Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates Dead Men Tell No Tales

The next in a series of some of my favorite movies, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. What a mouthful.

It’s impossible to think about the new Pirates movie without comparing it to the previous ones. Does it have the novelty of Pirates 1? Does it have the thrilling action sequences of Pirates 2 and 3? Did it feel a little off like Pirates 4?

Good news! Pirates 5 feels most like a return to the characters and plot of Pirates 1 to me with bits of Pirates 2 thrown in. This will probably be good news to most of the long-time fans of the series.

Jack is once again being hunted by a monstrous force from the uncharted waters of the ocean. This time instead of a ship of dead fish people, its a ship of dead ghost people led by ghost Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Continue reading

Characters of Cimmeria: Jovy

One of the purposes of this writing is to connect the stories of the mythical heroes in my campaign world. Cecilia’s story connects to Jovy’s because they both had adventures in the Caspian Sea. Thus, I’m also going to repeat verbatim a few of the paragraphs from Cecilia’s story in Jovy’s. No apologies!

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Jovy followed the guidance of Hermes to become the first captain to sail the Caspian Sea. Hermes gifted Jovy with the first double masted frigate capable of tacking against the wind. Jovy along with his friend and companion, Cecilia, rid the Caspian of monsters making it safe for other voyagers. Jovy declared himself King of the Caspian, exacting tribute from coastal settlements and pillaging those that did not comply with his demands. He named and colonized Those Blasted Islands in the sea and fought to protect the colonies during the Dragon War. He imprisoned the gold dragons. When Jovy retired he beached the Mira Miro at the mouth of the Aractrash River to found the city of Lordodo. Jovy joined the other heroes of the Dragon War in their slumber beneath the earth, awaiting the destruction of the Orbs of Dragonkind and the return of the dragons.

Jovy was born to a group of farmers living in the area around what is now Jipangu. Jovy was a rebellious child, often shirking his duties to swim in the river, whittle toys out of wood, or steal eggs from the hen house. His father arranged an early marriage for Jovy, hoping that the responsibility of a wife and family would straighten Jovy out. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. Jovy skipped town the night before the wedding.

He journeyed west to the Caspian and then south following the shore. Along the way Jovy earned money by working odd jobs or more often by stealing. By the time he reached the sea he had himself a nice pair of clothes along with a good set of armor and matching sabers. Jovy found that his natural charm and his wanderer’s mystique attracted many of the young women in the villages he passed through who were bored of their provincial lives just like he once was. In addition to leaving a trail of theft and robberies, Jovy also left a trail of broken hearts and pregnant teenagers.

Throughout his journey, Jovy made offerings to the patron god of thieves and vagabonds, Hermes. Joy saw his life as a dark place with only toil ahead, but for the grace of Hermes who led him towards a full and joyous life. Jovy often spoke to Hermes and as he went south towards the Aractrash River, Hermes spoke back to him. The god of travel told Jovy, “When you reach the Aractrash River chop down the five largest trees. Use the wood of these trees to build a large bowl, as big as a room. Then get the bowl into the river. Do this and I will turn the your life’s fate from woolen thread to cloth of gold.”

Jovy followed Hermes’ command. When he reached the River he located the five largest trees and cut them down with an axe he’d pilfered from a farmer’s woodpile. He bought a saw with stolen gold to make planks out of logs. He boiled water in a large soup pot and painstakingly bent the logs, inch by inch. Jovy nailed them together to make the largest bowl he had ever seen, rounded with a rough bottom. Undoubtedly any soup the gods wished to drink from it would leak out the sides, but Jovy had done it! Hermes’ bowl was completed.

Jovy strained and pushed to get the bowl into the river. He pushed, he pulled, he tied a rope around it and put his back into it. Nothing worked. Then a woman showed up wearing fish scales for armor with a golden sword slung at her hip. She introduced herself as Cecilia the daughter of Zeus and asked his name. Jovy said, “Me name is Jovy. Apollo told me to build this here bowl and put it in tha’ river. He promised a reward. Perhaps iffen you help me we can share it.” Cecilia shrugged and shoved the bowl into the water with a single push.

The bowl splashed into the jungle water and began to grow. It lengthened and tapered at the ends, forming a streamlined structure. Huge poles grew out of the bottom rising up into the sky. Wooden slats protruded from the internal sides and then joined together to make two decks. Ropes and sails appeared from nowhere to fill out the rigging of the ship. An anchor and chain grew out of a whorl on the wooden side. Lastly, the steering wheel slowly rose from the upper deck at the rear of the ship. Floating on the river before Jovy and Cecilia was the first sailing ship complete with two masts, a forward boom for a jib and almost a dozen sails. A crew of sailors stood at attention on deck, summoned by the same magic that created the ship.

“Are you to take that into sea against the monsters? asked Cecilia.

“Aye lassy, and I’ve a mind for you to come along too iffen you be willing,” said Jovy.

“An adventure on the open water? I’d like that.”

Jovy named the vessel the Mira Miro and he took his place at the steering wheel as Captain. Cecilia joined him, wearing her fish scale armor with her golden sword always at the ready. After sacrificing a bull to Poseidon, Jovy’s command set the sailors to work taking the Mira Miro downriver. Fresh water turned to salt as they reached the Caspian Sea. Almost immediately something rocked the ship. A great tentacle rose out of the depths and attempted to drag the ship down into the water. Cecilia called out her father’s name and jumped into the water with sword in hand. Her fish scale armor allowed Cecilia to swim through the water with ease and breath it as well. She sliced off the monster’s tentacle with her golden sword, then followed the beast into the deep as it retreated. She slew it and reemerged with a giant octopus eye to document her achievement. Jovy congratulated Zeus’s daughter before setting sail once more.

The heroic duo traveled across the width and breadth of the Caspian, slaying monsters as they went. Cecilia slew monsters through brute force, but Jovy had more finesse. He tricked monsters into giving him their treasure without a fight. He snuck into their caves and grottos at night to slay them in their sleep. He convinced them he was a god and that they were better off swimming ashore than facing his wrath. Jovy hoped his accomplishments would impress Cecilia and win her heart, but she never looked at him with the doe eyes he had come to recognize in his conquests.

Once while sailing Jovy asked her, “Why ain’t a lass such as yerself married?”

Cecilia said, “I vowed to Zeus that I would give my virginity to no man who could not take it for himself.”

“Aye. I’ve seen ye fight. Twould ‘ave to be a mighty man indeed who can claim yer maidenhood.” And I am not that man, thought Jovy to himself. He gave up any hopes of winning Cecilia. They had passed the time on deck by arm wrestling many times. He had never beaten her.

When the pair had defeated most of the monsters in the Caspian they parted ways. Cecilia returned to her village to make it the first fishing town on the Caspian. Jovy stayed upon the water in the Mira Miro. He traveled across every inch of what he called Those Blasted Islands in the sea. He named each one according to who he thought best suited to live there after exploring them. Jovy went to the Caspian’s rapidly increasing coastal population to gather colonists for Those Blasted Islands. The islands were soon inhabited with Jovy proclaiming himself King of the Caspian.

Jovy took tribute from more than just the colonies on Those Blasted Islands. He also claimed all the towns and villages within 10 miles of the sea as his own (excepting those close to Cecilia). Those who would not submit were pillaged.

Jovy took some time off from sailing and became good friends with the Hill Dwarves of Jord. Some say he was even buried in Jord. Others say he was buried on Jovy Isle where his pleasure mansion once stood.

When the Dragon War started, Jovy joined up along with Cecilia. He imprisoned the gold dragons. When the time came for the heroes of the Dragon War to sleep, Jovy beached his ship at the same location he first made the large bowl for Hermes. The Mira Miro remains there to this day, now serving as the city hall for Lordodo.

To be continued

-GoCorral

Makotako

Makotako

Makotako is the home of the Xorian navy and over 35,000 people. It is an important trade point for ships in the Caspian and is also the only significant opposition to the navy of Lordodo. The Persians also field a navy, but it is woefully underequipped and badly trained. The other possible opponents, Poseidon’s undersea monsters, are few because the Caspian Sea is not connected to his home waters of the Mediterranean and because of Cecilia’s heroic genocide. The only know way for Poseidon’s forces to get to the Caspian without teleportation is to enter the mouth of Charybdis near Sicily and exit out at Jovy’s Spitoon.

Makotako was an independent city until fifty years ago when the Jevaninada I conquered it with his superior land forces. He slowly imposed Xorian law on the public giving them time to adjust and poured money into the local economy by paying for the formation of the navy.

The Xorian navy contains close to one hundred biremes and is commanded by the reformed pirate, Admiral Willis. He still enjoys leading his men into battle, but is unable to do so most of the time due to his administrative responsibilities. In addition to being the commanding officer of the navy Willis is also in charge of the docks and the city at large. Since he must split his duties he will often have a subordinate take over one of his jobs while he focuses on something more crucial in another area.

Makotako’s main export is lumber. The city is right next to the legendary Bigby’s Forest which has an abundance of wood. Bigby’s Forest was created by a magician who lived long ago named, of course, Bigby. He is the wizard who first designed the big hand spells that are commonly used by force specializing magicians today. Apparently the famous wizard had been studying another spell that creates an entire woodland forest out of nothing. His magic still lives on today and regenerates any of the cut down trees within a few weeks. Consequently the forest’s borders have been constantly expanding as the trees are effectively immortal. Some people worry that this growth will eventually consume nearby towns, but that would not happen for at least two centuries, so the problem is ignored.

Makotako has a few farms surrounding it, but not enough to be self-sufficient. It must trade with the rest of Xoria to get the food it needs. Most of the residents of Makotako are either in the navy or work in a shipwright’s shop. Xoria refuses to have just one contract for their ships being built as they want to encourage competition in the city’s main industry. This has indeed lowered the prices of the ships, but also makes how the Xorian biremes are constructed a widely known fact. The weaknesses of the ships are well-known, but Admiral Willis has refused to change the means of construction.

Surprsingly, amid all this industry, a successful apparel and barber shop is run by the Elf, Korias. He designs all the clothing, shoes, and haircuts that the nobility across the Magical Lands wear. His shop is called Korias’ Clothing. It is open to all, but requires five gold pieces for entry to prove that you can, “damn the expense.” Korias has notably refused to become a Dragovinian even though the coveted status was offered to him.

-GoCorral

Lordodo

Lordodo

Lordodo has a population of over 80,000 people and is a mush pot for Aractrashans and Xorians; their starkly different cultures have combined to make a port fit for rowdiness and gambling. Almost all the people here can speak and write several different languages. The port was originally founded by Jovy the first sailor. He received a message from Hermes to build a giant bowl out of wood on the Aractrash River. He did so and was rewarded. The bowl grew until it became a boat with sails, rigging, and fine sailing men, the first carack vessel. Jovy was named captain of the boat and discovered Those Blasted Islands in the Caspian Sea. He invented classic pirate speak.

Jovy sailed to many small settlements around the Caspian Sea and is in a great way responsible for modern sea trade. Near the end of his career Jovy purposely ran his boat aground at the Aractrash River mouth. The magical sailors all disappeared back to Hermes; however, the boat, Mira Miro, stayed. It is now the city hall of Lordodo and the wood has not rotted after all these years.

Lordodo is a province of Aractrash and pays homage to the Aractrashan king. The port has a navy peacekeeping force with Admiral Lucas at its head. He is the legislative and executive head of the city and has the responsibility of stopping crime in the city and judging any criminal cases lower judges find too complicated. Most of the navy sailors under Lucas’s command patrol the streets as well as the seas. The navy has a total of five thousand sailors manning dozens of ships of different sizes.

Lordodo does not have much it produces on its own, but it is the waypoint between the Aractrashan Jungle and the rest of the world. The city does not have any income taxes. The city attains revenue by charging a fee for protecting any caravans, boats, or individuals that travel in and out of its walls. If the city does not receive payment, then it will simply not protect somebody. Word gets out soon to thieves that a particular person hasn’t paid the guards and that person will soon wish they had forked over the entry fee to the city. This practice provides enough funding to pay all the navy troops and to keep the public buildings in good order. Lordodo also serves as a shipbuilding center for the Caspian, exporting well-constructed trade ships to merchants originating from other port cities.

Lordodo has three major guilds that almost everybody worth mentioning is a part of, the Druidic Healing guild, the Navigator’s guild, and the Bounty Hunter’s guild. The Druidic Healing guild is a hospital set up by druids inside the city. It is made out of living wood and has an herbal garden with almost every spell component and potion worthy ingredient imaginable. If someone has a rare disease this would be the place to get it cured. After the destruction of the druid enclave in Semanarie, the Druidic Healing guild of Lordodo is the largest gathering of druids in Cimmeria. The Navigator’s guild is an organization for sailors to get drunk, gamble, and fight without the city watch interfering. The Bounty Hunter’s guild is where you should go if you want somebody killed, but you don’t want the law knowing about it. It is also the only know place outside of Phoenix where anybody can reliably redeem monster parts for cash. The guild maintained an outpost in Phoenix prior to the Xorian invasion where they accepted contracts and paid for monster parts, but they did not accept new members there. The Thieves guild exists as a fourth shadowy presence that provides the pressure to enforce the city’s fee based tax system. The Thieves guild works closely with the guards of the city, but good luck getting them to admit it.

Gambling is prevalent in the city. Rare is an event that goes by that isn’t bet on at all. You can even see sailors betting on how loud their next burps will be in the tavern and winning a small fortune in the process. The largest and most popular casino in Lordodo is called the Hunter’s Best. It has all the usual games plus once a year they will hold a contest to see who can bring back the most of something like Orc’s ears or the biggest Minotaur horns. The entry fee is 50 GP and the prize is the bounty for the amount or size of the things brought in plus 50% of the entry fees. Occasionally the Hunter’s Best holds a tournament at the end of the year with a threshold of bounties to enter.

-GoCorral

Hornblower

When I was a kid my dad and I traveled around in the car together a lot. We’d go to soccer practice or he’d drop me off at a friend’s house.

My family was lucky enough to own a second house about two hours away from our first home. My dad and I would go to the second home on weekends with our dogs and hang out.

On the drive to the second home we’d listen to books on tape in the car. The topics varied a bit. We’d listen to recordings of live storytellers, Greek classical history, mystery novels and a few other things. Our favorite thing to listen to was the Hornblower series by CS Forester.

The Hornblower series is set of adventure novels about a British naval officer named Hornblower who served during the Napoleonic wars. Hornblower’s fictional life is loosely based off of Lord Trafalgar, an English naval hero of the Napoleonic wars.

Hornblower starts off as only a midshipman, but by the end of the series he is a Lord with title and governance over a variety of places.

The Hornblower books are told from a limited third person point of view. The focal character is often not Hornblower, but Lieutenant Bush. Bush is initially Hornblower’s superior officer, but as Hornblower progresses through the ranks he eventually surpasses Bush. Hornblower and Bush become best friends during the series and chance places them together or they always request joint assignments.

In one of the latter Hornblower books, Bush goes off an a separate mission and supposedly dies. My dad and I thought for sure he was only thought to be dead, but as the book progressed it became clear that Bush was gone for good. He never reappeared in the subsequent books either.

As a present for my dad I’ve started writing a few Hornblower chapters for my own book. In my book, Bush survives the explosion that killed him, but went into hiding. He comes out of hiding for Hornblower’s help in a new endeavour.  Since it’s in vogue right now, I decided the new endeavour would be that Napoleon has risen from the dead as a vampire. Bush and Hornblower will team up to take him down!

I’ll most likely be posting a few of the chapters here as they are finished.

-Mister Ed