material components

Roleplaying A God...

MEETING A GOD

When player characters meet a deity, they’re meeting a being with senses that extend for miles. 

A deity merely has to think of or desire something to have it. 

Its awareness of its portfolio covers vast areas, and its control of the building blocks of matter, energy, and life makes it the master of most situations, particularly on the Material Plane. 

The awesome presence of a deity cows most mortals, and may drive them from the deity in fear. 

Gods seek out mortals who do great deeds that favor the gods, as well as those who threaten their power, primacy, or existence. 

Even when a god graces a mortal or a group of mortals with its physical presence, that god’s attention is effortlessly in several places at once. 

Mortals who reach the home of a deity irritate that power with their interruption. 

They can expect a much cooler (or hotter, depending on the deity and the plane) reception. 

As the Dungeon Master, you manipulate the experience of meeting a god to suit your campaign. 

You can frighten the player characters or welcome them, depending on how you want the characters to feel about their deities, and how much you want the characters to interact with them. 

Depending on what kind of pantheon you have, you may be able to draw inspiration from elsewhere.

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10

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Bard College: College of the Macabre

as a celebration of 600+ followers and also for fun, i’ve been working on homebrew necromancy-based subclasses for as many of the magic-using classes as possible. i’m so in love with bards that i happened to finish this one first :) i hope you guys like this quick homebrew of mine, and let me know if i should edit some things! i’m not perfect, and concrit is always welcome. let me know which class i should homebrew for next!

special thanks to @probablybardrpgideas​ and @probablyeyerpgideas​ for helping me iron out some of the details on this. this college was based on the artistic genre of the danse macabre; read more about it here


The College of the Macabre calls to those bards who wish for their song to reach past death and revel at the grey areas of mortality. Some say that the first bard of this college was taught by Vecna himself, when the lich rose to godhood and began whispering to his followers. In recent years, some bards of this college have striven to erase what they consider as their shameful history, seeking to show that their arts aren’t as dark as their origins claim. Despite their efforts, the bards of this college are seen with some level of terrified respect and fear. Though the more heroic bards have been able to fight back against some prejudice, using their magic to force beasts as large as dragons into an exhausting, never-ending dance, more villainous bards have used their skills to attempt to raise vast armies of undead, setting them upon villages and claiming more lives in the name of their one-eyed deity.

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100 Magic Items for 5e Pt.3

 Other Entries

Items 1 - 5

Items 6 - 10

Items 16 - 20

Items 21 - 25

Items 26 - 30

Items 31 - 35

Items 36 - 40

Items 41 - 45

Items 46 - 50

11.      Crystal Ball of Divination

Wondrous Item, Uncommon

A ball made of flawless crystal that glows slightly, it is imbued with the ability to cast the following spells with no material components. The ball has 7 charges and after use of its charges it becomes a mundane crystal ball with no magical properties (Although it can be used as a focus)

·         Expend 1 Charge to cast the Detect Magic spell

·         Expend 2 charge to cast the Identify spell

·         Expend 2 charges to cast the Locate Object spell

·         Expend 3 charges to cast the Clairvoyance spell

12.      Radiance

Weapon (Bow), Rare, Attunement

A bow crafted from wood that shimmers yellow. Its handles are plated in gold. Each attack done with this bow deal an additional 1d4 radiant damage. Additionally by speaking Radiance’s command word, the player can cast the “light” cantrip focused on the bow.

Attunement: Over a short rest, the bow calls its owner to it and upon touch teaches it a secret hymn that attunes the player to Radiance. Learning the command word.

13.      Dagger of Interdimensional Metal

Weapon (Dagger), Very Rare

A dagger made of a compound of metals from across dimensions, resulting in the dagger to not just exist in one plane – but all at once. Any attack from this dagger penetrates and slices as if no material object is in the way of it, while still causing physical damage to the objects it passes through dealing 1d4 force damage. On attack rolls this dagger automatically hits on all rolls between 2 and 19. On a 20 the attack is a critical hit as usual. A 1 is still considered a critical fail and the attack will be a miss (Or other result depending on the DM)

14.  Gearwork Crossbow

Weapon (Crossbow), Very Rare, Non-Magical

This crossbow is equipped with the latest in Gnome engineering, including a fitted looking glass to target your enemies and a series of levers and pulleys to help load and reload, though the working of which are a maze of steel and string. This weapon scores a critical hit on a 19 or a 20. Additionally, when a ranged attack with this crossbow misses, the player can still roll damage die – dealing damage equal to half of the number rolled with no modifier.

When this crossbow must be loaded roll a d6, on a 6 the player can ignore the loading property for this turn. On a success the player can make a DC16 perception to check to see if they better understand the working of how to load the crossbow, on a pass the next time a d6 roll is made to load the crossbow – the loading property is ignored by a 5 or a 6. This effect can continue until the player has achieved a complete mastery of the workings of this crossbow, and can always ignore the loading property.

15.  Chain of Savage Impact

Armour (Shield), Very Rare

A coil of magical steel links about 5 feet in length – that looks like a mundane chain to the non-trained eye. This chain can only be worn effectively by a player with proficiency in shields. When wrapped around the wearers off-hand It acts a shield granting them +1 AC. Additionally, the wearer can take a bonus action to attack with their chain wrapped fist. Dealing 1d6+Str bludgeoning damage. On a critical hit – this damage is increased to 4 times the amount of dice, instead of 2 times. (4d6+Str)

So I was just talking about the differences between how ninjas are portrayed in Japanese folklore versus how they’re portrayed in popular culture, and one of the topics that came up was so-called “ninja magic”.

Basically, while popular culture depicts ninjas performing supernatural feats of stealth and swordsmanship, the folkloric version is rather different. Ninjas in folklore are reputed to be able to evoke magical effects from specially prepared potions and powders through the use of complicated hand-signs and invocations. The effects of these formulas can range from controlling fire, to turning invisible, to paralysing enemies at a distance, and even stranger feats.

Then it hit me: ninjas go unarmoured, wield staves and daggers, and cast formulaic spells that must be prepared in advance and have verbal, somatic and material components. This leads to one of two possible conclusions:

1. Ninjas are D&D wizards; or

2. D&D wizards are ninjas.

Industrial Might and Magic

A while back I listened to my favorite podcast System Mastery talk about Xcrawl and there was one bit about the setting that interested me but by the sounds of it wasn’t really addressed in depth in the setting: copyrighted spells.

The idea was that some wizard had figure out that they could effectively put a copyright on their spell by making the material component a $50 bill that would be teleported into their personal vault. The wizard thus became obscenely rich because of the usefulness of said spell.

But that made me think: what other stuff can you get in a setting where spells are subject to copyright?

Cheap bootleg spells! They are much more affordable but they don’t quite work as well as the genuine article.

Generic brand spells! Once a spell’s patent has expired everyone can make a variation of that spell! Your wizard emporium might be full of different variants of Mel’s Acid Arrow.

Groups of fucking nerd Wizards developing creative commons spells and getting into huge wizard nerd fights over which version of a spell is the best one!

As I was discussing this with my friends we got lots of really great ideas which I will be posting under the name and tag “Industrial Might and Magic.”

(N.S.F.W.) Not Safe For Wizards...

To celebrate reaching 3,000 Followers on Our Blog.

We decided to do Creativerogues… After Dark…

If you get what we’re saying…

(Just Read The Title… You get what we’re saying…)

So, we present to you, the waiting members of the Internet…

SEXY SPELLS!

Of course I expect these spells to be used as frequently as possible by all Bards of the Lands…

But before you click that “Keep Reading” too quickly…

A Quick Warning…

WARNING!

This is for the More Mature Readers Only.

This humorous little Post has Content of a Sexual Nature and if you are easily offended by such Material, We recommend that you walk away (or scroll away) now and go read something else.

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STFU Powder

Intent: To bind tongues, silence gossip, and get loud-mouthed jerks to SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Ingredients:

  • Slippery Elm
  • Deerstongue
  • Nettle
  • Sassafras
  • Bloodroot

Materials:

  • Mortar & Pestle (or spice grinder)
  • Funnel
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Collection Dish
  • Container

Grind each ingredient separately for several minutes to produce fine powder. Sieve the material through the mesh strainer into the collection dish; this removes the larger ungrindable pieces and gives you cleaner powdered herb. (Pro-Tip: Putting a funnel under the strainer helps reduce lost material.)

Combine the component powders in the collection dish, mix well, and bottle immediately.

Sprinkle where you know the target will be, particularly in meeting places where you know the target will be tempted to ramble on. Add to any spellwork with similar intent.

Variant Draconic Bloodline: Trueblood

Some dragonborn sorcerers can trace their lineage back to an ancient dragon of legend. These sorcerers possess features that differ from those in the fifth edition Player’s Handbook. The Dungeon Master may permit the following variants for your dragonborn character, although Breathe Magic, Draw Breath, and Kiss of the Dragon are mutually exclusive.

Restriction: Dragonborn Only. Only Draconic Bloodline sorcerers with the same dragon type for both the Draconic Ancestry trait and Dragon Ancestor feature can choose this variant.
Extra Language. At 1st level, you can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice. Typically, the language is spoken by your dragon ancestor’s minions, a mortal humanoid they befriended, or an age-old adversary.
Breathe Magic. At 6th level, when you cast a spell that deals damage of the type associated with your draconic ancestry, you can spend 1 sorcery point and use of your breath weapon to cast it without any somatic or material components that lack a cost and aren’t consumed by a spell.
Draw Breath. At 6th level, when you cast a spell that deals damage of the type associated with your draconic ancestry, you can spend 1 sorcery point to regain use of your breath weapon.
Kiss of the Dragon. At 6th level, when you use your breath weapon, you can spend 1 sorcery point and choose a creature in its area of exhalation. The chosen creature takes no damage from the exhalation and has resistance to its damage type for 1 hour.

Incantations: Powerful Magic, At A Cost...

Incantations are like spells, but they can be cast by characters who are not spellcasters.

This variant enables characters who know the correct ritual gestures and phrases for an incantation to achieve powerful magic effects.

Incantations don’t use spell slots, you don’t have to prepare them ahead of time, and you can use an incantation an unlimited number of times per day.

Incantations have drawbacks: They’re time-consuming to cast, and success isn’t assured.

They are often expensive, and some require additional participants to complete the ritual.

Some incantations work only under certain specifi c conditions, such as during a full moon.

Most important among the drawbacks, an incantation rarely fades away quietly if the caster fails to perform the ritual correctly.

Instead it reverses itself on the caster, explodes with a cascade of magical energy, or weakens the barrier between worlds, enabling hostile outsiders to emerge onto the Material Plane.

This variant gives a measure of magical power to non-spellcasters, but the incantations themselves are usually too specific in effect to increase a character’s power in the general sense.

Because many incantations require academic skills such as Knowledge, the characters best equipped to cast them are often spellcasters anyway.

Incantations provide a useful way to introduce powerful magical effects in a lower-level game under controlled conditions.

PCs will still use spells rather than expensive, risky incantations whenever they can.

Incantations are also more specific than spells, so the DM can introduce them into the game without worrying that they’ll spread beyond the immediate situation.

If you want characters in your low-level game to take a brief sojourn to Ysgard, you can introduce the incantation Hrothgar’s journey.

Because it requires the construction of a thatched hut in the middle of a forest and works only during the winter solstice, you don’t have to worry about the characters exploring the Outer Planes whenever they get the urge.

If you gave low-level PCs easy access to the plane shift spell, on the other hand, they could wander the planes until they ran afoul of the first outsider more powerful than they are (which is almost any outsider).

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TV Asahi updated their site with episode 1, as they do whenever any new episode brings new content. Oddly though, they have only posted RabbitTank Form and its relevant Fullbottles, and haven’t posted anything about the Smash yet. It will probably be properly up to date by episode 2. 

I was curious what they had to say about the Fullbottle functionality, and it turns out to be neat stuff! I’d recommend giving it a look, but take it all with a grain of salt - TV Asahi’s tech specs have as much relevance to the show as your personal headcanon. They are just flavor text for people who like that sorta thing. 

With that in mind, Fullbottle details: 

  • 01. Shielding Cap: Fullbottle cap. It is a protective cover to prevent ingredient spillage. When using a Fullbottle for transformation or other means, it is necessary to turn the cap so that the label comes to the front. 
  • 02. Material Absorber: Component for absorbing into a Fullbottle. It can extract components from Smash and return them to their human form. Also, when Kamen Rider Build releases his transformation, it has the role of disassembling and recovering his equipment. 
  • 03. Transgel Solid: The substance inside of the Fullbottle. Shaking the Fullbottle gives the contents stimulus and allows it to grow, exerting its special properties. It serves as the material of the suit and armor of Kamen Rider Build. When transforming, it is necessary to shake the Fullbottle well and load it into the Build Driver in its active state. 
  • 04. Clear Mold Bottle: Clear exterior parts made to protect the Fullbottle. It is made of a lightweight and durable material, with a shape that depicts the abilities hidden within.
PSG Roundtable #8: Altars & Shrines for Non-theistic Purposes

Want to make an altar or shrine to a principle, concept, or impersonal subject that isn’t a ‘conventional’ deity, complete with names and symbols and pre-defined rituals?

First, you need to know what its purpose is.  There’s no clear delineation and they often get combined in contemporary practice, but generally speaking, a shrine is a space for devotional offerings, meditation, and/or self-reflection whereas an altar tends to be more of a practical workspace.  Both shrines and altars act as a space in which you interact with the immaterial in some way.  They’re liminal.

Please note that everything I say here is opinion, and I invite you to accept or reject what you will according to your own beliefs, needs, and desires.  I’ll be using my devotion to Death as an example, but you should be able to extrapolate for the universe, moon, sun, nature, etc.  I’m going to stick to the word “altar” for simplicity’s sake.

  • What is your altar dedicated to?

Be as specific as possible.  This helps you know exactly what you’re wanting to deal with.

Ex: Death.  What part of death?  The whole cycle of life-death-rebirth?  Death as the ultimate symbol of transformation and impermanence?  For me, death is the greatest power, and I have an obsession with the concept of entropy.  (Asimov’s “The Last Question” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God” are two of my favorite short stories.)  It is the concept by which we define our very nature and how we understand our existence, the source of our greatest fears and anxieties as a mortal species, and the one truly unifying experience for all humans.  And a lot more besides, but I could go on all day about death so I’ll stop here.

  • How do you want to engage with this concept/abstract?

Some common ideas:

  1. Reflection, meditation
  2. Devotionals, worship
  3. Spellcrafting and magic

How do you normally do your meditation or magic?  How can the materials, timing, and other components be adapted?

  • What associations and visuals do you have for this concept?

Consider all the senses: scents, tastes, textures, fabrics, sounds, colors, stones, herbs, numbers, symbols, words and phrases, music notes and songs, emotions, aspects of nature, etc.  Make lists.  Hell, make aesthetic posts.  These will help you choose what kinds of objects, tools, and materials to put on your altar to best facilitate the kind of meaningful experience you’re looking for. 

(Make sure you’re not appropriating anything from a closed or initiatory tradition.  There are usually about a hundred thousand alternatives for everything, so don’t go taking sacred things out of their proper context and using them in ways they weren’t intended to be used.)

Ex: my personal associations for death include black, white, and silver; camphor, menthol, the smell of wet dirt; quiet chill, both damp and dry; grief, dissociation, sarcasm and morbid humor, relief, freedom, truth, rebellion, empowerment, justice, existentialism; the numbers two, three, and seven; obsidian, jet; Southern Gothic folk rock (Jen Titus’ cover of the American folk classic “O Death,” anyone?); black mirrors, slim dark-handled knives, scalpels; images of space; “evanescent” (the SAT word, not the band), “fate,” “tradition,” “stories,” “power”; bleached bones, blood both old and fresh, winter, corvids, silhouettes of bare trees, white bedsheets, gauzy curtains, empty hospital beds, abandoned houses, sexuality, dried flowers, candles burning either singly or in the hundreds.  See, as silly as aesthetic posts can be, they really can be useful.

Now look at your own lists and see what underlying trends and themes there are.  For me, I see impermanence and unadorned realism.  (I left out the more graphic and triggering associations I have with death because I don’t want to distract from the purpose of this post.)  Someone making a list for the sun, on the other hand, may find ‘strength’ or ‘optimism’ is a common theme in their associations.  I find that understanding the themes in your associations helps you understand your own relationship with the concept itself and why you might feel drawn to it so strongly.  It may also help you choose in which direction you want to take your engagement with it.

  • Setting up the altar.

Do what you would do for a conventional altar: cleanse the space (or container, if you’re making your altar in a box, cupboard, drawer, or something similar) and everything you’ll be using on it.  If you don’t have a tradition that comes with a prescription for setting up an altar, you can look up how to cleanse and consecrate altar items in any number of ways and choose the method that’s most appropriate for you.  I do recommend using methods that reflect back to your concept.  For example, salt, as an agent for drying, preserving, and purifying, would be appropriate for death, as would frankincense, which in a multitude of cultures is a required component of funerals.  For something dedicated to the universe as a whole, I would probably incorporate sound into the cleansing, as sound is a wavelength and much of what we know about our universe (sound waves, radiation waves, gravitational fields, matter itself, etc) is based on those principles.

Ex: My altar is dedicated to death in the impersonal, entropic sense.  This means that anything personal goes to a different space set aside for my beloved dead and ancestors; this altar is for the vast, inhuman concept of “the end” that can be so oppressively terrifying or incredibly freeing.  The setup is based on a visual that came during a meditation: the altar cloth is black with a ring of alternating smooth and rough obsidian stones (which betrays my bias as an Irish polytheist) around a circular mirror in the center.  A small sphere of obsidian sits in the center of the mirror.  A black pillar candle stands tall behind it all.  The setup is designed to facilitate my journeyings by creating a symbolically liminal space represented by the ring, made of stones that naturally draw in power rather than reflect it.  The drawing in reflects my journeying technique as well as how I connect with the greater, impersonal energy of death and darkness and all those cheerful things, especially when I hold the obsidian sphere, so it works for me.  If I were doing ancestor or spiritwork I would probably use more white, which recalls a different aspect of “death” than black does to me.

The “nature worship” tag has additional commentary on non-theistic practices.

- mountain hound  

So, Hound covered more of the altar stuff. I’ll add my thoughts on shrines. for ease of reading, I’ll mimic the format starting with

  • What is your Shrine dedicated to?

I find a shrine is much more free form than an altar due to its fundamentally different nature. Whereas an altar is used for practice in spellcraft or meditation a shrine, in my opinion, is about devotion connection in a way that is different than an altar is used for. As such, while I see altars as something that needs to be more specific (as Hound mentioned above), I find shrines do not need to be so specific. For example, my shrine is to Nature, in all its forms. I do not emphasize more the harsh wilds or the tame fields but all its forms under the complete object. If you wish to emphasize one or the other, you can, I just do not find it as necessary to do as with an altar. 

My reasoning for such is (and feel free to disagree) an altar is used more in a practical sense for spellcraft and meditation and other uses that are generally to garner a result. As such being as specific as possible is advantageous as it leaves less room for error.  A shrine, however, is used for more abstract things such as offerings, self-reflection, etc. which are generally things that are not (though can be) used to garner some sort of result. For example, I will leave offerings at my shrine more as an act of devotion with no end goal as opposed to an offering I may give a spirit when requesting its services (which is a good example of an offering to garner some sort of result).

The rest of the points are very eloquently put and can be easily applied to both altars and shrines; the primary difference is the function of active vs passive respectively and how narrow and broad the scope respectively.

Sparrow

The PSG Roundtable Index
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Sick of hearing people say magic is fake. Fuck that. I cast fireballs all the time and the only material component I need is gasoline. How’s that for your ‘fake magic’

Ye Magick Shoppe for 5E

By Dracomortua:

Your players’ ship arrives at the docks at last. They go up to the first stevedore or whombler they see and say: ‘Excuse me there, hard working fellow - but where is the local magic shop?’:

Suddenly this all takes a sharp turn and the DM goes 'Out Of Character’: “What? Magic shop?” You kindly explain that there isn’t such a thing. Says so right there in the DMG, see? It is impossible for one to exist in a 5e D&D world. Period.

Your sassy players do not give up. Someone points out such shops exist here in reality on Earth, despite having no provable magic. There are even different kinds (lots sell incense and religious stuff, some selling bits o’ stone, people may want to stare at your crystal balls and it just goes wild from there). They point out a variant human’s feat can give any commoner a bunch of cantrips and one first level spell. So why doesn’t anyone own anything enchanted?

This guide gives you RaW self-defense. You can have as many magic shops as you like without breaking any rules. The trick is to put items in them that are interesting, fun and even useful despite the fact that almost nothing is an uncommon or rare magic item.

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Brain in a Jar

Brain in a Jar

Tiny undead, neutral evil

———————————————————-

Hit Points 16 (5d4)

Armor Class 11

Speed 0 ft., fly 30 ft.

———————————————————-

STR 1   (-5)      INT 20 (+5)                              

DEX 12 (+1)     WIS 18 (+4)

CON 10 (+0)    CHR 16 (+3)

———————————————————-

Saving Throws Intelligence +7, Wisdom +6

Skills Deception +5, Persuasion +5, Perception+6,

Damage Immunities poison

Damage Resistances psychic

Condition Immunities Charmed, Poisoned, Paralyzed, Prone, Exhaustion

Senses blindsense 30 ft., passive Perception 16

Languages understands Common, telepathy 60 ft.

Challenge Rating 2 (450 XP)

———————————————————-

Brain Dead. While not moving, the brain is indistinguishable from a normal brain.

Psionics. The brain can cast the following spells at will without requiring material components. Intelligence is its spellcasting ability modifier (+7, DC 15).

3/day (each) suggestion, telekinesis, dominate person

———————————————————-

Multiattack. The brain makes two attacks with its mind thrust.

Mind Thrust. Psionic attack, +7 to hit against the targets Intelligence score, range 30 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8+5) psychic damage.

Well, that was unexpected.

I know we’ve all had over a year to get used to this kid’s take on the character, and two to wrap our heads around the concept of Homecoming in the first place, but it really is worth reflecting again for a moment on how this movie is impossible. This movie can not be. Spider-Man’s over there, and the X-Men are over there, and the Avengers are over here, and we all knew from day one of Feige & companies’ grand experiment that never the twain would meet. Hell, it wasn’t even just box office failure or negotiations that led to this, but the franchises’ sheer freak incidental connection to The Interview via Sony and therefore the North Korean hack a few years back, with the humiliating scope of how little Sony knew what they were doing with Spidey spilling out into the public eye and forcing them into a corner where they had to take the only realistic way out that everyone was also now yelling at them to do.

But, well, it happened, and in getting the biggest character they could under their umbrella, Marvel Studios had to take on what must have been an almost unthinkable degree of pressure with this flick. Because with this, they had to:

1. Do a movie with an exponentially more popular character than they’d ever handled before.

2. Do the sixth movie in this characters’ series and make it distinct, without moving him into wildly new narrative territory because they want to bank on the preexisting affection for him.

3. Handle this characters’ second reboot in a decade, when the last one was already getting reboot fatigue complaints.

4. Establish this character not just as a successful new franchise like Doctor Strange or Ant-Man, but as the guy who they’ve all but publicly announced they’ll be positioning as the central figure of their $11 billion and counting cinematic universe once Evans and Downey leave.

5. Do all this knowing that if they fuck it up out of the gate they might not necessarily have a second chance to get it right, Sony might just take their ball and go home.

So…it’s fair that I wasn’t expecting too much here, right? Not that I thought it would be bad by any means, but the trailers weren’t exactly blowing me away, they weren’t going to address Uncle Ben which meant the arguable biggest underlying idea of Spider-Man - his overwhelming guilt - wasn’t going to be in here, they were shortchanged a lot of Spider-Man’s biggest stories between wanting to avoid the previous ones and Sony wanting to play hardball with the villains (whether in the hopes of prodding Marvel to fork over a billion or two to buy Spider-Man back outright, or because they’re genuinely dumb enough to think that after all this they can really make a successful solo Venom/Kraven/Mysterio/Black Cat/Silver Sable movie series), and it had an untested director and like six writers. By all indications, this was going to be a very conservative, standard-issue, focus-tested-to-hell-and-back MCU flick where they’d play it fairly safe while integrating him into the larger universe and giving Tom Holland a chance to charm audiences into accepting him, and hopefully all involved would try something a little ballsier for the sequel. No crime, understandable given the circumstances, but they’d have a lot of work to do later on.

This is the first great Spider-Man movie.

Some obvious caveats there: yes, the first two Raimi films are great superhero movies, but as far as I’m concerned that the dude in there is named Peter Parker and wears Spider-Man’s costume is a complete coincidence. They’re the endpoint of a very particular, masochistic strain of thought on the character as defined by pain and isolation - rather than being a dumb teen who thinks the world is constantly shitting on him, because he’s a dumb teen and of course he thinks that - losing in the process most of his charm and energy in favor of framing him as sainted, suffering martyr to New York’s sins. The Amazing movies on the other hand had a basically perfect Spidey in Andrew Garfield, the embodiment of the frustrated, funny, cocky, eventually decent Parker of the original Lee/Ditko years, but he and Emma Watson’s great Gwen Stacy were embedded in some overall crappy movies, which had the unfortunate side-effect of rendering that interpretation of the character radioactive for the time being.

This, on the other hand?

Not to too dramatically oversell what happened here - this isn’t an all-timer hall of fame entry to stand alongside your Dark Knights or Logans. They didn’t take any bold, outlandish risks with it either; this isn’t any more of a deviation from the tonal norm for these movies than, say, Winter Soldier. It’s got flaws to be sure: a couple characters don’t get the time and development they probably deserve (especially Zendaya’s Michelle, who it feels like the writers wanted to invest with a little more of a sense of character development by the end than she’d been given), the plot definitely isn’t as tight as it could be, and the music’s nowhere near as good as the trailers and early parts of the movie would have you think. But it’s a damn fun and funny movie with a lot of heart and palpable stakes, anchored by a take on its hero that, rather than going for a more generic “goofy savior” cartoon-style version I was expecting, ends up pretty heavily and thankfully indebted to Brian Bendis’ original run on Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s a Spider-Man who really does always want to do the right thing and doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but at the same time he’s shortsighted as hell and driven by a boundless need to prove himself for the sake of both spite and a hope of acceptance, mixed with low-grade resentment of his circumstances that gives him just enough of an edge to feel like an actual teenager. Left without the option of talking about his sense of responsibility in terms of guilt, the filmmakers wisely chose to instead blur the line between where his sense of heroism ends and his self-interest begins and ask how far he’s really willing to go in favor of the former, and what kind of strength there actually is in him when it truly comes down to it after a whole movie’s worth of him essentially treating superheroism as an after-school gig.

Speaking of him as a teenager, boy all the high school stuff was great in this one. Maguire and Garfield both paid lip-service to that material as a necessary component of his youth, but speaking as someone only a few years out of those days, this absolutely felt authentic. The crappy announcements, the deliberately weird kids who clearly think they’re better than everyone else, the assholes, no one really knowing yet how to keep themselves in check emotionally, the low stakes that are still at that point the most important thing in your world - even the physical classrooms felt real (I got some serious nostalgia seeing those stacked chairs in the visibly repurposed music room, or the gigantic hall pass). It’s as petty and small-scale as Peter’s time as Spider-Man largely is, and therefore can integrate into the plot as an important part of what’s going on far more easily than ever before, even aside from being the source of a ton of excellent bit players like the teacher in charge of the debate team. The larger characters by and large do just fine too; Tomei’s warm and funny as May, Harrier does a solid job as Liz Allen (especially considering that while she’s the love interest and ends up pretty important plot-wise, they never cheap out try and position her as some true love figure when she and Peter barely know each other), Batalon is fun as hell as Not Technically Ganke, Zendaya steals her scenes even if I get the impression there might have been some meatier work left on the cutting-room floor, Downey is Downey, Favreau as Happy Hogan does a great job essentially taking Jolly Jonah Jameson’s place as the dickish, unreasonable authority figure in Peter’s life, and Keaton is scary as hell with just enough screwed-over “how dare you take what I’ve earned” resentment in the vein of many of USM’s better villains to make him feel like a real guy. And you saw Civil War, you already know Holland’s basically perfect.

There’s a dozen other bits I’d love to go into - like how much mileage they pull out of him not operating in Manhattan proper, or how well the seemingly out-of-place tech actually ends up working, or any number of great moments - but I’d prefer to keep this largely spoiler-free. Suffice it to say that the trailers, which already indicated a pretty decent time at the theater, were misleading: as much as they showed they really did leave a lot of the best out, and what they kept generally works far better in context. To be sure there’s room for improvement in the next one, but this was a far better reintroduction and recontextualization of the character than anyone had any right to expect, and it absolutely does the heavy legwork of setting him up as an engaging figure for the MCU to believably end up pivoting around in years and movies to come. Upper-tier Marvel to be sure; somehow they did the impossible and managed to actually earn a title that brazenly cheeky as hell. Sony, for once you made the right call with Spider-Man.

Dialog system! This is not quite feature-complete, but I’ll wait later for more specific use cases to add what’s missing. What I have so far:

  • Dynamic placement of the camera when entering a dialog
  • Scrolling text
  • Rich text (I know this is default in unity, but you have to tweak your scrolling text, otherwise it’ll break the markup tags)
  • Shader animations (you can put materials on the text component)
  • Static cameras
  • Contextual music trigger and sound effect trigger
  • NPC animation trigger
  • Questions with branching paths
  • Dialog progression + persistence
  • Localization

And with this, I think I’ve put off doing more character animations for long enough so I’ll need to get back into it. Next up: a combat system… hopefully.