Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dress Up As the Dread Pirate Roberts

Put together the dashing, deadly and terribly comfortable Man in Black costume from The Princess Bride!

Tired of just dressing up as an ordinary pirate? Then why not be the Dread Pirate Roberts?

The Dread Pirate Roberts is the perfect hero; heroic, skilled in sword, wit and strength, a daring pirate, a mysterious masked man, dressed in black like a ninja and the captain of his own ship, he pursues vengeance and true love with equal turns of comedy and daring across the screen of The Princess Bride.

Not only can he be played straight or silly, over dramatic or quietly competent, but his costume is actually pretty easy to put together!

The Dread Pirate Roberts makes a great costume on its own, a really good couple cosplay with someone dressed as Buttercup (see the quick costume guide to Buttercup here) or a group cosplay of all the characters. The Princess Bride has a nicely varied cast of very recognisable characters of very different builds and personalities, so it would suit a very mixed group of people.
The Dread Pirate Roberts wears what is now a 'standard' black pirate costume. This is a no sewing version, because I can't sew! (Obviously you can modify stuff if you have the skill).

Each piece of clothing (leggings, shirt, head scarf) is black and needs to match the rest as closely as possible. It turns out that clothes come in different shades of black, so be careful. The boots, gloves, belt and mask are all made of shinier materials in the film and serve as highlights to break up the black, but should all be as close to each other as possible.

We pause for an important PSA...

If you don't own, or haven't even seen, The Princess Bride, then you need to correct this as quickly as possible! It's a fantastically funny film that covers all the genres. The book is a rich source of parody and background material, and it's well worth picking it up to learn more about the character and motivations of the Dread pirate Roberts (all of them).

The Dread Pirate Roberts action figure
is a good costume reference.

What Do You Need for a Dread Pirate Roberts Costume?

  • Pirate Boots (for emptying stones out of)
  • A sword (replica or cheap approximation)
  • A mask! (they're terribly comfortable)
  • Tunic/shirt
  • Trousers
  • Gloves for added blackness
  • Hairstyle - short ponytail and a black headwrap
  • Belt / sash
  • The Pencil mustache!
  • Attitude and Quotes

Prep Time: Depends how good you are at shopping or sewing, and what you already own, but it shouldn't take more than half an hour to put together once you have all the pieces.

Total Wearable Time: Until someone forces you to take it off or you get arrested

Serves: All comers

Don't have the time, money, or interest for putting your own costume together? You can just buy a ready made version.

Otherwise, read on for specific step-by-step instructions for each step of the costume and places you can buy each item. The nice thing about this costume is that it's very similar to standard pirate costumes, and the Zorro outfit, so you can easily adapt one of those if you have one.

Headgear (Mask and Headwrap)

The Dread Pirate Roberts cunningly conceals his identity from his true love and frustrates his opponents by wearing a black half mask and wrapping his head in a scarf.

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone that says differently is selling something."
"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone that says differently is selling something."

Take the time to get a decent mask and DON'T get a kid's one unless you've got a very small face. I did, and the eye holes were in the wrong place and the mask itself was uncomfortable. There are quite a few different black half masks on Amazon (also see 'domino mask'), and most of them are pretty cheap.

The headwrap is just a plain black scarf; I recommend getting a headwrap that's already been turned into a head thing.

Here you can see that the back of the bandanna is quite long - hanging to just below his shoulders. You can also get a look at the two swords.

This is the set-up for one of the best moments in the film - Inigo has just switched hands, declaring he's not actually left-handed, and beaten the Man in Black back... Moments after this scene, the Man in Black pulls the same trick!

If you've got a black scarf of some kind and are any good at tying knots, you could (fairly) easily make this yourself. It is worn as a smooth black headwrap, with the back parts of the scarf tangling down to just below the shoulders. This means you'll want a nice big one, like this Big Solid Bandana.

Mask and Headgear Examples

The Boots For The Dread Pirate Roberts Costume

The Dread Pirate Roberts wears fairly standard pirate boots, knee high and rolled over at the top. Finding a black pair is the most difficult part!

If you don't want the expense of a full pair of boots then you can buy boot covers, which often work very well. Look for ones that come just below the knee, are black, with as few buckles and laces as possible (his costume is supposed to be plain and featureless).

The rolled over part at the top shouldn't be jagged or diagonal, and shouldn't cover more than half the length of the boot (a quarter to a third is about right).
Ellie Shoes Adult Buccaneer Boots
Pleaser Women's Maiden-2025 Pirate Boot,Black PU,10 M US
Pleaser Women's Maiden-2025 Pirate Boot,Black PU,10 M US

Black Lace Up Shirts - Plain black pirate or 'Zorro' style shirts

The shirt worn by the Dread Pirate Roberts is black (of course), laces up at the front, and with billowing sleeves. It's a pretty typical pirate shirt, so you should easily be able to find something.

It does have a small collar, but it doesn't have extra flounces or anything. There is a strip of decoration around each shoulder; a subtle lace pattern, but it's honestly not very noticeable and you're unlikely to find anything that matches. Bear in mind that you can cut flounces and collars off, if you can't find quite the right shirt.

Don't worry about the bottom as that will be tied in by the belt and tuck into the trousers.


Unlike most typical pirate costume pants, the Dread Pirate Roberts' trousers are actually quite tight and slim. You have to be able to move around in them, and they need to fit inside the boots (which means they'll be hidden below the knee). You'll be tying the sash around the top, so this means that the only bit that matters is what shows between knee and waist.

These ankle banded pants would work well, but any pair of black leggings (or tightish trousers) will do!

The Sword

The sword of the Dread Pirate Roberts was actually a fencing foil and he knew how to use it!

Westley wears a swordbelt over his sash, and of course he has a sword. It's a fencing foil, not a pirate cutlass, which is a very important distinction. You can pick up real replicas of his sword, or just grab a cheaper (or safer) alternative. Oh, you'll also want a 'sword frog' to actually hang the sword from!

By The Sword Medieval Ring Belt, Black

This gorgeous fencing foil is a good match. A little pricier than a plastic costume sword, but worth hanging on your wall once Halloween is over. 

The Dread Pirate Roberts duels Inigo Montoya on the Cliffs of Insanity
The Dread Pirate Roberts duels Inigo Montoya on the Cliffs of Insanity
Memorising the following exchange is mandatory, should you desire to wield the Man in Black's sword. (Inigo has a sword too!)

Inigo Montoya: You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
Man in Black: I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
Inigo Montoya: Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capa Ferro?
Man in Black: Naturally... but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?
Inigo Montoya: Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa... which I have.

This beautiful and highly accurate sword is an officially licensed replica of the one used in the film. It is limited to only 750 pieces world wide. The sword is usable as an actual sword or as a display piece.

Sash and Belt



The gloves are optional, but a nice touch of completeness. Extending slightly past the wrist, they flare out to cover the cuffs of the shirt. Ideally, they'll be leather and with no, or minimal, buckles or raised sections or ornamentation. They will of course be black. "Gauntlet gloves' is a good search term to try.

Star Wars Darth Vader Gloves
 Buy Now

The Mustache

No dashing pirate is complete without a silly mustache. Westley has a mousy brown pencil-like mustache. The 'villain' moustache in this costume moustache set is the closest match.

Dread Pirate Roberts Quotes

No costume is complete without some pithy in character comebacks (and if you can't take the excuse of dressing up to go around quoting The Princess Bride, then why are you dressing up at all?). These are all said by the Dread Pirate Roberts - carry your favourite quote on a placard or memorise a bunch of them!
  • You mean, you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword, and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people? 
  • Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. 
  • All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead. 
  • I'm not left handed either! 
  • Get used to disappointment. 
  • [In response to Inigo: Who are you?] No one of consequence. 
  • Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning. 
  • Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what? 
  • This is true love - you think this happens every day? 
  • We are men of action, lies do not become us. 
  • You seem a decent fellow... I hate to die. 
  • Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. 
  • [In response to Buttercup: We'll never survive.] Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has. 
  • Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist. 
  • You mean you wish to surrender to me? Very well, I accept. 
  • There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours. 
  • As you wish 
  • [In response to Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned with acid or something?] Oh no, it's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future. 
  • Well, I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely. 
  • To the pain. 
  • The dread pirate Roberts takes no survivors! All your worst nightmares are about to come true! The dread pirate Roberts is here for your souls!

Looking for a complementary costume? See the Princess Buttercup costume guide here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Munchkin Cthulu: Risk Your Sanity Against the Elder Gods

Battle the reaching tentacles and stay sane!

Buy Munchkin Cthulhu on: or!

Munchkin Cthulhu is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the many horror games based on them (especially The Call of Cthulhu). Lovecraft fans and Cthulhu gamers will love this, but people who have never heard of the Elder Gods (you lucky innocents) will probably be a bit lost. A quick trawl through Wikipedia or hunting out a couple of his books is recommended to appreciate the depth and the jokes.

This is a very solid, very funny, parody, full of monsters from outside of reality, Lovecraft references, threats to your sanity, four original classes (the Investigator, the Monster Whacker, the Professor, and the Cultist). Cultist has an interesting twist, the cult is on the side of the Elder Gods, it can't be discarded and if everyone joins the Cult, the game ends! There are no secondary modifiers (e.g. Races, Loyalties), as everyone is just human. In keeping with the horror theme, this is one of the nastier games, full of monster enhancers for players to ruin each others fights with.

Some of the cards are Shoes of Only Having to Run Faster Than You, Necrocomicon (and assorted puns based on that), Flashlight Goes Out!, Sole Stealer, Tht Whch Hs N Vwls, Shallow Ones, the Dunwich Snorer, Flashlight Goes Out!, Fun Guy from Yuggoth and the Grape Old Ones.

Expansions and Extras for Munchkin Cthulthu

Munchkin Cthulhu 2 Call of Cowthulhu
An expansion for the original game.
56 cards

New card type: Madness (similar to Curses but with a positive random upside).
More items, Lovecraftian parody monsters and tongue in cheek humour to build on the original game. Beware the cows. 

Munchkin Cthulhu 3 Unspeakable Vault (Rev.)
An expansion for the original game.
56 cards

Parodies the webcomic Unspeakable Vault (of Doom) and features the creator Goomi as a guest artist. More monsters and items and silliness, no notable new game-play elements. 

Munchkin Cthulhu 4 Crazed Caverns
Expansion for the original game.
Contains 16 Door cards and 20 Dungeon Cards.

A Cthulthu themed version of Munchkin 6: Demented Dungeons, adding locations that affect the whole party and that you can randomly travel between.

Weird Bonus Stuff

  • The Munchkin Cthulhu Cursed Demo [check as well] : Usually out of stock and out of print, the demo pack is a a special 17-card demonstration deck for playing out scripted moves to show new players. The cards are all from the main Munchkin Cthulhu set. It comes with 39 promo cards to keep or give away. 

A Munchkin Overview: Basic Gameplay and Themed Variants

Themed Munchkin: Dungeons & Dragons, Star Travel and Super Heroes Parody Card Games

Munchkin is a fantastically funny game for 2-8 players (four or five is best), in which you draw cards, fight the monsters you encounter while exploring and collect treasure items to protect your character with. There are also a lot of player to player cards that can render the games completely unpredictable.

Very basically, you are an adventurer, zombie or a vampire or whatever the theme is, exploring through a dungeon or a haunted house. Each player kicks in a Door card and finds out if they've walked into a monster or a curse, or just get another card for their hand. Killing monsters (or eating human brains, in the zombie version), levels you up and wins you cards from the Treasure pile. You can use these cards as items you are wearing (Weapons, armour, random objects with weird effects...), sell them, or just hang onto them until you need to lose some cards.

You 'win' fights by having a higher effective level, or fighting strength' than the monster (your level plus any bonuses from your items) and you can ask people to help by fighting with you or throwing cards at the monster - but people can also throw cards into the fight to make it harder.

There are a plenty of smaller details, and every card has its own text and exceptions, you can make up house rules or not worry about it too much, or stick exactly to the rule sheet. But essentially? It's fun, and it's a great game for groups to play together.

Number of players

The best number of players is 3-6, but Munchkin can be played with 2-8 people. Or more, if you have a large deck - the more players there are, the longer the game drags on, as someone always has one more card to stop the winning player, and the more fun it is, because of the unpredictability and the fact that someone's always willing and able to help you up the first few levels.

With two players it's much more of a straight card game, and much more dependent on luck of the draw, as with only two people there is much less incentive or ability to help each other, and much less chance of sabotaging each other.

Munchkin is a very easy game to jump into and catch up with - just take your starting hand and start asking for help until you reach the same level as everyone else! Of course, it's so unpredictable that a brand new player may draw the right cards to level up several times while another player is still sitting on level one!

Munchkin comes in a wide variety of themed games, each standing alone as a new excuse for different gameplay, terrible jokes, and fandom parody. 

Munchkin is a card based game, which is why it has got so many expansions - you can just keep adding cards to the deck. The original version is a fantasy RPG parody, but there are a dozen other themed versions. Each card is either a Door card ('stuff that lurks behind doors, e.g. curses, monsters and random class/race type cards) or a Treasure card (items you can use or wear or sell). The exact details vary between the different versions, but the overall gameplay doesn't.

Each starting game comes with 168 cards, and the expansions usually contain 15 or 112 cards.

A few expansions add special types of cards, such as the dungeon hopping cards (various specific themes that can be mixed into a certain deck) and the general booster packs that can be added to any version of Munchkin (e.g. Fairy Dust, Munchnomicon). These generally sit in their own pile.

You can combine the games, but unless you are a very keen player, you will probably want to pick one or two versions and stick with those. Each themed Munchkin also comes with expansion packs, so you can add plenty of replayability and additional twists!

Horror Munchkin Games: Zombies, Halloween and Lovecraft

Looking for an awesome halloween game? Munchkin Zombies and Munchkin Cthulthu are two of the most popular spin-off games for Munchkin, and the more recent Munchkin Bites will make a good catharsis for anyone who has had to watch Twilight recently!

Ideal for horror fans, these hilarious genre spoofing games feature shambling zombie players hunting down hapless human opponents and cursing each other at inopportune moments, brave souls facing off against terrifying and insanity inducing elder gods, and a cast of spooky paranormal creatures prowling through a haunted house and surprising a whole host of other creepy monsters!

Pick your favourite, or mix and match - the really fun part of Munchkin, apart from the unfailing hilarity, bad puns and in-jokes, the gameplay is very similar in each version, though they all bring new elements to the table, and you can mix up an entire horror themed deck for a Zombies and Werewolves versus the Elder Gods Munchkin game!

Learn more about the horrifically creepy variants:

Aliens, spaceships and super powers soar across the skies in Star Munchkin and Super Munchkin!

Star Munchkin and Super Munchkin are the two science fiction versions of the game. Star Munchkin is galactic exploration and star travel (and all the films and tropes that go with that). Super Munchkin is based on the superhero genre, and features psychics, heroes, mutants and evil villain opponents. Both games have a lot of aliens!

These two variants are both a bit nicer and less backstabby than the original Munchkin (and definitely nicer than the horror Munchkin games!). They both follow the common principles of becoming more and more overpowered, rather than undercutting other players, whether it's in a technology race (bigger guns! with longer names!) or mutating and acquiring more superpowers (as seen in any superhero or mutant ever if their story arc runs long enough).

Learn more about the science fiction variants:

I'm in the process of updating and transferring all my reviews from elsewhere, more to come!

Super Munchkin: A Mutated Magical Game

Fly through the skies with Super Munchkin!

Super Munchkin is a parody of super heroes. From alien invaders to superman, the golden era of comics shines through in its full mind boggling, logic breaking, heroic glory.

You play as Mutants, Mystics, Technos and Exotics which level up and acquire goofy origin stories, and more and more powers and secondary mutations, to the point of ridiculousity, true to the source material. The villains are villainous evil masterminds and aliens and monsters, and the lines are generally clearly drawn between the forces of Good and Evil.

Much like Star Munchkin, this version is more of a race to become the most overpowered than a backstabbing, mutual-sabotage-fest, so will appeal to people who don't like that aspect much (to balance this out, you could combine it with a particularly nasty one, like the Zombies version, or ramp up the villainy with the expansion, Super Munchkin 2).

Super Munchkin 2: The Narrow S Cape 
112 cards

This an expansion to Super Munchkin adds new items and a lot more villains, to make the game a bit tougher (the base game is weighted on the side of the players, letting you race to create the strongest characters rather than simply struggling to survive).

Star Munchkin: Scifi Parody For Everyone

Star Munchkin  

Are you a fan of science fiction? Then this is the Munchkin for you!

Take it to the stars with Star Munchkin!
Oozing with space travel, science fiction tropes and film and television references, Star Munchkin is set in space, with futuristic guns, alien monsters and futuristic treasures. Pick this up if you're a fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Firefly, Dune, and similar space based shows.

If you appreciate having a Red-Shirted Hireling around to do your heavy lifting and dying, know exactly how to wield a Sonic Screwdriver, are a fan of Red Dwarf and can distinguish a Death Star from a moon from a thousand light years away, then the Star Munchkin is the version for you! It even references the film Invasion Of The Bee Girls, for hardcore geeky reference fans.

The stackable 'aser weapons are probably the bit of game play most worth buying Star Munchkin for (other than the jokes, obviously). It's a fun rule in which all weapon items ending in 'aser' are allowed to stack together to form upgraded super combination weapons. Like Laser-phaser, or the Bananafanafofaser-razor-laser. Truly, the guns of the future.

Once you've got the first game, the Space Ships booster pack adds Ships, which are pretty awesome. Oh, and if you combine this with The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin, you get Firefly!

Get Star Munchkin from or click here to see Star Munchkin on

Star Munchkin Expansions

Star Munchkin 2: The Clown Wars
112 cards

A new race (bugs), new and duplicate cards to help balance the deck, more -azer weapons and more monsters. Also includes the Rooms/Dungeons expansion type (which add in a setting that affects characters).

Space Ships Star Munchkin Expansion

15 cards

Adds the Space Ship card type (similar to Steeds) which your character can travel in, as well as some related cards. Examples include the Horsefly, the Starfurry, or the USS Secondprize. Works well as a booster with other decks.

Star Munchkin 3 Diplomatic Impunity
112 cards

Adds Ships as part of a full expansion, a new race of Veggies, and a new Ambassador class that can roam the universe taking over ships with diplomatic impudence. As well as plenty of new treasures, traps, and enemies to keep space interesting.

Star Munchkin Roleplaying Game
96-page hardback book

Satirical version of RPG manuals based on the Star Munchkin game. Actually playable if you know what you're doing.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday at ThinkGeek!


Free shipping AND further discounts at ThinkGeek! If you're international, this is a very, very good deal (as international shipping can range from US$30-80).
Expires at midnight!

ThinkGeek's international shipping is the main thing that saves my paycheck from them, so, uh. This is a good deal. Christmas shopping time!
CHASER for US customers
SEEKER for international customers

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pens That Work Everywhere

  • The Fisher Space Pen is a pen that writes in SPACE. Space pen. Super space pen. TO THE MOON! But seriously, this is the actual pen they developed for space, used by real astronauts. It writes upside down, right side up, and in temperature extremes and telescopes so that it fits in your luggage more easily. Or your space helmet. You can choose from silver rocket colour or the deep black of space. (although fun fact, Space isn't actually black, it's just that the stars are so far away that their light is infrared when it reaches us so we can't see it). $19.99 
  • The Inka Pen Travel Pen is another super pen that works in hot or cold, high altitudes or underwater! Good for divers, explorers and people who work in dreadful conditions. Like the rain. It doesn't look as cool as the space pen, but it folds down into a 3" little pen, and the handle converts into a little case that you can carry on your keyring, so it's much more portable. It even has a secret stylus - and you can get refills, too! Not to mention the magic words "lifetime manufacturer warranty". $12.99 

Also see the True Utility Telepen Telescopic Pen and the Maxpedition All-Weather Trekker Pen. And of course, the super impressive Uzi Tactical Defender Pen