See, now this guy is appropriately badass.

Things just aren't what they used to be. I remember a kinder, gentler time, when a wizard could rule villages, cities, or entire countrysides through abject fear using only a few simple incantations. Today, magic is something to scoff at - the clownish domain left to oversexed prestidigitators and gay animal trainers in tights. I'm not saying real wizards have a problem with the gay thing - we're stupendously openminded toward the alternative sexualities. We have to be. Sexuality in any form was originally a practical joke by Renthar Shadowsteel a few millennia back. He thought it was funny as hell. We all did. At least, until a group of adventurers stormed into his mountain lair and killed him before he could reverse the spell. Oh well. The point is, today's magicians are all about smoke and mirrors. It's hard to inspire true fear by making your sexy assistant turn into your other sexy assistant. Now, if you were to turn your sexy assistant into an eight-headed ogre with eleven arms and acidic mucous, that would be something. But alas, the real art of magic is nearly dead. In fact, it's dying a little more every day. Just take a look at this.

Too Much Spirit Kills Sorcerer

A SRI Lankan magician killed himself during a black magic ritual to harness evil forces after he was overwhelmed by the spirits he had drunk, rather than those he was trying to cast spells on, a press report said today.

The 71-year-old man had used his full force to dash a coconut on the ground as part of the ritual on behalf of a customer, but lost his balance and ended up hooked on the trident, a weapon of Hindu gods, the Sinhalese-language Lankadeepa said.

These guys are not helping the cause.

Another one bites the dust. It sounds to me like he was trying to reenact the Fettering ritual that Meldichus the Obliterator did a few centuries back. Look, Sri Lanka-boy, I knew Meldichus the Obliterator. I worked with Meldichus the Obliterator. And you, sir, were no Meldichus the Obliterator. Nonetheless, I wish you the best in the next world. Good luck on the outer planes, brother. May your journey through the ether be swift, and may your soul never be chewed upon by Perpnagginus, the Many Mouthed Soulchewer. But as much as of a tragedy as the death of this Sri Lankan sorcerer is, the real tragedy is that mages as a whole have sunk so low as to be killed by losing our balance and impaling ourselves on pointy sticks. Even a trident, which is really three pointy sticks in one, is still no way for a sorcerer to go. I remember the days when you'd terrorize some peasants by blocking out the sun and raining fire upon their livestock every so often, then they'd hire a band of adventurers to break into the mystical lair you'd carved out of the very living rock of the nearest convenient mountain, or if you were lucky, volcano, and they'd defeat your undead minions and then finally kill you in an epic battle. You'd die, they'd take your Stone of Scrying, or whatever you happened to have lying around, and then they'd go collect their reward. Now that was the way for a sorcerer to die!

I blame a number of factors. First, the world is simply a busier place. Any civilization worth terrorizing is too damn busy with their cell phones and their SmartCars and their Olsen twins to care that you've wrested the power of immortality from the gods themselves. Why, just the other day I was having a powwow with my buddy, Thanostius the Unwatchable, and we decided that it would be a lark to bestow an evil curse an entire town. It took us all day to get the damn thing right - I chalk it up to lack of evil practice, but you just try getting people to show up to evil rehearsal on a weekly basis in this day and age - but we finally did it. You know what happened? Just take a look at this news report:

Neither is this guy.

AC OF TOWN LOWERED BY FOUR

Today, a pair of wizards placed a curse upon the small city of Middletown, CT, effectively lowering the Armor Class of the entire city by four. Other effects of the curse are still being discovered, but are speculated to include a minus-two penalty to hit, and possibly to damage, as well. While the magnitude of this curse is great, the citizens of Middletown seem largely uninterested.

"Yeah, that negative two to my saving throw against fear will suck," said Bruno Vallenti, 46, owner of a local convenience store. "But I've got plenty to be afraid of as it is. What with all these terrorists running around and the security alerts changing every day, there's so much to be scared of that who's got time to actually be afraid of any of it?"

When asked if she was worried about the curse, schoolteacher Dana Philbert, 37, was unconcerned. "Sure, it bothers me that my enemies can hit me easily, even if I'm wearing full plate armor. I mean, a horde of hobgoblins could storm in and just start bossing us all around at any minute. But I wasn't about to stand up to a rampaging bunch of hobgoblins anyway. I've got enough to deal with just trying to keep track of thirty kindergartners. The little monsters have been throwing their crayons lately, and believe me, now that they're all minus two to hit me with them, I'm almost glad we've all been cursed."

Mayor Domenique Thorton declined to comment, but one of her aides issued a statement saying that a party of adventurers will not be sent for to dispatch the spellcasters responsible for this curse. However, if a group of adventurers happens to be passing by and wants to kill them, they will be allowed to keep any gold, gems, or magical items they find. In addition, the City of Middletown will give them each a complementary Bag of Holding and a coupon good for one free appetizer at the First & Last Tavern.

I don't even know what to say about this one.

What kind of crap is this? This isn't the way it's supposed to be! Placing a curse on a single individual is hard enough. Doing it to an entire carefully defined geographical region should be grounds for some sort of award, not this dismissal and derision! It's a sorry state of affairs when a city can just laugh off the work of not one, but two wizards. I'd like to pin all the blame on the state of society, but I realize that it's just as much of an internal problem as it is the fact that people suck. Of course I realize that. I realize all. The Fates dance at my command. Well, not "dance," exactly. They used to dance. Now they just sort of meander. Still, they meander at my command, and that's better than most people can say.

The problem is largely recruitment. Numbers have been going down ever since Nektomephet the Improbable accidentally turned himself into a proper noun. Plus, the prospect of getting killed by adventurers just doesn't hold the same appeal it used to. Today's adventurers carry guns and sometimes Mace. God, I hate Mace. That shit stings, man. I can deflect bullets with my Shield of Will spell, but one spray of Mace has me reaching for the magic bottle containing my Clear Eyes Solution of Stopping My Corneas From Fucking Bleeding. I remember the days when if an adventurer used a mace, it was a heavy object on a stick that they'd hit you with, not this pussy pepper spray shit. There's no dignity in having adventurers fight their way through your lair when they're using GPS tracking to find you and using some crappy aerosol to bring you down. What happened to all the Swords of Wounding, Daggers of Blood, Flails of Might in the world? God, I'd kill for an adventurer with an enchanted axe, or a Bat of Cold, or a Vorpal Tennis Racket or anything that could at least be passed off as a decent weapon.

The art itself is in a pretty sad state. When's the last time you saw someone shoot a decent bolt of lightning from their fingertips? Let alone some Chain Lightning? Never, that's when. The best we get these days is some annoying guy who gives people a lot of static electricity shocks. That's not exactly the sort of thing that commands unwavering obedience to your dark whims. You can't barge into the Mayor's office and demand subservience upon penalty of nuisance. There was a time when you could see the effects of dark magic on the world at large. You'd wake up one day and your kingdom would be overrun with zombies, or all the crops in a village would turn to dust. Nowadays, the world is so complex that it's nearly impossible to tell the cause behind anything. I can't think of a single event that was the result of evil magic. I sort of suspect it's behind the fact that Mandy Moore is now associated more with acting than with music, but I can't prove it.

Don't even get me started.

Wizards, sorcerers, and other arcane spellcasters of the world, we need to step it up a notch. I'm not so foolish to think that the entire artistry behind evil magic is going to come back just because I want it to, but maybe we don't necessarily need that. What we really need to reestablish ourselves is some quality magical items. Good adventurers love a quality magical item. They can't resist the allure. Back in the good ol' days of rampant death, plague, famine, and misery, when we needed to attract some adventurers, we'd just get our hands on a decent magical item and store it in a really obvious place. We wouldn't use it, just have it. It worked like a charm. So what you want to do is go out and pick up some Pipes of Sounding, or a Periapt of Health, or maybe even a Stone of Warding. Whatever it is, don't actually use it. Sure, you could wear a Periapt of Health and make yourself nigh on invincible, but don't. Just keep it around. Put it on an altar or pedestal or similarly blatant place in the center of a room at the heart of your evil lair, like you're guarding it or something, even though, as a wizard, it would make a lot more sense for you to use a magical item than to just stand near it all the time. But that's precisely what you need to do. Trust me, you'll have rangers swarming your ass like bees to honey... if it was on your ass. Maybe you'll even pull in a paladin. Trust me, it can't fail.

My friends, we can reassert ourselves. Maybe there aren't as many choice villages these days, and maybe all the good lair real estate has already been developed, but find yourself a nice evil apartment, nothing too expensive, and just keep your mind on the job. You'll have the surrounding area fearing your almighty powers in no time. Or, if not, at least you'll have a nice place. Either way, just remember, David Copperfield's little parlor tricks bagged him Claudia Schiffer, so just imagine what some real magic can get you! Ah, who am I kidding? None of us will ever touch a woman. That's it, I'm going into show business.

The Weekend Web: The Thing On SA You Don't Bother Clicking On

Hello internet friends, Zachary "Spokker Jones" Gutierrez here broadcasting live from the internet. I love the internet. Only on this magical land could Christian nutcases, zany anime nerds, American Idol role playing freaks, internet toughguys, and sacks of teenage crap all live together in peace and harmony. If you're asking yourself, "Spokker Jones where can I see all these people?" I would reply, "Why, in the Weekend Web of course!" Boy oh boy have we got a great update for you today. Just take a look at this!

Those Harry Potter books are instruments of Satan, I tell you what! Anyway, enough talk! It's time forThe Weekend Web.

– Ben "Greasnin" Platt

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