Monthly Archives: August 2015

Beetle of Balinor

Based on the third episode of Titansgrave, here is my proposal for the item stats of Lemley’s favorite insect: the Beetle of Balinor.

Beetle of Balinor
Made of gold, with blue gemstones inset to the carapace, this magical beetle only responds to the person who most deserves it. One cannot tell if the beetle is alive or not, unless you know the incantation that brings it obviously to life.

Make 5 opposed Willpower tests. For this test, the Beetle receives a +5 on the first test, dropping by 1 for each subsequent test.  If the player successfully passes 4 of the 5 tests, the Beetle is attuned to the person. If the player fails, they must wait one full day before making the tests again.

You Deserve This Most
Once the beetle is attuned to you, you may designate an activation word or phrase. The Beetle learns this command instantly as the first thing said to it after attunement.

After designating the activation word or phrase, the Beetle is yours to command.

What Does It Do?
When activated, the Beetle stirs to life, fluttering its wings before taking flight. It flies around for a few minutes, dazzling to the eye and very distracting to persons within 10 feet of it.

If a player activates the Beetle to use as a distraction, each person or creature within 10 feet must make a Willpower (Focus) test, with a Test Value of 12 plus the owner’s Willpower. If they succeed, they are not distracted. If they fail, they are distracted for 1 minute out of combat, or 1 round of combat, as applicable. A distracted person takes a -5 on any Perception tests made while distracted, or cannot make any attacks (including attacks of opportunity) until the start of your next turn.

The New Jedi Order – complete post

Greetings, readers.  I know some of you may have seen this before, but here is the entirety of my first major post for quaintjeremy’s blog.  My friend has not had the chance to be as active on his site as he once was, so I am copying my original work to my own blog, with his permission.  I strongly suggest you head over to his page and see all the great work he and his contributors have done there.  For now, here’s my first post as his resident sci-fi “expert,” posted July 15, 2014.


Hello all!  For my first sci-fi post here at the Thoughts, I wanted to tackle the book series from the early 2000s called The New Jedi Order.  I was always under the impression that this book series was not well-written and generally not a good read.  However, some time ago, I decided that it would behoove me to know more about the details of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion.  This seemed to impact so much of the Star Wars galaxy that I felt under-accomplished as a Star Wars nerd for not having read the series.

Image from
Image from


…if you haven’t read any of these books or been on Wookiepedia at any point in time.

The series begins with a book by R. A. Salvatore titled Vector Prime.  This is Salvatore’s first Star Wars novel, and he does a fantastic job.  I doubt very much that this surprised anyone, as Salvatore is the rather successful author behind many of the Forgotten Realms books.  I’m sure what did shock everyone was his choice to kill one of the main cast from the original trilogy movies.  The death of Chewbacca was a hard one to take and affected the tone of the whole series, but the subsequent authors did a very nice job of picking up where Salvatore left off and expounding on the new society he created: the Yuuzhan Vong, a race from a whole other galaxy.

The Yuuzhan Vong are a completely alien entity to every facet of life in the Star Wars galaxy.  They embrace pain as a natural and very important part of life.  They intentionally inflict pain on themselves as a means of worshiping their gods.  Indeed, their creation myth tells them that the first Yuuzhan Vong were cut off of their most revered deity, Yun-Yuuzhan.  His initial sacrifice to bring his children into existence is a big part of why the Yuuzhan Vong practice ritual sacrifice of slaves and captives, as well as personal sacrifice of their person.

Another major differentiating factor is their use of biotechnology, or shaping.  The Yuuzhan Vong do not use any form of technology as we, nor indeed the denizens of the Star Wars galaxy, understand it.  But the Yuuzhan Vong take it a step further to the point that mechanical technology, no matter to what scale it is used, is blasphemous and an abomination to the gods.  This is usually the first thing they set about doing when they have conquered a planet during the invasion.

Perhaps the hardest thing to come to terms with for the Jedi is the fact that the Yuuzhan Vong exist outside the Force.  The Jedi can’t detect them, anticipate their movements, affect them with mind tricks, pick them up and toss them away, none of that.  However, the Jedi quickly become the focus of much of the Yuuzhan Vong’s efforts to splinter the factions of the galaxy by more or less posting a bounty on Jedi.

I will admit that I have not finished the series yet, but I am close to the end.  With only three and a half books to go, I believe I have found the part of the series where some start to take issue with the writing.  There is a trio of books toward the end of the series written by two authors: Sean Williams and Shane Dix.  Admittedly, I know nothing else by either of these authors.  However, they do seem to railroad the story line into a particular direction in their first book, and also have a distinctly different approach to some of the characters.

Jaina Solo is a major player, both militarily and as a Jedi, throughout the entire Yuuzhan Vong war.  She was deeply affected by the Mission to Myrkr with the other young Jedi, including her brothers Jacen and Anakin.  With the death of Anakin, and Jacen’s capture on that mission, Jaina was in a dark place for a while.  She eventually came to the conclusion that Jacen had also died in Yuuzhan Vong captivity.  As such, she closed herself off to a lot of her friends and family.  Her outlook on life became very grim as well, and she fully expected to die before the end of the war.  It therefore made absolutely no sense to me that suddenly, in Force Heretic: Remnant, she is quite jovial and optimistic about things.

I’m not sure which of the authors penned this part of the book, but it is making this trilogy within the series quite difficult to read at times.  However, my overall opinion on the series still stands.  It has been my experience that The New Jedi Order is a vastly underrated series in the Star Wars expanded universe.  I intend to have future posts that return to this series, so please tell me your thoughts on the book series in the comments.  May the Force be with you.

Titansgrave Creature

Hey everyone! I wanted to share the wondrous thing that is Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana with you.  It’s the RPG show on Geek & Sundry based on the Fantasy AGE system and run by Wil Wheaton.  I picked up both the AGE basic rulebook and the Titansgrave books while at Gen Con this year.  The show is great and the book is a great companion for running your own game based on the show.  However, there aren’t a lot of preconstructed things to expand the show’s storyline.  To that end, I decided to come up with a critter that I feel would be a common pest of the area of Valkana known as the Rustwastes. I call it a Junkmite. Let me know what you guys think of it in the comments below.

Weird Al Wednesday – August 2015

Hello readers! My apologies for not getting this up at the usual time.  I’ve been busy of late, with the usual work and fatherhood duties, but I was also at Gen Con all last weekend.  Of course, the reason you’re here is this month’s Weird Al Wednesday.  This month’s song King of Suede.

I like this song for several reasons.  Firstly, I like that this is a parody of a fairly serious song about misery and pain.  This speaks to Al’s ability to parody pretty much anything.  Secondly, it’s essentially a long commercial for a clothing store called ‘King of Suede’. They have anything you could want, but the specialize, some might say too much, in suede (including underwear).  Thirdly, who doesn’t like Elvis? More over, who doesn’t love Elvis references?  Well, this song has that, as you might expect.  While listing off a plethora of suede things, Al mentions that you shouldn’t “step on my blue suede shoes.”  Lastly, this song does a great job of showing the musical power of his band and their ability to play a wide range of styles.  This is arguably one of the best songs on the “Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D! album, and so, readers, enjoy this wonderful song.  Until next time, stay weird!