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Half Full

It was one of those days, or rather weeks. My daughter has a nasty cold. I toasted my laptop today. A small publisher has told me they can't pay me (at least they're honest about it).

What else? The new Dragon ecology article is a bit of a dud. That's a bit of a shame. While a small part of me is happy that the Big Guys are making KQ look good by comparison, I had very high hopes for the online incarnations of the classic periodicals. So far, they're not meeting those hopes, but I'm in no position to complain about material they offer for free. Kim, Chris, Bart and the gang have months to figure out a new online/PDF formula before they start charging anyone for it.

Despite small disappointments, I'm in an unreasonably good mood. I'm writing. I've shed a few pounds. Three presents I bought myself showed up in the mail (a macabre seal, a Cthulhoid Mayan art piece, and a fine silver coin). I'm reading light-but-fun books. Boris Akunin's Turkish Gambit was exactly the sort of thing you'd love, if you loved 19th century Russian/Turkish war murder mysteries with romantic subplots and load of period flavor. Scott Lynch's Red Sails Under Red Skies is a great caper novel. And it made me laugh.

And fall is here, cold and red and wet. Time to curl up with an ablative coating of paper, and rustle the pages until spring.

Comments

( 20 sutras — Your wisdom )
mark_gedak
Oct. 5th, 2007 04:06 am (UTC)
RE: Death Knight
I completely agree that the Death Knight ecology was in uninspiring.
sadrx
Oct. 5th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC)
I was actually surprised to read your comments on the ecology article after having read it myself. Looking back on it now, I do have to admit it to remembering that it was poorly written and repetitive, but I was surprised by your appraisal as a "dud" because I finished the article having genuinely enjoyed it. I probably enjoyed it because it was inspiring, and I was thinking about death knights in my game the whole time rather than focusing on the specifics of the article. The article might not be something I'd pay to read, given its craftsmanship, but the ideas in it hit home with me.

I suppose you can't comment further, though, least Matthew Sernett find the journal -- professional courtesy and all that.
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
I expect Matthew can take the knocks as well as the praise. I've certainly lauded his amazing work on the Advanced Bestiary often enough, to anyone who will listen. And the historical bits were nice, but..

It just had repetition, very little crunch, and a lower level of craft than I expected. I think I need to reset my mental bar a little.
weezlgrrrl
Oct. 5th, 2007 08:50 am (UTC)
Okay this has nothing to do with your post...but do you think Heidi is old enough to like clambering around on inflatable slides and bouncy things and chowing birthday cake? Fenris's birthday is coming up at Pump it Up, and even really little dudes and dudettes seem to have a blast there. Let me know if you're interested and I'll send details. It's going to be Friday, October 19th. I think. OH and Fenris loves littler kids, and he's super-sweet to them. Unless they are his brother.
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
We'll try to be there!
humbleminion
Oct. 5th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Have to agree on the Ecology. It came across as more of a preview/ad for 4th ed rather than an actual article on Death Knights - I can't see it having much re-use value once the new edition is released. And the perspective issues on the main piece of art made me cringe. And in general terms, the "3.Xe was slow and silly and cumbersome and crap!" angle that is getting worked into every single 4e preview article is beginning to become more than a little wearing...

While on the subject of periodicals - I bought issue 2 of KQ yesterday. As far as feedback goes: I really liked the paladin variant class features variant and the honorary aristocrat levels rule, I didn't find the interview or the Ed Greenwood article particularly useful, and while I haven't done any playtesting, the assassin base class (and I do agree one was needed to replace the spellcasting version in the DMG) seems at a glance to be considerably overpowered as written (and the possibility of having a PC die due to a single botched 'assassinate' roll is something I wouldn't allow anywhere near my table - that stuff is for playing out). Belphegor was interesting, flavoursome, and well-written, but not something that I can see myself actually using a great deal during a game. The cover picture was nothing short of great, and is now my official monster art next time I need to show my players what a nightwing looks like.

I bought the issue for the ecology, since they're one of my favourite critters and a cabal of class-levelled greater barghests who prey on godlings and other powerful outsiders will be replacing the ur-priests in Scuttlecove when my Savage Tide campaign reaches that point. Mixed bag, really. Some of the background was wonderfully evocative, and the new feats add an entire new dimension to the creature, but the article as a whole is aimed, for obvious reasons, at lower-level characters than I plan to be using it against (not a criticism, just an observation), and the art style wasn't to my taste. There are a few editing mistakes too, particularly in the sample character description (size contradiction between the stat block and the fluff text, reference to a 'Great Hunt' that seems as if it should have been detailed elsewhere in the article, the odd grammatical error).

All up, worth the (cheap!) price, but not absolutely compelling. I'll probably buy at least some future issues, conditional on whether the content of a specific issue is useful to my campaign.
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
All useful feedback, thank you!
siobharek
Oct. 5th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't know that the Ecology article was that bad. I've certainly seen equally (un-)inspiring articles in printed issues. And the clickable and very large images were a huge plus. I could easily see myself creating an ever-growing image bank if Dragon continues doing that.

As for the lack of quality in the article, I would have liked to see a feat or three. Another special ability. A magic item. And some clues on how to fight a death knight and how to run one. But I chalk that up to everybody at WotC being so focused on 4e that they've forgotten there's still a system to support for the next year.

And THAT is the real shame of it.
kenjelinek
Oct. 5th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
Images
If you hadn't mentioned the image thumbnails, I'd have never given them a second look. The ability to click and get a larger pic is actually one of the advantages of the online medium that I'm glad they implemented. After all, if you're like me, you've drooled for an opportunity to make this printed cover or piece of art your wallpaper at work (Boss, my blood type has two D's and an ampersand!), so it's nice.

However, this ecology article just wasn't...sagacious. It seemed like the result of an eleventh-hour brainstorming session that involved a lot of Post-It™ notes that were just kind of used as spurs for word count. But, as Wolf says, they've got time to improve.

Lastly, since I said it to one of my good friends the other day, I do wish they'd stop pointing out how horrible 3.5 is when we don't have 4th edition yet. It's like being reminded your car or house is a jelopy when the reminder knows full well you can't just go out and replace it. (Well, I could, but I'm no sunshine missionary.)
valmiras
Oct. 5th, 2007 12:22 pm (UTC)
Hope the little one gets to feeling better.

And fall here is still in the mid eighties!
scarlettina
Oct. 5th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Time to curl up with an ablative coating of paper, and rustle the pages until spring.

You must be some kind of writer guy, with all those pretty words. :-)
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for making me smile. The writing has been going well, and you know what a state of grace that can be.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
While I live near the ocean, cetaceans are not on my list of "likely pets". :)

grubbstreet
Oct. 5th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)
Quest for the Macabre Seal
Bad news - Seals are Pinnipeds, of the order Carnivora. Whales are Cetaceans

Jeff
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Quest for the Macabre Seal
You're just making my quest harder, but I will not be stopped!!!1!

:P
the_monkey_king
Oct. 5th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
The seal is one of metal, used to make wax impressions, and is a memento mori with an alchemical twist. They are made by a calligrapher that Shelly introduced me to. The sheer weight of the thing surprised me, actually. It looks like this:



The Mayan artpiece is called "El Profundo", and arrived in a box from Miskatonic University, filled with excelsior and a wonderful casting. It looks like this:


Given the nose to the grindstone work of the last few months, I'm very pleased with the quality of both of these.
shellyinseattle
Oct. 5th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
Here's the link for other very high quality seals (and sealing wax), also by Atelier Gargoyle:

http://www.ateliergargoyle.com/pages/sealgallery1.html
richgreen01
Oct. 8th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
I'm waiting for Red Sails Under Red Skies to come out in standard paperback format so I can carry it to work, but The Lies of Locke Lamora, also by Scott Lynch, is the best fantasy novel I've read in quite some time. Highly recommended!
( 20 sutras — Your wisdom )

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