Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition Trespasser, New DLC

 Yes, yes yes yes YES YES YES!

It's everything I wanted and so much more! The Inquisitor caught in between countries warring for her power, the Qunari considering it a threat. The mark finally turning on its master, and Solas possibly the only one who can save you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Own Phylactery

Because the templars can always use a little leg up or helping hand, I decided to make my own phylactery. (One I will be keeping far away from Jowan)

This isn't much of a step by step instruction as it's basically take thing, add it to other thing. Done!

I got the bottle and feather charm from Michaels. I've been wanting to make one for awhile, but bottle pendants stopped being a thing and were much harder to find.
The blood is from some of the extra I had laying around the house - the bottle of blood for Halloween props specifically. I was going to use the combo of laundry detergent and food dye but that seems to have gone missing.

Oh, if I had a nickle for every time blood vanishes in this house.

I used some leftover watertight crafting glue from making my old Doctor Who snow globe, but I might need to reseal (it's getting on in regenerations).

That's pretty much it. Now it's both easier and harder for the templars to find me. Suckers!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dragon Age Inquisition: The Descent

On August 11th, Bioware released the latest DLC for Dragon Age Inquisition to all platforms (I'm not bitter or anything, not at all. You're dead, Microsoft). The Descent brings back everyone's favorite Dragon Age buddies the darkspawn, as the Inquisitor is sent into the deep roads to figure out what's been causing a bunch of earthquakes.

I'm going to split this review up into two parts. For the first it'll be spoiler free, just a few shiny pictures and my overall impression without giving any of the plot away aside from characters run around doing things!

The second half will be spoiler central for everyone who's finished the DLC to try and figure out what the hell just happened. I've played through twice and I'm still just as confused as before.

On to The Descent.

First things first, this place is gorgeous:

Seriously gorgeous:

Unbelievably gorgeous:

I personally loved that this was more like Dragon Age of old. No open world that everyone just had to have after Skyrim. Which meant a lot less having to run a few miles while killing a couple dozen spiders just so you can find that last stupid shard up a tree. There are still quests to collect shit and Bioware puzzles because of course there are, but they aren't that bad. Maker knows I've seen worse.

We get two new characters to meet and travel with you as well.

The first is Valta, a shaper from Orzammar who sounds really familiar (hint hint Liara):

The other is the hardened warrior Renn. He leads the Legion of the Dead when not fending off the idiocy of a giant cat named Stimpy.

I love these two. While Valta could easily fall into the "nerdy one who gets into constant trouble and you have to save her" trope, and Renn the "grumpy, never smiles old warrior" neither do. And best of all they're obvious friends, picking on each other that way only people who spent years together can. It was so refreshing to see the rare male and female relationship that's just friends.

But, because they gave us these two characters to get to know, we got no new party banter. I can't help but want to compare this DLC to Legacy which may not be fair since Legacy was clearly a "we're so sorry for rushing 2" apology, but...

Would it really have killed them to give us more than the cursory comment for the entire 3-4 hours delve into the deep from the companions? Varric was the one I found who talked the most, and even then he had maybe five lines. Why bring back such an expansive cast if that's all you're going to give them? I feel like in general Inquisition really dropped the party banter ball, which kills me. Origins was crazy expansive with multiple branching points depending upon not just choices but where you were in the story. 2 was a bit less (surprise surprise), but Legacy and Mark of the Assassin helped to draw out more to learn about the characters.

Maybe it's because it became so much harder to trigger in Inquisition, but I never really found favorite the lines the same way I did from the others. I must have been the only person in the world who liked the fact Hawke would actually interact with party banter at times. I always thought it funny that out of all the playable characters, Hawke was probably the most like Commander Shepard. They both had a distinct character that fueled interactions beyond "oh, that's interesting." The others being left as mostly blank slates made them more two dimensional.

Another possible problem with the Descent, despite what you may have hoped, this DLC adds nothing to the darkspawn lore. We're still as much in the dark as we always were. Everyone was hoping and praying to fill in a few questions but nope. It's about dwarven stuff, but I don't know if I'd call it interesting dwarven stuff. It sort of answers a question I don't think anyone was asking, but I'll save that for the spoiler section of this review. Point being, you do get to kill darkspawn but you don't learn anything new about them.

But, we've got shrieks back! And ogres (which I think Bull wants to have sex with. I don't know with that Qunari). They gave Renn a pretty good line the first time shrieks appeared about everyone having a favorite darkspawn, which sounded a bit like the devs wondering what the hell was up with people's fascination with shrieks. I think it comes down to the simple fact we know humans = hurlocks, dwarves = genlocks, and qunari = ogres, so what about the elves? Bring back our darkspawn elves!

They're looking a lot more elf-like too, moving like the ancient elves from the arbor wilds. No more paralyzing screams, so their name seems rather superfluous, but eh. We've got shrieks!

Gameplay-wise, this is a grinding game. I came in at the level cap of 27 (if anyone figures out why the level cap is 27 please tell me. 25 makes sense. Or 30. But why 27?). Freaking everything had about a gabillion hitpoints. They test your mettle when you first start the DLC with a boss level Ogre which can take a good 3-4 minutes to kill. It's that kind of game.

Oddly enough, wave combat is back. Sort of. There are a few levels where you have to take out a shit ton of never ending darkspawn or other things before you can advance.

My overall opinion, if you're a Dragon Age nut you should probably play it. There are some lore additions/changes that could have repercussions. After all, we did meet Corypheus in DLC even if, like Varric, we all knew that was going to bite us in the ass.

But it doesn't come close to touching my favorite Dragon Age DLC - Legacy. There isn't any connection to the Inquisitor and even the danger feels rather minimal for Thedas to the point I'm questioning the idea of sending the only person who can close rifts into the deep roads. Oh, well, if she gets the blight she could always become a grey warden and...uh oh.

Given the lore feel and the level of puzzles, I'd put this one on par with Golems of Amgarrak. Not bad, not great. The Descent's Decent. Ba-dum-tish.


All done?

I'm giving lots of space for the coming spoilers.

Seriously. This is only for people who finished the DLC. I'm not going to recap the storyline or what happened. If you want to know find another review or play it.

I warned you.

There's still time to turn back if you want.


Here we go.

What the hell was all of that? So we've got Titans that created/are creating the stone/world and if you go down deep enough you climb inside one. And their blood is lyrium. Which means if you mine it, it's titan blood. But it's cool, the titan doesn't mind that at all. It was only pissed because of the breach. Or one of its guardians was, which means there are probably others around.

At some point in the past, the titan's guardians also got all huffy and destroyed another lyrium mine. I turned to Solas during that reveal and asked if he had anything to contribute to the discussion. Of course he stayed silent because they have no idea what to do with that character after spending his dime. Come on guys, we all know who he is. Slip in some winks and nods in dialogue. It'll be funny!

I wasn't lying when I said I liked Valta, I really did...right up until she became some chosen one of the titan who was called by the stone. That felt like a tacked on "we need an ending, and we killed off our Legion of the Dead guy so..." If she said she wanted to stay and study it, cool. She seemed the type. But the whole look I can maybe cast a spell, or not, who knows but I'm above you all in my awesomeness now was pretty damn cheesy. The only way you could get more Mary Sueish would be:

So Valta can maybe become a guardian now? because she has more stone sense, which might mean dwarves are children of the Titans despite the fact that Titans look like giant floating cities inside?

I know Dragon Age is renowned for raising more questions than it answers, but this is ridiculous. Shit, this was the rare time my Inquisitor said exactly what I was thinking.
 Did anyone really care about if the stone sense was real? Or where it came from? Honestly?

I want to know what the hell lyrium is beyond titan blood. We already knew it was alive and could be corrupted. And at some point the ancient dwarves turned that corrupted lyrium into an idol - raising a whole lot of other questions. I want to know why, if we're gonna keep acting like the whole Magisters invading the black city caused darkspawn is true, the darkspawn started in the deep roads. I want to know what happened to the elves that fled the fall of Arlathan and stayed with the dwarves in the deep. There's so much to build off there and instead we got giant hearts that turn into monsters and dwarves that drink its blood turning into monsters themselves.

Speaking of the guardian, there's been a few calls lately for video games to step away from the violence. To give not just an occasional opportunity to talk yourself out of a fight, but to eliminate it all together. I do love the times my character can wiggle out of killing someone, but normally I'm cool with the big boss battle and using of my daggers. Shooting lightning at fools is part of the games.

But Maker did I think the Inquisitor was being a complete moron here. Not only are you risking your life and the lives of your companions with possible corruption, (They seem to have really backed off on the virulence of the blight. I swear to god, no one gets it anymore save random character in the background) after you found out that titans are real and shape the world, your first thought is "Let's kill it!"

Come again?

Not everything needs to be stabbed to death. What if that wasn't just some guardian that went a little earthquakey, and instead you somehow killed a real Titan and caused a complete collapse of the deep roads or of Thedas itself? You had no idea what you were dealing with beyond some moldy old pages and what a person you met a few hours earlier was telling you.

And the dwarves that were no longer dwarves...Why did we fight those guys? I know, I know, they attacked us first. But what happened to the Bioware of old that gave us talking darkspawn and a geth companion? In the last DLC we had friendly Avar that everyone fell in love with, but this one it was just dwarves with lyrium in their skin and because of it they must be evil. That's it. Can't speak to them, or ask them, or bargain with them, they're evil. No point. Stabbings all around.

Despite giving us this world shattering (literally) lore, I have a sinking suspicion the titans are going to be another cul-de-sac like the harvester. There was another abandoned thaig discovery which should have shattered some perceptions but I guess the Warden forgot to tell anyone. You break into it to find dwarves were messing around with blood magic of a sort (not to mention weird color dimension stuff). Then you unleash a horde of those things on the world and all we see of them again is Orsino seriously overreacting and doing something stupid.

What I really want to know about is the Architect. Yes, he might be dead, but who's to say he's alone? And we know he created talking darkspawn. They can easily still be around doing what? He knew where all the old gods were buried. Do his minions? Are they trying to do the same thing he did to free the old gods from the calling or is it something new? Solas sure as shit implied that killing all the old gods won't stop the blight but probably make it worse (in his Fen'harel side speaking way of course).

I wouldn't be harping on all the questions if there was more to this DLC beyond "Look, shiny new scary thing for you to kill and be a bad ass about" disguised as lore. What I loved about Legacy was the connection to Hawke. It wasn't just about stopping Corypheus (and failing at it), it was learning about your father, reconnecting with your sibling, and, through party banter, sharing concerns and fears of the darkspawn.

There hasn't been any connection to the Inquisitor with either of these DLCs. The first was all about the Avar. Even finding the Inquisitor of old felt like something they slapped on so we could have an ending involving fighting a massive god dragon. It was really to explore these Viking Inuits and their connection to the fade.

And The Descent was "Look, darkspawn!" except not really because we're never gonna explain what darkspawn are. Suckers!

I'm hoping and praying that we'll get a third DLC that will finally take place after you kill old Cory so the Inquisitor can learn about Solas. All the pieces are there. It's easy to see an army marching against the Inquisition. You grew so big so fast, people are going to get twitchy about an army squatting between Ferelden and Orlais. Add on the fact you seem to be able to open and close the fade at will and assassins are coming. Break the Inquisition up, send the Inquisitor hunting for the fabled person that started it all and finally let her learn the truth. Give some real connection beyond "Yeah it sucks when friends die. Anyway, on to the next chamber to stab more monsters. Dum de dum."

But really, what the hell was that?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Big Lots Halloween

After a bust at JoAnnes, I was shocked to find the beginnings of Halloween at Big Lots.

There are the usual chunk of signs that are super cutsey and a few where someone found an old anatomy book and slapped it in front of some text.

 Big Lots is usually good for a few weird lights. These aren't the strongest but man are they loud. You could hear the edison flickering from across the store.

If you wanted to hang the most disinterested skull ever on your door, here you go:

This eyeball doorbell's kinda cool though. A little cheesy but not bad:

But by far my favorite was this magic orb. It chatters like crazy (of course) but you can shut that damn thing off. The only downside is that it's sound activated so you have to clap to get it to light up.

You can hear a line from the ball that's then repeated by the raven. It'll also keep you from wanting one of those birds.

And, finally, if you're looking for a skeleton cat with a broken jaw flapping in the wind look no further:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dwarves in Space Tour!

It's tour day! Dwarves in Space is skipping all around across the blog-o-sphere!

Here are all the stops and below you can sign up to win a $10 Amazon giftcard:

August 10th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

August 11th: Book Excerpt @ Author C.A. Milson’s Blog

August 13th: Character Interview @ The Book Daily

August 14th: Book Excerpt @ The Readers Hollow

August 16th: Promo Post @ Books are Forever

August 17th: Book Review @ Books, Books and More Books

August 18th: Book Excerpt @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

August 20th: Book Review @ Laura’s Interests

August 21st: Promo Post @ Bookish Madness

August 22nd: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

August 24th: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Fantastic Three and Some Girl

Everyone's buzzing about the latest Fantastic Four movie that was supposed to eradicate the stink of Stretch Armstrong Dancing. You know what I'm talking about.

Instead, we've got Miles Teller (Reed Richards) proclaiming the critics don't understand how amazingly his shit fails to stink and the director blaming the studio for everything wrong with this movie because he can't use Alan Smithee anymore. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating somewhere in the Negative Zone, you guys sure were right about critics failing to understand the intricacies of your all boys club.

Now, perhaps you were under the impression that there were three guys and one woman in the Fantastic Four. There was dickbag rubber man, mopey rock guy, tinder match who would one day become Captain America dude, and someone else. Some lady who could turn invisible. I think her name was Violet.

Well, you're partially right.

Put on your spoiler goggles.

Because girls can't be trusted around sciencey stuff and action lest their wombs will fall out, Sue Storm doesn't go on the trip into whatever the hell Trank is calling the Negative Zone now. No, instead our little lady gets her special powers from trying to save those silly boys that actually went on the trip when the computer somehow zaps her because Trank couldn't fully write her out of the script. Though lord knows he tried.

Ladies, when will you learn that men don't need your help? If you try to help them then you just have to get punished with the ability to turn even more invisible. Now go back to baking in the kitchen instead of trying to be all superheroey.

Don't believe me?

Watch the clip Fox released to prime us all for this epic broness of testosterone.

There is nary a woman in sight.

The Fantastic Four movie in 2015 is more retro bullshit womenz can't handle all this scary stuff than the one from 2005!

Sure, it was all about Jessica Alba being a toy between Doom and Richards (seriously girl, just go bang Namor for fun and not look back), but at least she actually went on the fucking mission in the first place! 2015 and those girls are back to sitting at home waiting for the men to come back with a mammoth so they can cook up dinner for them.

I summon from the depths of my black, unable to understand your genius, heart a massive Fucketh You.

Fucketh You Josh Trank.

Fucketh You Fox Studios.

Fucketh You MRA, Sad Puppies, Gamer Gators and everyone else trying to drag women back to the fucking dark ages. I hope you all catch bubonic plague and bleed from the groin.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Building a Little Sister

While wandering around an antique store I saw the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

Great way to start a story, eh? If it's not train robbing ghosts haunting a rusting rake, it's the vengeful spirit of Abraham Lincoln ordering you from a tea cup to kill Dracula. Pretty sure Stephen King just wrote 1000 pages for both those stories. But not even he will touch the terrors swirling off the Teddy Ruxbin. It reads your own story to you, predicting your untimely and gruesome death. 

This was just a doll, a three foot tall doll that can stand on its own. There's nothing really creepy about that...


Let's go back to the days before Fontaine Futuristics flourished, crashed, then pulled a Lazarus because he liked convoluted almost sure to fail plans.

The doll seems sweet enough. Hair's been cut by Freddy Kruger but nothing too out of the ordinary.
I also got an old cattle injector syringe to act as the ADAM collector because I wasn't sinking that much money into this project. Getting to creepy and kind of recognizable is close enough for me. (Because I live in Nebraska, old farming equipment is 99% of our antiques. Excavating abandoned farm houses before a tornado drops them on witch's heads is our state pastime.)

The first thing to go are those eyes, dearie.
Have you ever removed the eyes from a doll's head? Of course not, you're a well adjusted person. It's not easy. That head is sopping wet because I tried dunking it in a hot bath to make the face pliable. But that still wasn't enough, so, with an exacto knife, I cut around the eye slicing into the retina area.

After chopping up the back of the head and making a skull flap, I pushed and shoved until the eyeball finally popped out. I'm certain this is how all Little Sisters are made.

I got the eyeball lights from Amazon. Getting a pair of LEDs is relatively cheap and easy, but without a Radio Shack I figured I'd just buy one already hooked up instead of getting all the components and doing it myself.

After positioning the LEDs in the back of her skull, I realized I needed something more to cover the gaping holes in her eye sockets. 

Then I got a grinchy idea. A wonderful, awful idea. This year, Rapture will be ours! Wax paper! 

This isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, so anticipate burns and cursing. That's how you know you're really prop making.

Cutting out small circles for the wax paper, I worked them to fit in front of her eyes and then hot glued the outside. But to act as extra protection, I also covered over the wax paper with more hot glue. I thought about re-adding translucent balls into her eyes but I wasn't certain if my deodorant balls would fit or where they were. There are a lot of missing eyes in my house.

The next step, after screwing the head back on, was clothing. Again, I wasn't going to pull out a fancy sewing machine and make something perfect. This was just supposed to be close enough. Goodwill it is!

That dress used to be bright white with little blue stripes running down it. Like the infant version of a tennis uniform from the 50s. At first I tried burying it in the dirt, but frankly, I've always found that version of aging to only work if you have a few decades to kill.

Since I'm not a vampire, I dug it up and used the old coffee staining method. This is a good one if you don't have time and don't mind a universal color change.

Into a small ziploc bag went the dress and enough instant coffee to power twenty radioactive writers facing a deadline. I only added enough water to soak in but not completely submerge the dress.

After sitting in the coffee mixture for a day, I dropped it out on the line and it dried in twenty minutes thanks to summer.

But there was something missing. What's a Little Sister without ADAM staining her clothes and fingers?

Blood is an art for haunters. Some pride themselves on their blood recipes and horde them like Aunt Petunias and potato salads. I'm not one of them. For clothing stains, I use my acrylic paint. I have some enamel crimson that's seen me through a lot of blood. But for a base I use a dab or two of black.

But how to get the paint onto the dress? Brushes leave too obvious of a mark. Then I had a crazy idea and picked up an old toothbrush. Working from the bottom up, I streaked paint upwards and it blended perfectly. I didn't want too much, just a streak here or there and a few globs around the hems and on her stomach where little hands would wipe away excess ADAM.
The final step was gluing on the syringe, which I also painted with my red enamel. Now to send her out into the world to gather ADAM.

Get him Mister Bubbles!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Pic of New Doctor Who Season

The BBC has released our first look at the new season of Doctor Who. In an exclusive, I've obtained the direction from behind the camera:

Clara, ignore the explosion behind you. It's not important. Your own life means nothing compared to the charismatic power that is the man dragging you out of the death he just caused. Stare at the Doctor as if he's not just your messiah, guardian angel, and titan rolled into one; he's the sexiest man you've ever seen. Your love sickness is so tragic, if he let go of your hand you'd fall to your knees and instantly die out of heartbreak. But you know he'd never do that, because he is truly the greatest man to ever walk the galaxy. And you, Clara, are hopelessly in love with Steven Moffat. I mean the Doctor. You're in love with the doctor. There is no man that can compete with your love for....the Doctor.

Doctor, you're a douchebag with a god complex who thinks he can be a complete ass to everyone he meets and still have them love him. Good, great job!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dwarves in Space 4 - Homeache

*trumpet blare*

Thirty four days and 101K words later I finished the fourth full length novel for the Dwarves in Space series (6th overall).

To celebrate here's a quick excerpt including the sort of newest addiction to the ship, a female orc named Zail.


Variel didn’t look up from the crate as she waved her PALM over the scan port. Numbers in a holographic blue flashed before her. “Of course Ferra knows, I’m not stupid.”

“I ain’t afraid of her,” Zail said as she flexed her bicep and kissed it.

Variel rolled her eyes at the orc, “Sure, just keep telling yourself that.” Zail laughed and flexed her other arm before bringing both together in a shattering slap. Neither Taliesin nor Variel flinched from the display though for a brief moment her eyes met his and she smirked.

But it dropped in a blink and she returned to her paperwork. After a heartbeat, she sighed, “Shit, Zail. This damn thing says there’s supposed to be seven crates, not six.”

“Nu uh, that’s impossible. That dock was clear. I checked like…” Zail paused and held up her fingers, touching each tip, “three times.”

“An orc’s assurance that she looked really really hard doesn’t change the official paperwork.”

“Let me guess, you want me to head all the way back there and find this missing case.”

Variel gestured to a data stream poring off the crate, “Or you could stay here and deal with this while I pick up a blue box. Actually,” she pushed Zail back and moved to step towards the exit.

“Nah, nah, nah,” the orc interrupted, “I’ll do it. It’s what you pay me for. Oh, wait!” Zail clomped up the stairs now groaning from her borderline anger and weight.

“And don’t forget to look for an Exo-Gen sticker!” Variel called out to the retreating orc.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Michaels Halloween

It's the first weekend in August and we all know what that means! I would be going to Yankee Candle's halloween preview if they didn't move it to the end of the freaking month! AAAHHHH!!!!

Luckily, Michaels is here to satiate my incurable thirst!

Their Lemax stand it looking more and more anemic with each passing year.

The eatery was kinda cute:

And it's hard to screw up a creepy old barn:

But my favorite was the pair of skeletons having a little grill:

So much so I brought one home:

There's an aisle of the same old stuff from last year: bottles covered in puns and glitter, skulls covered in glitter, severed arms (surprisingly not covered in glitter). But this also seems to be the year of skeleton. YES!

We are not drinkers and mostly use our wine rack to store lego figurines, but god damn do I want this thing:

Even this giant skull has a more macabre feel than normal. And look, no glitter!

There's a nice understatement to the raven atop some books under glass. It's not something I can use, but I can see a lot of other people wanting one. It looks classy with a gothic Poe style:

Okay, what really made the snow globe is that it's full of tiny black bats. How cute is that?

There are also some beakers filled with candles. The candles stink like lip smackers melted in a glass, but if you need a lab setting and don't want to place a Fisher order, here ya go:

Now we come to the absolute highlight of the store. FROG SKELETON!



They're not even $3 and are pretty sturdy for that cheap a price. Nothing as fancy as my new dog, but god damn do I love my frog skeleton. I love it so much I got two, and may get some more.

In fact, I can't stop screaming frog skeleton at the top of my lungs. FROG SKELETON!

So that's a sampling of what I found cool at Michaels. It's a bit less of the classic stuff so far. More than likely more will appear somewhere post labor day, but it's not bad. Go on and check out the bones section.