The Final Sessions

I am approaching the final session of the longest D&D campaign I’ve ever run.

The players have made their way through all the challenges I constructed for them. The only thing left to do is confront the final villain and defeat him.

I’m reminded of something I wrote in high school, that people are attracted to stories that excite them regardless of how real those stories are. The world, characters, and stories I’ve built through Dungeons and Dragons aren’t real, but the outcome is as important to me as the outcome of other things in my life.

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Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman with some friends. It was a good superhero movie, but I feel as if I’ve grown away from the genre despite still enjoying it in theory.

The movie stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine as her sidekick WW1 soldier.

Wonder Woman is, as far as I could tell, never referred to as Wonder Woman in the movie. Everyone calls her by her name, Diana, hearkening back to the virgin, Roman goddess of the hunt that inspired her creation. Continue reading

Characters of Cimmeria: Zelus

Zelus

Zelus is the Classical deific embodiment of zeal itself. He encapsulates excitement, eagerness, rivalry, and unwavering devotion to a sworn cause. Zelus is one of the Daimons, the divine children of Pallas and the River Styx. He currently aids the Exiles in their quest to eradicate Dragovinians from the face of the earth.

Zelus has a complicated place in the Olympian pantheon. Continue reading

Characters of Cimmeria: Amalgami the Hero

This post needs a little bit of clarification. As much as possible I try to avoid two characters having the same name in my campaign world. It happens often enough in real life and in real history, but it easily confuses people (Just try and explain the Norman Conquest of England to someone). Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid having two people with the same name in this case because one of my players wanted to name their character after an imagined hero of the past. I’m getting around to filling the gaps and now that hero of the past has his own story below. This post details Amalgami the Hero of Old, not Amalgami the Betrayer.

amalgami-the-heroAmalgami the Hero was known as the Lightning Knight. He joined the other heroes of the Dragon War in casting down their draconic oppressors.  He was a son of Zeus and his father gifted him with power over lightning and storms. Amalgami made friendships easily and if it weren’t for him the heroes of the Dragon War may never have worked together to accomplish their great deeds. At the conclusion of the war he slumbered along with the other heroes to return when the world needed him again.

Zeus found himself attracted to Brina, a priestess of his wife, Hera. Zeus will be Zeus, so he had his way with Brina and then left her to the anger of his wife. Infuriated that one of her own clergy would betray her (regardless of Brina’s own wishes in the encounter), Hera decreed a similar punishment that was given to Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. Brina would never deliver her child on dry land.

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Characters of Cimmeria: King Jevaninada the First

Today we take a short departure for the heroes of the Dragon War and focus on Jevaninada the First, the villain of a previous campaign I ran in Cimmeria. King Jev was a bit of wish fulfillment on my part for where I wanted my first D&D character, Anxe, to end up if I played him all the way to level 20. I gave Jev a whole kingdom, sweet loot, and an angel for a wife. Might not have been the most mature thing, but I was in high school when I created this character…

Jevaninada I

King Jevaninada the First set Xoria on a path of rapid expansion that has continued to this day. His personal magnetism and cunning manipulation of the Xorian nobles allowed him to discredit his sister’s claim to the throne. With her out of way Jevaninada built an unshakable power base for his invasions into the surrounding lands of Xoria. A well-timed marriage to Anajakaze, Queen of the Amazons and daughter of Zeus, ended the war between Xoria and Amazonia. As if the combined might of the two militaristic cultures wasn’t enough, Jev also commanded a mysterious group of powerful warriors known as the Seven Rages. Jev planned to conquer Cimmeria in its entirety, but his plans were cut short by the mercenaries his sister hired to oppose him. Jevaninada the First was slain at the Battle of Danar’s River. Queen Anajakaze carried on his dream of conquering Cimmeria and after her, his son, Jevaninada the Second.

Jevaninada was born the first prince of Xoria in 478 BCE to his father, King Demotinira, and his mother, Queen Biiratofara. The Queen died in child birth, leaving Demotinira with Jev and his older sister, Tarigananata, as the only surviving members of the royal family. Jev was raised by his Greek wetnurse, Andreiya, while his father attended matters of state such as warring with the Amazons and supplying the new Xorian colony of Petar. Andreiya was an Ionian Greek priestess of Artemis at Ephesus before she was enslaved and sold to the Xorian royal family. She tended the library at Ephesus and had read and copied many books prior to her captivity. She passed this knowledge onto the young prince as he was brought up. There was nary a topic that Jevaninada did not know something about.

When Jevaninada was not studying with Andreiya he learned martial arts with his instructor, General Antapike. The general used a spear when teaching, augmenting his already superior reach. Jev learned to close the gap with speed and trickery. Additionally he learned warcraft from Antapike and his father while observing their war councils before their numerous battles with the Amazons.

Jev’s final teacher was brought about by his father’s neglect. Demotinira believed a Spartan lifestyle bereft of comforts would develop sympathetic feeling in his children for their subjects. this worked for Tarigananata. She developed a natural love for the people of Xoria. Jevaninada reacted… differently. Lacking the luxuries he felt he deserved, Jev turned to theft. He stole jewelery, fine weapons, and elaborate toys from visitors to the castle. When Jev was taken on trips outside the castle he always managed to sneak something back in with him, be it a gold necklace or only a sweet bun. His father ordered Jev’s bodyguards to put a stop to it. The prince only learned which guards could be bribed and which he could hide from.

As Demotinira grew old he made it clear that Princess Tarigananata was his heir. She was the first born and she was a kinder, more generous person. Demotinira wanted a virtuous kingdom to follow his death. Jev’s father died when the prince was 20 years old. At that point Jev had already set his plans in motion to disinherit his sister.

Jevaninada had many friends at court. He convinced the nobles to forestall Princess Tari’s coronation until after consulting the Oracle at Delphi, the Oracle which he had already bribed to reveal a prophecy to his liking. The Oracle returned a prediction that Tarigananata would loose a terrible demon into Xoria twenty years after her father’s death. Jevaninada had her arrested and supposedly executed. In fact, she was saved by General Antapike who had realized Jevaninada’s trickery even if he could not prove it. The General and the Princess fled Xoria while Jevaninada was crowned King Jevaninada the First.

After stealing the throne, Jev was quick to restart war with the nearby Amazons of Dradelden. Half a decade of war proved indecisive until Jev disguised his army as slaves and snuck into Dradelden along with them. A chaotic melee broke out between the Xorian and Amazon troops while Jev sought out the Amazon Queen. After a day and a night of fighting King Jevaninada and Queen Anajakaze emerged together and declared an end to hostilities. From that moment on Xorian and Amazon would work together. Combat stopped and a magical spell initiated an orgy between the previously adversarial parties. King and Queen were soon married with seven strange warriors in attendance. These warriors would come to be known as the Seven Rages.

King Jevaninada used the combined strength of the Xorian army, the Amazon warriors, and the Seven Rages to conquer Makotako, Semanarie, and Colchis. King Aeetes of Colchis was cast into magical servitude, forced to serve Jevaninada as a lord against his will. Meanwhile, Princess Tarigananata had gathered allies of her own.

Nineteen years after King Demotinira’s death, his daughter struck against Jevaninada in a three pronged assault. She led an attack from the east along with Leopold Anigama, Atreides, Salzar, King Archidamus II of Sparta, King Willard of Aractrash, and Amalgami of Phoenix. In the south, Duke Prusu’s city of Jeutontic revolted and the Persian Satrap Orontes invaded. In the west, Tari had freed Aeetes from his the King’s binding magicks. Aeetes led a revolt as well.

King Jevaninada met the eastern attack himself at Danar’s River. Tari’s forces used magic to halt the river’s flow while they crossed and collided with the King’s waiting army. Jevaninada may have prevailed, but the war mage, Salzar, used forbidden destructive magic to kill the king and decimate his army. The Xorian loyalists lost the battle and Jevaninada’s body was taken by the rebels.

Queen Anajakaze ruled on in King Jevaninada’s stead, only recently pregnant with their first child after over a decade of marriage. Jevaninada’s spirit slept fitfully, but when resurrection was attempted upon his ransomed body he chose to remain in the afterlife rather than return to lead his country through the war. Queen Anajakaze’s regency for her unborn son would continue until her death twenty years later.

-GoCorral

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Poster

My wife and I went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 hoping for a fun comedy with elements of romance. Instead we got a romance with a few jokes.

I saw the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding with my mom when I was about ten years old. I don’t remember much about it, but I do recall not liking it.

Not surprising, why would ten year old me like a romance movie? There were a lot of things I didn’t like when I was ten that I enjoy now.

If you’ve seen the trailer then you already know the movie is about Toula rekindling her romance with Ian while her daughter is getting ready to leave for college. Additionally, Toula’s parents discover that their priest never signed their original wedding license so they are not officially married. Hijinks ensue as the wedding is planned and the family’s exaggerated Greek culture clashes with traditional American values.

Is it a comedy? Is it a romance? Is it a drama? The trailer certainly presents it as a comedy.

Unfortunately, the trailer was designed to trick you. The movie is definitely a romance. There aren’t many jokes in the actual movie that weren’t present in the movie.

Even worse, the trailer edited the punchlines with better comedic timing and music. Many of the jokes in the trailer fall flat in the movie because of poor timing that the editor should have corrected.

The drama element of the movie is… dull and predictable. Gus, the grandpa, doesn’t want to propose again to the grandma, Maria, because he thinks his first proposal was good enough. She stops being his housewife and doing all his chores until he finally gives her a lackluster proposal while being hauled away in a stretcher to an ambulance (his hip broke or something).

There’s also some stuff about Toula not wanting her daughter to leave Illinois for college. Surprise! The daughter decides to leave and Toula decides to support her decision.

You weren’t really surprised were you? Neither was I.

Fortunately, the romance of the movie was spot on. There’s a few tear-jerker elements and the weak jokes spice up the romance enough to make it interesting.

Greek Wedding 2 isn’t a homerun romance movie like The Notebook or anything else made by Nicholas Sparks, but it was decent. My wife and I felt closer after seeing parts of our happy relationship paralleled on the big screen.

Greek Wedding 2 had dozens of callbacks to the first movie that neither my wife nor I recognized. I’m sure that someone who enjoyed the original movie would like those parts of the sequel as well.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that I’m recommending this movie to people that liked the original. My faint memory of the first movie tells me that the second is a lot like it in many respects. You get to see how the characters have aged and grown and hear all your favorite jokes told in different ways.

The best part, you get to see Gus and some of his grandkids explain how every word in the world has a Greek origin. As a grecophile myself, I loved this running joke.

-GoCorral

Cimmerian Timeline Part 2

Previous: Cimmerian Timeline Part 1

Composing the Cimmerian Timeline has an issue that if I do it chronologically I risk missing events that I put into various cities’ backgrounds and later forgot. I’ll do my best to get everything as it comes up chronologically. Inevitably I will make mistakes and need to include events that are in a period of time that I already covered. I’ll just note that in each update that requires it and edit the complete timeline on the menu bar at the top of the site.

1150BCE: The Olympians held a convocation. The Trojan War devastated the greatest heroes of Greece and now the oldest survivors had died. The gods wished to continue their philandering and fun, but the Fates decreed that no such business would occur in Greece. A decision was made to head east, to the land of the Goblins.

The Goblins had a pantheon of their own which the Olympians had to combat with before their rule of Cimmeria could be secure. The Olympians created many new mortal servants to war against the Goblins while the Olympians engaged the Goblin gods themselves. These new mortals organized themselves into a governmental body known as the Conclave. Humans, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, Halflings, and other races of Cimmeria all worked together in the Conclave.

1149BCE: Threatened as they were, the Goblin pantheon called upon a most terrible weapon, the Phoenix. The Olympians battled with the Phoenix. They defeated the great bird but found that it arose anew from the ashes, stronger than it was before.

1147BCE: After many attempts to destroy the Phoenix, the Olympians turned to their mortal allies. They gave the mortals access to powerful magic and combat techniques in the hope that with their combined force they could vanquish the Phoenix for good.

1146BCE: The health of King Aeëtes of Colchis began to fail without his daughter Medea’s magic. He started feverishly studying to reclaim the arts she once used to extend their lifetimes.

1140BCE: Years of planning allowed the mortals, led by the sorcerer Sadroston, to defeat the Phoenix. A city named after the bird was built upon its ashes. This was the first Olympian city in Cimmeria.

1139BCE: The war with the Goblins and the Goblin pantheon continued. King Aeëtes mastered the unruly magic of the Olympians to immortalize himself. Hades was furious that a subject escaped entrance to his realm. The God of the Underworld began preparations to reclaim the old Aeëtes’s soul.

1118BCE: The war raged on. The Conclave pushed the Goblins out of Western Cimmeria and founded the city of Nox as a center for people living in the west.

1113BCE: Tensions rose between the Dwarves and the Humans over how to coordinate the actions of Phoenix, Nox, and smaller population centers against the Goblins.

1102BCE: Karnafaust, First High King of the Dwarves, stormed off with his army after a disagreement with the Human leader, Drolofo. Karnafaust struck into Goblin territory in Eastern Cimmeria, stopping only when he reached the Black River.

1101BCE: Karnafaust founded the city of Fangaroot upon the Black Mirror Lake. He declared an independent Dwarven state from the Conclave of Humans, Elves, Halflings, and Orcs.

-GoCorral

Next: Cimmerian Timeline Part 3