Keeping up with the Joneses #46


Darlene found high school quite challenging. She often felt close to burning out.


Clara always looked stylish when she went to work. Declan spent much of his youth wondering just what it was his aunt did for a living.


For an up-and-coming secret agent, Clara didn’t seem to have the best social skills.


In fact, other Sims in the neighbourhood found her rather dull. Perhaps because she couldn’t talk about all her exciting secret missions?


Callie fared somewhat better than Clara in the social department, even though her job required her to be unpleasant to people on a regular basis!


Minifig Monday #30: Fortune Teller


She never thought that anyone would really believe her that she was a psychic. She tried to keep her predictions as vague as possible and let her clients fill in the blanks. She never expected any of them to come true…


This week’s minifig is the fortune teller from series 9, which was released in January 2013.

Minifig Monday is a weekly post in which I feature a random LEGO minifigure from my personal collection. Unless otherwise stated, all minifigs have been photographed by me.

Keeping up with the Joneses #45


After the traumatic destruction of the family dollhouse, Callie decided to add some new toys to Darlene’s playroom. Over the years, the family had amassed a large collection of dolls. They made the playroom feel extra playful.


Meanwhile, Clara was working on becoming the best secret agent she could be. Keeping fit was just one aspect of that.


Darlene still looked up to her brother, but she couldn’t help wonder if he had been the one to trash her beloved dollhouse. She wasn’t brave enough to ask him about it, though, so she would probably never know.


The dollhouse eventually slipped her mind as her birthday arrived.


Darlene grew up into a geeky teenager with romantic aspirations.

Thoughts on the Pathfinder Monk

With Pathfinder Unchained on the way, I’m looking forward to seeing the new rules options and the improvements to some of the classes that are commonly considered problematic (particularly the rogue, monk and summoner). My only dilemma with regards to the new book is whether to go PDF or hardcover!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the ‘normal’ monk. I’ve been running Rise of the Runelords at home for a couple of years now. The player characters are now 15th level and about to start the final chapter. The original party consisted of a sorcerer, a ranger, and a monk. The party currently also includes a ninja.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might also know that this campaign is my first as a game master. No doubt I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but I’ve learnt a great deal about what works and what doesn’t in terms of running a Pathfinder game.

When we started the campaign, we built the player characters with ‘heroic’ ability scores – even the sorcerer had a base strength of 14. This made it quite easy for players to build very strong characters, which I felt was a good thing since there were only three players and they lacked a healer of any sort. As we played through the adventure path, the combination of only 3 PCs with item creation feats led to a high wealth, high magic party.

While this was not really a problem for the players since all three of them were equally powerful, it started to become problematic for me as GM because the encounters in the AP were too easy, despite the fact that they were written for a part of four. Around that time I started reading up about building challenging encounters and discovered that I wasn’t alone, and so I started modifying encounters so they would last more than one or two rounds.

What I found interesting in my reading was seeing all the complaints about the monk, when the main reason I had to modify encounters was because of the monk in the party. He had focused on Strength as his primary stat, meaning he rarely missed enemies, and as such, did a large amount of damage in any round that he was able to flurry. He did less damage per hit than the ranger with his greatsword, but generally their damage per round was comparable.

Then there is the monk’s armour. Even though he doesn’t actually wear armour, his high Wisdom score and decent Dexterity meant that he was all but unhittable, except by bosses and very lucky minions. At higher levels, the Scorpion Style feats allowed him to counterattack every time an attack missed him. Which, as I’ve mentioned, was often. Add in the monk’s insane speed and I had a monk closing the distance to enemies in a round or two and dispatching them in the following round when he could unleash a flurry.

I do think some of the monk’s abilities are kind of weird, like the ability to speak to animals, and I know the monk in my game has very good stats, allowing him to be really good at what he does – that is, pummelling things to death. It’s a running joke at our table that the monk is the master of overkill, as often he’ll only be able to unleash a flurry on an enemy who has already been beaten down by other party members, resulting in impressive negative hit point scores.

My point here is simply that with the right build and some good stats, the normal monk is not that bad. It may not suit everyone as is, but it suits what this player wants to do perfectly. I don’t like to ban options outright – the gunslinger is the only thing specifically banned at my table (love the idea, hate the gun mechanics). Instead I have used this as an opportunity to create all sorts of crazy and potentially deadly encounters.

If you have had positive experiences with often complained about classes like the monk, feel free to share in the comments!

Featured image: Pathfinder monk by TimKings-Lynne on DeviantArt

Random Musings: Role Models

Chatting to one of my high school classes a few weeks ago, somehow (I’m not entirely sure how) the conversation came to a point where I mentioned the character Piper from the TV series Charmed. The blank looks I got made me a little bit sad, though I am getting used to the fact that the students I now teach weren’t even born when I was watching awesome shows like Charmed. That being said, my husband is the same age as me and he had never watched Charmed until I got us the first season on DVD for Christmas.

What I took away from that conversation with my students, however, was the feeling that I got when mentioning Piper Halliwell to them. Watching season 1 of Charmed recently helped remind me of the strong influence the Halliwells had on me growing up. I often think of Buffy and Xena as both my favourite TV shows and my role models growing up (I was particularly obsessed with those two shows), but of course those weren’t they only TV series I watched.

I watched a lot of TV shows growing up, and still do. There’s something about the way characters can be developed over multiple episodes that movies just can’t replicate in the span of two hours. Currently I am really enjoying the Marvel Avengers films, as all the sequels are allowing for some nice character development. But if I think back on the really big influencers in my teenage years, they are almost all from TV shows. There’s Buffy, Xena (and Gabrielle of course), Scully, Samantha Carter, Captain Janeway, and of course the Halliwell sisters (Piper being my favourite)… all of them strong female role models.

I did watch stuff that wasn’t fantasy or science fiction, and that didn’t have female leads, but I don’t think they had as big an impact on me as the characters mentioned above. I believe they helped shape who I am today. Xena, the redeemed character constantly haunted by her dark past; Gabrielle, the ever faithful sidekick who would do anything for her friend; Piper, the woman who managed to have a family and a job plus cool supernatural powers; Sam Carter, smart and tough at the same time… I should probably mention Queen Amidala too: even though she’s not from a TV show, when I was 14, the idea of a 14-year-old queen standing up to all the people who wanted to use her as a pawn was pretty awesome.

I do wonder what kind of role models teenage girls have today. There do seem to be a few more options in movies these days, with Bella in Twilight, Katniss in Hunger Games, Tris in Divergent, and so on, but I must admit I don’t know what TV shows there currently are for teens. Are there characters they will remember 15 years from now and realise what a big impact those characters had on them?

Do you have favourite characters or TV shows from your childhood that really stand out in your mind?

Keeping up with the Joneses #44


Declan and Darlene continued to spend time together.


As Declan grew older, however, Darlene had to find ways to entertain herself. The old family dollhouse (which had originally belonged to Bianca) was one of her favourite toys.


Declan grew up into an outdoor-loving teenager.


Growing up without a father was difficult for Declan. Although his aunt Clara was always there to comfort him, it wasn’t the same.


One day Darlene returned home from school to find that her dollhouse had been destroyed. Who could have done something so horrible?

Minifig Monday #29: Scientist


One day, a young scientist decided to perform her experiments in the park. No one paid her the slightest bit of attention until the fire started. By then it was too late, and she was gone.

“Surely someone noticed what she was doing?” they asked afterwards.

But no one had.


This week’s minifigure is the scientist from series 11, released in September 2013. The little story is my attempt at the Fifty writing challenge, which I found through the Blogging U Writing 101 course.

Minifig Monday is a weekly post in which I feature a random LEGO minifigure from my personal collection. Unless otherwise stated, all minifigs have been photographed by me.