Category Archives: Movies and Television
Last night, I wrote a lengthy piece on how work has been going lately. I’m in a better mood today, and I’ve decide it was too long and inappropriate to be posting in anything approaching a public forum. Suffice it to say, it has been very stressful lately.
Adding to the stress is Mom’s condition. One week, she seems on fire and is really working to come home. The next week, she seems completely unmotivated. She’s been out of the house since sometime in February, I think. We thought going to Yosemite for her birthday would motivate her, and it seemed to for about two weeks. My sister and I are getting tired of the delays, and they all seem centered on Mom.
I finished the Economix book. I really wasn’t too surprised by much in the final chapters. I’ve lived through them.
I still recommend the book to anyone interested in how our economy got as messed up as it is.
I otherwise haven’t done much of anything creative lately. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’ve been doing with my evenings that aren’t Thursday through Saturday. Sometime in the last two weeks, I watched Arrival, which was a pretty amazing movie. I reread the Killraven comic book mini-series of a few years ago, written and illustrated by Alan Davis. There are some ideas within that series that have inspired some of my ideas in StarSea. That’s all I can remember right now, even looking at a calendar.
That’s pretty much it for this fortnight. Later.
Yesterday, after visiting Mom and a quick stop at HTU to pick up the new White Dwarf, I went and hung out with the Framily. After dinner, we watched some Doctor Who, particularly the episodes The Day of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor, and Deep Breath. These were the transition episodes between Matt Smith’s Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. What stands out for me is the care they take of their universe and the use of recurring characters and species. Like Star Trek, the writers have a setting they curate, not just a collection of weird stuff they string together. I really enjoyed seeing the strings in those episodes that connected to other episodes I’d seen here and there. Good stuff.
When I got home, I had received a paperback I’d bought on eBay. It’s available from Paizo: Sojan the Swordsman & Under the Warrior Star. I bought it for the Sojan the Swordsman portion, as that was authored by Michael Moorcock. I read the stories years ago, but I didn’t have a paper copy anywhere. In fact, I thought they’d been serialized in the Kane of Old Mars books I read in college, but the set I purchased earlier this year did not include the Sojan stories.
The novels include an introduction by the publisher of Paizo discussing the development of the “sword and planet” sub-genre. All in all, it kinda makes me want to run a sword and planet game. In fact, the StarSea has some connection to that sub-genre. Just what I need, another campaign idea…
Today, I spent some time over at the Framily’s. We all went to dinner, and then to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Very entertaining. And somewhat inspiring. It answered some the questions someone familiar with the Harry Potter series might have about how the Wizarding World, like why magic is hidden from muggles. And since there is more interaction between wizards and muggles, there is a certain Mage the Ascension feel to the whole thing, even though Paradox has no place in that world. I could see using this movie as the basis for a campaign.
So, that’s the recap of the past couple of days. Later.
Friday was work, a brief stop at HTU, and then pizza and Star Trek Beyond at the Framily’s. I also learned one of our neighbors died, this week. Let me quote myself from Facebook:
Years ago, the young man across the street was up in Yosemite with his friends. He fell from a considerable height that day, fracturing his upper spine and becoming a quadriplegic. His life was altered forever.
Danny made the best of it. He loved motorcycles, but being unable to ride anymore, so he created on his parents’ land (that he inherited once they passed) a museum for flat-track racing memorabilia. Small donations and an event every May helped support him over the years. He was a good friend to Dad and was the one who noticed Dad’s hadn’t been coming or going when he fell ill before his death, and let us use the museum for Dad’s memorial service.
Over the past few months, diabetes, bladder cancer, and other issues related to his paralysis wore away at his body. A few weeks ago, I came home late to see an ambulance at Danny’s place. He never came home.
Danny died this week. Danny was the unofficial one-man neighborhood watch. He spent good chunks of the day (when it wasn’t rainy) out in front of the museum, and those rare rainy days in it. It is truly strange to think he won’t be out there, keeping an eye on the neighborhood.
Rest In Peace, Danny Rouitt.
My sister told me while I was at HTU, but when I wrote this, my emotions got to me. Star Trek was a much needed relief. The first trailer had us questioning where they were going with things, as it looked like a Vin Diesel action movie, not a Star Trek movie. But the writers delivered a nice, nuanced story (although I knew the big reveal ahead of time, as I’d seen some interviews back when it was out in the theatres), with the right balance of humor, action and thoughtfulness to make it a nice ride. I think they’ve been taking notes from Marvel.
Yesterday was pretty boring, with a lot of sitting and waiting to go visit Mom so we could tell her about Danny. He’d been an inspiration for her when she first went into renal failure, so we expected her to be very upset. she took the news very well, saying she’d noticed she hadn’t seen him when she was out for a long time. After that, I went over to the Framily’s and hung out. After dinner, we went to Target and picked up some stuff, and then sat and watched talk shows until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I finally woke up and got myself awake enough to drive just about the Boy and his dad got home from a band event in Stockton (about two hours north of Fresno).
On the way home, I was listening to an interview with the creator of Murders & Acquisitions, and he mentioned that, as part of his mechanics, as a way of forcing his players to use his version of Fate Points, he built a point cap into his system. Once you are at full, you can’t gain more. Like Fate Points and Cypher XP, they are meant as an immediately expendable resource. I’m not sure it is a great idea for my game, as you’ll need to accumulate points to actually improve in the long run, as I plan on using a multiplier. For example, to raise your character’s Strength from 2 to 3 might cost (current STR x 8 [not actual number]) 16 XP. If the player has a cap of 8, They won’t be able to raise their Strength (or anything else) and the game stagnates. It’s something to think about. I might just be something more appropriate for Fate and not relevant to my system.
Today has been short, including sleeping in (I got home and in bed around 3AM), another visit to Mom, and procrastinating on going to Costco to find out if I can replace my broken phone. I dropped it Thursday (face down into gravel) and cracked the screen. Not so bad I can’t still use it, but enough to be annoying. I just wanted a day of not running, to be honest.
So, I think I’m done for today. Later.
No gaming today, except maybe tangentially. Since yesterday’s post, I dug up some old indie RPGs I wanted to gather in one place (and prepared to re-read a couple), slept, got up and spent some time with my brother, went to see Doctor Strange, had an early Thanksgiving dinner as the aforementioned brother is visiting to see our recently released-from-the-hospital mother, and now I’m doing laundry while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos.
While she was apparently good enough to be discharged, Mom looked unhealthy today. It may simply be because she doesn’t sleep well in the hospital, the legendary midnight awakenings and special bedding to help her sore bottom heal making sleep difficult for her. Hopefully she’ll be better in the morning. I think I’ve mentioned before that we know she likely doesn’t have more than a couple of years left, but how little is the question.
Doctor Strange was very entertaining, and pretty much the perfect homage to the original comics. It had the typical Marvel mix of drama and comedy, and was probably the most philosophical Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet. As one of my friends who I went to the movie said, “I was afraid I’d want to play Mage [the Ascension] again after seeing this.” I’m sure he does, and I could see myself running something like this movie.
A few weeks (or months) ago, I read an article discussing how we don’t perceive every thing happening around us. Their idea was that we would be overwhelmed by all of the little things happening with every step or breath we take. Strange reminded me of the article, along with an odd sensation I’d had a couple of weeks ago. I was driving home one night, and had a moment of clarity in which I realized just what I was doing, driving a car. I became aware of my separateness from the car, the engine feeding power to the wheels, and that fragile me was controlling it all. It was empowering and terrifying all at the same time.
That’s all I can think of for today. I’m hoping tomorrow is an inspiring day, but we’ll have to see how tonight goes with Mom, and tomorrow I work (again, assuming Mom makes it through the night without issue.
So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been kind of immersing myself in storytelling media: Movies, TV, etc. This started partly because a good friend gave me access to her Netflix account so I could watch Voltron, and about the same time, Mom ended up in the hospital again. So, I’ve basically had the house to myself in the evenings. Some of what I’ve taken in has been stuff Mom wouldn’t appreciate (actually, most of it), while some she watched as well.
In all cases, while I’ve tried to watch it for the enjoyment, part of my mind has also examined the things I’ve viewed with a critical mind. Is the storytelling any good? Were the characters handled consistently? Do the writers have a clear idea of what they’re doing with this work?
So, here’s the stuff I’ve watched lately, and what I thought about it:
Voltron – Legendary Defender: I really enjoyed this one a lot. They’ve handled it like the Thundercats of a few years ago, giving the series a total reboot. Voltron Force isn’t part of the canon, and in fact the original GoLion is more of the source, it seems.
I really enjoyed the show. There are subtle hints as to future plot events that play out naturally. In fact, the entire series is handled rather organically. I got no sense of the plot being forced (although it is strange that the Galactic Garrison cadets that form the Voltron team don’t seem in a real hurry to return to Earth), but there are plot holes that are pretty easily handwaved (like the aforementioned AWOL situation). The villains are cool and powerful and somewhat creepy at the upper ends. I’m looking forward to the next season already.
Penny Dreadful: I picked up the DVDs of the first season a while back, and I actually watched the first couple of episodes before Mom was sent to the hospital. Now that I’ve completed the series, I can say I’ll happily give the disk set away.
The idea behind the series is a kind of “What if…?” focusing on the kinds of stories that were present in the Penny Dreadfuls of Victorian England. Those were cheap, tawdry novellas combining crime, sex and the occult. The main character is Mina Harker’s father, Sir Malcolm Murray, with Jonathan Harker playing no part in the story. Murray is a “Great White Hunter” who is determined to free his daughter from the grips of Dracula, who never appears in this season, but rather is represented by another, Nosferatu-like character (probably because the writers realized they misplayed the Count).
I felt this series was directionless and focused too much on being a “cable show.” There is a lot of sex and violence in the series, for no apparent reason than to titillate or terrify the audience, and failing to do either. Related: Apparently, absinthe had the power to make straight men gay for the night. (I have no problems with homosexual or bisexual behavior, as long as it makes sense for the character; the scene in question did not.)
The quest for Mina is eventually completed, but it seemed overly drawn out, almost forgotten most of the time, with constant delays and misdirections (usually for sex or violence), until the final episode of the season. Then, it seemed like the creators decided they should wrap up the main plot unless the series was not picked up and rushed the ending.
All in all, I think the series didn’t deserve the second and third seasons, and I am not surprised it was cancelled before the fourth. I simply can’t recommend the series.
Brain Dead, S01E01: Another series that doesn’t seem to know what it is. The commercials suggested the series was to be a comedy, but the creators (who created The Good Wife, a very serious show) seem to want a level of drama to the series. The series revolves around why politics are so crazy in 2016, and the Macguffin that’s causing the insanity is some space ants that came to Earth in an asteroid that crashed in Russia. Every time the bugs seem to be influencing someone, our heroine hears All I Want Is You by The Cars. This is more jarring than funny, and the exploding head (handled in the usual “off camera” manner) only serves to make the series more grim. Without a direction, I can’t see the series lasting long.
Person of Interest, Final Season: Fucking brilliant! The storytelling this season has been focused and well thought out. The battle between the Machine and crew and Northern Lights and Samaritan seemed well done and believable, for the most part. The stoicism of Reese and Shaw was shown to be a veneer each character used to hide their true feelings (and yes, I know Shaw was supposed to be a sociopath; she maybe the diagnosis was wrong, or maybe she grew as part of her character arc). The finale, with the final fate of the characters revealed, had every character meeting a logical fate.
I admit that my love of the subject matter in the cases of Voltron and PoI may be influencing my opinions, but I feel that if either of these franchises had produced crap, I would see it for such. Of course, the above was my opinions, and your mileage may vary.
I’ve been tinkering with Dungeon World and the two-page RPG Adventurers! RPG. Last Saturday, I was at my FLGS talking to an old friend who had more experience with DW, and I was explaining my issues with DW‘s lack of organization. I failed to convey to him that I am interested in tinkering with the system on a pretty deep level. When the subsystems are scattered throughout the book, it can be difficult tinker with things and know how it will affect balance and game play. But he did follow my rambling enough to convey to me how DW is not good for long running campaigns like we tend to run in our home game.
So, later that day, as I was looking at adding things from A! into DW, eventually I realized:
Why use Dungeon World as the core system and not Adventurers!?
And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I was looking at eliminating classes and the pseudo-Vancian spellcasting of DW, and I realized it would be easier to add the things I like out of DW and mix them into A!. I think this is going to result in rebuilding the A! system, as it is a three attribute system, and I like having six attributes (especially as they use two physical stats and one mental, like the Cypher System), as well as some other minor issues. But I think I can work it out pretty easily. And then again, I may be kidding myself. I think two systems with the same dice mechanic can be mixed-and-matched in some respects and work together.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this round. Later.
There was no post last week, not because I went to see a presidential candidate (I wish) but rather because my left shoulder locked up. A pinched nerve flared up, and I avoided my laptop as much as possible all this last week. I could think of at least seven reasons for the problem, but why (except the lack of exercise) is really irrelevant. I was unable to move my arm without pain and didn’t want to stress it more by dealing with the laptop.
Last Tuesday, I went to one of those mall massage storefronts (I don’t want to type “parlor” 🙂 ), and the masseuse there managed to get my back loosened up enough that my body was able to do the rest. I’m just getting full range of movement back, but there’s still some (tolerable) pain.
Sunday, instead of finishing this post, I watched The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, loaned to me by one of my Thursday night group. It was a lot of fun, and hit a lot of the notes I’ve seen from gamers in my nearly 40 years of gaming. I could see myself in a couple of the characters, and other friends in other characters. The appearances by the gaming industry folk and the support they gave the movie was great. Two thumbs up on the movie.
I’ve also realized I’ve come to an understanding the OSR movement, finally. I don’t get the reminiscing that I see in that group, but I understand the desire for simpler games. This realization dawned on me as I was reading Adventurers! by GRAmel. It’s an extremely simple RPG (as evidenced by the “an RPG on 2 Pages” tagline), very similar to Dungeon World. I could easily see mixing and matching the two systems, especially as I’m considering rewriting the core of Dungeon World after my outline of the system.
My gaming currently is also contributing to this thinking. The amounts of accounting and combat slog in 4e is really beginning to get to me. The various distractions at the home game don’t help (being a 14-year-old who wants to ignore all non-combat activity and his adult brother coming in and ranting about his day, ignoring that the rest of us are in the middle of something else), but the general tediousness of the game is at the core. And the FLGS game is no better, as we’re epic level, and there are a large number of us, so combat gets bogged down to one or two rounds a night.
I want to be able to do faster encounters. I want more story, again. I’m getting bored with the games I’m in right now. I need a change. And the streamlined nature of Adventurers! and Dungeon World seem to provide that. For now.
Anyway, I need to head off towards bed. Gotta drive tomorrow.
Last post needed to include a couple of events that I neglected. Well, one that I can remember right at the moment. The Smalls and I went out and saw Captain America: Civil War, which as has been commented elsewhere was basically the unannounced Avengers 2.5 movie. That’s not a bad thing, nor can I think of any connection to gaming, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Probably because that’s the point I felt this current creative streak started.
I also watched Pacific Rim. It had some neat ideas, particularly the explanation as to why the mechs/”jagers” required two pilots. However, it also had impossibeasts. While that’s part of anime, I really find them frustrating in all the artwork I see on Pinterest. To define “impossibeast,” I mean those impossibly large monsters that are most kaiju, as well as many large dragons in artwork. Get much bigger than a dinosaur like an apatosaurus, and their ability to move, much less consume enough calories to get the nerve impulse down a foot of tissue, becomes impossible. My mind has a lot of trouble suspending disbelief when encountering those crazy things.
That influences my thinking on creatures in my settings. So, the StarSea will have no creatures larger than a dinosaur, nor will the Reincarnated setting. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s something I want to keep track of. Of course, since I dislike the idea so much, I doubt I need the reminder, but it is part of my personal mission statement.
I actually did the analysis of the Dungeon World system last weekend. I ended up with about 4 pages of condensed notes, and those got me going on ideas for the StarSea. Mostly, I was considering ideas for how to work Corruption with the DW system (and likely, by extension, any Apocalypse World-based ruleset. I just need to figure out some of the details, but the idea that there are some actions/moves anyone can take, I was able to cobble together a basic idea.
In regards to the Reincarnated setting, I did come to the conclusion that I’m going to want to add in alternate realities. That’s part of the Corum books and part of Age of Sigmar, both major inspirations for the setting (there’s even a bit of that in the Forgotten Realms where the Salvatore book I got the initial idea from). I haven’t much planned anything yet, but I think it’s a necessity. Maybe part of the plotline is to find allies in other worlds, or maybe the other worlds will show the players what will happen if they continue to lose to the Invader Gods.
Anyway, it’s now late and I need to get up in the morning, and I need to get the house shut down, so that’s all I’ll report.
So, this post was started last weekend, but with laundry, work (10 hour days being regular currently), Star Wars, and the holidays, I never managed to finish the post.
Like most, I have been to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I won’t be offering any spoilers, or much commentary, for a while. I enjoyed it, but I doubt this one will influence my setting. It might influence my storytelling, but not too much more. There’s really nothing new introduced into the setting, so I can’t see my setting growing from it.
This week’s post came from this comic:
Guns in fantasy games seem to really get to people. There were similar reactions to that player’s on the comic’s Facebook page. Some readers (including myself) were okay with the idea, and others freaked out and called foul play. I think I used to be in the “freaked out by guns in fantasy” camp, but I’m not so much any more. I think most folks problems are based on real world history, and how the muzzle velocity of the gun allowed the bullet to penetrate armor, eventually rendering armor impractical.
But not even Chris Perkins (the “DM to the Stars” WotC Creative Director) is in the “no firearms” camp, as in his Valoreign playtest setting he includes elven firearms. If you look at the weapon stats, it’s obvious that he’s treating the firearms as simply special effects for damage-inflicting mechanics. And the reality of the game is, hit points are ill-defined and unrealistic in most systems, much less D&D. That being so, the idea that adding guns to a story-oriented fantasy system is completely misguided, in my mind. More simulationist gaming will definitely want it, but that sort of game will likely have more clearly defined hit points and armor mechanics.
Which brings me back to an idea I discussed early on in the history of this blog, that RPGs are resource management systems with special effects overlaid. The special effects are what make our games and determine and shape our settings.
Related to this, I was listening some examples of Fate settings, particularly on some of The Tome Show episodes, and I was struck by the idea that I might have overcomplicated my thinking about how to deal with magic in the StarSea setting. If all PCs have magic, then outside of an aspect that determines their type of magic, they really shouldn’t need more system. Magic becomes the special effect of their actions as they determine. Little or no need for a lot of extras and other mechanical rulings to create the setting.
I still probably won’t be using Fate, as I don’t think my players will get the hang of the fate point economy. That’s at least partially because I have trouble priming that pump myself. But also I think the kids will have problems with creating and accepting the “bad stuff” that is necessary to keep the flow going. I still like the system, and hope to use it in the future.
On that note, a couple of weeks ago, while reading some of the Age of Sigmar stuff, I got inspired to create more of the Reincarnated Heroes campaign idea I had commented on back in November. (The quick recap: Heroes of Good are defeated by Evil, but are reincarnated because Evil cheated the laws of the cosmos.) One of my players said when I mentioned the idea “That’s a cool idea. I like that. Build that.” I have the beginnings of ideas for the villains (barbarians following some dark god, kinda like the Bloodsworn of AoS, or the madben Denledhyssi followers of Glandyth-a-Krae in the Corum books). I considered using 4e and the defiling rules from Dark Sun, but upon reexamining those rules, I determined they are too weak. That only allies are injured makes no sense, and the amounts of damage for the pay-off is too much. Less damage against all creatures would make more sense. I could probably use another system, but I’d probably want to find a different cheat that Evil used that allows the heroes to come back to fix their past mistakes. Or, I need to go with a different reason for the heroes’ reincarnation.
I haven’t really thought too much about the StarSea lately, and that’s a good thing. When I get back to it, I’ll be refreshed. Or so I hope.
Anyway, it’s late and I need to go. No work tomorrow, but I don’t need to be up much longer. Later.
I was kind of at a loss for a title, so forgive me for so meaningless a title.
I was able to unclench after last week, but with one exception, I can’t remember what I was going to discuss. I started a post that was really just ending up a big pity-party after last weekend. I’ve decided that the draft is going to stay that way, or get ‘ported out into another program, but it will not be posted. I see no need.
One of the items I was going to discuss from last week was watching the previews from the upcoming DC Comics animation, JLA: Gods and Monsters. The idea is that the places of the DC Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) are replaced with other characters from the DC Universe, and they are very different. I felt these clips had a very “Watchmen” feel, being more gritty and dark, rather than the bright, hopeful world the DC Universe is usually seen as.
After watching the three videos (Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman here), I got to thinking how I’d like to do a game like that. Everybody selects a hero and warps that hero into something different. Even something like the Tangent Universe would work.
But I’m trying to avoid distractions from the StarSea, so this idea will just sit in the back of my mind and percolate.
I managed to finally complete assembly on my bard figure for our LFR games. I need to paint him now, but I’m vacillating a lot on his color scheme. He’s sort of based on Corum and Jhary-a-Conel, which might imply a good deal of red, but I’ve done red a lot in my figures, and I’d like to do something else. What I want to do is take some photos and try coloring him on the computer, but I keep forgetting to take pictures while I’ve got him out the game.
Caught the season finale of Game of Thrones, and like some others, I think I’m done with the series. I cannot think of a world that so deserves to be destroyed. I can live with characters being killed, but it seems that all of the characters with any knowledge of the threat to the world and any chance of saving the world are being killed off as well as those who deserve it. Except the ones that really do. The villains are winning, and with them, the evil will rise. Let it all burn. I won’t bother with witnessing it. I just don’t care any more. In fact, that’s almost more the problem: I’m now so apathetic about the remaining characters that I see no reason to watch any more. So fuck it. I’m done.
Yesterday was Free RPG Day. I finally got a chance to play Numenera, a game I kickstarted a few years ago. I read the rules when I got them, but I never played the game, and I set it aside a few months ago when I became disenchanted with d20-based games. In playing it, I find that my issues with d20 play have a possible solution.
To revisit quickly what my issues are with a d20, the additive nature of the d20 systems usually published means the die is grossly important at low levels, where bonuses are low, and virtually unimportant at high levels, when bonuses are so high that most challenges are overcome before the die is even rolled.
The Cypher System, which is what the core dice-rolling mechanics for Numenera and the Strange (the second game in the line) is called, deal with the issue by having the GM simply set the difficult of something, and then the player has ways of shifting the difficulty downwards, and then you roll to beat the final difficulty.
Outside of the pre-gen I was playing being poorly built, the game played well. I always felt the possibility of failure, but it never seemed hopeless or too easy. The threats of the enemy’s seemed appropriate at every turn. I really enjoyed the game, if not the character.
[An explanation: The character I was given was a strongly Dex-based warrior-type, having a high Speed stat, a power chosen to increase defense when without armor, and the ability to do Speed-based things easily. The character’s equipment included armor, shield, and a heavy weapon. So, a fast character with nothing but hampering gear. I don’t blame the GM; he simply used the pre-gens that came with the adventure. I blame the adventure’s writer and editor for missing such a poorly designed character.]
The second game I played was the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, the newest set being based on the adventure path called Wrath of the Righteous. It was a very short game, being a simple introduction to the game for new players who had never played. I was a little disappointed with the brevity, as it meant I was free hours earlier than I expected to be. But I hung out for a while before leaving. I was interested in the game as I thought it would be something I would be able to play with the kids. I think the Boy will like it, if we ever play.
As to the freebies, I picked up the Wyrd Minis Into the Breach Quickstart and the Catalyst Games Valiant Universe RPG Quickstart. I also got the free Goblin character for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Sadly, I wasn’t interested in many of the others. Too many OSR clones. The only other one I feel I missed was the 13th Age book, but I expect they’ll put it up for download eventually, so I’ll pick it up then.
I haven’t taken the time to do the research on weapons in Fate at this point. I’ve been working a lot, and when I get home, there’s always other things on my mind. I’m slowly parting from Kings Road, as I’ve finished the story adventures, and that leaves just trudging through the grind and gaining “levels” for no apparent purpose. So, I’m bored with the game at this point, and I’ll probably drop it soon. I’ll try to turn that time back to the StarSea.
I think that’s enough for now. I need to finish my laundry and get to bed for work tomorrow. So…
If you read my last posting, you read about how I’m having difficulty focusing. This post has been a couple of weeks in process, but my inability to focus is (figuratively) killing me. I can’t seem to stay on task much the past couple of weeks.
It might have to do with a job interview I had on the 15th. I was very aware of when the appointment was, etc. Like I was anxious, but without nerves. The initial call was very regimented, not more casual and flexible like most employers. I was given an appointment time, not asked what was good for me, etc. I felt like the interview and my distraction were related, but I can’t tell you why. Now, five days later, and I don’t believe they really were. I’m still very distractible, and I don’t know why.
I was going to rant about some personal stuff, but after writing it, I looked at it and said, “Why? This really doesn’t belong here.” Aren’t you glad I edit myself?
So, to the meat of my posting…
Divine Characters and Gods – A couple of weeks ago, after my last serious post, I was working my way through the second Corum novel, Queen of Swords. Moorcock used the priesthood of the gods of Chaos in a rather interesting way I’ve never seen in an RPG. The clerics in this book were truly tools of the gods. The first novel is called Knight of Swords, and the story revolves around how the gods of Chaos have defeated the gods of Law some while back, and this is what allows humanity to rise to power and exterminate Corum’s people. Corum defeats the titular god of Chaos. That being said, you can see who the villain of second novel is, and as said goddess can’t make herself known on the plane due to the rules of the Cosmic Balance, she uses the Knight’s priests, empowering them to create upheavals, and thereby draw people to Chaos (“Only Chaos can protect you from the upcoming troubles! The gods of Law are too weak!”). Magic is used to back up their claims.
I can’t think of a time in which I’ve ever seen a DM actually hand the word of a god to a PC, or seen a group of evil cultists being anything other than psychopaths. Even though this god-mortal interaction is only commented on in two or three chapters, it struck me. DMs seem to more often than not simply make sure the cleric is doing things that make sense for that character’s god, but do little in the way of having the god actually nudge the character down a path that furthers the god’s goals. I think that’s something I’ll be investigating the next time I run a more traditional fantasy game. (More later.)
Movies – I also caught a few movies that I felt I would comment on, as each had an impact on my mind.
Jupiter Ascending – I caught this one at the local cheap theater. I’m glad I saw it on the big screen, but I’m also glad I saw it at the cheap theater. It wasn’t an especially good plotline, and in fact the plot had holes you could fly a solar system through. The effects were cool, and it looked good on the screen, but the story was weak, and some of the performances were overdone. It had some neat ideas for tech, but some of the animal people were a bit silly. I’ll probably buy it on DVD when it becomes available.
Birdman – I think this one only won the Oscar because the Screen Actor’s Guild understood the movie. The movie is about an actor acting and directing and producing, and I don’t think many of us on the outside really get it. Even after watching the “Making of” featurette on the DVD, there were confusing things about the movie and plotline. I also hated the Jazz drums-only sound track. I bought the DVD, and anyone who reads this blog is welcome to it; you need only ask. It’s nothing I want to keep in my collection.
Avengers 2 – Well, of course I saw Avengers 2! Great fun! I think the Black Widow controversy is mainly from folks who haven’t watched Agent Carter and didn’t get what Natasha saw in her “chaos magic” spawned dream. I enjoyed seeing the vision on screen, as well as all the little hints about his connection to Wanda. With the little bit of hinting about CA:Civil War, I’m interested in seeing how they’ll handle the end of that one.
Games on consignment – I spent a couple of days working on checking prices and getting some of my old games, as well as some that Roger left behind, out of the house. They were taking up space. These were books I’d taken into Crazy Squirrel‘s Game Swap Meet a couple of times, but they never sold. This time, a couple of items have sold and made me a little money. As well, we had a rainstorm around that time, and I discovered some of the bins of fabric Roger had left behind had fallen over and broke. I took some time to dig through those as well, and start to get then out of the storage, which is no longer secure from weather. I have a lot more to do on that mark, but it’s getting warmer and more difficult to work outside. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make the time to get more of the stuff cleaned out of the greenhouse/storage.
Campaign Ideas – I’ve been thinking about games I’d like to run, in addition to the StarSea (more in a moment). Here’s a list. Some of these would likely work well for the D&D for Kids game, as I’m running out of adventures for them.
- Neverwinter – Both the Encounters season and the stuff from the sourcebook. I have the Encounters module still, and I really enjoyed the plotline. However, I doubt the kids would enjoy it, because of the politics. They just like beating up enemies. A superhero game might work better.
- Heroes of the Feywild – Again, using the Encounters season, as I have that one also. This idea might be good for the next D&D for Kids campaign, including the cool character creation extras. I could expand out that Encounters season, but that would be a lot more work than Neverwinter, as I would be creating from whole cloth.
- Scales of War – This one looks like a cool campaign that I’d enjoy running. Has a cosmic level of doings, with Tiamat warring with Bahamut and the ensuing chaos. Wouldn’t work for the kids, but would probably work for our Wednesday Night game (which may be moving to Thursdays, but I’m hoping not).
- The Swords Trilogy – Well, not exactly Corum’s world, but close. If I pull the entire setting and plotline, it would look something like this: The world would be a faerie tale, idyllic world to start, with a barbarian race coming in to destroy what the PCs hold dear. The PCs escape, and find themselves allying with another nation that is next on the barbarians’ hit list. The gods are silent to start, until the PCs learn that those gods have been barred from the world by the evil gods. This is due to some force the PCs learn they have to undo or reverse, probably by defeating the some servants of the evil gods. There should be some mention of the influence of the evil gods towards making the world a darker place, swaying mortals to unleash their dark sides (as mentioned above, in the first part of this post). That might be something to link to the Feywild game mentioned above.
These are, at present, all 4e campaign ideas. I’ve thought about the idea, as well, of running these as Fate games, using the Freeport supplement to give me the fantasy and magic rules. I’m thinking I need to do something like that at some point anyway. It would get my players used to the rules for StarSea, assuming I don’t go nuts at some point and drop Fate.
Regarding that last statement, I have thought about that lately. Again, I’m looking at tinkering with the Fate system more, at a deeper level. I’ve already mentioned changing the Advancement System, and building my own. As I listen to the Critical Hit podcast Fate superhero game, or I think about things like lightsabers (which I’m also thinking of removing from the game; sometimes you have to kill your babies, and this is one of those), I’m thinking I may need to tinker with how combat works. I like having combat in my games, as do the kids (although they may outgrow that). The point of using Fate was to avoid doing so much tinkering. Of course, there’s nothing I don’t tinker with, gaming-wise, so maybe I’m just being foolish and finding reasons to distract me. But if the system really won’t do what I want…
Then again, the Cypher System setting-neutral book will be out this summer. Maybe I need to re-examine my feelings about that system, as that was where I was going to start pulling ideas from for my Fate concerns. Or maybe I need to look at alternate Fate games that tinker with those rules. There are lots of ways of dealing with this. I just need to start looking into rules systems, again.
Gaming Careers podcast – I started listening to this podcast a couple of weeks ago. I’m really enjoying it, even the shows that I’m not especially interested in (i.e. the video game episodes). It’s sparking some creative ideas, and giving me insights into how to get into the industry part-time. As one of the other podcasters I listen to said, “Do you want to be a publisher or published?” I want to be published infinitely more than be a publisher. In fact, I have no desire or inclination to be a publisher, at all. It seems like a lot of number-crunching and such I don’t want to deal with.
So, after three weeks, that’s about it. I think that’s more than enough. Later.