Ten Things a Moderately Influential Warlord does!

  1. A moderately influential warlord is only as influential as he is capable at the task of carving up his colleagues, i.e. other warlords. This one would be one hell of a stickler for the collegial spirit; and when I say that, I mean that his belief in killing warlords in order to consume their spirit is deeply held.
  2. The best Warlords are masters at the art of war. This one, while adept at killing, often finds himself blundering his way through the finer points of war — tactics are one thing, strategy–something else entirely. What’re these tiny wooden figurines doing on his dining table, anyway?! Better remove them before the roasted pig servings arrive, else he’ll swing one thick arm and break them all!
  3. His influence can reach high places…but more often than not, it does so as a joke than as threats that kings would flinch at. The moderately influential warlord isn’t aware of this, of course but if he was, he would use his axe as way of diplomacy.
  4. The Moderately Influential Warlord is not apt at the art of diplomacy.
  5. Much can be said about his moderation; but not where alcohol figures. In that here topic, our warlord is most impressive indeed. Why, he could outdrink a squadron of heavily outfitted dwarves; and we all know that all dwarven warriors are drunks.
    Except for Bub. Bub hasn’t had a drink since his fourth wife left him. I’m worried about the poor guy, he’s been through a lot since that happened.
  6. A warlord like ours, he’s good at leading a small population but ambition is far from his mind (if we were to accept that he had a mind, which is a questionable hypothesis on several different levels). That is why he serves this here old king Patrick, for Patrick has treated him well and with some respect, unlike all other monarchs nearby our warlord’s lands.
  7. This here warlord is moderately emotional, as well; ’tis why he tears up so at the news of ye ole’ king Patrick’s death and succession.
  8. Sorrow is a tough emotion to crack, and a confusing one at that. How’s our warlord to let go of it? Simple enough; as he oh-so-often does, he’ll bathe that beautiful axe in blood. The handles, made of ivory are more thirsty than ever, and it is his great pleasure to feed them!
  9. After a good slaughter, a warrior like this one is all too happy to take a romp in his quarters; it’s up to a few certain types of women to go off with a man such as he, all muscles covered in blood and gore — but in a culture that often births moderately successful warlords these types of women are never far away!
  10. But the thirst for vengeance is not yet sated. Funny old thing, that — desire for vengeance sometimes ends up ruining perfectly good mediocre warlords. Sometimes…it gives birth to far scarier men, intent on taking it out on would-be successors.

 

Hello, Monday! For some strange reason, I’m feeling less than motivated today…whatever could it be? Oh, well! Take heed, kids! Keep at it, even when you feel like crap!

Sunday ComiX: The Morally Ambiguous (Sometime) X-Men!

Sundays are for…struggling with the morality of questionable characters who occasionally take part in the X-Men roster!

Bit of a stretch? Oh, well. Let’s start it off with my most favorite character in comic books, drum roll, please…

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Max Eisenhardt aka Erik Magnus Lensherr aka MAGNETO, MASTER OF MAGNETISM: Absolute madman, whose POWERS OVER MAGNETISM™ can allow him to do just about anything you can think of, at this point; enjoys spending time with strong, independent women, killing Nazis, and forging a better world for all mutants.

He’s the best.

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Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth: Like Wolverine, but more of a kitten, and meaner; except when Wolverine is dead — then, Sabretooth ends up filling his shoes…weird, I know; something about losing your best worst frenemy and changing your ways and whatnot; I couldn’t tell you what it’s all about, nope.

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Raven Darkholme aka Mystique: Think of her as an evil, shape-shifting Black Widow without any of the morality  (yup, I went there); she got married to Charles Xavier at some point recently and no one knows how that happened; also, Mystique doesn’t hold onto most grudges, on account of her brain subtly changing whenever she shifts, her personality and memories with it; she’s slept with most mutants in the X-Men universe in one reality or another, and for good reason.

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James Bradley aka Dr. Nemesis: This one is a lot less popular, but has been playing an on and off-again supporting role in several X-Men comic books over the past decade; he’s a scientist who was born in the dawn of the 20th century; here’s where it gets complicated because it was Dr. Nemesis himself that delivered the Dr. Nemesis baby…time travel is complicated and ridiculous and I love it; he and Magneto share love for hunting Nazis, and also, he’s intelligent enough to increase his longevity!

Fascinating man, this one. Wonder what delivering yourself does to you…

 

Well, that’s it for today’s Sunday Comix X-Men Definitions! Watch out for more next week!

 

Saturday Night Gaming: Pyre #01

Supergiant games deliver yet again.

That makes for three outstanlion p kdiglng, visually stunning –breathtaking, even — games, each three years apart from the other, starting with Bastion, transitioning with Transistor and now, the largest of them all, Pyre.

I have played too little of Pyre since it came out on Tuesday (July 25). Not enough, certainly, to construct an in-depth analysis of the mechanics of the strange, fascinating sport-like combat system; nor to talk about the different route choices, the leveling system or several other aspects I would love to take a y look at.

What I can tell you is that Pyre is beautiful. Breath-taking; and yes, I realise I repeat myself, but I can’t accent that nearly enough. I would put each of the landscapes hanging on my wall as posters.

It’s no small thing, that – I don’t own any posters at all.

The story is very easy to get into, and although the narrative takes something of a backseat this time around, it’s not for lacking in plot. To the contrary, there is now more written speech between characters (and more characters overall) than in any of the two previous games by Supergiant.

The music – fantastic in so many ways, once again written by Darren Korb…although I might have that last name wrong. I’ll be sure to check and react it a few hours from now, in the comfort of my home.

Next week, I will go more in-depth in many of those aspects I glossed over. Look forward to it!

Thursday Recommendation: Half a King

Joe Abercrombie is a master of subverting expectations.

I have yet to touch Abercrombie’s most well-known work, the First Law trilogy, although I have only heard good — Nay, great — things about it. Now that I’ve read the first book in the Shattered Sea trilogy, I am more than looking forward to that experience.

Half a King is just this good. The tale of Prince Yarvi, cripple king twice betrayed, is not a light one by any means. Cruelty will be your near-constant companion, and descriptions of filth and stench and the near-unfathomable depths of human hatred described will surprise on more than one occasion.

At its heart however it is a book about camraderie, friendship and loyalty. Loyalty to a myriad of oaths of vengeance, often enough…but loyalty none the less.

Let’s see what our characters are like…We’ve got:

  • a merry band of slaves running away from their owner;
  • a likable main character by the name of Yarvi who learns cunning and survivability the hard way;
  • unexpected growth in characters who seem sleazy and selfish to begin with;
  • plot twists enough to make you step with one leg in the grave;
  • and more!

Half a King is an emotional tale of a young man finding hidden reserves within himself, strength enough to survive where few in his place would, time and time again — all to take vengeance on a monstrous act of betrayal.

I bought it in a Kindle Deal of the Day for $2 dollars on a whim, and at the recognition of Abercrombie’s name; if I knew I’d enjoy it this much, I would’ve bought it long ago, for its full price.

A warning, though — the beginning is somewhat slow, and it took me a few chapters to get hooked. As soon as that first major plot twist happens — that’s when I was in for the long haul.

I am very much looking forward to reading the second part in the trilogy!

The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Vol. 08 — No Patricide goes Unpunished

Read the previous Volume here.

Diary Entry #0160

I am told that  I have entered the first of many identical free human kingdoms. This one shares a border with mine lands. That is what makes it special. Bah, humans are strange folk. So glad am I that I no longer fill their ranks that I could incinerate a dragon with but a blink!

The stench of mine wife of before grows ever-stronger. We are a mere few days away from catching up with her. She smelled well, once. Her perfumes were sweet beyond measure, beyond imagining. She enjoyed the flustered looks of men fool-enough to take a breath within her sweetly vapors, mere moments before they expired.

What man could not love such a woman?

Diary Entry #0161

The trolls I adopted unto mine armies in mine infinite army have once again tried to eat a village. Not even the villagers, this time. The damnable brutes started munching on buildings as we passed by. I found myself forced to summarily execute them.

The structures within the village were historic! Fifty years old, I hear. I felt that the villagers deserved some recompense for the grief given to them, and so I turned all their elders into statues of pure gold.

They did not seem too pleased with this development.

I couldn’t imagine why.

Diary Entry #0164

We have come upon a wondrous and most tranquil pond, which feeds into the great river Kraln, that gives easy access to the very shores of the continent, and I find myself considering the very real possibility of plundering this kingdom single-handed and turning this land to near-eternal darkness.

These notions are premature, I reckon — there is yet the thunder to be reclaimed. It must be safely brought back in mine citadel. Only then will I–what’s this? I hear the blunder of idiot horse-creatures coming towards mine camp. They will not enjoy mine great mercy for this interruption!

Diary Entry #0165

A princeling and its servants attempted to run through mine camp with their filthy animals. Whilst I reacted with great alacrity and cut into a squadron of these pampered noble-born, some of mine young lads lacked such experience.

Twoscore of mine loyal subjects have died. A dozen of those were promising Librarians…there can be no forgiveness for such crime.

This land will burn. It will all burn.

I did not kill the wretched princeling. He was damn skilled for a human, I will grant him that; I did leave him a parting gift, however — something to remind the boy what is coming for him.

A cut across that face will certainly serve that function.

Diary Entry #0166

I have learned that the man to have attacked mine loyal band of servants has recently killed his father and has taken to calling himself king.

He will have difficulty doing so with no tongue. Patricide fills me with disgust I can not logically explain. I will punish this fool boy in the stead of this dead father.

But first, my thunder and my wife await!

Ex. Ex-wife.

 

 

 

Writing Advice: Humor

Humor is one of the fundamental ingredients in any story. From horror to drama to epic fantasy – no matter the genre, there’s always time to lighten up the tension with a healthy dose of humor!

Humor can be a genre in itself, as well – Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are two masters who use sci-fi and fantasy, respectively, in order to showcase brilliant wit and insight about human nature.

They don’t use slapstick comedy, opting instead for dialogue-based and narrative humor. What I mean by narrative humor is

The humor I enjoy is the kind that surprises me. That’s the kind of humor that I tend to write — I take situations that should be familiar to my readers (tropes, clichés and so on and so forth), and I spin them around in a way that is clever, bizarre or even outrageous.

Write what you find funny, write what makes you laugh. Then check it and double-check it; don’t underestimate the power of analysis. Having someone read your writing later and weighing that person’s reaction is a sure way to discover whether something is funny. If you’ve got a few loyal readers– even better!

For those of you who prefer everything neat and tidy, you might like Scott Adams’ six elements of humor:

  • Cute
  • Cruel
  • Naughty
  • Recognizable
  • Bizarre
  • Clever

These elements can offer a lot of information, but they won’t magically help in crunching out tomes upon tomes of humorous writing. They very much aid analysis, however. Here’s a simple piece of advice on writing them!

Set your complicated jokes up early on, lay a strong foundation and build them up. That way, the payback is all the sweeter!

And don’t forget — always, always, always surprise your audience!

Top Ten Things I would do if I were a Dazzlingly Hot Prince in a Fantasy Realm!

  1. Look at my reflection on every possible orifice in my luxurious manor or castle – mirror, guard armor, pond – you name it, if it reflects my face, I will stare at it for hours!
  2. Save any and every helpless princess I can find *authorly groan*, marry her and consecutively order her assassination. I am charming, after all– but not kind-hearted. Not by far.
  3.  Father enough wee bastards to make my own polo team.
  4.  Win several border skirmishes against enemies on all sides — The EVIL Dark Lord and his minions on the northeast; the annoying elves and their Tyrant to the northeast; monsters of darkness and unimaginable nightmare all throughout the west…and worst of all, other human kingdoms to the west and to the south.
  5.  I’ve been told that I have also won battles against dwarves under mountains…but I have never deemed to look below my belt to see the truth of these claims.
  6.  No wars, however. Those would take far too much of my “me” time. This dazzling smile, these stunning cheekbones…they take a lot of care, you know. A lot of virgin blood, also.
  7.  Prove my loyalty to humanity by challenging the Dark Lord to a duel, only to get refused for lack of sorcerous might.
  8.  Go on a quest for magical items!
  9.  Finish the quest. Claim a magical sword from a lake, or a pool, or even a little pond. No mountains, though. Those are nasty, and people can break their necks when tumbling off them. Deathtraps, I swear. When I become king.
  10. Succeed my father. By running him through. With my sword. My magical sword.

Bit of world-building in this here Top Ten Fantasy List! Hope you enjoyed it; you’re very welcome to come back for more!

Sunday ComiX: Defining the X-Men, Vol. 02 — The Second(ish) Generation

Sundays are for my favorite activity – Defining the X-Men in a sentence!

This week’s picks are some of the most important, influential and beloved of all X-Men characters…as well as some less-known characters, which never the less have great importance within the X-Men continuum!

Hold on to yo butts!

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Lorna Dane, aka Polaris: Magneto’s daughter who inherited his magnetic powers, somewhat questionable fashion sense, and occasional homicidal tendencies!

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Alex Summers aka Havok: Cyclops’ smaller brother who’s got similar powers and better hair but a worse taste in sunglasses; hates being called the M-word. (See picture on the bottom of this post.)

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Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler: Looks like a demon of Hell; is in fact a swashbuckling gentleman who’s the emotional heart of any X-Men team he’s in; used to be dead, no longer is.

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Pyotr Rasputin aka Colossus: The nicest Russian guy in the world; constantly battles Magneto despite his mutant power turning him into solid metal.

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Ororo Munroe aka Storm: Street rat worshipped as a goddess in Egypt as soon as her mutation activates — because what else can someone who controls the weather amidst the desert be?

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Sean Cassidy aka Banshee: Very Irish, very self-descriptive alias and also — very dead.

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Shiro Yoshida, aka Sunfire: Bit of an arsehole, I reckon, and not much of a team player at all.

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Thunderbird: He dead.

 

There we go with this week’s installment of Sunday Comix! Short, concise and to the douchebaggy point, in Sunfire and Thunderbird’s cases, anyway. Hope you enjoyed and looking forward to seeing you next week for some more one-sentence description of my favorite superhero team! 

Here’s your bonus Havok/Cyclops image, courtesy of the Internet:

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Saturday Night Gaming: Critiques and Wolfenstein: The New Order

Whenever I begin writing a video critique or review for a game, I spend some time considering how to go about it. This blog post will look at the reasons behind my choices and plan for the (as of yet) unfinished critique; if you enjoy talk about gaming, you might enjoy it, and if you don’t — stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming!

Wolfenstein: The New Order is not too complicated a narrative by any stretch of the imagination. Id Software’s writing team took a whole bunch of chapters from Philip K. Dick’s “The Man on The High Castle,” and — to the joy of everyone involved — succeeded in creating a tense world that makes you more than enthusiastic enough to shoot all the Nazis you find!

There’s a love story going on in the background too, and it’s done well — but that’s all narrative. When talking about a first person shooter, the story has to take a backseat to the gameplay; what matters most is gunplay, enemy variety, map/level design and what I’d like to refer to as the sheer bloody level of AWESOME that a game can provide the player.

For a ‘narrative’ guy like myself, putting an accent on the mechanics of a game first is a difficult task, occasionally. Two things help; the first is, realizing that the mechanics are in fact complemented by the story, and the second — recognizing when that happens.

Otherwise simple actions, mechanically, become much more meaningful when the narrative dictates that they be so — stabbing a Nazi grunt will not remain in your memory but daggering the lover of a hated adversary most certainly will, for example. That’s the kind of synergy between gameplay and

Another aspect I am looking at has to do with the boss battles. These are often some of the most memorable parts of a game; either for the best reasons…or for the worst. While I’m not going to go ahead and critique those here — I’m saving that up for the video review — I’ll let it slip that Wolfenstein’s boss encounters leave much to be desired. I judge at boss battles according to how ‘gimmick’-y they are; the more freedom one such encounter gives the players on how to tackle the gigantic metal monster — the better. For brilliant boss battles that packed one hell of a punch in an FPS game, look no further than 2016’s Doom, developed by the same studio as Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Id Software took notes, I think.

The most important questions, when preparing any sort of long-form critique about a video game have to do with the genre and how the game performs compared to the average expectations and performances of other representatives of that genre. Follow each thread, observe how the game does, and its weaknesses and strengths become evident enough.

The rest is…only words.