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Posts tagged “Magic

GeekOut Shrewsbury July ’19 – Convention Season

We shouldn’t cancel GeekOut during heatwaves, no matter how tempting it might be. Who’d go outside in that? No one should have to endure those kind of temperatures but… y’know if I start down this path, the discussion gets dark. There were cold drinks and board games, ultimately that’s what’s important here.

The Pour House

I recently found out that The Pour House is about the change hands. Here’s wishing the previous owners the very best of luck in their future endeavours, and hoping the new owners uphold the legacy. We like the Pour House, I mean, I don’t drink so a place that does interesting things without alcohol is always high on my priorities list.

Thanks Tom for bringing in an old rendition of Jumanji as a real-life board game… not as immersive as the original. I managed to settle a score in Magic… that is a blatant lie, I had my ass handed to me by Kim again! Time to raise a deck with a higher pace to it, or maybe raise the Super Soldier deck from the archives.

Main Event

It should no longer be a surprise for me that our events these days get busy early and stay that way pretty much throughout, especially at this time of year, no doubt things will change come October or something, but in either case Monty’s Tower started out being pleased to see us, then asked us nicely to start using the other bar for a while after everything got a bit hectic. Fair ask, cheers guys.

Highlights of this month’s Shrewsbury Meet, Julia fetching out a 3D camera to play with, we did, shamelessly, an improvised chessboard, and the time it rained for about two minutes and it was… just so great.

Con-Poster Competition

Half an hour to design a poster for the best convention you can imagine! A theme, an event, and a special guest star are the minimum requirements, and design talent not… strictly necessary, although apparently an unfair advantage was granted to those who understood – or at least shared – my personal sense of humour, which is almost certainly how Murray won. Milencon would be a bleak affair of staring blankly into our respective hands as we despair over the world we live in and the unhealthy coping mechanisms we use to handle it.

Second place Cluedo Fest appealed to my bloodlust, love of the noir, and I liked the ambiguity of… literally every component. Vanitycon takes third place for it’s cynical approach to internet based narcissism. Other events were beautiful in their own regard, except Joelcon, which had the hubris to assume any relation between me and colours outside of grey.


Next Month, August 29th, Netflix and GeekOut, a celebration of Netflix and internet streaming original content. Attendees are not required to chill… if it’s anything like this month, it may prove impossible.

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Dungeon Situational – Three Quest Specific Spells

The spells of D&D 5e – as contained within the Players Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to everything and other sources – appeal to a broad range of characters with applications in combat and in many instances of day to day life. In a world of unexpected and varied dangers it pays to cover all bases… but what if the more a plot unravels, the more specific forms of magic become useful to you?

Presented here are very specific spells designed to inspire ideas specific to your own campaign, referring to motives of specific factions or parties, designed for combating a particular type of opponent, or overcome a particular type of obstacle. The rules as listed use Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, but should be readily modified to suit most fantasy systems. Here are three campaign-specific spells.

Abjure Serpents

3rd level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (A trilliant cut emerald worth at least 200 GP)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes.

Snakes, yuan-ti, hydras, and other serpentine creatures within 10 feet of you must succeed on a wisdom saving throw or be afraid of you. While afraid of you they cannot use their action for anything other than dashing away from you. Creatures must repeat the saving throw when they enter or start their turn within the range of the spell. Creatures you designate within the range have advantage on saving throws against poison effects, and resistance to poison damage.

At higher levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you may increase the radius of the spell by 10 feet, and again when you use a 7th level spell slot, and again when you use a 9th level spell slot.

Decipher

6th level divination (ritual)
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Touch
Components: V, M (a complex puzzle of wooden or metal pieces that has been solved)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour.

For the duration your mind sees through elaborate and complicated patterns as if they were childishly simple, isolating clues, and comprehending solutions. The affected creature has a +10 bonus to intelligence checks made to solve riddles, puzzles, and devices. This bonus applies to all checks made to recall knowledge concerning the riddle, puzzle, or device, and to investigation checks made to search for clues, hidden components, or hidden patterns.

The spell does not account for active deceptions, or any knowledge not overtly possessed by the creature, such as languages it does not understand. If a component is missing, the spell will allow the creature to observe this fact, but will not reveal the location of the missing object, unless it is something they have already encountered, or if it is something that can be found within areas the creature investigates while affected by the spell.

Mark of Bel’Taln

Transmutation Cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: S
Duration: 1 hour

When you cast Mark of Bel’Taln, take 1 fire damage. A brand in the shape of the arcane mark appears on your skin on a location of your choosing, and remains there for the duration before fading.

The mark is used to identify members of the cult of Worshipful Bel’Taln to one another, and can only be taught to members by other members. A creature does not need to have the spellcasting feature to be able to cast Mark of Bel’Taln, but you must have a wisdom or charisma score of 13 or higher. This spell cannot be learned by elves or half elves.

When you reach 5th level, and good standing within the cult, you may be granted one of the additional features listed below. You may gain additional features at 11th level, and again at 17th. You must be granted these features by a a higher ranking member of the cult. When you cast the Mark of Bel’Taln, you take additional fire damage equal to twice the number of additional features you know.

  • While you bear his mark, you may speak the language of Bel’Taln. You can understand and be understood by monstrosities as if you shared a language, and you have advantage on charisma checks and animal handling checks made to influence their behaviour.
  • While you bear his mark, you have the blessing of Bel’Taln. You have resistance to acid and cold damage. Your unarmed attacks deal bludgeoning damage equal to your proficiency modifier, and you may choose to make unarmed attacks using your spellcasting modifier instead of strength.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the heart of Bel’Taln. You may teach the cantrip Mark of Bel’Taln to another creature. Doing so takes 1 hour, and the process ordains the creature into the cult of Worshipful Bel’Taln. That creature must meet the requirements to learn the cantrip as listed above.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the wrath of Bel’Taln. When a creature makes a melee attack against you, you may use your reaction to deal an amount of acid damage to that creature equal to your spellcasting modifier.
  • While you bear his mark, you know the enemies of Bel’Taln. You have advantage on skill checks when they specifically pertain to elves. For example, you have advantage on stealth checks made to hide from elves, or insight checks made to sense the motives of elves.

Ok, I think we run this series through November and then put it to rest for a few months. I have had an idea for something else for next year, and I have some films chalked up to review. As for next week:

Books and their secrets, some tomes of knowledge that grant unexpected benefits, such as spells, formulas for magic items, or unveiling the location of incredible treasures.

An extra planar encounter table, detailing potential encounters within… let’s see… Carceri! The Prison Plane, the inescapable torment.

Or three different ways in which paladins can embrace or interpret their oaths, and the laws that they abide by.



Top 10 Magical Swords

GeekOut Top 10s

Nothing beats the destructive power of a sword; slashing away at the opponent’s life. It’s no wonder that people always want to find a way to make the sword even mightier, as some people penned up the idea that you need to mix swords with magic. Adding a pinch of the arcane, or the occult, suddenly you don’t just have a weapon to be wielded by the capable hands of a warrior. No, you’ve created something much more dangerous… You’ve created a weapon capable of destroying countless lives, devouring souls, splitting time and more.

Interested? You’d better be as these are our Top 10 Magical Swords. (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury April ’18 – Marvel vs. DC

Over a year of GeekOut and it just keeps getting better. This month I decided to poke one of the geekiest bears out there, as divisive a topic as Kirk or Pickard, X-Box or Playstation*, D&D or Pathfinder, and to pitch the giants in the comic book playground against one another seems very du-jour considering Infinity War was released the day of GeekOut, and that I’ll be going to watch it tonight.

Some of you may have seen a few photos and live-streamed footage already, courtesy of our guest from Thors-Kin Podcast, Alex, who helped out with this month’s competition. Here is this month’s slightly belated gallery.
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Re-Skinning Spells part 2

So, rather than starting with my spell like I did in my Re-Skinning Spells part 1 last week, I’ll be starting with the spellcaster. To give your unique character a unique feel rather than just a colour-by-numbers hack-n-slash dungeon crawler, plant a little of their personality onto their spell list. For each character I’ll be throwing in more details like magical implements or Individual Magical Effect to give you some ideas on how to really change up your wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, and spellslingers.

Let me start with a character I’ve wanted to build for some time.

Chronomancer

A wizard heavily invested in the nature of time, it’s mechanisms, how it shapes and is shaped by space and matter. There’s a few spells that are no-brainers for a master of time, Slow, HasteScrying, at later levels Time Stop and it’s not a huge stretch to throw in spells like Mending as a way to reverse time on a broken object, or Disintegration to accelerate time to the point of crumbling. But not every level comes with a complete collection of spells perfect for the Chronomancer.

It would not take an overly permissive DM to alter Conjure Minor Elementals to summon Modrons instead, those mechanical life-forms from the plane of rigid order and law. The collection from the Monster Manual sits within the Combat Rating requirements. Scrying and locating spells might help pinpoint the eddies and currents a creature leaves in the currents of time, Move Earth and Control Water might toy with history so ancient that the world was different.

Each time the Chronomancer casts a spell it is accompanied by the sound of a ticking clock, a whirling of spectral gears about his/her arms, and at later levels the very stars wheel in the heavens as he/she exerts power on the universe. A stopwatch might be the focus for the Chronomancer, or a sundial with a shadow that always points to the correct time, no matter the light in the room.

Alchemist

The magic of an Alchemist is all chemical, no otherworldly powers required. The correct admixtures can turn acid into a projectile capable of flying great distances, contain fire in a case of metal to be called upon later, or spawn lightning in a jar. The Artificer class for Eberron has dabbled a little in this, although I have to say I preferred the sub-type of wizard from an earlier issue of Unearthed Arcana. That works up to a point, but there are plenty of spells that you might not be able to pull out of a bottle.

Consider a spell like Wall of Stone, rather than a movement of earth the spell could be a growing mountain of foam that solidifies into a barrier. Illusions could be the result of a potent hallucinogen; it’s hard to summon an Insect Plague with chemicals unless you keep a box of larvae or a vial of potent pheromones in your pack.

Alchemists can fit into a low-magic setting, but have to plan accordingly. Your alchemist may have to carry a hefty medicine bag filled with bases, reagents, admixtures and solvents, along with enough glassware to refit a cathedral. You might be walking around in lab gear, goggles and gloves, collapsible work bench, the works.

Et Al

Ok, let me draw some examples from elsewhere. I’ll grab some characters with signature spells or spell-like powers and give you something that’ll do the same job:

Maya’s Phaselock – Shamelessly going back to Borderlands, the Siren Maya has the power to imprison an enemy in a hovering bubble of raw energy from whatever plane of existence the Sirens draw power from. Hold Person would work fine as the basic version, but lacks the upgrades, they’re much harder to replicate without your DM allowing you to add powers and expending higher spell slots, or even several slots. Dominate PersonBless, or Resistance can give you ideas for effects to pile onto a single spell.

Witcher Signs – Igni screams Burning Hands, nice and easy. Aard, maybe use Thunderwave. At early levels you might use Crown of Madness for the hypnotic sign Axii, rather than the more appropriate Dominate Monster. The shielding sign Quen has loads of possible options, from Shield to Magic Circle. And Yrden… is difficult, planting rune-circles that trigger when you pass over them is something you’ll have to wait for when you get level 3 spells and Glyph of Warding, but that’s such a versatile spell you should pick it up anyway, no matter who you are.

Waterbending – It’s easy to replicate earth, air, and firebending from the Avatar Series, plenty of fire-based spells, mobility and defensive spells for air, and things you can change into stone, especially if you build a druid. Water might be trickier, but there are things that could be made more… watery. Magic Missile and Cloud of Daggers, streaks of water hurled at opponents, Slow and Evard’s Black Tentacles could be used as patches of water that grip and bind.


Re-Skinning Spells

A follow-up to similar articles I wrote on using D&D creature stats to make original sounding creations, how about giving your spell caster some original twists? There are a few different ways you can personalise your spell list, simply changing the appearance such as the colour, the sound, the very sensual content of your spell, is the easiest way by far, but with your DMs permission (or if you are the DM and don’t care) you can make minor tweeks to the effects of your spells. Changes of damage type are simple enough, but other effects should be taken with caution as they may unbalance the game in such a way that it makes your character more powerful than the others.

Oh yes, the Dungeon Masters Guide has its tips and tricks for spell design, but there is no exact science without zealous and time consuming playtesting, so with caution and judicious forethought, lets mess with magic. (more…)


Things To Look Out For in Magic: the Gathering Booster Boxes

We’re big fans of Magic: The Gathering here on GeekOut South-West. We play it ’til there’s nothing left of it to play. From a casual game with friends to full blown lore facts, this game has it all and we love it. It frequently appears in our Top 10 articles and makes for a good article too.

Eldritch Moon Booster Box

But how do you get to the position of building many random decks in the first place? How do people end up with so many cards? Well you may (or may not) be surprised that I myself have over 1,500 MTG cards that I keep in a massive box. Why do I have so many of them and what do I do with them all? I have them thanks to booster boxes and I use them to make casual decks.

Sometimes the decks turn out great, with a lot of character behind them. But more often than not, they become a curiosity for a few games – Something to throw friends off with. I am best known for my white enchantment deck, which I call Keyword Ascension, but lately that’s felt like it’s too much to play with. So, I have built a good number of casual decks. From my Red/Green Werewolves to my Blue/Green ‘Kitchen Sink’, there’s a deck for all play styles.

A range of cards

With this said, there’s a lot of decks that just don’t work out. However, one booster box can turn that deck that just didn’t work into a real thoroughbred. For instance, when I was building my Keyword Ascension deck, I had a Zendikar block booster box. I believe it was Worldwake, which then introduced me to the Kor Spiritdancer – Who I immediately threw into my deck. Not only was she a perfect complement to my deck, she’s one of my main creatures!

This month, we bought another booster box. As a disclaimer, this is not cheap, but it is certainly cheaper than buying individual booster packs. The booster boxes can set you back typically between £70-£90 and you can probably get a better deal from a local games shop. It’s worth looking around, but a booster box contains 36 booster packs. Due to the sheer size and cost of this, I always like to buy a booster box with someone else – In my case, recently I have been buying booster boxes with my partner.

Lilianna, the Last Hope

It’s a satisfying experience, opening all of those boosters and finding the rarest cards in there. This month’s booster box was from the Eldritch Moon set, which quickly revealed a card called Lilianna, the Last Hope. Just a couple of days before the box arrived, Jake and I discussed how he needed Lilianna in his zombie deck. As well as the power of the new zombies he got in the new box, he now has a pretty competitive zombie deck. There’s always a flip side to this kind of purchase though…

See, next month, a new block comes out. A block in Magic: the Gathering terms is a group of card sets which make up a theme/story. When I first got into MTG, the block was the Zendikar block, where these monstrous creatures were suddenly appearing. They were called the Eldrazi – and now, 4 years later, they’re back. They’re a lot more manageable now…

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…  and what about next month? I guess we wait and see what Kaladesh holds for us. Maybe we could do one more booster box..? So what do you think about booster boxes? Are they a waste of money, or is it the real way to collect Magic: the Gathering cards? What about building decks from them? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.


Remaking A Classic – Fantasy Worlds

Haven’t done one of these in a while.

I’ve griped and grumbled plenty about Lord of the Rings but even as someone who doesn’t enjoy it I recognise all too well that at the time it was highly original. Tolkien set the stereotypes that I have grown bored of and that makes his work special in its own right, his opus has become the very classical depiction of elves, dwarves, dragons, hobbits/halflings and a host of other fantasy staples besides. The problem as I see it now is that I have seen it done and over done and get a little tiresome.

I was raised on the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, so I saw all of these stereotypes torn apart and analysed to death before I saw them presented in their original field. When I came to Dungeons & Dragons and its contemporaries I found myself once again immersed in the classic stereotypes, but saw places where the limits had been pushed and guidelines broken, and the very concepts of what makes a world broken down into simple rules. (more…)


Anime Review – Anti-magic Academy: the 35th Test Platoon

In a world ravaged by witches and criminal gunmen, there’s an academy dedicated to building up Inquisitors to defend the world from the criminals. When elite pistol master Ouka Ohtori joins the 35th Test Platoon, known as the Small Fry Platoon, she’s led by a highly inexperienced captain called Takeru Kusunagi, a boy who still uses swords in a world where guns are the norm. A dysfunctional platoon take on missions and have to work as a cohesive unit.

Review

Story

2015-11-12-210536_1920x1080_scrot

Is this an innuendo already..?

Witches are running rampant and are causing havoc everywhere. With this in mind, the military have set about making sure that these dangerous magics are kept at bay, by training elite soldiers against them. Whilst magic is an issue, skilled criminal gunmen are also fighting for the power that witches bring. The Anti-Magic Academy was set up to bring these criminals to justice, whilst keeping an ever watchful eye on witches.

Ultimately, this is just a harem anime but I wish it didn’t have good premise behind it. When I read the description, I was goaded into watching it because it sounded like a relatively fun and quite unique anime. What I was greeted with however a constant supply of oh-so-hilarious antics of a guy who is the captain of a dysfunctional platoon known as the Small Fry Platoon, as he has to deal with being in a platoon filled with nothing but female members. So, take just five seconds to guess what happens? Within the first few minutes, you’re greeted to the emotionally unstable sniper who is dressed in a bunny outfit, being filmed by the smart mechanic girl.

Audio

Yeah the audio is good, with some nice music. But there’s nothing that actually jumps out and grabs at you. There’s nothing special about the music, but there’s also nothing noteworthy about the voice actors in this series case. Still, it’s fine for what it is. One jaunting issue I found is sometimes when a character is conveying anger through voice, their faces didn’t match the tone they were giving… Particularly weird to see. When you have a slightly miffed face and you’re screaming at the top of your lungs, it just doesn’t look right. I might start doing this to terrify people, actually!

Graphics

Here’s a gallery for the series. The artwork is really nicely done and I do like how they’ve kept the uniforms standard, even if they were literally made to tightly hug the female protagonists bodies…

Overall

As you might tell, I’m not so fond of this anime, but that’s because I’m bitterly disappointed. I found in a lot of instances the plot was good but only to be dampened with this wet sponge of yet another anime that promotes the groping of breasts and gazing at butts. Don’t get me wrong: the art in this series is superb and it will certainly be entertaining if you’re looking for a small kick… However with the constant supply of “this is a man and these are all the girls he will have to interact with” animes (mostly known as harem anime), there’s . Before you get the wrong impression and think that I don’t like harem anime, I’d highly recommend you check out Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?. That is a masterfully crafted harem anime with a fun, exciting premise.

I can’t in any good conscious encourage you to watch Anti-Magic Academy and I hate to be a downer on a series: That’s not like me. However, when it’s an incredibly blatant ploy to keep people sucked in through sexual appeal, I get bored quickly. Within minutes and seeing countless back-breaking breasts (all of which abide their own laws of physics) and perked out butts (which there can only be so many of), I have seen all I can stand. If you don’t mind the crassness of it, then go ahead and give it a watch as the actual premise sounds pretty fun… However I won’t be going back to this one. I’m really disappointed as I have seen so many gleaming reviews in the comments section, although the same can’t be said from what other reviewers are making of the series.

What do you all think? Have I been really harsh on this series? Should I go and give it another try in later episodes, or is this just a ploy to be yet another harem anime and cash in on the fact that prepubescent boys (and girls) will be interested in animated, physics breaking bosoms? Let me know what a Scrooge I’m being in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. Gosh, I can’t believe this anime has gotten me so… bitter. Just as well I’m going to be running a meetup today!