Friday, July 17, 2015

Haiku Movie Review! Jurassic World

Quite good.  Would've been
brilliant though if Chris and Bryce 
had swapped roles.  B +

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Clearwater Con Event Schedule is Available!

Hey all... Here at long last is the event schedule for Clearwater Con in EC next weekend.

It's been a challenge getting it together on the short notice we set out for ourselves, but I could not be prouder of the community support and the events we have been able to bring to the table here. We have D&D and Pathfinder. We have pirates and zombies. We have time travellers and tea parties. We have Monster Mike and Jetpack Jack. And we have Shaggy and Scooby... And that's just the beginning. And remember that your con badge will get you the Gamerati discount at local retailers too.

The only thing we need now to make this one truly fantastic day of gamerati-tude is for you to come and play with us. The gaming community here in the Chippewa Valley is robust and deserves a win, dammit. With sufficient momentum, we can level up next year from one day to a full weekend. But we need your help, your support, and your dice to get there.

So let's make this happen. Please - let's keep getting the word out to anyone who hasn't heard about our event. Share the game schedule with anyone who might be interested in joining us next Saturday. And most importantly, please remember to go pre-register at to help make Clearwater Con an ongoing reality for us all.

Thanks for all your support and we'll see you at the table on July 25th!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The CVG Actual Play & Community Theater Podcast 003 - The CHOMP! One-Shot: Wrath at Con!

Episode 3 of The CVG Actual Play & Community Theater Podcast is up and in stores near you (i.e. iTunes)!  

Remember: it's on a different feed from The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue, so you will need to subscribe to this feed separately if you're into it!

The game this time is a one-shot playtest of CHOMP!  The Zombie Survival Horror RPG, from FKI, LLC!

In honor of game designers Craig Sieracki and Matt Scott appearing on Episode 13 of 
The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue, Monster Mike and I invited them to sit in and run us through a zombie apocalypse of our very own!  The resulting wacky hijinks resulted in Wrath at Con, and one of the most fun single game sessions in my most recent memory.

Find out more about the CHOMP! Survival Horror RPG on Craig and Matt's Facebook page.

You can get your own copy at RPGNow here!

Breaking news:
You too can play CHOMP with Craig and Matt at Clearwater Con, July 25 2015 in Eau Claire, WI.  See for the latest updates and to preregister!

Some action shots from the game session!

Craig Sieracki directs as Monster Mike preps a roll

Laminated character sheets make for disposable PCs

The Exhibit Hall - "You'll pay for this, Felicia Day!"

Monster Mike throws some sixes

Matt Scott, foraging for bandaids

Our theme music:
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The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #013: Dead House Over Yonder!

My standard-issue nametag for cons, et al - It's funny because it hurts.

Episode Thirteen of The Chippewa Valley Geek Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue is complete and can be found here or on iTunes and Stitcher!

We're taking a bite out of zombies this time around, getting the lowdown on a locally-produced survival horror RPG, and (re)making some very exciting announcements!

0:00:00  Intros
0:01:11  The Up Front: On oblivion and undeath - also, Clearwater Con 2015!
0:06:47  The Interview:  Eau Claire game designers Craig Sieracki and Matt Scott talk about their love of zombies, break down the inner workings of CHOMP, and take on the Geek-del Test!
0:24:56  Payin' some bills

0:30:51 The Roundtable:  Wherein Mike and Jack try to find some braaaaaaaaains!
1:30:30  Community Calendar
1:33:13  Outro & Credits
1:34:36  Bonus Track:    The Lannister Suite, in 3 Movements (or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Never Try To Play Slide Guitar Ever Again), featuring:
- Roslin's Wedding
- Mannish Boy-King

- I'm a Steady Whorin' Half-Man

Remember to support the CVG on PATREON!

Hey, how about some show notes?

Remember to pick up CHOMP!  The Zombie Survival Horror RPG, from FKI, LLC!

Find out more about the CHOMP! Survival Horror RPG on Craig and Matt's Facebook page.

You too can play it with Craig and Matt out at  Clearwater Con 2015!

Listen to our Actual Play session of CHOMP!

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

Also, World War Z, by Max Brooks

You Can Run, You Can Hide: The Epidemiology and Statistical Mechanics of Zombies by Alexander A. AlemiMatthew BierbaumChristopher R. Myers & James P. Sethna
You Can Run, You Can Hide:The Epidemiology and Statistical Mechanics of Zombies

Hebanon Games, (soon to be) makers of Red Markets

All Flesh Must Be Eaten!

A Necro-Biological Explanation for the Fermi Paradox by Stephen R. Kane, Franck Selsis

Check out this interactive model of the Zombie Apocalypse!  

PC Stinger:  "Bazooka" Joe Blutarski, RHP, was my own PC during a zombie one-shot of Mike's using Savage Worlds, called "Sacred Heart Hospital".  The game opened with a foreboding medical report as recorded by Dr. David Cook, the original of which is appended to the end of this installment of the CVG.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The CVG Actual Play & Community Theater Podcast 002 - The One Ring: The Darkening of Mirkwood - Session 02: The Gathering of the Five Armies

The streets of Dale are bedlam on the eve of the Gathering...

Episode 2 of The CVG Actual Play & Community Theater Podcast is up and in stores near you (i.e. iTunes)!  

Remember: it's on a different feed from The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue, so you will need to subscribe to this feed separately if you're into it!

The game is The One Ring, by Cubicle 7 Games!  The campaign is The Darkening of Mirkwood!

Don't remember much about The One Ring?  Check out the Geek's game review of it here!

Or check out the TOR community forums here!

Here is Tales from Wilderland!

Here is a link to Richard Harrison's TOR resources, including the Guide to Dale!

And now a quick breakdown of our characters:

PC:  Carl Huffingtoe
Player:  Andrew

Culture:  Hobbit of the Shire
Background:  Too Many Paths To Tread

Calling:  Wanderer

PC:  Denethor Lightbow
Player:  Nick
Culture:    Elf of Mirkwood
Background:  Diligent Defender

Calling:  Scholar

PC:  The "Boarslayer"
Player:  Monster Mike
Culture:  Woodman of Mirkwood
Background:  The Hound

Calling:  Warden

PC:  Brand, son of Gorm
Player:  Jack

Culture:  Barding (Man of Dale)
Background:  Rediscovering the Past

Calling:  Treasure Hunter

PC:  Mord, Son of Munan
Player:  BJ

Culture:  Man of the Lake

Calling:  Slayer

Remember to show your love and support for the Geek out on Patreon!  Actual play episodes don't count for our Patreon contributions, so every time we play a game, you get a freebie!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #012: Shuriken, Honey Honey!

Action shot from a recent LARP in the Geekery prepping for this month's episode
Episode Twelve of The Chippewa Valley Geek Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue is complete and can be found here or on iTunes and Stitcher!

We're talking about Asian and Asian-inspired gamery, geekery and all sorts of other cool stuff!

0:00:00  Intros
0:01:06  The Up Front: On geek imagination vs. geek capabilities
0:05:35  The Interview:  Master Rich Parsons tells us what it takes to become a martial arts guru, breaks down some RPG combat systems, and takes on the Geek-del Test!
0:42:02  Payin' some bills

0:47:16 The Roundtable:  Wherein Mike and Jack talk Asian gaming and films, confront rules bloat, and make like Bruce and Jackie with the picks!
1:39:42  Community Calendar
1:43:26  Outro & Credits
1:44:55  Bonus Track:    Wampa Roll!

Remember to support the CVG on PATREON!

Hey, how about some show notes?

The Sunset Warrior Cycle by Erik Von Lustbader

Get Luke's Green Lightsaber the easy way!

Master Rich Parsons
Please welcome Master Rich Parsons to the podcast this month!

Check out:


Vampire: The Masquerade

The Five Deadly Venoms

Legend of Drunken Master

Force 10 from Navarone

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Sin City

Under Siege

1E - Oriental Adventures
2E - The Complete Ninja Handbook
3E - Oriental Adventures

Feng Shui

Big Eyes Small Mouth

Vampire: Kindred of the East

Princess Mononoke

Usagi Yojimbo

Samurai Jack

Empire of the Petal Throne

Weaponized Tuna!

PC Stinger:  Rion Miller
This month's stinger is by a Shadowrun mercenary mage contributed by our special guest Master Rich Parsons.  Check out his character sheet here...

The backing sound effects used in this episode included:

-  "Gong 3.wav", obtained via via a Creative Commons Attribution license.  The original file can be found here.
-  "Dizi Chinese Flute Sample 2.aif", obtained via via a Creative Commons 0 license.  The original file can be found here.-  "shimbashi_festival_taiko.wav", obtained via via a Creative Commons Attribution license.  The original file can be found here.
-  "koto and shamisen loop.wav", obtained via via a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  license.  The original file can be found here.
-  "Hokito.wav", obtained via via a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license.  The original file can be found here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Monster Mike's Geek Reads: Monster Mike Pulls a Hat Trick

Well, this geek-who-reads has been reading up a storm in the past year, and I've got a truckload of recommendations for you in Monsters and Modern Fantasy.  Not one, not two, but three books.  And each book is really just a placeholder for a whole series of books that are some of the best current geek-lit out there.  Go read all the books in these three series now.

Now.  Yes, right now.  Shoo.

Have you finished yet?  It's okay.  I'll wait.

(Twiddles thumbs.  Makes a play on Words With Friends - SCROTUM for 77 points and another bingo against Brian.  There were higher scoring options, of course.  But when you get a chance to play a funny body part, you play it, no questions asked amiright?)

Good job, reader!  Skin Game is book number 15 in The Dresden Files series by LARPer and author Jim Butcher.  And of course, you also read the short story collection Side Jobs for extra credit because it kills you to not have every last scrap of canon.  It can be difficult to discuss a single book from this series because context matters, and things that happened in earlier books have echoes that keep ringing in the later ones.  Harry Dresden is a private investigator and wizard living in Chicago.  Somewhere deep in the back of my brain, I hear Robbie Coltrane's voice whispering "Yer a wizard, Harry," whenever I dive into one of these books, but this series should not be confused with Hogwarts.  Dresden's world is simply our everyday world, with massive power struggles between the Summer and Winter courts of Faerie, werewolves of multiple origins, a white council of wizards, and three different courts of vampires lurking in the shadows of our existence.  The principal characters, both friends and foes of Dresden, are rich and interesting and each have their own arcs of personal development and tragedy.

Skin Game is essentially a heist story.  Dresden has been piled with different obligations and complications throughout the series, and these converge to force him to work with some old enemies to steal the Holy Grail out of the personal vault of Hades, Lord of the Underworld.  Cross-purposes, competing agendas, and inevitable betrayals compete with some really thrilling action in this story, and Dresden manages to survive if not come out completely on top in the end.  The private conversation between Dresden and Hades himself is definitely the OMG moment in the book.  As a rule, the books in the Dresden Files series get better and better as you go along.  However, they are not strictly episodic.  This series reads best in published order, and watching the short-lived TV show won't be any sort of useful preparation to reading Skin Game.  Start with Storm Front and enjoy about 100 hours of great reading to prepare yourself for this book.

 out of 5

The Rhesus Chart is the fifth book in the outstanding Laundry Files series by Charles Stross.  The Laundry, in case you didn't know, is the super-secret part of British intelligence that deals with supernatural threats from beyond space and time.  We're talking principally Lovecraft mythos here, rather than the more World of Darkness vibe of Dresden.  Along with Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, you can mix in a little bit of James Bond for secret agent spy action and The Office for humor and you've got the feel of The Laundry about right.  In The Atrocity Archives, you learn how Bob Howard  came to join The Laundry and why he can never leave.  Bob, you see, has made the transition from IT professional to  computational demonologist.  Magic is mostly about complex computer algorithms solving multi-dimensional differential equations, and Bob is one of the professionals at The Laundry who has mastered this craft.

In The Rhesus Chart, it seems that a group of quantitative traders working for a major London investment bank have stumbled across a formula of their own while designing a complex trading algorithm.  They all develop a keen awareness of their surroundings, highly enhanced strength and reflexes, an aversion to sunlight, and a thirst for human blood.  Even though everyone in The Laundry knows that vampires don't exist, Bob ends up inevitably on their trail and uncovers an ages-old conspiracy between man and monsters.  Charles Stross has come up with a fresh modern take on the Mythos that avoids becoming another Delta Green.

 out of 5

The Monster Hunter International series is so damn good that I recommend people don't start reading them until early on a Saturday morning during a weekend with nothing else to do.  Get comfortable, turn off the phone, have some food nearby, and wear a catheter because you will not be able to stop reading these once you start.  Larry Correia has a real gift for pulling you into the story and keeping you pinned in the literary version of a bridging double chickenwing hold until you finish the book.  You can get the first three books in the series under a collected volume called The Monster Hunters, and the author gains bonus cool points for insisting that the digital versions of his books are published without DRM.

Monster Hunter International is a private organization that collects US government bounties on supernatural creatures.  The first two books in the series, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta, describe how Owen Zastava Pitt came to join MHI and face down threats of truly cosmic proportion.  Monster Hunter Alpha follows the story of Earl Harbinger, the leader of MHI and an incredibly bad-ass werewolf.  And Nemesis shifts the focus to another character in the Correia universe - Agent Franks.  Franks works for the government Monster Control Bureau and is a monster himself - Frankenstein's monster, specifically.  Long ago, he swore an oath to our founding fathers to defend America from monsters of all sorts under one condition - that the US never tries to create another one of him.  Well, Special Task Force Unicorn (aka STFU) has gone and done exactly that and Agent Franks has gone rogue.  Often at odds with MHI, Franks has to team up with them to defeat thirteen demon-infested replicas of himself in order to stop all of hell from being turned loose upon the world again.

 out of 5

It's worth noting that all three of these fictional modern fantasy worlds have a lot in common.  First of all, they all share the basic Harry Potter premise: Monsters and magic are real, and the vast bulk of humanity lives in willful ignorance of their existence because things simply work better that way.  Second, they are all highly game-able settings.  So much so, that each of these worlds already has its own role-playing game.  You can play The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, which is based on FATE mechanics.  The Laundry is a stand alone game modeled on the Call of Cthulhu RPG, and Monster Hunter International is a setting for Hero System 6 for those of you that like a lot of tactical crunch.  Finally, they are all really well crafted stories with a rich cast of interesting characters and lots of action.  They are all easy to pick up, and impossible to put down.  To me, these three series represent the vanguard of the new modern fantasy movement.  Start reading.