Free Book of the Week: Devil’s Lair

Thanks to Amazon.com, and the Kindle, I could probably find enough free books to keep me reading all year, though of course, I still buy plenty of books. Here is a book available for free on Amazon as of Sunday, September 9th, 2012. I cannot promise how long it will remain free.

I have not read this yet, but have downloaded with the intent of reading. I’m posting it now because by the time I finish reading it may no longer be free. Keep in mind, you can read this free book without a Kindle using apps for Android, iOS, and PCs.

Devil’s Lair by David Wisehart. Currently rated 4.2 stars out of 5, with 58 reviews on Amazon.  Currently rated 3.7 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.

Amazon’s Description:

Devil’s Lair is an epic fantasy set in Dante’s Inferno.

A medieval knight leads a quest through Hell to recover the Holy Grail from the Devil. The knight, Marco da Roma, is joined by: Giovanni Boccaccio, an expert on Dante; William of Ockham, an English friar; and Nadja, an epileptic with the gift of prophecy. As the Black Death sweeps through Europe, these unlikely heroes confront the Devil–and their own demons–to forestall the Apocalypse.

Goodreads Description:

A thrilling adventure through Dante’s Inferno….

“I’ve battled evil all my life. I’ve wrestled with darkness and demons and monsters beyond measure, in the black forests of Germany and in the troubled hearts of men, for it is there, in the human heart, that evil festers and grows. But evil has a source, and we must find that source: at the bottom of the abyss. We must descend into the Devil’s lair, and penetrate the heart of all evil.”

It is the year of our Lord 1349. The world is dying. The Black Death sweeps through Europe. Apocalypse approaches. The Fourth Horseman rides the Earth…

One hope survives. A vision of the Holy Grail. Stolen by Lucifer, the Grail now lies in the lowest circle of Hell. To save the human race, someone must steal the Grail from the Devil and return it to the world above.

Four pilgrims — a knight, a friar, a poet, and a prophetess — will journey down into Hell to confront their deepest fears…

And the Devil himself.

Posted in DM's Bookshelf | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing D&D with the Kids

Daughter chasing down the goblin!

Though I’ve wanted to introduce my kids to Dungeons and Dragons for a long time things just never worked out for it until this weekend.  With little planning or fanfare the kids and I sat down at the table and tossed some dice across the tabletop.

Because of the quick decision to run the game, I didn’t have very much prep time, so I grabbed the 4E Starter Set Box and skimmed through the included adventure. While I did try to find printable versions online, or copies built into the DDI Character Builder, but had no luck, so I just cut the pre-gens from the book and allowed the kids to pick their favorite.

My son chose the dragonborn paladin, and while he didn’t have much of an idea what a paladin was, he did like the idea of being dragonlike. In fact, his first thought when asked to come to the aid of the town, he initially didn’t want to do it, and then asked what was in it for him.

My daughter chose the halfling rogue, and named her Jeanette. She was actually more paladinlike, when they were offered the chance to go after the goblins to protect the town, she agreed without hesitation, even offering a salute!

I told the kids their characters were best friends, and came from the village of Harken where the adventure/delve was set. I wanted to give them a reason to look after each other, and to take up the initial adventure without too much prodding. Not unexpectedly, when Old Kellar approaches them, my daughter takes a moment to interact with him, and my son, though eager to fight something, was less enthused about going along with the request, though at my daughter’s prodding agreed to go along. And though I mentioned there would be a reward I never had to come out and state the amount or negotiate the exact payment.

Because there were only two members in the party, I probably should have eliminated one or two opponents from the first encounter, but I didn’t, and that was a mistake. Some lucky die rolls early meant the kids were in trouble. I tried to ease up by having one of the goblins run away when it was below 10 hit points. Unfortunately, the goblin previously wounded my daughter’s character, and so my daughter wouldn’t just let the goblin run away, but instead chased after the creature.

My son’s paladin was dropped to -5 hit points, and my daughter’s character was far away, and getting low on hit points as well, so things weren’t looking good. While I never fudged any dice rolls, I did bend the rules slightly, allowing my son to stabalize himself when he made his successful death save, and then to use a healing surge during the next round to bring himself up from 0 points. I also had the goblin who dropped him head after my daughter’s PC, knowing her chase had taken her far enough away she’d have a few rounds to finish off the goblin she was already fighting.

In the end, both PCs survived and defeated the goblins, though they used up most of their daily abilities as well as their encounter abilities, so they wisely decided to head back to the village to rest.

They would probably have handled the encounter better if I’d put them against 3 goblins instead of 5, and I’ll probably take some time to scale down later encounters slightly, but overall the kids had a great time. In fact, though we did more hacking and slashing than role-playing, my daughter said she felt like she was in the story and both kids are looking forward to play again.

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual GenCon Part 3 of ? (possibly my last post before GenCon ends)

I’m updating my initial post to put everything in one place, so you may already be visiting some of these sites.

Here’s a brief list of some places you can check out to keep up with all the fun:

Twitter:

The hashtag #gencon should provide plenty of information. But here is a short list of folks who’ll be tweeting from the convention.

E. Foley aka Geek’s Dream Girl of geeksdreamgirl.com

Sages of RPG of Sages of RPG.com

@WilW aka Wil Wheaton is visiting GenCon again this year, and will almost certainly be sharing his experience online.

@Wizards_DnD the official Wizards of the Coast Twitter feed.

@GenCon : The official convention feed.

Photos:

Lots of folks will be posting photos, and wihle some of them will show up in Twitter feeds, other people use Flickr. Here’s a link straight to a GenCon search of Flickr, sorted so the most recent pics appear first.

Scotty’s Brewhouse: This bar/restaurant really gets into the spirit of GenCon. They give away (sell?) dice, and they’ve posted a bunch of pictures on their Facebook page. In fact, if someone wants to send me one of those dice, I’d be most grateful.

Podcasts:

This Just In From GenCon: 2 podcasts a day, straight from GenCon. They’ve posted a few creator interviews in the days leading up to GenCon that are worth a listen as well!

Jeff of The Tome Show shared an audio recording of the Wizards of the Coast GenCon Keynote, and will be posting additional podcasts from the convention.

UnderDiscussion: The Undergopher Podcast: Has already posted two episodes live from Inidianapolis.

Wizards of the Coast:

As a Dungeons and Dragons player, of course my focus is on D&D coverage. Wizards of the Coast did a livestream of their keynote address. You can find audio on The Tome Show link in the podcast section, and video here.

There’s also an additional link to planned WOTC video and photo coverage at the bottom of that page.

Blogs:

Brian of 2d6 Cents is at the convention, and sharing his experience.

Andrew Zimmerman Jones of Black Gate: Adventures in Fantasy Literature liveblogged the WotC GenCon keynote yesterday. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more blog posts before the convention ends.

Kevin’s Miniature and Hobby Table posted a great post focused including lots of photos from Day 1, I look forward to reading and seeing more from his blog.

Christian Lindke of Advanced Dungeons and Parenting made an intro post to GenCon, and is planning additional convention posts.

ScrapYard Armory blogging from GenCon with a focus on BattleTech.

Chris Davis of RPGObjects plans on posting from his 21st consecutive GenCon.

Eric’s Gaming Pulse: Eric is blogging his first visit to GenCon.

Outside the lines: Is playtesting his game Saturday at GenCon!

Geek-Life Balance: Daily summaries of the GenCon experience.

YouTube:

Team Covenant is doing interviews, playing demos, and unboxing new products on their YouTube channel.

Weird Review has posted two interviews from GenCon.

Craven Games also has several videos from the convention posted.

Blue Table Painting: Miniature painters and customizers with a great YouTube channel are providing some GenCon coverage.

If you’ve got a blog, podcast, or other relevant site, leave a comment below and I’ll add a link.

Posted in Convention Coverage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual GenCon Part 2 of ?

Dungeon Diorama from the Gale Force 9 booth at GenCon. Photo courtesy of @KatoKatonian

Torn between the sadness of not being at the convention, and the joy of being able to enjoy coverage from here in North Carolina thanks to Internet. Lots of jokes about flying cars and rocket packs, but we really are living in the future. Here are a few updates and additions to the Virtual GenCon coverage.

Blogs:

Brian of 2d6 Cents is at the convention, and sharing his experience.

Andrew  Zimmerman Jones of Black Gate: Adventures in Fantasy Literature liveblogged the WotC  GenCon keynote yesterday. Hopefully we’ll get a couple more blog posts before the convention ends.

Kevin’s Miniature and Hobby Table posted a great post focused including lots of photos from Day 1, I look forward to reading and seeing more from his blog.

Christian Lindke of Advanced Dungeons and Parenting made an intro post to GenCon, and is planning additional convention posts.

ScrapYard Armory blogging from GenCon with a focus on BattleTech.

Chris Davis of RPGObjects plans on posting from his 21st consecutive GenCon.

Podcasts:

Jeff of The Tome Show shared an audio recording of the Wizards of the Coast GenCon Keynote, and will be posting additional podcasts from the convention.

UnderDiscussion: The Undergopher Podcast: Has already posted two episodes live from Inidianapolis.

Twitter:

@GenCon : The official convention feed. Should have been in my initial post. Perhaps I should start writing next year’s post now so I don’t forget things like this.

Photos:

Scotty’s Brewhouse: This bar/restaurant really gets into the spirit of GenCon. They give away (sell?) dice, and they’ve posted a bunch of pictures on their Facebook page.  In fact, if someone wants to send me one of those dice, I’d be most grateful.

YouTube:

Team Covenant is doing interviews, playing demos, and unboxing new products on their YouTube channel.

Weird Review has posted two interviews from GenCon.

Craven Games also has several videos from the convention posted.

Posted in Convention Coverage | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wizards of the Coast GenCon 2012 Keynote: A Brief Summary

Photo thanks to @geeksdreamgirl

Just finished watching the livesteam of the GenCon Keynote address given by Wizards of the Coast. Here are the highlights:

1) Though other settings will be supported, the initial focus for D&D Next will be the Forgotten Realms. As part of the transition to the new edition, they will release The Sundering, a 6 novel series written by six different Realms authors:

  • The Companions by RA Salvatore
  • The Godborn by Paul S Kemp
  • The Adversary by Erin Evans
  • The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers
  • The Sentinel by Troy Denning
  • The Herald by Ed Greenwood

To use Ed Greenwood’s words “The Sundering will right the Realms.”

2) Early in 2013 WotC will begin releasing the Dungeons and Dragons back list of products from all editions electronically. To me, this is probably the biggest news of the night, though not entirely unexpected (@newbidm). I’m hoping this also means they’ve found a way they feel comfortable using to release D&D Next in a digital format when the time comes.

3) Playtesting will run for approximately 2 years, since we’re a couple months into playtesting, this seems to point to the game not being released until 2014, perhaps at GenCon, though that seems like a quick turn around from the end of playtesting to production.

4) Also on the playtest front, even though we just had a playtest packet release 3 days ago there will be two new playtest classes released tomorrow. The Warlock, and the Sorceror. The idea is to show off three different versions of magic, and showcase the promised modularity of the system. Also, though I don’t recall hearing this during the livestream, @wizards_dnd tweeted just afterwards that there would also be a new adventure released to the playtesters tomorrow. You’ll find the playtest packets here, though I can’t promise what time tomorrow the updated packet will go live.

5) Flumphs! What else can I say…Flumphs!

My Reactions: I’m glad to get the chance to view an event like that live from the convention, and I think the feeling of being a part of the action made even these little bits of information more exciting.

As a Greyhawk fan, and becuase it has seemed like they were trying to toss a few bones to old school gamers, I thought perhaps Greyhawk might become the default setting for D&D Next, especially since it seems to have been left out of 4E. So while I understand the reasoning behind focusing on the Realms, and look forward to the novels, I’m a little dissappointed.

While I’ll have to wait and see what the pricing looks like, I’m sure I’ll find a couple gems among the electronic releases to purchase and relive past gaming glories.

And perhaps the most exciting news, the playtest releases. Not sure why they just didn’t wait a couple more days for the new packet, but I do want to see how the different forms of magic balance against each other. I think the long playtest timeline is a good thing, though I wasn’t sure they’d get the chance to stretch it out so long. Hopefully all that public playtesting will lead to a stronger finished product.

And while not mentioned above, they did show off a number of pieces of artwork. The style seems a bit more classic. Monsters feel very weighty, while characters had a more classic fantasy feel.

Flumphs!

Posted in Convention Coverage | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtual GenCon Part 1 of ?

Yes, its that time of year again. Gamers are decending upon Indianapolis in droves for the 45th year of GenCon. I won’t be joining in the festivities, but thanks to the joys of the Internet and social networking, those of us stuck at home will have plenty of sources for GenCon news.

Here’s a brief list of some places you can check out to keep up with all the fun:

Twitter:

The hashtag #gencon should provide plenty of information. But here is a short list of folks who’ll be tweeting from the convention.

E. Foley aka Geek’s Dream Girl of geeksdreamgirl.com

Sages of RPG of Sages of RPG.com

@WilW aka Wil Wheaton is visiting GenCon again this year, and will almost certainly be sharing his experience online.

@Wizards_DnD the official Wizards of the Coast Twitter feed.

Flickr:

Lots of folks will be posting photos, and wihle some of them will show up in Twitter feeds, other people use Flickr. Here’s a link straight to a GenCon search of Flickr, sorted so the most recent pics appear first.

Podcasts:

This Just In From GenCon: 2 podcasts a day, straight from GenCon. They’ve posted a few creator interviews in the days leading up to GenCon that are worth a listen as well!

Wizards of the Coast:

As a Dungeons and Dragons player, of course my focus is on D&D coverage. Wizards of the Coast will be giving the first GenCon keynote address on Thursday at 7 PM eastern, and it looks like it will be livestreamed on the WOTC website.

There’s also an additional link to planned WOTC video and photo coverage at the bottom of that page.

So for the next few days I’ll be keeping my ears to the ground, and if I gather enough additional resources I’ll put together another post and share it here.

If you’ve got a blog, podcast, or other relevant site, leave a comment below and I’ll include you when I add part 2.

Posted in Convention Coverage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pizza Rolls

3 cans buttermilk biscuits
112 pepperoni slices
14 sticks mozzerella string cheese (out of a pack of 24)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Italian Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Jar of Pizza Sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut each cheese stick into four pieces.

Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Flatten biscuit. Place 2 slices of pepperoni on biscuit, followed by 2 pieces of the cut cheese sticks, and then 2 more slices of the pepperoni. Pull edges of biscuit over top of pepperoni and cheese. I tend to do this in 4 steps almost as though the biscuit were a square. Try to keep the roll sealed by pinching any small holes or rips closed.

Place in baking dish, lining them up in a 4×7 grid. Repeat process until dish is full (you’ll have 2 extra biscuits which you can either cook as plain biscuits, or fill the same way and cook on a seperate baking sheet).

Brush tops of rolls with beaten egg mixture, sprinkle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

Heat jar of pizza sauce either on stove top, or in microwave. Pizza sauce can be set in center of table for all to use, or spooned into small bowls/ramekins for individual place settings.

You can make these as a meal, or just as a party snack.

Notes:

I’ve made this twice now. The second time I only made 20 of them, using fewer ingredients, and leaving a bit of space between them in the baking dish making it easier to remove them from the pan. I’ve also considered simply using a large baking sheet.

They don’t say how much of the cheese, garlic powder, or Italian seasonings to put on top, but I’ve found you can be fairly generous without it being overwhelming.

I’ve included the original recipe below so you can see where I got my idea from, and what changes I’ve made.

Original Recipe:

My wife originally sent this to me on Facebook, so I don’t know what the original source for this is. Probably from Pillsbury since it specifies their brand of biscuits.

PIZZA BALLS!

3 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (10 per can)
56 pepperoni slices
block of Colby cheese
1 beaten egg
Parmesan
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
1 jar pizza sauce
Cut the block of cheese into 28 squares. Flatten a biscuit out and stack pepperoni and cheese on top. Gather up the edges of the biscuit. Line up the rolls in a greased 9×13 in. pan. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Bake at 425°F for 18-20 minutes.

Posted in Gamer Food | Tagged , | Leave a comment