D&D Cheat Sheet

One of the things I did to prepare for the Seaward! campaign was whip up a quick Dungeons & Dragons reference guide for my mostly-new players.

The cheat sheet summarizes the core mechanics of D&D, runs through a basic Turn in Combat, describes the Actions available during a typical Combat Turn, and slams through a quick glossary of D&D’s most-used terms and abbreviations. If that sounds like something you might want to bring to your table (or if you’d like a little more insight into my DM style), keep reading!

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I did it all for Tanuki!

Dungeons & Dragons has a terrific variety of creatures for players to use when creating their next great adventurer. Even classic fantasy beings like humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings can be tweaked with variant options or distinctive subclasses, and there are plenty of oddball options for players too! Cat-people, magic robots, centaurs, fairies, shapeshifters, bird-people, devil-people–there’s something for just about everybody, and it’s a list that keeps expanding! (I’m super psyched for the Owlin coming up in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos). But there’s one roly-poly folklore trickster spirit that I think would make a terrific player character: TANUKI!

Yeah, my obsession with Japanese monsters absolutely does not end with the gigantic radioactive kind! Tanuki are yokai, and yokai are a “class of supernatural entities and spirits in Japanese folklore.” Yokai include a vast array of ghosts, monsters, demons, spirits, goblins, demoted gods, and people, animals and even inanimate objects transformed by magic, long life or other strange, unknowable forces. There are HUNDREDS of different Yokai, and they range from terrifying, paranormal killing machines to harmless goofball pranksters. Yokai don’t fit neatly into a single category of ghoul or ghost, but I think it’d be pretty fitting to think of them as equivalent to The Fey. The Fey which includes nice-guy Disney fairies like Tinkerbell… but also includes baby-stealing gremlins, undead curse-mongers, tricksters that spoil milk while you sleep, and all kinds of unknowable freakazoids. Tanuki tend to land on the “oafish jokester” end of the yokai spectrum… but if you push these jolly goofers too far they’ll retaliate spectacularly! Sounds like a kick-ass Bard to me! Keep reading to see how I’d use D&D’s existing rules to “homebrew” a playable Tanuki, complete with a Level 1 character sheet!

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Seaward!

Get it? “Seaward”?

Hey look! It’s my first non-kaiju post!

First things first! If Jess, Rachel, Julie, Megan, or Shawn are reading this, STOP. Please?! C’mon, be cool!

OKAY GOOD (I hope). I don’t think they read this or even know it exists, but ya never know! Seaward is my first on-going, homebrew Dungeons & Dragons campaign! I’ve written and run a couple one-shots and even ran several sessions of a campaign I was writing, but that sputtered out. A lot of D&D does, in my experience!

Seaward is an adventure designed for players with little-to-no D&D experience, but it’s also intended to be engaging and exciting for more experienced players too. This first post will be a sort of “Session Zero”: an origin story for this campaign, a brief look at my own D&D experience, a rundown of the choices I made and why, plus a slate of cool pre-generated player characters! If that sounds cool to you, and again, you aren’t Julie, Shawn, Megan, Rachel, or Jess, read on, brave adventurer!

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MONSTERS HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD

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[Like I mentioned in my previous post, here’s my incomplete Godzilla vs Kong review! The further along it gets, the more unfinished it is, but I wanted to share what I had before signing off.  After the review I’ll cap it off with a  mess of closing thoughts. Enjoy!]

Godzilla vs. Kong is the movie I have been waiting for since I was a little boy.  Not necessarily this version of the movie, but a big budget, high-profile rematch between my two favorite monsters of all time.  I love these two big mean fuckers on their own, but together?  That’s pure movie magic. Totally audacious, unhinged imagination let loose and exploding on screens all over the planet.  

The more I learned about filmmaking and the more I paid attention to the film industry growing up, the more I came to believe that Godzilla and King Kong would never meet again on the big screen. Even when Legendary announced their plans to build towards this movie, I had my doubts.  A single MonsterVerse flop could easily kill the plan, a global plague could even more easily kill the plan.  And yet!!  And yet here I am, reviewing the movie I’ve hoped for and daydreamed for my whole life and spent over half my life convinced I would never get to see. Not only that, but the rest of the world at large (not just the kaiju fan community!) seems genuinely stoked! True randos were cooking up funny tweets and fan art and speculating about plot details in the lead-up to its release! I told a friend that the release of Godzilla vs. Kong felt like Monster Christmas, he agreed!

w9mn06r6gan61Godzilla vs. Kong, currently the capstone on Legendary Pictures’ ambitious MonsterVerse cinematic universe, has its problems, large and small… but it also delivers all the big, crazy, colorful, joyful, thrilling, scary, gross, and awe-inspiring fun you could ask for in the greatest monster prize fight rematch in history. Just the fact that there’s now a mega-budget, (relative) smash-hit Hollywood blockbuster that has a title starting with “Godzilla vs.” is incredibly exciting. The fact that said title ends with “Kong”?! I’m freaking the fuck out over here, gang. I will be for a long time ūü§£

This won’t be one of my usual reviews. Partly because I’m probably incapable of being objective about this movie (I have pretty bad recency bias on a good day, let alone for a movie I’ve daydreamed about since I was 6), but also because I want to talk about where I’ve been lately, the new kaiju boom we’re living in, and how I’m thinking about some major changes when it comes to my writing and this website. I’ve also been jonesing for an excuse to look back on what this site, the kaiju fandom, and the monsters themselves have really meant to me all this time–MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD was always a deeply personal project, and these last couple years especially have taught me a lot about myself and why these big stompy bastards matter so much to me.  

So this might be a sort-of kind-of a farewell post? Or at least saying farewell to the super in-depth kaiju reviews?  Who knows, I might feel completely differently in the near future and find myself re-inspired to get back to the big meaty reviews!  I’m not in a position to guarantee anything right now–so instead I want to just go with the flow and see where it takes me. Deep down I’ve been itching to pivot away from writing about other peoples’ creations and start writing my own stuff (I’ve threatened friends and family with fan-fic for years), and that’s at least some part of why I’ve had such a hard time getting out reviews the last couple years. Of course I can’t just WALK AWAY when there’s so much kaiju kontent to review, so for this big funky mega-post I will also do micro-reviews of every “Main Monster’s” filmography. For me that means Godzilla, Kong, Gamera, and Ultraman, and probably a few other odds and ends in there too [Had to ditch this, sorry. Maybe someday!]. This is a weird one and a big one and a personal one, so hoist up your glowing nuke-ax, buckle into your H.E.A.V. and grab a barf bag because we’re atomic breath-ing all the way down to the Hollow fuckin’ Earth!

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Villain Monster Flies Away, Human Heroes Reflect on What They’ve Learned, Good Monster Wades off into the Sunset… Until Next Time

“I AM OFFICIALLY STOPPING MY BLOG”, he said, stupidly.¬†¬†

“For sure nobody cares and it’s way weirder that you’re talking about it,” everyone said, correctly but also kind of meanly.¬†¬†

I don’t know, how else do I open this? I’m stepping away from the blog, but I don’t want to leave it on a cliffhanger. I am okay. I’m not trying to be dramatic or anything weird.¬† I’m just ready to move on.¬†

Not from kaiju, of course.¬† I’m still fucking obsessed.¬† I’m currently watching Zyuranger, Mirrorman and Ultraman Trigger. Zyuranger is my favorite of the three, and I like it a fartload more than I ever liked Power Rangers.¬† I know that’s spicy, but I could never get into PR’s Saved by the Bell-ish stories.¬† And their re-contextualizations of the monsters were lame.¬† There’s a micro review for ya! Zyuranger FUCKIN’ SHREDDDDS, MAN.

Hahaha okay, so yeah, I’m not moving on from kaiju, but I am moving on from writing reviews of kaiju media (beyond the occasional tweet).¬† I don’t feel that burning drive to do it anymore, and there are a ton of folks out there covering it faster and more in-depth than I ever could (looking atchoo, Gormaru Island). It’s time to close up shop.¬† I fell hilariously short of my preposterous goals, but I feel good about it anyway.¬† It was fun, I made some friends, and I found even more big beautiful beasts to go batty for.¬† OH HEY A NEW GODZILLA SHORT FILM CAME OUT TODAY

As an out-and-proud Final Wars Fanatic and a Hedorah-ing Hedonist, I am of course overwhelmed with joy. It’s a fun, silly little blast.¬† I made sure to calmly and maturely let Toho know how I felt about the short:

Capture

So I’m stopping the blog, but I’ve got some unfinished writing I want to share. Just for fun, I guess.¬† My notes for the Ultraman episode “My Home is Earth” are a scant few interesting nuggets I mined from IMDB and Wikipedia (and other ‘pedias), but they capture the harrowing, somber spirit of the episode.¬† After that is my partial intro for a Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla¬†(1974) review.¬† I’ve got one more post in me that will be coming soon–the first 75% of a¬†Godzilla vs Kong review plus some closing thoughts.¬† This stuff’s all incomplete–broken links, missing images, unfinished thoughts, placeholder text, all the blood n’ guts–but I’m a bit of a gorehound, so maybe you are too.¬† No matter what, thanks for reading.¬†¬†

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Godzilla Singular Point, Ultraman Z, Titanotober, and More?!?!

singular-pointHey! I’m not dead!¬†¬†

Where are the last two months’ reviews?¬† I’ll tell you: fuckin’ nowhere! Life is hard. Many, many things are total dogshit when it comes to life in 2020, but one of like four things that isn’t a complete, blood-shitting, teeth-grinding nightmare is being a kaiju fan! Holy shit there is so much going on and coming up! It even occasionally makes me hope that our inevitable extinction level event (be it a global ecological catastrophe, World War III, or uh tainted Moon water?) will hold off until…. maybe like 2022 or ’23 (tops).¬†

For October I was considering doing a mini episode round-up of Ultraman Z, the current and absolutely excellent installment of the long-running Ultraman series.¬† Buuuut October also saw the birth of a cool new kaiju art challenge, Titanotober!¬† But it’s also been forever since I reviewed Ultraman ’66 episodes. But also also but I’ve been wanting to review Gamera vs. Guiron for like, the last year or so.¬†

In classic Matt fashion I couldn’t figure out which one to commit to.¬† Throw in long hours at work, maintaining inter-personal relationships (that is, largely failing at maintaining said relationships), the chores and daily duties of everyday life, plus the twin siren songs of Animal Crossing AND Super Mario 3D All-Stars and you have a Voltron of responsibilities and distractions that’s better at eradicating free time better than actual Voltron is at killing off space monsters!

So what?¬† So this time I’m doing something a little different and dipping into a little bit of everything that’s swirling around in the kaijuverse… ESPECIALLY GODZILLA SINGULAR POINT HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU SEEN THIS?!?!?!

If you haven’t, check it out! Then slap the “read more of Matt’s bullshit” button! If you want. You do you.¬† Self care, etc. XOXOXOX

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More Like Afterbirth of Mothra ;( (Part 2 of 2)

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2020 still sucks boiling hot dogshit through a straw made out of electrified razor blades and barbed wire, so let’s ignore it for a little while longer and finish off our deep dive into 1996’s delightfully doofy Rebirth of Mothra!¬† If you missed part 1 of the review you can rub your eyeballs all over it here.

There is SO MUCH more monster moth mayhem to unpack and I can’t wait.¬† I will say this before we pick up the recap where we left off (Desghidorah’s grand entrance): I think this is one of my favorite Heisei-era Toho monster flicks.¬† This movie is way the fuck more solid than it gets credit for.¬† It doesn’t have the earnest sci-fi seriousness of Return of Godzilla, it doesn’t have the astonishingly good practical effects of Godzilla vs. Biollante, and it’s not hilariously, mind-bendingly weird like Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, but it’s got it’s own, different set of goals and nails ’em! More on that and a whole bunch more after the jump!

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More Like Re-Girth of Mothra ;) (Part 1 of 2)

rebirth_of_mothra_poster_1996_02First and foremost, Black Lives Matter, Arrest the Cops that Murdered Breonna Taylor, Defund the Police. Furthermore, Trans Rights, Love is Love, No Human is Illegal. Also, wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance–it doesn’t matter if you’re not at risk for COVID-19, doing those things will save the folks that are.

So uh, everybody having an extremely cool, normal time here in the year or our lord two-thousand and twenty?¬† I’ve been struggling (and failing) to get back on the monthly review train, and living in the middle of a hell shit nightmare garbage world isn’t really helping. BUT some slick new hardware (my very own first ever laptop!) should help me turn that around going forward!

But let’s not dwell on the fact that every time you make the grave error of accidentally paying attention to the news it’s a firehose spraying four hundred quadrillion gallons of boiling hot diarrhea directly into your open eyes, nose and mouth.¬† How?¬† BY REVIEWING A GOOFY-ASS, FEEL-GOOD, KID-FRIENDLY, VERY 90s MONSTER MOVIE MY FRIENDS.

I’m finally digging into the Rebirth of Mothra (or just Mothra in Japan) trilogy here on MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD! Reasonably enough I’m starting with the first entry in the trilogy, 1996’s Rebirth of Mothra.¬† I’ve seen all three entries, but it’s been at least 10¬† years now (probably closer to 15?).¬† Something about these left a… not-awesome taste in my mouth. The taste was so not-awesome that I knew I’d really need to work up some chutzpah to revisit and write at length about these films.

EXCEPT THAT SHIT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT APPLY TO THE FIRST MOVIE.¬† What happened?¬† Did I change?¬† Did the movie change?¬† Is some other movie to blame for this trilogy’s dookie-riffic reputation (HMMM?)?¬† Can Mothra save us from the relentless dogshit hell nightmare reality of 2020?¬† Read on and find out!

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BLACK LIVES MATTER

I pride myself on keeping Monsters Conquer the World a worry-free bubble; a monster-filled refuge from the horrors of everyday life. But with everything that’s happening right now, I MUST make an exception.

#BlackLivesMatter

We must hold our police accountable for their brutality, corruption and continuous abuse of power. Peaceful protesters are out there risking their necks and fighting the good fight, but they need help from EVERYONE in order to keep it up.

Not everyone can march, not everyone can donate money, but there are other ways to support this vital cause. There are petitions to sign, information to share, even ways to help via streaming.

If you’re not sure where to start or just have questions, I recommend https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/¬†. Using this site I was able to quickly and easily donate to the Detroit chapter of The Bail Project. Please do what you can.