This month in the Moonriver, I was given the opportunity to set up a sequence of drinks for an online game. It was to celebrate my birthday, and thus I deemed it necessary to stage a test of four of my brews.
My players have told me they're excellent, but who can trust THAT LOT nowadays? A new test beckons.
What follows is a sequence of four drinks, all of which I have mixed and coined with portions and names. If you want to try the recipes, go right ahead! If not, maybe you'll be entertained by my strange walk down palette lane.
1) The Grandfather - Version 6
We kick things off with the most seasoned of the mixes. This is one I've been testing out and mixing down since I began this endeavor long ago, so I've had some nice practice, and it shows. Portions are done in parts, not oz, because I may have to make a lot of it at once, so that's not how I'm thinking.
1 part Drambuie
1 part Jack Honey
2 parts Fireball
2 splashes Amaretto
Fill in the rest with Dr. McGillicuddy's Root Beer
The Experience: The Jack and Drambuie creates an interesting smack in the face, fortified by the Cinnamon Whiskey, then smoothed out by the Amaretto and Root Beer. It warms my throat and my body and my soul, so going back for more was easy. I made the amount for 6 shots and none remained by the end.
2) Whimsical Kamikaze - Version 2
A Kamikaze is often a blast of Vodka and Lime or Lemon, and tends toward a sharper palette. I *tried* to smooth it out a little.
3 oz (2 shots) - Vanilla Vodka
1.5 oz (1 shot) - Triple Sec
1 oz (2/3 shot) - Cranberry Liqueur
1.5 oz (1 shot) - Lime Juice
The Experience: Flavor blasted and not my favorite. The citrus feel was achieved, but it needs something else to mellow out the effervescent lime and vodka. Maybe some Ginger Ale? [1 shot enjoyed, the rest ignored.]
3) Druidgrove - Version 1
This was born of a need to pursue the equivalent of a dark IPA flavor without beer (beer hurts me, so the simple solution is out). What came out definitely needs some tweaking.
1 oz (2/3 shot) - Four Roses Whiskey
1.5 oz (1 shot) - Oakheart Spiced Rum
3 oz (2 shots) - Lady Bligh Spiced Rum
5-7 dashes - Aromatic Bitters
Emergency Addition of more Dr. McG's Root Beer
The Experience: ...was harsh. 1 shot down and the burn of Four Roses is still inescapable. I need to stop mixing with this whiskey; it has never gone well. Maybe more Root Beer, maybe cut out the whiskey all together. Still, first try. I'm allowed a dud once in a while, and that just means more room for improvement!
4) Forbidden Fruit - Version 1
A fruity red drink was called for, and I've been itching to make stronger use of my Wild Cherry and Blackberry Brandys. The result needed a little adjustment during mixing from my original recipe.
3 oz. (2 shots) - Wild Cherry Brandy
3 oz. (2 shots) - Blackberry Brandy
1.5 oz (1 shot) - Raspberry Liqueur
2 oz (1 1/3 shot) - Pineapple Juice
Splash of Grenadine
The Experience: powerful fruit combo, yet smooth and sweet. I think scaling back the Pineapple to less than a shot will help even things out, and after a few others tasted this one, we wondered if a soda could augment it somehow. I'm open to a little Sprite or Coke to pull the sugars a different direction. Maybe no pineapple all together if soda flattens it correctly?
So of the four, The Grandfather was the only one finished with demands for more. The "Whimsy" needs a little more refinement, but we're close; I may be departing from the base of a Kamikaze and just embrace the journey ahead. Druidgrove is seeking that earthy tone, I can feel it, but I have more to learn to achieve that palette without wrecking my throat on the way. Forbidden was a lucky first try, and we're nearing the threshold of small changes to make it worthy.
Try these out if you like and let me know what you think. Any ideas? Experiments? Suggestions?
We all drink differently, and I look forward to learning more.
See you at the table (responsibly).
Okay, nerds. Here's a quick one for ya.
The only equipment needed here is a pull-up bar, and if that's not in the cards, there's always more pushups! We all want that ideal "quarantine bod", so let's get to work!
This is your 2-Day Bodyweight Split, with a rest day between each workout. If this is easy for you, then stay tuned for more advanced stuff. If this is NOT EASY, well, then this has become your Level 1. I look forward to helping you Level Up your fitness.
1) 5-10 Pushups
a. Beginner: from your knees
b. Standard: knees up, straight spine, hands shoulder-width apart
c. Advanced: “standard” but your toes are on a raised surface.
2) 10-20 Mountain Climbers
a. Standard: pushup position, then move your knees in and out toward your chest, like they’re “climbing a mountain” in the living room.
3) (Flip over) 10-20 Leg Lifts
a. Beginner: lie flat on your back, hands under your butt. Knees bent, lift your legs up to your chest.
b. Standard: “beginner”, but straighten your legs out.
c. Advanced: “standard”, but hold your hands up over your chest as you lift.
4) (hop up) 10-20 Squats
a. Standard: stand with feet shoulder width apart; bend at the knees, keeping the back as straight as you can. Try to keep the weight in your heels down and up.
b. Advanced: as you rise from the squat, jump and reach upwards, landing back in the squat.
1) 5-10 Staggered Pushups - this is a pushup where one hand stays at shoulder width and the other rests on the floor near your rib position. That arm will take the majority of the weight. Same variations as in Circuit 1.
2) 10-20 (seconds) Elbow Planks - put yourself in Standard Pushup position, then bend your arms to put your weight on your elbows and balance with your core. I recommend curling one hand into a fist into the other. Hold this position.
3) 10 Obliques - lie on your side, legs together, and rotate your waist toward the ceiling. Perform a crunch to your side, and hold it for 2 seconds before coming back down.
Rounds: 2-4 (Exercises 1 and 3 involve switching sides, so you need an even number of Rounds)
Note: this workout requires a Pull-Up Bar as part of each Circuit. If you do not have one, substitute another Push-up Variation (included below).
1) 10-20 Double Pump Squats - standard squats with an extra “pump” at the decline before jumping up and down back into the squat. It’s like pulsing at the bottom.
2) (drop down) 5-10 IN Pushups - Standard pushup position, with wrists turned in by 45 degrees (works chest and triceps).
3) 2-5 Neutral Grip Pullups - pullup with palms perpendicular to the body (works Lats and Triceps)
1) 10-20 Single Leg Squats - like the name suggests, balance on one foot and slowly perform a squat. You’ll get tired faster and that’s okay.
2) (drop down) 5-10 OUT Pushups - Standard pushup position, with wrists turned out by 45 degrees (works chest and biceps).
3) 2-5 Chinups - Pullup with palms close and facing toward you (works the Biceps).
1) 10 Water Pails (each side) - stand shoulder width apart and hold onto a moderately heavy, but easily moved object (a book, a weight, a dumbbell, ...a cat). Bend at the waist while turning toward one foot, then rotate and lift to the other side (as if you were chucking a full pail of water). Repeat until you’ve done this 10 times, then switch sides. Each set is done with both sides before moving on.
2) 5-10 "Under" Pushups - rest your hands on the first or second step of a staircase (or another raised surface) and position your body so your hands hover over your rib cage. Then perform the pushup.
3) 2-5 Mixed Grip Pullups - one hand Chinup position, one hand Neutral position.
4) 10-20 Farmer’s Walk - with something moderately heavy in each hand, lift up onto your tip-toes and take 10-20 steps. Your calves will be on fire.
Frequency - Try to perform, at least, each complete workout once a week. If you can achieve that, go for twice a week. It’s alright to have a rest day between. Just remember to keep moving; a walk, a run, even a few minutes of jumping jacks - goes a long way in personal fitness.
Standard - your regular pushup
Staggered - one hand standard, the other by your ribs.
In - standard but with palms facing in by 45 degrees.
Out - standard but with palms facing out by 45 degrees.
Wide - standard but with a wide wingspan and smaller range of movement.
Close - line up your palms with your pectorals.
Pike - basically Downward Dog but with a pushup (shoulders)
Underhand (Stair) - hands on the first or second step, positioned near ribs.
Elevated - toes on the first or second step; great for the upper chest.
Diamond - like In Pushup, but bring the fingers to touch, like forming a “diamond.”
Get it, nerds.
See you at the table.
The Core Concept (I love Kobolds)
Kobolds are cute. Always have been.
There's something pitiful in their representation, and they can feel like fodder if you're not careful, but I'd argue there's a depth to them we often don't get the chance to explore. They can be industrious, courageous, intelligent, even empathetic - their presentation suffers from always requiring a draconic master or a simplistic society or some other measure that keeps them downtrodden and low.
That's why in Io, though there ARE the "traditional" Kobold clans, there are still many others that break from that tradition and embrace their heroic natures. Whether it be the courage to fight, or the courage to study, there is a wide spectrum to the nature of accomplishment a race could achieve after a millennia of working with whatever they had to spare. That's something we may not realize; there are Kobold inventors, fliers, alchemists, bombers...these little guys build stuff. They dedicate themselves to industry...but their resources are often sub-par. Imagine what a Kobold could accomplish with access to the resources of a Dwarven forge, or an Elven library, or a Human leatherworker. Their weakness of station has little to do with their personal intellect and a lot to do with their environmental experience.
So with the understanding that a Kobold with proper resources would dedicate herself to the study of a craft, even if the methods may go awry or be haphazard in nature, would this not create a powerful master in this study? Skilled in unorthodox mixtures, brilliant workarounds, and a keen observation of new possibilities, a Kobold's need to survive opens the door to innovation.
This is where you track with me to the obvious Kobold Artificer...and I keep walking. For this study is a discipline of the mind, body, and soul, and for that to ring true, the more appropriate answer is the Monk.
Martial Discipline Carries Over
Any martial artist that's dedicated enough energy and time to their art can tell you: this isn't about fighting, it's about learning. In fact, a lot of the martial disciplines teach oneself, yes, how to move well, how to defend yourself, but moreso how to cultivate one's understanding of the world that surrounds them by learning how to learn for themselves. A disciplined martial artist isn't simply learning how to kick or punch or block, but how to navigate their world with intelligence and wisdom with the confidence that is only derived from a dedicated practice in self-improvement. Once you know how to learn, and you have cultivated your discipline to support the hard work needed, the world opens to you.
This is why swordsman drew calligraphy, archers played music, generals wrote poetry, and monks...learned to cook.
The Actual Build
DUNGEON COACH'S APPROACH
I'm not rolling stats the same way this time. Instead, I'd like to take a page from Dungeon Coach's book (linked HERE), and try an alternative roll. See, sometimes I get really lucky in my spread, and sometimes I stink hardcore, but Point-Buy doesn't thrill me and to me, Standard Array is boring. I still enjoy rolling quite a bit, even if the outcome is less than optimal.
So "DC" proposed something a bit different. First, we roll FIVE stats using our standard 4d6, drop the lowest, sort of fare. I'll do that now...
6 (oh gods why...)
OUCH. Now, my DM in charge *might* take a look at this trend and say "Nope. Start over." BUT NO SIR! WE'RE TRYING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TODAY.
Because DC's idea involves one more step. I add up all of these (shudder) numbers and I get...56. I then take a magic number that DC has discovered is the total of your numbers whenever you use the Standard Array - 72. I subtract the two, and I get my sixth stat: another 16.
The philosophy here is that for all the possible suckage one could roll out, you'd be guaranteed at least one decent stat out of everything, and conversely if you rolled remarkably well, you're guaranteed one stat as your main flaw - something we openly embrace around here. It's no fun playing characters that are just good at EVERYTHING.
RACIAL MODIFIERS AND WHERE THE STATS GO
Kobolds get some nice little bonuses, but their penalties are nasty in Volo's Guide, with a +2 Dexterity bonus but a -2 Strength penalty. Lump onto that some lovely SUNLIGHT SENSITIVITY and you've got a LOVELY little Package of Argh. But Pack Tactics is nice for the "group up" mentality and, though I hate the name, "Grovel, Cower, and Beg" will be great for setting up my (hopefully) Rogue and Barbarian allies.
Keesh is intended to be quirky, smart, observant, and adorably weird. The latter might convince you to put that already low 6 into my Charisma BUT NO I say! No, no. ADORABLY weird. Nah, I'm going to lean into that Strength penalty like WHOA. Monks need Dex and Wisdom, so let's save our 16 and (now) 18 for that madness. We're level 7 for his little adventure, so I'll need to pick a Feat or max out my Dex, but I'm getting ahead of myself. All told, my Attributes are as follows:
STR - 4 (!)
DEX - 18
CON - 10
INT - 13
WIS - 16
CHA - 12
But who needs Strength when I'm FAST and cute! He said, unknowing of the horrors his friend DM will unleash upon him for his birthday. Lawl.
By Level 7 I've got most of the things that make Monk great: Evasion, my fists overcome resistances, stunning strike, DEFLECT MISSILES, Ki, and Unarmored Defense. Next, I have a Feat to consider, and in a game that supports most raw numbers better than flavor, my first experience with 5E monk in a full campaign avoided Feats in favor of maxing out that beautiful Dex score. However, Mobile has served me well in the past (but Drunken Technique will open that door nicely) and Lucky or Alert are always super helpful. This time around, I'm favoring story over numbers, and I like the idea that this little Kobold can be favored by decent luck when things go awry; another testament to his survivability. Tonight I choose Lucky, and call it a day. Meaning, I shall shape up as such:
Class: Monk - 7 (Way Of The Drunken Master)
STR - 4 (-3)
DEX - 18 (+4)
CON - 10
INT - 13 (+1)
WIS - 16 (+3)
CHA - 12 (+1)
I'm going to use stale potatoes as projectiles, jerky as nunchucks, and spices as emotional currency. Keesh seeks to improve everyday cuisine by unlocking your senses, enhancing your flavor palette, and pairing everything with chocolate - because you can't go wrong with chocolate. Ever.
I'll let ya'll know how he plays at the table.
See you there.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, and aspiring fiction author.