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Wizards of the Coast released my third DDI article today, almost a year to the day after "Oasis of the Golden Peacock" was first released.  You can read it here (DDI subscription required).  I love fey, so I was glad that this article was accepted (I also love artificers, warlocks, and familiars btw); the cultural elements were extrapolated from the official sourcebooks, as filtered through the background of my first 4e character, the alienated eladrin artificer Nithiril Semphara (too bad my DM wouldn't allow me to use any of this material while the campaign was ongoing, but he talked about running an epic tier one-shot in the future to revisit those characters after I complained at our game last week).  

This is my first player-orientated work and I'm very pleased with the overall reaction to it; in particular, I'm psyched that several people on the WotC CharOps board posted that they'd take one of the three familiars, the fiddling grig (my favorite part of the article) in particular, for purely flavor reasons.  However, there was one snafu; two of the familiars were designed for the paragon and epic tiers, but as Steve Winter explained to me today, WotC wanted them to be available in the heroic tier.  That means that they'll have to be toned down slightly for the compiled issue; IMO, I think with a few simple tweaks we can make them appropriate for that tier without losing any of the flavor or coolness.

"Treed!" and the Poster Children

Last Wednesday, WotC released my Side Trek "Treed!"  in Dungeon 171.  Originally, "Treed!" was a pair of encounters that were cut from my last Dungeon adventure, "The Oasis of the Golden Peacock."  Steve Winter, who worked with me on both adventures, deserves a lot of credit for the final version of "Treed!"  He originally suggested adding the owlbear to "Oasis of the Golden Peacock" and he championed turning it into a Side Trek when the encounters were cut for space.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Last night, two of my friends and I went to the Poster Children show at the Crystal Corner Bar.  They're an awesome post-punk/new wave/alternative (whatever you want to call it nowadays) band and I've been going to their concerts since I first came to Madison in the mid-90s, at the Memorial Union Rathskellar, Union South, and O'Cayz Corral, even though I hadn't seen them in several years (truthfully, I thought they may have broken up).  It was a great show, they played all of my favorite songs, and I'm glad I noticed the Corner's marquee when I was driving home Friday from a fish fry.  Still, its weird seeing the band after 8 years; we've all aged, I can't drink as much beer (Oktoberfest lagers all night!), and staying up past midnight is much harder than it used to be.

On Sunday, August 30th, Madison will be holding an event called Ride the Drive.  Now, I'm not opposed to the idea behind the event, and in fact, I think it seems like it will be a good time.  However, there is one major problem IMO; its the route in relation to motorized traffic.  Due to Madison's restrictive geography, especially on the isthmus, most of our major thoroughfares are arrayed on a general East-West axis, so if you shut down East Washington (which they plan to do up to either Patterson or First St, I can't tell based on the map), you can always use East Johnson/East Gorham on the north side of the Isthmus or Williamson St on the south side of the isthmus.  However, cutting off John Nolen Drive (and I can see why it seemed like a good idea, as it offers the nicest view of downtown and campus of any access point into central Madison) seems really stupid as its the main North-South artery entering downtown and the east Isthmus from the Hwy 12-18 Beltline.

Now of course, if you knew about the event you could always detour via Park St or go way out of your way to Monona Drive (way to be eco-friendly by forcing you all the way around Lake Monona to reach the Williamson-Marquette, Tenney-Lapham, and Atwood-Schenck neighborhoods).  Unfortunately, my guess is that many motorists will not know about the event, which will force them to take the detour at Olin Ave.  Even if the event is set on a Sunday morning and early afternoon (which it is), you're still going to force traffic from what is essentially a 4-6 lane highway into a residential neighborhood and then onto Park Street.

To make matters worse, the UW dorms begin moving in on the 27th.  Luckily, the majority of the students moving into the SE dorms (which are arrayed around Park St and West Johnson) should be in by the 30th, but there's still going to be a considerable amount of stragglers (and the notice on the UW website warning people moving in on the 30th about Ride the Drive is pathetically small).  Move-in days usually results in traffic snarls; now couple that with increased traffic volume and road construction on East Gorham and University Ave, and you're bound to have problems.

I'm not exactly sure how I would re-route the event other than using the bike path that runs alongside John Nolen instead of the street itself.  It would have probably been better to use the bike path and then use East Washington, the outer square, State Street, and some of the side streets that cut through the student neighborhoods.  I definitely wouldn't cut off the major North-South thoroughfare into downtown Madison.


The Day After...

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with how my adventure finally turned out, and so far the reaction has been pretty favorable (several people over at EN World said they were going to run it as part of their campaigns).  I'm hoping to get more feedback over time, but unfortunately, Dungeon adventures don't get the kind of discussion that Dragon articles do.

It's Up

Over 3 years later, my adventure is finally seeing the light of day.



I think I just threw up a little in my mouth...


Oasis of the Golden Peacock

My Dungeon adventure "Oasis of the Golden Peacock" will be released by WotC in about 24 hours.  I've been working on it for over 3 years, and I'm really looking forward to its release.  However, a little bit of me is dreading it, since it is my first real published work and if I've learned one thing, its that my fellow messageboard nerds can be really, really harsh if they don't like something.

WoTC Editorial Calendar

I'm super excited, WoTC released the August DDI editorial calendar today and my adventure Oasis of the Golden Peacock is scheduled to be released on 8-19.  I can't wait to see the finished product!  I hope it gets a good response.

February Updates

Ugh, not two weeks after some absolutely beautiful February weather (at least for Wisconsin), we were blanketed by a snow storm last night that stretched late into this morning (I want to say that given its timing, it would be the last snowstorm of winter 2008-09, but we still have the accursed WIAA Boy's Basketball tournament to look forward to).  Originally, we were only supposed to get 3 to 5 inches of snow, a rather trivial amount IMO, but it managed to dump an aggravating 6 to 8 inches on us.  At least, it covers up the ugly, blackened snow left behind by the recent melt off (my least favorite part of early Spring). 

My parents came to visit us last night.  Luckily, they arrived ahead of the storm, but they're leaving this afternoon, after they're done at the golf expo; hopefully, they'll get home OK, since the snow seems to be tapering off and the plows are out in force (at least in my neighborhood, but then, I live on the corner of a fairly busy intersection).  Last night, Jeanneen suggested that we head down to a neighborhood Italian restraunt called La Rocca's.  As usual, it was great; I had the fettucine alla vitto again, and I felt it was even better this time; I was dissapointed that nobody wanted to share a plate of calamari, but my parents made up for this by getting a dessert.  I split a very rich chocolate mousse cheesecake with my father, while Jeanneen and my mother had some tasty tiramisu.  Now, I wish my parents were a bit more adventurous when it comes to food (I would like to get some Greek, Indian, West African, Thai, or Jamaican food with them someday), but I do like taking them to local restraunts that we haven't visited, as I feel that when they're out of their comfort zone, they eat at the same old chains far too often.  After dinner, we picked up some beer (Jeanneen, my mother, and I split a bottle of New Glarus's excellent raspberry tart), and watched The Dark Knight.  I hope that Heath Ledger wins the Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker (easily one of the best film villains ever); its such a wonderfully physical performance.  As a former film nerd, I paid particular attention to the sound this time around, and I have to say, the sound designers and editors better win too.  Finally, to conlude all this Oscar talk, I have to say that Clint Eastwood and Gran Torino were absolutely robbed (I guess Changeling is something of a consolation).

Currently, I'm watching Top Chef New York repeats while Jeanneen naps.  That show is heading into its homestretch; last Wednesday was the first part of the series finale.  I'm still convinced that Stefan will ultimately win; even though he's an arrogant prick (a huge entertaining one, mind you), he's clearly the most talented of the remaining chefs.  Still, I could see Carla pulling it off; I think she may be slightly crazy (in a good way), but she's coming on strong near the end.  Hosea may be a nice guy, despite his indiscretions this season, but nice guys always finish last.

Later this afternoon, I think that I'll start working on some D&D stuff.  I've updated my eladrin artificer Nithiril using the DDI Character Builder, perhaps the best piece of gaming software that I've ever used, but I need to print out an updated character sheet.  To do that, I need to install my new printer, which I've put off doing since Christmas.  Nithiril is currently 8th level, swiftly approaching 9th, and I'm still having a great deal of fun playing him, despite my constant stream of new PC concepts inspired by just about every new DDI article and 4e sourcebook (god help me when PHB2 is released).  Thankfully, our actual gaming opportunities have been less sporadic since the holidays ended (we did miss one session and played the new BSG boardgame another time; the humans got their ass kicked by our cylon DM, btw I was Baltar) and we've been joined by a new part time player named Alex.  He's playing a female human dual wielding ranger named Celeste; I've always heard how much damage rangers can dish out, but I've never witnessed it personally until last Monday.  Holy crap!  After an absolutely brutal fight against a bullette and a hook horror aboard a space ship (a long story, inspired by one of our PCs, the drow cleric, being an imported Dragonstar character), wiping out a bunch of Skyshatter orcs and their pet wyvern was very refreshing (we also learned alot from the subdued chieftan after a successful skill challenge).  Our DM had planned on the wyvern taking flight and attacking us with its poison stinger (Reach 2 for the win!), just out of range of our melee fighter and ranger.  But as usual, I disrupted his plans by using my phantom structure power to create a spiral staircase of magical force (I've been itching to use it for a while); as all the players laughed, our fighter sped upwards and began to wail on the wyvern.  This is the third time I've creatively wreaked havoc on his plans, and it reminds me why I love D&D.  Its absolutely unpredictable nature!

I do need to start getting some ideas together for some more Dragon queries (maybe I'll send in some Dungeon queries too, but I'm still waiting to hear back about my 3.5e adventure being converted to 4e), as I've only sent in three over the last month, all Bestiary articles.  I love making monsters in 4e, and I have to say, converting BECMI monsters is pretty much a snap.  I do have some ideas kicking around in my head, but given my perfectionist nature, it takes me a while to get things on paper, and I do want to branch out from Bestiary articles and maybe come up with some player oriented stuff.  We'll see.

My Fiancee Loves Bruce Campbell

So, while we were watching Burn Notice the other day, my fiancee confessed to once having a crush on Bruce Campbell.  I approve.