Getting Thickbox and Meebo to Play Nice on WordPress.com

thickboxmeeboproblemexampleFor those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Thickbox is a javascript program that allows for displaying images, webpages, etc. in a popup frame over top the page, similar to lightbox and shadowbox. It’s a useful script which is even used by WordPress itself for things like theme previews for self-hosted blogs. Currently WordPress.com users can access Thickbox functions by putting the Socialvibe widget in their sidebar. The Thickbox functions can then be accessed, in their most basic form by adding class=”thickbox” inside the anchor tags for links, and most of the functionality on the Thickbox page is able to be used in WordPress.com blogs.

However Thickbox has a known issue where it will often appear underneath flash elements on webpages. Now there are documented fixes for this issue but they require the user to specify the wmode of the flash elements to transparent or opaque and specifying the z-index of the flash elements to something lower than Thickbox’s z-index. Now if your blog is on WordPress.com you can’t do those things. Luckily it seems some flash elements have been fixed by the WordPress team already, such as youtube videos placed into posts with the youtube shortcode. But one offender is blatantly not fixed, the MeeboMe widget.

Now this is a real shame, because if you want to use the MeeboMe widget it has to be on the sidebar, which depending on your theme means every Thickbox everywhere is going to end up under MeeboMe, and you’d just have to hope your readers are intelligent enough to scroll up or down enough to get the Thickbox to come out from under the widget, but what a pain that is. However I have come up with a solution for this quandry that works for me. More Thickboxes! Since Thickboxes can display other things than just images, like HTML files, we can use Thickbox as a container for the MeeboMe widget. Then instead of using the MeeboMe sidebar widget we can use the text widget to create a button that opens up a Thickbox with the MeeboMe widget inside of it. This way the MeeboMe widget only appears when the reader clicks on the button to IM you, leaving your other Thickboxed content to roam free without  MeeboMe appearing on top of it.

To accomplish this the first thing you’ll need is some webspace of your own to host a single HTML file. How much space? The HTML file is only going to be one 1KB in size. Some ISPs will give you a small amount of webspace which could be used and there are a number of free hosts out there that might work as well. It doesn’t have to be fancy just as long as it can support a simple HTML file. Once you have your webspace up you’ll need to make an HTML file with your MeeboMe widget inside. If you haven’t done this yet you can goto the MeeboMe website to get this code.  If you’ve already setup your MeeboMe widget then you’ll need to log into your Meebo account, and then click on Preferences > MeeboMe Widgets and copy the HTML code for the widget you want to use. Once you’ve done that open up a plain text editor, such as Notepad, and copy the MeeboMe embed code into it. Next save the file but instead of saving it as a .txt file save it as a .html file. For my example I named my HTML file “meebomewidgetpage.html”. If you do this right then you should be able to goto the directory where you saved the file and then you should be able to open the file and a blank webpage with the MeeboMe widget inside will open.

Once that is finished your next step is to upload the HTML file to your own webspace. Next make sure you know what the address of the file is on your webspace. It’s usually a good idea to try writing in the http:// address manually into your browser and making sure you can pull up the HTML file you made up in your browser. Once you have that done you’ll need to goto your WordPress.com blog and goto your blog’s Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets and drag the Text widget into your sidebar. (If you still have the old MeeboMe widget in your sidebar you’ll probably want to remove it at this time.) Once you’ve done that you need to use the text widget to create a link, using HTML markup, to the HTML file you uploaded onto your webspace earlier. You then need to click the save button in the text widget to save the link that will become your new MeeboMe widget button.

Now that you know how to use the text widget to create this button to access the MeeboMe widget you need to know exactly what HTML code to put into the text widget. Here’s an example using my own MeeboMe widget. Don’t be intimidated by the long HTML code, we’ll break it down into parts in the next section.

HTML Code Output Example
<a class=”thickbox” title=”Click outside this box to close” href=”http://furluge.heliohost.org/etc/meebowidgetpage.html?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=290&width=190&#8243; target=”_self”>Click me to launch MeeboMe!</a> Click me to launch MeeboMe!

Now let’s break down the HTML code into parts so it’s easier to understand. First of all this piece of HTML code is an <a> tag, or anchor tag, used to make a link, the same as if you used the visual editor to create a link. However this particular link has had a few things added to it to effect how Thickbox interacts with it. First class=”thickbox” tells the Thickbox script that we want to use it to open the link inside of a Thickbox. Second title=”Click ouside this box to close” has been added to display the caption that appears on top of the Thickbox when you click the link. This has been added due to  a problem in the way the Thickbox is implemented on WordPress.com where the icon won’t appear when you’re inside a post or a page. This isn’t a big problem for images because you just click anywhere in the page to close it, but since we’re displaying an HTML file that you click inside of the Thickbox won’t close if you click inside of it, so this caption has been added to make things easier on your users, and it is also completely optional. Next you’ll see the href=”http://furluge.heliohost.org/etc/meebowidgetpage.html?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=290&width=190&#8243; This is what the link actually referres to. The web address should look familiar to anyone who’s typed a web address into a browser. When you do this for your blog you need to change http://furluge.heliohost.org/etc/meebowidgetpage.html to the address of the HTML file you made earlier, otherwise your readers are going to end up sending all their IMs to me, and as much I like you, that’s just asking too much. 😛 The second part of the link ?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=290&width=190 is something added for working with Thickbox. The ?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true part tells Thickbox that we want to open an HTML file in our Thickbox. The &height=290&width=190 part of it specifies the height and width of the Thickbox we’re opening. I’ve found the height and width settings in the example to be perfect for fitting the standard size MeeboMe widget and accomidating the “block” tab from the popular Adblock Plus Mozilla addon adds on top of the MeeboMe widget. Next target=”_self” just makes the Thickbox appear in the current browser window instead of opening a new window. Lastly the part that says Click me to launch MeeboMe! is what the link looks like to the reader, and can be replaced by anything you like, most commonly an image. An easy way to get the right HTML code for an image is to simply insert an image you want into the visual editor and then to goto HTML tab and then cut and paste the code inside the anchor tag for the link.

A lot of work, I know, but once you have it down pat you can use a little HTML, the text widget, and a little time in your favorate graphics editor to create a snazzy little MeeboMe button like the one you see below.

HTML Code Output Example
<a title=”Click outside this box to close” href=”http://furluge.heliohost.org/etc/meebowidgetpage.html?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=290&width=190&#8243; target=”_self”><img title=”Meebo-Icon-IM-button” src=”https://furlugedepot.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/meebo-icon-im-button.png&#8221; alt=”Meebo-Icon-IM-button” width=”220″ height=”32″ /></a> Meebo-Icon-IM-button

Feel free to copy, save, and upload that button image to your own blog for use in your own blogs.  Unfortuantely if you want an icon that matches your own theme you’ll need to make one yourself. Enjoy your new Thickbox friendly MeeboMe button!

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Commissioned Art from John Becaro

John Becaro is as great comic book artists from the Philippines who can be found at deviant art and does some amazing commissions with a very fast turnaround time. Back in May I commissioned four pieces of art from him, and with the last one complete I’ve decided to share them all here for all of you. If you like the art please let John know on his Deviantart account by clicking on the relevant title link to goto the deviantart posting for the piece.

Kali Erinyes Apollinaris
Kali Erinyes Apollinaris
Zincarla Fencer vs. Kali
Zincarla FencervsKali

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Mr. Captain Man reviews Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago

Mr. Captain Man has just completed his review of Redoubt Operations #1: Fires over Kalago on the official City of Heroes forums. With his permission here is a copy of his review posted here on the Depot for your reading pleasure.

Redoubt Operations # 1: Fires over Kalago, Arc ID 1297, by @Andromeda. Very long (1 small, 1 unique, 2 medium maps). 48 plays, 4 stars as I start. Description tells of Impervium deposits in Africa sparking tensions. An organization called Redoubt is asking for help from superhumans. There’s a link to a ‘Virtueverse’ link. I put that in inverted commas because up until I googled it 10 minutes ago, I had no idea what the Virtueverse is (hit my 57 month vet badge this week folks ). For anyone out there who doesn’t know what it is, it’s a ‘library of fan created original content for the City of heroes MMORPG virtue server’, according to the ‘about’ section on http://virtueverse.com. So it’s an RP thing, then

Now, although my home server is Freedom, I’m not averse to the odd bit of roleplaying. I popped over to its site to see if there was anything I needed to know to better enjoy the arc, but it warned me that it was basically a huge spoiler article. It was related to a few more articles, namely one

on a specific character’s timeline,the fictional Southern African country Kalago, the organisation Redoubt,the bad guys page, and a wikipedia page on the chichewa language.

After seeing all that without reading it I am in somewhat of a conundrum. Do I play through and then read, or read first and then play, or just play?

I opted to start playing, and if I was getting into any difficulty, then I knew where to go for a chichewan phrasebook or the shoe size of Emperor Surtr or what have you.

Oh, the arc is lvl 20-35, so I’ll be using Tommy Atkins, my lvl 31 MA/SR scrapper.

“Africa. The last time I was in Africa was durin’ the war. No, not that war, the WAR. World War II. Before I ended up ‘ere, o’ course. Yeah, I did a bit of me service in Africa. Course, that was North Africa, in Tobruk on Operation Crusader. Never bin back…until last week…

“A mate of mine at the UN, Paddy O’ Toole, put me in contact with a Lieutenant Commander Gilgamesh of a UN sub-organisation called REDOUBT. Stands for a mouthful, an’ no mistake. Peacekeepers, they say they are. Needed a bit o’ superhuman muscle ter ‘elp ‘em with a problem in Southern Africa…seems some country in the interior discovered Impervium deposits, ‘an…well, where there’s bubble there’s trouble, as me mam used ter say. The Prime Minister ‘ad bin kidnapped by a bunch of Sky Raider mercenaries workin’ fer a Separatist group.

“They were keepin’ ‘im in a cargo ship in a place called Kbamba bay. Prime Minister Sizwe was in that ship, an’ I ‘ad ter get ‘im out. Fair enough…Gilgamesh couldn’t ‘ave read me file very closely, ‘e seemed ter think I wasn’t used ter extraction missions…I’d soon put ‘im straight…

Mission 1: Rescue Prime Minister Sizwe

“After a long, dull plane flight, I was chucked out over Kbamba Bay at 20,000 feet. Makes my eyes, water, does free-fall. Still, it’s quicker than usin’ a chute, an’ over water there’s no need really…keepin’ an eye on me target ship was the difficult bit. After I’d ‘it the drink, I surfaced and swam ter the ship…a quick shimmy up the anchor chain an’ a little bop on a guard’s noggin’, an’ I was in…

“I squatted on a gantry an’ ‘ad a dekko at the interior of the ship…

“Raiders everywhere…sneakin’ through was goin’ ter be difficult. Fightin’ me way through shouldn’t be too ‘ard, though – there’s only so many bad guys you can fit on a ship, after all…I took a deep breath an’ piled on!

“You ever bin on a picnic with jam sandwiches, an’ the news gets out ter every bee in a ten mile radius that grub’s up? That’s what I felt like. It was nuts! They must ave bin getting’ danger money for this lark, cos they weren’t bein’ shy about ‘avin’ a go, I can tell yer. I usually goes fer the engineers first, before they can activate those bloody force field generators, but with this amount of goons it was difficult even pickin’ em out of the masses! An’ with the bloomin’ teleporters jumpin’ in and out addin‘ ter the chaos, mostly I just kept me ‘ead down and biffed anything that was close…

[Awesome fun!]


“I worked me way through the ship, buildin’ up a sweat, an’ after wadin’ through a sea of Sky Raiders, I found the PM. ‘E was in a spot of trouble, looked like. I soon ‘ad ‘im out of it. Once the bad guys were snoozin’, I checked ‘e was ok, and we started ter make our way back ter the exit…

[The PM says ‘did you hear that?’ to give a heads up to the ‘Enemy Infiltrator’ spawning back on the way, but I’m not sure exactly what ‘that’ is lol.]

“We jogged back through the ship, but soon found our way blocked by some newcomers…geezers in purple armour, either robots or armoured humans, I’m not sure…but they were in our way. I told Sizwe to lie low while I dealt with em. They were a bit tasty, I don’ mind admittin’, an’ half way through the fight a load of their mates turned up! It was a bit dicey for a while…

[Yikes! The initial spawn wasn’t too bad, but then the ambushes arrived! I had to leave the PM there whilst I retreated to recover. I didn’t die, and Tommy loves ambushes, but it felt slightly wrong in terms of the plot to leave the Prime Minister there while I ran off. Technically, they could have grabbed him and had it away on their toes before I got back. Not much you can do about that, though. I’m not suggesting removing the ambushes, anyway.]

“…but not too dicey. After that, it was a short jog to the exit, and the extraction team took Sizwe off me ‘ands…

“Gilgamesh said that the purple blokes were members of a group called The Mechanius Imperium…how come bad guys always choose the stupidest names for their gangs? With a header like that, you’ve gotta expect an Emperor somewhere, right? Self-proclaimed, I bet.

“Anyway, Gilgamesh was worried about the civvies in Kalago’s capital, Lilongsa. Seein’ as ‘ow I was already near, I offered ter go an’ lend an ‘and…

[The briefing etc could make a little more of the fact that I’m already in Kalogo; it seems to suggest that I’ve left there?]

Mission 2: Save the Citizens of Lilonga

“Gilgamesh gave me a file on the Maniac Imperium, as I call ‘em, an’ it turned out they were robots. The group sees itself as an ‘emergent nation of AIs’, it said in the report. I didn’t think much of their diplomacy so far.

“Lilongsa was a madhouse. Gunfire, the screams of energy weapons…the Redoubt heli swooped in low and dropped me off in a position on the edge of town…I ‘opped over a wall and jogged down an alley, then popped me ‘ead out…and ran into a patrol of the purple robot blokes engaged in a full on barney with some sky raiders! Straight into it, as usual!

[oops lol. I saw three mobs a little way away, thought I had CJ on, leapt at them, and SJed way over them and into a massive battle between the MI and the SR!]

“So there I was, neck deep in rampaging robots and the bloody Sky Raiders. I was spoilt fer choice fer targets! The raiders were easy enough, buncha woofs the lot of em. Those robot buggers were a bit ‘arder ter deal with, but, well, when yer bin through D-Day…

[That fight was fantastic. It felt like Rikti Invasion, the sheer number of mobs around me. I was hovering around a quarter health for the last half of the fight. Great fun]

“After that, I took a breather and surveyed what I could see of the city…it was a warzone…I could see a civilian off towards the central square; hiding from the battle…I loped down the slope and into it again, fighting my way to her through the marauding machines and the mercenaries squabblin’ over the territory…bloody bastards, the both sets…why can’t people be left alone ter live their lives, eh? Some little country wins the geological jackpot, gets a chance ter make summink fer itself, an’ the jackboot ‘ordes comes crawlin’ outta the woodwork. Makes me bloody angry…this robot ‘nation’…no home country of its own, so it thinks it can just take one from someone weaker, eh? Not if I’ve got anything ter say about it…

“When I got near to the civilian, I nodded to ‘er ter stay down, an’ cleared an area around ‘er. When she was relatively safe, I ‘ad a think about what ter do with ‘er…I couldn’t take ‘er with me, it was too dangerous. I told ‘er ter keep ‘er ‘ead down, an’ I’d try ter clear a bigger area…those bloody metal sods ‘ad got me right wound up, I’d be ‘appy ter put a dent in their army…

[Tommy’s angry enough to Clear All, and I’m having enough fun to stick with it too.]

[On a more serious note, the rescuees stay where they are after the rescue. I know there’s an issue with hostages on outdoor maps, but it still looks a bit odd for them to calmly stand hands on hips after rescue with more mobs in sight. Maybe you could do something with their dialogue and animations that would help?]

“Street by street…yard by yard…through the shattered ruins of people’s ‘ouses…me fists pounding metal, me knuckles bleedin’, the stink of oil an’ the screech of servos…they found out what ‘appens if yer mess with one of Monty’s boys!

“…I rescued more civilians that afternoon, but not enough…the damn robots and the raiders didn’t care about the civvies in the way of their bloody fight…

[The battles that are spotted around the map are great, but I wish the trigger distances for them were shorter; often I’d see them happening in the distance but they’d be over by the time I’d fought my way to them. Have you filled the map with as many as you can? Is it possible to trigger more from rescues?]

“Eventually, I stood, pantin’, atop a pile of mangled metal an’ dead raiders, sweat drippin’ off me brow an’ blood drippin’ off my fists…this district of Lilongsa was reclaimed…

[I enjoyed that mission, but I think the atmosphere of a city under total attack could be enhanced if the briefing/debriefing made a little more reference to other heroes and/or Redoubt rescuing other civilians in other sectors of the City. I rescued I think 6 civilians, which is a little small scale for what I think you’re trying to suggest. Top fun all the same]

“After that I sat in a medical tent whilst a medic bound me poor knuckles…but I didn’t ‘ave a very long rest. Gilgamesh was on the blower; two of the civilians I’d rescued weren’t civilians at all, but Imperius robots. Two ‘alves of a gestalt wossname, ‘e said. I didn’t pay much notice, tell the truth…I was knackered. But I was the closest superhuman ter the firebase where they were, and they’d started teleportin’ in more Mechanius troops. That firebase was where the Prime Minister was…Well, it wouldn’t ‘ave bin the first time I’d ‘ave rescued a prime Minister twice in one day…time was pressin’, so I got me skates on…

Mission 3: Reclaim Redoubt Firebase 572

“Bloody ‘ell, this was a tall order…I ‘ad 90 minutes before the timelock on the base central core opened an’ the Metal Empire forces could swarm the place. I ‘ad ter get ter those two agents who were teleportin’ the troops in…I wasn’t sure ‘ow many floors there were, an’ there was no way I could sneak through…I ‘ad ter plow me way through them, one punch at a time…So I buckled down an’ started plowin!

[lol 90 minutes, and the briefing seems to suggest that it’s going to be a Clear All…Once I’m inside, the Nav instruction is to Defeat a boss and then Defeat Remaining Enemies…I’m clearing as I go anyway, but I wonder how much time I’ll have. From the looks of the map it’s not a big one]

“As I fought me way onward and upward through the base, I played the wheelbarrow game…yer know what that is? It’s a game ter make borin’ work go by faster…say yer got a hundred bricks ter move, an one wheelbarrer, that takes 20 bricks. Yer load it up, and move the 20, and while yer on yer way back yer think ter yerself ‘alright, I’ve moved 20 out of 100, which is a fifth of everythin’an’ I’ve got 80 left, which means I’ve already done a quarter of what I’ve got left, an’ if I does what I’ve already done, namely another 20, then I’ll ‘ave 60 left, which is only 3 times as much as what I[‘ve done already…’ – yer get me now? All that thinkin’ takes time, yer see, an’ before yer know it there’s another 20 gone, an’ you ‘ave ter change all the maths, an

that takes more time…

“Anyway, while I was deckin’ them metal bastards, I was thinkin’ ‘it takes me around…4…5…6 seconds ter take out one of these metal gits, so that’s 12 a minute, an’ I got 90 minutes left, which is just over a thousand…I ‘ope there ain’t more than a thousand of ‘em in ‘ere’…”

[The maps not too big at all…on the third floor, after about 15 minutes, I find the EB. I’m glad of the generous time limit now, because she takes a few trips back to the vendor for inspirations…]

“I finally emerged from the last elevator to find the main mare and her company tooled up and ready for aggro. The door was there, tickin’ away…She was a big bird, this one…and packed a wallop too…Still, as Benny ‘ill says, I like em big! She was a bit of an ‘andful, but I gave ‘er a spankin’ in the end…I ripped one of ‘er arms off, an’ was about ter beat ‘er about the face with it when the bint teleported away! Then, though, polishin’ off ‘er mates was easy peasy…well…relatively…After that, I just let meself slide ter the floor an’ wait fer the doors ter open…maybe there was a cuppa on the other side of the door…

[Quite a hard fight, that. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a Big Bad in the end mission that’s worse than Kali…if there is, I might have problems ]

“Well, there was a cuppa, thankfully, an’ I needed it after that bird’s little love taps, but it was awful, and at any rate, the Redoubts techies were all over me like a rash askin’ question’s an’ naggin’ me fer intel. I directed ‘em ter the wreckage of the bird’s arm…then I ‘ad a kip.

“An hour later I was woken by Gilgamesh. They’d been able ter isolate a location from somethin’ in or one the arm, it seemed. The location of the Animaniacs base. An’ they wanted me ter go in an’ close it down fer good…there was a teleport node in there that’d need smashin’ inter bits, fer starters, an’ the leaders of this assault too. In fer a penny, eh?

Mission 4: Thwart the Mechanius Imperium Invasion

“Underground. That’s where the base was…under flamin’ ground. I’m built fer caves, me, on account o’ bein’ so short. I made me way in, an’ almost immediately bumped into that bloke from the ship.

“‘E was a bit put out ter see me, an ‘is mood got worse when I smashed his face in! ‘E called fer ‘elp, the big pyjama, so I smashed their faces in too. I’d only bin in there fer 20 seconds! Gordon Bennet!

[lol I had to use all my inspirs up on that ambush, but it was worth it. Rather an unexpected event so close to the entrance, but not unwelcome.]

“I ‘ad a little stretch after that, an carried on…the mechs got a bit thin on the ground fer a while, which was nice, but then I found a cavern with some of ‘em torturin’ a sky raider. I’m no friend of mercenaries, but ‘e was a human, I guess, so I sorted him out. ‘E offered ter ‘elp me, but I left ‘im behind whilst I scouted ahead. In a huge room, I found the teleport node thing. I tell yer, those tinmen did NOT want Tommy ter smash up their toy…waves of the little buggers kept swarmin’ inter the room…fist fodder, they were…

[actually, the ambushes would have been a killer but for the happy fact that the node was conning purple (lvl 35), and so I was easily able to take its destruction slowly, and so not get all the ambushes at once. Higher levels who can one or two-shot the node would get all the ambushes at once, which might prove a handful. As it was for Tommy, each ambush was just right. The fights were tense but not too hard.]

“With ‘er teleport gzmo in bits an’ one of ‘er arms missin on account o’ yours truly, I was pretty sure that that bird would be more than peeved at me…I set out ter see if I could make ‘er day a bit worse…

“…and sure enough, when I found ‘er, she ‘ad a look on ‘er face like a bulldog chewin’ a wasp. I went back ter the Sky Raider an’ asked if ‘e’d like ter give ‘er some payback, ‘an ‘e was in like a shot. We made our way back ter where she was, and the both of us went at her at the same time…

[I’ve got a full set of inspirations, and Captain Klink. Hopefully, he’ll be able to tip the scales…]

“What a pain in the jacksie that metal bint was! ‘Er lost arm didn’t seem ter worry ‘er none. It was ‘ard goin, really. Klink put up a good shuftie, I gotta be fair, but it was touch an’ go fer a while…when she started flaggin’ she called fer her mates, an’ we ‘ad ter retreat around the corner so’s we didn’t get swamped. Once she was back on ‘er own, though, it was just a matter of time…

[Klink did help a lot, but I had to be careful to let him take the agro off me, and he also needed a bit of management cos he’s only a lieut. The ambush looked set to wipe us out tbh, but I think we were saved by pure luck; she seemed to stop attacking us for a little while, and I took care of the ambush whilst she sort of stood there. Odd.]

“Well, that was that…the Redoubt squads flooded in, an’ Klink was carted off ter be interrogated. With the Mechanius fought off, Kalago looked safer. The Raiders withdrew from the place too. With a little bit ‘o luck the country could get back on its feet again…an’ I could go ‘ome…for an actual proper cup of tea…”

[end]

Right. This is a good solid arc that gave me a load of fun, basically.

Positives: The Sky Raiders were perfect for Tommy, really, and your customs could have been designed with him in mind. The customs also look really nice and their bios are detailed. The maps were well received and the objectives were appropriate. All the various text fields are present. I especially liked Missions 1 and 2.

Negatives: There were a few very minor typos here and there. Kali was a little bit annoying, taking just a very little bit longer to down than would have been perfect. And the civilian evacuation mission needs a bit of tweaking IMO.

Overall, though, a solid arc that Tommy and I enjoyed very much. I’ll be playing the next one on the basis of this.

I thought about what rating I felt it deserved for quite a while. The arc, as I said, was very enjoyable to play. However, the story itself, and the writing that delivers it is not quite up there with the stuff that has really grabbed me by the balls and/or the heart, and so I couldn’t grant a 5 I’m sorry.

If we could rate out of 10, it would be on the cusp of 8 and 9, and I’d be moaning about not being able to rate out of 20.

As it is, I gave it 4 stars because although the playing was funfunfun, the feeling wasn’t totally there.

Suggestions: I think mission 2 is where you could really sink the Player into the personal disaster of a city of civilians under attack. Those hostages you rescue are a bit faceless tbh, and giving them more emotionally engaging dialogue could really make it stand out more as an emotional experience as well as a great gaming one.

Eco.

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Eureka has More Red Shirts than a JCPenny

The Eureka Deathrow -er Cast.

The Eureka Death Row-er cast.

Eureka has got to be one of my favorite shows on TV. It’s not a crappy law show, it’s not another law and order rip off, and it’s not another boring medical drama. It’s something different, and it has a nice light-hearted tone to it with plenty of interesting character development going on between the episodes, but something’s been bothering me for a while now. For being a mostly comedic and light hearted show people sure do die a lot in that show. I mean they don’t get through a single episode without killing off some random guy, and usually they average about 3-5. And the people that are dying in the show aren’t just these joe-schmoe enlisted guys like some other shows, no these are supposed to scientists who are so amazingly good at what they do they need to be moved to a top-secret Andy Griffith copy town so they can do their super-secret science stuff. And yet it seems they can barely manage to not melt themselves with projects they themselves are uberexperts about. I mean do you think Bill Gates is in deadly peril each day of melting his brain with his super-ultra-alpha copy of Windows 8? But yet the good super scientists of Eureka spend each day proving Darwin correct by melting themselves with super abraxo, drinking cups of magical drowning water, and erasing themselves from existence on a regular basis. What in the world is up with that?

And do you know what makes it so annoying? None of these super geniuses is capable of noticing things like, “Hey the magical super-expanding water is coming out of the dead people, so it’s related!” without the Andy Griffith Sherif, Jack Carter, to point out the bloody obvious to them. Apparently when you become a super genius you lose important survival skills, like not running with scissors, not lighting yourself on fire, and not repeating things you see on TV with “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” written on it. It’s so bad that one episode they build a robot to replace Jack and the robot is completely unable to compute just how dumb the things these people would try are and needs Jack to walk him through the tide of scientists trying to blow up the earth for shits and giggles. Maybe they think the earth’s core is filled with candy or something like some kind 0f dirty pinata.

Now don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy this show. But the show’s writers are really asking me to swallow a lot of stupid stuff to make the show’s concept work. And I’m ok with that if the ride’s great. And the Eureka ride is great, I just wish they wouldn’t keep super-size my helping of fried disbelief each week.

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Horatio Harpell

Ello. My name's Horatio Harpell, but my friends call me HH. Would you like to be my friend?

Ello. My name's Horatio, Horatio Harpell, but my friends call me HH. Would you like to be my friend?

Horatio Harpell is the name of my Wizard Character in the RPGA Living Forgotten Realms campaign. Horatio is a fun, light-hearted character that lends himself well to a wide variety of jokes and 4th-wall-breaking jokes. Horatio is based in the themes of the Harpells as described by R. A. Salvatore and described in “The North” book for Forgotten Realms written for AD&D. So are these Harpell fellows and why is this important? Here’s what “The North” has to say about the Harpells.

Because of the ranching trade, the ranchers would control Longsaddle, were it not for the capricious, magically mighty Harpell clan. For generations, the Harpells have brought Longsaddle an importance in the North far greater than its size and purpose would warrant. The Harpells are mages and members of the Lord’s Alliance. This tradition began with mighty Authrar Harpell, who was famous in the North an age ago for single-handedly destroying an onrushing orc horde with spells. More recently, Malchor Harpell, along with his Company of Crazed Venturers, supposedly fought off a demigod. On another occasion, fighting alone, he destroyed two Red Wizards of Thay and the undead beholders under their command. … Folk who travel the North think Longsaddle is a place where extra care must be taken because magic is hurled about everywhere.

Longsaddle is dominated by the crazily chaotic bulk of the Ivy Mansion. The ancestral home of the Harpells perches on Harpell Hill in the center of town. The Mansion is a collection of three buildings.

The first is a constantly expanding building of ongoing tumults of experimental spells going awry, incorrectly mixed potions exploding, magical pranks, and a carefree collage of ideas and experiments added to by each successive Harpell. The hodgepodge construction of the Ivy Mansion results in innumerable strange angles in the walls and roof, dozens of spires with no two alike, and thousands of windows.from tiny slits to huge openings. Inside are a dozen alchemy shops, scrying rooms, meditations chambers, and conjuring rooms. Few are allowed to visit the mansion, and fewer see more than the central dining and meeting room. This room is a domed, circular hall, known as the Fuzzy Quarterstaff. Here, there’s a central hearth and chimney surrounded by feasting tables and a bar with an animated orchestra.

Two buildings seem to be ordinary low farm buildings, but that’s hardly the case. The smaller serves as a stable of miniaturized animals kept in cages stacked to the ceiling. The second is an experimental farm where other reduced animals graze in an open central area.

A fence appears to surround the hillock compound, but in fact it is an invisible wall with the fence painted on its surface. Only the third post left of what appears to be a gate is real, and the actual gate is found there. To reach the stable, one must pass along the mansion and cross the strange stream climbing the hill, which becomes momentarily invisible, and flows down the other side. A bridge with a reverse gravity beneath it provides a path to the farm buildings via the “underbridge,” returning via the “overbridge.”

All of this is of course written before the infamous “Spellplauge” event that effects 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons and advances the story 100 years. As of now nothing has been written as far as the fate of Longsaddle, so Horatio is based out of the Lurar region. He is easily identified by his capricious, almost childlike and naive nature, his (poorly rendered) british accent, and his habit of greeting everyone new he meets with the phrase, “‘Ello. My name’s Horatio Harpell, but my friends call me HH. Would you like to be my friend?” In game mechanics terms he is a staff wizard with a stupidly high armor class which now has no other purpose but to make other players balk at it’s absurdity

You may have noticed that Horatio has a small sheep on his shoulder. The sheep is Horatio’s familiar named Doris. Doris is a “minimal” as described in “The North”

The Harpell family is experimenting with shrinking animals to miniature sizes. They hope to breed them as stable species at the smaller size, to allow for maximum food use and minimal feed consumption, enlarging them shortly before the slaughter. A furious private debate is currently raging within the family over the morality of such tampering with natural forces, but the research continues. To this date, few of the results, known as minimals, have been released onto the market.

As a familiar though, Doris is more than simply a teeny-weeny sheep. She has been enhanced been uplifted by magical spells and has the ability to think intelligently, to be understood by Horatio, and to teleport to a demiplane, filled with rolling pastures, fences, and other sheep preoccupied with jumping, when attacked. In game Doris has been used to scout ahead, wow people with her color-changing wool, and generally make players and NPCs alike wonder why a giant talking cotton ball is on the wizard’s shoulder.

Fun events from modules, quips, phrases, and other odds and ends about Horatio that have happened in game.

  • Because of his high AC (27 as of level 8 ) the defenders in the group joke that he should be in front, to which he replies in his (poorly rendered) british accent, “Noat ah Tahnk!”
  • Horatio often refers to his staff as his “Thump’in Stick”
  • Horatio yells out “Cracka-boom!” when letting loose a particularly flash spell
  • Horatio’s magic missiles look like white “screamer” fireworks, complete with spiraling path and sound
  • Horatio typically styles issues to look like sheep when possible.
  • When infiltrating the prison city of Wheloon Horatio went by the alias of “Woolybeard, scourge of Steam Lake!”
  • He wore an eyepatch while doing this but he had no beard
  • 3 PCs so far have tried to eat Doris
  • Horatio’s campaign long quest is “to become a main character”.
  • Another campaign long goal is to have Horatio say his catch phrase to Orcus. I’ll post here if Orcus becomes Horatio’s friend.

View Horatio Harpell’s character sheet courtesy of iplay4e.com


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Redoubt Operations #2: Wrath of the Imperium

Redoubt-Operations-2-Wrath-of-the-Imperium-Logo-PosterStory Description: After their bid for control of the nation of Kalago has been thwarted by Redoubt and their heroic allies, the Mechanius Imperium focuses its ire squarely upon the forces of Redoubt as First Emperor Surtr declares total war against them.
Story Arc ID: 269283
Author’s Global Chat Handle: @Andromeda
Length: Very Long (5 missions)
Level Range: 30-50
Mission Status: Final
Alignment: Villainous

Designer Notes: Redoubt Operations is a dramatic team-oriented mission arc series following the exploits of Redoubt and their nemesis, the Mechanius Imperium. These two original organizations, set firmly within the City of Heroes universe, are both comprised of robots and androids of all types, but have startlingly different philosophies that set them against each other. Which one will be victorious and influence the minds of machinekind for generations to come, and which will be lost and forgotten, a passing fad of their race’s infancy? Only time will tell.

This arc series aims to provide an interesting storyline that is fun to play through as well as read, to provide players as much fiction as they are willing to read while still keeping the basic plot points succinct enough for even a casual player to be able to follow along, and to always keep the player the main focus of the events in the missions while still expanding on the overall story line.

To accomplish this task the Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe is used extensively to provide information about the different characters involved in the story, form the biggest character to the littlest. Information on the arc series itself is posted there, as well as pages on Redoubt, The Mechanius Imperium, their leaders, their solders, and any other characters or organizations involved.

However to enjoy this arc series reading none of this background information is required. The bare minimum of information in each arc is provided in the enter and exit popups of each mission. More fiction is then provided in conversations with the contact, clues, and dialogue in the missions.

Players will take on the role of villains who have agreed to assist First Emperor Surtr of the Mechanius Imperium in his master plan to take revenge on Redoubt in exchange for “something they desire”.Players will be engaged in such fun tasks as blowing up buildings, kidnapping world leaders, inciting a civil war through fabricated evidence, and crushing the stalwart defenders of peace and prosperity under their heel. Contains two elite bosses and one arch-villain.

In-Game Keywords: Ideal for Teams, Custom Characters, Drama

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