Pokémon Feud at NYCC!

Big News!! I am excited to announce that I will be co-hosting a panel at New York Comic Con this year! On Sunday 10/7 we will be running a game show called “Pokémon Feud: Team Pikachu vs Team Eevee” which is a Pokémon-centric version of the StreetPass Game Show that we’ve been running at PAX East, West and South this year. I love working with the game show team to put together a fun experience! If you are attending NYCC on Sunday and want a chance to be a contestant on the game show, please comment on this blog!

In preparation of the Pokémon Feud, we have to survey the gaming community to get the most popular answers! This is where you come in. If you are a Pokémon fan and have just a few spare minutes, please take the time to complete this survey!

https://goo.gl/forms/Hv9x3JMuuLOoazoF3

The survey will be closed shortly before the game show, so don’t delay! We really appreciate your input and hope you have fun with the survey! Thanks for your help, gamers!

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Danaeryzard & Alaria: The Sentencing

It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, check out the entire saga in order by reading the chapters organized on the D&D tab of this site!)

…………..

In the middle of the night, Alaria paced back and forth alone in the bedroom that she shared with Danaeryzard in the Barracks. But Dany was locked away in the Dungeons, and despite her best efforts, there seemed to be nothing that Alaria could do to help her. All the while, Tanar from the Midnight Ring was still holding the Castle Bookstore owner Samuel and his family hostage! If the Midnight Ring didn’t receive the etching that they demanded, they might kill those innocent people! Alaria was running out of time.

She did the etching heist on her own, technically. She could do the delivery on her own as well. There was nothing she could do to help Dany right now, but Alaria could help Samuel and his family. She concealed the etching under her cloak and set off for the carriage service to take her back to the Green Street Tavern in Drachen City.

Green Street Tavern

By the time Alaria arrived, it was after midnight. It had begun to rain steadily. Alaria walked up to the guards at the door and asked to see Tanar.

Unlike their first visit to the tavern, Alaria was admitted in immediately. All eyes were on her as she was taken through the busy tavern and straight to the downstairs room where she had first encountered Tanar. He stood in the same place she had met him last time, with his arms folded under his black cloak. 

“Where is the family?” Alaria demanded of Tanar, who responded with laughter.

Tanar

“Oh! I thought you would be dead by now. Well done. I trust you have completed your task?” Tanar asked with an evil smile.

Alaria glared at him and opened her cloak to reveal the paper hidden in an inside pocket. This seemed to be enough evidence for Tanar, who suddenly stomped his foot on the wooden floor three times. Near his feet was a trap door, which sprang open and a woman and two children began making their way out of a crawl space. Samuel came out last. They were all blindfolded and had their hands bound before them, making the process a bit clumsy. But they otherwise appeared to be unharmed. 

“Give me the etching,” Tanar said simply.

“Not until you release this innocent family,” Alaria bluntly replied.

“Fine. I’ll let the woman and children leave, then you give me the etching, and I will release Samuel. Fair?”

“Fair.” 

Tanar removed their blindfolds and instructed the mother and her two children to go upstairs and leave, and then relayed a message via his black chat ring to some of his associates to let the family exit. Tanar held out his hand, and Alaria reluctantly gave him the etching of the engravings from the Princess’ Diadem. She was slightly nervous because she didn’t know the meaning of these etchings or what the consequences will be for sharing this secret information with the Midnight Ring. But it’s not like she had any choice in the matter! 

Samuel

Once Tanar received the slip of paper and glanced at it, he was satisfied. He released Samuel and told them to leave the tavern. The exchange was complete. 

As they exited the tavern, Alaria asked Samuel how he got mixed up with the Midnight Ring. He wasn’t so sure himself; all he knew was that a bunch of thugs wearing masks came into his shop… and after that, his mind was a blank. He had no memory of leaving his store, or his family getting captured, or getting into that little crawl space. Samuel seemed pretty distraught about his strange amnesia, and the fact that his family had been through this ordeal. They all hugged outside, and even Alaria gave Samuel a hug to try and reassure him that she was there to help. She offered that the family take the carriage service with her back to the Castle Bookstore, since their home was on the second floor of the shop. 

“Do you still have the translations, by any chance? The Orc translations that Esmeralda had sent me and my partner to retrieve from you?” Alaria asked Samuel during the ride. 

“As a matter of fact, I do still have them. Whatever the Midnight Ring was looking for in my shop, it wasn’t those translations. I am pretty sure I’ll find them for you,” Samuel said, just as they were pulling up in front of the store. The Castle Bookstore was still in shambles, the door wide open, books strewn everywhere, shelves knocked over… and the coinbox still safely locked. 

After some shuffling around of books and papers, Samuel was able to find the sealed envelope addressed to Esmeralda of the Expeditionary Guard. He handed it to Alaria, looking weary. “I hope this was worth it.”

Alaria thanked Samuel for the translations. This is what she and Dany had been sent to the city to retrieve, and Alaria felt sad that Dany was still sitting in the Dungeon. Alaria rode the carriage service back to the Castle Barracks and resolved that she would try to use these translations as leverage to get Dany freed. She was determined to go straight to Esmeralda – but not before pickpocketing the carriage driver and getting her cab fare back. 

Esmeralda

Luckily, Esmeralda was still awake and in her usual spot, pouring over paperwork at a big table in the Great Hall in the Barracks. Esmeralda looked tired and stressed, and when Alaria approached her she tried to turn the Tiefling away.

“But Esmeralda, I have the translations that you sent Dany and me to retrieve. Don’t forget, Dany worked on this mission too. If I hand over these translations, I want you to promise me that Danaeryzard will be freed.”

Esmeralda sighed. “I told you, this is out of my hands.” Alaria asked if she could visit Dany in the Dungeons, but even that was forbidden. “I will let Dany know that you were able to complete the mission, and that you have been trying to visit her. That’s all I can do for now, but please know that I am fighting for her every day.”

Frustrated but out of options, Alaria handed over the sealed envelope. Esmeralda tucked it away in her pouch without opening it. Alaria decided to go off to bed.

Meanwhile, after her third day in the Dungeons, Dany was getting extremely restless and angry. As a prisoner, she felt that she was constantly being judged for her Dragonborn race. Guards would call her derogatory names and beat her when they visited her cell to give her daily rations of bread and water. The only conversations Dany had were with guards asking her all sorts of questions. It felt like an inquisition as they prodded her for a motive to burn down the South Hall. Dany repeated that the whole thing was an accident, and it frustrated the guards. Finally, on the third day, Esmeralda showed up at Dany’s barred cell door.

Without speaking, Esmeralda revealed a key and opened the door.

“Follow me. But don’t get too excited – this isn’t over yet.”

Esmeralda led Dany to the Officer’s Post area of the Barracks, where Dany had never been before. It was filled with desks and workers, who were all staring at Dany. News about “The Dragonborn Who Tried to Burn Down the South Hall” had spread rapidly around the castle. They walked into Esmeralda’s Main Office and Esmeralda shut the door behind them. 

Esmeralda’s Main Office

“Everyone is concerned, Danaeryzard. The South Hall is a big deal; it’s a museum of priceless heirlooms of the royal family. It’s up to the royal family how to respond to a threat to their private property, and they do not take these things lightly. I was able to get you released from the Dungeons, but you are not free. You are to remain within the Castle grounds at all times, and you are not permitted to leave at any time. Hopefully the royal family will change their mind on this eventually, once you have proven to them that you are trustworthy. But for now you have to comply. In addition, all of your duties are now suspended, for the most part. And so are Alaria’s.”

Dany gasped upon hearing this, and at the same moment, Alaria entered the office with Ragnar on her shoulder. She had been summoned by chat ring while Esmeralda was transporting Dany out of the Dungeon. Alaria was happy to see that Dany was out of her cell, but was otherwise very confused. Esmeralda broke the news to Alaria that they were no longer going on missions, and the two partners were upset.

“Don’t worry, we will still have something for you two to do. You will have to earn your room and board somehow, so I’ve enlisted you both in our Combat Training program. You two will participate in supervised drills instead of doing guard duty. Don’t despair. I believe eventually the Princess will change her mind and you can resume your duties as before. Just give it some time,” Esmeralda continued to explain. Then she instructed Dany to return to their room in the Barracks, take a bath and try to clean the Dungeon-stench off. Esmeralda also advised Dany to lay low for a few days, as most of the guards were not very happy with her. Dany walked out without saying a word to Esmeralda, but waved a quick hi to Alaria as she left the office.

Alaria started getting up to follow Dany, but Esmeralda stopped her. “I’m counting on you to keep an eye on her. You’re both on very thin ice right now. Do not let Dany leave the castle. You two need to train more and we both have to make sure Dany learns to properly control her breath weapon.” Alaria nodded, feeling that this treatment was extremely unfair, but unable to do anything about it. 

“Oh! I also have an update on the Orc translations! Come with me.” Esmeralda led Alaria to another part of the Main Offices – a grand Library filled with books, maps and globes.

The Officers’ Library

When they arrived, Esmeralda continued, “It turns out that the Orc writing on one of the building schematics was actually the title of a book… and it makes the situation worse. You see, Water’s Edge was once the location of an ancient Orc empire. It was these ancient Orcs who really discovered the power of the magic crystals. And the book referenced here is a book that explains how to control those crystals. We happen to have a copy of this ancient tome, and I have hired Samuel once again to translate it.” 

They reached a table where Samuel was busy scribbling into a notebook, while glancing at an ancient leather-bound book every two seconds. He looked up and saw Alaria, and gave her a big smile. But then he looked at Esmeralda and his face grew solemn. 

“Esmeralda… I think I know what the Sun Wizard is looking to do next. You see, this structure is made of crystal.” Samuel pointed to an illustration in the book. “I fear that the Sun Wizard is working on… achieving immortality. One of these crystal structures is the Library at Water’s Edge, this much we know. But the other is in Toril. The Orc Homeland.”

They shared silence for a moment as they all processed what this terrible news meant. Then Esmeralda sighed and thanked Samuel once again for his knowledge and assistance. Then she turned to Alaria and asked what she thought.

“I think Dany needs to be able to leave the castle so that she and I can further investigate this,” Alaria snapped. She was still upset about Dany’s punishment, and the fact that Alaria was being punished right along with her partner.

“You know the situation right now, Alaria. Please don’t make this more difficult. Now, I want you to rest up with Dany for two days, and then come report to Combat Training.” Esmeralda commanded Alaria. 

Back in their Barracks room, Dany had finished a bath and Alaria was grooming Ragnar. They were both pretty angry at the situation, and didn’t know what to say. They thought about that fateful day when they had first started traveling together, and were given a choice to join the Expeditionary Guard or the Midnight Ring. 

“Do you think we made the wrong choice?” Alaria asked. After what Dany had been through, she wasn’t really sure what the right choice might have been.

On training day, the duo prepared their weapons and were a little excited to go outdoors and have a little excitement. It was better than being cooped up in their room in the Barracks. 

“Welcome to Day One of Specialized Combat Training,” Esmeralda greeted them as they approached the training site. They had been instructed to meet at a special training area that was designed to look like a real city block. There were fake stores and townhouses along the road, and it looked very realistic. “This is a simulated street for combat in an urban setting. You see this building behind me?”

She pointed to a large two story building with a pointed roof. 

“Today’s Mission: Don’t let anyone in this building. I’ll observe.”

Dany and Alaria looked at each other, trying to hide their confusion. They had no idea where to begin. 

…………………..

And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂

The Planet of the Fitness

Even nerds should work out. I don’t care what shape you’re in, staying active is important. I have a chronic spinal injury and for years I was full of excuses and didn’t join a gym. But this year I finally was peer pressured into joining Planet Fitness by my awesome colleagues who encouraged me to come with them after work.

Before joining a gym I had gone to physical therapy for my back, so I know which machines to avoid to stay safe. My routine currently is about a half hour of cardio and a half hour on the weight machines… plus 5-10 mins on the elliptical. I’m still not in perfect shape but I’m making small improvements, and I feel a lot better about myself for at least making the effort.

Planet Fitness is a great starter gym for people like me who are a little intimidated to get going. The best part is the price – $10 a month if you are dedicated to one location, and $22 a month for Black Card, which allows you to go to any location and take advantage of some other perks like the hydro massage therapy beds (this alone is worth the Black Card membership fee imho). I went with Black Card because I love going to different locations, free massages and half price drinks.

Of course, not all locations are the same. Depending on which gym is your ‘home’ location, you’ll find different membership fees and other fine print. Luckily I found a gym near my house on LI to set as my home, to avoid the $10 sign up fees at the NYC locations. Gotta shop around and be smart!

Planet Fitness Great Neck

It’s important to tour a gym before committing. My favorite PF location is in Great Neck, NY. It’s located under a shopping center and has a ton of square footage. The weight room just keeps going and going. There are always enough treadmills and elliptical machines. They also have the most hydro massage beds and massage chairs that I’ve seen in any gym location. My only complaint about Great Neck is that the cardio machines don’t have little TV’s installed in them like the machines in NYC have. You are stuck watching the pre-selected news channels and whatnot that are showing on the many TV’s posted around. But there is free Wi-Fi so I could just put on Netflix on my phone and watch whatever I want.

Planet Fitness Carle Place

Another location on LI that I’ve frequented is Carle Place, NY. This location is convenient because it’s near my house, but that’s really the best thing I have to say about it. I think this gym is a little awkward because the cardio machines and the weight machines are facing each other. You can stare at other people working out! Oh boy! It’s not THAT big of a deal, but I just wonder why they chose to set it up that way. Regardless, it’s clean and not very busy, so I still go there. I can watch the big guys work out on the heavy weights while I run. Not such a down side, I guess lol!

In NYC, I’ve been to Tribeca and Herald Square. They are very different! Tribeca has a nice giant square shaped space where the machines are set up similar to Carle Place, except the machines DON’T face each other. And the machines all have mini TV’s in them, which is fun. You can watch whatever you want, turn on CC and listen to music… whatever works for you. Herald Square on the other hand, is set up among three floors. It’s very confusing and disjointed. There are elliptical machines in a space that looks like a hallway. Some of the treadmills were broken the last time I went there. But the Herald Square location is right next to Penn Station, so it’s great if I’m in a rush. That is, if I can find an open locker! It’s definitely the busiest gym I’ve been to out of the four.

Machines with TV’s in them!

Even despite the down sides of some of these locations, I really love Planet Fitness no matter which location I go to. It is definitely a ‘judgment free zone’ and you see people of all fitness levels and age groups working out. The staff is usually a bunch of young people so naturally they would rather socialize than do work. I get it, I was that age once, lol! But they are still friendly if you approach them and ask them for help.

Overall, my biggest con for PF is that they don’t offer organized classes in the traditional sense. They have little meetup sessions that you can sign up for and get some guided exercises with a staff member, but it’s not really the same as a Zumba class. But that’s okay – I’m more of a lone wolf anyway! I like to use an app called C25K to get back into running shape. It uses interval training to get your body used to running long distances. It’s just enough guidance that I need to stay motivated.

Hydro Massage!!

But what really motivates me is the hydro massage bed. It’s my favorite thing. You can lay on it for 10 mins at a time and you can customize the massage to be exactly what you want. Laying on the hydro massage bed after working out feels so amazing. It makes my sciatica go away for the rest of the day. It’s the best thing!!

If you are scared of committing to a gym, give Planet Fitness a try. It’s cheap and not all locations require an annual contract. (Again, shop around!!) Or if you recommend a different gym, I’m all ears! What gym do you think is the best??

Danaeryzard & Alaria: The South Hall Heist

It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, check out the entire saga in order by reading the chapters organized on the D&D tab of this site!)

…………..

It was 10AM at the South Hall, and it seemed even more vast and glorious in the daylight. Danaeryzard and Alaria were ready to start their heist to get an etching of the engravings in the Princess’ Diadem for the Midnight Ring, so that they could rescue the Castle Bookstore shopkeeper, Samuel. 

The South Hall

Alaria had disguised herself as an old man, a Royal Jeweler named ‘Jasox.’ Her plan was to claim that she was there to do a presentation on how to properly clean the royal jewels that were on display in the South Hall. Dany was planning to enter separately as a regular visitor and create a diversion when ‘Jasox’ reached the diadem, so that Alaria could secretly get the etching that they needed. 

‘Jasox’ approached the entrance of the South Hall and was met by a row of guards at the entrance, who questioned the random appearance of this unknown Royal Jeweler. One of the guards called over to his captain, “Jacob – can you come here and verify this jeweler?”

Jacob the Guard Captain

Jacob was annoyed to be interrupted. He was busy talking to the charming South Hall curator Willow and did not want to be disturbed for something trivial like this. He began berating the team for shouting to him across the South Hall.  

Willow told Jacob to relax and assign a guard to accompany ‘Jasox’ around the hall to clean the various jewels on display. She brought ‘Jasox’ into a side room and gave him a special set of royal jeweler tools, as well as a set of cleaning instructions for specifics. Alaria was a bit nervous, but wouldn’t let it show through her disguise. If she made any mistakes as she impersonated this Royal Jeweler, then her cover would be blown. ‘Jasox’ would have to be very focused.

Back at the entrance of the South Hall, Dany was making her way through the guard security check, handing over her daggers and crossbow before walking through the door. She kept her distance from Alaria in her ‘Jasox’ disguise, but made sure that the Royal Jeweler was in view at all times. Danaeryzard was planning to wait for the signal – ‘Jasox’ will drop his tools – and then she’ll create a diversion. Dany watched ‘Jasox’ clean the first jeweled crown on display without any issues. Dany pretended to be inspecting a jeweled staff in a random display case.

Chancellor Thormek

“Do you know how much copper is in that staff? With the price of copper these days, that staff is worth a fortune!” laughed a gruff voice behind Dany, surprising her and causing her to spin around and see a rather round dwarf. “Oh did I startle you? My apologies. I’m Chancellor Thormek, I’m visiting Castle Drachen for the Trade Conference this week. I don’t usually see non-humans around here! You… caught my eye.”

Dany shook his outstretched hand and explained that she was a new member of the Expeditionary Guard at the castle. Chancellor Thormek identified himself as a history buff, and began to drone on and on about the background of each item that was on display. Dany decided to walk around with the Chancellor; he might help her blend in while she waited for the signal from ‘Jasox’ at the other end of the South Hall. 

The far side of the South Hall was starting to draw a crowd, as ‘Jasox’ continued on his presentation to properly clean the royal jewels. It was a rare chance for people to see the jewels out of their display cases, and some of the visitors were starting to watch ‘Jasox’ quite closely. Alaria was nervous and sweating a little in her ‘Jasox’ disguise and she fumbled with her tools, but luckily she did not drop any! If she gave the signal at the wrong time, the entire heist might be ruined. But ‘Jasox’ continued on without issue, and when he finished cleaning the royal dagger that he was holding, the crowd gave a polite round of quiet claps.

Dany led the Chancellor a little further into the South Hall to keep a better watch on ‘Jasox.’ The Princess’ Diadem was located in the back of the hall, and ‘Jasox’ was approaching it. Dany knew the signal would be coming soon, and she began to feel nerves and panic sweep through her body. What was her distraction plan? She was going to have to use her Breath Weapon to start a fire, but she didn’t want to cause too much destruction. 

Suddenly Dany heard ‘Jasox’ drop his tools on the floor with a loud clang. Dany froze for a moment, but she knew she had to act. She turned towards a wall that was covered with a red velvet drape and sneezed out loudly, blasting her Dragonborn Breath Weapon out in a cone of fire from her lizard-like mouth. Unfortunately, Chancellor Thormek was also in the line of the flames, and his burly beard and flowing royal robes caught fire. The drapes along the wall also began to burn, and the distraction was certainly working. Everyone in the room was looking at Danaeryzard and the Chancellor, and the guards were running towards her with their swords drawn. Dany raised her arms and immediately began shouting that it was an accident.

During the commotion, Alaria in her ‘Jasox’ disguise had no problem pulling a piece of paper and creating an etching of the engraving on the inside of the Diadem. The guard that had been watching ‘Jasox’ was rushing to help with the fire situation on the other side of the hall. In a matter of ten seconds Alaria’s heist was complete, but Dany’s troubles were far from over.

South Hall Guard

One guard used the end of his sword to bludgeon Dany in the back as another guard yelled for her to get on the ground. More guards were patting down the Chancellor to put out the fires on his robes and beard, and the once-friendly dwarf was now cursing in dwarvish at Dany, and screaming at the guards for letting a Dragonborn into their midst.

“I only sneezed! I have trouble controlling my Breath Weapon sometimes! It was an accident!” Dany pleaded, but the guards continued to attack her. 

Meanwhile, ‘Jasox’ folded the etching back into his robes, pretended to have a coughing fit from the smoke, and demanded that the guards let him leave the South Hall. Cleared from the building, Alaria rushed back to the Barracks to remove her disguise and hide the etching somewhere safe. Then she would come back and try to help Dany, somehow.

It didn’t seem like any amount of help would change Dany’s situation. She was laying prone, face down on the ground as the guards continued to beat and kick her.

“This is excessive brutality! I am in the Expeditionary Guard!” Dany cried, trying to cover her face from more beatings. 

“The jewels in the South Hall are worth more than your LIFE!” a guard spat at her as he and another lifted Dany from the ground and escorted her into a Guard Barracks room off to the side of the South Hall. Dany was placed in restraints and the guards held her there until they received further orders.

Alaria showed up at the South Hall, as herself, and claimed to the guards at the door that Esmeralda had sent her to retrieve Dany. But just at that moment, Esmeralda arrived and coldly told Alaria go back to the Barracks. Esmeralda marched inside the South Hall and was shocked to see the guards putting out fires, and the recently doused Chancellor cursing and panting. Esmeralda had been given simple orders – throw Danaeryzard Targeleon in the Dungeons.

Hours later, Dany was in her Dungeon cell, sitting on a bed of hay. The Dungeons were dark and dank, but Dany knew precisely where she was… because she used to guard and clean these cells when she was working for the Expeditionary Guard. Now she was a prisoner. She felt sad and regretful. She had never meant for anyone to get hurt. This was turning into a repeat of when she was exiled from her home after she burned down the outdoor market. Dany was furious with herself. Why did she think that a fire was a good idea for a distraction? She should have thought more about the repercussions of her actions! Dany could only hope that Alaria would be able to complete the mission on her own.

But Alaria wasn’t thinking about delivering the sketch to the Midnight Ring at that moment. She was trying to rescue her partner! The guards at the Dungeons wouldn’t let Alaria get anywhere near the prisoner cells. Alaria used her Mage Hand spell to pickpocket a key from the guards, but she knew there was no way to get past them. Esmeralda suddenly contacted Alaria through the Chat Ring and told her to meet her in the Barracks for a debrief. Alaria obeyed and acted as though she didn’t know what was going on with Dany.

Esmeralda was blunt and said that Dany had set a Chancellor and some drapes in the South Hall on fire, and that she was in a lot of trouble and suspected of being a part of an evil Dragonborn clan working with the Midnight Ring. Alaria was shocked that Esmeralda would believe Dany to be evil, after having worked with her so closely. Dragonborn prejudice seemed to be very prevalent in this castle all of the sudden.

Esmeralda asked Alaria for the Orc translations that they were sent to retrieve. Alaria simply replied that there was a delay and she would have them soon. She asked again for Esmeralda to free Dany, but Esmeralda claimed that at this moment, her hands were tied.

Later on in the evening, Esmeralda and Hendricks walked into Dany’s cell in the dungeon. Dany was very nervous looking at their stern faces. Hendricks seemed to be glaring at her with hate in his eyes. Once again, Dany stated her case – that it was an accident, she needs to learn to control her Breath Weapon, nobody was seriously injured, this was all blown out of proportion… but Esmeralda and Hendricks didn’t want to listen. 

“We know that you’re working with the Midnight Ring! You Dragonborn are bred to be villains!” Hendricks shouted at Dany, trying to intimidate her. Esmeralda rolled her eyes a bit, thinking that Hendricks was taking this a bit too far. 

“You should have known better, Esmeralda. We trusted her, and now THIS happens!” Hendricks shouted as he stormed out of the dungeon cell and out of sight. 

When they were alone, Esmeralda’s face changed and showed a bit of sadness.

“I’m fighting for you up there, Dany. But you’ve really gotten yourself into a mess. I don’t know how much I can do at this point. Hendricks outranks me and the Princess is furious with you. Just stay here, do what they tell you, and hopefully I’ll get you out of the Dungeon soon. There isn’t anything I can do right now…” Esmeralda said softly, and made her exit.

Dany sighed and rubbed her arms to help keep her warm as she sat alone in the dark.

Later that night, a hooded figure rode on horseback in the moonlight to a barn in the outskirts of Drachen City. The figure dismounted the horse, cracked the door of the barn open and slipped inside. Inside the barn stood another hooded figure waiting and lighting a lantern. The dim light revealed Hendricks, holding out a sealed scroll.

Ezra of the Midnight Ring

“Here it is, Ezra,” Hendricks whispered, passing the scroll to the Midnight Ring recruiter – the same elf who tried to convince Dany and Alaria to join the Ring back when the duo had first met! Ezra nodded knowingly at Hendricks and slipped the scroll into her satchel. 

“We’ll bust Dany out though, right?” Hendricks asked.

Ezra laughed and her white eye gleamed.

“Don’t worry Hendricks, the Ring isn’t done with those two just yet…”

…………………..

And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂

OMG THE NINTENDO DIRECT OMG

Moments like last night are when I wish I had a Twitch channel so I could have shared my glee with random weebs. Yesterday there was a new Nintendo Direct and it was FILLED with exciting news!! Most importantly…

NEW ANIMAL CROSSING FOR SWITCH IS COMING NEXT YEAR!

But I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, I wanted to talk about all the things I’m hyped about from the latest direct:

  • Luigi’s Mansions galore! There’s a new third game in the Luigi’s Mansion franchise coming out sometime in the future, plus the original GC game coming to 3DS this October.
  • New 3DS Games?!?! Just when you thought that Nintendo was done with the 3DS, they reveal a few new kid-friendly titles like Kirby and Bowser’s Inside Story.
  • Splatoon 2 Updates! I love how they always add new stages and features to this game. It gives me hope that when the new Animal Crossing game comes out, they will add new things just as often as they do in Pocket Camp. Splatoon 2 doesn’t disappoint and their constant game updates really make this game a great value.
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe! Who can pass on the latest version of a Super Mario sidescroller? Plus there are two new playable characters (Nabbit and Toadette) that make the gameplay easier for younger players (or spastic ppl like me).
  • Nintendo Switch Online! It’s finally here! Now we get the pleasure of… paying for online service. Meh. But I’m excited about the Virtual Console library and the prospect of playing those retro games online with my friends. That will be cool! I need to figure out my family plan! lol
  • Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee! They revealed new features, such as your buddy Pokemon being an HM Slave and being able to learn special moves for gym battles. I’m ready to play! But I’ll definitely buy this on cartridge lol!
  • Super Mario Party! This game is coming out soon and to add to the hype, Nintendo showed us that there are ways to play the game that won’t even ruin friendships! You can play in a new CO-OP mode and be on a TEAM with your friends. That should be better for friendships…. right?!?!
  • Yoshi’s Crafted World! I cannot resist Mario’s green dino buddy. I always like Yoshi games, and I love how this franchise has embraced the craft world. I really liked Yarn Yoshi from Yoshi’s Wooly World, and now in the latest game they are adding more crafts to the design, like cardboard and string and it’s just so cute. The design styles of these Yoshi games are beautiful and I can’t get enough! Yay crafts!
  • Civilization 6!!! OMG! I wasn’t expecting this one! I looooove Civ I have been playing it since Civ 2 on Windows 95. I loved playing Civ on the DS back in the day as well, carrying my empire in my bag so I can play whenever I want is so great! I will be SO excited to play Civ 6 on my Switch coming this November! EEEEEE!!!!
  • New LE Switch Consoles! Here come all the cutely designed money-grabbing limited edition Switch systems! Not too long ago Nintendo announced the special Pikachu/Eevee limited edition Switch with custom color scheme and images of the cute Pokemon on the Switch dock. In the direct they showed off a new Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch design. This must mean that more exclusive designs are on the way in the future. Personally, I don’t love either of the two designs, and the fact that the dock is what gets most of the artwork is not a huge appeal to me. But we’ll see… if they make an Animal Crossing edition that I think is cute, I might get that!
  • ISABELLE IN SMASH!!! What??! I wasn’t expecting this at all! I am super psyched to try out Isabelle and make her my new main! I loved playing as Villager in Smash 4, so I would imagine that Isabelle will have a similar moveset. Hopefully she is quick and powerful!
  • ANIMAL CROSSING 2019!!!!!!!! As I expected, once the hype of Smash Bros. Ultimate has waned and Nintendo needs a boost, Animal Crossing will be ready for us to play on Switch! While it’s devastating to have to wait until NEXT year to get this game, I am super thrilled! I’m sure they will slowly reveal more details as time goes by, so my anticipation is SUPER HIGH! Who knows, maybe some of my predictions from my AC Switch Wish List will come true!

As usual, I didn’t cover everything in the latest Nintendo Direct, so I highly recommend that everyone watch it if you haven’t already! So much exciting gaming coming up on the horizon! What are you the most excited about??

Blades in the Dark: Le Fantôme de Mme. Bloodsoe

Do you remember my recent blog about Blades in the Dark? My friends and I played our one-off session, and it’s finally time to see what happened when my character, Lapis de la Nuit, joined up with Gwack Zextra and Alecia Petronova! (Please note that this blog entry is rated R and not intended for children!!! lol)

The bells in the dilapidated clock-tower still worked. The sound of the midnight bells rang loudly through the dark, empty streets of the formerly rich district of the Six Towers in the city of Doskvol, where it is always night. Giant townhouses, slanted and concave, created organized rows of desolation. But on one street, a small cloaked man scurried and shuffled towards the one house on the block that seemed to have lights on inside. The little man was slow and quite old, but he knew precisely where he was going. He walked up the steps and started knocking with determination.

This was the house of the “Seventh Tower” – an elite crew put together by Bazso Baz for high profile assassinations, heists and intel operations. Although, they certainly didn’t look like an elite crew based on their appearance. In the front parlor lay Gwack Zextra on a dusty chaise-lounge, sampling some new recreational drugs that he had just designed in his laboratory hours before. He was of strong build and would be an attractive man, if he weren’t constantly in a stupor. Gwack, also known as “G” within the crew, was a mastermind Leech – a saboteur and technician – and he battled with the struggles that come along with high intelligence; to him, knowing too much was a curse and he needed to quiet his mind through drugs and alcohol on a constant basis.

High intelligence was less of a problem for Alecia Petronova, the crew’s Cutter. He was a dangerous fighter with a massive frame, and massive arms to boot. Alecia was always working out in his spare time, partly to take his mind off of the unfortunate turn that his life had taken. He once was a gladiator for a noble family and enjoyed many of the best riches the world had to offer. Unfortunately, in his youth, the noble home where he worked and lived was targeted by murderous thieves who robbed the estate and killed nearly everyone on the property. Almost everyone, but Alecia, aka “Cia”, survived and went off to make his own way. It hadn’t been easy until Bazso Baz, a well known gang leader, recognized Alecia’s strength and skills, and teamed him up with Gwack Zextra and a young woman called “Nightstar” who could speak to the dead.

This young woman was really named Lapis de la Nuit, a Slide who was not only a spy and manipulator, she was an occultist. Her room was upstairs in the Seventh Tower’s hideout, where she worked by candle light to read tarot cards and conducted seances nightly. Lapis was slender and beautiful, and she grew up in a brothel with her mother (who ran it) so she knew how to use her feminine wiles to procure information and steal money when she needed it. However, despite being sexy and savvy, both Gwack and Alecia knew that Lapis was an odd-ball. She wore steampunk goggles to speak with ghosts, or “fantômes” as she called them, since she spoke French.

Gwack was in no condition to be answering the door. He heard the knocking and turned his head. The banging continued, and got louder. Was it just in his mind? Could he hear a voice just outside the door, or was this all a dream? G made some flailing attempts to get out of the reclined position that he was in, but by the time he was upright, Alecia was already pushing him out of the way with his big, sweaty arms. Cia was never happy to be interrupted mid-workout, and G being too drugged out to even open the door wasn’t helping Cia’s mood. Their hideout wasn’t exactly a place where visitors came calling, so someone knocking at the door was a bit ominous.

Cia peeked through the window curtains and saw the silhouetted figure’s small frame. Not feeling much of a threat, he cracked open the door and said gruffly, “You have the wrong address.”

“I wish to speak with one who is called Alecia. I was sent by Madame Bloodsoe,” the dark figure whispered in reply.

Cia immediately slammed the door shut in the stranger’s face.

He sighed and paced back and forth. Why does this man know his name? The knocking on the door resumed.

After a moment, Cia opened the door again and let the man in, who identified himself as Ekan. He asked Ekan to wait while he dumped a bucket of water on Gwack to help him sober up, and retrieved Nightstar from the attic. As she made her way downstairs, Lapis sensed a new spirit presence in the house that seemed to be seeking her help.

With the crew assembled in the front hall, Ekan explained that Alecia knew Madame Bloodsoe, and Cia sighed and admitted that they once worked together, in a way. Ekan continued on and said that he was Bloodsoe’s personal medium, and that she had passed away. Lapis felt this was strange, and sensed that the spirit presence wanted to tell her something. Ekan continued on.

“Madame Bloodsoe was murdered. She does not know how or why. She says she cannot rest in peace without finding out who murdered her, and without saving the “Bloodsoe Mace” which is a family heirloom that remains in her home to this day. Madame Bloodsoe worries that a gang will try to take over her mansion, so she wants the house destroyed.”

At the word destroyed, Gwack seemed to perk up and pay attention.

“If you can do all this and bring me the Bloodsoe Mace, I will pay you 4 Large Gold Coins for it. This is no small fee, as you know. Madame Bloodsoe prides herself on the preservation of this highly… treasured heirloom.” Ekan seemed to emphasize the word treasured in a strange way that gave Lapis even more unease.

Nightstar decided to put on her steampunk goggles and see why the spirit was making her feel so unwell. Focusing her intention on the spirit, she could see the outline of a wealthy, older woman.

“I was hoping you would find me,” the fantôme whispered. “Do not trust this man Ekan. Ask him to leave the room.” Lapis motioned with her head to Alecia, who wordlessly pushed Ekan into a side room and closed the door.

“I am Madame Bloodsoe. I need your help to find my attacker, destroy the house and save the Mace; this much is true. But I cannot trust Ekan. Please help me, please!”

The fantôme was desperate and beginning to wail, as Lapis knew they often did. While the ghost lamented, Lapis explained to the crew who the spirit was and what she wanted. Cia was skeptical, and decided to verify the ghost’s identity with a little test. He asked what they had eaten for dinner on the fateful night that Cia’s family was murdered. But the ghost of Madame Bloodsoe knew the right answer (it was rabbit) and Cia was convinced, and a little disturbed that his past was literally haunting him.

“This man Ekan is not a good man. He wants to sell the Bloodsoe Mace in an auction and make a profit from my death. I heard him making arrangements!” Lapis continued to translate what the fantôme was saying to the rest of the crew.

“WAIT! …What is going on?” Gwack interrupted, slightly slurring his words. Cia and Lapis rolled their eyes.

The Ghost of Madame Bloodsoe continued, “I need you to complete the mission, but don’t give the Mace to Ekan. Bring the mace to Ricmoore Silverstok, my vault keeper. He will pay you the same and ensure that the heirloom stays in the family vault and not in the hands of an auctioneer for Ekan’s profit. You see, I was targeted by a gang of thieves. When I was murdered, my spirit was not able to rest and awakened in an area far from my home – something happened to me that is not right. I must find out what happened or I will never be able to move on and be at rest. Please help me!”

Lapis parley’d the ghost’s message to her crew. They decided to get Ekan out of their house immediately. Cia steered the little man out of the house, but as he was pushed out, Ekan tried to get Cia to agree to bring him the Mace after the mission was complete. Instead of a handshake, Cia crushed Ekan’s hand and the small man was angry as he left the hideout.

The crew asked more questions of Madame Bloodsoe’s ghost after Ekan left. How did she die, was it poison? An attack? But Madame Bloodsoe was not sure. She believed whatever happened must have been an attack from behind because she did not remember seeing anything. She was in the bedroom, someone must have broken into her home. Madame Bloodsoe also told them that the Mace was on display in the library. When she was alive there were servants in the home, but she did not know if the were alive anymore. She also didn’t know if they were trustworthy. She warned that the house is well secured and they would need to have a plan to get inside. Lapis reassured the spirit that they were on the case and she would be at rest very soon. But first, they had to wait a bit for Gwack to sober up.

A few hours later, the crew was planning to enter the house via the cellar. The door seemed to have a very complicated lock, and through the glass panes they could see that there were lights on inside the mansion. First Cia tried to use a lockpicking kit, and Gwack tried to help him with his tinkering skills. Unfortunately, the mechanism jammed and made a loud metal screech. Then Gwack pushed Cia out of the way to tinker some more. Working furiously, he managed to break the entire lock off the door, making a huge bang that echoed down the deserted street. But… the door was now open.

Cia led the way into the cellar. He had the good sense to remember to bring a delivery man uniform to make his way further into the house. After a few steps, a man dressed as a servant approached Cia and started questioning him. When it was clear that Cia was not really who he was pretending to be, Cia used a scary weapon to stab the servant – but not before getting grazed by a bullet from the servant’s pistol! Why would a servant have a pistol in the first place? The sound of the pistol fire sent Gwack and Lapis running in after Alecia, all the while knowing that this must have set off an alert to whoever is upstairs as well.

Gwack was fixed on setting up his demolition tools to destroy the house at the end of the mission. This was something he had wanted to do for a long time. As he set up explosives at various parts of the foundation, he struggled because some of them were damaged. But an evil genius like Gwack had always wanted to blow up a building, and so was able to come up with new ways to make the explosives work.

As G was busy setting up the demolition, Lapis used her own disguise kit to make herself look like a servant. She crept upstairs and stealthily found her way to the parlor, where she saw a man wearing a cloak and a white mask. The figure turned to her and tilted his head askew, as if confused to see her there. Lapis grabbed her Trance Powder from her pocket and blew it in the masked figure’s face.

“I am a servant of this house and you will let me walk by freely,” she said to him simply. The figure was entranced but the powder made him sneeze loudly, and the noise brought a second masked figure running into the room. Using the remaining Trance Powder, Lapis disabled the second man and left them in the parlor. However, she could sense that there were two more men in the library down the hall, where the Bloodsoe Mace was waiting. At this time, Gwack made his way up to the hallway where Lapis was standing. Together they made their way to the staircase,

The old stairs made loud creaking sounds, despite their best efforts to be quiet. This alerted the masked figures guarding the library, and they came running towards G and Nightstar, now trapped on the stairs. Cia appeared just at the right moment with his dragon’s clave weapon, eliminating one of the assailants with one bludgeoning blow.

Deciding that Cia had things under control on the first floor, Gwack and Lapis rushed upstairs and found themselves in a fancy living area. Lapis put her steampunk goggles on and saw the ghosts of three servants sitting on the sofa, who verify that these masked assailants are the ones who murdered Madame Bloodsoe.

Lapis and Gwack made their way further into the upstairs living space, and Gwack was attacked in the dining area. Using a defensive move, G flung his hands upward and without even meaning to, he stabbed the masked man in his eye!

Meanwhile downstairs, Alecia was sparring off with the remaining attacker on the first floor. He tried to question the masked man, in between jabs from his fist. “Hopefully you’ll put up more of a fight than your friends!” Cia taunted him. But he quickly realized that this masked man was wearing armor under his cloak.

Fighting in brawls wasn’t exactly Nightstar’s specialty, so she quietly moved past the dining area where Gwack was fighting, and down the hall to a closed door, presumably the bedroom. Lapis lightly knocked on the door and then opened it to find a single masked man alone in the room. There was a strong foul odor that hit her when she entered the bedroom, but Lapis tried to ignore it.

“Oh lucky me, finding such a man alone in such a beautiful bedroom!” she said, closing the door and taking off her coat. “Why don’t you take off that cloak and let me see you?” Lapis turned on the charm, walking right up to this man and stroking his arm, helping him remove his clothing.

The masked man complied eagerly. He removed his mask and his cloak. Lapis put her hands on his belt and looked up at him. “Who are you? What are you doing here in this house?”

“I think you already know what we’re doing here. I’m a member of the Wraiths.”

“The Wraiths!” Lapis exclaimed with horror. They were a well known, ruthless gang who committed many atrocities across Doskvol. Gwack heard Lapis’ yell this from the bedroom as he made a finishing blow on his assailant. His mind suddenly began to race. He knew that his drug dealer was connected to the Wraiths. Was this a group that he wanted to start trouble with? But suddenly he heard Cia struggling by the stairs with the remaining Wraith assailant downstairs, and G rushed down to help him.

Back in the bedroom, the Wraith had fully disrobed and was pushing Lapis down onto her knees.

“You’re lucky you found me. I will treat you very well. Just look how well I treated the last woman who was in this room!” He began to laugh, and gestured toward the closet in the corner. The door was open, and it was now obvious where the stench was coming from – Madame Bloodsoe’s dead body was seated in a heap, with her face carved off like a mask. “I carved a mask on her face with the power of the Wraiths so she wouldn’t remember what happened when she awoke as a pathetic ghost! We targeted the old bat so we could take her antiques, but her house is so comfortable, we decided to stay here. And why wouldn’t I want to stay here, when I have a young vixen like you just walking in the bedroom?”

At that moment, downstairs in the library, Gwack was prying the Bloodsoe Mace from it’s display case. In his struggle, he damaged the heirloom a bit as he pried it off, but as soon as he held it in his hands, he knew what a strong weapon it was. Not that he needed it – Cia had finally finished off the armored Wraith, who was certainly much tougher than they had expected. As they caught their breath, they suddenly wondered where Lapis was.

Upstairs in the bedroom, Lapis was trying to get away. This Wraith was clearly one of the leaders of this sadistic group, and he had no intention of letting Nightstar out of the room without having his way with her. Lapis pulled her pistol from the hidden holster in her skirt and took a shot at the Wraith, but she missed. The Wraith began to laugh again and pushed Lapis down onto the bed.

The sound of the pistol upstairs sent Cia and Gwack running up to see what they could do to help. They barged into the room and Cia used his throwing knives to impale the Wraith as Gwack pulled him off of Lapis. Jumping off the bed, Lapis tried to stab at the Wraith, but missed again. Gwack was in prime position to impale the Wraith with the Bloodsoe Mace, knocking the final attacker to the floor.

It was time to get out of there and finish the job. The Seventh Tower crew raced out of the house and as Gwack pulled out the detonator for the explosives, Cia asked if he could push the button.

“Why do you hate Madame Bloodsoe this much?” asked Gwack. Cia explained that after his family was murdered, she tried to force him into servitude, and that was why he had to leave. Madame Bloodsoe wasn’t as innocent as she would have them believe.

Alecia pushed the button. The house exploded and lit up the streets with fire, creating an eerie daylight appearance for a brief moment. In the light, Gwack realized that the Bloodsoe Mace was looking pretty gross. It was damaged and covered with blood and bits of brain. The crew worked together to clean and tinker with it to fix it up as best they could, and they took it to Ricmoore’s warehouse. However, after appraisal, Ricmoore decided to pay the crew only 3 Large Gold coins instead.

The crew thought this was fair as they headed back to their hideout. One Large Gold coin each would carry them over until their next mission. Lapis knew that Madame Bloodsoe wouldn’t be bothering them anymore… but what about Ekan? Would he be giving them trouble now? And what about the Wraiths? When would they strike next?

And Gwack continued to worry… did his participation in this mission mean that he just lost his best drug connection??

We hope you liked our one-off session of Blades in the Dark! It was really fun to play in this game world full of thieves and spies. Everyone is a bad guy! The game play was pretty simple too, but that might be been because of our abbreviated session. I’ve looked at some of the game materials and it definitely can become complex. Maybe someday I’ll get to play this game again. I highly recommend that gamers check it out!

Book Report: The Sixth Extinction

Book Title: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Author: Elizabeth Kolbert

About the Author: This book won her a Pulitzer Prize so I figured that was a good sign! She is a native New Yorker, has written FOR the New Yorker, and is surely a professional science nerd.

Main Characters: This non-fiction book covers Elizabeth’s journey of discovery as she visits different research facilities around the world to see why certain species are currently endangered and going extinct. She meets lots of fellow scientists, who are also from around the globe, and I guess they count as the other characters, but really the different extinct and endangered species are the main subjects of this book. However, there are way more than 6 species that are at risk right now, so I’m not going to attempt to list them all here.

Plot Summary: Planet Earth has already faced five separate mass extinction events in it’s known history. How these extinctions came to be is still debated to this day. Was it a meteor? Rapid climate changes? Did a supervolcano erupt and create a volcanic winter, killing off all living things? Maybe… ALIENS??? OK that’s not what this book is about. Instead, Elizabeth Kolbert travels to different parts of the world to see what the next extinction might be. Along the way, she reviews the history of evolution and some earth science basics, and talks about what happened during the different dinosaur extinctions, as well as the ice age. In her travels, Elizabeth learns that there are lots of different species at risk – from frogs to bats to rhinos, and let’s not forget important eco-systems like the rain forest and coral reefs, which sustain life for countless other species as well. The rate that the climate has been changing in the past century is causing major concern in the scientific community. While the industrial revolution and now modern living is adding major pollution to the planet, another issue is that humans too are a part of the problem. The human race has a history of killing off species. But if the planet cannot compensate and evolve in time to counteract the damage that humans are causing, will we cause our own species to become the next mass extinction? *cue rats taking over the world*

Lessons Learned: This planet is home to millions of different beings. We all contain life. We are all worthy of being here. We are worth preserving. Earth is surprisingly resilient, even though sometimes things can only change very, very slowly. While sometimes things may seem bleak, like when you pave paradise and put a parking lot… you still get dandelions. Somehow, life finds a way to prevail. Unfortunately, survival of the fittest is definitely a common theme, and species that are more fragile and specialized cannot adapt and tend to die off when their environment changes. This is a trend that has repeated for millions of years… since the beginning of life on Earth.

Personal Opinions: After reading sci-fi last month, I wanted something REAL. I went for the polar opposite with this nonfiction earth science primer. It was tough to keep up with all of the complicated terms and concepts at times. I think the subject matter of this book is extremely important to be aware of, and planet conservation is essential to maintain life as we know it. Should something catastrophic happen due to climate change, we would have to adapt and it would definitely not be easy. However, I don’t think the world would end. I believe that the living beings on Earth are resilient and find a way to survive. You can find life in the most extremely difficult terrains and conditions. It’s a matter of being adaptable.

But what if the coral reef died? The entire ocean’s balanced eco-system would be altered. What if the polar ice caps melted, causing over-flooding to the oceans? What if we released so much carbion dioxide into the air that the oceans absorbed it and turned into acid water? Can humans adapt to that??

Game Review: Go Vacation!

Go Vacation!

It’s Labor Day Weekend! Do you have any big vacation plans? I don’t! Except of course, my private handheld getaway: Go Vacation for Nintendo Switch! This game is packed full of different activities and mini-games to play. Let’s take a quick look at what the different resorts have to offer.

Marine Resort

I’ve never been to Hawaii, but Kawawii Island must come pretty close in comparison. You get to explore the island using a marine bike, ATV, and a surfboard. Activities include beach volleyball, skydiving, scuba diving, and even a triathlon. You can take a scenic flight tour around the island to see beautiful views, or you can swim around the cove searching for secret treasure boxes. What I especially like about Go Vacation is that you can easily jump from the various activities using a menu, or you can roam freely around the island using your character.

City Resort

If you were a fan of the old Tony Hawk games from way back in the early 2000s then you will like the City Resort. This area gives you a pair of inline skates and a skateboard to roam the city with, and there are tons of half pipes to do tricks and rails to grind on. You gain points towards your character if you successfully complete a trick at any time, whether you are in an official activity or just doing your own thing. You also gain points by completing challenges in each resort, which in the city include activities like street racing, skate tricks, and fun arcade games like whack-a-mole and table hockey. What are all these points for? Unlocking furniture for your customized VILLA, of course!

Yes this game has a bit of everything; my need to design and customize a house is met with Go Vacation’s Villa! (Plus my need to like, own a beachside villa. This way is a LOT cheaper lol!) There are several decor themes to unlock, so there is a lot of motivation to complete ALL of the game’s activities to rack up as many points as I can get. The Villa area isn’t a resort with activities, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.

Snow Resort

For those of us who enjoy winter sports, Go Vacation includes a ski resort on a mountain, complete with bunny slopes and as you climb higher, there are steeper and more perilous options. There is a chair lift, but I like to use the snowmobile to get up the mountain. You can also use a set of skis, a snowboard and a snow tube to get around in this area. Activities range from your typical ski slaloms and long jumps to dog sledding, snowman making and snowball fights!

Mountain Resort

Honestly, I think this area should have been named Ranch Resort, because a lot the activities are what you might find on a dude ranch. You can ride a horse, an off-road car, or even in a kayak in this forest/mountain resort. There are lots of shoot-em-up target practice activities to play, as well as white water rafting, tennis and equestrian sports. Not to mention paragliding, where you can see more gorgeously designed aerial views while hitting balloon targets.

Is that all? No. I didn’t even describe all of the various activities in each resort, you’ll have to play for yourself to learn about everything! But there are also fun little side objectives, like finding all of the bungee jump locations in each resort, or taking photos of all of the animals that can be found on the different terrains. (Yes, this game has that Pokemon Snap element too lol!) There’s also fishing, treasure hunting, photo op spots… Go Vacation truly has all of the things I like!

The only thing that is missing are cats. You get a pet dog in-game (obviously because of the dogsledding activity – guess a kitty can’t pull a sled) but the only cats to be seen are in the City Resort, roaming around… or a giant lion sitting in the middle of the street.

Which resort do you think sounds the coolest in Go Vacation? It’s a great way to take a vacay without paying for airfare! I think the activities are a lot of fun, and is a nice change of pace from some of the other games I’ve been playing lately. I like how the joy con controls aren’t too overly complicated, and I look forward to trying out the multi-player functions at a gamer meetup next week. It’s also worth noting that Go Vacation was a little cheaper than most Switch games, priced at $49.99. I traded in some old games towards the price and I am quite satisfied! If you need a vacation, but only have fifty bucks to spend… try Go Vacation!

 

 

 

Blades in the Dark: Introducing Lapis de la Nuit

Tabletop games are really fun, and the current DnD campaign that I’m playing with my friends is getting pretty intense! My DM is awesome and he puts up with all of my nonsense, which I really appreciate lol! His DM from a different campaign is coming to visit NYC, so we thought it would be fun to do a one-off session of a different game with my DM’s DM (Grand DM? lol) to switch things up. The game we’ve chosen is Blades in the Dark.

Blades in the Dark is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.

You and your fledgling crew must thrive amidst the threats of rival gangs, powerful noble families, vengeful ghosts, the Bluecoats of the city watch, and the siren song of your scoundrel’s own vices. Will you rise to power in the criminal underworld? What are you willing to do to get to the top?

Gangs? Scoundrels? Vices? Sign me up! In true nerd fashion, we spent this past week planning out our characters and coming up with back stories. Introducing my character for BitD… Lapis de la Nuit! (pronounced La-peez de la Noo-eet)

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Lapis de la Nuit was born at the South Point of Akoros, a french-speaking peninsula (calling the location “Point-Sud”) and well known as a tourist attraction. The beautiful sunsets – and even more beautiful nude beaches – brought lustful men with stuffed pockets to the Point-Sud each summer.

Well before she was born, Lapis’ mother Celeste took advantage of this unique opportunity to capitalize on the vices of rich men. She opened a beach-side brothel near the most popular “plage nu” and hired a team of women eager to make some money. Times were very difficult for women in Akoros, but a common way to gain financial independence was for a young woman to sell her body to the highest bidder of the night. Celeste was a beautiful and strong woman, willing to do what it takes to provide food and shelter for herself and her family. After she gave birth to Lapis, she vowed that her child would not have to endure the hardships of life working in the Underworld at a brothel. As a single mother, Celeste wanted Lapis to have an education.

Unfortunately, formal education was hard to come by in this tourist town, which focused much more on sex, gambling, drugs and alcohol. But Celeste knew all sorts of  different people through her network, and she set up an arrangement for Lapis to study under an occultist named “Sébastien le Voisin” (or, Sebastian the Seer). Sébastien, a client of Celeste, was known for his ability to communicate with the dead. He taught Lapis how to read tarot cards, unleash the power of gemstones, and how to speak directly with “fantômes” (ghosts).

As a young girl growing up in a brothel, fantômes were really the only friends that Lapis had. Sadly, the first fantômes that Lapis met were spirits of former prostitutes who  died or were murdered in the brothel, or at other nearby establishments. The fantômes were kind to young Lapis, but they did lament their tales and Lapis was terrified that she might suffer the same fate as these women. Lapis spent most nights staring up at the stars and talking to fantômes. This gave her the nickname Nightstar.

Once she reached sixteen, Lapis was as beautiful as Celeste, and men began asking to pay for her company for the night. Lapis realized that she would need to leave town so that she might avoid a life of prostitution. She agonized over leaving her mother behind, but Celeste urged Lapis to follow her instincts.

As luck would have it, that summer, big-time Black Swords gang leader Bazso Baz was staying at Point-Sud to spend some gold that he had recently ‘acquired.’ Lapis happened to overhear Baz complaining that he could not get any sleep due to an enraged fantôme in his hotel room. Lapis was eager to use her Ghost Voice ability to help this man; she thought perhaps she could make a living as a Seer. Introducing herself as Nightstar, Lapis offered to visit Baz’s hotel and speak with this fantôme and tell it to leave him alone.

Lapis bravely went with the burly gang leader to his hotel room, only to find one of the ladies from her mother’s brothel, Nyryx, lying naked on the bed.

“What is this little bitch doing here?” Nyryx demanded at Baz, not even looking Lapis in the eye when they entered the room.

“Shut up, Nyryx. Nightstar is here to help stop the hauntings so I can get some fucking sleep,” Baz snapped at his courtesan.

Ignoring the two of them, Lapis used her ability to speak to the fantôme and ask the spirit to please calm itself and to move to a different room. Lapis had already established a good reputation for herself among the spirits of Point-Sud, and the fantôme obliged to Lapis’ request. Moments later, the room felt lighter and the spirit’s aura was no longer present.

Baz was amazed and overjoyed, having little knowledge of the occult or Lapis’ unique skillset. Immediately he started formulating ways that these skills could help the Black Swords gang.

“One of the biggest problems we have is when our men are killed before delivering intel,” Baz explained. “And you are so young and beautiful… we could use a young woman like you to lure our enemies into traps. What do you say? Will you travel back north with me? I can train you to be a Slider, a spy. You and your fantômes can find out the information we need for a heist. And you’ll be handsomely rewarded.” He flipped a large gold coin out of his pocket and into Lapis’ hands.

“How much money did you just pay her??” shrieked Nyryx. “She barely did anything! You didn’t pay me half that much for the time I’ve spent with you!” Nyryx was glaring at Lapis with a jealous rage.

“Nightstar has a valuable skill,” Baz replied, smiling at Lapis. Then he turned to face the bed. “And do not question me again. I’m going to venture out alone tonight. You can leave now, Nyryx,” he said coldly to the naked woman, who quickly gathered her clothes and rushed out the door. Nyryx kept her eyes directly on Lapis as she left, and they seemed to almost glow red with rage.

Baz told Lapis that he was leaving for a job in two days, and would like her to accompany him for espionage training. He asked what ties she still had here in town, and if travel was acceptable to her.

“Oui, I am ready to leave Point-Sud. My mother runs the brothel and I do NOT want to work there like her,” Lapis replied, more to herself than to Baz.

“That is fine news!” Baz was rubbing his hands together, feeling quite satisfied. “But I must ask you something, and I need you to think on it and answer honestly. Clearly you are not a woman of the night, and I respect you as a professional consultant. However, if I am to train you in espionage, I need to know how far you are willing to go. You are pretty and young, and you can use that to your advantage in many situations as a Slider. But sometimes to get the information, you will have to get into bed.”

Lapis sighed. The beauty that her mother passed down to her seemed to inevitably force her down this path. Such is the life in the Underworld. But being a Slider was something interesting – something MORE than just bedding a different patron each night. This was an opportunity to use her innate ‘gifts’ for something beyond a cheap thrill. She could unlock mysteries and secrets! And she could make a LOT of gold! With enough money, she could retire and buy a home for herself and her mother.

“I understand,” Lapis said simply.

“Not with me, of course. I will train you and be your mentor. I’ll have some of the other female Sliders in the gang teach you about ‘bed manners’, shall we say. We will stop over at the Black Swords hideout near Cloudspire, and you can show them what you can do! I’m excited. Are you excited?”

“Excited to start my new life? Of course! Bien sûr!”

Before they left Point-Sud, Lapis told her mother about the plan to leave with Baz. Celeste was chuckling and gesturing towards Nyryx, who was drowning her sorrows at the bar in the entrance of the brothel.

“Seems as though someone else thought she’d be joining Bazso Baz on that trip,” Celeste laughed.

Lapis then produced the gold coin that Baz had paid her for helping with the fantôme, and gave it to Celeste.

“I plan on earning a lot more than this when I’m with the Black Swords. I’m going to make enough money so that neither of us have to work another day,” Lapis declared.

“Ah, ma petite fille. I will wait for you here until that day comes.”

They embraced for the last time in who-knows-how-long. Lapis was afraid to leave, but knew this was what she needed to do.

She left with Baz and they traveled north to Cloudspire, to the secret hideout of the Black Swords. For three years she learned to master the techniques of espionage, and found that using her body to gain information was far easier than she anticipated. Lapis, going by the name Nightstar, encountered different types of fantômes in Cloudspire, and she seemed to be growing popular within the spirit world due to her fair approach and treatment of the spirits. Sébastien le Voisin would be proud!

________________

I won’t write any more because we still have to figure out how our characters met and what we are doing right before the game starts. We’ll be playing the one-off this week, so stay tuned for what happens when Lapis de la Nuit meets up with Gwack Zextra and Alecia Petrovona! If you are interested in Blades in the Dark, be sure to check out their website: https://bladesinthedark.com/

AC Switch: A Wishlist

THIS IMAGE IS FAKE (but it would be hilariously amazing)

The Glux Blog started off as an Animal Crossing blog when I was playing AC:CF on the Wii. Ahh… back in the day. Now this blog has evolved, and so has the Animal Crossing franchise. The ‘current’ AC game is “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” on mobile phones, and while it’s not QUITE the AC experience that we know and love, it’s pretty great. AC:PC has completely revolutionized gardening; added a goal system for helping friends, catching bugs and fish, scavenger hunts and other objectives that keep you coming back; and has introduced tons of new furniture and clothing items through game updates. They add new events and features all the time, so the game is always changing.

Missions that keep me coming back and playing more.

Before that game came out, we had AC: Happy Home Designer, another spin-off title that focused specifically on interior and (brand new!) exterior home design. It introduced the new grid system for moving furniture around and made the entire home design process much easier.  AC:HHD also added large size vehicles to the catalog, something that I think a lot of people have been wanting.

Grid Editor on the lower screen makes interior design much simpler.

These games are both fun in their own ways, don’t get me wrong. But they aren’t REALLY Animal Crossing. We haven’t had a fresh AC main franchise title in 5 years. We haven’t really heard peep about something being in development for the Switch, but it must be on the way. I think Nintendo is taking their time with the release, since they already have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate coming out this holiday season. That should sell plenty of Switch systems for 2018, leaving more sales opportunity for AC in 2019. There’s also this:

As for when Animal Crossing Switch may actually happen, Fils-Aime says that Nintendo isn’t interested in teasing games for years. When it comes to fan favorite franchises, the company would much rather reveal information closer to the game’s planned release.

-Gamerant.com

This I do appreciate… I hate waiting for years anticipating a game (*cough* Cuphead *cough*). But I DO want a new Animal Crossing game for Switch ASAP.

Just in case there’s still time for game developers to read my blog and grant my wishes, here is what I’d love to see in the next Animal Crossing game. Special thanks to Carney who contributed to this wishlist!

  • Grid Editor for design and layout!
  • The Camper from AC:PC rules! Let me drive it to my friend’s towns during multiplayer. I love having that little separate space to decorate.
  • Exterior design is a MUST! I loved editing the outside of my house in AC:HHD, having control over all the aesthetics, and decorating the lawn with items.
  • Let me dress my townies!! YAS! Gracie can judge my picks!
  • Daily Goals, Monthly Goals, and Event Goals would be great!
  • Free DLC & Updates as often as in Splatoon 2.
  • Design the interior/exterior of public buildings.
  • Incorporate the fun mini games from Amiibo Festival. Also, more co-op mini games from AC:NL’s Tortimer Island.
  • FULL AMIIBO SUPPORT that brings your favorite characters to town. I’m talking  about the Amiibo Festival figures AND the Amiibo Cards from AC:HHD, and maybe some new ones too.
  • The Nintendo Switch Online App sync’s with my catalog so I can view it on the go, kind of like a Pokedex.
  • Improved gardening and cross pollination with new hybrids.
  • Bring back the virtual console games you can play in your house, like in the AC Game Cube game. WITH MULTIPLAYER!!
  • More New Animal Types (More Unicorns??!!? 🦄)
  • New NPC characters too!
  • BRING BACK THE UFO IN THE SKY (just make it a little easier to shoot please)
  • More RL holidays from different countries. In AC:CF I would have to travel to friends in other countries to experience special holidays and get exclusive DLC. Why can’t we all enjoy the rich variety of cultures and learn about new holidays from around the world?
  • A release date within the next YEAR!!! PLEASE!!!!

That’s my wishlist… so far, that is! Until Nintendo releases info about an AC Switch game, all we can do is hope and dream. What do you hope to see in the next Animal Crossing title? Leave a comment with your ideas! 🙂