Sunday, February 17, 2019

Stranger Things + Dungeons & Dragons

I suppose it had to happen, this spring Hasbro (the parent company to Wizards of the Coast) is releasing a new version of the D&D starter set. This version will be tied into the Netflix original series Stranger Things. The new set includes revised rules for the game, although you will still need either a Players Handbook or the downloadable basic rules to play and some dice. More interestingly, the adventure included is "The Hunt for Thessalhydra", the adventure Mike Wheeler is running at the beginning of the 2nd season and the Player Characters being used by the group in the show. Oddly, the miniatures included with the set are of neither a Thessalhydra or Demogorgon from the first season, but rather the petal faced demon. I get it, TV show tie in, blah blah, I just found it odd is all.

I think this is a great idea for a couple of reasons, first because it will attract new players. Hopefully some fans of the show will decide to check it out and some percentage of those fans will continue to the game long after. Secondly, this shows Hasbro is interested in building a long term strategy for D&D and bring D&D into the mainstream by occasionally printing these tie in products. I would not mind it at all if starter sets became an evergreen product as a gateway to the more complex game.

Who knows, I may even use this to kick off my next campaign, due to start either later this year or early next year. It really depends on the level of the module, I suspect it will be a 1st level module, but judging by the TV show, it may be a mid level adventure for 5th plus level characters, it is hard to say.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: The Power of Now

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual EnlightenmentThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The good: There is a lot to like in this book. It puts a modern spin on some old ideas. I like the idea of not letting the regret of past actions or worry for future actions take you out of what is important right now. I really do think we spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things we really have no control over and it is a good thing to concentrate of the things we do have control over, which are all in the here and now.

I would dearly love to be able to shut down my thinking, at least occasionally and just be happy with where I am and what I am doing. I have never been able to meditate, more because i never understood why I should, but this book gives a good clear answer as to why meditation is good and can help you, although he does not go into meditation directly, I can see where it would be helpful. It also explained very nicely why some processes I use seem to work so well for me. Like when I have a problem I cannot solve, setting it aside and doing something else allows the answer to come from somewhere deeper inside me. I knew this worked for me, but I did not understand why it works for me.

I also really liked the idea of listening to yourself talk in your head and separating yourself from it so you can judge if what it is saying the correct thing, or if its just going off into directions that may not be the best option. I have always known there were two voices in my mind, the loud one and the one that is much softer and is often more like feeling than conscience thought. Reading this book, I realized the loud voice is basically a hammer I use to pound on problems with, while the other is more nuanced, that I often ignore.

The bad: I kind of felt like he was talking down to me throughout the book. I felt he expected me to "Just Get It" and when I did not, I felt myself resisting what he was trying to teach me. I also felt he was trying to sell me on something, which also caused some resistance in my acceptance of his message.

The ugly: The author is really not a very good writer, besides the above mentioned condescension, he also tended to repeat himself and towards the end of the book I found the repetitive nature of his writing style to wear thin. I also did not care for the question and answer format of the book, it made it feel like I should have already been familiar with his work and that I was missing something important, like I had not done my homework so to speak.

Overall, it is a pretty good book, it was well worth the read. However, if this is your first book of spirituality, I would suggest going for something a little simpler, perhaps a good book on meditation. This will help you understand some of the concepts he kind of expects you to have already grasped. He does have a book he wrote later Practicing the Power of Now, which I have not read, but is supposed to give you a basic framework and help you integrate his ideas into everyday life. In retrospect, I should have read that book first.

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Review: Station Eleven

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books I knew I was going to love in the first chapter. Most post apocalyptic stories these day tend to be dark and grim, even when the hero wins all they have done is survive another day. This book, in spite of the "End of the World" story line, is pretty up beat, it is not just about people trying to not die, it is about people who are genuinely trying to make the world a better place. Not through defeating some evil villain or by trying to bring back the old world in some grand gesture style quest. But rather these people are doing small things, like going from town to town playing music and performing theater, or building a museum in an airport terminal. Don't get me wrong, there is some action adventure going on and there is plenty of grittiness, it is just not the overall theme of the book. I am 100% sure I will eventually read this book again.

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