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27th of Spring, Year 256

The confrontation with the Yoyabo Goblin pit has, so far, been a slaughter. Between Azurei and Eclair’s magics and the heavy infantry’s martial skills we’ve wiped out the entirety of the Goblin’s surface forces and fought our way into the pit itself. That has slowed our advance down a bit, due to branching pathways and closer quarters, but we reached what seems to be the central hub of the pit and Chonck as sealed the entries to most of the main branches so that we can deal with stragglers more safely.

Unfortunately, despite the damage we’ve done to the Yoyabo Goblins, it doesn’t seem that they would be willing to surrender. I offered the option to a group we found headed by a Goblin called Clever, he used the opportunity to attempt an ambush on the party. A few of them escaped to further down the tunnels, but for the most part. For the most part it’s just been killing.

We did find a source of information on the Goblin King Eebaku though. A rather strange source of information, but still.

The Goblins had imprisoned one of their own at the bottom of a well as punishment for trying to trap Eebaku as a source of power. This Abcobra claims to have been down there for nearly a  year, sustained by her magics. She’s willing, to a limited vengful extent, to help us fight Eebaku and his Goblins and has what I can only hope is information on where we might get a weapon capable of harming him.

It would seem that there is a creature called the Eater of the Dead and that it may have or may provide materials to make a weapon we could use to harm a demon lord.

It’s a ways off, probably several days travel, so we would need to finish driving the Goblins out of Yoyabo and return to Caskfire to report and restock. There will need to be guards at the pit to prevent Goblins from returning to bother Caskfire while we are away. That would also require a change in scouting patterns. And above all that we will be relying on the Abcobra’s directions, so we should plan for extra days out or some manner of trickery.

I will need to talk to Churt about all of this. She may not want to put a guard detail at the pit or maybe she would want to try caving in the side tunnels instead. It would be for me to advise and her to worry over.

(Several paragraphs have been started and aggressively scribbled out.)

The Abcobra said that Eebaku was looking for someone in the area some time before our builders struck the earth. The time line seems to have coincided with when we were first scouting for a good place to start digging. Who would be important enough to a demon lord to bring him into the Plains of Burning?

Should I warn Churt that there might be cultists in Caskfire? It seems ridiculous to think. No one in the family would worship a demon lord. Would they?

Could the Abcobra be lying to try and secure our trust more securely? She is our only source on this. This and the Eater of the Dead too. If that were to be a trap, it could be a way to wipe out the fortress’s protectors and leave everyone else open to attack.

(A number of pages have been neatly cut from the journal.)

I don’t like any of this.

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House Keeping 7/17/19

Hey all, sorry about the non-starter of a week. I’ve been feeling ill the last few days, so nothing’s gotten done. Deeply unfortunate, but a thing that happens from time to time.

Just now, I’m planning on having the “Sunshine’s Journal” post up for tomorrow and then treating the rest of the week as a wash. That means that we’re going to start back on Monday with the usual dice review and roll from there.

Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

This is one that’s been giving me all kinds of trouble writing a review for. It’s one that I really enjoyed reading, but that is really hard to talk about without risking serious spoilers. Obviously something I want to avoid there. This one’s courtesy of netGalley. Here’s Mira Grant’s In the Shadow of Spindrift House. Enjoy!

In the Shadow of Spindrift House cover

Straight lines don’t exist in nature. There is no place for them among the curves, the twists, the softened edges. The House stands, all ruler straight lines and sharply measured angles, above a dying town that the sea reclaims street by street. The House stands, holding tight to its secrets and waiting. Harlowe Upton-Jones has been searching for answers for as long as she can remember. It’s what found her the teen detective group that would become her family. It’s what she’s good at. But a teen detective group can only stay teens so long and it’s all Harlowe can hope to do is find one last big case. One last big case to keep the band together or give the group a proper send off. One last big case that might find her the answers she’s been looking for since her parents’ murder. The legends surrounding Spindrift House twist in on themselves bending the Answer Squad’s story into something it was always meant to be, something it was never meant to be.

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant is decidedly Lovecraftian in its horror, which in a lot of ways makes it kind of hard to talk about. The house itself is this inescapable thing for Harlowe, something she’s been keeping back from showing the other members of the Answer Squad for years but that she also knows is the big mystery. The one that could make them hit the big time, the one she hopes will keep her friends together for a little longer. The book is a story of losing battles and inevitabilities, buried family secrets and friends growing up and growing apart.

A lot of the story is driven by Harlowe being desperate to hold on to her present, to avoid facing the future for just a little longer. She doesn’t see any prospects for herself, no colleges that would take her that she could afford to go to, the girl she loves is planning on moving on with her life now that the mysteries are drying up. It’s that desperate fear that takes them to the Spindrift house and let’s Harlowe make excuses to just stay a little longer and a little longer. After all, Addison would be so mad if they left  and missed out on the reward money. Or maybe she just imagined the truly creepy things going on, they should just take a little longer and keep looking. There’s a fair amount of that.

In a lot of ways, the atmosphere of the story builds on mundane fears and frustrations. The Answer Squad are at a point in their lives where they can’t really be teen detectives anymore, and Harlowe feels more than a little trapped by the changes she’s staring down. She’s the one with no plan. She’s the one that weird things are happening to in Spindrift house. In a lot of ways it feels like the mundane is the root of all Harlowe and, by extension, the Answer Squad’s troubles within the story. They’re high school graduates, so the local authorities don’t have as much patience for them solving mysteries the police couldn’t. There aren’t many mysteries headed their way anymore, so they can’t support themselves with it, so Addison is getting ready to go make something of herself and start a career. Harlowe feels adrift and scared that she’s going to lose the people closest to her, so she pulls out the nuclear option of final mysteries.

Then Spindrift house itself has this fantastic oppressive atmosphere. The weight of time and all the fears that have driven Harlowe to lead her friends here. The things that are just off, that are wrong in little ways that add up. Then, there’s a reprieve, a moment with the Answer Squad just being a group of friends. It eases up for a little while to let the reader breath and to restart the cycle of rising tension. The writing in In the Shadow of Spindrift House is tight and satisfying even as a number of things begin to feel more and more inevitable.

This is much further on the horror end of things than a lot of things I read. But a slow creeping sort of horror, an internal horror that’s too big to properly fight, as opposed to something more action oriented. That is absolutely to its credit. Grant did a fantastic job here, especially with regard to the atmosphere. So, of course In the Shadow of Spindrift House gets a five out of five from me. It makes me want more of this setting and this type of horror.

House Keeping 7/9/19

So, this week has been kind of a non-starter. I’ve been a little busy with things around the house and things for the blog have slipped a bit. I have been learning fun crafty things, so very much worth it. I’ve used a sewing machine for the first time since middle school. The dice bag I made turned out well, no extraneous holes and the seams were mostly straight. And I finally relearned hairpin lace crocheting, with luck I’m hoping to have my starter project a good enough chunk of the way done that I can also learn to connect finished rows.

As to things for the blog, I’m planning on having a book review done for tomorrow and I’m going to move the dice review for this week to Friday, so that’s still on the docket just not on its usual day.

Also, cat blob featuring that dice bag I made.

Catblob 2

I should probably try making them in more colors, but they still turn out pretty cute this way.

Catblob 1

That’s about it for this week. “Sunshine’s Journal” post is finally going up again Thursday, but that’s about it.

So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. I’m kind of thinking of posting the occasional crafty picture, like the cat blob or once I get the hairpin lace done more. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

House Keeping 7/2/19

Ever find yourself making excuses to put a book down, not because it’s bad, but because there’s something awful coming. There’s something awful coming and you know it, and you know the author has the skill to make it fantastic, but it’s going to hurt.

Yeah.

I’m sitting there on the book I’m reading now. I fully trust that the author is going to do something amazing with the last bit of this book. I’m sure that the ending is going to be satisfying. That it’s going to work really well. But it looks like amazing is also going to be terrible for the characters. Like any victory the protagonists eek out will be so Pyrrhic it hardly counts.

It really excites me, but I’m still wimping out for now.

Speaking of wimping out. I haven’t abandoned the “Sunshine’s Journals” posts, we’ve just had another week of not playing due to people being absent. I should have it up either this Thursday or next Thursday.

I don’t have a ton going on other than that. There’s a couple of things I’m working on getting outlined, things I want to try. The usual there.

Mostly I’ve been stress crocheting cat blobs.

But stress is temporary, and if I can get things worked out. Actually get things in line on life stuff. That’ll be a start.

The cat blobs help too though.

So, standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here feel free to leave a comment or a like. Little things, tell me if you want to see the blob cats or if you’re just waiting for the next Journal entry. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

It’s the first of July, Summer is happening, and you know what that means? That means it’s time for the same thing that happens every Monday. Dice! This is another set from the Dice Envy Original subscription box. Enjoy!

Acid Splash 1

Right, so the Acid Splash dice set’s June’s Origin box dice of the month. These are black dice, with sort of a goldenrod yellow paint, and reverse engraving to make the details pop and add an interesting texture to them. I really like the contrast and the bubbling effect.

That said, since the effect is reverse engraved and stands level with the face of the dice, there’s a lot of places where the paint isn’t even. It’s either too thin or it looks like the dice were turned while it was still wet and it flowed around the design. On it’s own that isn’t a big deal, a lot of dice need a paint touch up, but there isn’t a good, simple way of touching up the paint on these.

Acid Splash 2

Surprisingly, with all the extra detail, the Acid Splash dice are easy to read. That’s definitely helpful. The texture is pretty nice, it adds to the way the dice feel in hand. They roll well, as expected with acrylic dice.

That’s about the size of it. The Acid Splash dice are a solid set of dice with nifty decoration. The only real issue I’ve found with them is the paint being uneven and hard to fix, but that’s pretty minor. I really like the aesthetic of the Acid Splash dice, the bubbling controlled chaos. It makes me sort of wish I could get a set of d10s in this mold, so I could use them for World of Darkness, roll up some horrifying thing beyond the ken of modern mortals to throw at my players. So, yeah, they get a four out of five. I’m looking forward to building a character to use these with.

Alright everyone! How’s your morning? Not started yet? Night not ended yet? Either works, both are fine, because here’s where I give you all the link to a fantastic giveaway courtesy of the folks at Berkley Publishing. You’ve got 24-hours from the start of today to midnight on the 28th to enter for a chance at a physical copy of  Kali Wallace’s up coming novel Salvation Day. I’m not sure what I’m expecting from this book, could be zombies in space, could be a horrifying man made disease, but I’m excited to find out. It’s worth taking a shot in any case, so here’s the link.

Salvation Day cover

They thought the ship would be their salvation.
 
Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
 
But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.
 
And then they woke it up.

I’ve rewritten this at least three times. It was a lot of fun to think about and I kind of want to do a book vs series vs novella now, but I also didn’t want to just sit here comparing it to the web series. This one’s thanks to the awesome folks at Kids Can Press, via netGalley. Here’s Kim Turrisi’s adaptation of Carmilla. Enjoy!

Carmilla cover

When college freshman Laura Hollis’ roommate goes missing after a party she calls everyone she thinks might be able to help find her. Instead of help, she gets stuck with Carmilla, the roommate from hell, an aloof philosophy student who responds to seemingly everything with sarcasm. But the more Laura digs, the stranger things get. And the stranger things get, the more it seems like Carmilla knows much more than she lets on. The more it seems like Carmilla might be interested in her for less than nefarious purposes. What’s a girl to do with a mystery to solve, a very possibly vampiric roommate, and homework piling up by the day?

So, Kim Turrisi’s Carmilla is an adaptation of an adaptation, the Kinda TV web series of the same title started out in 2014 and has grown since. Being an adaptation can make things a little clunky at times, things that work well in video don’t always translate well to writing. But, it’s also not tied to a web cam anymore or just the initial script. The novel seems to tie in some things from parts of the web series’ setting that were introduced later as well as a few new scenes away from Laura’s updates regarding the missing girls mystery.

Not being tied to one web cam in one room is both a positive and a negative. The new scenes can be a lot of fun and add to the feeling of the setting and to Laura’s relationships with other characters. But, it can also feel like there’s just not quite enough to them or of them. The library scene stands out for me on this. We get Laura and La Fontaine and Carmilla breaking into the library and Carmilla knowing things that make getting where they need to be easier. That’s great, it adds to her as a character, it’s something new. Then they get into the library and things play out and are described nearly the same as they were in the web series. It didn’t feel as exciting as the characters being attacked by a flaming card catalogue should have been. It felt like I was being told what happened rather than seeing them experience it. There was a lot of room to expand or to fill things in a bit, and it feels like the author didn’t take it.

The exception to this feels like Laura’s crushes on both Danny, the TA for one of her classes, and of course Carmilla. Being in Laura’s head instead of just seeing her actress react, the reader gets a lot more details on how she feels about these two. Being into Danny because she’s sweet and straight forward in standing up for the missing girls and Laura herself. The attraction to Carmilla while still thinking she’s a terrible person and how that mellows into being into Carmilla the person. There’s a lot of internal stuff added here that makes it flow well.

There was kind of a weirdness about how some of the speech tags were done, especially when it comes to Carmilla. Maniacal laughter doesn’t really mesh with the whole disaffected philosophy student thing, or the whole aloof vampire thing, either way. Some things with Kirsch coming across as whiny, almost wimpy, in a way that feels odd given his whole friendly frat bro character. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that the tags that take me out of the narration feel too big for their moments or even their characters. It isn’t a huge issue, but it is a notable one.

It’s an interesting thing. I know that a lot of my enjoyment of the novel comes from my enjoyment of the web series. I know there were moments where I was left waiting for a particular bit or where something filled in a little bit more and it feeling better tied in for that. Turrisi’s adaptation does feel unfinished in places, possibly as a result of working from the script rather than the finished series, or maybe just as a result of things not translating well between one format and another. There are places where I felt thrown off by knowing there was more, and that does knock the book down a little for me. But I also want to see novels for the next two seasons and the movie as well. I’m left hoping that this is part of the lead up to something new coming, something more. I enjoyed Turrisi’s adaptation of Carmilla.

And that leaves the final score in a strange place. As a fan of the web series and knowing what they already managed, I would be inclined to give the novel a three out of five. But I also know that if I was just reading the novel on its own, knowing that the romancy aspect is a fair sized part of it, I would be more likely to bump it up to a four. So a four is where I’m going to leave it with the hope that, if there is a next book, it does all the things this one could have made this one fantastic.

Sort of a one more thing that I hope was a result of reading an ARC rather than the finished book. In the original season one of the web series La Fontaine isn’t specifically said to use they/them pronouns, it’s possible they aren’t entire out at that point, though they do go strictly by La Fontaine or Laf. As a result of this, she/her pronouns are used for them in the first season of the web series. The novel introduces them as gender queer, but still uses she/her pronouns for them in some places where the character speaking would know to not do that. It seems like the kind of thing that happened as a result of just transferring things over, but is also a sign that this could have been looked over again. That’s a big mistake to glance over.

House Keeping 6/25/19

So, the con was fun.

I finally have a dice tray and, thanks to Infinite Black running a special deal for Birmingham, a play mat. So I might start using one or both of those and filming my dice test rolls. It’d be kind of fun to ramble about the dice as I’m testing them. Not really a thing I’m finding super necessary lately, most dice sets I’ve gotten are pretty balanced. All the same, I know that’s a thing that can be a concern especially with more reasonably priced dice.

Jumping to the side of that, I should have a review done for Wednesday. Standard stuff there. It’s one that I’m really enjoying, but that also has some weird spots. Little stuff mostly.

I need to double check my notes for the “Sunshine’s Journal” post for this week with my DM. Spelling stuff mostly, but also we kind of ended the session still in a goblin pit with goblins still in it. Remember kids, when adventuring safety first is an optional rule.

But that should be about it.

Standard stuff, if you like what I’m doing here, feel free to leave a comment or a like. I feed on attention and it makes me likely to try new things rather than just talking about them. And, of course, if you really like what I’m doing here you can feed my caffeine addiction and buy me a ko-fi. After people-ing for a full three days, I could use the caffeine. In either case, have a great rest of the week!

Yellow Sign of Hastur

Late again, late again. But the dice are worth waiting for. I should know, I spend more than a month looking forward to Magic City Con to check out the Infinite Black booth. The Yellow Sign of Hastur dice are from Infinite Black’s Unspeakable Tomes collection. Enjoy!

YSoH 4

These are a fantastically presented set of dice. The grimoire dice box looks fantastic with the Yellow Sign on its spine and cover and the printed on details of the metal latches to hold it closed and the magic symbols on the front cover. It even has printed on page edges, giving it the look of a worn and well read tome. There’s a little bit of resistance from the magnetic closure when you open it, enough to be felt but not enough to be annoying. There’s a fantastic piece of art on the inside cover that’s also used on the “White Night, Black Stars, Dim Carcosa” play mat. All fun stuff.

YSoH 3

Inside the box, there’s both the dice and a lore card. Describing the Yellow Sign and its effect on those not dedicated to the Yellow King, the madness it can bring, the lore card is well made. It makes me look forward to reading the ones on other sets of these dice.

YSoH 2

On to the dice themselves though. I love the look of these dice both the places where the yellow and black clash and the parts where the black just sort of seeps through like an infection or a creeping mold. It’s lovely and bright and just pleasing to look at. There is the downside of the coloring though, that the gold inking is really hard to read from any distance. There’s not really a good way to fix that though and, I admit, I like the gold for thematic reasons

The Elder Dice sets come with the standard seven dice as well as two more d6, for a grand total of nine dice. Which is useful. The dice are pretty standard as far as feel goes. The inking is even and the detail on the Yellow Sign on the high sides is fantastic. They seem to be well balanced, though I haven’t tested these as much as I want to yet.

YSoH 1

So, I’m definitely going to be getting more of these. This particular set I feel like I would use for a character who’s having a face heel turn or who’s being revealed as an antagonist. The packaging makes for a fantastic display piece, I like the dice themselves, and the issue with the inking is something I can work around. So, yeah five out of five.