Cool Links for the Last Week of May 2012

Cool Links Art and Media Character Creation DnD Sci-fi in the News

Most of Intwischa’s best traffic is sent to us by other gaming blogs, and several bloggers have been kind enough to provide commentary or links to one of our articles (and, by extension, grant us a traffic bump). With that in mind, I’d like to share with you some articles that I bookmarked from the previous week, as well as some reflections I have on the posts.

For this week’s post on cool stuff from around the web, I’m gluing together bits of private space flight, pre-generated characters, and pushing the envelope!

SpaceX, The Financial Frontier

I don’t know if you’ve been following the news, but the world’s first commercial spacecraft completed its assigned mission (i.e. “job”) on May 31st- just in time to qualify for this post!  The success of this private enterprise has been hailed as “a pioneering mission for commercial firms seeking a major role in space travel.” (Irene Klotz, Chicago Tribune)  As for me?  All I can think is “I bet this is how Hugo Drax got his start…”

Ok, so I may have watched way too many Bond movies growing up.  That random fear got me thinking, however, about how cool it would be to play the crew of a manned corporate starship trying to navigate the infinite depths of space.  In my mind, that seed has rapidly become a dangerous mix of our nautical D&D campaign and the complete run of Firefly.  (To be honest, most of our campaigns somehow end up a dangerous mix of “Ingredient X” and the complete run of Firefly.  All together now: NERDS!)

My nerdy shame was tempered recently while researching the details of the “Dragon” capsule’s mission, when I stumbled upon the post below from The Gassy Gnoll.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who saw the accomplishments of SpaceX as fertile gaming fodder.  Add that to the fact that they invoked the titles “Dresden Files RPG”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, and “John Carter of Mars” in rapid succession, and I couldn’t bookmark this page fast enough.

Here’s hoping you do the same!

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Playing a Made Man (or Lady?!)

We ran into a classic RPG dilemma late last month around the Intwischa gaming table.  Our ongoing Pathfinder campaign was going to add another character, and we had reached a natural spot to recruit said adventurer.  (And by natural spot, of course, I mean the local tavern.)  With such a golden opportunity for a new player to join, the inscrutable question got asked: Does someone have a character I can play?

So we set to scouring the internet, with all the laptops and technical expertise at our disposal.  It took longer than we thought, but eventually we found Heidi’s Level 4 human druid sitting in a darkened corner thinking about trees.

Since it didn’t match the system we were playing, the cool page of pre-generated characters that I discovered that evening was no help.  However, I quickly tagged it in my favorites so I could share it with all of you!  Intended for D&D 4E games, this link should be great help if you want to add a character to an existing game, get a party started on a one-shot adventure, or throw in an unexpected NPC during a campaign.  Thanks Dungeon’s Master!

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Pushing a Very Old Envelope

As more and more of our possessions find a place in our new home, my wife and I keep putting off the same decision we’ve been avoiding for a week.  Where exactly do we put Judith?

More specifically, where do we hang my framed print of “Judith and the Head of Holofernes” by Gustav Klimt?  A gripping portrait by one of my favorite artists, it depicts the outcome of a pretty grisly tale taken from the Book of Judith, which appears in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible.  When Holofernes, a ruthless Assyrian general, threatens to destroy her home town, the beautiful widow Judith goes to his camp, enters his tent, gets him drunk… then lops off his head.  This morbid souvenir is featured prominently in the print.

This gruesome scene isn’t what’s instigating the debate at our house though.  The real trouble is that Judith’s left breast is exposed, nipple and all, right there in front of God and everybody.  Never mind that she’s holding a severed head, the open eye of which stares eerily into your soul.  We’re more concerned with a Hebrew heroine’s mammary gland.

When did violence and gore become so mundane that we prefer it to the natural beauty of the uncovered female form?  Why would I consider for a moment that guests to my home would prefer a severed head to an intact breast?  Have I been so de-sensitized by Hollywood?  Video games?  Heavy metal? Or is it that age-old purveyor of filth “Dungeons & Dragons”?  (It always sounds more sinister when you call it by its full name, if my mother is any judge.)

This is exactly the question Michael Karkabe-Olson seeks an answer to in his recent post at HouseRules4DND.  Amidst threats from Wizards of the Coast to ‘sanitize’ the violence in the imagery of D&D Next, Michael wonders if there isn’t some intrinsic value to gamers and the game in depicting fantasy violence in a less-than-tidy manner.

Spoiler Alert: He decides there is!  And I wholeheartedly agree.  Great argument, Michael; hope somebody at WotC is listening.

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