Splatfest TMNT-style!

Last week it seemed like EVERY Nintendo Switch fan was talking about Splatoon 2. Why? Because the latest Splatfest had been announced and this one’s a doozy! It’s a three week single elimination bracket tournament to determine WHO IS THE BEST NINJA TURTLE!!

The animals in Mayor Gluxie’s Pocket Campsite were gearing up for the epic battle. Luckily the latest premium fortune cookie (Hopkins’ Game Cookie) allowed us to have a Nintendo Switch at the campsite! If anyone is wondering… we have a 3DS too. Come visit my campsite and see! lol

Naturally, the first thing you do in a Splatfest is pick a side. Round One of the TMNT-themed tournament pitted Leonardo against Raphael. #TeamLeo and #TeamRaph were talking a lot of smack on social media leading up to the big day. Which team did I pick?

#TeamRaph all the way!

If it comes down to the goody-two-shoes Leonardo and anger-management-candidate Raphael, I’m picking the deep moody choice for sure! I never liked Leo even in the cartoons that I watched in the 90’s. (For those who are interested – my TOP FAVE is Michaelangelo, who will be competing in the next Splatfest this weekend. Cowabunga!)

Team Raphael was very strong. I felt that we were dominating from the beginning. It definitely helped that I had practiced a bit at the Nintendo Switch meetup event that I went to the night before!

After so much winning, I definitely needed a break. Luckily the Splatoon 2 Amiibo mode has lots of fun photo op things to play around with. I decided to take a dance break and have some fun!

Splatoon 2 is really a lot of fun. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of shooting games and paintball, because this game is a fun combination of the two. It’s kid friendly, but has enough challenging ranked modes to keep intense gamers involved too. The Splatfests add the voting fun that I miss from the “Everybody Votes” Wii Channel (throwback!!) along with friendly competition between friends. Plus it’s way better than ARMS. Forget ARMS.

OH and of course, who won the Splatfest? As if there were any question…

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Book Report: It

Custom cover art by @gluxbox

Book Title: It

Author: Stephen King

About the Author: Well known horror writer with several of his scary books having been adapted into scary MOVIES which were also good. King is from Maine, and many of his stories seem to take place in New England. He has won awards, you can Google him just as easily as I can… lol. I’ve been reading Stephen King novels since I was a preteen at summer camp.

Main Characters: Sooo many characters. Here are the main ones. WARNING: SPOILERS BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS OLD AND THERE ARE ALREADY TWO MOVIES OUT FOR THIS BOOK SO JUST DEAL WITH IT!! lol

Bill: The leader of the “Losers Club” whose younger brother was murdered by It. He has a st-st-stutter but he’s brave and determined. His family basically started ignoring him after his brother died, so he’s a very sympathetic character as well. Interestingly, his character turns into a horror novelist when he gets older… is this character secretly based on King himself?? (No idea. lol)

Ben: Old Haystack is the fat guy in the “Losers Club” but he’s also the brains of the operation. He turns into some famous engineer or architect when he grows up, and also loses all the weight. He is usually the main target for the mean bullies in their childhood. He has a huge crush on the only girl in the group…

Beverly: A redheaded misfit whose outward appearance is described in much more detail than any of the characters, which I thought was kind of lame. More than once, the hardness of her nipples was described in unnecessary detail. Aren’t these kids supposed to be like 12? That made me uncomfortable… Anyway, she comes from a broken home with an abusive father and ends up marrying an equally abusive asshole. But she is strong, spunky and can aim a slingshot like nobody’s business!

Richie: The funny-guy of the “Losers Club” who talks in a million different voices, most of them racist. Let’s say that’s because of the time period when (some) of the book takes place, late 1950’s. He smokes cigarettes and is mostly ‘normal’ aside from that. He turns into a famous radio DJ in his adult life, that’s kinda cool.

Eddie: The hypochondriac of the “Losers Club” (is there always one of those in a group of kids??) who is convinced he has asthma, but he really just has high anxiety because of his overbearing mother. Even after the creepy pharmacist explains that his aspirator is a placebo, he kept using it throughout his adult life. (Why? Did he end up getting a real prescription from a doctor?)

Mike: Hate to say it, but the token black kid of the “Losers Club.” He’s a real historian type, with the local perspective and has compiled information about It throughout the years. He is the only one of the group that never moved away from Derry, ME. His family owned a farm next to the town bully, which led to all kinds of mean stuff happening to him specifically. Then as an adult he worked at the library. Why didn’t he get haunted by It all the time…?

Stan: While we’re at it, the token Jew of the “Losers Club,” Stan has a thing about birds. He is an avid bird-watcher and carries a book about birds in his pocket at all times. However, apparently he was the weakest of the group in terms of mentally stability. His childhood self has a very different impact on the story than his adult self.

Henry: The bully. This guy is an asshole. His dad is crazy. It uses it’s powers of evil through this kid sometimes. He runs a gang of big oafish jerk dudes that antagonize the “Losers Club” all summer. He is literally trying to kill them.

It: Evil manifested into an alien monster that can morph into your greatest fears.

Plot Summary: When Bill’s brother Georgie was killed in 1957, it started a chain of murders with similar horror and gory details. Adults don’t want to acknowledge the details that kids keep noticing – a suspicious clown at the scene. Seeing a strange balloon. Inanimate objects moving. Even blood splatters that grown-ups just don’t see. This is the world of horror that the Losers Club lived in during the summer of 1958 when they joined together to put an end to “It.” The Losers Club was a band of friends who all shared experiences of almost getting caught by It and vowed to put an end to the terror. After their childhood attempt rendered It dormant but ultimately not dead, more kids ended up getting murdered in the 1980’s, and Mike reminded the group of their promise. Some of them made it back… and they had to regain their memory before they could take on the monster again. As adults, they had new horrors to face but they put an end to It in a much more final way. That’s as basic of a plot summary as I can muster without giving away everything.

Lessons Learned: Life in the 1950’s seemed pretty bad for kids. Parents didn’t listen and ditched you at the movie theater for hours, you had to ride back home on the back of your friend’s unsafe bike… Yeesh.

Personal Opinions: I would like to comment on the story-telling of this novel. I’ve read plenty of other Stephen King books and this one is extremely non-linear. Painfully. You jump between different time periods and at the end of the book this becomes exceedingly confusing. The story is 80% flashback, told via memories, police reports and diary entries. There is a TON of descriptive back story about the town and some of the characters, but at what point does it become information overload? I also take issue with a lot of unresolved details at the end of the book. If you are going to spend an entire chapter describing the backstory of one side character, and then kill him off with half of a sentence and nobody bats an eye or asks any questions about it…? That just seems like bad writing. I felt the novel was overly long and drawn out. It was laborious to read and get through… and when I finally made it to the end, I was so appalled by the lack of resolution in certain areas. Important things were not explained enough. This was not the best Stephen King book.

For the record, I would recommend The Shining.

Napping in the City that Never Sleeps

People love New York City because of all of the hustle and bustle. So much opportunity! If you can make it here you can make it anywhere! It’s the city that never sleeps! No wonder we’re so stressed out.

I’ve been lowkey going on a spiritual journey and exploring new ideas and methods of finding true happiness. (Sounds deep, I know.) My first step was reading self love books, which I still do and enjoy very much. And there are TONS OF BOOKS about this. After doing some reading, I realized there was a lot of potential in meditating regularly. (Since then I have also been exploring tarot cards, crystal grids and more… but I want to stay on topic here.)

Meditation can be a powerful tool in helping you to focus, calm yourself, or seek answers to a problem that you are having. In my meditations, I have experienced various kinds of visualizations, from out-of-body experiences to seemingly traveling to far off places… But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it can be very hard to focus; my mind wanders, or an outside element distracts me. This setback has caused me to start looking for new places to meditate, or maybe a class.

My search brought me to Nap York, located right near Penn Station. (Conveniently located for commuters who might have missed their train and need a place to chill while they wait for the next.) Nap York provides various services: the first floor is the Nap York Cafe, which I haven’t tried, but serves a variety of healthy looking organic fare. At the cash register you can enroll in a yoga or meditation class, or you can reserve a private nap pod. I had received a token for a free 30 min nap pod, so that is what I tried out.

I was told to walk up the stairs to the fourth floor, and to go into Pod 19. Admittedly, I was a little nervous – it was VERY dark and quiet. I was worried about making a noise and disturbing someone. When I got to the fourth floor, I found a wall of giant cubby holes. It was like a pod hotel; there were 2 rows of pods stacked one upon the other, with little steps to get into the top row pods, if that’s where you were assigned. Along the opposite wall were leafy green plants and a humidifier or some kind of incense burner. It wafted out a light, pleasant smelling fog.

Inside the basic nap pod is what you see in my photo: a pillow, a blanket, a little shelf with what looked like ear buds, and a strobe light. I say strobe bc it flashes briefly occasionally to give you your bearings without turning a light on. I have a feeling if I had messed with it, I could have turned the light on and used it for a reading light or something. But that’s not why I was there. I crawled into my little pod, drew the black curtain closed, and turned on one of the guided meditation recordings I have on my phone (using my own ear buds bc that’s not the kind of thing I like to share with strangers lol). On the top of each pod ceiling was a small sea of illuminated stars.

I felt that the nap pod was a great place to meditate. While there were a few dim lights in the pod, the overall deep darkness of the space allows you to really tune into your other senses. My meditation was deep and refreshing, and the time went by quickly. I definitely recommend Nap York for someone who needs a quiet escape, even if for just a half hour. (You can absolutely book much longer reservations, btw.) I am extremely interested in checking out one of their guided meditation classes.

Now, a review wouldn’t be complete with a few negatives. Here were my minimal gripes:

  • The “studio” space reserved for classes looked really small. I saw two girls warming up for a yoga class on the second floor, and their studio space was simply a part of that room, sectioned off by large planters. I would imagine if there was a class with more than 5 students, it would be very cramped.
  • There was nobody on the fourth floor to guide me to my pod. I think someone was supposed to be there. Since I felt very alone, I also felt a little insecure. Was I in the right place? What if some stranger jumps into my pod?? (Turned out that I actually did go into the wrong pod, but I didn’t notice until I was leaving, and nobody was there so it didn’t matter.)
  • I had a headache basically as soon as I left. Not sure if that was going from the darkness to the light or what, but that was kind of weird.

ANYWAY, I still liked Nap York. I think it is a great place to take a break and recharge my spirit. I think I might join their membership because I will get a discount on all services – which would allow me to try out one of the more DELUXE nap pods. I like the convenience of the location by Penn Station. They are open late too, which is nice to know. You can learn more about their services and pricing here: napyork.com/rates

Do you have any secret spots like this that are good places to escape? Let me know where you go to recharge, I’m open to new ideas!!

Inside the Nintendo Labo

With birthdays come presents, and so on Friday when I (and thousands of others) received the Amazon Treasure Truck alert for Nintendo Labo pick-up in NYC and a friend suggested this be her gift to me… I decided to go pick one up!

Amazon Treasure Truck!

I’ve never purchased anything through Treasure Truck before, so I was interested to see how it would work. My pickup location was near a Whole Foods, so I walked over to the store and found the truck stationed around the corner. There was only a short line – I don’t know if that’s because I got there on the early side, or if the demand is low for this game, but I was relieved that this wasn’t going to take too long. A table was set up for people to enter to win a free Nintendo Switch, and other workers were scanning our Treasure Truck QR codes and handing out the huge Nintendo Labo boxes.

Practice Tutorial: Joy Con Holder

The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit is a collection of “Toy Con” construction sets, as well as a Nintendo Switch game to guide you through the assembly and facilitate the cool game features that the Toy Con unlock. While the game is certainly geared towards kids, an adult is most likely required during the Make phase, which can get a little complicated! I’ve only made the RC Car Toy Con so far, check it out!

The RC car has no wheels, and is powered by the Joy Con inserted into the side, causing vibration down the legs of the RC car, propelling it forward. (It only works on hard surfaces, and my room is carpeted so I just used the Labo box.)

The RC Car set comes with a cardboard car to follow along with in the instructions, a matching ‘antenna’ to stick on the Switch console, as well as a few extra add-ons and stickers! It also comes with a second cardboard RC car that you can build if you have a second set of Joy Con to use with it. Right now I only have the gray set, but I’m going to get a colored Joy Con set with a birthday gift card. (SIDE BAR: I really can’t decide which color Joy Con set to get! Red and Blue, or Neon Yellow and Pink?? They are both really cool! I wish there was an Orange and Blue option… Leave me a comment on which set I should get tho!!)

You probably wanna see the RC car in action. It’s actually pretty loud. I made a quick video for you to see that this actually works. In the video you can see that I use the Switch console as a controller and press buttons on the screen to make the RC car move – and I can control the left and the right independently if I choose. That’s cool and all, but a little bland, right?

When you complete the initial construction and play through the mechanics, you are taken to the next phase of the Nintendo Labo game, the Discover phase. In this separate section of the game, you can explore some additional features of the new Toy Con you just built, and see some suggested new ways to play. When it comes to this RC Car that I made, did you realize that since the Joy Con utilize built-in IR technology that this RC car also has a fully functional ‘night-vision’ camera?? I didn’t, until I was checking through this Discover section! I used it in the day time but in my photo here you can clearly see the camera POV of my RC Car as it sits on top of the Nintendo Labo box.

There are other hidden features in the RC car, such as the ability to auto-navigate via use of reflective tape. There is also a ‘two player’ mode for people who have a second set of Joy Con. You can build that second RC Car that I mentioned and set up RC Sumo Matches! Or try racing them! Or come up with something else… I had fun freaking out my cat with my RC Car!! lol

OK so now you have your RC Car, and maybe a friend to RC Sumo with, but you still need to add a little SOMETHING to make this more fun? Nintendo Labo also provides a few extras to customize your RC Car. There is a Plow attachment, an Elephant head attachment, and a Sunglasses attachment. The Discover section also shows ideas on how to use paints, markers, and all sorts of materials to really customize the RC car and make it special. As a bullet journal enthusiast, I have plenty of washi tape and stickers on hand. Here is my final RC Car Masterpiece:

My RC Car! Does he need a name??

What do you think of my RC Car? If anyone else has this game and wants to race or sumo wrestle their car, hit me up!! lol

Since Nintendo Labo is so hands-on and mysterious to everyone, I’ll continue to document my construction of Toy Con projects for future blog entries. Unless you totally think this is over-sharing and want me to stop, let me know in the comments about that too hahaha!!

In closing, Happy Earth Day! And Carney‘s Birthday! Plus it’s Nature Day in Animal Crossing Pocket Camp! (Not to mention there’s ANOTHER new feature coming soon in ACPC! I’ll blog about it when it’s released!! Yayyyyy!)

Interview with a Pokédeck

ITS MY BIRTHDAY!!!! *rah rah* The animals in my Pocket Camp are all wishing me a happy birthday. How cute! But more importantly, I got an amazing gift yesterday at my birthday party. My always-thoughtful and amazing bestie CarneyVorous gave me what is called a Poke Box. It’s a deck of tarot cards that are Pokémon themed and beautifully designed. I couldn’t wait to try them out! I’ve learned from Carney that a good way to get a feel for how a new deck will work for you is to do a ‘deck interview.’ I ask a list of questions to the deck, pull a card to get an answer, and get to know the deck a little. Here’s how it went:

Tell me about yourself.

2 of Swords: I’m a “Pokédeck.” Throughout my set of beautiful cards, you will find an assortment of the 721 Pokémon found in the sixth generation of the series. On the Two of Swords we see a blindfolded Samurott wielding what appears to be an unsheathed Doublade, standing beneath an ominous crescent moon. There are seemingly endless choices and countless possibilities of what Pokémon you might encounter in this deck. Do not let the information overload overwhelm you!

What are your strengths?

Knight of Cups: My cards are beautiful depictions of Pokémon living together in their world. The artistry of the illustration will inspire and motivate you to keep learning to read these cards. In the Knight of Cups, a Knighted Piplup rides the back of a mighty Keldeo, a water-type Legendary Pokémon, as they pass a small stream. This scene is an imaginative example of the potential outcomes of a reading with this Pokédeck. But while the romantic fantasy shown on this card is enchanting and reassuring, do not be too taken in by my charm. I am still a tarot deck, with deep spiritual messages and lessons to be learned. Just because I am cute does not mean I am not to be taken seriously. Do not have unrealistic expectations that the guidance will be easy or happy all the time. Do not assume that because there are Pokémon on my cards that this deck is for children. Most assuredly, I am not.

What are your limitations?

The High Priestess: I am a tarot deck to be used to help you develop your intuition and gain connection to Higher Powers. I am intended to help you seek out the deep questions within your subconscious mind and help focus your path to enlightenment. On my card, Cresselia the Psychic-type Legendary is illustrated as the High Priestess. She is guarded on both sides by the Black and White Legendaries, Zekrom and Reshiram, the yin and yang of the Pokémon world. Remember that this deck is to guide you on a spiritual level, and I can’t predict who is going to beat the Elite Four.

What are you here to teach me?

Four of Swords: The card I am showing here is what appears to be the remains of an old Regigigas, asleep for centuries and overgrown with moss in an old temple in the mountains. (Yes Poké-nerds, this is exactly like the movie “Giratina and the Sky Warrior.” The artist who made this deck is clearly a devout Pokémon fan!!) Imagine the complete stillness and silence of the scene on this card – this is the level of concentration and relaxation that you can strive toward. Your life has had it’s share of challenges lately, so take this time to relax and reach a refreshing zen state. Recharge your batteries. Also note that there is one separate Aegislash laying beside the Regigigas – this suggests that there is one key issue in your life that we need to explore and address to help you achieve your goals.

How can we best collaborate?

Seven of Swords: I need you to be committed and not sneak away if my readings seem too complicated or intimidating. Psychic/Ghost Mythical Hoopa is shown on this card, stealing  a pile of Aegislash (the themed Pokémon for the Swords suit) and using one of his rings as a portal to easily transport away from the scene. Hoopa is winking, showing that he is crafty and prepared for his stealthy heist. Use the information that you learn from my deck strategically for best results.

What’s the potential outcome for our relationship?

The Chariot: You want to be the very best, like no one ever was? I am here to help you achieve victory! Every challenge along the way, with courage you will face. You will battle every day to claim your rightful place! I could sing the whole theme song for you, but this card with Lucario riding in a Coliseum under a starry sky, in a chariot pulled by two Luxrays is pretty much as epic of a visual you need to get the idea. One of the Luxrays shown is a SHINY Luxray, making the illustration even more special. Lucario is wielding a gleaming golden Aegislash in a confident and strong gesture. The Chariot card represents strength and courage, victory and determination… all of the facets you need to be a Pokémon Champion. You got goals and dreams? We’re gonna catch ’em all.

How will you evolve over time?

Ace of Wands: Yes, one would think that because I’m a Pokédeck that I’d evolve like most Pokémon. However, like the image on the Ace of Wands, showing an illuminated Ho-Oh flying off towards a rainbow in the sky… I am Legendary. I can help you use creative powers to unlock inspiration, and use your instincts to hone your intuition more clearly. It is more likely that YOU will be the one doing the evolving!

What is your special move?

Four of Cups: My specialty is looking introspectively and contemplating decisions. This card depicts an Eevee that is deep in thought, with three cups holding different evolution stones set up before him. This scene indicates that Eevee is trying to mull over the important decision of which evolution stone to choose. However, Eevee is so deep in thought that he does not notice the fluffy Cottonee floating next to him, offering another cup… the option of more unknown possibilities. Keep this card in mind and remember that while this journey may teach you the strength of looking inward to find answers, there are still other possibilities to which your eyes might be blind. Remember to seek advice from external sources as well as through this Pokédeck. 

I think this tarot deck will take me on a deep journey towards seeking inner peace and enlightenment, while also fueling my fandom for Pokémon and appreciation for the artwork and thoughtfulness that went into the creation of this deck. The creator really did their homework both on the messages of the cards and converting them into themes that work directly in the Pokémon universe. I’m really so impressed with this deck, and I think that the interview was correct in that the beauty of the deck will keep me inspired to use it daily. I am already in love!!

Is that an UPDATE in your Pocket [Camp]??

While we all anxiously wait for the inevitable announcement (someday) of an Animal Crossing Switch title, most fans are content to play Nintendo’s mobile version Pocket Camp. I really want to give them kudos because I think this game encompasses the AC feel and cuteness of the main franchise, while seamlessly adapting it to a mobile platform and play-style.

People complained about it a little at the beginning, but Nintendo has been adding a TON of updates and new features to this simple mobile game. It seems that every two weeks there is a new in-game event regarding holidays, gardening or collecting items to craft fun new themes. This week there was another big update and there are even MORE new features! I am pretty psyched about ’em and I wanted to make sure everyone was aware and would log in and start playing some more!!

Gulliver!

The first new addition to AC Pocket Camp is Gulliver and his ship! No, not a space ship… it seems that Gulliver has hung up his space suit in favor of a sailor suit and is now in the import/export business. What’s really going on here is the game has finally added the ability for you to get rid of extra furniture or clothing items (if you befriend enough animals, you end up with some duplicate t-shirts automatically). And not only can you get rid of these unwanted items – Gulliver will bring you treats in return! Depending on the rarity of what you are throwing out, Gulliver brings snacks of varying star rating that you can give to animal friends to help them level up. It’s a win-win! And you don’t have to worry about shooting him down because Gulliver shows up at regular times and is super easy to find in ACPC.

The feature that Nintendo seemed the most excited to announce is apparently the most controversial on the internet right now, the Fortune Cookies! Personally, I think they are really cute. People are complaining b/c they are basically ‘loot crate’ cookies that give you a random item and you might end up with a repeat.

Pocket Camp Fortune Cookies

From what I’ve seen, there are 5 types of Fortune Cookies: Marshal’s pastry cookie, Rosie’s pop star cookie, Filbert’s rocket cookie, Timmy’s cookie and Tommy’s cookie. The first three are pictured above and can be purchased with 50 leaf tickets. The cookies contain new, rare furniture items and clothing to collect. And the best part – if you do manage to collect all the items and have the right animals visiting at your camp, you can unlock cute little “Memories” which I can only assume are little cut-scenes.

Filbert Fortune Cookie Prize

What people seem to be upset about is that the Marshal, Rosie and Filbert cookies can be purchased with leaf tickets as well, and at 50 leaf tickets each… that is a little pricey. But maybe they don’t realize that these premium cookies are also in the regular rotation. I bought a Filbert cookie for 5,000 bells yesterday and got this cool Control Room Desk without spending a penny!

Keep in mind that the log-in bonuses to kick off this new update are two fortune cookies, and then 5 days worth of 10x leaf tickets, so Nintendo is giving away a decent amount for free. And if you play diligently, it’s actually pretty easy to accumulate plenty of leaf tickets without buying a premium pack. I have yet to spend any money on this game. I think Pocket Camp is pretty generous for a freemium game. They make it much easier to get premium currency for free than some of the other mobile games I’ve played on my phone.

So aside from this controversial new Fortune Cookie feature, there are even more updates in Pocket Camp that I think are even better. They are just little things, but bring more of the full Animal Crossing experience to the game. New animal requests have been added, and in certain requests you can actually select which fruit, fish, bug or flower that you want to give away. Also, the ‘perfect fruits’ that were introduced in ACNL can now pop up in your fruit trees at random. Which is great, because if you choose to gift a perfect fruit in an animal request, they will give you bonus treats and sometimes even a fortune cookie!

But if you’re a long-time hardcore AC player like me, then the new fish and bug additions in the update are the most exciting! I caught a loach the other day! AND they added the ability to see the quantity of each item that you already own when you catch a fish, pick up a fruit, catch a bug, and pick up a shell. No more wasting inventory with a million corals because you forgot you already had them. It makes managing your items a lot easier.

Maybe the haters don’t like this new update, but I am once again re-inspired to log in and check on my campers. I would also like to mention that one of my favorite things about Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is that your favorite animals NEVER LEAVE. It’s not like the other AC games where townies will slip away in the night leaving an empty lot and broken hearts behind. In Pocket Camp, the animals stay until you say so! You can keep them forever and dress them up. I truly hope this sort of idea is passed along into the next AC game. Nothing is worse than the loss of your favorite animal bestie lol!

OK well I gotta go do some missions and earn some more fortune cookies because I want to unlock these new Memories! Have you been playing Pocket Camp? Are you excited or upset about the new features? Let me know your opinions!

Danaeryzard & Alaria: The Crystal Cursed Diadem

OK y’all it’s time to get nerdy. After completing my first-ever DnD session with my awesome friend Carney and our always patient DM “Tall Sven”, I realized that I took diligent notes. Naturally, I’m going to keep writing out the adventures of Danaeryzard & Alaria in our DnD game!

…………..

Danaeryzard knew she had done it this time. The black smoke rising from her latest wildfire had attracted… something. Or someone. She could sense the approach – but only barely, as though the footsteps were gliding along the wind itself. There was no sense in trying to hide, her guilt was proven by the steam still pouring from her lizard-like nostrils. Dany shrunk back into the hood of her cloak and hoped the approaching figure would pass her by.

When she saw the horns peeking out from the side of an overgrown bush about a yard away, Dany felt an instant wave of relief. Maybe it was only a goat? 

The Tiefling female seemed so small when she stepped out, but her face was brave and confident, albeit a little lost. Her horns were her most prominent feature, followed by her long flowing hair. She would be beautiful, if only she had dragon scales…

“Was that you, roasting all of these birds?” the Tiefling asked with a wink.

Dany noticed that the Tiefling was carrying a few dead and fire-singed quails. Her intuition told her that this was not a threatening approach. Danaeryzard dared not reply, her mouth still hot with flames.

“My name is Alaria… I’ve been trying to make my way through this forest. Are you alone out here?”

Dany gave a shy nod in response. Alaria motioned to sit nearby, and without speaking Dany indicated consent. Alaria passed one of the smoking birds to Dany and they sat together sharing their small meal in silence. Eventually, after eating and drinking some water, Dany gathered the courage to speak.

“I am called Danaeryzard the Dragonborn. Truth be told, I have been exiled from my home, so yes, I am on my own. I know this forest quite well, maybe I can point you in the right direction.”

The two spoke a bit more about where the Tiefling was from, and Dany learned that Alaria was a Rogue traveling alone and seeking companionship. Dany worried, as she always did, about getting too close to anyone. But accompanying someone towards the edge of the woods, that wasn’t much risk was it? 

They walked no further than 50 feet before they came across the small clearing in the forest. A tiny field, surrounded by large trees, was enclosing a peculiar scene – two large Bullywugs leaning over what appeared to be a recently killed human fighter. They were dressed in typical Bullywug fashion, their humanoid bodies in soldiers uniforms, only with bulging frog heads bursting from their necks. They were croaking out laughter about their latest kill, and didn’t notice the approach of Dany and Alaria. The sight of these Bullywugs repulsed Dany. She had seen these kind many times back in her homeland. Bullwugs often associated with some of the baddest and least savory members of her family’s Dragonborn clan and she had heard tales of some of the nasty business they did. Dany was certain that these Bullwugs in the forest were not any more innocent and would pose an immediate threat.

Without a word, the two silently readied their bows and began the battle. It was terrifying for Dany; she had never seen real battle before, and felt completely unprepared. Her light crossbow shots were missing and the Bullywugs had a nasty bite. She was attacked first, and was brutally bitten by a fast-moving Bullywug. Before long, Dany found herself on the brink of passing out, but saw Alaria handling the fight with great proficiency. As she blinked in and out of consciousness, Dany felt a jolt of pride for her new friend. 

It must have been a few hours later when she finally woke up, but Alaria didn’t seem too worried that Dany had blacked out. Maybe this sort of thing had happened to her new friend before, Dany couldn’t be sure. But she could tell that the battle had been won. Apparently Alaria had also checked the dead human body for anything useful, and this was when Dany realized the benefits of being friends with a professional thief.

After the success of their quick battle, they decided to continue traveling together. Dany lead them through the edge of the woods and they could see the Castle of Drachen from miles away before they got close to the city limits. The white castle shone brightly like a beacon and they reached the castle gates easily. The two were welcomed as friendly travelers, which was a bit of a shock to Dany. She had grown accustomed to strangers being afraid of her due to her lizard-like appearance, but everyone in Drachen seemed to be unaffected by her unique race. They decided to stop at the pub first to rest up and get a drink.

Inside, the pub was bustling with all kinds of people. Dany and Alaria nervously kept to themselves, and chose a table near the door. Within a few moments, an impressively large Magistrate was joining them at the table. He introduced himself as Kolari, an officer of the Royal Expeditionary Guard. They barely finished their polite replies before Kolari began pleading for help.

Kolari explained that Princess Pema, the beautiful royal princess who lived in Castle Drachen, was distressed. One of her favorite Diadems had been stolen by a pack of Jackalwere bandits in the desert between Drachen and Dragonlance! Kolari implored to them to please come to her aid, as they had no  more soliders available in the barracks for this quest. He promised to pay them 100 GP if they could return the Diadem safely to the castle. 

Dany and Alaria weren’t quite sure what to make of this random stranger’s desperate request, and by the looks on their faces it was pretty obvious to Kolari as well. He told them that they could think it over, but if they were interested in joining the Expeditionary Guard, that they should meet him that evening at the castle.

Just as Kolari was finishing his speech, a mysterious looking elf walked by and scoffed at Kolari. “Recruiting again, are we Kolari? Why don’t you leave these people alone for once?” The moment became awkward and Kolari made his leave. The elf lingered a few moments more. She introduced herself as Ezra and said that she too wanted that Diadem – but not to give back to the Princess. Ezra offered that the two join up with her and the Midnight Ring, and they would be paid 200 GP for completing the task. It seemed that Alaria knew more about this Midnight Ring, but Dany was oblivious. Dany thought that Ezra seemed a bit shady, and expressed her preference to help Kolari.

In the end, they decided to go to the castle and see if they could speak to the Princess directly. Inside the glorious Castle Drachen, they were taken directly to the throne room. Princess Pema awaited them and asked again that they help her. Dany and Alaria were outfitted with extra rations, some extra gold, and horses by the Quartermaster Thamdid. Dany was also gifted a Cloak of Protection, which was beautiful and exquisitely crafted. Before they realized what had happened, they were on their way to retrieve the stolen Diadem.

While she wasn’t thrilled to be heading back towards Dragonlance, Dany and Alaria began their journey with full speed. After two days on the road, they came upon a road that lead through an ancient ruins. The crumbled remains of old buildings lined the road, and as they approached they saw a wounded warrior laying by a tree. He was clearly alive and struggling, so they approached him with concern. 

They told the wounded man that they had come from the castle. He immediately asked if they were searching for the Diadem. He began to speak frantically about a curse and how they needed to stop the ritual being planned by the evil Sun Wizard. Dany had no idea what he was talking about, but she wanted to help him. He was very handsome, even with his bleeding wounds. The man says that his name is Hendricks and he thinks the Jackalweres that attacked him must not be far away. Dany and Alaria scouted the area and discovered that there were indeed two Jackalweres hiding out in a nearby ancient building with broken stone walls. 

Dany used her magic orb to create a minor illusion cantrip to draw out the Jackalweres. Again, she learned that her lack of combat skills were going to be a problem if she gets too close to an enemy. Much like in their last battle, Dany found herself as a giant target, fending off foes while Alaria did most of the real attacking. The outcome was another success, and while everyone was a bit worse for wear afterwards, they came out with extra gold and a health potion. Alaria offered the potion to Hendricks, which Dany thought was very generous for a Tiefling. Once they had completed a long rest, the trio continued onward to find the Diadem.

As the dirt ground began to turn into yellow sand, Dany knew that they were getting closer to Dragonlance. When they approached the mouth of a large dark cave, she found her confirmation – the cave door was guarded by a magic stone dragon head. Beneath the head of the dragon was a message scrawled in Draconian: “The password is Gold.”

This clue gave Dany a sinking feeling in her core. Gold Draconians. Would she never escape the demons of her past? Or would they continue to find her and torment her? She whispered the meaning of the message to her travel companions. They deliberated for quite a while, arguing with the magical stone head who responded to their questions as though it thought it was a real dragon. “What are you talking about, ‘password’? I haven’t the slightest idea,” the stone dragon head replied, turning its dragon snout upwards snootily. 

“But it says right beneath you that the password is GOLD!” Dany insisted, feeling very foolish to be having an argument with a dragon-headed gargoyle. 

“What are you talking about? That’s nonsense. ‘The password is gold?'”

As soon as the stone dragon head spoke the word gold from it’s own mouth, the door swung open and the three rushed in. They made their way down a dark, barely lit cave hall, which ultimately led into a torture chamber. It was empty, aside from a dead human body still outstretched in what must have been an extremely painful position. They looked at the body with pity as the door swung behind them and locked them in. 

The resourceful group realized that the only way out now was through a hatch in the ceiling. They stacked up storage boxes littered around the room and climbed their way up, and they barely made it to the second floor of the dark cave. Alaria fell on her way up, knocking boxes and crates over with a loud bang and commotion, but no enemies on the second floor heard it… because they were all distracted by what appeared to be a magical seance.

Three Jackalweres were standing before a masked man floating in a protective, bright yellow magical orb. The Sun Wizard! He was holding the Diadem and appeared to be in deep concentration. His lips were moving, speaking inaudible words with great speed. 

“The ritual! He must be stopped!” cried Hendricks as they closed in on the enemies. But as soon as they made their move, the Jackalweres quickly turned to confront their challengers. Dany and her companions began to fight these strong werewolf-men. Hendricks told Dany and Alaria to proceed and stop the ritual while he distracted the Jackalweres. Dany was more than happy to sneak away from the fight, after how the last two battles had not gone well for her. Alaria and Dany each stepped deeper into the cave towards the Sun Wizard, and they noticed that the impenetrable shimmering orb was actually being held up by 4 crystals located in the corners of the room. Each taking one side, Dany and Alaria began to attack the giant magical crystals that controlled the Sun Wizard’s orb. 

For the first time in her life, Dany’s breath weapon was useful. She was able to aim her firey breath properly and attacked one of the crystals – burning up a slimy Flying Snake in the process. Each crystal only took two hits before they broke down into shards, which ceased the magical spell that created the orb protecting the Sun Wizard. 

Dany saw that Hendricks had handled the Jackalweres decidedly by this point, and all that was left was to attack the Sun Wizard himself and get the Diadem back. But before she could even raise her light crossbow, the Sun Wizard threw the Diadem towards the group and disappeared with a high-pitched screeching laugh that made their skin crawl. 

Hendricks confirmed that the ritual had not been completed and that the Diadem was safe to take back to the castle. They didn’t defeat the Sun Wizard – and that was certainly a problem – but they did achieve their goal! They successfully retrieved the stolen Diadem!

The ride back to the castle seemed to go much faster than the trip out to the desert. Dany was feeling so good about being able to control her breath weapon that she didn’t even mind that Alaria insisted on wearing the Diadem during the entire ride home. She felt that Alaria was a great teammate – the Tiefling was agile and had wonderful aim. With practice, the two of them might be a serious force!!

Back in the throne room, Princess Pema was grateful. On top of their promised reward (which had increased to 120 GP each due to the success), she offered them official positions within the Expeditionary Guard, with a weekly pay! Dany felt so proud. Never before had anyone given her a smile – let alone a reward! Maybe being exiled from her homeland was the best thing that could have happened to her. 

………………….

I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter in the Dany & Alaria DND saga! After our next session, I’ll post another novelesque blog! It might take a few weeks to get to the next chapter but stay tuned.

No PAX East for Glux

I am sad to report that I had to make a last minute decision to not attend PAX East 2018 this year. I had intended to go as a panelist for the StreetPass Game Show, which has now been running for a couple of years! But I suffered an injury last month and don’t feel up for traveling the distance or getting bumped around on the crowded show floor. So I decided to sit it out this year.

ANYWAY… I’m really proud of how the game show has progressed since it’s inception at Eternal Con back in 2016. Let’s see how it has evolved!

The original StreetPass Game Show was 100% manual. My awesome friend Sean built a game board out of PVC pipe and we switched out the answers between rounds, just like on old school Family Feud in the 1970’s. We performed in front of a crowd of 30ish and the room was packed. Everyone left smiling!

Here I am as Host Princess Peach laughing maniacally in front of the hand made PVC pipe StreetPass Game Show board in 2016!

Once the word got out about the StreetPass Game show, another awesome friend Miz Sylver helped us bring the game show to the modern age by converting the game board into a PowerPoint presentation which we could project onto a large screen. This made the game show something that we could take easily on the road. Scaling the game board onto a big projector screen made the game show that much more EPIC at PAX East, which had an actual theater for us to host the panel in. Check out the difference!

The StreetPass Game Show game board looking very captivating at PAX East 2017!

But what really makes me proud is that the game show can go on without me! We have the formula figured out and I know that the panelists doing the game show will do an amazing job this year, with Miz Sylver AND Sean both leading the way at PAX East 2018. I’m sad that I won’t be there, but hopefully another opportunity will arise for the StreetPass Game Show to be hosted at a future con that I can attend. (Maybe even NYCC? Don’t hold your breath but it would be cool to host a game show there!)

If you’re going to PAX East 2018 on Saturday night, don’t miss the StreetPass Game Show! Check it out and tell me all about it! I wish I was there….

Detective Pikachu Review

What. A. Weird. Game.

Nope, overall I’m not happy with the new game “Detective Pikachu” which came out for Nintendo 3DS last week.

For those who are unaware, Detective Pikachu is based on an upcoming movie that isn’t out until next year. And Detective Pikachu is not like other Pikachus, with their cute squeaky voices and mannerisms. This Pikachu has a deep voice and talks in a strangely gruff manner. To me it was extremely off-putting and not amusing or funny in any way. It was a major distraction to me the entire time.

The game works similarly to Professor Layton games in terms of exploring different areas by clicking on things that show up with a magnifying glass indicators, keeping notes and putting together the clues to solve mysteries. But it was NOT difficult or challenging like Professor Layton games. In between this ‘evidence collecting’ exploration game play, there are cut-scenes and overly simple “Press A at the right time” action sequences. On top of that, there times when Detective Pikachu decides he has something to say, and you are forced into watching these redundant Pikachu cut-scenes where he reviews info that you literally just discovered two seconds earlier and then has a sloowwwww fade out before returning back to your game play. Like why?? I would have loved to turn that feature off.

I’m going to post some vague spoilers here. I don’t recommend playing this game. Your life will be okay if you read on lol!!

To end each case, you use logic to solve whodunnit mysteries for random Pokemon owners that you encounter. But what really annoyed me was that there was a completely unresolved subplot. The character that you control is a young man searching for his missing father, and his missing father used to be Detective Pikachu’s partner. Detective Pikachu has amnesia and can’t use his Electric abilities. They never find his father. They never address the fact that they don’t find his father. They never explain WHY Pikachu and your character are able to communicate easily despite him being a Pokemon and you being a human. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS???

My assumption is that these questions might be answered in the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie. But that movie doesn’t come out until next year. By then this game will be irrelevant and forgotten.

Don’t get me started on the Detective Pikachu amiibo. The only cool thing about it is that it’s huge. But that means it was $30. What does it unlock? Pikachu cut-scenes that you might have missed in the game. No thanks. (I bought it bc FML I am obsessed with collecting Pikachu stuff lol.)

It is really cute tho.

Another [useless] thing I liked was that the game came with a digital download for a Detective Pikachu home menu theme. It plays latin inspired music like in the characters’ favorite coffee shop, and features a little cameo from Mimikyu.

The cute Pokemon characters throughout the game were fun too, I must admit. Being able to communicate with other Pokemon via Detective Pikachu was pretty adorable as well. But overall the game was pretty disappointing to me. The unresolved subplot and complete lack of any post-game whatsoever make this game a “definite pass.”

Have you played Detective Pikachu? What are your thoughts?