20 Minute Monsters: N-S

Every Sunday morning I livestream monster drawings from the 1st edition Monster Manual on twitch.tv/torenatkinson with the time limit of 20 minutes (ish)

Ned the nerdy neo-otyugh nibbles nervously on a nymph in a negligee. Nightly.

Ollie the orange owlbear ogles an octopus in the ocean.

A prowling pack of petite purple worms preys upon a panicking paladin

Quentin the quintessential quasit in a quarry of quartzite quiet quits his quest to quaff a quart of quicksilver

Rudy the ruddy rust monster revoltingly retches remnants of Ruddiger’s ringmail

Six stubborn stirges swarm a sorry straggler and his steed

Toren’s Taiwan Trip 14: Liouhe Night Market


There was a big power outage through many cities of Taiwan today, and here’s an article to prove it. This was apparently caused by an accident but parts of Taiwan are vulnerable to brownouts during the summer when demand for A/C is too much for the system.

We walked to the Jilin Street Night Market for food but it was crazy crowded so we took a 5 minute cab ride to Liouhe Night Market instead.

Look at how crazy crowded it is!

Aiyu jelly, known in Amoy Hokkien as ogio, and as ice jelly in Singapore, is a jelly made from the gel from the seeds of the awkeotsang creeping fig found in Taiwan and East Asian countries
Aiyu jelly, known in Amoy Hokkien as ogio, and as ice jelly in Singapore, is a jelly made from the gel from the seeds of the awkeotsang creeping fig found in Taiwan and East Asian countries

I got sour green mango!

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon – THE ESSENTIALS – Part 3 (Season 3)

Click here for part 1. Click here for part 2.

There were only 6 episodes in season 3!


Essential? Yes. This episode explains some of Venger’s backstory, and what master he serves.
Game Adaptation Friendly? It could be challenging but also interesting to take away kids’ weapons of power during the Underworld set pieces.
AD&D Monsters: Shadow demon, salamanders, duergar (possibly), purple worm
Bonus monsters: He Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken

When the kids release a powerful evil entity from the Box of Balefire, DM drains the Weapons of Power to fend it off, and escape to the Underworld. Without magic and with Venger on their heels, the kids are separated one by one as they cross the Planes of Fire to revivify DM in the Dungeon at the Heart of Dawn.

Notes: Starts off with the characters in pitch black, saving thousands on the animation budget! Frank Welker Voices: Hogar the duergar.


Essential? No but as a kid’s cartoon with Nazis it’s worth a watch
Game Adaptation Friendly? No this could go sideways in many many ways.
AD&D Monsters: blue dragon

Venger uses the Crystal of Chronos to send a Nazi fighter pilot back to WWII Germany with modern jet technology to win the war for Germany, thus eliminating the kids before they’re born. 

Notes: Diana has never seen an American fighter jet. Frank Welker Voices:  American fighter pilot


Essential? No
Game Adaptation Friendly
AD&D Monsters:  jackalope. Bonus monster: some kind of dire camel or possibly off-model catoblepas

DM quests the kids to find and destroy the unpredictably dangerous Stone of Astra, which is in the hands of a kid that Eric bonds with named Lorn. An evil wizard frames the kids in an effort to acquire the artifact.

Notes: this is Eric gets a friend episode. Frank Welker voices the wizard Korlock


Essential? No
Game Adaptation Friendly? No
AD&D Monsters: orcs. Bonus monster: flying bat-thing

Sheila frees a girl Kareena from her magic prison, and there’s two magic Ring of the Heart and the Ring of the Mind that can send the kids home, but Kareena has a connection with Venger. 

Notes: Frank Welker voices an orc


Essential? No
Game Adaptation Friendly? Quite possibly! But I haven’t tried it yet.
AD&D Monsters: Faerie dragons, giant ants

Tasmira, queen of the Faerie Dragons, is held prisoner by the evil warlord King Varen, who desires their treasure. Aided by the sassy little dragon Amber, the gang must free her and help her people find a new home.

Notes: Presto makes a reference to the 1950’s giant ants movie “Them!” 


Essential? No
Game Adaptation Friendly? Quite possibly! But I haven’t tried it yet.
AD&D Monsters: brontotherium. Bonus monsters: furry pet, darkling.


Essential? Tough call. Considering it’s not official, I would say it’s strictly not essential. But if you want closure, watch it.
Game Adaptation Friendly? Ask me later.
AD&D Monsters: Hydra, bronze dragon, lizard men, shadow demon. Bonus monster: amoeboid

This was to be the final episode of the series and a script was written but it was not officially produced. A radio play of the script was released with the DVD box set, including the original voice of Sheila, Katie Leigh. In 2020 a fan-made animation was released on Youtube which you can see here.


Post-Apocalyptic Movie Review: Solarbabies (1986)

In the parched desert of the post-apocalypse, with water highly controlled, children are indoctrinated into ‘the system’ by the authoritarian Eco-Protectorate. A young child, the mascot of the ‘skate ball’ team Solarbabies, uncovers an magical alien sphere which cures his deafness, and does vague magical things like showing the kids visions of a water-filled future. The evil E.P. eventually acquires the orb through their goons the E-Police, but the Solarbabies rescue it and release the water back into the world.

They should have called this Waterlessworld! It’s a messy, pointless mash-up of E.T., Maze Runner and Rollerball, but I was impressed with the production value and set pieces, especially Tiretown. Also kind of fun to see a youngish Charles Durning (Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother Where Art Thou) and the wicked Sarah Douglas (Ursa from Superman II) being wicked in oversize shoulderpads.

Tropes: secret green sanctuary, future slang lingo, stoic dude has a pet bird, smashing control panel causes facility to self destruct, robot goes crazy, dobermans, futuristic sport is hybrid of current sports.

Toren’s Rating: 5/10

Now back to Toren’s Post-Apocalyptic Movie Guide

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon – THE ESSENTIALS – Part 2 (Season 2)

Click for PART ONE (Season 1)
Click for PART THREE (Season 3)

This season the episodes begin to focus on individual characters a bit more, giving them connections with other kids they meet during their travels. There are 8 episodes.


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? I haven’t tried to run it but it seems problematic.
AD&D Monsters: bullywugs, lizard men, hydracockatrice. Original monsters: bat-winged tentacle monster

Bobby’s true love episode. The kids meet another refugee from the D&D ride on Earth, Teri, with an ability of prophetic dreams. DM tells them a portal home lies within within the Maze of Darkness. Teri dreams that she will be reunited with Bobby in America and DM confirms it will happen. Venger wants the secret of Teri’s powers. For some reason Bobby destroys the portal after Teri passes through it. 

Notes: Sheila spanks a lizard man, and We learn former pupils of DM died in the maze!


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? No, for multiple reasons
AD&D Monsters: plesiosaurus, orcs, shadow demon. Original monsters: demodragon

Venger has created a two-headed horror Demodragon in an effort to trick Queen Sulinara of Tardos Keep into giving up their treasured dragonsbane. Venger would use the plant against Tiamat, but DM sends the kids to help. Somehow they avoid dying. 


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? I think this could work if you’re willing to separate a PC from the rest of the group.
AD&D Monsters: hook horrors, possibly a modified Type III Demon

King Ramuud, posing as a caravan merchant from Kadish, has lost his daughter Aisha to a creature called the Night Walker, who enslaves kids in his city where time is stopped. When Bobby is also taken, the kids go to rescue him.

Notes: Schoolmate Jimmy Whitaker says Presto does stupid magic tricks. Ramuud is way nicer than Eric’s dad. 


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? Yes, the plot is quite simple, though I have not run it myself. 
AD&D Monsters: orcs, shadow demon. Original creatures: Cloud bears.

In this Endor/Ewok/Care Bears ‘ripoff/homage’, Hank and Bobby are captured by Venger, and Hank makes a deal to betray his comrades in order to save Bobby. Then he learns that the magic stones of the cloud bears are Venger’s kryptonite.

Notes: Venger uses orcs to attack the tree-dwelling cloud bears. He should have used his flying apes from episode 3!


Game adaptation friendly? Not with any regard to power balance, no.
AD&D Monsters: giant wasps, yeti, red dragon, roc, giant octopus (presumably)

Eric takes on the mantle and powers of Dungeon Master while the kids quest to the City of Darkhaven to acquire The Golden Grimoire. 

Notes: They reference Star Wars. Eric has a selfless moment, Bobby is fine with leaving Uni alone in the realm this time. The animation during the climax is higher quality than the rest of the ep.


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? Probably, but I haven’t run it personally.
AD&D Monsters: Tiamat, orcs, giant squid

In this fairly dark episode, Presto connects with a natural illionist Varla, held captive by Venger in the Forbidden Tower. The kids must rescue her but Venger frames them as witches and townsfolk throw them in jail. 

Presto’s love episode, with a happy ending, but we don’t know what happens to Varla for the rest of the series. 

Notes: DM takes a bow at the end of the episode


Essential? YES! One of the darker episodes where the kids finally try to take control of their destiny.
Game adaptation friendly?
Not sure how you would do this. Would give the PC opportunity to gain new Weapons of Power.
AD&D Monsters: frost giant, shadow demon, Tiamat

Remarkably this episode starts with the kids finding a portal home, and the kids are fed up when Venger thwarts them. The plan: to put an end to Venger, permanent-like, with the help of Tiamat.


Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? No
AD&D Monsters: doombat, demon

Diana falls for the extremely uncharismatic Kosar, recently escaped from a dungeon in city of Turad by the demon queen to prevent the fulfilling of the prophecy “On the Night of Starfall, the child of the stargazer shall come from a far away land to stand in the Temple of Light and the demon shall be banished.” 

Notes: No Venger in this episode. Episode opens with Diana singing the end credits music. The animation is uneven in this episode, off model at times but more anime at the end




The final episode that wraps up the kids’ journey was scripted by Michael Reaves but was not professionally animated, as Mark Evanier explains on his blog. However, see the fan version here

20 Minute Monsters: I to M

I stream these every Sunday at 10am pacific time!

Around this time I started putting the monsters in alliterative situations!

Invisible Stalker. Poor Ruddiger the elf is getting a handful

Jerry the jackalwere with a jerkin and javelins

Kobold riding a Ki-Rin

Lani the lavender Lich in a loincloth and lanyard casts lightning bolt

Mauve Mind flayer mentally messes a Mimic in the mold of a massive monstrous morning star

Toren’s Taiwan Trip 13: Taitung Forest Park, Railway Art Village, Tiehua Music Village

March 2, 2022. Time for a nice leisurely bike ride in Taitung Forest Park!

Egret Lake is quite nice! There’s a pheasant around but I couldn’t get a decent photo.

I got scared of a wasp!

Flowing Lake, accessed by a tunnel underneath the highway, is a man-made, very long rectangular lake for swimming and boating, We just biked around it and I looked at plants. At the far end you can take a short walk to the beach on the mighty Pacific Ocean.

We had lunch at a place called John John Morning, which I thought was pretty decent!

At dusk we went to the Railway Art Village which was pretty funky, but with the COVID happening, many of the art studios were not open.

Tiehua Music Village was a place to sit down and relax and listen to some live music, while jet fighters constantly did exercises over our heads! Kinda scary

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon (1983-1985) – THE ESSENTIALS – Part 1 (Season 1)

In which I suggest only the absolute essentials for someone who might be curious about the show but not want to invest in the whole series. There are 27 episodes in total, and I’m going to suggest six, which together come to about the length of a feature film.

What are my criteria? Well written, not overly goofy, portrays the D&D game world reasonably authentically, and has heart.

Click here for Season 2 (under construction)
Click here for Season 3 (under construction)

A Marvel/TSR co-production, developed by the legendary Mark Evanier. Mark has a fun blog entry on how it all got started

The conceit of the show, explained in the opening credits, is that six American kids are transported to a realm of sword and sorcery via a carnival ride. There they are assigned AD&D classes (ranger, barbarian, thief, cavalier, magician, acrobat) and magical “Weapons of Power” by a Yoda-like character called “Dungeon Master.” Ol’ DM basically tortures them with riddles and teases them with quests that promise to lead them back to the good ol’ US. Naturally, they never escape the realm of D&D.

Oh, and because it’s the 80’s, the mandatory cutesy mascot is in this case a baby unicorn “Uni” voiced, of course, by Frank Welker. Peter “Optimus Prime” Cullen is the voice of the recurring bad guy, Venger, who we learn secrets about in later episodes.

The score is excellent, and shares some tracks with the contemporary Marvel Spider-Man and Hulk series. The animation also at times transcends typical Saturday morning fare, with some clear “money shot” sequences, such as when a castle crumbles into a volcano and Venger’s immortal spirit towers over the heroes.

As a Dungeon Master myself, I’ll be looking at this series with my DM hat on. Are some episodes D&D adventure-adaptation friendly? Could it be a playable scenario to run with your home group? I have adapted some episodes, which I detail at length in old 2005 blog entries here and here https://torenatkinson.com/2005/04/16/part-2-campaign-adaptation/

There are 13 episodes in season 1


Essential? It’s fine but you can skip it.
Game adaptation friendly? No, too much of the plot is dependent on particular decisions a group probably won’t make.
AD&D Monsters: Tiamat. Original monsters: fire-breathing brown dragons

Presto the nerdy magician is tricked into releasing a swarm of dragons that plagued the town of Helix 100 years ago. The kids defeat Tiamat twice because she is very dumb.

Watch my commentary as a storyboard artist, voice actor, and DM:


Essential? No. As much a fan as I am of beholders, they don’t really do the monster justice, and the episode drags somewhat.
Game adaptation friendly? I can’t see how the kids could survive this in normal play, so I say no.
AD&D Monsters: beholder, giant scorpion, blue dragon. Original monsters: giant snail people, sabre-tooth cats of some kind?

The kids get mixed up with a cowardly knight, Sir John. DM leads the kids to a portal guarded by a beholder. The beholder disappointingly only shoots lazers or energy tentacles from its eyes. Venger shows up to kill John and the kids forego the way home in favor of saving John.

Notes: Frank Welker voices Sir John. My video commentary is here:


Lolth demon queen of spiders

Essential? Yes, I recommend this episode.
Game adaptation friendly? I think you could do it, except it relies on the PCs trusting Hector, which may not happen.
AD&D Monsters: Tiamat, shadow demon, troll, orcs, misc townsfolk including a bugbear and lizard man or troglodyte? Lolth demon queen of spiders! Original monsters: “simian bats”

The kids’ weapons run out of magic and must be recharged at a tomb called the Hall of Bones. Hector the pantsless halfling guides them.

Notes: Frank Welker does the “don’t stop!” background voice and Hector the Halfling


Ponder the orb

Essential? Yes, the new villain Kelek is cool.
Game adaptation friendly? Well, if your group doesn’t have a unicorn buddy, probably not.
AD&D Monsters: (dire) wolves; unicorns

Kelek the bad wizard wants to collect unicorn horns from the few remaining specimens. Uni learns she can teleport, although this seldom comes up in future episodes.


Essential? It’s run of the mill plot, but has some charm. Still, you can skip it.
Game adaptation friendly? Yes, I did it successfully.
AD&D Monsters: sprite, zombie, bullywugs, lamassu, earth elemental, orcs, giant snapping turtle, shadow demon. Original monster: giant snail, “Know Tree”

The mercenary Warduke captures DM to sell to Venger. In the quest to rescue him, the kids are captured and thrown in slave mines where they meet a dwarf who talks like Yoda.

Warduke was given an action figure, and years later was statted up in Dragon Magazine and given an official miniature

This was the only episode I could find on VHS back in the day


Essential? This is a decent character episode for Eric, so watch it if you like his character, otherwise you can skip.
Game adaptation friendly? Possibly but I haven’t tried it.
AD&D Monsters: giant metal golem, ogre mage. Original monsters: bog beasts

DM leads the kids to a portal home that opens once a year for 60 seconds, but Eric is transformed into a croaking “bog beast” by a magic flower. In order to break the spell they must seek out more bog beasts who are threatened by Kalimung the ogre mage. The kids actually make it home, but return to the realm to restore Eric’s form.


A stone golem?

Essential?  It’s pretty good, but I wouldn’t say it’s mandatory.
Game adaptation friendly? Maybe, but the riddles are fairly obvious, and it requires a character to work a magic spell so probably one of the PCs should be a spellcaster.
AD&D Monsters:: shadow demon, orcs, violet fungus, shambling mound, zombies, animated statues or stone golem, 

DM tells the kids that a gnome wizard trapped in ‘a prison without walls’ can help them get home, but first they must release him and free his people from Venger’s enslavement. 


Essential? Yes. I think this ep is emblematic of the show, showcases character, has heart, and portrays the quality of D&D.
Game adaptation friendly?
Yes, and I’ve run it successfully! 
AD&D Monsters: lizard men, a giant, xill. Original monsters: unidentified land tadpoles, lavender serpentine prisoner, lava hydra (possibly just a spell)

With the exception of birthday boy Bobby, Venger captures all the kids, takes their weapons and puts them in the Prison of Agony. DM gives Bobby a magic amulet, and sends him to rescue his friends, which he does with the help of the fighter Strongheart and the kind-hearted giant who serves as gatekeeper

Notes: Strongheart was one of the characters in the D&D action figure line


Essential? No. It’s got good qualities but is annoying in places.
Game adaptation friendly? Not easily – the PCs are separated and subjected to their phobias, which can be tricky to run. 
AD&D Monsters: Grimlocks, swamp hags, giant eagle AKA war bird. 

A powerful artifact called the Circle of Power lies within the Lost Tower (of the Celestial Knights), and DM says it can get the kids home. Dekkion, the last Celestial Knight (presently cursed by Venger), admits the kids into the tower where their worst fears of the kids are manifest.



Essential? No
Game adaptation friendly? I say no.
AD&D Monsters: baby green dragon (?), phantom stalkers, bloodworm, choke creeper (?)

Bobby is poisoned during a monster fight and the only cure comes from the garden of an evil queen. The queen needs to wed a king to avoid losing her throne, and the successful applicant must survive the Trial of the Worm. The kids find an ally in the monstrous Sorlarz who has his own secret past.


Essential? A neat inventive concept but if you’re pressed for time it’s okay to skip.
Game adaptation friendly? Yes I think so but I haven’t tried.
AD&D Monsters: bullywugs, shadow demon, Tiamat, giant wasps

The kids must take the sorceress Zandora’s magical chest to Skull Mountain at noon and open it to find a way home. The kids actually do get home but Venger comes through as well and threatens to destroy Earth so they return.


Essential? This ep stands out from the rest because of the space stuff, which is cool. If you’re a Spelljammer fan you might check this out. Otherwise ok to skip
Game adaptation friendly? Yes I think so!
AD&D Monsters: shadow demon, orcs, lizard men, possibly a grimlock. Original monsters: some cloaked one-eyed humanoids and the creatures they ride

DM informs the kid about a ship and a group of kids from another planet, who they find and befriend. They must all rescue the groups elder and spaceship, held in Venger’s castle.


Essential? Definitely not
AD&D Monsters: stegosaurus, orcs, a xill, a three-headed giant/firbolg? a giant and 2 gold dragons.
Game adaptation friendly?  Possibly

One of Presto’s spells backfires and sends the other kids to the house of a hairy giant, who torments his new playthings with his pet ‘slime beast’ Willy. He’s also been stealing eggs from a gold dragon’s nest.

1. Hall of Bones

2. Valley of the Unicorns

3. Servant of Evil

Go to Season 2 here! https://torenatkinson.com/2023/04/13/dungeons-and-dragons-cartoon-the-essentials-part-2-season-2/

Toren’s Taiwan Trip 12: Sanxiantai

MAR 1 2022

Important note: Sanxiantai bridge was affected by earthquakes in 2022 and is closed for maintenance until 2024

Time for another drive! And a stop at a roadside snack – drinking coconut water straight out of a fresh coconut.

Soon we arrived at Sanxiantai Island!

And the magical bridge of magic!

The view from the bridge is fab, and a little path leads further into the island, we could see the bridge behind us

Lizards! Lizards just off the path! Scampering and chasing eachother around!

After we left, we drove on for a bit and then took a short break at Jialulanxiuxi Station 加路蘭休息站(停車場) park for another look around

Weird plant!

Tomorrow: A bike ride and pheasants in Taitung Forest Park and a walk around Taitung including Railway Art Village!

Toren’s Taiwan Trip 11: Farm Dream Estates – Just South of Hualien

MONDAY FEB 28 2022

Breakfast and then time to leave the B&B!

Today I drove wife, mom, sister and niece to Farm Dream Estates which is about 30 minutes South of Hualien by car.

The entry and main concourse

There were many exhibits in the main building including the indigenous peoples of the island and also bugs!

Outside, many caged animals, including birds of all kinds, tortoises, red panda, raccoon, coati, and meerkats.

Way in the back, you get to the ‘farm’ part of the estate, which glamorizes the American West

On the way back to Taitung, we stopped at the Tropic of Cancer landmark, which you can go inside of! There was also an indigenous shop


In Taiwan, you will see dogs on scooters

Next stop: Bridge at Sanxiantai