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Dear Diary….fresh air at last

The others were having their own adventures while we were busy with the barracks.

Yeti, Mikael, and Raven came across a group of ghouls that attacked them…but, of course, they couldn’t get near Yeti, so their ability to attack was limited.

Apparently that doesn’t work if you palm-punch them, which Raven did, and then couldn’t move. The ghoul was also stunned by his attack, though, which made it an open target for Yeti – and after it was killed, Raven was able to use his spear to help Yeti and Mikael kill the others.

They found everything quiet in the cleric’s apartments (entering by the secret door again to avoid disturbing the guards), and came back with Cleric Romag’s chainmail and mace (which Mikael had previously told us were magical).

They also fit most of the money into the bag of holding, and untied Romag’s legs so he could walk himself out (not his mouth, though, since we’ve learned our lesson).

Meanwhile, Ezekiel removed the Jailor’s chainmail (since he won’t need it anyway), and gave it to the man we rescued from the rack (his name is Heiran Karreneth).

I admit it was awkward, standing around in the hallway trying to make conversation with two orcs and a bugbear standing there…but eventually we heard something coming down the hall, and we could see the light of Yeti’s shield shining as the rest of our party came closer.

We heard growling and gurgling, too, and saw two ghouls following them – though they couldn’t get close enough to be dangerous because they didn’t want to get near Yeti.

I turned to Ezekiel to let him deal with them, but he was staring off into space with a kind of vague smile on his face.

It didn’t look like anyone had stabbed him with a poisoned needle or something, so I told Lydia to hold things together while I shot the ghouls.

Heh…hmm…So I shot one of them through the throat, but after winging the other one, it got smart or something and I spent four arrows without doing any damage.

Raven apparently got tired of watching me humiliate myself, and skewered the ghoul to the wall with a single thrust of his spear.

With that dealt with, I could tell everyone that I’d noticed a secret door in the wall (maybe that’s why I kept missing my shots? I was distracted?) so while Lydia slapped Ezekiel until he shook his head and started talking again, Raven checked it and opened it with his spear.

We put Mikael in charge of Romag (the orcs and bugbear seemed to be behaving themselves), so Ezekiel and Raven headed in to check the passage (although I thought time was getting on and we should rescue what prisoners might remain).

Well, I guess I was wrong, because when they came back, they had some gnome-sized leather armor, backpack, and a short sword.

They say there are iron doors leading into the backs of the cells where we found zombies, and another secret door to the bugbears’ guard-room. There’s also a room behind a curtain that we assume is the Jailor’s quarters – especially since we found the gnome’s gear there – where Ezekiel opened an iron chest (first by bashing it with his mace before he realized he had the Jailor’s keys) and found a bucket-load more money. (Also a couple potions that they both think are for healing.)

They also brought back a couple little flasks of oil for Lydia, and we waited while the gnome put his gear back on (his name is Wonillon, and he says he came into the Temple for treasure and profit. He got more trouble than he reckoned on, but he’d be willing to return with us if there was adventuring to do).

(About that point, Raven’s pet bugbear complained it was typical racism for us to give the gnome and the human prisoner stuff, but him nothing…so Mikael cast Cure Light Wounds on him, and then he said, “Thank you.” So I guess it’s just as well I didn’t point out that he and his pals had imprisoned the others. He did give us credit for what we did give him, which I guess is pretty broad-minded of a bugbear.)

So the bugbear directed us to the right corridor to get to the cells – through the barracks, past the pit with the water in it, and west.

A couple ghouls came up on us, but Ezekiel turned them into dust (good to have him paying attention again), and the bugbear said, “You’re going to want to use that trick again, around the corner to the left.”

Sure enough, we passed through a door into another corridor, and we could smell the filth and rot of something vile. Ezekiel advanced with his holy symbol, and some pale, ugly creatures came at us through a doorway to the west (I gather they were ghasts, since they looked a little different, and they didn’t turn straight to dust at the sight of Ezekiel’s sheep).

One of them got too close to Ezekiel, and he brought his mace down on it – there was a flash of light, and a crackling sound or something, and the ghast crumbled into dust and ash. It was hard to see from all the way in the back, but I think the eyes of the ram on his mace – and that rune on its forehead – were both glowing right after he hit it.

Maybe that got him excited or something, because when the ghasts fled back into the room, he charged after them (“charged” as fast as he could), and Yeti and Raven went with him.

I got kind of nervous with both our powerhouses against undead gone at once, but the corridor was quiet. (Very quiet…the orcs and bugbear didn’t seem keen to make conversation with us any more than we were to make it with them. Lydia did talk a little bit with the two women we rescued – reassuring them, I think.)

It felt like hours until the threesome joined us again – although it’s hard to tell down there.

They told us they found several rooms used as undead quarters, including some old “chapel” with a smashed altar and a grotesque bas-relief on the wall (a human-like face with squashed features and a mushroom head…I think whoever carved it must have been on the mushrooms. At least that’s what Raven said).

Ezekiel also found an ivory statuette in a box, a sack of clothing (that was mostly intact and not vile-smelling), and also a locked chest that contained a brooch and a heavy hammer with the symbol of Ula.

Yeti is carrying the hammer of Ula and seems very excited – he says it’s a throwing hammer.

Ezekiel seems worried about the brooch – he says it has the heraldry of Veluna and the Knights of the Hart on it…which to me says someone was captured/killed and plundered by the Evil things here.

They also lugged the chest back so they could dump the money it contained into the bag of holding – which seemed to impress all the prisoners.

We kept going until we reached a cross-road where the bugbear said to go right. He kept shushing us, too, so I did my best to watch all angles at once.

Raven unlocked the door, and he and Yeti went inside. From the hall, I could glimpse a bunch of naked men chained to the walls.

Turns out Ezekiel had a good idea when he grabbed that bag of clothing, so while Raven unchained all the prisoners, Ezekiel arranged outfits for them and helped them dress.

There were two women and six or seven men altogether in that room, and once we had freed and clothed them all, we could head to the nearest stairs (with the bugbear shushing us all the way).

We reached a staircase without meeting anyone, and climbed to what was once a vestry – but is now largely broken up. There’s a broken rondite bowl and ewer, and torn brown garments everywhere.

In the larger “sanctuary” outside, the pillars are sandstone, the floor is red, and there are broken rocks and shards all over the floor.

A bronze chain, manacle, and maul are near the altar, but they’ve all been broken or wrecked in some way.

Well, it was already evening – but we decided to head out. Ezekiel didn’t want to spend any more time in the Temple than necessary, and I agree we didn’t have a good place to hole up – especially with so many people to protect.

The big main doors of the Temple – west and east – were still unlocked, like we’d left them, and we headed out toward the gate where we’d left our horses.

Yeti called for his war horse Syphon, and the whole group appeared – with the dead bodies of some gnolls scattered around them. Clearly Syphon knows how to handle himself, and the herd (which is very good).

The bugbear seemed nervous, but did admit we’d dealt straight with him. Ezekiel gave him the “blessing of the God of gods” and sent him off “in peace.”

The bugbear made some kind of cultural gesture and disappeared into the darkness. (Without a sound. They creep me out, honestly.) He also said he’d remember what we’d done – so I hope that’s a good thing.

We offered to escort the orcs farther away from the Temple, but said they probably didn’t want to come to Homlette with us. They said they’d make do with the flail, and headed out into the woods.

Lydia dismissed her lion Simba, and we headed out – the prisoners all piled into the cart (and sitting on Romag…he had a pretty bad day, all things considered).

Apparently most of the “new arrivals” were from Nulb (the two women were the wife and servant of a merchant, and there were a couple other merchants and men-at-arms). They say they were captured by ghouls and were going to be fed to the undead…I said I’m glad we got there first.

Since we had to go through Nulb anyway, we dropped most of them off – handing out six silver to every person as consolation money.

The three from the torture room were from the Chron Hills, so they continued on with us to the Welcome Wench – as did a sailor captured from Nulb, since he didn’t really have a place to return to right away. (And Homlette has lots of traffic going through, so he should be able to catch a ride to wherever he wants to go.)

We will see what this turn of events brings about in Nulb. I mean, ghouls going around kidnapping people isn’t a good thing.

We talked some more with Wonillon, and it sounds like he’d like to join the group when we return to the Temple. Heiran Karreneth also sounds interested in joining us – maybe after we return the ladies to the Chron Hills, I can show him the basics of archery, since having another ranged weapon in the party would be very useful (not counting Raven’s daggers).

Ezekiel says he has some questions he wants to ask Brother Celmet up at the chapel of St. Cuthbert, and maybe that will give us others time to escort the women home (I mean, we could just send them off with a merchant caravan, but I think it’d be nice to follow through).

Several of us are sleeping late, but we can discuss it more at lunchtime.

Oh, yes, and we will need to meet with the village elder, too. We didn’t have time to give a detailed explanation when we knocked on Master Bern’s tower late last night and handed over Cleric Romag.

I wonder what they will get out of him…?


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Temple adventure here.

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DOs and DON’Ts of Face Masks

It’s 2020, and Face Masks are all the rage.

I’m part of the consumer-elastic and -fabric supply chain, so I know. By the time this is all over, we should have about 500 face masks per capita.

[For future web-surfers, “this” is the COVID-19/coronavirus/Wu Han virus pandemic that paralyzed the world during the first part of 2020.]

And yet…a lot of people seem to be missing the point.

On the one hand, it’s great that people have found something they can do to participate in this pandemic.

On the other hand, is wearing a face mask something we should medically be doing?

When the so-called “experts” keep giving conflicting advice – or changing their minds about what is “best” – it’s easy to not know what to believe.

But you should listen to me. I’m on the internet. You can trust me.

Here, in one place, are some basics on Face Masks…so you can decide for yourself if wearing one is worth it! Continue reading

Dear Diary….we have rescue standards

Securing ourselves wasn’t as hard as we feared. Through the tapestry that the under-cleric had come through, we found a second room – apparently a sitting room of some kind, with dishes of fruit and nuts and stuff like that around. There was also a door on one end of the south wall, which we barred without attracting attention.

While Yeti watched the door, Ezekiel and Lydia took the opportunity to question the over-cleric (his name is Romag).

Lydia asked what poison he used in the chest trap, and he said it’s made from some kind of fungus. Lydia says that poison is very effective…on people who don’t eat cheese.

Raven is feeling better already.

Ezekiel convinced Romag to tell us about the Water Temple (apparently they don’t get along, and he’d be happy to see them topple). He says the duty of the Temple is to bring Chaos – and I guess internal strife feeds right into that…

The Water Chief Cleric is Belsornig, and he has an army of trolls and ogres that he likes to send around and get stuff for him – and show his strength. Apparently, though, he himself is no push-over — and he also has gargoyles and a “construct” of some kind working for him.

We also learned the name of the Chief Cleric at the Fire Temple – Alrin – and Ezekiel says that according to the note we found, apparently Alrin was telling the Earth Temple to show respect to the Water Temple.

(Sounds very hierarchical for a temple of Chaos!)

Well, when we’d learned about all we could, Ezekiel explained to Romag that we couldn’t just let him go, but that we don’t kill prisoners, and that he could be happy the Water Temple would receive judgement.

Then he gagged him and went with Lydia to ransack the apartments.

They just about turned the place upside-down, and among other things, Lydia took some writing parchment from the desk, Ezekiel found a potion and a two-spell scroll in the chest that poisoned Raven, and we discovered another alcove behind the bed where Romag’s armor and official vestments were.

We collected some incense and unguents from the wardrobe in the next room, plus a pile of money. There are plenty of other sundry items that might be useful…but we’ll see if we can take the time to carry them away.

Watch has been nice and quiet so far. Raven is feeling good enough that he’s sitting up, and seems to be mending nicely. He even tried some of the alcohol in the rooms, because of course he did. Says the brandy is better than the white wine.

****

Mikael cast Detect Magic in the morning, and verified that Cleric Romag’s chainmail and mace were magic – and so were the potion and scroll Ezekiel found. And that’s it.

We decided to return to the surface and turn Romag over to Master Bern and the town council, who might be able to get more out of him (and also because we can’t keep him locked up here indefinitely).

Yeti said he could see the guards through the peep-hole in the door we barred – but they were just playing cards, and coming and going, and didn’t seem to realize what was going on in the inner rooms.

Someone mentioned prisoners – and of course we decided that if there were prisoners here, we’d better take them with us. Even if they’d be just fine (could they be sacrificed to evil gods with no clerics around, I wonder?) we didn’t want to risk it.

Raven and Ezekiel went to ask Romag about it, while I equipped the sheaf of arrows Lydia has been carrying for me. I’ll really need to buy more when we get out of here…I seem to go through them somehow.

Well, Raven and Ezekiel apparently let Romag know that we’d already killed the Earth Elementals, and he got really scared and said the earth would be angry at us for “disturbing its treasure.”

He begged us to flee with him, and we said we would as soon as we got the prisoners out…so he told us they were kept across from the Earth chamber, down the opposite hallway. Oh, and that there were more near the “front” of the Temple (apparently we can never come in the front way to anything).

We locked him up in the alcove/closet (with his dead underling) and with Corby to stand guard over him.

As we were passing through the room with the pyramid (the “earth chamber”) Mikael was still under the effect of Detect Magic, and told us there was something “glowing” buried between us and the pyramid.

Raven went and measured how many steps it was from the corner of the pyramid, so we could come back and investigate later. And then Mikael said there was an identical spot on the other side.

Ezekiel says that even if disturbing this “treasure” will lure out a big, evil, magical beast for us to kill…well, we’d better kill it, anyway. He’s so optimistic.

The passageway opposite the one where we entered the pyramid room also circled around and headed south – just like the passage on the other side. We took the first turning we saw, which led us to two doors, one on either side of the hallway.

Raven opened the north one, and found stairs leading down.

He opened the south one, and found a plain room with a table, a cask, mugs, lit torches, chairs, a bench, and several bugbears having a meal.

I nailed one through the throat with my ready arrow, and then Lydia called out her magic lion, and Ezekiel dropped his mace (I’m not sure he meant to do that, though).

One of the bugbears got in a hit on Ezekiel before I could skewer it – but then I shot another one and “Simba” clawed at the last one.

After Yeti pinged it with his hammer, it dropped its weapon and begged for mercy. (He’s wearing a different uniform than the previous bands we’ve met, with a black leather jacket that has a pale brown pattern of two triangles. The others only had one triangle. I wonder if it’s the same triangle as before?)

While Yeti Laid Hands on Ezekiel, he asked the bugbear where the prisoners were, and he said to just keep going down the hallway.

Raven volunteered to be responsible for the bugbear (I’m not really sure about him sometimes) and frog-marched it in front of him while we all continued on.

The corridor turned again, and we found cells lining either side of the passage. We noticed one gnome right away – chained to the wall, bound, and gagged. He’s obviously very dangerous.

Our bugbear said he didn’t have the key – that “the Jailor” would have the key…but that the Jailor was really scary, and he didn’t want to go near him, and that he would probably be in the interrogation room.

At the southern turn of the passage, we found a shut door – and when we got closer, we could hear muffled screams. Ezekiel, assuming this was the place, kicked in the door and charged in (if you can call it “charging” when he’s huffing along in full plate armor).

The rest of us followed, leaving Raven in the corridor to keep an eye on his bugbear pet.

We ran past the usual torture room stuff (like an iron maiden and a cage) and rounded a corner to find a man in chainmail and a bugbear keeping busy with a human tied to the rack.

They couldn’t miss our entrance, though, and turned to face us – the man with a battle-ax, the bugbear with a flail.

I missed my first two shots at the man before Mikael cast faery fire. Then he caught the bugbear with a great Poke of the Wind (while Lydia’s Simba totally missed with both claws and his teeth).

The bugbear caught Simba a hard blow before Yeti finished it off – and then I managed to put a couple arrows into the jailor and bring him down.

Ezekiel found the jailor’s keys and handed them to me so he could unlock the man on the rack.

The “interrogation” room had two cells along the side, so while Mikael cast Cure Light Wounds on the prisoner, I unlocked two women from a cell (they say they’re from the Chron Hills).

Good news is I think we got to them before the Jailor did, and hopefully we can get them home safe and sound.

The second cell contained…two orcs. They say they were captured, like the others here, and would be happy to fight these Chaotic beasties same as us.

Ezekiel says, after all, Ao is the God of all gods, so we can send the orcs on their way.

The rack-man seems to have recovered remarkably, thanks to Mikael, and he grabbed the Jailor’s battle-ax to join in the rescue party. (One of the orcs grabbed the bugbear’s flail, and he’d just better behave himself is all I can say).

We headed back out to the corridor and started unlocking the cells there…but we had much more disappointing results.

About half of the cells actually had something in them, and when they did, they had three or four silent figures who stumbled forward with no coordination whenever the door was unlocked. When Ezekiel showed them his holy sheep symbol, they crumbled into dust.

The cell that was actually locked was the one with the gnome – Gnomalon of the Chron Hills, he says. He wanted to know if we’d found his gear…but unfortunately, the Jailor didn’t seem to have that around.

The good news was, he was still alive, so could join us.

Raven did run down some of the nearby corridors, trying to find the Jailor’s quarters or somewhere else he might have stashed stuff…and found another staircase down, and a door with people clanking and talking on the other side.

According to our pet bugbear, that’s the barracks – and the way to the other cells, and the “front” of the Temple, was through there.

So we decided to split up. Yeti, Mikael, and Raven would return to Cleric Romag and get him (and Corby, and as much loot as they thought they could carry) and meet the rest of us back here.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel and I (and Lydia and Simba and maybe the prisoners) would attack the barracks and try to take out the twenty men there by ourselves.

Perhaps an ambitious plan, but that’s what we tried.

(Raven asked Lydia if he could try out the Ring of Shooting Stars.)

Well, we started our attack on the barracks in standard fashion: Lydia hurled an egg into the room as hard as she could, and as the gas was billowing up I shot an arrow at the closest man I could see (who happened to look kinda important).

A few of them threw javelins back at us, but most of them started fleeing through doors on the far side of the room. (Although I did manage to drop two of them.)

Next thing I knew, the stones of the wall to our side were grinding softly, and the sliver of a secret door was opening. I managed to get an arrow through the crack, and whoever it was retreated.

When Ezekiel went to investigate, though, by the time he got the door open no one was there.

I warned the prisoners to stay back, and Ezekiel headed down the passageway to try and flush the enemy out, so I could shoot at them.

I waited, and the cloud dissipated. I moved into the barracks room, and still no one appeared.

Then I heard banging and shouting from behind one of the two doors, and went to investigate.

And apparently pits in the floor are a thing.

I barely twisted my ankle when I landed, but what really made me mad was the ten foot smooth sides and hearing the enemy guards run past me like I didn’t even matter and they could kill our rescued prisoners right under our noses because why not?!

Of course, if they’d tried that, they would have had to face Lydia and her magic lion and her fire-finger and her other scary tricks that I’m sure she has (and also there was an orc with a flail who probably didn’t want to get killed, but personally I’d be happy if he just stood politely and did nothing until this is all over).

Then the pit started filling with water because of course it did.

I was just venting my inarticulate frustration at the world when someone loud clattered and jingled to the edge of the pit and turned out to be Ezekiel. Apparently he heard my first howl of wounded pride when I twisted my ankle.

He threw a rope down, and between us I just barely got out of the pit before my bowstring got wet.

As we stumbled into the barracks, Lydia called out to ask what was wrong. Well, that proved she was alive, which meant the prisoners were alive, which meant so far so good.

I threw open the second door, ready to use my sword on any and everything, but the enemy guards were long gone.

Ezekiel said the best thing we could do was bar the doors there, and head back to the corridor of cells where the others were supposed to meet us. He said that if we met another warrior like the Jailor, the two of us couldn’t take him out all by ourselves (not and protect the prisoners from flanking attacks) so we’d better sit tight and hope for the best.


Read the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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Publish Your Book on Amazon (For People Who Hate Computers)

So you want to publish a book on Amazon…but have no idea how?

Don’t worry! It’s super easy!

TL;DR:Publish Your Book on Amazon (For People Who Hate Computers) — Kimia Wood

1) Go to this link: https://kdp.amazon.com/

2) Sign in with your Amazon password.

3) Follow the prompts and read the instructions!

4) Check out Amazon’s “how to” posts for more information, or if you get stuck.

Do you want more detailed instructions? Well, for those who hate the internet, and just want someone to spell everything out ahead of time, read on!

Whether you want to publish your grandpa’s memoir…your husband’s hobby novel…a family history…a fan-fiction — if your only goal is getting it on Amazon so your second cousins in Alaska can order their own copies – this is the place for you!

(Info on plotting / writing / editing / revising / re-plotting / polishing / revising / editing / marketing / selling a book or novel is beyond the scope of this post.) Continue reading

Dear Diary….I have some concerns (about my party)

I found some gold on the bandits we killed while Ezekiel was digging. It took him a half hour or so to get down to the stone underneath – six feet down. It’s smooth, cut stone, so obviously carved out of the ground here. I’m thinking the dirt was added as part of their crazy rituals.

We headed south, to check out the smaller doors on either side of the big warded one, but when we were almost there another earth elemental rose out of the ground – and a fourth one came at us from the side, flanking us.

Mikael and Corby must have been a little too far away from Yeti, because they both got smacked by the flanking one. I just glimpsed Mikael scoop Corby up in his arms and duck behind Yeti, chanting to her.

I decided to use my sword, since the last elementals were murder on my arrows. The others hammered away at the first one (Yeti, Raven, Ezekiel – and even Lydia, apparently) while I slashed away at the one flanking us.

I heard a great crack and rumble (apparently Raven smacked the elemental so hard it broke into pieces) and then they were fighting beside me. Raven did his fancy blow again, and the elemental crumbled before us.

While we waited for Mikael to finish his healing spell on Corby, and then cast one on himself, Lydia told me how she had hit the elemental with her staff and sent it reeling – twice! It’s not exactly in her usual skill set, so I can see her being excited when it works out.

Next order of business was investigating the doors on either side of the big, chained, warded one. We chose the one to the west first.

I nocked an arrow before we went inside, but there wasn’t anything living.

There was a padded bench – with seven human-sized sandals lined up underneath and seven human-sized brown cloaks hung on pegs above (they’re neat cultists).

Opposite was a wardrobe or cabinet, with eight sets of padlocks and keys (Ezekiel thinks they’re for the manacles on the pillar). Also a scroll in a bone scroll-case (Ezekiel thinks it’s Protection from Earth Elementals), an ivory bracelet, and some cups and plates.

The plates were weird, too, because they each had a different kind of dirt on them – red, yellow, brown, black, and pale grey. I hope Mikael or Yeti can shed some light on this…

Someone (I think Lydia) suggested we could use the cloaks as disguises, so we threw on some cloaks while Raven checked for secret passages (none).

As we got ready to open the door on the other side of the one with chains and glowing writing, Ezekiel was sure he smelled rotting flesh – which meant undead.

But when we threw open the door, all we saw was a big pile of dirt. We poked around, and sure enough, it was a pile of dirt and gravel – although there were also casks of oil for the lights in the corners.

Yeti was heading back out when he found a note on the back of the door – from the Water Temple to the Earth Temple, demanding tribute. Apparently the Earth Temple had scribbled what they thought of these demands underneath. Raven said he didn’t know all of those words…Lydia said she could teach him more words.

We were heading back toward the curtained entrance we first came in (the one to the north-east of the big room) when we heard a scream from up ahead.

Raven (being very fast) raced ahead. Shortly afterward, he grabbed the curtain and dragged it fully open, revealing a group of ghouls attacking a group of bandits (and two or three of them were already down).

Ezekiel produced his holy symbol, and even from that distance the ghouls must have seen it and crumbled to dust at the revulsion.

When we finally came up to Raven, he was speaking with a funny voice and saying, “Oh, so you really think you’re strong enough to join up?”

“Yes, Grand Master,” said one of the bandits (poor fool).

Ezekiel got his deep pretentious voice on, and asked, “What is your bidding, my master?”

And Lydia played with her veil, and told them they’d have to do whatever the master said.

I, of course, am horrible at talking to people (I have a pale mark under my ribs to prove it) so I said nothing.

Raven and Ezekiel decided to “test” their mettle with Ezekiel’s mace… I can still imagine their screams as they dropped dead from the purple lightening.

I mean, they were Evil, but they were also so clueless and helpless. It took three of them dying just by touching the mace before the last two ran away.

Ezekiel and Raven said, well, we finally scared them off. Lydia said we could have used them to fight other Earth Temple people, if we convinced them to be afraid of/loyal to us.

I just think this is why I fight orcs. I like things simple. Sure, when you’re fighting Evil people, things are going to get messy, but there are still rules of engagement, aren’t there?

Getting them to leave the Temple is great…zapping them to death, I’m not so sure.

Then we all realized that one of the men paralyzed by the ghouls wasn’t actually dead yet, so they lectured him about making good life choices and finding a party that won’t run and leave him for ghoul chow. Then, when it looked like he could basically move again, we let him go.

Poor sucker. I wonder how long he’ll last.

Well…we killed the Earth Elementals for him, anyway.

After that, we headed back to the corridor we’d been to before, with the big yellow triangles on the floor, and headed south (past the branch-off where we’d come from after the divining room).

[sketched map]

The first doorway headed east, and slanted a little way from the door. A library ran alongside the corridor, so we spent some time poking through there (and checking for secret doors, of course).

One of the titles was Trial of Earthly Terrors Awaiting the Foolhardy. Guess that about sums up what we just gave the bandits. There were a lot of books on “how to be Evil” – but also some books that seemed to talk about the “judgement of evil,” so I don’t get why anyone would want to join this.

On the other hand…I’m not sure what the party leadership is up to…

When we didn’t find any secret passages, we returned to the main corridor and headed south – where Lydia spotted a secret door in the side of the hallway. (She must have sharp eyes.)

Raven got it open, and we crept in. A short distance ahead was a chest, and Raven checked it for traps and such.

He must not have been super thorough, though, because when he went to unlock it, he yelped and pinched his finger – something had stuck it.

The passage turned south, and a tapestry covered the opening, so Ezekiel marched onward – since he had to find a place to care for Raven.

The room beyond was a neat little bedroom, and some kind of cleric was reading a parchment on the bed in the corner.

Ezekiel told him to keep quiet, and told me to keep him covered with an arrow – so we got him tied up without a fuss.

However, another guy in clerical robes (probably an underling) came through a tapestry across from where we entered. As soon as he saw us, he hollered over his shoulder for “Guards” — and then Lydia pointed her finger and I guess wrapped him up in the tapestry or something (she says that’s a cantrip).

The under-cleric snapped a word I couldn’t quite hear, but Yeti dropped to the ground and started whimpering and hugging himself.

Ezekiel whacked at the under-cleric with his magic mace, and the enemy collapsed at once.

Mikael had gotten Raven onto the bed, where Raven was drooling and saying, “Yeah, get him, Ezekiel! Get rid of the false Ezekiel!”

Hopefully Mikael can prepare Neutralize Poison in the morning…but first we have to survive the night.

And at some point I will have to figure out what my party is up to.


Find the previous entry here.

Start at the beginning of the Temple adventure here.

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The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

Singleness wasn’t your plan, was it, girlfriend?

Yeah, me neither.

Feel it? The throbbing, gnawing ache that chews its way up through your heart?

Put it there, girlfriend. Yeah, me, too…it comes and goes.

A bad stretch? Your cousin’s getting married, now? Your childhood friend posted more kid pics?

We have lots of tissues — knock yourself out.

Listen, maybe you don’t want to hear this right now, but God’s plan is always –

No, I’m not going to be your aunt. Not going to quote the plaque your church gave, you, either. Yeah, everyone says it to me, too—

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness — Kimia Wood

Rub it in, why don’t you?!

God’s got a man for you somewhere out there.

So, how’s the “fishing” going?

Y’know, you’re not getting younger… Let me tell you about the wonders of marriage –

You know what the Bible says: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord –”

No, I wasn’t going to say that.

I was saying, “God’s plan is always good.”

Have another tissue, and I’ll explain. Continue reading

Dear Diary….earth and stone

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

It can’t have been more than ten minutes into our watch shift (Mikael and I) when I heard something coming down the hall…and smelled something I hate.

I signaled Mikael by pulling down the cover of my lit shield – just a sliver – for a moment, and he correctly interpreted it and came over. (Should work out some kind of system for signals…)

Of course we had put out or covered all our lights, so I couldn’t see anything – but I could hear the beasties growling and talking in their own language. With that and the smell, I was pretty sure they were gnolls.

I waited until they sounded near enough that I was pretty sure of hitting something, and launched my prepared arrow. A loud squeal and gurgle told me some beastie was probably dying.

Something clawed me, so I drew my sword and stabbed it (my sword glows a little, so between that and the smell and feel, I was sure it wasn’t Mikael. And it wasn’t; he’s fine).

Another of them slashed my arm, so I stabbed it, too. A crossbow bolt flew past the gnolls (presumably from Yeti), and as the last gnoll was backing away to run, I killed it.

With that done, I could focus on soft scuffling and grinding noises coming from the camp (behind the throne).

My companions seemed to have disappeared, so I crossed the room to investigate. Lydia (and Raven) had opened the secret door we noticed earlier, and everybody else agreed to see if it was more peaceful sleeping in there.

They could have told me, though.

The secret passage is ten feet wide, and runs about forty feet before it ends in another mechanism. Raven explained that there’s a catch just above his head that can be manipulated from the other side, that should drop the “door” section of wall into the floor. He says the winches and sandbag-counterweights are designed to close the door automatically after the person goes through.

Well, finally the night continued peacefully – except that Lydia woke me up halfway through her watch because she wanted more sleep. I guess people just see me as a sucker.

I’m also tired and grumpy.

Finally, the others started to wake up, and we’re eating something.

Lydia explained she heard the guards we fought last night – and from something they said, they apparently thought we were Fire Temple.

So we’re in the “Earth Temple section” right now, but there are other places in this labyrinth.

Ezekiel wants to investigate the north door first.

We’d just better find a better camp spot tonight is all I’m saying.

****

The room outside the secret door is circular – about thirty feet across. There’s a ten foot basin or depression in the center of the floor, with a low seat running around the rim.

Everything is shiny – the walls and floor are polished black stone, and when the secret door closed automatically, you could see how it’d be very hard to notice it from this side.

The ceiling is a deep blue, with pinpricks of light that seemed to glow on their own. They look like they should be constellations, but none of us were sure from what sky.

Lydia discovered drawers under the bench or seat, and they found a collection of weird shaped objects…cones, cubes, that kind of thing – all carved out of bone, ivory, rock, or wood.

Raven thinks it’s a fortune teller kit. Lydia tossed one into the depression, but Ezekiel said we don’t really have any questions to ask (and besides we already know he “needs to stay away from snakes” and stuff like that).

A big arched door led out opposite the secret passage (at least twelve feet tall). On the north (outer) side of the arch is written “Exalted Chamber of High Augury”. Ezekiel and Raven say augury is for asking simple yes-or-no questions (“will X be good or bad for us”).

In the center of the north room is a smashed altar that looks like it used to be obsidian — and, of course, the ceiling also had the strangely glowing dots like stars.

It might be significant that the previous purgers of the Temple destroyed the altar, but didn’t wreck the depression in the first room. It also seems significant that these rooms are otherwise pretty clean and “cared for”-looking.

Across from the other doors, a door let out of the altar room into a hallway like the ones we’d traveled before…only the floor was a different color.

It slanted slightly before joining another passage – lit by torches (so, again, someone frequents this space).

We could see two doors in the north wall from the junction. One was a ways down to our right hand, and the door was inscribed with strange runes. Ezekiel made a note of them to figure out in his down-time, and we decided to leave that place alone for now.

The second door was down to our left, and beyond the passage branched into two areas. To the right, we found a strange triangle-shaped room, with the point of the triangle across from the doorway, and padded seats and couches lining the walls.

This place was also lit with torches, so obviously someone hangs out down here – but I can’t imagine why, because the plaster is covered with horrible ugly and disgusting pictures and sayings.

The worst, though, is a great big eye painted on the ceiling that seems to glare down at you no matter where you are in the room. There’s also a big triangle set into the floor – made of some kind of yellow/brass stone.

Well, we didn’t find anything in that room…and the other direction looks like it used to be a storeroom – before it was smashed. The whole floor is covered with bits of glass, pottery, pieces of shelves, and ingredients that I’m not sure I want to know what they are.

Ezekiel and Yeti found several bottles and containers that they think might be useful (the ones they didn’t step on, of course) – but it occurred to me to wonder why the previous purgers just smashed the room, rather than carting it all away if it really could be used for the forces of Good.

Maybe they were pressed for time? Maybe there was a big fight?

We returned to the main passage and continued west, where our corridor met with an even wider one – running north-south.

The floor is brown marble veined with black…but it’s arranged so that to the north it’s more of a beige, and then to the south it darkens to a more walnut or chocolate (Ezekiel hasn’t explained what that means).

More of those huge yellow triangles are inset into the floor, pointing north like they’re trying to lead us.

Ezekiel decided to be led so we followed the triangles as they rounded the corner and brought us to a doorway covered by a huge red curtain.

We readied ourselves, and Ezekiel pushed back an edge of the curtain to reveal a huge room – our shield-lights didn’t even reach to the opposite side – with a dirt floor and some kind of phosphorescent fungus growing on the ceiling, walls, and supports.

There’s some kind of pyramid in the center, and when Yeti moved forward to investigate, something rose up from the ground in front of him.

It was…huge, and rock-colored, and though it had arms and a body, you wouldn’t really call it human-like.

It swung at Yeti, and I dropped my arrow, and Raven charged it to try hitting it (but didn’t).

Mikael lit it up with faery fire, and Ezekiel swung his mace – and knocked a big chunk of it off.

Corby pecked at it – hard to tell if she was disturbed by it being made of rock, and not having eyeballs to peck.

The creature (if that’s the word) brought its huge fist down on Ezekiel – but as it came near Yeti, something like tiny white lightening ran over its arm, and it just bounced off Ezekiel’s helmet.

Yeti smashed a chunk off with his hammer, and Mikael muttered some things and pointed — next thing you know, the creature was crawling with bugs. (Maybe they hurt it by burrowing through it? Either way it looked creepy.)

(Must remember not to tick off Mikael.)

Lydia stepped forward and threw what looked like a ball of lightening (didn’t know she could do that) which sparked and crackled and split another section of the beastie off.

I finally got my arrows figured out again and landed two shots before Ezekiel turned it into dust and gravel with his mace.

He says that was an Earth Elemental, and he’s very glad Yeti (and his nearby friends) are Protected from Evil.

I call it an unnatural nuisance. Even Mikael agrees with me that the earth shouldn’t just go wandering around as it likes – especially not on this plane.

Well, while I stayed near the door and stood guard, Ezekiel, Yeti, and Raven went to check out the pyramid. Apparently it’s packed dirt, six feet tall, and topped with a stone column. You can reach it by stone steps on all four sides.

Three sides of the column have manacles anchored to them (said they were in good order, too, which I don’t like the sound of). The pillar also has the triangle symbol that we’ve been seeing everywhere.

There’s a bronze box on the fourth side of the column, and inside they found a bronze maul, knife, ewer, and bowl – well made and clean. (Again, disturbing.)

On the far side (to the south, opposite the entry), there are glowing double doors – like the ones at the entrance of the Temple, even to the point that only Ezekiel could even look at them. He says they’re covered in similar runes, and chained, and sealed with soft iron…so we’re leaving them alone for now.

When the previous purgers tried so hard to seal in something Evil, you’d better be really sure you can handle it before you let it out.

Apparently there are side doors, though, so those might be safe to check out.

Before we did that, Lydia pointed out that the rest of the Temple was carved out of rock, and that we should be too far underground for dirt to appear naturally. She reminded us that it’s made from dead plant and animal matter, so where did all this dirt come from?

It is indeed loose – not packed like the pyramid – and Ezekiel wants to dig it out with our camp shovels.

Before we did that, though, we investigated the north-west corner of the room – and found another curtained door in the same wall as the one we entered.

As we approached it, another monstrosity of stone and earth appeared out of the ground before us.

Mikael cast faerie fire on this one, too, and this time I had better luck, landing my first and second shots.

Yeti and Ezekiel hammered away at it (I’m pretty sure I saw tiny purple lightening when Ezekiel’s mace struck it, but maybe not).

Lydia called out her magic lion from the lion statue, and it charged the elemental – slashing with front and back claws and its teeth. (I’m more and more glad we didn’t have to fight it for real at the giant’s house.)

Corby scratched a fault line open in its “head,” so I followed up by driving an arrow into the gap. Another arrow split the creature into pieces at our feet.

(Another reason to dislike those things: they chew up arrows like you wouldn’t believe. They were all so splintered or snapped that I couldn’t reuse any of them.)

Raven went to peek behind the second curtain and make sure it was quiet – then suddenly grabbed the curtain and dragged it completely open.

Seven men stood there, in rough fighter gear. One in the front said, “Excuse me, sir — Holy Ula!”

I think I finally figured out why he said that. But only after Raven had killed one of them with a slap, Ezekiel had charged (but must have tripped on the threshold of the tile corridor, and fell), and Yeti had whacked a man with his hammer.

I took out three of them — then while I was pulling out my next sheaf of arrows, Raven smacked two more of them and Ezekiel pounded another one with his purple-lightening mace.

Anyway, they don’t have the triangles on their clothes of the acolytes – but they were probably looking to sign up (like that band Ezekiel warned into leaving).

Yeti, of course, is in the armor of his goddess, so they could plainly see that he wasn’t affiliated with this cult here.

I still don’t understand what could draw these poor saps down here. What could the deities of Evil offer them?

Well, I am on “guard” while Ezekiel and the others dig away at this dirt floor. I wonder what – if anything – we’ll find.

I can imagine some disturbing things…

[sketch of latest exploration]


Find the previous entry here.

To start at the beginning of our Temple exploration, go here.

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“My Hero Academia” (Seasons 1 thru 4)

"My Hero Academia" (Seasons 1 thru 4) — Kimia Wood In a superhuman society, these kids work hard to one day use their abilities as Heroes.

Anime has opened up a new world for me. After hearing My Hero Academia hyped enough on the internet, we checked it out…and, well, it made it onto my list of 27 things I like best.

The themes, world-building, and characterization are astounding, and the arcs they take the characters on are impressive, too. It’s not perfect – some story-telling choices are sloppy, and the main lead is insufferable at times – but it’s still incredible…and with only a few caveats, I can recommend it to everyone (even my mom, though she’s not into shonen).

(Note: I am only reviewing the anime…not the manga, any of the movies, or the video game – because, yeah, apparently there’s a video game. Who knew?)

The Super-Charged Cast

MHA accomplishes the remarkable feat of creating a large cast where each member is memorable, and has their own personality.

At the beginning, there are, say, four or five stand-outs that serve as our “power trio” (I know the math doesn’t come out – work with me), while the rest of the first-year class is a blur of unpronounceable Japanese names.

But after a season or two, every single member of the class has had a chance to shine…to display a personality quirk, reveal depth of character, or establish a stable relationship dynamic for us to remember them by.

Let’s start at the top.

Whiny Green-hair

Our young heroic protagonist is Deku, a boy born without a Quirk – this universe’s term for the unique superpower that 80% of the population is born with.

These abilities range from having a big tail, to being invisible, to cancelling gravity on things you touch, to shooting explosions with your hands.

But Deku was born without any Quirk. He still dreamed of being a great hero like his idol All-Might (the Number 1 professional hero – “saving everyone with a big smile”), and when the inciting incident gives him a Quirk, he enrolls in “hero high school” to train his abilities and join an agency one day.

Why did we give him the nickname “Whiny Green-hair” before we could remember his Japanese name?

Uah…He’s one of the three problems with the show.

Deku is earnest and selfless…but he’s also one big bundle of insecurities. Raised by a single mom and used to being the underdog, he’s a wheezy nerd who has indulged his hero fandom by analyzing fighting styles and brainstorming new ways for others to use their Quirks.

But all that means he tends to over-think things, and almost every encounter involves him mumbling to himself in a frenzy of anxiety.

Sure, it’s realistic considering his age, his upbringing, and his personality…but that doesn’t mean it’s any less annoying when he wastes time wondering whether he can succeed instead of mapping out ways to succeed.

The first season is practically drowning in his angsty internal monologue…and my dad says the voice actor they got for the English dub is grating. (I guess his voice does have a tendency to squeak and whine — couldn’t they have gotten someone who’d already hit puberty?)

All that said…

What saves Deku (and the show) is the way he changes. As Deku grows and stretches his abilities, we see how his obsession with studying others and their abilities makes him a better team leader – better able to use the talents of his fellow students to get them out of situations.

Not only does he gain more confidence, but he’s forced to leave behind the weepy, abasing personality bit by bit. He’s still not a battle-hardened chill-dude who does what needs to be done without dithering…but he is a driven hero-in-training whose determination to help others is matched by the spine to stand up to opponents.

He cries way less than he did earlier, and he’s a much faster thinker in combat than he used to be.

And this willingness to take their characters’ personality crutches and rip them away is what raises MHA above the rest.

Speaking of which…

Lord Explosion Murder

Deku’s childhood best enemy is a Class A jerk, braggart, and violent borderline-psychopath. (The second problem with the show.)

His name is Bakugo, but when the class is coming up with Hero names for themselves, one of his attempts is “Lord Explosion Murder.”

His Quirk is nitroglycerin-like sweat that lets him fire explosions from his palms, and since his Quirk manifested about age four, he’s been praised and doted on for being so strong.

This twisted into an inferiority complex/imposter syndrome that displayed itself in Bakugo being a toxic bully to everyone – but especially to Deku, who somehow thought they were friends and that it was his own responsibility to reach out to Bakugo and “fix” their dynamic.

Well, a full discussion is probably beyond the scope of this review…so let me explain why this walking bomb doesn’t derail the entire show.

Well…he does get on my nerves…

But he also gets a slow, painful, subtle, yet powerful character arc.

TV shows are often high-lighted for their ability to tell long, drawn-out stories with more subtlety and depth than a short movie could squeeze in. MHA has used this strength on Bakugo.

Throughout the show, his hair-trigger temper and verbal threats of actual bodily harm make you wonder why he isn’t in a straight-jacket. Are the teachers and other adults in the show as idiotic as Deku? Sure, Bakugo is attending the Hero course, but his self-centeredness, pride, and domineering personality paint him as more of a Villain.

Then…you see the mastery of the delicate brush.

Bakugo builds friendships with people who are not Deku…and through clashes with villains, tests for school, and other plot arcs he is forced to realize his abrasive habit of lashing out is not who he actually wants to be.

Unlike Deku, he doesn’t prattle on in internal monologue, telling us exactly what he thinks about himself and why. However, just as much can be achieved with a few terse lines of dialogue, a few facial expressions, and the way Bakugo interacts with people who are not Deku.

Time will tell where he ends up…but the mere fact that he’s not allowed to be “the bully character no one feels bad for” but forced by the story to grow and change is…well, it’s why MHA is 100 times better than Avatar YES I SAID IT.

Adults Actually Adulting

MHA doesn’t just force the child characters to grow up and get spines, self-control, perspective, etc.

It has Adult characters that actually behave Grown Up!

The teachers are the most obvious example.

They aren’t just token adults to let the kids interact with no oversight or input. Oh, no.

These teachers actually know their jobs…their jobs being – not only to push the kids past the limits of their Quirks and make them effective fighters, but also – to forge the characters of the students into mature, thoughtful, other-focused, quick-thinking, big-picture Heroes.

My favorite is Mr.…er, his Hero name is Eraser-Head. His Quirk is the ability to cancel out the Quirk of anyone he stares at – until he blinks. This makes him a perfect choice for training students who are still getting a hold of their powers.

But he’s also brutally hard-core. He himself is a beast of a fighter, but he’s also ruthless in pushing his students to do their best. Several times, they come within an inch of being expelled because, after all, if they don’t have the mind-set to learn, adapt, and push themselves…then they’re wasting their time trying to become Heroes.

All-Might is the Number 1 Hero – the self-proclaimed “Symbol of Peace” – and Deku’s childhood idol. But he’s also joined the faculty at their Hero school, so he becomes a vital character of the show.

He’s not a one-note paragon, though. He has doubts, and weaknesses. As the show progresses, we see more and more of his back-story and struggles, and get a sense that even the grown-ups have things they can’t handle.

Though he has a special mentor relationship with Deku, he has made an impact on every character in the universe – from the students, from the Heroes who worked with him, to the villains, to the street-crawling thugs. His towering personality adds complexion and depth to a million other characters and relationships because of how each person views him – and his ambition to give civilians a “Symbol of Peace” to take comfort in.

"My Hero Academia" (Seasons 1 thru 4) — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Dualshockers.com

Everyone gets fleshed out.

Ally or antagonist – policemen, teachers, parents, villains, or dudes – everyone gets the extra brushstrokes to turn them from a talking head into a person with their own agendas and desires.

What’s more, the majority of the students are mature, quick-thinking, hard-working, cool-headed, and focused on the end goal of becoming Heroes who help others.

In fact, one of the reasons Lord Explosion Murder is sufferable is that he’s actually pretty intelligent – good at summing up a situation and seeing what needs to be done from a big-picture standpoint – and then actually doing what needs to be done – even if he’s grumpy about it and pretends he’s not really doing it for the good of those around him.

Whenever a side character gets a chance at the spotlight and we see some more depth and maturity to their personality, I giggle in sheer glee.

Finally, as of Season 4, the parents and teachers are firmly on the side of the students – backing them up, shielding them, and forcing them to grow so that they’ll be strong enough for the trials ahead.

In short, being real, big-boy-pants, dithering-free Grown-Ups. I love it.

Once Upon a Time: Quirks, All Over the Place

My Hero Academia is vaguely set in our world, far-future…so the occasional reference to real geography or literature pops up.

However, now there are superpowers…in fact, a majority of the population has superpowers.

While plenty of Quirks seem basically the same (during the school’s fight tournament, two students are frustrated to find their Quirks are essentially re-skinned copies of each other), there’s enough flex within the abilities of each individual to make each character stand out.

First, the World

Human beings are twisted, selfish beings. When you randomly sprinkle superpowers onto them, you’re going to get villains.

The world seems to be pretty stable right now (from the perspective of our teen protagonists), but it becomes clear that this is the work of All-Might (Earth’s mightiest hero, etc.).

In the past, super-villains ran free in the streets – and even now, the government-sanctioned Hero Agencies fight a constant battle against street thugs and organized crime.

And that’s not even counting the villains slowly emerging from the shadows, who’d like nothing more than to see the world burn.

It’s also pretty realistic that using Quirks without a Hero license is outlawed.

While I’m personally all about self-defense and letting the man-on-the-street defend himself, there are also some examples of why it’s a good thing there are designated “do-gooders” to help those in need.

After all, with so many crazy abilities in the world, physics itself could get pretty unpredictable pretty quickly.

Speaking of Crazy Abilities…

There are 20 students in Deku’s class. There’s also a second Hero Course class, not to mention all the teachers, the rest of the school, the parents and families, the dudes on the street, the villains, organized crime –

In short, you’ve got a lot of Quirks to figure out, especially if they all have to be at least slightly unique.

At first glance, this leads to a few lame Quirks. One girl can make her hands grow to the size of her body. Deku’s mom can levitate small objects – small objects, from a short distance away. Another student can voice control small animals.

But, as the teachers use their classes and obstacles to drill into the students, it’s not what your Quirk is – it’s how you use it.

And part of the joy of MHA is seeing all the creative ways people use their Quirks.

Deku is one of the most obvious examples, since he didn’t even get his Quirk until the start of the show, so he hasn’t been experimenting with it since childhood. However, it’s also a powerful strength Quirk, and so a lot of his struggle is working to control it without destroying his own body in the process.

(One of the reasons he’s such a popular protagonist with the internet is that every single victory is an uphill battle…and even then, he often doesn’t conquer – at least on the first try.)

The out-of-the-box thinking – and the obvious fun the creators had in coming up with new ways to bend the rules of Quirks – make this element one of the best in the show.

Caveats

The show isn’t perfect. A couple story-telling choices hold it back, and some inappropriate humor might make it unsuitable for some audiences.

Non-Linear Story-telling & Repetition

The third biggest issue with MHA is the pacing, and the times when they don’t trust the audience to get the point.

I’ve pointed out above that MHA excels at building elements over several episodes, painting characters through repeated actions – not just dialogue – and then paying off great character development that we didn’t even know they were setting up.

Which makes it so frustrating when the show uses flash-backs to constantly go over material we already know.

I haven’t seen the manga, so it’s possible this is an issue with the anime specifically – possibly to fill out episodes while they waited for more plot content. But it’s frustrating.

Deku, especially, has a tendency to lapse into flash-backs of his childhood, the dramatic circumstance of him getting his Quirk, previous conversations (sometimes conversations from this very same episode), pervious interactions with different people, dramatic declarations (“I will be a hero that saves people with a smile—”)…

Not just that, but the beginning and ending of each episode is usually a recap or a teaser, respectively…one of which is material we already know, another is material we could know by just watching the next episode.

Y’all know there’s this thing called binging? We aren’t actually waiting a week between episodes…we just stream it from our favorite service over the internet, and – there it is.

Even if we did have to wait – we’re intelligent adults! We can remember things and make connections and get references to previous conversations without you having to constantly replay the same clips over and over again!

The very fact that not all of their story-telling is so ham-fistedly blunt proves that the creators have better skills than this — several of the side characters and minor villains, especially, are expertly sketched and fleshed out without the need of this mind-numbing repetition and exposition.

Perhaps the creators will eventually grow enough confidence in their craft to leave the copy-paste flash-backs behind. It would tighten and streamline the episodes immensely.

That’s not the only kind of confusing flash-back, though.

I don’t even know what to call this narrative device, but once in a while the show will skip over important information, then pause in the middle of the action to go back and show it.

This can be done well, as where Deku makes a clever plan for the group of friends to escape a situation — then, as we watch them act out the plan, we hear his voice-over directions to them, explaining how it should work. That compresses the narrative and lets us experience the action while still seeing how clever Deku was to plan it all out ahead of time.

When it’s badly used, it throws the characters into a confrontation, then jumps back to the characters discussing their plan of attack, then jumps ahead to what they’re doing…and that’s an example dealing with an actual physical confrontation.

Sometimes characters have conversations, but they’re chopped up – and we don’t get to see the more dramatic or meaningful moments of the talk until a flash-back from one of the participants later on.

This is all just frustrating – making it feel more like the authors withholding information for maximum emotional impact rather than letting us experience events smoothly with the characters.

I mentioned how nice it is that the villains get fully fleshed-out motives and personalities?

Yeah, only to a point. When we get to the point of stretching about one episode worth of conflict out across three episodes, padding the run-time with extensive flash-backs of information we either 1) know already, or 2) could pick up from a single facial expression…that’s just bad story-structuring. (YES, I’m looking at you, Gentle Criminal!)

Slowing fight scenes to a crawl so we can explore the backstories of each of the bad guys through flash-backs is also not the best way to handle it.

Yet…for all my complaints…the show still made it into my top five of all time.

If they fixed some of these issues? One Punch Man might be in danger of losing its crown…(not big danger, because Genos, but still…)

Sexual Humor

My Hero Academia is blissfully romance-free. One of Deku’s classmates has a crush on him, but she is currently channeling it into trying to be as hard-working a Hero as he is…not angst. And that’s exactly what actual real love is built for – to draw us out of ourselves and inspire us to be better, not to gratify our own desires!

The writers seem more interested in growing the characters into mature Heroes – not pairing them off…which is delightful. (They’ve also avoided falling into the trap of LGBTXXX-posturing, which is so refreshing.)

But nothing is perfect – not even MHA.

One of the students is girl-crazy (it’s like his single biggest character trait), and the humor department gets a lot of milage from his pathetic attempts to see their curves. There’s a scene where the boys and girls are bathing (separately) and he tries to climb the wall that separates them to get an eye-full. He fails…but the audience sees some naked back-sides (both genders).

Several of the female Hero costumes are…not appropriate. And one girl’s Quirk involves her being naked from time to time (though we don’t see any of the “essentials” that a bikini wouldn’t cover).

The show mostly plays it for humor – or as a realistic portrayal of female heroes using their “qualities” to boost their own PR – but it means I can’t blanketly recommend MHA to all the younger siblings out there.

Yes, girls have anatomy. Maybe we need to acknowledge that fact from time to time. But not everyone is ready for that.

Region 1 DVD Set Pretty Please!

You can come for the cool fights with different super-powers…the writers know that’s what you want, and serve up plenty of that.

But you can also come for long-form relationship development and character growth…growth focused on taking selfish, unsure, inexperienced children and turning them into strong, responsible, chill, kick-butt Adults.

I really, really hope the later seasons don’t go off the deep end…and also that they publish a reasonably priced DVD set soon.

Until then, head to your favorite anime streamer and queue it up! Yes, they have the “continuing story” threads that you’d expect from a series…but they also know how to close each separate story arc with cathartic resolution! Kimia-Hater-of-Cliffhangers approves.


Cover image credit: Newsweek.com

The brother and I watched it on Funimation. You can also find it streaming on CrunchyRoll, BestDubbedAnime, YouTube, and Hulu, plus I’m sure lots of other places. (Obviously you’d have to subscribe to whatever service you want to use. I can make no recommendations.)

Amazon does offer some DVDs (apparently so does AnimeCornerStore) but each season is split up for some reason and CHECK YOUR REGION BEFORE YOU BUY (also make sure it’s in a language you speak!).

Dear Diary….another bad night

We’re going to be ragged in the morning.

We hadn’t even settled in yet when I heard (and smelled) some kind of ogre coming down the passage. (There was another sound, too…like a grinding, buzzing whine or growl. Very unpleasant.)

Well, I moved around the giant throne thing so I could get off a shot as soon as it came into the room.

My shot hit a good shot – despite the fire being behind me – and by the time Mikael lit it up with faery fire, Corby had clawed a big, ugly scratch down its face.

Raven hurled two daggers into it, and Ezekiel raced forward to finished it off with his mace – sending off what seemed like sparks as he bashed it to the ground.

Well, Ezekiel and Raven took over the first watch, so the rest of us settled down to try and sleep.

It wasn’t too long, though, before Raven was shaking us awake.

A party with torches was just approaching the main entrance, muttering together: “See, there’s a fire there.” “Is there supposed to be a fire there?” “Maybe that’s where the priests are?”

I nocked an arrow and hid in the shelter of the throne, while Raven slid along the shadows by the wall to try and hear more of what they said.

When the group (seven armed men) came into the center of the room, a light shot out from the throne, and Ezekiel’s voice bellowed, “Who comes?”

The leader stammered something about they were looking for an “Earth Temple.”

Ezekiel asked them who sent them, and the leader said some person calling himself “Wag” told them there was loot to be found, and caravans to rob, and food and shelter from the wet, if they came and talked to the “head priest” or cleric of the Earth Temple.

Well, Ezekiel got his pompous act on and told them there would only be Death for them here (which considering the ogres and stirges and undead, sounds about right)…that Judgement had come to this place once before, and was coming again, and they’d best clear out (which kinda explains who we are to anyone with enough deductive skills).

Well, the men must have been enough dazzled by the lit shield and the booming voice that they kinda looked at each other and crept out again. (Here’s to hoping they don’t just turn bandits once they get outside…though I guess if they do they’ll get what’s coming to them.)

Ezekiel came down from the chair, and I said I couldn’t believe they fell for it – and Lydia said she didn’t think they were the smartest around.

I certainly can’t imagine voluntarily marching into a place as twisted and nauseating as the Temple – unless I was here to purge it and kill Evil, which I am. Those guys must be strangely desperate if they came down here for loot and a bandit hideout.

I’d think they meant the Drow Cleric, except that he wasn’t really “earth” related. At least it’s clear they’re some of the “mortal tools” the Lady Bad is trying to gather to herself. Poor dupes.

Well, Raven put out the fire, and Ezekiel covered all the shields, so we wouldn’t broadcast our presence quite so much. (It’s chilly down here, but not as cold as it might be. The earth protects us from the winter weather outside.)

They tell me some snarly voices passed in the corridor (probably some humanoids) but left us alone…but I didn’t hear anything more until Raven woke up Mikael and me.

He said it was almost time for our shift, but first there were footsteps at the door and the jingle of armor.

We heard voices, too, and I gather that whoever it was sent a man in to “check the door”…and he hugged the wall to avoid the “bloodsuckers,” so they were familiar with this place.

They had also left their lights behind, so all we knew was the clanking and rustling of a man making his way along the west wall.

I wasn’t confident of my ability to shoot anything in this darkness, so I held onto my sword – since it glows when I draw it, and I have more chance of knowing what’s right next to me. (Also since I’m running down on arrows. I’ve been recovering them, but they do tend to snap sometimes or get lodged in guts so that you really can’t pull them out.)

Well, the walking stopped, and next thing I knew, there was a sound of cloth and feet as someone lunged.

The nearby opponent yelped, and there was a burst of light and stark shadows – I guess as Ezekiel uncovered his shield and faced the enemies at the door.

A crossbow bolt hit the wall as a bunch of men shouted in surprise.

Raven aimed a kick at our poor scout by the secret door, while Mikael swung at him with his staff.

Seeing that was covered, I rounded the big chair to back up Ezekiel. I must have been dazzled by the light of his shield, because I dropped my sword.

I heard Yeti give a war shout behind us, and Corby dove out of the shadows to peck at the leader’s eyes (you could tell he was the leader because he had nicer gear).

Raven and Mikael must have finished off their opponent, because they came running around the throne to join us. Someone shot a crossbow bolt at Raven, but he deflected it away from his face – almost getting his hand torn off in the process, though.

Yeti charged in from behind us to help Ezekiel against the leader, so I decided they had that covered and turned to the subordinates.

They…must not have had much training. Decent equipment, but almost no experience. I almost felt bad for them as I hammered through their defenses and took them out.

Raven and Corby took down their opponents, and as the last man dropped his weapons and charged for the exit, Ezekiel leveled him to the ground.

I’ll behead orcs and ogres all day long…but I wasn’t built to slaughter other humans. I hope this ends soon.

They all had chain armor, with tabards with a brown and black triangle. The leader also had a bronze medallion with a raised triangle around his neck.

We took their money (mostly silver and electrum, with some platinum and gold), and returned to our “camp.”

Lydia asked (yawning) what they wanted with a “Fire Temple” – apparently she overheard them say something during the fight.

Sounds like there’s a whole system of temples underneath The Temple…and this is only our first night here.

They’d just better not all barge in here, is all I can say. I’m all in favor of a quiet watch, and then a quiet watch for Yeti and Lydia, and a decent morning where we’ve all had some sleep.

Ezekiel covered his shield again, but I had an arrow ready while I watched the main door. It would only take a second or two to drop the bow and draw my sword if the case required it.

It had better not, though, because I’m extra grumpy when I’m tired.


Find the previous entry here.

Find the start of the Temple adventure here.

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