…Couple of Pirates…

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So this one I actually got pretty bored with.  The Mercenaries is the third of nine in the DDTS and it focuses largely on a dark stranger who cobbles together a crew of pirates and former pirates to head to the same place as the rescue party of Paladins for an opposing reason: kill Eidola.

But the whole premise in the beginning doesn’t make any sense!  It seems like all the characters we’re introduced to here are just thrown into the story for the hell of it.  It’s not until the end when the mercenaries meet up with the paladins that things become a bit more clear. We still have no idea who hired the hit on Eidola, but we learn the identity of the dark little man who was contracted to take her out.  None other than Artemis Entreri.

Well…suggested here and confirmed in later books.

So yeah…while the beginning was kinda blech, the ending was awesome!  Just the merest HINT that our resident favorite assassin has returned is enough to guarantee that things are going to get interesting…

Lets see just how interesting as we continue on hmm? Errand of Mercy, book 4 in the DDTS by Roger E Moore is next.

The paladins sent by the Lord of Waterdeep to rescue his kidnapped bride have arrived in a kingdom of the Utter East. The monarch seems friendly, but the kingdom is beset by menacing fiends. Before the ruler agrees to help the knights in their quest, there is just one small task they must perform.

..Some Holy Men…

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Now this, this I was excited to read.  I always love it when characters make a comeback, no matter how big or small.

The Paladins is the second of nine in the Double Diamond Triangle Saga (DDTS) and brings back some old friends for me.  Khelban Blackstaff was brought forward as Lord Mage of Waterdeep in The Abduction, and now that the Open Lord has fallen into a magical coma and his bride to be has been kidnapped, it is up to the Blackstaff to mount up the rescue party to find the lady while he deals with the lord.

And for some reason the rescue party is like 90% paladins.  There is Miltiades and Kern from the Pools sagas, as well as Piergeiron’s daughter, a paladin who has lost his face, another paladin who might be a disguise for someone/something else, and a young noble lordling off on his first adventure.  And that first adventure is to Undermountain to find a portal that will send the party to the Utter East, the one place that defies Khelben’s scrying attempts at locating the missing bride to be.

All they have to do is take a group of paladins through the dank streets of Skullport and circumvent a conjured army of demons to reach the gate.

No problemo.

Nothing really stuck out for me with the Paladins, aside from my excitement at seeing the characters Miltiades and Kern again.  We’ll just have to see how book 3 The Mercenaries by Ed Greenwood goes.

A shadowy figure hires a group of unemployed pirates to aid him on a dangerous mission. But the mission has a hidden purpose, and somewhere behind the scenes it connects to the kidnapping of a young bride from Waterdeep.

A Kidnapping…

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First in a nine part mini series, the opening to the epic Double Diamond Triangle saga is pretty straightforward.  Piergeiron Paladinson, Open Lord of Waterdeep is about to get married!  However the festivities are colored by spell slingers and shapeshifters who wish to do him and/or his bride harm.  The first wave of attacks is fended off, only for the bride to be kidnapped at the alter and for the Open Lord to fall into a coma.  Oh woe is Waterdeep!  Who shall save the lord and his lady!

Tune in next time on….

No seriously though that’s pretty much what happens.  Joy, attack, more joy, kidnapping, summon a rescue party, but the lord is asleep.  Next!

The interesting thing here is that you get the feeling right from the start that something is not quite right with the lady Eidola.  She seems very stoic and cold for a blushing bride, and not at all affectionate towards her soon to be husband.  Now if this was a marriage of political expedience it would be understood.  But Piergeiron acts like the two are in love with each other, rather than the affection being one sided or non existent.

This disharmony between the character as she was versus as she should have been is what drew me in and made me want to continue reading the saga, which is exactly what we’re going to do.  Onwards friends, to book 2 The Paladins by James M Ward.

The “Double Diamond Triangle Saga” continues! Lord Piergeiron has fallen ill, but his loyal retainers prepare to rescue his abducted fiancee. But their quest lies far beyond the areas around Waterdeep, and in the uncharted Utter East.

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Gen 2 Comes Out To Play

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Well well well.  Here is something I was not expecting.  Turns out The Godborn, book 2 of the Sundering series, can technically be counted as the fourth book of the Erevis Cale trilogy.

Taking place one hundred years after the events of the third book Midnight’s Mask, we are introduced to Cale’s son Vasen.  Turns out when the Shadowstorm hit, the life of Cale’s lover Varra was jepordized, along with the life of their son.  Riven (Mask’s kinda sorta avatar) stepped in and flung Varra into the future to throw Cale’s enemies of Vasen’s scent, speeding up Varra’s pregnancy at the same time.  Alas, Varra died in childbirth, but her half shade son was raised as a paladin of Amaunator safe from the minions of Shar and Mephistopholes, if only for a short time.

But while Mask technically hid Vasen, his mother Shar is the goddess of secrets and eventually Vasen was discovered and all the old crew as well as some new faces are assembled to stop Shar’s ultimate plan to destroy the Realms.  Magadon and Riven come back along with Riven’s girls, they team up with Vasen, we learn Cale is still alive and imprisoned in the frozen wastes of Cania under close watch by Big Red himself.  Our heroes are joined by a shadowwalking servant of Mask who also happens to be a deva, as well as a simple farmer who lost the love of his life with their unborn child and will do anything to avenge himself on those who cost him so much. The Shadowvar princes come out to play once more, one to serve the will of his dark goddess and one to seek vengeance on the other for the murder of their mother.  We travel from the Realms to the Abyss to Shade and back again, all to stop Shar and resurrect her son.

Easy peasy right?

The thing that really excited me most about this is that the Shades kept talking about something really really big happening.  To the point where their king is ordering Chosen to be located and captured so they can be questioned.  The gods are beginning to move and groove in their realms, no one knows why so it’s the Shade’s hope that some of the Chosen will provide insight into what his happening with their perspective gods.

Now based on my general knowledge of the time line from here on out, I have an idea what that Big Event is, but oooooooooh I am still ever so excited to find out!!!!

But that is going to have to wait for a wee bit.  FINALLY collected the Double Diamond Triangle Saga in it’s entirety so we’re going to go old school Realms for a bit.  Book 1 The Abduction by J Robert King is next.

The first of a new serial novel series set in the “Forgotten Realms” world! Someone has kidnapped the fiancee of the Open Lord of Waterdeep on the eve of their wedding. Now the lord, Piergeiron the Palidinson, must find out who–but nothing is quite what it seems.

Hidden Treasures

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I have been waiting for this one for so long, and I was not disappointed.

The beast follows mostly Rhage and Mary as they come to terms with and work together to overcome the distance that those who follow the Black Dagger Brotherhood series knows has been growing for quite some time.  At first neither one of them know exactly what it is that is wrong, but eventually it turns out that they have Baby Fever what with so many females in the house dropping kids recently.  Bella had Nalla, Beth had little Wrath Junior, Layla is pregnant with twins who finally make an appearance in this book, it’s no wonder someone gets baby fever.  But with Mary being sterile on account of her previous cancer and basically being immortal until she chooses to pass on, it’s not a train that they can hop on easily.

I like how they were able to solve this issue between them, the exact details I will leave to you to discover, but it did have me feeling all warm and fuzzy by the end.  I think my favorite part by far however, was the interactions between Mary and Rhage’s ‘beast’.  There were actually several times where she communicated with it separate from Rhage and it responded.  I liked that because it seemed to give Rhage and the dragon on his back greater depth.  Now, it is no longer a creature Rhage was cursed with, but a being of thought, emotions, and feelings like it’s host.  It’s more two beings in one body now, rather than just a parasite infecting and hitching a ride on the host body.  Quite enjoyed that.

But enough with the mushy gushy for now.  Back to the Realms with the second of the Sundering series Godborn by Paul S Kemp next.

The shadow legacy of Erevis Cale lives on…

Living in a remote abbey nestled among the Thunder Peaks of Sembia. Vasen Cale is haunted by dreams of his father, Erevis Cale, trapped in the frozen hell of Cania. Vasen knows the day will come when he must assume his role in the divine drama unfolding across Faerûn. But he knows not what that role should be, or even whether he is ready to take it on. He only knows what his father tells him in dreams—he must not fail.

Enter Drasek Riven, a former compatriot of Erevis Cale, haunted by dreams of his own. He too knows the time to act is near. Shar, the great goddess of darkness, looks to cast her shadow on the world forever. Riven has glimpsed the cycle of night she hopes to complete and knows she must be stopped.

At the crossroads of divine intrigue and mortal destiny, unlikely heroes unite to thwart the powers of shadow, and the sundering of worlds is set on its course.

Fuzzy Death!

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Short, sweet and to the point this one.  How To Tell if Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is essentially a collection of The Oatmeal comics where they take pretty much anything and everything cats do that we deem as cute or normal cat behavior is twist it into some humorous way that your cat is plotting to kill you.

Spoiler alert: EVERYTHING they do is a means to kill you.

I especially enjoyed to adventures of the Bob cats, two cats who work in some kind of office and represent that one person we all know and hate.

Yeah that pretty much sums it up.  Not much more to say here except I enjoyed it and I cannot wait to move on to our next book, The Beast by J.R. Ward, #14 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

So excited to read this one!

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself

For Rhage the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart life was supposed to be perfect. Or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. But he can t understand or control the panic and insecurity that plague him. Terrified, he must reassess his priorities after suffering a mortal injury. And the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his and his beloved Mary s world…

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Hail Adventurers!

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So I ran the Horde of the Dragon Queen myself for a group of younger players brand new to the world of DnD, and with myself being a first time GM.  It’s the first published adventure for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, as well as the first half of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign, with Rise of Tiamat being the second half.  It takes players from first to 8th level based either on a XP level up system, or a milestone system.

I think I did ok with running this campaign.  The players always seemed to have fun, and I was able to draw on my personal store of knowledge within the Realms to expand a bit on what was already here.

I think what I liked most about this adventure is that it seems very well balanced.  It’s straightforward and simple enough for a first time GM like myself or first time players like my group to run with little to no difficulty but it has that capacity for more experienced GMs to draw on inspiration from other sources and allow the players to go completely off the rails (which my group has done after only 1 session of the second half of this campaign Rise of Tiamat) or simply expand on what’s there.

The only thing is I don’t think the XP level up system really works with this.  I think the milestones system works much better.  I actually started it as using designated XP to level up characters, but I found that when they were fifth level according to the XP system they should have been 7th level according to the milestone system.  So I either REALLY screwed up or the XP system doesn’t really work.  And I personally don’t think it was me as I am really careful to record how many of each creature is faced/killed during session, and I would even review the chapters after the fact to make sure nothing was missed.  I might have been off half a level or so, but not two.

Anyways I really like it.  I think we’ll like Rise of Tiamat, but we’re only the one session/chapter into that adventure so only time will tell.

Next a fun little read my uncle got me for Christmas: How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill you.

If your cat is kneading you, that’s not a sign of affection. Your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness. If your cat brings you a dead animal, this isn’t a gift. It’s a warning. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is an offering of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

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