Thank you for bringing me so much joy for decades!
Remember when I backed a comic on Kickstarter for (I think) the first time? That comic was Runners: The Big Snow Job by Sean Wang, and I got the PDF a while back. My backing level also included a PDF of Runners: Bad Goods, so I re-read that and then dove into the new one. And folks, it’s a lot of fun.
Science fiction doesn’t really do a great job in modern comics. It’s often either licensed-property driven or swathed in the usual dour, joyless, ever-so-serious malarky that plagues so many modern mainstream comics. Runners, however, is a fun ride, and while there are definitely touches that will remind you of Star Wars or Firefly, I think it mostly pulls its own weight. I love the artwork, too! (It’s less cartoony as the image above, but still quite playful.)
Now you’re wishing YOU had backed the Kickstarter but all is not lost! You can now buy your very own copies of these books from Sean Wang’s website! I got the PDFs and can verify that they look and read great on a tablet.
If you’re looking for a fun, exciting, and attractive sci-fi comic, then you need to…RUN…to Sean’s website and check out Runners. You’ll be glad you did.
Two weeks should have been too short an amount of time for an assassination investigation to hit a brick wall. Assassinations, traditionally, weren’t much of a problem to solve because usually the culprit or group had no problem taking credit. Assassinations were usually political statements, and the kinds of people who made them craved their signature at the bottom of them. So to have a high-ranking official murdered and no one (save the usual bunch who claimed credit for everything) stepping up to boast about the feat was unusual.
This particular assassination was also notable because it was one that had been expected for some time. Ever since Roe v. Wade had passed it was assumed that one side or the other would kill off a Supreme Court Justice in order to tip the court in their favor. With each controversial ruling the possibility had seemed more and more likely, yet had not manifested. Oh, there’d certainly been threats, some more potent than others, but nothing like what FBI Agent Maddie Connors was looking at now.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court hadn’t been killed by some lone nut. He was expertly shot in the head with a high-powered rifle from a distance that implied some expensive tools at the assassin’s disposal. Whoever had done this had entrusted it to an expert, one who had the knowledge and skill to not only complete the job but avoid leaving behind even the subtle clues to his identity.
As for the Chief Justice himself, there didn’t seem to be much to go on. Justice Brown was a respected legal mind who had originally made a name for himself as a crafty young lawyer. His keen mind and persuasive arguments made his star rise quickly until he found himself Attorney General of Florida. There he was involved in a number of high-profile cases, involving finally putting away “Natty Nat”, a well-dressed armed robber who had plagued the state for years. Brown’s vast knowledge of the law identified him as one of the pre-eminent legal minds in the country, and even though he was known for his conservative stance, his nomination to the Chief Justice spot went smoothly. Of course, anyone who could boast the kind of legal career Brown had would also have an accompanying list of enemies: gangsters, crooked politicians, killers, criminals both large- and small-time. Supposedly an entire wing of the Florida State Penitentiary had erupted in cheers when the news of the assassination had been announced.
But the case hadn’t given Agent Connors anything to point to any of these possibly culprits, even obliquely. The President demanded a suspect, but she and her colleagues had absolutely nothing at this point. They were checking on some minor pieces of information, but no one was hopeful that any of them would lead anywhere.
Connors went through the morning’s mail, most of it being progress reports that didn’t report much progress. One envelope caught her eye, though, but only because it was so nondescript. No return address, but it was postmarked in Florida. Her mail was regularly scanned, so it was harmless, but she felt drawn to it. She opened it up and unfolded the contents to reveal only a single word: “IDAVILLE”.
She knew this word. She’d seen it recently, but wasn’t sure where. She did a Google search and found it to be a small town in Florida. That was it: Idaville was where Chief Justice Brown had been born and raised. Someone was suggesting the town may hold a clue, but did Brown have enemies going that far back?
Within a few minutes she handed the letter, now placed in a plastic evidence bag, to one of her lab workers. “I want to know who sent this. It’s now your top priority. Once you know, send me a text. I’m headed down to Florida.”
When I first mentioned the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game I talked about how it had done something no other game had ever done: made me consider buying a copy to play solo. I did that and this weekend I decided to start a solo campaign.
The basic set contains a small adventure: Perils of the Lost Coast, which contains three scenarios (think of a scenario as a single session of play. An adventure is a collection of related scenarios, and an Adventure Path is a collection of Adventures.) Saturday I took on “Brigandoom!”, the first scenario in the Perils of the Lost Coast.
My three heroes were Kyra (Cleric), Valeros (Fighter), and Ezren (Wizard). I wanted a well-rounded crew. Kyra had incredibly useful healing powers, Valeros could just plain kick butt, and Ezren had some nice skills that let him search faster. I gave them all basic weapons, spells, and such, and sent them off to right wrongs in the world of Pathfinderia, or whatever this place is called.
Sorry, I didn’t realize the pics I took were so lousy.
Anyway, here’s the object of the game, in a nutshell. There are five locations, each of which has a deck of things to encounter. One thing in each deck is either the big bad or one of his henchmen. If you find and defeat a henchman, you can try to “close” the location, which is making it completely safe. If you find the villain and another location is still open, even if you defeat him he’ll run away and you’ll have to search for him again. So you want to close all the locations to corner him and then take him down. All of this is being timed: there’s a deck of 30 blessing cards and each turn you flip a new one. If that runs out, you’ve failed the scenario. (All this means is you didn’t win. You don’t die; that only happens if a character’s deck runs out of cards.)
Kyra started out in the Woods, and didn’t take too long to find and defeat a Henchman. However, she botched her die roll and failed to close the location. This is particularly sucks because the only way to try again is to clear it out, and time’s a-wasting. Similarly, Valeros failed to close his location, a Farmhouse. Two failures to close means no coffee for this bunch. However, Ezren won the steak knives by successfully looting and closing the Academy (it was full of spells, and he can tear through such a location pretty easily.)
Kyra got down to one card and had to heal herself. Valeros got whomped for 5 damage from a damn skeleton and lost his whole hand (hand of cards, not his grabbin’ hand). He also found an Icy Longspear +1, but it was one of the cards he had to discard for damage. Things were not looking good.
Ezren had moved to the Waterfront, and a Detect Magic spell had allowed him to find (but not encounter) the Villain there. This was huge, because now we knew exactly where he was and just had to close the other locations. Valeros finally managed to clear out the Farmhouse on the third try, and Kyra made it through and closed out the Woods. All that was left was the Wooden Bridge (I had forgotten a rule that would have made this easier, as we’ll see in a bit.) Kyra and Valeros managed to close off the Wooden Bridge and Ezren went in for the kill.
With the help of his Acolyte ally and his Sage’s Journal, Ezren blasted Jubrayl Vhiski with a Force Missile, ending his evildoing once and for all. The heroes were victorious and “Brigandoom!” was completed.
In addition to the cards they picked up during the game, the reward for completing this scenario was a random item. Here are the victors with their spoils:
I then had to reset their decks. Each character starts out only being able to have so many weapons, armor, etc, and I had to figure out what they’d keep from their adventure and what would go. They could also trade stuff between each other. Valeros kept the Icy Longspear +1, ditching a regular old Longspear that he now had nothing but contempt for. Ezren’s Acolyte replaced a basic ally, and Kyra, now knowing a little more about what was out there, swapped some spells around.
On Sunday morning I went ahead and did the second scenario, “The Poison Pill”. This one actually went very fast, as we got super lucky with finding the henchmen. The villain, one Pillbug Podiker, did get away from us at one point, but it didn’t take long for the group to corner him and bring him to justice…magic justice! In fact, it went by so quick that we didn’t really score a lot of PH4T L3WT from the scenario, other than the random weapon as a reward. (Here’s where the game is like an video game. If I felt that I didn’t get enough stuff to really prepare for the next scenario, I could have run this one again, essentially grinding it for equipment.)
Unsatisfied, I went ahead and stormed into the third and final scenario of the introductory adventure, “Black Fang’s Dungeon”. Black Fang is a dragon, so I knew this would not be too easy. It wasn’t, and this was the scenario that was the most intense. Kyra’s healing power got a workout on everyone, and we also used a couple of healing potions we found. Black Fang was discovered and defeated but again, without closed locations, he ran off. This time I remembered a key rule: when you encounter the Villain, characters at other locations can attempt to temporarily close them, essentially barring the door so the Villain can’t flee there. With three locations still open, everyone low on cards, and only a handful of turns remaining, the party split up, knowing that whoever found Black Fang first could fight him, and the other two could temporarily close their spots. It was risky, since everyone was hurting; I was hoping we’d just run out of time and fail before anyone died. Ezren found Black Fang, the other two successfully closed where they were, and the Wizard defeated the dragon. We had barely made it.
The reward for finishing this scenario was a random card of a type you chose. Ezren and Kyra got spells, Valeros went for armor. But that wasn’t all. We’d not only completed the scenario but the adventure, and we got a reward for that as well! A skill feat!
Here’s Valeros’ character card. Right now, his Strength roll is a d10, and his Melee roll is Strength + 3. With a skill feat, I could check, for example, the first box under Strength (THAT’S RIGHT, WRITING ON THE CARD, BAY-BEE!) to change my Strength check to a d10+1 (and my Melee d10+4). Which I may do, or I may up his Dexterity to make him better at ranged weapons. I haven’t decided yet.
I had loads of fun with the solo game, and not too many rules issues (I had been told that a good source for FAQs and card rulings was www.commonsense.you, and that was pretty much right.) Each scenario took about an hour or so to play, and tweaking the decks between didn’t take very long. Granted, I already more or less knew how to play from playing over at Matt’s. My team did well, and the MVP for this adventure goes to Ezren, who was just a force of nature. In fact, you could say that no one was…(puts on sunglasses)…better than Ezren
The Basic Set comes with the first adventure in a big adventure path, “Burnt Offerings”. It’s kind of a busy week this week and I need to do some of the things I didn’t do this weekend cause I was busy Pathfinding, so I don’t know when I’ll get started on that, but I’m looking forward to it a bunch. I don’t know that I’m converted to solo boardgaming now, but this one really satisfies.
Shared bookmarks for delicious user
- Meet the Somalis | Open Society Foundations (OSF)
Comic strips about Somali refugees in Europe
Tagged as: [comics war culture]
- ‘You Can Sleep Here All Night’: Video Games and Labor | Jacobin
Come for the critique of the video game industry, stay for the realization that all industries are looking to follow this model.
Tagged as: [work games]
- “We have a radical philosophy:” The right-wing plot to stop the public option – Salon.com
Remember when these same people laughed at Hillary Clinton’s "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" remark?
Tagged as: [politics health money media]
- Wal-Mart: An economic cancer on our cities – Salon.com
Walmarts and their ilk are poisons that take more away than they provide.
Tagged as: [business money]
- Somebody to Talk To
On November 11, we should not thank veterans of combat. We should apologize to them.
Tagged as: [war crime]
- EXCLUSIVE: Volkswagen Isn’t Fighting Unionization—But Leaked Docs Show Right-Wing Groups Are – Working In These Times
There isn’t a single sentence in this story that isn’t miserable.
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- Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism | Alex Andreou | Comment is free | theguardian.com
The most important thing OWS has done is chip away at the facade of Capitalism.
Tagged as: [ows money]
- Holy Hell: Tanya Donelly Talks About Belly (20 Years Later!) | Spectrum Culture
I don’t usually read interviews, but this is one of my favorite albums.
Tagged as: [music interview]
I pre-ordered the new Arcade Fire album, Reflektor, and it released on October 28. Between the first event and the second, I heard the first single off of it, the title track, and it sort of…gave me pause. The new album is produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, and has a much different sound from their previous efforts.
I was nervous about this one, and I put off listening to it until earlier this week. That initial listen was not good. Still, I’ve liked their other albums, so it deserved another listen, which it got yesterday. That second listen was better, but still not great.
Sure, there’s the fact that the album is more “dance-y” than previous ones, an aesthetic I don’t usually much go for (though I’ve listened to a lot of the new Janelle Monae album). And that sound, for me, kind of struggles with the bombast of the Arcade Fire. But even if one could remove that element, the bombast is…well, it’s pretty goddamn bombastic, even for a band that released “Wake Up”. Each song is 27 miles long and realy goes full tilt in every way, looking to establish its importance through sheer brute force. One would think that the odd production would lighten the mood a bit, it only underlines and bolds the pomposity.
Now, I admire a band that wants to try new stuff, and sometimes that stuff isn’t going to work for all listeners. In my case, dance music isn’t what I’m looking to get when I listen to Arcade Fire and Arcade Fire isn’t what I want to listen to when I want dance music. But beyond that, when the album ended and a different Arcade Fire album came on, I found that tedious after a bit as well. Maybe it was the fact that I’d just listened to an album of theirs that was longer than many military stints, or maybe there’s really just only so much Arcade Fire I need.
Some thought this would be tackled in TRON: Legacy, but apparently they were saving it for a bigger project, TRON: Origin. Behold!
Orange Origin! Summer 2014!