Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cure Light Wounds spells will feel a little colder after this day...

I remember being twelve years old when a couple of older kids invited me to play Dungeons and Dragons one afternoon. I created an ineffectual elf that was both overwhelmed and awed by the other, more experienced and more powerful player. This fighter, fresh from the mind of a smug fourteen year old, rode into the dungeon on a war horse and was equipped with weapons and armour that far outstripped mine. I was assaulted, taunted, robbed and left unconscious in a room with only 1 Hit Point - a mercy bequeathed upon me presumably so that I might be used as fodder again on the next rainy day.

That was enough however, I was hooked for life.

I borrowed the two flimsy soft cover books that comprised the game at that time and over the course of a week I transcribed all the rules and tables into a series of blank notebooks. I knew that I would never get the money to buy these tomes from my parents, who as expected did not understand or condone the past-time for the duration of my teenage years. I then went on to make my first dungeon; an ogre-infested subterranean fortification that housed The Father Diamond, a jewel of obvious great wealth. The next time the three of us got together for a game I offered to run it, to play Dungeon Master.

Throughout my school years I played this most unpopular of games and from it stemmed parallel interests in reading, writing, ancient history, archaeology, mythology, religion and eventually politics. The game was a gateway to other avenues of study and in learning about real world events and culture one’s game and characters became more authentic and believable.

Since then I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons or other types of role-playing games right up to this very day. The game I’m currently running has been the longest and most involving story I’ve ever done with a great group of players. The game changes dramatically when being played by adults. When young the game is merely another form of competition but as you get older it mellows into a cooperative experience. Despite HD television and photo-realistic video games Dungeons & Dragons remains an excellent way to spend some time with friends. It provides a unique communal experience; an exercise of the brain, an expansion of the imagination, and the simple comfort of a kitchen table or fireside gathering. For all the good times had on Thursday nights lo’ these past years, we owe one man in particular a debt of gratitude.

E. Gary Gygax; The Original Dungeon Master, dies at 69.

The talented artists of the Penny Arcade comic strip drew up a fitting tribute to mark the passing of The Great Gygax. Do hit the hypertext and read Tycho’s impression of the game and its infernal codexes. It is a far grander thing then anything I could hope to write!

To celebrate the life of this most unique and nerdilicious of men all Wizards of 17th level or higher are invited to my house where we shall break our Staves of Power in unison. The simultaneous Retributive Strike will be seen for miles around and is sure to be perceptible in both the Astral and Ethereal Planes! In truth however I believe Gary’s death to be a ruse, a hoax to prevent the zero levellers from disbelieveing. No doubt the very creator of the Tomb of Horrors has long had his phylactery prepared and will rise as a Lich upon the next full moon. His reign of terror on low level players will continue throughout time, as it should. New “4th Edition” rulebooks will be out in June and of course I will not be able to resist buying them. When I eventually make a new game with the upcoming rules you can be sure that ‘Gygax’ will make an appearance as some godly game-smith, a trickster deity of the bizarrely beautiful.

To those who have never played D&D I was trying to be funny in the above paragraph, please disregard.

X-Boxes turning a profit for the first time ever…

In other gaming news it seems that the X-Box has become profitable for the first time in seven years. The original X-box cost the company over four billion dollars but they knew a price would have to be paid in order to shoulder their way into the market. While they have stopped losing money per unit this doesn’t take into account the 1.5 billion dollar extended warranty program they had to enact in order to prevent a recall on their chronically overheating machines. Time will tell if the X-Box 360 will actually turn out to be profitable in the end. This years gaming line-up seems not as strong as 2007 and with Blu-Ray being the dominant technology the 360 will no longer be on the leading edge. Some video game enthusiast sites are already predicting that we will see yet another Microsoft games console before the decade is up. I could live with that.

What this article doesn’t comment on is that smashing psychotic hobos with lead pipes and sledgehammers is a ton of fun. I’m replaying Condemned: Criminal Origins on my X-Box in hot anticipation of the sequel coming out next week. I was worried that the second chapter would not be as good as the original sleeper hit until I recently downloaded the game trailer. It shows a pig-faced man getting bludgeoned with a prosthetic arm that ends in a hook! Oh joy, high art indeed! This corrupter of society is coming to both the PS3 and the 360 so stay tuned!

The Douchebag and the Prince

Here’s some news that’s only slightly more fitting for a supposedly grown man to chew over. Prince Harry, third in line to the throne of England - Long Be His Reign - has set his sights on a military career and wanted as little special treatment as possible in this regard, including being posted with his unit in sunny Afghanistan. In a surprising turn of character the British press agreed to an embargo on the topic thus keeping Harry’s whereabouts a secret. A couple small European news outlets reported it but nobody managed to notice, not until conservative Internet giant douchebag Matt Drudge let his 20 some-odd million readers in on the operation. Hours later the British government announced that Harry would be returning immediately, his safety no longer assured.

Okay, first of all, Matt Drudge, in case you haven’t already sussed out my opinion of you, you are in fact a giant fucking douchebag. Actually you know what? Douchebag isn’t a sufficient descriptor because ‘bag’ denotes a limited or set amount of material within, and your douchbaggery is more like a constant stream, so I’ll amend my characterisation of your personality and from this point on refer to you as a fucking douchenozzle.

What kind of a douchenozzle messes with a young guy’s career and endangers his life just to get some hits on their already popular website? As a news item this piece is worthless. We the reader simply go: “Oh really,” before moving on with a click of the mouse. It doesn’t educate us in any way. In order to give us less than a second of amusement you ruin a kid’s deployment. Fuck you and your bullshit “Support Our Troops” flag-waving.

The only people who really care that Harry is in Afghanistan are his family and assholes who think killing the prince would score points for their side, so nice going, you intelligence gathering service for terrorists! As I see it the only good to come out of this is that now the empire of Great Britain hates your douche-pumping guts. You can’t go there anymore which is too bad, because the mushy peas are bloody excellent. I dearly hope that young Prince Harry uses the power and influence of the monarchy to exact some righteous vengeance on your pillow-biting ass.

Since this story has been reported you have no comment to make which I see as typical, you cowardly, douchenozzley worm.

Victor of Iraqi Freedom Arrives to Fanfare and Applause

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad visited Iraq in full state panoply, publicly announcing his trip and travelling outside the fortified Green Zone. President Bush, eat your heart out! While there Mahmoud got kissy-face with the leaders of the hour - as is the fashion - and reminded Americans that they are not liked.

Iran and Iraq do about eight billion a year in trade and as time goes by this is sure to increase what with war-torn Iraq needing, well everything. As it does so too will Iranian influence, importing cultures and values through mercantilism is as old as time. Strip searching and home invasions, not so much. Poor, poor America! There’s a number that’s making the rounds this week, it’s a big number, a number that describes Operation Iraqi Freedom’s price tag: THREE TRILLION DOLLARS. But who needs affordable health care, right?

Did Chavez get caught with his hands in the terrorist cookie jar?

A Columbian operation to kill a Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia leader holed up in Equator got Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez hopping mad! Chavez has vocally supported the leftist F.A.R.C. in the past but oh-ho what do we have here? Evidence on the rebel leader’s laptop indicates that Chavez supported them to the tune of 300 million dollars. Sloppy Hugo, very sloppy. Most regional powers fund rebel organisations whose ideology line up with their own but no one wants to be caught doing it. Destabilization and attrition policies are a dirty part of power government. This and the bellicosity Chavez is displaying, not to mention the tank positions on the border, comes off like an admission of guilt. Let’s hope Hugo’s bruised ego doesn’t plunge Venezuela into a war, they would be fighting American proxies and playing into their hands. I liked the old Chavez better. The Chavez that emerged after his failed referendum is a bit too much of a blowhard. I want less Soviet jet dick-waving, more red-hot and spicy Chavizmo!

Mini-Put Sweeps Russian Elections!

Who knew? Putin’s appointed protégé pwned the Presidential elections and he did it without a fourteen month primary! Putin himself will claim the Prime Minister’s seat and continue ruling Russia in all but name. That these two would come into conflict, be it foreign or domestic policy is highly unlikely.

So what’s better or worse in the long run? I can’t tell anymore. I made a point not to follow the American Primaries anymore than reading front page headlines because I knew that fatigue would set in. This shit seems endless at this point, it's nothing but non-scandal after non-scandal. Obama and Clinton are still fighting, meanwhile John McCain can now start actually campaigning for the Presidency instead of campaigning for the chance to campaign for the Presidency. That one sentence sums up the past few months in American politics and it STILL made me weary to type it. Does all this mean the people of America will have a better government? Remember this is the same mechanism that picked You Know Who! What if the Democratic nomination is ultimately decided by the super-delegates? What of democracy then? Our U.S. brother and sisters will merely be voting for the person that was picked for them to vote for. I mean who fucking cares at that point?

Russia took care of their freedoms in their typical cold-blooded way but now everyone is on the same page, lock-stepping in unity and they can continue with the business of returning to the Superpower Superfriends Club. Meanwhile the U.S. dithers, drunk on their own pageantry. I wish I could act all smug and superior (as we Canadians love to do) but our issues are just as bad only the opposite.

Our government has election-aversion, at least that pussy Dion does. Who cares if you're unelectable, show us some bloody principles and stand up for what you believe! That's the Catch 22 of this: Dion is unelectable because he lacks all fibre of leadership. In order to look like a leader you have to stand up in opposition and show that you're not afraid to call an election you might not win. That's takes balls, leadership balls, and people will see it. But if you don't take that first step and instead let Harper intimidate you then the cycle continues and you become more and more unelectable. The first step in not being a loser is not being afraid to lose. Meh! Feh! Sneh! What more could you expect from the guy who initially placed third at the Liberal caucus.

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