Wednesday, May 30, 2012

D&D Next: Magus

This is inspired by the gish class of the same name in the Pathfinder RPG.
My thought is that the Wizard could take the following theme and maybe this background.

Theme: Man-at-Arms
Benefit: You can wear all armors and can use all basic weapons, 1 martial weapon of your choice, and all simple missile weapons.

Background: Warmage*
Magical Lore +3
Perception +3
Survival +3
Background Feature: Toughness
Gain 1 additional Hit Point each level.

*This may be too good.

D&D Next: Ember Drake

Ember Drake
Evil Large beast
Initiative +2
AC 14
HP 115
Str 18 (+4)     Dex 12 (+2)    Con 14 (+2)
Int 7 (-2)        Wis 14 (+2)     Cha 6 (-2)
Space/Reach 10 feet/5 feet
Speed 60 feet
Melee Attack claws +6/+6 (1d6+4 slashing/
1dt+4 slashing) and bite +6 (1d8 +4 piercing)
Special Traits tailslap; vulnerable to poison damage
XP 450

    Tailslap three per day an ember drake can take an extra attack with it's tail.  If it hits with it's tailslap, the target takes 2d6+4 bludgeoning damage and is knocked back 10 feet.
    Vulnerability ember drakes have poison damage doubled against them.
    Combat:  Ember drakes are smart and vicious.  They will stalk and ambush their prey with great patience.  They prefer to tear at their target with claws and finish them off with their bite.  It's not uncommon for them to surprise a secondary victim with a quick snap of their long tail.  
     Habitat and Socity:  Ember drakes are created through a magical ritual generally practiced by Cults of Nilat the Corrupter.  The process requires a duck egg and nearly 2 years of foul ceremonies.  Ember drakes can be trained, though they are very willful.  They are far smarter, than most would anticipate and are easy to underestimate.
    Legend and Lore:  Their tails are useful for rituals and material components.  Their hearts are a delicacy and fairly valuable.  Less know is that their rear left paw is necessary for a specific darkness producing ritual, Gloaming.  With much commitment, ember drakes can be trained, but will never be fully broken.  The sage, Korwin of Nuln listed ember drakes as the scouts for Nilat's worshipers.




DnD Next is copyright Wizards of the Coast.  This a fan work and not a challenge to their copyright in any way.

D&D Next: Monk

Background: Ascetic Monk
Climbing +3
Perception +3
Stealth +3
Background Feature: Meditation
You can go twice as long without food or water as normal.  And you only require half as much rest as normal.

Theme:  Martial Artist
Benefit: Your Unarmed Strikes do 1d6 damage, instead of 1d4.
Special: Human Martial Artists do 1d8 damage.

Theme: Acrobat
Benefit: You gain a +2 Dodge bonus to AC.










DnD Next is copyright Wizards of the Coast.  This a fan work and not a challenge to their copyright in any way.





Monday, May 28, 2012

D&D Next and Have a wonderful Memorial Day

Mr. Mearls has posted a great article about why certain decisions were made in the playtest and how you can change them.  

It's got me assuming the additional +1 to hit with Ray of Frost and Shocking Grasp is a High-Elven racial trait with Magical Attacks.

And I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day.  I'm thankful to all of the men and women who have served and died for our country.  Thank you for your sacrifices.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reactions to DnD Next Open Playtest

WotC has released their Open Playtest and the internet is reacting, good and bad, as we all suspected.  I can't say I'm surprised at the negative backlash, but some of the arguments perplex me.

There has been concern about fracturing the fanbase...could it fracture much more?  I think once we see more of the playtest, it will become apparent that quite a bit of what they're working on is designed to work within DnD Next, but more importantly, easily fit into other editions/retroclones.  Since the key to DnD Next is Ability Scores and all editions of DnD use them, it's a strong possibility that WotC hopes you'll play their game, but at the very, very least buy their books to use with your version of "DnD".  That's what seems to have changed the most to me developmentally, WotC is less concerned with trying address every conceivable rules situation (which with a game as big as DnD is understandable) and more accepting of the empowerment of the DM and acknowledging that your DnD and mine are not necessarily the same.   And that's OK and you can still buy are books to use for your DnD.

I've seen people complaining that the stat blocks in the DnD Next Caves of Chaos being too simple.  You read that right.  Now stat blocks are too simple!  Apparently there is concern about that a monster's Saves are to complex now and that a DM has to look up their Ability Scores.  My retort is that now I can simply improvise their Abilities and go from there.  Not that I couldn't have done something like that in previous editions, but I think anchoring everything to Abilities is much easier to learn as a player and more importantly to new DM's.

People seem to also be angered that WotC is reaching out to the OSR.  But what are they supposed to do?  Ignore us, which many people got angry about?  WotC has noticed that the OSR is a source of money and customers.  As a company they want to reach out to customers and make money.  Just like Paizo or Goblinoid or TSR before all of them.

The Open Playtest is a marketing ploy.  There is nothing wrong with it and its not that different from the Pathfinder Playtest or Goblinoid making a free, no art version of Labyrinth Lord.  I'm going to say that right now, WotC is marketing better than with 4E.  I'd say that has more to do with Hasbro than personnel  at WotC.  In fact, whatever strikes WotC is making is probably because Hasbro is too busy raking in Magic: the Gathering money than trying to turn DnD into Magic.

My last point is not meant to be negative, but realistic.  As long as Hasbro owns DnD, we will go through all of this within the next 5-8 years for DnD 6E.  Hasbro has shown with 3.5, 4, and Essentials that the easiest way to make money in this industry is just to redo the rules.

Duchy of St. Cuthbert Chapter 1: Open Playtest

Our Pathfinder game was a no go, due to no shows.  But I still had 3 players and another player was interested.  4 is a game, so off we went.

The Cast:
Matthias Doomgrinder, 1st Level Elven Fighter (basically mixed and matched the Dwarven Fighter & Elven Wizard).

Braun Ironfall, 1st Level Priest of Moradin from the nearby Thard Harr Seminary.

Wilhem "Wilm"  Lotuseater, 1st Level Elven Wizard from the nearby magical College of Exeter.

Esmeralda "Esme" Toomy, 1st Level Halfling Rogue Thief.

•  A monster has been rampaging through the Duchy of St. Albus Cuthbert for several weeks.  Four heads of cattle have been found mutilated, one is still missing, nearly a week ago, Old Man Ballard was found half-eaten outside his homestead, he lived alone.  Then, 4 days ago, young Annabell McCaul was found ripped apart as well.  Apparently she'd been out seeing Master Josiah Martin, well past bed time.

•  Duchess Katarina Malifaux (yeah there is a connection to Primeval there) has offered a prize of 40 Gold to kill this monster.  Her court sage, Verilous the Wise, describes the monster as a basilisk.

•  Matthias, Braun, Wilhem, and Esmeralda are following it's tracks and looking for the missing cow.  They've entered the Wraithwood and are pursuing it along a well worn trail in mid-afternoon.  Esme has been promised 4 home cooked meals by Mrs. Gorton for finding her husband's cow.  The whole group was weary of the Wraithwood because of the legend of the Green Wraith.

•  Matthias smells something rotten off the trail and tells the group to hold up.  As he goes to  investigate, Braun and Wilm hear something larging moving in the canopy of leaves above them.  Braun peers into the dense foliage, finding nothing, but Wilm casts a Light spell, illuminating a large web and a giant spider stalking them.

•  The trio begin to attack it and call to Matthias for help.  Braun is webbed, but Esmeralda frees him, just as the spider pounces on them.  Matthias charges is and the spider is quickly destroyed.  Esme removes it's venom sacs to later use.

•  Esme has a Seer's Pouch and uses it on some very suspicious tracks they find close by.  The Pouch reveals it is an ember drake they are hunting, not a basilisk.  This is not a surprise to Wilm.

•  Matthias takes them to the remains of the cow, which he discovered was the source of the smell.  Based on the amount of the corpse that's been eaten and the number of tracks moving back and forth along a nearby game trail, they feel the drake might return for some easy food.  Esme decides they should set a trap and Wilm and Matthias give her some help.

•  The trap is a large branch they bend back with 8 sharp spikes, coated in giant spider venom.  Matthias will activate the trap, if the drake returns.  They also move the spider's corpse near the remains of the cow and open up its guts.

•  Just before sunset, the drake cautiously draws closer, enticed by the smell of spider guts.  It fails to notice the lurking group and is hit hard by the trap and quickly slaughtered by the quartet.

•  Wilm realizes the tail is valuable for material components and some research he has read let him know the heart and back left paw have value as well.

•  Braun informs them that ember drakes are not natural predators.  That like a basilisk, they are created from a normal egg, in this case a duck's egg.  The process takes nearly 2 years and is a profane ceremony practiced by cults of Nilat the Corrupter.  This drake is not newborn, so he estimates the cult that created may have been active in the area for over a decade.  The group debates about wether the monster escaped are was set loose on the Duchy.

•  The quartet decides to head out of the Woods before it gets darker and set off to see the Duchess of St. Albus Cuthbert soon after first light.

_________________________________________

I like the current version of the rules, very much.  Braun's player was brand new to DnD, Matthias' player is 11, and Esmeralda's player is 8.  It was simple to explain and fast to get moving.  Reading about the rules for Advantage and Disadvantage had me uncertain, but in actual play worked well.  Fights were quick and deadly, but it is low level DnD...although not as deadly as 0 through 2nd Edition.  I can't wait until we get more options to use.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Gathering Session 6

Once again, I felt off last night.  Hopefully, I'll get the cobwebs out of my head soon.

Also, now that the Open Playtest has launched, I can reveal that the Gathering game has been using the DnD Next rules since it's beginning.  My rules are slightly different and allow play through 10th level.

•  A'Yanna has asked the Gatherers to venture into the Underdark beneath the Tomb and rescue her people's eggs.  The group decided to discuss their options and rest up at the infirmary.  They found Barracus free from his trance and Variel, wearing the headpiece, weary but well.

•  They unanimously decided to take up the kuo-toa's request and she led them to the entrance of the Underdark, through the Tomb's secret tunnels.

•  After several hours of venturing deeper and deeper, they found a large vault and the remains of camp fire.  They believed the Seekers were merely hours ahead.  They also stumbled on a throkoraptor eating a ring of mushrooms.  Jacob, identified the ring as a actually Myconid younglings and they shewed the lizard away.  Draco also noticed, that the throk had a collar and may have been a pet.

•  Several hours later, they found another, much larger vault that was dominated by a huge waterfall that formed an underground lake.  Two stony islands were nearly nearly 200 yards away and huge cliff loomed hundreds of feet above them.  On the closest island, were 2 stone structures and within each a fire blazed in the darkness.  Also, they could vaguely make out a strange sculpture squatting on the cliff, above them.

•  Variel gave them all Air Walk Draco, Martin, and Link decided to investigate the 2 buildings.  Both buildings were made of stone, 2 stories tall and had simple openings for door and windows.  The ground floor had a cairn with a roaring fire and several packs were scattered around it.  Smoke from the fire rose up through a hole in the floor.  Ancient, rotten wooden steps lead upstairs.  Lord Wintresh floated up to scout out what was up there.  He saw a naked man, kneeling in supplication before the smoke rising through the floor and rising out a hole in the roof.

•  As he was about to descend downstairs, he was ambushed viciously by a shadowy predator and nearly fell from it's claws and teeth.  Draco raced upwards, floating in the air, to witness the skeletal creature fling Martin across the room and lash out with a long, serrated tail and slash the dragonborn deeply in the chest.  Link floated up through the hole in the floor and kicked the supplicant down the hold, into the waiting fire.  Sibilant words, from the fallen man's throat rose up and Link was consumed in flame.

•  Variel had decided to investigate the ceiling of the vault and heard a strange shriek, just beneath the roar of water.  He discovered the nest of a noktodactyl and one of it's young.
Hearing the battle below, he raced to help.

•  Jacob the Rooster sped upwards to the strange sculpture.  He saw that it was a huge shrine to Tharizdun and that young woman had been sacrificed and tied to the sculpture.  He noticed that a ring of nearly 40 Myconids benignly circled the monolith, uncertain of how to help the young woman.  Then he heard the battle below.

•  Barracus raced across the water, into the battle-laden structure and found Martin hanging from the hole of in the ceiling by the tail of the monstrous xeno, above.  Martin had tried to drag the xeno down through the hole with his weight, but the creature was able to tangle him up instead.  The supplicant had stepped out of the fire and spoke harshly to Barracus in draconic.  The language was unkown to the Smith, and lashed out in anger at the man.  As he battled the stranger, he noticed spikes grown out of his back and claws tearing out his fingers.  Both men were matched physically, which shocked Barracus, since he had changed so drastically in the last few days.

•  Martin managed to free himself from the xeno's trap and Barracus provided cover as he escaped out of the building and possibly out of the vault, if given enough time.  However, he was greeted by a horrifying sight.  The adult noktodactyl waddled toward him in the dark, a hiss rasping from it's 14' form, sending chills through his battered body.

•  Variel arrived through the ceiling to help Link put himself out and provide some healing.  Draco was already severely wounded from the raging xeno that lashed out with claws, teeth, and tail.  The Gatherers began to worry they were outmatched.

•  Fuming with rage at the sight of such a profane shrine and sacrifice, Jacob the Rooster, remembered the horn that Mr. Ocax had given him.  In his soul, he felt it was most needed here and now and blasted it 3 times.  The first blast shot lightning at the noktodactyl and it's young and shook the whole vault.  The second blast made the water boil and purifying light erupt from it's depths, the profane monolith was torn asunder and the buildings began to tremble below.  The third blast saw Jacob disappear in holy flame, and the cliff was torn from the rock that anchored it, smashing the building below and burying them in rock and holy fire.

•  Martin managed to exit the vault after the noktodactyl was vaporized by lightning.  Variel, Draco, and Link were lucky to hit the water and protected by the smashing rocks.  Barracus however was buried in the rubble, but managed to dig his way out.  He was horrified to realize he'd lost his amulet and in the process of freeing himself had grown 2", lost all his hair, and several horns rung his skull.

•  In the center of the destruction were the remains of the monolith, now purified and turned to mithril.  The horn had been fused to the metal and all could tell that area had become a holy site.  Benevolently, a holy mushroom ring had begun to grown around the site.

Mightiest Issue 2

First, let me critique myself by saying I didn't feel like I was on my game as a GM, monday night.

Part of it is a continued ambivalence at the Marvel Heroic Role Playing Game's system.  I'm well past interest in "narrativist" games in my RPG development.  Probably about 7 years past it.  In my opinion, having rules to help a GM frame, develop, and end scenes is admirable (and a good idea in what could be someone's first RPG), but I don't need rules for that.  In fact, those types of rules, are what I find distasteful in most "indie" RPGs.

The problem too, is that Marvel and Margaret Weiss Productions are fumbling the ball on promoting this project, remember when we used to ads for RPGs in comics?  Why Marvel haven't you dedicated ad space to promote this game, as part of the license?

But as soon as I called for Wolverine to roll an action, and we had to go through the "laundry list" of traits, the wind completely left my sails, so to speak.

•  Wolverine is the only one who witnessed Captains America's switch with the Red Skull by the Enchantress and Executioner.  Wolvie tried to assault the Skull, but his acrobatic skills won out and Amora enchanted Logan into leaving them.  The trio then made their escape.

•  While trying assess the full scope of Hydra's assault, Nick Fury let them know that a Red Hulk was destroying downtown St. Louis.  The Beast brought JARVIS back online and then led the Thing and Colossus to confront this Hulk.  On the way, he contacted General "Thunderbolt" Ross about Hulkbuster equipment and was given permission by Tony Stark to use an experimental Iron Man suit close by.
He dropped Colossus and Thing into the fray and set off for the suit.  Colossus and Thing kept this Hulk busy, and noticed the madder he got, the hotter he got.  The Beast made it back with the suit and it appeared their team had him on the ropes.  However, a surprise feint on the Red Hulk's part, caused them to ram into each other.  The Red Hulk exploded in blinding heatwave and left them lying in the wreckage.

•  Meanwhile, Loki, went on his own to divine the whereabouts of Amora.  He located them at a mansion in Long Island and teleported there.  He knocked on the door and was surprised that the man servant who greeted him, blocked an attempt at mind control.  Loki was then seated in the drawing room and shared small talk with the Enchantress, while Skourge pointedly ignored him reading the Weekly World News.  Loki, used his magic to split his psyche and invisibly proceeded upstairs, where he sensed the Tessaract.  He discovered the Red Skull in bed, gazing into the cube's depths.  Acting with surprise, he blasted the Skull outside, through the wall and escaped with his prize.

•  Wolverine proceeded to the Triskelion, where the Strucker twins were being held, to help defend against any attack by Baron Strucker to liberate them.  Loki teleported there and Logan commented on smelling Amora, the Skull, and Skourge "on him".  Loki blew it off and Wolvie gave him his privacy.  Howerver, Maria Hill wanted more answers and led away for a debriefing.  She was frustrated that he couldn't provide an address for the mansion.  While this was going on, Iron Man arrived from China and almost simultaneously, the base was attacked by Baron Strucker.  The Baron, in the his new android body, dropped an unconscious Thor on them and they were shocked his Mjonir was missing.
Stark was able to shut down Strucker's fire powers and Logan got in a grisly hit on the Baron.  However, Strucker scoffed at them and decided to "go nova".

•  As the St. Louis team arrived at the Triskelion, they were shocked to see the facility had been leveled.  Iron Man's armor was frozen and shut down; Wolverine was dazedly moving about, his skin rapidly returning to his body;  Loki was shocked that he had protected Agent Hill from the blast with his cloak and she had found the Tessaract; Dr. Henry Pym, who had escaped from Strucker's Android body, had found shelter under Thor.  Both were battered and the God of Thunder was still unconsious. All 3 Struckers were gone and first responders were en route.

•  The Avengers were surrounded by dead and dying S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives.  Nick Fury was 2 minutes out.

So I've Been Playing D&D Next Since March...

Yep.  I was part of the Friends & Family Playtest.  Both the Gathering and the Wierd War Stories games are 5E/D&D Next.  My intention was to change their stat blocks, but now that I have the Open Playtest Files* I'll probably hold off, because ALOT HAS CHANGED.  So far, I actually like the new stuff better.  And trust me I have loved running D&D Next (boy, I dislike that name).  I hope its sooner, rather than later where we can see rules for the 4 races and classes with themes and backgrounds.  Backgrounds were not a part of the playtest I participated in, so I'd like to see more of those.  I'm hoping this weekend to run the characters with my kids and some of their friends.

I also apologize for getting so behind on posting.  I've been working on redesigning my company's website and it has consumed all of my energy.  In fact, I feel bad, because I sessions of Mightiest and the Gathering so far this week and I felt like my GMing was off.

I hope to get a couple of posts in tomorrow to catch things up.

*Thank YOU for helping me with the playtest files today.  You know who YOU are.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Gathering: Cobriath


Cobriath  

No. Enco.: 1

Movement: 120' (40)

Armor Class: 1 (19)

Hit Dice: 10

Attacks: 1 (bite or spit)

Damage: Bite 2d8  or Spit 2d6

Special: N/A

Save: F10

Morale: 11

Alignment: C

X.P. Value: 1200

This 9' long phyrexian war machine's serpentine shape allows it to move easily through small cracks, up walls or across ceilings while being nearly silent.  Its hide is a dark steel in color with strange violetn markings appearing, just before it spits an attack.  With the proper training, magic or artifact, Cobriath's can be easily controlled as a weapon.  Their preferred tactic is to use their spit to severely weaken a target, before closing in for the kill with their fangs.

The Gathering Session 6

•  Certain they want to meet with Mr. Ocax and A'Yanna, the neogi and kuo-toa halfbreed respectively,  the group decides to rest up in the infirmary.

•  Barracus realizes he isn't tired and offers to take watch.  At some point while everyone is resting, Variel dons Wrax's headpiece.

•  As Martin, Jacob, Link, and Draco begin to set out, they discover that Variel can't be roused from whatever dream has seized him and Barracus is in a trance.  Andro and Lin offer to watch over them.

•  When they reach the secret room, Mr. Ocax, A'Yanna, and a human stranger are having tea together at a small round table.  Kluge, Ocax's umber hulk, stands behind Ocax, wearing a smoking jacket.  Small talk ensues and A'Yanna openly flirts with Lord Wintresh.  He uses the advantage to gain her help in lowering prices on items the neogi has, and that the Gatherers need to purchase.

•   They discover that the stranger is Corbin St. Charles of Missouri, one of the Seekers.  The Janissary sent him to buy items for their group.  They learn Corbin is not from this plane and he has worked with this "crew" for almost 7 years.  His group used be led by a man named Maximillion, but the Janissary joined up close to 2 years ago, and Max died soon after.  Corbin feels that the Janissary is eliminating anyone who was loyal to Max, such as Martel and Tonfa.  He is surprised to hear that Lin is alive and quickly explains it must be kept from the Janissary.  He says that Jenna and Rolf are "up Jannisary's ass" and explains that the wizard has got 2 of those "things" in his service.  Those "things" are the type of creature that killed Lin.

•  Martin and Jacob decide that with Corbin and Lin--the Seekers and their own group--the Mappers, are already together with Ocax and A'Yanna, and asks if they can simply proceed to the Council of Vhelnish and fulfill the Windgrace Prophecy.  A'Yanna believes this is a a fitting solution and looks to Corbin, who agrees with the plan.  He is glad to see Lin alive and well, but quietly asks why her eyes are now green.

•  A'Yanna leads all of them to the Council Chamber via the secret passage.  As they enter the antechamber, via another painting, they step into the middle of an ambush.  The other council members already lie dead, killed by giant metallic cobra, some type of monster made of serrated metal and a helmet wearing kappa.  Corbin identifies the kappa, as a friend of the Janissary, but comments that he didn't enter the tomb with them.


•  A'Yann immediately dives into a pool at the center of the room and Corbin tells Lin that should remain hidden.  A spectacular battle ensues, but well planned healing by Jacob and extreme valor by Link, Martin, and Draco allow them to defeat the cobra and the serrated monster.  The kappa, Qlakson, teleports away.

•  A'Yanna returns screaming that the kuo-toa egg chamber is empty!  Despair wracks her, knowing the entire Council is dead, including her father and cousin.  Draco announces that the illithid councilmember's chest has been torn open.  The Gatherers realize with dread, that the final creature has matured and its been created from the fallen mind flayer.

•  Martin sees that Mr. Ocax is acting strangely and presses him about it, accusing him of knowing what's going on.  The neogi relents and says that the eggs are a telltale sign that the Janissary wanted nothing to do with the Tomb or the Prophecy.  He believes the wizard can use the eggs to raise Crosis the Purger, whose name is death, from it's slumbering curse.  The neogi explains to them that the dragon lies beneath the Tomb, imprisoned there thousands of years before Yawgmoth chose this site for the speartip of his invasion.  Mr. Ocax informs them that to retrieve the kuo-toa eggs, the will have to journey into the vast Underdark below their feet.  An area that has been forbidden to be used by the Council for over 2 hundred years.  A'Yanna pleads with them to find her people's eggs, and that leadership of the Council falls to her now.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Mightiest Issue 1

•  Mightiest is set on Earth 926 and uses the Marvel Movies as it's foundation.

• The current Avengers Roster is the Thing, Colossus, Shadowcat, Wolverine, Thor, Loki and are led by Captain America.  Tony Stark and Nick Fury are in China.

•  Less than a week ago, SHIELD agents captured Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker, AKA Fenris, and high level Hydra leaders.

•  2 days ago, the current head of Hydra and the twin's grandfather, Wolfgang Von Strucker, offered to turn himself in, if the twins could be extradited to Argentina.  Nick Fury agreed and War Machine is escorting him in to Avengers HQ today.

•  Simultaneously, Hank Pym is in charge of downloading JARVIS into the android body Phineas Horton developed and sold to Howard Stark.  Pym has solved the problem of the android combusting into flame when exposed to air.  The download is also to occur today.

•  War Machine arrives with Baron Strucker and hands him over to Cap for interrogation.  He asks to speak with Pym on Stark's behalf.

•  Wolverine seems uncertain of War Machine, but his mutant senses confirm him as James Rhodes.

•  Captain America, Shadowcat and SHIELD interrogator Oliver Sloane begin questioning a very smug and unhelpful Strucker.  Pym announces over the communication system that JARVIS will offline for 2 minutes starting in 10 minutes while the download occurs.

•  Wolverine notices the 6 SHIELD agents that came with Rhodes "have European deodorant" and smell wrong.  He keeps a close eye on them.

•  As soon as the Download begins, Strucker tells Cap that he'll "see him in Hell" and explodes from a bomb in his wheelchair, injuring Thor and killing Sloane.  2 floors up where the Download is proceeding, more explosions are heard.

•  Shadowcat arrives at the lab first and sees that War Machine has slaughtered the technicians, Pym is gone and Baron Strucker has been downloaded into the Android body and bursts into flame, laughing maniacally.

•  Cap and Wolverine lead the SHIELD Agents up to the lab.  Thor and Colossus confront War Machine and Shadowcat disrupts Strucker's circuitry.

•  A battle rages, just as Thor and Colossus seem to have defeated War Machine, he explodes.  Strucker melts down to the next level and is able to resist an ice blast from Loki, avoid a lunge by the Thing (that carries him 2 floors lower) and stun Shadowcat.

•  Strucker leaves when he hears the arrival of Skourge the Executioner and Amora the Enchantress, by melting through a window and rocketing off.  Thor and Loki are shocked to see that Amora carries the Tessaract, which she points at Captain America.  Its' strange energies envelope him and he disappears, replaced by...the Red Skull.





Primeval Session 1

• The group is gathered at the Brown Mare in Jarlsburg after going to the hut of the witch, Zara Hornn, and retrieving the Alabaster Bouquet for the city's Mayor, Stanis Krauss.  Krauss has hired them to retrieve the Bouquet from Hornn, because his father bartered it to her for wealth but was killed soon after.  He wants the item back and feels the witch lied to his family.

• Hornn's hut is in the Deep Woods and while looking for it, she came back home.  During the fight, Eden pushed the crone into her Witch's Cauldron, and they set the hut ablaze and fled.

• The Celebration of Saint Canton is in full swing and the filled to the brim.

• While waiting for there meeting with the Mayor, the group spies an elf watching them.  They are shocked a few minutes later, to see another elf who is an exact duplicate of the first, watching to the right as well.

• They leave the Mare and notice two additonal duplicate elves, fast approaching them through the heavy crowd.  They use their knowledge of Jarlsburg to lose them and head to the Mayor's office.

• They meet the Mayor's cousin, Pete trying to pass as guard of the office.  He complains about the new butler and escorts them to the office.  The new butler, Portis, is another elf duplicate.  He shows them to the drawing room and says the Mayor will be with them soon.

•  Stanis Krauss, Mayor of Jarlsburg, is exceedingly drunk.  The group decides to hold off on handing over the Bouquet and insists that they finish business in the morning.  He offers them room in his residence and rings for Portis, before passing out.  Link notices a secret compartment in his chair and finds a beautiful diamond ring and a note threatening the Mayor.  Rainer opens a safe they find behind the Mayor's portrait, but its filled with mundane documents and the gold he's promised to pay them.

• Portis takes them to their rooms.  While Eden is inspecting his wardrobe, he discovers another elf duplicate hiding.  Eden promptly punches him in the face and yells for help.

• As the group rushes to Eden, they encounter Portis and 2 more duplicates in the hallway.  After a vicious fight, only Portis and the duplicate from Eden's room are left alive.  They explain that they are part of the Brotherhood of Bones and Teeth and that before Stanis's grandfather stole the Bouquet, it belonged to them and they wanted it back.  The party and the duplicates go down to the drawing room to sort out the truth with the Mayor.

•  They find Stanis decapitated with surprising little blood around the body.  His head is missing.  Link launches out the open window and begins searching for the culprit.  The duplicates tell the rest of the group they have 72 hours to recover the Bouquet and leave.  Eden decides to question Pete and discovers he has been decapitated as well.

•  Link notices a cloaked figure getting into a horse-drawn carriage that bears the seal of a local pine baroness, Belladonna Mailfaux.  He pursues and shouts for his comrades to follow.

•  After a lengthy chase, Rainer and Eden are able to get briefly ahead of the carriage, but avoiding revelers and using back alleys.  Eden casts Sleep on the horses and the carriage suffers and deadly crash.  The horses and the driver are killed, but the cloaked figure steps from the wreckage.  Kinbell and Link finally arrive with Link's sister, Zelda.  They can't discern the assassin's features from his concealing cloak, but they can see that he is naked underneath and his flesh has many strange tattoos in Abyssal.  His ornate sword, allows him to cast spells and puts Kinbell to Sleep.  The battle is pitched, but just as the group seems close to triumph, the assassin begins to cast a spell.  Link, acting quickly cleaves the villain in two.  Unfortunately, his sword and the corpse Teleport away.

Under The Weather

I was hoping to get caught up on posting for Mightest and Primeval.  I'm not feeling that great, but I did have a blast running The Gathering tonight.

More soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Primeval The Cast

The Cast 

Kinbell Verest - Magus, Level 1

Eden - Cleric of Allah, Level 1

Rainer - Monk, Level 1

Link - Elf, Level 1

Zelda - Elf, Level 1

The Gathering Session 5: Part 2

Since I'm running behind, this post will be more of rundown of evening's events than a full narrative.

• After destroying Wrax, the Gatherers went back to the room where they found IG-23  They finally  noticed the door inside the dead Aboleth's aquarium.  Venturing inside, they met A'Yanna, a kuo-toa halfbreed.  She recognized them immediately as the Mappers and hoped they would join with the Council soon.  She explained that she had hidden herself, because the Seekers were not as reasonable as she hoped and she was frightened for her safety.  She also explained the Aboleth or Mortis had aided her in hiding.  When pressed about the Council, she explained they were an alliance of wizards, kuo-toa, neogi, and illithid who agreed to mainitain Yawgmoth's tomb after his defeat.  The Council of Vhelnish would convene when the Seekers and Mappers were ready to meet.  The Mappers let A'Yanna know that they were scheduled to meet with a neogi in sevaral hours and she decided to wait at the designated spot to meet him, as well.

• The next room they entered was flooded past their ankles with filthy water.  They found another shattered aquarium was the cause for the flooding.  Inside it, Draco found a pile of golden feces that was distributed amongst the party.  Then, next to two other aquariums was a corpse lying face down in the rancid water.  Lin helped them identify him as Tonfa the Magpie.  The skin from Tonfa's skin was removed and he was disemboweled.

• Crossing into another room they found two giant wheels that looked as if they laborers would push in opposite directions.

• The next room was filled with nearly two dozen pools with fresh, clean water.  As Barracus moved to refresh himself, a dozen kuo-toa lept from the water.  They immediately recognized the group as the Mappers and softened their demeanor.  They explained that this area was for them to rest and frolic.  They were keen to dance for the Gatherers for quite some time.  The party awkwardly gave the creatures their privacy back.

• As the moved back into the room with the giant wheels, they decided to attempt to move them.  After succeeding, they heard a giant flushing sound and discovered the aquariums where Tonfa lay dead had been cleaned and the shattered aquarium fixed.  They steeled themselves for what lay ahead.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Too Much To Do...In a Good Way

I know I'm behind on catching up on the Gathering, Primeval and monday's first session of Mightiest, my new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign.  I promise to get those things caught up.

But in the meantime, I've promised to playtest Jonthan Tweet's and Rob Heinsoo's "loveletter to Dungeons and Dragons", The 13th Age.  I just got the rules but will reveal more soon.

May is REALLY busy.

Oh, and I'm happy to see a few new followers!  Welcome and thanks!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest




Welcome to the First Loves Blogfest where you post your first loves for movie, song/band, book and person. Thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting and Timothy Brannan for clueing me in. Check here to see all the participants.


First Movie - Star Wars


First Song - A Horse With No Name by America


First Book - Wild Cards Volume 1 edited by George R. R. Martin


First Love - Erin Gray

Gathering Session 5: Part 1

As we began the evening, the spotlight was on Variel, Lord Wintresh and Lin the halfling in the infirmary.  Lin was sleeping poorly, her feverish body wracked with anguish.  Finally, she sat upright beginning to scream...when something monstrous burst forth from her chest.

Variel, reacted to the horror before his eyes, and attempted to smite the creature with a thunderbolt.  It's nimble feet sidestepped the assault and as Variel closed on the thing, it leapt past him and disappeared into the bed as it slid into the wall.  Meanwhile, Lord Wintresh gaped and huddled in the corner, to look at him was to look at a man who's mind was on the brink.  Andro quietly confirmed to Variel that Lin was dead.

Variel immediately sought the rest of the Gatherers further up the hallway.  He found them just as they were about to open another cell with Barracus's amulet.  Upon hearing the news, Jacob the Rooster sped to Lin's side...his comrades trailing.

Jacob was extremely grief stricken by Lin's fate.  He consulted with Variel and both men prayed long to their gods, seeking help.  The Rooster found hope in a ritual that might allow those who's life ended in murder at the hands of forces outside of their home plane.   The cost was high, but Jacob was willing to pay it.

Hours later, Lin was returned to life.  The Gatherers knew that their situation was growing more grim
and felt it was time to return to exploring.  Lin and Jacob had only a few moments for a quiet talk, it was then that the Rooster noticed the young woman's eyes had changed from brown to a light green.  Amongst other topics, she confided in him that the cell they were about to enter is where she blacked out.

Andro and Lord Martin remained behind with Lin, however another retainer, Nova Sorrow-Vess (W, 8) struck out with the rest of the group.  Shaken, they returned to the cell and solemnly opened it, finding 3 strange looking pods.  The alien looking pods were open and empty and a deafening silence filled the group.  At that moment the Gatherers knew that there would be little rest in the future, now that knew what had rested within those egg pods.  Their courage rattled, they quietly closed one cell and opened another.

A tall metallic being rested quietly within.  On a lark, Nova cast an arcane  spell of electricity and jolted the being to life.  It identified itself as IG-23 and offered it's service for "credits".  The group decided that this being may provide a solution to Wrax the XXIII problem.

They bartered long with the IG unit, it was rubies in Link's possession that finally cemented a deal, and let them lead the droid to Wrax.  The vampire was surprised as they allowed IG-23 to enter his cell and then closed the door.  For several minutes a powerful struggle could be heard in the hallway, until silence settled and they opened the door to find Wrax standing, wounded holding the IG unit's head.

The Gatherers lashed out violently and met a fierce resistance from the powerful
vampire.  Though Variel fell in battle to a wicked wound they were able to defeat Wrax and destroy his body.  Now all that remained of Wrax the XXIII was his golden throne.

Nova decided to consult his mother for advice about the Throne and cast a divination.  A shadow of a raven joined Nova's shadow and he began to converse with it in Abyssal.  She warned him that the Throne of the Scarlet Eschaton was far more dangerous than Wrax and intimated that the vampire was just a pawn to his seat.  His mother added now was not the time or the place for the Throne to reappear in the world. After some experimentation by Nova and Variel with the Throne, the elf asked Correlon Larethian to remove it somewhere safe.  The elven god granted his follower's wish.

Now all that remained of Wrax was his headpiece, collar, bracer and 2 bracelets that were split up amongst the Gatherers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Primeval: Karnifex (For Pathfinder)

Karnifex the Hellforged  

Aura Strong necromancy and transmutation
CL 20th;

Slot None; Weight 8 lbs

This +3 vorpal bastard sword is ornately deorated and it's blade is inlaid with glyphs in the language of abyssal.  When Karnifex confirms a critical hit, it's wielder heals 2d8 points of damage.  
Spell-like powers:
     1/day-Teleport







Saturday, May 12, 2012

O is for the Order of the Phoenix

I'm cheating again.  Order of the Phoenix is my segue to the Harry Potter books.

I can only marvel at the gift for writing that J.K. Rowling has.  To be able to touch so many, in so short a time, leaping across the generation gap and creating a timeless classic in only 15 years?  While I could say that I'm jealous, in fact I'm far more thankful she decided to share Harry Potter and his world with us.  Sure the lessons learned and the journey are not by any means original to Harry's story, but Ms. Rowling takes all of the pieces and finds a better way to tell them to us.  I'd be lying if I didn't expect Harry and Voldemort to meet in a final epic battle at the end of the story, that Harry would be required to kill He Who Should Not Be Named.  But even when Harry had to be confronted with the destiny the Dark Lord chose for him, it was as powerful a moment as any I've read.  Sure, I knew it was coming, but neither Harry nor I were ready to hear it when it's time came.

Obviously, its a good bet you don't need me to highlight Harry's tale.  But Rowling's world is simple to understand and enter, yet complex and compelling enough to make you never want to leave.  Take the Order of the Phoenix, as an example.  The Order's role in the story are by no means unique, but without it, we couldn't have been shown the stories of those haunted by Voldemort's earlier rise to power.  Harry needed the Order and its membership, to piece together a past no one wanted him to know.  He wouldn't have had role models--good and bad--to inspire him to take a destiny that Lord Voldemort chose for him and make it his own.

I'm doubly grateful to Ms. Rowling though, because Potter's story didn't just tantalize me, it taught my oldest daughter to love to read.  A love she still holds to this day and I'm forever in her debt for that.  And I'm in debt to the boy who lived and changed two worlds.

Primeval Session 1: Prologue

At the spur of the moment, I ended up running a Pathfinder game last night.  The whole adventure was completely improvised and I was able to use some of Paizo's GameMastery products.  The Chase Deck (it's ingenious) and the Enemies Deck in addition to their Flip-Mats made several ideas work out great.

By the end of the evening, a new campaign had taken shape, with the players apparently caught up in the Blood War.  It appears that I'll be running this further.  Currently it appears the player's are caught up in the machinations of Pale Night (the Brotherhood of Bone and Teeth) and Glasya (the Sindycate).

I promise to finish posting session overviews for Primeval Session 1 and Gathering Session 5 soon.  I'm prepping the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game for monday night and I've named it Mightest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gathering Session 5: Prologue

Last night, the Gatherers ventured forth into the Tomb of Yawgmoth once again.  It was filled with some mirth on my part and serious surprises.  Frolicking kuo-toa, a chest-bursting xenomorph, the demise of Wrax the XXIII and golden feces were all hallmarks of the evening.

I truly hope my players are enjoying the game as much as I am.

I'll begin the rundown soon.

I wanted to extend a big thank you to Rob, John, Matt W., Matthew C., Mick, and Freddie for a great evening.  Hopefully we haven't seen the last of Chris and he'll return soon.

A Moment of Reflection

It's strange.  Until january of this year, I had taken a several year sabbatical from gaming.  Aside from playing in Rob Hall's L5R and Dresden Files games, I played nada.  I wasn't even interested in playing and I certainly wasn't interested in running a game.  Out of nowhere the inspiration came back and now...well now I'm running 2 DnD games (Gathering and Weird War Stories) and about to start running a Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game on monday and my oldest daughter asked me to start a Legend of the Five Rings game for her and her friends, in the future.

I'd like to thank all of the wonderful people I have been playing with and running games for.  I've really made an effort not to repeat the sins of the past.  And these game sessions have been very, very rewarding for me.

I am especially glad to get the chance to play with my (soon to be) 11 year old son and can't begin to describe the feeling of having my oldest tell me how much she loved playing L5R with us when she was that age.  At some point I need to recruit my 8 year old daughter.

In short, I'm really blessed and hope to savor the moments while I can.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Under construction

I'm trying some different Themes.  I really, really wish Blogger had more choices.  Oh, well.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Your chance to back the Pathfinder Online Demo on Kickstarter

I'm a big fan of Paizo and their Pathfinder RPG.  Strangely, I enjoy it more than I did DnD 3.X.  I really would like to see a Pathfinder MMO take shape and find it's niche in that industry.  I think it could be good for both MMORPG's & TTRPG's.

I'd love to see them bring the same passion and commitment to an online game that they do to a table top game.  I hope they find the backers.

I've already backed them on Kickstarter and hope hope that you do too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Rook

I've finished Daniel O'Malley's The Rook.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and would describe as Dr. Who meets Wild Cards (without the latter's rough bits).  At first glance, I thought it would present a secret world filled with magic, more The Atrocity Archives.  But in fact, it's really a story of secret government superhumans fighting each other and the supernatural (which is anything kept from the general populace).

It's hook and the device O'Malley uses to introduce the reader to his world is exceptional, and what originally drew me into the book.

I heartily recommend it.

However, I need another book to read.  I have Wise Man's Fear (the first part, Name of the Wind was so good, I'm worried it won't live up), waiting in the wings, but I'm open for suggestions.

What should I read next?

Shhh...I started this post yesterday.

How did your journey through the alphabet go? 
It went great, I was glad to not only start it late, but finish it on time.

Did you meet new bloggers with similar interests? 
Yes, a commenter is someone I'm now following.

Are there any you would like to feature and share with others?

What were the highlights for you? (lowlights too...we want to hear it all)
Realizing I could write something everyday, that the ideas and the words would flow.

Did you enjoy posting daily? 
Very, very much.

What was your biggest hurdle? 
Finding the time.

What was your easiest task?
B is for Battle Beasts.

Was time management an issue? (I know, silly question, when isn’t time management an issue - but, it is worth reflecting on)
I got lucky, in that when I started the project, I was on vacation. It allowed me to get caught up from my late start, but M through R were tougher to get done. That led me to prepping articles at least a day ahead.

And what about your content - did you have a theme or did you wing it? 
My theme was the A to Z of Roleplaying Games for 1 post. Then I changed it to the A to Z of Inspiration. It gave me more freedom for topics and I think allowed me to show off more of myself.

Was it easy to come up with ideas for each letter, or were some harder? 
Once I got to T, quite a bit of brainstorming was necessary. I not only wanted a good subject for each letter, but also wanted to and make them as unique as possible.

How about commenting - did you stumble upon lots of sites still using word verification? 
I think every site I comment on still uses it.

Did this prevent you from leaving a comment? 
No, but I loathe it.

What worked for your blog?
The most popular post was on Clash of the Titans, but movies in general had more hits.

What will you do different next year? (Yes, you are doing this next year, you know you are, even if your brain is telling you to run for the hills - it appreciates the exercise)
I'm not sure yet. May is my busiest month of the year, so I won't start thinking about it until June. If I have time, I definitely will try to prep posts in advance and try to have several posts ready to go.

What pearls of wisdom do you want to share with the Co-Hosts of this event? (We would love to hear from you and know what you think would make this awesome event even better)
Anyway we could convince Google to tie it into a logo treatment on the search engine? If it weren't for Tim Brannan, I wouldn't have remembered it. Is there a badge that could be given out in March to alert people it's coming and help recruit?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Gathering: Session 4 part 2

After Jacob the Rooster, Barracus, Draco and Link said goodbye to Kama-Zotz and Sorin Markov, they checked in with the group in the infirmary and decided to continue exploring the main hallway.

The next room was quite humid and a passage to the left seemed to have been flooded recently.  There were 2 more cells directly across from the passage, to their right.  The far end of the room was dominated by a huge and eerily murky aquarium.

Link swore he caught movement in the tenebrous water.  This led to Draco discovering some fairly recent webbed footprints leading out of the flooded passage, up to and in front of the tank.  Draco realized with horror, the footprints didn't lead anywhere else.

Meanwhile, Link began inspecting a large "painting", of bizarre geometric patterns, that dominated the wall behind them.  He discovered the painting opened up to reveal a secret corridor and he came face to face with...something.

At the precise moment, Barracus decided to heave his throwing axe at the aquarium, the weapon ruptured the tank and the room flooded with caliginous water...and the aquarium's inhabitant.

 Link was forced deep into the secret passage and the door forced closed, by the onrushing water.  As he got to his feet, he came face to face with a strange creature with the torso and legs of a spider (dyed many garish and bright colors) and the head of an eel, or a neogi.  Bizarrely, the creature shrieked that he owned this passage and that the elf owed him money for using it.  Confused, Link paid the being and found out the thing he was dealing with was known as Mr. Ocax.  The spider-think then began extorting Link for more and more money, with each movement and question the elf attempted.

Meanwhile, Draco warned has compatriots  about  the thing released from its tank.  Barracus spied it closing on him and unleashed several powerful and decisive blows to the monster, scoring a dire hit to it's head in the process.  This allowed Draco, to close on it and finish with a deadly blow to the thing's brain.  All 3 were shocked (and quite thankful) to learn they had just destroyed an aboleth in mere seconds.

They then began to hear Link and Mr. Ocax arguing loudly from the secret passage and entered to help their comrade.  The neogi, upon seeing the corpse of the monster they'd just slain, and the angry visages of the newcomers, decided to tout his mercantile services to all of them and survive this meeting.  Barracus asked if Mr. Ocax possessed any magic rings, but was dismayed at the neogi's answer of no.  After some conversation, Mr. Ocax offered to return to this spot every 10 hours and see if they required any of the inventory he would bring.  At that he was off, and Link was glad of it.

The Gatherers then left the passage and stood in front of one of the 2 new cells they'd found.  As of yet, none of them had noticed the doorway in the back of the aquarium.

The Gathering: Session 4 part 1

This session saw Andro's Lord Martin Wintresh's and Variel's players absent.

But two of their retainers, a Dragonborn antiquarian, named Draco (Rogue, 8)  and a Elf guard, named Link (Fighter, 8), joined the fray.

Variel and Wintresh were arguing about what to do with Wrax, when Variel passed out.  Martin and Andro, confused, removed him to the infirmary with Lin.

Since there were still 2 cells unexplored, they again ignored the Wrax situation and opened a door.

Inside was a bat-headed Gnome, who introduced himself as Kama-Zotz.  The Gnome greeted Barracus warmly and explained that he had been growing impatient waiting for his arrival.  Kama told Barracus and the others that the Smith was infected with Glistening Oil and that if he didn't have the substance removed it would transform him into a mindless war machine.  Kama explained that the man in the next cell, named Sorin could remove the oil from his system.  Kama-Zotz seemed very ernest and patient and encouraged Barracus to heavily think it through.  Kama, maintained that he was not a Vampire and only stayed because he knew Barracus was coming and wanted to help.

After a brief discussion with Jacob and Draco, Barracus opened the last cell, to meet the man who was supposed to be his savior.  Sorin Markov, looked the Smith up and down appraisingly, he did not seem very impressed.  Sorin explained that Kama had been telling him about Barracus's plight for at least a century and he was willing to drain the Oil from his system...for a price.  The Smith would be in his debt and Markov would call it in one day.  The Gatherers had many questions about the time table of Barracus's fate and the Oil itself.  Markov believed that the amulet the Smith wore was slowing the process and that the full transformation might not take effect this century.  He also was hesitant to bring the Glistening Oil into his own system but was confidant it wouldn't cause long term effects on his physiology.  Jacob the Rooster asked if the decision had to be made now and Barracus was concerned, after learning he would lose his new found augmentation, that it could put the expedition in peril.

Sorin, explained he was a planeswalker, and offered to give Barracus a "token" that could call him back at a later time, his decision was made.  But it too, would require a favor.  The Smith agreed, took the token, and asked Markov about Wrax.   The planewsalker didn't think releasing Wrax made sense and warned them about the power the Pharoh's throne.  Soon after, both Sorin and Kama departed for parts unknown.


The Avengers


Last night, the whole family and a couple friends went and saw the Joss Whedon's AVENGERS.

But before I get into my thoughts on the film, let me fill you in on my feelings about Comic Book Movies and Joss Whedon.

I spent quite a bit of my youth extolling the merits of Comic Book as Art and hoping for a well done adaptation of comics to film.  As I've gotten older, I yearn for the days when comics were inexpensive and easy to get into.  I shudder at my younger self's need for mainstream acceptance of comics.  Most comics published today, aren't targeting me in their demographic, and I sell comics for a living.

You might also be surprised how few comics movies I've seen in the last few years.  I'd rather not see a comic book film, than to see a bad one.  And I've really grown to feel that many of the most important aspects of comics don't work on the big screen.  Most of the times costumes, which are paramount in comics, are ridiculous in a movie.  As much as I appreciate Christopher Nolan's work on his Batman trilogy, its still hard to see a man dressed like a bat.  To give you an idea, I still haven't seen V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Green Lantern, Thor, or Iron Man 2.

Unfortunately, it's also very expensive for a family of 4 or 5 to go to the movies.  And then there's popcorn.

Now we'll get to Mr. Whedon.  Toy Story was great, but let's all be honest, it would have been with or without him.  It was Pixar.  We'll just ignore the Buffy film, Titan AE and Alien Resurrection.  I came late to the Buffy television series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if Spike was forced on us and it went 2 seasons too long.  Angel was pretty good and did suffer an untimely death.  I'm no browncoat, and didn't care for Firefly, but did like Serenity, but a western in space was Roddenberry's pitch for STAR TREK .  In short, I was really unsure of which Joss we'd get.

AVENGERS is the best movie I've seen as an adult.  It beats BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.  It's definitely the best Action/Adventure and Comic Book film, ever made.  It's up there with STAR WARS.  Yes, A NEW HOPE, technically, but when I saw it we just called it STAR WARS.  I can't recommend it enough.  Mark Ruffalo is phenomenal.  Whedon understands the Hulk, probably better than Marvel does.  In fact, Marvel Comics needs to take lessons from Marvel Studios.  Josss embraces the Marvel comic universe without laughing at it.  He has fun with every trope without making fun of any of it.  It's a perfect movie.  I loved it as a diehard comics geek, my wife loved it as a woman working in comics, my 22 year old daughter has seen it twice and plans to see it again tonight, my 10 year old son desperately wants to know who the villain revealed at the end is and my 8 year old daughter was guffawing at all the right places.

Assemble to go see the AVENGERS.

Excelsior!