Category Archives: Information

Vampires: How Fast Can They Drink?

I don’t usually go in for vampires. I enjoyed the Blade movies. I know that might not be the correct thing to say, but they aren’t bad. I also liked the Vampire Hunter D movies, especially Bloodlust, and the Vampire Hunter D novels. I own quite a few of the Vampire Hunter D novels as well as quite a few of the Noble Dead series by Barb Hendee and J.C. Hendee, but that’s about it. I won’t turn my nose up at a vampire movie or book (unless it’s the Twilight Series), but I also don’t go out of my way for a vampire movie or book. That said I have been reading the Vampire Files by P.N. Elrod recently.

The Vampire Files are about Jack Fleming. He is a vampire working and living in Chicago during the 1930’s. He works as a writer and assists a private agent (read investigator). I don’t think that I will continue with the series, but the writing is good, it just isn’t what I look for when I look for reading material.

Now the reason that I bring up vampires is that there is a scene in the book I was reading where Jack hypnotizes a woman and nearly kills her when he bites her and starts drinking her blood. He manages to stop himself in time, but it got me thinking about vampires and their ability to kill almost instantly from a single bite. I thought is it really possible for a vampire to drain that much blood that fast? Could a vampire actually drink enough blood to kill someone? How much blood is in the human body? What is the average stomach capacity? And how long would it take for a vampire to drink enough blood to kill someone?

Here are a few facts about blood and stomach capacity:

For the information of the stomach you can check Google or hypertextbook.com – Stomach Volume.

So, it would appear that a vampire could indeed drink enough to kill a person. If you have 4 liters of blood and the vampire’s stomach can expand to 4 liters – you’re dead. Now if you have 4 liters of blood you only need to lose more than 40% percent of your blood before you die. Approximately 1.6 liters would be 40%. That is definitely within the realm of possibilities.

Vampire’s can definitely kill people. What we need to answer now is how long would it take a vampire to drain enough blood to kill someone? Basically they are using their fangs (or tongue-mouths if you watch Daughter of Darkness) which are probably comparable to the needles used in blood donation. Now according to the Red Cross website it takes about 10-12 minutes for them to take 1 pint of your blood. 1 pint = 0.473176 liters and it takes about 10 minutes to drain that much blood. To drain 1.6 liters, which is about 3.4 times greater than 1 pint, would take approximately 34 minutes. Vampires have two fangs so we could argue that they can drain blood twice as fast making the time about 17 minutes, hardly what you see in books and movies. Now the big assumption is that vampire fangs are like the needles used in blood donation. It is probable that they are smaller. I also didn’t take into account that vampires would be actively siphoning the blood, but I doubt that would make a dramatic difference, maybe shave a minute or two, but 17 minutes is a reasonable amount of time. Can you imagine a vampire movie where the vampire had to spend a quarter hour with each victim, and that’s just to put them in danger of dying. It would take about 42.5 minutes to drain 4 liters of blood. In a 2.5 hour movie a third of the movie would be the vampire exsanguinating one victim. I had to include exsanguination in here at least once in a vampire post.

In conclusion, vampires are quite capable of draining enough blood to kill a person. However, it is doubtful that they would be able to do it in a short amount of time. You should be able to save a vampire’s victim if you act fast enough. The vampire would be vulnerable while you figure out how to save the victim and then implement you rescue plans.

More Comic and Book Movies

We all have comic books and books that we want to see turned into movies. But it’s more than just that. We want to see the adapted faithfully. We have a vision in our heads of the perfect adaptation, of the perfect movie version. We don’t want to see some hack director or script writer or sometimes both hacking our dreams to pieces. That being said, I don’t want to dwell on the mistakes of the past. I want to look to the future. I want to talk about the books and comics that I want to see turned into movies.

Let’s see, where to start? I would like to see The Elfstones of Shannara turned into a movie. Why would I start with the Elfstones? Well, I think it is by far the best of the Shannara series. I don’t really know how to explain it, but of all the series I find it the most immersive and compelling. Maybe I like it the most because I read it first. I think that the story is deeper and the characters more fleshed out. I think that I also identify better with the protagonists than any of the other books. Wil Ohmsford is tasked by Allanon, the last Druid, to accompany and protect Amberle as she journeys to find the bloodfire. The demons that were once imprisoned by the elves are breaking free and the only way to stop them is to renew the magic that imprisons them. In the meantime, Allanon must stay behind and help the elves to defend themselves and the rest of the Four Lands against the demon hordes that have escaped their prison. Wil is a highly sympathetic character. I want him to succeed in his quest. I want Wil and Amberle to succeed against the impossible odds and save the humans, elves, dwarves, etc from the demons. Even the antagonists are well written. The Dagda Mor, leader of the demons, wants revenge for his millenia long imprisonment, so he sends the Changling and the Reaper to make sure that the elves fail. The Changling can become anything and the Reaper is an unstoppable hunter. These demons make you want to yell “run” at the characters whenever they pop up. They are implacable foes and you feel the menace in the prose.

In writing this article I came across plans by MTV to adapt this book to a TV series, which means that fewer detail need to be scrapped and the story can be grander in scope. However, I already have misgivings about the proposed series. First, this is going to be a series by MTV. What do they know about sci-fi/fantasy? Second, I can’t say that I have heard of any of the actors except for John Rhys-Davies, (he played Sallah from Indiana Jones and Gimli in Lord of the Rings). Third, there are two characters Catania and Bandon who are not in the books. There are plenty of characters that deserve to have screen time. How about Crispin, Captain of the Home Guard? Or Stee Jans, Commander of the Free Corps? Or the Witch Sisters, Morag and Mallenroh? There are so many colorful character, why introduce unnecessary and superfluous characters. If you really want these actors in the series then find a place for them without writing in roles that don’t need to be there.

On the comic book front, I would like to see Moon Knight on the big screen. They’re going to have to handle Moon Knight well. First, Moon Knight is a Batman type character and people constantly draw parallels between the two calling Moon Knight Marvel’s Batman. However, there are some differences between the two. Moon Knight was a mercenary who used the money he earned to finance his crime fighting. He is also called the Fist of Khonshu (the Egyptian god of the moon). As such he has superhuman powers that wax and wane with the waxing and waning of the moon. He also has multiple personalities. Batman creates a character and then goes undercover. Moon Knight goes undercover by allowing one of his personalities to surface and be dominant. When he is fighting crime he is Moon Knight, meaning Moon Knight takes over. One of his personalities is a little girl. I don’t know that helps him to fight crime, it’s just a tidbit.

Spider-man 2099 has some potential as a movie. In the year 2099, Miguel O’Hara works as a chemist for a rather evil corporation. He wants to leave the company, but the director forcibly addicts him to a drug called Rapture. In a bid to free himself from the company and the addiction he rewrites his DNA giving himself powers similar to the present day Spider-man. The present day Spider-man was, in fact, Miquel’s inspiration. He has the increased strength and agility of the original, but from there his powers diverge. Instead of being able to stick to surfaces, Spider-man 2099 has claws that he uses to climb. His web shooters are strictly organic. He has no spider sense, but his senses are enhanced to superhuman levels allowing him to fake it. This would be a darker and grittier Spider-man. The world is falling apart and the corporations are running things, even Spider-man has lethal weapons literally at his fingertips.

In the DC universe, The Doom Patrol could be interesting. The genius Niles Caulder literally creates the team. Not only does he gather the heroes, but he arranges for them to have the “accidents” that give them their powers. This dynamic could be very compelling. What will the heroes do when they find out that the man who gathered them to save the world did so by ruining their lives.

Back on the book front, Simon Green has several series that could make good movies. I haven’t read all of his work, but he combines fantasy with other genres and get some surprisingly good stories out of the results. His main genre seems to be fantasy which he then combines detective, police, and secret agent genres. If you like police novels then you might like Hawk and Fisher. Hawk and Fisher are captains in the Haven Guard. They investigate vampires, werewolves, rogue magicians, demons, etc. What makes this different than your run of the mill fantasy novels is that they are written as police or crime novels.

If you are interested in detective stories you might want to read his Nightside series. The Nightside is a city hidden in London where all the weird and bizarre creatures and people can live and work, and working might mean stealing souls or casting hexes or feeding off of others. John Taylor is a private investigator with a talent for finding things. He also might bring about the end of the world. So between dodging the occasional supernatural assassin, he works cases in the Nightside, cases involving dead gods, angels, demons, Merlin, King Arthur, parallel worlds, legends, myths, and more weirdness than you can shake a wand at.

On the other hand if you are a fan of James Bond and over-the-top spy action you might be interested in the Secret Histories. The Drood family has been protecting humanity from things that go bump in the night. They have been doing it for thousands of years and have been doing it well. Edwin Drood is one of their operatives. He uses his family legacy, mystical golden armor, to protect himself while he makes sure that demons, monsters, ghosts, vampires, nazis, and anything else that might threaten humanity stays away.

There you go, some more comics and books that could have some potential as movie fodder. I say could because we all know what Hollywood does when something shows potential. They strip it of everything original and noteworthy and replace it with mediocre and hackney. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment, send an email to thedistractedgamers@gmail.com, send a tweet to @DGPocast, or you can use the Speakpipe link on the site.

Terry Pratchett – the Creator of Discworld has Passed

Terry Pratchett died on March 12, 2015. I was saddened to hear of his passing. His writing has delighted and amused me for a number of years now. For those of you who are not aware of Terry Pratchett’s contributions to the world of literature, he wrote 70 books. That is an amazing achievement. However, he is probably best know for his Discworld series, of which he wrote 40 volumes. I have all of his Discworld novels except the latest, released last summer, but I will add it to my collection. Pratchett was a funny, brilliant author and I thoroughly enjoyed his work. I have even read some of his stories to my children, though I think that they are a bit young to understand all the jokes and humor in his novels.

The Discworld is an amazing place. It has dragons, wizards, barbarians, tourists, ambulatory luggage, witches, Death, the Auditors, an orangutan, and much, much more. That’s right I said tourist and Auditors. If you like serious fantasy then you may not want to check these out. However, if you enjoy Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you may have just found your new favorite series. First and foremost, the Discworld series is a fantasy series about swords and sorcery, damsels in distress and dragons, but then things take a turn for the funny. The main characters are a bizarre mix of the fantastic. In the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, we are introduced to Rincewind, Twoflower, and the Luggage. Rincewind is a failed wizard and a coward. Twoflower is the Disc’s first tourist. And the Luggage is homicidal and sadistic and will follow its owner anywhere. Together these three have to save the Disc from imminent destruction. Along the way they meet Cohen the Barbarian, the most famous adventuring barbarian ever to grace the Disc. Trouble is Cohen is over 80 years old and toothless. Don’t let that fool you, he is still probably the most dangerous man alive. You will also meet Carrot Ironfoundersson a dwarf that just happens to be 6’6″ tall, the librarian at Unseen University who happens to be an orangutan and quite happy in his current shape, Death – tall, bony, handy with a scythe, and TALKS IN CAPTIAL LETTERS, the Wee Free Men – think smurfs but fighting mad, obscene, and their swords glow blue in the presence of lawyers, I could keep going. There are 40 books in the series after all. You can find something that you want to read in the series.

My top 10 favorite Discworld novels are:

The Colour of Magic

Rincewind, a failed wizard and professional coward, must escort Twoflower, the Disc’s first tourist, as he wanders around Ankh-Morpork looking at things. In trying to keep the tourist out of trouble, he encounters dragons, demons, barbarians, thieves, assassins, and ends up falling off the Disc.

The Light Fantastic

The sequel to the Colour of Magic, Rincewind and Twoflower continue their travels encountering a gingerbread house, flying trilithons, the creator’s own grimoire, and the greatest hero on the Disc – Cohen the barbarian, now 80 years old and still in the business.

The Last Hero

Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde are angry with the gods for allowing them to get old, so they decided to ascend Cori Celesti, the Mountain of the Gods, to return fire to the gods – in the form of high-powered explosives. The City Watch, the wizards of Ankh-Morpork, and various civic leaders scramble to find out how they can stop them from ending the world.

Interesting Times

Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde decide to conquer the Agatean Empire, the population decided to rise up against an unpopular aristocracy, and Rincewind, accompanied by the Luggage, just tries to survive to return to Ankh-Morpork. Unfortunately for Rincewind, the gods have other ideas.

The Wee Free Men

Tiffany wants to become a witch like her grandmother. Unfortunately, the Queen of the Fairies kidnaps Tiffany’s little brother. Fortunately, Tiffany has the help of the Wee Free Men. There’s nothing they won’t fight, despite only being six inches tall. They are immensely proud of ability to drink, fight, and steal, often at the same time.

Reaper Man

Death gets fired. Suddenly finding himself out of a job, he applies to be a day laborer at a farm. Meanwhile, nothing is dying as there’s no one to escort the recently departed to their final reward. The wizards get involved when a new threat arises in the form of snow globes and a mall.

Guards! Guards!

Carrot Ironfoundersson, a 6’6″ dwarf, goes to the big city to join the watch. In the watch he finds Captain Vimes, a bitter alcoholic, Sergeant Colon, a professional sergeant, and Corporal Nobbs, the world’s pettiest criminal. Things start looking up for the watch until a dragon appears to terrorize city.

Men at Arms

Captain Sam Vimes of the City Watch is getting married. Carrot Ironfoundersson might be the long lost heir of the throne of Ankh-Morpork. The Watch gets some new recruits – a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf. Then someone starts killing heads of guilds and other civic leaders.

Where is My Cow?

Captain Sam Vimes of the City Watch reads a bedtime story to his son. The book is all about animals and the sounds they make, which confuses Sam. His son is a city boy and has never seen these animals, so he changes the story.

Jingo

War is brewing between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch and it turns out that someone is trying to expedite the situation. Sam Vimes, commander of the City Watch, is determined to investigate and make sure that it doesn’t happen. Carrot and the rest of the New Watch, complete with dwarves, trolls, and werewolf, are determined to follow him even if it means that they have to arrest armies to do so. Also featuring Nobby in drag.

RPGs

A couple of episodes ago we talked about RPGs. We have talked about pencil and paper RPGs a few times and Chance has become curious, asking for recommendations as to where he should start.

Getting into pencil and paper rpgs can be a bit daunting. There are so many to choose from and they all have different rule sets. Plus, the more popular rpgs periodically release new editions. So, should you start with the latest version or should you go back to an earlier edition?

I think that the first thing you should do is to think about what you like. Do you like dragons, swords, magic, and princesses? Or do you prefer the occult and Lovecraftian horror? Maybe you prefer giant robots, superheroes, or aliens. Basically, whatever it might be, there is probably an rpg that covers it. Mutants? Check. Space? Check. Post-apocalyptic wasteland? Check. Old west? Yes. Lord of the Rings, I hear Chance ask? Of course.

Once you have decided on the genre you want, I recommend looking for a d20 system. d20 systems are fairly straight forward and easy to learn. However, finding a d20 system that caters to your interest may not be possible. The Dragon Age rpg, (yes there is a pencil and paper version), isn’t a d20 system. At this point you either go forward or find a new genre. Just because some guy on the internet recommends a d20 system doesn’t mean you have to start with a d20 system. Odds are if you like the genre, you will like the system. And if you don’t like the game, you can always pick another. There are many different types of systems. You could opt for a percentage system like Warhammer. You roll 2d10 (or two ten-sided dice for the uninitiated) add or subtract a little, based on your character, and that determines the success of your actions. Deadlands Reloaded uses another scheme entirely where your statistics determine the number of sides on the dice you have to roll. You have a strong character you roll a d8 for strength checks, but his intelligence is low so you roll a d4 on tasks that require intelligence.

Let’s talk for a moment about character creation. In my opinion, character creation is one of the best parts of an rpg. Again each rpg is going to be a little different when it comes to character creation, but they’re going to share some commonalities. First, you are going to generate your character’s stats, things like strength, intelligence, etc. Then you will pick a race, if available, and a class, or your character’s job in the game. You then decide on your character’s abilities and buy his starting equipment. Want to be an elven warrior? Want to be an occult investigator? Or a superhero with power over fire? This is where you create your character. Some systems give you more or less control over this process. The Palladium system, Heroes Unlimited, uses die rolls to determine what kind of superhero your character will be. I once played a cyborg who believed that his powers wouldn’t work if he didn’t carry a piece of celery dipped in yogurt. He didn’t have to eat it, just carry it in his pocket. This was all decided on the role of the die. I have also played a half-elf fighter. I chose his race, class, and abilities myself. After that he became a reluctant hero of Pelor, the God of the Sun, but that was all roleplaying and the Game Master.

Warhammer has an interesting way of creating a character. Character creation is that same as many other systems until you get to the point where you decide on your character’s role in the game. Instead of having classes like fighter, sorcerer, or bard, you get to roll 2d10 to get a random occupation. Have you ever wanted to roleplay as a rat catcher? This game is for you. How about a bone picker or a charcoal-burner? Warhammer has you covered. Not all of the occupations in Warhammer are as ignominious, you could be a soldier, a shieldbreaker, or a mercenary. The beauty of the Warhammer system is that you aren’t limited to your starting occupation. As you play and gain experience you can progress to other, more prestigious occupations. Let’s say that you started out as a rat catcher. Once you have gained enough experience and met the prerequisites you can move into a new career. You keep all the skills and talents that you developed as a rat catcher and can acquire more from your new career. Your career options are always restricted by your current career. So you can’t, for instance move from rat catcher to noble or wizard. You don’t develop the prerequisite skills as a rat catcher for those occupations, but you might be able to make it into those occupations depending on whether you become a grave robber or a shieldbreaker after you gain enough experience as a rat catcher.

Now, should you start with the latest edition or should you select an older edition. I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it is easier to acquire the source books for the newer editions. Some of the books for the older editions have become collectors’ items and are priced accordingly. On the other hand, the older editions might have pre-made adventures that you can use to start your game. I recommend checking forums and the like online to see what fans of the rpg you want to try say about the various editions. Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts like versions 3 and 3.5. Version 4, while maintaining some of the core mechanics, introduced several new concepts that are popular in MMOs and video game rpgs, but add a layer of complexity to the game. While version 5 is a return to the simpler mechanics of 3 and 3.5. If you are joining a group that is already established, your decision will likely be made for you. These groups tend to have already decided on their preferred system and version.

Another thing you might want to consider is the number of pre-made adventures available for the system. If there aren’t very many, then you are going to have to come up with the adventures yourself. You can do searches online for adventures for the system that you want to play. The rpg community does have a few places online where they will post pre-made adventures.

Finally, you need to find others who want to play the same rpg. This is perhaps the most difficult part. There are many rpg groups that meet at comics and game shops. So, you may find a group to join there. Whatever you do, you want to find a group that is committed to playing. It is very frustrating to show up for a session and find that you are the only one there. I once played a Star Wars campaign where every week we had different players. The absent players were “back on the ship”.

Anyway, have fun and if you have questions, comments, or a favorite rpg, let me know.

A New Facebook App.

Jason just finished his facebook app. You can find it at http://apps.facebook.com/facesurvey/.

The survey that you find there will take about 15 minutes to complete and will provide you with an assessment of the security of your public facebook data. If you listen to the podcast you know he doesn’t like talking about himself too much, but he is trying to finish school and could really use the help.

If you have questions about the survey you can send an email to sigmish@yahoo.com.

Thanks for your help, you will hear from us again on Friday.