Dungeon a Day Keeps the Players at Bay

You’re a DM. You’re party has just gone left when they should have gone right, and now they are heading into the underground catacombs (which you haven’t worked on yet) instead of the super-awesome ruins you spent months prepping. Before rocks fall and they all die, why not let Monte Cook and Dungeon a Day lend a hand?

The name pretty much says it all. Every weekday Monte adds a new room description to the site, expanding the dungeon complex called Dragon’s Delve. Currently there are two levels listed on the site, but you can be assured that many more are to come. And no, Monte is not going to take a sick day and give you a 10’x10′ empty room. Every room is guaranteed to have something to interest or challenge your players.

Of course, all of this doesn’t come for free (okay, actually the first six rooms on level one do, plus some other stuff, but after that…). To get full access to the information you have to subscribe. But the cost is reasonable; really, a steal when you think of how much content you gain access to, even if you subscribe for just a month. And its Monte Freakin’ Cook, dude! You know? D&D 3rd edition? Ptolus? Yeah, that guy. So you know this is going to be quality stuff, every single day. Add in maps by award winning Ed Bourelle and you can’t go wrong!

So if you are that poor DM from the start of the post, or if you are just looking for the occasional extra room to fill out your own dungeon, then Dungeon a Day is just the site for you, my friend.

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Getting Started on Geek Fitness

Okay, time for a bit of harsh reality. I play a dexterous and nimble swashbuckler in my weekly D&D game, but physique-wise I probably fall a little closer to the ogres he fights. All you have to do is look at the photo in the title (I’m the guy in the middle) to see that I have more in common with Jabba than Han.

And I’m not alone. Look around any gaming or sci-fi convention and you will find many guys (and not a few women) with my particularly robust body type. Not surprising really. With the exception of LARPing, pretty much every other geeky pursuit out there is a sedentary one. We sit to watch movies and anime, we sit to play video games, we sit around a table to play games. Sure, your barbarian might work up a sweat bashing orcs, but your only exercise comes from rolling dice. And my friend, unless your dice are depleted uranium, that is no exercise at all.

Several years ago I realized that I was not in a good way. I was tired all the time, I didn’t think much of my appearance and a lot of the things that I previously enjoyed doing (besides gaming) I could no longer do because of my poor physical condition. Eventually I made it past the whining about it phase and started making some changes to correct bad habits. Because that was really at the heart of my being out of shape; bad habits. It wasn’t like I got up one morning years ago and said, “I never want to see my toes again, how can I make that happen?” or “Gosh, how can I get a sumo wrestler’s physique?” No, over time I gradually got out of the habits that had kept me healthy and adopted ones that at the time were easier but unhealthy.

I could go into a big long discussion about why I made those choices, and what might lead you to have made similar ones. And I will another time. But today’s entry is about the better choices I made and how you can make similar ones.

Here are five changes you can make right now, if you want to make the switch to a healthier geek lifestyle. And really, why wouldn’t you? If nothing else, healthier geeks get to be geeks longer.

1) Next gaming session, swap out the bags of nacho and potato chips for baby carrots and snap peas. Not only are they way healthier for you (especially if you avoid dipping them in dressing, but go low-fat if naked vegetables offend you) but you’ll keep the crunch factor, which is part of the visceral reason we eat crunchy foods during gaming anyway.

2) Can’t give up the fizzy drinks and don’t want to take a gamble on diet pops with Aspartame? Grab a bottle of soda water instead, and mix it in a glass with equal parts unsweetened fruit juice (pick whatever flavour you like). You’ll get you fizz, and while you’ll still be drinking sugar water, at least it’s a better class of sugar water (natural fructose being better than processed sucrose). You’ll even snag some vitamins, something a glass of cola won’t give you.

3) Take fifteen minutes in the evening and take your books for a walk. Grab a backpack (the ubiquitous school backpack will do), fill it with gaming books or other hardcovers, strap it on and take a walk around the block. If a walk around the block doesn’t feel like enough work, make it two blocks. Walk vigorously, and if it takes less than fifteen to go around, do it again.

4)Leave off ordering fast food. Once you factor in the time it takes you to figure out what you want to order and the delivery or pick-up time, it really isn’t that fast anyway. There are plenty of delicious twenty-minute recipes that will give you healthy fast food (just type “20 minute recipes” into your browser and see what you can find), without all the hassle and expense of ordering in. And if you do decide to order in, get it from somewhere close by and go pick it up. Usually picking up is cheaper and you’ll get a bit of exercise thrown in.

5) Book an appointment with your doctor to get a full physical done, and ask him about fitness evaluation. You can’t figure out where you are going until you know where you are, and your doctor is the best person to tell you that. He may also have suggestions about what to work on first and what exercises or activities to avoid. Make sure to let your doctor know that you are planning to get in better shape; most doctors won’t just give fitness and nutrition advice unless it is being sought.

Star Trek Reboot (Minor Spoiler Alert)

When I heard that Star Trek was getting a new movie, I was meh. The ST:TNG movies were getting a bit tired, and although I generally liked them my attitude after watching them was something akin to, “This is nice, but what else you got?”.

Then I heard it was being turned over to JJ Abrams for a reboot of the franchise and I was intrigued. On the plus side, Transformers. On the other side, Lost (that’s right, I said it). I had hopes that he could make a likeable movie, and I actually saw his lack of familiarity with the the franchise as a good thing. If the Trek universe was going to be revitalized it needed to be a true restart, something that I didn’t think a Star Trek fanboy, however well intentioned, could pull off.

Then I heard the new movie was going to have time travel as part of its plot and I screamed a scream of inarticulate rage. The “temporal cold war” cop-out bull**** was what, in my opinion, killed Enterprise so young. (I’ll talk about Enterprise another time) This movie was going to suck on toast!

Then Leonard Nimoy was going to be in it, and I was, “Well, it will suck on toast but I’ll get to see LN as Spock one more time.” But it was going to be on dvd, and then only if someone bought it for me.

As time wore on, getting closer to the opening, I began to read more articles about the film and interviews with Mr. Abrams. After digesting these articles, in particular the interview with Mr. Abrams in Geek Monthly, I started to feel like this might not suck. I still had low expectations, because, well, time travel. But I figured it wouldn’t kill me to watch the thing in the theatre.

Of course, it almost did. The thing about having my expectations so low was that it left me defenseless against the sheer awesomeness of this Star Trek. But I survived the awesome overload and I’m here to tell you: I am sorry for every bad thing I said about this reboot and JJ Abrams (especially the things about the dogs, that was over the line).

I will go into more details later but here are five things that struck me about the new Star Trek (in no particular order):

1) William Shatner was not in it: No, I’m not hating on William Shatner. But he had no place in this movie. None. And to try to fit him in just for fan service would have been a fan dis-service. There was a ton of other fan service going on in this film, all of it fitting in perfectly with the story. Having him show up at all would have been…jarring. As much as it may irk Mr. Shatner, it was the right call.

2) They rebooted the franchise without negating everything that had come before: This was huge for me. I was not looking forward to having to deal with the myriad discussions about how the new movie messes up Trek continuity, or how the movie doesn’t address this or that bit of character or story trope. JJ Abrams managed to tell a story that said, “Yes, everything that happened before still happened. But it happened in another time and place. Now we are in this time and this place; lets see what happens.” This is just what the franchise needed to keep moving forward. Nothing is taken away from the current fans, and the path is paved for new fans to join in on the fun.

3) It was a damn good story, not just a good Star Trek story: You could have told the essential story of this film without Star Trek even being a part of it, and it would have been a movie worth watching. It was smart, funny, action-packed, had a good look and pace…everything a geek wants in a sci-fi film. The added bonus was that it was also a Star Trek film.

4) The Red Shirt Death: When the red-shirt died, I almost wet myself I was laughing so hard! Having gotten used to the TOS red-shirts, who almost seemed to sense that their’s was a tenuous existance, to have the very first red-shirt of the new Trek be so gung-ho, so excited to be part of the team…hilarious!

5) The Casting: Almost flawless. The main crew was perfect, the Kirk/Spock/McCoy triangle was bang on, and most of the supporting cast was excellent. My only jaring moment was Winona Ryder as Spock’s mother. Not because she did a bad job, because she didn’t. But it was quite obviously WR in age make-up, and it pulled me out of the moment a little bit.

I give the new reborn Star Trek movie 4.5 Romulan Ales out of 5.

But, and I’m serious about this: no time travel in the next movie! Let it go! I will slap you, JJ, just see if I don’t!

A New Beginning

Hello my fellow geeks! For those of you that know me from my previous Dorklord Brent blog, welcome to the new site; no point in explaining what is going to happen here because you already know. For those just joining us at Renaissance Geek, a little explanation…

I’m a huge dork.

I mean it, I’m a geek. A geek’s geek. I am, as I describe myself, the last geek generalist in an ever increasing sea of geek specialists. I am the wise old general practitioner of geekery, ignoring none of it and loving all of it. And there is a lot to love, my fellow geeks, a lot to love!

And that is what this website is about, loving the geeky things in life. Because I love it all, and at one point or another I will touch on it all. I’ll talk about things I’ve just discovered and things I’ve known about for years. I’ll even pop in some older posts, possibly revamped, from the Dorklord Brent days (not too often, though; this new blog is about moving forward after all).

I’ll also talk about the things I think are affecting geek culture for good or bad. For instance, “huge dork” can be taken literally in my case; I am over-weight and have been for a while. But I’m working on fixing that, so I’ll talk about that every once in a while, too.

Basically, anything geeky that catches my eye will wind up here eventually. I hope you’ll pop back and check things out every once in a while.

And now…on with the show!