Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Comic Book Day! Issue #8 Childhood Revisited

Just a short post on this Comic Book Day.  Watched the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.  The cut does play Zod and his cohorts for fewer laughs, but there are still a few "non-Superman-isms" in the movie that don't sit quite right with me.  The worst part of the film is the fact that the Donner cut actually re-commits the worst sin of the first movie, i.e. Superman fixes stuff he doesn't like by turning back time.

Overall it breaks even with the theatrical version, and the main reason it still has a warm spot in my jaded comic book soul is that Christopher Reeve really does look the part, and because it's still the only Superman movie where he gets a decent fight with some supervillains.

What's that?  A Superman IV you say?  I think that's just a myth.  Nope.  Never seen it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Comic Book Day! Issue #7: I Can't Form Words!

There is so much I could talk about today relating to comic books, but all of it pales in comparison for a gamer geek like me, in the face of the following news:

The DC Adventures Heroes and Villains Volume One PDF is out!

I can't even begin to say who I'm most excited about having the stats for, especially since I might telegraph something to my DCA players.

Woot!  Woot!  A million times woot!

Edit:  I take that back.  I am most excited about having Ambush Bug's stats.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Games in Review, June 20th, 2011

Once again, all of this gaming goodness would not be possible without that awesome Armored Gopher Games, best game store ever!

Armored Gopher Games, Urbana, Illinois

Now, with the preliminary thank yous and shout outs in place, on to the actual recaps!

Last Tuesday was my DC Adventures game.  Hoo boy was it.

The party ended up separated due to Fahrenheit panicking when Myrmidon attempted to "help" him into confronting his fears on Zandia.  Fahrenheit gets tracked down by the White Wizard, which is fine with him, because he's ready to confront Waller.

After blasting the Top really good, and in return getting his bell rung by Conduit, Fahrenheit threatens to bleed all over Task Force X unless he gets to talk to Waller.  Fortuitously the rest of the team shows up not long after his request, and after being introduced to Waller's newest "reformed" allies, Mister Freeze and Major Force, the group decided to let Marathon cut off Waller's air flow until they got some answers.

She handed over a file that told the group that they had all died of terminal illnesses, and were brought back to life by some experimental Apokalips technology.  Fahrenheit is skeptical, Marathon is livid, and everyone else is really wondering what the heck is going on.  But they all leave . . .

Just in time to meet Wonder Girl's mom, grab some magic Greek artifacts  (including the dragon's teeth that Cadmus used to grow his armies), and the group was off to follow the magic sextant off to the "mysterious" island.  Learning the island is Themyscira, Steve Trevor tells the group he'll provide the transport with the DMA invisible helicopter, and the group is confronted on the airstrip by . . .

Black Adam!  Who offers to put them somewhere safe while the Reckoning destroys the world so that they can help him rule over and protect the chosen few that he saves to repopulate the Earth.  Unfortunately, Necromancer didn't recognize Black Adam, and the rest of the table has their first WTF moment of the night . . . "I shoot him in the face."

I'd like to say that Necromancer made a good accounting of himself, but Black Adam didn't even flinch.  Thankfully, Paradox is really good at talking, and he manages to calm Black Adam down with a polite refusal and apology.  Black Adam tells them they are doomed, but he may still claim them if they he sees them in a moment of weakness before the Reckoning.

Steve Trevor gives the party instructions on Amazon etiquette, mainly, don't look at anything that might get them in trouble and bow and scape.  Apparently Myrmidon didn't quite comprehend, because upon arriving on the island, he takes offense at Artemis' vehement orders, and dumps the teeth on the beach, unleashing an army of undead soldiers loyal to Myrmidon's father . . .

Yup.  Ares.  Cliffhanger time.  Most of the party is ready to kill Myrmidon, they just need to figure out if it's a figurative or literally death they are planning.

And, for the second gaming night of the week, I'm once again filling in for my friend while he's got some scheduling difficulties and our Shackled City Pathfinder RPG game is on hold.  Last Thursday I ran a Western Horror/Horrible Western one shot.

This time around I found some really nice screen inserts, as well as some nice combat summary player handouts:

The group was playing a band of outlaws that had settled down in a town called Dusk, and nearly given up their criminal ways, when an corrupt marshal tracked them down and held the whole town hostage.  In his fervor to get back at the criminals he'd been tracking for so long, he killed all of the townsfolk he rounded up, and then our outlaw "heroes" took care of the marshal.

The party starts out making some survival checks after wandering the desert  (which HollowerFollower's character managed to fail).  They get surrounded by some other outlaws, hoping to get pardoned and collect a bounty on them, and gunfire ensues.  And wounds.

They meet a mysterious figure named Gabe, wander into a town named Revelation, and they end up in a replica of Dusk's brothel, complete with acid weeping undead prostitutes, which the group promptly shoots dead . . . er . . . redead?

They find a holy water font outside of the church in town, take Gabe's advice to dip their weapons in holy water, and meet their old friend the blacksmith, who dissolves into a red mist that tries to kill them.  Oddly, one of the outlaws, that always aims for the head, was a bit confused at where to aim on the red mist.

In the replica of Dusk's tavern, the group runs into a town load of walking  (and hungry) dead, and the group seems to do fairly well mowing down one side of the bar.  Then the Irish brawler punches the head off of one of the zombies, but is within snacking distance of the other half of the zombies, and, well, because lunch.

So, last week, HollowerFollower's character took brain damage, lost an eye, and his ability to reproduce.  This week, he got eaten.  Thankfully, I had extra pregens floating around, so another member of the gang happened into town.

In the church, they found the Marshal they killed, and found out that he made a deal with the devil to get one more chance to send his enemies to Hell before he had to go himself.  The group, however, prevailed and shot him dead . . . again.

Then they were confronted with a man in black named Lou, and Lou offered them a deal, but the group decided to try and walk the straight and narrow and do some work for Gabe instead of returning to a life of crime.

I had a lot of fun, once again, running this one shot, and the players were a blast.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night, No Movie Shall Escape My Sight . . .

I saw Green Lantern last night, with the family.  A lot of fun, especially since my wife handed me a Green Lantern mask and ring and told me I had to wear them when we went to the movie.  We went the to the always delightful Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City, Illinois:

Harvest Moon Drive-In

Thankfully I had no problem calling her bluff.  The best part of the night was going into the concession stand and talking with the nice woman working the counter.  I explained to her that my lovely wife had issued a challenge, and she said it was perfectly alright as long as I was okay with her not being able to look me in the eye.
Thankfully, I wasn't the only one appropriately dressed.

Now, about that movie . . .

I am trying to be as objective as possible in discussing this movie.  I will admit that I was not thrilled with Ryan Reynolds being cast as Green Lantern.  I also think that the early ads tried to showcase Reynolds' signature snarky humor a lot more than they should have.

I'll also say that I do think that the movie crammed a lot into one movie.  Very easily it could be regarded as too much into one movie.  Hector Hammond and Hal's initial training could have been one movie in and of itself, Parallax and the corps another.

Finally, there were about two, maybe three parts of the movie where I was scratching my head a bit because there seemed to be a disconnect between what happened between scenes, or at least the logic behind what ended up happening.

However, with all of the above said, I don't really know why this movie is being reviewed so badly.  I'm not expecting it to get acclaim and ovation, I'm just not sure why.  If people were just saying that they wished it had done X or Y better, I could understand. But it's like this movie has given review the green light  (so to speak) to dive into massive hyperbole mode.

It's an average movie, bumped up a notch on the "worth seeing" list if you have any interest in comics in general and DC and Green Lantern specifically.  If you are a fan of Green Lantern, there isn't much of a reason to be upset by this movie.  It's not a bad translation, even if it could have been better.

Now, I also realize that some of the reasons this movie wasn't as good as it could have been aren't of much concern to reviewers.  This movie had to:

1.  Introduce Green Lantern  (Hal Jordan)

2.  Introduce the Green Lantern Corps concept, including the metric crap ton of DCU aliens involved

3.  Begin slowly introducing the wider DCU  ("why hello there Amanda Waller")

4.  Seed some future Green Lantern stories

5.  Provide a big bang to prove that other DC heroes can carry a movie

Given the figures thus far for Green Lantern, the Flash and Justice League projects may not be as certain as one may have liked.  It's a bit disappointing, and perhaps, in retrospect, Flash would have been a better expansion point that a huge mythos like the Green Lantern Corps.

I also could be very, very wrong about this, but I'm wondering if announcing that "Everything you Know Will Change in a Flash" wasn't just a catchy phrase for Flashpoint, but also the new guiding principle for the rebooted DC Universe didn't slow down some of the built in base the movie may have had among the normally geek inclined.

I have to admit, I was less than enthusiastic a week ago.  The fact that my wife and children planned this expedition for Father's Day, as well as my general returned enthusiasm for the semi-current DCU due to my DC adventures game caused me to rethink my cynicism and enjoy the film.  I'm glad that I did.

Final Jibe:  I did hear at one time that this script was going to be based on Emerald Dawn.  Honestly, that is probably a much more film friendly origin story than the somewhat Secret Origins version of Hal's origin that this movie seemed to try and draw inspiration from.  Just a thought.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Comic Book Day #6: A Bold New Direction, And Also Audience Participation

Hello all!

In my ongoing, generally futile effort to remain as positive as possible, I'm switching gears.

I'm trying to find some comic books to read that fit my tastes.  My general interest, in case anyone missed it, runs along the line of DC style books.  In other words, somewhat detached from reality, more legendary in scope.  Not that I don't like comics that do dip into "reality + super powers" once in a while.

So, I'm asking anyone that reads this blog, that is somewhat versed in modern comics, for some suggestions about what comics to pick up.

I'll be interested to see the suggestions people come up with, and as always, I'll be thrilled to hear from all (handful) of my readers . . .

Edit:  In case the irony didn't come through, I'm not really planning a bold new direction.

Edit, The Sequel:  I'm hoping to post a fashion show of new costumes eventually, but its not happening this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Games in Review, June 13th, 2011

Its time for the Monday recap of last week's gaming.  Last week this time consisting of me GMing my Pathfinder Council of Thieves Adventure Path campaign, still be run at the good old Armored Gopher Games, also known as the best game store ever.

So the group ended the last session having shut down three of the four cooling towers of the infernal engine under the Lord Mayor's ruined mansion.  Heading to the fourth one, there was a hiccup in the plans.  The cooling basin was broken, and there's a psychotic river Styx water elemental in the room.

The elemental continued the theme of "things that cause you to need to use some form of Restoration," as being an elemental made of Styx water, it caused negative levels.  The elemental also introduced another new theme for the latter half of this adventure, that of having a rather low will save for something in an 8th-9th level adventure.

Between the oracle and the bard, the elemental never had a chance.  On the other hand, the PCs had a hard time using the Keyrod to shut down the cooling tower without loosing the Keyrod, so they moved on to the next tower, with the intent of backtracking to this one after the fifth one was shut down.

Of course, secret doors are really enticing.  The PCs wandered through a few of those after they found the fifth cooling tower and shut it down.  One had a Rakshasa that wanted to perform a play and then gang anyone watching the play.  But Chesterfield had the contract for the place, and the whole group was wary, so she never got to make her performance.

Still, the group meanders on before they go back to cooling tower four.

Look, a meeting of gargoyles.  The gargoyles were brought into the Nessian Spiral due to their resistance to fire, "employed" by Darghentu Vheed  (the lich that was the temporary demise of the party rogue).  Again, having a bard with a contract, and a party willing to not attack, helps out a lot.

The group finally shut down the fourth cooling tower before returning to the secret passages and the inward spiraling path that leads to the Pit Fiend Liebdaga.  The polar worm above is standing in for a behir, which the sorcerer blasted with magic missiles, and yet it still fell victim to the dreaded will save.  So the behir curled up in the corner purring after "realizing" that the group wandering through the ruins was actually "friendly."

Hey, look!  Its a construct!  You know what that means . . . no enchantment effects for this fine specimen of stone guardian.  Still, the bard put out the braziers on either side of the stone guardian, which shut down its fast healing, and the paladin jumped in front of his friends to defend them from its breath weapon, and then it was slowed  (because, you know, stone guardian, not golem).

Respectable monster that actually got a few slams in on the paladin, of all people.  The guy that has the equivalent of the Endor force field around him.  And if it hadn't been slowed, it would have had more attacks to spread around.  Ouch.

Eventually the group runs into a very powerful inevitable that sits in the dungeon enforcing the contract with the pit fiend.  Thankfully, the group had the contract, and on top of that, they made a good enough impression that it was willing to share a few details about the pit fiend, including the talisman that the PCs didn't find in the Hall of Mirrors that will likely help them out quite a bit later on.

Next up, a sorceress Medusa.  I like monsters that can do something "iconic" while still doing something else, so no matter how nasty it might be, I do like the Medusa and her gaze attack.  That having been said, I had a bit of a mental blip trying to remember all of the rules on gaze attacks, and for some reason, my "look up fu" seems to have slowed down quite a bit, as I used to be pretty fast finding rules that I couldn't remember fully.

The encounter still went pretty well, and fairly smoothly after one of my players graciously found the answers I couldn't seem to find due to my brain lock.  It actually worked out to be pretty fun, with the dwarf Hellknight and the Paladin hedging in the Medusa in the corner and using a table to provide cover for the rest of the party so they could safely enter the room.

The Paladin still got fried a bit by the medusa's scorching rays.  All in all, it was a bad night for the paladin, compared to some of the other sessions where he managed to walk through legions of sharp pointing things unscathed.

The party answered some riddles that magically lock the inner sanctum of the Nessian Spiral, and we all had a bit of a laugh,  because the "riddles" sounded less like riddles and more like trivia questions about the adventure to see of the players were paying attention.  The group waited to open the final lock because they wanted to cast as many protective and boosting spells as possible before they go in.

All in all, a fun night with a nice cliffhanger.  I just wish a few of the more of the bad guys had a shot at making Will saves.  Oh, and if you are going to have a trap with molten gold in it, assume the players will find some way to extract the gold and figure it into the treasure.

Oh, before I forget, I'm starting to get a handle on this whole Epic Words site and making the campaign page do what I want it to do.  I'm really excited about using this site, so, without further ado, here is the site for my DC Adventures campaign, which I'm running tomorrow night:

Earth 52 (DC Adventures Campaign)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Making of Aliens Versus Predators: The Savage Worlds One Shot

Blue_Hill was kind enough to be interested in the notes I went with when setting up my Aliens Versus Predator Colonial Space Marine Savage Worlds one shot two Thursday nights ago.  I'm going to share the process, but the beauty and the sad truth is, I didn't have to do much to get this game up and running.  Its one of the things I really do like about Savage Worlds.

The Plan

Wednesday night, when I told my friend, GM of our Shackled City game, that I could try and throw together a Savage Worlds one shot so everyone had something to play, I decided to scan the internet to see what Savage Worlds conversions were out there to trip my imagination.  I've got the core rules, and a few Hellfrost books, but I really didn't want to try and condense Hellfrost into a demo.  Its really a setting designed for a more standard long term high fantasy campaign.

I came across this site:

Savage Heroes

From there, the conversion that jumped out at me for a fun one shot was this particular one:

Aliens versus Predator

The most time consuming part of this process was making up the pregenerated characters.  I printed out character sheets, and then built each character based on the professional edges listed in the Aliens versus Predator conversion document, which made it easier, as I was just building characters to fit the edge requirements.

For the scenario itself, I really did just have a rough outline.  Here is how it went, and it took me only a few minutes to throw it together.

1.  PCs land at landing zone one hour march from settlement.

2.  If the PCs come back to the drop ship, they can resupply their ammo.  If they come back without having encountered the Predator, then the pilot and co-pilot will be dead, leaving clues to where the predator took them as trophies, off into the forest.

3.  For each section of the settlement the PCs enter, I draw a card.  A face card indicates an encounter.  A jack is a damaging environmental effect that can be shut down by repairing machinery.  Any other face card indicates alien drones equal to 2 x the number of PCs sneaking up on the PCs through the air vents.  A joker means that aliens sneak up on the PCs, and once combat starts, the predator sneaks up on the PCs and starts to pick off whichever side is winning the encounter.

4.  The settlement building consists of the opening hallway, the medical wing, the wildlife preserve, the lift down, the second level living quarters (left and right wing), the lowest level hallway and the power core.

5.  The medical wing has four people in cryosleep, all injured, two infested with chestbursters.  No other planned encounters unless the cards say so.  I benny each for each saved settler, per PC  (i.e. taking the cryosleep pods out of the facility).

6.  The wildlife preserve has 2 x the number of PCs in facehuggers trying to sneak up on them and infest them, plus any encounter indicated on the cards.

7.  The lift can only have a "damaging effect" encounter, or a "damaging effect encounter" and the predator if a joker is pulled.

8.  Living quarters on both sides are empty.  Encounters if the cards indicate encounters, plenty of room for investigation and clues for the next area, mainly that anyone still alive is down further and that there are even bigger aliens waiting.

9.  Lower level hallways filled with "webbed up" settlers.  Searching allows the PCs to find about a dozen still alive, and about half in need of medical attention if they survive.  There are twice as many settlers, but the other dozen are all beyond any help at all  (ready for chestbursters to shoot out).  Two more bennies for everyone if they attempt to save the webbed up settlers.

No planned encounters except what the cards indicate.

10.  Power core.  Alien Queen and two Praetorian aliens attack the PCs.  No other encounter unless a joker is drawn, in which case the predator shows up and jumps the winning side of the fight.

I was freehanding the rooms on paper when the group had an encounter, vaguely based on what I thought the room should look like with a reasonable amount of room for the encounter.  I was using Gaming Paper's singles:

Gaming Paper

Also, just for fun, I was using the NPC rule for ammo for the PCs, just to see what would happen.  That means that instead of tracking individual ammo, the PCs would have very high, high, low, or no ammo, and the ammo level would go down each time a PC draws a two for initiative.  Other PCs could lower their ammo level to increase someone else's, and a trip to the drop ship would refresh ammo levels one time and one time only.

I also only gave the PCs the standard Marine rifle  (sans the grenade launcher), or the heavy weapons guy got the big smartgun machine gun and a flame rifle.

The cards I was using for initiative were the standard Studio 2 Savage Worlds Action and Adventure Deck cards, although I was only using the "action" deck  (the normal cards):

Savage Worlds Action and Adventure Deck

One deck is the standard deck of cards that you use for just about anything, including Savage Worlds initiative, and the other deck is a set of player boons that they can play in a campaign to give themselves little edits to the game to work in their favor.  I decided not to use that deck for a one shot.  Seems better for full blown campaigns.

The Session

Now, how did this work?

First, I'm not sure the ammo levels thing had the desired effect.  I was picturing the whole "oh crap I'm out of ammo" feel of action horror films like Aliens, but it didn't quite work, and it also made me limit things like grenades just because the ammo level thing doesn't work well with unlimited grenades, for example.  Nothing game breaking, just didn't work the way I would have liked.

Now, remember, no adventure survives contact with the players.  To be honest, its what makes gaming worth gaming, and its what makes being the GM rewarding a lot of times. 

Instead of going into the settlement right off, my PCs wanted to explore the forest, maybe find a vehicle.  So I let them track vehicles into the wild, where they ran into the Predator right off the bat, and a fight ensued.  Half the team got tore up, but the medic, in particular, got hit hard, and even harder when a couple of d4 medical treatments were administered.  It was hilarious.

Since the predator was already dead right off the bat, the drop ship wasn't taken out.  The PCs went back to the carrier, and their Lieutenant orders them back down to the planet.  They tell the officer that the place looks deserted and there are vicious aliens, and he says aliens don't exist and they need to find the settlers.

Heading back down, they find the cryosleep settlers, decide to get them back to the carrier, run into aliens, and get tore up again, especially the medic, again. 

On the ship they argue with the Lieutenant that the settlers they woke up explained that most of the settlers were dead and the colony was infested with aliens.  The Lieutenant ordered them back down.  The sergent decides to shoot the Lieutenant rather than go back down, but doesn't because of the other marines on board.

The sarge then taunts the Lieutenant into coming down with them.  This is something I really like about Savage Worlds.  I wrote down the stats for a seasoned soldier from the core book, gave him one of the marine rifles, and handed him to one of the players to run, and it worked great.

Since the "negotiation" on the ship took a while, the group decided that since it was a one shot, they really did want a shot at the queen, so the group heads down straight to the queen in the power core, and they took her on.  Surprisingly no fatalities, due in no small part to the Lieutenant rolling really well on his attacks.

I will say that the fights felt like they ran faster, but I didn't seem to actually get more encounters out of 3.5 hours than I do out of Pathfinder.  That's not an indictment of Savage Worlds, because the fights did seem to move faster, and were a lot easier to run.  Plus, two big wild card encounters and a gaggle of aliens in one of the encounters, and it was pretty easy to keep track of it all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's Comic Book Day #5: In the Trenches

I was, at one time, going to point out that I actually felt a bit sorry for DC, and that my opinion of the reboot had softened a bit after I read a few articles about recent court rules involving Superman.  It's actually pretty clear that if something doesn't change on the legal front, Superman may actually be legally required to be rebooted, and predicated upon that thought, I started to understand this entire situation.

But then DC reminded me that they can take any bad situation and make it worse.  How can I sum up my feelings upon reading some of the "it's not a reboot reboot ideas?"

Yes, indeed.  I'm madder than a telepathic ape beating an artificially evolved ape to death with a disembodied brain that the artificially evolved ape was in love with.  If only we could all solve our problems the way Grodd can, life would be much more . . . well, violent to be honest.

First off, let's be positive, shall we?  I like Nightwing, and I've not been a fan of Dick as Batman Junior, especially now that Bruce is back.  Also, of all of the "not a reboot" Jim Lee costumes I've seen, this one is probably one of the least bothersome to me.

I'm probably just biased because in looking at the costume I didn't say either "who the hell is that suppose to be," or "they aren't seriously putting them in that costume, are they?"

However, one character that did make me say the latter was poor Black Canary, now missing her computer literate buddy Oracle on Birds of Prey.

I'm wondering if Jim Lee patented Fishnet Armor after he made this costume.  I have to say, the costume manages a feat that I did not think was possible.  It actually looks worse to me than Black Canary's "Legends" era 80's nightmare outfit.

I wish the artwork was the only thing making me opine that I was Grodd on a brain bashing bender.  Just the very title "Justice League Dark" causes me fall into a temporal paradox where me as a child is weeping reading an issue of Justice League Detroit and having a premonition that this won't be the worst Justice League concept ever.

The only thing better would be if every artist that draws John Constantine from now on is directed to make him look like Keanu Reeves.  Whoa . . .

Looks like I'm getting more millage out of this picture.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Games in Review, June 6th, 2011

It's time to look back on the last week of gaming!  First off, we had my DC Adventures/Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition game from Tuesday night. 

I don't know that I can do justice to the session the way two of my players have in their own blogs.  I've give the short form here, and set you up with some links in case you are interested in reading a much better synopsis.

The party ended up getting a call from their boss to fight Savitar at the Flash museum, ended up in the future, found out that they were in a dream, found a lost bunker related to the Reckoning that some of the bad guys keep mentioning, and in the end, found out that 4/5 members of the team register as Apocalypse/Human hybrids, and one registers as an Olympian/Human hybrid.

HollowerFollower's Recap

GopherDave's Recap

I tried something a bit different for this session.  Marathon doesn't sleep, so he was never going to get caught in Doctor Destiny's false future dream.  Before the session, I went over what Marathon would do when he found his friends, and the course his investigation would follow.  We rolled to see where he was at, and once the PCs figured out they were in a dream, we would start up with where Marathon was in the real world.

The Apokalips DNA swerve seemed to catch the players off guard, so it was fun to spring on them.  I am really enjoying this campaign, and I hope the players are all enjoying it as well.  They are really giving me a lot to work with and play off.

Thursday night's game night was a little different this week.  Our GM had a family emergency, so we talked the night before the session and he asked if I had anything I could run.  I told him I might be able to throw together a Savage Worlds one shot, and I went searching on the internet for what I was looking for.

Savage Heroes' Aliens Versus Predators Conversion

The Savage Heroes site has a lot of fan material for Savage Worlds, and for some reason, I felt like running a bunch of Colonial Space Marines through an alien infested terraformed planet.  To be honest, it was a pretty simple scenario, and the most amount of prep time was creating the pre-generated characters. 

It seemed like everyone had a lot of fun.  I made a few mistakes my first outing as a Savage Worlds GM, but nothing too drastic or game breaking.  HollowerFollower's marine managed to loose an eye, take brain damage, injure his guts, and loose his reproductive ability. 

We also learned that a d4 in healing can be a dangerous thing . . . "Sarge, quit helping!"  Also, yes, we had the spawn of GopherDave in the game, and he used his 40K space marine model for the session, in contrast to the very generic representational minis used in the session . . . ;)

 The session was a lot of fun, and I'm going to throw together a Western themed one shot for next Thursday, as our GM will still be having some scheduling difficulties.  Hopefully everyone will enjoy the session.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

So, What Else Do You Like?

Continuing in the tradition of trying to be as positive as I can, I'll go ahead and post another geeky thing that makes me happy.  While I've been getting a bit burned out on Pathfinder, I've been increasingly happy with my explorations into the Savage Worlds game.

When our Shackled City GM had an issue preventing him from running this Thursday, I threw together a Savage Worlds Aliens versus Predator game.  I'll go into more details on that when I do the Games in Review post on Monday, but despite a few hiccups, the game went really well and was a lot of fun.

For anyone that isn't familiar with Savage Worlds, it is a very simple, quick playing system.  You can emulate just about any genre, but for my tastes some are a better fit than others.  For example, I've played in a Savage Worlds super hero game, and while it was fun, I'd rather use something like Mutants and Masterminds if I really want to make a superhero that fits a very specific concept.

Basically, all attributes and skills have a die rating, i.e. you have, for example, a d8 strength, meaning any time you have to roll a strength check, you roll the d8  (and a d6, but I won't go too much into mechanics here, other than to say, the d6 is because you are a "special" character so you have essentially an extra "luck" die to replace lower rolls on your normal attribute). 

Somewhat like Mutants and Masterminds, there are no hit points or health, you just have a wound track to determine how hurt you are and if you have become incapacitated. 

If you can still find the $9.99 Explorer's Edition digest sized rules somewhere, pick them up, they are more than worth the paltry fee.  However, there is a new hardcover coming out in the next few months, and eventually there will be another digest sized rulebook to go with it, but Pinnacle, makers of the game, can't promise what price point the new digest sized rulebook will be at  (however, their digest sized Companion line has been about 19.99 . . . still worth it).

Depending on your play style and preferences, there may not be quite enough moving parts to keep you interested in a longer term campaign, but again, your millage may vary.  The system is very good at using for one shots and conventions, and given how easy the game is to get up and running, its doesn't seem like it would be too hard to run shorter story arc campaigns that allowed for genre switching once in a while.

Friday, June 3, 2011

So . . . What Do You Like?

Just wanted to pop in with a positive review of something that I rather enjoyed lately.  My taste in fantasy literature has changed a bit over time.  While I still love the days of yore recalling high fantasy novels with epic champions fighting super evil bad guys, sometimes you just need to diversify.

Couple this with the fact that its taken GRRM a while to finish his last novel, and I was fishing around for something fantasy based to read.  I looked around a lot of descriptions and even tried out a few different series before I finally settled on a book that really grabbed my attention and held it.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie is the first book of the First Law series of books.  Its not quite the textured "historical feeling but still epic fantasy feeling" setting that the SOIAF books have, but it does have a very unique voice.

The Union is an almost Renaissance feeling culture that is an amalgamation of smaller kingdoms of the past.  They fought a southerly empire in their recent past, and are on the verge of fighting northern barbarian types unified under a new, ambitious king.  The Union was first put together by a powerful meddling wizard, that modern Union citizens consider a myth.

The Union, in general, isn't a place where people believe in magic, and as a whole, the culture is atheist.  Despite this fact, there is an Inquisition that uses lots of religious terminology that is dedicated to preserving the safety of the kingdom.

While there isn't the web of ever widening interesting characters that the SOIAF books have, the core characters are interesting, but none of them really qualifies as your typical hero.  Lots of flaws, some politics  (though less, again, than SOIAF), and some brutal combat.

In the end, the characters were compelling and fun, despite some serious flaws in some of the protagonists.  If it helps, from other books I've read, this book falls somewhere between GRRM's books and Glenn Cook's Black Company books.  But I have to admit, while this book is certainly not upbeat, it manages to have some of the cynicism and visceral feel that the Black Company books have, without the constant resignation and malaise that seems to permeate Cook's books.

If you might like a book where magic is real, but rare, characters can be jerks but fun to read about, and you don't mind cultures that swing from Renaissance to iron age to medieval Middle Eastern, not to mention an ending that really doesn't end so much as lead full on into the next book, I'd recommend this book.  On my own FWIW scale, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5, with it loosing points mainly due to the fact that it really is just the first part of a big book, rather than a book that completes a significant story arc on its own.  Plus it does start out a bit slow, and doesn't hold the reader's hand too much when introducing the world.

The Blade Itself at Amazon

The Blade Itself at Audible

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Comic Book Day #4: I Call Shenanigans!

DC Comics sent out a press release explaining their post Flashpoint plans for the company, as well as sending out a letter to distributors.  The news has run with this, and DC Comics is getting non-geek media attention for this particular move.

According to DC they are rebooting the franchise to make some of the heroes younger, redesign the costumes to be more modern, and focus on interpersonal relationships as well as rooting their stories more in the real world.

While I don't doubt they are floating some trial balloons to see if a few items added or subtracted to various characters will be appealing to fans, I call shenanigans.  I don't this this is a real reboot.  I don't think this is a Crisis on Infinite Earths style reinvention.  I think this is a post Flashpoint gimmick in the vein of Brightest Day following Blackest Night, and except for a few things that DC identifies as working for them, the whole thing will fade in a year or less.

I could be wrong.  DC may really, honestly be planning on sticking with this continuity for more than an year, until they do Son of Infinite Final Crisis 2.  But I think they have done too many recent groundwork books to reboot permanently  (why reintroduce Swamp Thing and John Constantine to the DC continuity that is getting rebooted, when you can just reintroduce them after the reboot as part of the new continuity, for example).

I'm honestly thinking DC is much more likely keeping an eye out for some streamlining of origins, especially for the purposes of future movies, and trying out new costume elements to see how they are received, but other than that, the press release reads much like the "Superman is dead, and he's never coming back" press releases, or the "Batman is no longer Bruce Wayne, seriously, he's going to be Jean-Paul Valley from now on" press releases of days past.

In the meantime, I'm hoping Green Ronin's DC Adventures sourcebooks and even DC Universe Online keep some of the more classic elements alive until this thing Zero Hours out.