Top 5 Tabletop RPG’s to play in 2022

You probably don’t need this many dice to play but it can’t hurt

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I wanted to talk about the top 5 roleplaying games I think you should play this year. Just a note, this list is designed for people who are newer to role playing games so if you are an experienced player or game master there’s a chance you already play several of these games. But you never know, maybe you’ll find something here you haven’t seen before!

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

Without any further ado let’s get on with the list!

5. Call of Cthulhu: 7th Edition

Call of Cthulhu Starter Set

After Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu is my favorite role playing game of all time. Unlike the sword and sorcery of D&D this game starts its characters from a realistic place. Sure, you will end up fighting cosmic monsters, weird things from beyond the grave, and the unknowable fathoms of human evil but your characters are fundamentally fragile. In this game, a bullet is more than enough to kill your character. It’s usually best to avoid combat whenever possible but if you do get into combat, it’s usually a lot of fun. While this is a horror game, the horror level tends to be a roughly PG-13 vibe although as Keeper you can increase or decrease the intensity however you want. The rules system is pretty easy to learn although it does take some time to get used to. However, my main reason for putting this game on the list here besides all of that is the phenomenal starter set you can get for this game. In the set you get character sheets, dice, introductory rules and a couple of scenarios. You get all of this for $5.99 but right now on Drivethrurpg.com you can get it for just $4.49. And one thing to mention is that the scenario Alone Against the Flames which comes in the box, is a solo campaign. This means if you’re on the fence about whether your group will enjoy it or not you can play through a whole scenario (which also does a great job of teaching you the rules) by yourself to see if it’s something you are into. The price is really good here for what amounts to hours of fun. If you want to get the set and help out this blog click the image above or click right here to order your own set!

4. Tiny Dungeon: Second Edition

Tiny Dungeon: Second Edition

Tiny Dungeon is minimalist fantasy role play and when the game designers say that, they mean it. You can literally fit everything you need for your characters on a 3×5 index card. You only need d6 (the typical dice you find in most board games) and two people to get started. It is recommended you have one game master and three adventurers but you can do this game one on one and have a great time. If you have younger kids this can be a gateway into other role playing games as they get older. Also, if you have always wanted to play a role playing game but were intimidated by all the fancy books, little set pieces, and number of dice you see on a table, this is the perfect antidote to that problem. It’s fast to learn and fun to play. For this game there is not a starter set but it’s straight forward enough all you really need to start is in the PDF you can get on Drivethrurpg.com. That version retails for $17.99 but it’s on sale for $11.69 right now. But if you get are like me, you like to have your hands on a physical book. I’d recommend going with the PDF + Softcover black and white book option. This is usually $42.99 but you can get it today for $28.25. Again, if you want to help out this blog you can but through the image above or click here.

3. Traveller

Traveller Core Rulebook

A top 5 list of tabletop rpg’s would not be complete without at least one space game. There are licensed games for Star Wars, Star Trek, and Alien just to name a few. I thought about putting one of those on this list but I think Traveller is great because it does not fall into our preconceived notions of those franchises. You get to have your own version of space in your head as you play. This book walks you through the rules, how to create characters, and basically everything you need to create an adventure to go explore the galaxy. Be forewarned, much like Dungeons & Dragons, there are a million books out there you can get so if you do start Traveller and enjoy it, you can end up getting in deep fast. If you are into space travel games this one is a great choice and it’s been around for a long time so it’s easy to find other people who have been playing a long time who can give you advice about running the game. Usually this book sells for $30.00 but you can get a mild discount today with a price of $25.50. Get your copy at the image above or by clicking here.

2. Worlds Without Number

Worlds Without Number by Kevin Crawford

In my mind Kevin Crawford is one of the most outstanding game designers out there. He has an excellent space rpg called Stars Without Number. It’s an expansive game with pretty clear rules and it was a definite hit in the tabletop rpg world. Now he has set his mind to sword and sorcery fantasy with Worlds Without Number. It’s fully compatible with its predecessor but you do not have to play that game for Worlds Without Number to be enjoyable. I would say this game is a little more gritty than D&D but it sort of takes the best parts of the OSR rules system and allows the great narrative of the 5th edition rule set of Dungeons & Dragons. The rules are unique to this game but if you have played D&D of any version you’ll catch on very quickly. It’s got a very sandbox feel, meaning you can make any kind of adventures you want to without feeling restricted by an adventure module of some kind. The best part of this, however, is that you can start this game for nothing. The free set of rules is quite comprehensive and does give you everything you need to get started. If you’re not sure if this game is for you, you can get the free version. Just scroll down on the description when you click the link in the image or click here. If you already know you like sword and sorcery role playing games, I do recommend you get the PDF which you can get for $16.99 today by clicking here.

1. Dungeons & Dragons: 5th Edition

Dungeons & Dragons Photo Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Dungeons & Dragons is the undisputed king of all role playing games. It’s the most popular, it’s hitting the cultural zeitgeist harder than ever before, and it’s easy to find in pretty much any book store, hobby shop, or toy store you go into. While not everyone in the world loves the game, and there is valid debate as to which edition is the most fun to play, I think the best version of this game ever is the 5th edition. It’s extremely flexible, it’s hours upon hours upon hour upon hours of fun. It can be full of humor, drama, horror, and lifelong memories. It’s understandable if you are intimidated by the sheer volume of what is out there but that’s part of why this game is so great. There are any number of resources at your fingertips. And while there are a million books for D&D 5th edition (not to mention miniatures, maps, and other supporting materials) you do not have to buy a single one of them to start playing. I always recommend new players simply go to the Dungeons & Dragons website and download the Basic Rules. The website will try to get you to buy the starter sets and essentials kits and stuff like that. Don’t start there. Take a look at the basic rules and give them a read through. If they are something you are into, get a group of friends together, play a game and decide if you want to commit to any more before you spend a dime. One thing you may need to pay for is a set of gaming dice but honestly, if you are okay just using an app on a phone, you don’t even need those. Also, if you happen to have kids who want to play this game but you’re not sure how to begin, check out my series on playing D&D with kids called Kids Kill Monsters. Honestly, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Well, that’s the list. What games are you looking forward to playing in the coming year? If you have any good recommendations drop them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Unfriended

Unfriended 2014 Film

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hello people, it’s me Slick Dungeon! I’m back to review another movie for you. If you haven’t seen Unfriended from 2014 you may want to click away from your instant messaging apps, hang up from Skype and log off of Facebook so you can go watch the movie before I spoil the whole thing for you in this review. You have been warned.

For this review, I’m going to start with the good. The acting here is really solid and all the performances are more than believable. The idea of the movie is pretty clever. Basically, a teen girl was bullied into suicide a year ago. A year later a group of her friends are on a Skype call and weird things start happening. At first they blame one another but it’s soon obvious that it’s at the very least a hacker, if not something more supernatural trying to torment them. They use the technology of the time in a way where if that happened to you, you would probably be pretty freaked out by it. This did lend to some mystery and a few decent scare moments. I thought this was a good setup and was hoping for something good to come out of it.

Which brings me to the bad. Some of the problems of this movie are that you are basically watching a zoom call and people typing, editing, re-typing and all of the annoying things you see in a chat message in real life. This has the effect of being distracting and sometimes boring. There are also a ton of pop up windows, resizing frames, moving stuff around on the screen etc. that are just distracting and sort of pointless here. Some of this is actually a function of the fact that this was made in 2014 and it’s honestly kind of impressive how far we have come from then in the way of communication tools.

And like almost all good horror movies there is a twist at the end. I’ve got to say this twist was so obvious and telegraphed that I didn’t find it shocking at all. It’s pretty much what I expected. I think maybe in 2014 this would have worked but it doesn’t in my opinion now.

I feel like this would be an interesting re-make in the age of zoom meetings though and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something out there like this that I don’t know about. Overall, this was an okay movie but I think the thing I found most horrifying in it was the video connection speeds and user interfaces we used to put up with. (shudder)

Digitally yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Fantastic Four #7

Fantastic Four Issue #7 Photo Credit: Marvel

The Fantastic Four are generally well regarded by the public but there is a subsection of people in the 616 universe that don’t like them for a variety of reasons. Issue seven of the series sees an alien from “Planet X” who is able to amplify these negative feelings on Earth.

This is Kurrgo who is a mostly forgettable villain and basically somewhat of a fuzzy alien who simply wants to dominate his people into subjugation. He has a problem though. You see his planet is faced with an impending disaster. It’s about to be hit by another planet racing towards its orbit. The habitants of Planet X only have a limited amount of space travel and they’ve only built two space ships.

Bizarrely, Kurrgo, thinks his best method of saving his planet is to amplify negative feelings of animosity towards the Fantastic Four so that he can capture them and then bring them back to his home planet where they will save his citizens. I guess it’s not much fun being an authoritarian when there are no people to boss around. After a bit of a fight and some showing off of the fantasti-car, the superhero team does end up on Planet X. Johnny and Ben Grimm don’t take very kindly to being abducted but Reed Richards is more interested in the scientific reveals and problem facing him.

I think the most significant moment of the entire issue has to do with one short encounter where Johnny Storm, aka, The Human Torch gets frustrated and tries to melt the robot that had a hand in abducting the group. Johnny realizes since he is not on Earth he does not have to restrain his powers. He says, “I can match the fiery blaze of an exploding star… a super nova!!” This is the first time we see him get close to his most intense power. It shows he has the potential for incredible destruction and lets us know how hard it might be for him to keep those powers in check. The only reason he doesn’t fully unleash his power is because it would hit his sister Sue Storm. We know now that even in his most powerful state, Johnny will take caution not to hurt those he cares about. And we also see that Johnny, despite constantly bickering with The Thing, truly cares about his friend. Johnny only attacked because the robot had flung Ben Grimm to the ground.

Reed does come up with a solution for the citizens of Planet X. He makes a “shrinking gas” that allows the whole population to fit on their two rocket ships. He also says he has an enlarging gas antidote that can restore these aliens to their original size. Kurrgo ends up trying to keep the enlarging gas for himself so he can still dominate his subjects. He’s out of luck though because they take off without him. I have no idea how they figured out piloting the ship when they were the size of ants but we’ll leave that question for now. Also, the shrinking gas is very reminiscent of Henry Pym’s formula that allows him to shrink to about the same size. It makes one wonder if Reed was aware of Pym’s research.

Reed seemingly outsmarts Kurrgo because there never was an enlarging gas. It was a little unclear why Reed would lie about it but it seems he knew Kurrgo would make the move to grab this gas and that the rocket ship would leave without Kurrgo. The most ironic thing about this is that when we get the big reveal of Reed tricking Kurrgo, there is a misprint and Reed says there was no reducing gas. We know for sure there was because earlier in the issue Reed had tested it. It leads for a moment of confusion as a reader but I guess we just chalk this one up to Reed being distracted as usual?

Fantastic Four Issue 7 Photo Credit: Marvel

Mostly, other than the incredible power Johnny displayed, this is a forgettable issue but there will be tons of adventures similar to this one as we go along.

Next on the list we will be stepping away from three quarters of the Fantastic Four as we look in on Johnny Storm on his own in Strange Tales #101!

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

Find Fantastic Four comics on Amazon

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Censor – Movie Review

Censor 2021 Film

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey out there internet, it’s me Slick Dungeon back to review another movie for you. I found this little horror gem on Hulu called Censor. I’m going to give mild spoilers below so be forewarned.

In the 1980’s in Brittain there was what was called the “Video Nasty” controversy. Basically, there were a lot of low budget, mostly horror, films that were put on videotape but never went through the British version of what our MPAA would be. There was a loophole because video is not the same as film. This caused some controversy because this meant it was possible for kids to get their hands on some pretty gory stuff. And there were religious organizations who thought even watching this stuff could lead to real world violence.

I only mention all of this because it’s necessary to know a little bit about that in order to fully enjoy Censor. In the movie, Enid Baines is working at the British Board of Film Classification where they are going through a backlog of these videos. When Enid was little her younger sister disappeared and Enid was there when it happened. She doesn’t have a full memory of exactly what happened but Enid believes her sister could still be alive. One day while at work she sees a video with an actress that she is convinced is her sister.

I can’t go much further into the plot from there without spoiling things so I’m going to stop there with the description. However, I can say the film is deeply psychological and keeps you guessing. I imagine there will be a segment of viewers who don’t appreciate the ending but in my opinion it was cleverly done. There is some gore in this movie, some of which looks rather fake, and some of which looks much better. If you are averse to gore this would be one to skip. But if you can handle that sort of thing this is a great little film to watch. It’s well acted and has interesting twists to it.

If you’re looking for something with a bit of blood but that is also smart, definitely check this one out.

Cleverly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 15

D&D Campaign Adventures for Mythic Odysseys of Theros - 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 youwalked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarfrole playing an elfrole playing a halflingrole playing a humanrole playing a dragon bornrole playing a gnomerole playing a half-elfrole playing a half-orcrole playing a Tiefling. and talked about Class. I also showed you how to play as a Barbarian Today we are going to talk about playing as a Bard.

That’s right, get your lutes out, do a few warm up vocal exercises, and get ready for people to toss coins and rotten tomatoes at you because we are talking about Bards. Bards are often the butt of a joke in movies, books, and video games but in Dungeons & Dragons bards are multitalented jacks of all trades who not only support the party they play along with but who can literally kill monsters with the power of their words.

Playing a bard can be a ton of fun and while they do often fall into stereotypes, they don’t have to. There are a few unique challenges for kids who may want to play a Bard and I will get into those later in the post. If a kid is interested in a character who has musical talent, loves to act, or just simply enjoys telling a wonderful tale while her compatriots sit by the fire, a Bard is the way to go.

Bards are often considered a support class in Dungeons & Dragons, meaning their primary role is to help the party gain some benefits and advantages when making skill checks or in combat. However, Bards can be fierce on their own. This all depends on what type of spells they use and what College they gain skills from.

One thing to remember in Dungeons & Dragons is that there is a vibration to the magic in the world. Bards, whether they sing, play an instrument, or simply tell a good story are tapping into these vibrations with their words and can channel this energy into usable magic.

I’ve seen a lot of Bards based on actual celebrities and that can be really fun. As adults, a lot of players use Bards to be, let’s just say overly flirtatious. Those may not be great examples for kids to play. When a kid plays a Bard I think it’s usually best for them to think of what would inspire them to go out into the world to spread music, stories, or other entertainment into the world. This usually gives a good touch point to play a Bard.

Unfortunately, in a lot of media Bards do get a bad rap and it’s kind of hard to point to a great example of a good Bard. But if you think about someone like Orpheus from Greek myth that would be a great starting point. His words and music were enough to influence the gods. Theoretically a Bard can become that impressive. Also, if your group does like to be silly and one of your players loves to be the center of that silliness, well, you can’t go wrong with a Bard in that situation.

Alright, without further ado, let’s get into what it means to play a Bard.

Creating a Bard

When you first play Dungeons & Dragons with kids and the basic rules tell you what to use for a quick build I would say it’s probably best to start there. It’s the least amount of poring over and trying to figure out stats you can do and since this part was written by the game designers you tend to get a fairly balanced class out of it. The one place you might change is in the suggested backgrounds. I feel like the backgrounds are more a role playing choice than a mechanic (although they have that too) and thus should be left up to the kid playing. Also, for those who don’t know, when I talk about “mechanics” I just mean how the rules operate, usually with some number crunching involved.

What do the basic rules suggest we do with our bard?

For this class the rules recommend putting your highest ability score in Charisma, followed by Dexterity. These are great choices because a Bard has to have high Charisma in order to cast spells and they usually want the spotlight anyway. Dexterity is good for two reasons. First, if your party is using a Bard to give buffs to other players you want that to happen early in the round and Dexterity is what helps determine who goes first. Secondly, the weapons Bards will be proficient in are mostly Dexterity based weapons so again you want this number to be high.

The basic rules next recommend the Entertainer background. In a later series of posts I will go more into each background but I will say that Entertainer can be a great choice for a Bard but it is not the only choice. A Bard could come from a noble establishment and have the Noble background. Perhaps they became titled simply because of how well they entertained some Lord or other. Another good background might be Sage and the Bard could be spreading the knowledge they gain through tales they tell of the cosmos. Criminal is another good background for Bards. What easier way to hide one’s habit of pickpocketing than to be the one person in the room who is supposed to have coins in their pockets? All these backgrounds and more are possibilities so just choose something interesting for the kid to play. Make sure she relates to it well enough for it to be fun.

The basic rules also recommend taking the following spells. Dancing Lights and Vicious Mockery as cantrips and the following spells at first level – Charm Person, Detect Magic, Healing Word, and Thunderwave.

This is the first class I have gone into that relies on magic. I’ll get around to a more in depth post about how magic works in the future but for now the spells above are all solid choices for a Bard and I would go with those if you have not played D&D before. Since we do mention them here I will give a quick description of what each of these spells does but we’ll leave the mechanics for later.

But before I get into that let’s talk about what a cantrip is and what a leveled spell is. For a lot of magical casters in Dungeons & Dragons they use what are called spell slots and leveled spells.

The exception to this is what are called cantrips. Basically, a character can cast a cantrip whenever they want. They don’t run out of this magic and they can do it over and over with no penalty just for casting it. (Although if you cast the spell bonfire in a dark room and suddenly a swarm of goblins sees you, well, that’s your fault)

Every other type of spell is leveled and typically uses a spell slot. The spell slot is the number of spells you can cast per day. As characters level up, they earn more of these slots. The spells themselves have a level as well. So for example, you can have two 2nd level spell slots but know three 1st level spells. In this case you can cast a 1st level spell at 2nd level, increasing it’s power.

I know that’s still a little confusing and we will get more into it down the line but for now the best way to know about a spell is to just learn what it does. So let’s take a look at these recommended spells.

Cantrips:

Dancing Lights – This spell allows you to create four separate lights that look like torches, orbs or lanterns. You can also combine these lights to make a vaguely humanoid shape. This spell is great when you need to see but it’s also an amazing distraction when needed.

Vicious Mockery – This is one of my favorite spells in the entire game. This spell allows a Bard to insult a creature, whether they can understand the words or not, and causes that creature to take psychic damage and have disadvantage on its next attack roll. It’s a case of words can actually hurt you. For a good number of players this spell is the whole reason they play a Bard in the first place.

It can be great fun to use this spell and I have seen a lot of players come up with actual insults that do some damage to creatures. As adults there’s no real issue with doing that and it’s super fun seeing how clever the Bard can be with an insult.

With this spell there is a bit of caution I have to give when playing with younger kids. It’s a lot of fun to have a kid get to make silly insults at a monster they are fighting and have that monster take some damage. But sometimes kids who are playing together might use this spell on a player character. Some kids have no problem with this and feel like they are in on the joke. But other kids can’t separate themselves being insulted from their character being insulted. So when I play this with kids, I allow them to come up with insults (silly not mean ones) directed towards any monster they fight. But if they want to cast the spell at another player character, I tell them they should just say they cast the spell but not go into insults. This doesn’t have to be your rule but I do advise caution on how you handle this particular spell with kids.

1st level spells:

Charm Person: This one is a lot like what it sounds like. This spell, if it succeeds, makes the target (who must be a humanoid) charmed by the spellcaster. This doesn’t mean they will do anything at all that the Bard says but the target will be more friendly towards the spellcaster. Once the spell ends, the same target knows it was charmed so if the spell goes away, there well could be trouble. This spell also ends if the target is attacked by the party. It’s best to try Charm Person before the Barbarian goes into rage mode and accidentally knocks the target out of the spell.

Detect Magic: This is another spell that does what it sounds like. It can identify if magic is in the area. There are definite limitations to it as it can’t tell you more than that magic is present and what school of magic it might be. This is great for doing things like identifying that traps are present but it’s still up to the players to figure out how to disarm it.

Healing Word: This is one of the most important spells if your Bard is there to support the party. It allows creatures to regain hit points which can be essential in a combat. If you play a Bard I definitely recommend taking this spell and using it often.

Thunderwave: Other than Vicious Mockery the spells listed above are all either to distract an enemy or help heal. Of course a Bard needs at least one attack spell and Thunderwave is a great choice. It is again a lot like it sounds. It sends a wave of thunderous force in the direction the caster sends it and does thunder damage. It of course comes with a thunderous sound and can push unsecured objects 10 feet back. There’s nothing like seeing a friendly, happy Bard suddenly ring out with thunder and knock enemies to the floor.

A final note about magic here. These are not the only spells you can choose but they are a great starting list for this class. Before you or any kids you play with make final decisions be sure to take a look at the rules and make sure these are the spells they want. I also have sometimes had a kid playing who wanted to change spells mid-game. I usually allow this between sessions but not during a session. If a spell doesn’t work the way a kid expects it can be frustrating to be stuck with it. They can at higher levels change these when they level up anyway. Just make sure the replacement spell is of a similar level to the original spell.

Class Features

Hit dice: Bards get to use a d8 when figuring out their hit points and hit dice. This is pretty typical for spell casting classes and if rolled well can be a considerable amount of health. For your hit dice you get 1d8 per bard level.

Hit points: At first level it’s 1d8 + your constitution modifier. For every level after that you get 1d8 (or 5 if you are using averages) + your Constitution modifier per bard level after 1st.

Just a quick note here because I know this was confusing to me when I learned to play. What is the difference between hit dice and hit points? Hit dice you get to roll when you take a short rest. These will be however many d8s you roll per level. You get to add the number you roll to your hit points if you have taken any damage. Your hit points are how many points of health you have. The easiest analogy is probably a health bar in a video game. If that number gets down to zero or below, you are likely in trouble. When you roll your hit dice you get to refill that bar. And just like in a video game, you can’t exceed the maximum of your health even if you roll higher than that number.

Proficiencies: These are basically things you are good at. A bard has several proficiencies to begin with.

Armor: Light Armor. Bards are not known to be warriors capable of wearing heavy armor and wielding heavy weapons. Rather they are quick and light on their feet so the only armor they are proficient in to begin with is light armor.

Weapons: Bards are good with Simple weapons, hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, and shortswords. These are all light, easy to use weapons perfect for a Bard to carry.

Tools: Bards get to have three musical instruments of their choice. This makes a lot of sense because these instruments can literally channel magic.

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma. Saving throws are when you might befall an attack or damage of some kind. If the check for that attack or damage calls for dexterity or charisma you are going to be glad you are a bard.

Skills: Choose any three. Bards are basically good at almost anything they put their minds to so getting to choose any three is a nice, wide selection. You’ll probably want to tailor the choices to what the campaign will be most dealing with so try to choose skills that will work well in multiple situations.

Equipment:

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a rapier, (b) a longsword, or (c) any simple weapon
  • (a) a diplomat’s pack or (b) an entertainer’s pack
  • (a) a lute or (b) any other musical instrument
  • Leather armor and a dagger

A lot of the items here are useful for a Bard but the musical instrument is often the most useful.

Spellcasting: The basic rules say this about the Bard’s spellcasting ability. “You have learned to untangle and reshape the fabric of reality in harmony with your wishes and music. Your spells are part of your vast repertoire, magic that you can tune to different situations.” In other words the music of a Bard is literally magical and can reshape reality. Pretty cool right?

Cantrips: We talked about these a little bit above but at the start a Bard gets to take two cantrips from the Bard spell list. There are several to choose from so take a look at the rules to decide what is best for the character.

Spell Slots: We’ll go further in depth on spell slots in a future post. Just know there is a table in the basic rules that tells you how many spells and of what level a Bard can have. This changes as they progress through the levels of the game and earn more spells as they go on.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher: To start out with a Bard gets four 1st level spells from the Bard spell list. This again increases according to the table in the simple rules.

Spellcasting Ability: Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your bard spells. This is why you want to put your highest ability score into Charisma. It increases the magic potential of the character and makes attack, defense, and healing spells all work better.

We’ll get more into this when we take a deep dive into spellcasting but for now just know more Charisma is good for Bards.

Spell Save DC: In this case DC stands for Difficulty Class. Basically it means how hard it is to do something. A spell save DC is how you defend against magic used against you. For a Bard the way they get that number is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. Again, the higher your Charisma, the better. In this case a Bard might cast a spell that forces a creature to make a spell save. In that case the bard uses the formula listed above to know how hard it is for that creature to make that saving throw.

Spell Attack Modifier: This formula is a bit easier to understand. There are several spells that are “attack” spells. It’s very similar to how a Barbarian or fighter might know if their weapon does damage to a creature. The only difference is that in this case it is a magical attack. To know this number a Bard uses this formula 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. Again you can see that Charisma is vital for a Bard. The better the Charisma, the stronger the spell attack.

Ritual Casting: You can cast any bard spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag. This one takes a little bit of explanation. There are certain spells that have what is called a “ritual tag”. This means that rather than using a spell slot, if you have the time and components to do it, you can cast the spell as a ritual. The reason to do this is that it does not cost you a spell slot. The drawback is that it takes time. So, if a Bard wants to Detect Magic in a huge empty room and can take ten minutes to do it, they can take the time to detect magic. Of course, if a pack of goblins come in and interrupt that ritual, the spell is not going to work and the Bard is going to be distracted.

Spell Casting Focus: You can use a musical instrument as a spellcasting focus for your bard spells. We’ll get more into spell casting focuses in a post about spellcasting. Just know that this is why you want to have several instruments as a Bard. You can basically channel magic through it and if you use a spell casting focus, you don’t have to use the material components in spells. This is fantastic and a great benefit to being a Bard.

Bardic Inspiration: Bards are great at inspiring others around them to do better. To fully understand how good this is we need to take a look at what the rules say. From the rules:

“You can inspire others through stirring words or music. To do so, you use a bonus action on your turn to choose one creature other than yourself within 60 feet of you who can hear you. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d6.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Bardic Inspiration die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Bardic Inspiration die at a time.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain any expended uses when you finish a long rest.”

Basically, a Bard gets to allow another player to do better on a roll they make. This is hugely beneficial and makes Bards one of the most essential party members. This also increases as Bards gain levels.

Jack of All Trades: There is a little bit of math to this one but the point is that Bards are good at almost anything they try to do. The feature says, “Starting at 2nd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.” This sounds a bit wonky but it means Bards are much more likely to succeed on ability checks of any type than any other class.

Song of Rest: This one is pretty straightforward. It helps the party gain more health when you rest.

Beginning at 2nd level, you can use soothing music or oration to help revitalize your wounded allies during a short rest. If you or any friendly creatures who can hear your performance regain hit points at the end of the short rest by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regains an extra 1d6 hit points.

Again, this increases with the Bard’s level.

Bard College: We’ll talk a little bit more about this further in the post. But at 3rd level a Bard gets to choose a College that will add to their features. In the basic rules they list two colleges you can choose from, the College of Lore or the College of Valor. Oddly, in the Basic Rules it says they have a description of both but at least in the version on D&D Beyond, they actually don’t list the College of Valor. Don’t worry though, I have you covered and we’ll go into it below.

Expertise: Bards only get better at what they do so this feature is awesome.

At 3rd level, choose two of your skill proficiencies. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of the chosen proficiencies.

You also get to choose another two at 10th level.

Ability Score Improvement:

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Meh. You get to increase some numbers on your stats here which is cool and all but not that nifty as far as role playing goes. We’ll go way more in depth on Ability Scores in a later post.

Font of Inspiration: This one is super helpful to buff the party when needed.

Beginning when you reach 5th level, you regain all of your expended uses of Bardic Inspiration when you finish a short or long rest.

This is really useful and simply put helps the party to attack better and stay alive longer.

Counter Charm: This is another feature that buffs the party as a whole and can come in very handy.

At 6th level, you gain the ability to use musical notes or words of power to disrupt mind-influencing effects. As an action, you can start a performance that lasts until the end of your next turn. During that time, you and any friendly creatures within 30 feet of you have advantage on saving throws against being frightened or charmed. A creature must be able to hear you to gain this benefit. The performance ends early if you are incapacitated or silenced or if you voluntarily end it (no action required).

Magical Secrets: This basically allows you to get more spells. The really neat thing about Bards though is that they can choose spells that are from any spellcasting class. They can take wizard, druid, sorcerer etc. spells if they want to. No other class really gets this so take advantage of it if you are a Bard.

By 10th level, you have plundered magical knowledge from a wide spectrum of disciplines. Choose two spells from any classes, including this one. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard table, or a cantrip.

The chosen spells count as bard spells for you and are included in the number in the Spells Known column of the Bard table.

You get to do this again at 14th and 18th level.

Superior Inspiration: This is way better than it sounds but you have to be at the highest level of the game to gain it.

At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.

This can literally be the difference between a party living and getting completely wiped out.

Bard Colleges: Bards form loose associations, which they call colleges, to facilitate their gatherings and preserve their traditions. This is where they gain a bunch of great features as a class. You’ll want to consider carefully before deciding what College to use though.

College of Lore: Bards who ascribe to the College of Lore know something about everything. They are astute observers and pick up knowledge with ease. These are the people who are willing to tell the truth no matter the risk and no matter what noble it might offend.

Bonus Proficiencies: Again going with the theme of Bards being good at whatever they want to learn when you join the College of Lore at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with three skills of your choice. This sounds simple but it’s really effective at making the Bard a character who can be reliable in almost any situation.

Cutting Words: This is basically a de-buff against any opponents you may be facing. The text from the simple rules sounds complicated but that is the basics of what it means. Here’s the simple rules actual text:

“Also at 3rd level, you learn how to use your wit to distract, confuse, and otherwise sap the confidence and competence of others. When a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, you can use your reaction to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature’s roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can’t hear you or if it’s immune to being charmed.”

Rather than making your party good at something, this allows the Bard to make someone else bad at something.

Additional Magical Secrets: This one is really simple. You get two more spells. You can never have enough spells as a Bard. There are some restrictions as it must be a spell you can actually cast at your level or be a cantrip. But it can be from any class which gives the Bard access to tons of spell possibilities. The exact text from simple rules is below.

“At 6th level, you learn two spells of your choice from any class. A spell you choose must be of a level you can cast, as shown on the Bard table, or a cantrip. The chosen spells count as bard spells for you but don’t count against the number of bard spells you know.”

Peerless Skill: Again, Bards really are good at everything as long as they put their mind to it. No ability shows that quite like peerless skill. Here’s what it says:

“Starting at 14th level, when you make an ability check, you can expend one use of Bardic Inspiration. Roll a Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to your ability check. You can choose to do so after you roll the die for the ability check, but before the DM tells you whether you succeed or fail.”

The long and short of it is that Bardic Inspiration die is a way to make something you are trying to do a lot more likely to happen.

College of Valor: Bards in the College of Valor might be closer to the type of Bards you see in books and movies. They go around telling the tales of what has happened in the past. They also seek out significant events of the day so they can be there to record the tale and spread the word of what happened. They are a bit more likely to engage in close combat so the bonuses reflect that.

Bonus Proficiencies: In the player handbook it says, “When you join the College of Valor at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.”

This is significant because it expands what weapons and armor a Bard can use by a large margin. These Bards can be dangerous and deadly even as they entertain.

Combat Inspiration: For this bonus the Player’s Handbook says, “Also at 3rd level, you learn to inspire others in battle. A creature that has a Bardic Inspiration die from you can roll that die and add the number rolled to a weapon damage roll it just made. Alternatively, when an attack roll is made against the creature, it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Inspiration die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses.”

This benefits anyone in the same party as the Bard and overall makes the whole group more dangerous and deadly. They also can use it for defense which allows the party to live longer.

Extra Attack: This is exactly what it sounds like. You get to attack twice when you normally get to attack once. You get this at 6th level. Here’s what the Player’s Handbook says, “Starting at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.”

Battle Magic: Imagine not only being able to cast a spell but to do that and then follow it up with a vicious weapon attack. Well, that’s exactly what Bards in the College of Valor get to do.

From the Player’s Handbook, “At 14th level, you have mastered the art of weaving spellcasting and weapon use into a single harmonious act. When you use your action to cast a bard spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.”

This makes these Bards extremely effective in combat in a variety of ways. They are not only good spellcasters, these Bards are good fighters.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Bards: There are tons of roleplaying opportunities for kids to play Bards. They can be a lot of fun and tend to be good at what they do. However, there are many ways to play a Bard and they can be funny, full of song, reflective and into history or poetry. One thing most Bards tend to have in common is that they enjoy the spotlight. Some kids may not be comfortable playing in this way. Alternatively it can be great for a kid to use their character to show an aspect of themselves they may not show normally. Like any class make sure any kid you are playing with really wants to play the class. This type of character can often end up on the sidelines helping others during combat. This is great for kids who don’t necessarily want to get up close and personal with the creature attacking them. However, if a kid is really into being the center of attention during combat, a Bard may not be the best choice.

Still, all Bards, like all kids are individuals and there is no wrong way to roleplay them. This class is great fun to play but it also comes with some complexity as it is a spellcasting class. Not only that, Bards have special rules to their spellcasting so they can seem pretty complex. It helps if the Dungeon Master really knows how spells and Bards work the first time a kid plays this class. If you are new to the game I wouldn’t tell a kid you are DM’ing for not to play a Bard if they want to. I would just say, make sure you have really read and understood how they work and let the kid know you are going to learn a bit about it together.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for reading to the end if you are still here with me. Next time we are going to talk about the class that can literally channel divinity as we dive into Clerics.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you) – also note the affiliate links are NOT the MCDM links.

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Book Review – Afterworld

Afterworld by James G. Robertson

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.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Death comes, and misery follows. As a man in his early twenties, Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after his death. Like those before him, he never understood the truth of our universe. After his sudden demise, the terrorizing reality of a mysterious dystopian afterlife begins crushing him as it has those prior. Men have started enslaving and killing each other to sate their greed while enigmatic creatures oppress the masses. Only a select few have shown the courage that is needed to challenge their supremacy.

Through this eclipsing darkness, there is hope. But will that hope prove to be enough to save this turbulent cosmos? The revelations of advanced science, magic, human savagery, and even our gods will be showcased. Both in a new light and disturbing darkness, will the verities of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of our universe; or in turn, begin to break him as they have done to so many before?

REVIEW

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Leon has met with an unfortunate accident. He awakes falling through the air with no parachute to soften his impact. This turns out to be the least of his worries as what happens after is larger than anyone might imagine. He’s in a place called Afterworld where gods, men and women, and monsters all fight for power and supremacy.

Afterworld has an interesting premise in which all of the worlds religions have been preparing man for one thing and one thing only, to be able to fight dark gods from another universe. There is a fair amount of action and a bit of gore in the book. We see most of the action from Leon’s perspective. While a lot of the action and story is intriguing, it would have been nice to see Leon taking a bit more of an active role in the book.

The gods and creatures are fairly unique and so is the premise so that may be enough to keep readers going. Leon gets to interact with people who have incredible powers and learn from some of the most brilliant minds humanity has ever known. He is thrust into a sprawling universe that is full of danger at every turn possible. Only with help from the few people he can rely on will he be able to endure.

The ending leads nicely to the next book in the series and it will be interesting to find out where it goes from here. If you like books about alternate worlds, that tackle philosophical questions, and have a bit of blood in them, Afterworld is worth reading.

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Challenge Yourself! Books, Movies and RPGs for 2022

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. 2021 was a year full of challenges for most of us. Instead of the kind that life throws in our way I thought we could have some fun with challenges I made myself. Rather than the challenge of just muddling through life, let’s have a book, movie, and tabletop RPG challenge!

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

This is the second year I have thrown down challenges but I would love to know what you all think of them so please let me know and also, feel free to play along all year. Each list has 12 challenges so one per month should be doable but if you are an overachiever, feel free to knock these out in 12 days or less. If you do take up the challenge let me know how it went. And if you happen to post it onto your blog, let me know, so that I can link to your challenge on my blog.

Below are the rules as far as I am going to follow them. You don’t have to follow the same way I do but these are the rules I set for myself. They are the same rules I followed last year.

How Does This Work? The Rules

  1. There are three separate challenges, one for books, one for movies and one for books, movies and RPGs lumped together. I will tell you a little more about each one and give some potential suggestions for what I think I will do to complete the checkboxes.
  2. Once I finish a challenge I plan to check it off and then post about it on my blog. If you just want to do this for fun and not post on your blog, that is totally cool. If you do post on your blog, let’s compare notes!
  3. These can be done in any order. Feel free to skip to the bottom, go to the middle or meticulously hit each one as they are listed.
  4. I am not in the camp of double dipping so I will not be doing that. (Although there may be time constraints and I reserve the right to change my mind!) If you want to, you won’t get any judgement from me.
  5. If you complete any one of my challenges and post about it on your blog, I will let you choose any one thing in that list’s category for me to review (within reason). For example if you complete my movie challenge and you want me to review The Emoji Movie, I will do it. If you complete my book challenge and want me to read and review a book that you published, I will do it. If you complete my Read-Watch-Play challenge and you want me to play an RPG that you think is really cool, I will play and then review it. Side note: I won’t review anything that I think is too extreme and I have ultimate veto power over what I post on my blog but otherwise, you can tell me what to review.
  6. This is not a rule but these are all downloadable PDF’s so feel free to download and print them or pass them on to friends, relatives, neighbors or office mates looking for something to do! Share, share, share!

Challenge 1: Book Challenge

The book challenge should be pretty straightforward. Pick one of the challenges and find a book that matches. Or if you are reading a book and realize that it fits in one of these categories, check it off once you have finished the book!

Some examples of what I plan to do are as follows. The first book I remember reading is Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. That should be a pretty quick read. I am reading Revival by Stephen King and that one is definitely more than 500 pages long. I’m not sure what I will do for the rest yet but you get the idea.

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Book Challenge!

Challenge 2: Movie Challenge

This one should also be pretty straightforward. Watch a movie that matches the category and check off the box once you have finished watching. I watch a lot of movies so for this one I might just watch first and then see if it fits the category after, although I do have some ideas for some of these. For a Horror Comedy I might go back to the Toxic Avenger series. The first movie I remember seeing in a theater was The Great Muppet Caper where the muppets try to steal the “baseball diamond”. I’ve had an intense love for film, and puns, not to mention muppets, ever since. I will likely watch The Godfather II for a sequel that is better than the original but I have a couple other ideas in mind for that one as well. Remember, you get to decide if the movie you are watching fits into your category so you do you.

Challenge 3: Read-Watch-Play Challenge

Out of all my challenges, this is the one that I will most likely do in order. It’s pretty easy to find books and movies to fit these categories but I realize that not everyone is familiar with good Tabletop RPG choices so I am going to tell you the ones I plan on doing and even provide you with helpful links if you need a suggestion. (These are affiliate links and if you do buy anything there it helps this blog out immensely at no extra cost to you. No pressure though, never buy anything from a website that you don’t want)

For the first role playing game I remember playing, it is of course Dungeons & Dragons and you can get started on it for free using the basic rules.

For a Tabletop RPG I have never played before I have three that I am thinking about. I may end up playing them all but we’ll see. If you have played any of these, let me know what you think. The first one I am considering is Cyberpunk Red. While the video game release was a mess, I’ve always thought Cyberpunk made more sense as a tabletop game anyway. I wanted to play this last year but I never quite got around to it. The second I am considering is Traveller. This is a space role playing game and it has been around forever but I have not yet played it. I’m curious how it would compare to something like the several Star Wars, Star Trek and Alien role playing games since this one is not set in a licensed movie or television world. The third one I am considering is The One Ring, the TTRPG based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. For as much inspiration as other role playing games take from those books, it has not been often that LOTR has gotten involved in tabletop gaming with the actual franchise. I’m very curious how it compares to the sword and sorcery heavy Dungeons & Dragons.

For a sci-fi role playing game I plan to play Stars Without Number: Revised Edition. It’s a game about humans returning to the skies after their empire has fallen. I played it a little bit last year and had a blast so I’m ready to go back!

For a one page Tabletop RPG I plan to play Crash Pandas. The reason I want to play it? I’m just going to let the description here speak for itself: “You’re a bunch of raccoons, all trying to drive the same souped-up sports car, desperate to make a name for yourselves on the cut-throat LA street-racing circuit. But: why?” Yeah, who wouldn’t want to play that?? Seriously.

I hope you enjoy the challenges I have come up with. Don’t forget to let me know if you plan to play along and how it goes if you do.

If you enjoy the content I make please give a like and a follow on my wordpress blog site!

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Journey Into Mystery #85

Journey Into Mystery #85 Photo Credit: Marvel

The past couple of issues of Journey Into Mystery established Thor, his secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake and his love interest Jane. What it had not done was establish a foe the equal of the power of the god of thunder. Journey Into Mystery provides that foe by introducing the one and only Loki. While there will be a long and complex relationship between the two characters, this issue is all about showing Loki capable of defeating Thor in some way, even if only temporarily.

On the cover of the issue we see Loki in a much better looking costume than what we get inside the issue. In my opinion the brown just doesn’t work for him but you can judge for yourself in the panel below.

(Panel taken from Journey Into Mystery #85 Photo Credit: Marvel)

In this issue we establish the rainbow bridge that leads to Asgard and at the start we see Loki confined to a tree where he is to be kept for punishment due to his past misdeeds. Through some trickery Loki is able to send a leaf into Heimdall’s eye, causing him to cry, which frees Loki from his plight. He was to be stuck in the tree until someone cried “due to his plight” so Loki meets the conditions but definitely frees himself on a technicality. This establishes not only his cleverness but his capability to use deceit to get what he wants.

This also establishes Heimdall as a recurring character. Loki blames Thor for his punishment so he immediately heads to Earth to harass Thor. Loki disguises himself and blends into the crowds of New York City and we get another example of his powers of illusion. He can’t best Thor with strength so it’s his mind that is his weapon. Soon Loki manufactures a crisis by turning people, “into negatives”. It’s hard to describe but basically three people walk around looking like photo negatives. For some reason Loki assumes Thor will come running to help. Personally, I would imagine there would be a whole host of other Marvel heroes who would be more helpful than Thor in this situation. But Thor of course, is on the scene and does arrive. Thor is able to “emit anti-matter particles!” thus healing the people. This establishes that Mjolnir is basically capable of doing whatever it needs to do in the moment it needs to.

Not long after Loki shows up and he and Thor are locked in battle. And as you can see in the panel above, Jane is already a fan girl of his. That’s a bit odd considering she is alternatively in love with Don Blake and Thor himself but I guess Jane was just an early Tom Hiddleston fan.

During the battle Loki uses hypnotism and other trickery to fight but of course in the long run, Thor wins out. The battle itself isn’t all that memorable but it is the first confrontation between Thor and Loki in the 616 universe. There are two things of note in the battle however. Firstly, it is established yet again that when Thor is away from Mjolnir for more than 60 seconds he turns back into Dr. Donald Blake. In the early days of the 616 universe this is significant as it is one way to stop Thor. Later he will eventually drop the Don Blake secret identity entirely but that’s not for a long time to come. The second significant item in the fight is that it is established Loki cannot use his powers underwater. This is to Thor’s advantage and helps him win the battle. A third item to mention might be Loki is unable to fly on his own. He can transform objects or hypnotize birds to accomplish the feat but he is not able to simply fly whenever he wishes.

The most significant part of this issue, other than the appearance of Loki himself comes on the last page. Thor has beaten Loki and sends him back to Asgard where he knows other gods will take Loki into captivity. We see appearances of Odin, Balder, Tyr and several other unnamed Asgardian gods. They will be repeat characters for Thor and hugely significant in an untold number of events in 616 continuity.

When Thor throws Loki to Asgard he hopes he will never again meet the god of mischief but as fans, we all want him to, and thanks to the obvious set up here, the fans will win out. This is the first appearance of Loki but by no means the last and he is already plotting his revenge.

Next on the reading list we go back to the first family of superheroes in The Fantastic Four #7!

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Tales to Astonish #35

Tales to Astonish #35 Photo Credit: Marvel

Starting with Tales to Astonish #35 this comic book basically becomes Ant Man with a few other back up stories in it. The last time we encountered Henry “Hank” Pym in Tales to Astonish #27 he invented a formula that allowed him to shrink to the size of an ant. He also had a serum to allow him to grow back to normal size. His adventure remained confined to his backyard but it was enough for him to decide he should destroy his formula lest it end up in the wrong hands.

Well, here is the thing about Henry Pym – he’s a bit wishy-washy. In order for his story to continue he has to decide to make the formula again, this time deciding his discovery is too important to be forgotten entirely. He plans to keep the formulas locked in his safe where no one can get to them.

The issue and the idea of Ant-man takes a lot of suspension of disbelief to pull off but then again these comics are made for escapism so we’re already predisposed to just go with the flow here.

Hank develops a formula and locks it up before it can fall into the wrong hands. (Seriously Henry, do you think this is a good formula or a bad one??) He then invents his famous cybernetic helmet that allows him to communicate with ants. This is a major development in his suit and his capabilities. Having ants at your beck and call is more useful than one would expect and they are an abundant resource so they are not usually far away.

Soon after this, the government tasks Henry with inventing a gas “to make people immune to radioactivity.” A few weeks later, some cold war thugs try to steal the formula for this gas. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have waited for it to be completely invented and then steal it but that’s not what they do. These guys are not very sharp because they leave Henry alone and search his lab for notes on the formula. They do tie his assistants up though. This of course gives Henry time to put on his new Ant Man suit and helmet. He also uses a rubber band stretched across an ashtray to catapult himself out of his office and is able to sneak into where his lab assistants are. With the help of some ants that Henry is able to control through his helmet, he gets the better of these criminals. He uses honey ants to jamb a gun, uses a different group of ants to chew through the bonds of his assistants and uses a host of ants to attack the criminals. The day is won and Henry is able to sneak back to his lab without his assistants ever knowing how he helped them.

There are a few notable things in this issue. One, we see that the cold war continues and this backdrop provides inspiration for literally hundreds of stories in the 616 universe. The cybernetic helmet is also hugely significant. This is often times the true power of what Hank Pym can do. Another notable bit about this story is the costume Henry wears. We find out it is made out of “unstable molecules” that adjust with his size. If the “unstable molecules” thing rings a bell it should. This is the same thing they say allows The Fantastic Four to use their powers with their costumes. This establishes at least the possibility that Hank Pym is aware of and has possibly worked with the one and only Reed Richards. It’s small connections like these which build a connected universe.

At the end of the issue Henry Pym wonders if he will “ever be forced to become the Ant-Man again?” The question is immediately answered with the announcement that he will in the next issue of Tales to Astonish.

Other than the Ant-Man story there are two really forgettable stories and a prose selection. These do not count in the Marvel 616 continuity and are only significant because they appear in the same issue as the second appearance of Ant-Man.

Next on our reading list, things are about to get serious as certain god of mischief is about to give our good friend Thor some trouble in Journey into Mystery #85!

Movie Review – Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello out there internet people, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another movie for you. I watched Don’t Look UP on Netflix. Fair warning that there will be spoilers below so if you haven’t seen it and want to, have a look first and then come back here.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. There is an impending global crisis, almost certain to wipe out all life on the planet. There is solid, irrefutable scientific proof of this event. However, due to political considerations, a distracted public, and enormous financial interests on the part of the wealthy, the clear reversal of this problem is completely ignored. The wealthy get to come up with alternative solutions more friendly to them at the cost of everyone else. Don’t Look Up is a disaster comedy that hits way, way, too close to reality.

The whole film is an obvious allegory for climate change but really it could apply to any number of impending global crises we have going on now. The film is chock full of big name stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill.

While the subject matter of the film would make anyone who believes in science uncomfortable, there are laugh out loud moments that are impossible to ignore. As usual Leonardo DiCaprio puts in a fantastic performance but the lines that keep sticking in my mind in this movie come from Jonah Hill and Jennifer Lawrence. There’s also a really funny sequence involving a four star general and some snacks that cracked me up.

It’s also a very American film. The basic premise is straight forward. There is an impending comet heading toward Earth, large enough to be an extinction level event that will wipe out not only humans but a good chunk of the planet itself. The science is solid and the group of scientists who discover the comet have to go convince the president to do something about it. But, political times being what they are, the president is more focused on her poll numbers than committing to a real solution. Because of this inaction there is a wide swath of the population that simply doesn’t believe a comet exists at all. Soon people are on both sides of the issue, the media doesn’t want to cover it because there are stories that get better ratings, and the scientists are trying to get people to understand doom is actually impending.

All in all it is a brilliant film, if a bit on the nose. If you watch it, I promise there are laughs to be had but don’t go in expecting this to be a feel good movie. It’s just so close to the surface of reality it’s genuinely frightening.

Disastrously yours,

Slick Dungeon