Ooze and claws and skin, oh my!

We pick up our story as our heroes continue to explore the tower in Fellcrest.  After defeating the undead hounds, our heroes go deeper under the tower.  The light from the rooms above fade as they dive deeper to discover the source of the tower’s undead.  They reach a room that has a raised platform that traveled over a shallow pool.  The pool got deeper as they went further into the room.  They didn’t get very far when the party was accosted by 3 sodden ghouls.  The ghouls slithered up to the party and slashed at them with their long claws.  As the party was beating back the ghouls, a specter appeared in their midst, chilling anyone near.  The party managed to beat back the ghouls but had to return outside to rest and recuperate.

After resting and returning to the dungeon the party made their way back through the water room.  They discovered an ornate fountain at the far end of the room.  Unfortunately Hesikiah was so enamored by its beauty he didn’t notice the weak spot in the walkway.  He plunged into the cold murky water and (due to his heavy armor) started to sink.  Quick thinking Kava tied a rope to one of his axes and sunk a line down to Hesikiah.  The party pulled him to safety.

The party entered a long hallway with three doors; the closest one to the left, another further down to the right and the third at the far end of the hall.  They decided to enter the door to the left first.  They found themselves in an undead aviary with rotting buzzard-like creatures, flying flaps of skin and even a swarm of zombiefied needle drakes.  The buzzards slashed at the heroes’ faces, blinding them.  The skin kites darted in and out, slashing the heroes with their claws and then wrapped themselves around the heroes’ faces, blinding and biting at them.  Kava, with blood stinging his eyes made heroic attacks, killing enemies while blind.  After finding half of a circular key, our battered heroes decided to lock themselves in the aviary to rest for the night.

During the evening a couple of hungry oozes lurked into the hallway and gave them rude awaking.  Kane was able to lock down an ooze while Kava and Sarge beat down on the other.  Even after the oozes split in two the party was still able to dispatch them fairly quickly.

The party then ventured into the room on the other side of the hall.  They discovered a room full of holding cells… and a very large gelatinous cube.  The cube instantly sucked in Kava and Sarge and started to digest them.  Hesikiah and Kane tried to save them but they were attacked by swarms of crawling claws.  Sarge and Kava tried to slice and beat the cube from the inside and were able to damage it but not able to subdue it.  Kava fell unconscious more then once and only recovered himself by sheer force of will.  Nearly dead, the wizard and cleric were able to overcome the claws, Sarge was able to wrestle him self free, and the party finally managed to bring down the cube and free Kava from the acid.  As they were licking their wounds, the party found a very nice robe for Kane.

This dungeon is proving a difficult challenge for our heroes but with the mirror still urging on, the heroes feel compelled to continue on.

Goes good with turkey

It is once again time for the Sage Valley Voices spring performance.  It will once again be at the Oliver United Church.  There are two performances.  The first is Saturday, May 2nd at 7:00pm and the second is Sunday, May 3rd at 2:30pm.  Admission is $5.00 at the door with proceeds going to support local non-profit organizations.  Our special guest this spring is the Naramata Choir.

The title of this concert is ‘A Sentimental Journey’ and it features songs from the 40’s and 50’s.  If you were at the concert last spring you will recognize some of the tunes but there will be many new ones.  As always, we will all be decked out in period attire.  I am going for a 50’s greaser look (which might be a challenge.  How do you slick back no hair?)

It is a fun show put on by people who just like to sing.  If you have nothing going on, swing on down to Oliver and check it out.  There are some fantastic places to eat there and their movie theater is top notch.  For more information on the Sage Valley Voices please feel free to check out the Oliver Arts Council website (http://oliverartscouncil.org/).  They have a little feature about the choir.  Please feel free to post comments below (and after the show, post your reviews!).

Smile for the crazy sound wave camera

 

Everyone loves baby pictures and now it is my turn to show some off.  Tamara had her first ultra-sound yesterday.  It was a very cool experience.  The photos I have in the article are scans of the photos they printed for us so the quality isn’t great.  Also, it is like trying to shoot a moving object with a digital camera.  There is a slight delay so you could see everything a lot better on the monitor.

The experience was very cool.  It helps make it all much more real.  Hearing the heartbeat about a month ago was the first real sign we had something going on.  I mean the tests tell you but the heartbeat is pretty much proof.  This just added to it.  There is really something going on inside there.  The one thing that just didn’t occur to me before the ultra-sound is that we saw it move.  I guess because I am used to seeing pictures of ultra-sounds it never occurred to me that we could see it move.  We did and that was just very cool.  The little baby was just squirming around.  They say Tamara should be able to feel it within a few weeks.  I think that may blow her mind.

They are going to schedule another ultra-sound around 18-20 weeks.  This one was at 15 weeks, 4 days.  I have coffee with a lady who is an ultra-sound tech and she says that your best pictures start at about 18 weeks.  For now you will have to look at these grainy blobs which I promise really are pictures of a baby in my wife’s belly and not that alien I keep in a jar under my bed to offer as a peace trade when Zarcon returns from the Zeeboo galaxy to reclaim the human race.  But I digress.  Leave you comments about babies (and aliens if you like).

Please note there are two of each picture.  There is the origianl and a copy where I highlighted the important bits.

facecopy-of-facehandcopy-of-handfull-bodycopy-of-full-bodyfootcopy-of-foot

Top 5 reasons why I prefer the Xbox 360 vs. Playstation 3

5.  First Person Shooter control.
I think this one may be more a personal preference but hey, it is my blog.  I really had a hard time getting a feel for the first person shooter on the PS3.  I found I felt lost without a proper trigger button.  I would have to say that a FPS feels better when using a 360 controller.

4.  Menu Interface
I really like the new Xbox interface.  It is simple and modern.  In true Microsoft fashion it kind of feels like flipping through album covers in iTunes but even if it is ripped off it still works.  I do development work using a DOS-like system from the 80’s and I felt a little lost in the Playstation menus.  It just didn’t pop.

3.  Load Times
This is something that I think comes from the blu-ray discs.  They produce great picture but they seem to have a bit of an issue with load time.  This is something I have noticed even when using a stand alone blu-ray player.  Anyway load times suck and the PS3 seems to have a lot of them.

2.  Online Market Place
I have to say Microsoft does this very well.  I can go in, see what is new and fresh and grab what I want quickly.  Here is what ticked me off with the PS3.  I wanted to grab a demo of an arcade game.  Arcade games are shorter games that you can just download.  I could not find a trial arcade game.  I spent about 5 minutes looking and could not find them.  I just didn’t want to waste any more time on it.  The layout just wasn’t very user friendly.

1.  Installing
This was the hugest pain point for me.  After not finding an arcade game to download I did find a demo for a new game.  First the download was very slow but that can happen.  I chalked it up to a large download and maybe the internet was slower that day.  So after the lengthy download of a game that I obviously wanted to play, I had to spend another 10 minutes installing it!  It did not install automatically!  Why wouldn’t I want to install something that I just spent the time looking for and downloading!  That just blew me away.  Roadblock to game-play are just plain dumb.

In the spirit of full disclosure I only own an Xbox 360 and was using the Playstation 3 at my brother-in-laws place. I also have to say that I was a big fan of the first 2 playstation systems.  I also think that there are good things about the PS3 but I do not think they justify the cost of the system until things are improved.  The other argument that PS2 owners have is that they don’t pay for their online service.  I have to say that I am willing to pay if I get a superior product and in this case I find it vastly superior.  I have also experienced the hardware faults that have plagued the 360s.  I had a new, functional 360 back in my home inside of a week.  Frankly I don’t care if it breaks if I am without my system for less than a week.  It was hands down the best warranty experience I have ever had.

Let the debate begin!  Post your comments here.

Streams of glory

Last night marked the inaugural delve night featuring players at the table and players joining via the internet.  Personally I think it went quite well.  As stated in my previous post we used Skype for voice communication and ustream to broadcast the video.  The only real technical issue was that ustream has about a 3 second delay from live so when asking where a player wanted to move it sometimes took a little longer to figure out.  I don’t think it really took much away from the flow of the game but it is something to be aware of if you plan to do something like this.  The audio was crisp and clear over Skype.  Skype lets you connect up to 24 people in one conference which is more than enough for any reasonable D&D game.  All in all from a technical stand-point everything went very well.  The only other glitch had to do with spectators.  With using ustream it gave us the opportunity for anyone who wanted to watch to log in and observe.  The problem is when we turned on the audio we got feedback.  We didn’t have time to play around and try to correct it but in the future I hope to be able to do something so that others who just want to watch can check it out.

From a gaming perspective I would have to rate the whole thing as a 7 or 8.  The players did great.  We had a few first time players and they were great.  They picked it up very fast.  I added complexity by making them 10th level and they still rolled with it like pros.  Great job.  We did have one glitch were one of our players didn’t have a character rolled up.  There was a bit of a communication breakdown and we thought he had one but in the end we had to roll his character up while we were playing the first encounter.  Not a big deal but the party was down a player and there was a lot of non-game related chatter that had to go on.  The second thing that distracted was the fact we had two leaders and a paladin.  There was so much healing power I didn’t know what to do with it.  On top of that both paladins and clerics use radiant power.  They mowed through the undead a barbarian through kobolds.  The encounter ended up being a bit too easy.  The last problem was with the enemy from the second encounter.  It was a vampire with regeneration and some other skills for gaining hit points.  Unfortunately most of his powers required combat advantage (i.e. he needs an ally to flank his target) and the party killed off his allies quite quickly.  He also was very hard to hit but wasn’t great at hitting the players.  So basically they spent about half the encounter fighting one enemy and both sides were missing most of the time.  It wasn’t the best scenario.  Again this wasn’t my own encounter, it was one I used from the book.  I also like encounters that have interesting terrain and this one didn’t have very much.

So to sum up from a technically stand-point I would give it a 9.0 and from a game play stand point I would give it a 7.5 (which was no fault of the players.  They were great).  This is defiantly something I would like to do again.  If this is something you might be interested in trying out let me know.  I will put you on the list for the next one.

Here is a quick rundown of what the party did:

The party, which consisted of a Dragonborn paladin, an Elardrin Wizard, a Halfling Warlord, An Elf Cleric and a Teifling Warlock, were hired by a town to rid them of a local vampire lord.  They descended into the tomb of the lord and encountered a bunch of vampire worshiping cultist and their three stone snakes.  The cultist fell quickly under the power of the party but the snakes managed to poison and blind the party (particularly the Paladin).  Through sheer force they smashed the stone snakes and ran deeper into the tomb.

They then encountered a room of vampires and two huge zombie brutes.  Most of the vampires were young and weak but the party had to face the vampire lord Nexull.  The party thought they had dealt with the zombies but after falling over they managed to get back to their feet and keep on fighting.  Nexull danced around the party with his spiked chain and even charmed the Paladin to swing at his allies.  After using magic to slow him down and relentless attacks to drain his hit points, the party defeated the vampire lord.  Unfortunately there are more doors to this dungeon.  Perhaps one day the heroes may return to find out what lies beyond them.

Delve night v0.9 (beta)

So tonight I am mixing technology and roleplaying.  I am hosing a D&D session (like I do most Tuesdays) but today we are mixing in some folks from out of town via the internet.  I am using two technologies.  First I am broadcasting the game via ustream.tv.  This way the remote players can see the board.  We are then communicating over Skype (skype.com).  There will be three of us at the table, one guy in Calgary and another on Powel River.  There were supposed to be a few more from Nova Scotia but we lost contact with them.

The other interesting thing is that because I am using ustream, anyone can log in and watch!  Just go to http://www.ustream.tv and search for nimrod108.  There should only be one show going on.  There is one problem.  There may not be any audio via ustream as it caused feedback when using it with Skype.  I will work on the issue and try to resolve it.  Otherwise we can apparently have up to 24 people in one Skype channel so if you are interested in hearing what is going on then just send me an email or post a comment and I will try to accommodate.  I may have to kick people off if too many people means a significant drop in sound or video quality.

I will also post about how it went after the fact.  For those of you who like to know these things I will be running them through the 10th level delve from the Dungeon Delve book.  There are some first timers as well so it could be interesting.  Also note that because this is one shot delve you will not see any of the familiar characters that I normally post about. (Ok lets be real, no one could name a single one anyway.  But I still dream…).  The game should start around 18:00 Pacific Time.  Wish me luck!

Chicken parmesan with roasted broccoli and asiago cheese

First off I have to give some major credit to a friend of mine Dwayne.  He gave me the recipe fo for the broccoli and it was amazing.  Thanks Dwayne.

Chicken parmesan (yield 4)

4          large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1cup    fine bread crumbs
1          large egg
2tbsp   milk
8-10     slices of mozzarella cheese
1can    pizza sause
1/2cup grated parmesan cheese
            olive oil
            salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.  In an medium bowl, beat egg and milk together until well blended.  Dump the bread crumbs into another bowl an lightly season them with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken breast in the egg mix and then into dredge them in the bread crumbs.  Be sure to cover the chicken well.  Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Brown the breaded chicken breasts (about 2-3 minutes per side) and then place them in a baking pan.  Place the mozzarella cheese on the chicken breasts (about 2-3 slices per breast should do).  Cover each breast with about 2 tbsp of pizza sauce.  Sprinkle the chicken with the parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and lets stand for 2 minutes before serving.

roasted broccoli and asiago cheese

1          large broccoli crown
4tbsp   olive oil
1cup    grated asiago cheese
            salt & pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425.  Rinse and cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces.  Dry the broccoli.  Put in a bowl and toss with olive oil.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Spread the broccoli on a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 25 minutes.  The broccoli should start to have a few little brown areas on it.  Remove broccoli and return it to the bowl where you tossed it with olive oil.  Add the asiago cheese and toss until the cheese melts over the broccoli.  Serve with the chicken.

I also usually make this with an alfredo pasta but you could do roast potatoes or rice with it as well.  I hope you enjoy this.