All posts by Dragonhelm

A prude? Nah, just different.

I’m a teetotaler. I hate the taste of alcohol. Oh, yes, it’s an acquired taste, or so I hear. That just tells me it wasn’t good to begin with. Plus you can act stupid (which I can do very well on my own, thank you) and you’ll have regrets the next morning.

I never really went to any parties, either. Not any “real” parties. I got invited to one that Tina Graham was throwing. She just knew I wouldn’t be there. I showed up to prove her wrong (I’m ornery like that), but when I got there, she was already passed out. Talked to Nikki some. It became evident quite quickly that this just wasn’t my type of environment. I left shortly thereafter, especially since the police were right across the street.

I say all of this not to demonstrate what sort of “prude” I am, but rather to say that we don’t all beat to the same drum. I’m different. I’ve always been different. I like to have fun, sure, but I think what I define as fun and what other people define as fun are two different things.

Sometimes I regret that I never fit in better. But then I start to think about it, and I realize that this wasn’t such a bad thing after all. I think it made me stronger. I have the strength to say no, to walk my own path, and to realize that it’s okay to do so.

I also believe that my path has earned me a certain amount of respect. No, maybe I won’t get invited to parties. But that’s okay. I’ve had some amazing adventures of my own, some that transcend parties and booze. I have hobnobbed with authors, been published, traveled to Yellowstone, and journeyed upon fantastic worlds of the imagination. I will take that any day of the week.

My Dad…The Invincible!

My dad is invincible. This is a fact set in stone. You might think that this is the case for any boy, but my dad is more invincible than your average invincible dad. Indeed, I have seen him pull off the impossible time and again, and always he survives. He never fails, and never falters.

My dad is a World War II veteran who, to this day, carries kamikaze shrapnel within his body. For that, he has won the Purple Heart. He has worked on an automotive assembly line for 28 years, and has since retired. He works extensively in the church, and even served as pastor for five years in the process. He is an honorable man, who would give you the shirt off of his back if you asked him to. During most of this time, he also owned and operated a 200 acre farm, raising all manner of livestock, and has worked the fields as well. He stands a half foot shorter than me, but I know that he could still give me a run for my money.

I notice that he gets flustered a lot. This is caused by his desire to make the world a more perfect place. It shows in all facets in his life, from his farming to his work within the church. He knows that he can’t fix the world. This is especially hard for someone who is a fix-it man. Yet he tries constantly to do what he can to make the world a better place.

We had a family reunion at our house one summer. It was a warm, beautiful summer day. The sun was shining, and the sky was perfectly blue. I was a young boy at the time, and everyone in my family that I did or did not know showed up. I had not seen many of them in a very long while. As you can imagine, it was the absolute worst time for a tragedy to occur.

My dad wanted to get our farm looking as good as it could. He decided to hook up the mower to the tractor, and touch up the place. He even tried to mow the pond bank. In so doing, he rolled his tractor. I have heard of countless people who have killed themselves when their tractor rolled on a pond bank. No one survives that.

No one, that is, save for my dad! I knew that the tractor flipped. As I looked on in unspeakable horror, I saw my dad rise above the pond bank with a scowl and a look of embarrassment on his face. We all rushed to him and asked him if he was okay. As it turns out, the only thing that was hurt was his pride.

So it went throughout the years. My dad has tangled with tractors, finagled with flagpoles, battled with bulls, persevered against pugnacious pigs, and he even survived the Reagan Administration, being the stern democrat that he is. There was even a time that he survived sharpening his leg upon his chainsaw. Yes sir, my dad is truly invincible.

Or at least I thought he was, until he had his stroke. It was around mid-January 1999 when I received a phone call from my mom. I was at work, thinking only about the tedium of my day when my life was turned upside down. My dad had been taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed as having a minor stroke. If you ask me, no stroke is minor.

This was a blow to my sense of reality, at least as far as it concerned my dad. I rushed to the hospital to see him bedridden. I still couldn’t believe that this was going on. This was my dad! He’s invincible! Oh, he could get around, but he was supposed to have someone help him at all times. He is a prideful man, and as such didn’t want help from anyone. He never has asked for help in his life. For the first time, he had to. By the time he got out of the hospital, I’m sure the nurses were glad to get rid of him.

You don’t just get over a stroke. You never do. He works with his diet and tries his best to exercise. It is a constant battle that he fights every day. In some ways, it is a more dangerous enemy than any he faced in World War II. He knows that he will never be to the point that he was once at, but he has come somewhat close. I know in my heart just how much it frustrates him, not being able to do what he once did.

Now my dad is back in his wood shop making crafts. He still makes them too fast for my mom to paint, even though he is slower than he used to be. Sometimes he needs to lean on a shopping cart in the grocery store, even as he leans upon his faith every day to make it through. His days vary from good to bad. However, he has family to count on who will help him through.

His two-year-old grandson, especially, keeps him going. For in his grandson, he sees a reflection of himself. He sees a short bundle of energy who can not be defeated by the world. He sees curiosity on how the world works. And he sees a kind heart.

I, for one, know that my dad is going to be okay. Why?

Because my dad is invincible. He doesn’t quit. He takes every day in stride, and doesn’t falter, no matter what cards he has had dealt to him in life. He has always taken care of his wife and son, and done right by those around him. His body may not be what it once was, but it is truly his spirit that is invincible.

If our spirits are strong, particularly strong in the love that God gives us, then we can all be invincible.

Crystalmancy: The Powers of Gems Review

Crystalmancy: The Powers of Gems is, simply put, a sourcebook on crystal magic. Overall, I thought this book was great. It was simple, to the point, and refreshing. One of the big selling points is that the zip file includes both a color and a black-and-white copy, just in case you don’t have access to a color printer. Just a note to those who print this out – be sure to print as ‘landscape’, rather than ‘portrait’. At first, it looks a bit odd in a 3-ring binder, but I think that adds to the charm.

Chapter One is about the Crystalmancer, a new base class modeled after the Player’s Handbook wizard. Scribe Scroll is replaced with a Spellcrystal ability, and the bonus feats are replaced by various Crystal Mastery abilities. What unbalances this class, though, is that it adds several trinkets at every even level, some of which are near equivalents of metamagic feats.

Don’t want to add a new base class to your campaign? No problem! One can always use the variant Crystalmancer prestige class instead. This is, unfortunately, the only prestige class in the book. I would have liked to see more. Perhaps something akin to the Crystal Proselyte in Malhavoc’s Mindscapes.

This chapter ends with two new feats (Craft Spellcrystal and Create Crystal Familiar), and a Knowledge (Gemology) skill, as well as a sidebar on spellcrystals. This section could have been better labeled, and would benefit from some touch-up layout work. It isn’t clearly labeled otherwise.

Chapter Two is Magic of the Gems, a guide to all sorts of new spells. What I like about this chapter is that it not only has a sorcerer/wizard/crystalmancer spell list, it also has one for bards, clerics, and druids as well. In other words, one can be nearly any spellcasting class (save for paladin and ranger) and be able to use crystalmancy spells. There’s tons of great spells in this chapter, including a particular nasty called Crystallize Blood. That one sends shivers up my spine.

Chapter Three is Crystal Items. This provides an assortment of magical weapons, armor, and other items, including some artifacts as well.

Chapter Four is Locations and Personalities. This chapter includes the Plane of Crystal, a place similar to our world, but made of crystal. There’s a map, as well as various places of interest. Meet Tresmril, Lord of the Crystal Realm while you’re there. Plus, there’s some adventure hooks. There’s also a group of Crystal Keepers, various Crystal Lords, and even a nifty language called Crystil. The alphabet corresponds to the English alphabet, which makes for a fun tool for game masters to add flavor.

Chapter Five is Gem Beasts. This has several new monsters, including a Crystal Creature template and sample Crystal Worg. There’s various other monsters, including a gem dragon. One can even play the Berylis as a player character race.

Overall, this book was a great read, and a lot of fun. Most of my criticisms are nitpicks (i.e. layout on the skill-and-feats areas), and the only real area of concern is game balance for the Crystalmancer base class. I would have liked to see more prestige classes, and it may have been nice as well to delve into the relationship of crystalmancers and psions, especially on how they each use crystal. This is not really necessary, though.

This book was simple, to the point, and covered what it intended to cover (the magic of crystals) quite well.

The Verdict

THE GOOD: I found this book to be quite fun and refreshing. It’s hard to find new ways to keep spellcasters fresh, but this book does it well. There’s an underlying thoughtfulness for those who buy this, not only for player options but for the color and black-and-white versions.

THE BAD: This book could stand a bit of touch-up on layout (and that’s really a nitpick), and could stand to have more prestige classes. It may have been nice as well to delve into the relationship of crystalmancers and psions, especially on how they each use crystal.

Kurrelgyrre’s Guide to Playing Force-Using Wookiees

Chuck was excited about his new Star Wars game. He had recently bought the d20 version of the Star Wars role-playing game, and had his group together. Tony was playing a scoundrel, Karen and her new boyfriend Jeff were playing a pair of Twi’lek scouts, and Larry was playing a noble from the Republic. Chuck was most interested in his other player, Kenny, who always had a surprise or two when it came to role-playing. Kenny had a smirk on his face, one that Chuck knew all too well. This meant trouble. “Kenny, whatcha playing?”

Kenny looked up, smiled, and said, “I’m going to play a Wookiee Jedi!”

Introduction:

Playing a Wookiee Jedi or some other Force-using Jedi is always an enticing prospect for many a player of the Star Wars roleplaying game. Combining the might of the Wookiee with the power of the Force makes for quite a challenging character!

This article will give some tips on role-playing Wookiee Force-users, and will focus primarily on playing a Wookiee Jedi.

Can a Wookiee Become a Jedi?

According to all the rules, Wookiees can most certainly be Jedi. They have a strong affinity towards nature, and should be able to call upon the natural powers of the Force.

Now ask yourself that question again, this time from a role-playing standpoint. Can a Wookiee be a Jedi?

Our primary example on Wookiees is Chewbacca, who was known for his Wookiee rage and temper. Indeed, even the rulebooks mention Wookiee rage. Can a race with so much rage become a Jedi?

Becoming a Wookiee Jedi:

One could become a Wookiee Jedi in many ways. During the Tales of the Jedi and Rise of the Empire eras, there would be some testing to see if a character had Force potential. A Wookiee who was trained since birth could have definite control over his rage.

In the New Republic and New Jedi Order eras, Jedi are rare enough as it is. Wookiees who demonstrate Force abilities may very well find themselves contacted by the Jedi Academy.

Wookiees have a harder time becoming a Jedi during the Rebellion Era. Finding any other Jedi is nigh impossible, and even if they did – would the Jedi actually train a Wookiee?

One of the most interesting ways for a Wookiee to become a Jedi is to have the Wookiee be Force-sensitive and then owe a life debt to a Jedi Master. The Wookiee may feel obligated to become a Jedi padawan himself. With my character Kurrelgyrre, I had him owe a life debt to a Jedi Master who had died saving his life. Kurrelgyrre felt so strongly about his life debt, that he spent the rest of his life searching for Jedi, and trying to fill the void left by the loss of his old master.

Wookiee Rage vs. Jedi Control:

Wookiees are known for their rage. Han Solo mentioned how Wookiees were known for pulling people’s arms out of their sockets. Jedi, on the other hand, must maintain control so as to master their emotions and their Force abilities.

How then does one reconcile the two?

The answer is that you don’t, or at least not wholly. The conflict between rage and control is a fascinating one, to say the least, and is one that many players and game masters can have fun exploring.

The key concept here is that there must be a line that the Wookiee Jedi walks on. He strives for the light, but is always a step away from the dark.

Pitfalls of Wookiee Jedi:

The biggest pitfall to playing a Wookiee Jedi is what I like to call “Chewbacca with a lightsaber”. Certainly, Chewbacca is our prime example of what a Wookiee should be. However, not all Wookiees are Chewbacca.

Also, make certain your Wookiee Jedi fits the group you’re playing with. Nothing can bring a game down like having a Wookiee Jedi in a group of smugglers and bounty hunters. While this is a general rule of thumb for any character, the Wookiee Jedi can be exceptionally bad, due to Wookiee temperaments.

Force Adepts:

Not all Wookiee Force-users become Jedi. Some turn towards the path of the Force Adept.

In ancient times, Wookiee Force-users were known as the Lorraccannash, or Spirit Shamans. Spirit Shamans could feel the power of the living forests around them, and drew upon the life energy of Kashyyyk.

The Lorraccannash are very rare indeed. Ancient legends says that they only come about once every thousand years, although actual accounts often show a different tale on their frequency.. Often, the Lorraccannash are seen as spiritual leaders and prophets, who bring about times of great peace and prosperity.

One Lorraccannash from ancient times turned away from the path of light set about by tradition, and became a Chabbrakkash, or Devil Shaman. Brekkatharral the Marauder, as he is recorded in history, gathered the dark creatures of Kashyyyk’s forests and nearly destroyed his Wookiee brethren. He was eventually stopped, but at the cost of many lives.

Wookiee Force-users in modern times are more aware of the greater galaxy, and often turn towards the Jedi way. However, the path of the Jedi is not for all, and some Wookiees follow the path of the Lorraccannash even in modern times.

Whether a Wookiee follows the path of Jedi or that of Lorraccannash, they are all respected the same as Spirit Shamans.

The Dark Side:

The Dark Side is an easy one for the Wookiee Force-user. A Wookiee’s rage opens him up to the path of anger and hate. Many take the Rage feat found in the Dark Side Sourcebook.

Wookiee Dark Side users usually take on the Dark Side Marauder prestige class found in the Dark Side Sourcebook, combining their awesome fighting prowess with their skill in the Force. Wookiee Force Adepts make prime candidates for this prestige class, taking the path of the Chabbrakkash, or Devil Shaman.

The Sith disciplines are often too structured, and require too much control for a Wookiee Force-user. However, it is not impossible for a Wookiee to become a Sith, especially a Sith Warrior. The few Wookiee Jedi there have been have always been susceptible to the Sith way, as only Jedi training can give the Wookiee control enough to handle the Sith arts.

Final Thoughts:

Playing a Wookiee Force-user is not always an easy task, especially for those who choose the path of the Jedi. Always remember that control over the Force will always be at odds with Wookiee rage.

The rewards of playing such a unique character can be very rewarding, especially with the work it will take to make a Wookiee Force-user a success.