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Tabletop RP: My Top 10 Spells

Everyone has favorite spells that they use, and thankfully most of them transition between editions without losing too much of the fun. Some spells are good for causing shenanigans, like Grease, others just do an insane level of damage that is always fun to inflict on enemies. I decided to list my favorite spells, at least one for each level (sorta), and why I enjoy them so much, therefore why you might like them for your character.

Please note that this list is for arcane casters only, such as wizards, sorcerers, warmages, etc. I’ll do another list of my favorite divine spells later, since I do enjoy playing oracles mixed in with my rogues and sorcerer types. I am also a bit of a blaster-type mage when I have magic (thus why I like warmages so much). My lists rarely have things that just entangle somebody or create alarms, and are more likely to cause maximum amount of damage that fits within the character’s particular theme (because sometimes, you gotta pick something besides fireball because it offends the ice mage).

Zero Level Spells/Cantrips
….No one likes these, why would I pick one here…? These are little spells that really, I pick based on the campaign.

1st Level Spells
Magic Missile is a must have. It’s a guaranteed hit whenever any enemy is annoying as hell, and you can shape them to reflect your character. I always approve of customization options.
Snowball is a Pathfinder spell of this level that has been a go-to for one of my characters too, it does some decent damage and has additional affects that can go in hand. Perfect for the ice mage, lol.

2nd Level Spells
In your early levels, you are working to maximize your spell selection so not only are you strong in your specialty, but you aren’t completely screwed if your DM throws something your way. Now, Jadzia didn’t bother learning Shatter because one of my party members already had it, but as Psyche, it was one of the first things I picked because if we met a golem, I wanted to be able to fight it. So definitely my first pick for 2nd Level.

3rd Level Spells
…Sadly, my favorite spell is a homebrew creation because I am playing an ice specialist and the DM thought it hysterical to create “Iceball” which functions exactly like Fireball, just with ice. That being said, Fireball is also a great spell, so if your DM won’t go for the giant snow/ice ball of doom, it is your first chance to really start slinging damage around.

4th Level Spells
There’s a series of spells that I used with Psyche that were by far my favorite spells. Different spells, there was one for each element, including Force and Sound, and they had additional affects depending on the element. I loved those damn things, plus I always knew how much damage I was dealing, I just had to look up the effect, and I could cater it to sensitives if the enemy had any.

5th Level Spells
Oddly enough, my favorite 5th level spell is defensive. At this point, I usually have a solid base of offensive spells, and I’m ready for something that not only defends my squish mage butt, but will also help my fellow players. Fire Shield, Mass, gives the entire party a line of defense, as well as attacking enemies.

6th Level Spells
Dude, Chain Lightning all the way. It does lots of damage, it continues to do more damage as you level, and can attack more targets or the same target multiple times. And if you are facing foes in metal armor, it does even more damage. I love it.

7th Level Spells
Here is where it really starts to depend on what problems my mage has run into when fighting. Do we keep getting hoards that attack us and we are way out numbered? Or is it something really big that we have to hammer through? Usually, this is why I take a mass-area spell, because I have enough one-on-one spells and could use a wide-coverage. So go with Fire Storm or something similar.

8th Level Spells
For 8th Level, your spell options really start to narrow down. You don’t learn as many of them, and you don’t get to cast as many times per day for spontaneous casters. For my favorite, gotta go with the multi-tasker and use Great Shout. It’ll damage golems, traps, and other objects, as well as doing a good chunk of damage to enemies even before you apply meta-magic to it.

9th Level Spells
Really, I have only gotten here once before, so it’s harder for me to pick a favorite or one that I am most likely to use. (Jadzia may yet get there and I’ll change my mind, but eh, we’ll see.) Considering the celestial theme that Psyche had going on… Gotta go with Meteor Swarm as my go-to final spell for this list.


Review: Top Ten Childhood Favorite TV Shows

Here’s a dallop of nostalgia for your Monday. I thought about doing Inktober, but I hadn’t done enough prep work, and we’re heading into NaNoWriMo anyway. So instead, I revisited the top 10 TV shows from my childhood that I still enjoy and think influenced me. They aren’t in actual 1 being the most influential order, 10 least, or anything like that. I just made a list of ten.

Hey Arnold!
With a completely bonkers cast of characters, I think what I loved the most was how complex some of the personalities were allowed to get. And just when you think you have it figured out, and it’s just a kid’s show again, they come out with something that really makes you thing. It also was very real about some of the family lives that kids have, and about some of the unique problems that come from living in the inner-city. Plus, the craziness of the boarding house always seemed super real to me.

The Wild Thornberries
Mixing a lot of fun with some education on animals and conservation, Eliza and family hit a lot of buttons for me. Goofy family? Check. Girl who talks to animals? Check. Various shenanigans due to those two worlds combining? Double check. The only thing that got me was the “wild boy” character. I hated him then, kinda hate him now. I wish we had just gotten to have these two sisters and their parents, rather than this random thing to keep the parents or older sister busy as needed. Hello plot devise disguised as a character.

ChalkZone
I saw this originally as part of Oh Yeah! Cartoons, and it’s always been pretty dear to me. I mean, come on, a whole world that has come to life due to the imagination of an artist. It’s a great concept, and it was executed very well. Plus it was just memorable. I can still hear Snap yelling, “RUDY, YOU GOTTA DRAW SOMETHIN’!” and the ridiculous situations that sometimes landed them in. The limit was really on what the artists could come up with. I just wish it was possible to see them easier, right now they are hard to find in a way that is easily viewed by those of us who are…broke. 😛

Tiny Toon Adventures
This is one of the few shows growing up that my brother and I could agree on. I think he preferred Animatics and Pinkie and the Brain, but it always came back to Tiny Toons for something for us to watch together. The humor and characters, while gendered, actually fairly represented them–there wasn’t the problem of five male characters to one girl, for example, like we ran into with shows like Power Rangers. Plus, it was legitimately funny and clever. Some of the jokes were meant for an older viewer like Taylor (five year age difference, ya’ll) and some were more on my level. Either way, it remains a very fond memory for me.

Madeline
I think this is what kickstarted the French for me. And this was just a really smart TV show aimed at a much younger audience than…just about everything else on this list. It was simpler, it was more about understanding societal rules and girls fighting for agency (or scheming for it, okay, maybe it kickstarted more than my French). Most other cartoons for that age focus so much on basic skills, such as math and color and shape recognition and such, but Madeline really goes, “Nope, you learn that in school. Here’s some of the things you don’t.” Plus, feisty female protagonists for the win!

Gargoyles
Now this list turns towards the “serious” as you all know, comedy is not my thing most of the time. Gargoyles had an amazing story, varied character designs that were still easy to tell apart to my kid brain (though when I first saw it, the episode was far enough in the series for me to be a little lost on the story, oops), and combined the mystic with the tech and the modern. It also addressed things like racism, hate groups, inter-racial relationships and how hard they can be, and dealing with the past so you can embrace your future. Heavy stuff for a kid’s show, but they were so sly about it, it wasn’t like they were preaching at us, it was just a natural, organic way for the story to go.

Batman: The Animated Series
Another one that Taylor and I could agree on, Batman feels like this universal childhood constant for my generation, even if you are now a Marvel fan more than DC (with the way the movie verses are going, I don’t blame anyone on that front). There’s been a lot better discussions on the series than I have space for here, so I’ll stick to the personal. I loved the snark, the smarts, and the action. The animation of the earlier seasons was very eh for me, I much prefer the last when it changed to match the rest of the DCAU, though the Bruce/Barbara relationship is WEIRD YA’LL. But I have never lost my love for the DCAU and that’s partly to thank because of this series. It showed me how the comics don’t have to ruin everything and make it far too complicated.

Sailor Moon
The beginning of the anime invasion, I used to wake up at six a.m. to watch this show, I was devoted. And that’s even with Serena and Rini driving me absolutely bonkers in the anime episodes, though the movies that were more manga-toned in their characters helped save them. I just loved seeing the girls getting in on the action and the fighting, on the stories of the prince and the princess, of the guardians and the way these people had to grow up. I grew up with the Dub, which is…an experience, due to the weird age differences and translations. But without it, I wouldn’t have gotten into the rest of the fandom, and considering how much I relate to Makoto/Lita/Sailor Jupiter, that would have been a damn shame. She really gave me someone to look up to growing up. She was tall, brunette and green-eyed, and tough, but also romantic. Not a lot of those to be found.

Escaflowne
This show confused the hell out of me when I first saw it. (I was too young, admittedly.) But the mystic levels to it, and the relationship of Hiromi with the rest of the world, really stuck with me for some reason. It took several rewatchings for me to understand the story, to track everything. And you know what? That’s part of why I think I enjoyed it so much. It took time and processing and lots of re-examining of information for me to completely understand. But not everything needs to be spoon fed to kids. Sometimes, they need challenged. Especially kids like me, I figured it out and then I’d get bored and moved on. Shows like this helped engage them, and as long as there were elements they didn’t understand, they’d keep coming back to it until they did.

Cardcaptors
On the other end of the spectrum entirely… Yeah, I watched the dubbed version of this too. But you know, I’m not complaining, apparently there is some downright weird stuff in the original and I think I’m better remaining ignorant. XD But this hit me in some of the same ways as Sailor Moon and Madeline. It had the magic/mystic elements of Sailor Moon, but it had confronting personal issues and struggles that elementary school students start going through. It was also about figuring out how to do things your way, rather than what was expected of you, and for someone like me who tended to overthink, it actually showed me other ways to view the world. For Sakura, everything was seen through her emotions, an empathetic way of seeing the world and how to react to it. It was a lesson in other view points that really stuck with it…and along with Sailor Moon, cemented my love of celestial themes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look through my childhood. I might come back and touch on some of these later–I think my hero-worship of Jupiter could be cool to dive into, for example, and you know, sibling exploits are always fun. But for now, I hope you had fun revisiting the 90’s and early 2000’s.


Top 10 Favorite Movies

I know, not a review, but it’s something. I’ve discovered I don’t have the second Shadow saga book, and refuse to buy it just for consistency. (Maybe with Christmas money next year.) I have a movie sitting around, waiting for me to watch and return it to its owner, and the Ginny-donation-box needs gone through so I know what I have. But for this week, I thought I would do a list of my favorite movies, spurned on by a conversation happening on the drive home from a medieval fair.

So with that, I give you my top favorite movies (err, sort of). There were a few exceptions made in the case of series where you like all the movies in it equally, it could count as one. I suspect because the guy who asked the question wanted to make sure people like me just didn’t start listing MCU movies…

10. How to Train Your Dragon

There’s a lot to love about this movie. On one hand, I have to knock it a bit because it is apparently way different from its source material, and as a writer, that irks me. But they took the concept and ran with it, which I thought was impressive. I love the fact that Hiccup is this plucky, skinny little kid that doesn’t have the brawl and doesn’t need it, instead just needing his smarts. I also love the fact that Astrid is a bit of a tomboy, yes, and is very much the fighter and athletic type, but she is still considered beautiful and feminine. And then the dialogue is perfect, and I love how cat-like the dragons are… It’s really just an amazing film.

9. Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick/Riddick

…Someone is going, “Wait, Rebecca, you can’t do horror, why are these on your favorite list…?” I know I can’t do horror, which is why it’s all the way down here at number 9. 😛 Yes, some elements of these movies gives me nightmares. But I love the way the anti-hero was shaped, even if I think we took a weird tangent in the second movie. I’ve done some slightly more in-depth thoughts on this franchise, and I stand by them. But I love them, and I look forward to seeing where it goes in oncoming films. (Plus, I really, really like Vin Diesel, okay?)

8. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

I am a sucker for this TV series, despite some of the weird/stupid episodes. I thought that this movie was a great way of showing Terry stepping into the mantle of the Batman, and it also helps answer the question of what happened to at least one of the Robins. It makes some nods towards the series that are great in context of it as a whole. I have to knock it a little, since if you don’t know some of what happened in at least the first season, some of the emotional bombs don’t hit as hard, and it’s not as obvious that Terry is not a genius like Bruce without that further evidence, so the ending is less of a comeuppance. But there are still moments that even a newbie to the concept can love if they watch it just as a stand-alone, and most of the history is general Batman history and thus easy enough to grab on to (or is explained).

7. Beauty and the Beast

My very first review on this blog was about this movie, though it was over the 3-D rendition and had some problems. I know there are some people who have severe issues with the plot of this movie, shouting Stockholm Syndrome and verbal abuse. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but I am saying that I think that is a pretty quick leap. Is the situation weird, yes. But this is a fantasy movie, weird situations are the norm. But I won’t get into an argument on this list. I love this idea of a brainy girl who doesn’t fit in with her surroundings and wants more out of life, falling in love with someone who similarly doesn’t belong, of finding love with each other. I love the idea of love helping you become a better person. The side characters also have their moments of glory, and I’ll admit it, I have deep issues with trusting the popular, pretty boy, and Gaston being the jerky villain is awesome.

6. Marvel Cinematic Universe

Okay, this is the first of the cheater choices. I just can’t pick a favorite, and they are so inter connected, it’s hard to separate them out. It doesn’t help matters that my favorite hero hasn’t had a solo movie and doesn’t look to be getting one either… (I’m such a Hawkeye fan girl.) There are questionable choices at times in the writing, and I don’t always like which of the Marvel universes they pull from, but everything is working well together, and they are pacing themselves well. You can tell, for example, that Iron Man is pulling back to be a more supportive role and his solo character arc is resolved and now it’s him in the group. My working theory is that Captain America is going to wrap up with this third, and Thor with is. They aren’t letting one character become more than the series as a whole, and that I think is what makes Avengers so amazing.

(…Don’t ask me about Agents of SHIELD. Just don’t. I have all sorts of mixed feels, because they are writing a really weird Bobbi…)

5. The Last Unicorn

Yeah, you should have timed this one appearing on this list. God, I loved this movie growing up. I don’t remember how many times I rented it, but it was an insane number of times. And what’s not to love? Schmedrick and Molly Grue are amazing characters, with deep character flaws but even bigger hearts. Amalthia starts out not necessarily flat but very much lacking in certain levels of human empathy. And when that starts to change, it breaks your heart. And the ending isn’t completely happy but honest and true to its world, which in fact keeps with the original source material…like this movie does amazingly well at, just cutting stuff for time reasons in ways that make sense. It’s an under appreciated classic that really deserves more attention.

4. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

And here’s the second cheater. But honestly, these three again are so wound together, it’s really hard to separate them. And while I may get more frustrated with the first two, that’s only because TNT and other channels marathon the dickens out of them but rarely show the third. I own the super long, box-set versions, so I don’t watch them as much as I like because really, who has that kind of time? But I appreciate them because there are all those extra little moments. (Okay, and because the Faramir/Eowyn moments were a lot more blatant in those versions). As someone who read the books too young, if I’m honest to myself, and got bogged down in Two Towers, these movies were well-done and helped me feel the same excitement that I know the books inspire in other people

3. Three Musketeers

Specifically, I mean the version that Disney put out with Tim Curry as the cardinal. It sticks the closest to the original story as far as screenplay/stage adaptations go according to other people’s research, not mine. And honestly, the characters make this story and the way the actors portray them. The plot is ridiculously straight-forward, there aren’t any surprise twists coming. But the characters, man… I can’t even pick a favorite, that’s how awesome they all are. And there are lots of comedic moments, but some of serious drama that can just break your heart. And it flows very well between the comedy and the drama so it doesn’t jar you out of the story. And they are all so relatable and human, down to their silliest of flaws. (Like Pathos being a pathological liar, since there is no Queen of America.) I highly recommend this movie (except…maybe not for the kids. It gets a bit too serious and gory.)

2. Twelve Angry Men

What is this, a black and white film that is in no way fantasy or scifi? Shut your mouth! …Okay, in all seriousness, I love this movie. You’ve probably seen nods to it elsewhere, since I knew some shows that are episodic rather than overarching plot have done versions of it. (Hey Arnold! and the pulling of the fire alarm, for example.) It doesn’t have your traditional, physical conflict. Everything is done through words and differences in personality. The twelve characters are all different from each other, though some are pretty similar so it can get confusing trying to explain it rather than watch it. It doesn’t help that they are known by juror numbers only. You get to the point where you don’t care who is what number or who they are, you recognize the character and know their motivation, and that’s what matters. And it all builds on top of each into an absolutely amazing climax. Even if old black and white movies aren’t your thing, you should totally check this one out.

1. Cats Don’t Dance

Despite my education and supposed grown-up status, I will always be a girl obsessed with animated movies and musicals. This movie is the best of both and is always going to be the best in my heart. I love Sawyer’s sassiness and the fact that, let’s face it, she’s a better performer than our male lead, she just needs a push to try again. And because of the type of cat design they went with for her, she actually comes across as being plump and curvy rather than a stick, which is a big thumb’s up in my book. Darla is an absolutely amazing villain, especially when combined with Max, to create an almost Pinky and the Brain dynamic. And I think the idea of a animal actors trying to make it big like the humans is just awesome. The music is catchy and actually has a jazz feel to it rather than the Broadway musical feeling that most movies end up going with. The animation is good Warner Bro. animation, which is just as good if not better than Disney at times, and the way they use color is just a great touch. Overall, I think it’s just an under-appreciated animated classic, and definitely deserves recognition.