It's a mixture of Western and a mixture of Horror, and it's called The Burrowers (don't believe it's screened here yet...so I won't say too much).
There are some strange goings-on out in the West, when a family goes missing. As it's a white family, a posse gets together and goes out hunting (Red) Skins, but there may be more going on than just human interactions.
Performance-wise we're talking mid-level stars here, some people you would recognise, but no big name stars. There does seem to be a 'subdued light' filter to everything, but the night scenes are quite viewable. The creatures are built up slowly, with just hints to begin with, until we finally see... whatever they are. (San loss!) To be honest, the ending wasn't that surprising.
A decent enough movie, but nothing earth-shattering. Not over the top horror, but it gets the job done. If you like this sort of movie and have time spare, not a bad way to pass the time.
Friday, 31 July 2009
It's a mixture of Western and a mixture of Horror, and it's called The Burrowers (don't believe it's screened here yet...so I won't say too much).
Thursday, 30 July 2009
We have a new player, so go easy on them by having wussy mods, aka CSI-style case mods.
The first one wasn't supposed to be a mod, but due to a certain player stuffing up their rolling, we launched into an exciting time, the reason behind it all being something two of us spotted as soon as it started. Darken Your Door.
Then we are onto a case proper. We encounter the largest palm tree in the world, fail to get between two police partners, and Ulman refuses to look at the gift on his desk. Place.
Over in Britain, Simon Singh is in a legal battle with the British Chiropractic Association, because he dared to publish an article asking "where's the science?". Below the fold is a blog-friendly version of that article, which many blogs are posting today. A full, uncensored-by-lawyers version of the article is available via Orac.
More about what bloggers are today doing and about this in general can be read in Ben Goldacre's Guardian article.
Beware the Spinal Trap
Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.
You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.
In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.
You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.
I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.
But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.
In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.
More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.
Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.
Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”
This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.
If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.
Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
We ran (literally!) back to the Emir's city to find more chaos blobs there. One still remained, being fought by Reed and guardsmen. We got stuck in, and laid the smack down on it, when something really icky happened. It infested me. Like, got in under my skin. Eewww! Worms, man, worms under my skin! And it altered my body! Made me stronger, yes, but also slightly less agile and uglier too. Oh, it also made me attack my allies, but I've done that before. While we put the creature down, the changes it did to me are permanent. [And that is how you introduce a slight statistics rearrangement in the middle of a game.]
While we took stock of our situation, and I did some shopping, we found out we needed more information, in particular from an Eye Tyrant (Beholder!) named Azrazin or something (to be honest, I wasn't paying complete attention at the time. Look, shiny new Gauntlets!). The Emir paid us money to go to talk to him, and off we went!
Oh, and the Beholder was also a Wizard. With illusionary fortifications and everything. We decided for the main entrance (Not Party Subtle), walked in and got into a fight (strange that). There was a really annoying creature I spent most of my time with, while others dealt with goblins and human fighters. All of whom had their two eyes removed and one eye in the middle of their head inserted.
After dealing with them, we didn't have enough time to really rest before some proper Cyclops came along. They seemed to see Drow everywhere, so obviously confused [they could see through the Disguise Hat, which is what more than some of us can]. Still, we got stuck in and laid the smack down. Surprisingly, I was barely hit at all!
Then we found the Beholder. Which attacked us for the mere reason we killed its guys. Huh, some people. However, as it was a wizard, it was just as annoying as Alrick with laying down tentacles, and not being able to be seen from a distance. Not to mention the eye rays. But I only nearly died once. Once we took a good chunk of it out, it surrendered to us, and offered to help us find the information we needed. Despite some members of the party threatening to kill it anyway, we accept its offer.
Turns out there's a Chained God somewhere that is escaping, and only another God can chain it. But no God can go where the Chained God is... Now there's a stumper...
Monday, 27 July 2009
Time for more cutesiness, and what better way that have lots of story about "family" in Ice Age 3? Everyone's hooking up or producing a family, even Scrat isn't immune (although what exactly Scrat's true love is...).
But there are dinosaurs, through a plot contrivance that isn't as bad as many other plot contrivances out there, and the dinosaurs stop the schmaltzy family ooze from being too overwhemling, as soon Sid is in trouble and hilarity ensues. If it wasn't amazing enough how those prehistorical mammals were like it, it's even more amazing that they actually know what dinosaurs are (for some reason, that plot point really bugged me. Do they have history classes or archeology or something? And yet, I can buy that a sabre-tooth tiger, a mammoth and a sloth can come together as friends. Huh).
Surprise guest voice is Simon Pegg, playing Buck. Definitely him if you know what to listen for, and he clearly has fun with the part. As do the rest of the cast. It's odd how hearing a mammoth with the voice of Roy Romano is considered perfect casting.
Fun enough movie, but remember it is for kids, which some parents might utilise by bringing their clearly too young offspring too. Not the first kids movie better enjoyed by having no kids around.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
This is undoubtedly a strange listening experience. Very discordant sound that just grates on the ears, and yet... is something that draws you in. Definitely should be heard with headphones.
On the other hand, having heard The Residents, not that bizarre, really.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
After much time spent finding out what was up with people unable to being resurrected, I eventually found out that my other compatriots dealt with it, and Alrick now had his own fortress in the Shadowfell (yeah, he's not "evil", not "evil" at all). Huh. News also reached us that the Emir wanted us to return to the mainland, which we decided to agree to because it was otherwise a quiet morning.
On getting there quickly, thanks to Reed, he told us he was having trouble with random outbreaks of chaos to the north, and would we mind terribly sorting it out? Joining up with Alrick, an non-evil-Drow-scum Elf Rogue named Valduur and a Githyanki Warlock named... never did find out, and a collection of servants and minions, we set out.
We were halfway there when we woke up in the night with awful stomach pains, although this was clearly worse for others when they exploded into demons! We were hard-pressed to deal with the attacks, and I once again neared the realm of the Raven Queen, although we finally proved victorious. [Even at Epic level, commensurately my defenses and attacks suck. It's a problem not being optimised.]
Only us, the chef and a servant (and horses) were left, and the next day we saw a meteor impact ahead of us. The impact created a forest fire, which some of us proved up to the task of handling and others of us... [damn dice rolls]. We struggled closer to the impact, which is the city we were heading for, to find it a ruin and only one survivor that quickly ran away screaming [bad dice rolls all around].
We did track a large beastie from the town to find some weird chaotic shape-changing horror that was fighting against some kind of obstacle. Deciding that it was 'evil', we attacked! As it was only one creature, I kept out of the way and let the more defended party members get in close. [Go go ranged powers! Of which I have around... two! Still, Defensive Strike saved the day!]
The final scene we saw were more meteors heading towards the Emir's town we started from...
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Forty years ago a man walked on the moon. An amazing feat, to be sure, and there has been a lot of news over the past week reviving the old footage and stories and such... but, what's the point?
Yes, we like round numbers, so 40 years, instead of 39 or 42, but is it just that we are in a more communication possible world that we are getting all this celebration now?
To be honest, in another 40 years, are we going to be simply celebrating this again, or will we have new achievements to talk about?
Since then, we have an International Space Station, and tons upon tons of more satellites and other space junk, but nothing really epic any more. There is talk of going to Mars, but that is unlikely to happen any time soon due to the distances and radiation evolved.
More reasoned discussion is a moon colony, which is where I might hope that we might have been by now. This is really the next step, trying to set up some self-sustaining colony that isn't on earth, but not too far away (if a few days travel could be considered 'not too far away', but certainly easier to get help to than the months to Mars). But there's no sign of this happening any time soon either.
And I don't think NASA will be the next big player, it's just too hamstrung by administration and being tied up by the government. Private companies are getting in to it, and they'll likely be the source of major developments...
In shorter, take a look at Bullsh*t's view of NASA, sums up a lot of these points. Part I, Part II, Part III.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Was busy last week, GMed the week before, so was happy to get back to being Terry. Unfortunately, the mod was based on an episode of TV... which I had already seen. So I was on a No Brainer! Yay! At least I managed to have some fun with my car. We took longer than the last guys to do this, but, unlike them, we got it solved. Crip Redoux.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
There is a lot of craziness in the world, and in some countries superstitions run wild. Consider this case of Kiwi freemasons being held in Fiji under the charge of sorcery.
That's really out-moded thinking there. That anyone could think that Freemasonry is anything other than just a bunch of people getting together, especially that the Freemasons think this. (Not that I can be a Freemason. Checking their FAQ: "However, to be a Freemason you must have a belief in a "supreme being"." Well, that's me out.)
Also there's the idea of sorcery. This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon belief in Fiji. The freemasons claim: "There is absolutely no sorcery," [Laurence Milton] told Stuff. "It is like saying the opening of parliament is sorcery, it is simply a ceremony."
Really? You say that when we are in a country (and I'm referring to New Zealand here) that practices the rite of Kawanga-Whare, a Maori house cleaning ceremony done at new houses and buildings.
We laugh at the idea of "sorcery". What about the idea of "ritual"?
Friday, 17 July 2009
Wellington is building a new Supreme Court. I'm sure the final result will be very pretty, and here is the artist's impression.
Looks like an interesting pattern along it, right? The building is partly done, but most of that design is up. Let's take a look.
Here is the design in place, with a somewhat grey sky behind it. It's representing the Pohutukawa tree, aka the Christmas tree. See the red bits at the top? No?
Try this image.
Pretty looking, yet somehow... metal.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Although I don't drink the stuff, I have to give a cheers to the people behind the marketing campaign for McKenna... whatever it is. They wanted an image that would evoke, easily, the idea of time travel. But how? How?? HOW???
This is not the only place I've seen it recently. Coincidentally, there's a new flash game on Armor Games that is Pandas BIG Adventure, which involves the Panda going on a trip through time. In what? That's right, a portaloo!
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
We were stuck in swamp, not a good place to be. We look out to see other swamp islands, one with signs of beings, one with signs of ruined buildings. We think ruined buildings is the way to go.
But to get there, we transverse the islands. First is vine bridge to next island. It was 'vine' for me, but not for others. They go splash. From there, it is fallen iron tree to another island. Warden go first, and find Draconians on other side. We take a while to get to fight, we fall in water as well, water not nice. When I close, I unleash deafening winds on them. Am very good, and lead to their deaths. However, Warden also die. At least, we think so, but Goldmoon stab him with blue crystal staff and he not dead. She says she can't do that again.
We continue on, skirting island with people, although we (me and Barbarian) sneak through island and via fallen obelisk to island with ruins while others swim. We investigate ruins and find what Riverwind calls a "birthhole". I call it a well. [Birthhole? Were the editors asleep?] Hole does birth dragon. Not fantasy after all! We pound on dragon, and I bring the storm down on it good, but it run away after we bloody it.
We find Goldmoon in temple. God-type voice speaks of gold plates that we must find. We decide to search temple first. Find another group of Draconians. I kill them real good again, but again Warden die. This time, he stay dead. Humans seem upset about this. If only we may find a prisoner or such to replace him...
We also find group of small... things of Clan Gulp. Or Glup. Or something. We talk them into obeying us, and they say they will lead us to Thane. We will go, after we rest. Long day, full of much death. No doubt there will be more tomorrow.
Monday, 13 July 2009
Yes, the name has been announced. One Ryan Reynolds is going to be the new Green Lantern.
And I realised that something else would happen just as quickly... fan made trailers featuring Green Lantern and Ryan Reynolds! A quick search of YouTube shows... just the one. So far.
Not the best, but marks for getting in first.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
What would you do to save the world? What price would you pay? Where do you draw the line? This is a question answered by many characters during this adventure.
So, the 456 turn up again and want the Children of Earth (despite the fact that they seemingly are able to control children anyway, and probably could just take them, but...). People give in. Teh end.
Actually, there are two stories here. First up, Torchwood is under attack, although considering they are the main stars, I was expecting the typical "fortunately they just managed to escape without too much harm" (a la Fragments). In some ways this is just to pad the story out and... really doesn't have to much impact. Sure, Torchwood are without all their high-tech gear, but doesn't seem to stop them too much.
Then there's the story of the children. I can't help but think that if it had been adults the 456 wanted, this wouldn't have been nearly as dramatic as it was. (ObLine: "Won't somebody think of the children!?") But since it was children, and this thus became all about the emotional impact of protecting the children, there wasn't much doubt that the children wouldn't be in too much danger.
Although there was plenty of death to be had. Even here I'm not going to reveal too much, but there are some very poignant moments where people are making a stand by dying for a cause, and in some cases making the hard decisions for others to die. No wonder we got the ending we did.
This was a five-night telling, but it was done in very broad scenes, with a lot of time devoted to each point (without, conversely, getting too detailed). I'm not sure how easy this will be to rewatch, not just from knowing what will happen, but also I'm not sure what else there will be gain from each scenes. I don't doubt people will be saying "oh, look at this nuance", but a lot of it will be what people project into each scene.
(Two complaints, from the last episode: bad CGI children scene, and how did everyone know the threat was gone so suddenly?)
People (ie fans) will talk about this for time to come, and it will be analyzed in depth. It's an interesting chapter in the series, and it will be interesting to see the wider implications unfold in the Doctor Who universe.
Next time: Interesting question if there can be one. It's been rumoured that there is a fourth, but the series will need a bit of re-charactering before it's ready to roll.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Graffiti is a constant problem, but some of it is art. There's a great example of this in my local suburb, if you head along Newtown Ave to the back of the Liquorland store. There are a group of murals that represent various streets in Newtown back in the ages. (More pics are below the fold. And click on them for a bigger view!)
The thing is, unless you go along this less common street, particularly walking, you'd never get to see it! What surprising images are around your town?
The first one is of the corner of Riddiford Street and Rintoul Street in 1904.
The second is the corner of Riddiford Street and Constable Street in 1905.
The next is Russell Terrace and Mansfield Street in 1910-1915.
Then Wellington Hospital in 1979. Car blocked some of this.
And Daniell Street and Newtown Avenue in 2008.
(Should really try to get these pictures when the sun is on them.)
Friday, 10 July 2009
The Skeptics Conference is open for Registration.
On during the end of September. I gather the conference dinner is nearly full (or could be full already). Get in quick! Nearby accommodation is probably already gone.
Thursday, 9 July 2009
That's it! That's all the proof I needed! Obviously ghosts are real! As this analysis of a clip taken in Michael Jackson's home Neverland proves!
Hmm, now I'm a believer, what else is there to see? A strange girl in a pantry? I'm there!
But let's go for local ghosts, and not just a cat. (And nothing from Ghost Hunters. Just because someone felt afraid in an empty room does not a ghost haunting make. My newfound credulity only goes so far.) Also ignoring other documentaries, I want shaking cams, bad footage, bugs on lens and dust orbs!
There's this place "somewhere in Rotorua", which is filled with ghosts... well, statues and ropes anyway.
Then there's this footage from an apartment in Auckland, reduced in quality and in black and white and brightened and... hard to make out. Would like to see a higher quality photo, preferably even a still in colour so we know what's in the room, but... oooh!
Also check out the amazing footage of someone sleeping in a room said to be haunted by a prostitute, from Vulcan Hotel in Central Otago. You too will believe that while people sleep... they are restless!
Come on people, ghosts are real, let's get more of them on camera!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
I take to the game last weekend by GMing the game. Of five players! Three of whom were in the same room (at Logan's end), the other two on Skype. And one of the players was on a no-brainer. It went on and on, and I dealt with my bad GMing by giving out a lot of cards.
The module was a published adventure by Super Genius Games: Murder of Crows. Although, given how I played them, we called the adventure: Death Crow Swarms.
(Check out a far better GM and group doing this module over at Role Playing Public Radio.)
It been five long years, but at last I return to Solace. I had been travelling through Southern Ergoth, seeking information about the True Gods, no luck there. Have to report failure to Redthorn, but, eh, he human warden. He was the one who tasked us with the idea of splitting up to search for information. There was also Blackwing, human barbarian, of the Que-She tribe like Redthorn, who went off with Kitiana (but did not return with her). Walking with Crow, a human shaman from Haven who joined the Plainsmen of Que-She. An evlen druid Peren, the one I can understand best since we both outsiders to our peoples. And me, a goblin sorcerer, with the power over the storms after... that event...
We originally joined forces many years ago, meeting in Solace, and Redthorn on mission to find information on True Gods, so we split up. Which bring us to five years later, and meeting up again to return to Solace. All of us except Kitiana, she should meet us in Solace. But on way, we encounter hobgoblins lead by a fat one on pony. They look for blue crystal staff, we no have blue crystal staff, they attack us, the others beat them off. [I had two rounds, hit nothing!]
In Solace, we go to inn, meet Kitiana… but she not there. Find two other plainsmen, friends of Redthorn, Riverwing and Goldmoon. Goldmoon daughter of tribe leader, Riverwind and Redthorn fight her for hand by finding True Gods. Riverbend find staff, given to Goldenmoon, but now people looking for it. We join and decide to head for Haven to find out more about staff. (Also some crazy man talking about "dragons". Strange creatures, weird fantasy.)
Set out west for Haven, encounter some lizard creatures. Ha! Can't beat goblin might, storm batters them to pieces! [One daily, but it's a good one! Killed many, many minions.] Decide not to follow road and head through mountain pass to go via woods. Find skeletal warriors, and after some words (goblin very good at convincing others) they lead us to their unicorn forest master. Uni advises we go east to Zak... someplace and put staff back. Give us ride on flying horses! (One day, be able to fly myself with the storm...)
We arrive back at Que-She (although first time there for me) to find it ruined and some burnt corpses. After plainmen cry, we continue east and enter swamp. Find a fortress, go inside to head up for a look, find spiders. Get bitten. Badly. Head towards death, but am brought back. Squish spider! [Don't get into melee, don't get into melee, don't get into melee.] Look around, but worry about plans later.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
It has already happened in the Wellington area, and now there's an incident in Christchurch. I'm talking about a measles outbreak.
And why is there? One important statistic: "Brunton said only one of the 10 infected students had been immunised."
It's this lack of immunisation that leads to people who even have been immunised to getting sick. As the article also says "A decline in immunisation rates meant "herd immunity" where there were enough immune people that the disease could not easily spread had also declined."
It's due to rampant fear of things like "vaccines cause autism". Let me say this as bluntly as possible: VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM.
What's the harm? Here's the harm. One leading speaker in this area is Jenny McCarthy, and here's a page about the body count she has caused.
There are plenty of anti-causality pages around, so I will simply link to one of the better ones rather than recount the details.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Before the next series of Torchwood kicks off in the next few days, BBC Radio put out three radio plays.
Asylum: A woman turns up from the future... that's about it! Somehow this is spun out to 43 minutes. It's not like she's leading an invasion force, or trying to destroy time or anything... she just turns up and it takes time after time after time to get around to doing squat-diddly nothing! Fine, it's a character piece, but it's a slow moving character piece that really pads itself out. Much like this paragraph! Special guest star: PC Andy!
Golden Age: Torchwood India is still alive and running, after 70 years! Woo! Something odd is happening, and Torchwood itself might be the cause, although is it an accident or intentional? Again lots of time is padded out by people wandering around and generally talking without getting to the plot, although when the plot kicks in there is an incredible amount of technobabble.
The Dead Line: The telephones are out to get us! This one was written by Phil Ford, so no surprise it is more Torchwood-y than others. Certainly an interesting set-up, and there's actual plot development that isn't just people standing around talking about matters completely irrelevant to what's going on. Yay! The better adventure, but notable that Jack was written out. Special guest star: Rhys Williams.
(For some reason I think the latter two would be more interesting as Sapphire and Steel plays.)
Friday, 3 July 2009
Thursday, 2 July 2009
I popped up to our local cafe to enjoy some lunch and encountered something intriguing, if not amusing. (This is after they installed a foam dispenser to clean your hands with whenever you go in.)
The place has a range of products available: sandwiches, croissants, cookies, scones, muffins, pastries, lamingtons, etc., etc. Nice, not too expensive, conveniently close.
However, due entirely to the flu pandemic, each and every item is individually wrapped. Everything. Scones. Croissants. Lamingtons.
Okay, okay, I get it, we want to be sanitary, but I am also wondering about the environmental impact. Is the plastic biodegradable? They have been taking care to have wrappings and such for minimal impact, but even so. If everyone was doing this, environmentally sound or not, that has to have an impact...
And, further, the knife and fork cutlery has changed from metal into plastic utensils and napkin... again wrapped in plastic. And yet, the teaspoon with my drink was a metal one.
"Extreme reaction" comes to mind.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
The group are in the spire, and head upwards towards their final destiny at the top, and confrontation with great evil! Aside from in-party glaring, they also intend to fight the big boss.
They pass by the Vrock nest (you don't disturb them, they don't disturb you), past the room with the singer singing something that can be barely heard and cuts off if they enter the hall (it's a ghost bard, run!!!), past the empty chamber, through the library where they find some rituals (now held by the next DM, see below), and up to the Hall of Inquisition...
Torture racks, a fire pit, and iron maidens! Woo! There are brawlers and warriors and some wagons! [Once again Evard's Tentacles neutralises most of the fight. There are a number of problems, such as having a lot of melee fighters, having low defenses and basically not being able to do anything but making a saving throw but being unable to do anything until the next round, by which time they are caught again! The head of the hall remains free, but is unable to hit anyone due to really bad rolling, sigh. And the paladin kills creatures by Bull Rushing them, of all things. Really was a pathetic battle. Even the main bad guy ran away!] No loot, they are disappointed. (Considering they just got the paladin to make them stuff, and the loot they have been getting, they have no leg to stand on upon which to complain. Won't stop them though.)
Up the ladder they go, until they get to the top of the spire, open to the sky. They can see the dark soul cloud overhead, forming a soul vortex that touches the top of the spire. Dragon wraiths drop soul sparks into it, and they pass down and into Urishtar the huge draonic wraith below. Alrick, the evil warlord, asks how he can get in on this action, but eventually they are enjoined in battle. [Ha! Now this was a proper fight. Urishtar moved all over the place, tentacles was no use, and neither were other area effects. Still had plenty of other broken powers (they stay without needing to even sustain them, let alone they still managing to do many attacks and sustain...). The big changer was that the soul sparks could go into anyone and free action point! However, it was all for naught as Urishtar got damaged but no-one else did. Bah!]
Just as well the soul vortex disapated on its own, or it would have new users (Unaligned my ass). They find tons of loot and some shadow dragon eggs, and, plot conveniently, a soul ring with the soul they came for which wasn't destroyed unlike every other soul... Lots of money and xp all round, and they eventually rest, the linear fight sequence done...
[And so, ten sessions later, I end my run as DM. Oh dear gods, taht was not the best adventure to run. We switch now to a Dragonlance campaign, run by someone else, with the occasional dips back into this world when that GM isn't available. Back to being a player...]