout Halfling

Some say that these halflings have some dwarven blood in them. That might be why the special things they get are very similar to what dwarves have when it comes to resisting poison. They get to increase their constitution by 1. They also get to have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned and have resistance to poison damage. In other words, it’s pretty hard to poison these creatures.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Halfling Characters

Usually this spot is reserved for me telling you what I think works best for kids in playing whatever race they chose. In this case, I am instead going to give you a reading/viewing recommendation. Our model halflings pretty much come from The Hobbit in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure and The Lord of the Rings in which our halfling plays the reluctant hero called to grand adventure in order to save the world. I highly recommend reading The Hobbit book to and with your kids at any age. It’s a beautifully crafted and fun story. The Lord of the Rings is extremely more complicated and for older kids is amazing. But it can be hard to wrap your head around if you don’t have the vocabulary for it. Both of these stories are essentially the hero’s quest story. Even if you have never read these stories, you’ve seen the hero’s quest. It’s what Percy Jackson does, it’s what Will in the Ranger’s Apprentice series does, and it’s what Luke Skywalker does in Star Wars. Here’s the one major difference between those series and the ones with halflings; the halflings don’t want to leave home but the others do. That’s it, it’s that simple. Now like I said, the halfling can be played a bunch of different ways so you don’t have to stick to what I recommend but if you want an iconic halfling to base a character around, choose between Bilbo and Frodo. Sam’s also great for his loyalty but there is a reason he is not the main character. He’s not called to adventure, he’s called to his friend. And for a kid, that can also be an absolutely wonderful motivation for his character to leave home. Let your kids imaginations go as far as they want for these creatures, and then just remember that they have specific halfling traits.

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 how to be human. It’s definitely something we all need a little practice with.

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!

Equilibrium – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here, back to tell you about a dystopian country where feelings are not allowed, Sean Bean, does what he does best, and people are not able to shoot each other because of angles.

Equilibrium is a 2002 science fiction film starring Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs and Emily Watson. Now, don’t get me wrong when you read this review. I really enjoyed the film. The film feels oddly prescient for the time we are in now. The action is really good and all of the performances are engaging. But I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t over think this by a million degrees. So just because I am pointing out inconsistencies and giant plot holes doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or that you shouldn’t watch it.

Fair warning that there will be spoilers ahead. I mean, this was made in 2002 so I think the expiration date on that warning is a bit old but I can’t continue the review in good conscience without mentioning that.

It’s the early twenty first century and world war three has just happened. I should mention this film is fiction. A dystopian society much like you would find in 1984 or A Brave New World or even Fahrenheit: 451 has developed. I should reiterate that this film is fiction. As a result, there is a menacing and vaguely defined police force that is cracking down on insurgents for doing such things as looking at art, loving one another, and reading poetry. I should again mention that this film is actually fictional. It was made eighteen years ago but a lot of this film feels like right now is feeling. And it was even more striking when the villain, who turns out to be leading the whole thing says this, “…it is not the message that is important, it is our obedience to it.” He says this to get a law enforcement officer (Christian Bale) to commit an unlawful act. So yeah, spot on to how this moment in America is right now. But let me remind you, this film is fictional.

Enough with my tangent, on with the plot. The whole idea of this society is that we need to suppress our human emotions chemically, to maintain peace. It’s illegal to feel anything at all and those who break this rule are subject to imprisonment and ultimately death. Christian Bale plays John Preston, a “Grammaton Cleric” who is trained in advanced weaponry and fighting skills. It’s his job to seek out and bring to justice, “Sense Offenders”, who are basically anyone that feels an emotion. Preston is good at his job and is ruthless about meting out his twisted version of justice, up to and including, burning the Mona Lisa and killing his partner for reading a volume of Yeats poems in the first ten minutes. R.I.P. Sean Bean. Again. He’s really good at getting killed in the first act of anything isn’t he?

Preston’s back story is tragic because his wife who seems to have loved him, was executed by the same police force he works for. He has since dedicated his life to stamping out all those who feel emotion and is very good at spotting anyone who does. But, he ends up missing a dose of his emotion suppressing drug and starts to feel. Meanwhile, Taye Diggs, who plays Andrew Brandt, a replacement Cleric for Sean Bean’s character, is starting to suspect something is up with Preston. There is a bit of cat and mouse and Preston does some things he’s later not proud of. He ends up meeting Mary O’brien who is played by Emily Watson. It turns out she was dating the Sean Bean character. Preston brings her in but his world view is starting to change.

The movie continues with a bit of action, some subterfuge, some back and forth and lots of gun violence and slick action sequences. In the end, we of course want to see Preston beat “Father” who is the man behind the totalitarian regime. We also want to see Preston show some emotion to his own children. I won’t tell you quite how we get those answers but I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to just say the good guys generally win.

There is also this stark contrast from the beginning of the film, full of drab and dark colors, including the uniform the Clerics wear, that changes at the end when Preston dons a white suit, because, you know, good guy and all.

As enjoyable as the film was, I still wanted to know a few things.

  1. Okay, so emotion is bad but even these Clerics go around talking about being proud or feeling guilt or whatever. The also say things like good morning. Good is pretty subjective and an emotion could be attached there so are these Clerics just exempt or what? It doesn’t seem like it since they have to take the drugs too. How do they define emotion? I didn’t see the consistency here at all.
  2. The Clerics are specially trained to be total killers. They go through this rigorous program and are able to beat hordes of people shooting at them. How do they do this? Because they train to counter the angles of gunfire that are most probable to come at them. Essentially the point is that they would use probability and physics to best their opponents. While that sounds and looks really cool, uh I have a question here. Has no one ever killed one of these guys because they held their gun at a weird angle, got off a random shot accidentally, or you know, found out this secret method of training that seems to happen in the middle of the public and like, lowered their gun by three degrees? I mean really, it seemed to me that maybe James Bond wouldn’t have a shot at killing these guys but what about Mr. Magoo? How did that Cleric die? The guy couldn’t see that well so he shot at a 34 degree angle and well, what can you do about that am I right?
  3. My next question is about the emotion suppressing drug. How the heck did they get that formula so perfect? It seems to be an absolutely identical injection for every human taken at the exact same time. No one has a weird reaction to this? Not a single person feels no effect from this? Heck, we can’t even give Tylenol to the entire human population without huge problems for a good portion of people so, whoever made that drug, give them a raise.
  4. Back to the Cleric emotion thing, there is one point where Taye Diggs’ character and Christian Bale’s character are facing off in a fight, in front of the head honcho of the dystopia. Diggs, great actor that he is, is clearly angry during the whole kerfuffle. I mean no question from his body language and what he says. How did he not get fired for that?!?! I mean that is an emotion! Anger is an emotion, so what the heck. And to believe the dictator here, what he wants is to stomp out these negative emotions that caused war in the past. I can’t say for certain how WWIII starts in this because they don’t say but I bet you anger was involved. Come on evil megalomaniac if you are gonna make that big a stink about reading poetry, get rid of people getting mad too.
  5. Christian Bale lives in this drab apartment with no decorations on the walls and no sheets or blankets or pillows on his bed. They show him at least twice sleeping on his bicep. So, uh, are pillows just to emotional in this world or what? Like, no you can’t have a pillow because you will cause a war if your neck is comfortable. Burn that.
  6. There are a ton of hidden rooms in this movie. Preston is really good at looking at or feeling a wall and punching through to find like a secret room with all kinds of art. Who built this stuff? I mean how do you get a secret contractor so you can build a room where you look at art and play a phonograph? Vinyl was really in during this whole movie too btw.
  7. My last questions get kind of involved and give a bit of a spoiler for the end so again be warned before you read on. The guy who was supposed to be Father is really a sort of simulation that is run by another guy we have seen earlier in the film. This guys plan is to get Preston to start to feel something so that he would be able to join the resistance so that he can get to the resistance to wipe them all out. So Preston does do that, then they trick Preston into coming to where this guy is in a ruse to make it seem like the resistance wants Preston to kill Father. But it turns out that Father brought Preston there so he could kill Preston, knowing that a. Preston is deadly and b. there are still members of the resistance out there. I have two questions about this. First, wasn’t there a freaking simpler way to get to the resistance? You had a woman who was taken prisoner you could have just let her go and then followed her. Pretty sure you could have found them then. Secondly, why would you bring Preston to you to kill him? I mean Taye Diggs’ character had like thirty-seven opportunities to just shoot him at point blank range. Why do that though, when you can bring him to your bunker so that he can just mow through all your dudes and kill you right? I mean, I guess that’s what we needed for the movie to happen? Classic bad guy stupid move and in my opinion it takes what was a smart movie and makes it dumber than it should be.

All that being said, there was some sweet, sweet sword fighting going on, so all good.

I hope you are all staying safe out there and that you enjoyed this review. If you want to feel like you are living in the film, you know, turn on the news. The film is better though, it’s fictional.

Equilibrialy 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!

Bastion Awakens – #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 sovereign empire, the Consortium, defies both science and religion in its race to colonise the Solar System. They carved a God from ones and zeros.
It searches for the Devil.

A hidden planet, Bastion, lies home to a descendant colony of humanity. Its original inhabitants are thought long gone.
But something stirs beneath the surface.

TAREV is a harvester. A moonblood. His life, indebted to the Consortium, entails trudging along the harsh, icy surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan. A life of struggle, harvesting methane for the rest of the Solar System to use, until he and his brother, Sevastian, discover something buried deep within the ice.

Something that will change their lives forever.

ELIA is a Weightless, a gravity wielder, after being injected with the biometal that litters the alien planet on which she lives. She’s also the genetic reprint of an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who paid the ultimate sacrifice over two hundred years ago. Elia struggles to live up to the expectations that come with being a Weightless. She struggles to live normally, while wearing the face of a Catalyst.

She struggles to live, when her planet refuses to die.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

Bastion Awakens is almost two books for the price of one. In one story we follow Tarev, a methane harvester from Titan. His life is not easy and he and his brother Sev do the best they can to make a living. Things seem to be set to improve when they find a huge pocket of methane to mine but they discover something completely unexpected while they are at it. The other story deals with Elia, a so called Weightless from Bastion, a hidden colony that has no contact with the other colonized planets. Elia not only is able to wield and bend gravity to her will, she is also a genetic imprint from an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who died over two hundred years ago. Needless to say, she has huge shoes to fill and is doing the best she can to live up to enormous expectations.

It takes a little while to get your bearings in the book (at least it did for me) but once you see how the stories reflect one another and start to understand the nature of the current state of civilization, the book is utterly gripping. It’s a huge space opera that touches on thematic elements from expectations brought about by ones surroundings, to grief, love, loss and self sacrifice. All this while still having a ton of action and life threatening situations to keep the reader engaged the whole while. And while a reader might wonder what the two stories have to do with one another, by the end, all is made clear, while still leaving questions out there that make one instantly want to read another volume in the saga.

To anyone who loves a good space adventure with intricate complexities and deep human emotions, you have got to read this book. While I am tempted to compare this to something like Dune, in that it takes place in space and there are complex politics happening,this stands in its own right as a unique story. By the end of the book the reader cares deeply about Tarev and Elia and can sympathize with all they have been through, gained and lost. To me this can stand with the best of space fiction and is an absolute must read.

Space Operatically 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!

June 2020 TBR

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here. I’m trying to get a little more organized with my blog so I thought I would post here a quick TBR (To Be Read for those uninitiated) list I have for the month of June. Now, I reserve the right to push these out in case I don’t get through them but I have a few books I am hoping to post reviews for. I’m not a fast reader, so I may or may not make it through them all but here is what I have planned so far.

  1. Bastion Awakens (The Remnant Trilogy Book 1) by Christopher M. Knight

This is an epic space opera. I’m about a quarter of the way through but I am going to review it on Reedsy Discovery so I will definitely finish this one. I’m excited for it because I tend to love a good space opera, if it’s told well.

2. The Garden and Other Stories by Aaron Ramos

This is a collection of 8 science fiction short stories. I’m a sucker for a good short story and I like to read them right before bed as a little “mini-snack” of reading. I hope this one is good and I’ll let you know once I’ve read it.

3. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I’m about half way through this. Yes, I read multiple books at the same time, it’s just how I roll. So far, this has been, as I would expect, outstanding. There are original thoughts and concepts here and it’s mind bogglingly good. I have no idea how the story is going to end. None.

4. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

For years, literally any time I bought a fantasy book that was not in The Wheel of Time series, the cashier would ask me if I had read it. Sad to say, I haven’t but what with quarantine and all, plus an amazon prime show coming up, this definitely feels like the right time and I’m really excited to see what all the buzz is about.

5. The Institute by Stephen King

I have read nearly everything the master of horror has written and I have heard that this is one of his best in years, so I can’t wait to get into it. I do feel like his endings can be disappointing sometimes but almost always when I read a Stephen King book there is enough in it to keep me fascinated and coming back for more.

I’m not sure I’ll get through all these this month but I’m gonna give it my best shot. I hope you’ll come back and read the reviews once I finish. I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading.

Organizedly 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!

Uncut Gems – #MovieReview

The One Where Adam Sandler Yells and Kevin Garnett Obsesses Over a Rock

Have you ever seen an Adam Sandler movie where he didn’t yell like a maniac? I don’t think I have. Some of his movies are funny and he has one or two that are better than the rest. But this one is supposed to be different because… it’s a drama? Okay, yeah, that makes this yelling different I guess? Also, Kevin Garnett is in this so, that makes it different too?

I just watched Uncut Gems, and while I can see why some people think this is the performance of Adam Sandler’s lifetime, I don’t see it. Fair warning because I am going to spoil this movie in this review. If you want to watch first before you read on, you have been warned.

Uncut Gems is a story about a jeweler who has purchased well… uncut gems. He is hoping to sell them at an auction to make a huge profit over what he paid for it. The jeweler, played by Adam Sandler, is in major gambling debt, is having a terrible time in his relationships with his wife and children, and scams every third person he sees.

One day, Kevin Garnett, played by, uh Kevin Garnett of course, shows up to the jeweler’s store. After trying to sell hims some stuff, Adam Sandler shows Garnett his uncut gems. Garnett asks to borrow it and the jeweler lets him. Sandler then places huge bets on the game, because, you know, gambling addiction, and as you might expect, things get worse from there.

The rest of the film basically follows Adam Sandler running around, scamming people, and chasing down Kevin Garnett to get the rock back. Meanwhile, a bunch of goons are after Adam Sandler because he owes them money. There is a lot of yelling, a lot of toxic masculinity happening, and a somewhat shocking end.

I did think the performances in this were actually good, and I can see why people respected Sandler’s performance. But here’s the thing with this one, it’s just any of Sandler’s characters if they were not funny and they got to say the f word every three seconds. I didn’t really feel like there was much point to this film somehow. It was just a lot of run around and trying to keep up with how Sandler scammed whoever got a little exhausting.

Honestly, to me the bright spot in this was Kevin Garnett. He plays himself but there are professional athletes who have a hard time pulling even that much off. I’d sort of like to see him in a different movie, actually playing a character in the future.

While this movie got some award buzz, it’s really not there in my mind for winning. I think Sandler could have an Oscar turn in him sometime but between this one and Punch Drunk Love, I prefer the latter.

Another side note here is that they have Idina Menzel in it but she doesn’t sing. That’s a complete waste of talent, although she does a great job as an actress here.

I did have a few thoughts on the movie.

  1. The very beginning shows a horrific accident that happens in the mine where the gem is discovered. It then transitions to Adam Sandler’s colon. I am not kidding. His colon! Did we have to see that? I mean really?
  2. The jewelry store that Sandler works out of is in some upper story of a building and you had to be buzzed in to get to the store. I’ll be honest, the whole geography of the store in the building confused the hell out of me. I couldn’t tell what freaking floor it was on, let alone how you would ever hear about this place. Who runs a jewelry store like that?
  3. Speaking of that door, it sticks and is a major, major plot point in this thing. You know what I couldn’t help thinking? Why wouldn’t you get that fixed?!?!?!?
  4. What kind of an idiot loans a gem that you think is worth a million dollars to anyone, even if it is just overnight? This is one of those films that could have been over five minutes in if the main character had made one single rational decision.
  5. Adam Sandler in this movie is like, the worst husband and father ever. Like seriously, the worst. In addition he seems to have an apartment while also living in a house with his wife and kids. Just seeing how sleazy this guy is, how in the hell is the wife ever surprised at the terrible stuff he does?
  6. Speaking of which, why is anyone friends with this dude?
  7. Also, how does he know freaking everybody? Is being a jeweler how you get famous? Man, I missed my calling.
  8. The door with the buzzer seems to let you in or out. I was also under the impression that you could let someone only in or out with it. At the end there are some guys who are really mad at Adam Sandler (justifiably so) but Sandler lets them into rather than out of the store. Not that the guy deserves what happens next, but that was a stupid, stupid move.
  9. I really did not need to see Sandler ugly cry.
  10. Could we just have The Wedding Singer 2 next time Sandler is going for dramatic yelling? Please?

I hope you all stay safe out there and if you see any uncut opals, don’t lend them to Kevin Garnett. Just don’t.

Sparklingly 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!

Best 5 Fantasy Graphic Novels Every Kid Should Read

Slick Dungeon here and I was just thinking about some of the books that made me love fantasy. While I love reading books like Lord of the Rings, I also love a good graphic novel. And for kids, sometimes a more complex fantasy book can be boring. So I thought I would give you my recommendations for five fantasy graphic novels that I think all kids should read. At what age they should read them is entirely dependent on the kid but the subject matter in these is age appropriate for kids under 12 in general. Here are my top five.

5. Amulet

This book starts out with a major tragedy so just a fair warning there but it gets us into a magical land full of Elven kings, mechanical rabbits, giant robots and a brother and sister fighting against evil. The tragedy at the beginning is worth every page thereafter, the art is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s a magical read. It’s not overly word heavy, so even early readers can enjoy a good portion of this.

4. Coraline

While my favorite version of this story is the original book, the graphic novel makes great use of tone and setting to set a visually stunning story. This is more of a dark fantasy than an epic fantasy and some kids do get scared by it. I can see how the other mother could creep someone out but honestly, I think it’s healthy for kids to have a good scare now and again. And this book is utterly memorable and a great ride for kids.

3. Oddly Normal

It’s tough having a mother from a magical land and a father from Earth. Oddly Normal is ten years old and just wants to make friends at school. Making a wish when blowing out her candles on her birthday cake leads her to travel to Fignation to uncover the mystery of her parents disappearance and a fantastical adventure fighting monstrous bullies and Evil itself. With sophisticated literary references, this makes this a good read for adults too. A vampire named Bram? Count me in.

2. The Witch Boy

Boys become shapeshifters and girls become witches. 13 year old Aster has not shifted and his real interest is in witchery. This book takes on gender stereotypes while still providing a wholly satisfying fantasy story. The artwork is charming and it’s great for kids ages 8-12 but I think it’s still a great read even if you are older.

1. Bone

This is Jeff Smith’s opus and it is magnificent. This ran for 15 years and you used to only be able to get it in black and white single issues. Now you can get the whole volume in lovely color for a reasonable price. Don’t let the cartoonish look of the three main characters fool you, this is a complex and interesting story. It’s an epic fantasy that can stand alongside the best of them. If you read the second volume, The Great Cow Race, and are not charmed by it, you have no heart or no soul. And if you stick with it until the end, you will be able to see what a beautiful, well crafted, and intelligent story this is. If you don’t read a single other book I recommend here, pick this one up, trust me, it’s worth it.

Honorable mentions

These next two have content that some parents might find a little mature for under 12 but it really depends on the child and the family. I think that there are definitely kids under 12 this is suitable for but not all parents and families will love some of the content. For this reason, I would say that I still recommend these but you may just want to give a read before giving it to your kids. And hey, you might find out that you love these too!

The Mice Templar

This is about an order of mice Templar who once preserved order in the natural world. The brotherhood was broken and now predators and scavenger creatures rule the land. One mouse is prophesied to change the world. This is listed as for ages 13-16, mainly because the dialogue can be more complex than some of the others on this list and because there is a fair amount of violence in it. It’s a complicated and gripping read though, and well worth the time. A good reader at age 10 who can stomach a little bit of battlefield action is probably okay to read this. Still, like I said, be sure to read ahead if you don’t know if you are comfortable with your kid reading this.

Elfquest

Elfquest is the longest running independent fantasy series in the USA. It lasted for a whopping 40 years exactly. With a series that long running, there is clearly an appeal to it. There are things here that can be considered more mature and not just when it comes to violence if you know what I mean. But it’s such an epic tale that I think almost any kid or adult could easily latch onto it. There’s a huge story here and it would be nearly impossible for me to summarize it, so let me just say, it’s one of the greatest epic fantasy tales ever told.

There you have it. Let me know what you thought of my list. Did I miss your favorite? If so, let me know and I’ll add it to my TBR list if I haven’t heard of it.

Comically 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!

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 too 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

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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!