Monday, May 22, 2017

DINOSAURS!!

An hour and a half east of Calgary is a town called Drumheller in the Alberta Badlands. It has a long history of coal mining, but today it is known mainly for dinosaur fossils and the absolutely awesome Royal Tyrrell Museum.


With the pleasant weather (rare for the May long weekend in Alberta), we joined the throngs taking in the museum today.


Although many of the visitors were probably out-of-town tourists seeing the museum for the first time, for locals like us, the real draw was a new exhibit.


Featured in an article in National Geographic, the museum has a new nodosaur with a remarkable degree of preservation.


As you can see, the surface scales and spikes have been preserved.


The detail is amazing.


Some fun facts; this guy lived about 110 million years ago, making him the oldest dinosaur fossil ever found in Alberta. He was over five metres in length and would have weighed about 1300 kg. This particular nodosaur represents a new, as yet unnamed, genus and species.

-Rognar-

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sabaton in Calgary

Sabaton is, without a doubt, one of my favourite bands. In fact, I would say it is probably my favourite to come on the scene in the post-NWBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal for the woefully uninformed). I and a couple of the lads had the opportunity to see them live last night and what a blast it was. But first, the preliminaries; there were two opening acts. The show started with the Norwegian-German Goth metal band Leaves' Eyes. Their set was solid, starting off with Halvdane the Black, probably my favourite of their hits. The band is known for their "Beauty and the Beast" vocals, contrasting the clean soprano of the new lead vocalist Elina Siirala with the deep growls of Alexander Krull. The highlight of their set was Krull in Viking armour, waving a longsword while belting out Blazing Waters.


Next up was the Finnish power metal group, Battle Beast. I didn't know much about this band before last night, but I am now a real fan. They turned up the energy to 11 and never let up. The mosh pit really came to life with Familiar Hell and Black Ninja, but the highlight for me was King for a Day. These songs will definitely be added to my personal playlist.


Finally, it was time for the headliners and they did not disappoint (like there was any chance of that). Starting off with Ghost Division, about the German 7th Panzer Division in WWII, they ripped through a 90 minute set that leaned heavily on their most recent album, The Last Stand, but included classics from all their previous albums. Many of my most favourite Sabaton songs were performed, including Carolus Rex, Attero Dominatus, Primo Victoria, The Art of War, Resist and Bite and Winged Hussars. There was even a brief, impromptu riff of Michael Jackson's Beat It in a rare display of Joakim Broden guitar playing. These guys were clearly having fun and the crowd was loving every minute of it. Awesome show!


-Rognar-

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Iron Gods - Valley of the Brain Collectors 4

We continue our Iron Gods AP with the conclusion of Valley of the Brain Collectors - spoilers ahead.

The party prepared to assault the Dominion hive. After uncovering the entrance, they proceeded in and promptly found themselves facing the other annihilator robot. Though damaged by the blast that destroyed the other annihilator, it was still formidable. The combination of chain gun and plasma lance took a toll on the party, but by this point, they were well-versed in robot fighting. The annihilator was soon a mass of smoking ruin.

Moving on, they battled their way past a swarm of ugothokras and the corpses of Isuma's fellow Kasathans, who were occupied by intellect devourers. It was all Isuma could do to retain her composure as here former friends-turned-meat-puppets were cut down. She vowed to see them laid to rest in the proper way of her people when the battle against the Dominion was over.


Continuing on, they came upon the lair of Maukui, who by all outward appearances, was a young void dragon. Now admittedly, the party members were not experts on dragonkind. Nonetheless, there were learned fellows among their number and the behaviour displayed by Maukui seemed out of character with what they knew of void dragons. It seemed willing to parley and offered what information it could. It told them of a yah-thelgaad named Dweller-in Dark-Places who ruled the hive. It explained that a yah-thelgaad is a sort of advanced neh-thalggu and this particular one was a hated enemy. Maukui would be happy to see it destroyed. It also mentioned a kyton named Paajgat who it considered a friend. Maukui asked the party to spare her if possible.

The company agreed to Maukui's terms and continued on. Many more ugothokras and neh-thalggus were vanquished until they arrived at the chamber of horrors that was Paajgat's "lab". She did not attack, but offered the party exquisite sensations the likes of which they have never known before. The blood-soaked operating tables and various body parts strewn about gave ample reason for the group to reject her offer. Shrugging off the rejection, she allowed them to pass, indicating that she had grown bored anyway and was off to seek pleasures elsewhere.

Sensing that they were getting close to their final destination, the party pressed on. Eventually they came upon a chamber containing a circular platform which they correctly surmised to be a teleportation circle. As they inspected it, a party of neh-thalggus entered the room, led by a similar, but clearly distinct creature. Dweller-in-Dark-Places had found them. The battle was fierce. The potent strength-sapping poison of the yah-thelgaad's claws proved especially dangerous. Though none of the party was felled in the melee, Hala's healing arts were much appreciated when it was over.

Once renewed, the party still had a problem. They had been unable to activate the teleportation circle. They decided to enlist the aid of Maukui. The void dragon agreed to help, asking for only one thing in return, a small device which he claimed was stolen from him by the yah-thelgaad. The description seemed like it might refer to the device that contained Casandalee, but the party agreed anyway (of course, they had no intention of fulfilling their end of the bargain). Maukui removed a limb from the dead yah-thelgaad and touch it to the platform which activated the circle. Smangtooth and Nils passed through. At that point, Maukui, realizing the party's intent to betray him, attacked Hala and Targus, while Smangtooth and Nils found themselves in another chamber facing a fossil golem. Smangtooth's adamantine chainsaw and Nils' laser rifle proved an ideal combination for battling golemkind and the battle was short. However, Targus and Hala were in far greater peril. The stealthy dragon had positioned itself to make a quick and sudden attack, catching both by surprise. Maukui first tore into Targus and he was gravely wounded. It then turned its attention to Hala. With gnashing teeth and ripping claws, it shredded the cleric, bringing down the party's best healer in a whirlwind attack. Smangtooth and Nils, sensing something was wrong, went back through the portal. Targus, badly-wounded, stood over the prone body of Hala, fighting off the blood-stained dragon. Smangtooth charged forth to engage in melee, while Nils blasted away with his laser rifle. The battle was tough. The dragon proved immune to Nils' laser rifle and quite resistant to his arc rifle also. Nevertheless, it could not stand up to Smangtooth's chainsaw for long. As it died, a hideous, brain-like abomination squeezed out of the dragon's body, an intellect devourer. It fought briefly, but realizing it was outmatched, the beast escaped by casting dimension door. It was gone for now, but they feared they had not seen the last of it.

-Rognar-