Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Venus 2000" By Rockford Artist Joe Tallman

Last weekend we went to Joe Tallman and Allison Wuest's show at J.R. Kortman here in Rockford, and I saw this piece that really knocked me out. Since my heart surgery I'm always drawn to works of art about the human heart, or in this case, the robot heart, which in my case has even more applicability. Jenny got me this piece for my birthday and had it framed by the resident genius at Mainfraim. Aside from it just being a wonderful piece, I like that three different local artists and gallery owners can share in the benefits. I think we should all make an effort to buy from people we know in our own neighborhoods. 

"Venus 2000" By Joe Tallman. See more from Rockford artist Joe Tallman here
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A Few Fantasy Novels Banned At My High School During the Satanic Panic

During the rabid years of the Satanic Panic, circa 1983, they started removing books from the Byron High School library, then eventually cracked down on anyone playing Dungeons and Dragons on school property or reading "objectionable" books on school grounds. All  weekend I've been trying to recreate in my memory a list of a few of those books. Then I did what I always do: I went to Ebay and Abe Books and started buying those books for my library. Surprisingly, after that episode in my teen years I never read sci fi or fantasy at all, but for the past year I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons on Tuesday nights and my interest has been rekindled.

Before I list the books I must relate another memory that puts it in a little more perspective for me. At that time we got a young librarian from NIU who was young enough to notice a bunch of us were hanging out during lunch and playing D and D instead of shooting baskets or outside smoking. He asked us what types of books we were interested in the library acquiring, and he got requests from a lot of us. 

We were overjoyed, and started checking the books out.

Others were apparently not overjoyed, and a few weeks into the books arriving they were pulled from the library shelves and never returned. Then we were banned from playing Dungeons and Dragons on school grounds, and eventually many of us bought the books on our own but soon found out they were banned on school property, also.

1) Hobgoblin- John Coyne. Hobgoblin is the first of the books I remember having read. It's about a teen who loses himself in a character he plays in a fictional RPG named Hobgoblin. Apparently Coyne had seen his nephew playing Dungeons and Dragons and wondered what it would be like to write a novel where a character actually came to life. I haven't read anything else by this author, but he was known for some lurid material, and there is some sex and violence in this book. Not as much as in about a thousand other books in the library no one was complaining about, but Rona Jaffe's Mazes and Monsters had really started a frenzy. Speaking of. The second book I bought was...

2) Mazes and Monsters. Rona Jaffe. I learned a new term today. Problem novel. The social novel, also known as the social problem (or social protestnovel, is a "work of fiction in which a prevailing social problem, such as gender, race, or class prejudice, is dramatized through its effect on the characters of a novel". For some reason AIDS wasn't considered a problem during the Reagan administration, but role playing games and fantasy novels were. 

We came back for the Spring semester, and the young librarian was no longer there. For the first time there were now electronic chutes at the door which monitored the egress of books with a chip. Whereas before the congregating of a few nerds in tha back room was of no interest to anyone, our gathering was now scrutinized closely.

What I can tell you about that group of kids is that one of them became a high-ranking Marine officer, more than one, and even more than two made a lot of money in Silicon Valley, and the one who came closest to freaking out and becoming like a character in one of these "problem books" now lives on one of the most hum drum and Pleasantville roads in this town. That would be me. And I'm still contemplating flipping out and just entering a fantasy game one evening and not returning at nearly 50. Here's a few of the other books I have already ordered or will still be ordering.

3) Magician. Raymond Feist. At Crydee, Pug, an orphan boy is apprenticed to a master magician. Suddenly the Kingdom is aswarm with alien invaders, destroying the peace of the kingdom. Pug and his friend Tomas are swept up into the conflict, with Pug's destiny leading him through a rift to a new world.

That sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I'm not sure if I finished this one. Just ordered it from Abe Books. Saw copies selling for several hundred dollars, but I settled on a more economical book club version. Here are a few of the others I remember.

4) The Mists of Avalon. Marion Zimmer Bradley. In this one the Camelot and King Arthur legend is told from the perspective of the female characters. Morgan la Fey is less of an evil witch bent on destroying the Knights of the Round Table than a druid priestess trying to save her pagan religion from zealous Christian barbarians. I wonder why they didn't like this one.

5) The Crystal Cave. Mary Stewart. In this one, written before the ohers, I think in 1979, the Arturian legend is told throuh the eyes of Merlin. This is the first of a trilogy, and is about his adolescent years and travels as he comes into his own as the sorcerer and prophet he is. This isn't my copy. I haven't bought it yet.

6) Sanctuary. Edited by Robert Lynn Asprin. 22 stories of heroic fantasy including: The Gate of the Flying Knives, by Poul Anderson; Blood Brothers; by Joe Haldeman; Looking for Satan, by Vonda N. McIntyre; The Secret of the Blue Star, by Marion Zimmer Bradley; Myrtis, by Christine DeWees; The Price of Doing Business, by Robert Asprin; Shadowspawn, by Andrew J. Offutt; Shadow's Pawn, by Andrew J. Offutt; The Face of Chaos, by Lynn Abbey; Sentences of Death, by John Brunner; To Guard the Guardians, by Robert Asprin; Vashanka's Minion, by Janet Morris; The Dream of the Sorceress, by A. E. van Vogt; The Fruit of Enlibar, by Lynn Abbey; Goddess, by David Drake; Spiders of the Purple Mage, by Philip José Farmer; A Man and His God, by Janet Morris; Then Azyuna Danced, by Lynn Abbey; The Rhinoceros and the Unicorn, by Diana L. Paxson; The Vivisectionist, by Andrew J. Offutt; A Gift in Parting, by Robert Asprin; Ischade, by C. J. Cherryh. Also includes maps of Thieves' World, introductions, and essays.

This one I'm looking forward to getting and reading. Maybe again. 

7) The Chronicles of Amber. Roger Zelazny. The Chronicles of Amber is a series of fantasy novels by American writer Roger Zelazny. The main series consists of two story arcs, each five novels in length. Additionally, there are a number of Amber short stories and other works.
The Amber stories take place in two contrasting "true" worlds, Amber and Chaos, and in shadow worlds (Shadows) that lie between the two. These shadows, including our Earth, are parallel worlds that exist in, and were created from, the tension between opposing magical forces of Amber and Chaos. The Courts of Chaos are situated at the very edge of an Abyss. Members of the royal family of Amber, after walking a Pattern that is central to Amber, can travel freely through the Shadows. While traveling (shifting) between Shadows, one can alter reality or create a new reality by choosing which elements of which Shadows to keep or add, and which to subtract. Nobles of the Courts of Chaos who have traversed the Logrus are similarly able to travel through Shadow.
Ordered those last night. 

When I talked about this to one of my Planescape buddies, also a child of the 80's, he told me about the Streisand Effect, whereby when you try to erase something from the memory of others it just creates the opposite phenomenon, and the thing becomes even more powerful. This is a list of books I may very well have read, enjoyed, and not remembered very much at all if there hadn't been some concerted effort to make them off limits to me, to demonize their content. The effort was even more insidious now that I think back about it because what they were really trying to do is get me to censor myself, to passively accept their introjects and their sense of morality and never question it again. The censor would become internal, and I would have believed it was really me, not them. 

A few weeks into that second semester I was suspended for continuing to bring these books in. I had gone as far as to ask for them from a book club for Christmas, and would share them with anyone who was interested. It has been a lot of fun for me reclaiming these memories from the void, and like the character in The Chronicles of Amber who has amnesia, seeing the books laid out before me in a growing pattern as I remember one after the other. Some of these are most decidedly not literary classics, but I hope you, too, will pick one up and read it, whether the ghost of Edwin Meese likes it or not. 
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading

The Uptown Cultural Center's
Liason for Community Education
Steps to the podium and gives a brief speil
About the essential nature
Of poetry in the community,
And how poetry is for everyone,
Then sneaks off through a back door
The moment the poetry begins.
I see her in her office
With her feet up
Reading Cosmopolitan.
As the poems about oppression 
And loneliness begin in earnest,
The poets read their poems
About the callousness
Of a public apathetic
To their sacrifices,
Then disappear one by one
After reading
Until finally it's just me,
The open bar,
And poetry...


-Thomas L. Vaultonburg Pin It

Friday, January 26, 2018

43 (and growing) "Bad" Horror Movies Every Horror Fan Must See

This is a list of horror movies I watch on a semi-constant basis with a few quick notes to remind me what they are when I forget. It is not intended as a detailed synoposis of those movies, and unless you're a dedicated fan of horror these movies probably won't entertain you at all. Note: I made this list in the car between Wausau and Dr. Evermore's Forevertron in North Freedom, Wisconsin. I'm in the early stages of memory loss, and it's just a list, folks. It's meant as a tribute to all the low budget horror films that have meant so much to me all my life, not something to fight about, but I'd enjoy it if others wanted to talk about any of these films or similar ones that have meaning to them. Maybe some of these movies will help you get through some hard times and dark nights with their unpretentious devotion to the genre the way they have for me.

1) Screamtime: Anthology piece shot in Britain, but with introductory segment shot in New York. Has the gnomes story I really enjoy.

2) Nightmares: Anthology piece with Emilio Estevez in the Bishop of Battle segment.

3) Point of Terror: Peter Carpenter vehicle about a small time lounge singer who has aspirations of being a star.

4) Night of Horror: Confederate zombies pursue a rocker and his friends.

5) Werewolves On Wheels: Great soundtrack by Don Gere. Biker werewolves who take on a Satanic cult.

6) Enter the Devil: Wonderful regional B movie shot in Texas and with a unique take on the Satanic cult genre.

7) The Offspring (From a Whisper To a Scream): Awesome Vincent Price anthology piece about Oldfield, a Southern town where the sins of the past always come back to haunt those in the present.

8) Toxic Zombies: Pot growers crop dusted by the DEA transform into zombies and pursue those unlucky enough to be anywhere in the vicinity.

9) No Blade of Grass: Stark, cynical assessment of human nature after an environmental disaster plunges humanity into chaos.

10) Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things: Favorite movie. A theatre troupe of young Hippies land on a small island with a cemetery to perform a Satanic ritual meant to raise the dead. It works.

"So what's with this little thing we're askin'?"

11) Shockwaves: Aquatic Nazi zombies rise from their shipwreck to hunt down members of a shipwrecked crew on an island with an abandoned resort which Peter Cushing lives in.

12) Psychomania: Biker gang punk learns secret of immortality from his psychic mother.

13) Mansion of the Living Dead: Incredibly misogynistic Jess Franco movie starring another island resort and living dead reminiscent of Ossorio's Blind Dead.

14) Revenge of the Dead: French movie mistaken for a zombie movie by those disappointed it's really a mystery with another abandoned spa and only one zombie.

15) City of the Walking Dead: Probably the first fast-moving zombie movie.

16) The Monster Club: Co-favorite movie of all time. Vincent Price in another anthology piece set in a London night club for monsters.

What happens if a Shadmock whistles?

17) Alabama's Ghost: Bizarre piece of nonsense released as a Thriller Video hosted by Elvira directed by a scuplter.

18) The Spookies: A car-wrecked group of goofs happen upon an abandoned house that really isn't bandoned.

19) The Phantom of the Paradise: Paul Williams as Faust.

20) Scream and Scream Again: Price, Lee, Cushing.

21) Dracula 1972 A.D.: Chhristopher Lee as a Dracula in swinging London.

22) Escapes: Quaint but charming low budget anthology piece "hosted" by Vincent Price with the great Cup of Joe segment.

23) Pigs: First saw on Movie Macabre. An on-the-run mental patient meets the only other person crazier than her at a remote diner that serves the meat of pigs that survive on human flesh.

24) Gargoyles: ABC movie of the week in early 70's about the re-awakening of ancient gargoyles in the Southwestern desert.

25) Messiah of Evil (Dead People): Eerie, atmospheric movie about the return of the Red Moon to Point Doom, California. Great scenes at the theatre and Ralphs.

26) Simon, King of theWitches: Written by a real expert on witchcraft, avoids many of the cliche tropes of movies about witches.

27) The Cold: Shot at the now demolished Northernaire Resort in Wisconsin, the tale of three oldsters who invite several strangers to their resort off season every year to play a deadly game. William Rebane directs.

28) Zombiethon: Compiled footage from several zombie movies sliced together with several amusing interstitial shorts.

29) Night of the Comet: Against inconceivable odds, two sisters in different locations survive a meteor cataclysm.

30) Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Hype: Oliver Reed in an unusual retelling of the famous horror story.

31) Class Reunion Massacre: Shot in a Southern military academy, several people gather for a high school reunion. You know the rest.

32) The Beast Must Die: Werewolf mystery. Who is the werewolf? Who isn't the werewolf?

33) House of the Dead (Alien Zone): The original House of the Dead, shot in Omaha. A low budget anthology piece about a pilandering convention goer being shown the wages of sin by an undertaker.

34) Joel M. Reed's Bloodbath: Great anthology piece.

35) Funeral Home: Canadian horror movie about a young woman who goes to stay with her grandmother for the summer at the home where her grandfather was an undertaker.

36) Night Train To Terror: Bizarro anthology piece with the greatest musical intro of all time and Bull from Night Court in two of the segments. 

Everybody's got something to do. Everybody but you. 

37) Ghost Ship: Nazi ghost ship.

38) Hard Rock Zombies: A favorite at Zombie Night

39) A Name For Evil: Robert Culp as an architect who leaves the city to return to his ancestral home, but soon finds an angry ancestor doesn't want him there.

40) Satan's Children: Florida news guys swindles his friends to make this anti-Satan cautionary tale about a young man who leaves his broken home only to be raped by Molly Hatchet and then joins a Satanic cult.

41) The Boneyard: Phyllis Diller, Norman Fell, an offbeat lead character, and a zombie poodle in an oddly effective dark horror movie.

42) The Video Dead: A haunted television mistakenly sent to a California suburb unleashes a David Bowie zombie.

43) Creepshow 2: "Thanks for the ride, lady."

Newly remembered

44) Ghostkeeper: Canadian snowmobilers are stranded at a abandoned resort. First Wendigo movie I am aware of.

45) Humongous: Canadian boaters are shipwrecked on an island where a Big Head Todd monster still lives in an abandoned resort.

46) Warlock Moon: A college girl is lured by a charming stranger to an abandoned resort where cannibals ply their trade.

47) Screams of a Winter Night: At an abandoned resort (getting the idea?) in Louisiana, a group of young college types trades urban legends, then becomes one. 

48) Devil Times Five: At a ski lodge deserted for the season, the owner beckons his daughter, her boyfriend, and Boss Hogg and his alcoholic wife to be murdered by a cross-dressing Leif Garrett and a 15 year old albino the director was banging, because it was the 70's

Devil Times Five

49) Nightmare In Blood: The first horror con ever turns bloody when a movie vampire scheduled to appear turns out to be a vampire. 

50) The Baby: A grown man is treated like a baby by his two sisters and mother. A truly unusual movie. It is horror.

51) Death By Dialogue: Almost forgot this gem, but that's why this list is here. A group of college student visit one of their uncles, who lives near an abandoned film set, and snooping in the basement finds a mysterious script whose contents come to life as they are read. One of the best decapitation by a heavy metal band one stumbles upon performing in the forest scenes ever. 

52) Hellgate: A movie I used to confuse with Death By Dialogue because the settings seem so similar. Ron Palillo (Horshak from Welcome Back Kotter) is in this one about college students who end up in an abandoned Western Ghost Town attraction that comes back to life. Or something like that.

53) Tourist Trap: The Rifleman, Chuck Conners, owns a tourist trap wax museum. 

54) Dead and Buried: For some reason had blocked this one from my memory, perhaps confusing it with something else, until a couple months ago, when I finally watched it, and will again, hopefully. Coastal town full of pyschos murders tourists and... little bit like The Fog or Messiah of Evil.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Outsider Poetry: Love Poem For Valentine's Day 2018

Outsider Poetry: Love Poem For Valentine's Day 2018: Just wanted to be self-indulgent and post one of the love poems I have written for my partner. This year she decided to type some of them u... Pin It

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Planescape Tuesdays: Argar Da'argagaar and Aramus Perterberator Destroy the World, Then Save It, Then Destroy It Again

Dragonborn sorcerer (and con man) Argar Da'argagaar and his thick friend Aramus Perterberator, a blaqueguard fighter, burst from the Stygian darkness of the Underdark like spring hares running from the hounds of hell, having very recently done their very favorite thing: cheating a rich and powerful tyrant out of his riches. Only this time, like many other times, something went slightly wrong with the plan. The ancestral relic warhammer they were hired to retrieve for a Dwarven king was discovered to be a fake. And once again, the chase was on.

Emerging from the Underdark into the almost crueler light of their beloved home of Faerun, the two career five-and-dimers quickly slipped into one of their tried-and-true escape routines, disguising themselves as a Phlan city guard and his draconian prisoner. Little could they even envision in their wildest schemes that it would not even be possible to hide from the frenzied knot of labyrinthine events that would sweep them up like helpless capybara in the iron talons of a Manticore.

Pursued by enraged dwarves, Aarg and Peterberator concluded it would be best to put as much distance between them and their latest boondoggle as possible, and a shadowy, slinking figure at the edge of the forest offered them the opportunity to do just that. "My name is Girtith" said the Deep Gnome, who was blind. It seemed he had appeared from nowhere, but after a volley of small talk it was established that he, too, was in a mood to be anywhere but here, and knew of a way to escape.

After a  few hours of trudging through the dense and brackish Gnotwood Forest, the choking brambles gave way to a clearing where the new band of allies saw a whimsical, yet welcome sight: a tall, gray tower festooned with what looked like a wizards hat on top. 

Oddly enough (perhaps not so oddly in retrospect) the Deep Gnome knew of a secret entrance, and guided Aargar and Peterberator to a friend he knew who may just be able to help them with their being chased by angry dwarves dilemma. So it was decided they would meet the mad genius who inhabited the top floor of the tower. It was decidedly not decided that when they met the Cloud Giant who inhabited the tower that the entire structure would start to rumble and launch itself into space moments later. So much for proper introductions. 

It also was not expected, gauging from the Storm Giant's shocked reaction, that the tower would be boarded by Phyrexian space pirates only moments into the "Hello, who the hell are you and why are you on my spaceship tower thingy?" conversation that was just starting to get good. 

Madness ensued. 

The Cloud Giant was more than capable of fending off the pirates, but what he couldn't have accounted for was the unquieting effect the combination of Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator can have on otherwise merely out of control circumstances. It's possible the goodly, but slightly whacky giant may have had a sphere of annihilation in his possession, and it's also possible that sphere of annihilation may have been mesmerizing to one Argar Da'argagaar, and although details are sketchy, a Mage Hand may have appeared from "somewhere" and made an attempt to grab the sphere, thereby creating a chain of events that culminated with the Cloud Giant being swallowed by his own Sphere of Annihilation and the walls of the tower exploding, and Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator being ejected into the Astral Plane. Allegedly.

It was while floating aimlessly through the Astral Plane that Argar Da'argagaar and Aramus Pertberator met the band of fellow reprobate loonies that would simultaneously become their thickest friends and oft times their greatest enemies. 

Managing to grab hold of a cylandrical platform in the midst of the ether, Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator were immediately attacked by a Ranger named Dench and a winged Kobold named Podo. Perterberator managed to secure Argar Da'argagaar's release in exchange for breaking the choke hold he had on the winged Kobold. And that is how Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator met the party of characters with whom they would subsequently destroy the very fabric of the Multiverse, then reshape it into something even better.

After some ruffled feathers and puffing of chests, moderating voices like the Mystic Borana and the Bard Rowan managed to keep Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator from killing their new friends who had attacked them first with no provocation, but there wasn't much time for peeing for distance because even in the Astral Plane you're never really alone, as an airship drew closer the party saw the ever-serious face of Gith herself, would-be liberator of her people from the Mind Flayers, twisted into a mask of determination. 

Being trapped on the Astral Plane with no way to return to anywhere that seemed familiar, the party agreed to help free Gith's people from an Illithid slave encampment where their minds were slowly being drained by the parasitic Mind Flayers. 

Mind Flayer

But first Gith managed to open the floating obelisk the party had previously been clinging to to reveal a horde of treasure that made Argar Da'argagaar's eyes spin. In an act of foolish generosity Dench played quartermaster for the party and doled out some legendary magical items, including a Rod of Lordly Might, which went to Kerfuffle the Orc barbarian, a Staff of the Magi, which Argar Da'argagaar gladly accepted, and Plate Mail +2 and  Defender longsword which made Perterberator nearly unassailable by non-magical means. Had the party amassed this historic cache of legendary items previously? The answer was hardly relevant to Arg and Perterberator at this point. It was time to kick some Mind Flayer butts (minds?) and free some slaves. 

With the Halfling Rogue Chinaski taint stabbing everything in sight, the party managed to hack and slash its way through the living, vegetative vessel of the Illithids, and reach the pool where a powerful Mind Flayer lich was waiting to make a smorgasboard out of the soft and tasty minds of our party. 

He did not succeed. Through a combination of psionic attacks, a volley of arrows, and a near-fatal Barbarian charge from Kerfuffle, the lich was dispatched, and the gith slaves' minds were freed into the Astral Plane. Unfortunately, the portal of the ship opened up, and the party was also "freed" into the Astral Plane. 

Exactly how we found ourselves sucked out of the Astral Plane and into Barovia we may never know, but looking back the Dark Powers may even have been involved, but there we were, barely sure of each other's names. We wandered the blighted landscape of Barovia, undisturbed, although feeling constantly under observation, until we found a Vistani encampment. There the Bard Rowan, under the influence of a Vistani tea, was able to spy into the shadowy past of Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator, and made aware of some of their more dubious decisions, was bribed into not revealing these past, youthful discretions to the rest of the party by being given permission to use their past skullduggery in a legendary song.

Many plans were discussed at that campfire, knowing eventually it was inevitable Strahd would beckon us to his castle and most likely end our lives as we knew them. To complicate matters exponentially, the Ranger Dench had been possessed by the brother of Strahd after destroying the Book of Vile Darkness, and was reticent to discuss any plan that involved doing away with Strahd at all. Angers flared, threats were issued, and no plan of action could be agreed upon by the majority.

One thing everyone did agree upon, however, was that it would be a grand idea to summon the wizard Mordenkainen with a tuft of his beard that had been obtained by the party in a previous encounter with the thaumaturgist. Mordenkainen, we surmised, hated Strahd more than any other living creature, and would be more than happy to aid us in keeping the balance by defeating him. We guessed wrong. Mordenkainen arrived angry as a minotaur with a bee in its bonnet, and began casting a spell immediately. Perterberator had no inclination to see the results of the high wizard's utterations, and put him in a sleeper hold. Upon awaking the wizard was slightly more amenable to small talk.

It was then the adventurers learned Strahd was finally to marry Tatyana, and in an act of generosity we were all invited. Mordenkainen included. Many in the party were willing to celebrate along with the Strahds and move on, but Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator had more noble ambitions. Ambitions they shared with the wizard Mordenkainen in an emergency strategy session that lasted long into the night. 

Strahd von Zarovich

The plan unfolded with the normal precision Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator were known for, and had the same devastating consequences that always seem to issue forth from doing the right thing in a deft and noble manner.

The feast was magnificent. The ceremony began in the morning and went off without a hitch. Strahd von Zarovich, the vampire tormentor of the Barovian people, plaything of the Dark Powers, and all-around douchenozzle, had finally been re-united with his love and all his hopes and aspirations of ruling Barovia as a mortal man were being realized.

Alas, there's the rub. Strahd von Zarovich was now a mortal man. And as all mortal men are, he had this tendency to die when overwhelmed with physical damage, or beheaded by an Eldritch Knight named Aramus Perterberator. 

Mordenkainen, Argar Da'argagaar, and Perterberator were pleased with the results of their secret plan, but others who had not been consulted, were less so. Among those less pleased happened to be Dench von Zarovich, who shot Perterberator with his Oath Bow, failing to kill him, and other party members who gave fine and ineffective lectures about regime change and why inaction is a perfectly noble and reasonable choice in almost all circumstances. But one other entity was displeased. The demon lord Graz'zt. The skies turned black and peals of thunder rang out as the debonair but deadly demon prince descended to the roof of Ravenloft Castle.

Melee ensued. Perhaps, and I use this word knowing its proper context and scope, epic melee. Strahd was there. Mordenkainen was there. Graz'zt was there. And Argar Da'argagaar and Aramus Perterberator were there. That morning at Ravenloft Castle. Others were also there, but were they?

Graz'zt was finally subdued, and driven to the edge of defeat by a barrage of powerful spells, psychic attacks, and brute force. It is possible even Dench von Zarovich stopped attacking teammates long enough to sink an arrow into the demon lord. Clearly surprised at the pluck and determination of his adversaries, the demon lord grabbed the head of Strahd and vanished.

The people of Barovia were free. At least as free as the people of Barovia can ever be. But Argar Da'argagaar and Perterberator had made numerous and powerful enemies in their short time as players in the Multiverse.

Argar Da'argagaar is a trickster. He's a con man. And he's a charlatan. He hates authority and  has an overwhelming compulsion to steal from the wealthy and powerful. Aside from all that, swell Dragonborn. Solid dude. Heart in the right place even when he's engaged in a swindle. And the swindle he came up with next may be the greatest in all known lore. 

Dench von Zarovich could not get over the death of his brother Strahd. No peace within the party was possible unless something was done, but how could any character of good conscience stand by while Dench resurrected one of the most evil villains in the Multiverse. Argar Da'argagaar hatched a plan. A canard. One that would both set the Multiverse on its ear and eventually save it. 


As bold as a bucket, Argar Da'argagaar summoned Graz'zt, and as game recognized game, they concocted a scheme the demon lords themselves would be proud of. Graz'zt was to create an ersatz copy of the head of Strahd to placate Dench in his efforts to resurrect his vile brother. When he reuinited the head with the body the resurrection would fail, but he would believe it failed because it was never possible, not because he had been duped. Meanwhile, Strahd's soul would be relegated to the void, forever in the possession of the demilich Acererak. Once again, the plot succeeded magnificently, then failed miserably. And worst of all, in exchange for his favors Graz'zt had received in return the means to enter the citadel city of Sigil. 

On our way to the meeting where Graz'zt would seemingly reluctantly return the head of Strahd to Dench, we had a marvelously entertaining battle Against the Giants, where they launched huge ice balls first at our doomed cart, then at us with huge hockey sticks. With his newly obtained Fireball, Argar Da'argagaar and the party took out the giants, then cleared the slaver's stockade they were running. We made it to the city of the Drow at the appointed time, and as agreed Graz'zt huffed and puffed, then launched the head at Dench.

Against the Giants

Strahd's head secured, Dench immediately returned to Barovia to resurrect the evil fiend. As planned, the resurrection failed, but Dench was palliated in believing he had done all he could do. 

It was at this time we learned than the demon lords Demogorgon and Orcus had entered the prime material plane, and if not stopped would eventually gain power over the city of Sigil and many other planes of existence. On our way to seek out Demogorgon we happened upon a village of Kuo Toa and Chain Devils engaged in a ceremony to call forth some beast from the seas by offering it a large net full of humanoid creatures of all kinds. Naturally we felt obligated to free the woeful creatures being used as fishbait and stop whatever fiendish summoning was going down. Having done so we discovered to our horror a huge beast who was emerging from the depths was actually...



Our Tiefling rogue remembered he had a wish left to be used and wished that Demogorgon would be defeated. Which he was. By Tiamat! who also emerged from the depths, dispatching Demogorgon with ease, then turning her attention to us.

Correctly assessing we had no chance of surviving a fight with Tiamat our charlatan Sorcerer Argar did what he always does... tried to trick the devil. But in this case he did have one piece of information Tiamat found worthy of sparing our lives for. Graz'zt was in Sigil, and unless stopped would soon take over the City of Doors and become the most powerful creature in the multiverse. Tiamat agreed to spare us in exchange for being banished to Sigil.

What seemed like only moments later to us, The Lady of Pain was cast to the ground in front of us in her humanoid form, looking defeated. She cursed us for having sent both Graz'zt and Tiamat to Sigil, where all Hell had broken out and she had been stripped of her powers. Sigil was defenseless.


Unless a Dragonlance could be procured there was no reasonable hope of defeating Tiamat and saving the Multiverse. Legend had it there was one place where a Dragonlance could be found.

The Tomb of Horrors! We agreed we would seek out the Tomb of Horrors, and brave the mythical dungeon of certain death and its bloodthirsty master, Acererak, but on one condition. If we succeeded we all would become Factols of our own Faction on Sigil. In no position to bargain, the Lady of Pain agreed to our terms, and we set off for the Tomb of Horrors.

But nothing is ever that easy, and on our journey to the Tomb of Horrors we stumbled, quite literally into 

White Plume Mountain

where no less than three party members were swallowed by purple worms. With time being of the essence we shook this small setback off and headed to the Tomb of Horrors.

Knowing the reputation the Tomb had for making even the most seasoned adventurers disappear forever, we set out with extreme caution. After much searching we finally found the entrance to the Tomb, and began the often frustrating, always engaging process of finding the secret hiding place of the demilich Acererak and the Dragonlance we so desperately needed to have any chance of defeating Tiamat. After what seemed like months of wrong turns, elaborate traps set specifically with our demise in mind at every step, and a madman's riddle ringing in our heads, we finally found Acererak's lair. And defeated him easily.

Tomb of Horrors

Too easily.

With the chamber of Acererak collapsing around us, we decided to return to the trecherous halls of the tomb and seek the real Acererak. After encountering countless traps, vats of acid, killer tapestries, seemingly unsolvable riddles, and shape-shifting hallways, we finally acquired the keys necessary to enter Acererak's real lair. Inserting and turning the keys in the right sequence, we found ourselves face to face with the legendary lich, whose philactery rose above us in the form of giant, amorphous fetus. After several rounds of combat Acererak was actually gaining strength, and using his legendary actions and powerful spells to reduce the party to a critical state, so Perterberator used a wish he had gained from a Djinn in an urn he had opened to help us dispose of Acererak by any means necessary. The Djinn folded the lich in his arms and imploded, sending Acererak to another plane. We gathered the Dragonlance we had come for and found our way out of the Tomb of Horrors. 

Once again we encountered the Lady of Pain. Seeing we had the Dragonlance she once again implored us to return to Sigil and stop the chaos. Peterberator thought we should be rewarded for volunteering for a mission that would mean certain death, and since the Lady of Pain was in no position to bargain she promised to make us all Factol leaders of Sigil if we succeeded. We agreed and a portal was opened to Sigil.

But before we could even enter the portal a quizzical creature appeared before us in a puff of smoke. He looked a little bit like this.

Dungeon Master

The odd little creature explained to us that as well as saving the Multiverse he was charging us with one small additional task: there was a group of young adventurers who had strayed from their home and become embroiled in a series of mishhaps on their ongoing quest to return to their home. They would travel with us to Sigil, and if we defeated the evil that had gathered there, we would use the City of Doors to return them to their home. 

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon


We returned to a Sigil blasted by warfare between several superpowers, including Tiamat, Demogorgon, and Phrexians. Realizing we had no hope of squaring off against any of these three foes, our Mystic proposed a bold plan: he would use his powers of mind control to bond with the Phyrexian leader, and use that dread creature's power to wield the Dragonlance against Tiamat. His ploy was succesful, and the rampaging monstrosity plunged the Dragonlance flush into Tiamat's chest, sending the five-headed abomination back to the Abyss. The Phyrexians were disbanded at our Mystic's bidding and left Sigil of their own accord. In this ingenious manner all three warring interlopers were dispatched from Sigil, but the city was left decimated. 

The Lady of Pain, restored to power, was true to her word, and several of the heroes of the War of Sigil were made Factols. Aargar named his faction the Aargardians, and his headquarters was established at Club Gynospynx. Aramus Perterberator established the Hall of Bad Dudes, with the purpose of restoring Sigil to her full glory and spreading freedom and enlightenment to all corners of the Multiverse. 

We bid farewell to the valiant band of adventurers the Dungeon Master had placed in our care, and as they stepped through the door to some small, inconsequential planet named Earth, we knew this one final act was perhaps the thing we had screwed up the least.

And that is how our Planescape Tuesdays 5e campaign ended. Or so we thought...

It was six months of bliss for me, having had all the Dungeons and Dragons books as a teenager, but never really getting to play. Our Planescape night is now on a different campaign that involves Krynn, but as it often happens, worlds are colliding, and our Dragonlance characters will apparently soon find themselves in Sigil soon.

You can support (or even borrow) my Dungeon Master, Travis Legge by buying his own adventures contained in The Catalog of Calamity or even play with him online at his Patreon page he's running an Eberron campaign right now I play tested and enjoyed very much. I think there are still spots to play online on Friday mornings. 

Satanic Panic, Stranger Things, and Dungeons and Dragons In the 1980's

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