Her Jentle Hi-ness launches today!

Launching TODAY on Kickstarter! Her Jentle Hi-ness is the next game from the award-winning studio Sky Bear Games. Can you survive the tyranny of Queen Miriam? Join the campaign today and try the demo: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/her-jentle-hi-ness-a-linguistically-twisted-visual-novel

Podcast Episode 28: Reviewing Magic the Gathering: Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

Bleh, what a bad title… And that should be a pretty good indicator of how our review goes! Besides the new MtG set, we also take a trip back to the past of terrible D&D card games with Spellfire, Blood Wars and Warlords. Check it out here: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/45853989

The two cards I view from Spellfire in the podcast are these:

Spellfire Ravenloft Strahd Von Zarovich 100/100 | eBay

Dragons of Tirenia: Thinking outside the 5ft by 5ft box

Something that often comes up in talking about Dragons of Tirenia and James’s aims for it is the fact that D&D might not even be the ideal ruleset to use for it. While that is still a question we are trying to figure out, here is a blog post from James summing up his attitude towards the problem and how he deals with it. Here’s the post: https://tirenia.blogspot.com/2021/07/thinking-outside-5ft-by-5ft-box-what-do.html

Oh and by the way, my blog post of the session he mentions at the end is this one: https://skybeargames.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/from-outback-to-outer-planes-dirwin-the-druid-in-planescape-episode-7-rock-lobster/

Image: ‘The Decameron.’ John William Waterhouse, 1916.

The Great DRAGONLANCE Re-Read – The Dragonlance Comics, Issues 1-8, by Dan Mishkin and Ron Randall

First Impressions: In the late 80s, Dungeons & Dragons was looking into as many different franchises and licensing deals as possible. Apparently they even had D&D cross-stitch kits! One of the more successful tie-ins were the comic book lines, published by DC Comics. This was an extensive deal with comic book lines for Forgotten Realms, Spelljammer and, of course, Dragonlance. There was an unfinished graphic novel adaptation of the Chronicles trilogy, of which I have the first four books, and a comic book line that lasted for thirty-four issues, running from December 1988 to September 1991. This is quite exciting for me, because I’ve never read these before! However, a few years ago IDW released several collected editions of them, and I’ve managed to source the few that they were missing, so I’m able to read them at last.

There’s a lot more covers this time, so rather than talk about each cover individually, we’re going to give our collective opinions on them, and maybe single out a few noteworthy ones.

Rather than having one continuous storyline, this is an anthology collection. Each story lasts a different number of issues and features different characters. Looking at future issues, it looks like some of the main characters will recur in the future. The first collection featured two stories, each lasting four issues. The first has a different name for each issue; the second is called Raistlin’s Pawn. 

Untitled First Story: This story is set shortly before Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Sturm Brightblade is travelling through Solamnia to reunite with his companions in Solace, when he meets Riva Silvercrown being attacked by hobgoblins and their bare butts. (Seriously – one is introduced moon first! Did NOT need that!) He joins in and takes her to a monastery before returning to his own story. Riva has a holy relic, and the forces of evil are hunting her. She teams up with Sturm’s uncle Vandar Brightblade, the befuddled wizard Fizban, and a boy called Tip who doesn’t contribute to the plot at all. The monastery is attacked by Lord Soth, but our heroes escape with the relic and a Dragonlance that happened to be in the gardening shed. They return to Castle Silvercrown, where Riva argues with her father about how she wanted to be a knight but can’t because she’s a girl. Riva’s dissolute brother turns out to be a draconian in disguise and kills Fizban, so our heroes stab him. That night, Riva and Vandar have a sexy dream that turns into a very unsexy dream – Lord Soth and Takhisis are trying to get them to reveal who ‘the one’ is. Riva stabs a god in her dreams and then when they wake up, Fizban’s back – and he’s ‘The One!’ Surprise twist! (Unless you’ve read any other Dragonlance, in which case you already knew exactly who he is.) Dragon Highlord Kitiara leads an army to attack Castle Silvercrown. Riva uses the Dragonlance to kill a red dragon, but then Kitiara beats her in a duel. After a heart-to-heart with Fizban, Vandar uses the holy relic to grow bark armour with very unfortunate nipple spikes and beats Kitiara, so her dragon kills Vandar with a lightning bolt, destroying the artifact in the process. The bad guys leave, taking the Dragonlance with them. They don’t seem too fussed about ‘The One’ any more. Fizban pulls the Dragonlance out from up his sleeve (!) and then leaves with it to go join the main storyline.

Raistlin’s Pawn: Kalthanan is a dark elf (in Dragonlance, a dark elf is an elf who’s been exiled for being evil or at least insufficiently holier than thou). He’s taming a griffon when he sees good dragons flying for Palanthas: the first of several signs that this story is concurrent with Dragons of Spring Dawning. He decides to follow them, but gets forced to land by Raistlin, who implants part of his own soul inside him! This is meant to be a surprise, but it’s really not – Raistlin is stashing away his own treacherous intentions outside himself, so no one will know he’s planning to betray Team Evil. Kalthanan enters town and saves Lord Amothus, Flint, Tasslehoff from Gnatch the gnome’s out-of-control water balloon hurling contraption. He has dinner with them and meets Laurana, who recognises him: Kalthanan’s dark elf father murdered his family and committed suicide one day while Kalthanan was out hunting, giving him a bad reputation ever since – like an elven David Bain without the jumpers. Kalthanan suddenly freaks out as Raistlin’s voice orders him to leave the city and come to Kalaman! He fights his way out, accompanied by Gnatch. On the road to Kalaman, he encounters river pirates and fights them until he’s rescued by Dragonarmy forces. Kalthanan pretends to be on their side by throwing Gnatch into a river, where he’s rescued by Myrella, one of the river pirates. (The river pirates were actually on Team Good the whole time, fighting against the occupying dragonarmies.) Kalthanan goes to Kalaman, but when he starts acting strange again, he has to fight his way out of a tavern. He meets up with the others and they make their way to Neraka, the capitol of the evil dragons. Raistlin has made his way there too, and he’s entrusted with defending the dark temple. No one can tell he’s plotting treachery, since he’s put that part of his mind into Kalthanan. Kalthanan, Myrella and Gnatch break into Neraka far too easily, and meet Raistlin, who steals his soul back. Raistlin then betrays the dragonarmies and lets Caramon and Berem save the world (in a scene from Dragons of Spring Dawning.) The group escape and bump into Tanis and Laurana, who are hanging around outside the town, before Kalthanan decides to chase after Raistlin, flying off on a green dragon, and get some answers. They fight, briefly, and Raistlin forces Kalthanan to realise the truth. Kalthanan was murdered by his father years ago who then assumed his identity, and wiped his own memory so that he could escape the stigma of being a dark elf. Kalthanan has been his father, Thanakan the dark elf, all along.

The Good: These are pretty cute comics. I really like the art, there’s a lot of really splashy, dramatic panels with iconic pictures of Lord Soth, Takhisis, dragons, the destruction of Neraka and more. The colours are really vibrant and pop. There’s a few hilariously bad bits of colouring – in Issue 1, Sturm has flesh coloured armour, and in Issue 6, Kalthanan and Gnatch are briefly green – but by and large, the comic looks fantastic. The stories themselves are a fun sort of ‘Dragonlance greatest hits’, remixing just about everything iconic about the original Chronicles trilogy. The writing is pretty wordy, but it’s pretty par for the course for comics of the time, with everyone narrating the actions that they’re taking. In one place, I really liked the writing – Fizban has an excellent speech in Issue 4 about the nature of religion. I was also completely surprised by the twist ending of Raistlin’s Pawn. It did a really good job of distracting the reader with a really obvious mystery – what’s the mysterious link between Raistlin and Kalthanan? –  to cover up the actual mystery – what actually happened to Kalthanan’s father?

The Bad: As much as I enjoyed these, they’re objectively not that great. The constant cameos from the Heroes of the Lance border on fan service, and many of them are acting *just* out of character. Special mention to Sturm here, who comes off as such a Nice Guy. He constantly tries to carry Riva around, even when she tells him to stop, and tries to walk her home. He has a tantrum at a monk, and then leaves. Behind him are THREE of his major quests – his long-lost uncle, a holy relic of the true gods, and a Dragonlance, and he doesn’t see any of them! Way to go, Sturm! But this only highlights how easily Riva gets handed all these major artifacts that the Heroes of the Lance have to go on long agonising quests to obtain. Our new characters are under-developed as well. Riva and Kalthanan can be summed up in a single sentence, Gnatch’s personality is just ‘gnome’, and Myrella and Tip don’t even have that! Vandar, at least, is a bit more interesting. Also, what’s with everyone and their dog knowing about the true gods before Goldmoon finds the Disks of Mishakal? Meanwhile, the plot of Raistlin’s Pawn really is just an excuse to drag Kalthanan from place to place to be just off-screen for everything that happens in Dragons of Spring Dawning. There’s a lot of spinning wheels in the process. One of the first rules of tie-in fiction is that you shouldn’t remind me that I could be reading a different, more interesting story instead of this one! 

The first story is also weirdly sexual. Riva is constantly in boob/butt poses. So are other characters – one hobgoblin is introduced full moon first, Riva’s nightmare begins with a steamy love scene with Vandar, Vandar’s nightmare involves two hairy men stripped down to their underwear, himself and a goblin engaged in BDSM play (well, the goblin is repeatedly torturing him to death, which is much less kinky when you put it like that), and finally Vandar’s barkskin armour has thorny nipples! It’s worse than George Clooney’s batsuit!

The Neutral: The untitled first story is set shortly before Dragons of Autumn Twilight, probably also in 351 A.C. Raistlin’s Pawn is set in 352 A.C., and its characters are constantly interacting with the plot from Dragons of Spring Dawning.

Overall: I liked the comics, and it was fascinating to read them at last, but they’re objectively not that good. This is just filler. Perhaps it will pick up when (if) they get to tell their own story that’s not so much in the shadow of the novels? I’m going to award them one and a half Disks of Mishakal out of five. 

Next time, I’m going to continue with Dragonlance Classics, Volume 2, which includes the story arcs The Arena of Istar and High Sorcery. See you then! 

Her Jentle Hi-ness Art Drop #3

Can you survive the tyranny of Queen Miriam?

Her Jentle Hi-ness is live on KickStarter from July 28. In this linguistically-twisted visual novel, you play as Eorina (formerly Georgina) and have to serve a jealous queen who has banned the letter G after being cheated on and abandoned by her King, George. Are you fast enough to keep up with the Queen’s linguistic gymnastics? Check out the demo and back the game now to get exclusive rewards like your name in the credits, beta access, and your face on a character in the game!

​You can find the KickStarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/her-jentle-hi-ness-a-linguistically-twisted-visual-novel

You can play the demo here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/her-jentle-hi-ness

Art source: Sean Miller of Faylmonkey Design and Steen, J. (c. 1663-64) The Dissolute Household [[Oil on canvas]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Her Jentle Hi-ness Art Drop #2

A heartbroken Queen is a pitiable figure… until she starts to mistreat her subjects!

Her Jentle Hi-ness is live on KickStarter from July 28. In this linguistically-twisted visual novel, you play as Eorina (formerly Georgina) and have to serve a jealous queen who has banned the letter G after being cheated on and abandoned by her King, George. Are you fast enough to keep up with the Queen’s linguistic gymnastics? Check out the demo and back the game now to get exclusive rewards like your name in the credits, beta access, and your face on a character in the game!

​You can find the KickStarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/her-jentle-hi-ness-a-linguistically-twisted-visual-novel

You can play the demo here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/her-jentle-hi-ness

Art source: Sean Miller of Faylmonkey Design and Cuyp, A. (c. 1635-91) Landscape [[Yellow and brown watercolor and gouache over black chalk]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Her Jentle Hi-ness Art Drop #1

A kingdom where the letter G is forbidden?! How does that work? 

Her Jentle Hi-ness is live on KickStarter from July 28. In this linguistically-twisted visual novel, you play as Eorina (formerly Georgina) and have to serve a jealous queen who has banned the letter G after being cheated on and abandoned by her King, George. Are you fast enough to keep up with the Queen’s linguistic gymnastics? Check out the demo and back the game now to get exclusive rewards like your name in the credits, beta access, and your face on a character in the game!

​You can find the KickStarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skybeargames/her-jentle-hi-ness-a-linguistically-twisted-visual-novel

You can play the demo here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/her-jentle-hi-ness

Art source: Sean Miller of Faylmonkey Design and Cuyp, A. (c. 1635-91) Landscape [[Yellow and brown watercolor and gouache over black chalk]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York