Gift Guide to Geek Art Nov04

Gift Guide to Geek Art...

Like winter, Christmas is coming. And if you know anything about geeks, it’s that we love fan art. Since art is a big part of what we do here at Geekdom House, we’ve got the inside scoop on where you can go for your art lover’s Christmas gifts this year, including a list of some of the fandoms they cover so you can search this post for anything particular you’re looking for. That’s right, we did all the work for you. Or, of course, you could send your friends this link so they know what to get you. That works, too. 1. Paper Beats Rock Super Smash Bros. • Mario • Pokemon • Avatar: The Last Airbender • Spiderman • Venom • Attack on Titan • Big Hero 6 • Spirited Away • Gundam • Street Fighter • The Legend of Zelda • Link • Samus • Megaman • Fairy Tail • Natsu • Fullmetal Alchemist • Deadpool • The Flash • DragonballZ 2. Fabled Creative Pokemon • Jurassic Park • Retro • Space • BioShock • Supernatural • Mario • Batman • Fallout • Portal • Destiny • Luigi • Daisy • Mario Kart • Wario • Toad • Bowser • Maps   3. Otis Frampton Star Wars • Firefly • The Lord of the Rings • The Hobbit • My Neighbor Totoro • Doctor Who • Mad Max • The Legend of Zelda • Star Trek • The Big Bang Theory   4. Joe Hogan Art Pokemon • The Legend of Zelda • Majora’s Mask • Adventure Time • Mad Max • Final Fantasy • Cloud • Mario • Megaman • Spider-Man • Star Wars • Banjo-Kazooie • Stranger Things • Super Smash Bros. • Link • Peach • The Wind Waker • Rick and Morty • Ghostbusters • Sonic the Hedgehog • Journey • Mass Effect • Undertale • Halo   5. Sandara Fantasy • Dragons • Dungeons & Dragons • Myths   6. Wisesnail Art Sherlock • Deadpool • Guardians of the Galaxy • Rocket Raccoon • The Avengers • Harley Quinn • Suicide Squad • The Joker • Moriarty • The Falcon • Captain America • The Lord of the Rings • Vision • Groot • Assassin’s Creed • Doctor Strange •...

Fairy Tales are for Grown-Ups Sep28

Fairy Tales are for Grown-Ups...

“Without the dark parts it’s just some silly f—” Chronicler froze halfway through the word, eyes darting nervously to the side. Bast grinned like a child catching a priest midcurse. “Go on,” he urged, his eyes were delighted, and hard, and terrible. “Say it.” “Like some silly faerie story,” Chronicler finished, his voice thin and pale as paper. Bast smiled a wide smile. “You know nothing of the Fae, if you think our stories lack their darker sides.” Not long ago, I was reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and I stumbled upon this quote. A rush of mischievous emotion washed over me, and I caught myself cracking a wide smile. Two things dawned on me that day, which I swear I’ve known and forgotten a thousand times: 1) I was reading a fairy tale, and 2) Fairy tales are not just for children. My favourite half-memories are from when I was a child visiting a carnival. The world was new to me then, and I was just beginning to develop an understanding of its shape and turnings. There was not yet enough room in my expanding imagination for things so alien, exotic, and joyful. Flashes of neon illuminating the dusky dark; the atmosphere of popcorn and hot dogs; the Ferris Wheel under starlight; the taste of danger and adrenaline on the roller coaster. I don’t see this as running away from real life, but rather deepening my appreciation for it. This was a time and a place where the barriers between the worlds of child and adult were thin. The giddy anticipation and the thrill of discovery were electric, euphoric. The English language does not seem to have a word to fully capture what it was like, although “nostalgia” comes...

Confessions of a DM: Assuming the Enemy May16

Confessions of a DM: Assuming the Enemy...

In Dungeons & Dragons, it is very easy for players to categorize the beings they encounter into “us” and “the other.” “Us” are often seen as the playable races of Dwarves, Humans, and Elves, and are usually good-aligned individuals who are friendly and easy to get along with. “The other” consists of the races typically characterized as evil: Drow, Orcs, Goblins, and anything else classified as a monster or described as ugly. This concept is further aggravated as the book that contains the stats and descriptions for these “other” creatures is called the Monster Manual. Upon encountering one of these monsters, most players’ first reaction tends to be kill first, ask questions later. In a typical fantasy hack-and-slash game, this kind of thinking and method of gameplay can be expected and accepted as the way things are. As a Dungeon Master (DM), this binary trope is often the easy way to let the players know what I want them to do. I recently set up an encounter where a human merchant was being attacked by a band of hobgoblins. It was easy to predict what my players would do; they assumed the hobgoblins were evil, attacked them, and saved the merchant. After this encounter, I realized that I could continue this trend, but it would morph into a predictably boring game. The cycle of attack, loot, and ask questions later is easy, but not very interesting. There’s a whole lot of hidden fun that is left unexplored and ignored. I don’t have to hide in the safety of my bubble with other like-minded people. I could blame this tendency on my players, but the responsibility falls equally on my own shoulders. The players will often react in the ways that I train them. If...

NPCs Are People Too Feb29

NPCs Are People Too

One of my favourite parts of being a Dungeon Master is creating and playing the characters that the players interact with. An NPC (Non-Player Character) can be a person, creature, deity, or any other inhabitant of the world who is not represented by a player. It is part of the DM’s job to not only create a world for the player characters (PCs) to explore, but also to fill the world with living beings for them to interact with. The nature of the game puts the PCs at the center of the story. For all the players know, the world appears to revolve around their characters. Players can become conditioned to see NPCs as either quest-givers, loot fodder, XP farms, or final bosses. The world ends up being a vehicle to carry the heroes to fame, fortune, and victory. I am no more special than any of them, I just happen to be the one playing me. Very often, players are surrounded with NPCs that pop in and out of existence based on whether a player chooses to interact with them. All the shopkeepers in a market are glossed over unless a player wants to buy something. The beggar on the street is ignored unless the players think she has a quest for them, or is somehow significant to their story. Hundreds of guards can be killed and looted without a thought, but if a PC’s life is endangered, no power in the multiverse is going to keep his friends from trying to save him. Usually. If he brings snacks. This perspective can lead to a very black-and-white view of the in-game world. The people are immediately divided into two categories upon meeting them. The first is “useful.” This NPC is identified as friendly and...

Leeroy Jenkins and the C word...

Life was going well for me and my wife in the summer of 2012. I had recovered from changing jobs and was establishing myself in a new position with a new company. I was graduating seminary in a few months and we were attending a new church. My wife and I had plans for our future. “Hey, Rob? I have this lump here. Do you think I should see my doctor?” If you’ve played games online in the era after World of Warcraft, then you might know the story of the group of intrepid adventurers gathered in a room in Upper Blackrock Spire, where they strategize about a particularly difficult fight forthcoming. These heroes even go so far as to get totally geeky about it and calculate the odds of their success to a 32.333 (repeating, obviously) percent chance of success. That is, until one of their group decides to just charge ahead. “OK, times up! Let’s do this! Leerooooooy Jeeeenkins!” The stunned shock and silence that follows for that brief moment before the realization that Helena brought her handbasket and they were all in it? You know that feeling? “Hey, Rob? I have this lump here.” There is no way to “stick to the plan” because there is no plan any more. Yeah, so do I. At first, my wife and I attempted to “stick to the plan.” I mean, after all, it could be nothing. We made the appointment to see the doctor. I continued with my work testing software. We shifted our focus from one congregation to another. Neither of us was yet 40; something as outrageous as cancer doesn’t happen to people our age, right? “Well, we’re not sure what it is. It doesn’t feel quite like cancer. Let’s get some...

Player vs. character: a D&D tale Sep28

Player vs. character: a D&D tale...

After several months of playing my character, Aravahn—a human fighter who hates goblinoids and searches tirelessly for his long-lost love, Kaitlynn—I made a drastic decision during a turning point of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Reflecting upon this decision later, I began to wonder: Does a player more deeply influence their character, or does the character have a more profound impact on the player? At first, the answer seems quite simple. Of course I influence my character more—I created him so therefore he must think what I think and do what I say. It is true that a character is, at the very heart, a work of fiction. However, all fiction is based on some fact. It would be intellectually dishonest not to recognize the facets of a character I’ve created without recognizing the influence of my own personality upon it. I don’t believe I can breathe life into a new character without some part of me going with it. Even if the designed back story, race, features, traits, class, and skills would otherwise create a character devoid of any trace of their creator, once they begin to actually role-play, evidence of the creator becomes obvious for all to see. I played him for so long that the part of me that went into him became him. For example, one of my D&D buddies plays a paladin (an expedient choice for any Christian role-player) in one game and a rogue in another. However, his mannerisms come through in both. The biggest one is his propensity for ending sentences with the phrase, “so yeah.” He does this whether he is speaking in-character or out-of-character, which I find incredibly amusing. It should be noted that this individual is fairly new to role-playing, but even for veteran role-players,...

Fairy land meets real life Jun09

Fairy land meets real life...

Let’s face it: life is complicated. It is full of everything from screw ups, bad luck, failures, and never ending wrong turns. But the biggest part of life is learning how strange it is to be human. I consider Anodos from George MacDonald’s Phantastes to be a friend of mine (yes, when I read books, I often make friends). Maybe it’s because his wandering through fairy land is a journey much like my own, or maybe I just think we’d get along. After all, he’s good at slaying giants, and I like attacking Titans in the Frontier. Okay, maybe it’s more the journey thing. Anodos doesn’t mean to go to fairy land; he simply wakes up to the morning sun and there he is. Like him, I open my eyes every morning to a world that might as well be fairy land, for despite my years at living in it, I still don’t know my way around completely. The journey is the most important part, and it ought to be remembered. There is no map to life in these strange lands, not for me, not for Anodos. He doesn’t know where he is going; he journeys vaguely east and follows a river. Somewhere along the way a seed of wondering is planted in his mind. It doesn’t take long for him to start striving for a life worth living, even in the world of fairy. I can almost hear him ask, “but how?” How in this crazy world of accidents and mistakes do you find something worth doing? How often I have I wished I could meet one of the wise old women of fairy who would tell me exactly what I need to do that is worth my time. How often have I thought I...

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 2) May27

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 2)

There were boulders lining the top of the cliff, and enemy cutthroats hiding behind them. I counted at least four, and recognized Varis among them. They all wore the same black garb, so it was understandable, though incredibly stupid of them, that this group had mistaken Varis for one of their own. Varis must have just gone along with it. I padded forward so I was directly in front of Varis. He noticed and made clicking noises with his tongue at me, patting the ground in front of him as though I was some sort of pet that had come by for a scratch behind my ears. If squirrels could roll their eyes, I would have. I darted up to him and put my paw on his hand. He jumped back in surprise. “What are you doing? came a hiss from the shadows beside us. “Stay down or you’ll blow the whole thing.” An arrow pierced my side as I lunged forward. It barely tickled. This was getting me nowhere. I left Varis to make up some excuse and scurried as fast as I could back to Kriv, transforming back into my half-elf self. I explained the situation, and we came up with a plan. “Good luck,” I whispered to him as I walked back to the cliff base, ready for his signal. But before we could put the plan in place, there was a commotion at the top of the cliff, a yell, and a body came tumbling down, bloody, dead. I didn’t recognize him. I did, however, recognize Varis, who stood at the top of the incline with his sword dripping blood. More shouts pierced the silence and shadows flitted behind him. I took that as my cue and transformed into my most powerful form: a huge, white dire wolf. I leapt up the incline in several bounds to stand by Varis’s side, teeth bared at the oncoming enemies. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, I would have laughed at the surprised expression on Varis’s face as I bounded up the cliff. The enemies didn’t look too keen on approaching Varis now that he had a snarling wolf at his side, either, but we didn’t give them much chance to do any thinking. An arrow pierced my side as I lunged forward. It barely tickled. I was tough. I was winter. My claws were ice. my fangs were knives. I ripped the first enemy’s head off and tossed it over the cliff edge with my teeth. If squirrels could roll their eyes, I would have. Varis swung at one of them with his sword, but the enemy ducked and Varis lost his balance, keeling at the edge of the cliff. Then he pulled his dagger out of nowhere and stuck it in the enemy’s leg, pulling himself up from what would have been an untimely tumble, and causing the enemy to fall off the edge instead. I let out a heaving snort, the equivalent of a wolf chuckle. Rogues certainly were resourceful. Another arrow sailed past me from out of nowhere. The last of the cutthroats, wisely, turned tail and ran. “Oh no you don’t,” Varis growled, pulling out his longbow. I left Varis to deal with the runner, leapt across the chasm to the other side where the arrows were coming from. A second group of four enemies lay in wait, though by that time Kriv had made it up that side of the cliff as well, and they were no match for a dragonborn and a dire wolf. We met up after it was all over, dragged the bodies to cover and looted them. Exhausted, Varis and I collapsed for a quick rest while Kriv stood watch. Then the DM proclaimed the session complete; I got up from the table and went home thinking druids were pretty darn awesome. And that I still should never trust a...

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 1) May26

Never trust a rogue: a D&D tale (Part 1)...

The DM led our party of three down a path to infiltrate a camp of enemy soldiers. It was just nightfall, and up ahead loomed cliffs that jutted above either side of the path. “We shouldn’t walk through there. That looks like a perfect spot for an ambush,” said Kriv, a dragonborn whose scales glinted in the light of our torches and whose armour weighed more than I did. He probably made an intimidating figure to outsiders, which is a nice trait for someone who had my back. I glanced at Varis; the rogue’s hooded eyes revealed nothing of what he was thinking, as usual. Never trust a rogue, I thought. Just because I couldn’t forgive him for what he’d done in the past didn’t mean I wanted him to get his throat slit. I could’ve volunteered to survey the cliffs, but I was loathe to waste one of my druid transformations. And besides, with our luck we would be outflanked later on by kobolds somewhere; everyone would look at me for bear-fueled tankiness and then I’d have nothing but my staff to hold them off with. While I didn’t trust Varis to maintain his composure anywhere near a keg of ale—plus, never trust a rogue—he was a very good scout. “I’ll do it,” Varis said. Kriv and I nodded in agreement and the rogue left the circle of torchlight, his black cloak merging with the surrounding darkness. Kriv turned to me. “So, got a deck of cards, Lux?” he asked. “I do,” I replied. “Best two out of three?” “You’re on.” Five rounds later, after Kriv had proven he’d spent much more time in taverns gambling than I did, I glanced worriedly in the direction that Varis had disappeared to. The night was eerily silent. “He’s...