Dungeons and Dragons

Image result for critical role

Image credit: Geek and Sundry

So it is no secret that I have been super into Critical Role a Dungeons and Dragons game shown on Twitch every Thursday night. In the show a bunch of nerdy voice actors sit around and play their game which has been going on for about 5 years. These actors have been prevalent in their careers and many are in shows and video games. They speak and often stay in character for much of the show which plays out much like the radio dramas of the 40s except with improvisation added on top of it.

The ring leader of the entire show is Matthew Mercer, who as the show’s Dungeon Master, has the incredible task of making the world come to life with thrilling story hooks and wondrous and detailed descriptions.

Image result for dungeons and dragons

Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons and Dragons

These wonderful actors have inspired me to start my own campaign of D&D. After watching Matthew Mercer’s DM Tips show on the Geek and Sundry YouTube page I began to scour for more resources on how to be a great Dungeon Master. I stumbled across Matthew Coville’s YouTube and was hit with a cornucopia of wonderful information. I consumed several hours of his wonderful videos learning more and more how to do what I saw Matthew Mercer do seemingly effortlessly.

Which leads me to running my first session. I used some of the advice I had learned from the two “Matt’s” and created a small village for my players to begin in. Then I used the resources from Matthew Coville’s YouTube page to plan my encounters. He has wonderful pre-generated supplements for the Tavern like menu’s and people talking down to story hooks like rewards for Goblin pieces and a Blacksmith’s daughter being taken by goblins.

My first time in the DM’s chair did not run so smoothly. There are many things that I need to keep track of. I decided as I was going that many times, instead of having all of the goblins I payed interacting as individuals, I would have them all go at once for combat purposes. I also used some of the average statistics for some of the monsters, so that I could keep the flow of combat high, in order to keep the players engaged.  There are many challenges to running every character that the players encounter. The players asked me what a character was wearing, which was one thing that I did not have written down and had to improvise. Improvisation is much like a muscle: it gets stronger the more you use it. I took an improvisation class in high school, and that was the last time that I actively improvised to produce a creative product. In many ways I use improv skills at work as a teacher, however it is very different. At least I feel it is… In many ways I feel that I am more comfortable improving to students because I simply know more about a topic than they do. I can usually figure out the answer faster than they can, and even if I can’t “I don’t know, but I’ll look it up,” is an acceptable answer. In the case of D&D, I feel like it is my responsibility to be omnipotent when it comes to this world that I have created, when in reality, I know a lot about a small area. If the players decide to explore an area that I have not designed yet, what do I do then?

Much of my feeling can be summed up in a mechanic of a game I played as a kid. I used to play “Heroes of Might and Magic,” which was a turn based strategy game. When a new game was started, you could see a small portion of the map around your town, and as your Hero moved around the map, more would be revealed. This is very much how I feel about the Realm of Azmar. Image result for heroes of might and magic game map

Image credit: http://www.celestialheavens.com/viewpage.php?id=508

We are continuing the story this Saturday! I have done SO much world building since then. I am really excited for my players to experience this world that I have created for them. I am also really excited for the deeds that they are going to perform that will either temporarily or permanently change this world for better or for worse.

I am interested in doing a vlog debrief after each session. That will be posted over on my DadtheGeek YouTube channel. Also please checkout wethecommittee.wordpress.com and our Stream at twitch.tv/wethecommittee as my friends and I stream our favorite video games. Join us for random fun adventures and be sure to keep up with us on all of our social media accounts. Follow and Like me and The Committee on Facebook and twitter.

Sea World…What is it Good for?

So….Sea World is apparently still a thing, despite the documentary of a couple of years ago Black Fish which did a very large amount of damage to its public image.

My wife actually won tickets to Sea World Orlando on a local radio station by sharing a story. Hers was the most horrible example and therefore won. One of the perks of being a teacher is that teachers get in for free. So that means our entire family would enter for free.

Now if you don’t know what Sea World is, I guess you have been living under a rock. Essentially it is a theme park in which sea animals are either on display or perform behaviors in a sequence as a fun and energetic show.

There seems to be two very different Sea Worlds that exist. The first is the Sea World which exists in the documentary “Black Fish.” For those that have not watched it, “Black Fish” is a documentary which is very critical of Sea World, particularly in their keeping and raising of Orcas, commonly called “Killer Whales.” It points to their “crown jewel” male and star of their breeding program Tilikum. According to the film, this whale is responsible the deaths of several individuals, in particular the rather high profile death of one of the Sea World trainers. The film interviews previous trainers as well as biologists and whale researchers in order to claim that the practice of keeping these animals is inhumane and is in fact abusive to the animal.

The second would be the Sea World that I believed in as a child, which is the Sea World which is trying to save the world. As a child I took several field trips and day trips to Sea World and I always left feeling inspired. They would always talk about recycling and caring for the environment. They would also speak all of their conservation effort. One attraction in particular is a haven for manatees. These creatures are rescued from boating accidents and are taken to Sea World for recovery. After being nursed back to health, they are released into the wild and are often tagged so that they can be tracked for scientific purposes. Other examples are plentiful, especially when visiting the parks. In some places of the park, videos are put on loops of the teams rescuing ocean wildlife, such as dolphins or sea turtles.

It was during one of the rides that I had a very powerful experience. It might seem silly, but since I was a kid, my favorite animal has been the penguin. I have loved many different species, but have always been partial to the rock-hopper penguin. So when the opportunity arrived to ride a penguin themed ride, I jumped at the chance.

I can remember the previous times that I had been to Sea World, that the penguin house had simply been a small pavilion with a small moving walkway which carried visitors past the simple habitat which was simply a window which showed a bunch of penguins huddled what seemed like 15-20 ft away.

This time, there was a ride, a cool ride! We got to experience the life of a juvenile penguin. At the very end, the car comes face to face with what seems like a solid wall of rick, which falls out of the way revealing a glass wall looking into the live penguin habitat. This is all that I thought I was going to get, but the ride kept moving…turned a corner to the debarkation area, which was really cold. After getting out of the ride car, and noticing that I was freezing cold, I looked up and saw more of the penguin habitat and only a half wall separating myself from the animal that I had loved since I was a young boy. Here were penguins, real live penguins! I suddenly was aware that they were close enough to touch! I started to feel freezing water droplets on my arm and noticed that there were several penguins who were interested in these new creatures standing before them, and were splashing them [us].

The experience was life changing! I believe in Sea World again. I have solidified my belief in conservation. I think that there is still some work to be done in zoology, however I believe in my heart that Sea World has their heart in the right place when it comes to all of the work that they are doing for the Conservation movement.

I can feel that my life is going to be moving in some different directions in the coming months and years. Please let me know your thoughts on this subject in the comments below. Also please join the conversation on our social media accounts. Please Like us on Facebook and Follow on Twitter.

Photo credit: Huffington Post (http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2013-11-04-Empire1-thumb.jpg)

Tampa Bay Comic Con!!

We are excited to announce that all of us here at We the Committee (my new project) will be present for Tampa Bay Comic Con! Because of the Con, we do need to change some of our programming, therefore there will not be an episode of “Friday Night Cannon Fodder” on August 5th. The 3rd episode will be broadcast LIVE on Friday Aug. 12th at 8pm EST. We may also have to push back our first “Committee Meeting,” but we’ll see! 

If you haven’t already please check out this new venture over at WeTheCommittee.wordpress.com. Please Follow and Like us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates. If you are planning on going to the convention in Tampa, let us know in the comments below. If you are in the Tampa area on Aug 5-8th, hit up our social media and maybe we can meet and raise our glasses at one of the nighttime events!

4 Essentials for Training for a 5k

So you want to get back in shape? Awesome!  You want to get into running or your company is organizing a charity 5k? Even better! Luckily I just ran my first 5k just recently. Let me show you where to start. Here are my 4 geeky essentials for training successfully for a 5k.

1.  The Running App 

First things first, we need to have an app to keep track of your progress. While there are several out there, I have continued to land on an old standard, the Nike+Running app.  To put it simply, I enjoy the aesthetics and feel for this app. It has also stayed free to use all of the features, which some of the other competition has not. I also like the fact that you can link shoes to specific runs. Keeping track of the miles that you are putting on your shoes is actually very important as parts of the shoe may be wearing out before they seem visually worn out.  Another plus to the Nike+ app, is the fact that you can pick a “Power Song” which you can trigger during the hardest part of your run at the push of a button. The right beat at the right time could be incredibly helpful.

2.  The Health App

excercise is only a part of the health equation. In order to keep you on track in your diet as well as keeping an overall picture of your health, you need a health tracker.  Apple’s Health app does an alright job of managing the database of the health data gathered by your phone.  I however like to see the data presented in a way in which makes sense, and can be seen at a glance.  Azumio’s Argus app is that and more.  It accesses the step counter from your phone to count your steps, calculates your basal calories (calories burned by your body, simply by existing), and it keeps track of the nutritional information of the food you eat.  Food can be entered in a variety of ways; by creating a recipe, search or by scanning the bar code on the food’s packaging. Two of the coolest Argus features are the ability of the app to record your pulse using the phone’s camera, and the ability to monitor your sleep using the phone’s accelerometer. Which ever app you choose, you MUST get a full picture of your health, not just the things that you are doing to exercise.

3.  The Plan

The main thing that helped me was using a plan.  I am terrible when it comes to making a decision. My personality type makes me seem somewhat indecisive, simply because I am very much of the “measure twice cut once” mentality.  The fact that I got on a plan, and now my workouts were chosen for me was a big plus. It let me get out of my head and start to move around. Also a plan creates a baseline for data to be collected during your workouts.  Get on a plan, take the guesswork out of your workout, so that you can focus on working hard and finishing strong.

4.  Get up and Move

This is what it all comes down to. You have to put in the work in order to see the results.  There are going to be days when you feel amazing and everything is going well. Cherish those days!  Conversely there will be days when you will feel terrible (usually the afternoon or day after you ate something unhealthy). Those are the days when it is 10x more important to get out there and move!  If you are on a plan, you don’t have to focus on what it is you have to do, you can just focus on getting through the workout.  Get out there and get it!

Have I missed something? What would you add or delete from the list? Let me know in the comments section. Also if this list was helpful to you let me know in the comments or tweet at me @dadthegeekblog.

It’s #TransformationTuesday

Another Tuesday is here, so that means it is time for an update on my personal goals for the year!

Running has been going really well. I have been following the plan laid out in the app that I am using. I have been using the Nike+ app. The “Coach” function sets out with a plan after you enter the kind of race you would like to train for (5k, half, or full marathon). As of today I am down about 12 pounds from when I started running.

I have also signed up for a local 5k race. It should be a great time, and will be my 2nd race ever. It is a point to point which means you don’t run in a circle. It should be a great time, and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to it.

I also have been working on BB-8. I have gathered a parts list ,according to the parts that a fellow builder has used. I am quickly realizing that this is going to be a very expensive endeavor unless I can come up with some alternatives to his design. I priced out his version of the internal pieces for the ball, and it comes out to a hefty $802. I am thinking that I will get a job over the summer in order to offset the cost of building the droid. I did get a chance yesterday to briefly check out a local store which has a ton of spare parts and is a popular spot with the local R2D2 builders club. 

Things are going well on other fronts too. Let me know what you are doing to better yourself this year in the comments section below! Also be sure to check out my Facebook and Twitter. Also follow me on Instagram  and Periscope @dadthegeekblog.

Transformation Tuesday Update

So a few weeks ago I posted that I would be posting updates to several of my goals for the year on Tuesdays going forward. It has been a couple of weeks but I wanted to give an update on them. 

The first is my weight. I am happy to report that I have begun training for a local 5k. In doing so I have began to loose weight. I am excited by the prospect of beginning to loose more weight and get healthier. I do have a little bit of a larger goal. My sister and mother recently completed a half marathon. I am hopefully looking to begin to keep up with the pack so to speak. I would love to be able to get in good enough shape to run in a half marathon with my sister and mom. 

The other thing that I am working on is putting together my parts list for building a fully functional BB-8. There are many great builders who are a part of the BB-8 Builders Club on Facebook, but there is one builder who’s has made the best build in my opinion. The even better part is that he has made his build public on his website. Check him out here. Just like him, I plan on making my build public by posting videos of my build and tests of the mechanics. 

Let me know what you are working on for your Transformation Tuesday in the comments below. Also check out my Facebook and Twitter. Also follow me on Instagram @dadthegeek and Tumblr @dadthegeek.