Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Links & Book Chatter

If you're a local friend, you'll be happy to note the addition of Dr. Ryan Clouser's LJ--Bummin' Around. He not too long ago married and is living in New Hampshire. I wish him well and hope he doesn't take too long to visit his family (and the rest of us!) back in Hamburg. Ryan participated in my D&D group for many years before college broke up that first fantastic group. Off and on he was able to play again in the first Protectorate campaign as the cunning, smart-ass elven rogue Elron Blackbane. Sadly, Ryan outgrew fantasy gaming before his passion for medicine took him away from the group (although I bet he'd sit in on a session if given the opportunity).

The other link is to Chuck Cuthbert's LJ "Captain's Mast" and I don't know why I haven't gotten it on here before this (chalk it up to laziness). Not only did 2000 bring a new edition to D&D but it brought the group Chuck and his wife Heather. The duo showed up at the drug store one sunny Saturday and asked if I was the Bret who played D&D. Seems my dad and Chuck knew each other and gaming came up. Thank goodness it did because I don't know if we would even have a group today without the Cuthberts. This was abour the time that Everquest ate up two of my other players. The Cuthberts filled those vacant spots admirably and 3rd edition also saw the return of Brad (Chilled Monkey Brains), who had pretty much taken 2nd edition off. ;) Gaming has been the best it's ever been over the last 7 years and the recent addition of Mike Ferguson makes the experiences even better.

Freelancing has been lagging as I'm pulling more hours at the store this week. No days off but it was voluntary as I need the money. :) With any luck, I'll be able to dive back into the regular routine come Sunday. There's still a Crown story to knock around and I must revise my submitted draft of Adventurer Essentials: Waterskin. No biggie but then there's always the Tricky Owlbear products to prep. Not to mention regular gaming!

In the midst of everything, I'm still trying to get some reading in. I finished Margaret Weis' Amber & Ashes a couple weeks ago, detailing the character Mina from Dragonlance's War of Souls trilogy. I've enjoyed MW's work (especially the Star of the Guardians trilogy) and Dragonlance so this seemed a no brainer. Unfortunately, the book was less than spectacular. Mina is not a compelling character without the Dragon Queen behind her and the plot is, well, laughable (the god of death is using love and eternal life to gather more followers--okay...) and the mandatory kender Nightshade is just no Tasslehoff. And have I mentioned that Mina knocked a death knight's head from his shoulders with a...wait for it...crowbar? I should have stopped right there but I really do hate not finishing books.

After that was a quick page turner from Robert E. Howard. I bought a Conan collection last year and finally got around to the first story (something about a phoenix...the book isn't in front of me). It was good, centering on Conan slaying those involved in a coup attempt and slaying a shadowy ape conjured to slay the coup's leader (and Conan pretty much just wanting to slay things in general). Following this tale comes Keith Baker's third installment of his Ebberon trilogy--Gates of Night. I've been quite impressed with Baker's stuff but the plot just for this book just isn't as compelling as the characters themselves. I'm about two-thirds of the way through and, don't get me wrong, I'm still really enjoying it but less so than if the characters were driving the story and not the other way around.

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