Ten Years, Twenty Years...

So, ten years ago to the day, I saw those 'new' Dark Eldar miniatures from Games Workshop, itself some ten years after I got my first Dark Eldar prior to going to university.  Only now, ten years on from that renaissance and twenty years from the initial inspiration, I have finally concluded painting the mass of those naughty piratical aliens along with the bits and pieces picked up since, all to a uniform-ish style.

Of course, they're now called Drukhari and I still haven't played an actual game with them, so that's only a partial victory.  At this point, I'll take what wins I can, though!  Think, just think of what I could achieve given another decade or two!


No, I don't have any pictures of them to post here, as that'll require some more actual planning.  When I do - when!  Not if! - it'll be much more impressive than the last group shot of them.


Ephael Stern - The Heretic Saint

Time for another lomg-winded review!

Ephrael Stern – the Heretic Saint, by David Annandale is follow-up to a two-decades old comicbook story about a Sister of Battle that has struck me as intensely disappointing.

It's not JUST due to the wild deviations from the previous stories' themes and plots, and in this case it would not really be a fair justification for criticism.

Over the course of the original series, it went through four writers, in each successive case the new scribe ignoring or misunderstanding some part of what came before, and adding their own angle that was quickly discarded in turn.  Thus, a detour into the wacky plot tangle of the comics:

The first book ends with Ephrael giving up the power and knowledge of the Daemonifuge to Hand, being restored to something of a status quo.  But by the next book she had magical powers again, and scribes a tome in her own blood of such vital importance that it is saved alongside an exploding ship with a new inquisitorial sidekick.  Then both tome and sidekick are abruptly gone, and she's on the run, pursued by allies and enemies alike.  In the final volume, the very framing device of the series is retconned to being a delusion, and Ephrael dies again in order to somehow earn her 'Thriceborn' title, although I'm sure she's already had more than three at this point...

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I haven't written in ages.  Not here, I mean.  Well, not just here.  In general.  Whenever do I find the time, I excuse myself with.  There's no time in the morning, and after work I'm in no mood for it.

No more.  Shut up, I tell myself: it's time to put words into form again.  So I've got one of those blank books that I'd been putting off writing in <i>because they're just too nice to ruin with markings, I justify</i>.  That, and a pen or pencil depending upon mood.

It is, after all, so much easier to actually write when writing, instead of writing via the medium of typing.  Yeah, that's the key.  That's the <i>secret</i>.  I'm sure it'll all be solved, and writer's block will be a thing of the past!  No more shall I procrastinate by writing on an internet blog instead of -


Necromunda - Not Entirely Redundant

Games Workshop, just over a year after releasing the latest edition of Necromunda — a year over which they released four supplementary rulebooks — have published a new book that replaces it.  The new book compiles all the rules, and a companion tome alongside it has all the gang rules.

Time to throw out those other five books, huh?  No use for them now, just a complete waste of money?

Not quite!

Many pieces of art from the books have not been reprinted (even when the opportunity has arisen, since there are duplicated pieces between the two books for some reason), as well as several pieces of quote text and even some rules stuff!  I made a list!

Of course, lots of rules have been updated or subjected to errata, but that's not worth worrying about; in those cases, why worry about something that's out of date?

Leaving that aside:

Necromunda: Underhive box set rulebook stuff that hasn't been reprinted:

  • The opening event log test log.  Those important global factory statistics are different and important!

  • Art on pages 7, 8, 13, 22, 26, 28, 48, 51, 67, 80, 85

  • Side-box quotes on pages 38, 47, 59, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77

  • The weapons in this book have descriptive text explaining their in-universe function, which is lacking from the newer book.

  • The scenarios in this book have example board set-ups that the newer book hasn't bothered with.

Gang War volume I stuff that hasn't been reprinted:

  • The event log once again; this is important stuff!

  • The campaign rules here (the Turf War system) are similar to, but fundamentally different from, the Dominion system embraced by the new printing. 

  • Art on pages 19, 37, 44, 49, 54, 57, 59, 65

  • Side-box quotes on pages 32, 33, 46, 47, 50, 51

Gang War volume II stuff that hasn't been reprinted:

  • The event log, always with the event log.

  • The rules for the Underhive Perils — weird things that have been drawn on supplementary board tiles that GW sells — have not been reprinted.  Weird, since you'd think that having the rules more readily available would sell more product.  Oh well.

  • Art on pages 39, 44

  • Side-box quotes on pages 10, 47, 48, 49

Oh dear, volume 2 looks pretty disposable, huh?

Gang War volume III stuff that hasn't been reprinted:

  • The awesome event log.

  • Art on pages 4, 5, 8, 33, 50, 74, 83 — notably, the caryatid art on page 33 is different from the one used in the newer book, even though the rest of the page layout around it is the same; I just found that weird.

  • Side-box quotes on pages 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 25, 29, 50

  • There is some discussion of different types of campaign settings and directions.

  • The campaign events table here can be found nowhere else.

  • Three scenarios have not been reprinted:  In the Dark, Prison Break and Monster Hunt

  • There is some nice photography of terrain at the end of the book.

Gang War volume IV stuff that hasn't been reprinted:

  • Event log.

  • Art on pages 12, 15, 53, 72, 80

  • Side-box quotes on pages 11, 92

  • Two scenarios: Settlement Attack and Escape!

  • The background test for psykers here is more in-depth than the newer printing.

So, there is some stuff worth salvaging.  I will keep the relevant pages, even as I chop up the other, worthless pages to craft myself a papier mache Redemptionist mask to hide my prideful visage from a judgemental Emperor.


Many Things

No-one reads this anymore, so that's why I haven't written anything here for a while.  Yet there remains a lot of stuff I wanted to write about and have to get out of my head, if only for my own satisfaction.

A while ago I posted here — and subsequently deleted — my going through some old Legion of Super-Heroes comics that I'd managed to get my hands on.  Specifically, the out-of-print Keith Giffen run on the book prior to Zero Hour.  The 'five years later' Legion, as they are often known.

I started off writing about just the first issue, with the intent of covering one per post.  Hah!  That would take far too long, and I couldn't be bothered with all that nonsense!  So, perhaps a shorter summary of opinion...

It's often been criticised for being dark, and it does indeed begin with the Legion split up and involve lots of death and an important planet being painstakingly destroyed over the course of a single issue.  The letters pages (which are hilarious to read) show that the readers had no patience for this — or for Giffen's Watchmen-esque ALL THE PANELS style — and one can see the changes taking place from issue to issue, much more delightful than it would have been originally with a monthly gap between each.

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Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

I've read the novel Frankenstein again recently, for the first time in years.  And I've realised that its not very good!

There's very little detail to anything that happens in the book.  The construction of the creature, the wedding, Victor concocting an excuse to travel to England - each is brushed over in a single line.  Far more time and attention is spent on repetitive ansty whining from both Victor and his creation, paragraph after paragraph of anguished whining.

The name Frankenstein doesn't even get used until Chapter 3 - 4, if you count the prologue letters, which are in total greater than any individual chapter!  And then, you can only realise it refers to Victor through context, as he chides himself!  Were it not also the title of the novel, that might even be a doubtful conclusion.  His mother's maiden name, the surname of Elizabeth's family, even Henry Clerval, all get name-checked before the eponymous character's name!  That's just shoddy.

The basic idea is great, as the many works it's inspired over the centuries can attest to, but this initial presentation of it is pretty poor.  Stripping out all the repetitive introspection would leave a tight short story.  It's padded out, and in all the wrong places.  Everything is told, not shown (makes sense, given the framing device, I suppose).


Death's Head was in a comic this week! Guardians of the Galaxy: Dream On by Marc Sumerak and Andrea de Vito (the latter was the artist on the awesome Dungeons and Dragons comic).  http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61146/guardians_of_the_galaxy_dream_on_2017_1

Unfortunately, it's not very good (and neither if this photo):

So, they seem to have gone with the design used from Keiron Gillen's run on Iron Man and SWORD, but specifically the low-detail renditions of Greg Land, lacking the cool glowing emoji-mouth he originally sported with that look.  Also, he seems to have shrunk down from his thirty-foot plus size he had then to being, what, ten feet?  Also, the speech pattern doesn't work, right?  Ninety percent of Death's Head's dialogue should be questions, yes?  Just throwing in a 'yes' here and there doesn't cut it!

There's even a part where someone calls him a bounty hunter to his face and he doesn;t respond by attempting to kill them!  #NotMyDeath'sHead

Still, the non-DH art is nice?  And the story is an unoriginal take on the perfect-dreamworld-inducing machine.

Yeah, I only bought the issue because of the promise of Death's Head, and I found it disappointing to my expectations.

The Wild Storm issue 3 however, was pretty exciting.  The opening sequence showing someone with the power to travel between visual media was beautiful, and worth looking over multiple times.  The story is still moving at a tremendously slow pace (and the issue endings seem random, as if it was all being written for trade only...) but I'm still sticking the course for now!  http://www.dccomics.com/comics/the-wild-storm-2017/the-wild-storm-3


This year of 2017, I actually went back to buying single issues of comicbook series.  I stopped doing that in 2016 when the comic shop I bought from closed, and got by on just trade paperbacks, saving money and cutting back on the quantity I was reading at the cost of being a bit more behind on 'current' stories.

This year, I went back a little.  Only a little.  I've mainly been sticking to the TPBs, except in a few instances.  I've started reading the new Justice League of America (featuring a cool team line-up plus Lobo) and The Wild Storm (weird 'superheroes' in an Ultimates / NextWAVE mashup), but the big one is Transformers.

The re-launching of 'Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye' as 'Transformers: Lost Light' is a great jumping-on point for starting reading it in singles.  The comic, written by James Roberts, is the best thing ever.  Reading through it, I do start wondering why I bother reading anything else and just don't go back and read older issues of the book that is witty, dramatic, clever, moving and still features giant robots fighting.  It does have an intricate storyline, and part of tradewaiting means that I'll be having to avoid internet spoilers, wich can be annoying.

So!  Now I'm up to date!  And finding that the book reads pretty differently in single issue form.  It's still just as witty, dramatic etc. as before (see above for proof), but the beats seem off.  This last issue, number four, has several 'cliffhanger' moments, but they don't have the tension they should.  In a TPB, where the reveal will be a few pages later, they're not bad.  With a monthly wait, there's not enough there to justify breaking off the story there.  The panels I put above, for example?  Drift and co. follow Rodimus and react in shock to something off-panel.  Were I able to turn the page tpo find out what it was, that would be cool.  If there was some hint as to what it was, there'd be anticipation for an explanation in a month.  With nothing to work on, I'm left empty.

Also, new character Anode seems to be all over the story, and I can't find any ability to care about her at all.  Every other character in the series has inspired some sort of feeling (even that asshole Getaway), but Anode comes out of nowhere and doesn't seem very compelling to me at all.

Since I am as up to date as I am, I shall write down here a guess at one of the mysteries in the story: Rung transforms into an actual rung, a missing step on a ladder of some special sinificance.  Why not?

One of the Marvel TPBs I've been reading has been the Unbelievable Gwenpool.  I buy it in its localised, UK-printing by Panini publishing (as I do Thor, and any other series popular enough to warrant it).  As you can see from the picture above, the UK printing (to the right, the US on the left) is made of thicker, less 'wavy' paper, with a neater trade dress.  It costs less, as well.  Word to the wise, there...

Volo's Guide to Monsters

<a href="http://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop-games/rpg-products/volos-guide-to-monsters">Volo's Guide to Monsters</a> is a Dungeons & Dragons book that is intended to give a lot more detail to the more iconic monsters of the setting.  Well, the Forgotten Realms setting, at least.

It starts off covering a few of the bigger species in detail, from Beholders to Yuan-Ti.  There are lots of random tables for varying monster personlities and appearances, and a few maps showing example lairs, but most of it is given over to describing the lifestyles and motivations of the creatures.

And here's where being Forgotten Realms-centric is bad.  Most of the monsters are described simply as mindless servants of their gods.  The various races of goblinoids war and enslave only because their own gods were conquered by another.  Orcs live only to destroy in the name of their gods.  Gnolls go a step further, not even being a naturally born species, but one whose new members are transformed from regular hyenas.

They certainly do a good job of de-humanising the creatures - they are unmistakably monsters, with no fear of moral worries over sluaghtering them as a hero.  Good in some ways maybe, but it kinda makes them all run together.  Gnolls, orcs and goblins are all god-driven warmongers.  Not much room for distinction between them.

The details on giants are interesting, but a lot is stuff that was already covered in the Storm King's Thunder adventure, so why they didn't just fold it into there are give a bit more space to some of the other monsters, or add another, I don't know.

There are some new player races described in the book, of two types.  Some are fully written up, others are half-hearted write-ups of monsters - so orcs and goblins are here, but not given as much attention as goliaths or aasimar.  A bit weird that lizard-men get the full treatment though, even when the text itself goes to great length to say how their 'reptile brain' makes them incapable of properly functioning with warmbloods!

One point worth noting:  the kobold backstory in this book matches up with past ones, saying that they live in communities where they all work together for the greater good.  There's even a mention in this book of how humans think kobolds are stupid when a single warrior will try and fight off superior numbers, when all they're really doing is buying time for the rest of the tribe to escape.  And yet, under the kobold character creation bits:  "Kobolds are fundamentally selfish, making them evil".  Is a race where every member works together in unity, and is willing to sacrifice itself for its family, really something that we're meant to see as 'selfish'?

There are new monsters rounding out the book, both expanded examples of the monsters that had the big write-up, as well as some other weird ones (froghemoths and flail snails?).  The formatting in this book is horrible. In some cases, the descriptive text for one monster will run over next to illustration for the previous creature and the stat block for the following beast!  How hard is it to ensure that text, numbers and picture all match up on a page?

I can't hep but compare this book to the 4th edition Threats to the Nentir Vale book, which had a similar intent.  But rather than give general overviews of species it gave detailed write-ups on specific groups in the world, with locale and motives, named leaders...  All fit to distinct pages, to boot!  Much more useful for creatures that could be slipped into a campaign.

Neogi are in the book.  But as a final insult, this line is included:  "Ships that sail between the stars?  Next ye will spin tales of a talking hippopotamus that walks on two legs and carries a bow."  Bah!  So, the froghemoth is a legitimate, serious monster to include in the book (which also has cat-people and mer-folk as player races) but hippo-dude gifs are too silly?  Bah!

Speaking of silly, the reason for that 'ye' in the quote is that the book is peppered with comments from Volo and Elminster.  The latter, being an annoying wizard that no-one likes, uses 'ye' a lot.  Neither adds much to the book, and for Volo having his name in the title, he doesn't contribute a lot.  The book is not written 'in-universe' at all, but from the usual omniscient GM voice.  Volo, if his lines were all compiled, might be able to fill just two pages.  None of it as funny as intended.

JAWSOME Conclusion

The thrilling conclusion!  Not that it took this long to play the second half of the were-shark adventure, just that long for me to bother to type it up.

The bar-crawling trio o' sharkboyz get lured outside by the bouncers, and from there led on to the park.  The meditatin' pair are there already, and it turns out that both groups are being attacked by the same team.  Who, you ask?

A pack of silly werewolves, who though that shark people were a crazy monstrous mutation of some kind.  Pff, as if dog-men are any better, right?  So they attack us, one of them drawing a magic knife of some sort.  We soon wrest this away from him, and use it to gut all but one of the attackers, a red-dressed wolf-woman who scarpers pretty sharpish.

Unfortunately, our shaman was pretty beat up in the scrap, so we accept the offer of the friendly woman from the restaurant to head to her place to get patched up.  So, a group of humanoid sharks sit around uncomfortably while one recovers slowly, and a knock comes at the door.  The very guy that we'd been looking for - the bad guy, not the Shark Jesus - is there waiting for us, with a group of cultists!

He'd come to get the girl, but we were haing none of that.  He gets a gut-full of magic knife and expires pretty quickly, reverting back to his natural form of a hulking great shark.  His underlings scurry off with his body, and one of out number gives chase through the streets.  Another chooses to cut them off y jumping through the window into the street, but takes such an impact upon landing that she freaked out and went on a rampage...

The cultists are caught up to, their leader about to sacrifice Shark Jesus, and our single present member is just too slow to stop him.  The ritual was completed, and the city of New York was exposed to the terrible force of a wersharknado.

Failure?  Who knows?