Nov. 23rd, 2014 @ 10:42 am (no subject)
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Happy birthday, breyten!
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eten
Nov. 22nd, 2014 @ 10:17 pm Review: Lords of Gossamer and Shadow
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Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is a roleplaying game by Jason Durall, using the diceless system developed by Erick Wujcik for the Amber Diceless RPG. In fact, one could say that LoGaS is a direct descendant of the ADRPG. I'll be reviewing the PDF.

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There's even a free preview available, containing setting information and everything you need to create a character!
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Ships passing in the night
Nov. 20th, 2014 @ 10:01 pm Productive
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Today was a productive day. I finished Rogue Legacy.
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display
Nov. 12th, 2014 @ 05:58 pm (no subject)
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Happy birthday, anemoona!
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eten
Nov. 7th, 2014 @ 06:59 pm (no subject)
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Happy birthday, nnk0711!
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eten
Nov. 5th, 2014 @ 06:38 pm New housemate
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SD Fub
Nov. 4th, 2014 @ 08:56 pm Second session D&D5, group 2
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Warning: contains spoilers. The report of the first session of this group can be found here.

Most of what happened in this session mirrored what happened in the second session of my first group (the report of which can be found here). The little embellishments that I did on the scenario (such as making Daran Edermath a talkative fellow whose favourite subject is himself) are the same, so I will focus instead on the things that this group did differently.

[Raiding the Redbrands]As the evening falls, the group re-convenes at the Inn. Over dinner, they hear the guests mention the awful Redbrands more than once, and when the group expresses an interest in doing something about them, they got all of the rumours that the locals knew. When they heard about the poor murdered woodworker, it gave them pause -- though it was nothing new for the Halfling. When they asked how many Redbrands there were, they found out there were between 20 and 30 of them -- too many for the townfolk to take care of by themselves. Fueled by the paranoia of the Halfling, most of them took counter-measures against being murdered in their sleep: they were sure the Redbrands would be coming for them! But they didn't (the Halfling called this "a chance missed..."), so the next day they were free to explore the village some more.

Their first visit of the day was to Daran Edermath. Again they got the whole story of the golden helmet and only then got served fresh spring water and sweet apple juice. Daran asked them to look at Old Owl Well, since it's the most reliable water source for the prospectors out to the eastern hills and mountains, and he is worried. But the group was more eager to talk about the Redbrands. Daran told them they leave him alone (looking pointedly at the longsword by the door), but when it was suggested that Daran could lead the villagers in a revolt against the Redbrands, he laughed. It would be a bloodbath: the crafters, farmers and shopkeeps are no hardened fighters, and training them would take too long. But a bunch of adventurers such as themselves, battle-hardened and able to move quickly, that might make a difference...
The group asks him if he wants to join their fight, but Daran declines. If things go pear-shaped, he still has to live in the village while the group can simply move on. There's too much at stake for him, but he does offer them 50 gold if they take care of the Redbrands... (This group didn't recover the goods from the Lionshield Coster, so they didn't get the reward for that. And it seemed like they weren't really keen to tackle the Redbrands at this time, so I decided to sweeten the deal for them.)
When asked, Daran pointed towards Halia as another person the Redbrands don't mess with and gave them directions to the Miner's Exchange. (This ties in with the Halfling Rogue's background as a former Redbrand -- but he didn't tell the group that. He only had to give a few pointers and the group decided to go visit Halia as the most logical next step -- playing nicely along with the Rogue's agenda!)

Arriving at the Miner's Exchange, they ask for a meeting with Halia and get shown into her office. Again, I put three chairs in front of Halia's desk, to see how the group would react. Promptly, the Rogue and the Wizard plunked down -- the rest kept standing. Halia explained a bit that the Redbrands were bad for business (though not necessarily hers), and offered 100 gold for the disposal of Glasstaff and posession of any correspondence of his. Most of the group picked up that this was a bit weird (why only the head of the gang, and not all of the gang? what is so special about the correspondence?), and discussed this amongst themselves after they left.
On their way back to the inn, they were accosted by a band of four Redbrands. Again, it did not take much for the group to go into full combat mode after only a slight provocation. And again, the group was unpleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the second attack these guys could do! (I only now realise that I subconsciously played every Redbrand as male, but why would there not be some female ruffians? The male-ness is heavily implied by the fact that the Redbrands were making eyes at the woodworkers wife, but why not have one or two women amongst them? I will try to remember this for the next sessions, because in my fantasy worlds, women are as capable of evil as men.)
During the fight, the Wizard made good use of his Ray of Frost and Shocking Grasp. And when the Redbrands had lined up just right, he set off a Burning Hands which did quite a bit of damage. However, his position in the second rank makes him vulnerable: the first Redbrands engage the front rank and the rest walk past to engage the second rank. And if the Wizard is doing most of the damage, they are going to attack him -- and with their two attacks, they do pack enough punch to make things quite difficult for the poor Wizard...
It took a few heals from the Cleric and Second Winds from the Fighters to get through this fight. The last dying Redbrand gets asked how many of them there are -- he mumbles '24' and then dies. (I didn't count, but it's a nice number between 20 and 30. If things don't add up, I can always throw another band of ruffians at the group on short notice to pad the numbers.)

Since they're practically standing on the front porch of the Townmaster's Hall, they pile the bodies next to the door for someone else to dispose of. Through the empty streets, they walk to the inn, and the door is only opened after insistent knocking. When Toblen sees it's the group, he is relieved and urges them to be careful. They rest up at the inn for a Short Rest, resetting a few abilities they might need later.
Then they decide to take the fight to the Redbrands and to pay the Sleeping Giant Taphouse a little visit. The street running from the inn to the taphouse is deserted, and they can see figures at the top floors of the houses quickly drawing the curtains when they spot the group. When asked about their marching order, the answer is: "Swagger is the word!" -- they picked up on the Wild West theme! When they came by the taphouse, they didn't waste too much time with posing: just after the Redbrands finished their little mocking speech, arrows started to fly.
(I decided to make these Redbrands a little tougher, and gave them 20 HPs: the group sent to provoke were just starting out, but these are the intermediate guys. I also put four of them on the porch, and two inside: those came out in a few rounds' time, adding to the fight. This made the fight a lot more difficult for the group, also because they didn't roll that well.) Again, the Wizard was in the second rank of the marching order and got hit a few times, needing some Heals from the Cleric. In the end, the Wizard cast Sleep and managed to put one of the Redbrands to sleep, which left two Redbrands standing who were already down on their health and thus speedily dispatched.
Inside the taphouse, they found the poor bartender hiding behind the counter. He only came out of hiding when the Rogue and the Wizard were discussing the merits of torching the place! He's just an innocent, caught up in things when the Redbrands chased all his other customers away, but it took some time for the group to trust him. They bound the sleeping Redbrand and interrogated him, and piled the dead bodies inside the taphouse. They advised the bartender to seek refuge in Daran's orchard, and marched the captured Redbrand to the Townmaster's Hall. They gave their captive to Sildar for locking up, and advised him to dispose of the bodies in the taphouse. Sildar was both pleased and surprised, but they didn't really wait for his reaction and returned to the inn.

There, they settled in for the night, after deciding to get going really early the next morning, and enter the secret entrance Carp had told the Rogue about. Again, there were no attempts on their lives. Again, the Rogue thought this was a chance missed!

After a very early breakfast, they set out towards the Sleeping Giant Taphouse to see if the carnage of the previous afternoon had been discovered by the remaining Redbrands. They found the taphouse completely empty. (I had ruled that Sildar bullied some villagers in helping him remove the bodies -- no civilised village should allow piles of dead bodies within the village itself, even if they are the bodies of ruffians who terrorised the villagers! Also, the owner of the taphouse had packed his stuff and went to Neverwinter -- he is not going to stick around to find out how the other villagers will treat him when the Redbrands have been defeated. I ruled that the Redbrands must have noticed a good of their number did not return to the hideout, so they did not send anyone out to check -- something must be up. However, they do feel quite secure in their hideout, and so there was no added security.)
After confirming that all was quiet at the taphouse, they went to the secret entrance tunnel. After deliberating some time on which object to cast Light, they went in and were a bit dissapointed that the tunnel was so short! Again, I let the Nothic contact the Rogue telepathically (chosen at random), and he threw a piece of dried meat to it when it asked for meat. Of course, that's not what the Nothic wanted, and when it asked for fresh human meat, arrows started to fly again! The fighters closed, and soon it was a done deal.

The group took the south-west corridor (the same as the first group, which I found interesting) and after listening to both doors, decided to kick in the south door -- perhaps expecting to find the woodworker's wife and daughter there. Of course, a fight ensued. The Wizard got into position and covered the whole room with his Burning Hands -- also killing the poor fainted Goblin. (Exactly the same as in the first group!) They looted the bodies and went back out into the corridor again.
The Folk Hero listened at the door and heard the sounds of gambling: the Redbrands behind this door were distracted, perfect for a Surprise! In true murder-hobo style (though the group argued that letting the sleeping Redbrand live was somehow 'proof' they were not behaving like murder-hobos) they positioned themselves in front of the north door and kicked it in. A tough fight broke out (I buffed the Redbrands a bit), especially because the Noble kept rolling quite low and missing... But then the last of the Redbrands went down, and they had a chance to shove aside the upturned table and gather the loot off the floor.


And that is where we ended the session!
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d&d
Nov. 3rd, 2014 @ 06:55 pm (no subject)
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Happy birthday, usmu!
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eten
Nov. 2nd, 2014 @ 11:35 am Marehuizen, session 7
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[Wherein Baruch is angry]Dramatis Personae:
- Senex, most senior magician of Marehuizen;
- Baruch the Jew, merchant and member of the Grunloh triumvirate;
- Johannes, Jerbiton magician from Marehuizen;
- Dorkas, Bjornaer magician from Marehuizen.

The next day features fresh spring weather. Senex asked around if anyone has seen a flying snake, and he is assembling his people in his laboratory for some sort of planning session. Even though the French half of Marehuizen tries to be discreet about it, they can't hide the fact that they all congregate and lock themselves up for a few hours. Dorkas notices something is afoot and tells Johannes that "those French" are up to something. She doesn't have time to look into it: she needs to tend to her experiments in her laboratory, leaving Johannes to deal with this. Johannes decides he is not_ going to deal with it just because Dorkas thinks he should. Instead, he retires to his writing room to think about a treat to offer to the surrounding farmers on the occasion of Easter in order to foster positive relations with them. The French cook is certainly interested in helping with this!
Kaspra decides to walk along the Slinge, to see if she can find more, perhaps fresher, spots where someone tried to make golems. She will be walking towards Grunloh and continue onwards, and Gunther will send out a patrol to check in the other direction. Damiaan offers to send someone with Kaspra, but that is not necessary: Kaspra is capable enough.
Senex' session features a cork board where all kinds of connections are visualised with pins and colored yarn. Damiaan, Christiaan the redcap, the cats and Matilda are present as well. Matilda is quite excited that her bosses are planning to expose and dismantle a conspiracy that threatens all of Europe!

Kaspra follows the Slinge and comes upon a trade caravan coming from Grunloh. Two guards on horses ride in front, and then follow a number of wagons with merchandise. A man in relatively rich clothing on horseback is obviously the merchant, and he is accompanied by Baruch, also on horseback. The two man converse animatedly. The guards are relaxed: this close to Grunloh, the roads are safe. The caravan is set for travel over longer distances, and the wagons are well-maintained. Kaspra walks over to the road, and stops ten meters from the edge. The guards spot her, but when she raises her hand in greeting, they decide she is not a threat and greet her back. The merchant and Baruch nod at her, and the caravan goes past. Kaspra peers onto the wagons, and spots wool, broadcloth and little barrels (perhaps brandy or other liquor?).
Then she continues on, but does not spot anything out of the ordinary for the rest of the day.

When the caravan reaches the road to Marehuizen, Baruch waves goodbye to the merchant and rides up to Marehuizen. There, he makes himself known to the doorman and asks for Lord Johannes or Lady Dorkas (the two magicians that he knows of). Johannes is the obvious choice, and he instructs the doorman to bring Baruch to his office and to prepare a light lunch. When he arrives, Baruch does not look very pleased.
"I understand that these days the trip from Marehuizen to Grunloh is easier to make than previously, and that we even can expect four-legged inhabitants!" Baruch explains that he wants to be a good neighbour to Marehuizen, but if unexpected, unannounced and impertinent visitors scare the women of Grunloh, then that is going to be a problem... He tells Johannes that one of the cats from Marehuizen had wandered into his house and had interrogated his wife without any probable cause. In short, he is angry about the way his wife has been treated. Civilised people announce their visits!
Johannes offers his apologies for the behaviour of the cat, and assures Baruch that he will make sure Baruch's dissapointment about this turn of events will be passed on to those who are responsible for these familiars. But he also offers to explain why this rather awkward conversation took place.
As Johannes recounts the findings of Kaspra and Senex, and explains the theory of the possible connection with Rafael, Baruch shakes his head. He knows that Rafael doesn't have a magical gift, and he must have undertaken a fruitless attempt to create a golem. He has been staying with his family, and has only recently returned to Grunloh. He has heard many stories -- more than are good for him. Baruch draw a parallel between Rafael and the magicians at Marehuizen: others think he is strange, and he is looking for a place to belong.
During this, Johannes nods understanding (he hopes). He asks Baruch what Marehuizen can do to help Rafael, and to keep him on the long and narrow path. Baruch needs to think this over, and if the help from the mages is needed, he will let them know.

Then Baruch takes out a package that he had been carrying. It is a cloak that has been in his family for centuries, which enables the wearer to look like a Rus -- his family was forces to flee to Russia, but stood out between the locals. This cloak made it possible for them to move relatively freely amongst the Slavs. Baruch wants to gift the cloak to Marehuizen: it has outlived its usefulness, and he knows magicians are collecting items with permanent magical abilities. Baruch himself classifies this as a grand gesture, and he tells Johannes he expects reciprocity. Then he takes his leave, and Johannes walks him to his horse and wishes him a good trip back.

Then it is time for lunch, and everybody gathers in the great hall. Johannes shares Baruch's dissappointment at the treatment of his family by the people of Marehuizen with the rest of the group. As he is speaking, Landru starts to wash himself veeeery thoroughly... Dorkas mumbles something to the effect that Kaspra got herself into trouble again, but she does not seem to feel any responsibility for the behaviour of her companion. Johannes decrees that if someone thinks they have any business with Baruch or his family, they will first have to come to him to explain. The rest agrees that this is a wise decision. (It also seems Dorkas is just about done with Senex' cats: she thinks they have strayed too far from their original nature to be taken seriously.)
Then Johannes shows the cloak, and puts it on to see what it does. It shows some subtle changes to the facial features to give him a much more slavic appearance, but he is still recognisable as Johannes. A nice piece of work, and the cloak itself is also in a very good condition. Dorkas suggests that someone should check out which magics exactly are incorporated in the cloak, and Johannes volunteers.
Senex suggests to procure a gift for Baruch and his family, to show the goodwill of Marehuizen. It is decided to procure an ornate dagger for Baruch and a slightly smaller copy for Rafael, and two clasps with the same motif: one for Baruch's wife, and a slightly smaller one for his daughter. Matilda draws a design which is just a little ostentatious for Johannes' sense of aestethics, but that might just be what Baruch's family likes. Christiaan will take the design and travel to Aachen, where he knows a capable goldsmith who could produce these.
Then Dorkas asks the French contingent what kind of meeting they were having. All at once, everyone makes themselves scarce, remembering some urgent errand... Which leaves only Senex to explain their actions to the German mages. He starts some story about a winged serpent: if they meet one (even in a dream!) and it offers them something, it would be good to decline its offer. Dorkas asks why, and Senex mumbles something about a group called the Serpents, which is a mysterious society that is up to no good.
Johannes posits that the magicians of Marehuizen should have secrets for eachother: they are all members of the convenant, and trouble for one of them means trouble for all. If they want to make Marehuizen a thriving convenant, they will have to cooperate and share information! Senex has to admit that this is true, and he offers to run them through his briefing in his lab. It is decided to have that session tomorrow morning, before lunch.
With that, everybody splits up to pursue their own projects.

Johannes takes the cloak to his laboratory, and finds a Rego Imaginem spell on the cloak, but it is not very powerful (hence only subtle changes). There is also another spell on the cloak, which keeps it in pristine condition: it is impossible to see if it really is centuries old like Baruch claims, or if it was made only a week ago. The cloak is made of wool and lined with furs, so the spell has a strong Animal component. It has been enchanted by a pre-hermetic magician, but from a tradition that was a precursor of the hermetic techniques.
Johannes writes a letter to his parent convenant at Gutenberg, describing the working of the cloak and the spells he found. He also adds a few sketches to the letter. He then seals it and delivers it to Christiaan to take with him to Aachen. There, he will pass it on to a convenant there, where it will be picked up by other redcaps who will bring it closer to Gutenberg. It's a slow system, but it's not an urgent message.
The cloak itself is stored in the tabernacle Johannes keeps in his office, where he also stores his Vis pawns.
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Ars Magica
Oct. 27th, 2014 @ 07:57 pm (no subject)
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Happy birthday, couri!
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eten
Oct. 27th, 2014 @ 12:46 pm The Reckoning
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When the new anime season starts, it's time to look back at the series we wanted to collect and watch, and put it all on the removable harddisk for easy viewing access.
I added 149 episodes to the harddisk. If we watch full-swing (which is 22 episodes per week), it'll last us just under 7 weeks -- about half of the length of a season. But we have still many episodes in stock (including a big one like Yowamushi Pedal), so that's not too much of a problem!
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azumanga
Oct. 27th, 2014 @ 11:08 am Second session D&D5, group 1
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Warning: Contains spoilers. First session report can be found here.

(During the Phandalin phase, I used the player's map of Phandalin, and put markers on each building that the group was pointed to. I used one marker to represent the group. That worked quite well, as it gave a visual aid where they were and where they could/would go.)
[What happens in Phandelin stays in Phandelin]The group arrived in Phandalin with Sildar in tow. As Sildar goes ahead to the inn, the team turns their cart to Bathen's, who is happy to receive the good. Barthen recognises the crates with the signet of the Lionshield Coster, and agrees to lend his cart a bit longer so that the group can return the stolen goods to the Coster trading post at the city centre. The group gets paid and Barthen mumbles something about times being tough, with everybody being shaken down by the Redbrands. At the Lionshield Coster, they're handsomely compensated for their troubles and they do some discounted shopping. Especially the Folk Hero Fighter stocks up on all sorts of equipment that may or may not be useful when dungeoneering... Here again, they are told about the trouble those Redbrands cause everybody.
They take a small detour to the Shrine of Luck. They ask if she knows the location of Cragmaw Castle. They hear Sister Garaele's request, but when they hear they have to deal with a Banshee, they're hesitant to take up this quest. Nonetheless, she marks Agatha's Lair on their map. Then they join Sildar at the inn to settle in for the evening.

There they hear the unending litany of the wrongdoings of the Redbrands from the locals, and when they get told about the murder of the Woodworker, it sinks in that these are not merely a gang who leeches off the locals, but a band of criminals who don't stop at nothing! Especially the Noble is ready to fight them at the spot, but he calms down considerably when he hears there are between 20 and 30 Redbrands in total... They get pointed to Alderleaf Farm and the Miner's Exchange for more information on the Redbrands.
They also enquire to the location of Cragmaw Castle, but nobody present know about it. The locals point them to Qelline Alderleaf, because she has been living in these parts for decades, and to Daran Edermath, because he used to be an adventurer like them. When the evening winds down, the group enjoys a restful sleep at the inn.

The next morning, they are taken to the Townmaster's Hall by Sildar. Sildar presents his letters from the Lord's Alliance to Harbin, who has to other choice but to accomodate Sildar's wishes to make this his office. Empathic characters detect that Harbin is both annoyed (someone is taking his power away!) and relieved (now someone else gets to deal with the Redbrand problem!). While Sildar is counting out the reward for escorting him to the town, the group tries to reassure Harbin that they're tough customers who can deal with any trouble the town is facing. Harbin seems glad, and points them to the notice about the orcs, and marks Wyvern Tor on their map. (He is still too scared to suggest they do something about the Redbrands.)

After they receive their reward, they pay a visit to Edermath Orchard. Daran Edermath did not expect visitors, and the group notices the longsword within arms' reach next to the front door of the cottage. They introduce themselves, and Daran invites these junior adventurers into his home. His living room features a comfy couch and a large display case featuring all kinds of trophies and knick-knacks that Daran collected during his career. The Wizard is curious (also because Daran is a half-elf and so much younger than himself), and checks out the collection. Daran sees him looking at a large golden helmet, and starts telling the tale of how he single-handedly defeated an enemy general who wore that helmet. The tale takes about fifteen minutes... When the Noble asks how Daran got the helmet so clean it can be displayed like that, it turns out that he really didn't wanted to hear the answer of "one hour in boiling oil" after all!
Pleased with having some ears to listen to his tales (in which he always plays the starring role), Daran offers refreshments to the group: sweet apple juice and fresh spring water. Only when Daran takes a sip of his own juice can the group get a word in edgewise and ask him after Cragmaw Castle. Daran doesn't know the location, but does tell them about the undead at Old Owl Well. Maybe that has something to do with it? When asked about the Redbrands, Daran mentions that they're too afraid to confront him directly, but that there are too many of them for him to organise something. But heroes like the group...
Daran mentions that the Redbrands also leave the Miner's Exchange alone. Halia Thornton is backed by a mighty trading house, and harassing the Exchange would also annoy every miner around -- if they would group together, the Redbrands would have a hard time indeed...

The group says their goodbyes to Daran and heads to the Miner's Exchange. The front of the building is open to the public, and a few miners are sitting on wooden benches, waiting for their turn to turn in their finds at one of the windows. There are two of those: behind each one sits a clerk with a precision scale and a notepad. The windows are fortified with thick iron bars. There is also a door consisting of bars that leads into a storage room stacked with crates. There is a guard standing by, and the group asks him to speak to the leader. After some time, they are let through the door and led past the crates to the office of Halia Thornton. She wears clothing of a better quality than the locals and has an air of efficiency around her. She only has two chairs in her office for visitors, and the whole group keeps standing. (I added this detail to see who would sit down and who would be forced to stand, but the group has remarkable solidarity with each other.)
They discuss the situation in the village with Halia, and she offers them 100 gold to eliminate Glasstaff and his correspondence. This raises a few eyebrows with the characters with a high Insight, but since the Redbrands were on the menu anyway, they tell her they'd see what they could do.

When they walk back towards the Townmaster's Hall, they notice it's quiet in the street. They can see some playing children being pulled indoors, windows and shutters being closed, and an eerie quiet descending on the town... (I went for a wild-west showdown feel, and the players picked up on this.) Four Redbrands appear, trying to provoke the group into a fight. The Redbrands didn't have too much trouble with that: their leader had not even finished his sentence when the Cleric hit him with his warhammer! The rest of the party was up in arms in no-time, but when the Redbrands counter-attacked and two of them did their total of four attacks against the Cleric, he went down... This gave the group some pause, but with some handling of greatswords and battle-axes, with support from the Rogue and the Wizard, three of them went down in the third round. The last remaining Redbrand tried to make a run for it, towards the Inn (and back to the Sleeping Giant), but the Folk Hero calmly dropped his sword, grabbed his longbow and shot him through the throat.
The Rogue quickly rifled through their pockets (I ruled they had a few silver amongst them), and then they wondered what to do with the bodies. In the end, they piled them up at the door of the Townmaster's Hall (which had been closed down too -- Harbin's doing) and went for a Short Rest in the Inn.

Refreshed (and some abilities recharged), they went to visit Alderleaf Farm. Passing by the Townmaster's Hall, they noticed the bodies were gone, but there was no acitivity in the streets at all. (The village was waiing with bated breath what the Redbrands would do after this.) Arriving at the farm, far away from the fight in the village centre, they are greeted by Carp, the young halfling cousin of the Rogue. He takes them inside and calls his mother, who promptly cooks them a light lunch (well, "light" by halfling . They ask after Cragmaw Castle, and she tells them about Reidoth the Druid in Thundertree -- he might know where it is.
Carp tells about the tunnel he found, and his mother gets mad at him: she told him to stay away from there! The group them leaves, but asks Carp to point them the way. They take a small detour and clamber across a collapsed section of the wall between Alderleaf Farm and the woods south of the manor to avoid being seen by Qelline, but then send Carp back home when they get close. They do find the secret passage into the cave below the Manor, partially hidden by two bushes. The Folk Hero also detected a path of sorts leading away to the south-east. (I ruled that the Redbrands would go away from the village for a ways at first, and only then go to their destination.)
The Rogue tied a rope to the trunk of one of the bushes, and the Noble hid in the other bush holding the rope to trip up anyone who would leave the cave. The rest of the group hid in trees and bushes and settled in for a long wait. (To my surprise, they kept on waiting through several hours.)
When a Bugbear emerged from the tunnel, the Noble managed to trip it up, rendering it Prone. The Folk Hero had trouble with hitting it with his bow, but the combined efforts of the Noble, the Rogue and the Wizard felled the Bugbear before he could get up. The Bugbear carried a small note: "Black Spider, please send reinforcements", which had been signed by Glasstaff. (I ruled that the Redbrands would have gotten nervous after this sudden display of competence from the adventurers they were supposed to chase off, and so one of the Bugbears would get sent to Cragmaw Castle to ask for reinforcements -- but it would take them some time to realise what had happened.) The grouped cleaned up the mess and waited some more, but nothing further happened, so they went into the tunnel to the Redbrand Hideout.

In the cave, the Nothic asked the Wizard telepathically for meat when it emerged from behind the south pillar. Without even considering the question, the group rolled for initiative and arrows started to fly. (I gave the Nothic a hissing, raspy voice, which did not improve the party's disposition to negotiate with it.) It tried the necrotic gaze on the Noble, but it failed -- but it gave the Noble the shivers -- so he used his Action Surge to attack the Nothic twice in his round. The Nothic was unceremoniously hacked down...
The group didn't pay the crevasse too much mind and went into the hallway leading off to the south. The Wizard listened at the door to the south, and could make out the words in Goblin. The Noble concluded that someone in that room needed to be rescued -- and he (and his friends) were the one to do so! The group kicked in the door and surprised the two Bugbears and the Goblin inside. (The third Bugbear had been sent towards Cragmaw Castle and had been defeated earlier.) During the fight, the Wizard performed a Burning Hands, which sadly also roasted the fainted Goblin inside... With great interest, the group looted the body of Mosk, and the Rogue took possession of the key.
Listening at the door at the north end, they could make out that there was a rowdy game going on in there -- presumably Redbrands. After a brief (and whispered) discussion, it was decided to not confront this group. The Rogue locked the door with the key, and they jammed a piece of wood into the keyhole, so that it would be hard to open the door from the inside.
The group doubled back and took the north passage to the west. Again, they locked the door to the gaming room, and again jammed a splinter in the keyhole.

Then everything went quickly: they opened the door to the room to the north and find a wizards laboratory. The Wizard and the Cleric peer at the bookcases with interest, while the Rogue listens at the door to the east. He hears hurried footsteps going away (the rat in the laboratory is, after all, Glasstaff's familiar) and barges in. Now begins a frantic race to catch up with the fleeing Glasstaff, witht he Rogue at the front and the rest of the party dangerously spread thin behind him. While the Wizard stays in the laboratory, fascinated by the experiments going on there, the Folk Hero hears him mutter something about an invisibility potion -- which is highly alarming to him: a hidden wizard could get them into all sorts of trouble!
Luckily, the party encounters no resistance during their pursuit, but when the Rogue arrives at the hallway next to the weapon's chamber, he can't hear any footsteps anymore... Which is a good thing, because his support (both Fighters) are lagging behind, and the Cleric and Wizard are even further back...
The group re-groups in Glasstaff's sleeping quarters, and because Halia specifically asked for correspondence, they rifle through the papers on the desk, and find the letter from the Black Spider adressed at Iarno Albrek...

This is where we ended the session. Each character has racked up 290 XP this session, putting them at 590 -- just a little under halfway to level 3!

I really like the scenario. Walking around Phandalin and speaking to the local movers and shakers gave some nice roleplaying moments, which is why I pushed the initial confrontation with the Redbrands as far back as I could. I really like how the group gelled together, with all sorts of mannerisms and patterns emerging through play. In this group, the Noble is the spokesperson for the group (which makes sense given his background), but that's not something that was decided -- it just happened. I like how the scenario allows for some flexibility in the reactions from the townspeople and the Redbrands, even though it's kinda episodic.
Getting the players maps for this campaign is one of the best decisions I made. Cutting it up and placing it together as the group explores the dungeon really adds to the experience.
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D20
Oct. 26th, 2014 @ 08:56 am (no subject)
Current Mood: happyfestive
Happy birthday, zolphia!
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eten
Oct. 25th, 2014 @ 07:54 pm New anime
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Let's see if I can wrap up the reviews for this new season!

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso: Kosei was a piano prodigy -- it was forced upon him by his mother who wanted to make him the success she never was. When she suddenly died, he stopped playing -- now he just slogs through his life. But then he gets forced into a double date by his childhood friend, and he meets a girl who plays the violin in a free-spirited way that impresses him.
I'm sure this is going to be a love story -- you see the moment Kosei falls in love with Kaori. The characters are nicely rounded, so you really hope that things work out for them. And it's very nicely animated too!

Ore Twintail ni Narimasu: Souji loves the twintail hairstyle: two ponytails. Then aliens attack, and they steal the 'twintail essence' from girls, so that they never will wear twintails again! A mysterious lady offers Souji an artefact to fight them: using it, he turns into a twintailed girl himself ("Tail Red"), with powerful attacks!
It is completely bizarre. Most series catering to a preference like that are fan-service filled pandering with a wafer-thin plot, but this one manages to pull it off. It's all so weird that you just take it at face value. We were thoroughly entertained -- just don't take it too seriously.

Girlfriend BETA: Kokomi is working hard to get to the prefectural tournaments for rythmic gymnastics. Then an exchange student drops by to chat, and when she leaves, she loses a photograph. Kokomi spends the next few days trying to find her, to return the photo to her.
If that sounds completely un-excitihttp://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15840ng, then that might be because it is completely un-exciting. You know I'm not averse to a slow-paced bishoujo series, but after this first episode I wondered what the point of the series is going to be. It is executed competently enough, but the complete absence of any kind of friction or conflict and with the girls so far devoid of any real personality, it didn't leave me wishing to see the next episode.

Bonjour Sweet Love Patisserie: A girl worked hard to get into a patisserie school on a scholarship. This gets her into a spat with the rich ladies who could pay for the tuition, which in turn earns her a stern look from the school director. There is an iron rule in the school: do not get involved with the teachers! But wouldn't you know: they're all quite handsome!
I wonder why it is that most of the reverse harem anime are set in a vocational school setting... It's a half-length episode, and not much else happens than what I've described. Now, I'm all for series featuring patisserie schools, but this just didn't work for us.

Sanzoku no Musume Ronja: Ronja is the daughter of Mattis, the leader of a band of bandits operating in the forest. They live in a castle with the robbers and her mother. As a baby, everybody dotes on Ronja, and when she is old enough, she is allowed to leave the castle and explore the forest by herself.
Based on the book by Astrid Lindgren, made by Studio Ghibli, with Goro Miyazaki at the helm. It's all CGI, and you can see it in the way the characters move -- but somehow it works out really good in this series. The animation is fluid and dynamic, the backgrounds are lush... It really has that Ghibli touch, with a perfect mix of focus on the characters and adventure. This is certainly one to watch!

And there are some sequel series as well:
Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle: Second season of Hitsugi no Chaika, which seems to pick up right where the first season dropped off.

Psycho Pass 2: Second series of Psycho Pass. We haven't seen the first series yet, so I can't really comment on it.

Yowamushi Pedal Grande Road: Second series of Yowamushi Pedal. The first series was 39 episodes, but this one goes on -- one wonders just how long those sports series can run!
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3-eyed cat
Oct. 25th, 2014 @ 06:03 pm Marehuizen, session 6
Current Mood: mellowmellow
Tags:
[Wherein it is discovered that someone is trying to make Golems]Dramatis Personae:
- Kaspra, a huntress/poacher from Marehuizen;
- Senex, most senior magician of Marehuizen;
- Landru, Senex' cat-like familiar;
- Rafael, teenaged son of Baruch the Jew.

It is early spring, with both beautiful and bad weather, just before Easter. Dorkas is working in her lab to research the spell she wants to use to turn developed land back into wilderness. She only emerges to eat and has little attention to the daily life of Marehuizen. Senex seems to research local folk dances, and asks around how one could join a group to perform those dances. It is suggested that the festivities just before Easter could be a good occasion for that, but Rudbert had suggested that they're not entirely Christian...
Johannes and Gunther are working on expanding Marehuizen's influence in the immediate surroundings. This has to be done with care, because Hoede seems to be quite jealous of his position as the protector of the common folk around Grunloh. The duo is working on a more-or-less detailed map of the surroundings: roads and paths, farms, farmland (and who tills what soil), etcetera. As part of this operation, a guardhouse of sorts is built along the road, next to the path up to Marehuizen. This house has three walls and has benches for passing people to take a breather and to get out of the rain -- but it is also permanently manned by one of the men from Marehuizen -- not in uniform (they do not wish to provoke Hoede), but in plain clothes.

Kaspra is rambling along the fields, officially to help Johannes with the map, but she is also glad to be out of the convent: with Dorkas researching, there is little for her to do, and she wishes to stay out of Gunther's clutches. Surveying the land is the perfect excuse to get away from any chores that might be given to her! One day, she is walking along the Slinge, from Grunloh to Marehuizen, when she comes upon a strange scene. Someone has been digging up clay from the Slinge, and it looks like they have been playing around with it. Quite a lot has been dug up, probably with a shovel, and there are small heaps of clay to be found on the grass. The clay was too wet to retain its form, so it's hard to make out what it was supposed to be. Upon further inspection, Kaspra discovers two shards of pottery that have been rubbed together to make smaller grains. Those grains have been mixed through one of the heaps of clay. This one was a bit more dry (perhaps due to the pottery) and looks like it has a vaguely humanoid shape. Kaspra does not know what to make of it, and decides to take the shards of pottery with her back to Marehuizen.

Back at Marehuizen, Kaspra shows the pottery-shards to Dorkas, who recognises that they contain Terram Vis, but since it's not one of her specialties, she can't really tell anything further. Dorkas is concerned and wants to get to the bottom of this: why would anyone do this in the open air, and not in a laboratory? She speaks with Senex, who is immediately interested in the details. Since it's only a 20 minute walk to the spot, he decides to go with her -- in the form of a squirrel riding on his Landru, his cat familiar. When they arrive at the site, it looks undisturbed. Senex changes back into human form and walks around for a bit -- he seems concerned. He asks Kaspra for confirmation that the mud piles look human-shaped, which clearly disturbs him.
Then they hear a rider approaching from the direction of Grunloh. It is Rafael, the son of Baruch, in his outlandish clothing. Kaspra positions herself between the road and the piles of clay and raises her hand to greet him. Rafael seems surprised to see two people from Marehuizen walking around along the Slinge. He greets her back and quickly rides on. Senex asks Kaspra if that young man is a Jew -- he sees a worrying connection. He wonders if there have recently been incidents where Jews were victimised, but Kaspra knows of none: Baruch is an influential man who does a lot of good for the area. Senex shares his theory: someone has been trying to make a Golem here. Since Golems fit in with the Jewish magical tradition and Rafael seemed surprised, there might be a connection. Other than the pottery shards, there is nothing magical here, and it seems like all the clay that had been dug up, has been used in the various piles. Since there is no clay missing and the only pile with the magical shards is still around, the attempt must have failed.

When they return at Marehuizen, they have not seen Rafael, but the sentry at the shelter also hasn't seen him come by -- so that means he must have gone off-road. Kaspra decides to use her cloak of feathers to turn into a bird and look for him. Senex sends Matilda with her, in the form of a swallow. Just as it is getting dark, they see him riding in the direction of Grunloh. Following his tracks back, they see that he has left the path to look at the puddles of clay -- but perhaps that was merely to see what Senex and Kaspra had been doing there. As it is getting too dark to see details on the ground, the place where Rafael left or rejoined the path can't be found anymore.
As the two return to Marehuizen, it is time for supper. Kaspra and Matilda report their findings to Senex. The other magicians are within earshot: they are all seated at the main table. Senex concludes that someone is trying to create life, but they're hopeless. However, it gives him pause that they did use a magic tool. He asks the assembled magicians if they think the convenant should get involved, or would they rather wait to see what happens? Captain Gunther asks if there is a chance of a magical threat against the convenant: he got nervous from this talk. Senex tells him that there is no threat at the moment: whoever did this has a very slim chance to succeed. And even if they did, Marehuizen has a powerful shield against magic attacks, so there is no need for additional measures at this time.
However, Senex reminds the other magicians that they know an infernalist is roaming the countryside: Salle's affliction and the bones at Borculo point to that fact. What if our golem-builder gets frustrated and the infernalist offers an easy way to reach his goals? It would be good to know who is trying to build these golems, and Rafael is currently our best lead.
Kaspra offers to visit Grunloh the next day, and Senex offers to send Landru, his cat familiar, with her. Kaspra suggests changing him into a Lynx, for her to walk with a collar -- a not-so-subtle jab at Dorkas (whose heartbeast is a lynx), who rolls her eyes at this. Gunther decides to send out an extra patrol, but when that patrol returns, they haven't seen anything special.

The next day, Kaspra and Landru depart -- making sure that Dorkas saw the two of them together. Walking along the path, Kaspra tries to make out relatively fresh tracks from horses, and finds a spot between Marehuizen and the location of the clay piles where tracks go up and down a side-path. They follow these tracks along a field into a little grove. They find a spot where a horse has been standing still for quite some time. The rider also dismounted, because there are boot marks around. From there, you can keep a watch on the spot with the clay piles in between the trees without being seen. Perhaps this is where Rafael waited for Kaspra and Senex to leave before returning to Grunloh.
They go back to the path and resume their walk towards Grunloh. They encounter various people: a rider on horseback, a farmer pushing a cart around. Walking around with a cat on a leash certainly attracts the attention of the locals, and when a patrol from Hoede's men comes up, they want to know if they come from Marehuizen. (Because who else would think of something this outlandish?) Both of them reply affirmative, and the patrol quickly resumes their rounds...
When they reach Grunloh, they cross the bridge into the village itself and follow the main road to the market square. It's not a market day, so the square is mostly empty. Landru offers to talk to the cats of the Baruch-family, who are the only ones to keep pets. Kaspra decides to enter the inn, to try and talk with the locals about Rafael -- to see if she can learn something about him.

When Landru approaches the house of Baruch, he detects scent-marks from other cats. The house looks well-maintained, and is the only one with a real garden in the back. It is well-tended, with herbs and exotic plants growing in neat rows. One of the cats is lounging about in the garden and hisses at Landru when he approaches. It is a normal cat, incapable of speech. Landru hisses back, and produces sparks -- the other cat flees into the house, hissing from a safe distance. Landru ignores this and takes a good look around the garden. A second cat detects Landru and starts hissing as well.
From within the house, a woman's voice sounds: "What is wrong? Don't act so agitated!" Landru walks towards the voice and finds Shayna, Baruch's wife, standing in the door-opening. Landru tells her: "Hello human! I come in peace!" This prompt Shayna to conclude that her visitor must be from Marehuizen. She wonders why the cat is here: does he have business with Baruch? Landru tells her that he came to talk with her about one of her young, because he has been conducting magical experiments. Shayna clearly does not believe the cat. Landru says: "What concerns us is if he gets an offer of help, and that person offering the help could have evil intentions." Shayna tells Landru that she will discuss it with her husband -- perhaps as a way to end this strange conversation. She does offer Landru to pick a bit of catnip -- her cats like it, so maybe he will too. Then she closes the door.

Kaspra enters the inn around lunch time. About ten people are present. One table has travellers and merchants huddled over their soup, while the large table closest to the counter has several locals sitting together, talking amongst themselves about the preparations for the Easter festivities. Kaspra orders the lunch set and sits down at the table with the locals. She asks about Easter, and is told that the festivities consists of singing, dancing and drinking -- like everywhere else! Of course, Kaspra is not a local so she didn't know... But it is clear they're not willing to discuss the finer points of the local traditions with Kaspra sitting next to them, so the subject is changed. Kaspra is not part of the conversation until Landru walks in. Then one of the locals asks if it's one of those animals from the Jews? Those people are weird: you can't even eat those animals! Kaspra replies that they do eat mice, and the local must concede that cats can be useful. But it's by no means certain that there are mice in that house: perhaps the mice don't even want to live there! They have weird clothes and weird customs. Especially the boy: he has been living with his parents for a few months now, but nobody knows what he does all day...
With her lunch finished, Kaspra greets everybody and walks out of the inn with Landru. Behind their backs, they can hear urgent whispering about these strange visitors...

The two decide to ask Hoede if he has seen something of interest with respect to clay. Their route takes them past the house of Baruch, where they can hear two voices: Shayna and her daughter Keren are at home, but Baruch and Rafael seem to be out. They don't stop to stare at the house: they have aroused enough suspicion for one day! At the house of Hoede, they find an important-looking man sitting on a bench. They ask him if any patrols have seen anything out of the ordinary along the banks of the Slinge. Filled with a sense of self-importance, the man thanks Kaspra for mentioning it, and says that he will discuss it with his boss. If they have any news, they will send a message.
There is not much else for the two to do, and so they return to Marehuizen.
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Ars Magica
Oct. 20th, 2014 @ 09:39 pm New anime
Current Mood: okayokay
Still gotta write up some reviews of new anime!

Trinity Seven: This one guy finds out that he accidentally created a new world, using a grimoire his childhood friend gave him. She has dissapeared, but she is alive somewhere, so when he is confronted by a magician, he joins their school. Apparently he has the potential to become very powerful very quickly, but the way to do that is to defeat the Trinity Seven, the seven most powerful magicians in the school. And wouldn't you know, they're all female!
So yes, it's a harem anime, and it's not a particularly good one. We see a parade of the usual stuff, and it never rises above mediocre.

Nanatsu no Taizai: The Holy Knights have protected the kingdom for years. The only ones to be able to stop them were the Seven Deadly Sins: seven super-powerful fighters, who have since dissapeared. Now that the Holy Knights have seized power, the third princess seeks out these wanted criminals, because they are the only ones who can stand up against the Holy Knights and free her family!
It starts off quite laid-back, but when the Holy Knights start making their move, the power levels escalate pretty quickly. It's fun to watch though, and it has this really old-school fantasy feel about it. The designs are old-school as well, but the animation is up to modern standards. It combines the best of the old with the best of the new, and I quite liked it.

Gundam Build Fighters Try: Second series in the Gundam Build Fighters saga. Set seven years after the first series, the focus is on the Gunpla Battle Club at the school where Sei and Reiji won the Wold Cup. It is down to one member, and is in danger of being closed down. But then a transfer student comes along who gets shanghai'ed into playing a battle. He is a student of martial arts, and uses that in his fighting style...
We immensely enjoyed the first series, and the second has all the hallmarks of being equally good. I am looking forward to this team winning the World Cup this time around (which surely will happen). Even in the first episode there is already a colourful cast assembled with lots of emotional ties, which will be fun.
I am still a bit curious what happened with the revelation that the Plavsky particles were in fact from another world -- no mention is made of that, but surely in seven years something must have leaked since then? Maybe that's for a later episode...

Hi-sCool! SeHa Girls: Three girls, who are antropomorphised versions of three Sega game consoles, who have to go through 'classes' consisting of playing videogames.
Boring and stupid. Sure, it's cute to see the Golden Axe character selection screen appear to illustrate a point in casual conversation, but if you're not an old-old-school gaming nerd, then there is nothing of interest here.

Parasyte -the maxim-: Shinichi has a fear for bugs, so when he sees a 'snake' come for him at night, burrowing into his right palm, he binds off his arm to prevent it from going further. Good thing he did that: the parasite did eat his right hand, but could not reach his brain... There are other parasites who did manage to eat their hosts' brains, and they are not necessarily friendly to others. Shinichi and his parasite have to work together to survive...
The parasites are bloodthirsty and grotesk, quite exaggerated. If you're into that sort of thing, you might want to check it out. We'll be giving this one a pass.

Daitoshoukan no Hitsujikai: Kakei would rather read books. He attends a really large school, with 600 students per class. He gets text messages from 'The Shepherd', which foreshadow certain events. He acts on one of those to save a girl from a derailed train, but of course they fall and he lands on top of her... This gets him into all sorts of trouble, but in the end it's sorted out. The girl and her friends decide to band together to make their high school life fun, and convene in the room of the Library Club, of which Kakei is the sole member.
We've seen this done before too, but there is also talk about a magic book, and the Shepherd seems to be preparing Kakei for some sort of destined future... That new element makes it novel, and I don't dislike this type of series.

Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken: This translates to "I don't understand what my husband is saying". Which is what happens if an ordinary Office Lady marries a hard-core otaku: she doesn't understand much of what he is doing/saying. Still, she loves him, and he does his best for her.
3 minute episode, which is about the amount of time that this keeps being funny. Though it must be said that neither of the two characters are portrayed as caricatures, so that's something. And I liked the fact that the (short) ending theme starts with the line "Please get your shit together" -- it doesn't pull punches either!

Shirobako: The girls of the Animation Club manage to create an animated episode for their school festival. After graduation, one of them starts working in Tokyo, for an animation company about to air the first episode of a series where they are the main animation studio. Of course, there are always some last-minute emergencies...
I really liked watching this. The characters have lots of personality, and it gives a great look into how the animation industry works -- like Bakuman did, but here everyone is an adult, doing adult things.
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icecream
Oct. 12th, 2014 @ 12:00 pm New anime
Current Mood: tiredtired
Kaito Joker: Kaito Joker is a masked thief, dressed as a magician. He steals treasures, and eludes the police with his 'miracles' (and his bubble gum). When he goes to steal a treasure from an annoying rich man, he meets the young ninja Hachi: the treasure was stolen from his native village, and he needs to get it back. Together, they elude the traps and the police, and get away with their prize.
Apparently, the theme of this season is 'magician thieves', together with Magic Kaito 1412... But this one is made for a much younger audience. The antics of Kaito Joker are amusing, and he makes excellent use of misdirection and disguises to make his getaway. If I were thirty-five years younger, I'd enjoy this enormously...

Orenchi no Furo Jijou: Tatsumi finds a wounded merman lying on the beach. He carries him home and lets him stay in his batchtub -- but the merman is a complete egoist, and has no problems imposing on Tatsumi's hospitality...
Four-minute long episode, so there's no real room for plot or character-development. And yet the stage is set for future gags. It's outside of our strike zone, though.

Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de: The sole male member of the Literature Club has a serious case of chuunibyou. Everyone simply ignores his rants, until one day it turns out that they actually did awaken to Mysterious Powers! Nothing really happens afterwards: no super villains turn up, no battle for the the fate of the universe -- just ordinary everyday life. But the Literature Club are not the only ones who have gotten these superpowers...
OK, so it's one of those series with an all-female club and one male member... But it's pretty fun: what would you do with mysterious superpowers if your daily life stays just the same?

Donten ni Warau: At the beginning of the Meiji era, Japan was transforming into a modern nation. Carrying swords was forbidden, and samurai had lost all their privileges. Of course, not everybody was happy with that -- but when caught, they got sent to a prison in the middle of lake Biwa. The three brothers who magae the Kumo shrine help the police with rounding up escaped criminals, and ferried them to the prison.
I'm not sure what to make of this. The elder brother is invincible and dotes on his younger brothers, the middle brother wants to be strong but isn't (yet), the youngest brother takes things too literally. And if you have to re-use the same plot-point (a criminal who evades the police) within the first episode, then I'm not sure there's enough plot to keep things interesting for a whole series.

Amagi Brillian Park: Seiya is forced (at gunpoint!) to take a girl on a date to Amagi Brilliant Park, a derelict theme park. The theme is that of a magical kingdom, with rides and attractions centered around the magical fairies -- but it's all very unpolished and dissapointing. Then Seiya is taken to see the manager of the park: a princess from the magical kingdom. She explains that the park needs more visitors, because as refugrees from the magical kingdom, they don't have any other place to go! She gives Seiya mind-reading powers and asks him to become the manager of the park.
I'm sure you've seen those photos from abandoned theme parks -- they turn up in the flow of the internet once in a while. It's not quite that bad yet, but the rides are dangerous, the games are dissapointing and the park is shabby. But the 'cast members' are actual fairies, and if the park closes down, they'll be homeless! A really interesting premise, and it's (probably) going to be a lot of fun.

Akatsuki no Yona: Yona is the daughter and only child of the king of Kouka, a small kingdom in an unspecified Asian location. She is very much in love with her cousin Soo Won, but her father forbids her to marry him -- whomever will marry the princess will be the next king! And then on her sixteenth birthday, Yona witnesses Soo Won murdering her father! She is saved by Hak, one of the guards...
If you like the combination of courtly intrigue, costume drama and romance novels, then this is right in your sweet spot. Personally, I got flashbacks to Fushigi Yuugi, and we decided to leave this one be.
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net zombie!
Oct. 10th, 2014 @ 09:40 pm New anime
Current Mood: okayokay
Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis: It starts off with some epic End Battle, so I kind of expected some grand fantasy setting. Instead of that, we get a rollercoaster introduction, and the action hardly ever lets up. It's like a Tex-Mex Wild West setting, with bad guys who can summon monsters, and the bounty hunters who kill them for money. And a mysterious lady who absolutely has to get to the frozen north...
Looks gorgeous, super lively animated, a well-rounded world, characters with lots of personality and an epic plot. Really impressed with this one, and this first episode left us wondering how things would develop. So far, the hit of the season for us.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san: In Japan, an Ouija board is called "Kokuri-san", because by using it, you summon a fox spirit called Kokuri. If you use such a board all alone, you invite the spirit to haunt you! Kohina, a lonely girl with a hard-core cup noodle diet, summons Kokkuri-san. He decides to haunt her (he, like her, is very lonely -- but it doesn't seem to bother Kohina) and do something about her diet.
It's fun enough, but never ha-ha funny. All the jokes between Kohina and Kokkuri are done in the first episode, so I guess in the second episode the writers need to introduce new characters to keep things moving. It just didn't work that well.

Tribe Cool Crew: Haneru is into dancing (and parkour). He practices his dance moves in a secret spot, where he can check his reflection in the windows. Unknown to him, Kanon uses that room to practice her dancing too -- she uploads her dancing videos under the pseudonym 'Rythm' (and she wears a small mask, so no-one ever recognises her). Haneru thinks it would be really nice to dance together!
This airs on Sunday morning at 07:00 AM -- so you know the target audience is quite young. It's not to our tastes, but the CGI dance sequences are pretty smooth. I wonder how many scraped knees this is going to give when they try to parkour their way to school like Haneru...

Garo: Hono no Kokuin: In a fantasy kingdom, a campaign is started to eradicate witches. But unknown to the general population, witches are the ones to keep demons in check -- demons who can take the form of the people they kill. Hypothetically, they could even take the guise of the king's chief advisor... One woman gives birth as she is about to be executed, and this baby is taken away. Seventeen years later, he is Garo, who packs quite a punch in his golden armour...
The plot reminds me a bit of Claymore, but Garo is set more in cities and villages and castles. It's an interesting series with some great over-the-top fighting scenes.
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juggling
Oct. 9th, 2014 @ 10:28 pm Making macarons
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Tags:
After some experimenting, I now have a good recipe to bake the macaron shells. It's a bit finnicky, so it took a few tries to get to a recipe that works with our tools (and mostly the oven).

Making macarons: photosCollapse )
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curry ga dekita!
Oct. 8th, 2014 @ 09:27 pm New anime
Current Mood: mellowmellow
Okami Shoujo to Kuro Oji: At the first day of highschool, Erika is desperate to fit in. So when she hears two girls in her class talk about their boyfriends, she pretends she has one too. This gets out of hand, and she is pestered to provide photo proof... She snaps a phone pic of a pretty boy on the street, but then it turns out that he goes to their school as well! He agrees to play her boyfriend, but only if she does everything what he wants. And the thing he wants is a dog: a loyal creature...
Somewhere during school, I figured that I'd never be popular, so I just quit trying. So wanting to fit in is a bit of an alien concept to me. And this is a real disaster waiting to happen -- unless the two of them really grow closer and get together. Will they? Probably -- but it'll be a bumpy ride...

Grisaia no Kajitsu: Yuji is some kind of military type, but he requested to be transferred to a normal school. He gets placed in a school that will accomodate someone of his qualities -- so not that normal at all, but the principal is determined to call it normal. There are five other students, and they are all girls with their own secrets and quirks. We get to see their panties, but the fan-service is equal opportunity, because Yuji's butt gets enough air-time as well.
It's a harem anime, but it's clear there's more going on than just one guy surrounded by multiple girls. The first episode gives us only introductions, so it remains to be seen how this one develops. Could be intense and interesting, or could devolve quickly. Too early to say.
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Kashira? Kashira? Gozonji Kashira?