Monday, June 30, 2014

Adventures of Krinsblag: Where Did These Rails Come From?

Faced with the guards sacrificing four helpless slaves to summon Maelrawn the Tentacular, we decided it was probably in our best interest to try and save the world this one time. Although as usual we seemed to mess it up. We managed to kill a few of the guards, but there simply were too many of them and they were too spread out for us to take them out quickly,and they began to kill their sacrifices much to Meda's dismay. Plus it seemed that every time we killed one of the guards, their blood only added to the power of whatever accursed ritual they were trying to enact. On top of that, the worker fish people's refusal to do anything to save themselves, despite Meda's constant calls to action, meant that we could only save about half of the workers that had been herded into the temple. All during this of course the blood continued to flow in a magical fashion down the steps of the chamber towards the central pit. When the last of the guards had been knocked out the workers thanked us and said cryptically that “Azalanti blood would show us the way” before buggering off to do whatever.

As we had no realistic way to stop the blood, we decided to hide outside the chamber and see what happened. When blood ran from all four corners into the pit it glowed bright red and the previously terraced slope of the pit became a steep slope. And then it continued nothing. For quite some time as a matter of fact. While everyone else was rather confused by this intense bout of non-activity I found some sheets of paper on the ground. Reading through them I concluded we were supposed to go down the pit and fight whatever was down there. So like an idiot I charged straight into the pit and dove into the center, plummeting to the confusion and irritation of my comrades. This proved to be a rather good idea, though, as I landed safely in a pool of water at the bottom of the pit. Well, mostly safely. There were a few eels at the bottom of the pit but with a few lucky strikes I was able to kill them and keep from becoming a moray's lunch. My comrades soon joined me and we discovered a passage to one side that lead out of the pool. Eventually we came to an intersection. To our left was a passage blocked entirely by a cave-in of rocks. I investigated the rocks, seeing if there was any way around, only to get attacked by an ooze that was hiding within them. Fortunately we were able to kill the ooze quickly and proceeded down the passage to the right. We soon came upon another intersection and heard cries of help coming from the passage to our right. We soon came into a chamber in which contained several wounded fish people. Those that were still conscious asked for our help, and Whitmore was able to provide some first aid to prevent their unconscious friends from bleeding out. We demanded to know what exactly was down here in the caves and the fish people gave vague answers about walls and ceilings and monsters in water. These statements turned out to be correct later on, but their ambiguity made it extremely possible for them to be accurate. We decided to press onward, ignoring their desperate cries for additional assistance. Freeloading bastards.

As we proceeded along the tunnel it seemed to follow a rather linear path. There was the occasional chamber off to one side, but they were all dead ends and we were left with no choice but to continue deeper into the cavern. We did encounter a cave-in that almost killed Soma and Meda, but fortunately Whitmore and I were able to pull them from the rubble in time. We also encountered two more of those gods-damned cloakers again, which was a little tricky, but fortunately not as bad as last time. And we managed to find a really sweet spear which will give a little righteous smack-down on any aberrations we encounter in the future. Soma also managed to use an earth elemental to retrieve a gem that will summon a fire demon, and an urn containing some potentially useful salves, bypassing whatever nastiness was waiting for us in the other chambers. Faced with an out and out showdown with Maelrawn and Soma running low on spells, we decided to rest for the “night” and climbed up Soma's rope into our extradimensional campsite. With our new items we may be able to tackle whatever the hell's underneath this island, but it's definitely going to be a challenge.  

- Krinsblag

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Out of Here, by Patty Jansen

This week I've decided to review Out of Here, a collection of short stories by Australian author Patty Jansen. I originally picked this up in e-book form for free during one of Amazon's many promotions. As of writing this post it's at $3.99 and while definitely a shorter book it's definitely one of the better self-published books I've read through my Kindle.

Out of Here is another anthology book, collecting numerous short stories written by Jansen, most of which have been published previously in other science-fiction and fantasy literary magazines or anthologies. Some of the stories are just a page or two, while others are much longer. All of them show quite a bit of talent and skill on the part of the author and I'm very glad to have read it. A lot of these stories have a sort of twist or sudden surprise at the end. Granted, after the third or fourth story you come to begin expecting it and you find yourself wondering what the twist is. But in a way, that makes up much of the appeal of these stories. Much like one of my favorite shows, The Twilight Zone, you being guessing at what the twist is going to be at the end of the story, wondering how it's all going to play out, and that becomes part of the fun of reading along. I could very easily see most of Jansen's stories being converted into plots for episodes of The Twilight Zone, although the varying length means some might have to be fleshed out while others are shortened, but she's writing short stories rather than a collection of thirty-minute scripts.

What really stood out in my mind was some of the downright creepy stories in this collection. Jansen manages to go into some areas we often don't talk about and some of the stories actually made me a little uncomfortable. But in a way, that's a very good strength in Jansen's writing because it makes the stories more memorable rather than forgettable.

Again, sorry that I haven't really got a lot to say about this book. It was even shorter than Minority Report and so other than the widest of generalities I can't talk too much about this book. If, however, you're as big a fan of The Twilight Zone as me, then this book has plenty of short stories like that, with some distinctly Australian flavoring added in as well.

- Kalpar

Monday, June 23, 2014

Adventure of Krinsblag: All Hail the Manta Lord!

Much to nobody's surprise, the monster climbing out of the quicksilver pool congealed into a creature akin to a huge black pudding, ready to give us a giant hug and corrode us to death with its acids. Even more frustratingly Meda and my weapons only cut the large monster into several smaller monsters which also wanted to give us death hugs. Fortunately if we cut them down enough we could kill them without spawning yet more oozes. Plus Whitmore's grenades quickly roasted the bastards into oblivion. Meda got a little rouged up by an overly friendly ooze, but we emerged from this battle largely unscathed, a welcome change of pace considering our more recent struggles.

Left with two buildings to investigate we decided to check out the large pyramid located at the center of the island which turned out to not be the observatory, despite what the archives told us. The top of the pyramid contained a stagnant bath house as well as a large chamber that contained several descending levels connected by rubble-strewn stairways. We decided to investigate and see how far down this chamber went, discovering a black chasm at the bottom of the room. I tossed a handy nearby rock down and it took quite some time before we heard a distant splash, suggesting it probably would be better to not mess with this chasm until later. If at all.

Left with only the fish people working on the beach and the floating observatory tower we decided to check out the tower first and see if we could find some lenses for the orrery. Meda was able to nimbly jump onto the tower as it passed its closest point to the island, and with a little help from Soma Whitmore and I were able to just fly up. An investigation of the first floor showed absolutely nothing useful so we went up to the next floor and found three intact lenses, as well as numerous shards of glass and a valuable statue floating in the air. I attempted to snatch one of the lenses by throwing a bag over it and pulling, and while I was able to remove the lens from whatever magical field was supporting it I got a nasty shock. Lacking any better options we decided to remove the lenses and statue the brute force method and I got quite a few more shocks before removing all the objects we wanted from the tower. Whitmore and I flew out and landed safely fairly far to the south of the island, while Meda rode the tower back to its original place and jumped off. By the time we had met up again the sun had nearly set so Soma set up our extradimensional campsite and we climbed into its safety.

In the morning Soma examined the orrery and managed to decipher the instructions. As the rest of us stood safely outside the building, Soma placed the replacement lenses in their appropriate slots and successfully repaired the orrery. Other than a strange glyph glowing, the orrery proceeded to do absolutely nothing interesting and shed absolutely no light on the situation at hand. So time well spent.

We soon heard a riot coming from the direction of the beach and when we arrived on the cliff we saw the fish people had divided into two groups. On the one side stood guard fish people with weapons, while on the other stood the worker fish people with a few guard hostages. The workers seemed confused about the situation, realizing that the guard fish people had been relatives of theirs while the guard fish people wanted the workers to help them release the Master, who we assumed was Maelrawn the Tentacular. It seemed the two groups had reached a stand-off, which meant it was the natural point for us to begin interfering. Well, Meda didn't think it was the natural point for us to start interfering, especially when I suggested we claim I was the Manta Lord and make a super impressive entrance to get them on our side. Everyone else seemed to like the idea and Whitmore agreed to try and help negotiate with the fish people while Soma provided some of the special effects. What happened next was kind of epic, although it didn't get quite the results we wanted.

As I stepped off the cliff Soma cast levitate on me and slowly lowered my down towards the beach. When I was about twenty feet above the beach I utilized my crown to send a blast of sunlight over the heads of the crowds, causing everyone to hit the deck immediately. In a mighty voice I declared that I was the Manta Lord, returned to them at last to resolve their strife and usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. Something vague and impressive enough to work on the locals. That certainly got the fish people's attention and Whitmore shouted down some more helpful mumbo-jumbo to try and get the crowd on my side. The workers seemed rather impressed with my performance but the guards remained understandably skeptical of my veracity. (After all, the cloak comes right off) I explained I was searching for Gerlach the Alchemist, to which they responded by asking me if I was a friend of the Master. Dodging the question I asked if Gerlach was a friend of the Master and when they confirmed this I said any friend of Gerlach was a friend of me. They then challenged me to prove I was a friend of the Master so I dove into the canal beneath me and emerged in the full glory of the Manta Lord, using the cloak to good effect. This seemed to get the guards to at least accept us for now and agreed to take us to where Gerlach was, herding us and the worker fish people towards the pyramid.

When we arrived at the pyramid the guards herded us into the large descending chamber and placed four worker fish flanked by guards at the corners of the room in front of the stairways. All of us started getting a really bad feeling about the situation because it looked like they were going to summon Maelrawn and that seemed a thing we didn't really want to do. When the guards asked us again if we were friends of the Master we decided to say no. It seems our Manta Lord plan was all for naught, but hopefully we can keep these bastards from unleashing an eldritch horror on the world.

- Krinsblag the Manta Lord

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bolos Book 5: Old Guard

This week I've decided to return to my ever-favorite Bolo series with the "fifth" (although technically eighth or so) installment, Old Guard. I quite enjoyed this novel and liked seeing the new Mark XXXIV Bolos, an expansion of the universe beyond the original canonical XXXIII Marks. The book helps to expand the universe of the Bolos, as other books have done before, while remaining in many respects still grounded by the existing canon. The fateful Melconian War is on the background, and in previous novels we've already seen the unfortunate effects of that conflict, but the determination of the Bolos and their human commanders remains hopeful.

This novel keeps the by now familiar formula of a series of short stories about Bolos in various battles, but takes in a new direction by instead focusing on one specific campaign. Instead of a series of stories scattered across both time and location, three of the four stories in this novel talk about the Kezdai invasion of the planet Delas on the far edges of Concordiat territory. We get to see the initial incursion by the Kezdai onto Delas, which is pushed back by a handful of Bolos, a renewed Kezdai invasion that is slowed by a renewed presence of Bolos, and then the eventual destruction of Kezdai forces on Delas. It was interesting to see an entire campaign that requires numerous Bolos over a period of years, even if only in a handful of snapshots. It makes me wonder what a full-length Bolo book will be like and I hope that I'll be able to run into them as I continue my way through the series. The final story also talks about the Kezdai invasion, although on a separate planet called Izra'il. Although it's a different story it at least keeps with the theme of the Kezdai invasion, helping to tie it in with the others.

Honestly, plot-wise there's just not a lot of variation here. It's the same formula you've seen a dozen times already and will see a dozen times in the future. Some sort of threat shows up. People call upon Bolos to defeat threat. Bolos then defeat threat in the raddest way possible. It's not groundbreaking, pushes no envelopes, and won't win any awards, but personally I'm okay with that. As long as you go into every Bolo book expecting nothing more than some fun pulp sci-fi adventures with giant tanks, you won't be disappointed. However, I am hopeful about the development of a Bolo story into a full-length novel, which I'm aware may be some of the later books.

- Kalpar

Monday, June 16, 2014

Adventures of Krinsblag: Who Wants a Hug?

If I learned anything from our latest sets of misadventures it's that I should probably mention something if I've got less than half of my hit points left. See, for whatever reason I foolishly assumed that we'd be pretty okay. Maybe have to deal with some more wisps or fish people but we'd just beat the ever-loving crap out of them and then go on our way. Business as usual. However I had unfortunately forgotten that sometimes the gods themselves look down upon us and say, "Those guys haven't been kicked around enough lately. We should mess with them again." Because gods above today was one of those days. 

We climbed out of Soma's campsite, feeling rather refreshed. Soma first took a trip down to the beach, apparently whatever the island's affecting him with means he needs to submerge himself at least once a day. He managed to sneak a look at the fish people and noticed they didn't seem terribly interested in us, which may be of use later. Everyone else is getting pretty badly affected by the island too. Meda's eyes are bulging out of her head like crazy, Whitmore's limbs are freakishly proportioned, and I've started seeing in the dark. beneficial at least, but it may get worse later on. Soma and Whitmore decided to poke around the orrery again, to see if they could find anything else of interest. They did manage to find some instructions in Azalanti but Soma couldn't quite make heads or tales of it, but for now the orrery will remain broken until we can spare the time to look at it. 

As we were investigating the ruins we heard a blood-curdling screech and saw one of those freaky fish people running away from three cloakers. For those of you who've never run into one of these damn things, count yourself lucky. A cloaker is basically a flying cloak, but with teeth. And really wants to eat you. We saw one of the cloakers envelope the poor luckless fish person while the next two decided to come for us. We started the usual slice-and-dice when one of the cloakers managed to give me a nice, big death hug that proved really difficult to escape. In addition to being gnawed on by the cloaker's teeth, it turns out that if anyone hits a cloaker, whoever's inside of it also gets hit. Now, to be fair, I appreciate Meda's fine archery skills when it's shooting nasty beasties out of the air. When I get hit by arrows that somehow shatter my already poorly abused breastplate? A little harder to appreciate. Fortunately the combination of arrows, armor shrapnel, and some other sundry things my friends chucked at it eventually killed the cloaker. Granted, I was in a pretty bad way as well, but I managed to hold my organs in long enough for Whitmore to bring me back from death's door. Unfortunately Meda also had to deal with an angry cloaker trying to eat her, but we eventually got it cut to pieces as well. After getting righteously yelled at for not mentioning my lack of hit points sooner, we patched our party back up and continued our investigation of the ruins. 

The next building we found appeared to be some sort of aquarium that turned out to hold a giant octopus which soon lashed its tentacles out in the surrounding room. Having just struggled with several things trying to hug us to death, we decided getting into a fist-fight with another such thing was a terrible idea. Taking a look at the building gave me an idea and I decided to gather whatever scrap wood I could find at the only entrance to the aquarium. Once we had a decent pile put together we lit the wood and started a cheerful fire, which eventually boiled that bastard octopus alive. Man, did he taste good. We poked around and found a few corpses of less lucky people who decided to tangle with the now deceased octopus and discovered a few useful scrolls and elixirs, but perhaps more importantly an awesome cloak of the manta ray. According to Whitmore it's a cloak that allows its wearer to become basically living death underwater. I was rather excited at the idea and I'm looking forward to utilizing it when we finally have to go down to the beach. 

After we left the aquarium we ran into another one of the fish people who appeared rather wounded. Soma suspected a trap, but I decided to see if my new cloak would be helpful and declared myself the Manta Lord, liege of all the fish people, to try and get information from him. It turned out though, once again, that Soma was correct for the fish person soon transformed into a giant lobster monster. Who, of course, wanted to give me a hug. I will say, though, this lobster thing? Doesn't even rate in the top five worst things that have decided to hug me. Those cloakers were pretty awful, along with the blood puddings, and one or two other things. The lobster was pretty tame by comparison. Not that I enjoyed being grabbed by claws, stung by tentacles, and bitten by mandibles, mind you. But at least when Meda shot it the arrows didn't also hurt me, so I count it as a plus. 

With the lobster gone we proceeded to the next building which turned out to be a graveyard of the intellectual elite on this island back in the day. With some twenty-odd neatly arranged corpses around silvery pools of light. Soma was able to decipher some instructions and find out that the silvery pools contained the knowledge of the intellectual leaders of this island, however to listen to the lecture life force had to be sacrificed. Which is...kind of creepy to be perfectly honest. It seemed Gerlach has been sacrificing people to learn something, although what we're not entirely sure. There appeared to be some leftover life force, though, so we sat down for a lecture on how the orrery's supposed to work. I didn't understand heads or tails of it, but apparently Whitmore and Soma have a better understanding of how it's supposed to work now. Of course, it wouldn't be a day in our adventures if something we encountered didn't try to murder us. As the lecture finished a hand started crawling its way out of the silver pool. I'm starting to get really sick of this godsforsaken island. 

- Krinsblag

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Minority Report, by Philip K. Dick

This particular book is an anthology of Dick's short stories put out by Orion Books and contains not only the titular story "Minority Report", but also the stories "Imposter", "Second Variety", "War Game", "What the Dead Men Say", "Oh, to Be a Blobel!", "Electric Ant", "Faith of Our Fathers", and "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale". Both "Minority Report" and "Imposter" have influenced films of the same name (albeit the film version is spelled Impostor), and "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale" was the inspiration for the cult favorite film Total Recall. As you can imagine there's a ton of really good sci-fi in this anthology, including what seems to be a favorite topic of Dick's: people who are secretly robots and don't realize it. And of course questioning if what we sense and perceive is real or not.

I think what I really liked about this collection was that a lot of the short stories had a much tighter focus and made a far more complete story. Opposed to certain longer works, (Granted, I've only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), but even his longer short stories seem to start meandering into various streams of thought that Dick had, losing a certain amount of focus in the story. In his shorter stories, by contrast, Dick is forced to keep things much tighter and much more focused because of the brevity which means the story flows much better. I can easily see how someone would attempt to build an entire two-hour or so movie out of a story like "Imposter" or "Minority Report". There's a ton of meat there that offers opportunities for development and expansion, but because Dick's forced to stay focused it remains a short little thing. Possibly the story that I liked the most in this collection was "War Game" which reminded me of an episode of The Twilight Zone with its little surprising twist at the end.

If you haven't tried reading Dick yet, then I'd definitely recommend starting off with perhaps an anthology of short stories before jumping into one of his novels. His writing style is very unique, to say the least, and some of the plots in the longer stories can be more complicated to read, even for me. And I took on Les Miserables! (Seriously, that book has a whole chapter on Paris's sewer system!) Anyway, sorry this is a short review but this was a pretty good anthology that I picked up at the used book store so if you can find it on the shelf on your next trip, I'd recommend snatching it up if you can.

- Kalpar

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Raising Steam, by Terry Pratchett

First, before I begin, I'd just like to say something for those of you who aren't aware....

*cough* Anyway, moving on....

This week I've finally read Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel, Raising Steam, in which the Disc finally moves out of the world of high fantasy into the world of steampuk with the arrival of the Disc's first steam-powered railroad. Needless to say, I was super excited about this particular novel and was happy to see my old friend Moist as a focal character once again, although the story isn't really about Moist von Lipwig as it is about the railway itself and everything it brings.

The subject material is, especially for me, fun. We get to see Dick Simnel become the Disc's first engineer, relying upon his trusty slide rule and his precise measurements, so that he can develop the first steam locomotive. He then comes to Ankh-Morpork and Harry King, one of the most wealthy men in the city, and with the cunning help of Moist they begin construction of probably the greatest project the Disc has ever seen. Of course, I wouldn't be doing my job as a reviewer if I didn't find something to constructively criticize about this novel, although personally I do worry that I'm turning into one of those fans that isn't entirely happy with new works because they're different.

Aside from the railway story, Raising Steam also deals with an internal religious schism among the dwarfs. The grags and the other deep-downers, which we had seen in Thud!, are causing trouble once again and have begun attacking people they consider to be not "truly dwarfish", as well as burning down the clacks system that has become so important for communication across the Disc. The Low King of the Dwarfs is particularly frustrated because it threatens to undo all the good work he has done with Lord Vetinari and Diamond King of Trolls. The plot is....interesting, but the jumping between plots is rather confusing in the very early parts of the books. Pratchett has written books, Hogfather being probably the best example, where multiple narratives occur throughout the book and eventually become sewn together in the novel's finale. It probably makes more sense on re-reading, but it makes the book feel extremely disjointed in the first hundred or so pages of the novel.

Personally my other big criticism of the novel is that things involving the railway frequently happen off-camera so to speak. We get to see Dick Simnel bring his idea to Ankh-Morpork, and working out the initial details with Harry King. Eventually they build a line from Ankh-Morpork to Sto Lat and it's opened with great fanfare, and then daily traffic between the two cities becomes common place. Eventually the railway's lines expand across the continent, heading towards distant Uberwald, and we see only slight fragments of this. Dick Simnel develops new technologies, builds new engines, and an entire railway culture is developed. Yet we see much of this in passing, if we see it at all. It's probably because I'm a Rail Enthusiast myself, but I really wanted to see how the railway was going to develop on the Disc in much more detail.  Perhaps it wouldn't have been as interesting to outsiders, but I think Pratchett made even the post office seem interesting in Going Postal, so I think he could have risen to the challenge.

Aside from my complaints, is the novel good? Oh definitely. If you're already a frequent traveler to the Disc then I'd highly recommend you hop on the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygenic Railway. If you're new, I'd suggest starting earlier in the series so you can build up some steam before tackling this novel. (And no, I refuse to apologize for that pun.)

....I like trains.

- Kalpar

Monday, June 2, 2014

Adventures of Krinsblag: My God, It's Full of Stars

We continued investigating the island, heading towards the next cluster of ruins indicated on the map. On our way there we encountered a cluster of darkmantles, a rather random encounter to say the least. Darkmantles are usually subterranean and rely on surprise to attack random adventurers that are occupied dungeon-delving. Six of them floating around in bright sunlight? Easy targets to say the least. Soma dropped a fireball right on the center that killed all but one of them, the last one was left pretty seriously singed but Meda quickly shot it out of the air. The tower itself was much more interesting. Apparently it was made of a sort of white shale (don't ask me how we figured that out), and the tower appeared to be constantly growing and shedding giant shards of shale, which we were mostly able to avoid but a few of us got knocked around.

Inside the tower we found that the dirt appeared constantly shifting and being incorporated into the growth process of the tower, a peculiar situation to say the least. Whitmore was able to discern a distinct pattern to the dirt, providing a sort of staircase to an upper level, but requiring a great number of precarious leaps. Fortunately for us, Meda was able to nimbly scramble up to the second level, discovering a group of three wisps, including the one we had argued with earlier. I will say this about the wisps, they're either insane or just plain stupid. Possibly both. The one we had run into before "tried" to negotiate with us, but I got the feeling he wasn't terribly interested. I tried explaining once again that we were looking for Gerlach and if the wisp would help us find the alchemist, we'd be able to leave his island much more quickly. When the wisps proved to once again to be utterly obstinate, we engaged in some mean-spirited taunting which goaded the wisps into attacking us. The fight was a pretty close thing there for a while. Soma managed to summon a lighting elemental that harried the wisps, and a few solid hits from me, Meda, and Whitmore managed to drop the bastards. Whitmore considered trying to capture one of the wisps and teach them how to properly negotiate, the logistics of such a proposal proved too prohibitive to be implemented. However we did find a decent collection of ioun stones, meaning pretty much everyone in the party now has at least one stone whirling around them. Soma also found an armillary amulet which apparently shows the positions of the celestial spheres, which seems to fit with everything else we've heard about this island.

As we left the tower we discovered a hidden cover around the rear of the island which had a canal to the ocean and a cave. We were able to determine the canal was being excavated by some sort of freaky fish people who were being overseen by a slightly different type of freaky fish people. We presumed this is what happened to the villagers on the pirate island, but didn't relish the prospect of heading down there without more information. So we decided to investigate the remaining ruins before tangling with whatever was down there.

The first set of ruins we investigated had a small outbuilding that was missing its top half, not in itself unusual. What was very odd though was the top half of the building was orbiting the island in some sort of magical field, making a lap of the island every ten minutes or so. We decided it might be worth investigating later, but we wanted to check out the larger building first, which proved to be a very large orrery. (Or for those of us that don't have technical training, a giant mechanical model of the cosmos) We were initially hesitant to enter, fearing another surprise attack of rust monsters, but our scouting revealed the building to be inhabited by three phase spiders instead. Lucky for us we got the jump on them and managed to drop one of them in six seconds flat, causing the other two spiders to run off to the Ethereal Plane. We waited for a good two or three minutes, expecting the spiders to come back, and were rather confused when they didn't. We eventually decided to investigate the orrery, which Soma and Whitmore were able to determine was in serious disrepair. I'm not sure if it was the disrepair of the orrery or just the fucked up nature of this island, but we started getting hit by random bursts of magic. This proved much to our advantage, though, because Meda and I started phasing between the Material and Ethereal Planes, allowing us to lay an everloving smackdown on those damn spiders. Meda did really well, putting a few arrows straight through the creatures' eyes, and I got a really solid hit in with my sword, finishing the creatures off.

Threatened with continual bursts of random magic and approaching darkness, we decided to rest for the day before giving the orrery a more detailed examination. I will say that I rather like Soma's new ability to give us a hidden campsite in a pocket dimension. It means I finally get a nice, uninterrupted stretch of sleep.

- Krinsblag