Shadowfootwork: Warlock Variants

I really like the warlock class from Complete Arcane. It's really what the sorcerer should have been - something flavorful, something unique, and not just an unimaginative wizard remix. While I love the gloomy, gothic flavor of the class, I wish it could have been designed to accommodate other flavors. So I'm working on some variants, and plan on using it as the basis to finish a similarly structured "superhero" class I worked on a year or so ago. But first up, the two warlock flavor variants (Gifted and Natural) and the structural variant (Strange):

The Gifted
[Gft] Blessed with celestial powers of light, the gifted are the flipside of the warlock's dark coin. Revered, feared, and even worshipped as the descendants of gods, the gifted use their amazing powers as a force of good and law.

The Natural
[Nat] While warlocks attibuted their powers to the forces of evil and the gifted to the forces of good, naturals attribute their strange abilities to the forces of nature.

The Strange
[Stg] The strange focus not on the raw power of his blasts to defeat his enemies but in skill, hardiness, perception, and varied strange powers.

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Enslaved Princess Not Included

Hutt Wheels for Sale

from E Online

Apparently, Jabba the Hutt's ride can be quite the chick magnet.

"Oh, yeah, it's definitely proved useful in that," says Neal Ormond. "It's definitely comfortable on the inside."

"It" is the JL421 Badonkadonk, a "completely unique, extremely rare land vehicle and battle tank," with a 400-watt sound system, a fully carpeted interior, a top speed of 40 mph - and a price tag of $19,999.95. The Badonkadonk, or Donk for short, is not street legal, and is not to be confused, although it has been, with Jabba the Hutt's sail barge from Return of the Jedi.

Ormond, a Palo Alto, California-based designer, built the Donk with the help of like-minded associates, and without the help, or blessing, of Lucasfilm. Ormond says he hasn't heard a word from George Lucas' Star Wars base camp about his homegrown transport device. Yet.

"No, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the next call," Ormond said Wednesday.

The Donk quietly went on sale last October through Amazon.com. (It was available Ormond's firm, NAO Design, even before that.) But all was relatively quiet on the battle-tank front until the last week, when it was "discovered" by Netizens, in general, and Jedi followers, in particular.

"It is instantly recognizable by Star Wars fans...Everybody who sees it says, 'Oh, my God,' " says Philip Wise, Webmaster of the leading Star Wars fan site, TheForce.net.

Although it began life as a humble go-cart, the Donk seats up to five and passengers to "cozy" carpet and accent lighting. (Jabba's sail barge, after all, was a "pleasure ship," Wise reminds.)

Despite featuring all the comforts of Tatooine, Ormond says he didn't seriously consider bringing Donks to the masses until Amazon approached him last fall. And now that he has considered selling them, he hasn't. Sold any, that is.

Wise says he wouldn't be surprised if a Star Wars fan broke the bank to buy one.

Lack of demand isn't necessarily a bad thing. Right now, only one Donk exists. And since Ormond says it's going on three years old, he probably wouldn't sell that one. He figures it might take six to eight months once an order is made to complete a new custom one.

In the meantime, Ormond's working on other "cool stuff," like, um, a flame-thrower. ("Not a destructive one," he promises). What about something that levitates, maybe like a skyhopper?

"The flying version is two or three down the road," Ormond says.



Marvel Ordered to Pay Spider-Man Creator

from Reuters

NEW YORK - A federal judge has ordered Marvel Enterprises Inc. to pay the creator of the comic book character Spider-Man 10 percent of Marvel's profits from the Spider-Man movies, Marvel said on Wednesday.

Marvel, a comic book publisher that licenses its characters, said the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered it to pay Spider-Man creator Stan Lee a share of proceeds it has received since November 1998 from movies, television shows, and movie-related toys manufactured by Marvel.

Spider-Man, released by Sony in 2002, was one of the top worldwide box office hits of all time.

Marvel said it would appeal the ruling.


Holy Alimony, Batman!

Man in Batman Suit Climbs Onto Court Roof

from Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A man in a Batman suit spent several hours on a rooftop balcony atop a courthouse in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday, protesting the treatment of fathers in divorce cases.

Police initially said they planned to ignore the man, a member of the group Fathers for Justice, until he came down.

But police spokeswoman Wendy Alberse said the man, whose name was not released, struck a deal to surrender peacefully. Police offered him a ladder and he climbed through a window to safety, she said.

"He won't be charged, and he has promised not to do it again," Alberse said.

Dave Ellison, a spokesman for the group Fathers for Justice, said the man's identity could not be revealed but tha his first name was Andrew.

Ellison said months of planning went into the stunt, intended to draw attention to the plight of Dutch fathers who have been barred from visiting their children after a divorce.

In September, a member of the group's British wing, wearing a Batman suit, climbed onto a balcony at Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II's London residence.

Prediction: Ratbots To Rule Earth

'Must! Kill! Humans! And! Cats!'

Biology Meets Microchips to Make Tiny Robots

from Reuters

WASHINGTON - Rat cells grown onto microscopic silicon chips worked as tiny robots, perhaps a first step toward a self-assembling device, researchers working in the United States reported on Sunday.

They described a new method for attaching living cells to silicon chips. They then and got the combined entities to move like tiny, primitive legs.

Writing in the journal Nature Materials, Jianzhong Xi, Jacob Schmidt and Carlo Montemagno of the University of California Los Angeles said it is possible to make such devices, starting with a single cell "seeded" on a specially treated silicon chip.

They used rat heart cells in one experiment and created a tiny device that moved on its own as the cells contracted.

A second device looked like a minuscule pair of frog legs.

"A microdevice had two 'legs' extending from the body at 45-degree angles; each leg had a 'foot' extending at a 45-degree angle," the researchers wrote.

It may eventually be possible to grow self-assembling machines using the method, they said.


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Too Early To Start My Xmas List?

As seen in this photo released in New York by Hasbro, Inc., Friday, Jan. 14, 2005, Hasbro, Inc.'s Playskool division is launching a new Mr. Potato Head figure, Darth Tater. Available at stores nationwide in February, kids will be able to have all kinds of mix 'n match,Mr. Potato Head fun with this wacky spud dressed as the infamous Star Wars saga villain, Darth Vader. (AP Photo/ Hasbro, Inc., HO)


Jean Grey on Dark Phoenix

Janssen Misses Singer on X-Men 3

from Sci Fi Wire

Famke Janssen, who played the telekinetic Jean Grey in the two X-Men films, told SCI FI Wire that she'll miss the guiding hand of Bryan Singer, who directed the first two installments but passed on the third in favor of Superman Returns. "I will be very sad that Bryan is not coming back, because I really feel that he set the tone for the first two movies, and I think he did an incredible job on both of them," Janssen said in an interview while promoting her latest film, the upcoming thriller Hide and Seek. "He really elevated them from what that genre has sometimes been in the past. So he'll be greatly missed by me, but it'll be interesting to see how someone else imagines the characters and the franchise."

Janssen added that X-Men 3 will likely go before the cameras in June or July and that she expects to return to the fold, even though she's not yet contracted to do so. If she returns, she'll likely do so as Dark Phoenix, as was hinted at by the ominous shadow in the water at the very end of X2, following Jean Grey's demise.

"I'm just excited that, if I come back, I'll be playing a totally different character," Janssen said. "Dark Phoenix will be more dark and complex and twisted than Jean Grey, and that's always fun to play. I don't think she'll be more twisted than Ava Moore [her character on the F/X TV series Nip/Tuck]. That's just not possible. But she'll definitely be more twisted than Jean Grey."

Even so, Janssen acknowledged that Dark Phoenix will likely only be a part of the proposed third movie. "I'm realistic about knowing that they're going to have to give a bunch of people a good chunk of the movie for them to want to come back," she said. "There's going to be new characters introduced, so it's always a little tricky, [but] if it's anybody's movie ever, it's going to be Wolverine's movie, because that's the number-one X-Men character. But from what I've heard, yes, she's big part of it."

Janssen said that she'd have difficulty seeing another actress play Jean Grey. "I would have a hard time giving it up to someone else. I'm too much of a control freak, so I don't think I could handle having seeing somebody else playing her."


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