Saturday, November 30, 2013

The CVG Special Bulletin Podcast #001 !

2013 RPG Podcasters Charity Drive banner

A special bulletin podcast which couldn't wait for the next monthly episode, concerning Urgent Announcements Three!  Check it out here!

00:00 - Intros and hellos
Announcement #1
01:06 - The CVG is honored to join the 2013 RPG Podcasters Charity Drive!  Please go and help us out or contirbute to one of the other amazing podcasts and their causes!

Featuring an interview with Sara Nemec of the Feed My People Food Bank!

Announcement #2
15:18 - The Geek goes to Bandcamp!
Check out Songs From The Geek!  A new digital album available for your collection.  As you do. 

Announcement #3

17:15 - Check out and contribute to The Corporia Kickstarter!  Time is running out!  Go pledge your support today!
Feauring  an interview with creator Mark Plemmons!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #006: (I'm Your) Hoochie Boogie Man!

"Errr...  Not mother?"
Episode Six of The Chippewa Valley Geek Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue is complete and can be found here or on iTunes.

It's October 2013 (kind of), and we're talking about monsters, varmints and things that need killin'!

0:00:00 Intros
0:01:56 The Up Front: On Addiction and Mental Illness in Geek Games & Media
0:06:54 The Interview:  Author, Lecturer and Paranormal Researcher Chad Lewis gives me the lowdown on the hodag, tells you why to stay off Hwy 37, and takes the Geek-del Test!
0:25:10 Payin' some bills

0:28:01 The Roundtable:  Wherein the boys talk about what makes a great monster, make like Terry and Howie with the picks, and Monster Mike gets his geek card revoked!
1:05:14 The Community Calendar
1:09:21 The October Monthly Marathon: Itty Bitty Don't-Say-This-In-School-boy!
1:09:39 The October Giveaway Contest
1:10:32 Outro & Credits
1:12:29 Bonus Track:    Hodag Me!

Some Show Notes and Links!

Meet Mr. Chad Lewis!

The Geek's Amazon Link!

The ponies' own Oubliettes and Ogres, as imagined by Katie Cook...

Kev talks Superman and Spicoli!  Watch it here!

PC Stinger:
Lt. Lance Rhodes is a Hero System Character, so naturally he has a NINE PAGE character sheet.  He's a Navy Seal and expert in nuclear submarines though, so I for one am not going to mess with him...
Special thanks to Erik Schweitzer for the call-in.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Haiku Movie Review! Thor: The Dark World

Feel the righteousness!
Frigga rocks, Nat's a dreamboat...

Solid...        A -

It helps me think too...
It helps me think too....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Haiku Movie Review! Kick-Ass 2

Fun.  Not as good as
the first one, but Hit Girl still
kicks my ass.           B+

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Discussion Thread for the September 2013 Monthly Marathon -"Game over man! Game over"

Reminds me of my prom...

Your monthly curriculum (should you choose to accept it) is as follows...
Alien  (1979)
Aliens  (1986)
Alien3  (1992)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Extra credit may or may not include:
Prometheus (2012)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #005: Sittin' On Top Of The World(s)!

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

It's September 2013, and we're talking about the act of creation and generating new material and stuffs for our hobbies!

0:00:00 Intros
0:01:09 The Up Front: On My Talentless Fanboy Angst
0:08:11 The Interview:  Sculptor Scott Francek offers trade secrets, opines on the relative worth of nudity and horses to an artist, and takes on the Geek-del Test!
0:37:44 The Roundtable:  World Building, Adventure Building, and Encounter Building!
1:18:14 The Community Calendar
1:23:00 The September Monthly Marathon: Game over, man!  Game over!
1:24:14 The September Giveaway Contest
1:24:43 Outro & Credits
1:26:26 Bonus Track:    You Know My Rider

Some Show Notes and Links!

Paizo's RPG Superstar

Murder by Death

Patton Oswalt's work on Episode VII

Patton Oswalt on Joke Stealing et al

The Scott Francek Photo Stream

Hydra Miniatures - Check out Scott's stuff in the Retro Raygun line

Reaper Miniatures
Dandy Franchesca -
Santoine de Fronzac -

Fatman on Batman, The Greg Capullo episodes

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep

Dungeon World

Play Unsafe: How Improvisation Can Change The Way You Roleplay

PC Stinger:
Natharook has existed in many games and many systems over the years...  Nay, ALL the systems.  But here is the original, ladies and gentlemen, in Technicolor Star Wars d6...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Announcing the Fairy Princess Podcast!

Hi all...

By popular demand (at least around here), the Baron Von Productions family of podcasts is proud to announce the first spinoff from the Chippewa Valley Geek Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue -- The Fairy Princess Podcast, the first two episodes of which can currently be found here, or on iTunes.

There is no gaming content, but there is significant discussion of both ponies and Wonder Woman.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Haiku Movie Review! Elysium

Traffic meets District
9.  Social comment stuff too.
Nice effects.           C+

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What's Geekin' Me Now - The Gamers: Hands of Fate

So yeah.  I'll be the first to admit that I was way, way out of the loop on this one.  The degree to which I have spent the last few years far from the pulse of geekdom and stuck in places only Brodie Bruce could surmise is at times astonishing even to me.

Back when the first Gamers movie, "The Gamers", came out in 2003, sure, I was there.  I watched some clips at the booth at GenCon and laughed my ass off.  The thing with the character just standing there whose player didn't show up that week?  Classic.  Of course, one didn't ask or expect much in terms of film quality or whatnot...  We hadn't been spoiled by years of web series on a level beyond anything that could have been anticipated then.  In many senses, it was kind of like The Blair Witch Project of gaming-dom and it did it well.  It was cool to see our particular brand of subculture up there on the screen and not just as the punchline for a sitcom "nerd" joke.
This is what happens to your universe
when you zone out for a few years.

Naturally I thought "it must be mine", brought the DVD home, and watched it again.  Still funny, but it moved a lot slower this time, and the sound was a lot harder to make out on my TV.  Of course, con swag must be shown off to friends, so we gathered our group to watch it en masse and there were chortles all around.  But on the third viewing it got progressively harder to sit still through the whole thing, and once it ended, the DVD went into a beloved place of honor on my shelf... where it hasn't been touched since, except perhaps by movers.

In the years that followed, "The Gamers: Dorkness Rising" came out, and sad to say, I never got around to seeing it. I always kind of figured I would at some point but it wasn't really a priority.  Naturally that means it never happened.

Even later, I was almost wholly oblivious when the third movie successfully completed a Kickstarter for funding and began shooting.  At GenCon no less.  While I was there.  And I had no idea.  (Cue Brodie please.)  Admittedly I had my hands full with "important" things at the time but I recognize that's no excuse in the food court of my peers. Whenever I did hear the term "hands of fate ", I assumed they were trying some MST3K tie-in to Manos and paid it no mind.  Fool that I was...

Remember Trin?  Yeah, she kicks ass...
This last spring, I went to Berserkon, and in my CVG coverage, I had the good fortune to stumble blindly into an interview with Trin Miller, who was there in relation to her work on the new movie.  During the course of our talk, she invited me to check out a test screening of footage from the film they were having there at the con. (I think I can legally say this now right?  If not, forward all SAG litigation to  So of course, I went.  When you're at a stage of life where you're wondering if it's worth bothering getting out of bed in the morning and someone talented and smart asks you to check out some work that they're actually very proud of, you go and you look, dammit.

Now at this point, I suppose I shouldn't bemoan my state of having known next to nothing about the film before I went, considering I just spent several minutes in my last Up Front this month singing the praises of knowing nothing about a movie before you see it. In this case, there is no question I was blown away by what I saw.  The writing, the acting, the direction, the equipment were all light-years ahead of what I had known from that little DVD from several years before. Even in its unfinished state it far exceeded anything I had actually expected.  Fool that I was.  (Did I mention that already?)  Even the work-in-progress-ness helped add charm to the screening, as the filmmakers would from time to time shout out sound effects from the script for scenes that hadn't yet been completed in post...  Or descriptions of what was happening on the green screen that hadn't been added in yet.

After the showing was done - I hope it's not too over the top to say, but I honestly felt more proud on the whole to be a gamer and have some tangential life-connection to this thing I just watched.  I became fully convinced that "gaming cinema" had come full circle to a level where I could easily see this playing any indie film house in the country and being a success. (Of course there are probably good reasons why I never successfully got my film industry career off the ground, so who am I to say?  I mean, I'm still waiting for that Buckaroo Banzai sequel, yo.  (It's gonna happen!  Someday!  The end credits said so...). But nonetheless, I digress.)  In any event the planned GenCon release of the final cut went into my long-term calendar as a must-get-to, to pick up the DVD at a minimum.  And finally see what was really going on in the narrated green-screen footage.  And I also had half a hankering to try my hand at CCGs too, but my wallet responded with dismay and threats to leave me forever if I ever did try getting into MTG, which I understand would likely have had much the same effect anyway.

Now of course the sadness is, as referenced in this month's pod, I unfortunately won't be making this GenCon -- only the second year I have missed out of the last sixteen.  However, our friends at Dead Gentlemen and Zombie Orpheus must have heard my loud cries of silent inner anguish. (I know that makes no sense...  Just roll with it.) For lo, they hath created a webcast of the premiere screening at the con, so we poor homebound souls can watch alongside the viewing audience.  See below:

Berserkon shared a link.Thursday near Duluth, MN
Can't make it to Gen Con Indy this year?Bummed that you can't see the gorgeous finished version of The Gamers: Hands of Fate after checking out the rough cut at Berserkon?
Well then - "Good news, everyone!"; you're in luck! will be streaming the premier of Gamers 3 along with the Gen Con showing. It's password locked now, but when showtime starts that lock will go away and all you have to do is grab some popcorn! Next best thing to being there in person.

Just another friendly service provided by your pals at Zombie Orpheus EntertainmentDead Gentlemen Productions!
So yeah.   Yes. Hell yes.  Fershizzle.  And twenty Chippewa Valley Geek points to Berserkon for the gratuitous Futurama reference.

If like me, you're stuck home this weekend… Do yourself a favor and tune into this little gem. I will definitely be there watching alongside you and can guarantee you'll be highly entertained.  Even better, once the big con goes down, I recommend you join me in ordering the DVD as soon as it's officially available.  I honestly haven't yet been able to figure out the right link for that yet, but will update as soon as I find something official.

Gamers represent!  By the way, here's the trailer:

PS:  Longtime friend of the CVG Erik Schweitzer is in the movie for about 3 seconds (± 2 seconds), obliviously rummaging through a box in the Dealer Hall.  No sh#t.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Discussion Thread for the August 2013 Monthly Marathon -"Golem? I barely met 'im!"

They don't make 'em like they used to, and that's probably a good thing...
Your monthly curriculum (should you choose to accept it) is as follows...
Frankenstein (1931)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
Frankenstein (2004)

Extra credit suggestions may or may not include:

Bride of Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Revenge of Frankenstein
Frankenstein Conquers the World
Frankenstein Unbound
and so many others...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #004: Mannish Boys!

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

It's August 2013, and we are continuing the gender issues discussion this month - this time from the other side of the septic tank!  Also, Eli Bremmer and the Eau Claire Coalition!

0:00:00 Intros
0:01:11 The Up Front: On SDCC
0:08:56 The Interview:  The Eau Claire Coalition
0:40:32 The Roundtable:  Masculinity and Gender Issues in Society and Geekery
1:21:18 The Community Calendar
1:25:56 The August Monthly Marathon: Golem?  I barely met ‘im!
1:28:32 The August Giveaway
1:29:49 Outro & Credits
1:31:04 Bonus Track:    Riddle of Steel

Show Notes!

The cover art used above for this month's episode post is a variant cover for Marvel Now's Thunderbolts #1 by the brilliant Skottie Young.  Check out his stuff at

The Interview!

Mr. Eli Bremer...
Eli Bremer on the mic
Here's the Kickstarter page!

Here is Gnome City Productions!

Here is When I'm Sixty Four!

Check out ECC artist Mark Lone!

Links from the Roundtable!

This American Life episode "Testosterone":
Also referenced in the episode "500":

Brene Brown:

Conan the Barbarian "Queen of the Black Coast" by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


A few months ago, I attended GaryCon down in Lake Geneva WI, and while I was there, I picked up issue number one of Gygax magazine. For those who haven't seen it, it looks very much like a retro clone version of the old Dragon magazine, and I appreciated the lengths to which they went to bring home the feeling of picking one of those old copies off-the-shelf.

After finally reading it through a month or so later though, the content within didn't really quite live up to the hype or the hope.  Most of the articles seem to be reminisces or celebrations of grognardia (and not in the good way). One article in particular as I recall was about "putting the magic back in magic" which basically amounts to ways to ensure the wizard in your party has even less fun on game night by making his abilities only work randomly about half the time - and such other fun ideas that treat game balance as a foe of imaginative roleplay.  Oy.

One article that did catch my imagination though was titled "DMing for your Toddler" by Cory Doctorow, in which the author essentially describes his efforts to set up a battle using his plastic pre-painted minis and some of his daughters' stuffed animals.  The premise of a simple to understand rule set, using the items already at hand which your child wants to play with struck a big chord with me and I had been thinking on it ever since.

My daughter R. and I discussed it for a while and kicked around some ideas and finally one recent Saturday we were prepared to undergo our first attempt at, "ASSAULT ON EQUESTRIA!"

To begin with, we assembled teams.  She used eight of her ponies, including the core 6, Princess Celestia and Miss Cherilee.  I gave her the choice of defending her castle, or trying to recover it post-invasion.  She chose to defend.  (Even at age 5, she displays a level of tactical genius which G.A. Custer could perhaps have used a smidge more of...)

In This Corner...
As the attacker, I selected six of my DDM dragon minis, including a wyvern.  The non-wyvern dragons all naturally had dragon breath as a weapon option.  I thought my experience and the advantage in having more ranged attackers and fast movement for all of my "troops" would offset my numerical disadvantage.
The evil invaders
The ruleset was as follows...  We would each act in turns.  On a turn, each member of a team would choose either to move, fight, or use a magical ability.  Every character was assumed to have 8 stamina, which when reduced to 0 would result in them being knocked out.  We used pennies by each figure to keep track of damage (but only after they actually did get damaged).

Movement rate was determined by rolling a d12 each time and moving up to that many inches.  For having wings, we allowed the pegasi, Princess Celestia and all the dragons to add two inches to their movement rolls.
Let slip the ponies of war!

Fighting consisted of a melee attack and was an auto-hit situation as long as one was reasonably adjacent to the target.  Just roll 1d6 damage, except in the case of the wyvern (which had a stinger instead of dragon breath) and the extra-tough earth ponies (who needed something to offset the lack of wings or magic).  These could all roll 1d8 damage in melee.

Next to be addressed were the magical abilities, used by the unicorns and Princess Celestia.  I followed the suggestions in the article and initially we agreed on two spells, fireball and "zap" (or magic missile).  The theory was that fireball was easier to hit with but did less damage than zap.  In reality though, fireball was never used, and we ended up using the zap guidelines exclusively for any magical attack, as well as for dragon breath.  To do damage, we first needed to hit on a d20 attack roll, throwing greater than or equal to the target's range in inches.  A hit did 1d6 damage.

Lastly, the magic users could choose to spend an action healing other characters.  This could be done at any range and restored 1d4 stamina.  We didn't keep track of negatives; once a pony or dragon hit 0 they just fell over and we took the pennies away.  So waking up knocked out characters was easy.  I chose two of my six dragons as captains who would also have this healing ability.

As with most minis games, the first couple of turns moved slowly while I crossed the open plain approaching the castle.  I thought she was in trouble when she forsook her defensive advantage to rush out of the front gate and meet me head on.  But that assessment was dashed once my front line got a face full of Applejack and Pinkie Pie...

Pinkie Pie takes the fight to the wyvern
In retrospect, R. was quite in the right to blunt my advance with melee fighters while keeping her casters up on the castle ramparts.  Blind luck or masterful strategy, it kept me acting on the defensive, in spite of my role as aggressor.  Also, the disparity in numbers was a lot heavier in practice than originally anticipated, and once dragons started dropping, the shrinking economy of action limited my available options dramatically.  By contrast, whenever I landed a shot lucky enough to fell a pony, it was not difficult at her at all to find a spare unicorn to heal her right back up the next turn.

Long story short, I got my butt handed to me big time and R. is raring to go for another round asap.  I think next time we will look to set up better number parity (sorry, Miss Cheerilee) and will simplify the magic options and rules a bit, cutting the chaff we didn't bother to use.   

Additionally, I would love to have some better ideas for scenarios or storylines we can add to mix up the games and make them not become a monotonous dice-rolling exercise.  Maybe a rescue or a capture the flag type plot for next time?  Or once the dragons become passe, maybe I should assemble an army of elementals, demons or goblins or the like. 

The beginning of the end for the legion of wyrms...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Discussion Thread for the July 2013 Monthly Marathon!

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan The Destroyer (1984)
Kull The Conqueror (1997)
Conan The Barbarian (2011)


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The CVG Podcast and Rhythm & Blues Revue - Episode #003: Doctor, Doctor!

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

It's another podcast!  'Cause podcasts are cool!  (Dont worry - it's way shorter than last month.)Join me as I celebrate our Independence Day with a TARDIS trip to the UK of Whoville!  Also, why Kevin Smith doesn't suck as much as you would like me to think he does!

Contents include:
00:00  Introductions
01:05  The Up Front:  I'm Over You Being Over Kevin Smith
06:30  The Roundtable:  Is There A Doctor In The House?
41:12  The Community Calendar for July/Early August 2013!
45:50  The July Monthly Marathon Challenge!
46:55  Another Giveaway!

48:55  End Credits
50:21  Bonus Track! – “11 Doc Rock