Meet Gwack Zextra

Our DM’s DM will be in town next week so he’s hosting a one-off game of Blades in the Dark for us. Today, I created my character for this new game.

BitD is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of daring scoundrels seeking their fortunes on the haunted streets of an industrial-fantasy city. There are heists, chases, occult mysteries, dangerous bargains, bloody skirmishes, and, above all, riches to be had — if you’re bold enough to seize them.

I am Gwack Zextra (our DM taught me a ridiculous naming formula and I made it ridiculouser. Gwack is a 38-year-old male Leech, which is basically a technician, tinkerer and saboteur adept at forging criminal tools- forgery kits, lock-picking equipment, bombs, etc. Oh, I can also distill drugs.

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I like to design my characters as much as I can to help me get into their heads and understand them. Hero Forge is great for quick character design. For Gwack, our new GM sent me a shadowy reference image of a vampiric man holding a skull and it felt a bit trite, especially in Victorian times. It didn’t feel right. My inspiration for Gwack Zextra was more of a “what if Boris Karloff was cast in Twilight” vibe.

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The training required to become a Leech is rare and strange – As a sickly orphan in the city of Akoros, Gwack had to be resourceful to survive. His quest for medicine led him to a curious medical “doctor” who cured the boy with elaborate machinery and foul-smelling tinctures. Once healed, Gwack stayed on as a sort of apprentice. He learned how to build weapons, torture devices, and explosives. In his spare time, he worked out in the streets to regain his physical strength, growing in strength and formidability.

Now that he’s a double threat with strength and strategy, he prefers to use his skills for mayhem and destruction. Though he can be known to heal a lucky companion from time to time, the side effects often create their own malady.

Have you played Blades in the Dark?

Why You Should Back The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls Multiplayer Card Game

Binding of Isaac four souls multiplayer card game logo

Have I ever mentioned I’m a fan of The Binding of Isaac video game series? I’ve put in over 2,000 hours across 4 different platforms and the replay value still keeps me coming back regularly. Edmund McMillen has been teasing a new game on twitter for some time now. On Wednesday, we finally got the big reveal in the form of a Kickstarter for a brand new, Binding of Isaac themed multiplayer card game!

By the time I got the press release in my inbox, the game was funded 3x over. It has far surpassed that now, which should tell you a lot about the enthusiasm surrounding this series. The community is busting through stretch goals at breakneck speed!


I backed the game immediately at the Trap Door level for the playmat and expansion cards. What makes this so exciting for me is the opportunity to share the quirky aspects of a game I love with my friends. When I have friends over or go to one of my Nintendo Meet-Ups, I can bring up to 4 people into the dark world of Isaac with characters, themes and items I adore.

I also love the duality of the gameplay. We’ll work together to bring down bosses and find loot, but I’ll have to make decisions whether to stick to my alliances or betray my friends (I’m a backstabbing queen. Trust me at your own risk).

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I’ve always loved the simple, grotesque aesthetic Isaac employs so I’m eager to explore the more than 300 cards representing items, characters, monster and loot. No video game is more creative with power ups (or downs!) than this one. Let’s see how these items are used in new ways! The tarot theme has also appealed to me and is inspiring me to create a game of my own (someday).

The resurrection of card and tabletop games over the last few years (as well as physical game copies and collectible bonus items) has caught me in its grip. Just like my newfound interest in DnD, I think there are a lot of reasons card/tabletop games are so popular.

Binding of Isaac Four Souls Multiplayer Card Game Layout

Protype of what the game layout will look like.

I co-manage a Nintendo Meet-Up group and we’re often frustrated with the lack of local multiplayer video games. Online play is fantastic, of course, but sometimes you want to play with people IN THE SAME ROOM. Also, screen fatigue is real.

Adding card games to the meet up- and reviving them in entertainment culture overall- creates a connection we’ve been missing in the digital age. Also I get to look at people in the face! Imagine that.

If you have a dark sense of humor, appreciate loose biblical and demonic lore, want to fuck over your friends or have ever been a goth/emo, you’ll probably enjoy this card game. Like the Binding of Isaac Tarot decks, this game is bound to sell out of McMillen’s online shop (if it even stocks there). You have until July 27th to back the game and effectively reserve your copy along with the rewards. Or you can always come over and challenge me, if you’re sure you want to die.

What video games would you want to see as card/tabletop games?

Alaria, Tiefling Rogue

Looking for new ways to reengage my imagination and creativity has attracted me to DnD. Being new to the game though, I’ve found it difficult to find players willing to take me into their groups. Until very recently when one of my friends decided to try his hand at being a DM. Last weekend, he and Glux game over for cookies and character building. Glux introduced Danaeryzard the Dragonborne who you can read about there.

Alaria Full equip

I created Alaria (pronounced like malaria without the M)

As a child growing up in the vast city of Eklatar, her tiefling parents were scarce, but doting. Her mother tended bar at a tavern frequented by wealthy travelers. Using her wit and charm, she made them feel at home on the road, while stealthily relieving them of any valuables they were unwise enough to keep at their hips to help pay back (and unintentionally enable) her husband’s gambling debts. Her father was a fletcher who crafted highly sought arrows. No arrow shot further nor more absolutely than his. His struggle with gambling kept the family from the life they worked hard enough to deserve and seeded deep paranoia in his mind. He passed his superstitions on to his daughter, who keeps one of his finest (and final) arrows in her quiver for perfect aim and direct guidance on her life journey.

At 9 years old, Alaria wanted to help her parents in a particular time of financial stress. She had been practicing her pick-pocketing skills by stealing corks and small coins from her mother’s tavern frock. However, one day, she fetched an ornate key from her mother’s pocket – two tones of gold, yellow and rose, twisted around the body gleaming like flames before meeting at the base in an explosion of pave rubies and diamonds. She was sure this would save her family from the streets! As soon as her parents kissed her goodbye for the day, she stole off to pawn the key. She never saw her parents again.

Alaria Hawk unhooded

You see, her parents were to deliver that key to the head of the Shadow Thieves – Birolesh – as a last resort payment. When they failed to deliver it that evening, Birolesh assassinated them both. Of course, Alaria doesn’t know any of this. So when a mysterious uncle appeared at her door with tragic news and an offer to take her into the Shadow Thieves, she agreed.

Under Uncle Biro’s mentorship, Alaria became a highly skilled thief. She’s proficient in the arts of manipulation, pick-pocketing, deception, and lock-picking. She knows every corner, shadow and sewer of Eklatar. Despite her horns and startlingly gold eyes, she’s a master of disguise But for all she has and all she knows, she will forever be indebted to Biro.

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Thieving business was good. Uncle Biro used his wealth to set up an underground training complex for an Assassin’s Guild so he could further develop his thieves and cultivate a profit-driving fear. As her first training mission, Alaria was to track and assassinate a dragonborn menace who had been setting forest fires just a day’s journey away. She’d never killed before, but hearing the reports, she justified this mission as a heroic deed to prevent a deadly threat from reaching her beloved city.

On the night before her planned departure, she overheard Biro assigning a job to a seasoned assassin: There exists an ancient key, crafted by a dragonborn demigod to lock the soul and fortune of Raethae. Legend tells of a two-toned gold key with a ruby hilt. Find it and bring it to me. Fail, and suffer the fate of the wretched tiefling stonescrubbers who lost it last.

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At that moment, Alaria understood three things:
1) She must leave that night and never return to Eklatar.
2) She had to somehow atone for the crimes she committed for him.
3) She would not be killing this dragonborn, or anyone, if she could help it.

Alaria formal

She left that night, anger so intense she had no plan other than to stick to the original idea: track the dragonborne. Her rage carried her pace and cut a daylong journey in half. By morning, she found her target napping in a forest clearing and talking in her sleep. Alaria silently perched herself on a branch above and listened. She learned of the traveler’s troubles and that she, too, was running from her own. Alaria empathized, and the emotional trauma of her childhood caught up with her in that tree. She let out pained gasp as it all came crashing down, startling the dragonborn awake and triggering an accidental torrent of flame.

Alaria leapt from the tree and rolled on the ground, turning just in time to see the blackened bark crumble to ashes. She drew her shortsword in defense.

“I’m not here to hurt you!” Alaria said. “Well, not anymore. It seems we’re both running from our own demons… I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Dany,” the dragonborne introduced herself. “I’m really sorry about the flames. It’s embarrassing, but I can’t quite control my magic and -”

“I know. I heard you talking in your sleep,” Alaria interrupted.

“Well it hardly seems fair that you allegedly know all you need to about me and I know nothing about this tiny tiefling standing with her sword drawn before me.”

“Sorry.” Alaria sheathed her blade. “Reflex, I guess.”

Dany laughed and nodded her reptilian head toward the tree. “Yes. I know the feeling. Looks like I managed to cook a couple birds from that tree. Why don’t we have some breakfast and you tell me why it is you’re here?”

“I am famished…”

Do you play DnD? Tell me about your character.