The excellent Broadway musical In the Heights received a film adaptation this summer and, like most such adaptations, it went through some changes from stage to screen. Character arcs shifted slightly, some numbers got cut, and a few items got added to make the show more topical. But one particular change left me really thinking, and I feel that it subtly alters the tone of the entire story.
Consider the Mushroom Kingdom, the most common setting of the Super Mario Brothers franchise. Set aside the fact that its main populace consists of anthropomorphic mushrooms and focus instead on the downright bizarre social and political implications presented by Nintendo’s flagship franchise. Now consider how much weirder things get when you expand outward to games like Mario Party and Mario Kart.
This is a kingdom in a state of constant political upheaval, and yet there is no succession plan should the ruler be deposed. It lacks any sort of organized military despite being under constant assault by a literal fire-breathing dragon. The inhabitants show very little prejudice, and yet the social system is filled with incredible amounts of systemic bias.
Clearly, this strange kingdom bears a more thorough investigation.
Over the past 25 years, Pokémon has gone from a fad to a multimedia juggernaut. Dozens of video games, movies, TV seasons, comics, and more have sprang into existence around the cute little monsters.
These different properties have varied in some respects, but all have helped to apply at least a veneer of continuity on the imaginary world where pocket monsters roam the wild. And, in many ways…what these things show is pretty weird.
I’m not talking about weird as in the obvious, with bizarre creatures that live in tiny Pokéballs. I mean that the world we see in the different franchises, particularly the videogames, has some fascinatingly odd worldbuilding implications. Here are just a few of the things you’d have to contend with if you lived in the world of Pokémon.
Yes, I’m about to launch into a talk on politics. If you’re sick of the topic or just don’t care what a nerd on the Internet has to say about the United States government, go ahead and skip this one. I’ll go back to screaming about comic books and role-playing games next time around.
So, here we are at the end of the term of President Donald Trump–three words together that once seemed so far-fetched that they were a joke on The Simpsons. The past four years in the United States have been largely defined by political divisions, racist policies, and a frightening lean into outright fascism. They culminated in an attempted coup at the Capitol Building that claimed lives. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and I’m sad to say it won’t be the last time. But maybe we can prevent it from happening again for a long while. Maybe we can even learn from it as we move forward?
I don’t really feel like trying to prognosticate about the future of the United States and its elected representatives. But January 6, 2021 is going to be a defining moment in American history, as will the immediate aftermath of the insurrection. As the chapter of President Trump comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to reflect and get my thoughts down. As the incoming President Biden vows a return to normalcy–whatever that means–I think taking a snapshot of this moment in history that I can look back upon will be very useful in the days to come.
Something funny is happening in the Blakros Museum…again! After many break-ins and disasters, it’s time for the Pathfinder Society to assess the competence of museum curator, Nigel Aldain…and your PCs are the ones assigned to the job!
The Blakros Deception is one of the newest Pathfinder Society scenarios, and is a Pathfinder adventure for characters of level 5 to 8. It represents my first Pathfinder Society scenario using the second edition rules, and also happens to be one of the most fun writing projects I’ve been involved in! Playing around in the Blakros Museum gave me a chance to jump into a wide range of Golarion lore, and the opportunity to use the Influence rules from the GameMastery Guide opened doors to a new dimension of play.
You can pick up The Blakros Deception on Paizo.com and run it as part of the Pathfinder Society campaign or as a one-shot at your own table.
Need more monsters for your D&D game? Kobold Press has you covered! Tome of Beasts 2 brings in 400 new monsters to the game, allowing you to spice up adventures with cool new allies and enemies that will catch your players by surprise!
Why do I mention this book here? Because I’m tucked away in the credits as a contributor! My monster, the dream-walking fey known as the yumerai, appears in this tome. Check it and the hundreds of other great monsters out today!
Few people know goblins as sages and spellcasters, but Vengar the Reader proves that it can happen. A new Dungeons & Dragons villain who combines a goblin’s dangerous sense of curiosity with some deadly necromantic surprises, Vengar and his minions are ready to drop into any adventure or campaign.
This articles for En5ider provides a new spellcasting villain and several new options to enhance undead for use on unsuspecting PCs. By subscribing to the En5ider Patreon, you can get this and more than 300 other D&D articles to enhance your game!
The sad news is that the TRAILseeker Patreon is wrapping up with this issue. The good news is that it goes out with a bang. “The Sin Dragon’s Lair” features an interesting and unique 12th-level monster that can fit into any Pathfinder campaign. The article includes background and stats for the Sin Dragon, several new magic items that lie atop its hoard, and fantastic art by Marcel Budde.
The other good news is that you can get this article and many, many more with a single $2 payment. This is your last chance to check out all the great stuff that TRAILseeker has released over the years, so check it out!
Adapted from one of my house campaigns, “Flight of the Almost-Dragons” is a fun little side-trek for 3rd level Pathfinder characters. The heroes encounter a group of kobolds who are trying to fix up a broken airship, and they can either help the little beasts or take the ship for themselves. This adventure can drop into any fantasy campaign and is a great way to show off the cute but deadly kobolds of 2nd edition.