Meet Moolu Budu: One Bad Goblin Dude

Moolu Budu was left under a Spider Moon which is really just the Goopa Goblin Tribe word for a new moon. According to Goopa tradition, it is on this day of the month that Naydyx, goddess of spiders, and most feared of Goopa dieties, swallows the moon and will only spit it back out if a Goblin child is left as an offering to her in the forest. Even with relatively short goblin gestation periods and their healthy appetite for reproductive practices, this whole ritual would soon result in the extinction of the Goopa if one goblin baby a month was actually lost. Typically the mother comes back within 24 hours, assumes Naydyx wasn’t hungry, gets her baby, and high-tails it out of there. As it turns out, when Moolu Budu’s mother returned to the clearing where they had left him the night before, he wasn’t there. Although not the most empathetic of life forms, goblins are quite emotional. As such, Moolu’s mother nearly slew his father in a tear-filled rage, when he expressed pride that their son had made a fitting meal for Naydyx.

Moolu had actually been discovered by a wizard’s apprentice who was gathering herbs for his master when he nearly stepped on the goblin babe. Being that it was the new moon, the woods were dark and Moolu was swaddled in a hide the goblin’s had stolen from a nearby human village. Naturally, the apprentice mistook the gurgles and coos for those of a human baby, and didn’t discover the truth until he had rushed into his master’s chambers shouting, “I found a baby in the woods!.” The master took one look at Moolu’s disgustingly twisted visage adorable, green face and bade Farlane dispose of the babe at once. Needless to say, Farlane could not bring himself to do it and raised Moolu secretly in the wilderness, with the help of an elderly monk friend who lived alone in the forest. Farlane and the Monk taught Moolu to read and his interests were steered towards survival and wilderness skills. He learned the skills of the ranger and had plenty of practice moving silently as he avoided human and goblin patrols alike. Recently, Moolu was captured by a party of goblins “recruiting” for the war effort against the hordes of Toxisa, a green dragon. Normally very careful in the forest, Moolu’s curiosity about his origins finally got the better of him as he approached the goblin war party in an effort to establish a connection with his own kind.

Moolu’s strengths include stealth and wilderness knowledge. He has a basic understanding of magic as was related by the apprentice who found him, but cannot cast magic himself. He also is extremely adept at dual wielding his trusty rapier and short sword, gifts from his teacher, the mysterious elderly monk who shared his humble home with Moolu for 16 years until the day he was captured.

Stark Dawson: Zombie Slayer

My wife and I both love watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, and apparently we’re not alone since last Sunday it led the nation in ratings with over 11 million viewers.  The show led me to search for a zombie apocalypse themed pen and paper RPG and what I found was Outbreak: Undead which has been available since 2010.  If you want a detailed review of the handbook and game mechanics check out the article from Gnomestew.  This popular TV show and somewhat less popular RPG along with some carefully placed whip blows from our almighty Goblinbeat overseer  inspired the background for Stark Dawson, zombie slayer extraordinaire.  Aside from Outbreak: Undead, Stark could be easily integrated into a zombie themed Dungeons and Dragons or Savage Worlds System.

Stark had a truly deranged childhood as he was born in the midst of a zombie outbreak that took over an entire island continent that was evacuated and quarantined.  Certain factions have succeeded in controlling the advance of these zombies to other regions of the world, but there has been no success in ending zombie domination of the island.  He had the distinct privilege to be born into a tiny community of humans that were not allowed to evacuate, but somehow survived years of zombie onslaught.  Stark never got the chance to know his father who died getting Stark’s mom to safety as she was in labor with him.  So, it was with the help of a protective older brother and an emotionally broken mother, that Dawson learned to survive under the most hellacious circumstances.  Their small band didn’t dare attempt to leave the island since any vessels seen leaving the island after evacuation were destroyed on sight for fear of spreading the infection.  When he was 15, his group decided to attempt escape in the hopes that the island was no longer being watched.  However, once the tide had taken his party out into the sea, an explosion rocked the makeshift vessel.  Stark saw his mother’s flesh peel from her bones as the heat from the blast struck her.  He jumped overboard and after struggling to stay afloat on a piece of wreckage for three storm-racked days was picked up by a wary but kindhearted fishing boat captain 200 miles away.  Now that he is off the island he wants to find out who is responsible for the zombie infection as well as his mother’s death.  He wonders if his brother survived but seriously doubts it.  Anger and thoughts of vengeance fill his ever-waking moment.

Since he’s always had to get by without access to manufactured goods, Stark can be extremely resourceful, from making his own ammunition and repairing weaponry to hunting/snaring game and foraging.  He also is adept at melee combat against multiple opponents, not taking normal minuses for being flanked, and he has an amazing knack for obtaining advantageous positioning across a variety of terrain. Mr. Dawson can be extremely cold and deadly, rarely hesitating to dispose of a threat; however this makes it difficult for him to connect with others outside of a combat situation.  He has been a loner for many months and trusting others is very difficult for him.

3 of the Best Reasons Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” is Goblin Dung

1.) Radagast The Brown

Not much to say on this one.  Just give it 5 seconds with Rad’s bird feces covered face to distract you.  Someone in makeup really got on a roll.  Originally portrayed as  a quirky but noble wizard, Radagast is relegated to bunny driven sleighs and comic relief devoid of comedy.  I understand leaving Tom Bombadil out of LOTR, and I would also prefer a Radagast without a principle role that eats up screen time in an already over indulged script.
radagast-hummingbird

2.) Azog

Not a major figure in Tolkien’s version, but now seems to be slurping up the screen in a vainglorious attempt to showcase CGI.  In the book he is reported to have been killed years earlier.  I have no problem with creative license as long as it serves to better the story, but the whole Azog backstory just muddies up an already crammed and forced extrapolation.   A simple quest story doesn’t need it.  The primary villain in Tolkien’s tale is Smaug; The Necromancer is secondary and enshrouded in mystery.  With a primary and secondary villain in place, there is definitely no room for a contrived demonstration of total CGI, Azog the Destroyer!
azog2

3.) Expanded Discussion of Witch-king of Angmar’s Sword

No one ever needs to see LOTR celebrity brands, Galadriel and Saruman in an extended scene discussing the blade and the necromancer.  This whole scene sweeps attention away from the upmost quest: retrieve what was lost under The Lonely Mountain.  Understanding that we all perceive what we read differently, and a director’s creative license may deviate from the text, it still should be said that Tolkien’s original tale kept the reader focused on a quest with a simple purpose beset by difficult adventures.  The extended witch-king discussion not only shamelessly parades LOTR characters sans pretense, it beleaguers an already languished pace, slowing down the pages and making room for sequels.
White-Council

Ultimately, what sends this movie that I wanted so badly to be good into Azog the headless orc’s latrine are the diversions from the quest!  The soul of an original There and Back Again story turns into Jackson’s bloated exploitation of what has become a very valuable franchise in cinema.  It seems more CGI and character branding can earn its keep at the box office and look fair indeed, but surgical modification of a beloved text for the purposes of branding rarely lends itself toward catharsis.

KickStarter Hopeful – Soul Gambler

If you’ve ever enjoyed a “choose your own adventure novel” then you will like this game.

Billed as “an interactive visual novel” by m.gaia studio, this solo rpg has a contemporary setting, but is based on the 19th century play, Faust by Goethe.  Actually, your only choice of character is a male named Faust.   He is offered a seemingly preposterous deal by a mysterious old lady at a bus stop: sell pieces of your soul for anything you may want.  Using supernatural powers, she quickly convinces Faust that she is for real.  Since the game hinges on him wagering his soul and refusing the deal just prolongs the inevitable, Faust soon enters into a pact with forces beyond his comprehension.

Currently, only chapter one is available, and the character creation screen is simple and logical.  Faust begins with six points to distribute across 4 attributes (Health, Intelligence, Charisma, Manipulation), but cannot initially add more than three points to any attribute.  During the course of the game, there are problems that Faust needs to solve and anytime he sees his reflection, a demon offers to help for a percentage of Faust’s soul.  Depending on the situation, if he has high enough scores in certain attributes, he can save some of his soul and get the job done on his own.

Overall, if you’re looking for an action-packed, fast-paced game, than this isn’t for you.  If you would like something that takes some careful decision making and you like the idea of watching a story unfold as you take part in it, then this game may be a lot of fun.  It’s also perfect for a smartphone, because it’s so easy to put it down and come back later to where you left off.  You can play the free demo version on your computer here or download it through your smartphone’s app search feature.

This is a kickstarter.com game still in pre-production, so if you want to find out more about the developers or about donating,  check out soulgambler.com

Godus Makes Funding Goal

Imagine being a god with nature as your plaything and your own worshipers to inspire or strike with fear as you see fit.   In the upcoming game, Godus, this will be possible.  You will shape the contours of the land throughout the centuries and manipulate volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, and more in order to help and grow your body of worshipers in an eternal battle of the gods.  If this concept sounds familiar, then like me, you may have played a game back in the early nineties called Populous. The development of Godus is being headed by the same man to create that game over twenty years ago.  Head developer, Peter Molyneux wishes to revive the “god game” genre and is poised to do just that by recently achieving his funding goal on Kickstarter.  GODUS_3You can find a video of the game in action as he discusses some of its major features at www.kickstarter.com.  22 Cans is the company behind Godus which has received major headlines at bbc.com and pcgamer.com.

New Weekly Feature: If Only WOTC Would…

This article marks the first of hopefully many in which we at Crimson Bastards dare to suggest a course of action for the mighty Wizards of the Coast to take. Will the mighty creators of worlds hear our voice…probably not, but it’s still fun to imagine.

This week we think to ourselves…if only WOTC would get the ball rolling on a quality live action version of Dragonlance: The Chronicles. I know this topic has been an undead horse for more than two decades, but there is no doubt that Fantasy geeks all over the country would show up in droves to see a real film version of Weiss and Hickman’s classic trilogy. The timing is right for this movie, on the heels of other successful epics like LOTR, Harry Potter and Twilight. American consumers have shown that they’re willing to pay money to see well-produced fantasy cinema.

The Chronicles definitely provide the right mix of action, drama, and character depth for a serious blockbuster or at the very least a cult favorite that will make tons of money on the backend with DVD and On-Demand. I’m sure WOTC would be willing to allow a major production company make the movie if said company was willing to make a “bend-over” deal for the rights, but isn’t it fun to think of how great it could be if only WOTC would pursue some real Hollywood talent like Peter Jackson or Joss Whedon? One dares to dream.

Oh well, I must close with an indulgence that never gets old thanks to a constantly changing crop of actors…What should the cast be if there was a real Chronicles movie?

  • Tanis – Viggo Mortensen
  • Kitiara – Kate Beckinsale
  • Caramon – Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
  • Raistlin – Robert Downey Jr.
  • Tasslehoff – Billy Boyd (Pippen…two actors from LOTR isn’t too many)
  • Laurana – Emelia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
  • Fizban – Matt Smith (they could make him look really old)

Okay, I know there’s many more, but that’s what the comments section is for, so please share your thoughts. You may think I’m full of Draconian dung or need Tika’s frying pan upside my head (and maybe I am/do), but I believe it’s high time WOTC went knocking on some doors in Hollywood.

The Dark Elf Trilogy Revisited

Listening to the R. A. Salvatore interview on this site compelled me to read all of the Drizzt books. At that time, The Dark Elf Trilogy was the only set of Drizzt books I had ever read. I found very quickly that I had forgotten just how good these books really are. Chronologically, this marks the very beginning of the famous ranger’s life, literally introducing Drizzt’s pregnant mother in the very first chapter. But let’s not fool ourselves, “mother” is not really a term suited for Matron Malice, an evil drow high priestess constantly seeking the favor of Lloth, a spider goddess who demands the sacrifice of each family’s third born son (in this case, Drizzt). I’ll not say anything about how Drizzt survives this cruel tradition; although I’ll give it away that he isn’t born with Twinkle and Icingdeath attached to his hands ready to defend himself. No mother deserves that, not even Malice.
Throughout these books, Salvatore describes the environment and events without too much straight exposition, allowing the reader to see the action on his/her own terms. The end result is a very real and personal connection to the Underdark and all of its characters no matter their alignment. The lines between good and evil are rarely blurred. We are left with no question as to the sheer evil of drow culture and its stark contrast to Drizzt’s principles of good. I realize that the current trend in fantasy is toward moral ambiguity, and I suspect you see more of that in later Drizzt books, but it can be very refreshing as a reader to know exactly where your hero stands. Salvatore reinforces the colossal magnitude of Drizzt’s raw talent and superior training through his interactions with Zaknafein. Re-living events like Zaknafein’s coin flipping test and Drizzt’s signature double thrust low are primarily what makes re-reading these books so damn fun.
By the second book, Drizzt escapes into the Underdark with no one but his faithful beast companion Guenhwyvar for company. Drizzt’s staying power as an exciting figure is quickly revealed as the pages continue to turn even as the protagonist is the only humanoid character. Through engaging internal monologue, Salvatore conveys Drizzt’s struggle to hold fast to his principles as his bestial side emerges in the face of total solitude and constant danger. Our favorite hero is not alone for long though. In order to salvage his sanity, he makes a desperate decision resulting in the formation of an unlikely and treasured friendship. Drizzt and his new companion flee a powerful entity whose success Matron Malice is counting on.
To me, the most unexpected and awesomely suspenseful thing about the trilogy is the delay in Drizzt’s decision to seek the surface. I kept wondering, when and how will he decide because after all, it’s common knowledge that the surface is where he ends up. Every step of the way toward making this decision, Drizzt shrugs off overwhelming odds against dangerous and exotic creatures. Salvatore maintains believability through some of the best detailed fight scene writing in all of fantasy literature. Finally, we do get to see Drizzt’s first interactions with the surface world. After initial problems stemming from the assumptions of local farmers along with the presence of a truly evil force from another plane, Drizzt finds a new mentor who sets the young drow on the course toward Ranger-hood.
This was one of the most pleasurable re-reads I’ve ever had and can’t wait to finish my first reading of The Icewind Dale Trilogy. There is one more thing I took away from The Dark Elf Trilogy. Although it is common now in fantasy to see characters that reject their innate racial alignment, at the time Salvatore introduced Drizzt it wasn’t as common. For this type of misaligned character to have genuine depth, there must be substantial and believable backstory for discerning readers to buy-in, and Salvatore proves to be a master at creating such plausibility amidst such contradiction with this trilogy.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins from an Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Reader’s Perspective

      The world that Suzanne Collins has created in her Hunger Games series consists of a ruthless, totalitarian government that after years of war has established 12 districts that are each subservient to a central capital.  Each of the suppressed districts is responsible for providing specialized resources for the all-powerful capital to enjoy.  And if that’s not enough to make you hate the mysterious tyrant that controls the capital, there is the Hunger Games.   Every year, as a show of the capital’s dominance, there is a competition in which children from each of the districts are selected by lottery to fight each other to the death in order to win food and medical resources for their district.  The action picks up as young Katniss Everdeen from the relatively poor and insignificant district 12 is placed into these Hunger Games.  

     One could go on about how Collins’ premise lacks in originality.  Mad Max anyone?  How about Running Man (gotta love Schwarzenegger)?  Should we even mention 1984 and Orwell?   So, as many hard-core sci-fi/fantasy fans maintain, Ms. Collins lacks originality, but does this shortcoming mark her as a hack?  Well that depends.  After all, we must remember that there is a precedent for every story.  In the fantasy realm, the likes of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan admittedly draw heavily upon Tolkien, and Tolkien along with all popular fantasy writers draw heavily upon mythology (notably Norse mythology).  As for Science Fiction, even the likes of Asimov and Clarke use mathematics and science as a source for their inspiration. My point being that while some authors are more original than others, all writers are heavily influenced by previous writings and ideas. Continue reading “The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins from an Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Reader’s Perspective”

Will D&D 5E Unite the Fold?

Wizards of the Coast caused quite a stir in the D&D community when they recently announced an upcoming complete overhaul of the game. It’s been less than 5 years since the original release of the last edition (D&D 4E), so you may be asking yourself why are they already changing things up? In his official announcement of the project, WoTC’s head of R&D, Mike Mearls says, “We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game.”
Continue reading “Will D&D 5E Unite the Fold?”

Dungeons & Dragons Virtual Table: A Player’s Perspective

The D&D Virtual Table is a major step toward making long distance gaming convenient for both players and Dungeon Masters.  As a player of D&D for more than 15 years, I can honestly say that nothing compares to having a physical battle map, real figurines and the entire group of players with a DM in the same room.  However,  if your group of players is like ours then between family, work, and hundreds of miles you don’t get the chance to crash a friend’s basement with a tray of pizza rolls and a case of Mountain Dew like the old days. Continue reading “Dungeons & Dragons Virtual Table: A Player’s Perspective”