Monday, December 8, 2014

Graveyard Musings

I live two blocks form the Bohemian National Cemetery. I pass by it every day on the way to work. I've admired the stonework on the tombstones for years.

My girlfriend and I finally decided to take a walk through there.

First off, these Canadian Geese need to be taken care of. They have managed to leave their droppings on almost every section of that place. Foulness indeed!

Outside of that though, as I walked through, I had several thoughts flash through my mind.

Of interest to me, were the portraits of people, even on old tombstones.

I saw several such tombstones, where one of the images was missing. What if in a modern Vampire campaign, the image is missing because a vampire or other immortal creature doesn't want his visage being linked to one on a person that's supposedly dead?

Next up, several of the tombstones had decorative elements that were of animals.


While it's all too easy to blame the medusa when it's a full fledge statue of someone, what if a medusa that's not necessarily evil, sells her services to capture animals for ornamental purposes? While a druid of other nature protector might find the idea of squirrels and pigeons disappearing problematic, it's a low enough level threat that such an individual might even find welcome in a more progressive city. Imagine then if someone tried to frame the medusa?

On the other hand, what if in an evil society, the culture specifically breeds handsome and beautiful individuals, training them well and insuring them of physical perfection, only to turn them to stone when a patriarch of the family dies? Further evil would be killing said person with poison that acts as some type of ecstasy so that they die with a smile on their face and then turning that corpse into a statue. Heroes trying to reverse the process will find their efforts leaving only corpses.


Several of the tombs had places that looked like they could hold oil for flame. What if part of the standard duties of the attendants is to insure that at night, those flames are lit? In case any undead do show themselves, they can be spotted easier and set aflame easier. Perhaps it's a sacred white or blue flame that only affects the undead in addition to shedding light more than ample enough to see by?


And what of the unknown dead? What if the players have to find a specific headstone but the graveyard has suffered such vandalization that tombstones are missing?

Even on some of the older tombstones and inside some of the crypts, there was evidence that people were still honoring the dead with flowers. In a setting with long lived races, would those races make a pilgrimage to a famous site to show their respect to the dead? Would families follow rites and rituals to insure that their honored dead remained at peace?

The talent at display in some of these works is amazing. I can easily see famous artists having to carefully pick their patrons and in a fantasy game, some might even come under threat if they did not do as a powerful patron bid them.

Some of monuments towered well over ten feet tall. The Chicago weather though is most unkind and while several were still readable, many had lost their readability to the ravages of time.

I kept my eye out for different types of stonework to see how they look. I paint miniatures and I always like having reference points. Some of the tombs appeared to have copper doors that had long since become green. Some had locks where rust was evident and I doubt it would take more than a good pull to yank the chain open.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stag's Helm: Magic Item For 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

One of the things that is terrible in running 5th edition is the lack of magic items. Well, that problem should be resolved somewhat by the publication of the Dungeon Master's Guide, which if you didn't go 'Black Friday' at your FLSG, you still don't have.

But that doesn't solve the problem of unique magic items, such as the Stag's Helm in the Pathfinder setting. It's an item that the Stag Lord has about him. But it's a relatively simple magic item so here's my take of it:

Description:
This striking helmet is crafted to resemble the skull of a mighty stag. Although made from bone, the antlers and helm are as strong as metal. When worn, the helm greatly enhances eyesight and hearing, granting a +2 bonus on Perception checks. In addition, once per day the helm may be called upon to enhance any ranged attack made by the wearer to make an insightful shot. Activating this ability is a free action, and once activated, your next ranged attack against a target within 30 feet is made with advantage. If you don't make a ranged attack within 1 round of activating this power, the insight fades and is wasted for that day.

A worshiper of Erastil who wears this helm may utilize the insightful shot ability up to 3 times per day.





The Perception check isn't a big deal as both games have Perception skill checks. The original item had a feat and I didn't want to break down the feat and go into all that detail when there was already a mechanic to represent gaining some advantage, in this case, having advantage on an attack roll.

The image is from the Kingmaker Game Master Item Cards. They're inexpensive clocking in at under $10 and can give you some visual cues to various things that don't necessarily just copy the art from the RPG products. The cards are a nice idea but it's rare that the bottom of the deck's stay together and even rarer when I can open the set without inflicting some damage to the box itself. Argh!

Anyone else rolling up new magic items or are people still waiting on the official book?




Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fantasy and Historical Kindle Sales aka Cheap Reads!

I'm going to start off with some questions asking for any reader's opinions of these books that are on sale and then break out some recommendations. If you'd like to see a different format in future posts, please let me know!



The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. I read the original trilogy and thought the end was a nice twist on the whole hero of prophecy. Has anyone read the new series by Brandon? For $2.99 is it a good delve?



Ben Bova has several books in his Grand Tour series. Anyone read them and have any comments, concerns or recommendations on which are good and which to skip? I've read Ben Bova's Orion series and loved it. That was some great stuff but while Orion was a little more Science Fantasy these look to be more on the science fiction side of the genre.




Last one asking questions is The Knight by Gene Wolf. I've read some of his stuff decades ago and I've heard positives and negatives about this series. So for anyone whose read it, how does it stack up? Is it manageable?



Now for recommendations:

Both of these are by Steven Burst. Both in the same setting. I found them a little dry to be honest but thought that they were entertaining and the time lapse between the two books is nothing as these aren't short lived people. The Phoenix Guards is the first in this series and on sale while Five Hundred Years After takes up the mantle well, Five Hundred Years later! I've seen them described as fantasy based versions of the Three Musketeers.

Note only the first book in the series is on sale!



Lord of the Isles by David Drake. I've only read the first three books in between numerous things that were happening in the personal live at the time but it's on the scale and scope of other series like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and A Game of Thrones. There were some great characters that I'm looking forward to getting back into when time and attention span allow.



Anyone know Glen Cook? Did the Black Company series. It was a fantasy series that focused on a group of mercenaries. That series was grim and gritty and had characters dying left and right including the leadership of the company itself!

I've still found some of those books my most enjoyed fantasy bits and yanked whole campaign elements into my game from them. His Instrumentalities of the Night wasn't as good to me, but still worth reading and for $2.99 you can check out the first book in the series.



If I've missed any on the list that are great, give a shout out and a link! If I've missed any that are on sale but aren't on the list, throw those in too! It's a great time to be a fantasy reader!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Family and Black Friday

Outside of my mother, my family lives outside of Chicago. Every now and again, sometimes for no reason, my mom and I visit her brother and wife in semi-nearby Teagarden. It's under a two hour drive and we usually stop at one of the various rest stops and pick up some coffee and baked goods or something of that nature.

Yesterday's trip was no different. We made it out there in great time. The traffic was minimal on the way out. We did have a slight problem in that there are new roads that make the trip a little different. At one point as we pulled off of I think it was 31, we saw a mound of ravens. As the car drew closer, that ravens scattered to the skies and under them lay a dead deer. It had seen better days.

While that might have been a grim reminder of mortality and the dangers of animal crossings and interaction with humans, it was very visually impressive. Sorry if that sounds morbid but I'd never seen something of that nature so up close before with the crows and it was striking.

The traffic was even better on the return trip although there were no macabre sights.. While there was a slight amount of snow on the way out, it was clear sailing on the way in.

It was good to visit with my uncle.

I jokingly call him the Great Bear Hunter.

Like many people his age, in this case 78, he's done a lot. He is still at this moment doing things. This includes doing charity work as well as farming.  This includes pruning trees, making his own maple syrup from trees, growing potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and pepper in addition to a variety of fruit.

I don't know where he gets the energy. He is a boundless machine always on the move and always onto something. For example, he has bird feeders and I managed to snag a picture of a woodpecker. We have them in Chicago but it's rare that one is essentially an outstretched arm away.





His wife Barbara, doesn't tell as many good stories but she is a great cook. The food we enjoyed was simple well prepared and in huge portions. It included all of the 'standard' fare such as turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce (home made)

 and other goods that I've probably not given a proper nod to like the deviled eggs, which I don't eat.

All in all, it was a very pleasant time. My mom enjoyed herself greatly and that makes my own life much easier.


My own contributions were even more simple. I brought over a variety pack of Red Hook. My uncle was very pleased with it. Apparently he is a fan of ales which despite knowing him my whole life, I've never realized. Here he is "This is a hell of a beer." If only everyone was so easy to please.

My mom joked that she had spent all morning on baking this cake. It's a Sam's Club Cake. While Wal-Mart and the Waltons may be terrible people in what they do to the economy and people's lives, they make a damn fine cake.
I could feel my blood crystallizing to sugar as I ate it. It also reminded me to bring my own coffee for Barb's coffee machine. I don't know what brand or type they use but it is some of the worst coffee I've ever had. I keep pouring milk into it to give it some saving grace and by the time I was done, was drinking milk instead of coffee.

When I got home last night, I saw that Microsoft was doing a fantastic giveaway of music on their X-Box Music app. To get the deals though, you had to download the Music Deal App. Which when you clicked on the music, took you back to the Music App. Every time.

You suck Microsoft. Seriously ,that's just terrible design.

But thanks for the free music. You're okay in that venue at least. Some great stuff there and some stuff that I already owned, but remastered and expanded and deluxe versions. Good stuff and the price was awesome. Some stuff I also would never buy, like numerous country albums, but my mom is a huge fan and so burned onto CD for her!

I did burn through my blank's though/ Between my mom and me, while I appreciate the cloud and keeping everything there, I like to have physical media as a backup. So I ordered some blanks from Amazon. Officemax had them cheaper but then you had to pay tax and a good chunk for shipping and handling.

I then saw Amazon had a coupon for 30% off any book (code HOLIDAY30).  Since I'm a prime member, I had to decide if I was going to get anything. I narrowed it down between two books. One for 'fun' the other for gaming. The one for gaming is Inner Sea Gods for Pathfinder. I'm more interested in the background stuff. Some of the gods are fun and have analogs in traditional fantasy roles like Gorum for Tempus from Forgotten Realms. 

The other one I'm looking at is The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe. The KINDLE book is over $25 so with the 30% off, the physical book is probably a better deal. I freely admit that this is due to watching the two different Borgia series.

I went with Inner Sea Gods. Bad gamer! Then again, I'm running some Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition using the Pathfinder setting. I wanted a different set from Forgotten Realms. If you love what Wizards of the Coast has done with the setting, great. I hate it. If I ever ran Forgotten Realms again, it'd probably be with the setting pre-4th edition.

I also saw an author note that a compendium of five books, The Nameless Dwarf, was on sale for 99 cents in kindle format. How can you beat 99 cents for five books? They would have to be almost comedically bad to not get value out of that.

I'm probably going to check out Half Priced Books later on today and hit up the Microsoft Music store again. Usually Amazon with their various deals on Black Friday, has some great sales but this year both Google and Microsoft soundly beat them in pricing. 

Anyone else pick up anything great? Anyone take advantage of any of the various sales going on for the specialty items and things gamers love that usually don't hit the mainstream? 

Regardless of what else happens, have a great day!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Thief Taker by T. F. Banks


The Thief Taker, by T. F. Banks, is the first book in the Memoirs of A Bow Street Runner. At this point, there are only two books in the series, but if the second is as good as the first, I'm down for it and any future volumes from T. F. Banks.

I've read a few books recently, many of them historical in nature, but this one is probably the best written I've read recently. Memoirs takes place starting in June 1815, in 'Regency London', before the time of Scotland Yard. It deals with murder and other elements, all of which are subtly influenced by the great war against Napoleon in the background.

The author uses a wide casts of characters surrounding Henry Morton, a 'Bower', a man of the law who works with the law but is not an actual police man. Henry is present when Halbert Glendinning is found dead and pronounced dead due to choking on his own bile, which Henry, a man of the world, knows not to be the case.

T. F. Banks does a solid job of providing a lot of background and unique language to bring the novel and its time to life. For example, when going to see a hanging, it's referred to as a 'necktie party'. The character's and their creeds stand out not only in what they do, but how they refer to and act upon one another. For example, Henry himself, due to his more law abiding nature, is often referred to as 'Sir Galahad' and is used when a well known honest Bower is needed.

While the timeline is more modern than many of the books I regularly read, it's not so far advanced that things are easy to investigate. For example, the use of, identification of, and mastery of, poison, is far more hindered, accepted, or even considered at this time. The proof to show poisoning, especially if the murdered victim appears to have suffered another fate, are great and can only be overcome with an excessive amount of evidence.

The backdrop of the war against Napoleon is also interesting in its use. The mention of the war showcasing many dead British soldiers in the field, as well as acting as an element to allow some to advance due to their own reckless skills. The pulling together of the British people as a proud nation, to embrace that patriotism and be a part of something bigger, even if the day to day struggles are difficult to overcome.

Most telling in other fields, is how the class society works itself. Much like in most societies, including Modern America, those from a certain 'class' are meant to act and behave in a certain way. Those who've managed to do better for themselves then they should, may often be looked upon with some degree of favor, but are always just on the edge of being noted for not actually belonging to those upper classes.

And those who are working with authorities? Even those who may not be of any means themselves? How could they be aught but traitors to those around them? How can man worry about looking over his shoulder daily when his fellow man is out to turn him in? And even worse if some who are doing evil, known that those who claim to be working for the law are taking bribes and kickbacks to insure that the money flows in the manner in which they want?

The Thief Taker is well written but isn't excessive in its length. Weighing in at 325 pages, it's a quick read that does its job in half the pages some authors need to just get into the prolog. If you're looking for a good murder mystery that keeps the pace, The Thief Taker is well worth your time.

For those wondering what Appendix N inspiration I may take from this volume, there are a few bits.

1. Mixed Origin: Henry Morton is a bastard child of a maid whose education was thanks to his mother being taken in by his father, sight unseen, sister, who was going to raise Henry for the church. This lead to him having an education that someone of his mother's means should not be able to afford. But Henry's eclectic mix goes a bit further than that. While Henry is described as a large man, he is able to make the best use of that with his boxing skill, one that he hones often. Despite that, Henry is also a reader of poetry, including that of such famous individuals as Lord Byron.

Having a character with a mix of elements to their nature is a good way to insure that your own characters don't fall into a flat or boring mix. It allows you to have a toe dipped into different factions for a reason.

2. Corruption: The police that Henry works with often do not like the Bowers. Turns out they have good reason as at least one group that Henry works with, is corrupt to the point of setting individuals up for murder. Having organizations that suffer from corruption can provide a nice change of pace for things. For example, the Harpers. Imagine that your party is sent to take out some Cult of the Dragon Members but are sold out by the Harpers who are actually in alliance with the Cult, sending stupid adventurers to them in order to kill them and strip them of their goods. Who is going to believe a group of random wandering adventurers that the Harpers tried to set them up to be murdered and robbed?

3. Ambush: When the party is on the move in a city, and reliant on transportation coming from a third party, say a wagon, and that wagon leads them into an ambush? Priceless!

4. Love: Part of the story involves murder and that murder is initiated by jealousy. There are many types of love in the world but when that love is bright with such unrestrained fury that there can be no others in the loved one's life? Things can get messy.

5. Suffer the Children: As in the Templar Mysteries, the children of 1800 London are not treated kindly. Things that should outrage any normal person are often seen as part of the normal establishment. Having characters witness such horrors should be a powerful motivator for them to do better for their homes and to be better people themselves.

The Thief Taker has a lot of bits that can easily provide many a night's inspiration ranging from the different names and aspects of the characters, to showing how an arc that doesn't involve the characters directly, in this case the war against Napoleon, can directly effect those characters as the nation and city must wait for baited breath of what shall happen next.




Death By Dragon: Week Five of Kingmarker with Lost Mine of Phandelver

I've made mention before that my campaign started off as a combination of elements from Lost Mine of Phandelver and the Paizo Kingmarker Adventure Path.

As a quick note, Lost Mine of Phandelver to me, is the best 'official' adventure Wizards of the Coast has put out yet and if you haven't picked up the starter set yet, Amazon has it for $11.99.

I'm still digesting the kingdom rules from the hardcover Ultimate Campaign, so didn't want to run Rivers Run Red just yet. While there are elements that don't rely on the player's having the kingdom in play, I wanted to give the players as much Kingdom awesome as I could and well, wasn't ready. Thankfully the group is cool about that and I mentioned that they should follow up on their missing Dwarf co-Pathfinder member. It costs them!

Instead of using Phandalin as presented, I swapped it out with the River Kingdoms city of Pitax.I felt this worked out well in several ways. First, it's a fairly decent sized city. Important when the players are looking for spells and other mundane items that might take a while to find out their current outpost. Second, I don't know if it's a deliberate attempt or not, but Pitax feels very much like Rome in that it's almost a 'renaissance' city with lots of families doing various corrupt things and having a pleasant facade to hide behind. After watching the series Borgia, I was ready to role play some of that out.

It also didn't hurt that the players will eventually have different things to come to Pitax for in the future if we follow through with the entire Kingmarker series.

In Pitax, the players learned a bit about the city, about River Kingdoms in general, about some of the families here, and sought out information on their dwarf friend whose been held prisoner since oh, week one of the game I want to say?

They learned the whereabouts of a druid who knew the local region well and sought him out. During that bit, they encountered some twig blights. These are little evil halfling treants basically and the party made quick work of them. Why WoTC wants to keep using them as I don't think they've ever been popular since their introduction in Sunless Citadel in 3e era, I can't imagine.

There were also some unique zombies, ash zombies, that had a little extra ability, a nice example of a mini-template.

But the druid? He had the information that the party wanted, but needed a certain young green dragon gone. One of the players had a bit of background in his campaign that I used to include the dragon, Venomfang, in as his main antagonists.

Now the dragon's in a tower. The tower is so many feet wide and so many feet deep. It's basically a cooking oven for the dragon's poisonous breath.

Remember that elf monk I've mentioned in the past? That I painted up a Stonehaven miniature for?

Missed his first save. Took 42 points of damage in first round of combat. Erdan Nailo, who put clan above self, an elf that could hold a grudge? Dead.

The party made some good efforts at killing the creature. The druid casting some resistance from poison on himself, the halfling rogue having an innate resistance to poison. The dragonborn leaping upon the creature's back, which I gave him advantage for as long as he stayed on.

But then, at the player's roll, as few things are as entertaining as making the players roll their own potential doom, the dragon's breath weapon recharged. Another blast and Damaia, a tiefling warlock, who the player hadn't updated to 4th level from 2nd yet, went down, as did Naronel, an elf wizard. The elf player screwed that up and I allowed it, because he mentioned that he wanted to leave the tower, but then didn't actually do so. Who was I to allow him to not stay for the barbeque?  At that point, the dragon had taken over half his hit points in damage, which the text calls for a retreat.

If I had been running things to kill, oh yeah, it would've been an easy TPK but that's no fun. Especially as the dragon was taunting Kontos, the dragonborn who had him written into his background, pissing the other players off who felt that the dragonborn knew more about their foe than he let on.

So the dragon shakes off the dragonborn fighter, who fails his Athletics roll and takes 4d6 falling damage, and the party claims the loot!

At this point I'm giving the new characters 1,000 gold pieces, no access to magic items, and half experience points of the lowest level character. How do other people handle introducing new characters?

The group voted on the experience rules, so I don't feel bad about them, but as the Dungeon Master's Guide isn't out, still a little 'weirded' out by allowing magic items. I might just rule that those killed by dragon breath had all their items destroyed and that their new character can start off with similiar items.

Next week we're taking a break. I'm still reading Ultimate Campaign from Paizo to get the Kingdom building rules in place. Some interesting stuff there. Too bad for the group that they just lost three positions! Take that stupid adventurers!

One of my players is going to do a paladin and wants to use the rules for assimar that are available from the Dungeon Master's Guide preview which I said okay. It's not like the rules are going to make THAT big a difference and the book will be out soon enough. Another is making a wild mage with a charlatan background.

That charlatan background bit is particularly funny to our group because one of the other players, in our last campaign, Warhammer Thousand Thrones, was an Imperial Wizard, who our hedge wizard initially labeled as a charlatan and it stuck with that character till his death.

The last player hasn't decided what she's making yet. Hopefully all of her goods and abilities are fully up to date this time!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Borgia: Triumph and Oblivion

The non-Showtime version of the Italian familia, Borgia, has just hit Netflix with a Netflix Original season three, Triumph and Oblivion. For those confused that there are two cable series with similiar names, this article does a good job of breaking down some of the differences.

While there were a lot of liberties taken with historical means and events, and some things not followed up on from previous seasons as I'd hoped, overall it was a very satisfying season and brought a nice close to a strong series.

I'll be hitting some specific spoilers below that relate to how my brain looks at a series like this and associates it with the various role playing games I run or play in.

1. Alliances: The man who would be Cesar, Cesare Borgia, loses his power towards the end of the series. In so doing, he finds himself at the mercy of others and it rapidly goes to show that without having his own power base, he must ally himself wherever the winds blow. But such waters are filled with...

2. Treachery: When you are approached by multiple nobles and rulers who wish to make use of your unique abilities, how do you trust any of them to do right by you once you've performed whatever deed they wanted in the first place?

3. Secrets: During his imprisonment, one of Cesare's fellows is a priest. Turns out that priest was a former Jew who gave up the faith to save his life. Cesare noting the pain and terror that the man knew, is able to convince the now priest to help Cesare escape, even though it costs the Jew his life. Secrets have a powerful role in Italy and it's the wise characters who fetter them out.

4. Shifting Sands: While the series doesn't try to go strictly by historical records or events, there are two parts that dovetail nicely into other material I've read. One of those is that Cesare didn't' have any plan for if he was near death at the same time his own father died. By not being in power or in command at full strength, this allows others to take a larger role in the world to come. In helping to elect a Pope that was a former enemy, Cesare makes what is probably his last 'big' mistake in that it's all downhill for the former Prince at that time. Being able to navigate among the many powers, even in a smaller country comprising of City States like Rome was surrounded by at the time, as opposed to the 'countries' of Spain and France, without the right backing, it's easy for even the mightiest to fall.

5. Disease: One of the interesting bits about the series, is it doesn't shy away from disease as a cause of death. The 'bad winds' that hit Rome thanks to its proximity to water and the insects that tend to love such an environment, were the end of the Pope and almost the end of Cesare himself. When looking at the role disease plays in a campaign, in any setting, is it a seasonal thing? Is it localized to a specific country? Look at 'The French Disease', brought home to France from the New World. Look around in today's environment and the fear of Ebola. The fear that diseases cause can be greater than the disease itself. Keep those elements, both historical and current, in mind when deciding how much power disease has.

6. The Dead Speak! One of the things I was curious about, was what would they do when the Pope died? Instead, Cesare, when facing doubt or failure, imagines himself seeing his father and the conversations they would have were his father still alive. It works well in this instance as they don't have the opportunity to overdue it.

7. Turn the Page: One of the things they did quite a bit differently, is how Cesare's story ends. Historically, it doesn't turn out well. Killed in an almost random brawl against some knights and stripped bear as they didn't know who he was, but here, Cesera leaves everything behind and instead heads to those newly discovered 'Americas' to start life anew. It's an interesting twist on things and I say 'Turn the Page' because I know even in completely fictitious campaign settings like Star Wars and Forgotten Realms, you may get some 'scholars' who are bound and determined to have a setting adhere to canon as close as possible. When it suits your campaign and your game and everyone else is having a good time? Let canon die.

8. Your Think Your Family is Bad: The only character of the Borgia family to not be cast as a monstrous creature, is the Pope's daughter, Lucrezia Borgia. She is instead, on her third marriage, striving to bring the light of God into her new family's ways. Turns out that the Boriga's weren't the only family filled with back stabbers, filled with murders, filled with those who would commit any one of the seven dead sins. And that follows in the footsteps of the Pope that came after the Borgia pope!

9. Complex Characters: One of the things I enjoyed about 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons was the simplification of alignment leaving the 'extreme' ends almost to the supernatural entities. People are complex. We're not ants with the ability to only perform one function. While some of the deeds done by these individuals are truly monstrous, they also helped fund and expand the Renaissance itself. Some of the greatests artists still admired five hundred years later, came to prominence at this time. Find something that is 'normal' about the bad guys. Do they feed the hungry because they grew up poor? Do they have a fondness for children because they grew up without parents? Do they enjoy a certain type of music and fund a college of bards to play that music? Giving bad guys something that the players can relate to doesn't void the vile things such characters may commit, but it does make them more rounded and less super villainy.

Borgia: Triumph and Oblivion isn't perfect but it's a fun ride to a series that I feared would not have the opportunity to have it's swan song.