Mass Effect Cast Cosplay contest ends tomorrow! Win a Skype call with Kaiden Alenko or ME Funko Pop figures!

It is almost GO TIME for Mass Effect Cast Cosplay! What is MECC? A team of Mass Effect fans, lead by Karissa Barrows, managed to round up a few of the Mass Effect voice actors and models to cosplay their characters! This event will be showcased at Pax East 2014, and for the last six months, Karissa has been busting her butt to acquires funds to make this happen. We have been requesting donations to cover the cost of travel, hotel, and materials for cosplays for these lovely people so they can suit up and meet you all! We are also working with St Jude’s Children Hospital for this event as well! MEET THE ACTORS, SAVE THE CHILDREN! How you can help the initiative! 

Of course, we have been running some contests for fans, and two of them will end on 2/7/14 at 11:59PM Central Time.

For a minimum donation of $15, you can win some awesome Mass Effect Funko Pop figures (a $50 value!). Who wouldn’t want Commander Shepard guarding their bedroom or office? Image

For a $25 or more donation, you can win a chance to chat with Raphael Sbarge (voice of Kaidan Alenko and star of Once Upon a Time)! He has graciously offered his time to Skype with a lucky contest winner!

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So hop to it my lovelies!

“Understanding” A Dragon Age 2 fanfic written for my friend, Sunrise feat Fenris x FHawke

I debated whether or not to post fanfiction I’ve written up here, and I eventually landed on the “what the heck, why not?” decision. I wrote this for my friend “Sunrise” about two Christmases ago, and I realized I never posted it up anywhere. She requested a Dragon Age 2 fic with a Fenris x FHawke (Mage) pairing. This is what I came up with. 

Fenris made short work of the straw target in front of him. With one swing of his broadsword, the target was demolished and only splintered wood and debris lay at his feet. He had been practicing for the last three hours or so completely oblivious that night had set upon Kirkwall and the moon was his only source of light. He was quite grateful that he had the abandoned mansion all to himself. He could destroy everything in his path and not a soul would disturb him.

His brow furrowed slightly when he saw the blue lyrium markings on his arm glow brightly. His blood tingled and his heartbeat sped up. He didn’t understand what caused these outbursts, but they came and went so quickly that he chose to ignore them when they happened. Tonight however, the markings were particularly annoying. “Damn you, Danarius,” Fenris gritted through his teeth

Hightown had settled into its nightly routine, and Fenris felt like venturing out into the city. Thanks to Aveline, his presence wasn’t known, but he still needed to be discreet when he left the privacy of his temporary home. He easily stayed hidden in the shadows, avoiding guards and nosy merchants that were closing shop.

His eyes scanned over the horizon of Kirkwall and he let his mind slip into the very few memories he had of the city. It was at the alienage where he first met Hawke and her very odd followers. His blood boiled when he realized she was a mage, but even he could not deny that her heart was true and pure. He had to admit that she was one of the first mages he met that made him believe magic was not pure evil.

Another memory cut into his mind. They were all at the Hanged Man, and they were actually enjoying themselves. It was the first night where they were free to be themselves and not worry about blood mages or slave traders. It was the first time he had a conversation with Hawke that had nothing to do with his past.

The first thing he remembered was smelling the alcohol on her breath. He had never seen her so relaxed and … happy. “Has no one ever told you that your eyes are beautiful?” she asked, directly looking in his eyes. He welcomed her company and conversation, but she had never so physically close to him before now.

“It has never been brought up,” he admitted, slowly leaning back, trying to anticipate her intention

She lazily leaned on her right arm attempting to keep herself from falling from the table.  The music was light and cheerful, and Isabela was doing her best to rile up the others in dance and song. He and Hawke remained.  Movement from Hawke’s hands caught his attention and he stilled when her fingers wrapped around the metallic guards around his own. “Well they are, and you shouldn’t be so quick to hide them.”

Fenris decided that Hawke was a very puzzling woman, but all women were to him. It wasn’t until he met Hawke and Isabela that he believed his appearance held any value to a woman’s taste. He had been at the mercy of Hadriana and she was no woman; she was a monster. Hawke gently squeezed his hands and she smiled at him. Fenris never thought he would feel such affection from a mage, but he did and he could not say he did not like it. “I will do my best to hold my head high,” he said returning the smile, “at least around you.”

“I’d like that,” she responded.

The memory faded and Fenris continued on his walk. The air was crisp but not fresh. Kirkwall was corrupt no matter which part of the city one resided. A faint bark rooted him momentarily. It sounded like Hawke’s Mabari. Fenris didn’t care for the hound, but he was at least accustomed to the different sounds the hound made and what he heard caused alarm.

Discretion be damned, Fenris broke out into a sprint heading straight for the Hawke family estate. The closer he came to the main entrance of Hawke’s home, the more troubled he felt. The Mabari was now wailing. Fenris saw the large wooden door that served as the entrance to the estate was destroyed. He ran faster, relying on his ears to pick up any sign of Hawke and her Mabari.

The inside of the estate was a mess but he did not see any blood. His hurried steps lead him to the courtyard. No torches were lit, but he could easily see light and fire spells being cast and hurled into unknown trespassers. To his horror, he saw Hawke barely holding herself up. She was on the ground, using one arm to summon spells while the other clutched her abdomen. Three men descended upon her, but Fenris swore they would not touch her.

“Fenris!” he heard Hawke’s desperate cry. His heart sank when he heard how tired and weak she was. His only thought was for her safety. Hawke’s attackers didn’t even have a chance to see who it was that would end their lives. He took them down without mercy. Fenris could feel the heart of the third man give out in his grasp and seconds later the courtyard became calm once more.

That is until Hawke’s Mabari whined helplessly. Fenris found the Mabari lying next to Hawke. She was almost motionless save for the unstable rise and fall of her chest. He hurried to her side as panic seized his body. “Hawke…” he said in worry.

She was gasping for air trying to sit up. He wrapped his arms around her careful to avoid any contact with the wounds that covered her stomach. “I’ll take you to Anders,” he said, but she stopped him.  She clutched her stomach and he could see faint blue light illuminating under her palms. She was attempting to heal herself.

“Help me,” she pleaded in a heavy breath.

“I can’t,” he admitted in defeat. He was no mage and she knew that. He had nothing with him to help stop her bleeding.  All he could do was watch and that tore at his heart.

“Lend me your hand,” she gasped.  Her head was now resting against his chest and every shiver that shot through her body he could feel against his own. He complied without a second thought. Her slippery fingers, wet by her own blood, wrapped around his and he felt an odd sensation in the pit of his stomach.

It was very similar to the feeling he experienced when called upon the power of the lyrium in his veins.  It was powerful and it spread throughout his body evenly before focusing into one single point.  He felt that sensation leave his body, exiting through his hands. If he had not been present to witness the exchange of power, he would not have believed it. All the energy he had felt a moment ago had transferred to Hawke and her wounds were mending right before his eyes.

She let out a small cry of pain and he instinctively hugged her tighter wanting to ease whatever discomfort had plagued her. Her brow was covered in sweat and her eyes were shut tightly closed. He could only assume that it was a tiring ordeal trying to heal oneself, but when the host’s body was so heavily damaged to begin with, he wouldn’t be surprised if she passed out in his arms

Hawke let out one final gasp before the blue light vanished.  She relaxed in his arms and slumped against him completely.  “Are you all right, Hawke?” he asked when her breathing had become stable.

She swallowed hard and barely managed to answer him. “Yes… ambushed… never saw… thank you… here…”

He ran his fingers through her matted hair and gently cupped the side of her face. “No need to exert yourself. You’re safe now. And I’ll make sure you will be for the rest of the night.”

He carefully picked her up and carried her back into the estate. The Mabari followed close behind them, its tail wagging wildly left to right, obviously happy that his master was safe and alive.  When they reached Hawke’s room, Fenris gave a curt nod to the hound. “No one gets in, understood?”

Woof! Woof!

“Good boy,” Fenris said in approval. The Mabari sat right next to Hawke’s door at complete attention.

Fenris realized that Hawke had fallen asleep in his arms and he took the opportunity to observe her a bit more closely. He had said once before that she was a beautiful woman, but he had no idea when she had transformed from beautiful to goddess like. He gently set her down on her bed, but he stayed close to her. With minimal movement, he found a comfortable position sitting next to her.

Perhaps when he was able to let go of the fact that Hawke was a mage that was moment he could see her for the woman she was. He was guarded when they first met and even when she visited him weekly.  He half expected her to undergo some traumatic event and resort to blood magic like so many of her kind. But the life altering changes came and she stood strong. She lost her brother and sister though thanks to Anders, it was possible that Hawke would meet her brother again one day. Hawke’s mother was murdered by a blood mage no less, but Hawke remained true to herself.

He reached out again and stroked her hair, memorizing how the auburn strands rested against her cheek and shoulder. He contemplated the utter fear he felt when he saw her unmoving body on the ground. Where had that panic come from? What was it that terrified him?

He would miss her.

Simple as that. He had grown accustomed to her visits, her conversation, her companionship.  She was the only one of their group that seemed to truly care for his wellbeing. When he and Anders were at each other’s throats, she always took the side that was most logical and reasonable at the time. She didn’t see their arguments as mage versus slave. She saw them as friends fighting against one another. Maker, she didn’t even care that he was an elf. Hawke was the most unusual woman he had ever met. Maybe that’s how she stole his heart without him knowing.

Since he could remember, she was the only person alive that treated him as an equal. There were times when she regarded his life a higher priority than her own. Such a foolish notion, and he did not know how to react to that treatment.

‘You’re important to me, Fenris,’ she had explained with a sweet smile. He couldn’t respond to her, but he knew full well his heart fluttered when he heard those words. ‘I know you don’t have memories of your past, but perhaps you can learn to cherish the ones you have now?’

Leaning down, he kissed her forehead feeling unbelievably grateful that she was in his life. He would have to be careful with his newfound feelings, but for a moment he had managed to let go of his hatred for his former master. It was liberating. “Sleep well, Hawke,” he whispered in her ear.

He stood and quietly left her room. The Mabari hound’s ears perked up and he jumped up from the floor.  Fenris held a finger to his mouth and the Mabari quieted.  “I’m going to clean up the mess in the courtyard,” he told the Mabari. “I trust you have everything under control here?”

The Mabari gave him a meek arf!

“It’s up to us now to protect her, you know,” Fenris added. He smirked when the Mabari nudged his nose into Fenris’ palm. Had someone told him a year ago that he would have a full conversation with a Mabari hound, he would have called that person an idiot. Had someone told him that he would be falling in love with a mage, he may have killed that person outright. His life had taken such a wild turn and it was all because of one woman. He took one last look at Hawke’s sleeping form and decided, magic abilities be damned, she was worth leaving his past behind. Suddenly, the future didn’t seem so dark.

Heroes of Dragon Age mobile game receives 3/5 stars from me!

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I was so excited when Bioware/EA launched the Heroes of Dragon Age mobile app back in early December. That and another replay of Origins and DA2 would hold me over until Inquisition is released later this year.

What is the point of the game? You acquire various “heroes” and journey through the history of Thedas starting with the First Blight. There are ten maps to clear (that I have seen so far), and each map contains five areas that must be unlocked by destroying the enemies that stand in your way. The heroes that you control range from familiar faces like Morrigan, Sebastian, and Anders to Desire Demons, Revenants, and Abominations. Yes, you can have characters that are normally known as enemies and villains in your party.

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To start off, you are given four heroes and a large animal or magical creature as a fifth member. The picture above shows a typical PvP match. The blue bar on the top left displays the party’s overall level, the yellow meter (energy) divided into squares indicates how many times you may visit a map and battle , and the pink meter (stamina) shows how many times you may participate in PvP matches.

How do you acquire more heroes? After each quest battle, you win gold and experience in typical RPG fashion. Head on over to the store and you can purchase a hero pack. Each hero has a colored pedestal that indicates the rarity and quality of said hero. Here is a basic breakdown of those colors:

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Brown = Common Hero

Silver = Uncommon Hero

Gold = Rare Hero

Red = Epic Hero

Green = Legendary Hero

The common and uncommon heroes can be purchased with gold while all other heroes can be purchased with gems. There are two ways to gain gems. One, you can win them by clearing challenges and maps in the quest lines or you can (you guessed it!) buy them with real money. It is extremely difficult to get an epic of legendary hero if you are not willing to spend real money. I have been playing the game since it launched in December and I have yet to get a legendary hero. It is, however, possible to get a rare hero by purchasing the uncommon pack; the chances are just very slim.

The heroes have their own stats and unique abilities that come into play when you create your ultimate party, but there is a feature in this game that really surprised me.  The actual fighting is on autopilot. When you enter battle, you click and watch. You don’t control your party in any way. This feature really takes away the experience of the classic turned based battling system in an RPG and it sometimes makes me rage quit in PvP matches. I somehow lost to parties ten levels lower than me, and I have no idea how that was possible. The only option you are given during battle is to fast forward through the battle and pick up your rewards seconds later. A positive to note is that your party’s health is completely restored after each battle.

The only other downside I’ve experienced with this game is the unbalanced leveling system. It takes quite a long time to level up and once you believe you can progress in the game, the next challenge in your way knocks the ice cream cone out of your hand and leaves you crying in a corner. Not literally, but you feel that way. I just cleared map five, barely surviving the boss battle at level 30 and the first battle (the easiest on every map) on map 6 has level 50 enemies. Sad face.

I believe in the Oreo effect, so I will end this review on the positive note. You do get a camp! Here you can have your primary heroes “consume” ones that you will no longer use and in turn you gain more experience! There is also a combining feature as well in case you happen to have identical heroes. Again, this helps your hero gain more experience and become even more badass.

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Overall thoughts.

Visuals: LOVE THEM.

Characters available: LOVE THEM

Music: Loops a bit, so I use my own playlist. HUZZAH INON ZUR.

Gameplay: Good

UI: Nice. Easy to use.

Battling System: Bioware, you owe me an ice cream cone

Mass Effect Cast to cosplay their characters at PAX East 2014!!!

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We are in crunch mode, so here is the breakdown of where we stand for this amazing event. If you haven’t heard, we will be working with some of the cast from the Mass Effect games, and they will be cosplaying their characters for charity (St Judes)! The event will take place at Pax East 2014 on Saturday. As this is a charity event, all of the funding to get the actors/models to the event is based off of donations from our wonderful community. We have less than two months to raise 5 grand to cover the base costs (flights and lodging) for the actors plus materials needed to create the cosplays. We need your help and here is how you can assist! If you cannot donate, please spread the word. This is such a fantastic way for the actors to meet the fans, and there will be opportunities for photo ops and to purchase signed photos as well. ALL OF THE MONEY GENERATED WILL BE GIVEN TO ST JUDES. 

Rana and Mark (Samara and BroShep)

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We are doing this for so many reasons, but most of all, we love Mass Effect, we love the actors and models who have put so much time and effort into the games, and we want to help as many children as possible. 

If you have any questions, you can find us at:

masseffectcastcosplay@gmail.com

@SJBsMama (Lead Project Manager)

@MECastCosplay (Twitter Account)

Our Facebook page! 

 

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The Shadow & The Star by Laura Kinsale

The Shadow & The Star by Laura Kinsale

Huzzah for the audiobook! – http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Shadow-and-the-Star-Audiobook/B00GO9JAIE?source_code=soc_twi_nr&

In defense of her honor, innocent Leda Etoile has burned all her bridges and taken refuge in her tiny attic room in a shabby boarding house in London. But her last safe haven is invaded when she wakes to find a man hidden in the dark – a man with golden hair and the face of a fallen angel, who moves in the night like a shadow. Will he be her savior, or her ruin? Samuel Gerard draws her inexorably into the richest circles of aristocratic England. But even as Leda falls in love with a man she can never have, she must keep his secrets.

The incredibly successful pairing of Laura Kinsale and Nicholas Boulton has been honored once again, winning a THIRD Earphones Award from AudioFile Magazine, this time for The Shadow and the Star. Sweeping listeners from the jubilee parades of Park Lane to the flower-scented breezes of Hawaii, Boulton brings this beloved Kinsale classic to memorable life. – Audible.com

Now you may be wondering why a romance audiobook made it onto my blog. I was fortunate enough to assist Nicholas Boulton with the Japanese phrases in the audiobook. For those who are unfamiliar with his name, Nicholas Boulton also voiced Male Hawke in Bioware’s Dragon Age 2, Major Coats in Mass Effect 3, and you may even recognize those deep, rich tones in Assassin’s Creed 3. HOW COOL IS THAT? Very.

Laura Kinsale is a fantastic writer, and I encourage you all to read her books. She paints a great picture in your mind and not once are you taken out of the world she paints.

You can find both of these amazing people on Twitter as well!

@LauraKinsale
@EmCeeHammock