1. A Movie Review
So ok, everything you've heard about Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies is wrong.
First, you'll hear people being like "This movie sucks". They're dumb and wrong, as this short post-movie conversation with Connie reveals:
Zak: "Listen to this review: 'Bilbo Baggins is the only character capable of eliciting genuine reactions from the audience'."
Connie: "Uh, really? What about warpigs?"
Z: "What about wargoats?"
C: "What about trolls with morningstars for legs?"
Who doesn't have a genuine reaction to wargoats? Nobody I wanna sit near.
Another thing you'll here is this is not a very faithful screen adaptation.
This is a totally faithful screen adaptation--of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Which is a way better thing to be faithful to than Tolkien.
At one point Gandalf is like "These orcs are bred for only one purpose: war" and then, in like the film-editing equivalent of a typo, like one scene later Legolas is talking to some Other Extraneous Elf about some bats and going "These creatures are bred for only one purpose: war".
Now you might think "Well I have heard the script is a little weak". NO. It's just this is how fucking metal this movie is. In the grimdark screenwriting of the Fran and Filippa there is only war. And that's good, because, dude: war goats. Yeah.
Now if you've seen it you're also wondering what's up with Bilbo knocking down like three or four 10' tall orcs in a row by hucking rocks at them. What's up is Bilbo is clearly doing ranged backstabs and must be doing x 4 damage (rock=d4, average 2.5. Times four = 10, which is respectable and could probably knock down even a tough orc if they'd already taken melee damage) and they don't see him because they're in melee with other guys and it's a frenzy.
But how did he get leveled up that far because he's definitely 1st level (or even 0-level) in the first movie.
Ok check it: assuming Jackson's giving xp only for monsters and treasure (SPOILERS below if you never read the books or saw the movies):
Session one: dwarfs clean dishes, contract lunch, all that, then the party kills 3 trolls. Session ends. Bilbo gets enough xp to hit level 2.
Session 2 starts: The party finds Glamdring, Sting and other weapons in the troll hoard, plus kill some orcs on wargs. Level 3.
Session 3: A bunch of social bullshit with elves and the moon. Then the party gets ambushed--Bilbo fights a goblin, most of the people playing the dwarfs and Gandalf have doctor's appointments that day so it's mostly solo and Bilbo does the whole riddle-game with Gollum. Scores the One Ring. You can't get more than enough xp to level up once in a single session, so Bilbo goes from level 3 to level 4 without anyone realizing this is an Artifact.
Session 4: Guy playing Gandalf gets back from the dentist, the dwarves fight a ton of goblins, and the Great Goblin. Lottttts of xp for the whole group, Bilbo gets an even share. He's level 5.
Session 5: The party is chased by the White Orc and his minions--during this sequence Bilbo kills a warg, then an orc. Then there's all the pinecone business and they're saved by Gandalf casting Summon Eagles I Keep Forgetting About. Level 6.
First movie ends--I suspect some carousing here.
Session 6: Buncha bullshit with Beorn and his flick eyebrows, then Myrkwood/Mirkwood/Murkwood and giant spiders. Level 7.
Session 7: Elves capture dwarves. Bilbo does a lot of Move Silently which he can because he's a level 7 thief. The wonderful, inappropriate Six Flags Magic Mountain barrel-fight happens during which the dwarves kill lots of orcs. Bilbo sponges his share of this xp: Level 8.
Session 8: Ok, a lot of sneaking and talking and negotiation and Lake Town at the beginning of the session but then Smaug. Clearly the deal here is--even assuming Bard is some dumb deus ex machina DMPC--the party gets a share of xp off Smaug for shaving some hit points off before Bard's called shot to the wyrmbelly.
This leaves Bilbo at Level 9 before the Battle of Five Armies even starts. Though he is still smart enough to avoid melee as much as possible.
P.S. Jackson's Gandalf is clearly Vancian--he's out of spells for the whole third movie.
2. Here Have Some Toys
The Winners of the D&D Widget Contest...
...are two people. Try the toys they made! Because both were cool:
David Coppoletti's Dungeon Remixer using pieces of my and Jez Gordon's Red & Pleasant Land maps. I can't wait to see what else he does with this in the future.
Alec Henry's LOTFP character generator which is not quite perfect yet, but is very good and edged out the other character generators on account of it picks spellsRed & Pleasant Land.
3. Wait Have More Toys
Telecanter is on fire with the cool magic items lately.
- Silver Razor - Shaving a person with this silver razor will cause them to love you until their hair grows back.
4. I am interviewed by a frog.
5. If You're Wondering About The Book, This Review Has A Red & Pleasant Land Flip-Through.
6. If You Are Smart And Already Ordered Red & Pleasant Land And Want To Know Where Your Book Is...
Raggi lays out when every recent order shipped--RPL or otherwise over here.